April 15, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Sounds like an excellent excuse for a themed dinner party. (Or at least a cocktail party; you could serve gin and titonics.)
The theme could go a lot of different ways. You could have a fancy dinner or tea where everyone dresses in period costume (there are some good ideas for invitations here and here); you could take it a step further and make it a role-playing party (make your invitations look like boarding passes and assign each guest a passenger whom they’re supposed to play), or send waterlogged invitations and tell everybody to show up drowned.
Decoration will depend largely upon your theme and could range from refined Edwardian to nautical. Guests might enter on a red carpet–assuming you’re allowing them to be First Class passengers rather than the wretches in steerage–and you might also designate various rooms in your house as an observation deck, lounge bar, wheelhouse, etc. If you prefer a more disaster-y theme, you can decorate with plastic life preservers and netting and strew seashells and dried starfish around as well. Either way,an ice-sculpture centerpiece would be a nice touch.
A list of the menus (First and Second Class Breakfast, Luncheon, and Dinner; Third Class Bill of Fare) on the day the ship sank is here, and an expanded discussion of the First Class dinner menu is here. There are also at least two cookbooks devoted to these menus, Last Dinner On the Titanic and RMS Titanic “Dinner Is Served”.
Kolchak: The Night Stalker was a proto-X Files series from the early 70s which starred Darren McGavin as a reporter who investigated mysterious crimes with supernatural causes.*
Disney has just announced that it plans a feature film based on the series, starring Johnny Depp (who also stars in the upcoming film based on Dark Shadows; both it and Kolchak were created by Dan Curtis). And as Topless Robot puts it:
Is it a remake of a weird and/or cult classic TV series or movie? Check.
Is it being released by Disney, meaning it’ll be PG-13 at the most? Check.
Is Johnny Depp going to star? Check.
Yet despite all the similarities to most of what Tim Burton has done over the past several years, somehow Burton will not be directing. That seems…almost criminal. Instead, Edgar Wright (who directed Shaun of the Dead amongst other things) has been hired both to direct and to oversee the project from the ground up.
I’m sure I’ll go see it anyway; it sounds like loads of fun. Still, such a Burton-esque project going Burtonless makes me sad.
*I recently re-watched a few of the old episodes and my primary issues were: 1) The first thing I ever saw Darren McGavin in was A Christmas Story, and it’s VERY hard to get past that and see him as a hard-bitten reporter fighting horrible supernatural creatures. 2) I kept being overcome with waves of early-70s nostalgia. (“They’re using flash cubes! I remember flash cubes!”) So you see.
Jake von Slatt at the Steampunk Workshop wrote an article for MAKE Magazine describing how to build a Wimshurst Influence Machine (an electrostatic generator) out of easily-obtainable materials. He’s re-posted the article at his site, so we can all pretend to be mad scientists.*
I’ve posted lists of beer, wine, and spirits with helpfully creepy names before, but since I keep finding new ones it’s probably time to issue an addendum. These are all great additions to any party with a spooky theme, not to mention making a memorable hostess gift.
The estimable xJane pointed me to two wonderful items: Dearly Beloved wine (a Trader Joe’s exclusive with great bottle art), and KAH tequila, artisanal tequila that comes in hand-painted calavera bottles.
Absolut has just released Absolut London in a limited-edition bottle featuring a rather gritty London street scene illustrated by Jamie Hewlett (co-creator of Tank Girl).
Crystal Lake Wine is a label blessed by Adrienne King, the actress who played the only survivor in the original Friday the 13th movie. The bottle artwork depicts the end of the movie, where the tattered Alice rests in a canoe just before Jason leaps out of the water.
Elk Creek seasonally offers Bone Dry Red and Ghostly White. Owen Roe produces Sinister Hand, and indeed it is. Ed Hardy (Ed Hardy makes wine?) has a whole line of Tattoo-themed labels, including a neat Sangria with a very happy skull.
Ash Hollow has a collection called “Legends,” featuring Headless Red, Four Horsemen, and an upcoming label called “1882” (which doesn’t ring any bells for me, but here’s Wikipedia’s list of events for that year; Jesse James’ death, maybe?).
George Lucas originally offered David Lynch the opportunity to direct Return of the Jedi. He turned it down, but Frank Schalk has given us a trailer from the alternate universe where Spock has a beard and Lynch took the job.
Your Guide to Cemetery Research – This is skewed a bit toward genealogical research, but it has a lot of useful information about how to “read” a cemetery, such as analyzing the local “community” and how to decipher various gravestone symbols. (Also genealogical research is an excellent excuse to just wander around old graveyards.)
Celestefrittata – Etsy shop specializing in notebooks that look like Hogwarts textbooks.
Giant Paper Rose – Tutorial for making great-looking oversize paper roses. These would be fun as part of an Alice in Wonderland party.
Body Type – Book devoted to tattoos of words and letters. There’s also a second volume(Hat tip to Pensive Pumpkin)
This clip art-based “Webcomic for Grownups” is entirely wonderful, and many of the entries deal with fantasy and horror tropes (which is why I can shoehorn it, grunting and sweating, into this blog). Go here to see the rest of this strip.