horror

Paramilitary S******** Knitter Army- A Conspiracy Theory

If you go to Google and type in ‘knitters are’ and let it autofill there are probably some things that would come to mind, based on stereotype.

Old, boring, naive, cute, etc.

Something to that effect.

But if you go and type in ‘knitters are’ and let it autofill now, you get something a little bit weird.

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A couple of things leading into this post: this conspiracy theory (referred to as CT from here on out) is new. It’s about 5 days old as far as I can tell. It heavily involves fiber culture, so if you’re the type to be into CT only you may have missed a lot of the back story so I’m going to be including part of that background for clarity’s sake, not as a political statement. And that leads into the third point, this is a heavily political CT so there’s really no escaping at least an overview of the politics and is not necessarily an endorsement by the blogger.

The basic theory goes something like this: there is effectively what could be referred to as a paramilitary syle socialist leaning knitting (and crocheting) army made up of primarily liberal leaning women spurring on a great deal of the protest movements including the women’s marches, especially the march in Washington DC, surrounding the current political administration.

The CT seems to center around an actually heavily gender biased assumption about the nature of crafting: it’s about those pink hats that are exploding everywhere. Pull up a photo of the already mentioned march and you’ll see a sea of pink hats.

I found the theory via this tweet thread:

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The rest of the thread, needed for context, is here.

Basically through the discussion this original poster (op) doesn’t understand a few pivotal things about the nature of crafting-that crafters use social media, that women can actually get together to craft when they care to, that knitting doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and that pink yarn is a pretty common thing in the world. [No one tell this kid about truck days at the grocery store or how stuff is shipped en masse around the world either.]

The thing is, if you dig through the thread it’s heavily implied that this tweet isn’t an isolated thing. There was actually some sort of weird thought process surrounding how the hats showed up and why, and there was apparently some sort of theory around that all these women knew to show up with the hats all at once with no prior knowledge. It’s…also sort of implied that we can’t, like as women or knitters or both we just don’t have these thought patterns. It’s very odd.

Some of this I can get. If you were on the fiber culture related parts of Instagram or Facebook the hats were impossible to avoid. They were everywhere. I won’t use the word bullied, but there was definitely this sort of social pressure to make hats (I actually didn’t make any, for reasons that aren’t political in nature). But it does need a certain level of exposure to this subculture-I mean, I don’t follow NASCAR media and therefore have no idea what’s going on over there. It’s understandable.

This CT, or mini-CT sort of became a joke, especially some of the stuff quoted in the tweet thread, around my FB. I think as a group we sort of figured it was an isolated oddity and it would die out.

Then came the Joy of Knitting Facebook fiasco. A yarn shop came out and said that the owner would rather have feminists not purchase at her store because they’re vile, nasty people (that’s a paraphrase but not by much). I won’t link to that page but the statement and the surrounding firestorm of attention has gone national so googling it will bring you up to date. In other words, the US suddenly was introduced to what used to be called radical crafting.

So now we’re coming up on the Google thing: the search recommendations are based on part on how many people have searched for those terms. In other words, people honestly think we’re ruining the country. People honestly seem to think that we’re some sort of major political leftist leaning network (trust me, that’s deeply untrue). Just in the name of science, I actually let Google take me to the suggested results for that tag, and they’re weirdly all over the place. One of the results is about the Koch brothers so I think that’s just similar letters, and there’s a couple of things on the everlasting fight between crocheters and knitters (who’s more rude, who’s more snobby, etc). Oddly, there’s nothing in there about us ruining anything, really. Which makes me think that people are Googling and Google’s not finding anything. However…and this is important because CT doesn’t necessarily take care of tying up loose ends in terms of factuality (don’t look at me, they don’t) it’s hard to tell how long that this has been the ‘normal’ response from Google. It could have been like that forever and we’re just looking for stuff like this now because of our sudden paramilitary status.

This is easily the strangest thing to come out of an already bizarre month.

American Horror Story and Universe Building

We’ve been talking about the boundaries of Murphy’s metaverse in relation to AHS. What we know exists: aliens, ghosts, Satan/demonology, witchcraft, voodoo, psychics [a la Cricket, who I have to tell you I adore], there’s hints that Cricket practices hoodoo what with the saint work, or a type of voodoo, the afterlife in a variety of forms, angels, vampires of a type, zombies both voodoo and Romero style, and apparently curses of a type.

What we haven’t really seen: cryptids, Big Foot, the fae, the Wild Hunt [which has been established in American horror-lore and folklore at this point], shapeshifters, Poltergeist-style cemetery desecration and after effects, Egyptology a la old school Universal mummy stuff, Baba Yaga [though he has established at least the loa which opens up the suggestion of deities and/or cultural spirits].

I wonder where his line for ‘this is too much, everything but that’ is.

Personally I would love to see him get his claws into the Wild Hunt and I think that the way that it’s been used by modern American horror writers makes it a really solid option for this season. I don’t think it’s going to happen [I have my own theories about this season including unreliable narrators and other such themes], but I would love to see it.

There’s also a whole range of subgenres that he seems to be ignoring, either deliberately or just due to stylistic oversight or blindness-now that we’re multiple weeks in I feel safe to say that I was actually really hoping he was going with a good Southern psych/gothic horror and wouldn’t be centering so much on supernatural methods. I love supernatural horror, but I would love to see what he could do with just people messing with other people.

I feel that Murphy is also going with a lot of old school horror tropes this season, which has me torn. On one hand I can’t necessarily get upset with him for using traditional horror structures when, you know, the point of the series, but I’m a little…disappointed? when I can tell you with some certainty who’s going to die first, have them actually die, and hope to hell that the reasoning isn’t what I fear it is. However while Murphy does tend to come in like a sledge hammer he does tend to have slightly more subtlety than that-and before anyone goes too flailing on me, he really is. I’ve written over the past few seasons about his work with the mother and the oddities (the beautiful, beautiful, necessary oddities) of his women. There’s generally more going on in AHS than a lot of people seem to be willing to give him credit for-I am not going to go so far as to say that his work is feminist [it’s not. Period.] or not flawed [in a lot of ways it is. Deeply] but he honestly lets his characters have a much deeper range of expression than a lot of series would otherwise allow them. Seriously, the sheer presence of fully developed female villains who aren’t necessarily being driven by being scorned by love interests or coming out at the end as just being ‘misunderstood’ is actually a positive development in on-screen gender expression. You mean women have the same range of motives as men do?

While I’m hoping that this season holds up to the same pattern and he’s actually going somewhere with these tropes, at the same time, he’s actually sort of due a surface level season that plays the tropes straight-this is after all a series created to do just that.

The Halloween Mask Effect

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This is a repost from 2014, but in light of it being Halloween season again, and actually an election year, I’m pulling this one out again. No, I have no idea currently which mask is selling better this year, and I would be surprised if that data is out yet-but I might check in a few weeks.

I know that we’re now in November and therefore past the point where this is relevant, but at the same time, I really like this quirk (assuming this is true, and I sort of want it to be true).

It’s claimed that you can tell who will win a presidential election in November by what masks are sold for Halloween in October. This claim holds true for American society, but I’m not sure if it’s limited to Americans, if it’s because Halloween is currently a heavily American holiday, or if no one’s bothered paying attention to anywhere other than the States.

But it’s apparently accurate with a fairly freakishly high success rate-you can tell who will win by who is the most popular candidate to dress up as.

However, that’s probably the key word: popular. While the ‘nasty’ costumes for less than loved politicians are common, people like to collect and surround themselves with images of things that they like. Therefore, they’re going to be more likely to buy a costume of someone they are more willing to vote for than those they have no interest in. It’s an extension of popular culture; the images that people like are the ones that they want to dress up as (I read that Ryan Murphy was startled to already see Twisty the Clown costumes on the street this year-and multiple of them, to boot). The trend supposedly dates back to the 1988 election, with Reagan being the successful candidate and the highest selling mask. Or 1980, depending on source. However, the basic idea is still the same-for the past 30 years or so, the American election can be predicted by the sale of Halloween costumes.

This is one of those trends that is weird enough that pop culture loves it. It makes for a wonderful headline (Halloween predicts presidents! Next it’ll rain frogs!). I like it because it starts getting into those interplays that make sociology fascinating.

Strange Election Indicators: Halloween Masks

6 Bizarre Factors that Predict Every Presidential Election

Halloween masks predict Obama win 60-40

Halloween makes predict elections?

For Halloween 2012 prognosis, look to…Halloween masks?

Halloween Presidential Mask Sales Have Correctly Predicted Last Five Elections

Mount Misery Road, Huntington, New York

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Long Island is way too far off for this legend to be listed as a Haunted Western New York entry.

[That may seem obvious, but I, and many other New Yorkers, know that a lot of people who aren’t from the state split New York into New York City and Not-New-York-City with very little understanding of the geography of a fairly large state. Long Island and Buffalo are pretty much at opposite ends.]

However I do still favor New York ghost stories, especially during a month filled with them.

According to legend the road is not called Mount Misery because of the stories associated with it-it was just not a nice area to live in and extremely hard to farm. However the name is probably not aiding the road in shaking any ghost stories that have been started through the years [have you noticed that a cemetery is much more likely to be haunted than the OB ward of a hospital, even though if we’re honest with ourselves, they both most likely see a fair amount of death?]

However the name came into being, there are suggestions that the area has had a haunted reputation for almost as long as the area has been settled-though it is worth noting that just because the stories claim connection to the 1700s doesn’t necessarily mean that the legend itself dates to the same era. Regardless, the legend claims that there was an asylum built along the road in the 1700s and a female patient was killed [the dates for the hospital are shaky, and increase the potential for the eras to have been added at a much more modern point-some reports place the hospital at a much later 1840]. She eventually became the first ‘woman in white’ ghost seen along the road, and her story may have slowly merged with more modern stories who claim a phantom hitch-hiker in the same region.

The Lady in White is not the only type of ghost claimed to be haunting the road. There are stories of lights, suicides, ghost vehicles, and ghosts that will interfere with vehicles to ‘stop’ accidents (even if the road is already clear). There are echoes and implications of wider regional legends such as the presence of the ghost of a woman murdered and dumped along the road; this is a legend that exists throughout the Long Island region as a whole, as well as potentially linked into wider Mid Atlantic and New England lore.

Regionally, there are some potentially troubling ghosts that are supposed to be haunting the region. Like several other areas settled by Western Europeans (especially the British and Dutch) both Mount Misery and Sweet Hollow Roads have their own black dogs/black shuck style ghosts. Reflecting the dullahan and its American cousin the Headless Horseman, there is a man supposedly wandering the area with a basket of severed heads. Finally, a cop will sometimes pull you over or appear a the scene of minor accidents and break downs. There have been reports that he is missing the back of his head.

Mount Misery and Sweet Hollow Road

Mount Misery

Connecticut Phantom Crash, 1997

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I have spent a fairly long time on a fairly ancient laptop, as far as laptops go- the machine I had been running was over a decade old. It finally died outright, for all intents, this weekend and I bought a tablet/2-in-1. The machine itself works much, much better so hopefully I will be able to blog more consistently now (and I do mean actually be able-it was taking me close to half an hour to write three or four paragraphs). I am trying to figure out the battery patterns on this machine, though. I’ve never seen a computer that decides when or if it’s going to charge and I don’t know if it’s a battery issue or if this is deliberate.

 

I will admit that this is a very vague story, but one that I really wish was better developed online (even if it were to be truly folkloric).

The development of new technology will eventually become reflected in the folklore of the era. So we start  with phantom armies, and move into phantom carriages, trains, cars. Therefore it’s really only natural and probably a matter of waiting for the development of ghost planes and phantom crashes.

One of these crashes is claimed to have taken place in Westbrook, Connecticut in 1997. There were witnesses to the crash-though the reports were admittedly odd. Eyewitness claims stated that there were no waves kicked up from the plane, let alone wreckage. However rescue crews were sent out and nothing was ever found of the supposedly downed plane.

The crash report is vague and sounds suspiciously like at best a misidentification and at worst an outright fabrication. However this is not the only case like this on the books in the United States. Reports of phantom plane crashes in various forms ranging from distress calls and sounds to full visual sightings may date as far back as 1955-and may become more common as aircraft and air travel become that much more ingrained in culture.

List of phantom crashes

The Death of Addie Grey

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The Death of Addie Grey

Accessed as an Ebook

Amy Cross

237 pages

$0.99 at time of writing

 

I am always a little skeptical (okay, critical) going into a piece knowing that it depends on children to push the plot forward. Done well, children in horror can be terrifying. Done poorly, the results are a little hysterical and eye rolling.

While Addie Grey has a few eye rolling moments (I’m not a fan of over the top parents in horror-this led to an, uh, interesting thread on my Facebook wall about why parents in horror insist on referring to themselves in the third person), the book is actually pretty solid. Falling somewhere between true haunting and true possession horror, with something of a time travel (but not quite) thrown in, the story line manages to cover a lot of traditional ground with enough new ideas to keep the plot from seeming stale. However, if you’re looking for a ‘true’ bump in the night haunting novel or a ‘true’ demonic or possessed child plot, this is probably not the book for you.

The plot does have a few bumpy places-like I said, the characterization of the parents manages to come across as a little wooden (the mother cares just a little too much and the father cares just a touch too little). There’s a little too much resistance in the plot to the reality of their situation (which, admittedly, would probably slightly less interesting as a book if they were a little more willing to involve outside aid). And there’s a comment about how the reality of the thing hits home due to a change in vocabulary-but I’m not sure the entity that’s involved would be someone that would use that language either (there’s an issue with age, but I’m not sure the spirit involved would be of that age either).

Addie Grey is a child who, after a long period spent in a coma, comes back to consciousness…different. After a series of escalating events her parents are forced to accept that the spirit inhabiting her body may not be the child that they knew prior to her accident. When her mother finally accepts that her child is no longer her own-both she and Addie are forced to confront a series of challenges potentially larger than what they ever would have thought possible. By the end of the ordeal, her mother is convinced that everything has returned to normal-but the suggestion is made that the door has not been shut all the way.

The thing is, the novel is -good-. Not awesome, not amazing, not top of the pile for quality. But it is easy to read, the plot moves well, most of the characterization is solid. There’s a few plot twists that aren’t overused and even the ‘monsters’ such as they are are generally sympathetic (as in, you can understand why this is taking place on an emotional level). You can certainly read a lot worse in this genre. But it’s sort of the horror version of a beach read-this isn’t going to be a classic in genre but if you just want entertainment, you’ll find it.

The Blue Lady [Moss Beach California]

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Creepies of the 80s and 90s were children when Unsolved Mysteries was on air in the States-and that show helped launched many of us into full on love of the weird, odd, and scary. That theme song still makes the hair on my arms stand up.

One of my favorite aspects of that show was the ghost and haunting segments-I really didn’t care about the disappearances or unsolved crimes. Aliens really didn’t do much for me either, and I remember a segment about people who could turn street lights on and off as being a little bit baffling (as in, it’s something I probably will never be able to do but at the same time, it’s not anything I found (or find) terribly impressive either).

However a lot of those ghost stories have lingered for me. The show was my first introduction to the Blue Lady. I have never found this story creepy or scary at all; if anything I have always found the story a little bit sad. Who is she waiting for? Does she know he’s not coming?

The story is a little vague and for that I apologize. At a restaurant known as the Distillery in Moss Beach, California, a woman in a dated blue dress can be seen at the bar. She looks like she’s waiting for someone. Legend says, including the Distillery’s own website, that she was in a relationship with the piano player. The Lady may or may not have been married already; regardless of the state of her romantic life she and the player were assaulted on the beach below the bar some time during Prohibition. She was killed while he was not, and she may still be at the bar, waiting for him to return. The haunting has a lot of the ‘traditional’ aspects of American hauntings-moving items, cold spots, locked doors, as well as full sightings of the infamous woman in blue at the bar.

[It is worth noting that like the Grand Island haunting in Buffalo, a lot of the haunting is played up for the sake of publicity. In the case of the Distillery, the show Ghost Hunters found that many of these events are created. Whether or not the push of the legend pre-dates these effects is unknown.]