Katherine Dunn, author of "Geek Love," RIP

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Katherine Dunn, the author of the incredible macabre comedic novel Geek Love, about the strange shenanigans in a circus sideshow, has died at age 70 from lung cancer. From a Los Angeles Times profile of Dunn at the time of the book's release in 1989:

As Dunn's tale goes, Aloysius Binewski, proprietor of a traveling circus called Binewski's Fabulon, gets the notion to breed mutant children who will perform as sideshow freaks. His theory is that, along with boosting business, he will be bestowing upon his children "the inherent ability to earn a living just by being themselves..."

Dunn said she got the idea for "Geek Love" in 1979 while she was walking in the experimental rose gardens in Portland. Admiring the hybrid roses, she conceived Papa Al and his hybrid children.

She was thinking about her son at the time and the whole issue of "the things we do to our children--most of the evil in the world is not done with bad intentions but with the best intentions ever," she said.

Dunn said "Geek Love" also reflects her concerns with "the volcanic and terrifying possibilities of genetic mutation and the whole issue of the cult." (In the book, flipper-boy Arty starts a cult in which converts have their arms and legs amputated so they can become more like their leader.)

At first, Dunn was shocked by her own terrifying characters. Now and then she'd read a passage to her son, who invariably shook his head and responded: "Weird."

"Katherine Dunn has died; the 'Geek Love' author once took the world by storm"

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Hypnotic synchronized juggling routine

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A round of synchronized applause for Vlad Gapanovich, Maxim Golovchenko, and Evgeniy Pahalovich! I haven't seen a multi-person juggling routine this captivating since The Flying Karamazov Brothers. The video, titled, um, "Drugs," was directed by Taras Pozdnyakov, founder of [Raw Art], a "post-circus" of graduates from the Kiev Circus Academy.

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Man on early morning walk killed by elephant

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A 65-year-old man in Buchen, Germany was collecting bottles and cans on an early morning walk when he was attacked and killed by a circus elephant who had somehow escaped her enclosure. Now the question is, was her enclosure not secured properly, or did someone intentionally let her out? An investigation is underway. The African Elephant, named Baby, was safely returned to her tent. Read the rest

Tintype stop motion animation of a circus

Fine art photographer Antonio Martinez combined more than 800 dryplate tintype photographs of a circus into this mesmerizing stop motion animation "Near the Egress." Absolutely stunning work. (Thanks, Randall de Rijk!) Read the rest

Circusleaks: documents show cruelty to elephants at Ringling Bros.

Mother Jones has published the results of its yearlong investigation that rips the big top off how Ringling Bros. circus treats its elephants. "The Cruelest Show on Earth." Read the rest