Great Canadian Ghost Stories, and Where to Find Them

21 Oct

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Book launch on Oct 23, 7pm at Bolen Books
1644 Hillside Ave #111, Victoria, BC

Fans of supernatural lore can easily find a wide selection of Barbara Smith’s books collecting ghost stories in many a public library. Each of them focuses on a specific region and as she wrote in her latest work, Great Canadian Ghost Stories from Coast to Coast, “Please know that all my books of ghost stories, including this one, have been written to entertain and inform, not to change anyone’s belief systems.”

From Labrador to Vancouver Island, this work does a great job at offering the best-known tales to read before bed. I found The Isle of Demons from way out East particularly sad — a newlywed family was left to fend for themselves there, but its reputation got the better of sailors when they needed help — and for Victoria, British Columbia, my home, to decide on which story is best to spotlight must have been tough. Two are offered: the shade at Beacon Hill Park (too common of an entry in many works for my taste). I had an experience at Hatley Castle, and that’s my number one choice. Understandably, the administration wants to play that down, but the stories and what I heard says it all.

Another I’m trying to encounter is the Time Slip on Shelbourne street. I drove through this path many an October night for the past several years. The thought of this path becoming country is theoretically an illusion because when tired, the autumn foliage can trick the mind. I have a slip of paper in a plastic mylar bag to drop to test the theory of, “If you find this note, please find me in the years of 1978 and onwards.” My interest in the paranormal started in that decade.

This superlative collection covers favourites like The Dungarvon Whooper, The Ghosts of Fort George and The Banff Springs Hotel. I’m still looking for mention of the Sooke Staircase and feel this piece of folklore is overlooked! Another entry to note about my home province is that no, the doll Mandy did not inspire the Nicolas Cage movie of the same name. The movie took place in the Shadow Mountains of California, and it has its own demons for visitors to deal with.

I particularly enjoyed how this work represents the Great White North as a whole. The folklore from Nunavut is most likely still being pieced together. When considering how widespread and isolated citizens are, I firmly believe we have a lot of cabins in the woods scenarios. To find one that’s not akin to Evil Dead will be difficult.

The content offered in this collection is reading time well spent. Smith’s prose is easy to follow. Although I know more than half the stories already, they are worth revisiting when the mood strikes. She’s been writing these books since 1993, and her experience shows. She tells these tales as though she’s passing knowledge from one generation to another so that certain aspects of Canada’s past are not forgotten. The loss of lives at sea will always be hard-hitting. Mariner tales, especially “Mysterious Rescue,” early in this book sets the tone. Sometimes, those “Ghostly Footsteps” are just that; the dead has no interaction with the living, but are fleeting memories so we can at least acknowledge their presence. The entry on “Historical Hamilton House” hits all the right notes not only about the rise of Spiritualism in Canada and why many took to it, but also explains the Ackroyd connection. This family’s interest spanned generations and the comedian took ideas to pen the comedy classic Ghostbusters.

Barbara Smith’s books are often found in bookstores when the Halloween season arises. This latest work updates a few details. There’s no denying we all love a good ghost story by the campfire, but when we want to go find answers, that’s a different kettle of fish. My advice: just do not try (not many books stand out) and simply enjoy discovering Canada’s past from a supernatural angle. I feel that’s this book’s purpose, as I would love to ride those haunted railways once again.

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Nostalgia or Mission Impossible with Magnum P.I.? A Review

19 Oct

Image result for magnum pi 2018By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Even after weeks of watching the reboot of Magnum P.I, I still think Tom Selleck is the definitive version. He has an adorable charm the new star does not have and it’s not about being another macho man.

When Donald P. Bellisario and Glen A. Larson created this crime drama, the first goal was to emphasize the camaraderie between this title character, his irksome landlord (Major Domo), and the soldiers in arms who helped each other out thick and thin. Okay, the series got two out of the three right.

As the original series progressed, parts of Thomas past were shown. He had a wife. During his last tour of duty, they were together, but a raid tore them apart. She was believed to have died. However, other agencies were at work; the later seasons revealed her fate. This story arc was important it came back to taunt him as nightmares. I was sad when the series ended. The tease at the end suggested that should it come back, the story can continue with his daughter following in her father’s footsteps. She might even join the Navy. This continuation would have been perfect since it allows room for Selleck to return.

Instead, a reboot was ordered. Peter M. Lenkov and Eric Guggenheim developed this new series. Just because the former won an award for the re-imagined Hawaii 5-0 and the latter is showrunning, it does not mean they should handle a beloved classic. This take tries hard to capture the flavor of the original, but does it too much where I kept on asking myself, “Didn’t I see this scene before?”

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Silly Lucasarts, Star Wars: Resistance is for Kids

17 Oct
shawn

The views and opinions of this editorial are my own and do not reflect that of Otaku no Culture.

By Shawn Trommeshauser
(Dreaming in Digital)

Do not want.

I’m probably done with Disney’s Star Wars. The animated series, Rebels was great, but I’ve had major issues with the direction they’ve taken with the franchise as a whole. I have no interest in seeking out this show as the trailer just screamed ‘kids show catering to the kids starring kids’.

While that’s a perfectly acceptable approach, it’s just not what I’m looking for. Normally I’d give it a shot to see if I’m proven wrong, but nearly everything they’ve done with the series on screen and behind the camera has severely let me down and the previews for Resistance did nothing to interest me at all. Many episodes on, I still had no interest in watching. Sadly it’s looking like Star Wars just isn’t for me anymore.

I was originally avoiding Solo, but I was bored last week so I finally watched the first Star Wars film to fail. And despite some issues I have with it, it was still the most fun Star Wars film Disney made so far. It wasn’t full of epic, loved characters who were all completely depressed and beaten down by life. Seriously, who thought that a perpetually depressed Leia, a Luke that ran away from the world, a Han that gave up on the life he’d made, and the completely unexplained negation of the victories of the original movies were the formula for the return of Star Wars that the fans wanted to see?

Image result for star wars resistance

One of my biggest gripes was in how Disney wiped away the Expanded Universe [now called Legends – Ed]. When they bought Star Wars, they didn’t just buy films and books and copyrights. They bought the Star Wars Universe and the fans which go with it.

Star Wars is one of the very few creative properties that transcend the original presentation. And if we’re being honest, while they are VERY important, the Star Wars films are also a VERY small percentage of that universe. When they dropped the EU, they dropped the vast majority of what made Star Wars special as a franchise.

Sure they’re making money, but at this point, it’s like Apple. They used to be amazing. But now they’re coasting on their former reputation and the fans continue to buy simply because of the name brand.

A New Urban Legend is Born in Mandy, A Movie Review

15 Oct

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

  • Spoiler Alert

No, Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough) is not the wife/girlfriend of Paul Bunyan. When this movie by director Panos Cosmatos is titled after her, this character’s role is critical to driving the motives of another woodsman to a brink of madness. They were happy once. He’s a nobody about to become a somebody (more on this later). This woman is very forlorn; Riseborough is perfect in this role, offering pathos in her moments of sadness. Because of events that occurred in her youth, she never felt quite right. She prefers to live a life in isolation but yet, her feelings for Red (Nicolas Cage) when they first met, runs deep. The two are soul mates. One day, on her walk home, Jeremiah Sand, a priest of sorts, takes a liking to her and orders his minions to her kidnap her. Linus Roache must have been channeling Billy Drago’s trademark style of villainy, as I was sold instantly!

If you have not seen this movie yet, I advise checking it out sooner than later. It might stick around until Halloween, but it’s already nearing the end of its run at some theatres.

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