I’m pleased to see there’s a new episode of The Lovecraft Geek podcast with Robert M. Price, The Lovecraft Geek Podcast, 19-001. 19 presumably stands for 2019, and the 001 is self-explanatory. My podcatcher software refuses to download locally (“cannot verify talkshoe.com”), but it streams fine.
Price says at the start that he needs more questions sent in. I had sent in a list of questions by email last October, but he doesn’t seem to have got them. More questions are needed, to: email@example.com
He notes that Ulthar Press has a set of Price-edited books lined up. Already published is The Mighty Warriors (summer 2018), his edited collection of new stories likely to interest those who like 1970s sword & sorcery action — with the twist that here we have… “aging once great heroes” rather than rippling youths.
Also announced was the book Narcotic Fragments (I think I heard that correctly, presumably a play on ‘necrotic’), a collection of his essays on the Mythos cycle, from Ulthar Press.
Sounding rather further off in time, and also from Ulthar Press, were various anthology titles. Most interesting to Lovecraft scholars is probably Price’s mention of his The Exham Priory Cycle. Since it will now include historic “precursor stories” to Lovecraft’s “The Rats in the Walls” as well as new stories influenced by the famous tale.
Chaosium is apparently getting back into everything from action figures to anthologies, and the latter seem likely to include Price’s long-languishing ‘Cycle’ anthology manuscripts. Including one with stories expanding on Lovecraft’s revision tales. Price didn’t say so, but I presume that Chaosium are flush with cash from the success of the big-budget videogame and its associated boost to the sales of the table-top game and related books.
Price’s next Crypt of Cthulhu magazine should ship in the next couple of weeks. Presumably that’ll be #112, but Necronomicon Press doesn’t have its table-of-contents up yet. Although a note elsewhere on the Web-o-sphere tells of one of the scholarly essays in it…
“First and Final Estimates: August Derleth Looks at Weird Tales Magazine” is to be included in Crypt of Cthulhu No. 112 (late 2018 or early 2019). This builds upon Haefele’s earlier discussion in August Derleth Redux: The Weird Tale 1930-1971 (H. Harksen Productions, 2009), emphasizing Derleth’s positive impact on the reputation of Weird Tales magazine.”
I recently spotted a rare lauding of Lovecraft, from Gunjan Patni, on a board for those studying the forms of language. He appears to be in India, and is thus presumably blissfully unaware that ‘you’re not supposed to say that’…
“I dabble in creative writing here and there. Wordsmiths like Tolkien and Lovecraft are a pleasure to read for their sheer skill in sentence structure and plethora of words.”
Why is my Tentaclii blog not indexed by the secondary search-engine DuckDuckGo? Apart from (oddly) two PDFs in the “Unknown Friends” series? It’s curious, because the content is there and Google Search is all over my blog. It even sometimes shows up on Google Scholar and Google Books.
Not that the absence from DuckDuckGo matters much, as all the evidence from my other blogs shows the only traffic source that matters in any real way is Google Search. But it is slightly annoying, especially when one sometimes hears people piously proclaiming that “I’m giving up Google”. They’ll do fine for basic “where is that big site’s main page” navigation searches. That’s what I use the Duck for, and the Duck’s Image Search is excellent. But for anything else, you’re using a third-rate service and badly crippling your online research capabilities.
Tentaclii‘s indexing problem here is not actually DuckDuckGo’s own indexing, but rather that their service is built mostly on Bing, with a bit of Yandex and a couple of others. Mostly they appear to rely on the world’s worst major search option… Microsoft Bing. Search for Tentaclii on Bing, and you can see how the results mimic almost exactly the search results for DuckDuckGo. So Bing is the culprit here.
Could I quickly submit my URL (web address)? No. Since September 2018 Bing no longer allows URL submissions to suggest new sites they should index. Nor does DuckDuckGo allow direct URL submissions. I did join Bing Webmaster programme to get a ‘site dashboard’, in order to submit URLs, which was total overkill and proved to be impossible anyway. After submitting your site you have to “verify” thus…
Which is totally impossible to do for a WordPress.com blog, because the author doesn’t have any control over such stuff. Thus basically Bing doesn’t allow WordPress.com blogs to submit their URL, in a way that their system can ever verify. Which means there’s no way to submit the URL for Tentaclii. Some might even see this as anti-competitive behaviour by Microsoft, blocking the services of other companies.
Like I said, it’s not that much bother… because Google Search is the only traffic source that matters. But it’s just annoying in a niggling way, especially when you hear people occasionally lauding Bing and DuckDuckGo as if they were as good or better than Google. I run jurn.org and have spent the last decade immersed in the academic side of search-indexing, and I can tell you they’re not.
An Account in Verse of the Marvellous Adventures of H. Lovecraft, Esq. Whilst Travelling on the W. & B. Branch N.Y. N.H. & H. R.R. in Jany. 1901 in one of those most modern devices, To wit: An Electric Train.
The latest issue of The Fossil is available, #378, January 2019. This long-running publication covers the history of amateur journalism. No Lovecraft or related content this issue, but Dale Speirs of Calgary in Canada usefully writes in with some suggestions. He has been the editor of his monthly zine Opuntia since 1991, and with no-one in his family interested in zines, he was wondering where he might reliably archive his scanned zine collection. After some research he chose two and his zine’s run is now…
It seems to me that these two sites could usefully be considered by those wishing to archive fannish material, alongside the obvious choice of archive.org.
maybe 80-90% of humans will die. There are real problems ahead in figuring out how we limp with some success from the current civilization to a probably much more limited one 100 years from now.
People seriously believe this utter total crap. It’s so sad. Even hyper-intelligent guys like Graham Harman, who does the Lovecraft object-oriented philosophy texts.
As Mickey Rooney might once have said… “Look kids… there’s an old abandoned castle up there on the hill! We don’t need those blockheads in town. Let’s use that castle to put on our show!”
CarcosaCon ships 350 of “the most devoted fans of [the RPG] Call of Cthulhu” to a remote castle in Poland…
a one-of-a-kind opportunity to meet legendary RPG creators, talk and play with them in a low-key environment. What else is there, waiting for the players? The halls and chambers of the Czocha castle are full of nooks and crannies, perfect for RPG sessions, a games room full of Cthulhu-related games, a tavern hall, original lectures, an exciting LARP, a gripping escape room and dungeons filled with never-before uncovered, terrifying secrets. All this within a scenic castle overlooking a tranquil, yet mysterious lake. CarcosaCon is an international convention, where the primary language used is English. The aim of the convention is to combine game-playing as a hobby with a weekend getaway with friends.
I don’t normally cover the RPG side of Lovecraft, or fan conventions, here at Tentaclii. But this looks like an event that’s too fab to overlook.
Presumably, having been ‘play-tested’ so-to-speak, the venue could also become a suitable future home for a wider pan-national Lovecraft convention for Eastern Europe? I’d imagine that most of the younger fans there all speak reasonably good English these days, so the language barriers (that held such things back in the past) might now be able to be overcome?
Heritage Auctions currently has a nice consignment of first editions on the auction block, mostly detective. But some Lovecraft and science fiction. It was interesting to see, in hi-res form, the Spring 1931 Creeps anthology which included a Lovecraft story. Is it just me, or does the cover face also somewhat resemble Lovecraft on the jaw?
Lovecraft remarked in a letter…
Did I tell you that Little Belknap and his Grandpa [Lovecraft] are both to be represented in the coming weird anthology Creeps by Night edited by Dashiell Hammett and published by the John Day Co.? Sonney’s story will be “A Visitor from Egypt”, and mine will be “The Music of Eric Zann” — a favourite of my own, by the way. We got only twenty-five bucks apiece, but the prestige may be helpful in dealings with editors…
It’s also interesting to get a good look in crisp hi-res at some famous book editions… Animal Farm dressed up like a children’s story rather than a political neutron-bomb, and Asimov’s Foundation trilogy looking like just another standard 1950s space adventure for boys…
The Assemblage of Dr. Arnold Astrall
Following my reading of the 2018 Cthulhu/Lovecraft RPGs survey I thought I would have ‘a first-time try’ at making an outline RPG scenario, or something that I imagine is like one, through picture-researching and making a new creative assemblage of vintage pictures.
The result takes the form of a ‘curated scrapbook’. This can be filled with your own words, to accompany your own detailed RPG game scenario story. This scrapbook is imagined as having been made by a U.S. museum curator. It contains all that is known about a strange and evidently dangerous upland area in the Near East, and this book serves as his briefing document for your own intended expedition to the location.
The 130Mb printable bundle for this is available for all my $5+ Patreon patrons in a .ZIP download, with 24 book pages at full size. They should print adequately at 10″ x 8″, if you require print, and then trimmed and hole-punched. Pages are laid out with photos but not with explanatory caption-cards, for which blanks are provided and you add them to match your developed game scenario. Matching paste-in cards, the telegrams, and paper scraps are thus provided for you in the bundle, together with additional blank book pages and a suitable typewriter font in .TTF format. There is also a PDF with the following suggested story/scenario details…
To assist you before you leave on your expedition the museum curator has assembled this 24-page book, drawing on the museum archives and correspondence folders. It tells of three previous expeditions to the region. The curator stresses that the book must be kept secret, since he does not wish to entice other western expeditions into the dangerous area.
The curator (pictured) first provides you with a paste-in of the telegram. This recently alerted him to the need to send you and your team to the area. (What it says is up to you to add. The same is true of explanatory typed cards for each page, for which space has been left in the layout).
First expedition: The book tells briefly of the first expedition. A Victorian explorer — the museum curator’s father — was visiting the antiquities as an antiquarian tourist when he had cause to venture out to a remote Trading Post. Possibly he went there in search of curious carved items. At the Post he heard tell of a mysteriously shunned fertile belt in the desert uplands. In search of adventure he hired three guides, at some cost, and penetrated toward it for some days. He found an extended oasis of jungle-like ravines that ‘should not have been there’, according to any Army map that he had seen of the area.
Beyond these fertile ravines, the uplands returned to rocky dry land where he encountered a high ruined cliff city. An ancient and eerie track led him up behind this city, to what from the manner of their stone-work seemed impossibly ancient ruins sited on the clifftop above. Both the city and its fore-runner were unknown to the guides, who had known only of the fringes of the fertile area. The explorer never returned from this trip into the interior, but one haggard guide later traded the explorer’s saddle bag — with its notebook fragments and camera plates — at the trading post. These were thus recovered by the authorities and sent back to the museum. His notebook has a scribbled note about what can be glimpsed in the uplands beyond the clifftop.
Some years later there was some missionary exploration which penetrated as far as the fringes of the fertile ravines, seeking hypothetical converts. But at its edge it was found to have been recently subject to immense earthquakes and earth-rifts, causing the sparse local population to fear it intensely and making further exploration as far as the supposed city impossible.
Second expedition: This was formed of two botanists from the curator’s own Museum. Having become interested in the area due to his father’s disappearance there, Dr. Astall had discovered that bizarre fossil plants could be had from the region. He set this father and son team to work on these at the Museum, and quite a collection was formed. The two men later went to the district itself in search of more such fossils. They were also tasked with finding any further details of Dr. Astrall’s lost father.
In the lobby of their port hotel there suddenly appeared a recently harvested living specimen of the supposedly ‘fossil’ plants. The two botanists met with an eccentric snake-charming plant collector, their local correspondent, who suggested it may have come from the mysterious and shunned fertile belt.
The pair travel out and get just past the first really deep rift of the mysteriously fertile belt. There they discover the flies that feed on the living plants to be deadly (and in a rather curious and alarming manner). Of the pair, only the father returned to America. The father continues at the Museum, and he studies the dead flies intensely, as well as the fossil plant collection. He is curiously reticent about what he has discovered, if anything.
Third expedition: A rich young man had come, only a few years ago, to Dr. Arnold Astrall at the Museum. He enquired of the fragmentary notebook made by the Victorian explorer, Astral’s father. These pages were shown to the young man. Dr. Astral noticed the young man became somewhat agitated when he saw the faded map in the notebook. He then abruptly left the Museum.
A short while after this visit Dr. Astrall received an excited telegram from the young man — he had a route to the lost city, firepower on his hip, fly-repellent grenades at the ready, and a fully mechanised base-camp at his disposal! No damn death-bugs would get him! There was surely gold in that city, and he meant to get it! The Museum would generously get 10% of the treasure found, as thanks for its help.
Yet… that was the last the world heard of the young man. Three photographs were to be the only relics of his lost expedition, the film reel being recovered from a drunken guide known to have visited the Trading Post. These pictures are presumed to be of the uplands somewhat beyond the mysterious cliff-city.
By pasting in picture-corners, the curator has indicated to you a mysterious missing photo from the third expedition. It is said to have been seen at the Trading Post by a missionary…
Possibly it was a closer picture of the Mysterious Winged Thing seen swooping toward the camera in the last photo…
The curator has added some final pages of notes and advice…
You are to form the fourth expedition. Good luck and bon voyage!
Settings, in order:
1. THE MUSEUM and its archives. What can be learned here about the fossil plants and their two researchers? About Dr. Arnold Astrall’s father? About Dr. Arnold Astrall himself?
2. THE PORT HOTEL. What can be learned about the district from afar? Can the eccentric local-plant collector be recruited to the expedition?
3. THE TRADING POST. Rumour and local lore. Obtaining the missing photo(s). Persuading local guides to go.
4. THE FERTILE BELT. Its dangerous plant-flies and earth-rifts. Other dangerous plants may lurk. Or walk…
5. THE ANCIENT CITY. Are there relics to be found here of the rich young man’s mechanised expedition? Of Dr. Arnold Astrall’s father? What was the lure of the uplands, that apparently drew the young man away from the city?
6. THE WEIRD UPLANDS BEYOND THE CITY.
Suggested H.P. Lovecraft works for use as inspirational touchstones:
* The opening part of “Under the Pyramids”.
* “The Outpost” (poem).
* “Winged Death”.
* “The Evil Clergyman” (fragment).
* “The Nameless City” and “The Transition of Juan Romero”.
* Lovecraft’s plot details for “The House of the Worm”, re : flies.
* Lovecraft’s letter to his aunt Lillian, 1st July 1928…
“absolutely marvellous firefly display […] All agree that it was unprecedented, even for Wilbraham. Level fields & woodland aisles were alive with dancing lights, till all the night seemed one restless constellation of nervous witch-fire. They leaped in the meadows, & under the spectral old oaks at the bend of the road. They danced tumultuously in the swampy hollow, & held witches’ sabbaths beneath the gnarled, ancient trees of the orchard”. [Lovecraft went to bed afterwards, intending to dream the fireflies into…] “spectral torches, & about the lean brown marsh-things (invisible to mortal eyes) who wave & brandish them in the gloaming when the unseen nether world awakes”.
That’s it. My $5+ Patreon patrons get the 130Mb printable bundle for this! .ZIP file links have been sent via the Patreon message service to all my $5 or more Patrons. Links will also be sent to anyone signing up at or above that level, and making their first monthly payment.
A double-dose of postcarding goodness, this Friday. As well as the usual Friday ‘Picture Postal’, here’s a curious public domain postcard currently on eBay (not from me). It’s a macabre item from Newburyport, Mass., the real decaying shoreline town that was Lovecraft’s general model for Innsmouth. Of possible interest to role-players as a story-element in a scenario, as well as being a choice bit of Americana.
Regrettable it’s flashed on the right side. But here’s my Photoshop fix for that…
Camera flash-bounce / reflection-speckling on eBay vintage pictures can be covered up, if not entirely fixed, in Photoshop:
1. Make a layer copy, invert.
2. On the copy, loosely select the flash-speckled area with the Lasso tool. Feather selection by 33. Invert and delete unwanted area.
3. On this sort of image you can now use a knockout plugin (such as Primatte) to remove more or less everything except the flash-speckle (which is now very dark).
4. Experiment with the layer overlay mode to see what works best for your picture, in blending the dark speckles back over the top of the flash-speckled area.
5. Merge. Make a few light dabs with the Burn tool, to assist with the blending.
A further 1937 edition of the Amateur Correspondent has appeared on Archive.org. I had previously noted two others from 1937. This was, of course, the period of time in which news of Lovecraft’s death was slowly percolating through a fandom that was still decades away from being connected at hyper-speed by digital technologies. Amateur Correspondent, September-October 1937 has a page by R.W Sherman. He talks of the commentators who had formerly derided and shunned Lovecraft while alive — and yet on the master’s death seemed to have suddenly converted themselves into admirers.