I wanted to get up early and get to the gym due to a couple of slack weeks. I’ve had a niggling sore throat for a while now. Not Covid, but enough to make me stay close to home and pull out of a few screenings when I wasn’t feeling a hundred percent. It’s one of those lingering ones that’s worst when you first wake up in them morning, phlegmy and gravel-voiced, but fades as the day picks up steam. But it stuck around long enough to make me wonder: is this forever? You may mock, young’un, but at the age of 45 I’m keeping a keen ear cocked for the first chronic condition to hove into view.
Anyway, a finger on the monkey’s paw closed and I woke up at 2.30am. It’s now an hour later and I’m hitting the keys just to wake my brain up. I might try and do this on the reg. The blogging, not the 2.30am sleeplessness.
I’m currently reading (among many other things) Ramsey Campbell’s 1986 novel The Hungry Moon, in which a bunch of Christian happy clappers take over a moorland village, only to discover that the old folk ritual centred around a nearby sinkhole may be a pagan remnant, but it exists for a reason and, as they used to say in claymation classic The Trapdoor, there’s something down there. I’ve never read a whole lot of Campbell apart from a bunch of his short stories across countless anthologies, but I’m aiming to fix that this year. The Hungry Moon is solid folk horror fun so far. I had a little trouble plugging in for the first few chapters, but I’ve found the groove now, and it’s a page turner.
Gonna be a whole lot of folk horror in my diet for the foreseeable future, largely thanks to Kier-La Janisse’s Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched, an incredible documentary on the form. It’s currently streaming on Shudder and you should definitely give it a spin. Over three hours long, it’s exhaustive but digestible, and makes a strong effort to spill the banks of English and look at the folk traditions of other countries and cultures. If you’re feeling saucy, stump up for Severin’s All The Haunts Be Ours: A Compendium Of Folk Horror box set, which includes the doco, a wealth of supplemental material, and 19 (!) films from around the world, including a fair smattering of Australian folk horror (I’m now on my third copy of Celia). It’s a post-grad course in a box.
Thanks to the miracle of the internet you can watch all of The Phil Silvers Show, aka Sergeant Bilko, on YouTube for free. Widely regarded as one of the greatest sitcoms of all time, this is manna from the Golden Age of Television – give it a spin and see where many of the conventions we take for granted were forged. It’s also funny as hell, which helps.
In my never-ending quest to find music to listen to while writing that won’t overwhelm me with lyrics I find myself in weird, barely mapped corners of the genre map from time to time, and my current stomping ground is Bootgaze. Think desert soundscapes, lonely highways, Acid Western soundtracks, philosophical cowpokes, lonesome murderers, burnished mesas against deep indigo starscapes. I think it barely counts as a subgenre; there aren’t enough people doing it (still, Grebo was maybe two dozen people at most). There doesn’t seem to be much writing about it so far, although this fella has some notes.
The “vibe shift” article doing the rounds is hilarious, not because the people in it are insufferable (they are), but because if this kind of culture-battening came to us from HST a few decades ago, or Joan Didion, or one of the other accredited observers of the edge who found respectability through longevity, we’d have eaten it up with a spoon. It’s actually good to be discomfited by whatever the younger generation are up to, their hedonism and self-absorption; it’s part of the cycle, the system is working. I’ll take a hundred Meg Superstar Princesses over one Charlie Kirk any day. At least trust fund kids share their drugs for clout.
And that’s about your lot. I’m off to lift weights.