Doug Skinner: An Archive on Your Gizmo

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Le Scat Noir 218

December 1st, 2016 · No Comments

You can click here for your copy of Le Scat Noir, in handy PDF form. This 218th issue contains my translation of Alphonse Allais’s “Christmas Story,” more of my drawings of imaginary musical instruments, and much more by other people. It’s festive!

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Double Over: Blackcattish Stories

November 20th, 2016 · 3 Comments


Black Scat Books is proud to serve up the master absurdist’s inaugural collection,  containing his hand-picked favorites from the pages of Le Chat Noir, the bohemian journal that amused and scandalized Paris. Here you’ll find Allais in the first flush of his comic genius, spinning out elegant and hilarious gems of black humor on suicide, murder, obsession, and adultery. You will meet the philosophical cuckold, the young lady in love with a pig, the inventor of the Tumultoscope, and Ferdinand, the most resourceful duck in literature. Among the highlights is Allais’s most famous story, “A Thoroughly Parisian Drama,” a favorite of André Breton and Umberto Eco. This is the book’s first publication in English, and features seven additional stories from Le Chat Noir, as well as a sublime introduction, notes on the text, and drawings by Doug Skinner.

276 delicious pages!

Pick up a copy on Amazon! Visit Black Scat Books!

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The Vulture and the Jackal

November 16th, 2016 · 3 Comments

I’ve written fables in verse for many years, mostly so that I can work within a set of specific formal constraints. My fables are invariably made of seven couplets, in strict iambic tetrameter, with no feminine rhymes, inversions, or sprung rhythms. These constraints, mind you, are not arbitrary, but chosen for their poetic effect. At any rate, here’s one of them. Enjoy, if you can…


A vulture and a jackal met
To settle on some scheme to net
More meat. The jackal growled, “A king
That we control is just the thing:
Some pawn that only seems to rule.”
And so they crowned a lowly mule.
The puppet monarch strutted, brayed,
And marched his troops in grand parade.
And when they cheered, he brayed some more,
And marched them off to fight a war.
As bombs were burst, and soldiers slain,
And trenches smeared with blood and brain,
The jackal and the vulture fed
Upon the mounting heaps of dead.

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Black Scat Review 16

November 6th, 2016 · No Comments

The sixteenth (count them) issue of Black Scat Review is out! This one is devoted to “Obsession,” and fittingly includes my translation of Alphonse Allais’s story “Little Pigs.” You can find this fine journal here, and the book from which the story was taken, Double Over, will be out soon.

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Le Scat Noir 217

November 3rd, 2016 · 1 Comment

Le Scat Noir #217 is out, free and accessible in its handy PDF format. Among many other things, you can read the full text of my stirring historical play, The Presidents’ Tragedy, and gaze at more of my musical instrument drawings. Look here! And be sure to download it for greater legibility.

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Three Songs from “The Donner Party”

October 30th, 2016 · 1 Comment

In 1974, as a composition student at Oberlin Conservatory, I wrote three songs for “The Donner Party: Its Crossing,” developed and performed by the company Kraken, and directed by Herbert Blau. The words were by Stuart Friebert and Herbert Blau. I posted the program here, and finally got round to revising and recopying the songs. Here’s part of the first one.


→ 1 CommentTags: *Music · *Stage · T

The Presidents’ Tragedy

October 23rd, 2016 · 2 Comments

In this toxic election cycle, it’s appropriate to ponder the history of the presidency. I offer my stirring pageant, The Presidents’ Tragedy. It’s in five brief acts (with a prologue and epilogue spoken by David Rice Atchison, who was president for one day, sort of), in blank verse, and depicts all of our presidents trying to fight off a populace demanding more money and power. Here’s the beginning of the first act:


(The East Room in the White House. GEORGE WASHINGTON is seated in robes, looking like the statue by Horatio Greenough. Enter NIXON, BUCHANAN, TRUMAN, and WILSON.)

WASHINGTON: Good morning, fellow presidents. Come in.
I’ll tell you why I called you here today.
NIXON: We’ll wait outside till thou put on thy pants.
WASHINGTON: No need, sweet Dick. Come in and lend an ear.
WILSON: But why the sheet? Is this a toga party?
TRUMAN: Are you a fellow member of the Klan?
WASHINGTON: I wear these robes so I’ll look more like Zeus.
BUCHANAN: It suits you, sir. You have a manly chest.
WASHINGTON: Why, thank you, James.
BUCHANAN:                                                Let’s all take off our pants.
WASHINGTON: Not now, sweet James. My tooth is acting up.
Is there more laudanum?
BUCHANAN:                      There’s plenty, sir.
(WASHINGTON takes a dose of laudanum.)
WASHINGTON: That’s better. Gentlemen, we are besieged.
An angry crowd has gathered at the gates.
WILSON: We’ll teach them to be civil.
TRUMAN:                                                Give ‘em hell.
NIXON: Is this a mob of journalists and Jews?
WASHINGTON: They seem to come from many walks of life.
NIXON: But art thou sure it’s not some Hebrew plot?
WASHINGTON: Why all these thees and thous? This isn’t Shakespeare.
NIXON: Forgive me, ‘tis the custom of the Quakers.

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Le Scat Noir 216

October 9th, 2016 · 2 Comments

Due to the unusually wacko presidential campaign we are now weathering stateside, Le Scat Noir has released a special Infection issue ahead of schedule. Along with other contributions, some topical, you will find my translations of Erik Satie and Alphonse Allais, as well as another page of my musical instrument designs. It is, as always, free in every sense of the word.

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Le Scat Noir 215

October 3rd, 2016 · 1 Comment

Le Scat Noir #215 is now available, edited by Norman Conquest, and free for all in PDF! Right here! Right now! Hop to it! You’ll find a page of my musical instrument drawings in it, as well as pieces by Conquest, Paulo Brito, Jason Rolfe, and Paul Kavanagh. And remember the Black Scat fundraiser, while you’re at it.

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Frontispiece for “Double Over”

September 18th, 2016 · 2 Comments

Black Scat Books will soon publish my translation of Alphonse Allais’s first book, Double Over: Blackcattish Stories (A se tordre: Histoires chatnoiresques). At my publisher’s request, I drew the following frontispiece for it. Since the stories were taken from Allais’s contributions to Le Chat Noir, the paper published by the cabaret of the same name, I invoked its eponymous black cat, and took the latticework from a photo of its seating. Allais fans will recognize the pictures on the wall, shown at the Incoherents’ Exhibitions of 1882 and 1883: Paul Bilhaud’s Negroes fighting in a tunnel and Allais’s response, First communion of chlorotic girls in the snow.

Double Over should be out next month.


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