Rough Trails and Shallow Graves named a Kirkus best book of 2014!

The third annual cool stuff we read (and recommend) in 2014 list

Requirements for this list: great prose and good storytelling for both fiction and non-fiction, and — when the last page is turned ­— something within us should be changed: an opinion, an understanding, a geographic point of view, a cultural appreciation, or if it’s really good, a revelation. These listed books — presented in no particular order — leap over one or all of these criteria. We don’t worry about when they were published, only that either Kathleen or the Cowboy read the book in 2014. We offer thanks (with a little wide-eyed envy, at least on Kathleen’s part, the Cowboy never gets jealous) to these sixteen writers.

Back to Back back to back
Julia Franck, Grove Press
Sister and brother Ella and Thomas are innocent, young and happy children when post-World War II’s newly borne East Germany begins its descent into isolation, paranoia and institutionalized cronyism. Even as a translation from the German, a nearly perfect and wrenching book. Not to be missed. Read the rest of this entry »

Shrooms with a view: Welcome to the psychedelic toolkit

Stylized image of hyperconnected neural networks, from Wired Magazine,

A new imaging study shows that people tripping on magic mushrooms have a “hyperconnected” brain, creating temporary networks between regions that don’t typically communicate with each other. Another recent study showed that the “hot” neural areas for mushroom trippers are associated with emotion and memory, specifically in discrete areas usually most active when we dream, the same areas some people call proto-evolutionary, meaning, the roots of human consciousness.

Many of us who have experienced trips understand this on some instinctive level, though we may not have articulated it well. And that’s probably how these studies came to be. Eventually, enough trippers, writers, philosophers, dreamers and other people say things about their experiences, a hypothesis is articulated and a study is designed to explore the underpinnings of that which people have experienced. Put data on it. Categorize it. Prove it. Regulate it. That’s the way science progresses.

With human consciousness, however, this process has been halting and labored. In part, it’s because of the challenge to the buttoned-up establishment that psychedelics posed when they first emerged as a tool to manipulate our senses in the 1960s and 1970s. Timothy Leary and his ilk started down a path of inquiry that was cut off hard by the criminalization of this class of drugs. Read more of this post>>

Art attack! #50daysofFiverr

Day 50!  Love this sketch of Clark and Kathleen driving off into the blue sky somewhere in the vast American west. Woof! Rex running to keep up. It’s a good life…this 50th day artist is “dougmcclain” working from Canada.  See all the 50 gigs here

Day 50

The backstory: We stumbled across Fiverr a few months ago and were blown away by the orgy of creativity pooled there under the rubric of $5 bucks gets you a ticket in, a taste and a tease of talent. Obsessed at first sight, we traded our good sense and used up our (sadly, limited) marketing budget on 50 talented (and a few eccentric) artists, asking them to focus their creative juices on The Cowboy and the Vampire. Total = $250. Why?

Because it’s fun. ART ATTACK! Rap, video, puppetry, poetry, performance art, faux-newscasts and cartoons (lots of cartoons) from artists working in LA, the Philippines, London, Mumbai and more.  We were fucking blown away. You will be too. The show commenced on October 1. One gig a day.  See all the gigs posted here, one new one each day.  And follow at #50daysofFiverr.

Oh, and yea, we’re running a contest. We’re tracking retweets, facebook shares and Instagram likes. For each one, you’ll be entered into a drawing at day 50 for a $50 gift certificate at the vendor of your choice! So for 50 days, be inspired and amazed, and share the love. Share the art love!

Why we write: The zombie in the coal mine

An eerie similarity of hands.

An enumerated essay about six pop mythical creatures that are really cultural environmental indicators in disguise, thus illuminating the portentous power of gothic fiction to reflect (create?) a collective state of cultural awareness on important issues of the day. SHAZAM! 

One: Big Foot aficionados (and their Yeti-loving cousins) are not crazy. Data suggest their obsession reflects a naïve hopefulness that an intelligent, gentle, human-like species could still live freely, deep in the primeval forest, having cunningly escaped the steady oppressive march of human civilization and its relentless takeover of nature. The back-of-the-envelope monster metadata analysis being reported here first gained momentum … Read more about BF and his pals >>