Zanzibar Circus 2.18.19

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Jonathan Kieran is the author of the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books (Brightbourne 2012), as well as the critically acclaimed (Midwestern Book Review, Manhattan Book Review) Confessions From The Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop-Culture Zombies. He is also the creator of the comic strip Zanzibar Circus. Jonathan’s work has also been featured on The Daily Dot.com and in a plethora of other ‘zines, newspapers, and alt-weeklies. Click on the book covers above and to the right if you want to learn more about Jonathan’s titles and perhaps spend some of your hard-earned money on his multi-formatted gifts to the human race.

Look for a major surprise in Summer 2019. Jonathan is also currently writing and illustrating an epic new work slated for international release in 2021 (Brightbourne). Drop-in at leisure for updates. Mr. Kieran promises to provide them, but only once in awhile—he doesn’t get paid to blog.

Oh, the Carnage and Lifelong Scarification of Temptations Unresisted! #Pastries

I could see the danger clearly the instant I opened the box …

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Without doubt, this nondescript cardboard package had been sent by an enemy of diabolical cunning and almost incomprehensible Evil! Oh, the tiny sticker on the outside of the heinous delivery read: “Lafayette French Bakery and Café in Carmel, California,” but I knew that anything containing objects this lethal, this astonishingly insidious, could only emanate from warped minds hell-bent upon the ruination of all that is good and redemptive in civilization. What to do? What to do?

How on earth could one unsuspecting man diffuse such potentially explosive and catastrophic devices of mass-destruction (for that is clearly what they were) without risking the exposure of my fellow countrymen (and women) to the deadly fallout of nougaty goodness, rich chocolate despair, and widespread lemon-curd radiation? In those grim moments I grappled with the existential ramifications and a quaking sense of my own, tenuous mortality. The clock on the wall ticked with accusation and foreboding. Time was of the essence! Others were going-about their affairs, blissfully unaware of the Tsunami of Ruin about to come crashing down upon their innocent heads!

A decision had to made! Taking the first volatile Instrument of Certain Doom in my hand …

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… I knew that there was only one way to rid the earth of such calamitous forces. I gave myself, so that others might continue and thrive, that good people across the globe might rise to greet each new day with the sheer exaltation that comes with being alive.

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Sacrifice is never easy, and the carnage is brutal to behold–often remembered only in grainy, indistinct footage that can never pretend to capture the magnitude of the bloodshed. The courageous among us, however, forge onward. We do it because we must.

We must.
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Jonathan Kieran is the author of the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books (Brightbourne 2012), as well as the critically acclaimed (Midwestern Book Review, Manhattan Book Review) Confessions From The Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop-Culture Zombies. His work has also been featured on The Daily Dot.com and in a plethora of other ‘zines, papers, and alt-weeklies. Click on the book covers above and to the right if you want to learn more about Jonathan’s titles and perhaps spend some of your hard-earned money on his multi-formatted gifts to the human race.
Jonathan is currently writing and illustrating a new masterpiece of epic dimensions. Drop-in once in awhile for updates. Mr. Kieran promises to provide them, but only once in awhile, because he doesn’t get paid to blog endlessly for free. That would make him a Wattpadder or a Smashworder, not a writer.

Grab The Good Moments and Never Let ‘Em Go, Fellow Homo Sapiens

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Perch no longer upon painful pins and needles, Ye friends, readers, and oh-so-ardent admirers strewn across the whirling globe. Verily I say unto thee, an “update” has been born amid the creaking, ramshackle windmills of my brain.
That being said, don’t get too excited, as this update is unlikely to rock your world or even rustle a few leaves upon the Autumnal Tree of Your Abiding Devotion.
Like most of you, I am preparing for the HOLIDAY SEASON (though, “bracing myself for it” might be a more apt description.)
I realize that I am not alone in regarding this particular time of year with a healthy dose of ambivalence, a soupçon of nostalgia, and equal parts schadenfreude and trepidation.
Don’t get me wrong.
You’d have to search field and fountain, moor and mountain, following all sorts of yonder stars to find a guy more existentially thankful, just for the basics. I do not exaggerate.
It’s a gift simply to be alive on this orb. A blessing. A marvel. A stroke of cosmic good fortune … whatever you wish to call it.
For example, I so appreciate the “little things” that I experience a physical, emotional, and spiritual reaction just to put on my running shoes and go for a jog through the woodlands adjacent to my seaside domicile. No ear buds. No distracting music required.
Just the sound of my breath, the rhythm of my footfalls, and all kinds of forest noises on either side: birds fluttering in the briars; ground squirrels scampering for cover; maybe a rattlesnake slithering away across dry leaves. I’m sure I’ve even ”heard” more than one mountain lion or bobcat watching me from the shadows of a rocky hillside.
Thankful.
There’s a large pond sequestered amid the expanse of gnarled oaks, just off the main trail where I run and (believe it or not in typically arid California) it’s always full and glimmering beneath sunshine or cloudy skies.
I’m grateful to be able to stand for a few minutes and contemplate the ducks and other waterfowl. Watch the reeds swaying in the breeze at the outskirts of the marshy idyll. I always end-up feeling glad that, somehow, some way, the universe—in its billions of years of outwardly explosive projectile vomiting—found a way to eventually arrive at … me.
And You.
And billions of others who have lived and struggled and laughed and died on this infinitessimally impossible planet.
Amazing, when you ponder it a bit.
My existence, like that of anyone, will be but one-zillionth of a blip in cosmic terms of Time, but it doesn’t feel that way when we’re genuinely grounded in the Moment, does it?
And what we know about Time and Space and their deeper secrets of operation is hardly comprehensive. I don’t care what Stephen Hawking or Einstein say.
I don’t know about you, but if the right contemplative mood strikes, in the ideal environment, in one quiet moment—be it lakeside or staring at the ceiling come dawn—all sense of Time’s omnipotence (and its limitations) begins to vanish, and in its place I can feel as if I’ve been alive forever.
Or that I’ll never be in a position wherein I won’t feel alive and part of the great, galaxy-gripping Mystery … whatever that Mystery turns out to be.
Yeah, yeah: the other aspects of everyday life are not felt so primevally; nor are they drenched in the fairy-dust of nobility.
I’m even-tempered, but not always on the inside. Some days I can roll out of bed and just sink my teeth gladly into a big old slice of Cynical Pie, relishing every mouthful of the crunchy, broken lightbulbs that constitute the main ingredient of said Pie.
Sure, I still get impatient with myself and with others, but I’ve lightened-up quite a bit in that regard.
Time heals, but only if you work with it, rather than against it. A lot of things that used to gnaw at my sense of pride now roll off the shoulders routinely.
Shut-out the harrowing mayhem of the world and bolt the doors of your soul.
Have a glass of wine.
Have a creme-filled doughnut.
Laugh with some friends.
To hell with excessive anxiety and worry; these add not a useful moment to this mortal coil—neither in the Big Picture nor in the smaller corners of our increasingly modulated lives.
Thankful? Hell yes.
To be certain, the world—or at least the behavior of the human race in general, these days—disturbs the breath right out of my body, at intervals.
The rampant disconnection from fundamental reality.
The garden-variety indifference and violence.
The staggering atrocities.
The ill-advised substitution of digitial communication and friendship for fulsome interaction and discourse.
The dangerous acceleration of ideological divisiveness.
The Caligula-level decadence that has managed to enter the mainstream of Western culture.
The rabid monkey-circus that is Washington, D.C. politics.
Yeah, these things are all worrisome to me. Maybe to You, too.
But a thankful soul can overcome them all, just by shutting them out at the opportune Moment(s).
Thankful. What a concept.
We have our loved ones. We’ve got the little material odds and ends that we cherish, for whatever reason, but to which we are not unduly attached.
Remain in beloved circles, with your own magical talismans, Gracious Reader, throughout this holiday season and beyond. Pause to enjoy the moments that occur within the Moment.
The moments that really do last forever because they happened within Forever.
From my Christmas tree to whatever sacred artifact or structure you contrive to mark the innate excellence of winter in the West, I wish you thankfulness … and the best New Year you never thought you’d remain sane enough to see.
xx
Jonathan
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Jonathan Kieran is the author of the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books (Brightbourne 2012), as well as the critically acclaimed (Midwestern Book Review, Manhattan Book Review) Confessions From The Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop-Culture Zombies. His work has also been featured on The Daily Dot.com and in a plethora of other ‘zines, papers, and alt-weeklies. Click on the book covers above and to the right if you want to learn more about Jonathan’s titles and perhaps spend some of your hard-earned money on his multi-formatted gifts to the human race.
Jonathan is currently writing and illustrating a new masterpiece of epic dimensions. Drop-in once in awhile for updates. Mr. Kieran promises to provide them, but only once in awhile, because he doesn’t get paid to blog endlessly and believes that any “writer” who gives-away a lot of stuff for free is a Wattpadder or a Smashworder, not a fuckin’ writer.

Songs That Made Childhood Magical … #SesameStreet

Okay, so a hitherto planned “Ten Best Meals I Ever Ate” List is not going to appear today. I’m on the fourth day of a complete fast/cleanse, i.e. no solid food and only lemon-water, honey and cayenne pepper to sustain me. Thus, my long and illustrious history of gastronomic adventure is the last thing I want to expound-upon, at the moment. Instead, we’ll opt for some HazMat pop-culture profiling. Behold, the Alligator King and his brood of seven toothy tots.

You can COUNT on this song being stuck in your head all the livelong day!

You can COUNT on this song being stuck in your head all the livelong day!

Jonathan Kieran’s HAZMAT-RETRO HALL OF FAME 

TODAY’S HONOREE: “7” by the Alligator King of Sesame Street (Voiced by Bud Luckey)

RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: Nothing warms the sweet cockles of wistful Kiddie Heart-Land like the memory of a Sesame Street “number song” that you couldn’t get out of your head at age five if you’d even tried. Forget about the fact that you used to you drive your poor mother bananas with endless repetitions of what you had learned. Forget about your mother’s desperate prayers that you would one day employ your knowledge of figures and digits to conquer Wall Street and put her in the most posh Park Avenue spread that money could buy. Irrelevant! These “number songs” were magical, and they were the top of the Toddler Hit Parade, back in the day, before Barney and Sponge-Bob and Ninja Turtles and Tellytubbies came around to rip the innocence of youth from our tender, fluttering souls with all manner of subtle-but-wanton devilry. Okay, so Barney wasn’t all that Evil. Still, none of the others could match Sesame Street’s penchant for producing cartoon ditties that made you want to COUNT until the cows came home! The plight of the Alligator King and his Seven Sons was one of the best, made all the more immortal by the swampy New Orleans ragtime inflections of the great Bud Luckey. What are you waiting for? 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 … SING IT!

DEFINITIVE LYRIC:Said the alligator king to his seventh son, “My son, you win the crown. You didn’t give me diamonds or rubies BUT you helped me up when I was down.”

SEMI-TWISTED “ADULT HUMOR” MOMENT: When the second son gives the Alligator King “seven statues of girls with clocks where their stomachs should be.” Surely this was some sort of perverted metaphor, but our beloved Jim Henson has taken the secret to his grave. Talk amongst yourselves about it, philosophers and sociologists.

EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC: No one can swing like the ALLIGATOR KING!

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Jonathan Kieran is the author of the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books, as well as the critically acclaimed (Midwestern Book Review) Confessions From The Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop-Culture Zombies. His work has also been featured on The Daily Dot.com and in a plethora of other ‘zines. Click on the book covers to the right if you want to learn more about Jonathan’s titles or spend some of your hard-earned money on his multi-formatted gifts to the human race. Jonathan is currently writing and illustrating a new novel. Drop-in once in awhile for updates; he promises to provide them … once in awhile.

Happy Thanksgiving: Zanzibar Circus 11.22.16

… Make merry and be happy. Try not to strangle your liberal or conservative loved ones over the mashed potatoes.

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Jonathan Kieran is the author of Confessions from the Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop Culture Zombies (Brightbourne) as well as the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books. He is also the creator of the comic strip Zanzibar Circus. Explore this site to learn more about Jonathan’s work, or buy his books on Amazon by clicking the cover images to the right in the sidebar.

HAZMAT HOF presents CLASSIC KIDS’ TV ON-THE-CHEAP! The Friendly Giant

Seriously ... Blame Canada for this Fabulous Mess

Seriously … Blame Canada for this Fabulous Mess

HAZMAT-RETRO HALL OF FAME: CLASSIC KIDS’ TV ON-THE-CHEAP!

TODAY’S DUBIOUS HONOREE: The Friendly Giant brought to you by CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) 1958-1985

GUILTY OF VEHICULAR FANSLAUGHTER: Producer Daniel McArthy, Robert Homme (The Friendly Giant), Rodney Coneybeare (Puppeteer)

RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: You Tube, of course, is great for any kind of retro “disAstral projection” because any kid’s show ever featured for even a minute on the most obscure airwave imaginable is preserved on You Tube, so long as any given show’s creators had two googly eyed sock-puppets to rub together. It is with inestimable veneration that I present today’s Featured Object of Childhood Wonder and Idolatry:The Friendly Giant.

Yeah, yeah, I know — even back then the name had a sort of “Whatever you do, don’t take candy from a friendly giant” vibe, and in this case, the vibe might have some validity. Like Paulus the Woodgnome, The Friendly Giant program was another piece of high-tech brilliance smuggled across the Canadian border via malformed TV transmission towers and warped antennae. With titular Big Guy, Robert Homme (French for “Bob MAN“) in the title role, the series endured (in all of its cardboard and papier-mache splendor) for over thirty years!

The premise? Well, each 13-minute show opened with a camera panning across a miniature “town” that made the model of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood look like an aerial shot of Bel Air, by comparison. During the opening credits, an insistent and somewhat creepy adult voice chanted a bit about the goings-on in “Little Town” and then –POW!– suddenly you saw a massive boot stuck in the frame. This was followed by the drill-sergeant admonition for children to “Look up. Look WAAAYYYYY up!” as the camera traveled slowly, luxuriously up Bob Homme’s leg, across his somewhat paunchy midsection and smack into his taciturn Giant Face.

"Friendly" near the Little Town giraffe-dung processing plant.

“Friendly” near the Little Town giraffe-dung processing plant.

Next came a clumsy, herky-jerky lowering of the drawbridge at the giant’s “castle”, which was something I could have built in an hour during crafts’ class in kindergarten. As the drawbridge –obviously rife with structural deficiencies– came down to reveal the words “The Friendly Giant” henscratched in magic marker on two discolored cardboard gates, someone on a recorder played a rather spotty version of Early One Morning.

The rest, my friends, is the stuff of legend. Bob Homme’s mammoth hand arranges itty-bitty pieces of furniture (“Just for you!”) around an itty-bitty fireplace in his huge castle, testifying to the fact that this giant was indeed friendly to little people, or had at least employed a “Little People Friendly” interior decorator when he first decided to build his castle out of an old Sears refrigerator box. Hijinks ensued. There was a bipolar rooster named “Rusty” who lived in a bag hung on a peg near the giant’s window. Rusty sounded like Julia Child on a possibly lethal dose of barbiturates. Rusty the Rooster was presumably a giant, as well, because in terms of scale Rusty could’ve easily wiped-out the little town at the foot of the giant’s domain with one flap of his checkerboard-tablecloth wing. No one on the show ever explained why Rusty was kept in a gunny sack. I like to think that the Friendly Giant was only being friendly to Rusty until the time came to chop his head off, pluck him, stuff him, truss him, and give him a slow roast as soon as the series was cancelled. Why else would anyone keep a truculent farm animal in a bag indoors for so long?

Rusty the Klonopin Rooster

Rusty the Klonopin Rooster

The folks at PETA would’ve been all over Rusty’s oppression, had they been eyeing Canada in the ’70s, when I was about two and addicted to the exploits of the giant. Also keeping the giant company was Jerome the Giraffe, a creature who sounded like he had a three-pack-a-day habit (Camels?) and who was clearly suffering from borderline Personality Disorder. Jerome would poke his head into the window, agitating the giant (and Rusty in his bag) at every opportunity. By my calculations, which were calculated through comparison with the approximated scale of Little Town, Jerome the Giraffe would’ve been about 600 or 700 feet tall! This led me to believe that the primary industry among the folks of Little Town involved the removal and/or processing of giraffe-dung. Judging from the ramshackle appearance of Little Town, this was not a particularly lucrative enterprise. They should have moved their Little Town nearer to a coal mine, but that’s only my opinion.

Otherwise, The Friendly Giant featured heaps of inane chat, endlessly fascinating props culled from Rusty’s bag (a doorknob, a pencil, a spool of thread, an old thumbtack, a rancid piece of popcorn), lots of impromptu blowing on flutes and glimpses into a Magic Lantern that constituted the only reason I ever watched the show in the first place. Magical props were the hook, line & sinker for this kid, on this show … on any show, frankly. The giant’s boot and his surly commands did nothing for me. Nothing.

DEFINITIVE DIALOGUE: “I’ll go in the back way so I can lower the drawbridge and open the gates for you.”

LAMENTABLE LEGACY: It’s a riot of sheer pap, to look at it now, but it remains hilarious to know (as an adult) that I was apparently undeveloped enough to need this sort of stuff as a toddler. I adored this program. In hindsight, I guess it goes without saying that the dangerous grown-ups who crafted the production must’ve all headed straight for the bottle after wrapping every shoot, no doubt storming some smoky out-of-the-way Toronto pub and plotting ways to inject double entendres and pervy inside-jokes into next week’s show (example: “What else do you use your mouth for, Rusty?). Yeah, I envision a lot of drunkenness on that set. I could be wrong. Very wrong. It’s only a theory. And it was only a kids’ show.

EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC: Have a look at an entire actual episode of the The Friendly Giant on YouTube. See for yourself what glories preceded the much later advent of mutant vampire robot zombie-children with digital super powers. Have a look. I dare you. (And beware of rooster-poop and giraffe-droppings.)

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Escape the Imminent Collapse of Civilization, Friends, if Only for a Few Hours. Get acquainted with the comparatively sane world of Rowan Blaize …

One witty 2,800 year-old warlock. A suspicious storm that hurls him to earth near London. A goddess who wants to destroy the world. The catch? She needs Rowan’s face. REMOVED.

A deliciously twisted magical adventure is born with Rowan Blaize and the Enchanted Heritage Chronicles. Use any of the Rowan Blaize book icons on the upper-right (or use the links below) to learn more or purchase with an enchanted click.

Amazon Kindle Version (Only $0.99 Each!)
Book One
Book Two
Book Three
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