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Showing posts from 2011

Movie Review: Insidious

I watched Insidious after having heard about it online. This movie is not for the faint of heart, and it's not for people who don't like being scared.

This movie was written by Leigh Whannel and directed by James Wan who, if you recall, were the same magnificent duo that wrote and directed the original Saw movie. The first one. The good one.

Insidious is about a family that moves into a new house. It's a very real environment, and draws you in, and weird things start happening right away. These things are all in the 'minor poltergeist activity' category at first. Books falling off shelves, doors opening. The action ramps up after the oldest son falls into a coma.

The movie plays a game of steady escalation, where you go from seeing things out of the corner of your eyes to jumping when something runs right in front of you. It does make use of jump scares, which I know annoy some people, but they are never the cheap kind of jump scares- the friend jumping out to sc…

The Little Light

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We've kept a flashlight under the table in our bedroom for a long time. It's one of those monster-sized lights for emergencies and on the top of it is a smaller second light. It had been under that table a long time without incident and then one night we realized the little light was on, casting a pale wash of blue light up the wall in that corner. Slightly creepy but not a big deal and we turned it off. The next night it was on again. And the next. At this point we teased each other that our oldest cat, who had passed away that month at the age of 18, was turning it on. As she wasn't usually allowed in the bedroom we thought she would consider it good fun to spend some of her afterlife in there. The light stopped turning on and things were back to normal. 
Some time later our second oldest cat passed away (also 18 by then) and within a few days the light was on. The Rational Human Reaction kicked in at that point. Perhaps it had been on more than we realized and we just h…

Creepy Pasta and You

If you haven't searched the internet for creepy stories, you may not have heard of Creepy Pasta. A brief primer on Creepy Pasta: the term is a bastardization for the word copy and paste (which is often called copy pasta) and refers to, generally, anonymous stories that are shared through copy and paste methods.

Those of you who have trawled for Creepy Pasta know that it is largely hit or miss. Some of them are really creepy and stay in your head for a while. Fortunately, the popular ones tend to be the good ones (as these are the ones people want to share).

The eerie thing about Creepy Pasta is the unsettling feeling like some of it is real. Some of them are urban legends, modified, and it's easy to pick those out. Others, though, make you wonder: Is this a good attempt to scare, or a genuine cry for help?


Cowboys and Aliens?

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If you haven't had a chance to see the new movie Cowboys and Aliens yet it is an intriguing excursion into the idea of aliens coming to the 19th century Old West of America. The concept of course makes you begin to wonder, "Were there alien sightings then?"According to Unexplained Mysteries and MSNBC the answer is yes.
"About 6 o'clock this morning the early risers of Aurora (Texas) were astonished at the sudden appearance of the airship which has been sailing throughout the country. It was traveling due north and sailed over the public square and when it reached the northern part of town it collided with the tower of Judge Proctor's windmill and went to pieces with a terrific explosion, scattering debris over several acres of ground." Dallas Morning News on April 19, 1897

More via Unexplained Mysteries: Were there UFO Sightings in the Old West?

The Mothman

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Driving through West Virginia this weekend I was reminded of the Mothman, mostly because once you hit a local gift shop there is always a stack of books about the legend. We first encountered the legend in the 2002 Richard Gere/Laura Linney movie "The Mothman Prophesies." It's odd that we hadn't heard of it before since we spend a good deal of time in West Virginia, but mostly on the east side and the Mothman incidents were on the west side. If you aren't familiar with the legend, it is about a large, winged creature with red eyes that was seen by multiple witnesses around Point Pleasant, West Virginia back in the 60s for about a year before a significant bridge collapse that killed 46 people. Some theorize that the Mothman came to warn the town of the impending danger.
But I told you all that in order to tell you this: my husband invited the Mothman over to our house. Well, alright, that's not exactly how it went but that's how it worked out. A couple of …

The Dark Figure

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One night a young man awoke to the sound of mumbling. Opening his eyes he could see a dark figure at the foot of the bed, leaning over him and speaking in some strange language. Although it seemed foreboding he couldn't stop himself from asking, "What?" The figure paused and then started speaking again. The young man sensed that if he focused he might be able to understand the language but that would be A Very Bad Thing. He buried himself under the covers and prayed.

The next morning he told his friend from across the street about the event and the other young man scoffed. The figure came back for two more nights, and on the third night the young man called out, "Go bother my friend! He doesn't believe in you!" The next morning he met his friend who said, "The weirdest thing happened last night. I woke up to hear something, maybe a squirrel, running around above my room counterclockwise three times. What's weird is that it sounded like it was in th…

R is for Reptilians

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We live in the so called 'enlightened' era. It's the 21st century now and we are just a few short steps away from putting a man on Mars. We're looking at travelling to other stars or, at the very least, at finding better and clearer ways ways to look at them so it may come as a surprise to some of you to learn that, in this 'enlightened' age, there remains a contingent of the human population who actually believe that our planet is infested with alien creatures known as reptilians

According to David Icke, the creator of the reptilian legend, these reptilians came to us from the constellation of 'Draco'. It is not said exactly which star in this system they originated from nor how they came to spontaneously exist as a unified race over such a gargantuan area but it is told that, at some point, they took up residence in a series of tunnels beneath the surface of the earth and have been manipulating mankind since the dawn of civilisation under the auspice…

W is for Wicca

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Wicca is a religion that was developed towards the middle of last century in England, right around when a big spirtualism/medium revival was happening. The word itself came into common usage in the 1960's. While there may be ideas and rituals that date from far previously, the religion itself is relatively young.

There are many many different ways to be Wiccan, there are several different main traditions (which is like a denomination) and of course many covens have their very own tradition. Gardnerian and Alexandrian are two of the very first and are sometimes both referred to as British Traditional Wicca, they both are the two original branches of Wicca. In addition to these there are, of course, many many more traditions.

Wicca is one of those things where the only rule is that there are no rules- there aren't many overreaching Wiccan beliefs, rituals, or teachings. There is the Wiccan Rede, which varies in wording but generally goes something like: If it harm none, do …

S is for Slender Man

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Slender Man resembles an extremely (inhumanly) tall and thin 'man' who appears to be wearing a suit. Sometimes he appears to have an excessive number of arms, although this varies from sighting to sighting. According to legend (more on this later) he generally targets children, and makes them disappear. He's not opposed to attacking adults and will sometimes leaving their corpses hanging in trees, devoid of internal organs.

He is also, completely, a product of the internet. It's possible to read the very first post Slender Man ever appeared in, and the thread through which his legend grew. MarbleHornets (which I recommend if you really like getting the pants scared off of you) was born in the same thread.

But setting aside all the terrifying fiction, what makes Slender Man really fascinating is that since his inception there are people who have been claiming to see him. Some people believe that this is just people scaring themselves silly, which is possible. Howev…

O is for Ouija

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The Ouija Board (also known as a Spirit Board or Talking Board) has it's roots in spirit writing, when the medium and spiritual craze heated up in the late 19th and early 20th century. The planchette originally had two rolling casters and a pencil for a tip, which could be used to inscribe messages by the dead (or a crafty medium). The messages were too long and laborious to write, and sometimes were difficult to read. In other words, they were a crowd killer, and soon the practice of using the planchette this way was dropped in favor of the medium directly channeling the spirit in question.

While there were a few complicated dial based contraptions for contacting the spirits, they were expensive and over-engineered. When someone had the admittedly brilliant idea to put the alphabet on the board and have the planchette point to the letter in question, it was an idea that was both marketable and accessible. While it was generally accepted that anybody could make their own alph…

N is for Necronomicon

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The Necronomicon, originally titled Kitab al-Azif, is a book of eldritch lore concerning the Elder Gods written in 730 A.D. by the 'Mad Arab" Abdul Alhazred while he was in Damascus. The book details the history of the great Old Ones and how they may be summoned. To read the book is to invite madness, because the learning contained within its pages is not meant for human minds, and will drive them insane. The knowledge contained within the Necronomicon's pages will not only drive the reader mad, but will imperil their very life. Alhazared suffered a horrible fate as a result of his temerity in committing the book to paper: reports variously claim he was either seized by an invisible demon in broad daylight and rent to shreds before horrified onlookers (in 731 A.D.), or abducted by the fanatical minions of Hastur the Unspeakable and then tortured, blinded, had his tongue cut out, and finally executed (in 738 A.D.).

Alhazared's original Arabic manuscript appears to have…

Lock Up the Children They Might Roll Dice!

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Sitting at a table rolling handfuls of polyhedral dice while pretending to be Conan, Aragorn, or Elric is, according to many on the lunatic fringe of religious thinking, a gateway to the occult. Rule books full of esoteric tables of numbers and lists of fictional attributes are, somehow, the very directions to how to summon real demons and use black magic. What I'm talking about here is occult based hysteria, and Dungeons & Dragons.

Back in the 1970s, Gary Gygax and David Arneson, inspired by the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert A. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, and others as well as their own experience playing historical miniatures wargames, created the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. Playing the game involves creating characters detailed by intricate and obscure rules who then set out on adventures, usually with the idea of becoming mighty heroes like the protagonists in the many hundreds of fantasy novels in circulation. Players generally sit a…

H is for Horoscopes

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Almost everyone loves to read their "horoscope" in the local paper. But based on the way astrology works, knowing your sun sign isn't much more specific than in biology identifying that you're a human, in that it rules out a lot of things - not an elephant, not an ant - but there are certainly a lot of details that we think make us much more unique than that.

If you're curious about your detailed horoscope you can get a free account at astro.com. They have some detailed interpretations available for fees, but you can also run a chart and see some basic interpretations for free. You just need to know when (to the minute) and where (city) you were born.

What you will find is that although a sun sign is important (kind of like saying you're a human is very defining in some ways), there are a myriad of other things going on. What sign is each of your planets in? What house (slice of the pie on the wheel) is each planet in? What sign falls on each house? What are th…

G is for Ghosts

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What do Charles Dickens and Grant Wilson have in common? Ghost hunting, of course! Dickens was a member of London's "The Ghost Club" and Grant is part of the famous Ghost Hunters duo on SyFy.

Across cultures and history there has been a strong belief that some part of us lives on after we die - our spirit, essence, financial debt - something. While some people claim they can see ghosts, still others of us believe there could be ghosts but are reliant on equipment like cameras, audio recorders, and other sensors in our attempt to pick something up from the afterlife.

It's hard to say, though, where the truth ends and the human love of a good story begins. Who hasn't
spent a long, dark night with friends telling ghost stories to each other? Sometimes we feel a need, or at a desire, to scare the bejeezus out of ourselves and others. We flock to horror movies, keep Stephen King living in style, and pour billions of dollars into Halloween. We WANT to be scared.

But jus…

F is for Fairy

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Do you hear a bustle in your hedgerow? Based on my experience you should be alarmed. The fae aren't necessarily bad, but they are a bit... capricious. If your only reference for fairies is Tinkerbell then you haven't gotten the big picture of fairy history.

For one thing,  in the whole of fairy literature they usually aren't what you would call nice. There are some distinctions between Seelie Court and Unseelie Court, but many of these are creatures that will happily steal your life, if not your soul, for their own whims and pleasures. Somewhere between a Greek god and a modern vampire. On the other hand, they may grant you wishes, treasures, or other worldy (and otherworldly) delights. Fortunately most of the fae don't have the power to take you to the fairy realm or do the really big stuff. But don't underestimate them.

What to Do About a Fairy Infestation
First of all, don't upset them. Unless you happen to like to have things around your house broken, misplace…