Thursday, July 2, 2015

Medieval Suits of Armor - Dark Roasted Blend And Me


Very cool: the great Avi Abrams of Dark Roasted Blend just reposted one of my favorite pieces ... and be sure to check out my collection of fun history, weird art, and more: Welcome To Weirdsville!

http://amzn.com/B007TXXMC4

Metal Body Suits vs. Weapons of Medieval Destruction
Back in the good old days -- which everyone pretty much agrees were pretty damned rotten -- what you wore was a matter of life and death: simple rotting cloth was common, leather was rare, but for the gentleman of standing, it was armor or nothing.
The first appearance of armor is a matter of much debate. Some say forged metal is key, in which case the toga-wearing crowd would be the first. Others insist that even wood worn as protection could count, in which case you'd have to go as far back as the sticks and stones brigade. But most everyone agrees that back in those rotten times, when men were knights and women were damsels in distress, armor was at its height. 
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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Read The Story That Inspired The Horror Classic FREAKS - In Reel Monsters, Out Now!


Freaks is a film that still gives goosebumps - and here's an opportunity to read the incredible story that inspired it ... it's in the book that the great folks at PageTurner Editions/Renaissance E Books just released (and edited by myself):

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Reel Monsters: Eight World Famous Stories That Inspired Legendary Horror Films features fantastic stories that became some truly amazing films ... a fun read for film buffs as well as fans of classic horror tales!



Eight world famous stories that inspired legendary horror films. With filmographies and new Introduction!

Includes: the original stories for Freaks (Spurs), It's A Good Life, The Beast With Five Fingers, Invasion Of The Saucer Men (The Cosmic Frame), The Body Snatchers, The Monkey's Paw, and more.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Welcome To Weirdsville Celebration

As part of my wonderful Welcome To Weirdsville sale, here's a fan-favorite piece from the book.  Enjoy!


http://amzn.com/B007TXXMC4

So far you lucky readers -- if that’s really what you are -- have been treated to lost nuclear hardware, misplaced biological weapons, an18th century spiritualist and his clockwork ‘God,’ and recently, creatures great and small (mostly small) that can kill you faster than you can read this sentence -- even if you’re a slow reader.

But there’s an even more terrifying, creepy, freaky, disturbing subject we haven’t talked about yet: one that can make even the heartiest, stone-stomached of you clutch your tail-wagging doggies and purring kitties while rocking back and forth mumbling “nature is good, nature is good, nature is good …”

As you’ll soon read, however, even your loving pets can save you from the nightmare that is, more than likely, with you already.

Or, to be precise, living inside you already: parasites.

YouTube has far too many clips of botflies, tapeworms, or pinworms in all their disgusting glory: squirming and writhing from puss-glistening holes in their victims, squirming in the bellies of those unfortunate enough to have become part of their life cycle. But that’s not the worst.

We like to think we’re the masters of our destiny, that “I think I shall do (fill in the blank)” comes only from our minds and wills. But in some cases that’s just not true -- or, perhaps, that’s what the creature living inside me is telling me to say.

Welcome to the wonderful world of not just parasites, but parasites that directly influence or flat-out control their hosts.

Beginning big or at least not microscopic, the emerald cockroach wasp has a very unique, and rather frightening, method of supplying its pupal young with a meal. Like some other insects, the wasp feeds its young living prey: paralyzing the snack and then laying an egg on its still-living body. But the emerald isn’t a very big bug, unlike the monstrous tarantula wasp, so it can’t drag its prey back to its burrow. Instead, the emerald performs a type of on-the-go brain surgery, carefully stinging a roach in a few selected parts of its brain, disabling its escape reflex. The wasp then chews off the roach’s antenna, effectively blinding it. Hijacking the roach’s remaining stub of an antenna, it then leads the still-living and -- if roaches have a form of consciousness -- aware bug back to its burrow where it will be a still-living dinner for its offspring.

Yes, you may shudder. But it gets worse.

You’re just lucky you’re not a snail, especially one that happens to become part of a leucochloridium paradoxum ’s elaborate lifecycle. Beginning as eggs in bird droppings, leucochloridium enters the snail’s body and then proceeds into its digestive tract. After a bit of time there, it develops into a larva – and then things get interesting.

How, you might ask, does leucochloridium go from snails to birds? Well, we know how -- but you might not want to know the answer.

What leucochloridium does is make its way from the snail’s gut to one of its eyestalks. There it causes the stalk to become red and inflamed. But that’s not all. The parasite also distorts the snail’s light perception so that it doesn’t hide from light anymore. So, out in the broad daylight, one eyestalk brightly colored, it becomes a something very much like a grub or caterpillar -- which birds love to eat. So the whole cycle begins again.

Then there’s sacculina, a type of barnacle. It loves crabs, but not in a healthy kind of way. What sacculina does, while in the barnacle’s larval phase, is find a nice, juicy crab and land on it. Then it walks around the unlucky crustacean until it finds an unarmored joint, and injects itself into the crab’s tasty meat. But sacculina doesn’t eat the crab. Oh, no – it’s not as simple as that. After a time in the crab’s body, the barnacle reproduces and reproduces and reproduces some more until it emerges as something a lot like a female’s egg sac.

That’s important, because it’s not just the female crab this happens to. If you should happen to be a male crab then transvestitism is in your future. Sacculina messes with the hormones in the male crab, making it basically a female -- especially appealing to other male crabs. It even goes as far as adjust the male’s behavior so it actually begins to act like a female crab, all to attract a male crab that may or may not have other sacculina parasites to fertilize and keep the cycle going. Once sacculina has you, if you’re a crab that is, then you belong to it. Sterilized, you become nothing but a mother to its eggs. Until you die.

We’re not finished yet -- far from it. Just be lucky you’re not a grasshopper or a cricket. Spinochordodes tellinii (the hairworm) larva finds its way into an unlucky hoppity by being eaten. Once in the bug it grows -- but don’t think the worm just gets bigger. It gets so big that when the adult worm comes out of the cricket it can be four times longer than the bug. It’s how it comes out that’s going to give you the shivers. When it simply has had enough of the bug, having pretty much eaten all of it from the inside, the worm takes possession of the insect’s brain, causing it to single-mindedly hunt out water. When it does, the bug jumps in -- and that’s when the worm erupts out of the host and swims away.

Okay, so it’s not fun to be a snail, or a crab, or a cricket. But what about poor homo sapiens? Please don’t tell me you think we don’t have our own, completely unwelcome passengers. I’ve already mentioned botflies, pinworms and tapeworms. But they are just freeloaders. They aren’t driving the bus that is us like these other manipulative parasites do.

Hold that puppy close, cuddle that kitten -- but maybe not that close. Ever heard of toxoplasma gondii? No? Well you might have but it’s certainly heard of you. In fact I’ll bet dollars to donuts that it’s paying a lot of attention to these words right now. Feel like doing something else? Anything else but reading this?

Maybe that isn’t you. Maybe it’s toxoplasma gondii.

I love kitties. But after reading about toxoplasma gondii I think I’m going to become a dog person. Primarily a cat parasite, gondii’s a protozoa that enters the feline system when the animal eats an infected animal. Once in the system, the protozoa can then reproduce asexually, making life pretty damned easy for itself.

But not for its hosts. Although the protozoa is mostly a cat fancier, it also can infect rats and mice. When it does, it does something rather creepy: it directly screws with the infected animal’s brain, taking out Mickey’s fear of cats. Think about that for a second: not open spaces, not water, not something big and general. Gondii only takes out a mouse’s fear of cats -- making sure it’ll get eaten by one, its host of preference.

Like I said, I really like kitties. But is that really ‘me’ who likes cats? Rats and mice and other warm-blooded creatures can carry gondii. You and I and every other homo sapien are also warm-blooded. I think you see where this is going.

Here’s a number for you: 25%. That’s a rather benign amount until you think of 25% of humans. Especially when I add that it’s been theorized that 25% of human beings may be infected by gondii – a parasite that affects the behavior of its hosts.

Some researchers have suggested that men who have gondii in their systems have lower IQs, are more prone to ‘novelty seek,’ and more masculine. Weirdly, infected women come out with higher IQs.

Then there’s reproduction. Not only do some think gondii changes what we are personality-wise, but its also been suggested that women who are infected have a tendency to give birth to more sons -- and males are more likely to spread the infection.

We’ve lost nuclear weapons, contaminated whole islands with biological devices, created mechanical Gods, and have been killed by very small critters with very nasty venoms. But when you think about parasites, especially certain kinds of parasites, the question then becomes:

Who are ‘we’? And who are you?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

M.Christian Reads His Science Fiction Story "Some Assembly Required" from LOVE WITHOUT GUN CONTROL

(from M.Christian's Technorotica)

It might be a tad rough around-the-edges but here's my first - and rather fun, if I do say so myself, reading "Some Assembly Required" from my collection of science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories Love Without Gun Control (out in ebook and a special paper edition) from the great Renaissance E Books/PageTurner Editions:

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Amazingly Enough: Lost And Found – The Town That Doesn’t Exist

Check it out: a brand new Amazingly Enough: Lost And Found column just went live at Amazing Stories ... about a town that may, nor may not, exist!



Amazingly Enough: 
Lost And Found – The Town That Doesn’t Exist


Our battle against the forces of the Illuminati must never cease! Their hands … er, ‘claws’ are everywhere: politics, entertainment, science, soft drinks, there’s nothing they won’t corrupt for their own nefarious ends.
For example, one of their branches – a despicable agency revealed, at no doubt great personal cost to those seeking to expose the TRUTH, as T.H.E.M. – was fairly recently been exposed as having perpetrated a nightmarish deception that has shaken the very fabric of humanity.
Especially for those in Germany.
Thankfully, this horrible illusion has been revealed, the shadowy curtain pulled aside, and we now have a glimpse at the true horror that T.H.E.M. has commit to.
The daring of those who have made this brave discovery is only eclipsed by their genius: beginning with a post made to the German newsgroup de.talk.bizarre on May 16, 1994, the covert forces for TRUTH began to assemble the pieces that would prove the scope of this hideous deception.
What makes the discovery of this deception so ingenuous is the simplicity of the tools used to expose it. Achim Held, one of the key investigators, began by merely asking a few basic questions about the so-called city of Bielefeld:
1. Do you know anybody from Bielefeld?
2. Have you ever been to Bielefeld?
3. Do you know anybody who has ever been to Bielefeld?
With a shuddering revelation, these intrepid battlers against the forces of darkness came to the conclusion that the answers to these three straightforward queries were no: not a single person they knew was from Bielefeld, no one had ever been to Bielefeld, and – the most chilling revelation of all – that they also weren’t aware of anyone, ever, who had been to this supposed town!
Word of their discovery spread like wildfire: soon the nascent internet was lit up with the exposure of this dark secret. Oh, sure, the authorities attempted to keep the deception intact but their motivation was transparent; no matter what ‘expert’ on, or ‘resident’ of, Bielefeld they trotted out they were obviously either agents of the Illuminati themselves or in their employ.
Even more damning is the fact that there is a common German phrase, the root of which points another damming finger at the illusion that is Bielefeld: Am Arsch der Welt in Bielefeld means, basically, “at the end of the world in Bielefeld” evidence that there was – almost unconsciously – a feeling for quite a long time that the town of Bielefeld was nothing but an illusion.
Still further verification of the Bielefeld deception came from one of the illuminati’s own political puppets! Though there was a massive campaign to dismiss this revealing slip as a ‘joke’ it is damming proof of this massive ruse. In November, 2012, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel claimed that she had actually visited the place but then added, with a sinister and chilling laugh, “…if it exists at all.”
Finally, out of pure – and completely transparent – desperation, these forces of fiendish manipulation resorted to what they, no doubt, thought of as a clever means of reinforce the illusion of ‘Bielefeld’.
But, thankfully for free minds everywhere, this attempt was thwarted by two clear indicators of illuminati’s arrogance: the first was in their assumption that the medium of their message was one that would carry weight – when it was one that had long ago been exposed as a final resort of the desperate and the deceptive: the press release.
In 1999, this document was released – supposedly by the ‘City Council’ of the ‘town’ of ‘Bielefeld’ – to many of the conspiracy’s ‘official’ ‘channels’. Headlined Bielefeld gibt es doch! this pathetic attempt to bolster the myth of the town that doesn’t exist was received – naturally – as ‘truth’ by the puppets of the Illuminati while “Bielefeld does exist” was viewed by dedicated opponents of these cruel reptilian would-be overlords as further evidence of their desperation in preserving this facet of their mind-controlling operations.
But the second flaw in this attempt by the Illuminati to defeat the forces of truth and liberty was one that brought much needed mirth as well as uplifting satisfaction at the failure of these nightmarish manipulators.
For, in their false superiority, they had revealed themselves not just in the medium their message was delivered in but the very date it was transmitted: April 1st!
While the deception that is Bielefeld has become pretty much common knowledge, seen by the forces of freedom and decency as overwhelming evidence not just of the illuminati’s existence but – far better for those fighting for the liberation of humanity – that they can actually be exposed and brought to light, there persists an almost cruel humor around the illusion of Bielefeld: a mocking final act by these lurkers in the shadows.
Just last year, on the supposed 800th anniversary of the Town That Doesn’t Exist, the Illuminati made one final cruel attempt to ridicule those who had risked so much to bring out of the shadows the actions of this vile conspiracy.
Via all of their insidiously corrupt means of media manipulation, these despicable reptilian would-be overlords scorned the never-ending fight to preserve the precious freedom of thought and action by claiming the mythical town of Bielefeld’s anniversary celebration’s motto was Das gibt’s doch gar nicht.
Or, translated it into English: “This does not actually exist!”

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Amazingly Enough: Lost And Found – Glub, Glub, Glub…

Cool! Check out this brand new installment of my on-going series for Amazing Stories - this time on the tragic submergence of Mologa:



The tale of Mologa is singularly odd … as well as tragic … even in the always odd and periodically tragic domain of the lost.

Things, as you are more than aware – especially if you’ve been following this little series – go missing.  Paintings, books, films, people … just a little bit of research brings up a remarkable catalog of lost treasures.  Some, like the legendary Amber Room, make a twisted kind of sense in their absence: an entire room covered in priceless amber and gold?  Surprised it didn’t vanish long before World War 2.
Meanwhile those three novels by Philip K. Dick, King Kong Appears In Edo … and too many others like them … probably just got misplaced somewhere.  While things, like Lake Peigneur in Louisiana, may have vanished but then reappeared totally transformed.
Then there’s Mologa.  What makes this Russian city odd even among all these oddities is that it still exists: we know exactly where it is … in fact you can even visit it … but that doesn’t mean it’s actually there.
But first, a bit of background: founded sometime in the 12th century in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, after a few hundred years – and a history as twisted and convoluted as only a Russian city can have – Mologa, eventually became a key destination on the all-important Asian trade routes.
Even after the – and here’s an understatement – “Time of Troubles” (1598 to 1613) Mologa kept it’s trade importance and, by the 19th century, it had graduated to a valuable link between the Baltic and the Volga River.
Then came Stalin.  Uncle Joe had big plans for that region – including the creation of what would become the massive Rybinsk reservoir.  How massive?  Well, at the time of its creation in 1935 – with it being finally completed filling in 1947 – the Rybinsk reservoir was the largest artificial lake anywhere on Earth.  That big.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Amazingly Enough: Lost And Found – Absence Makes The Heart…

Check it out: a new kick-ass (if I say so myself) installment of my Amazing Stories column, Amazingly Enough, just went live!



LOST: Many novels, lots of paintings, quite a few films … and even a few cities…

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Heartbreaking cat or dog stories get to some, others get teary when they think about passed loved ones … oh, sure, a sad lost kitten tale will get to me and there are far too many people who are no longer in my life (and are sorely missed) but what gets the waterworks really flowing is thinking about the movies, books, places, paintings, and music that are just … gone.

It’s becoming harder and harder to fathom the idea of anything really being totally missing: this is, after all, the age of the Internet and we are all far-too familiar with the maxim “the web never forgets.” But even a cursory glance at history will bring tears to the eyes of even the most cold-hearted.

For instance, you’ll never watch Lucien Hubbard’s The Mysterious Island; visit Itjtawy, an ancient Egyptian capital; or experience the legendary Amber Room…

Oh, sure, there’s still a chance that some of these treasures – and the thousands of others – might someday reappear, but for now they’ve just disappeared, vanished … gone.

Even cutting down the sob-story list of the missing to just films and a few special books – because, let’s face it, the catalog of paintings and music that can’t be found is simply staggering – leaves a pretty depressing catalog of absent features and tomes.

A few are not just absent but also damned alluring. Sure, more than few of the missing films were very small budget affairs (like some of Andy Warhol and Kenneth Anger’s) but more than a few of them were pretty lavish affairs.

And one is just plain weird. Most of you know kaiju (Japanese big monster movies, for the nerd-impaired). True aficionados of the genre gloat in knowing not just the first kaiji is the legendary Gojira but that it was made in 1954.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Amazingly Enough: Lost And Found – The Triumph Of Mr. Monck Mason’s Flying Machine!

Check it out: a brand new column by yers truly just went up on the amazing (ahem) Amazing Stories site. Here's a tease:



“This is unquestionably the most stupendous, the most interesting, and the most important undertaking, ever accomplished or even attempted by man…”

The 1800’s — especially the middle to latter half — were a time when it seemed like everything either was happening or could happen any day: the photograph was coming into common use, the telegraph meant communication at the speed of light, anesthesia promised (for the first time) painless surgery, Babbage began work on his analytical engine, and the possibility of conquering the bounds of earth seemed just around the corner.

However, according to a series of articles published by The Sun in 1944, that aforesaid conquering wasn’t a matter of years but had actually been phenomenally achieved by one Mr. Monck Mason.

First appearing in April 13, 1844, a New York paper proclaimed – in LOUD and DRAMATIC type: ASTOUNDING NEWS! BY EXPRESS VIA NORFOLK: THE ATLANTIC CROSSED IN THREE DAYS!

That initial article went on to announce that the machine in question was a STEERING BALLOON named VICTORIA, and that the trans-Atlantic voyage took an amazing SEVENTY-FIVE HOURS FROM LAND TO LAND.

Okay, weird and wild claims were somewhat common back then – just take a look at the very fanciful “Great Moon Hoax” published only ten years before — but who could doubt the authenticity of such a detailed report? Each article was packed with immaculate details of how this incredible voyage was achieved.

Take for instance, that the trip began on Saturday, April the 6th, 1844, at 11:00AM from Penstruthal, in North Wales. The participants being “Sir Everard Bringhurst; Mr. Osborne, a nephew of Lord Bentinck’s; Mr. Monck Mason and Mr. Robert Holland, the well-known aeronauts; Mr. Harrison Ainsworth, author of ‘Jack Sheppard,’ etc; and Mr. Henson, the projector of the late unsuccessful flying machine — with two seamen from Woolwich — in all, eight persons.”

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Amazingly Enough: Lost And Found – Down The Drain

This is very cool - my newest column for the wonderful Amazing Stories site just went live: the tale of a lake that vanished and came back ... changed.  Here's a tease, for the rest click here.


Amazingly Enough:
 Lost And Found – Down The Drain

Sunglasses, wallets, phone chargers … stuff goes missing all the time. But misplacing a set of car keys is one thing but it’s quite another to lose a body of water … and even stranger when it comes back, and yet doesn’t.

It’s not like vanishing lakes are rare – it actually happens more often than you might expect. Sometimes their going bye-bye is just a fact of life for their kind: feeding rivers or streams dry up, leading to the same for the poor lake. In other situations the opposite is the case: a river gets so frisky that it overwhelms and then completely swallows one.

Then there are the bodies of water that disappear, sucked straight down into the earth. Lake Beloye, in Russia, for example, back in 2005: here one day, gone quite literally the next. The leading theory being that the lake drained into a underground natural lake or cave system.

But what happened to Lake Peigneur, in Iberia Parish, Louisiana, is far from natural – but also incredibly, wonderfully, bizarre.

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