Thursday, December 26, 2013

Strange Night Shots at Boulder City Pet Cemetery

This is the first photo, unedited.
I am not a paranormal investigator. I have no interest in paranormal investigating. I enjoy these types of TV shows as much as anyone else, but that’s about it. I partake of paranormal shows as entertainment. It isn’t that I don’t believe in the supernatural at all, I simply take these types of things with a grain of salt.

Earlier this month I wrote an article on examiner.com about the Boulder City Pet Cemetery and got some great pictures in the late afternoon. I decided to return to the pet cemetery at night to see if I could get some good nighttime photos. The setting is perfect; rustic old graves in the middle of the desert make for a very dark, gothic subject. Just the type of pictures I love to take.

I took a friend with me on this outing. At the time it was mainly for company, but looking back I am glad I was not alone. I did not feel anything macabre at the cemetery during the day. Upon visiting after dark, my main concern was coyotes, or even mountain lions, that could easily be in the area.

First photo, Color enhanced to show detail.
To be honest, the only time during the night that I felt at all uneasy was while taking these two photos. While setting up my tripod, both my friend and I heard something moving in the distance. It was windy and we thought we had debunked the noise as being a branch from a nearby bush hitting a short metal fence someone erected around their pet’s grave.  In retrospect, the sound was coming from the direction that the eyes appear to be coming from.

I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary until a few days later when I finally found time to sit down and edit the photos. That’s when I noticed what looked like a green face with glowing eyes behind the grave marker. Then I noticed that there were three sets of eyes in the second photo taken of the grave marker.

My camera has never done anything like this before. I have taken many nighttime shots with it. There is nothing that could have caused the green light to even be there, let alone blur into something like this. There was no lighting used except for the lights from the moon and the solar-powered lights on the grave. In fact, I did not even have a flashlight with me. The moon provided all the light needed to find our way around. It should also be noted that I had just done a similar nighttime shoot at Fox Ridge Park in Henderson for my article about the demon-child who supposedly haunts the swings there. Absolutely nothing abnormal appeared in any of those photos.
Second photo, unedited. 
Three sets of "eyes" can be seen near the "2012" area.


What I find the most interesting is that it is not just one photo. The same phenomenon can be seen in the second photo, as well. The eyes are a little closer to the camera, and you can see one set is hovering in front of the grave marker. The third photo was taken about ten or fifteen minutes later on our way back out of the cemetery. Nothing appears in this one even though it was taken in the same lighting.


I have to say, looking at ghost pictures online is one thing; you don’t know who took the picture, if they have something to gain form it, or if their camera was malfunctioning, etc. It is quite another when it was you who took the picture on your own camera. I know that there is nothing but miles of open desert between the cemetery and Boulder City. I know that my camera has never malfunctioned or taken any similar photos before. Most importantly, I know I didn’t fake or Photoshop the pictures. That’s what makes this so unsettling.



This is one of the other photos taken that night. The lights of Boulder City can be seen in the background.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Olentzero, the Christmas Jentilak

Olentzero is synonymous with Christmas to the Basque people. He is one of the last surviving relics of pre-Christian pagan beliefs. There are numerous differing legends and practices about Olentzero; almost every Basque village had its own variation. In many ways he is similar to other European counties’ “Father Christmas,” but in just as many ways he is a completely unique character to Basque folklore.

Originally he was a giant, or jentilak, who lived in the mountains. He was the last surviving member of a tribe of giants who either died with the birth of Christ, or simply left to avoid being Christianized. Sometimes called Olentzero of the red eyes, he would cut the throat of children who broke the fast. In other variations, he would kill anyone who ate too much on Christmas Eve, which was traditionally a day of fasting. He is often portrayed as being drunk, slouched in a chair with an empty bottle in his hand. He is usually dressed like a peasant and is always very rustic.

In some villages, a figurine of Olentzero holding a sickle is hung over the fireplace, which is supposed to bring good luck. Olentzero is so closely associated with Christmas that the Basque term “Olentzeroren kondaira” can be translated both as “History of Olentzero” and “History of Christmas.”

Though many versions include a violent personality, not all of the stories about Olentzero are frightening. In one of the more common Basque fairytales about him told today, he is a simple carpenter who is made immortal by a fairy so that he can always make toys to deliver to Basque children on Christmas.

Olentzero sits under a Christmas tree.
Mari Domingi and a galtzagorri can be seen behind him. 
Olentzero is increasingly becoming more like Santa Claus, as can be seen in the addition of him coming down a chimney. He is sometimes shown as having a soot-covered face as a result. He is more often being portrayed as an older white-haired man, whereas he traditionally was a bit younger and had black hair and beard, or even no beard at all.

Santa has elves, Olentzero has the galtzagorris. They are magical beings the size of a pin cushion that work nonstop at a fast speed. They can complete any task in one night. They will appear in Christmas parades in the entourage of Olentzero. It is implied that they assist Olentzero in making the toys for Christmas.

In recent years, Olentzero has been accompanied by Mari Domingi, a female farmer who frequently appeared in Olentzero stories but usually didn’t play a specific role in them. Today, she is sort of like a Mrs. Claus. Her name translates as “marriage,” and she is frequently portrayed as wearing a traditional Basque wedding dress. Perhaps someday there will be little Olentzeros?



Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sloan Canyon

I recently began writing for examiner.com as a freelance journalist. Today, my first article with them went live. I will be focusing on the unique places and people in the Las Vegas and Southern Nevada area (my official title is “Las Vegas Places and Faces Examiner”). I have wanted to write about our local oddities and unique history for some time and this seems to be a good medium to do so through. Blame it on the scorching desert sun, but there is never a shortage of eccentrics here; from Howard Hughes to Lonnie Hammargren to Scotty’s Castle in nearby Death Valley, Southern Nevada is a mecca for the bizarre.  


The link to my first article is below. It’s about Sloan Canyon, a local spot loaded with Native American petroglyphs, or rock art. Sloan Canyon has one of the highest concentrations of petroglyphs in North America! I have attached a few photos I took there as well.

Here's the link:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"The Messenger" by Algernon Blackwood


I recently came across this overlooked short story of Blackwood’s and immediately realized that it read much like a Lovecraft tale. Of course, any Lovecraft geek knows that Blackwood was a strong influence on the younger author, so such a finding is not surprising. Nonetheless, this little tale has gone unnoticed as a possible inspiration for Lovecraft’s cosmic horror.

“The Messenger” is also very similar to Guy de Maupassant’s “Le Horla,” which is a known influence of Lovecraft. Both feature an otherworldly visitor. However, the messenger does not seem to be as malicious as the Horla, though the story ends before we know for sure what the messenger is here for. Also, the narrator of both tales could easily be insane, the entire thing a delusion of a fevered mind.


Due to its short length, I will reproduce the tale in its entirety below.


* * * * *


THE MESSENGER 

by 

Algernon Blackwood 

(1912)

Illustration by W. Graham Robertson from the original publication



I HAVE never been afraid of ghostly things, attracted rather with a curious live interest, though it is always out of doors that strange Presences get nearest to me, and in Nature I have encountered warnings, messages, presentiments, and the like, that, by way of help or guidance, have later justified themselves. I have, therefore, welcomed them. But in the little rooms of houses things of much value rarely come, for the thick air chokes the wires, as it were, and distorts or mutilates the clear delivery.

But the other night, here in the carpenter's house, where my attic windows beckon to the mountains and the woods, I woke with the uncomfortably strong suggestion that something was on the way, and that I was not ready. It came along the by-ways of deep sleep. I woke abruptly, alarmed before I was even properly awake. Something was approaching with great swiftness and I was unprepared.

Across the lake there were faint signs of colour behind the distant Alps, but terraces of mist still lay grey above the vineyards, and the slim poplar, whose tip was level with my face, no more than rustled in the wind of dawn. A shiver, not brought to me by any wind, ran through my nerves, for I knew with a certainty no arguing could lessen nor dispel that something from immensely far away was deliberately now approaching me. The touch of wonder in advance of it was truly awful; its splendour, size, and grandeur belonged to conditions I had surely never known. It came through empty spaces from another world. While I lay asleep it had been already on the way.

I stood there a moment, seeking for some outward sign that might betray its nature. The last stars were fading in the northern sky, and blue and dim lay the whole long line of the Jura, cloaked beneath still slumbering forests. There was a rumbling of a distant train. Now and then a dog barked in some outlying farm. The Night was up and walking, though as yet she moved but slowly from the sky. Shadows still draped the world. And the warning that had reached me first in sleep rushed through my tingling nerves once more with a certainty not far removed from shock. Something from another world was drawing every minute nearer, with a speed that made me tremble and half-breathless. It would presently arrive. It would stand close beside me and look straight into my face. Into these very eyes that searched the mist and shadow for an outward sign it would gaze intimately with a Message brought for me alone. But into these narrow walls it could only come with difficulty. The message would be maimed. There still was time for preparation. And I hurried into clothes and made my way downstairs and out into the open air.

Thus, at first, by climbing fast, I kept ahead of it, and soon the village lay beneath me in its nest of shadow, and the limestone ridges far above dropped nearer. But the awe and terrible deep wonder did not go. Along these mountain paths, whose every inch was so intimate that I could follow them even in the dark, this sense of breaking grandeur clung to my footsteps, keeping close. Nothing upon the earth familiar, friendly, well-known, little earth could have brought this sense that pressed upon the edges of true reverence. It was the awareness that some speeding messenger from spaces far, far beyond the world would presently stand close and touch me, would gaze into my little human eyes, would leave its message as of life or death, and then depart upon its fearful way again it was this that conveyed the feeling of apprehension that went with me.

And instinctively, while rising higher and higher, I chose the darkest and most sheltered way. I sought the protection of the trees, and ran into the deepest vaults of the forest. The moss was soaking wet beneath my feet, and the thousand tapering spires of the pines dipped upwards into a sky already brightening with palest gold and crimson. There was a whispering and a rustling overhead as the trees, who know everything before it comes, announced to one another that the thing I sought to hide from was already very, very near. Plunging deeper into the woods to hide, this detail of sure knowledge followed me and laughed: that the speed of this august arrival was one which made the greatest speed I ever dreamed of a mere standing still. . . .

I hid myself where possible in the darkness that was growing every minute more rare. The air was sharp and exquisitely fresh. I heard birds calling. The low, wet branches kissed my face and hair. A sense of glad relief came over me that I had left the closeness of the little attic chamber, and that I should eventually meet this huge New-comer in the wide, free spaces of the mountains. There must be room where I could hold myself unmanacled to meet it. . . . The village lay far beneath me, a patch of smoke and mist and soft red-brown roofs among the vineyards. And then my gaze turned upwards, and through a rift in the close-wrought ceiling of the trees I saw the clearness of the open sky. A strip of cloud ran through it, carrying off the Night's last little dream . . . and down into my heart dropped instantly that cold breath of awe I have known but once in life, when staring through the stupendous mouth within the Milky Way that opening into the outer spaces of eternal darkness, unlit by any single star, men call the Coal Hole.

The futility of escape then took me bodily, and I renounced all further flight. From this speeding Messenger there was no hiding possible. His splendid shoulders already brushed the sky. I heard the rushing of his awful wings . . . yet in that deep, significant silence with which light steps upon the clouds of morning.

And simultaneously I left the woods behind me and stood upon a naked ridge of rock that all night long had watched the stars.

Then terror passed away like magic. Cool winds from the valleys bore me up. I heard the tinkling of a thousand cowbells from pastures far below in a score of hidden valleys. The cold departed, and with it every trace of little fears. My eyes seemed for an instant blinded, and I knew that deep sense of joy which seems so “unearthly” that it almost stains the sight with the veil of tears. The soul sank to her knees in prayer and worship.

For the messenger from another world had come. He stood beside me on that dizzy ledge. Warmth clothed me, and I knew myself akin to deity. He stood there, gazing straight into my little human eyes. He touched me everywhere. Above the distant Alps the sun came up. His eye looked close into my own.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Hammargren Home of Nevada History

Anyone who has even driven on Sandhill Road between Tropicana and Flamingo could not have missed the one strange wall with all sorts of things barely visible over it. Old casino signs, spaceships (some complete with little green men), and bizarre rickety structures are all visible in short bursts. Who lives there and what is all of that stuff, and—more importantly—who wouldn’t want to go inside and see what else is there?

The house, well actually it’s three houses morphed into one, belonging to Dr. Lonnie Hammargren, a retired neurosurgeon and former Nevada Lt. Governor. Yes, he really does live there. The concept of this Las Vegas landmark is to preserve Nevada’s history via Dr. Hammargren’s personal collection. He purchases anything and everything that catches his interest. Some of it may be invaluable to resale, but these are overshadowed by the incredible rare pieces that he has. For instance, the original Batmobile sits in his garage; the roller coaster from the top of the Stratosphere casino sits on his rooftop; numerous Liberace artifacts are littered throughout his collection. In other words, there is a lot to take in.

The whole thing began in 1971 when, after a night of drinking with the neighborhood’s developer, he was approved to build a second story planetarium in his home. Over the last 40 years, it has been continuously growing.

While his home is generally off limits to the public, once a year for Nevada Day he opens his doors to all residents or visitors of Las Vegas. I missed it the last few years; something always seemed to come up at the last minute and prevent me from attending. This year, however, I finally entered the Hammargren Home of Nevada History.


One of the first things you see upon entering through the main entrance way is the chapel. I'm not sure if actual services are performed here.

This is pretty typical of any nook and cranny of the Hammargren estate. Paintings, violins, flags and a mannequin, all in a five foot by five foot space. You could walk through the same rooms multiple times and find something new each time here. 


A view from the second floor loft in the main house. 



The outside of one of the three of Hammargren's houses.



This is an alleyway between two of the houses. 


A bridge connecting two of the houses.


Popeye and a statue possibly from Harrah's Casino adorn the side of Hammargren's backyard stage.


The old roller coaster that used to be on top of the Stratosphere casino now adorns this rooftop. 


One of the rooftop observatories. While you can't tell from this photo, the palm tree to the left should give you a gauge of how high this actually is.

An oversized hand of Lady Liberty sticks up out of the cluster below. On the ground, I never saw if there was more to the statue or not. 

This photo sums up the Hammagren house. I love contrast of the wall--on one side is a regular street, on the other a model of Hoover Dam, a swimming pool with a small submarine, an old casino sign and...and...and...


            This was actually used by NASA as a test capsule prior to becoming a UFO.


Either that's a dummy or some asleep on the job. I'm not sure what this is, but it looks like something that just landed on the roof. I believe it is more NASA scraps, possibly part of a satellite.


A dummy parachuting out of a plane.

Only in Vegas.



This miniature Abe Lincoln sits in his own reflection pool version of the Lincoln Memorial. Hammargren seems to favor both Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. There are a number of paintings, curios, and books about these two presidents throughout the Hammargren houses.



Yes, Hammargren even has a T-Rex in his backyard. I estimated him to be about fifteen feet tall. 


I found this guy hidden in the bushes of one of the backyards. That's an elephant raring his trunk behind the palm bush.


This is a statue of Garuda, a bird-god from the Hindu pantheon. This one seems to be of a Balinese style. He is usually depicted with Vishnu, but not always. 



I found this Russian bear to b quite interesting. I don't know his history but he certainly belongs here.



A shelf of fascinating figurines and old bottles. 





This vintage 1932 Rolls Royce is a rare "boat tail" model. 






This is the iron lung that Hammargren will one day be buried in. He has a special Egyptian styled crypt built underneath his house, where he plans to spend eternity. Did I mention he plans to be pickled in Vodka within the iron lung? 

  



Pop’s Oasis. That brought back memories. It was the original casino in Jean, Nevada, before the Gold Strike or the now demolished Nevada Landing casinos were there. It was very small compared to them. It stood near where the post office and courthouse are now located. I grew up in nearby Sandy Valley, and Pop’s Oasis was the closest casino to us, and it had an arcade. Gambling tokens from Pop’s were dropped into the foundation of the Nevada Landing when they built it in 1989, one year after Pop’s closed down. 



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Laudanum

In the sort of spirit of Halloween, I decided to make my very own bottle of laudanum. An old bottle previously used as décor for our kitchen fit the bill, and from there I found a vintage laudanum label on the internet and printed it. From there, I aged the paper, stained it a little for good measure and cut it out. I used a spray adhesive on the back to reduce bleed-through. Since laudanum was used as a cough suppressant, I decided to go for a cough-syrupy color for the liquid. Basically, just a combo of green and blue food dye did the trick. To top it off, I finally found a use for a small collection of old wine corks that have been accumulating in a drawer.

Laudanum was originally invented by the famed Swiss doctor and alchemist, Paracelsus, although his version was quite different from what was later known by the same name. Paracelsus’ version included the mandatory opium and high proof alcohol, but henbane, musk, coral, amber, gold and crushed pearls were also integrated into it.

By the nineteenth century, the formula was reduced down to just opium and alcohol. Generally, it consisted of 10% powdered opium by weight (equivalent to 1% morphine) and about 48% alcohol by volume, although the alcohol content varied.

The uses of laudanum varied as well. It was generally used as an antidiarrheal and cough syrup. It was oftentimes, as the label used on my recreation states, billed as a universal cure-all. With such opium content, it is not surprising that it would relieve the symptoms of just about any ailment. Also not surprising, it was used as a sedative. Women were prescribed it for menstrual cramps, and fussy babies were given it to help them sleep. A powdered form of laudanum was rubbed into the gums of teething babies as well.

Of course, not all of its uses were strictly medical. Many artists, poets, and authors used it for inspiration.

The origin of the name is not known. It is believed to originate from the Latin laudare which means “to praise” or “to recommend.” I was unable to connect any usage of this word to explain why laudanum’s name would be derived from it, leading me to suspect the alternative to be the true origin.

Ladanum was used to describe an herbal medicine made of plant resins, particularly of Cistus ladanifer and Cistus creticus, for centuries. In the middle ages, ladanum was used to treat colds, coughs and rheumatism. The ninth century rabbi Saadia ben Joseph suggested that ladanum was actually an ingredient in the sacred incense used in the Temple known as ketoret. Considering that Pliny the Elder wrote that an extract from an herb known as “ladan” was used in the incense, the rabbi might have been correct.


While true laudanum has been illegal for the almost a century, it is still available by prescription today under the name “Tincture of Opium.” However, it is not typically used anymore. The two main uses today are for severe diarrhea that does not respond to other treatments and for neonates born addicted to opiates due to gestational drug use. The newborns are given small doses to prevent life-threatening withdrawals and are slowly tapered off over the course of a few weeks.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Spirit of the Town by Tod Robbins

Illustration from the first edition
“Strange as this tale may be, my readers, do not consider it the weak wanderings of a disordered brain, nor yet as a fiction formed to please alone, but, looking deeper still, perceive the truth. The truth—what a word is that to conjure with, and yet how difficult it is for a mere man to penetrate the cloak of conventionality and custom, and behold it in all its bright nakedness!

“When you have done this, you have looked into the eyes of God.” – From the author’s introduction.


The Spirit of the Town (1912) is today an all but forgotten novel by an all but forgotten author. Spirit is Robbins’ second novel, but it was published the same year as his first, Mysterious Martin.

The novel centers on Jim, a young aspiring author, who leaves his small hometown to seek his fortune in Manhattan. Jim has recently heard from an old friend, George, who had been living there and offered to let him stay at his apartment until Jim could get a start. It sounds very promising.

Almost immediately upon arriving in the Big Apple, Jim encounters the reality of life there when a man jumps out a high-rise window to his death. To Jim’s surprise, no one so much as bats an eyelash at the sight. Jim feels nauseous and begins to faint. Enter the charismatic Mr. Noman, who, after staring at the dead man, sweeps in to offer Jim a helping hand. Mr. Noman escorts him into a nearby pub and buys Jim a drink. We later discover via George that Mr. Noman is the man to know, and if you want to make it, you need to go through him.

After some time in the City, Jim comes to realize its true nature. Mr. Noman offers Jim everything he could ever want, but at what cost? Jim must choose between being a famous sellout or a true, but likely poor, poet.

While it is not overtly displayed, Mr. Noman exhibits vampiric tendencies. He doesn’t drink blood, but he does feed off of the life-force of the young and hopeful that arrive in Manhattan and naïvely fall under his influence. Once he’s done with them, he tosses them to the wind without a moment’s hesitation. He is, after all, the spirit of the town, and the town is the ultimate vampire. It is no coincidence that we first meet Mr. Noman standing over the dead body of the man who jumped out of the window—another victim drained.

Early on in the novel, we meet two charming transients who give the young author his first taste of the Big City. Will and John, or The Merry Old Gentleman and The Clergyman as Jim names them, make a few appearances throughout the novel and are actually more intrinsic to the story than they ever appear. Although they appear as nothing more than conmen, they are used as archetypes to show how modern values destroy men who, in another time, would have been noble men.

Robbins, true to form, works in a brief subplot involving a deranged murderer. This one isn’t outwardly deformed, but is still an outsider. Robbins does an excellent job of subtly working the man into the background of the storyline, only to reveal his true purpose—as well as the imminent danger the main characters were in—midway into the novel.

We are even privy to the killer’s diary, which I suspect to be inspired by a short story of Guy de Maupassant. “The diary of a Madman” reads very similarly to the diary of the madman used in Robbins’ novel. It is a known fact that Robbins was a Francophile and loved French literature, and Maupassant, especially during Robbins’ time, was one of France’s most widely read authors. Perhaps a young Robbins read in the papers of Maupassant’s descent into madness and his eventual death in a Parisian insane asylum. Tod Robbins had much in common with Maupassant—they were both intrigued with insanity, both wrote in a variety of genres, and both were writers of weird fiction—so it would not be surprising to find that Maupassant was an early influence over Robbins.

This book is more than just a social commentary; it is Robbins’ honest look into American greed and our vulture capitalist culture. The dead eyes of the denizens shuffling down busy-yet-empty streets of New York City, each wrapped up in their own world and completely oblivious to everyone else, may as well be the lifeless eyes of zombies. While it is true that Robbins grew up in the bosom of New York’s elite, it is clear that he never identified with them, and it is not surprising that he would leave the U.S. for France within ten years of the publication of this novel.



I have included The Spirit of the Town, as well as numerous others of Tod Robbins’ works, in the anthology Tod Robbins: His Life and Work. It is available on Amazon, Kobo ,and Barnes & Noble for $2.99.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Island of the Dolls (Isla de las Muñecas)

About seventeen miles outside of Mexico City, deep in the Xochimilco canals, you will find the Isla de las Muñecas, or Island of the Dolls. This small island is home to hundreds of old, decaying dolls. Most of them hang from trees, but some are nailed to walls or other furniture. While it was formerly only known to locals in the Mexico City area, over the last decade the Isla has become an international tourist destination of the macabre.

By the end of the 1950s, the island was already well established as an oddity, and its infamy has only grown since then. The original inhabitant of this small island, Julián Santana, lived there much like a hermit. He tended a crop of corn, vegetables, and a garden of flowers which made up his income, until one day when he found the body of a little girl that had drowned in the canals and washed up on his island. After that, he began to be tormented by the spirit of the little girl. A lone doll also drifted upon his shores very shortly after the little girl, and he assumed the doll must have belonged to her. From there the collection grew; each time he found a lost or discarded doll, Santana would bring it home to live in the trees of his isle.

The reason for the dolls is somewhat uncertain. Some say that the dolls were to appease the spirit of the drowned girl, whose existence has never been verified, while others say that the dolls actually ward off demons that pursue the girl’s spirit. Despite the creepiness of the dolls, Santana did not view them as sinister, but rather as companions. He cared for them and may have even traded his produce for more dolls from visitors.

Over the years the reputation of the island grew, and university students from Mexico City would make pilgrimages out to see the bizarre island of dolls. They would bring with them dolls to give to Santana as a gift or as an offering to the spirits of the island.

Local legend states that at night you can hear the dolls murmuring to each other, and that they occasionally move their arms, legs, and even blink on their own. Such legends are quite understandable, considering how eerie the island must be at night (or even in the day.) According to Sebastian Flores, the chronicler of Xochimilco, Santana stated that he spoke with the dolls and that they even lulled him to sleep.

The Moneca
Santana’s favorite doll, known as The Moneca, is said to grant wishes if given an offering of coins, bracelets or other small gifts. The Moneca washed up on the island on August 28, the day of Saint Augustine, which Santana believed to be an auspicious sign. He got good vibes from the doll and said the she warded off evil. The Moneca is also the only doll on the island with a name. The doll still lives on the island in a hut with some other dolls.

After the death of Santana, the locals invented stories that his death in April, 2001, was caused by the dolls. This could easily be written off as superstition if it weren’t for the manner in which Santana died—he drowned in the same channel that he said he found the little girl in so many years before. He was 80 years old.

The island was inherited by Santana’s nephew, Anastasio Santana Velásquez, who continues to care for the island. For the brave tourist, you can still visit the island, but it is recommended that you bring the dolls a gift—preferably another doll and some hard candy for the drowned girl’s spirit.


All photos are courtesy of http://www.isladelasmunecas.com/. Please visit their site for more info on visiting the island.




The Devil in Manuscript And Other Tales of Forbidden Books

“The Green Book,” a small, unassuming diary of a young girl; an unheard of book of the Talmud known as the “Tractate Middoth”; “The King in Yellow,” a play that drives people to insanity; two mysterious grey stone plaques from the sands of Chaldea known as the “Tablets of The Gods”; “The Confessions of Constantine,” which drives its readers into a homicidal rage—these accursed books are the subject of this collection of olden tales.

Each of these tales features a forbidden book, most of which are detrimental to anyone who dares to read them. Some of them are ancient, while others are mass produced—either way they are all dangerous to read.

Many of these fictional books served as the inspiration for Lovecraft’s famed “Necronomicon,” as all of these authors were among his favorites (such as M.R. James, Arthur Machen, and Algernon Blackwood).

This collection is available on Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble for $1.49.  If you prefer, you can also buy directly from us via Payhip in all formats (.mobi, epub, and pdf).


Approx. 425 pages or 135,697 words long. 

As with all ebooks from The Forlorn Press, Forbidden Books contains a clickable table of contents.


Table of Contents:

The Tractate Middoth by M.R. James

The White People by Arthur Machen

The Devil in Manuscript by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers

The Man Who Found Out (A Nightmare) by Algernon Blackwood

P.’s Correspondence by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Innmost Light by Arthur Machen

The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

For Art’s Sake by Tod Robbins

Appendix: In Search of the Real Necronomicon by Osie Turner

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Blood is The Life: An Anthology of Early Vampire Fiction

Everyone has heard of, or even read, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and many assume it to be the first of its kind. However, the vampire had made his way into literature on numerous occasions before and after. These are the stories you have never heard of.

I have split the anthology into three parts. The first deals with straightforward classic vampire tales. These blood-suckers do not sparkle! The second part is dedicated to psychic vampires, including the earliest ever written. The third section is called “Not Quite Vampires” because these tales are often included in lists of early vampire fiction, but are not actually about vampires. They are close to vampires, or vampire-like, but still are not vampires. They are great literature (Lazarus by Andreyev is one of the darkest pieces of fiction I’ve ever read) and are well deserving to be reread by today’s readers.

Each story contains reproductions of all original illustrations from their first publications. In addition to that, there are four original photographs spread across the section breaks.

The collection is completed with two appendices. The first contains biographical sketches of a few historical cases of vampirism. The average reader may believe that Transylvania is the birthplace of the vampire tradition, but it is not. In these sketches, you will find that Serbia and Croatia are the original home of the nosferatu. Did you know that there is even a history of vampire belief right here in the U.S.?

The second, “Sacred Blood,” is a 3000+ word essay on the sacredness of blood across multiple cultures and religions. While it does not deal directly with vampirism, vampirism does make an appearance in some unlikely places.

It is available on Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble for $2.99.  If you prefer, you can also buy directly from us via Payhip in all formats (.mobi, epub, and pdf).

Approx. 536 pages or 156,837 words long. 

As with all ebooks from The Forlorn Press, The Blood is the Life contains a clickable table of contents.


Table of Contents:

Part I: Early Vampire Fiction

Carmilla by J. Sheridan LeFanu

The Vampyre; A Tale by John William Polidori

The Singular Death of Morton by Algernon Blackwood

For The Blood Is The Life by F. Marion Crawford

Dracula’s Guest by Bram Stoker

Ligeira by Edgar Allen Poe

Schalken The Painter by J. Sheridan LeFanu

The Room in the Tower by E. F. Benson

Let Loose by Mary Cholmondeley

The Green Picture by Charles Skinner

The True Story of a Vampire by Count Eric Stenbock

Part II: Psychic Vampires

Luella Miller by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

The Transfer by Algernon Blackwood

The House of the Vampire by George Sylvester Viereck

The Parasite by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Part III: Not Quite Vampires

Lazarus by Leonid Andreyev

Morella by Edgar Allen Poe

The Mortal Immortal by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Appendix 1: Real Cases of Vampires

Appendix 2: Sacred Blood

Monday, June 10, 2013

Rasputin And The Jews by Delin Colon

“Rasputin and the Jews” by Delin Colon is a great introduction not only to Rasputin, but to the state of the average Jew in Tsarist Russia. The author does assume that the reader has some basic knowledge of Rasputin’s story, but nothing you couldn’t find after an internet search about Rasputin. The primary source used for this book is the papers of Aron Simanovich, Rasputin’s Jewish secretary.

Instead of focusing only on recounting the outline of his life, Colon instead expounds upon Rasputin’s beliefs, sayings, and the actual advice he gave to the Tsar—most of which was ignored, despite the popular belief that Rasputin somehow controlled all of the Tsar’s decisions. In fact, Colon does a magnificent job of explaining that if Tsar Nicholas II had listened to Rasputin, the entire Bolshevik Revolution would likely have been avoided.

Rasputin drew the ire of the aristocracy because he believed in equal rights for all Russians, including Jews. Jews were at the bottom of the social structure and all aspects of their lives were strictly regulated. Most Jews were forced to live in the Pale—a territory that all Jews had to live in unless they had special authorization to live elsewhere in Russia, very similar to the Warsaw Ghetto but on an even larger scale. Pogroms, violent organized mobs that targeted Jews, were common occurrences in Rasputin’s day, and he opened himself to personal danger by speaking up for the Jews.

Rasputin had enemies on all sides due either to his to his birth or his views. The modern-day reader doesn’t realize exactly how rigid the class structure was then and how much it affected the daily life of the citizens. Russian peasants, like Rasputin, were not viewed as equals, or even as people, by most of the aristocracy, and it angered them that Rasputin was given access to the Tsar’s court. Keep in mind that the institution of serfdom had only been abolished in 1861, and the aristocracy still viewed the peasantry as such. Many of these aristocrats were willing to look past that, until they realized that they couldn’t use Rasputin for their own ends—at which point they vehemently turned on him.


All in all, “Rasputin and the Jews” is a great and informative read which treats Rasputin fairly and justly. Colon has done a good job of cutting through the hearsay and outright propaganda that has sullied the name and memory of Rasputin and shining the light of truth onto him.

Grigori Rasputin

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Tomb And Other Macabre Tales of Guy de Maupassant



Guy de Maupassant, one of France’s most prolific writers of the 19th century, is also the father of the modern short story, for good reason. He wrote over three hundred short stories throughout his career, with most of them being written during the 1880s. While most of these dealt with mundane occurrences, some of them were quite strange. 

Maupassant’s style is much more approachable than a lot of other Victorian-era authors. Each of his short stories immediately grab your attention and make you wonder where exactly he is going with it. Oftentimes, the ending is not the climax of the story; there doesn’t even seem to be a climax in some of them. Maupassant did not write mere stories.  He wrote about occurrences that otherwise would not be noticed or remembered and strove to find a deeper meaning behind them. While the stories chosen for this collection are juicier than his others, this element is still to be found in them.

Also included is my essay, “The Demise of Maupassant.” It focuses on the last years of his life and his not-so-slow descent into insanity. I have found that there are some discrepancies in the details of the events leading up to his internment in an asylum amongst his biographies. I have pieced this together drawing from an assortment of sources, including newspaper accounts published within days of the events, documented interviews with his valet who was present during them, and other scholarly works. I believe that the timeline I have constructed is an accurate description of Maupassant’s eventual confinement.

All of the stories used in this anthology are based upon the first English translations. However, I have retranslated small portions of them myself after comparing them with the original French first editions, in order to make them flow closer to the original—namely “The Tomb” and “Le Horla.” In instances where the original publications were not available for comparison, I did update the more awkward wordings from the Victorian English; overall, the changes are very mild (I want them to retain the flavor of the 19th century), ease of readability being the sole factor in deciding where to apply them. 

Table of Contents: 
The Tomb
Le Horla
Suicides
The Diary of a Madman
Who Knows?
Ugly
Was it a Dream?
The Inn
Appendix: The Demise of Maupassant


The book is available on Amazon, Amazon UKKobo, Barnes & Noble, and Google Play / Google Books for only $0.99!  If you prefer, you can also buy directly from us via Payhip in all formats (.mobi, epub, and pdf).


Approx. 111 pages or 29,576 words long. 

As with all ebooks from The Forlorn Press, The Tomb contains a clickable table of contents.