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I am a multimedia designer and aspiring writer from Central Illinois who dreams of bigger things. You are entering the hub of my online world. Welcome. Make yourself at home, read some stuff, click a few things, maybe check out my online portfolio. And of course, if you enjoy your stay, please subscribe.

*NOTE* This blog occasionally contains coarse language. Please use discretion when viewing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

HPL Review: The Music of Erich Zann

Art by David Reuss
"The Music of Erich Zann" was the first story of this collection that I read. It's a tale about a man in a boarding house who befriends a mute viol player that keeps a portal to another dimension at bay with his bizarre, dissonant music. Very Lovecraftian without delving into any Cthulhu mythos specifics. No night-gaunts, shoggoths, Great Old Ones, R'lyeh or Dreamlands; just a first-person account of the narrator's maddening encounter with a gateway to a dimension of complete emptiness which may or may not be attempting to spawn eldritch creatures borne of the horrible, unfathomable chilly depths of space itself.
It's a quick, easy read that can be tackled in one sitting. I quite enjoyed it.

As always, the atmosphere is conveyed with skillful mastery by the author. The description of the Rue d'Auseil paints a vivid picture. For some reason, in my mind the town seems to have been designed by Tim Burton or Dr. Seuss, or perhaps it was some sort of collaboration. I see impossibly angular and vertically superlative buildings teetering, yet inexplicably stable, on their practically 90-degree cobbled slope.

The story sucks you in slowly with a stranger coming to town and getting settled. It gradually builds interest as he inquires about the man playing the strange music. The pace begins to quicken as the characters meet and we realize there is probably more to the music than meets the ear. There is no doubt about where the climax comes, as the frantic music is playing, the wind is blowing, the colors are dancing, the lead character is shouting and fighting against the forces which pull from this world into the next... Whew.

What brought the story to my attention in the first place was the song titled "Erich Zann" from the Mythos album by C.G. Gross. I recommend both this story and that CD, especially for the Lovecraft initiate.


Garret: noun | a top-floor or attic room, especially a small, dismal one  |  ex. We took Grandma's rocking chair and tea set to the garret as she instructed in the letter we received prior to her arrival.

Declivity: noun |  a downward slope  |  ex. Seeing Jones' helpless expression and the declivity of the graph he was about to present, the Board of Directors had a pretty solid notion that he was not delivering pleasant news.

Capricious: noun |  given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behavior  |  ex. There is very little in nature than can be as unpredictable as the capricious nature of a premenstrual Tasmanian She-Devil.

Crabbed: adj |  contorted and difficult to understand  |  ex. Due to the arthritis and Parkinson's disease, her crabbed sign language was a nightmare to decipher.

Friday, August 24, 2012

HPL Review: The Curse of Yig

My first exposure to the name Yig was in 1989 when GWAR released their seminal album Scumdogs of the Universe, which included the track “The Horror of Yig,” a song which gave little if no indication of who or what Yig was. Years later, I’ve run into the name a few times here and there in reading or gaming sessions. Now, after finally having read this story, I can finally say I know what Yig is.

The Curse of Yig is a tale within a tale; a doctor at an asylum relates to an American Indian anthropologist in 1925 the story of a married 19th century settler couple and their run-in with the mystery surrounding the legend of the Indian Snake God and “half-human father of serpents,” Yig.
This is the origin tale of Yig, initially written by Zealia Bishop but referred to Lovecraft in 1928 for fleshing out. Accepting it as a paid job, Lovecraft did so, and returned the story to Bishop, who promptly sold it to Weird Tales magazine under her own name; it was subsequently printed in 1929.

No spoilers here, but there are a few key plot points I can reveal.

1. The settler husband, Walker Davis, is terrified of snakes, with an “almost epileptic fear.”

2. Yig is a snake god who watches over his progeny on earth, vowing vengeance on all who harm them.

3. An old Indian squaw told Walker, when he was small, that he would meet his end owing to snakes.

4. The Indians in the story are preoccupied with appeasing and sating Yig to avoid his wrath.

5. In the beginning, the anthropologist is shown some sort of horrifying snake/human hybrid creature locked away deep in the asylum underground, and it is the precursor to revealing the Davises’ story.

The story is expertly woven, the atmosphere portrayed with horrifying detail. As the story progresses, you can almost hear the ritual pounding of the Wichita Indians’ tom-toms in the distance. When they finally and suddenly stop, you can really feel the same dread felt by the main character. That entire scene is a nailbiter.

The other image that drills its way into your brain and nests there for a few hours after you’re finished is what happened (in a story within the story within the story) to the man who suffers dozens of venomous bites from an entire horde of rattlesnakes. I will say no more. (shudder)

This story is written in a far less arcane manner than most of the other HPL tales I’ve read to this point. I would venture to categorize it as a wonderful place to begin if you’ve never exposed yourself to Lovecraft’s writings before but are curious about them. You’ll spend far less time during the reading of this story looking up words in the dictionary or struggling to understand them through mere context clues than you will with most of the others I’ve had a chance to look at.

The toughest bits of reading were really the passages of dialog exchanged between the Davises. Remember Stephen King’s role in Creepshow? The country bumpkin covered with alien meteorite-spawned moss? Yeah, it’s like two of him talking to each another only missing maybe three more teeth each. It’s a consistently illustrated dialect, to be sure, but a hard one to decode at times.

The Curse of Yig is a fantastic story. Of the seven or eight I’ve read so far, this is the most accessible and easily one of the most enjoyable. It took me two sessions of reading to get through it.


Sententious: adj | given to moralizing in a pompous or affected manner | ex. I could no longer stand the sententious lecture of the Southern Baptist preacher, so I quietly excused myself from the congregation.

Squamous*: adj | covered with or categorized by scales | ex. Wonder Woman never got it on with Aquaman because she was completely turned off by his squamous genitals.

Salient: adj | most noticeable or important | ex. I understand now why jumping off this bridge is a poor idea; the gravity issue you bring up is a salient point.

Saltatory: adj | archaic | relating to the action of leaping or jumping | ex. I wanted to dance with the strangely beautiful mutated grasshopper woman, but I found it hard to keep up with her saltatory style.

Bluff: adj | direct in speech or behavior but in a good-natured way | ex. Uncle Marty was a bluff man, sure to tell it like it is and probably make you laugh in the process.

*this one I actually looked up after coming across it in a game of Cthulhu Gloom

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

E-book review: A protracted, wearisome endeavor

I purchased, weeks ago, a voluminous electronic collection of the myriad writings of one Mr. Howard Phillips Lovecraft. It is my intention to painstakingly forage my way through this immense volume story by story, poem by poem, letter by letter, until I stand victorious over my 9,163-page conquest, wiser as a reader and substantially more learned in the mythos of the Ancient Ones and related eldritch phantasmagoric creatures.

I shall, after having devoured each of the collection's offerings (if I myself have not been devoured instead), post in this forum my impression of the piece at hand, along with any newly discovered arcane diction I have added to my working lexicon as a result of said reading.

I am already several tales into this compendium, though to be fair you should know I have been consuming the offerings in a nonlinear fashion, skipping around pointedly to the stories that most pique my interest (weighing that, of course, against the heft of the tale itself, for sake of calculating the required time investment).

I shall begin my series of reviews with the tale I most favor of those I have taken in thus far. That shall be my forthcoming subsequent missive on this site, assuming the consumption of these tales does not drive me to madness. I thank you for your readership and await our next meeting in this Other World the gibbering hordes know as Cyberspace.