Will Hart is an actor, photographer, and attendee of the famed H. P. Lovecraft Centennial Celebration in Providence in August of 1990. After hundreds of hours of work, Mr. Hart has recently released an incredible digital collection of over 800 pictures documenting the historic event. His project is entitled "Lovecraft’s Providence, From A Different Angle: Providence & Beyond at the Time of HPL’s Centennial," which can now be viewed for free at the following website:
We asked Mr. Hart to share with us a little about his collection, his pilgrimage to Providence, and his life.
LNN: Tell us a little about yourself in general.
WEH: I'm a married, 56 year-old life-long collector of Science Fiction, Horror, Escapist, Adult, Fantasy, History (mostly Roman) entertainment of all kinds; with a very strong emphasis on Literature and Movies. Besides all of the traditional ways of enjoying these areas, I've also moved heavily into the electronic world of E-Books, Audio Books, XviD Movies and Television Shows; any format of these items that will allow them to be played in my home theater (10' 16:9 wide-screen format system with 7.1 dual-subwoofer surround sound cranked to commercial theater level), or on something as small as one of my 3" portable media players. I've been an extra and an actor in movies, television, and commercials (mostly in the early 90's, and good luck finding me!), and have spent most of the last 17 years working in Environment, Safety & Health for a major U.S. company; which has just notified me that I'll be "free" to go back to the Screen Actors' Guild (S.A.G.), and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (A.F.T.R.A.), or whatever else I would like to do, after October 16th., when I, and several of my co-workers in Southern California, find ourselves being "affected" by a company (or as they say, enterprise) wide lay-off. And I'm going to take advantage of this "free" time to get back to doing the things I want to do for now.
At some point in the very early 70's, I picked up a paperback copy of an H. P. Lovecraft collection (probably, "The Tomb & Other Tales") from a spinning display rack in a Thrifty Mart supermarket in Anaheim, California, and found myself enjoying it enough that I had to search for more of the same. It wasn't long before I ran out of available books in the local stores, and clerks began offering to "special order" books for me from their catalogs. This was a new experience for me, and the 8-16 weeks it sometimes took to get the books was maddening! Once I got into the mode of ordering these hard to find books, i.e., Arkham House books and others, I began writing to all of the publishers to find out about more of the same; and I also expanded my searches into the greater Los Angeles stores. It was actually in Hollywood, where I ran into my first Lovecraftian Amateur Press works; and that started me on the trail that lead me to eventually become a member of the Esoteric Order of Dagon Amateur Press Association as one of its official 39 members for a while in the late 70's through the early 80's. My publication was called, "Eldritch Leanings"; and would contain minor thoughts, movie and book reviews, pictures, a little bit of artwork (mostly the cover), and began as a Xeroxed production, then switched to mimeographed, and finally to high-quality printing before I gave it up due to time constraints and embarrassment over how poor my offerings were compared to the scholarly works of others like S. T. Joshi. My leaving left an opening for a much better contributor to join the group, and I felt good about that.
In 1977, while I was still in the E.O.D., I contributed a little money to the funds that were being collected to put a headstone on H. P. Lovecraft's grave (as well as his mother's too); and I will always feel great about being even a very small part of that project. But I will always feel guilty over having not put any money into the H. P. Lovecraft Memorial Plaque collection being taken up by Jon Cooke, Will Murray, and S. T. Joshi in 1990; even though they managed to collect thousands more than was required to put the plaque up. My guilty feelings about this may have something to do with my now trying to put the long-term display of pictures on Flickr for everyone to enjoy.
As a die-hard Lovecraft fan at that time (and still one in 2009), I knew that the 100th. anniversary of Lovecraft's birth was going to be on 20-August-1990, and I knew that plans were being made by the same group collecting money for the plaque (under the name "Friends of Lovecraft") to have a celebration in Providence to commemorate this event, and I was not going to miss it for anything. I'm not sure now, but saving money for the trip may have also contributed to my not sending money for the plaque.
LNN: Did I understand you correctly that these are from 1990? How and why did you decide to digitize them and post them online now?
WEH: Yes, the pictures are from 1990; as I'll explain in more detail while answering several of your questions. I used film cameras for the first 40 or so years of my life, and took thousands of pictures of people, places, and events (over 2400 in just one of my trips to Italy alone!); but after I switched to digital cameras a few years ago, I put most of my equipment and negatives away in storage. Until late in 2007 when I finally bought a decent 3600 d.p.i. (dots per inch) film scanner (a PrimeFilm 3650U with Digital ICE technology), and I started looking through my negatives to see what would make interesting digital pictures. And as you can tell from what you are now reading, my 1990 Providence trip pictures became prime candidates for scanning.
This collection now contains about 800 digital pictures, even though I didn’t take that many. The reason the number has grown is simple. Once I had digital data, I was able to look through all of the pictures for possible pictures-within-pictures to save as separate “Detail” files.
And once I had converted all of these to a digital format, cleaned them up, color corrected them, and resized them (hundreds of hours of work), it only made sense to try and share them with “Friends of Lovecraft” everywhere, in any way I could, as my early gift for the upcoming 20th. Anniversary of the Centennial in 2010 (not that I know of any official activities to mark twenty years since the Centennial).
I explained most of this elsewhere lately, but it's true that I've always felt that pictures are a moment frozen in time; and you can never "own" that moment. You can only try to freeze it by recording it through your camera's lens, so you can savor it for as long as you like; and hopefully share that moment with others.
I’m giving everyone my permission to do what they want with these pictures. All I ask is that they give me a photo credit if they use any of them; and drop me an email letter, or send me a copy of whatever they use them in for my collection if they can.
LNN: Tell us about the festival: what sorts of things happened, what were your impressions of it, and what made you decide to attend?
WEH: The H. P. Lovecraft Centennial Celebration was held Friday, 17-August-1990, through Monday, 20-August-1990, at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island; with most of the activities in the Salomon Center and the John Hay Library. The Avon Theater on Thayer Street also hosted the premiere showing of "H. P. Lovecraft's Bride of the Re-Animator" on Friday and Saturday nights. There were Panels (see below), Short Films, a Film Festival, Items for Sale (including piles of Necronomicon Press items!), First Day Commemorative Envelopes (every day), an Exhibition of Lovecraft’s Original Documents, an Art Exhibit of Works inspired by the writings of H. P. Lovecraft, Dining, Tours, Talks, Socializing, Unveiling of the H. P. Lovecraft Memorial Plaque on Sunday, and the Official Dedication of the H. P. Lovecraft Memorial Plaque on Monday. As a true Lovecraft fan at that time, I HAD to attend. I wasn't a published author, or one of the scholars who spoke on one of the panels, and I didn't have a degree to impress anyone with; I was just one of the fans that had to be there to honor H. P. Lovecraft. It was the single most important H. P. Lovecraft event that had taken place up until then, and probably since then too; so anyone who was truly a hard-core Lovecraft fan would have done whatever they could to be there for that event. And a great time was had by all. I got to see old friends (like Donald R. Burleson), make new friends for the long weekend; and I got to find out how intense it can be when you get that many people focused on H. P. Lovecraft at the same time. An unforgettable time. Only slightly documented by my pictures; because I had to choose between being out shooting, or in watching and listening. There needed to be three of me to take everything in.
The panels at The H. P. Lovecraft Centennial Celebration included:
9:45-11:15 a.m. Lovecraft and New England: Barton St. Armand, Donald R. Burleson, Will Murray, Henry L. P. Beckwith, Jr., and Jason Eckhardt as the Moderator.
11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Lovecraft’s Life & Times: Harry Brobst, Kenneth W. Faig, Eileen McNamara, David E. Schultz, and Marc A. Michaud as the Moderator.
2:30-4:00 p.m. Lovecraft’s Style & Imagery: Norman L. Gayford, John McInnis, R. Boerem, Robert H. Waugh, and Steven J. Mariconda as the Moderator.
8:00 p.m.-? Craft of the Horror Writer: Les Daniels, Fred Chappell, Stefan Dziemianowicz, Frank Belknap Long, and Robert M. Price as the Moderator.
9:30-11:00 a.m. Lovecraft’s Place in World Literature: Maurice Levy, Gilles Menegaldo, Kaliju Kirde, Giuseppe Lippi, and Paul Buhle as the Moderator.
11:15 a.m.-1:00 p.m. A Reassessment of Lovecraft’s Legacy: Donald R. Burleson, Paul Buhle, Robert M. Price, Peter Cannon, and S. T. Joshi as the Moderator.
Please note: I apologize for any names that are wrong from the panels due to last minute substitutions; I am quoting mostly from the original schedule.
LNN: The title of your collection is "Lovecraft's Providence, From a Different Angle." What significance does this title have to you, especially considering the medium is located on a website where its casual observers might not have ever heard of HPL? Tell me about your "angle."
WEH: The Actual title of the collection is (see the cover shot there, which is the very first image), "Lovecraft's Providence, From a Different Angle: Providence & Beyond at the Time of HPL’s Centennial, 1990"
I describe this further as, "A visual record of the trip taken to Providence, Rhode Island, and beyond by William E. Hart (Will Hart) at the time of the H. P. Lovecraft Centennial Celebration, Thursday, August 16th., 1990 through Wednesday, August 22nd., 1990; With side trips to Plymouth, Cambridge, and Boston, Massachusetts."
As to, “A Different Angle,” That’s the best way to explain what you’ll see I was looking for when I originally shot these pictures just for my own personal collection. I had seen many pictures of Lovecraft related sites prior to my trip, but I wanted to see and photograph what I had NOT seen. Expecting this to be the only trip I would ever get to make to Providence, I wanted to have photographic coverage of the places or things I personally found of interest, from as many angles as possible, so I could really enjoy the memories triggered by looking at the pictures as the years went by. That's why you'll see that I tried to (wherever possible) shoot everything from all sides. I wanted to see the front, back, sides, rear, and tops in some cases (by shooting from high-altitude vantage points). I even made a point of shooting out in all directions from Prospect Terrace, as well as into Prospect terrace. I even got into buildings, like the List Art Building, in an attempt to see what the viewing angle would have been like from Lovecraft's final home (when it stood at 66 College Street, before being moved in 1959 to make way for the List Art Building). I hung out of windows downtown to recreate shooting angles from old postcards showing where the "Old Brick Row" used to be. And I shot every direction that I could from the roof of 1 Financial Plaza (don't even think about asking to do this in our post 9-11 world), at every zoom setting from near to far that my camera could handle.
During my stay in Providence, I would shoot a couple of rolls, and then have those developed and printed as 4” X 6” prints so I could see if the shots came out O.K.; and also to remind myself of what I had already covered, or still needed to cover while I had time. And then I would go back out and try to fill in as many of the blanks on my visual wish-list as possible.
My number one location guide was Henry L. P. Beckwith, Jr.’s incredible 1979 first printing of “Lovecraft’s Providence & Adjacent Parts”; which gave me more places to see than I could possibly have made it to in the time I had available. And I would like to submit any of my pictures that relate to locations he described as my visual companions and tributes to his book.
And my second most-used guide book (or in this case booklet), was Jason C. Eckhardt’s marvelous “Off The Ancient Track” in its May 1990 Second Revised Printing. In particular, I would never have made the run to Cambridge to see the Widener Library, or to Boston to see Copp’s Hill Burying Ground and the North End “Pickman’s Model” sites without his guidance. And any pictures I took in those locations are also a tribute to him, and everyone who helped with his booklet.
And my last guide of note, for inspiration, was Philip A. Shreffler’ s 1977 edition of “The H.P. Lovecraft Companion” with its beautiful black & white plates. I know I was thinking of these when I visited 65 Prospect Street, St. John’s on Federal Hill (gone but not forgotten), and the Salem Witch House (which I arrived at after dark when it was too late to take any pictures on my way back from Boston). And, Philip can consider my pictures of 65 Prospect, and St. John’s as an attempt to rise to his standards too.
As far as the Flickr web site being an obscure place for Lovecraft pictures, where most people might not be familiar with him; you might be surprised. Within 24 hours of my starting to upload the first roll of digitized pictures to Flickr, without my making any effort to publicize the fact I was doing it, Google was already "finding" my pictures when I did a "Lovecraft" + "Providence" search of the web. I wasn't looking for my pictures, I was just looking for some details that I was missing from my notes, and I started seeing results from Google that started with "R_", that each of my picture's file names began with; and was shocked to find that people were already being directed to my pictures. Just for fun, while typing these words (9:15 a.m., 26-August-2009), I paused, went to Google, and searched the web for "Lovecraft Providence Centennial" (without the quotation marks); care to guess what came up first? The answer is... "Collection: Lovecraft's Providence, From A Different Angle".
I choose Flickr as the repository of my images, because of the convenience for me, and the easy world-wide access to the full resolution pictures for anyone that might be interested too. This is a "Pro" account, meaning that the picture sizes and quantities are not limited; and as long as I pay the $24.95 per year, these files will be there 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. The account is currently paid for through August 2011; and I plan to extend it as long as there is activity at the site. And if I die in the meantime, and it drops back to being a free account, which will limit the picture sizes, and also limit the access to only the last 200 pictures uploaded, anyone can "Gift" a Pro account status to the account, and everything (800+ pictures) will still be there, and in full sizes for another year. If I'm dead, and no one is interested, the pictures will just sit there until needed by someone else in the future who is willing to spring for the upgrade.
LNN: How does Lovecraft fit into your life (besides compelling you to take pilgrimages to the East Coast)?
WEH: H. P. Lovecraft, as an area of interest, fascination, and study, is still one of my favorite topics because of the many different and ever expanding facets of Life related to him, his works, and his inspiration.
I've been a Lovecraft fan/collector for the better part of 40 years; from young and lean, too old and fat. And I’m still collecting files and books (like the upcoming two volume set of H. P. Lovecraft & Robert E. Howard letters from Hippocampus Press). I usually don't know anyone in my everyday life that is aware of H. P. Lovecraft; and when I do finally meet someone that has as much interest as I do, I usually end up thinking, "This person is really strange!" While I'm sure they are thinking along the lines of, "This guy really gives me the creeps!"
Maybe it’s just "The Innsmouth Look!"
or perhaps it's the strange "Colour Out of Space" (Lovecraft's British spelling) that's makes us all glow in a strange unearthly way.
What's really strange about sharing common interests, is that no matter how focused the interest is, "Lovecraft" for example, which seems on the surface rather specific, among living breathing people, breaks down into some of the following categories for each individual's personal areas of interest: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Letters, Poetry, Movies (Studio, Independent, Amateur, features, shorts), Philosophy, Science, Race/Racism, Religion (or lack of), Cthulhu Mythos/Non-Mythos, Gaming, Music, History, Providence, New England, Weird Tales, Other Writers (Howard, Smith, etc.), Research, Studies, Writing, Reading, Watching, Art, Images, Internet, Sex Shops (!), Costumes, Goth Life-Styles, Ghouls, Dagon, Photography, Yog-Sothoth, Cthulhu, The Occult, Satanism, The Never-Ending Versions of The Necronomicon, E-Books, Audio Books, Language, Hitler, Sexuality, Cats, The North End of Boston, Copp's Hill Burying Ground, Pickman, Harvard, Reality, Astronomy, Swan Point Cemetery, Comics/Comix, Anime, Collecting, Listening, Talking, Performing, and more!
And after you find out how little two Lovecraftians actually have in common, all of their other life differences come crashing in; and the gamers go off to play their favorite games, the readers go off to read their favorite books, the movie fans go off to watch their favorite movies, the smokers go hang out to smoke, the religious go off to church, the drinkers go off to drink, the Vegans walk away from the Carnivores in disgust, those with kids go home to free up the babysitter, the young music lovers go party with others their own age, the singles head for their favorite pick-up spot, the married couples return to their safe havens, and the old go back to their quieter spaces to think about what they've just heard and seen.
All of which still fascinates me.
LNN: Any future Lovecraft-inspired plans you would like to share?
WEH: Yes. My ongoing expansion of the titles, descriptions & trivia, street-by-street sets, and mapping of the images that I have uploaded to Flickr; so this collection will stand for a long time to come as a visual and historical reference work. And this entire collection will also be put on DVD-R's once it is finalized; with copies going to the John Hay Library of Brown University in Providence, as well as other groups or organizations that might like copies. I'm also working through every social-networking system I can access to spread the word about these pictures; with the hopes that people who see them will also spread the word that they are available. I want these pictures to be around long after I am gone!
LNN: Anything else you would like to put on the record?
WEH: I'd like to hear/read from anyone else that attended the H. P. Lovecraft Centennial Celebration; especially Will Murray, Jon B. Cooke, S. T. Joshi, and the rest of the "Friends of Lovecraft".
Anyone can reach me at "willhart at roadrunner dot com".
I've had really good communication with the John Hay Library, and the Providence Library, indicating they believe the pictures will also be useful to many in Providence; and that's all I can ask for.
Plus, I have reason to believe that Leigh Blackmore (see F_34), the Australian fan who traveled farther than anyone else to attend the celebration, not only took a similar number of pictures to mine, but has near future plans to digitize his, and put them out for public viewing too! His email to me recently was a real treat, because I remembered his being the long-distance traveler, but I didn't have an email address for him until he saw one of my many notices going around about the pictures.
A trivia question: Does anyone else have a CTHULHU license plate?
LNN: The idea has occured to me, but I think actually securing one might jeopardize my marriage, so I have had to pass for the time being!
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- More interviews. . .
Will Hart is an actor, photographer, and attendee of the famed H. P. Lovecraft Centennial Celebration in Providence in August of 1990. After hundreds of hours of work, Mr. Hart has recently released an incredible digital collection of over 800 pictures documenting the historic event. His project is entitled "Lovecraft’s Providence, From A Different Angle: Providence & Beyond at the Time of HPL’s Centennial," which can now be viewed for free at the following website:
Reber Clark is a freelance composer who has written and arranged music for hundreds of jazz charts, theater works, variety shows and studio projects. He was a speaker at the United States national ASBDA convention on procedures for commissioning a new work, and he has fulfilled numerous commissions for college, university, high school, and middle school bands. His latest project is entitled Lovecraft Paragraphs. We asked Mr. Clark to tell us the details.
LNN: First off, tell us a little about yourself in general.
RC: I am a composer working in wind ensemble music for almost thirty years. I am a long time Lovecraft reader and he holds a very special place in my life. Because of my music, I've traveled to many places worldwide and have had many fantastic experiences - especially throughout Europe (France and Ireland in particular). I have been married for thirty years and have two daughters and two cats. I was born in Des Moines, Iowa and grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. I have resided in Oklahoma and now Illinois. I work from home in suburban Chicago and can usually be found there when not somewhere far afield.
LNN: How did you discover Lovecraft, and how does he now influence and inform the composition work that you do?
RC: Like many Lovecraft readers I discovered him in high school. Where the first book came from I can't recall specifically. I trolled the bookshops regularly and probably picked up one of the Ballantine editions, probably “The Tomb” - the one with the head bulging with red bats - and got hooked. That was 1971 or so, and my interest and love of his work has never waned. I was extremely excited when Arkham House re-published his complete works and quickly snagged a complete set as they were released. I have been a lifelong fan of his stories, but not so much a fan of what people have done with (and to) them. I am consistently disappointed with the movies "based" on his work.
As far as influencing my music - he doesn't influence it much, apart from a world-view (cosmos-view) that I can draw on from time to time.
LNN: Tell us about The Lovecraft Paragraphs? What can we expect at its premier, and what is your intent with the project?
RC: Well, the title is just Lovecraft Paragraphs (no "the"). It really is a
"fan" piece. Most of the references, visual, audio etc, will be familiar to
Lovecraft readers and not so much to non-aficionados. I hope people enjoy it
and that it helps these paragraphs stick in the mind. The movie opens with
the Joyce Carol Oates quote:
"There is a melancholy, operatic grandeur in Lovecraft's most passionate
work. . . a curious elegiac poetry of unspeakable loss, of adolescent despair,
and an existential loneliness so pervasive that it lingers in the reader's
memory, like a dream, long after the rudiments of Lovecraftian plot have
and that is really what the movie is about - how those paragraphs stick with
you even after the plot details have become hazy.
LNN: Who else is involved in this and how did you come up with the idea?
RC: This is from the press blurb for the movie:
" ‘for in its cryptical arabesques there may stand symbolised all the aims
and mysteries of a blindly impersonal cosmos.'
- Howard Phillips Lovecraft, The Silver Key
With this statement the project which became Lovecraft Paragraphs was
launched. Searching for a way to make Lovecraft's prose accessible by ear,
yet remaining somewhat internal and eerily impersonal, was the first hurdle.
The problem, it seems to me, with most Lovecraft readings is that the reader
inevitably (however unintentionally) inserts their own personality into the
material. There are very few voice artists who can pull it off convincingly.
This usually renders Lovecraft's unique inner voice impotent and creates an
unintended atmosphere of intimacy which saps the cold stark strength from
'I like a tale to be told as directly and impersonally as possible, from an
angle of utter and absolute detachment.'
- Howard Phillips Lovecraft, In a letter to Frank Belknap Long, August 2
Diligent searching for an answer to this problem resulted in the discovery
of a set of synthesized voices that sounded very real, yet with quirks and
qualities that helped the listener to suspect their impersonality. This
somewhat disquieting effect is the key which, I hope, sets the readings of
Lovecraft's prose in this movie apart."
I would add that the most convincing reader I have heard is Andrew Leman
from the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society - he has it down perfectly, in my
opinion, but unfortunately he was not involved with this production.
I really wore all of the hats producing this thing, mainly because I'm a
cheap bastard, but also it helped me learn many aspects of production with
which I is was unfamiliar.
LNN: Have there been any other Lovecraft-themed projects you have worked on?
RC: I did a work for choir and percussion ensemble entitled Dark Feasts. It included Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and Arthur Machen quotes. It was commissioned and performed by the University Singers of Indiana/Purdue University in Fort Wayne, Indiana under the direction of Dr. Paul Meers, who now resides and teaches voice in Beirut, Lebanon at the University of Beirut.
I have done other, solely musical, works that touch on some darker themes – Troll Witch Dances, for concert band, based on the work of Welsh artist Brian Froud, Wizard's Glass and Tree Cathedral, for unaccompanied solo clarinet, based on Druidic lore and practices, but not any other specific Lovecraftian material. I have sketched together video segments for Lovecraft's The Cats of Ulthar and know how I am going to do it as a movie if I get the chance (or make the chance!).
LNN: As a freelance composer who has been commissioned to write for many
different groups, including High Schools, do you ever worry that a project
like Lovecraft Paragraphs might be misunderstood by potential customers?
Or, conversely, does it make the students love you?
RC: This is an interesting question that I have actually asked myself. Some of
my very first commissions were from Catholic schools in Rhode Island - and
being a Lovecraft fan I was very excited to be working with and traveling to
Providence and its environs. I was able to explore Providence and many of
the towns surrounding it and up to the border with Massachusetts many times.
I can see why Lovecraft loved the place and why certain things may have
influenced his writing and world-view. I really liked (and continue to like)
Rhode Island although I regret I haven't yet visited Swan Point Cemetery
where Lovecraft is buried.
So I would mention my love of his work to the people I was working with
there and would get a wide range of reactions from "Who?" to "Oh yeah, he
wrote some really weird stuff, didn't he?" I would say yes, but then I would
mention the beauty in his writing as well, with which most were unfamiliar.
I mean, the sunset glories that he could spin were fucking incredible.
Providence at sunset is amazing to look at. Many of the houses are built on
the western side of a rise and are set off beautifully in the sunset. It
must have been mythic to grow up with.
Much of my music writing has been dealing with subjects that consider life
and death. A lot of it has been fun as well. But Philip Jose Farmer once
said somewhere that the reason he wrote his stories about our origins and
where we are going (the Riverworld series et al) is that these are the
important questions and the subjects worth writing about - who are we?
Where are we going? What are we doing? Before we do anything else these are the big questions that should be asked.
Life has its darkness as well as its light. There are things "out there"
that will eat you alive if you're not vigilant. This is just as important a
message as friendship and love. It cannot be ignored. I agree with Guillermo
del Toro about the latest wave of "romantic" vampire movies. They're crap.
Vampires are mean bastards who will eat you and your soul alive. These are
the monsters I grew up with and these are the way I see them. Mean MF'ers.
Believe me, they're out there!
I was raised in the Episcopal church. I believe that because of that
background the terror of losing one's mind, soul, whatever in Lovecraft's
stories to an impersonal cosmic entity or influence is heightened.
I am asked to write music for religious schools quite often and I try to be
practical about it. What gets lost sometimes in contemporary religious
teaching, Christian or not, is that there is some mean stuff in the universe
and it will eat you! So when I write from a religious point of view I try to
impart a feeling for these big questions - mainly that the questions are BIG
and that the sentimentality that many people attach to some of this stuff is
just not helpful.
The great Irish writer James Joyce said that sentimentality is unearned
emotion. I think that is true. It's a short cut that keeps the real
experience at arm's length. Carl Jung said that sentimentality is a
superstructure covering brutality. I think that to a large extent that is
true as well. I strive in my music to make sure that any emotions arrived at
by the listener make sense and are not shortcuts. Sometimes I succeed,
As far as being misunderstood - people make snap judgments quite often. If
they would talk to one another they may find out that they are more in
agreement than not. So I do take time to talk to people who hire me to make
sure they understand where I'm coming from and that I can usually work
within their system.
Geez. I can be long-winded! Sorry!
LNN: What are your goals for Lovecraft Paragraphs post release?
RC: I would love for anyone who wants music for their Lovecraft production to
contact me. If anyone likes the movie and would like to distribute it, that
would be great! My main goal, however, was to submit it to the H. P.
Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon and have it accepted and shown.
I won't hear until after September 1st if it will be selected or not. But
that was my main goal.
It is a work of love for the material. I mean money is fine (I don't reject
it!), but money ruins many Lovecraft presentations. I suppose love does too!
But not as often.
LNN: Would you consider Lovecraft Paragraphs to be an oratorio, or is
there a better term? How does this particular medium influence the delivery
of the content, the audience's experience, and message of the text?
RC: Whoa. Big question. The movie isn't a musical work, so I wouldn't give it a
musical form-name. I am striving to present these disjointed paragraphs in a
loose narrative form in an interesting way. Hopefully Lovecraft fans will
bring their own associations to the experience and it will be interesting to
hear what the reactions are.
LNN: Tell us about composing for a Lovecraft-inspired piece. How do you get in
the mind sight to tap into the dark mood and atmosphere a project like this
RC: The stories. Man, he is good for building that atmosphere. I can totally
identify with cosmic forces just coming to nail mankind. Somehow it's easy
for me. This may sound hokey but I can have such visions of light in my
imagination and these inform many of the brighter and more positive writings
that I do, but there has to be a balance, and I can get so dark. I think this
is my Welsh and Czech blood coming through that I can live there as well.
The dark and the light complement and balance each other. I can understand
why the Yin/Yang thing could be so attractive. I try to hold myself apart as
an observer however. The writer on mythological principles, Joseph Campbell,
has been indispensible for me in this regard. Many people know him for his
outlining of the Hero path, but there is a lot more going on in Campbell
than just that. He is worth reading.
Additionally I just love the atmosphere Lovecraft creates. I am right there
under the pyramids or descending the seven hundred steps to the Gates of
Deeper Slumber. I know I could score a film of The Dream Quest of Unknown
Kadath. I know exactly how things would look and how they should be
approached. It is so clear to me.
LNN: What does your family think of your project? Are you the kind of father that
gives your daughters plush Cthulhu dolls?
RC: I thought the family thing would be more sensitive than it has been. My wife Lee Ann has been (as Ken Hite states about his own wife) a "Lovecraft skeptic," but she has been so supportive of all my endeavors that I couldn't do what I'm doing without her. My daughters' reactions have ranged from "that's weird" to "that's cool." They have strong reactions to the images I am using in this movie.
If they were younger, there are many scenes I would not expose them to. The
one daughter is twenty-four and is pursuing a career in stage management.
She has had many insights on production that I had no idea about. Her
dramatic insights are particularly valuable. Also, if I was to do a live
action piece (Cats of Ulthar?) she has a talent pool of actors and artists
that I could draw from. The other daughter is eighteen and just starting
college this fall. She has very strong reactions and very clear opinions
about her reactions to the music and the visuals. Her insight is always
I have seen the plush Cthulhus and think they're great fun. But as we all
know in our heart of hearts, Cthulhu is going to rise and wipe us all out!
He's not cute and cuddly so I've avoided that whole approach. I really enjoy
Lovecraft more when taking him seriously. Having said that I just recently
watch the Chuck and Dexter "SpookySpookyScaryScary" video that's online and
laughed my ass off! I also like the Spanish comic strip "Young Lovecraft"
and of course the "Unspeakable Vault of Doom" comics. I was never a graphic
novel or comic book fan, especially of Lovecraft presentations - I like my
own imagination and movies better. But those strips are a hoot.
LNN: As a composer, tell me about the hubris it would take to attempt to write up
a score for "The Music of Eric Zann." Would you ever consider trying, and
if so, how would you go about even starting?
RC: I think if The Music of Eric Zann was approached too realistically (maybe literally is a better word) it might ruin it. Hubris, as you state. Ya know. And this might be a sensitive topic: reading the bible as prose gets people into trouble all the time. They get stuck thinking of this stuff as reality instead of as a representation. Of course much of it is reality and history but much of it is language that points beyond itself - like poetry. Music is also a language that points to things beyond itself. It's said that the best things can't be talked about because no tongue can describe it and we're stuck with language that can only be a descriptive referral to thethings that refer to this ineffableness (is that a word?) If one reads Lovecraft as strict prose the same mistakes can occur. But if you read his "prose" as poetry many things open up and point beyond the literal to his dreamworld (or other places and things) and how it functions. I think Zann can be approached in this way. I would probably "ground" the audience in tonal conventional music sounds during the real-world part of Zann and move them into atonal "out-there" sounds when that window opens (if I am recalling the story correctly). I have written pieces like this for wind ensemble - grounding the audience in the familiar and then launching them into a world of cosmically un-sure footing. I bring them back at the end but they usually feel that they've "been somewhere" instead of just enjoying a nice little piece. At least that is what I have attempted to do and have been successful mostly.
Writing music for Zann would be like Lovecraft's writing - how do you
describe the indescribable? You let the audience do the work in their own
imagination by providing the groundwork for them to do so. I would imagine
that this is much easier in music than it is using visuals.
Another approach might be to not use music at all in the movie until the
music scene - and then make it so cosmically overwhelming that the contrast
would blow the audience away. Sort of like when Dorothy opens up her black
and white front door in The Wizard of Oz - a blast of color and light, but
LNN: With potentially two mainstream Lovecraft project on the table over the next
few years (Del Toro's "At the Mountains of Madness" and Howard's The Strange
Adventures of HPL"), what sorts of considerations and advice do you have for
the composer who ends up scoring them?
RC: I would hope they would have done their homework and not only read the
stories but all related materials as well. I think a solid prerequisite
would be for them to be a lover of Lovecraft's work and have clear ideas and
solid approaches to the material - yet remain open to the director and the
music supervisor. The gravity of a cosmic approach is essential. They should
be able to clearly demonstrate their ideas quickly and efficiently and
change things as needed. I would love to score either of these movies
-especially "Mountains," but my big dream is to score "The Dream Quest of
Unknown Kadath" - that would be an amazing project.
LNN: Anything else you would like to add?
RC: I was fortunate enough to contribute some croakings to the H. P. Lovecraft
Historical Society's audio production of The Shadow Over Innsmouth for
their Dark Adventure Radio Theater. These guys, Andrew Leman and Sean
Branney, really have the tone down and produce great stuff. Their The Call
of Cthulhu silent movie was absolutely an inspired work and the composers
who worked on it, especially Troy Sterling Nies provided outstanding music.
I would love to work on any project that these guys produce.
I think we may be entering a new era of Lovecraft media production now that
inexpensive HD cameras and desktop video editing are becoming more
widespread. But no matter what the tools are, what is needed is a clear
vision. Stuart Gordon's Dagon came very close, AM1200 was an amazing,
well-crafted and high production value approach to cosmic horror, and many
of the shorts with Lovecraftian themes have presented amazing experiences. I
am hoping that the era of schlock Lovecraft is dead or dying (except for the
fun stuff!) and that we will soon see some amazing and cosmic things coming
from young (or not so young) directors and creators.
Visit Reber Clark's website to learn more about his composition:
*Update: On 8/9/09 Mr. Clark contacted us and was pleased to announce his official acceptance at the HPL Film Festival. Congrats!*
There are quite a few web-based, Lovecraftian homages, but few have received such an immediate, powerful response as one the one we are about to explore. Cultivating humor, wit, and delightfully twisted pop culture innuendo, Calls for Cthulhu is a lovingly parodic entry in the canon of cosmic horror that has something for everyone. Warning: NSFW!
We are pleased to publish our recent interview with Brand Gamblin, the writer and director of this popular web series.
LNN: Tell us about yourself in general.
BG: For the last decade, I've been a video game computer programmer. I've
worked for Microprose, Acclaim, and Firaxis. I worked on ten games,
and shipped seven. Now I'm doing interface work in Flash for a network
security company. Big fan of sci-fi and fantasy, as is probably
LNN: Tell us about your original intentions for CFC. Did you have big plans
right from the start?
BG: C4C started out as a one-off joke. I mentioned at lunch one day that
it would be fun to put the puppet behind a desk, Larry King style, and
have him answer questions. As soon as I said it would be Calls to
Cthulhu, instead of Call of Cthulhu, one of my coworkers dropped his
fork. He just stared at me, saying, "We have to do this."
So, we made the video, put it up online as a joke, but for the joke
to work, we had to have a phone number/e-mail address. Even though it
was a one-off joke, people started writing in with questions. Some of
the questions were really good, so we decided to make another one. Now
we've got more than ten done, and I guess the joke is becoming
something real, huh?
LNN: How did your interest in Lovecraft's fiction begin?
BG: I'd read most of Lovecraft's work before I ever picked up the puppet,
but I certainly wasn't well versed in it. It was just one of those
names you try and read, like Poe or Dickens or Wells. In fact, when I
started the show, I didn't really know much more about Cthulhu than
that he was "ultimate evil." However, since starting the show, I've
been challenged by so many true Lovecraft scholars, I've had to go
back and re-read everything, taking notes and reading scholarly works
based on his stuff.
LNN: H.P. Lovecraft had a great sense of humor, but he was also known to
take his work very seriously. They weren't merely stories for him but
a method of addressing and exploring many of the difficult
philosophical questions he faced. Despite its overt silliness, CFC
often shows a greater awareness and interest in philosophy, religion,
and ethics. How does CFC reflect your personal beliefs and reactions
to American culture?
BG: From the beginning, the basic joke behind C4C has been that Cthulhu
has a human side to him, while still being a horrible, rampaging
monster. Everything from the fight he has with his rapid-fire round to
the way he browbeats his underling, Tim, is all planned to make him
sound just a little more petty, a little more realistic, and a little
If Lovecraft had a single message, it would be that man is
insignificant and impotent when compared to the vast, shocking power
of the cosmos. If I had a single message, it would be that the vast,
shocking cosmos still has a human side to it.
Lovecraft never meant for Cthulhu to be a god. At least, not the way
we think of the Judeo-Christian God. So part of the joke behind C4C is
that if Cthulhu were a real god, all the others had to be real, too.
Odin, Ra, and my favorite, Xenu. In that context, Cthulhu does upset
devout believers, but only the ones who consider theirs to be the only
possible answer. I've received quite a few letters from angry
believers, who want Cthulhu to admit he is not the real god, and I've
had to fight the impulse to go on the show and say, "You know you're
talking to a puppet, right? You know this isn't real, right?"
LNN: When you aren't making videos, what do you do for fun that doesn't
involved cyclopean horrors?
BG: As it happens, I'm currently producing a podcast novel called
"Tumbler." Last year, I wrote a book about a young girl who gets a job
mining in the asteroid belt. It was heavily inspired by Robert A.
Heinlein's juvenile fiction, and features adventure, danger, and
excitement in the deep dark of space.
This year, I'm releasing the book in episodes, as a free audiobook.
Once the show is finished, I'm going to try to get it published.
Also, I've been working on writing a video game for the Android
operating system. It may be Cthulhu-based, if I can get the design
LNN: Do your friends, family, and coworkers know that you play with
handpuppets? What do they think?
BG: My very close friends and immediate family know about it, and they
generally love it. My extended family doesn't quite understand (how do
you explain a plush Cthulhu to your grandmother?) but they try to
support me in it. My co-workers, if they know about it at all, think
it's just kinda weird.
LNN: Sorry to hear about the Parsec awards. How did Cthulhu take it?
BG: I had a lot of fun with the Parsec awards. Honestly, I don't think I
would have had as much fun if I'd won. I should point out that I knew
Earl Newton from before the Parsecs. We were already friends, and he
had a much more professional show, with a cast and scripts and special
effects and everything. Once we found out that we'd lost to Earl and
his eminently qualified TV show "Stranger Things," I tried to figure
out how Cthulhu would take it. The most obvious answer would be that
he just didn't care. After all, why would an ancient amoral
human-devouring creature care about winning a silly award?
But that's taking the easy way out, and it didn't really fit the
Cthulhu character I'd been building. Like I said before, I was trying
to make him as human as possible. So, in this case, I wanted to be
jealous. I wanted him to be petty and angry. So I made him rail and
cry against the unfairness of it all.
After that, it became a running gag that Cthulhu was going to swallow
Earl's soul. I was lucky enough to realize that goal at this past
Balticon, but that story will have to wait until our next episode.
LNN: Which leads me to my next question: tell us about the Balticon sex
scandal. What, why, and how?
BG: Yeah. Heh. The Parsec was given out at DragonCon, and Earl wasn't
able to be there that year, so even though he won it, he hadn't
actually received the trophy. And everybody knew about Cthulhu's
jealous hatred of "Stranger Things." So, the night before they were
actually going to present the award to Earl, I was approached by
Podcasting's Rich Sigfrit, who whispered to me, "I've got the trophy.
We're going to give it to him tomorrow. It'd be a shame if something
were to. . . happen to it." So we went back to his hotel room, and
made a couple of videos of Cthulhu stealing the trophy, as a kind of
joke to play on Earl. But then, once we were done, Rich and I both
said, "It's just not right. It's not enough." So instead, we made a
short video of Cthulhu defiling the Parsec, as a better gag to play on
But then I made a mistake. I was carrying the video on my phone, and
I thought it was so funny, I showed it to a friend. He thought it was
hilarious, so he showed it to someone else. Then they had to show it
to someone else, and before I knew it, people were coming up to me,
asking if I had the hidden Cthulhu Sex Video.
It went viral faster than I'd expected, and before long I was getting
e-mailed requests from people in the UK and New Zealand. So, I figured
I could distribute it better by putting the video on YouTube.
Then Cory Doctorow found out, and the video found it's way to
BoingBoing, where thousands of people were suddenly watching my hand
puppet have unnatural relations with an inanimate object. So that's my
fifteen minutes of fame. :)
LNN: Will we ever be able to see Cthulhu do street interviews like Triumph
the Insult Comic Dog?
BG: I've wanted to do that for a while, but I keep thinking that it
doesn't really work, with the mythos and all. It's hard to fit the
man-on-the-street interview in with a monster who is supposed to be 50
feet tall. Last year, they held the national "My Little Pony"
convention in my town, and I wanted desperately to have Cthulhu show
up and do the whole Triumph act with them, but it just didn't work
from a story standpoint.
I have thought about buying one of the "Chibithulhu" dolls, hollowing
it out, and making it into a puppet. That way, I could do a "baby
Cthulhu interviews" thing with it.
LNN: What is the current status and what are your plans for CFC in the
future? More DVDs?
BG: I'm not entirely sure. I've had a few ideas for another episode, but
I think interest is dying down. People don't send in e-mails as much
as they used to, and I'm working on other projects at the same time. I
may just make this an annual show, and only bring it out at Balticon.
But who knows? There may be a resurgence of interest, more good
questions, a movie deal . . . the world's a crazy place.
LNN: Tell me about your relationship with Scientology. How did Cthulhu's
beef with Xenu begin?
BG: I don't have any direct experience with scientology, but I've read a
lot about their procedures and ethics. I've read up on Xenu and the
nuclear bomb laden volcanoes. I know my way around Thetan levels. So
when I started thinking that I should have another god come on the
show, I wanted to pick the most ridiculous one possible. And Xenu's
story is, let's face it, pretty freaking ridiculous.
So then I started reading more about him, and the more I read, the
more angry I got. He was betrayed and trapped under the Earth, held in
place by a force field with an eternal battery. It was such an obvious
rip-off of Cthulhu's situation, I felt like I just had to say
something. It was no longer enough to just make Xenu look silly, now I
had to make him look utterly ridiculous, while still pointing out how
his whole existence was stolen from a penny dreadful author. So I did
to Xenu the same thing that I'd done to Cthulhu, I made him an
exaggerated version of humanity. I made him petty, weak, and silly.
And because of that, he was beloved by many watchers, and became a
sidekick to Cthulhu, like Ed MacMahon to Johnny Carson.
LNN: Anything else you would like to put on the record?
BG: Well, I'd just like to thank you for the opportunity to tell people
about the show. It's been great fun for me the entire way. This is
really more fun than a guy with a puppet deserves to have.
Check out Brand Gamblin's great site Calls for Cthulhu at the following link:
Joseph Nanni is a Canadian filmmaker who lives and works in Toronto. He is the writer, director, and producer of two recent Lovecraft inspired short films: The Casting Call of Cthulhu and Elder Sign. He has aired them to universal acclaim at numerous film festivals and has been nominated for multiple awards. He attended the Ontario College of Art & Design where he studied illustration and design, and he currently works as a professional creative director.
We asked Joseph to tell us about how he got started in filmmaking and Lovecraft.
LNN: First, tell us about yourself. What is your background in life, film, career, and H.P. Lovecraft?
Joseph: I discovered HPL as a boy - I was a boy, Lovecraft was already dead. The library was my second home (I know what you're thinking - "NNNNERD") I would head over to the Sci-Fi section, which at the time was were they put everything they weren't sure about, and I would just stare at the HPL covers trying to figure out what the hell I was looking at. But I didn't read any of it until I was 13. Two years later I saw Re-Animator and there was no turning back. I read everything I could and rented anything remotely Lovecraftian - not excluding Goonies or including Porky's. Good times.
LNN: What was the impetus for your production company Bad Advice for Good Times?
Joseph: I make television ads which is a riot but there's a lot of consensus building and compromise around things like how big the logo should be. In Lovecraft films there is also a lot of consensus building and compromise but around things like how big the claws should be. But seriously, I started the projects to make some entertaining films that were completely different from what I was working on, based on material appreciated by a really specific group of people. And also I'm a nerd.
LNN: Some of the traits that separate your projects from other short films in the genre is the high production value and the acting. Are all of your actors versed in Lovecraftiana?
Joseph: None of the actors are HPL fans, some had never heard of him. I think this helps. They just look at Matt and I like we are crazy - makes us feel like true Lovecraft protagonists.
LNN: Do you even bother trying to explain the sensibility of cosmic horror your projects gleefully cultivate to the dolefully uninitiated?
Joseph: Elder Sign was shot in just under two hours and CCOC in a short day, so the talent didn't even know what hit them. There was no time for questions like, "What's my motivation?" Their motivation was the camera is going to be wrapped in 10 minutes. I will be using Jim (Doctor) and Dan (Plumber) in another short and a feature but I haven't told them yet so they purposely don't have time to research. And if they're reading this I am talking about another Jim and Dan who coincidentally also played a Doctor and a Plumber in a Lovecraftian short.
LNN: Tell us about your relationship with 4 Stroke; how did you get involved with them, and what do they bring to the table?
Joseph: I have worked with 4 Stroke and their founder for a number of years on various television projects. They are quick, creative, total craftsmen, and they don't ask a lot of questions. I brought them an image of a bunch of coral collaged together and said, "It should look like this but pulsing, constantly changing shape, and it hovers, and also it needs five tentacles so when it rests on the ground it leaves an impression like a massive footprint . . . but we won't see it do that." And they're like, "We'll have something by next Tuesday." Because I don't have real money to pay them they have complete creative freedom and I think it shows.
LNN: How does your work with these two short films and Lovecraft in general affect your daily life? (I.e. Is this just a hobby you do for fun or is it something more?)
Joseph: Is a hobby when you spend all your time and money on something you love and not get paid? 'Cause if it is then Lovecraft is a hobby. Actually it is more of a compulsion. We made CCOC for the soul purpose of entering it in the HPL Film Festival. Matt and I were talking about going to Portland, we were on set during some shoot and I looked around and thought, "we do this every day, surely we can make a short." It's a good thing we got in the show or it would have been awkward. Anyway, I sent the film around to a bunch of people who had shared HPL related stuff with me and people really liked it and asked what we were doing next . . . so we made Elder Sign. Then I wrote a long form piece based around some of the talent we had worked with, showed it to some people and they said, "let's shoot it." So now we're in preproduction on a feature.
LNN: Tell us about the responses you have received for these projects from fans and how they have fared at the various conventions and film festivals you have attended?
Joseph: Elder Sign is a huge hit with the RPG crowd. The video has been embedded in about 300 blogs and forums mostly related to gaming. I don't know why. I guess it is all part of nerdmosphere in which we spin. I've rolled the icosahedron and painted a few miniatures myself so it only raises my charisma to be accepted by that culture. But I certainly didn't expect it. CCOC on the other hand really took people by surprise, in a strange way. It was nominated for Best Comedy at Dragon*Con and the HPL Film Festival, it was heavily downloaded on Yog Sothoth, it was officially selected in 17 festivals around the world, but it did nothing virally. The whole thing is supposed to be Doctor Who meets Monty Python and by the time you get to the Yithian you are completely taken by surprise. But some viewers didn't even make it to the Yithian - I think they thought we were taking our prosthetics seriously.
LNN: What was the most horrifying moment in the creation or distribution of these films?
Joseph: Making the packaging for Elder Sign. You can read about it here:
That being said, both films can be purchased through Etsy, packaging handmade by me: (here)
LNN: What is the next step in distribution and festival participation for CCoC and Elder Sign?
Joseph: We are done with CCoC as it has had its run at the fests and most die-hard fans have seen it. Elder Sign on the other hand just showed at Fantasia in Montreal, it will be at Dragon*Con, Shocker Fest, and we are very pleased to announce Fantastic Fest in Austin.
LNN: What can we look forward to in the future with your company?
Joseph: We'll be shooting a sequel to Elder Sign at the end of August and the feature, Drawing Baphomet, starts shooting in September, a trailer will appear in the next few weeks. DB will be thick with HPL atmosphere and baddies (coming through corners of rooms no less) but we will maintain our sense of humour. It isn't a comedy but funny things happen.
LNN: Anything else you want to put on the record?
Joseph: Yes - support your local Lovecrafters - Yog Radio, HPLHS, Lurker Films, Arkham Bazaar, HP Podcast, John Coulthart, Paul Carrick, Unfilmable, all of them, buy a button, a sticker, a t-shirt, embed their link, just support them. They do it for the love of the genre and it keeps weird fiction alive for new audiences.
For more information about Joseph Nanni and his production company, visit his film blog here: http://castingcallofcthulhu.wordpress.com/
The Elder Sign DVD can be purchased online from this site here.
Chris Lackey and Chad Fifer are independent filmmakers from Santa Monica, and they have recently launched a new site entitled the "H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast."
"We're fans of Lovecraftian stories, movies, comics and the like," their site explains. "In each podcast, we discuss a specific H.P. Lovecraft story - what it's about, how it reads, why it may have been written and what other works of art it's influenced."
The free podcasts are each roughly one half hour long and are humorous, informative, and remain casual enough in nature that you don't have to have a PhD in crypotlinguistics to follow them, though a background in alien dialects certainly never hurts. In our experience thus far, we particularly enjoyed the fact that the commentary by Messrs Lackey and Fifer is interspersed with dramatic readings and sound effects, which adeptly serves to make the mini lectures highly enjoyable and worth coming back for week after week for a diverse audience.
Their latest production is an analysis of one of Lovecraft's lesser known short stories: "The Transition of Juan Romero."
Check out their website here:
The gleefully obfuscated world of Lovecraftian scholarship has had its fair share of literary heroes and erudite champions. Intrepid authors such as S.T. Joshi, Robert M. Price, and Lin Carter--to name just a few--have paved the way for a place next to Poe on the Gothic pedestal of pseudo-canonicity for everyone's favorite mechanistic materialist. (This we know to be only a humble beginning) However, the internet has afforded us insight into a new generation of previously unsung heroes in the field of dark scholarship.
Recent years have seen a surge in the production of numerous Master's theses and Doctoral dissertations featuring or including analysis and commentary of HPL. These cover a vast number of academic disciplines and are written in diverse languages. We were also thrilled to discover that some of these can be read by the public free of charge via the Networked Digital Library of Electronic Theses and Dissertations. We hope access to this resource is recognized and utilized by fans and academics alike.
Search the digital library here:
Here are a few works that caught our eye. . .
"CTHULHU LIVES!: A DESCRIPTIVE STUDY OF THE H.P. LOVECRAFT
HISTORICAL SOCIETY" by J. Michael Bestul
Master of Arts (MA), Bowling Green State University, Theatre and Film, 2006.
Despite the rich vein of possibilities for study that tabletop and live-action role-playing games present, few scholars have dug deeply. The goal of this study is to start digging. Operating at the crossroads of art and entertainment, theater and gaming, work and play, it seeks to add the live-action role-playing game, CTHULHU LIVES, to the discussion of performance studies. By studying the game and the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, one begins to see a unique medium that defies simple classification. Most importantly, this study looks at a performance entity that places “fun” directly at the center of its goals. There is plenty of discussion in general scholarship about performance styles that are political or artistic, or have some grand purpose. What is missing is what is found in this study: a description of CTHULHU LIVES, a performance medium that exists for the grandest of purposes, epic fun.
“BOOT CAMP FOR THE PSYCHE”: INOCULATIVE NONFICTION AND PRE-MEMORY STRUCTURES AS PREEMPTIVE TRAUMA MEDIATION IN FICTION AND FILM by Jacob M. Hodgen
Master of Arts, Department of English Brigham Young University, 2008
As a specific point of contact, this study will reread H.P. Lovecraft’s notion of “cosmic horror” as an example of the inoculative potentiality of textual horror. Though any number of horror texts or authors or might adequately function as examples for this section, Lovecraft is an ideal candidate for several reasons. First, while I contend that nearly all horror can be read as inoculative to some degree, most authors do not intend it outright, and I have already demonstrated how a text that is aware of it inoculative potentiality functions in the case
(Chapter 3) View thesis here:
If you find any more, send the links to us, and we will post them as well.
This fascinating article by David Klinghoffer, an eminent orthodox Jewish author, adopts a gleefully cynical perspective towards the trendy movement of progressive theologists who try and peacefully reconcile evolution with theology. It was posted on the BeliefNet forums, and you can still smell the brimstone cooking.
The following is lovingly quoted from BeliefNet: http://blog.beliefnet.com/kingdomofpriests/2009/07/hp-lovecraft-darwinisms-visionary-storyteller.html
H.P. Lovecraft, Darwinism's Visionary Storyteller
Picture a majestic T. rex receiving the tablets of the Ten Commandments in its undersized forelimbs, or an elegant octopus crucified on an old rugged cross with four crossbars instead of one.
Such images are what Kenneth Miller presumably has in mind with his comforting Darwinist thought that intelligent creatures were guaranteed to pop up even in the course of an evolutionary process of purely unguided, purposeless churning. You see, he tells us, evolution was bound to "converge" (as theorized by Simon Conway Morris) not necessarily on a human being but on -- well, as Miller has said, it could have been "a big-brained dinosaur, or... a mollusk with exceptional mental capabilities." Just for fun, let's grant the scientific merit of "convergence" -- though many Darwinists, in fact, do not. My argument here is not with Miller's science but with his imagination.
A Roman Catholic and a Brown University biologist, Ken Miller is one of those theistic evolutionists who want other religious believers to feel there's nothing in Darwin to offend religious sensibilities. He and others (such as Obama's favorite geneticist, Francis Collins) invite us to imagine God being delighted with such creatures, noble and impressive in their way, as the culmination of the evolutionary process that He chose not to guide. But what if the intelligent creature that resulted from all the purposeless churning, and that was intended to reflect God's own image, had been something really horrible?
That's the scenario that an author I enjoy, a committed Darwinist and atheist -- H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) -- allows us to contemplate. In his terrifically imaginative horror stories, most set in a spooky, antiquated New England, the great theme is that humanity is but a tiny, unimportant speck in an unimaginably vast universe that has cast up innumerable varieties of extraterrestrial beings, some of which have colonized our planet. Darwinists love him. If you follow PZ Myers's blog, you'll know PZ linked the other day to an "Unholy Bible" -- Holy Scriptures tweaked along Lovecraftian lines (Genesis 1:1: "In the beginning Cthulhu created R'lyeh and the earth").
Many of Lovecraft's creatures are so repellent that when a human being encounters them, he's as likely as not to die right there on the spot from the sheer terror. Here's a description of one, depicted in the form of a little statue at the beginning of "The Call of Cthulhu":
It seemed to be a sort of monster, or symbol representing a monster, of a form which only a diseased fancy could conceive. If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful. Behind the figure was a vague suggestion of a Cyclopean architectural background.
"Shockingly frightful"! Lovecraft writes in the opening paragraph of the same story:
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 light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
In his biography H.P. Lovecraft: A Life (Necronomicon Press), leading Lovecraft maven S.T. Joshi gives Darwin, Huxley, and Haeckel as Lovecraft's "chief philosophical influences." His reading went back to the Greek philosophers Democritus and Epicurus, but he got his Darwinism primarily by way of the English science and philosophy popularizer Hugh Elliot and from Darwin's foremost German disciple, Ernst Haeckel.
From Elliot, Lovecraft absorbed "the denial of teleology," of cosmic progress toward any particular goal, and "the denial of any form of existence other than those envisaged by physics and chemistry." Darwin was important for having refuted the "argument for design," thereby guaranteeing man's "comic insignificance."
Play the videotape of evolutionary history back again and Ken Miller imagines you get a charming brainy creature for God to play with -- something lovable and admirable. Lovecraft would have seen that as sentimental nonsense.
In a universe unguided by the intelligent purpose of a just, loving God, there's no reason to imagine that the intelligent creature or creatures that resulted from the endless churning would be nice, cute, or noble. The probability seems reasonably high -- why not? -- that they would be grotesque, obnoxious, loathsome, abhorrent, ghastly. Those are all, by the way, favorite adjectives with Lovecraft. He was big on adjectives, deploying them extravagantly. His fiction, over and over, asks us to consider the possibility that the university is filled with such horrors: "terrifying vistas of reality."
Here is his description of a shoggoth, another monster in his Cthulhu mythos (from "At the Mountains of Madness"):
It was a terrible, indescribable thing vaster than any subway train - a shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and un-forming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling front that bore down upon us, crushing the frantic penguins and slithering over the glistening floor that it and its kind had swept so evilly free of all litter.
"They were the hellish tracks of the living fungi from Yuggoth," is a characteristic Lovecraftian sentence ("The Whisperer in Darkness").
In his Introduction to The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (Penguin Classics), S.T. Joshi reminds us that Lovecraft has to be appreciated "in the context of the philosophical thought that he evolved over a lifetime of study and observation. The core of that thought...is mechanistic materialism." Lovecraft dealt not with the supernatural but with the "supernormal," as Joshi puts it -- the unrealized side of material reality. The terrible possibilities he raises follow from that philosophy.
Sure, they're just stories -- and often kind of silly ones at that, though wickedly entertaining. Yet after reading him, you can't comfortably go back to the naïve Ken Miller way of thinking that Darwinian evolutionary was somehow certain to provide God with children over whom He would approve with the Biblical formulation, "And behold it was very good."
Quoted from Variety: http://www.variety.com/VR1118001657.html
Universal and Imagine Entertainment are gearing up for "The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft."
The studio has bought the film rights to Image Comics’ graphic novel, with the project a potential directing vehicle for Ron Howard. The book bows April 8. U sparked to "Lovecraft" because its take on classic horror fits in well with the studio’s library of monster fare featuring Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy and the Wolf Man, the last of which is being brought back to the bigscreen later this year.
Lovecraft, who died in 1937, is considered one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century.
Carter, a commercial director, will pen the script and serve as executive producer alongside Blitz. Carter and Blitz both helmed commercials for Anonymous Content, working on spots for such clients as McDonald’s, Yahoo, Coca-Cola and Toyota. Carter has since gone solo and has helmed more than 100 ads for clients.
Imagine’s Brian Grazer and Howard are producers. David Bernardi, shingle’s senior VP, and director of development, Chris Wade, will serve as co-producers.
Quoted from the Anchorage Daily News: http://www.adn.com/2835/story/864687.html
Huge blob of Arctic goo floats past Slope communitiesSomething big and strange is floating through the Chukchi Sea between Wainwright and Barrow.
Hunters from Wainwright first started noticing the stuff sometime probably early last week. It's thick and dark and "gooey" and is drifting for miles in the cold Arctic waters, according to Gordon Brower with the North Slope Borough's Planning and Community Services Department.
Brower and other borough officials, joined by the U.S. Coast Guard, flew out to Wainwright to investigate. The agencies found "globs" of the stuff floating miles offshore Friday and collected samples for testing.
Later, Brower said, the North Slope team in a borough helicopter spotted a long strand of the stuff and followed it for about 15 miles, shooting video from the air.
The next day the floating substance arrived offshore from Barrow, about 90 miles east of Wainwright, and borough officials went out in boats, collected more samples and sent them off for testing too.Nobody knows for sure what the gunk is, but Petty Officer 1st Class Terry Hasenauer says the Coast Guard is sure what it is not.
"It's certainly biological," Hasenauer said. "It's definitely not an oil product of any kind. It has no characteristics of an oil, or a hazardous substance, for that matter.
"It's definitely, by the smell and the makeup of it, it's some sort of naturally occurring organic or otherwise marine organism."
Something else: No one in Barrow or Wainwright can remember seeing anything like this before, Brower said.
"That's one of the reasons we went out, because in recent history I don't think we've seen anything like this," he said. "Maybe inside lakes or in stagnant water or something, but not (in the ocean) that we could recall ...
"If it was something we'd seen before, we'd be able to say something about it. But we haven't ...which prompted concerns from the local hunters and whaling captains."
The stuff is "gooey" and looks dark against the bright white ice floating in the Arctic Ocean, Brower said.
"It's pitch black when it hits ice and it kind of discolors the ice and hangs off of it," Brower said. He saw some jellyfish tangled up in the stuff, and someone turned in what was left of a dead goose -- just bones and feathers -- to the borough's wildlife department.
"It kind of has an odor; I can't describe it," he said.
Hasenauer said he hasn't heard any reports of waterfowl or marine animals turning up.
Brower said it wouldn't necessarily surprise him if the substance turns out to be some sort of naturally occurring phenomenon, but the borough is waiting until it gets the analysis back from the samples before officials say anything more than they're not sure what it is.
"From the air it looks brownish with some sheen, but when you get close and put it up on the ice and in the bucket, it's kind of blackish stuff ... (and) has hairy strands on it."
Hasenauer said the Coast Guard's samples are being analyzed in Anchorage. Results may be back sometime next week, he said.
The two Coast Guard experts sent up to overfly the area with the borough said they saw nothing that resembled an oil slick, Hasenauer said.
"We brought back one sample of what they believe to be an algae," he said, and a big algae bloom is one possibility.
"It's textbook for us to consider algae because of all the false reports of oil spills we've had in the past. It's one of the things that typically comes up" when a report turns out not to be an oil spill after all.
But, he said, "there's all types of natural phenomena that it could be."
Meanwhile, the brownish-blackish gunk is drifting along the coast to the northeast, Brower said.
"This stuff is moving with the current," he said. "It's now on beyond Barrow and probably going north at this point. And people are still encountering it out here off Barrow."
For the most part, the mystery substance seems to have stayed away from shore.
"We did get some residents saying it was being pushed against the shoreline by ice in some areas," Brower said, "but then we get another east wind and it gets pushed back out there."
Quoted from the Huffington Post:
San Diego residents were stunned when dozens of dazed giant squid washed up on La Jolla beach after an earthquake. One resident said she's never seen anything like this in 42 years. It's unclear whether it was the initial earthquake or the aftershock that jolted the huge squid onto the beach.
The following footage was allegedly shot by a plumber in the sewers of North Carolina. Several biologists have weighed in on the debate and believe--to our bittersweet joy--that the creature is NOT a shoggoth. Instead, the current best guess is that it is a mass of annelid worms, probably Tubifex. Worms or not, this is not something we would ever want to meet in dark alley at night sans heavy weaponry. -LNN
Quoted from the Onion: http://www.theonion.com/content/news/lovecraftian_school_board_member
Lovecraftian School Board Member Wants Madness Added To Curriculum
ARKHAM, MA—Arguing that students should return to the fundamentals taught in the Pnakotic Manuscripts and the Necronomicon in order to develop the skills they need to be driven to the very edge of sanity, Arkham school board member Charles West continued to advance his pro-madness agenda at the district's monthly meeting Tuesday.
"Fools!" said West, his clenched fist striking the lectern before him. "We must prepare today's youth for a world whose terrors are etched upon ancient clay tablets recounting the fever-dreams of the other gods—not fill their heads with such trivia as math and English. Our graduates need to know about those who lie beneath the earth, waiting until the stars align so they can return to their rightful place as our masters and wage war against the Elder Things and the shoggoths!"
The controversial school board member reportedly interrupted a heated discussion about adding fresh fruit to school lunches in order to bring his motion to the table. With the aid of a flip chart, West laid out his six-point plan for increased madness, which included field trips to the medieval metaphysics department at Miskatonic University, instruction in the incantations of Yog-Sothoth, and a walkathon sponsored by local businesses to raise money for the freshman basketball program.
"Our schools are orderly, sanitary places where students dwell in blissful ignorance of the chaos that awaits," West said. "Should our facilities be repaired? No, they must be razed to the ground and rebuilt in the image of the Cyclopean dwellings of the Elder Gods, the very geometry of which will drive them to be possessed by visions of the realms beyond."
West has served on the school board since 1997, when he defeated 89-year-old incumbent Doris Pesce by promising to enforce dress codes and refer repeat disciplinary cases to the three-lobed burning eye. He has run unopposed ever since.
"Charles sure likes to bang on that madness drum," fellow school board member Danielle Kolker said. "I'm not totally sold on his plan to let gibbering, half-formed creatures dripping with ichor feed off the flesh and fear of our students. But he is always on time to help set up for our spaghetti suppers, and his bake sale goods are among the most popular."
"I must admit, he's very convincing," Kolker added.
West's previous failed proposals include requiring the high school band to perform the tuneless flute songs of the blind idiot god Azathoth and offering art students instruction in the carving of morbid and obscene fetishes from otherworldly media.
Several parents attending the meeting were not impressed by West's outburst.
"Last month, he wanted us to change the high school's motto from 'Many Kinds of Excellence' to 'Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn,'" PTA member Cathy Perry said. "I asked if it was Latin, and he said that it was the eldritch tongue of Shub- Niggurath, the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young. I don't know from eldritch tongues, but I'm not sure that's such a good idea."
"We already changed the name of the school from Abraham Lincoln High to Nyarlathotep Academy," Perry added. "What more does he want?"
Immediately before the vote on his motion, which was defeated eight to one, West gave his final remarks, arguing that the children are our future and that it's the school board's obligation to make sure they are fully versed in the unspeakable horrors still to come.
"In the information age, it is easier than ever to gather knowledge about things that should not be but nonetheless are, and such wisdom could prepare our students to be better citizens amid the ruins of sunken cities infested with swarms of ravenous, bloated rats," West said. "Also, I believe that birth control should not be distributed by the guidance counselor."
All of West's remaining proposals were tabled so the board could debate repairing the hole in the locker-room wall, as five students have disappeared in the adjacent skull-filled catacombs since the opening was discovered last week.
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"Sometimes I believe that this less material life is our truer life, and that our vain presence on the terraqueous globe is itself the secondary or merely virtual phenomenon." -HPL
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