Wednesday, August 31, 2011

By the Light of a Gibbous Moon

(Art from "I Think I Went Mad" blog).

Here is an interesting new book out. It contains short fiction inspired by HP Lovecraft and is now released as a Kindle book. House of Yig is one of those stories, and this can be found free here (click).

It begins:

House of Yig
I, Father John Marylebone, have promised to record the statement of the Pocumtuck Indian called ‘Blind Crow’ exactly as spoken. This particular Pocumtuck is a fine reader of the English language, and has some letters as well, but he insists that his tale be recorded by a more learned man. He has done much work with the Church as we help the Pocumtuck people come into the Light of Christ, so I am happy to oblige.
Firstly I must set down, at my subject’s grave insistence, that he is not called ‘Blind Crow’ because he is old and sightless. It is an affectionate jibe chosen for him because of his clumsiness with tools and, I speculate, also because of his croaking laugh. It is a laugh unheard in Deerfield Township for many a long month now.


Welcome to Cluthu Country

That is not a typo, Lovecraftians. Salute !! to our brothers and sisters of New Zealand, and highlight on:

Situated in the Cluthu River valley on highway 1 and Cluthu Valley Road lies the rural New Zealand paradise featuring the town of Balcluthu.

What more could a Lovecraftian want for relaxation?

The heritage of Clutha Country is rich and diverse. From Early Maori to European exploration, right through to the days of the gold rush and the hum of industry, the story of Clutha makes for a good yarn. Here's a quick rundown on our little slice of history...

Clutha Country’s rivers flow from inland mountains and lakes, creating fertile plains and verdant valleys. The magnificent coastline rich with sea life provided Clutha Country’s first great industry, and introduced the first colonial era. In Captain Cook’s 1770 journal, he wrote of a wealth of whales and seals as well as a safe harbour at Waikawa. However, a cartographer of the admiralty erroneously applied the name of Port Molyneux to this safe harbour, which was near the mouth of the Clutha River. The information contained in the entry still had dramatic consequences on the social history of coastal South Otago.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Taking back the blog!

Sort of. Mr. Lovecraft has had this blog for many years now. But he and I must make a new deal - from time to time, Chrispy will hold center court.

News: Status of my proposed books. I am 2/3 of the way through the tentatively titled "Lovecraft's Grandfather: The Business Life of Whipple Van Buren Phillips". It is not peer reviewed, but I have showed it to one or two people. Their feedback, believe it or not, was that it was worthy of publication (I have a publisher if I finish by the way) and if I proceed to make it scholarly, I had flubbed the footnote formats badly. It has been many years (decades) since college term papers, so I admit I am very rusty. I am a scientist, but I am not an historian, nor a biographer, so I am learning new skills in order to attempt this. Wish Chrispy luck.

I am completed with "Young Lovecraft" to mid 1892. It is not to my satisfaction, but it certainly shows that what has been said about Lovecraft's first 2 years has much more to be stated. I can never praise Mr Faig enough, but by others these critical first two years have been given short shrift especially in light of new primary documents that have come to light on Miss Guiney, the Auburndale, MA. speculative real estate development between 1888 and 1893, and Winfield's expansive sales trips per his hotel announcements.

Don't hold your breath. Things could go south on these books. I am currently 55 years old, and this is very much a part time development that has to fit my very limited time. I have determined that if I do publish, it will most certainly not be for financial gain - unlike other Lovecraft endeavors. The sheer lack of interest in these subjects (perhaps 2,000 people out of 7 billion?) means that this is a labor of personal interest and for scholarship, though I hope some money might eventually be made and given to some charity or other. It is payment to Mr Lovecraft for the hours of entertainment he has given me since 2002.

What else is Chrispy doing?

If you don't see me on Facebook, or playing some Zynga game (curse you psychologist-demons of Zynga) that meas I am at work, church, or blogging over at Miskatonic books. I am rapidly losing touch with my old T-12 gang and old Horror Mall friends who are deeply into their own endeavors in and out of horror. I wish them good luck!

I am not writing horror as much as I used to, and I already see that my skills are rusting. So I may start up again. I have dozens of unfinished projects that would take me into my old age if I choose.

I feel toward our US government much as I do toward the governors of Kentucky. Each election I say, "How can we get worse candidates than these? How can any governor be this bad?" Yet I have watched wacky governors and presidents (of both parties) enrich themselves and their friends, while doing nothing to stop inevitable disaster. All I can say is I suppose we are getting what we deserve, and I will continue to complain, but expect no better.

This leads me to my next diatribe. I am no fan of Richard Dawkins. Today, I saw that he had his own pontificating windbaggish lambast of America, Texas, Republicans, and specifically governor Perry. Perry was clearly baiting political targets, and Dawkins fell for the bait, though one wonders why? He seems not to "have a dog in the hunt" in American politics, but loses little opportunity to sell his books. Or should I say one panderer should recognize another?

Ivory towerists never see the real populist reasons for things. It has been a while since I took biology, thank you, and I did major in chemistry, but if I recall Darwin's ideas, they were specifically stated in a way that I might paraphrase: When natural environments change they cause biological organisms to rapidly adapt to them.

I know almost no creationist, scientist, molecular biologist, or even CSISCOP's to object to this. We see it every day in every way, particularly with new dog breeds and Franken-crops. However, there is much to object to the catch-all term 'evolution', particularly as usurped and practiced by the British elites, Nazis, American medical staffs, and others who proposed social-Darwinism for political and elitist gain. Why one must denigrate people of faith - Buddhist, Muslim, or Christian for the sake of selling books on a THEORY I don't understand.

There are millions of scientists and engineers who are people of faith and practitioners of hope, love, and charity. They seem not to have an issue with living their lives peacefully, and do not get in the face of their brothers and sisters, grind axes, or descend to calling names. If only ivory towerists would do the same. And this should apply to name-callers on either side of this issue.

Lastly, what is wrong with horror?

I can sort of summarize my feelings a few ways. First, high expectations. We might think a return to the Stephen King/Anne Rice days is normal. THAT was the aberration. We are in a very normal sales volume for horror based on 20th century norms.

We insist of horror being in novel form. Horror is best practiced as short story. So what happened? Corporations pay by the word for some insane reason, so today's writers pad their works to get maximum gain for the least effort. They must type a minimum of three novels a year to maintain their B-list rankings, and be able to pay bills. Or they must hire assistants to type their books form outlines they provide and hope the imitations are sufficient to maintain their minimal fan base.

Please, bring back short story horror and pay a living wage to writers for it.

Alas, I fear that the days of Poe and Lovecraft writing a few short stories of quality each year, or even Charles Schultz doing every word, every line, every drawing, and every ink is as passe as, well, playing defense or the two-point shot in basketball.

Horror is corporate, and corporations - this may come as a big surprise - maximize profits at the expense of the least amount of outlay to employees. Karl Marx had the wrong solution, but he stated the problem correctly. Profit is good, but greed is bad, and absolute greed corrupts absolutely and is what we have today.

This is precisely the battle between E Hoffman Price and H P Lovecraft. Price stated that only in writing was the amateur held up as better than the professional. Lovecraft countered that selling stories for only money will always end up in mediocre work and hack work. They talked past one another, and neither made very much money. The middle ground ends up one of two ways. Very lucky talented writers write what they want and the audience finds them and supports them. Very unlucky talented writers end up poor and their stories in the garbage after they die.

I will guarantee there are wonderful, talented, horror writers you have never read because they did not attract a corporate backer, were unable to advance through the hurdles placed before them, and gave up. Or they chose to write something else to pay bills - say like Max Brand writing westerns, or Conan Doyle writing Sherlock Holmes. I guess that is back to natural selection.

Horror is a two-way street. You must meet it half-way. We have the worst economy in our lives, and the real unemployment is closer to 20%, and we have no confidence in anyone. We have to stop the merry-go-round and break the cycle of mistrust. If you are lucky enough to have a job, and inspired enough to enjoy horror, find a wayward writer and support that person. Take a chance on someone new. Buy their book, or support a trustworthy publisher (there are a few left) who is trying to help new talent. Do your homework, and while you may purchase a few duds, you will find a writer who resonates with you in the independent press.

OK, Mr Lovecraft, thank you for letting me have these few minutes on the HPL blog.

Lovecraft alphabetic letters

This was sent to me by Paul, and as we post all things Lovecraftian, you may want to check this out. I do not know what the fundraiser is for, so check it out if you are so inclined. The link is above and here

For those who've been following the hints on our Twitter account this is the new Yoggie project - Lovecraftian Letters! Yes, now you can create your own Lovecraftian miniature tales and share your dark wisdom with everyone in your kitchen with over 500 Lovecraft-inspired magnetic words!

We've set up a fundraiser preorder via IndieGoGo to help get this unique item into production. The preorder comes with a variety of additional benefits and exclusives and we anticipate that sets will start shipping very shortly after the fundraiser closes in early October.

Lovecraftian Letters - we think "Grandpa Theobald" would approve. (Well, we hope. )

Based on H.P. Lovecraft's unique lexicon, Lovecraftian Letters contains over 500 words and word fragments that allow anyone to create phrases and tell miniature tales of eldritch horror. The handsome set comes in a metal tin you can use to try out your squamous combinations before putting them on your fridge (or brain cylinder).

There's never been anything quite like it and it's only from YSDC.

The fundraiser/preorder closes on the 10th October and all orders include prepaid worldwide shipping. It's something a little different from us and we're hoping you like it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Giant Lobster

Lovecraft mingled folklore, real events, and his imagination into some of the spookiest stories. Hoping to keep that spirit of newness and excitement alive, we frequently discuss weird beasts with slight Lovecraftian imagery to your attention.

What people thought they saw were organic shapes not quite like any they had ever seen before. Naturally, there were many human bodies washed along by the streams in that tragic period; but those who described these strange shapes felt quite sure that they were not human, despite some superficial resemblances in size and general outline. Nor, said the witnesses, could they have been any kind of animal known to Vermont. They were pinkish things about five feet long; with crustaceous bodies bearing vast pairs of dorsal fins or membraneous wings and several sets of articulated limbs, and with a sort of convoluted ellipsoid, covered with multitudes of very short antennae, where a head would ordinarily be.

August 2011:

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, the general formula to estimate a lobster's age is its weight in pounds times four, plus three. That makes Coney Island's Big Red is an astounding 75 years old and still growing.

New England Lobster's bookkeeper, Jennifer Vargas, set out to save the giant creature when it was received on the West Coast. "This seemed like a [lousy] way to go," she told the Daily News. "A lot of the customers were interested in him -- the problem was, they didn't have a pot big enough."

The New York Aquarium in Coney Island, run by the Wildlife Conservation Society, responded to an online posting, and the 18-pounder was shipped back East.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Young Lovecraft and Astronomy

For this post, Chrispy will cast modesty aside. In earlier posts, Chrispy uncovered nearly the exact dates that Lovecraft almost died early in 1910. This was based on an obscure and sudden comet appearance, Comet 1910A.

He lost a great deal of weight, likely due to complications from measles and lung infection. He made a slow recovery, but was feeling well enough by the time of Halley's comet to go out at night by trolley and view it with his telescope and sketch it. With the help of several friends, mainly Steve and Dave, the precise point where he did his sketches was determined.

The articles below show the hysteria over Halley's comet which only phased Lovecraft in that he would have been appalled by what he would call ignorance. Note the "Comet pills" in the article below.

He went back and forth on Percival Lowell and his theory. This parallels public articles. Lowell was a powerful, popular figure and astronomers did not cross him lightly. However, as new telescopes went on line, Lowell's power faded, and astronomers were more vocal. This echoes the articles Lovecraft did in newspapers, as he mostly responded to the breaking news of astronomy.

What is becoming clear is that Lovecraft adored astronomy, but somehow he had a disconnect. He was a reasonably good observer, and a reasonably good writer conveying astronomical knowledge, but he did not become a good theoretician. Even with all the data he accumulated from hours of observations, Chrispy has not yet detected one original theory has been found in his writing - not even a bad one.

(His presentation of the theory of a ninth planet was bold, but it was a belief that many held based on a number of theories of the time. Lovecraft poeticized his Yuggoth, his near-contemporary Clyde Tombaugh searched for it.)

Can one fault his telescope? Not really. He read copious articles in professional and amateur journals. He associated with the staff at Ladd observatory, even using it from time to time. If he volunteered to crunch data, no evidence has been found.

This is not meant to be critical, as Lovecraft had a stack of issues between 1904 and 1911 that were daunting. He fell quickly behind in math comprehension - not a natural proclivity - and never recovered. He grasped other people's ideas rapidly, but could not use them to create his own. This may be an inherited Phillips trait, as all his successful Phillips' ancestors and relatives appeared to do just this. They were excellent managers (Chief Operating Officers of today) such as Theodore W Phillips and his adopted son also Theodore, or his grandfather who took other people's ideas and created wealth from them, or sadly, like Edwin his Uncle, saw opportunity but could not capitalize on it.

The articles below should expand into more readable views if you click them.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

To Walter Coates, 1926

Note from Chrispy.

I have tried to make the blog as family friendly as possible. Thousands of people wander by, some addicted to HPL, some only tangentially interested in the topic. The absolute bombastic sentiments of this letter I can't agree with, and it is part of Lovecraft's personality that makes me cringe. I can't make him different, and I am also uncomfortable censoring him a centruy later.

If you do read onward, be prepared for the worst.


H. P. Lovecraft. Autograph Letter Signed "HPL".
Two pages, 5.5" x 9", n.p.
[Providence, Rhode Island], n.d.
["Tuesday", perhaps 1926], to Walter J. Coates, plain paper, ink.

The text of the letter reads, in full:

"My dear Coates: - I wasn't especially defending Emily Dickinson, but was merely pointing out the multiplicity of the causes - & the soundness of a few of them - which impel occasional revaluations of literature from age to age.

The present case is not unique, as you may easily see by following the reputation of any varied assortment of authors through a space of several centuries. It is a mistake, too, to single out Victorian opinion as a basis of comparison.

In many ways the middle 19th century formed a naive & curious Dark Age of taste in all the arts - I hardly need point out its architectural barbarities. If we want to formulate a norm for the Anglo-Saxon main stream, we must consider the average massed opinion all the way down from Chaucer's time.

The Elizabethan age represented a far truer flowering of our racial impulses than did the Victorian. However - as I said on my card, your main thesis seems to me perfectly sound & well taken.

Undeniably - all apart from the effects of natural change and altered philosophic-scientific-psychological perspective - the world of American taste & opinion is distinctly & lamentably Jew-ridden as a result of the control of publicity media by New York Semitic groups. Some of this influence certainly seeps into Anglo-Saxon critical & creative writing to an unfortunate extent; so that we have a real problem of literary & aesthetic fumigation on our hands. The causes are many - but I think the worst factor is a sheer callous indifference which holds the native mind down to mere commercialism & size & speed worship, allowing the restless & ambitious alien to claim the centre of the intellectual stage by default.

In a commercialised civilization, publicity & fame are determined by economic causes alone - & there is where the special talents of Messrs. Cohen & Levi count. Before we can put them in their place, we must de-commercialise the culture - & that, alas, is a full-sized man's job!

Some progress could be made, though, if all the universities could get together & insist on strictly Aryan standards of taste. They could do much, in a quiet & subtle way, by cutting down the Semite percentage in faculty & student body alike.

It is really amusing how we simple Western Europeans have allowed Orientals to trample over our brains for 1500 years & more - ever since we let them saddle us with the sickly Jew slave-religion of Christus instead of our own virile, healthy, Aryan polytheistic paganism. In this matter of religion, though, we are coming back - for the Jew-Christian tradition will be extinct in the Western world in two or three more generations, save for the nominal Catholic ritualism of the eternal rabble.

We are getting back to the same Aryan philosophy & paganism which are naturally ours by right of blood & instinct. However - that isn't what we were discussing. As for literature - you'll find that the causes for contemporary change are many & complex, & that Semitisation is only one contributing influence.

Let Great Britain, still largely un-Semitised, be your index of comparison. Scientific thought in England is pretty straight Anglo-Saxon stuff - Bertrand Russell, Aldous & Julian Huxley, H. G. Wells, Sir J. Jeans, Eddington, &c. &c. - but we find the forces of change emphatically at work.

It was out of Ireland - where Jews are almost as happily scarce as snakes - that James Joyce's "Ulysses" came. The causes of our cultural changes, be they renaissances or decadences, are buried deep in complex historical & psychological phenomena. Our present convulsion - which is probably a renaissance in some phases & a decadence in others - is far too big an affair to be traced to any single origin. Roughly speaking, the thing is due to the effect of sudden new doses of knowledge, & of sensationally rapid changes in ways of living, travelling, earning money, & making things.

Personally, I think we're losing more than we're gaining; for of all the current changes only the matter of added knowledge & intellectual liberation seems really good to me. Weiss & Harris write very interestingly - especially Harris, who is refreshingly intelligent despite a narrow aesthetic horizon. He'll expand with the years, I think.Rather cool autumn hereabouts, so that I haven't been outdoors as much as last fall.

I don't envy you up in the Arctic regions! Best wishes - & I eagerly await your second article on literary transvaluations.

Yr obt servt

P.S. Is the magazine you want The American Poetry Magazine, edited by Clara Catherine Prince, 358 Western Ave., Wauwautosa [sic], Wisconsin? The man who prints that is a friend of a friend of mine, & is thinking of founding a pedagogical publishing house. If he does, I shall probably be his chief reviser.
"Walter J. Coates was a fellow amateur journalist and small-time publisher introduced to Lovecraft, most likely, through W. Paul Cook (later to publish Lovecraft's The Shunned House). Coates' and Lovecraft's friendship developed over a mutual love for New England and poetry.

Coates published a great amount of Lovecraft's writing in his regional magazine Driftwind, beginning with HPL's essay "The Materialist Today" in October 1926. Later, Coates would print a good amount of Lovecraft's poetry in the same periodical.

The most striking content in this particular letter from Lovecraft to Coates is the former's bald articulation of an obvious anti-Semitism.

In the midst of a letter discussing Emily Dickinson and socio-literary issues, and amongst discourse on writers such as Russell, Huxley, Wells, and Harris (most likely his friend Woodburn Harris, to whom he had probably been introduced by Coates) Lovecraft launches into a diatribe on a culture he sees as "Jew-ridden as a result of the control of publicity media by New York Semitic groups."

Lovecraft's view of Jewish people is a most curious aspect of his personality. In many letters to friends and associates, Lovecraft espoused a similar opinion of Jewish people as he articulates here. Yet, he had numerous Jewish friends, and in his one marriage, betrothed himself to a Jewish woman, Sonia Greene.

Debate rages over the depth and degree to which Lovecraft actually felt his own anti-Semitism, but there can be no doubt that "the gentleman of Providence" held a viewpoint that is quite unpopular and out of vogue in current times.

Frank Belknap Long attempted to contextualize or rationalize Lovecraft's apparent racism in a letter to L. Sprague de Camp which appears in the latter's Lovecraft: A Biography. Whether or not one believes Long is his or her choice, for certainly enough evidence can be found from Lovecraft's own pen to support a charge of anti-Semitism.

Still, Long attempts to come to the aid of an old friend: "This may be hard for you to believe. But during the entire NY period, in all the meetings and conversations I had with him, he never once displayed any actual hostility toward 'non-Nordics' - to use the term to which he was most addicted - in my presence, either in the subway or anywhere else...If one of them had been in distress he would have been the first to rush to his or her aid. Emotionally he was kindliness personified. It was all rhetorical - the kind of verbal overkill that so many of the hippie underground-press writers engaged in in the sixties.

It was a sickness in him, if you wish - the verbalization part - but it wasn't characteristic of him in a deep, basic way."

This letter is in remarkable shape, with usual mailing folds, one small crease at the bottom right corner, and a barely noticeable fingernail nick along the right edge.

The page has toned slightly, but is overall in very fine condition.
(S. T. Joshi, H. P. Lovecraft: A Life 427)
From the Robert and Diane Yaspan Collection.

Shipping: Flat Material, Small (view shipping information) Auction Location:
3500 Maple Avenue, 1st Floor Gallery, Dallas, Texas, United States

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Science Fiction

Here is an image (click to expand) of Google Insight's tracking of the term science fiction. There is a notable decline in interest in the term. Astonishingly, Northwest Africa seems to rate high in searches for the term.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Hola! Lovecraft

(Click Image and it should expand to be more readable)

Google Insights is a statistical tool to track trends. Since 2004 Lovecraft has plummeted in interest. One hopes that Chrispy's blog did not bore people away from HPL. :)

However, look at the global map. Spanish speaking nations score high in Lovecraft interest, while the USA is quite low.

The decline in Lovecraft trends proportionately to the rapid lack of interest in traditional science fiction.

There is a slight uptick in interest in Lovecraft lately, and one hopes it will continue.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

HPL Walking Tour 20 August 2011

Celebrate the 121st birthday of America's master of the strange and macabre. Author of "The Thing on the Doorstep" and "The Call of Cthulhu," H.P. Lovecraft was born in Providence in 1890. Join us on a walking tour which explores the College Hill neighborhood where Lovecraft drew literary inspiration and where he called home.

H.P. Lovecraft:
A Literary Walking Tour
Saturday, August 20
11:00 a.m.
Tour departs from the John Brown House Museum
52 Power Street
Providence, RI
Contact Barbara Barnes: (401) 273-7507 x62 or


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