Friday, October 29, 2010

Hallowmas Eve - Day Four and a Half: The Kids Are All Right (when properly guided)

This is just a brief note, instructing you to run, prance, and/or trundle over to this amazing blog, and see what the Cthulhu Kids are up to in the run-up to Halloween.

Special thanks to fellow Angelinos (and obviously devoted Lovecraftians) David Milano and Colleen Kennedy. 

Stuff like this gets me up off the carpet just when I think all is bleak and ignorance will guide our uncertain future.

Hallowmas Eve - Day Four: Gut a Gourd, Save a Turnip - or, The Devil is WAY Stupid

There are times when I just fall to the floor, overwhelmed by the immense stupidity that seems to plague humanity at every turn.  Not that I'm some MENSA-grade rocket scientist (the math was always too confounding), but at least I TRY to be intellectually curious and relatively creative, endeavoring to give back a little to the world and the silly creatures that currently top the food chain.

But then I come across an artistic work or unselfish act that relights my faith in humanity, and thinks everything just might turn out okay for us as a species.

Today, it was jack o'lanterns.  Other days, it might be a painting or an inspired piece of prose or even a clever Internet meme.  But, today, it was was jack o' lanterns.  One of them which looks like this:

That someone can look at a round, orange gourd, and find THIS inside of it, fills me with glee and bolsters my opinion of homo sapiens (squared).

More here, courtesy of our friends at The Guardian in the UK.

In closing (and to add volume to this posting without lifting a finger other than to "cut" and then immediately "paste"), I offer a bit of odd and supernatural back story on the ol' carved pumpkin, with this one overriding moral:   Don't be a cheapskate, and always pay for your drinks.

People have been making jack o'lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."

In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack's lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack o'lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack o'lanterns.

(Courtesy of

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hallowmas Eve - Day Three: The Masks We Wear

Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.
- James A. Baldwin

Are you not terrified (by the lack of craftsmanship)?

I think the whole concept of mass produced, kiddie-grade Halloween masks went out in the 80's, or possibly the early 90's (when I wasn't paying attention).  I remember the plasticine smell and suffocating feeling of wearing a cheapy, nearly flat, Chinese-made Frankenstein or Dracula mask as a kid that my parents would pick up at the local drug store.  That dangling rubber band that would pinch the back of my neck until it got too stretch out or broke, rending the whole chintzy affair over within days.

This guy just looks tired, on all levels.

Then, the kids who were better loved in the neighborhood were lucky enough to get the full-head model, made of molded foam rubber which had a different smell, and a different sense of suffocation when worn, but at least you knew this sucker was going to last until next year.

These days, we take our masking a bit more seriously, as evidenced by what I think is one of the coolest masks to slither out of the amazing minds of some Lovecraftian toiling away in a dank basement.

Behold, the Leather Cthulhu:

Old One mug shot... "Okay, fuck-o, turn to your right..."
...." and now to your left."

I'm actually frightened looking at these bad boys, which is a rare treat these days.  Cosmic kudos (I know, it's corny) to the makers of the Leather Cthulhu, which includes Bob Basset Art Group in the Ukraine, which made the one below:

Bob's beasts also conjure up this one:

The one below has a little old school rubber thrown into the mix, as a nod to the Elder Ones (in the mask biz and otherwise), :

I'm not sure what to make of this guy, but I'm pretty sure he and I could share a Mythos beer or two (in a well lit, crowded room, obviously):

Mask up right, folks, and mind the rubber band...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hallowmas Eve - Day Two: Art as Magic

Halloween is the time for magic.  We want magic.  We NEED magic.  As we've thrown off the shackles of silly (and often dangerous) superstition over the years, we as human beings also lost that belief in magic, and in supernatural forces under the command of a studied adept.

Alan Moore, creator of "Watchmen" "From Hell," "V for Vendetta," and "The Killing Joke," amongst a billion other amazing things, raises an interesting notion in this linked video (I can't for the life of me figure out how to embed youtube video):  That magic is art, and art is modern magic - that being, the manipulation of words and images to achieve a change in consciousness.  Making all true artists, be it a musician, painter, sculptor, illustrator, writer, etc., also true practitioners of magic (and I ain't talking about pulling a quarter out of someone's ear, folks).

Alan says it far better than I could, and with a cooler accent, right here.

(Special thanks to Brother Joe Pulver, an Arch-Mage of the Highest Order, for the heads up on the vid)

Alan Moore:  "It's not the job of the artist to give the audience what it wants.  If the audience knew what it needed, then they wouldn't be the audience, they'd be the artist."


Monday, October 25, 2010

When One Can See in the Dark, Halloween NEVER Gets Old

Welcome to All Hallows Eve Week at The Cosmicomicon.

I just posted up a stale, fusty old primer on the history of Halloween, but I think we all know the Roman/Pagan backstory (and if not, google the hell out of it).  So, I deleted it in favor of pictures of the Grau Haus, and the fabulously infernal decor whipped up by my bewitching wife Ivy this past weekend.  We take our holidays very seriously at Grau Haus, and none more murderously serious than Halloween, which always runs neck and neck with Christmas as the most magical time of year 'round these parts.  The light and dark/yin and yang of what we hold near and dear, as it were.

In a mainstream sense, Halloween might be for the kids first and foremost, with its focus candy,  commercialism, and cocktail parties.  But for us devoted Dark Siders, it's also the time of year to revel in the supernatural, the weird, the spooky, and the horrifying.

The unknown, and the UNKNOWABLE.

It's about being a scared and excited kid again, shivering out in front of a haunted house, as the screams, thumps and sounds of chainsaws and rattling chains filter out into the chilled night air.  We don't do that anymore, but we don't have to.  There's enough horror left - hell, MORE horror left - in this world and other realms and cycles beyond to keep us a child in awe of the terrifying forever.  And that makes me happy...

Anyway, I've got the rest of the year to prattle on like a cracked out blowhard with a horror fetish.  Tonight, we go to the photos:
The Rue d'Auseil, overlooking our own personal cemetery moldering in the middle of our living room.
Ivy's ode to Edgar Allan Poe and Vincent Price in Corman's "Fall of the House of Usher"
The bats swoop and dive, bringing good tidings of dark deeds to the streets of Paris

The smoking hellscape of my dreams

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Possibilities of the Infinitesimal

From the unthinkably massive yesterday to the amazingly ephemeral today...

I've often pondered the possibility that our entire reality - everything we know about our expanding universe and all space/time - could possibly be taking place inside the nucleus of an atom making up the "body" of what we know as God, or some other unknowable Entity from which Everything was birthed.

Seeing photos like these only reinforces these mind bending notions.

What if we're living inside the nucleus of an atom...

And a whole reality lives inside the nucleus of our atoms...

With another plane of existence living inside the sub-atomic Quarks of those atoms...

Populated by a whole ecosystem of life forms living inside the Neutrinos...

With another entire Multiverse existing in particles our clumsy human brains haven't even discovered yet?

What would that do to us as a species, our understanding of who were are, what is out there, and what It All means?

Who says monsters only cast large shadows?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Peering Deeper Than Ever

It's just a matter of time before we discover what we really don't want to know.

Wasn't it Stephen Hawking, surely no hopped-up cosmic fiction scribe with a head full of implausible ideas, that said we probably don't want to contact What's Out There, as What we find most certainly won't be benevolent Star Trek aliens speaking English and offering us tours of their planets (that look surprisingly like the Santa Monica Mountains, and/or Hazzard County)?

Methinks some of those we came before us were more "Seers" than just merely "Writers."

The link to the article written by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, courtesy of Yahoo News:

Astronomers believe they've found the oldest thing they've ever seen in the universe: It's a galaxy far, far away from a time long, long ago.

Hidden in a Hubble Space Telescope photo released earlier this year is a small smudge of light that European astronomers now calculate is a galaxy from 13.1 billion years ago. That's a time when the universe was very young, just shy of 600 million years old. That would make it the earliest and most distant galaxy seen so far.
By now the galaxy is so ancient it probably doesn't exist in its earlier form and has already merged into bigger neighbors, said Matthew Lehnert of the Paris Observatory, lead author of the study published online Wednesday in the journal Nature.

"We're looking at the universe when it was a 20th of its current age," said California Institute of Technology astronomy professor Richard Ellis, who wasn't part of the discovery team. "In human terms, we're looking at a 4-year-old boy in the life span of an adult."

"Twinkle, twinkle, little star...

How I wonder what you are..." 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Future is Alive with the Dead

Our fetid friends at Permuted Press, home to some of the best zombie fiction in circulation, once again prove that not everything that dies stays down. Check out Z.A. Recht's "Thunder and Ashes" - the second terrifying installment in his Morningstar Saga - when it shudders to its feet on November 23rd. Pre-order now at this link, to make sure you're the first on your block to receive the second written warning of the ravenous epoch sure to come...

From Permuted Press, via

A LOT CAN CHANGE IN THREE MONTHS: Wars can be decided, nations can be forged . . . or entire species can be brought to the brink of annihilation. The Morningstar virus has swept the face of the planet, infecting billions. Its hosts rampage; its victims don’t die, but are reborn as cannibalistic shamblers. 

SCATTERED ACROSS THE WORLD, EMBATTLED GROUPS HAVE PERSEVERED. For some, survival is the pinnacle of achievement. Others hoard goods and weapons. And still others leverage power over the remnants of humanity with a mysterious cure. Francis Sherman and Anna Demilio want only a vaccine, but to find it they must cross a ravaged landscape of the infected and the lawless living.

THE BULK OF THE STORM HAS PASSED, leaving echoing thunder and softly drifting ashes. But for the survivors, the peril remains, and the search for a cure is just beginning...

Returning to the terrifying vision of his “awesome zombie novel” (David Moody) Plague of the Dead, Z.A. Recht “will once again make you turn your lights on” (J.L. Bourne) with this chilling apocalyptic thriller.

Get this book, folks.  Zombies are good food.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Whisperer In Darkness Hits the Big Screen

Thanks to the tireless and painstaking efforts of Glendale, California's own H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society (HPLHS - creators of the Mythoscope masterpiece "The Call of Cthulhu," screened recently at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival - Los Angeles), one of my favorite HPL stories is coming to the silvery screen.

 At long last, the hollow voiced whispers in the darkness and the scuttling of clawed feed on worn floorboards will be realized on celluloid.

First preview clip here

Folks, this is independent filmmaking at its most pure, as the HPLHS isn't making these surprisingly lavish and ambitious productions for the cash, as until Del Toro/Cameron prove otherwise, there ISN'T any money in adapting the "unfilmable" writing of Lovecraft to the screen.  These guys do it for the pure joy of bringing to life fantastical stories that they find extraordinary, including "The Whisperer In Darkness."  And they do it amazingly well and with a unique panache thanks to their patented "Mythoscope" style, paying special attention to mood, casting (including use of dozens of extras, a rarity in indie films), and their spectacular props that allow the viewer to almost lose oneself in a different time and a slightly different place.

Second preview link here

Ware the barking of dogs, and watch the HPLHS page for ordering information once that bad jack comes out on DVD.  I just hope it screens at next year's HPLFF - LA.


Monday, October 18, 2010

There's Something Down There... Wait For It...

Dreamer Born...

From as far back as I can remember, I've always had "the dreams"... 

Nightmares, more precisely, on an epic scale that I never thought I'd be able to describe in any rational mode of communication, nor did I think anyone else would understand.  They were too bizarre, too alien, too unexplainably horrific...  Most of them had me standing alone on a vast, colorless plane, littered with scattered, nonsensical shapes; or at times, balancing on the top of an impossibly tall labyrinth (thanks, "Time Bandits," for lodging that image in my childhood brain), while... SOMETHING positively enormous, shapeless, and, well... totally cosmic leaked into my universe from a tear in the sky, and pressed down on me with impossible weight from all angles ...  Suffocating me, offering me no escape and no possible comprehension of What was trying to absorb me as I stood alone in the emptiness...

I had dreams like this a lot when I was a child, back when my subconscious self still held better sway over the more rational mind.  Back when I still kind of believed in magic, and had a better ear for the things that don't ever show their face to adults, only whispering and winking to children.

My wife had dreams like this, as well, and it blew my mind when she told me of similarly terrifying and unknowingly hostile dreamtime experiences.  I think Howard Phillips Lovecraft had dreams like this, too.  In fact, I know he did, and did so almost a century before me.  His stories were like a third person dream diary, documenting snatches of nightmares I held onto fiercely, as I had no way of forgetting them.  It was a revelation, and I've been hooked to the marrow every since I cracked my first Lovecraft anthology in my teens.

So, it's only natural that I relate - and, in many ways - emulate, and thereby honor, H.P. Lovecraft through this blog, and through my short stories, screenplays, and middling poetry.  So much has been written, but there is still so much to explore in the infinite folds of outer space and the inner mind, from the center of the roiling universe to the hidden Dreamlands down the 700 steps.  It's an exciting time in the horror and speculative fiction game, with new media bringing unprecedented access to content, readers, and like-minded fellowship.  Hopefully, as things speed up, they also slow down, and we find clues to our future (in)sanity while looking to the past, all the while forging ahead with a darkly squinted eye.

Another legendary writer and dream walker, Hunter S. Thompson, wrote, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."  With as weird as things have turned, I think I went pro long ago...

Join me, and let's see down what dimly lit hallways this moldering, electronic tome takes us, our quills and brushes and awakened minds leading the way into the chaotic abyss swirling at the Beginning of Everything.

You see, I don't dream like I dreamed as a child anymore.  Now, I have to create those weird and wondrous visions while awake, in "real" time, like so many have done before me. 

It ain't as easy, but it sure as hell is a living.