Easter Bunny Myth (Or How a Raunchy Rabbit Got His Own Constellation)

I’ve always wondered about the origins of the Easter Bunny. I knew a little, like that Easter comes from the Anglo Saxon goddess of Spring called Eostre or Ostara. The more I dug, the more interesting things I uncovered.  Eostre was concerned with waking up the countryside after winter (a bit like the Persphone myth).

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Legend has it that Eostre was feeling guilty that spring was arriving so late (The original celebration took place on the first full moon after the spring equinox). When she arrived on the scene to warm things up for Spring, she saw a bird frozen in the snow, dying. She cradled the shivering creature, nourishing it with life.

The bird became her pet (also lover). He could no longer fly (as his wings were icicles), so the goddess transformed him into a snow hare with the name of Lepus. (There’s a whole other story about Lepus from the Greeks involving Orion.)

She gave Lepus the power of swift speed so he could evade hunters (presumably Orion). However, to honor his former stature as an avian, Lepus was able to lay eggs. This is where it goes a bit raunchy. Lepus, being a quick one, starting hanging out with some other girls. Eostre, jealous, threw the hare up into the stars where he remains to this day as a constellation.

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Later, Eostre took pity on her former lover, allowing him to return to Earth once a year for (you guessed it) some egg laying. The catch was, the eggs only went to kids participating in the Eostre festivals held each spring.

Tim Kane

What Sort of Vampire Are You (Revisited)

There are more sub-types of vampires than I care to count. Just when I think I have the list narrowed down, more pop into my brain. So, continuing along the vein of the last post, here are some other vampire options for your wish list.

The Punk Vampire

Although there are multiple vampires that touch on this category, only one truly embraces it. Spike. The bit character that exploded into the most interesting aspect of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The attitude here is Sex Pistols meets Lestat the vampire (in the rocker sense). Spike is the sort of vamp that just wants to have fun. I recall one time where he said he wouldn’t want to kill all the humans, then there wouldn’t be anything fun to do.

Biker Vampires

A cousin of the punk vampire is the biker vampire. Here you have the painfully 80’s and stylish Lost Boys vampires led by David (Kiefer Sutherland). I mean, is there one of them that doesn’t have an earring? But they do exude a certain level of cool. The I-can-do-whatever-I-want vampire.

Bordello Vampires

Despite a bar populated by down and dirty bikers (the human variety) it’s the female vamps you have to fear. These girls will tear you apart (literally). The upshot: as this sort of vampire, you get killer looks most of the time. Downside: You get damn ugly fast in the killing spree. Check out From Dusk Till Dawn.

Mafioso Vampire

Actually, there are multiple choices here. The first is from the one season only TV show, The Kindred: The Embraced—a show that had different species of vampires all fighting for control of the city. There was one boss vampire (Prince Julian Luna) and all the other clans vied against each other. The series was based on a role playing game (and a LARP version) called The Masquerade.

As great as this series was, to see real vampire clans (both the Euro-trash suits and the enforcers) you have to turn to the Underwold series. What’s better than gun toting vampires? Gun toting vampires that duke it out with werewolves.

Ninja Vampires

These vamps sneak around in skin-tight black speedos and wield swords. They’re about as badass as you can get and still be a vampire. The nemesis of the Blade series, these ninja vamps make their appearance in Blade II (where our cuddly damphyr has to team up with them). Check it out.

That’s all so far. Plenty more vampire types out there. But that’s enough bloodletting for now.

Tim Kane

What Sort of Vampire Are You?

With so many choices for vampirism these days, the decision for immortality can be a daunting one. But stay with me, curious reader, as we delve into the murky world of the fanged undead. Stroll the aisles and choose the form of blood-lust that most appeals to you.

Sparkly Vampire

Yes, this the Twilight variety. Able to saunter around in daylight (looking eternally glum in the process), this vampire has some great features to consider. Sunlight has no negative effects. Plus, you become a disco-ball in the blazing sun. Bonus. Add to that the special ability you get by going vampiric (prophecy, telepathy, tracking) and you’re a vampire that’s going places.

God-Fearing Vampires

Good old fashioned undead who shriek in the sight of the crucifix. Nothing beats the original. People often debate what happens when the cross-bearer or vampire isn’t Christian. Stop it. You’re complicating things. Just accept that crosses make the vampire flesh sizzle like bacon on a griddle.

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Also known as the “Ugly Vampire.” These vamps often have chrome domes and pointy ears.  But hey, looks aren’t everything. You get super long fingers, nifty German-Expressionist shadows, and the ability to cause disease. Who’s missing their hair now?

And now, new and improved, Nosferatu with hair. Check out the Radu model from Sub Species.

Public Vampire

Maybe you don’t want to spend eternity in the shadows. Maybe you want to party down with your blood-sucking self. Why not opt for the public vampire. One that’s been outted from the coffin.

True, there are all those fangbangers to deal with. Groupies always flock to the famous. A warning here: with fame comes certain consequences. People want to drain your blood and sell it as the drug V. Now the vampire is the victim. Go figure.

Virus Vampire

Do you want vampire friends, but don’t relish the three bite quota of most vampire conversions? Well look no further, the virus vampire is your answer. Any blood contact, bite, scratch, hangnail, can create new vampires. This variety sprouts a nasty set of teeth, bordering on shark-like.

They have the added benefit of never truly dying. Just a bit of blood is all that it takes to revive them. Take a look at the grandaddy of long-living vampires, Christopher Lee in “Dracula, Prince of Darkness.”

Go ahead, make your choice. After all, if you’re going to be stuck with immortality, you might as well get the features you want.

Tim Kane

Happiness is a Disease

Love doesn’t make you happy. Neither does money. It turns out that happiness makes you happy. Sounds redundant, doesn’t it. But it turns out that happiness is a sort of social disease. Check out this study done by the Framingham Heart guys. They studied 4739 people for twenty years. The conclusion was that being around happy people makes you happy. It even works on two degrees of separation (a friend of a friend). But not with happy coworkers (who probably just annoy you).

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This brings up all sorts of crazy ideas. Like, could you inoculate yourself against happiness? Could there be a happiness cult? As always, my mind turns to film in these instances. The first to pop to mind was actually TV. In the episode Plato’s Stepchildren of Star Trek (1968), the crew is captured by the Platonians. These beings can control the crew, making them act in all sorts of ridiculous ways. The best is watching Spock laugh. You have to zoom ahead to the two-minute mark to see Spock emotionally freak out.

This is just crazy laughter. To see real, infectious laughter, we need to turn to Austin Powers. Here, Dr. Evil has just revealed his plan, and then his laughter spreads to everyone in the scene.

Then, there’s laughter that disturbs you. Ash, from Evil Dead II is deranged. It’s the sort of happiness you never want, but that sometimes happens in the wee hours. This too is mighty infectious.

So I guess the counterpoint to this theory is: If you want to be happy, ditch the slugs and nay-sayers and hang out with some happy folk.

Tim Kane

Self-Destructing Ideas (To Sit or Not to Sit)

Imagine if you had an idea. A great one. Something that might amaze people. Only to have that idea explode into nothingness after a few people hear about it. This is not fiction. It’s a reality.

Book and music companies use digital rights management (DRM) to control how their products are used. Harper Collins only allows library users to check out a book so many times before the book “self-destructs”. They say that this mimics the wear and tear on a real book. But the digital copy doesn’t have wear and tear. It’s just an idea.

To make this point even more absurd, take a look at the Self Destruct Chair by graphic designer Thibault Brevet. This seat is designed to allow eight people the pleasure of sitting on it. After that, it falls apart and you need to buy a new one.

DRM CHAIR from Thibault Brevet on Vimeo.

We’re all used to products built as cheaply as possible so that it easily breaks. Then you really do nee to buy a new one. But ideas don’t break. That’s what a digital book is. An idea. Yes, companies need to make money, but limiting library access is ridiculous.

Another example of seats that attack back comes from China. It seems there are too few benches in parts to accommodate all the butts that want a seat. Most people would assume you’d simply build more parks. Nope, the folks of the Yantai Park in Shangdong province, eastern China, have other ideas. The benches are coin operated. Yes. They have spikes that stick up to keep you from sitting. Slip in a coin and get a few precious minutes of ass time before the iron maiden spikes skewer your nether regions.

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Oh, for safety reasons, the benches emit a piercing bleep just before the spikes pop up. So now we’ve destroyed two ideas: The idea of sitting on a bench, and the idea of a quiet park (imagine the chorus of beeping, coupled with the occasional yelp from a slow park-goer).

Incidentally, the Chinese were not responsible for this brilliant idea. The bench above is built by Fabian Brunsing and is called the Pay & Sit bench. Apparently, this has been torturing Europeans for a few years now. Check out this video (meant as an actual advertisement to get you to purchase one).

PAY & SIT: the private bench (HD) from Fabian Brunsing on Vimeo.

I think the next logical step is this:

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This is a conceptual art piece titled “Office Terror” designed by Johan Schulé. I think this artist nailed it (so to speak) that sitting is a pleasure and should not be overlooked. Just like any idea. You can’t tax or make money off of it.

Tim Kane

Nosferatu: The Film Resurrected (Part 2)

Florence Stoker, widow to Bram Stoker, did all she could to stamp out any imitators to the vampire in Dracula. She had all copies of Freidrich Willhelm Murnau’s Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie des Grauens burned. Yet Nosferatu did not stay dead. Like any good horror movie, the villain revived himself and carried on the fight. A print of the film resurfaced in 1929, playing to audiences in New York and Detroit. However preeminent Dracula scholar, David J. Skal, writes that the film “was not taken seriously” and that most audiences considered it “a boring picture”. The print was then purchased by Universal to see what had already been done in terms of a vampire movie. The film was studied by all the key creative personnel leading to the Universal production of Dracula in 1931.

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The undead film continued to rise from the grave throughout the years. An abridged version was aired on television in the 1960s as part of Silents Please, and subsequently released by Entertainment films under the title Terror of Dracula, and then again by Blackhawk Films under the name Dracula. Blackhawk also released the original version to the collector’s market under the title Nosferatu the Vampire. An unabridged copy of the movie survived Florence Stoker’s death warrant and was restored and screened at Berlin’s Film Festival in 1984.

Despite its influence on the making of the 1931 Dracula, Nosferatu has few film decedents. It’s theme of vampire as a scourging plague has only been seriously taken up by two films: the 1979 remake by Werner Herzog, Nosferatu: The Vampyre.

Another film (same year) was the television miniseries of Salem’s Lot, directed by Tobe Hooper.

Perhaps if the original Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie des Grauens had been allowed regular release, this would not be the case. It remains to be seen if Nosferatu will vanish again with the daylight or if this rare film will rise again in a new form.

For more information on the making of the original Dracula, check out David Skal’s book Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen.

Tim Kane

Nosferatu: The Film That Died (Part 1)

There is no doubt that Freidrich Willhelm Murnau’s Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie des Grauens (Symphony of Horror) is a piece of landmark cinema, both for its Expressionist filmmaking and its unique treatment of the vampire as plague. Yet few people saw this monumental film prior to 1960. Though slated for destruction by Bram Stoker’s widow, the film managed to survive, popping up in the most peculiar places.

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Here is a trailer for Nosferatu (colorized, but it’s the best of the batch) that shows just how ominous Max Schrek was in this part.

Nosferatu debuted at the Marble Hall of the Berlin Zoological Gardens in 1922. The movie was the first and last product of a small art collective called Prana Films — the brainchild of artist Albin Grau (later Nosferatu’s production designer). A month later, Florence Stoker caught wind, and she started the legal machines rolling. Her only income at this point was her deceased husband’s book Dracula, and she would not let some German production company steal her meal ticket. During the 1920s, intellectual rights were a bit dodgy, so Florence paid one British pound to join the British Incorporated Society of Authors to help defend her property. Never mind that the society would also pick up the tab for the potentially huge legal bills.

Florence_StokerFlorence seemed unaware that a second vampire film, this one called Drakula, was produced by a Hungarian company in 1921. Although the title harkens back to Bram Stoker’s novel, the resemblance ends there. This film, now lost save for some stills, was more concerned with eye gouging than straight out vampirism. Nosferatu on the other hand took much of its plot from Stoker’s Dracula, changing only the names.

The film continued to be exhibited in Germany and Budapest up through 1925, though Prana was beleaguered by creditors and harassed by Florence Stoker. They tried to settle with the society, offering a cut of the film’s take in order for them to use the Dracula title in England and America. Florence would not relent.

She not only wanted Prana to halt exhibition of the film, she wanted it torched — all prints and negatives of the film destroyed. And she got her way. In 1925 Florence won her case and the destruction order went through. Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie des Grauens vanished into thin air just as Count Orlock, the vampire in the film, did when exposed to the rays of the morning sun.

For more information on the making of the original Dracula, check out David Skal’s book Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen.

Tim Kane