Good day weary popcorn snacks, I’m so close to completing a third novella/connected short story collection/thing I can almost see it in my hand.
Recently I made a post on my favourite crime/creepy info YouTube channels but was unaware of the hidden gem of Obsolete Oddity. Serial killers, creepy twins, old ladies locked in rooms for decades… if you have a spare ten minutes visit his channel and give one of his videos a watch, there’s plenty more where these came from.
The Strange Case of Emilie Sagée & her Ghostly Twin
The French Socialite Locked in her Attic for 25 Years – Blanche Monnier
The Pickled Human Flesh Seller – Karl Denke
The Booby Trapped Hoarders Mansion – The Collyer Brothers Documentary
True Unsolved Crime – The Locked Room Mystery – 1929
Good day! Funny seeing you here, I don’t remember giving you a key. No, you just make yourselves at home. Just try not to spill your drink on the sofa. I’m not calling the police, I’m…doing arm exercises…
When I’m not merrily hob-nobbing at sophisticated cocktail parties or reading the works of the finest minds (it’s true. How can you doubt me?) like most others I watch YouTube channels. My favourites are those that tell me things my little brain was otherwise unaware of and, of course, weird things. These are the best channels in my opinion that combine the two.
You’ll notice I tend to enjoy the skeptics over those who believe in the paranormal. I’d never knock those who believe, my mum is a spiritualist, but I personally enjoy looking into other theories behind spooky goings on. With that in mind, let’s plunge in!
I don’t know his real name, but Scare Theater creates such informative videos on such obscure subjects that he had to go first. I like his analytical mind, he tends to look for the most logical answers and he goes the extra mile in research. I can imagine him with a spooky detective series in which he’s paired up with a gullible, always getting into trouble partner.
I don’t always agree with Rob politically (his webs series Why Would You Put That On The Internet focuses on things that annoy him rather than information), but I’ve been a long time fan of Seriously Strange, Anatomy of a Murder and Twisted Tens. Whether it’s serial killers, weird online stories or peculiar events, his videos are professional, interesting and well researched.
As well as looking at bizarre youtubers, videos and channels she also takes a look at grizzly websites and disturbing challenges (never showing anything horrible, mind) and analyses possible hoaxes. The information is very in depth and she favours a calm, reasonable approach.
Cayleigh is a little more believing than the others (and occasionally perkier) but I find her videos very interesting, particularly the crime ones. A lot of care goes into them and she often manages to tell me things I didn’t know, even about well worn cases most have heard of. Plus her banner art and decor is really pretty.
If you need a break from all that crime and darkness, why not relax with a nice cake…of eyeballs! OK, that didn’t really work, but this channel is a lot of fun and I can’t wait to try (get Bill to try) some of these recipes.
Quick Tips From the Crypt: “Red Velvet” Rice Krispy Treats
Pip pip, what what and other meaningless phrases. Here are a few full length episodes of ‘documentaries’ from my distant memories. It seems to me that the 90s developed an obsession with the odd in all it’s forms, from Fortean Times to sun, moon and star decorations (which of course I had as wallpaper). Perhaps my memory is biased because I lapped it up like a crazy cat, but here are my favourites IN FULL!
Sacred Weeds. There were four episodes in this series: Blue Lily, Henbane, Salvia Divinorum and Fly Agaric Mushroom. They were fascinating for a couple of reasons; firstly for the study on natural drugs, secondly for the stubbornness of the scientists who very rarely if at all change their minds and thirdly for the sheer oddness of suited men and women questioning people tripping their tootsies off. Here’s the Henbane episode, thought to have been taken by witches:
For an added treat here’s Salvia Divinorum
BBC Weird Night. Back in 1994 the BBC had a ‘weird night’ which became legendary in my mind, partly because there’s almost no information on it and the programmes were never shown again. It will always have a special place in my mind as a defining moment of weirdness setting me on a particular path with my fiction. I personally don’t believe in the paranormal anymore, but it’s still a fun watch if only to bask in 90s tastic weirdness. Also of note, follow the link above to see which films, including David Lynch, were shown after the programmes.
Fortean Review of the Year (1994)
The next was WSH, The Myth of the Urban Myth. Urban myths are fascinatingly grotesque, and this show weaves drama with genuine experts discussing them from all angles:
Weird Thoughts. Continuing Weird Night, here’s a gathering of ‘experts’ in the bowels of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum discussing the meaning of weird. I love this because the London museum was the destination of mine and Bill’s second date:
This is slightly cheating as this programme was first broadcast in 2002, but the image of a kitty cat drug orgy was burned onto my retinas. Here’s Weird Nature, Peculiar Potions:
A mini documentary by me on a piece of local history. Yup, the Witchfinder General happened in my town and the surrounding areas. Amongst the usual stories of accusations and hangings are scary and strange tales told by frightened people of the time, including Betty Potter whose body ‘disappeared.’
I like to feast my brain and eyes with things that are rather unusual, as you may have guessed. Since winter began – my official hibernation and reading time – I’ve had the joy of finding some right good ‘uns which I shall share with you now. Ooh, and on a lovely snowy night too (unless you’re…somewhere it’s not snowing). I can almost hear the ghosts outside wailing about unpaid bills and the ten pence Johnny still owes.
1. Wisconsin Death Trip. This collection of news stories and unnervingly beautiful photography made it’s first appearance in the 70s. At the turn of the century (the Victorian one, not the other one) small towns in snowy Wisconsin were a tough place to live, inducing some pretty bizarre activity from the locals. Flick through the articles of the time and be drawn into a very spooky – but true – world.
Incidentally the events of the time are used as the backdrop for another book I enjoyed, twisty historic thriller A Reliable Wife.
“Once upon a time Jack set out to find his fortune in the big city. But the big city is Toy City, formerly known as Toy Town, and it has grown considerably since the good old days and isn’t all that jolly any more. And there is a serial killer loose on the streets.
The old, rich nursery rhyme characters are being slaughtered one by one and the Toy City police are getting nowhere in their investigations. Meanwhile, Private Eye Bill Winkie has gone missing, leaving behind his sidekick Eddie Bear to take care of things. Eddie may be a battered teddy with an identity crisis, but someone’s got to stop the killer.
When he teams up with Jack, the two are ready for the challenge. Not to mention the heavy drinking, bad behaviour, car chases, gratuitous sex and violence, toy fetishism and all-round grossness along the way.”
3. The Best Bizarro of the Decade. I couldn’t really have a list of weird books without it. Everyone has preferences on their choice of out-there reading material and some of these short stories will not be your cup of tea (trust me I even hated a couple. I’m not saying which). However there are others which I found brilliant and very funny. If you can keep an open mind you will be rewarded. Maybe.
4. Better Haunted Homes and Gardens. This picture book is very sweet and pretty and future goth children will love it. If you can find a reasonably priced copy I recommend it, I know it brought out the kid who still loves Halloween in me.
5. Red Velvet and Absinthe. What can I say, I love (very) risque paranormal stories. These gothic tales are some of the best I’ve found and most have a different (and rude) way of looking at classic spookiness.
6. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Mary Roach is a funny lady. This book is an entertaining read about the different and unexpected ways a human body is used (crash research, nose jobs etc) and I was particularly fascinated when it came to learning about the minutiae of rotting.
However I must admit to skipping a few chapters in the middle – I just didn’t find the bits about planes crashes etc as entertaining. Weird as that sounds. But…the majority is well written and very humorous. Enjoy!
Well, there we have it. So many words, so little time, and so little human brains to ingest while doing it. Oh, no, I found another box. Farewell till next time!
It’s that time again (almost). When a headless coachman appears out of the mist to take you to the cursed castle, and charges you double time on Saturdays (“But you went the long way round those crumbling gravestones”).
The good thing about being a creative type is that you can do anything and claim it as research: “What do you mean you spent the day watching the Twilight Zone?” “Shut up it’s research.”
So here are a few small reasons winter is best for anyone who likes to dally in the darkened spaces of art or literature or…something else.
1. Halloween. Yes, yes, it’s all commercialised and it’s for children etc, but who cares? Just for one year try not to be a Halloween McScrooge and celebrate the Day of the Dead with everyone else. Dress up, even if its as ‘your best friend who wears the exact same clothes as you.’ I began my first proper short story at school on the day of Halloween and ever since then its had a special place in my disturbed heart. I guarantee you’ll find some kind of inspiration, even if its a story about murdering trick or treaters.
2. Staying indoors. Let’s face it, writing or doing anything work related during summer is difficult and unpleasant. Maybe I’m alone here but I like knowing that the world outside is furiously cold while I sit indoors drinking tea and working/watching The Twilight Zone. Which brings me onto my next point.
3. Spooky films get spookier. It’s a cliche certainly, but there’s really nothing like watching a spine-chiller while the wind and rain howls against your window. Sometimes for extra cosiness I like to pretend there are zombies stumbling around my driveway too. That way I can feel smug that they can’t get me. Or can they?
4. Your surroundings are inspiration. Whilst its obvious you need to be wary of writing/painting/whatever in cliches, its hard not to think of great ideas when wandering through a mist clouded field. Just remember, focusing on the idea rather than lengthy descriptions of nature might be best. Unless your main character is a lecturer of some kind. Even then, maybe not a good idea…
5. More time to think. Summer is filled with Gestapo-like orders to have fun, but time seems to slow down in winter. People tend to vegetate and grow moss which is perfect for ruminating on thoughts, or simply trying to occupy yourself. You can either spend your winter obsessing on why Cathy brought all the men cups of tea and not you or Sally, or you can send your brain to another place and make up somewhere better. Or much worse, depending on what you like to do to your main characters.
So this was my little thought bubble on winter. I wanted to include the wearing of fluffy socks and colourful coats but it didn’t seem relevant, so I’ll just mention them here. Happy winter!
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