Bizarre Book Club 16: Space Mermaids, Sitcoms, Naked Friends And 20s Paris

Well, hello, glad you could drop in! There’s salsa on the table. OK, no there isn’t, could you pop out and get me some salsa? I’ll…pay you later…

Let’s dive in and look at the weird words that have drifted past my eyeballs the last few weeks.

naked-friends-justin-grimbolNaked Friends by Justin Grimbol. Not only does his surname sound like a crotchety troll living under a fallen log, but his book made me laugh out loud, or ‘lol’ as the unselfconscious say. Sure, it’s sometimes gross, quite juvenile and gamers will be sad at their portrayal (I’m sorry), but it really did tickle my funny bone.

It’s kind of a cross between The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time and Bored To Death in that the main character is an inept wannabe detective who advertises on Craigslist, but it’s definitely got it’s own feel. A feel that includes a layabout rich boy with three half naked girlfriends and a man called Boner who lives in his van.

2. Planet Mermaid by Leza Cantoral. Leza tickles my eyes with poetry and planet-mermaid-leza-cantoralimagination. However don’t let that fool you, this novelette has some pretty shocking things in it and I don’t recommend it unless you’re fairly robust.

I enjoyed the fact that mermaid cliches were turned on their head – the water is icy so their skin and hair is dull, there’s no rainbow colours or tropical seas here. It’s darkly fantastical and very beautiful, and I’m really looking forward to more word magic from her.

3. The Last Girlfriend On Earth by Simon Rich. You might recognise a number of these short stories from a recent sitcom called Man Seeking Woman. Indeed the massively imaginative, humorous pieces on lost love, finding love, unreasonable men and women were strung together to form the story line of a man navigating surreal scenarios on his quest to meet a lady.

The original stories are perhaps even more enjoyable and I can’t believe he’s only 31 with so many credits to his name – several books, a sitcom, written for SNL and Pixar. I mean, does he sleep? Was he birthed pitching ideas to The New Yorker? Either way I really enjoyed his book and already have several others to get my peepers into.

Here’s one that made it into the sitcom, Cupid Intervention:

4. The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas by Gertrude Stein. That’s right, Alice’s autobiography-alice-b-toklas-gertrude-steinautobiography of bohemian Paris was written by her long term partner Gertrude Stein in 1933.

it’s not quite in the modernist, stream of consciousness style favoured by Virginia Woolf but the sentences gallop strangely creating a vivid, dreamlike feel, as if the reader is glancing about and taking note of all he or she sees. The people and events are vivid and mixed together in a memory soup.

An extra layer of oddity is added when Alice describes Gertrude as a genius, only of course it’s not Alice’s words, it’s Gertrude’s. Was it something Alice said to Gertrude or is she guessing, or having a joke?

If you love the art, literature and lifestyle of the bohemian 20s like I do you’ll love it, and you’ll want to go to Paris.

5. Cotton Candy by Kevin Strange. I thoroughly enjoyed this long short story of cotton-candy-kevin-strangeerotic oddity. It reads like a winding Victorian tale told through a letter, only with gang bangs and were-furries.

After his wife dies a professor fills his life with increasing decadence and daring sexual exploits, finding himself in a remote building filled with other men, one woman and large, plushy teddies… large plushy teddies that move when no-one’s looking.

Well, dear readers, there we are! Another bag of weird joy. May we meet again one darkened night, you’ll have to wait till I’ve got my slippers on though.


Easy DIY vintage and alternative fashion and hair tutorials

It’s the New Year! OK it’s been the new year for a little while but I heard lots of birds today and it made me think of spring, therefore it only really became new year properly for me today. You know what I mean. And a new year means a new look. Sometimes. Well, the magazines keep telling me this and they wouldn’t lie, would they?

Anyway… after you’ve read the article I posted a while ago on looking and feeling vintage, here are various tutorials you may find useful. From everyone’s favourite make up muse Edie Sedgwick to modern gothic, from 20s flapper to hippie/metal/whatever dreadlocks, punk to steampunk and blacklight parties it’s all right here. Hooray!

First, because I used to have dreadlocks and I still love them, is a how to:

If real dreads are too much of a frightening commitment, here’s how to do them in wool:

Next up some gothicness. Here is MissChievous’ make-up tutorial:

The ‘Tim Burton’ look from Michelle Phan:

Antimony and Lace is a site dedicated to tutorials on do it yourself goth clothes, and is a community site for sharing clothes tips and the like.

Quite a sweet tutorial for rock types on making shredded leggings. My favourite part was the cat:

Here’s a wiki how on making your own punk clothes.

Who wouldn’t want to dye their hair rainbow?!:

The ‘Queen of Blending’ shows us how to perfect the drag queen/faerie/bizarre look:

‘Pixiwoo’ provides tips on getting the look of the lady who inspired many alternative fashion fanatics, Edie Sedgwick:

And here’s a little blog post on her general look. Check the bottom for links to articles about her.

‘The Cherry Dollface’ shows us a 50s hairstyle, picked from her many vintage tutorials:

Steampunk stuff is expensive and complicated, right? Not necessarily:

Get the flapper look:

And her make up:

Finally here is the mookychick guide to setting up a blacklight room.

Well, there we have it, quite a number of top tips for the average alternative type. May you have a jolly old time with it this year. Good byee!

Classic weird films and TV, plus the meaning of weird

The independent and underground world often bring us the unusual and new, but occasionally mainstream goes weird too. There are too many examples to mention but here are some of my favourites, beginning with two well known ‘uns.

1. Twin Peaks. There may be a segment near the end of series two that goes slightly astray but the good episodes of this programme are way better than most other things that have been on TV. Fire Walk with Me is also very worth seeing.

2. The Twilight Zone. An obvious classic, and the good episodes (there are many) are half hour plays of entertaining freakiness.

3. Three Cases of Murder. I recently watched this at 2am when I couldn’t sleep and was very happily surprised. I love portmanteu horror films (more than one story linked by a main tale – Tales from the Crypt and the Vault of Horror are my personal favourites -) but this ‘un from 1955 is one I’d not heard much about before.

My favourite was the first segment directed by Wendy Toye (yes, a lady in the fifties!). When it begins you prepare yourself for harmless whimsy as Alan Badel observes his own painting with a curator at a gallery, but it quickly descends into something more disturbing. With its skewed camera angles and obsessed characters it was one of the more bonkers things I’d watched that evening. The final segment contains Orson Welles and Alan Badel again (he appears in all three stories) and I actually laughed loudly, though the comedy is, of course, mixed with something a little bit darker.

4. The Unknown. The twenties and thirties made some very peculiar filmic gems, ‘Freaks’ being one example. Another is The Unknown from 1927 by the same writer/director Tod Browning. Joan Crawford (pre ‘wire hangers’) and horror regular Lon Chaney both work in a circus.

He’s the armless (?) knife thrower and she the beautiful assistant. He loves her, and she has a terrible phobia of men’s hands. Oh, and he’s also a robber and murderer with two thumbs, who really does have hands, and decides to have them removed permanently when one of his victims recognises him. Can he live dementedly ever after with Joan, or will things go horribly wrong?

5. Weird Night. There was a 90s-tastic series of BBC programmes in 94 during a special evening entitled ‘Weird Night.’ At 13 I’d not been exposed to too much of this sort of thing yet and I consumed it eagerly. The schedule ran as such:

1.Fortean Review of the Year
2.Strange Days-Coincidences
3. The last American Freak Show (different to the one mentioned in a previous post)
4.Strange Days-Visions
6.Strange Days-Beasts
7. Weird Thoughts

You can watch each of the programmes on this youtube channel (thanks skynet!). Below I’ve included all segments of the final show – Weird Thoughts – in which ‘experts’ debate their opinions on all things weird. Weird weird weird weird (my painkillers just kicked in). As expected, everyone laughs at silly old scientist with his knowledge and that.

6. Eerie Indiana. Another 90s offering which shaped my interests growing up. Watching it as a grown up is better though; not only do you have nostalgia but you notice the horror/sci fi references that appear throughout, thus satiating the geek beast within.

7. Sacred Weeds. The 90s seemed to develop an obsession with the ‘out there’ and odd. If it wasn’t Fortean it was mind bending plants.

This was a truly odd documentary series. One person who had never consumed a certain natural drug (proper drug, not homeopathy) and another who had taken them before joined a team of scientists in a big house to trip balls while being asked questions. I’m serious, it happened. Cue many peculiar scenes of suited men assisting in salvia bong hits and mushroom tea dosage. The plants tested (one per episode) were: Fly Agaric mushroom, Salvia, Henbane and Blue Lilly.

Thats enough for now you greedy little pickles, we shall meet again.