Archive for April, 2009

Video box art is awesome

Posted in Stuff I think is cool with tags , on April 30, 2009 by bradellison

Know, o Prince, that between the time that the oceans drank the drive-in theaters and grindhouses, and the rise of Netflix, there was an age undreamed of, an age of VHS rental stores where row upon row of lurid videotape box covers promised more action, sex, violence and excitement than the cassette itself would ever deliver, an age when young men’s imaginations were sparked by stuff like this:

Now we can revisit those glory days, thanks to the Cover Browser!  All the movie covers that inspired my curiosity when I was eight, with none of the actual movie content that so thoroughly failed to live up to my imagination when I was sixteen!

Urban Legends: How we make sense out of a world gone mad

Posted in Agressive cryptozoology, Religion, Stuff I think is cool with tags , on April 30, 2009 by bradellison

This is an old article, but I assure you it’s well worth reading:

Myths Over Miami

Captured on South Beach, Satan later escaped. His demons and the horrible Bloody Mary are now killing people. God has fled. Avenging angels hide out in the Everglades. And other tales from children in Dade’s homeless shelters.

What a grim world it must be, where the idea of God hiding out while His angels lurk in the Everglades after the Devil overran Heaven is a comfort, eh?  Angels, demons, black magic, pagan gods, benevolent spirits of the beloved dead, all built into a coherent mythology by children, and passed by them, with amazingly little information breakdown, all across the country.  This is the kind of thing that interests me.

Urban legends: Who I am and how I came to be

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 29, 2009 by bradellison

Folklore is a passion of mine.  Horror fiction is another.  In particular, I’m fascinated by urban legends, those friend’s-cousin’s-brother-saw-it yarns about slashers, tainted food, inadvertent cannibalism, and other horrors.  Fascinated by these stories, and the deeper meanings they have.  Old Hook-Hand, of course, is there to warn young teenagers about the dangers of parking.  The unfortunate baby-sitter who learned too late that humans can lick too, she’s a warning to young girls, designed to underscore the seriousness of their responsibilities.  The woman who literally microwaved her insides after too much time in the tanning bed is a grim morality play about vanity.  Our myths and legends, the stories we tell, the things we’re afraid of, these things reveal our secret selves.  And so my hobby (well, one of my hobbies [well, actually, all my hobbies in one way or another, now that I think about it]) is a sort of mystery archeology, digging through the secret history of the 20th century as revealed in popular culture, and trying to make sense of what I find.  Why did slasher movies come into vogue when they did, and why did they experience a resurgence?  What forces led Batman to go from the target of a police manhunt when first introduced in 1939, to becoming a licensed police deputy and sometime professor of criminology during the fifties?  How much of a role did Superman really have in weakening the Ku Klux Klan’s influence?  Where does the Bloody Mary story come from?  These are the kind of questions I want answers to.

The other night, I realized why.

It must have been about twenty years ago, I think.  It was Summer, and I and several of the neighborhood kids were playing in one of those big wading pools in the front yard.  I can’t remember names, or faces, or any sort of details at all, really, but I clearly, vividly remember how I felt.

Terrified.

Because the other children were telling scary stories.

Middle of the afternoon, bright sunshine all around, and little five-year-old Brad is losing his shit because for the first time in his very abbreviated life he’s hearing about babies crying in the night in a house where there is no baby, and the next day’s investigation revealing a tiny tiny coffin hidden inside the walls.

I very clearly remember my mother telling me that these were just stories, and definitely not true, and that kids had been telling them since she was a little girl.  As an example, she told me about the woman whose Doberman started choking, and the visit to the Veterinerian that revealed that he had the fingers of an intruder caught in his throat.  Oh yes sir, I well remember that story.  Thanks Mom.  And I remember Bloody Mary, the story that had me ducking down under the counter in the bathroom for months so that the mirror couldn’t see me.  Now that I’m a grown man who stands fully six feet high and has a bushy beard and a gun and a big ol’ sword and a checking account and what have you, I still find my hair very literally standing on end when I think about Bloody Mary.

So here’s the thing.  I wasn’t just caught in the grip of fear that day.  It was revelation.  That was when I learned that there was a dark shadow world under the real one, and began to get an inkling of what it might mean.  Like the bat flying in through Bruce Wayne’s window, it is, in hindsight, the watershed moment that set me on my path.

So now I know that one of the big reasons I read so much about folklore, and watch so many horror movies, is because that’s how I deal with how badly those things frightened me when I was six.  Fascinating.

This is really, really cool

Posted in Stuff I think is cool with tags on April 28, 2009 by bradellison

I give you stop-motion elevated to near-magic:

It’s 9 PM. Do you know where your librarian is?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 25, 2009 by bradellison

Some assorted notes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 23, 2009 by bradellison

Boxer briefs, combining the advantages of both boxer shorts and y-front briefs, may be the most comfortable underpants available.  The fit of briefs, the coverage of boxers.  It means no more chafing, and my wingdangdoodle no longer ends up hanging out of a fly that will not stay closed, which can lead to even worse chafing, unless you’re wearing jeans with a button fly instead of the zipper.

Tuesday I came home from work, took off my pants, started listening to the Grateful Dead, and ended up falling asleep for thirteen hours.  The song was “Uncle John’s Band.”

There’s just something about it.  Infinite mellowness.  It’s a window to another time, another world.  A different way of looking at things.  The kind of way of looking at things that ultimately leads you to head out to Whataburger at 3AM to get some pancakes, and then sit around playing Halo, except instead of actually trying to win, you and the guys on the other team just get together and ride around in one of the Warthogs, doing donuts and shooting at trees, because, you know, like, screw it dude, whatever.  The point is, whenever I listen to that song, I feel like I understand a little better why old hippies care about the Dead so much, and I kind of feel sad for the way it all went down after the Summer of Love.  Altamont, Watergate, on down to Hunter S. Thompson finally offing himself; world could have been a different place, maybe a better one.

Not that the world as it is now doesn’t have some fine points about it.  Hey kids!  Want to learn how to dress up like a person from a past that never happened because the future envisioned by Jules Verne didn’t quite work out?  Watch and learn a few things about steampunk costuming:

Or we could just get together and make fun of some hipsters.

Ideally, the Earth’s rotation would be 26 hours, and our culture would be built around the assumption that we should sleep five hours at night, and three hours in the afternoon.

Also, we should have wings.

And retractable claws.

Seriously, retractable claws are high on my list of desired cyberpunk implants, if the technology ever gets here.  Basically, I want everything Molly Millions from Neuromancer has, plus aural enhancements.  Not a hundred percent on the embedded mirrorshades, but definitely leaning that way.

Stuff I’ve been doing instead of updating this blog

Posted in Uncategorized on April 21, 2009 by bradellison

Started running an RPG.  Spirit of the Century, the pulpiest of pulp games, a magnificent implement for recreating the action-packed gonzo-crazy science-fueled optimistic two-fisted black-and-white morality hero tales of the glorious pulp mags, movie serials, radio shows and early golden-age comic books.  Presently, we’ve only had the character-creation session, but subsequent posts will chronicle the doubtless-heroic adventures of the mighty champions playing in this game.  The roster of heroes runs thusly:

“Rocket” Ryan, the man from tomorrow!  Refugee from a perfect-yet-stagnant alternate future, he’s come back in time in search of adventure, and a way to make the future better!

Athena Argent, the magical moon maiden!  princess and sorceress, she’s been sent to Earth as ambassador from her Lunar home, to determine whether the world of men is ready to receive the secrets of the lost Library of Alexandria, and to find a suitable consort!

Dr. Jack Napoleon Jr., two-fisted relic-hunter!  His quest to discover and preserve the heritage of the past has brought him into conflict time and again with the sinister machinations of Professor James Moran, heir to the evil legacy of Professor James Moriarty and influential member of the Thule Society!

Ichabod the Inadvertent, America’s top agent of the occult!  Dealing with weird threats is his stock in trade, and his freakish luck is both his biggest asset and his greatest liability!

Together, they will oppose the forces of crime, oppression, war-mongering, and possibly international communism.  Also vampire gangsters.

Also, I’ve been watching Deadwood.  I’m way late to this party, but I’m glad I finally arrived.  Yeah, it’s as good as you’ve heard.  Foulest language I think I’ve ever heard come out of a television set, all framed in a magnificent eloquence.  The cast is well-stocked with badasses, with most of the best character actors around putting in appearances.  The depth and complexity of the plotting is fantastic, delivering a truly novel-scaled story the likes of which I don’t think I’ve ever seen on television before.  And it’s dripping with the kind of gritty, unwashed old-west authenticity that would make Gene Autry crap his sequin-encrusted pants.

After taking a hiatus for a few weeks, I picked up my DS again.  I’d been trying to parcel out playtime slowly, in order to more fully savor Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow.  Because once I beat Dawn and Portrait of Ruin, I’ll have beaten every Castlevania installment playable on the DS, including the ones for the Gameboy Advance.  But it turns out moderation is not in me, especially once I hit the last stretch of the game, as I have now.  Luckily, Castlevania offers plenty of alt-modes.  I do look forward to playing through again as Julius Belmont.  And I suppose after that I can always play Chinatown Wars for a while.

I picked up a copy of 23 Minutes in Hell from the library.  Apparently, this volume has enjoyed some success.  I cannot for the life of me understand why.  From a purely literary standpoint, it’s absolute dreck.  From a theological standpoint, it’s even worse.  I’ve noted before now that we tend to have trouble outright calling other Christians liars, but when a professional realtor tells me that God Almighty granted him a vision of Hell (including such details as the fact that you will have a physical body in Hell, but it will be devoid of fluid, and that Hell is literally located in the center of the Earth) so that he could warn people about the dangers of eternal damnation (giant spiders are involved, FYI), I am, at best, skeptical.  Especially since he seems to have no idea what the Bible actually says about Hell, despite the fact that he quotes just about every tag-end of Scripture he can that mentions the word in the King James version.  For one thing, he doesn’t seem to realize that “sheol” does not mean “Hell.”  For another, he cites the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man to support some of the detail of his alleged vision, which is hilarious since that parable directly undercuts his central claim.  This claim, you’ll recall, is that Jesus personally picked this professional seller of real estate as His messenger to warn people of the dangers of Hell, which is interesting because the parable very specifically says that this wouldn’t work.  More of this anon, perhaps, for if I can stomach more of this damnable nonsense I shall certainly want to rant about it some.

And finally, this past weekend I went to Scarborough Faire, Texas’ epic Rennaissance festival.  I went there with two hundred dollars, and came back with three.  I regret spending none of them except the two I laid out for the ping-pong-ball-shooting crossbow booth.  The barrel swing, joust slide, mead, hard cider, meat pie, fencing bouts, jewelry and walking/ass-whupping stick were all worth the price.

Here’s me with my new staff: