Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dicquain Poetry

Since it seems any idiot with any respect as a writer is allowed to do this, I’m going to introduce a new format of poetry. I call it the Dicquain, and it follows this format:

First line: 2 syllables
Second line: 3 syllables, superficially related to the first
Third line: 4 syllables, again superficially related, but with no attempt at narrative or expression
Fourth line: My dick is in a ... write what your dick is in, using as many syllables as you need at this point.

Samples below:

The Whistling Whitmore
                                By Dan Stewart

Darkly scream
Mired in blackness
My dick is in a shoe


 The Martins

                                By Dan Stewart
The Martins
Salesman and wife
My dick is in a living room

Have fun with this, send me yours. Let's make this a thing.

As I Might Have Said

For the time being, I'm putting out an open invitation for guest contributions to Long Lost Bother. Now while we're finding our focus and voice for the sheer entertainment value of the site, please email anything you think will fit to:

Now I might edit the shit out of it just to fit my idea of internet-funny, but you still get full credit as an LLB writer (which is one step above Botherer, which is one step above airline pilot, in the respect of your peers kind of sense).

Long Lost Bother's 10 Scariest Ghost Towns #1

Centralia, Pennsylvania

Coming to the conclusion of the Long Lost Bother Ghost Town World Tour, (and thanks for coming on the ride, guys, how about I start calling you Botherers? would you like that? It could be like our thing), and we’ve seen towns abandoned for all sorts of reasons. Economic downturn, excessive ghosting, radioactive supermonsters (I think, did that happen? Someone read down and report back), we’ve pretty much seen it all.

Except this. A town that closed up shop because the motherfucking gates of hell opened up underneath it and I’m only very slightly exaggerating here!

Very slightly

Where is it?

Centralia is in the US state of Pennsylvania, known mostly for the Amish and being the setting of The Office. If I had a picture of an Amish dude bashfully ogling a receptionist across his desk I’d put it right here. Incidentally, Long Lost Bother could use a staff photoshopper. I can pay a salary of exactly one awesome title (tba) and the loving devotion of about a hundred Botherers (I remembered, you’re welcome).

Hey, where did everybody go?

Well, the town cleared right out after it turned out the earth beneath it was a smoldering hellfire. See, the rich veins of black coal right beneath Centralia are burning as we speak, and have been burning for a long time, and will be burning for a very long time to come. Vents for the smoke and various toxic gasses from the subterranean furnace can and have opened up everywhere, bursting up through quiet town streets, houses, yards. In fact the incident that caused people to start really, really worrying about the foul-smelling coal-gas seeping through the floor was when a suburban backyard opened up its ghastly flaming mouth and tried to swallow a small child.

This was not unprecedented behaviour for the Centralia hellfire though, this occurred not long after the mayor and gas station owner (an enviable job, we can all agree on that) John Coddington discovered something wasn’t quite right under Centralia. See a couple of years earlier, mayor Coddington found the ground around his gas tank was a little warm, and on lowering a thermometer into the tank on a string saw the fuel was fucking near boiling. At which point I’m guessing he slowly backed away from the tank, trying not to slip on the shit undoubtably running down his trousers.

The town was evacuated 1984, probably because the US government saw the effort being far cheaper than introducing health care cover from toxic gas inhalation and the burning jaws of a fiery underground earth-devil.

Why it’s scary as hell

Seen the movie Silent Hill? It’s based on this actual, really totally real town. And maybe a little on the video game.

There are a few conflicting theories over what exactly happened to make Centralia become a burning-hot toxic waste-town.

1. The annual burning-of-the-town-garbage ceremony (this is a real thing) went badly wrong when the trash-fire ignited a coal-vein beneath the town in approximately 1962. Plausible.
2. Volcanic activity a long way beneath the Centralia set the subterranean coal deposits on fire a really, really long time ago (talking millennia here) and it’s only recently smoldered up close enough to the surface to start pouring coal gasses up into unsuspecting households. Also plausible.
3. Nash’ashthul the Foul saw a small Pennsylvanian township and thought “I shall make this den of lesser beings my fucking lunch”. Pretty much the best explanation anyone's come up with.

Whatever the explanation, the Centralia coal fire is spreading relentlessly. Nobody quite knows the extent of the vast coal deposit that continues to burn hungrily, but it’s expected to reach several other small towns in the next few decades. There’s no way to stop the Centralia devil-fire, and no reason not to expect it to lunge up under your suburb any day now.

So here we are at the end of this long and terrifying road. And once again I'd like to thank the small but growing number of you following alongside me. The internet ain't a lonely place with you guys around.

I have a special invitation to all my Botherers out there. I want you guys to help choose the direction Long Lost Bother takes from here on. More comics made with semi-obscure celebrities lashed together into untoward situations? More long-winded journeys through shit you want to know? More recipes? Is that want you want from me?

I'm easy. Got some bit of writing you want read by more than five people? Let's talk.


Gentleman Dan

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Long Lost Bother's 10 Scariest Ghost Towns #2

Wittenoom, Australia

Where is it?
A small city in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. In its heyday during the 1950s had over 20,000 residents, largely employed at the Wittenoom Gorge asbestos mine.

Hey, where did everybody go?
Back in the mid-20th century, nobody had yet figured out that breathing asbestos dust is really, really bad for you. Wittenoom was a help in discovering that fact when over 1,000 residents died from asbestos-related. Former residents are still dying and presumably cursing the name of that blue dust hell.
By 1966, the town had been deserted except for eight residents who evidently believe that functioning lungs are for pussies.
Officially removed from the maps in 2007

Why it’s scary as hell

Holy fuck! There’s still so much asbestos dust in the air that it settles on the ground in a toxic blue carpet! Lying on your back and making “asbestos angels” might not quite be worth the slow choking death.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Long Lost Bother's 10 Scariest Ghost Towns #3

Mayak, Russia

Where is it?

Near the town of Kyshtym, deep in the Ural mountains of Russia.

Hey, where did everybody go?

Running on a theme from last entry, here’s another cautionary tale on being really, really careful with atomic power. In this case, the Mayak facility was built to produce nuclear weapons for the Soviets to point angrily at North America in the early Cold War. And it was built to do so quickly and cheaply. Warning lights going off yet? Well initially, the Mayak complex happily dumped all its radioactive waste byproducts into the nearest river, until someone had the bright idea of putting in storage tanks. Great idea, right? Way better than risking gigantic mutant beavers storming up from downriver. Except when one of the tanks exploded, hurling the waste in a 350km radius.

10,000 people were quickly evacuated from Mayak. And by quickly, I mean after around 200 people literally melted from the insane level of radioactivity. In an actual quote from journalist Richard Pollock, “…victims were seen with skin 'sloughing off' their faces, hands and other exposed parts of their bodies”

Why it’s scary as hell

All this happened in 1957, but nobody knew about it for decades afterwards. Think about that. The Soviet government successfully covered up the close second- or worst (depending on your scale of worseness) nuclear disaster in history for almost 30 years. How awesome at secret-keeping would a government have to be to pull this shit off? The US government couldn’t even keep a blanket on their secret project at Area 51 (the Lockheed Blackbird, dumbass, not whatever you’re imagining right now) for more than a few years, and the Russians could keep Mayak under their hat for long enough that it was barely news anymore when the truth finally came out. Which begs the question, why didn’t the Russians fake a moon landing? They clearly had the balls to pull it off.

I’ll leave you with just one more chilling fact. After dissident Russian scientist Zhores Medvedev blew the whistle on the Mayak/Kyshtym disaster, the almost-complete documentation on the event wouldn’t see the light until the collapse of the Soviet empire. But even then, a few details remain classified by the Russian government, and one of those details is just what happened to the evacuees. Could this mean there are currently 10,000 radioactive zombies prowling the Urals to this day? I’ll leave that one up to you guys.

Long Lost Bother's 10 Scariest Ghost Towns #4

Pripyat, Ukraine

Where is it?

The Kiev region of Ukraine. Built under the Soviet regime in 1970 as a planned community for the workers of the nearby power station.

Hey, where did everybody go?

If you hadn’t heard of Pripyat before, but the words “power station” tipped you off, then you can guess exactly where this is going. The power station in question was the notorious Chernobyl nuclear reactor complex and Pripyat was hastily evacuated in 1986 when reactor #4 blew the fuck up, and forever linked the words “nuclear” and “meltdown” to the “pants-shitting terror” gland in the brain of almost every human being on the planet.

Why it’s scary as hell

Places with ominous names like The Zone shouldn’t exist in real life, that’s supposed to be restricted only to cheesy sci-fi horror scenarios.

But Pripyat and the surrounding Zone is a post-apocalyptic nightmare. As you would expect, Pripyat is incredibly radioactive. Certain areas have far more concentrated contamination than others, with strong enough radiation to kill you within minutes. Many of these are where equipment from the reactor were buried, and nobody is quite sure where all of these spots are anymore. 

Biologically, the whole area around Pripyat has gone back to the dark ages. Wolves, wild boars, feral dogs freely roam and would be more than happy to maul the shit out of would-be sightseers.
Oh, and the squatters who bravely live in The Zone and have been known to shoot intruders on site after years of being hassled by police and military to move out of the most radioactive place on Earth.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Long Lost Bother's 10 Scariest Ghost Towns #5

Kolmanskop, Namibia

Where is it?
Kolmanskop, and nearby Elizabethtown, were mining towns built by German prospectors in the Namibia. The harsh desert environment was little deterrent to the greedy eyes of investors after the reward of shiny, shiny piles of diamonds.

This was totally worth it.

Hey, where did everybody go?
After World War I, diamond prices dropped dramatically, and the companies behind the operation decided there probably were cheaper ways of getting their mitts on more precious bling. By 1956, the town was completely abandoned.

Why it’s scary as hell
Since then, the desert has been quickly taking it back. Most of the buildings are knee-deep in sand, and will eventually be swallowed entirely. Kolmanskop is a stark reminder that if humans went extinct tomorrow the planet wouldn’t give a shit, and in time wipe its ass of every trace of our existence. That’s cold.

Long Lost Bother's 10 Scariest Ghost Towns #6

San Zhi, Taiwan

Where is it?
San Zhi was a planned resort town on the North coast of Taiwan. Being right on the beach, futuristic “pod” apartments and just a short drive from Taipei, San Zhi should have been a huge hit as a holiday destination.

Hey, where did everybody go?
Nobody showed up in the first place, as the resort was never completed. Not much is known about the circumstances leading to the whole project being ditched, but it is known that there were a series of fatal accidents during construction.

Why it’s scary as hell
It just looks fucking weird. Looks kind of like gigantic biomechanical alien eggs. Looks kind of like gigantic biomechanical alien eggs that have already hatched.

The fact that little detail has ever been made public about the fatalities, the abandonment or even who the architect behind San Zhi was, there’s a pretty strong case it actually was from fucking outer space.