The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil

Strolling through my Barnes and Noble, I stumbled across a graphic novel called “The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil.” How could I resist? Not only was it a beard. But it was an evil beard to boot.

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The graphic novel, but Stephen Collins, is a tranquil journey through a surreal word. I want to liken it to  Terry Gilliam or Tim Burton, but the experience isn’t that overt or obvious. The book’s tag line perhaps says it best — The job of skin is to keep it all in. Here, the skin means the skin of the world. Normalcy. The job of normalcy is to keep all the weird and frightening stuff in, so you don’t have to experience it. In this sense, the book take on a bit of the Cthulhu mythology. Only instead of a tentacled cephalopod, we get a massive black beard (which is evil, don’t forget).

Collins does a wonderful job of setting up the back story. Our protagonist, Dave, is totally bald and hairless, except for a single hair. This makes his eventual bearddom even more of a 180. This would be wonderful foreshadowing if the book title and image didn’t already let you know that the beard is, in fact, coming.

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Even so, I like how the Collins explains his world and gives its limitations, letting the reader know what’s at stake. For example, everyone in this graphic novel lives in a place called Here. It’s very similar to where you live, in fact. Only Here is an island surrounded by There. There is the unknown. The chaotic. The untidy.

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The image of Here versus There brings to mind the Greek idea of the beginning of the world.

Chaos

Tidiness seems to be a prevalent theme in the book. many pages and images are devoted to the tidying of the streets and the people. Gradually, as the evil beard makes its presence known, untidiness happens.

Dave’s only source of joy is sitting by his window and sketching the passersby (all while listening to the Bangles “Eternal Flame” on repeat). After he grows his beard, he notices how similar all the people are, and by contrast, how different he’s become.

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But this difference was there all along. Hidden beneath the skin of his dreams. He’s always heard the voices of There, hissing into his brain, bringing untidy thoughts.

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Of course, along with the brilliant story, we have Collins’s astounding artwork. His visuals aptly capture the serene creepiness of chaos leaking into the world.

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I highly recommend this book. Buy it and give it a good read through. You won’t regret it. Even if you are clean shaven.

Tim Kane

Eat Your Undertale Obsession: Spider Cider

Still salivating for Undertale, but don’t want to jump on the Genocide bandwagon? Maybe you can whet your appetite through foodstuffs. Yes, it’s another recipe from the amazing Toby Fox game, Undertale. If you haven’t yet played this wonderful game, be aware there are spoilers in this post.

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I’ve had my share of apple ciders before, so I know the recipe isn’t difficult. But 9999 gold? Come on Muffet. That’s price gouging. You know we all scrounged to pay for it, just to avoid having to fight you. And for the record, I never stepped on any spiders.

Most cider recipes are pretty basic. Apple cider (or apple juice) jazzed up with some spices. I like this recipe by Pretty Cake Machine because she adds an amazing sugar spiderweb to the top of her spider ciders. Check it out:

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All right, because I love these cider webs so much, I’m going to give you the recipe for the cider here, but you’ll have to go to Pretty Cake Machine for the instructions on how to make the webs.

SPIDER CIDER

  • 1 quart apple cider
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 allspice berries
  • 10 cloves
  • 1 small orange, slices
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  1. In a large saucepan, combine the first group of ingredients. Heat on low for 30-40 minutes or until steaming nicely; do not bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and strain the cider to remove all the spices.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the berries and sugar with 2 tbsp of the mulled cider and bring to a boil. Boil for about 3 minutes, stirring regularly, until the berries have broken down. Mash the berries thoroughly, then run the syrup through a sieve to remove the berry skins. Stir the blueberry syrup into the mulled cider.

Enjoy,

Tim Kane

 

 

Eat Your Undertale Obsession: Spider Cider Doughnuts

I’ve spent the past month playing through Toby Fox’s Undertale. Twice. If you’ve never heard of the game, go check it out. It’s amazingly addictive.

Be aware. If you haven’t played Undertale yet, they may be some minor spoilers in this post.

Anyway, I played with my daughter (she actually did all the work). We ran the neutral route first, not knowing that you could spare people. We ended up killing Toriel, which haunted us for weeks. Finally, we restarted and ran a pacifist route.

On our second try at the game, I noticed how many food items were scattered around the Underground. Of course, we snatched up as many as possible to be able to survive some of those boss fights. (Ahh Mettaton!)

Then I discovered that recipes for these foodstuffs exist all over the Internet. So I thought I’d collect them here.

First off, we have Muffet’s Spider Cider doughnuts

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We never got a chance to try these because we only encountered them outside of Muffit’s lair. If you’ve played the game, you know that here they cost 9999 gold. Too rich for my blood.

Spider Cider Doughnuts

Spider Cider Doughnuts

I found this recipe on Jaybug Jimmie’s Web but the recipe is originally from toxiccaves. The recipe is shown below. I added the salt because, as a home baker, I know salt enhances the flavor of the other ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons of apple sauce
  • 4 tablespoons of apple cider
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons of vegetable oil
  • Purple food coloring (a mix of red and blue)
  • Sprinkles

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 325° F.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, salt.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl: applesauce, apple cider, milk, oil, and vanilla extract.
  4. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ones, and mix. Once thoroughly blended together, add a few drops of purple food coloring until the batter is the right shade of purple.
  5. Pour the batter into a donut pan, (or a muffin tray is a fine substitute) and then pop it in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until a toothpick test comes out clean.
  6. Once they are done and have cooled down, roll them in a cinnamon sugar, or a glaze (made of powdered sugar and water).
  7. To decorate, look for spider-shaped sprinkles (best available at Halloween time), or use black and purple ones. Black sugar crystals will melt into the donuts a bit and make it look like you have tiny spiders baked into the dough.

You can choose to sell your spider cider doughnuts in the ruins for a reasonable price, or jack it up just outside Muffet’s lair. Stay tuned for a Spider Cider recipe.

Tim Kane

The History of the Trump Cards Giveaway

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Ceccoli has long been one of my most favorite artists. What a joy that I discovered a tarot deck has been created form her art. Win a set of Ceccoli Tarot cards and help support my blog post with Biddy Tarot on the History of the Trump Cards.

Book Blurb

When Kassandra Troy discovers an ancient tarot deck, her life takes a thrilling and frightening turn. She triggers The Magician card, and releases the mysterious and captivating Luke Rykell. He lifts Kassandra out of despair, dispelling the devastation she feels after her father’s death. But Luke has a dark secret. He wants the magical deck for himself. The only way Kassandra can save herself is to journey into the Tarot cards. But once inside, can she ever escape?

Irresistibly compelling and heart-wrenching, Tarot: The Magician is a superb fantasy tale that will haunt you long after you’ve read the last page.

Download the ebook from AmazonBarnes and Noble and Smashwords. Not sure? Read a free sample here. Or click on the fancy schmancy button below.

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Tarot Book Trailer

I worked for over two months drawing and coloring the panels you see in this trailer. I wanted it to be as special as the book. However, I was daunted by the music. I’m no musician. However, if it were silent, or had canned music, that would undermine all the hard work I put into the animation. Bradley Coy came to my rescue. For the full story on how the theme for the book trailer was created, read A Theme Song for an ebook.

Book Reviews

Don’t trust me. Here are readers who have read and commented on the book.

“I especially enjoyed Kassandra’s journey through the cards as she tries to solve the problems she’s faced with and find her way out. And the ending gives me hope for a sequel (or a series?)” by Tara at Dividing by Zero

Giveaway Details

By helping me promote Tarot: The Magician, you get your own set of astounding Ceccoli tarot cards. I’ll mail them to the winner after the April 10th deadline. Click this LINK or anywhere on the image below to take you to enter the giveaway. Hurry, this event ends Friday, April 10th!

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