Friday, December 26, 2008

Break

I hope the ghost of Lovecraft will let me have a little time off. :)

A bit over 1600 posts and over 54,000 reads: Thank YOU!

Enjoy your presents, find a loved one, and embrace. See you soon.

-Chrispy.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

From 1906.
No connection to Lovecraft, just a cool vintage card.
Lovecraft would have been 16.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Another Scene From The Lovecraftian Horror of Potterville


{Note the Image of Cthulhu on the wall, and the hideous lobster clawed hands. Ia!!}

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Lovecraftian Horror of Potterville


{If you look closely, as George flees from the "Ct'ulhu Club", in the top left hand window, a tentacular and bloody horror is taking place. Other shadowy brachiae play about in the top right hand window.}
{Ok, it's more impressionism, but I had to lightly freehand with a mouse and MS Paint.)
"I've got hold of some bad whiskey, or something," George wheezed. "Strange things have happened since a bloody thing got Clarence and dragged him to the Netherworld. I've seen froggish-faced men at the Dime-A-Dance - and worse."
"Listen, Bub, I got my own problems. My Boss, up those stairs, is pretty demanding. It's sacrifice this, and sacrifice that, all night long. And if that weren't bad enough to scour my soul to Hell, there's Old Man Potter. He makes the "Thing up the Stairs" seem like a lap cat."
George tapped the bar twice, and the bartender grasped a bottle of scotch with a lobster-like claw and poured two fingers in a filthy shot glass - straight, no ice.
"You can drink all you want, but a nothingness like you ain't gonna get drunk. Ya never existed, the Whisperers say, so at least the Boss ain't gonna eat ya. However, Potter may have a few things he wants to do to ya, and I wouldn't wish that abhorent domdaniel of evil on a piece of fungal slime. God help ya, if there be a God left."
At that moment screams of women came from up the stairs, and George knew immediately one the voices. He wished that not only could lose the hearing in his formerly-bad-ear, but go completely deaf. It was a tortured voice he'd known from the age of 9; it was the voice of Violet - and the way it was strangled into silence, he knew that Violet was no more.
He threw his drink away, and bolted through the door; pushed past two men in worn haberdashery and half rotted faces, and then out into the snowy night. He fled, heart pounding, while behind him the screams from the upper rooms of the Ct'ulhu Club only seemed to increase in agony. Those horrid sounds seared their sounds in his brain as if pressing a hot wax record. He'd play that sound of terror over and over in the days to come ...
_____
Actually, It's A Wonderful Life is one of my holiday favorites, and I never fail to shed tears at the end - sentimentalist that I am. Still, the terrible horror portrayed in the film belies the Capracorn and really makes you wonder about the creepy doings behind the facade of Potterville.

Chris Perridas' New Essay



We interupt this blog for an announcement. Chrispy has been frequently asked - "when is PART TWO of your Waverly Hills essay coming out." Well, it's HERE. Part two exposits my hair-raising interpretations of my experiences in Waverly Hills. Pictures included. (It really was weird being there. Spooky stuff did happen.)

If you missed part 1 fear not. It's now FREE. The publishers are taking a chance that if you like it in pdf, you're going to buy it and cherish it as a collector's item in print. Get a free pdf here.



Who knows, with this economy, paper may become more valuable than gold leaf.

Click here. for more news, and to order part 2. Fran Friel posted an image of issue 10, which I just received tonight. There's a contest to WIN a copy. Sign up. More... here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

At the Mountains of Mars: Icy Madness?

^Antarctica^
^Mars^

A century after Lovecraft's dalliance at Upton's telescope and meeting Percival Loweel, another Brown University professor makes news.
Using radar from an orbiting spacecraft to penetrate the hidden recesses of Mars, planetary prospectors have uncovered vast reserves of water-ice buried beneath rocky debris. The ice resides in hilly sections of the Red Planet’s southern and northern mid-latitudes and amounts to the largest reservoir of frozen water outside of Mars’ polar regions. The ice could be equal to as much as 10 percent of the volume of frozen water in the planet’s polar ice caps.
Jack Holt of the University of Texas in Austin ... & Jim Head of Brown University in Providence, R.I., describe the radar evidence for the buried ice deposits in the Nov. 21 Science and in an upcoming Geophysical Research Letters.
_____
Evidence is building that microbial life forms NOT on the surface of a planet (or moon) but a few miles beneath the surface where temperatures are above 250 F and the pressure makes steam remain a liquid. Iron, sulfur, and organic molecules, make the primordial soup and from thence the microorganisms percolate to the surface. Once at the surface, such as Old Faithful in Yellowstone, or a deep sea vent, they leak out, engage the new environment as exophiles, and begin combining into complex bacteria, yeasts, molds, and so forth until more and more complex life forms.
We have examples of the same funtions of life - eyes, teeth, all the way to large scale organisms- being created on Earth multiple places and multiple epochs. If it happened here, over and over, each time a meteor wiped out life, it is happening on other worlds, other solar systems, and in other galazies and times. The laws of chemistry and physics seem to be consistent throughout our 13+ billion years and everywhere we look.





Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Interlude


Haven't you ever wondered what would happen to animated candy in a Lovecraft scenario?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Squid Riots: Real Life Cthulhu News


Great Cthulhu stirred, and Mankind flinched. It stared as a tremor of a dream filtering through the minds of mortals as a filament of smoke might at first flit unnoticed under a street light. But to those sensatives, a portion of the brain was excited to a fever frenzy. Thus the madness began. -CP


[Yes, these are real stories pulled from Saturday night's internet news services.]
____

Dateline: New Zealand
Collosal squid attracts monster fan club
by DEIDRE MUSSEN - Sunday Star Times Sunday, 14 December 2008

A giant squid yesterday pulled in more than twice the usual number of Saturday visitors to Te Papa. Up to 6500 people queued for the first opportunity to see the world's only displayed colossal squid.
About 100 people sprinted to the 495kg creature's 6m tank inside Wellington's museum when the doors opened at 10am.
The squid, the largest of the museum's three specimens of the world's largest invertebrate, proved a gigantic hit.
"It's huge," said a wide-eyed Inzimam Ali, seven, of Johnsonville, who pestered his parents for a week to visit the exhibition after seeing a billboard about it.
"It makes me hate the sea," said Lena Riki, 20, of Upper Hutt, who took her children, three-year-old Iranui and 12-month-old Arapeta to the exhibition.
The colossal squid has also created a giant worldwide frenzy. When scientists thawed it in April, the BBC reported it was the most globally viewed internet story for the week.

_____

Dateline: Spain
Vandals wreck world's largest giant squid collection
By: thinnkSPAIN, Saturday, December 13, 2008

According to the president of the Centre for the Study and Protection of Marine Species (CEPESMA), vandals have caused around €24,00 euros worth of damage to the world's largest collection of giant squid at the Aula del Mar exhibition centre in Villar, near Valdés,
Luis Laria explained that, since last summer, vandals got in by taking advantage of a temporary door, smashed windows and broke display cases containing male and female giant squids each measuring ten metres long as well as skeletons of whales, tortoises, marine birds and fossils.
Describing their actions as "deplorable," the naturalist said that what hurt most was the "complete lack of respect" shown for fifteen years' hard work.
The CEPESMA exhibiition houses 21 examples of giant squid, which, although common on the Cantabrian coast, have never been filmed in their natural habitat.

_____

Dateline: USA
HOME-SCHOOLING: 'Unit study' opens up learning
by Kate TsubataSunday, December 14, 2008

Maryland home-schoolers Wendy and Eric Pavlat have been educating their six children since the birth of their first, some 11 years ago, but officially for seven years. Eric is a high school teacher, Wendy a medical researcher with Johns Hopkins who decided to put family ahead of career. ... Take, for instance, the giant squid. When her son requested a "Squid Day," Wendy happily complied, and they immersed themselves in the world of squid: eating squid hot dogs, playing with squid puppets and answering questions about squid. As they delved deeper into the subject, they decided to create a scale model of the 60-foot leviathan out of a long roll of paper, and hit upon the only possible surface on which to display it: the ceiling. The giant squid's portrait stretched from the front door through all the rooms of the house. To get a sense of the scale, they then created outlines of themselves swimming on the ceiling with the squid. ...

_____

Dateline: USA
Everything's in season for squid along Pacific Coast
by Tom Stienstra Sunday, December 7, 2008

Out of Half Moon Bay, 100 miles out to sea, the ocean surface erupted for a half mile in a froth of white water and tentacles.
"The squid were eating a school of fish," said commercial fisherman Bob Longstreth. "I've seen them out there. Serious predators."
In another episode, a gang of Humboldt squid had circled the boat New Salmon Queen from Emeryville. The squid were in full attack, with the anglers aboard hooking up on every drop. Capt. Craig Shimukuzu got out his video camera to film the action and as he pressed the record button, the ocean "blew up" - a pod of 10 killer whales came to the surface in a feeding frenzy of their own, slashing the squid to bits with their teeth.
On Thursday morning out of Bodega Bay, 20 fishermen aboard the New Sea Angler caught an estimated 15,000 pounds of Humboldt squid in 90 minutes; 400 squid that averaged 30 pounds and topped out at 70, with 90 percent of them hooked near the surface. Capt. Rick Powers said he found the squid on the northwest edge of Cordell Bank.
Humboldt squid were first seen off California in 1930, then not again until the El Niño year of 1997. They disappeared again for five years, but since 2002, they have been here to stay, according to the Monterey Bay Research Institute, taking over new territory. They are best known off the coast of South America, and in recent years, Baja California, but have expanded their range north along the Pacific Coast.
They are one of the fastest growing creatures in the world, transforming from a single cell to as much as 100 pounds during an average life span of about one year. They average 15 to 60 pounds and measure up to 6 feet long.
"They're an eating machine," Powers said. "They eat their body weight daily."
Humboldt squid are built for the job. They have 10 tentacles that are filled with teeth-lined sucker cups, including two extended tentacles that pull victims into razor-sharp beaks. "We've seen them eat each other," said Craig Stone at Emeryville Sportfishing.

Crypt of Cthulhu 61

Saturday, December 13, 2008

December 2008 : Convergence of Perigee and Full Moon


Lovecraft was NOT a fan of hillbiilies and such, but he might smile askance at the Patsy Cline (1963) lyrics had he have heard them twang out: Blue moon of Kentucky keep on shining. Shine on the one that's gone and left me blue ...

Well, it wasn't a BLUE moon yesterday, but it was a WEIRD full moon. (A blue moon has several meanings, but of recent vintage - though spurious - it means two full moons in one month.) I'll rely on National Geographic to fill in the details. Lovecraft WOULD have enojoyed seeing Perigee and Full Moon convergence. If any weird things happened to YOU under the "Long Nights" moon let us know.



_____

Although a full moon happens every month, the one that rises tomorrow will appear about 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than the other full moons seen so far this year. That's because our cosmic neighbor will be much closer than usual. The moon will be at its closest perigee — the nearest it gets to Earth during its egg-shaped orbit around our planet.

At its farthest from Earth, the moon is said to be at apogee.

Perigee and apogee each happen generally once a month, but the moon's wobbly orbit means that its exact distance at each of those events varies over the year.

The moon's phase can also be different during each apogee and perigee.

"Typically we don't have the full moon phase and perigee coinciding at the same time, so that makes this event particularly special," said Ed Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California.

What's more, tomorrow's event will be the closest lunar perigee since 1993, at 221,560 miles (356,566 kilometers) from Earth.

The moon's farthest apogee for the year will occur a couple weeks later on December 26, when the natural satellite will be 252,650 miles (406,601 kilometers) from Earth.

_____

11 year old Lovecraft would have experiencd a nice Full Moon on 1901 Dec 25 12:15 (Wed) - other full moon events: on 1920 Dec 25 12:39 (Sat); he would have had it on Christmas Eve on 1912 Dec 24 04:30 (Tue ) and 1931 Dec 24 23:24 (Thu)

_____

Perigee and Paogee calculator -

http://www.fourmilab.ch/earthview/pacalc.html

Crypt of Cthulhu 52, 53, 55



Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fungii From Yuggoth: 21st Century?

Thanks to T Peter for this article. Lovecraft was convinced of a tenth planet (really a 9th in his day - Pluto came along in the 1930's) in our solar system.

Wow, have we come aong way!

_____

09 December 2008
Hubble finds carbon dioxide on an extrasolar planet

The Jupiter-sized planet, called HD 189733b, is too hot for life. But
new Hubble observations are a proof-of-concept demonstration that the
basic chemistry for life can be measured on planets orbiting other
stars. Organic compounds can also be a by-product of life processes and
their detection on an Earth-like planet may someday provide the first
evidence of life beyond Earth.

Previous observations of HD 189733b by Hubble and the Spitzer Space
Telescope found water vapour. Earlier this year Hubble found methane in
the planet’s atmosphere.

"This is exciting because Hubble is allowing us to see molecules that
probe the conditions, chemistry, and composition of atmospheres on
other planets," says first author Mark Swain of The Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, USA. "Thanks to Hubble we're entering an era
where we are rapidly going to expand the number of molecules we know
about on other planets."

The international team of astronomers used Hubble's Near Infrared
Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) to study infrared light
emitted from the planet, which lies 63 light-years away. Gases in the
planet's atmosphere absorb certain wavelengths of light from the
planet's hot glowing interior. The team identified not only carbon
dioxide, but also carbon monoxide. The molecules leave their own unique
spectral fingerprint on the radiation from the planet that reaches
Earth. This is the first time a near-infrared emission spectrum has
been obtained for an extrasolar planet.

"The carbon dioxide is kind of the main focus of the excitement,
because that is a molecule that under the right circumstances could
have a connection to biological activity as it does on Earth," Swain
says. "The very fact that we're able to detect it, and estimate its
abundance, is significant for the long-term effort of characterizing
planets both to find out what they’re made of and to find out if they
could be a possible host for life."

Crypt of Cthulhu 46, 48, 49, 50





Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Lovecraft and Math

At a late date, Lovecraft's Aunt took on a school class as a substitute teacher and called on Lovecraft to assist in grading math papers. He was able to do this, but with great difficulty.

That's a bit surprising since he once wished to be an astronomer (or chemist). He obviously had an amazing memory, and yet didn't graduate from high school. At an earlky age, he had tutors who helped, and visiting Brown University professors noticed him, and attempted to groom him for an academic career - Appleton and Upton, for instance.

Then, *poof*. Even before his grandfather died, he was doing poorly in school, and missed a great deal of class time.

Studies show that talents such as writing, history, and so forth can be maintained over a summer - or other extended breaks - but not math. Children who practice math by going to summer school, or science camp, do exceedinlgly well the following term, but children who do nothing over the summer break lose and have to do remedial work to catch up and maintain what they'd learned the previous term. Lovecraft, then, was doomed. His long illnesses would have made him a wretched math student, and even with rote memorization, his applications of those techniques would have been rusty. It's unknown how many real calculations he did in his amateur astronomy, but his newspaper articles quote facts and statistics, and not actually how to perform math.

A new article may shed more light on how Lovecraft failed to achieve his goal of being an astronomer.

FOR KIDS: Math is a real brain bender

Learning mathematics may make the brain reorganize the way it worksBy Tia Ghose Web edition : Monday, December 8th, 2008 Text Size Zoom
MATH ON THE MINDPracticing arithmetic may cause the brain to restructure its processes, helping kids move from rough estimates to symbolic, precise math at older ages.

As kids grow up, the parts of the brain used to do math problems change. In elementary school kids, a region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex lights up while doing arithmetic.

But by the time kids become adults, that region takes a backseat when crunching numbers, and another part of the brain, called the left superior temporal gyrus, kicks in. A nearby region called the parietal cortex also plays a bigger role in adults’ calculations.

Scientists have shown that the left superior temporal gyrus may help connect the sounds of speech to written letters. The region may also get in gear when you play an instrument, helping you link the sound of your clarinet solo to the notes written on sheet music. It’s possible that this part of the brain helps adults tie the symbols for numbers to precise amounts, says Daniel Ansari, of the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. Ansari and his colleagues conducted the study that uncovered the shift in brain regions used for math.

To understand how the brain tackles math at different ages, Ansari’s team matched 19 children, ages 6 to 9, with 19 adults, ages 18 to 24. The researchers showed both groups pairs of written numbers from one to 10, and then asked the kids and adults to say which number was bigger. Next, the people were shown pairs of images — each one with a group of one to 10 squares. The volunteers were asked to say which image in the pair had more squares. During the experiment, the scientists took pictures of the participants’ brains using a functional MRI scanner. This machine measures blood flow, which offers clues about the activity of certain regions of the participants’ brains during each task.

Adults performed the tasks better than children, but it took everyone longer to choose the bigger amount when the difference between the numbers was smaller. (For instance, deciding if two squares is more than three squares was harder than comparing one square and nine squares.)

The scientists found that as the numbers got closer together, the parietal cortex got more active in adults, but didn’t rev up in kids’ brains.

“Our results demonstrate that the brain basis of number processing changes as a function of development and experience,” Ansari says.

The findings suggest that people’s ability to link symbols with precise quantities builds on an older system used to gauge rough amounts. Animals like monkeys use this older number sense, for instance, to estimate the better deal when choosing between handfuls of sunflower seeds.

After many years of math problems, however, people’s parietal cortex takes over from the older system, jumpstarting translation of approximate amounts into symbolic, precise numerals. And after even more practice, the left superior temporal gyrus takes over major math tasks, Ansari suspects.

Power words:

MRI

Short for magnetic resonance imaging, MRI is a method that uses magnets to create pictures of internal organs, especially the brain.

Functional MRI

This type of MRI tracks blood flow in the brain by measuring oxygen levels. The changes in blood flow give scientists hints about which parts of the brain are most active during certain tasks.

Crypt of Cthulhu 36, 37, 38, 39




Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Meteor Report: 1929

Lovecraft would have no doubt spotted this article in the NYT. It comes from the very cool site: Water UFO: http://www.waterufo.net/nodate.php?date=1067_1946

_____

June 11, 1929

SEES GIANT METEOR FALL
Prospector Reports One “Big as a Ship” Hitting Lake Superior.

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. June 18 (Canadian Press). -- A strange tale was brought down to “The Soo” today from Michipicoten Island by Frank Kushick, a prospector, who said a huge meteor "about the size of a ship" fell into Lake Superior close to the island about 10 o'clock on the night of June 11. The meteor illuminated the island brilliantly and created a rumbling noise which was heard at Puckasaw and Pipe Rivers, twenty and twelve miles away, respectively, for two minutes after it fell.

Kushick’s story is supported by his brother Gordon and Augusta Weidman, camped about two miles away on the island.

The meteor fell between the island and the mainland, and there appeared to be two balls of fire, either following the meteor closely or attached to it. The air was full of sparks, he said. Quite a sea arose after the meteor struck the water. The rumbling noise is believed to have been caused by boiling water.
This is the original reference: N.Y. Times, June 19, 1929, p. 14

Crypt of Cthulhu 28, 30


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