The Art of Darkness

Giant Isopod Phone Case

August 21st, 2014 by Cobwebs

Isopod Phone CaseThe Japanese really like giant isopods. Like, really.* Recently there was a lot of buzz around an iPhone case shaped like a super-realistic giant isopod; from what I can gather it was released to commemorate the death of “No. 1,” a giant isopod residing at the Toba Aquarium which gained notoriety by refusing to eat for over five years. The Rhubarb Gusokumushi** case was available in gold or silver. Unfortunately, it was also a limited-edition production run of only 500 units and also had the drawback of only being available in Japan.

Fortunately, all is not lost! There’s at least one other giant isopod iPhone case, manufactured by Strapya (also available here). While not quite so detailed as the limited-edition model, it has the advantage of being, y’know, not limited-edition. And also being available outside of Japan. It doesn’t clutch your phone in little spiky legs–a vast disappointment, to be sure–but would probably be a little easier to fit in a purse or pocket.

I suppose if you were feeling particularly resourceful it might be possible to find a cast-plastic model of an isopod (or another interesting creepy-crawly like a lobster, centipede, or spider) and fit a more conventional phone case into its underside. That would largely depend on whether the amusement value of saying, “Excuse me, my spider is ringing” would offset the inconvenience of lugging around an unwieldy, oversize phone. You have to admit that it’d be fairly entertaining to stroll down the street talking into the abdomen of a giant rubber cockroach and acting like you have no idea why anyone’s staring.

Anyway, giant isopods. Neat.

*It’s a little unclear why they’ve so caught the Japanese imagination; asking Google mainly brought back giant isopod hot dogs, giant isopod plush toys (through which I discovered that there are a bunch of stuffed toys based on Burgess Shale creatures, including Anomalocaris, Hallucigenia, and Opabinia, so that’s neat), and giant isopods sharing a snack. But I also found this list of 18 awesome facts about giant isopods, so let’s just assume that the Japanese simply recognize their intrinsic awesomeness and leave it at that.

**This is what Google Translate insists the name of the phone case is. Searching on that term turns up a lot of hits, but it’s entirely possible that everybody else just ran the same page through Google Translate. If anybody reads Japanese and would care to enlighten us, that’d be swell.

Posted in Needful Things | No Comments »

Seen Online

August 20th, 2014 by Cobwebs

22 year old me after a night of drinking: “I hope I didn’t do anything stupid.” 29 year old me: “I hope I didn’t agree to go on a hike.”
IanKarmel

You can drag a piñata around the park like a dog, there’s no laws against that
weinerdog4life

If you’re trying to gauge how far civilization has evolved, just remember that the Ancient Egyptians also used emoticons to communicate.
KalvinMacleod

At this point in my life, it’s more hurtful than embarrassing that I haven’t received guidance from a forest spirit
bridger_w

The fact it’s called a “funeral procession” and not a “deadline” is why I’m not the guy who names things.
Sickayduh

Just wrote Eldritch Horror and autocorrect turned it into Britches Horror and not gonna lie that does sound pretty terrifying
matthewbaldwin

NEVER FORGET: Tilda Swinton is probably in your bedroom staring at you RIGHT now. Nighty night!
JennyJohnsonHi5

no but women are so badass okay
because there will inevitably come a point in every woman’s life where she wakes up in a pool of her own blood and her reaction will be dammit now i have to do laundry
that is some suave superhero shit and you won’t ever be able to convince me otherwise
Sassy McCoy

I’ve always wanted to walk up to a stranger and hand them a briefcase and say, “You know what to do”
iGreenMonk

The average person eats 8 spiders in their sleep every year, but that’s including the 22 billion consumed by Unlucky Jeff.
JohnnyMcNulty

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 1 Comment »

Edible Dirt

August 19th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Edible DirtEdible “dirt” in the form of crumbled cake or cookies is a staple of Halloween parties; here’s a really cool way to expand into savory dishes.

Merlin and Rebecca dined at famed Copenhagen restaurant Noma and were told, “Your next course is in the flower pot.”

Noma is almost mythic at this point. Do the chefs really forage ingredients from parks and shores around Copenhagen? Yes. Do they actually make you eat dirt? Well, kind of. The ‘edible dirt’ filled flower pot, from which perfect carrots and radishes are messily unearthed by hand, is one of Noma’s signature dishes. So, we decided to create our own version as an homage to Noma and New Nordic Cuisine. Everything in that flower pot is edible.

They detail their attempt to recreate the dish here. Noma serves the dirt “planted” with little carrots and radishes which are pulled out by their greens. Merlin and Rebecca couldn’t find vegetables with their greens still attached, so they decided to substitute fingerling potatoes and use chives to represent stems. The (clean, obviously) flowerpots were filled with a layer of thick yogurt flavored with chopped herbs, the potatoes and chives were pressed into the yogurt, then the dirt was layered on top. Diners “harvest” the potatoes by digging them out of the flowerpots; the dirt sticks to the yogurt and is eaten along with the potatoes.

They don’t include an actual recipe, noting vaguely that the recipe is available through “a quick Google search.” I finally found Chef René Redzepi’s original recipe on the fourth page of Google’s results; it’s a bit weird and fiddly and requires “malt flour,” which seems to be diastatic malt powder. If you do a lot of baking you may have some of this in your kitchen; otherwise it can be mail-ordered (or you may be able to purchase a little from your local bakery).

If that seems like too much work, I also unearthed (har!) a recipe that uses more ingredients but are all things that you should be able to find in a well-stocked grocery store. It appears to originally be from Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Paint It Black | 3 Comments »

Cubicles and Careers

August 18th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Fantasycon’s Murray Triplett and Greg Johnson have a new webseries about monsters and heroes playing an RPG where they pretend to be office workers and make saving throws against being noticed by their bosses when they sneak in to work late.

Although this is not exactly a new idea (the original AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide, printed in 1979, included this cartoon), the series looks like a lot of fun.

The first episode is below; the rest are in their playlist.

(via BoingBoing)

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 1 Comment »

The Old Dark Link Dump

August 15th, 2014 by Cobwebs

It’s Just Wood – Nice little meditation on the liberation that comes from knowing how to make things.

Sock Holder – Splendid addition to a laundry room.

Peter Dinklage – This is oddly compelling.

Death Wooed Us – Interesting photography project which “catalogues places where people have taken their own lives and the views that may have been the last things these people saw.”

Floral Skull Shower Curtain – This “beautiful death” shower curtain is a bit pricey, but lovely. It’s also available on the Society6 site as a print.

Rafael Silveira – Painter of surreal art with a comic-book vibe.

Monika Horčicová – Sculptor who creates macabre but oddly soothing pieces from cast-resin skeletons.

Stones and Bones – Project by illustrator DZO featuring intricate drawings on animal skulls and smooth rocks.

Death Eater Mask – Nice tutorial from EPBOT.

Boo! Cubes – Ice cube/gelatin molds shaped like li’l three-dimensional ghosts.

Posted in Link Dump | 1 Comment »

2,000th Post Extravaganza

August 14th, 2014 by Cobwebs

If by “extravaganza” you mean “mildly interesting giveaway.”

I started this silly blog clear back in February of 2007 and began posting every weekday in June of that year. The ol’ blog statistics tell me that this is my 2,000th post. That seems like it should be worthy of some kind of celebration, so I am going to give away a Surprise Box o’ Gothy Stuff to three lucky(?) commenters.

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post by Friday, August 22. Specifically, you have to tell me something nice about yourself. Doesn’t matter what; could be, “I didn’t kick any puppies today. Yet.” Just something you like about yourself or that makes you happy. Three commenters will be chosen at random.

(Non-U.S. folks are more than welcome to play along, although shipping might be slower.)

Thanks for hanging out on this blog with me, for however long you’ve been here.

Posted in Whatever | 33 Comments »

NASA Scarves

August 13th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Witch Head NebulaDesigner Celine Semaan Vernon has created a line of gorgeous organic silk scarves and clothing using open-sourced images from NASA’s Hubble Telescope.

Everything is consciously made in collaboration with craftspeople using sustainable practices: Our natural fabrics are sourced from a socially and environmentally responsible company in India, and each limited edition piece is handcrafted in Montreal and New York from NASA’s open data collection of satellite images.

These are the perfect intersection of “goth” and “geek” because many of the photos are nebulas like the Witch Head (pictured above), the Tarantula, the Caterpillar, and the Cat’s Eye.

In addition to astronomical images there are designs based around high-altitude photos of sea ice, lava flows, and plankton blooms. There’s also a neat series of “cities by night,” showing London, Paris, and New York all lit up in the dark.

The collection really is lovely, and is a splendid, subtle way to let your geek flag fly.

(via Laughing Squid)

Posted in Needful Things | 3 Comments »

Lovecraft Storage Box

August 12th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Lovecraft BoxThe fabulous xJane, arbiter of all things stationery-related, recently pointed me to this Facebook post about a DIY Lovecraft-themed stationery storage box. It was made by a crafter named Al Rio; for the Facebook-impaired, I’m copying the photo (click to embiggen) and her comment here:

Typhoon season here in my country. By candle light in this stormy weather, the things we can make and do. How about a hand-made Lovecraftian box to store your favorite pens?

Materials: lots of craft paper, vinyl stickers, thermoplastic adhesive, foam board, sintra board, acrylic paints, costume prop accessories

xJane noted that it looked pretty DIY-able, and I agree. Wooden boxes of various sizes are widely available at craft stores and online; and you could even cheat and get an inexpensive decorative box from an import store that already looks exotic and spooky.

A design of your choice can be applied pretty easily with a stencil. Rio’s box uses the Necronomicon Gate, but you could do an Elder Sign, a simple Cthulhu, or google “Lovecraft stencil” for other examples. (That Cthulhu link, incidentally, also includes simple instructions for making your own stencil in case you aren’t sure how to proceed.)

If you want to use the box to store stationery supplies, check out this tutorial for repurposing an antique box; it includes instructions on lining the interior with decorative paper, and the final step includes making a DIY pen-and-pencil holder. Also take a look at Cigar Box Pen Storage for lots of additional inspiration.

The rest of the decoration can be as you desire: Leftover supplies from other craft projects, orphaned earrings, paint, and anything else which will lend an eldritch vibe. I like the “treasured reliquary” look of this box, but you could go in the opposite direction and distress it to look like something that had been buried in an ancient tomb and only recently unearthed.

Obviously, the same idea has uses beyond stationery storage. Depending upon the size of the box, you could use it for anything from holding jewelry to hiding your wireless router (be sure it’s adequately ventilated). Little individual treasure boxes would be interesting gifts for a bridal party. You could also make a set of varying sizes as office desk accessories; it’s much more fun to store paperclips in an artifact from the Mountains of Madness than a boring plastic cube.

(Thanks, xJane!)

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 2 Comments »

Premier Automne

August 11th, 2014 by Cobwebs

The title means “First Fall,” and this animated short is simply lovely.

Abel lives in the winter and Apolline lives in the summer. Isolated in their “natures”, they never met each other. They are not even supposed to meet. So when Abel crosses the border and discovers Apolline, curiosity is overwhelming. Their encounter soon becomes more complicated than they could imagine. Both of them will have to learn compromise to protect the other…

(via Beans)

Posted in Whatever | No Comments »

The Night of the Link Dump

August 8th, 2014 by Cobwebs

BACK – A western/fantasy webcomic “about the end of the world. Not post apocalyptic just the end of it all.” There’s an alternate Tumblr feed.

Christopher McKenney – This photographer calls himself a “horror surrealist.” His works are both lovely and really unsettling.

Les Vampires Oracle Cards – “Ancient Wisdom and healing messages from the Children of the Night.” Doll-like vampires with beestung lips help divine your future. There are other decks by the same artist: Oracle of the Shapeshifters and Oracle of Shadows and Light.

Zombie Apocalypse Engagement Photo Shoot – Fun themed photo shoot.

31 Days of Halloween Parties – Site with a couple of years’ worth of party ideas; it hasn’t been updated since 2012, but there are some useful links.

55 Words – I sort of love the idea of dinosaur ghosts.

Eye Heart Spleen – Pretty photo series of flowers arranged to look like human organs.

Improved Thrift Store Paintings – Artist Chris McMahon buys cheap paintings and “improves” them with monsters. They are utterly wonderful. (Hat tip to Pixel Pixie)

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – There is going to be a Harry Potter spin-off movie. Color me unsurprised.

Biology of Mermaids – Famed oceanographer Karl Banse has written a “serious” (in the sense of humor written with a straight face, rather than actual belief) scientific treatise on mermaids. A PDF of the full paper is here.


p.s. – I’m going to be dragged, kicking and shrieking, away from the computer for a week. Due to the magic of advance scheduling blog posts will continue as usual, but if you email and I don’t respond I’m not ignoring you. (Or am I? Muwahahahaha.)

Posted in Link Dump | 1 Comment »

« Previous Entries