The Art of Darkness

Ghosts of Cartoons Past

June 18th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Gather ’round, kids, as your Old Auntie Cobwebs reminisces about the 1970s, a dark epoch when the only time it was possible to watch Saturday morning cartoons was on Saturday morning. Look upon the Saturday programming schedule (not to mention the prime time schedule) and weep with despair at our limited choices of crappy cel animation. There were a few weird gems to be found, though, and they featured some of the funkiest monsters you’ve ever heard of.

Beginning the decade was Sabrina the Teenage Witch, based on the Archie Comics character of the same name (the series itself was a spinoff of the earlier animated Archie Show).

The first season of Sabrina included The Groovy Goolies, which then spun off into its own show. The main characters Drac, Frankie, and Wolfie resided at Horrible Hall, along with a collection of other “hip” monsters like witch Hagatha and skeleton Boneapart.

The 70s also kicked off with the first incarnation of Scooby-Doo, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!. The show actually premiered in late 1969, but became an absolute juggernaut in the 70s.

What followed was a series of knockoffs, all trying to capitalize on the ‘Doo’s popularity. Some were overt, like Goober and the Ghost Chasers, whose pitch I imagine going something like, “Okay, we’ve got mystery-hunting teenagers and their cowardly dog; how do we not get sued?” “I know! Let’s make some of the ghosts be real!” “Perfect!”

…and Fangface. (“I know! One of the characters can be a teenager and the dog!” “Perfect!”)

Some tried slightly harder to cover their source material, like The Funky Phantom. (“Mystery-hunting teenagers, dog, but the ghost is not only real, he helps solve the mysteries.” “Perfect!”)

…and The Drak Pack. (“The teenagers are the monsters.” “Perfect!”)

There were a few animated versions of previous properties, like The Addams Family animated series (originally featured as a guest appearance on Scooby-Doo, voiced by the actors from the TV series, then launched as a standalone show).

…and Godzilla, in which Godzilla is the good guy. The show was notable for its introduction of Godzuki, the “cowardly cousin” of Godzilla, who filled a role similar to Scooby-Doo’s nephew Scrappy-Doo but somehow managed to be even more annoying.

Finally, an honorable mention to Thundarr the Barbarian, which took place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, had some monstrous villains (a group of werewolves with the acceptably-spooky name “The Brotherhood of Night” and the vampiric Stalker from the Stars), and even inspired a band name.

This was the cartoon landscape of my youth. Now get off my lawn.

Posted in Bittens | 4 Comments »

Fandom-Scented Candles

June 17th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Harry Potter CandleIntrepid commenter Jes pointed me toward this article about Mud in My Blood’s line of Harry Potter-themed candles. Each candle features three scents which represent a particular character; since they also appear to have three layers of color I’m assuming that each color has a separate scent instead of the whole thing having a blended fragrance.* Whilst it’s easy to figure out what some of the fragrances smell like (“raspberry jam,” “spearmint toothpaste”), some of them seem a little more vague (I have no idea what scent “pygmy puff” or “Hogwarts halls” would be).

The “scents that represent a character’s qualities” thing seems to be fairly popular. Fandlemonium offers candles like “Belle” (bookshoppe, French pastries, and enchanted rose) and “Sherlock” (tobacco, clean clothes, and old books); Bubble and Geek has “Hobbit” (English ivy, oak moss, apples, strawberry, garden mint), “Sunnydale Library” (leather-bound books, rosewood, hot brewed tea, house plants), and “Winter is Coming” (garden mint and vanilla).

Fortunately, candles–particularly jar candles–are extremely easy to make, so if you’ve always suspected that your favorite character smells like leather, smoke, and pine (Aragorn) or lavender, fresh linen, and mist (Mina Harker), you can custom-make a candle just for them.

There are plenty of tutorials for making jar candles: She Knows and Peak both have easy-to-follow instructions for the basic technique, and About has instructions for making them layered instead of single-color. If you want to get a little fancier, there’s a tutorial on Queen of DIY for making layered pillar candles.

You can get candlemaking supplies at many craft stores, and they’re widely available online. Lone Star, CandleScience, and The Candlemakers Store all have good selections, but a quick google will turn up plenty of others.

You can print out a simple paper label for your finished jar candles, but there are plenty of other ways to decorate them: BreeCraft has a neat book-themed design (which doesn’t even require the rending of a book); the LOTR suggestion would pair nicely with the natural herb-infused candles from Live Simply. The jars can also be wrapped with lace or ribbon, decoupaged with autumn leaves, or decorated with beads.

It should go without saying that scented candles are great favors for parties or weddings. Not only are they inexpensive and easy to make in quantity, they can be customized in all sorts of ways to match your theme.

*I unfortunately can’t tell for certain because The Mud in My Blood store doesn’t seem to be online at the moment; the site linked to in the article is “under construction” and the Etsy shop referenced on the placeholder page is defunct.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 1 Comment »

Steampunk Inspiration

June 16th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Map RoomJen of EPBOT is renovating one of the rooms in her house into an amazing steampunk rumpus room, and has a fantastic series of posts on her build progress. It’s a trove of great DIY tutorials, with build notes on DIY window cornices, stereo speakers, and TV cabinets.

One of her recent entries was a Bioshock-inspired picture frame, in which she mentioned in passing that she’d found some design ideas from this Flickr set of an area in Tokyo DisneySea. A little sleuthing suggests that it’s specifically the Mysterious Island portion of the park, which is all themed around the works of Jules Verne.

Having worked for the Mouse for several years I never thought I’d want to set foot in a Disney property ever again, but suddenly I really want to go to Tokyo.

Having worked for the Mouse for several years I can also say that the Imagineers who design the look-and-feel of the Disney properties don’t miss a trick. There are all kinds of fantastic ideas for decorating in the High Steampunk style. (The photos aren’t labeled as to exactly where in the park they were taken, but from the nautical details I’m going to guess that it’s probably the queue area of the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction.)

There’s a Tokyo Disney fan site with some more good photos of the Mysterious Island area of the park, and Dejiki has several others.

If you’ve been thinking about adding some steampunk elements to your decor, EPBOT’s design series and the Mysterious Island theming would be an excellent jumping-off point.

Posted in Resources | 1 Comment »

Dark Lord Funk

June 15th, 2015 by Cobwebs

YouTube channel KFaceTV is dedicated to “Nerd-centric” parodies and comical shorts, with videos like Talk Nerdy to Me and a Hunger Games parody of Ariana Grande’s “Problem.” In their latest release they apparently managed to dig up every Harry Potter geek in Utah (and a python named Snape) to show how Voldemort parties before attacking Hogwarts.

There’s a Behind the Scenes video as well.

(Hat tip to xJane)

Posted in Funny Peculiar | No Comments »

Finian’s Link Dump

June 12th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Miss Fiendish – Etsy shop specializing in gothy platform heels. (Hat tip to Jes)

Keyboard Mash – On the internet, nobody knows you’re….

Everyday Sigils – A collection of magickal sigils devoted to things like remembering to take out the trash. (Hat tip to Bruno)

Snail Painting – Filth Wizardy shows you how to use garden snails and food coloring to create “art.”

The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs – YA novel about, to quote submitterator Cookie, “two lovely children who keep their taxidermied mother in the basement.” Like you do.

William Basso – Wonderfully creepy art. He has a sale on certain prints going on at the moment.

Dripping Blood Necklace – Choker beaded to resemble blood leaking from a cut throat. I like the use of transparent thread to help the illusion. (Hat tip to xJane)

Snarlbear – Webcomic about Daisy, a young girl from our world who is transported to the Rainbow Dimension and encounters elves and unicorns. Only way, way darker than that description would suggest.

Loved to Death – All kinds of neat Victorian-ish decor and jewelry. (Hat tip to Fiend4Halloween)

Vampires are Pretty Well-Groomed – …considering they did it all without a mirror. A discussion thread on Reddit.

Posted in Link Dump | 4 Comments »

Shower Thoughts

June 11th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Reddit has a category called Shower Thoughts, where people share the random minor epiphanies that often seem to hit when one is standing in the shower. A Tumblr called Just Shower Thoughts collects some of the best of them. Some are amusing–I think my favorite is, “I wonder what my dog named me”–but a lot of them are nicely macabre. Here’s a sampling:

Tomorrow I graduate. In all likelihood at least one picture taken will be used at my funeral to remember me. Tomorrow I pose for my funeral.

Most people are buried in suits and stuff so a zombie apocalypse would be a formal event

Eating a potato is pretty Irish, but so is not eating a potato.

When there’s an earthquake, coffins become huge underground maracas.

A good tattoo parlor would be one that keeps a couple dictionaries in the waiting room.

Candles are how we keep fires as pets

I wonder if I’ve already bought the clothes I’m going to die in.

Ice cubes float around in pools of their own blood…

Whenever I kill a bug, I wonder how many zillions of years back we shared a common ancestor. Aeons ago, a clutch of eggs hatched; some young wriggled this way, others that way; the lineages diverged…and now these two descendants have met in this fatal way.

“Show them what we’re made of” is a terrible battle cry when fighting with swords.

The swimming pool in the Titanic is still full.

I just realized that “Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side” is a joke about suicide

If the first person Arnold had encountered had been a drag queen on a motor scooter, The Terminator would have been quite a different movie.

Spiders are the classic everyday vigilante. They are generally misunderstood, everyone hates them, and yet, they protect us from having to deal with all of the shitty bugs we would otherwise encounter in their absence.

There are songs you’ve already heard for the last time.

There’s also a Twitter feed run by the moderators which features additional gems.

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 2 Comments »

Mysteries by Mail

June 10th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Mysterious Package“It began one evening with a strange letter from a law firm I’d never heard of. Inside, I was informed of the passing of my Great Aunt Hanna – I didn’t even know I had a Great Aunt Hanna – and she had left a note for me. It was handwritten, and contained within a frail, ancient envelope. It was written in longhand, a warning about ghosts, and some coordinates that seem to be from a small island in the South Pacific. There was a map fragment of the island as well, but none of this makes any sense.”

The Mysterious Package Company is a members-only service that allows you to arrange “unannounced deliveries of a strange and otherworldly nature” that will draw the recipient into a quaint and curious story which might involve anything from crossword ciphers to medallions with cryptic symbols. With the slogan, “We tell stories you can touch,” here’s the company description from their Facebook page:

The Mysterious Package Company provides unique and custom-made gifts delivered by mail, and wrapped in a hand-crafted experience unlike any other. Custom made crates, letters and telegrams from long-lost relatives, and seemingly innocuous newspaper clippings add a richness to the curious goods contained within. Each experience is uniquely tailored to each person.

We are a members-only service. Membership is free, but you must fill in our application form in order to be considered as a member. We are more than simply a way to send packages, we are a community of like-minded people who believe that life needs to be less mundane.

An application does not guarantee membership.

It is the policy of The Mysterious Package Company to neither confirm nor deny our involvement with any specific packages. That would be telling.

This sounds really, really awesome.

There are some glowing reviews of the service: The Nerdery Public bought a package for himself so he knew the origin of the mysterious mailings, but he was still enthralled by the details and had a great time “solving” the puzzle. Mark Ramsden started receiving items when a friend arranged a package for him, so he had no idea where these things were coming from and was completely flummoxed. He detailed the whole thing in a series of blog posts titled, On Being Haunted, and it’s fun to read his accounts as he tries to figure out what the hell is going on. Strange Girl in a Little House got a different storyline, and there are several photos of the various package contents.

Having to apply for membership before seeing what the company offers is a little dismaying, but “The Curator’s” explanation in this article about the company makes a lot of sense:

membership is a layer of protection between the person sending the gift and the person receiving the gift. If one were to receive something unusual in the mail and do a web search for it and find out that, yes, it’s from The Mysterious Package Company, and it cost such and such, with a big buy now button, that would destroy the mystery. With membership, even if they discover that it’s from us, it’s a gift that you are unable to buy for yourself. This makes the experience priceless, something that we think our members appreciate.

If you need a gift for “someone who has everything,” this would be a very cool option.

Posted in Needful Things | 7 Comments »

Problem Glyphs

June 9th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Problem GlyphA sigil is a symbolic illustration used in magic, representing a desired outcome. Artist Eliza Gauger has a project called Problem Glyphs in which she draws sigils which represent the solution to problems sent in by her audience.

A lament of, “i do not belong anywhere” results in a pair of badass snails and the motto, “Build your home and carry it.” An astronomer who “chose science over faith” and was rejected by their religious fundamentalist family is comforted with “You are welcome amongst the stars.”

Most “traditional” sigils tend to be a spare set of lines, but Gauger’s drawings are bursting with movement and detail. She takes requests (although her request form notes that there are about 600 of ’em in the queue right now so it might be a while before she gets to yours) and doesn’t ask for payment, although she accepts donations through PayPal or Patreon. She also sells stickers of some of her glyphs in her Etsy shop.

Other artists have been inspired by her work to try their own glyphs, and she frequently features them on the site as well. If you’re facing a tough problem, have a look through her archives for something suitable.

(Hat tip to Bruno)

Posted in Resources | 2 Comments »

The Grand Overlook Hotel

June 8th, 2015 by Cobwebs

I’m a sucker for a good film trailer mashup. When filmmaker Steve Ramsden noticed that Wes Anderson and Stanley Kubrick frame their shots in a similar way, the only logical thing was to create “Wes Anderson’s The Shining.”

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 3 Comments »

DuBarry Was a Link Dump

June 5th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Black Ghost Playing Cards – Attractive deck of black Bicycle cards. There’s a neat Sideshow Freaks design, too.

Mad Max: Protector – Wonderful parody ad in which Imperator Furiosa is a spokeswoman for tampons. It is deeply splendid.

Brain Specimen Coasters – Set of stackable glass coasters, each with a different cross-section of brain printed on it.

There’s a Special Kind of Wolf Spider That “Purrs” – Not really, since it doesn’t make the sound itself (it generates the buzz by vibrating leaves), but now all I can think of is how awesome a cat-sized spider that purrs would be.

Squishable Mothman – This is clearly a very snuggly cryptid. The same company has a squishable Cerberus, Yeti, Werewolf, and several others.

Bag of Defective Unicorns (Still Magical) – Give the gift of defective unicorns!

Tiny Hamster is a Giant Monster – Amusing video featuring Hamzilla. There is, somewhat astonishingly, a related book.

Click-clack the Rattlebag – New “exclusive online” short story by Neil Gaiman.

Murder as a Fine Art – Victorian-era thriller featuring Thomas de Quincey as an amateur detective. There’s also a sequel, Inspector of the Dead. BoingBoing has a short review of the latter here.

Skull Fury Ankle Boots – Cute boots with silver skull buckles.

Posted in Link Dump | 4 Comments »

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