The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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The Downcast Sun

December 2nd, 2015 · 3 Comments


This picture comes from a Czech children’s book, Pohádky Před Spaním, by Frank Wenig. I don’t read Czech, so I don’t know why the sun is downcast. I like the picture, though. According to an online Czech-English dictionary, the title means Fairy Tales Before Bedtime.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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Children’s Card Games (222)

November 22nd, 2015 · No Comments


I usually post these card games in appreciation of the anonymous artists who designed them. This one is an exception; it’s a 1927 game of “Gasoline Alley,” which I suspect was drawn by Frank King himself. There are four suits of thirteen cards each; I guess you could play any standard card game with them. The thirteen characters are: Pal, Squint, Rachael, Walt, Emily, Mr. Wicker, Bill, Skeezix, Doc, Avery, Mme. Octave, Mandy, and Phyliss. Alas, the scan doesn’t do justice to the delicate colors of the original.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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Bulletin (35)

November 16th, 2015 · No Comments

The thirteenth issue of Black Scat Review is now available! It is, fittingly, devoted to the subject of superstition. It contains my short story, “Find a Penny,” which is also fittingly devoted to the same subject. I’m one of thirteen contributors: the other twelve are: Paulo Brito, Eckhard Gerdes, Harold Jaffe, Soren James, Rick Krieger, Terri Lloyd, Monika Mori, Alice Pulaski, Frank Pulaski, Mylene Viger, Dominic Ward, and Carla M. Wilson. It’s edited by Norman Conquest, and Alice Pulaski designed the cover. You can find a copy at Black Scat Books.

There’s a nice notice of my translation of Alphonse Allais’s novel The Blaireau Affair, over at the book blog Wuthering Expectations. And the novel itself is also available from Black Scat.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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Children’s Card Games (221)

November 9th, 2015 · 1 Comment


George Eliot appears in this old (and unusually large) version of “Authors.” The set I found seems to be complete, but came with no box, so there’s no information on date or publisher. In addition to Eliot, the pantheon here consists of Tennyson, Thackeray, Emerson, Scott, Dickens, Irving, Longfellow, Cooper, Hawthorne, Whittier, Holmes, Shakespeare, and a few that seldom show up in these decks: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Robert Burns, Oliver Goldsmith, William Cullens Bryant, and Thomas Babington Macaulay.

The backs are worth a look:


(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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Bulletin (34)

November 2nd, 2015 · No Comments

I will be teaching two special four-week ukulele classes at Brooklyn’s Jalopy Theater this fall. The first, Uke 1.5, is a bit more advanced than Uke 1, and may help pave the way to those greater heights. The other, Uke 3, is for those who want to go further than Uke 2. Both will focus on strumming patterns, alternate chords, chord solos, and other delicious techniques. Both will be offered on Tuesdays, from Nov. 24 to Dec. 15; Uke 1.5 is at 7 pm, Uke 3 at 8.

My translation of Pierre-Corneille Blessebois’s historic and smutty book The Zombie of Great Peru, published by Black Scat Books, is now available in the bookstore at the Morbid Anatomy Museum. This is ideal for those of you who would rather skip Amazon and enjoy instant gratification. Signed copies! Snap ’em up!

Further books in the works include Sleepytime Cemetery (a collection of short stories), Gibberish (a collection of literary talks, articles, and parodies), How I Became an Idiot (an expanded edition of my translation of Alphonse Allais’s remarkable ridicule of the critic Francisque Sarcey), and Double Over (a translation of Alphonse Allais’s first collection). Will any of these make it to print? Watch this space.

After thirty years in Manhattan, I will soon be moving elsewhere. The city has changed, and so have I. Details will follow.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ No CommentsTags: Alphonse Allais · Bulletins · Ukulele

An Interview About “The Zombie of Great Peru”

October 26th, 2015 · No Comments

Bill Ectric has interviewed me about my translation of The Zombie of Great Peru, by Pierre-Corneille Blessebois, published earlier this year by Black Scat Books. It’s over at a site called Red Fez.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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Children’s Card Games (220)

October 19th, 2015 · No Comments


We have another version of “Authors,” from Fairchild. There’s no date, but I would guess that it’s from the ’40s. Joel Chandler Harris, popular at one time for his black dialect stories, much less popular now, makes a rare appearance in the literary pantheon. His fellow writers are: Cornelia Meigs, Francis William Rolt-Wheeler, Louisa May Alcott, Elsie Singmaster, Charles Dickens, Joseph Alexander Altsheler, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Robert Louis Stevenson.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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Limerickshaw: Haiku for the John

October 12th, 2015 · No Comments


Black Scat Books has just released its eighth broadside, “Limerickshaw: Haiku for the John.” I’ve selected sixteen classic dirty limericks, and rewritten them as haiku. Cleansed of rhyme, each haiku reveals the laconic narrative at the core. Norman Conquest’s design incorporates an equally classic erotic Japanese print, showing a heteronormative couple generating children. It’s suitable for the boudoir or bath, although perhaps not other places in your home. The image above shows only a portion of this lovely and explicit poster.

12 x 18 inches; printed on prime 80# UV-coated, acid-free stock.
Only $10 from Black Scat Books.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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Ionel Talpazan

October 5th, 2015 · 1 Comment


I was saddened to hear of the death of Ionel Talpazan, who died on September 21 of a stroke, complicated by diabetes. When he was a boy in Romania, Talpazan had an encounter with a blue light, which left him with a lifelong fascination with UFOs. He painted and sculpted them obsessively, often intending them as working diagrams for NASA. He sold his paintings on the street, which was a hard way to make a living. Eventually, his work found its way into major museums and galleries, but he still often took to the street, to his galleries’ dismay. He was never happy with the cut the galleries took, but had no luck selling his work at gallery prices from a card table on the street.

Anthony Matt and I once visited him in his apartment in Harlem. It was almost empty, except for his artwork and a shrine to a beloved pet dove that had recently died. He indicated his obvious poverty, and told us, “I suffer for my art.”

I last saw him at a UFO conference in lower Manhattan a couple of years ago; he was frustrated that none of the UFO buffs were buying his work.

He did have an audience for his work, though. He received obituaries from NPR and the New York Times, among others. According to the Times, not long before he died, he became an American citizen and changed his name to Adrian DaVinci. He was only 60; he had more to do.

Here are a couple of the paintings that I bought from him on the street. What a funny, sweet, driven man he was. I’m sorry I won’t get to see him again.




(Posted by Doug Skinner. Thanks to Mamie Caton for the photos.)

→ 1 CommentTags: The Ineffable

Children’s Card Games (219)

September 28th, 2015 · 1 Comment


Fairchild came out with “Cities” in 1945. Each city formed a three card set, which players competed, no doubt hotly, to complete. The cities were all in the U.S., and each was worth a different number of points: New York City (12), Chicago (11), Philadelphia (10), Detroit (9), Los Angeles (8), Baltimore (7), Cleveland (6), St. Louis (5), Washington (4), Boston (3), San Francisco (2), and Pittsburgh (1). I have no idea how the ranking was established, but it must have upset those who lived in the lower ones. The box is particularly attractive (and you can click on it to enlarge it).


(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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