I've only played once, a couple of years ago, but I really, really enjoyed it. Going to have to play this one again a few times, but I like the systemI've only played once, a couple of years ago, but I really, really enjoyed it. Going to have to play this one again a few times, but I like the system and, of course, the concept. Think of the more grim parts of Watership Down and you'll get a better idea of the game than if you're just thinking of nice fluffy bunnies. Being a bunny is a hard life!...more
Next year, I will have been alive twice as long as the ill-fated Aubrey Beardsley lived. And yet, it was at about the age he died that I became enamorNext year, I will have been alive twice as long as the ill-fated Aubrey Beardsley lived. And yet, it was at about the age he died that I became enamored of his work. I has seen his work here and there, but remember that this was before the internet had been populated with every desirable image you'd ever want (and many you wouldn't). My real introduction to his work came as an undergraduate humanities student nestled comfortably away in the Special Collections (read: Rare Books) room, where I discovered a set of books that would fix my love for late Victoriana forevermore: The Yellow Book: An Illustrated Quarterly.
When asked about why I became so enamored of Beardsley's work, I respond: "Why wouldn't I?" I really think it best to just let the work speak for itself. You know, a picture is worth . . .?
The Best of Beardsley a few of his images from Yellow Book Quarterly, but steps far beyond that short-lived (and seemingly doomed, once Oscar Wilde was arrested) relationship between Beardsley and editor John Lane. These were the drawings that really cemented his reputation, but before this there were earlier illustrations for Wilde's play Salome and the romantic poem Mort Darthur (none of which are included in this volume, being considered a sort of juvenalia), among others. And, of course, his art continued for several years after his ignominious departure from Lane's publication. The opprobrium that struck Wilde did little to taint Beardsley's output and, in fact, increased his fame and exposure to adherents of fin-de-siecle decadence. Unfortunately, tuberculosis killed him at the young age of 26 years, just as his art was hitting new heights of style and composition.
The introduction to The Best of Beardsley is one of the better introductions to an art book that I've had the privilege of reading. Of course all the biographical details are there (but let's face it, you can just go to Wikipedia to find this information), but what really stands out is R. A. Walker's analysis of the four phases of Beardsley's work, four phases that I had missed until I read this introductory essay and was able to cross-reference if with the full-page black and white plates that compose the vast majority of the book. But even at about 110 illustrations, we still are only seeing "The Best of". Notably absent are his explicit, one would have to say downright pornographic works, which even the Tate Museum housed in a different, restricted-access room in their 2020 exhibition of his work.
I see you combing the internet for those. Naughty, naughty. Honestly, I prefer to retain a little Victorian prudery in this regard. Besides, as Walker points out several times, Beardsley's sumptuous costumes are oftentimes the center of attention, and rightfully so. Take the Pre-Raphaelites' attention to detail and distil it down to sweeping, textured black-and-white illustrations, add a touch of whimsy, a pinch of, one must admit, Orientalism, and some intentional disproportion and, voila! Beardsley!
This art collection is not nearly enough Beardsley, but it can legitimately argue for being "The Best of," in large part because of the context given the illustrations by Walker's essay. Recommended....more
I supported the kickstarter for this volume, the fifth in the series, mostly because I could get the book and a set of postcards featuring art from DeI supported the kickstarter for this volume, the fifth in the series, mostly because I could get the book and a set of postcards featuring art from Der Orchideengarten for about the same price as just buying the book later. I'm using the postcards as postcards for a snail-mail roleplaying game that I am participating in, which is set in the year 1921. What better way to add authenticity than by using postcards showing macabre art from the year 1920 in a snail-mail RPG set in 1921? I've sent one thus far, and it seems to have done the trick of giving the player to whom it was sent a visual to go with the (handwritten) words of my character to his. Verisimilitude helps.
And what of the book itself? I'll admit that, because I was so focused on the use of the postcards, I didn't read or didn't absorb the fine print in the kickstarter. I had expected (ignorantly) that the book would include facsimiles of all the issues of Der Orchideengarten for the stretch of issues indicated. I was mistaken. While there is some interesting commentary about the stories and their authors, there is little directly quoted from them. There are decent summations of many of the stories, but they are merely summations. The information about the artists lends a bit of depth to the book, especially as it relates to how the artist's political sympathies were manifested, in time (you can imagine why), but the real focus of the book is the art itself.
At this, it succeeds wonderfully. Certain artists predominate, most notably (the notorious) Karl Ritter, who did the majority of the covers for the issues examined in this volume, but there is a variety of styles shown throughout. Wilhelm Heise's "Nocturnal Garden" is akin to a black-and-white illustration in the style of Der Blaue Reiter; Paul Neu's illustrations for the story "The Elevator" and Carl Rabus' illustrations for "Giulio Balbi's Disappearance" are heavily-influenced by cubism, but with an art-deco flair, and Ritter's work is composed of grotesque, but fine line work with a sort of Aubrey Beardsley depth, albeit far darker in both its subject matter and its artistic tone. There are also several illustrations that are purely anonymous, which somehow seems appropriate for a periodical focused so much on the grim and macabre arising out of Germany's interwar years art scene.
The book is, as you might imagine, lavishly illustrated with plates showing full-color covers and even one maquette of Karl Ritter's shown opposite the final cover for issue eleven of Der Orchideengarten, an intriguing pseudo-diptych of the expressionist work-in-progress alongside the finished product. One wonders why various changes were made by the artist, what led to the alterations? It also shows that this cover, at least, wasn't just a fever-dreamed off-the-cuff outpouring of artwork, but something more methodical and thought-through. Many critics of "modern art" don't understand (or don't believe) the crafting that goes into many modern (and "post-modern") works. Such dismissiveness is, I believe, to be dismissed. Here and elsewhere, Malevolent Visions shows both the art and artifice needed to generate these enduring (if somewhat forgotten) works of strange art....more
A lot of people hated this book because "it's just a bunch of lists". But as a resource at the table, it was (and is) a fantastic help. And I can't unA lot of people hated this book because "it's just a bunch of lists". But as a resource at the table, it was (and is) a fantastic help. And I can't understate how much inspiration I gained from the "Personalities" section. That section alone was worth the price alone.
I'll add that I had a chance to play the Assassin, Lassivieren the Dark while the original player, Allan Hammack, was DM at the table at a convention game. That was pretty sweet, even if I (Lassivieren) ended up dying (struck by an errant bouncing lightning bolt cast by one of our party's mages in a small room - oops)....more
Trail of Cthulhu, but without the tentacles. And a bit more streamlined. Really a fantastic game and sourcebook. Creepy and eerie, not shockingly terrTrail of Cthulhu, but without the tentacles. And a bit more streamlined. Really a fantastic game and sourcebook. Creepy and eerie, not shockingly terrifying, if you're playing it the way it was intended. Combat need not even take place to have a fully enjoyable game (and a great change of pace from "hack and slash" or "shoot the shoggoth"). My kind of game, through and through. So glad I sprang for the deluxe edition. It's a fabulous book, physically speaking, one of the more elegant RPG books I own (Carcosa beats it out, but . . . Carcosa)....more
Yawn. Even teenage me was bored when I first read it back in the '80s. The most excitement I got out of it was shoplifting it from B. Daltons. Yes, anYawn. Even teenage me was bored when I first read it back in the '80s. The most excitement I got out of it was shoplifting it from B. Daltons. Yes, another teenage shoplifting confession from the days before tag detection technology. Come to think of it, I might have stopped shoplifting after "picking up" this book. Totally not worth getting caught for stealing such a boring book....more
Helps me brush up on my German. It's no work of art. But as a primer for non-native speakers, sure, it's fine.Helps me brush up on my German. It's no work of art. But as a primer for non-native speakers, sure, it's fine....more