Tag Archives: doom

Gifts of Lovecraft

If you’re anything as lucky as me, then you’ve found a significant other/trans-dimensional monster hunter/mental patient to share your life with, however short that may be. And if your beloved and accursed life partner is an enthusiast, nay, a votary, of all things weird and macabre, then you might need a little help finding the inspired gifts to show them the horrific holiday, blighted birthday or abhorrent anniversary you both deserve! These Lovecraftian artifacts will spell out your love beyond the ageless æons and non-Euclidean space, as the dread Cthulhu has already permeated our modern popular culture with its putrid tentacles… of doom.

BOOKS & ART

Whether a long-time devotee or curious neophyte, anyone interested in ‘the Mythos‘ could find no better place to delve than these gorgeous collections, The Eldritch Tales and the Necronomicon. The faux-leather covers and gold-embossed Les Edwards illustrations (not to mention the inside Virgil Finlay sketch of Howard Phillips Lovecraft) make these commemorative editions a must-have. Notably,  Robert E. Howard‘s Conan the Barbarian is also collected in a similar series, as the two share a contextual history. Then again, a lot of fictional universes dip into the Cthulhu Mythos, from some of Stephen King‘s short stories to Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea‘s Illuminatus! Trilogy, and even more recently, episodes of South Park.

Originally written for the pulp magazines of the 1920s and 1930s, H. P. Lovecraft’s astonishing tales blend elements of horror, science fiction, and cosmic terror that are as powerful today as they were when they were first published.

One might also gaze upon the maelstrom of aesthetes and devotees of the black arts, who have lent their skills to paintings, illustrations, sketches and essays of these mighty Elder Gods. The Lovecraft Retrospective is chock full of artists inspired by the Master of Horror Fiction, including H. R. Giger and Mike Mignola, among at least forty others (with an introduction by Harlan Ellison). Although Giger released his own Necronomicon work with an introduction by Clive Barker, and Mike Mignola, (in addition to doing a brilliant cover for a collection) also paid tribute to the man himself in the Codex Arcana. Not to mention the very looming presence of Ancient Ones in the Hellboy universe.

Or peruse the works of the late Jean Giraud, whether they be in full comic book form, or covers such as Lovecraft: Letters D’Arkham, Marginalia, 1975.

Speaking of art, it’s a damned shame (and I do mean damned) that, for copyright reasons, these hilarious crossovers, mash-ups or remixes are not available for purchase. Such as Murray Groat (A.K.A. Muzski)’s versions of Tintin within the Mythos, as Hergé/Moulinsart S.A.’s rights apply:

“I am getting alot of print requests by email, which is nice, but I have to sadly tell each and everyone of them that I cannot.”

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Or the multi-chaptered project to chronicle Bil Keane‘s The Family Circus as they fall into the inky æther of ‘unspeakable horrors.’

Or Dr. Faustus‘ Seussian retellings:

This is not to say, of course, that one cannot make a fine print of these deviations for personal, non-commercial use.

DRINK

One method of inducing a thrilling madness is to first enter a drunken stupor. Though many soporific aperitifs of the Eldritch abomination exist, only a few are readily extant and/or non-fictitious.

Demon’s Hop Yard IPA is brewed by Anheuser-Busch, Inc., and can be found in several states (Lovecraft’s ‘Devil’s Hopyard’ was in his fictional town of Dunwich).

Clear, bright golden, with copper hues topped with a thick, clinging hop-induced lace that trails the beer as it’s consumed. Aroma is dank, resiny and saturated with a pronounced herbal character.

Miskatonic Dark Rye is a vegan and organic ale from (where else?) Portland, Oregon brewing company Captured by Porches. I’m sure it’s what the students at Miskatonic U get soused on as they pore over dusty tomes in ancient libraries.

Smooth. Rye spiced with chocolate and wine tones. Light to medium bodied. Made with organic two row and malted wheat, rye, and oats. Malted with crystal and chocolate. Hopped with domestic tettnanger.

Others are more secret, nigh-mythical brews, such as the Limited Edition New Year’s Black IPA by Us Vs Them, inspired by the dark lord Cthulhu himself, which is either no longer available or lying asleep for centuries.

Premium 2 row barley, coloring and caramel flavor from 2 speciality malts…the blackness comes from a special de-husked roasted malt called Carafa Special 3… it does not impart that very roasty, astringent or bitter coffee flavor you’d find in a stout, however it does leave a deep, dark tone to the appearance. It was bittered with Chinook and flavored with Amarillo Centenial and Simcoe and fermented with a California Ale Yeast to accentuate the clean bitterness and hop flavors.

Cthulhu Custom Etched Shot Glass

Of course, one needs the proper receptacle to contain the evil spirits with designs on your mind and soul. Might I recommend either the tentacled pint glass, or the Cthulhu custom-etched shot glass, (and filled appropriately with Kraken rum)

A fine gift could be made of Jonathan Chaffin’s Horror in Clay tiki mug, and now that his Kickstarter goal has been made, perhaps in futures told they shall be hewn from matter most foul, but do not seem for sale to the public just yet.

And apparently, HPL was a fervent coffeeholic, with these subversive subcultures crossing in several ways, including the now extinct Cthulhu Coffee.

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgahnagl fhtag”  ~ Me, after tasting the foul bitters aforementioned

TOYS

All manner of adorable plushies of the Dread Lord can be found, but some creative artisans have crafted their own worldly totems, as prescribed by the visions in their feverish dreams.

John Kovalic’s My Little Cthulhu:

The various knitted Cthulhu patterns:

Or the abominable HP Lovercraft figure by Alex CF:

My first DIY action figure project is a hand molded, cast and painted effigy of Lovecraft, along with a copy of the fabled and despised Necronomicon! Each figure will come as part of a larger box set – including a copy of a comic I have written and drawn, a screen printed t shirt, a screen printed poster, badge and sketch, all in a wax sealed box! These will be available very soon! email merrylinhouse@gmail.com for inquiries!

ENTERTAINMENT

Though many directors have been influenced by HPL’s works, not many have successfully conjured a faithful translation of those strange stories (see: Re-Animator). In 2005, however, director Andrew Leman brought one of the finest independent horror films into our world and onto the silent screen:

The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society presents its all new silent film of The Call of Cthulhu. The famed story is brought richly to life in the style of a classic 1920s silent movie, with a haunting original symphonic score. Using the “Mythoscope” process — a mix of modern and vintage techniques, the HPLHS has worked to create the most authentic and faithful screen adaptation of a Lovecraft story yet attempted.


More importantly, for the purposes of gift-giving and love-making, a classic black & white flick is the perfect thing to curl up with your loved one on the couch, as a slowly creeping dread encompasses the both of you. (The prolific H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society also villainously vends the album A Shoggoth on the Roof, a CD of Lovecraftian carolsArkham Asylum Certificates of Insanity, and other cult relics.)

The Evil Dead 2 (Book Of The Dead 2 Limited Edition)But if you really want a really great date night, allow the self-parodying  Sam Raimi and manly-chinned Bruce Campbell to open a deathly portal of Dead-ites, with your very own Necronomicon bound in a horrid human face! This Limited Edition ‘Book of the Dead’ isn’t necessarily easy to find, but is full of artwork and special features, and will scream when pressed if in mint condition!

H. P. Lovecraft IH. P. Lovecraft II

H.P. Lovecraft, not so coincidentally, was also a psychedelic acid rock band in the late 1960’s. They only released two albums in 1967 and 1968 before breaking up, renaming and reforming, but their best work were these early nuggets. They’re not exactly horrific or amorous, but their imagery is evocative and dreamlike nonetheless.

TRAVEL

If you desire to steal your beloved away for the week-end, perhaps a themed holiday is in order. If out West, wander to The Lovecraft Bar in Portland, covered in demonic symbols and cosmic tentacles, and visit the annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and Cthulhu Con. Or make your way to L.A. for their version of the Eldritch Events. Florida each year holds the NecronomiCon, a science fiction, fantasy and horror convention now in its 31st year.

But for real historical ambiance, what could be more romantic than a getaway to New England, to the hexed locality that spawned so many legends of spirits and devils and witchcraft, and a never-ending litany of literary progeny, from Hawthorne and Poe to Lovecraft and King. Begin in Lovecraft’s hometown of Providence, Rhode Island (though the Angell St. family mansion was torn down in 1961). Take the walking tour of College Hill, his old stomping grounds. From there, expedition to Essex County, Massachusetts (Lovecraft commented often in his letters that Marblehead was one of his favorite towns, saying that he’d live there if he didn’t already live in Providence). The basis for many of the ports and towns in what came to be called Miskatonic County (with an eponymous river and University), or ‘Lovecraft Country,’ containing Dunwich, Innsmouth, Arkham, Kingsport and Billington’s Wood.File:Lovecraft Country.svg

Interestingly, the fictional county is close to Salem, already known for its occult history, and North of the Bridgewater Triangle, a modern hotbed of supposed paranormal activity.

MISCELLANY

If your fated partner cares not for those sweet nothings and sweeping gestures, perhaps the wretched aromatics of the Elder Gods will help spice things up, and the Picnic in Arkham: The Lovecraft Collection of perfumes by Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs:

Azathoth is the blind, idiot god who sits on a black throne at the center of Chaos. His scent is high-pitched and screeching, both impenetrably dark and searingly bright with the clarity of madness: tangerine, saffron, vetiver, black amber and cedarwood.

Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young, the All-Mother and wife of the Not-to-Be-Named-One. The lust incense of a corrupted Astarte. A blend of ritual herbs and dark resins, shot through with three gingers and aphrodisiacal spices.

The internet is resplendent with other mementos that profess your dark feelings, so be creative and think outside the box!

Diplomas:

Miskatonic Diploma (Herbert West) Poster

Purses:

And Elder thongs:

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Effortless Conservation for the Modern Man

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” -Charles Darwin

After Rick Santorum’s recent attack on environmental “theology” in the face of such horrific anti-Christian acts (such as Obama’s blocking of billionaire oil profiteering via corrupted or incomplete environmental impact assessments), it behooves us to ask what it truly means, as Santorum biblically puts it, to be the “stewards of nature.”  Indeed, what it means to be a man in relation to nature, and to what degree our own conscience can handle.

With Climate Change Conspiracy Theories taking every shape from outright refusal to accept the hard science, to the denial of man’s influence, from conspiracy-mongering of the “science elite” to the strongly-worded prepared releases of big corporate bullies, it seems humans are happy with the pace of our own extinction. Make no mistake, this is not really about the little pebble orbiting in space known as Earth, or even the temporary handful of species currently threatened, this is about us.

As George Carlin explained, “there is nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The PEOPLE are fucked. Difference! Difference!”:

Indeed, there are several species which will actually benefit from global warming, from killer whales and albatross to the humble jellyfish, though that has been some debate as to the reasons for the world-threatening massive bloom of jellyfish population.

Or as Paul Gilding more recently explained in his TED Talk:

“Our economy is bigger than its host; our planet. This is not a philosophical statement, this is just science… that we’re living beyond our means.”

“The idea that we can smooth these transitions” through economic difficulties so that “9 billion people can live in 2050 a life of abundance and digital downloads,” he said, is “dangerously wrong.” The system will break down, it will stop working for us, and we’re not doing enough to prepare for that. And it’s not like we haven’t seen it coming. We’ve had 50 years of warnings from scientific analyses. And, if that weren’t enough, we’ve had economic studies showing us that it would be better for us to not to wait—that it will ultimately be even more profitably for us to act sooner—but we’re doing very, very little. Our eyes are still on the short term, whether it’s food, water, or waste.

Or perhaps as Kurt Vonnegut said, “Yes, well, I think we are terrible animals. And I think our planet’s immune system is trying to get rid of us and should.

Like languages, fire, and of course every single thing that lives, we can and will die.

Ignoring our predilection for preserving cute species selectively over others such as mosquitos and cockroaches (both of which, of course, are doing just fine), could it be that some some species (*coughdodocough*) might deserve to die? If an animal like the kakapo is evolved to embarrassing failure with one of the worst reproductive strategies in the Animal Kingdom, should we waste our resources there instead of on other planet-saving ventures? Couldn’t these Australian biologists better spend their time working out the fungal disease decimating the awesome Tasmanian Devil instead of the existentially-challenged Kakapo? Are we doomed to start wondering who and what on the sinking ship is worth saving and who cannot and should not fit in the life boats? And are we even worth saving?

Death is inevitable. Though we do seem in some particular hurry to get there.

There is an inevitability of collapse, the cyclical mass extinction of our own and many other species, swept under the rug by planetary forces. If there’s anything we can do at this point, we should try, and try we must and will. To fight against it seems futile, but our species, as the seemingly most adaptable, needs to adjust to the reality that we are simply animals, apex predators, nothing special, capable of slowing down our ridiculous pace. The same problem that faces deer who overgraze their environment of food, coral that topples under its own weight, or viruses who kill their host. Many animals clearly over-compete and exploit their ecosystem to their fullest for food, though within the wide genetic variance of life we also see species that adapt their methods, preserve their environment, even culling their numbers for long-term survival of the species. We can argue that we are better, more intelligent, more wise, more conscious, more highly adapted than all the rest, but somehow our track record and effortlessness are less than convincing.

And what good will our efforts make, in a modern world spiraling towards total breakdown? Your personal decisions won’t make much of a difference, economist Gernot Wagner argues in a provocative new book, But Will the Planet Notice? How Smart Economics Can Save the World. Instead we need to change our big picture science, tackling large-scale cultural waste issues like traffic congestion.

Technology will create GMOs with optimal nutritional value for starving nations, to replenish the soil as we till it, and attempt to better balance the unsustainable trends we’ve set over the course of hundreds of years. Lab-grown meat will become the norm, not borne of some nagging ethical concerns of animal consciousness, but the necessity of hungry mouths the world over. Future generations, just as selfish and greedy and hungry as every one before, will nonetheless find themselves painted into a tightening corner. We are in their corner now.

Our efforts may not count, but we should still make both large, sweeping policy decisions, and the small furtive steps to reduce our individual carbon footprints. I honestly don’t think that, since we’re all doomed anyway, you should sweat participating in society or having used styrofoam. We can’t all be expected to compost our own feces, or as one all-important issue demands:

To determine if a pesticide contains a neonicotinoid, look at the ingredients: Imidacloprid, acetamiprid, dinotedfuran, clothianidin, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam are all neonicotinoids.

But attempting to grind those gears that are now expediting the end is not a radical concept. If every person were to find that middle ground, accept the crushing weight of impending extinction facing us all, and make small changes accordingly, it would be better than denying it outright (though perhaps less comfortable than ignorance). Nobody is going to pat you on the back for doing the bare minimum, but at least it’s vastly better than what most Americans do, which is nothing.

But remember that if the damage is irreparably done, then we are just part of nature taking its course. No need to feel bad about our own extinction.