Wednesday, November 25, 2009 Bohemian Rhapsody

I usually don't do the viral video thing, but this is too damn good not to share. YouTube via RPG.NET:

Monday, November 23, 2009 What You Want

From checking over my RapidShare account, I see that the following are the five most popular files I've shared on this blog:
5) The Brother Voodoo comics and Pontypool audio drama tie with 16 downloads apiece.

4) Marvel's Dracula Lives magazine, or at least issues 1 to 5, with 21 downloads.

3) The film version of No Blade of Grass has 27 complete downloads.

2) The Warren Companion has 31 complete downloads

1) And they're all left in the dust by the soundtrack for Dawn of the Dead, which has a whopping 111 downloads as of this post.

So what does this tell us?
3) The Sanctum doesn't get a lot of traffic.

2) You guys really like Goblin.

1) I really like structured lists.

Random Image: Cigarettes and Chicken

From the endlessly fascinating
Black and WTF

(May contain boobies)

Sunday, November 22, 2009 The House that Dripped Frankenstein

Had a pretty good time at the classic horror triple bill at the Portage Theater last night, despite coming in a bit late for the first feature and deciding not to stick around for Dr. Cyclops.

First up was Evil of Frankenstein. I don't think it was my first Hammer, but I'm pretty sure it was the first of their Frankenstein films I ever saw. The scene where the Baron and his assistant discover the monster frozen in the ice brought back a flood of memories. I haven't seen it since that first time as a wee geek, so between nostalgia and the thrill of a "new" Hammer film, I was grinning for the length of the picture.

I said in a previous post that Evil is considered a lesser Hammer film, and it is. Hammer struck a distribution deal with Universal for this picture, and as a result were allowed to incorporate Jack Pierce's iconic monster make-up into the design for their own creature. But the spirit of Universal seems to have taken over the whole film, what with the frozen creature and pitchfork-wielding mob and evil hypnotist and exploding castle and what-not. Peter Cushing's Baron isn't even the baddie this time, and his characteristic amoral streak is almost buried beneath his avuncular affection for his assistant and a few emo moments.

Which is not to say the movie isn't fun, because it's a blast. Cushing has some pretty good one-liners, and even gets in a bit of derring-do here and there. And while the creature make-up is pretty crappy, it's still cool to see what is basically the Karloff Frankenstein lumbering about with Cushing's mad doctor. Come on - would a Universal/Hammer mashup sound bad to any kid who grew up watching old monster movies on TV?

The House That Dripped Blood was cute. You could see the twists coming a mile away - heck, they even wave to you as they come trundling near - but there is one genuinely creepy moment during the first tale. And what a cast! Cushing again, Christopher Lee, Denholm Elliot, Ingrid Pitt, Joss "Diplomatic Immunity" Ackland, and Jon Pertwee gurning to his heart's content. Still, I expected a bit more, from screenwriter Robert Bloch if not from Amicus. House is not something I feel the need to rush out and buy on DVD, but I'm certainly glad I saw it.

The lobby of the Portage was filled with vendor tables, apparently a fixture of these monthly mini-fests. There were some interesting items on offer, but given my financial situation I didn't want to poke around too much.

The only downside to the event was the fact that the films were projected from DVD. It's understandable - the screenings are organized by one fan as a labor of love - but a bit disappointing. The picture was a little soft and the colors were quite muted. Still, it was probably the best digital projection I've yet seen, particularly given such a large screen.

The theater itself was pretty impressive, a huge domed auditorium with staggered row seating. While it obviously has seen better days, I hadn't been so impressed with a movie venue since my first time at London's Coronet Cinema. You can check out pictures at the Portage's web page.

There's another triple horror bill on December 5th. It's sponsored by a different group so I'm hoping for a film screening instead of another digital projection. A few friends have expressed interest in attending with me this time, as we're ally pretty excited about [REC] 2, so my second excusion to the Portage should be even more fun than the first.

Saturday, November 21, 2009 Costumed Propaganda, Wave 2

Cover of Captain America #1 (volume 4). John Cassaday's covers for this series, which debuted shortly after 9/11, routinely evoked WWII propaganda art.

Cobraganda from Chris' Invincible Super-Blog

Another piece via Abduzeedo, this one by Raúl Vega.
It's an obvious riff on the Nova cover from yesterday's post.
(Which is only fair, since the Nova Corps is Marvel's swipe homage to the GLC.)

Entry to Something Awful's Supervillain Motivational Poster thread, attributed to BoldFrankensteinMir

Paul Sizer's re-imaginings of two obscure Golden Age heroes, created for a weekly meme at Warren Ellis' Whitechapel forum. Sizer's Black Angel illo is certainly the stronger of the pair, but his Flamingo is just too awesome not to share. I love the design of that holster!

Friday, November 20, 2009 Beware the Pishtaco!

From the BBC (with video at the link):
'Fat for cosmetics' murder suspects arrested in Peru

Some of the suspects were carrying bottles of fat when arrested

10:18 GMT, Friday, 20 November 2009

Four people have been arrested in Peru on suspicion of killing dozens of people in order to sell their fat and tissue for cosmetic uses in Europe.

The gang allegedly targeted people on remote roads, luring them with fake job offers before killing them and extracting their fat.

The liquidised product fetched $15,000 (£9,000) a litre and police suspect it was sold on to companies in Europe.

At least five other suspects, including two Italian nationals, remain at large.

Police said the gang could be behind the disappearances of up to 60 people in Peru's Huanuco and Pasco regions.

One of those arrested told police the ringleader had been killing people for their fat for more than three decades.

The gang has been referred to as the Pishtacos, after an ancient Peruvian legend of killers who attack people on lonely roads and murder them for their fat.

At a news conference in the capital, police showed reporters two bottles containing human body fat and images of one of the alleged victims.

One of the alleged killings is reported to have taken place in mid-September, with the person's body tissue removed for sale.

Cmdr Angel Toledo told Reuters news agency some of the suspects had "declared and stated how they murdered people with the aim being to extract their fat in rudimentary labs and sell it".

Police said they suspect the fat was sold to cosmetics and pharmaceutical companies in Europe, but have not confirmed any such connection.

Human fat is used in modern cosmetic procedures but in most cases it is the patient's own fat that is used and under strict legal guidelines.

Medical authorities have expressed scepticism about a black market for human fat, partly because of the wide availability of fat for use in surgical procedures.

Gen Felix Burga, head of Peru's police criminal division, said there were indications that "an international network trafficking human fat" was operating from Peru.

The first person was arrested earlier this month in a bus station in Lima, carrying a shipment of the fat.

The Associated Press news agency quoted Col Jorge Mejia as saying one of the suspects had described to police in detail how the victims were killed and their fat removed.

The suspect said the fat was then sold to intermediaries in Lima and that the gang's leader, Hilario Cudena, had been carrying out such murders for decades, AP reported.

The alleged buyers of the fat are also being hunted by police.

Color me flabbergasted. Pishtacos are real!

Urban legends about organ thieves are rife not only in Central and South America, but throughout the world. We've all heard the one about the bathtub full of ice and the missing kidney, haven't we? But tales of people being killed for their body fat is an almost uniquely Peruvian phenomenon, the sole province of a creature known as the pishtaco.

From Catharine R. Stimpson's forward to Cholas and Pishtacos by Mary Weismantel:
The pishtaco is a fantasy figure, a bogeyman. A Peruvian friend tells me that the adults would warn her that the "pishtaco" would get her is she did not behave... The pishtaco is nearly always a vampirelike white man, who roams the countryside and plunders the fat from Indian bodies, disemboweling and dismembering and raping the Indians as he does so... The exact representation of the pishtaco has varied over time. Its origin may have been the practice of colonizing Spanish soldiers who took Indian fat to help heal their wounds. In the eighteenth century, the pishtaco appeared as a priest with a knife, and then evolved into a man on horseback or in a powerful car. During the economic crisis of the 1980s, when rural residents immigrated to urban centers, the pishtaco reappeared as the sacojos, white medical technicians in dark suits who steal and dismember children.
Pishtacos appear as very large men, always tall and often stout. Their eyes are light and their skin is pale and covered with hair. They sport heavy beards, and almost always wear long overcoats to conceal the guns and long knives they inevitably have on them. Successful pishtacos wear leather clothes made from the skins of their victims. They can also be identified by their strange devices - automobiles, cameras, tape recorders, and the like.

Pishtacos are voracious in their appetites for food (human flesh in particular), drink (especially milk), and sex (they are notorious rapists). They will occasionally let female victims live to give birth to little pishtacquitos, who then accompany their father on his travels.

Pistacos are nocturnal hunters, wandering the lonely trails on horseback or in their cars, searching for victims. When a good prospect is located, the pishtaco puts them to sleep through the use of mesmerism, technology, or magic powders made from the genitals of their prey. The pishtaco then drags the unfortunate Indian back to its lair, traditionally a secret cave, where they are hung upside-down before their throat is slit and their precious fatty tissue drained out.

Some pishtacos are able to drain fat from a distance using a special device. Needles connected to the machine are inserted into an unconscious victim's buttocks and used to attune the device to that particular person. When the pishtaco has finished, the process has left no mark on the subject, who is invariably unaware that anything unusual has occured. However, a terrible fate is in store for them. Over the following days, the Indian's life force is drained away, causing them to weaken and slowly die.

The reasons why the pishtacos needs human fat have changed over the years. Anglo priests were said to use the fat to cast their church bells. White engineers required it to run their machinery. Sorcerers needed it for black magic, echoing Old World superstitions of witches using the fat of unbaptized children to enchant their flying broomsticks. And there were always tales of foreigners simply devouring the fat and washing it down with the victim's blood. Most recently, as evidenced by the article above, it has been established that human fat is needed to produce cosmetics and perform plastic surgery for wealthy Anglos. Whatever the stuff was actually used for, demand for it was so great that in the 80's and 90's, the Peruvian government attempted to erase its national debt by sending agents into the hills to "harvest" fat to sell to America - at least, that was the rumor.

Dealing with a pishtaco is pretty straightforward. The best course of action is to avoid traveling at night, especially alone. If approached by a pishtaco, do not let it come close enough to make eye contact or blow sleeping powder in your face. Never let it take your picture or record your voice, and always refuse its offers of money or other gifts. These creatures can be easily driven off by strength of numbers, especially if confronted during the day. After all, despite their size and uncanny habits they remain essentially human, and they can be killed like anyone else.

I first learned about the pishtaco some years ago, and it immediately became one of my favorite obscure bogies (in my defense, I wasn't aware of all that rapin' at the time). Clearly, the pishtaco has its roots in an exaggerated stereotype of the Anglo male - big, hairy, hungry, and horny. All of the pishtaco's traits and behaviors can be traced to the "odd" habits still exhibited by visitors to the Andes. Unfortunately, this has led to persecution and even violence against foreigners in rural areas of the country.

The pishtaco has made few incursions into American pop culture, at least as far as I've noticed; a couple of short stories here and there, an entry in a supplement for Eden Studios' terrific All Flesh Must Be Eaten RPG, and I think an appearance as a "monster of the week" for some TV show or other (though I can't recall which offhand). But now they're likely to crash right into the mainstream after inspiring some grisly real-life murders.

I have to assume that these dimwits bought into the legends and believed that there was a lucrative market for human fat, only to get busted a short while after setting up shop. I can't imagine they'd have been able to run a profitable endeavor for over thirty years, as suggested in the article. At best, I can see a sort of mini tulip mania, where various Peruvian ne'er-do-wells bought and sold the greasy stuff amongst themselves, confident that someday one of them would be able to leverage it to an outsider and become set for life. I guess we'll find out for sure if and when the rumored buyers are apprehended.

In a way, I kind of hope the experts are wrong and there actually is a high demand for human fat. All my financial woes would be over!



Cholas and Pishtacos: Stories of Race and Sex in the Andes (Mary Weismantel, University Of Chicago Press, 2001)

The Baby Train and Other Lusty Urban Legends (Jan Harold Brunvand, Norton, 1994)

Atlas of the Walking Dead (Graeme Davis, Eden Studios, 2003): The source of the image above.


"Organ Theft Narratives" (Veronique Campion-Vincent, Western Folklore, Winter 1997): The article is available on-line here.

Costumed Propaganda, Wave 1

Cover to Nova #22 by Juan Doe.

Dave Perillo for the Philadelphia Cartoonist Society's Watchmen tribute.
Dave's deviantART gallery is keen!

Fan art by Heartattackjack via Abduzeedo.
Needs a question mark.

Cover to Avengers: the Initiative #28 by Matteo de Longis.
I'd like to have included some DC covers, but I couldn't come up with any.

Piece by Paul Rogers for Pixar's The Incredibles.
Included in his on-line portfolio of "proletariat" posters.

Ryan Harris' way-cool contribution to March Modok Madness.

Thursday, November 19, 2009 Things I Found Looking For Something Else #8

Star Wars-themed hoodies from Ecko.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009 Manatee Spooks Retiree

From WTSP, Tampa, Florida:
Mysterious sea creature spotted in Madeira Beach canal

Madeira Beach, Florida -- Russ Sittloh says a mysterious serpent-like creature that's at least 20 feet long has been swimming in the canal behind his Madeira Beach home and he wants to find out what it is.

"The head will come up and then it will disappear and then the next thing you know, you'll see a couple rolls behind it," Sittloh said.

Sittloh has named the creature "Normandy Nessie" after the road he lives on. The 78-year-old retired engineer has also set up a camera to capture video of the creature and so far he's recorded "Normandy Nessie" six times.

Photo Gallery: Sittloh's images of Normandy Nessie

"When I first saw it (in April) I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was so unreal."

But Sittloh is not the only person who claims to have seen a mysterious serpent-like creature swimming around Madeira Beach. Bill Van Aken and his wife, Maria, say they have both seen it.

"I didn't see the tail come out of the water like Russ did, but I could see the wake that it was leaving. It had to be at least 15-feet or longer," Bill Van Aken said.

After watching some of the videos Sittloh has recorded, a biologist with Florida Fish and Wildlife says the creature in question appears to be a manatee.

"Like I said, the rate of speed and the size looks indicative of a large adult manatee taking a break and going back down," Andy Garrett with FWC said.

But Sittloh insists it's not a manatee. "I've swam with manatees, I've swam with sharks, I've swam with sea snakes, there is no way it's a manatee."

Sittloh says it's possible the creature could be an anaconda but he says "Normandy Nessie" has a tail fin that's not consistent with snakes.

You can find Sittloh's videos by going to and searching for "Normandy Nessie."

Sittloh adds he's seen at least two of the sea creatures and he's concerned they could be dangerous.

The photos are just as compelling and definitive as you'd imagine.

If it is real, what the hell's the idea of giving American jobs to foreign monsters? Okay, Champ is probably too expensive (especially after his shout-out in a recent episode of Venture Bros.), but what about Tahoe Tessie or Florida's own Tarpie? Outsourcing is getting way out of hand!

Your Kung Fu is No Good

WARNING: There's an image at the end of this post that may be too intense for some of you sissies. From the Seattle Times via
Would-be ninja impaled by metal fence

Posted by Sara Jean Green
November 17, 2009 at 7:39 AM

This never would've happened to Bruce Lee.

Seattle police say an intoxicated 25-year-old man, who told officers he believed he was a ninja, was impaled on a metal spike Monday night after a failed attempt to jump a 5-foot fence.

Around 11:15 p.m., officers responded to the 600 block of Seventh Avenue after a 41-year-old man called police to say he had been assaulted, said police spokeswoman Renee Witt. Officers arrived and found the impaled would-be ninja, Witt said.

It turns out the older man, who was heavily intoxicated, tried to go into a sports bar in the 600 block of King Street, Witt said. The younger man, who isn't a bar employee, barred the man from going inside-- and an argument between the two men escalated into a fight.

At one point, the men chased each other in the street, she said.

In an attempt to get away, the younger man "thought he'd basically be able to jump over this fence, and he didn't quite make it," Witt said.

As a police account of the incident notes, "Clearly he was overconfident in his abilities."

That's when the older man called police to say he'd been assaulted.

As police arrived to search for a suspect, one officer heard the 25-year-old's screams and found him stuck on the fence with the metal spike jutting out from his buttock, Witt said. The man was bleeding profusely.

He was taken to Harborview Medical Center, she said. Questioned at the hospital, the man told police he believed he was a ninja.

Since the two men "were in the middle of the street, chasing each other around," Witt said officers determined neither man would be arrested on suspicion of assault.

The one time I was trapped in a cemetery after dark, I had a real hard time making the jump off the mausoleum roof and over the fence to freedom. I kept visualizing getting impaled on the wrought-iron spikes. Years later, I came across this picture in the Fortean Times:

Yeah, that could have been me.

Getting in the buttocks is bad, getting in the face is worse, but a nude bather in the UK may have had it worse of all. Yes, the story is exactly what you think it is.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 Dinner Knives, Part the Second

From yesterday's Daily Herald:
Elgin cops: Machete-wielding robber stole tacos

By Harry Hitzeman | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 11/16/2009 4:59 PM

A machete-wielding man on Sunday robbed a man in Elgin of his taco dinner, police said.

The victim was walking back to his vehicle near Villa and Fulton streets at about 10:04 p.m. after buying 16 tacos for $41 when a man in a black ski mask and yellow hoodie came running out from a vacant building in the 800 block of Villa with a machete.

"He was walking back (to his vehicle) with his tacos. A guy came out with a machete and took his tacos," said Elgin Deputy Chief Jeff Swoboda.

The victim was not injured in the incident, Swoboda said.

The suspect is described as a Hispanic man about 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-9 who left in a 1990s light green Chrysler or Plymouth, police said.

16 tacos for $41? The man was robbed well before the dude in the ski mask showed up. Even if it were four taco dinners, he's still paying too much - the best places I know charge much less than $10 for a complete taco dinner, and I know where to get some damn good tacos.

Now I want a taco.

If this gentleman asks for your tacos, just hand them over.

Monday, November 16, 2009 Dinner Knives, Part One

From the BBC:
'Body sold' to Russia kebab shop

Police in Russia have arrested three homeless men suspected of killing a man, eating part of the body and selling other parts to a kebab shop.

The men were held in the city of Perm, some 1,400km (870 miles) east of Moscow, local investigators said.

Their statement said that the suspects had targeted the 25-year-old victim out of "personal hostility".

It was not clear when the incident occurred. The men - who have not been named - have been charged with murder.

The investigators said on Friday that the body of the man had been found in a forested area near a public transport stop in Perm.

They said the three men attacked their victim with knives and a hammer.

"After carrying out the attack, the corpse was dismembered. Part of it was eaten and part was also sold to a kebab and pie kiosk," their statement said.

It was not immediately clear if any customers had been served.

And now with a comment on today's headline is Evil Fozzie Bear:

"Thank you thank you thank you! Hey - I ran into a Russian buddy today and he seemed really down. "What's eating you?" I asked. He said, "Everyone!" Ha! Yeah, yeah, so I said, "Well, there has to be some silver lining." And he said, "Well, no matter how mad my friends were at me, they never doubted my good taste!" Get it? Good taste! Ahhh! Fun-nee! I guess if you're hungry in Russia and you don't want a keBob, you can have a keLarry or a keDoug instead! In Soviet Russia, kebab shop eats you! Wakka-wakka-wakka!"

Saturday, November 14, 2009 Zombie Outbreak at the Portage Theater

So last night I was bored out of my mind and was looking for something to do. I was checking on-line to see if there were any cool midnight shows this weekend, and came across this:

The idea of a zombie film festival is mighty tempting. However, I've little interest in zero-budget amateur horror films at this point. I don't have a lot of time left on this earth, and there are plenty of other movies I want to experience before I subject myself to yet another work by a guy with a camcorder and a lifetime subscription to Fangoria.

That said, the festival organizers have made some pretty interesting selections. The centerpiece of the festival is Pathogen, a zombie movie written and directed by a twelve-year-old girl, and Zombie Girl: the Movie, a documentary about the making of Pathogen. Also screening is Colin, which is already notorious for it's incredibly low budget (around $70 US) and has earned some good buzz for its take on the genre, a zombie apocalypse from the point-of-view of one of the undead. If I was keen on checking out some amateur horror flicks, these would be them.

The final film playing tonight is Return of the Living Dead, one of my all-time faves. It just blew us away when we first saw it on the big screen all those years ago. Not only were the zombies fast (a cinematic first, as the nipple-slicing, oatmeal-faced mutants of Nightmare City don't count), they were smart and damn near indestructible. To say they freaked us out is an understatement. To say that we found Linea Quigley's turn as Trash "intriguing" is an even bigger understatement. The film's wicked sense of humor, killer soundtrack, and punk rockers that actually looked like punks are the icing on a particularly delicious cake.

So it's a pretty cool line-up, and I appreciate the effort that the festival organizers are making to showcase underground films deserving of a wider audience. But I just can't sit through six hours of amateur horror films at my age. And I'm not comfortable spending that much time in a dark room with people made up as zombies.

The good news is that this has alerted me to some really exciting screenings coming to the Portage Theater. Next Saturday is a Hammer/Amicus double bill, and I am so there. I have never seen a Hammer film on the big screen before, and I am excited even if it is one of their lesser efforts (The Evil of Frankenstein). And on December 5th, the Portage is showing [REC] 2 along with Night of the Creeps and The Blair Witch Project. I thought the first [REC] was terrific and I'm looking forward to the sequel. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit I haven't seen the other two films despite their cult status, so they're a pretty big bonus. Now if only I can cajole someone into going with me...

Friday, November 13, 2009 Spider-Man Arrested!

From the Daily Bugle - er, the LA Times:
Hollywood Spider-Man impersonator caught in legal web

By Andrew Blankstein
November 12, 2009

A Spider-Man impersonator was arrested on outstanding criminal warrants Wednesday after an incident in which he allegedly slugged a man near the Hollywood & Highland complex, police said.

It was not immediately clear what led to the altercation, which was reported about 12:30 p.m. in the 6800 block of Hollywood Boulevard. But it's the latest in a string of incidents involving movie characters and celebrity look-alikes who vie for space -- and attention -- along the tourist-filled corridor that includes Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

Christopher Loomis, 39, was being held on outstanding misdemeanor warrants in lieu of $5,500 bail, police said.

The incident began when Los Angeles Police Department patrol officers received a radio call reporting battery by a man in a Spider-Man costume. When they arrived, they encountered four people dressed as the web-slinging crusader.

"They stopped one, it wasn't him," said LAPD Lt. Beverly Lewis. "They stopped the second, and it was the suspect."

The victim, who said he had been hit on the face and arms, refused to press charges against the costumed impersonator. But Lewis said that when they discovered the warrants, Loomis was booked. She said it appeared that the suspect and victim knew each other.

Costumed impersonators portraying the likes of Elvis, Superman, SpongeBob SquarePants and others have worked on Hollywood Boulevard for years. They collect tips from tourists by posing for pictures or performing in front of the theater.

But sometimes the fun has turned violent. Tourists have complained that some costumed characters become abusive when the tourists refuse to pay them to pose for pictures. There have also been brawls. Two years ago, authorities convened a "superhero summit" designed to reduce tensions among the performers.

The meeting was prompted in part by an incident in which LAPD officers arrested a "Star Wars" street performer in his furry brown Chewbacca costume for allegedly head-butting a tour guide who complained about the impersonator's treatment of Japanese tourists.

In other incidents, actors dressed as the superhero Mr. Incredible, Elmo the Muppet and the dark-hooded character from the movie "Scream" were arrested for aggressive begging. A man dressed as the horror film character Freddy Krueger was also taken into custody for allegedly stabbing someone, although no charges were filed.

"Typical Hollywood; it's always something different," said Lewis, an officer at the LAPD's Hollywood station. As she spoke, Loomis, still wearing his Spider-Man outfit, sat nearby, handcuffed to a bench.

Ways this story could have been improved:
  1. If the the other guy involved in the incident had been dressed as Wolverine. And had gotten his ass kicked.
  2. If both parties involved in the scuffle had actual superpowers
  3. If the Spider-Man in question had been this guy:

And now I'm picturing Johnny LaRue in the costume, and the whole thing as an episode of Street Beef gone horribly wrong (in other words, a typical episode of Street Beef).

Sunday, November 1, 2009 The Day After

It's time to relax! Hope everyone had fun this weekend!