Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dreams Pt. 4- Wolf Dreams

Years ago I had a couple of dreams that stuck with me. In one I was running down this backroad somewhere, with lots of trees around, and there was some water standing in small puddles, as if it had rained recently. As I was running, I lurched forward, and when I put my hands out to brace my fall, I saw that they were large paws instead. My new limbs hit the ground running, and without a misstep, I was running on all fours, faster than Hell. I stopped at at large puddle on the side of the road, and saw my reflection. I was a large wolf, with light-colored fur. I thought this was pretty cool, and I took off running again, as fast as I could.

In another dream I was in a convertible car, a red one, I think, and there was a full moon out. I reached up and grabbed my face, and pulled it off like a mask. Beneath was the face of a wolf, which I could see in the rearview mirror. I smiled a fang-filled smile at my reflection.

In neither of these dreams was I upset at my transformations, and I don't think of them as nightmares. I don't know what this means about me, my subconcious, or anything else for that matter. It does explain why I like a full moon, though....

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Garner State Park, Pt. 2

More pics from our day at the park. Hope you enjoy them!

Garner State Park

We (Kim, Nicole, and I) went to Garner State Park today, and hiked all day. It was great!

Dreams Pt. 3 -A Strange Walk

Last night I dreamt that I lived in a different house, in a different neighborhood, but being a dream, this all seemed normal. It was night, and the sky was strange looking...the moon was casting a weird light, almost as bright as day outside. I decided I wanted to go for a walk, to take in the strange night sky. As I walked , it began to get darker and darker. I realized that it wasn't the sky, but my vision growing blacker. My sight finally went totally black, and I passed out. I woke up in my house, with my friend and housemate Nicole sitting at my bedside. She asked if I was OK, and I asked what happened. She had gone out to find me and discovered me laying on the sidewalk, and got some other friends to get me home. She, Kim, and some friends were all there to see if I was alright. I woke up then, for real.
Don't know what to make of this one. Often, in my dreams, the sky is strange looking or there's something weird going on in the sky. The passing out thing was weird,too. At least there was no offbeat cereal in this one.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Dreams, Pt. 2- Weird Cereal

I had a dream last night that I was in a store like Target that carried stuff for the home and groceries. I went to the cereal isle, and there, where the Cheerios were, next to regular Cheerios and Frosted Cheerios and Honey-Nut Cheerios, were several boxes of Special Limited Edition Ted Nugent Wango Tango Honey-Nut Cheerios. No, I'm not making this up, I actually dreamt this. I remember seeing this in my dream and thinking that this is the strangest cereal I've ever seen. I don't remember the rest of the dream...I probably bought a box, I don't know. I have no idea why I dreamt that...I'm not even that much of a Nugent fan, and I haven't heard any of his songs in a long time. I only had one glass of wine before going to bed,too. I wish I had Photoshop, so I could re-create the box I saw on the shelves in my dreams. It had the picture from his Weekend Warriors album on the box for some reason. Now, I understand he sellls jerky, which makes sense since he's an avid hunter. But Cheerios? Sometimes I think my brain is a) irreperably damaged, or b) working too hard to make me laugh in my dreams. Either that, or if this dream has some deep meaning or is full of signs and portents, they're too obscure and whacky for me to decipher.

I hope you all are having a great holiday week. Pleasant (or weird) dreams.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone out there has a good holiday season. Thank you all for checking out my ramblings, and for your own writings. Everyone take care.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter's Embrace

The sky is dark, and the stars have blessed me with their presence. The wind blows cold, cutting through me. It chills me deep inside, yet I feel good. I feel stronger as the wind blows around me, as if a gift from the Northern Gods, who may still watch over this descendant of their followers. I close my eyes and feel deeply the icy wind as it stikes me with its cold wings. I feel comfortable, at home some how...not only from living in a colder climate years ago, but as if I did a very long time ago as well. I have the urge to go inside and get my sword, or my axe, and stand there in the cold night wind, gripping the steel as it and I become as cold as the black sky above. I feel myself becoming cold inside, my heart hardening and chilling along with the ground and air. I wonder if this is how my ancestors felt, or maybe I myself , in a life or lives past have felt, becoming one with the elements around them/me. I think that if I stay out here long enough, I will no longer care about anything, except the black sky , the frozen wind, and the still hot blood that pounds through my veins. Part of me thinks this would be a good thing, to be as cold as the breath of Winter itself, harsh and unyielding, to no longer care or let anything bother or worry me, being as sharp and frost-covered as the steel I should be holding in my hand right now. I look up at the sky again, then down, casting my gaze toward the window, where I see my faithful friend, looking at me, and smiling his big dog smile for me. I think of him and all my friends and loved ones. I feel a spark rekindling in my near-frozen heart, and realize that, for now at least, I can't completely give myself to Winter's embrace. I drink one last deep breath of cold Winter air, and with a bit of regret, return to the warm house. The Gods of winter may claim me one day, but not today.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dreams pt. 1 - Final Battle, Red Axe In Hand

I've been reading some of Lana's older posts on dreams, and it brought to mind a very vivid dream I had a few years back. It was one of those dreams where you're so deep in it, you aren't aware that you're dreaming, and you believe every bit of it to be real. Also, I was not myself in this dream, and it was all from my point of view, as if it was all happening right there for real.
I was walking with my people on a cold morning. It was just cold enough to see your breath. I couldn't see my own face, but my hair was as long as it is in waking life, though a bit darker. I think we were Celts or Picts from the way we were dressed...some had on rough kilts of a sort, or breeches. I had a kilt made of some kind of deerskin, I think, leather shoes , and straps of leather wrapped around my legs. I had leather arm braces, a roughspun shirt with a leather chestpiece over it, and I carried with me an axe made of dark iron, with a large single blade and a spiked backpiece, with a spike on top as well. My fellows were all armed with short swords, spears, axes, and such. We were going to take our place on a large hill. I knew that the enemy was coming, and our women and children were fleeing . Our intention was to buy them time to make their escape. We didn't really think we would win this battle, since our enemy outnumbered us...but we had to try, if for no other reason than to hold them up so our people could get away.
We didn't wait long after reaching the top of the hill, for we soon saw the enemy approaching. They were Romans, with their standards raised and trumpets blaring, their shiny armor, crested helmets , and bright red cloaks in stark contrast to our crew in our earth tones and lightly armored state. There were so many of them. We all looked at each other, some shook hands and patted shoulders while others nodded grimly to each other. I noted all this peripherally, for my main attention was on the approaching Roman army. I was fairly sure this would be my last day, but my fear dropped away as they drew nearer. I felt myself grow more enraged with their each approaching step. How dare these dogs invade our lands, kill our people, enslave our women and children, in the name of their "peace"? I gripped the shaft of my axe so tightly that my knuckles cracked. They may take my life today, I thought, but I'll take as many of them as I can with me. The space between our two groups grew smaller until they charged up the hill. I was in the front line , and I wanted it no other way. The first Roman ran up and held his large rectangular shield up as I swung my axe. I heard his arm snap , follwed by his scream of pain. He dropped his shield, and I swung my axe back around and planted it on the right side of his neck. He screamed even louder as his blood sprayed on me, hot in the cold morning air. I kicked him aside as the Roman behind him tried to stab me with his spear. I batted it aside and grabbed it, pulling him forward, so that he stumbled over his dying comrade. I split helmet and skull with my next swing. I threw the Roman spear into the throng swarming up the hill, grinning with satisfaction when it stuck into an armored chest. I struck the next Roman full in the face with the top spike of my axe. Screams , yells , and the smell of blood filled the air as I looked for my next victim, adrenaline and rage flowing through me...and at that point I woke up, sitting up in bed, sweating, looking around my room, wondering where the Hell I was and who the Hell I was.
A freind of mine swears that this was a past-life thing. I'm not sure, since I read history and fiction that deals with this sort of thing all the time. It may have just been my mind entertaining me in my sleep. All I know is that I wish the dream would have gone on a bit longer...I'm curious to see if I lived or died.
Dreams are strange...sometimes they make no sense, and other times they follow a "script" of sorts. Sometimes I know I'm dreaming , other times I don't. Sometimes I am myself, Scott, in my dreams, other times I'm someone else, like this Celtic/Pictish warrior. I think I'm going to start keeping a journal by the bedside to write dreams down in, so I remember them...although this is one I'll never forget.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

TV Time With The Beast- Those Rankin/Bass Animagic Christmas Specials

Many of you have probably read my post about the film Day Of The Beast listed as my favorite Christmas holiday movie and thought, "What a freak!" Well, you're right about that. However, I do have a soft spot in my heart for the old holiday specials that have been a staple of the airwaves during December for years. Yup, I'm talking about the stop-motion animated specials produced by Arthur Rankin,Jr. and Jules Bass, specifically my two favorites, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) and The Year Without A Santa Claus (1974).

Rudolph was the first such special the team of Rankin/Bass put together. After making several successful commercials using the Animagic process, they decided to make their first hour-long holiday special. Rankin happened to be the neighbor of composer Johnny Marks, who wrote the famous song about the red-nosed reindeer. He convinced Marks that they would treat his property right, and went on to make TV history. Rudolph snagged a 55% share of the audience on its initial broadcast, and has consistently pulled in a big batch of viewers ever since.

I'm not going to go over the plot, since I'm sure all of you have seen this at one time or another...and if you haven't, stop reading this and go rent it now!It really is a classic. Personally, my favorite characters in this show are the Ambominable Snowmnan(or The Bumble), and King Moonracer, ruler of the Island of Misfit Toys. I remember being a bit scared of the Bumble when I first saw this show at about age 3, but I still thought he was cool. And Moonracer was a winged lion, and how can you beat that? Also, the story had a message about how its OK to be different, and I think that's a good message for kids, and adults too.

My other favorite show from this team was The Year Without a Santa Claus, because of the appearance of Heat Miser and Snow Miser, brothers who control their respective elements . Their song -and-dance routines are classic. I remember back in college, I think it was my first year, going down to the TV room in the dorms to watch this show. The place was packed within no time, and quickly became standing room only. That a bunch of usually drunken folks around their 20s were standing around for an hour to watch a kid's holiday show says something for the impact it had on everyone there.

I'm kind of turned off of the holiday season for the most part...it's over-commercialized, and I'm not of a particularly religious bent in the first place, and even the basic spirit of giving that the season is supposed to promote is tarnished by pushy, grouchy shoppers with an undeserved sense of entitlement(yeah, I used to work retail years ago...one of the many reasons I do not fear Hell). They start putting Christmas stuff in stores before Halloween is even over, and playing Christmas music in stores before Thanksgiving is past. Despite all this, when these shows come on TV, I ease up a bit, and I can still recall the child-like wonder I had as a kid watching these animated adventures for the first time. It's kind of like when I watch a Godzilla film...the years flow backward, and I'm a kid again, smiling at the screen.

There's a great book titled The Enchanted world Of Rankin/Bass-A Portfolio, by Rick Goldschmidt. If you want to learn more about these shows, this is the place to start(My copy is autographed by the author, with a drawing of the Bumble by him as well).

Now, if someone would make an Animagic special about St. Nick and Krampus....

Friday, December 5, 2008

Forrest J. Ackerman- 1916-2008

I just read that Forrest J. Ackerman died last night. He was having heart problems, and word was that he wanted to stop treatment and go peacefully. All reports say that he did pass quickly and peacefully.

Forest (or "Unlce Forry") was a literary agent who helped get the careers of many science fiction (or "sci-fi", a term he coined) writers careers started, Ray Bradbury among them. Forry also had a very extensive collection of horror and sci-fi memorabilia in his home, which he opened to the public every chance he got, because he wanted to share it with others.But Forry's main accomplishment ( to me, anyway) was the prototype monster movie magazine, Famous Monsters Of Filmland. FM was the first regular magazine devoted to horror, fantsay, and sc-fi films. Even though the text and photo captions were littered with puns and jokes, FM took a serious approach to the genre, having articles on not only current films, but movies from the silent era and the Universal classics. FM covered art and exploitation alike, and ran from 1958 to 1983.

I remember the first time I saw an issue. It was issue #114, a special on Japanese monster movies. A friend at school had it, it must have been first or second grade, I guess(i.e., some point in the 70's). He wouldn't trade anything for it, either. I went to the grocery store with my Mom as soon as I could talk her into it, and looked for it. Issue #114 wasn't there, but there was another one there. I grabbed it up, and was thereby hooked. It was so cool to see a magazine devoted to the stuff I loved. Most adults weren't into those kinds of movies (none I knew, anyway), and only a few kids I knew liked them as much as I did. This is the kind of thing when you're a kid that, even though I never knew Forry or anyone else associated with the magazine, seeing this magazine validated my interests and made me feel like I wasn't alone in my obsession with monsters and horror. In addition, it was a great source of information and education on my favorite genre. It was FM that led me to watch silent films like The Phantom of the Opera(1925)and Nosferatu(1922), and other such B&W classics on my local PBS station.

I'm in the process of writing a book, and about a month or so ago I wrote about Forry and FM, and the influence it had on me. Writing that chapter really got me thinking about those times . Getting the newest issue of FM was my favorite part of the month. I always started reading it in the grocery store first, and read it thoroughly after getting home...and then I couldn't wait until next month for the next issue! Luckily, my Mom encouraged my reading habits, even if it was monster magazines and comic books ( "I was just glad you were reading something", she later told me). I still have all those old issues of FM , and yes, I did finally get a back issue of #114.

Uncle Forry, you will be missed.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Beast's Movie Cave- Day Of The Beast

With the holiday season nigh upon us, I got to thinking of my favorite holiday films. I did like Elf with Will Farrell, and of course A Christmas Story ("You'll shoot your eye out!"), but being who and what I am, my favorite Christmastime film is Day Of The Beast (1995), a Spanish film directed by Alex de la Iglesia. OK, it's only a holiday film tangentially, but bear with me, please.

Day Of The Beast is a black comedy/horror film . Father Angel Beriartua (Alex Angulo), a Basque Catholic priest, has been studying the texts of the Apocolypse. He has discovered, through deciphering codes and hidden meanings, that the Antichrist is to be born in Madrid on Christmas day. As he reveals this to a superior, the huge cross in the church falls and crushes said superior. Father Angel decides to go to Madrid to stop the Antichrist from destroying the world. He decides that to get close to ultimate evil, he must commit acts of evil himself, and enlist the help of those close to evil. He ends up going into a record shop specializing in Heavy metal and makes frinds with Jose Maria (Santiago Segura), the manager, a somewhat brain-fried Metalhead. They then go to TV occultist Professor Cavan (Armando De Razza) for more help in finding the Beast ( not me, the other Beast...anyway...). Will our intrepid trio stop ultimate evil from coming into our world, or will the world come to and end on Christmas day?

Day Of The Beast is one of those rare films, like Dead Alive ( see my October entry on this film) , that successfully combines humor and horror. Much of the humor comes from Father Angel, whose quaint country ways give him a unique view on what is "evil". Among the acts he commits to try to attract the attention of the Devil are stealing luggage and, my personal favorite, pushing a street mime off a stairway railing down the subway steps ( I don't consider mime violence evil, it's more of a public service).

The goof-ass Metalhead played by Segura is pretty funny as well...usually I don't like the stereotypical Metalhead -as-dumbass portryal, but this one is funny . Cavan is an interesting character as well, since he is basically a non-believing charlatan at first, who then discovers that there is a very real Supernatural world out there.

There are also some very scary moments of horror to be had as well in this film. The one that immediately comes to mind is when our trio holds a ceremony to summon the Devil. At first nothing happens, but then , from the other room, a black goat walks in, stands up on its hind legs, walks the rest of the way in, and snarls at Father Angel with a mouthful of fangs, and our good Padre looks as if he's about to poop his pants.

Day Of The Beast hardly made a sound in the rest of the world, but in its naitive Spain it was nominated for 14 Goya awards( the Spanish Oscar) and won 6 ( an appropriate number, I suppose). It's currently unavailable on DVD , but some online stores have copies available. I plan on securing a copy soon, as it's a film I've liked a lot since I saw it years ago. If you like your movies funny and scary, check out Day Of The Beast, if you can find it. I give it 5 clawmarks. Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Wine and Comic Books

Yesterday I went ot the other side of town to kill two birds with one stone-pick up some wine, and some comic books. The grocery store with the best wine selection is near the shop where I get comics(yes, I still read comics). So, it makes it worth the trip.

Tonight's wine is from Argentina, a Cabernet Sauvignon called Elsa Bianchi from 2006. I tend to pefer red wines over whites, and this one is pretty good. I'm still a newbie at the whole wine thing...you won't find me describing wines after swooshing some around in my mouth and saying, "Fruity with just a hint of a moose aftertaste", or, "Gentle, yet flaccid". This tastes good to me, and if you like cabs, give it a try. Now, onto the comic of the evening, and I think this one goes good with a red wine.

Black Terror #1 continues the story started in the Superpowers series by Dynamite Entertainment. It follows a bunch of heroes who, at the end of WWII, were imprisoned in Pandora's Urn because some feared their power. Locked away for decades, the heroes eventually find their way back to the world, and find it changed, not only by the passage of time, but by the fact that the government is controlled by a company that seeks world domination, under the guise of doing what's best for all. The Black Terror was the first of the heroes to escape the Urn, and his time in the Urn has made him more powerful, and when he escapes, he is one royally pissed-off superbeing.

The characters in this series are all old heroes from wartime comics that have fallen into public domain, and have been updated . The Black Terror is probably the coolest looking of the bunch..his outfit is by far the best superhero suit I've seen in a long time.I read an article that described him as a cross between Superman, Batman, and a Goth pirate. That's a pretty fair description of him...he's strong, tough, angry, and has the coolest costume I've seen in a long time. In his debut solo issue he starts to use a sword, which only adds to the fun . The Terror takes on the pirate role, not hesitaing to fight against the U.S. government if they're controlled by wrongdoers, like sort of a superpowered Captain Blood .

The artwork is good and the story is intersesting, so I reccomend Black Terror if you're a comic-reading type, or have been wanting to give the comics medium a try.

More wine and comics after I finish this bottle. Cheers and happy reading!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Movie Night With The Beast- Let The Right One In

I went to the movies tonight and saw Let The Right One In, a Swedish vampire film. I caught it at a local theater called the Bijou, which specializes in foreign and art films. They also have a sizable menu, including everything from standard movie fare like popcorn and nachos to salads, burgers, wine, beer, and Starbucks coffee. I had read a lot about this film, and everything I read was positive, which is rare. I didn't think it would make it to my neck of the woods, because such films are hit-or-miss here, but I picked up a copy of the local independent newspaper(The Current) and saw an ad for it. I knew what I was doing this weekend after reading that...and I was not dissapointed.

The movie is about a young boy named Oskar ( Kare Hedebrant) who is bullied regularly at school. He dreams of violent retaliation, but doesn't follow through with it. One night, he sees a man with a young girl move in to his apartment building. The man puts cardboard over all the windows for some reason. On one cold Winter evening, Oskar is out in the courtyard, stabbing a tree with his knife, fantasizing of revenge on his tormentors, when he meets the new neighbor girl Eli ( Lina Leandersson). Eli is also twelve years "or so" old. At first she is standoffish with Oskar, but the two start to form a friendship. Eli also doesn't seem to feel the cold, sitting outside in the Swedish Winter night without a coat.

We soon learn that Eli is a vampire, who has been twelve years old "for a long time", and the man living with her is a servant of sorts, his job being to procure blood for her by killing townspeople. He proves to be inept at this, and Eli is forced to get her own meals. Eli and Oskar's relationship becomes closer, with Eli giving Oskar the courage to stand up to his tormentors, and Eli finding someone to care about in Oskar. Oskar eventually learns Eli's true nature. How will he react to this revelation? Will the townspeople find out what Eli really is? Will Oskar be able to escape the bullies' plan for revenge against him?

Let The Right One In, directed by Tomas Alfredson, is a very different vampire film. This is evident right from the opening credits, which play over a black background with complete silence, eventually turning into a serene snowfall. There are many shots of the snow and ice on the trees and buildings, and these are truly beautiful. The Swedish Winter is a unique backdrop for a vampire film, its quiet beauty and isolation adding emphasis to the characters' initial emotional isolation. The white Winter backdrop also makes anything with color pop out...there's a scene where Oskar gives Eli a Rubik's Cube to play with, and it's so colorful in comparison to the snowy backdrop that it fairly blasts out like a beacon.The same quiet beauty is also in sharp contrast to the sudden bursts of violence and horror that punctuate the film. There's blood shed in this film, and its fairly graphic and nasty. Throats are cut and bitten, blood is drank, and limbs are severed. Especially gruesome is the scene towards the end of the film at the pool...I won't say any more, as I don't want to spoil it for anyone. Let's just say if you like graphic violence in your horror movies, this scene will put a smile on your demented little face.
I also want to mention the use of sound in the film. Overall it's a fairly quiet film, but there are moments when you can hear things, like Eli's growls or her making sounds of hunger. I think it's a good example of a filmmaker using all the elements of film at his disposal to make something unique and artistic.

There are so many noteworthy moments in this film...we see what happens when a vampire enters a home uninvited, for example. We also see how a vampire's helper, who is about to be caught due to carelessness, makes himself unrecognizable with a jar of acid. We learn that cats do not like vampires at all. And, on a more humanistic note, we see how these two young (at least one is young-looking) outsiders meet and go from lonely outcasts to two lost souls who care deeply for one another.

Let The Right One In is not only a good vampire film, but a good film period. I'm sure that Twilight will make tons of cash off of the teen crowd that eats that kind of stuff up, and it may even be a good flick for what it is...but if you want to see what a real filmmaker can do with the form , and with vampires, check out Let The Right One In. If it's not playing in your town, rent it as soon as it comes out on DVD. Apparently it's going to be re-made by some American studio, which means it'll lose any uniqueness the original possesses, and be just like every other film out there, and it'll have a 99.9% chance of sucking big time. If you can, go see it. The Beast gives it five out of five clawmarks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Krampus' Wife???

Check out www.inexorableblog.blogspot.com to see a post about Santa Muerte, who may be married to that lovable European scamp, Krampus. It's a cool bit of info about a saint that isn't recognized by the Catholic church, but is pretty cool and interesting anyway. Take a look.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cool Art at Omnia ab Uno

Hey all, I don't think I mentioned it before, but if you're into art, check out the blog Omnia ab Uno. It's by D, a good friend of mine I've known since our college days. She's a fantastic artist. Her work is mystical and fascinating. She's down there in my list of followers. Her addy is www.dgarzelloni.blogspot.com. Go take a look. Go on, you know you want to.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Krampus Krew

Here are some pics I found of various folks dressed up as Krampus for the holidays...I think they're pretty cool. Enjoy!