Tag Archives: fiction

Gifts of Lovecraft

If you’re anything as lucky as me, then you’ve found a significant other/trans-dimensional monster hunter/mental patient to share your life with, however short that may be. And if your beloved and accursed life partner is an enthusiast, nay, a votary, of all things weird and macabre, then you might need a little help finding the inspired gifts to show them the horrific holiday, blighted birthday or abhorrent anniversary you both deserve! These Lovecraftian artifacts will spell out your love beyond the ageless æons and non-Euclidean space, as the dread Cthulhu has already permeated our modern popular culture with its putrid tentacles… of doom.

BOOKS & ART

Whether a long-time devotee or curious neophyte, anyone interested in ‘the Mythos‘ could find no better place to delve than these gorgeous collections, The Eldritch Tales and the Necronomicon. The faux-leather covers and gold-embossed Les Edwards illustrations (not to mention the inside Virgil Finlay sketch of Howard Phillips Lovecraft) make these commemorative editions a must-have. Notably,  Robert E. Howard‘s Conan the Barbarian is also collected in a similar series, as the two share a contextual history. Then again, a lot of fictional universes dip into the Cthulhu Mythos, from some of Stephen King‘s short stories to Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea‘s Illuminatus! Trilogy, and even more recently, episodes of South Park.

Originally written for the pulp magazines of the 1920s and 1930s, H. P. Lovecraft’s astonishing tales blend elements of horror, science fiction, and cosmic terror that are as powerful today as they were when they were first published.

One might also gaze upon the maelstrom of aesthetes and devotees of the black arts, who have lent their skills to paintings, illustrations, sketches and essays of these mighty Elder Gods. The Lovecraft Retrospective is chock full of artists inspired by the Master of Horror Fiction, including H. R. Giger and Mike Mignola, among at least forty others (with an introduction by Harlan Ellison). Although Giger released his own Necronomicon work with an introduction by Clive Barker, and Mike Mignola, (in addition to doing a brilliant cover for a collection) also paid tribute to the man himself in the Codex Arcana. Not to mention the very looming presence of Ancient Ones in the Hellboy universe.

Or peruse the works of the late Jean Giraud, whether they be in full comic book form, or covers such as Lovecraft: Letters D’Arkham, Marginalia, 1975.

Speaking of art, it’s a damned shame (and I do mean damned) that, for copyright reasons, these hilarious crossovers, mash-ups or remixes are not available for purchase. Such as Murray Groat (A.K.A. Muzski)’s versions of Tintin within the Mythos, as Hergé/Moulinsart S.A.’s rights apply:

“I am getting alot of print requests by email, which is nice, but I have to sadly tell each and everyone of them that I cannot.”

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Or the multi-chaptered project to chronicle Bil Keane‘s The Family Circus as they fall into the inky æther of ‘unspeakable horrors.’

Or Dr. Faustus‘ Seussian retellings:

This is not to say, of course, that one cannot make a fine print of these deviations for personal, non-commercial use.

DRINK

One method of inducing a thrilling madness is to first enter a drunken stupor. Though many soporific aperitifs of the Eldritch abomination exist, only a few are readily extant and/or non-fictitious.

Demon’s Hop Yard IPA is brewed by Anheuser-Busch, Inc., and can be found in several states (Lovecraft’s ‘Devil’s Hopyard’ was in his fictional town of Dunwich).

Clear, bright golden, with copper hues topped with a thick, clinging hop-induced lace that trails the beer as it’s consumed. Aroma is dank, resiny and saturated with a pronounced herbal character.

Miskatonic Dark Rye is a vegan and organic ale from (where else?) Portland, Oregon brewing company Captured by Porches. I’m sure it’s what the students at Miskatonic U get soused on as they pore over dusty tomes in ancient libraries.

Smooth. Rye spiced with chocolate and wine tones. Light to medium bodied. Made with organic two row and malted wheat, rye, and oats. Malted with crystal and chocolate. Hopped with domestic tettnanger.

Others are more secret, nigh-mythical brews, such as the Limited Edition New Year’s Black IPA by Us Vs Them, inspired by the dark lord Cthulhu himself, which is either no longer available or lying asleep for centuries.

Premium 2 row barley, coloring and caramel flavor from 2 speciality malts…the blackness comes from a special de-husked roasted malt called Carafa Special 3… it does not impart that very roasty, astringent or bitter coffee flavor you’d find in a stout, however it does leave a deep, dark tone to the appearance. It was bittered with Chinook and flavored with Amarillo Centenial and Simcoe and fermented with a California Ale Yeast to accentuate the clean bitterness and hop flavors.

Cthulhu Custom Etched Shot Glass

Of course, one needs the proper receptacle to contain the evil spirits with designs on your mind and soul. Might I recommend either the tentacled pint glass, or the Cthulhu custom-etched shot glass, (and filled appropriately with Kraken rum)

A fine gift could be made of Jonathan Chaffin’s Horror in Clay tiki mug, and now that his Kickstarter goal has been made, perhaps in futures told they shall be hewn from matter most foul, but do not seem for sale to the public just yet.

And apparently, HPL was a fervent coffeeholic, with these subversive subcultures crossing in several ways, including the now extinct Cthulhu Coffee.

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgahnagl fhtag”  ~ Me, after tasting the foul bitters aforementioned

TOYS

All manner of adorable plushies of the Dread Lord can be found, but some creative artisans have crafted their own worldly totems, as prescribed by the visions in their feverish dreams.

John Kovalic’s My Little Cthulhu:

The various knitted Cthulhu patterns:

Or the abominable HP Lovercraft figure by Alex CF:

My first DIY action figure project is a hand molded, cast and painted effigy of Lovecraft, along with a copy of the fabled and despised Necronomicon! Each figure will come as part of a larger box set – including a copy of a comic I have written and drawn, a screen printed t shirt, a screen printed poster, badge and sketch, all in a wax sealed box! These will be available very soon! email merrylinhouse@gmail.com for inquiries!

ENTERTAINMENT

Though many directors have been influenced by HPL’s works, not many have successfully conjured a faithful translation of those strange stories (see: Re-Animator). In 2005, however, director Andrew Leman brought one of the finest independent horror films into our world and onto the silent screen:

The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society presents its all new silent film of The Call of Cthulhu. The famed story is brought richly to life in the style of a classic 1920s silent movie, with a haunting original symphonic score. Using the “Mythoscope” process — a mix of modern and vintage techniques, the HPLHS has worked to create the most authentic and faithful screen adaptation of a Lovecraft story yet attempted.


More importantly, for the purposes of gift-giving and love-making, a classic black & white flick is the perfect thing to curl up with your loved one on the couch, as a slowly creeping dread encompasses the both of you. (The prolific H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society also villainously vends the album A Shoggoth on the Roof, a CD of Lovecraftian carolsArkham Asylum Certificates of Insanity, and other cult relics.)

The Evil Dead 2 (Book Of The Dead 2 Limited Edition)But if you really want a really great date night, allow the self-parodying  Sam Raimi and manly-chinned Bruce Campbell to open a deathly portal of Dead-ites, with your very own Necronomicon bound in a horrid human face! This Limited Edition ‘Book of the Dead’ isn’t necessarily easy to find, but is full of artwork and special features, and will scream when pressed if in mint condition!

H. P. Lovecraft IH. P. Lovecraft II

H.P. Lovecraft, not so coincidentally, was also a psychedelic acid rock band in the late 1960’s. They only released two albums in 1967 and 1968 before breaking up, renaming and reforming, but their best work were these early nuggets. They’re not exactly horrific or amorous, but their imagery is evocative and dreamlike nonetheless.

TRAVEL

If you desire to steal your beloved away for the week-end, perhaps a themed holiday is in order. If out West, wander to The Lovecraft Bar in Portland, covered in demonic symbols and cosmic tentacles, and visit the annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and Cthulhu Con. Or make your way to L.A. for their version of the Eldritch Events. Florida each year holds the NecronomiCon, a science fiction, fantasy and horror convention now in its 31st year.

But for real historical ambiance, what could be more romantic than a getaway to New England, to the hexed locality that spawned so many legends of spirits and devils and witchcraft, and a never-ending litany of literary progeny, from Hawthorne and Poe to Lovecraft and King. Begin in Lovecraft’s hometown of Providence, Rhode Island (though the Angell St. family mansion was torn down in 1961). Take the walking tour of College Hill, his old stomping grounds. From there, expedition to Essex County, Massachusetts (Lovecraft commented often in his letters that Marblehead was one of his favorite towns, saying that he’d live there if he didn’t already live in Providence). The basis for many of the ports and towns in what came to be called Miskatonic County (with an eponymous river and University), or ‘Lovecraft Country,’ containing Dunwich, Innsmouth, Arkham, Kingsport and Billington’s Wood.File:Lovecraft Country.svg

Interestingly, the fictional county is close to Salem, already known for its occult history, and North of the Bridgewater Triangle, a modern hotbed of supposed paranormal activity.

MISCELLANY

If your fated partner cares not for those sweet nothings and sweeping gestures, perhaps the wretched aromatics of the Elder Gods will help spice things up, and the Picnic in Arkham: The Lovecraft Collection of perfumes by Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs:

Azathoth is the blind, idiot god who sits on a black throne at the center of Chaos. His scent is high-pitched and screeching, both impenetrably dark and searingly bright with the clarity of madness: tangerine, saffron, vetiver, black amber and cedarwood.

Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young, the All-Mother and wife of the Not-to-Be-Named-One. The lust incense of a corrupted Astarte. A blend of ritual herbs and dark resins, shot through with three gingers and aphrodisiacal spices.

The internet is resplendent with other mementos that profess your dark feelings, so be creative and think outside the box!

Diplomas:

Miskatonic Diploma (Herbert West) Poster

Purses:

And Elder thongs:

Reading List

Some of my top favorite authors and titles as per my Good Reads profile.
A tumblr follows the publishing industry, retail books, the e-book revolution, libraries and other bibliographical, bookish-type things at Likely In Store!

By Genre

Classics & Fiction
Things Fall ApartThe Canterbury TalesParadise LostSilas MarnerWhite NoiseHeart of DarknessThe Picture of Dorian GrayInvisible ManUp the Down StaircaseA Clockwork OrangeThe New York TrilogyThe Sadness of SexFuck MachineA Modest ProposalIt Can't Happen HereFlowers for AlgernonTo Kill a MockingbirdThe Catcher in the RyeThe Great GatsbyAnimal FarmOf Mice and MenThe Grapes of WrathCannery RowTravels with Charley: In Search of AmericaMe Talk Pretty One DayLord of the FliesLittle WomenA Tale of Two CitiesThe Count of Monte CristoMoby-DickMemoirs of a GeishaMiddlesexLolitaGone With the Wind1984Veronika Decides to DieAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-GlassAnd the Hippos Were Boiled in Their TanksBeowulf: A New Verse TranslationBig SurOn the RoadThe Call of the Wild, White Fang and Other StoriesCandide: or, OptimismThe Brothers KaramazovDemonsThe Old Man and the SeaThe Sun Also RisesTo Have and Have NotA Hunger ArtistIn The Penal ColonyThe MetamorphosisThe TrialR. Crumb's KafkaThe Cheese MonkeysOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestThe ChosenThe Tevye Stories and OthersAdventures of Mottel: The Cantor's SonA Christmas CarolOliver TwistThe Divine ComedyDoctor FaustusThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeTreasure IslandNaked LunchLove is a Dog from HellHam on RyeThe Most Beautiful Woman in TownHot Water MusicThe StrangerThe Satanic VersesPortnoy’s ComplaintAtlas ShruggedChokeDiaryRantLullabyFight ClubCatch-22FaustLife of Pi
Poetry
Budget Travel through Space and Time: PoemsThe Collected Poems, Complete and UnabridgedPoetry as Insurgent ArtA Coney Island of the MindHowl and Other PoemsSongs of Innocence and of ExperienceThe Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Other PoemsMeditations in an EmergencyLord Byron: The Major Works
Drama
Les MisérablesThe Diary of a Madman, The Government Inspector, and Selected StoriesOedipus RexArsenic And Old LaceThe Odd CoupleRosencrantz and Guildenstern are DeadThe CrucibleDeath of a SalesmanFocusThe Portable Arthur MillerThe Oedipus Cycle: Oedipus Rex / Oedipus at Colonus / AntigoneHamletA Midsummer Night's DreamMacbethThe TempestOthelloRomeo and JulietShakespeare's SonnetsThe Taming of the Shrew
Mythology
Le Morte d'Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round TableArthurian LegendsKappa; A NovelThe Saga of the VolsungsThe Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One NightsEgyptian Ideas of the AfterlifeAncient Egyptian MagicSir Gawain and the Green KnightAesop's FablesThe Hero With a Thousand FacesBeowulf: A New Verse Translation
Paranormal
The Coincidence File: Synchronicity, Morphic Resonance or Pure Chance?The Young Oxford Book of AliensFaces of the VisitorsThe Mothman PropheciesCasebook on the Men in BlackThe Lost Continent of MuCommunion: A True StoryThe Celestine Prophecy50 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time: History's Biggest Mysteries, Coverups, and Cabals
Science
CosmosBonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and SexElephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre ExperimentsThe Golden Section: Nature's Greatest SecretThe Man Who Tasted ShapesI Live in the Future & Here's How It Works: Why Your World, Work & Brain Are Being Creatively DisruptedThe Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat & Other Clinical TalesFlatland: A Romance of Many DimensionsThe Man Who Tasted ShapesWhat We Believe But Cannot Prove: Today's Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of CertaintyWhat Is Your Dangerous Idea?: Today's Leading Thinkers on the UnthinkableWhat Are You Optimistic About?: Today's Leading Thinkers on Why Things Are Good and Getting BetterWhat Have You Changed Your Mind About?: Today's Leading Minds Rethink EverythingTricks of the Mind
Business
Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and RealityHey, Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great AdsThe Pirate's Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing CapitalismThe 48 Laws of Power
History
The Iliad & The OdysseyThe IliadThe OdysseyI, ClaudiusNazi GermanyWhat a Way to Go: The Guillotine, the Pendulum, the Thousand Cuts, the Spanish Donkey, and 66 Other Ways of Putting Someone to DeathGuns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human SocietiesA Little History of the WorldOne Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear WarThe War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-08Lincoln's DevotionalLies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got WrongCrossfire: The Plot That Killed KennedyBenjamin Franklin: Wit and WisdomNightThe Diary of a Young GirlNickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in AmericaThe Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian SuperpowerA People's History of the American Revolution: How Common People Shaped the Fight for Independence1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the WestYou Can't WinThe Prince
Philosophy
A Little Book of LanguageA Little History of PhilosophyMeditationsGod's Debris: A Thought ExperimentUniverse and EyeCommon SenseThe Communist ManifestoThis Is Not a PipeAstonish Yourself: 101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday LifeDo You Think What You Think You Think?The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten: 100 Experiments for the Armchair PhilosopherComing of Age at the End of HistoryThe Society of the SpectacleOn BullshitGödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden BraidThe Five People You Meet in HeavenAristotle and an Aardvark Go to WashingtonPlato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through JokesZeno and the Tortoise: How to Think Like a PhilosopherWays of SeeingLateral ThinkingDo You Think What You Think You Think?Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?The Michael Eric Dyson ReaderBullshit and PhilosophyTwilight of the Idols/The Anti-Christ
Media Theory
Extra Lives: Why Video Games MatterThe Medium Is the MassageArt & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of ArtmakingMad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through 1960s AmericaHow to Watch TV News: Revised EditionDon't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate: The Essential Guide for Progressives50 Things You're Not Supposed to KnowImpro101 Things to Learn in Art School
Humour
The Devil's DictionaryThe Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus; All the Words Volume OneNapalm & Silly PuttyBrain DroppingsLies & the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair & Balanced Look at the RightThe Illustrated ManStuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of MillionsWhere's My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future that Never ArrivedHow To Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming RebellionHow to Be a Villain: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans, and More!!!I Am AmericaCurb Your Enthusiasm: The BookThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Extreme EditionThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Dating and SexThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: TravelThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival HandbookHeaven and Hell: A Compulsively Readable Compendium of Myth, Legend, Wisdom, and Wit for Saints and SinnersOur Dumb World: The Onion's Atlas of the Planet EarthOur Dumb Century: The Onion Presents 100 Years of Headlines from America's Finest News SourceI'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski: Life, The Big Lebowski, and What Have YouThe Dilbert Future: Thriving on Stupidity in the 21st CenturyThe Joy of Work: Dilbert's Guide to Finding Happiness at the Expense of Your Co-WorkersThe Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle's-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace AfflictionsGreat Comedians Talk about ComedyHow to Rule the World: A Handbook for the Aspiring DictatorThe Groucho Letters: Letters from and to Groucho Marx
Horror
At the Mountains of MadnessThe Complete WorksFrankensteinThe ShiningThree Ghost StoriesWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie WarThe Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living DeadRudyard Kipling's Tales of Horror and Fantasy
Don QuixoteThe Confidence-Man
Crime
Homicide: A Year on the Killing StreetsThree Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the InnocentThe Maltese FalconThe Big SleepThe GodfatherThe Complete Sherlock HolmesDetection by GaslightThe Big Sleep & Farewell, My LovelyThe Murder of Roger AckroydAnd Then There Were NoneThe SicilianOmertaThe Thin Man
Science Fiction
The Challenge Of The SpaceshipTimelineJurassic ParkThe Lost WorldPrey2001: A Space OdysseyR Is for RocketThe Martian ChroniclesA Sound of Thunder and Other StoriesThe VeldtVenus on the Half-ShellMore Stories from the Twilight ZoneStories from the Twilight ZoneBrave New WorldFahrenheit 451The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyThe Time MachineStar Wars: A New HopeThe Lost WorldThe HobbitEnder's GameDuneStranger in a Strange LandParis in the Twentieth CenturyThe First Men in the MoonNeuromancerSnow CrashThe Island of Dr. MoreauWhen the Sleeper WakesThe Country of the Blind and Other Science-Fiction StoriesThe Best Time Travel Stories of All TimeFrom the Earth to the MoonJourney to the Center of the EarthThe Best Time Travel Stories of the 20th CenturyBrave New World/Brave New World RevisitedStarship TroopersMona Lisa Overdrive (Sprawl, #3)Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
Children’s
Mr. Popper's PenguinsWatership DownBunniculaThe Complete Grimm's Fairy TalesMrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMHThe Indian in the CupboardFrom the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. FrankweilerA Wrinkle in TimeA Wind in the DoorRikki-Tikki-TaviJust So StoriesThe Jungle BooksThe Princess BrideOne Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue FishHorton Hears a Who!The LoraxGreen Eggs and HamThe Sneetches and Other StoriesFox in SocksOh, the Places You'll Go!The Cat in the HatThe Butter Battle BookThe Cat in the Hat Comes BackHow the Grinch Stole Christmas!I am Not Going to Get Up Today!Where the Sidewalk EndsThe Giving TreeThe Little PrinceThe Polar ExpressSix MenStrega NonaWhere the Wild Things AreThe Night Before Christmas
Art
Mad Men: The Illustrated WorldThe Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to Be The Artist You Truly AreGnomesThe Complete GnomesThe Magic Mirror of M.C. EscherThe Graphic WorkH.R. Giger's NecronomiconDynamic Figure DrawingEx Libris: The Art of BookplatesThe Small Stakes: Music PostersThe Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese InventionsBanksy Locations & Tours Volume 2: A Collection of Graffiti Locations and Photographs from around the UKBanksy Locations & Tours: A Collection of Graffiti Locations and Photographs in London, EnglandWall and PieceStreet Art San Francisco: Mission MuralismoGraffiti World: Street Art from Five Continentsi am 8-bit: Art Inspired by Classic Videogames of the '80sThe Art BookThe Cult of LEGOCartooning: Philosophy and PracticeWreck This JournalThe Book of TikiInfinite City: A San Francisco AtlasMid-Century Ads: Advertising from the Mad Men EraUnpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books
Graphic Novels
Rex Libris, Volume I: I, LibrarianHandmade Houses: A Century of Earth-Friendly Home DesignScud: The Disposable Assassin -The Whole ShebangThe Sixth Gun, Vol. 1: Cold Dead FingersThe Perry Bible Fellowship AlmanackThe Walking Dead, Book OneCats are Weird and More ObservationsI Kill GiantsInvincible, Volume 1: Family MattersJack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus, Vol. 1Action Philosophers Giant-Size Thing Vol. 1Persepolis: The Story of a ChildhoodThe Umbrella Academy, Vol. 1: Apocalypse SuiteSweet Tooth, Vol. 1: Out of the Deep WoodsDaredevil Legends, Vol. 1: YellowThe Sandman: King of DreamsFrank, Vol. 1The Complete Far Side, 1980-1994Usagi Yojimbo, Vol. 1: The RoninDarth Vader and SonKick-AssAmerican Splendor: The Life and Times of Harvey PekarDr. Horrible and Other Horrible StoriesTransmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the StreetChew, Vol. 1: Taster's ChoiceEverything Can Be BeatenBatman: The Long HalloweenWiener Dog ArtThe Far Side GalleryChris WareHow to Draw Comics the Marvel WayEverything is Its Own Reward: An All Over Coffee CollectionAll Over CoffeePaula Scher: MAPSKirby: King of ComicsY: The Last Man, Vol. 1: UnmannedThe Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other StoriesThe Complete Hans Christian Andersen Fairy TalesPinocchioThe Complete Calvin and HobbesThe Complete MausMaus, Vol. 2: And Here My Troubles BeganRamayana: Divine LoopholeEssential Doctor Strange, Vol. 1Essential Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 3Essential Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 2Essential Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 1The Art of Steve DitkoStrange and Stranger: The World of Steve DitkoNew GodsSavage Dragon Archives, Vol. 1Mouse Guard: Roleplaying GameMouse Guard: Winter 1152Mouse Guard: Fall 1152Moomin Book Five: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripMoomin Book Four: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripMoomin Book Three: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripMoomin Book Two: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripMoomin Book One: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripTintin in the Land of the SovietsCigars of the PharaohTintin in TibetThe Complete ConcreteDiesel Sweeties: Pocket Sweeties Volume 1A Zits Treasury 02: Big Honkin' ZitsEditorial WorksLittle Nemo: 1905-1914Zippy: Walk a Mile in My Muu-Muu (ZippyZippy StoriesAre We Having Fun YetHow To Go To HellAkbar and Jeff's Guide to LifeWork Is HellChildhood Is HellThe Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite FamilyBart Simpson's Guide to Life: A Wee Handbook for the PerplexedSimpsons World - The Ultimate Episode GuideThe Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of HomerSchool is HellThe Big Book of Hell: The Best of Life in HellThe AlcoholicScott Pilgrim's Precious Little LifeScott Pilgrim Vs. the WorldScott Pilgrim & the Infinite SadnessScott Pilgrim Gets It TogetherScott Pilgrim Vs. the UniverseScott Pilgrim's Finest HourUncle SamDrawing Words and Writing PicturesSilver Surfer: ParableThe Halo Graphic NovelZot!: The Complete Black-and-White Collection: 1987-1991Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic NovelsUnderstanding Comics: The Invisible ArtReinventing Comics: How Imagination and Technology Are Revolutionizing an Art FormRed Meat GoldThe Goon, Volume 8: Those That Is DamnedThe Goon, Volume 9: Calamity of ConscienceThe Goon, Volume 7: A Place of Heartache and GriefThe Goon, Volume 6: Chinatown and The Mystery of Mr. WickerThe Goon, Volume 4: Virtue and the Grim Consequences ThereofThe Goon: NoirThe Goon, Volume 5: Wicked InclinationsThe Goon, Volume 3: Heaps of RuinationThe Goon, Volume 2: My Murderous ChildhoodThe Goon, Volume 1: Nothin' but MiseryThe Collected Sam and MaxThe Walking Dead, Vol. 11: Fear the HuntersThe Walking Dead, Vol. 8: Made to SufferThe Walking Dead, Vol. 3: Safety Behind BarsThe Walking Dead, Vol. 2: Miles Behind UsThe Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone ByeSin City, Vol. 7: Hell and BackSin City, Vol. 6: Booze, Broads, and BulletsSin City, Vol. 5: Family ValuesBatman: The Dark Knight Strikes AgainSin City, Vol. 4: That Yellow BastardSin City, Vol. 3: The Big Fat KillSin City, Vol. 2: A Dame to Kill For300Sin City, Vol. 1: The Hard GoodbyeBatman: The Dark Knight ReturnsBatman: Year OneElektra Lives Again Beanworld, Vol. 1: Wahoolazuma!Beanworld, Vol. 2: A Gift Comes!Arkham Asylum: MadnessWolverine Legends Vol. 1: Wolverine/HulkThe Maxx, Vol. 3The Maxx, Vol. 2The Maxx, Vol. 1Empowered, Volume 1Empowered, Volume 2Empowered, Volume 3Empowered, Volume 4Empowered, Volume 5Bigfoot: I Not DeadIn Me Own Words: The Autobiography of BigfootBoneCagesThe Fate of the ArtistThe Big Book of the UnexplainedThe Big Book of ConspiraciesThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1910The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black DossierSwamp Thing, Vol. 1: Saga of the Swamp ThingThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 2From HellThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1Batman: The Killing JokeV for VendettaWatchmenThe Amazing Screw-on Head and Other Curious ObjectsDoctor Strange, Doctor Doom: Triumph and TormentHellboy, Vol. 10: The Crooked Man and OthersHellboy, Vol. 9: The Wild HuntHellboy: Odd JobsHellboy, Vol. 8: Darkness CallsHellboy, Vol. 7: The Troll Witch and OthersHellboy, Vol. 6: Strange PlacesHellboy, Vol. 5: Conqueror WormHellboy, Vol. 4: The Right Hand of DoomHellboy, Vol. 3: The Chained Coffin and OthersHellboy, Vol. 2: Wake the DevilHellboy, Vol. 1: Seed of DestructionDonald DuckPogoTales from Outer SuburbiaThe ArrivalMirrorMaskThe Sandman: Book of DreamsThe Day I Swapped My Dad for Two GoldfishThe Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly OnesThe Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream CountryThe Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's HouseThe Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and NocturnesMarvel 1602MarvelsThe Cartoon History of the Universe III: From the Rise of Arabia to the RenaissanceCartoon History of the Universe II, Vol. 8-13: From the Springtime of China to the Fall of RomeCartoon History of the Universe I, Vol. 1-7: From the Big Bang to Alexander the GreatBat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in JapanBeasts! Book OneGorillaz: Rise of the OgreTank Girl (Tank Girl, #1)Sloppy SecondsHair HighMutant AliensThe Sleazy Cartoons of Bill PlymptonWhen We Were Very MaakiesMaakiesAlias, Vol. 1GoldfishPowers, Vol. 3: Little DeathsJinxPowers, Vol. 7: ForeverPowers, Vol. 1: Who Killed Retro Girl?Fortune & Glory: A True Hollywood Comic Book StoryPowers, Vol. 11: Secret IdentityAlias, Vol. 3: The UnderneathPowers, Vol. 9: PsychoticPowers, Vol. 5: AnarchyPowers, Vol. 4: SupergroupAlias, Vol. 2: Come HomePowers, Vol. 8: LegendsPowers, Vol. 6: The SelloutsPowers, Vol. 2: RoleplayPowers, Vol. 10: CosmicAlias, Vol. 4: The Secret Origins of Jessica JonesHouse of MSecret InvasionTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Book IThe Contract With God Trilogy: Life on Dropsie AvenueWill Eisner's New York: Life in the Big CityThe Best of the SpiritTransmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the StreetTransmetropolitan, Vol. 1, Revised: Back on the StreetBatman: Joker's AsylumX'ed OutLiberty Meadows Volume 1: EdenLiberty Meadows Volume 2: Creature ComfortsLiberty Meadows Volume 3: Summer Of LoveClerks: The Comic BooksChasing DogmaBluntman and ChronicCerebus, Vol. 1Cerebus, Vol. 2: High SocietyCerebus, Vol. 4: Church and State IICerebus, Vol. 16: The Last DayCerebus, Vol. 6: MelmothCerebus, Vol. 9: ReadsCerebus, Vol. 7: FlightCerebus, Vol. 3: Church and State ICerebus, Vol. 5: Jaka's StoryCerebus, Vol. 11: GuysCerebus, Vol. 10: MindsCerebus, Vol. 8: WomenCerebus, Vol. 13: Going HomeCerebus, Vol. 14: Form and VoidCerebus, Vol. 12: Rick's StoryCerebus, Vol. 15: Latter DaysDoctor Strange, Doctor Doom: Triumph and TormentBlanketsThe Acme Novelty Library #17The Acme Novelty LibraryThe Acme Novelty Library #16The Acme Novelty Datebook: Sketches and Diary Pages in Facsimile, 1986-1995Quimby the Mouse: Or Comic Strips, 1990-1991Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on EarthThe Acme Novelty Library #18The Acme Novelty Datebook, Vol. 2The Acme Novelty Library #19The Acme Novelty Library #2The Acme Novelty Library #1The Acme Novelty Library #3Kingdom ComeThe Best of Gahan WilsonJohnny the Homicidal Maniac: Director's CutSquee's Wonderful Big Giant Book of Unspeakable HorrorsFillerbunny in My Worst Book Yet!JellyfistI Feel Sick #1Fillerbunny #1Revenge Of The FillerbunnyI Feel Sick #2The Bad Art CollectionA Right to Be Hostile: The Boondocks TreasuryAmphigorey TooAmphigoreyAmphigorey Also

Favorite Authors

Douglas Adams
The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxySo Long, and Thanks for All the FishLife, the Universe, and EverythingThe Restaurant at the End of the UniverseMostly Harmless
Isaac Asimov
The End of EternityDavid Starr, Space RangerThe Foundation TrilogyFoundation and EmpireFoundationSecond FoundationMort
Philip K. Dick
UbikDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?The Man in the High CastleA Scanner DarklyThe Collected Stories, Vol. 4: The Minority ReportThe Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick 2: We Can Remember it for You WholesaleThe Minority ReportThe Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick 1: The Short Happy Life of the Brown OxfordPaycheck and Other Classic StoriesThe Shifting Realities of Philip K. DickThe Philip K. Dick Reader
Hunter S. Thompson
Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. ThompsonThe Gonzo Tapes: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. ThompsonGonzoGonzo: The ArtFear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American DreamThe Joke's OverHell's AngelsThe Rum DiaryBetter Than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie
Kurt Vonnegut
Breakfast of ChampionsCat’s CradleWelcome to the Monkey HouseGalápagosThe Sirens of TitanMother NightGod Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A NovelA Man Without a CountryPlayer PianoTimequakeDeadeye Dick: A NovelBluebeardBagombo Snuff BoxGod Bless You, Dr. KevorkianWampeters, Foma and GranfalloonsArmageddon in RetrospectLook at the Birdie: Unpublished Short FictionSlaughterhouse-Five
Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom SawyerA Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's CourtThe Prince and the PauperThe Complete Short Stories of Mark TwainPudd'nhead WilsonThe Diary of Adam and EveLife on the MississippiThe Bible According to Mark TwainThe Mysterious StrangerThe Wit and Wisdom of Mark TwainMark Twain Tonight!Mark Twain's San FranciscoThe Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other SketchesThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Adventure

I awoke to a strange and trembling new terrain about me,
Popping with the white-hot glare of a sandblasting heat,
And an enormity that flashed in all directions in my ears,
But the most strange and trembling part of it all,
Was that I had awoken fully awake, and standing.

The last thing I remember was drinking coolly of the murk
Of a dark and deep cave, grimy with the silt of the ages.
A small black cavecat skittered right across my pass,
And hovered a moment, head backturned to study me,
Eyes all aglow and flaming as a falling sun set behind.

And the sharp and angled shadows that had followed me,
Fell into grey and blurred figures of dissimilarity, so that
I could tell no longer the fine details in the cracked rock,
Or the floating speckles in the water, and soon my hand
Was gone from the end of my arm, as was the nose from my face.

It could have only have been a couple of seconds,
And then again it seemed that I lived several lifetimes,
And perhaps I was awake for it all, or maybe I slept.
But what affronted my eyes when I snapped awake,
Was a terrible and nightmarish sight like I had never seen.

A procession of swimming, blubbering, insectoid larvae,
Each shiny in its beetle’s shell, its legs instead discs of cool flame,
Pushed along like smooth caterpillars with hard organs,
Following an invisible river, a path cut deep into the ground.
But they appeared to overtake each other like minnows.

Indeed, they swam as in a school, lined up in neat trembling rows,
Like the paired segments of the carnivorous desert bandiwurm,
Old myths, but I have seen them in my traversing the far off dunes.
And this travel had become a frightening one, everything disjointed,
An unforgiving apathy of all the interconnectedness around them.

The shimmering, glassy foreheads of each of these monsters
Housed demons, eyes piercing into me with a truth that I couldn’t know.
Almost hairless, and quivering with sadness and turmoil and paranoia.
They stepped into and out of their host creatures as they pleased,
And were garbed in the most fantastic and peculiar of ways.

Looking down to shield my eyes from the glare of the sun,
I noticed that I was wearing a coat of flat animal’s skin,
Green and brown and black and the soft color of wet stone.
Like a pressed reptilian leatherskin padded with foliage,
But it had not the weight nor the texture of such a makings.

As my eyes adjusted to the day I noticed two things;
Those singularly beautiful and indescribable clothes,
(With the nagging wonder as to the point of their origin),
And the cold. For despite that incandescent ball of day,
A biting chill explored my extremities and slowed my blood.

I lifted my hand from my eyes, cautious against my surroundings,
And took a hard, squinting look from beneath the stabbing shadow
At the forms and figures that passed this way and that.
Many wore dark cloth, and carried taut packages at their sides.
Most of them hurried as if to a hunt, but walked in a straight line.

They reminded me of the familial people of my home,
In the land of the craggy caves and crooked rocks.
For protruding from the ground were hills and mountains,
But I saw that they were sheer as if crafted by these demons.
And many had pointed juts that cut into a familiar sky.

Towering, shimmering immensity, they must have housed giants,
And I thought that they would awaken from their shapely
Cocoons and make with their attack at any moment.
And the one largest before me had a cavernous carved opening,
As if its inhabitant had recently emerged and bounded away.

As dusk fell, the earlier secret eyes of the swimming bugbeasts,
Awoke into yellow flame against the rainy snow and erupted with a crackle.
I fell to sit against flat stone and held myself warmly, awake with fear.
Images and colors I had scarcely seen, shot me like lightning bolt arrows,
Whenever I flickered my eyes, trying to sense an imminent attack.

As my breathing calmed, I stood once more, and my blood stirred from it.
It didn’t look like I was in any of harm’s way, and no longer panicked.
But I kept my wary guard and balanced evenly on the balls of my feet.
I looked to the sky directly above me, and saw the stars shyly emerge.
Hidden behind a murky veil, I struggled toward them to see.

The clouds had grown here, presuming this was at all like my home,
To encompass a sky once lively with wood and leaf and birdlife.
Never before but on the mountains and plains had such a sky been seen,
Presented and obscured at the same time by the contempt of the wind,
And the temperamental spirits that control its destiny over climes.

Far on the horizon, my sharp eyes cut through the sheer rock faces
To witness a pink and dying sunset, hidden by a veil of rainless rain clouds.
The wind sprites had long abandoned their posts here, or perhaps,
Had never graced this land with their benevolent dance of balance,
Instead leaving only these demons, and I thought at once that I was in hell.

Had I died in that cave, and gone to the dark place for my final trial?
Perhaps the legends had been wrong about our gods and demons,
And this ‘other-world’ was all that had been real, for it was too real.
Had I been alive, I wondered, in that cave I had known since my youth,
Which was the dream, and was this some god or wizard’s intervention?

As if in answer, the vertical hills and mountains filled with sorcerer’s light,
And the dead leafless trees themselves lit in defiance of the moonless night.
Luminescent as the day must be in hell where no sun can survive,
I rubbed my hands together to bring life to my crackling digits and joints,
And tried to ignore the jungle-roar of my neglected and long-famished belly.

Though I dare not move from my post, as any good hunter has learned,
I thought it best to acquaint myself with this alien terrain and peoples,
If anything to better prepare myself to survive this new life, or afterlife.
In no direction was a path home to be seen, and I tasted an acrid copper
Smell in the air, heralding a burning death that permeated this place.

I had passed a dozen eyes before I realized that these were no demons,
But passive, cold humans, each aimed directly towards their destiny,
That little beyond the ebb and flow of the invisible river could hinder.
They had in them the warm blood of life, though I had no way of knowing,
If perhaps this was some trickery, or still the suitable case of being in death.

And that’s when I saw a young human, timid and weak for survival,
Who averted his eyes from mine, his elder, and challenged no one.
He pulled himself back into his skins and cloths, and sneezed.
I reached out to him in a moment for information, for simple guidance.
He reeled when my fingers curled around his arm, and as they did…

…I had this dream last night that I was back in high school,
And that was also Strategic Air Command for some reason,
And that for some reason we were located in a box canyon,
And that a deadly sandstorm was barreling down to kill us all.
And so I went to find my old high school girlfriend (how lame),
And couldn’t see over the tumultuous panicking crowds,
And each of the escape pods in the plastic tubes jettisoned,
And so I made my way towards the center of the school,
And retrieved my jet pack from its locker in shop class.
And as the flesh-searing sands stormed closer, I was off.
And I searched and I searched for my lost sweetheart,
And just when I thought that I saw her amongst the throng,
And the deadly tearing particles of dust inched ever closer,
And her eyes finally met mine…

I lost control of the nonsensical vision, of the stalwart spirits between us.
A highly confusing affair, the information seeped into the crevices of my brain.
I lost grasp of the man, the parasite for whom these angels of night suckled.
He walked faster past and away from me, and I fell full onto my front,
And tasted the cold stony air of the hard canyon that grew above me.

I had read his dreams, like the old ones of my people were learned to do,
As I, my father’s son, would have been taught to do, had it not been for–

I firmed myself, convinced that these demon people were as real as I,
This place simply their fantastic village, as in stories told by my well-traveled uncle
And fully accepted that I was trapped in a world of evil gods, or the dead.
I approached a woman of this massive opal-smooth chasm of echoes,
Hoping her matronly ways and instincts would convince her to help me.

As I spoke and stumbled, she moved away, perhaps afraid of my kind?
With a start, she was gone, and my vision darted, suspiciously grasping.
Could it be that these demons were afraid of a man, a man such as I?
Is it possible that I was brought here against their will, not in accordance?
Had I power over their monstrosities? Would I battle their highest king?

Paul Harvey News and Comment brought to you by Natural Gas! It’s totally natural

“Hello, America. This is Paul Harvey. Stand by for news! You’ve heard the news, in a moment you’re going to hear… more news. But first… the news.

Today’s news of most lasting sssignificance may be this: Now, new strategy in the Middle East: Most world leaders say no to peace in the Middle East. Psychic Selma Hayek was very critical, not sunflower oil. So says Islamic Extremist Iman O’Doderincoot. Iman has never once forgotten an anniversary. The President of these United States of America and also Missouri addressed the Congress of these United States of America and also Missouri today in a tirade that the press are calling the “State of the Union!” address, to compel them to approve another sixteeeen billion dollars in military spending? He said: There is no way… no way… no way Hezbollah’s missiles will ev-er be de-stroyed… no way. We are fighting a war that cannot be won. Cannot be won? And Congress approved his bidget without any unanimity or carousal. Wal*Mart em-ploy-ees could still veto.

It’s true. Just like your local True Value Hardware Store. When you let a True Value Hardware Store into your commercially zoned district then you’re making less room for drug-addled moms and pops peddling their ill wares. Ill! Why, with new advancements in technology, scientists are predicting that a local True Value Hardware Store could protect you from the oncoming super-hyper-mega-global-superstorm. And it’s gonna be big, too! Support your local True Value Hardware Store, the only Hardware Store that guarantees not… not to kidnap your daughter, and you’ll know you couldn’t have a better neighbor.

Numismatists will be displayed at the Denver World Fair, teeeeen nineteen-thirty-three gold double-eagle standards be-yond price, but by that date only Chicago will be above water.

This scientific development may be of the utmost crucial significance to our modern world since the first sssssslicing of bread back in 1492. Scientists, scientists have discovered the fossils of born-again robots on the moon, each resplendent with cap-sules for Ocular Nutrition and Health! Don’t believe me? Of course you do. I’m Paul fucking Harvey.

Anybody in Detroit who has been pointing laser beams at the airplanes, don’t do that. It’s not nice and several pilots have complained.

Donald Raaaaaay Bizbeeee sent bomb threats and anthrax to the FBI with his full name and return address. Donald Ray Bizbee was married yester-day to Alabama, page two. How many ninety-six-year-old college radio stations do you know with a blue-belt in karate? I know of one. Caroline Eggplant keeps her virgin bones pure with ssssssscitrical. Citrical hides its neuropeptides behind fudge, and caramel, and butter! Virgina Cootch says that the pain in her knees has only gotten worse. The horr-or. The unbearable horr-or.

She’s spunky! Yes, she’s spunky! When faced at knifepoint by grown men pretending to be cowboys, Deuteronomous Jones grabbed a carving knife four-teeeen inches long, and in her best Austral-i-an accent intoned the words, “You call that a knife? This is a knife.” That story… may or may not… be true?

Look, ma. On top of the world.

College Newspapers across America and also Missouri are printing editorial comment on noted actor Jeff Goldblum. But (chuckles) the youngsters say it’s not all their fault. (serious) It came to them in a dream..

A woman in Mesa, Arizona shot dead in the street seven times in the chest and her lifeless body ravaged by necrophiles who have already killed eleven. Was it or not… fould play? Go on to the website and tell us your story about a stand-strong woman you know.

Walgreens has more than seventeen-thousand drive-thrus! Now you can get your drugs even faster in this secure system. The makers expect to fill.. the… sky… with them. Two more reasons PauL Harvey won’t confess to murder.

And now. For what it’s worth: We’re standing around dying, to chant our feeble litanies, to think sweet thoughts, to do good deeds, the altar lights grow pale and dim, the bells hang silent in the tower- so passes with the dying hymn our little hour. We cannot remain indecisive and scorekeeping, our founding fathers denies us that ethical asylum by elbowing smallpox blankets and chiggers.. chiggers! Aglow with luminary up and down the discovery of the West across the shores and continents in nineteen-forty-eight for your Bose-wave radio. Small-town full-time policemen going by their first name and American self-righteousness: and nothing is right or wrong but thinking makes it so, and (chuckles) I don’t know, but I think we’re right. Praiseworthy weapons in silos of hope have made us what we are today, a trial by fire, not made of sugar-candy. And we grew prosperous. Yes, we greased our toenails with the sweat of slaves in 98% of all cases. They do not believe what I have just told you. But what I have just cited is true, and everybody knows it. Everybody but the United Nations, the Offices of Judicious International Immigration Revue, tomato-plants and even foreign fire crews at the National Academy of Sciences. And at the edge of this genocidal nation-state, a while butterfly flies overhead rows and rows of stallions, and snap-peas and Agalinis purpure, purple foxgloves… under scrutiny of the Federal Food and Drug Administration… for soon friends, maybe we can answer that age old question of what is right? Well, friends, right is just left going the… other… direction?…

Paul Harvey. Good day?

Chiquita Shares

CHIQUITA SHARES

Once upon a time there was a tiny island upon the land of which lived a tiny race of tiny people, whom where known as… “The Japanese.” Long ago there had been a tiny war with their embittered rival… “The America.” America, a great, expansive, faraway land, was a proud nation with great talk shows and chicken wings of great fire. They waged a great war with great bombs until a great peace treaty was signed. And it was all pretty great.
Over many years, the Japanese and the American economies fused into one amorphic symbiotic entity, an increasingly indistinguishable mixture in some sort of pot… with melting in it. I don’t know if you know where I’m going with that or not. The culture gap, thusly, was blurred as growing children of each nation were raised on the cartoons of the other. Leaders and speakers from each land slurred their languages together into one. And so it was, that Japan and America became… “Jamericorp.” A company dedicated to liberty, harmony, and low, low prices on all brand name items. Any vestige of former government was abandoned, forgotten for this new enterprise.
Soon after this abrupt and poorly crafted plot point was put into effect, the Japanese scientists renowned for developing square watermelons were contracted by Chiquita. Their project was top secret, the utmost in national security. In fact… I don’t think I should really be telling you this… hmmm… don’t know if I can trust you to… weeeell… hokay, you got an honest face. As it so happened, they were trying to create a single banana, independent of the rest of its bunch, large enough to feed a family of eighteen. (Ed: That’s how large the average Jamericorp family is. Yeah.) And they succeeded. And Chiquita shares went up forty points, giving them a total of… forty points.
But the Japanese scientists soon became very bored, as they are wont to do. They hypo-theorized: if this was all it took to feed a family of eighteen, then why not a family of twenty-seven, the age that Kurt Cobain died at? Or why not a small African village? Hell, why not even a moderately-sized African village? Why not Detroit? You know those scientists. They are all about the charity and stuff. So they developed a meta-banana, immense as a skyscraper and at least 20-60% tastier. (Ed: This does not include some of your well-known tastier towers such as the Coit Tower or that one in Pisa.) And they succeeded. Chiquita shares went up one hundred more points.
However, the scientists noticed that their meta-bananas, lacking meta-refrigeration, were becoming rotten shortly past their prototype phase, and that some of the larger and more meta of the bunch didn’t even make it past R&D. And so the scientists genetically altered the makeup of the banana’s DNA even further, endowing it with impenetrable peel and allowing the sweet and juicy innards to stay sweet… and juicy, rendering the banana invincible, as it were. (Ed: ‘As it were’? Shouldn’t it be ‘as they were’ or ‘as it was’? Whatever.) And they succeeded in doing so, and Chiquita shares went up one hundred and seventy points.
Again, they became very bored. They had exhausted all practical and ideal developments for the banana. So much so, in fact, that now these bananas could not even be opened to be eaten. Not only could they not be eaten, they couldn’t even be consumed. So they gave the bananas an artificial intelligence comparable to Nintendogs or Albert Gore. This banana would ripen on command and peel itself. And they succeeded, and as they did so, Chiquita shares went up ninety points.
But one fateful night, something went frightfully wrong. As the scientists slept in their tiny beds, Prototype Banana-43 awoke and, crashing through the minimally secured compound walls, (this is Japan, after all), headed the ludicrously crowded city of Tokyo. That’s right. Tokyo.
Kimi Fukishawa was the first to see the giant banana, and the first to meet her fruity fate. Standing atop her apartment building on the outskirts of town, smoking a cigarette, her eyes widened as they took in the monster, shaking off its debris. She let loose a horrendous scream, slightly out of sync with her lips. Her husband raced upstairs, but he was too late. All he found was trail of wreckage blocks wide, fiery carnage spewing from gas mains, and both his wife and half of his roof missing.
In the following days, madness ensued. The weak Japanese army and cheaply made American weapons were no match for the impregnable peel of the beast. Tanks toppled like Matchbox toys, and bodies smeared against the pavement resounding with terror! The death count reached into the millions, rose even higher, as the property damage counted in the million-billions! I’m not great at math, but I can assure you, that’s a fucking lot!
Screaming and running from what reporters and analysts had dubbed ‘Bananazilla,’ the masses were soon crushed under the enraged stem of deranged lunacy. Having utterly crushed Japan’s center of commerce, its economy inadvertently destroyed, and subsequently, America entering its worst Depression since the cancellation of TV’s Jeopardy!, Bananazilla retired to the Oceanic depths, waiting to strike again in a fervor of tyranny! Jamericorp ceased to be! The scientists, in their final moments, had decried their folly in playing God, and were now also dead. The remaining Japanese hid underground surviving on regimented diets of sewer-sushi and Li-Chi, millions of Americans with nothing to eat at all but mayonnaise, confused and wandering their emptied cities. Luxembourg became the world’s leading superpower. Didn’t see that one coming, didja?
There was no recovering, and there was no respite, for at any given place and at any given time, Bananazilla, scourge of humanity and developed civilization, could and would strike again. Wreaking havoc neatly and constantly striking fear into the already chilled souls of every man, woman, and tender child, each quaked, as they knew they were still at risk. The beast… hungered. It delighted only in darkness and the bringing of great nations to its knees, removing their proverbial jugular veins in a fit of willful and impassioned fury, when least suspected. It was, and still is out there somewhere, the embodiment of all that rings evil.
And Chiquita shares went down five hundred points…

ANACHROMISTIC

“Graffiti is beautiful, like a brick in the face of a cop.”

-Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Professor Ducard had discovered the secrets of time travel. They lie not in some convoluted device powered by highly radioactive and unstable elements, nor by reciprocating magnetic fields, nor by hypnotic regression or aliens or astral travel. The much sought after method of breaking the fourth dimensional wall, so to speak, was found in art.

A well-respected curator, restoration conservator, and avid collector, the good Professor was quick to discover that paintings, with little to no magical impetus, would transport the viewer to the millennia and decade they depicted. And in no metaphorical sense, either, as countless unwitting museum patrons were sadly killed in unexpected Inquisitions, dropped into pits of hellish fire, bitten in the genitals by snakes, mauled by dragons before saintly knights could even react, or found nude and fallen down fractured abstract staircases.

Ducard’s gallery was a tourist trap in more ways than one, and as such, had to be shut down. The French government, for the first time since before its last socially important revolution, found itself censoring an entire gallery of art. Many scholars agreed that it was a great loss to both the worlds of physics and art history, though few agreed what censorship, if ever, was justifiable, and fewer still claimed that France should have been censoring its pretentious art decades ago.

The Professor himself was hardly missed, however, when he went missing in some dark part of the museum one weekend, perhaps drowned in one of any number of Tempests. He was survived by a loving wife, three fully-grown children, and a cadre of art restoration fan-girls/girlfriends, of which there were two.

But this story truly takes place after the paintings were separated by retailers and oceans, and the gallery itself destroyed in a rather poetically justifiable widespread fire, of which I will not comment, other than to say that both physicists and artists would agree on its beauty.

One such painting, Cave, an obscure artist’s reference of an archaic time, was sent to modern day  Chicago, where it still resides. Though it was assumed by the buyer to have lost all ‘magical’ properties with its separation from its gallery collection, and the aforementioned loss of said gallery, it was chanced upon one night by Ex-Cop turned Security Guard Ermine Hester.

Officer Hester, no longer bound for glory-filled days on the street, busting junkies’ heads against sidewalks as his only artistic endeavor, (and Pollock-approved, at that), now had a beat of three wings and a foyer to walk. Though the occasional kicking-on of the air-conditioner would sometimes spring him into paranoid frenzies of attention, gun wavering with nerves and experience, most of his time was spent at his post in the foyer, reading cheap True Crime novels and Detective Fiction, depicting little difference between the two. At the bottom of each hour, he would interrupt such endeavors to stand creakily from his metal chair, stretch his body, yawn widely, and brandish a club for a nighttime prowl.

There was not much to do, as there weren’t many people with the common decency to try and burglarize a collection of priceless art. Probably because, if True Crime tells us anything, ‘priceless’ means ‘immobile’ on the black market. In fact, in his Security Firm job, just as in his former law-enforcement days, Officer Hester had but the occasional distraction of loitering vagrants and graffiti artists about the building to threaten.

Time took its effect on Hester, and employees and even patrons were heard to refer to him as ‘Festerin’ Hester.’ Senility, though not entirely taking hold, was able to grapple effectively with Ermine. The building wasn’t particularly big, so he was the only security guard necessary, and yet was still seen calling for backup on the walkie-talkie he’d insisted on carrying. The curators feared, in the back of their minds, the day when Ermine too his zeal a little too far, and broke open the skull of some hapless spray can hooligan.

Ermine Hester didn’t have much of a background in art, Jim Davis notwithstanding, and as such, defined art as ‘that which resides inside the building inside a frame’ and graffiti as ‘everything else.’ The definition constituted fine as far as the owners were concerned, and Ermine did his job.

Half-crazy as he was, though, it certainly didn’t bother Officer Hester much when he walked into the wing of the museum dedicated to realism in art, and discovered Cave. He may have squinted at it for a second, perhaps even rubbed his eyes a bit, as he walked back and forth to notice the vantage point within the painting changing with his movements. Not a painting at all in fact, he assumed, but an open window to some hitherto unknown outdoor portion of the museum. When it was constructed, Hester thought, he couldn’t remember.

It was daylight according to this portal, and Officer Hester couldn’t recall missing that amount of time that had transpired between seeing it was clearly night at his initial post, and daylight here. Perhaps this was some newly installed modern art piece, or a fancy door that led to another gallery room that was only well-lit enough to look to be outside. Perhaps again, he thought, this was just a shining example of what those longhairs could do with a horsehair brush and plenty of paints. They never cease to amaze.

Ermine took a solitary fingertip and, wary of the damage his oily hands may cause, carefully tried to brush the canvas, only to discover that there was none. With as much trepidation as somebody expecting a window when there wasn’t one, and as much surprise as somebody who quickly discovered a glass pane where they hadn’t expected one, he put his entire hand to the painting’s surface.

Clearly, it was no painting. He couldn’t remember if this had been here yesterday or not, but then again, Ermine couldn’t even recall what paintings were directly behind him in that very room. So, assured now of its integral structure to the building, and as such, his duty to patrol it, he stepped through the hole.

On the other side of that wall lie no other room such as he had ever seen, but a lush forest surrounding the entrance to a cave hallway. Surely, the strangest museum exhibit since Mapplethorpe. Well, perhaps not that bad.

So he continued along, so transfixed, that he didn’t look back behind him to mark his progress. If he had, he would have seen that there was no longer a wall holding a frame, but simply a floating portal that had presented to primitive people quite a spectacle over the years.

In fact, just an hour earlier, Took (a coincidental primitive ancestor of French Enlightenment thinker Alex De Tocqueville), had stopped by to see ‘what was on.’ But he was sadly disappointed to see it hadn’t appeared yet, and made a mental note to stop by later.

 

Years ago, ancient French tribal people had seen a single brushstroke appear in midair. It startled much of the womenfolk, and several of the men tried to kill it. The children were the only ones in awe of its beauty from the very start. Slowly, however, in a gauche-like haze, a man appeared set in a rectangular backdrop of Mahogany and various instruments. That bespectacled  and hairless biped on the other side smiled and waved at these cave-denizens. They screamed and hollered back, and he suddenly disappeared, much faster as he had appeared, and this upset the indigenous people much more. Especially Took, who was a child himself at the time. Over the years, the painting would appear, containing a happy little man who taught them various artistic endeavors, such as constructing their own brushes and paints, and how to depict what you see in your environment.

Where the concept originally came from remains a mystery of poor writing.

Took took to the art form from the beginning, and impressed even that anachronistic teacher with his ingenious ability to incorporate design flaws in the slate tablets as part of his overall composition. Soon after, cave walls were filled with men, with animals, with symbolic gesture drawings with perhaps even no meaning at all. The expressionists had their competition.

Tribal spirals and herds of animals, the first fast food menu, if you will, adorned much of their dwellings. It was something to do, when you weren’t worried about survival or reproduction, which sadly consumed much of the cave people’s time, or else they may have gotten into such abstract concepts as shading, backgrounds, and the philosophical importance of social archetypes. But for now, wild beasts roaming freely floating one on top of the other would have to suffice.

Whether he had fulfilled some fated cyclical need, or was simply speeding up a process that would have commenced without him, the beloved art teacher vanished, and the backdrop changed. The primevals watched as the rectangle showed them moving pictures, different faces, and views beyond their ability to comprehend.

Equally frustratingly unaware was Ermine Hester, as he infuriatingly shook with rage at the blatant disregard for public property, for modern established law, and just downright decency! He tried to rub off some of the icons from the stone walls, but only a few were fresh enough to vanish on his sleeve.

Suddenly, he heard a skittering behind him, and grabbed his club, another unnecessary device he warranted for his nightly use. Didn’t seem so stupid now, did it, as several greasy, nubby madmen appeared out of the darkness, hair matted down into their faces, eyes glowing animalistic through and darting about. They finally fixed upon Ermine, and he gathered enough courage to flail about erratically.

His club was designed to prevent the breakage of skulls.

Theirs, (though hardly designed much at all so much as simply found), weren’t.

ZZZZZZZZ

New classes have begun and I am already banging my head against the keyboard, hoping against hope that my random head trauma will spell out something intelligible. Hey, look at that! It’s like that time I was chatting with somebody, I fell asleep, and coincidentally typed, ‘zzzzzzzzzz.’

I’m taking Filmmaking again, in fact I am on a ten-minute break from that class, a much needed one at that, and I really hope this turns around because I do not want my most interesting class this quarter to be Economics. Which, ironically, seems like its going to be pretty fun.

I had an idea for a short story, as well as a sort of hypochondriac character who may or may not be the MAIN character. Here is a short character bio.

“I had asked her out again, in the typical way, and she asked back what was wrong with me, so I started a mental inventory. I have two left heels. Not two left feet, just two left heels. It doesn’t really make a big difference when I walk, it’s just something that’s wrong with me. My incisors are a little too sharp, and I’m missing one of my wisdom teeth. It never came in. I had the other three removed, as per doctor’s orders, but that fourth just never came, and the dentist is at a loss to explain it. Still missing in action, or as I prefer to see it, AWOL. My cuticles are backwards. I can’t extend or distend my right arm the same as the left. There is a small chip in the bone of my left scapula. I sniff my nose after every three-hundred and forty-second word. I blink unnecessarily. I may have cancer, not one of the major ones, and not anywhere important, so I can’t really complain, but someplace, some time. Cancer. I can’t have pets to save my life, or preferably, to save theirs. I’ve never won a fight, but I’ve never lost an argument. I’m ambidextrous, but a nun in Catholic school beat the left-handedness out of me, so it lies in wait like a sleeping Dragon. I can’t quit a job. I’ve only had one and the fact that I haven’t been able to quit or get fired from it no matter how I tried goes to show that while some people can’t keep a job, I am afflicted otherwise. It just isn’t fair. I’m terribly employable, and it’s going to waste. I’m pretty good with words, having learned most of them, I’m just not good at using them together to form coherent sentences when I verbalize. Also, I flake. But I think what she was really referring to was the fact that I’m not good with women.”

This is based on a dear friend of mine, whom happily, is far away from me right now.

the Ethics of Nature

Betrayed. That is what has happened to that last awesome marauding warrior. Betrayed by the dirt which he has used for centuries to bring forth yams, to pack the floors of his huts where his children play, to draw maps and designs of future building sites, and finally, to paint his face before a mightily anticipated battle. A battle that he will never see. As he slides slowly with each desperate but eerily patient struggle, deeper and deeper into the dirt, he realizes too late that had he stayed at home and sat this battle out, all of his men would have survived. Now they are all already below him in the quicksand, and the opposing army alive, well, and probably feeling pretty lousy right now at having been stood up.
Betrayed by the same dirt upon which rests the stones in a circle that represent the tribunal of authority in his tribe. At which the discourse of philosophy and law is made. Battles of words fought every day to expand not their musculature but their minds. Battles that, had they been content in their state of affairs, would be continuing today and tomorrow and the next day. Had the conversations not led to the eventual and current waging of war on surrounding territories for their land and power, had the conversation instead headed towards yams, then the warriors and their fearless suffocating leader would be enjoying a delicious yam feast right now.
Their children would play in the dirt, kicking it up, and later sit around a campfire and listen to a dirty old man covered in dirt regale them with stories and dirty jokes about their dirty pasts and dirt-enriched origins. They would later use the dirt to put out that same campfire. Down the dirt path would come a young man, dirt covering his skin to keep the flies from biting, returning from some philosophical voyage and not a warring one. They would play dirty tricks and say dirty words and eat dirty rice.
Surprised most of all by this strange turn of events however, is the Dirt itself.

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The Dirt, taken upon wings by an old friend, the Wind, then planned to discuss the matter further with the other natural members.
ìWind,î he did outcry, ìtake me to the top of that mountain. So that I may speak with the Snow and Ice and Sleet, our estranged cousins.î
ìThey are no strangers to me,î replied the Wind, ìfor there is no element of nature that exists that does not accompany the Wind.î
ìBraggart!î the Dirt did tease his brother, ìstop this foolishness then, and if you think so well of yourself and wish to prove it unto others, then by actions and not words bring me quickly to the other members of our natural family, for I have many things to discuss and not all of eternity to get it done in.î
ìQuit your playfulness,î the Wind answered, ìfor I am several million years your senior and there is nothing that you could explain to me so patronizingly that I do not already know. Besides, there is nothing which needs to be discussed with anyone so quickly that there are not several epochs that it may take to get around to it.î He stopped to revise himself. ìFor it is said that a butterfly on one side of the planet may someday cause an earthquake or a tidal wave on the other. It is said that, with patience, a dove with his wing may wear down the tallest mountains. How else does a tiger eat an elephant, dear cousin, but bite by bite?î
The Dirt, impatient as hell, shot back, ìAh, but you do blow from the swelter of desert, my brother. Have you seen my dearest twin, the Sand? What news from the dunes and newly built pyramids?î
ìTalk to me not of those pyramids!î The Wind blustered angrily, ìFor they are not of a natural order! The abominations should be damned to the sea or else consumed by fire!î
ìBut brother, are they not made of stone and sand? Is it not the same if not near-same materials which comprise our friend the mountains?î
ìTeasing is something that I have learned to accept as a matter of course from you, ignorant child, but if you resort to blasphemy, then–î
ìNot at all, friend. In fact, the problem at hand with the flourishing human population is but of one of the many matters that I need to discuss with our brethren.î
Stilled suddenly, the Wind pondered this predicament. Would he be seen as implicated in the trouble that surely Dirt was going to stir? Surely, the Wind thought, it would be fleeting as the problem of man itself was sure to be. And surely, the Wind thought, it would provide some much needed howls of laughter, something that the Wind had been bereft of for quite some time.
ìI consent to your request,î the Wind said, picking up a little as he rose with Dirt in tow, ìand additionally, I will take you to see our other many friends and relatives so that you may discuss whatever blasphemies you have to discuss.î
ìBlasphemies are for people, as people believe in things and punish those with subversive proclamations. Retribution is a human thing.î
ìAh, sweet brother,î the Wind cooed, ìYou will soon see that retribution is universal to all things. However, you are correct that elements of nature do not punish one another for subversive thoughts. At the very least, though, you will make a fool of yourself and quite possibly myself as your accomplice. But I shanít argue, and weíll see which of our brethren dare to. Surely, only a fool takes up a foolís argument.î
The journey was not as long as Dirt would have expected. The Wind, though full of himself, was quite accurate on his claims to the ability to travel almost anyplace instantaneously. For Dirt, who travels at a wormís pace from shore to inland and through the air, this was a well-deserved treat.
At the top of the mountain, congregating randomly and so fast that they all became one, were those insidious sisters Snow and Ice and Sleet.
ìHow dare you come this way!î Shot the Ice, turning a cold shoulder to the Dirt and Wind. Dirt believed at first that she was addressing him, but it became apparent that Wind was the deviant she spoke to when he replied.
ìDear sisters, I have not come to harm you. I am not here to spread you senseless, nor is this a social visit. My friend here, whom you have not seen for a very long time, foolishly brings forth questions of a philosophical nature. Allow me to reintroduce the Dirt.î
ìMy, how handsome. And dry!î Shrieked the Sleet.
ìSomebody cold to cuddle up to on those warm nights.î Cooed the Snow, softly.
ìI think he needs a bath.î Dissented the Ice.
ìSpeaking of your mother,î interrupted the Dirt, for the first time, ìhow far are we from the ocean?î
ìNot far,î replied the Snow, ìyou can see it from these heights.î
Sure enough, off in the distance, a tidal wave was consuming an island nation off the coast. Though there was no love lost between these three sisters and their mother, who with the Wind had cast them up there, they still enjoyed the laughter wrought on by her carnage.
ìIt is good to see others feel the brunt of motherís insanity for a change.î The Ice said, bitingly.
ìI only wish we would get more humans up here.î The Sleet hissed, ìIt just isnít fair. Very rarely is it that we get a chance to freeze any foolish travelers.î
ìI donít know,î the Snow whispered, ìI sort of like the humans.î
ìShut up!î the other two shouted, blowing harshly.
ìIt is just that matter which we wish to discuss with you, however.î the Dirt piped in.
ìReally? Shall we discuss the best way in which to kill a human? Shall we discuss the proper length for keeping them alive? Perhaps the fun of watching them ever-so-slowly decomposing in such cold climates? Why, did you know, up above at the very peak of this mountain, we can keep a human body indefinitely? Isnít that fun?î
ìNo!î The Dirt churned inside. ìI am here to discuss with you the very ethics of such murder!î
The sisters settled down. The Wind, embarrassed, stopped moving. Even the Snow, who was mostly silent, fell a little.
ìWhat was that?î spoke a grating voice from below and above and around them all.
ìWho is that?î cried the Dirt.
ìIt is I, the mountain upon whom you pose such silly conferences. I am the Stone Elder.î
ìI apologize for disturbing you, sir,î stirred the Dirt, ìbut it is of most grave consequence to the benefit of this planet, and to my very own conscience. Hopefully, it shall be for us all.î
ìA conference, you request then, amongst all the elements?î
ìIt is, sir.î
The Stone was silent for a moment. His many stratum contemplating this.
ìWind, do you follow in this Dirtís way of thinking?î
ìHa, ha. My, no, Stony-baby. I thought it would be a lark if I tagged along and rode this one out. Besides, how else was the Dirt going to get a ride out here? Besides on the soles of a humanís shoes, which, aside from complicating the situation, would take quite a long time, as these sisters did say.î
ìYes. Very well. I, too, shall humor this idiot. But if there is to be a conference, (and if I am to be disturbed for it), may we not gather all the elements together? I want them all to share with me in this lunacy.î
ìHow delightfully stubborn of you, dear Stone.î The Wind said, howling with laughter.
ìDonít dare to bring Fire up here!î Shrieked the Sleet.
ìNor our mother!î the Snow gently spoke.
ìNonsense! We must find some neutral ground, where it is befitting for Fire, Water, Snow, and Dirt. Wind, make it so.î
And thus the wind began to shoot about in several directions. He began to spin around and around the mountain until he was a gigantic tornado, whipping the nearby sea about like confetti, dissipating the Waterís tidal waves and grabbing her attention. The Fire, who was meanwhile burning a small village in the jungle, put itself out long enough to get its ash over to the foot of the mountain.
The tornado, more violent now, lifted the mountain up and placed it closer to the beach and the jungle, making a sort of neutral ground, and a sort of courtroom for these elements to confer within. The Wind, though part of the conference within the boundaries of the tornado, kept it going as a sort of barrier, keeping humans and all other life out for this meeting.

The water, it was known well within the group, was quite guilty of crimes against humanity. Not a few centuries prior, it seemed, a great flood had overtaken the Earth, and destroyed most life. At varying intervals, the water had eradicated certain island nations, and an entire continent that the humans called ëAtlantis.í
Fire, a quiet fizzle in the background of the group, could be accused of having been in league with man in many situations. As man learned to cook, as he murdered the families of other men, as he kept himself alive each winter against the Snow and Ice and Sleet. Fire, for this and other reasons, kept his distance from those sisters, as well as all watery elements. And though a good distance from the Wind and Dirt that could easily put out a healthy Fire, it managed to stay within the inner circle of the groupís conversation, as wind has been known to help and not hinder the spread of wildfire.
It was also known, to Dirt and to the others, that Fire was one of the biggest accomplices to the genocide of man. Entire countries and forested areas burned by Fire and volcanic ash. Individuals roasted alive in social protest, and innocent domesticated fires gone insanely out of control. Fire, it could be said, was the fun-loving guy at every party that wants to be your friend, but if you mess with him in a bad way, youíre asking to be burnt.

ìWhat is the meaning of this?î Said the Water, splashing ashore creating a high tide against the mountain.
ìShut up, you.î The Stone Elder rumbled. ìThis is the Dirtís doing, I will let him begin. I shall preside over this meeting, and attempt to guide it, to gird you more untamable elements. Dirt?î
ìYes, ahem, thank you.î the Dirt rasped a little, checked himself, then began. ìAs you all know, the problem of man presents us with quite a little question. We may see it as a threat that has to be ended. As he nets the fish from the Waterís oceans. As he tames the Fire for his own ends. I, perhaps, have the most reason to complain, for I am trod upon every day.î
ìYeah, tell ëem!î Fire cackled.
ìHowever,î the Dirt continued, ìI have adopted the stand that man is of no real threat, as we are not fragile beings, certainly not as fragile as man, and should thus forth let him be. Or at the very least, go easy on him.î
ìMan is a virus!î Shot out the Sleet.
After a moment, the Dirt prodded her, ìDefend your position or else keep it silent.î
The Wind said, ìThough I do not agree with the Dirt, I must say that it is better to stay silent and appear the fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.î Though this had the appearance of having been directed at the Sleet, a little westward blow, of course, let the Dirt know that he was not free from a foolís guilt.
ìThis is nonsense!î waves of Water crashed as she spoke, ìThere will come a day when man will deplete the fish of my oceans so much, and pollute my inlets, to the point where nothing can be replenished. There will be a day when I rain upon the Earth as acid, and the Wind shall blow nothing but smoke.î
ìFurther nonsense!î the Ice cut in. ìThis entire conversation is a silly waste of time. Man will kill, we will kill. Who cares? We are immortals, are we not?î
ìHa!î Said the Fire from the back, ìWas there not a time when this planet was yours, Ice? Did not itís entire surface belong to you? Now it is your motherís, or else it is the Stone and Dirtís.î
ìAnd yet I remain. My point is not that we can diminish, but that we are natural forces that should have no part in this ëman problem.í Dirt, if you do not like being trod upon, or if you do like it for some other masochistic reason, that is your problem. Do not concern us with it.î
ìIf your argument is to leave man alone, then why not do it?î The Dirt pointed out. ìWas it not you who spoke earlier of the fun you had murdering such small creatures?î
ìHad they been elephants, Iíd be no more or less entertained.î The Ice said slyly.
ìNot my point.î Replied the Dirt.
ìNow, daughter,î the Water put in, ìyou know there are no elephants who would go to cold climates anymore.î
ìYes, and whose fault is that?î The Sleet defended her sister.
ìShut up! Elephants are not the point!î The Dirt composed himself, ìThe reason we are here is to determine if it is right to murder man, or if it is better to let him be! You all know my stance, now the floor is open for debate!î
There was no reply.
ìCome now, who will debate me?î
Still no reply.
ìAm I to take this as an agreement that man is to be no longer touched, or a protest against these debates as a ëwaste of time?íî
ìWhy does this trouble you so?î Asked the Stone Elder, after a moment. ìWhat claims have you to the patronage of man?î
ìAh,î put in the Wind, quite sarcastically, ìthe heart of the matter.î
There was a murmur amongst those present.
ìWell, in a way,î the Dirt began humbly, ìWith our transient and presently silent cousin the Lightning, I am responsible for the life on this planet. As a bog mind you. As Clay and Mud, not Dirt, was I molded into the forms of life. With Lightning and electricity and the randomness of the universe for spirit did part of me go into these creatures. The single-celled organisms which became both plants and animals.î He was really stirring now, ìShould I not be proud of my greatest offspring?! Should I not see to the protection of the most advanced carbon life-forms this planet has known?! Am I not the under-credited father of man?!î
The Water chimed in at this point, ìHow can you claim to be the father of man, when you yourself said that only as Mud, and not Dirt, was this deed accomplished? If you are the father of man, and I am not purporting that you are, but let us suppose that you are, then I am the mother of life, part of you and part of I and all of us part of each other. Are the creatures themselves not largely comprised of Water?î
ìSpeak not of motherly love, hypocrite! How many have you drowned? How many infants have died at your hands? How many crops have you destroyed? More, if not the same amount, as those successful rains for the fields? Tell them also, of the unholy unions in which you and I murdered men and women in the jungle. Tell them how you made me a murderous weapon at your disposal, to sadistically sink humans into the ground and suffocate.î
ìDust to dust, dear Dirt.î the Water did reply, ìOur unholy union has resulted in unholy offspring. Another unholy union could easily eradicate such vermin! Do they not empty my waters of fish? Do they not pollute me and stop me up as beavers do, but for not such a benevolent purpose? Is it not on my churning surface that men wage wars and kill each other, tinting me red with rage and ignorance?î
ìAnd besides,î the Fire cut in, ìman can be said to have evolved the way he did as a result of the harsh external stimuli he has faced. Heís better off for it!î
The Dirt, now himself clouded with rage, was cut off from fumes by his traveling partner, the Wind.
ìIgnore his seething stupidity, dear cousins,î the Wind put in, ìThe Dirt has no doubt been persuaded by the idiot legends of such humans with religions. While most of them, if not all of them, worship the sun and the rivers as partial deities, they all dedicate full-time worship to the myth that a God of some omnipotent power fashioned man from Clay and Dirt. That woman resulted from that first man, who resulted from the Dirt.î
ìAre you telling us,î cackled the Fire, ìthat our little son has come to believe in a human God?î
The Stone Elder, however, did not laugh. He sat wondering deeper questions than those immediately brought to his attention.
ìVery well,î he said, ìif no consent can be reached among us elemental forms, let it be argued no further. For I have devised a way to convict man that surely cannot be rebuked by Dirt or any other defendant. As there is no fair jury here, it seems, we shall have to question some of manís victims, so that we gain a broader range of his menace.î
It was then that the kangaroo courtroom, the tornado that housed all these elements, lifted and dropped in a teeming pool of life somewhere. The Wind settled his outer wall, so as not to destroy the animals they hoped to question, as well as to dissipate the barrier between them.
However, when questioned, the animals responded almost unanimously with apathy and nonchalance. The predators did not want to appear hypocritical, as they ate of other animals. The herbivores, of course, did not want to appear hypocritical, as they ate of living creatures as well, the plants, that cannot even run or employ a fight or flight response.
In short, the animals did not mind the competition. For when asked about manís unfair advantage of weapon-making abilities, many if not all carnivores replied by saying that manís mind was the equivalent to a lionís claws or the sharkís teeth. A man, they reasoned, is not particularly fast or strong or even thick of hide like an elephant. As such, what sort of fair play would it be if a man did not have a mind to make weapons? A man, alone in the wild without his mind, could simply stand with trimmed fingernails and huddle into a fetal position, waiting to die.
When told of future events, of extinction and domestications and pollution, animals still did not waver in their positions.
ìIt is the way of things,î they all would say, ìthat certain species die out and others remain. Like the dinosaurs, the elephants and whales and man himself will wane and die out.î
Rabbits, cows, chickens, and other future food supplies for man, when told of the horrors in slaughterhouses that their members faced, would not waver. ìWhy not get fatted and flourish in numbers, even if it is to die for another species? Is that not what we do now when the summers are good? The purpose of each species, if it does not go extinct, is to multiply in numbers and provide food for another so that it may do the same. That is the way of things. If it is done painfully in the wild or in a slaughterhouse should not matter. The pain of death is something that we all must have to endure, be it at the claws of a lion as we die slowly and bleed to death and are eaten alive, or if our beaks are cut off by hot knives and our writhing, living bodies are thrown into scalding waters and breaded. Dust to dust.î

Having not gotten the answers that they wanted, the elements then implored upon the plants to see the horrors that man would soon wreak upon the land.
Surely the plants would be the greatest offended! As certain species of plants are moved about the globe, one new species strangling the other. As weeds from Europe take over trees in South America. As the glorious rain forests are razed to the ground to make room for cattle. As hypocritical vegetarians who refuse to eat living animal meat cruelly boil carrots and potatoes and cabbage alive, then smoke other forms or plants alive for pure recreation. As they kill them en masse for designer clothing and wooden buildings and toys and useless papers for useless news and useless short stories on useless subjects to be read by useless people.
Surely the plants would see that, after logging and pollution and urban development and the eradication of everything from redwoods to cacti to the sad, pathetic weeping willows, surely they would see the menace that man represents. They are, after all, the entire world. The soon-to-be-polluted algae of the oceans. The green oxygen-enriching plants of the world bound by their empathic life force. The elements explained things to them and begged for, at the very least, a poor recommendation on manís behavior.
The plants, however, said nothing.
Theyíre fucking plants!

ìThis does not appease me!î Cried the Stone Elder.
ìNor me,î fizzled the Fire just behind him, ìI fume for death in the streets!î
ìIdiots!î Boomed the thunder and Lightning. ìWas it not I who gave life to man and all life on this planet? Ask not the trees or the animals or even amongst yourselves whether or not this be a menace! I am who am and the origin of all that exists. Pure energy and magnetism that brought together this and all other planets! Enough of myselfÖ enough or too much of any of you, could destroy this planet alone. Should it not be consumed with Fire, or overtaken by Water as it already once was? Could not the earthquakes or volcanoes or even excessive wind eradicate all that lives or does not live on this surface? And yes, with a strong enough electrical plasma charge, I could do away with all of you.î
The thundering paused a moment for dramatic effect, during which all the other natural elements were silent, and when they were about to speak again, the thunderclap cut them off.
ìIs not man but another natural force? Simple carbon! Is he not another resource that may exhaust himself like the oil or the nitrogen? Think of this, foolhardy elements, that the greatest threat to manís future is man himself. All of your most awesome powers combined pale in comparison to the power which man wields against himself.î
ìBut that is exactly the point!î The Stone Elder rumbled, but to no avail over the deafening blows of thunderous speech.
ìHoweverÖ I should think that if natural elements such as ourselves could randomly create life once, it could be done again and again. If I decided, with Mud and primordial ooze, to fashion another set of creatures to evolve, I could do so. If man killed off himself and all life around him on this planet, the Stone and Water and Fire would remain. Polluted, tainted, perhaps, but remain you all shall. Thus we would begin anew and persevere as we have for all eternity. Look at man already, as he digs deep into the ground for iron, and accomplishes great feats of metallurgy. See as he harnesses the atom and a mastery of outer space travel. They are a self-eradicating problem. They are an autoimmune problem. They are nullifying. They are a transient nuisance at best. A minor rash that will pass, my friends, before our conversation is over.î
Sure enough, it seemed, the human problem had already begun to solve itself. In the several millennia or so that these elements had been busying themselves with the arguments and debates on ethical and philosophical questions, manís numbers had waned to inconsequential numbers. All this without the harshness of nature, as the natural elements were too busy with their quarrels to dedicate full animosity to the human beings. Mankind had had it easy, it seemed, for the past several thousand years, and had still managed to do away with themselves.
The sad irony of it, was that man attributed this kindness to a gentler, kinder God. The sad irony of it, was that if man had been too busy defending against natural elements, his technological progress would never have been the end of him.
Thus it was decided that natural elements should go about their business as they always had, not too cruel and not too kind, despite any changes in Earthís timeline.
It was not the success that the Dirt had hoped for, but it was compromise enough.
Never again, they decided, would nature argue ethics.

Gray

A drizzling, gray sky with a singular opening for a ray of light in the clouds. A bus stop, recently drenched, surrounded by one large puddling. The clouds reflect, moving slowly, rippled gently in the wind.
Across the street, rolling grass, settled by raindrops. The occasional car upsets the water, spattering the glass of the tiny shelter. Inside a girl sits waiting for her bus, smoking a cigarette. A man sits a little ways from her. He is very awkward at acting cool but it’s obvious by his furtive looks of lustful interest that he has succumbed to male libido. She doesn’t help, brushing her bare legs against one another, and the occasional glances seem to beckon him, though she mostly tries to ignore his existence. A older woman walks up, hanging up her cell phone in frustration. She huddles in, walking nervously around the man’s side, fidgeting with her phone. She is not as thin or attractive and obscures his view. He is disgusted by her, but she is his only source of money.
“Carl” she snaps, “Where’s our ride?” She snaps the phone open and closed. Snap, snap, snap.
“What do I know?”
“Dammit, you called Moreen, didn’t you?”
“I didn’t call nobody.”
“Shit, like hell you didn’t.”
“You’re the one with the phone!”
“Shut up.”
The girl puffs on her cigarette, she can’t be more than sixteen.
“Why didn’t you call mom?” The fat woman asks. He face is almost as red as her hair, scarred with pimpling.
“What do I know?”
“You know I hate her.”
“So.”
“Fucking pissed me off.”
The rain starts to pick up.
“She better not be coming.” The sun is starting to set, and a cold wind reaches them, the all shiver nearly in tandem. The woman curses, the man shrugs it off, and the girl pulls her jacket up. It belongs to her so-called boyfriend. The guy she’s sleeping with, anyway. He used to buy her flowers and nice things. And when they kissed it was all magic. She doesn’t care any longer. Now it’s all sex. She continues smoking. And it drifts to the other two as the breeze settles.
“What did he say?” The man actually seems interested for a moment.
“Shit.” She doesn’t care to answer. His little sister, his ugly little sister. He would’ve moved away years ago and never had to see her again had he not needed money. He tried. He needed money. He hates that. Wants to move to some tropical island where they don’t need money. He wouldn’t need much. Just him and twenty beautiful women. That’s what they call a dream.
His sister just always wanted a pony. Now she’s lower management at an accounting firm. Go figure.
“Here she is.” A car pulls up, they get in and pull away, disrupting the puddle as they go.
The girl throws he spent cigarette in the water, lights another one, and closes her eyes.

Precision

A man and a woman enter a carpet store, it is obvious who is in charge. She is short, squat, and loud when she moves. The man is timid, and does as he is told. They have had some trouble with this store in the past. She intends to raise hell.
“Good day, how may I help you?” the man at the counter asks.
“Is Brian here?” She seems very pleasant… to the untrained eye.
“I just got off the phone with him, he should be here in a half an hour. He was on Rt. 4 when I talked to him. What was your name?” He directs his question to the man.
“Smythe.” The woman answers. This is shown by the box of wooden flooring in their home marked ‘Smythe.’ It is surprising to see your name on something sometimes that you yourself did not put it on.
“Very good, make yourself at home, is there anything I can help you with?” He was trained to be polite.
“Where is your bathroom?” Mr. Smythe asks.
“At the end of the building, on the right.”
The building is mostly open, cluttered by tiles, rolls of carpets, the whole lot. A sort of showroom-warehouse-laminate. I just like the world laminate.
It is not quite half an hour before Brian arrives. But to the Smythes, it is long enough. Mes. Smythe is muttering, Mr. Smythe nervously jerking until she commands him to ‘stop that!’ When Brian does arrive, he immediately goes to the back of the store to talk to his employee. He is of medium build, height, with hairy arms, styled hair, and a five-o-clock shadow. He has dark, quick eyes, and strongly defined features.
“Are you the Smythes?” “Yes, are you Brian?” She says, picking up.
“Yes, what seems to be the trouble?”
“Well, we were informed by Jason that we would be able to move back in today. We just had a look at his progress and we don’t think that it looks too good. The water is still off and he was wanting to redo the entire kitchen, but we can’t afford to eat out or stay in a hotel any longer.”
“It was my understanding that he would have it done today, he wanted to put the toe strips in and you say you didn’t want that?”
“That’s correct, he was also thinking about putting in the shoes. I have some pictures… and… this space here, this is behind the refrigerator.” He voice goes up, requiring some sort of reply.
“Mm-hmm.” Is all she gets.
“This is about a two-inch gap, looking straight down, and the base boards wouldn’t cover that.”
“That’s why he wanted to use the tow strips.”
“Right. But we decided we didn’t like the look of that, right, hon?”
“Yes.” Mr. Smythe’s first contribution to Brian. He senses a further opening. “Here are some pictures from yesterday morning. The water is off, and they had urinated in our toilet without being able to flush.”
“The entire apartment smells.” She interjects.
“R-right,” fumbling with his words, not used to persuasive speaking, or any other kind, “a-and this is our cabinet, about, oh, fifteen years old.” Brian can’t seem to see the image, turns is around in his hand, or at least pretending it is too fuzzy. “This is the base, and here is the top, see, and that’s the scratch. Also, on Friday, we came home to find our window open, the lights on, and the back door unlatched, and yesterday…” showing another picture, picking up confidence as he does speed “it was unlatched again, and one of our lights was on.”
“And that,” she interrupts “is my money being wasted. I provided them with a fan, which I found on a breezy day pointing out the back door, just blowin’ all over!” She waves her small arms frantically to exaggerate the action.
“Mhm. I apologize, Jason’s one of my best workers, I never get any complaints, but again I apologize for the mess and the inconvenience and all.” After several more minutes of this, Jason walks through the door. He is skinny, with a goatee, and a smirking feigned sincerity.
“What’s up?” He casually asks.
“Did you put the shoes on without asking them first?”
“I had ’em set up to, but they didn’t want ’em, that’s what I heard.”
“I said to talk it over with them first.”
“I didn’t hear you say that but okay, whatever.” He seems to be straining from rolling his eyes.
“Look, is the mess cleaned up?”
“Yeah, but does your toilet run?” he asks, turning to the Smythes.
“Well, uh, what do you mean?” Mr. Smythe stumbles, trying to think.
“Well, it’s not overflowing or anything, but I think it won’t stop running.” He explains.
“Probably just the ball.” Brian knowingly adds nearly under his breath. He is clearly annoyed at Jason’s shoddy attitude and juvenile work. “Okay, I’ll be willing to go halfway with you on new base boards. Thick, you know.”
“I know, it’s not your fault, you have a business to run and you’ve already shelled out money from your own pocket.” She appears to change her tune. “I hope I’m not being unreasonable.”
“No, no, it’s your home, I mean, I wouldn’t want my home messed up.” Stopping to think. “Jason–”
“Huh?”
“How much would new baseboards run?”
“Uh, Idunno, per square foot? I’d have to go check.”
“Okay.” He considers. “Could you just put slivers in there and glue ’em?”
“Yeah, but if you’re worried about aesthetics, you might want to just do the new baseboards” he bullshits.
“How long would it take to redo the floor in the kitchen? How many planks?”
“Precision-cut everything?”
“Yes, precision-cut. How many?”
“Pfft, Idunno, six, maybe seven. A whole day’s work.”
“We need to move back in today.” Mrs. Smythe reiterates, attempting to wrest back control of the conversation.
The phone rings. A man in the back picks it up.
“Do you want me to come look at the damage?” Brian asks.
“Yeah, that would help.” Mrs. Smythe is happy to win any customer service battle, no matter how small.
“I need directions. Jason, you want to drive on down with me?”
“Nah, I gotta get back, but I’ll get you directions.
“We’ll go on ahead.” The Smythes move to leave.
“Okay, I’ll see you in a few.” Brian calls to them. Jason’s watch goes off but he doesn’t seem to notice.
The Smythes get to their car.
“I could have used your support in there. Instead of hiding.” She says with much disdain. Mr. Smythe does not answer, as anything he would say would be wrong.
Back inside, Jason finishes giving Brian the directions, then heads for the bathroom.
“Thanks for calling, have a nice day” the man in the back hangs up.
“See you later, Phil!” Brian yells as he attaches his watch and coat.
“Have a good one.”
“Lock up when you’re done, Phil.”