I like to feast my brain and eyes with things that are rather unusual, as you may have guessed. Since winter began – my official hibernation and reading time – I’ve had the joy of finding some right good ‘uns which I shall share with you now. Ooh, and on a lovely snowy night too (unless you’re…somewhere it’s not snowing). I can almost hear the ghosts outside wailing about unpaid bills and the ten pence Johnny still owes.
1. Wisconsin Death Trip. This collection of news stories and unnervingly beautiful photography made it’s first appearance in the 70s. At the turn of the century (the Victorian one, not the other one) small towns in snowy Wisconsin were a tough place to live, inducing some pretty bizarre activity from the locals. Flick through the articles of the time and be drawn into a very spooky – but true – world.
Incidentally the events of the time are used as the backdrop for another book I enjoyed, twisty historic thriller A Reliable Wife.
“Once upon a time Jack set out to find his fortune in the big city. But the big city is Toy City, formerly known as Toy Town, and it has grown considerably since the good old days and isn’t all that jolly any more. And there is a serial killer loose on the streets.
The old, rich nursery rhyme characters are being slaughtered one by one and the Toy City police are getting nowhere in their investigations. Meanwhile, Private Eye Bill Winkie has gone missing, leaving behind his sidekick Eddie Bear to take care of things. Eddie may be a battered teddy with an identity crisis, but someone’s got to stop the killer.
When he teams up with Jack, the two are ready for the challenge. Not to mention the heavy drinking, bad behaviour, car chases, gratuitous sex and violence, toy fetishism and all-round grossness along the way.”
3. The Best Bizarro of the Decade. I couldn’t really have a list of weird books without it. Everyone has preferences on their choice of out-there reading material and some of these short stories will not be your cup of tea (trust me I even hated a couple. I’m not saying which). However there are others which I found brilliant and very funny. If you can keep an open mind you will be rewarded. Maybe.
4. Better Haunted Homes and Gardens. This picture book is very sweet and pretty and future goth children will love it. If you can find a reasonably priced copy I recommend it, I know it brought out the kid who still loves Halloween in me.
5. Red Velvet and Absinthe. What can I say, I love (very) risque paranormal stories. These gothic tales are some of the best I’ve found and most have a different (and rude) way of looking at classic spookiness.
6. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Mary Roach is a funny lady. This book is an entertaining read about the different and unexpected ways a human body is used (crash research, nose jobs etc) and I was particularly fascinated when it came to learning about the minutiae of rotting.
However I must admit to skipping a few chapters in the middle – I just didn’t find the bits about planes crashes etc as entertaining. Weird as that sounds. But…the majority is well written and very humorous. Enjoy!
Well, there we have it. So many words, so little time, and so little human brains to ingest while doing it. Oh, no, I found another box. Farewell till next time!
Well hello there, never thought I’d see you again. Are you still doing those paintings? Yes, I’ve met someone much better than you. Oh, who am I kidding, come back to me! The nights are so lonely…
Anyway…I’ve had a short story published in issue 10 of Polluto Magazine, which describes itself thusly:
“Polluto is the award-winning literary magazine from Dog Horn Publishing. Since 2008 we have been scouring the dark, twisted and just plain weird corners of the world for the kind of writing that we love.”
Can’t say fairer than that eh, and as it’s a lovely foggy day in England (hopefully it is everywhere, but somehow the law of averages says I’m wrong) I suggest you pop over here to have a look. My story is the one about a ‘human life claimed for art.’
Want your Christmas to be the ultimate in odd? Feast your face on these DIY projects and present ideas. You still have time before the last post day tomorrow!
Firstly is this selection from Year of Halloween, Needful Things (13 things to get horror fans). Pop over and roll your eyeballs on this lovely selection. I’m weirdly drawn to the Taxidermy Art Diorama…
Follow the link here to peruse RDSPress’ book suggestions for every kind of strange person you know. Though I’m no goth, I myself am the proud owner of illustrated book Haunted Homes and Gardens, it’s very pretty.
The site Ophelia’s Art sells gifts, spooky holiday cards and t-shirts as well as art, all spooky and pretty. I believe the shop is currently under maintanence but it looked worth waiting for so I’m adding it here and there’s nothing you can do to stop me. Except perhaps threaten me or something. But I probably won’t listen cause I’m a right nutbag.
Artist Beth Robinson’s custom made Strange Dolls are very pretty in a very disturbing way. Not really recommended for children, unless your child is unlikely to weep at the very sight of it. She also does brooches and pendants:
Well, there we are. Have a merry Christmas and remember, Santa’s watching every move you make…
It occured to me the other day how nature remains beautiful even when it’s being downright disgusting or bizarre, and I would like to honour that achievement.
So, today we shall look at the inspiration behind many people’s art: the Weirdness of Nature.
First let’s ease you in gently with some cute kitties on catnip, taken from BBC series Weird Nature:
Second is a series I find quite amusing (and very odd), Sacred Weeds. Shown back in the 90s, two test subjects take a natural hallucinogen (different in each episode) while men in suits ask questions and stare:
This is a rather sweet, inoffensive clip of mushrooms growing from the series Planet Earth (with some music added). I defy anyone not to chuckle at the willy shaped ones:
Back in March New South Wales, Australia was blighted by floods. The locals were evacuated and, desperate to escape the water, these spiders moved “onto higher ground” leaving an entire ghost town engulfed by webs. Story (and creepy pictures) here.
Next up I saw a lot of fairly grim things during the BBC series Life in the Undergrowth (creepy crawlies), but for some reason this made me go all funny:
And these leaopard slugs are beautiful (in a slightly grim, surreal way):
Anything deep sea is like visiting a hostile alien planet (just watch the BBC’s The Blue Planet). In the meantime here’s a little vid with some music:
I’d have loved to find a clip of vampire bats, particularly from the documentary that shows one creeping up on a pig. Unfortunately there isn’t one on youtube that doesn’t have a hokey American voiceover and I just can’t bring myself to do it. So you have to imagine it instead, which is probably good for you.
Penultimately have a look at series The Future Is Wild, where scientists hypothesise in a Walking With Dinosaurs kind of way on the direction the animal kingdom might go millions of years after we’ve disappeared.
Lastly is the one I find most amazing. It has all the elements: it’s beautiful, it’s disturbing, it’s insidious, it’s science fiction in the natural world; the cordyceps fungus, as shown on Planet Earth:
Well hello! Icicles hang from the trees outside (unless you’re in Australia, in which case I still can’t get my head round your weather, now sort it out). With the festive party season drawing near I’m sure everyone is wondering what to wear, and as I may have mentioned I love unusual and alternative fashion.
Why not take the old advice and learn from history? They appear to have had a spooky pre-knowledge for what the catwalks of today hold.
Before Lady Gaga was even a concept of a twinkle in the eye, this bacon sporting gentleman from 1894 and hardware displaying lady from the 1890s were strutting the streets. Of course, the man is taking part in a fancy dress party and the lady is a ‘banner woman’ for a hardware shop, but this diminishes nothing.
They’re all fascinating and the designers have used the past as inspiration. I recommend you have a jaunt on over to the original post of this even if you don’t the others, but I think this one obscurely deciding that society will form a medieval circus is my favourite:
Finally I absolutely love this news item from the 1930s. Designers collaborated to predict what we would be wearing in 2000. Ooh, swish!