What Happens When a Giant Wants to Eat You?

I’ll be honest, I don’t keep up with Anime. Recently, I stumbled across an awesome series in Japan called Attack on Titan. The long and short of this series involves giants (called Colossus) that like nothing better than to gobble up us poor humans.

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Apparently, this series has gone viral in Japan. There are hundreds of photos of people pretending to be giants and eating other people.

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Then the Titan phenomenon reached a new level with Subaru. The car company created a commercial with the colossi attacking the vehicle. Watch it on YouTube.

So be careful the next time you’re driving through Japan.

Tim Kane

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The Bloody Eye of Horus

Ever read a newspaper story about someone mutilated in an accident? We can’t look away from these things. As human beings, we’re drawn to the macabre. It seems the Ancient Egyptians were no different. The myth surrounding the eyes of Horus (god of kingship, victory, and the sky) is a bizarre tale.

horus vs. set

Illustration by James Ryman. Click to go to his website.

Every year I help put on an Egypt Day at my school for the sixth graders. This year, I wanted to give them a taste for the myths of the Egyptians. After digging around through my books, I discovered some really bizarre things about Horus.

First off, there are so many legends and myths in Egypt that contradict each other. For example, the god Seth is sometimes Horus’s brother and other times his uncle.I settled for one that I could string together in one sitting.

The Left Eye of Horus (The Wadjet Eye)

The Egyptians had two different types of desert: The red desert and the black desert. As Westerners, we’re trained to think of black as evil, but the opposite was true in Egypt. If you travel down to Home Depot or Lowes and buy some potting soil, chances are it will be black. That’s because black soil meant life. Red soil, at least to the Egyptians, represented the dry harsh desert.

Horus was the god of the black desert, which meant he represented life. His brother, Seth, stood for the red desert. So obviously these guys weren’t going to get along. As I researched this, their dynamic seemed similar to Thor and Loki.

Seth was jealous of Osiris, their third and eldest brother (a whole lot of other mythology surrounds the resurrection of Osiris and is better left to those with more authority). Let’s just say that Seth wanted what Osiris had and was willing to fight to get it.

Seth transformed himself into a bull (lots of animal transformations with these older gods) and trampled Osiris to death. Horus sough Seth out for revenge. Seth dealt the first blow, ripping out Horus’s left eye. Seth then cut the eye into six pieces.

Each piece became magical and stood for one of the basic senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and thought.

But still, Horus wanted his eye back. He turned to Thoth (god of Wisdom and the guy who always seems to get Egyptian gods out of a jam). Thoth glued the pieces back together using spit. Yes, spit.

EyeofHorusFractions

Here’s the geeky math part in me. Each part of Horus’s eye stood for a fraction. ( The part was also the hieroglyphic symbol for that fraction). When you add all the parts together, something interesting happens.

math

When you create common denominators (I also teach math in my myths) you find that there’s a piece missing. In other words, when you add all the pieces of Horus’s eye back together, one tiny part is missing. The Egyptians believed that that this missing part was filled in by Thoth’s spit.

So there you have it, Horus has a brand new eye. Now he’s ready to give Seth a beat down. He catches up with his brother and promptly slices off his leg. (Remember, Seth is still in bull form). Horus wants to make sure that the hoof that killed Osiris never harms anyone ever again.

You can still see this severed leg anytime you look into the night sky. Instead of seeing a big dipper, the Egyptians saw this constellation as Seth’s severed leg.

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In the next post, I’ll talk about Horus’s right eye (the Eye of Ra) and Sekhmet (the goddess you don’t want to invite to dinner, unless you have plenty of beer).

Tim Kane

How Does Your Body Move After Death?

There are actions on your body long after death. Many I wasn’t even aware of until after seeing “Danse Macabre”. When this first started, I thought… Uh Oh. This is going to be some artsy piece where someone “interprets” the movements of a corpse. No way. Nearly all the movements the actor/dancer portrays seem genuine and believable. I say nearly, because the rigor on the table leading to the fall is staged, but for a good reason. It leads to an incredible image of the person falling down the drain with her blood.

Here are some stills from the film.

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I had never considered how a person’s feet would slide after being hanged. This is a  detail that is typically lost when we think of a hanged person. Many of the movements in this piece walk the line of morbid and beautiful.

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This, as I said, was the most staged position. The rigor led to the body falling off the table. Yet the scene that followed was astounding.

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We go from a view of the drain to a shot of the body, curled up, falling away. Stunning.

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I had never considered this rather pedestrian movement of the body. Quite literally, it is lowered into a casket. I’d never thought about how the body was placed in there.

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The most beautiful, and surprising movement, came from an interior shot of the casket. As it is being moved around, the body slides. I’d never even contemplated that.

Here is the full video. It’s about 9 minutes.

Tim Kane

The Monsters that Lurk in Illuminated Texts

Imagine spending all day, every day, writing. That was the lot for many Medieval monks. It was grueling work, so we can’t begrudge them a little levity in the margins. The illustrations that adorn illuminated texts go from the silly to the downright bizarre. Here are some of my favorites.

A bird-like demon with a smaller fighting demon and a woman in his basket, from Nürnberger Schembart-Buch, 17th century

A bird-like demon with a two figures fighting in his basket, from Nürnberger Schembart-Buch, 17th century

I included this skeleton from Ars bene moriendi (France, 1470-1480) mostly because I love skeletons.

I included this skeleton from Ars bene moriendi (France, 1470-1480) mostly because I love skeletons.

Bizarre bird-cat from the Luttrell Psalter, Add 42130 f.197r, c.1325-1335

Bizarre bird-dog-tiger from the Luttrell Psalter, Add 42130 f.197r, c.1325-1335

 

A battle between headless combatants from the Breviary of Renaud de Bar, France, 1302-1303

A battle between headless combatants from the Breviary of Renaud de Bar, France, 1302-1303

Here we have what appears to be a demon (or monster) eating a doughnut. This is from Les Grandes Heures du duc de Berry, Paris, 1409.

Here we have what appears to be a demon (or monster) eating a doughnut. This is from Les Grandes Heures du duc de Berry, Paris, 1409.

There seems to be a trend in Medieval illuminations of animals attacking people.

Homicidal rabbit from Gorleston Psalter, England, 14th century

Homicidal rabbit from Gorleston Psalter, England, 14th century

A very angry, axe-weilding, ape. (Source unknown)

A very angry, axe-weilding, ape. (Source unknown)

Rabbits about to kill a man from The Smithfield Decretals, c. 1300

Rabbits about to kill a man from The Smithfield Decretals, c. 1300

We also see many examples of animal warfare.

Dogs battle rabbits from the Breviary of Renaud de Bar, France, 1302-1303

Dogs battle rabbits from the Breviary of Renaud de Bar, France, 1302-1303

Here, foxes siege a castle of monkeys from a 13th-century Bible.

Here, foxes siege a castle of monkeys from a 13th-century Bible.

A dog and a rabbit joust. Source unknown.

A dog and a rabbit joust. Source unknown.

And then there are the snails. Seriously. Many many illustrations show knights battling snails. Scholars are baffled as to the significance.

A knight about to slay an monstrous snail from The Smithsfield Decretals, decretals of Gregory IX, Tolouse, c. 1300. Illuminations were added about forty years later in London.

A knight about to slay an monstrous snail from The Smithsfield Decretals, decretals of Gregory IX, Tolouse, c. 1300. Illuminations were added about forty years later in London.

Another knight (this one riding a dragon) is about to spear two snails from The Queen Mary Psalter, c 1310-1320 via British Library

Another knight (this one riding a dragon) is about to spear two snails from The Queen Mary Psalter, c 1310-1320 via British Library

So the next time you see a snail, pull your sword.

Tim Kane

Creepy Webcomic with Pale White Corpses

I stumbled across the webcomic Out of Skin and was taken by the stark language and stunning, almost greytone, graphics.

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The prose also delivers: “The moon shone clean and white as a skull.”

The story is a period piece, perhaps late nineteenth century. It centers around a woman, who lives alone in the woods, discovering a grave of pale corpses uncovered by the rain. The mystery of what happens drags her down some creepy paths. Namely a tree with flesh for bark and hands for leaves.

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Truly a work of fiction that delves into some deep places of horror. Read and enjoy.

Tim Kane

The Surreal Banana People of Lin Shih-Yung

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a banana? Every night, you plant yourself in the ground. Maybe pour a little water on for growth. How difficult is it these days to raise a young banana? Lin Shih-Yung answers these questions and more you never knew you had with her surreal paintings. Take a look.

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Titled “3 Newts”

 

 

Titled "Wasp" this shows a person with a wilted leaf for a head.

Titled “Wasp” this shows a person with a wilted leaf for a head.

 

This one is titled "6 Newts"

This one is titled “6 Newts”

 

Titled "Fresh" it shows a green banana committing suicide.

Titled “Fresh” it shows a green banana committing suicide.

 

Titled "After Taking a Paint"

Titled “After Taking a Paint”

Apparently, the banana people are called Newts. You can see more images from her Flicker site.

by Tim Kane

Scare Yourself Silly in Just Two Sentences

I’ve read plenty of horror stories in my day. Most have to warm up to the scare. The following is a collection of micro-fiction each only two sentences long. That’s right, two sentences. This whole micro-horror movement started with a post on Reddit. Now it’s exploded into a new art form.

Barbara Steele from La Maschera del Demonio

Barbara Steele from La Maschera del Demonio

These stories were found at the Thought Catalog

I begin tucking him into bed and he tells me, “Daddy check for monsters under my bed.” I look underneath for his amusement and see him, another him, under the bed, staring back at me quivering and whispering, “Daddy there’s somebody on my bed.”

posted by justanothermuffledvo

I always thought my cat had a staring problem, she always seemed fixated on my face. Until one day, when I realized that she was always looking just behind me.
posted by hangukbrian
She wondered why she was casting two shadows. Afterall, there was only a single lightbulb.
posted by pgan91
They delivered the mannequins in bubble wrap. From the main room I begin to hear popping.
posted by Mikeysrventyfive
My daughter won’t stop crying and screaming in the middle of the night. I visit her grave and ask her to stop, but it doesn’t help.
posted by Skuppy
After working a hard day I came home to see my girlfriend cradling our child. I didn’t know which was more frightening, seeing my dead girlfriend and stillborn child, or knowing that someone broke into my apartment to place them there.
posted by cobaltcollapse
The longer I wore it the more it grew on me. She had such pretty skin.
posted by blaqkmagick
These micro-horror stories came from a site called Two Sentence Stories
The tiny creatures came through the rift from another universe. They look funny, with only four limbs and single head, but they taste great.
posted by Alex Sivier
The water of the lake was smooth,blue,glassy and warm as it reflected the green mountains surrounding it.Billy hung from his Grandfather’s vice like grip over the edge of the boat,the familiar but stern voice echoing in his head “Sink or Swim little buddy.”
posted by Saberblue
Donna was quite pleased with how dinner turned out. Her guests had eaten the evidence.
posted by Les W
Gloved hands tightened around his windpipe and red darkness flooded his vision. Then came the whisper, warm against his ear, “there was no need to give my stories only one star.”
posted by Graham Land

Tim Kane