Thursday, 29 April 2010

Witches -- Where Are You? We Need You!

If 2009 was the Year of the Zombie, and angels rule 2010, perhaps 2011 will see the resurgence of the Witch?

We here at Something Wicked certainly hope so!

Witches have long fascinated (and terrified) mankind, perhaps because they have the power to manipulate the forces of nature to effect their desires? Who wouldn't want that! I know I certainly could have used Piper from Charmed's power to blow things up (though this would have made for really bad road rage!).

As with Vampires, Werewolves, and Dragons, witches have evolved from the sinister evildoer in the story (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel), to the heroes of the story (though as a small aside, the title of this blog comes from one of the lines by the Witches in Macbeth, and I don't believe they were portrayed as good or evil, just as having powers to predict).

Last year, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe was a neat tale of witchcraft, exploring the notorious witch trials in Massachussetts back in the 1600's. The premise was simple: what if witches were real? The book followed 1991 graduate student Connie as she discovered own ancestry, and herself. I wanted to like the book more than I did; it was a bit slow in parts, but what I found interesting was Ms. Howe's use of Judeo-Christian spells, mixed with herbs and folk remedies, to effect real magic.

In film and TV, not too many witches have appeared recently.  Charmed ended in 2006 (*sniff*), The Craft and Practical Magic were back in the late 1990's. Male witches were the subject of the 2007 film, The Covenant, though that movie didn't seem to gain alot of widespread popularity despite having a hot talented cast.

Hopefully Erin Cole and her novel, Unearthing Jev (which she is preparing for submission and eventual publication) will be able to usher in the season of the witch. Until then -- thank goodness for re-runs of Charmed!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Twilight on Tuesday -- Final Official Eclipse Trailer (and a fan-made one, too!)

When I saw the first Eclipse trailer, I have to say that I was less than impressed -- too teenage-lovey-sappy for my taste. But this one, well, I'll be going just to see the fight scenes!



Here's one of the earlier ones: 



Here's a good mix of the two:



While I like Bryce Dallas Howard, I have to say that I'll miss Rachel Lefevre in the role of Victoria.

I know, the love triangle in Twilight is what draws many people in, and I loved the 'first teenage love' in the first novel, but the third time around... Anyway, this is a pretty cool fan-made Eclipse trailer by dancerblair -- I like the ribbon at the beginning:



And just to wrap it up, here's a fan-made trailer for Breaking Dawn -- wow! they (ferv88) put alot of work in to this one!

Vampire Romance

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Like you are screaming beneath my skin

I feel every sound you make.

The trickle of time goes by unfelt by you,

Yet for me it is the passage of death.

Inextricably linked, a single drop of blood

Bound me to you.

Breathe for me,

Love for me,

Kill for me.

ANON.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Under The Dome, Stephen King

PD*32142118 I think I have probably made it clear by now that I am a huge Stephen King fan.  I grew up reading his novels and whenever I thought about what my aspirations were as a writer his name was always at the forefront of my mind.  of course, I wasn’t just thinking about the millions of dollars (although that would be nice), what I really wanted to be able to do was create characters that feel as real as any actual person and combine them with original and involving plots.

Unfortunately most of Kings best novels (The Stand, It, The Talisman) were written a long time ago (and were written when he was suffering from a narcotic and alcohol addiction) and it does feel as though he is always striving to live up to those older books.  Unfortunately, more often then not, he falls short, but the books he produces are, in my opinion, still head and shoulders above most other horror writers out there.

Under The Dome is an epic novel, at over 300,000 words.  However, it certainly doesn't feel like an overly long novel as King keeps the pace going throughout the book. It takes place in the small Maine town of Chester’s Mill where, one warm October morning, a giant invisible dome falls down around the town, killing several and cutting the town off completely from the outside world.

But it is not the creators of the dome that are the thing to be feared. The town is run by ‘Selectman’, second-hand car salesman, and methamphetamine factory owner, Big Jim Rennie.  As the dome fails to be penetrated by missiles, acid, and anything else the army tries, Big Jim starts to take over the town as a dictator.  He uses riots, arson, and murder to frame the one person who could help the town ‘Colonel Barbara,’ a retired Iraq soldier who now works as a short order cook in the local restaurant.

As fear takes over, the towns population is split between those on Barbie’s side, and those on Big Jim’s.  Although there is a sci-fi aspect to the novel, this is not focused on. Instead it is simply the people and their ‘small lives’ that leads to the potential destruction of the town and everyone in it.

Under The Dome did not disappoint. It is not The Stand (the novel it has been most compared against because of its length), but it is still an action-packed novel that kept me gripped from start to finish.  The numerous characters were King’s usual ‘larger than life’ cast, and I missed them when I had finished.

My only negative was (*Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert!*) the number of people who were killed off.  While I understand the need for a few to die, towards the end of the novel I couldn’t help but start thinking ‘oh God, not another one!’  I wanted to shout at the book ‘not the children and dogs – at least leave them alone!’ I do like a happy ending and when most of the people you have come to love over the last five hundred pages end up carking it, it does feel like a bit of an anti-climax. I also would have liked to have had more of a final confrontation between Big Jim and Barbie.  It did feel as though the novel had been building up towards the big ending, yet it didn’t happen.

Despite this I still thoroughly enjoyed the book.  Not quite ‘King at his best’, but certainly getting there.

Something Wicked 8/10

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Aliens…Do you believe? And The Fourth Kind – a review.

As far as I am concerned the jury is out on the subject of aliens. It is just one of those things I can’t seem to make up my mind about. The scientific part of me says that the chance of there being another intelligent species out there some where is extremely high, but when I hear or read the reports of UFO’s being seen I am always sceptical. I guess it is more the idea that if there was another species out there who visited us then why wouldn’t they do more than just fly down over us for a few seconds before doing some aerial acrobatics and then flying away? If they are really intelligent wouldn’t they contact our own leader rather than abducting and doing strange experiments on the local hick/town drunk?

However, it is hard to ignore the facts.

There have been more than eleven million sightings of UFO’s and, as it points out in the movie, The Fourth Kind, anything else with that number of witnesses simply wouldn’t be questioned.

Here are some pieces of footage of UFO sighting. Most probably faked, but you never know?

Obviously most of these types of video footage are either faked or can be explained away, but there is still some part of me that questions the sheer volume of it. Isn’t it possible that hidden somewhere in the fake and fraudulent footage there might actually be something real?

In the movie, The Fourth Kind, they try to play on our need for reality. It is another movie where they use ‘actual archived footage’, and the movie is based around a series of real life disappearances that happened in Nome, Alaska, over a thirty year period.A27GUHLCAFPG2ZVCAGBNYTNCAMPYB0OCA9GU8RFCAHZ1NONCAJWYLIVCAA7X66BCAVAF4KICADAFGPUCAAYV0OPCA1AOYGWCAZ6NW2ACA4TKLS9CA75LZ23CACUUGPNCAUOJO2QCA7HP7KJCAS36RP3

Millia Jovovich ‘re-enacts’ footage of Nome psychiatrist Dr Abigail Tyler, who, during hypnosis sessions with her patients came to believe they were exhibiting behaviours that suggest contact with aliens. Each of her patients are suffering from sleep disturbances and all recall the same thing – seeing an owl that is not an owl and not being allowed to remember anything else. The producer uses a split screen to show us what happened, both in real life and during the re-enactment. The effect works well and there are some truly disturbing scenes. The woman who plays the ‘real’ Dr Tyler does actually look like she has been through some serious trauma in her life, and Milla Jovovich (although far more beautiful) plays her well. As the hypnosis sessions continue, steadily growing more and more bizarre, Abigail starts to believe that it is alien contact her patients are recalling. Her own ‘close encounter’ is then revealed when a tape-recorder captures an alien voice and her own frightening behaviour when she accidently falls asleep while dictating her therapy sessions. She starts to connect this alien encounter with her own husbands murder which happened a couple of years earlier. However, we later learn that her husbands murder is not all it seems. Over the course of the movie her world starts to fall apart and ends in a heart-breaking finale.1imagesowl

In reality the FBI put the Nome disappearances down to a combination of alcohol and frigid weather conditions. There have never been any indications that there was any alien involvement, though nine of the twenty bodies were never found.

The movie is scary and believable. It also left all of us talking about it long after it had finished which, for me, is always a good indicator that a movie was worth seeing.

Something Wicked 7.5/10

Monday, 19 April 2010

Men who stare at goats???? What the F***!

THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS This weekend I made the mistake of allowing my husband to choose the movie.  Now it was only fair as I do tend to take over when it comes to making choices and I am particularly bad when it comes to movies.  It’s not that I don’t like anything other than horror movies, its just that I would always rather watch a good horror than anything else, so my poor husband has to sit through them all.

Anyway, the movie he chose was The Men Who Stare at Goats.  It has a good cast with Ewan McGregor and George Clooney (both fairly easy on the eye), Jeff Bridges, and Kevin Spacey (both good actors), but this is the only positive thing I have to say about the film.

It is based on a ‘true story’ about how the American army used a combination of paranormal and psychological techniques to create a hippy ‘new earth army’ during the Iraq war. Ewan McGregor plays a journalist who gets caught up with a ‘Jedi’(George Clooney) who is on a mission to rescue the founder of the new earth army (Jeff Bridges).THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS

The movie was so bad I can’t even be bothered to go into the boring, dire plot in any more depth (plot? what plot?).  Short to say it was a couple of men running around the desert with a bit of psychic LSD thrown in.  Oh yeah, and they stare at goats to stop their hearts.  I can’t tell you what happened right at the end as it was so dull we all packed up and went to bed before it finished.

So there you have it.  If you have been thinking about renting this movie DON’T DO IT!!!!  It will be an hour and a half of your life you will never get back again.

2/10

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Movie Review -- Ginger Snaps (or American Werewolf In the Red Tent)

Finally, I've seen this movie!!! (and yes, I know it's Canadian, but Canadian Werewolf In the Red Tent just didn't have quite the same ring, you know? ;-) When I heard that it was a metaphor for a women's induction into puberty, the feminist in my really wanted to see it, and I have to say, it didn't disappoint. Not in the very least. Loved the symbolism, the commentary on relationships between women, women and men, and how society views women's roles. And there was good use of werewolf lore too. A win-win all around!

The Fitzgerald sisters, Brigitte and Ginger are outcasts in high school. They dress in dark, baggy clothes, they smoke during gym class, and they couldn't care less what the popular boys and girls think of them because they hate life and are preoccupied with death, even going so far as to make a death pact that they will die by the time they're 16 (Ginger is nearly 16 and Brigitte is nearly 15, though both are in the same grade in school as Brigitte skipped ahead a year, thus making her The Smart One, which means she's even more of an outcast).

Despite their ages, niether sister has had their first menstrual cycle yet, though it appears that Ginger may be on the cusp, as she's been having back pain and Mom (expertly played by Mimi Rogers) diagnosis this as the precurser to cramps.

So one day at school, the popular girl takes a swing at Brigitte, knocking her over and into a shredded dog carcass on the hockey field. UGH! The Beast of Badon Hills has struck again, killing and mutilating another family pet, and Brigitte now has the dead dog's blood on her face. As revenge for this act, the sisters want to make it seem as though Popular Girl's own dog has become a victim of the Beast, so they set out one night (in direct defiance of their mom's orders to stay home) to plant some fake blood and guts in Popular Girl's yard. On their way, they come across another dead dog corpse, this one is still warm. Ginger encourages Brigitte to take a leg from the corpse to make their own set-up even more real, when Brigitte notices that Ginger got some of the dead dog's blood on her -- specifically, on the inside of her leg, just above her knee.

Yepper, you know it, and so does Ginger. She examines the blood and then wails, "Oh no, I'm cursed!" and just as she does so, a huge beast swoops in and drags her out of the frame. Double, double toil and trouble -- two curses on one night, the night of a full moon, no less: Ginger's got her first period AND she's been bitten by a werewolf.

It's so interesting to see how the werewolf infection 'changes' Ginger; she was very, very close to Brigitte, and much is made of the two of them being sisters, united in sisterhood, against the world. Though after Ginger is bitten, she becomes more confident, especially where the opposite sex is concerned. Gone are the baggy clothes in favor of more form-fitting garb to show off her developing figure (which also develops a tail!), and she leaves Brigitte during gym class to go flirt and make out with the popular boy.

Whereas The Red Tent by Anita Diamante had Dennar relishing in joining her sisters in the Red Tent, united in womanhood, through the monthly cycle and the toils of childbirth, Ginger Snaps shows us another, (in my opinion, unfortunate) observation of puberty -- girls leave their girlfriends, their sisters, behind and discover boys. Especially noticeable is how Ginger treats her mother, the woman who can probably understand and offer her the most advice during this time; though puberty is the classic time when teens pull away from their parents. The parents in this movie have a very interesting dynamic: the mother does all the talking, guiding, and advising, whereas the father just sits there, inert, immobile, with no input or any kind of guidance. Ginger and Brigitte's mother is a June Cleaver type, serving dessert at dinner every night, and even making Ginger's favorite dessert when she discovers Ginger is finally menstruating. Mom means well, but she's so very disconnected and clueless when it comes to her daughters.

Another interesting commentary in the movie is Ginger's increased sexuality. She and her new boyfriend are in a car, and Ginger's newfound 'infection' is really making her sexually agressive. Her BF at one point tells her to slow down, asking, "Who's the guy here?" Because women are not supposed to be sexually agressive, and if they are, well then, that's just plain wrong. During Victorian times women were counselled that during the act of intercourse, she should just 'stare at the ceiling and think of England', well -- a sexually agressive female is quite a monster now, isn't she!

Pigeonholing women into certain roles is even remarked upon by Ginger. Towards the end of the movie, there's an accident and a teenage girl ends up dead. Ginger and Brigitte cover up the crime, with Ginger telling Brigitte how no one will suspect them, because "we're women. We can be sluts, bitches, teases, but we're not killers."

I loved this movie (as if you couldn't tell by now) because I love delving into the mythology of 'monsters' and how they become so through ideas such as sex is linked with beasts and not something intellecutal man should enjoy, the exploration of feminism and how women should bond and band together at certain, pivotal times in their lives, but too often they don't, and even point the finger at their fellow sisters, blaming them for fates which befall them.

As for the lycanthrope aspect of the film: the film presents it as an infection, thus the sisters try using various folk-remedy antibiotics such as silver and monk's hood in order to 'cure' the disease. The werewolf is scary, and there is a good bit of suspense and gore in the film.

Considering the popularity of teenagers in today's paranormal realm, I have to say that this film is the complete opposite of Twilight. It's centered on women, with no men to blame or save them; the girls receive help along the way but in the end, they are on their own. The monsters are truly frightening and not there to help repel anything that sparkles in the daytime (as a matter of fact, I have a feeling that Ginger and Brigitte are the kind of girls who would snicker at and deride teens who love sparkly vampires. Just sayin' ;-)

If you want to see a good werewolf film, one that includes lots of social commentary on women and their roles in society, then Ginger Snaps is for you. If you get squeamish talking or even thinking about that time of the month, then you may want to skip this one!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

The Uses of Silver In Werewolf Mythology

When one starts writing a paranormal novel of one's own, the hardest part (well, one of them, anyway ;-) is world-building. You have to decide what will be your creatures' strengths and weaknesses. As you're deciding whether or not your werewolves can transform only during the full moon, or if they can do so at will, anytime, one of the things that will strike you is -- why?

It's accepted as common knowledge that werewolves are killed by silver; Stephen King even named the title of his novella Silver Bullet after a weapon made of such metal.

Having done a bit of research, silver has been known for its antibiotic properties since way, way back; the ancient Greeks noticed that those in the upper classes who stored water in silver canteens didn't get dysentery, whereas the majority of the lower-class troops did. (Incidentally, if silver is ingested over a long period of time it gives the skin a bluish tinge, which is apparently where the term 'blue-blood', a name for aristocracy, is derived). Throughout the ages, silver dollars or pieces of silver would be put in milk and water containers to retard spoilage; doctors started advocating the use of silver nitrate drops in newborns eyes to retard blindness, and silver foil dressings were used until around WWII (after which antibiotics were the method of choice to fight infection).

Since lycanthropy was thought to be a sort of infection, spread when one was bitten (or sometimes scratched) by a werewolf, the use of an anti-infection agent like silver would seem to be a natural 'cure' or way to kill the beast.

Or is it? During the course of my research, I've also encountered sources that claim that silver only started being used in werewolf myths after Hollywood's 1941 Wolfman film (which draws heavily upon gypsy lore, and as gypsies only tell fortunes if their palms are crossed with silver, perhaps that's where it came from?). I know -- kind of a bummer to find that out!

Although the idea that one can only kill a werewolf by something silver (bullet, sword) seems to be very popular -- Dog Soldiers, Silver Bullet, The Howling all draw upon that idea (though American Werewolf In London's creatures were killed apparently with regular bullets). Why is this? I think it makes them scarier -- imagine if just any old gun would cut down a werewolf -- where's the fun in that? Much better and more dramatic to have to rummage through your cabinet and jewelry box for silver items that can be melted down and forged into bullets...

What do you guys think about werewolves and the silver myth? Should the metal of the moon be the only one that can kill a werewolf, or should you be able to use whatever you've got lying around?

Friday, 16 April 2010

Can you kidnap your own mother...? And other conspiracy theories.

Well it is the end of another week – and what a week!

It certainly hasn’t been the easiest for me.  At the start of the week I came down with a fever and was diagnosed with mastitis.  For any woman who has ever experienced this it is freaking painful and you feel like crap.  Certainly not what you need when you have a two week old baby to look after.  The doctor then put me on antibiotics and they made the baby sick. Wonderful.

All I can say is thank God for my mother.  Though she was due to fly back to Spain she changed her flight to look after me and rebooked her flight for this weekend.  Only now her kindness has been repaid by a huge cloud of volcanic ash grounding all aircraft in Northern Europe.

I don’t know if you guys in the US get any European news, but there has been a volcanic eruption under the ice in Iceland and the volcanic ash has now covered most of Europe.  We can’t actually see it as it is too high up, but it is very dangerous for aircraft as the silica in the ash will turn to glass in the jet engines and can bring them down!

On a non-practical side, the thought of this cloud of ash suspended above us doesn’t half get the imagination going.  Scenes from The Fog, and The Mist are running through my head, and while I am sure there is nothing any more sinister than silica in the ash, I can’t help thinking of other entities that could have been lying dormant beneath the ice. Hmmm… a possibility for a story I think.

Anyway, in the meantime my poor mother is stuck here.  While I would quite happily keep her here for good, my husband probably would have something else to say about it.  I also think my dad may never allow her on a plane again for fear that she will not come home, and everyone keeps accusing me of generating an illness and then somehow making a volcano a few thousand miles way erupt to keep her here.

Obviously that never happened, but I would still like the chance to say a huge thank you to my mum.  I think I would literally have lost my mind this week without her.

Thanks mum. XXX

Monday, 12 April 2010

Book Review -- Midnight Brunch by Marta Acosta

A few weeks ago, I was looking for a novel that was light, funny, but smart. Having read and re-read Bridget Jones countless times, I really wasn't up for another go-around, when I remembered, "That's right -- I'll pick up a Casa Dracula novel by Marta Acosta!" I'd read and loved Happy Hour At Casa Dracula, and I have to say -- Midnight Brunch -- even better than the first one!

The only negative thing I can say about this novel is that it's not available through iPhone apps; Happy Hour is, as well as Bride of casa Dracula, but not this one. This actually turned out well because I was able to read this on my vacation by the pool (not too brave to read my iPhone by water!), but I'm loving the iPhone books right now, just sayin'.

Midnight Bruch re-introduces us to Milagro de los Santos (and I'd always wondered what the "Milagro" in the title of that movie, The Milagro Beanfield War meant, and now I do!). Anyway, Milagro is living happily with Oswald in a cottage near a ranch, where the rest of Oswald's family (grandmother, cousin, and ex-fiancee) live. Oswald and his family have this, condition, regarding their blood and it makes them sensitive to sunlight, and yeah, they crave blood now and then. Human and animal.

What I love about these novels is the heroine, Milagro. She's hapless, though she's got a better sense of self than Bridget ever did -- Milagro knows she's prone to making mistakes and doesn't always try to stop herself. In this adventure, she meets Oswald's parents, who make it clear that Milagro is not good enough for their darling son. After Mil and Oswald fight, Oswald heads out of town on business, and trouble ensues...

Yes, Milagro gets herself into a pickle, though not all of it was her fault -- you can see why she trusted a certain person. In the last novel, Casa took a romantic diversion in the middle that I didn't really care for, but this one had a great, tight plot, smart, funny dialogue mixed with action, a little romance (you know it's just not my thing), and my favorite, the deeper soul-searching stuff. Milagro comes out okay, but she learns things along the way, and no man is responsible for saving her -- she does it herself.

In addition to plot, I love the tidbits of pop culture Ms. Acosta throws into the novel; the chapter title "I'm Not Sick But I'm Not Well" had me singing that song by Harvey Danger all day. And now I'm singing it again (thanks Marta!). Her prose is also sublime; I love the imagery and contrasts in these sentences:

I looked at Oswald's eyes, the color of rain clouds above, the stones in the creek, the weathered fence posts. "I like how you're color coordinated with the landscape."

Beautiful and funny and smart, all wrapped up into a nice, fun read that's great for vacation. Snap it up!

Marta's also got a FREE download right here called Shadow Girl of Birch Grove; it's a young adult novel set in a boarding school with vampires, that was turned down by an editor because vampires 'were so over'. Yeah, apparently they don't work for said publisher any more! I've not downloaded it yet, but it sounds amazing, so stop on over and check it out!

Hope you all enjoy your week and partake in Something Wicked along the way!

Friday, 9 April 2010

A review – Surrogates (2009)

I am a closet Bruce Willis fan.  I’ll happily watch Die Hard, but my favourite is Sixth Sense.  It still gets me right at the end where the boy and his mother are sitting in the car 200px-Surrogates2009MP because here has been an accident up ahead and the boy tells his mother he knows someone was killed because she is standing beside the window.. brrrr… goose-bumps…

Anyway, I digress. 

Surrogates is based on a comic book, which is never my favourite basis for a movie.  It is set in a future where people use completely life-like robots so they can live virtually through them. Most of the population sit at home in their dressing gowns, getting fat, not bothering to wash their hair, yet are out looking amazing with fabulous jobs, and having virtual sex with other gorgeous robots. Another benefit is that the owner of the ‘surrogate’ can never be harmed, as they are sitting safely at home, and if their ‘surrogate’ is harmed they can just get a new one.

Except all of this changes when the son of the man who invented the ‘surrogate’ technology is murdered through his surrogate being murder.  People are not supposed to be able to be harmed if their surrogates are, but now someone has invented the technology to do it.

Bruce Willis plays Tom Greer, an FBI agent.  Tom has a strained relationship with his wife since their son died several years earlier.  She now refuses to be seen, except through her surrogate, but Tom wants to get back to a more ‘normal’ way of living.

He is put in charge of finding the murderer and the machine that is used to kill both surrogate and owner.  His own surrogate becomes damaged and he starts to just use his real body. In the end he has the choice of continuing to live as they are or taking out the whole surrogate network (hmmm…I wonder which one he will choose?).

You could tell this movie was done by the same people who did Terminator.  Many of the graphics were very similar and the film did look good.  The premise was also interesting – after all, more and more of us are spending huge amounts of time on our computers, interacting with others through computers, some (saddo’s) even already living in virtual worlds.  So what is there to stop us taking it a step further and living completely through life-like machines?

Well, I just don’t think the huge majority of the human race would really want to live like that?  I can’t believe that essentially we are all just lazy slobs who care only about what people look like on the outside.  Even if I had a gorgeous robot out living for me, I’m sure I would still want to get up and do stuff.  At the very least I’m sure I would still shower and get dressed!

Overall, I really liked the idea of the movie, but the script didn’t feel like anything terribly original.  It was another movie they could have done so much more with…  6/10.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Ryan Air Rant – don’t let them charge us a pound to pee! Please post!

AB8JMAJCAHOI33YCAT3FYGUCA152Y3DCA3A7P96CAK43IMBCAT06J5GCA8Q8WAQCAIEDY3CCA3WIJ4ICADH7PABCA6IPIXKCAZERY7OCAL21JLCCAZW78XFCASP0FF5CAAFRS3FCA1U8DPGCACFMPB1 Now I know I am going completely off of my normal topics with this one, but I just had to say something in the hope that if only one other person does something about it than it is a win for the people.

I heard on the news yesterday that the budget airline, Ryanair, are going ahead with plans to introduce coin operated toilets on their planes.  Not only that, but they are also reducing the number of toilets down from three to only one, so they can fit more seats on the plane!

This just seems like a step too far for the money grubbing airline.  While we all like to have cheap flights it feels like they are taking away a human right to be able to have access to a toilet when one is needed.  It’s fine for some one who is young and healthy – I’m sure they can keep their legs crossed during what are normally short-haul flights – but what about those that can’t, the elderly, pregnant women, and children?

Now a mother of two I know that when my daughter says she wants a AC6161LCAS0MI5HCANBLSSNCAT51P67CAPC0FAGCAH0037MCAW98EEACA2CAITVCA2OJNXJCAPLZLS9CASSJ3NHCAF7VJ9MCA2QK8VXCAN7SF7HCAKW7DACCANW941WCA4CJAI1CA74USDSCA2QOCA0 wee there is no way I can persuade her to hold on because I either haven’t got a pound, or because the queue is half-way up the aisle because there is only one toilet on board.  If Ryanair are so desperate for money I would rather they just added a couple of extra quid to the price of the flight than go ahead with these ridiculous plans.

I for one will not be flying with Ryanair while they have got these plans in place and I hope others will join me.  Let’s not let Ryanair literally force us to spend a penny!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

True Blood Season 1 DVD Winners Announced!!!

Congrats goes to:

Tina and Stacy!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and please try again as now that I'm back from vacation and Marissa is settling into a routine with baby Jack Bauer, we hope to have a more regular blogging schedule as well as another giveaway soon!

If you're looking for a short, great vampire novella to read, check out Swan Song by Vamplit Publishing's own Jevron McCrory -- Taliesin gave it 7 out of 10 stars! Available on a variety of formats, including iPhone!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Writer feature … Tina from The Clean White Page

Happy Easter everyone! I hope you are all tucking into a huge Easter roast and then sitting around consuming disgustingly large quantities of chocolate. I am now onto my third egg and wondering how wrong it would be to start on my daughters… Hmmm…

Anyway, back to business.

I am honoured that Tina Lonergan from The Clean White Page has allowed me to feature her on my blog today. With more short stories than I could ever dream of writing, one novel written, and another on the way, Tina is truly a prolific writer. She already has a huge following over at her blog The Clean White Page so make sure you check her out!

The short story is an art form and one I haven’t really been able to master yet. It takes talent to draw someone into a story so quickly and to develop an actual storyline over only a few pages. It is a talent Tina has with bucket loads. She has been kind enough to allow me to publish one of her story’s here today – a paranormal romance called Faint Thunder. Enjoy.

Faint ThunderA988P02CA0ST77GCA5GE753CAZ8K1BKCA7GRZH0CAKCUXRHCAKVUW8ACA1270EBCAFR0RZ4CA463Y0OCA9KDJR7CAWJH6ZNCA1DB3GYCAG249XHCAJCU2FACA4T82Q9CAGIKI1CCAXJ1OLMCAW38768

I saw the murder. Saw it happen, all red and green, all thundering and crashing in the woods behind my house. My parents were out at a New Year’s party and I had lied to them, saying my friends were coming around to keep me company. They were very well meaning, my folks, but too wrapped up in each other and their business to notice that I didn’t have any friends. Plenty of kids to talk to at school, where I was considered a bit weird but funny. Funny sure, just not funny enough to hang out with once school was over.

But I lied to keep the parents happy and distant, including dressing up in new jeans and a party top, with a flimsy scarf around my neck. I had found the scarf in a second hand shop a couple of weeks before. It was a soft grey silk that shimmered under lights and was my favourite thing. So, in what passed for finery for me, I waited by my window for the fireworks to light up the sky.

The deep window seat gave me a sideways view of the forest and an angled view in the direction of town. Paramore had been playing in the background but since the music had stopped I had almost drifted to sleep among the cushions.

The faint thunder was felt more than heard. A ripple of it goose bumped my arms and I hugged myself. The room wasn’t really dark because there was a blue moon. An extra full moon in the year, falling on New Year’s Eve. Its light cast shadows from the trees, long thin forms lying across the lawn that Dad had made between the wood and the house.

I put my hands against the glass and stared into the forest. At first there was nothing, but then I saw movement between the trees. The bare winter top of one young tree shook and then sank, leaving a dark space in the night. I pulled back from the window for a second. Something had knocked it. When I looked again, I could follow the progress of something through the forest by the quaking of the trees, the more slender ones succumbing.

It was coming closer to the house and I wanted to grab the phone, but I didn’t know who to call and I was too scared to get down off the window. An old fear about something grabbing my ankles in the dark.

And then it was too late. They bundled out of the forest, rolling together in a huge knot. The struggle went on for only a few seconds longer, but it seemed like forever. When it was over, the victor stood and reached to the sky in triumph, though his voice was silent. I cowered in the corner, but he never looked my way. He just stalked away into the enveloping woods.

When he was gone, I got down from the window, taking an extra big step to take me away from the darkness lurking around the bottom of the window seat and under my bed. I ran downstairs and shoved my feet into my boots, dragging my coat on as I struggled with the locks on the door.

I raced around the back, my boots slipping in the muddy grass. I skidded as I tried to stop and fell onto the lawn close to where he lay.

His body was thick and his face gnarled and he was the oldest man I had ever seen. He was also the first dead person I had ever seen. As I stared at him, a loud crack sounded and the night sky flared, making me scream. It was the first of the fireworks. In the silence that followed it, I felt a deep thump from inside the woods. I started to get up but slipped again. I heard the crashing as something ran towards me. I scrambled to my feet and made for the house, but I was knocked sideways through the air and crumpled onto the grass.

I looked up and saw him. The one who had murdered the old man. Young, handsome, very tall. He bent over me and the fireworks cracked again. Enough light caught his face to show me his vivid golden eyes and the ferocious life in them. He grabbed me and lifted me in his arms. He smelled like the forest. I struggled and he held me tight enough for me to lose my breath.

I woke up on the front doorstep, freezing. I staggered inside and slammed the door, my fingers almost too cold to manage the locks. I ran to my room and jumped onto the bed, grabbing the phone. But I must have blacked out again because I woke with it in my hand and with my mother shaking me, wanting to know why I was wearing my filthy boots on the bed.

I got up and looked out the window. The moon had gone, but there was enough grey pre-dawn light to show the lawn. I could see the marks where I had skidded. Where the old man’s body had lain, there was a fallen tree. A holly tree, all twisted with age. I could see how it looked like an old man.

I apologised to my mother for the boots and asked about the party, managing to make my voice steady. She smelled of perfume and wine. She told me about a couple of people I didn’t know and then took herself off to bed. I waited until the house took on the air of sleeping silence and then snuck back downstairs.

I went to the old man, his knotted limbs the branches of a tree. Just a vivid dream then. I went around his felled majesty and walked to the edge of the wood. In the inner darkness, I could make out a path of destruction. I followed it.

It took me deep into the wood, where dawn hadn’t reached. The long limbed trees grabbed at me as I went, the thin twigs like fingers. The broken path led me to a grove. At the heart of it, there was a great hole where a tree had been uprooted, but no fallen tree. Next to the cavity was a young oak tree, tall, bare of leaves, but trembling with life in the small breeze.

I went up close to it and looked up into its branches. My scarf was caught up there, wrapped around a thick limb the way a champion might tie a lady’s favour around his arm. It was New Year's Day and the first time I met him, the Oak King.

Live thy Life,
Young and old,
Like yon oak,
Bright in spring,
Living gold;
Summer-rich
Then; and then
Autumn-changed
Soberer-hued
Gold again.
All his leaves
Fall'n at length,
Look, he stands,
Trunk and bough
Naked strength.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Guest Blogger -- Taliesin from Taliesin Meets the Vampires

Today, Taliesin (aka Andrew M. Boylan) is here to talk about a very wicked topic -- women who write vampire stories! Specifically, Andy will be discussing Elizabeth Grey. Who was she? Find out below...



Interesting Shorts: The Skeleton Count, or, the Vampire Mistress


I was rather honoured when approached to provide a guest blog for Something Wicked and I suggested that a piece I was researching for my blog was an ideal vehicle. Over at my blog I like to occasionally look at interesting short stories, perhaps because they have certain films based on them or just for historical interest.

The Skeleton Count, or, the Vampire Mistress (for reference this is printed in The Vampire Omnibus, edited by Peter Haining, my edition being the 1995 edition) is interesting for a number of reasons, but from a Something Wicked point of view I felt that it really fit. This was first published, in the Penny Dreadful called the Casket, in 1828. As such the story by Elizabeth Grey is the first published vampire story by a female author. In many respects, therefore, this makes Grey the literary grandmother of Marissa and Nicole.

There are frustratingly few details about Grey, however the Penny Dreadful was a favourite form of literature for the masses and painted often lurid stories. It was from the Penny Dreadfuls that we gained the long tale of Varney the Vampire.

The story surrounds the Count Rudolph of Ravensburg Castle, who did a deal with the Prince of Darkness for immortality. He is not, however, our vampire. The price for his youth and immortality – we discover later – is that between dusk and dawn he becomes a skeleton. However, as an experimenter in the occult he looks to resuscitate the dead, and he uses occult and alchemical techniques to raise Bertha (a peasant’s deceased sixteen year old daughter) from the dead.

What he doesn’t know is that the technique he used causes her to come back to life as a vampire and, as the two become lovers, she sneaks out of the bed chamber to quench her unholy thirst. Interestingly, though fangs are not mentioned, she does have “sharp teeth” that, when she visits a maiden, “punctured the white shoulder, and the partially exposed bosom of Theresa Delmar.” This is not, however, an erotic attack and she is not a precursor to the Sapphic Carmilla. Vampires are known, in this story, for attacking children and young women – probably as they made for easier prey.

At one point she is shot and ‘killed’ but, like Ruthven in the Vampyre and Varney she is restored by the moon and we see “another phase in the fearful existence of the vampire bride! For as the beams of the moon fell on the inanimate form of the being of mystery and fear, sensation seemed to slowly return, as when the magic spells of the Count of Ravensburg resuscitated her from the grave.”

She does not fear sunlight, sitting out with the Count and sleeps in a bedchamber – when not sneaking off for blood, a task made easier when the Count begins his skeletal transformation. However, we discover she can be killed. “Nothing but fire or a sharp stake will kill a vampire” we discover and the stake is to be thrust, not through the heart but through the abdomen.

So, there we have it, Elizabeth Grey, the first female author of a vampire story, that we know of at least, and her story that had some very familiar vampire imagery within its length – as well as the, at that time, contemporary use of the vampire’s tie with the moon (interestingly, when the villagers are speaking of their dilemma we hear that “nothing was talked of but vampires and wehr-wolves, and other human transformations more terrific”, reminding us of the close connection between the vampire and werewolf myths).


Andrew M. Boylan

[Ms. Grey's short story can be found in the novel whose image appears at the beginning of this post]