Monday, July 2, 2007

Demon-Repelling Calligraphy 101

I've been having trouble for days over on my original blog site, and today, my invisible posts have reappeared. I can hardly believe it, like it's some kind of miracle, my long nightmare is over, etc. etc. Last night a DVD got stuck in the player, and for a minute there I was thinking of buying a bonnet and turning Amish. I could check those Beverly Lewis books out of the library, and start saying "What's up, English?" every time I bump into people. I wonder if I could get some special early retirement pension deal if I had to quit my job for religious reasons. But I'm sure there's an overly complicated HR policy dealing with that scenario.

But I like to think that stuck-disc problem was just Haunted DVD Syndrome. Maybe the ghosts inside the ghost story just weren't ready to leave their warm electronic nook just yet. Maybe they didn't want to go back to the library from whence the DVD came. I've checked out Kwaidan a couple of times and never got around to it, just because it's kinda long (160 minutes or so). But in a word: spooky! And very fun to see a beautifully filmed, poetic art film with the glaring, familiar logo of Toho Studio, the name that stands for Godzilla.

The movie's so long because it's made up of four separate stories. The first are moody, eerie domestic ghost stories, both featuring phantom or demonic women with dramatically long black hair of the kind known to all of us from the Ring movies made almost forty years later. Then the third opens up into a re-telling of an epic sea battle, with ships on the water against a rather theatrical backdrop, to start off the story of an already blind musician who's going to suffer some very bad luck. His talent draws the attention of spirits in the underworld, who lure him off to play for them, and the priests cover him in fabulous holy calligraphy to deflect them. (Sort of like the super-cool Omen shack, but in tattoo form).

This is the most gruesome of the segments, but since it was titled "Hoichi the Earless," it's not like I wasn't warned. While this wasn't graphic--we're not even at low-level Friday the 13th special effects here--it was still very disturbing to watch.

I wasn't totally sure about the meta-fictional tone of the final story, but its premise was probably the creepiest of all, when a samurai keeps seeing a stranger's reflection in his tea. With every cup, the face seems to get a little closer, and also a little more maniacal looking, until he finally lends new meaning to "I'll swallow your soul." And all hell breaks loose, as it will when you drink something you shouldn't.

As I was writing, everything went so smoothly on the computer that I was almost afraid to hit the "post" button and have everything go awry. But there weren't any faces in my coffee this morning. Maybe I can paint some protective text on my laptop, and the gremlins in the Interweb can go bother the people who are trying to sell my Ron Jeremy-approved products for male enhancements and fly-by-night college degrees. Since I don't need the former and I already have the latter!

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