The Birth Of Public Transportation
While working on this Underworld project, Dacchus and Plato C. Biscuits started carpooling to work every day because they live near each other.
I wish there were a way we could pick everybody up, Plato said one morning.
The two began to wonder if there wasn’t some way that they could indeed pick everyone up. They began to fantasize about a transportation system that would basically be one big carpool for the entire village. They became obsessed with the idea and their commutes were soon consumed by talk of nothing else: they drew up routes, designed vehicles, and drafted schedules. The idea grew and grew, and it wasn’t long before they invented what was essentially the first public transportation system.
Early in the design process, the pair also inadvertently created the first skateboard. They had used the skeleton of an old roller skate as the base for a scale model of a four-wheel flatcar that would operate as a people mover in their system. The flatcar would roam around the village on a set route and people could step on and off of it as they pleased. Their transportation system evolved, however, and the flatcar concept was abandoned.
One morning, upon seeing the flatcar model on the floor, Dacchus was seized by the sudden urge to jump on it. He took a short run and hopped onto the deck of the vehicle with his left foot forward, his body sideways, as if skidding across a sheet of ice. The flatcar took off with Dacchus atop it screaming and waving his arms as he zoomed across the room. He and the vehicle came to a sudden stop when they crashed into a bookshelf in the corner. After Plato excavated him from beneath the pile of books Dacchus emerged exhilarated.
That was so fun, he exclaimed.
When the two weren’t trying to learn how to ride their landsleds (as they called them), they were tinkering with the design. One of the more successful iterations, oddly enough, was constructed from a pair of antique, brass, barrow doorknobs they pinched off a local Janus temple. The doorknob style unlocked the landsled’s secret powers and opened the door to unimaginable speeds.
Bioluminescent Enzymes In The Centaur Pancreas
Some have suggested that the Virgin Witch hunts the Centaurs herself, but most agree that her childlike proportions (she’s thousands of years old, but inhabits the body of a nine-year-old girl) renders her physically incapable of this feat and that she harvests the organs as she claims: while scavenging. Whatever the case, the Virgin Witch is in the business of trafficking Centaur Pancreases. The Virgin Witch’s biggest customers are Cactopus Elephants, who have an interesting use for the Centaur’s large gland.
The pancreas is known as a “mixed gland” because it plays both an endocrine role in helping control blood sugar levels and metabolism within the body, as well as an exocrine role in relation to the secretion of enzymes involved in digesting substances from outside of the body.
We are only now learning that it seems to play a third role in that it is also in the business of manufacturing chemicals responsible for bioluminescence—the production and emission of light by living organisms such as jellyfish, fireflies, and fungi. Apparently the Cactopus Elephants have, for centuries, been acquiring Centaur Pancreases from the Virgin Witch and ingesting the enzymes produced by the gland to create a sort of bioluminescent avatar of themselves that is, purportedly, eternal and trans-dimensional.
With the bioluminescent enzymes the elephants are able to construct, or clone, another version of themselves made purely out of light—a hologram of sorts. The human eye is unable to see the elephant’s other, bioluminescent aura because it is outside of the visible spectrum, but it has been detected by very sensitive instrumentation. Some researchers have argued that the incarnation is not visible because the data suggests it exists in another dimension. There are, in fact, ancient accounts of shaman in mushroom-induced trance states who claimed to have been accompanied to other universes by “glowing elephants” covered in “moving pictures” that, until now, were thought to be fiction.
A research paper titled, “Bioluminescent Enzymes In The Centaur Pancreas And Their Effects On Trans-Dimensional Cactopus Elephants,” is expected to be released later this year.
Pencil And Waffle
Introducing the two new guys. They are seven-year-old brothers who were previously named Wetzel and Pretzel. Since Tania and I do not support, nor are we in the employ of, the Wetzel’s Pretzels pretzel-pushing junk food chain we refuse to call them that. We felt, however, that it would be rude to dismiss their names outright and best to at least try and retain the phonetic spirit of the originals. So after much deliberation we settled on Pencil and Waffle, aka The Chuckle Brothers.
Turns out The Chuckle Brothers are Druids. They worship the trees in our backyard. They worship trees that are alive and trees that have been reduced to firewood logs and stacked in a pile. They spend the majority of their time talking to the pile. They stick their noses into the spaces between the logs and snort the darkness.
There are three birds—harpies, really—in our backyard that they’ve befriended. And by “befriended,” I mean that Pencil and Waffle chase them up and down the yard. The harpies lead them from tree to tree and, at the base of each, The Chuckle Brothers pay tribute to the tree through a variety of peculiar Druid ceremonies. There is one tree in particular, in the southeast corner of our yard, that they pay special attention to. I’ve been given to understand that a Squirrel Witch lives in the base of the trunk—a devil rat sorceress, named Ostara. The Squirrel Witch has “relations” with the tree and she feeds it a rich mixture of rat milk, skunk oils, and other magic potions. She can be heard late at night quietly tickling the tree’s roots as if it were a stringed instrument. Her haunting songs will cause the tree to blossom under a full moon and it will produce one magical fruit at midnight (Soma?). It is said that ingesting its juices will “light one’s way” for eternity.
I’m not sure what they’re doing back there, but something’s got them lit up because The Chuckle Brothers are crazy. We’ll bring you more on this story as it develops.
Triangle And The Frogs Of Dacchus
The director of Efrunden Galerie, who represents me in Europe, recently discovered one of my pieces on the cover of an album by a 60s prog-rock band from Germany called, Triangle. The image of the album, which he found in an old vinyl record collector magazine, is small and b/w, but it is clearly my art on the cover. Herr Direktor is currently trying to track down a copy. In the meantime, he provided me with a rough translation of an interview Triangle did with a German music mag. Interestingly, all of their music revolves around the number three.
The band has three members.
They play songs with only three notes.
All notes are triads.
They prefer the key of A because it’s shaped like a triangle.
Their lyrics are written with trigonometry in iambic trimeter using only three syllable words and every line rhymes with the number 3 (not the word, the number).
The music should be listened to while sitting in the center of three speakers.
The records are triple sided. The vinyl is slightly thicker in order to accommodate a narrow groove on the edge (the third side) that purportedly contains a song.
I wish I had been consulted before they used my work, but I understand why Triangle chose this piece because it involves a lot of threes. The illustration is from, The Frogs Of Dacchus, and concerns a time when Dianne O’Nysus (Dacchus disguised) disembarked from Plato’s ferry to relieve herself. She gets lost in the jungle and meets a strange, cabbage-headed creature with three eyes. He offers Dianne a magic mushroom in return for a small sample of her leavings to power the holographic pyramid he carries on a tray. Dianne agrees, eats the mushroom, and achieves Enlightenment. Reality, she learns, is based on the number three: Heaven/Man/Earth, Thesis/Antithesis/Synthesis, Past/Present/Future, etc. Unfortunately, by giving away her dung (her Past) Dianne forfeits her future because mushrooms (gateway to the Future) grow from dung. A chase begins.
Anyway, I will never be recompensed for the stolen cover art, but if anybody knows how to obtain a copy of this record, or even get in touch with former Triangle band members, please let me know.
Porcelain Panther Brain
The best thing Dacchus could have done in the situation would have been to leave his daughter, Telete, alone (just because Dacchus dresses like a woman, doesn’t mean he understands a woman), but a father can’t help meddling in his daughter’s affairs and so he called his friend, King When. King When is a doctor, or a dentist, or an oracle, or something—no one knows for sure—but Dacchus believes that King When can “fix” his daughter because King When has a very peculiar abnormality that purportedly gives him magic powers.
King When has 64 teeth in his mouth. Twice as many as normal. His toofs are arranged in four concentric circles, 32 on the roof of his mouth, 32 below. The chompers are coated in Moon Enamel and they migrate around his mouth in unison with the phases of the Moon. By channeling his dental resonances King When is able to heal people, remove obstacles, and see into the future. He can also play his teeth like an accordion.
Thanks for coming, Dacchus said to King When. Teely’s in the Porcelain Panther’s Brain again and I can’t get her to come out. I was hoping you could talk to her.
King When said he would do what he could.
Here, Dacchus said handing King When a pigeon. The only way to communicate with her when she’s in there is via this Pigeon Phone. No, you just hold the pigeon like a pho—no, other way. Its anus is the mouthpiece where you talk. Yeah. Then put its beak in your ear and—yeah, like that, that’s it. And just press its left nipple three times to dial Teely’s number—I know, I have no idea why the bird has nipples.
When King Wen finally connected with Telete, she cut him off immediately.
Please, shut up, Mr. When, Telete said in a stern, but oddly pleasant voice. I want to ask you a question, Mr. When: If a monkey is hanging upside down in a tree, which way do his testicles hang?
King When thought about this for a moment before replying, Down?
Wrong, Telete said. They hang up.
King When was going to argue his point until he realized the line was dead.
Did she play the monkey penis thing on you? Dacchus asked snickering.
Testicles, King When said correcting him. Monkey testicles. Apparently they hang up.
The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, home to one of the world’s largest radio telescopes, recently reported unusual interruptions in the telescope’s deep space receptions. At first they suspected Russian hackers, but it turns out that the extraterrestrial radio transmissions are being pilfered by the Underworld’s finest fiddler, Nicolo Piganini.
Inspired by Kurt Vonnegut’s testimony before the FCC in 1951 on the subject of “The Euphio Question,” Piganini constructed his own Euphoriaphone, or Euphio for short. The machine harvests faint and mysterious signals from seemingly empty regions of interstellar space, reconfigures the signals into sound waves, then amplifies the sound. Vonnegut describes it as nothing more than “a wavering hiss,” but the effect it has on anyone who happens to be in the vicinity is “happiness—incomparable, continuous happiness.” He likened it to walking past a field of burning marijuana.
Piganini, from his Underworld concert hall at the center of the Earth, was able to tap into the Arecibo Observatory’s giant dish, poach its interstellar signals, and then run them through his own Euphoriaphone. The frequencies are then routed through a blue whale’s larynx that is operated, and accompanied by, a choir of Buddhist monks, along with Piganini’s haunting fiddle. The sound is impossible to describe.
“Better than any wine buzz ever,” is how Diane O’Nysus described the Euphio Philharmonic Orchestra performance that she attended. She said the sounds emitted by the whale’s larynx created an immensely pleasant feeling of being home, of being safe and secure, of being loved. A fellow concertgoer, Hieronymoose Bassch, told Diane that the sounds come from the center of the universe (if such a place exists) and that it is in fact the sound of our origin. It is Mother Universe’s heart beating.
Well, Diane replied, it sounds more like her fart’s bleating, but that Euphio thing can hold my hand any time, any where, any when. It melted my earwax! I want one.
Directions To The House Of Alnilam
‘Ello, Love, said the frog named, Norman. Fancy seeing you ‘ere. You on your way to the Alnilam party?
Before Dianne could say, yes, the old frog named, Eaton, said, What’s that then? Pointing at the potato Dianne had on a leash. Are you bringing an old spud as a gift?
All of the frogs laughed at the idea. Who brings a potato to a party?
No! Dianne said quickly. (The truth is the potato was a gift.) This is a rescue potato that I saved from a spud shelter. I’m, uh, just taking it for a walk.
Awww, bless your heart, said the frog named Solomon. We thought you were going to give it to The Scarlet Daughters.
No, of course not, Dianne lied. Don’t be stupid. Why, are you going to the party? What did you get The Scarlet Daughters?
A Chinese Rainbow, said Wesley proudly. They’re very rare because they only come in four colors—green, blue, red, yellow.
Problem is, said Norman, our eyesight aint so good these days and we seem to have made a wrong turn in Albuquerque. Do you know the way to Alnilam? Our Rainbow is melting and we need to get it in some water fast.
Crafty Dianne seized the opportunity that presented itself: she could give the frogs the wrong directions to Alnilam, ditch the spud, then race to the party, and make an appearance before the frogs arrived.
As a matter of fact, I do, Dianne said. First, you go straight until you come to the Electric Thunder Nymph Bakery. Then go right on Triangle Ave. (the street has three lanes and all the houses are pyramids). After about three miles, you’ll see a large dome, that’s where the Shitty Kitty Itty Bitty Titty Committee meets, and you go left there on Smells Like Horse Street. There’s no sign, but it smells like horse. Make your next left on to Blue Waffle Blvd.—if you see a 12-year old caterpillar playing cruise ship reggae on a flute, you’ve gone too far. Once you’re on Blue Waffle, listen for The Great Vowel Shift. When you hear long vowels turn into diphthongs, go left again on Orion’s Belt-evard. And there you are: the House Of Alnilam is the big house in the middle.
The frogs knew immediately that Dianne was lying to them, but they decided to go along with it and play a little trick of their own on Dianne…
Dr. Weirdo Feeds His Ravens
When Telete finally escaped her father’s prying and entered the Porcelain Panther’s brain cavity, she was warmly received by all her best friends: Dr. Weirdo, his wife, Mrs. Friday Weirdo, and their pet Poohrannosaurus, Winky. They were all overjoyed to see her because they were getting ready to feed Dr. Weirdo’s two ravens, Hugo and Muncy.
Why do you insist on calling them ravens, Telete asked laughing while stroking Hugo and Muncy’s heads, when you know very well that one of them is a crow and the other is a blue jay?
Oh Telete, Mrs. Friday said, you should know by now that the Doctor has never troubled himself with facts or reality. We should at least be happy that they’re birds.
I’m so glad you arrived when you did, Teely, said Dr. Weirdo, because we were just arguing about what to call the baby. As you know, the birds are very fussy eaters and they won’t touch anything that they disagree with.
Mrs. Friday and Dr. Weirdo only feed their mythical ravens once every 100 years. The couple conceive and harvest a baby and then feed it to the birds. It’s just one human baby, they reason, who cares? But everything about it must be perfect, including its name.
Teely, can you name it for us, please? They asked handing her the newborn. You’re so good with names.
She took the baby nervously, reluctantly, unsure how to hold it. Teely is the only female she knows that doesn’t like holding babies. She looked at the baby’s scrunched up face and shook her head, no, I can’t name this thing. But they begged and pleaded, so she said, Okay, and started rattling off baby names.
Tybalt, The Prince Of Cats
Excellent Oliver Diablo
Dorsey Ham-Fisted Tornado Brain
The Shit Dappled Halfwit Henry
Puddle Horse Jockey Jules
Eduardo, Of The Potato Headed Women
Say Goodnight Ralph, Ralph
Colph, Dean Of Elders
The Rittenhouse Brat
St. Robert Lobster
Lil Itchy Ira
Shemp The Shaman
Larry, A Larry’s Kind Of Larry
Wait, said Dr. Weirdo, what was that last one?
Larry, A Larry’s Kind Of Larry? Teely replied.
No, the one before that.
Yes, that’s the one, Dr. Weirdo said clapping his hands. The child’s name is Moses. Moe for short. Honey are you cool with, Moe?
Fine with me, said Mrs. Friday. Feed Moe to the ravens.
Suddenly Telete didn’t like the idea of the ravens eating the baby. As she was contemplating these strange new feelings, little Moe, as he was now called, did a very unusual thing: he furped—burped and farted at the same time.
Oh ho! Dr. Weirdo bellowed. Little Moe has been marinating. The ravens will enjoy the extra flavor.
But Telete took it as a sign. She didn’t know why, but felt she must save little Moe.
Maybe they’d like him even more if I dressed him up a little, Telete said quickly. Eyebrows were raised. Go on? Well, as they say, we eat with our eyes, Telete continued, so maybe if I made a little nicer presentation of the sacrificial baby, the ravens might enjoy it all the more? Maybe a haircut?
Last week’s image was very popular in the 17th century and belonged to a canon of stories collectively known as The Mutton Monster Myths. It was a Northern European adaptation of the ancient Greek story of the Minotaur, but with sheep instead of bulls. The kernel of the story is essentially the same: the gods bestow favor on a King, the King doesn’t reciprocate, so the gods make his Queen fall in love with a sheep, and the Queen gives birth to the Mutton Monster. In the version here, by William Sheepsheare (real name), the main story evolves into a parody of Homer’s Odyssey beginning in the title with the ovine pun on the wandering hero’s name.
The Queen named her deformed child, Ewelysses, but rather than imprison him in a labyrinth, they allow the misshapen child to wander about freely. Ewelysses eventually wanders off on an epic journey with a large flock of sheep—although epic isn’t quite the right word because they’re accompanied by a pair of very aggressive dachshunds that herd the flock this way and that, always away from danger or anything that would be of interest to a reader. To modern tastes, it’s a very dull story, but it does have its moments.
At one point the flock seeks shelter in a cave that is home to a giant Cyclops. When the giant returns he mistakes the small flock of sheep and two dogs as dust balls on his floor and promptly vacuums them all up. Inside the vacuum’s dust bag Ewelysses provides an amusing catalog of the bag’s contents. Besides “a small volcano, a pile of expired lightning bolts, and a Polish swing set,” there are four whales each containing its own captives: Whale One contains an elderly cobbler and his delinquent marionette; Whale Two houses a Jewish prophet named Joe; Whale Three contains a one legged sea captain; and Whale Four is hosting a hockey game between some whalers from Hartford vs. a pod of golden seals from California.
To blast out of the vacuum bag, the crafty Ewelysses corked all the whales’ holes with dust balls, then he milked his flock, churned some feta, and fed the cheese to the four whales knowing full well that adult cetaceans are lactose intolerant…