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.

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...