Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mrs. McGillicuddy's Home for Unwed Cats

This afternoon at a meeting I was talking about certain legalities that nonprofits have to fulfill and, speaking a mile a minute, my mind, needing a random example of a 501(c)3, came up with the name, Mrs. McGillicuddy's Home for Unwed Cats.

The name popped out of my mouth when I was comparing the Articles of Incorporation that are practically universal across the spectrum of US-based nonprofits as compared to the By-Laws that can contain information specific to the organization. 

I believe what I said in my impassioned need to communicate information was, "The Articles of Incorporation are almost universal whether the nonprofit is a church or Mrs. McGillicuddy's Home for Unwed Cats."

Oddly enough, nobody batted an eye.

Either nobody was listening or nobody is surprised anymore by whatever stream of consciousness I blurt out at random.

Nonetheless, I couldn't get the name of this odd little organization and my imagination traveled back to Victorian England...

Mrs. McGillicuddy's Home for Unwed Cats was well known in the Victorian City of Westminster coming into existence after the British government sent a military force to end the atrocities reported on the island of notorious vivisectionist Doctor Alphonse Moreau. Toward the end of his nightmarish life, Moreau worked toward creating the ultimate feline slave and thirty survivors of his experiments were taken back to England and housed by Moreau's niece in a spacious home located on Milford Lane just off the Strand.  
The feline curiosities became popular with a number of wealthy Victorian families fulfilling various roles due to their superior abilities to manage household affairs and became common fixtures of Victorian London as nannies and private secretaries even being employed by members of English royalty. However, their habit of shedding notorious amounts of fur, coughing up hair balls, their insistence on using inconveniently large litter boxes, and presenting beloved owners with gifts of dead rodents did hinder their overall popularity.

(Note: I have not been able to identify the artist who created the picture of the anthropomorphic Victorian feline even after an extensive search. Any verifiable information so credit can be given would be greatly appreciated.) 

Friday, November 10, 2017

I'm Now On Staff For World Fantasy Con 2018!


Ayup, little ol' me is on the programming staff for World Fantasy Convention 2018 where the movers and shakers of today's fantasy market rub shoulders with the hoi polloi.

Yes, I will play a small part in guiding this great ship and directing and recommending ideas for seminars and roundtables and you're probably in awe and wonder and pondering, how did Alan Loewen get such a prestigious position? Was it because of his masterful hand at writing fantasy? His encyclopedic grasp of the genre? His incredible skills in problem solving and conflict resolution? His debonair and manly gravitas?

Nah. I just begged and cried and wailed and whimpered and groveled and rent my clothing until the Program Chair got so embarrassed she gave me a bit part.

I think I'm the coffee-runner between the programming staff and Starbucks.

Nonetheless, I'm attending World Fantasy 2018 and I shall try my very, very best not to embarrass anybody.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Case Study: Counseling Transcript of Client Blanche Thibodeaux

An individual seeking advice on how to counsel his friends came to me and I gave him six main pointers. (Note: When not writing dark fantasy or odd humor, I do pastoral counseling.) He then asked for a sample transcript illuminating the six principles.

(sigh) Never, ever give me a chance to write. It doesn’t turn out well for anybody. Here is the transcript I really, really wanted to give him:


Well, Ms. Thibodeaux, I’m delighted to see you. How can I help you today?

Well, I’m somewhat embarrassed to tell you.

That’s quite all right. Many people who come to see me feel uncomfortable at first, but I assure you there is nothing you say that I have not heard before and company policy states all conversations with me are kept strictly private within the boundaries of the law. What seems to be on your mind?

Well… well, I might as well just come out and say it. I think I’m a werewolf.

Well, Blanche… may I call you Blanche? ... I agree that is a legitimate concern. Tell me what makes you suspect you have a problem with lycanthropy?

(sighs) Well, when I go to bed during the nights of the full moon, I wake up sorta weird.

Yes?

Well… my pajamas are all ripped up and wood surfaces in my house are clawed up and… well after the last full moon my beloved Piffles went missing.

Piffles?

My chinchilla.

So sorry… please go on.

And then I hacked up a hairball.

Oh, dear.

And it was the same color as Piffles

So sorry. Here’s a Kleenex. Keep the box.

And there are other situations. On my days off I like to curl up on the floor where the sunlight hits me and I’ve become really picky at what foods I like and I’ve got this overpowering urge for fish and I like to rub my cheeks on people and inanimate objects…

I understand, but let me ask…are you sure you’re dealing with being a werewolf?

What else could it be?

Let’s review the symptoms: clawed furniture, picky appetite, yet still preferring fish, curling up in sunlight…and I suspect you want to have people gently rub your ears yet at the same time you're fighting the impulse to bite them. Does that sound like a werewolf?

You mean…

Yes?

You mean I’m some type of werecat?

Well, there is an acid test.

(A half hour later)

I ALMOST CAUGHT THAT BRIGHT RED DOT!

Yes, you almost did. Maybe at our next session you’ll be more successful. Let me buzz my secretary for your next appointment.

Miss Plushbottom, please schedule Blanche Thibodeaux for her next session.

Blanche, it was a pleasure working with you. My secretary will schedule your next appointment.


Thank you so much! You’ve been a great help and comfort.

Anytime and please stop circling between my legs.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Through the Black Andes to Be Published in Odd Tales of Wonder #7



I am delighted to announce that my short story, Through the Black Andes, will be published in the seventh edition of Odd Tales of Wonder. You can also follow the magazine through its Facebook page.

Here are the opening paragraphs to Through the Black Andes:



If you take the Shippensburg-Arendtsville Road east of Cleversburg, Pennsylvania, you soon find yourself traveling up the foothills of the South Mountains. At the summit, stand the ruins of a ghost town once known as Big Flat. In its heyday this simple 19th century village boasted a population of three hundred souls, mostly of German descent, who made their living from the making of charcoal and the open pit mining of iron ore.

However, the industrial revolution moved on to other energy needs and the low-grade iron ore of South Mountain soon petered out. Slowly, Big Flat sunk into oblivion and today its ruined foundations and stone chimneys are only visited by white tail deer and those that hunt them in due season.

The town’s unique name came from the natural plateau on which it stood. Surrounding the remains of the little village you can still see the stands of oak, ash, hemlock and pitch pine that once served as fuel and protection against the harsh winter wind.

However, not too far from Big Flat on another natural plateau stood an ancient stand of white pine trees that had grown so intimate with each other that the soft, floor of the forest lay swaddled in perpetual night.

The name Black Andes was first given to this primordial stand of pine and from its first discovery, hunters and charcoal makers made every excuse to avoid the area. Birds never called out or sang there. Game avoided the area.



Monday, October 23, 2017

Eight Tales to Prepare You For All Hallows Eve


Over the years, I have written special tales for All Hallows Eve for the enjoyment of my readers. Some are humorous, some ... not so humorous. In fact, some are rather dark.

Feel free to read these at your leisure:



Child of My Desire Published In Morpheus Tales #31




I'm delighted to announce that my flash fiction piece, Child of My Desire, has just been released in the magazine, Morpheus Tales #31.

A preview of the magazine is available here and it can be downloaded in various formats here. Also, printed copies are available here and here. Below are the opening paragraphs of the story:

Dr. Abraham Winslow stopped outside the closed door to the hospital conference room and watched the man within through the small window. Joel Dekker sat at the table staring at his hands, not looking much like a best-selling author. His doughy face, heavily lidded eyes, and fat quivering lips spoke more of a man who could barely remember his alphabet. Scarlet scratches, only a few days fresh, marred his face.
Winslow rapped on the door and opened it. Dekker looked up but did not stand.

“Mr. Dekker,” the doctor said, “thank you for meeting with me.”

A flash of pain went across Dekker's face. “My daughter, is she okay?”

“There has been no change in her condition but, Mr. Dekker… a few questions have come up about Deirdre.” The doctor sat down at the table across from Dekker and opened a large file.”When your daughter did not respond to traditional medications, we did a full medical scan on her. The results are… puzzling.”

Friday, October 20, 2017

Pictures of Heaven

At the very least, they are to me...


Clementinum, Prague


Haensia Temple, Corea del Sur (And what treasures may be buried here?)



Home library: Source unknown



Home library: location unknown



Saguaro Forest VII model home



Nigella Lawson in her private library in London



Private home library: location unknown

And finally ....



































A small portion of my own literary collection.