Friday, October 28, 2016


For centuries Europe had been the scene of increasingly senseless slaughter. Wars of succession, religion, territory and trade proliferated. No excuse for discord was too small.

Then there was the Black Plague, a disease whose origin remains controversial, even today. 

The men who presided over Europe in those days were enigmatic. Their portraits were often downright creepy. 

Who were these people and why did they do nothing to stop the violence? Often they seemed to promote it. 

Europe was devastated. Almost everywhere evil triumphed. 

With their backs against the wall, the dwindling number of survivors devised a risky plan of escape. They'd take ships to the New World. 

Little did they know that they'd taken part of the Old World with them.

What occurred on some of those ships hasn't been recorded.

We can surmise that some of them ended up in Central and South America. We see a resurgence of cannibalism there and what appears to be pointless tribal warfare in this period. 

 Giant predatory animals and birds also appeared on that continent in this era.

Who made these things and why?

Up in North America the colonists were surprised to find themselves battling an outbreak of witchcraft, something they thought they'd left behind. At first they seemed to have it under control....

...but the "Others" (that's what they called themselves) launched a vigorous counterattack and the trials were ended. 

After that, the Others and their successors spread throughout the new country. How many were there? Nobody knows. Maybe we can get a rough idea by examining old 19th Century photos. How many of the subjects of those pictures appear to you to be different, to be...Other?


BTW: Haw! The facts of this story are completely made fiction...but they make a good story, don't they?

Gee, this Halloween I'll be too busy with moving to celebrate. I do want to give out candy at the door, though. Maybe I can dig out my old Muskrat lodge uniform. 

Have a good Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


I love family portraits, especially those of evil, deceased matriarchs or patriarchs who continue to inspire fear in the family they left behind. 

Of particular interest are the ones who left a will that constrains the family to live in a gloomy, joyless old house for the rest of their lives. 

Maybe their portraits contain the clues needed to discover a hidden treasure, buried somewhere in the house. 

Poor Aunt Matilda: she greedily stared at her father's portrait for years, hoping to discover its secret. Some say that's how she acquired her father's deviant personality. Others say she went mad. 

A death mask (above) was left behind. The terms of the will required it to hang on the wall overlooking the dinner table.

A greedy relative (above) and her worthless husband once stayed in the house for a summer while they tore apart walls looking for the money. Matilda won't say what happened to them.

Yikes! I'm scaring myself! I think I'll change the subject. Let me lighten things up with this cheery picture (above) of Sadie Hawkins, drawn by Al Capp.

Hmmmm. I wonder what Matilda would have thought of Sadie wait, I said I'd change the subject.

Okay, I'm leaving now. Bye!

Monday, October 24, 2016


More Halloween porch pictures! Geez, I wish I had the original poster this cabbage monster came from. 

Veeery nice! The original of this would have been a great portrait to frame and put up on the wall of a guest room.  

This guy's great! There's half a chance the girl you marry will have a brother like this. 

Why don't cereal boxes have cutout masks like this one (above)?

Every year the Halloween stores offer some new category of things. Last year it was realistic plastic animal skeletons and dog costumes. This year it's blow-up balloon gear and cat costumes. 

I like the "Spirit" stores' new slogan: "Make Halloween Great Again!" Amen! It's a great holiday!

I love creepy old woodcuts and etchings (above). 

Hand-painted, charming, funny drawings like the one above make great porch pictures. 

Believe it or not, this (above) was a newspaper illustration. 

Big, home-made, framed cartoon characters make great porch decorations. I like mixing funny cartoons with pictures of monsters and ghosts.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Here's a bunch of random Halloween photos I've been saving all year. I can't remember where I got most of them.

What the heck is this (above)? Is it a mask? Is it a sculpture? The big face in the middle is too grotesque for my taste, but the toes look great.
Vermilion (above) is one of the world's great artificial colors. It's stark and in-your-face like day-glow colors are, but it also has a mystical appeal, which may be why shades of it appear on Chinese temples and magic store items.

Drat! I've had a pair of glasses like this (above) for years and just broke them.
Is this (above) plastic or plaster?  I can't tell. 

Maybe I can pick up some plastic masks this season. They get harder to find every year.

I like the crudely-drawn look on this holiday decoration (above) from the 1920s. You can wish the draughtsmanship had been better, but then it wouldn't have been as funny. 

I'll be moving to a more rural place soon and there's half a chance that I'll be regarded as the town weirdo. Maybe I should decorate accordingly. 

Have you ever seen the newspaper comic strip, "Happy Hooligan?" That's (above) how he would look as a pumpkin.

Monday, October 17, 2016


Above, you'll find a room full of Memphis furniture (above) from the 1980s. That was the trendy furniture style of its day, the thing we 80s people all longed to have. Gee, 30 years later some of the pieces look like shag cat toys, and a whole room full of it seems like clutter. Even so, I retain an affection for it. Maybe it's worth examining to see where the movement went wrong.

First, lets talk about what they did right. How do you like these Cliff Sterrett / Picasso-style vaces (above)?  Probably flowers didn't look good in them, but who cares? They look great!

And the iconic bookshelf (above) by Milan designer/Memphis co-founder Ettore Sottsass (yes, that was his real name) was marvelous.  Everybody in the 80s wanted one.

The problem was that, although it looked good as a stand-alone, it didn't integrate into a whole furnished room very well. The fact is that nobody had an idea of what a Memphis-style room should look like.

That's a photo of Sottsass above. Yikes! He doesn't look very happy.

I suspect that the man had enormous problems with production and quality control.  I'm guessing that people who did knock-offs of his ideas made a lot more money than he did.

Some of his studio's designs were misfires (above)...

...and some (above) looked downright uncomfortable. That's okay...nobody bats a thousand. If he'd had more time to iron out the kinks I think Sottsass would would have dominated furniture design well into the late 90s, but time was running out.

Memphis was grounded in 80s rock culture but rock was quickly giving way to hip-hop and that movement had no use for Memphis influences like Matisse and Picasso, Miro and Leger, Klee, Stella, Gris and Mondrian.

Boy, poor Sottsass!


BTW: A couple of the pictures I posted may not have been of Memphis products per se, but I included them because they were close enough to be relevant.