The Art of Darkness

Wolfpack of Reseda

May 17th, 2012 by Cobwebs

Wolfpack ImageA Fox PR flack dropped me a line about a “new Werewolf Mini Series comedy from FOX,” saying that he thought it might interest my readers. Well it might, but not necessarily in the manner intended.

Wolfpack of Reseda follows the story of a car insurance-selling nebbish who gets bitten by a werewolf and develops loads of self-confidence. Remember Teen Wolf? Yeah, that.

Allow me to quote from the news article supplied to me:

Ben March (Tate Ellington) is struggling to sell car insurance amid the alpha males who rule the office. A mysterious animal bite changes his outlook, however, granting him enhanced senses and a wicked pair of mutton chops. Ben’s nice guy demeanor soon gives way to cockiness.

“Being a werewolf is like being a [tool], which I thought was really funny,” Leone [the director] explained when reached by phone. “It’s kind of a funny way to look at it, in an office environment. I like the collision between the mundane and this classic monster. When we talked about this project, we talked about ‘Office Space’ and ‘Fight Club’ and then werewolves.”

And now, the “additional story” blurb from the official Myspace site (Myspace? Really?):

In 1810, Padre Garcia, a Spanish missionary at the Rancho San Fernando, wrote of a strange howling out in the Valley. It would be the last entry in his diary…

Padre Garcia’s untimely death came after he had succumbed to temptation and fallen in love with a young, Eastern European gypsy girl who, with her clan, was camped on the banks of the LA river. Her father, furious at the thought of their union, called upon an old witch to put a curse on the Padre. Her black magic called upon the spirit of the wolf.

The next night, as Padre Garcia and his young love met, his outpost was attacked by a pack of wild, blood-thirsty beasts. He fought back valiantly, enough to save his lover, but he himself was bitten badly. In time, his wounds would heal, but in the process, he began to take on traits of his attackers. As the time of the full moon approached, he feared that he would lose all control and pose a threat to his beloved. As night fell, the Padre took his own life by falling on a large cross.

Padre Garcia was buried by his fellow missionaries in an unmarked grave, in what is now Reseda Park. In 2009, a young man jogging through the park under the cover of night fell on a tree root and badly cut his leg. His open wounds were exposed to the earth that was infused with the blood of the tragic priest. Nearly two centuries later, there are werewolves in Reseda.

I will allow a short break for vigorous eye-rolling.

You guys, I am genuinely pissed off by this. Finally, somebody decides to jump off the zombie bandwagon and explore a different classic monster, and they go about it in the most ham-fisted way imaginable. If you programmed a computer with every 50’s B-movie monster trope and told it to produce a werewolf backstory, it would spit out something that looked remarkably like this. If you then input a montage of “ordinary guy gains unusual ability, becomes self-confident and/or a dick,” I assume the computer could write the whole series. (Also, nearly every review of the series I’ve found specifically mentions the laughably-conspicuous product placement for Kia, the show’s sponsor.) The site itself appears to be trying for “hip,” but mainly looks like “trying for ‘hip’.” I am disappoint.

Anyway, the series is free to watch online. Reviews are reasonably favorable, and since each episode is only 15 minutes in length giving it a try should be fairly painless. Probably.

Posted in Whatever | 3 Comments »


May 16th, 2012 by Cobwebs

BookCrossing LogoDo you have a stack of books that you aren’t likely to re-read? You can do something a lot more interesting than just sending them to the local thrift store.

BookCrossing is essentially a catch-and-release library. The site’s stated aim is simply “to connect people through books,” although reviewers have described it as both “a modern-day message in a bottle” and “an unlikely global sociology experiment.”

Participation is simple: Register a book (it’s free), print out a label with a unique ID, and stick it inside the book. Then release it into the wild: You can check if other site members are looking for your particular book and send it to them. You can give it to a friend. Or you can just leave it on the table in a coffee shop. Whomever finds it can enter the label ID at the site to track the book’s progress, and you will also be alerted as to where your book has turned up.

The site also supports “hunting,” where users who release books into the wild can enter field notes describing the general location where the book was left. Other members can then go looking for it; it’s sort of like geocaching but with less math. You can also register your place of business as a BookCrossing-friendly “Zone,” meaning that site members know they’re allowed to release and/or hunt for books there (which may be an interesting way to drum up extra clientele).

The site offers a lively community of bibliophiles, and has a truly worldwide reach, so you can connect with other bookish locals. It’s also interesting to browse their stats: The top book at the moment is one in Germany that’s made 575 hops so far.

I learned about this site from a comment someone left on an article about the death of Maurice Sendak; the commenter said he would honor Sendak by purchasing a number of his titles and releasing them into the wild via BookCrossing. I think that’s a lovely way to pay tribute to an author.

Posted in Resources | No Comments »

Seen Online

May 15th, 2012 by Cobwebs

I’m not saying women are smarter than men, but its kinda ironic that there’s so few known women serial killers and so many unsolved murders.

Huge bumblebee is following me in the park, causing me to think at some point in my past things were so bad I borrowed money from insects

So frustrating. Every time I look up the definition of insanity it just says the same thing.

Pink hair. Spike through the bridge of your nose. Ferret on a leash. Choose one, guy in the park. All three and your parents win by default.

If you call them your “unmentionables”, I assume you have an elder god in your pants.

Do you guys ever get a shooting pain across your body like someone has a voodoo doll of you & they’re stabbing it? No? How about now?

“So what happens when Bilbo Baggins dies?” “He gets a Hobbituary.” “Get out of my house.”

I’m a little disappointed every time I close a mirrored medicine cabinet and there’s NOT a serial killer standing right behind me.

Creativity is 99% procrastination and 1% sheer panic.

Why do zombies all have such shitty clothes?! It’s like you JUST died, how did you mess up your shirt that bad

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 1 Comment »

Fallen London

May 14th, 2012 by Cobwebs

Fallen LondonWelcome. Delicious friend.

Three decades ago, London was stolen by bats. Dragged deep into the earth by the Echo Bazaar. The sun is gone. All we have is the gas-light of Mr Fires. But Londoners can get used to anything. And it’s quiet down here with the devils and the darkness and the mushroom wine. Peaceful.

But then YOU arrived.

Fallen London is a free browser-based interactive game set in a blackly-humorous Gothic underworld where London is quite literally underground. It was taken there by the Echo Bazaar (the game’s original title), a consortium of masters which control Fallen London’s businesses: Mr. Apples, for instance, controls agriculture (which is mushroom-based, of course), and Mr. Iron is in charge of industry. Certain storylines imply that someone known as the Traitor Empress–most likely Queen Victoria–allowed the city to be taken by the Bazaar in exchange for the life of her husband. The city has also found itself much closer to Hell, and the proximity means not only that devils appear in various storylines, but the citizens–including your own player character–often come back to life.

The newer version of the game has optional integration with Facebook and Twitter, which allows for some interesting expanded gameplay: You and your friends can form cliques and compete in tournaments, and you can also play “Living Stories,” in which game characters talk to you by Twitter DM or Facebook messaging.

Failbetter Games, the company behind the game, is also working on a tabletop spinoff called Knife & Candle; named, according to Wikipedia, “for the competitive sport within the setting that combines elements of tag and a free-for-all murder spree.”

MMORPG Info has a series of articles about the system’s gameplay, and Pissy Little Sausages has a hilarious review which likens the game to “sort of a tongue-in-cheek Victorian post-miniature-apocalypse. A bit Lovecraft meets Edward Gorey for tea on Baker Street.” That pretty much sums it up.

(Hat tip to Jes)

Posted in Whatever | 3 Comments »

Happy Mothers Day

May 13th, 2012 by Cobwebs


(via Shoebox)

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 1 Comment »

The Link Dump of Zenda

May 11th, 2012 by Cobwebs

Giuseppina Magazine – Alternative-print mag which showcases independent, underground artists. Their latest issue is devoted to Cosplay, and there are some great Bioshock-inspired photos here and here.

Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin – Very cool history which traces the “evolution of the Gothic imagination” from the artwork inspired by the 1631 eruption of Vesuvius up through the modern-day Goth movement. (Hat tip to hng23)

Come to Australia – A cheerful, spritely song by the Scared Weird Little Guys.

Lost Muertos Art – Spooky mixed-media art and other creepy things.

Make a Magical Toad – Calm Under Tension is launching a yarn kit for making your own magical toad. Because who doesn’t need a magical toad? Nobody, is who.

Vampire Car Decals – “Family” decals with a vampire-y bent. (Hat tip to xJane)

Monsters of Rock – Portraits of well-known rock stars painted as actual monsters.

Scary Stationery – Splendid custom horror/zombie-themed stationery.

Pirate Tattoo Tights – I think the narwhals are my favorite part.

Fuck Yeah History Crushes – Photos of good-looking men and women who are historically notable, more or less. (Somewhat NSFW)

Posted in Link Dump | 5 Comments »

Something Wicked This Way Comes

May 10th, 2012 by Cobwebs

A Cognitive Science researcher at Rensselaer is plumbing the roots of human evil by developing a computer program to simulate it. Selmer Bringsjord has created a checklist to determine whether someone is “demonic,” and is working with a team of grad students to create a computerized representation of a truly evil person.

To be truly evil, someone must have sought to do harm by planning to commit some morally wrong action with no prompting from others (whether this person successfully executes his or her plan is beside the point). The evil person must have tried to carry out this plan with the hope of “causing considerable harm to others,” Bringsjord says. Finally, “and most importantly,” he adds, if this evil person were willing to analyze his or her reasons for wanting to commit this morally wrong action, these reasons would either prove to be incoherent, or they would reveal that the evil person knew he or she was doing something wrong and regarded the harm caused as a good thing.

The result is “E,” which resides in his (they’ve developed a physical persona–a young white male) own virtual world and can be queried about his motives via avatar. Right now the interface is fairly basic, but they’re providing him with artificial intelligence so that researchers will eventually be able to interview him in a more humanlike fashion.

Not to worry, though: Bringsjord says, “I wouldn’t release E or anything like it, even in purely virtual environments, without engineered safeguards.” So we’re, like, totally safe from the threat of a purely evil artificial intelligence being accidentally unleashed on humanity.


(Note: I know that the linked SciAm article is fairly old, but I couldn’t find a newer summary.)

Posted in Whatever | 2 Comments »


May 9th, 2012 by Cobwebs

Bat Under GlassWell this is just all kinds of neat. Intrepid reader Fiend4Halloween pointed me to Necromance, a store that’s a mixture of a biologist’s wunderkammer and your crazy aunt’s attic.

They have some lovely stuff, quite reasonably priced, ranging from freeze-dried bats to black lace parasols. They offer quite a variety of animal bits, including things like beetle elytra (about halfway down the page) which are useful for art projects or jewelrymaking but are sometimes difficult to find. (They unfortunately won’t ship natural items overseas due to customs restrictions, but they’ve also got plenty of reproduction stuff like skulls.)

They also offer useful items like bell jars and taxidermy eyeballs, plus medical oddities like reproduction trephines and sets of animal X-rays; the X-rays in particular would look great framed and massed on a wall. Their idea of home decor includes things like vintage skeleton keys and decorative tiles featuring anatomical drawings of hearts, so they’re definitely our kind of people.

For those lucky enough to live in Southern California, they have a brick-and-mortar location on Melrose in LA. From the looks of the store photos on their site, they have loads of other stuff that isn’t available online; it would be easy to spend hours–not to mention a hell of a lot of cash–poking around in their collection.

Lots of very cool stuff; definitely worth a look.

(Thanks, Fiend4Halloween!)

Posted in Needful Things | 4 Comments »

Making Dream Pillows

May 8th, 2012 by Cobwebs

SachetThe ol’ herb garden is in full swing, which means I am giving away giant wads of cut herbs to vaguely-puzzled neighbors* and looking for things to do with the rest. I’m thus somewhat startled to discover that I’ve been running this blog for over five years and haven’t ever mentioned dream pillows. Apparently I never pay attention.

Dream pillows are simply largish sachets, filled with herbs that are reputed to have calming properties and/or a sweet scent. They are super-easy to make, and if you don’t have a garden you can easily purchase the herbs online.

The pillows are intended to lay on top of a regular pillow inside the pillowcase so the sleeper can inhale their scent. They should thus be reasonably flat and can be fairly small; a 6-8″ square is more than sufficient. Since they aren’t really meant to be seen you can get away with making them out of plain muslin, although if you’re making one as a gift you might want to use pretty fabric–a vintage handkerchief would be a good choice–or decorate it with embroidery or fabric paint. A natural fabric such as cotton which doesn’t have an overly tight weave is the best choice for releasing the maximum scent.

The easiest version of these pillows is just a square bag: Fold a piece of fabric in half, stitch two sides, turn right-side-out, fill with herbs, then slipstitch the other side closed. If you want to make the pillow washable and/or refillable, finish the open end with Velcro or add a ribbon drawstring (to keep bits of herbs from spilling out, you might want to enclose them in a smaller mesh or muslin bag and insert that into the prettier drawstring cover). If you want to get fancier, Tipnut has a nice roundup of sachet tutorials. And if you don’t want to bother with sewing at all–or if you have a large number of pillows to make–you can find drawstring muslin bags inexpensively at craft stores or online.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Doom It Yourself, Unhallowed Ground | 1 Comment »


May 7th, 2012 by Cobwebs

The fine folks over at RinkWorks know that our time is valuable. They’ve saved us loads of it by taking out all of the filler–there’s a startling amount of it–from works of fiction, allowing each book to be read in a minute or less. It’s surprising how much of the actual flavor of the work they manage to maintain.

The Collected Work of H. P. Lovecraft
Ultra-Condensed by Thomas Deeny

I will tell you about something horrific I witnessed.

(Narrator discusses MUNDANE experiences which supposedly lead up to something HORRIFIC.)

We’re almost at the horrific bit.

(Narrator talks about more stuff that might be SPOOKY if he’d only GET ON WITH IT.)

We’re very close now.

(Narrator draws it out MORE.)

This time I swear we’re just about at the horrific thing almost.

(Narrator FINALLY gets to the HORRIFIC thing which is HUGE and POWERFUL and EVIL and LAME.)


(I think my favorite is still Interview with the Vampire. Now that’s accurate.)

Also check out their Movie-a-Minute section.

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 4 Comments »

« Previous Entries Next Entries »