Saturday, April 30, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.121: Frank Belknap Long Paperbacks

Following on from yesterday's post, today I present my small collection of Frank Belknap Long paperbacks, which include most of Long's contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos. The Horror from the Hills appears in the volume entitled Odd Science Fiction, which I was excited to discover at a paperback stall at Leeds University in 1988. This set me back £4.50, which was quite a chunk of change back then - as I recall a pint of beer in the student union was around 70p at that time. Given that I tend to use beer, mead, and (especially) cider as the general measure of value, based on today's London beer prices, the book would now cost close to £30, so there you go. The two Panther editions are notable for their Bruce Pennington covers, and are nice examples of the classic era of 1970s weird fiction paperback cover art. Tomorrow marks another landmark post in this series, and will be celebrated with the final part of a Frank Belknap Long trilogy of posts. Be seeing you.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Lovecaftian Thing a Day No.120: Belated Happy Birthday, Sonny!

What better way to celebrate (albeit belatedly) the 115th birthday of Frank Belknap Long - or 'Sonny' as HPL would refer to him - one of Lovecraft's close friends and author of today's item: Howard Phillips Lovecraft: Dreamer on the Nightside, Long's biography of his friendI've noted before that I don't own a vast number of Arkham House titles, but I am very pleased to have this as part of my collection.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.119: The Whole Wide World

The Whole Wide World probably ranks as one of the more remarkable 'Lovecraftian' films in that it stars Renee Zellweger (in an early, pre-A-list role), and the marvellous Vincent D'Onofrio (currently appearing on our screens as Kingpin in Daredevil) as Novalyne Price and Robert E. Howard in this adaptation of Price's autobiographical account of her friendship (and almost-romance) with Howard during the final years of his life. Both Zellweger and D'Onofrio shine in this touching and bittersweet biopic - although I just can't imagine anyone better to play Howard with the exact degree of socially-inept friendliness and occasional paranoiac-menace required of the role than D'Onofrio. And, whilst not strictly speaking 'Lovecraftian', Lovecraft nonetheless gets a mention.

I watch this film all too rarely as, frankly, I find the closing scenes absolutely heartbreaking - such that I am invariably reduced to a blubbering mess by the closing credits.

'All fled, all done, so lift me on the pyre;
The feast is over and the lamps expire.'

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.118: H.P. Lovecraft Commemorative Coin

This is a limited edition Lovecraft commemorative coin (with certificatevof authenticity!) which I received as a birthday present some years back. It has a nice image of Lovecraft's headstone on the flip side, although the portrait of Lovecaft that adorns the coin isn't that great. Regardless, it makes a nice little display piece.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Lovecaftian Thing a day No.117: The Necronomicon (again).

Just a quickie today: AntonisvAntoniades' Necronomicon appeared in the post this morning, and I am very excited to read it. That is all. We are approaching another benchmark post at the weekend, so expect more substantial content in the coming days.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a a Day No.116: The Tyson Necronomicon Tarot

I have something of an obsession with Cthulhu Mythos-themed tarot decks, even though the tarot (at least in its application as divinatory device) is about as far removed from the fatalistic underpinnings of the Mythos as is possible; like attempts to map the Mythos onto the Qabalistic Tree of Life, trying to get Lovecraft's creation to fit with the standard symbolism of the tarot also feels like trying to force a round peg into a square hole, and often ends up making far too many concessions to the rigid structures and stuffy traditionalism characteristic of much of Western esotericism for what should really be a wholly alien system of barely-comprehensible hyper-dimensional physics.

I do, of course, recognise that tarot cards have additional (non-divinatory) functions in the context of occult practice (particularly as aids to visualisation), where intersections with Mythos themes becomes, perhaps, more evident. Donald Tyson's Necronomicon tarot - a nice visual accompaniment to yesterday's entries - does, however, tend to fall into the more anthropocentric camp of modern Mythos decks; nonetheless its remains an interesting (and very nicely produced) contribution to the material culture of Lovecraftian occultism. I also like the inferred conceit that this set of tarot constitutes, in symbolic form, an actual Necronomicon. The cards also come in a rather attracrive presentation box, along with a helpful divinatory guide entitled Secrets of the Necronomicon, which informs the prospective neophyte that 'your readings will take on intensified power as you discover horrifying and loathsome figures of eldritch evil and unlock doors to the potent magic of the Old Ones'. Nice.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing A Day No.115: The Tyson Necronomicon

Of the commercially available Necronomicons, Donald Tysons volume of that name is another of my favourites. What is notable about this iteration of the dread tome is that it doesn't lay claim to being s 'genuine' Necronomicon, but is rather a fictionalised autobiographical account of Alhazred's writing of the volume, the narrative of which makes also up the content of the Necronomicon itself. In this respect, Tyson's Necronomicon also distinguishes itself from many of the others in being extremely well written! However, things become somewhat more convoluted in that Tyson has written this (and its accompanying volume Alhazred) from a genuinely occult perspective, as well as producing two other books (which I may detail in a later post) that develop these fictional works in a more practical, occult direction. (Indeed, this interweaving of the occult into fiction - and back again - is something which Phil Hine and myself sought to address in our recent talk on Lovecraftian occultures).

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.114: The Darkest Part of the Woods

Before his return to the Severn Valley in 2013's The Last Revelation of Gla'aki, Ramsey Campbell had undertaken one previous sojourn in Brichester and its environs in 2002's The Darkest Part of the Woods. On that occasion Mr. Campbell's destination was the ill-rumoured Goatswood, in something that was in part a mature re-imagining of one of his classic Cthulhu Mythos locales, as well as something which could broadly be treated as a kind of quasi-follow-up to The Case of Charles a Dexter Ward. In any case, this wouldn't be his final revisitation of Mythos themes before Gla'aki, and fortunately we are yet to be treated to another tour of the Severn Valley in Ramsey Campbell's forthcoming Daoloth trilogy. Nice.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.113: Mysteries of Time and Spirit

Whilst today's item was not the first collection of Lovecraft's letters that I owned (that honour goes to my set of the Selected Letters), it was the first that I read from cover to cover - possibly because it was the first volume I owned which placed Lovecraft's missives in the context of an actual correspondence. I also very much like the cover: whilst fairly minimalist, it manages to evoke a profound sense of awe and wonder. Oddly enough, my appreciation of a book's cover seems to correlate with my degree of enjoyment of its contents. Publishers take note.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.112: Ike Tane Amulet

I procured this rather grotesque amulet from the rather mysterious Dr. Prentiss during a certain convocation held at Providence some three years ago. The accompanying document indicates that the amulet is apotropaic in nature (also evidenced by the Eye in the Triangle and Elder Sign symbols carved into the belly of the thing), especially in regard to the Ike Tane - ichthyic humanoids which populate the mythology of the Maori people of New Zealand. I apologise for the murkiness of the image: despite multiple attempts at photographing the item in both a well-lit room and direct sunlight, this was the best result I was able to obtain.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.111: Austin Grossman's 'Crooked'

There are times when it seems as if we have pretty much reached peak Cthulhu, such that I feel on the verge of experiencing eldritch fatigue - but then a novel like Austin Grossman's Crooked comes along, and manages to revive my flagging libido for Lovecraftian and Cthulhuvian fiction. Having only just finished the book, I rate it so highly that I felt it deserved a place amongst the many other strange and fine Lovecraftian Things a Day - despite one particular qualification which I'll come to shortly.

I'm not much for giving reviews, even in capsule form, so I'll keep things as brief as I'm able: comprised of Richard Nixon's autobiographical account of the secret Lovecraftian foundations of the Cold War (as well as the origins of the United States' constitution), Crooked exemplifies exactly the kind of innovative take on the Lovecraftian milieu - here linking it to current fears and anxieties around the increasingly occulted nature of modern government and politics - needed to keep it fresh. Granted, there are definite comparisons to be made with Delta Green, Charles Stross's Laundry novels, as well as Tim Power's Declare; Crooked, however, ups the ante by putting the one-time President of the United States at the centre of things - and manages to present him in a sympathetic light to boot. The novel is also more Lovecratian, with clear nods to The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, than Mythos - although like Dexter Ward, the Cthulhu Mythos is so strongly implied here that its presence in and impact on the narrative is clearly evident. Stylistically, this is to the book's advantage. By avoiding the worn and often unimaginative expositions of Mythos lore that has been the bane of much Cthulhu Mythos fiction, its power becomes all the more horrifying and effective as a consequence of it being kept off stage.

As for the qualification, I only own Crooked in Kindle format (a fact not entirely unrelated to my incipient sense of eldritch fatigue, insofar as I have long abandoned any attempt at trying to collect every new volume of Cthulhu Mythos fiction in hardcopy); it thus constitutes the first digital Lovecraftian Thing a Day. Which, I supposed, might raise the question amongst the more philosophically-minded as to how one might position Crooked, ontologically-speaking, with regard to its 'thingness'. We at Ghooric Zone central are certainly disinclined to deny its object status, given as we are to dealing with entities, articles and other materials of questionable (not to say anomalous) corporeality, as well as those of an ontologically indeterminate character. In any case, I'm sure the speculative realists would have plenty to say regarding the human capacity to meaningfully qualifying the 'thingness' of a digital artefact, in which case I would recommend interrogating Graham Harman's Weird Realism if that kind of thing interests you!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing. a Day No.110: Nightgaunt! Nightgaunt! (Reprise)

This statue of a faceless, winged thing came into my possession in circumstances too tortuously complex to relate here, other than to say that the price of some things cannot be measured entirely in monetary terms. Needless to say, like many of the items in my collection, this possesses certain unique and peculiar properties, such that, every night before retiring, I have to ensure that the thing is  is covered with a square of black silk (specially procured -  during a certain forbidden necromantic and necrophagous rite I would rather not detail here - from the funerary garb from a corpse which was at least two centuries old), lest I dream of horrid journeyings in which I am borne by the wings of black, rubbery things across monstrous basalt peaks towards a beacon of horribly shining violet light.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.109: A Cryptic Talisman

Today’s item is a token the significance of which will be apparent only to fellow visitants of those catastrophic zones of umbral delight whose profound and horrifying secrets are communicated only in the soft murmur of ruinous dreams, in the dejected eulogies of dead stars, and through the monstrous ciphers hidden amongst the debris of long-decayed galaxies.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.108. International Joe Pulver Day?

So the internet is suddenly afire about this Joe Pulver character, such that it seems like someone has unofficially announced an international Joe Pulver day. Well, being no slouches, we at the Ghooric Zone want to broadcast the fact that we were early adopters of the whole Pulver thing with today's entry - Mr. Joseph Pulver's excellent first novel of Lovecraftian horror, Nightmare's Disciple, which I understand Mike Davis over at the Lovecraft ezine plans to republish in the not too distant future.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.107: Rainfall Chapbooks by Steve Lines

The Lovecraftian fanzine scene - along with fanzines more generally - appears to be undergoing something of a resurgence of late. However, the end of the likes of Dagon and The Crypt of Ctuulhu - along with the disappearance of various Necronomicon Press titles - in the 1990s and early 2000s, meant there was a long fallow period as far as hardcopy fan-based Lovecraftian content was concerned. That said, in the UK Steve Lines' Rainfall Books has kept the hone fires burning, having producing a wide range of Lovecraftian and weird fiction/art chapbooks since the early 2000s, many including covers and illustrations by Mr. Lines himself. Today I present a couple of chapbooks from my collection, showcasing said Lovecraftian art.

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.106: Lovecraft Portait by Jim Pitts

I knew this was liable to happen at some point: I've been working late and just realised I've missed the deadline for the Lovecraftian Thing a Day for Friday 15th April (it's currently 12.55 am on the 16th April, so I've only missed it by 55 minutes; also, I haven't yet gone to bed, so it's still Friday as far as I'm concerned. In any case, it's still 15th April somewhere in the world, and we at Ghooric Zone central aren't ones to let mere snthropocentric concepts of time and space get in our way). Anyway, you can expect a doubl dose of Lovecraftian Thingness on the 16th as catch-up - but for now I present this very fine framed print of HPL by Mr. Jim Pitts.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.105: The Ancient Track

My first proper encounter with Lovecraft's poetry was via the Necronomicon Press edition of The Fungi from Yuggoth (purchased from Peterborough's 'The House on the Borderland') which I consider to be a superb distillate of the key themes of Lovecraft's weird cosmicism - indeed, it comes close to being my most favourite of Lovecraft's work. I had intended to present that edition as part of this series, except for the small matter of currently not being able to find my copy...

In the interim, one could do far worse than present as an alternative Hippocampus Press' very fine second edition of The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H.P. Lovecraft, which of course contains Lovecaft famous weird sonnet cycle, along with a plethora of other weird poetry.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.104: Dark Grimoire Tarot

Today for your delectation and delight I present yet another of my Lovecraftian occultural artefacts: The Dark Grimoire Tarot. The card illustrations are rather nice, and the backs of the cards depict Lovecraft grasping what is presumably the Necronomicon. Nice.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.103: Primitive Cthulhu by Dave Carson

This item was forwarded to me by Mr. Dave Carson - an artist who dwells near an ill-regarded town on the South coast of England. Mr. Carson informs me that whilst this is the work of his own hands, it is based nonetheless on a wall carving - apparently of remarkable antiquity - which he discovered whilst searching for fossils in a certain sea cave overlooking the English Channel (the location of which, quite rightly, Mr. Carson refuses to disclose).

Soon after the completion of the piece, Mr. Carson apparently received a visit from an enquirer of peculiar and unpleasant demeanour (possessing, I am told, repellently bulbous eyes) who insisted he be allowed to purchase the item for a paltry sum - despite the fact that the artist had not up to that point informed anyone of its existence. I have now secured the object behind the proper warding, so hopefully this will be the end of the matter. That said, I did spy a rather ungainly fellow loitering at the street corner near my apartments as I returned home this evening...

Monday, April 11, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.102: The Blasphemous Tome

Well, the British postal system is certainly proving helpful with content at the moment - on arriving home this evening I found an envelope awaiting me containing this: the first issue of The Blasphemous Tome, a new Lovecraftian fanzine. Produced by The Good Friends of Jackson Elias (an excellent Lovecraft/Call of Cthulhu rpg podcast), The Blasphemous Tome harkens back to the heady pre-Internet days of Dagon and early issues of The Unspeakable Oath - as well as various of the Necronomicon Press publications - when fanzines were pretty much the connective tissue of the Lovecraft scene. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but it does look very, very good - and whilst there appears to be s solid Call of Cthulhu rpg focus, The Blasphemous Tome also looks to contain Lovecraftian film and book reviews - as well as a helpful guide to beard care for the hirsute! Unfortunately, it looks like the zine is limited to 100 copies and is only being made available to Patreon supporters of The Good Friends of Jackson Elias.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.101: Lovecraft Birthplace Memorial Swag.

On returning home yesterday evening, I was pleased to find an envelope from NecronomiCon Arts and Sciencs containing swag from the Kickstarter they ran a while back. This was for the purpose of funding a memorial at the prior location of 454 Angell Street, Providence - Lovecraft's birthplace. There was a placeholder there during NecronomiCon 2015, but it will be great to see the real thing when I return to Providence in 2017. Pictured here are a commemorative sticker and bookmark displaying the memorial that I received as a backer of the project.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.100: The Legrasse Idol

With our centenary post, today we celebrate another landmark in the Lovecraftian Thing a Day series with what is undoubtedly our favourite Cthulhu statuette. Sculpted by the immensely talented Joe Broers, this version of Cthulhu is based on Lovecraft's own sketch of the Legrasse idol from The Call of Cthulhu. I picked this up from Joe whilst visiting NecronomiCon 2013, where I also had the opportunity to take a photo of the original Lovecaft sketch.

On a different note, the Lovecraftian Thing a Day series was, as I have previously stated, meant as something of a placeholder for more substantial content regarding things weird and Lovecraftian; evidently, that is yet to happen! Indeed, the LTaD series has taken on a life of its own, and I have some ideas about developing it into a more cohrerent and extended project in 2017. However, with the 100th post, I am going to try to commit to posting additional non-LTaD material at least twice monthly, if not weekly - so hopefully you can expect something different from (though in addition to) the Lovecraftian Thing a Day next week. Be seeing you!

Friday, April 08, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.99: Idol of Yog Sothoth.

This strange idol - along with a mysterious manuscript - was sent to me anonymously a few months ago. The manuscript purports to be a translation of episodes from a hitherto unknown autobiographical work by the infamous sorcerer and author of the Necronomicon, Abd Al-Azrad, and describes this very object (which is composed of some kind of metallic resin material) as an representation of the Lurker at the Threshold, Yog Sothoth. Like many other items in my collection, this displays some very curious properties - the foremost of which being that any small items placed in close proximity to it disappear unaccountably. Needless to say, after losing a few choice pieces as a result, the idol has since been displayed apart from the rest of my collection.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.98: Elder Sign

It's been a while since I posted anything gaming-related, so today's offering is one of my current favourites from the world of Lovecraftian-themed games: Elder Sign by Fantasy Flight Games, which effectively replicates their larger and more unwieldy Arkham Horror boardgame in a card-based format. Elder Sign has a fairly simple ruleset, but manages to recreate the tension and 'adventure game' feel of its larger cousin, but in about a quarter of the time. Nice.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.97: in a Foreign Town, In a Foreign Land.

After picking up David Keenan’s England’s Hidden Reverse yesterday, I was inspired to turn my attention to a relevant piece from my collection: The collaborative In a Foreign Town, In A Foreign Land which includes a booklet offour stories by Thomas Ligotti accompanied by a CD of four tracks by Current 93. The collection contains what is, for me, another choice Ligotti tale, ‘His Shadow Shall Rise to a Higher House’ in which one Mr. Ascrobius seeks not only to end his existence, but to utterly 'uncreate' it from realities both material and numinous – with (unsurprisingly) monstrous results.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing A Day No.96: Russell's Guide to Interdimensional Entities

Whilst perusing various of London's fine book emporiums earlier today (primarily with the intention of picking up a number of academic texts), I ended up purchasing this item: Russell's Guide to Inte dimensional Entities - a recent (2015) collection of Cthulhu Mythos art which largely follows the format of the earlier Sandy Petersen Guides, which I've documented previously. As regular readers now, I have a particular penchant for Lovecraftian art, and this makes for a very fine addition to my collection.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing A Day No.95: The Dark Gods

Something of a key book in the Lovecraftian paranormalist/occulture genre, Roberts and Gilbertson tie Keelian ultraterrestrialism and the Men in Black with Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos (replete with dodgy Lovecraftian orientalisms) to weave a strange conspiratorial narrative in which the Great Old Ones literally want to eat our souls (neatly updated re: Nick Redfern's recent efforts in this direction in his The Final Events). I discovered only yesterday that Roberts and Gilbertson tie all this in with the work of Gray Barker and Alfred Bender - disappointingly, I thought that I had made the connections between Bender, Barker and Lovecraft independently, but obviously must have picked up on the idea from this book - oh well!

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing A Day No.94: A Confabulation of Necronomicons

Today I present The Necronomicon and its 'sequel', The R'lyeh Text, edited respectively by George Hay and Robert Turner, and published by Skoob Books. In fact, the Hay Necronomicon was initially published in 1978 by (yet again) Neville Spearman, the edition that found its way into my local public library - and the reason why I include it as part of this series. Both books are notable for some of the rather interesting essays they also include.

Of all of the fake Necronomicons, for me these two volumes are the ones that come closest to the 'feel' of an actual Necronomicon; even so, they ultimately fall short of what one might anticipate from the real deal - at least if the actual Necronomicon that I have hidden in my collection is anything to go by....

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing A Day No.93: Hecate's Fountain

Given the occult tenor of my week - and the fact that this is the 93rd posting of this series - today I return to the work of Kenneth Grant with Hecate's Fountain. This is probably my favourite of the Typhonian Trilogies; it is also one of Grant's more autobiographical entries into the series, documenting as it does the various Cthulhuvian-inflected ritual activities of the Nu-Isis Lodge during the 1950s and 60s. Inevitably, many of these rituals precipitate all kinds of Lovecraftian bizarrerie, including the manifestation of weird entities, strange disappearances, and mysterious deaths - to the degree that Hecate's Fountain reads almost as it were a novel of the Cthulhu Mythos. In this so regard the volume certainly embodies Grant's notion of 'creative occultism', such that the rapidly derationalizing blending of fact and fiction within the author's own unique writing style threatens to produce a dizzying derangement of the senses. As a consequence Hecate's Fountain - much like Ligotti's occult tome Vastarian - operates less as a means of signification than as the signified itself (and thanks to Phil Hine for pointing me in the direction of this idea during a recent discussion).

Friday, April 01, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing A Day No.92: Romanesque Cthulhu Cult Ritual Dagger

This item came up in discussion following a lecture on Cthulhu worship in the modern world, hosted by a certain esoteric society in London only yesterday evening: a ritual knife, supposedly used by the Cthulhu cult, and of apparently Romanesque design. The artefact's most recent owner, Prof. Joe Broers of Miskatonic University's Department of Antiquities, forwarded the item with a caution to handle it with utmost care: a number of prior owners have been found in a state of extreme and incurable mental derangement, having used the blade to carve monstrous designs into their living flesh. There is also a slight reddish stain on the blade which always returns despite the fact that it has been easily removed many times by a modicum of cleaning. Prior to Prof. Broers acquisition of the dagger, it was found in the hand of a notorious cult leader, who had apparently used it to cut his own throat.