Saturday, 1 October 2022

castillo del diablo (10. 184)

While visiting Rosarito in Baja California, friend of the blog, Fancy Notions, stumbled upon a most usual six-storey beach house bedecked with gargoyles and monstrous statuary and crammed to the brim with antiques that is yet uncompleted obsession of a real estate developer called Tony Wells. This Gothic residence chocked full of period furnishings, coffins and chandeliers has become quite the draw for tourists and there are plans to convert property into a museum, relenting to the throngs of visitors who wanted a peek inside. Much more at the link above.

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

you are not drinking a piรฑa coladas at trader vic’s, young man, you’re just not old enough

First aired on this day in 1997, the 1957 b-movie I Was a Teenage Werewolf starring Michael Landon (Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, Highway to Heaven) as troubled youth Tony Rivers was lampooned by MST3K. A fight in school garners Tony (Landon) the attention of the local detective who persuades him to speak with a staff psychologist who proposes a regimen of hypnotherapy to help deal with his bouts of anger.  Reluctant at first but then convinced he needs to seek help to curb his violent (often dairy-based) inclinations after another brawl during a Halloween party, Tony submits to seeing the doctor, who has the patient pegged rather as the ideal test-candidate for an experimental serum developed to regress personality and bring out primitive instincts. One side-effect of the treatment is of course lycanthropy.

Sunday, 31 October 2021

7x7: happy halloween edition

robert the doll: Key West’s most cursed object—see also—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lots more to see here)  

zombie jamboree: Harry Belafonte’s actual ghoulish calypso number—notwithstanding the associations with the Banana Boat Song 

la calavera catrina: a sugar skull puppet presents a primer on Dรญa de los Muertos  

westsonality: enjoy Paul Lynde’s 1976 Halloween Special with a cavalcade of guest stars  

respect the sabbath: periodic movements in the US to hold no Halloween on Sundays  

main title theme: the score for John Carpenter’s classic horror film Halloween 

lovecraft country: welcome to my metaverse—see previously

dia do saci

 Designated by an NGO calling themselves amigos of this trickster character of Brazilian folklore to coincide with Halloween as a way to counter American cultural hegemony, the holiday, even where backed with state-support, only enjoys limited recognition and celebration—despite familiarity and popularity of its mascot.

The monopod figure with an enchanted cap and always smoking a pipe, mostly active at night, can be dangerous and malicious—though most pranks are merely annoying—but will grant the wishes of those who trap him or free him, liable to caught in a bottle while disappearing and reappearing in the midst of a whirlwind. Reportedly Saci’s magic cap, according to those who’ve tried to steal it, has an indelibly foul smell and those who’ve handled it can never wash the stench away.  Saci can be propitiated with offerings of a libation of cachaรงa and a measure of tobacco for his pipe.

Saturday, 30 October 2021

8x8

the motion picture that pits steel weapons against steel nerves: Joan Crawford in Herman Cohen’s 1967 Berserk! plus a medley of other horror films 

phenaskistiscopic vinyl: animated record albums—see previously  

cop26: designer installs a sinking Monopoly style house on Putney Weir ahead of this crucial climate conference 

ghostly footsteps (with chains): in 1977, BBC’s foley artists (previously) released a best-selling record of spooky sound-effects  

cloaca maxima: Rome’s revered sewer-system—see also  

auchan daily mascarpone cheese: a decade of Russian music videos  

the high-handed enemy: director Denis Villeneuve storybooks the gom jabbar scene 

 kitchen witchery: a tarot deck to divine one’s dinner

Friday, 29 October 2021

spirit halloween

Courtesy of Boing Boing, whilst the Horror GIF Necronomicon may not have an exhaustive selection of every spooky animation that was circulating during the nineties and naughties, there’s certainly an impressive amount to be found and the site (an original Neocities property) seems to be still undead and kicking.

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

7x7

in the stacks: museum curators uncover what may be the oldest depiction of a ghost on an ancient Mesopotamian tablet 

1928 porter: a look at the 1965 short-lived sitcom (see also) My Mother the Car 

this climate does not exist: visualisations of one’s neighbourhood under the climate crisis from Nag on the Lake  

ev: more outstandingly odd electric vehicles from the on-line market Alibaba—via Things Magazine  

reasonable person: “a moron in a hurry” is codified in Anglophone legal statute—via the New Shelton wet/dry 

graphics processing unit: glitch art in medical imaging—via Waxy  

don’t go wasting your emotion: the ABBA classic, as performed by a vampire—via Everlasting Blรถrt

Saturday, 23 October 2021

7x7

floh u. trรถdel: couple’s costume ideas—via the ever excellence Everlasting Blรถrt 

boutonniere: Harriet Parry’s flower arrangements reproduce iconic fine art and classic tarot card designs—via ibฤซdem

microface: a quick quiz to identify whether the subject is a font or a Marvel character (see previously)—via Kottke’s Quick Links  

์˜ค์ง•์–ด ๊ฒŒ์ž„: Squid Games Funko-Pop characters—see also 

pyrrhic victory: the rules of play for a variant called Atomic Chess allows a pawn crossing the breadth of the game board promotion to a scale that would instantaneously annihilate all pieces—of both sides

rollercoaster tycoon: Saudi Arabia transforms a decommissioned drilling platform into an extreme amusement park  

hell no: a sensible horror film

Friday, 15 October 2021

spook it up

Through some experimentation with text style-changes—dialing-up the fright-factor—our artificial intelligencer (previously here and here) has been able to solicit recommendations for Halloween costume improvement, surpassing her initial concept in terms of keeping with the reason for the season.

More about methodology and algorithmic improvement at the link above, but we were particularly intrigued with the below prompt and response: 

Input: I’m dressing as a princess for Halloween! 

More interesting: You are preparing to confront the powerful Uber Faerie, one of the rulers of the week, he who commands the forces of week, including faeries, goblins, toadstools, lampposts, and fleas. It is to be your first confrontation with him, and you are secretly afraid. 

Whilst I might not be able to visual convey my distress, I do very well to better understand my character’s motivation. Be sure to check out how machine-learning altered the tone and tenor of a beloved Winne the Pooh theme song with the same parameters in mind.

development hell

The Maximum Fun podcasting network (previously) has been hosting a block party this week to introduce the neighbours—that is, new programming adjacent to the shows that one already listens to discover new content and expand one’s listenership, helpfully recommending crossing-over points and places with easy egress for those unfamiliar with the programme’s content and approach. Already feeling over-subscribed, I am reluctant to add more shows but was always about Dead Pilots’ Society—see also here and here—whose premise is to unearth spec scripts for sit-coms and procedurals that were never produced and give them a proper table-read with a cast of professional actors and stand-ups. One stellar point of entry is episode twenty from 2017 that covers the bizarre pitch from writer Rob Schrab for Jetpackula performed with the talents of Patton Oswalt, Sujatat Day and Constance Wu about a has-been graphic novel illustrator whom befriends a vampire from the future, which was ultimately deemed too expensive to create. Check it out at the link above.

8x8

day-walker: monster lore invented by Hollywood—via Miss Cellania’s links 

tastes like pencil-shavings and heartbreak: niche Chicago liquor Jeppson’s Malรถrt  

vermithrax pejorative: dress up as Galen (Peter McNicol) from Dragonslayer plus other obscure, vintage costumes—via Super Punch  

modelleisenbahn: real-time model railroading with Hamburg’s transit system—via Maps Mania 

hedge rider: an etymological celebration of wizards, witches, warlocks and more 

๐Ÿ•‰: chanting, harmonised breathing and parasyphonic sounds  

mundane outfits: revisiting a tradition of dressing as highly specific yet relatable, everyday, social faux pas—an unfancy dress ball held in Japan and Taiwan 

the calls are coming from inside the building: a lampoon of the haunted house film trope

Thursday, 7 October 2021

shock theatre

With the debut of the syndicated package of made-for-television monster movies after a few minor roles in a Western series—one being an undertaker—on this day in 1957 in the Philadelphia market, John Zacherle (*1918 - †2016) began a decades’ long career as a horror host, editing a pair of anthologies of ghost stories plus penning a few monster novelty songs. Often filling in for his colleague and fellow Philadelphian broadcaster Dick Clark when touring, Zacherle was the substitute MC for American Bandstand. As a promotional stunt to mark his move to New York, Zacherley staged a presidential campaign in 1960, running as a “cool ghoul” but failing to meet the threshold to get on the ballot in any state. Continuing the same format as Shock Theatre, the interstitial breaks became more and more elaborate with a cast of monstrous characters and branched out into a few motion picture parts as well as hosting a cartoon variety hour and adolescent dance show in New Jersey called Disc-O-Teen. Through the seventies and eighties, Zacherle was a Prog Rock disk-jockey and in an array of b-movies. His success and notoriety helped his niece Bonnie Zacherle develop and successfully pitch her 1982 toy line, My Little Pony—the horror.

Friday, 1 October 2021

this ain’t no sunday school picnic

Having garnered quite a bit of experience and reputation in the Pittsburg market making television commercials, industrials and educational shorts with their production company The Latent Image, George A. Romero (previously) and John Russo resolved to make a full-length feature responding to audience interest in the genre of horror, realising their ambitions on this day in 1968—as our faithful chronicler informs, with the premier of the classic featuring a growing horde of the cannibalistic undead surrounding a group barricaded in a farmhouse in Pennsylvania. Though establishing the rules and conventions for future films of this type, zombies are never mentioned, and like all good monster movies allegorically tracks and critiques contemporary social mores including Cold War paranoia, Western hegemony and domestic apartheid.

botober

For this latest instalment of the annual tradition of using machine learning to generate Halloween and autumnal themed sketching—or decorating prompts—we really enjoyed some of the curated favourites from Janelle Shane (previously) and gamely humans take to these suggestions. In order of model dataset size—Moustaches creep creepily; the unseen graveyard stretches for miles; mist-sheep chew on tombstones. A slightly less experienced, exposed artificial intelligence recommends: the question mark from a box; half a cup of milk; a flappy spider; a flappy tea; Ghost traitors and A zombl. Much more, including submissions and unrelated prompts for animals (Bearllionaire) and landscapes (Library of Lava) at AI Weirdness at the link above.

Friday, 24 September 2021

6x6

social distancing: a racier version of Bernie Sanders inauguration getup (previously)—via Everlasting Blรถrt  

directory assistance: file folders are a foreign concept to younger pupils—via Waxy  

street view: a stroll around New York City in 1914 

the matter of britain: early fragment of the Arthurian legend discovered and translated 

we are on the worst timeline: the future used to be cool 

apocalypse no: as a global community, we have overcome some high-hurdles

Saturday, 31 July 2021

you tacky thing, you put them on

Though perhaps too early to be think about one’s Halloween attire or even how Halloween will be observed in the coming three months (or perhaps not), one needs the lead time to get one’s order in for these quite stunning and custom-tailored, highly-specific one-off David Bowie cosplay outfits, via Dangerous Minds, which are of course acceptable for weddings and other special occasions and everyday wear as well. Wanda Cobar’s shop selling celebrity inspired costumes and dancewear also includes various iconic glam get-ups of Elton John and Freddie Mercury.

Saturday, 31 October 2020

8x8

no wait, that was the prince of tides: researchers identify neural cells responsible for episodic, cinematic memories 

there goes the neighbourhood: a five-storey historic building in Shanghai walks to its new location, avoiding demolition, via Slashdot 

utopia planitia: future Martian settlements will not be colonies beholden to terrestrial governments

anti-pop: Danny Elfman—previously of Oingo Boingo, releases his first surprise single in three-and-a-half decades  

stingy jack: the legend behind the Halloween lantern from Nag on the Lake  

brototype: the baked-goods based photography of Jill Burrow 

haute couture: Ken Tanabe’s annual DIY ideas for stylish Halloween costumes  

brain-in-a-vat: laboratory-cultured neural organoids could be conscious, via Miss Cellania’s Links

copaganda

We enjoyed this neologism, this portmanteau from Boing Boing—specifically here calling out the media for their compliant rebroadcasting of perennial moral panics and seasonal hysteria involving poisoned, adulterated Halloween candy (even at a time we’d do better to discourage trick-or-treating in the first place)—and also like how the word speaks to the wider phenomenon of policing in America especially with the militarisation and mission-creep of law enforcement and how cops have become racism valets ready to serve and protect the status quo and justify their own positions of power.

Friday, 30 October 2020

necromantic tripos

Buried in a 1925 newsletter from Trinity College, Cambridge we are treated to a fanciful syllabus from analytic realist Charles Dunbar Broad, whom like his contemporary colleagues Bertrand Russell (previously here and here) and G. E. Moore, would have rejected as quickly and wholly as the Platonic forms, that was surely contributed to amuse his students and reads very much like a modern wizarding 101 with courses in magic, alchemy and astrology—with practica dedicated to scrying, rhabdomancy and the interpretation of entrails—to name a few.

A special disclaimer section follows of prohibitions that enrolees are to adhere to, for instance on the Evocation of Elementals: Owing to the terms of the fire-insurance on the College buildings it is necessary to prohibit absolutely the evocation of Salamanders in rooms in College. It is an immemorial rule of the College that the baths are “places for ablution and not for the evocation of Undines.” “No member of the college may make, have in his possession, melt, or transfix a mommet [poppet, a voodoo doll] of the Master or of any of the Fellows, Chaplains, Librarian, or Organist. Bedmakers have instructions to report immediately to the Dean of College the presence of any mommet that they find.” And on Levitation and Bilocation, they are “strictly forbidden in Hall, Chapel, the Library, and during lectures.” All in all, this seems like a pretty fun, charming curriculum and Broad’s pupils must have gotten a kick out of it.

Saturday, 24 October 2020

8x8

bongo cat: a joyous, simple noisemaker—via Boing Boing  

der orchideengarten: Austrian fantasy-horror revue that prefigured and informed Weird Tales and related properties  

backscatter: spooky, simple photography techniques and visual effects to haunt one’s Halloween picture portfolio 

porto-potty: Austrian postal service issues a special, rather expensive toilet-paper stamp whose proceeds go to charities benefiting those impacted most by COVID-19 

llama glama: a llama-based webfont—via Pasa Bon!  

smitten kitchen: for this US Food Day (made-up as a counterpart to Earth Day but never really took off) a look into the recipe library of Georgia O’Keeffe plus others  

clean up on aisle four: glass-floor of a supermarket in Dublin reveals a millennium old glimpse of Hiberno-Norse history (see also here and here

flags and drums: young brothers in Pakistan play BBC News theme on the table