Autodidact: self-taught


Goth Blogs

by V. L. Craven

I’ve been looking for Goth blogs for quite some time and, for whatever reason, did not find that for which I most desperately sought. Google either didn’t like me or it didn’t like Goths or both. Either way, I knew the creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky people had to be out there and I knew they had to have internet connections.

Well, lo and behold, I’ve finally found a cache of blogs for the macabre. I know there are more, but this is a start.

If your blog doesn’t appear here,  it’s not a snub, we simply haven’t found one another yet. Please leave a comment if you have/know of a blog of interest to the macabre-minded and I’ll be updating this post as time goes on.


Alice Lost & The Monster Brigade : Hair and fashion, music, fiction and more music.

Bats in the Belfry, Cats in the Attic: On the tag post,some of her fav books were The Monk, The Virgin Suicides, and Lolita. Nice to meet you!

Black Ink and Black Cats: She’s a writer who loves coffee and chocolate and cats. Her tag post is here.

The Blogging Goth : UK-based journalist blogging about news important to Goths. I had the pleasure of interviewing him .

Breakfast Zombie: DIY awesomeness that looks like a homemade zine.

Cemetery Dreams:  She did a post on Highgate Cemetery . And a post with photos of some of her books.

Confessions of an Australian Goth: Goth style-focused blog.

Darkling Dreams : A blog by a goth who’s into games and books and writing, comic books and horror movies. She also likes creepy and cute things. I checked and I’m pretty sure this is my only site.


Eternal Wynter : Personal Gothic style and lifestyle blog

The Everyday Goth : I love the elegant design on this one. ‘For the everyday Goths who sleep in beds rather than coffins and prefer tea to concentrated doom.’ Heh. This person is an English major. The first post on her blog when I found it was about finding spooky books on GoodReads.

From the Crow’s Beak : Love, love the background on this site. Also, the first post that came up had a photo of her tuxedo cat that looked like mine, whose name is Vladimir Rasputin and he was headbutting a copy of Detection by Gaslight . I recognised the cover because I have a copy.

The Gothic Embrace : Very well-written blog with posts about live performances by people like Voltaire (lucky), as well as very well-researched articles like this one about Elizabeth Bathory , who is one of those people I find quite interesting.


Insomniac’s Attic: A beautiful site for lovers of oddities and antiques.

The Last Abomination: The blog of a 17 year old Slovakian photographer, snake-keeping, spider-keeping goth. His post about losing his pet snake broke my heart, and the one about his bafflement at the love of summer made me laugh.

The Life of a Baby Bat : Fashion and DIY for the most part, also personal blog of a younger gothling.

The Life of Chloe Noir : Blog of a Slovakian young woman centred mostly around fashion, photography (both in front of and behind the camera) and music.

Lucretia’s Reflection : Fashion, music, and other things of interest to the darker-inclined.

Madam Mari Mortem:  Victorian elegant DIY blog about make-up and clothes and jewellery and other loveliness. And she has a cat named Poe. So. Yeah.

Maudlin Pixie:  On the posts I looked at I saw a mention of Gloom ,a Black Books reference, and a desire to own a human skull. We can be friends. Also, the site is elegant and I dig her logo.


Nocturne Street:  General Goth blog by a 20 year old Londoner. Lots of music and other fun things. I really like the design of this one.

The Order of the Good Death: A website devoted to bringing death back into everyday life, written by a mortician. Highlighted in this post.

Petticoats and Saddle Soap: An Australian Goth blog primarily focused on music. It doesn’t update often, but the posts are good. It’s how I learned about Johnny Hollow’s ‘Rasputin’, which I quite enjoy.

Roses and Vellum: Steampunk and Gothic and Neo-Victorian.


ScaryDad : Everyday Halloween DIY. Also film and book reviews. My interview with ScaryDad can be read here .

Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor : I’ve been to one of the places this blogger wants to go and it rocks. I hope she gets to go.

Undead Machinery : Entertainment for the living, deceased and the undead. With some very funny comics featuring the Grim Reaper. My interview with the proprietress here .

Underground for Tea : A very red blog about Gothic fashion.

Upon a Midnight Dreary : Run by the lovely Dahlia Dreary, Upon a Midnight Dreary features articles about goth fashion, artists, events and destinations.


Vampire Rose, the Aging Goth : A personal blog from an ‘aging Goth’, talking about growing up before Goth was even a thing.

Veracious and Goth : A well-written, blog about Goth music, DIY, fashion and culture.

The Walrus Room : Goth fashion and music and film.


Facebook for the Macabre

by V. L. Craven

If your Facebook newsfeed is a little boring or, Heaven forfend, cheerful, then like a few of these pages and gloom that thing up.

Morbid Anatomy Image

From Morbid Anatomy’s FB page



Community Pages

Image by Kirill Semenov

Image by Kirill Semenov via Dancing with Death


Thanatos Archive Photo

From The Thanatos Archive


Dahlia Jane having a day out

Dahlia Dreary (right) in bitchin’ shoes, with a ‘friend’


Bloodletting kit from Loved to Death

Bloodletting kit from Loved to Death


  • The Autodidact in the Attic : The Facebook page for this site, where I post all sorts of extra macabre things that don’t necessarily warrant their own blog posts.
  • Confessions of a Funeral Director : The FB page of writer Caleb Wilde , a 6th generation licenced funeral director and embalmer. Loads of funeral-based information, humour and images. (Hearses and coffins and caskets, oh my!)
  • The Morthouse : Skeletons, mummies, bog bodies, exhumations. The dead, and what happens to them. Mostly news stories having to do with death–nothing too gruesome. Mostly. Companion page to the website .
  • The Order of the Good Death : The FB companion page to the OGD website , which is about reconciling people with the concept of death–like the good old days. It’s also the home of the Ask a Mortician videos. You can see my post about those videos here .
  • ScaryDad : The FB page for the ScaryDad blog, whom I’ve interviewed .
ScaryDad is Scary

One of ScaryDad’s upcoming projects? Scary indeed.


Have I missed any out? What are you favourite FB pages?


Oddities and Odd Folks

by V. L. Craven

I’ve only recently discovered the Science Channel’s shows Oddities and Odd Folks Home. And they could not be more up my street.

Science Channel Oddities Logo

It all starts with Oddities, which is about a real life curiosities shop in New York called Obscura, where the owners Mike and Evan revel in the macabre and grotesque. If you’re in need of a two-headed pig foetus in a jar or a bone saw from 1921, they’re the ones to call.

Their YouTube channel has loads of great clips from various episodes and the first two series (they’re on the fourth now) are on Netflix in the US. If you live elsewhere and watch the show, please leave a comment to let me know if it’s available where you are.

If you can’t make it to New York, you can shop on their website , which is mostly logoed merch, but it’s still pretty cool.

[Now, I must fangirl for a moment. This is not something I do very frequently. I can’t remember the last time I did, actually, so enjoy this.]

Ryan Matthew Cohn works at Obscura and… is a rather attractive fellow.

Ryan Matthew Cohn Oddities Black and White

Hello, good sir.

And he wears a suit all the time.

Ryan Matthew Cohn Oddities Black and White suit and skull

So… Do you come here frequently?

And he likes to play with dead things.

Ryan Matthew Cohn Oddities Beauchene Skull

And WHO is your lovely friend?

I’m happily married and all that, but I’d love to go to fun places with Mr Cohn. The Mutter Museum would be great. And I want to wander around his house and look at everything. Because I bet it would be AWESOME. We saw a bit of it in the eighth episode of the first series, but I want more of a snoop. Luckily, there are loads of photos of his collection on his Tumblr page .

He has a website with some of his skeletons and skulls, cufflinks and a bracelet I would wear all the time.


Aside from Mr Dark & Handsome, one of the most entertaining parts of the show are some of the regular customers.

In the first episode, we meet Edgar Oliver, who is a playwright, poet and performance artist.

I was thinking how brilliant it would be to have something he said in the first episode as a ringtone. And, because the Internet is fantastic sometimes, it already exists. Set it as your ringtone today!

He also did a reading of Poe’s ‘The Raven’. Because of course he did.

And this brings us to Odd Folks Home, which, bizarrely, does not have a website of its own, but is nonetheless wonderful. (YouTube has some clips, naturally.)

I dig the Harry Potter meets Danny Elfman music. I’ll wait whilst you scrape your chin up off the floor.

It’s hosted by Mr Oliver up there and features some of the more eccentric regulars at Obscura and their fabulously macabre collections. In the first episode, we got to see more of Laura Flook , the model/mortician/dress designer. (She also has a website .) Ms Flook is sort of Wednesday Addams crossed with Lilith Sternin (Frasier’s wife from Cheers). In other words, I want to be friends with her. And I want to read her book, which is not being made at the moment and that bums me right out. If someone has a copy you’d like to lend me I’d be super careful with it and would return it posthaste upon reading it.

And her dog’s name is Trocar. Trocar wears a ruff. There is nothing about that I don’t love down to the molecular level.

So if you haven’t already, check out the shows and if you’ve been to Obscura, tell me what you bought/sold/saw.

[In doing research for this post I’ve discovered that the Science Channel has two other shows–Oddities: San Francisco & Dark Matters: Twisted but True. If you’ve seen either of those, leave a comment and let me hear your thoughts, please.]


Insomnia: How to Kill it in the Face

by V. L. Craven

Insomnia  has been my nemesis since I was eight. My mother got up for work at 4.30 in the morning. She’d get me up and dressed and such, then drop me off at whatever lucky soul was looking after me at the time’s house and I’d sleep a couple hours before getting on the bus for school. That was my school-day routine from eight until fourteen.

Bizarrely, I’ve had problems sleeping my entire life. It’s almost as though getting into an unhealthy cycle as a child can affect how you function as an adult. Crazy.

Fight Club Insomnia Quote

But I digress. Insomnia. I hate that thing. I don’t think it’s a He or She. It’s some sort of amorphous entity from a Hell dimension Pinhead would avoid. You’re tired all day, but when you get into bed you know you’re going to sleep poorly and be exhausted the next day, as well.

I don’t know which came first–my depression or my insomnia, but even after my depression buggered off I was still stuck with the sleeplessness. I’d taken sleeping pills since I was twelve and was never able to sleep without them. Which is why when people say, ‘If you can’t sleep without them you’re addicted to sleeping pills,’ I respond, ‘I couldn’t sleep without them before I’d taken even one. Was I addicted then, too? And shut up, you’ve probably never known the hell that is being tired all the time.’ It’s like when people who’ve never had kids give parenting advice. Shut. Up.

What was I talking about? Oh right. Having a love-hate relationship with sleep my entire conscious life. It was dreadful. Being tired was my number one occupation growing up. Which is why I felt like I’d scaled K2 when I finally bashed insomnia’s stupid face in. … Or whatever you do with an amorphous entity. Probably trap it in an ancient magical vessel of some description. More on how I did it later in this post.

Hitchcock solves insomnia

This is not the way I’ve handled it, but I understand the inclination

Long-term lack-of-sleep can lead to all sorts of health problems including heart failure , which is a pretty big deal. And it’s dangerous not just for the insomniac, but the people driving on the roads with the insomniac, as well. Or anyone involved with a sleep-deprived half-person. You’re not your true self when overly tired (or hungry or in pain).

For the lucky sods who’ve never experienced long-term insomnia, The National Sleep Foundation (whose motto is ‘Waking America to the Importance of Sleep’ …Um…) have an article that is a nice introduction to the joy of the walking death including common causes.

For the rest of us,  this article  from the Huffington Post has some tips that may or may not work for you, which is something you can say for a great deal of medical treatments. Try everything. Whatever works for you, works.

Something they don’t go into in that article is the effect blue light (like from a computer screen) can have on melatonin production. Melatonin is your body’s natural sleep aid. You can buy it over the counter, as well. For awhile I was taking Seroquel, but it began to make me gain weight. A lot of weight. Prior to that it was Tylenol PM. I tried some other things but they didn’t work in the slightest and were jettisoned so quickly I can’t recall their names.

f.lux logo For the computer/ipad/LCD technology people, f.lux is software that changes the colour of your computer screen to match the colour of the room you’re in. Meaning, if it’s ‘blue’ outside, like during sunlight hours, the screen looks like it normally does, but when it’s darker outside and the room you’re in is a warm tone (from the interior lights) your screen shifts to the warmer tone. It’s free and available for Linux (wahoo!), Windows, and Mac. Give it a go. It can’t possibly hurt. (As of March 2013, it’s only available for iPad/iPhone if your device is jailbroken, boo!)

And now, as promised,

How I defeat insomnia on a nightly basis:  I take two Melatonin at the same time every night and have a routine of brushing my teeth and having a shower. Then get into bed by ten. Do my notes about the day and read. Try to lie down by eleven, but sometimes it’s closer to twelve. Then I start counting numbers.

Numb3rs cast

Not that! There are only, like, seven people on that show. That wouldn’t take very long.

I actually picture the numbers in my head. My insomnia has always come from racing thoughts so counting and ‘seeing’ the numbers gives me something to focus on. One number on inhale, the next on exhale. It helps me pay attention to how rapidly and deeply I’m breathing, and I remind myself to relax every other number. Then picking up at the nearest 100 the next night. Tonight I’ll start at 108,200.

Counting is also a good way to judge how long it takes to fall asleep. On a good night, it’s less than a hundred. I still have nights where it’s 500, but I stay in bed. They tell you to get up if you’re not asleep in ten minutes and try again a bit later. That doesn’t work for me because, even on a good night, I’m not asleep in ten minutes.

If I wake in the middle of the night, I stay in bed and focus on counting. You’re supposed to get up, but I’d just be up for several hours and then dead tired when I was supposed to be working.

Counting is very much like meditation, in that it takes time to become good at it–at refocusing your brain on something comparatively boring and maintaining the focus for a long period of time–but not being knackered is definitely worth it.

If you’ve overcome insomnia, leave a comment with how you’ve done it.

Bonus Information!
Insomnia cookies I was looking for links on insomnia and Google auto-predicted ‘Insomnia Cookies’. I thought they must be cookies with something in them to help a person sleep, but no, it’s a cookie company. And they deliver until 3 a.m. I’d love to see a graph of the primary cookie delivery purchaser throughout the day. My guess would be that around eleven or so the norms would peter out and it would be all stoners and pregnant women. If anyone who works there reads this, please drop a comment.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t include this–one of my fav songs from the 90s, ‘Insomnia’ by Faithless.


This Post is Better than Monday

by V. L. Craven

You know what’s better than Monday? Everything. The links in this post are part of everything that isn’t Monday, and, therefore, are better than Monday.

If the first day of the workweek makes you feel like Catherine Martin at the bottom of a well, here are some other things to do.

Jame Gumb as Monday

‘It puts the business casual on its body.’

Surviving the deadliest meal in the world with Leo Benedictus is better than Monday. At least you don’t have to eat bits of flavourless condom (read the article and that will make sense.)

Fugu starts with FU for a reason

Fugu starts with F U for a reason

You can pretend you have no fear of loss of life and limb and would jump off a rope swing set up over a 400 foot drop by compound bow (not really) like these lunatics. [Then watch the making of video–it’s incredible.]

Once you’ve recovered from the adrenaline rush, spend a few minutes wishing you had the focus and determination (and funds) to construct a truly impressive Hogwarts out of Lego.

Alice Finch Lego Hogwarts

And you thought Grawp was big.

No matter your job, at least you don’t have to pick up a road-killed wolf, then skin and gut it.
[Or if that seems freakin’ brilliant, live vicariously through Emily Graslie of The Brain Scoop in this playlist.]

If you need some fresh air after the blood and viscera and …smells, you could take a short walk outside and play #4 on this list of Four Free Games You Can Play to Make Life More Interesting. And if you have cool friends, perhaps some of them will play #1 on the list or even #3. (I loathe Karaoke, but would absolutely play Karaoke Russian Roulette with John and Hank Green and Emily Graslie. [Mostly I want to see the three of them sing ‘She Blinded Me with Science’ like an 80s power ballad, but I’d be happy with anything.] Call me, guys.)

Whatever you do with the rest of your day…



Cover Letters – Bane of the Unemployed

by V. L. Craven

I have to write a cover letter for my CV.

CVs/Resumes are fine, because they’re straightforward. ‘This is where I’ve worked and what I did whilst there.’ Fine.

Cover letters are the nightmare of those of us incapable of bragging without being sarcastic.

And is anyone as great as their cover letter implies? And if no one is, what are interviewers looking for? Surely, you know I’m, right? I’m not lying, but no one is as enthusiastic about being a secretary as I’m going to need to sound like. Is it more of an initiative test–to see if I can speel grood and use teh grammers?

My husband has chaired search committees before and says a cover letter can absolutely make or break a person’s chances even to get an interview. Grand. In one way, it’s good, because my CV isn’t spectacular. In another way, it’s a freakin’ cover letter.

So, I consulted the internet. And here is what it said:

From WikiHow: How to Write a Cover Letter
This is the absolute basic, cookie-cutter way to write a cover letter. If you need something and don’t have the time to put into writing the thing (e.g. you find out about a listing the day before it closes) go here and do what they say.

From Forbes: How to Write a Cover Letter
Being Forbes, this one is slightly more applicable to people applying to corporate jobs, but most tips can be used for applying to any job. A slideshow at the bottom of the page covers the bigger points.

From Wisebread: Stupid Things to Put in Your Cover Letter
There’s a typo in the second sentence of this article… However, the information in it is useful. It echoes some of the Forbes article, but would work a bit better for the Office Space types out there.

From Lifehacker: How to Write a Cover Letter that Employers Will Actually Read
This one is probably the best of the four links with information that can be applied to any job application requiring a cover letter and it also includes some links to even more sites,if you’re interested.

Something I’m seeing a lot is not to put ‘hard worker’ in your cover letters. That makes sense, but it was something we were told to include when I began applying for jobs that required cover letters ten years ago. Times change.

Another thing that’s changed is using the actual words from the advert in your cover letter. You’re not supposed to do that now. You’re supposed to show how you’ve been those things in past jobs.

And something that was completely new to me was mentioning someone you know in the company, saying they recommended the job to you and such. Seems a little nepotismy, but I’m fine with that at this point. Also, they recommend telling a story or anecdote. And keep it all under a page.

Some of the suggestions simply come down to writing skills like not proofreading, or starting too many sentences with ‘I’ or telling rather than showing.


Reddit for the Nervous & Highly Strung

by V. L. Craven

There are certain places on the internet I have never had an interest in visiting, as I understand them to be packed to the brim with soul-shaking perversion. Two of those sites are 4chan and Reddit. Whenever I heard about either of those sites it was because of something completely unallowable like Doppelbanghers .


Recently, though, I was introduced to a subreddit called /r/BritishProblems , which concerns itself with the difficulties of being socially awkward at all times, in all situations, including when alone. And messing up tea in one form or another.

From there, I tentatively inched out into other parts of Reddit and discovered it was a just like every other sphere of reality; the most obnoxious and obnoxiously loud receive the most attention, but, by and large, it was harmless and some things were quite worthwhile.

For example, there is an entire hub of Safe For Work (SFW) porn subreddits, consisting of gorgeous photos of gorgeous things. (Or, occasionally, crudy photos of gorgeous things.) This is the page where you can browse the newest posts to all of the SFW porn subreddits, but if you go to any particular site in that multireddit, this appears at the top of the screen:

SFW Subs

Each main section has a drop down list when you hover over them.

My fav SFW porn subreddits are: bookporn , cemeteryporn , abandonedporn , winterporn , and fireporn .

My husband’s favourite subreddits are:
dubstep : He’s discovered a lot of new dubstep, and learned quite a bit about the genre and subgenres, here.
birdswitharms : Birds photoshopped with arms on. I’m surprised at how freaking hilarious  it is.
explainlikeImfive : Where you can ask to have things explained as though you were very young, without being judged.
fiftyfiftysfw : You’re given two descriptions. The picture or video in the post could be either one. Do you gamble and click?
futureporn : SFW porn of what people in the past thought the future would look like, and what we think the future will look like.
speculativeevolution : Animals that do not exist (but could have done).
theendofyoutube : We’ve all done it. Clicked on one YouTube video, to another, to another x 85 and then… you’re at the end of YouTube. And it’s a weird place. This subreddit is full of videos that save you the bother of clicking the 85 links between sanity and ‘WTF is happening in front of my eyes?’ These are labelled if they’re NSFW, most are SFW.
cringe : Full of the sort of videos that make you think, ‘Did you not watch this before you posted it? You do know the entire world can see this, right?’
timeonhand : Things done by people who have far too much time on their hands. Usually impressive, sometimes just sad.

The most recent subreddits are at newreddits

After this adventure I realised the Internet in general, and Reddit specifically, is Manhattan. Once I was in New York, just wandering around–going no place in particular (but going really quickly and with purpose so people thought I was local)–and suddenly I realised I was in a sketchy area. I did NOT feel safe. Rather than freaking out and declaring all of New York terrifying and awful, I simply turned around–after pretending I’d forgotten an appointment in the other direction–and returned to the last place I felt comfortable, which was about one street up.

That’s Reddit, folks. You’re minding your own business, looking at interesting things, learning about the world around you, reveling in the incredible diversity of humanity on the planet, and you turn a corner and you’re … there. The place everyone eventually finds themselves. Just turn around and return to the last place you felt comfortable.

Reddit is good about tagging things NSFW if something is Not Safe For Work, so, if you see that acronym just turn around (unless you’re into that sort of thing).

Reddit also practises something called Hellbanning , which is a brilliant way of dealing with trolls. It lets them think they’re participating in the forum, but no one can see them. It’s taking the concept of not feeding the trolls to the next level. Brilliant.

Reddit Enhancement Suite (Chrome/Firefox/Safari/Opera) is incredibly useful, if only for its night-time mode, which replaces that whiteWHITE glare of the screen to a darker screen.


My eyes thank you, RES

The subreddits above are a small number in comparison to the 24,000+ named subreddits [though over 1,ooo of those have no posts and a few thousand only have one post.] So if you enjoy any in particular, please share in the comments.

And I’m still not going to 4chan.


Up-Goer Five and Hypothetical Questions

by V. L. Craven

Up Goer Five very very top

XKCD is one of my favourite webcomics. I’m always particularly pleased when I understand the jokes. Luckily, there’s a site that explains the ones I don’t understand (80-90% of them).

Not long ago, there was a comic about the Up-Goer Five, the space car. It was a graphic that explained/described the shuttle using the thousand most common words in the English language and it was brilliant. Then, someone made a text editor that would only allow you to compose text using those thousand (whoops, ten hundred) words. FUN.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a nice article about the Up-Goer Five text editor . It also mentions the Up-Goer Six text editor , which I find to be even more fun, as it colour-codes your words by how common they are.

There’s also a hilarious Tumblr of film descriptions using Up-Goer Five.

This came up when I searched for ‘Up-Goer Five’. I don’t know why, as it doesn’t apply.

Every Tuesday, the author of XKCD, Randall Munroe uses physics to answer hypothetical questions . Questions like: “If you carry a penny in your coin tray, how long would it take for that penny to cost you more than a cent in extra gas?” and “If every person on Earth aimed a laser pointer at the Moon at the same time, would it change color?”

Somewhat related to this is Slate’s Explainer , where they give actual answers to questions inspired by current events. Warning, that page is addictive to trivia-buffs. It’s like freakin’ TV Tropes in that you go in for a second and find yourself there right hours later, being interested in everything. Sometimes it’s a topic you’ve wondered about, while, other times, the topic makes you say, ‘You know… that’s an excellent question… How do courts handle the innocent half of a Siamese twin, if the other half has committed a crime?’


Internet Sites for the Poe Fanatics

by V. L. Craven

Poe's Grave

Growing up, my peers thought me strange for liking creepy old Poe, but if I had lived in the Internet-age I would have been able to find like-minded individuals like Dahlia Jane, whose site, Upon a Midnight Dreary –though not exclusively about our man–will surely appeal to his fans. There’s an excellent post with instructions on how to put together an E.A. Poe costume , as well as an account of her visit to Baltimore .

In which she visited these places.

In which she visited these places.

Here are other sites I would have loved to have access to when a baby-goth:

Forevermore : A site devoted to Poe and recently launched a magazine of the same name, which I’ll review on Friday.

Edgar Allan Poe Museum : The site is not only full of useful information (and a nifty shop ), but it’s gorgeous. It also has information for both teachers and students of Poe–one of those sites you stumble across and wind up spending a couple hours on.

Poe Museum

Knowing Poe : In competition with the previous entry for amount of useful information, Knowing Poe was created by a teacher with the aim of helping teenagers engage with Poe’s work. There are lots of questions to help students understand the fiction and poetry. The most useful things are an interactive timeline, videos and audio that puts Poe’s life and work into perspective against other literary works and historical events and examines his process. Another site in which you can get lost.

World of Poe : A blog devoted to our man because, as the author says, ‘ I have come to the firm conclusion that at least 90% of everything that has been published about the man is complete poppycock,’ which sounds about right. Posts are well-researched and written–I highly recommend it. (Though a darker theme wouldn’t hurt, as it’s a little bright on the eyes.)

The PoeCat that made me laugh hardest--credit Undine

The PoeCat that made me laugh hardest–credit Undine

Poe Baltimore : A site run by a non-profit organisation that will be taking over the Poe House and Museum in  Baltimore, once it’s reopened sometime in 2013. A pretty bare bones site, but they can use your support!

The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore : Warning, this site has a cornea-scorching vibrant green background (green? really?). Once your eyes have adjusted–or you’ve donned a pair of sunglasses–the page is crammed full of useful information, lists, and links.

Poe with signature

His penmanship was admirable.

The Poe Decoder : In  2001, someone had the great idea of making a site to collect criticism and deconstruction of Poe’s work. Then they did nothing else. The few pieces that are on the site are interesting, though. Warning: This site will give you flashbacks to the late ’90s. All it needs is flashing gifs.

Poe Stories : A wonderful site that has all of his stories and some poetry (no essays or criticism, alas). It makes up for that by having a timeline of his life, and a gallery of images that includes Manet’s illustrations of ‘The Raven’

Edgar Allan Poe’s National Historic Site : The National Park Service’s site for the Edgar Allan Poe House in Philadelphia. Not the most aesthetically pleasing, but it serves its purpose of providing information about visiting the site. There are photos of exhibits and parts of the house. I’ve included it on this list for those interested in planning a trip or seeing the stairs in his home.


Perfect for walling someone up alive, methinks.


2013 Will Be the Year of YOU…only older

by V. L. Craven
New Years Baby 1912 Saturday Evening Post

I was going to use the cover for 1913 but this one was so much more… wow. It’s only been a hundred years since women got the vote in the US, Hilary in 2016!

1 January, 2013 is the start of a new you. You’re going to wake up that day and not do one single thing you’re not supposed to and you’re going to start a load of new, good habits. Going against an entire life’s worth of experience and a full DNA sequence of  genetics, you shall be reborn into the perfect person you know you can be. Sure, you’ve tried it before–every year, in fact–but the willpower wasn’t there. This time will be different.

Or. You can begin with just one habit. Any habit . Regularly doing one thing–be it exercise, eating healthily, studying regularly–has a positive knock-on effect on the rest of your life. People doing one good thing smoked less, spent less impulsively, exercised more and had more willpower in general (and that’s when those specific things weren’t what the person was trying to change).

So don’t try to change all the habits, just start with one.

Whilst you’re waiting for the one good habit to build your willpower, Productivity Owl can help, at least when it comes to reminding to stop staring at the internet and do something productive. Incredibly customisable, it also gives you a score for how well you use it (e.g. if you turn it off when you want to waste time). It’s Chrome only. Here’s a great post by the developer.

This is an excellent post about Four Strategies that Build Lasting Motivation , which includes the very useful SMARTER system.

This one builds upon one of the bits from the previous page, which is to start with small, easily attainable goals and explains how to expand on that to create a more complex, more productive habit. Then what to do when you break that very nice habit.

More pragmatic advice (and good news for those of us night-people who believe we have to get up at the arse-crack of dawn to be productive): Seven Productivity Myths Debunked by Science and Common Sense

So get out there, older you, and be productive. I’ll just be on the sofa fiddling with my iPod.


Last Minute Gifts for Techy People

by V. L. Craven

Before you go mad buying electronic gift cards for the people you either missed out or simply have no clue what to get (or as a little extra something for the geek in your life) check out these apps and services.

Apps for Windows

Apps for Mac

Premium Web Services

Mobile Apps

iOS Apps

Android Apps

Also, see my posts on cloud storage space and mobile productivity apps .

If you’re looking for games for your gothy/geeky friends, you may try:

Apps for the Darkly Inclined (part one)

Apps for the Darkly Inclined (part two)

And here’s one I haven’t yet tried, but looks right up my street.

Little Inferno for the Wii or PC

It’s dark. It’s twisted. It’s by three indy game developers who don’t even have an office.

And it’s $15 (DRM-free) for Windows versions. You can also sign up to beta test the Mac or Linux versions.



What the Internet Did This Week

by V. L. Craven

If you live in the world, you have to deal with other people. Some of those people are going to be awkward. Fear not! Lifehacker has given us:  The Awkward Human Survival Guide , which has tips for coping with people who don’t know what to say/don’t know when to stop saying things/only know how to say the wrong things.

From the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum  FB page:

The Poe Murders is a graphic retelling of many of Edgar Allan Poe’s mystery and horror stories meshed into a single tale. The stories included in this graphic-novel are: The Cask of Amontillado, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Masque of the Red Death, The Purloined Letter, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Raven, as well as others. The graphic-novel will be told in the style of a mystery, in which the characters are searching for the mysterious source causing rational men and women to commit these horrific murders.

They have a limited time to raise the funds necessary; if you’d like to contribute for swell prizes go to their  Indiegogo page .

TEDx is the body that licenses people to have TED-style talks in various parts of the world. When it came to the attention of the TED folks that some pseudoscience was making its way into these talks, they issued this  letter, which is an excellent introduction to critical thinking. Hat tip to Lifehacker’s article:  How to Avoid Bad Science in TED Talks

The Most Common Grammar Gaffes Writers Make and How to Avoid Them . Nothing particularly new on this list, though these are rules that bear repeating. The thing that most WTFd my face was the first line of the article, which was, ‘In 2011, the publisher of my book  Enchantment  could not fill an order for 500 e-book copies.’ How… ? I mean… Nope, ‘How…?’ is all I have

Speaking of writers, here  are some beautiful posters of quotes from famous authors. All of them are elegant, but this is one of my favourites:

Tolstoy Poster



What the Internet Did This Week

by V. L. Craven

From The Guardian:  Writers’ Favourite Classic Book Illustrations with Pictures . The captions make it, for me. Beatrix Potter was… interesting. [Bonus 1: I’ve just started playing Peter Rabbit’s Garden on my iPod and it’s lovely–really captures the feel of the books, but without the horrors. Bonus 2: The illustration below was Bryan Talbot’s choice for the article. Complete set of Dore illustrations of with the Longfellow translation of The Divine Comedy in this 30MB zip file .]

Does anyone else hear ominous music… ?

This article from Slate  explains why we think disasters make people regress to their primal selves, when it’s simply not so. Bonus info: There’s something called ‘disaster science’ and I’m loving the new term ‘elite panic’, which is when white people get a-scared the non-white people are going to start looting and robbing the second the electrics are off for more than ten minutes. The big takeaway from this article is that people are kinda great when it benefits the entire tribe (meaning all the people).

Brown people are going to take my stuff!

Gawker has an article about an advice column  about how men can best deal with women-times . The title of the article is ‘MEN: Is Your Lady on ‘a Period’: Learn How to Deal in the Most Ridiculous Period-Advice Column Ever’ and I thought I was in for one of those delightfully amusing advice columns from the 1820s. But no. How I wish that had been the case.

I’d be remiss if I left an article on genitals of the other sex: Fleshbot has an…enlightening article about 3-D printing your willy . So, so very NSFW . My husband read this part to me, (italicized bit was his commentary):

They even hand mix their own colors, and not only do they do four flesh tones (cashew, caramel, hazelnut, and chocolate) [WHY ARE THEY ALL FOODS?!] but they can also capture undertones, such as the reddish-purple luster of a swollen dong. They’re true artisans.

The article is hilarious and reminds me a great deal of Grant Stoddard’s excellent I Did it For Science column on Nerve.

Here is an image of a 3D printer, as I’d like at least the *images* in this post to be safe for work.

And apparently, since sex seems to be the unofficial topic of this week’s links, have an article from The Atlantic entitled Where Masturbation and Homosexuality Do Not Exist , which is about the Aka and Ngandu tribes in central Africa. When a population has a high infant mortality rate but relies on having several children, sex, though enjoyable, is used as a reproduction tool (sorry). The article also discusses the way Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich Democratic societies (WEIRD)–which is even better than ‘elite panic’–approach the idea of sex when studying non-WEIRD groups. I find the sociology of anthropology very interesting, so this article was a great read.

These people are both WEIRD and would love it in central Africa, where I’d bet there’s no abortion, either.


Tea and Fonts

by V. L. Craven

A couple of unrelated, but no less lovely, links to start your week.


Matt Harbowy (who is a tea chemist because that’s a thing) says that dunking your tea bag doesn’t steep your beverage any faster . Also, as long as the tea is fresh, it doesn’t matter if it’s in a bag or loose.

A nice gift for a tea-lover would be this  handy mug that lets the person making your tea know how you like it with Pantone style colours inside the rim.

[Bonus info to me from the article is that “red wine typically leaves the skins in, and white wine typically takes the skins out, and both can be produced from the same red grape. “]


For font lovers, like myself, it can be infuriating (I originally typed ‘infurianting’, which I think is the type of incoherent ranting you do when infuriated; it is now a word, my friends) when people misuse fonts. HOW can they not see that 85 different fonts looks shit when on the same page? HOW can they not know their cyan-text-on-rainbow-wallpaper website is going to make blood shoot out of their readers’ eyes? Spread this wisdom far and wide:  A Non-Designer’s Guide to Typefaces and Layout

[Bonus!  dafont is full of both free and paid fonts. Congratulations, you’ll never accomplish anything ever again, as you’ll never be capable of choosing between your 900 fonts. Join me in Hell.]


Addiction and Pets

by V. L. Craven

This week’s links is a short one (two entire entries), as I’m being lazy. I believe in honesty, so there it is.

First up, a fantastic video on the evolutionary explanation of addiction (drugs, alcohol, nicotine, video games, sex, gambling, everything-you-enjoy-doing). It’s also an excellent intro to neurochemicals in the brain. ‘Mo’ synapses, mo’ problems, yo.’

The Scishow has lots and lots of other entertaining and informative videos.

And secondly, for the animal lovers, put together a Pet First Aid Kit in case of an emergency. Animals are people, too.

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