Showing posts with label welcome to weirdsville. Show all posts
Showing posts with label welcome to weirdsville. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Reminder: Love Without Gun Control And Welcome To Weirdsville - A Very Special Sale

Here's an extra-special sale and a great opportunity to read my non-erotic science fiction/fantasy/horror collection, Love Without Gun Control, and my non-fiction (strange history, weird art, etc) book, Welcome To Weirdsville for a great discount!

 Love Without Gun Control
Now Only .99!
"Unique and truly fascinating," writes Mike Resnick! M. Christian isn't as good as his peers say - he's better!  This "best of" collection, featuring the cream of his fantasy, horror, and science fiction stories, is a dazzling achievement.  Only M. Christian could have imagined what happens when a boy's uncle blows Tibetan days powder in his face, or when a woman gave birth to a new species … but not one of flesh and blood, or when the Goddess of the Road gave the gift of beauty to a mortal man. You will find these and eleven other unforgettable tales from the man Stephen Dedma, author of The Art of Arrow Cutting and Shadows Bite, hails as "A chimera, an amazing combination of tour guide and magician. Whether he's writing science fiction, horror or fantasy, he can take you to places you've never imagined, show you sights no-one else will get to see, introduce you to some fascinating people, and guarantee that the trip will be memorable from start to finish." Among the contemporary classics featured in this stellar collection are: Some Assembly Required, The Rich Man's Ghost, Medicine Man, Wanderlust, Buried & Dead, Nothing So Dangerous, Shallow Fathoms, and Constantine in Love. M. Christian's fantasy and science fiction has appeared in Talebones, Space & Time Magazine, Skull Full Of Spurs, Graven Images, Horror Garage, Song of Cthulhu, and other science fantasy publications.

Welcome To Weirdsville 
Now Only $2.99
"A wonderful compendium of interesting subjects and fascinating topics. Will keep you reading just to found out what's going to be covered next. Highly recommended for all lovers of weird & wonderful this side of the Universe." -Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.

Peek under the rugs, open more than a few drawers, peek in the back shelves and you'll find that ... well, Lord Byron himself said it best: "Truth is always strange, stranger than fiction." Lakes that explode, parasites that can literally change your mind, The New Motor, a noble Word War 1 German pirate, the odd nature of ducks, the War Magician, the City of Fire, men and their too big guns, a few misplaced nuclear weapons, an iceberg aircraft carrier, the sad death of Big Mary, the all-consuming hunger of the Bucklands, the giggling genius of Brian G. Hughes, the Kashasha laughter epidemic.... Ponder that in a world that holds things like kudzu, ophiocordyceps unilateralis, The Antikythera Device, The Yellow Kid, Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, Alfred Jarry, Joseph Pujol, and suicide-bombing ants ... who knows what other kinds of wonders as well as horrors may be out there?

Monday, January 06, 2014

SPECIAL DISCOUNTS! Love Without Gun Control And Welcome To Weirdsville!

Great news for the new year: my science fiction/fantasy/horror collection, Love Without Gun Control is now for sale (all over the place) for only .99 - and my very fun weird history and facts book, Welcome To Weirdsville, is only $2.99!

And that's not all!  Lots of my queer erotica and fiction has also been discounted for 2014!  More on this later but check out that BodyWork: Male-Male Erotica is FREE!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hashima Island ... and Skyfall?!

(from M.Christian's Meine Kleine Fabrik)

skyfall island
In Skyfall, the Japanese island of Hashima serves as the secret headquarters of Raoul Silva, the well-coiffed Bond villain played by Javier Bardem. In reality, it serves as a sobering reminder of the pitfalls of industrialization, and the human toll it can exact. Late last month, Messy Nessy Chic published a detailed history of the island, which, at the turn of the 20th century, was a bustling coal-mining town owned by the Mitsubishi Corporation. 
Things took a turn for the sinister at the dawn of World War II, when the Japanese turned the island into a bona fide labor camp for Chinese and Korean prisoners. By 1959, the island boasted the highest population density on Earth (139,100 per square kilometer), and living conditions soon...  
Continue reading… (from The Verge)

Well, now I HAVE to get out there and watch Skyfall ... as I wrote about the glorious ruins of Hashima island for Dark Roasted Blend, and - naturally - the same article is in my book, Welcome to Weirdsville:

Crumbling plaster, broken and splintered lath, cracked cement, fractured concrete, gap-toothed brick walls, rusting iron, daggers of shattered glass … no argument about it: there's something hypnotically alluring, darkly fascinating, about a truly great ruin.

What's now decay and rot once was bright and brilliantly full of hope: Who lived here? What were their lives like? What happened? How did it all come apart? How did it all crumble to almost nothing?

In the case of Hashima Island, or Battleship Island as it's often called, hope and optimism became dust and decay because one black resource was replaced by a cheaper black resource. Populated first in 1887, the island – which is 15 kilometers from Nagasaki – only began to really, and phenomenally, become populated much later, in 1959.

Hashima is, for many ruin fans, the rotting and collapsing grail, the benchmark all other crumbling structures are measured against – and seeing pictures of the place it's easy to see why. Not only is Hashima frighteningly preserved in some places, as if the residents had just stepped out as few minutes before, but it is also, contrarily, spectacularly falling down. Beyond its current awe-inspiring state of decay, the island's dramatic isolation and its bizarre history make it the ruin of ruins.

Before that day when coal, the old black resource, was replaced by oil, another black resource, Hashima was the most densely populated area – ever. On that tiny island, crammed into what are now decaying tenements, were thousands of miners, their families (including children), support staff, administration, and everything necessary to make their lives at least tolerable. It's hard to imagine when looking at the empty doorways, ghostly apartments, and hauntingly vacant corridors what the lives of those people might have been like.

Unlike the post-apocalyptic drama of Hashima, we can very easily imagine what the lives of the residents of the famous Walled City of Kowloon were like – in fact we can ask them, as their city was torn down in 1993. The reason why the Walled City gets so frequently mentioned as a ruin is, while it was there, it was as if the people who lived in it were living their lives in the guts of some great, monstrous, maze.

To say that the city had a long history is an understatement, as its roots go back to the Song Dynasty (960 AD, if you need to know the date). The city was a curiosity for a very long time – a strange bit of legal knotting making it Chinese and not British -- but the labyrinth didn't start to grow appreciably until after the second world war when it became a haven for … well, people without a state: refugees, squatters, thieves, drug-dealers, and much more (and much worse). Neither Great Britain nor China refused to have anything to do with the immense warren of walkways, apartments, workshops, factories, brothels, gambling dens, and opium dens.

The Triad, who represented most of the criminal element, were pretty much forced out in the 70s – by a police attack some 30,000 strong, no less -- but the city remained as a kind of anarchist warren, a world-unto-itself where the residents built and maintained pretty much everything. Looking at pictures of the city today, it looks like some kind of ramshackle prison, a cyberpunk nightmare of florescent lights, spectrally flickering televisions, and mazes of perpetually damp hallways and trash-strewn alleyways. Yet, for many people living there, it was simply home.

Alas, the end of the living ruin that was the Walled City came to an end in the 90s when the residents were evacuated and their fantastic city-within-a-city was torn down. Interestingly, the Walled City has a strong connection to Hashima as, at its height, the Walled City had a population density almost rivaling that Japanese island. Before the bulldozers came, it had a staggering population of 50,000 people, all living in an area the size of a few city blocks.

But if you're talking ruins you have to talk about the ruin FROM THE FUTURE .. or at least a ruin that looks like it came from there.

If you travel to Taiwan, up north to be specific, you will find yourself in a what looks like the fantastic set from some kind of big-budget science fiction epic: the resort of San Zhi. Built in the 1980s, the resort was supposed to be, planned to be, a vacation spot from the next century .. BUT TODAY!

Unfortunately, the dreams of the developers stayed just that and, beyond a few remarkably-well-preserved, sections, San Zhi never materialized. But what they did build, and that's still there in all it's ruinous glory, is amazing: crumbling residential pods on a bleak and blasted landscape, a mini-sprawl of the future falling apart BUT TODAY!

Decaying, rotting, crumbling, collapsing – ruins are the remains of what was, of the lives of the people who lived in them. In the case of Hashima Island, what remains teases us with thoughts of what it must have been like to live in the most densely populated area in the world, ever; with the Walled City of Kowloon, we instead dream of what it must have been like to a resident of a labyrinthine living, breathing ruin; and then there is the painful folly of San Zhi – a ruin not from the past but strangely, wonderfully, from a tomorrow that might have been.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

KABOOM! From Welcome To Weirdsville

(from M. Christian's Meine Kleine Fabrik)

Here's another fun piece from my collection of strange (but true) stuff: Welcome to Weirdsville: This time it's on the largest - non-nuclear - blasts on earth.


For most of us BOOM, KABLAM, KABLOOIE mean a mushroom cloud and a cute little animated turtle talking about ducking and covering – as well as the possible End Of All Life As We Know It.

But, unfortunately, not every monstrous explosion began with J. Robert Oppenheimer saying "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." Even putting aside natural blasts such as the eruption of Krakatoa, which was so massive the sound of it was heard as far away as London, the earth has still to be rocked by more than its fair share of man-made, non-atomic BOOMs, KABLAMs, and KABLOOIEs.

One of the more terrifying non-nuclear explosions ever to occur was in 1917 up in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Back in December of that year the Mont-Blanc plowed into another ship, the Imo, starting a ferocious fire. Ten minutes later the Mont-Blanc went up, creating what is commonly considered to be one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in earth history.

The Mont-Blanc was a big ship carrying a lot of extremely dangerous cargo – almost 3,000 tons of munitions bound for the war that was then tearing Europe apart. What happened that morning, which lead to the blast and the nightmarish loss of life, reads like a textbook example of whatever could go wrong, did. To avoid being torpedoed, the Mont-Blanc wasn't flying any dangerous cargo flags, so no one except for her crew knew her cargo was so dangerous. When the fire got out of control, the Mont-Blanc's crew tried to warn as many people as possible – but they only spoke French and the language of Halifax was English. Not realizing the danger, crowds began to form to watch the blaze. The Mont-Blanc, on fire, also began to drift toward a nearby pier ... that was also packed with munitions bound for the war.

When everything finally came together – the criminal negligence, the miscommunication, and worst of all the fire and the explosives – the blast was roughly equal to 3 kilotons of TNT. The fireball roared up above the town and the shockwave utterly destroyed the town and everything within one mile of the epicenter. Metal and wreckage fell as far away as 80 miles from the blast and the sound of the detonation was heard more than 225 miles away. The explosion was so huge it generated a tsunami that roared away from the epicenter and then back into the harbor again, adding to the death and destruction.

It wasn't until days later that the true horror of what had happened was realized: Halifax was completely gone, erased from the face of the earth, along with every ship in the harbor and most of the nearby town of Dartmouth. Approximately 2,000 people died from the explosion and another 9,000 were injured.

Unfortunately Halifax wasn't the first such explosives-related accident in 1917. Unbelievably, before the Mont-Blanc destroyed the town, 73 people were killed in the explosion of a munitions factory in Silvertown in West Ham, Essex. The sound was heard as far away as 100 miles. A year earlier, the Johnson Barge No.17 went up Jersey City. Although only a few people were killed, the explosion managed to damage not only Ellis Island but also the Statue of Liberty. There were many other blasts as well, but these are only a few of the more dreadful highlights.

You'd think after these nightmarish explosions, caution about things that go BOOM would have sunk in a bit, but the second world war also saw more than its fair share of explosive accidents. In 1944, for instance, the SS Fort Stikine went up while docked in Bombay, India. When her cargo went up, the blast killed 800 men and injured 3,000. The fire that followed took more than three days to control.

Also in 1944, the UK experienced what is commonly considered the largest blast ever to occur on British soil when 3,700 tons of high explosives were accidentally detonated in an underground munitions store in Fauld, Staffordshire. The explosion was so massive it formed a crater 3⁄4 of a mile across and more than 400 feet deep – and destroyed not only the base but a nearby reservoir (and all the water in it).

But one of the biggest blasts – aside from the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan – was also one of the largest in human history, and one of the most tragic.

Once again in 1944, on July 17 to be specific, munitions being loaded onto a ship in Port Chicago, California, (very close to San Francisco) detonated. No one knows what exactly caused the blast, but the damage was biblical. All in all, more than 5,000 tons of high explosives, plus whatever else was in the stores on the base and on any ships docked, was involved. The explosion was so massive it was felt as far away as Las Vegas (500 miles distant) and people were injured all over the Bay Area when windows were shattered by the immense pressure wave.

320 were killed immediately and almost 400 were seriously injured, but that's not the real tragedy. Most of these men were African American and this single disaster accounted for almost 15% of African American casualties during that war.

Still fearing for their safety, the remaining men, who had just spent three weeks pulling the bodies of their fellow sailors from the wreckage, refused to load any further munitions. The Army, in a characteristic show of support, considered this an act of mutiny and court-martialed 208 sailors, sending an additional 50 to jail for 8 to 15 years.

Fortunately, the 'mutineers' were given clemency after Thurgood Marshall fought for them, though the final member only received justice in 1999 in the form of a Presidential pardon by President Bill Clinton.

Today in Port Chicago there's a marker on the spot and it states that the event was a step toward "racial justice and equality."

And all it took was one of the largest non-nuclear, man-made, blasts in the history of the world – and the deaths of 320 sailors.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Welcome To Weirdsville: Sweet, Sweet Death

(from Meine Keine Fabrik)

Here's a fun little piece from Welcome To Weirdsville that answers the age-old question "Does molasses run in January?"  Alas, the answer is yes ... and tragically...

Sweet, Sweet Death

"Tell me, what was 15 feet high, moved at 35 miles-per-hour, and killed 21 people in 1919?"

"I don't know, Mr. Bones, what WAS 16 feet high, moved at 35 miles-per-hour, and killed 21 people in 1919?"

"Well, before I tell ya, I'm going to first have to tell you about the sweet brown liquor called rum."

No, before you ask, an elephant didn't get smashed and went on a killing spree (though in another column I might talk about how Mary, a killer pachyderm, was lynched by a monster crane) – this is rather background on a certain gruesome catastrophe that, while unspeakably fatal, was also particularly – almost comically – unusual.

Not to blow the surprise, but if you happen to live in Boston, you might want to simply go onto the great fiction on this website. Your parents and grandparents have probably already spoken, with hushed seriousness, of this certain day – January 15, 1919 – though you may have replied, "Right, sure–"

Liquor has always been a big cash cow. It is with no exaggeration that businessmen have said that you can't go broke investing in sin – and an almost guarantee big seller has always been alcohol. Cheap materials, easy to produce, high profit margin, and with addicted consumers, booze is an entrepreneur's dream – especially in the years before 1919. But this was 1919, and a nightmare was lurking not too far away – a nightmare, that is, for those Americans who like a little sip now and again, and for the business that tried to meet that tipsy demand. In other words: Prohibition.


Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Welcome to Weirdsville: Upside Down & Other Weird Houses

(from Meine Kleine Fabrik)

This is very, very cool: the wonderful Dark Roasted Blend just published a brand new piece of mine, about Upside Down and Other Weird Houses, and gave me a very nice plug for my book of od and unusual stuff - many previously published on Dark Roasted Blend!
M. Christian is also the author of "Welcome to Weirdsville": a wonderful compendium of interesting subjects and fascinating topics. This is a highly recommended book for all lovers of weird & wonderful this side of the Universe; order the Kindle edition here.
Here's a taste - for the rest just click over to Dark Roasted Blend

Upside Down and Other Weird Houses

"- And He Built a Crooked House -"

Emily Dickinson said it perfectly: "Where thou art, that is home." But some very creative people, have taken that idea to wonderful extremes by building homes that aren't just places to hang their hats but instead are wildly whimsical, fantastically fanciful, amazingly awesome, and occasionally brilliantly bizarre.

Tilted and Flipped!

As any artist knows, inspiration can come from anywhere and a few these unique builders and architects have been inspired by some very... tilted ideas. Take, for example, Daniel Czapiewski's home in the Polish town of Szymbark. No, you don’t need to turn your monitor upside down: Daniel's home is, indeed, topsy-turvy:

(images via 12)

But Daniel is not the only builder with a unique perspective. In the German town of Trassenheide there's another home with a stand-on-your-head view:

This furniture does not seem to be very functional -

(images via 1)

Are we detecting a theme here? Billed as an "Amusement Park For The Mind," WonderWorks have flipped models of the White House, adding a new dimension to the currently weird political landscape, at various locations around the country:


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Those Mysterious Mima Mounds

The wonderful Bill Mills and the fantastic Jean Marie Stine of Renaissance/PageTurner Editions have just created a brand new Did You Know? in their video series promoting my new book, Welcome To Weirdsville!

And here, straight from the book, is the original article - a slightly different version than the one that originally appeared on the always-wonderful Dark Roasted Blend. Enjoy!


Scientists love a mystery.  Biologists used to have the human genome, but now they have the structure of protein.  Physics used to have cosmic rays, but now they have the God particle.  Astronomers used to have black holes, but now they have dark matter. 
And then there's the puzzle, the enigma, the joyous mystery that dots the world over: the riddle of what's commonly called Mima Mounds. 
What's an extra added bonus about these cryptic 'whatevertheyares' is that they aren't as miniscule as a protein sequence, aren't as subatomic as the elusive God particle, and certainly not as shadowy as dark matter.  Found in such exotic locales as Kenya, Mexico, Canada, Australia, China and in similarly off-the-beaten path locations as California, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, and especially Washington state, the mounds first appear to be just that: mounds of earth.
The first thing that's odd about the mounds is the similarity, regardless of location. With few differences, the mounds in Kenya are like the mounds in Mexico which are like the mounds in Canada which are like the ... well, you get the point.  All the mounds aer heaps of soil from three to six feet tall, often laid out in what appear to be evenly spaced rows.  Not quite geometric but almost.  What's especially disturbing is that geologists, anthropologists, professors, and doctors of all kinds – plus a few well-intentioned self-appointed "experts" – can't figure out what they are, where they came from, or what caused them.
One of the leading theories is that they are man-made, probably by indigenous people.  Sounds reasonable, no?  Folks in loincloths hauling dirt in woven baskets, meticulously making mound after mound after ... but wait a minute.  For one thing it would have been a huge amount of work, especially for a culture that was living hand-to-mouth.  Then there's the fact that, as far as can be determined, there's nothing in the mounds themselves.  Sure they aren't exactly the same as the nearby ground, but they certainly don't contain grain, pot shards, relics, mummies, arrowheads, or anything that really speaks of civilization.  They are just dirt. And if they are man-made, how did the people in Kenya, Mexico, Canada, Australia, China, California, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, and especially Washington state all coordinate their efforts so closely as to produce virtually identical mounds?  That's either one huge tribe or a lot of little ones who somehow could send smoke signals thousands of miles. 
Not very likely.
Next on the list of explanations is that somehow the mounds were created either by wind and rain or by geologic ups and downs – that there's some kind of bizarre earthy effect that has caused them to pop up.  Again, it sounds reasonable, right?  After all, there are all kinds of weird natural things out there: rogue waves, singing sand, exploding lakes, rains of fish and frogs – so why shouldn't mother nature create field after field of neat little mounds? 
The "natural" theory of nature being responsible for the Majorly Mysterious Mima Mounds starts to crumble upon further investigation.  Sure there's plenty of things we don't yet understand about how our native world behaves scientists do know enough to be able to say what it can't do – and it's looking pretty certain it can't be as precise, orderly, or meticulous as the mounds.
But still more theories persist.  For many who believe in ley lines, that crop circles are some form of manifestation of our collective unconscious, in ghosts being energy impressions left in stone and brick, the mounds are the same, or at least similar: the result of an interaction between forces we as yet do not understand, or never will, and our spaceship earth.
Others, those who prefer their granola slightly less crunchy or wear their tinfoil hats a little less tightly, have suggested what I – in my own ill-educated opinion – consider to be perhaps the best theory to date.  Some, naturally, have dismissed this concept out-of-hand, suggesting that the whole idea is too ludicrous even to be the subject of a dinner party, let alone deserving the attention and respect of serious research.
But I think this attitude shows not only lack of respect but a lack of imagination.  After all, was it not so long ago that the idea of shifting continents was considered outrageous?  And wasn't it only a few years ago that people simply accepted the fact that the sun revolved around the earth?  I simply ask that this theory be considered in all fairness and not dismissed without the same serious consideration these now well-respected theories have received.
After all, giant gophers could very well be responsible for the Majorly Mysterious Mima Mounds

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Queen Of Sin!

And since you can never talk about the Hellfire Club without at least mentioning Diana Rigg's (ahem) memorable appearance in The Avengers episode "A Touch of Brimstone" - which was about a modern reincarnation of the club - as The Queen Of Sin!


Since the wonderful Bill Mills and the fantastic Jean Marie Stine of Renaissance/PageTurner Editions were so wonderful to create the Did You Know? video series to promote my new book, Welcome To Weirdsville, I thought the least I could do was share my article about the Hellfire Club from the book ... so here it is. Enjoy!


History has not been kind to them.  If you can even find references to their Brotherhood it's usually shaded with Christian hysteria, whispered tales loaded with the usual Catholic shockers of Satanism, sacrifice, the black mass, rituals – you name it.  They say that the winners write the history books – well, I consider it a bad sign that it takes a lot of digging to uncover the truth: while they haven't won they certainly have a good enough foothold to pretty badly taint the memory of the Amorous Knights of Wycombe.
Even if you travel to their later meeting place, the sleepy little hamlet of West Wycombe, the locals spout the nonsense – telling tales laced with those Christian bogeymen images: hooded figures droning a litany of forbidden words while a naked offering is laid out on cold granite, awaiting the ritual blade in the hands of a Satanic Priest. 
While the truth about the membership of the Monks of Medmenham, and later the Amorous Knights of Wycombe, isn't as – well – Hammer Films material, the tale of its founding, membership, and rites is fascinating.
Oh, to be in England in the 1760s.  The Colonies were behaving themselves, the Great British Empire was just that, and everyone – so it seemed – belonged to a club.  There was one for just about every class, interest, or occupation: The Lying Club, where the truth was banned; the Ugly Club where the qualifications for membership were unhandsome, at best; the Golden Fleece where members took on such names as Sir Boozy Prate-All, Sir Whore-Hunter, and Sir Ollie-Mollie. 
Then there was the Monks of Medmenham Abbey.  Meeting clandestinely on a spot of land somewhere along the Thames near London, this circle of Gentlemen came to typify the age, the era of the Great English Clubs. 
Sir Francis Dashwood is one of my heroes – roguish, yet always the stalwart Gentleman; a prankster and jape, yet the author of the Book of Common Prayer – Sir Francis was the center and guiding force behind the very special club, the one later to be known by the misnomer, the Hellfire Club. 
Born in 1708, and an indirect descendent of Milton ("tis better to rule in Hell, than serve in Heaven"), Sir Francis was a great supporter of reforms as well as artistic advances.  His estate at West Wycombe became an example progressive architectural design and intelligent land management.  He was elected an MP 1762, in appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer the following year – and then the year after that elevated to the House of Lords.  To add to these wonderful accomplishments, in 1766 (under Pitt) Dashwood was appointed Postmaster-General.  Sir Francis, you see, was a man of accomplishment, of intelligence, ability, and – most certainly – wit.
Oh yes, for while Sir Francis was elevating his way through Parliament, he also created, and pretty much single-handedly maintained, his own special club.  Unlike those other eccentric clubs of the time the Monks of Medmenham Abbey was a special organization – one dedicated to japing the Papists, providing a place where a gentleman of wit and sophistication might find a place to meet, drink, and – in general – raise a little hell.
The Monks certainly did that.  First at their hidden little island, set inside a false ruin of an old Abbey, they met – clandestine greetings across the cool waters of the Thames, lanterns and torches lighting the way, the Monk-robed members gathering together to eat, drink, share amusing anecdotes and fuck like bunnies.
While there were definitely intellectual intercourse at those meetings of the Monks of Medmenham Abbey, it was rather plain-old-simple intercourse that kept them coming back.  After 1763, when the cloaked and torch-bearing Monks had attracted some undue attention, they moved local to Dashwood's own estate in West Wycombe – where the Lord de Despencer had constructed a veritable erotic, playful interpretation of Hades on – and under – Earth.
The hills around West Wycombe are soft chalk, ideal for tunneling – and that's just what Sir Francis did.  With his artistic and architectural eye he created a veritable maze of tunnels, underground rivers, chambers and gardens on his property, decorated with elaborate erotic sculptures, teasing portraits of the Knights of Wycombe (such as depicting Sir Francis with halo), and many small chambers for intercourse of both kinds.  It was at Wycombe that the real Hellfire club began, a festive playground where the political, artistic, and intellectual elite of England met – engaging in dalliances with some of the most famous of London prostitutes.  My favorite little jape of the society is that while it is pretty much incontrovertible that Ladies-of-Rentable-Virtue were present, it is also believed that – since both 'Monks' and 'Nuns' wore veils or masks, and identities kept very secret – lovers, wives, sisters, and daughters of other members were also there.
Now before you imagine (you filthy creature you!), English artists and intellectuals running around in a white-wig version of Porky's, let me reassure you that while Eros was a major focus of the Knights, it was handled with grace and dignity – the Nuns could refuse any offer, or accept any offer, as they saw fit.  It was a place of playful perversity, where free-thinkers could gather together to titter and mock the oppressive Jacobites and their domineering Pope.  Rituals were held, yes, but with all the seriousness of rowdy jesters. 
And what jesters they were – and this is what elevated the Amorous Knights of Wycombe to memorable heights.  I've told you of Sir Francis, peer by day, Monk by night, but the other members – particularly the inner circle – shine with their own randy double-lives.  Just listen to this litany of the famous and infamous who all took part in the elaborate games and fanciful parties in and under West Wycombe hill: The Earl of Sandwich (for whom the food was named), First Lord of the Admiralty; Thomas Potter, Paymaster-General, Treasurer for Ireland and son of the Archbishop of Canterbury; John Wilkes, MP, and Lord Mayor of London; Frederick, the Prince of Wales; Horace Walpole, Politician and author; Edmund Duffield and Timothy Shaw, the Vicars of Medmenham; Chevalier D'Eon de Beaumont, French diplomat; and – even possibly – our own bawdy intellectual, Benjamin Franklin.  In addition to these noteworthies, West Wycombe also admitted the well-spoken rake or two, and some famous artists such as Giuseppe Borgnis, and Robert Lloyd.
Alas, nothing is forever – the tide turned, and when the now-Papal friendly popular opinion discovered the existence of our festive Monks, the scandal almost brought down the government with them.  Even its own sense of nasty jape seem to have had a hand in the club's fading.  During one particularly intense mock black mass, ever-the-rogue John Wilkes took an ape, affixed it with a devil mask and released it during the service.  The outrage was wonderfully hysterical – though telling that the Earl of Sandwich (said by many to be very ugly, and very ugly tempered) was said to have fallen to his knees and said, "Spare me, gracious devil.  I am as yet but half a sinner.  I never have been so wicked as I pretended!"
The last meeting took place in 1762, shaken by scandal, internal conflicts, the Monks simply fell apart.  The caves fell into disrepair after the death of Dashwood, and soon the horror stories of the evil rites held there had hidden the truth; that it was once the festive and mocking domain of the Amorous Knights.
On a closing note, I have to relate one of my favorite events during the later part of the society.  In a bitter hypocrisy after the foundering of the club, that disreputable Earl of Sandwich had the notorious wit John Wilkes on the stand – in no doubt an act of revenge.  Proving himself beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was completely, utterly wicked, Sandwich belabored his previous fellow-monk until, in a fit of frustration at Wilke's calm and witty rejoinders proclaimed, "Sir, you will either die on the gallows, or by the pox!"
To which, in a perfect closing to this tale of elegant mischief, Wilkes responded, without batting an eye: "That depends, Sir, on whether I embrace your principals – or your mistress."

Friday, June 22, 2012

Weirdsville Love -

I can't ever say it enough: I have some truly incredible friends: just check out this post by dear friend, Ralph Greco, Jr., over at the Von Gutenberg site about my new book Welcome to Weirdsville:

Well-known writer, part-time rapscallion and full-time great friend of us all here at Von Gutenberg, M. Christian sees not only the release of his new Welcome To Weirdsville from Renaissance E Books/PageTurner Editions but also a five part video series connected with it called Did You Know? (see it here) written Renaissance publisher Jean Marie Stine and produced by media master, Bill Mills. 
Prolific scribe that he is (the guy has 400 stories published in anthologies alone!) we know M. Christian’s ability to not only turn a phrase but to unearth some of the most interesting tidbits on a subject, as he does in the non-fiction pieces he has penned for us and in WTW you’ll find more of the same as we learn about a noble Word War 1 German pirate, the City of Fire, the giggling genius of Brian G. Hughes, The Antikythera Device and much much more. 
Knowing the diabolical naughty mind of M. Christian as we do there are also quite a few forays into things kinky in this book (read his excerpt about the Hellfire Club here) 
Welcome To Weirdsville is a must for any student, devotes or those of us with a passing interest in marquis weirdness written about with unmatched aplomb. 
You can check M. Christian out here: and get the book here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Did You Know? Weird Facts #1: The Hellfire Club

I am ... speechless. This is just so damned cool: as a very special celebration of the release of my book Welcome to Weirdsville, Renaissance E Books/PageTurner Editions presenting a five part series Did You Know? written by our publisher Jean Marie Stine and produced by by our resident magnificent media master, and great guy, Bill Mills.

The first one, on the Hellfire Club, which I wrote about here, just went up.

"A wonderful compendium of interesting subjects and fascinating topics. Will keep you reading just to found out what's going to be covered next. Highly recommended for all lovers of weird & wonderful this side of the Universe." -Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.  
Peek under the rugs, open more than a few drawers, peek in the back shelves and you'll find that ... well, Lord Byron himself said it best: "Truth is always strange, stranger than fiction." Lakes that explode, parasites that can literally change your mind, The New Motor, a noble Word War 1 German pirate, the odd nature of ducks, the War Magician, the City of Fire, men and their too big guns, a few misplaces nuclear weapons, an iceberg aircraft carrier, the sad death of Big Mary, the all-consuming hunger of the Bucklands, the giggling genius of Brian G. Hughes, the Kashasha laughter epidemic.... Ponder that in a world that holds things like kudzu, ophiocordyceps unilateralis, The Antikythera Device, The Yellow Kid, Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, Alfred Jarry, Joseph Pujol, and suicide-bombing ants ... who knows what other kinds of wonders as well as horrors may be out there?
Welcome to Weirdsville 
M. Christian
PageTurner Editions
183 Pages
Available where all ebooks are found 

Friday, June 08, 2012

Welcome to Weirdsville: The Benevolent Sea-Devil

Here's an rollicking sample article from my new collection of what Avi Abrams of Dark Roasted Blend called "A wonderful compendium of interesting subjects and fascinating topics:"  Welcome to Weirdsville

Peek under the rugs, open more than a few drawers, peek in the back shelves and you'll find that ... well, Lord Byron himself said it best: "Truth is always strange, stranger than fiction." Lakes that explode, parasites that can literally change your mind, The New Motor, a noble Word War 1 German pirate, the odd nature of ducks, the War Magician, the City of Fire, men and their too big guns, a few misplaced nuclear weapons, an iceberg aircraft carrier, the sad death of Big Mary, the all-consuming hunger of the Bucklands, the giggling genius of Brian G. Hughes, the Kashasha laughter epidemic.... Ponder that in a world that holds things like kudzu, ophiocordyceps unilateralis, The Antikythera Device, The Yellow Kid, Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, Alfred Jarry, Joseph Pujol, and suicide-bombing ants ... who knows what other kinds of wonders as well as horrors may be out there?

The Benevolent Sea-Devil

The year: 1917, the height of the War To End All Wars, sadly now referred to as World War 1.  The Place: The Atlantic Ocean.  You: the captain of an allied merchant ship carrying coal from Cardiff to Buenos Aires. 
Then, like a ghost from the distant past, a ship appears: a beautiful three mastered windjammer flying a Norwegian flag.  Staggered by this hauntingly lovely anachronism you think nothing of it coming alongside – it was common, after all, for friendly ships to want to synchronize their chronometers – until, that is, the ship's Norwegian flag is quickly replaced by the German eagle and the captain, in amazingly polite terms, backed up by guns that have mysteriously appeared in the windjammer's gunwales, explains that your ship is now his.
And so you have been captured by the Seeadler ("Sea Eagle" in German), captained by Felix von Luckner, or, as he was known by both enemies as all as allies, the Benevolent Sea-Devil.
Some people's lives are so broad, so wild, so amazing that they simply don't seem real.  The stuff of Saturday Matinees?  Sure.  But real, authentic, true?  Never!  But if even half of Felix von Luckner's life is true – and there's no reason to really doubt any of it – then he was truly a broad, wild, and utterly amazing fellow.
Born in 1881, in Dresden, Felix ran away from home at 13.  Stowing away on a Russian trawler, he fell overboard – rescued, so the story goes, by grabbing hold of an albatross, the bird's flapping wings acting as a signal to a rescue party. 
Making his way to Australia, Felix tried a number of – to put it politely – odd jobs: boxer, circus acrobat, bartender, fisherman, lighthouse keeper (until discovered with the daughter of a hotel owner), railway worker, kangaroo hunter, and even had a stint in the Mexican army.  During all this Felix also became a notable magician and a favorite entertainer to no less than Kaiser Wilhelm himself.
Making his way back to Germany he passed his navigation exams and served aboard a steamer before getting called to serve in the Navy on the SMS Panther. 
Which brings us to that War That Was Supposedly The End To All Wars.  Even though it was fought with steel and oil, the German's outfitted a number of older ships as raiders – hidden guns, more powerful engines and the like – and sent them out to harass allied shipping.  Most of them were, to put it politely, a failure.  But then there was the Seeadler, under the command of Felix von Luckner.
During the course of the war Felix sank or captured no less that 16 ships – a staggering amount.  What's even more staggering is how Felix did it, and that he did it with grace, honor, and even a certain kindness.  You see, while the Seeadler took out those ships it, during its entire campaign, did it at the cost of only single human life.  Most of the time the scenario went just as it did with your merchant ship carrying coal from Cardiff to Buenos Aries: the Seeadler would approach a target, raise its German eagle and that would be that: the crew and cargo would be captured and the ship scuttled.  Sometimes she'd fire a shot to two to get her pint across that she was serious, but it wasn't until the British ship, Horngarth, that anyone had actually been killed.  Tricked into thinking they were investigating a stricken ship – Felix had actually used a smoke generator – the captured Horngarth had refused to stop broadcasting a distress signal.  A single shot took out the radio but unfortunately killed the operator.  Felix von Luckner, though, gave the man a full military funeral at sea and even went as far as to write the poor man's family telling them that he had died with honor.
To give you even more evidence that Felix von Luckner more than deserved the "benevolent" in his "Benevolent Sea-Devil" nickname he treated everyone he captured with dignity and respect: captured sailors were paid for their time while on his ship and officers ate with him at his captain's table.  When the Seeadler got too packed with prisoners, by this time more than 300, Felix captured the Cambronne, a little French ship, cut down her masts and let all his prisoners go with the understanding that if they happened to get picked up before making land they wouldn't tell where the Seeadler was going.  Respecting Felix's honor they didn't.
Alas, the Seeadler's rule of the Atlantic had to end sometime – but even that just adds to the broad, wild, and utterly amazing life of Felix von Luckner.  With the British – and now the Americans – hot on her tail, Felix decided to take a quick barnacle-scraping break from piracy by putting the Seeadler into a bay on Mopelia, a tiny coral atoll.  Now stories here conflict a bit – Felix always claimed that a rogue tsunami was to blame – but I think the more-standard explanation that the crew and prisoners of the Sealer were simply having a picnic on the island when their windjammer drifted aground.
Taking a few of his men in some long boats, Felix sailed off towards Fiji intending to steal a ship and come back for the Seeadler.  Through a series of incredible adventures – including claiming to be Dutch-Americans crossing the Atlantic on a bet – the Sea-Devil was himself tricked into surrendering by the Fijian police who threatened, after becoming suspicious of one of Felix's stories, to sink his boat with an actually-unarmed ferry.  By the way, the remaining crew and prisoners of the Seeadler had their own adventures, leading eventually to the escape of the prisoners and the capturing of the Seeadler's crew.
But even a Chilean prison camp wasn't the end for Felix, or not quite the end.  Using the cover of putting on a Christmas play, he and several other prisoners managed to steal the warden's motorboat and then seize a merchant ship.  Alas, Felix's luck ran out when they were captured again and spent the rest of the war being moved from one camp to another.
But rest assured the story doesn't end there.  Far from it: after writing a book about his various adventures, Felix von Luckner toured the world entertaining audiences about the Seeadler – as well as demonstrating his strength by tearing phone books in half and bending coins between thumb and forefinger. 
While, with the rise of Hitler, some people thought of Felix as an apologist, the captain had no love for the Nazi's – especially since the German government had frozen his assets when he refused to renounce the honorary citizenships and honors he'd received during his travels.
But the story of Felix von Luckner still isn't over.  Retiring to the German town of Halle, he was asked by the mayor to negotiate the town's surrender to the Americans.  While he did this, earning not only the respect of the Americans and the gratitude of the citizens, his reward from the Nazi's was to be sentenced to death.  Luckily, Felix managed to flee to Sweden where he lived until passing away at the age of 84.
War is horror, war is pointless death, and war is needless suffering.  But because of men like Felix von Luckner, war can also show the good, noble side of man – and that some men can remarkably earn the respect of friend and enemy alike.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Welcome to Weirdsville: The Book!

As some of you may know, I've written a whole bunch of short weird history, weird art, weird science and just plain ... well, weird pieces over the years for sites like the late-lamented Bonetree, The Cud, and - especially - Dark Roasted Blend.  

Well, I am very excited to be able to announce the publication of a whole collection of these pieces - and more! - in Welcome to Weirdsville by the fabulous Renaissance E Books/Pageturner Books!

As part of publicity for this fun project I'm also going to be posting some of the articles here and on Meine Kleine Fabrik (both the Blogger and the Tumblr version).

Avi, by the way, just posted a delightful announcement about the book on Dark Roasted Blend.  Thanks so much, Avi!

"A wonderful compendium of interesting subjects and fascinating topics. Will keep you reading just to found out what's going to be covered next. Highly recommended for all lovers of weird & wonderful this side of the Universe." -Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.  
Sure, you may know M. Christian as an erotica master - or even as a respected author of science fiction (see his Love Without Gun Control for example) but did you know that he is also the author of this brand-new book of historical - and humorous - essays and tidbits?  Read Welcome to Weirdsville and we'll promise you'll never look at the world the same way again! 
Peek under the rugs, open more than a few drawers, peek in the back shelves and you'll find that ... well, Lord Byron himself said it best: "Truth is always strange, stranger than fiction." Lakes that explode, parasites that can literally change your mind, The New Motor, a noble Word War 1 German pirate, the odd nature of ducks, the War Magician, the City of Fire, men and their too big guns, a few misplaced nuclear weapons, an iceberg aircraft carrier, the sad death of Big Mary, the all-consuming hunger of the Bucklands, the giggling genius of Brian G. Hughes, the Kashasha laughter epidemic.... Ponder that in a world that holds things like kudzu, ophiocordyceps unilateralis, The Antikythera Device, The Yellow Kid, Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, Alfred Jarry, Joseph Pujol, and suicide-bombing ants ... who knows what other kinds of wonders as well as horrors may be out there?