Suicide, getting crushed to death, and cults.

What if H. P. Lovecraft got thrown into a black hole? I don’t mean the literal person, I mean his ideas, and I mean black hole to work on a couple levels, the light-smashing region of space, and the depths of depression. Keep that in mind, it will come in handy.

If H. P. Lovecraft’s cosmic philosophy got chucked into a black hole, I think we’d get this here.

Here’s how the book that comes with it starts: “Sometime in the Spring of 2009 I tried to kill myself. Six months before that, I used a Voor’s Head Device for the first time.”

If you’re still here, check out this video review and then come back and read the rest of this, because it won’t make much sense without the review, unless you’ve been smart and bought the album already. It comes with the book as a pdf file, so you can listen and read at the same time.

First let me talk about the music. I got interested in this album because of track 7, which is the sample on Bandcamp, so go check that out. It seems to be the fan favorite. I normally hate reverb with a passion, especially when stuff is slathered in it like this album. But this works for me. I agree with the video, it’s more about atmosphere. So where does H. P. Lovecraft come in?

In case you don’t know much about Lovecraft, he made up some gods that represented cosmic forces that don’t’ really care about us. Actually, it’s not even really that they don’t care about us. Did you ever see that Twilight Zone episode where these two guys crash on a planet, and the one guy finds some little people and goes on a crazy power trip? If you haven’t I’m about to spoil it for you. The guy stays behind, and some giants show up. One of them steps on him, picks him up, and when the other one asks what it is, he says “a little man … some kind of little man”. That’s Lovecraft’s gods, in a nutshell. They don’t care about us not because they’re apathetic or because we can’t cause them any problems, they don’t care about us for the same reason we don’t care about ants or amoebas. Half the time they don’t even realize we exist.

So how in the hell does Lovecraft relate to this album? Well, Lovecraft made his gods to represent cosmic forces, and humanity’s insignificance in the grand scheme of things. So what if you took that and smashed it down to a human level? You get this album. We’ve got a cult, we’ve got books of forbidden knowledge, we’ve got weird experiments, oh, and we’ve got an uncaring universe too.

Remember in the review where he talked about the song Spectral Bride? He says it’s about being so depressed that you want to kill yourself, but you have a loved one, so you’re going to be with them as a ghost. Yeah, kind of. Except he left out a really important part. From the book we learn that Robert Voor believed in something called spectral jail. Essentially, when we die, we’re just sort of trapped here and condemned to wander around the earth or in the atmosphere or something, it’s not precisely clear.

So not only are you so depressed that you want to kill yourself, not only do you have a loved one which will probably make you even more depressed about wanting to kill yourself, you’re also going to be screwed when you do kill yourself. Either you think you have a chance of redemption by being around this person as a ghost, and then surprise!, spectral jail!, or you know about the spectral jail anyway. In either case, being around them isn’t some chance for redemption or the best you can do to be with them or help them out of your depression, it’s just more punishment for the both of you, or you if they don’t know anything about your love. We are not talking about a shiny happy universe here. But it doesn’t seem as though the spectral jail is a punishment, like hell is a punishment. The spectral jail just sort of exists, it’s just the way things work. The universe doesn’t care, and that probably results in our insanity. That could be a theme of this book and album, and it could be a theme of Lovecraft. One’s personal, and one’s cosmic.

We’re not done yet. Remember I mentioned the levels? If you look at this thing right, it’s provoking questions about reality, and how we figure out what it is. Take the Voor’s Head Device, for instance. Is it “real”? Well, what does that mean? If he made up Robert Voor, probably not. But hang on, what if he really did make such a device and wear it? What if that stuff at the end of the first track really is him wearing this thing and having some sort of vision or fit? If Robert Voor isn’t real, did he really try to kill himself? Are these even the kinds of questions we should be asking? The first thing I did after reading the book and listening to the album was google for Robert Voor, and as the reviewer said, everything seems to point back to this album.

But I have to tell you, figuring out whether Robert Voor is real or not won’t make this thing any less harrowing, at least, it didn’t for me. I disagree with the reviewer, I think the book adds whole new dimensions to the album. Taken together, fictional or not, I think they’re a pretty damn powerful portrait of depression and madness. How much of it is mythology, and how that mythology works, I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. “True” or not, I think it’s a powerful story, and if you’re not really disturbed at this point and like the music at all, go buy the thing and … well maybe enjoy isn’t quite the right word. It is a pretty awesome album though, but you’d better appreciate horror. If you don’t, well just listen to the music if you like it and ignore the book, I guess. But in my opinion you’re missing a huge chunk of the experience if you ignore it.

Does this thing get it 100% right? Nope. But I think it does a pretty good job. If you don’t mind you some darkness, buy this thing. It’s well worth it. Prepare to be creeped right the fuck out though.


Every TV theme in the world I could think of, explained!

OK, not really. For something fun on my birthday, I decided to give everybody who wished me happy birthday on Facebook a random TV theme from my childhood, and then admonished them to collect them all. However, since I know te youth of today are lazy and without feck, and I’ve had some comments on the enterprise, and also probably didn’t hit a few here and there due to more people not wishing me happy birthday, here’s the extra expanded version, for those of you what are curious and/or masochistic. And please note, this is going to be long enough already, so I’m missing out some obvious mainstays, particularly in the eighties, e.g. Transformers, The Smurfs. Also, though I mostly picked TV shows I watched, this isn’t really about the TV shows I loved as a kid, it was more about hitting themes that came readily to mind. OK, here we go, in order from first to last for the Facebook stuff:

Ah, Underdog! Cool theme, and Simon Bar Sinister is the villain for me. Plus it’s a super weird joke. Bar sinister means a bar on the left or descending to the left or some such in heraldry, and it could also mean Simon son of Sinister, if he’s Jewish.

Battle of the Planets! Used to watch this when I was about five or so, on “WPHL 17 in Philadelphia”! It was in the beginning of the let’s bring over everything from Japan and reanimate it craze. See also: Marine Boy, Ultra Man, Space Giants. You’ve got your 7Zark7, your fiery phoenix, it’s good stuff!

Aaaaaand Speedracer, of course! “… he’s a demon on wheels. He’s a demon and he’s gonna be chasin’ after someone”. Seriously, what more could you need? This was another after school hit on WPHL.

I think this was technically before my time, but I caught it on what I remember as “Krofft’s Superstars”, but it was apparently called “The Krofft Superstar Hour”. Fun fact: McDonald’s ripped off Pufnstuf!

Hey look, it’s Star Blazers! This is another reworked Japanese show, from the eighties. I swear there were two different versions of this show or something, but I’m too lazy to go look it up. But it had two different overarching plots, I’m pretty sure. In one of them the villain was named Deathlock or something like it, and his minions would chant “Deathlock Deathlock Death Lock”! Grab your wave motion gun kids, we’re leaving mother earth!

Breathes fire, his head in the sky! I’m pretty sure I always thought this said “and stands in the sky”, but still. When I saw this it was called “The Godzilla Super 90”, I’m fairly sure. I don’t remember what everything else was in it, but one of the things was Johnny Quest. Tarzan might have been in this as well.

If you don’t know the Superfriends, then kids, I can’t help you. They were pretty much the reason to get out of bed on Saturday mornings, as far as I was concerned.

Ah, the Bugaloos, heirs to the Beatles and Monkees TV shows. More Krofft goodness. Lost Saucer was good too, and we’ve got one more of theirs coming up.

I’ve got nine simple words for you. Prepare to have this song stuck in your head.

Land of the Lost! And not that new bullshit with Uncle Jack either! Thank you, Krofft brothers.

I don’t think many people remember The Brady Kids, but I do. They had a magical talking bird, called appropriately enough, Marlin the Magic Mynah Bird. I don’t think this show lasted very long, because I’m pretty sure it was also on WPHL 17, and most of the stuff I remember from there was the seventies.

OK, there’s all the Facebook stuff, now let’s hit some more. Somebody, I won’t mention any names, apparently isn’t happy with my selections. She says she doesn’t remember any of them, and when I responded that if she’d grown up here, she would, she responded with “I’m not a boy”. So fine, here’s your damn girlie TV.

Truly truly truly outrageous! She had a computer named Synergy which might have had her dead mother’s voice, although I might be confusing that with the computer from Defenders Of The Earth, she had earrings that were hologram projectors. But they weren’t the first to rock their way into the hearts of little girls via cartoons, oh no no no!

I have no idea what half this song says. And I don’t want to know either. It will probably be stuck in your head too.

Man, Rainbow Bright was a damn ripoff, huh? You call that a theme bitches?

They had enemies called the Grumplins, no idea what they were, and they had things called tickle crystals. Seriously, I’m not making that up. But since they came out of a toy, and you don’t get the truly annoying aspect from that theme, here’s a commercial.

OK, if this keeps up I’m going back to my boy shows, (whoa that sounds really wrong), because this theme sucks!

Wow! OK, I’ll give this dude one thing, he is really really trying! It’s like he’s singing a kids TV theme song but also going “hey divorced moms, I’m a great catch. Call me ladies … your kids already love me”!

Horses can’t smile. Yes, I’m an asshole.

OK, this theme immediately brings up a couple of questions. First, she’s He-Man’s twin sister. I know what he means, and I know what a man is. So she’s She-Ra. I know what she is, but what’s a ra? Also, if I remember my She-Ra correctly, she was kidnapped by Hordak at birth and didn’t know her parents and such until later. So here’s a question. How is it that one day she just up and decided, “you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to hold my sword over my head ans say ‘for the honor of Greyskull!’ I don’t know what that means or anything, but I just feel like trying it”.

What the hell was up with the eighties and bears? Also, they’re building an airship because dreaming of getting into a van would be just a little obvious.

OK, that’s enough of that, here’s stuff I’ve missed or left out for some reason.

I was asked to include this one, and the only reason I didn’t before was because it was really obvious. Fun theme though, and a big part of the eighties for me.

I’m including this not because it was a good show, it was awful, but because nobody remembers the damn thing. But I do, and I will not let the world forget!

This show couldn’t decide if it wanted to be all adventure, or a cross between Speedracer and Transformers. There was at least one whole season where the fights M.A.S.K. and V.E.N.O.M. had occurred because they were in a race together. Like literally they all entered a race at Random Track, and they’d get in a fight during the race, no crime or anything. Cool theme though.

Oh look, it’s a Voltron ripoff! This is another show nobody seems to remember but me.

Finally, before we leave, let’s work in a couple old shows.

I have no idea in the depths of hell what this show was about. I know I used to watch it when I was really little, I know it had other little sub-shows, sort of like Underdog, and that’s about it. I will add that I vaguely remember it having words, but I might be getting that confused with the song. Yes, there’s a song, and it was all about Woody Woodpecker getting layed. Oh, you don’t believe me? Foolish foolish people. There are even multiple versions!

Here’s some jazz for your ass.

And seriously, do not miss this craziness.

Finally, we get to this one. It’s probably hard to believe, but here’s what I got out of this theme as a kid. “Casper the friendly ghost, the friendliest ghost you know, mumblemumblemumblemumblemumblemumble”.

Thoughts on ancestry.

Note: All quotations are from “German-American Folklore”, Mack E. Berrick.

I used to know somebody on Facebook who got upset when I claimed that Southerners weren’t especially persecuted. As an example I mentioned the fact that we were called “dumb Dutchies” growing up. They took that as one town in PA mocking another town’s dialect, but Southerners were especially persecuted because they had become a byword for stupidity. My point wasn’t that Southerners weren’t picked on, certainly they’re more widely known than the PA Dutch, but rather that other groups got picked on for many of the same things they claimed as uniquely Southern persecutions, e.g. not being able to handle/complaining about the weather, their slow way of speaking, and so on. I gave up because the discussion was pretty pointless, but even though they’ll likely never read this, I figured I’d document that, among other things. So let’s start with the stupidity.

“During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1713), the Palatinate was again overrun, and migration to Pennsylvania began in earnest. Fearing that these Germans would become a dominant force, the Pennsylvania Assembly passed laws requiring them to swear allegiance to the British Crown, increasing taxes on newcomers, and threatening disenfranchisement until they learned English.1 The attitude of the English toward the Germans is epitomized in a letter written by Benjamin Franklin in 1753, characterizing them as “the most stupid of their nation,” and expressing the fear that German would soon become the official language of the state.2 Ironically, there is an apochryphal legend that when the first national House of Representatives met in 1789 to decide, among other matters, the official language of the new nation, a tie vote between German and English was broken by the speaker, Friedrich Augustus Mühlenberg, a Pennsylvania German, who voted in favor of English.3″

So not only were we considered stupid, we were the original immigrant terror. Yay us! Speaking of Republicans, my mom once said that she hated to tell me, but my great grand father helped establish the Republican party in Schuylkill County. Let’s recall though that the Republicans were a very different beast back in the day, and probably closer to what the Democrats are today. So for example: “Some came as farmers, but substantial numbers remained in St. Louis, where their liberal political inclinations helped keep Missouri in the Union”.

I keep saying that when I moved from PA to WI, in a lot of ways I felt like I hadn’t really moved, you get polkas on the radio in both places, for instance. Apparently there’s a reason for that.

“Similarly in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania Germans who had lived for a time in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, or Illinois constituted a considerable number of settlers in the southern counties.15 However, the majority of German settlers were Forty-eighters-political refugees who had arrived with an intention of establishing German republics in the New World. In fact, when Wisconsin was admitted to the Union in
1848, there was an unsuccessful attempt to establish it as a solely German state.16 Between 1836 and 1850, about forty thousand immigrants, mostly from southern Germany, many of them Catholic, arrived in the state. One immigrant noted as early as 1852 that “German customs and usage reign in Milwaukee.”17 The long-lasting evidence of their influence, here as in St. Louis, was the founding of German breweries, making Milwaukee synonymous with beer production in the United States.18”

So let’s see, I’m liberal and generally opposed to war, good chunk of PA Dutch were and possibly still are pacifists, so check. I’ve said many times that if the Republicans changed, I’d have no problem being Republican. I’m not a Democrat because of the party, I’m a Democrat because they seem to most closely support my ideals. And the Republicans were probably closer back in the day. So check that one off too. Of course I like beer, I’m German. Mustard too, we may as well get that one out of the way. It’s sort of interesting, politically, to find so many potential similarities. I’m reminded of my grand father, who fought in WW II, but also once remarked of Native Americans “we should’ve left them the hell alone”. I couldn’t agree more.