Crushed Penguins

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Every now and again I like to google ‘crushing the frantic penguins’.  It’s an odd thing to do, I know, but there’s a certain history to it: here and here.  Basically, it just amuses me (and pretty much nobody else, I know, but indulge me) that searching for a more or less random, if memorable, phrase from the works of H P Lovecraft leads you directly to some weird places on the internet. Here’s an update on where the trail of tragically flattened flightless birds leads these days.  (I note in passing, and with only a little tremor of pride, that the first place it leads is still to one of my own posts on the topic 2 years ago.  I am number one in at least something.)

Anyway, here’s indisputable evidence that I’m on to something.  The seventh result on Google is … Lady Gaga.  I rest my case.  All important cultural phenomena (or should that be ephemera?) can be accessed through the gateway of crushed penguins.  Though whether this wholly unintentional Lovecraftian homage truly counts as an important cultural phenomenom I leave you to decide for yourself:

Yikes.  On the sfnal front, Lady Gaga does always make me think of something out of a William Gibson novel.  I suspect most of her fans are thinking of entirely different things while watching her …

As a brain cleanser, here’s the next oddity ‘crushing the fantic penguins’ led me to.  It appears to be a proposal to create some kind of inorganic monstrosity, all in the best interests of humanity.  I think.  I’m not sure I got my head around it all, though it sounds either bonkers or extraordinary:

To be fair, it’s probably not strictly bonkers: there’s a longer talk on the subject at the TED talks site, with much highbrow disucssion of the idea in the comments.

And finally, amalgamorphs.  A pleasing word, though I’m not sure it’s actually made it into any credible dictionary


I am not a Twitterer. Not yet, anyway, and probably not soon. Maybe not ever, since I seriously doubt I have the staying power to turn out a regular stream of tweets, or twits, or twitters or whatever they’re called. But if I was on Twitter, things I might have Twittered in the last few days:

– Aren’t staples brilliant? Man, I wish I’d invented staples. That would have been a life well spent.

– Finished Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft. Is good.

– Seen some old X-Files recently. Also some old Friends. Thought the latter has aged far better than the former. What does this say about me?

– Sunshine! Sunshine! I almost felt warm just now. Every winter, I forget how good that feels.

– How to tell something (i.e. Twitter) is about to head down the far side of the cool parabola: I start thinking ‘Hmmm. Maybe I should get me some of that action.’

Me, I have other means than the 140 character outpourings of countless Twitter pros to amuse myself online. Amongst them is googling the phrase ‘crushing the frantic penguins’. I’ve been doing it on and off ever since I first stumbled upon this means of trawling the depths of the internet for oddities last August. Strange behaviour, you say? Well, I’m not going to argue.

Anyway, I thought it was about time I shared my findings. Because I just know the world has been eagerly waiting to hear what new waymarkers have appeared on the virtual trail of once frantic, now flattened penguins since last we checked. And the answer is:

the complete text of the rather good HP Lovercraft story in which the noble phrase first appeared. (Specifically, it turns out, in Chapter 11 of said story).

a Lovecraftian monstrosity made of batteries. Like it.

an entire range of perfumes based on the works of HP Lovercraft. No, really. Call me unimaginative, but wouldn’t have occurred to me as an obvious source of perfumey inspiration, but the one relating to crushed penguins – Shoggoth – does actually sound quite nice: peony, lemongrass, coconut, lime etc. If they’d included ‘essence of dead flightless birds’ as an ingredient, I might have been tempted.

An entirely pointless and idle detour into the backstreets of randomville. Further to my last post, I was vaguely curious about what googling ‘crushing the frantic penguins’ would reveal. (I’ve no idea why. Just because I can, I suppose. Which could be the defining slogan of our internet-enabled world, I suppose).

Not a lot, is the answer, but as always where the internet’s concerned, a couple of interesting snippets. Especially the last one, though I’m not sure ‘interesting’ is really quite the right word for it.

Lovecraftian graffiti

A photo of some ridiculously big starfish

Clearing a giant fatberg from the London sewers. Yeuuch.

And now I’m off to do something slightly less futile than googling phrases culled from horror fiction masterworks.