Consider the humble motorcycle. Commonly known in East Africa as a “boda-boda” (the vibrating sound of a poorly muffled two-stroke engine) they have become ubiquitous across the continent over the past decade, thanks to their durability and affordability. A used 100cc or 150cc Bajaj Boxer can be had for as little as 1 to 2 million Ugandan shillings ($250–500 US); well within reach for much of Africa’s rapidly growing population.

Upon seeing this image my friend Leeman remarked, “I feel like I don’t even know what style or elegance is.”

Last year I spent a week jet-setting (van-setting?) around Uganda in a minibus full of people and suitcases, spending up to 12 hours at a time watching the landscape roll…


“We were somewhere outside of Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.”

Thus begins “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” Hunter S. Thompson’s savage journey to the heart of the American dream.

Weighing in at a madcap 200 pages, “Fear and Loathing” makes for a quick read. Terry Gilliam’s 1998 film adaptation hews closely to the book, as does the 1996 audio-book CD narrated by Harry Dean Stanton. Between the book, the CD, and the movie, I’ve probably read, listened to, or watched the story close to a dozen times. I never intended to — it just sort of happened.

Key to the story is the chaotic interpersonal dynamic between Raoul Duke…


One of the principal reasons I chose my current profession was the appeal of travel. Going places I’d never been. Meeting people I wouldn’t otherwise have encountered. Seeing things that no one at home had ever seen.

Recreational international travel is, for the most part, the domain of the wealthy. But as a researcher in the international development sector, my employers were footing the bill for trips I could could barely have imagined, much less afforded. The downside is that I never really got to pick my destinations. I’ve never been to Paris or Rome. I’ve only seen Tokyo and…


In a year of turmoil, it was the smallest change that made the biggest difference for me

A year ago my commute was three hours a day, 4–5 days a week. I had almost no time for the things I wanted to do: spending time with my family, writing, meditating, reading books, losing weight, playing guitar, studying foreign languages, training my dog, planting a garden, getting a full night of sleep…

The sudden COVID-19 shift to 100% remote work ripped my day wide open and left a glaring question at the center of it all:

Was I really going to do all of the stuff I never seemed to have time for? …


As mentioned in my previous photo essay on motorcycles in Uganda, I regularly find myself spending long stretches of time watching African scenery roll past the windows of a loaded minibus.

Just a month after my October 2019 trip to Uganda I was back on the road in Africa, this time in Chad. I was still getting to know the camera on my Pixel phone, so once again I filled my travel time with snapshots of passing motorcycles while we drove through the variegated landscape of the Sahel.


In “Meet me in the Morning” Bob Dylan paraphrases Thomas Fuller, saying “…the darkest hour is right before the dawn.” The phrase contains a truth that is both simple and complex.

Like the old riddle, “how far into the forest can you go?” the smug literalist answer replies, “halfway” because after that you’re actually going *out* of the forest.

Though her rosy fingers are not yet seen, dawn is already in motion at the moment the sun moves past it’s nadir.

The placement of Christmas and other festivals of light just before or after the winter solstice has an implicit…


My grandfather, Charles “CJ” Swet passed away on Wednesday December 17, 2020. As sad as I am to see him go, the life he lived in his 98 years was an exceptional one, and up to the very end he was sharper than most of the folks you’re likely to meet.

This issue of Weird Tales features a story by my great-grandmother alongside pulp giants like Paul Ernst, Edmund Hamilton, and Lovecraft pen-pal August Derleth

As I begin to feel the space he leaves behind, I am compelled to put down a few words about him, though no amount of writing would really capture what a singular individual he truly was.

CJ grew up in Chicago in the 20s and 30s. His father Abe…


#TTMMFR

I grew up in a rather large family with a rather limited income. Not what I would call impoverished — I never missed a meal to my recollection — but money was usually tight, and there was rarely “extra” anything even though we always got by. But one year we purchased a family membership to the Baltimore Zoo (now the Maryland Zoo), and I distinctly remember as we walked through the gate my mom tucked the membership card back into her purse with a little gleeful smile

“I feel rich!” she said, laughing. “We don’t have to see the whole…


I’ve carried pocket notebooks for years, but never used them systematically. If a thought or an observation occurred to me, I’d jot it down, but that was the extent of it. Even though I carried those notebooks everywhere, they’d wear out long before I was able to fill them up with ideas.

So many unfilled pages.

Four months ago, thanks to several factors, I began experimenting with a much more systematic approach to journal-keeping. Nothing earth-shaking. Nothing transformative. Just a commitment to putting a page or so of handwritten notes on paper every day. The process has been one of trial and error, but…


If you were to chart the explosive growth of home bread-baking over the past two months, it would probably match the curve of COVID-19 infections with uncanny precision. Social distancing and home quarantining provide an unprecedented opportunity for so many of us to finally learn so many of the skills we’ve always wanted (I’m working on knife sharpening at the moment).

I started experimenting with home bread-making more than a decade ago, toying with easy sweet and savory quick breads like zucchini bread and beer bread, and then moving on to pizza dough and other conventional yeast breads not long…

Isaac Morrison

Baltimore native, anthropologist, researcher, inventor, potter, writer, and traveler (Central America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East, and bits of Asia).

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