Archive for May 23rd, 2005

Vampirism in the hands of big pharma

FizerPharm’s work on vampirism may create new business opportunities for blood banks. Link here.


Hat tip to Boing Boing.

Whitburn, England full of ghostly events

From Sunderland (England) Today:

GHOSTHUNTER took himself to Whitburn on a sunny Sunday just recently – and was very glad that he did.

He went in search of what rumour had told him was one of the most active ghosts in the area, and found rather more than he bargained for.

The first port of call was the welcoming Jolly Sailor pub (somehow, quite a few of GhostHunter’s expeditions start at pubs).

Even before entering the pub, GhostHunter thought that he might be staying awhile. Having ordered his meal, it seemed time to start investigations. Martin the landlord was later happy to chat about the pub’s ghostly resident.

Now, GhostHunter had heard that the pub was haunted by a dramatic Green Lady.

According to the story, the ghostly lady was remarkably active for a ghost. She dated back to the 1770s and had a tragic history. It seems that she lived in the pub, which at that time was an inn catering to the passing coach trade.

GhostHunter has quite the gig, going from pub to pub to hear ghostly tales and investigate strange occurrances at night in quiet English villages and towns then writing up his experiences in newspapers. Where do I apply for this job?

Pimping Massachusetts ghosts

Paging Stephen King. Stephen King to the white courtesy phone please. Could anything be more fun than investigating New England ghosts? From the North Adams Transcript:

Attention all ghost-seekers, mediums, witches, psychics and things that go bump in the night: The Masonic Temple and the New England Ghost Project are hosting the first-ever Berkshire Paranormal Conference in July.
“Nothing like this has ever happened in North Adams,” said Mason Josh Mantello, 26.

As part of the conference, two Salem witches will conduct a midnight seance and Ghost Project Psychic Investigator Maureen Wood and Executive Producer Ron Kolek will teach a workshop in Ghost Hunting 101.

Ghost Project’s Karen Mossey will speak of her work as an electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) expert. She was featured on the Maury Povich show, and the recordings of her father beyond the grave were used in the movie “White Noise.”

The conference is July 15-17 in North Adams, Mass. The group’s web site is the New England Ghost Project. The position of sugar momma to fund my trips to these events is still open.

Witch crossing – Update 2

Sarah Vowell, in her excellent collection The Partly Cloudy Patriot has a hilarious essay “God Will Give You Blood to Drink in a Souvenir Shot Glass.”

She writes about her visits to the scenes of horrific events in history, including Salem, Mass., where 19 women were put to death for “witch craft.” The actual reason for the killings remains much debated with theories ranging from hallucigens in the town’s water supply to a fight over property rights.

Any way, I don’t mean to digress. Back to Sarah Vowell (who also is a Buffy fan and a lover of history particularly the macabre. Sure I’m happily married, but you know, I can carry a torch with the best of them — the romantic kind, not the burn the witch at the stake kind — yes, I have been drinking, why do you ask?)

OK, back to Sarah Vowell again. She wrote:

“Salem boasts everything you would want from a trip down American memory lane, from information to anxious giggles. At the Witch Dungeon Museum, a place about as dignified as it sounds, there is the fun kind of bad actress in a period costume emoting through a reenactment of Elizabeth Proctor’s witch trial, ‘I am not a witch! I am innocent!’ There’s a colorful old guy walking-tour guid named Bob who must not be a member of the chamber of commerce because he says things like ‘They hung dogs for being witches, that’s how stupid these people were.’ There are freaky talking mannequins in the Salem Witch Museum that recite the Lord’s Prayer and while they do resemble shrunken apples they nevertheless help the visitor understand how hard it must have been for the condemned to say the line about forgiving those who trespass against us.

snip

“[Sarah Good] famously proclaimed to the reverend and I’m guessing the town ‘You are a liar; I am no more a witch than you are a wizard, and if you take away my life, God will give you blood to drink.’ Could she have any idea then that, three centuries later, bloodthirsty tourists would sip her life story form a souvenir shot glass? What would she think of the local ice cream parlor going by the name Dairy Witch Or that the high school football team is called the Salem Witches? Or that a cartoonish witch adorns the town’s police cars and newspaper?”

So that leads me to this story “‘Bewitched’ statue bothers some in Salem” in today’s Washington Post:

Executives at TV Land surely expected gracious applause when they announced plans for a bronze statue of Samantha Stephens in “Bewitched.” And why not? Everyone loves the statue of Ralph Kramden in “The Honeymooners,” which was commissioned by the rerun cable network and is now on display in midtown Manhattan. There were upbeat reviews for their homage to “The Andy Griffith Show,” which enshrines Sheriff Andy Taylor and young son Opie and which you can see near the statehouse in North Carolina.

But the plans for the salute to “Bewitched” didn’t go over well. That’s because TV Land decided the place for this nine-foot tribute to America’s most beloved housewife witch is in the middle of Salem, Mass., a town best known for hanging 19 citizens accused of witchcraft. Okay, it happened a long time ago — in 1692 to be exact — but it’s still a sore subject. Capitalizing on that history with a statue of a broom-riding TV witch struck some locals as in really bad taste.

“It’s like TV Land going to Auschwitz and proposing to erect a statue of Colonel Klink,” says John Carr, a former member of the Salem Historic District Commission. “Putting this statue in the park near the church where this all happened, it trivializes the execution of 19 people.”

OK, not only does John Carr violate Godwin’s law, but does a town that has cartoonish symbols of witches on the Salem Police Department’s cruisers and uniform patches really have a leg to stand on in calling a statue of the lovely Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery distasteful? The statue has already been cast. If the town doesn’t want it, I volunteer to take it off TV Land’s hands. Now that my wife has read this post, I must withdraw my offer to TVLand. My wife agrees with Salem officials. She thinks the statue would look cheesy on our yard. Curses! Foiled again!

UPDATE 2 Karen Dresser-Smith takes my point of view in this letter published in the North Shore Sunday:

To the editor:

I think it’s sad how people take such a defiant stance on a issue that doesn’t warrant a quarter column in the daily newspaper. All of this turmoil over a donated statue that people won’t look twice at once it’s been there a month amazes me, when a real issue was buried very quickly and didn’t get the press it deserved.

It seems to me that just a little over a year ago, not 30 yards from where the new proposed statue is to be erected, that a bench was removed like magic overnight. It also occurs to me that the bench disappeared – in front of the fountain – just about the time that the $400k-plus condos were being shown to prospective buyers. The homeless had been using it for years, that is, until the new owners realized that the homeless weren’t exactly part of the view that they were selling.

And just that quick, like waving a wand, the bench disappeared. If you believe it was anything but that, there’s a museum around the corner offering tall tales and other folklore. Salem is the Witch City – will be forever and you can’t change it – so get over it. Whether you like it or not, the destination is Salem for witches.

Do you think that the Harry Potter convention is coming to our fair city because of the China trade? When I see the kids wearing colonial hats instead of witch hats, maybe I’ll change my mind.

I didn’t write anything about the bench or the Harry Potter trip or the condos or the kids and witch hats. But other than that, our views are nearly identical. So similar it is astounding It’s like magic.

Posted in Horror | 1 Comment »

Two enemies unite to bring the apocalypse

From the Asia Times:

In Muslim legend, “Khorasan” is from where an army will emerge to support Muslims in the Middle East. Their battle will end with victory in Palestine and the revival of Khilafah (caliphate). For the past few decades, Muslim academics have described Khorasan as the Central Asian states, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“End of Time” programs are sold in CDs and DVDs across the Muslim world, which romanticize the Taliban, al-Qaeda and Hizbut Tehrir and add to their popularity.

Al-Qaeda is working to turn the story of Megiddo and the End of Time into reality. And the president of the United States, George W Bush, believes Armageddon is at hand: “The evil one is among us,” he said in 2002, in a clear reference to the Antichrist. To quote Michael Ortiz Hill, “[T]he Commander in Chief of the most powerful military force in human history has located American foreign policy within a Biblical narrative that leads inexorably towards the plains of Megiddo …”

I liked this story much better with Gregory Peck.

What secrets are hidden in museums

From Ken Macleod’s blog:

The Hunterian Museum is quiet, with the sort of hum that might be an aural hallucination. The smell is of locusts and wild honey, like John the Baptist’s menu. The windows are like in a church. There is armour and parchment. There are vases and mummies. Every length and lath of wood is polished to a force-field sheen. Around the hall are galleries where minerals and fossils lie under sloping glass. And under these displays are drawers that glide out, in memory, as if on wheels. They are full of detritus and shards labelled in india ink and held together with varnish and Sellotape.

In a corner of one of these galleries I had a table and a chair, and on that table I laid out bones taken from the drawers, and looked at them and puzzled over them, and doodled them, and fiddled with suspending them from bits of thread, and read all about Metriorhynchus when I wasn’t skiving off and reading about something more exciting, like the Portuguese Revolution or The Outcasts of Foolgarah (by Frank Hardy. It’s a great book.) I took more than one girlfriend to see that table. Come up and see my fossils. It wasn’t much, but it hardened them for the experience of seeing my bedsit. (Mouse footprints in the frying pan lard. Trace fossils! No, they weren’t impressed either.)

Anyway, I checked all the specimens I could find, including in the basement of the Natural History Museum where they keep the stuff not on public view: the dragon’s egg, the Woking Martian, the Piltdown skull; and, more excitingly, the above mentioned bones of the arthritic crocodile and the original reconstruction of the hind foot, in a little tray lined with indented baize. I drew it and made notes. All the bones were flat, and the foot was a flat paddle.

Hat tip to wickerman for emailing me the link.

Count Dracula’s online diary

Through his post on Dracula (the novel) blogged, I just found out Count Dracula is keeping his own blog, Count Dracula’s Diary.

Another terrible night – and not just toothache, which is getting worster and worster. Dracula busy ironing spare cape when doorbell ring; he forced to answer it, who else is there? My Daughters of the Night too lazy, always playing loud music in their bedchamber, not hear thunder let alone doorbell. So Dracula traipse down four staircases to answer door – is only Mrs Hilspringer, damned village gossip, come to collect donations for church fete! I, Dracula, Prince Of Darkness and Slayer Of Souls, what do I care for blasted church fete? Then I smelt burning – Dracula’s only spare cape scorched under the iron he had so foolishly left face down on the garment!

Posted in Horror | 1 Comment »

 
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