How I Lost my Head

How I Lost my Head

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Painting by Alan M. Clark

Remember how your mother said, “You’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached to your neck.” It’s true…at least for me and the time I did in fact lose my head.

Here goes: First year medical students are given two black boxes on the first day of anatomy class. One contains a human skeleton, and the other, about the size of a basketball, holds a real skull. Papers are signed and you swear to guard them with your life.

What many don’t know is the first two years of medical school vacillate between boredom and pre-test panic. The lectures are often with professors forced to teach and the material is dry as dirt. So…in my class of 100, very few went to the lectures. Instead, we’d take turns transcribing detailed notes and then copy and distribute them for studying.

It was my turn, the subject was genetics; it was painfully dull. I dutifully wrote up my eight pages of notes with illustrations, and on my way home from lab stopped at Kinkos to make copies. All was well until my study buddy showed up for some mutual grilling on what all those hole in the human skull are called. I looked around. “Oh crap!” I’d left my head at the copy shop. I called.

“Hi, did someone leave a black box about the size of a basketball?”

“Let me check…why yes there’s one in the window.”

“Awesome! I’ll be right down. And whatever you do…don’t open it.”

Next time, how I lost my rat on a NYC subway.

 

Caleb James’s Flea Market Karma

So here’s today’s Flea Market Karma story:
Three years back I’m prowling the market and I find these two bizarre surrealist paintings. The dealer tells me they’re by a famous artist, Alan M. Clark, who’s done work for Stephen King and many others. I think, yeah right. I buy the smaller of the two, though I immediately regretted not getting both. (I went back the following week and bought it.)
I get home and do what one does, look up the artist and friend him on Facebook. It went something like, “Hi, you don’t know me and… I just purchased one of your paintings at a local (CT) flea market. I have a bead on a second, don’t know if I have the wall space, but love all of the gruesome whimsy. I’m also a writer–both fiction and non-fiction–and appreciate great cover art.” I have to admit that once I knew he was the real deal I had concerns the paintings were stolen.
Alan responded confirmed they were both his. I learned he’d painted them decades earlier, had sold them, and had never been fully paid. We’ll call the culprit Mr. X.
At the time I was working on HAFFLING, and queried Alan about doing the cover. He said yes, and has just delivered the second painting for my upcoming paranormal thriller DARK BLOOD. I couldn’t be happier and love the old-school approach to cover art—an actual painting.


The punchline to this, was provided by a friend of Alan’s, after he’d mentioned how I’d found his paintings and he was now doing my Caleb James covers, ‘Thirty years later and you finally got paid for Mr. X’s paintings.’HafflingFS

Psychiatrist Caleb James Discusses Five Disorders Afflicting the Fey

Psychiatrist and author Caleb James discusses mental disorders afflicting the fey.

As one of the lead authors of the soon to be released DSMF-125 (125th edition of the Dry and Seriously Muddled Conditions Afflicting the Fey), I wanted to take this opportunity to explore five of the most-common psychiatric disorders affecting the fey and/or caused by the fey.

  1. Changeling Disorder and Changeling Delusional Disorder:

Changeling Disorder and Changeling Delusional Disorder are often confused. In brief, Changeling Disorder involves the actual replacement of a human child by the fey with a soulless replacement i.e. the changeling. This replacement can be created from flesh of the stolen child or by substituting a hobgoblin or young gremlin.

Dr James with  newborn hobgoblin

In contrast, Changeling Delusional Disorder, is the false belief that all of your younger siblings, especially those that embarrass you in front of your boyfriend, have been replaced by soulless changelings. Differentiating between the two conditions is best done at the full moon, when hobgoblins and gremlins will reveal their true form (see picture). If the child still looks like your little brother or sister, then they are in fact not a changeling. If you still think they are, you are certifiably insane and will need to go on medication. I know this, because I’m a psychiatrist.

 

  1. Pixielation Disorder (PD): First described over two-thousand years ago by artist and court physician, Alan M. Clark, Pixielation Disorder is when one is besieged or swarmed by pixies. This occurs in both humans and fey, and is the result of damaging toadstool circles, or inadvertently treading on a soft spot between the realms of the See and the UnSee. The symptoms of Pixielation Disorder are extreme: rending off the flesh, howling like a banshee, dancing like a spaz in front of the boy of your dreams, hallucinating murderous glass clowns, and running in circles until the victim vomits uncontrollably.

However, once diagnosed Pixielation Disorder is easily treated by leaving savory, high caloric foods for the rampaging pixies. I recommend Swedish meatballs, or General Tso’s Chicken, pepperoni pizza works, as well.

  1. Brownie Eating Disorder (BED): The tragic rise of Brownie Eating Disorder, which largely affects trolls and ogres (and of course, the unfortunate brownies), can be directly traced to unrealistic portrayals of the Fey as being ethereally beautiful, with the bodies of Calvin Klein underwear models. Brownie Eating Disorder involves the frequent (multiple times per week) and uncontrollable ingestion of entire colonies of brownies, followed by vomiting them back up. This is accompanied by intense feelings of shame and guilt.

While there are no proven cures for Brownie Eating Disorder, some forms of group therapy currently being studied show promise.  As for the digested and regurgitated brownies, aside from post-traumatic stress disorder, most of them are good as new after a shower.

  1. Spriteful Personality Disorder: This is an obnoxious and persistent pattern of maladaptive behavior where the individual only experiences pleasure when pranking others and making them miserable. In particular, fey with this disorder are happiest when their intended victims are drenched after they’ve been pelted senseless with water balloons, are pea green−literally−after food dye has been added to their acne cream, or are covered with welts following the generous application of itching powder into a jockstrap. People with this disorder, have little sense of humor when the tables are turned, and become violent when they are pranked.

Sadly, there is no cure for this disorder and severe cases should be chained up in dark basements.

  1. Fairy Dust Use Disorder (Formerly Fairy Dust Abuse and Dependence): There has been an alarming increase in the abuse of fairy dust, with all of the well-known and negative consequences−falling in love with the first person or animal you see, and the kissing of enchanted frogs, with the resultant rise in unemployed handsome princes, who’ve become a tremendous drain on fey resources.

    nightfrog 2.jpg
    How many unemployed handsome princes can our society support?

Treatment of Fairy Dust Disorders is best accomplished in specialized rehab facilities, where the violent−and frankly icky−withdrawal symptoms (hiccoughs, explosive diarrhea, copious snot production, volcanic zits, and speaking in rhymes) can be safely managed. Relapses are common and peer support organization, such as Dusters Anonymous can offer much needed support.

I hope the above overview of five common fey maladies has been informative and enlightening.  If you, or someone you love, has been afflicted by one of these disorders, remember there is always hope, and be sure to seek appropriate treatment.

Warmly:

Caleb

Dr. Caleb James

The Center for Fairy Development

Professor of Psychiatry, the University of Unsee

Author of HAFFLING