Thursday, October 19, 2017

Busy October... Quick, Post a Link!

As is typical for me, October is a busy month with fundraising activities on the job. Therefore, I think I shall post a Halloween-appropriate link. My introduction to the creepy aspects of Japanese legendry was Lafcadio Hearn's 1904 collection Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things. The book formed the basis of a 1964 film of the same name directed by Masaki Kobayashi:





My favorite story from Hearn's collection is Mujina, a creepy-yet-funny tale which actually features a Noppera-bō, though a mujina could conceivably pose as such using its supernatural powers.

One of my favorite sites on the t00bz is Yokai.com, a beautifully illustrated collection of the various creepy-crawlies from Japanese folklore. The site was an invaluable resource while I was binge-watching Ghost Sweeper Mikami a few months ago:





There's a manga available for this entertaining-yet-salacious supernatural comedy, but the pop-up ads are a real horror. One of these days, I should post a review of the series... it's fun, but there's some content which in this day, in the 'States, would be considered problematic.

For the record, my favorite Yokai is the Karakasa kozō, or paper umbrella priest boy. Now that is one comical monster.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

There's a Reason Why He Calls It the 'Caveman Formula'

I must confess that I have a fascination with 'conspiracy theories', though I have a dim view of most purveyors of such. The worst of this lot, in my estimation, is Alex Jones, who sells snake oil along with his paranoid right-wing fantasies. As if his hucksterism wasn't bad enough, some of the supplements he sells have dangerous levels of lead contamination. For a guy who claims that he's trying to protect his listeners from 'globalists' who are trying to poison them with 'chemtrails', he sure seems to be comfortable with poisoning his marks, just like an old-timey charlatan.

By pushing lead-tainted tinctures to his audience, Jones is also making them more receptive to his bullshit narrative, because lead causes intellectual and behavioral deficits. My favorite detail about this is the fact that one of his tainted products is his 'Caveman Paleo Formula'... if you keep taking this crap, you'll end up with the intellectual capacity of an Australopithecus.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Past the Half-Way Mark

October has turned a corner- we are now past the half-way mark in the month. It's time to give a rundown on the major events on the job. So far, things have been going pretty well, I have recognized a bunch of regular October visitors, including three intrepid souls from Pittsburgh, a very nice local couple, and a patron who had come to me with a complaint a few years ago, who is now a fast friend (I have really come to appreciate his daughter, a really nice kid who is a talented artist and a budding bassist). Hilariously, the public seems to have a knack for pulling off things that management hadn't anticipated- now there is a bag-check so nobody sneaks bottles of booze onto the site, and last Saturday, a couple of guys decided to start a barbecue in the parking lot, in a well-traveled traffic lane. I was tasked with telling these bros to douse the grill, and they were cool about it, probably because they had finished heating their hot dogs. Tonight, I will be sending an e-mail to management detailing the latest in the organization/public 'arms race'... we may need signs detailing more individual behaviors which are disallowed on the property. Sure, there's no smoking on site, but a charcoal fire is not a cigarette.

Generally speaking, it's tiring but fun. 99.9% of our visitors are wonderful people, the occasional obnoxious drunk, while drawing a disproportionate amount of attention, is in the minority. I haven't had an urge to hit anyone with a shoe yet. The month is halfway through, and I haven't had a day off yet, but on the whole, I can't complain. Much as I'd hate to have it become public knowledge, I don't mind dealing with the public.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Scary Monsters

I am on record being a fan of the late, great David Bowie. One of my particular favorite Bowie Songs is 1980's Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps). Poking around the intert00bz, I found a great live version from 1995, with Bowie fronting Nine Inch Nails:





Now, isn't that an appropriate track for the Halloween season?

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Prunes Give Me the Runes

Today's selection is M.R. James' Casting the Runes, a supernatural thriller in which a reviewer plays a cat-and-mouse game with an occultist who has cursed him for a bad book review... some people just can't take criticism! In the course of the narrative, the reviewer needs to figure out a way to reverse this fatal curse, which was 'activated' when the occultist slipped him a piece of paper inscribed with arcane runes. The story was filmed in 1957 as Night of the Demon, a not-so-subtle take on Mr James' tale:





The movie is referenced in my favorite song from the Rocky Horror Show, Science Fiction/Double Feature, from which I took the post title:





Personally, I think that, with a giant demon chasing you, you wouldn't need prunes to 'move things along'.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Gives Me a Headache

Being October, I'm swamped at work, especially on the weekends, so in accordance with the prophecy tradition, I like to post scary stories or film clips on the weekends. One of the weirdest of the 'weird tales', by modern standards, is Green Tea, by Irish author Sheridan Le Fanu. The story concerns a young author who descends into madness and hallucination becauTea was my companion-at first the ordinary black tea, made in the usual way, not too strong:se he... uhhhh... drinks green tea:


"I wrote a great deal; I wrote late at night. I was always thinking on the subject, walking about, wherever I was, everywhere. It thoroughly infected me. You are to remember that all the material ideas connected with it were more or less of the beautiful, the subject itself delightfully interesting, and I, then, without a care." He sighed heavily. "I believe, that every one who sets about writing in earnest does his work, as a friend of mine phrased it, on something--tea, or coffee, or tobacco. I suppose there is a material waste that must be hourly supplied in such occupations, or that we should grow too abstracted, and the mind, as it were, pass out of the body, unless it were reminded often enough of the connection by actual sensation. At all events, I felt the want, and I supplied it. Tea was my companion-at first the ordinary black tea, made in the usual way, not too strong: but I drank a good deal, and increased its strength as I went on. I never, experienced an uncomfortable symptom from it. ! began to take a little green tea. I found the effect pleasanter, it cleared and intensified the power of thought so, I had come to take it frequently, but not stronger than one might take it for pleasure. I wrote a great deal out here, it was so quiet, and in this room. I used to sit up very late, and it became a habit with me to sip my tea--green tea--every now and then as my work proceeded. I had a little kettle on my table, that swung over a lamp, and made tea two or three times between eleven o'clock and two or three in the morning, my hours of going to bed. I used to go into town every day. I was not a monk, and, although I spent an hour or two in a library, hunting up authorities and looking out lights upon my theme, I was in no morbid state as far as I can judge. I met my friends pretty much as usual and enjoyed their society, and, on the whole, existence had never been, I think, so pleasant before."



Ahhhh, yes, ordinary black tea, the crushed and oxidized occidentalized tea favored by Westerners, rather than those inscrutable Easterners with their hallucination-inducing green tea. Le Fanu's tale is perhaps the second best cautionary tale about tea, second only to Rabbit's Kin:





I first ran into this tale in the course of Tor Books' wonderful Lovecraft Reread series.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Predictable 180 on Debt

Nine days ago, Donald Trump hinted that he would pressure investors to take a bath on Puerto Rican debt obligations, but being a mendacious prick, he has not only ditched that, but threatened to pull FEMA from the island. Meanwhile, the Republican congress wants to offer Puerto Rico a loan for disaster relief, a loan which Puerto Rico really can't afford. Once again, the U.S. government has failed this territory and its people.

Over the course of last weekend, I had an opportunity to discuss the situation in Puerto Rico with several Puerto Ricans, both inhabitants of the island who were in New York on vacation (one gentleman discussed having had family vacation plans prior to the hurricane, and taking advantage of his US sojourn to indulge in such luxuries as hot showers and access to the news) and Nuyoricans. The general mood was one of sadness, with anger towards the federal government, but gratitude to the state and local governments which are stepping in to fill the void left by the absence of a coherent federal response. In a discussion with one woman, who was wearing a PUERTO RICO T-shirt in solidarity with the people of the island, I remarked that New York City should just name Puerto Rico the sixth borough... the population is not much more than that of Brooklyn, and there are plenty of people who have a foot in both NYC and PR... people such as the people I spoke with, people such as numerous friends of mine.

Puerto Rico needs genuine help, not a doubling down on their financial straits in the guise of assistance.