Sunday, October 30, 2016

Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages

For your Halloween viewing pleasure, I highly recommend watching Benjamin Christensen's classic 1922 film entitled Häxan:  Witchcraft Through the Ages.  The version you will find below is Antony Balch's 1968 re-edit, which benefits from narration provided by William S. Burroughs (author of Junky, Naked Lunch, Nova Express, Cities of the Red Night, The Place of Dead Roads, The Western Lands, and numerous other groundbreaking novels):  

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Attack of the Phantom Clowns

Back on September 5th I appeared on Adam Sayne's Conspiranormal podcast and commented on the recent phantom clown sightings just as the phenomenon began to gain traction.  Near the end of August, the phantom clowns were only being reported in Greenville, South Carolina.  By the first week of September, however, the sightings had spread to Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Columbus, Ohio.  Since then, phantom clowns have been seen all over the United States.  Indeed, they have now invaded my home base of Long Beach, California--specifically, 10th Street and Cherry Avenue in Cambodia Town.  

Here are some relevant excerpts from Stephanie Rivera's 10-13-16 Long Beach Post article entitled "Clown Craze Hits Cambodia Town, Social Media Posts Indicate":
"The wave of creepy clown sightings across the country has now stumbled upon Long Beach. This week, a number of individuals took to social media to share a photo of a clown spotted in Cambodia Town.

"Police have not received any reports of crimes involving clowns, according to Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) spokeswoman Nancy Pratt. Still, Pratt urged the public to call 9-1-1 if they witness suspicious activity. 

"Since some clowns have announced their intention on social media to head west, there have been reports of sightings in Southern California.

"Recently, Glendora police arrested a 19-year-old man for allegedly making threats against his former high school on social media accounts dedicated to clowns. Last Wednesday, Lancaster authorities warned people to be aware of three recent incidents in which a group of males wearing clown masks and possibly carrying kitchen knives approached pedestrians in the area.

"Some locals have even gone so far as to create a Facebook page dedicated to patrolling the clowns."

It's important to point out that phantom clown sightings are by no means new.  The first person to popularize this strange phenomenon was cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, whose excellent Fortean study Mysterious America (Faber & Faber, 1983) included an entire chapter devoted to the ancient mystery of phantom clowns.  Chapter 21, simply entitled "Phantom Clowns," is worth the price of the book alone.

Loren Coleman has recently written about the precise origins of his own personal phantom clown investigation on his Twilight Language blog, particularly in his 9-9-16 post entitled "Phantom Clowns:  Classified."  He also addresses the historical origins of the phenomenon in his 9-11-16 post entitled "Phantom Clowns:  Pied Piper of Hamelin."  If you're at all interested in this most recent rash of phantom clown activity, I urge you to read both posts in-depth.  

I myself explored the "Creepy Clown" archetype ten years ago in my supernatural short story "Feast of Clowns," published in W.H. Horner's anthology Modern Magic:  Tales of Fantasy and Horror (Fantasist Enterprises, 2006).  My version links the phenomenon with ancient rites of esoteric magic, generational ritual abuse, the resurrection of the dead, and the enduring mystery of the tulpas.    

Immediately below you will see the wonderfully evocative David Seidman illustrations that accompanied my tale in Horner's anthology:

If you're interested in reading my unique take on the "Creepy Clown" phenomenon, copies of Modern Magic are still available from Amazon right HERE.

As an added Halloween bonus, here's a rare photograph taken of me during my own brief but storied career as a phantom clown (I had to quit soon after being hired, as the health care benefits were negligible):

Saturday, October 22, 2016

More Gangstalking in San Diego

While most mainstream journalists appear to be content to waste precious column space on speculations about who Donald Trump may or may not have groped back in the 1980s, blatantly unconstitutional intrusions into our privacy are occurring on a regular basis all across the United States.  What follows is a recent (9-29-16) ABC 10 news report about yet another case of gangstalking in San Diego, the very same location of Dion Fuller's harassment at the hands of NCIS agents and their civilian accomplices (as described in great detail in my most recent book, Chameleo):  

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Nation: Tim Shorrock's "5 Corporations Now Dominate Our Privatized Intelligence Industry"

What follows is an excerpt from Tim Shorrock's 9-8-16 The Nation article entitled "5 Corporations Now Dominate Our Privatized Intelligence Industry":

"The recent integration of two military contractors into a $10 billion behemoth is the latest in a wave of mergers and acquisitions that have transformed America’s privatized, high-tech intelligence system into what looks like an old-fashioned monopoly.

"In August, Leidos Holdings, a major contractor for the Pentagon and the National Security Agency, completed a long-planned merger with the Information Systems & Global Solutions division of Lockheed Martin, the global military giant. The 8,000 operatives employed by the new company do everything from analyzing signals for the NSA to tracking down suspected enemy fighters for US Special Forces in the Middle East and Africa. 

"The sheer size of the new entity makes Leidos one of the most powerful companies in the intelligence-contracting industry, which is worth about $50 billion today. According to a comprehensive study I’ve just completed on public and private employment in intelligence, Leidos is now the largest of five corporations that together employ nearly 80 percent of the private-sector employees contracted to work for US spy and surveillance agencies. 

"Yes, that’s 80 percent. For the first time since spy agencies began outsourcing their core analytic and operational work in the late 1990s, the bulk of the contracted work goes to a handful of companies: Leidos, Booz Allen Hamilton, CSRA, SAIC, and CACI International. This concentration of 'pure plays'—a Wall Street term for companies that makes one product for a single marketmarks a fundamental shift in an industry that was once a highly diverse mix of large military contractors, small and medium technology companies, and tiny 'Beltway Bandits' surrounding Washington, D.C.

"As I argue below, these developments are incredibly risky for a country more dependent than ever on intelligence to fight global wars and prevent domestic attacks. 'The problem with just five companies providing the lion’s share of contractors is that the client, the U.S. government, won’t have much alternative when a company screws up,' says David Isenberg, the author of Shadow Force: Private Security Contractors in Iraq.
"Moreover, the fact that much of this privatized work is top secret—and is generally underreported in the press—undermines the accountability and transparency of our spy agencies. That should deeply concern the American public."

To read Shorrock's entire article, click HERE.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Perfect Book for Halloween: Ed Wood and the Lost Lugosi Screenplays

For years, eccentric cinephiles have obsessed over the minutiae of the strange and wonderful careers of writer/director Ed Wood, subject of the award-winning Tim Burton biopic, Ed Wood (1994), and actor Bela Lugosi, star of such classic horror films as Dracula (1931), Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932), White Zombie (1932), and The Black Cat (1934).  In the 1950s, Wood and Lugosi teamed up to  make a series of low-budget films that have become the gold standard of what is now referred to as "psychotronic cinema," movies so bizarre they often make the viewers question if these cinematic epics weren't produced by a particularly bad fever dream as opposed to a professional Hollywood film crew.  These Wood/Lugosi collaborations include:

• Glen or Glenda (1953), an avant-garde docudrama about the trials and travails of an all-American cross-dresser named Glen (and/or Glenda), clearly based on the personal life of Wood himself;

• Bride of the Monster (1955), a horror/science fiction hybrid about a mad scientist named Dr. Eric Vornoff (Lugosi) who intends to "take over the vurld" with his "race of atomic powered supermen"; 

• and Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), the sine qua non of psychotronic cinema that revolves around a covert plot hatched by a group of alien invaders intent on dominating Earth through the reanimation of dead humans.  Thanks to footage filmed not long before Lugosi's untimely death from a heart attack, the actor appears in the finished film as one of the revived, murderous, alien-controlled ghouls.

Wood/Lugosi fans have often read about several projects the pair attempted to get off the ground without success.  The scripts for these unrealized films have now been conveniently collected in a single volume entitled Ed Wood and the Lost Lugosi Screenplays edited by Gary D. Rhodes with illuminating contributions by such film historians as Tom Weaver (co-author of Universal Horrors, Poverty Row Horrors!, The Creature Chronicles, and many other excellent books) and Robert Cremer (author of the 1976 biography, Lugosi:  The Man Behind the Cape).  The first forty-five pages of Ed Wood and the Lost Lugosi Screenplays are filled with Gary Rhodes' captivating insights into the dramatic ups and downs experienced by Wood and Lugosi as they attempted to bring to fruition their infernal Hollywood dreams.  

The particular dreams contained within this volume include two complete screenplays, The Ghoul Goes West and The Vampire's Tomb, as well as a treatment for a feature film called The Final Curtain.  Rumor has it that Lugosi was clutching the treatment for The Final Curtain in his hands when he passed away in the bedroom of his modest Los Angeles apartment at 5620 Harold Way only a couple of months before what would have been his 74th birthday.  Whether that deliciously ironic detail is true or not, it certainly makes a good legend.  And over the past sixty years, that's exactly what Wood and Lugosi have become, genuine Hollywood legends, something neither man would have predicted during their desperate final days.  Though they both suffered from incurable problems involving alcohol, women and financial debt at the time of their respective deaths (Lugosi in August of 1956 and Wood in December of 1978), I'm certain they would have been pleased that their contributions to the cinema of the fantastique is now appreciated by devoted cinephiles all around the world.  

The unprecedented opportunity to take a peek at the "what if" alternate universe in which these aborted Wood/Lugosi projects were actually filmed is a most welcome one indeed.  Of the three projects on display in Ed Wood and the Lost Lugosi Screenplays, I would have loved to have seen The Ghoul Goes West reach the silver screen before Lugosi's demise.  According to Rhodes, Wood almost nabbed Western icon Gene Autry as the hero of this film.  The notion of seeing a 49-year-old gunslinging Autry co-starring with a 73-year-old Lugosi in a horror/western mash-up is almost too tantalizing for words. 

Though we can't experience such a film in real life, we can at least experience it in our own minds when reading Ed Wood and the Lost Lugosi Screenplays, the perfect tome to read while immersed in this autumnal season overbrimming with spectres, witches, demons and zombies (none of which, one hopes, are being remotely controlled by violent aliens hellbent on world domination).

"And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future!"
--The Amazing Criswell, Plan 9 from Outer Space

Monday, October 10, 2016

Counterpunch: Bill Blunden's "Facing Down the Panopticon"

What follow are two brief excerpts from Bill Blunden's 8-12-16 Counterpunch article entitled "Facing Down the Panopticon":

"An army of networked kiosks is invading New York City. Hundreds of them. They’re large vertical slabs, practically ten feet tall and chock full of sensors. Reminiscent of the mysterious black monoliths from Stanley Kubrick’s movie 2001. These kiosks are replacing the city’s aging public telephone booths and after this initial wave of monoliths hits Gotham there will be thousands more installed throughout the city. John Young, the architect who runs the web site Cryptome, has called this forest of kiosks 'the largest urban spying system in the United States' [...].

"Officials from the FBI indicate that monitoring someone around the clock requires a group up to roughly forty agents working in multiple shifts. All told the FBI employs something in the ballpark of 35,000 people. Even if the bureau devoted all 35,000 of these people to surveillance (which they don’t), they’d be limited to monitoring less than a thousand targets. And keep in mind that there are up to 10,000 terror investigations active at any point in time. Hopefully this provides some context."

The preceding paragraph contains an illuminating statistic, one that sheds light on why the Powers That Be deem it necessary to farm out unconstitutional surveillance assignments to gangstalking organizations such the LEIU and SAIC.  (For more information about the LEIU, see my 1-18-16 blog post entitled "A World of Stalking Fools:  Strange Tales of Homeland Security and the Future of Mass Surveillance (Part Two:  Total Deniability)."  For more about SAIC, see my book Chameleo:  A Strange but True Story of Invisible Spies, Heroin Addiction, and Homeland Security (OR Books, 2015). 

To read Bill Blunden's entire article, click HERE.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Quote of the Day (or) Scream and Scream Again

From Gordon Hessler's Scream and Scream Again (AIP, 1970):

Dr. Sorel (Christopher Matthews):  So you created life.  It's the old mad scientist's dream.  Let's play God.

Dr. Browning (Vincent Prince):  My dear young man, you know as well as I do that God is dying all over the world.  Man invented Him, but doesn't need Him anymore.  Man is God now.  As a matter of fact, he always was.

Dr. Sorel:  So where will this end?

Dr. Browning:  Overpopulation.  Pollution.  Famine.  Nuclear holocaust.  War.  This civilization is driving us into the sea of extinction.  The keynote is control.

Dr. Sorel:  But that's the province of politicians, not scientists.

Dr. Browning:  Yes, but we're the only ones who are trying to combat the problem now.  In twenty years time we will be in positions of power, and then we'll be ready to act for the good of humanity.

Dr. Sorel:  We?

Dr. Browning:  You didn't think I was in it alone, did you?  Did you think I could do it all on my own?

Dr. Sorel:  There are more of you doing this work?

Dr. Browning:  Not many.  But more, yes.  We're like a slowly growing organism--in its infancy now, but gradually it will mature.

Dr. Sorel:  A super race?

Dr. Browning:  Well, yes.  But not an evil super race.  Still, in the future there won't be any room for imperfection.

Dr. Sorel:  Who chooses?

Dr. Browning:  In medicine, as you know it, your organ transplants are forcing a choice.  I mean, who should have another heart?  The mental deficient or the great philosopher?  Hm?  Or an artist, or some great statesman?  Now, don't tell me that you would choose the deficient.  No, you see, your society is taking the first baby steps that we took years ago.

Dr. Sorel:  You seem to forget, doctor, you have to murder them.

Dr. Browning:  Well, my dear young man, we are for the future....

Monday, October 3, 2016

Gloria Naylor, R.I.P. (1950-2016)

Gloria Naylor, author of many critically acclaimed novels such The Women of Brewster Place (1982) and Mama Day (1988), passed away on September 28th at the age of 66.  It's important to point out that her final book, 1996, is a semi-autobiographical novel about her harrowing experiences being gangstalked by agents of the United States government.  Since no mainstream publisher in New York would dare to touch the manuscript, 1996 was eventually released in 2005 by an independent publisher, Third World PressNaylor's obituary in today's edition of the New York Times makes absolutely no mention of 1996, despite the fact that it's undoubtedly her most significant novel from both a historical and literary perspective.  If you wish to read an interview with Naylor in which she discusses the genesis of 1996 and the circumstances of her harassment, then click HERE.