Monday, October 31, 2011

The Halloween Post.....!!

A long time ago, before Christianity, before Christmas, the western world was as pagan as could be. They had hundreds of gods, who sometimes had to be appeased with blood sacrifices no less. Their religion was Druidism, and it held particular sway among the Celts - the people of Ireland, Britain and northern Europe.

Though the gods of the Celts have been ignored for centuries now, one particular tradition survived the coming of Christianity and is today one of the most celebrated festivals in Europe and America after Xmas. We call it Halloween and associate it with fun and partying. But in those days, it was a solemn affair honouring the dead.

The Celts called it Samhain ( pronounced as Sahween) on October 31 which marked the end of Summer and the beginning of winter on November 1. They believed that during this time, the division between our world and the realm of spirits lie open - enabling the souls of the dead and other supernatural beings to walk the earth.

Besides the souls of their departed relatives, other more scarier creatures were also free to roam about on the night of Samhain. So people decided that dressing up as a witch, vampire or some demonic being or other, would enable them to blend in. Strange huh? Here in the east, dressing up as a Pontianak (female vampire) for instance, would be seen as an invitation instead........


People would place plates of delicious food or treats on their doorsteps to appease the hunger of wandering spirits and placate them, so they would not cause any harm to them or their property. Kinda like the Hungry Ghost Festival no?

The Jack O' Lantern

My plastic pumpkin from Watsons. Gripevine pic.
No Halloween celebration is complete without Jack's devilish grin right? This lantern is the ancient symbol of a damned soul. It was originally carved out of turnips or beets. However when the Irish started migrating to America, they found scarce turnips to carve into Jack O' Lanterns. But there were plenty of pumpkins to be found. The rest is history of course.

This post marks the end of my series of articles on all things Halloween. To those who took time out to read my ramblings, Thank you!! Happy Halloween 2011 folks, hope the night to come is memorable, even if the 'Strange' folk don't pay you a visit..........

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Witching Hour

When I was a kid, I assumed witching hour means the time when witches left their homes and zoomed about on their broomsticks. The other day I decided to do a little Googling to find out what the term really meant, and it appears I was about half right. Coz witches are not the only ones who come out during that potent time of the night.

Popular belief has it that ghosts, demons, and other strange otherworldly creatures also make their appearance after the clock strikes 12 midnight, which officially signifies the start of witching hour. Many people believe that black magic is at its' most powerful during this time.

If you have watched many spooky movies like me, I'm sure you'll remember that the demons, zombies, and other creatures of the dark usually make their appearance around this hour to plague their victims. So it is kinda generally accepted that bad things usually happen during this time.

In The Exorcism of Emily Rose however, the term witching hour can also mean the time from midnight to 3am. In the movie, 3am is said to be the Devil's hour as opposed to 3pm when Jesus was supposed to have been crucified. Then there are those who say that witching hour is from 3am to 4am.

My View..........

To me witching hour is the time between the end of one day and the start of another. A time with great potency for magical things to happen and magical creatures to appear. Not necessarily bad ones'.

From what I know and have heard from others, people are more likely to see the spirits of their departed relatives during this time, experience ghostly disturbances, or see some very, very, strange things...........

My mum used to work in this multinational company in Pasir Gudang, Johor. Once one of the driver's there told her that while he was driving on the Pasir Gudang highway at about 4am, on his way to pick up a boss who had to be sent to the airport, he saw a white tiger cross the road and make its way up a hill. There's a small temple dedicated to Goddess Shakti atop that hill.

For those of you non-Hindus, the tiger and sometimes a lion is depicted as the vehicle of the Goddess in popular iconography. I doubt the white tiger intended to show itself to the driver, I just think that sometimes during witching hour, we glimpse things, things that are not visible under the harsh light of day...................

Have any of you had strange experiences during witching hour? Or perhaps you've heard a creepy tale or two from friends. If you do, please share them with me!! I love ghost stories, and there's nothing like a spine tingling or goose-bump inducing story to brighten up this coming Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Yummy Halloween Food

If you're gonna throw a party this All Hallow's Eve, my suggestion is to go all out! Let there be eyeballs floating in your punch bowl, a generous drizzle of blood atop your caramel pudding, rotting fingers protruding  from your chicken pie........get the picture? Well here's a couple of stomach churning images to get you started.

These blogs and websites show you how to dish up a feast worthy of the undead!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Get Evil With Those Nails....!!

Whether you're a witch, werewolf or some nocturnal creature or another, your prey will not be convinced that you mean business until they see your nails. Yes folks, it's those claws and talons of yours that will serve to strike terror into the hearts of your victims! Here are some pretty ghoulish looks worth considering this Halloween season.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween Cover Looks

Hollywood movies provide oodles of style inspiration when it comes to choosing a costume for Halloween. Especially the movies of Tim Burton. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Alice in Wonderland in particular have done much to inspire the fashion world.

Here are several fashionable takes from these two movies which can serve as style ideas for this coming Halloween!

The Demon with the white streak................

Gothic Helena

What Fashion made of it............

Alice in Fashion

Depp goes Mad

Red & White........the Queens


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

After the Light......

The sun will set on Diwali the festival of lights and bright colours in a couple of hours. And in less than a week it will be time to usher in another festivity. But unlike today which is a celebration of good triumphing over evil, the next big bash of October is all about the darker side of life.........

I'm talking about Halloween.........!! That time of the year when one is free to give their dark side full reign. No one's gonna ask you why you're clad in black from head to toe on Halloween, or quiz you on your blue lipstick and chemical green nails. I kinda dress like that on normal days too - so I know what it's like, having to contend with questions from nosey parkers.

So as one who loves all things Gothic, I've decided to countdown to Halloween by blogging about it! Beginning tomorrow until October 31, I shall write, write, and write about all things associated with this festival of darkness.

There'll be a fashion post, recipes for the bloodthirsty, and spooky tales that shall unnerve even the brave. So keep reading the Gripevine!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Plagiarism & the Web

The internet is like a force of unmoderated power. It has ushered in progress yes, but every once in a while something happens that gets us thinking. Last week was one of those moments. The topic was plagiarism and the man of the moment was Jonathan Mak, 19, a graphic design student from Hong Kong.

In August he posted  a design of an Apple logo on his Tumblr blog as a tribute to Steve Jobs who resigned the same month. Nothing happened, then Jobs died on Oct 5, and suddenly Mak became an instant sensation! His design was shared from one corner of the virtual universe to another, well this is Tumblr after all! - the reblog blog.

Instant Fame 

Ashton Kutcher posted the design on his Twitter account, it was also printed on commemorative caps and T-shirts sold on eBay, news media reported on it, job offers started rolling in. In short Mak was famous! Then he became infamous. By the very weekend of Jobs death, people started telling him how similar his design was to that of Chris Thornley, a British graphic artist known as Raid 71.

Mak's design

Thornley's design

Then the Brickbats.........

On Sunday (Oct 9), Thornley's wife Julia commented on Mak's blog about the similarities in both designs. More bad news flowed from there - negative postings calling him a plagiariser made its rounds on the internet, the media picked it up. He was in the news once more, but for all the wrong reasons.

Mak however denied the accusations. He said he had searched the internet for inspiration and also to ensure he was not copying. He acknowledged that Thornley got his idea before him, but said the design for his concept was not inspired by the latter's.

The Outcome

Julia left another comment on Mak's blog saying Thornley accepts his explanation and does not bear any grudges against him. Earlier Thornley who is being treated for cancer, acknowledged the dangers the digital age presented to creativity, and said Mak had been as honest as he could about the situation.

So is Mak a plagiariser? I doubt it. As it turns out, several other designers have also produced similar designs. It just happened that Mak's design went viral. Maybe the others did not use Tumblr to showcase their work huh? In any case, it's a tweaked design of an Apple logo with a silhoutte of Jobs in it. Anyone could have come up with that idea. It does not require a great dose of ingenuity to do so.

The thing with the internet and the masses that use it is that, they can be quick to praise and just as quick to vilify. It's become a great medium to spread the fire in recent times, remember the London riots?

Mak and Thornley however are not the first designers to be embroiled in such a scenario. Earlier this year illustrator Aaron Wood whose vintage social media propaganda posters became an instant web sensation, was accused of plagiarism too.

It so happened that Aaron's posters closely resembled that of Brian Winfield Moore who has been selling his art work for about two years now. However both Aaron and Brian choose an amicable solution by denying any act of plagiarism.

Check out Aaron and Brian's posters here:

In fact this is what they did:


In both cases, the parties involved conducted themselves with grace and diplomacy. Many artists, designers and writers are surfing the web everyday for ideas and inspiration. This will not be the last time something like this happens. Let hope all those who are faced with similar situations in the future handle the matter in a way that benefits all parties involved!