Sunday, 21 November 2021

8x8

turnspit: eccentric, utilitarian canine breeds that have passed out of fashion but could be revived—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lots more to see there) 

ball-and-chain: this leashless ankle weight system to control one’s toddler will only make baby invincible—via Super Punch  

miss spirit world 1960: a pageant sourced in spectral photography of the departed  

something—that if true, you couldn’t handle it: a close reading of the recently indicted QANon Shaman’s manifesto  

on รฉcrit aussi ielle: the authoritative French language Petit Robert adds a third, gender-neutral personal pronoun—a concatenation of the masculine and feminine forms (see also)  

the midnight special: eight hours of footage from David Bowie’s television programme the “The 1980 Floor Show,” an episode guest-curated by the artist  

hocus-pocus: the hidden overhauls happening the faรงades of Russian construction sites (see also)  

yes, this is dog: a video phone that allows apartment-bound dogs to call their humans

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

Friday, 15 October 2021

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

Saturday, 9 October 2021

7x7

the boy on the bike: a trip down Golden Hill in Shaftesbury, Dorset with a beloved bread advert directed by Ridley Scott with music by Dvoล™รกk  

dedication—devotion, turning all the night time into the day: more on the hypothesis (see previously) that the Dire Straits song can improve any movie ending 

the hauntening: various AIs try their hand at spookifying, exorcising Victorian mansions—previously

outbreak: a timelapse of COVID-19 cases in the United States over the past eighteen months 

just the punctation: what text without words reveals to authors about their style—via Waxy  

abecedarium: a 1968 Alphabet (previously) of the Dada movement hosted by Hans Richter (caution, some rapid, flashing images) 

raลกรญnovo embankment: revitalised Prague riverfront features vaulted arches for cafes and gallery spaces

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.

7x7

cultured: beautiful Petri dish art (see also) from Dasha Plesen  

tax centinels: protesting college students conspired to create “penny famines” across the US in the late 1930s 

rediffusion: the Thames Television archives—via Things magazine  

fat bear bracket: follow the celebration of survival and success with Katmai’s nature preserve ursine residents—via Hyperalleric’s Required Reading 

the thing on the fourble board: a 1948 episode of the radio programme Quiet, Please! is considered to be one of the scariest broadcasts ever 

bisection: the spiralling figural sculpture of Isabel Miramontes  

frustule: the rich diversity of diatoms illustrated in an 1890 volume

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.

Sunday, 22 August 2021

easy-bake coven

Via the Awesomer, we learn that the gag children’s book cover parody has been expanded into a whole series of retro-inspired educational texts for precocious young witches and warlocks and other delinquents—see also. Be sure to Steven Rhodes’ complete Sinister Seventies line and My Little Occult Book Club collection at the links above.

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

555-2368

The single released by session guitarist and song writer Ray Parker Jr as theme to the eponymous film (see previously) on this day in 1984 climbed to the top of the US charts and held that place for three weeks. In the UK, it reached the number two spot in mid-September, staying there for the same amount of time. The Oscar-nominated song lost to Stevie Wonder’s Best Original Song, the ballad for The Woman in Red “I Just Called to Say I Love You” (see also) and was the subject of a lawsuit—settled the following year out of court, Parker accused of having plagiarised the melody of Huey Lewis and the News’ “I Want a New Drug” by the band.

Monday, 1 March 2021

your daily demon: abraxas

An aspect of Christian godhood of Gnostic traditions, we have encountered this sixty-ninth spirit beforehand, who also goes by the name Decarabia, and was thought to govern three-hundred sixty-five skies with as many virtues. In demonology, Abraxas (ฮ‘ฮ’ฮกฮ‘ฮžฮ‘ฮฃ and the related incantation abracadabra) is an infernal marquis who controls thirty legions and rules from today through the fifth of March and is considered, according to some sources including our sometimes illustrator Jacques-Albin-Simon Collin de Plancy, responsible for the figure of Jesus Christ, dispatching Him to Earth as a benevolent ghost and is described as an anguipede deity, that is a chimera with snakes for feet and the head of a king. Abraxas is opposed by the angel Rochel and has power over birds and herbs.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

ferฤlia

Marking the end of a nine-day festival honouring familial ancestors called Parentalia (dies parentales, ancestral days), as historian and poet Ovid records in his book on Fasti, Romans across the Empire were prohibited in worship of the gods and instead were to visit the tombs of their departed and lay wreaths and leave offers of violets, salt and wine-soaked bread. More elaborate votives were permitted but this was sufficient to appease the spirits and the practice was strictly enforced, lest Rome return to a time when Ferฤlia was neglected and restless ghosts haunted the streets. As with most Roman holidays, observance was mostly a domestic, private affair and what public rites were held are an obscured and confused accounting, the only surviving description involving a drunk woman holding seven black beans (see also) in her mouth and lighting incense over the grave of a mouse, and sewing shut the mouth of a fish—then proclaiming, “Hostiles linguas inimicaque uinximus ora,” I have gagged spiteful tongues and muzzled unfriendly mouths.

Thursday, 28 January 2021

the wise wife of keith

Garrotted and burned at the stake for witchcraft on this day in 1591 on the order of James VI and said to haunt the halls of Holyrood as a naked ghost, Agnes Sampson was a healer and midwife and one of the more notable defendants of the well documented North Berwick witch trails.

The Scottish king inspired by his experience in the court of Denmark-Norway, visiting his in-laws on the occasion of marrying Anne of Denmark, and accounts of witch-hunting and practicing the dark arts—convinced during a fraught return voyage that a curse was responsible for the stormy passage. Subsequent arrests and interrogations conducted by the king himself in a specially convened tribunal was covered by a contemporary pamphleteer in the Newes from Scotland, which contained proceedings and quoted Sampson’s litany of confessions, implicating others and admitting with a seemingly taunting air that she had tried to drown the newly-weds and another had fashioned a charm out of a toad to make the king impotent. Reportedly James had been willing to declare Sampson innocent until her final confession which detailed the nuptial night of the James and Anne in Oslo with accuracy only one in communion with the devil could know. The writer with the by-line, James Carmichael, of the reportage later advised James on his other famous book (besides his patronage for the Bible), Dรฆmonologie.

Friday, 1 January 2021

muddlemore manor

The seventeenth and final episode airing on this day in 1972 that brought arc of narrative of this last iterative trope of a trio of teens (one, the brainy ginger, portrayed by Micky Dolenz of the Monkees) solving para-paranormal (most had a non-supernatural explanation) mysteries with the help of a sidekick and readily mobile back to its original premise, “Ghost Grabbers,” taking our friendly spirit, the titular Funky Phantom, an colonial rebel from the US Revolutionary War called Johnathan Wellington “Mudsy” Muddlemore and voiced by Daws Butler, repurposing his affectations developed for the character Snagglepuss (which is perfectly acceptable because we didn’t get enough Snagglepuss, also the talent behind Yogi Bear, Cap’t Crunch, Fred Flagstone, Quisp, Chilly Willy, Wally Gator and Huckleberry Hound).
Seeing two British Redcoats infiltrating the premises, Mudsy and his now ghost cat named Boo, hide in the housing of a large grandfather clock but are trapped inside, eventually expiring. The pair are released in the first episode when the teens happen on the estate on a dark and stormy night and reset the hands of the clock to the correct time, thus releasing their spirits. On suspicion that the Redcoats were hiding looted treasure, two recurring schemers disguise themselves as ghosts of the British soldiers to try and scare information out of Mudsy.

Friday, 25 December 2020

the stone tape theory

Adapted for television and first broadcast as a Christmas ghost story back in 1972, the eponymous play directed by Peter Sasdy and written by Thomas Nigel Kneale innovatively tempered horror with elements of scientific plausibility by a research and development team of an electronics firm that have occupied a recently renovated a reportedly haunted Victorian mansion as their new facility and begin collaborating on a new project in computer programming and finding a new format for recording digital media.
Once mysterious events begin happening including the death of one colleague, they conduct some research and interview locals to discover that an unsuccessful exorcism had taken place in the house in 1890. The chief researcher theorises that the apparition that frightened his colleague to death was not a ghost in the traditional sense but that the room, the exposed stone walls somehow psychically recorded that botched casting out spirits and tries to tease out the secret of triggering the playback mechanism and harness it for data storage, only to realise that successive tragedies record over one another. Since the broadcast, the hypothesis of residual hauntings and the “stone tape theory” have been adopted by parapsychological investigators.

Sunday, 18 October 2020

this is what happens when streams are crossed

We previously enjoyed the musical mashups The Grey Album and the Beastles (full compilations at the link below) and so appreciated making the acquaintance with the broader repertoire of cross-over classics with Kraftwerk and here with Ray Parker Jr’s Ghostbusters vs Intergalactic (see also).

Saturday, 23 May 2020

i'll just set my bourbon and advocaat down right here

Premiering in theatres in the US on this day in 1980, the Stanley Kubrick adaptation of the Steven King novel of three years prior presents a certain corollary to and correspondence with the present Zeitgeist of wintering, hibernation and generally being not taxed mentally or physically with its foil of an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic and domestic abuser hoping to take full advantage of this generous sabbatical for self-improvement but woefully unable to.
What do you think? That much of the milieu is quite resonant, even if the plot and search and insistence for meaning is receding—just like we are focusing on inconsistencies, ambiguities and attributed symbolism as curative guideposts to navigate ourselves through this time when for many of us, we just have one job to do. Isolation is not only prone to the compromised credibility of an unreliable narrator but also can cause us to doubt and question our credentials as dependable observers—and whether we’re haunted by real ghosts or the hypochondria cabin-fever.