Saturday, February 15, 2020

Playlist II, February 2020: Daughter's Cosmic Horrors

I don't know what possessed me to write a Lovecraftian horror to the music of Daughter.  Maybe it was because some of their lyrics line up with the intent of the story, even if the music isn't exactly an aesthetic fit.

But, whatever... I think it works.  And I like Daughter, so... whatever... I used everything from their If You Leave album.

As usual: individual songs up top; complete playlist at the bottom.  As unusual: this playlist contains the three Daughter songs from the previous playlist since, you know, it's all one story.

Enjoy.

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"Beyond the Island in the Sky, Part 4: Arkham"




"Beyond the Island in the Sky, Part 5: The Manor"




"Beyond the Island in the Sky, Part 6: The Clergy"




"Beyond the Island in the Sky, Part 7: The University"




"Beyond the Island in the Sky, Part 8: The Snowstorm"




"Beyond the Island in the Sky, Part 9: Asylum"






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The Complete Playlist 2, February 2020


Beyond the Island in the Sky, Part 9: Asylum

*Continued from The Snowstorm

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Dear Mr. and Mrs. Forgeron,

Please be aware that I am a mere bearer of bad news.  There is quite simply nothing reassuring or otherwise comforting to be found in what you are about to read.  If you do not feel you can endure such distresses as are contained within, I implore you to burn this letter and accept that the son you know and loved is goneread more @ Museless Propaganda

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THE END

Beyond the Island in the Sky, Part 8: The Snowstorm

*Continued from The University

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Jean-Étienne Forgeron shields his eyes as best he can.  The snow from the storm stings his hands and his face, despite the gloves and the thick headscarf.  He'd been caught in blizzards before, near Lyon and Saint-Étienne, France, and in Boston, but this one is different.  This one feels like it's attacking him.  No matter the direction he turns, he plows headfirst into snow, sleet, and ice, the main form of… read more @ Museless Propaganda

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*Continued in Asylum

Beyond the Island in the Sky, Part 7: The University

*Continued from The Clergy

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Jean-Étienne doesn't know why he takes his breakfast at the cafe.  Perhaps because he's adjusted to its familiarity, though the sense of paranoia regarding the place never quite subsides.  The chance run-in with Sophia plays again and again in his mind, as does the strange elevenses.  More likely, it's the cafe's proximity to Miskatonic University… read more @ Museless Propaganda

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*Continued in The Snowstorm

Friday, February 14, 2020

Beyond the Island in the Sky, Part 6: The Clergy

*Continued from The Manor

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The sunlight seeps in through the curtains, the gap between the drapes just wide enough to illuminate the slice of dust in the bedroom.  The comfort of the bed serves as respite from the foreboding thoughts in Jean-Étienne's mind.  There's a sense of anxious nihilism that's softened, muffled by the cushioned pillows.  The mattress, even the blankets feel like a warm embrace… read more @ Museless Propaganda

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*Continued in The University

Irreverent Irrelevance: Lovecraft Rising

"Necromant" by Sanchiko

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The two of you who read this blog on a regular basis have probably figured out by now that I'm doing "The River of Mnemosyne" challenge again.  I was going to write about it and my story idea much earlier, but I got lazy, then got caught up in researching the story, then started writing it... so I sorta just didn't advertise the challenge.

Not that it matters.  We haven't had anybody new participate in years.  And even the old guard are slowly fading away.

Anyway...

I used to play tabletop role-playing games.  Dungeons & Dragons is the one you've likely heard of, but I hated that system.  I was a Star Wars nerd growing up, so I played a Star Wars-based role-playing game (RPG) instead, among occasional others.  But it's been well over a decade since the last time I partook.  Nearly two, I think.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, a buddy of mine is into role-playing games.  He's also an H.P. Lovecraft fanatic.  And there's a role-playing game called Cthulhu, which, obviously, is based on the mythos created by Lovecraft and expanded by dozens of fellow others... both contemporaries and friends of Lovecraft, as well as modern-day authors still writing shit about tentacled old eldritch gods and other obscure words.

Now, I'm not a huge Lovecraft fan.  Up until January of this year point, I've read maaaaaybe three Lovecraft short stories.  Yes, I've long been familiar with Lovecraft and his mythos (oddly enough, mainly by having been introduced to the existence of the Cthulhu RPG back in the early 90s), but, no, I hadn't ever been so familiar that I knew the titles of his stories, the names and locations of his fictional towns, nor the names and purposes of his gods and dream creatures.

Long story short... I knew what "Lovecraftian" meant, but I never really knew what it entailed.  And while I did, years ago, set out to write a Lovecraftian story on purpose ("A Winter Tale"), I've more often than not written Lovecraftian stories on accident ("Uncharted").  There was the matter of that unproduced short film script I was asked to write, but that's neither here nor there.

So, my buddy... the one into RPGs and H.P. Lovecraft... he starts pestering me about Cthulhu.  He brings the rule book over one night and is pretty excited about it, so I peruse it.  I don't know how many whiskeys it took (Bushmill's, I think... which may have been the problem), but I eventually agreed to make a character for a campaign he wanted to run.

Now, when I played RPGs on a regular basis, I was usually what's called "the gamemaster" (GM).  In Dungeons & Dragons, the role is called "the dungeon master" (DM), and some other popular games have their silly little honorifics for the position (in Cthulhu, for instance, the role is called "the keeper," which I guess means something to Lovecraft aficionados).  The GM is the person who creates the game, hosts the game, referees the game, and is basically "God" of a particular game world.  It's a lot of work to set up games properly, and it's often quite unforgiving.

Needless to say, most GMs are pieces of shit.  But, in my experience, a lot of that has to do with how lax GMs are when it comes to player character creation.  See, everyone who plays has to make a character to play.  Hence, "role-playing."  Most GMs seem to just let players come with up the character's attributes (traits like strength, agility, endurance... etc... because we all want to play bad-asses) and then jump right into playing.

Good GMs, however, don't do that.

They make their players role-play.  Heaven-fucking-forbid that's too much to ask.  And they make their players role-play by having characters detailed enough to role-play.  Basically, creating a living history for the character that informs the character's personality and knowledge of the game world.  It's acting for people who can't act and don't even want to.

When I was a GM, I made my players create a lot of detail.  Won't go into it now, since I'm practically rambling, but my point is, as a player in this Cthulhu game, I wanted to create a character worth role-playing.

So I did.  And that character is, by far, the most in-depth character my buddy has been the GM for.

Which brings me to the "River of Mnemosyne" (RoM) challenge.

See, I made this character in January, while I was trying to think of a story to write for RoM.  And as I was deep-diving into this character's past (a Frenchman born in 1878, who served with the French Foreign Legion during France's takeover of Morocco), I decided to kill two birds with one stone.

Except one of those birds has proven really hard to kill.

There's been an awful lot of research for this story ("Beyond the Island in the Sky").  I bought a book regarding France's said takeover of Morocco.  I consulted with a scientist friend from the La Brea Tar Pits regarding the ancient geological history of Morocco.  I've been reading stuff about New England - Massachusetts and Rhode Island in particular, given Lovecraft's settings and his personal connection to the area.  I've read up on the history of the Old Corner Bookstore in Boston (now, sadly, a Chipotle) and the late 19th and early 20th century history of Eastern Massachusetts' electric train and trolley system (which was quite impressive).

And I've (finally) read enough of H.P. Lovecraft's short stories that the mythos is starting to sit in my brain.  I don't really like the man's style of writing, but the lore is quiet wonderful, and it's easy to see why he became so popular and remains so influential in literary circles.

In the past two weeks, I've read "The Call of Cthulhu", "The Nameless City", "The Dunwich Horror", "The Dreams in the Witch House", "The Rats in the Walls", "The Colour out of Space", "The Haunter of the Dark", and "The Thing on the Doorstep".  I even read Robert Bloch's "The Shambler from the Stars", given that Lovecraft's"The Haunter of the Dark" is a sequel to it.

Not that anybody's asking, but of those, "The Dreams in the Witch House", "The Rats in the Walls", and "The Thing on the Doorstep" are my favorites.

As of this posting, I've got five of nine chapters up (my Museless Propaganda blog is public during RoM, so they're available to read for the time being) and I'm almost done with chapter six.  I am having fun playing in the world Lovecraft created, but I made the mistake of not straying far enough away from his style of prose, which is muting that fun a bit.

Anyway, I suppose I need to get back to writing that story.  I just felt like letting y'all know what the fuck is happening.  If you're a fan of Lovecraft, please read my crap and post a comment.  Offer a critique, a complaint, a suggestion, or point out a misspelled word.  Or, Hell, just tell me if you love it or hate it.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Beyond the Island in the Sky, Part 5: The Manor

*Continued from Arkham

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The interior of Sophia's home is gorgeous.  Elaborate.  Ornate.  Decorated with trinkets and artifacts from around the world, some of which Jean-Étienne feels should be in proper museum collections.  To Jean-Étienne, whose lifestyle has always been what one could kindly describe as humble, the overt flaunting of wealth makes him uncomfortable… read more @ Museless Propaganda

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*Continued in The Clergy

Movie Irreview: Honey Boy


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As someone who is usually turned off by the presence of Shia LaBeouf in a movie, I was fully prepared to strongly dislike Honey Boy.  Indeed, during the first 15 minutes or so of watching Honey Boy, I was actively searching for reasons to hate it.

Except... by minute 16, I was fully engrossed and - to my disdainful surprise - I found myself quite liking what I was seeing.  It felt raw, it felt honest, and the acting by LaBeouf, 14-year-old Noah Jupe, and Lucas Hedges (who, despite not looking like LaBeouf or Jupe, really nailed playing LaBeouf) was fantastic.

My friend Sheila was a little bored, though while she, too, holds a disdain for Shia (if only because you can't spell "Sheila" without "Shia"), felt the movie was solid enough.

Still, I've got to dock it point for that ending.  It didn't feel right.  Too easy, maybe?  Too metaphorical?  Too meta?  Perhaps a bit lazy.  Or perhaps just failed in the hands of a first-time feature director who otherwise delivered a great film.

That stated, I'll happily watch Har'el's next effort.

7/10.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Beyond the Island in the Sky, Part 4: Arkham

*Continued from The Necronomicon

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Arkham is, at first glance, just another growing Massachusetts city.  Georgian, Federalist, and Victorian architecture dominate the valley center, from the river to the surrounding hills.  On the outskirts and in the poorer neighborhoods, rotting colonial buildings are commonplace, though the charm of those colonials either carefully or desperately preserved hits Jean-Étienne with a pang of… read more @ Museless Propaganda

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*Continued in The Manor

Friday, February 7, 2020

Movie Irreview: Re-Animator


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Despite a fondness for cheesy 80s horror films, I have never seen Re-Animator until today.  Not sure why I've avoided it, but I have.  I often see its sequel available on streaming, but have rarely spotted Re-Animator itself on a service, so maybe that's why.

Also, caveat... I watched the 85-minute version, and not the uncut 105-minute version.

Anyway, Re-Animator is a load of fun.  It's definitely a product of its decade, and that's a good thing.  While it doesn't age well, it (mostly) manages to contain its exploitative nature and serves up quite a few well-deserved laughs.  While it's not the type of "Lovecraftian" story I was hoping for, I'm glad I watched it and might try to find both the extended version and the sequel.

I did appreciate the random tentacle during the climatic battle.  And who knew the appearance of Dr. Hans Gruber would finally make the title of Die Hard make sense!

6/10.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Playlist I, February 2020: Cosmic Horrors

Well, been a while since I collected and collated a proper playlist.

Not much to say, except that my mood is good, my writing seems to be good, and my finances are the worst they've ever been.

Whatever.  Have another Irish whiskey.

As usual: individual songs up top; complete playlist at the bottom.

Enjoy.

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"No Such Places Like Home"




"2020: An Irrespective"




"Beyond the Island in the Sky, Part 1: The Sandstorm"




"Beyond the Island in the Sky, Part 2: The Bookstore"




"Beyond the Island in the Sky, Part 3: The Necronomicon"




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The Complete Playlist 1, February 2020


Beyond the Island in the Sky, Part 3: The Necronomicon

*Continued from The Bookstore

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"Mr. Fields, have you ever been to Arkham?"

Fields reacts to the question with alarm.  It's subtle, but not so subtle that Jean-Étienne doesn't notice.

"Why, yes," Fields says, clearing his throat.  "Why do you ask?  And call me Davis.  You've been here long enough… read more @ Museless Propaganda

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*Continued in Arkham

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Beyond the Island in the Sky, Part 2: The Bookstore

*Continued from The Sandstorm

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Fourteen years later.  November 12, 1919.

The Old Corner Bookstore.  Boston, Massachusetts.

"Why are you at work?"

Jean-Étienne Forgeron looks up, offering his interrogator a smile.  "I don't have any stationary in my… read more @ Museless Propaganda

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*Continued in The Necronomicon

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Beyond the Island in the Sky, Part 1: The Sandstorm



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Étienne du Motier shields his eyes as best he can.  The sand from the storm stings his hands and his face, despite the gloves and the thick headscarf.  He'd been caught in a sandstorm before, just outside of Marrakesh, but he'd been bivouacked with the other legionnaires and there were plenty of locals to help dig them out.  Étienne had no idea that sandstorms struck so high in the Atlas mountains, nor… read more @ Museless Propaganda

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*Continued in The Bookstore