The Art of Darkness

Secret Santa Can Suck It, Part Deux

November 30th, 2010 by Cobwebs

SantaLast year we kicked off the Secret Santa Can Suck It virtual gift exchange, and it was such fun that we’re doin’ it again next year.

To participate, leave a comment on this post or email me and tell me that you want to be part of the swap by December 15. On the 16th I will tell you who your assigned giftee is, you’ll decide what you would get that person if you had unlimited money and/or time, and some time before December 22 you’ll post a picture of your “gift” on your blog (if you don’t have a blog, you can arrange to have your gift posted here). Your gift can be as silly or serious as you like, and since you probably won’t know the person you’re “giving” it to, feel free to make up whatever story you want about why it’s appropriate for them.

On December 23 I’ll post a list of everybody’s entries so we can all marvel at each other’s good taste. It’s a 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 summon up your inner Santa and join in!

(Image Credit)

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Seen Online

November 29th, 2010 by Cobwebs

In accordance with his will, Stephen King’s ashes are to be scattered across your children’s innermost fears.

I think it’s strange that I’m the only person who showed up dressed like singer Robert Smith at an event called Race For The Cure.

One time, long ago, when you weren’t looking, I swapped souls with you. Now yours is dirtier than mine. I want to swap back. Hold still.

I like to imagine my toaster is in a sadomasochistic relationship with my bread. The bread has no safeword.

Shout out to the old lady on the train today with a bible and highlighter who looked me in the eyes, scowled, then highlighted something.

Return to empty house. TV turned on to UFC. Faint smell of Axe body spray. Worst fear realized. My house has polterguys.

Radiohead are The Beatles if the Nazis had won.

An optimist sees the glass as half-full. A hipster knew about the glass before you did and doesn’t think it’s cool anymore.

Live Fast. Die Young. Leave a Flesh Eating Corpse.
— Damon Gregory

The Pope now has a Facebook page. His relationship status reads: “I have candy”

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Poetry Sunday

November 28th, 2010 by Cobwebs


I am almost afraid of the wind out there.
The dead leaves skip on the porches bare,
The windows clatter and whine.
I sit here in the quiet house. low-lit.
With the clock that ticks and the books that stand.
Wise and silent, on every hand.

I am almost afraid; though I know the night
Lets no ghosts walk in the warm lamplight.
Yet ghosts there are; and they blow, they blow,
Out in the wind and the scattering snow.-
When I open the windows and go to bed,
Will the ghosts come In and stand at my head?

Last night I dreamed they came back again.
I heard them talking; I saw them plain.
They hugged me and held me and loved me; spoke
Of happy doings and friendly folk.
They seemed to have journeyed a week away,
but now they were ready and glad to stay.

But, oh, if they came on the wind to-night
Could I bear their faces, their garments white
Blown in the dark around my lonely bed?
Oh, could I forgive them for being dead?
I am almost afraid of the wind. My shame!
That I would not be glad if my dear ones came!

— Fannie Stearns Davis

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Trivia Saturday

November 27th, 2010 by Cobwebs

(No prizes, but if you can answer them all without googling you get bragging rights.)

  1. In what is widely viewed as the worst science fiction movie of all time, aliens come up with the brilliant idea of using human zombies to attack earth. Name it.
  2. What was Bela Lugosi’s real name?
  3. This collection of short stories was inspired by a “filk” song of the same name. Whose ghost is haunting Space Station Three?
  4. At the beginning of the first Night of the Living Dead movie, the female character’s brother tries to scare her by mimicking the walking dead and saying what?
  5. What was Morticia Addams’ maiden name?
  6. General Mills marketed a line of five “monster cereals.” Three, “Count Chocula,” “Frankenberry,” and “Boo Berry” are still in production. Name the two discontinued flavors.
  7. Although classified as a horror writer, some of Stephen King’s work has a strong SF element. Which of his books details the citizens of Haven, Maine’s fatal encounter with creatures from outer space?
  8. According to folklore, you can escape a werewolf by running into a field of rye or climbing what kind of tree?
  9. This famous horror novelist was born Howard Allen Frances O’Brien in 1941 and hails from New Orleans. By what name is this author much more well known?
  10. A chapter of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula was deleted by the publisher to help streamline the novel. It was later released separately as its own short story. What was its title?

(Answers below the fold)

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Call of the Link Dump

November 26th, 2010 by Cobwebs

Custom PF Flyers – Custom-painted sneakers. The skull one was done by a tattoo artist; I wonder if it would be possible to talk a local tattoo artist into doing custom work like this.

Shake Me – Mildly creepy salt and pepper shakers inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

Thingbats – Etsy seller specializing in little polymer clay sculptures. These little vampires would be adorable as cake toppers. (via hinkenhook)

The World’s Largest Gummy Worm – This makes me vaguely ill.

Monster Doll Tutorial – Instructions for making cuddly little freeform monsters that would be perfect for kids.

Hungover Owls – This is funnier than it ought to be.

Amigurumi Exorcist Playset – Tutorial for crocheting a scene from The Exorcist. I think it’s the little stitched pea-soup vomit that really makes this. (Requires a Ravelry login; link goes to photo at CRAFT)

Lydia the Tattooed Lady Costume – No instructions, but great inspiration.

Ghost Coach – Adorable “haunted hearse” made from Legos.

Kalapusa – DeviantART member who semi-specializes in sculptures of what classic videogame characters would look like with real-world anatomy. His Pac-Man is going to give me nightmares.

Wedding Porn – Flickr photoset of a fantastic “Tim Burton New Orleans Voodoo Halloween Wedding.” Some great inspiration.

Steampunk Mr. Potato Head – Cute mod at Instructables.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25th, 2010 by Cobwebs

Happy American Thanksgiving! May your day be lovely and your food coma prodigious.


From Para Abnormal

(Here’s the original, for comparison.)

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Whole Lotta War Pigs

November 24th, 2010 by Cobwebs

(via Cynical-C)

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An Update on the Bees

November 23rd, 2010 by Cobwebs

BeesSo the bees are safely tucked away for the winter, and other than keeping snow from blocking their entrance and checking once or twice to make sure they haven’t used up all of their food stores, I can pretty much ignore them until spring. Reflecting upon my first year of beekeeping, I have to say that I heartily recommend the hobby.

Bees take far less care and attention than any other livestock, so it’s possible to fit them into the busiest schedule: You inspect the hive once a week (or less) during the height of the season, and perform very occasional maintenance duties like dusting them for mites.* They’re surprisingly non-intrusive: Even though we certainly noticed their activity in the garden, we never really saw an increased bee presence where we didn’t want them.** And they’re also amazingly gentle: Shadowboy and I would often walk right up to the hive and watch them going in and out, and Shadow Jack occasionally used a weed whacker a few feet away without ever being bothered. I was stung exactly once this year, and it was completely my own fault.***

The information overload that I complained about initially also quickly resolved itself. You do have to know a fair amount about caring for bees, but the trick is that you don’t have to know it all at once. By the time you need to start learning about more advanced topics like pest control, you’ve already learned (and are comfortable with) routine inspections and maintenance. A seasonal calendar and a couple of reference books (plus the indispensable Mr. Google) will help you stay on track.

I unfortunately didn’t get to harvest any honey this year–which isn’t unusual if you start with a package–but I did collect a bit of extra wax and plan to experiment with candles. However, even without the honey, the hobby is immensely rewarding. It’s fascinating to observe the hive at work, and to pull out a frame swarming with bees and figure out what each one is doing.**** It’s also fun to be a “speaker for the bees:” I’ve done community outreach events with my beekeeping club, spoken to Shadowboy’s class, and been interviewed by a college student writing a paper on urban beekeeping. People seem to be fascinated with bees, and it’s rewarding to be able to de-mystify them. It’s also a healthy activity: Between prepping the hive site, working with the bees, and doing yardwork (such as planting bee-friendly flowers) to make them comfortable, I’ve spent more time outside this year than I normally spend in three.

Bottom line: Immensely rewarding hobby, and I highly recommend it. If you’ve got space for a hive, I’d encourage you to give it a try.

*Which is actually fun. As someone with strong crunchy-granola tree-hugging tendencies, I’ve opted for a pest management routine that emphasizes non-chemical solutions. To get rid of the varroa mites that infest bees, you open up the top of the hive and dust heavily with powdered sugar (which encourages the bees to groom themselves and knock off the mites). Surprised bees boil out of the hive, looking like little flying powdered doughnuts. It’s hilarious.

**Well, aside from one incident where I sprayed some wax foundation with sugar syrup (which encourages the bees to build out honeycomb) and put a leftover frame in the garage. An hour later there were, oh, about five thousand bees in the garage. Covering the frame in plastic wrap so they couldn’t smell the syrup solved that, but it was a rather arresting sight.

***I frequently wander down to the hive when I get home from work, and one time I noticed a line of ants near the entrance. I was standing right next to the hive, wearing no protective gear, shooing ants away with a stick, and a guard bee essentially went, “You have got to be kidding me.” If you’re slightly less dumb than I was, you’ll probably never get stung.

****In the photo above, for example, they’re not swarming; they’re cooling off. When it gets too hot they collect in large clusters and fan their wings, cooling themselves and helping to maintain the hive temperature. Either way, a big wad of bees hanging from the landing board is certainly an impressive sight.

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November 22nd, 2010 by Cobwebs

Skull RingSites that permit you to custom-manufacture various items have been gaining popularity on the Web over the past couple of years: Lulu lets you print your own books, places like Cafepress allow you to customize T-shirts, and Spoonflower offers on-demand custom fabrics.

And now there’s a new service that is kind of blowing my mind. Shapeways will print 3-D objects for you.

They use the same additive manufacturing technology that’s become so popular for rapid prototyping, where multiple layers of material are “printed” on top of each other until a 3-dimensional object is built up. They provide an interface to design objects of your own, and you can also upload a design that you’ve created in a CAD program.

In addition to creating unique objects or prototypes for your own use, they also offer an Etsy-type store where you can sell your creations (such as the skull ring pictured above).

This service is a huge boon to those of us with no sculpting ability whatsoever, or for anyone who wants to (for instance) create a one-of-a-kind ring without investing in metallurgy tools.

(via Curious Goods, who is selling the Key to Oz)

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Poetry Sunday

November 21st, 2010 by Cobwebs

Totentanz Dance of Death
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe English translation by Edgar Alfred Bowring
Der Türmer, der schaut zu Mitten der Nacht The warder looks down at the mid hour of night,
Hinab auf die Gräber in Lage; On the tombs that lie scatter’d below:
Der Mond, der hat alles ins Helle gebracht; The moon fills the place with her silvery light,
Der Kirchhof, er liegt wie am Tage. And the churchyard like day seems to glow.
Da regt sich ein Grab und ein anderes dann: When see! first one grave, then another opes wide,
Sie kommen hervor, ein Weib da, ein Mann, And women and men stepping forth are descried,
In weißen und schleppenden Hemden. In cerements snow-white and trailing.
Das reckt nun, es will sich ergetzen sogleich, In haste for the sport soon their ankles they twitch,
Die Knöchel zur Runde, zum Kranze, And whirl round in dances so gay;
So arm und so jung, und so alt und so reich; The young and the old, and the poor, and the rich,
Doch hindern die Schleppen am Tanze. But the cerements stand in their way;
Und weil hier die Scham nun nicht weiter gebeut, And as modesty cannot avail them aught here,
Sie schütteln sich alle, da liegen zerstreut They shake themselves all, and the shrouds soon appear
Die Hemdlein über den Hügeln. Scatter’d over the tombs in confusion.
Nun hebt sich der Schenkel, nun wackelt das Bein, Now waggles the leg, and now wriggles the thigh,
Gebärden da gibt es vertrackte; As the troop with strange gestures advance,
Dann klippert’s und klappert’s mitunter hinein, And a rattle and clatter anon rises high,
Als schlüg’ man die Hölzlein zum Takte. As of one beating time to the dance.
Das kommt nun dem Türmer so lächerlich vor; The sight to the warder seems wondrously queer,
Da raunt ihm der Schalk, der Versucher, ins Ohr: When the villainous Tempter speaks thus in his ear:
Geh! hole dir einen der Laken. “Seize one of the shrouds that lie yonder!”
Getan wie gedacht! und er flüchtet sich schnell Quick as thought it was done! and for safety he fled
Nun hinter geheiligte Türen. Behind the church-door with all speed;
Der Mond, und noch immer er scheinet so hell The moon still continues her clear light to shed
Zum Tanz, den sie schauderlich führen. On the dance that they fearfully lead.
Doch endlich verlieret sich dieser und der, But the dancers at length disappear one by one,
Schleicht eins nach dem andern gekleidet einher, And their shrouds, ere they vanish, they carefully don,
Und, husch, ist es unter dem Rasen. And under the turf all is quiet.
Nur einer, der trippelt und stolpert zuletzt But one of them stumbles and shuffles there still,
Und tappet und grapst an den Grüften; And gropes at the graves in despair;
Doch hat kein Geselle so schwer ihn verletzt, Yet ’tis by no comrade he’s treated so ill
Er wittert das Tuch in den Lüften. The shroud he soon scents in the air.
Er rüttelt die Turmtür, sie schlägt ihn zurück, So he rattles the door—for the warder ’tis well
Geziert und gesegnet, dem Türmer zum Glück, That ’tis bless’d, and so able the foe to repel,
Sie blinkt von metallenen Kreuzen. All cover’d with crosses in metal.
Das Hemd muß er haben, da rastet er nicht, The shroud he must have, and no rest will allow,
Da gilt auch kein langes Besinnen, There remains for reflection no time;
Den gotischen Zierat ergreift nun der Wicht On the ornaments Gothic the wight seizes now,
Und klettert von Zinne zu Zinnen. And from point on to point hastes to climb.
Nun ist’s um den armen, den Türmer getan! Alas for the warder! his doom is decreed!
Es ruckt sich von Schnörkel zu Schnörkel hinan, Like a long-legged spider, with ne’er-changing speed,
Langbeinigen Spinnen vergleichbar. Advances the dreaded pursuer.
Der Türmer erbleichet, der Türmer erbebt, The warder he quakes, and the warder turns pale,
Gern gäb er ihn wieder, den Laken. The shroud to restore fain had sought;
Da häkelt—jetzt hat er am längsten gelebt— When the end,—now can nothing to save him avail—
Den Zipfel ein eiserner Zacken. In a tooth formed of iron is caught.
Schon trübet der Mond sich verschwindenden Scheins, With vanishing lustre the moon’s race is run,
Die Glocke, sie donnert ein mächtiges Eins, When the bell thunders loudly a powerful One,
Und unten zerschellt das Gerippe. And the skeleton fails, crush’d to atoms.

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