Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Creature Feature Short Take: Krasue

But I'm a good head! Yeah, right.

Because what's better than decapitated love? Say hello to Yuthlert Sippapak's GHOST OF VALENTINE (KRASUE VALENTINE) featuring the classic story of boy meet girl ghost, boy falls in love with girl ghost, girl ghost wants to eat the living, etc.

The Krasue has a similarity with a ghost from Malaysia called the Penanggalan or the Puntianak. This type of ghost has been depicted before in films such as Hong Kong's 'Witch with the Flying Head' (1977) and Indonesia's 'Mystics In Bali' (1981)."

Interestingly, according to some accounts in China, there was a group known as the Falling-Head People or Luotou Min in the South, whose heads could fly. Once, a General Zhu Huan acquired a concubine whose head would fly away every night when she was asleep. That caused quite a scandal, so they promptly determined ways to dispatch her. And all she wanted to do was terrorize the living...

Other readers of OTOSOTE will remember a Hellboy issue that dealt with the Penanggalan:

Actually, this is the German version, so Die actually means 'The' and not 'Die'

So the next time you go running around, just remember:

Floating heads attached to their internal organs and nothing else are a poor choice for company. You can always do much better...

Oh and in the meantime, you can hop over to http://www.tripmastermonkey.com where they've got an article of mine up about other creatures of the night. Happy halloween!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Creature Feature Short Take: Vampires. Sort of.

With the US elections only a matter of days away now, and Halloween too (my wife's favorite holiday for any number of reasons. If you knew her, you'd say that's just typical of her...) now seems as apt a point as any to discuss vampires and other blood-sucking fiends.

It would seem that with his arrest, MN's chance at electing the first vampire for governor have been dashed for now. Pesky America and its inconvenient laws about statute of limitations... ;)

Hey, I thought you couldn't come out in daylight!
Amusingly enough, Jonathon 'The Impaler' Sharkey's website on the matter has also gone poof into the netherealm, much like a bolt of sunlight on more fictitious fiends, so we must make do with the boingboing.net article instead, and miscellaneous snarkiness we find around on Google.

We once elected Jesse 'The Body' Ventura here, after all.

Who's to say Jonathon didn't really have a chance?

Oh sure, the impaling terrorists and wrong-doers near the front steps of the capitol might go against our usual principles of Minnesota-nice, but we also love theater here.

I'm not saying he'd have been better than Pawlenty or Hatch or Hutchinson, but I think elections are always more interesting when we see true democracy in action- when anyone, and I mean anyone, could have even odds at making it into high office.

Take Melody "Mimi Miyagi" Damayo, for example, who made a tilt at the Nevada Governor's office on the Republican ticket.

Single mother, Asian American entrepreneur with a background as an immigrant in entertainment and the media, it was a little bizarre, but hey, most of the candidates in Nevada could barely point at one another without the accusation of the pot calling the kettle black.

Of course, now there's recent news that she's gone Libertarian and is making a run for mayor of Vegas in '07, which is apparently what she'd really wanted to do in the first place.

At least she made a run, and put her money where her mouth is, which is a lot further than a lot of people have gone. And interestingly, she went on to do it without making an ass of herself, unlike:

But back to vampires and other blood-suckers:

It's a kid's book. Take that, Bunnicula!
On the one hand, while we have Hogula, dread pig of night, I'm running into an occasional reference or two to the Vampire Pig of Soc Trang in Vietnam, who sounds more or less like an ordinary pot-belly pig, but I'd still like to see a picture if anyone's got it.

And all this is assuming the portly fellow's not a plate of spare ribs by now.

On a more gruesome note, there's the 1999 case of Cambodian 'vampire' Pheach Phen who serves as a sobering reminder of the importance of supporting good health education internationally.

Today I'm also giving a report on porphyria, which is interesting because in 1985, biochemist David Dolphin suggested it as an explanation for the origin of vampire and werewolf legends, based upon a number of similarities between the condition and folklore.

This is only a THEORY, but many people seem to be forgetting that and treating it as a truth, much like the idea that King George III may have suffered from it.
Absolutely no similarities at all to any other Georges in power right now.
Right now, I should also mention that I'm re-watching "They Live" again, and it's still a riot. Longtime readers of this blog may also understand its influence on the format of On The Other Side of the Eye as a result.

Wow! the height of Rowdy Roddy Piper's acting career AND a poignant social commentary! Rocking!
Hmm. And in closing, it's amazing the things you find photoshopped on the internet these days. Thanks, random google link:
Have a great day, everyone.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Creature Feature Short Take: Shuten Doji

It's been a few days since my last post, so today's Creature Feature Short Take is that loveable fratboy of the Asian Underworld, Shuten Doji:

Wanna party?

Not to be confused with the crummy Star Hand Kid series a while back:

The Star Hand Kid. I'm Craptastic!

But rather the monstrous oni from Japan, particularly residing at the top of Mount Oe until the hero Raiko and 4 BFFs snuck into his house during a party and cut his head off.

I'll be honest, I first ran into the term Shuten Doji while playing Legend of the Five Rings back in the 90s and seeing Steve Morales' design:

There was a time when this game was cool.

And until I bothered to do the research I thought he was some sort of vampire.

But au contraire, it turns out that Shuten Doji's full name translates into Giant Drunken Boy. Or Big Drunkard Demon, or some similar combination involving "large", "blitzed" and "being an ass."

It seems old Shuten Doji is also a cannibal demon. It's bad enough of course that he's either a cannibal or a demon, but he's both!

And he liked to kidnap beautiful girls from the capitol to 'hang out' with him and his oni buddies at their Tower of Murder during their keggers featuring buffets of human sashimi and blood.

It's a grand old party!

If anyone had it coming, it was Shuten Doji:

This city has lots of free time!

Japundit.Com has some great pictures of the Nebuta Festival of Aomori City, including this float of Raiko taking down Shuten Doji.

These floats have to be seen to be believed. In fact so much so, that I'm going to call attention to their other entry:

Hello, Kitty, no!

The Vampire Cat of Nabeshima! Bad kitty!

If you like fun and gruesome ghost stories and Japanese art, this entry at Japundit will keep you busy for an afternoon. Great stuff!

That's all for now!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Creature Feature: The Werewolf

It's hard to see in this thing!

Well, things have been coming up a lot recently, but it's time to blow some steam off by taking a look at everyone's fun buddy, the Loup Garou! AKA the Werewolf, the Lycanthrope or Fuzzy-Wuzzy.

Well, just kidding about the last one.

Hollywood's treatment of the werewolf typically sees him as an impotent man who suddenly gets accidentally bitten by a wolf and soon becomes an alpha male, sort of a 'from zero to hero' kind of thing.

With the unfortunate side effect of becoming a man-killing freak in the process, and one who has to use the lunar calendar, of all things.

And it's interesting that over the years, people used to be really conflicted, nay, tormented over this sort of thing, blood of the innocent and all that.

But lately it seems like werewolf victims treat it all as just a really big inconvenience or vent on people using the Texan 'He Had It Coming' principle.

Oh sure, they're officially looking for a cure, but whether it's An American Werewolf in London, Wolf, Werewolf the TV series or any number of other recent werewolf films too wretched to utter their names, (I'm looking at you, Wes Craven) it seems the 'heroes' really dawdle at finding the cure.

It takes half the episode/film to figure out they're even a werewolf, and then there's the ranting around like they'd never heard of the things.

It makes you just want to throw your hands up in the air like you don't care.

For me, I always saw the roots of our primal fear of the werewolf grounded in the idea of a person who is out of control, who returns to a bestial, savage state, becoming feral and murderous.

And perhaps, in an odd paradox, they're not completely 'wild' and 'carefree' beings of pure chaos. After all, their existence is now guided by the regularity of the lunar cycles.

It's savage, but largely predictable.

The werewolf strikes me as a being we dread for fear of reversions. Well, yes, and the big pointy teeth.

And what strikes me more is the more forgotten lore that werewolves used to be people who MADE THE CHOICE to be so. Beings whose monstrous natures were not bestowed by accident, but design. Which I find an intriguingly more horrific idea.

What are you looking at?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Creature Feature Short Take: The Aswang

During the recent Arcana convention I wound up on the Asian Horror Movies Panel, and one film I brought up was a terrible, terrible movie called Aswang, which is a pity because the mythic Filipino creature itself is quite interesting in comparison.

I should have known any film whose plot hinges on someone taking their new bride to meet his mother in Wisconsin was bound to be terrible.

The guy's mother turns out to be an Aswang.

Arguably, the Aswang do look like normal people during the day and like to be in professions involving meat, like butchers, for example, so hanging out in Wisconsin might actually make a bit of sense, but my brain is still reeling from the sheer awfulness of Aswang, the movie.

It was like watching a Troma film sober.

The Wikipedia has a long entry on the Aswang that in its short form describes it as:

"A ghoul in Filipino folklore. The myth of the aswang is popular in the Western Visayan regions such as Capiz, Iloilo and Antique. The trademark or major feature of Aswangs which distinguish them from other Filipino mythological creatures is their propensity to replace stolen cadavers with the trunk of a banana tree carved in the cadaver's likeness. They are also said to like to eat small children. Their favorite body parts are the liver and heart. Other local names, especially in Capiz are tik-tik and wak-wak."

I get the impression we're selling the Aswang a bit short in terms of its overall terror and power.

I wonder why the Aswang think anyone will ever fall for the old switch-the-cadaver trick.

Anyway, true to form, as terrifying as the Aswang is, it still brings out the toymaker in people, and you can find all sorts of macabre statuettes and drawings of it all over the web and the street vendor stalls.

There are some elements that make this sound similar to the Hmong Vampire stories up here in St. Paul, but not enough to make me say there's any great relationship between the two.

Both creatures apparently like to hang around funerals, however.

It also likes to walk with its feet facing backwards, like some folk accounts of the poj ntxoog in Hmong folklore.

I should say I may be reading it wrong, but the Aswang's entry in the Wikipedia kind of sucks. It points out there are two ways to distinguish it from a normal human, then proceeds to list just one: Bloodshot eyes from staying up all night looking for mischief to make.

The Encyclopedia Mythica at Pantheon.Org has a much more interesting, albeit short entry on the Aswang.

There, the entry makes the Aswang sound much more similar to the Hmong poj ntxoog, but again, it's highly unlikely that this similarity is anything more than coincidence. It's not likely to be the result of any prior exchange of folklore between the two cultures.

But there you have it, one of the most evil, terrifying creatures from the Phillipines. Or maybe it's just misunderstood.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Giant Robot Aftermath

My E-mail has been swamped with "How was the Giant Robot lecture"
so here's my report:

First, traffic was a pain trying to get there.

Second: In a bizarre twist of physics that would put H.P. Lovecraft's non-euclidean, cyclopean walls to shame, amazingly, the Walker space becomes increasingly non-intuitive to navigate in direct proportion to the urgency with which you want to catch a presentation.

Live At The Walker!

Bao Phi, Chamindika Wanduragula, and I were in attendance, scattered throughout the auditorium.

The audience was jam-packed with more punks than APAs, and some who were both. More people within the 20-30 something demographic for a change, and not all the 'usual' crowd one expects to find at an art museum.

Unfortunately I wound up getting seated behind a fellow whose sense of personal hygiene gave new meaning to the term funky, and I don't say this often, but it actually became hard to hear all of the GR conversation because of it. :/

But I'm not going to dwell on that... He was more of the exception rather than the rule.

There were the usual shots at A. Magazine and Yolk that have become par for the course.

The talk was an affirming reminder of the power of indie DIY mindsets, seeing how they went from being a photocopied 'zine to a glossy full-color magazine today that scooped the arrival of Jet Li before Jet Li started sucking (although they feel he's now on a rebound) and many other stars.

They showcased some great artists and musicians across the country because they liked their stuff, and not because some corporate guy wanted to get some PR out.

They explained why art is now on the cover of GR and not photographs of people.

To their credit, they came off as people who really print what they really like, and not what someone tells them or pays them to. And the result is going to be somewhat eclectic as a result, and will suprise readers from time to time. And even themselves.

Their approach is more reminiscent of punk's approach than the techniques of traditional Asian American activism and identity politics.

We were given an interesting insight into how they approached the business, and how they ultimately diversified into stores and even the Giant Robot restaurant where you can get a tofu taco.

A big door was left open in the suggestion that what they've accomplished could be replicated, although I wonder if this is true- as little discussion assessed unique conditions of their time and the social-political and economic circumstances of the time that have effects on the process.

The big thing they wanted to convey was that they were ordinary people, well, actually, "obsessive dorks," in their own words, who happened to be willing to commit to long hours and strange routines at first. Boy, that sounds familiar.

It was a handy overview for people just starting to become familiar with Giant Robot, but I think the most interesting insights to their process, approach and potential came at the periphery of the core discussion, particularly around the issues of Asian American culture and how that will be communicated at a mass level.

I'm glad I went. There were definitely things to take away from the discussion that I'll be applying to some future projects of mine, even as I don't agree with all of their approaches.

Cancel My Trip To Quincy

Wow. Thanks to Power and Politics' reminder, I'd have to say Quincy needs an image makeover if it plans on appearing hospitable to Asian Americans.

Not that it was exactly top on my list of cities to visit in the near future, but getting told to forget my heritage AND the chance of getting beaten up by the police for a parking issue isn't exactly my idea of fun. And this is all in one year!

I mean, what do they do for an encore?

Kick puppies?

Quincy. Pronounced 'Quinzy' by the locals.

But to show that there are no hard feelings (!) here's some fun facts about Quincy before you go hating it:

Also known as "The City of Presidents," they have a population around 88,025 and formed in 1792. Howard Johnson's and Dunkin Donuts also were founded here.

And after all, this fellow looks like he REALLY enjoys their donuts. A little too much, perhaps, but hey, wouldn't you want to have a donut that tastes THAT good?

And now you know.



Enscriptchun is trying to tempt me away from writing a great book of Asian American poetry by posting about a new Playstation 2 game, Okami from Capcom's Clover Studio.

To see the other comments on it around the web, the world has become a lifeless place, as shown in the game's use of Hokusai-style Japanese woodblock print visuals.

Playing as Ama Terasu, a sun god who takes on the form of a wolf, your goal is to bring life back to the world. You bring life back to the world by defeating lots of beasts (Who apparently don't qualify as living enough or good?)

With each beast you defeat, the world's life force is restored just a bit, with colors and eventually people appearing. Apparently, thanks to the celestial brush, painting actually becomes a part of the gameplay process, and there's tons of mythology, folklore and fun to be had.

The celestial brush sounds ten times more fun than the BFG in most games these days.

Thank heavens I don't own a Playstation 2. But if I did, this is one I'd check out.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Creature Focus: Frankenstein

In celebrating October, I'm going to periodically take time out to address different monsters from around the world and share the ways I've come to see them over the years.

Our first focus is Frankenstein and Frankenstein's Monster.

There's a lot to celebrate about the fellows- their creation also signaled the arrival of women writers in modern science fiction and horror. The longevity of Mary W. Shelly's novel and its continued relevance to today's issues is an example for us all.

The most common approach to Frankenstein is the "I will not play in God's Domain" reading, but my take is: What happens when the created surpasses the creator?

The 'monster' was created from the collective body parts and organs of criminals, murderers, the lowest of society, and yet the result was a being who was intelligent, articulate, and immensely, physically powerful.

He had a great sense of the soul (and his possible lack thereof), and sadly, an awareness of his isolation as a unique being, one who could only see himself as monstrous, and in the end, reverts back to his most brutal roots to destroy everything his creator held dear.

By the end of the novel, he's adrift on a block of ice to be alone forever.

Great drama! (But, scandalously, heretically speaking, is he possibly a metaphor for all human beings?)

Morally, intellectually, and physically his creator's superior, what is he supposed to do, finding himself created without any greater purpose than to satisfy an inquiry into the prevention of death?

I almost wonder what would have happened if the creature was created from the parts of the sainted in society- other doctors, scholars, priests, nobles, etc.

But in having been created from such 'base' parts, for the purpose of the story, it makes his accomplishments and his dilemma all the more tragic, transcending those roots, but also now rootless, without peer or company.

This is all going to end badly, you know.

The created describes his feelings first of confusion, then rejection and hate, all stemming from his creator's initial disgust at him.

The creature learns to talk by secretly studying a poor peasant family. He performs many kind deeds for this family in secret, but they drive him away when they finally see his true appearance.

Ultimately, doesn't this tap in deeply to the fears of any human and their experience and relationship to the world?

His only crime is that he is not beautiful. And so he is called a failure, a shame.

Thomas Hobbe's Leviathan

I always find myself thinking of several other beings in connection to Frankenstein's Monster, including: Thomas Hobbe's Leviathan, an interesting metaphor for the body of the state, as well as the Jewish tradition of the Golem, an artificial being usually created for menial tasks:

A common notion developed that the main disability of the golem is its inability to speak. It is said that if a golem was made able to speak, this would give it a soul, and because a golem cannot be made perfectly, that ability would make it very dangerous.

As a writer of color, I find this an intriguing notion while our communities try to articulate our experiences and perspective.

Perhaps both Frankenstein's Monster and the Golem become statements about how we shouldn't create life lightly, or treat it as something casual, whose purpose is only to serve.

This also relates back to the Homunculus, another example of people trying to create artificial people.

They were short, and stood no more than 12 inches tall, and also did menial work before turning on their creator/master and running away. (Hmm, I see a theme recurring)

What I also find interesting, if disagreeable, is that today, we have no trouble finding female interpretations of vampires and werewolves aplenty, but proportionally speaking, only a few films such as Bride of Re-Animator, the Bride of Frankenstein, or Frankenhooker take on the idea of women as people to be re-animated a la Frankenstein.

Who's responsible for my hair?!?!

And more often, the theme revolves around the idea that they are being brought back only for sexual purposes, never for their great conversational skills or company as able-bodied laborers. (A theme that is pretty apparent with most of Blade Runner's female replicants, for example.) Instead, it just comes down to lines like Frankenhooker's "Wanna Date?"

The Frankenstein story was adapted into the blaxploitation horror film Blackenstein, which, while being an amazingly terrible movie, does bring in new issues into the myth of Frankenstein.

In Blackenstein, the man didn't start out dead, but was a Vietnam war veteran who lost his arms and legs, and was supposed to undergo a radical procedure that was sabotaged because the doctor wanted Blackenstein's wife for himself.

I think it changes the story's themes greatly if he doesn't start out a corpse, but that's just me being picky.

Much carnage naturally ensues, and if one was to go at it, there's all sorts of sociology commentary that could be inserted here. In the end, this poor guy is just torn apart by police dogs.

It's not the social satire that Night of the Living Dead is, and is usually double-featured with the equally terrible Blacula. Still, this is one take on the myth.

I haven't really run across an Asian American take on Frankenstein, but if you know of one, let me know.

But getting back to the final point:

I think our question must be: What is the true root of fear for the story of Frankenstein and his monster?

If we fear vampires for being dead parasites, werewolves for being men who turn into beasts, who and what should we fear in Frankenstein?

The creator, whose moral indifference about life leads to destruction, misery and the debasing of the soul for knowledge, or a being, who, composed of the 'worst' of us, is still better than us, and challenges our sense of the order of the universe?

Or do we fear that others will use our bodies and cobble together something that is more and less than what we want to believe should always be a whole?

Interestingly enough, we can currently go the Minneapolis Public Library where they've got their special exhibit on Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature.

(Wow, even the library winds up noting the sexually charged aspects of the legend. But that's a whole different post.)

Check it out!

Quincy Council to Chinese Americans: Be American.

All right, thanks to Power and Politics, who brought this post up, which bugs the crap out of me.

In an address to an Asian American social service organization recently: ‘‘If you want to live in America, don’t be a hyphenated American,’’ said Ward 6 Councilor Brian McNamee. ‘‘Don’t keep one foot planted in your country of birth and another in this country. Put both feet firmly in America.’’

I'll let you decide what to think of that.

Now, mind you, the flap is over flying the communist Chinese flag, which will unruffle people much the way flying the communist version of the flags from Vietnam and Laos will, even today.

The Chinese United Association in Quincy, MA

However, the wording and the attitude of the city council people in this case leaves a lot to be desired. We'll see how this all turns out.

On an interesting note, I should also say that I find Nikita Prokhorov's article in the design magazine How excellent reading for those of us in the arts or considering logos for our companies, because I think it speaks with particular relevance to Southeast Asian Americans and our youth.

Kundiman Newsletter!

Well, I got an e-newsletter from Kundiman this morning, the non-profit arts organization that's supposed to be committed to the discovery and cultivation of Asian American poets.

(And specifically poets, I'm assuming, as differentiated from the Asian American Writer's Workshop who is focusing on writers from all genres.)

The newsletter was mostly a blurb about Kundiman fellow Purvi Shah's 'Terrain Tracks,' but it's always great to know there's so much motion in the world of Asian American poetry and the discovery of new poets and talents that we can spare 3 paragraphs for it.

In the meantime, check out Roger Pao's Asian American Poetry or Lee Herrick's http://apapoetry.blogspot.com as well as Tim Yu's blog at tympan.blogspot.com for more coverage on what's up in the world of Asian American poetry.

Now seems as apt a time to point out that John Yau will be in town during the Twin Cities Book Festival whom John Ashbury describes as "a poet at the height of his powers." John was also the recent judge for the Kundiman Prize, as a neat FYI.

John Yau and the classic white wall background!

His presence is co-sponsored by Project Logos: The Center for Creative Writing and the Literary Arts Institute of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University.

Giant Robot Spotting

Well, the folks from Giant Robot are definitely taking in the sights here in the Twin Cities, especially hanging around the Walker, where there's tons of remnants from Murakami's old Superflat exhibit. And dissing the Metrodome, but hey, go figure. :)

They're already posting on Eric's blog.

Issues that say: Buy Me

Giant Robot has been a great magazine over the years, and while sometimes I thought there was way too much coverage of the Superflat movement at first, as I see the broader, bigger picture, especially for places where Superflat didn't come, I'm glad GR made the effort to show us what was going on.

Plus, it's still more entertaining a read than most of the magazines out there that are too fashion-prone or too serious without being readable. (Yeah, you know who I'm pointing to.)

In the meantime, quote for the moment is: Un tigre ne proclâme pas sa tigritude, il saute sur sa proie- Wole Soyinka.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Jumprope for Jesus

This has been making the rounds up here in MN, where there's a significant population of transcultural adoptees.

I'm not going to add any further comment to this.

I will say: do you have your copy of Outsiders Within?

Here's another bit of food for thought in the meantime:

Giant Robot Invades the Walker!

Puny humans! Bow to my edifice!

From the press release.

P.S. I'll be there!

Giant Robot at the Walker

Since its humble beginnings as a stapled-and-folded digest in 1994, Giant Robot magazine has grown into a full-color authority on Asian, Asian-American, and hybrid popular culture. Subjects range from new art,up-and-coming design, and alternative cinema to unusual travel, unheard music, and obscure history.

The Los Angeles publication's atypical subject matter, unpredictable angles, and honest tone have earned a hardcore readership around the world. Success has not been limited to newsstands and coffee tables.

Giant Robot has become a bona-de brand, with a line of artbooks and retail stores in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City.

On Thursday, October 5, Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong, the editors/ creators of Giant Robot, will give a free talk at the Walker Art Center's William and Nadine McGuire Theater in Minneapolis.

Topics will include but are not limited to the evolution of Giant Robot and the events and directions ofAsian and Asian-American popular culture that have been detailed in the magazine's first 12 years.

They don't visit Minnesota very often, and hope to see you there.

Nail In The Coffin of "Almond Eyes"

See Light has posted the definitive rebuttal for any author who uses the phrase almond/almond-shaped eyes as a shortcut to describe Asian facial features. Essential reading.

mmm mmm, almonds!

Next stop: Moon-faced!

Yeah, the man in the moon is Asian, all right.

Take that, hackneyed writing shortcuts!

"I'll give you moon-faced!"

Monday, October 02, 2006

Arcana Report

Back from the Arcana convention, and while I'm still processing a lot of what we did, I'll say that it's definitely a convention I'll come back to.

One of the most productive elements was walking away with a short laundry list from other fans of some Asian horror movies to check out, such as The Maid, which is intriguing more for the non-horror issues of intercultural relations than for the actual ghost story itself, but that's another post. Already, my DVD has several interesting looking films waiting in line that we'll report on soon.

Sixth Sense meets Ju-On and Maid In Manhattan gone horribly awry? You decide!

The art show alone was amazing with some original pieces by Clark Ashton Smith being the personal highlight for me. It reflected an impressive range of original artwork across the 20th century with a sense of history that seems so rare for conventions that usually just display fan art, and not actually pieces of such high quality.

Couldn't believe I wound up at Arcana without any film on hand this time, so no pictures from me, though I know some will soon be posted elsewhere by others.

David G. Hartwell was a warm and insightful personality, and though I didn't get much time to talk with him, I felt he brought a great perspective to the industry, and why we write, and raised questions of what it will take for the next big jump in horror and fantastic literature.

You don't want a ride at the Carnival of Souls.

Standout films that we watched during this time included Carnival of Souls, High Plains Drifter, Beetlejuice, Kwaidan, Ringu, The Devil's Backbone and The Island of Lost Souls, plus others randomly scattered here and there, as it should be with any horror convention.

Hoichi the Earless is a must-see classic, especially as seen in 'Kwaidan'

The prestentations on Sunday went particularly well- a lively discussion on the evolution of the ghost within genre fiction reveals some interesting things about American psychology, I believe, as you examine how ghosts have gradually shifted from being rather benign, innocuous figures like The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and Topper to terrifying revenants of late as seen in An American Haunting or What Lies Below, among others.

I also presented a world debut reading of a short horror story of mine, A Model Apartment, that is among the first I know of to intersect Lovecraftian themes with Southeast Asian American motifs that was written by a Laotian American.

The auction went well. Didn't walk away with a giant robot army like I did during Diversicon, but added some unusual new books to my collection including Swedish Lutheran Vampires of Brainerd, by Anna Waltz.

These auctions are always fun- you can get some DVD's and tapes there for a buck a piece, amazingly, and that alone makes it worth it. Someone walked away with the entire Matrix trilogy for a little over $3. Which is about as much as I'd pay for it, if I had to.

I almost picked up a set of dinosaurs this time, but once again was outbid by a person who worked at a daycare instead. Surprisingly, dinosaurs are ridiculously popular items during the auctions, as far as I've seen.

We all had a chance to bid on a tape marked simply The Ring, but no one wanted to take a chance that it was in fact the actual videotape from The Ring, the kind that brings Sada a-knocking on your door in 7 days, so in the end it just kind of got gently shoved to the side with a collective "pass."

Films not to watch on VHS: The Ring.

Hey, it was almost midnight. What can I say.

I kept waiting for a copy of the Necronomicon to come up for bid, but the closest thing was a clock made out of bones. They assured us it was no one we knew. :) Scads and scads of old issues of Eerie, Creepy and other horror magazines were also on the auction block.

It's always good to lend a hand when it's needed.

Also had a fun dinner with Steve Fastner and Rich Larson, two Minneapolis artists who have a truly distinctive style, from the Bill the Galactic Hero series to the cover of That Darned Squid God. Their work is really a nice change of pace from what passes for most illustration and comics art today that I think is veering too much towards bad imitations of the manga style to jarring photo-referencing work that's just making books like the Fantastic Four or the Punisher unreadable. But that's a subject for an entirely different post.

Met far too many great people at Arcana to go into, but as I said at the top, it's definitely small scale and interesting enough that I'll go again next year, when George Clayton Johnson is brought in, the author and screenwriter for the Twilight Zone as well as Star Trek, Logan's Run, Kung Fu, Ocean's 11, Alfread Hitchcock Presents and tons of other things, apparently.

Thanks to everyone who made this such an enjoyable convention!

Opportunity From the MN State Arts Board

The Minnesota State Arts Board has extended the application deadline for the Cultural Community Partnership grant program. The new deadline is 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 1, 2006.

Cultural Community Partnership grants are meant to enhance the artistic and career development of artists of color. Funds may be used to support collaborative projects between two individual artists of color, or between an artist and an organization. To help promote the work of grantees, each recipient will be expected to present some type of public event or exhibition as part of his or her project. Grants range from $1,000 - $5,000.

Cultural Community Partnership grant application forms and instructions are available on the