Archive for Supernatural

HP Lovecraft and Religion, a few thoughts as I drove to work.

Posted in Literature, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2015 by urbannight

HP LovecraftHPL often makes the religious most susceptible to madness in his stories. They turn into absolute wrecks when confronted with things out of the ordinary. These things are not supernatural in nature and the person’s religious actions to protect them do not work. His creatures are natural but either ancient, alien, or trans-dimensional. So he is basing his monsters/creatures on science (or science fiction) that we don’t understand. The implication is that religious people are weak minded to start with.
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Yet many times he has people who were more rational and non-religious go to religious authority figures for help when strange things start to happen to them or around them. It is like he is saying that it is human nature to turn to religion when confronted by the unknown or the unknowable. Of course, anything suggested by or provided by these religious figures always fails. HPL’s views of religious are well known.
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His stories reflect a concept that those who are religious and depend on religion to start with are weak minded individuals but even those with stronger mental fortitude will turn to religion when faced with the unknown, that it is basic human nature. But since God doesn’t really exist, religion cannot solve the strange problems caused by life forms that science was unable to identify or that came from other places. But people’s reliance on religion makes using religion an easy way to take over a community in order to control people for ulterior goals.
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In fact, as I sit here running stories through my head, I can only think of one that uses a supernatural horror instead of one that could be considered natural if unknown or unearthly. That is Dreams in the Witch House. There may be others that I would find if I sat down and flipped through more stories. That’s just an off the top of my head recall.
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The fact that his horror seldom uses magical causes actually increases the horror. The idea that the world is much bigger and stranger than we can see in our ordinary reality and those things have no care for the structure of the world as we see it and have created it for ourselves is a more terrifying concept than supernatural horrors.

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When authors break all the rules and it doesn’t work.

Posted in Books, Entertainment, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2012 by urbannight

Cover Art

Today’s blog is sitting in the Save Draft folder right now.  I finished my book on break and needed a book for lunch.  Lucky for me, today is the book sale and there were three paperback, fluffy novels.  I picked Janet Evanovich’s Wicked Business.  I’ve read maybe one or two of her stand alone books.  I’ve never read her long series.  I’m really not all that familiar with her work other than that she has been around for a while.  After the first two paragraphs, I had to come write up my thoughts already.

Opening paragraph.  The character describes herself.

Hi my name is Blankety Blank.  My hair is this color.  But it comes from a bottle.  My eyes are this color, the same as this relative.  I’m so tall.  My breasts stick out enough and I have a definite waistline.  I had a good, if average, childhood.  I learned a trade, met someone I didn’t marry, and inherited a house from a relative that died.

Yes, I paraphrased.  But that is the EXACT structure of the first paragraph.  This would have been so much more interesting if it came out as part of the story.  I’m not sure if this is book one or book two.  Even if it isn’t the first book, we don’t need an ‘info-you-should-already-know’ section.  Just put the needed bits and descriptions woven into the whole.

Paragraph two in a few words.  Life was good and I finally felt like an adult.

Paragraph three describes the two men who come into her life. 

Guy A is called This.  handsome, black hair over his ears, pale skin, dark eyes, and intentions that are darker.  Buy B is called That.  Big and scruffy, bit of a bum, an attitude, and charming.

Guess what?!?!  Dspite the different names and a pet monkey, she just told me that the to male leads in the book are basically Sam and Dean Winchester from Supernatural.  Really.  Even the second guy’s name started with a D. 

Oh, and Paragraph four: they are part of a loosely organized band of humans that are a bit out of the ordinary.

Maybe it is me.  Maybe is the fact I’ve watched Five seasons of Supernatural in about as many weeks.

I’m more than a little annoyed about the writing style. I’ve always heard good things about Evanovich and this is a let down.  I’m still going to read it.  Dang book cost me nearly 10$ and I still have part of lunch during which to read.

You know, I really have to add a bit here.  A few pages later, you find out that the two men are cousins.  One is a bounty hunter of a type.  The other just is.  The first is responsible for keeping the second out of too much trouble because he has a tendency to go dark side.  And all of the first’s dialogue sounds exactly like things Dean would say. So the whole ‘Supernatural’ knock off vibe is still going strong.

Strange Brew – Carrots?

Posted in Entertainment with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2012 by urbannight

What does three bundles of carrots mean? What do they MEAN?????

Dreams are a strange concoction of events, movies, books, and random input in your life being sorted and processed by the subconscious.  I do think that dreams can have meaning and messages.  But these need to be interpreted in the context of your life, not from some kind of dream dictionary.  But sometimes a dream is just a dream.  Here was my weird one from last night.

I’m working late at work, to get some more sections done on a project.  We can work up to 2 hours over time a week in reality.  In my dream, this was not a limit.  I get the impression I was making up for some time off I took. (in reality, I’m out of sick days and I took an unpaid sick day last week.  I was also supposed to go in and work 2 hours OT Saturday and I was too sick to go.)

I wasn’t feeling well so I decided to take a bath.  Our cubicles were bigger and for some reason, instead of a desk section behind me, I had a bathtub and t.v.  I then fell asleep in the bathtub. (this weekend, I kept wanting to take a bath but took showers instead.  Sunday, I went to take a bath and decided a nap sounded better.  I slept about 5 hours.  It was a LONG nap.)

The cubicles have an extra wall section that is hinged and works as a sort of door.  I hear the cleaning crew come in so I get up and get dressed.  One of the cleaners asks me to call his pastor because they need some money for gas and baby food.  I call and leave a message.

It is very late yet there were a lot of people working.  There was an entire accounting department (that doesn’t exist) that worked overnight shifts. (I suspect this is from me watching way to many episodes of Supernatural, back to back, on Netflix almost every day.) 

I finish my tasks and turn around to find something on the floor inside my door.  It’s a mystery note from the mysterious pastor saying these people are not who they say they are and they are trying to extort money from him.  He had notified authorities but he was giving me a reward.  Pinned to it was 50$.  This seemed really strange. 

I tuck it in my wallet with the rest of my money (for some reason, all my money is in my wallet and not my bank) and put my wallet in my purse.  I’ve had a bad feeling about this from the moment they showed up. 

The rest of the cleaning crew is leaving and the man and his wife come up to my cube and she is not Hispanic.  (Okay, everywhere I’ve worked in the last 6 years has had Hispanic cleaning crews.  I’m not trying to stereotype.  This is just an element from my life experience in this city.)  She was also not part of the cleaning crew.  I’m feeling gratified that there are a lot of accountants around right now so I’m not alone with them.

She demands her money.  I don’t have ‘her’ money, but I do have a note the pastor left for them.  (Why he snuck in and out I don’t know.) It is just a folded bit of paper and I’m trying to find it in all my receipts and cash and stuff.  She keeps trying to peek around me and into my purse.  She can’t so she finally tells me to hive her my purse. 

“No. I am not giving you my purse.  You do not need to look in my purse.” (the only direct line I can remember from the dream.  She then gets all huffy and tries to act all official and like she is going to try to put me under citizen’s arrest or something.  (I watched The Watch, it was rather boring.)  I know she plans to rob me.  I just cock my head at her and tell her she isn’t touching me or my purse and that I am going to call the police. 

An accountant, hearing the argument, stops and hangs out near us.  She doesn’t believe I will call the police.  I pick up the phone and dial 911.  As I’m doing this, I notice there are several bunches of carrots on the floor.  I have no idea why they are there.  I’m pondering this as the 911 operator answers the phone and I wake up.

What an awful place to wake up.  I want to know what happened next.  I’m really confused by the carrots.  I really just want to know about those carrots.  Who care about what would have happened next.  I was ready to thow down with that woman.

Humans Hunting Humans

Posted in Books, Entertainment, Movies and Theatre, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2012 by urbannight

I am actually farther along than this. New photos will have to wait until tomorrow or Wednesday.

Last night I was ensconced on the couch, madly working away at Elegant Pumpkins, watching episode after episode of Supernatural.  I fail to understand how I never saw this show when it came out about 7 or 8 years ago.  The only explanation I can find is that it must have been on opposite something I was already totally hooked on. 

Progress was being made and I really wanted to finish that one section, so I started another episode, entitled Benders.  I was trying to imagine what it could be about.

I didn’t expect it to be ordinary humans with a not so ordinary hobby.  It was all about people kidnapping other people in order to hunt them.  What really gets me is the name of the Episode.  Is doesn’t seem to have anything to do with anything.  I can only guess that it might be the surname for the weird family.  Not that it was ever mentioned in the episode.


On the whole, I’ve seen a lot of variations of this particular story.  Richard Connell has a lot for which to answer.  Or maybe it is the producer of school texted books.  Particularly Jr and Sr High Schools text books.  I don’t know if it is still a mainstay of English Lit textbooks or not, but when I was in school it was, and I know people up to 20 years older than me who remember it from school.  Everyone I mention it to goes, “oh yeah, that story”.  But no one remember what grade it was.

First published in 1924, the title was The Most Dangerous Game.   A famous big game hunter somehow gets stranded on an island where he is captured and invited to be part of a game.  Initially, because the owner of the island knew of him and admired him, he was invited to participate as a hunter.  But he refused.  The game was hunting humans.  He would send the out in the jungle with a weapon and food supplies.  If they survived three days they were allowed to go free.  No one had ever survived.  So the title was a play on the word game as something for entertainment and an object that is hunted.  This refusal angers his captor who then says that  he can either be the hunted or get beaten by the man’s huge bodyguard.

Being a world renown hunter, he chose to be hunted.  The ensuing three-day hunt ends with the hero diving off a cliff to escape.  The villain returns home to find the hero in his own bedroom.  The villain views the hunt as over.  He seems to be honoring the terms of letting people go if they survive the three days.  But the hero sees him as a monster, a beast that is no better than an animal himself.  They fight.  The outcome is not stated, but the hero ends the story with how he slept that night, implying that he defeated and killed the villain.  But it also ambiguous.  He ended up playing the part the villain originally wanted him to play.  He hunted another human.  He hunted his hunter, catching him unaware in his own den, and defeating him.  Did he learn the value of life and think less callously about the animals he himself hunted or did he end up turning into another hunter like the villain, who succumbed to the thrill of hunting people, losing his own humanity in the process?

At least 24 films have been influenced by this and at least 30 t.v. shows.  Every kid reads it in school.  It is a familiar story.  So every writer has it in the back of their minds as possible material.  No wonder we see it crop up so often.  There was a one serial killer in the 1980 who followed a similar pattern.  And the inventors of the Paintball game developed it after talking about an African hunting trip and developed the actual idea directly based on the story, creating a nonlethal way to experience the thrill of the hunt against an opponent who could hunt them back.

Like I said, as I watched yet another version of the story, I thought that Richard Connell had a lot for which to answer. I understand why he wrote it.  In part it was seems to be dealing with issue of killing humans not long after WWI.  There seems to be an element of working though the idea what is humane and what is inhumane and what it means to be human and what it means to kill. 

Maybe Richard Connell is not the one who has to answer for anything.  Maybe it was whomever decided this was a vital piece of literature and all school children should read this.  I know it was in the text books for decades.  I just don’t know for how many years and it if it is still there.  But it has become a part of the American psyche and I don’t know if it is a good thing or a bad thing.

31 Days of Halloween – Movie Orgy

Posted in Books, Entertainment, Food, Holiday, Life, Movies and Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2010 by urbannight

Friday night involved running some errands and watching Red.  There was a lot of action.  But it was paced and still left you feeling that it was rather relaxing.  The movie was very funny but we all expected that.  I didn’t expect it to be as cute as it was.  It was a funny, cute, action movie.

Saturday was the all girl, Halloween slumber party and movie fest.  The menu was spanikopita, bead with an artichoke spread and a pumpkin butter spread, thin specialty ham, shrimp with cocktail sauce, fruit and melon, and truffles. The bon bon type, not the cooking type.

We started out with St. Trinian’s.  This was a delightful British film with a superb cast.  An all girl boarding school with an unusual outlook has to make enough money to keep the bank from foreclosing on them with also trying to keep the minister of education from taking over the school to set an example of them as a ‘bad’ school.  I must own this movie.

The second movie was Paranormal Activity.  We had high hopes for it.  So many people said it was so very scary.

Is this scary?  When is it going to get scary?  It’s so not scary yet.

That was pretty much our train of thought the whole way through.  Maybe Asian horror movies have ruined us for things like Paranormal Activity.  The only ‘scary’ bit was right at the end.  And by then it was pretty darn predictable.  I do NOT recommend Paranormal Activity to people who are already fans of horror movies.    People who prefer good ‘ghost story’ horror movies and spooky movies over slasher horror will not find this scary at all.

We went retro and watched Highway to Hell next.  This was a fun little 1992 movie that was a take on the Greek story of Orpheus and Eurydice.  Not brilliant movie making but a good romp.

Sunday.

I woke up before everyone else.  7:30.  I had 2.5 hours of sleep.  I couldn’t get back to sleep so I put in The Woods.  Another all-girls school, this one was more spooky that Paranormal Activity.  And it was a nice way to work Bruce Campbell into the movie weekend.  This story of witches, children, strange skills, and legends has strong acting skills,  better writing than a lot of horror films that make more money, and a nice creepy tension factor.  I like it.  It was my second time watching it and I still like it.

Everyone else was still asleep so I put in Dorian Grey.  The movie was very good but somewhat hard to put into words without giving it all away.  A young man who has a kind heart and good spirit return home after his grandfather’s death.  A man who hated him and blamed him for his mother’s death.  A friend of the family takes him under his wing and completely corrupts this youth until nothing is left of that young many.  Another friend painted his picture right after he came to town.  The most perfect picture the painter ever painted.  The movie doesn’t really go into any detail on how the picture becomes the vehicle to absorb all the evil that Dorian does in his life.  But when Dorian kills the painter after he shows him what is happening, Dorian leaves England and doesn’t return for about twenty years.  Prior to his departure, people had noticed that nothing of his dissipated lifestyle showed in his face.  That type of dissipation often ages a person.  But it isn’t until his return and he still looks like he only a little over twenty years old that people wonder about him.  He actually falls in live and wants to make up for his life and seems to finally be feeling guilt for his actions while still fearing he might kill the woman he loves.  The final outcome became increasingly obvious as to how it would occur the closer and closer it got to the end.  You are left with a sense of overwhelming sadness.  You also don’t really think that man who shaped Dorian into the monster he became really understood and accepted responsibility for what he had done to the young man.

That concludes the third weekend of the 31 days of Halloween.

31 Days of Halloween – “Re-Cycle”

Posted in Entertainment, Holiday, Movies and Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2010 by urbannight

My goal of doing something Halloween related every day failed miserably. I wanted the decorations out of storage on the first and didn’t get them out until the 12th. Three Tubs and half a box of Halloween décor, not counting the box full at work. I have one tub of Christmas décor. You can see which holiday has my devotion. The tubs have been stacked in the middle of the bedroom for two days now. I will work on that tonight.

Last night I went to a friend’s to watch a Chinese horror film. It received great reviews because it broke from the standard Hong Kong industry formula for Horror. That’s because it wasn’t’ exactly a horror film.

Re-Cycle
A novelist is at a press conference for the release of a film of her first trilogy, a romance in which the main characters die in the end. Therefore there love will be eternal and enduring and never ending. She also says she put some of herself into her female leads.

Her publicist announces the title and theme of her next book. A book she has not started and had not yet thought about. Now she has to start writing a supernatural novel named Recycle.

It doesn’t start well and her former lover has returned after 8 years. He was married when she was with him and he has now divorced. He had asked her to wait for him. She tells him that if she had waited for him she would have wasted 8 years of her life.

In the course writing, strange things start to happen as she starts to see the character she threw away and story elements she tests and discards. Then she finds herself pulled into another dimension, a dump of lost, forgotten, and abandoned things. Only two people really speak to her and they act as guides. One is an old man the other is a little girl.

The child helps her find her way back to the real world but can’t go with her because she will turn into a wandering spirit if she goes into the real world. She makes it back and sees herself at the computer, sending in her final revision. She tells her editor or publicist that she had to alter the main character because she put far to much of herself into the character and she had to change it to distance herself from it.

So does that mean the ‘her’ that made it back was a wandering spirit now? Because she was a story idea that got revised out and abandoned herself? This brings the ending of the movie back to a scary place.

But the center of the movie is less scary and very surreal. You find out that in the conversation with her former lover, she had revealed something painful and that was why they could not start over again and be together. It is probably why she had her lovers in her romance novel die in order to preserve their love. The strange world of abandoned things is a place in which she comes to terms with her own guilt and the choices she felt she had to make in her life. It reminded me of What Dreams May Come. It reminded my friend of Silent Hill, which I wanted to see but have not yet done so.

With the end shifting back into horror and two versions of the main character standing in the room together, it is a little confusing and you don’t know quite what it means. I would have preferred a less confusing end myself. But that is not at all uncommon in Chinese and Japanese horror films. Sometimes you see it in Korean Horror as well.

My friend kept saying it made it seem cyclical, like a cycle that was going to continue to repeat itself. I reminded her that the title was, after all, Re-Cycle. The clue was there the entire time.