Posts Tagged ‘H.P. Lovecraft’

Mr. PeabodyNote from Tom Joyce: This is a piece from writer C.I. Kemp that ran in a recent issue of “The Speculator,” the newsletter for the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers, which I am re-posting here with Kemp’s permission. In retrospect, the connection between Mr. Peabody and H.P. Lovecraft seems obvious, in light of the fact … in light of the fact … Ah hell. I give up. There is no rational explanation for this. C.I. Kemp is freakin insane. Enjoy.


Peabody’s Improbable History: H.P. Lovecraft

by C. I. Kemp

LovecraftIt’s common knowledge among horror aficionados that H.P. Lovecraft was strongly influenced by the works of Lord Dunsany and Edgar Allan Poe. There was, however, another individual without whose assistance Lovecraft would never have achieved the fame he did. Now at last, it can be told:

Note: If you’re one of the few who had a deprived childhood and grew up without ever seeing an episode of “Peabody’s Improbable History,” please check it out on You Tube before reading further. That way, you can appreciate the deathless prose that follows with all the seriousness and respect it deserves.

Opening animation to PEABODY’S IMPROBABLE HISTORY accompanied by theme music.

1. INTERIOR: Peabody’s lab.
Peabody is standing in front of the the WABAC Machine, Sherman by his side.
Hello there. Peabody here. (Gesturing) Sherman and WABAC there. Sherman is a boy. The WABAC – a time machine.
Where are we going today, Mr. Peabody?
Set the WABAC for the year 1926.
And the place?
Providence, Rhode Island, where we’ll meet that illustrious horror writer, Howard Phillips Lovecraft.

2. EXTERIOR. A street scene in Providence, RI.
PEABODY (voice-over)
In less time than it takes to tell, the WABAC Machine transported us to Lovecraft’s doorstep.
An angry mob is gathered outside a house. They’re throwing rotten fruit through the windows and shouting in anger. From inside the house comes a loud discordant singing:
LOVECRAFT (voice-over)
Lullaby and good night! La la la la la la la…
Golly! What’s going on, Mr. Peabody?
I think it’s time we found out.
PEABODY (voice-over)
Sherman and I entered the house and found…

3. INTERIOR – Lovecraft’s bathroom.
Lovecraft is standing before a large bathtub, holding a piece of sheet music and singing off-key. In the tub is Cthulhu, happily splashing about, playing with a decapitated rubber duck, making unintelligible gurgling sounds. The walls are plastered with the remains of thrown fruit as are Lovecraft’s face and lapels.
PEABODY (voice-over continues)
…Lovecraft singing to a many-tentacled, winged, big-footed sea monster.
LOVECRAFT (to the tune of Brahms’ Lullaby)
Go to sleep, go to sleep… Oh, it’s no use, I’m ruined!
Why the long face, Mr. Lovecraft?
LOVECRAFT (gesturing at his gaunt face)
Why, I was born with it.
No, no, I mean, why so unhappy?
Oh, it’s because of him (gesturing at Cthulhu)
I don’t understand.
Well, listen to this. (Clears throat). “In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”
Why, that’s wonderful!
Yes, but I can’t use it.
And why is that?
Well, one can’t dream unless one is asleep, right?
And one can’t sleep if one won’t go to sleep, right?
Also right.
Well, I can’t get him to go to sleep!
Camera shifts to Cthulhu who is squeezing the rubber duck. The duck flies out of his tentacles…
Camera shifts back to Lovecraft.
…and hits LOVECRAFT in the head before bouncing off-screen.
Well, your singing doesn’t seem to be bearing fruit.
Oh, I wouldn’t say that. (He picks a remnant of fruit from his lapel and starts chomping.) May I offer you an apple?
No thank you. What I mean is your lullaby doesn’t seem to be making him sleepy.
You’re right. Perhaps some Nelson Eddy show tunes? When I’m calling youuuuuuu…
PEABODY and SHERMAN are wincing, covering their ears. CTHULHU is holding his tentacles to where his ears might be and is making some very unhappy gurgling sounds.
I think not. Might I recommend some more traditional methods?
Such as?
Warm milk has been shown to be an effective sleep inducer. Why not try that?
Excellent idea!

4  EXTERIOR – A nearby farm
PEABODY, SHERMAN, LOVECRAFT, and CTHULHU are standing outside of a barn.
PEABODY (voice-over)
I directed Lovecraft to a nearby dairy farm. Naturally, a simple glass of warm milk could hardly have any effect on a creature Cthulhu’s size…

5  INTERIOR – Barn
An assembly line of cows goes past Lovecraft, seated on a stool, as he milks each one.
PEABODY (voice-over)
…so Lovecraft proceeded to milk a barn full of cows.

6  EXTERIOR – Barn.
PEABODY and SHERMAN are standing outside of the barn. Suddenly, there is a loud THUD, a yell, and a dazed and battered Lovecraft comes crashing through the wall of the barn and landing on his butt before PEABODY and SHERMAN.
Mr. Lovecraft, what happened?
That last one was a bull.

7  INTERIOR – Barn
CTHULHU is downing bucket after bucket.
PEABODY (voice-over)
Cthulhu proceeded to swallow bucket after bucket of the milk. The result, however, was not what we had hoped for.
(Loud) Moo! (Louder) BUUURRRRP!
CTHULHU leaps off-screen…

8  EXTERIOR – A water trough outside the barn.
…and onscreen again into the water trough where he begins splashing and making happy gurgling sounds, much as we saw him in the earlier bathtub scene. PEABODY, SHERMAN, and LOVECRAFT are standing by.
What do we do now, Mr. Peabody?
PEABODY (stroking his chin)
Hmmmmm. I think a more scientific approach is called for.

9  INTERIOR – A local pharmacy
All four are standing in the pharmacy in front of an aisle with a sign reading “Sleep Aids.”
Scene shifts to CTHULHU proceeding down the aisle devouring everything off the shelves.
PEABODY (voice-over)
We then proceeded to a local pharmacy where Cthulhu availed himself not only of the various sleep aids, but everything else in the store.
Once again, Cthulhu makes a grand leap off-screen.

10  EXTERIOR – A street scene
Several little kids are playing at an open fire hydrant. They look up and flee in terror as Cthulhu lands in the puddle and resumes his splashing and gurgling.
PEABODY (voice over)
Unfortunately, Cthulhu remained as animated as ever.

11  EXTERIOR – Outside the pharmacy, which now has an “Out Of Business” sign in the window.
Oh, it’s no use! I’ll never be able to write at this rate! I may as well go into some other line of work.
Like what, Mr. Lovecraft?
I don’t know. Tuba Instructor? Yogurt Taster? (Shudders) Insurance Salesman?
PEABODY (voice-over)
Lovecraft’s suggestions gave me an idea.
Mr. Lovecraft, if you follow my instructions, I can not only get Cthulhu to go to sleep, but I can guarantee to keep him asleep for a very long time.
You can? How?

12  EXTERIOR – A different street scene.
PEABODY and LOVECRAFT enter a storefront office whose sign reads “Justin Cayce, Insurance.” After a few seconds, they leave with LOVECRAFT carrying a brief case.
PEABODY (voice-over)
I got Lovecraft to apply for a job with the local insurance agent. In no time, Lovecraft was conferring with his first client…

13  INTERIOR – Lovecraft’s house.
LOVECRAFT and CTHULHU are sitting at a table across from each other. LOVECRAFT’S briefcase is open and he is chattering at high speed to CTHULHU while riffling through a voluminous sheaf of papers. As LOVECRAFT speaks, CTHULHU’s yawns become progressively longer and deeper. At the end of PEABODY’S voice-over, CTHULHU’S head plunks down on the table and he emits loud snores,.
PEABODY (voice-over)
…Cthulhu. As Lovecraft explained the subtleties of Liabilities and Deductibles, Cthulhu’s eyelids began to droop. By the time Lovecraft was elaborating on the differences between Term and Whole Life, Cthulhu was dead to the world.

14  EXTERIOR – Lovecraft’s house.
A large crate labeled “To R’lyeh” is being loaded onto a UPS (Ulthar Package Senders) truck.
PEABODY (voice-over)
From there, it was a simple matter to ship Cthulhu to R’lyeh.

15  INTERIOR – Lovecraft’s house.
LOVECRAFT is sitting at a table, pounding away at a typewriter with a beatific (and somewhat silly) smile.
PEABODY (voice-over)
As for Lovecraft, he was able to go back to his writing.

PEABODY and SHERMAN are sitting in easy chairs across from each other.
Boy, it’s sure lucky Mr. Lovecraft got that insurance job.
Indeed it is. Lovecraft proved quite successful at it, too. So much so, in fact, that he was transferred to the Innsmouth office where he was assigned to shadow people as an investigator for the company.

17  EXTERIOR – A low aerial view of Innsmouth buildings.
LOVECRAFT is seen skulking along rooftops.

In fact, he became so skilled that he became known…
Mr. Peabody! It can’t be!
Oh, but it is. Lovecraft became known as (slight pause) the Shadower Over Innsmouth.
SHERMAN winces. A discordant trumpet blat sounds. Closing theme.

Doc SavageSo I’m reading this book called Wanted Undead or Alive: Vampire Hunters and Other Kick-Ass Enemies of Evil by Jonathan Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman. I intend to do a more lengthy review of it presently, so stay tuned. But I just wanted to mention one thing.

The book has a chapter on the pulp magazines from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which mentions “Doc Savage.” The Doc Savage adventures were really popular back in the heyday of pulp. They featured the titular square-jawed hero who traveled the world with a cadre of brainy tough guys, putting a stop to various evil-doers.

The author, “Kenneth Robeson,” was actually a rotating stable of writers. I read a few when I was a kid. They weren’t great in retrospect, in the manner of other pulp material from writers such as H.P. Lovecraft or Ray Bradbury. But they were a fun read. And to be fair, that’s no more and no less than what they aspired to.

But the books did have a lasting impact on me as a reader, in the form of one important lesson.

See, when I was about 13, I was reading one called The Sargasso Ogre. It features a scene where Doc Savage is interrogating a couple of criminals.

At one point, one of them defiantly answers Doc Savage’s questions with “Phooey on you!”
As a kid, I thought that was hilarious. This is a dangerous criminal. A very bad man, the story makes clear. And he says “phooey on you?”

When I thought about it at greater length, though, I realized what was really going on. The words “phooey on you” might as well have an asterisk indicating a footnote from the author. And that footnote would read as follows:

“Look. Both you and I know that the guy didn’t really say ‘phooey on you.’ What he said was ‘fuck you.’ But I’m writing this in 1933, and there’s no way in hell I’d get away with writing that. So I’m going to ask you, the reader, to use a little effort and fill in what he actually said in your mind, OK?”

That moment of realization comes back to me whenever I’m reading a book from a bygone era, and the writer has to obliquely hint at what’s going on.

I’m not one of these people who subscribes to the idea that graphically presenting something is akin to bad writing. I find that attitude naïve and a bit childish. Good writing is good writing, whether a faithful film adaptation would merit a rating of G or NC-17. And if the material calls for a lot of F-bombs, by all means get ‘em in there.

Still, there’s something impressive about reading – or watching, in the form of screenplays – writers from the past managing to convey through subtle suggestion what they can’t state overtly.

Case in point. I’m in the process of reading Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, published in 1898, for the first time. (SPOILER ALERT!) And the scene where Mrs. Grose reveals Quint’s nature as a sexual predator and pedophile is all the more disturbing for her unwillingness – and James’ inability, given the time he was writing – to state it overtly.

It’s all a bit more subtle than “phooey on you” in lieu of … you know. Still, I thank whichever incarnation of Kenneth Robeson penned “The Sargasso Ogre” for giving me that early lesson in reading between the lines.

Just goes to show that you can glean insights into literary interpretation from just about any source. Don’t agree with me? Go phooey yourself.

Has the existential terror of an unknowable universe that’s fundamentally inimical to the interests of humanity got YOU down this Halloween? Then reanimate your party with these Shadow Over Innsmouth-watering H.P. Lovecraft-inspired snacks! Old Ones and Young Ones alike will love ’em!

Spud Niggurath
– One Russet potato sliced paper thin
– Salt (optional)
– Parchment paper
Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit a plate. Lay discs of potato on top in a flat layer, none touching. Sprinkle layer with salt, if desired. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper. Microwave for 5-6 minutes. Discs will have become lightly browned potato chips.

The Black Goat With a Thousand Young has plenty of little mouths to feed! She knows this one will keep ‘em smiling!

-3 tablespoons butter or margarine
– 1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows
– 6 cups Froot Loops cereal
1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
2. Add Froot Loops cereal. Stir until well coated.
3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day.

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” – that means “Yummy!”

Fetid ichor
– ½ cup vanilla pudding (homemade or store bought)
– 3 Oreo cookies
– Gummy worms
In a parfait glass or clear cup, fill the bottom with half of the vanilla pudding. Crumble the Oreo cookies into small pieces and place about half of the cookie crumbs over the pudding and add a few gummy worms. Repeat using the rest of your ingredients.

The Arab Abdul Alhazred is just MAD about these tasty treats! Try them with some chocolate Yog So-sauce!

“The Fightin’ Shoggoths”: Pine Bluff Senior High, Pine Bluff, Ark.

“The Eldritch Terrors”: Colonial High School, Azalea Park, Fla.

“The Dunwich Hornets”: Dunwich Regional High School, Dunwich, Mass.

“The Fluffy Hamsters” (From one of Lovecraft’s lesser known works): Williamsport Vocational-Technical School, Williamsport, Pa.

“The Thinly Veiled Racial Allegories”: Post Falls High School, Post Falls, Idaho

“The Cthulhu Lulus”: Immaculate Heart Girls Christian Academy, Saratoga, N.Y.