Friday, 31 January 2014

I am going to make it through this year...if it kills me

It's Chinese New Year. Year of the Horse. Apparently, this year and the next two will be great for a Tiger like me. Unlike the last two which, I gotta say, were quite bumpy.

To get me on the right track I've been cleaning, clearing out, reorganizing, and listening to motivational tunes like this one.

Ghost of a Total Stranger - Golden Gardens

This track has a haunting quality that stays with you. And the vocals remind me a bit of Julee Cruise.

"The Ghost Of A Total Stranger" from Golden Gardens on Vimeo.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Haunted and hypnotized by the idea of the witch...

That's a quote from the beginning of The Art of Witchcraft hosted by artist Lachlan Goudie (son of painter Alexander Goudie). Lachlan begins with a look at his father's fascination with a witch named Nannie Dee (from a Burns poem) but moves on to explore other artists' depictions of the witch over the last 500 years. Conveniently for him, there was an exhibition, Witches and Wicked Bodies, at Scotland's National Gallery at the time. There's nothing much new here BUT it is interesting to see that the stereotype of the witch (old hag hovering over a boiling cauldron with nearby cat) was formed during the medieval period thanks mostly to some women fearing/hating monks. the invention of the printing press was in part responsible for the dissemination of an even more frightening manifestation of misogyny - the witch hunts that began to sweep through Europe in the 15th century. One book in particular, ‘Malleus Malificarum‘ (‘Hammer of Witches’), written by two Dominican monks and published in 1486, created an image of witches as hate-filled old hags whose hideous appearance was but the outward manifestation of their cruel natures. (Source)


Gutted you missed the exhibit? Well, you get another chance at the British Museum starting September 2014.  Read a review here and here.

This fascinating exhibition co-curated by the artist and writer, Deanna Petherbridge, will investigate the changing depiction in prints and drawings of witches and witchcraft from the Renaissance to the end of the 19th century. Artists of the calibre of Dürer, Goya and Fuseli were drawn to the rich imagery and mythology that had built up around witches from classical times that ranged from hideously terrifying hags to bewitching seductresses intent on enslaving their male victims through their beauty. Source

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Show me the devil...

Salem by Sydney Curnow Vosper, 1908
I watched the first installment of another great tv series from the UK the other day. This one, Hinterland (or Y gwyll) is set in Wales and, yes, features a haunted detective (who have become their own genre). My husband and I were particularly caught up in our viewing because we've been to Aberystwyth where much of Hinterland is set. But it was the story that kept us watching.

The action begins with the disappearance of an older woman, Miss Jenkins, from her home. The police are called in to investigate because of the scene of "carnage" left behind (LOTS of blood). We learn Miss Jenkins had once run a home for wayward children and, eventually, we discover it wasn't a homey place of refuge. Religious fervor and corruption left scars on most of the children who grew up there.

A key location for this episode is the Devil's Bridge, a stunningly evocative and dangerous ravine with a legend. The nearby hotel, once Miss Jenkins childrens' home, is also...atmospheric. And then there's the framed prints of a painting known as Salem that kept cropping up. This paining depicts an older woman in traditional Welsh dress as she moves through a church. Secreted away within the folds of her shawl is the face of the Devil! Try as we could we had problems seeing it. When we both decided what it was that made up the Devil's face I was somewhat disappointed it wasn't more...devil like. I was not, however, disappointed in the story.

Aberystwyth promenade, Dec 2006 - by me
"The key to Hinterland is the landscape: beautiful, forbidding and secretive, it becomes a character in its own right. "The sense of place is crucial," says Talfan. "It feels like a part of the UK that is untapped and undiscovered." Thomas adds: "It's a part of Wales that had not been photographed, a sort of last place somewhere in the northern part of Europe that people don't know much about – a hinterland rich in history and myth." Source

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

We'll be Watching You - Yeah? Well don't!

This is how I imagine a 'trip' at Burning Man -

Monday, 27 January 2014

True Detective - Brilliantly Dark

HBO's True Detective is by far the best thing I've seen premiere on tv this season in years. McConaughey is riveting and Harrelson a great foil. There is some very, very dark content here but you find yourself falling under the story's spell like sinking into a Louisiana bayou. I hope they can keep up the pace.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

More on Young Ghouls by Jeff Barnaby

"Jian speaks with Mi'kmaq director Jeff Barnaby about his first feature film, Rhymes for Young Ghouls -- an unflinching, irreverent revenge fantasy involving residential schools. 

The filmmaker says he's interested in 'bare-knuckled' cinema, and would rather indulge in hyperbole than engage in "pity porn". The first audience he has in mind are aboriginal youth and other young people who are building up their identities, he tells Jian, adding that he was careful not to vilify or pity his characters." (Source)

Friday, 24 January 2014

And speaking of Miss Peregrine...

...the author, Ransom Riggs, has released Hollow City. This is to be the follow up to his Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Riggs is now on a book signing tour. And Doha's not on the list of places he'll be. Imagine that.

Oh, if only I could fly like the peculiar child I used to be (well, in dreams I did).

Hollow City Book Signing Tour

A is for Astral Projection

Astral Projection - Rebecca Chaperon
This is my favourite image from Eerie Dearies by Rebecca Chaperon. Instantly reminded me of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

The images in Eerie Dearies (and from Great Black Fire) are very compelling. All of them suggest a fantastic world of mystery populated by hapless girls and plucky heroines.

Reminds me Edward Gorey too, of course. But it's Edward Gorey mixed in with a bit of Tim Burton who then went to visit Alice in Wonderland via the Surrealists. Love it!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Digging for Treasure on Oak Island...again

Yeah, it's true. I am one of the many people who got hooked on unsolved mysteries when I was a kid. It started when I began reading every copy of Ripley's Believe it or Not I could get my grubby paws on. And I do believe it was in one of those books that I first read about the Money Pit on Oak Island, Nova Scotia.

Over the years I'd check in on the latest news but I think I gave up on the Money Pit mystery as unsolvable about 10 years ago. Flooded with sea water I doubted anybody would ever be able to safely get into those shafts again. But recently, while watching Richard Hammond and the Holy Grail I was reminded of Oak Island through its link to that legend. And that got me wondering if there was anything new regarding this unsolved mystery. And there was.

The Curse of Oak Island is a recent reality tv series focusing on the efforts by two brothers, Rick and Marty Lagina, who want to solve the mystery of Oak Island once and for all (so they say). I'm not usually one for reality tv but I am interested in this one. Even if some of the dramatic tension is obviously contrived; the mysterious loss of an hour of underwater digital recording in the 10x shaft is attributed to the Oak Island curse. Right. Or that the curse demands the deaths of 7 people before the secret will be revealed and the number currently stands at six. Hmmm....

But in my recent googling I also came across other theories about the Money Pit. The most intriguing, simply because it is so completely outside the box of the usual secret society and pirates, has been put forward by Sukhwant Singh. He believes it "is a vertically stranded Viking Ship of type Skeid, stranded there on Oak Island for the last 1000 years." (Source) This theory does not take into account everything but, like all good mysteries, the fun is in the search for answers. Finding definitive proof and excavating the hell out of the site would only spoil that fun.

Interesting to note too is that the Lagina Brothers now own a controlling interest in the island under the name Oak Island Tours Inc. (Source) But, skepticism aside, I'll definitely keep watching.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Alive: In the Face of Death

Death is not an easy topic. But it does seem that we are talking about it a lot more than we used to. Not just talk tho. There are lots of people out there examining and exploring all things related to this once taboo topic. Not only are we talking more about the dead and death but also about about dying itself. And I'm not just referring to the physical breakdown of a body here but also the mental, emotional, and sometimes, spiritual journey that will come to all of us. Dying is just the first step down the path towards one of the greatest mysteries out there.

"Featuring more than 70 images, in 'Alive: In The Face of Death', photographer Rankin sets out to explore and challenge our perceptions of death. Through his lens, the stories of those touched by death are revealed. They include people living with a terminal illness, those who have faced death and survived, and those who work within the death industry." - Liverpool Museum

Read more of what Rankin has to say here.

Alive: Rankin Faces Death from Jack Cocker on Vimeo.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Rhymes for Young Ghouls

This isn't really a horror movie although it does contain horrific truths about Canada's history with native aboriginal groups ie) the residential school system. Read more about this film here. Watch more here and here.

"The Art of Forgetfulness..." - Source

Guided by the spirits of her departed mother and brother, a Native teenager plots revenge against a sadistic agent [in] this fiercely irreverent debut feature from Canadian director Jeff Barnaby.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Halloween in Minneapolis 2012

Lately, I've been trying out this site ISSUU to browse various magazines (you can also use it to publish your own zine apparently). Today I came across this 2012 Halloween issue of MPLSZINE "a submissions-based collaborative digital publication, is the latest project powered by the forces of MPLS Collective, a cornerstone for creative projects in Minneapolis."

Some pretty neat-o graphics! AND the BareBones puppet show sounds like a fantastic event!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Sam Lee and Gypsy Lore

So, I have a thing for folk music. You may or may not know that. Started years ago with my introduction to the 1960s British rock/folk group Pentangle. I won't bore you with all the details of this interest except to say that I've discovered some new and amazing artists in the last year. It started with a documentary I saw about folk dancing traditions in Britain. I was completely mesmerized by the two hosts; the performing sisters known as The Unthanks (somewhat related post here). I was so impressed with their music that I immediately bought several albums. One of these was actually a compilation (Oak, Ash, Thorn) featuring other British folk artists; one of whom was Sam Lee. It was the haunting quality of his Puck's Song that led me to learn more about him.

His work blends ancient, in the form of traditional Romany and traveller songs, with contemporary ‘mongrelised’ sounds such as percussion instruments made from gas cylinders. He is passionate about folk music - its history, its relevance, and its future - and is a founder of the award-winning The Nest Collective which promotes folk events and music. Ground Of Its Own was made with some of the studio legends who worked with Nick Drake, and has received glowing reviews from Uncut, BBC Music and The Guardian, which called it ‘impressively brave and original.’ 
(Sam Lee at

He's recently released his first album, A Ground of its Own, from which, I do believe, this is an 'official' video. Read more about Sam Lee here.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

"In Search of..." - Climate Change c. 1970s

As a youngster I was hooked on "In Search of..." and later Arthur C Clarke's Mysterious World. Just hearing the shows introductions had me running towards the television.

Well, given the very chilly weather we've been having here in the Gulf here's an interesting look back at an episode in which the "coming ice age" is investigated. Obviously, we've been aware of climate change for a while now...even if we still don't quite understand the whys and wherefors.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

To all those bloggers who are moving on...

Red and gold, and halloween have passed us by,
The charcoal branches lean against the rosy sky,
You are so far away, yet I could touch you if I may,
But don't you worry now, I'm only dreaming anyway.

You may be lonely, you may be just on your own.
You could be anywhere, someplace that I have known.
But who am I and do we really live these days at all?
And are they simply feelings we have loved and do recall?

Oh the sea has made me cry,
But I love her, too, so maybe I love you.

For tears are only made of salt and water,
And across the waves the sound of laughter.
October it has gone and left me with a song
That I will sing to you although the moment may be wrong.

Could it be the sea's as real as you and i?
I often wonder why I always have to say
I'm only dreaming anyway.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Everybody loves a good pirate story...

Mary Read shish kabobs her 'antongonist'
Ok, this one is about smugglers along the coast of Dorset but I do believe Blackbeard is mentioned.

Since I was a little kid I've loved a good pirate story. And when I was older and discovered -- through a fascinating book about cross dressing women who yearned to do battle -- that some of these pirates were women! Well now, that was something worth learning. I was fascinated - thrilled even. Missed my calling.

"The earliest recorded female smugglers were Anne Bonney and Mary Read who eventually graduated from trading in counterfeit goods to full-blown piracy. Bonney, who was born to a poor Irish family in Cork in 1702, became particularly notorious - largely as a result of her relationship with fellow pirate and smuggler, Jack 'Calico Jack' Rackham." (The truth about Britain's FEMALE smugglers...)

Anywho, here's the point. Airing over Christmas, on SKY1, was a tale called Moonfleet. Unfortunately, it DOES NOT feature any women pirates :(

"Moonfleet...brings the fun factor to our screens, it’s certainly not intended to be a serious drama. Based on a J Meade Faulkner novel, it is the story of John Trenchard..., who embarks on an adventure with a group of smugglers led by...Elzevir Block. Together, they hunt for a fabled lost diamond all the while trying to outwit an anti-smuggling magistrate, Mohune, a man who killed Block’s son...With characters like these, this adapted children’s novel is certainly one that young would love to watch. The drama encompasses all the fantasies of every youngster dressed up in their favourite Long John Silver costume." (Moonfleet - Geezers and gaffers galore). 

Thursday, 9 January 2014

A Very British Murder

Now, most of my interest in murder mysteries is fictional...or historical. Sure, I do admit to finding forensic science fascinating but I was never one for the non-fictional accounts of serial killers (my husband is reading Hunting Humans...hmmm). Or for following accounts of murders in the newspapers. If you're not one yourself I'm sure you know someone who is. Well, here's some historical background on that fascination with "murder most foul."  

Monday, 6 January 2014

"My turn to Google..." - Whither The Last Witch?

I realized recently that I've done several posts about upcoming and interesting tv shows /movies but not many reviews or follow-ups. In some cases it's because I wasn't able to watch the show, in other cases...I guess I just like teasers. And cliff hangers.

Speaking of cliff hangers remember my post about The Last Witch? Well, I did manage to see that one. And it was really promising! From the creepy credits and disjointed barely seen montage flashbacks to the well written (Sally Wainwright) and engaging characters there was lots to like. Only one problem. There's only the one episode...and it ends on a huge cliffhanger!

The story is essentially about a rivalry between two sisters. There are hints throughout the show that the bad feelings between the two have something to do with a man...who may have been hanged in the woods. These two sisters, Anne (Katherine Kelly) and Jane Lister, of Shibden Hall, were born in the 15th C but through the magic of witchcraft they've met up again in our time.

Both sisters are, of course, witches. Anne has been cursed by the more powerful Jane to walk the Earth forever murdering any man she falls in love with. Jane manages her return to the living when her bones are disturbed during some local spelunking down an old mine.

The man unlucky enough to touch those bones ends up being the first to host Jane's spirit. From him she transits through to a crow, a dog, and then to the charming elderly lady, Matilda, who Anne has found sanctuary with. However, Jane's final destination ends up being the body of Kate Greenwood (Maimie McCoy), a young but comatose, Mom, wife and journalist. One look at her resurrected mother though and Kate's little girl knows "That's not my mummy." And with that the stage is set for the sisters' confrontation...and the episode ends.

There was loads of atmosphere and quirky ideas here that made me anxious to see more. I loved how Anne's magic entailed writing spells on her wrist and then pressing these spells to the skin of those she means to bewitch. And how Jane, while inhabiting Matilda (Anne Reid), discovers the 21st C magic of computers and Google.

Sure there were some plot holes and discrepancies -- like why is Jane's speech so contemporary instead of like Shakespeare or Chaucer? -- or why she sometimes needs a stolen dagger to move from body to body and sometimes not --  but there's just so much potential here that it doesn't matter.

The Last Witch is thoroughly gripping stuff, with outstanding performances from all involved. Particularly enjoyable is the interplay between an achingly vulnerable Kelly and Reid at her most sinister and magisterial, which is pure heaven to watch. (- It's on the telly, Stupid).

And, get this, Shibden Hall is a real place with it's own strange history! This I discovered when I did my own googling. But my googling also uncovered that, according to the Radiotimes, this was a one off - part of something called Drama Matters.

Are you kidding me? NO! Can't be true!

So I waited. And today, despite more furious googling, I have yet to discover whether there will be any more episodes of The Last Witch.

And so, here again, I've left you dangling from a cliff. Only this time, I'm right there with you.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

2014 is here

Happy New Year...!