Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Mermaid Championships Held in Germany

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Yes, mermaids are apparently quite big now, thanks (I assume) to Disney. As supernatural creatures go they've got horror potential, of course, but in fiction they generally tend to be cute and whimsical. Anyway, the question we are all asking today is, what are Germany's top mermaids up to?
Merfolk-fanatics between eight and 48 years old attended the event in the town of Suhl in southern Thuringia which organizers claimed was the first ever German national championship in mermaid swimming, also referred to as "mermaiding". 
And especially competitors from the lower half of the Bundesrepublik proved that they had thoroughly analysed Disney's The Little Mermaid.
Well, there you go. Congratulations to the plucky winners, who (wait for it) clearly got into a flap in the best possible sense.
“Merthletes” from Bavaria, Thuringia and Baden-Württemberg brought in two wins for each state, as children competed over 50m and adults over twice that distance.
Lotta Müller from Bavaria took gold in the highest-represented and fiercely-contested category of eight- to nine-year-olds, while Alexander Sengpiel also of Bavaria only had to out-flap a few other men to come in first in the adult competition.
 All good, wet, harmless fun.

Germany holds first national 'mermaiding' championship

Saturday, 24 September 2016

'West of Arkham the hills rise wild...'

I spend a lot of time at deviantART looking for interesting pictures of spaceships, monsters, and other stuff. That's how I roll. If you don't know the site, it's essentially a forum for everyone to post art of all kinds, from photography to oil painting. And it's not surprising that classic horror fiction provides inspiration for many 'deviants'.

This chap is a case in point. He's produced some excellent, atmospheric illustrations to Lovecraft's stories, among other things.

Uncanny Valley...

Friday, 23 September 2016

'The Mask of the Dead Mamilius'

And here we are at the end of the Third G&S Book of Shadows with Mark Valentine's take on one of M.R. James' lesser, and later, tales. Not exactly a sequel, this, but an erudite take on the same Shakespeare passage that James used to good effect.

The story concerns Lorna, an ambitious and discerning actress who takes a role in The Winter's Tale as Mamilius (who is a boy, yes, it's one of those clever modern productions). As you may know, Mamilius is the only one of Leontes' victims who actually dies as a result of his irrational jealousy - the paranoid tyrant's wife and daughter are merely reported dead. There is something disturbing about this, and the fact that the poor lad is whisked away while in the act of telling a ghost story is apt.

This vignette is, among other things, a meditation upon mortality and the way a good work of fiction can remind us of it in the most effective, and sometimes harrowing, way. And that's as good a conclusion as any to a collection of tales about the dead and their disturbing antics! I've greatly enjoyed third anthology, and can heartily recommend it, and its two predecessors, to anyone who wants interesting and varied takes on some of the best ghost stories ever written.

Rendlesham

River Deben
M.R. James country. Flat, yet with plenty of cover where Things can lurk...

Fans of Monty James' ghost stories will know what, in 'A Warning to the Curious', he refers to a Saxon crown being unearthed at Rendlesham on the East Anglian coast many centuries ago. Well, it seems that a bit more digging has been going on in that area, and the result is a major archaeological find.
About 4,000 items, including intricate metalwork, coins and weights, have been found at Rendlesham. About 1,000 of them are Anglo-Saxon, Ms Minter said. 
Dr Helen Geake of the British Museum said while the "palace" find was "incredibly exciting", it could be one of a number dotted around East Anglia. 
"There would have been quite a few of these palaces or halls dotted around," she said. 
"The king [of the time] would have toured his kingdom in order to show his magnificence to his people, so he would have had lots of places to base himself around East Anglia."
Rendlesham is of course not far from Sutton Hoo, where a major Anglo-Saxon find occurred in 1939, just three years after MJR died. So far as we know, ghostly guardians have not been going around knocking off hapless antiquarians as a result of either excavation.

Sutton Hoo warrior's helmet
Sutton Hoo helmet with someone keeping a close eye on it. You never know.