Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Llvecraftian Thing a Day No.335: Tentacles Across Time

I'm currently finishing a piece on Lovecraftian esotericism, and am about to revisit Colin Wilson's 'Tentacles Across Time' from this issue of Skoob Esoterica Review as one of my final pieces of research. As I recall, Wilson offers here a revised variant of the claim that Lovecraft was unconsciously channelling the Great Old Ones. Given Wilson's involvement with the spurios George Hay Necronomicon, it's unclear as to whether he meant this piece to be taken seriously - although given the stage he had reached in his career and thinking at this point in time, I suspect that he did.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.334: Smoking Cap

Not Lovecraftian strickly speaking, but this hand-made smoking cap was gifted to me by purveyor of arts Lovecraftian, Joe Broers. Joe and I were, in fact, photographed at the Eldritch Ball at NecronomiCon 2015 (by conference organiser Niels Hobbs, as I recall) as part of a line-up of resident convention fez and smoking-cap wearers. Good times.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.333: Oculus Bibliomantic Bookmark

The oculus is a leather bookmark stamped with a tentacular design (which I'm treating here as minimally qualifying it as a 'Lovecraftian' artefact), and which includes a small magnifying glass in its centre for use in (presumably Lovecraftian) bibliomancy - the idea being that you randomly place the bookmark on a page of text with a view to divining some kind of occult significance from the word upon which the viewing glass alights. Well I've just tried it using my Arkham House copy of At the Mountains of Madness and all I got was 'surmises', which frankly is a bit rubbish. Time to call out occult tech support - it looks like my oculus is broken!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day no.332: Arkham Horror Accessories

Today we present some badly-photographed acrylic accessories for Fantasy Flight Games' Arkham Horror/Eldritch Horror boardgame series, including green tentacle-shaped stands for investigator and monster tokens, as well as tentacle-styled stands for open gates, which also hold blue acrylic Elder Signs to denote permanently sealed gates in those games. These are all produced by Litko, which I now see produce even more pimpage for FFG's Cthulhu Mythos series of games; doubtless this will lead to additional purchases of unneccessary gaming paraphenalia in the run up to the Yule festival...

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.331; Lovecraftesque

More futile gaming purchases in today's offering as we digitally thumb through Lovecraftesque - a new GM-less storytelling rpg of Lovecraftian horror. It being GM-less, I'm wondering if it can be repurposed as some sort solitaire Lovecraftian rpg (me being far too curmudgeonly to engage with other gamers). Probably not. Besides, it also announces itself as a game without Deep Ones, Mi-Go, or any of the standard Mythos tropes - which presumably means the authors of the game have some warped expectation that gamers are going to actually make use of their imaginations. Which, frankly, is just crazy talk.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.330: Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Dice

Not satisfied with possessing at least 60 themed Lovecraftian dice, today I picked up a new set of polyhedral bones for the 7th Edition of the Call of Cthulhu rpg. Why? Because they have a different design to that found on the 6th ed. dice. Obviously. And now of course I'll need to get a dice bag to go with them, just so I gave a means of transporting them those games that I never actually play. Added to which, these sets only come with a single d6, which means if I want the standard 3D6 (or my preferred 6D6) for when I don't play, I will have to buy another couple of sets (annoyingly Q Workshop, who produce these, no longer sell the dice individually). Grrr.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.329: The Gentleman From Angell Street

It has been a long time since I last read The Gentleman From Angell Street by Lovecraft's friends and fellow Providence residents, Muriel and C.M. Eddy. I remember it as poignant, and very good. However, this volume is more significant to me as a memento of my very first visit to Providence in 2001, bought from the Brown University Bookstore on Thayer Street (just off Angell Street) in Lovecraft's beloved College Hill. Good times.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.328: Horror on the Orient Express Polyhedral Dice

It is probably obvious by now that I'm a big fan of gaming paraphenalia, even though I'm now pretty much only an occasional solitaire gamer. Even so, there is something about having themed dice, playmats, and the like that facilitates my immersion into a game - even moreso when said game deals with Lovecraftian subject matter. And sometimes I buy stuff because I'm a completist and I like shiny things. Today's offering being a case in point. Having purchased the new edition of the massive and weighty Horror on the Orient Express campaign for the Call of Cthulhu rpg, and its dedicated Keeper's Screen - despite the fact that I'm never likely to play or gm the campaign - I've now gone and done the sensible thing of picking up a set of themed set of dice...

The dice are, if nothing else, very pretty, with a strangely ornate purple-on-black design - although for the life of me I can't work out how this is related to the campaign content. Regardless, maybe one day I'll get to use them when some enterprising soul decides to do a solitaire conversion of Horror on the Orient Express. We can but dream.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.327: The Cthulhu Campaigns - Ancient Rome

Osprey - best known for their books on historical warfare - have in recent years moved into producing wargaming rules as well a rather interesting category of alternative history warfare tomes, including this: The Cthulhu Campaigns:Ancient Rome. Apparently everything you know about ancient Rome is wrong and, not to put too fine a point on it (and to purposely misquote a popular internet meme), I'm not saying it was Cthulhu. But it was Cthulhu. Yes, the birth of Rome (and its subsequent history) is built on the worship of Cthulhu - but hey, that's alternative history for you. That said, this is a cracking read, with some lovely illustrations - and probably a useful resource for those of you into Chaosium's Cthulhu Invictus setting for the Call of Cthulhu rpg.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.326: Arkham Horror Playmat

The Arkham Horror: The Card Game pimpage continues with this goregeous playmat by Fantasy Flight Games which arrived in the post today. Nice.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.325: Tentacle Dice Bag of Doom

I'm in the process of pimping my copy of Arkham Horror: The Card Game and, to that end, this arrived in the post yesterday: a dice bag with a tentacle motif from Fantasy Flight Games. Arkham Horror requires a receptacle from which to draw random 'chaos tokens' (usually to annoyingly negative effect) during various points in the game and, aesthetically-speaking, this seemed fit for purpose. I hereby designate the honorific of 'tentacle dice bag of doom' to today's item.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.324: The Brotherhood of the Beast

Today's offering is the HPLHS' latest release, The Brotherhood of the Beast. Whilst the HPLHS' previous audiodramas have been adaptations of Lovecraft tales, this marks something of a departure from the norm in being a dramatisation a classic Call of Cthulhu rpg scenario (in point of fact, the last CoC campaign I participated in). The HPLHS cd releases of their audiodramas are notable for the inclusion of some very nicely-crafted prop documents; on this occasion I've had to settle for the downloadable audio files, but I'm sorely tempted by the deluxe cd edition of The Brotherhood of the Beast, which comes jam-packed with a huge amount of prop material in its own travel bag. Nice.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.323: The Republic of Cthulhu

Eric Wilson's The Republic of Cthulhu (published by Punctum Books) arrived in today's post, and is a volume I've been interested in ever since I heard about it a few months back - doubly so because at NecronomiCon 2015 I presented a paper on 'Lovecraftian Parapolitics', which is the focus of this book. At the time I was aware that Wilson had written on parapolitics (conspiracy theory, for want of a better term), but I had no idea he was going to be linking his work in that area to Lovecraft. In actuality I've use the term 'parapolitics' somewhat differently to Wilson - but nontheless there seem to be some intriguing convergences with my own interests here, so I'm very much looking forward to reading this.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.322: Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos

I've mentioned previously that I don't have an extensive collection of Arkham House volumes; however, earlier on in my time as a collector I identified this revised edition of Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, illustrated by J.K. Potter (and including two of his now-classic portraits of Lovecraft, both shown above), as a must have - primarily because I had heard such wonderful things about Richard Lupoff's 'The Discovery of the Ghooric Zone' (a new addition to the contents of this verson of Tales which remains one of my all-time favourite Mythos stories). Unfortunately this was published in that now-legendary pre-internet epoch (1990 to be precise), and it took me a few years to lay my hands on a copy (this is one of the second printings). I still recall the thrill of finding it (in London's Forbidden Planet) to this day. For me, there is probably no other volume in my collection that resonates aesthetically with the same profound sense of awe, wonder and weird cosmicism than this.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.321: Cuttlehead Cthulhu

 I procured this fine cuttlefish-headed idol from Joe Broers during NecronomiCon 2013. Not only is Joe an artist of prodigiously monstrous talent, but this remains one of my favourite representations of the dread Cthulhu due to its mininimally-anthropomorphic character. Nice work, Joe.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.320: The Miskatonic University Podcast

Today we present another digital offering by way of the Miskatonic University Podcast. Offering up-to- date discussion of developments in the world of Call of Cthulhu roleplaying, the MUP is a regular listen for us at the Ghooric Zone - in addition to which the blog gets a mention in the latest episode (although the interview with Chris Spivey is better reason for giving it a listen). Nice episode ident also - Lovecraft would not have approved!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.319: Dark Adventure Radio Theatre CD Box

This was the first version of the Dark Adventure Radio Theatre CD box produced by the HPLHS for their Lovecraftian audio dramas, done in the style of an old fashioned wireless which nicely compliments the old-time radio feel of the audio plays. The number of CDs which the HPLHS have now produced has outstripped the capacity of this box - which might be cause for me to pick up another one at NecronomiCon next year.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.318: Lovecraft Portrait Print

Just a quick post today: this is a colourised print which I picked up from Lovecraftian artist Allen Kozkowski when I was at NecronomiCon 2013, where we had a very nice chat about his experiences of the British convention scene back in the 80s - 90s.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.317: The Faceless God

Thomas Vincente's The Faceless God - in the standard edition of this talismanic book by Theion Publishing - came in the post today. While I've yet to read it, The Faceless God offers an exploration and interpretation of Lovecraft's Nyarlathotep from an esoteric perspective. I have to say that this was very timely, as I'm currently in the process of writing an extended entry on Lovecraftian magic for an academic dictionary of contemporary esotericism, and this will be useful for one of the final sections concerning developments in the field since the 2010s. On a related point, Theion have also published weird author Richard Gavin's occult exegesis of Left-Hand Path theory and practice, The Benighted Path; whilst, historically, Lovecraftian esotericism has (obviously) been informed by the literature of the weird, a number of contemporary weird authors such as Richard Gavin and Scott R. Jones (both of who I was priviledged to share a panel with at NecronomiCon 2015) are not only feeding contemporay esoteric ideas into weird fiction (see Scott's excellent Cthulhusattva anthology as an example of this), but are also producing Lovecraft-inflected esoteric writings which self-consciously reflect on the relationship between the Lovecraftian weird and modern trajectories of the occult.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.316: Vathek

It is somewhat apposite that earlier this week I finished reading William Beckford's Vathek - one of Lovecraft's favourite Gothic novelsabout a popular, yet murderous, egotistical, and despotic potentate who is both misogynistic and something of a sexual predator. Throwing his lot in with the powers of darkness, we might take some solace from the fact that things end very badly for our eponymous protagonist.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.315: Arkham Horror - The Card Game

I picked up the new co-operative/solitaire Arkham Horror card game today. Apparently the game is very good, with a strong rpg element. Something to play in the ruins, then.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.314: Nyarlathotep

The only thing that seems appropriate right now. Nyarlathotep (by Jason McKittrick of Cryptocurium) - the Crawling Chaos, and Herald of the End Times:

'And at the last from inner Egypt came
The strange dark One to whom the fellahs bowed;
Silent and lean and cryptically proud,
And wrapped in fabrics red as sunset flame.
Throngs pressed around, frantic for his commands,
But leaving, could not tell what they had heard;
While through the nations spread the awestruck word
That wild beasts followed him and licked his hands.

Soon from the sea a noxious birth began;
Forgotten lands with weedy spires of gold;
The ground was cleft, and mad auroras rolled
Down the quaking citadels of man.
Then, crushing what he chanced to mould in play,
The idiot Chaos blew Earth's dust away.'

Sonnet XXI, 'Nyarlathotep' from H.P. Lovecraft's Fungi from Yuggoth.

Good night, and good luck.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.313: Tentacular Card Box

Today's offering is a Cthulhuvian stamped-leather card box which I purchased from Dan Baines of the Lebanon Circle. The box holds a standard deck of playing cards - sadly not quite large enough to hold a typical deck of Tarot cards, otherwise I'd use it for storing one of my sets of Lovecraftian Tarot. Even so, this is a rather nice addition to my collection of Lovecraftian ephemera.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.312: Graveyard Ghoul

This is an original pen-and-ink drawing by Steve Lines of Rainfall Books. I'm pretty certain it has appeared in one of Rainfall Books' chapbooks, but I'm unsure of the title so have refered to it simply as 'Graveyard Ghoul'. After Nightgaunts, ghouls are probably my second favourite of Lovecraft's monstrous creations - if, indeed, it makes any sense to classify such things in order of preference. Even so, I think I might quite like being a Lovecraftian ghoul...

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.311: The Whisperer in Darkness Print Redux

As a follow-up to yesterday's post, today I present yet another print representing those monstrous Whisperers in Darkness, the Fungi from Yuggoth. I picked this up - along with a number of other Lovecraftian prints by the same artist (whose name, unfortunately, I am unable to furnish) - from the sadly-defunct Arkham (a specialist shop trading in Brighton, UK during the late 1990s - early 2000s). Lovecraftian art is fairly easy to acquire via outlets like Etsy in the digital age, but back in the day this kind of thing was pretty difficult to come by. Good times.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.310: The Whisperer in Darkness Print

As the Lovecraftian Thing a Day winds its way towards the end of the year, I've been cognisant of the fact that quite a few of my recent entries have involved books. A recent straw poll (of one person) indicates that this type of post is the least favoured, with other oddities and object d'art being the prefered content. Unfortunately, as a consequence of our general business at this time of year - and the fact that, after 9 months of daily posting, we are beginning to exhaust the scope of the available material - this has been something of a necessity. But fear not gentle reader! Ever considerate of your unique dispositions and requirements, we at Ghooric Zone central will be doing our utmost over the coming weeks to revitalise your interest in our blog by presenting materials that are both abiblia (yes, that is word) and of artistic merit.

To this end, today we present a limited print illustrating Lovecraft's The Whisperer in Darkness by the talented Dave Carson. Rumours have abounded in recent years that a retrospective of Mr. carson's work might be in the offing - we anticipate that regular readers of Whispers from the Ghooric Zone demand that it should be so!

Friday, November 04, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.309: Glyphotech and Other Macabre Processes

I was personally acquainted with Mark Samuels back in the day when I was one of the moderators of the Lovecraft Scholars Yahoo Group - myself and the other mods would organise social events at which Mark would be a fairly regular attendee. I also saw him give areading from of his Face of the Twilight at the long-lamented Fantasy Centre in Holloway road (which must have been at least a decade ago). I think this was also the time when he was beginning to rediscover Catholicism in a very traditionalist form, which in turn appears to have led him to break from what he now considers to be the 'leftist/liberal' weird fiction scene. As much as I might disagree with his politics (and I'm sure he with mine), I nevertheless consider Mark Samuels to be one of the UK's finest weird writers, and I was pleased to discover that he is reissuing some of his work via Amazon. Glyphotech and Other Macabre Processes was something I missed first time round, so picked this up as soon as it was became available; Mark is also promising to reissue the aforementioned (and excellent) Face of Twilight shortly. in any case, I'm very excited to finally get my hands on Glyphotech - although as with yesterday's entry,  it's unlikely that I'll get round to reading it before Christmas.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.308: O Fortunate Floridian

O Fortunate Floridian: H.P. Lovecraft's Letters to R.H. Barlow turned up on my doorstep today: something of a timely arrival given the controversey that surrounds Paul la Farge's novel The Night Ocean - despite it not having yet been published. For those unfamiliar with the furore, la Farge's novel takes as its starting point speculation that Lovecraft may have been romatically involved with the young Barlow. For my part, I'm looking forward to reading The Night Ocean (I hear that it is very well written), particularly as I'm interested not only in the ways that Lovecraft himself has been used as a character in fiction, but in takes on the Lovecraftian milieu that challenge our embedded assumptions regarding it (that is, as far as I am concerned, what good Lovecraftian fiction should be about anyway).

In fairness, I think there is no concrete evidence to back up the speculations about Lovecraft and Barlow, but I do become very interested when certain sectors of the Lovecraftian community express (often very vocally) a sense of personal offense in instances such as this. The withdrawal of the Lovecraft statuette from the World Fantasy Award (a decision I happen to agree with) being a case in point. As an anthropologist, this kind of thing registers keenly as an index of how significant symbols are to us in our daily lives, how we deploy them as concrete signifiers of identity, and how (as cognitive anthropologist Harvey Whitehouse suggests) those identities become profoundly psychologically and collectively fused with our symbols - such that an attack against the symbols of our group may be affectively experienced as an attack against the self. Indeed, there is an academic paper in here regarding the ideological dimensions of this kind of identity fusion in contemporary geekdom...

Well, that's enough for now, other than to say I am vey much looking forward to reading O Fortunate Floridian (although I'll probably have to wait until Christmas before I get a proper chance to look at it); that said, on a very final note, if you are interested in this volume, ignore the silly prices that hardback editions are being offered for on Amazon - I picked this paperback copy up directly from the University of Tampa website for $30.00 (plus very reasonable shipping to the UK).

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.307: Dagon Netsuke

This curious piece of scrimshaw came to me courtesy of Gage Prentiss of Providence, RI. The estimable Mr. Prentiss informs me that is actually a rather rare example of the kind of netsuke typical of the work of Shingen Ito - a Japanese artist notorious for producing certain bizarrarie during the Edo period. Rumour has it that, subsequent to an encounter with a waterborne corpse of some unknown but wholly-inhuman being, Ito was afflicted by nightmarish visions which gave form to his later sculptural work - including this piece. One hopes that, in this instance, the item is nothing more than the product of a deranged mind and not - as certain occultists have averred - a depiction from real life...

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.306: Elder Ice Audiobook

If you like your Lovecraftian fiction in your ears, then David Hambling's The Elder Ice is now available to download as an audiobook from Audible. I was fortunate enough to grab a free download from Mr. Hambling, which just goes to show that if you give me free stuff I will post about it on my blog. That said, I do happen to think this is a very fine novella, and the narration on the audio version is excellent (doing a very fine job of getting to grips with the linguistic foibles of protagonist Harry Stubbs). Buy it now - you know you want to.