The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Danced with Death

From The Washington Post:

It helps a little bit, even as your heart is breaking over those TV hurricanescapes of New Orleans under water, to remember that "the city that care forgot" has always danced with death. New Orleans was born amid ghastly yellow fever epidemics, where corpses stained with black vomit were piled on carts to be hauled to above-ground crypts. The sepulcher flower vases bred the fever-freighted mosquitoes. Climate, Catholicism and voodoo shaped the city, along with Latin fatalism, languorous hedonism and an atmosphere of poignant and elegant decay. It's no accident that Anne Rice lived there to pen her vampire tales. And yet, inseparable though they may be, New Orleans has always been more about the dance than about the death. Somewhere in the shade of its majestic live oaks and the shadows of its lacework balconies, among the saxophone riffs in its echoing alleys and the soft magenta glow of its crape myrtles at twilight, the flickering ghosts that haunt New Orleans whisper huskily of sweaty, sensual love and the promise of enduring memory. Even the street names whisper promises: Desire, Amour, Abundance; Pleasure, Treasure and Joy.

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A love letter or obituary?

An Associated Press writer doesn't know whether she's writing an obituary for New Orleans or just a love letter for a city submerged:

We have loved it for the police who took pictures of women flashing their breasts on Bourbon Street, or dressed in drag to prowl for Halloween drug sales in the Quarter, hauling up their skirts to pull handcuffs out of their pants pockets. We have loved it for the drunks, the nut cases, the punks, the vampire wannabes drawn by the Gothic romance of Anne Rice.

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Until death do us part

Until death do us part and beyond. From CNN:

When Xavier Bowie died in a flooded New Orleans neighborhood, his wife did the best she could in a city so preoccupied with saving the living that no one can deal with the dead. She wrapped his body in a sheet, laid him on a makeshift bier of plywood boards, with a little help, and floated him down to the main road. For more than an hour, Evelyn Turner waited along Rampart Street outside the French Quarter, her husband's body resting on the grassy median as car after car passed, their wakes threatening to wash over the corpse. "This is ridiculous," Turner, 54, said as she sobbed into a dirty washcloth. Bowie, 57, a truck driver who had been with Turner for 16 years, had advanced lung cancer and could not be easily moved. When Turner could find no one to take them out of the city, she decided to stay home and hoped the storm would spare them. snip With hundreds, if not thousands, of residents still stuck on roofs and in attics across the city, officials have concentrated on saving survivors of Katrina and floodwaters. "We're not even dealing with dead bodies," New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said Tuesday. When Turner got back to the corpse, she collapsed onto the plywood sheets and wept.
Heartbreaking. For the record, should I ever die in such circumstances, my wife and children should leave my body to the elements. Also, if I'm in a vegetative state, my family has my authorization to disconnect me from any tubes preventing me from dying a natural death. I want that on the record so that I never cause a real national crisis that requires prompt action from our Dear Leader and Congress. UPDATE. Georgia10, an occasional commenter here, also blogged on this and hers is a classic must read.

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Moundsville ghost hunt

From an email from Jared Stroech (published with his kind permission):

Finally, last weekend I had the opportunity to go on an investigation at the Moundsville State Penitentiary.  The usual ghost tours there include at least 50 people, most of whom have very minimal ghost hunting skills and are there for the thrill and a good scare.  I was with Alicia, Joann, and Carol, three very talented investigators.  After a brief tour from the guide, we were off by ourselves.  We attempted to set up a night vision video camera in the corridor of the North Hall, where the "Shadow Man" has been seen. The camera would not work properly...most likely human error, but the malfunction of equipment is not uncommon at sites like this.  Alicia brought her fancy new IR Thermometer with laser precision...a great piece of ghost hunting equipment. While in the basement, where a maintenance man was brutally murdered and in the spot where the only CONFIRMED ghost of the penitentiary resides, we took some temp. readings, snapped some photos, and did a 10-minute dark.  After getting nothing, we proceeded to an area of the prison where many men were killed. This was the room that lead to the yard.  I tried my baiting and luring techniques to try and get a reaction from whatever was there...we got nothing.  As soon as we left that room and continued to the elevator shaft, we heard a cell door slam shut behind us, not 10 feet from the room where my luring techniques had failed, minutes earlier.  After another hour or so of investigating, very few good photos, no temp. variances, and a bit of fatigue, we went to the basement again to retrieve my recorder, which I left in the room where the maintenance man was killed.  As soon as we walked in, the cold hit us like an arctic chill.  Alicia took a temp. reading and it read 65. The temp. only an hour or so before, was 74-77.  We decided to hang around for a little while and try to get a reaction from him once again. Nothing. Although we got only a few valid pieces of evidence, the night was very exciting and I plan on going back. Jared
Here's a link for more information on the Moundsville prison ghost tours.

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Curse and luck of the Carters

Excellent story on a descendant of Howard Carter, the Egyptologist who discovered King Tut's tomb, in The Wolverhampton (UK) Express & Star. He's an antique collector and auctioneer who says he inherited the "Carter Hunch" — not a curse — which has helped him make exceptional finds of his own.

But, like Howard Carter before him, Africa has always fascinated John Carter. In the heat and dust of Egypt Howard found the "Carter Hunch" drew him like a radar beam into the greatest collection of Egyptian treasures the world had ever seen. The golden mask of the young king, the chariots, golden beds and stunningly beautiful jewellery excited the imagination of the world and changed the face of design. Obviously Hollywood was affected, and rumours of the mythical curse of Tutankhamun lay behind movies like The Mummy's Hand. Curses were in - common sense went out of the window. And John Carter smiles cryptically when he says he found curses of another kind in darkest Africa, Mali to be exact, and the curses were of the mosquito kind. "I've always been an armchair explorer and I devour features on faraway places. I saw a programme on Mali and decided to go. I had collected antiquities and ethnic pieces for some time, so this was to be a buying trip for the Cleobury shop. "I was looking for genuine African masks - the real thing. Mali seemed to be the place to visit. I shall never forget my first African sunrise. Around 7am a huge red orb rose over the tarmac runway at Bamako airport. It was a dazzling sight. The sun's disc was a motif which recurred again and again in the jewellery Howard Carter found in Tutankhamun's tomb. "I found a young French-speaking African guide, Abdoulaye Cisse, who guided me to a local antiquaire. I felt like Howard Carter must have felt all those years ago. It was an Aladdin's cave with antique masks, old ivory, animal skins, weaponry, textiles and old, old furniture lying everywhere covered with dust. "The Bambara masks were stunning. Carved with geometric designs and with traces of original paintwork they were like centuries old art deco before the word was invented. It all left you gawping. "In the evenings an old man came into the hotel garden carrying objects from remote villages he knew. They were just sold on to tourists - if there were any around. Some were fine. You couldn't stop your heart from beating. Any collector would have shelled out his last dollars to own these exquisite bowls and figures. Obviously I did."
A really fun read.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Bump in the night

There's a lot of tragedy in the world, from the Gulf Coast to Baghdad. To me, this blog has always been a way to escape from the incomprehensible horrors of reality into the more acceptable horrors of the supernatural. Although I'll continue to post occasional pleas for money for worthy causes and rants about the insanity of world affairs, I find comfort in returning to the abnormal and I hope the readers of this site agree. From the East London and West Sussex Guardian:

RATIONALISTS beware, Chingford is one of the most haunted places in the country and a ghost may patrol a home or hotel near you. Disembodied footsteps, a mysterious man on horseback and the ghost of a woman killed in a hotel fire at the beginning of the last century are among the phantoms inhabiting the cemeteries, byways and hostels of the area. The Guardian has taken a number of calls recently from people claiming to have "heard" things and felt "strange" in the vicinity of Chingford Mount Cemetery. We contacted local paranormal experts Eerie Investigations, who confirmed the burial site's spectral reputation. Ian Pleasance, an investigator with Eerie, said: "The cemetery is known for being haunted and many people have reported sounds of footsteps walking on the grass behind them, even though there was no-one present.
Very spooky article well worth reading in its entirety.

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Call to the Hunt

From Stephen Hunt's Crows Nest:

Steven E. Wedel has a passion and his is the cry of a wolf, a cry unlike any other wolf. A call to the hunt, an inclination to run, a desire stronger than love or hate...The wildness of werewolves. This anthology brings together his short stories that follow the double-lives of his werewolf characters. It crosses time frames by starting on a Pilgrim Fathers ship entering the New World. The finding of the Native Americans, the independence of America from the British, right up to present day. As the introduction by Kelley Armstrong quite rightly states we have in recent years become 'vampire obsessed' leaving our lycanthropic friends out in the cold. Wedel writes believable stories that are effective with their imagery. He uses recurring characters to tell an ongoing story of how the werewolves survive and deal with living amongst their human counterparts.
...we have in recent years become 'vampire obsessed' leaving our lycanthropic friends out in the cold. And rightly so. For those who feel werewolves are neglected, September is Werewolf Month at The Groovy Age of Horror.

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Terror during True Horror

Paging Buffy Summers. Buffy Summers to the white courtesy phone please. Anthony Steward Head, host of the new supernatural series True Horror, could have used his fellow Buffy The Vampire Slayer co-star for protection. From Digital Spy:

Anthony Head was left shaken after his camera crew were kidnapped in Haiti. Head, known for playing Rupert Giles in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, is part of reality TV show True Horror which involves him going on location to comment on strange goings-on and interview experts. However, when he signed up to the project he claims that he was only expecting to perform his part from the safety of a studio rather than being on the field. His unexpected duties have reportedly begun to worry him after his camera crew disappeared. quote him as saying: "I thought I'd be in a studio... Instead, they flew me to Haiti for an episode on zombies and the camera crew got kidnapped."

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New Orleans - Latest news

I've always wanted to visit New Orleans with its dark history and spooky cemeteries and vampires and ghosts. Hopefully New Orleans will survive Hurricane Katrina for the 485,000 people who call it home and for the people who love the city from afar. UPDATE 1. 8:43 p.m. Sunday: Read antifa's comment on Digby's Blog.

I called Mama Marisol, got her on her cell phone. She had her crystal ball in the front seat, and she was 'leavin-leavin, cher.' Heading up Basin Street past St. Louis 1, she saw all the skeletons sitting on top of their tombs, rolling their bones and readin' em, shakin' their heads at her.
Not a good sign. UPDATE 2. Noon, Monday: Good round up of bloggers and others in the midst of the storm.
"9:45 a.m.: Homeowner Says Water Rising: Chris Robinson says the water is rising in his New Orleans-area home, but he's 'holding off on breaking through the roof' to escape. Robinson is keeping a hammer, ax and crowbar at the ready, though. He spoke by cellphone as water sent by Hurricane Katrina flooded parts of the city.
I'm looking at the wind smashing the trees outside this building, and thinking of those 80-foot-tall pines that snap off even during tropical storms. And that storm surge. All we can do now is pray for our family members in harm's way. ... most frantic calls about downtown hotels, where a number of windows have blown out. Guests huddling in halls. Water blowing in through windows, leaking through ceilings. ... Building collapse reported on Laurel near Washington in the Garden District . . . possibly with people inside. Emergency workers trying to see if they can get a National Guard deuce-and-a-half to get through the storm for possible rescue.
UPDATE 3. 12:30 p.m.: Please give as you are able: the American Red Cross. (See also great suggestion from cookie jill in the comments.) UPDATE 4. 2 p.m.: One bright humorous moment in an otherwise grim day. UPDATE 5. 3:30 p.m.: No word yet, though on NO's famed cemeteries. The risk is contamination on the living.
There also were concerns about everything from environmental damage — major oil refineries and other industrial operations are in Katrina's path — to the possibility that bodies would be dislodged from city cemeteries, where people are interred in aboveground tombs because of the city's high water table.
UPDATE 6. Tuesday 1 p.m.: The situation is extremely depressing and scary as the flood waters rise with trapped people forced up to their attics.
• Katrina blamed for 68 deaths, including 55 in Mississippi • Reports of bodies floating in water in New Orleans • New Orleans 'in state of devastation,' water still rising • Search and rescue efforts under way for survivors

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Monday, August 29, 2005

Anne Rice on Jesus

A round up of upcoming fall releases from the publishing world. From The Houston Chronicle:

Finally, there's little pre-pub word on Anne Rice's Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt (Knopf), her novel about Jesus' early life. According to the publisher, it's "based on the Gospels and on the most respected New Testament scholarship."
Also mentioned is horror blogosphere fave Neil Gaiman's new release:
From Hugo and Nebula award winner Neil Gaiman comes Anansi Boys (Morrow), about a conventional Englishman who discovers his late father was the human incarnation of an African trickster god. Stephen King, William Gibson and Peter Straub are big Gaiman fans.
And for the comic book loving segment of the audience:
Norton is reprinting the late Will Eisner's graphic novels. November brings The Contract With God Trilogy, first published in 1978 and considered a classic. Set during the Depression, it grew out of Eisner's boyhood in the tenements.

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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Gil's All Fright Diner

Considering how much time I spent in my local diner re-writing my book about vampires, werewolves, ghosts and a witch, I'm going to have to order up Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez. From The Decatur Daily:

Start with a diner in the middle of nowhere, where the cups of coffee are bottomless and so is the pit leading straight to hell. Add one vampire, one werewolf, one lovelorn ghost and one 17-year-old sorceress bent on bringing about the End of the World. Then liberally add zombies to taste. For added zest, use zombie cows. That's the recipe for the funniest book you ever read about the undead, the occult and Armageddon. Earl (a vampire) and Duke (a werewolf) are two good old boys in a beat-up pickup, tooling around the desert in search of gas, food and a quick buck, when they come upon a roadside diner called Gil's.

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Festival in Dracula's city

From The European Jewish Press:

Representatives of the 21 minorities living in Romania came to celebrate the Fifth ProEtnica Festival in the medieval citadel of Sighisoara. This event was organized by the Interethnic Educational Youth Centre and was attended by over 700 people and was held from August 19 to 21. snip The citadel of Sighisoara itself is famous for its connection with the story of the Romanian King, Vlad Tepes, better known as Prince Dracula. Located on the Tarnava Mare River, Sighisoara has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. Now, after more than six centuries, this citadel is one of the very few medieval locations in Europe that are still inhabited.
If that doesn't sound like short horror story fodder, I don't know what does.

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Spear point missing

From CBS2 Chicago: A spear that has been dated at 12,000-years-old went missing during an event called the "Artifact Road Show" at the Indiana State Fair. The spear was part of an event where artifacts displayed by the public are identified and dated by archaeologists. The missing Paleoindian Clovis spear point is believed to have been used by early Native American hunters and gatherers.

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Saturday, August 27, 2005

More tasty celluloid darkness

For whatever reason, it's turning out to be a movie weekend... While taking our son to the local indie theatre to see March of the Penguins (a lovely, if somewhat over-anthropomorphising film), I saw that MirrorMask is going to be showing early in October. MirrorMask is Neil Gaimain's film collaboration with Dave McKean & the Jim Henson Company - and it looks like, well, a Sandman issue come to life: dark, lush, richly characterized...

Destined to become a classic for fans of Gaiman, cinema, and fantasy alike, MIRRORMASK tells the story of Helena, a fifteen-year-old girl who works for her family's circus. Helena juggles, sells popcorn, and wishes that she could run away from the circus and join the "real world." Then, one day she wakes up to find herself in a magical world filled with fantastic beings and creatures, an alternate reality. It is a land of opposing kingdoms, one perpetually existing in light, the other in constant darkness. These lands have existed in perfect balance, until now. And Helena finds herself about to embark on a most remarkable journey.
(quote from The official site (annoying music/Flash you can't bypass) is here. The trailer is here, an interview with Gaiman & McKean is here, stills are here, and last but not least, Gaiman's site for it is here. This puppy has been in the works for a long time - it officially hits theatres 30 Sept 2005, though given that it only has a 1-week run at an indie house in Seattle, I'm not sure what kind of distribution it's going to get. Still, I'm glad it's (finally) coming to fruition.

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The haunted winebox

Go read this story about the Dibbuk Box on The Jewish Haunted Wine Cabinet Official Web Site.

The granddaughter told me that her grandmother had asked that the box be buried with her. However, as such a request was contrary to the rules of an orthodox Jewish burial, the grandmothers request had not been honored. I asked the granddaughter what a dibbuk, and keselim were, but she did not know. I asked if she would like to open it with me. She did not want to open it, as her grandmother had been very emphatic and serious when she instructed her not to do so, and, regardless of the reason, she wanted to honor her grandmother’s request. I finally ended up offering to let her keep what seemed to me to be a sentimental keepsake. At that point, she was very insistent and said, No, no you bought it! I explained that I didn’t want my money back, and that it would make me feel better to do what I thought was an act of kindness. She then became somewhat upset. Looking back now, the way she became upset was just plain odd. She raised her voice to me and said, you bought it! You made a deal! When I tried to speak, she yelled, we don't want it! She began to cry, asked me to leave, and quickly walked away. I wrote the whole episode off to the stress and grief she must have been experiencing. I took my purchases and politely left.
Hat tip to Tina for posting the link in the comments.

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Filming in Dracula territory

An interesting article about Hollywood directors filming in Eastern Europe to save costs. From The Globe and Mail of Toronto:

Twenty-one feature films were shot in the Czech Republic in 2004, compared with 14 in 2003, according to the European Audiovisual Observatory, based in Strasbourg, France. In 2004, 57 films were produced in Britain, down from 68 the year before. In France, the number of films produced fell last year to 167 from 183. Fifteen movies were made in Poland, 11 in Romania and four in Bulgaria.
Of course, everyone wants to go there to imitate the success of Vampire Journals.

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A spooky college tale

From The Flat Hat, the student newspaper of the College of William & Mary in Virginia.

The move-in was rough (water fell from the sky) and the schedule following it intense: I’ve done more things in the past week than I did during my entire summer. I’ve heard speakers ranging from newly-appointed President Nichol to supposedly-dead Patrick Henry, went on a ghost tour, bought sixteen textbooks (with more to go), ate a lot, walked a lot, met a whole bunch of people, watched people played Ultimate Frisbee, bobbed back and forth while other people serenaded a girls hall, and took part in countless other activities.
Nothing else in the column about the ghost tours. Anyone know if this is a tradition for William & Mary students?

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Iowa ghost hunter

From The Des Moines Register:

Pat Olson is a level-headed, feet-on-the-ground, middle-America kind of guy. He's a staff sergeant in the Air National Guard. He lives in West Des Moines. I run into some kooky people. It goes with the job. Olson, 41, is not a kooky person. He couldn't even play one on television. Sitting in the deli at Hy-Vee on Fleur Drive, decked out in his camouflage fatigues, he seems as dependable as a flag decal. You'd never figure him for someone who's obsessed with ghosts. Olson doesn't just believe in ghosts. He chases them, hangs with them, studies them, writes about them.
Entire column worth a click.

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The Brothers Grimm - a brief review

I'm not a reviewer, nor do I play one on TV (which is good, because I'd probably wind up being the fat one with glasses), so I'll keep this quick. We just got back from seeing the film, and it is a great mix of humor, horror, and fantasy. Deftly weaving together bits and pieces of various fairy tales (mostly Grimm & Mother Goose, as far as I can tell) into a multi-layered tapestry, Gilliam has outdone himself with this dark confection of a movie. If you're a long-time Gilliam fan, you're probably aware that he's prone to awkward transitional scenes that drag on a little too long - there is little to none of that in this movie. The visuals are astounding, the pacing excellent, the stupid humor bits are well-timed. The film is eye- and brain-candy of the highest order, and has no aspirations beyond providing an evening's worth of twisted entertainment. To this end, I think it succeeds. Go and see this film on the biggest screen you can find. Oh, it'll be okay on your standard multiplex screen, but it'll lose some of its magic, and that'd be a crime because this movie is all about magic. Enough of this drivel - go see it. What else is there to say? See it. Big screen. Don't wait for the DVD. And with that, I'm off to bed...

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Friday, August 26, 2005

The treasure of Sherlock Holmes

From The Times of London:

SHERLOCK HOLMES stories written by authors other than Conan Doyle continue to be a prolific sub-genre of the detective story. Doyle wrote four Holmes novels and 56 short stories; others since 1927 (the last Holmes collection) have written thousands of imitations, homages, tributes, parodies and pastiches. The formula is almost always the same. Dr Watson, the Great Detective’s sidekick and chronicler of his adventures, is known from the original Doyle stories to have kept a full record of all Holmes’s cases, in a “battered tin dispatch box” stored in the vaults of Cox & Co in Charing Cross. Many, Watson explained, were too sensitive to be revealed to the reading public. Others, Watson did not have time to write up.
It's amazing how the previously undiscovered stories from Dr. Watson's pen continue to turn up. I found Lucy Westenra's diary, Henry Armitage's Journal and an unpublished tale from William Hope Hodgson in an old Wood's Primrose Tea crate with a stack of London newspapers from 1893. I almost had thrown the crate out, but the color print of Chinese workers sifting loose tea leafs and the logo of the Thomas Wood & Co. of Boston attracted my attention and I kept it.

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Haunted book auction

From an eBay auction:

Well there's no easy way to put this so here it is. My wife and I bought a house about 3 years ago (2002) located in the historical district of Piqua Ohio. The house had only two previous owners. The original owners who built the house in 1886 and their daughters who we purchased the house from. Not actually from her but from her Estate. The house had barely any updates since around the 20's we believe, with the help of the historical Society. Everything was quiet in the house until last October when we started to replace some of the plaster walls in the upstairs. We came across a small 5'x7' room that nobody knew about, not even the realtor when we contacted her almost two years after purchasing the house. In that room where pretty neat things. There was a 16x20 framed picture of a woman, wearing a cross necklace, she almost looks like a old salvation army type woman...not smiling or anything. A few hats in some boxes, a few books, a few hatpins, and a spoon and fork. I don't know anything about the room and can't find anything out about it because the only decendents of the original builders were his two daughters, which the last one passed away in 1999. Neither of the sisters had any children, and both sisters lived in the house together and never married. I had heard from the older lady that lives across from us that that house had served as a private school during the 30's and 40's. She wasn't clear exactly what year, she was only going by what she remembered years previous. make a long story short, strange things started happening almost immediately after opening the wall to the little room. The usual strange noises and you think you see something but you know really that it can't be anything other than you mind playing tricks on you. I'm not a believer of this kind of thing normally but I can't ignore all of the things that started to happen either. I've just been telling me that it's the cat or the dog doing this....Well, not exactly! On October 27th of last year, we came home and we thought we had been burglarized. There was stuff everywhere, thrown across the room. Nothing big had been moved, upon further looking it was two of the books that we had found in the room, shredded to pieces all over our downstairs. I don't mean in just one room in one little pile, I mean thousands of pices of these two books totally destroyed. So I thought the obvious thing was to assume the dog had gotten into the books and tore them up since we examined everything and nothing was stolen. Well, not exactly! The books were on the bookshelf with about 100 other books none of the other books were touched or moved just the two spots where the missing books were. Not only that but we couldn't find one chew mark or bite mark on any piece of those pages. That was the biggest and most difficult thing that had happened. There were always the dog barking looking up at the ceiling when nothing was there...that happens all the time. I frankly getting tired of it. I've decided to try and sell all of the items that were in that room, one at a time, and see if this makes a difference. If that doesn't work we'll be forced to sell our home and move. We'll be listing other items later. The picture of the woman fell from where we were hanging it and the glass broke and we had to take it and have it replaced, behind the picture was another photograph of the same lady in the same pose. We've selling one of 5 books we have left and that is the one listed on here today.
Hat tip to Curt at The Groovy Age of Horror for emailing the link. You're right, it is right up The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire's alley.

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Haunted Voices

EVP site Haunted Voices has a great new look.

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Friday vampire cat blogging

Hat tip to PhillyGal Another hat tip to Bibi for sending me other cat photos. For some reason I can't get images to upload today so here's a classic from the past until I figure out what is wrong.

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When giants walked the Earth

Paging Hagrid, Hagrid to the white courtesy phone please. From The Scotsman:

IN OUR time, giants are treated as creatures of fiction. But the people of ancient Scotland thought these leviathans walked the land bringing terror in their wake. These monsters may be long gone from our world but our ancestors' belief in them is evident in their habit of naming places and features in the landscape after them. snip But could there have been actual giants among us instead of simply taller people? Modern Scots, as well as our ancestors, have certainly believed they have seen these creatures. Perhaps the most famous sighting of a Scottish giant is one known as the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDui. The first modern account of him belongs to a London professor who felt a giant presence as he climbed Ben MacDui, the second highest peak in Scotland, while on holiday in 1891. Since then other climbers have claimed to have seen the giant on the hill. All over the world these sorts of strange sightings are not as uncommon as might be expected and giants, or creatures like them, seem to be naturally found on the mountainside. One report in The Scotsman of 2 January 1888 records their sightings in Scotland and across the mountains of Europe in great detail.
Several NBA teams are reportedly funding the search for giants.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Fate of haunted landmark affected by Pentagon base closings?

I saw online this morning (it's still the 25th out here on the Left Coast) that one of the bases the Pentagon has approved for closure is Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital. Apart from the historic significance of the site (and the cool medical oddities museum it houses - the bullet that killed Lincoln; skulls from Civil War casualties; tumors, organs, pickled punks floating in formaldehyde or alcohol... but I digress...), it also got me wondering about the fate of the Walter Reed Forest Glen Annex. Just outside DC sits the former plantation-turned-seminary of Forest Glen. Taken by the Army during WW2 for use as a convalescence facility, the campus has a number of Victorian architectural follies built while it was a girl's school. We actually stumbled across it while trying to find our vet's clinic back when we lived in DC - dilapidated surreal buildings (a pagoda, a chalet, all joined by sagging wooden bridges) leaping out through foggy gloom behind chainlink fences with "No Trespassing/US Government Property" signs. Even if it wasn't haunted, it certainly made for an astonishing and creepy sight as we drove past. Come to find out, it was turned over to a private developer not too long after we left the DC area. The developer is going to restore the historic buildings, converting some to condos, and preserving others as community spaces. While I'm glad that the decay of these historic (and quite unique) buildings will be prevented, the feeling is somewhat bittersweet: what isn't available for private redevelopment these days? Click some of the links - the photos, while cool, (sadly) do not do the site justice. Stumbling upon them as we did, in the drizzle and fog, with the Gov't signs - it looked like the perfect site for a horror movie.

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Zombie Walk

27 August 2005, Vancouver BC:

Mark your calendars! 8/27 BBBBBBRAINS!!!!!! VANCOUVER ZOMBIE WALK!!! RAD!!! ZOMBIEWALK 2005!!! Usually held in Toronto, this shambling, stumbling, flailing good time will be held in Vancouver this year! Yay us! So if you have a mild bsession with Zombies (as many of my friends do), or you simply love to get rotten and yell "Braaaaiiins" at random people, then mark this one on your calendar: Saturday, August 27 - starts 4pm from the VAG [Vancouver Art Gallery] and 5pm from 15th and Sophia (near Main St). [...] Nothing says you love someone quite like caking yourself in make-up, limping down the street together and eating them in the park!
Heh indeedy ;) The closest thing I've been able to find to an official website is here, from one of the bands that will be playing at the open-air party at the end... It's a gothic/horror flashmob, with only with costumes, props, and a party! (Similar one in San Francisco recently - pics here, first-person details here.) Braaaaiiins!!!!!!!

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Vampire love

Like Waylon Jennings, I was looking for vampire love in all the wrong places. But from site meter, I just discovered that if you search with MSN Search, my site is 10th out of 890,507 hits for "vampire love" which is pretty meaningless except it did give me the opportunity to work the great and incomparable Waylon Jennings into a post.

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Phantom plays Lestat

The Phantom of the Opera is the only musical I've ever seen performed live. I saw it at Her Majesty's Theatre in London's West End. From Monsters and Critics:

Elton John and Bernie Taupin`s new Broadway musical "Lestat" has signed "Phantom" Hugh Panaro to star as the chief vampire. Panaro, currently playing the title role in "The Phantom of the Opera," will be joined by Jack Noseworthy and Jim Stanek in the new show based on Anne Rice`s "Vampire Chronicles," Daily Variety reported Wednesday.
I scooped Variety on this a long time ago.

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Lawless takes on 'Vampire Bats'

I've probably posted too much on this upcoming TV movie considering it'll probably be cheesier than the centerpiece of our Friday Pizza Night, but probably because I have fond memories of bad TV horror movies I'm looking forward to it. From Monsters and Critics:

New Zealand actress Lucy Lawless, best known as "Xena: Warrior Princess," will battle "Vampire Bats" in a CBS made-for-TV movie. Lawless returns to her role as Dr. Maddy Rierdon, which she created for the network`s bug-infested flick "Locusts" last year. In the Halloween thriller, Lawless is drawn into the fight against the thirsty creatures invading Beverly Hills. Lawless told Sci Fi Wire she`s not nervous about sharing the small screen with bats, since she worked with rats and spiders and other scary creatures on "Xena."
Vampire Bats is scheduled for CBS on Oct. 30th.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005


The Groovy Age of Horror has returned from vacation. Curt has named September as "Werewolf Month." In another of those strange synchronicities that occur frequently in the horror blogosphere, I watched The Howling tonight. Now I'm really looking forward to September.

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Dracula vs. Harry Potter

From The Deccan (India) Herald:

Where does J K Rowling keep company with Count Dracula, Captain Hook, Mary Poppins and the Queen of Hearts? In The War of the Worlds, bagged several awards at Centrestage—a playfest recently organised by the Bangalore School of Speech and Drama. This clever, contemporary composition was conceptualised by Lavanya and Bhamini Lakshminarayan, students of Bishop Cotton Girlsí School. Here is the opening. Scene: JK Rowling’s bedroom. A large comfortable bed upon which the renowned author is seated, leaning against the pillows and writing. She appears to be immersed in her work. To the left of her bed is a large book-case. The War of the Worlds concerns conflicting characters from the classics are upset that a hitherto unknown upstart has eclipsed them. Your books are too famous, the Queen of Hearts (Rifa) tells Rowling (Khadija Izzy) accusingly. “Nobody cares about us. All they want to do is read about that stupid boy —Harry Rotter, or Fritter, or something.” Mary Poppins (Aakanksha S), erstwhile nanny to the Queen, is more complimentary. “We find that we have little or no means to compete with your writing.”
You've got to click the link to read the rest of the story.

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Another 'Brothers Grimm' review

I wanted to see this film any way. But I absolutely love the description of this film in the last line of this review. And considering my novel, The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire (or what ever I end up calling it -- see post below), mingles fictional characters from four different sources, this could be a perfect summertime film for me. I've gotten my hopes up about other recent movies only to be disappointed by poor scripts, plot holes, lazy directing, but I'm really hopeful about this. Granted, I've loved most of Terry Gilliam's films. He could make movies with no real stories behind them, but it'd still be movie alchemy. From The Village Voice:

Either you're a schnook for what we can call the Nicholas Meyer Conceit—pace The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, ironically commingling historical and fictional characters in period pulp—or you're not. Call it creative irreverence for Western-culture sacred cows. I'm the only earthling besides Lem Dobbs's mother who still likes Kafka, and for me Terry Gilliam's new windup toy The Brothers Grimm is a daffy, genre-hash gambol, descendant of the Hammer Film school (if those B sides had ever been made with money and talent) and just as fabulously cartoon-Gothic as Sleepy Hollow. snip ...the film...has the relaxed air of a rainy afternoon spent reading Robert E. Howard.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

New Narnia images online

Here. Go. See. Marvel. [hat tip to Ghost in the Machine]

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Erbil: 10,000 years of civilization

Here (NYTimes - may require subscription, but I think Google's RSS feed bypasses it...)

What seems clear, said John Malcolm Russell of the Massachusetts College of Art, is that with its location in a rain-fed plain near the confluence of two rivers and the foothills of the Zagros Mountains, Erbil "could have been the site of one of the earliest villages in the world." The first hunter-gatherer settlement could have started as early as 9300 B.C., followed by early pottery makers, the proto-Hassuna, by 7000 B.C. And unlike the arid regions to the south, the rain remained relatively steady in Erbil over the millennia, so there was no compelling reason to abandon a settlement. By 1400 B.C., as cultures came and went, Erbil became one of the most important cities of the Assyrian Empire, said Dr. Russell, who is an authority on the period.
Look at the pattern in this aerial photo - the concentric rings of the city, the eccentric spiral of roads leading up to the "crater" in the center: the Citadel at the heart of this ancient city, a city within a city... A closer view of the Citadel itself: If you put up with an ad you can see the whole slide show on the NYT's site - the full-size version of the picture above puts this smaller one to shame. In the larger one, you get a very visceral impression of how organic this city's structure is. It's worth the click, even if the article is somewhat annoying at times...

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The Mystery of the Haunted Title

Here's a brainstorming post. Curt from The Groovy Age of Horror finished reading my manuscript and suggested the title might not be doing the book justice (to clarify: he really liked the story). I can see his point about the title since I haven't had success at marketing it to potential agents or publishers. He offered some alternative titles. Feel free to post your thoughts or title suggestions in the comments. God Save — (A Victorian Nightmare) God Save the Queen of the Night Where Vampires Fear To Tread The Stonehenge Vampire Massacre The Stonehenge Monster Massacre Victoriamagoria The Gaslight Apocalypse Gaslight Armageddon Here's some from me inspired by Curt's: Apocalypse by Gaslight God Save The Damned Haunted Beauty The Damned and the Detective Psalm of the Vampire Psalm of the Un-Dead Soul of the Vampire The Secret Vampire War Secret War of the Supernatural The Vampire's Secret Here's some actual titles of William Hope Hodgson's Carnacki short stories for inspiration: The Gateway of the Monster The House Among the Laurels The Whistling Room The Horse of the Invisible The Searcher of the End House

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Gothic-western vampire game review

Wired has a review of CAPCOM's new FPS-with-a-spaghetti-western-and-vampire-twist, Darkwatch, here:

It's 1876. You're Jericho Cross, a train robber. You open a vault that you believe to contain vast riches. It actually contains the spirit of one of the most evil vampires to ever exist. As sort of a special thank-you, he bites you, and now you've got to find and kill him before the curse completely takes hold.
Short version? The reviewer finds it flawed but pretty playable... Color me intrigued; I'm not a hard-core gamer by any stretch of the imagination, and I probably won't pony up a lot of cash for it, but I might see if I can get it through Gamefly (think NetFlix, but for games). Darkwatch is available for the Xbox and PS2 consoles. Official site - requires Flash 7, this link bypasses the stupid age verification screen.

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Monday, August 22, 2005

Ancient Chinese shipwreck

From People's Daily Online:

Archeologist recently discovered a large ancient wooden ship sunk but intact at an ancient harbor site in Penglai of Shandong. Preliminary conjecture attributes that ship to Yuan Dynasty, which was more than 600 years from now in the past. This is the first time in 20 years that China has discovered a large ancient sunken ship.
Sometimes I just post things as notes to myself for future short story fodder.

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Theater ghost spotted

From The Paris (Texas) News:

For years, the Plaza, home of Paris Community Theatre productions, has been rumored to be haunted. Last week, actors and technical crew members of the current production thought they might have proof to back up rumors about Annabelle. During rehearsals for the show, which opened Friday night, crew members working on the stage lights connected a camera in the auditorium to a monitor in the light booth upstairs. To the wonder of the young men, Ryan and Joel Mueller, there was more to be seen on the screen than empty seats and a half-lit stage. “Everyone in the cast had heard about the ghost,” said, Lisa Martin, who directs the play. “Just the week before one of the cast had said something about seeing a misty figure walk through the auditorium. So when the lighting guys told me to come upstairs and see the ghost, I thought they were playing with me.”
Spooky story well worth clicking to read in its entirety.

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Box of Blood

From Monsters and Critics:

After playing for hours with the blood pouch on the front of the box to Anchor Bay’s new collection, suitably titled 'Box of Blood', I finally opened the set like a creaking coffin, scared of what I might find inside. On the whole this is a great box, and the discs do range in quality from Anchor Bay’s vaults of past releases.

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Sunday, August 21, 2005


Infiltration, the zine of abandoned and scary places we're not supposed to go. Hat tip to Keith of Old Haunts in the comments of this cool post by protected static.

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St. Paul's Cathedral, London

Last week, our small hp printer began sending messages of the printer cartridge carriage mechanism being obstructed when there was no apparent sign of trouble. It's the printer that came with the computer and several years old, one of those devices that cost more to service than to buy a replacement. So when a commercial-grade, almost new printer/copier/scanner/fax was up for sale at the church's charity auction on Saturday evening, I asked about it. The owner told me the fax did not work, but everything else worked fine. He had bought a new one for his office and put this one in for the charity sale. I decided to bid on it and got it for $35. Since I don't need a fax machine -- and never had a copier or a scanner at home -- I think I got a pretty good bargain. Especially considering Mr. Shanholtz's coconut cake sold six times and went for a total of more than $350. I hooked the Brother MFC-5200C up and it worked fine. (Did I mention it came with several packs of replacement ink too?) To make a long story short (too late), I now have the ability to scan in some of the photos I took on my trip to the United Kingdom years ago, including some of the sites that inspired scenes in my novel. Here's a photo I took of St. Paul's. I can't remember if it's in the first book, but it currently is in the second book (subject to change since I'm on the first draft and I tend to cut a lot). I'll begin a series soon of photos I took of different locations such as Highgate Cemetery, the British Museum, York, Bath, mentioned in the book with accompanying text.

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Dracula sweeps them off their feet

From The Kathmandu (Nepal) Post:

A crowd of more than 300 party animals shared the dancing floor with walking Draculas, creepy bats and skeletons in the “Dance with the ghosts” theme party organized by Planet MSN at 1905 Kantipath on Friday. Students of Lalit Kala Campus are worth accolades as they had succeeded to give the spooky touch the atmosphere needed. The chilling sound effects created a perfect ambience for the phantom lovers. At the time when theme parties don't work out too well this one was an instant hit with crowd flowing in until midnight. The latest Indian and English musical numbers swept the Dracula devotees off their feet. They seemed to love the company of ghouls as they swayed to the music all night until the wee hours in the morning. The horrifying props all around the venue were not just what the party had in store for the inquisitive mass. A surprise dance package by the professional Mahadev Tripathi and his troop had the crowd swinging. The party never seemed to end but the ghosts loving freaks had one message to deliver– “usher the Halloween in style”.
If I ever get out of here, I'm going to Kathmandu.

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Robert E. Howard

From The Midland (Texas) Reporter Telegram:

By Tumbleweed Smith When I spoke at the Cross Plains Chamber of Commerce banquet last month, some friends told me if I came early I could tour the Robert E. Howard house. I had heard of Howard only as the creator of "Conan the Barbarian." I had no idea of his significance or influence in the world of supernatural and fantasy literature. Howard grew up in Cross Plains and sold his first story to a pulp magazine when he was 17 years old. Soon he was making a penny a word and turning out enough stories to be making more money than anyone else in Cross Plains. He was earning more than his father, who was a doctor. He wrote Westerns, boxing stories and poetry, but what he loved most was to write about the fantasy world he created in his mind. Maps in the Howard house show his imaginary empire, complete with borders, rivers, mountains and forests. They all had intriguing, almost biblical, names.
The name of the writer, Tumbleweed Smith, sounds like the type of name R.E.H. would use for one of his westerns or weird adventures.

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Pacific Northwest ghost conference

From The Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader (Washington state):

The third annual Pacific Northwest Ghost Hunters Conference, is Nov. 11-13 at Fort Worden State Park. About 300 people are expected to register for the conference sponsored by the Amateur Ghost Hunters of Seattle-Tacoma (AGHOST). It's the first time the conference has been staged outside of Seattle.

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A first-person shooter called Geist (German for ghost) allows you to play the role of a ghost.

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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Int'l witch conference

From eMedia Wire:

World Wide Wiccan Educational Conference attracting major Pagan educators and leaders to Albany, New York. Over the Labor Day weekend Wiccans will set out to answer the challenges to their Constitutional rights to practice their religion freely. While it won’t be a World Cup Quidditch match out of a Harry Potter movie, the Witch School Education and Leadership Conference, hosted by the Correllian Nativist Tradition at Trinity Temple in Albany, NY on September 1st through 4th, will draw witches from around the world, both in person and via the internet. While the U.S. Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law for all persons to practice their religion, Wicca, as a faith and practice is being greatly challenged by Christian authorities. These Christian leaders seek every legal means to stop the Wiccan faith from gaining a foothold in the American mainstream. Christian preachers quote 'Never to suffer a Witch to Live' as biblical law. A leading expert on religious and educational reporting requirements, Davron Michaels says, "This conference will help Pagan educators and leaders to understand what steps they must take to secure their rights under the Constitution. Being proactive in securing our rights requires basic education and networking."
I'm a big believer in all people's right to worship or not worship as they choose and for government not to decide in favor either way. Now if you witches will excuse me, I'm off to my Methodist church's ice cream social. Yummmm.

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Little Red Riding Hood's worst nightmare

Assuming Red lives in New England, of course... Feds told to bring gray wolf back to Northeast:

AP - Updated: 3:24 p.m. ET Aug. 19, 2005 MONTPELIER, Vt. - In what environmentalists hailed as a major victory, a federal judge on Friday ordered the Bush administration to step up efforts to restore the gray wolf to Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.
That'll sound better under a full moon than the coyotes that have filled that niche over the past few decades.

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Friday, August 19, 2005

Museum of corpses

Paging Herbert West. Herbert West to the courtesy phone please. From The New York Times:

There are skinless cadavers sliced in two, tarred human lungs in glass cases, dehydrated brains you can touch. One corpse is posed as a soccer player, balancing on one foot and exposing the complex connection of bones, tendons and muscles. Shrugging off recommendations from a state medical board and the Florida attorney general, this city's Museum of Science and Industry opened this educational exhibition of human corpses and body parts on Thursday, two days earlier than planned. By the second day, the show, "Bodies: The Exhibition," had drawn about 3,600 visitors. "Our main reason for opening early was that we've been inundated with calls and e-mails," said Candace Street, a museum spokeswoman. But given the opposition of state officials, it was clear that the museum wanted to admit as many visitors as quickly as possible - ticket price, $19.95 - in case Florida authorities moved to close the exhibition. The intense interest in the show can be partly credited to a controversy over the origins of the specimens. The cadavers on display are those of 20 mostly middle-aged Chinese women and men; 260 other body parts are also among the exhibits.
Lots of gruesome photos and details at the site.

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I went over to one of Cookie Jill's sites and saw some terribly sad news regarding the family of one of her friends. I often think of my love of horror as an escape from ordinary horrors, a whistling past the graveyard if you will. Sometimes there's no escaping from reality, however, and so I offer my condolences and prayers to people I don't know.

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Horrorfind Weekend

The Spookiest Show On Earth! Doesn't look like I'm going to be able to make it this year. I'm missing it for our church's annual ice cream social and charity auction of all things.

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Owen King

Stephen King's son Owen King has joined the family business. Hat tip to Cookie Jill.

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National Ghost Month

This is National Ghost Month in Taiwan.

Many people in Taiwan will go to temples or hold rituals at their homes on Friday to celebrate "Chung Yuan," or "Ghost Festival," a holiday that falls on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month to fete the departed spirits of the underworld. The festival is part of a local tradition that provides people with an opportunity to strengthen their links with other people in this society, and to show their respect for the dead and how they treasure their human lives. The Chinese refer to the seventh lunar month as "Ghost Month," during which people should abide by certain taboos and avoid traveling afar for better luck in the coming year. The first day of the month, which fell on August 5, is called the "Opening of the Gates of the Hades, meaning that gates of Hell are flung open to allow the ghosts and spirits of the nether world into the world of the living for a month of feasts of food and wine. During the Ghost Festival, prodigious tables of wine and meat are offered to one's ancestors and ghosts from the underworld. In Taiwan, ghosts without descendants to care for them are euphemistically called "Good Brethren." The festival is thus often referred to as "praying to the Good Brethren." Numerous "Putu" activities are held at this time around the island, crowned by the grand ghost day ceremony held in the northern port city of Keelung that often draws tens of thousands of visitors every year. This earthly party will come to an end on the 30th day of the month, or on September 3 this year, which is also called the "Closing of the Gates of Hades." Today the Ghost Festival is more modest than in the past in grandeur and scale as the government encourages more frugal forms of prayer in folk customs. However, this custom, an extension of the traditional ethic of universal love, will still be preserved as a time for remembering the importance of filial piety and other virtues.
That sounds like a tremendous month and one I intend to fully celebrate (yes, every month is Ghost Month here at The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire.) On a related note, please welcome Prosian Thoughts to the sidebar. He's blogging from Malaysia where they are celebrating Hungry Ghost Month.

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Friday vampire cat blogging

I see blood-red people. Hat tip to PhillyGal.

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Speaking in tongues

Regional tongues, that is... Not a horror post, but a little detour into anthropology and history that might be of interest to writers: the BBC has a site dedicated to exploring the various dialects of England, Scotland, Wales & N. Ireland, as well as looking at how Anglican English has evolved (and continues to evolve). Recordings of the voices can be found here:

What are the Voices recordings? The Voices recordings are the most significant popular survey of regional English ever undertaken around the UK. Three hundred recorded conversations involve a total of 1,201 people talking about accent and dialect, the words they use, and their attitudes to language. Of the conversations, 280 are in English; nine are in Welsh, five in Scots Gaelic, three in Irish, three in Ulster Scots, and one each in Manx and Guernsey French.
I remember reading in an issue of Smithsonian about the dialects of the role players at Plimoth Plantation, a recreation of 17th century Colonial life in New England. In all, the staff there use 17 different dialects to represent a colony of approx. 200 English settlers! (The exact number is unknown - a 1627 document detailing who was entitled to what livestock lists 12 groups of 12 or 13 people, but people like servants were probably not included.) An interesting reminder of the diversity within apparently homogeneous groups, as well as a decent writing resource/inspiration as well!

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Support The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire

I know this is a last minute effort. But if you support The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire, wear blue jeans to the office tomorrow (work dress codes/laundry issues permitting). Let's see how many people show their enjoyment of The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire by wearing blue jeans.* You don't have to say anything to your colleagues. Just smile and nod knowingly that they too read and enjoy The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire. I bet there are a lot more Haunted Vampires in society than we realize. * If you can't wear blue jeans, wear something blood red. You know how vampires are blood thirsty. UPDATED: 4:23 p.m. Friday. Wow! Thanks to all for my first Support Our Mystery of the Haunted Vampire Friday! I never realized there were so many of my blog readers out there. Saw people wearing blue jeans across the land. Didn't see a single person wearing blood-red, but that's OK. I'm glad people went with the first option. Again, thanks to all for showing their support by wearing blue jeans today. I know that asked a lot of you. Maybe not quite as demanding as putting a magnet on the back of the car or truck, but nevertheless I am overwhelmed and more than eager to carry on with my mission. ;^>

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"Visual Intoxication"

I'm feeling very... ocular today... Pre-Raphaelite & Symbolist art here:

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vacant places, fleeting images

Dark Passage: 'urban archaeology' - photos and photo essays detailing abandoned and creepy places and spaces: mental hospitals, train tunnels, power stations. One of their essays details a train tunnel in Providence, RI - at the end of which sits the former funeral parlor where Lovecraft's funeral was held. They also hold (held?) themed events in the NY Metro area. Linked with Dark Passage, we have Mustard Gas Party, a site of photographic essays done in a mix of black & white, color, and infrared film. Check out Model Settlement, one of their most recent essays. Courtesy of one of our site visitors, who came here from Stacie Ponder's blog - I found the link to Dark Passage while checking out Stacie's main site.

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More on Batman vs. Dracula

A comic book artist working on a tie-in with the upcoming direct-to-DVD feature of Batman vs. Dracula has seen it:

Upon seeing a rough cut of the The Batman Versus Dracula DTV to aid in his writing the comic, Manning said he enjoyed the feature, and was surprised with the very dark tone of the feature. "I was actually pretty surprised by the movie overall," says Manning. "It's much darker than I expected, kind of bringing a Blade-quality to the legend of Dracula"
I loved it when the X-Men took on Dracula years (decades?) ago. The DVD is out Oct. 18th. The comic book, set as a prequel, is out Nov. 2.

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Where the ghosts dwell

From the Casa Grande Valley News:

Jillian O'Mara of Jillian's Kitchen restaurant asserts her former Lehmberg Avenue home had a woman spirit with "negative energy." O'Mara said friends would stop and wave to someone in the upstairs window. When they ventured into the room where the woman was spied, there was no one. The resident of a home on 10th Avenue said she believes there are three spirits residing with her. She claims to have a little girl who plays at the back of the house, an older man dressed in black "Amish" clothes and an older woman who came with her from Phoenix five years ago. She said she can see them all. "He likes to watch you," said the dark-haired woman who lives in the home. "If you walk into my bedroom, it's like a wall and you feel a force, you can't get in. It feels like there are a lot of people in my room," she added. The little girl will sometimes show herself to people and the older man scares her at times, she said. "This town is full of them. The stone (historical) museum is full of them. My grandmother once told me I am special," she said of her sensitivity to the paranormal.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Salem witch hunt

Here's an American history lesson to remember: Persecution of people is not a good thing. That wouldn't seem hard to forget, but some people have thick skulls and small brains, walking proof for the theory of de-evolution. Interesting article on Salem witch hunts in The Telegraph:

Spectral apparitions, red rats and talking cats; a community threatened by unseen demonic powers; and finally, a collective hysteria that left hundreds unjustly accused, and almost two dozen innocent victims hanging from the town's gallows: it is not hard to see why the witches of Salem - the Massachusetts village 17 miles north of Boston - have constituted a troubling presence in America's otherwise generally sunny, go-getting historical consciousness. Within a few years of the event, the great "witch-hunt" of 1692 was already regarded, almost embarrassingly, as the dark side of the Pilgrim Fathers' zealous puritan piety; a nasty blot of medieval superstition on the decent copybook of God-fearing American rationality. Little wonder that Arthur Miller reworked the story in his 1953 play, The Crucible, as an allegory of Senator McCarthy's anti-Communist witch-hunts, then sweeping the US. And, of course, it is Miller's version of those events with which we are most familiar. Yet, as Richard Francis ably demonstrates in this new book, the historical truth was even stranger - and no less dramatic - than Miller's fiction. The events at Salem constituted not simply a self-contained outburst of irrationality, Francis argues, but a defining moment in the history of early America: one in which can be discerned both the demons of the puritan past (the preoccupation of the Miller play), and also the harbingers of "modernity" - of a new, and far more sceptical attitude within the colony to the values and prejudices of the first generation of New Englanders.
This reminds me of something...Something more recent...The treatment of prisoners, including young children raped and people beaten to death at Abu Ghraib? Nasty blot there. Michelle Malkin's defense of racism? Possibly. The glorification of the shooting death of an innocent electrician on a London subway? Maybe. The second-class citizenship for gay people? The disrespect shown to people of no faith or to Wiccans and people of other faiths besides Christianity? Hmmm. An abundance of riches for future embarrassments and "nasty blots" on our national heritage.

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Ghost busters busted

From Newsday:

WEST HAVEN, Conn. -- Police have arrested more than a dozen people who broke into an old factory, apparently to find some ghosts. The group of mostly teenagers entered the old American Buckle Co. factory on Campbell Avenue after breaking into the adjacent and closed Christopher John Michael's cafe Monday, police spokesman Sgt. Paul Raucci said. A Web site that describes the factory as one of the city's most ghost-ridden buildings apparently inspired their visit.
Not surprisingly, alcohol was involved.

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Dracula robbery

From The Ann Arbor News police log:

A party store owner threw the cash register at a masked gunman and chased him from the business with a piece of lumber during a robbery attempt Tuesday evening, Ann Arbor Police reported. The 53-year-old owner said he was alone at Broadway Party Store in the 1000 block of Broadway Street at 8:25 p.m. when a man wearing a Dracula mask entered, reports said. The owner said the man pointed a handgun at him and told him to give up the money, so he threw the cash register at him and then grabbed a 2-by-4, reports said. The owner chased the man from the store, and he escaped on foot without getting anything from the store, reports said. The owner was unable to give a description of the would-be robber since he was wearing a mask, police said.
How does the store owner know the robber wore a mask? Perhaps Count Dracula regrets the gold he lost during the pursuit by Jonathan Harker and the other vampire hunters.

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Riches to rival Troy

Indiana Jones to the white courtesy phone; paging Dr. Jones - 4,100-year-old treasure found in Bulgaria. I can't do it justice, so perhaps a picture will suffice, what with that 1,000:1 exchange rate and all that:

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Haunted Edinburgh

Here's a tour for me. From The Scotsman:

As we descend the two flights of stairs, a breeze whispers past by my face and plays a haunting melody down my spine. If I was less level-headed I would find it all a bit unsettling, as if someone was warning me to turn back. The six-hour Vaults Vigil, operated by Mercat Tours, leads a few daring individuals down into the depths of a dismal past, where the spirits of the dead live on to bother the living. Candles and small lanterns light the vaults and create a subtly sinister ambience that at once alarms and allures. Leaking walls bleed damp, cold water onto the dirty and uneven floor. The temperature remains constant – until it plummets chillingly - which I am assured is a sign of a ghostly presence. snip Everyone is given recorders that allow us to gauge the frequency of the surrounding energy. Ghosts can be detected at the push of a button. But here in the gloom, if I stop long enough, I don't feel the need of an electronic monitor to sense the spidery filaments of other lives. Built in 1788, the vaults were storage compartments, jewellers, pubs and fabric stores that were evacuated a mere seven years later as the premises began to flood. Brothels and gambling flourished in this vacant area, but by 1820 the leaking became so severe that even the illegitimate enterprises dissolved. Before the vaults permanently closed in 1830, squatters and criminals moved in and turned the place into a disease-ridden slum. In the Tavern vault, my tour guides, Gary and Struan, explain a number of theories about paranormal activity. "Ghosts and spirits," advises Gary, "draw heat out of living bodies in order to materialise, which explains the decrease in temperature around victims…" We all shiver and the drop…drop…drop of the leaking room echoes through the damp, pungent room. "Another theory," continues Gary, as we move out of the Tavern, "is that the vaults are a 'weak point' for spirits to come through - just as Halloween is a 'weak date'".
Entire story well worth the click.

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Witch wins

From CNN:

Now Darla Wynne wants Great Falls to pay her more than $65,000 to cover legal bills. A judge is expected to rule on the matter within the next two months. Wynne, who describes herself as a Wiccan priestess, sued Great Falls in 2001, saying the town violated the separation between church and state by using the name Jesus Christ in prayers because it promoted one religion, Christianity, over the another. The money is not covered by insurance, and it is unclear where the town of about 2,200 residents would get the cash. The amount is about 7 percent of its annual budget. "It'll be an enormous undertaking for us," town attorney Michael Hemlepp said. Wynne's lawyer said attorneys had incurred only about $18,000 in expenses before the town decided to appeal. "We spent two years in extra litigation while they went to the U.S. Supreme Court, and I think the case was clear from the beginning," said attorney Herbert Buhl. The Rev. Michael Sollers, pastor of Evangel Temple Assembly of God, said most of the town supported the council's decision to keep fighting the case and would be willing to help pay the legal fees.
Really? I suspect the residents will not be happy about paying the legal bills for this blatant attempt to discriminate based on religious preference.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Bloggers of the night! What sweet posts they make...

I'm happy to pimp Dark, But Shining's Kevin's upcoming western horror comic and not just because he's a fellow horror blogger, but because it sounds like a really cool story. There's lots of good treats at Old Haunts, but these crackers bite back! Speaking of Keith, have you tried his Deviled Ham yet? Am I the only one who wonders how he finds the time to do so many great blogs? I'm not saying he made a deal with the devil...but have you seen his latest blog? Exclamation Mark slips in some zombie poison. Mondo Schlocko leads us to a tour of the Bates Motel that's worth checking in out. Corpse Eaters has a riveting Q&A with the legendary Ray Harryhausen! And Bibi's box brings us this horrifying image of terrifying monsters! Several blogs -- Bubblegumfink, Groovy Age of Horror, Ghost in the Machine, Final Girl, Warren Zone, Schaukasten and M Valdemar -- are on hiatus. I'm really looking forward to their return.

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'Paranormal is the new normal'

I'm not sure I like this. I prefer the supernatural remain in the shadowy, cobwebbed corners of society. I prefer the dark. From the New York Daily News:

On TV these days, paranormal is the new normal. Van Praagh, a best-selling author of several books on communicating with spirits, is now the executive producer of "Ghost Whisperer," an upcoming CBS series that stars Jennifer Love Hewitt as a newlywed who talks to the dead. Following in the otherworldly footsteps of NBC's similarly themed drama, "Medium," "Ghost Whisperer" is based on an actual psychic, and is just one of a slew of new shows about the paranormal — all featuring real-life ghost hunters, crime-solving mediums or supposedly haunted places. "I predicted this would happen five years ago on 'Larry King,' right after 'The Sixth Sense' came out," says Van Praagh, referring to the 1999 hit film about a boy who sees dead people. "But what's so amazing," he adds, "is how it's become much more acceptable in the mainstream, where you're now seeing more and more of these types of shows."

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Film Festival of the Damned

Film Festival of the Damned.

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The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire is opposed to desecration of memorial markers. UPDATE. I'm not alone in being opposed to desecration. Several noble people are opposed too. Here and most especially here.

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Monday, August 15, 2005

"I’m writing [...] because I passionately love monsters..."

The online literary magazine, Believer, has an (older) interview with one of my current favorite authors, China Miéville. For those of you unfamiliar with his work, think dark, weird fantasy. Really dark. Really weird. The interviewer describes it as "...Middle Earth meets Dickensian London on really good acid." I can't personally speak to the wonders of the lysergic spectrum, good or otherwise, but that characterization probably isn't too far off. From the interview:

I’m a science fiction and fantasy geek. I love this stuff. And when I write my novels, I’m not writing them to make political points. I’m writing them because I passionately love monsters and the weird and horror stories and strange situations and surrealism, and what I want to do is communicate that. But, because I come at this with a political perspective, the world that I’m creating is embedded with many of the concerns that I have. But I never let them get in the way of the monsters.
From an earlier piece Miéville authored for The Guardian:
I'm in this business for the monsters. My single favourite monsters are the beastmen in The Island of Doctor Moreau. I love the octopoid creatures and the giant swine spirit in William Hope Hodgson. I have a lot of time for pig monsters. I've always liked being terrified of monsters from underwater coming up, like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. There's a picture of Beatrix Potter's Jeremy Fisher with the trout about to bite his foot and he hasn't seen it yet. Completely terrifying.
Wikipedia page on Miéville here. Worthless corporate publisher's page here. Full text of Guardian piece here.

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Last week, curt from The Groovy Age of Horror made a great suggestion that I read George Macdonald's Victorian-era horror novel Lilith since she is a central character in my horror manuscript. My novel uses several characters from Victorian literature and it would be easy enough to make a few changes as a nod to George Macdonald's classic. Today's thought for today from a spiritual site I subscribe to was this:

Annihilation itself is no death to evil. Only good where evil was, is evil dead. An evil thing must live with its evil until it chooses to be good. That alone is the slaying of evil. Why did God allow evil to enter the world? Source: George Macdonald, "Lilith"
I do not want to give any spoilers to my manuscript, but I got a chill down my spine reading that quote.

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Theory of gravity

Since the teaching of the theory of evolution is now being subjected to the "he said/she said" treatment at public schools with the teaching of biblical creationism, does this mean the teaching of gravity will receive similar treatment by the Christian right? Because there are many theories regarding gravity, does this mean we should throw scientific knowledge out the window? Perhaps we shouldn't even teach students about gravity since the Bible doesn't mention it. However, for those of us who believe in the separation of church and state, we should consider whether the right-wing faux Christians have reached their zenith and what currently is up will soon come crashing down.

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"Zombies are not [...] metaphors"

Heh. Indeed:

But really, zombies are not “supposed to be metaphors.” They’re supposed to be friggin’ zombies. They follow the Zombie Rules: they rise from death to eat the flesh of the living, they shuffle in slow pursuit (or should, anyway), and most important, they multiply exponentially. They bring civilization down, taking all but the most resourceful, lucky and well-armed among us, whom they save for last. They make us the hunted; all of us.
Quite the rant on people who don't 'get' fantastic writing. Read the comments for gems like this:
When I'm in a particularly bitchy mood, I tend to suspect that the sort of reader/reviewer who has trouble understanding that zombies in sf and fantasy are meant to be actual, real, materially present zombies in addition to whatever freight of meaning and metaphor they may be dragging in their shuffling wake is the sort of reader who is unwilling to step backwards toward childhood long enough to play a wholehearted game of Let's Pretend. When I'm feeling even bitchier than that, I tend to suspect that the people who worry most about being forced to relinquish their Grownup Society Membership Cards are the very ones who are the least secure in their possession of same.
I love this blog - Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden write and edit for Tor Books, and produce a very erudite blog that frequently manages to produce some of the best comment threads out there, attracting as it does people from all aspects of fandom & writing.

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Not that I've been on a lost worlds kick or anything, but this morning I stumbled across this:

Tsunami clue to 'Atlantis' found A submerged island that could be the source of the Atlantis myth was hit by a large earthquake and tsunami 12,000 years ago, a geologist has discovered. Spartel Island now lies 60m under the sea in the Straits of Gibraltar, but some think it once lay above water.
Lest we get too excited, I feel I would be remiss should I not point out additional Atlantis articles on the Beeb here, here, here, here, here, and here. The BBC also has a great page for their series Ancient Apocalypse which examined historical collapses here. [Right after I published this, I found the homepage for the BBC science program Horizon which has broadcast a number of shows on lost civilizations, including this one on a land-locked Greek city which may also have been the inspiration for Atlantis. The Horizon archives have a number of stories that could provide plenty of grist for the horror writer's mill: plagues, lost civilizations, alternate dimensions... good stuff.]

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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Dead pets

Dead Pets Game. Dark and twisted...and addicting. Hat tip to cookie jill, a woman after my own heart (to keep in a jar no doubt).

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Haunted school

Police in Redland, Calif., are installing video cameras in an elementary school in an attempt to either capture a ghost's image or put an end to the rumors the school is haunted. Neighbors are tired of ghost-hunting trespassers. From The Press-Enterprise (with annoying, but free registration):

Internet apocrypha claim Billy died in the school nurse's office as long as 50 years ago, though the campus is only 41 years old. In some versions of the story, Billy was run over by a school bus. Others have the boy cracking his head on the school playground's blacktop while playing on the swings. Whatever the cause of his demise, the stories claim that Billy loved the school so much that he stayed. Believers say that if a visitor knocks on the school's office door three times at night, Billy will knock back. People who claim to have experienced a ghost describe hearing voices and seeing an unoccupied playground swing suddenly begin to move. snip Both Dewees and Ken Tolar, 56, a business-support-services coordinator for Redlands schools, link the legend to an accident that occurred outside the school more than 30 years ago. Tolar, who taught sixth-graders at Mariposa in the early 1970s, said the accident happened in 1972, and unlike in the legend, the victim didn't die on school grounds, wasn't a Mariposa student and probably wasn't even named Billy. What happened, Tolar said, was a boy between 8 and 11 years old came screaming down Puesta del Sol on a bicycle. The hilly road dead-ends at the elementary school, and the boy ran the stop sign and was hit by a truck. "We didn't bring him into the office," Tolar said. "We never brought him on campus because he was so critical. The Fire Department just scooped him up." But the legend began, fueled by noises made by a mechanical clock in the school office. Even though the mechanical clock has been replaced by a digital one, the desire to visit Billy's ghost hasn't diminished. Police records show that officers went to Mariposa at least 143 times in 2003 -- responding to three times as many calls generated by any of the district's other eight elementary schools in Redlands. In the first nine months of 2004, Mariposa was the source of 40 percent of all police calls to Redlands elementary schools.

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Ghost buster obit

University professor and noted "ghost buster" Robert Baker died. From The Seattle Times:

Robert Baker, a University of Kentucky psychology professor emeritus and a leading "ghost buster" who worked on the premise that "there are no haunted places, only haunted people," died Aug. 8 at his home in Lexington, Ky. He had congestive heart failure. He was 84. Mr. Baker was foremost a skeptic, believing that one could not assume from the start that unusual phenomena — ghosts, UFO abductions, lake monsters, remembrances of past lives — were real. In books and scholarly articles, he argued that they could be explained as mental states, that abductions by aliens, for example, were hallucinations — or "waking dreams" — that occur in the twilight zone between fully awake and fully asleep. Much of his work involved being a sympathetic counselor to those who thought they were being toyed with or tortured by unexplainable forces.

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Gothic Martha Stewart

Via a link posted earlier by protected static, I also saw this: Gothic Martha Stewart.

For quite some time, those of us on the newsgroup have discussed similar little projects that we could do to make our homes as beautifully gothic as our wardrobes. Many of our projects were direct adaptations of Martha's Good Things -- except we used scraps of black velvet, vintage lace, purple satin ribbons, dried blood-red roses, and other typically goth things we had around the house. Little did Martha realize how easily her elegant eggshell blues and seafoam greens could be turned to black and burgundy! If Martha Stewart were really gothic, color is the only thing she'd have to change. Her central ideas are already well-suited to the gothic subculture. Martha adores finding old linens and gently worn furniture at flea markets. She sews a lot of her own household dressings. She paints and experiments with unusual painting techniques on objects small and large. She loves flowers, live and dried. Her style flirts with Victorian, Art Deco, and modern elements and frequently mixes them into a very beautiful mishmash. And even though her surroundings look very rich, many of her ideas are created from rather simple and inexpensive materials, like fabric scraps and secondhand dishes.

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10,000 maniacs

Hat tip to frequent visitor parallaxview who noticed we've hit 10,000 visits to The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire. Very appropriately, the 10,000th visitor came by a yahoo search for "vampire sex." That's us, the No. 11th site out of 10.3 million sites for vampire sex. Special thanks to all who have pimped us along the way. Without you guys, I'd be at my 1,000th hit today instead.

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Here there be dragons

Not just any kind of dragons: flying dragons. In the sky over Tibet. With photographs. [via MSNBC's "Clicked"]

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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Lost tribes

Among those affected by Israel's current Gaza pullout - a group of Jews from India:

[...] among the settlers are a highly unusual group of approximately 250 people, originally from north-east India, who call themselves the Bnei Menashe. They converted to Judaism believing themselves to be descendants of one of the ancient lost tribes of Israel - and moved to Jewish settlements in Gaza and the West Bank. They now face another move and an uncertain future.
Their history:
In approximately 721 B.C.E., the Assyrians invaded the northern kingdom [of Israel], exiled the ten tribes living there and enslaved them in Assyria. The oral history of Bnei Menashe that was passed down for 2,700 years describes their escape from slavery in Assyria to Media/Persia. From there they moved on to Afghanistan, mostly through less-traveled areas, ever on the lookout for kings or powerful people who might drag them back to slavery. From Afghanistan they traveled toward Hindu-Kush and proceeded to Tibet, then to Kaifeng, reaching the Chinese city around 240 B.C.E. The Bnei Menashe believe that while in China their ancestors were enslaved yet again. During their years there, large numbers of the Israelites were killed and their assimilation started. These events caused the Israelites to flee and live in caves. The group was expelled in 100 C.E. and their "leather scrolls" were confiscated and burned. At that point different groups went in various directions. Some went down the Mekong River into Vietnam, the Philippines, Siam, Thailand and Malaysia, while some of the Israelites moved to Burma and west to India. Till today, some people refer to these people as "Shinlung" the "cave dwellers."
Fascinating stuff... I wonder if they've done any DNA testing on them? In most other cases of which I'm aware, the DNA testing has supported the oral traditions.

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Latter-day curse of the mummy

Mummy smugglers jailed for life:

Those found guilty included the former head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, Abdul Karim Abu Shanab. He was accused of giving smugglers certificates showing genuine artefacts were imitations, so they could be carried through customs.
According to the article, the Egyptians convicted 3 men for smuggling relics estimated at US$ 50 million. Life in an Egyptian jail cell: now that's what I call a curse.

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Friday, August 12, 2005

Friday vampire cat blogging

Katia BR calls this one "Bigode":

[and cookie jill gets the assist...]

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Who killed Mr. Moonlight?

All our stories burnt Our films lost in the rushes We can't paint any pictures As the moon had all our brushes

Bauhaus. On tour. Tickets on sale soon (in less than 30 minutes for the Seattle show). I discovered their music about 3 or 4 years after they broke up, and leapt at the chance to see them for their Resurrection tour in '94? '95? Drove from St. Louis to Chicago for one of the best shows of my life...

FYI for any Seattle or NYC people trying to get the fan-club presale tickets: Bauhaus' website says that the code is 'Bela' - Ticketmaster's website only recognizes 'bela'. It took me about 5 minutes to figure out that one... But figure it out I did; just got my email confirmation. [happy dance] [lyrics courtesy of - a reluctant hat tip to Ticketmaster's spam machine...]

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

For the love of God, Montressor!

"Yes", I said, "for the love of God! Can't we wall this one up, too? An abomination that should never see the light of day again: Nicolas Cage starring in a remake of The Wicker Man. As the dour, repressed Sgt. Howie. sigh Even if I hadn't spent so many years using the moniker 'wickerman' online, I'd still be disgusted... dismayed... disappointed... The OED hasn't enough 'dis' words to convey my, well, displeasure with this development. Get me to the wine cellar... Oh, Nicolas - care to sample an interesting sherry? [hat tip to Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat]

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