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Alex Baer: Life, Death, and Spark-Tending

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light sparkMy new coffee mug's art on the side is a thing of retro-futuristic beauty -- part steampunk, part Bradbury, maybe.  There is an art deco scene of a mad scientist's lab, including a robot and assorted glowing objects and tools and scattered projects -- shelves filled with curious and intriguing things.

Above that widescreen-band of art, above:  "Certifiable Mad Genius."  Below the art, in a smaller font:  "I have a death ray, and I know how to use it."

(There is nothing to define just what "MAD" may be - it could mean angry.  It might mean mentally disturbed.  It could be the acronym for Mutual Assured Destruction.  It could mean all three.)

The mug is good as a standalone item.  The mug also makes me think of a cartoon I have pinned on a battered cork board.  It's an old, yellowing, dog-earred clipping, from a New Yorker magazine, as I remember, a cartoon by Charles Addams -- yes, that Charles Addams.  The setting is in an office building, in a patent attorney's office, in perhaps the 1890s.  Out the window, we see other buildings -- enough to realize the office is on the third floor, say.

Two men are in the office, both dressed in old-fashioned suits. The inventor of an Buck-Rogers-looking item is present, hat in hand.  The patent attorney has the item in both hands.  It is plugged into an electrical outlet.  The attorney has the object out an open window, pointed down to street level.  The attorney is saying, in the caption, "Death ray, fiddlesticks!  Why, it doesn't even slow them up!"

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