Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Do Do That Voodoo

As if there was any doubt, this is a sign that superstition still, in our technobabbly age, holds more sway over Humanity than Humanity cares to admit. It's the latest addition to my product line, a double-or-triple-purpose tarot reading mat / table-altar mat / talking board mat that I made simply because I wanted one for myself: something stylish that looks old and looks like it's engraved wood although it is neither.

When I posted it on Facebook,  the reactions that I got were amusing and surprising to say the least. Here's a thought: dire warnings of the evil-ness of Talking Boards as objects would be more effective if they were made with proper grammar and punctuation. But even a person that I know in real life and respect as being an otherwise sensible woman expressed dismay over this design. Why? As another friend, SF author Sharon Lee, pointed out, talking boards and talking board mats are just objects -- and objects are neither intrinsically good or evil. It's what people use them for that decides their merit. This particular one is designed to have many uses -- it can even be used as a door mat! 

It's not the last one I'm going to design, either. I like Talking Boards as Design Objects. I've never used one myself with any degree of "success"-- I don't believe and I don't disbelieve, I just think that a lot of them are great art that looks great on your wall. 

A modern "scientific" study suggests that people move the planchette unconsciously -- although how they can do this blindfolded seems to be another question. 

But how about this -- has anyone ever tried an old-fashioned Talking Board with Autistic children? Tecno-types have devised fancy computer programs to use with children who have problems communicating -- these are essentially high-tech talking boards that cost bazillions of dollars to develop and use. Old-fashioned Talking boards are at least as visually interesting as a computer program, a heckova lot cheaper, and their whole design and purpose in life is to aid communication.

What's so scary about that?

You can find mine in the "Tarot Accessories" section of The Duck Soup Emporium.

-- Frede.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Best-Kept Secrets in Comic-dom

Hot on the heels of the new PDF eBook edition of Persephone's Torch (see it over there --> in the sidebar?), here come the even groovier PDF eBook editions of my graphic novels Quirk and Tinsel*Town: four volumes in all, each with 58 - 61 pages of full color comics at a price that you can't afford to ignore: just $1.99 each! -- You'd pay more for a pound of butter or a loaf of bread! In fact, these PDF eBooks are such a bargain that you should really be pressing the "Add to Bag" button right now.

Just click on the covers above, and you will be taken to each series' mini-site, where you can learn all about them, read some online comics and choose between paperback or eBook editions. You can order right from the sidebar on the mini-sites -- or else click on "The Emporium" right here to see the whole line of everything that I've currently got out there for your (hopeful) edification and amusement.

These comics are near and dear to my heart. Check them out -- and thank you!

-- Frede.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Hidden Power

When we say that we’re disappointed or disgusted with The World, as I frequently do of late, what are we really saying? It’s not “The World” that has disappointed us, is it? “The World” didn’t really have anything to do with it. I’m certain that if “The World” has an overall consciousness (which I have to admit is a possibility), then “The World” would like nothing better than to be free of the human infestation that’s been doing its best to kill it.

So that’s it — the thing that has so disappointed us is Humanity itself, which at least as a species, taken as a whole, never seems to learn, but continues to let itself down in constant and remarkable ways.

Throughout the Twentieth Century a desire existed, at least on the fringe, to solve all of Humanity’s problems — but we didn’t have the technology or resources to do it. Now in the Twenty-First century we have entered a period where we absolutely have the resources, the technology, the ability to solve all of Humanity’s problems… it’s there, it’s absolutely there.

But instead of plugging in the Hoover and getting down to it, our governments are content to let the global living room go all to hell. 

We can’t deny the evidence anymore that there is a powerful global Ruling Class that does not want Humanity’s problems solved, because those problems are just So Very Profitable. 

This Ruling Class has been waging out-and-out war against the rest of us for at least the last 45 years — and since 1980, when the puppet government of Ronald Reagan basically handed over the reins to them (William Buckley once joked that the position he wanted on Reagan’s staff was “Ventriloquist”), they have absolutely had the upper hand. 

Even some of the people who would agree with me up to this point, who understand fully well that the Ruling Class has been using every economic trick in the book to keep the rest of us under heel, may balk at what I’m about to say next. But the ongoing war by the one percent against the ninety-nine has not only been an Economic one. Its tactics include mental warfare, emotional warfare, and yes, Psychic warfare. 

Thoughts are powerful, because in a very real sense thoughts create the world. This simple fact means that every one of us, every single one, is in possession of astonishing powers. Every single one of us is a Superhero, with the potential to create or destroy.

The last thing that the Ruling Class wants is for Humanity to wake up and realize how very powerful it is; and so their chief tactic has been in devising ways to get people, as many people as possible, to relinquish the power that they possess, to make as many people as they possibly can feel as hopeless and as helpless as they possibly can — so that their energy, their thoughts, their will, their whole lives, can be turned and used as a tool in the war against their own best interests. 

This is what organized Religion is for. With its doctrine that Evil is an External Force — something that influences humans rather than something that emerges through our own behaviour — Religion has sapped us of our own Responsibility. “It wasn’t me — it was The Devil made me do it!” 

This is what Political Parties are for. Even Good Causes and Humanism are useful tools to keep people divided and focused away from the real issues, the real problems.

This is, quite literally, Magic. 

Ask any stage magician. The single most important tool in the Magician’s toolbox is this: misdirection. The great stage magician Keller was so good at it that he once asserted an elephant could march across the stage while he was performing, and the audience would not see it if he didn’t want them to.

Ladies and Gentlemen — the bloody elephant has been marching back and forth across the stage for some time now. 

I’m not saying anything new here. I’m just saying things that need to be said over and over and over again, by as many people as possible, until we finally start to Get It, until Humanity begins to wake up to its own potential, to realize the very palpable power that every individual possesses. 

Until that happens, the species will continue to be a disappointment, a virus on the face of the Earth, its own Destroyer.

— Frede. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Keep Carrying a TORCH

People do love their Kindle-format eBooks, and its kissing cousin, the ePub format that runs native on all tablets. But all claims to the contrary aside, these eBook “formats of choice” only excel in the presentation of Plain Vanilla Text… and if you’re a truly a Book Person, you know that there’s a lot more to a book than plain vanilla text.

As a designer / writer, I want my books to look as good as they read. I create books (and I’m far from being the only one) that are as visual as they are literate… and I’m frustrated by the visual boredom of Kindle and ePub formats.

There is only one file format that allows me to create eBooks that accurately reflect the contents of the printed paper book — and that’s PDF. I’ve been a big supporter of PDF books right from the start, and have been publishing them for over a decade: because it allows for so much more than the plain vanilla text eBook formats, and because when I place a design element it stays where I put it, whether it ends up in print or in an eBook reader.

Amazon and Apple don’t like the format because they don’t own it and can’t control it — but despite efforts to improve their proprietary formats, they have yet to come up with anything that rivals PDF.

Meanwhile. PDF books quietly work and look better than ever in Apple’s iBooks and on high-resolution tablets. I have tons of them in iBooks on my tablet, and they work and look great.

I haven’t liked the ePub versions of my books all that much, and I like the Kindle versions even less. People who read my books in these formats are not getting the full contents or the complete experience of the printed paper book, period.

Still, Amazon and Apple won’t sell PDF files, and for my part I haven’t been able to wangle a way for customers to have immediate download access to their books from a shopping-cart system — until now. Now I can do that. And that’s why my novel Persephone’s Torch is now available in a PDF version that accurately reflects all the contents of the printed book!

I wrote Torch a while back, and it frankly hasn’t found the audience that I think it deserves. Fortunately, I’m not alone in believing it deserves a wider audience and that it’s, in the words of writer/editor Leif Peterson, “more than a little bit better than good.” Check the reviews at Amazon, or better yet the review page at my mini-site devoted to the book: . While you’re there, you can read a free chapter. Then, when you’re ready, all you have to do is look over there —> in the right sidebar. See where it says “Add to Bag”? Click on that sucker and in nothing flat you’ll be downloading the PDF version of Persephone’s Torch. This is the same file that was used to make the printed paperback edition; to paraphrase J.R.R. Tolkien, it is “my own, and only, authorized [electronic] edition of the book.”

You’d pay more for a hamburger, for crying out loud. Give a struggling artist a break, and at the same time see for yourself how much better PDF-format books are than ePub and native Kindle. 

And thanks for reading this.

— DT 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Another Body Blow.

Patches was at least sixteen years old and probably closer to eighteen. That’s not just a long life for a cat: it’s a serious chunk of time out a human life. 

Patches is gone now. She traveled with me in three completely separate and distinct Worlds, none of which would have been the same without her.

She was the Queen of the Universe, and she knew it. She was the only pussyquat I know of who had her own anthem. I sang it to her for the last time on Monday.

Back in the day, out at the Old House, we had as many twenty cats in the house, and thirty or more living outdoors. So — I’ve had cats all my life, and I loved them all to one degree or another, but Patches was the first cat I ever really feel in love with.

She was part of the most beautiful litter of kittens that you ever saw. Four puff balls of gorgeousness. Her brothers and sisters were nominally more gorgeous than she was, but Patches had all the personality. She was born outdoors to a mother who was a completely feral cat, and who took her litter off on Hunting Lessons well before they were really old enough to think about that crap. One afternoon, everyone came back from a hunting trip in the back field — except Patches. We looked for her, we called her and called her. When, at least an hour behind, she came struggling gamely back through the tall grass… that was when we said, “Never again — you’re coming into the house.”

Her markings made a perfect solid lightning-bolt zig-zag down the sides of her body. She had the softest fur of any pussycat I’ve ever known. While she was young, I hugged on her all the time and told her how beautiful she was… and she agreed. Then when she hit the pussyquat equivalent of her teens, all of a sudden I was an embarrassment to her and she didn’t want any more affection. She even hissed at me! “Get away from me! You’re embarrassing me, dad!”

For maybe five years or more she and I weren’t all that close. Once in a while she might creep into my lap for a bit, which came as a shock — but mostly she was aloof, living up to her title, and I guess I resented it because after all, what did I ever do to her but love her? Plus, I had other things on my mind. Mom’s health started to fail. Over a period of about three or four years, Mom had two bypass operations in her legs. After long recoveries she would still be able to get around, with difficulty, but things were starting to go south. 

It was just after Mom’s right leg was amputated that something strange happened with Patches. I’d go into my Mom’s bedroom at night just to make sure that she had made it into the bed all right — always a worry in those days — and Mom would say. “Look who’s here.”

And there was Patches, sitting in a corner of the bed, looking up at me with big alert eyes as if to say, “Don’t worry, I’ve got this covered.”

She started going to bed with Mom every night. She had never done this before. She knew Mom was sick, and she was keeping an eye on her. After a while, she didn’t just stay in her corner of the bed, but went up and snuggled up against Mom real close, even crawling under the blankets with her. Mom was just as surprised by this as me.

For five years, Patches watched over Mom every night. When Mom died, Patches didn’t know what to do with herself. She stayed in Mom’s bedroom for a while; then she never, to my knowledge, went back in.

By then, my Little Honey — the only other cat I’ve ever loved so much that it hurts — had come in and taken up residence with me upstairs in the far end of the house. The Upstairs was Honey’s domain and she protected it fiercely. At night, Patches used to come to the bottom of the stairs and stare up at me longingly, looking terribly lonesome. But she didn’t dare come up. She knew Honey would just kick her out.

When we moved into the All-New, All-Different Duckhaus — Patches, Honey, Whitey, Pandy Bear, Pooky and me, suddenly it was all new turf and no one had any special claim on any territory, all bets were off. Patches came up to sleep with me every night and so began the pussyquat Power Struggle between her and Honey that continued right up until this week. And I must say, by force of will, Patches won out more often than not. I wanted both of them to coexist, but this really only happened after Patches had fallen asleep or when she was in a rare tolerant mood. 

Especially in the last couple of years, Patches made it her job to keep track of me. She would be watching from the living room when I went up to bed. She’d come zooming up behind me, fly onto the bed and then sit there looking at me as if to say, “Here I am! Pet me! Tell me how beautiful I am like you always did when I was a little girl!” 

Every single night, as soon as I got into the bed — without fail, Every. Single. Night. — Patches would jump onto my chest and shove her face into my face. Literally, she would stand on my chest demanding attention. I’d say, “Oh yes, we have to do this every night, don’t we?” She had to hug me and I had to pet her and kiss her and tell her how pretty she was. Sometimes she would settle down half on my chest and half on my shoulder while I ATTEMPTED to read something (it’s hard to read with a cat practically sitting on your head). 

When I turned out the light, she’d paw at the covers until I lifted them up, so that she could crawl in and curl up right against my face. She’d stay there just until I fell asleep. Then with me snoring away, she would settle down in the left corner at the head of the bed, where she could look out of her favorite window, with its commanding, Queen-like view of the neighborhood and the street below. 

She’d done her job of caring for me, and all was well in her Universe.

And now she’s gone. 

Good-night my little Queen of the Universe, my beautiful and loving Patchyquat. 

She took care of me when the world was falling apart. I know that I will never forget her, nor ever stop missing her. Another piece of my heart has been carved away. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

And just like that, the summer's over.

Two days ago, another monsoon blew through central Maine; in its wake the temperatures dropped by about ten degrees, and the humidity dropped by an astonishing 40 percent.

That part of it is a joy: for the better part of three months, the humidity has been hanging in the upper 80 percent, low 90 percent range, essentially turning Maine into a bayou for the whole summer. I've lived in the state for about 50 years now, and never experienced a summer like this, where the house had to be kept shuttered even at night and the dehumidifier became the most important appliance in the place.

It was the kind of summer to make one feel almost glad that the summers are getting shorter, as they seem to be. (Why is that? As you get older, 'tis true that the years fly by faster and faster, bur why is it that winter never seems to get any shorter?)

The monsoon was just one of about four that swept through here this year. That's different, too. We used to get rain. It could last a day and drizzle steadily but not violently. Now we get nothing but thunderstorms and downpours of the most intense kind, with the rain gushing down and creating a river, a waterfall off of my roof. It's fun to watch, and here in town the power almost never goes out, so I don't have that worry anymore; but it's different, very different, from the summers I remember growing up at the old house

This last Big Storm didn't just take the humidity: it took the summer. Suddenly it is cool and dry; just as suddenly, the whole character of the light has changed. At nine AM it arcs through my bedroom window at almost the same angle as at late afternoon. The day is notably shorter. I see leaves on my crazy-branch backyard tree already turning yellow. Here in the middle part of the afternoon the shadows are already long and the crickets already chirping.

The growth has stopped. The atmosphere is that of Quiet Waiting.

This is perhaps my favorite time of year. It came overnight. I suppose it will pass just as quickly.

-- Frede.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Punch Gets A Book

The companion volume to Mr. Punch's Tarot is here!

and soon at Amazon, B&N, and wherever fine books are sold.

Mister Punch and the Tarot go back a long way together. Both originated in Italy, and both explore life's Great Mysteries. Indeed, Mister Punch is perfectly suited to the Tarot! Now the creator of the celebrated Tarot of the Zirkus M├Ągi has produced a Tarot that feels as if it should have existed over a hundred years ago, featuring Mister Punch and his full cast of adversaries.

Along with card meanings for the Major and Minor Arcana and unique spreads designed just for the deck, this companion volume also features a fully illustrated treasure-trove of Punch & Judy history (including a version of the original play), plus insightful connections between the worlds of Punch and the Tarot and even a short story by the deck's designer..

Also available as a PDF eBook!

This PDF format edition has all the content of the paperback -- every picture, every Punch, every Dumb Assertion. In fact it was made from the same InDesign files as the paperback -- only the front and back covers have been downsized. The PDF file can be read on your computer or mobile device. Works great in iBooks. 

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