The Art of Darkness

Start a Gothic Book Club

June 3rd, 2015 by Cobwebs

The Graveyard BookOoh, here’s a lovely idea to help while away the time until Halloween: Start a book club oriented around gothic books.

A club can consist of local people who periodically meet to discuss a book, an online forum where members can post discussion and comments, or some combination of the two. A local group has the advantage of real-time conversation (which, for a small number of people, could also be done online with Skype), more incentive to actually read the latest book, a convivial atmosphere (with snacks!), and an excuse to get out of the house occasionally. An online club is great for geographically-diverse groups or for people with busy schedules who may not be able to carve out time to meet on a regular basis.

Real Simple and LitLovers have some useful tips for organizing a book club in meatspace, and many of the suggestions (such as choosing a theme) are applicable for virtual clubs as well. For an online club, you’ll need a discussion tool: A blog (free at hosts like WordPress), a forum (like ProBoards), or a group (such as Yahoo Groups, Google Hangouts, or Facebook). Goodreads has a group feature that’s oriented toward book discussion, and there’s a site called BooksterClub which seems to specialize in online book clubs.

Once you’ve organized the club, it’s time to select books. You can either focus on a specific subgenre–for instance, Goth Shopaholic has 12 months’ worth of suggestions for “Goth, Horror and Dark” biographies–or consider a theme like “Gothic” (vintage or modern), Classic Horror, or the works of a particular author.

If you’ve regretted not setting aside more time for reading, joining a book club is great motivation. If it’s a gothic book club, well, so much the better.

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Trivia Tuesday

June 2nd, 2015 by Cobwebs

  1. The Discworld is balanced atop four elephants, who in turn balance atop Great A’Tuin the giant star turtle. Which of these is NOT one of the names of the elephants?
    A) Tubul
    B) Great T’Phon
    C) Jerakeen
    D) Cori Celesti
    E) Berilia
  2. In 1982 Tim Burton wrote and directed an animated short film which was a tribute to an actor who served as a lifelong idol and inspiration for Burton. The actor in question also narrated the film. Name it.
  3. Ed Wood, affectionately known as the worst director of all time, began his moviemaking career with this 1953 film (in which Bela Lugosi served as the narrator):
    A) Glen or Glenda
    B) Bride of the Monster
    C) Plan 9 from Outer Space
    D) Night of the Ghouls
    E) Jail Bait
  4. An enduring maritime mystery involves the fate of this ship, which left New York in November 1872 and was found floating deserted off the Azores Islands a month later. It inspired a short story by Arthur Conan Doyle entitled “J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement,” which did much to encourage paranormal myths about what was most likely an unfortunate case of a panicked crew abandoning ship after mistakenly believing it was about to sink.
  5. In TV’s Bewitched Samantha’s mother is named Endora, a reference to the Biblical Witch of Endor who was consulted by which Israelite king?
    A) Solomon
    B) Rehoboam
    C) Ishbaal
    D) David
    E) Saul
  6. Ray Parker, Jr. was sued over the “Ghostbusters” theme song by this popular 80s band, who claimed it was plagiarized from one of their previous hits.
  7. Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October follows various Victorian gothic archetypal characters as they fight to keep the Great Old Ones from coming through a portal on Halloween. The title is taken from a line in which poem by Edgar Allan Poe?
    A) “The Bells”
    B) “Ulalume”
    C) “Lenore”
    D) “Annabel Lee”
    E) “The Raven”
  8. In the Resident Evil series of video games, the mutated monsters and zombies roaming around were originally created by the release of the T-virus, a biological weapon created by this corporation.
  9. The TV series Supernatural began with a “monster of the week” format in which brothers Sam and Dean Winchester encountered a different supernatural being in every episode. What creature did they fight in the series pilot?
    A) Woman in White
    B) Hook Man
    C) Rawhead
    D) Bloody Mary
    E) Wendigo
  10. At the end of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, the Baker “softly and suddenly vanished away” because the Snark was actually what?

(Answers below the fold)

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Tannery

June 1st, 2015 by Cobwebs

In this short, thoughtful film by Iain Gardner, the ghosts of a fox and rabbit meet.

You can read about how the story was inspired by a spontaneously-combusting fur stole on Director’s Notes.

(via The Presurfer)

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Still Another Week of Link Dumps: Day 5

May 29th, 2015 by Cobwebs

This concludes yet another Link Dump Extended Dance Remix. Regular posting (and once-a-week Link Dumps) return Monday.

Creepy Rabbit Mask – This spooky thing is the work of artist Nymla, who sells masks in her Etsy shop. As somebody commented in the Reddit thread about this, “I want to chase after boy scouts on their camping trips while wearing this.”

Steampunk Teardrop Trailer – This trailer built by Dave Moult has lots of attractive details.

Haitian Tarot – Photographer Alice Smeets teamed with a group of Haitian artists to translate tarot cards into photos. (Hat tip to Bruno)

Bat Mask – Latex vampire bat-ish mask. Wear it to the grocery store or whilst lounging around the house.

Bettie Page Necrotic Shearling Pump – Cute heels with a skull design.

Uncanny Creatures – Etsy shop specializing in unsettling-looking stuffed animals, many with teeth. Wilson the Bat is cute. And vaguely unsettling.

A Creepy and Elegant Gothic Wedding – This recent feature on Offbeat Bride has some good ideas for a goth wedding or party.

Batgirl – An animated gif of greatness. (As submitterator pdq phrased it, “WORST cat.”)

The Last Halloween – A webcomic by Abby Howard “Where it’s Halloween and there is a girl and some monsters and she has to fight them.” (Hat tip to Pixel Pixie)

19 Reasons Being Afraid Of Bats Makes You A Total Wuss – Yes, it’s clickbait. Yes, the commentary is lame. But wookit the widdle bats! I want to snorgle their teeny bellies! (Bonus link: Eeeeeee!)

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Still Another Week of Link Dumps: Day 4

May 28th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Laser Cut Velvet Leggings – This intricate lace pattern is quite striking and surprisingly inexpensive.

5 Inches from Limbo – Photographer Annie Collinge finds weird vintage dolls at thrift stores, then dresses up people in similar clothing and takes their picture. It’s really rather creepy.

Ben & Jerry’s Horror Ice Cream – A set of (sadly, not available in real life) ice cream “concept” flavors based on horror movies.

Centaurs, Man – Jemma Salume meditates on mythical human/animal hybrids. Favorite line: “Do we need to bust out the Punnett Squares?”

Catlin T. McCormack – Artist who creates intricate crocheted skeletons and other “bony” things.

Goth Screenshots – Tumblr devoted to computer system messages and alerts with a morose, nihilistic bent. (Hat tip to Bruno)

Vintage Button Emporium – All kinds of lovely vintage and antique buttons.

Young, Black and Victorian – Neat photo roundup of Victorian women of color.

Frankenstein Flowerpots – Technically, they’re Frankenstein’s monster flowerpots. Whatever; you can plant flowers in his noggin. The same artist also makes brain bowls.

Biophilia – Lovely mosaics made from insects.

Posted in Link Dump | 5 Comments »

Still Another Week of Link Dumps: Day 3

May 27th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Penny Dreadful Tarot Cards – Tarot deck featuring creepy artwork similar to the cards used by Vanessa Ives in the Showtime series.

6 Archaeological Discoveries Scarier Than Any Horror Movie – A rather breathless roundup from Cracked. The severed-hand pit is neat.

The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales – A collection of folktales that are significantly…earthier…than Grimm. There’s a review at Salon.

French Perfume Maker Bottles Scent of the Departed – For one brief moment I thought this somehow involved cremated remains and wondered, “How does that work?” but the truth is both more prosaic and weirder. This company claims that it can extract the unique scent of a departed loved one and turn it into a perfume. (Hat tip to pdq)

Be Witching – Odd little pen-and-paper game in which you compete to become Witchqueen of the ball.

Spooky Sandwiches – The li’l “Spider Sliders” are cute.

Octopus Fork Necklace – Attractive necklace made from repurposed forks. There’s a matching brooch.

Parcel of Terror – Monthly subscription service which offers “an assortment of handmade items that represent the horror genre in all its forms.”

Goth Chic Accessories – Etsy shop full of interestingly spooky items like a Raven Skull USB Drive, Addams Family Cufflinks, and an astonishing Skull Shaving Brush.

Edison’s Talking Dolls – In 1890, Thomas Edison used miniature phonographs to create talking dolls. Some of their recordings have been recently digitized, and they are creepy as all get-out. Commenter Janice points out that these would make excellent ringtones.

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Still Another Week of Link Dumps: Day 2

May 26th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Snowball’s Chance in Hell – Free knitting pattern for fingerless arm-warmers with a design that gradually morphs a snowflake into a skull.

Scary Spider – Little Flash thingie that lets you play with a virtual spider and drop insects for it to eat. Play with the Options sliders to animate it in different ways.

The Best Horror Films You Haven’t Seen – A roundup from Dread Central.

Button Clock – This simple DIY clock is made from a round cookie-tin lid and mismatched buttons. If, like me, you have a stash of Halloween-themed buttons, this would be a great way to display a few of them.

Synthesis – Attractive cyberpunk-themed deck of playing cards.

Unicorn Hoof Boots – For the creepiest cosplay you ever imagined. The same Etsy seller has several other hoof styles too.

21 Grams – Designer dildo containing the ashes of a loved one. Something something le petit mort something….

Eruption of Vesuvius – A video reconstruction of the eruption that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Old and Interesting – Neat site about domestic life in the past.

Lobster Claws – Wear these as gloves. Act casual.

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Still Another Week of Link Dumps

May 25th, 2015 by Cobwebs

You know that part of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” where the brooms just keep on dumping buckets of water? That’s my relationship with my Drafts folder.

Peter Dinklage Sings About Dead Game of Thrones Characters – The performance was part of a benefit for Red Nose Day.

saucy Jacky – One of several “Persona-Bots” by Triumph PC, this is a chatterbot which pretends to be Jack the Ripper. (Hat tip to DeVries)

Mountains of Mouthness – If you’ve always wanted to make animated mountains yell your tweets across a valley at each other, this is your lucky day.

Gold Spider – Neat photo of a spider which was covered in gold as prep for being examined under a scanning electron microscope. I also loved this comment. (via pdq)

Here Be Dragons – Full album by The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble. Via Richard, who noted, “If Cthulhu comes back, here is the soundtrack.”

Unicorn Wine Holder – I’m not sure if I like the product title or the sculpture better.

AtmosFEAR – Creators of neat “digital decorations” that let you make a TV or computer monitor look like a morphing portrait, a window with spooky things on the other side, a haunted fireplace, and several other effects.

Cthuloops – Amusing T-shirt.

Meddling with Nature – How can you not love a taxidermist whose gallery includes a category called, “Tabletop Beauties?”

Zombie Puns – Series of illustrations featuring very groan-worthy puns.

Posted in Link Dump | 2 Comments »

My Fair Link Dump

May 22nd, 2015 by Cobwebs

Memento Mori: The Dead Among Us – Paul Koudounaris, who runs the Empire de la Mort site, has a new book which explores sacred sites around the world where the dead are displayed.

Oh, Good, Sony’s Remaking The Craft – Because it was just crying out for a remake.

Voodoo Delicious – Etsy shop full of interesting cast-resin items; my favorites are the repurposed teacups which now have a resident octopus, imp, or mystery tentacle.

Psychic Reader – The second panel of this Partially Clips ‘toon seems weirdly plausible.

Can’t Sleep, Doctors Will Hear Me – I sort of want to request a sleep study just so I can mess with the doctors too.

Book O’Clock – Striking wall clock with books marking the hours. You could use titles with the appropriate numbers, as here, or just show off some of your favorite works.

Skeleton Car Decals – These are the ubiquitous “family members” car decals, only everybody’s a calavera.

Love & a Sandwich – Sells cute little furry “monsters,” including pairs of custom best friend monsters with matching bows.

Spider Suncatcher – Beaded spiders are a common find, but I quite like the “crackle” bead this one uses as an abdomen.

Mouse Butterflies – Series of paintings by Lisa Ericson, featuring a fictional species of mouse/butterfly hybrids. I’m sad these aren’t real, because they’d be adorable pets.

Posted in Link Dump | 4 Comments »

Black Angel: Lost Fantasy Movie Resurfaces

May 21st, 2015 by Cobwebs

Black Angel is a short fantasy film which is semi-legendary among Star Wars fans; it was shown in theaters in Europe and Australia before The Empire Strikes Back, and was directed by ESB art director Roger Christian. It’s also got something of a following amongst fans of 80s sword-and-sorcery movies, because it was hugely influential on the look-and-feel of films like Legend and Excalibur. The film was also notable because it pioneered “step-printing,” a method of slowing down action scenes, which was used for the lightsaber duel in ESB.

The film was lost soon after its theatrical run and was presumed gone forever, but a print was recently discovered at Universal Studios. It’s been digitized and is being made available on YouTube until the end of this month.

Here’s the press release:

Black Angel, the short film attached to initial screenings of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, is to be made available for free on YouTube until the end of May 2015. It will be released on Tuesday, 12th May, accompanied by an exclusive introduction from director Roger Christian. A crucial part of the Star Wars legacy, Black Angel was commissioned by George Lucas, who chose it to accompany Empire in Europe and Australia. The 25-minute film was produced on a budget of £25,000, given to Christian by an Eady Scheme fund from the UK government.

An epic fantasy adventure, the script follows a knight (Tony Vogel) who returns from the Crusades, only to be transported to a fantasy world to rescue a princess from the clutches of a dark and mysterious character. Shot in the Scottish Highlands, the film highlights the beauty and majesty of the location. It was loved by fans and industry tastemakers the world over, with Steven Spielberg describing it as ‘one of the most enigmatic films I’ve ever seen.’

Following its release, all copies of the film were lost for over 30 years. That is, until December 2011, when an archivist at Universal Studios came across the negative. The prints had ended up in the US after the collapse of the UK studio Rank, which had stored the prints along with other film negatives in WWII bunkers. The film was restored frame by frame by a visual effects company, before having its ‘re-premiere’ in October 2013 as the closing film of the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival. It was also screened at the Glasgow Film Festival in Scotland and released on iTunes in early 2014, where it quickly ranked as ‘#1 short film.’

Christian won an Academy Award for Art Direction for his work on the original Star Wars movie. He was also nominated for the same award for his work on Alien. Christian is widely acknowledged as a key part of the ‘Star Wars family’ of writers, directors, cinematographers and crew who have been involved in the billion-dollar franchise since day one. Black Angel was his directorial debut

And here’s the full movie. Ain’t technology grand?

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