The stars look very different today

"The stars look very different today." I've written, on several occasions, though most revealingly here, about glam's desperate importance to those of us marooned in the beige, tract-home nightmare of '70s suburbia.

Read the rest

A Series of Unfortunate Questions for Daniel Handler

The legendary Lemony Snicket is headed to the high seas for a new adventure under his other name. But where's he coming from?

The Ecstasist: A Conversation with the Novelist Jonathan Lethem

Defender, to the death, of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World saga. Architect of Philip K. Dick’s induction into the Library of America. College drop-out. MacArthur Genius. Comic-book guy. Jonathan Lethem is a man of obscure obsessions and unabashed passions.

Eat the Rude: Hannibal Lecter meets the 99%

The good doctor's tastes illustrate our insecurities about class. Here's what’s really on the menu in Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal

Let's put the guilt back in guilty pleasures

Guilty pleasures aren't always merely self-loathing elitism or ironic tastelessness. They can also be a sign of genuine ambivalence—a feeling to cherish.

Self-Dissection: a conversation with satirical English author Will Self

Will Self suffers from “everythingitis.” Why aren’t we surprised?

Death, Science, Sexology: Joanna Ebenstein of the Morbid Anatomy Museum

Mark Dery shines a light into the literary unconscious of Joanna Ebenstein, director of the Morbid Anatomy Museum.

Solitary Vices: Mikita Brottman on the Books in Her Life

Mark Dery talks with the critic and psychoanalyst about the terrors of reading.

William S. Burroughs and the Dead-End Horror of the Centipede God

Mark Dery takes a deep, dark look at the world of Chilopodophobia, compliments of William Burroughs.

The Rat King: On the Fascinations (and Revulsions) of Rattus

In what he calls "an Experiment in Controlled Digression," Mark Dery touches on xenogastronomy, ortolan, Edible Dormouse, Victor Hugo's fondness for rat pâté, rat-baiting as a betting sport in Victorian times, the rat as New York's unofficial mascot, Luis Buñuel's pet rat, scientific research into such pressing questions as whether rats laugh, and whether rats will inherit the Earth as a result of climate change, Dracula's dominion over rats, and of course the (cryptozoological myth? well-documented phenomenon?) of the Rat King.

The revenge of the lawn

Author Mark Dery charts America's ecocidal obsession with nice grass

Original Ballantine book cover concept art for J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings on eBay

Tolkien, perhaps rightly in marketing terms, though with the insistent literalism that makes writers writers (which is to say: not artists), demanded, of Barbara Remington's cover art for Lord of the Rings, "What has it got to do with the story? Where is this place? Why a Lion and emus? And what is the thing in the foreground with the pink bulbs?" Read the rest

Nerval's Lobster: Is walking a crustacean any more ridiculous than a dog?

Before Rimbaud, before the Surrealists, there was Nerval (1808 - 1855), living his life as if it were a lucid dream. Of course, it didn't hurt that his mental skies flickered with the chain lightning of madness—bouts of insanity that condemned him to periodic stays in asylums and, ultimately, self-murder.

The Kraken Awakes: What Architeuthis is Trying to Tell Us

Captured live on video in its deep-sea element, for the first time, the Kraken of tall tales and sea shanties—Architeuthis, the giant squid—is coming into sharp focus, a flesh-and-blood reality. But why now?

A Season in Hell

 Features Hell 1

"From the "Obscure Pleasures of Medical Libraries" to the "Aphrodites of the Operating Theater," cultural critic Mark Dery is never one to turn a blind eye at our own gross anatomy. In 2006 though, Mark couldn't look away even if he wanted to. That year, the author of the new essay collection I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts, spent his summer vacation at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center suffering through the poisonous cure of chemotherapy before punctuating his year with hours under the surgeon's scalpel. Boing Boing is honored to publish for the first time Mark's intense, moving, and deeply personal account of his Season In Hell." — David Pescovitz

On the wall at the foot of my bed, a poster displays the Faces Pain Scale, a series of earless, genderless every men arranged, from right to left, in increasing degrees of agony.

“The faces show how much pain or discomfort someone is feeling,” the caption explains. “The face on the left shows no pain. Each face shows more and more pain and the last face shows the worst pain possible. Point to the face that shows how bad your pain is right NOW.” The blurb adds, helpfully, that your face need not resemble the cartoon visages in the Pain Scale.

It’s August 2011. I’m lying in a room at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, waiting to undergo surgery for a small-bowel obstruction, an intestinal blockage resulting from postoperative adhesions caused by my 2008 surgery for my first small-bowel obstruction, itself the result of my 2006 surgery for a rare and virulent cancer. Abdominal surgery begets scar tissue. Which gives rise to adhesions. Which sometimes cause bowel obstructions. Which may necessitate surgery. Which begets more scar tissue, which…

Read Mark Dery's "Season In Hell"

Ghost Babies

The traffic in dead babies is booming: daguerreotypes of dead babies, ambrotypes of dead babies, tintypes of dead babies, cartes de visite of dead babies, cabinet cards of dead babies; dead babies from the Victorian era. When Karl Marx wrote of capitalism's "naked self-interest," he never imagined the eBay listing whose description assures, "You are bidding on a cabinet card measuring 8 X 6 inches of a sweet baby in repose after death."

Facebook of the Dead

Read Facebook of the Dead, a Boing Boing special feature by Mark Dery. Read the rest

More posts