Monday, February 28, 2011

Palo Moyombe?

Over the weekend, it looks like maybe a weird off-shoot of Palo Mayombe may be at work. This fits the profile of a "gang or cult", and the high $$ aspect for motivation. It would also explain why mostly catholic cemeteries seem affected.

More here.

Bodies Stolen in New Jersey

These news stories, while sensational, come and go quickly as the media loses attention. So I preserve them on the HPLblog. He was sometimes interestd in ghoulish things, though he was squeamish. His Statement of Randolph Carter was of grave matters, so to speak. The Hound, which he later frowned upon, was very ghoulish. We need not go into Herbert West.

Though the police discuss that it may have been a cult, I have my personal reservations that it was satanic cults. It may have been for medical black market, or a gang prank, or the work of a proto-serial killer, but it's hard for me to believe satanists. Time will tell.

I've added a Google map showing the locations of the cemeteries, approximately, and how close they are. Elizabeth, of course, is where HPL wrote the story He.

The story {excerpted}:

PERTH AMBOY, NJ (23 February 2011) — A ghoulish cult practice may have been the motivation behind the theft of human remains from cemeteries in Woodbridge and Perth Amboy, officials believe. Authorities are now asking area cemeteries and the public to report suspicious activity to the police and also to help identify any suspects.

The body snatchers targeted the remains of a 72-year-old man interred at Most Holy Rosary Cemetery in the Fords section of Woodbridge and the remains of a 2-year-old boy buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Perth Amboy, officials said Wednesday.

The Perth Amboy incident was reported on Nov. 28 by a cemetery visitor who saw the open grave. The Woodbridge incident was first noticed last Tuesday by a passerby who reported that a granite mausoleum “had been disturbed,” officials said.

The families of the deceased have been notified by the authorities. Investigators believe people engaged in a “non-traditional religious practice” may be responsible.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Get Ready Fans: Lovecraft Issue Coming!

Famous Monsters Of Filmland #255
Publisher: Movieland Classics LLC
Pub. Date: April 06, 2011
Current Availability: Pre-Order
UPC: 07447025970155

The #1 film monster magazine, in full-color and packed with all of the features that you've come to love! We celebrate all things Lovecraft with an epic 'At the Mountains of Madness' cover by giant monster maestro, Bob Eggleton.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Wizard of Oz Comes to Providence

About two years after Lovecraft died, Technicolor came to the movies. Both Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz exploded across the giant screen. He never got to see them. Growing up with silent movies, he might have simply yawned, crotchety at "them" ruining the movies with sound and color. Then again, he may have oohed and ahead like we do when we first got to see high def.

However, when he was but a wee lad of ten, a new book hit the stores called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by a chap named Lymon Frank Baum. Between 1900 and 1903, the book soared to success, and a play was almost immediately discussed. Not just any play, but an "extravaganza". You see even in those days competition for viewers dollars was keen.

Two comedians - no not Bert Lahr - were obtained and they were the core of the humor. After debuting in Chicago, it moved to New York to WOW crowds, and then two companies split to tour the country. The original cast hit Boston and Providence.

They played four shows at the stalwart Providence Opera House. The book, Oz, Before the Rainbow (Mark Evan Swartz, 2002, John Hopkins Press), discusses the creation and production in great detail. Here, Chrispy has made it personal to Lovecraft.

However, I have not come across any evidence that HPL saw this show. He would have been 13 years old at the time, and his family still wealthy. Did he? I just don't know. If he did, or if any of the family did, or if any of his friends did, there seems not to be any impact. Perhaps because rumors had already gotten out that there were adult themes in the show (it was slightly Vaudevillian with a mildly risque song included sung by Lotta Fauste) HPL was not allowed?

To most of us of a certain age, the 1939 movie splashed across TV screens in the 1960's, 70's, 80's and more. In those days, the 1939 cast were all alive - just very, very old. (I still recall Bert Lahr doing Lays potato chip commercials.) Now, on Blu-Ray we can see more of Oz than the folks who watched it on the screen at the debut. The impact that the movie made on us, is exactly the impression that the extravaganza play made on the elite of America for the two generations BEFORE the movie.

However, it does not seem that The Beast in the Cave (HPL, 1904) was a cowardly lion.

PS, the Providence newspaper illo is precisely that of the cover photo for Oz, Before the Rainbow. It shows the scarecrow being oiled by the tin woodman, and it is dated to 1902.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Necromancy? or Utility?

Recent examinations have shown a very ancient cannibalistic ritual, and utilitarian use of skull caps. Anthropologists have pointed out that not every cultural sub-unit objects to cannibalism, but it is rare. Practitioners most likely ingest rare diseases over time and don't last long - for instance HIV is often thought to have been derived from the eating of bush meat, i.e. anthropoids. Other practitioners do this out of desperation, and low food supplies.

Here is a brief summary and link to a full article. This seems very Lovecraftian, as HPL wrote the Hound frequently referencing body fragments, and late in life adored a human skull trophy a fan sent (Willis?) - likely a Native American skull.

... bone cups made from human skulls, unearthed in a Somerset cave, are the oldest of their kind, researchers believe ... the handiwork of early modern humans, who used stone tools to prepare and finish the containers around 14,700 years ago ... three cups, made from the skulls of two adults and one three-year-old child ... , were dug up several decades ago, alongside the cracked and cut-marked remains of ... have now been re-examined using new techniques ... the human bones show clear signs of butchery, implying that the bodies were stripped for meat and crushed for marrow before the heads were severed and turned into crockery.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Borders: Not Quite R.I.P.

I have to say I frequented Borders a lot. It took me a long while to forgive them for eviscerating our local honored bookstore, Hawley Cooke, but I finally did.

For nearly 2 years I would carry my 30% off coupon and shop - finding almost nothing to buy. Their horror section was weak on Lovecraft, and their shelvers often could not tell Romance from Horror from Harry Potter from Science Fiction. The saving grace was that they carried Dorcester's (R.I.P. !) books of my favorite B-listers*, but usually it was shelves crammed with Kalems - King, Koontz, Lumley, Matheson.

Well, Saturday (I am typing this Saturday afternoon) it was wall-to-wall people at the 20-40% off sale.

I had already staked out my claim having absolutely no fear that anyone would even go to my cob-webbed sections. I grabbed a Zombie book with a Brian Keene story in it. That one copy of that book had sat unmolested by anyone for about 6 weeks. Then I went over and got a 2008 paperback by Steve Alten - again untouched for weeks.

I picked up a slightly handled $25 !!! book on worn-out vampire stories. There was one by Manly Wellman I didn't recall, but not for $25, thank you. I may actually have it somewhere, anyway. The rest are very familiar to anyone with a small antiquarian vampire selection.

It annoyed me that H. P. Lovecraft was plastered on the cover as a "features and benefits" point-of-sale lure. It was, of course, The Hound.

Instead, I took advantage of the 40% off magazine sale, and grabbed Famous Monsters, and Movie Monsters - issues which I usually don't collect - but if I ever needed one, I'm sure pal Jeff Barnes could read one over the phone from his collection. Still, 40% off ignited me to buy them this time.

Asimov and Analog seemed to have weak selections this time, not even an Allen Steele story. I passed. I did get Astronomy, as it discussed the Nashville astronomer of the late 19th century, and I thought I could reference it in my blog, and later in my Young Lovecraft book. HPL could have been an astronomer, but when he was crushed by fate in 1908, he just couldn't rebound enough.

Well karma. The big box mega-stores killed the little guys, and now e-books and bigger box stores (like Sam's Club) are killing Borders and BN. Me? More and more I am throwing in the towel, and embracing small Indie horror. For once, HPL may have been right. I really, really enjoy good amateur and entry-level-author horror.

Well, good luck Borders. I hope you make it.

Who are my very favorite Dorcester B-listers? Ed Lee, Gary Braunbeck, Brian Keene, Al Sarantonio, and Ray Garton. No offense to anyone else, as I read a lot - read the blog and you will see many, many names listed. I used to do lots of reviews at Horror Mall's forum before it was pulled.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Invoice to the Insane Hospital

This is very real. One supposes that Lovecraft is about madness, and you may want to clone this or photoshop it for your gaming activities.

For Chrispy, it's about the historical context. Though this is 1880, it relates to moving Winfield Lovecraft from Chicago to Providence. Likely Whipple paid the transport.

From the Seller: from AJ Quinn for taking Mrs. Rourke from New London, CT
to the Insane Hospital at Providence, Rhode Island (probably Butler Hospital) and transportation involved in the trip.

Dated September 1, 1880.

8 x 5 1/2

Payment info on back...bill paid by City of New London.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Conspiratorial Horror and Steve Alten

Perhaps the next new phase of horror is “Conspiratorial Horror”. In 1978, a disc jockey named Art Bell had a glimmer of the coming “Talk Radio” phenomena, and pioneered a new political call-in show. He noticed that the higest ratings tended to come with UFO-themed shows, paranormal discussions, or other then-fringe topics. In 1988, the new format Coast to Coast rolled out, and the show became a phenomenal hit on late night AM shows promoted heavily by word of mouth of truck drivers.

Bell also created a hosted show called Dreamland, which his friend and mega-author Whitley Strieber eventually hosted, and still hosts. Becoming fatigued, Bell tried fill-in hosts but ratings sagged until enthusiastic George Noory took the show's weekday helm in 2003. He has become a magnet for quirky stories of all kinds, and often conspiracy themes. As such, he has guests such as former and current rock stars, television and movie stars (such as show-fan Dan Akroyd, or Bill Mumy), and many writers including Steve Alten. The show has become a means to alternative news, some odd, and some very disturbing for our society.

Steve Alten is usually pegged as a science fiction writer, but this tends to be a type-cast catchall. Alten has made a career of very well researched stories, much as the late Michael Crichton, and recently has hyped the conspiratorial theme to red hot. While Alten's stories are sometimes based on oceanic life forms, and maybe vaguely reminiscent Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, they are less futuristic, and more horror based. His most recent block buster is Grim Reaper: End of Days which takes the paradigm of Dante's Inferno, the historic event of the Black Plague (c. 1350), and superimposes both upon Manhattan.

Alten is a student of antiquarian horror, and is studious of cabala - the ancient Jewish mystical set of writings.

In olden days, a type of horror-cypher was used to prevent censors from killing stories. When horror became too explicit, as with C M Eddy, Jr and H P Lovecraft's The Loved Dead (published 1924) cries of “filth”, violation of community standards, and worse was uttered. Even a "Comics Code" was created somewhat similar to the Hays Commission for the movies. Thus Dante encrypted his political commentary in the guise of a religious horror so he could lampoon contemporary Catholic hypocrisy. Even Lovecraft cleverly veiled his xenophobia so that even his closest friends did not fully understand some of it. (Loveman was later devastated, and burned HPL letters). Poe often spoke cleverly of being buried alive, an unspoken dread through the 19th century. Most recently, explicit horror confined Jack Ketchum and Edward Lee to B-novelist stature, though Ray Garton has usually been able to break through the censored ceiling.

Now, Alten has brought “fringe” to best seller status, and it's about time. Every thinking American realizes that something has went very, very wrong. The Presidency, Congress, and even the media have the lowest ratings in modern memory. Our way of life seems “broken”, and that concern – that “horror” if you will - is being played out in Indie Horror, B-list horror (notably by Brian Keene), and now by Steve Alten.

First his book, Loch (2005), proposed the very reasonable theory that if media did not marginalize reports of sightings of “The Loch Ness Monster”, the mystery could easily be solved by trained scientists. His theory that it may be a giant eel, seems to have merit, although the novel proposes this in a fantasy manner. Then his Shell Game (2008) took a piercing eye to Big Oil, the Neo-Con Fascism movement, and a New World Order, all perpetual themes of Coast to Coast AM's radio show.

Grim Reaper moves into the realm of bio-terorism, but spends a great deal of time discussing the irrationality of the West's, and specifically America's invasion of the Middle East and Near East, and purposely picking odd targets very far from real terrorist cells, but very critical for 21st century energy reserves (Oil, Lithium), and key to drug-cartel-international-monetary-institution lanes of traffic. It is as if some unnamed master organization is playing a game of money and power chess with our military.

This theme is not going away, and hopefully more horror based books are soon to explore this topic.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Shoggoth Alert! "'Nessie" Seen Again?

Ok, so maybe it is a stretch to call Nessie a shoggoth. [ed. As comments below, it was not Loch Ness, but another lake, in England. I have corrected the header.] However, it is frustrating not to see Steve Alten's theory not taken seriously. If you don't know it, then I will briefly summarize it. In his book The Loch and in subsequent interviews and guest appearances, Alten promoted the idea that a species of large eel lived in the Loch. It is a known species that has perhaps become entrapped, or mutated to a very large size.

In any event, SOMETHING is there in that Lake.

Part of the news report below with a link to the rest.

The photograph, which shows an object with three humps breaching the surface of the lake, is said to be the best evidence yet of what some claim is a monster lurking beneath the depths.

It was taken on a camera phone by Tom Pickles, 24, while kayaking on the lake as part of a team building exercise with his IT company, CapGemini, last Friday.

Mr Pickles said he saw an animal the size of three cars speed past him on the lake and watched it for about 20 seconds.

He said: “It was petrifying and we paddled back to the shore straight away. At first I thought it was a dog and then saw it was much bigger and moving really quickly at about 10mph.

“Each hump was moving in a rippling motion and it was swimming fast Its skin was like a seal’s but it’s shape was completely abnormal – it’s not like any animal I’ve ever seen before."

“I only saw it for a few seconds but all I could think about was that I had to get off the lake.”


Steve Bump (circa 2006 - 2007)

"In summer 2006, I was on holiday at the Dower House at Wray Castle. It was the first Sunday of a week-long holiday around lunchtime. I was walking along the lake with my wife and two friends and we'd walked up to Watbarrow Point which juts out into the lake about 40ft above the water.

"... the lake was very quiet because the speeding ban had come in. The previous year it would have been full of people on jet skis, but then the lake was like glass. We just stood chatting and I saw it – similar to the classic three lumps that you get in the Loch Ness pictures; I could see a head with swirling water and then a grey lump, more swirling water, and another grey lump.

"But the most remarkable thing was that it was really moving. My jaw just dropped open and I said: 'Look at that!' My wife also saw it but very quickly it moved up the lake. I estimated it to be at least 30ft long. I wouldn't believe anyone else if they told me – but I saw it and I know what I saw."


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Houdini, Sonia, Lovecraft, and Satanism?

Lovecraft is constantly being reinterpreted and reengineered. This is notably done by what may be termed occultists; those believing that Lovecraft somehow either channeled magic, or actually practiced it, but concealed that practice by some means. Here, in passing, several myths of that paradigm are mentioned.

. Sonia practiced magic.
. Sonia knew Aleister Crowley (not mentioned here)
. Houdini was a believer in magic (real, not illusion)
. Bess Houdini believed in magic
. Red Hook actually happened, maybe not exactly the way Lovecraft depicted it


On 8 February 2011, Winter Laake, a self-claimed Satanist appeared on the George Noory hosted Coast to Coast AM radio program. I transcribed about a 2 minute segment of the interview that discusses briefly Lovecraft.

Winter Laake: There is an alien influence as well, but they cannot reach us in any grand scale, we are too far out, uh, the closest system being the Aldebaran system that 69 million light years away. Actually, no, it's not even million, it's 69 light years away. I believe. I could be wrong. That, that, proposes the only closest life entity near us, so -

Noory: Tell me about the Satanic Paradigm, what's it all about?

Winter Laake: The Satanic Paradigm is my treatise on what Satan is, how he functions in our world, uh, the energy of Satan, uh, goes into a series of rituals that can be conducted, satanic rites that are cutting edge in order to get closer to that power.

It touches on H. P. Lovecraft, being more than just a writer, and there is some Lovecraftian rituals in there as well, uh -

Noory: He was the science fiction writer, right?

Winter Laake: Correct. But he was more than that, especially when he was in New York City, uh, with Houdini, uh, he ghost wrote Under the Pyramids for Houdini, uh, they were practicing magic, and cult* things in an area known as Red Hook, which is in Brooklyn. And, uh, his wife, uh, Sonia Greene was very much into it, and so was Houdini's wife, but in the Satanic Paradigm I touch on some of that as well as innumerable other things.

I go into Anton LaVey, uh, his death and some of the recurrent themes that are on about people taking his name and, uh, its become so rampant. He's worshipped like a god, so its quite interesting what is occurring, uh, that is part of what the Third Wave is all about as well ...

* he did not say "occult" as I listened to this a few times to be sure.


More on Laake if you are interested:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lovecraft's Legacy

This is a blog, and not a book, so it is hard to do a coherent narrative.

Overall, I hope the last 2700+ posts show that Lovecraft's life had a pattern. In about 1911, after a near-death disease, he gave up any efforts at a career in science. He hung out with a few friends growing more politically morose. In 1914, he happened across amateur journalism, and he took to it - as we say in Kentucky - like a hog to slop.

Along the way, he created in a master-stroke with Dagon, thus creating the "weird tale". He spent the rest of his life perfecting it, and advocating to his small clutch of followers how it might be best done.

However, by as early as 1933, a young guard was forming and the new wave in fantasy fiction was going to be scientifiction. At first it dredged up some mix of Burroughs, Verne, and Wells pandering to "ray guns and babes" readers. Between 1933 and 1937, Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith took it on the chin as they were the older of the writers (Robert Howard died in 1936) of Weird Tales, and while Smith wavered trying to fit into the new mold, Lovecraft waded in with verve defending the genre he essentially created. Still, one by one, his followers deserted to be published (or they would have perished) in the new style pulp magazines.

His death in 1937 should have been the end of his legacy. Eventually someone would have found a few of his old works, much like they did Melville in the 1920's, and brought them back.

However, the old gent of Providence was a kind man and his friends loved him. They rallied, and Barlow, Wandrei, and Derleth managed to salvage virtually all of his work from the dust bin.

First, Barlow thought he was "in", but with the influence of Smith and Long, Derleth and Wandrei circled the wagons and took most of the efforts to preserve Lovecraft. Then, Derleth's personality took hold, and it became a one man show.

Historians debate whether Lovecraft would have survived without Derleth. It will never be settled, but Chrispy will weigh in with a simple - No. There was absolutely no one with incentive enough, desire enough, or will power enough (and God, did Derleth have will power) to fixate on Lovecraft and push him into the history books. As Paul was to Jesus, Derleth was to Lovecraft.

Even so, and even with a panoply of paperback books in the 1960's, Lovecraft might have been a mere marginal cult figure. Cthulhu might be cool, but he was no Conan. Howard had a gift of story telling, and it made it easy for the Sword and Sorcery guys - de Camp, Carter, etc. Lovecraft purposely separated story from protagonist.

Derleth tried to repair that in his bullish way when he added to the Mythos, much as Paul pushed the Cross and less the Prophet. It didn't seem to work. Much as Peter to Paul, purists rejected the Derleth duality and pantheon by wanting to scalp him, and everyone outside wondered what all the fuss was about. Yawn.

When Derleth died in 1971, it might again have been the end of Lovecraft. Several reminisce that even in school or college, they rarely came across anyone else who knew what a Lovecraft was. Chrispy certainly didn't (undergrad - 1974-1979). This was despite hundreds of thousands of Lovecraft and Lovecraft-included paperbacks in circulation.

A young man, Mr. S T Joshi and his friends, decided to do something about that, and the second wave of Lovecraft exploded. Instead of spending all the energy to preserve Lovecraft, as Derleth had, they moved to solidifying the historic and literary-critical position of HPL. This was certainly not easy to do for a man who was essentially a pulp writer with no significant popular characters.

In the late 20th century, the public fixated on strong heroic characters. Fleming's James Bond was iconic. Sherlock Holmes and Dracula were constantly reinvented. The West, and especially America, became video-centric, and as atention-focused as a moth to a flame.

After all these posts, I think Chrispy can finally figure out how the "golden age" of Lovecraft became main-stream. Vincent Starett said it long ago, HPL was his greatest, strangest creation. Virtually the entire efforts of Lovecraft fans has been to promote the work by promoting the man - Lovecraft as character.

Now it is the 21st century. Right before our eyes, the entire world is changing as radically as it did in the 1960's, and few are alive now that remember what it was like then. (I do, though I was a child). We are fast moving from a 20th century video-centric world to a socialized-network world. What does that even mean? I don't know, but ask Egypt and the Middle East. It is a new world.

Lovecraft is poised to either go global, or become marginalized. He may also become morphed into an unrecognizable icon as HPLoitation is set to occur. Already it has become difficult to tell Fortean from Lovecraftian, and occultists have reengineered through reinterpretation much of HPL's New York years.

Chrispy has spent several years now dredging up images and elements from the period between Whipple van Buren's rise in the 1850's through the early 21st century. That's 150 years we've slogged through together. It has been a helluva ride, folks.

Along the way, I've tried to use the new tools available to trace the Lovecraft trajectory, and bring out as many of the noble researcher-fans that impacted that trajectory by their own egos and their own agendas. Yet, in the scheme of things, perhaps no more than 1,000 "names" and 10,000 lesser-known or unnamed collectors were involved. We actually can categorize and index virtually everyone involved in this thing. It would be a simple computer program to model. Maybe I am a single datum, too.

Remember, the world was literally a much smaller - less populated - place previously. With pushing 7 BILLION people, 90% who have been alive less than 20 years, it is a world we have never seen before.

In those mouldy oldy days, a handful of people frequently made a huge impact on societal sub-cultures, Lovecraft's legacy included. It happeened frequently.

Not to take anything away from the energy of Derleth, but it was far easier for Derleth to seize Lovecraft's work and promote it nationally and internationally through a small number of editors and colleagues, than say, someone to do the same thing today for a Karl Edward Wagner (1945-1994).

Thus we summarize what has went on before in the hundreds of small essays and blog posts I've done.

Now, onward to December !

Monday, February 14, 2011

James Blish (1937) "The Eldritch Goo"

James Blish (May 23, 1921 – July 30, 1975) left the world much too soon. For Lovecraftians, perhaps his most important work was a lengthy pseudo-play of the King in Yellow, perhaps one of the most definitive post-Chambers interpretations. (Though Chrispy holds highly Brian Keene's ss The King: In Yellow).

For Blish at the ripe age of about 16, the era of scientifiction was fast upon the world. The Weird Tales crowd (H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and protege's August Derleth, Donald Wandrei, Robert Barlow, Robert Bloch, and Frank Long) were already being "put out to pasture" by the younger crowd. (They knew it, and to Lovecraft's dismay, they began to alter their writing style).

Forest J Ackerman (in Los Angeles)tended to lead the charge, but one can see young Blish had digested the old guard enough to parody them without mercy. The title is pure Lovecraft (The Eldritch Goo) and Lovecraft's long meandering sentences are harpooned. Despite only listing the "H", it is certainly the mature Lovecraft he goes after. In the mid-1930's Clark Ashton Smith was transitioning and writing what he passed off as scientifiction, but the young guard felt it was too old guard, and not enough "ray guns and babes" so to speak. Smith probably got the worst of the treatment in the letter columns of those days.

Clearly Smith and Robert Bloch were singled out in this one, too. Smith was known for his odd space-scapes, and all three were noted for their exotic made-up place names. Perhaps the most fiendish and brutal part of the satire is mixing in gothic with the weird tale parody.

Recently, a portion of this old story surfaced, and is reproduced below. It was first publsihed on cheap mimeograph with purplish ink (it may have been more blue in its original). It is typed, although the title and "author's signature" are hand drawn in for emphasis. It is called Grotesque #1 and dated at Spring 1937 (Volume 1 and Number 1). Historians believe there was only one other issue of Grotesque dated a bit after this one.

In 1937 HPL was now 47 (though near death). Smith was about 44, and Bloch only 20.

A little background. Blish was a teen aged member looking for acceptance into scientifiction, and he chose to do this in the middle of a feud between Donald Wollheim and Sam Moskowitz. Perhaps a few dozen New Yorkers and a few in New Jersey feuded like Hatfields and McCoys - among them were Frederick Pohl. Much of it was over left-wing vs. right-wing politics, and whether some flavor of fascism was an option. From this cauldron came The Futurians, and their influence was profound. Asimov, Hannes Bok, Damon Knight, Judith Merril, and Cyril Kornbluth all were members at one time or another.

Blsh would go on to become a significant influence in science fiction, and along with folks like Asimov, an actual "scientist" giving his work of the period solid scientific basis, and moving the genre away from the slap-dash "ray-guns and babes" of the pulps.


Manuscript Found Under a Bed in the Ruins of the Bronx

The Eldritch Goo
by H. Ashton Bloke

The golden cliffs of Mneira hang over the tiny town of Arthrosep, and in the afternoon, their shadows fall on the heaving bay, and the water moans in its subterranean caves, and whispers of evil things.

Though Arthrosep has a history of only three centuries, there are queer, unspeakable things that linger in the stones and thatch. There are murmurs of an old war, waged by an ancient race against the modern usurpers of its homes. And there are many legends, lost in the dimness of antiquity. But their echoes chill the blood, and the pale rays of the sun, as they light the grim countenances of the natives, seem filtered through a veil of horror.

I climbed the crude steps cut in the jasper cliff one evening, meaning to watch the sun sink and swell, and drop behind the sea. Where the hewn trail rounded the edge of the bluff, I sat on a fallen boulder, looking out over the heaving water hundreds of feet below, out to the horizon, where the sun was lighting a silver ...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Mound - Newspaper References (1925-1926)

Moreover, what a monstrously exact explanation it gave of all the baffling phenomena of the mound-of the seemingly meaningless and paradoxical actions of diurnal and nocturnal ghosts, and of the queer cases of madness and disappearance! It was even an accursedly plausible explanation—evilly consistent—if one could adopt the incredible. It must be a shocking hoax devised by someone who knew all the lore of the mound. There was even a hint of social satire in the account of that unbelievable nether world of horror and decay. Surely this was the clever forgery of some learned cynic—something like the leaden crosses in New Mexico, which a jester once planted and pretended to discover as a relique of some forgotten Dark Age colony from Europe. The Mound, Zealia Bishop and H P Lovecraft [somewhat dated as December 1929 through early 1930]

Lovecraft reached back to a series of newspaper articles dating back about 4 years and paraphrases them nicely and succinctly.

Purport To Chronicle The Arrival Of Roman Jews There In 775 A.D.
[New York Times, December 13, 1925]

TUCSON, Ariz., Dec. 12 -- After investigation by a number of scientists, first announcement was made here today of the excavation near Tucson of cast lead swords, crosses and other objects bearing Latin and Hebrew inscriptions which, taken at their face value, are held to mean that Roman Jews crossed the Atlantic in the Dark Ages, penetrated to Arizona and founded a kingdom which lasted from about 700 A.D. to 900 A.D.
Neil Merton Judd, curator of American archaeology of the United States National Museum, said he believed that no hoax or fraud was involved, but he thought the date later than that of the Spanish conquest of 1540 A.D.

The entire article has been conveniently transcribed at

However there is more.

"An avalanche of newspaper articles about the lead artifacts, more than twenty-five in three months, began on Sunday, December 13, 1925, with a full front-page spread in the New York Times (fig. 32). Another six-column front-page story appeared there on December 14, and additional stories on December 15 and 20. The December 13 New York Times story reported extensively on the excavations, identified the people involved, and quoted a number of individuals, including Cummings, Judd, and the work by Laura Coleman Ostrander" [From Romans in Tucson? The Story of an Archaeological Hoax.]

The local newspapers began to sense a fake.

"Further evidence that tends to strengthen the probability that the alleged "Roman-Hebrew" artifacts found on the Silverbell road were really the work of a young Mexican student and sculptor named Odohui, was revealed today with the information that the young man, who resided with his parents at the lime kiln where the relics were unearthed, had in his possession an extensive library including volumes of the Hebrew and Roman classics.... (Tucson Citizen, January 15, 1926)"

"The Citizen Locates Man Who Confirms Leandro Ruiz's Story of Probable Origin of Leaden Relics Found Near City (Tucson Citizen, January 18, 1926)"

The NYT had a headline (SAY MEXICAN MADE ARIZONA 'RELICS') on this naming one "Timotio Odohui" and it is dated 20 January 1926

It seems probable that HPL had access to the NYT articles, or
their derivatives.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Original Source of the John Willis Tale

Chrispy understands that HPL used Skinner's book for his reference on John Willis. However, there were versions of Skinner's source circulating in Myths and Legends of Our Own Land. Skinner's original source has been located, or at least a reasonable version of it. It is below. In addition, a digest of this story circulated in wire services for some time, as it was found in "A Battle of Phantoms In The Valley of Death", Ellesmere Gauradian (NZ), Vol XII, Issue 1151, 24 May 1893, page 4. (Not reproduced here).

A few of Skinner's phrases are lifted whole cloth, and Lovecraft adds the enhancemens of an invisible army to set up an element of armored cavalry. This is not in either of the two renditions.

What is odd is that "part two" of that Mound paragraph contains some elements that seem not to be in Skinner, but in the original article.

First we will show Skinner, and then Lovecraft, and then the entire article.

Myths and Legends of Our Own Land
By Charles M. Skinner

A Battle in the Air

In the country about Tishomingo, Indian Territory, troubles are foretold by a battle of unseen men in the air. Whenever the sound of conflict is heard it is an indication that many dead will lie in the fields, for it heralds battle, starvation, or pestilence. The powerful nation that lived here once was completely annihilated by an opposing tribe, and in the valley in the western part of the Territory there are mounds where hundreds of men lie buried. Spirits occupy the valley, and to the eyes of the red men they are still seen, at times, continuing the fight.

In May, 1892, the last demonstration was made in the hearing of John Willis, a U.S. Deputy Marshal, who was hunting horse-thieves. He was belated one night and entered the vale of mounds, for he had no scruples against sleeping there. He had not, in fact, ever heard that the region was haunted. The snorting of his horse in the middle of the night awoke him and he sprang to his feet, thinking that savages, outlaws, or, at least, coyotes had disturbed the animal. Although there was a good moon, he could see nothing moving on the plain. Yet the sounds that filled the air were like the noise of an army, only a trifle subdued, as if they were borne on the passing of a wind. The rush of hoofs and of feet, the striking of blows, the fall of bodies could be heard, and for nearly an hour these fell rumors went across the earth. At last the horse became so frantic that Willis saddled him and rode away, and as he reached the edge of the valley the sounds were heard going into the distance. Not until he reached a settlement did he learn of the spell that rested on the place.


Lovecraft, for Zealia Bishop, in The Mound

The commonest, and among the oldest, became quite famous in 1892, when a government marshal named John Willis went into the mound region after horse-thieves and came out with a wild yarn of nocturnal cavalry horses in the air between great armies of invisible spectres — battles that involved the rush of hooves and feet, the thud of blows, the clank of metal on metal, the muffled cries of warriors, and the fall of human and equine bodies. These things happened by moonlight, and frightened his horse as well as himself. The sounds persisted an hour at a time; vivid, but subdued as if brought from a distance by a wind, and unaccompanied by any glimpse of the armies themselves.

{CP added Paragraph >}Later on Willis learned that the seat of the sounds was a notoriously haunted spot, shunned by settlers and Indians alike. Many had seen, or half seen, the warring horsemen in the sky, and had furnished dim, ambiguous descriptions. The settlers described the ghostly fighters as Indians, though of no familiar tribe, and having the most singular costumes and weapons. They even went so far as to say that they could not be sure the horses were really horses.


The Muncie Daily News
19 July 1892
Page 4, Col 2

. An Indian Scare

. Disaster Feared by Tribes in Indian Territory

. Traditions Which Presage Dire Trouble – Visions of Phantom Warriors in Deadly Combat Produce Consternation

Indians in the neighborhood of Tishomingo, I. T., are predicting a disaster of some kind. They say that something terrible is about to happen to their tribes or to the invading white men. The phantom tribe has been seen and heard in deadly conflict, and this is a sure indication that many dead men will lie on the fields. For years there has been a legend among the Indians of this territory of a phantom tribe which was supposed to be the ghostly remnant of a once powerful nation that was completely annihilated by an opposing tribe. This occurrence was so far back that it is now one of the traditions that has grown misty with age, and the Philadelphia Press says it has been many years since there has been any indication that there was a foundation of truth for the legend which attaches to a certain valley in the western part of the territory. In this valley, which is always shunned by the Indians of all the tribes, are many mounds, indicating where hundreds of people lie buried. In this valley, long ages ago, a great battle is said to have been fought, and in this battle one whole nation of red men was wiped from the face of the earth by a victorious invader, who thereafter possessed the land.

The traditions of the Indians are so strong that ages do not wipe out the legends, and where one or more Indians have seen uncanny things and tell of it, it becomes a part of the nation's history, and where a spot is found to be possessed of spirits the Indians never afterward question the truth of the story, but forever abandon the place. Such is the history of the little valley where it is said the great fight occurred long years ago.

In this valley, full of those little mounds, the Indians claim they have, on several occasions, seen the warring tribes in deadly combat, and closely following the ghostly battle came trouble to the Indians. Either pestilence, famine or war has invariably followed the apparition, and while the Indians have not heard of the phantom tribe for many years the legend is vivid in their minds, and now they believe they are again to be visited with trouble.

John Willis, a deputy United States marshal, is now responsible for the scare among the Indians, for he is the man who heard the deadly conflict between the phantom tribes. Willis did not know it at the time, and, while he is a brave man, he heard such sounds one night recently that he lay perfectly still. Willis was on the trail of a band of horse thieves, and was belated one night just as he entered into a little valley covered with small mounds. He had never heard of the phantom tribe nr of the battle which was fought in the valley. He was far from a house and picketed his horse and made his camp. He had been asleep for some time when he was aroused by his horse, which was snorting and jumping about in terror. Willis jumped to his feet, thinking he was attacked by a band of outlaws from the noise which was made. It was bright moonlight, but he could see nothing.

All around him there seemed to be an invisible host of men, some on horseback and some on foot, and these men appeared to be in deadly conflict. The noise of the trampling hoofs and rushing men could be plainly distinguished, while blows were struck so forcibly that the sound could be distinctly heard. Backward and forward the battle of ghosts seemed to rage for over an hour, yet all the while not a thing could be seen in the valley and Willis was almost convinced that the sounds were the results of a dream. His horse continued its frantic efforts to escape and at last Willis was compelled to saddle the animal and get away from the valley. Just as he got beyond the confines of the valley all the sounds ceased and he was tempted to turn back, but just as he entered the valley the war began again. He told his story to the Indians and then the story of the phantom tribe came out, and the Indians told of the disaster which was sure to follow the appearance of the phantom warring red men.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Mars Has a National Anthem ?

Chrispy has been doing a lot of old newspaper researching. I have found a lot of things that are amazing, but this one pretty much takes the cake.

It does not appear to be a ruse, or if it is, many authorities looked at it with some curiosity. One seems to have been Arthur Conan Doyle, by then a convinced and credulous believer of all things psychic.

The "Mrs. James" seeems to be the key in this, and Mrs. Robinson was none too happy about the whole situation, as will be seen below. If there was sexual component to all this Martian moaning, the news was not forthcoming.

A little more digging, and the conclusion of this was pretty quick.

"Mars Remains Silent, After Radio Message. Dr. Mansfield Robinson of London Insists He Knows People Up There Who Want to Talk to Him.

"LONDON--Small ears and long antennae in England strained in vain Wednesday to catch a return message from the big eared folk of Mars, to whom a wireless message was dispatched early Wednesday morning.

"Dr. Mansfield Robinson, author of the message, who professes acquaintance with the Martians through telepathic means, clings stoutly to his faith in the possibility of interplanetary conversations. He admits that no response was received, but insists that his friends up yonder are anxious to exchange good wishes with him. ..."

"In the meantime Mrs. Robinson, wife of the doctor, remained an exasperated woman, shooing away reporters. ... She declared boldly that the experiment was nonsensical."

Source: Albuquerque Journal
Oct. 25 & 31, 1928


Monday, February 07, 2011

Howard Lovecraft and The Frozen Kingdom:

The 2010 Eagle awards are open for voting.

This just in from Bruce Brown:

I would greatly appreciate it if people voted for the team that did Howard Lovecraft and The Frozen Kingdom:

Writer: Bruce Brown
Artist: Renzo Podesta
Letterer: Shawn Despaquale
Editor: Dwight L. MacPherson.
Original Graphic Novel: Howard Lovecraft and The Frozen Kingdom
Just so you know, Howard Lovecraft & The Undersea Kingdom is already production! _____

A six year old boy, Howard Lovecraft, will soon stumble upon the legendary Necronomicon and be transported to a world inhabited by horrifying creatures.

Little Girl Allergic to Cold

This is not precisely what HPL developed in his middle years, but it shows how his symptoms were not psychosomatic. HPL had what is sometimes referred to as poikilothermia. Thank goodness he wasn't allegic to ice cream ! Note that this poor little girl has a collateral fatigue symdrome, as did HPL.

Priscilla can’t make a snowman or venture out on chilly, crisp winter mornings as the slightest cold could kill her.

Even having an ice-cream on a hot day is ruled out.

She suffers from cold urticaria which means she can rapidly develop hives and can even stop breathing should she get too cold.

Her parents, Colleen and Craig, have to monitor the temperature of their home in New York because the slightest drop can cause Priscilla to develop itchy hives all over her body.

‘There are times she gets upset, especially when she can’t go out and play with her friends or go swimming in the pool in the summer,’ said her mother.

'But if she goes out in the cold, eats or drinks anything cold or if her bath isn’t a certain temperature, she gets hives from head to toe, can start vomiting and has trouble breathing.

'The hives can last from just a couple of hours to up to three days at a time, and it’s not just the hives she feels ill and lethargic too.

'Her condition is so severe that if she doesn’t take her medication, she could die and that is always a fear in the back of my mind.

'We do everything we can to keep her warm.'

Read more:

Sunday, February 06, 2011

National Anthem, Lovecraft and Robert Ripley

Many who are Lovecraft fans know that he had some quirky habits. One was to sing the National Anthem "tune" but the drinking song words. To anyone's knowledge, he never did it at a Rhode Island Reds game or elsewhere, so he was not decked or punched out.

A somewhat contemporary - the cartoonist Robert Ripley became well known by creating his "Believe It Or Not" in the 1920's. He got in quite a bit of hot water, when on November 3, 1929, he drew a panel in his syndicated cartoon saying "Believe It or Not, America has no national anthem."

Lovecraft was not a public person - people really had no idea who Lovecraft was in those days. Ripley, however, was quite well known and sort of a rock-star celebrity of the era. People were angry. The controversy raged, and while Ripley was correct, it took some time to get the ire of America under control.

In 1931, beloved John Philip Sousa published his opinion stating that "it is the spirit of the music that inspires" as much as it is Key’s "soul-stirring" words.

This got the political adrenaline flowing. For once Congress decided it could make a decision, and moved a bill up to the president. By a law signed on March 3, 1931 by President Herbert Hoover, "The Star-Spangled Banner" was finally adopted as the national anthem of the United States.

Lovecraft would have followed this story with a sly glee, but if he wrote of it, Chrispy does not know.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Lovecraft is Taken Seriously in Europe

Julio reports:

I don't know if you guys know that a Lovecraft-based movie was released here in Spain last year. It's name is "La herencia Valdemar" (The Valdemar Heritage). It's based on the Lovecraft Mythos, going through diverse things like the Necronomicon or Cthulhu. The second part (and the last one) is going to be released in a few days, and we all can see Cthulhu in action!

[OK, a fellow that looks somewhat like HPL appears at 1:18, and Cthulhu appears at 1:18. I love the color schemes chosen. -CP]

Friday, February 04, 2011

2,750 !!

Moving our way to 3,000 !
Stay tuned for more Lovecraft fun.


When HPL was very small he began to study astronomy. He learned about the known 8 planets, and as he closed into his teenaged years, he began to believe in a ninth planet - maybe more. He began to think of other people on other planets, maybe planets around other stars! Remember, in those days they had yet to fully understand that there was more than one galaxy - or even what a galaxy might be.

Now, we are there. Quintillions of stars, and maybe a googleplex of planets. And are there multiverses with their own stars and planets?

One thing I believe - the truth is stranger than we can imagine.

The Kepler spacecraft, launched in 2009, may have discovered as many as 1,200 new exoplanets, scientists announced today. They also shared details of a newfound planetary system with six worlds that have orbits closely packed together.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Lovecraft to C A Smith on Aleister Crowley

About six months ago {Larry Roberts} purchased some 15 or so boxes of old pre 1970 fanzines and some Arkham House books from an estate sale. ... last night at nearly midnight I pulled out an envelope that held a postcard hand written by H. P. Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith. What an amazing surprise indeed! For the collector/bookseller/lovecraftian that I am it was the equivalent to hitting a jackpot.


Larry Roberts is publisher of Bloodletting Press, Arcane Wisdom, Miskatonic Books, and several other endeavors.

After posting this, Larry discovered that the letter contained a reference to Crowley. This is arguably the first reference ever to Crowley by Lovecraft that has been uncovered.

STJ and Larry Roberts: New Mythos Venture

From S. T. Joshi's blog:

January 29, 2011

I'm excited to announce that Larry Roberts of Bloodletting Press and I are teaming up to launch a new series, the Modern Mythos Library, to be issued by one of Larry's sub-imprints, Arcane Wisdom. This series will publish vital and significant contemporary works of Cthulhu Mythos fiction by leading authors. Our first two selections have been chosen: Rick Dakan's splendid novel The Cult of Cthulhu and Jonathan Thomas's novel The Color over Occam. The latter is a loose sequel to "The Colour out of Space" and is one of the finest supernatural novels I have read in many years. I don't know the schedule of publication for these titles, but I hope they can appear this year.

My work on the Modern Mythos Library coincides with my withdrawal from the New Millennium Mythos published by Perilous Press. I hope that Perilous continues this worthy series.

You can read the full blog post by clicking here.


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