athelind: (hoard potato)
Everyone has their quirks and aesthetic preferences, and I always strive not to, as they say, "yuck someone else's yum" -- but I must admit to a recurrent artistic theme in fan art that unsettles me. This is not to assert that artists and fans should avoid this theme, but, rather, to excuse myself in advance if my absence, lack of response, or sudden, shrieking departure might demand explanation.

I must confess that as a small child, I was deeply disturbed by the creepy surrealism of old cartoons of the "rubber hose and black bean nose" era -- the Fleischer Brothers were notorious repeat offenders, but the studios of Messrs. Disney, Warner, Goldwyn, et al., were by no means innocent. That style of art and animation has never been "cute" in my eyes; in fact, it is indelibly associated with a queasy frisson of eldritch horror that even the works of Mr. Lovecraft only seldom elicit.

As a result, when Sonic the Hedgehog resurrected the "rubber hose and black bean nose" style in 1991, my stomach lurched.

Thus, when I am browsing the various art sites I frequent and see Sonic-based art ... I never click the thumbnail. When, in my wanderings around the tawdry wastelands of Second Life, I happen across some hapless individual wearing an avatar in the Sonic style ... I go the other way. Very quickly.

It is, I assert, no reflection on the quality of either the art or the individual. It is wholly the style itself.

It is not so much an "Uncanny Valley" as an Unholy Abyss.


Oddly, the faux-retro stylings of the Animaniacs and their ilk don't disturb me at all. Despite their superficial resemblance to the antediluvian antecedents of animation's Golden Age, Yakko, Wakko, and Dot are proportioned, rigged, and animated in the modern fashion.
athelind: (Yog-Sothery)
A week or so ago, I finally got a proper eBook reader: a waterproofed Kindle Paperwhite from WaterFi.

Being an aficionado of older literature ... and cheap ... one of the first things I did was to download a number of things from Project Gutenberg, including several by Robert W. Chambers, author of The King in Yellow.

I am currently reading In Search of the Unknown, which is about a Zoologist from the Bronx Zoo c. 1900 (when the Zoo was at the forefront of zoological research), who keeps getting pulled into encounters with supposedly-extinct animals and outright cryptids.

It is … really surprisingly funny. The first story is pretty much an encounter with a Deep One, but even as the creature shuffles and flails onto their boat accompanied by every eldritch adjective one would expect from the man who gave us lost Carcosa, our eternally upbeat protagonist is still more focused on his banter with the cranky old invalid he’s befriended, and his flirtations with the old man’s pretty young nurse.

Imagine, if you will, P.G. Wodehouse writing H.P. Lovecraft. The unnamed, girl-crazy protagonist has been firmly cast in my head as Hugh Laurie.


athelind: (Yog-Sothery)
[livejournal.com profile] paka made an interesting post about elements of the horror genre turning up in an otherwise ISO Standard Fantasy Setting.

This is a subject with which Your Obedient Serpent has some experience.

More often than not, if a group sits down to play a horror game, it doesn't quite click.

It's when horror elements crop up in other genres that you get that frisson of unease, the shivers up your spine, the hairs raising on your arm.

Stephen King knows why, and spells it out in his classic essay, "On Writing": the essence of horror is contrast. If you're expecting vampires or tentacles monstrosities, they won't hold quite the same terror as if you stumble upon them after a wrong turn in the dark.

Any game of mine that runs more than three sessions will eventually become a horror game, whether I want it to or not. The tropes are just too easy to tap. If I actually set out to run Call of Cthulhu or a game of that ilk, though, it would probably veer off into Monty Python Meets Scream territory.


Potpourri

Jul. 9th, 2010 01:24 pm
athelind: (Eye of the Sky God)

Snappy Answers To Cryptic Questions



[livejournal.com profile] athelind: HAVE YOU SEEN THE YELLOW SIGN?
[livejournal.com profile] jdarkwulf: Yield?


Yeah, I know, "Yield" signs aren't yellow anymore, but I still laughed.


The Spirit of Radio



I've been having increasing trouble keeping my little stereo tuned to my preferred radio station of late. It's an analogue-dial physical tuner rather than a nice digital gizmo, and, of course, I have the perennial dilemma that my own body acts as an antenna. I can get it crystal-clear, so long as I keep my hand on it; as soon as I move away, it devolves into static.

Note that it was fine up until a few weeks ago. There was a bit of channel drift, and I would sometimes have to tweak it from morning to evening, but I could get it steady on the station with no problem.

Last night, I was driving a co-worker home, so I flipped my car radio over to the classical station, since that's better background for conversation than my usual Classic Rock.

Nothin' but static.

What the hell, thought Your Obedient Serpent. Is there something about summer that screws up radio reception?

Dot. Dot. Dot.

Right. We're pointing at the Sun. Auroras. That sort of thing.

Oddly, the Sun seems kind of quiet right now, near as I can tell from spaceweather.com. We're at a Sunspot Minimum right now. There's an active region that's been pointing away from Earth, though it's swinging in our general direction.

Anyone else having radio issues? I know most of you don't even listen to radios in the car anymore, much less while sitting at your computavational intertube omnitainment terminals, but I'm interested in hearing if the tuned-in minority are having static and channel drift like I am.


athelind: (food)
Last night, Your Obedient Serpent and his family had yummy, yummy BLTs for dinner.

During the night, this combined alchemically in my stomach with my acid reflux.

I am now having Bacon Reflux. This was my alarm clock, awakening me after five hours of sleep.

Bacon does not make everything better.

Oorlp.

athelind: (Default)
Last night, Your Obedient Serpent and his family had yummy, yummy BLTs for dinner.

During the night, this combined alchemically in my stomach with my acid reflux.

I am now having Bacon Reflux. This was my alarm clock, awakening me after five hours of sleep.

Bacon does not make everything better.

Oorlp.

athelind: (hoard potato)
Remember my post about the Real-Life Arkham Asylum, in Danvers, Massachusetts, which was being turned into luxury condominiums?

Well, last week's issue of Batman Confidential was the final chapter in Yet Another Retelling of the Dark Knight's first encounter with the Joker -- or rather, in this case, what happened after the Joker was in police custody. After causing multiple deaths while in custody, under guard, and in chains, including the death of at least one judge, the authorities were at a loss with what to do with this pasty-skinned sociopath. They couldn't put him in with the mainstream prison population, and they couldn't remand him to conventional psychiatric care.

As Gordon and the D.A. (a pre-acid Harvey Dent, I believe) were having this conversation, a television in the background showed a news story about a certain old hospital being converted into condominiums.

One of them says, in disbelief, "Can you believe this? Didn't they used to experiment on patients there? Who the hell would want to live there?"

On the next page, it's announced that the state has used eminent domain to reclaim the property, which was going to become a special facility for extremely dangerous psychiatric cases.

athelind: (Default)
Remember my post about the Real-Life Arkham Asylum, in Danvers, Massachusetts, which was being turned into luxury condominiums?

Well, last week's issue of Batman Confidential was the final chapter in Yet Another Retelling of the Dark Knight's first encounter with the Joker -- or rather, in this case, what happened after the Joker was in police custody. After causing multiple deaths while in custody, under guard, and in chains, including the death of at least one judge, the authorities were at a loss with what to do with this pasty-skinned sociopath. They couldn't put him in with the mainstream prison population, and they couldn't remand him to conventional psychiatric care.

As Gordon and the D.A. (a pre-acid Harvey Dent, I believe) were having this conversation, a television in the background showed a news story about a certain old hospital being converted into condominiums.

One of them says, in disbelief, "Can you believe this? Didn't they used to experiment on patients there? Who the hell would want to live there?"

On the next page, it's announced that the state has used eminent domain to reclaim the property, which was going to become a special facility for extremely dangerous psychiatric cases.

athelind: (Eye of Agammotto)

Archaeologists Find Mayan Hell; Provide Plot of Mummy IV



It's like some kind of pulp adventure tale: deep in the Yucatan jungles, there's a flooded cave complex that the Mayans believed was the entrance to the Afterlife, Xibalba. Scuba divers have, slowly and carefully, explored the caverns and found vast, air-filled chambers filled with temples.

This is right out of Call of Cthulhu -- and I don't mean that in a good way. I mean that in a "Do Not Call Up What You Cannot Put Down" way.

It's cool, yes... but pretty damned creepy. I mean, we're talkin' LifeGems level creepy. The Mayan afterlife is not a happy place; "Xibalba" means "Place of Fear".

We're talking Hell itself, people. They've found Hell. This is not the start of any happy movie; Brendan Fraser wisecracks are the best we can look forward to here.

If I were given to Omens and Revelations....

EDIT: [livejournal.com profile] halfelf reminded me that the Mayan calendar ends in 2012!

Okay, now I'm really creeped out.

Found via BoingBoing.
Coincidentally, I spent the morning reading pages at http://www.xibalba.demon.co.uk/ -- also found via BoingBoing.

athelind: (Default)

Archaeologists Find Mayan Hell; Provide Plot of Mummy IV



It's like some kind of pulp adventure tale: deep in the Yucatan jungles, there's a flooded cave complex that the Mayans believed was the entrance to the Afterlife, Xibalba. Scuba divers have, slowly and carefully, explored the caverns and found vast, air-filled chambers filled with temples.

This is right out of Call of Cthulhu -- and I don't mean that in a good way. I mean that in a "Do Not Call Up What You Cannot Put Down" way.

It's cool, yes... but pretty damned creepy. I mean, we're talkin' LifeGems level creepy. The Mayan afterlife is not a happy place; "Xibalba" means "Place of Fear".

We're talking Hell itself, people. They've found Hell. This is not the start of any happy movie; Brendan Fraser wisecracks are the best we can look forward to here.

If I were given to Omens and Revelations....

EDIT: [livejournal.com profile] halfelf reminded me that the Mayan calendar ends in 2012!

Okay, now I'm really creeped out.

Found via BoingBoing.
Coincidentally, I spent the morning reading pages at http://www.xibalba.demon.co.uk/ -- also found via BoingBoing.

athelind: (big ideas)
Okay, now, this is one for the list of Places To Go Because Of Their Literary Connections:

The Avalon Danvers Apartments in Danvers, MA.

What the Avalon web site doesn't mention is that this lovely, mid-19th Century "castle" used to be Danvers State Hospital, a mental institution. Originally built to be a pleasant, peaceful setting to help treat the mentally-ill degenerated over the years into an overcrowded bedlam, complete with lobotomies, electroshock treatments, and cemetaries with numbered graves. It was also the setting of Session 9, a horror movie I now have to hunt down.

The blogger who was so cheerfully disturbed by the graveyard and the movie also failed to mention a few delightful facts about this place:
  • It sits on Hathorne Hill, where once stood the residence of one John Hathorne, the "hanging judge" of the Salem Witch Trials.
  • Danvers, you see, was once known as "Salem Village" (to distinguish it from nearby "Salem Town") -- and much of the drama of said trials played out right there.
  • Danvers was mentioned several times in the works of H.P. Lovecraft, both by its real name and as "Arkham Sanitarium".
  • HPL's "Arkham Sanitarium", in turn, inspired Denny O'Neill to incorporate "Arkham Asylum" into the Batman Mythos.

That's right, kids. Live near Boston? You can rent an apartment or buy a condo in Arkham Frakkin' Asylum!

I am so using this in the Legacy 2020 game. Asylum full of lunatic supervillains? Overused to the point of tedium. Yuppie condos built on the former site of an asylum full of lunatic supervillains?

Creeeeeeeepy.

athelind: (Default)
Okay, now, this is one for the list of Places To Go Because Of Their Literary Connections:

The Avalon Danvers Apartments in Danvers, MA.

What the Avalon web site doesn't mention is that this lovely, mid-19th Century "castle" used to be Danvers State Hospital, a mental institution. Originally built to be a pleasant, peaceful setting to help treat the mentally-ill degenerated over the years into an overcrowded bedlam, complete with lobotomies, electroshock treatments, and cemetaries with numbered graves. It was also the setting of Session 9, a horror movie I now have to hunt down.

The blogger who was so cheerfully disturbed by the graveyard and the movie also failed to mention a few delightful facts about this place:
  • It sits on Hathorne Hill, where once stood the residence of one John Hathorne, the "hanging judge" of the Salem Witch Trials.
  • Danvers, you see, was once known as "Salem Village" (to distinguish it from nearby "Salem Town") -- and much of the drama of said trials played out right there.
  • Danvers was mentioned several times in the works of H.P. Lovecraft, both by its real name and as "Arkham Sanitarium".
  • HPL's "Arkham Sanitarium", in turn, inspired Denny O'Neill to incorporate "Arkham Asylum" into the Batman Mythos.

That's right, kids. Live near Boston? You can rent an apartment or buy a condo in Arkham Frakkin' Asylum!

I am so using this in the Legacy 2020 game. Asylum full of lunatic supervillains? Overused to the point of tedium. Yuppie condos built on the former site of an asylum full of lunatic supervillains?

Creeeeeeeepy.

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