The Art of Darkness

Poetry Sunday

November 20th, 2011 by Cobwebs

The Wolf’s Postscript to “Little Red Riding Hood”

First, grant me my sense of history:
I did it for posterity,
for kindergarten teachers
and a clear moral:
Little girls shouldn’t wander off
in search of strange flowers,
and they mustn’t speak to strangers.

And then grant me my generous sense of plot:
Couldn’t I have gobbled her up
right there in the jungle?
Why did I ask her where her grandma lived?
As if I, a forest-dweller,
didn’t know of the cottage
under the three oak trees
and the old woman lived there
all alone?
As if I couldn’t have swallowed her years before?

And you may call me the Big Bad Wolf,
now my only reputation.
But I was no child-molester
though you’ll agree she was pretty.

And the huntsman:
Was I sleeping while he snipped
my thick black fur
and filled me with garbage and stones?
I ran with that weight and fell down,
simply so children could laugh
at the noise of the stones
cutting through my belly,
at the garbage spilling out
with a perfect sense of timing,
just when the tale
should have come to an end.

— Agha Shahid Ali

Posted in Whatever | 1 Comment »

Unspooky Saturday

November 19th, 2011 by Cobwebs

This particular story, which is alleged to have really happened in 1588 (it’s the “Auvergne Werewolf” incident, if you feel inclined to look it up), has always struck me as probably containing a grain of truth because it’s a rather cunning way to get rid of an unwanted wife.


so there’s this guy chillin’ at his window
and a friend of his walks by
and says yo
damndest thing just happened

and already things are suspect
because he is about to tell his friend
that he was attacked by a wolf
and he does not run up, wild-eyed
he is really quite casual about the wolf-attackage
like it’s just another tuesday
in this case I myself would consider moving
somewhere less wolf-infested

but anyway

the friend continues his narrative
I was out hunting
and from out of nowhere this bigass wolf runs at me
snarling and growling
which you must admit is more frightening than if it meowed
but I digress

so I shoot at this wolf
and the bullet just pings off its hide like it’s superman in a wolf suit
and it jumps on me
but before it chows down I manage to pull my knife and cut off its paw
because somehow the wolf is impervious to bullets but not knives
sounds like somebody should get a refund at the wolf suit store

then the wolf runs off and I stick its bleeding paw in my pocket
because I am a nobleman and don’t do my own laundry

so the hunter pulls the paw out of his pocket to show his friend
but instead of a paw it’s a woman’s hand
and not only does the friend just take it at face value
that the paw turned into a hand in the hunter’s pocket
instead of drawing the more logical conclusion
that the hunter just straight up cut off a woman’s hand
and then made up some bullshit story about a wolf
or at least asking himself why the hunter didn’t notice
a small wolf paw turning into a large human hand in his pocket
because I sure as hell would have
also is that a wolf paw in your pocket or are you just glad to see me
is a much shittier pickup line


not only that
but the friend immediately recognizes the ring on the hand
as belonging to his wife
how is that for an utterly stunning and not at all expected coincidence

and at this point the story says that this discovery
made him begin to suspect some evil of her
which I believe sweeps the No Duh awards

also I would like to know more about this ring
because either it was present on the wolf’s paw
which means the hunter did not notice that the wolf was wearing a ring
and that frankly seems like something that would be hard to overlook
or it magically transformed along with the hand
which opens a whole other can of sartorial worms
in regards to werewolf transformations and where their clothes go
but I digress


they go looking for his wife
and find her sitting in the kitchen acting casual
with her arm hidden under her apron
looking not the least bit suspicious
and when her husband asks to see her hand she says naw I’m good
so he tears off her apron
and there’s a bloody stump where her hand should be

and since she doesn’t have a good explanation for her missing hand
like maybe the cat ran off with it
or an alligator bit it off
or some jackass with a knife cut it off and put it in his pocket
the men immediately conclude that she was the wolf in the woods
and turn her over to the authorities
who ALSO immediately conclude the same thing
and tell due process to go fuck itself
and burn her at the stake

the moral to this story is
being a woman in the 16th century sucked ass

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 4 Comments »

Link Dumps in the Mist

November 18th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Alternate Histories – Etsy store full of “vintage” prints from alternate pasts, such as maps of the Pittsburgh zombie outbreak and postcards of the Long Beach Monster.

It’s the Great Cthulhu, Charles Dexter – This Peanuts/Lovecraft mashup makes me awfully happy. (Hat tip to Urka)

Dick and Jane and Vampires – Amusing mashup of the classic kids’ storybooks. Run, Dick, run!

Necropolis Studios – Steampunk goggles, Lovecraftian jewelry, and assorted miscellany.

Vlad – Amusing vanity license plate.

Cherry Blossoms and the American Dream: An Excerpt – This isn’t exactly goth, but I just love the imagery.

Monster Shoes – Photos and general parts list for turning a cheap pair of shoes into something amusingly monsterish.

Birdcage Chandelier – Unexpected decorative use for a vintage birdcage.

The Ultimate Goth Guide – Rather grandly-named blog devoted to dark culture.

Gingerdead Men Cookie Cutter – If you aren’t quite up to drawing icing skeletons freehand, the pattern on these is a big help.

Posted in Link Dump | No Comments »

Unique “Quiet Books” for Kids

November 17th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Vulcan SaluteI’ve always liked the idea of “quiet books”–soft cloth books with an activity for small hands on each page. Over at Julie’s Blog, the eponymous Julie has taken the concept well beyond felt clock hands and ribbon shoelaces. Her quiet books let you do things like give Worf his bat’leth and untie Leia from Jabba’s leash. My kids would never be able to get near these because I’d want to play with them all the time.

She’s got photos of each page of her Jedi Quiet Book and Star Trek Quiet Book up at her blog, and she also sells PDF patterns for them on Etsy.

Now, up to this point the subject matter has been somewhat more geeky than gothy, but according to her blog her next two quiet book projects will involve Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Awesome.

If you don’t want to wait for her to put them together, her clever idea might inspire you to make one of your own. I can envision activities like, “Help Aragorn Re-forge Narsil” and “Hatch the Dragon’s Egg.” (I also sort of like the idea of an “Unquiet Book” with activities like, “Put Dracula Back in His Coffin” or “Reattach the Zombie’s Limbs,” but that might just be me.)

Felt is a wonderfully forgiving material to work with, and there are lots of free patterns and instructions for quiet books (such as these and these) to help get you started. A custom book like this would be a lovely gift for a baby shower or for any small child of your acquaintance.

(via Blurgh)

Posted in Bittens | 2 Comments »

Look Sharp

November 16th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Razor Mirror

The Sweeney Todd razorblade mirror designed by Phil Sims is all kinds of stylish, but at around $250 (US | UK) I’m afraid it’ll have to remain on my list of “things I would own if I were rich enough.”

Fortunately, at least for those in the UK, has a much cheaper plain alternative. (There’s a US version available, but it also features a clock so it isn’t quite as stark.)

They’re sort of the ultimate in shaving mirrors.

(via Ghoulie Girls)

Posted in Bad Things | No Comments »

Wonders and Marvels

November 15th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Wonders and MarvelsLet me warn you right up front not to click on these links unless you’ve got a couple of hours to kill.

Wonders and Marvels began as a tool for Holly Tucker’s “History of Medicine” class for Professor Tucker and her students to post articles and links of shared interest. Then other academics started posting their insights on various historical matters, then writers of historical fiction got involved, and at some point the whole thing exploded into “a place for specialists and non-specialists to revel in the stories of the past.”

You can read a bit of Machiavelli’s biography, see a list of interesting books about witchcraft, read about the death casts of Pompeii, and learn whether mandrakes really scream.

There’s also a lot of related media, like a Goodreads group, Facebook page, and Twitter feed.

With categories like “Magic and Witchcraft,” “Unusual and True,” and “Wondrous Facts,” this site is right up the dark history buff’s alley.

(via BoingBoing)

Posted in Resources | 2 Comments »

Because “Lovecraft” and “Bluegrass” Go Together So Naturally

November 14th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Back to Lovecraft is an album of H.P. Lovecraft’s poetry, set to bluegrass music, by four Corsican artists. You guys, I couldn’t make this stuff up.

(via SF Signal)

Posted in Needful Things | 5 Comments »

Poetry Sunday

November 13th, 2011 by Cobwebs

The Haunted Oak

Pray why are you so bare, so bare,
Oh, bough of the old oak-tree;
And why, when I go through the shade you throw,
Runs a shudder over me?

My leaves were green as the best, I trow,
And sap ran free in my veins,
But I say in the moonlight dim and weird
A guiltless victim’s pains.

They’d charged him with the old, old crime,
And set him fast in jail:
Oh, why does the dog howl all night long,
And why does the night wind wail?

He prayed his prayer and he swore his oath,
And he raised his hand to the sky;
But the beat of hoofs smote on his ear,
And the steady tread drew nigh.

Who is it rides by night, by night,
Over the moonlit road?
And what is the spur that keeps the pace,
What is the galling goad?

And now they beat at the prison door,
“Ho, keeper, do not stay!
We are friends of him whom you hold within,
And we fain would take him away

“From those who ride fast on our heels
With mind to do him wrong;
They have no care for his innocence,
And the rope they bear is long.”

They have fooled the jailer with lying words,
They have fooled the man with lies;
The bolts unbar, the locks are drawn,
And the great door open flies.

Now they have taken him from the jail,
And hard and fast they ride,
And the leader laughs low down in his throat,
As they halt my trunk beside.

Oh, the judge, he wore a mask of black,
And the doctor one of white,
And the minister, with his oldest son,
Was curiously bedight.

Oh, foolish man, why weep you now?
‘Tis but a little space,
And the time will come when these shall dread
The mem’ry of your face.

I feel the rope against my bark,
And the weight of him in my grain,
I feel in the throe of his final woe
The touch of my own last pain.

And never more shall leaves come forth
On the bough that bears the ban;
I am burned with dread, I am dried and dead,
From the curse of a guiltless man.

And ever the judge rides by, rides by,
And goes to hunt the deer,
And ever another rides his soul
In the guise of a mortal fear.

And ever the man he rides me hard,
And never a night stays he;
For I feel his curse as a haunted bough,
On the trunk of a haunted tree.

— Paul Laurence Dunbar

Posted in Whatever | 1 Comment »

Unspooky Saturday

November 12th, 2011 by Cobwebs

The second entry in this month’s “Cobwebs channels Myths RETOLD” um…event…is a legend from Arabia. You may already be familiar with this one, since it seems to pop up a lot in books about vampires.


so there’s this rich merchant who has a son named Abul-Hassan
and since he’s rolling in shekels he wants Abul-Hassan to continue the trend of upward mobility and marry the daughter of another rich merchant
but Abul-Hassan sees her portrait and she is so negatively boneriffic that he suddenly decides money can’t buy happiness after all
so he keeps putting off the marriage
then one day he rolls in and tells his dad that he’s fallen in love with some chick named Nadilla
who is supremely hot
but also supremely poor on account of being the daughter of a hermit
I thought hermits lived alone and would thus tend to not wind up with children
but this is apparently not the case so update your mental encyclopedia accordingly

the merchant tries to talk Abul-Hassan
which is fun to say by the way Abul-Hassan Abul-Hassan Abul-Hassan
out of marrying the hot poor chick
but he eventually gives in and winds up with the best I-told-you-so in history
but we’re getting to that

so Abul-Hassan and Nadilla get married and move into their own little house
and the story says they live happily for a while which I guess means they have a normal newlywed relationship
which definitely makes the story ending all the creepier
but we’re getting to that

so Abul-Hassan thinks his hot new wife is great except for one or two little quirks
like she never eats anything ever
and also she gets out of bed every night as soon as he goes to sleep and doesn’t come back until right before dawn
and it is not explained how he knows she does this if he’s asleep but I’m guessing webcam
and after several months of never seeing her eat or sleep he decides that maybe she’s not just a coked-up supermodel and he should investigate further

so one night he just pretends to fall asleep
which seems to be a very common way to fool monsters
so the successful fiend will add “make sure they’re really asleep” to their checklist
and when Nadilla gets out of bed he tiptoes after her
which means the successful fiend should probably add “look behind you occasionally” to the checklist too

so he follows her up the road to a cemetery
protip: if you’re sneaking after somebody in the dead of night and they head for a cemetery
turn around and go get reinforcements because nothing good is going to happen

so Nadilla goes into a tomb that’s conveniently standing there with its door open
and Abul-Hassan sneaks up and peeks in the door
because “post a lookout” isn’t on the checklist
and sees Nadilla with what the story calls a party of ghouls
which sounds like a very festive case of decomposition
and everybody is chowing down on the flesh of corpses
which have been dug up for the occasion
and I guess the story felt the need to clarify that last part
just in case anyone was assuming that there was some kind of rotting-corpse takeout menu available

instead of throwing up on his shoes Abul-Hassan turns around and sneaks back home
resolving to maybe not use tongue the next time he kisses Nadilla
and somehow manages to act natural the next day until dinnertime
but when Nadilla refuses to eat supper he yells at her about her dietary habits vis-à-vis eating the flesh of decomposing corpses
and she leaves in a huff and goes to bed

at which point Abul-Hassan demonstrates that he has the self-preservation instincts of a depressed lemming
by going to bed as usual right next to a woman he has recently witnessed chorfing down human flesh like it was canned chili
so no one in the audience will be surprised when she leaps up at midnight
it’s always at midnight
if I were a ghoul I would attack people in the early afternoon
just to fuck with them
but anyway
she leaps up at midnight and bites his neck
and somehow he manages to fight her off and kill her
and she is buried the next day because “I had to kill her because she was totally a ghoul” is enough of a defense for the local authorities

and then her dad illustrates that he is the shittiest father-in-law of all time by mentioning that yeah, she was sort of dead when Abul-Hassan married her in the first place
because she had been killed by her first husband for “profligacy”
which the dictionary defines as both “shameless dissoluteness” and “reckless extravagance”
so I guess that means she was a money-wasting hobag
which is a valid reason to murder your wife in 15th-Century Arabia
but the death did not take
and she came back as a ghoul

so despite knowing that she already returned from the grave once
Abul-Hassan is surprised for some reason when Nadilla shows back up three days later
at midnight
such a cliché
and tries to suck his blood
but he runs away
and the next morning he opens her tomb
and finds her body looking very lifelike
well duh
and throws it on a fire

which I have a small problem with
because when she was dead the first time
she was totes walking around during the day
but now at a moment convenient to the plot she stays dead during banking hours
but anyway the body is burned to ashes
and Abul-Hassan throws the ashes into the river
and makes a mental note to carefully interview the fathers of any potential future wives and specifically ask whether they’re maybe dead already

the moral of this story is that those who marry for money sell their liberty but those who marry for love may wind up living with a flesh-eating corpse

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 3 Comments »

The Link Dump with Two Brains

November 11th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Phat Quarter Horror Mash-up – Photos of a needlework swap with the theme “OMG! The Horror!” Part 2 is here.

Tattly – “Designy” temporary tattoos.

The Goth Workout – Sensible exercise tips for those who realize that “gyms are not goth.” (Hat tip to Bruno)

Merry Axe-Mas – Crafting for Cheapskates has some suggestions for giving cutesy Christmas decorations a holiday makeover.

Tombstone Salt and Pepper Shakers – Adorably morbid little shaker set.

Goblin Headdress – Tutorial for a pretty beaded headdress that’s more “Labyrinth” than “World of Warcraft.”

Twisted Bats – Interesting idea for making paper art that looks like a flock of bats. (via Creepy Cupcakes)

Your Glory Days Are Over Mr. Cthulhu – See how the mighty have fallen.

Jane Austen Knits – Special issue of Interweave which explores Regency-era knitting. (Hat tip to Linda)

Jonathan Fong Style – Design site with several decorating ideas that could be adapted to darker ends, like luminaria gift bags and rose ice cubes. I can almost forgive him for having a section entitled, “Fong Shui.”

Posted in Link Dump | 2 Comments »

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