Blood by Mark Ryden

Book: Blood: Miniature Paintings of Sorrow and Fear

Artist: Mark Ryden

Type of Book: Non-fiction, pop art

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Lincoln’s head.

Availability: Published by Porterhouse in 2011, you can get a copy here:

Comments: I am not a particularly visual person, though I do have preferred aesthetics. When left to my own devices I prefer Scandinavian home decor styles because they are easy to clean and I like my art bright, pretty and sort of creepy. The latter explains my affection for Mark Ryden, and hopefully will explain my complete lack of artistic vocabulary when I discuss art. I’m only at more of a loss when I try to discuss architecture or any form of math. I one day hope to be a Mark Ryden completist, book-wise. I want to accomplish the same thing with Edward Gorey – his works and works about him – and Henry Darger. It occurs to me that all three of these artists share similar themes – children in potential peril and unsettling situations, pretty illustrations, macabre content, elaborate styles, and just creepiness in general.

Mark Ryden’s paintings feed directly into the part of my psyche that loves nightmarish beauty without consequence, the surrealist nature of dark dreams. There is a catharsis for me when I view most of Ryden’s paintings. My interest in extremity leads me into some dark places – my love for Peter Sotos is an excellent example. But sometimes the impact of horror is hard to stomach. Not so with Ryden’s paintings.

Sometimes his subjects show sadness, such as the girl on the cover of this book. She is weeping blood and looks very somber. But even when his paintings, typically pictures of little girls, encounter the frightening, the gory, the miserably surreal, they seldom show fear. At worst the girls show morbid curiosity, maybe some trepidation, but there is no fear in Ryden’s work. The introduction to this book describes these paintings as showing a loss of innocence and that may be true. But if there is a loss of innocence, it is one that is expected, one that is not miserable to those losing their innocence because the children maintain their wide-eyed beauty even as they are confronted with the dreadful and disgusting. I can look upon lovely, big-eyed children covered in blood or encountering slabs of bloody meat and enjoy them for the absolute beauty in the image, for Ryden’s paintings are always lovely. They are always sumptuous, in colors that are so vivid that they almost evoke the sense of taste for me. This is interesting to me because even though much of Ryden’s work is associated with blood and meat, the bright pinks and various pastels evoke old fashioned, boiled-sugar candy. Taffy. Cotton candy. Not fetid, iron stink of meat. For whatever reason, I don’t experience the loss of innocence the way that I suspect others do when I look at Ryden’s work.  (You see the intense use of pastels most especially in Ryden’s The Meat Show collection.)

Blood is a tiny book, a fitting size because the paintings are all miniatures, and I selected it to discuss during my Halloween post-a-thon because this book contains an explanation for why Ryden engages in such morbidity, almost a defensive apology for what makes him tick and his explanations, in the introduction as well as a quote later in the book, show in action one of the warnings I often give writers: once you create, the creation is out of your hands and you have no control over what your work will mean to others. By his own words, Ryden would likely find my inability to find his works alarming, especially those in Blood, somewhat alarming itself. Ryden says:

Blood is very powerful. While meat is the substance that keeps our living souls in this physical reality, blood keeps our meat alive. Blood is liquid life. When blood escapes our bodies we are alarmed to the very core of our brains. It is life leaking out of us. It is frightening and makes red a profoundly intense color.

It is here that I think shows the chasm between Ryden’s intent and my experience with his work. If blood is liquid life, seeing children interacting with blood is alarming but it is also a transformative experience. But girls are used to blood in a way boys aren’t. We literally see our blood escaping our body several days each month. It’s less a loss of innocence than a symbol of coming-of-age. There are biblical instructions about the corruptibility and disgusting nature of menstrual blood but for many women seeing blood outside the body is not alarming and when it happens it is simply a sign of growing up. Perhaps this is why I am not appalled by the loss of innocence seen in the paintings in this collection. Blood is liquid life, but in some respects blood is a liquid proving-ground, a symbol of a trial endured, of obtaining a certain type of wisdom. Sometimes the wisdom that comes from corruption is more valuable than white, unblemished inexperience.

Regardless of the ins and outs of meaning and intent, the paintings in this collection are remarkable in content and execution.

original from markryden.comI love this painting, titled simply enough, Lincoln’s Head.  There’s a lot going on with this painting, and it can be tempting to write it off as kitsch.  I’m not the least bit startled by the blood or gore, and it’s not startling to me how meaningful this painting is to me.  Ryden often paints Abraham Lincoln, with Lincoln performing an assortment of duties, like juggling with meat, birthing a baby from a tree, as well as serving as the focus in scenes not as easily summarized.  In this painting, his head at the foot of the bed is reminiscent of the horse head in The Godfather, a sort of warning to the little girl.  Yet Lincoln, as bastardized as he has become by pop culture, is an enduring image of freedom and sacrifice for most Americans.

This child is one of the more shocked-looking Ryden children, and even so she is not terrorized by Lincoln’s head.  She exhibits morbid curiosity but she is not afraid – just surprised to see him there.  She is clearly a little girl, in her pink pajamas, but note the austerity of the room.  No paintings on the wall, no bedside table, no stuffed animals, no patterns on the sheets.  This is the room of an adult, white sheets stained with the blood of an American redeemer.  Lincoln is a warning to her, that adulthood encroaches  – red blood on white sheets is most definitely an image associated with loss of virginity.   I almost feel like she is dreaming, that she fell asleep and has drifted down onto Lincoln’s bed, his severed head warning of impeding womanhood and the many sacrifices that are made one becomes an adult.  This is a loss of innocence, certainly, but it is inevitable.  Children grow up.  It’s not a tragedy but the little girl’s face shows the alarm that genuine freedom as an adult can bring.

Or it’s a gory, fanciful picture of a little girl in a Shaker-style bedroom confronting a giant severed head.  You make the call.  In fact, I would love to hear other interpretations.

original from markryden.com

The Baptism of Jajo is my favorite painting from the Blood collection.  Interestingly I have far less explanation for this painting than I do Lincoln’s Head and what little interpretation I have may suggest that I have not shucked away my Southern Baptist upbringing as much as I would like to think I have.  Jajo is a baby exhibiting superlative innocence.  He is plump, white, with a big round head, a large forehead and widely-spaced blue eyes.  The hand of Christ is bleeding upon him and my first impulse upon seeing this painting was to think that the child was being protected by the blood of Christ, often represented as a lamb in Christian iconography, one of the most universal symbols of innocence.  And that creepy clown toy looking on at the scene makes me think this baby really needs all the protection he can get (though later that is disproved by another Ryden painting).

Even as I read Ryden’s explanations for these paintings – he was in a very dark place when he painted the Blood collection and really wanted to paint bloody and disturbing scenes – I have such a hard time seeing the menace or fear.  A fat baby in a field of flowers receiving a literal blessing from God.  Many, myself included, find the very notion of Christian transubstantiation disgusting – the idea of drinking the literal blood and eating the literal flesh of Christ as a form of sacrament is disturbing.  But this child is not drinking the blood but is rather receiving it in a sort of pagan/Episcopalian affusion baptism, on the top of his little head, the most fragile place on a baby’s body.  It’s comforting even as it is relatively grotesque.  Clearly I am not as divorced from faith as I thought, or at least from the feelings one experiences when seeing Christian symbols of salvation and protection.  But I also marry the Christianity in this painting with my interest in other forms of metaphysics.  The hand of Christ is palm out, so detailed you can almost read His future.  There is a pretty strong life line on that palm, almost suggesting that Jajo will have a nice, long, protected life.  That life line certainly can’t indicate Jesus’ own life span, so I think this is Jajo’s future spelled out on the hand.  Additionally, Mr OTC noted how placidly Jajo is staring at the viewer, almost Buddha-like in composure.  And why is the baby’s cheek red where the clown is staring yet white nearer the bleeding hand?  Again, there’s a lot going on in this painting and I don’t know how to assign meaning to it all.

If you want to see all the paintings in the Blood series, visit Mark Ryden’s site. Dig around and have a look at some of his other collections.  Jajo makes another appearance in The Meat Show in Jajo, Patron Saint of Clowns. 

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all the art I prefer is pop or low brow, or created by mentally unstable hermits.  I’m not particularly well-trained to see beauty and truth in a visual format.  I’m much better at interpreting words.  So it’s all the more likely that I have absorbed these images in a manner that doesn’t honor artistic intent.  But as with literature, I don’t think anyone needs to have a handle on absolute meaning to read Shakespeare or Stephen King or to enjoy paintings from Leonardo or Ryden.  Sometimes all that matters is if you love something and I love the juxtaposition of seemingly unharmed children confronted with blood and horror.  These paintings bring to me a sort of hope that the miseries of life are endured with a child-like resilience and that beauty remains in the face of the nastiest experience.  That in the midst of the rot you smell the flowers and taste the pastel saltwater taffy.

In a way, despite the title of the book, this was the least Halloween-y book I could discuss but I didn’t really understand that until I wrote this entry.  Here’s hoping my next entry is creepier.

Musical influence of Art Bell

I’m going to do my best to post a lot before Halloween because indulging in creepiness is one of the things I do best. I have so many creepy books, favorite creepy movies, and creepy sites to share that it would be a shame not to take advantage of this time of the year and write about all the eerie weirdness rattling around in my head.

This entry came about in my typical circuitous “getting lost on the Internet” method of gathering information. I wanted to discuss some really disturbing, dark songs about child predators, and had a specific song in mind, two songs, actually, about a predator assaulting a child and the child seeking revenge, but couldn’t remember the name of the songs or the band that performed them. In my attempts to run the song to ground, I fell into a YouTube hole that completely distracted me from my original goal. I’ll eventually discuss songs about child predation but not today because I found mystery wondering how many songs there are that are inspired by Art Bell’s Coast to Coast AM. (By the way, the band I was originally searching for is G.G.F.H. and the songs are “Little Missy” and “Missy’s Revenge” and while the songs are still outre and upsetting, they aren’t as viscerally disgusting as they were to me when I heard them years ago. I fear I am becoming jaded…)

Discussing Art Bell’s influence on music is really apropos for me this time of year because I always listen to his Ghost to Ghost episodes right before Halloween. I was putting together a playlist earlier this month but when I was searching for G.G.F.H.’s body of work, I found a title that piqued my interest and it turned out to have an Art Bell sample (the Venetian Snares song I discuss below – that is the song that linked me from child exploitation to Art Bell). After listening to the song with the Coast to Coast AM sample, I decided to see how many songs I could find that were influenced by Art Bell in some manner. Art Bell is interesting and somewhat weird in his own right, a man whose life has taken several unexpected turns, and he has been a personal hero of mine ever since he sued Ted Gunderson (who is hopefully right this very minute encountering the Satan he insisted was lurking in every daycare and influencing every politician since Washington) for slandering him as a pedophile.

Art no longer hosts Coast to Coast AM (and while George Noory is okay enough, he lacks a certain edge, I think, that Art brought to the table) but his long tenure on the AM and online radio program featured many bizarre and memorable shows. One of the most memorable was the night a man who claimed he was a former Area 51 employee called into the show in a panic, revealing that the US government was being duped by inhuman creatures posing as aliens from outer space, and that these creatures meant mankind harm. He claimed to be on the run from the federal government and sounded to be completely unhinged by the gravity of his discovery. In the middle of the phone call, something happened to the satellite and at least 50 separate radio stations went dead for around half an hour. Understandably, this caused Art and his listeners to freak out, assuming that indeed the feds were tracking the frightened caller and had interfered with his attempt to share his story. The man behind the Area 51 call eventually called back to Coast to Coast and explained it was indeed a hoax but that he had no idea what had happened in regards to the satellite failure. That, evidently, was just a coincidence. There are some who still believe the Area 51 caller was real and that the later call revealing the hoax is the real hoax, but that is the nature of conspiracy. This episode is called either the “Area 51 Caller” or “The Frantic Caller.”

However real or fake the Area 51 call may have been, it’s now a part of Area 51 lore and anyone who has much interest in fringe or conspiracy culture has likely heard of it. It’s definitely influenced some musicians, famous and obscure. One of the more famous bands to sample the Area 51 call is Tool, in the song “Faaip de Oiad” from the album, Lateralus Faaip de Oiad means “the voice of God” in “Enochian” (the supposed angelic language recorded and likely invented by John Dee and Edward Kelley) – Maynard Keenan is a sort of Renaissance man of the weird and I think he runs a winery now, of all things.


“Faaip de Oiad” doesn’t freak me out the way it does many Tool fans. I think that’s because I’ve heard the source material too many times, and had heard it many times before ever hearing this song. But I can see how this would be jarring or alarming to someone who might not know the source of the jangled, frightened man talking in the middle of the song. I link to this particular video because it has the “lyrics” in the upload notes section.

Joe Hill and the Lady of the Dunes

On July 26, 1974, the remains of a woman were found in the Race Point Dunes in Provincetown, Massachusetts.  Her name is still unknown today, despite many efforts to identify her, efforts that included multiple exhumations of her remains.  She was found with her jeans and a green towel folded under her head.  Her hands had been removed, as well as some of her teeth, and she was nearly decapitated.  She had long auburn or red hair, and was probably between 25-40 years of age.  For true crime hounds, hers is a story we’ve all heard but for me her case gets lost among all the missing women found throughout the United States, all the more recent Does and unknown victims clamoring for attention, but for many online sleuths, the case of the Lady of the Dunes is still very compelling.

Though cases colder than the Lady of the Dunes murder have been solved, as time passed it seemed more and more unlikely the Lady of the Dunes would ever be identified and her killed brought to justice.  Serial killer Hadden Clark confessed to her murder but that confession didn’t hold water (and Hadden is a paranoid schizophrenic who has a history of pathological lying).  There has also been speculation that Whitey Bulger  may have been responsible for her murder – details of the damage done to her body corresponds to some of Bulger’s methods of rendering bodies unidentifiable – but it seems very difficult for me to see how it is anyone would ever be able to prove that theory now short of Bulger confessing.

Horror writer Joe Hill (I adored his short story collection 20th Century Ghosts) recently finished reading The Skeleton Crew, a book discussing cold cases, and the Lady of the Dunes is the centerpiece of that book.  Hill also was able to see his favorite film of all time, Jaws, on the big screen when it was re-released into theaters to celebrate the film’s 40th anniversary, and the wheels began turning in his head.  He wondered if the film could in any way help him identify the Lady of the Dunes, and he wrote a fascinating blog entry about his efforts. Have a look – it’s a quick read.

As unlikely as it seems that this could be the first steps to identifying the Lady of the Dunes, there have been recent cases wherein amateur sleuths have solved decades-long missing persons/murder cases by seeing clues that were in front of everyone but were overlooked, the most notable being the possible identification of the young man known as “Grateful Doe.”  Life is sometimes stranger than fiction, no?

Biblio-sentimentality – Marginalia

Before IROB died a not entirely unexpected death, I had started discussing a concept I have labeled “biblio-sentimentality.”  Biblio-sentimentality is the emotional attraction to books that have inscriptions, notes or items inside them that causes me to purchase such books, even when the content of the book may not be meaningful to me.  I divide the items that inspire biblio-sentimentality into three categories: ephemera, or items left in books that have nothing to do with the book itself (which I discussed in this entry); inscriptions, which can be from the author or messages to a gift recipient; and marginalia, which includes notations in margins in books as well as highlighting and underlining.  We often see books with particularly compelling items that tug at our biblio-sentimentality and we have to buy the book. We worry that the book is sad or lonely.  We feel we need to rescue it.

(Mr OTC and I are well-matched in our near-animist capability of seeing emotions in inanimate objects.  We see a well-loved book and think it is miserable because it was parted from its reader.  We finally bought a new car after driving a 17-year-old Honda until the wheels nearly fell off and when we left it at the dealership I was afraid the car, a she-car, would be bereft because we abandoned her for a shinier and more reliable replacement.  We frequently try to appease our home, which has eldritch elements that at times seem threatening but can be tamped down if we keep our complaints to ourselves.)

This entry will show a couple my favorite examples of marginalia in my collection.

liber_kaos 0The first is actually a hybrid of sorts, an excellent example of marginalia and book customization.  This edition of Liber Kaos is Mr OTC’s book and he bought it because it just seemed nuts that someone who took this much time to reinforce a book binding would willingly get rid of it.

The book just seemed too personalized to have been left at the used book store for anything other than a very dire reason. Someone carefully measured out near-equidistant spots for holes, took an awl and carefully punctured the cover and pages, and laced waxed twine through the holes.  I’ve never seen a book customized this way and it points to a reader who, at some point, felt this book to be very important.

I don’t think we have too many examples of customized books but I also have swathes of books that I haven’t examined in a while and sometimes Mr OTC slides books into shelves before I am able to inspect and inventory them.  But in all my time in book accumulation, I haven’t seen this sort of careful alteration.

God speed, Wes Craven

Wes Craven died this evening.  Evidently he had brain cancer.  He was 76, which still seems far too young for him to die.

Everyone knows him from the Nightmare on Elm Street films.   The first in the series was quite good, but eventually Freddy Krueger became too campy, the intensity of the horror lost among cringe-inducing puns.

Less acclaimed but, in my opinion, far superior to the Elm Street series was People Under the Stairs.  That film managed to include just about every hot button that comes up in horror films – sick secluded family, racist abuse, incest, child abuse, among them – and combined them all into a film so creepy that, were it not for the fashions involved, still seems very modern in its approach to real horror.

Mostly I will remember Wes Craven for being the architect of a film that absolutely destroyed me when I first saw it.  In Last House on the Left, an update of Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, Mari and Phyllis are waylaid during their attempts to find drugs before a concert.  Their abductors take them into the woods to torture, rape and eventually murder them.  Their murderers end up needing assistance from Mari’s family and Mari’s parents realize the people in their home killed their child and seek violent revenge.

There is a scene in this film where Mari, after she has been raped and mutilated, walks into a lake to clean herself.  Once she is out into the lake, her captors shoot her to death and she begins to float, her long hair clinging to the surface of the water, spreading out in a corona around her.  Of all the horrible images and acts in this film, that image of Mari in the water is the one that stays with me and there’s no wonder why.  Young women floating dead in water is an image that has been with us for centuries.  Ophelia instantly comes to mind.  So does the Lady of Shallot, though she was in a boat.  Most relevant for me is L’Inconnue de la Seine, a beautiful young woman found dead in the Seine in the late 1880s.  Her death mask became a collector’s piece and her image now graces all Resusci Annie mannequins used to train people to perform CPR.  She was considered an example of perfect female beauty.  Her story was told over and over in literature and art and I’ve linked her with Mari in my mind, two lost young girls, killed vilely but washed clean.

Though dubbed an exploitation film, Last House on the Left appalled 1972 moviegoers with its audacious and all-too-real violence, but the movie was far more than just a vehicle for splatter and gore.  It tugged at the primal needs of mankind to protect the young and vulnerable among us, and reminded us how quickly the suburban family can become atavistic killers when their own are threatened or harmed.  It taps into the very fairy tales that make up our earliest introductions to literature, telling us of little children lured into the woods and those foolhardy enough to walk into danger on their own.  In so many ways the film harked back to the gruesome violence of the early, unsanitized Grimm tales that we’d forgotten after so many Disney reinterpretations, tropes that we glossed over because we felt we were far too civilized to share with our children the real danger of following breadcrumbs, or, in Mari and Phyllis’s case, knocking on the witch’s door.

Wes Craven was a genius who understood the primal violence that threatens us and how easily we shed our modernity and squeamishness when we need to protect those we love or seek vengeance against those who harm us.

Wes was also a man who understood so well the tropes of the genre he helped create that he seamlessly subverted them in the Scream series, an almost intolerably self-aware and clever look at how we again all learned the danger of going into the woods – horror movies showed us the danger – but we end up in the woods nonetheless.  Knowing rules saved few from the knife.

There is so much more that can be said about Wes Craven but I am going to leave it alone now, and perhaps watch The Serpent and the Rainbow again this week.  God speed, Mr Craven.

“Praise Abort,” Christopher Walken and Bodil Joensen

This entire entry is NSFW.  And in some regards, NSFL, but if you’re reading here you’re probably made of stern stuff.  But be warned – most of this entry could get you fired if your IT team at work is on the ball.

Peter Tägtgren (of Hypocrisy and Pain fame) teamed up with Til Lindemann from Rammstein in a project called Lindemann and the first single, at first listen, was a paean to sexual frustration and complete misanthropy. I’m always up for that which is sexually uncomfortable and I sort of loathe most of humanity, so “Praise Abort” was up my alley. It was also deeply funny and we need more humor in music, I think. God knows “Praise Abort” would be a complete mental massacre without some humor.

I’ve not followed Peter Tägtgren’s career that closely. When I was but a wee lass, I listened to Hypocrisy from time to time.  I checked out Pain on YouTube and the first video that came up was for a song called “Shut Your Mouth.”  Tägtgren is obviously not a dude adverse to humor in his music, and the video for “Shut Your Mouth” verges into silliness.  But whether or not you like humor in your metal, how can you not like a song with a chorus like “Just wipe your own ass and shut your mouth!”

And because I am a hopelessly shallow woman, I can say that now that I know that Peter Tägtgren is no longer a metallic ringer for Johnny Depp

peterjohnny

and is transforming into Christopher Walken, I find him far more interesting and can see myself checking out more Pain once this discussion is completed.

peterchristopher

Welcome to Odd Things Considered!

Welcome to my new site!

This change was a long time coming.  Over the years I’ve maintained a “conspiracy theory” blog, a regular book blog, a LiveJournal with tons of pictures of my strange travels and trips to creepy places, and my odd books blog, the latter being how most people came to know me.  I now have most of that old content here on this site.  What ultimately spurred the change-over is that the database on I Read Odd Books became corrupted.  Mr OTC (formerly Mr Oddbooks) could have fixed it, in the fullness of time, but it would have taken a while.  Combining all the sites with a new back end seemed a far better option than continuing to finesse a site that was, in my expert, technical opinion, electronically haunted.

The best part is that I will be able to write here far more than I did in the past.  Having content scattered hither and yon was in a way very tiresome.  Now I have one place to write about odd books, strange cinema, bizarre music, and strange travels, and that will result in a site that is updated far more regularly.

The other sites will redirect here indefinitely, but will eventually come offline.  All the old IROB links will eventually automatically redirect here, too.  Bear with us as we iron out any wrinkles and if you see any issues, please let me know.  Some of the Conspiracy Theory entries are borked as the images didn’t make it over with them but that will be fixed soon.

Right now we are working with the bare basics but we will be tarting up the site as the spirit moves us.  I’ll be adding new content as we fix up the site.  This week I’m itching to discuss the new Lindemann video and have an excellent book to kick off Odd Things Considered – Shane Hinton’s Pinkies.

So welcome to Odd Things Considered!  Stick around – I think we’ll have more to talk about in this new e-neck of the woods.

Sharing the Love

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

I’ve had some serious insomnia lately, which means I’ve been up during the middle of the night, reading lunatic shit, mostly on Reddit. I’ve come across a couple of strange topics I wanted to share with you guys.

The first involves another lost German child. Not long ago I talked about the case of Tristan Bruebach, a German teenager killed brutally in a tunnel in Frankfurt in 1998. I had never heard of that particular MO before and the crime itself was utterly shocking. This time the child in question was literally lost. Dirk Schiller disappeared on a vacation with his family in the former East Germany in 1979. As in the family was walking to their car in a snow covered lot and the little boy disappeared without a trace.

His mother never gave up looking for him and there is a level of conspiracy attached to this case that gives even a skeptic like me pause. This site does a great job covering the case, explaining the Stasi connection, and a possible link to medical experimentation. This is a seriously twitchy case, and it’s made all the more twitchy given the release of the family’s Stasi files. I lost hours reading about this case.

The other strange tidbit I want to share is also from Reddit, and is amusing, bordering on hilarious, once you read enough to realize that your initial conclusion was incorrect and that the person in question is not into waterfowl bestiality. Readers, I give you /u/fuckswithducks. His comment history is a gold mine and I lost even more hours reading his deep love of rubber duckies, his encyclopedic knowledge of them as well as how he uses them in his sex life.

I shit you not, I read comment after comment to Mr Oddbooks until he pleaded with me to shut up. Here are some examples, all links as they were in the original comments.

Duck size is important:

Let’s talk about duck size. I’m really not interested in small ducks. On the other hand, big ducks are nice, but they’re just impractical. What the hell am I supposed to do with them?! My ideal duck size is 3-6 inches tall. Also, I don’t really like fat ducks. I’m just looking for nice, standard, medium-sized ducks like these.

It is possible to have a favorite rubber duck, and to know so much about that duck that people may think you are making shit up until they Google and realize you, in fact, know your shit, duck-wise:

I’m still searching for the manufacturer of my favorite rubber duck. Every few years the ducks show up in stores again (the last time I saw one was around 2008), but I’ve never been able to learn their origin. Here’s a bit of a back story about this duck (some info I’ve posted before, some is new):

In 1977, a toy company called Knickerbocker created a new toy called Ernie’s Rubber Duckie. Designed by famous toy inventor Henry Orenstein (patent USD260915), this toy would lay the foundation for one of the most iconic rubber ducks in history. In 1983, Knickerbocker was sold to Hasbro; which produced more of the ducks around 1985 through Playskool. Around that time, a Taiwanese factory got a hold of this toy and started creating generic knockoffs of it. By 1992, Playskool discontinued production of their rubber duck, but the Taiwanese factory continued on. Every few years, this anonymous factory produced replicas which would appear in toy stores across the United States.

Remember this stock photo? It appeared in everything from Photoshop tutorials to the default Windows user account profile picture. Some were even used in an experiment to test the pollution caused by different kinds of jet ski engines. Those particular ducks are now mounted on the desk of politician Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif. The last time I ever saw them was in a World Market around 2008 (video evidence from 2005).

If you have one of these, feel free to check the bottom and I guarantee you’ll find the “Made in Taiwan”. They seem to all come from one source, yet I have never been able to track them down. My dream is to some day discover where they’re made and start my own store for them.

Edit: I want to thank all the people who have tried looking for me! Unfortunately, the search goes on. Several people have found very similar ducks, the closest probably being the Bath and Body Works ducks or this knockoff of the knockoff which is from China and is significantly lower quality.

Duck porn is a thing not limited to /u/fuckswithducks:

Thanks for doing an AMA! I have a more general question about Brazzers. In Wet Dreams! with Dani Jensen (2012), I noticed that you included a rubber duck in the shoot. In Splash Time with Jenna Ross (2013), you used 3 of the same duck. Does Brazzers have its own permanent prop collection? If so, can we get a tour and see some of the interesting things you’ve collected to use in videos over the years? I’m curious because you reuse the same rubber duck and I have seen other studios reuse other rubber ducks as well (for example, Bangbros reused this one 12)

But just because some porn companies recognize the erotic use of rubber ducks does not mean they make it easy for the average duck perv:

The generic video titles (e.g. “[Pornstar] rides huge dick”, “young bedroom solo”) and descriptions which are clearly copy/paste jobs. They make it really difficult to find porn when you’re searching for specific things. Really the only way to find porn with rubber ducks is to search for “bath” and then scroll through all the thumbnails for one. Plenty of porn videos set entirely in the bathroom won’t even mention it in the title/description, though. It’s simple SEO, people!

A fetish collection of rubber duckies can have a practical use as well, like for when your girlfriend takes up too much space in bed:

Came here to say this. There are plenty of passive-aggressive ways to win your space back. Personally, I like to stack rubber ducks on my girlfriend until she moves.

And sexual appreciation doesn’t always have to be about the ducks:

Sexual preferences aside, I think everyone can appreciate a nice set of boobs.

Part of me thinks this is a dedicated dada-esque account.  But most of me hopes this is real.  I really love /u/fuckswithducks and need him to abide on Reddit as long as he can.  I should probably send him some gold to show my appreciation.

You read anything recently that is weird or strange or unsettling?  Tell me about it!

Biblio-sentimentality

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Mr Oddbooks and I had a moment at a recent book sale wherein we both agreed we needed to buy a specific book because of a letter he had found inside of it.  It was a coffee table book about sailing vessels (Mr Oddbooks is ex-Navy and longs for the coast like I long for the desert and here we both are in Austin) and was not particularly unique – he already had many books similar to this one.  But the letter inside pulled us to buy it.  The letter seemed as important as the book, if not more important, and as long as this book remains in our collection, that letter will remain inside the book, just as we found it.

I realized how often we both do this – purchase a book because something left in the book calls to us.  I’ve come to think of this tendency as “biblio-sentimentality.”  I have no idea how many books we have currently that we acquired due to our combined biblio-sentimentality, but I think I am going to record some of them here.  I have to think others are like this, buying books because they feel an emotional connection to them due to marks and items left in the book.  Perhaps others will enjoy seeing these books.  Perhaps this is just more of my extremely indulgent blogging style.  If so, no harm, but I can say that I would love to see any books you fine readers may have that you purchased due to biblio-sentimentality.  Feel free to include pictures in comments!

I divide biblio-sentimentality into three categories: inscriptions, marginalia, and ephemera.  Inscriptions, of course, are messages to a gift recipient or from the author, written generally on a title page, but could be included somewhere else in the book.  Marginalia refers to notes about the text written in the blank margins of books, but it can also include highlighting or underscoring text.  Ephemera refers to items found in the book that were not meant to be permanently left in the book, like letters, cards, bookmarks and similar.

In this entry I’m going to share some of our examples of biblio-sentimental ephemera, since this discussion was inspired by the sailing vessel book with the letter in it, and it seems fitting that I should begin with that book.

sailing 0Mr Oddbooks found this at a huge Half-Price Books warehouse sale. He really does have dozens of similar books but when the letter fell out of this book, he immediately read it and then put the book in our cart.
sailing 1A woman fighting for sobriety left this letter to herself in a coffee table book about sailing ships. Though it is unlikely anyone would be able to identify her through this letter, I redacted her name anyway. This was a rescue ephemera – this letter seems very important to me, a woman with my own addiction demons. It was unusual that this woman placed this letter in such a book – was she using the book as a make-shift lap desk? Did she think this large book was the best place to keep such a letter since huge books about sailing vessels aren’t usually the types of books most read in the average home?

It worries me that she forgot about the letter in this book, or that there is a worse reason that this letter was left behind in a book, like she lost her possessions in an eviction. Or maybe she worked the steps and is clean and has no need to remember this letter. Regardless, it seemed callous to both of us to leave this book with this letter behind. It needed to be saved and kept.  It seems very important to me even if I don’t know exactly why, outside of the shared experience of addiction.

God speed, Ruth Rendell

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Ruth Rendell died on May 2. She suffered a stroke back on January 7, and though she lasted for a while, she was unable to recover. That wasn’t entirely unexpected – she was 85-years-old.

I am an aspiring Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine complete-ist and hope to own first editions in all of her books. I only have a few at the moment but hopefully I have a few more decades to finish up.

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I had started a Ruth Rendell discussion for this site. She was not only one of the best mystery writers ever to grace the genre, but she understood mental illness in a way no other writer has mastered nearly as well. I am writing about some of the mentally-ill characters Rendell created, among them the woman with contamination OCD in Adam and Eve and Pinch Me, the main character with borderline personality disorder in The Bridesmaid, and a host of afflicted characters in her short stories. The illnesses play an important role in her intricate but quite believable plots and it almost seems at times like Rendell wrote about mental illness in a way that could poke at my own mental ticks.  The protagonist in “You Can’t Be Too Careful” suffered from some sort of personality disorder and was obsessed with safety, orderliness, cleanliness and self-assumed duty.  She was constantly ruminating over locks, doors on latches, dusting books, cot beds.  When I was a kid, I had a pretty serious case of echolalia that I more or less grew out of but always lurks.  This short story set it off.  It was the repetition of “k” and “t”, I think.  I find myself saying, under my breath, book lock cot latch book lock…

I wonder if anyone else has this experience when they read this story?

At any rate, I will at some point finish and post the article.  Ruth Rendell really was one of the finest writers of her generation and genre and I feel somewhat stricken to know she is gone forever and that there will be no more books.  God speed, Baroness Rendell.