The Art of Darkness


June 30th, 2011 by Cobwebs

PearlyI ran across Pearlies in Mary Poppins when I was a kid, and sort of assumed they had died out around the same time as dancing chimney sweeps. I was thus somewhat surprised to find this description of modern Pearlies and learn that the tradition is alive and well.

Pearlies (you can read about their history at the links above) wear clothing decorated with pearl buttons sewn in elaborate patterns. If you’ve got a stash of castoff buttons, this would be a great use for them.

Although a full suit or dress covered with buttons would certainly be an impressive–not to mention heavy–sight, smaller projects such as a hat, tote bag, or throw pillow decorated with a traditional pattern might be rather less daunting. A Pearly outfit or accessory would be an interesting choice for a Steampunk costume as well.

You can find historic patterns at sites devoted to the tradition* (search “pearly kings and queens” or “pearlies of London”), but could also adapt simple cross-stitch designs such as skulls or spiders for something a bit darker.

If you’re like me, you probably already have a box of random buttons lurking somewhere. If not, look for them in thrift stores or ask crafty friends to share their stash. As a last resort, plain plastic buttons can be purchased fairly cheaply at fabric or craft stores. (If you plan to use a whole lot of them, look into buying them wholesale instead; many manufacturers have a minimum wholesale order of only $50 or so.)

Since there’s a lot of hand-sewing involved (I suppose you could try hot glue for lightly-used items like neckties, but would make no promises about durability) this is a good project if you like to keep your hands busy whilst watching TV. You could start small, perhaps something as simple as a button brooch, and then expand into larger and more elaborate projects as you gain experience. The results are certainly attractive and unique.

*Since Pearlies in the UK are associated with charitable organizations, I have no idea whether wearing an “unauthorized” costume there will get you glared at or not. Um, beware, I guess.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 1 Comment »

Wasteland Weekend

June 29th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Wasteland WeekendI find it weirdly hilarious that not only do Mad Max reenactors exist, there are enough of them to support a three-day “post apocalypse” festival every year.

Wasteland Weekend is an adults-only campout in the California desert, with Industrial DJs, post-apocalyptic vehicles, staged combats, and a vendor area called “Bartertown.” The event aims to create “a 360° post-apocalyptic environment,” so costumes are required and themed vehicles and campsites are strongly encouraged.

Their site proclaims, “Live for three days in a world pulled straight out of the Mad Max movies, beyond the grip of so-called civilization,” which I honestly have to say is not quite as tempting a proposition as the organizers seem to think it is.

This year’s event is September 23-25, so there’s plenty of time to dig up some spikes and cultivate your mohawk.

Posted in Whatever | 1 Comment »

Woo-Hoo Cthulhu

June 28th, 2011 by Cobwebs

In my online wanderings I’ve run into a number of Lovecraft-inspired games. If you’ve got a soft spot for shoggoths, here’s a roundup:

The Commonplace Book Project is devoted to creating interactive adventures based on the unfinished story ideas that H.P. Lovecraft collected in his “Commonplace Book”. They’re free for download in exchange for user feedback.

For you whippersnappers who are unfamiliar with the concept of interactive adventures, here’s a Wikipedia entry to help fill you in. Kids today, with your fancy-schmancy graphics and your abundance of CPU cycles. In my day, all we had were a brass lantern and an Elvish sword, and we couldn’t even see them.

Uh, heh. Anyway, Lovecraft.

Another excellent example of this type of horror interactive fiction is Infocom’s wonderful The Lurking Horror, available for download here. (The best part of interactive fiction games is that the text-based play looks entirely innocuous when glanced at by, say, your boss. Try doing that with Portal 2.)

Sort of similar is Skotos’ “prose adventure” Lovecraft Country, which isn’t so much a game as straight-up roleplaying in 1930s Miskatonic University. There isn’t really a point to this one, you just sort of wander around and are vaguely menaced.

For the Xbox, there’s Dark Corners of the Earth, which combines a first-person shooter with mystery and investigation. (It’s also available for PC.)

Shadow of the Comet is a PC-based game which combines Halley’s Comet with eldritch horror.

Alone in the Dark is another PC game (a fairly old one) “inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft.”

Arcane is a Web-based “mystery serial” in which you’re trying to defeat the Ancient Ones and their cultists.

If you prefer board games, check out Arkham Horror, a cooperative game in which you’re part of a small band of investigators trying to stop unnamed monstrosities from taking over the world. Apparently the original module isn’t too hard to defeat, but there are expansion packs like Dunwich Horror that significantly up the difficulty level.

Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game is a two-player dueling game which allows players to command both human and monster factions.

The Hills Rise Wild! is a miniatures game in which players vie for control of The Necronomicon.

For sheer weirdness, try Cthulhu 500, which combines the Cthulhu mythos with…stock-car racing. Because, um, why not?

The same game manufacturer (Atlas) also brings us Cults Across America, in which each player commands a separate cult attempting to dominate the U.S.

Chaosium offers the collectible card game Mythos, which includes a starter deck and five booster decks: Expeditions of Miskatonic University, Cthulhu Rising, Legends of the Necronomicon, The Dreamlands, and New Aeon.

:::whew::: That oughta be enough tentacles for anybody.

Posted in Needful Things | 1 Comment »

Bats in Our Midst

June 27th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Here’s a neat video by KQED QUEST about researchers counting bats* in California, plus a look at some bat-rescue volunteers.

(via BoingBoing)

*”Vun…vun bat…two…two bats…three…”

Posted in Whatever | No Comments »

Link Dump in the Time of Cholera

June 24th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Steampunk Musical Spider Robot – Creepy spider robot made from a vintage music box.

Wicked Witch Bookmark – Polymer clay bookmark of stripey socks and ruby slippers. No instructions, but it looks like it’d be easy to make.

Baby Owl – Brain-meltingly cute picture.

Cthulhu Chick – Etsy seller specializing in crocheted Cthulhus. Also does custom designs; I think Chefthulhu is my favorite. (Hat tip to Empress Pam)

Hello Pinhead – This is certainly a…unique…tattoo.

Skull Painting – Interesting design painted on a dog skull. I hadn’t considered checking with vets for leftover animal bones.

Closer to Hogs – A music video by Nine Inch Richards. Because why not.

Abandoned Belgium – Photos of several creepy old houses.

Needles and Sins – Blog devoted to tattoos and other body modification.

Nevermore – Period crime drama which features Edgar Allan Poe as the narrator. There are several sequels, also starring Poe: Hum Bug, The Tell-Tale Corpse, and Mask of Red Death.

Posted in Link Dump | 3 Comments »

I Vant You…

June 23rd, 2011 by Cobwebs


…to donate blood.

Okay, mainly I just wanted an excuse to use this picture, BUT donating blood is an activity that every goth should be able to get behind. You bleed. It makes you paler. Plus you get cookies!

Blood, plasma, and platelets are almost always in short supply, and the need for blood is particularly critical in the aftermath of natural disasters. Giving blood is free, so you can help people even if you aren’t able to donate money. (Plus, if you’re on the introverted side, giving blood lets you help your fellow humans without actually having to deal with your fellow humans.)

I’ve been a donor for years–I’ve given slightly over 6 gallons so far–and Shadow Jack and I even requested that our wedding guests arrange to donate blood in lieu of gifts. Every pint can save up to three lives, so with very little time and effort on your part you can give lots of other people the chance to enjoy another sunset. (I also sort of enjoy the image of someone receiving a pint of our blood and suddenly developing an inexplicable fondness for black eyeliner and Joy Division.)

If you’re over 16 and healthy, check with your local Red Cross to find out about donating. Bela will thank you.

Posted in Whatever | 2 Comments »

Seen Online

June 22nd, 2011 by Cobwebs

Be the strange you want to see in the world.

What’s really scary about guys with cobwebs tattooed on their elbows is that you don’t know where the spider is.

The worst thing about getting cooties is having to contact all your old freeze tag partners

My new favorite thing to do at work is slip a kid $20 while his parents aren’t looking and quietly whisper: “This is from your real father.”

I wouldn’t be so scared of spiders if they were wearing tiny shoes.

I think it would be a shame if Bruce Willis doesn’t have “He was dead the whole time” written on his tombstone.

“YOU WANNA PIECE OF ME?” – A very annoying leper.

I bet Michael J. Fox is just shaking his head at this new Teen Wolf.

“Glenn, don’t put me in any more songs.” — Glenn Danzig’s mother

Next time you see someone with freckles, try not to picture a tentacle erupting out of each one.

Posted in Funny Peculiar | No Comments »


June 21st, 2011 by Cobwebs

Light SwitchI blogged about Speleobooks’ bat merchandise a while back, and it appears that when I wasn’t looking they went and got even MOAR bat merchandise.

So much, in fact, that they’ve spun off a whole new site to showcase it. Their “bat friendly and bat positive goods” include clothing, jewelry, toys, home accessories, and lots more. Since bats so often get bad press, it’s nice to see a store that casts them in a positive light.

I also love that they brand themselves as “one source chiroptera shopping;” heaven knows you don’t want to run all over the place to fulfill your chiroptera needs.

Posted in Bad Things, Needful Things | 4 Comments »

I Can’t Help It

June 20th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Metal covers of decidedly un-metal songs crack me the hell up.

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 1 Comment »

The Link Dumps of Penzance

June 17th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Belle Helmets – Striking hand-painted bike helmets, with designs like phrenology, brains, tarot cards, and crop circles.

Kitschy Living – Photoblog that is just all kinds of weird.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Thriller/fantasy novel illustrated with weird “vintage” photographs, about an abandoned orphanage where children may have been quarantined for good reason.

Rat Fashion Show – Fancy rats, wearing fancy clothes. Rats are awesome.

The Frankenhood – Knitting pattern for a Frankensteinian hood, complete with light-up neck bolts. (The pattern is on Ravelry, which requires registration, so I’m linking to the CRAFT post about it instead.)

Gargoyles and Grotesques: Part 2 – A second photo roundup from Dark Roasted Blend.

ShapeLock – Seriously cool “design plastic” that melts in hot water, can be sculpted as desired, and reused as often as you like. This would be great for 3-D mockups.

Dark Tourism – Article which discusses the practice of visiting “sites, attractions and exhibitions which have real or recreated death, suffering or the seemingly macabre as a main theme.”

Monsties – Ridiculously cute little crocheted monsters.

Blood Oath – Book about the exploits of a vampire in the service of the U.S. government, or what amounts to “Jack Bauer with fangs.” There’s also a newly-released sequel, The President’s Vampire.

p.s. – I’m going to be dragged, kicking and shrieking, away from the computer for a week. Due to the magic of scheduled posting blogging will continue as usual, but if you email and I don’t respond I’m not ignoring you. (Or…am I? Muwahahahaha.)

Posted in Link Dump | 2 Comments »

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