Friday, April 29, 2016

Alfred Hitchcock Day

I'm honoring Alfred Hitchcock today. He died at the (almost) age of 81 on April 29, 1980. I'm certain I don't have to explain who he was, but if you're 12 or have been living on a deserted island you can click his name to find out everything you want to know.

I think my favorite movie of the ones I've seen (there are so many) is Rope which was released in 1948. It's based on a 1929 play and besides being suspenseful (and starring Jimmy Stewart) it takes place in real time and was edited to look like it was filmed in one continuous shot. It's the story of a "perfect murder" for intellectual sake. The movie didn't go over so well with the public. There are homosexual undertones and many thought it was just outright cruel. I love it for the suspense. It gets me every time.

Watch a Hitchcock film this evening with the lights off. Or, maybe you'd like to purchase a memento.

Hitchcock "Pyscho" Lamp Shade by Spooky Shades
Alfred Hitchcock Ornament by BoomBashCrafts
Alfred Hitchcock Cookie Cutter by imagineAcookie
Alfred Hitchcock Brooch by SplashJewel
Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late Night from LittleRiverVintage
Where would we be without his cinematic genius?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Book of Poison

I have to share another Kickstarter project with you today. I have a collection of books that are themed around Halloween, death, and anything morbidly amusing. I think Liber Veneficii: The Book of Poisons by Second Thought Games needs to be in my collection.

The book is designed for role-playing games, but it will be so beautifully made and researched that I think any one with an interest in fantasy would find it desirous.  The book is a mixture of fact and fiction so use it with caution.

Liber Veneficii also includes twelve fantasy poisonous concoctions and a section on poison delivery. What more could a girl want? The final product will be bound in black leather with silver embossings. The illustrations look lovely. I think this would look great sitting open on a book stand.

As part of the rewards, you can choose to have your name (or a character's name) put in the book as a researcher or council member. That is pretty cool. 

Second Thought Games has previously produced a similar book of potions and oils called Liber Elixirium that was a successful project. Check out the video for more information. As of this writing there are 6 days to go and the project is already fully funded.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Drinking & Divination

Oh my gosh. Two of my favorite things joined together in one perfect product. Tarot of Cocktails by Katy Seibel is a project on Kickstarter right now and as of this writing we only have 58 hours to buy, buy, BUY!

Ok, so Ms. Seibel says that the cards are more about drinking than divination, but I think you can use them as you like. Dealers choice.  Each set contains 30 cards with original drawings (not necessarily aligned to the traditional major or minor arcana) on one side and original cocktail recipes on the other. How divine!

The cards are already designed and just need to be printed. The project has already far exceed its goal and looking into my crystal ball I predict the risk of a failed project is pretty low here.

Out of the way! Me first.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Burial Shrouds by Kinkaraco

This is an odd topic this morning, but bear with me.

Burial shrouds are not typical at an American funeral. We tend to look for the deceased's favorite or best outfit and give that to the funeral home for them to be dressed in.  I think I like the idea of a burial shroud better. A burial shroud gives a sense of closure and ritual that is important in the grieving process. It signals a transformation and next stage.

The history of the deceased wearing their clothing is really quite recent in all of history. I'm not sure how it all got started. I think it had something to do with the mass production of clothing making it less valuable to save.

Over a year ago, I did a post on textile artist Pia Interlandia and the burial shrouds that she is creating. They're quite beautiful and you can read the post by clicking Pia's highlighted name.

Shrouds are by tradition made of natural fibers, usually cotton, and quite simple, but many companies in the green-funeral business are beginning to offer other options.  Kinkaraco has a line of shrouds that are quite pretty. They carry the traditional shroud as well as some more interesting ones.

The Varanasi Silk Cremation Shroud
Botanic Deathspa Herbal Lined Shroud
The Versailles Embroidered Silk Shroud
The Peacock Shroud
Ravenwing Pitch Black Shrouds
I think we should all consider choosing our own shroud or other burial attire and purchasing it well before (hopefully) it is needed. If you're old enough to remember, women used to have hope chests where they kept things in expectation of their marriage. I propose that we have death chests where we keep information about how we would like to be buried, things we want buried with us, perhaps our self-written obituary, and items that we want people to remember us by. You could even pick out your own urn. Stop making that face, I'm not joking! It would really save your family and friends from making decisions that are difficult.

One more item that Kinkaraco carries that I think is nice is the Heart Pocket that can go in the casket and holds items like prayers, jewelry, or photos that are to be interred with the deceased.

The Heart Pocket
Death shouldn't be a taboo topic. Let's take the fear out of it and find beauty in a natural and un-preventable part of who we are.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Spitfire Interiors

If you're like me you're running low on spending money because it's the end of the month, but that just means we can start planning our purchases for next week. Ha!

Have you visited Spitfire Interiors? They're physically located in Whittier, CA, but we can shop at their online location. They specialize in "horror, rock n' roll home and fashion accessories."

Here are some of my favorites.

We Are the Creepy T-shirt
Genuine Muertos Parts T-shirt
Lily Bat Necklace
Cobweb Sunglasses
Vampire Incense Burner
Glow-in-the-dark Monster Throw Pillow
Sugar Skull Vanity
Bat Coffee Table
Glamour Ghoul Make-up Tool Box

There are so many fun things in this shop. Start making your shopping list for next week. Cha-ching!

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Loved One

I just finished reading The Loved One: An Anglo-American Tragedy by Evelyn Waugh and I think it might be a new favorite. The book was originally published in 1948 and was the result of a trip to Hollywood by English writer Waugh and his wife to discuss the possibility of Waugh's novel "Brideshead Revisited" being turned into a movie. Waugh admits he had no intention of letting the novel become a movie, but thought they could get a nice trip out of the deal to discuss it.

While in Hollywood, Waugh discovered the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills. Forest Lawn is a cemetery founded in 1906 and I think is best described by this paraphrased quote from Jessica Mitford found on Wikipedia (the original source is missing) "Forest Lawn's kitsch was just a sophisticated strategy for lubricating the checkbooks of the grieved."

To say that Waugh was not impressed with Hollywood, Americans or even the English people who lived in Hollywood would be an understatement. As I mentioned, the result of his visit was the satiric, short-novel on the funeral industry.

"The Loved One" is a dark comedy about an English poet, mortuary cosmetician, and an embalmer at a fictional cemetery called Whispering Glades. Waugh's humor is dark and biting.  The women who arrange funerals at Whispering Glades are called a "Mortuary Hostess."  The deceased are called "Loved Ones" and the bereaved are called the "Waiting Ones".

During an overview of the interment possibilities one of the Mortuary Hostesses relates "We have single sites as low as fifty dollars. That is in Pilgrims' Rest, a zone we are developing behind the crematory fuel dump."

In describing the expert care Whispering Glades gives in making the Loved Ones presentable the Mortuary Hostess exclaims "Why if he sat on an atom bomb, they'd make him presentable."

I rarely laugh out loud when I'm reading, but I did with this book. I should also mention that I read the entire book sitting on the porch one afternoon. My copy had 128 little pages. I should also mention that this was my third attempt at starting to read the novel. I would get a few pages in and quit. I had to focus and get in the rhythm of Waugh's writing before I started to really enjoy it. I'm glad I did. I want to re-read it already.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hello, Nessie

This is surely a week of anniversaries. Today we're honoring the Loch Ness Monster because on April 21, 1934 what is known as the Surgeon's Photo was taken of the monster's head and neck. It has become the iconic photo of Nessie, as the monster is affectionately known. I don't even have to post the photo. I'll bet you already have the image in your head.

While Nessie is referred to as a monster, this has to be the most loved monster ever. Does she strike fear in anyone? The monster is so popular that her pop culture status needed it's own page on Wikipedia. Do you remember that in the beginning of the 2004 film Napoleon Dynamite Napoleon is giving a speech about the Loch Ness Monster?

Let's celebrate the Loch Ness Monster by shopping. That always seems like a good way to celebrate to me.

10' Inflatable Nessie at JShop
Ototo Nessie Ladle at Amazon
Sockness Monster at Amazon
Loch Ness Monster Shower Curtain at FuzzyInk

Loch Ness Monster
Bigfoot Riding Nessie at Shirtmandude
Loch Ness Monster Family Costume at MissNessaMonster
Lock Ness T-shirt at OneTwoThreeT

Admit it. You kind of want Nessie costumes for the whole family.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

StokerCon 2016 - Double Down in Sin City

It's another Morbid Anniversary! Today we honor Bram Stoker (8 November 1847 - 20 April 1912) the ringmaster of vampires. I call him the ringmaster because Stoker didn't create vampires but he did make them popular. During his life Stoker was known more as the personal assistant of a well-known actor and the manager of the Lyceum Theater in London. He was obviously good at promotion.  I wonder what Stoker would think if saw the vampire culture that has grown from Dracula?

Stoker wrote many novels, short stories, and poems after Dracula. Did you know that you can read most of them for free? There is a Bram web site that has downloadable versions of Stoker's works.  You can also purchase hard cover copies of many of his novels there.

But the big news is that the Horror Writers Association is hosting the first ever StokerCon in Las Vegas this May. This event looks amazing. For four days you'll be able to participate in workshops (Horror University) by some great horror writers. If you've ever thought that writing horror fiction could be for you, then you need to take a look at the workshops being offered on the programming schedule.

If you're not so much into writing, then the Lucky Th1rt3en Horror Short Film Competition may be just the thing you're looking for.  Horror films that are 13 minutes and under will be screened and the winner will be announced on Friday the 13th.

I almost forgot to mention the biggest, biggest thing of all. On Saturday, May 14th, the Bram Stoker Awards will be announced. I've been wanting to read and see so many of this year's nominees. FYI - the Bram Stoker Awards have been given out since 1987. Winners receive the best trophy I have ever seen. It's a haunted house designed by Steven Kirk.

If you're looking for a reading list you might want to start with the past winners. The Horror Writers Association also offers a Bram Stoker Reading List of works their members have enjoyed. These aren't necessarily winners or even nominees of the award.

Whew. That's a lot of stuff to look at today. Do it for Bram Stoker.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Daphne du Maurier

I'm sure you've heard her name, Daphne du Maurier, even if you can't quickly put your finger on why you know her name. That's a shame for all of us, including me. I admit I had to look her up. Born on May 13, 1907, du Maurier died on April 19, 1989. This gives us the perfect reason to show her a little attention today.

I asked my husband if he knew who Daphne du Maurier was and he said. "Yah, give me a minute. Oh! I had to read Rebecca and watch the movie in 10th grade. I hated it."  Ha! Ok, so maybe my 10th grade husband wasn't the intended audience.

We, connoisseurs of the dark, however, should know Daphne du Maurier as a romantic, gothic novelist. Her works were moody and very often spooky. She is best known for her novel Rebecca which became a movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock- his first in the United States by the way. Her short story The Birds also became a Hitchcock movie. She wrote well over 30 books of fiction and non fiction.

Sometimes referred to as behind-the-times by critics, du Maurier specialized in the psychological thriller. Of course, what is old-fashioned becomes new again. There is never anything outright gory or terrifying in her novels and short stories. It's the slow and steady hum of danger and madness that sets us on edge.

One collection of short stories, Echoes from the Macabre has caught my attention. I think I'll start my du Maurier exploration there. Last summer Shirley Jackson was my focus. I think this might be the summer of Daphne du Maurier. She'll provide an English chill to my non air-conditioned house.

Spend some time reading about du Maurier today. Wikipedia is always a good place to start as long as you don't take it too seriously. The next time there is a thunderstorm plan to watch Rebecca.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Tattoos for the Timid

I'm one of those people who love tattoos on other people but have none myself. I'm not afraid it will hurt, I just can't decide what kind of tattoo I'd like to wear for the rest of my life. Granted "the rest of my life" is getting shorter by the minute, so you'd think the decision wouldn't be that overwhelming.

I do know one thing, if - when I get a tattoo it will be in a place where I can see it. A tattoo on my back or behind my ear will only cause me to throw my back out twisting around to look at it in a mirror.  

In the mean time, I think I may try out some tattoos on my legs with these very cool stockings from Tattoo Socks. There are many companies selling these at the moment, but Tattoo Socks has some very devilish designs that I like.

Fish Bone
Lost in Space
Day of the Dead Garters
7 Deadly Sins
There are many more offerings in their shop. The stockings come in a variety of colors and sizes. Take a look.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Edward Gorey & The Tiger Lillies

King of the Macabre, Edward Gorey (1925 - 2000), died sixteen years ago today. I wasn't sure how best to mark this day on Shivers. So much has been written about him that I find it a challenge to mention anything you haven't read or seen a thousand times before.

So, at the risk of repetition, I think you should take a look at two things today. The first is Gorey's obituary in the New York Times. Really, you know you've made it when you get a long obituary in the Times.

Gorey's reputation for being macabre really doesn't go far enough in my opinion. He was actually the King of Macabre Humor.  Gorey never shocked without a smirk. That's what made him so popular. He made you feel part of an inside joke- something you giggled about at the back of the funeral parlor.

It's not wonder that before he died Gorey became enamored of the band The Tiger Lillies who are a British band formed in 1989 in the Dark Cabaret genre -if there is such a thing. Their macabre and humorous lyrics push the boundaries a bit further than Gorey, but you can understand the attraction.

Gorey sent a box of poems and lyrics to The Tiger Lillies so that they could put music to them. The result is a 13 song CD called The Gorey End. Sadly, Gorey passed away before he could hear the finished product that was a collaboration between The Tiger Lillies and the Kronos Quartet. The CD received a Grammy Nomination in 2003 for best Classical Crossover Album.

Your second task today (see, I didn't forget) is to listen to The Gorey End (posted on YouTube) and smile. I really like the song "Gin", but that should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me.

By the way, the Edward Gorey House Museum opens for the season today. Make a visit if you can. You can read last year's post about Gorey right here.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Boroughs of the Dead

On April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic hit "the" iceberg. I think you know the rest of that story. In my search to find some tales of ghosts from the Titanic I came across an interesting tour group located in New York City called Boroughs of the Dead. The group jumped to the front of my Google search because they are offering a Ghosts of the Titanic tour this Thursday through Saturday. It's a seasonal tour that takes place every April. The Titanic tour centers around where survivors were brought ashore and will share "macabre, sorrowful tales of the watery deep as we remember the Titanic's tragic and glorious story, and how it is uniquely connected to New York City."

source: Boroughs of the Dead
Can't make it this weekend? Well, Boroughs of the Dead has spooky tours around New York nearly every weekend. From Manhattan to Queens there are a variety of tours choose from.

Here is what I like about this tour company. First they're licensed- always a good thing. Second, they take their tours seriously. The guides aren't wearing costumes or playing a character. They're more like a fun professor. Thirdly, the group size stays between 10 and 20 people. If you've even been on a tour larger than that, you know how hard it is to hear what's going on. And finally, and most importantly, this tour company only offers "dark, macabre, fantastic, frightening, and unusual tours" of New York. I'm sold!

If you're looking for plans for Mother's Day there is a tour offered that day called The Magic and Mysticism of Central Park that sounds really interesting. I'm also interested in a tour called Weird Tales of the West Village. You just know that's going to be crazy.

You may not live anywhere near New York City, but be honest, you've been wanting to visit. I think Boroughs of the Dead just gave you another reason.

Ok, so you're really not going to make it anytime soon? You're in luck. The founder of the tour company is Andrea Janes who wrote a fictional book of ghost stories called Boroughs of the Dead: New York City Ghost Stories which you can purchase from their website. Ta Da! Everyone goes home a winner.

You can also follow what tours are coming up on their Facebook page.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Highway to Pizza?

Some mornings I wake up and I have nothing. 

Nothing to talk about on Shivers that is. I have a mini panic attack and scramble around and usually come up with something. Today is one of those days, but I'm not exactly sure what I've come up with. I'll let you decide.

The band Gerardo and the Undead have a message for us. The first video plays the song forward and the second one plays it backwards.

Gerardo and the Undead

Reversed Version

Ha! What the heck is Hell Pizza???? And why can't I get it in the United States?! It looks awesome. One more reason to move to Canada.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Yuri's Night: Lost in Space

On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to venture into space. So what better way to celebrate this achievement than by participating in Yuri's Night- a host of space-themed parties around the globe. The official Yuri's Night website list parties and lectures you can attend on their events page.  While there are a few events taking place within a few hours of my house I think I'll probably celebrate by watching the 1960's television show Lost in Space.

Lost in Space was a science-fiction series that ran three seasons from 1965 to 1968. Originally based on a comic book, the show went from drama to comedy fairly quickly. This very campy show featured the Robinson Family on a mission to start a new colony on Alpha Centauri because by 1997 the earth had become to crowded. The real stars of the show quickly became Dr. Zachary Smith, who wasn't even in the first episode, and the Robot. Dr. Smith was a cantankerous stowaway trying to ruin the mission and The Robot, while never named, was capable of human emotions and even played the guitar. Misadventures and aliens creatures are the plot movers.

Lost in Space was a product of our excitement and fear about traveling in space. If you haven't watched an episode in awhile or if you've never seen one you owe it to yourself to mix a Lost in Space Martini and pull up YouTube or Hulu and watch at least one episode.

Lost in Space Martini
2 oz Citrus Vodka
1 oz Triple Sec
1 oz Tang Orange Juice

Rim a glass with powdered Tang. Shake ingredients in a ice-filled shaker and strain into a martini glass.

After you watch an episode (pick any one- you won't be as lost as they are), you might want to venture over to Etsy or Ebay to find an original Robot toy from the show. You're going to need a few stiff drinks to purchase one though. They're not cheap.

1966 Remco Lost in Space Robot

Monday, April 11, 2016

Klopp Studio Klowns

If it's not a post about jewelry, it's probably going to be a post about art dolls. I hope you like both of those things. Today I'm highlighting Klopp Studio's primitive spooky dolls. Artist Debra Klopp Kersey loves Halloween as much as we do and spends her free time making creepy dolls. I think a few of these in the guest bedroom will shorten any unwanted visits. I love the way these dolls look like they were just pulled out of an old attic trunk. Do you think they're haunted?

Freak Show Cute
Creepy Clown
Creepy Stump Doll
Primitive Witch
Creepy Ornament 
Klopp also makes original Tarot decks that are rather fiendish. Use at your own risk.

Clown Tarot Deck
Raven Tarot Deck
Now is the perfect time to be shopping for additions to your Halloween collection. After seeing original artist pieces you'll never be able to shop at the big box stores again for your Halloween items and you'll be too busy during October to get everything you need.