Archive for January, 2019

Project Blue Book is still solid TV entertainment

Posted in Media Macabre on January 25, 2019 by Occult Detective

Catching up on Project Blue Book, History Channel’s retelling (mostly reimagining) of the US Air Force’s investigations into UFO sightings from 1952 – 1969, the series continues to be a treat. Admittedly, the stories have been as far from reality as one can manage, but entertaining, none-the-less.

The show is big on atmosphere and Aidan Gillen continues to impress, as does Ksensia Solo as the spy keeping tabs on Dr. Hynek’s wife and milking her for information.

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The second episode followed the case of The Flatwoods Monster. The only similarities between the show and the actual case lies in the fact that a meteorite crashed in rural West Virginia, near Flatwoods, and some people reported it as a flying saucer crash and a “monster” was seen after.

Eyewitness sightings detailed a crude sort of robot, as opposed to History’s tree creature.

The Air Force reported the fireball was a meteorite, as confirmed by an Ohio Astronomy Club. The show followed that example, but through in more Men in Black activity, the mysterious tarped saucer at the end, not to mention the Russian Agent’s attempt at seducing Mrs. Hynek.

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The third episode, “The Lubbock Lights”, hews a little closer to the actual events, but three in and we’re seeing a theme — government cover-up and conspiracy is the order of the day, and it makes for exciting tv.

The official culprit in Lubbock was plovers, small birds flying in formation, the city lights reflecting off their white underbellies. Of course Lieutenant Ruppelt, of Projects Grudge and Blue Book fame, disagreed with the assessment.

Ruppelt, prior to his death from a heart attack at the age of 37, called the UFO phenomena a “space age myth”.

Project Blue Book is far closer to fiction than fact, and I am more than fine with that. While I have long had a fascination with so-called UFO phenomena, I am enjoying this X-Files-esque retread. It reminds me of Project U.F.O., Jack Webb’s short lived series from the late 70s that was must-see-tv for me.

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Happy Birthday, Robert E. Howard

Posted in Liber et Audax on January 22, 2019 by Occult Detective

Robert E HowardToday marks the 113th anniversary of the nativity of my favorite author — Robert E. Howard.

In, what is arguably his finest work, Beyond the Black River, he wrote, “Barbarism is the natural state of mankind. Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.”

In a letter to his friend, Tevis Clyde Smith, he asked, “When a nation forgets her skill in war, when her religion becomes a mockery, when the whole nation becomes a nation of money-grabbers, then the wild tribes, the barbarians drive in… Who will our invaders be? From whence will they come?”

I wonder what Howard would think of what we have become? I suppose he would consider us soft and ripe to be overrun. A society built on keyboard posturing, where extremists on both sides of the fence froth at the mouth — close-minded, insecure — desperate to curry the favor of their peers by spewing as much hated as they can muster, the glow of their computer monitors and cell phone screens illuminating the enraged faces of unrecognizable monstrosities.

Howard saw the truth of it.

Robert E. Howard wrote with a fiery imagination, thundering out kinetic and visceral prose that spoke to the human condition, that evoked raw, unbridled emotion.

He left us far too soon, but on his own terms, I suppose.

Regardless, today we raise a horn in his honor.

Happy Birthday, Two-Gun.

True Detective resurrects the Ghost of WM3

Posted in Media Macabre on January 14, 2019 by Occult Detective

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Season One of True Detective was brilliant television and, despite some controversy regarding Nic Pizzolatto’s appropriation of the works of Alan Moore and Thomas Ligotti, was near universally acknowledged as being fresh, original, and disturbing.

It was like Twin Peaks and the Wire had a lovechild.

Season Two? Not so much. Oh, it had its moments, but it was, ultimately, a disjointed mess, with the best bits, I suspect, stripped from the script in an effort to remove the more ‘occult’ elements, elements that, in large part, made Season One so intoxicating.

Now, after a long hiatus, True Detective returns and it begs the question — can Season Three capture some of that same black magic that made its debut outing such a critical success?

Let’s find out.

The Great War and Modern Memory

What we have, initially, is Pizzolatto’s reimagining of the West Memphis 3 case, aka the Robin Hood Murders, and the subject of a true crime book (and movie) titled Devil’s Knot.

The root of the story seems to revolve around the disappearance of a brother and sister, ages 12 and 10, in an area known as the Devil’s Den. Detective Hays is interviewed in 1990 and 2015 regarding his involvement in the case back in 1980, the first by prosecutors and the second by ‘True Criminal’, which is, I presume, a tv docu-series.

Hays is a former long range reconnaissance and refers to himself as a tracker. He’s good at what he does. He sets out on his own and discovers the boy, Will, inside a cave, posed in prayer. The girl was nowhere to be found, though we learn that her fingerprints turn up in 1990.

Also of note, two cornhusk dolls, dressed as brides, were found, almost like breadcrumbs, leading Hays to Will’s body.

Set in Arkansas, I have to admit, they got the look right. The accents? Not even close. I know. My family is all from that nape of the woods and I spent a lot of time down that way, especially from the early-70s until the mid-80s.

The acting is solid. I expected as much from Mahershala Ali, but I was pleasantly surprised by Stephen Dorff’s Dennis Quaid impersonation.

I thought the mystery unfolded slow and easy, and enjoyed the three decade plot device.

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Now, let’s talk briefly about the first thing I took note of, at least in regard to Easter Eggs. In Will’s room, Hays pauses over an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons book titled ‘The Forests of Leng’. Trust me, no such book or module exists.

Leng made me think of two things right away. 1.) Lovecraft’s Plateau of Leng and 2.) George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire, where Leng is a jungle island littered with ancient ruins. Martin almost certainly titled the isle as a nod to Lovecraft.

Leng was described by the sorcerer Abdul Alhazred as a place where different realities converge.

One final [piece that bears mentioning. The children’s parents were estranged. For a time, the wife’s cousin was living with them, sleeping in Will’s room. When Hays was searching the boy’s room he found a peephole drilled into his closet, allowing someone, presumably the adult cousin, to spy on the little girl’s room.

On to episode two…

Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye

“I like Batman and Silver Surfer.”

The second episode doubled down on the slow burn. Oh, there were plenty of red herrings and false leads, seeds of pedophile rings and conspiracies, but all in all, this felt like a character piece.

Where the first outing had a Twin Peaks meets Stranger Things (kids on bikes and D&D) vibe, this one hewed a little closer to noir procedural.

We get a richer glimpse into the lives of all involved, and we see new faces that are sure to play a bigger role as things unfold.

The three biggest things for me was Hays and Amelia’s relationship, the ransom note, and Hays’ Alzheimer’s (or dementia).

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We’re watching everyone on edge as the community and the police involved begin to unravel.

I’m still excited by the show, but I wonder if it would have been better served to have shown episode one by its lonesome, then the second week dropped two and three together? That first episode had all the water-cooler talking points laid out, while the second sort of defused that somewhat.

Regardless, I’ll be there, hungrily, next week to see where this dark road will lead us.

 

History’s Project Blue Book

Posted in Media Macabre on January 10, 2019 by Occult Detective

What follows is a true story.

In 1976 I was a fifth grader at Converse Elementary. We were housed in the old Converse High School, about a decade before they razed that beautiful building in favor of progress and cost reduction. It still doesn’t sit well with me, but that’s another matter.

In that glorious school year we were given the opportunity to ‘test out’ of math for the second semester. Several students were falling behind, so they decided to focus on those lagging by letting those who were getting it to do something else… a research project, the subject of which would be voted on by the group of those separated from those struggling.

In the interest of full disclosure: I cheated on the test. And so I was set free from the constraints of elementary mathematics and thrust into adolescent academia.

projblubkI petitioned the dozen or so who tested out of math for us to focus our research on the UFO phenomena. It, along with cryptids, the paranormal, and the occult, was my obsession. The students agreed and I presented my case to our teacher, Mr. Piper.

He agreed and we spent the next six weeks in an abandoned classroom on the third floor mapping out our theories on “flying saucers” and “little green men”. It was an amazing adventure and one I hold near and dear.

My bible was the Brad Steiger edited Project Blue Book. It, along with various UFO magazines and my collection of tabloid and newspaper clippings, made up our source material.

We plotted sightings on two large maps: one of the US and the other of the world. We filled not one, but three chalkboards with info, and then compiled it all into a report that we presented to the school.

Like I said, it was an amazing adventure and a memory I cherish.

bluebookFlash forward more than forty years later, and I’m watching Project Blue Book, a History Channel TV series starring Aiden Gillen as J. Allen Hynek, one of my childhood heroes.

The series debut, titled “The Fuller Dogfight”, played fast and loose with the facts. Blue Book was actually Hynek’s third UFO project for the Air Force for starters.

That being said, I loved it. Gillen was remarkable and Neal McDonough realy chewed the scenery whenever he took the screen. all in all, a solid start to a fictitious romp through early Ufology. As an old school X-Files fan, well, I can overlook the inaccuracies and instead allow myself to be immersed in the fantasy of what might have been.

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Fox Mulder was fond of the mantra, “The Truth is Out There”. Well, there’s little to no truth in Project Blue Book, but I’m all in. There’s a new “occult detective” in town, and his name is J. Allen Hynek.

9th Annual Occult Detective Awards

Posted in Occult Detective Awards on January 3, 2019 by Occult Detective

9thODA

BEST OCCULT DETECTIVE NOVEL
2010 — A Gathering of Crows by Brian Keene
2011 — Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis
2012 — Tortured Spirits (Jake Helman Files) by Gregory Lamberson
2013 — Love is the Law by Nick Mamatas
2014 — The Last of the Albatwitches by Brian Keene
2015 — Human Monsters (Jake Helman Files) by Gregory Lamberson
2016 — The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost
2017 — HeX-Rated by Jason Ridler
2018 — The Outsider by Stephen King

The-Outsider-Stephen-King

 

BEST OCCULT DETECTIVE SHORT STORY
2010 — Ghosts Templar (Jason Dark: Ghost Hunter) by Guido Henkel
2011 — The Hellfire Club by William Meikle
2012 — Gathered Dust by W.H. Pugmire
2013 — In the Dark and Quiet by Joshua Reynolds
2014 — Bedlam in Yellow by William Meikle
2015 — Seeking Whom He May Devour by Joshua Reynolds
2016 — The Watcher at the Gate by William Meikle
2017 — When Soft Voices Die by Amanda DeWees
2018 — The Case of the Black Lodge by Aaron Vlek

Freeman, ODQ Vlek

 

BEST OCCULT DETECTIVE ANTHOLOGY/MAGAZINE
2010 — The Black Spiral: Twisted Tales of Terror, edited by Richard D. Weber
2011 — House of Fear, edited by Jonathon Oliver
2012 — A Cat of Nine Tales, edited by Tracy DeVore and Thaddeus Sexton
2013 — Weird Detectives, edited by Paula Guran
2014 — The Weiser Book of Horror and the Occult, edited by Lon Milo DuQuette
2015 — A Grimoire of Eldritch Inquests, edited by Joshua Reynolds & Miles Boothe
2016 — The Weiser Book of the Fantastic and Forgotten, edited by Judika Illes
2017 — The Weiser Book of Occult Detectives, edited by Judika Illes
2018 — Occult Detective Quarterly: Number 4 / Spring 2018

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BEST OCCULT DETECTIVE AUDIO DRAMA/PODCAST
2010 — Edict Zero-FIS by Slipgate Nine Entertainment
2011 — Edict Zero-FIS by Slipgate Nine Entertainment
2012 — Operation Victor by Big Finish
2013 — Occult of Personality with Greg Kaminsky
2014 — Rune Soup with Gordon White
2015 — Rune Soup with Gordon White
2016 — The Horror Show with Brian Keene
2017 — Rune Soup with Gordon White
2018 — The Joe Rogan Experience

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BEST OCCULT DETECTIVE COMIC
2010 — John Constantine: Hellblazer
2011 — League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century – 1969
2012 — League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century – 2009
2013 — Drumhellar
2014 — The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
2015 — Providence
2016 — Providence
2017 — Black Magick
2018 — Hellblazer: 30th Anniversary Celebration

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BEST OCCULT DETECTIVE MOVIE
2010 — Inception
2011 — Drive Angry
2012 — Solomon Kane
2013 — Odd Thomas
2014 — Deliver Us From Evil
2015 — Bone Tomahawk
2016 — Dr. Strange
2017 — A Dark Song
2018 — Occult Angel

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BEST OCCULT DETECTIVE TV SERIES
2010 — Supernatural
2011 — Fringe
2012 — 666 Park Avenue
2013 — Hannibal
2014 — True Detective
2015 — Constantine
2016 — The X-Files: Season 10
2017 — Lucifer
2018 — Strange Angel

Strange-Angel

 

BEST OCCULT DETECTIVE REALITY SERIES
2010 — Destination Truth
2011 — Brad Meltzer’s Decoded
2012 — Deals from the Dark Side
2013 — Haunted Highway
2014 — The Curse of Oak Island
2015 — Expedition Unknown
2016 — The Curse of Oak Island
2017 — Expedition Unknown
2018 — The Occult Collector

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BEST OCCULT NON-FICTION
2010 — Perdurabo, Revised & Expanded Edition: The Life of Aleister Crowley by Richard Kaczynski, PhD
2011 — Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter by Josh Gates
2012 — In the Center of the Fire: A Memoir of the Occult by James Wasserman
2013 — The Best of the Equinox, vol 2: Dramatic Calls by Aleister Crowley & Lon Milo DuQuette
2014 — Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World by Gary Lachman
2015 — H.P. Lovecraft & the Black Magickal Tradition by John L. Steadman
2016 — The English Magic Tarot by Rex Van Ryn, Steve Dooley, & Andy Letcher
2017 — Getting Higher: The Manual of Psychedelic Ceremony by Julian Vayne
2018 — John Dee and the Empire of Angels by Jason Louv

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THE MANLY WADE WELLMAN AWARD
2010 — Brian Keene
2011 — William Meikle
2012 — Gregory Lamberson
2013 — Tim Prasil
2014 — John Constantine
2015 — Miles Boothe
2016 — Sam Gafford, John Linwood Grant, Travis Neisler, and Dave Brzeski
2017 — Joshua Reynolds
2018 — Charles R Rutledge

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