John Farrier's Liked Blog Posts

Social Network Paper Planes

Want to like someone, but he's not on Facebook? Want to mark something about her as a favorite but she's not on Twitter? Now you've got an option. Social Planes are paper airplanes marked with the colors and logos of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and SnapChat. You can download them for free as PDF files here.

It's a project by designers Rafael Ochoa, Caio Andrade, and Linn Livijn Wexell. They're interested in promoting the idea of getting offline and experiencing life beyond screens. Here's a video showing how people in a park responded when they received these offline notifications.

(Video Link)

We're not a social network, but you should feel free to print out a Neatorama post and throw it at someone.

-via Nerdcore

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RIP, The Last of the Navajo Code Talkers

(Photo: Jake Schoellkkopf/Los Angeles Times)

During World War II, the United States searched for means to protect its secret military communications in the Pacific from being intercepted by the Japanese. In 1942, the Marine Corps discovered a brilliant way of doing just that: recruiting men of the Navajo Nation to speak in their own language, which was unknown to the Japanese.

(Photo: US Navy)

The Navajo Code Talkers, as these 400 Marines came to be known, contributed to Allied victories in the Pacific. Because their code was never broken, it could be used again. So the program was not declassified until 1968. It was only in 1992 that the code talkers were honored collectively for their work.

The last member of this team, Chester Nez, died today at the age of 93. Nez was among the first Navajo men to join the program. The Los Angeles Times reports:

In his memoirs, Nez said he knew he made the right decision to join the fight.

“I reminded myself that my Navajo people had always been warriors, protectors," he said. "In that there was honor. I would concentrate on being a warrior, on protecting my homeland. Within hours, whether in harmony or not, I knew I would join my fellow Marines in the fight."

The code, which they had to memorize, was based on a system in which the Navajos used their own words to substitute for the 26 letters in the English alphabet. For example, the word "wol-la-chee" means "ant" and it might have stood for the letter A in a coded message.

Because the Navajos had no words applicable to modern warfare, they settled on hundreds of descriptive words in their own language.

A tank was a tortoise; a submarine, an iron fish; a dive bomber, a chicken hawk; a grenade, a potato; a battleship, a whale. Bombs were eggs, and the commanding general a war chief.

-via Marilyn Terrell

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This Amazing Artist Does Freehand Tattoos--No Stencils or Sketches

Jay Freestyle says, "Give me a piece of your skin and I'll give you a piece of my soul." Other artists might hesitate to work so unrestrained in a medium so permanent. Yet this self-taught artist living in Amsterdam has proven that he can render beautiful tattoos without stencils or sketches.

But wait--wouldn't a client want to go into a tattoo with a clear plan of the outcome? Maybe at the beginning. But Jay Freestyle knows how to build up trust:

People try to come to Jay with extremely detailed ideas, but after talking it through and hearing his extreme knowledge about aesthetics, placement, colouring, size and symbolism; almost all turn around and say: 'Go for it, I trust you blindly' - and he never disappoints.

He regularly tattoos first timers who feel no fear and fully trust in his respect and understanding of his clients' wishes.

You can see more of his work here.

-via Twisted Sifter

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Tell Her You Love Her with Flowers

(Safely Endangered/Chris McCoy)

It's a traditional way to express your romantic feelings. You can also give chocolate, which slowly rots and becomes bitter over time. Next step: propose marriage.

-via Pleated Jeans

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Prison Inmates form a Labor Union

(Photo: Neil Conway)

Inmates at the Berlin Tegel jail in Germany have to work at regular shifts inside the prison. To many of them, this makes them not just prisoners, but employees. So they've formed a union to represent their interests as workers.

Starting next year, Germany will have a minimum hourly wage of approximately $11.56 (USD). But prisoners at the jail earn only about $12-20 per day. So the prisoners hope that their union will raise their wages and provide for a pension scheme so that elderly inmates do not emerge from prison penniless. This is important to them because under the current law, prisoners are not allowed to participate in Germany's national pension plan. Philip Olterman of The Guardian describes the history of prison labor organization:

While there have been past attempts to set up union-like structures within prison walls, they have usually been short-lived and ceased to exist once individual inmates were released. In Britain, an organisation called Preservation of the Rights of Prisoners (PROP) was set up in the early 1970s but eventually faded away.

On Tuesday, Rast's cell was searched by prison staff, who reportedly confiscated documents relating to the foundation of the union. Rast was sentenced to prison in 2009 for his involvement in the leftwing organisation militante gruppe, which committed a series of arson attacks on government buildings between 2001 and 2009.

-via Marginal Revolution

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Snorlax Bed

We've seen Snorlax floor pillows and beanbag chairs. But I don't think that we're even close to peak Snorlax. Etsy seller Catherine Kim made made this bed that's perfect for a young Pokémon trainer. It's almost 6 feet long. That's a great start. Now let's see one that's the same dimensions as a king-size mattress!

-via Toxel

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Adorable Pig Plays a Toy Piano and Guitar

(Video Link)

(Video Link)

Thimble the pig has big dreams. She wants to be a rockstar. Specifically, she wants to play in a band with punk and alternative rocker Dave Hause. Her skills need a bit of work--especially on the guitar. But a pretty face alone can take a person a long way. Maybe that will be enough to land her a debut album.

-via Incredible Things

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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Literal Grammar Nazis

Apparently if you're a member of the master race, you've got to demonstrate a proper command of the English language. The American Nazi Party tweeted out this message to its members. Presumably some of them were able to read it.

-via Geekosystem

View more fun pics over at our NeatoPicto Blog

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The Vampire and the Barber

It's not easy being a vampire because people can treat you cruelly. But as Chris Hallbeck points out, you must have a trusting relationship with at least one person: your barber.

You also have to shave carefully. The mirror thing seems like a small problem, but it gets to be a hassle.

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Company Names a Computer Program to Its Board of Directors

(I Heart Robots t-shirt now on sale at the NeatoShop)

Deep Knowledge Ventures is a venture capital investment firm in Hong Kong. It's governed by a board of directors that decides if it should invest in particular projects.

The newest member of that board is VITAL, a computer program that examines data about potential projects and considers their prospects as investment opportunities. Like the other members of the board, this program will get to vote. Jordyn Taylor of Beta Beat explains:

Yes, that means it’ll have exactly the same power as a living, breathing, presumably college-educated human being.

VITAL uses machine learning to predict which life science companies will make for successful investments, the press release explains. That’s why it’ll be of use to Deep Knowledge Ventures, which “routinely invest[s] in both private and public companies specializing in biotechnology, regenerative medicine, oncology, drug discovery, bioinformatics and personalized medicine,” according to their website.

We’re trying to imagine what Deep Knowledge’s future board meetings will look like. Will there be ten humans sitting around a table, plus one awkward computer just tryin’ to fit in? When all the board members are going out for after-work drinks — will they feel obligated to invite VITAL along?

What would it be like to have a robotic co-worker? Or a robotic boss?

(Video Link)

Jonathan Coulton warned us where this leads.

-via Marginal Revolution

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Attack on Titan Nails

Color's, a beauty salon, makes incredible works of nail art. Many of the nails they will put on your fingers are inspired by the hit anime series Attack on Titan. I'm particularly impressed with how the beauticians rendered the Colossal Titan. Like the skinless monster on the show, they're slightly disgusting.

The artists haven't limited themselves to Attack on Titan. You can see nails inspired by Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, Kill La Kill, and other anime series at Crunchyroll.

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The Hunting Trophies

Arminas Stanulevičius is an artist in Vilnius, Lithuania. I found these works of his particularly striking. At the top we have a morbid monument to Mickey Mouse that is made partially of mouse traps. Below we have a jackahuman that some hunter thought worthy of mounting, though it is only a four-pointer.

Content warning: some of the art on Stanulevičius's site is NSFW.

-via Moshita

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The Beaches of Normandy, 70 Years Later

70 years ago this Friday, the free nations of the world launched the largest amphibious invasion in history on the beaches of northern France. To mark the occasion, CBC News took pictures of these beaches and the towns inlands from the vantage point of photos taken at the time of the invasion.

Here is the town of Courseulles-sur-Mer. The beach is known by its Allied codename: Juno. Here the Third Canadian Division overcame serious underwater obstacles and fierce resistance to capture the beach on the first day.

If I understand it correctly, the photo on the left shows Germans prisoners being marched off to captivity. Now the beach is a pleasant seaside retreat.

You can see more photos in the series here.

By the way: it was at Juno Beach that Lt. James Doohan of the Royal Canadian Artillery lost a finger.

-via Nag on the Lake

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Dock under 22-Person Wedding Party Collapses

Every dream wedding features a major structural failure. Dan and Jackie Anderson, thankfully, got that experience when they got married at Crosslake, Minnesota last weekend.

An hour before their wedding was planned to start, Dan and Jackie asked videographer Megan Fritze to shoot pictures the entire 22-person wedding party standing on a dock. Fritze gladly obliged and kept filming as the overloaded dock fell apart.

Some of the bridesmaids escaped a serious soaking, but the groomsmen and the couple took the plunge.

Despite this problem, the wedding started just 10 minutes late.

(Video Link)

Here's a video of the dock collapse. Content warning: foul language.

-via Geekologie

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Comic-Con Dress

DeviantART member bandoodie looooooves Comic-Con! And who wouldn't? She's collected bags from it for several years and used them to create this dress that proclaims her geek identity. Then, of course, she wore it to Comic-Con. It's a one piece wrap around dress based on the Butterick B4790 pattern.

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The New Guy at Work

(Jim Benton)

Your job description includes the phrase "and other duties as assigned." I have bad news for you about what that entails. It's a lot more than just unpaid overtime.

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Chini the Dog and Her Human Life

The Surgeon

Chini the Chinese Crested dog has done everything! Here are her many professions and lifestyles photographed by Irina Werning. You may remember Werning's recreations of childhood photos with adults. Her latest photo series is the Chini Project.

Werning hadn't spent a lot of time with dogs until a friend asked her to take care of her dog, Chini. Werning found that Chini was a great model for scenes from human life. If these photos are shown in right sequence, you could tell quite a story from them!

The Prisoner

The Chef

The Casino Dealer

The Cleaner

-via 22 Words

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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91-Year Old Woman Breaks Marathon Record

(Photo: NBC San Diego)

Harriette Thompson, 91, just completed a full marathon in San Diego. When she crossed the finish line after 7 hours, 7 minutes, and 42 seconds, she broke a record for the 90-94 age group. That's a pace of about 3.7 MPH. She smashed  the previous record, which was held by a 90-year old who completed the run in 8 hours, 53 minutes, and 8 seconds.

What's even more amazing is that Thompson did all of this after just completing cancer treatments. She still has radiation burns on her legs. She braved the 80°F heat anyway and completed her fifteenth marathon. And she's not done yet:

“If I’m still here next year, I think I’ll probably be able to train better and be in better shape,” Thompson said. “If I’m able, I’ll try again.”

-via The Hairpin

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Google Maps Lets You Select "Dragon" as Mode of Transport

If you ask Google Maps to give you directions from Snowdon to Brecon Beacons in Wales, it'll estimate travel times whether you are traveling by car, bus, on foot, plane, bicycle, or dragon.

If you select dragon, Google Maps helpfully informs you that the estimated travel time is 21 minutes. That's fast! It also shows a dragon icon which is strikingly similar to the one on the Welsh flag.

(Photo: National Assembly for Wales)

That appears to be the only dragon route available. For example, if you want to travel between Gun Barrel City and Cut and Shoot (two towns in Texas), then you don't get the dragon option. That strikes me as a serious oversight.

-via Roadtrippers

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Beautiful Skulls Carved and Painted into Mother-of-Pearl

Gregory Halili, an artist in New Jersey, was born in the Philippines. He remains captivated by the natural environment of that country. Among other projects, Halili carves and paints bas-relief images of skulls into the mother-of-pearl material inside shells from the Philippines. The results are haunting and beautiful.

(Video Link)

Here’s a time-lapse video showing Halili making one of sculptures.

-via Colossal

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A Northern Death Adder Demonstrates Caudal Luring

(Video Link)

This is the Northern Death Adder. As far as snake names go, that’s an excellent choice. It would suck to be a snake named the Sissy Adder, the Wimp Viper, or, worst of all, the Harmless And Tastes Delicious with Sriracha Snake. “Death Adder,” whether northern, southern, eastern, or western, is definitely the right way to go.

Northern Death Adders are relatives of the cobra (by blood, not marriage.) They’re among Australia’s most dangerous snakes, which says a lot. They have tails which flick about, similar to the movements of a caterpillar. This behavior is called caudal luring. The snake entices prey to approach it with the promise of a meal.

So, as you go about your daily life, if you see a mouth-watering caterpillar, check carefully. Before you chow down, make sure that you’re not trying to bite into a venomous snake.

-via Nothing to Do with Aborath

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Baby Inspires Modern Dance Routine

(Video Link)

When Alexandra Beller attended dance class one day (warning: auto-start video) a little boy named Ivo taught the students a new routine. Watch these dancers move according to his inspiration.

-via Pleated Jeans

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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The Most Fun Thing Ever: Crayon Shoes and Helmets

(Photos: Mathery Studio)

These things apparently don’t come in adult sizes, which is totally unfair because I would use them. The design firm Mathery Studio created an area in the National Gallery of Victoria where kids can get creative. They made helmets and sandals with built-in crayon balls. Kids strap them on and mark up the walls, floors, and furniture.

To my knowledge, these devices are not yet commercially available, but I can imagine a big market for them. Probably not for the home, though.

-via NotCot

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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Yes, The Death Star Was an Engineering Failure, But Not the Only One

(Abstruse Goose)

The engineers of the Death Star get a lot of criticism for designing a moon-sized battleship that can be destroyed with a single shot in one vulnerable spot (assuming that you believe the official story). Many members of the design team have been unable to find professional employment and several have been sued into bankruptcy. This is largely because of a public misunderstanding of the nature of engineering on a project the scale of a Death Star.

Abstruse Goose makes an important point: every complex system, including the male human body, has vulnerabilities. Human testicles are outside of the body for an important reason: to keep sperm cells cool enough to remain viable. The Death Star had an exhaust port for a similar reason: to keep the station cool enough to remain operational within tolerances.

The Death Star was properly designed. It just wasn't properly defended.

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Cats through Art History

The fame of Russian artist Svetlana Petrova--or rather, her cat Zarathustra--has swept across the internet. Petrova inherited the big orange cat in 2009 from her late mother. She was grieving deeply for her mother when a friend suggested that the process those feelings by using Zarathustra in an art project. Thus arose Fat Cat Art, Petrova's ongoing effort to place her cat in famous works of art, such as Salvador Dalí's The Persistence of Memory.

Petrova prints the results on canvas. The prints, when framed, look convincingly like the originals:

"Sometimes people don't realise it is not the original painting - my friend went to the airport with a gift I gave her of one of the artworks in a museum-style frame and it was very hard for her to prove to customs it wasn't an old painting.

"She tried to explain: 'Do you think an 18th Century painter would really draw cats instead of horses?' She had to scratch it with her nails to show it was printed underneath.

The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli

American Gothic by Grant Wood

Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David

Sistine Madonna by Raphael

-via Rocket News 24

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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Cute Baby Tortoises Are the Size of Dimes

The Adelaide Zoo in Australia recently had a litter of Western Swamp Tortoises. When fully grown, they'll probably be about 5 inches long. But for now, the 4 hatchlings are each about the size of an Australian dime. They're eating brine shrimp and mosquito larvae. You can see more photos of them at Zooborns.

There aren't many Western Swamp Tortoises left. The Adelaide Zoo now has 11. The Perth Zoo has a few. There are about 200 in the Ellen Brook Reserve and Twin Swamp Reserve in Western Australia.

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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Anime Recommendations and Open Thread

(Fistful of Woolongs t-shirt now on sale at the NeatoShop)

In February, I wrote a post in which I offered anime watching recommendations and invited Neatorama readers to make their own or share any thoughts they had on anime. It was quite popular and we had a lively discussion. So let's do it again!

Blade & Soul is a Korean fantasy MMORPG. The currently airing anime series by the same name is set in that universe. It is the story of Alka, an assassin bent on revenge against the woman who murdered her master. Alka is a seemingly emotionless person. She lives according to a code. She's avenging her master not because of any apparent feeling for him, but just because of her professional code. 

It is noteworthy that Alka is the main character, but not the hero of the story. There are no heroes in Blade & Soul. Yet it is not an amoral series, but a morally complex series. Episode 5 is particularly outstanding in this regard.

Kotaku's anime critic Richard A. Eisenbeis referred to Sakura Trick as "My Favorite Anime of the Winter Season." That got my attention. Although my tastes and Eisenbeis's don't always overlap, I find that his regular reviews and recommendations are helpful starting points.

Eisenbeis calls Sakura Trick "a real romance," which I think is a great way to describe it. Love, especially young love, is messy. Not only are there no fairy tale endings, there are no fairy tale beginnings or middles, either. Hakura and Yu are awkward and uncertain as they explore love for the first time.

One Week Friends is a currently airing high school romance. It's a sweet and romantic tale about a girl with a unique memory problem: every week, Fujimiya's memories about her friends reset. If she makes friends with someone on a Friday, she has no memory of that person on the following Monday.

Hase, the lead male character, nonetheless wants to be her friend (and possibly more), even if he has to restart the relationship every week. It's similar to Sakura Trick in that the characters are three dimensional people, not stereotypes or stock characters. Hase in particular doesn't know how to navigate his own inner feelings or his relationship with Fujimiya.

Watching Spice and Wolf was a novel experience. It is the tale of a merchant and his companion, a centuries-old wolf spirit who takes the form of a woman. Although Spice and Wolf is a love story, the main plot drivers are economic. Kraft Lawrence and Holo operate various business ventures. They are not fighting battles against evil or some terrible enemy, but engaging in currency speculation and commodities trading. They're trying to make money. The business adventures are not the B story and their love affair the A story, but the reverse.

There's one feature of Spice and Wolf and other anime series which annoys me. In a tsundere romance, the two lovers initially dislike or even hate each other before falling in love at the end of the story.

From what I've seen, it's usually the female which is particularly hostile to the male. Holo, the lead female character in Spice and Wolf, is verbally abusive and manipulative to Kraft Lawrence. In some tsundere romances, the female is physically violent to the male (e.g.: The Familiar of Zero). This is domestic violence, but it is depicted as amusing so as long as it is female-on-male violence.

The best course of action for anyone in an abusive relationship is to exit it immediately.

The Familiar of Zero and its sequel The Familiar of Zero F is harem anime in a fantasy setting. Louise, a mage, casts a spell to summon a familiar. That familiar is Saito, a Japanese teenager who gets sucked out of our world and into Louise's.

As is typical of a harem anime, several girls fall in love with Saito. Naturally, he makes the worst possible choice and falls in love with the violent and abusive Louise. That problem aside, it's a fun, light, playful series in which Saito and Louise overcome a number of magical threats against her world.

What anime do you enjoy? In the comments, share your recommendations and any other reflections you have on anime.

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Little Golden Manga

Matt Reedy, an artist in Alton, Illinois, is developing a series that he calls Little Golden Manga. It shows the covers of Japanese comic books as if they were part of the classic Little Golden Books series. Here is Attack on Titan. The Colossal Titan would like for you to come out and play! Or he'll gladly come in.

A patron at my library urged me to try the anime series Death Note. I watched the first episode. It is an excellent work of writing and animation. In fact, it is too good at what it is trying to do. I decided that I did not want that kind of darkness inside my head and did not continue the series.

FLCL is evidently a surreal journey that begins with getting clobbered in the head with a bass guitar.

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Newly Discovered Fragments from The Hitchhiker's Guide Will Be Published

(Photo: Hughes Photography)

Douglas Adams was the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and its sequels. These hilarious science fiction novels were huge bestsellers in the 1980s and 90s.

Sadly, Adams died in 2001 at the age of 49. At the time of his death, Adams was working on a novel called The Salmon of Doubt. His editors found it on the hard drive of his computer and published it as well as some of his other writings a year later.

Yet this was not the end of Adams creative contributions. The Adams family recently granted biographer Jem Roberts access to the novelist's personal papers. There he found even more material from the Hitchhiker series. Roberts will publish them in The Frood, his upcoming biography of Adams. Alison Flood writes in The Guardian:

A selection is set to be included in his forthcoming biography of Adams, The Frood, from cut extracts from the first Hitchhiker's Guide novel, The Dentrassi and Arthur's Reverie, to extracts from the "lost" draft of Life The Universe and Everything, including one on "Inter-Species Sex". […]

There is "an enormous amount of material out there that has never been seen before", said Roberts. As well as Life, the Universe and Everything, the biography will feature an alternative original pitch for Hitchhiker, a lost rough script for the second television series, and further scraps of unused material, with names like Baggy the Runch and The Assumption of Saint Zalabad.

The Life, the Universe and Everything draft, Roberts said, has "whole chapters where the characters are doing different things – different ideas he never got round to using, [such as] chapters written from Arthur Dent's point of view".

-via Nerdcore

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The Scream Appears in a Tree Stump in Norway

(Photo: Kjell Marius Mathisen)

The Scream, the most famous painting of Norwegian Expressionist Edvard Munch, cried out against the eternal horror of everyday existence though a tree stump in Norway. Kjell Marius Mathisen, a man who works in the cultural heritage field for the Oppland county government, spotted it and took this photo.

Mathisen insists that the shape of the rings is "just a coincidence." But Munch himself might disagree. He wrote of the moment which inspired this painting:

I was walking along the road with two friends
The Sun was setting – the Sky turned blood-red.
And I felt a wave of Sadness – I paused
tired to Death – Above the blue-black
Fjord and City Blood and Flaming tongues hovered
My friends walked on – I stayed
behind – quaking with Angst – I
felt the great Scream in Nature

-via Nothing to Do with Aborath

View more fun pics over at our NeatoPicto Blog

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Profile for John Farrier

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