Lstrblg

Grg Lstr's linkdump and thoughts on science, family and things in the ocean that would kill you if given the opportunity.

New to Me in 2018: Camera Thief

So, I get to cheat a little with this one. Joe Duffey and his brother Brendan aren’t new to me. I see them all the time all over town. Joe saved my [soccer] life this year as we started up a new U11 travel team. Joe’s music isn’t all that new to me either, as his previous band, Underwater Window Garden, released a fantastic album a few years back entitled The Greatly Divided, which you should buy.

Joe is a great guy, and I’d be a fan of him whether or not he played in band. As it is, his new band Camera Thief crushed it at the local arts fest this year. They’re working on a new album, but its increasingly looking like it won’t happen in 2018. Fortunately, they’re on SoundCloud with a handful of songs now.

This one, Starting Fires, legitimately gives me chills:

I love this video because a) public domain Superman from Fleischer studios,  b) it is a good tune and, c) Joe did the editing himself. See for yourself:

New to Me in 2018: The Beetle

Hey kids, what was the top-selling horror novel of 1897?

No, not that one…the other one: Richard Marsh’s masterpiece, The Beetle

Like this but bigger, is occasionally trying to kill you and is often a person

What? Never heard of it? Don’t worry, outside the UK, which occasionally reinterprets it as a radio play, it really hasn’t lingered in the popular culture.

The Beetle is a complex telling of a simple revenge tale with a whole lot of themes of sex and gender identity running throughout. It will remind you of Dracula, but I think it is a tad easier for modern readers to grasp. Instead of ancient vampires you get an ancient Egyptian pagan cult prone to orgies, human sacrifices, and werebeetlery.  It begins with mind control, nerve gas and a comedy of errors, and ends with a chase that must have made British trainspotters squeal with glee. I enjoyed it, and I suspect you might as well, if you are into this sort of thing.

Structurally, it is told as four entangled tales told in the first person. Marsh does a good job of developing unique voices for each of the characters, although the story threads are interwoven functionally but not necessarily smoothly.  In fact, each narrator is a fun little archetype: the doomed, noble bum; the mad inventor; the rebellious young woman trying to find love, identity and purpose in an honor-driven patriarchy; and a hard-boiled detective. Good stuff, generally well told.

You can find it in a variety of formats on   Project Gutenberg and listen to it on LibriVox. I have a fondness for public domain fiction, particularly that of the horror, scifi and weird variety, so this ranks right up there. One of my goals of 2019 is to start up a podcast on the topic. Of course, that was also a goal of 2018.

 

New to Me in 2018: I Think Like Midnight

I figured I’d post some things that I have enjoyed in 2018. Not all of it is new, but this was new to me.

I Think Like Midnight makes rock instrumental music, and if I had a theme song it would be Miner Pocket Draft Gear.

The band is my kind of supergroup, featuring Andrew Chalfen from The Wishniaks along with the Dead Milkmen’s Joe Genaro and Dean Sabatino. Buy all their stuff and listen to it.

Then wild in the dark let the lemurs bark

I think part of the reason I still have a blog is for me to put things where I might find them again.

Here’s a poem by Lovecraft, which I’ve swiped from HPLovecraft.com. It is from 1926, I’m assuming it was published in Weird Tales either then or posthumously, which are the choices when it comes to HP, and a reminder that I need to pick up a copy of his collected poetry. I quite like the construction and the rhythm.

Hallowe’en in a Suburb

By H. P. Lovecraft

The steeples are white in the wild moonlight,

 And the trees have a silver glare;

Past the chimneys high see the vampires fly,

 And the harpies of upper air,

 That flutter and laugh and stare.

 

For the village dead to the moon outspread

 Never shone in the sunset’s gleam,

But grew out of the deep that the dead years keep

 Where the rivers of madness stream

 Down the gulfs to a pit of dream.

 

A chill wind weaves thro’ the rows of sheaves

 In the meadows that shimmer pale,

And comes to twine where the headstones shine

 And the ghouls of the churchyard wail

 For harvests that fly and fail.

 

Not a breath of the strange grey gods of change

 That tore from the past its own

Can quicken this hour, when a spectral pow’r

 Spreads sleep o’er the cosmic throne

 And looses the vast unknown.

 

So here again stretch the vale and plain

 That moons long-forgotten saw,

And the dead leap gay in the pallid ray,

 Sprung out of the tomb’s black maw

 To shake all the world with awe.

 

And all that the morn shall greet forlorn,

 The ugliness and the pest

Of rows where thick rise the stones and brick,

 Shall some day be with the rest,

 And brood with the shades unblest.

 

Then wild in the dark let the lemurs bark,

 And the leprous spires ascend;

For new and old alike in the fold

 Of horror and death are penn’d,

 For the hounds of Time to rend.

 

Like the best poetry, it needs to be read aloud. Like the best Lovecraft, it needs to be read by Andrew Leman. Fortunately, he did so a few years back.

 

What in Hickory is going on?

Allow me to start off by saying that I’m an all-around, card-carrying skeptic. Sagan is my bread and Randi is my butter. That said, I loves me some ghost stories. An interest in the paranormal and weirdness is what made me a skeptic, after all.

One of my favorite things to do is to listen to scary stories and one of my favorite sources for scary stories is the Anything Ghost podcast, which is charmingly straightforward.  Nine out of ten of the listener stories he recounts seem to be your classic sleep paralysis tales, but occasionally you get something a little more chilling (there was this a full on “get out of my room” story about a dead sister in the latest). It helps that I tend to listen before dawn while jogging or walking the dog.

This isn’t really about a ghost story, but on the second part of his annual Halloween program, he rebroadcast a story from another podcast about a haunting in Hickory, Pa., which is on the opposite side of the commonwealth from yours truly.

I’ve never heard of Hickory before, but it was described as a pre-Revolutionary town amid the mountains of the Alleghenies.  Since I always wanted to be a Lovecraftian protagonist, my antiquarian heart was all aflutter over the possibilities of casting eyes upon the relics of an ancient borough–so I popped it up on Google maps when I got back from my jog. Turns out, it is just a census designated place in the hills just south of Da Burgh.  Home to

What caught my eye was a lovely little anomaly–see it?

I cast Sacred Flame

Meanwhile, in Hickory

ENHANCE!

What Do on Dire?

Something weird is going on at the end of Dire Drive, a remote little cul-de-sac community that the Google car didn’t even bother to drive down.  Is it a cool satellite lens flare, a holy sign or, perhaps, Boba Fett entering the atmosphere? (C’mon, Slave 1, anyone?) Here’s a look from another map service:

I can’t see what it was reflecting off of here, though. I was expecting solar panels, but none of the other maps show anything. Weird.

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