Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Cheer and H. P. Lovecraft

Original work by Jared Hindman
For this Halloween I have decided to make a post two of H. P. Lovecraft’s works:  “Rats in the Walls” and “The Statement of Randolph Carter” in a variety of formats from video and audio to e text formats. Rats in the Walls and The Statement of Randolph Carter are both about the unseen, concurrent, and mercifully unrevealed.  The rats and far worse are never seen while the creatures of other dimensions are all around us and without external help, never seen either.  Lovecraft said, "The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents".

One of the great linchpins of the Mythos is the co-relationship of the other horrible dimensions with ours along with the great ancient evils that preexist our own world and will exist afterward.  For Lovecraft, the overlay of human rationality is just a defensive mechanism we have created to mask the true terrors all around us.  To see more, one would require a Tillinghast Resonator.

Rats in the Walls  by the Vancouver Film School on Youtube

Tiger Lilies with Alexander Hacke perform their take of Rats in the Walls on their Mountains of Madness tour 2005

The Statement of Randolph Carter Dramatic Reading   

For those of you who like the electronic portability of e texts:

Download rats in the walls electronic text version

Download The Statement of Randolph Carter electronic text version


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Call of Cthulhu RPG, but Speakeasy, Brother

Here is a little bit of background for those of you who are playing Call of Cthulhu in the 1920s.  A major meeting place for illicit activities were places where illegal substances could be imbibed.  I’m not talking about drug dens, but ... bars.  Beer and liquor was made illegal by national prohibition (in the U.S. October 1919 to December 1933) although some states such as Mississippi had prohibition from 1908 to 1964.  The 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act, the same year pretty much put selling liquor out of business, legally in the whole of the United States.

Needless to say, where there is a will, there’s a drink and bootleggers began to manufacture, import, distribute, and sell illegal alcohol drinks in semi-secret locations all over the country.  Real bottle and bond liquor was sold with dangerous rotgut and moonshine of dubious origin and manufacture to anybody who was willing to pay for the stuff.  Illegal bars, speakeasies, sprang up all over.  Organized crime flourished and millions were to be made.  Of course, gang wars also sprang up as well all the inherent vices associated with gangs.  Graft and corruption was rampant: from just looking the other way and payoffs to fixing elections and murder.  Millions were made and lost and gang warfare paralyzed cities for a decade.

Speakeasies were a place where the affluent could drink with low-lifes, if they had the price of a drink.  Many illicit deals were made in speakeasies and the incessant smuggling involved with alcohol meant that other items might be smuggled as well.  Speakeasies might also host gambling and possibly drugs as well as worse vices as millionaires and petty overdressed thugs mingled.  Information could also be disseminated or picked up in speakeasies and illicit clubs.

I have added a short list of some of the most popular cocktail drinks of the Roaring 20s for a bid of added authenticity to the article.  Cocktails, which had been around since the 1820s became even more popular as the sweet and strong flavorings in cocktails could mask inferior liquor and even some of the terrible rotgut manufactured in basements might be sellable with lots of flavoring mixed in.  This list is mostly of highly popular prohibition mixed drinks, which are seldom made now, 90 years later.  This list (in no particular order) is by no means exhaustive or definitive but I have included some links that will help you with your 1920s liquid quest for authenticity for period speakeasy drinking.

French 75
In a cocktail shaker, add and shake well with cracked ice:
1 1/2 oz French cognac (later gin was substituted)
1/2 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3/4 oz simple sugar syrup
Strain into highball glass full of cracked ice and top off with chilled champagne.

Mary Pickford
In a cocktail shaker, shake well with cracked ice:
1 1/2 oz white rum
1 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
1/2 teaspoon grenadine
Strain into chilled cocktail glass and drop in a maraschino cherry.

Colony Cocktail
In a cocktail shaker, shake well with cracked ice:
1 1/2 oz gin
3/4 oz grapefruit juice
2 tsp maraschino
Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

In a cocktail shaker, shake well with cracked ice:
1 1/4 oz cognac
1/2 oz triple sec liqueur
3/4 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Strain into chilled, sugar-rimmed cocktail glass

Bacardi Cocktail
In a cocktail shaker, shake well with cracked ice:
1 1/2 oz light rum
1 /2 oz lime juice
3 dashes grenadine
Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Old Fashioned
2 oz. Whiskey or Bourbon, a splash of simple syrup, bitters, and Soda. Fill  glass with ice, add simple syrup, bitters, liquor, and soda, garnish with an orange slice and cherry.

 Barbary Coast
In a cocktail shaker, shake well with cracked ice:
3/4 oz blended scotch
3/4 oz gin
3/4 oz crème de cacao
3/4 oz heavy cream
Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

In a cocktail shaker, shake well with cracked ice:
1 1/4 oz cognac
1/2 oz triple sec liqueur
3/4 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Strain into chilled, sugar-rimmed cocktail glass

Rob Roy

1½ oz. Blended Scotch Whiskey
¼ oz. White Vermouth
¼ oz. Red Vermouth
Dash of Angostura Bitters
Maraschino Cherry

There are a few variations in this drink:
There are several variations of this drink:
High Ball
Actually a series of drinks:

Martini Cocktail
A huge variation of martini cocktails are listed, so here are some links:

Brass Monkey
1 shot Bacardi rum 
1 shot vodka 
2½ shots Freshly squeezed lemon juice 
1 shot simple syrup

White Lady
2 ounces gin
½ ounces triple sec liqueur
½ ounce lemon juice
1 egg white

Anyway, you get the gist:  sweet syrup and liqueurs and a wild mix of liquors.  If minions and cultists don’t get you, the bad hooch will.  Knock three times and tell ‘em CoastConFan sent you.

Friday, October 21, 2011

SNEAKY GUNS, Part II - Combination Guns

Hidden from site and often in deadly combinations, these sneaky guns have more than one use and they strike close and hard.  

In Sneaky Guns Part 1, I covered cane guns, which also had a blade attached, so refer to that article for those items.  I am going to talk about other types of guns in combination such as blades and hidden in un-gun-like objects.

Sneaky guns can be camouflaged in innocuous objects such as camera cases, a grip bag fired while being held by the handle, pen guns, belt buckle guns.  Almost any object of sufficient size can have a gun hidden inside.  In movies, a common book can be hollowed out to hold contraband, money or a gun.  Sometimes they just have a trap, so beware.

Guns could also be carried in hidden holsters such as vests with holsters sewn on out of sight, shoulder holsters, inside waistband holsters.  Automated spring driven mechanisms could also be employed to bring a small gun quickly in action such as the sleeve gun holster system.  Small guns could also be put into hat holsters and drawn discreetly while holding the hat politely.   Shoulder holsters have been common since the middle of the 19th century, they are not just something gumshoes had in the 1930s. 
  Criminals, detectives, gamblers, spies, inventors, and just plain old collectors of kooky weapons all might have sneaky guns in their possession.  The guns I have presented are all real and some as close to gaslight era or steampunk as you can get.  Most of these weapons depend to concealability and surprise to be effective.  They are exposed at the correct moment, used and then return to their camouflaged exterior.
Generally, they don’t do all that much damage and have to be used close up, but some are silent and certainly unexpected.  I recommend such toys sparingly in the Call of Cthulhu RPG and other role playing games.  Most of these are Victorian, which is a period I enjoy, although I have put a in few that are 20th century for the rest of you RPGers and Steampunk fans.