The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

To The Warmongers

I'm back again from Hell With loathsome thoughts to sell; Secrets of death to tell; And horrors from the abyss. Young faces bleared with blood, Sucked down into the mud, You shall hear things like this, Till the tormented slain Crawl round and once again, With limbs that twist awry Moan out their brutish pain, As the fighters pass them by. For you our battles shine With triumph half-divine; And the glory of the dead Kindles in each proud eye. But a curse is on my head, That shall not be unsaid, And the wounds in my heart are red, For I have watched them die. - Siegfried Sassoon, 1917

Hat tip to Cedwyn.

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The angry dead

Image Hosted by Yet another publication writes about zombie flic Homecoming. From City Pages:

How's this for a sneaky horror-film allegory? On the eve of an alarmingly tight U.S. presidential election, American soldiers who died in a Middle East war based on public deception suddenly rise from their coffins and lumber toward the nation's polling booths, tipping the scale against a chicken-hawk incumbent whose advisor admires his "way of making stupid people feel that they're just as smart as he is." The hour-long Homecoming, made for Showtime's "Masters of Horror" series by the eternally underrated Joe Dante (Gremlins, Small Soldiers), represents something rare in the hundred-year history of American horror: a mass-market thriller whose biting topicality is as unmistakable as an oozing flesh wound. At the very least, this hilarious tale of supernatural vindication finds Dante boldly resurrecting the tradition of B-movie rib-poking that perished in the early '80s when another regular-guy executive in the White House handed near-total control of film exhibition--a weapon of mass deception, you could say--to the corporations.

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protected static and cookie jill have posted about this Showtime horror anthology series. Now everyone is writing about it or so it seems. Via Eschaton who got it from Catch who got it from The Village Voice, director Joe Dante talks about his episode in the series, Homecoming:

"This is a horror story because most of the characters are Republicans," director Joe Dante announced before the November 13 world premiere of his latest movie, Homecoming, at the Turin Film Festival. Republicans, as it happens, will be the ones who find Homecoming's agitprop premise scariest: In an election year, dead veterans of the current conflict crawl out of their graves and stagger single-mindedly to voting booths so they can eject the president who sent them to fight a war sold on "horseshit and elbow grease." The dizzying high point of Showtime's new Masters of Horror series, the hour-long Homecoming (which premieres December 2) is easily one of the most important political films of the Bush II era. With its only slightly caricatured right-wingers, the film nails the casual fraudulence and contortionist rhetoric that are the signatures of the Bush-Cheney administration. Its dutiful hero, presidential consultant David Murch (Jon Tenney), reports to a Karl Rove–like guru named Kurt Rand (Robert Picardo) and engages in kinky power fucks with attack-bitch pundit Jane Cleaver (Thea Gill), a blonde, leggy Ann Coulter proxy with a "No Sex for All" tank top and "BSH BABE" license plates. Murch's glib, duplicitous condescension is apparently what triggers the zombie uprising: Confronting an angry mother of a dead soldier on a news talk show, he tells this Cindy Sheehan figure, "If I had one wish . . . I would wish for your son to come back," so he could assure the country of the importance of the war. The boy does return, along with legions of fallen combatants, and they all beg to differ. snip Dante and writer Sam Hamm (Batman) adapted Homecoming from Dale Bailey's "Death and Suffrage," a 2002 short story that puts a morbidly literal spin on the idea of the dead being used to pad the Chicago voting roll. (The film also owes something to the low-budget 'Nam-era Dead of Night, in which a "Monkey's Paw" wish brings an undead veteran back to his family home.) Though Bush is never named, Homecoming tailors its provocative scenario to accommodate a devastatingly specific checklist of accusations, from the underreporting of war casualties to last November's dubious Ohio count. As if in defiance of the Pentagon's policy to ban photographs of dead soldiers' coffins, Dante's film shows not just the flag-draped caskets at Dover Air Force Base but their irate occupants bursting out of them. "There's a lot of powerful imagery in this movie that has nothing to do with me," Dante says. "When you see those coffins, which is a sight that's generally been withheld from us, there's a gravity to it. Even though there's comedy in the movie, there's something basically so serious and depressing about the subject that it never gets overwhelmed by satire." snip "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see what a fucking mess we're in," he continues. "It's been happening steadily for the past four years, and nobody said peep. The New York Times and all these people that abetted the lies and crap that went into making and selling this war—now that they see the guy is a little weak, they're kicking him with their toe to make sure he doesn't bite back. It's cowardly. This pitiful zombie movie, this fucking B movie, is the only thing anybody's done about this issue that's killed 2,000 Americans and untold numbers of Iraqis? It's fucking sick." While gratified by the warm reception to Homecoming in Turin, Dante says he's eager for the right-wing punditocracy back home to see it: "I hope this movie bothers a lot of people that disagree with it—and that it makes them really pissed off, as pissed off as the rest of us are."
If atrios and others read The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire, they would have already known what an exciting, horrific series Showtime was presenting.

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Victorian horrors

From The Little Professor, a list of gaslight-era horror sources covering everything from the supernatural we so love here at MotHV to the all-too real terrors of true crime (that, truth be told, we also love dearly at MotHV). Don't ask me to trace the Brownian motion that led to my discovering this site... Suffice it to say that during this evening's web shambling, I also found a fun article on an anti-resurrectionist device (a Victorian Claymore mine-style boobytrap for coffins). Both of these sites were discovered via Three-Toed Sloth's (excellent) Halloween post, though I'll be damned if I can reconstruct exactly how I wound up there. Oh well... So it goes.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Susanna Clarke on Crooked Timber

Susanna Clarke, the author of Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, takes part in one of Crooked Timber's seminars to discuss her novel:

In addition to writing JS&MN, Susanna has written three short stories set in the same (or a closely related?) setting, which were originally published in Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s Starlight, Starlight 2 and Starlight 3 collections, as well as a short short available on the book’s website. We’re delighted that Susanna has been kind enough to participate in a Crooked Timber seminar. John Quiggin argues that the book returns to science fiction’s roots in the examination of the consequences of the Industrial Revolution. Maria Farrell argues that the book is a collision between the imagined Regency England of Jane Austen and romance novels on the one hand, and the real Regency England on the other. Belle Waring asks who the narrator of the book is, and where the female magicians are (she speculates that the two questions may have converging answers). John Holbo examines magic, irony, and Clarke’s depiction of servants. Henry Farrell argues that the hidden story of JS&MN is a critique of English society. Susanna Clarke responds to all the above.
Good stuff, CT. As with all of their seminars, all posts are open to comments; the organizers ask that open questions be posted to Susanna's post alone... Thanks to PZ at Pharnygula for the notice - CT is only on my 'occasionally read' list, but I do love their seminars.

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New Lanark's ghosts investigated

At long last, Ghost Finders Scotland has posted the report of the New Lanark investigation.

The mills of New Lanark were built, over 200 years ago by David Dale. The village was managed by Dale’s son-in-law, Robert Owen, who provided decent homes, fair wages, free healthcare, education and the world’s first nursery school. New Lanark has been carefully restored as a living community which opens its doors to visitors. There have been many reported sightings in various areas of the village. Figures have been seen and presences have been felt by staff, visitors and guests alike.
EVP recording. Unknown investigator: Do you still want us to leave? Voice: Yes, get out of here."

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Cthulhu as a role model

The Wessex (UK) Scene has a delightful bit of snark on choosing a role model worthy of imitating.

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Ghost of the shopping gallery

From the Long Beach (Calif.) Beachcomber:

Shoppers and employees alike have been mystified by the ghost of Z Gallerie. Some write it off as overactive imaginations or inventive practical jokes, but ask the employees and most of them will have at least one unexplainable occurrence that happened to them. “I came in one morning and the lamps that were sitting on a table the night before were turned upside down and placed on the floor very methodically,” says Greta Tice, associate manager of three years. Could someone have come in the night before to play a trick? Perhaps, but that doesn’t explain how pillows can fly off shelves in front of employees and shoppers. “I was with a customer one day when pillows jumped off the shelf. The customer was startled and left the store,” says salesperson Paul Finley who has had many run-ins with something he can’t explain. “One time I was up on the third floor when I heard a child’s voice saying, “Let me out!” What sounded like a small child banging on a door turned out to be nothing as Paul opened it. With that incident and some others, many employees refrain from going up there, especially at night.

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Final Girl survives a convention

Stacie Ponder of Final Girl has a very funny post on her experience at the Mid-Ohio Con.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Ghosts of Cambodia

You'd think that the people of a nation like Cambodia, scene of the man-made horrors of Pol Pot's genocidal reign, wouldn't need the supernatural to give themselves the chills. Well, as it happens, you'd be quite mistaken:

Vampire and ghost stories top the bill as Cambodian film festival opens PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Cambodia's struggling film industry -- undergoing a revival after being obliterated by communist rule in the 1970s -- opened its second national film festival Monday with vampire and ghost stories dominating the competition entries. Nine of the 22 entries were horror movies, but government leaders told local stars and producers gathered for the film festival preview that if they want to succeed, they must steer away from superstition and move toward realism. Filmmakers should choose themes "more relevant to reality in Cambodia," if they want to succeed, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said in the festival's opening speech.
Leave it to a politician to pontificate on what's relevant to reality, eh? (the wanker) Regardless, this is a pretty big deal: it has been almost 15 years since Cambodia's last national film festival. I tried Googling for the film festival's official site, but came up blank... It might be in Khmer only, so that English googling comes up snake eyes. It might also be that there just isn't that large of a Cambodian presence on the web - the only sites I could find through Google were some tourism sites based in Vietnam or Thailand, some Japanese government sites, and some ex-pat sites run by Cambodians abroad. It may be a combination of these factors. Whatever the reason, I'm sorry; I don't have anything to which I can directly link. That's really a shame - I was curious to see if the films are Western homages or if they are based in Cambodian folklore and legend.

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The "natural" history of ghosts

From Sunderland Today:

Do ghosts have a natural lifespan on our mortal earth? It could be – though there are some ghosts that seem to defy such explanations and remain active for decades, even centuries. One such plagued a house on the other side of the river, at North Hylton. This house, known as North Hylton Grange, was demolished in 1949 after a fire, but its site is well known. It was here that a gentleman in Regency dress used to appear. Dressed in fine velvet, he would stalk the house, rattling doors and tapping on windows. As ghosts go, he was both active and remarkably solid. But then his "home" burned and was knocked down until nothing remained. And the ghost went with it.
It's a fun article, well worth reading... We've blogged about the Ghosthunter column in Sunderland Today before - since there are many more ghost stories from this part of North England to be found on their site, I wonder how they stayed off our radar for the last six months...

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Bound books

Via the always beautiful and interesting Bibi's box, a collection of hand-bound books at Princeton's library. No word yet if Miskatonic University plans a similar exhibit. Flemish panel-stamped calfskin binding on a Basel printing from 1490. Author: Bertoldus, Dominican, fl. 1350 Title: Horologium deuotionis circa vitam Christi. Published: Basel: Johann Amerbach, not after 1490. Location: Rare Books: Incunabula Collection (ExI) Call number: 5866.174 Spine height: 16 cm Italian, fifteenth century A fifteenth-century Italian binding with painted gold and a design with Islamic characteristics. Author: Virgil Title: Aeneid and Georgics. Locale: Rome, ca. 1515-1525. Location: Manuscripts Division Call number: Princeton Ms 104 Dimensions: 23 x 17 cm I was very tempted to make these the Necronomicon and Nameless Cults.

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

Old Haunts scares up a wild fraternity/sorority party at Auburn. Check out The Twelve Maidens at the Groovy Age of Horror as scientists battle Satanists. Final Girl's Stacie Ponder and Dark, But Shining's Kevin Melrose shared a table together at a comic onvention in Ohio. I might have to take a road trip. Went back and looked at the convention web site and saw it was this weekend. I'm too far behind on catching up on the happenings in the horror blogotopia. Hopefully they'll be posting on the experience. Riley at Bubblegumfink! digs up an old "Dracula for President" T-shirt decal. I haven't made it over to The CavBlog often enough of late and missed this review of The Vampires of Finistere. It sounds like a great read. And Exclamation Mark's B-Movie Reviews takes on the Amazing Colossal Man.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

'Live nude dancers'

Illustration courtesy of GOTV. "Live nude dancers" is what the sign said outside the bar.

I didn't want to go in, but my friends were expecting me. They were dancers and they wanted me to see them perform.

The apartment building was older with hardwood floors and high ceilings. I had the apartment on the first floor. A long and narrow layout. Small kitchen. Quiet building.

It was across the street from a funeral home and an Episcopal Church with an old cemetery, the grave stones weathered and gray with lichen. I loved the location.

A teacher lived upstairs and another across the hall. After the landlady fixed up the downstairs apartment, the teacher on the third floor moved into it and one of my best friends took the upstairs apartment.

He figured he spent enough time in my building hanging out he might as well move in.

We played videogames most nights - Sega, SNES. He was a lot of fun to hang out with. He'd been a burglar among other misdeeds, but you couldn't really call him a criminal since he'd never been caught and convicted.

He was a genuine badass, built like Bruce Lee and almost as quick with his punches.

After his nephew graduated from college he got a job as a DJ at a strip club which angered his fundamentalist parents who kicked him out so he moved in with my friend into the apartment upstairs.

My friend was between jobs and so he got a job as a bouncer at the club.

Then like any other job, their co-workers at the club began hanging out with them after work. Ladies. Lots of lovely young ladies.

They all would get off work about 2 a.m. and then head over either to my apartment - I worked nights then and kept the hours of a vampire - or to my friend's apartment.

And we'd play videogames. WWF Raw. Madden '94. NBA basketball.

We'd all talk about work as we'd await our turns to play. They loved the money they made. There was a great deal of casual sex with my friend and his nephew with several of the women and the women with each other since a few were bi. I was just there for the videogames.

At other times of my life during "dry spells" I might have been tempted to play the other games too in the back bedroom, but I had a couple of regular girlfriends and didn't feel the desire or need.

Yet it was a pretty happy time. It was the kind of good times that the conservatives fear are occurring and that they engage in when they think no one is looking.

One night as we were talking the women learned I had never been in a strip club.

Long before they had shot down my statements about the dehumanizing aspects of nude dancing as feminist claptrap. A couple of the college educated dancers spoke at length about the empowerment of it and a lot of other post-feminist positions that I didn't really follow. None of us really took the debate too seriously. Afterall most of it occurred while holding game controllers and punching Xs and Os.

So they convinced me to go. They told me I'd be elitist if I didn't go. I think they had figured out my soft spot and exploited it.

So I went. I watched them dance in a smoke filled bar. My friend's nephew was in the DJ booth playing the music much too loud and my friend perched on a stool next to me. And the women who we played videogames with danced. They were sexy enough, but the nudity was so casual that it didn't seem that sexual to me. Perhaps at heart I'm more of a prude than the conservatives who condemn it. At least they go to the bars and cut loose.

To me it seemed more like the casual nakedness of married couples.

I stayed for a while, but it was like being at a party where you feel you need to remain long enough to be polite, but you really were counting down the time you could leave.

I told my friend the cigarette smoke bothered me and then I left. They showed up as usual and we played videogames for a while and several of the women asked how I liked seeing them and I lied and told them I had a great time.

But really I had more fun playing videogames with them. And it wasn't too long later, a month or so, that my friend quit and then my friend's nephew. They had come to the conclusion that when seeing women naked in front of them was no longer a turn on, it was time to find other jobs.

And soon after that the women stopped coming over to play videogames. It's like that when you leave a job and no longer are colleagues. It wasn't anything in particular that led to a falling out.

So I'll end on this note. In my experience, dancers may know lots of moves, but they don't know how to defend against the long pass on Madden '94. You can score with it almost every time.

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The lady is a vamp

Our favorite newspaper takes a long look at modern-day vampires. From The Scotsman:

Vampires are all around us, in shops, supermarkets, the high street, everywhere - or so says a new book about the UK's modern day vampire scene. After tucking a large crucifix under my jumper and a discreet stake in my handbag, I went to find out more from the author of Vampire Nation. Arlene Russo is this country's foremost vampire expert, and editor of Britain's only vampire magazine, Bite Me. Reeling from the stench of garlic she offered me a mint, and debunked a few myths. Count Dracula and his revenant cronies are strictly passé. The new breed of vampire is emphatically mortal, born rather than made. So daylight is in, garlic and crucifixes are out. Contemporary vampires don't even need to nibble their victims' necks. What's the world coming to? "Vampires today are intelligent," Russo says. "Most of them just want to live with a consensual partner. You're actually very safe in a room with a vampire." snip For the book she meets Kittie Klaw, a burlesque artist and paranormal investigator. Klaw isolates the erotic appeal of the vampire thus: "So many people are still longing for sexual freedom. The debonair vamp that so many young ladies fantasise about is the perfect combination of ideal husband material and a depraved sexual mentor: Mr Darcy meets Marquis de Sade."

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Firefly and Serenity

I know what I'm getting for Christmas. I missed Firefly when it aired because it was a period when I was writing my novel. After watching the movie Serenity, I went back and ordered the TV series on Netflix. I enjoyed it so much I'm getting the box set as a Christmas present.

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Friday, November 25, 2005

Vampire Kitty Friday

Sox the Vampire Kitty has given Bryan of Why Now? the I'm gonna get you hypnotic stare. Go over and take a look....but don't look too'll be under his whiskery spell.

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Mysterious mummy's death examined

Researchers from York University and Hancock Museum in Newcastle upon Tyne are studying autopsy results of an Egyptian mummy to learn the cause of her death and also the types of diseases prevalent in her era. From n-e-life:

Estimated to be aged between 30 and 40 years old she was first unwrapped during an autopsy in 1830 by three local doctors who removed 22.5 kg of bandages from her. The autopsy did not find any conclusive evidence as to why she died. It is this unique mystery which was investigated by Dr Joann Fletcher, Dr Stephen Buckley, a biochemist researching mummification techniques and the Hancock Museum's own Egyptologist Gillian Scott. Irt Irw was brought to France by Baron Denon, the first Director of the Louvre. She was then sold at auction in 1825 and purchased by John Bowes Wright of Northumberland before being given to the Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society in 1826.
The Hancock Museum currently has an exhibit on ancient Egypt in conjunction with the British Museum.

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Ghosts of Montana

...and to music, no less:

The Montana Historical Society Press and world-class composer and pianist Philip Aaberg and his Sweetgrass Music label have teamed up to put Ellen Baumler’s best-selling book of Montana ghost stories, “Beyond Spirit Tailings,” to music. The five-CD set includes four CDs with Baumler reading her stories gathered over the years from across Montana with Aaberg’s musical interludes and sound effects adding to the ghostly experience. There also is a single CD featuring only Aaberg’s musical interpretation. Baumler and Aaberg, who had developed the music to accompany the book, spent three days at his recording studio in Chester completing the audio book. It is the Society’s first venture into talking books.
Sounds fun, ghosts of the Old West and all that...

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Auguries of the Jade Turtle

Doesn't that sound like it should be the title of a Sherlock Holmes story? The Shanghai Daily is reporting the discovery of the oldest divination tool ever found, a 4500-year-old jade turtle:

A 4,500-YEAR-OLD jade tortoise and an oblong jade article discovered in east China's Anhui Province are China's earliest fortune-telling instruments found so far, a senior archeologist said yesterday. The two jade objects were discovered in an ancient tomb in Lingjiatan Village, Hanshan County.
The article goes on to describe (in too-scant detail, and without pictures...) how archeologists guess the objects were used.

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Happy Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for my fellow blog mates here at The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire and for those of you who make visiting the site a regular experience. Happy holidays.

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Happy Turkey (Vulture) Day

(thanks to live science "ugliest animals" website)

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Oh the Irony

Ruth M. Siems, a home economist who helped create Stove Top stuffing, a Thanksgiving favorite that will be on dinner tables across the country this year, has died at 74 - AP

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'Spook' receives favorable review

The Detroit Metro Times reviewed Mary Roach's Spook, Science Tackles the Afterlife.

Morbidly curious Mary Roach, author of The New York Times bestseller Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, tackles a more hopeful subject with her latest book, Spook. What happens when we die? This time around, she’s homing in on age-old questions concerning our souls instead of our physical bodies. She serves as an irreverent and witty tour guide through the bastions of the unknown with the kind of genuine fascination that makes you want her to uncover all the answers.

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Iceman curse claims another victim

Image Hosted by The Scotsman has covered this story well.

HE'S FROZEN stiff and he's been dead for 5,300 years, but people are still wary of Oetzi the Iceman. Seven of those who have worked with the celebrated corpse, unearthed from a glacier on the Austrian-Italian Border in 1991, have now died, either through accident or illness, and our seemingly limitless credulity regarding revenge from beyond the grave has gone into overdrive yet again. Last month's news of the death of Dr Tom Loy, who had conducted DNA analysis of the deep-frozen cadaver, further fuelled rumours and headlines concerning a "curse", reminiscent of that associated with the opening of Tutankhamun's tomb in the 1920s. Dr Loy, a Californian-born molecular biologist who undertook DNA investigation of the body, was found dead at his home in Brisbane, Australia, and an inquest proved inconclusive, although he was known to be suffering from a hereditary blood complaint, diagnosed shortly after he started work on Oetzi.
Not all agree that a curse is over the Iceman, a Bronze Age hunter. (For that matter, not all believe in the King Tut curse either.)
As one of Dickson's team observed last week, hundreds of people have been engaged in researching Oetzi: "I'm surprised, on statistical grounds alone, that more of them have not died in the last ten years."
For the record, if anything tragic happens to me anytime soon, blame the curse since I've written about it several times now so I have a loose connection to the Iceman. It'll make my death more interesting.

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Isabel, the mystery passenger

Should you be fortunate enough to take a trip on the American Orient Express, you might get a more memorable trip than you bargained for... You see, it turns out that at least one of the sleeping cars has a passenger that never left:

WHEN crew members are given a passenger tally for an American Orient Express train trip, they always mentally add one to the list. It's not a good idea to overlook Isabel. She is referred to as a "permanent guest" on the upscale train. Isabel is a ghost.
Vintage luxury trains, spectacular scenery, and a ghost - what more could you want in a vacation?

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Students haunted by ghostly figure

This is so much better than the excuses I used. From

THE head teacher of Mumbwenge Combined School, about five kilometres from Oshigambo in the Ohangwena Region, Helena Makili, says the "ghostly figure" that is tormenting learners at the school could cause learners to fail their examinations. She says the uninvited visits involving a paranormal figure at the school is tormenting students so much so that they are likely to perform poorly. According to her, not a single day passes without children being harassed by the mysterious and extremely sinister figure.

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(maybe) Coming Soon - Christopher Priest's The Prestige

I loved Christoper Priest's novel The Prestige (I thought the ending was a little weak, given the rest of the novel, but I still enjoyed it.), so I was excited to see that it may be being made into a movie. For those of you unfamiliar with the novel, the publisher's blurb (lifted from Powell's site) reads:

In 1878, two young stage magicians clash in the dark during the course of a fraudulent séance. From this moment on, their lives become webs of deceit and revelation as they vie to outwit and expose one another. Their rivalry will take them to the peaks of their careers, but with terrible consequences. In the course of pursuing each other's ruin, they will deploy all the deception their magicians' craft can command--the highest misdirection and the darkest science. Blood will be spilled, but it will not be enough. In the end, their legacy will pass on for descendants who must, for their sanity's sake, untangle the puzzle left to them.
The WebIndia123 article above (itself a skimming of a Zap2It article) mentions the possibility that David Bowie will be playing the part of Nikolai Tesla, who has a pivotal role in this drama. It's a fun read, and should translate fairly well to the screen...

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

November 22, 1963

With a good conscience our only sure reward With history the final judge of our deeds Let us go forth to lead the land we love - asking His blessing And his help - but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own. JFK - January 20, 1961 Arlington National Cemetary and Official Cemetary Website

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Cup a' Joe

One of the best things about XM satellite radio is listening to the radio productions. I'll have a longer post about this later, but if you ever get the chance to listen to any of the Twisted Rhymes by Bob Harper Productions don't miss it. I particularly like Cup a' Joe, but I'm sick and twisted. You can find more at

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Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter

I don't know how I missed this 2001 movie in the theaters, Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter.

Forget that hack Van Helsing, for true extermination of the fanged undead believers turn to the one and only sandaled slayer, Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter. Having returned to Earth for the eagerly anticipated Second Coming, Jesus finds his bid to judge the living interrupted by a horde of angry bloodsuckers who possess the ability to walk in daylight. Of course even Jesus needs a hand now and then when it comes to battling the legions of the undead, and Mexican wrestling hero El Santo is more than eager to pitch in and do his part to ensure a safe Judgment Day. Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

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Fairies stop developers from working

From The Times of London:

VILLAGERS who protested that a new housing estate would “harm the fairies” living in their midst have forced a property company to scrap its building plans and start again. Marcus Salter, head of Genesis Properties, estimates that the small colony of fairies believed to live beneath a rock in St Fillans, Perthshire, has cost him £15,000. His first notice of the residential sensibilities of the netherworld came as his diggers moved on to a site on the outskirts of the village, which crowns the easterly shore of Loch Earn. He said: “A neighbour came over shouting, ‘Don’t move that rock. You’ll kill the fairies’.” The rock protruded from the centre of a gently shelving field, edged by the steep slopes of Dundurn mountain, where in the sixth century the Celtic missionary St Fillan set up camp and attempted to convert the Picts from the pagan darkness of superstition. “Then we got a series of phone calls, saying we were disturbing the fairies. I thought they were joking. It didn’t go down very well,” Mr Salter said. snip Jeannie Fox, council chairman, said: “I do believe in fairies but I can’t be sure that they live under that rock. I had been told that the rock had historic importance, that kings were crowned upon it.” Her main objection to moving the rock was based on the fact that it had stood on the hillside for so long: a sort of MacFeng Shui that many in the village subscribe to. “There are a lot of superstitions going about up here and people do believe that things like standing stones and large rocks should never be moved,” she said.
Don't mess with the fairies in Celtic country or elsewhere. It's bad luck.

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A fragrance like putrid corpse

I read elsewhere this flower has a fragrance like putrid corpse although many in this story came off a bit underwhelmed. From The Washington Post:

The curiosity that led more than 6,000 people to visit the U.S. Botanic Garden yesterday to inhale what is arguably the world's grossest flower can probably be best understood by those who insist on drinking from the expired carton of milk -- just to be sure it's bad. After 14 years of waiting and about 12 hours of hard labor, the titan arum, or corpse flower as it aptly known in the not-so-green-thumb circles, delivered a very putrid bloom to a very delighted public on the Mall. The smell -- reminiscent of long-dead rat with just a hint of brie -- filled the humid, glass-enclosed garden with intermittent waves of odor that inspired noses to be pinched and, in one case, the appearance of a perfume-spritzed surgical mask.
I've not smelled this flower, but I've smelled plenty of putrid corpses and they tend to have a sickly sweet odor.

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Things that go bump in the night

And boy howdy, do I mean "bump"!

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian man sought help from a medium to rid him of a female ghost whom he said had demanded sex from him every night for the past 16 years, a report said yesterday.
That's some persistant ghost, eh?

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For all your space travel needs

Space, being a fine setting for horror, shouldn't be too far afield for this blog - therefore, it is in this spirit that I feel obliged to announce the soon-to-be-opened Greenwood Space Travel Supply ("Space travel is all we do!), for all your space travel needs! In the same spirit as the pirate store we've previously mentioned, the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co. supports the ongoing activities of 826 Seattle, a writer's group dedicated to improving the writing abilities of high school students. So feel good about being able to purchase your space travel essentials such as an extra towel (you do know where yours is, don't you?) or bottled Uncertainty for your Heisenberg drive; after all, you will be supporting their fine programs. Come one, come all (that is, if you're in Seattle or if you have your own wormhole generator or teleporter) to 8414 Greenwood Avenue North, Seattle on 3 December from noon to 6PM PST. [hat tip to Metroblogging Seattle]

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Ode to 1981

Stacie Ponder of Final Girl has an excellent tribute to the horror movies of 1981. Part 1 here and Part 2 here. 1981 is to horror movies what 1939 is to classic movies. The best. year. ever.

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Night Stalker obit

David Allen, a columnist for The Daily Bulletin of Ontario, Calif., has a nice obituary on the second demise of the Night Stalker series, a show I had great hopes in, but lost interest in quickly myself because it was too dissimilar from the original series (I know I always decry the lack of originality, but I would have made an exception in this case).

Besides, networks can bury Carl Kolchak all they want. It's comforting to know that, like zombies and vampires, he keeps coming back.

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Haunted Times holds ghost seminar

From the Aspen Daily News:

REDSTONE -- Sparked by reports of unusual activity at the historic hotel, a few dozen enthusiasts of all things paranormal gathered at the Redstone Inn on Saturday for a seminar on ghost hunting -- and the potential of much more. The $90-per-ticket event was arranged and conducted by Christopher Moon and the Denver company for which he serves as president and senior editor, Haunted Times Magazine. Moon and his staff research paranormal activity across the United States and document much of what they discover through the magazine and Web site of the same name. They also conduct seminars and give speeches in various Colorado ghost towns and other historically haunted destinations, such as New Orleans. Their cameras pick up fleeting pictures of what they say are ghostly "orbs." Meters that measure AC and DC electrical activity can point to areas inside a building where a paranormal being may be present, they believe. There's even a device known as a "telephone to the dead." Using technology to decipher audio recordings with odd noises and static, they believe they can hold conversations with the otherworldly. To some, all the efforts to reach beyond the grave may seem a bit crazy. But Moon, his students and co-workers appear to be dead serious.

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Wounded sergeant fights to keep her dog

Photo by Ricky Carioti of The Washington Post. The Washington Post has a story about a wounded sergeant, nearly killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. She was the handler for a military dog trained in explosive detection. The roadside IED blew up the Humvee the were riding. A bipartisan effort by Pennsylvania's congressional representatives John Murtha and John Peterson, plan legislation to change the Air Force's rules to allow her to keep the dog, Rex. The Air Force sees Rex as an asset. She sees Rex as a loyal friend. Considering she nearly gave her life and will be maimed for the rest of her days, the Air Force should allow Rex to stay with her.

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There is nothing more horrorifying....

than these haunting photos.

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Creepy museum in Vienna

Via Boing Boing, a photo tour by Jake Appelbaum of Vienna's natural history museum.

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Moustapha Akkad: the gentleman producer

Fangoria has a well-written, moving tribute by Mark Cerulli on the murder of horror director and producer Moustapha Akkad, best known for his work on the Halloween series.

In the course of producing three DVD documentaries on the HALLOWEEN series, I was fortunate to spend quite a few hours in offices of Akkad’s Trancas International. Where most production companies have hordes of staffers hellbent on keeping people away from their execs, Akkad ran his ship differently. Sure, you had to pass muster with the office manager, but after that, you were welcomed like family. Where most people are rather snippy about having video crews set up camp in their offices, Akkad—and his son Malek—couldn’t have been more gracious. When I went to order lunch for my two-man crew and I, Akkad overheard me fumbling for a menu and told his secretary, “He pays for nothing here.” It usually doesn’t happen like that. But lest I get too warm and fuzzy, [Halloween director John] Carpenter reminds, “He was a businessman, and to be honest with you, I’ve seen him get pretty rough.” True enough. You don’t go into business with Dimension’s Weinstein brothers without possessing some serious inner steel. snip “Up in Vancouver, on the last HALLOWEEN, I think Michael had just stabbed somebody and there was some blood on the knife. Moustapha came up to me and said, ‘There’s too much blood.’ I said, ‘Moustapha, the guy just got his throat cut!’ and he replied, ‘I don’t like so much blood.’ ” No matter what onscreen carnage he creates, Akkad’s most famous movie character, Michael Myers, is fiction. The cowards who killed him and his 34-year-old daughter Rima, along with 55 other innocent people, are the real monsters.
Here's cookie jill and protected static's post on the day of the terrorist attack about the death of Akkad and his daughter.

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Unleash the flying monkeys

Warning, the post includes a photo of a hideous monster. Recommended you do not view immediately after eating or drinking. May not be suitable for young children. Side effects may include nausea and nightmares.

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Harry Potter and the Tool Shed

Anyone seen Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire yet? I'm probably going to go tonight. Light posting today because I've been busy on home projects. It began with getting ready to paint the mudroom and turned into an afternoon of organizing the tool shed and tool boxes and hanging up the winter bird feeders. Ever notice how hard it is to just do a project? So I think I'll go to a movie tonight while the wife and kids are collecting food with their scout troop for the food bank. Some people work to help others and others go eat salty popcorn with extra butter. Mmmm...popcorn. UPDATE: I didn't make it. I sat down and was too tired to get up.

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Gothic Martha Stewart strikes again!

Now, for the goth (or gothically-inclined) who has everything, the solution to one of those pesky decorating dilemmas: what to do about that glaringly-white toilet paper in your otherwise somber decor? Coz' those occasional pastels you can find ain't gonna cut it either, right? Fear not! A solution is at hand: black toilet paper! Ohmigoth! It's black! At current exchange rates, a six-pack of toilet paper'll set you back about US$ 7.03 - before shipping (€6.00 = USD 7.029 at today's rates, according to Google). So... until it's available in the US, maybe just get a 6-pack for when you've got company over. They can ooh and ahh at your resourcefulness, never knowing the sordid truth of your hidden (white) Cottonelle stash. Your secret'll be safe with me.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Where in the world are you?

Bumped, in case some of you missed it when first posted and would like to participate. I'll also be adding it to the sidebar. Found a new online toy tool: Frappr! If you are a regular visitor to The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire, please click here and log your name or handle, your location and a greeting. You can also upload a photo of yourself (optional). I put my photo there if you're interested. I have the map on the globe setting because there are quite a few of you visiting here regularly from outside of the United States.

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry's back and Desson Thomson of the Washington Post gives him good marks:

Your first question about "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" shouldn't necessarily be about how good it is. (Hold on to your pointy hats, the news is good.) It should be: How much time do I have? At close to three hours, the film would work well as part of an overnight package: See Harry battle fire-breathing dragons and denizens of the deep, then check into our lovely downtown Marriott! But the fourth Potter film is otherwise probably the most engaging Potter film. Director Mike Newell and screenwriter Steve Kloves (who has written all four) know their primary responsibility: to create three-ring spectacles like the whiz-bang, airborne game of Quidditch, or Harry's mighty tussles with otherworldly creatures. But they also allow time for the characters to breathe a little -- you know, when they're not busy casting spells.

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Darwin exhibit opens in NY

From The New York Times:

The strangeness of that theory also does not really emerge in the sweeping new exhibition devoted to Darwin's life and ideas at the American Museum of Natural History (which opens tomorrow and will be on view until May 29, before traveling to science museums in Boston, Chicago, Toronto and London). Instead, this show, with almost too much propriety, makes Darwin's theory of evolution seem - well, almost natural. That is both a virtue and a flaw: the theory becomes clear but not its revolutionary character. The exhibition is billed as the "broadest and most complete collection ever assembled of specimens, artifacts, original manuscripts and memorabilia related to Darwin." By the time one works through it, it has so successfully given a sense of the theory's explanatory power that the exhibition can seem too small for its subject rather than too large. But it should be seen.
Edward Rothstein's review of the exhibit is rather lamely written even by the New York Times' current shabby standards. But it gives me an excuse to post an iguana picture. And if I lived in New York, this is an exhibit I'd want to see.

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A missed Buffy opportunity

Fox blows it again with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. From Entertainment Weekly:

There are some things you can't state often enough. The Aston Martin DB5 was the greatest Bond car ever. "The Empire Strikes Back" is the best "Star Wars" movie. And "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is one of the seminal TV shows of the last 50 years. In the top 10. Not open for debate. So it's particularly noteworthy that now you can get all seven seasons, 144 episodes' worth of slayage, 40 discs' worth of ground broken by creator Joss Whedon, in one handy box. Behold "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Chosen Collection." And behold a colossal missed opportunity.
Reviewer Marc Bernardin's point is that for a $200 collection, Fox should have loaded the DVDs with tons of extras. Sounds like a good point to me.

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Bodies...the Exhibition

Bibi emailed us a link to the beautifully macabre exhibit at the South Street Seaport In New York City called "Bodies . . . the Exhibition."

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Happy Vampire Cat Blogging Friday

Posted by Picasa "People who hate cats, will come back as mice in their next life." -- Faith Resnick (go see some more Friday Bundles of Fur, Fun and Fins at The Modulator)

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"To see a ghost, ... go where the ghosts are" has a fun Knight-Ridder interview with Kansas City, MO-area psychic, Sueanne Pool:

Q: Is there a certain time of day to be more watchful? A: You'd be surprised. A lot of ghosts do things while you're at work, some while you're sleeping. [...]
Could this absolve the dryer? Is this what happens to all your 'other' socks? Seriously though - quick and fun interview, worth a read.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Forbidden culture - hiding in plain sight

From the Times Online (UK) comes this account of travelling in Oaxaca and Chiapas during Day of the Dead festivities:

There’s a carnival feel to the way the Mexicans approach death, a sense of delicious expectation that the spirits of your loved ones will return to visit you if you tempt them with an offering of their favourite tipple. The atmosphere is not grave at all. For, if you believe that your ancestors are present in your everyday life, why should you be gloomy in remembrance of them? The Mayan Indians, who predominate in Mexico’s Chiapas and Guatemala, are highly spiritual and nominally Catholic, for the Spanish conquistadors imposed their religion on the indigenous people just as they imposed everything else. Every cemetery is a thicket of crosses; every village contains a church. The casual eye might mistake this for Catholic piety. But the Maya, who craft colourful masks to sell at market, have turned Catholicism into a mask of its own. From the outside, each church looks like a standard Spanish place of worship. Go inside, though, and you often discover that it is being used instead as a Mayan temple. In the church of Chamula, up in the mountains of Chiapas, the pews and altar have gone and the floor is carpeted with pine needles. Candles burn all over the floor. Dotted about are families who have paid a shaman to cure them. He feels the ill person’s pulse and then conducts the appropriate ritual: passing eggs in a pattern over their body, sacrificing a chicken and then spitting firewater or Coke over the dead bird, chanting prayers and lighting coloured candles.
While the article is definitely on the superficial side - it's a travelogue after all, not an anthropology piece - it does capture the feeling of old cultures surviving alongside (or, in some cases, under the veneer of) new. Travelling in Venezuala a decade or so ago, you could readily see similar tableaux - I forget the name of the coastal town we were in, but across the street from the church was a shrine to the Virgin Mary. Sort of. You see, the small grotto that surrounded her was built entirely out of full-sized conch shells - horned side facing inwards. I'll let you process that image for a while and come back when you're done. Back with me? With a picture? Hundreds of pinkish, shiny, vaguely oval-shaped slits... Seeing something of a fertility symbol are we? Good. At the feet of the Virgin(!), dozens of lit candles, fresh flowers, and freshly sliced oranges. I can no longer find the pictures we took, but I can say that the overall impression was quite striking. And across the street at the church itself? Nothing. At this point you're probably asking something along the lines of "WTF does this have to do with horror?". Not much, I suppose, except for this: a recurring theme in horror is the survival of ancient truths, of old beliefs dismissed as superstition. How many stories revolve around ancient curses, living gods, hidden cultures, or monsters from folklore? So - anyone else ever come across their own examples of old or suppressed cultures asserting themselves in defiance of the new and/or dominant culture? If so, care to share?

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King Kong approaches

Horror director Peter Jackson of the ghost pic The Frighteners, zombie flick Braindead and flesh-eating alien slasher film Bad Taste (he also did a few other movies in the fantasy genre too) is about to unleash King Kong, one of the greatest horror monsters of all time, on Dec. 14. It's a rehash of the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast, but what a tale: a mysterious jungle, a giant ape worshipped as a god, a monster rampaging through a city. Here is the link to the official site. For news and fan postings visit Kong is King. With Jackson's film coming out, a new DVD version of the 1933 original will also be released. Like Kong, the director of the original film, Merian C. Cooper, was a larger than life figure himself. From the Deseret News:

Cooper is most famous for creating and directing the character and film "King Kong" — and if that were the sum of his life he would still be worthy of interest and praise from biographers and film buffs. But Kong was only a part of his 80 years as a filmmaker, director, soldier, prisoner of war, explorer, innovator, businessman and mogul.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Tax breaks for the witch

The ACLU (go team!) has filed a lawsuit to expand a tax credit for the Bible to other religion's holy texts, including 'A Witch's Bible' used by some Wiccans. From The Associated Press:

Acting on behalf of a seller of spiritual books, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit arguing that a Georgia law exempting the Bible from sale taxes is discriminatory and should be extended to all publications dealing with the meaning of life. "If they're not taxing someone's holy scriptures, they shouldn't be taxing anyone's," said Candace Apple, who owns the Phoenix and Dragon Bookstore in the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs. "I'm not willing to stand at the counter and tell someone, `Oh, sorry, your religion is wrong.'"

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A Moving Speech Honoring the Fallen

P.H. Martin, Esq. is a wonderful photographer. He was the one who snapped the photo of the little kitty in the cemetary. (Which, I neglected to acknowledge on our "Happy Vampire Friday Kitty Blogging - Veterans's Day edition" post. Mea culpa.) He also has a law practice in the grand State of Louisiana, following in the footsteps of 4 of 5 other P.H. Martin, Esquires! So, if you are in "Sportsman's Paradise" and need an attorney, look Mr. Martin up. He has posted on his website, an amazing speech his great-grandfather, a veteran of "the World War", gave in 1921, accompanyied by a lovely yet haunting photo. Please take the time to stop by and read the speech. It is truly moving.

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The man responsible for the Iraq war is IDENTIFIED

Via AmericaBlog I read this DefenseTech post.

This adds further credence to the idea in an excellent diary here by revolute. (See also this well-done diary by PatsBard).

Yet the biggest news - as often is the case with blogs - is buried in the comments. The man responsible for the Iraq war.

I'll point him out below.

Before I get to the big news, let's review how Donald Rumself, the secretary of defense, is sadly being blamed for his role in the Iraq war debacle.

Poor man.

Sure, he was part of the neoconservative group in 1998 pushing President Clinton to go to war in Iraq.

Yes, he signed an open letter touting the idea.

And he was pushing the idea of bombing Iraq on the day of the Sept. 11th attacks even though counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke pointed out that Al Quaeda was in another country called Afghanistan.

And sure, Rumsfeld didn't provide enough ground forces in Afghanistan to finish the job there against Osama bin Laden.

And as early as October 2001, he was telling Tommy Franks to stop asking for so many forces because they needed to get ready for Iraq.

And bin Laden escaped from Tora Bora.

And the professional military told Rumsfeld that more troops would be needed to secure Iraq after the war.

And so he fired them.

And so the invasion occurred and the soldiers almost ran out of ammunition and went in without everyone equipped with body armor and armored humvees.

But he gloated and strutted before the press.

Then Iraqis began looting and crime broke out because there weren't enough troops to secure the country just as the professionals had warned would happen.

So Rumsfeld said democracy is messy shit happens.

And the reporters at the Pentagon laughed.

But the Iraqis waited for power to be restored and for water pipes to be fixed and for someone to stop the criminals from kidnapping and robbing.

But there weren't enough troops.

So they got frustrated and began increasing attacks about a year after the invasion -- exactly as the professionals at the War College had warned earlier.

But the president said, "Bring it on."

And people began dying.

So Rumsfeld blamed the press.

And he blamed the Iraqis.

Then he blamed the troops.

But you go into a war with the commander in chief and the defense secretary you have and not the one you want.

And soldiers had cameras and took pictures of things that Rumsfeld and Cheney wanted to occur, but didn't want us to see.

So it's gotten ugly.

And old career hand Rumsfeld, the backslapping, glad handing, ego stroking, backroom dealing old corporate pro has decided it's time for him to cut himself out.

Must prepare his golden parachute.

So the war was never his idea.

He's not to blame.

And just as the torture and secret detainments and prison rapes of children were ALL the fault of a few privates and sergeants from the hills of western Maryland and West Virginia, the debacle is not the fault of Rumsfeld.

In the Washington Post he tried to pin it on Bush, saying he just supported the president's plan.

But Robert nailed it with a beautiful piece of snark:

Rumself to take the blame? Naaa.

The whole blame for the Iraq Debacle is PFC John Shmedlap, 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, C Company, 1-16 Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.

Posted by: Robert at November 15, 2005 05:47 PM

And though the name will be different, you know that's where the Bush Cult, from Dear Leader to High Priest Donald Rumsfeld to the acolytes throughout the rightwing blogotopia will place the blame. On the soldiers who fought in the war that Bush and Rumsfeld lost before the first shot that never should have been fired.

For you see, it's not Rumsfeld's fault.

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Bats**t crazy

Another reason to leave the Rainforest alone....

Rabid vampire bats killed 23 people and bit more than 1,000 when they attacked residents in their homes at night, officials in Brazil confirmed yesterday. The victims were bitten after the bloodsucking mammals were displaced from their rainforest habitat by continued widespread tree-felling, said the authorities in Sao Paulo. ....Deforestation in Para state is eliminating the bats' habitat and forcing them to seek other areas. - Scotsman and BBC

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Podcast of The Gateway of The Monster

William Hope Hodgson (right) The Public Domain Podcast provides a good reading of the excellent William Hope Hodgson short story, The Gateway of the Monster. Part 2 should be up on Monday from her posting schedule. Update Monday, Nov. 15. Part 2 here. Looks like she has some other stories in her archives I'll want to download too, particularly Jules Verne's Master of the World.

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Vampires are delicious

and "chocolatey" especially if they are Chocolate Vampires at "The Chocolate Show" in New York. Instead of them sucking your neck...I think in this case it could be, well, "reversed."

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Horror hottie of the night

Vampire cookie jill posted her horror hottie below. Here's mine, Elsa Lanchester. Her role as The Bride in The Bride of Frankenstein is enough to make her top any horror list. But she did an excellent turn as Mary Shelley in the prologue of the story. I particularly love her smile and the tilt of her head as Lord Byron asks her if her book, Frankenstein, would be published. "It will be published," then a mischievous toss of her head, "I think." And I find her version of The Bride incredibly sexy as the two mad scientists pull off the sheet to reveal her figure tightly wrapped in bandages mummy-like. Shouting, "She's alive!" is understatement.

"My parents were always a bit arty. They were 'advanced.' They supported pacifism, vegetarianism, socialism, atheism, and all that."
She had an unconventional marriage to Charles Laughton - he was gay and she was rumored to be a lesbian. They were married until his death in 1962. Laughton had served in the British Army in World War I where he was gassed and it's been suspected the effects of the gas attack caused his cancer. Laughton himself is no slouch in the horror department for his wonderful part in The Old Dark House. Lanchester also starred in the horror films Willard, Terror in the Wax Museum, and Arnold. She also was terrific in the mysteries Witness for the Prosecution and Murder by Death. And she succeeded in just about every genre from horror to comedy to musicals to drama. By no means was Elsa Lanchester a conventional Hollywood beauty. Yet her witty humor and intelligence comes through and I find that very sexy.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Vampire mug

Vampire mug found on The Velvet Garden. I may have to order this for myself for Christmas.

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New York City, London, Paris, New Orleans... Oklahoma City?

Erm... Okay...

Gothic vampire movie being filmed in Oklahoma City by GrayMark Productions /UCWE/ - "Soul’s’ Midnight," a gothic vampire horror movie, has recently begun filming in locations across Oklahoma with a staggering amount of Hollywood experience and artistry as its pedigree. As produced by the Oklahoma-based Graymark, along with Image Entertainment, the film will be directed by noted filmmaker Harry Basil ("Cloud Nine," "Back by Midnight") and will feature the accomplished stage, screen and Emmy-award winning actor Armand Assante ("Unfaithfully Yours," "Private Benjamin," "The Mambo Kings" and "Gotti") as its lead.
Oh, look! A supernatural reason to be scared of Oklahoma! All snark aside, I find myself pretty intrigued by this project (though I don't know how 'noted' I'd call Harry Basil... Damn! There's that snark again!). Still, if Near Dark could do it, maybe this can as well. And besides, I think Mexico's been done to death already - let's give OK a whirl. Hey, here's a question: what would be your vote for best atypical vampire movie location?

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DIY Monday: Pine Box special

Looking for a coffee table that's a real conversation piece? (Or perhaps a conversation stopper?) Got a vampire fetish that needs to be indulged? Need a final resting place for a beloved pet? Or perhaps you've just got a frugal streak that rebels at the idea of the funeral industry getting your family to shell out US$ 10,000 for your final ride - whatever your reasoning, you might be interested in building your own casket. Mother Earth News has a nice article on the subject from their April/May 2003 issue here. Casket hardware and plans can be purchased here (separately or as a kit, people- or pet-sized), along with a book of more plans. has a resource page here, including sources for everything from very traditional caskets (Trappist, Orthodox Judaism) to art caskets. Oh, and if the full-scale thing freaks you out, how about some gawthic accessorizing with a DIY coffin purse? If purses aren't your thing, it could probably make a pretty cool candy dish, or, with a scaled-down version, a fun business card holder...

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My Vote for "Horror Hottie"

Antonio Banderas.... He's played a Sexy Vampire. He's played Zorro. He's played The 13th Warrior. He's played a Secret Agent Man. He's been a blood shedding, guitar playing Il Mariachi He's played an ex-Bullfighter turned on by killing. He's played a man hellbent on revenge. He can come bite on my neck any ol' time. Aye Caramba! Antonio es Un Hombre Muy Guapo.

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Finding clues to Sherlock Holmes

Reviewer Martin Levy has a very readable column on Leslie Klinger's The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes in Canada's The Globe and Mail:

Hard to fathom, I know, but there exist people who are not devotees of the Sherlock Holmes canon, who do not, when his name is invoked, hear the baying of the Baskerville hound, or the sinister click of footsteps in the London fog. Or who do not think of the fastest train between St. Pancras and a country house in which some very rum event is about to occur. Or wonder just why it was that the dog did not bark in the night-time, or whether Dr. Watson's Christian name is John or James. snip A number of years ago, on the strength of a column I wrote purporting to have discovered that Holmes really lived (clue: it appeared April 1), I was invited to speak at a conference celebrating the novel's centenary. Since I hadn't read Hound for many, many years (though I read it three times in one year when I was 12 or so), I decided to speak about the experience of reading it 40 years on, seeking old resonances and new impressions. The old resonances were there, certainly: the superb atmosphere, the wild characterization, Holmes's relentless reasoning, the Great Grimpen Mire, a secular vision of Hell, and of course, the spectral hound.

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Remembering Dracula

Interesting article on how Count Dracula remains a powerful iconic image for a new generation, but not in the way Bram Stoker intended. From The Times of India:

"Our parents were scared of rakshashas, we were scared of Dracula and kids today are not scared pretty much of anybody. Besides, these popular figures have grown more humane with time. Harry Potter is not so much a figment of the imagination as the other characters were," said Ghose. As for Vikrant Mehta, 12, Dracula rings a bell but he is more amused than scared. "I know about Dracula but then, it would be funny if he drew blood and converted me into a junior blood-sucking vampire. But I would like to see more of Dracula on the telly," he said.

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Halloween misery

Pumpkin Effigy (1875) via Old Haunts. I miss Halloween. I can't believe I have to wait almost an entire year for next Halloween.

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The Angels of Mons

Bumped up to put it over the less relevant zombie posts below. -Carnacki In keeping with Armistice/Remembrance/Veterans' Day, I thought I'd pass along a few articles looking at perhaps the most famous supernatural event of the First World War, the Angels of Mons. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, here's the background... In those initial days of August 1914, Schleiffen's plan of attack called for a massive force to swing across the neutral Belgian frontier like an arm, then form a right hook down the coast, smashing their way into France with overwhelming force: shock and awe, late-19th-century style. The British Expeditionary Force landed in Belgium just in time to blunt the tip of this German hook aimed at Paris and the French heartland. Outnumbering the British 3:2 (six divisions to the BEF's 4), the Germans had every reason to expect success. Except for one little detail: the British troops themselves. John Keegan's classic history, The First World War describes why the Germans were so wrong:

The BEF was equal to the task. Alone among those of Europe, the British army was an all-regular force, composed of professional soldiers whom the small wars of empire had hardened to the realities of combat. Many of them had fought in the Boer War fifteen years earlier, against skilled marksmen who entrenched to defend their positions, and they had learnt from them the power of the magazine-rifle and the necessity of digging deep to escape its effects. [...] Ordered to hold the Mons-Condé Canal, they began to dig at once and by the morning of 23 August were firmly entrenched along its length. The Germans [...] were unprepared for the storm of fire that would sweep their ranks. "The dominating German impression was of facing an invisible enemy"
(The First World War, John Keegan, 1998 - p.98 (Vintage paperback edition)) The BEF inflicted approximately four times as many casualties as they incurred, 5,000 or more Germans lost to 1,600 British. They stopped the German advance cold (momentarily: they were ordered to fall back in retreat the next day). It is then perhaps unsurprising that shortly after this battle stories of a supernatural host fighting on the side of the British started circulating:
In his book ANGELS A TO Z Matthew Bunson recounts, 'One of the most famous episodes of angelic intervention, [was] the supposedly widely reported descent of an angelic army in August 1914, which came to the aid of the British forces against the Germans in Mons. . . The angelic host's assistance could not have come at a more propitious moment as the British were being driven back by the relentless German advance." Bunson also relates one version supposedly corroborated by German prisoners describing a force of phantoms armed with bows and arrows and led by a towering figure on a shining white horse who spurred on English forces during an assault on German trenches. Another story spoke of three angelic beings seen by the British, hovering in the air over German lines, providing a source of deep inspiration for them. Aside from these beings, Bunson states that soldiers later claimed to have seen St. Michael the Archangel, the Virgin Mary, even Joan of Arc.
Divine intervention? Mass hallucination? Wishful thinking? Part of an English tradition of divine visions during and following combat? Or perhaps it was the collective psyche of wartime Britain absorbing and holding dear the suggestion of a piece of spiritualist fiction? For, a month after Mons, Arthur Machen published "The Bowmen", a short story in which a ghostly host of English longbowmen resurrected from Agincourt and led by St. George wreak invisible havoc on a German force much larger than the defending British. I leave it to you to decide - a more all-in-one approach to the legend can be found here, while another website breaks it out into an introduction, Machen's story, and Machen's explanation of the origins of the story. Oh, and one interesting aside (mentioned in the first link on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself wrote an account of Mons as part of his six-volume history of the campaigns in Flanders and France. I personally find it interesting that someone so interested in spiritualism and the occult never mentioned anything of the sort.

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Security guard fired for seeing ghosts

From the Des Moines (Iowa) Register:

Can a worker be fired from his job because he believes in ghosts? Yes, according to one Iowa judge — although, the judge says, such beliefs don't constitute worker misconduct, which would disqualify him from receiving unemployment benefits. Wade Gallegos of Des Moines was fired in September from Neighborhood Patrol of Urbandale, a security company where he had worked for about five weeks. According to state records, Gallegos was in a guard house outside a gated community on the night of Sept. 11 when he reported seeing a group of apparitions standing near a car. Gallegos summoned a co-worker and supervisor. While the two men were there, Gallegos said he still could see the ghosts, although the other men assured him they could see nothing. The supervisor saw no evidence of drinking or drug use; five hours later he fired Gallegos. Neighborhood Patrol later challenged Gallegos' application for unemployment benefits, arguing he was guilty of misconduct. Administrative Law Judge G. Ken Renegar ruled that "such beliefs do render the claimant unfit to act as a security guard. The employer cannot have security guards who see ghosts and apparitions and inform the employer and then the employer sends out the patrol cars."

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Noggin Chompers

Longish article on the troubles facing young, independent filmmakers working to put together their zombie film at a favorite locale of the Haunted Vampire team. From the Daily News of Newburyport, Mass.:

The "Noggin Chompers" plot revolves around a found ancient zombie manuscript by — who else — teens drinking in the woods. Sullivan tried to give his characters more depth than those in a typical zombie film. The main villain, the Voodoo Guy, is a combination of the emperor from "Star Wars" and Viktor Frankenstein. "Zombie movies are people's fear that you don't know what is really lurking inside your neighbor's head," Sullivan said. "At what point does somebody cease being a human who has morals and go to their basic instincts to survive?" The "Noggin Chompers" vision began over a year ago when the three men formulated the idea over lunch. "I wanted to do a zombie movie and I wanted those sorts of naturally scary environments," Dunn said, referring to such places as the supposedly haunted campus of the defunct Danvers State Mental Hospital.

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House of the Dead II interview

Considering House of the Dead II is a sequel to a movie based off a videogame, I'm actually optimistic about it after reading a Q&A with the director, Michael Hurst. From Gamecloud:

Gamecloud - What would you say is the main theme or themes that you wanted to explore in the movie? Michael Hurst -To be honest, I just wanted to make a kick-ass piece of entertainment, a full-blown horror film for the fans. I wanted to make sure there was enough action, enough blood, enough explosions and enough likeable characters getting chunks bitten out of 'em. I wanted to tell a good story and create that rollercoaster effect. The script had some social observations and sly humor, including some veiled references to what's going on in Iraq that I think plays very well and works on two levels. But most of that was all Mark and was all on the page, I focussed on making sure the horror fans got their money's worth. snip Gamecloud - Overall are you happy with the way the movie is turning out? Michael Hurst -I'm very proud of House of the Dead 2, I love watching it with people and I feel good about the work I did on it. I also learned a lot, which is always a positive thing, particularly about directing action. I was aware going in that the first film had not been well received and Mark Altman was very clear from the start that he wanted this film to be very different from the first. We set out to make a film that delivered to the horror fans, because we're horror fans ourselves. I love horror movies, and don't agree with people who are snobbish towards them. Terrifying people is a craft, and I look forward to doing it as many times as I can. So far the response to HOD 2 has been great - it got a standing ovation at the Sitges Film Festival, an audience made up of the real die-hard horror fans. Apparently Quentin Tarantino was in the audience that night and he loved it. As a film maker you can't ask for better than that.
It sounds to me like he's somebody who gets horror.

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Friday, November 11, 2005

Happy Vampire Cat Blogging Friday

copyright Patrick MartinVeterans's Day Edition.
IN FLANDERS FIELDS The poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
(image from

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"I am Batman"

You scored as Batman, the Dark Knight. As the Dark Knight of Gotham, Batman is a vigilante who deals out his own brand of justice to the criminals and corrupt of the city. He follows his own code and is often misunderstood. He has few friends or allies, but finds comfort in his cause.

Batman, the Dark Knight


El Zorro


Neo, the "One"


Indiana Jones


Captain Jack Sparrow


The Amazing Spider-Man


James Bond, Agent 007


William Wallace


Lara Croft


The Terminator



Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0 created with

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"Halloween" Producer and his daughter Killed in Jordan Bombing

Rima Akkad was killed instantly in the bombing. Her father, well known in Hollywood and around the world as the producer of the "Halloween" films died earlier today from wounds he sustained. (USA Today) Internationally well-known Syrian director Mustafa Al Akkad was one of the victims of the tragic Jordan terrorist attacks leaving him in very critical condition and killing his daughter on the spot. Sources at the hospital Mustafa is being treated in revealed that the director’s condition is so critical that they doubt he will make it. - Al Bawaba and UPI

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