Archive for the Halloween Category


Posted in ghost stories, Halloween, writing with tags , , , , on November 1, 2009 by katekanno

Non8pumpkinToday I don’t have much time, but we’ve made it to Halloween. I’ve been ramping up my own writing today, after stumbling over a brief spell of whining. As today is the day, I’m doing three favorites.

The first is Number 13 by M.R. James.

The second is Pickman’s Model by H.P. Lovecraft. This one I first encountered as an episode of Night Gallery. It scared the hell out of me, and to read it years later was even more terrifying.

The third is Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, referenced in a previous post. Go lesbian vampires!

And that makes 31 stories in 31 days! Actually, if you count all of the stories in the Vernon Lee collection, there are more. Of course genre is year round, and I’ll probably add more ghost stories to the list and continue to dig up wonderful OTR podcasts among other strange and terrible things.

Happy Halloween!

Now it’s time for  another literary and alliterative project: November Noir! This will include films, short stories, and novels. I’m not promising 30 as the writing will keep me busy, but I’ll try for at least three recommendations per week.

Avoiding the Brain Sucker: limiting screen culture, more ghost stories, and notebook hacks.

Posted in blogging, ghost stories, Halloween, lifehacking, literature, old time radio, stationery lust, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2009 by katekanno

Picture 10Avoiding the brain sucker.

I’ve been limiting my internet hours to the evening, having noticed that I’ve been becoming more and more frazzled and distracted, particularly when it comes to my writing. It’s a creepy experience when you go online to search for specific information only to forget what that was the second your browser appears. This has been scaring me as I’ve always had a steel trap memory, or so my partner complains.

Furthermore, it’s been harming my ability to focus on my writing, and so I’ve decided to stop.

My email can wait until after dinner, so can my podcasts, facebook, twitter, and other interests. It hasn’t been hard really. I get up, and rather than going for that cup of coffee that gives me limitless excuses to go online, I jump into the shower and get dressed. Twyla Tharp in her book The Creative Habit suggests adopting a mundane ritual — hers, is grabbing a taxi — to throw yourself into the right mindset for work. The shower’s worked for me so far.

The hardest part has been writing in longhand, a necessary part of the deal as typing would lure me right back online again. I find I’m more hesitant with a pen, more self-critical, and rather than twitter distracting me, it’s those mean old voices and a desire to snack. Apples have taken care of the latter, but the former, that’s just something you can’t avoid.

At the same time, my writing is less slapdash. I’m less likely to write crap because I know I can go back and fix it later, a mode of thinking that gets me into serious trouble at 10,000 words. I’m no climber, but if I see each word as one foot higher, I’d better damn well be prepared once I get high enough to break my neck. Today, I outlined a story, and although I’m not extremely thrilled with the outcome yet, it is progress.

I’ve also done more dishes, been more helpful to my partner, edited two articles (not mine) and finished reading another book. What’s been interesting and a little unnerving is how hard it was for me to focus on it, at least for a few hours. I had to stop myself, catch my mind wandering, and return to the same paragraph. Reassuring, however, was that I was able to knuckle down after awhile. Using my Piccadilly as a reading journal to jot down new vocabulary, quotations, and thoughts, also helps to keep me physically, if not mentally committed to the reading.

Anyway, one more day til Halloween.

Here is a favorite tale of the occult, Casting the Runes by M.R. James, adapted into an excellent radio program here, and a superb 1957 Val Lewton production with Dana Andrews.

The Thought is a 1950 radio presentation from the Haunting Hour. I don’t know who the writer is, but the Wurlitzer here is out of control. Seriously, I was harried not so much by the story, but by nervously anticipating each blast of the organ. Jeez guys, it’s just a telepath predicting a murder. Lighten up, will ya?

31/31 28 Days Later

Posted in ghost stories, Halloween, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2009 by katekanno

carmillaToday’s story “Squire Toby’s Will” takes on near Faulknerian proportions: the rotting old estate, the family dispute, implicational inbreeding, and loud hints of beastiality.

Then in his dream this semi-human brute would approach his face to his, crawling and crouching up his body, heavy as lead, till the face of the beast was laid on his, with the same odious caresses and stretchings and writhings which he had seen over the old Squire’s grave.

Yes, that’s right, folks. This story has a grave humping dog.

And you were worried about your leg.

At any rate, J.Sheridan Le Fanu was one of the main originators of the vampire in its modern incarnation, and more importantly, the lesbian vampire film genre. Le Fanu wrote Carmilla, which was partially based on Coleridge’s lesbian vampire poem “Christabel” and history was made. Or actually, Hammer Studios adapted it with Ingrid Pitt, and history was made.

The second story is an audio version of The Upper Berth, a classic sea story by Francis Marion Crawford. I have a copy of this in an audio version of Classic Tales of Ghosts and Vampires, but here’s a free version from Literal Systems, an incredibly cool site with quality readings of public domain works. Like Quiller-Couch’s story, this one combines ghosts and ships, and you can’t get better than that, John Carpenter’s The Fog being one of those most underrated horror films of the 1970s. I mean, come on! He followed up a seminal slasher film with an old-fashioned ghost story. That took a lot of guts, which was why there weren’t any visible in The Fog. Anyway, The Fog rules! I’ll shut up about it now.

At any rate, I believe that Southern California is behaving in oddly Halloween like ways. For example, it was actually cold tonight, and the leaves are actually brown. Here’s to seeing out my last Samhain here properly.

Posted in ghost stories, Halloween, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , on October 26, 2009 by katekanno

edithnesbitTwo ghost stories tonight. The first is “Mansize in Marble,” a rather sad tale by children’s author Edith Nesbit. Nesbit, often mistaken for the girl-in-the-red-velvet swing, Evelyn Nesbit, was the original J.K. Rowling.

The second is a The Roll Call of the Reef by Arthur Quiller-Couch, very enjoyable mainly for the incredibly cool combination lock that serves as a major plot point. Quiller-Couch was a much emulated writer of his time, and wrote this essay on writing in 1916. He wrote under the name “Q” which is about as cool as you can get, was Alistair Cook’s teacher at Oxford, and was an all around eccentric known for purple prose.

At any rate, am getting sleepy, and need to get to bed and read more ghost stories. 6 more days till Halloween.

31/31 Catching up. More Vernon Lee and Bram Stoker

Posted in ghost stories, Halloween, literature, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 23, 2009 by katekanno

stokerWhen beginning this blog, I intended to, however casually, add in my own illustrations for the stories rather than just grab a photo off of the internet. However, time, illness, and other constraints kept me from doing so consistently, so now I’m catching up. Here are two portraits I’ve drawn of Bram Stoker and Vernon Lee. They’ll be replacing the photos I had of the writers in vernonleeprevious posts, but I thought I’d post them here as well.

As for today’s story, having done these two illustrations, I’ll stick with Stoker and Lee. I was able to find a transcription of Lee’s Hauntings released in 1890.This isn’t just one story, but the entire book so if you can put it on your kindle, nook, iphone, whatever you have, it should do nicely.

Here’s another short story by Stoker: “In the Valley of the Shadow” available from P.M. Calduff’s informative site.

Apologies if I’ve not been accessing lesser known writers or those I haven’t covered yet. This second cold really took me down and I’ll be jumping back into the fray. One more week til Halloween!


31/31 "The Judge's House" by Bram Stoker and OTR adaptation

Posted in books, ghost stories, Halloween, literature, old time radio, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2009 by katekanno

This is the first time since starting this blog that I’ve missed a day. Was sick two weeks ago. I think, as I’ve had a fever for the last three days, that it’s probably a mild case of flu. And as I haven’t been given license to lie around in bed and read to my heart’s content, I’ve taken advantage of it.

I was able to take good chunk out of Project Guiltpile, finishing The Magic Mountain and Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-Sided. More on those later when I’m a tad more lucid.

Today’s ghost story is “The Judge’s House” by Bram Stoker. This was one I didn’t care for: a first sentence introducing a protagonist named “Malcolm Malcolmsen” provides all the chilly foreshadowing of an Archie comic. There were rats, there were persnickety portraits, and a gloomy, old, unrentable house, but the end result was more meh-he-heh than Muh-hah-hah.

There’s a little more of the latter in this Old Time Radio adaptation from The Hall of Fantasy. This one is brought courtesy of Wait through the ten second ad, and you’ll get to it.

Now “He Who Follows Me”, also from the above is a spine tingling Scotch clog of a tale. You’ll never interpret footsteps in quite the same way again.

Commence Project Guiltpile and 31/31 "A Wicked Voice" by Vernon Lee (Violet Paget)

Posted in books, ghost stories, Halloween, lifehacking, literature, old time radio, psychogeography, Queer life with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2009 by katekanno

bookHere lies the monstrous list of books that distraction be damned I’m going to try to finish before leaving.

The tickets have been purchased. I have exactly two months.

20 books. It’s not all, but I’d better break my goal down into chunks. At the end of this tunnel is a long stay in Portland and several trips to among other places, Powell’s. We’ll start with this, but not necessarily go in order. I’m capricious when it comes to reading, which is partially how I got into this mess. This also doesn’t mean that I’ll not read other books while I’m at it. However, I will not buy anymore. Library’s okay.

1.The Magic Mountain

2.The Futurological Congress

3.The Untouchable

4.Let us Now Praise Famous Men

5.Titus Groan

6.The Trouble with Lichen



9.Great Expectations

10.Henderson the Rain King

11.Infinite Jest (I wouldn’t include this monster, except I’m 200 pages in already)

12.The Thirteenth Tale

13.Skeletons at the Feast



16.The Windup Girl

17.The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

18.Interviews with Fritz Lang

19. White Sands, Red Menace

20. Psychogeography

I’ve tried to take an eclectic sample to circumvent distraction, and will cross them off as I go. Here’s to absurd goals and the transitions that allow us to get a lead on them.

Let’s get back to ghosts.


Today’s story is another one with strong queer connections. Written by Vernon Lee a.k.a. Violet Paget, it tells the tale of an androgynously beautiful young vocalist who can seduce and kill with his voice. Lee was a strong proponent of women’s rights and could beat Vita Sackville West when it came to wearing men’s attire. Her supernatural fiction was regarded highly during its time along with her a book on eighteenth century Italian music. A recent volume of her stories was published in 1990 under the title

Hauntings and Other Fantastic Tales.

What struck me instantly about “A Wicked Voice” was its energy. Not a hint of the stuffy about it.

In addition, here is an OTR story called “Weekend Vacation” that includes creepy motel, old woman, and her Lennie like son: “Monroe likes girlies! Pretty hair.” It’s pretty darned disturbed, but has a nice twist.