The Art of Darkness

Secret Santa Can Suck It…Again

November 27th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Cthulhu ClausLong-time blog readers will remember the Secret Santa Can Suck It virtual fake gift swap from years past, and darned if we aren’t going to do it again.

It’s fun, easy, and completely free to participate: Between now and December 10, leave a comment on this post or email me saying that you want to be part of the swap. On the 12th I’ll tell you who your assigned “giftee” is, and some time before December 23 you post a picture on your blog of what you would have gotten that person if you had money and, y’know, cared. Send me the link or, if you don’t have a blog, let me know and you can arrange to have your “gift” posted here.

On December 24 I’ll post a list of everybody’s entries so we can all marvel at each other’s good taste. It’s a silly, fun way to take a short break from general holiday craziness, plus we can all discover new blogs we might not otherwise find. The more people who participate the more entertaining the gift list will be, so put your inner Scrooge in a corner and join in!

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Kindertrauma

November 26th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Kindertrauma ClownGot several hours to kill and a desire to dredge up long-suppressed childhood fears? Check out Kindertrauma. With the slogan, “Your happy childhood ends here,”

KINDERTRAUMA is about the movies, books, and toys that scared you when you were a kid. It’s also about kids in scary movies, both as heroes and villains. And everything else that’s traumatic to a tyke!

Through reviews, stories, artwork, and testimonials, we mean to remind you of all the things you once tried so hard to forget…

The site is a trove of childhood horror, from ostensible “children’s movies” that are awfully dark for kids (I’m looking at you, Watership Down), to glimpses of grown-up TV shows, to the gory comic books published in the heady days before the CCA. Site hosts Unkle Lancifer and Aunt John publish their own writeups of kid-scarring media, but users are encouraged to submit their own Traumafessions. There’s also a helpful “Name That Trauma” feature: If you can’t remember the title of a book or movie that scared you as a kid, you can describe whatever details you recall and crowdsource an answer.

The hosts conduct occasional interviews with horror bloggers and other notables in the industry (my favorite line so far: “I don’t know what dark entities Sid & Marty Krofft spent time in the thrall of, but everything they made to entertain kids is tinged with this unearthly, utterly alien sensibility”), and there’s a “Name That Traumatot” picture-identification game.

After you’ve worked your way through the site archives, be sure to check out their fantastically lengthy blogroll of other horror-friendly sites.

I’m somewhat miffed that my own childhood-warping movie, The Beast with Five Fingers, doesn’t seem to be included in their archives. I may have to submit a Traumafession of my very own.

(Hat tip to cookie)

Posted in Resources | 3 Comments »

Seen Online

November 25th, 2014 by Cobwebs

I like how the first instruction of “stop drop and roll” is “stop.” Like you might have just kept doing what you were doing, but in flames
joshbupkes

raccoons are just dogs that have learned witchcraft
mallelis

periods help you learn how to get blood off of things which is probably why you hear more stories of men caught with murder
peachvenom

For $5 I will go to the funeral of someone you hate and start a slow clap.
heymonroe

if you’re ever feeling lazy just remember that the ancient greeks believed their gods lived on top of a very climbable hill but no one even bothered to check
partybarackisinthehousetonight

Your hair turns white when you get old for evolutionary reasons. Predators leave you alone if they think you’re a wizard
Bagyants

A banjo is just a guitar that wants to show you a dead body.
longwall26

what if the coins you find randomly at the bottom of drawers and in between couch cushions are actually from spiders trying to pay rent
starfleetinginterest

I’m guessing the ‘element of surprise’ is probably arsenic
Sickayduh

I also want a vampire movie where everyone hasn’t grown weary of LIFE after a measly 300 years, vampires thrilled by toothbrushes & planes
Like Spikes monologue in season 3 but they feel that way all the time and go to museums and love 3D movies
mallelis

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 2 Comments »

There’s a Man in the Woods

November 24th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Animation student Jacob Streilein made this creepy short to exorcise some old fears.

When I was in elementary school, the older kids started a rumor that quickly made recess a terrifying experience. I’ve been wanting to make this film just so I had a place to put some of the details of that rumor.

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A Walk Among the Link Dumps

November 21st, 2014 by Cobwebs

At Last! Your Death Acceptance Reading List – A great roundup of “deathy” books from Order of the Good Death. (Hat tip to Bruno)

Temple of R’lyeh Cookie Jar – Stunning hand-made pottery jar.

Medical Gross Out – The Distillations podcast did an episode featuring the “scarier (and squirmier) side of science.”

Artifacts for the Afterlife – Some interesting photos of gravestones embellished with colored glass, seashells, and other oddments. (Hat tip to pdq)

Alternate Universe What Ifs – xkcd’s Randall Munroe has a wonderful ongoing series called What If? in which he answers various off-the-wall questions with science (his book is great, too). His most recent column is What Ifs from an alternate universe, and they sound like a Night Vale episode.

A Graphic Guide to Cemetery Symbolism – Atlas Obscura has a handy chart for deciphering the meanings of graveyard symbols.

Anatomy Ukulele – Ukulele painted with the cutest li’l internal organs you’ll see all day.

Vampire Bat Vase – I adore both this vase and the floral arrangement within. (Black callas, incidentally, are easy to grow.) (Hat tip to Pixel Pixie)

Skulls and Skeletons in Fashion – Large photo dump of skeletal clothing and accessories.

Karen Aida – Ravelry designer offering neat knit sock patterns that look like ants, biohazard symbols, and obscene gestures (although not all at once). I think my favorite is, “Rock Me, Armadillos.” (via Cat)

Posted in Link Dump | 2 Comments »

“Devil Baby” Prank

November 20th, 2014 by Cobwebs

I’m having a Deep Thought(tm). Bear with me.

A friend pointed me to this video of a prank involving an animatronic “demonic” baby, scooting around in a remote-controlled carriage and startling people. My initial thoughts were: A) That is a remarkably realistic-looking baby, and B) I hope they’ve got lawyers on hand for when a kindly little old lady goes over to coo at the baby and has a massive heart attack.

The next thing that struck me, though, was this: After the initial startle most people just go, “Huh” and keep walking. It seems as though encountering a carriage moving of its own volition and then having a clearly-possessed baby pop up out of it should have more of an impact. Nobody calls the police or even looks around for a priest. It could be that the animatronic doesn’t look as realistic in real life. It could be that this takes place in New York, where they pride themselves on refusing to impressed.* It may also have something to do with the location: Being surrounded by crowds of people might lessen the perceived threat (and also might explain why nobody calls the authorities; they all expect some other bystander will do it).

Regardless of the cause it’s an interesting reaction, and it sort of calls into question the way that crowds react to monsters in horror movies. In the movies, a demonic baby tooling around in a self-propelled carriage would cause widespread panic; in reality it seems that it causes more of a collective shrug. It’s possible that when zombies invade or a doorway to Hell opens up nobody will even notice.

*This is why Cloverfield was so unrealistic. If an actual kaiju showed up in New York everybody would go, “Pfft. I’ve seen bigger” and then studiously ignore it.

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 1 Comment »

Stuff I Found While Looking Around

November 19th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Here’s another bunch of random stuff I’ve found which I want to share but might not be able to hang a whole post on. Some of them have no attribution, so if you happen to know the source for any of these please leave a note in the comments. (Click to view larger.)

Bat Cake Pops

Bat Cake Pops

This kit is by wholesaler BrandCastle and is available at Amazon. The price is fairly reasonable, but if you wanted to DIY them (or make more than the kit contains), you could use Bakerella’s cake pop guide and print the little paper wings on a computer.
Ouija Placemat

Ouija Board Placemats

These are available on Etsy, but they seem to be just a plastic-laminated paper printout. A set of fancier ones made with custom-printed fabric (or embroidered if you’re feeling really ambitious) would be a great hostess gift.
Chandelier

Ghostly Chandelier

Neither Google Image Search nor TinEye could find any matches for this, so I have no idea where it came from. The kindly-looking specters appear to be soft-sculpture of some kind. It’d be a heck of a room accent. (Hat tip to Kathy)
Spider Slippers

Spider Slippers

Virtually every site with this picture is a humor aggregator, so I can’t provide an original source. I desperately want these to be a real thing, but I’m pretty certain they’re just a ‘shopped photo of a real tarantula with added googly eyes.
Vulturemingoes

Vulturemingoes

These altered lawn flamingoes are by Halloween Forum member Tannasgach. I’m sure they’re meant to be a Halloween yard decoration, but if it wasn’t for their neck ruff being fragile I’d be happy to leave them up year-’round.
Zombie Pincushion

Zombie Pincushion

This easy felted pincushion was made by Craftster member Supervelma. If you aren’t a fan of zombies, you could use a simple gravestone instead.
Petal Pumpkins

Petal Pumpkins

These are sold by Grandin Road and like so much Grandin Road stuff they are insanely expensive (originally $99 each, now on clearance for $59; oh my stars) and highly DIY-able. This is like, half an hour with a fake pumpkin, a bunch of silk flowers, and a glue gun.
Ghost Caught on Tape

Ghost Caught on Tape

This made me laugh and I’m not even going to apologize.
Bat Cheese Balls

Mini Batty Cheese Balls

These are the cutest li’l party snacks ever. There’s a recipe here, but you could substitute whatever kind of cheeselike substance you want. The blue-corn tortilla chips make great wings.
Eye Book

Latest News from the Year 1732 and 1733

This is a work by German artist Hubertus Gojowczyk. It’d also make a darn fine spellbook prop and should be reasonably DIY-able with a thrifted book, a pair of taxidermy eyes, and an Xacto knife.

Posted in Whatever | 5 Comments »

Great Gift: Bath Salts

November 18th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Poison Ivy Bath SaltsI am a big fan of bath salts as a gift idea, and here’s why:
1) They’re easy to make
2) They’re inexpensive to make
3) You can make loads of them in a single afternoon
4) They look like they took way more time, money, and effort than 1-3 would suggest

Despite how simple and cheap they are, they’re a gift you can be proud of giving: It’s fun to create something that looks like it came from a high-end spa, and recipients are generally pretty enthusiastic. Some interesting containers, a clever label, and a few simple ingredients are all you need for a splendid last-minute hostess gift, party favor, or stocking stuffer.

There are a zillion recipes for bath salts, some of them involving an astonishing number of ingredients, but all you really need is Epsom Salt. It’s the basis for most bath salts, and I suppose if you were in a real hurry you could just bung some into a jar and call it a gift. However, a few additional ingredients make things a lot nicer: Salt (of the sodium chloride variety) is better at absorbing fragrance and coloring than Epsom Salt, and different-sized grains can be used to vary the texture of the finished product. Sea salts add trace minerals and natural color. Even table salt can be used, although be aware that some people’s skin may be sensitive to the added iodine and/or anti-clumping agents. Baking soda acts as a skin softener and water conditioner. All of those can be found at your local grocery store or, if you plan to make a large quantity, can be ordered online from soap- and skincare suppliers (I like From Nature With Love). The other ingredients you might want are skin-safe fragrance oils, colorings, and botanicals (like dried flowers or herbs).

An easy recipe with a spooky twist is this Poison Ivy Bath Salts from Paging Supermom: Dried mint provides wicked-looking green flecks, and they even have a downloadable label if you don’t want to design your own. These Blood Orange salts are also attractive, and even includes instructions for a little witch-hat bottle topper. These Pumpkin Spice Bath Salts are just Epsom Salt with fragrance and coloring.

If you want to get a little more ambitious, you can layer different colors of salts in a clear container: These single-serving Candy Corn Bath Treats are adorable. You could just use three colors of bath salts, but if you want to make it fizzy as the recipe suggests, that’s easy too. (Citric acid is available from soapmaking suppliers, but it’s also used for canning fruit and can be found at some grocery stores.) For another layering idea, the fragrances and colors suggested in this Halloween Foaming Bath Salts recipe sound nice (it’s based off of the same site’s Foaming Fruity Layers recipe, which has some helpful pictures); the “foaming” part is optional if you don’t want to bother with Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate.

Once you’ve got your salts, you can choose a suitable container. You can find all kinds of interesting bottles and jars at craft stores or online; if you’re giving just a few gifts you might select a container that can be re-used later: A pretty salt cellar or sugar jar, for example (or really go nuts with a themed sugar shaker). If you’re making a large quantity of bath salts as gifts, you can find a variety of containers at wholesale specialty suppliers like SKS.

You can also get creative with labels and decoration: This packaging for Halloween Bath Salts is attractive and easy, and I love this set of Halloween Party Favors, each with a different label and scent.

If you want to gift a whole set of differently-scented bath salts, take a leaf from the seasoning salts sold by Hoxton Street Monster Supplies (whom I’ve covered previously): Their Tears in a Bottle series boasts:

Salt Made From Tears combines centuries-old craft with the freshest human tears which are gently boiled, released into shallow crystallisation tanks, then harvested by hand and finally rinsed in brine. Experience the full range of these flavours in this exclusive collection.

~ Salt Made From Tears of Anger
~ Salt Made From Tears Shed While Chopping Onions
~ Salt Made From Tears Shed While Sneezing
~ Salt Made From Tears of Laughter
~ Salt Made From Tears of Sorrow

Each variety has its own description, which could be easily modified for scents rather than flavors: “This delectable salt, made from tears of abject sorrow, is collected only at moments of complete misery. With its delicate lavender flavour, it’s the perfect seasoning for limbs and organs.” “This robust salt is made from tears that sprang forth during explosions of anger. With a rich and smokey flavour, it can help to induce fit of uncontrolled rage, as normally experienced only by Ogres and Trolls.” and so on.

Blood Bath SaltsFinally, check out this super-awesome “Blood Bath Salts” canister which I can’t seem to find out much about other than that they were some sort of limited-edition Halloween home decor item and are widely sought after. (Click to embiggen.) A reasonable facsimile might be created by hot-gluing a novelty plastic skull to a canister lid and then spray-painting it with metallic paint. A similar label could be created in the graphics program of your choice and either glued on or (if you’re particularly ambitious) used as a template for stenciling. Color bath salts red and add some dried rose petals or hibiscus flowers for additional color, and you’ll have an extremely cool bathroom accessory.

Bonus link: For a Christmas rather than a Halloween gift, The Idea Room has a neat set of Myrrh Bath Salts and Frankincense Sugar Scrub. (The “gold” was represented by chocolate gold coins, but you could substitute a little bottle of Goldschläger.)

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 2 Comments »

& Teller

November 17th, 2014 by Cobwebs

In 2008 Teller (the non-speaking, less-assholish member of Penn & Teller) released a video short about life after the zombie apocalypse. He released a second episode in 2010, then three more in October 2014. Here’s the first episode:

The rest are here. In the comments on #5, Ghost Works LLC (who filmed the videos) is ambiguous about additional episodes, replying to “I hope this can continue in another 8 (sic) years” with “Thanks. It won’t be that long.” but then following up “Is this the final episode of ‘& Teller’?” with “For now.” So I guess that some time before 2022 there might be another episode.

Anyway, these are more “I Am Legend” than “Dawn of the Dead,” so that’s nice.

(via BoingBoing)

Posted in Whatever | 1 Comment »

Another Doggone Week of Link Dumps: Day 5

November 14th, 2014 by Cobwebs

This concludes the latest Mega-Link-Dump. Regular posting (and once-a-week link dumps) will return on Monday.

Vampira: Dark Goddess of Horror – Biography of Maila Nurmi and the character she created. There’s a brief description of the book at BoingBoing.

Grump Notebooks – Notebooks entitled things like “Daily Disappointments” for the cranky person in your life.

Skull Tie-Dye Shirt – Tutorial for making a great-looking tie-dye skull.

My Little Cephalopod – Series of knitted squid themed like “My Little Pony.” Because why not.

Uncanny Furniture – When lit from a certain angle, this chair with an attractive leaf design throws a monstrous shadow.

Incredibly Rude Coasters – I need a set of these.

Mapsburgh – This artist sells hand-cut maps of real places drawn in the style of Tolkien. He’ll also do custom maps of any place in the world.

Why My Cat is Sad – Marvelous Twitter account detailing the various causes of cat sadness. I think this one is my favorite.

Dracula’s Bride – Gorgeous knitted shawl pattern from Ravelry.

Major to Minor – Chase Holfelder takes songs in a major (“happy-sounding”) key and transposes them to a minor (“sad-sounding”) key; the results are wonderful. As a bonus, here’s a fan-made “cover” of Type O Negative doing Britney Spears. (Hat tip to Bruno)

Posted in Link Dump | 3 Comments »

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