Black Plague Strikes Down Cartridge World Owner—Granny Died—Dog Ate My Newsletter

Today we are blessed? with another post from our famous guest Dan McNeil so sit back buckle up and hang on.

Not much of a newsletter this month due to a nasty three-week case of the flu.  Using the flu for an excuse is pretty mundane so I decided to pull out some of the excuses I used as a kid.  They probably sound a lot better fifty years later.


I was a little kid when I pulled that “Black Plague” one.  This was after I’d seen a huge painting by a 15th century artist, a cheery guy named Hieronymous Bosch.

This is his depiction of hell. You might not want to look too closely. Personally, I couldn’t stop staring.

Plague was fairly common-place in the 15th century, but seemed pretty fresh to a ten-year-old in 1962, so I gave it a shot.

This is a small piece of the painting—a self-portrait of the painter Bosch. He’s sharing a basket with a demon on his way to some bizarre punishment.

When I told my teacher, Mrs. Gemma why I felt bad and needed to leave early before the multiplication test, she clearly did not understand how serious the “Black Play-gyoo” could be.

She looked at me quizzically, then smiled.  “Oh, you mean you have the plague.  The ‘ue’ at the end of plague is silent.”


“That’s a bad one.  Symptoms are big oozing pustules all over your body.”

“Umm…yes, ma’am.”

Pustules.  I knew I was in trouble.   I knew the game was up, but Mrs. Gemma had me and wouldn’t let it go.

“Show us your pustules.”


“Show us your pustules.  Your oozing pustules.  Class, let’s all look at Dan’s pustules.”

This is another section of that Bosch painting. It shows me being devoured by Mrs. Gemma. I have no idea why birds are flying out of my butt.

Next time—Ebola!  That’s the ticket.

If you fall ill and have time on your hands like I did, google the art of Hieronymous Bosch. You’ll discover you hardly know what illness really is. Six hundred years ago, they took the Book of Revelation very seriously.