Wednesday, 25 December 2013

MR James - Ghost Story for Christmas

It's not Christmas without a good ghost story. And increasingly that means, at least in the UK, a story by MR James. This year BBC2 brings us Mark Gatiss's adaptation of James's spine-tingling tale, The Tractate Middoth. Immediately following this broadcast is a documentary, Ghost Writer, about MR James by, you guessed it, Mark Gatiss.

MR JAMES and ghost stories at Christmas - Read more here and here

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Santa or Satan?

Remember the Church Lady of SNL? Well, she would have used this particular photo for further evidence of her theory regarding 'Santa.'

Monday, 25 November 2013

Creepy Contortionists - Ross Sisters

I know, I know. What the hell am I posting here for when I'm supposed to be over at Christmas Scraps?! Well, you may have seen this already (it's been going around the web since 2009, I think) but I hadn't. And, yes, there is indeed a side of me that loves this era -- the music, the talent, the schmaltz -- but here?

At first I thought I had something to share on the old Christmas blog but about 1:30 seconds in those Andrews Sisters style vocals and the wholesome down-at-the-farm charm starts to, um, clash with what those gals are doing with their bodies. Is it just me or do you too think they resemble spiders when their feet and legs pivot / dance around their heads? That's just plain wrong.

Makes me want to stay AWAY from the farm not go on down to one.

Thanks, Cyn!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Pumpkin pillow pal and Halloween hiatus

So I made another one of those rustic looking pumpkin pillows. This time I made the stem by cutting out the shape from a scouring pad.

Seated side by side like this my husband said they reminded him of those theatre masks. You know -- those ones that represent comedy and tragedy? Can't deny he's got something there. Might be saying a little something 'bout my recent experience with the hilarity and tragedy of a hemorrhoidectomy (more like horroroidectomy). Oh. Right. I didn't mention the reason for my surgery before did I? Well, there you go. If you have any questions I now consider myself a bit of an expert.

Tragedy & Comedy

And so with that particular holiday craft task complete I am taking a short hiatus from Halloween to turn my attention to that other holiday. Feel free to call round (Christmas Scraps) and share a mug of cheer!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Selfies at a Funeral - not so bad

Angel at Waterford Cemetery - St. John's, NL
Ok, I heard a piece on a Q podcast the other day about the "Selfies at Funerals" issue. At first I thought, yeah, that's a bit much. But then I recalled my 17 year old self's reaction to the first death and funeral I experienced. My grandmother had a stroke and I found her collapsed on her bedroom floor when I got home from school one day. She died later that night at the hospital.

Then, because my family is Irish, there was a 3 day long 'viewing' arranged at a local funeral home. Family members from all over arrived in town including my Irish Aunt who I'd never met before. There was a Wake / party at our place one night where everyone drank a lot, my Irish Aunt taught us how to do a jig, an Italian friend of my Mom's was reading people's palms, and my Mom herself was singing and goofing around with her siblings in a way I'd never seen before. People were catching up with one another and lots of them were talking, laughing, and crying while telling stories about my Nan. It was quite confusing cause I thought death and funerals were supposed to be sombre, quiet, dignified events--which it was when we were at the funeral home.

The first night of the 'vigil' / 'visitation' at the funeral home I arrived late. Drama was occurring between my friend and her boyfriend at our apartment and I sent Mom on her way while I stayed behind to deal with it. Seriously?! Didn't they realize MY grandmother was DEAD!? So, I threatened to call the cops on the boyfriend and then escorted my girlfriend downstairs and into a cab. Back in the apartment I looked again in the mirror at the new me. For some reason my response to Nanny's death was to go out and get all my hair cut off. I think I'd read somewhere that it was a sign of grief to have 'your tresses shorn.'  I called another cab and headed for the funeral home. There I  was met at the door by my Mom. She walked me in and asked me if I wanted to hang up my coat first or see Nanny. SEE Nanny?!! No one told me anything about SEEING Nanny.

I looked around and saw two open doorways. Through one was a large room full of people milling about and talking in hushed tones. The smaller room looked virtually empty. I guessed that was where I would SEE Nanny so indicated that I would do that first. But instead of heading towards the small room my Mom proceeded to walk me into the large room and through the crowd towards the open casket which contained my grandmother.

Now I was a girl who liked dark things but I'd never seen a dead body before. I had no idea what I was supposed to do or say. Do I cry? I didn't feel like crying. I wasn't really sure what I was feeling except nervous and a bit creeped out. "Can I touch her?" I asked my Mom. She nodded and I reached out and timidly touched her hand. It was cold, cold, cold and felt almost solid. And she looked so different from the last time I'd seen her collapsed on the floor. I mean she looked 'nice' and much younger--she was even wearing makeup!!--but it wasn't really Nanny.

I don't remember what my mother said to me then or what I did but the next 3 days were just weird. It felt a bit like time had stopped. Or we had stepped out of time. Every night I openly drank alcohol in front of family members and no one stopped me. I even smoked cigarettes in front of them for the first time and no one said anything! Everyone was acting in a way I'd never experienced before and didn't quite understand.

Then, on the 2nd night at the funeral home I did something (one of two transgressions) that made an Uncle turn almost purple with rage. I took the opportunity to announce to all gathered there that despite the sad occasion I wanted to point out that it was my Mother's birthday. And I just wanted to say Happy Birthday. I mean how sucky is that? Having to spend your birthday at your own Mom's funeral?! Why was that wrong?

Grand Duchess Anastasia Selfie - 1910
So, maybe I do understand the selfies at funerals. In Western society death and funerals are not something we are educated about. We have to learn by trial and error what sort of behaviour is expected or appropriate. And sometimes people's expectations of what that is are not the same so trying to make sense of it all is complicated. And on top of that you might not be sure about what you're feeling or if it's even ok to not really know. Most teens will turn to their peers to share experiences even when those experiences are out of the ordinary. Maybe even more so. And social media is how most young people, in North America anyway, connect with their friends. It's unfortunate for them that it's a form of communication that is open to the rest of World.

I'm just incredibly grateful that social media was not part of my teen years. God knows what I would have done to further upset that Uncle!

Further Reading:

Selfies at Serious Places (BBC)
Why it's OK to mourn on social media (Sydney Herald)
Mortician Challenges our view of Death (CBC - Q blog)

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Halloween Memories

Standing in the kitchen while someone wrestles a costume on to me. Wandering dark streets with a mask I can barely see through. The pillow case that keeps tripping me up. And the sound of my brother`s spooky sound effects record seeping through the window of our downstairs den.

That`s what most of my earliest Halloween memories are like. Fragmented. They come to my mind like a series of old family snap shots. And so, I really appreciate it when someone is able to help bring back some of the moments I`ve misplaced along the way. Case in point, that Gerry Seinfeld Halloween routine.

Remember that rubber band on the back of that mask? That was a quality item, wasn't it?
That was good for about 10 seconds before it snapped out of that cheap little staple they put it in there with.
You go to your first house, "Trick or..." snap! "it broke! I don't believe it!"
"Wait up you guys, I gotta fix it!"...
The rubber band keeps breaking. It keeps getting shorter. Fixing it and it's getting tighter and tighter on my face. You know when it starts slicing into your eyeballs there and you're trying to breath through that little hole...getting all sweaty.
"I can't see! I can't breathe!"...
About a half hour into it you take that mask off, "Aw, to hell with it!"
Bing, bong! 
"Yeah, it's me. Give me the candy."

I almost fell out of my chair the first time I heard that! If you want to hear a few more stories that might transport you back to a long ago time listen to the Halloween episode of CBCs Vinyl Cafe.

Monday, 4 November 2013

The Quiet Ones - Hammer's latest

Oh, Hammer Horror, I'm so glad you're back!

The Rats in the Walls and David McCallum

Years ago I was given an audio book (tape cassette) of this H.P. Lovecraft story read by David McCallum. I was given it by a friend who knew of my love for spooky things but also of my crush on Mr. McCallum. I fell in love with `David` while watching him in The Invisible Man and was lucky enough to meet him just a couple of years later, while I was working at the popcorn counter of an old large and somewhat spooky theatre (more on that in another post). He was in town doing some dinner theatre and had come to watch a matinee showing of Body Double. I was thrilled and tried very, very hard to act calmly (and sanely) while selling him his popcorn. (The same friend who gave me the cassette found and sent me a glass, years later, with Mr. McCallum`s face and name on it made for that very same dinner theatre production!)

Anywho, listening to this particular audio book became on of my Halloween traditions until, in one of many moves, the cassette disappeared. (And sadly, my McCallum glass was later broken by a roommate.)  But a few years ago, I was able to replace the long lost cassette recording with a digital version, yay! And so while listening to it the other day (I've decided to extend Halloween this year due to lost time) I GOOGLED it. And that's how I found this very interesting multimedia project from last year featuring the very recording...

Sunday, 3 November 2013

The hazards of tin can luminaries

Boo - before it caught fire
I made these two tin can luminaries last year and had no problem with them. This year they both caught fire at about hour 3! The only thing different I did was add some touch ups to the paint. I used the same can of spray paint I used last year but maybe that was the problem. While trying to get the last of the paint out of the can I did notice there were flying bits of something, looked a bit like spun glue (if you've ever seen that form of cobweb making), coming out with the paint. Anywho, luckily the trick or treat part of the evening was over so there were no kids around when I was alerted to the situation by the distinct smell of something not right. I was able to get things under control with the help of my husband but there were a tense few minutes. The cans are now in the trash.
Eek - what I said when I saw the flames!

On the plus side we had more trick or treaters this year than we have had in the past. I think because there are more families with young children living on our compound which made it more fun! And despite the recent surgery I was feeling well enough to don some makeup and hand out candy (Jollyranchers were the most popular). It was a good Halloween night!

Friday, 1 November 2013

One More Hour...

And so, the special night of divination, magic, and spooky fun is over for another year...

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Halloween Crafting is therapeutic

I've been trying make use of my recovery time. So, I spent the last couple of days making this rustic looking guy with what was at hand...including steel wool for his stem. He makes me smile!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Balcony Ghost

Was going to try and recreate this display I did several years ago but emergency surgery on Tuesday last has put the kibosh on Halloween :(

Will content myself with reading all your posts!

Balcony ghost 2006

Monday, 21 October 2013

Local Spirits - Djinn and Zombies

I've always been interested in the response to Halloween celebrations in this part of the World. From what I've picked up it would seem that beliefs in supernatural beings (angels and demons mostly) are common. During our first few years here I remember some of the South East Asian women, working as Nannys, seemed more frightened by the house decorations -- and of what might happen when the door was opened -- than their small trick or treating charges!

But I've also noticed a real growing interest in the horror genre among young people here. Last year I participated in a Zombie Run during the Doha Tribeca Film Festival and was amazed at the numbers of people participating. I was also impressed by the makeup AND by the number of young locals who seemed to be working on horror film projects (like Lockdown) with friends. (Watch the Zombie Run here and see yours truly as a pathetic kneeling zombie holding out one lone red ribbon).

And it's not just the young locals getting inspiration from regional 'spirits.' Check out this trailer for Tobe Hooper's new film, Djinn.  Release date here is October 31st.

Will DEFINITELY go see this one.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The House is Haunted

This house is haunted by the smell of pumpkin muffins...finally! Been meaning to make these for days now.

The House Is Haunted by the Echo of Your Last Goodbye by Holly Cole on Grooveshark

Friday, 18 October 2013

My very own Boo Tree

Styrofoam bowls, black marker, a few screws et voilà!
It's big, it's broad...
It's broad, it's bright...
It fills the sky of 
All Hallows' Night...
The strangest sight 
you've ever seen.
The Monster Tree 
on Halloween.

 - Ray Bradbury

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Creepy Feeling - Jelly Roll Morton

There's nothing better this time of year than getting that creepy feeling....

My Creepy Cat painting 2009

Jelly Roll Morton - Creepy Feeling

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Tuesday, 15 October 2013

I`d like a Second Line, please

So, you know that Halloween is really all about the dead, right? The dead, death and our fear of the inevitable and unknown. We celebrate the possibility of the dead's return while at the same time disguising ourselves to elude recognition should they actually show up. Crazy, right? But that`s partly why we love it!

Now me, I'm not actually afraid of death. Dying on the other hand, well, like most people I hope I go in my sleep, in my own home, and AFTER I've lived my life to the full. I'm not going to get all melancholy on you here BUT at this time of the year I do like to point out the underpinnings of the season. 

And, for those of us who were raised and still live in Northern climes, there's the added piquancy of the Autumnal season. The season that signals summer's end, a time of falling leaves, harvest and the coming long nights and colder weather of winter. It's the ending of our calendar year. 
And so it is that today I would like to recognize and tip my hat to the ending (coming soon) of one of my favourite tv shows, Treme. The last few episodes (sniff) will air in December. That makes me sad.

But in my sadness there is the will to celebrate -- because Treme was/is a celebration!  A celebration of music, of people, of community, but mostly of a life's pulse that just won`t quit! And that, my dears, is essentially what the Second Line is all about -- getting on with living. Something the dead can not do.

Can I have a Hallelujah! Hell, yeah!

If you want to know more about this particular scene you can read about it here.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Spooky Seasonal Listening - Blasphuphmus Radio

I discovered Blasphuphmus Radio last year...I think. The old brain cells ain't firing the way they used to - as is the way of rot. Anywho, regardless of when the point is you should listen to this guy's (Austin Rich) Halloween Spooktacular podcasts!

It's not the kind of stuff that's going to scare the poop out of you but rather make you feel the tingly, slightly creepy, fun of the season you once did as a kid. Well, at least that's how I feel. Cheesy, spooky fun for the whole family!

His latest contribution, The Ghost of General Moulton features music and an old time radio broadcast from the 1940s. Love it!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Witch of Pittenweem - Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo

I love discovering new spooky Halloween appropriate music. I came across this one about 6 months ago.

Every morning I'd go
With the dawn to the harbor
Where the gulls fought for guts
Where the boats bayed and echoed

Where the waves wept and stormed
Like my heart that was stolen
When a curse as cold as the sea
Pointed its finger straight at me

Cruel Lord
She has stalked me in dream
You abandoned me
The Witch of Pittenweem
Left me to hang between
The shore and the sea

And the waves did rear
And the bay did burst
When they swallowed your lies
When they heard my cry
Left me to roll between
The earth and the sky

In the dungeon deep
In the company of thieves
I was pulled, I was pushed
'Til my blood danced in mirrors

'Til my life almost left
'Til my words did confess
To a crime I'd never commit
In the cold month of January

Cruel Lord
She has stalked me in dream
You abandoned me
The Witch of Pittenweem
Left me to hang between
The shore and the sea

And the waves did rear
And the bay did burst
When they swallowed your lies
When they heard my cry
Left me to roll between
The earth and the sky

I escaped in the dark
On the mercy of a guard
To the house of a friend
Oh, but betrayal let 'em in

I was dragged through frozen streets
With a rope 'round my heels
Then tied to the mast
And the stones I could feel

'Til they cut me down
Buried me under a door
And the red waves
Lapped the shore

Cruel Lord
She has stalked me in dream
You abandoned me
The Witch of Pittenweem
Left me to hang between
The shore and the sea

And the waves did rear
And the bay did burst
When they swallowed your lies
When they heard my cry
Left me to roll between
The earth and the sky

The Last Witch gives me hope...

In my quest, this spooky holiday season, for something that has the least bit of real Halloween spirit in it (still haven't seen American Horror Story but so disappointed in The Witches of East End, The Originals, AND The Tomorrow People) I look forward with some hope to The Last Witch. Here there seems to be, at last, a whiff of the odd, autumnal unease I have been searching for...

Medieval stained glass and illuminated manuscripts plus scratchy titles and spooky music put us firmly in weird goings-on territory, and that’s before we learn we’re in real-world witch central (aka Halifax) where a mysterious murder has taken place. Is oddball character Alice Lister (Katherine Kelly, secretive but charismatic) involved? - Read more...

Heeeee, heeee, heeeee, heeee, heeee!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Costumes that are not scary

Photo courtesy of my cousin - Thanks!
So this here is my grandfather. He's at a costume party and it's August 1906. He's dressed as a Scotsman / Highlander.

The caption for the larger group photo includes the word 'Egwanulti.' Apparently that is Cherokee for "by the water." In this case I think it's the name of the country house where this party took place. La di da...

And then here's me, approximately 60 years later, dressed as a little Dutch girl. I'm at 'camp.'

Dutch Girl?
On this particular day a select few of us were put into the national dress of various countries and told to smile while our picture was taken. The sign I'm holding is the name of the country I am representing (although it could just as easily read "For Sale").

Nope. Can't remember why we had to do this.

But I do remember those wooden shoes were uncomfortable.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Repurposed Mat for Halloween

Took our faded 'Welcome' mat and used a little black marker to create this...
'Ghostly' Halloween repurposed mat by me, 2013

Sunday, 6 October 2013

I love me a gargoyle or two

Where did I become interested in gargoyles and church carvings? Well, that would have been at the 12th C Cathédrale St Pierre in Lisieux, Normandy. Made a huge impression on me back in 1990-something.

Gargoyle, Notre Dame - by me 2013

I hung out at that cathedral a lot while volunteering on a local archaeological dig. Have I mentioned this before? Well, in case I haven't the dig was of a medieval cemetery (with some Roman remains underneath). And yes, I got to dig up a skeleton! But it wasn't really creepy. No, what was somewhat disturbing was the large pentagram, complete with melted candles, that I found on the attic floor of a nearby abandoned 19th C schoolhouse. Now, THAT was creepy. One night I was showing it to a couple of Scottish buskers I'd met when, on the way out, we heard voices coming up the stairwell. I started to run towards the other wing of the building followed closely by the buskers. We were really lucky we didn't fall through the many gaps from missing floor boards. And I was laughing so hard, in that hysterical kind of way you get when you are excited and a bit scared, I almost wet myself.

It was a great night!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Spooky Shadow in my backyard...

Sounds almost like a song title, doesn't it? But really, while out in the back supervising our kitten's garden frolic, I saw this shadow on the ground.

Is it just me or does it look a little devilish? And maybe just a little bit like the mascot for the Just for Laughs Festival?

Speaking of which, the Festival that is, who else here would love to go see John Cleese in his Last Time to See Me Before I Die tour!?

Sigh. If wishes were fishes...

I did get to see Graham Chapman, tho. Before he died, I mean. While on his own tour. Which, I do believe was, sadly, the last time many of us got to see him.

(Way to go, dear...always gotta end on a down note, do we?)

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Spirits caught!

Spirit Photography offered by Eastman House
Ok, well, maybe not really caught - more like created. Still, this is one photo workshop I would LOVE to participate in. Have a whole host of deceased relatives I'd like to 'snap.' Unfortunately, I don't live anywhere near Eastman House where this workshop takes place. AND the price is a wee bit on the hefty side pour moi. Je suis désolé :(

Of course most of us now believe these spirit photographs are sophisticated double exposures, but the really good ones can make one pause to wonder.

The first spirit photograph I remember being very impressed with was the one of The Brown Lady. This one had my 10 year old self pretty convinced that a ghost had indeed been caught...or at least its image had.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

My front door on October 1st

It may not be October 1st yet where you live but it is here! Ok, I admit it. I did put it up the night before but I couldn't help myself - my front door's been naked for weeks now!

October 1st Halloween Craft based on free hand rendering of pumpkin stencil

Friday, 27 September 2013

Papa Sangre - An App Discovery

Have you heard of this app? This is a game that is, apparently, firmly focused on the audio end of things. The premise? You are dead. You are in the land of the dead. You have to find a loved one and save them from all the things that lurk in the pitch black. Hmmm...

I don't know, man. I had a hard enough time with Doom III where I got so creeped out and amped up I had to give up on it (wimp, I know.) But still, this is the land of dead where I should feel a little home. N'est pas?

And just in time for the upcoming season, Papa Sangre II will soon makes its debut.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

A Cemetery Prowl

When we were back in Canada we were living across the street from one of my favourite cemeteries. And so, when our cat needed some 'out' time (the road in front of the house was too busy to let her out on her own) I would put on her harness and go for a stroll 'round the cemetery.

Stroll is not quite the right word to describe the walking, stopping, then sudden running and leaping over obstacles that actually occurred. I'm not sure what that word is but I am certain we provided much amusement to whoever (or whatever) may have been watching.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Fugglers are creepy fun!

Source: Squidoo
Ok, I came across this and just had to share! I'm going to try and make my own little fuggler for Halloween!

Check out more fugglers, including one of David Lynch!! If you are interested in buying your own visit Mrs. McGettrick's Fuggler Emporium on Etsy. And, btw, she wants you to know that she doesn't use real human teeth.

Hmmm, that's an idea...

Sunday, 22 September 2013

The Innocents - Another Creepy Child Sings

I was listening to a podcast today Night Waves (BBC) about a movie version of Henry James, The Turn of the Screw that I've never heard of. It's called The Innocents (1961) and starred Deborah Kerr. The podcast, recorded at the British Film institute as part of the Sound of Cinema season, starts with an introduction to the topic and to the very impressive panel.

And then they play this...


Have you read The Turn of the Screw? I can't remember when I was first introduced to this story. I have a vague recollection of reading something spooky from my elementary school library about a big British estate and two children who I was never sure were real. Sounds like Turn of the Screw, right? But what is it that makes children creepy? Especially when they sing? It seems to be one of the few horror motifs that gets under everyone's skin.

I shiver at the thought. But it's a shiver of anticipation because I'm going to settle myself down and watch the entire movie on You Tube now.

Or maybe I'll wait till it's dark...

Lyrics to O Willow Waly:

We lay my love and I beneath the weeping willow.
But now alone I lie and weep beside the tree.
Singing "Oh willow waly" by the tree that weeps with me.
Singing "Oh willow waly" till my lover return to me.
We lay my love and I beneath the weeping willow.
A broken heart have I. Oh willow I die, oh willow I die.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

A Cemetery Walk - Waterford Bridge Road

I sense a theme in my last few posts - walking and a bit of nostalgia. I think it's partly the time of year. September inevitably makes me think of the past. All those falling leaves...

Except where I'm living the leaves aren't really falling - unless I've forgotten to do the watering. Where I am right now September is the time of year one looks forward to the temperatures cooling down to the low 30s in the evenings. Yep. And it's sweaty, too. But by Halloween the evenings will be perfect. Perfect for wearing costumes (without any heavy sweaters or coats) or for lurking in the shadows. Mwuaahaahaahaa!

Actually, I miss sweater weather. Truly. I love the nip in the air that tells you to get out your socks, heavy shoes, and favourite fleece. Sigh. 

So, because I can't put on those things and go for a walk in the cool evening through one of my favourite cemeteries, well, I guess I'll just have to do it via the old slideshow I've preserved forever on YouTube.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Another spooky walk - Gibbet Hill and Deadman's Pond

Where I live when I'm in Canada is very...atmospheric. One of my favourite walks is around Signal Hill. On this hill there is a rather jagged height known as Gibbet Hill, below which lies Deadman's Pond. You can guess what is said to have gone on there. Buried pirate treasure, murder, hangings, and death by drowning. No wonder people have reportedly seen...things.

This is another revisiting of a post I did in the 'before times.' If you're interested in reading more about the stories related to this place click here.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Fantômes de Chartres

I was lucky enough to be in France recently where I joined my cousin, who was celebrating a milestone birthday, on a tour of Northern France. We drove from Paris to Normandy and back. There were many amazing sights seen and much in the way of good food eaten --no, really it was almost always GREAT food! Before I bore you to death with all my gargoyle snaps I will first show you this - a short video featuring the sights of our overnight stay in Chartres. And to those of you who might be looking for a somewhat spooky experience...well, try walking around that city in the dark on a cool September night!

After an amazing meal, bien sûr, we headed to Chartres Cathedral at about 10:00 pm. This is where you begin the Chartres en Lumière tour. Entranced by the light show projected onto the church and the accompanying music, it was probably 10:30 pm before we headed out for the rest of the self-guided tour. We followed a small crowd into a open garden area and then back to the other side of the cathedral. Then things got confusing.

We couldn't quite figure out where the blue lights, embedded in the sidewalks and meant to guide you, led next. The small crowd around us began to thin out. We turned and went back through the dark garden only to realize the lit doorway we'd seen was barred. So back through the garden (thank you flashlight app) and around to the church by which point it was just my cousin and I. But we were pretty excited about it all and so continued on towards the river - which is where I saw one of the last people (a man carrying a paper bag and finishing off a can of beer) we were to pass that night. The streets were pretty much deserted -- historic buildings, dim pools of light, narrow winding streets, a mossy river --- a bit like wandering the set of a murder mystery or supernatural thriller. Nothing horrific came to pass as we continued on our way but by the time we were done and back at our hotel it was after midnight! Just enough time for a much needed nightcap. 

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Last Tuesday Society presents...!

The Last Tuesday Society presents...
If only...sigh. Will I ever live in a place where I can haunt the halls of social gatherings of the dead and their fans...? Oh, please dark mistress of Halloween grant me my wish! For those of you lucky enough to live in or around London click here for more details.

Hmmm, I do have some cousins living near London....

Monday, 1 July 2013

Out of the Shadows indeed...
Some of you may already be familiar with Vivian Maier's story but I was not. Not until last night when I watched this BBC Imagine episode, "Who took Nanny's pictures." Wow.

What makes the story so compelling, in part, is that in life Miss Maier was known mostly by her work as a Nanny. But in death her other self, her shadow self -- the amazing and tenacious photographer that she was -- is now fully exposed. Out of the Shadows indeed. The fact that she died just about the same time she was 'discovered' just adds another fascinating element to the story. And, of course, all those thousands of photos and films (much of them still yet to be seen) discovered in the contents of those storage lockers.

I guess it's true, "there are eight million stories in the naked city..." 

Friday, 28 June 2013

Witch on a flying table

Barlach's adaptation of Goethe's Walpurgisnacht scene
I really like woodcuts. Probably for the same reason I like lino cuts and why I doodle things with lots of lines. When I did my first lino cut tho I was less than impressed with the results. What I didn't realize is that you shouldn't really leave a lot of blank (uncarved) space in a cut because it just becomes a big blob of colour, when you print it, with no interesting details or texture.

Ok, enough of the art lesson and on to what you see to the left. This here is one of a series of woodcuts by Ernst Barlach, made back in the 1920s, to illustrate Goethe's Walpurgisnacht (Halloween) scene in Faust. I had no idea there was a Halloween scene in Faust! I'm not particularly familiar with the play except that it's a story about some guy who makes a deal with the Devil.

There are several woodcuts illustrating this scene but this is my favourite! It's a witch riding a flying table to, presumably, a Sabat on Halloween night. 

Monday, 24 June 2013

True Blood - a little tired?

Modern Portrait of a Vampire (by me)
The gang from True Blood is back and with the elimination of a few story lines at the end of last season things should be simpler now. Or not.

Is Bill a big, bad, vampire with a God complex? Is Sookie really going to lay off the supernatural love interests? Will Jessica be happier with Bill? Has Pam lost the bar? Is Sam going to be a parent to his shifter girlfriend's daughter? And what about those fairy babies? I'm sure they will factor into the story around the new guy, portrayed by Rutger Hauer. Who, frankly, is the one thing that WILL keep me tuning in (ok, maybe I still care a little bit about Eric...and Lafayette).

But can this infusion of new blood really help a story that is feeling somewhat tired? After all, all things must end. Even vampires.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Just back from the dead, are we?

The Returned. A new Scorsese movie? Nope. Maybe the title of this tv series in its native French will tell you more, Les Revenants. Yep. You got it. The returned in question are the dead. Inexplicably, a select few dead people, from one small alpine village, have just seemingly and miraculously returned to the land of the living. Not as zombies exactly but as definite pieces of the past.

It's an intriguing idea when you think of it. I mean, would you want the man you loved 10 years ago, who had committed suicide on your WEDDING DAY (!!) to suddenly reappear and want back into your life now? Now, after years of therapy and finally moving on and maybe finding someone else? Aside from the age difference that is. Speaking of age differences, what about having the twin sister you lost 4 years ago reappear as her 4 years younger self?  Or what about a mysterious little boy who shows up and starts insisting you are his fairy god mother? Wouldn't that make your life somewhat complicated? To say the least.

Most of the people I've 'lost' along the road of life are family members. And when I think about them coming back it's normally along the lines of a one night reunion, like Halloween night or Day of the Dead. They come back, you have a little party, a chat, catch up, and then, most importantly, they leave. I've never imagined them staying! That would just be too... difficult - for all concerned. I mean, my grandmother found the 1970s confusing and alienating, I can only imagine what she would make of the 21st century!

I admit to being very intrigued by the concept tho and like the Nordic Noir look and feel in this trailer. The cinematography was apparently influenced by one of my favourite contemporary photographers, Gregory Crewdson.  Unfortunately, I doubt I'll get a chance to see it :(

But, I did run across an article in Entertainment Weekly that seems to suggest an American version is on the horizon. Hmmmm....

(Read a short review of Les Revenants in The Telegraph).

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Dia de los Muertos on BBC

Really, really enjoyed this on the magic tv box the other night. Would love an opportunity to go see for myself how this Feast of the Dead looks, sounds, and tastes. The mole looks amazing!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Ghost Brothers of Darkland County

Recently saw Stephen King and John Cougar Mellencamp interviewed on David Letterman about their collaboration on a musical. Yes, you read that right, a musical. It's been years in the making and I have to admit I am intrigued. Especially after hearing the story about where the idea came from.

It all stems from the 'haunted' cabin Mellencamp bought years ago.  Apparently, back in the 20s, two young brothers and a girl were having a good time one night when things went horribly awry. One brother attacked the other with a poker causing grievous bodily harm. They dragged him outside and then, going for help or maybe just high tailing it out of there, they got in a car and drove off. They then crashed the car and both died. Later, when the remains of the other brother were found, back at the cabin, it was headless -- the late night snack for some passing bear...or something.

And now the story, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, is a musical. And a book. And an album. With LOTS of names you will recognize including T. Bone Burnett.

Read more about this project at the Huffington Post.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The World is Awash in Red

So, I'm having a rainy day. Which, believe me, is not that easy to do in a place where it is mostly sunny and currently...34 C -- heading straight to today's projected high of 37 C. How do you have a rainy day in a hot, stifling desert? Well, you close the drapes, get a snack, nudge up the AC, get another snack, drink lots of tea, while getting a snack, and watch the Season 3 premiere of AMC's The Killing.

And what a premiere. Despite the lack lustre conclusion of last season I was relieved to hear the show would be back. One of the many reasons I enjoy the show is the role the location's climate (Vancouver = Seattle) plays in the series. No really. The weather and climate are a whole character unto themselves. The overcast blue-grey tint in the air, the constant drizzle, and occasional looming fog add a certain quality of mystery and pine scented air a la Twin Peaks.

Obviously our story has moved on since the discovery of Rosie's murderer/s and we find our main characters leading happy, healthy, and successful lives one year on. Or so it would appear. Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) is no longer a detective but instead living on a small island, working at the local ferry service, jogging every day, and playing house with a co-worker. Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) has beat his drug addiction and is healthy, fit (yeah!) and about to take the Sergeant's exam. He even has a great new girlfriend, played by Jewel Staite (spot the reference to Firefly in their's hard to miss).

By the time these two finally meet up again we suspect not all is as it seems. Despite claiming to one another that they've quit smoking they are both soon lighting up. While Holder is doing well we suspect he's starting to spend too much time at work heading into the same obsessive behavior his ex-partner succumbed to. And Linden's walked away, no, hidden herself away, from a job she's good at but that she lets use up every bit of stamina and psychological well being she has (until she figures out how to achieve a balance she SHOULD hide).

But now Holder has brought her a case. And not just any case. It's one that he suspects may have a connection to the same investigation that caused Linden to have a nervous breakdown. She initially refuses to get involved but it's not long, as Holder rightly suspects, before she is pulled in. And the scene that tells you this will happen takes place in...a barn.

Out for a jog Linden takes shelter in the abandoned barn during a downpour. Waiting out the rain she looks around and notices the dead body of a starved cow. Sad. But then she sees another. And then another and another and another and another until finally we hear a low moaning and the camera shows us the one cow that is almost but not quite dead yet.

The scene is so horrific you know there's gotta be a reason. Initially I thought, ok, she's going to find out who the hell let a whole barn of cows starve to death and bring them to justice (the animal lover in me). But no, that's not the reason. The reason, swathed in layers of red, is revealed at the very end of the episode.

AAIEEIEIEIEIEIEIEIE!! I have to wait a week!?!

Oh yeah, and like thousands of others, last night I watched THE Game of Thrones episode everyone is talking about - The Red Wedding. I had read the book so knew (and was dreading) what was coming. Still, somehow they made it even more brutal. Nuff said. For some of the very angry reactions click here. Or check out Arya Stark's reaction

Sunday, 26 May 2013

The After lives of the Dead

Source: Wikipedia Commons
"World's Ugliest Woman" - catches your attention, doesn't it?  I had to know more simply because I wanted to see who/what would qualify for that 'title' and you know what? It's not deserved. At least I don't think so. But then again I live in the 21st C.

Until listening to a recent podcast of CBC's Q I had never heard of Julia Pastrana. The story begins with the 19th C tendency to put on display anything, or anybody, with even a hint of the exotic. Julia, born in Mexico with two genetic disorders, was bought and sold in life and death. She died in childbirth following which she, and her dead 3 day old son, continued to be exhibited.

So, this story is also about the decade long efforts of Laura Anderson Barbata, a Mexican-American artist, to have Pastrana's preserved remains, somewhere in Norway, returned to Mexico and given a decent burial. Which, considering how long Pastrana was on display, is not too much to ask. It's a story that brings up issues about otherness, exploitation, and the after lives of the dead.

Speaking of which here's another CBC podcast (yes, I do like my national radio) about a somewhat similar topic...

Nobody's Dead Anymore: Marketing Dead Celebrities on Under the Influence. This episode looks at how dead celebrities have been digitally resurrected to sell yet more stuff.  Those who are the top sellers are referred to as kidding.

"It's become a $2 billion dollar industry. The marketing of dead celebrities not only attracts lots of big brands, but lots of controversy. We'll trace the use of dead celebrities in advertising, we'll analyze "Dead Q Scores," we'll list the top-grossing dead celebrities, we'll tell some fascinating stories about ads that featured Audrey Hepburn, Michael Jackson, Fred Astaire, Kurt Cobain and Marilyn Monroe - and how their families felt about those commercials."

Click here if you want to read more about "Selling the Dead." And here for"An Artist Finds a Dignified Ending for an Ugly Story".

I'm not sure where I stand when it comes to this kind of exploitation. On the one hand once you are gone you are, presumably, beyond caring about what's done with your body or image. On the other hand, I'm not sure I'd want images of me brought together in order to sell a chocolate bar especially one with such a weird slogan...I mean, what's wrong with cotton! If you do care, or your family does, I guess you need to have things written down and notarized.

Would I want this blog to continue to exist should I get hit by a bus tomorrow? Well, given my tendency to occasionally erase traces of my online presence, I guess not...? Hmmm, this will require more thought. 

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Mermaids from Near and Far...especially Coney Island

Save the mermaids! Check out this on Kickstarter or read Amanda Palmer's blog post Mermaids, Guns and Steel, about the fund raising event (local and online) to save the Mermaid Parade!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Friday, 17 May 2013

The Fall - Anderson's Serial Killer Detective

Caught the first episode of The Fall the other night. Gillian Anderson plays the very competent and professional catcher of this very threatening just-a-regular-family-man-and-marriage-counsellor killer.  The first episode has that heavy with silence quality that worked so well in Kenneth Branagh's Wallander - the viewer is a witness to what's happening rather than having everything explained through dialogue. The music in this clever trailer captures the tone of this chilling show perfectly.

And in case you are interested, the music is by the amazing Lhasa de Sela. (Lhasa has, unfortunately, left this sphere of existence but her music lives on. You can listen to a great podcast tribute to her and her music on CBC's A Propos.)

Saturday, 11 May 2013

In the Dark of Night

Kelly Hofer photography
I like the dark of night,
especially in the autumn.
The night is alive with sounds;
the rustle of leaves,
the flutter of wings,
soft distant voices carried on a breeze.

In the dark of night we say things we wouldn't say in the light;
So in the dark, in the night, we can be free.

- by pcoristi

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Knitted Anatomy!!

From "Lab" by Shanell Papp

Wow! In all my efforts to knit something interesting I never thought of knitting intestines.

Check out Shanell Papp's efforts at the entire human anatomy! You can read an interview with her here or see more of her work here.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Mermaids don't mean to kill...

Underwater beings will forever hold me transfixed. I guess I just have a thing about them. Not so fond of the wickedly creepy being of fresh water, Jenny Greenteeth tho. I first discovered her in the book of Faeries by Brian Froud. Her image stuck with me for years and made me somewhat afraid to delve into the small watering hole we spent afternoons beside up at camp. Ok, so maybe the blood suckers had something to do with that too, but Jenny is responsible for the drowning of many a young child so clearly I was right to be cautious.

Now, I know rumours abound regarding mermaids and the occasional drowning at sea but honestly I think most of these incidents are accidents. I believe mermaids are simply looking for some company and then tend to forget that we are surface creatures. That being said there is something a tad reminiscent of Jonathan Harker and Dracula's brides in this particular underwater scenario. And by the end it doesn't look like he's heading for the surface now does it?

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Hemlock Crescent, I mean Grove

Many years ago I lived on a street called Hemlock Crescent. In response to the return address on my envelope a friend responded, in a written reply--sent through the post with a stamp and everything!--that only I would end up living on such an appropriately named street (given my interest in dark and witch-ee things, etc). I spent a year in that gas filled apartment and was lucky the only thing to blow up was my then relationship.

But that's partly why I was interested in watching the premiere of the new Netflix series, Hemlock Grove. No, not for relationship drama but because as my letter writing friend noted, any place that includes Hemlock in its name has got to have some witch-ee connotations. However, after watching this first episode I was left with a burning question...what /where is Hemlock Grove? Is it the woodsy ravine with the gypsy caravans (ok, not real gypsy caravans but the American equivalent, trailers)? Is it the large estate where the bwitch and her strange offspring reside? Or is it the name of the community? Oh, right. I remember now. There was a big banner over a street scene so it IS the name of the community. And the highschool, right?

And therein lies one of the problems with this promising new series. Its first episode, at least, is a tad bit disjointed and slow so my attention wandered. Despite that I admit to being intrigued. What will keep me watching? The inclusion of Lili Taylor in the cast for one, to see where they take the references to Gypsy / Roma culture, the small nods to Twin Peaks (the PA announcement made to an empty school hallway), and finding out what the back story is to the strange Quasimodo / Frankenstein like Godfrey daughter and why and how does she glow!?

Read more in the National Post - Of Monsters and Young Men.

Trivia Note: Check out the resemblance of 1970s actor Michael Sarrazin to Bill Skarsgard.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

The Three Ravens

The Three Ravens by Walter Crane c. 1900
Like many of you, I suspect, I have a fascination with crows and ravens. Where we live in Canada there is no shortage of them and I miss hearing their distinct "kaaaaw, kaaaaw."  I don't think I'd ever seen a raven though until I went to The Tower of London where, as part of the tour, you are introduced to its winged residents. And you are told, by the Master Raven Keeper, that as long as ravens remain at The Tower there will be a monarch on England's throne.

Segue several years later to an episode of Simon Schama's, A History of Britain, called The Body of the Queen. While watching this compelling episode about the Queens Mary and  Elizabeth, I heard a song in the soundtrack that had me rewinding repeatedly to hear it again. I later learned  it was a traditional ballad called The Three Ravens. And while I've since heard other versions, nothing beats this eerily haunting rendition by John Harle sung by Sarah Leonard (although Sonne Hagal's version is a close second).

So before it disappears have a listen...

Friday, 19 April 2013

A Scent in the Night

Ok, so the other night I could smell flowers in the air. It was everywhere. The scent was a bit like lilies (of which there are none around here). Sure, we do have some fragrant frangipani in the neighbourhood but you have to get close to smell them and this scent seemed to be EVERYWHERE. To be perfectly frank, it reminded me a bit of a funeral home.

As the night wore on, and the smell did not dissipate, I asked my husband several times if he could smell flowers. He 'claimed' to smell nothing. By the time we got to bed I had almost convinced myself I was having a psychic portent of a death. I mean, isn't that what smelling flowers when there are none around is supposed to mean?  That or maybe it heralds the appearance of a Saint or the Virgin Mary?

The explanation turned out to be a little less supernatural. First, my husband has asthma and allergies so he rarely smells anything. Second, the trees around our compound have all recently sprouted these teeny tiny blooms. As I was leaving a friend's place the other night, the air still full of scent, I walked straight into a low hanging branch of one of these trees and voila, THERE was the scent! Turns out to be a form of night blooming jasmine. How lucky am I?

This is a scan of a one of those tiny blooms
which are about the size of my fingernail. And below is the music that goes with the experience...

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Creepy Photography from Ellen Rogers

I'm testing the Blogger app today. Hoping it will mean more postings if I can do them from the iPad. And this first test features the creatively creepy photography of Ellen Rogers. This one reminds me of Magenta from Rocky Horror...

Ellen Rogers Photography

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Lady Lavender - Ken Nordine

There's something about Ken Nordine's "Lavender" track that is very Halloween-ee. It's like a word picture of the-witch-in-the-woods after she's aged and been mostly forgotten about.

Lavender from Anthony Penta on Vimeo

Wednesday, 10 April 2013


Maybe so many of us are keen on the monsters of Halloween because the World seems so full of things far more terrifying these days. Or maybe that's the way it's always been. Monsters are a metaphor for our fears, right? So which one are you most afraid of?


Monday, 18 February 2013

"Creativity is Magic..."

How cool is this? Pam Grossman, author of Phantasmaphile, talks about Art and the Occult in this episode of the Midnight Archives.