Autodidact: self-taught


Penny Dreadful

by V. L. Craven

Penny Dreadful

Dorian Gray, Victor Frankenstein and Abraham van Helsing walk into a pub in Victorian England. Everyone’s got consumption and there’s an ancient evil or three afoot.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

Penny Dreadful is a Gothic drama, fantasy nightmare concoction.

Don’t get me wrong–it’s great fun. Just difficult to categorize.

There’s the main character Vanessa Ives (Eva Green, who should win all the awards) who has a bit of a possession problem. As in, she’s been possessed by … something. Who knows. But it’s a hell of a thing. Then there’s Mr Gray and Dr Frankenstein (his projects have been going swimmingly by the time we meet him) and Sir Malcolm Murray played by Timothy Dalton.

Sir Malcolm is one of those explorers the Victorians were drowning in at the the time. He’s on a quest to find his kidnapped daughter, Mina. Yes, that Mina. Harker. The Dracula one. We’re hitting all the Gothic greatest hits.

There’s the obligatory prostitute with a heart of gold with harsh backstory (Billie Piper) and an American gunslinger from the Wild West played by Josh Hartnett.

The plot can be a little…meandering at times in a Dickensian sort of way. The show is more about characters, though, and the casting is superb. As are the costumes and sets and everything else.

Though the overall plot tends to take its own path, each episode rips right along, generally, and one never knows what’s going to happen or who it’s going to happen to.

There was one episode in the first series that was slow and it featured Anna Chancellor. They managed to make an episode with Her Gloriousness drag. That alone is noteworthy. (The episode had a load of useful but dull exposition and she played Eva Green’s mother–a role she also played in the quite excellent The Dreamers.)

Basically, there are vampires, werewolves, Frankenstein’s monster (played brilliantly by Rory Kinnear)…and tuberculosis but that makes it sound like Buffy with consumption. I loved Buffy, but… Ugh. This is hard . Do you like American Horror Story? Do you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Do you like corsets and velvet? You’ll like this. Probably. I’m giving it 4/5.


Forest of Temptations

by V. L. Craven

Forest of Temptations is a Gothic animation from Canada (whoever says Canadians are nice hasn’t met the makers of this twisted bit of art). It’s a fairy tale but more of the warped, Struwwelpeter variety than the ‘happily ever after’ variety.

Forest of Temptation Character

This face does not say ‘happily ever after’

The story begins in a land like that of the edible room in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but with black and white 2-D characters that move like paper marionettes without the strings. Things turn sinister quickly; the demented carnival music adding to the atmosphere wonderfully.

Something about it put me in mind of Edward Gorey’s intro to Mystery! (the exclamation point was part of the title), which gets you a bonus video for the day:


One Winter’s Night by Emlyn Boyle

by V. L. Craven


Genteel, Gloomy Wallpapers

by V. L. Craven

I was looking for gloomy computer wallpapers that looked like analogue wallpapers, and came across a few I thought I’d share.

To use:
1. Right-click on image.
2. Choose ‘save as wallpaper/background’
3. You may need to then set it to ’tile’ the image.

(I particularly like the one above, as it looks like skulls, but it’s abstract enough other people could see it without thinking you’re a serial killer.)

This one looks best at regular size or stretched:

And bonus! Other, non-analogue wallpaper images:



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