Monday, October 3, 2011

Someday, I'll Build One ...

And for once, I'm not referring to a pirate ship. Though that be on me list!

No, I'm talking about a different sort of craft entirely. As many of you know, I am a HUGE fan of H.P. Lovecraft, and consider him to be the father of modern horror. True, some of his writing is almost painfully dull, and when he goes on one of his racist tirades - although I do keep in mind that he was writing in the '20s, which was not the most enlightened of times in terms of racial integration and understanding - I'm tempted to give up on him. But when I reread "The Call of Cthulhu," "The Shadow over Innsmouth," or "The Dunwich Horror," I'm reminded why I love his brand of weird tales so much.

One of Lovecraft's strong points is that he completely avoided the whole cliche of good vs. evil in his writings. It's not that the monsters and villains are evil; they just don't care or don't even notice humanity at all! To Lovecraft, humanity is to the Old Ones and their cults what a bug is to a car on the highway: barely noticeable, aside from the debris on the windshield. When conflict occurs between humanity (usually represented by one or two people who are unlucky enough to get caught in the wrong place and wrong time) and the beasties, the outcome is usually uncertain or at best a draw. To me, this is how horror should be. Not ending with a celebration, but not ending with utter defeat, either (I'm talking to you, Skeleton Key!). The protagonists may have forced the chaos back, but there's always the knowledge that humanity isn't safe, was never safe, and will never be safe.

Anyway, Lovecraft has a rather cultish fan base, and there are podcasts, games, and people selling props and replicas of items from his stories (I have a diploma from the fictitious Miskatonic University - a PhD in Theoretical Realities, in case you were curious). Today I came across instructions to build a cemetery plot for Lovecraft! Once the Dude gets old enough, one of the Father-Son activities I've planned is for us to go nuts and build a haunted yard display. You can bet that this is going to be one of the central pieces!

In the meantime, though, I must return to the drudgery of work. Ugh. At least I am making money that I can put (although One Ring generally terms this as waste) towards these projects!

Read more!

Friday, September 30, 2011

It's the MOST WONDERFUL TIME of the Year!

And if anyone says, "Christmas" they will be strung up from the yardarm!

Nope, it's the Halloween season. 31 days of wonderful craziness that envelops everything that I enjoy thinking about: mythology, alternate realities, books, movies, and all sorts of things that go bump in the night.

Made the slight error of watching two horror films last night - From Beyond (a H.P. Lovecraft inspired flick) and The Night Flier (based on a Stephen King short story). Neither was worth writing home about, to be honest, but each had a couple of memorable scenes. I've been on the hunt for good horror movies lately. It's a yearly thing; usually around September I start looking at the "Best of" lists on the internet and see if there are any I haven't seen. Usually I hit duds, but occasionally I find some movies that were either limited releases or direct to video that are unbelievably good. Let the Right One In (remade in the U.S. as "Let Me In") and Trick R Treat are two of my greatest finds. I'm also fond of Le Pacte de Loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf), which is based on a historical event in France.

What I haven't been able to find are horror movies based at sea. I've seen Ghost Ship, and a few films that have sea monsters, but I'm looking for a good film that combines my loves - nautical / pirate tales and horror. I mean, the closest I've seen* (not to say there isn't anything out there; I just haven't found it yet!) is the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. And that is about as scary as my beagle! It's really hard to believe that no one has jumped on this subject yet! Lovecraft wrote several stories centering in and around the sea, and there are written works by others, of course. But movies? Nothing uncovered yet.

The search for buried treasure goes on ...

*and before anyone says, "What about The Fog????" please note that I have seen it and while it is an awesome horror movie, there are a couple of things that keep it from satisfying my craving for nautical horror: 1) it doesn't take place on a ship of any kind, and 2) the ghosts are lepers, not pirates. Still, it is a highly recommended and very enjoyable and scary film.

Read more!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Avast! This be Ye Captain Speakin'

Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Now hoist ye colors and get about plunderin', pillagin', drinkin' and makin' a general nuisance of ye'self!

Read more!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Arrr! Pass Me Th' Gravy Boat, If Ye Please!

Yes. Pirates apparently liked fine dining.

An archeological dig 15 miles up the Belize River has uncovered a pirate hideout dating circa 1720 has revealed, among other things, Chinese Porcelain! While glasses and cups were not found, suggesting that the pirates drank straight from the bottle - and what's wrong with that? - fragments of porcelain plates, bowls, and containers have been uncovered. There were also vast quantities of clay pipes, so the boys apparently loved their smokes.

... and gravy boats. Apparently the time period was stranger than we thought!

You can read the rest of the article here.

Read more!

One More Thing ...

Mystic Revolution - a webcomic that I occasionally read during my more boring moments at work - is doing a "Ninja vs. Pirate" subplot.

A little bit of background: MR is set in a fantasy online game world. Think World of Warcraft and similar MMO titles. So the characters are avatars of gamers, and the storyline often reflects things that take place in MMOs - like player vs. player tournaments. That's what's going on now, which explains how a ninja and a pirate would run into each other.

One caveat, though: the pirate is the villain of the piece, as the ninja is one of the main characters. Be sure to let the comic's writer know how outraged you are. Pirates will ALWAYS be cooler than ninjas!

You can pick up the action here. To start the comic from the beginning, click on the link located on the sidebar.

Now back to my rapidly shrinking lunch break. Sigh.

Read more!

Recoverin' and Book Learnin'

I'm just getting back on my feet after having some abdominal surgery. Nothing major, but enough to put me on my back for a couple of weeks. Even now, I'm having trouble with my energy levels (Wind gets knocked out of my sails, easily, I mean), and I'm still not supposed to lift anything more than 10 lbs. Problem is, the Dude weighs in at 20 now, so I've been breaking that rule a bit, certainly more than One Ring approves.

Fortunately, though, One Ring gave me a Kindle for my birthday, so I've been able to read a couple of books. Of particular interest has been The Sea Rover's Practice: Pirate Tactics and Techniques, 1630-1730 by Bennerson Little. Little is a former U.S. Navy SEAL, and his knowledge of strategy certainly shows.

What's really been interesting in this book (I'm only about halfway through; it was often difficult to read for long stretches when medication kept knocking me out!), is how the author contrasts what pirate enthusiasts like to stress about the era (Jolly Rogers, broadside cannon fusillades, and easily recognizable attire) and the reality of prize taking. Suffice to say that pirates then were more similar to the modern rovers operating off Somalia and Indonesia than any of us fun loving, rum drinking, swashbuckling types would ever like to admit.

Little does more than just point out the Hollywood and Talk Like a Pirate Day (11 days away!) inaccuracies, though. There's more than enough adventure, deception, and intrigue left in the historical record for our love of all things pyratical to continue. It's just a fair warning that I'm giving: don't expect too much of Disney's famous fictional captain to be left intact. Of course, none of us who have done any research into the era already knew that.

All in all, a good read, and a fair examination of the realities of the era. Enjoy!

Read more!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Well, Yeah, I Suppose It's Piracy

But it seems a wee bit less manly than, say, raiding shipping in the Caribbean in the 17th century!

I'm talking about Book Piracy.

Blackbeard is rolling in his grave (minus his head, of course!).

Read more!