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.

Bobbity loved nothing more

Photographs of “Bobbity”, a Perognathus pacificus (pocket mouse) by Vernon Orlando Bailey.

She always found photographs of hands arresting. Some photos draw attention to the sinews and blood vessels, making the hand look simultaneously engineered and fragile. Other photos flattened the hand into a collection of more or less soft planes, puffy almost-sausages attached to a child-sized balloon. My hands always look puffy in photos, she thought. Stieglitz understood hands, she thought, imagining the photographer posing the painter’s hands just so. Sometimes she tried to mimic those poses, shocked at how strange – and painful – some of them were.

Often her father would ask her to hold up a hand for scale in a photo.  Her hands were documented from childhood on, held up in black and white (then color) next to giant leaves, roses whose thorns seemed to be inches long, baguettes impossibly long and thin. Or photos of her hands full of bunches of just-harvested green beans, fresh-dug new potatoes, giant tomatoes (how did the vine support them?), small dogs.

How different would it be if scientific journals were illustrated not by charts and graphs, but by images of the scientists’ hands dug into their materials, handling chemicals (gloves on, especially with mercury), poking and prodding new species, manipulating contraptions meant to test engineering principles? Certainly those sciences are tangible, but described in such a way to divorce them from human touch. Artists are better at that, she thought. Their works are tied inextricably to their hands.

Now when she thought of photographs of hands, she thought mostly of his. Large knobs of knuckles, skin wrinkled but surprisingly soft, calluses worn smooth by time, flat fingernails with the occasional black spot where a hammer or door left its mark. Hands that did not tremble, but did fidget, as if restless. Sometimes his hands simply flexed, gripping and releasing something unseen. Maybe for exercise? Or remembering some work done?  And she remembered his exceptional gentleness; the same hands that built and dug – and, at some point, fought, she thought – could smooth her hair, clasp her hand in his, rhythmically but randomly pat one of those small dogs.

Hands show wear and tear, she thought, looking at a tiny, persistent scar on the back of her own hand and thinking of the strangely smooth skin of the thumb he hurt in that accident, and the ridges of growing-out scabs under his fingernails. Scars are sometimes quite beautiful, she thought, wishing at the same time that her hands had no such marks.

Dr. Hurley’s Digest, Vol. II, Issue 37

In honor of our 100th photography post, courtesy of editor EEJ, we had a week of great photography from some Snake-Oilers old and new. Check out what you missed below!

We have some fiction and more coming up for Thanksgiving week. Dr. H. wishes his American friends a happy turkey week!

Exposure № 100: Cats at Chess

In celebration of reaching our one hundredth photography post here at Snake-Oil Cure, we’re featuring some diverse, yet fantastic images this week at Dr. H HQ.

Editor EEJ shares a photo to start this week, and tells us a little about it:

This is from a series of photos of the display windows at Leavitt & Peirce. It’s one of my favorite shops, not only because they sell the fanciest soap and snootiest presents for the men in my life, but because their window displays are like surreal little worlds unto themselves. I find endless inspiration there.

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EEJ is usually to be found in the kitchen, where she likes to create complex, impossibly delicious things comprised mainly of butter and sugar.  Or she’s fussing with her orchids or reading or writing or making photos.  You can read about her cooking exploits at Darby O’Shea and see her photos on her Flickr page. You can call her Dr. Jones. Her contributions to Snake-Oil Cure are here.

Exposure № 092: High Summer Contrast

As a photographer, Snake-Oil Cure editor EEJ is a contrast junkie. That is evident in these two photos. The contrast in the first image is due to over-bright sun and over-long developing. In the second, it’s due to low light and over-enthusiastic shadow metering.

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EEJ is founder and co-editor of Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure. When she’s not working here, she is writing about food and photography and life at www.darbyoshea.com, noodling around on Flickr, or reading obscure German literature. Also playing with her dogs. Her posts at Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure can be seen here.

Hurley Pulp: Desert Sunrise


he sun rose orange and shimmering over the desert. Dr. Hurley rose from the bed he had fashioned from his saddle and a bright, patterned blanket he had received in trade for a remedy some days back. His horse stood tethered to an impossibly tall cactus nearby. He shook off the night’s sleep and the morning’s dew and stood, stretching, pondering the day’s plans. Today he would ride into town, make himself known, and wait for them to come. With any luck, he would stand over his enemy’s corpse by sundown. He mounted up and rode off toward his fate.


Hurley Pulp: A Cure for What Ails Her


ow can I help?” Dr. Hurley had only glanced up at her before returning to the small burner by the window. The air was pungent – rosemary, vinegar, something warm – star anise?

She gazed at him, wondering why she had come, what this quickening in her heart – and elsewhere – meant.

“Miss? Are you all right?” She began to sweat.

“Yes… I… no, I don’t know…” She swayed and fainted.

When she awoke she was in his arms and the vapor had dissipated. Yet, her heart still pounded.

“Excellent – my Potionem Amoris works,” he whispered.


Trees: a new series at the Snake-Oil Cure

Knotty tree, photographed in New Hampshire, Ilford HP5 black and white film, kitchen sink processing by Ed. EEJ.

Today sees the beginning of a new series at Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure. We were inspired by Byron Barrett’s series of trees back in September and have decided to run a series of your work inspired by or featuring trees. The work can take the form of visual art (photography, as here, or other artforms) or words (poetry or prose).

As always, send submissions to snakeoilcure [at] gmail [dot] com. Images should be 500 px across. Alternately, add your images to the Snake-Oil Cure Flickr group!

Sonnet: On Absence

Does Absence aching hearts then fonder make,
which in their pain no fonder-making need?
How callous slith’ring Absence as a snake
disguised, or spider-like her web does seed
with bait- a tender gaze or touch of hand-
then springs her trap. She rips the pair apart
whose fate she as a game does play. They land
divided, seas apart- heart torn from heart.
One wanders, wails in pain new-found. Her love
lies quiet, stunned, unsure- then finds the strength
to wait, and to his love his love to prove.
If Absence in her plot succeed, what length
must travel love, her home to find?
O, Absence wins her game unkind.

by Emily E. Jones

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This is part of a series of featured entries in our first-ever poetry contest.
Stay tuned for more and get ready to vote for your favorite!

Exposure № 029: Tacheles

Tacheles, Berlin. This is the scene behind the former department store-turned squat cum artist’s co-op. This is far from a new story, but it bears telling anyway. After the Wall came down, artists and punks and all kinds of loveable vagrants fled – not away from the former East, but toward it, sniffing out deserted real estate and setting up utopian enclaves organized around loosely defined principles of freedom and independence and anti-establishment glee.  Tacheles isn’t unique in that respect. It is unique for the concentration of artists who set up workshops and actually produced art (as well as living in an almost performance-art style, not wholly private, not wholly public), but also for the nearly legitimate businesses that inhabited the space alongside the decidedly illegal residents – a cinema and a couple of cafes conducted business in the building that previously housed the department store.

Sadly Tacheles has lost its uniqueness as a squat that had survived gentrification. It was one of the last really well known squats standing until a few months ago when the owner of the real estate began making moves to uproot the inhabitants. This has been happening all over Berlin for years, but Tacheles seemed, to some, untouchable. Finally, the cafes and cinema up and left and eventually the city stepped in to help the owner of the property root out the artists and – with a touch of tragic irony – build a wall to keep them out.

This photo dates from January 2011, when Tacheles was still inhabited, though very quiet. Shot on 35mm Fuji Velvia 100 and cross-processed, which accounts for the rosy hue. Fitting, I thought.