The Art of Darkness

Mr. and Mrs. Dracula

April 18th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Mr. and Mrs. Dracula

This is absolutely brilliant.

After I posted about vampyre rag dolls a couple of weeks ago, artist Bonni Reid dropped me a line to share one of her designs. Her Mr. and Mrs. Dracula is a topsy-turvy doll, complete with full-length cape and pretty gothic gown. There’s a closer look at their faces here; I just love their expressions.

I’ve run into topsy-turvy dolls of the asleep/awake and fairy-tale variety (which seem to be heavily concentrated toward Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, for some reason), but had never considered turning them to darker ends. These are immensely charming.

Thanks for sharing, Bonni!

Posted in Needful Things | 3 Comments »

The Link Dump and Sixpence

April 15th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Cheshire Cat Pocket Watch – This is currently just a concept design, but I love the idea.

Aida on the Floating Stage – Astonishing stage design for an opera production.

Haunted Mansion Interactive Queue – A video “sneak peek” of some additions to the queue at Walt Disney World. There are all kinds of lovely little details.

Frightfully Bloody Fairy Tales – Embroidery which depicts scenes from particularly gruesome fairy tales and myths.

Reign in Purple – Portrait of Cthulhu as a prim and proper Victorian lady, taking tea. Because why not.

Ennuija Board – “I summon the spirit…meh, forget it.”

Heart in a Jar – Lovely miniature hand-blown heart in a bell jar, available as a necklace or on its own.

When It’s Not Your Turn – “The Wire” as a Dickensian serial. Huh.

Doll Haus – Art show featuring unusual nesting dolls, many on the gothy side.

Chocolate Cthulhu – Artist Paul Carrick posted a fake chocolate Cthulhu as a prank and got such an overwhelming response that now he’s going to actually make them. Pity they won’t be available to put in Easter baskets this year. (Hat tip to CJ)

Posted in Link Dump | 1 Comment »

Plant a Moon Garden

April 14th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Spring is slowly sidling into view here in Northern VA,* which means that soon it will be possible to stay out after dark without risking frostbite. Now’s the time to start thinking about creating a garden to enjoy when the sun goes down.

Even if you don’t have the space (or ambition) to devote a large garden to midnight strolls, many of these plants do well in pots. Choose a few for their color or fragrance and use them to turn the corner of a balcony into a moonlight retreat. Some of the smaller ones would also be lovely in a window box.

White flowers and silvery foliage are good choices for an evening garden, since they stand out in low light. There are also many plants which bloom at night, adding wonderful fragrance. Depending upon your region and light availability, consider some of these:

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Posted in Unhallowed Ground | 4 Comments »

Edible Insects

April 13th, 2011 by Cobwebs

InsectsThe Wall Street Journal recently published this article about edible insects, which rather breathlessly describes the Hot New Trend(tm) of occasionally letting a bug get within sniffing distance of a dinner plate. (On purpose, I mean; we eat bugs by accident all the time.)

I’m rolling my eyes a little bit at the article presenting the speculation that insects could become the Meat of the Future(tm) as though it had never been considered before. It was seriously suggested, with charts and graphs and everything, at least as long ago as 1976 in Robert Taylor’s Entertaining with Insects, a book that had quite a bit of influence on me* and eventually led to a college project wherein I ate crickets in front of 35 people.**

Insects really are an excellent source of nutrition, and they’re already widely eaten throughout most of the world. Grasshopper tacos are popular in Mexico, roasted termites are eaten like popcorn in South Africa, and scorpions are almost the national dish in Thailand. If you’d like to really shake things up at your next party, add a few bugs to the menu.

There are a variety of sources for ready-prepared insects: You’ve probably seen Hotlix scorpion lollipops at novelty stores, but they offer a range of other snack items, including salt ‘n’ vinegar crickets and chocolate-covered ants. A couple of UK-based stores offer mail-order insects: Lazybone has mostly snacky items, but Thailand Unique has a wide range of preserved insects that can be added to other dishes.

If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, you can also prepare them fresh: Crickets, mealworms, and several other edible varieties can be mail-ordered from companies that raise them as reptile food. If you have access to a garden, meadow, or other open area, it’s easy to harvest grasshoppers and beetle grubs, with a couple of caveats: Collect them only where you can be certain that they haven’t been in contact with pesticides, and make sure that you recognize the species you’re collecting. Quite a lot of insects are unpalatable at best, and some (particularly caterpillars) can actually make you sick.

Wherever you obtain your insects, you should give them at least 24 hours to purge their gut before you prepare them (in case they’ve been eating something bitter), and since mail-order insects usually arrive having noshed on newspaper or sawdust you may want to feed them on flour for a couple of days to improve their nutritional value. Insects should also be cooked thoroughly, since some (particularly grasshoppers) can harbor parasites.

In addition to the Taylor book mentioned above (which is out of print but widely available secondhand), there are several other insect cookbooks, including The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook, Creepy Crawly Cuisine, and Man Eating Bugs. There are also a variety of online resources: Insects as Food has extensive information, and a number of university entomology departments also cover the subject: Iowa State and U of Kentucky are examples. Doing a search on “edible insects” will turn up many additional sources.

Eating insects may seem odd to the western palate, but it’s really no different than eating lobster (another arthropod). If you’re looking for a really unique new dish, give bugs a try.


*I was rather unhealthily interested in a lot of the tree-hugging stuff that came out of the 70s. If I’d been born a decade earlier I’d have probably wound up living in a yurt with kids named Sunshine and Starblossom.

**I got an A, although I suppose it’s possible that the teacher was afraid to give me anything else lest I pelt her with crickets.

Posted in Resources | 3 Comments »

The Nasty and Disgusting World of Vampire Bats

April 12th, 2011 by Cobwebs

You’ve probably seen the honey badger video that recently went viral. The same narrator has done several others, including this one.

I think the lesson to take away here is, “Don’t nap in a bat cave.”

Posted in Funny Peculiar | No Comments »

Cross-Stitched Pumpkins

April 11th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Pumpkin Cross StitchYou guys all ran out after Halloween and bought fake pumpkins on clearance, right? (Right?!?) Well, here’s what to do with ’em.

The elsie marley blog has this super-simple idea for poking holes in foam pumpkins with a skewer and then cross-stitching through the holes. This is a wonderfully rustic look, and with the right colors and design they’d be lovely decor year-round.

Obviously, there are loads of different ways to riff on the basic idea. Spray-paint the pumpkins in a variety of colors, or use “special effects” paint kits to make them look like marble or wood grain. Do a search on “free halloween cross stitch patterns” to find lots of ideas for the stitching (you’ll want to make sure they’re fairly simple designs). Do complementary designs on opposite sides, or stitch a different letter on several pumpkins to spell out a short message.

This idea is easy enough that even kids should be able to give it a try (although smaller fry might need help poking the holes), and fixing any mistakes is as easy as pulling out the yarn.

If you weren’t so lucky as to score any clearance-sale pumpkins last Halloween, mark your calendar now to pick up a couple this year.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | No Comments »

Lucy in the Sky with Link Dumps

April 8th, 2011 by Cobwebs

How to Dress Goth – For those of us who might need instructions.

Cufflinks – Etsy seller which specializes in cufflinks made from Legos. The little skull cufflinks are cute (and would probably be DIY-able). Also has another Etsy store, Gr0glmann, which does Lego jewelry.

Bride of Frankenstein – Gallery of “Bride” images.

Amazingly Designed “It’s a Boy!” Card – This is brilliant. (Not precisely NSFW, but might make you slightly uncomfortable if your boss is staring over your shoulder.)

Haunted Memory Box – Instructions for making and decorating a ridiculously cute little box for spooky mementos.

Vampire e-Reader Sleeve – Good inspiration for a custom e-Reader cover.

How to Apply Henna (Mehndi) on Your Hands – Nice tutorial, including some design tips.

Play Dead – Potential movie (they need funding to finish it) that appears to amount to “The Incredible Journey” with zombies.

Custom Cranium – Maker of “snuff stuffies” and other osteo-oddities. I particularly like this hat.

I, Cthulhu – Amusing short story by Neil Gaiman.

Posted in Link Dump | 2 Comments »

DIY Dragon Tails

April 7th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Dragon TailsThis is a very squee-worthy project indeed. Jessica of Running with Scissors created these adorable little dragon tails (or dinosaur tails if your kid is more down with Velociraptor than Smaug) with easy-on Velcro waist straps.

Her tutorial has detailed instructions and lots of photos, plus several suggestions for variations. They’re mostly made out of scrap fabric, so you may already have the required materials on hand. These would be a great addition to a dress-up closet, and you could run up several and keep them around for playdates. (Or, y’know, wear them yourself when you’re home alone.)

This is also a nice, simple design for any Halloween costume requiring a tail, and could also serve as the base for a last-minute costume: Just add similar spikes to a matching sweatshirt.

Cute! Easy! Yay!

Posted in Bittens, Doom It Yourself | 2 Comments »

I Always Figured Those Kids Would Need Therapy

April 6th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Since it’s a Neverending Story, that means…the nightmare never ends either. Muwahaha.

(via Topless Robot)

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 1 Comment »

Trivia Tuesday

April 5th, 2011 by Cobwebs

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

  1. In this famous short story by H.P. Lovecraft, a meteorite brings some strange “thing” to Earth which lays waste to a farm and drives the farmer and his family mad. Is it:
    A) The Green Meadow
    B) The Horror at Red Hook
    C) The Colour Out of Space
    D) The Doom That Came to Sarnath
    E) The Lurking Fear
  2. The novel Bone Song tells the story of Tristopolis, a city where death is worshipped and where dead things provide the energy used to power the city. Who is its author, better known for his “Nulapeiron” series?
  3. Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October tells of a struggle to keep the Great Old Ones from coming through a portal, and is narrated by Snuff, a dog who is the companion to what famous murderer?
  4. In this alternate-history novel by Kim Newman, Dracula has escaped Van Helsing and married the widowed Queen Victoria. A fictional laundry list of characters, from Dr. Fu Manchu to Allan Quatermain, make an appearance.
  5. Deacon Brodie, a respectable Edinburgh city councillor by day and burglar by night, inspired what Victorian monster?
  6. Jim Butcher writes a series of novels about the only wizard in the Chicago phone book. What is the wizard’s name?
  7. Dr. Frank N. Furter is from the planet Transexual in what galaxy?
  8. In the Peter F. Hamilton series known as “The Night’s Dawn Trilogy,” a rift has opened and the dead are escaping into our realm. Name any of the books in the trilogy.
  9. Kang and Kodos, the aliens who appear in the Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween specials, are based on creatures from which 1950’s B movie?
    A) Watch the Skies!
    B) The Astounding She-Monster
    C) Escape from Jupiter
    D) The Robot of Regalio
    E) The Atomic Submarine
  10. In The Exorcist, Regan began a relationship though the ouija board with what was thought to be just an imaginary friend. What was the name of this so-called friend?

(Answers below the fold)

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