The Art of Darkness

Butterbeer Base

May 31st, 2011 by Cobwebs

Butterbeer LabelFans have been devising recipes for butterbeer since the day after Harry Potter first hit the shelves, and now that the theme park in Florida serves “real” butterbeer, they’re more prevalent than ever. I’ve seen recipes for both hot and cold versions of the drink, and it occurred to me that a base which would work for either might be worth concocting.

I ran across this recipe which suggests that “vanilla butter and nut extract” is essential to an authentic taste. Most of the brands I found were artificially flavored, which I don’t particularly care for. If you’re in the same boat, this brand says it’s “derived from natural sources,” or you can do what I did and make your own: Cover 2/3 cup pecans and 1/3 cup walnuts (or 1 cup butternuts if you’re fortunate enough to have a local source; they’re not commercially available) with boiling water for about 90 seconds to remove their tannins. Drain, put in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, and cover with vodka. Let sit in a cool, dark place for about three weeks, shaking occasionally. Strain through a coffee filter to remove particles and store in a jar or bottle with a tight lid.

For the base, you will need:

1 C firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 C light corn syrup
1/4 C (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp butternut extract (that stuff we just made up above)
2 Tbsp butterscotch schnapps*

In a small heavy saucepan combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring and washing down any sugar crystals clinging to the side with a brush dipped in cold water, until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer without stirring for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in cream (the mixture will bubble dramatically), extracts, and schnapps. Cool, then refrigerate for up to 2 months. Makes about 1-1/2 C.

A condiment squeeze bottle is handy for storage, since you can squeeze the desired amount right into your beverage.

For cold butterbeer, squeeze 2-3 Tbsp of the base into the bottom of a glass, pour in a small amount of cream soda, stir a bit to dissolve the base, then top up with more cream soda.

For hot butterbeer, bring 1 C whole milk (or a mixture of milk and half-and-half if you’re feeling particularly decadent) to a simmer, whisk in 4 Tbsp of butterbeer base, and pour into a mug.

Either version can be topped with whipped cream (flavor it with a bit of butternut extract for extra punch), and spiked with additional butterscotch schnapps. It might also be interesting–although I haven’t tried it, so take that into consideration–to use the syrup to flavor stout (oatmeal or chocolate).

A squeeze bottle of base paired with a couple of etched mugs might be a nice gift for the HP fan in your life.

*If you’re really, really hardcore about natural ingredients, you can make the schnapps from scratch too: Make butterscotch candy, then use it to infuse vodka to taste.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 1 Comment »

“Fright Night” Trailer

May 30th, 2011 by Cobwebs

I have a soft spot in my heart for the original Fright Night (Chris Sarandon, rowr), so I’m approaching the remake with some trepidation. It looks like they’re sticking fairly close to the original material, only removing the camp and making it more of a straight-up horror movie.

We’ll see….

Posted in Whatever | 6 Comments »

They Shoot Link Dumps, Don’t They?

May 27th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Brutal Knitting – “Creepy sci fi and horror inspired custom knitting.”

Em & Sprout – Etsy shop featuring Mary Janes decorated with things like sugar skulls and vampires.

The Literary Gothic – Extensive site devoted to classical gothic literature.

Death Guy – Novelty Twitter account where each tweet is surely this guy’s last.

Haunted Mansion Font – Designer David Occhino has created a “Haunted Mansion” TrueType font. It’s $30, but he also offers a free Mansion CryptBats dingbat font.

Books – This motivational poster isn’t goth, but I just love it to death.

Geek Chic Cosmetics – Company offering makeup collections titled things like Fang Banger’s Quartet (Purity Burns, Viking King, Blood Bond, and Eyes of the Werewolf) and Geeks vs. Zombies (Grey Matter, Vector, Ugghhh…Brains, and Stay Indoors).

Easy Glass Eyeballs – Tutorial for making faux glass eyes. Useful for jewelry, art, or simply creeping people out.

Several comic novels by Christopher Moore:
Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story
Practical Demonkeeping
A Dirty Job
The Stupidest Angel

Posted in Link Dump | 1 Comment »

Super Terrific Giveaway Thing

May 26th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Cthulhu's ReignThe Nebula Awards were in DC this year, and last Friday several authors had a book signing a few miles from my office. Whilst I was waiting for Shadow Jack to have various books signed, I scored a signed copy of Cthulhu’s Reign just for you guys.

Some of the darkest hints in all of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos relate to what will happen after the Old Ones return and take over the earth. What happens when Cthulhu is unleashed upon the world? What happens when the other Old Ones, long since banished from our universe, break through and descend from the stars? What would the reign of Cthulhu be like on a totally transformed planet where mankind is no longer the master? Find out in these exciting, brand-new stories.

If you’re interested in having this for your very own, leave a comment by Tuesday, May 31* and one person will be chosen at random.

*Non-US readers are welcome to play along, although shipping will probably be by banana boat so you might have to wait a couple weeks.


random.orgThe contest is over, and spat back the magic number 6, which means The Frog Queen gets the book. If she will e-mail me with her snail-mail address, I will send it out forthwith.

Thanks to everyone who played along!

Posted in Whatever | 12 Comments »

Skully Shibori Scarf

May 25th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Skull ScarfShibori is a traditional Japanese technique somewhat similar to tie-dyeing: You clamp, twist, sew, or otherwise bind fabric and then dye it, resulting in interesting patterns. If you choose fabric that tends to shrink (such as wool), the same binding techniques can be used to “mold” three-dimensional surfaces.

Scarves are an easy (and, given the price of wool, reasonably inexpensive) way to show off this technique. Here’s how to use shibori to make a scarf with a subtle skull design.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 3 Comments »

Muppets of the Caribbean: On Stranger Frogs

May 24th, 2011 by Cobwebs

I mentally checked out of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise after the first one, but I may have to watch the latest sequel; Kermit’s enthusiasm is contagious.

I love that all of the actors just sort of roll with the fact that they’re being interviewed by a green felt frog.

(via Topless Robot, from whom I also shamelessly cribbed the post title)

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 1 Comment »

How to Look Punk

May 23rd, 2011 by Cobwebs

Punk FashionOh my lands, this is comedy gold.

Someone has scanned a 1977 guide to “looking punk,” and it’s just the most wonderfully slick marketing-industry guide to carbon copy punk fashion that you’re ever likely to encounter.

Written by someone named “Marliz” who was, according to the author’s notes, “internationally known in the industry for her marketing ability in current-trend perception and ‘how to’ help it explode on the scene,” the very first paragraph says that the punk statement is, “do your own thing!” And the entire rest of the guide, with no trace of irony, shows you how not to do that.

(Plus all of the nitty-gritty punk rockers featured in the photos are so adorably clean-cut, I just want to pinch their cheeks.)

This is the most wonderful little time capsule of hilarity. And also you can learn to do The Pogo.

(via BoingBoing)

Posted in Whatever | 6 Comments »


May 21st, 2011 by Cobwebs

Click to enlarge.

Rapture Notice

(By Johnathan “Skippy” Schwarz, via Maven)

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 5 Comments »

Even Link Dumps Get the Blues

May 20th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Guns and Gardens – Series of instructional YouTube videos on how to DIY your way through the zombie apocalypse.

Skull Teapot – I’m trying to decide if I love this or not (although with an $800 price tag the point is sort of moot). I love the idea of a skull-shaped teapot, but the placement of the spout is so amusingly elephantine that it throws off the creepy vibe a little. (Hat tip to WitchArachne)

Wonderland Contraband – Etsy seller specializing in ridiculously cute miniature sculptures and jewelry, featuring things like Edgar Allan Poe, Frankenstein and the Bride, and Jack the Ripper.

That’s Not Your Mommy Anymore – Amusing spoof of children’s books, helping kids deal with mommy becoming a zombie.

Sad Baby Monsters – Awwwww. I want to give Sad Baby Mothman a big hug.

Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse – It’s nice to know that the CDC has a whimsical side. (Hat tip to xJane) Bonus link: The Bloggess weighs in on the impending invasion.

Bike Helmet Mohawks – Instructions for adding a little flair to a bike helmet.

9 Cats from Seriously Creepy S#!% – Spooky roundup from Topless Robot.

Steampunk Goggles – A roundup of goggles made of recycled materials. Some really lovely stuff.

Game of Thrones: Metal – White Noise Lab did a metal cover of the Game of Thrones theme music, and another YouTube user merged it with the opening credits.

Posted in Link Dump | 4 Comments »

Making a Mummy

May 19th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Tomb PaintingI’m veering into science-fair territory a little bit here, but bear with me.

I recently ran across this article on BoingBoing which discusses a chicken mummification currently in progress at the Science Museum of Minnesota. I was struck by several things: 1) The comments on the article which indicated that this is a common elementary school science project (and also that it shouldn’t stink); 2) The comments which discussed other animals that could be given the same treatment. 3) The fact that they named the mummified chicken Nefertweety.

I did a bit of research and found that there are a bazillion pages devoted to mummifying chickens,* and no two of them seem to agree on a method. So here’s an amalgam of instructions from a number of sites, with notes about differences in technique. In addition to being an interesting educational project to do with kids, you could also use mummified bits as jewelry or art. It might also be possible–perhaps by practicing on chickens until you’re sure of your technique–to send a beloved pet into the afterlife this way.

You will need:

  • A small animal to mummify. A chicken or game hen seems to be the standard, but I’ve also seen projects that use fish, squid, and mice/rats. All but the last are available at the grocery store. Frozen mice and rats are available at many pet stores and via mail order; they’re used as reptile food.** Note that animals can’t be mummified with their internal organs in place, so if you’re squeamish about the idea of gutting an animal you should probably stick with a grocery-store chicken.
  • A drying agent. You can use salt, a mixture of salt and baking soda (a ratio of 2 parts salt to 1 part soda seems to be the standard), or sodium carbonate. The latter is natron, which is what was traditionally used for Egyptian mummies. It’s available at grocery stores (look for “washing soda” or “soda ash”) or at swimming pool supply stores.
  • Disposable plastic or rubber gloves.
  • Several resealable plastic bags, large enough to contain both your mummy and plenty of drying agent.
  • Lots of paper towels.
  • Rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol. This is an optional component, but it appears that using it will reduce the odor significantly. Its use also jibes with the Egyptian practice of washing the body in wine.
  • Spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice (whole rather than ground) and/or dried rose petals. These are optional, but can be mixed into the drying agent to help perfume the mummy. They can also be used to scent anointing oil.
  • Oil to anoint the finished mummy (optional). You can use food-grade oil like canola oil or olive oil, mineral oil, or even baby oil. To perfume unscented oil with spices or rose petals, fill a small lidded jar with whole spices or dried petals and then pour in enough oil to cover. Close the lid tightly and place in a sunny location for a week. Give the jar a good shake a couple of times a day. Strain and discard the spices/petals. If you prefer, you can also perfume the oil with essential oils: Just add them until the desired scent is achieved.
  • Strips of gauze, cheesecloth, plain cotton, or linen, if you wish to wrap your finished product.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bittens | 1 Comment »

« Previous Entries