Night Will Fall…

As a horror fan, proud of a strong stomach and slightly worried that nothing is ever going to really gross me out ever again, I was taught a sobering lesson on Saturday night with the Channel 4 showing of Holocaust: Night Will Fall

This was the story of the allied camera men who filmed and worked to produce a documentary of the scenes in the Nazi concentration camps. And, though I’d seen other programmes on the subject before, I still sat aghast at what I was witnessing. Though we are all desensitised to a large degree by explicit TV, film and internet content, there is still a sense of shock and outrage to be felt at seeing the torture and murder of people on such an unimaginable scale. Seeing humans reduced to rag doll corpses, being shunted about in tumbling heaps by bulldozers, legs and arms seeming to reach for escape, or being dragged from the backs of lorries and into mass graves is unsettling and far more horrific than anything in the mind of the most salacious movie director. Simply because it actually happened, and happened so comparatively recently.

I find the blackest humour in most things. I’m known for it and am almost unable to help myself in summoning up something inappropriate to say to lighten the mood. But in this case I couldn’t find anything remotely amusing to say.

This was true horror…

American Sniper…

I have no intention of seeing the movie – it’s just not my kind of thing – but I did enjoy the Rolling Stone review of American Sniper and its condemnation of movies that dumb down thorny ethical issues.

“This is the same Hollywood culture that turned the horror and divisiveness of the Vietnam War era into a movie about a platitude-spewing doofus with leg braces who in the face of terrible moral choices eats chocolates and plays Ping-Pong. The message of Forrest Gump was that if you think about the hard stuff too much, you’ll either get AIDS or lose your legs. Meanwhile, the hero is the idiot who just shrugs and says “Whatever!” whenever his country asks him to do something crazy.”

I’m given to believe that snipers are singled out for ‘special’ treatment when captured by the enemy. Their highly skilled trade is loathed and admired in equal measure, depending of course upon whose side you’re on – it’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it.

Much like the mainstream movie industry…

Bookplates…

bookplateOne of the risks you take when you buy a second-hand book – especially from an online seller – is that you’ll end up with a volume with a scribbled dedication inside. Most of the time you get a pretty honest description of what you’re buying, but every so often someone lets you down.

Last week I took a chance on a book recommendation that I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy and so paid a couple of quid for a copy. Sure enough, when it arrived I opened it to find a well-meaning note to ‘Julie’ from her good friend squiggle (I couldn’t read the signature, but I assume Julie knew who sent it!). This was immediately problematic to me though: I just couldn’t bring myself to read something with someone else’s name inside.

After considering whether to vandalise the thing by ripping out the title page, I decided instead to cover it over with a bookplate. I’d toyed with creating one ages ago, but had forgotten all about it. Now was a golden opportunity to get onto it again.

Looking at others online for inspiration, I settled on using Albrecht Durer’s Melancholia I. I’m no designer, and so merely added ‘Ex Libris’ and my name to the top and bottom of the image. Then it was simply a case of printing it, cutting it out and pasting it over the offending page.

I don’t think I’ll bother printing one for every book in my collection, but I’m pleased enough with it to consider putting one inside my most treasured tomes.

Last night I dreamed that I met the Devil…

Zoltan - Hound of Dracula.

We fought a frustrating sort of wrestling match in a shadowy corridor where arms kept coming out of the walls to try to pin me down.

Now, I’d always assumed that if we did ever stumble across each other (perhaps at a conjuration or even during the rush hour at Waterloo Station), we’d be on the same side. I don’t have a literal belief in the Devil, any more than I have a literal belief in God; to me he’s a mischievous and contrarian archetype rather than the CEO of Hades. So to come face to face with him as an antagonist in all his fury was a bit off-putting to say the least.

He was wearing whitish-grey prison overalls and had dark brown hair and a beard. Not at all the blonde sophisticate of the Vertigo comics (borrowed liberally for my own depiction of him in Gape). This time he was closer to Viggo Mortensen’s portrayal in The Prophecy but had a raw screaming fury to go with it. In fact he kept grabbing at me and at one point bit my shin – really deeply.

I awoke in a cold sweat, not daring to open my eyes in case he was standing there at the foot of the bed. I can’t remember the last time I was so shaken up and convinced of the reality of a dream. The only move I dared make was to pull my foot back under the duvet in case something grabbed at it. As everyone knows from an early age, bed covers are the best protection against monsters.

This morning it all made better sense.

Last evening Mrs A and I watched a TV programme on puppy training in which a tiny cross-breed called Byron kept biting at his owners. I also then realised as dressed, that my silver chain with an inverted pentagram was hanging off the knob on the drawer of the bedside cabinet. I’d found at the back of said drawer a few nights ago and had polished away the tarnish before hanging it there and forgetting about it again. I’d obviously made an unconscious association between the two and my sleeping imagination had filled in the blanks.

It’s good to know that it was just a dream and that back in reality, The Devil and I are still on speaking terms…