Doug Skinner: An Archive on Your Gizmo

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The Snowman Three Doors Down

January 14th, 2018 · No Comments

To whet your appetite, here’s the beginning of the title story from my upcoming collection, The Snowman Three Doors Down. It entwines several subplots, and is the only story I’ve written that uses prosopagnosia as a comic device.


“What’s that picture doing here?” Brick asked, indicating a photo on the wall.
“That’s Hermes, the messenger of the Gods,” his sister Graciana replied.
“No it’s not,” Brick objected. “It’s Mr. Redbean from the hardware store, with a hippie wig.”
“Men wore their hair long in Bible times,” Graciana said.
An hour later, Brick and his parents huddled in the crawlspace under the porch.
“It’s uncomfortable here,” papa complained.
“It smells like mice,” added mama.
“Quiet,” whispered Brick, “or she’ll hear us.”
“What if she did?” papa snapped.
“We have no secrets,” mama said.
Even as she spoke, Graciana’s voice wafted from the back yard.
“I hear voices,” she said.
Her hidden family immobilized, fingers at lips, holding their breaths.
“That’s odd,” Graciana continued, her voice fading as she wandered off.
“She put a picture of Mr. Redbean in the hall upstairs,” whispered Brick.
“From the hardware store?” papa asked.
“He’s a nice young man,” mama said.
“He’s older than I am,” papa objected.
“Age isn’t everything,” simpered mama, squeezing his arm.
“Do you think they’re serious?” asked papa.
“It’s not that,” whispered Brick, “it’s that Hermes business again.”
“Not again,” mama sighed.
“Last month it was some kid from the supermarket,” papa remarked.
“You shouldn’t have bought her that wig,” Brick said accusingly.
“We didn’t get her that,” mama said.
“Then where did she get it?” Brick asked.
Three doors down, Chicky and Chalky lounged on the back porch, snacking on sugar clots and cocoa pickles from a paper bag, and gazing up at the blue August sky.
“I’m bored,” said the latter boy.
“We could throw baseballs at the tree,” suggested Chicky.
“We only have one ball,” objected Chalky.
“We could throw it, pick it up, and then throw it again,” Chicky said. “Taking turns, of course.”
Chalky swallowed another sugar clot. “That sounds boring,” he said.
“I thought you liked boring things,” riposted Chicky, rooting in the bag for another tidbit.
“Often I do,” Chalky replied. “I enjoy repetitive music, for example, and formulaic movies. In the former case, I find the predictability soothing, particularly if I’ve had a trying day at school. And in the latter case, I can identify with the hero without worrying that he’ll do something unexpected that might compromise my sympathy. But in both cases, my role is passive. If I’m performing an activity myself, I prefer more stimulation.”
“I hear you,” answered his confidant. “Well, we could build a snowman.”

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String Quartets

January 2nd, 2018 · No Comments

So far, I’ve written nine string quartets. Here are some descriptions.

<1: AH YOUTH. A few pieces from my teens that I thought worth saving.

1: EDDIE UNCHAINED. A suite drawn from my ventriloquial musical of that name.

2: ROUNDS. Four rounds.

3: ARETINO IN SOLRÉSOL. Five erotic sonnets by Piero Aretino translated into the universal musical language Solrésol.

4: CHORALES. Fourteen brief chorales.

5: TROWIE TUNES. Harmonizations of five “trowie tunes” from the Shetland Islands.

6: PALINDROMES. Palindromic rounds, with added bass lines, descant parts, and other embellishments.

7: VIOLAS. A chorale, round, and tango for four violas.

8: THE MUSIC OF THE SPHERES. An extension of a brief realization of the music of the spheres by Athanasius Kircher.

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Le Scat Noir 231

December 24th, 2017 · No Comments

You can now purchase the latest issue of Le Scat Noir, that being #231 (the Encyclopaedia counts as #230). It contains many funny and delightful things, including my drawings of imaginary musical instruments. It’s over here. A good way to start out the new year!

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Iambic Centameter

December 12th, 2017 · 1 Comment

For The Black Scat Encyclopaedia (see previous post), I contributed several entries on poetics. Here’s one of them:

IAMBIC CENTAMETER: A line of a hundred iambic feet:

Beloved, when I saw you standing there beside that picturesque gazebo by the crumbling garden wall, as bluebirds gaily sang their hearts out high atop the willow tree that spread its branches over the azalea bush, and breezes played around your silken petticoats and ruffled your unruly chestnut hair, I contemplated the expression on your blushing features, shaded by that large but inexpensive hat, adorned with all those garish multicolored feathers dyed with such a startling lack of expertise, and couldn’t help but wonder if you even heard the cheerful warbling of the feathered songsters as they offered their improvisations to the sultry summer morn, or if you stood there lost in some reflection, reverie, or waking trance, and if you even noticed I had fallen down and hurt my leg.

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Le Scat Noir Encyclopaedia

December 4th, 2017 · 3 Comments

Le Scat Noir Encyclopædia offers “All human knowledge in a single volume.” It contains entries from Acrostic to Zwine, and features contributors from around the world—some of whom are distinguished professors at prestigious universities. Others are Nobel Prize winners, while a few have been arrested on felony charges. Discover rare factoids, flash fiction, nubile moon spew, mythological arcana, cabalistic pathogens, pataphysical detritus, scatological schemata, crypto-heuristic scripture, and radical homomorphism. Over 100 pages of profusely illustrated weirdness.

Featuring contributions by Mark Axelrod, Jeff Bagato, Jacques Bekaert, Doktor Bey, Paulo Brito, Adam Levon Brown, Theodore Carter, Brendan Connell, Norman Conquest, Sean Coolican, Catherine D’Avis, Farewell Debut, Edith Doove, Paul Forristal, Ryan A. Forsythe, Peter Gambaccini, Eckhard Gerdes, Amelia Gorman, Thomas Gresham, Charles Holdefer, James R. Hugunin, Harold Jaffe, Richard Kostelanetz, Rachel Kushner, Terri Lloyd, Harry McCullagh, David Macpherson, Opal Louis Nations, Andy O’Clancy, Peter Payack, Caleb Puckett, Jason E. Rolfe, Paul Rosheim, Stephen Silke, Mercie Pedro e Silva, Doug Skinner, Seth D. Slater, Yuriy Tarnawsky, Robert Wexelblatt, Tom Whalen, Gregg Williard, Carla M. Wilson, and D. Harlan Wilson. Edited by Norman Conquest.

My contributions include entries on asemic acrostics, iambic centameter, inflatable prosthetics, quadratic syllogisms, oxymoronic onomatopoeia, and other subjects. It’s published by Black Scat Books, and available on Amazon!

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November 28th, 2017 · 2 Comments

Some more piano music. The opening arpeggio kept nagging at me, so I finally spun it out further.

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Long Live Life!

November 20th, 2017 · No Comments

Long Live Life is now available! It’s my seventh translation of the peerless French humorist Alphonse Allais, a favorite of Surrealists, ‘Pataphysicians, and astute readers everywhere!

This is the first publication in English of the master’s 1892 collection, Vive la Vie! — stories culled from the pages of the legendary Bohemian paper Le Chat Noir, packed with madcap (and bawdy) tales of love, adultery, the supernatural, military life, and fake news. These texts are quintessentially Allaisian, spiked with absurd digressions, parenthetical asides, footnotes, puns, jokes, military jargon, Parisian slang, neologisms, dog Latin, literary quotations, and other unmentionable forms of wordplay. This special Black Scat edition features four additional short stories not included in the original French volume, as well as a lively introduction, illustrations, and fascinating notes on the text by Doug Skinner. Explosions of laughter guaranteed.

You can find it on Amazon, or from Black Scat Books.

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How About a Movie?

November 15th, 2017 · No Comments

I don’t see the point of sitting through a movie, so I wrote a song about it. I hope I made my position clear.

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November 7th, 2017 · No Comments

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but here’s a little song for those who do.

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Le Scat Noir 229

October 31st, 2017 · No Comments

Le Scat Noir #229 is now out, and you’ll probably enjoy it. It’s overflowing with artistic delights, including my parody of Longfellow and Baudelaire, “Hiawatha and the Carcass,” and my usual page of musical instrument drawings. You can get a PDF for a dollar, and it’s over here.

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