Coming to Kindle and Smashwords

Coming to Kindle and Smashwords
November 2013

Mar 29, 2013

just in time for easter..........

Crucifixion Corn Dogs, Mustard-Decorated Food-on-a-Stick

Michael Procopio of Food for the Thoughtless adapted Saveur magazine’s corn dog recipe for his Crucifixion Corn Dogs, his Easter-themed fare-on-a-stick(s). He says to serve, “decorate with mustard. You do not have to put the image of Christ on every corn dog. If you have any martyrs in your family, feel free to squirt on their likeness and share it with them to show that you know how much they themselves have suffered, which will give them great comfort.” Procopio shares the recipe and shows how to make them at his site.
If I were a seven year-old today and attending Easter mass, I know what I would like to see served at an Easter Service buffet. Naturally, everything would conform to a Jesus/Easter theme: Hot cross buns, hollow chocolate bunnies, and cereal in the shape of crosses and halos on one end; a deacon with a big knife to carve up the Lamb of God on the other. Or the Ham of God, since I wasn’t a fan of eating lamb back then.
And in the middle of everything would be a treat which would really bring home the drama of Christ’s Passion in edible form. Something delicious and filling, but would still remind us of Christ’s suffering with each and every mouthful: corn dogs on a cross.
They’re more substantial than a communion wafer, and more delicious, too. And, given the nature of hot dogs, you still won’t be certain from which part of the body they came.
image via

Bacon Condoms Said to ‘Make Your Meat, Look Like Meat’

I know what you’re thinking. Why did we wait this long to make Bacon Condoms? And you’re right – we’re sorry.
In 2011, the bacon-flavoring experts at J & D’s Foods released Baconlube, a bacon-flavored water-based personal lubricant. Today they announced Bacon Condoms, a box of Baconlube-lubricated prophylactics said to “make your meat, look like meat.” Heeb notes that the condoms are 100% certified kosher. With April Fool’s Day around the corner, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were pulling a prank, however they are listed for sale at their site They are apparently also working on a Sriracha Lube.
Made in America of the highest quality latex. Every Bacon Condom has been rigorously tested to help ensure reliability and the utmost safety for when you’re makin’ Bacon. As an added bonus, J&D’s baconlube™ ultra premium water based meat flavored personal lubricant has been generously applied inside and out for an even more hot pork experience.

Mar 27, 2013

Game of Thrones

In its riveting second season, Game of Thrones—based on George R.R. Martin’s behemoth A Song of Ice and Fire series and adapted by executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss—brought the war for the Iron Throne to a staggering climax with the amazing Battle of the Blackwater, a hugely dramatic set piece that found the naval forces of Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) attacking King’s Landing, only to be cast back into the sea, thanks to some ingenuity from Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage).

The highly anticipated third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones begins on Sunday at 9 p.m., kicking off another season of treachery, romance, conspiracies, dragons and, um, snowy blue-eyed zombie creatures. If you haven’t read Martin’s hefty novels, the world that the show inhabits can be an intimidating place without the maps, family trees and lineages contained within the novels’ vast appendices. And Season 3 of Game of Thrones is no exception, introducing a slew of new characters, settings and plots, each requiring a whole new knowledge base.
As we did for Season 1 and Season 2, The Daily Beast delves deep into the first four episodes of Game of Thrones Season 3, Martin’s third novel (A Storm of Swords) and beyond to bring you up to speed on everything you need to know, from Astapor to Winterfell. Consider it both a refresher on events from the second season and a constant source of information and background to come back to as you watch the third season.
Get caught up on ‘Game of Thrones’ in three minutes!
WARNING: A note on spoilers: I discuss many plot details from Season 2 below. But I do not spoil specifics from Season 3, unless you count knowing settings and themes and characters as spoilers. In which case, spoiler alerts!
Astapor: A city set upon Slaver’s Bay, and a nexus for a thriving slave trade and a huge economic gap between the masters and their servants. It is home to the training grounds for a rare breed of slave-warriors. (See: Unsullied, The.)
“Bear and the Maiden Fair, The”: A traditional, if exceedingly ribald, song that is quite popular throughout Westeros. One of its verses: “A bear there was, a bear, a bear!/All black and brown, and covered with hair!/The bear! The bear!/Oh, come, they said, oh come to the fair!/The fair? Said he, but I'm a bear!/All black, and brown, and covered with hair!” (It is also reportedly the title of the seventh episode of Season 3 of Game of Thrones.)
Blackfish, The: The nickname of Ser Brynden Tully (Clive Russell), the uncle of Lady Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) and Lady Lysa Arryn (Kate Dickie). A Tully by birth, he has taken a black fish as his personal sigil, an inside joke that plays upon the Tully’s fish sigil.
Brotherhood Without Banners, The: A motley group of rebels and outlaws who were once part of a team sent by Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) to capture Gregor Clegane (Ian Whyte), a.k.a. The Mountain. But after the deaths of Ned and Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy), they found themselves adrift without someone to whom they could pledge their loyalty. (Hence, no banners.) Now, they claim allegiance to no individual faction in the War of Five Kings, instead keeping the peace by their own vigilante methods. (Can also refer to real-life fans of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novel series.)
Casterly Rock: The ancestral home and seat of the Lannister clan, led by Lord Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), who currently serves as Hand (see: Hand of the King, The) to King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson).
Castle Black: One of the last few surviving castles occupied by the Night’s Watch, located in the very center of The Wall. (Eastwatch-by-the-Sea and The Shadow Tower are the only two others still standing.) It is here that Jon Snow (Kit Harington) trained to be a member of the order, and is the main military fortress of the Night’s Watch.
Children of the Forest, The: An ancient race of magical non-human beings who inhabited Westeros before the arrival of mankind. They have not been seen in thousands of years, though their exploits are now considered legends or old wives’ tales. It is they who used dragonglass weapons in battle, and who carved the faces into the weirwood trees. Among their many abilities was that of greensight.
Crannogmen: The inhabitants of Westeros’s swamplands who use nets and spears to fight. The people of Westeros often look down on these tough, resourceful folk for their so-called primitiveness, though they remain closer to the old ways—and perhaps their connection to the Children of the Forest and their abilities—than some might suspect. Jojen Reed (Thomas Sangster) and Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) are among these people. While the brother and sister duo were introduced in Martin’s second novel, A Clash of Kings, they will make their first appearance in Season 3 of Game of Thrones.
Craster’s Keep: A wildling home beyond The Wall that is home to Craster (Robert Pugh) and his daughters/wives. It’s here that the brothers of the Night’s Watch stay during their forays north of The Wall, as Craster has been known to be an ally of the Night’s Watch. In Season 2 of Game of Thrones, Jon Snow discovered that Craster has been offering his sons, products of his incestuous nature, to the White Walkers as a means of keeping him and his wives safe.
Crow: A nickname for a member of the black-clad Night’s Watch, given by the wildlings.
“Dracarys”: A verbal command, in High Valyrian, given by Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) to her dragons, signifying her desire that they breathe fire. It means literally, “dragonfire.”
Dragons: Supernatural fire-breathing creatures who died out hundreds of years ago in Westeros, until Daenerys (see: Mother of Dragons, The) hatched three baby dragons—Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion—who are now growing to adulthood.
Dragonglass: The name accorded to volcanic glass or obsidian. In Season 2 of Game of Thrones, members of the Night’s Watch discover a hidden cache of weapons made from the substance buried beneath the snow at the Fist of the First Men, an ancient encampment beyond The Wall. It is said that, in ancient times, the Children of the Forest used to make dragonglass weaponry and would every year give obsidian daggers to the Night’s Watch.
Free folk: A name by which the wildlings sometimes refer to themselves. Unlike the kneelers, they do not bow and scape to any man, not even the King-Beyond-the-Wall.
Frogeaters: A pejorative term for Crannogmen. Another would be “mud men.”

Giant: An enormously tall supernatural being. Their like has not been seen south of The Wall for countless centuries, though they are said to still survive beyond The Wall.
Greenseer: See Greensight.
Greensight: A psychic ability—thought to be held by some members of the ancient race known as The Children of the Forest and an even fewer number of humans—that results in prophetic dreams (or “green dreams”). Some members of the modern-day Crannogmen are said to have this ability, and often have green eyes. Those who are gifted in this way are known as a greenseer, though it is an ability that may also be held by a warg.
Greyscale: Also known as “The Grey Plague,” it is a debilitating and disfiguring disease that causes extreme atrophy to the flesh, leaving the victim’s skin gray and hardened, almost like stone.
Hand of the King, The. An adviser to the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and member of the King’s small council. While immensely powerful in terms of the day-to-day running of the kingdom, the position carries a rather steep body count: Jon Arryn, the husband of Lysa Arryn (the sister of Catelyn Stark), was poisoned. Eddard Stark, his successor, was beheaded. Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) fulfilled the role and managed to save King’s Landing from Stannis Baratheon’s forces, though he was nearly killed in battle. The position is now occupied by Tyrion’s father, Tywin. (See also: Casterly Rock.)
Halfhand, The: The nickname for Qhorin Halfhand (Simon Armstrong), a ranger and member of the Night’s Watch, who sacrifices himself so that Jon Snow can infiltrate the wildlings. He was slain by Jon Snow last season as part of a ruse that makes it appear as if Jon had betrayed the order. (His final words to Jon: "We are the watchers on the Wall,” part of the oath of the Night’s Watch.) By killing Qhorin, Jon is released from his bonds by the wildlings and seen as one of them.
Harrenhal: Reputed to be haunted, this black-stoned castle—whose walls were destroyed centuries ago by Aegon the Conqueror and his fire-breathing dragons—has changed hands many, many times, particularly as its owners are said to be cursed. Last season, the Lannisters controlled the fortress under the aegis of Tywin; Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), Gendry (Joe Dempsie), and Hot Pie (Ben Hawkey) escaped from here, with the help of the mysterious Jaqen H'ghar (Tom Wlaschiha). The title of Lord of Harrenhal was recently accorded to Lord Petyr Baelish (see: Littlefinger), but whether he will ever take up residence remains to be seen.
Highgarden: The ancestral home of the wealthy Tyrell clan, which counts among its members Lady Margaery (Natalie Dormer), Ser Loras (Finn Jones) (see: Knight of Flowers, The), and Lady Olenna (Dame Diana Rigg) (see: Queen of Thorns, The). Margaery—previously married to the doomed self-made King Renly (Gethin Anthony)—is currently engaged to wed King Joffrey, who sits atop the Iron Throne.

High Valyrian: An ancient tongue that was spoken for thousands of years on the continent of Essos until “The Doom”—some type of cataclysm—destroyed the Valyrian Freehold. While the language has died out, some still speak it, particularly the Targaryens. (See also: “Dracarys.”)
Hound, The: A nickname for Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann), the brother of The Mountain, who is as much known for his prowess in battle as he is for the burns that scar his face. A former vassal of the Lannisters, he served as the personal guard for King Joffrey until the Battle of the Blackwater, when he deserted his post for parts unknown. Before leaving, he attempted to convince Sansa Stark to accompany him, but she refused, believing that Stannis Baratheon (see: King of the Narrow Sea, The) was going to rescue her.
Khaleesi: A Dothraki word for the wife of a khal, or warlord. Here, it’s used as almost a term of reverence for Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) among her khalassar. (See also: Mother of Dragons, The.)
King-Beyond-the-Wall, The: A sobriquet for Mance Rayder (CiarĂ¡n Hinds), a former member of the Night’s Watch (see also: Crow) who betrayed his brothers to start a new life with the wildlings. He has organized the various factions of those who live beyond the Wall, including several giants.
King in the North, The: The self-styled title of Robb Stark (Richard Madden), who leads the rebellion against King Joffrey. Last season, he took a bride (Oona Chaplin) against the wishes of his mother, Catelyn Stark, though the two have had a major rift: she is now being held as Robb’s prisoner, after she freed Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).
King of the Narrow Sea, The: The title accorded to Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), who sees himself as the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. While the title has yet to be used within HBO’s Game of Thrones (at least yet), it’s used to distinguish Stannis as one of the monarchs enmeshed in The War of Five Kings depicted within the series. His younger brother, Renly, was killed by a shadow created by Stannis’s lover and confidante, Melisandre (Carice van Houten). (See also: Red Woman, The.) His naval force was destroyed in the Battle of the Blackwater.
Kingsguard: The highly organized and efficient protectorate of the King, who take a pledge to not marry nor inherit titles or lands. They wear white cloaks, a symbol of their office, a sort of Secret Service for the Seven Kingdoms. Jaime Lannister (see: Kingslayer, The) is a member of the order, though he broke his oath when he slew the Mad King, Aerys Targaryen.
Kingslayer, The: A mocking nickname for Jaime Lannister, who stabbed the Mad King in the back, breaking his sacred oath to protect the life of the king. After being taken prisoner by Robb Stark (see: King in the North, The), Jaime was freed by Catelyn Stark and placed in the custody of Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), Renly’s former sworn knight who now serves Lady Catelyn. With Jaime in chains, Brienne heads for King’s Landing, in the hopes of trading him to the Lannisters in exchange for Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya Stark, the latter of which—unbeknownst to Brienne or Catelyn—is nowhere near King’s Landing.
Kneelers: The wildling nickname for the people south of the Wall. Beyond the Wall, the free folk do not kneel to anyone, unlike their supposedly more civilized neighbors.
Knight of Flowers, The: A nickname for Ser Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) of Highgarden, a member of the Kingsguard, the rose being the sigil for House Tyrell.

Lemon cakes: A popular confection beloved by many, and particularly by Lady Sansa Stark of Winterfell, currently the hostage of King Joffrey.
Littlefinger: The nickname of Lord Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen), the Master of Coin, who was recently granted Harrenhal and its title.
Lord of Light, The: Another name for the red deity R’hllor, whose worship is common in the continent of Essos, the neighboring landmass to Westeros. (See also: Red God, The.)
“Mhysa”: A Low Valyrian word meaning “mother.” It is also reportedly the title of the tenth and final episode of Season 3 of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Manticore: A supernatural creature that has a scorpion’s tail and a human face among its many chimerical parts. Its venom is highly poisonous and typically fatal.
Master of Whisperers, The: See Spider, The.
Mother of Dragons, The: A name given to Daenerys “Stormborn” Targaryen, who hatched three dragons by placing them on the funeral pyre of her husband, Khal Drogo, the first seen in hundreds of years.
Mountain, The: The nickname accorded to the very tall and broad knight Ser Gregor Clegane, a notoriously sadistic and cruel killer in the employ of the Lannisters. He is sometimes also referred to as “The Mountain Who Rides.”
Obisidian: See Dragonglass.
Poison Water, The: What the Dothraki call the sea. They believe that such water is poisonous.
Queen of Thorns, The: A nickname of Lady Olenna Tyrell of Highgarden, the grandmother of Lady Margaery. As the sigil of House Tyrell is a rose, the sobriquet is a play on her cunning and prickliness.
“Rains of Castamere, The”: A folk song written about the triumph of the Lannisters—led by Tywin (see: Hand of the King, The)—when they quashed a rebellion. The lyrics are: “And who are you, the proud lord said,/that I must bow so low?/Only a cat of a different coat,/that's all the truth I know./In a coat of gold or a coat of red,/a lion still has claws,/And mine are long and sharp, my lord,/as long and sharp as yours./And so he spoke, and so he spoke,/that lord of Castamere,/But now the rains weep o'er his hall,/with no one there to hear./Yes now the rains weep o'er his hall,/and not a soul to hear.” The National performed the song in the Season 2 episode entitled “Blackwater.” It is also the title of the ninth episode of Season 3 of Game of Thrones.
Reach, The: An exceptionally fertile section of Westeros that is ruled by the Tyrell clan from their castle at Highgarden. Think of it as sort of the breadbasket of America, lush with fruits and grains. The oldest city on the continent, Oldtown, is also located here, as well as the Arbor, the source of the best wine in all of Westeros.
Red God, The: Another nickname for the deity R’hllor.
Red Woman, The: A name given to the red priestess Melisandre, who holds sway over Stannis Baratheon (see: King of the Narrow Sea, The). Among her favored sayings is, “For the night is dark and full of terrors.” She has been known to perform various magical acts, among them birthing a shadowy assassin that killed Renly Baratheon.
R’hllor: The fiery god (see also: Lord of Light, The) who is worshipped by the red priests and residents of Essos. While those connected with the deity were once seen as hailing from exotic and far-flung places, the religion’s influence is quickly spreading in Westeros, particularly due to the conversion of Stannis Baratheon and his council. (See: Red Woman, The.) It is said that when the last of the dragons died, R’hllor’s power was said to wane considerably. But now that the dragons have returned…
Riverrun: The ancestral home of House Tully, located in the Riverlands. The house’s sigil is, fittingly, a fish. Sisters Catelyn Stark and Lysa Arryn grew up here, as did Lord Petyr Baelish. (See also: Littlefinger.)

Skinchanger: According to old legends, a person who can transfer their consciousness into the mind of an animal and see through their eyes and control their bodies. If untrained, such a person might enter into the minds of animals while they themselves are unconscious or asleep. Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) may be one such person, given the level of rapport he has with his direwolf, Summer. (See also: Warg.)
Slaver’s Bay: A body of water north of the Gulf of Grief which is centered around several slave trading cities, including Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen.
Spearwife: A female wildling who is also a warrior of the free folk. Beyond the Wall, Jon Snow has made the acquaintance of Ygritte (Rose Leslie), one such woman warrior, and has been taken prisoner by her.
Spider, The: The nickname for spymaster Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) the eunuch, who always knows everything going on in King’s Landing. He is also known as the Master of Whisperers.
Storm of Swords, A: The third book in George R.R. Martin’s multiple-volume novel series A Song of Ice and Fire, and the basis for Season 3 of HBO’s A Game of Thrones. It clocks in at just under 1,000 pages, not including appendices, depending on the edition.
Three-Eyed Raven: A recurring motif in the dreams of Bran Stark that seems to point him towards an as-yet-undetermined path. The third eye would seem to symbolize a hidden inner knowledge or the subconscious.
Unsullied, The: A group of slave soldiers who are ruthlessly trained in Astapor and their sense of free will removed entirely. Fetching a high price in the slave trade of Essos (see: Slaver’s Bay), they can remain standing for days on end without water, food or rest. Their initiation is to slay an infant in front of its mother in order to remove any semblance of humanity or emotion.
“Valar Dohaeris”: A popular saying—meaning “all men must serve”—in High Valyrian, which is the traditional answer to “Valar Morghulis.” It is also the title of the Season 3 premiere episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
“Valar Morghulis”: Translated from High Valyrian, it means “all men must die.”
Warg: A person with the innate ability to slip inside the mind of an animal or animals. (See also: Skinchanger.)
White Walkers: A race of ancient evil beings (known in the novels as “The Others”) who slumbered dormant for millennia, but who now once again threaten humanity. Currently, they are contained beyond the Wall, but their attacks upon the wildlings may point towards a desire to retake the lands south of the Wall. Some (see: Craster’s Keep) have formed arrangements with these beings in order to remain safe from them.
Wights: The zombie-like minions of The White Walkers who are reanimated corpses of the slain. They are identifiable by their coldness, pale skin, and ice-blue eyes. They can be destroyed by fire, as discovered by Jon Snow in Season 1 of Game of Thrones.
Wildlings: The name given to the ragtag barbarians (see: free folk) who live north of the Wall. Unified by Mance Rayder (see: King-Beyond-the-Wall), they appear to be grouping together for some unknown purpose, and may have their sights upon The Wall itself. Their raiding parties are often stopped by the Night’s Watch, but lately the wildlings have been quiet and their villages emptied. Jon Snow’s uncle Benjen (Joseph Mawle), a ranger with the Night’s Watch, went beyond The Wall to discover why… and hasn’t been seen since. A search party—which included Jon, Samwell Tarly (John Bradley), and Lord Commander Jeor Mormont (James Cosmo)—ventured after Benjen, but were attacked at the end of Season 2, and are no closer to discovering what happened to the ranger. Could he have left the stash of dragonglass weapons discovered last season?
“Winter Is Coming”: The official motto of House Stark (see: Hand of the King, The), who believe that dark days are always ahead, no matter how long the seemingly endless summer can last. It harkens back to a time 8,000 years earlier, when the White Walkers invaded Westeros.
Winterfell: The ancestral seat of House Stark. After Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) lay siege to Winterfell in Season 2, he was betrayed by his own men and Winterfell was burned. The last remaining Starks in Winterfell, Bran and Rickon (Art Parkinson), are believed to have been murdered, though Theon substituted two local boys, sons of a farmer, in their place

Floyd, A Porcelain Honey Bear Bong Named After Brad Pitt’s ‘True Romance’ Stoner Character

Floyd” is a fully-functioning white porcelain honey bear-shaped art bong by New York-based artist Glen Baldridge that gives a nod to Brad Pitt’s stoner character in the 1993 romantic crime film True Romance. It is available to purchase at Artware Editions.
Here’s a clip from the film where Floyd (Pitt) is shown using a bong made from a honey bear dispenser:


Everybody Wants to Kill Bruce Willis, An Action Movie Mashup

Everybody Wants to Kill Bruce” is a mashup video by French artist Pierre-Alexandre Chauvat that compiles footage from 39 different action movies. The end result is an exciting 10-minute chase

Iron Man 3′ International TV Spot Features Pepper Pots Wearing an Iron Man Suit & Saving Tony Stark

In the newest international TV ad for Iron Man 3, Pepper Potts comes to Tony Stark’s rescue while wearing an Iron Man suit. Iron Man will take on the Mandarin on May 3rd when the film hits theaters

Mar 26, 2013

Mar 22, 2013

Strange Oaks, Animated Parody Commercial Invites Witches to Enjoy Small Town Life

“Strange Oaks” is a twisted tourism commercial parody that invites witches to enjoy the benefits of small town life. The animation was created by Barcelona-based

Mar 21, 2013

James Herbert: Master of British horror fiction RIP....

The late writer's early novels mined primal fears of scurrying rodents and lethal chemical spillages, inspiring a new wave of dystopian fiction
Horror master … James Herbert, who has died aged 69, receiving his OBE in 2010. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA
James Herbert, who has died aged 69, will be remembered as one of the pillars of British horror writing. Herbert managed the rare feat of straddling both genre and mainstream fiction; at the height of his career, he was often spoken of in the same breath as Stephen King, and sales of his books have run to more than 42m.
He shot to fame in 1974 with the publication of The Rats, and there can be few people who grew up in the 70s who didn't furtively pass around a dog-eared copy of this and its follow-up, Lair, revelling in Herbert's gory set-pieces and plentiful graphic sex scenes.
With The Rats, Herbert established himself as a master of the sort of apocalyptic horror that's so popular today – from Justin Cronin's The Passage to any number of zombie novels. There can be few authors working in the field of modern dystopian fiction who don't owe a debt to his work.
The Rats mined a primal human fear of scurrying vermin that suddenly decide they've had enough of living in the sewers. As the cover blurb put it: "It was only when the bones of the first devoured victims were discovered that the true nature and power of these swarming black creatures with their razor sharp teeth and taste for human blood began to be realised by a panic-stricken city. For millions of years man and rats had been natural enemies. But now for the first time – suddenly, shockingly, horribly – the balance of power had shifted."
His first non-sequel follow-up to The Rats was 1975's The Fog, in which a chemical spillage generated a mist that turned anyone who came in contact with it into homicidal maniacs. It came a couple of years after George Romero's similarly-themed movie The Crazies, and a couple of years ahead of The Dawn of the Dead.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Herbert was the art director of an advertising agency, and he designed his own book jackets well into his career. In a Guardian column jointly authored with his daughter, Casey, in 2006, he revealed that his first literary loves were the comics his mother bought him to assuage her guilt about working seven days a week on a market stall.. "As a kid I used to read cowboy stories and historical comics about other worlds, unknown places that would take me out of myself and which helped to develop my imagination."
That early reading perhaps goes some way to explaining his style. As Joanna Briscoe wrote, in a review of his 2006 novel The Secret of Crickley Hall: "In James Herbert's world, things go bump in the night with spine-tingling efficacy only to carry on bumping, thumping and violently swaying until the tension is interspersed by laughter."
But despite his racing start, he was unable to match the trajectory that took King to such stellar heights, and never seemed a huge self-publicist.
After the successes of The Rats and The Fog, Herbert moved away from the apocalyptic science-based terror of his early work towards more traditional supernatural horror.
Novels such as Survivor, Moon and Sepulchre established him firmly in the canon of British horror writers, especially in the 1980s when he turned out some of his best work, including Haunted and The Magic Cottage.
His were very English horror stories, very contemporary and rooted in time and place. While his output might have tailed off in the 90s, he continued to write, and was in fact just returning to public attention, thanks in no small part to the BBC's adaptation of The Secret of Crickley Hall, broadcast just before Christmas.
Next month he was due to take part in a special horror segment of Liverpool's new literary festival, In Other Words – in what was billed as "a rare appearance".

Steampunk DJ mask from Bob Basset

The wonderful folks at Bob Basset in Ukraine have a new piece up, the "Steampunk DJ Mask," of which I'm rather fond

Mar 14, 2013

The review of Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949

The New Statesman has compiled a collection of reviews of classic books that were published in its pages contemporaneous with their publication. The review of Nineteen Eighty-Four by VS Pritchett is a revealing look at the way that Orwell as perceived and received in his lifetime:
Nineteen Eighty-Four is a book that goes through the reader like an east wind, cracking the skin, opening the sores; hope has died in Mr Orwell's wintry mind, and only pain is known. I do not think I have ever read a novel more frightening and depressing; and yet, such are the originality, the suspense, the speed of writing and withering indignation that it is impossible to put the book down. The faults of Orwell as a writer - monotony, nagging, the lonely schoolboy shambling down the one dispiriting track - are transformed now he rises to a large subject. He is the most devastating pamphleteer alive because he is the plainest and most individual - there is none of Koestler's lurid journalism - and because, with steady misanthropy, he knows exactly where on the new Jesuitism to apply the Protestant whip... ...Mr Orwell's book is a satirical pamphlet. I notice that some critics have said that his prophecy is not probable. Neither was Swift's Modest Proposal nor Wells's Island of Dr Moreau. Probability is not a necessary condition of satire which, when it pretends to draw the future, is, in fact, scourging the present. The purges in Russia and, later, in the Russian satellites, the dreary seediness of London in the worst days of the war, the pockets of 19th-century life in decaying England, the sordidness of bad flats, bad food, the native and whining streak of domestic sluttishness which have sickened English satirists since Smollett - all these have given Mr Orwell his material. The duty of the satirist is to go one worse than reality; and it might be objected that Mr Orwell is too literal, that he is too oppressed by what he sees, to exceed it. In one or two incidents where he does exceed, notably in the torture scenes, he is merely melodramatic: he introduces those rather grotesque machines which used to appear in terror stories for boys. In one place - I mean the moment when Winston's Inquisitor drives him to call out for the death of his girl, by threatening to set a cageful of famished rats on him - we reach a peak of imaginative excess in terror, but it is superfluous because mental terrorism is his real subject

Game of Thrones’ Intro as a 1995 Fantasy TV Series

Springfield, Missouri-based designer, photographer, and videographer Hunter Sanders created an epic video that reimagines the intro to HBO’s hit television series Game of Thrones as a 1995 fantasy TV series. He was inspired by YouTube

Mar 13, 2013

10 secrets of the Vatican exposed

Believe it or not, Vatican City actually has the highest crime rate in the world.
Giorgio Cosulich/Getty Images

Vatican City may have fewer than 1,000 citizens and spans only 110 acres, but it also has a multimillion-dollar budget and an unbelievably complex history. Understanding how it all works requires parsing through centuries of religious texts. Is the Vatican confusing and mysterious? Is the pope Catholic? A look behind the scenes:
1. Regular exorcise!Baudelaire once said that "the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn't exist." But in modern-day Vatican City, the devil is considered alive and well. The late Pope John Paul II personally performed three exorcisms during his reign, and Pope Benedict XVI expanded the ranks of Catholic-sponsored exorcists throughout the world. In fact, Father Gabriele Amorth, the Church's chief exorcist, claims to expel more than 300 demons a year from the confines of his Vatican office, and there are some 350 exorcists operating on behalf of the Catholic Church in Italy alone. Amorth also teaches bishops how to tell the difference between satanic possession and psychiatric illness, noting that those who suffer from the former seem to be particularly repulsed by the sight of holy water and the cross.
2. Where thieves go to preyWith 1.5 crimes per citizen, Vatican City has the highest crime rate in the world.
It's not that the cardinals are donning masks and repeatedly robbing the bank, it's just that the massive crowds of tourists make Vatican City a pickpocket's paradise. The situation is complicated by the fact that the Vatican has no working prison and only one judge. So most criminals are simply marched across the border into Italy, as part of a pact between the two countries. (The Vatican's legal code is based on Italy's, with some modifications regarding abortion and divorce.) Crimes that the Vatican sees fit to try itself — mainly shoplifting in its duty-free stores — are usually punished by temporarily revoking the troublemaker's access to those areas. But not every crime involves theft. In 2007, the Vatican issued its first drug conviction after an employee was found with a few ounces of cocaine in his desk.
3. The worst confessionsSome sins are simply too much for a local bishop to forgive. While priests can absolve a sin as serious as murder (according to the Church), there are five specific sins that require absolution from the Apostolic Penitentiary. This secretive tribunal has met off and on for the past 830 years, but in January 2009, for the first time ever, its members held a press conference to discuss their work.
Three of the five sins they contemplate can only be committed by the clergy. If you're a priest who breaks the seal of confession, a priest who offers confession to his own sexual partners, or a man who has directly participated in an abortion and wants to become a priest, then your case must go before the tribunal to receive absolution. The other two sins can be committed by anyone. The first, desecrating the Eucharist, is particularly bad because Catholics believe that the bread and wine transubstantiate into the body and blood of Christ. Messing with them is like messing with Jesus. And then, there's the sin of attempting to assassinate the pope. That one's pretty self-explanatory.
The meetings of the Apostolic Penitentiary are kept confidential because they're a different form of confession. The sinner is referred to by a pseudonym, and only the Major Penitentiary, Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, decides how the sin shall be dealt with. Presumably, a bunch of Hail Marys doesn't cut it.
4. You can read the Pope's mailThe Vatican's secret archives haven't been truly secret since Pope Leo XIII first allowed scholars to visit in 1881. Today, it's even more accessible. Outsiders are free to examine the correspondences of every pope for the past 1,000 years, although there is one catch: Guests have to know exactly what they're looking for. With 52 miles of shelves in the archives, the librarians prohibit browsing.
The most famous existing letter is probably Henry VIII's request that his marriage to Catherine of Aragon be annulled, which Pope Clement VII denied. Henry divorced Catherine anyway and married Anne Boleyn (and four other women), leading to Rome's break with the Church of England. The archives also contain an abundance of red ribbons, which were used to bind 85 petitions from English clergyman and aristocrats.
5. The Pope liked to text messageDuring his tenure, Pope Benedict XVI routinely sent text messages of his homilies to mobile subscribers around the world, and in 2009, the Vatican opened up an official YouTube channel to show various papal addresses and ceremonies. The Vatican even released an iPhone application that contains multilingual versions of the Breviary prayer book and the prayers of daily mass. Most recently, Benedict had joined Twitter in December, two months before his resignation. The Vatican's enthusiasm for technology isn't limited to cell phones and the internet. It has also added solar panels to the roof of the Pope Paul VI auditorium as part of its commitment to fight climate change.
6. The Vatican has the finest Swiss bodyguards Nowadays, the Swiss have a reputation for pacifism, but back in the 1500s, they were considered an unstoppable military force. Swiss armies were renowned for the their mastery of a weapon called the halberd, a deadly combination of a spear and an axe, and their ground troops were famous for routinely demolishing legions of enemies on horseback. After Pope Julius II witnessed their ferocity in battle 500 years ago, he recruited a few soldiers to become his personal bodyguards. Ever since, Swiss Guards have pledged fidelity to the pope, sometimes dying for the cause. During the sacking of Rome in 1527, for instance, three quarters of them were killed while providing cover for Pope Clement VII to escape.
Today, the hundred or so members of the Swiss Guard spend most of their time bedecked in Renaissance garb, twirling their halberds in ceremonies or manning checkpoints around the Vatican. When the Guards are actually protecting the pope, they wear plain clothes and carry distinctly modern weapons.
7. The Mafia dipped into the collection plateIn The Godfather: Part III, a shady deal between the Mafia and the Vatican leads to the murder of the pope. Was this based on a true story? Possibly. On the morning of September 29, 1978, Pope John Paul I was found dead, sitting up in his bed, after only 33 days in office. Although Vatican officials claimed the 65-year-old pope died of a heart attack, there was never an autopsy, and at the time, the Vatican definitely had ties to organized crime. Sure enough, in 1982, Vatican Bank president Father Paul Marcinkus resigned from his post after a series of scandals exposed the bank's ties to the Mafia. Eventually, the bank had to repay more than $200 million to its creditors. But Marcinkus was never indicted of a crime, and though he was suspected of being involved in several mysterious deaths, including Pope John Paul I's,
Marcinkus successfully claimed diplomatic immunity in the United States and retired to Arizona in 1990, and died there 16 years later.8. There's no vice popeOnce a cardinal becomes the pope, he's the designated leader of the Catholic Church and God's representative on Earth for the rest of his life — which was basically the case until Pope Benedict XVI's surprise resignation last month. (Up until then, it had been more than 500 years since the last papal resignation.) Further, as modern medicine improves, even seriously ill people tend to stick around longer, meaning that a pope could be alive but unable to perform his duties for years, as was the case with John Paul II. What happens then? Well, no one is really sure. A cardinal can take over the pope's responsibilities as the Vatican's head of state, but no one else is allowed to carry out his ceremonial duties. In the end, many masses and benedictions simply go unperformed until the pope either passes away or recovers.
9. Faith-based economicsThe Vatican needs several hundred million dollars per year to operate. Its many financial responsibilities include running international embassies, paying for the pope's travels around the world, maintaining ancient cathedrals, and donating considerable resources to schools, churches, and health care centers. So where does that money come from? Catholics pay tithes to their local parishes and donate about $100 million every year to the Vatican itself. But collection plates aren't the Vatican's only source of money. The city-state also gets cash from books, museums, stamps, and souvenir shops. (Get your limited-edition Vatican euros!)
But that's not always enough. At the end of 2007, the city-state was $13.5 million in the hole. Part of the problem was the weakened American dollar, which translated into less purchasing power. Another contributing factor was the lackluster performance of the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano. To boost subscriptions, Pope Benedict asked the editor to spice up the layout with more photos and allowed him to cover world news stories in addition to the traditional religious fare.
10. Even the ATMS are in LatinThe Vatican Bank is the only bank in the world that allows ATM users to select Latin to perform transactions. That's just one symbol of the Holy See's continued devotion to the language. Pope Benedict XVI had been particularly passionate about reviving the language and purportedly held many informal conversations in Latin. (Pope John Paul II generally spoke Polish.)
The Vatican's Latin Foundation tries to keep the language relevant by translating modern phrases into the ancient tongue. In 2003, they released an updated dictionary that included the terms "rush hour" (tempus maximae frequentiae) and "dishwasher

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The 30 Happiest Facts Of All Time

The 30 Happiest Facts Of All Time

2. Norway once knighted a penguin.

The penguin's full name is Colonel-in-Chief Sir Nils Olav.

3. Blind people smile despite having never seen someone smile before. It is just a natural human reaction.

4. Despite there being a 1 in 40 million chance of you having been born, your ancestors have successfully had children up until you.

5. A cat version of the corgi exists: the munchkin cat.

Via: www

And the voice of Mickey Mouse and the voice of Minnie Mouse got married in real life...

Wayne Allwine and Russi Taylor.

The voice actor of SpongeBob and the voice actor of Plankton's computer wife are married in real life...

Tom Kenny and Jill Talley.
Via: www

Charlie and the waitress from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" are married in real life...

And JD and Turk are actually best friends in real life.

6. Spiders can't fly.

7. There's a competition in Sweden called Kaninhoppning, or rabbit show jumping.

8. The last man to walk on the moon, Gene Cernan, promised his daughter he'd write her initials on the moon. He did, and her initials, "TDC," will probably be on the moon for tens of thousands of years.

9. If you fake laugh long enough, you'll actually start to laugh really hard.


10. A group of flamingos is called a flamboyance.

11. Also, a group of pugs is called a grumble.

12. And a group of ferrets is called a business of ferrets.

13. When you were born, you were, for however brief an amount of time, the youngest person on the planet.


14. Puffins mate for life.

They even make little cliffside homes with a room for a toilet!

15. And baby puffins are called "pufflings."

16. The official "Space Jam" website hasn't been changed since 1996.

17. Cuddling releases a chemical called oxytocin that helps people recover from physical wounds.

18. Cows have best friends.

According to scientists at Northampton University, cows have BFFs and are stressed out when away from them.

19. Turtles can breathe through their butt.

20. Alexander Graham Bell originally wanted people to greet each other on the phone by saying "ahoy!" instead of "hello!"

21. Rats laugh when tickled.

22. In 1957, the BBC ran a story about how spaghetti was growing on trees in Switzerland. So many people believed the hoax that the BBC was flooded with calls from people asking how to plant their own spaghetti tree.

The BBC's response was simply, "Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

23. Squirrels forgetting where they put their acorns results in thousands of new trees each year.

24. A monkey was once tried and convicted for smoking a cigarette in South Bend, Indiana.

25. Worms communicate with one another by snuggling.


26. The Beatles used "love" 613 times in their songs.

27. Butterflies use their feet to taste.

28. Some window washers at children's hospitals surprise the kids by dressing up like superheroes.

29. Finally, just remember that somewhere, an orangutan just became BFF with a dog...

A baby just discovered bubbles for the first time...

This happy animal exists...


There's always a new food that you haven't tried...

Somewhere, someone is having the best day of their life...

30. And someone is accidentally pushing a door that says "pull."

And someone is accidentally pushing a door that says "pull."