The Art of Darkness

Secret Santa Can Suck It…Again

November 30th, 2011 by Cobwebs

SantaWe’ve been doing this virtual fake gift swap for a couple of years now, and darned if we aren’t going to do it again.

It’s easy (and free!) to participate: Between now and December 12, leave a comment on this post or email me saying that you want to be part of the swap. On the 16th I’ll tell you who your assigned “giftee” is, and some time before December 21 you post a picture on your blog of what you would have gotten that person if you had money and, y’know, cared.

Your “gift” can be as silly or serious as you like, and since you probably won’t know the recipient, feel free to make up whatever story you want about why the gift is appropriate. (If you don’t have a blog, you can arrange to have your gift posted here.)

On December 22 I’ll post a list of everybody’s entries so we can all marvel at each other’s good taste. It’s a silly, fun way to take a short break from general holiday craziness, plus we can all discover new blogs we might not otherwise find. The more people who participate the more entertaining the gift list will be, so put your inner Scrooge in a corner and join in!

(Image Credit)

Posted in Whatever | 6 Comments »

Kitbashing a Quilt Pattern

November 29th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Two Quilts“Kitbashing” is a model-building term which refers to using pieces of commercial model kits to create a new custom design. More generally, it can be thought of as adapting a commercial pattern to one’s own ends: The pattern manufacturer does all of the heavy lifting with regard to measurements and construction details, so it’s much easier than designing something from scratch.

For those of us with darker sensibilities, it’s a splendid way to turn mainstream patterns into something a little more appealing.

A case in point is this quilt, McCall pattern M6096. I used it as-is to make a quilt for a co-worker’s baby shower. And then I used different fabric and slightly altered the appliques to make a Halloween version. Muuuch better.

The applique background fabrics and small quilt squares were all dug out of my absurdly large supply of novelty Halloween scraps; if you have better self-control than I and don’t buy far more Halloween-print fabric than you need, you can probably find the small amounts needed for this project in your local fabric store’s clearance bin.

The applique sea life shapes were turned spooky with just a few alterations (click to enlarge):

The fish became a Jack-o’-lantern by removing its fins and adding a stem, leaves, and some simple facial features. The stem, eyes, and nose were cut freehand, and the leaves were cut from the pattern meant for the crab’s claws.


The crab was turned into a bat by cutting the body and head as one piece and then cutting two more pieces from the head pattern and scalloping the bottoms.


I did wind up cheating on the octopus-to-spider transition a bit; the original octopus pattern was so blobby that adding extra legs just made it look weird and asymmetrical. I eventually drew spider legs until I got one I liked and then traced eight of them around a central circle to make a pattern. I also stitched a simple spiderweb on the background fabric before appliqueing the spider on top: Just a few straight spokes connected by parallel lines.


A couple of other changes I made were to use my sewing machine’s built-in zigzag stitch to attach the appliques instead of the hand-stitched blanket edging recommended in the instructions; it’s a lot faster and it anchors the fabric much more thoroughly. I also used buttons for the spider and bat’s pupils instead of the teensy little black circles in the original pattern; those things are insanely difficult to cut out neatly and even harder to attach smoothly (if you’re making this quilt for a child small enough to possibly choke on a nommed-upon button you’ll need to grit your teeth and use the fabric).

The rest of the construction was done according to the original pattern instructions, resulting in a wonderfully Halloweeny quilt with a fraction of the effort required to design a pattern from scratch.

The next time you’re browsing patterns, keep an eye out for designs that you can darken down; it’s a wonderful time-saver.

Posted in Paint It Black | 2 Comments »

The Vampire Intervention

November 28th, 2011 by Cobwebs

I like the “All celebrity voices are impersonated. Poorly.” disclaimer.

(Hat tip to Beth)

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 3 Comments »

Poetry Sunday

November 27th, 2011 by Cobwebs

The Hollow Men

Mistah Kurtz—he dead.

A penny for the Old Guy


We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.


Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer—

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom


This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.


The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.


Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

— T.S. Eliot

Posted in Whatever | 1 Comment »

Unspooky Saturday

November 26th, 2011 by Cobwebs

And the last entry in this month’s Saturday tale-telling nonsense is a popular Japanese ghost story, which I didn’t realize until looking up the details isn’t actually about a ghost at all. This thing is even sillier than I’d thought it was.


this story starts right out with a major spoiler
in that it is narrated by the protagonist in the past tense
which means that
no matter how horrifying the events described may be
we already know the dude lives through them
inasmuch as he is here to describe them
this is a good way to reduce stress
I approve

so there’s this lonely road
that is very spooky after dark
and people go out of their way to avoid it
because it is reputedly haunted by a Mujina
and Mujina-avoidance sounds like a very prudent measure
until you find out that a Mujina is not
as one might suspect
one of those special ultra-freaky
demonic ghost monsters with extra squick on top and a side order of fangs
that the Japanese seem to excel in being haunted by
a Mujina is a magical shape-shifting badger
that likes to play pranks
and being afraid of badgers
shape-shifting or otherwise
is just kind of sad

although pranky the magical badger
would be an excellent saturday morning cartoon

so this merchant is hurrying down the spooky dark road
and he sees a young woman crouching by a moat
hiding her face in her sleeves
and sobbing loudly
which as you will see in a minute
would be harder than it sounds

and because he is a very kind man
the merchant approaches and asks what is wrong
but she ignores him and continues to cry
so he goes nearer
and asks if he can help her
and she stands up
but keeps her back to him
and continues to sob and moan and carry on

and this merchant has clearly never seen any Japanese horror movies
because instead of deciding that this whole scenario is way too creepy
and running like the wind
he goes up and touches her on the shoulder
and she whips around and drops her sleeves
to reveal a decided abundance of facelessness
with the front of her head as smooth as an egg
so you see how sobbing loudly could be a challenge

this would be the Mujina
pretending to be a crying woman
and repaying a kindly stranger’s offer of help
by scaring the shit out of him so hard
that his intestines unroll like a party streamer
so you can bet that the next crying woman
that the merchant comes across
will have to just keep on crying
thanks to the Mujina being a dick

so the merchant screams
and runs away down the road
afraid to look behind him
although I would be tempted to look
because if there was an eldritch horror somewhere behind me
I might be interested to know how close it was
and also would want to know
how it was following me if it didn’t have any eyes

but the merchant finally sees a light in the distance
and runs toward it
to find a noodle-seller who has set up a stand by the roadside
although a pitch-black road in the middle of nowhere
is perhaps not prime real estate for such an establishment

so the merchant runs up to the noodle-seller
who has his back to him
and here I am detecting a theme
and yells that he’s just seen something horrible

and the noodle-seller asks
was it something like this?
and turns around
to show that he also is entirely faceless
and then the lantern goes out

and that is where the story ends
with the protagonist in the dark with a faceless noodle-seller
which sounds like a bad place to be
for one thing he can’t taste his own cooking so the noodles are probably terrible
we know that the protagonist somehow manages to escape
because he is the one telling the story
so anticlimaxes all around

the moral of this story is that badgers are assholes.

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 7 Comments »

The Little Link Dump That Could

November 25th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Human Blood Energy Potion – Caffeinated fruit punch in a “blood bag.”

Imaginary Image Blog – Interestingly surreal site consisting of descriptions of images that would be totally awesome if they existed. Things like, “A wide-angle photo of the milk section at a supermarket only one of the jugs is overfilled with blood and leaking out into a pool all over the floor” and “A photo taken inside an empty Madison Square Garden as a pack of wolves walk across the court”.

Professor Alexander’s Botanical Vasculum – Gorgeous steampunk terrarium.

Seance – Webcomic from AmazingSuperPowers. (Includes mouseover text.)

Harry Potter Weddings – Lovely photos of Harry Potter-themed weddings.

Astronaut Training Party – This isn’t even faintly goth but it’s such a splendidly detailed idea for a children’s party that I wanted to highlight it. It could be spooked up by tweaking the theme to involve hostile aliens, or make it a monster hunter-training party instead.

Spider Screen – I had never considered cross-stitching a window/door screen, but I love this spiderweb idea.

Wishing it Was Friday – Amusing “iconic” poster.

Cinderella’s Coach – Great “coach” made of artificial pumpkins and squash. This would be pretty painted with metallic or iridescent paint, too.

Skeleton Cupcakes – Tutorial (starts a couple of paragraphs down in the post) for making ridiculously cute skeleton cupcake toppers out of chocolate-covered pretzels.

Posted in Link Dump | 2 Comments »

The Films of Tim Burton

November 24th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Kees van Dijkhuizen jr. creates interesting montages of the films of various artists, including Wes Anderson, Ridley Scott, and Tim Burton.

This video is “unrated,” and is NSFW for reasons of gore:

(via Blame it on the Voices)

Posted in Whatever | 1 Comment »

Seen Online

November 23rd, 2011 by Cobwebs

Every day I say a little prayer of thanks that no one I know can read my mind.

I wish social networks existed in the time of the Iliad. I would enjoy reading historical accounts about “I’M IN A HORSE!” posts.
Surviving the World

You want to know about voting. I’m here to tell you about voting. Imagine you’re locked in a huge underground nightclub filled with sinners, whores, freaks and unnameable things that rape pit bulls for fun. And you aren’t allowed out until you all vote on what you’re going to do tonight. You like to put your feet up and watch “Republican Party Reservation.” They like to have sex with normal people using knives, guns, and brand new sexual organs that you did not know existed. So you vote for television, and everyone else, as far as your eye can see, votes to fuck you with switchblades. That’s voting. You’re welcome.
— Warren Ellis

The woman ahead of me at the pharmacy is in a belly-shirt, kilt, and combat boots. I hope she’s picking up her prescription for the future.

Walked through the metal detector at the airport while making the devil horns sign with my hands and headbanging. No one got it.

“With our survival as a species at stake, zombies are back from the dead”–The History Channel and its new “Fuck It” programming approach.

Whatever historical period you’re nostalgic for, one thing is certain: the consensus at the time was that life had gone to hell.

I don’t burn bridges. I just loosen the bolts a little bit each day.

Percentage of calls coming from inside the house: 72%. #SpookyStats

If I had a time machine, I’d just go back and say “that’s so Raven!” to Edgar Allen Poe after everything he says.

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 2 Comments »

Oh Lawsey, Lawsey, Lawsey

November 22nd, 2011 by Cobwebs

NBC has decided to reboot The Munsters and make it, quote, “a visually spectacular one-hour drama.”

Bryan Fuller, the creator of Pushing Daisies, is behind the reboot.

Grandpa Sam Dracula is essentially Dracula who assembled Herman because no man was good enough for his daughter Lily, a sexy vamp. Lily’s niece Marilyn the freak is actually normal and Lily and Herman’s only child, Eddie, has his werewolf tendencies surface in puberty, forcing the family to relocate to their famous 1313 Mockingbird Lane address.

Fuller’s been busy; he’s also had a series based around Hannibal Lecter accepted by NBC.

I…have nothing further to add here.

Posted in Whatever | 2 Comments »

Voodough Dolls

November 21st, 2011 by Cobwebs

Voodough DollI tend to find recipes created by food companies largely suspect, because they so often seem engineered toward using their own products with a tasty result being somewhat secondary. So it is with these Voodough Dolls: Perhaps it’s just me, but a dessert that consists of a thin piece of cookie, a giant wad of marshmallow, and vanilla frosting is the sort of dessert that is likely to remind me that restraint is a virtue.

However, I love both the name and the idea, and it would be splendidly easy to make a much more appealing version. This is nothing but six cylinders, and there are one heck of a lot of cylindrical desserts.

In its simplest form, perhaps as part of a buffet for a child’s party, you could simply use whatever your local snack-size version of a Swiss Roll is. I think I’d also use gumdrops instead of taffy balls for the pin heads, since then you could easily make a lot of them for extra decoration.

For a larger and more adult take on the same idea, any jelly-roll type dessert would work well. In particular, a Buche de Noel version would be an extremely unique centerpiece for a holiday party. Use larger cocktail-type toothpicks for the pins, and top them with chocolate truffle or maraschino cherry pin heads.

You could also do a savory rendition, perhaps with pate or cheese logs, and use olives to top the toothpick pins. And, of course, to be really true to the name, the whole thing could be made of bread.

With the winter holidays galloping up, this is a great time to try something weirdly festive. I may bring a cinnamon-roll take on this in to the office some morning; my co-workers haven’t been giving me a sufficiently wide berth lately.

(via Creepy Cupcakes)

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 3 Comments »

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