Dr. Hurley’s Digest, Vol. III, Issue 12

Check out what you missed this week at Dr. Hurley HQ.

Monday – Poetry

Wednesday – Art

Friday – Smithsonian

More to come next week.

Dr. Hurley’s Summer Contest Series № 2: Wet/Dry

Dear Snake-Oil devotees,

The doctor has informed us that he is inspired by the extremes of weather we have been experiencing around the world this Summer. While on a research mission, we, the Editors, experienced a taste of England’s Worst Summer Ever – by which they mean rain, floods, cold, and damp. Meanwhile, the States are experiencing history’s worst-ever drought. Where England’s strawberries and potatoes are rotting in the ground, America’s waves of proverbial amber grain are shriveling under an ever-hotter sun.

Never one to despair, Dr. Hurley has chosen to assign these phenomena as the basis of his next Summer Short-Short contest! Send us 100 words of fiction about Rain or Drought (or other major meteorological phenomenon if you’re in a more wintry clime) by next Sunday, July 29!

Hop to, writerly friends! We look forward to your scribblings!

Sincerely yours,

EEJ & DLR, Eds.

Presenting this week’s Guest Editor

Dear Followers of the Snake-Oil Cure,

During these days leading up to Christmas, Dr. Hurley is wont to take a mental trip back to his homeland and hum hymns, hang holly branches about the house, and become thoroughly engrossed in the steaming of his traditional Christmas Pudding. As such, it has been deemed necessary to find some assistance in prescribing this week’s course of treatment.

Emily Markussen Sorsher (long-time, dedicated Snake-Oiler) hails from the warm and sunny land of California, but brings us a selection of rather chilling tales, very suited to telling around the fireplace while sipping a Dr. Hurley-approved cup of Glögg (rumor has it he picked up the recipe from a German patient at his spa).  Do read on and enjoy these thrilling, chilling tales.

The very best and warmest wishes from

Your Editors

(on behalf of the Doctor, who is currently to be found lighting candles and whistling “Deck the Halls” and isn’t to be disturbed)

Vote for your favorite 100 word story!

Last week we published twenty-one (21!) fabulous one hundred word stories!  You all sent us such inspiring entries!  Now we want to know which one you all liked best!

Choose your favorite below.  The poll will be open for one week!  Oh, and play nice, now.  Don’t vote for your own!

(If you need a reminder, click here for this week’s digest and links to all of the stories!)


100 Words: Cold Open


e tugged the brim of his felt fedora until the arcing line of shadow depended onto the bridge of his nose. Then he pulled on a trenchcoat, the uniform of his trade. He exited. The angles of sunlight coruscated across the Berlin rooftops as the sharp, box-shaped outline of Marius Eichert bled into the early morning crowd and disappeared toward the rusty U-Bahn.

Across the street, little more than a fish-eye reflection in a brash American motorcycle, Johann Wü​steschon watched Eichert vanish, touched the gun-shaped bulge in his overcoat pocket, and smiled a crooked smile. “Auf Wiedersehen, Marius,” he said.

by Daniel Le Ray

Still life with lamb

Untitled cyanotype by Thomas Smillie, 1890

Still life with lamb, sunprint, by Emily E. Jones, 2011

My image is in many ways a reversal of the original.  A sunprint is a variation on the cyanotype process using similar chemicals, but creating a reverse image.  By placing objects onto the paper and using the sun to expose the image, the covered areas remain white and the uncovered go dark in the sun.  The original cyanotype preserves the light and dark tones observed by the eye.

Furthermore, while the taxidermied lamb in the original image is an attempt at preserving a lifelike appearance while entirely removing the animal from its natural habitat, my paper cutout abandons all hope of appearing natural, while attempting to recreate an abstracted, artificial habitat for an abstracted, artificial image of the lamb.

Dr. Hurley’s Digest, Week 14




It was another week of high quality prose, poetry, and art here at Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure.  Here, for your delectation, is everything you missed last week as well as a couple of announcements.





This weekend we’re having our very first very short story “contest”!  We’ve already gotten a handful of great submissions, but we want more!  Here’s the scoop:

  • Send us a 100 word story about anything. Just keep it under 100 words,
  • With a title,
  • And your name,
  • By midnight tonight.  That gives you about twelve more hours to do it.
  • If we like it, we’ll publish it this week!
  • Send to snakeoilcure[at]gmail[dot]com

We’re also continuing our POTUS and Smithsonian series.  More info on those here.

Short Story Month

Did you all know it’s Short Story Month?  And since it’s Friday, you’re probably whiling away an idle hour at work this afternoon.  To celebrate both, here’s a round-up of some of our favorite Snake-Oil Short Stories!

Mechanical humanity: Arthur Ganson’s Kinetic Sculpture

ecently the Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure crew took a trip to the MIT museum here in Cambridge.  We went in expecting a lot of cool technological doodads (Hello, virus-powered batteries! Robots! DNA maps! Holographs!), but we weren’t necessarily expecting to see any remarkable art.

Much to our surprise, we rounded a corner and walked into an exhibit of Arthur Ganson‘s kinetic sculptures entitled Gestural Engineering. The exhibit consisted of a cluster of machines, some motor-driven, others hand-cranked. When running, the machines made subtle movements, some almost undetectable.

Perhaps most affective was this little man perched on a high platform – above my eye level, I had to look up to see this little guy. Curiously, it took us all a moment to see the man and, once the machine was engaged, to see what was moving. We had been used to looking down to find the necessary switches, pedals, and cranks. When we looked up at the little man, we saw that his head was turning minutely from side to side while he sat there.  It wasn’t hard to project onto his blank face all of our feelings of loneliness, desperation, sadness, isolation.  And that’s what was so remarkable about all these sculptures – and maybe kinetic sculpture in general – they engage the viewer in a way that other art doesn’t. You stand there looking at the sculptures making their little movements, worrying that the figures are going to topple, fall, or fail and knowing all the while that the mechanism will not fail. And that thought forces you to confront the idea of inevitability, of predestination. Each of these sculptures seemed to hold up a mirror, to point a finger at the viewer. It was all very reminiscent of a certain Archaic torso of Apollo. This little man in particular, seemed to be telling us “Du mußt dein Leben ändern.”

These machines were surprising in so many ways – in a museum that was otherwise filled with sturdy, cogged and wired, electric-looking contraptions, Ganson’s sculptures were composed of rugged-looking metals in unspeakably delicate shapes, natural materials, and whimsical imagery. They were at once delicate and rough around the edges, complex and subtle, playing around the topic of eternity. One was devised to wear away a large stone over the space of several thousand years by some mechanism I can’t remember. What was perhaps most surprising, however, in the context of that shrine to technology and engineering, was the pathos – almost a humanity – exuded by these machines.

Take this wishbone, for instance. When turned on, this particular machine made the wishbone pace slowly along its track, slowly, ponderously. As it neared the end of its track, we deliberated about whether it would topple off the end of its platform, but it paused momentarily while the track returned to the other end, typewriter-style. Then it set off pacing again.

This chair, titled “Thinking Chair” had a similar effect. The chair paced in circles around its stone, sometimes hovering near the edge, but never falling. Of note in this sculpture: the chair paced while tipped forward on its front legs, not back onto the back legs. The resulting image is much less stable, much more tenuous, much more nervous-making.

But it wasn’t all so dour – one of the sculptures featured a cat sitting on a Persian rug, while an armchair floated, spun, and danced all around it, occasionally glancing off the cat, sometimes landing on its feet, other times spinning for a while in midair. The little cat, standing still, poised, wasn’t affective or sad or accusatory. She was just sweet and the chair a lovely dancer.

About the exhibition:

  • Arthur Ganson‘s Gestural Engineering  seems to be a more-or-less permanent fixture of the MIT Museum
  • 265 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA
  • Hours: Daily 10-5

Dr. Hurley’s Digest: Week Eight

It was an exciting week at Dr. Hurley’s, marking the end of our second month in business!  We’re cooking up some good things for the next week, but are also looking for new submissions, particularly in prose and artwork!  Send your submissions along to snakeoilcure@gmail.com!

Here’s what you missed last week:


Visual treats:

More on the Doctor himself: