Thursday, 26 February 2015

Sam Lee and The Blackbird

I've mentioned Sam Lee here before. He is a man after my own heart in many respects but mostly for his encounters and relationships amongst the disappearing gypsy traveller folk in the UK.

Sam Lee and Friends have a new album, Fade in Time, coming out next month. If you're keen you can donate to its pledge campaign here. Sam is also a wilderness survival expert. Among the various pledge packages he offers a personal guided walk through the woods to sing with Nightingales or/and a day of foraging.

And again I find myself wishing I lived in the UK.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Neil Gaiman's latest

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Mystery Feature #2 - The Money Pit

This month's feature is the Mystery of the Money Pit more recently referred to as The Curse of Oak Island as on the History Channel.

I'm not sure where I first came across the Money Pit story myself but it was
as an imaginative kid in the late 60s / early 70s. Probably read it in a Ripley's Believe it or Not maybe or Reader's Digest. I could swear I read that article one summer afternoon up at camp -- the same article that ignited the spark of discovery in the current Oak Island treasure seekers, Rick and Marty Lagina.

The treasure hunt is supposed to have begun back in 1795 when some curious youths were exploring the east end of Oak Island along the coast of Nova Scotia (yay, Canada!). They came across a block and tackle hanging from a tree directly over a large circular depression in the ground. What would you do?

Well, they started to dig. They found a small surface of laid flagstones and, deeper down, a shaft and various log platforms. At 25 feet down (equivalent to a two story building!) they decided to sit and have a think about this. They then searched for and found some 'investors' and again started to  dig. Strange and intriguing things were found but efforts at further discovery were frustrated by the pit suddenly flooding (a booby trap).

The story just gets more complicated from there. Suffice to say we have 200 years of effort, money spent, six dead men, a few more small and intriguing discoveries and quite a few spectacular theories about what the pit is hiding -- cause that kind of effort is exerted only to hide something, right? Like:

- pirate treasure
- Shakespeare's lost folio
- holy grail / arc of the covenant
- read more theories here

"Seriously!?" Yes, seriously. (If you're a skeptic watch this.)

Ok, I admit it. I've been watching The Curse of Oak Island because I am intrigued -- even if this particular series seems to dole it out in dribs and drabs -- it's a hard one to resist. And I do think that if anyone is going to solve this it may well be Rick and Marty Lagina. They seem to have the right balance of drive, skepticism, know-how, and financial resources to put this baby to bed (so to speak). But should we? Once a final 'discovery' is made --- and personally I think there will be very little --- it's one less mystery for us to ponder and weave spectacular theories about.

I do understand that strong human drive to just simply KNOW something -- I mean I've spent hours digging in the dirt (archeology people, nothing weird)! And I understand, sympathize and respect Rick Lagina's expressed hope that it brings to a conclusion the life's work of 92 year old Dan Blankenship and his son, Dave. But do we really want to solve this one?

I suppose if it keeps other people from spending their lives and fortunes looking...although, I can imagine far worse ways to spend a life.

But losing a life. Well, that's different.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

I am a hotel...RIP Toller

Adrift Somewhere by Toller Cranston
Ok, so you read my somewhat cynical post about Valentine's but I have to admit I was once an incredibly romantic and imaginative young thing. The recent death of Toller Cranston made me remember that. Who? Well, Toller Cranston was THE figure skater back in the 1970s. As far as I was concerned.

As a girl, watching him compete/perform on tv, well, he was just so, oh!! I'd never seen anyone express themselves in a way that spoke to all the ideas my little self had about romance back then. He was the incarnation of what my Arthur-and-his-Knights obsessed self thought a romantic troubadour would have been.

So, after reading several obits about Mr. Cranston recently and watching old footage of his competitive skating years I remembered something else. I remembered seeing him in an imaginative short film that featured Leonard Cohen's music and some amazing Canadian dance talent. Lo and behold I found it, I am a Hotel. It was made for CBC tv back in 1983 and completely blew me away the first time I saw it.

As today is Valentine's I think it's a good choice. Yeah, it's true there are no ghosts here but it just might scare up a few as you watch these stories illustrate the more adult and complicated emotional state we call love.

Oh yeah, and that other closely related and often confusing state of being...desire.

Toller Cranston, by the way, is the hotel manager and husband to the Gypsy Wife.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Oh, Mr. Whiskers, you didn't!

This was directed by Marjane Satrapi!!!


Satrapi did a graphic novel series, Persepolis, that I fell madly in love with several years ago. I will have to keep an eye out for this for sure!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Anti-Valentine's or Single Awareness Day

From the early days of elementary school to middle-aged complacency Valentine's has just never been a thing for me. Remember back in elementary school when you all punched out those little cards, addressed them to your class mates, then placed them in the empty box at the front of the class? The teacher would then go through them calling out your name to come pick yours up...and the counting would begin. It was my first lesson in what 'popularity,' and not so popular, meant. (Who does that to seven year olds?)

Later, as a young adult, there were other dilemmas. Like where to go eat in order to avoid any of that romance stuff (fast food works best) OR how to navigate the emotional roller coaster of the end of your first serious relationship OR respond to the dozen roses the guy you met overseas last summer just had delivered to you (a beautiful, romantic gesture but what did it mean!?).

Sure, my husband and I have done the fancy dinner and date thing but honestly in Canada the middle of February does NOT entice one outside. The cozy nest of blankets on the couch near the radiator and tv has far more appeal. And here in the desert, well, dinner out can be quite costly. Especially if you want a glass of wine with your meal. And, well, as you may have guessed I've just never done 'romance' very well.

So if you've had it with the traditional Valentine's Day but, for some reason, are still looking for ways to, ah, celebrate well, here are a few ideas.

Still feeling the sting of a failed relationship? The San Francisco Zoo is offering you the chance to adopt a hairy scorpion or hissing cockroach in your ex's honour.

20 Anti-Valentine’s Day Quotes For Singles

Or what about a little Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre (on February 13 - how apropos). If you can't make that, well you can host your own. And you could make it extra fun for the other guests by constantly checking your phone for the messages sent by your fake new beau---courtesy Invisible Boyfriend app. (I guess there really is an app for everything.)

Me? Well, there will be no cards or chocolates. No special dinner. It will be a day and night just like most others.

And that, my dears, is the real anti-Valentines.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

More Winter Horror

Praying for Mercy by me
Well, winter back on Canada's East coast seems like the usual horror.

Yeah, Canadian winters are hard. And coping with them seems to get harder as you age. The year we were back home made us remember many things about winter and snow. There was lots of snow but still...

Not as bad as the Winter of 2000-01 when the city had over 21 feet of snow. I kid you not. There was a blizzard a week for 7 weeks in a row. We didn't have a car then so we had to walk everywhere.

The climate on the Avalon Peninsula usually means winters are a series of freezes and thaws. So, even when we get a big snowfall some of it will melt away when it inevitably rains. But that winter it stayed cold and the snow kept accumulating. And because snow removal in St. John's is notoriously bad things got ridiculous.

Just across the street from where we lived was a narrow lane way connecting our street with the parking lot for the city's large Basilica. There was a rather high fence on either side of it--at least 7 if not 8 feet. When the snow pile was at its worst the top of that fence was level with my knees. Seriously. Really. I am not kidding.

And this is where we're planning on returning to? [shudder]

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The Night Mare

Love that cover art
I hadn't been in Newfoundland long before I heard someone mention the "old hag." Wha? "You know, that creepy ghost/witch/thing that comes in the night to paralyze and suffocate you?" Oh, right.

And then in one of my Folklore classes we were assigned David Hufford's, The Terror that Comes in the Night. All of a sudden the old hag had what I thought was a fascinating scientific explanation...sleep paralysis! And a new word, hypnagogic, entered my vocabulary (well, for a while anyway...can't say I've used it much lately).

Now, personally, I've only had this kind of experience once or twice in my life. I've never seen anything or felt like I couldn't breath but I have experienced the extreme dread, the auditory phenomena and the paralysis. I also thought, just like many others, that I could break the paralysis if I could just get my little finger to move! Which did seem to work for me.

If you want to know more well, you can read Hufford's book (or this review). You can read more at the Sleep Paralysis Project OR you could try and catch the 2008 documentary below (was available on Amazon last year?).

OR you could try and catch this NEW documentary by Rodney Ascher called, of course, The Nightmare that was recently at Sundance.
Read more at io9.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Maiden - Jordan Reyne

The finale in Jordan Reyne's Maiden, Mother, Crone trilogy is available for preorders...

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Suburban Gothic

Some interesting stuff coming out now or soon. This one, Suburban Gothic looks just like the mix of horror and smart ass comedy that I like. And the cast ain't too shabby neither!