Tuesday, 30 September 2014

#1 - Damn these Vampires!

Yep, this is #1 on my Halloween playlist and so apropos considering my last post.

This is gonna be a weekly feature this coming month. You probably won't find much you haven't heard before but these little ditties have become de 'rigor' (as in 'rigor mortis' - get it?) in my house this time of year.

I'm not even sure how I came across this tune but it bit deep AND introduced me to The Mountain Goats

Monday, 29 September 2014

With a wedding, and a stake through the heart, it ends...

Emre Unayli
Remember when I last posted about True Blood? About how it was feeling a little tired? Well, a whole lot of water has passed under the bridge since then! I have to admit I got increasingly frustrated with the show. Too many characters and too many plot lines found myself not giving a rat's ass about who was a vampire, werewolf, were-panther, shape shifter, fairy, medium, witch, warlock, Sheriff, cook, or thief! I even stopped caring who Sookie would end up with--Bill, Sam, Eric, some fairy guy (can't even remember his name!) or Alcide?!

And then there were the endless threats coming down the highway to Bon Temps. Sure the town started it off with their own cajun serial killer (Drew Marshall) but then came the anti-Vampire Christian zealots (Fellowship of the Sun), a mad maenad, a mad vampire King (oh, Denis O'Hare WAS good!), a coven of witches, the Vampire Authority, a murderous vampire/fairy, a murderous Vampire Goddess/God, the Yakuza, and finally, the HEP-V virus. Who could keep track! I did manage to choke my way through Season 6 but some time during episode 2 of Season 7, well, I just gave up.

But then I started thinking about it. I mean I loved this show when it first started. I loved small town Bon Temps, Sookie's gran, tough Tara and never-any-bullsh#@ Lafayette--all part of Sookie's extended family. And yes, I even liked Vampire Bill. And remember Lafayette's boyfriend, Jesus Velasquez (Kevin Alejandro)? And Eric's maker, Godric (Allan Hyde)? Sigh. And didn't I stick it out through even the deranged and, at times, seemingly directionless plot lines peopled by a cast of millions (including some very impressive talent, by the way). So shouldn't I see how it all ends?

(Spoiler alert - if you haven't seen the ending stop reading now....)

And so I did. Yesterday I binge watched the last 4 episodes. And I'm glad I did. Oh, I know a lot of people weren't happy with it but I was. I felt it got back to its southern small town roots and the promise of Season 1. It also resolved most of the plot lines and gave us closure. 

Now, I was not particularly convinced when it came to Tara's ghost story. I mean it seemed to take a lot of effort (and vampire blood tastings) for her Mother and Lafayette to communicate with her when, in the end, all she wanted to do was show them where she buried a gun. Of course, I know it was more than that. It was about Tara forgiving her mother and getting her Mother to forgive herself. And I can live with that. 

I liked that Hoyt came back and married Jessica. I liked that the judgmental Arlene ends up running the diner AND finding herself a new lover even if he is a vampire she can't have sex with cause she's HEP-V positive (...uh, say what now?). Lafayette seems happy with his new love even if their story got shoved into the background. Sam's story also didn't get much screen time; after being given an ultimatum by his pregnant partner (her or Bon Temps) he finally decides to leave with her. And Andy Bellefleur? Well! His character's progession from chubby, mean grumpy deputy to fitter, responsible, and generally good Sheriff was one of the best in the show. Andy is now a contented family man with his one remaining fairy daughter (bad Jessica!), his wiccan/waitress fiancée and her two sons. Most surprising perhaps was Jason's flip from womanizer (remember Amy?) to husband and father. 

Then there's Pam and Eric. Well, for me, that particular ending rang a little hollow. King & Queen of the global NEW-Blood franchise but still keeping it real at Fangtasia? Well, I guess not everybody has to grow. And, I admit it, the two of them often seemed at their best when kicking ass and dominating all those around. 

But how does it end for Sookie and Bill? (Oh, yeah, apparently Alcide died somewhere between Episode 2 and Episode 7...!?) Well, it ends in a LOT of tears (yes, some of them were mine) and a big puddle of goo as Sookie helps Bill slide a stake into his own heart.

Some viewers didn't buy into Bill's reasons for 'suicide,' but I did. In the flashback to his human life we almost never see Bill Compton being anything less than a balanced, charming, respectful, and happily married gentleman. His life immediately following his vampire turning was full of regret and despondence over not being able to reunite with his family. And as the years pass and he becomes more vampiric, he loses something he obviously prized, his humanity.

Bill never seemed to embrace being a vampire the way some others did. Sure there was that time Bill became a nasty Vampire God BUT he did redeem himself. Remember how he sacrifices his godhood with an emergency group feeding of vampire friends and family? So, in his final days of suffering from an accelerated form of HEP-V (thanks, Sookie) it's not surprising when he refuses the cure. He believes his death will return to him his lost humanity. 

Oh yeah, it will also free Sookie (and Bill) from their endless back and forth. Once he's gone she can go on and meet someone to love, have babies and barbeques with--the 'normal' life she always wanted (even if she is still a telepathic fairy). Ok, it sounds hokey but it made sense to me!

I was glad to see Rutger Hauer back as Sookie's fairy grandfather even if briefly (he tries to show Sookie why Bill maybe should die). Although never a fan of the whole fairy story line I thought Mr Hauer was fantastic. It was just too bad we didn't see more of him.

HBO Poster
Was even happier to see Sookie's gran back (Lois Smith), even if through a flashback. For me the show was best when it explored the movements of radical change (vampires are a real and persecuted minority?!) through the lens of a small Southern town. Sookie's grandmother was a big part of that for me. As was William Sanderson as Sheriff Bud Dearborne (remember him?).

Either way it's all over now. And like the flash forwarded pregnant, happy Sookie presiding over a big Thanksgiving dinner surrounded by reunited family and friends--except for Pam & Eric who are, presumably, busy at Fangtasia--I can now move on.

It does feel like the end of an era. (Although not necessarily the 'true end' as rumours of a movie persist.) Will I miss True Blood? Maybe. Maybe not.

But I will surely miss Bon Temps.

And Gran's pecan pie...

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Claims there're ghosts...

Photo by me (poem not by me)

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Friday, 26 September 2014

A Haunting we will go...

Ah, yes. Borley Rectory. When I used to read every book I could get my hands on, related to ghosts, the story of this place was one of my favourites. In part it was because:

a) it was in the UK, which was ghost central in my mind and,
b) the photos were always quite fascinating.

Who can forget the shot of the brick in mid air? (I was young and a more fervent believer than I am now.)

Borley Rectory Trailer 2014 from Ashley Thorpe on Vimeo.

For more old photos click here
To listen to an old radio documentary click here.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

I think that I shall never see...

...a thing as spooky as this tree!!

All those skeletal limbs comin' at me...!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Shadow over Howards

Some of you have heard about the kerfuffle over H.P. Lovecraft's likeness used as the World Fantasy award (referred to as 'Howards'). The man was known for his almost pathological racism --seeing almost everyone as horrifying 'other' -- and so some writers are now calling for a redesign.

I don't blame them. The first time I heard the name of the pet cat in The Rats in the Walls, well, I was... uncomfortable; which, admittedly, is what makes his fiction so affecting. But also, I'm not sure I'd want the award in my house.

As a piece of modernist sculpture I like it BUT it does look a bit like Lovecraft woke up one morning, glanced in a mirror and saw “a bastard mess of stewing Mongrel flesh without intellect, repellent to the eye, nose and imagination.”

ADDENDUM: Oct 2, 2014 

And now for your listening pleasure...

Saturday, 20 September 2014

"Dark, just nicer..."

...that's the tag line for this 2007 ad for Galaxy chocolate which I found while thumbing through some old magazines.

"Without a trace of bitterness, a smooth dark chocolate that can't help being nice." 

Nice? Hmmm, I'd say 'dark' is the theme here. You might recognize the Galaxy brand name as the same chocolate I posted about in The After lives of the Dead.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Atomic Nightmare

The early 80s was a period when everyone thought the USSR and the USA were going to start lobbing nuclear missiles at one another. (Want to read about frightening nuclear happenings during the Cold War? Check out this and the article about it on Gizmodo.) One fall evening, in 1983, me and my roommates sat around our tiny living room and watched The Day After. It's a tv movie that explores what would likely happen should the aforementioned nuclear missile lobbing actually happen.

No. fun. there.

So, it's not surprising that not long afterwards I had a nuclear related nightmare. In this nightmare I was with a lot of other people huddled in some underground shelter. We were organizing supplies, food, bedding, etc. All of a sudden a glowing blue man appeared in our midst. Everyone within a few feet of him would start to blister and scream before disintegrating into a pile of ash. Needless to say panic ensues and everyone starts running away from the blue glowing 'Atomic man.' I woke up just as he rounded the corner of the dead end I suddenly found myself in (you know how dreams can be). I woke up in a state of anxiety and fear I don't think I've ever really experienced before or since. I actually had to wake up one of my roommates (who was none too happy, I might add) and ask him to sit with me till I calmed down (he promptly fell back asleep). Some nightmares stay with you and this one stayed with me for a looooong time.

Years later, I found myself in a theatre watching some movie called The Watchmen (I knew nothing about it other than it was based on a comic...sorry, graphic novel). Well, didn't I get a surprise when Dr. Manhattan makes his appearance. He looked exactly like my Atomic Man!

You may find yourself asking why I'm posting about this...other than the obvious nightmare & Halloween connection. Well, we were recently watching Episode 6, Acceptable Limits, of the tv series Manhattan. In the episode (spoiler alert) one of the scientists working on the Manhattan Project accidentally inhales / ingests some plutonium. Not good. This reminded me of an article my husband had sent my way - The Tragic Tale of Atomic Man: Life as a Radioactive Human. And so, as hubby and I were discussing it all, I told him about my Atomic Man nightmare (hey, there's an idea for a post...).

Next August will be the 70th anniversary of the 1st atomic bombs dropped on inhabited cities (July 6 on Hiroshima and July 9 on Nagasaki). Close to 300,000 people are estimated to have died in those two detonations. Let's hope that was a nightmare no one ever has to experience again.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Are you a pumpkin?

My favorite word is 'pumpkin.' 
You are a pumpkin. Or you are not.
 I am.
- Harrison E. Salisbury

Pumpkins on balcony (2010) with Photoshop oil paint filter

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Stonehenge! Where the demons dwell...

...Where the banshees live and they do live well
Stonehenge! Where a man's a man
And the children dance to the Pipes of Pan

Ok, you probably have heard all the news re: Stonehenge. Big discoveries made over the last four years during an extensive survey using high resolution radar, magnetic and laser scans. All in all it's beginning to look as if Stonehenge wasn't some isolated, rarely visited place on Solsbury Plain.

When I visited back in 2010, I remember being quite surprised by just how alone it is in the landscape out there. It's bracketed by a couple of highways but other than that there's nothing around but sheep. Which didn't really make much sense to me. A couple of years later and my husband and I ended up watching this great series, A History of Ancient Britain. In one of the episodes, Age of Cosmology, the presenter, Neil Oliver, explains an interesting theory. What if all those ancient stone circles were connected? Through common ritual? What if similar things were going on in all these places but with Stonehenge being the epicenter of what might be a very complex belief system. The episode was fascinating!

Stonehenge, April 2010
So, I'm pretty excited about it all. And I will definitely find a way to tune in to the upcoming October episode of The Nature of Things where David Suzuki will be explaining all.

But, I also have to admit that it's the mention of buried grave goods, including gold, that's got me really excited! Come on, gravegoods from the Neolithic period? That is gonna be some interesting stuff!

You can read more about it here and here and here and here and here.

Oh, and some funny stuff from Mr. Izzard...

Friday, 12 September 2014

Mummy anyone?

Source: Vintage Photos
Speaking of mummification...

I first learned about mummy brown while reading a book about, well, mummies, of course. (Sorry, can't remember book's title and it's now in storage far, far away.)

I learnt a lot of interesting things from this book like there's a parasite that actually shuts down your colon/intestines leading to a horrible death. And that there used to be quite the trade in Egyptian mummies. After the poor things were dug up they were ground up and put into medicinal remedies, ack! They were also ground up and used to make a paint pigment!

Ack and ick!

It was called, of course, 'mummy brown' and was used for several hundred years. So if you've ever found yourself wondering why there aren't more Egyptian mummies around well, those would be the reasons.

Makes you look a little more closely at some of those paintings in the Louvre tho.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Ghost ship of Franklin Expedition

So, they've located one of the ships from the Franklin Expedition! That's pretty exciting. It's one of those stories that, as a Canadian, you learn about in school. Franklin was trying to find a Northwest Passage through the Arctic and in 1845 he led two ships, manned by 129 men, out of port and was never seen again.

John Torrington - Source
Over the years bits and pieces of the story came together. Inuits told stories of an ice bound ship and men travelling over frozen water. Life boats were found full of canned goods and other items. There were whispers of cannabalism. Then the mummified, frozen remains of three crewmen were found and in the process of exhuming and examining these remains an interesting detail came to light - the amount of lead in the bodies. This detail led credence to a theory that the men had been suffering from lead poisoning from the canned food. Lead poisoning would have affected their brains and so their reasoning. The ability to decide on how best to survive their grim situation was most likely compromised. Read more here and here.

There is a political slant to this discovery tho. Our Prime Minister put a lot of our country's resources into finding these ships. He, and others, think it will solidify Canada's case for sovereignty over an area now under dispute with several countries. Not many cared when it was all just arctic ice but now that a lot of it has melted and ships can pass through the area more easily, well, it seems it's become prime real estate, especially when it comes to searching for oil (watch Emma Thompson in the Arctic with Greenpeace).

This is our climate changing future.

Monday, 8 September 2014

There U R - Lisa Knapp

I love this woman's voice. This tune makes me want to dance madly round a moonlit glade!

There You Are from Matt Jamie on Vimeo.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Conspiracy abounds in 'Utopia'...

...and so too does the violence. In fact episode #3 in Series 1 of this BBC production caused quite a bit of controversy back in January of 2013. Admittedly, it was that very same episode that made me wonder if I had the stomach for this fast paced, stylish, well acted, intriguing but disturbing story. It turned out I did.

And then, after going on and on about it to my husband last year (..."it's kinda violent but the story is really good and really makes you think...") he turned to me one recent evening and said, "I read about this interesting new series called Utopia."

Really. Ain't it Cool News or Gizmodo, or whatever site he came across it, holds more sway with him than me...? Hmph.

However, I found myself watching it all over again. This time with him and, admittedly, with my head turned away at times, but at least we're now BOTH ready for Series 2. And watching it together means there's someone who can tell me when it's safe to turn back to the screen -- should the need arise.


Given the panic that ensues each time another virus rears its ugly head to threaten our species and make us all wonder if this is it -- the next pandemic -- well, it's easy to see the genesis of stories like Utopia.

Witch Fingers? No, these are grapes!

These are crazy grapes! Yum!


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Turkish 'Delight' these are not! Eek!

There are no English subtitles for this new trailer for Turkish horror flick, Siccin, but I think you'll get the gist. Scary things happen!

Below is the trailer for director, Alper Mestçi's, previous film, Musallat. And this one has just enough English subtitles to get your imagination off and running!


Monday, 1 September 2014

The Mystical Magic of Kate Bush

I'm a long time fan. There was a time in my life when listening to Kate Bush was the closest I could get to any 'magic' in my life. And like many young women who liked to sing I spent a lot of time trying to match her vocal flexibility but who could, really?

Watched this documentary about her last night with some interesting people commenting on her. Obviously, they spoke to Peter Gabriel, and I wasn't surprised to see Natasha Khan (Bat for Lashes) or Tori Amos or Neil Gaiman, and I shouldn't have been surprised to see Annie Clark of St. Vincent. But there were others I didn't recognize or really know (Elbow?). I also liked the idea of handing the interviewees a phone that was playing one of her videos...it was neat to see people watching and singing along. And, I didn't know this, but David Gilmour was instrumental in getting a young Kate her first record deal.

After watching I, of course, did some googling and discovered she has a new stage show!! It's called Before the Dawn and I now find myself looking through ticket master to see if, by some bit of magic, there's a ticket available despite being "sold out." Of course, then there's the problem of getting to London...hmmm, maybe it's time to dust off the old broom.