Friday 26 January 2024

12x12 (11. 294)

brownstone: Gotham Gothic rowhouses as playing cards  

wall of eyes: Radiohead spinoff artist Jonny Greenwood’s latest album 

scrabblegram: a form of constrained writing using all one hundred tiles of the game  

blackula: a look at the brave inversion of exploitation cinema  

research purposes: profiles in the pornographers of Wikimedia who image and caption—see also—human sexuality, via Web Curios  

parks & rec: a map of sites in the US funded by FDR’s New Deal programme—via Waxy 

best laptop 2024: readership, AI and the collapse of media outlets  

nullification: Texas governor, alleging the US federal government has failed to protect the country from an immigrant invasion, hints at secession  

the compaynys of beestys & fowlys: revisiting how animal groupings (see previously on the subject of venery) received such colourful names—via the morning news  

schluckbildchen: sixteenth century edible devotionals  

mixtape: Kim Gordon, formerly of Sonic Youth, raps her grocery list in new song Bye Bye 

ephemerama: a growing archive of modern illustrations from circa 1950 to 1975—via Things Magazine


one year ago: more trompe l’oeil paintings, assorted links to revisit plus pie-chart studies

two years ago: morphing logos plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: zorbing, the Council of Trent (1545), Australia Day, more links worth the revisit plus Tubman on the twenty

four years ago: modular, prefab kiosks plus the first television demonstration (1926)

five years ago: the longest government shutdown in US history, architect Sir John Soane plus all the world’s writing systems

Thursday 21 December 2023

strange paradise (11. 201)

Via the Abecedarian, we are introduced to the occult-supernatural soap opera that was Canada’s answer to Dark Shadows, capitalising on the unexpectedly phenomenal success of the American day-time gothic drama series. Originally syndicated in the US, it aired in three thirteen-week story arcs from October 1969 to July 1970 and was shot in Ottawa with the acting talents of Colin Fox and Tudi Wiggins. The show narrates the tragic account of a billionaire left inconsolable after the death of his wife on a remote Caribbean island, whom with the help of a local mystic, enters into a cursed contract with the spirit of a mysterious ancestor. The entire run is available below.

Monday 19 June 2023

come up to the lab and see what’s on the slab (10. 819)

Preview performances given at a couple of other venues earlier in the week, the B-movie, schlock horror musical—see previously—by Richard O’Brien opened on this day in the experimental space, “upstairs,” at the Royal Court Theatre in Chelsea, under the direction of Jim Sharman, renowned stage producer for his earlier work on Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair. The show ran for seven years, approaching three thousand performances, and the original cast whom crossed over into the 1975 cinematic adaptation included the starring roles of Tim Curry as Dr Frank N Furter, Patricia Quinn as Magenta the Usherette and O’Brien himself as Riff Raff.


one year ago: Juneteenth, assorted links worth revisiting, Saints Gervasius and Protasius plus an early home office set-up 

two years ago: rendered realities plus generated fabric patterns

three years ago: ecclesiastical courts, more dazzle camouflage, Trump censored for his social media posts plus a queen bee’s performance

Sunday 23 April 2023

8x8 (10. 692)

caspar milquetoast: Public Domain Review presents Shy Guy (1947)—starring Dick York—via Nag on the Lake  

wicksy’s cocktails: a selection of non-alcoholic drinks from a 1986 Easter Enders’ cook book  

birdsite: the continuing rapid unscheduled disassembly of the platform  

here is a map to give you pleasure, a town reduced to your mantel’s measure: poetry on maps—via the Map Room  

ganja & hess: an under appreciated vampire film reexamined on its fiftieth anniversary  

smigadoon: virtual ghost villages in the clouds that have become the haunts of tourists  

rolling through the produce and said, now that’s a better buy: Toni Basil’s “Shopping from A to Z” 

schools of the air: a retrospective look at broadcast continuing education—see previously

Monday 26 December 2022

ฮบฮฑฮปฮนฮบฮฌฮฝฯ„ฮถฮฑฯฮฟฮน (10. 365)

A figure of Greek, Balkan and Anatolian folklore, the malevolent goblins called kallikantzaros (previously, literally beguiling centaur in Greek but possibly etymologically sources to the Turkish word for werewolf or vampire) are summoned from the underworld during Twelvetide to turn their mischief on humans, there being a reprieve from their infernal, eternal task during this fortnight when it is believed the Earth’s journey through the calendar year is suspended. Consigned to hack away at the trunk of the World Tree and bring about its doom, one Christmas dawns and the Sun stops moving, they are called to the surface, distracted and forgetting about their job, nearly complete, until Epiphany resumes Ordinary Time—and the sawed bough has had the chance to regenerate. In order to save the world, most humans would endure this period of bedevilment but there were additional (see above) ways to keep the kallikantazaroi away, including keeping the Yule Log burning for the duration of the holidays so they could not creep down one’s chimney and through one’s hearth, avoid venturing out late at night and, particularly in Serbia, to refrain from adulterous liaisons since that activity attracts them and will ensure that the affair gets found out.

Sunday 2 October 2022

turn around, bright eyes (10. 188)

The first and only thus far Welsh solo act to top the singles charts in the US, Bonnie Tyler with her signature song “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (previously) from her fifth studio album Faster than the Speed of Night was at Number One beginning on this day in 1983 and remains an enduring, international hit. Written and produced by Jim Steinman, originally it was to be called “Vampires in Love” building off of an abandoned effort to make a musical version of Nosferatu. The below music video was directed by Russell Mulcahy (“Turning Japanese,” “Video Killed the Radio Star,” “Hungry Like the Wolf”) and was shot at the Holloway Sanatorium, a Gothic hospital in Surrey.

Tuesday 11 January 2022

night stalker

Based on the then unpublished Jeff Rice novel The Kolchak Tapes, the ABC Movie of the Week, airing on this day in 1972, features Darren McGavin as an investigative reporter researching a spate of murders in Las Vegas, coming to suspect that the serial killer is a vampire. The most popular made-for-television-movie to date and spawning a miniseries and a sequel for the franchise, remembering this event in TV history, shared by some seventy-five million households in the US, inspired Chris Carter to later create The X-Files.

Thursday 12 August 2021

place your slag somewhere safe, as you might want to melt it again to remove excess silver

We found this developing narrative for the Wikihow article (see previously) on silver smelting, smithing a delightful example of storytelling and elaboration that we hope to see continue—eventually limning out an entire cinematic universe and franchise for the character, who could be either a safety-conscious crafty Christian, vampire-hunter or both.

Thursday 4 March 2021

eine symphonie des grauens

Premiering on this day in 1922 in the Marble Hall of the Berlin Zoological Gardens (previously), this silent, Expressionist horror film directed Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (see also), Nosferatu, was considered and unauthorised, unsanctioned cinematic adaptation of Dracula, despite significant changes to the story of Count Orlok, and all copies were ordered destroyed by the estate of Bram Stoker. A few reels, however, did survive and the world of film retains the legacy of this pioneering and influential masterpiece. A relator (Makler) from the fictional town of Wisborg dispatches one of his employees beyond the Carpathian Mountains to arrange their purchase of a property in his hometown for a mysterious and feared Transylvanian aristocrat.

Tuesday 26 May 2020

an account of the principalities of wallachia and moldavia

Under the imprint of Archibald Constable & Company, Bram Stoker’s Dracula was first published on this date in 1897. Heir to an established literary trope of continental influences invading England (strange how monsters pivot from expressions, repressions of xenophobia to homophobia and there is no unhappy medium), the novel went further in setting archetype, conventions and defining the genre with untold adaptations and interpretations, enduring and rejuvenated through a series of other building on the lore until it was ripe for mass-distribution with the advent of cinema and its attendant possibilities, much like the successful legacy of contemporary authors H. G. Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Tuesday 24 December 2019


A clever gaming enthusiast engineered a rotating LED cube as a custom platform for playing classic arcade games, like Castlevania featuring our vampire-hunting protagonist Simon Belmont, with the sixty-four by sixty-four panels mounted on a mechanised lazy-susan spindle whose speed and advance is adjusted with foot pedals to free up the hands for game play.
It is pretty keen indeed when nostalgia and know-how and retool the retro,  imbuing new life in an older franchise.  As impressive as the spinning display is, it belies the biggest technical challenge found in the programming of staging format games with the playable-character remaining stationary in the centre of the frame with the obstacles and opponents rushing towards and past our hero. Deconstructing the virtual world on a Nintendo Entertainment System emulator to track the character’s progress relative to game-play. More demonstrations and specifications are at the link up top.

Saturday 9 March 2019

kenyรฉr varรกzslat

Our thanks to always bewitching Art of Darkness for revealing to us a common trope through Hungarian folklore in the apotropaic magic of bread. To ward off impending evil, tradition dictates that one simply place a loaf of bread in a windowsill and allow the bread to speak for itself:

First they buried me under the ground, and I survived. When I sprouted and thrived they cruelly cut me down with by sickle, yet I survived. They threshed me with the flails and I survived. They ground me to flower with their millstone yet I survived. They kneaded me in a bowl, and then they put me in a hot over to bake me and I have survived. Have you done all these things? Until you live through all these things, you have no power here.

Though this stems from the same superstitions that cause one to fret over vampire pumpkins (which would seem to kind of cancel things out), I do like imagining some twee croissant standing up to maleficent forces demanding admission into one’s house and being roundly rebuffed.

Tuesday 30 October 2018

rocky horus

Via Messy Nessy Chic, we are treated to the 1981 production from Egyptian director Mohammed Shebl, who had several horror credits to his name, called Fangs (al’Anyab, ุงู„ุฃู†ูŠุงุจ)—an homage to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. The plot, with ample musical interludes, is faithful to the original up through the first act (plenty of glam vampires but nothing too transgressive to sneak past the censors) and certainly demonstrates a degree of craft and talent that separates it from other knock-offs, like the nearly unwatchable “Turkish Star Wars.”

Monday 20 August 2018

canonical consent

Though possibly polyandrous on the actress’ part in light of her earlier, coerced nuptials with Betelgeuse, we learn that the co-stars of the 1992 Francis Ford Coppula adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula—Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder—might have actually been married during the movie’s production.  Shot in Romania, the ceremony was reportedly presided over by an authentic priest who may or may not have understood his role on set. While the likelihood of a marriage considered legal and binding without the backing of substantiating documents strikes one as the stuff of sitcom tropes, it’s nonetheless a fun bit of trivia to consider and speculate if there are instances of fictional matrimony having legal consequence.

Saturday 4 June 2016

the un-dead or working-title

A recent entry on the superb Futility Closet informs on the early character-sketch of Count Dracula through Bram Stoker’s preliminary notes outlining the novel. Among the draft attributes that did not make it into the original story but are sometimes woven into later popular mythology—surely a remnant of folklore—are:
the inability to be photographed (shows up as a skeleton) or captured in painting (ends up with the likeness of someone else) and is tripped up whilst crossing thresholds, unable to do this without assistance.  Arithmomania is not among the strengths or weaknesses, but interestingly, Dracula was to have picked his destination, engaging a solicitor through a form of rhapsodomancy, consulting Virgil or various classic poets’ random verses for guidance. Alternately, the Count was to have dabbled in bolomancy—that is, throwing darts at a map. Incidentally, such practise of bibliomancy, usually turning to the Bible, were not condemned by the Church as witchcraft and were perfectly acceptable means of seeking guidance and council, whereas the casting of bones or favomancy (divination through tossed beans) and the like were judged sorcery.

Saturday 23 January 2016

we are a culture, not a costume

The discovery of a class of bacteria—which are everywhere, in the soil and among our beneficial gut population—which can only be described as vampiric took place several years ago and while I am not sure what direction the research has taken, this strain seems especially timely given that one local hospital was found to be harbouring Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA oder Multiresistante Krankenhauskeime) in some of its wards.
News like that incited a panic among some of the clientele, battle-weary from the likes of Ebola—even though it’s endemic to most treatment facilities already and all would forego the negative publicity. These Micavibrio aeruginosavorus and related specimen called Vampirovibrio chorellavorus are purely predatory and cannot live even in nutrient-rich environments, shunning them, unless there are some other hapless bacteria to feed on—making their study rather difficult since the sample is always a contaminated one, latching on to their victims with enzyme fangs and sucking the life out of them. Subsequent culturing made pathologists hopeful that a living, evolving antibiotic agent could be used to combat those familiars (coming from the word midge, a nigget is a small insect—perhaps like Jiminy Cricket or a flea-circus—that was used as a witch’s minion, and I bet that the same terminology could apply to tinier things like germs) of our own drug abuse and hygiene.

Thursday 22 January 2015

blood simple

Nature features a rather ghoulish study that rather upholds what vampires apparently knew all along: that fresh blood seems to have the potential of revitalising old vessels. Conjoined twins—or in this case, two lab rats spliced together so that share one vascular system, demonstrate what’s called parabiosis and is an experimental arrangement, which despite having provided insights during the 1970s about immunology and endocrinology, fell out of fashion. Now, however, researchers in the field of gerontology believe that they are witnessing a sort of rejuvenation of organs and tissues. Being paragons of caution and not be led by their imagination, they emphasise that they are not reversing the ageing process but rather—merely—“restoring function.” While it is an interesting historical look at these techniques, I suspect whatever distinction is supposed to be there is lost on the closeted undead and traffickers.

Wednesday 1 October 2014


Recently in a special mass celebrated in honour of grandparents and the older generation, Pope Francis condemned the emerging culture of assisted-living, old-folks’ homes as a euphemism for a subtler and accepted form of euthanasia. A society that does not care for its past and respect its forbears, the Pontiff said, has no future, and warned of the poisons of institutionalising isolation, loneliness and neglect. The Papal Emeritus joined Pope Francis during the liturgy, as an example of the wisdom that seniors have to impart for the next generation, adding that he is quite happy that this grandfather figure is also residing in the Vatican.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

eenie meanie or ฮญฮฝฮฑฯ‚ ฮผฮนฮฑ ฮตฮฝฮฑ

Some time ago, I recall reading a broad overview (not disjointed but just non-sequitur and sparse explanation, like a freak-show of strange foreign customs) on Christmas traditions. According to the article, some Greek households leave a colander out on the doorstep (unlike stockings hung over a heath or a boot on Sankt Nikolas Tag in Germany for gifts) to confound mischievous spirits and keep them from entering the home.

Like our friend from Sesame Street, Count von Count (Graf Zahl), imps and demons have a condition called arithmomania, the irresistible compulsion to count things and would be drawn to counting out the holes on the strainer. Incidentally, vampires in general tend to be distracted by disarray and would stop to fully account for a tossed handful of rice grains or something similar, should one need a second to escape from one. Did the Count’s character, I wonder, come from his mild version of the disorder or vice-versรข? Because of the demon’s infernal nature, however, it would only manage to count one, two before being cast back on the number three—three being the holy trinity. The spirit could rematerialize and try again but never make it past three. It’s a bit early (and maybe a bit too exotic) for Christmas but I think it might be a nice and maybe more effective gesture of solidarity for the Greek people to help them through these trying times (after all, the people of Iceland ousted their corrupt politicians by banging pots and pans), which none of us may be so charmed as to avoid.

Thursday 25 October 2012

bunnicula, count duckula

Lore and superstition regarding vampirism, even preceding the imaginations of the writers they’ve inspired, sanction standard horror and a well-developed, though flexible, codex of rules governing the undead, but can also be keenly abstract in their beliefs.
Folklore of some populations in the Balkans, but surely anchored to a place, a patch of land as much as a particular people, created the overall apparition of the traditional vampire but also held the nightmare that inanimate objects, left out in the pall of the full moon, could become vampires. Certain fruits and vegetables were especially prone to being turned, especially melons, squashes and pumpkins still on the vine during this witching phase of the Moon. It is not clear if the vampire produce took on a changed appearance—nor caused much of a bother, other than rolling about and maybe lurching and bumping into things, but they were no longer fit to eat and needed to be ritually destroyed. The notion that gourds could harbour a malevolent, though paralyzed, force is pretty spooky, and there have been some creative and slightly goofy modern retellings. The idea of possession, a curse settling into a plant also made me think of that troupe of evangelizing vegetables from that children’s Christian television show. The practice of making a jack-o’-lantern out of a pumpkin comes from a completely separate string of traditions and folklore from the British Isles—originally, probably from a hollowed out turnip with the practical objective of making a torch whose flame was protected from the winds.