The Art of Darkness

MicroSFF: Monsters Under the Bed

March 7th, 2017 by Cobwebs

The @MicroSFF Twitter feed is a trove of wonderful, tiny stories.

The author recently said that he was thinking about this tweet:

…and followed up with this marvelous thread:

On a similar note, and not-coincidentally, right after the U.S. election, the account tweeted these gems:

queenofthedorks liked that one so much that she illustrated it.

What I’m saying is that @MicroSFF does monsters-under-the-bed right and you should totally follow them.

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Somebody Write This

February 15th, 2017 by Cobwebs

There was a recent thread on AskReddit: Night shift workers of Reddit, what are some creepy things you’ve experienced in the middle of the night?

Redditor xelle24 told this creepy story:

My brother moved in with me a few months ago and got a job doing night shift custodial work at a nearby high school. His “workday” starts at 10 pm, and fortunately for him, it’s close enough to walk, because he gets off shift about 20 minutes after I have to leave for work in the morning, and he doesn’t have a car.

One night, a little after midnight, he calls me in a panic asking me to come down and pick him up, because there’s some kind of ‘weird shit’ happening (his exact words) and there’s no way he’s sticking around by himself. My brother isn’t the sort to freak out over nothing, so I hop in the car (in my jammies) and head down to the high school.

A little background is needed here: as children, my brother was apparently “sensitive”. He often talked about various seemingly supernatural encounters. In one very old house we lived in, he told our parents that a man would come to his room at night and tell him bedtime stories. It wasn’t until we were grown up that our father told us that a distant relative had committed suicide in the same room that was my brother’s bedroom, years before either of us was born, and that my brother’s description of the man matched the deceased relative.

I’m the exact opposite. Nothing creepy or supernatural ever happens to me or around me. If it happened there before, it doesn’t happen when I’m there, and often doesn’t return after I leave. I’ve had enough perplexed people tell me that their ghost went away after I visited their house, or that a particular place stopped being creepy after I was there, or had someone acting crazy calm down when I talked to them, to be pretty sure that I’m some kind of natural repellent for creepy shit.

So I get to the high school, and my brother is standing by the front doors. He runs over to the car and tells me that I have to come and make “it” stop.

“It” was the sound of lockers opening and closing just out of sight. He would turn a corner of a hallway and hear a locker open and slam closed behind him, or around the corner of the next hallway.

We go into the school, my brother practically hanging on my arm (which probably looked hilarious, as I’m shorter and plump, and he’s tall and super skinny – like a modern version of Laurel and Hardy). We walk up and down all the halls. Nothing happens. No sounds, no movement, no lockers opening or closing. No cold spots, no inexplicable drafts, no creepy noises or feelings.

We walk down the last hallway, at which point it getting on for 1 am and I’m tired and just want to go back home. There’s one locker standing ajar, and as we approach it, my brother reaches out to close it, pulls his hand back, and says, “You do it.”

I close the locker. Nothing happens.

Finally my brother says I can go, as long as I promise to come back the next night if there are any more problems.

A week later, he comes home and hands me a thank you note and a $50 Amazon gift card from the head of the custodial department for “services rendered”.

Easiest 50 bucks I’ve ever made.

And necropoli followed up with this reply:

You guys sound like sibling ghost hunter team but you have to work together to exorcise ghosts. Only one of you can see them and only one can dispel them. The tension comes from your brother seeing your dead wife as a ghost but you know you can never see her lest you exorcise her by being in the room. The burgeoning relationship between your brother and your ex-wife you can’t bring yourself to destroy drives a wedge in between your well-oiled ghost hunting operation. On the eve of Halloween, no less!

It’ll be a heartwrenching instaclassic with Oscar written all over it. I want 20% of the box office KTHX

I need this movie immediately. And then spin it off into a TV series. It would be spectacular.

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The League of Extraordinary Link Dumps

February 3rd, 2017 by Cobwebs

23 Things Tumblr Has Thought About The Weasley Family – It’s clickbait, but it’s amusing clickbait.

Werewolf Licorice – I can’t vouch for the taste, but the packaging is pretty nifty. The company has a Witch Licorice too. (via Pixel Pixie)

Knitted Brain Hat – Pattern and tutorial for making a brainy hat. Perfect for attending the upcoming Science March in DC.

Is This the Most Awesome Library in the World? – The library at Mafra National Palace in Portugal keeps insects under control with a flock of bats.

Hyrax – I’ve talked about the hyrax–and its adorable li’l vampire fangs–previously, but I like this roundup of photos.

Agnieszka Osipa – Artist who makes gorgeous fairytale-inspired costumes. Marginally NSFW if your boss is uptight.

Beetle House NYC – There’s a Tim Burton-themed bar opening in New York.

Dial-a-Grue – This project to port Zork to work via rotary phone is delightfully bonkers.

Bat Robot Takes Wing – Bat bot!

Flick Candles – Offers scents like “Nicotine Pumpkin Patch,” “Freshly Signed Divorce Papers,” and “Grandma’s Last Christmas Tree.”

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R.I.P. Arbroath

February 1st, 2017 by Cobwebs

The long-running blog Nothing To Do With Arbroath has always been a source of amusement and WTF-ery. Its owner, Kev, went on short hiatus last November complaining of health issues, then returned to post occasional updates about his battle with cancer. Today, Joanne from I Have Seen The Whole Of The Internet announced that Kev had passed. If you enjoyed Kev’s blog, tributes can be left here.

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Stuff I Found While Looking Around

January 17th, 2017 by Cobwebs

It’s time for another bunch of random stuff I want to share but can’t 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.)

Fairy Shoes

Fairy Shoes

These cute fairy-wing shoes are by Sophia Webster.

Vampire Onesie

Vampire Baby Onesie

Available from TeePublic, amongst other vendors.

Pumpkin Gown

Pumpkin Gown

I’ve featured Nez of DarkSpectre’s work previously. There are additional photos of this gown on her Facebook page.

Frankenstein

How Frankenstein Should Have Ended

God, yes. Tweeted by @zdarsky.

Baby Spider

Baby Spider Costume

I can’t find an original source–all roads lead to Pinterest–but this would be a fairly easy costume to DIY if you have a baby you don’t know what to do with.

Hearsecycle

Hearsecycle

My pal Empress Pam encountered this in the wild and sent me a photo. I assume it’d be popular for biker funerals.

Cactopi

Cactopi

This is a sculpture by Ed Kroupa, but I really want one as a pet.

Beware Sign

“Beware” Sign

This shows up a lot in compilations of funny “beware of dog” signs, but it would also be a great “beware of monster” prop. It’d be easy to DIY with foam board.

Bat Dolls

Bats

This is a sculpture by Scott Radke (whose site is annoying as hell to navigate). It’d be fun to do a similar Halloween decoration using baby dolls and felt.

Lemon Cross-Stitch

Lemon Cross-Stitch

This made me giggle. The pattern is available on Etsy.

Count Squirrel

Count Squirrel

Found by my pal Richard, who commented, “I’m not sure which I find more theologically disturbing: The idea of Squirrel vampires or that Squirrel Jesus was crucified.”

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Vincent Price’s Dracula

December 12th, 2016 by Cobwebs

The fabulous Pixel Pixie shared this with me, commenting, “This is pretty horrible. You should watch it,” which neatly sums up our friendship.

As a bonus, she also shared Price doing the Monster Mash. Yowza.

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Remember to Vote!

November 8th, 2016 by Cobwebs

VoteIf you’re a U.S. citizen, remember to vote today. Don’t put it off. Don’t decide it’s too much trouble. Vote like your future depends on it, because it does.

Not voting will make Benjamin Franklin cry. You don’t want Benjamin Franklin to cry, do you? Look; his lip is already quivering. Go vote, you monster.

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This Year’s Costumes

October 24th, 2016 by Cobwebs

Halloween Photo 1It’s time for the annual costume recap! Every year I spend entirely too much time making costumes for Shadowboy and one or two friends, then have professional photos taken. Sometimes I’m lucky and can talk them into matching costumes, and sometimes…not so much.

This year Shadowboy and one friend wanted to go as Mario and Luigi, and the other friend steadfastly declined to complete the trio by being Princess Peach and instead wanted to be Bloody Mary. Which, y’know, props for originality but you’re killing my costume photos, kid. Last year it was Doc Brown, Marty McFly, and…a frog. This year it’s two videogame icons and a hellspawn. Stahp.

The boys’ costumes were made by modifying a simple “loungewear” pattern, Simplicity 1605. The shirts were made from cotton jersey and followed the pattern with no alterations. The overalls were blue twill; I made the pajama bottoms according to the pattern and before inserting the elastic at the waistband I stitched on a front panel with straps that I made freehand (the big yellow buttons are nonfunctional). I toyed with making the hats from leftover jersey but found some online that were cheap, and since I get no joy from making hats I decided to cheat. The gloves were plain cotton parade gloves; Shadowboy complained that they lacked the cartoony black lines on the back, and since I was afraid that a black marker would bleed I wound up hand-embroidering cartoony black lines. Oy. The mustaches were cheap party favors and stuck about as well as you’d expect cheap party favors to stick; on Halloween I’ll be using spirit gum.

Despite being fairly simple, the costumes turned out pretty well. Here are the boys posing: Mario | Luigi. And here are a couple of “action shots” that the photographer managed to capture: Mario | Luigi

Bloody Mary’s costume was Simplicity 3725, view “C.” I omitted all of the recommended trim and instead used embroidered ribbon on the bodice and sleeves. The fabric was chosen the way I always choose fabric when I’m not entirely sure what the costume is supposed to look like: In a frenzy of indecision, throwing everything that looks vaguely promising into the cart and hoping I can figure something out. I wound up using everything; I had a yard of two different fabrics that I didn’t use in the dress, but I decided that she needed a veil and they worked perfectly. I stitched them to a fabric headband and then sewed a row of little silk roses along the top. After I finished the dress I realized that completely by chance I’d chosen a pattern that’s pretty similar to what Princess Peach wears so at least she can sort of match the boys’ costumes. It’ll be Mario, Luigi, and the malevolent ghost of Princess Peach, back from the grave and hell-bent on vengeance.

Here she is, with and without the veil. The photographer also did some action shots of her, running toward the camera and (my favorite) posing with a mirror. She’s definitely selling the spooky.

So that’s this year’s collection wrapped up. Maybe if I start lobbying now I can convince them to let me do something challenging next year, like Labyrinth or Beetlejuice or just about anything more interesting than overalls. Sigh.

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It’s Secret Pumpkin Time Again!

September 14th, 2016 by Cobwebs

Secret Pumpkin Logo

The Secret Pumpkin gift exchange was conceived as a way to soothe those spooky souls pining for October by sending them a little Halloween in April. It’s similar to a Secret Santa exchange but the gifts are supposed to be spooky in nature; you can read my previous description and details here.

And now it’s time to open up registration for next April’s exchange! If you’d like to participate, go to the Secret Pumpkin site:

1) If you did not participate last year, click the “Join” link and fill out the form.

2) If you DID participate last year, log in, click the “Update Profile” link and change the “Activate My Membership” option to Yes.

(Just in case it isn’t clear–folks have been confused in the past–I’m the person who manages the site, so you aren’t blindly submitting your mailing address to some anonymous stranger.)

I’d previously suggested that participants should join one of the two Halloween listservs which originally spawned the exchange, but they’ve withered away so much that they may actually be defunct; instead I send occasional reminders directly to the participants.

You can sign up even if you aren’t in the U.S., and if you encourage friends from the same country to participate you don’t have to worry about exorbitant shipping. My script matches people in the same country preferentially, and at the end of the signup period I’ll let you know if you’re the only one in your country so you can decide whether or not to participate.

The deadline for signups is October 15. All that I ask is please, PLEASE don’t sign up for the exchange unless you’re serious about following through. We occasionally have participants flake out, and their Pumpkins are always sorely disappointed.

C’mon and join! It’s lots of fun, and getting something unexpectedly Halloweeny in April is a treat.

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Super-Terrific Giveaway Thing

September 5th, 2016 by Cobwebs

Teschio MaskOh boy, you guys; have I got a treat for you.

A couple of years ago the nice people at VIVO masks sponsored a giveaway with my readers, and they recently contacted me to ask if I’d like to do it again. Hells, yeah; their stuff is awesome.

Last time we arranged with them to ship directly to the winner, so I never got my hands on the mask. This time they sent it to me to ship out, which means I can comment more specifically on the quality of the mask and I can open up the giveaway to overseas readers.

The mask they’re giving away is the Teschio Black, a metal masquerade piece in the shape of a skull. It’s an absolutely gorgeous piece, and is perfect for the goth set. I could imagine designing a whole cosplay outfit around this mask.

VIVO has hundreds of different styles, all handmade in Italy, and they ship worldwide. Given the quality, the prices are surprisingly reasonable. Their Masquerade Blog is pretty neat, too; they have a lot of suggestions for things like decorating for Halloween.

If you’d like to enter to win this mask, just leave a comment on this post by Friday, September 16. A winner will be chosen at random.

Thanks again to VIVO for the lovely giveaway opportunity!

Update:

Random NumberThe contest is over and random.org spat back the magic number 10, which means Mim is the proud owner of the mask. I shall snail-mail it to her forthwith.

Thanks to everyone who played along!

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