The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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The Local Circles of Sorcerors and Wizards Were Pleasant Enough

October 27th, 2014 · 2 Comments

For Halloween, an appropriate illustration by Frank C. Papé.  It’s taken from the 1929 edition of Something About Eve, by James Branch Cabell.  Please click on it to savor the details.


(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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Happy Allais Day

October 20th, 2014 · No Comments


Today is Alphonse Allais’s birthday: if he were alive today, he would be 160, which sounds unlikely.  To mark the occasion, here’s a photo of UK poet Edith Doove enjoying the now rare first volume of my translation of Allais’s Captain Cap.  The collected Cap, as well as my recently released translation of Allais’s plays, is available from Black Scat Books.  Happy birthday, Alphonse!

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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More Happy Readers

October 10th, 2014 · 1 Comment

The book blog “Wuthering Expectations” has published a nice review of the Selected Plays of Alphonse Allais.  You can read it here.

And you can purchase the volume here.

Norman Conquest, of Black Scat Books, has also passed along more photos of happy readers.



(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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Divination by the Book of Proverbs

October 6th, 2014 · 3 Comments

One of my insomnia books recently has been The Queer, the Quaint, and the Quizzical: A Cabinet for the Curious, by Frank H. Stauffer.  It’s a compendium of odd facts, superstitions, linguistic curiosities, and folklore, published by David McKay in 1882.  Stauffer, according to what I could find, was a journalist and children’s author; with this book, he promised “Strange customs, cranks and freaks, With philosophy in streaks.”

Among its revelations was the following method of divination from the Book of Proverbs:


I’d heard of other methods of bibliomancy, but this was new to me.  I turned to my Bible and found the 31st chapter of Proverbs.  I was born on January 7th, so I read the 7th verse: “Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”  That doesn’t sound very promising.  Maybe yours will be better.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ 3 CommentsTags: Books · Education

Rokfogo: The Mysterious Pre-Deluge Art of Richard S. Shaver (Volume 2)

September 26th, 2014 · No Comments

Richard Toronto has written the definitive work on the artwork of Richard Shaver, in two volumes, with over 300 illustrations.  I wrote the introduction for the second volume, linking Shaver’s preoccupation with stones and pareidolia to the long tradition of scrying and lithomancy.  You can find it on Amazon.  Here’s Toronto’s description:

In 1960, science fiction writer Richard Sharpe Shaver discovered “rock books” on his Wisconsin farm. He concluded they were not just rocks, but intelligently designed documents, the recorded history of an ancient, pre-deluge civilization. For 15 years he decoded the rock book texts and images he found embedded in stone, and soon began painting and photographing what he found. It was an alien world that few other than Shaver could see. Shaver also wrote essays to complement his paintings. He wrote of the people and customs of Earth’s pre-history—the half human, half fish Mermen and women—documenting their daily lives in intimate detail. He left behind a body of work that has languished in obscurity for decades. Richard Toronto has gathered together the largest collection of Shaver’s art ever to see print. Presented in two volumes, with more than 300 illustrations, Rokfogo: The Mysterious Pre-Deluge Art of Richard S. Shaver presents the paintings, photographs, and essays that made up Richard Shaver’s ante-diluvian cosmology. Now considered an Outsider artist, Shaver was a pulp fiction writer during Amazing Stories’ golden era. Shunned by mainstream science fiction fans for his radical ideas, Shaver died in obscurity in 1975, leaving behind his legacy of the “sensual art of the ancients.”

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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Children’s Card Games (207)

September 22nd, 2014 · 2 Comments


“The Game of Birds” was published in 1897 by the Cincinnati Game Co.  That was, of course, before we killed all the passenger pigeons.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ 2 CommentsTags: Animals · Card Games

Happy Readers

September 19th, 2014 · 2 Comments

Look: happy readers!  Won’t you join them?  My translation of Selected Plays of Alphonse Allais is available from Black Scat Books.




(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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Selected Plays of Alphonse Allais

September 15th, 2014 · 2 Comments

Photo: Final cover for SELECTED PLAYS OF ALPHONSE ALLAIS<br /> Publication: Monday, September 15th.

I’ve selected, translated, and annotated a choice selection of plays by Alphonse Allais for this book. First aired in the cabarets and theaters of Paris in the rollicking 1890s, these plays include satire, absurdism, he-she sketches, a burlesque operetta, even a play for dogs.  You’ll find ten monologues, three one-act plays, and twelve shorter skits drawn from Allais’s columns for Le Journal, Le Chat Noir, and other papers.  It also includes my introduction and notes, a frontispiece I drew, and photos from the original 1899 production of The Miserable Wretch and the Good Genie.  It’s 124 pages, and it’s available from Black Scat Books.  It’s proto-Dada at its most delicious!

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ 2 CommentsTags: Alphonse Allais · Books

Editor’s Choice!

September 9th, 2014 · 2 Comments

I’m happy to report that my book The Unknown Adjective and Other Stories has been selected as an editor’s choice in the current issue of The Ironic Fantastic.  Take their suggestion, why don’t you?



(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ 2 CommentsTags: Books · Cartoons

Black Scat Review 8

September 1st, 2014 · No Comments


The eighth issue of Black Scat Review is now out!  It contains my short but unpleasant story “Hardwood Mulch,” as well as seductive works by Suzanne Burns, Doug Rice, Steven Teref, Kurt Cline, Charles Holdefer, Paulo Brito, Jhaki M.S. Landgrebe,Tara Stillions Whitehead, Maria Morisot, Fox Harvard, Charlie Griggs, Monika Mori, and Tom Whalen.  You can find it at Black Scat Books.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ No CommentsTags: Education · Literature