Archive for the ‘weird stuff’ Category

Ouroboros – more than just a worm

August 5, 2020


As a teenager I read The Worm Ouroboros by ER Eddison, in which the Lords of Demonland battle against the devilish King Gorice of Witchland. This followed on from reading the fantasy fest of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings (the latter read in the form of a ripped up copy of all three works in a single-volume paperback shared between a bunch of pals).

Coming across this advert for The Worm Ouroboros in a 1971 copy of Oz magazine (number 38, September) brought all this teenage history back. And I’ve now learned that Eddison was a British civil servant.

The promotional quote in the advert – ‘a literary event of the first importance’ – looks to be from a reviewer with a made-up name, Orville Prescott.

In fact, Prescott was the leading book reviewer on the New York Times from 1942 to 1966. He will have been just 16 in 1922 when The Worm was published by Jonathan Cape in London with illustrations by Keith Henderson, so it’s not clear when the comment was written. Most probably, it was a 1952 hardback edition, with an introduction by Prescott. 

So, I read them in the wrong order, because the first publication of The Worm predates Tolkien’s Hobbit by 15 years; and the Rings did not appear until 1954.

Like Tolkien’s works, there is a sense of the Norse about The Worm, but then Eric Rücker Eddison was a Viking enthusiast alongside his career in the Board of Trade. And he was well ahead of the fantasy curve, with another work, his Zimiamvian trilogy, coming out between 1935 and 1958.

He also mixed with the Inklings, the Oxford-based literary discussion group that included both Tolkien and CS Lewis, author of the Narnia books.

Today, The Worm has been scanned and can be read free online.

The name ouroboros comes from the motif of a snake or dragon biting its own tail and forming a circle, an image that goes back to the ancient Egyptians. The symbol denotes eternity, along with love or mourning, and was made fashionable by Queen Victoria in the 1840s. Today, Ouroboros is the name of a software protocol underlying one of the most fashionable of financial experiments, the Cardano cryptocurrency.


Spooky picture of my jet in the clouds

October 4, 2015
Enhanced spooky picture of my jet in clouds

Enhanced spooky picture of my jet in the clouds below

This is a spooky photograph I took out of the window of a jet coming back from a guest lecturing stint at a Swiss university a while back. It’s been cropped and enhanced slightly to show the sun and jet more clearly; the non-enhanced version is below.

What it shows is the shadow of the plane I’m in and the disc of the sun behind it. But the image is taken looking away from the sun, which is above and behind the jet. So, why can the sun be seen rather than just the jet’s shadow? It must be a weird atmospheric effect whereby the sun is reflected in the clouds.

The enhanced version makes it look as if there is a faint rainbow around the sun disc.

The effect was visible for several minutes, certainly long enough to get my camera out and take the photo.

Spooky picture of a jet in clouds - taken from the jet being photographed!

Spooky picture of a jet in clouds – taken from the jet being photographed!


Supermoon eclipse – and vampire magazine Bite Me fetches £21

September 28, 2015
Bite Me vampire magazine cover from summer

Bite Me vampire magazine: note the cover line: Ingrid Pitt rides again

Can it be a coincidence that tonight is the supermoon eclipse and last week a copy of the first issue of vampire magazine Bite Me fetched £21 on eBay? The main cover feature being: Ingrid Pitt screams again – the Anglo-Polish actress known as ‘Hammer Films’ most seductive female vampire’.

While tonight promises a blood-red lunar eclipse not seen since 1982 and not to be repeated until 2033, the magazine promised:

If you like vampires, the supernatural and things that go bump in the night, Bite Me is the magazine for you.
We’ve got interviews with real-life vampire hunters, features on famous film classics of the past Hammer Scream Queens, with Ingrid Pitt in the launch issue, plus all the latest horror movies, books and video releases.
Our team of roving investigators search out the world’s spookiest corners and we report on special events like the World Dracula Congress. We’ll even tell you if your neighbour is a werewolf!

Bite Me aimed to have readers glancing nervously out the window come dusk and hanging strings of garlic on their doors, with contents such as an interview with New York vampires and how to become a werewolf. Stuck to the cover were trading cards based on the Hammer Horror films.

Do they make them like this any more?