The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire

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Monday, May 15, 2006

I bid you welcome. Enter freely and of your own will. Leave some of the happiness you bring when you vist the new If you have been kind enough to link to us, please update your blog roll to the new address. Thank you, my friend, protected static, for building the new lair for our dark tales.

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Whitby rises from the grave

As anyone who has read my novel knows, I love Whitby. And I've never even been there. From The Yorkshire Post:

A seaside town which was once one of Britain's worst unemployment blackspots has come first in a national survey of British resorts. During the 1990s the fortunes of Captain Cook's old port of Whitby had sunk to an all-time low with the worst jobless figures in North Yorkshire. But the port's economy has been regenerated by millions of pounds following visits by the Australian replica of Cook's ship Endeavour. It is bidding for World Heritage status as the home of Grade I listed Whitby Abbey, and at the other end of the scale it has prospered from its Dracula connection – Bram Stoker was inspired to write the spinechiller in Whitby and set an early chapter in the port. Now Whitby has come number one in a poll of seaside destinations by Holiday Which? – part of the Which? network, formerly the Consumers' Association – which says UK coastal resorts have come a long way in terms of the quality of their facilities and the cleanliness of their waters. Combing the shores from St Ives to the Firth of Clyde to select the 10 best, they decided Whitby was "a historic port with every-thing you could possibly want from a seaside resort". "Captain Cook set sail from Whitby on his way to the Pacific and, in Bram Stoker's novel, Count Dracula leapt ashore here from the ghost ship Demeter in the form of an immense dog," Holiday Which? says. "Without pausing, the undead aristo skedaddled up the 199 steps to St Mary's church graveyard, and so missed the chance to sink his fangs into some of the finest fish and chips in the UK at the Magpie Café. "Whitby is a town of two halves, its postcard-perfect harbour split by the River Esk. Beneath the jagged ruins of the seventh century abbey on the east side, the old town is a gem of cobbled ginnels where pasty-faced Goths browse jet jewellery in Georgian shops."

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Ghostly 'Fingerprints'

From The Film Asylum:

Brothers Cleveland Productions, an independent producer of motion pictures, has announced the completion of principal photography on its feature film, Fingerprints, a supernatural thriller. The film stars Kristen Cavallari, Leah Pipes, Josh Henderson, Andrew Lawrence, Lou Diamond Philips, Sally Kirkland and Geoffrey Lewis. Fingerprints is based on the widely publicised urban legend that took place 50 years ago in a small Texas town, where a school bus filled with children was hit by a train killing everyone on-board. The ghosts of the children are supposedly still in the area where the accident took place. It is said that if a car is put in neutral on the railroad tracks, the children will push the car off the tracks, leaving only their ghostly fingerprints behind. The movie centers on a troubled teenager who discovers the gruesome truth behind the legend.
Is it just me, or does Lou Diamond Philips seem to be in most movies of this type?

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Nepal's king turns to 'god-woman'

Wouldn't she be a goddess? From India's

KATHMANDU: Four years of incessant ritual worship and animal sacrifices at various shrines in Nepal and abroad may have failed to uphold his absolute rule, but King Gyanendra is seeking fresh divine help. The king is now consulting a new "god woman", said a media report Wednesday. He is clearly undeterred by the fact that his 15-month rule, punctuated by erratic actions supposedly taken on the advice of his retinue of astrologers and god men, made the palace so unpopular that Nepalis are clamouring to abolish monarchy. A middle-aged, little-educated woman from Nepalgunj town in midwestern Dang district is the latest "divine mediator" for the Narayanhity Royal Palace, the popular Jana Aastha weekly reported Wednesday. Known as Bijuli Mata, the woman has supernatural powers and can bail the King out of his difficulties, royalists believe. snip Bijuli Mata replaces Kali Baba, a god man from India, who is said to know people in high places in the Indian capital. Last year, the Baba had also been flown in to meet the King and reportedly pray as well as mediate to strengthen his rule. Less than a week before the Bijuli Mata's arrival, the King made his first public appearance since surrendering power last week when he worshipped at a temple in Kathmandu Valley. Accompanied by Queen Komal, he had four animals and a bird sacrificed at the shrine of Dakshin Kali, whose worship is believed to increase one's power and destroy enemies.
Maybe it isn't always good to be king.

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How to properly appreciate a cemetery

From the Anthropology Outreach Office of the Smithsonian Institution: "Exploring Historic Cemeteries"

The exercise below focuses on historic cemeteries. These cemeteries provide historic archaeologists with an interesting opportunity to examine how artifacts (in this case gravestones) vary at different times and in different places. Such variations often reflect how a culture is changing, how cultures differ from one another, and how artifacts reflect these changes and differences. To understand differences in gravestones, archaeologists observe both the individual markers and the larger context or setting of these graves. In general, they ask how important are artifact patterns and the context of these patterns to archaeological interpretations. Select a cemetery to study and answer the questions for each part of the exercise.
  1. What is the name of this cemetery? Spend about 15 minutes just walking around the cemetery. Pay particular attention to fences, paths, paved drives, chapels and other buildings, plantings, and other features of the landscape. Identify the boundaries of the cemetery. Is it marked by a fence, sidewalk, shrubs, or in some other way?
  2. Make a rough sketch map showing the location of the fences, paths, and other features you have identified. Note the earliest and most recent gravestones and sketch in their locations. Does the cemetery seem planned or are the graves located haphazardly?
  3. Using a standard form [...], record 20 gravestones. Try to find different styles of gravestones to record. Do you find certain gravestone styles in only some areas of the cemetery and not others? Are these styles associated with only certain time periods? What does this tell you about the size of the cemetery at different times and how gravestone styles changed over time?
I've been meaning to check out some of Seattle's historic cemeteries - I'll have to bring this with me.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

California ghost hunters conference convenes

From The San Francisco Chronicle:

Mendocino -- The ocean is breaking thunderously against the cliffs just a hundred or so yards from the historic Mendocino Hotel, and a misty fog is starting to appear on the horizon, swallowing the setting sun. A cold wind begins to blow as the sky darkens. The scene is set for ghost hunting. This will be the setting for the culmination of the 2006 California Ghost Hunters Conference, held April 28-29. It's a chance to use both technology and spiritual gifts to try to coax sleeping ghosts into shaking hands with the living. Where better to start than a graveyard? A dozen or so cars caravan to the outskirts of town, to an ancient cemetery mostly overgrown with weeds. A sliver of moon hovers high overhead, and the horizon is orange and blue as we tumble out of our cars and start walking quietly through the tombstones. As was recommended in a seminar earlier in the day, respect is paramount when trying to contact the dead. You don't demand an interaction, you request it. Not like those guys in the very popular "Ghost Hunters" TV show, it was noted, who can be downright rude.

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An American Haunting

The Cincinnati Post on a movie I'll get to see probably after I'm dead and buried and return as a ghost at the current rate:

Before serial killers and psycho killers and killer dolls, movies depended on the quaint notion of the supernatural for chills. "An American Haunting" takes that retro approach and comes up with more scares than many a modern gore fest. "An American Haunting" focuses on a famous, much-written-about case of a supernatural entity - the Bell Witch of Tennessee - and gives it a faithful, flavorful treatment. The subject matter may be historic, but the look and psychology of the film are contemporary enough to please sophisticated moviegoers who are predisposed to believe in forces beyond what can be seen.

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Dracula rises in sequel

From Time Out London:

Dracula is all set to return from the grave, with director Jan De Bont resurrecting the long-fanged anti-hero. Bram Stoker's estate has authorized a sequel to the author's classic gothic novel, and writer Ian Holt has put together a screenplay entitled 'The Un-Dead' (the subtitle of Stoker's original). Holt's script will take place 25 years after the original, and includes characters like Mina Harker and Van Helsing as well as Inspector Cotford, a police officer who was edited from Stoker's original manuscript.
More here and here.

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Police chase off ghost hunters

From The Carlisle (U.K.) News & Star:

GHOST hunters who break into a mysterious and remote Lake District house could be putting their lives at risk because of the dangerous state of the property. Police and local authority officials are concerned about a series of break-ins at Rigg Beck, the famous purple house at the foot of Newlands Hause, midway between Keswick and Buttermere. A police spokesman said that teenagers had been coming to the house, which once provided theatrical lodgings for the likes of Tom Courtenay and Bob Hoskins and was a favourite of poet Ted Hughes. Ted Hughes was also a regular visitor and Mrs Vee kept copies of letters and poems he sent to her.

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American Haunting

Someone asked me about this movie in another message thread. I haven't had the chance to see a movie in a while, but this is one I hope to see soon. From The Associated Press:

The spirits make way too much noise in "An American Haunting," a supernatural tale whose overbearing clamor is redeemed somewhat by engaging performances and fine 19th century period detail. Things don't go bump in the night - they go shrieking and caterwauling. Director Courtney Solomon, who made 2000's ludicrous "Dungeons & Dragons," takes a big step upward here, though subtlety seemingly remains a foreign concept to him. Creepy as it is at times, "American Haunting" loses much of its fright potential amid the frenzied visuals and screeching vocalizations Solomon employs to re-create the horrors wrought by an unworldly presence tormenting a Tennessee farm family in the early 1800s. Thank the spirits for the divine presence of Sissy Spacek and Donald Sutherland as Lucy and John Bell, the earthy souls whose family is haunted, and Rachel Hurd-Wood as their daughter, Betsy Bell, the focus of the phantom's wrath. The Red River, Tenn., family's unexplained haunting has fascinated ghost-hunters for almost 200 years. The film begins with a notation that the Bell haunting was the only documented case in American history in which a spirit caused a person's death.
By the way, I'll note is not lessened by the negativity of the reviewer. I find that most film reviewers are so biased against horror films of all types that if it is praised at all, it must be extraordinarily good.

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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Killer time

Sorry for the lack of updates. If I told you I'd been too busy to post because of multiple killings, you probably wouldn't believe me and I wouldn't blame you, but nevertheless it would be true. And I spent most of last night and today with my three daughters because they haven't seen much of me either in the past two weeks. I watched part of The Unholy Night before they arrived home and then we watched Flash Gordon, one of the most entertaining bad movies ever made, together. Today I mowed the grass and worked on their treehouse, replacing the old steps with new. I took my daughters out for lunch at a Chinese restaurant, just the three of them, while Ms. Carnacki got some needed alone time at the gym and acupuncturist. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and now that three of them are down for a nap it is hard for me to fathom horror or ghosts or even vampires. Never fear. I'll post more later.

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

A happy story about death

By special request for BooMan. I remember when I first met my dog Ben. He was a beagle puppy with a pack of other puppies in the bare dirt back yard of my uncle Ben. Ben was my grandfather's brother. My first name came from my grandfather and my middle name from my uncle. I named the dog after Ben. He (the puppy, not my uncle) had jumped higher than the others and I liked his enthusiasm. I was four. You don't put too much thought into picking out a dog when you're four years old. At first, Ben (the pup again although it also is true of my uncle) had the run of our farm chasing rabbits and jumping back from the big yellow tom farm cat. Tom (the cat, not my neighbor who also was a dear curmudgeon) terrified Ben, but little else did, including the skunk that sprayed him and left him smelling awful even after we bathed him several times. Ben (the dog although also true of my uncle) was rather lazy. He loved nothing more than sitting under the old apple tree at the foot of somebody. He wasn't particular (also true of my uncle) and he would travel from house to house for meals (again, true of my uncle, a World War II veteran who fought in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France before returning home not quite right in the head. His wife, a particular woman, divorced him after he came home late -- or early in the morning depending on your point of view -- pissing in her flowers planted in front of the house one too many times.) But though he often scrounged food at the neighbors' -- and where we lived neighbors were a bit of a walk for him -- he always returned home for his meals as well. He was something of a character (also true of my uncle) and well-liked despite of or maybe because of his character flaws. As he grew into an old hunting dog, he didn't like the trouble of hunting if it meant getting up from in front of the wood stove (also true of my uncle).

I loved the smell of him. He smelled of the outdoors and he made me think of hunting prints although there was not much classy about him. He often listened to my troubles without comment except to lick my hand (the dog not my uncle who wasn't much for licking -- or listening to someone's troubles for that matter) and he was a great companion (true of my uncle as well.). When Ben (the dog, my uncle died later) passed away, I was living at home while going to college at the local branch campus. I cried over him and did not want him to be gone. And to be honest, he isn't. I think of him all the time. I can remember the feel of his fur, the way he liked his ears rubbed, the smell of him and the feel of his tongue on my hands. Nothing is gone forever as long as it is loved. Grief seems like a terrible thing. It isn't. It is the passing storm with the rainfall of tears to wash away the sadness and leave behind the good memories shining like a rainbow behind it. I think something that my uncle Ben said when he died is probably true about the passing of my dog Ben. My older sister, a registered nurse, and my younger sister, then a respiratory therapist, both were working when Ben came in to the hospital for the last time. He told them he had had a good life. And he was ready to go. And he did.

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Ernie Pyle on Spanish speaking Americans

I'm late to this by a few days, but apparently people on the right think there might be something unAmerican about Americans speaking or singing in Spanish. A reader at Digby raised a good question.

A reader writes in to ask:
Please tell us again why the Spanish translation of the National Anthem is making wingnut heads explode when they all but genuflect at the waving of the Confederate Rebel flag? Tell me please, which of these was meant to turn hearts to America, and which is meant to tear the country apart?
I don't know the answer to that. Apparently honoring the confederate flag is ok because it's a tribute to the heritage and culture of some Americans' forebears. But that's the only culture and heritage to which Americans are allowed to pay such tribute. The one that seceded from the United States and created its own country.
So I'm re-reading Ernie Pyle's Brave Men. I go through phrases where I break out all of Ernie Pyle's books and re-read them. He's got an incredible gift for words and imagery. And then I came upon some passages that he wrote during the Sicily campaign that are relevant to the debate today. So what does Ernie Pyle write?:
The bulk of the 120th  hailed from my adopted state of New Mexico. They were part of the old New Mexico outfit, most of which was lost on Bataan.  It was good to get back to those slow-talking, wise and easy people of the desert, and good to speak of places like Las Croces, Socorro, and Santa Rosa. snip The 120th was made up of Spanish Americans, Indians, straight New Mexicans, and a smattering of men from the East.
[There's a long section of names and addresses the way Pyle, an old time newspaper columnist would do]
The unit's losses from lines and shellfire were moderately heavy. Colonel Frantz estimated that half their work had been done under at least spasmodic shellfire, and at one time his engineers were eight and half miles out ahead of the infantry.
[More on the tough conditions and the Colonel living just like the men.]
A large percentage of the battalion spoke Spanish, and occasionally I heard some of the officers talking Spanish among themselves, just to keep in practice, I suppose. That New Mexico bunch missed more than anything, I believe, the Spanish dishes they were accustomed to back home.
[Any typos are mine and not Ernie's.] So why is the heritage of Spanish speaking Americans less desirable that that of the Confederacy? Beats the hell out of me.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ghost ships plundered for cargo

From The Telegraph of London:

Soaring commodity prices have inspired a new marine salvage venture to plunge the ocean depths in search of shipwrecked copper and tin. snip Deep6 has acquired a detailed archive of more than 200 20th-century shipping and cargo losses. It will be assisted by David Mearns, a world expert in shipwreck location. The archive contains the coordinates of merchant vessels that were sunk en route to England or Germany during the Second World War.
OK, it's not spooky on it's face, but it has enough details to inspire amateur horror writers.

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In defense of goth

A Canadian columnist has a defense of goth culture in the wake of triple murder in Canada that has people pointing fingers at Vampire Freaks.

The case in Alberta is just one where there are much bigger issues than just the clothes one wears.

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