Monday, November 15, 2010

THE STEAMPUNK WEEKEND


Bored with everything bland in his English country life, Little Lord Evercreek ruminated on another; one where inventions and copper tubing and quirky gauges and electro-shock meters filled his days. Jules Verne had written fantastic adventures, and Evercreek wanted to live them. The young lord had heard about the goings on at The Pot Boiler, a Soho club off Wardour Street, where the London experimental engineering set gathered each Saturday to play inventors. With a personal invitation from Reginald Highcroft, the club's secretary, Evercreek set off by coach and horses - the coach lavishly furnished with red velvet walls, metal chains and locks, and a bar stocked with the finest selection of spirits - from his home at Skeleton Quay Castle, a half-hour north of London. Five minutes out of the gate, the hornblower, Harold Timmins, lit up his big bong atop the coach. Once passed around to Bert and John, the drivers - then down through the coach window to the little lord, the trip began. Evercreek then poured himself a large crystal cup of gin, which he sipped slowly, imagining all the spouts and steam-vents he'd be designing in his gadget-ized future.
© BILL BLAIR 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

TRETCHIKOFF'S WONG WAYS



Having lived his early years in China, the young Vladimir Tretchikoff - Vlad for short - wandered the backstreets of Cape Town looking for a wild time. Arriving at Miss Wong's Olde-Worlde Opium Den & Sandwich Emporium, he knew he'd hit gold. Bold bongo rhythms and freaky flute trills floated stoccato-like into the South African night. Vlad entered...never to be the same. All the Asian women in the emporium had blue skin. The bongo rhythms pulsated between his ears, while his eyes took in the exotic and the unfamiliar. Tendrils from the Hyakulanga plant swayed behind the main drummer, whose hair splayed like the highest surf wave off the coast of Java. Right then and there, the artist decided he would paint cyan-skinned beauties and wilted orchids. He spun dollar signs in his head, as he imagined travelling the world, pedalling his glossy chromolithographs - his mind forever an open edition.
© BILL BLAIR 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

THE POODLE WITH THE MARASCHINO EYES






















Up for auction, our adorable miniature poodle "Cherie". Boy, has she got eyes! They're as red as maraschino cherries floating in buttermilk. And hypnotic. Just looking at them will make you reach for a Manhattan. We like ours with 1-1/2 ounces Maker's Mark, 2 teaspoons Punt e Mes, and 2 teaspoons dry vermouth. Stir with a bar spoon in a shaker filled with cracked ice, then strain into a frosty martini glass. Oh - and don't forget the Cherie!
© BILL BLAIR 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

NO TIME FOR SIESTA






















Basilica Bonga is affectionately known as the town that never sleeps. Day and night, wild carioca-costumed Bongans take to the streets in Latin dance mode. Portia Da Grava, the mayor, makes a point of conducting town business while dancing with her aldermen. She calls it "the perpetual political party!"
© BILL BLAIR 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

PORTRAIT OF A (EPI)LADY






















The famous face of Mona Lisa changed significantly over the three months that she sat for Leonardo. In July, when artist and sitter first met, her hairline started just two inches above her eyebrows. She had, you see, a nervous tick - a neurotic itch. Each day, around noon, Mona would pick out a single hair from her forehead, simultaneously making a little "titch" sound. Over time, as her portrait neared completion, her hairline accordingly receded. On the fourth day of October, when she was allowed to view the finished portrait, Miss Mona's face took on a mysterious bewildered look. Da Vinci noticed it right away - and later that evening went to work, smudging the oil paint to create the iconic expression we know today.
© BILL BLAIR 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

CURSE of THE GOLDEN RETRIEVER






















Jon Denver had experimented one too many times with his liquor. If he didn't drink enough, he'd dream about his high school teacher, Miss Faye. If he drank too much, he'd dream about his first pet, Down-Boy, a golden retriever. Tonight he drank too much. Lying on his coupon-strewn floor, a barrage of dog images - little Down-Boy yipping and yapping - bounced off the walls of his mind. He always thought the dog looked half-human under his golden brows (reminding Jon of Jo-Jo, The Dog-Faced Boy, whom he'd once met at one of P.T. Barnum's booze-filled circus events). As Jon drifted off, he cued some 1001 Strings music in his head...to bid farewell to his childhood canine companion. Soon Down-Boy would blur with low-down boy, a curse that repeatedly haunts Jon Denver.
© BILL BLAIR 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

PERFORMANCES NIGHTLY!

Schwang and Schwing were performing Sea Monkeys, captured off the coast of Tching Lang-Lee Island in 1953. To make them more appealing to theatre-goers, their tails were surgically removed at Rosemont Medical Center. Dr. Richard Skillings, who performed the operation, was quoted at the time: "It was a difficult procedure, but the tails came off quite cleanly and I expect the little ladies' balance to return to normal in relatively short order." Schwang and Schwing's manager, Professor Horace Gilbert, made a small fortune off the pair, as they then toured Europe and the Americas - filling scrapbooks with their tales.
© BILL BLAIR 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

HELL HARBOR


















Once rated "Most Charming Harbor" by Armchair Traveller Magazine, the port of St. Francis had grown chillingly quiet this June. Back in March, the town physician, Dr. Stanley Proctor, had returned from a Thai vacation with "one hell of a bug". By April, the virus - undiagnosed - had spread throughout the population. By May, the townsfolk were dropping like flies. Remarkably, Dr. Proctor survived, along with just three others: Tom Bell from The Corner Hardware, Susan Holden from the post office, and Lenny Shore from the harbor authority. To celebrate their survival, the four set sail on Lenny's yacht for a champagne brunch at sea. Once past St. Francis Point, however, a major squall hit - sending the provisions overboard, and turning the happy campers into prune-faced partygoers. Two days later, the provisions - including a bottle of Mo√ęt & Chandon - washed ashore on nearby Richter Island, where they were discovered by the resident lighthouse keeper, Sharon Coulter. Feeling blessed, Sharon ran into her house with the bottle and popped the cork. The next day she came down with a "hell of a bug".

© BILL BLAIR 2010

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

SOMETHING. A FOOT.

















On Easter Sunday, while watching the puppies frolic with Mr. Mojo - their childhood stuffed bunny - Stan Reason and his sister Janet lamented the disappearance of lucky rabbits' feet from the selection of keychains and rearview-mirror danglers found at 21st century dollar-store counters.
© BILL BLAIR 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

THREE FEET TO THE WIND

















The first human foot - still laced into its Converse All-Star sneaker - washed ashore in March. Then in June, Bob Stanley spotted a second foot - also a left, and belonging to a male - between the rocks and shore at Fervor Beach. By mid-Summer, a third left foot had been discovered along the same beach. Everyone in the town of Beals Point seemed to be having no difficulty in walking. No one had reported a missing foot. So, where were they coming from? Bob scanned the shore each day, hoping to find the answer.
© BILL BLAIR 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

THE NICOTINED ROOM

After reading the complete poems of Avery Finch, Madeline Forrest felt sad. She lay naked on her green velvet chaise, recalling the last line of the poet's greatest work, Shell Shock Shoreline: "When at last against the rock my heart pounds". Tears began to stream down her cheeks. And as she cried, so did the room. All around her, the walls dripped down drizzles of brown nicotine stains. Souvenirs of a lifetime of smoking. What goes up, thought Madeline, must come down.
© BILL BLAIR 2010

THE EAGLES HAS LANDED






















Juan Alcatraz was a master serenader. His repertoire was so great, he was known throughout Guadalajara as Mister Music. Ask him to play Stevie Wonder's "Boogie On Reggae Woman" and the cords immediately would fire up. "Like a Virgin"? Any song at all - no problem. Arriving for the Fiesta del Agave Azul, maestro Juan placed his fingers on the metal strings before belting out at the crowd: "Welcome to the Hotel California". Any time of year, you will find him here.
© BILL BLAIR 2010