This quarter sucks. I've gotten sick about a million times, and now I've managed to throw my back out, yet again. Horror will make it better. Horror will make it aaaall better.
First, I have a movie recommend! Six String Samurai is, for those who have no yet seen it, about what happened when the Russians won the Cold War in 1956. Basically, America is a nuclear wasteland, with Lost Vegas being the last bastion of freedom, ruled over by the benevolent King Elvis. But the king is old, and many are filing in to claim his throne. Our main character is Buddy. It's never actively named, but it is very clear that this is Buddy Holly, a man in a zoot suit, carrying his guitar with a katana sword taped to the back of it, with a tattered umbrella. He's a ronin, of sorts, and is off to Vegas to claim the throne. He is forced to take on the care of a young boy, and the two of them frequently face off against Death, in the form of thrash metal. This movie was freaking SWEET.
I'm not going to go too into it, because its bizarrity simply must be experienced first hand, but I will say that it is a trip, the guy playing Buddy did all of his own martial arts moves, all of it sans wires, The Red Elvises, a Russian group, did the soundtrack which has an awesome surfer rock fell to it, and watch for the gumball scene-- it's straight up gorgeous. This isn't horror, it's just weird. But it is some fucking AWESOME weird, and I personally want another taste.
I was walking to class today, listening to the lastest offering done up by the fine folks over at The Night Of the Living Podcast, a favorite listen of mine. They were discussing the Latin ghost story of La Llarona, a story that some theorize rise as a cautionary story to keep kids out of the river where they were likely to drown. According to the story a widow drowns her children, and then is later over come with grief over the evil she has committed. She now haunts the rivers, crying out for her lost children, "Mi ninos, mi ninos!", and if you hear her, she will drown you, take you away, etc. There are a lot of variations to this tale, but essentially she was a bogeyman, designed to keep kids safe through fear. One of the members of the show made a comment about how just saying "stay out of the damn river or you'll drown" is just as effective, and it made me realize that I am guilty of doing something similar.
I work currently in childcare; for what ever reasons I remember portions of my own childhood vividly, and the desire for magic was always a very strong need in me. I wanted to see unicorns, I pretended I was a faery. Or I was a witch, and in my version of events, Rapunzel wasn't going anywhere unless I let her. You get the picture. Some of my favorite memories are of my father telling me short, spooky things that I wanted badly to believe in. My favorite was when he told me that he had the headless Hessian's head, hidden, and that was why the headless horseman still rode. When I breathlessly asked to see it, he said he would show me on Halloween night, an event many months away still. I, of course, forgot in the excitement of Trick or Treating, and so it was a mystery that I delighted on dwelling on for several years. I never did remember to ask him to see it.
I want to give similar memories to my younger relations, and have told them some stories that I hope will weather well as they grow. We have a local play area here called The Children's Activity Museum. I'm sure you've been to similar places; a child sized kitchen area, little examples of physics in action such as a Bernelli blower, all of it hands on. The building our local CAM is contained in is cut weird; it's a large building, but the interior walls seem hastily thrown up, and if you peer through the cracks you can see dusty areas that are now essentially disused corridors between the interior wall and the actual wall. Because of this strange set up there are several doors are either always locked (like the emergency exits) or that have been disabled and are now permanently part of the wall. This fascinated all of my nieces and nephews, and so when they asked me if monsters lived back there, I said yes, of course. Not mean monsters or anything, just monsters that liked their privacy and didn't want to do a lot of entertaining. So we would peer through cracks in the walls and holes in the doors, hoping to see the elusive, private beast. They like to knock on the doors, and then run away. I don't have the heart to tell them that it's rude to ding dong ditch a monster, but I figure the monster knows they're little, and he's cool with it.
More in keeping with the La Llarona tale, I told my four year old nephew that there was a water monster living in one of the parks we frequent. This park in question has a creek that cuts through it. It's not deep, but water doesn't have to be to drown a person. The current is very swift as well and there is an easy access area that's been formed over several generations of kids wading there in the summer time. It's fun to wade there when it's hot, and I want the boys to be able to do that, but I want them to be safe, especially since when I have more than one of them with me, it feels a lot like I'm trying to herd cats; one takes off running in one direction, the other in the polar opposite that his brother picked. So to keep them out of the water without me, I told them that the Creature from the Black Lagoon lives under the concrete culvert the creek diverts into. It's easier for them to understand that a green scaly guy is going to carry you off if you get too close to him than it is to explain the concept of death to a small child. Being separated from Mommy and Daddy is a scarier concept, as well as being easier to grasp, than trying to explain what happens when you die.
We actually scared ourselves with this last Halloween. I was taking the brats Trick or Treating (and doing the same myself), and one of the more isolated streets we were walking down has a small irrigation canal next to it. We stopped where someone's driveway covered the ditch, and peered into the corrugated tunnel the water ran through. This ditch was sunk pretty deep, and the water plants hadn't gone dormant yet, so they were still very tall and dark. I was whispering to them to listen, planning to tickle them when they were looking most intent. Instead something splashed deep inside, and William hollered "MONSTER!" We all shrieked and ran off, laughing, a cave man, a tiny werewolf, and me, face painted into a Dia de Los Meurtos skull.
I hope they remember that fondly, as well as keeping them safe until they're big enough to handle the currents. I will.