The Art of Darkness

Oh No, Not Another Link Dump

April 16th, 2010 by Cobwebs

Halloween Army – Group devoted to emphasizing the positive aspects of Halloween.

The Most Beautiful Spider in the World – That sort of sounds like the title of a children’s book. Gorgeous close-up photos of jumping spiders in all their cuddly glory. (Hat tip to xJane)

Meg Matthews’ Home – A couple of shots of the interior of Noel Gallagher’s ex-wife’s home. I sort of love the bathroom.

Girl in a Vestibule – The comments are divided on whether or not the video is staged, but this kind of prank amuses me either way.

Hitchcock Reimagined – Some very slick updates of posters for four classic movies.

Alien vs. Pooh – An odd little Webcomic…thing that’s about just what it sounds like it’s about. I think my favorite panel involves the thing that Tiggers do best.

How to Speak Zombie – Learn the language and blend in seamlessly when the apocalypse comes. (Hat tip to Kitten Herder)

Posted in Link Dump | 1 Comment »

Hobby Sarge

April 15th, 2010 by Cobwebs

Hobby Sarge

Sometimes Para Abnormal really speaks to me.

Posted in Funny Peculiar | No Comments »

DIY Chain Heels

April 14th, 2010 by Cobwebs

Chain HeelsFashion Infusion has a great tutorial for gussying up a pair of plain shoes with chains and studs. I love this kind of DIY embellishment: It’s fairly simple, but the result is really stunning and looks like it took far more effort than it really did.

Check out some of the blog’s other DIY ideas too: I’m especially fond of these fingernail gloves and these decorated tights. There aren’t any instructions for those two, but they’re wonderful inspiration nonetheless.

(via Haute Macabre)

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 2 Comments »

Seen Online

April 13th, 2010 by Cobwebs

Just a tip, but apparently they are really serious about this whole “voodoo has to be done on a DOLL” thing.

I had planned to teach my robot right and wrong, but so far I’m pretty impressed with its choice of victims.

I hope my wife realizes one day I will come home with magic beans.

“You’re never alone.”: A phrase that’s maybe cute to find in a love note, but horrifying to find smeared on a fogged up bathroom mirror.

You can tell a lot about a person during the opening of Queen’s “Under Pressure” depending on how bummed they are it’s not “Ice Ice Baby”.

We are the people of the book. We love our books. We fill our houses with books. We treasure books we inherit from our parents, and we cherish the idea of passing those books on to our children. Indeed, how many of us started reading with a beloved book that belonged to one of our parents? We force worthy books on our friends, and we insist that they read them. We even feel a weird kinship for the people we see on buses or airplanes reading our books, the books that we claim. If anyone tries to take away our books–some oppressive government, some censor gone off the rails–we would defend them with everything that we have. We know our tribespeople when we visit their homes because every wall is lined with books. There are teetering piles of books beside the bed and on the floor; there are masses of swollen paperbacks in the bathroom. Our books are us. They are our outboard memory banks and they contain the moral, intellectual, and imaginative influences that make us the people we are today.
— Cory Doctorow, in a speech about DRM (This isn’t funny; I just really liked it)

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DIY Wax Seal

April 12th, 2010 by Cobwebs

SealI love the elegant look of wax seals, but it’s sometimes difficult (or expensive) to find the perfect design. The RageHaus blog has a great tutorial on making a custom seal using a wooden dowel.

The pattern is incised with a wood-burning tool, so unless you have a very steady hand you might not be able to get the same kind of fiddly little detail that you would with a cast metal stamp. If you don’t have a wood-burning tool, I expect that it might also be possible to carve the design with an X-Acto knife or a small Dremel tool.

The technique should be fine for things like monogram initials in the font of your choice or patterns with a fairly simple outline (say, bats rather than intricate spiderwebs). Making your own is certainly cheaper than having a custom stamp designed for you, and the dowel should hold up much longer than stamps made of linoleum or other soft materials.

The DIY method gives you great flexibility in matching a seal to its intended purpose: The invitations for each party you throw could have different themed seals, and RPG props, Halloween decorations, or special documents could all benefit from a seal with an appropriate design.

(via MAKE)

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 2 Comments »

The Link Dump of the Rue Morgue

April 9th, 2010 by Cobwebs

Alice in Wonderland Hair Clips – Cute and easy idea for using scraps of fabric you can’t bear to part with.

Paint Strip Wall Decoration – Room “wallpapered” with decoupaged hardware-store paint swatches. This would be an interesting design done with things like wine labels or vintage photographs, too.

8 Unconventional Ways to be Buried – The title is a bit of a misnomer, since this is actually a list of ways to dispose of human remains, none of which involve actual burial.

Miskatonic University Hazard Labels – Downloadable labels warning of various dire supernatural hazards.

404 Page – This site’s error message amused me.

The Trembling Veil of Bones – In addition to having a seriously awesome title, this film’s plot sounds intriguing.

Potency – Artist Nina Maria Kleivan dressed her baby daughter Faustina up as various evil dictators to illustrate how everyone begins life the same. Now that the kid has a taste for minions (not to mention a name like Faustina), she’s bound to grow up to be an Imperial Overlord.

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“Shadow” Coasters

April 8th, 2010 by Cobwebs

Guinness CoastersThese are kind of brilliant. I ran across them on Orange and Black, and a bit of sleuthing revealed that they were part of an ad campaign in Romania. Guinness is a niche brand there, and the coasters were created as a low-cost idea to drive sales on Halloween.

These would be a fun and not-too-terribly-difficult project if you’re handy with an X-Acto knife. The coasters could be cut out of acetate or other thin plastic, or possibly fron thin sheets of cork; if they won’t be used heavily they might also be cut from sturdy felt.

A set of these coasters would be an interesting hostess gift, particularly if paired with a six-pack of Guinness or a dark alcohol like Blavod. For a simple idea, they have an enormous amount of style.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 2 Comments »

Pterodactyl Dresser

April 7th, 2010 by Cobwebs

DresserThis is just adorable. Craftster member isfive is decorating her son’s nursery, but she can’t paint the walls because she’s renting. Instead she’s adding a big dollop of color by hand-stenciling this fantastic dresser. There are photos on her Craftster post and great project details on her blog.

I love the clean graphic look of the stencils, and this is just a wonderful (and inexpensive!) way to bring some color to a room without painting the walls. I particularly like stencils because they don’t require the artistic level that hand-painting does, so you can turn out professional-looking results with relatively little effort.

Obviously, you could go a bit darker by replacing the pterodactyls with bats; it would still be cute for a child’s room if they were nonthreatening fairy-tale sorts of bats, perhaps issuing from a castle window. For a more grown-up look, you might use bolder colors and spookier bats. Other creepy critters with strong silhouettes would also be good candidates for the stencil treatment: A dresser with drawers that alternated spiders and webs would be wonderfully dramatic.

(via CRAFT)

Posted in Bittens | 1 Comment »

Author Review: Tim Powers

April 6th, 2010 by Cobwebs

I was digging through some SF book reviews I wrote a while back, and it occurred to me that one of the authors would probably be of interest to gothier sensibilities as well. Here’s the review of Tim Powers I did for the Other*Worlds*Cafe:

Tim Powers! Whee! Tim Powers tips perilously close into straight fantasy, and…I don’t care. To be perfectly honest, the only real science fiction novel that Powers has written, Dinner at Deviant’s Palace, really, really sucks. Really, really hard. All of his good stuff–and it really is amazingly good–involves vampires, the last “inspiration” of Thomas Edison, or the reincarnation of King Arthur.

Now that that ugly truth is out of the way, I can talk about how much Powers’ work feels like SF without actually being it.

Powers–along with Blaylock and Jeter–was a disciple of P.K. Dick, and it shows in some of his work. There’s a strong undercurrent of weird running through his novels. He also has some of the most labyrinthine plots, which draw together–in what seems like an entirely rational fashion–some of the most disparate elements, that I’ve ever encountered. Powers’ great strength is to take real historical facts–the Turkish attack on Vienna, the death of Lord Byron, World War II espionage, amongst others–and string them together with entirely plausible behind-the-scenes supposition that neatly “explains” everything that happened against a context of pure fantasy.

Books to look for include:

  • The Drawing of the Dark – A down-at-heels adventurer discovers that he is the highly-unwilling reincarnation of King Arthur, brought back to save the West from obliteration by attack from the East. This is the book that introduced me to Powers, and the fact that beer turns out to have a large part in the salvation of civilization certainly doesn’t do any less to endear it to me.
  • The Stress of Her Regard – If pressed really hard, I’d probably have to name this one as my favorite Powers novel. Described by the publisher as a “horror-adventure,” it follows the travels of a man who has unwittingly proposed marriage to a lamia (a rather specific type of malignant female spirit). It manages to shoehorn Byron, Shelley, Polidori, all kinds of vampire literature, the founding of Venice, European folklore, and homunculi into one novel, and tie them all together. I think DaVinci’s in there somewhere, too. This is a creepy, atmospheric novel, hard to read alone at night but even harder to put down.
  • Expiration Date – The essences of the dead are breathed out in their last exhalation, and can be kept in little jars, to be snorted by “ghost junkies.” Powers took the curious fact that Henry Ford captured Thomas Edison’s dying breath in a glass vial, and managed to hang an entire novel on it (actually two, since there’s a sequel, Earthquake Weather). An 11-year-old boy accidentally becomes possessed by the spirit of Edison, and becomes the center of a feeding frenzy of ghost eaters trying to absorb the late inventor’s genius. As with other Powers works, a really ridiculous amount of seemingly-unconnected things all tie together so seamlessly and plausibly that you halfway wonder if they aren’t actually linked.

I haven’t got ’round to Powers’ more recent stuff, such as Declare and Three Days to Never, but from reviews it seems that his novels just keep getting better and more complex. I mean, really complex. Take a look at the Amazon review of Declare:

This supernatural suspense thriller crosses several genres–espionage, geopolitics, religion, fantasy. But like the chicken crossing the road, it takes quite a while to get to the other side. En route, Tim Powers covers a lot of territory: Turkey, Armenia, the Saudi Arabian desert, Beirut, London, Paris, Berlin, and Moscow. Andrew Hale, an Oxford lecturer who first entered Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service as an 18-year-old schoolboy, is called back to finish a job that culminated in a deadly mission on Mount Ararat after the end of World War II. Now it’s 1963, and cold war politics are behind the decision to activate Hale for another attempt to complete Operation Declare and bring down the Communist government before Moscow can harness the powerful, other-worldly forces concentrated on the summit of the mountain, supposed site of the landing of Noah’s ark. James Theodora is the ├╝ber-spymaster whose internecine rivalry with other branches of the Secret Intelligence Service traps Hale between a rock and a hard place, literally and figuratively. There’s plenty of mountain and desert survival stuff here, a plethora of geopolitical and theological history, and a big serving of A Thousand and One Nights, which is Hale’s guide to the meteorites, drogue stones, and amonon plant, which figure in this complicated tale. There’s a love story, too, and a bizarre twist on the Kim Philby legend that posits both Philby and Hale as the only humans who can tame the powers of the djinns who populate Mount Ararat.

Whoa, Nelly.

Anyway. Powers. Good author, highly recommended.

If you have to pick just one book mentioned above to read, I’d recommend The Stress of Her Regard. It’s full of vampiry goodness, and the “secret history” aspect is very well done.

Incidentally, another of Powers’ books, On Stranger Tides, was optioned by Disney as part of the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Good stuff.

Posted in Whatever | 1 Comment »

Adventures in Beekeeping

April 5th, 2010 by Cobwebs

BeeIn my continuing effort to have acquaintances say, “You do what?” whenever they speak to me, I’ve recently added beekeeping to my list of hobbies.

Suburban and even urban beekeeping is increasing in popularity, and since it’s a subject I’ve been interested in for quite some time I finally decided to take a class offered by my local beekeeping club.* They’re an enthusiastic and friendly bunch, and like many gonzo hobbyists they’re eager to make all of us love their hobby as much as they do.

The classes have been interesting, covering topics ranging from sustainable pest management to how to bribe your neighbors so they don’t object to you keeping 50,000 stinging insects next door.** They even assigned each of us a mentor–mine bears a striking resemblance to a young Dumbledore–to help us get started. (Which is good, because there is one heck of a lot of new information to absorb.)

I hived my first package of bees last weekend, and as is apparently traditional I have named the queen. Lilith (queen of the damned) and her minions are buzzing around in my front yard, and I couldn’t be happier.

Shadow Jack, incidentally, has suggested that we eventually might sell beeswax and honey on the site, claiming that the products are the work of “zom-bees” using nectar collected exclusively from funeral lilies. Shadow Jack has a screw loose.

Anyway, bees. If you’re interested in exploring the hobby, check to see if there’s a local club you can join, take a look at books such as The Backyard Beekeeper or Beekeeping for Dummies, and look for relevant blogs (like Backwards Beekeepers) and forums (like Beesource). Come…join us. We have honey!

*Minor digression: In the first class we went around the room and explained why we were interested in beekeeping. One person had a small orchard and wanted to improve pollination. A couple of people wanted to help stave off CCD. When they got to me I joked, “My husband won’t let me keep goats, so I figured I could get away with smaller livestock.” At the break, three different women approached me and commiserated about the goats. A few weeks later I called a bee equipment supplier to order my hive, and while the nice lady was processing my order she asked why I was taking up the hobby. I explained that I’d been interested in it for a while, then made the same, “plus my husband refuses to let me keep goats” joke I’d made in class. She immediately said, “My husband won’t let me keep goats either!” There is apparently a huge number of women whose goat-havingness is being thwarted by our husbands, and we’re all turning to beekeeping to console ourselves. Someday we will raise an apian army and sting the bastards.

**They also recommended that we have our doctor write a prescription for an Epipen, even if we weren’t allergic. Just in case. This is the first hobby I’ve ever considered that has the potential to kill you. It’s awesome.

(Bee photo courtesy of Empress Pam, who watched the hive install.)

Posted in Unhallowed Ground | 9 Comments »

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