Sunday, May 30, 2010

"The Balloon" - Short Film

If you search for the kind of terms and tags I like best on YouTube, you are bound to come upon things like this devilishly eerie little animated short film. In "The Balloon," a little girl encounters a jester in the tradition of every creepy clown or Harlequin figure you have ever seen, and faces a choice.

YouTube User: ninique

And a special thanks to Season of Shadows for first bringing this to my attention.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On this day... 1897, the novel "Dracula" by Bram Stoker went on sale in London.

I've read the novel in its entirety several times, and I try to crack it back open every few years or so. Never does it fail to wrap me up in its dark, intelligent and complex atmosphere, with Stoker's endlessly debatable timelessness. No matter how many times Hollywood attempts to take on the story, there is nothing that comes close to the greatness of the novel.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, over one hundred years later, you can read Stoker's masterpiece here on Google Books/Good Reads or download the eBook.

And for something not entirely unrelated, this beacon of hope for the children who are, of course, our future, was brought to my attention today.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Halloween" Deleted Scenes (Parody)

And now, the Sunday funnies.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Twain's "The Mysterious Stranger" 80's claymation style

While one may not often think of the eerie and macabre when thinking of American literary giant Mark Twain, the man's body of work is certainly not without some reflection on the darker sides of life.

I stumbled upon this selection from "The Adventures of Mark Twain," a 1985 claymation film. No, these are not the singing raisins, but the film was directed by Will Vinton, who is better known for his "The California Raisins." I have not seen the film, but have found that, while initially opening with a small theatrical release, it was released on DVD only recently. Wikipedia tells me the child characters in this clip are Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher.

"The Mysterious Stranger" is the last known novel attempted by Mark Twain. There are known to be two versions of the story attempted by Twain. The first, normally called "The Chronicle of Young Satan" follows the nephew of the Biblical Satan during the Middle Ages. The second, much shorter, attempt is titled "Schoolhouse Hill" and concerns Twain's characters of Finn, Sawyer and Thatcher and their encounters with Satan.

This unnerving, thought-provoking claymation clip features what appears to be the latter version, with Twain himself and his child characters encountering the author's Satan.

YouTube User: insertcoolname

Friday, May 14, 2010

To dust you shall return...

Be this too morbid a start to the weekend, but something has, while always disturbing me, engaged my curiosity about the art of the Capuchin Crypt on the Via Veneto in Rome, Italy. For those who may not know, the crypt lies beneath the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini.

Commissioned in 1626 by Pope Urban VII, the crypt began when the pope's brother, who was of the Capuchin order, ordered the remains of thousands of Capuchin friars exhumed from a nearby friary for use in the crypt. The friars continued to bury their dead among the others in the crypt.

I've never visited the crypt myself, but the morbid expression is an art all unto its own. The crypt houses the bones of some 4,000 friars and a few poor Roman peasants, who died between 1528 and 1870. Of the six rooms in the crypt, only one, the Mass Chapel, does not contain bones intricately displayed. Among the most striking, unsettling bone displays (something about real human bones prevents me from calling the displays, for lack of a better term, "pieces") are a skeleton as reaper with a scythe in his hand, and the three skeletal figures dressed in friars' robes. When the Marquis de Sade visited the crypt in 1775, he wrote "I have never seen anything more striking."

Having grown up in the Catholic Church, while this morbidity is certainly not the norm I do understand from where it comes. When I first saw these images, I immediately was taken back to the Ash Wednesday service, when a priest makes the sign of a cross on a Catholic's forehead with the ashes of palm branches, while saying the words "Remember, you are dust, and to dust you will return." I always wondered why that statement is made during the service, reiterating the corporeal aspects of our being, and making no mention of that which would, in theory, be that of us which would not return to dust. Or have originated as such.

The crypt is open to visitors from 9-noon and 3-6pm each day, but Thursday. A donation is required, and no photography is permitted. However, that did not stop this YouTube user from capturing a few moments on film within the crypt.

YouTube User: mlowerync

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

For the middle of the work week....

"An Interview with a Vampire... and a Psycho and a Devil."

YouTube User: RBitting