Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Bloodletting

Why I Wouldn't Want to Become a Zombie

A few years ago (6, to be exact) I ventured to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens to view the most phenomenal flora ever: the Corpse Blossom (or for you nemophiles, Amorphophallus titanium – I specify, because apparently there is quite a variety of such blooms).  The appeal of this flower is that when it first opens, it supposedly emits an odor resembling rotting flesh – hence the name.  At least, that was the appeal for me.
Alas, the opening had occurred in the middle of the night while the gardens were closed, so only the earliest to arrive and those lucky to work there were honored by the stench.  Nevertheless, I rushed to view it – and it was quite spectacular.  Just look:



As a complete digression, the only thing probably crazier than the fact that I sprinted to go see something that smells like death is the fact that, in searching for a video of the thing online, I came across the above.  And in viewing that video I realized that the strange blonde in black towards the end (to the back left) holding some odd object in her arms like a baby is ME.  That’s right.  That’s me.  When I was blonde.  And having pipe dreams about a MySpace page called “My Alien Baby,” which I won’t get into.  Because… that’s a whole other slice of crazy pie.

Annnnnnyway, I missed my opportunity to smell rotting flesh.  But I’ve still always wondered.

A quick google search reveals quite a lot.

For example:

Apparently a chemical in rotting flesh prevents seizures in tadpoles. Who knew?

The more formal terms for referring to this odor are putrizine and cadaverine. (Now I have at least three crossword puzzles I think I can finish!)

In Japanese mythology there is a spirit named Nuppeppo.  He is an animated lump of flesh.  He is passive and unaggressive and said to smell like rotting flesh.  He looks like this:

There is a rumor that states that those who eat the flesh of a Nuppeppō shall have eternal youth.  He tastes good with some fava beans and a nice chianti.
Ok.  I made that last part up.

Also, this inexplicably shows up in an image search: 
Awwwww…

All good stuff.  But not really what I was looking for.



To cut to the chase, I recently had the good fortune to actually find out.  And not just the general smell – the smell of one’s own flesh.  I’m not going into why.  So don’t ask.  But I thought I might do the internet a service and try to describe it.

It is indeed horrifying (that’s how this plays into the theme of this blog).  It is truly the most horrifying, sickening smell one could possibly encounter.  I actually find I can’t really get it out of my olfactory memory and find myself constantly smelling my skin to make sure it has gone away. (It has).

To describe it more specifically, there is an acridity to it, much like a month-old orange, and a mustiness to it, resembling very stale vase water that had formerly been holding an array of fall mums.  From these two images one might assume that your own body dying has a faint fragrance. 
It does not.  These are more the top notes to a heart note of… well… bile.  And the base note?  Ah… that is what truly makes the bouquet. 
She thawt she wuz peeplz.
I once had the pleasure of renting a waste factory flat in Williamsburg which was rather dilapidated.  I managed to make the best of it with a little puppy who had absolutely no desire to go to the bathroom outdoors; so, I made the mistake of trying to paper train her.  I say mistake because I erred in my preparedness to take out the garbage every time she did her business.  Instead, I would just cram the newspaper into the bin and wait for a new bag to be needed.  I did this for all of two days.  Because the stench that started to fill the already shitty apartment was so foul, so vile, that I woke up gagging that second morning.
That would be the odor that rounds out your own death.

Now, to take my mind off this smell, I like to think of zombies.  Or rather, what it’s like to become a zombie.  That really must be awful. 




Really.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bloodletting


Two years ago, I did something I’d wanted to do for years, but had never worked up the guts to do.  I went to ZombieCon.

For those of you who have managed to never turn on an electrical device until just now (in which case, I’m so sorry my little blog is what will initiate you into the terrifying world of technology), ZombieCon is a costumed celebration of zombies.  No, not actual zombies. (yet… teehee?). It’s silly. It’s fun. It’s messy. It’s a party. That about sums it up.

I’ve loved zombies and horror movies my whole life, so attending this event was a real treat for me, especially since I’ve been trying to rally some hordes to accompany me for years to no avail.  But not that year.  I had a gaggle of ghoulish friends fiends who were willing to grin and bear it.  It was like going to Cinderella’s ball* - I was able to don my grisliest gown, cake myself in fake blood and latex scars, rat my hair to high hell and just have fun. 

*(N.B. That allusion actually isn’t too far from the goriness of Grimm’s original retellings.  The step-sisters end up cutting off their feet to fool the prince into thinking the magical tiny slipper was actually one of theirs. I hope I didn’t just ruin some childhood joy for you.  Or whatever.)

I even did something that was quite out of character – I took part in a “zombie walk” competition… and won third place!  It felt good to do something without fear. 
Note to self: When given a gift certificate to Halloween Adventure (woot!)
as a prize, it's ok to step out of character.  And not ok to ignore the pervert
to your left trying to grab your ass.

Well, ok.  I didn’t do it without fear.  I’m actually surprised that I didn’t start vomiting real bile right there on stage.  Which might have won me first place.  Hm…

But I digress.  Basically, once it was all over, it felt good to be recognized for doing something well and doing it on my own... even if that something was blankly staring at the ceiling while drooling and limping across the stage at Le Poisson Rouge.
I was lucky that night at ZombieCon.  I was able to take pride in an internal accomplishment – (yes, I know that it was just a zombie walk competition… just let me run with this).  But does that mean I’m going to give another go at the upcoming ZombieCrawl (shameless plug)

Now reflecting on that heart-stopping but still thrilling experience, I wonder something about the concept of zombie lore - in its present “artistic” state, anyhow.  There seems to be a real focus among many folks of late (whatever that means) to gather en masse to celebrate or make any showing of force.  Not to say that this is incorrect, or ineffective, or negative in any way, shape or form.  It’s just striking that the need to collectively rise is matching a huge trend in zombie fandom.  Particularly because I was always under the impression that the massive throngs of mindless mashing monsters in these undead depictions were the ones to be feared.  And feared with disgust.

I can’t help but wonder where that disgust is supposed to lie now.  Is it in the fear of monsters?  The fear of masses?  The fear of alienation?  The fear of simply being alone? 
I’ll confess, I’m leaning toward that last one.  Especially how it relates to individual accountability.  Because as I wonder if I can summon the spirit to attend another event, I realize that it’s not because I’m afraid of being alone in a crowd.  It’s that I’m disgusted with myself for being afraid at all.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Killing Spree


Who would have thought that April showers would bring May flowers… of horror!
There’s so much to do and see right now, you’ll likely wear your feet to oozing stumps trying to take it all in. But if you’re anything like me, a little bloodshed is hardly going to stop you.

So here’s my latest menu of events to degust with disgust.


SPEAKEASY DOLLHOUSE
Today! (and coming up)

This very afternoon at 4 PM, I’ll be attending quite a mysterious little show called Speakeasy Dollhouse.


Quoting directly from their website:

“A true tale of bootlegging, mafia, infidelity, and murder set in Prohibition-era New York City. The speakeasy is our dollhouse and the actors are our dolls.
This is an immersive event. Each guest will be assigned a name and role. We encourage you to explore. Unlocked doors (or revolving bookshelves) should be entered. Ignore the advice your parents gave you as children, be nosy and talk to strangers.”

I’m not quite sure what to say about it just yet, as I don’t know really what to expect.  I do know enough to say that I’m giddily excited!

[Check back in a couple of days for a review!]

While it might be a little late to make it to this performance, there’s still plenty of time to catch the four remaining shows.  I’d still buy tickets, post haste, though.

Speakeasy Dollhouse

Remaining performances:
TODAY! 4 PM
Monday, May 7th @ 7:30 PM
Saturday, June 2nd @ 4 PM
Monday, June 4th @ 7:30 PM

$20 - $30

A Secret Location
102 Norfolk Street
New York, NY 10002
United States


WEEGEE :: Murder Is My Business
Ongoing (closes September 21st)

If your pulse is racing after Speakeasy Dollhouse and you still have a yen for some old-timey murder mystery, I recommend you hop on the nearest trolley uptown to catch this macabre exhibit at the International Center of Photography.  From their website:

"Legendary photojournalist and newspaper freelancer of the 1930s and 1940s, Weegee has made his fame capturing gruesome murder scenes and high-profile court drama. After a brief and miserable time as a Hollywood paparazzi, Weegee returned to New York, to the corpses and cops he liked better than celebrities. His incredible crime photography as well as 'environmental recreations of Weegee's apartment and exhibitions' are on view at the International Center of Photography."


International Center of Photography
1133 6th Avenue (near 42nd St)
New York, NY 10036


NOTE: MAY 7–17: THE MUSEUM GALLERIES ARE CLOSED FOR INSTALLATION. (Sorry - just found that out mysefl!)


Hours

Tuesday–Wednesday: 10 am–6 pm

Thursday–Friday: 10 am–8 pm

Saturday–Sunday: 10 am–6 pm

Closed: Mondays



General Admission: $12
Students and Seniors (with valid ID): $8
Voluntary Contribution Fridays 5–8 pm

DANS LE NOIR :: Dinner in the Dark
(Ongoing)

For those of you who are afraid of the dark and are really craving a taste of spooky, Dans Le Noir is serving up a delightful dish... or dishes, rather.  Here's a little taste in their website's own words:

"You are about to live an unbelievable experience: eating and drinking in the pitch dark.



If this idea seems to be a little strange at first, it is that by suppressing the dominant sense of sight, we each enter a world where we are uncertain of our surroundings and experiences.  With the help of our blind guides you are going to completely re-evaluate the notions of taste and smell through our gastronomic and pedagogical process.

Our food, mostly organic, is based on first quality ingredients, making this experience as interesting and tasty as possible. Just choose one of our 4 surprise menus."

I plan on making my reservations for some time soon.  I'd say I hope to see you there, but that would be missing the point, no?

246 W 38th Street
New York, NY 10018
(212) 575-1671


DIALOG IN THE DARK
(Ongoing)

And speaking of things to do in the dark (asides from the obvious... no! I don't mean experimenting with Bloody Mary), here's an experience not to be missed:

"Lose your senses—one of them, anyway—at this exhibit housed at South Street Seaport. The premise is fairly simple: Participants walk through a completely darkened space (led by a blind or visually impaired guide), which has been filled with sounds and smells unique to New York City (no word yet on whether that awful manhole stink is included)."

South Street Seaport
11 Fulton Street
New York, NY 10038

Thursday: 10:00 AM- 7:00 PM
Friday: 10:00 AM-9:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM-9:00 PM
Sunday: 10:00 AM- 7:00 PM

Tickets range from $36 - $31 (depending on the day of the week and age)


NYC ZOMBIE CRAWL :: 6th Annual Springtime Crawl
Sunday, May 27th 

Last, but certainly not least...


I don't think I need to say more.  It's a zombie crawl, my friends.  Fuck ya.

Check out the organization's website (link below) for locations and times and other relevant info (this year's crawl will be based in Brooklyn).  It's looking like it's going to be quite the carnival of carnage!



That's all for now, my lovelies - I'm chomping at the bit to get ready for Speakeasy Dollhouse.
I just hope I don't end up playing the victim... Or do I?  
(Ahahaha! I slay me sometimes.)



Thursday, February 02, 2012

Killing Spree


So, what is horror?  Let the search begin...

I have always advocated knowledge through firsthand experience. For example: I could tell you that a knife is really sharp a million times, but you wouldn't really know what "sharp" meant until you decided to juggle a set of six sushi blades while blindfolded, right?
Right...
(Not right.  Seriously, don't try that.)

In that vein, I am providing the first installment of "Killing Spree" - a weekly/bi-weekly roundup of all the creeptacular goings-on about town.
Maybe you'll spot me at some of them, maybe you won't, maybe I'm trying to get you to leave the house because I'm hiding in your closet and plan on setting a bear trap underneath your pillow as soon as you're gone.
Who knows?

Guess you'll just have to find out for yourself!


Ending soon
MONICA COOK :: VOLLEY
Closes February 11th

And that's all I have to say about that.

Postmasters Gallery
459 W 19th Street @ 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10019 (map)

Tuesday through Saturday 11 - 6 PM








RANDOM ACCESS THEATRE presents "Rope"
Closes February 12th

You probably haven't heard of him, but there's this really nifty guy named Alfred Hitchcock and he made some pretty great movies involving rather creepy themes.  I'm going on hearsay here, because I haven't actually seen it, but apparently Rope is an underrated one.

Well, on the off chance that you haven't seen it either, here is a perfect opportunity to catch it in play form, as presented by the acting group Random Access.
Check out this little preview:
 

Here's an idea: My friend is having a dinner party next week, so why don't we drop by her place after checking the performance out together?  Sounds like a plan.


$25 General Admission
$35 Reserved

The Access Theatre
380 Broadway @ White Street
New York, NY 10013 (map)

REAL/SURREAL @ The Whitney Museum
Closes February 12th

Lily and the Sparrows, 1939
If my subconscious were an apartment, I'm pretty certain Francis Bacon and Yves Tanguy would have done the interior decorating...
... along with Mr. Philip Everwood to my left here. This is a show I won't be missing.

Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
New York, NY 10021 (map)

Closed Mondays; Open 11 AM - 6 PM all other days (until 9 PM on Fridays)
General Admission: $18
Students, Ages 19-25, 62+: $12
Ages <18: Free
Admission is pay-what-you-wish on Fridays from 6 - 9 PM

THE WORLD OF FROUD
Closes February 12th 

"Animazing Gallery will be presenting the first U.S. exhibition of Brian Froud's paintings and drawings, including original artworks from his published, international best-selling books and all of his concept drawings from Jim Henson’s film Labyrinth."
I don't think I need to add any other justifications for your checking this exhibition out.  Oh wait... I think some of the puppets are on display as well. 
Now I don't need to add anything else.

Animazing Gallery                                                                Mon - Sat: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
54 Greene Street @ Broome Street                                   Sun: 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
New York, NY (map)

Coming Attractions

 Opening this Friday:
 
"Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), recently widowed and still grieving the loss of his wife, is sent to a remote village to put a deceased eccentric's affairs in order. But soon after his arrival, it becomes clear that the villagers are hiding a deadly secret. Kipps discovers that his late client's house is haunted by the spirit of a woman who is trying to find someone and something she lost, and that no one -- not even the children -- is safe from her terrible wrath."
Yep. Definitely seeing this.

 
"The last two employees (Sara Paxton, Pat Healy) of a century-old haunted hotel go on the hunt for ghosts."
Those who know me, know how obsessed I am with haunted hotels.
  
Opening 2/17:
"While hiding out in Eastern Europe, Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) must once again become the Ghost Rider when members of a secret church hire him to save a boy from Satan."
Nicolas Cage heard you were making fun of him, so he's here to make you pay for it.
No, really. He's broke. He wants your money.

Opening 2/24:
"In the new suspense thriller GONE, Jill Parrish (Amanda Seyfried) comes home from a night shift to discover her sister Molly has been abducted. Jill, who had escaped from a kidnapper a year before, is convinced that the same serial killer has come back for her sister. Afraid that Molly will be dead by sundown, Jill embarks on a heart-pounding chase to find the killer, expose his secrets and save her sister."
But... but... it has Wes Bentley in it... it can't be that bad... right?
RIGHT??? 

Ongoing
CARRIE: The Musical
Until April 30th

Do you find yourself just lying around, feeling mopey, crying into your dirty pillows?
 Well then boy-o, do I have the perfect event for you!

MCC Theater at
The Lucille Lortel Theatre
121 Christopher Street
New York, NY 10014 (map)

Runtime: 2 hours 15 mins
Weekly Schedule: 
Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday - 7 PM
Thursday, Friday, Saturday - 8 PM
Saturday & Sunday - 2 PM

Ticket range from $89 to $149
Buy tickets 
http://www.mcctheater.org/tickets.html
or 
MCC Theater Offices
311 W 43rd Street, #302
New York, NY 212.727.7722 

*** Update: Apparently, this musical is truly a horrorshow, and not of the good kind. Then again, do you put stock in what the New Yorker has to say about anything? ***


You should go. To all of these events.
They're all gonna laugh at you if you don't.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Manifesto... of sorts

I have a hard time understanding why “War Horse” is a drama and “Night of the Living Dead” is a horror film. What? It’s because there are flesh-eating zombies roaming the countryside in the latter? Oh. Okay. Yeah, that’s much more shocking and gruesome than the actual carnage of World War I.  And don't get me started on Topthorn...

This disconnect between actual scenarios and those depicted in artistic media is one that has intrigued me throughout my life, especially when it comes to horror as a genre.  Fact and fiction often occupy separate statuses among audiences, with the former often being attributed to the latter, and other erroneous preconceptions about the relationship between the horror of real life and the horror of screen/page/canvas abounding.

But to me it is undeniable that horror exists more in our daily lives than it does in any artistic incarnation and the reality is that you don't have to be a "horror fan" to know horror.

Have you ever bitten into a wormy apple?
Do you read the newspaper, shocked by the bloodshed or injustices taking place worldwide?
If you don't hear from a loved one for a day or two, do you start to imagine the worst? 

I am always amused by those who balk at the brutality of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” while avidly reading tales of war and torture in newspapers; while playing video games in which the near-universal objective is to “kill” the enemy (and not just games like “Call of Duty;” even good ol’ Angry Birds necessitates that you annihilate those darned pigs); while rubbernecking at the sight of a car wreck or road kill; even while deciding on how best to eliminate their rodent infestation (anyone who has had to clear a mousetrap knows what I’m talking about here).

Okay, the everyday scenarios do not assault our delicate eyes with buckets worth of bloodshed. But that which scares us is not defined by the amount of blood spilled. My boyfriend is quite afraid of public speaking; whether it’s an angry mob of murderous mummies or a room full of guests at a kitten convention, the mere idea of addressing either en masse is enough to give him heart palpitations. I am a severe claustrophobic; extreme terror for me lies in elevators, storage closets and getting my jacket zipper stuck.

I am even more frightened of human nature at its worst. And regretting. And of myself, at times.

Which I think is at the heart of the issue.

Almost six years ago when I first started IckAckEek, I set out to embrace all elements of horror; in so doing, I found myself at odds with a formidable foe – the stigma attached to those elements.  Today, much has changed.  Before, the word “horror” itself was enough to make most shy away from whatever manifestation it was being used to describe.  Now we see spooky spectacles surfacing in every form of media, from vampires hawking automobiles to zombie self-help literature.

What hasn’t changed, however, is a misunderstanding of what horror is exactly.  Best case scenario, it is something that elicits a "shuddering fear", this experience being desired by fans of the genre. Worst case scenario it is a brain-child of depravity, inspiring or encouraging the stories and scenes exhibited within its dark walls.

While there are certainly arguments one can make in support of both positions, I feel that the truth lies somewhere in between. Rather, the genre seeks to spotlight the actual horrors of this world and to showcase how man’s worst fears materialize in daily life. I think that horror can even be a positive thing, even elevating these moments to ones of beauty.  Horror can be seen as showcasing the atrocities of man… it perhaps exaggerates them to such a degree as to inspire opposite behavior through reactions of shock and disgust and fear. Or perhaps it establishes a self-awareness that allows one to keep the darker side of oneself in check. There is also the argument that it provides catharsis of our innate violent tendencies… I’m not sure where I stand on that one; however, it’s an interesting idea.

At any rate, I return to this blog resolute and with my mission honed - to shed light on this misunderstood genre and to finally reveal the answer to the question, "What is horror?"

Through event calendars, film reviews, discussions, anecdotes, recipes, and a crapload of other posts, I will show that horror is not just a genre of film or literature or artistic expression - horror surrounds us and pervades every aspect of our lives. I aim to explore the many masks of the macabre... and to show that there's a little bit of horror in everything and everyone.