Archive | October, 2013

Haunting Voices of the Past: Ancient Greek Music Reconstructed

Delphi: ApollEver wonder what Greek music sounded like circa 450 BC? Well, a bunch of smart people came together and figured out vocal notation on Greek pottery. Voila. The ghosts of the ancient world sing again.

via Open Culture via BBC:

[Ancient Greek] instruments are known from descriptions, paintings and archaeological remains, which allow us to establish the timbres and range of pitches they produced.

And now, new revelations about ancient Greek music have emerged from a few dozen ancient documents inscribed with a vocal notation devised around 450 BC, consisting of alphabetic letters and signs placed above the vowels of the Greek words.

The Greeks had worked out the mathematical ratios of musical intervals – an octave is 2:1, a fifth 3:2, a fourth 4:3, and so on.

The notation gives an accurate indication of relative pitch.

David Cleese, a classicist from the University of Newcastle, brings this notation to life through this recording. Listen here: What Ancient Greek Music Sounded Like

If you like this sort of thing, be sure to check out Hear the Epic of Gilgamesh Read in the Original Akkadian, where the sounds of ancient Mesopotamia reach out from the past, and speak to us again.… Read the rest

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King of the Zombies

dawn-of-the-deadWhile George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead was originally panned by critics in 1968, the film has gone on to wide acclaim — it jump-started modern zombie cinema, and also mixed-in dark social commentary about the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960′s.

Romero’s 1978 follow-up, Dawn of the Dead, didn’t suffer a sophomore jinx in the series — everything from the script to the acting to the production values are cranked-up. More importantly, this is the film that defines the zombie of today as a metaphor for American consumer culture run amok.

In keeping with my latest spook-tacular posts, I’m happy to point you to George Romero’s other classic, Dawn of the Dead. If you’ve seen the film before, enjoy it again. If you’re a newbie, get ready to see where the Zombie Apocalypse really began.

Stay Awake!

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel where I archive all of the videos I curate at Insomnia.… Read the rest

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The Conspiracy Guy Ep. 3 – Beer

The Conspiracy Guy Ep. 3 – Beer

In this episode The Conspiracy Guy takes on three beer-loving patriots. It’s a showdown between Beer vs. Logic in America. Who will prevail? Logic we hope… but oh that fish bladder is mighty tasty.

Mmm… fish bladder.

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Dozens Of Workers Fall Unconscious During Exorcism At Pakistani Factory

signs-BEINA malicious psychic presence, mysterious gas leak, mass hysteria, or some combination thereof? The Express Tribune reports:

Nearly 25 female workers of a Landhi garments factory fell unconscious in the aftermath of an exorcism to get rid of ‘evil spirits’ in the workplace on Monday.

“The factory seemed to be overtaken by a genie or evil spirit,” claimed Farzana Naseem. “A spiritualist was called to this morning to get rid of the suspected ‘jinns’ but as soon as he began reciting different verses, the workers began falling unconscious while others ran out shouting and screaming for help.”

Rescue teams were called in to the factory, Casual Sports Wear. The rescue workers insisted, however, that there was a mysterious gas leak which caused the workers to faint.

“I do not believe the workers were possessed,” said Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre deputy executive director Dr Seemin Jamali. “But this hysteric influence might have played out as a ripple effect.”

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Stingy Jack and the Legend of the Jack O’ Lantern

Jack-o-LanternIt’s Halloween.  Time to help your kids develop their bed-wetting habits.  Time to buy a ton of candy, claim it’s for trick-or-treaters, turn off the porch light, and gorge yourself on waxy chocolate.  Time to carve the ol’ jack-o’-lantern.

One of my favorite Halloween myths is the origin story of the jack-o’-lantern: the trickster legend of Stingy Jack.  This folk tale comes from Ireland, which was also a major cultural center for the Celts, who observed the festival of Samhain, which serves as the root from which our modern Halloween sprang.

According to the story, which may be centuries old, a drunkard known as Stingy Jack was infamous throughout Ireland as a liar and a cheat.  He was especially despised for his love of trickery, his favorite pastime.

One day, while bored and lounging lazily around Hell, Lucifer happened to overhear some horrible stories about Jack’s devious skills, which were apparently even more dastardly than his own.  Not to be outdone by a mere drunken Irishman, the Devil decided to find Jack and see if the stories were true.… Read the rest

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Scream All Night: Horror Movie Marathon Recommendations

thewickerman_lordsummerisleI don’t “cross the streams” too often here, but since it’s Halloween here in the United States (and a few other places), I thought I’d mention that I’ve written a few recommendations for a horror movie marathon at another site. I dug through my own collection and came up with some classics, new and old. I’ve been a horror movie fan from childhood, and this is my favorite time of year.

Via Suvudu:

What’s Halloween night without scary movies? Sadly, you really can’t depend on television to show any frightful fare worth watching, so it’s good to have a stack of scary stuff on-hand. I’ve picked out six movies from my personal collection and listed them in no particular order for an all-night horror movie marathon – if you’re brave (or foolhardy) enough to stay up to dawn with nothing but werewolves, slashers and zombies for company. Note: I’ve scheduled approximately five minutes of down-time between each film.

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Books Dictated From Beyond The Grave

books

Via Mental Floss, literary works that came to us from the other side:

  • The Sorry Tale (Pearl Lenore Curran and Patience Worth). Starting in the early 1910s, Pearl Lenore Curran and her friend Emily Grant Hutchings worked the Ouija board together twice a week. On July 8, 1913, Patience Worth made her presence known. According to the frantic spelling across the Ouija board, Patience was born in either 1649 or 1694 “across the sea” and was killed in an Indian raid. When really inspired, the Patience-Pearl duo could spell out about 1500 words an hour, which is how she came to be the author of books including The Sorry Tale and Hope Trueblood.
  • God Bless U, Daughter (Mildred Swanson and Mark Twain). Unwilling to let his deceased status slow him down, Samuel Clemens allegedly contacted Mildred Swanson of Independence, Missouri. In the late 1960s, Swanson wrote a book called God Bless U, Daughter, a diary of her planchette conversations with Clemens.
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Samhain and Halloween: About as Closely Related as a Toy Poodle and a Wolf

An_Arch_Druid_in_His_Judicial_HabitMany people confuse Samhain and Halloween. Michael Tortorello sets them straight in the New York Times:

How will you be celebrating Samhain this year? What’s that? You say you won’t be observing the high Druid holiday of the ancient Celts? With all due respect, you’re probably wrong and you probably will.

“Samhain is Halloween; Halloween is Samhain,” said Ellen Evert Hopman, 61, an author, herbalist and Druid priestess and scholar. Irish monks, by most accounts, co-opted the earthy ritual and recast it with strait-laced saints. But the bones of the holiday wouldn’t stay buried.

The first historical record of Samhain, an engraved bronze calendar found in Coligny, France, dates to the first century B.C. The Druids of the British Isles went to ground a few centuries later, after the Romans rode in on chariots and “trashed the place,” Ms. Hopman said. All the same, she said: “There have been people celebrating Samhain in Europe for thousands of years.

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