Why is explorer lady wearing high-heeled pumps in the jungle?
Why is explorer lady wearing high-heeled pumps in the jungle?
Nosferatu, or The Undead, was a 1922 German silent film that predates the more familiar Universal version of Dracula. Max Schreck played the titular vampire, Count Orlov; the actor had an unusually tall, thin, lanky build that added to the otherworldly look of the being, highlighted in this trailer for a restored version of the film. Unlike Dracula, Count Orlov’s fangs were not his carnivore teeth — they were his front incisors! They, with his pointed ears, bulging eyes, and clawed hands created a unique horror that’s still to be replicated.
If you’re looking for a made-up horror movie to stick in somewhere, here’s a list. I even hope some are produced one day!
|In the Mouth of Lucifer
I was a Teenage Banshee
The Stalking Cannibal
Dawn of the Fiend
Return of the Damned
Day of the Ghoul
Talons of the Crawling Hand
Eyes of the Puppet Master
Dracula vs. the Witch Doctor
Our Martian Eden
Scream, Dr. Jekyll
Birth of the Gorgon
Casting the Runes
The Claw of Jupiter
Succubus and Gorgon
The Wicked + the Divine
The Borogravian Mirror
Who Left the Bones in That Box?
Spider Women from beyond the North Star
This would have been only a slightly disturbing domestic scene but for the skull head of the man and the wig rest head of the tabby cat.
Russian fairy tales have a cast of characters rarely heard above in the West. I believe the pic above is of Alkonost and Sirin, two mythical, woman-headed birds with bewitching voices. Unlike the sirens, they used their singing for good, bringing happiness to those deserving. The cave full of giant gem crystals is an unfamiliar element as well, though the intrepid boy explorer is not.
Following are a list of imaginary fairy tales culled from my Twitter feed, 2017 – 2021.
||Princess Apple Blossom
The Sleepy Little Seamstress
The Talking Pudding
The Goat-Girl’s Blessing
The Magic Cheese-Mold
The Terrible Bairn and the Forgotten Girl
Secrets of the Soundhole
||Why Beauty is Blind
The City Where No One Was Ugly
How Death Was Wounded
The Monkey and the Apes
The Fable of the Peacock and the Ogre
|1001 Arabian Nights Stories
||The Tale of the Rok’s Foster Daughter
The Nine Lemons
The Adventures of King Absmas and His Brother
||The Honey-Tongued Hummingbird of Hickenback Dell|
The alien certainly thinks so.
Being born in the shadow of the Baby Boomers, the interests of my older siblings and cousins were a big influence on my life, particularly those most popular of the Hippy arts: psychedelia and astrology.
I read every astrology book I could get my little hands on, but decided the signs could do with some improvement. So I created my own Zodiac, of fourteen months not twelve, and my own set of signs, of which five were animal, four celestial phenomena, and the rest sinister objects. I even drew a set of cards with the signs depicted in gur-roovy acid trip rainbow colors, as was still common in the mid-1970s, but my gur-roovy style of lettering left much to be desired in the way of legibility, so I’m recreating them here, childish errors intact. (I created my own planets to go along with the signs because the nine in our solar system had already been claimed.)
|WEXINOG THE WHALE
Fish: Angel fish
Ruling Planet: Cameiila
You are highly lithe and athletic. Your Personallity [sic] will conflict between friends.
|CADIS THE CLOUD
Ruling Planet: Lianna
Born a Cadis you are truthful and fun-loving. You are very good at sports. Unfortunately you display your affection for people through violence.
Again, no comment.
|UNI THE WINGED UNICORN
Fish: Siamese fighting fish
Ruling Planet: Simoon
Born a Uni you are a strong expressor [sic] of your rights. You are persistent. Unfortunately you are likely to be in bad health.
What a blow for people born in March.
(In an earlier version of this zodiac, the unicorn was an awkward fantasy creature I made up called a Clixnalon — a two-legged, bipedal antelope with feathered wings and a bird-of-paradise tail )
|VISHINI THE VOLCANO
Ruling Planet: Coppercailie
Born a Vishini you are tolerant and patient. You are friendly. You are a gossip.
Why are the animal and bird of this sign both creatures commonly cooked for dinner?
|GRUS THE CRANE
Fish: Flying Fish
Ruling Planet: Sarina
Born a Grus you are friendly and active. You become bored easily and are often quite pickly,
Grus is an actual constellation. But it doesn’t lie on the ecliptic.
|KI’ANG THE SACRIFICIAL KNIFE
Ruling Planet: Belotsi
Born a Ki’ang you are agressive and a leader. You cannot tolerate stupidity. You are wise and loyal, but often hostile.
I created this sign after a prolonged period of fascination with the Aztecs. Later in life, I married one. But it didn’t last.
|CHING THE CARNIVOROUS PLANT
Flower: Venus fly trap
Fish: Pilot fish
Color: Lt. Green
Ruling Planet: Senecca
Chingians are tricky people who can easily double-talk you. They make good thieves and are usually warm and loving.
I wonder what a carnivorous plant has to do with being a deceitful, warm, and loving thief.
|LANA THE SNAKE
Ruling Planet: Dole
Snake Children are very cunning and deceitful. They are usually graceful and lithe. They are thrifty and loving & caring.
I see that my fifth-grade analysis of those with a snake sign matches that of J. K. Rowling’s (Slytherin). But it’s harder to see how that co-exists with being thrifty and loving.
|INA O’PO’O THE DRAGON **
Color: Deep Purple
Ruling Planet: Chicagonite
Dragon People are the king of the other sighns. [sic] They are loving, caring.
I was born in September, so of course that month has the best write-up.
** Shows my Hawaiian influence, obviously.
|QUASER THE TWIN STARS
Ruling Planet: Alpha Centauri
Born a Quaser you are critical and a stay-at-home. You are very active and light-headed.
At my age then I didn’t quite understand what a quasar was. Only that the name sounded cool and had something to do with ultra-powered stars. The ruling planet is also the only space object that really exists (but it is a star and not a planet.) I’m not even gonna go into the four very disparate personality traits.
|SCOPTOS THE SKULL
Stone: Cat’s Eye Opal
Ruling Planet: DEATH
Born a Scoptos you are solemn and quiet. You are a leader in many things. You are most likely fair and tall.
I cannot get over the fact the ruling planet of this sign is DEATH!!
|KRYTNON THE KROWN
Ruling Planet: Marina
You are highly dominating and attractive. Unfortunately your rude ways turn you off to many people.
This is the only personality description of all the signs that makes any sense.
|SOLAL THE SUN
Month: The thirteenth month
Flower: Concubine (I think I meant columbine)
Animal: Lygon (I think I meant liger)
Color: Lt. Yellow
Ruling Planet: The sun rules you
As a Solal you are friendly and independent. You are never cold. You have a tendency to be stingy and greedy, and sensitive.
We are running into uncharted territory here with the addition of a thirteenth month. What season that month was in, I wasn’t sure. It was too heady a concept for me. So I simply let it lie with “the thirteenth month.”
|RASHI THE RAINBOW
Month: The fourteenth month
Fish: Pukapuka (I meant the humuhumunukunukuāpua‘a, or reef triggerfish)
Color: All colors
Ruling Planet: Joma
Born a Rashi you are shy, sensitive and meat. You are a comfort and care.
My brain has been turned to mush by all this. How about yours?
But I adapted most of it as the zodiac system for the Escharne novels and stories.
One of the things I’ve noticed about illustrations of dragons (and many imaginary creatures in general) is how closely they resemble dogs. The charming beast above is a sleepy German Shepard through and through, in spite of the wings, long tail, and feathered goat-featured face. This is not a criticism of the artist, mind you. It’s how mythic animals are made appealing and familiar through the the use of real-life analogs, making them seem more real.
Another way to bring the unfamiliar to life is by using off-hand mentions of familiar-sounding but nonexistent people, places, and things, what I call Local Color. Below is a list of many examples taken from my Twitter feed, 2017 – 2020.
|Gems and Minerals
Tuberculosis of the Cheeks due to drinking alcohol
The Wheel of Impressment
The Royal Masticator
|Stars and Constellations
||Weszar and Jorab, the Twin Archers
Anulior, the Falling Thief
Eubregeuse, the Healer’s Braid
Irulces, The Studious Beekeeper
Geltut, the Human-Headed Crow
Mirakneba The Gryphon
Villsturus and Valdkaa, The Twin Stars
Faunabi, a dim red star in the constellation of the Lioness
Vatrima, a white star also known as the Salamander’s Tongue
||Archers of the Ebon Hawk
Sons of the Midnight Eagle
The League of Celestial Illusionists
Elders of the Silver Maggot
|The Bitter Stag
The Frolicsome Dragon
The Minstrel’s Manor
Twenty Ponies and a Sip
Elanara’s Saucy Dungeon
||Hippocampus holding an anchor on a field of yellow and white stripes
Scarlet serpent entwined around a yellow fish
Two crossed axes inside a hexagon
Mermaid riding a sea-lion
Wyvern’s head impaled on a pike
||City of the Jade Dingo
The Lost City of Umbergay
The Medieval city of Fairmarvel
The City of Gnarlwood, ruled by Lady Ivorolor
||The Gryphon: The creature holds a bouquet of flowers in its beak and its head is crowned with stars. In the background is a plowed field. The card implies good health, but when reversed, a broken bone.
The Steward: He wears a fur doublet and fights a cockatrice with an axe. Behind him, several people have already been turned to stone. It means a close associate will betray the subject.
Adaptation: Depicts an anthropomorphized rooster riding an ox. Its meaning changes with whatever card is placed at its right.
The Widowed Lady: A weeping woman dressed in black swings a censor trailing smoke. Behind her is peaceful farmland. Means ill fortune for the near future.
The Hawk: A brown and white hawk hovers above a burning furnace about which men work. Can mean either industry or the need to remain watchful.
It’s getting close to Halloween and things are about to get pretty horrible! No more horrible than this Japanese lady who seems to have been transformed into a sink, an open drain for her mouth.
In fantasy worldbuilding, insects get the short end of the (walking) stick. What’s the last imaginary one you can remember? For me, it’s the odd bread-and-butterfly of Alice in Wonderland.
The intelligent insect races of science fiction are more memorable. The Bugs of Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, and the Buggers (Formics) of Orson Scott Card’s Ender series are two of the more memorable. Spindly, black, hairy, and multilegged, they are depicted as ruthless, avaricious adversaries without emotion and individuality. The same is true of the Tandu, a race from David Brin’s Uplift series who oppose the hubris of humankind for creating their own client races in intelligent dolphins and chimpanzees. (There is, incidentally, a whole encyclopedia of Uplift races and their relationships here, and it’s complicated.)
Alan Dean Foster is the only writer I know who bucked the tide and created an insect race friendly towards humanity. Known as the Thranx, his charming creatures are mantis-like and have an attractive odor. The same concept of mantid- or grasshopper-like insect men was adopted by TSR (now Wizards of the Coast) for their race of insect men known as the Thri-Keen which players may choose as a character.
Want to stick in some insects of your own to round out a world or two?
(NOTE: I’m including spiders and scorpions in the list even though, technically, they do not belong to the insect family.)
|Chicken Cabbage Spider
Blue Oil Wasp
Empress Barrel Cricket
Valparaiso Barrel Cricket
White Slipper Butterfly
You’re stranded in Medieval Russia and can only pick one. Which is it?