Radiohead, the Wolf at the Door

November 28th, 2013

The wonderfully simple but beautiful
artwork for this video is by Gastón Viñas.

© Gastón Viñas © Gastón Viñas
Artwork © Gastón Viñas
Prints available at his DeviantArt Page
© Gastón Viñas © Gastón Viñas

This is the Aether

November 16th, 2013

Quintessence“Quintessence is the Latinate name of the fifth element used by medieval alchemists for a medium similar or identical to that thought to make up the heavenly bodies. It was noted that there was very little presence of quintessence within the terrestrial sphere. Due to the low presence of quintessence, earth could be affected by what takes place within the heavenly bodies.[7] This theory was developed in the 14th century text “The testament of Lullius”, attributed to Raymond Lull. The use of quintessence became popular within medieval alchemy. Quintessence stemmed from the medieval elemental system, which consisted of the four classical elements, and aether, or quintessence, in addition to two chemical elements representing metals: sulphur, ‘the stone which burns’, which characterized the principle of combustibility, and mercury, which contained the idealized principle of metallic properties. This elemental system spread rapidly throughout all of Europe and became popular with alchemists, especially in medicinal alchemy. Medicinal alchemy then sought to isolate quintessence and incorporate it within medicine and elixirs.[7] Due to quintessence’s pure and heavenly quality, it was thought that through consumption one may rid oneself of any impurities or illnesses. In “The book of Quintessence”, a 15th-century English translation of a continental text, quintessence was used as a medicine for many of man’s illnesses. A process given for the creation of quintessence is distillation of alcohol seven times.[8] Over the years, the term quintessence, has become synonymous with elixirs, medicinal alchemy, and the philosopher’s stone itself.[9]” From the Wikipedia page for Aether

It’s just one of those did you know? sort of days. Personally, though we know them to be things of pure imagination and speculation at this point, I miss the classic elements born of Greek times. I like the idea of upper atmosphere creatures swimming through the aether above…

Fellini’s Casanova, the Dancing Doll

November 15th, 2013

It’s Smoky in Here!

November 12th, 2013

Victorian Smoking MachineI have to admit that as I research strange inventions from the Victorian era, there are the occasional ones I come across that still cause my eyes to boggle. I have to admit the automatic smoking machine created during Victorian times is one of those such contraptions. Now, in theory -I can see it’s practicality. There was a time in the 80s when I went out on a Friday evening to visit an interesting pub or parlor it was quite common place for it to be dim and murky, with waves of fragrant (some good, some bad) smoke waffling by as I sat talking with a drink in hand. I went to the more dark but, we’ll say, elegant? (yes elegant, but dreary, I like that better) parlors so there was always a very pronounced clove smell in the air as we watched a variety of black clad dancers do moves that we came to call cleaning out the cobwebs and stepping over the downed body of your friend. The next day I would wake with my smeared eyeliner on and the smell of that parlor so tightly wrapped within the fibers of my clothes washing the smell out seemed impossible. As unhealthy as it was for my poor lungs (there’s got to be a disease called goth lungs out there – a person with a perpetual cough because of the particles of black cigarettes sticking to their rib tissue) it was a standard of that type of night or event. I’m not sure it would have felt normal without it.

So, back to the machine and its practicality -it was invented so public establishments that lacked actual smokers could benefit from the same murky air as their competition without anyone actually having to sit in the back and huff on cigars all night to artificially create the atmosphere. The machine did this for you. I can’t even fathom such a contraption in our modern days. Unless of course you are a particularly evil parent who wants to showcase the dirtiness of smoking without actually making your child smoke a whole pack. You could just pop this little gem into their room and let them wallow in the stench of their potential bad habits without making them possibly revisit lunch on the floor after the smoking got to be too much!

The Bride of Frankenstein

November 6th, 2013

There has been some very random thinking tonight. It was actually mostly last night as I was trying to fall asleep. It started with… I wonder who it was that played Viktor in The Bride. I wonder this about once every three years -never remember to look it up though. Then it occurred to me that all of that Devil having a temper tantrum wind and downpour of rain since Halloween had finally given way to silence. Then I looked up and screamed. My bedroom has the very cozy lighting effect of amber string lights around the scarlet colored floor length window drapes. I had dozed off and the current Mr Diem had unplugged them and left the room in darkness. He was unaware my tall, decorative display of jack-o-lantern figurines in the corner were all still burning with their flame-less candles. For a very brief moment I looked up into the darkness and thought the citizens of pumpkin hell had come to call. It wouldn’t have been the first time. Damn things always leave seeds. Anyhoo…

So tonight the random thinking came full random circle. I was very delighted to discover Clancy Brown had played Viktor! Clancy is one of my favorite actors -he pops up all over the place in the most seemingly random of roles, but my most favorite role is of The Kurgan in Highlander. I was very excited to see him in the new Sleepy Hollow series but sadly after only one episode his involvement has become flashbacks. Not to mention there are headless issues just as there were in Highlander. Seeking out The Bride led to a few other various stops along the late night aetherwebs. I found this older stop on io9 that I found interesting and thought to share. The strange history of the Frankenstein carnival sideshows. And that is what I leave you with at this the 13th minute past the midnight hour…

frank1 frank2 frank3 frank4

Alfred Cheney Johnston

November 5th, 2013

alfred1 alfred2 alfred3 alfred4 alfred5 alfred6

More than once I’ve come to find these lovelies floating about the aetherwebs in all of their gorgeous nature but quite often the shutterbug behind their creation isn’t known. So let me introduce you to the works of Alfred Cheney Johnston, often known simply as Cheney to his friends and subjects. He was a student of illustration and attempted to making a living in that field but found it not to be as profitable as he desired. This led to a far more lucrative career with photography, especially after an introduction to Florenz Ziegfeld and his infamous Ziegfeld Follies. Aside from shooting the lovely dancing girls of the Follies and various actresses (I’m looking at you Clara Bow) he also maintained a very successful commercial studio for a time. Alas, like all great eyes, Cheney faded into the background somewhere along the way, quietly moving from New York to Connecticut and taking on a far more subdued photographer’s life. For all of his work he only known to have published one book of work, Enchanting Beauty.

The Tempest Prognosticator

November 4th, 2013

George Merryweather's Tempest PrognosticatorNot all science from my beloved Victorian times was evil or dark… some of it is just purely strange. One of these odd creations was dreamt up by George Merryweather and was called the Tempest Prognosticator. This was a nineteenth century device better known as the leech barometer. This wonderfully strange invention was surprisingly ornate and attractive in appearance, containing twelve leeches in their own small glass bottles arranged in a circle within the device. The theory was that when the leeches became agitated by an approaching storm they would crawl out of their bottles and trigger a small hammer which would strike a bell. The greater the number of bells ringing the more likely the approach of a storm. Dr. Merryweather said his invention was inspired by the lines “The leech disturbed is newly risen; Quite to the summit of his prison.” from the poem Signs of Rain. He apparently made multiple versions of his weather forecasting machine with each ranging in size and elaborate detail so the common fisherman could make use of a smaller, more practical device while larger, more ornate versions were used as more striking display models in large exhibitions. While Dr. Merryweather lobbied for the everyday use of his invention for the British coastline, his invention was left behind in the wake of storm glass use.

I would love a Tempest Prognosticator in my home though. Not only would it be that perfect touch of Victorian elegance in a time period marked by the out of the ordinary creations, it just seems perfectly cryptic to use leeches to warn me of an approaching storm.

The Conjuring

November 3rd, 2013

conjuring_posterSo we turned down the lights in this old house and rented a movie on that very large flat thing they call a television these days. The movie in question was The Conjuring and has a very simple synopsis: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse. I’ve got a thing or two to say about the peoples Warren, but I’ll save that for another day when I feel more ranty. (Though it is enough to say that as a person who love a world filled with spooks and fairies, specters and mermaids, it’s alright to believe in everything and still be a practical skeptic. Skepticism helps keep the charlatans away. Houdini -my first crush- taught me that.)

To be quite simple: It’s a wonderful ghost story. It harkens back to the older days of haunted house stories where the suspense relies more on the shadows being in the wrong place and the creepy places in an old house that you just don’t want to be stuck in without a flashlight or candle. A child’s toy or game -you just know they’re going to get you somewhere along the way. The story was simple and delightful and actually offered enough fact-check-able things for those of us who like to investigate the whole based on true events sort of brouhaha. (Just don’t get too excited over that stuff – take a moment to pop by this link for movie versus truth. It’s interesting but not a play by play of real events of course.) As a movie I highly recommend it. It really did remind me of those wonderful movies that frightened me back in the day like The Exorcist. Have a good old fashioned autumn night with the lights off, a few bottoms sharing a couch and a bowl of popcorn to pass around. ***

The Call of Cthulhu

November 2nd, 2013

Bethalynne Bajema
Artwork by Bethalynne Bajema – Model is Rachel Finan

The Call of Cthulhu

(Found Among the Papers of the Late
Francis Wayland Thurston, of Boston)

“Of such great powers or beings there may be conceivably a survival . . . a survival of a hugely remote period when . . . consciousness was manifested, perhaps, in shapes and forms long since withdrawn before the tide of advancing humanity . . . forms of which poetry and legend alone have caught a flying memory and called them gods, monsters, mythical beings of all sorts and kinds. . . .”
—Algernon Blackwood.

The Horror in Clay

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age. Read the rest of this entry »

The Mad Scientist Entry #613

November 1st, 2013

“I do know that for the sympathy of one living being,
I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes
of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of
which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy
the one, I will indulge the other.”

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Ah my lovelies, another entry from my very large journal of the Mad Scientist! And so we take a brief look at Mary Shelley, who brought into the world one of the most iconic creatures that forced the reader to find sympathy for the monster and disgust for the supposed enlightened scientist who created him. She created an archetype for the brilliant but tortured doctor in her Dr. Frankenstein and with his creation the world of the mad scientist flourished. It brought us…

Mad Scientists Mad Scientists - Young Frankenstein Mad Scientists Mad Scientists

And might I make one nit-picky little note when speaking of Shelley’s pivotal work: Frankenstein is the doctor. His creation is the monster. Yes ladies and gentlemen, the monster.

“I see by your eagerness, and the wonder and hope which your eyes
express, my friend, that you expect to be in formed of the secret with
which I am acquainted. That cannot be.”

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein