Things I’ve Learned from Reading Ghost Stories

Some useful life lessons:

  • If the rent or sale price seems too good to be true – it is.

  • Don’t blow old whistles.

  • Found an ancient artifact? And it’s got a Latin inscription? Don’t read it out loud!

  • Ditto for old books.

  • Just put it back where you found it. Seriously.

  • Beware of “persons” in flappy flowy hooded garments.

  • Beware your child’s “imaginary playmate.”

  • If the mirrors are covered – leave them that way.

  • Ditto for paintings.

  • Ditto for plastered-over murals.

  • Never scoff at “old wives tales.”

  • There is no cat in the house.


Originally posted to Short Thoughts.

This Blog Post has Content

I’ve been thinking about the evolution of the word “content” as it relates to creative endeavors. “Content” used to be a quality of a creative work, especially a piece of writing: “this article has no content” means that it’s fluff, a puff piece, filler. Now we talk about an article as content—eliding the difference between a substantive, thoughtful piece of writing (or other creative act), and filler meant to keep the writer visible in their social media feeds. It’s disrespectful of both creators and the works that they produce.

So I now try to consciously avoid the word “content” as a synonym for a body of creative work. I try to use a specific word: “posts,” “articles,” “writing,” or even “creative work.”

I don’t want to get preachy about it, but I put this idea out there because I’d like to encourage other people who think like I do to do the same.

Addendum: Just as I was writing this post, Notion invited me to try their new “AI writing buddy.” Perhaps there is an application here for producing rote form letters or announcements. But the idea of having an AI to help someone write blog posts (a use case they promote) offends me to my very core. “Content,” indeed.


Originally posted to Short Thoughts.

Back to the Dilemna-verse

Earlier today, my husband, who knows he can’t spell, asked me how to spell “dilemma.” I spelled it to him out loud, the way I have always spelled the word: d-i-l-e-m-N-a. And I reflexively added, “Google it, to make sure.”

Woman in contemplation femme en contemplation 1901

“Here it is,” he replied. “Two Ms.”

“What?!? No, it’s ‘M-N’”, I said.

“Google says two Ms.”

“No!”

I looked it up myself, positive that this was an instance of a mispelling/malapropism that had become more or less standard, or at least widely used, like people writing “for all intensive purposes” when they mean “for all intents and purposes,” or the surprisingly common “defiantly” in place of “definitely.”

And I learned that in fact, it is, and has always been, “dilemma.” A quick trip to our actual, physical Oxford Dictionary of American English confirmed this.

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Quick update on my Micro.blog experiment

(I’ve updated the original post, too). I’ve switched things up so that Micro.blog now syndicates a feed from my personal microblogging site, Short Thoughts.

I’m going to use Short Thoughts the way I used Twitter, to announce new posts from all my blogs, as well as random short musings. It won’t be much: at most one or two posts a day, and probably often less.

If you are interested in such a feed, there are two ways to follow it.

  • You can join Micro.blog, and follow me there. This approach allows you to reply to my posts, as well as to follow other people in the community who interest you. You can join for free, just to follow and converse with other people, or sign up for a monthly fee to get a hosted blog site of your own.
  • If you use an RSS reader, like Feedly, you can subscribe directly to Short Thoughts. If you do it this way, the posts will have weird numerical titles, but it should still be quite readable, and you won’t see all the chit-chat of conversations happening on my Micro.blog timeline.

Or you can just bookmark Short Thoughts on your brower, and check the page periodically. Whatever works best.

Trying a New Syndication Strategy on Micro.blog

Up until now, I’ve publicized my blog posts on Twitter and Facebook. This is not a terribly effective strategy, for a variety of reasons most people summarize as “The Algorithm.” And as time goes by, my appetite for logging on to those sites has dwindled to non-existent — again, thanks to “The Algorithm.” And yet, I still feel the need to let the world know when I’ve written something. So, I’m going somewhere different.

All my blogs — Multo, Ephemera, Dark Tales Sleuth, and even NinaZumel.com — are now syndicated at Micro.blog, at the link https://micro.blog/MultoGhost.


UPDATE 31 Oct 2022: After a couple of days, I decided I didn’t like the terse “just the title and a link” view that syndicating my blogs gave me. So I built myself a little microblogging site, Short Thoughts, on Github Pages and syndicated that instead. I’ll be using that site the way I used Twitter, to announce new posts with a short introduction, across all my blogs.

If you’d like a feed of all my blog post announcements, with less chit-chat than might occur at Micro.blog, you can subscribe directly to Short Thoughts via RSS.


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TV Take: Strange New Worlds

What do Mario Bava and Star Trek have in common? Hopefully, Strange New Worlds. Let me explain…

Watching television

I don’t consider myself a particularly die-hard Trek fan: the only Star Trek series that I’ve seen in their entirety (and the only ones I rewatch) are The Original Series and The Animated Series. I’ve seen parts of all the Trek series from the nineties/early 2000s, and enjoyed them well enough, but I can’t say I was ever a super enthusiast.

The first Trek series comes from the era of The Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, and other similar anthology series. It definitely shares some of the weird tale sensibilities of those shows, as well as Rod Serling’s insight that speculative fiction is an effective and relatively subtle vehicle for addressing current events and controversial ethical issues. And as speculative fiction goes, I prefer the uncanny to science fiction. To the extent that later Trek shows lost that eerie, weird tale vibe, I correspondingly lost interest.

So I’ve not been following so-called “Nu-Trek,” nor had any desire to. But my husband watches Star Trek (pre Nu-Trek) more enthusiastically than I, and he’s been following the fan discussions about the new shows. The word on YouTube seems to be that Strange New Worlds has got that Original Series vibe. My husband got curious enough to sign up for a trial period of Paramount+, and so far, we’ve watched the first three episodes. I’m liking it.

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Vincent Price’s The Price of Fear

Lately, I’ve been folding laundry while listening to the Vincent Price radio drama The Price of Fear. The episodes are excellently written, and often based on a well-known horror short story.

Not only does Price narrarate each episode, but he’s been folded into the adaptations as a character. Well acted, and fun to listen to. And each episode is the perfect length for a load of laundry!

So far, I’ve listened to four episodes, and I’m really enjoying it.

You can find the episodes at the Internet Archive.

Here’s another link, which includes short descriptions of each episode, as well.

Enjoy!

Dark Tales Sleuth: Two-Thirds Done!

Somewhat over a year ago, I started the Dark Tales Sleuth blog to record my progress tracking down the sources of unattributed stories in the 1856 three volume anthology, Evening Tales for the Winter. I’ve been working on the project on and off since then, and yesterday I wrapped up what I could discover about Volume Two!

MadelynMack books
Image from Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective, by Hugh C. Weir (1914). Source: Internet Archive.

Of the last four stories in Volume Two, two were non-supernatural crime or adventure tales, one was arguably a ghost story, and the last a gothic demon tale. I’ve already featured Charles Macfarlane’s “Hungarian Robbers” in my Classic Crime series, so no more needs to be said about that.

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Dark Tales Sleuth is Still On the Case!

Remember my other blog, The Dark Tales Sleuth? That’s where I’m tracking down the sources of the unattributed stories in the 1856 anthology, Evening Tales for the Winter, edited by Henry St. Clair. I’m still working on it!

MadelynMack books

After wrapping up Volume One, I started on Volume Two with what seemed like a straightforward case, which quickly turned super interesting. I began with what I thought was a plagiarism of one of the seven “horrid novels” from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, and found what I think is an alternative (and earlier!) translation of the first section of the German source novel. Pretty cool!

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