The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire

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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! from The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire. Verse One Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne? Chorus For auld lang syne, my dear For auld Lang syne, We'll tak a cup o kindness yet, For auld lang syne! Verse Two And there's a hand my trusty fiere, And gie's a hand o thine And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught, For auld lang syne Chorus For auld lang syne, my dear For auld Lang syne, We'll tak a cup o kindness yet, For auld lang syne!

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Friday, December 30, 2005

Podcast: C&L Interviews Joe Dante

25 minutes-worth of John Amato from Crooks & Liars talkin' with Joe Dante, here. MP3 format, with some of John's questions to Joe edited out in the interest of space...

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CSI: Kindergarten

So, what with this being winter break and all, we signed The Boy up for 2 weeks of science camp at the Pacific Science Center. Each week has been loosely organized around a single theme, and the second week's been mostly about light and sound. They're covering some basics about optics and acoustics, and part of what the camp does during the day is to go on mini-field trips to the part of the science center that most closely relates to whatever the topic of the day is. This week, they've been drawing largely upon the Whodunit exhibit:

Visitors walk into a robbery scene at the Memory Diner. When the police respond, the short-order cook is the only witness. How reliable is he? Are the crimes related? Did the suspect leave clues at the diner? Visitors gather evidence at the scene and visit hands-on stations to solve the crime. Stations throughout the exhibit have activities geared for all ages of visitors.
One of the stations within this exhibit is a virtual autopsy: an abstract, stark white mannequin lies on a table, while a video of a post-mortem being performed on a murder victim (small caliber gunshot wound to the chest) is projected upon its chest. It looks pretty cool, but the last time I was at the Science Center with The Boy, it was getting late, he was getting overtired, and I wasn't sure how he'd deal with the autopsy (I was pretty sure he'd be okay with it, but you never know) so I heeded the "Not recommended for small children" sign and gently steered him on to other things. So yesterday, I'm picking him up after camp, and as we're driving away, he says "Dad, I don't know why you didn't let me see the body being cut open - it was really cool." Well, scratch that parenting effort... "Oh? Did your teachers take you into it?" "No. But the older kids went in there, and I'm sure they had permission." Hmmm. I'm not, but, hey... okay. As a result of his self-selected learning experience, on the ride home we discussed (at his prompting):
  • Why people are squeamish about the insides of bodies
  • Why people are squeamish about the outsides of bodies (he didn't understand why the lower half of the corpse was covered by a sheet)
  • How guns work - what makes the 'bang', what pushes the bullet out
  • How bullets kill people if they're so small
  • Those were the in-depth discussions; we also touched upon ballistics and the forensics of tool marks (rifling on bullets). How's that for an afternoon discussion with a 5 1/2 year old? I'll say this - he certainly doesn't have a one-track mind... [x-posted from my blog, protected static]

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    Wednesday, December 28, 2005

    Vincent Schiavelli, RIP

    One of the great character actors, Vincent Schiavelli, died Monday at his home in Sicily. He was in many of my favorite films, the George Zucco of my generation if you will. He was 57. Schiavelli played parts in Blade Runner, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Lord of Illusions, Lurking Fear, Corpse Killer, Ghost, Amadeus and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. But my favorite role of his was playing the alien John O'Connor in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. He was wonderfully quirky.

    John O'Connor: They're only monkey-boys. We can crush them here on earth, Lord Whorfin.
    Rest in peace, Mr. Schiavelli.

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    Texas grass fire

    From The Associated Press:

    The hardest-hit community during Tuesday's blazes was Cross Plains, a West Texas ranching and oil-gas town of 1,000 people some 240 kilometres from Dallas. It lost about 50 homes and a church. One person was killed and at least three were unaccounted for after the flames raced through brush dried out by the region's worst drought in 50 years. "We had a tornado here years ago and we thought that was devastating. This lasted for hours and hours," said Patricia Cook, a special education aide whose home was saved by her 18-year-old son, J.D., and a friend. They saw the flames approaching the house from across a field and ran to save it. "The fire was literally nipping at their heels," she said. "He just picked up the hose and started watering things down." The fire spared a town landmark: the nearly century-old house, now a museum, of Robert E. Howard, author of the Conan the Barbarian books.
    Here's the official Robert E. Howard web site. Condolences to the families of the dead.

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    Blood: The Last Vampire

    The Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald reviews the anime Blood: The Last Vampire:

    eighing in at 45 minutes, this slim anime from the producers of Ghost in the Shell has impressive production values, with well-rendered 3D backgrounds and atmospheric settings. On the eve of the Vietnam War, teenaged slayer Saya hunts down the shape-shifting monsters that are haunting Japan, their latest target an American army base on the night of their Halloween party. Saya is deployed by an unidentified organisation and it transpires that she is the last of an original race of vampires. The plotline is way too short and linear to engender much suspense but hints at a curious conspiracy involving the American presence in post-World War II Japan.
    Going into my Netflix queue.

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    Blood-drinking robber nabbed

    Paging Inspector LeGrasse. Inspector LeGrasse to the white courtesy phone please. From of Mumbai, India:

    He didn’t just loot homes, but also drank blood. Depending on his booty, the robber sacrificed animals before a deity, drank its blood and even feasted on its meat. This, he believes, keeps the gods happy. This is what 33-year-old Suresh alias Surya Baburao Shinde, leader of a robber gang, said in his confession to the anti-robbery cell police of Mumbai’s crime branch. snip The police have filed nearly 30 cases of against Shinde, including robbery and attempt to murder. Shinde was released from Arthur Road jail in 1997, after serving a five-year term for the murder of two constables and a watchman during a robbery in Santacruz.
    I'm no crime expert, but a five-year term for the murder of two constables and a watchman does not seem like a long enough sentence.

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    The Coylet Inn investigation

    Ghost Finders Scotland has the report on The Coylet Inn investigation up. This sounds like one of the team's better locations. The Coylet Inn is a 17th century coaching inn about an hour west of Glasgow. Make sure you check out the team's report of using a communication board. But the most exciting events seemed to happen in bedroom 4.

    This bedroom has had several reports of activity in the past, including unexplainable wet footprints that have been seen on the floor. We all got ourselves comfortable and began asking out for some communication. One of our team saw a greenish light outside in the corridor, but unfortunately this was not captured on camera. Several team members reported hearing loud bangs and also what seemed like a mumbled conversation going on nearby. We can verify that no other people were in the building at the time. Using voice recorders, we were able to pick up some responses to the questions we were asking. We captured a voice saying “Make the plan” (click here to listen) and another saying “We’re gonna get you” (click here to listen). We also caught some flashing lights on one our camcorders. We kept an EMF meter switched on during the entire vigil, but no unusual readings were detected and temperature readings remained unchanged. Several light anomalies (click here to view video file) and a bang (click here to view video file, speakers required) were picked up on a locked off camcorder in this area while we investigated another part of the building.
    Is it just me or is "We're gonna get you" something you don't want to hear during a paranormal investigation?

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    A milestone

    One year ago today, I put up the first entry on The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire blog. When I hit "publish post" this will be the 1,297th post. I thought a lot about how I'd mark the blog's first anniversary. But when it came down to it, this is what I wanted to say: Thank you for visiting.

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    The blog of a teenage ghost

    Via Bella Snow, here's the blog of Horace Finkle: Teenage Life In Limbo.

    A teenage ghost blogs a daily comedy serial chronicling his family's hilarious misadventures as they attempt to assimilate themselves into a small town neighborhood as the new family on the block.

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    Tuesday, December 27, 2005

    C&O canal towpath entity?

    Leigh of the West Virginia Society of Ghost Hunters took this photo on a recent ghost hunt on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath. (Look to the right of the image.)

    There was no one with me on the towpath when I took this picture. I also have another shot which seems to be an enitity also
    The towpath was used by mules to pull the canal boats. It is long disused for canal boats, but is a National Park. The ghost hunt occurred on a wintry night. Here's how the group's founder and president Susan Crites described the event (reprinted with her kind permission):
    HI Ben! I thought you might like to see this remarkable photo taken on last night's ghost hunt! It was cooooold and the snow/ice was deep but it was a remarkable hunt! Even our most experienced people were speechless! The short version is that first there was one set of ghostly foot steps crunching in the snow toward a knot of ghost hunters then, two sets, then ten sets, then twenty sets of clearly audible footsteps running at ghost hunters; sound exploding for more than a minute as ghost hunters stood still and, well, speechless and scared. Folks are writing up their experiences and we'll send a compilation to everyone!

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    A mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes

    From The Scotsman:

    IN MARCH 2004, Richard Lancelyn Green died in mysterious circumstances. The wealthy Sherlock Holmes expert had been garrotted with a bootlace tightened by a wooden spoon. It was a great story for the press but, obviously, a tragedy for his family and friends. The Holmes angle trivialised the awful fact of his death, but it had also been the obsession of his life. The Man Who Loved Sherlock Holmes, narrated by Stephen Fry, traced Green's life while worrying away at his death. The coroner recorded an open verdict, though suicide was thought likely. Or was it murder? It's trite to suggest Holmes would have loved this mystery but, as my old gran never said, there's truth in trite. Two days before his death, Richard phoned the Times, a newspaper, to say his life was in danger. He'd been researching for a biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and had discovered the author was, allegedly, a plagiariser and adulterer who may have contributed to the death of his wife's mother. Hmm. Skeletons in the cupboard? Make no bones about it, this was dangerous knowledge (if knowledge it was). The family allegedly barred him access to crucial documents, whereupon he became morose. He spoke, too, of a mysterious American who wanted to bring him down. He thought his house was bugged and, with a friend on the night of his death, believed he'd been followed home. Bizarre theories abounded after his death. A rival Sherlock Holmes society had organised it. A curse on obsessive fans had caused it. The CIA, needless to say, was suspected. And there was speculation about auto-erotic shenanigans. One newspaper named an American Holmes enthusiast, who also happened to be a strategy adviser to Donald Rumsfeld, as a suspect.

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    On the trail of Sherlock Holmes

    The Christian Science Monitor, a fantastic newspaper, has a story about Sherlock Holmes that The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire covered on Dec. 3 (thanks to a tip from protected static).

    Stanford University has a New Year's gift for you - and not just some virtual keepsake that disappears as soon as you move on to the next website, but a real, physical collection that can, if you so desire, be delivered to your mailbox and enjoyed in the relaxed solitude of your offline time. The Discovering Sherlock Holmes project wants to acquaint (or reacquaint) you with the life and times of world's greatest consulting detective, and it's making that introduction with the help of a few century-old stories - online and on paper.
    Link to the Stanford project here.

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    Monday, December 26, 2005

    Faith of a vampire queen

    The Los Angeles Times has a long profile on Anne Rice and her new novel on the young Jesus Christ.

    WHEN bestselling novelist Anne Rice was a good Catholic girl growing up in New Orleans, she dreamed of becoming a leader of the church. Instead, she abandoned Catholicism at 18 and stopped believing in God. She joined the Haight-Ashbury hippie milieu and evolved into the bestselling author who elevated the sexually ambiguous vampire Lestat to cult status. She wrote pornography under one pen name and erotica under another. Now, she has come full circle — and in a weird way, may finally be getting her childhood wish. Rice has written a novel on the boyhood of Jesus called "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt." It is a bestseller. It has given her a high profile in the religious press and a platform for her ardently reformist views on the future of Christianity. Her views will not please all of the devout. Rice favors gay marriage. She believes the church position regarding birth control is a grievous error that is not supported by Scripture. She repudiates what she sees as intolerant, "sex-obsessed" church leaders, and says she does not find support in the message of Jesus for their focus on sexual orientation or abortion. She argues for a more inclusive church. snip In some ways, Rice's criticisms of religious fundamentalism are part of a wider backlash coming from such unlikely quarters as former President Carter, who, in his new book, criticizes religious fundamentalists' involvement in national politics and takes issue with the Catholic Church's exclusion of women from the priesthood. Rice believes that conservative Christian politicians are distorting Christ's message by politicizing such issues as abortion. While abortion is "tragic," Rice said, "Millions of women are having abortions. They have control of their reproductive powers, and they do not want to relinquish that control. Abortion is at the heart of that, because it's at the core of women having control of who they are. I think it's killing. But I think it's a woman's choice." Gay marriage, she said, "is another classic example. It can only strengthen our society to have gay people in committed relationships rather than going to bars." snip "People are always going to misuse things. And some Christians are going to misuse Christianity. They are going to use Christianity to hit someone over the head because they frighten them or threaten them," she said. "We Christians have to get back to our roots as a people of love. Now we're associated with a religion of intolerance and hate. We have to come forward and speak about love."
    Rice and I share similar beliefs about vampires and Christianity. Pastor Dan should recruit Rice to be a front pager at Street Prophets.

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    Happy Chanukah

    Belated Chanukah greetings from The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire.

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    The Dancing Valkyrie

    This sounds fun.

    The new novel,"The Dancing Valkyrie," is the story of a young woman who is an erotic dancer at a topless club in Schenectady, NY, who becomes a vampire while on a hike in the wilds of the Adirondacks. The novel follows her rapid acclimation into being what she was born to be - a vampire with a lust for both blood and sex, and draws to a conclusion when she meets with a vampire who lives to kill other vampires - and whose name is Van Helsing.

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    Sunday, December 25, 2005

    King Kong Wenceslas

    Happy Holiday Traditions To All! King Kong bellows atop the Christmas tree of Bruce and Risa Nye. Bruce obtained the toy for their very first tree, and the playful tradition lives on in their Oakland hills home. Chronicle photo by Katy Raddatz and to all a good bite!

    Link to post's Top 10 horror list

    Staci Wilson,'s horror guide, released her Top 10 list for horror shows. I don't agree with most of her picks, but there are some interesting selections and I always enjoy reading her work. Here's her honorable mentions. Her 10 least favorite. The 10 that almost made her terrible list, mostly straight to DVD releases. And 10 favorite and least favorite horror books.

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    A 60-year-old Christmas mystery

    NPR has a story on a 1945 mystery involving five missing children that still haunts a West Virginia community.

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    Saturday, December 24, 2005

    Forget Bird Brains...

    It's the Bird Bones that have scientific peeps squawking.

    Scientists said they likely have found a complete skeleton of the long-extinct Dodo bird. (image courtesy of The Dodo was native to Mauritius when no humans lived there but its numbers rapidly dwindled after the arrival of Portuguese and Dutch sailors in the 1500s. The last recorded sighting of a live bird was in 1663. An international team of researchers said they found the bones of the bird on a sugar cane plantation on the island of Mauritius off the east coast of Madagascar, and presented their findings at the National Museum of Natural History in the Dutch city of Leiden Friday. No complete skeleton of a single Dodo bird had ever been retrieved before from an archaeological site in Mauritius. The last known stuffed bird was destroyed in a 1755 fire at a museum in Oxford, England, leaving only partial skeletons and drawings of the bird. "We have found 700 bones including bones from 20 Dodo birds and chicks but we believe there are many more at the site," said Kenneth Rijsdijk, a Dutch geologist from the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, who led the dig. - Chicago Tribune, AP and

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    Friday, December 23, 2005

    Ghost helps collect Christmas toys

    From The Scotsman:

    HER plight has inspired hundreds of well-wishers to shower her with money and toys. The tragic story of a sick child has moved visitors at an Edinburgh attraction to donate more than £1000. But no amount of money will be able to help little Annie - because she has been dead for more than 300 years. The cash has been gathered from visitors to Mary King's Close who were affected by the story of Annie, a girl who is thought to have died of the plague in the underground streets beneath the City Chambers in the 1700s. And since a psychic claimed to have discovered the ghost of Annie, they have left gifts of money and toys in the room she is said to haunt. But the money will still benefit poorly children as it is being donated to Edinburgh's Royal Hospital for Sick Children. The ghost of Annie was "discovered" by a Japanese psychic in 1993, who claimed to feel a presence when she entered a small room off the part of the underground alleys beneath the Royal Mile known as Allan's Close. She "communicated" with the spirit and found her to be a young girl, heartbroken because she had lost her doll. The story goes that Annie had been locked in the room after she fell sick with the plague. The psychic put a doll into her room to comfort her and sensed that she was delighted.

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    Q&A with Joss Whedon

    In USA Today:

    Looking back at Serenity's performance at the box office, do you think there's anything more that the fans, or you, could've done to get the word out about the movie? Honestly? Physically? No. I know there's nothing more I could've done, because I collapsed from exhaustion at the end of the publicity tour. And I know there's nothing more the fans could've done, because they were crazy all over themselves. Obviously, Universal could've spent more money on advertising, but I think that's the Catch-22: If you keep spending more, will you necessarily bring out more people? Ultimately, what didn't happen is that we didn't really manage to get a sense of the movie out to people. But that's a hard thing to do; it's a weird movie. And, you know, it crosses a lot of genres, and it's not an easy sell. ... Who knows? Ultimately, you can't really point the finger -- I mean, I'm sure there's plenty of people who are pointing plenty of fingers in every direction -- but it's just a crapshoot. snip Speaking of Buffy, in your mind, where is Buffy Summers today? I don't have to say it in my mind, because I'm gonna be saying it in a comic book. I'm actually going to be writing some Buffy comics to restart the comic book line at Dark Horse. I'm going to be writing the first four ... and basically play it as season eight. I'm going to tell exactly where Buffy went after she left Sunnydale. So you'll have to wait for that answer, but it will come.

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    Holiday Wishes: Donner Party Special Edition

    Factoid of the day, courtesy of The Scotsman:

    Today in 1972, rescue finally came to the survivors of a Uruguayan Air Force plane which had crashed in the Andes 72 days earlier. The 16 survivors, members of a rugby team from Montevideo, kept themselves alive by eating the flesh of their fellow passengers who had died in the crash.
    Mmmm... Tastes like chicken. So, remember, no matter how difficult or stressful your holidays seem, things could always be worse.

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    Friday vampire cat blogging

    Peace on Earth and goodwill to all. Merry Christmas from The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire. Hat tip to PhillyGal for digging up the cat photos for me.

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    Thursday, December 22, 2005

    A pharoah's tomb

    I should have been an archaeologist. From The Times of London:

    FORGET ALL those newfangled video games this Christmas. Forget the enemy armies and drooling zombies. Block your ears to the Call of Cthulhu. Go back to the future of a far more profound adventure. Enter the tomb of Thutmose III. In his day (1479-26 BC), Thutmose was a great and glorious pharaoh. The Napoleon of the New Kingdom, he was a military genius, a judicious administrator and a wise statesman to boot. While his body was being mummified, the walls of his tomb were painted with a complete depiction of the Amduat: a key Egyptian text that chronicles the passage of the Sun god, hour by hour, through the darkness of night. His journey — made on a barque through a land of solar baboons, scarabs and serpents — is beset by dangers that must be overcome by incantatory magic if he is to be reborn the next day. It was this story, unspooling like some Ancient Egyptian comic strip around an underground chamber, that excavators discovered in 1868.
    The rest of the article is about the exhibit in Edinburgh that I've written about earlier. But reading this reminds me that I wanted to be an archaeologist when I grew up. Or a pirate. Maybe I should combine the two.

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    Modern-day resurrectionists strike... Alistair Cooke!

    Evidently, the late broadcaster Alistair Cook's remains were harvested by, well, body snatchers:

    When Cooke died of lung cancer that spread to his bones in March 2004, his body was taken to a funeral home in Manhattan. Two days later, relatives of the iconic broadcaster received his ashes, which were then scattered in New York's Central Park. Now they have been told that body snatchers allegedly surgically removed his bones and sold them for more than $7,000 (£4,000) to a company supplying parts for use in dental implants and various orthopaedic procedures.
    And you thought this practice died in the days when the infamous Burke (of Burke & Hare) performed the hangmans's jig, eh? Wow... how gruesome is that? More on Alistair Cooke may be found on the BBC's homepage for Cooke's long-running radio program, Letter from America; more on some of the history of the resurrectionists may be found here. Update: courtesy of a link provided by Making Light, we find the NY Daily News' much more, uh, colorful commentary (wherein the word 'ghoul' finds (deserved) prominence), including some details about the body snatching operation:
    Mastromarino ran Biomedical Tissue Services Ltd., a tremendously profitable tissue recovery business that sold body parts, including bone, skin and cardiac valves. After processing, Cooke's bones could have been used for dental implants or numerous orthopedic procedures including dowels for damaged spines. Cooke's remains were sold by Mastromarino to processing companies Regeneration Technologies Inc., of Alachua, Fla., and Tutogen Medical Inc., of Paterson, N.J. [...] [I]n paperwork given the two processing companies, Mastromarino allegedly changed Cooke's "cause of death" to heart attack and changed his age from 95 to 85, according to sources. Mastromarino, along with his former partner Joseph Nicelli, an embalmer, are being probed for allegedly forging hundreds of such records in their business, which ran from 2000 until October 2005, when The News first disclosed the details of the Brooklyn probe.
    The News' past articles on these shady characters may be found here (paid archive); it includes such gems as these headlines:
  • Half-body snatched. Exhumed corpse has just pipe, not bones, below waist BROOKLYN DA'S GHOUL PROBERS MAKE A GRUESOME DISCOVERY
  • EASY PICKING IN CITY GRAVEYARD? Ghouls eyed in 'John Doe' grabs
  • Good stuff, wot?

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    Wednesday, December 21, 2005

    Joss Whedon on the future of Buffy, Serenity

    From Anna Johns at TVSquad:

    If I were fellow blogger Keith, I would be writing this article from a totally different angle. I would probably be doing cartwheels at the thought of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, written and directed by Joss Whedon. Alas, I missed the boat when it came to Buffy, so today's news breaks my heart. An article in the latest Entertainment Weekly with Joss Whedon says he has come to terms with the fact that there won't be any more Firefly movies. Serenity only made $25 million in the United States and it's not yet clear how well the DVD will do (it went on sale this week). But, that amount of money isn't enough for Universal to launch a franchise of films. Sigh.
    However, here's what Joss says about the entire controversy here at WHEDONesque:
    All right, now I have to jump in and set the record straight. EW is a fine rag, but they do take things out of context. Obviously when I said I had 'closure', what I meant was "I hate Serenity, I hated Firefly, I think my fans are stupid and Nathan Fillion smells like turnips." But EW's always got to put some weird negative spin on it. But so we're clear once and for all: If you read a quote saying "I'd love to do more in this 'verse with these actors in any medium" all I'm saying is that Nathan has a turnipy odor. It's not his fault, he doesn't eat a lot of them but everyone else in the cast noticed it and tht's not really something I'm prepared to deal with any more. And Jewel said outright she wouldn't do scenes with him except stuff like the SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER funeral scene which was outside in a high SPOILER wind. So if I do manage to find another incarnation for my beloved creation, it will have been totally against my will. I hope that clears everything up. Oh, and when I say I want to do a Spike movie, it means I have a bunion on my toe. -joss (by which I mean Tim) (no, actually me.) joss | December 21, 02:12 CET

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    The 'Corpse Bride' riddle

    From Reuters:

    Peering through the glass at a mannequin's veined hands, sparkling eyes and eerie smile, the small crowd gathered outside a store in northern Mexico tries to settle a macabre riddle beguiling many. Is the tall, slender bridal figure in the window a richly detailed shop's dummy or, as a local legend says, the decades-old embalmed corpse of the former store owner's daughter?. The haunting figure known as 'La Pascualita,' or 'Little Pascuala' first appeared 75 years ago in the window of the bridal gown store in the city of Chihuahua.
    Hat tip to Fortean Times.

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    Tuesday, December 20, 2005

    Victoriana resource: the 1911 edition of The Encyclopedia Britannica - online

    Now this was a serendipitous discovery:

    The LoveToKnow Free Online Encyclopedia is based on what many consider to be the best encyclopedia ever written: the eleventh edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, first published in 1911. At a time when many encyclopedias have capsulated and condensed important knowledge, the 11th edition is generally much more in-depth and thorough on it's topics. It is not uncommon for our entries to be 5 to 10 times the length of other encyclopedias. As a research tool, this 11th edition is unparalleled - even today. LoveToKnow is in the process of updating and editing thousands of the entries, preserving the treasured entries that make it so unique, and adding entries on new relevant topics. We hope that you enjoy and learn from the LoveToKnow Free Online Encyclopedia and that it becomes one of your favorite places for reference information.
    While not a strictly Victorian resource, 1911 is as decent a cutoff as any given that it captures a society that is still largely innocent to the horrors that will unfold on the fields of France and Belgium three short years hence. [found via the website of a high-school friend of mine, Alexx - who I more or less stumbled across this morning after, oh, almost 20 years...]

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    Since I found Serenity... Firefly flew by me when the short lived sci-fi/horror series first ran in 2002. I was buried in writing my vampire novel. I caught the first televised episode, thought it was interesting, and went back to work. I wish I had made time for it. When Serenity (Widescreen Edition), the movie based on the television series, landed in the theaters I watched it and thought it the best movie I'd seen of the year. Set 500 years in the future at the edges of the known 'Verse, Serenity is like the original Star Wars if it had stayed in Han Solo's milieu. The crew of the Serenity are criminals AND Big Damn Heroes. In the movie they face three horrific threats. One is the Reavers, men believed to have gone mad after staring too long at the blackness of space. Zoe, the first mate, describes Reavers as characters who "If they board us, they'll rape us to death, eat our flesh and sew our skin to their clothes. And if we're very, very lucky, they'll do it in that order."

    [chased by a Reaver aircraft] Jayne Cobb: How come they ain't blowin' us out the air? Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: They wanna run us down. The up-close kill. River Tam: They want us alive when they eat us.
    The other threat is one of their own, River Tam, a precocious teenage girl turned into a deadly assassin by the machinations of the oppressive government, The Alliance. She is like the vampire Lucy Westenra, turned into a killer against her will and damned good at the blood letting.
    Dr. Simon Tam (her brother, discussing leaving Serenity): Do you want to stay with them, River? River Tam: It isn't safe. Dr. Simon Tam: No. No, I feel it isn't safe. (Walks away) River Tam: (softly) For them.
    The other is The Operative, an agent of the government who sees his actions as entirely justified no matter how many innocent bodies he leaves in his path, as long as he protects the government's interests.
    The Operative: You're fighting a war you've already lost. Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Yeah, well, I'm known for that.
    Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel, knows his horror. Unlike most horror movies, I never get to know the victims. I never get to care about them or even love them. In Serenity, I did. And when they're under threat, when they're killed, it's much more horrific than when it happens to nameless, featureless victims in countless slasher flicks. And the moments of laughter and romance only accentuates the horror they face. So Serenity is released on DVD today. I highly recommend it. I can't think of a television show or movie I've loved more.
    Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: But it ain't all buttons and charts, little albatross. You know what the first rule of flyin' is? Well I suppose you do, since you already know what I'm about to say. River Tam: I do. But I like to hear you say it. Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Love. You can know all the math in the 'Verse, but take a boat in the air you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells ya she's hurtin' 'fore she keens. Makes her home. River Tam: Storm's getting worse. Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: We'll pass through it soon enough.

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    Mephisto Pizza

    Memories of late night horror hosts. From The Capital Times of Madison, Wisc.:

    For some of us, Dick Flanigan - though we never knew his name - was one of the biggest stars in the constellation. For 13 years, from 1969 to 1982, Flanigan hosted a weekly horror movie show that aired at midnight Friday on Channel 15. He dressed up like a monster, called himself "Mr. Mephisto," and let me tell you, he was great. It didn't hurt that the year Flanigan started his show, I became a teenager, his perfect demographic. For a 13-year-old in the pre-PlayStation era, eating delivery pizza and watching midnight monster movies was about as good as it got. The "Inferno" saga actually began in the early 1960s. According to Golembiewski, whom I reached by phone in Milwaukee Monday (he's a mechanical engineer by day), a Marquette theater major named Jack Crowley was working as program manager of WMTV/Channel 15 in Madison in 1963 when he noticed how well stations in other college cities were doing running late night horror programming.

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    Don't listen to werewolves

    From The Denver Post:

    Pueblo - When Douglas Comiskey said he obeyed the whisperings of werewolves and stabbed to death two elderly Catholic priests behind St. Leander's Church, some thought he would never leave the state mental hospital. Eight years later, the paranoid-schizophrenic 29- year-old has twice visited his home a block away from where he killed the priests, spends eight hours a day on Pueblo streets without supervision and is planning to move to Denver in the next six months. "He committed a horrible, horrible murder. I just assumed when he was that sick he would always be at the hospital," said retired Pueblo District Attorney Gus Sandstrom, who prosecuted Comiskey and closely watched his progress through the Colorado Mental Health Institute for seven years.

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    Monday, December 19, 2005

    Christmas is a ghost town

    People abandoned Christmas in Arizona. From The East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune:

    Christmas is a quiet, dusty place with lots of mesquite bushes and cactuses. It’s hardly the postcard-perfect spot Currier and Ives would have picked for a town with such a festive name. "What I remember most in those days was everything was dirty," says Hazel Cox, who used to visit the old Arizona mining town as a child. "Everywhere you moved there was dust. There was no way you could keep up with it." Perched atop the southern tip of the Dripping Springs Mountains, Christmas, Ariz., is a town no more. The narrow dirt road leading to the old mine is treacherous, and if the thought of ruining the undercarriage of your car doesn’t discourage you, there’s a sign across the gate: "No Public Access."

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    Sunday, December 18, 2005

    Famous Monsters of Filmland editor featured

    The Associated Press features the editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland:

    Just like the vampires in the Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine he edited for 25 years, Forrest J. Ackerman isn't planning on leaving this world until somebody drives a stake through his heart. "Oh, I'm not going if I can't take it with me," Ackerman jokes as he gestures toward the thousands of pieces of science-fiction and horror movie memorabilia that fill his Los Angeles home. "That's one of my favourites," he says, pointing to a black vampire cape worn by Bela Lugosi in the 1931 film Dracula. It now hangs on a mannequin in Ackerman's living room, just above a coffin that he jokes doubles as a day bed.

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    Ghosts of Gallup, Utah

    Short article, but well worth the click in the Salt Lake Tribune:

    Lindsay Mapes came to Gallup as an AmericaCorps volunteer and needed to find inexpensive housing, not an easy task. So she stayed in a room at the historic El Morro Theater in the heart of downtown, not realizing its notoriety of being haunted. Mapes, now events and promotions coordinator for the Gallup Chamber of Commerce, never saw the ghost of a little girl said to wander around the theater holding a red balloon. But, with her room near the balcony, she did have an encounter with the theater's other ghost -- an usher. One night, while she was alone in the theater, Mapes heard a pounding sound. When she went to investigate, she saw the outline of the usher behind the screen of the theater. She moved two weeks later

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    "Always winter, and never Christmas..."

    It was a spur-of-the-moment decision made Friday night over dinner with friends - a chance remark, and Ka-POW! Treos and a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop were fired up, browser windows opened, schedules perused, and finally... tickets ordered for a Saturday matinee. Narnia. On a huge screen, with a magnificent sound system. The quick thumbs up or down? Up. Way up. It was almost not to be - the sound wouldn't come up when they started the trailers (Captain Jack Sparrow: funny even without the sound), but no tempers were lost, no popcorn thrown. The manager came out and announced that they had someone working on it, and that anyone who wanted to leave would get vouchers. We opted to stick it out for at least 15 or 30 minutes - much longer than that and the kiddies we were with would have started climbing the curtains. And about 20 minutes later, we were there in full living sound and color. The movie captures so much of the magic of Lewis' writing - there were a couple of moments where the green screen didn't look quite right, or where your brain went "uh, no..." for some of the animated critters, but overall it was quite excellent. And those critics who were annoyed by the talking beavers? I dunno what's up with that - as semi-comedic foils, they were quite good. Tilda Swinton is coldly magnificent as the White Witch, the kids who play the Pevensies are excellent, and despite some of the previously-mentioned CG slips, Aslan is absolutely amazing (I wouldn't have picked Liam Neeson for Aslan's voice, but hey... whatchagonnado?). The only major objection I had was that where the book makes abundantly clear that all four children are flawed in some way, the movie Lucy is portrayed as unalloyed goodness. For instance, in the book she wants to stay by Edmund's side and to not tend to the other wounded and Aslan rebukes her quite severely for being so selfish; in the movie, as soon as it is clear that Edmund will live, Lucy goes skipping off to tend the wounded of her own accord. Eh. Not so much. And as for the oft-discussed religious element - it is there, but perhaps somewhat more muted than in the book. I don't think that this movie will provide the same emotional fodder for religious conservatives as some hope. Why? Well, to me the movie underscores the central weakness of the books: Narnia itself. Lewis created a world that was too magical, too heretical and pagan to ever be a perfect setting for Christian allegory. The magic and wonder is so strong that by the time you get to The Last Battle, Lewis has to rush and tie together these loose ends with some really heavy-handed symbolism - but in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe he himself is still caught up in the magic of his own creation. And I have to say that this movie captures that wonder, that magic, most magnificently. Even our five-year-old son, with his extremely active imagination, was able to sit through the whole thing; he loved (almost) every minute of it, as did we. Oh, and as we were leaving, we were given vouchers anyway... Score!

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    Saturday, December 17, 2005

    Ghost hunting in Maine

    From a paranormal investigation report on Maine Supernatural:

    We were led through the kitchen to the back room, and staircase, where most of the apparitions had been seen. An older woman, in old fashioned dress and hairstyle had been seen several times at the bottom of the stairs, looking into the adjoining TV room, as if to ask, "what are you doing in my house?" The family cat had also witnessed several apparitions on and about the staircase.... My co-investigator quickly gave me the high sign, agreed upon hand signal, that yes, she could sense a presence and even more then one. My exuberation quickly took hold of my better judgement, and I quickly passed her the digital recorder, and I quickly unpacked and set up my camera. Almost dropping the brand new addition in the process. But in retrospect, the camera did seem to be almost knocked out of my hand. As she evp swept the side room, and closet under the stairs and stairs themselves, I moved to snap some shots of the staircase. When I had turned on the camera, the batteries had been fully charged and shown so on the recorder. After the 4th snapshot, the batteries showed flat, completely depleted. I rushed to replace them, with my second batch of spare batteries and by that time, my co-investigator was showing a reluctance to go upstairs. I was in full court press by then, and could feel we could have a winner, if I could just keep the electronics going. My co-investigator, had to be almost carried upstairs, with me not noticing that she herself was quickly becoming drained, fatigued, life-sucked, whatever you want to call it.
    Entire report well worth reading.

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    Pimping ain't easy

    Nominations are being accepted for the annual Koufax awards for blogs. If I might be so bold and if you're inclined, you can show some love for The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire by nominating the blog for Best New Blog and Got a happy story? for best series. Link here.

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    Stephen King's Top 10 List

    Stephen King's posted his Top 10 list of books for 2005 in his Entertainment Weekly column. The only one I managed to read was No. 5:

    5. HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, J.K. Rowling The miracle of the Harry Potter series is that it keeps getting better. The genius of Ms. Rowling was her decision (probably never even seriously considered at the time) to follow Harry through his schooling. As a result, Harry's fans have never left him behind. The question is whether Ms. Rowling will be bound to him for life, as Arthur Conan Doyle was bound to Sherlock Holmes.

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    Friday, December 16, 2005

    A Psalm in Darkness

    A haunting poem of darkness.

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    Catch of a lifetime

    Amazing story.

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    'Ghost Whisperer' creator experiences supernatural

    From The Hollywood Reporter:

    John Gray, the creator/executive producer of CBS' Ghost Whisperer, had no experiences with the supernatural - that is, until he was in the midst of shooting the pilot for the spooky freshman drama. Gray was just getting settled into a new home in New York when he, his fiancee and his daughter began hearing noises in the house - such as the sounds of furniture moving around in the attic or someone walking up and down stairs. Lights would turn on at random, and in one instance, an entire set of puzzle pieces overturned by itself, Gray said.

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    Cthulhu declines Canadian politics

    As the Canadian visitors have probably noticed, I don't post much about Canadian politics. But after seeing this story I might have to pay more attention. From Vive le Canada:

    Conservative leader Stephen Harper stunned media representatives at a Tuesday morning press conference with his statement that he had renounced God and Jesus as, respectively, his Lord and Saviour and intended to form a pact with Satan. Harper told media representatives that the decision had been ‘difficult’ because he, God and Jesus ‘were on pretty close terms for a long time’ adding ‘but, there is no room for sentiment in politics.' The Conservative leader justified his decision by indicating that ‘God just hasn’t been doing a whole heck of a lot for Team Harper lately. I mean, here we are losing an election to a government that makes a Columbian drug cartel look like choirboys and does anyone see God anywhere lending a helping hand?’ Harper indicated he started to consider the Team Harper shake-up shortly after aides informed him that Satan, rather than God, was the source of all earthly wealth and power. The Conservative leader used hockey metaphors to illustrate his points, indicating that to win a game ‘all team members have to show up willing to go the full sixty minutes. Lately neither God or Jesus has shown much interest in getting off the bench and putting a few in the net for Team Harper, so I decided it was time send them down to the minors and put Satan in at center for the power play’. snip ‘Great Cthulhu’, spokes-god for ‘The Great Old Ones’ arose from his horror-shrouded city of R'lyeh deep beneath the Pacific waves to briefly meet with media representatives on Wednesday afternoon. Cthulhu confirmed that Harper had approached the ‘The Great Old Ones’ with an offer for what he termed a 'win-win strategic alliance.' The monstrous entity told reporters that the Conservative deal offered up of the populace of Quebec for consumption or eternal enslavement by the malignant incarnations of evil in return for ‘The Great Old Ones’ support of Conservative candidates in Ontario. Cthulhu indicated the offer 'was certainly tempting' but added that 'a firm agreement had not been reached.' ‘In all honesty’ Cthulhu told members of the media ‘slumbering for uncounted aeons in the watery depths of the Pacific or the blackness beyond the edges of the universe really has a mellowing affect. Sure, in my younger years, I was as hepped up as the next demonic being at the thought of exterminating humanity and casting a veil of eternal darkness over the world. These days though, I’m content to put in a day of golf with Loki, Baal and some other friends and spend a quiet evening at home.
    Regardless of the outcome, I hope the pact with Satan does not lead to a change in the Canadian national anthem, one of the finest.

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    Stephen King in the news

    Horror author Stephen King is in the news in Maine newspapers for two very different reasons. From The Bangor Daily News:

    BANGOR - Author Stephen King has decorated his West Broadway home for Christmas, and the focus of his front porch now is a large, 1960s-style peace sign in colored Christmas lights. Strung between the porch pillars at the top of the front steps, the retro peace sign is "just a decoration," according to Julie Eugley, King's personal assistant. snip The King family usually is away for most of the holiday season, spending time at their Florida mansion. This year is a little different, and the Kings, Stephen and his wife, Tabitha, have been in Bangor since November. "Usually they don't decorate for Christmas because they're not here very long," Eugley said. King is a well-known Democrat and has spoken out against the war in Iraq and the Bush administration, but the peace symbol is not specifically representative of his political beliefs, his assistant said. During U.S. Sen. John Edwards' September 2004 campaign stop in Orono, King called the Bush administration "the most dangerous and unpleasant bunch we've had since the Nixon years."
    Entire article well worth the click. Then there's this story in the Morning Sentinel of Blethen:
    WATERVILLE -- On Wednesday, Stephen King stepped in to help a 3-year-old girl who was badly injured in a Tuesday car accident in Waterville. When family members wanted to move Rylee Lagucki from a hospital in Portland to one in Bangor, the horror novelist donated $2,800 to cover the cost of the ambulance trip, including the cost of a critical-care team that rode with her all the way. Rylee's family had wanted the girl to be near her mother, 22-year-old Stephanie Lagucki of Waterville, who was also critically wounded in the crash. Lagucki is in Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. "A social worker from Bangor taking care of Stephanie helped us," said Laura Mathieu of Oakland, Lagucki's cousin. "She pulled some strings, and Stephen King made a significant donation. It's amazing -- this man (King) we don't even know. It's phenomenal for someone to do that."
    Let us keep the family in our thoughts.

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    Friday vampire cat blogging

    Be careful of the hypnotic eyes of the vampire cat. Hat tip to PhillyGal for the photo.

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    Thursday, December 15, 2005

    Victorian mourning

    I agree with protected static. I could drop a ton of money (if I had it) at Tear Drop Memories.

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    Scotland's supernatural terrors

    The Deccan Herald of India takes a spooky tour of Scotland:

    Many supernatural creatures dot the Scottish highlands. Some are downright scary while others are absolutely evil. Though we have not heard about many of them but few we have encountered in books. There are said to be similarities between Scottish and Irish supernatural creatures, it could be because they have the same Celtic root. The Red Caps are one of the most dangerous supernatural creatures who haunt the castles and watchtowers of the border regions. Trust me they make you want to run for cover. Red Caps are murderous and kill by rolling boulders or tearing at people with their sharp claws. They then proceed to drink the blood of their victims and dip their hats in the blood which is responsible for their name Red Caps. Ghastly isn’t it?!. In appearance Red Caps are short and wiry, have ragged pointed teeth and sharp claws like steel. They are generally bearded with wrinkled faces, wearing a red bonnet on their heads.

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    A line in the sand

    As home schooling parents, my wife and I receive many different catalogs to assist us in the education of our children. But one catalog called "A Line in the Sand" we recently received from the Vision Forum Inc. in Texas not only wanted to sell us products, it also attempted to indoctrinate us into their world view. (Click on link to read full post) And what an interesting world view the Vision Forum catalog is trying to sell. Women should stay home and have babies. Men should defend to the death their faith and families from the threat of modernity. The most godly people in America were the Puritans during the Salem witch trial period. Why is it important to understand groups like this? Because the people who see the world in the same way as Vision Forum are the people drawing that line in the sand farther and farther to the right and aim to drag the rest of the country there with them. The cover photo shows a blond boy of about 12 standing in front of an old door. In his right hand is a sword that he has drawn a line in front of him with as he stands guard in front of the mission entrance. His left hand holds up a parchment with the large script "The Biblical Family Now and Forever." With his riding boots and pants, a red sash above his scabbard and Confederate gray jacket, he appears to be ready to defend the church from all that threaten it. Of course, an armed guard at the door also keeps people out. And I'm not sure that's what God intends for us to do. But I could be wrong about this group. Let's go past the cover and see. Doug Phillips, the president and founder of Vision Forum Inc., has a two-page column explaining his view of "The Biblical Family Now and Forever!" He starts off the catalog with scripture:

    "Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed...He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD. His heart is established , he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies... The wicked shall see it, and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away." (Psalm 112:1-2,7-8,10)
    Not exactly "Love thy neighbor," nor particularly welcoming with the teeth gnashing and all, but what's with all of the ellipses? What did he leave out? I'll bold the passages he skipped over.
    1 Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. 2 His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. 3 Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever. (Hmm. Maybe Phillips didn't want to remind the reader that he's running a business and he's trying to make a buck or two off them. That's the American way. Let's go on.) 4 Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious and full of compassion and righteous. 5 A good man showed favor and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion. 6 Surely he shall not be moved for ever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance. 7 He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD. 8 His heart is established , he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies. 9 He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor: his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honor: 10 The wicked shall see it, and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away." (Psalm 112:1-10)
    Wow! That's some interesting stuff covered by those ellipses. Phillips emphasizes the lines about fear the Lord, evil tidings, the wicked, teeth gnashing, but doesn't include the lines about being gracious, compassionate, righteous, giving to the poor on purpose. Let's go over that again (because I want to make a point about something Phillips does repeatedly throughout the catalog). The upright have enemies that will grieve and melt away. Nothing about the upright showing compassion. It is almost as if Phillips is promoting a world view that we are surrounded by enemies and should be afraid. Maybe I'm making too much of his cherry picking of scripture. After all, it's just the first part of a two-page column of a 87-page mail-order catalog. What comes next?
    "It was patterned before time began by an eternal Father who loved His eternal Son. It was birthed on the Sixth Day as the very pinnacle of Creation. It was chosen as the vehicle for globe-transforming dominion, covenant faithfulness, and the incarnation of the Savior of the world. It is modeled in the life of the Church through the spiritual brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers who are the very body of Christ. It is pictured and perfected in all its beauty at the culmination of time through a divine wedding feast. In its purest expressions, it is a society of love declared in the last verses of the Old Testament to be inextricably linked to revival and national peace. From Genesis to Revelation, it is proven to be the flesh and blood organization through which men first learn love, law and the meaning of life. It shapes the destiny of children, the character of leaders and the future of civilizations. Its definition is immutable, transcendent and non-negotiable. "It is the biblical family - now and forever!"
    I'll interrupt Phillips briefly to point out, since he places such an emphasis on family, that he has a lovely photo of the "Vision Forum Family in San Antonio, Texas." All the men and boys in khaki pants and blue jackets. Ms. Carnacki pointed out the women, all save one, have jumpers. One woman has a skirt going about mid-calf -- maybe she didn't get the memo. The 44 of them in the photo also are very, very white. There's a reason I'm pointing this out which I'll explain later.
    "Every generation has its defining challenge. Ours is the systematic annihilation of the biblical family. It is during this deceptively peaceful yet culture-transforming epoch of history that God has placed us. This is our watch. "We stand on the threshold of the single most destructive social event in the history of the West. Much has happened over the last two millennia, but it was not until our generation that women have been asked to strap on machine guns and die in combat, that parents en masse have rejected the fruit of the womb, that the majority of women have left the home as their primary mission field, and that the mass execution of the unborn has received legal sanction. And it was not until our watch, our moment in history, that men have sought to redefine marriage to include the most perverse of human behavior. All this on our watch! How will we respond? "Think back for just a moment to your own childhood. Think back to an America that was, an America already in the throes of radical changes, but an America in which the people of this land still retained a moral conscience. Can you remember the days when moral perversions were not mentioned in public (let alone glorified on national television)? Do you remember? I do. "And those memories are not so distant. You need only look into the eyes of those precious little ones given to you by God whose innocence and purity have been entrusted to you. I do this every day - with all seven of my children. It puts a fire in my belly. It daily reminds me that there is nothing I would not be prepared to do for my Lord, if only to preserve a future in which these little ones will not be offended. I am reminded that teaching my children the way of Christ "is not a vain thing; because it is [my] life" (Deut. 32:47) and that parents can state, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth" (III John 4). "In defense of the biblical family, we today join faithful Christians across this great land by choosing sides in a fight. Like William Barret Travis before the Alamo defenders at the defining moment in Texas history, our sword is drawn and we call upon parents, pastors, and leaders - civil and ecclesiastical - to choose sides in the defining issue of our generation and fight to the death. "Be not ye afraid of them: remember the LORD . . . and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. (Neh. 4:14) "We will never surrender. Nor will we lack the proper weapons of our warfare. The Lord has predetermined both the means and the ends of this battle. This is a battle to be fought in the homes of families, in the local churches, and in the very gates of the land; but it is a battle that is primarily fought in the hearts of men as Christians do what Christians are supposed to do best - make the life of Christ extremely attractive as we evidence the sweet aroma of Jesus by thinking, looking, and acting very different from the world. "We win every time a father turns his heart to a son. We win every time our daughters reject feminism for femininity. We win every time children rise up and call their mothers blessed. We win every time a local church embraces a vision for family-integrated worship. We win every time a grandfather embraces his patriarchal vision to bless his grandchildren. We win every time a candidate for public office speaks truth regardless of the consequences. We win every time a Christian filmmaker prefers the path of Christ to the sanction of Hollywood. We win through obedience. We win through faithfulness. We win by leading our households in a multi-generational vision of victory...."
    (Look! Ellipses. If you're worried I'm leaving out the good stuff, full link here.)
    "The products in the 2005 edition of the Vision Forum Family Catalog have been carefully selected to share our passion for the Christ-centered biblical family. Each reflects the commitment of others who have drawn a line in the sand and who will fight to the death in defense of Christ's truth."
    Then he goes into a list of products available inside. Be afraid. Defend the family under attack. Buy our products.
    "This is our watch. Let's serve the Lord with such vigor that Christian children yet to be born will someday look back and say: this was our finest hour! "Victory or death! The biblical family - now and forever!" emphasis mine
    Wow again! Lock and load after a speech like that. My family is under attack and I've got to defend it from everything modern! Seriously, nearly all the book covers have paintings depicting scenes of people in the 18th and 19th centuries. The compact disc on page 7 of "Biblical Womanhood Victorious, the Role of Women in the Local Church" has cover art of Pilgrim women walking on a snow-covered path apparently to church escorted by their watchful, musket bearing men folk. A toy covered wagon on Page 77 shows two buckskin clad boys escorting two young girls inside the wagons and peeking out from behind the canvas. (My oldest daughter's reaction: "That doesn't look like very much fun.") "Family Man, Family Leader," on page 6 shows a man and woman, both in Victorian garb, looking at a map spread across a table. "The Right Stuff: How to Evaluate a Suitor," available on two compact discs, shows a bucolic wedding scene from mid 18th century. In addition to books on parenting, home schooling and history, there's also a section on books about the federal judiciary and federal government. The review for "How to Dethrone the Imperial Judiciary" by Edwin Viera includes this: "Incredibly, some of these men - professing Christians - demand that judges must be obeyed, even when they offer rulings which provide for the vivisection of little babies, or seek to redefine that which only God can define - the institution of marriage. In his new book, Dr. Edwin Viera explains how issues like abortion and homosexual marriages can be resolved immediately, without special constitutional amendments, if we simply avail ourselves of the measures given to us by our Founding Fathers to hold lawless judges accountable for their behavior." I guess not enough people have bought Viera's book to find out how to dethrone those judges. In his "Christian Controversies in American History" series, there's this: * "Pilgrims vs. Indians: Racial Genocide or Biblical Dominion in Colonial New England?" "Recently 'America's Hometown' erected new monuments near Plymouth Rock referring to the Pilgrims as genocidal murderers. In truth, the Pilgrims provided the most godly view of Christian-Indian relations seen in American history." * "Christians vs. Deists: The Truth about the Faith of America's Founding Fathers." Joe Morecraft sets us straight on those who refer to the Founding Fathers as Deists. * "Yankees vs. Rebels: Understanding the True Causes of the American Civil War" "Slavery? States rights? Economic pressures? What were the true causes of the War Between the States? How was it possible for so man 'great men', many of who me were Christians, to disagree so fundamentally on the defining war of American history? For years, Christian students have been befuddled by the nonsense spouted by secular commentators. Into the historical fray steps historian Bill Potter with a scholarly Christian response." Now back to the issue of race. I mentioned that the 44 people in the photograph of the Vision Forum Family were all white. Of the more than 500 images of people in the 87-page catalog, counting photos of CD covers, and book covers, and models of clothes and toys and lecturers, one shows an Asian-American boy. And there's one photograph of an African-American boy. Guess where his photograph is? If you guessed the very back page, you're correct.

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    Tear Drop Memories

    Via Boing Boing, an online retailer, Tear Drop Memories, that seems to have us in mind. The retailer's specialities: momento morii, vintage gothic and Victoriana.

    Death, la Morte, the final frontier. Tear Drop Memories . Com is devoted to exploring the myriad of mourning mementos and mysteries. Fine funeral fancies, exit strategies and vintage tangible aids to the grieving process abound. Rare cemetery memorial ornaments, antiquarian books and photographic images post mortem, and just plain bizarre mortuary collectibles grace our not so solemn web site. Delicate memento mori jewelry, celebrate past lives lost.

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    Robots vs. pirates

    From the BBC:

    Passengers aboard the Seabourn Spirit, a luxury liner sailing off the coast of Somalia, came face to face last month with the growing problem of piracy, especially planned assaults and ocean hijackings using fast boats and sophisticated weapons. As the pirates go hi-tech, so ships must use more advanced technology in their defence, according to the latest report from the International Maritime Bureau. Anti-piracy technologies endorsed by the bureau include an unmanned spy plane, the Inventus UAV, for aerial surveillance of risky waters. Others include Secure-Ship, a 9,000 volt electric fence that when rigged around ship's deck stops the pirates from boarding, and ShipLoc, a hidden tagging device for ships that allows satellites to track ships on behalf of their owners even after a hijacking. In their defence against pirates off the coast of Somalia, the Seabourn Spirit's crew used an acoustic weapon that focused a deafening alarm sound on the attackers, hastening their retreat. In the future, robotics could play a role in anti-piracy defences, though the technology has yet endorsed by the International Maritime Bureau.

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    I don't feel androgynous

    Via skippy the bush kangaroo, a gender personality test:

    You scored 76 masculinity and 56 femininity!
    You scored high on both masculinity and femininity. You have a strong personality exhibiting characteristics of both traditional sex roles.

    My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
    free online dating free online dating
    You scored higher than 80% on masculinity
    free online dating free online dating
    You scored higher than 35% on femininity
    Link: The Bem Sex Role Inventory Test written by weirdscience on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test
    My feminity score is probably high because of all the time I spend playing Barbies with my young daughters. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to drink beer and go play with my Black & Decker table saw.

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    Wednesday, December 14, 2005

    'Scary True Stories'

    Now this sounds fun.

    Norio Tsuruta and Chiaki Konaka get together to show us the true force of Japanese horror cinema with "Scary True Stories". snip "Scary True Stories" opens up the book on ten individual Japanese ghost stories, but that's not the only thing we've got to contend with here. And I'll tell you--some of this stuff is creepy and unsettling. There's this picture at the thirty nine second mark that gives me chills just looking at it. In fact, the first four pictures are pathologically creepy, despite the distinct possibility that they're total fakes. And their opening sequence, comprised of these pictures, is very similar to the opening sequence used in the old TV show "Tales from the Darkside."

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    A Great Old One to protect your unmentionable

    Click on the photo for a larger image (opens new window). Yes, that blue silicon under there is exactly what you think it is... The creator describes it as " A new evil who will keep your tentacle warm while he waits for the stars to align." I love eBay. [thanks to commenter mothworm over at Pharyngula...]

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    Knife-wielding Santa running amok in NYC!

    One family's protest against the commercialization of Christmas: a gory tableau that would do Tobe Hooper proud!

    Joel Krupnik and Mildred Castellanos decked the front of their Manhattan mansion this year with a scene that includes a knife-wielding 5-foot-tall St. Nick and a tree full of decapitated Barbie dolls. Hidden partly behind a tree, a merry old elf grasps a disembodied doll’s head with fake blood streaming from its eye sockets. In a telephone interview Wednesday, Krupnik explained that his family thought it would be a fun way to make a comment about the commercialization and secularization of Christmas.
    While I personally think the current 'War on Christmas' coverage is so much bread and circuses nonsense, this is a family holiday that has been way too commercialized. I mean, c'mon - there were Christmas decorations out for sale a couple of days before Halloween in our area! And besides, one can never have too many decapitated Barbie dolls...

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    What does that mean, you may ask? How about this:

    "Seconds after a mask was placed over [Stephens's] head, the first jolt was applied, causing his body to snap forward and his fists to clench. His body slumped when the current stopped two minutes later, but shortly afterward, witnesses saw him struggle to breathe. During the required six minutes in which the body was allowed to cool before doctors could examine it, Stephens took about 23 breaths. At 12:26 a.m., two doctors examined Stephens and said he was alive. At the second jolt, administered at 12:28 a.m., Stephens again snapped upright. The charge was discontinued at 12:30 a.m., and at 12:36 a.m., he was pronounced dead."
    This comes from an online archive of 8 hours worth of audio recordings of executions in Georgia.
    In addition to audio of the 1984 execution of Ivon Ray Stanley, the program features audio of an execution that had to be "reinitiated" -- that is, an execution in which the inmate is still alive after being electrocuted for two minutes, requiring that he be electrocuted again. There is also a selection of inmates' final statements, recorded immediately before their execution.
    Chilling stuff... Tip of the old executioner's hood to Cynical-C.

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    Tuesday, December 13, 2005

    SciFi picks up 'Night Stalker'

    Episodes of the short-lived new 'Night Stalker' series will be pick up by the SciFi channel after being cancelled by ABC. No word on whether SciFi will order production of all new episodes, but three that were not aired by ABC will be run.

    "Night Stalker" joins a roster of genre shows on Sci Fi that have been discarded by broadcast networks. The channel enjoyed success with "Firefly" repeats earlier this year and has also served as a second home for shows like "Now & Again" and "Roar" in the past.

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    Ghostly images

    Via Obscurious, a gallery of famous ghostly photos.

    The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall – This is probably the most famous ghost photo on the net! The incredible photo below was taken on September 19th, 1936 at 4 P.M. during a photo shoot for Country Life Magazine at Raynham Hall in Norfolk, England! The photographer reportedly saw her coming down the stairs, and began yelling to an associate, who claims she could not see anything. It has been disputed that this photo is a simply double exposure trick but many other photography experts think otherwise so this photo is still open for debate! If this photo is indeed genuine then this is some of the best evidence for the existence of ghosts and the Afterlife that we have!

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    Spooky times in Port Townsend, WA

    Well, erm... really just a day-trip with my parents, which in some books could constitute horror in and of itself... Eh. It was a fun day, and a (mostly) okay visit from them, and as soon as I catch up on the work that got schedule, I'll be back a'blogging, hither and yon. So what came of spending a day in one of the more haunted cities in Washington? Well, for one thing, I found a cool Mexican imports shop (and espresso stand) named Sol Imports where I was able to procure a most excellent t-shirt featuring Jose Guadalupe Posada's 'Don Quixote' woodcut. Posada was known for his satirical, political woodcuts that drew upon Day of the Dead imagery, and the Don Quixote shirt is no exception: Image from Sol Imports' e-Bay site Literary and spooky, all in one... How cool is that? At any rate, they had a lot of great Day of the Dead stuff along with milagros (traditional folk medicine prayer offerings, traditional and painted tin Christmas ornaments), saints, icons, Oaxacan beadwork and tinwork - lots of great stuff...

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    Monday, December 12, 2005

    Q&A with Peter Jackson

    Coming Soon! has a question and answer session with Peter Jackson, best known for the Lord of the Rings series and now King Kong (opening Wednesday), but who had made several low budget horror films before becoming a big name director.

    CS: What was it about the 1933 "King Kong" that inspired you to become a filmmaker and to eventually do your own version? Jackson: It did inspire me to become a filmmaker, absolutely. To such a profound effect, that I saw the original "Kong" on TV when I was 9 on a Friday night, and that weekend I grabbed some plasticine and made a brontosaurus. I got my parent's Super-8 movie camera and tried to animate the plasticine dinosaur. Really it was a moment in time when I just wanted to do special effects and do monsters and creatures and ultimately led to becoming a filmmaker. I didn't really know what directing was when I was 9; it was more about monsters at that stage. The original "Kong," to me, is a wonderful piece of escapist entertainment. It has everything that's really cool about movies like a lost, remote island, a giant ape, dinosaurs, and it also has this wonderful heart and soul. It has this empathetic creature who… when I was 9 I cried at the end of the movie when he was killed on the Empire State Building. That moment of shedding tears for him has stayed with me. That level of emotional engagement and pure escapism is what I personally like about the movies. Everybody goes to the movies for different reasons, has different tastes, but for me that's a great piece of escapist entertainment. snip CS: Is the filmmaker that made such early schlock horror films as "Bad Taste" and "Dead Alive" still in you somewhere and do you think you'll ever let him out again? Jackson: Oh absolutely. One day, I hope to get to make another low budget horror film. I certainly feel that, in a way now, I want to rest and recuperate from the last ten years of filmmaking and be able to do some more interesting things. I have low budget ideas and horror movies and other types of films. It's kind of weird, but it's only just recently I've realized that for the last ten years, I've had just two projects--"Lord of the Rings" and "King Kong." We originally tried to make "King Kong" after "The Frighteners," and that was 1995 into 96, and then when that got canned, we went into "Lord of the Rings" and then back into "King Kong" again. So I've had two projects in the past ten years. It's really an exciting time to rest up and think of new ideas. CS: Are you still doing "The Lovely Bones" and have you thought about who you're going to cast as the young girl? Jackson: Yeah, we're going to have a break first and then work on the script to that.

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    Bloody Lane turned into scary script

    "Bloody Lane" was what the survivors called the sunken road running through the Battle of Antietam in the Civil War. The road was used as a makeshift defensive line by the Confederates. By the time the Union's famed Irish Brigade took the position, the road was filled with corpses and blood. Now a writer has turned Bloodly Lane into a horror script. From the Hagerstown (Md.) Herald-Mail:

    It was a fitting day for Robert Savage to recount his story. The Shepherdstown, W.Va., computer software expert led a reporter down a gravel lane in the heart of Antietam National Battlefield as the cold gray skies started to produce a light snowfall. Savage made his way to the Roulette Farm and began to tell the tale of a young girl named Ariel and the strange occurrences she experienced there. "It's an old-fashioned ghost story," Savage said of his award-winning screenplay titled "Bloody Lane," named after the road that runs through the battlefield. "It was a lot of fun," said Savage, who devises ideas for new software but has been trying his hand at professional writing. "Bloody Lane" is a story that mixes history with the modern issue of residential growth. The Roulette Farm had been privately owned until about 2001 when it was acquired by the National Park Service. That's where Savage's story takes its own turn. Instead of being turned over to the National Park Service, in Savage's story, it is sold to a housing developer. The developer only builds two houses, which are sold for a bargain after the laborers won't come back to the work site anymore, Savage said. One of the homes is sold to Ariel's parents, who really want a historical home but are forced to settle with a home in Battlefield Estates after their Realtor tells them they would not be able to afford any historical homes in the area. One day, Ariel walks into an old barn on the property. The door slams shut and a voice calls out her name, but refers to her as Arabelle, Savage said. It turns out that the voice is that of a boy named Jeremiah, a drummer in a drum and bugle corps during the Civil War. Arabelle was Jeremiah's girlfriend during the Civil War and he tries to reunite with her in "Bloody Lane." All sorts of strange things happen with Ariel. Her parents get her a piano in hopes of sparking an interest in music for her. One day, Ariel's mother is washing dishes in the house when Ariel begins playing Civil War tunes flawlessly on the piano, Savage said. Ariel begins to take an interest in drawing. One day, her father, who moved to the area to take a teaching job at Shepherd University, finds one of Ariel's sketchbooks outside the door to the barn. He opens it and sees drawings Ariel has created of severed human limbs, Civil War hospitals, a drummer boy and a self-portrait. "All of these things build and build," Savage said. So far, "Bloody Lane" is getting high marks from one group. Savage entered the screenplay in the 4th Annual Anything But Hollywood screenplay competition and won the contest. "Bloody Lane" was selected from a group of 30 semifinalists, which later was narrowed to 10 finalists, according to a press release. "Bloody Lane is the perfect modern horror film, comprising elements of the campfire ghost story with a dysfunctional-family drama, that gets a lot of mileage out of low-key scares and creepy atmosphere that jumps from the page," said Andrew Dignan, the contest coordinator. "The script was an absolute page turner and was a lot of fun for all of us," Dignan said.

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    Sunday, December 11, 2005

    Horror writer Jerry Williamson dead

    From The Indianapolis Star:

    J.N. "Jerry" Williamson, who started a local Sherlock Holmes fan club as a boy and went on to churn out more than 30 horror and science fiction novels, has died, his family said Saturday. The 73-year-old Noblesville resident, who received the Horror Writers Association's Lifetime Award in 2002, died Thursday, his sister, Marylynn Stults, said. snip He founded an Indianapolis chapter of the Baker Street Irregulars, a fan club of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, at age 12, Stults said. snip He published his first novel in 1979, but it was a nightmare about a Satan-like creature with tentacles that he had had years earlier, while in his early 40s, that sent him on a path to writing horror stories, Stults said. Most of his works were published in paperback form and included titles such as "Horror House," "The Evil Offspring" and "Flesh Creepers." Mr. Williamson also edited a number of anthologies and wrote "How to Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction."
    Rest in peace.

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    Haunted houses or folklore?

    That's the question asked by The Fergus Falls (Minn.) Daily Journal:

    If you've ever spent a weekend tucked inside one of the historic dining cars at the Whistle Stop Inn Bed and Breakfast in New York Mills, you might have been unknowingly dining with an uninvited guest. Visitors to the bed and breakfast in years past occasionally reported hearing odd noises during their stay, or mysterious footsteps. One woman even claimed to smell an unexpected whiff of cologne while relaxing in her whirlpool. Perhaps these tales are nothing more than coincidences. Maybe they are stories that were twisted and exaggerated over time. But maybe there is something to them. Maybe the Whistle Stop Inn is haunted.

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    Diary of a ghost hunter

    From the Whitehaven (U.K.) News:

    Where have all the ghosts gone? writes researcher Laurie Kemp in this week's Whitehaven News. He's the author of Ghosts of Cumbria but admits that west Cumbria is almost bereft of ghosts. The Rum story has an active ghost (see alleged spirit light picture) but there certainly don't seem to be as many reports as there were, say, 20 years ago. I suspect one reason is the acceptance these days of ghosts. News is by definition something rare and unusual and ghosts have become just too common for their own good. Almost everyone has seen a ghost. Because I've worked on Psychic News people think I must have seen hundreds. Sadly, I've only seen a couple even though I've spent many nights in supposedly haunted houses. Ghosts just won't appear to order and sitting in a spooky mansion at midnight is no guarantee anything will happen.
    Excellent article well worth reading.

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    The Death of Nawhlins?

    Let's send Marie Laveau after BushCo and the 1600 crew for their disinterest in breathing life back into the Crescent City of "laissez les bon temps roulez" From the NYTimes:

    "We are about to lose New Orleans. Whether it is a conscious plan to let the city rot until no one is willing to move back or honest paralysis over difficult questions, the moment is upon us when a major american city will die, leaving nothing but a few shells for tourists to visit like a museum. We said this wouldn't happen. President Bush said it wouldn't happen. He stood in Jackson Square and said, "there is no way to imagine America without New Orleans." but it has been over three months since Hurricane Katrina struck and the city is in complete shambles ...maybe America does not want to rebuild New Orleans. Maybe we have decided that the deficits are too large and the money too scarce, and that it is better just to look the other way until the city withers and disappears. If that is truly the case, then it is incumbent on President Bush and Congress to admit it, and organize a real plan to help the dislocated residents resettle into new homes. The communities that opened their hearts to the Katrina refugees need to know that their short-term act of charity has turned into a permanent commitment. If the rest of the Nation has decided it is too expensive to give the people of New Orleans a chance at renewal, we have to tell them so. We must tell them we spent our rainy-day fund on a costly stalemate in Iraq, that we gave it away in tax cuts for wealthy families and shareholders. We must tell them America is too broke and too weak to rebuild one of its great cities.

    image from tour new orleans (cemetaries)

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