Codex Seraphinianus: A New Edition of the Strangest Book in the World

The strangest book in the world and I’ve never heard of it? Well, yes, there’s probably quite a lot I haven’t heard of. Never mind, here’s a link to an article on a very odd book in an unknown language with intriguingly bizarre pictures. codex-HORSEY

Bizarre Book Club 9: The bored dead, news in miniature and bizarro stories

Hello! Today’s pretentious Book Club picture is brought to you from Ruby’s Vintage tea shop in Colchester, Essex. They have a cosy room upstairs called The Reading Room.

They sell tea, cakes and clothes oh my!
They sell tea, cakes and clothes oh my!

1. Anti Twitter by Harold Jaffe. This book features real news stories shrunk down to their essence and the whole thing took me a little over an hour to read. I felt the saddest one was about Billie Holliday, ending with: Nobody knew who she was.

It was a little like reading the odd news pages online only more worrying. Large amounts were about football hooligans but I promise you, not all British people are like that – unless you count the time I drank a whole bottle of Appletiser, the memories of that night haunt us all.

2. Flamingos in the Ashtray: 25 Bizarro Short Stories by Zoltan Komor. I love his ideas and seem to spend a lot of time now wondering how he came up with them. Admittedly there are one or two typing errors in the text but it really wasn’t a problem for me because his imagination made my mind crackle like a fizzy drink opened after a shaking by a school bully. I like his brain so much I’m also including this link to three free stories online.

3. Suspended Heart by Heather Fowler. I’ve also read People With Holes by this lady and I think she’s becoming one of my favourites. Although her short stories are classed as Magic Realism it’s easy to recognise thoughts and situations we’ve all been through. Her imagery is beautiful and makes me want to roll around nude amongst the flowers, however I feel that would quickly devolve matters and the original point would be lost during calls for an ambulance and the cries of children.

4. The Postmortal by Drew Magary. A story told in stages of the collapse of mankind after a cure for ageing has been discovered. John Farrell starts as an ordinary man whose life quickly goes down the tubes along with the structure of society after taking the cure. Although it’s mainly a thriller, there are some very amusing images such as a stoner who decides to end it all by being blown from a canon. I found it as entertaining as a shrew in a tutu, which is pretty entertaining despite what the RSPCA might tell you. It’s not my fault they have no sense of humour.

So there we have it! Fare thee well, and may your summer be nice and warm, although not too warm as it can be unpleasant. A bit warm. Byee!

Crucifixion Re-enactment, Girl Whipping and Death Dancing: Odd Easter Customs

Merry almost Easter! Is it me or does the date keep changing? Here we’re used to exchanging eggs and dancing naked whilst weeping (just me?) but other countries have their own ideas of spring tradition.

1. Girl Whipping (and Soaking) in Eastern Europe. Yes, show those Slovak ladies who’s boss! In the Czech Republic you give them a good hiding with a willow stick and then a dousing with freezing water! The water tradition occurs elsewhere in Eastern Europe too. Apparently the voracity of the dousing can vary from “having a teaspoon of warm tap water dribbled over you to a bucket of frigid well water thrown at you.” Likewise the strength of the stick beating can depend on how drunk people are, but it’s not really supposed to hurt. Read more about it here.madeleine-swann-slovak-whipping-easter

2. Semana Santa in Spain and Latin America. An odd spectacle indeed, chosen members of the Christian Order of Penitents wear robes known as capirotes. Read more (and see videos and pictures) here.

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Semana Santa

3. Crucifixion in the Philippines. Flagellation, genuine crucifixion… these people take the grim part of religion very seriously. Be warned, the video below features some very unpleasant business. Have a read about it here.

4. ‘Halloween’ Easter in Finland. In a kind of reverse trick or treat children dress up as witches and bring gifts door to door. Those gifts might be twigs and crepe paper but it’s the thought that counts, and they still manage to extort chocolate so all is right with the universe.

5. Pot smashing in Greece. Greeks just love breaking stuff! If you’re ever annoyed with a person it’s probably best to get down there and smash up a load of china – just be sure they’re not trying to eat off it at the time.

6. The Dance of Death in Spain. If you go to Verges, Costa Brava, you may find yourself surrounded by a procession of skeletons. Apparently to remind people that ‘death can occur at any time,’ everyone dances to drums and carries something ‘death related’ such as a scythe.

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The Death Dance in Verges
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The Death Dance in Verges

Bizarre Book Club 7: Candy Cannibals, Weird Anthologies and the Apocalypse

A chair on the wall? What tea based madness is this?
A chair on the wall? What tea based madness is this?

Today’s book pictures (me posing and pretending to read) are brought to you by The Glass House Tea Shop in Braintree, Essex. They gave my friend and I a small slice of free cake, which was wonderful by the way.

Phew it’s all happening in this one! Let’s begin.

1. Cannibals of Candyland by Carlton Mellick III. A good, fun read which doesn’t take too long as it’s quite short. A race of cannibals exists in a magic land under the city. The main character searches them out in revenge for leading his siblings away years ago with a hypnotic sweet scent, but things don’t go according to plan.

2. The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer. I’ve mentioned this book once before but I love it so much I’m mentioning it again. It has almost everyone you can think of: Neil Gaiman, Haruki Murakami, the short story of Don’t Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier, George R.R. Martin (wrote some books about thrones and games, I dunno), Franz Kafka, Clive Barker, Robert Aickman, Leonora Carrington (Max Ernst’s extra marital partner and a surreal painter and writer) and Saki, to name a few. Everyone should read more Saki, he was a genius. Basically, buy this book now or I’ll creep into your room at night and sniff your ear.

That's right, we moved just so I could get another picture
That’s right, we moved just so I could get another picture

3. Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens edited by ? I could be incorrect but I believe there were ten of these short story issues gathered before they stopped. Perhaps they’ve moved to a new home (though they’ve left no explanation) or perhaps they vanished into a puff of kittens, either way have a look at the archive editions for a dose of true insanity.

4. Apocalypse Culture edited by Adam Parfrey. First published back in 1987, even more reports of fringe cultural practices were gathered in 1991, and then again for Apocalypse Culture 2 in 2000.

Here’s what wikipedia says: Apocalypse Culture is a collection of articles, interviews, and documents that explore the various marginal aspects of culture. It explores aesthetic nihilism, destructive cults, extreme violence, sexual deviancy, conspiracy theory, extreme forms of nationalism, and other subjects. First published in 1987, it was reprinted in 1990 and 2001. In 2000 the sequel Apocalypse Culture II was released. The book has been widely campaigned against and has been banned in many countries.

What’s not to like?! Get buying!

Very well, thus concludes another session of Bizarre Book Club. May you not run weeping into the night. Or perhaps may you, depending on preferences. I’m not here to judge. Toodle pip!

Peter Wyngarde’s bizarre album of madness

One of the most bizarre things I came across this morning, here is a post on actor Peter Wyngarde’s (mostly forgotten) album released in the 70s.

The song available to listen to is called…oh God…Rape. And it’s very silly (in a bad way). Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Avant Garde Fashion by Kasia Konieczka

I really love freaky fashion as I’ve said many times, and this definitely falls under that category, have a look at plenty more on this link. I’d really like to see Britain’s Next Top Model do stuff like this (no, I actually would, I’m not ashamed to admit I love that programme).

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