The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Children’s Card Games (208)

November 26th, 2014 · No Comments


“Fractions” was published in 1902 by the Cincinnati Game Company.  It was billed as an “Educational Game,” but the instructions got lost somewhere in the past 112 years, so I can’t say how the education was accomplished.  The back of the card is handsome, showing fractions being enjoyed in the home.


(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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John Dee Through His Dreams

November 10th, 2014 · No Comments


John Dee, Part I: John Dee Through His Dreams

An Illustrated Lecture with Doug Skinner

Date: Tuesday, November 18
Time: 8pm
Admission: $12
Place: Morbid Anatomy Museum, 424 Third Avenue, Brooklyn.
This lecture is presented by Shannon Taggart, Programmer in Residence of the Morbid Anatomy Museum.

In the first of this two evening series, Doug Skinner discusses the life
and work of the extraordinary Elizabethan polymath John Dee: sorcerer,
astronomer, astrologer, alchemist, mathematician, antiquarian, imperial
apologist, bibliophile, historian, and adviser to the queen. Such a life
defies chronology, so his many interconnected activities are approached
through the dreams that he noted in his household diary. Each glimpse into Dee’s psyche reveals another facet of his unique career.

Part 2: Thursday, November 20: Sex and Spirits: The Dee / Kelley Plural
Marriage – An Illustrated Presentation with Don Jolly.

More info at Morbid Anatomy.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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November 3rd, 2014 · No Comments


Horoscrapes is now available!  Here is the publisher’s blurb:

Part Oulipian exercise, these meticulous scrapings reveal the future in all its sublime absurdity. The author approached the horoscope in his morning newspaper as if it were a puzzle, like the crossword or sudoku. By scraping out the middle part, and joining the beginning and end, he received a hidden message.

Reading outside the lines here one discovers an alternative fate more interesting than the fluff dispensed by run-of-the-mill soothsayers. Indeed, these predictions are pithy, profound, and astonishingly accurate.

In HOROSCRAPES, Doug Skinner offers up 366 clever twists of fate—something for every sign—guaranteed to alter forever how we view the universe.

Who knows what the future holds?

Doug Skinner knows.

Available from Black Scat Books.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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The Local Circles of Sorcerers and Wizards Were Pleasant Enough

October 27th, 2014 · 3 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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