Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More Randolph Carter Follow Up

I got a Private Message from FNH over at the YSDC forums. He wrote to say:
"I just thought I'd let you know that I just received my 5th email that specifically stated your voice acting was outstanding!"
He forwarded me one of the emails at my request. It is a really great feeling knowing that others have enjoyed my acting, especially since at the time I thought I did a mediocre job at best. It's encouraging, to say the least.

I think I'll have to assemble my Cats of Ulthar reading now! And maybe record some Algernon Blackwood!

[edit: added another bit of praise I received]

Over at there was a thread about someone who wanted to do radio drama versions of HPL stories out in California. I jokingly suggested he should invite me out to California to work with him. Another member posted the following:

" Seriously... do invite Jabonko out to California! Just listen to his terrific performance on FNH's production of the Statement of Randolph Carter. Great stuff!"

This is so awesome. Kelcie was right, I just wasn't listening to all the things people were saying, but they were saying 'em the whole time!

Need Decent Quality Portable Digital Audio Recorder

This morning was a particularly dark walk to the bus. Very creepy and unsettling. So to ease my mind, I started narrating my walk to myself as though telling a scary story. I had a lot of fun and I think I even had some pretty good descriptions of some of the places I walk past regularly. I know I had a great ending line as I approached the bus stop, but I can't remember what it was. In fact, I can't remember any of the story except that I told it and enjoyed it.

I really wish I had a portable recording device so I could have recorded it and maybe transcribed it. Oh well.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Last Night in Carcosa: Wrap-up/Review

Friday night was the #th annual Halloween LARP. This year it was "Last Night in Carcosa."

At the Masquerade there were several cult factions, each trying to bring about the end of the world by summoning their own deity. I was a cultist of Yog-Sothoth. Others were worshippers of Azathoth, slaves of Shub-Niggurath, acolytes of the King in Yellow.

I was a very popular character. Each faction required a human sacrifice to accomplish their ritual and as executioner my skills were in high demand. Thinking back on it I would have done things a little differently. I think I would have been more willing to kill people, provided that the faction employing me helped defray the cost of subduing and executing the victim and also pay me a tribute. (To accomplish things that others don't want, one must give up 'Karma' points). I know that in most cases it wouldn't have worked, because people wouldn't shell out the points, but I think it could have made things more interesting.

I think I did a pretty good job with my accent. I was consistent throughout the night (usually a challenge for me when I do accents - they tend to shift and change). It may not have been a 100%-accurate Italian accent, but it was fun and both I and the other players enjoyed it. For me it provided me a very simple way to clearly differentiate between in and out of character conversations (something I struggled with last year). For others it made me stand out more as a character. Many people complimented me on the accent and my ability to stick with it through the entire night.

In the end the results were very close:
Azathoth: 7
Yog-Sothoth: 8 (should have been 9, but one of our cultists refused to pay in his last karma point to have his character's wife executed... which makes sense for the character, but dammit I wanted her to die! lol)
Shub-Niggurath: 9
King in Yellow: 10

Even though we didn't impart the Ultimate Truth to the kingdom of Carcosa, I had a lot of fun. We were all impressed by each other's ability to role-play and create a fantastic story.

Once again, I missed a line in my character sheet. This year I missed a line stating:
Pollox is a wise scribe and the daughter of Castor and Aldones.

I only saw the line, "Castor: Blacksmith, husband of Aldones, father of Pollox."

So when I asked Castor where his son was (not knowing the truth)... well, naturally he took offense. It was pretty funny.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dark Days

Well, not really. But dark mornings for sure. My walk to the bus this morning was particularly eerie.

The darkness and shadows of early morning played tricks on me. I kept thinking I saw people that weren't really there crossing streets. If I had been listening to music, my hearing would not have been able to dispel the illusions, and I would have been constantly looking over my shoulder for a shadowy menace.

The newspaper man - the one who fills the newsstand - arrived at his corner just as a large woman was. In the quiet yellow light of the street lamp it looked more like the two were making a clandestine cloak-and-dagger drop-off.

Houses with less-than-well-kept yards seemed to retreat into the darkness of the overhanging trees. Their yards became barren dark patches of dead leaves. Fences turned into the last line of defense between me - the hapless pedestrian - and the evil, lurking, horrors that were once hospitable domiciles.

And it's only October. The sun will rise later and later, making my morning walks darker and darker.

If only I had a portable audio recorder. With that, headphone playing scary music, and a semi-conscious state of mind, I could scare myself incredibly and get it all on tape.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Saturday Night's Alright for Frightening

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to play in a one-off RPG hosted by Dan Bayn. The scenario was titled "Project Blackwood" and was introduced as "Four college students go into the Virginia woods to shoot a movie. A year later, their footage was found. (Maybe also their mangled corpses. We'll see how it goes.)" Sound familiar?

Yes. The premise was quite similar to that of The Blair Witch Project, but with a significant twist. Instead of a ghostly-horror witch thing, the scares came from a couple different directions.

The first element of horror came from, as Dan put it, the "multiple layers of reality." Our characters were college students producing a fake documentary, but each character had a role to play in said film. For example: my 'mormon boyscout with wilderness survival skills' played the role of 'the arrogant frat boy who gets himself killed' in the film. Already there is a difference between who I am, who my character is, and who his role is. It offered some excellent role playing opportunities.

The horror in those layers came from trying to distinguish the scares created by the director of the film (i.e. "fake" scares), and threats from outside forces ("real" scares). Early in the game we attributed most of the surprises to the director, even though in a few cases we were wrong. Later in the game, everything was real whether the director had anything to do with it or not.

For example: on the first night, when my character saw the words "go away" burning brightly on the side of a hill he assumed it was the director (wrong). The next day when the characters entered the cave and saw that the walls were red and wet, Becky tasted some of the wet liquid on the floor and discovered it was blood. The characters assumed the blood on the walls was not the director's doing (wrong, it was). Later it turned out that the blood on the floor that Becky had tasted was really the Director's blood, that he had been murdered.

So the layers added to the horror at the end, when we were able to see them all at once.

The other source of excellent terror was the monster of the night: the Mi-Go! It's too bad it's a few months late for the HPLHS competition which asked the question "What are the Mi-Go up to in the hills of West Virginia?"

In any case, it was a lot of fun to see how the final scene played out. My character, having gone from pretending to be the leader to the now survival-driven boyscout, saw the Brain Case as the only hope of escape - especially after both of his arms were clipped off at the elbow by the Mi-Go. Becky fought to the end, getting scissored in half by the giant claws. Zack similarly fought to the death.

The ending scene was great. Fade out on the cave of carnage and fade in an off-colour, grainy image of the Mi-Go adjusting something like it's leaning over you. Then the Mi-Go turns and walks away, while my character's voice screams "no! Wait! Come back!" The camera pulls back, revealing a brain cylinder, newly plugged-in, and the monster walking away down a corridor lined with similar objects.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Notes for Halloween LARP

I know. The term LARP scares a lot of people. But in this case it's really more of a murder-mystery party with a group of people a little more excited about getting into character.

The theme is Hasturian (my favorite!) and the title is "Last Night in Carcosa." Which I assume means the last night in Carcosa, not what happened last night.

So far, this is what I know about my character:
Name: Vega
Occupation: Executioner
From Dan, the Host:
"You've got a lot of wiggle room when it comes to characterization. His thing is that he's fed up with being a tool of oppression and he's turned to the occult in his quest to restore some sanity to the throne. His schedule for the evening includes a human sacrifice; he's just trying to decide who it's gonna be.

There are a lot of directions you could take Vega. At Gen Con, I gave him to a guy with a big, Erron Flynn style, feathered cap and he was the most effeminate executioner ever... but it made him really, really creepy :)"

I didn't want to play Vega as the stereotypical isolated executioner in a black hood, so I did some research. On wikipedia I found the perfect character: Giovanni Battista Bugatti. "When not carrying out his official duties, Bugatti and his wife sold painted umbrellas and other souvenirs to tourists."

So I'll take that and add in an element of sadism and depravity. A source of inspiration came from wikipedia's list of methods of execution. Although, this did lead to the discovery of a very disturbing bit of writing. Using my initial impression of Vega as a socio- or psycho-path, mixed with Bugatti, I think I will end up with an excellent character.

Borrowing a bit from last year's LARP in which a Blue Sun engineer handed out mysterious mints throughout the evening, I might bring a bag of black rocks as my "business card." Then let everyone know that my favorite method of execution is stoning or crushing by stones. (Although for sickness sake, I think sawing would make the character a bit more frightening).

Since there is the bit about Vega trying to figure out who his human sacrifice will be, perhaps I will use the stones to decide who will be my victim. If I give a stone to everyone, then the victim will be the person who does not get a stone or the person from whom I reclaim the stone I gave them. Or perhaps I will simply give stones only to those people I am considering for the sacrifice.

In the past few days I have been listening to Acting with an Accent to develop an Italian accent. So far it has been a lot of fun. However, if I don't feel that I have a good enough accent by the time of the game, I won't use it. Better to have no accent than to have a bad one that detracts from the character. I think a good Italian accent would make the character seem intriguing and friendly up front, which would allow the appetite for torture to stand out in stark contrast and have a greater impact.

As for costume:
I still need to get a mask. Any suggestions for style or specific masks?
I would like to get a couple umbrellas that I could bring with me to sell or use as props.
I need to find a pouch and rocks.
Since the wikipedia article describes Bugatti as well-dressed, I am considering wearing my suit. Although finding some fancy robes or something similar might be fun too.

In case you couldn't tell from the long post, I'm very excited about this upcoming party/game. I'll post a game recap/review after all is said and done.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dream, evening of 10/16/2007

I was riding the bus home from work. I only fell asleep for a few minutes at most, but I had a very vivid and intense dream.

I dreamt that I was standing in a hallway eating a small circular graham cracker with some sort of mallow-like fluff on top of it. Three people approached me from the opposite end of the hall. Something in the way they were dressed and carried themselves made me know them as angels. As they drew nearer, I remember one of them standing only a few feet in front of me and smiling gently.

It was then that I noticed I was standing on a circular wooden platform. I clearly recall thinking that it was very similar in color and shape to the crackers I had just been eating. Slowly the platform lifted into the air, and I knew it was by the angels' doing. They were lifting me to heaven! I was filled with an ecstatic panicking terror so intense that it woke me from the dream with a start.

I often wonder if the other passengers on the bus notice when, after briefly nodding off, my body convulses in a quick spasm as I wake up. The sudden jerk feels so violent and intense to me, and yet I have had people say they did not see it, even when I feel as if I've leapt up out of my seat.

Wanna read something creepy?

You can't come up with this kind of disturbing text. Fiction doesn't even come close.

"I waited for several seconds. The spasmodic movements ceased. [...] It was then that I called in a strong, sharp voice: 'Languille!' I saw the eyelids slowly lift up, without any spasmodic contractions – I insist advisedly on this peculiarity – but with an even movement, quite distinct and normal, such as happens in everyday life, with people awakened or torn from their thoughts.

Next Languille's eyes very definitely fixed themselves on mine and the pupils focused themselves. I was not, then, dealing with the sort of vague dull look without any expression, that can be observed any day in dying people to whom one speaks: I was dealing with undeniably living eyes which were looking at me. After several seconds, the eyelids closed again[...].

It was at that point that I called out again and, once more, without any spasm, slowly, the eyelids lifted and undeniably living eyes fixed themselves on mine with perhaps even more penetration than the first time. Then there was a further closing of the eyelids, but now less complete. I attempted the effect of a third call; there was no further movement – and the eyes took on the glazed look which they have in the dead."

Is it Lovecraftian horror at its finest? No. It's a scientific documentation of observations of a decapitated head after execution by guillotine. It's simply terrible. Awful. It makes me think maybe we should get rid of capital punishment. I feel like there is really only a very slight difference between the cool-headed scientist exploring quick and "painless" deaths, and the sick machinations of a murderous psycho- or socio-path.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Morning Encounter on 10/12/2007

It's not the type of weather where I'd stop walking until I reached my destination.
But a car approaches with a lady out the window. Does she want directions?
Her Southern accented voice is high-pitched for a woman her size.
"You look like you're on your way to work. Would like something to read?"
She leans further out the window, offering me a pamphlet.
"No thanks."
"Well that's O.K.," she says, emphasizing each syllable. "You have yourself a good day, then."
"You too."
Then they drive away with their pamphlet,
And I wonder what it was.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Creative Writing Prompt 10/11/07

"How did you get up there? Write about something that happened on the roof." From

Before I tell you why I'm up here... on the roof... in the cold with the wind trying angrily to push me off the edge, let me tell you how I ended up with such a silly prompt. In an effort to write more regularly, I've taken to ingesting large quantities of fiber to help me get the literary shit out. That's right, that's what I think of my writing. Well, the only way to get better is to shit more. So I figured the roof is a great place to start a little pile.

That's why. Here's how, tThough I hesitate to tell you the truth.

I have a well-practiced and much-rehearsed answer that I tell to everyone else, even my closest friends and relatives: the stairs at the back of the building, then the ladder in the alcove up through the dark tunnel to the horizontal door.

The truth?

This morning was rough. The alarm, despite its best efforts, failed in its assigned task. Even its shrillest cries could not pierce my sonorous slumber. Something in a disturbing dream I can not recall woke me and I am thankful for that blessed curse, for had my sleep been more restful I would not have left the bed until the sunlight burnt holes in my eyelids.

In a dreamstate, only fractionally awake and scarcely aware of my surroundings I stumbled to the shower. The warm, soothing, mist did nothing to clear the clouds from my mind. With my thoughts still wrapped warmly in the thick blankets of my bed, my eyes struggling to lift the infinitely heavy veil of my eyelids, I found my clothes, keys, briefcase, and the bus stop.

Silent, empty, and still, the cavernous reading room yawned its welcome. The library would not open to patrons for another hour, and with many of the librarians away at a conference, she seemed isolated and cold. It did not help that the marble floor, pillars, walls, ceiling, were of a shade of gray perfectly matched to the icy sky outside her windows and that the sound of the wind howled balefully from the ventilation system. A chill breeze brushed away callously my comfortable jacket of body heat it had taken so long to achieve. Confused, I looked for an open window and found none.

But there, six stories overhead, amidst the shadows and darkness in the recesses of the vaulted ceiling, I saw what I can now only describe vaguely as a portal. A black, sinister, opening that appeared, at such a distance, to be little larger than a sheet of paper. With no morning tasks yet to occupy me, I climbed the narrow spiral staircase to the serials collection filled with a growing curiosity.

The sixth floor lines the walls of the library, opening in the middle to gaze down dizzily at the floor of the reading room and the intervening mezzanine levels filled with books and journals aged from new-born publications to withered and wizened elder monographs. The perspective never suited me, throwing distance and depth into chaotic disarray. I have never done well with heights, it is no secret.

As my eyes adjusted to the dim light that seemed to reach up meekly from the lamps on the floor so far below, I noticed that same shadow among shadows. The darker rectangle now appearing distinct and unique and separate from the other amorphous shapes in the artificial twilight, now disappearing into the depths of the inky blackness with its brethren shades, caught and held my attention. I know not what thoughts passed through my mind, but soon found myself shambling, one foot then the other, toward that mysterious aperture.

I remember climbing on the marble ledge, ornate and sculpted, so that I could stand beneath that odd unnatural window. This memory sticks with me because in my dazed climb, my shoe slipped off my foot and silently fell to the stone so many feet below me. My mind fell with my shoe, tumbling end over end, watching the tomes and volumes fly upwards past me until with a sudden, sharp, impact, my functions returned to me.

And that is when I found myself on the roof of the library, watching the cars and pedestrians pass by briskly in the cold Autumn air. No horizontal door. No dark ladder in a recessed alcove at the top of poorly lit stairs. No believable adventure did I have, but rather the illusions of the mad, the insane... the sleeping.