Good day my little free passes to Disneyworld which only get you onto three of the rides but it’s better than going on none. I’ve had an eventful week which included falling down a flight of stairs whilst sober (sadly true) and breaking one or more of my toes.
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:
The strangest book in the world and I’ve never heard of it? Well, yes, there’s probably quite a lot I haven’t heard of. Never mind, here’s a link to an article on a very odd book in an unknown language with intriguingly bizarre pictures.
1. Anti Twitter by Harold Jaffe.This book features real news stories shrunk down to their essence and the whole thing took me a little over an hour to read. I felt the saddest one was about Billie Holliday, ending with: Nobody knew who she was.
It was a little like reading the odd news pages online only more worrying. Large amounts were about football hooligans but I promise you, not all British people are like that – unless you count the time I drank a whole bottle of Appletiser, the memories of that night haunt us all.
3. Suspended Heart by Heather Fowler. I’ve also read People With Holes by this lady and I think she’s becoming one of my favourites. Although her short stories are classed as Magic Realism it’s easy to recognise thoughts and situations we’ve all been through. Her imagery is beautiful and makes me want to roll around nude amongst the flowers, however I feel that would quickly devolve matters and the original point would be lost during calls for an ambulance and the cries of children.
4. The Postmortal by Drew Magary. A story told in stages of the collapse of mankind after a cure for ageing has been discovered. John Farrell starts as an ordinary man whose life quickly goes down the tubes along with the structure of society after taking the cure. Although it’s mainly a thriller, there are some very amusing images such as a stoner who decides to end it all by being blown from a canon. I found it as entertaining as a shrew in a tutu, which is pretty entertaining despite what the RSPCA might tell you. It’s not my fault they have no sense of humour.
So there we have it! Fare thee well, and may your summer be nice and warm, although not too warm as it can be unpleasant. A bit warm. Byee!
Today’s book pictures (me posing and pretending to read) are brought to you by The Glass House Tea Shop in Braintree, Essex. They gave my friend and I a small slice of free cake, which was wonderful by the way.
Phew it’s all happening in this one! Let’s begin.
1. Cannibals of Candyland by Carlton Mellick III. A good, fun read which doesn’t take too long as it’s quite short. A race of cannibals exists in a magic land under the city. The main character searches them out in revenge for leading his siblings away years ago with a hypnotic sweet scent, but things don’t go according to plan.
2. The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer. I’ve mentioned this book once before but I love it so much I’m mentioning it again. It has almost everyone you can think of: Neil Gaiman, Haruki Murakami, the short story of Don’t Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier, George R.R. Martin (wrote some books about thrones and games, I dunno), Franz Kafka, Clive Barker, Robert Aickman, Leonora Carrington (Max Ernst’s extra marital partner and a surreal painter and writer) and Saki, to name a few. Everyone should read more Saki, he was a genius. Basically, buy this book now or I’ll creep into your room at night and sniff your ear.
3. Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens edited by ? I could be incorrect but I believe there were ten of these short story issues gathered before they stopped. Perhaps they’ve moved to a new home (though they’ve left no explanation) or perhaps they vanished into a puff of kittens, either way have a look at the archive editions for a dose of true insanity.
Here’s what wikipedia says: Apocalypse Culture is a collection of articles, interviews, and documents that explore the various marginal aspects of culture. It explores aesthetic nihilism, destructive cults, extreme violence, sexual deviancy, conspiracy theory, extreme forms of nationalism, and other subjects. First published in 1987, it was reprinted in 1990 and 2001. In 2000 the sequel Apocalypse Culture II was released. The book has been widely campaigned against and has been banned in many countries.
What’s not to like?! Get buying!
Very well, thus concludes another session of Bizarre Book Club. May you not run weeping into the night. Or perhaps may you, depending on preferences. I’m not here to judge. Toodle pip!
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.’