Sep 22, 2021 - Blog, Spooky Stuff    No Comments

October… the Spooky Month

Just in time for Halloween – a list of ghost movies so you can scare yourself, family and friends every night of October. 

three handheld Halloween DVD'sThe IMBD link - a slick list; each film has a synopsis so you know what you’re getting into – so comforting, don’t you think? Beware though, IMBD goes on and on and on and… you may end up reading more than movie watching.

The Wikipedia - this list of ghost movies is just a straight list – cut to the chase, let’s get on with it! Just so you know… each one is linked to its own Wikipedia page, so you might get caught up in the spoilers.

Totalfilm gets into the act with nice images to entice you to come a little closer, plus all kinds of distracting extras on the site. Worth a look.

Hey, what are you going as for your Trick or Treating? I see lots of Lady Gaga outfits this year, and here I thought she was fun and creative… not scary! But wait, there was that meat outfit…

Me, I’m thinking of being a wine taster for Halloween. It’ll be a cheap costume – all I need is a wine glass, and I can go from house to house asking for something to fill it. Whataya think?

Oh, and I uh, almost forgot…

 BOO!

 

Originally posted 2013-10-01 12:01:40. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Sep 21, 2021 - Blog, Spooky Stuff    No Comments

Too Much Dr. Jekyll

When things go wrong, I resort to art.

I know this about myself, so there’s no need to report me to the Strict People – it’s nothing new. Like many other ‘Artistics’ we are taught by parents and teachers to be like the mainstream, take a deep breath and conform, but that just doesn’t work for me. Artists can only take so much before they need to be creative.

“Or what?” you ask.

1931 movie poster of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

That’s a complicated question, possibly without an answer.  But let’s analyze it; the left side of the human brain can do the math, but for all its accuracy a staircase is a series of equidistant, linearly connected, perpendicular lines on a two dimensional plane. Right-brainer’s live in the world of sweeping spiral staircases festooned with rococo carvings dug deeply into old oak banisters. Me? I am a right-brainer and have been known to burst out into song and sketches, or simply choke on the verbatim list of details in front of an audience awaiting facts. I really do try to maintain an even strain, to be as expected, but I leak art. What would happen if I simply embraced it? You know, the age old go-with-the-flow?

Oh no, no, no; that would just be silly.

But seriously, artists are accused of being the frivolous among us – the goofballs and cuckoo-heads. Yet every medium we absorb is art: our first books, toys, clothing, eating utensils and food are all made of artistic fancifulness, like those bright orange, smiling crunchy fish that would disintegrate if put into water. In middle school we discover computer games, smartphones, blockbuster movies and F a s h i o n! We become more aware in high-school and beyond – billboards, car designs, home decor, architecture, more movies and TV, TV, TV. Everywhere you look there is art, or at least the result of it. So why do I feel ashamed for my artistic pursuits?

The little devil on my shoulder wants to know how come I think things are going badly. After all I’ve been learning code, good, wholesome left-brainer computer code. Stinker; he knows damn well I’m stumped with a programming problem. Ah! A linear-minded pursuit. No wonder! I was too close to the unhappiness to see it. I’ve been following the straight line too long.

“Now what?” you ask.

Now, draw, glue, cut, paint. Design, carve, melt, solder. Take a break, pet the cat and watch Dr. House videos – watch as he get ah-ha’s. It might be contagious. If that lil devil whispers “If you go back to the left-brain project, I’ll help you solve your puzzle”, then maybe we’ve been Dr. Jekyll too long and it’s Hyde’s turn. Artists: do art!

OK… I’ve got an art journal and coloured pencils in my lap, Dr. House is on pause, the cat’s within reach – I’m goin’ in. Don’t wait up.

That’s what.

 

 

Originally posted 2012-09-09 01:13:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Sep 20, 2021 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

The Osiris Ritual

A Thick, Twisting , Multi-layered Suspense

by George Mann

For those readers with delicate stomachs, be warned. Several murder scenes are particularly gruesome. Aside from that, fans of detective adventure with a touch of supernatural, will be thrilled.

George Mann’s view of the past is a mixture of both historically correct technology, like the first automobiles, and cybernetic things that go bump in the night, rightfully scaring the crap out of us. His characters have similarities to other beloved stories from Sherlock Holmes to the Etherman of Hell Boy. Like most Steampunk tales, this one takes place in London at the end of the 1800s, and yet it is as fresh and original as any new science that must be gotten to on the shoulders of sciences that went before. I couldn’t put it down.

Best of all, the ending is ripe for a sequel!

Originally posted 2012-12-31 21:23:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Sep 19, 2021 - Blog, Spooky Stuff    No Comments

Niki is Writing…

October is a threshold month, a stepping-out-of-summer-into-the-dying-season month. Dios de los muertos, the Day of the Dead is in October; All Hallow’s Eve, Halloween is in October. Days get shorter, nights longer… more hours to be afraid of being alone in October.

So I’ve decided to finish things I started this year. I’m beginning with left-overs from the fridge – either I eat it, or the garbage can eats it. Next, I’m going to install the faucet I got on sale that has been sitting in the bathroom for a month, dismembered and disconnected. Then I’m going to finish my list of things I want to finish before October is over.

But if you think about it, October is all about supernatural things lurking in the dark. It’s not often you hear about a ghost or spirit bugging people during the day. October things come out at night. Makes me want to leave all the lights on all day, every day of October so I won’t be in the dark. Somehow, by the time November comes around, the night isn’t such a big thing. Why is that, you think? Probably the moonlight reflecting off the evening snow so it’s not pitch black outside. Hey wait, this is Los Angeles! Oh yeah, we can see at night because of all those celebrities names in lights.

Thinking, like I do, about the membrane between life and… other states of being, I wonder if darkness really does play an important role. We close our eyes – darkness; we fall asleep – darkness; we leave Earth – darkness. It’s natural to believe that death is ALL about darkness. However, if that were true, near death experiences (NDE’s) wouldn’t include the light at the end of the tunnel, would they? Or have these almost dying people gone to the Pearly Gates and seen inside? Hmmm… kinda supernatural.

Some scientists believe that the brain, sensing it’s immanent demise, releases a “flood of euphoria-causing endorphins”. I don’t buy that. Living beings are programmed to rail against the Reaper. Even my poor parakeet fought his end with a disturbing display of Death-Throws. Where were those the euphoria endorphins then?!

A Dutch study published in a 2010 Clinical Care Journal suggested that religious, young, female victims of near death were more likely to see shining lights than those who feared death. That would indicate that death lights are psychological and more in the realm of the brain than in the Hereafter.

Or since we are primarily seeing beings, if we can’t see it we either don’t believe it or, we are afraid of it. The suspense is just too great.

Then I am reminded of those science shows that explain how light is both a particle and a wave, and how it acts remarkably indeed, when it “thinks” it’s being observed ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfPeprQ7oGc ). That’s weird enough to trump the After Life!

So if we are built to not want to die, and we’re afraid of the dark, do we instinctively think the dark is deadly dangerous? Is it? If it’s not, then why are so many of us afraid of it? Things that go bump in the night do that because we can’t see them and we’re up and moving around in the dark. Simple.

Enough of this musing… it’s time to get back to my movie. Can you please turn out the lights when you go?

Thanks.

Originally posted 2013-10-12 22:28:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Sep 19, 2021 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

Cabinet of Curiosities

A Historical to Modern-Day Detective Horror

by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Okaaaay… I picked this book up immediately after reading “Osiris Ritual” and was mystified why they were so much alike. The technique the killer uses is so similar it made me wonder if this criminal actually existed. The books are nothing alike, otherwise.

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have created a 640 page detective chase for a man who appears to have succeeded in living far beyond his years – but at such a cost, you may want to put the book down. Horrific scenes prompted me to reach for the channel changer more than once. If only these writer’s didn’t depict things so clearly!

I was happy to see the many characters were easy to keep apart, and to relate to them even if I didn’t like their personalities (villains come in all degrees, shapes and sizes). One of the main characters is a detective who has a series written by the two author’s, though I didn’t know about him until after reading this book. I will probably read more of their work, though after I’ve had time to forget the crime scenes. *shudder*

Originally posted 2013-02-24 21:56:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Sep 18, 2021 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

The Crowded Grave

Death in the French Countryside

by Martin Walker

Martin Walker does not disappoint his followers with this, the fourth book about Bruno, the small-town Chief of Police who cooks (extravagant dishes), is open to new experiences (learns to ride a horse), is a quick thinker on his feet (always saving someone), and great in bed (but we already knew that:)

A recently dead body is found in an archaeological dig in the midst of a Green Party vs traditionalists fois gras protest. The Crowded Grave embraces spy’s, secrets and Sauternes, just the way I like it.

Originally posted 2012-12-10 00:36:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Sep 18, 2021 - Blog    No Comments

What Makes Something Scary?

frightened boy looks through his hands over his faceEvery child knows what it is to be afraid, but when we are small, we don’t have many experiences and the lack of knowing what to expect can illicit great fear. As we grow up we realize that some things that used to scare us, are no longer troubling, like thunder and lightning. You have lived through it before – that’s just the way things are; no evil intent. Then we grow older, become wiser, more experienced. Now, things scare us because we DO know what comes next, and we don’t like it.

For me and friends I communicate with, 2020 was frightening. January 2021 was terrifying. We were holding our breath to see what February 2021 would bring – hoping for the best, getting prepared for the worst – stocking freezers, digging holes in the back yard…

2 kids screamingI, for one, am not afraid until I can see ‘it’ coming, whatever ‘it’ is. Lately, I have noticed others freaking out because they suspect something is coming, that frightens them. They don’t need to see it to get scared. “What if ?!!” That’s the worst, because you already know what you’re afraid of, so those are the things you will obsess over. It’s pretty hard to get away from yourself… maybe we should just run!

I will admit that no amount of experience could have prepared me for this past year. In a way, it was like being a child again – not knowing what to expect. Every single day, with the lies – that was scary for me because I COULD see “it” coming – I COULD see where we were going. The only way I knew to prepare was to hold my breath and hope it took too long for obvious events to unfold, giving Superman time to swoop in and save the day… (I’m still waiting for Superman.) While I wait, I wonder if I SHOULD be afraid. Then I answer myself “What good would that do? It is a waste of time.” But then I think, if I could go through all the possible things that could go wrong, I could prepare for all of them. When I hear that kind of brain talk, I have a sit-down with self. Self says: “While you prepare for things that may not happen (and there are more things that won’t happen, than things that will), you are not living a fulfilling life. You are not finishing projects, starting new ones, doing all the daily chore stuff that keeps the dirt from the door, and you’re scaring others.”

Oh. Right.

Self added that the only things to properly fear are death (of which we know nothing), and getting too damaged or sick to participate in life, which brings me back to the concept of carrying on in the face of very strange stuff, knowing that if it is really dangerous, fear will will find a way, then I can be scared with everyone else.

 

Originally posted 2021-01-18 04:38:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Sep 17, 2021 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

The Dark Vineyard

Intrigue in Wine Country

by Martin Walker

I love Bruno. Bruno is the Chief of Police in St. Denis, France. Why do I love him? He’s a sweetie-pie, a great chef, he loves wine, always gets him ‘man’, and is apparently, pretty good in bed. Every novel needs a plot, and Martin Walker always serves up a huge bad guy, but frankly I love the series because of the characters… and the insider information about vineyards, French food, and history – all of which are my favourites : ) Anyone who loves France, or just a good ol’ detective novel will enjoy these books.

In this, the second in the series, we get an insight into the problems of the “little people” (in this case French wine makers of the Dordogne region) being swallowed up by big business. If it’s not done with finesse, it hurts everybody, and murder only complicates things.

Originally posted 2012-10-19 01:13:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Sep 16, 2021 - Blog, Wine    No Comments

Really Expensive Wine

I just read a blog by Brian Clegg about

Brian Clegg a  book titled “The Billionaire’s Vinegar”. Yes, it’s about wine – very old and ancient wine.

Though not having read it, yet (it’s new on my TBR list, so it’s fairly far down), I am intrigued by the blog’s information regarding the possible fakery of such expensive sale items. Some of these bottles have apparently gone for as much as $100,000!! It would make sense that some brave entrepreneur would try to fake a few.

Billionaires Vinegar But what do you do with a $100,000 bottle of wine?

You drink it, silly! Lordy, introduce me to the guys who spend their money like that!

Now you and I both know that if wine is left out overnight, it tastes like vinegar. If the cork is tainted by TCA, the wine can be ruined, or ‘corked’.

Here’s my question to all you fabulously wealthy wine connoisseurs: How do you know the wine in that aged container is still wine and not vinegar? How do you know it’s not rebottled table wine? How do you know it will be worth the expense?

The only answer I can possibly accept is, “I’m a speculator.”glass of wine

Ahhh, the romance of a gambler who prefers a  candlelight tasting to a Vegas poker table – give me that any day. These are individuals in no need of a wash-board stomach or a tan. All they need to get my attention is to invite me for a glass!

Tense, excited, sitting in anticipating as the sommelier opens the bottle… one wonders – what will they pair with this enigma?

Originally posted 2012-02-26 16:44:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jul 26, 2021 - Blog    No Comments

Mysterious Beings

I lived in a haunted house when I was a kid, growing up in England. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking… “All kids think their house is haunted.”

But I was not alone – my entire family had the same odd experiences I had, and we all had dreams about the place that were weirdly similar. Even our dog was skitterish inside. One morning I smelled bacon and heard pots and pans being used in the kitchen, things frying, sounds of setting table… all accompanied by a happy conversation of many people. But as I turned the corner to investigate, it all ceased. The stove was cold, everything was in its place. The smell of bacon vanished – instantly.

But I never saw any ghosts, never saw anything move by itself, never found evidence that anything was there to make those sounds or smells. I also never felt any fear. Maybe they were friendly ghosts, like Caspar; or maybe I’m just not the scaring kind. Bwahaha! I’m totally a scare-dy cat.

Still, I’m fascinated by mysterious beings, strange happenings, weird and lovely sights and sounds… but not terrifying, harmful things. You can have the horror and I’ll take the ‘strange but true’.

When my family moved to the States I had an English teacher that was interested in odd things like fire walking in Ceylon, and he taught me to write about what intrigued me, rather than what I thought other people expected me to write.

So I’m interested: have you ever seen a ghost? Had a dream that come true? Felt like someone was watching you, but no one was there? Or does your phone ring and it’s the person you were just thinking about?

This is the world of the Supernatural; a reality where odd happenings cannot be disproved, even when logic dictates, “if you can’t see it, it must not be there”… but what if that’s not true? Can these spirits, ghosts or disembodied souls be trying to tell us something? Can they hurt us? Are they aware of us? Could they be from a different dimension? I don’t have all the answers but sometimes it sure seems like their plans involve us.

If you are so inclined, tell me what you think about the Supernatural, and look for my upcoming book, “A Spirited Wine”.

Niki Chanel

 

Originally posted 2020-11-26 21:28:38. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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