Grady Hendrix: Horrorstör

Grady Hendrix’s Horrorstör is clever in all the right ways, but it’s also quite creepy. You can’t ask for much more from a high-concept horror novel.

It’s a little too creepy and clever, honestly.

I used to love our IKEA clothes drying rack. It folds flat and stores neatly in a nook in the laundry room, but it’s quick and easy to set it up and it holds several loads of laundry at once.

“Love” might be over-stating my relationship to any of our household accoutrements, but it’s safe to say I liked this thing a lot. Liked. Past tense.

Horrorstör ruined my laundry rack for me.

IKEA Mulig drying rack

Ever since I finished the book I’ve been utterly and completely creeped out by the laundry rack. I’m not kidding. I have such a visceral reaction to the thing that I avoid doing laundry until Husband can set the rack up for me.

This is ridiculous, not least of which because there isn’t a drying rack in the book.

Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the TV series, particularly since it’s being developed by Gail Berman, who was responsible for developing both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel for television.

Berman did, however, Executive Produce a couple episodes of Dig, which was truly abysmal in ways that even the narcotics and other assorted drugs I was on while recovering from a long and serious illness couldn’t improve. Seriously, even for television, that was some seriously ridiculous pop culture archaeology. Let’s just hope she learned her lesson from that debacle, because damn. Just…damn.

Yesterday, I posted about a new NatGeo TV show, Nazi War Diggers. The list of blog posts and open letters criticizing the show continues to grow.

Alison Atkin (Deathsplanation, doctoral researcher at The University of Sheffield Department of Archaeology) “Dear National Geographic Channel UK.” This post also contains a pdf of the letter the National Geographic Channel has sent out in response to the outcry.

Dr. Donna Yates (research fellow on the University of Glasgow’s Trafficking Culture project): “Nazi War Diggers: Looting war graves on TV.”

Paul Mullens (Archaeology and Material Culture, Chair of the Anthropology Department at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis): “The Peep Show of Death: Televising Human Remains.”

Even as the National Geographic Channel scrambles to argue that everything will be fine once we see the context of the clip, they fail to acknowledge a key issue. As Mullens writes:

Shows that tear bottles and bullets out of archaeological context violate archaeological ethics because they make no effort to systematically interpret the material record and they quite often recover things simply for commercial benefit. Reducing human bodies to the same status as bottles to be trafficked online has consequential methodological, ethical, and moral implications alike.

Tom Mashberg’s New York Times article, “TV Series is criticized in handling of deceased,” will hopefully reach an audience beyond the bio/archaeology community. The National Geographic Channel is quoted in the article:

“Part of it is our fault because we released a clip completely out of context that was not representative of the show,” he said. “But I hope people will withhold judgment until the show starts.”

This raised many an eyebrow on twitter. The clip, which shows a group of men cavalierly scraping dirt away from human remains and prying a broken femur out of the ground in a manner that no amount of context will make acceptable. The article concludes:

One of the two metal-detecting specialists on the show, Kris Rodgers, said on Twitter that he agreed the show had been promoted with “a very bad clip.” In response to the outcry, however, he added: “Trust me. It was done properly.”

No. It clearly wasn’t.

Additionally, Archaeosoup has a special episode about the show. Although NatGeo TV has taken down the clip, you can see it in this episode.


Oh! Bodies and Academia is also collecting up links about the show: “Grave Robbing” on TV?”

That title sounds like the lead-in to a post about craptacular SyFy movies. Or maybe a political post about the rhetoric around the NeoLiberal military-industrial complex. Sadly, it’s about neither of those things. Nazi War Diggers is an upcoming 4-part series on National Geographic International. TV Wise announced it will begin airing on May 13th.


Nazi War Diggers, National Geographic Channel
Photo posted on Nazi War Diggers show site

NatGeoTV, which is owned by FOX and promoted as a partnership with the National Geographic Society, already airs an ethically-challenged show called Diggers. Despite critiques by professional associations such as the Society for American Archaeology, the show continues to air and is now in its third season.

The clip posted yesterday on the Nazi War Diggers website showed these self-professed metal detector enthusiasts digging up human remains from an unmarked Latvian grave. The clip has since been removed but the page remains and the publicity photos were still online as of this afternoon.

I’ve been rounding up blog posts about the show.

Bioarchaeologist Kristina Killgrove (Powered by Osteons blog): “Who needs an osteologist, volume 11.”

John R. Roby (Digs and Docs): “We don’t need a TV show about looting Nazi battlefields.”

Archaeologist Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues blog): “National Geographic use metal detectors, find new low.”

Conflict Antiquities: “urgent ethical and legal questions for National Geographic, ClearStory and their Nazi War Diggers.”

Alison Atkin of Deathsplanation summed up my feelings with an animated gif: “Nazi War Diggers.”

Archaeologist and TV producer Annelise Baer (Archaeologist for Hire blog): “Let’s talk more about Nazi War Diggers.”

I’ll add posts as I run across them.

Added March 28, 2014: Nazi War Diggers, part II.

I haven’t had time to read any reviews for the new Friday night TV show, Dracula, so I kept forgetting to look forward to its debut. I haven’t noticed much publicity for the show and Husband doesn’t think he’d have been aware of it at all if I hadn’t Tivo’d it.

In this respect, and so many more, this show has lived down to our every expectation.

There aren’t any spoilers here, because nothing happened in the pilot episode.

Nothing.

This show makes Dr. Who seem like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

(Husband just pointed out to me that Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is actually known as the Wind in the Willows to people who were not raised by wolves and/or Disney. And also that I must be thinking of the ride, because the movie Wind in the Willows is rather slow moving).

Not the point.

There is no point – not to my story, not to this show.

As soon as you accept that, you will enjoy Dracula. It’ll be on for at least 5 more weeks while they burn off the investment, so go ahead, don’t be afraid to commit to at least a fling.

With its elaborate sets and drawn-out scenes of minimalistic yet overwrought dialogue, punctuated by lengthy, action-less sequences where the actors may actually just be reading a dictionary to one another, Dracula is like a 1960s House of Hammer summer-stock performance of Dark Shadows.

Sample scene:

“Insatiable. I-N-S-A-T-I-A-B-L-E.”

“Unquenchable. U-N-Q-U-E-N-C-H-A-B-L-E.”

Okay. They weren’t really spelling the words after they said them, but it would have livened things up just a scosche if they had.

The original Dark Shadows was a terrible high-camp show that ran from 1966-1971. Each revival since has been met with teeth-gnashing and displays of nostalgia and expressions of a woefully misguided belief that the show was even remotely “good.”

Who knows, perhaps Dracula will be able to leverage its flagrant disdain for quality into an equally long run!

The characters all look alike, which is a problem because we can’t figure out who anyone is or which side they’re on. Maybe there aren’t any sides.

I have no idea.

I’m pretty sure that Dracula, now calling himself Grayson, has been resurrected in 1896 and is pretending to be a rich American inventor.

And he’s out for revenge. Or he’s passionate about patent law. Or his pants are too tight.

I really have no idea.

Husband says Dracula/Grayson is definitely out for revenge. He hopes Dracula/Grayson will attend Revenge Academy, like Emily Thorne apparently did before taking revenge on characters named Grayson on the show Revenge.

Maybe there’ll be a cross-over story arc! Revenge has gotten incredibly tedious, so that would be pretty great.

Dracula and a major character who looks just like many of the other characters who may or may not be main characters are having a dramatic conversation. We can’t remember who this guy is or what his name is, so Husband is referring to him as “Beardy” because he has a beard. We missed most of the scene because we were debating whether he was the character who’d had his throat ripped out in an earlier scene or if he just looked like him.

In closing, this is a bland show. It’s like low-sodium saltines. But with the application of just a tiny bit of emoting and Acting, it could be like low-sodium saltines with Nutella on top.

Maybe. I don’t know. Much like the pilot of Dracula, this post has run out of steam and is just staring longingly into the camera, sighing at irregular intervals.

Hey, here’s a funny video Husband showed me. Pumpkin Spice: Official Movie Trailer.




I’ll have to add that to the round-up of links mocking the consumerist compulsion for everything to be pumpkin or pumpkin-adjacent from September to December.

Which reminds me that I still haven’t read Cindy Ott’s Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon.

“It’s a vegetable that represents this idyllic farm life, and the best sort of moral virtue. And Americans have become attached to that,” [Ott] says.

And though pumpkin beers and pumpkin breads have been produced since colonial times, Ott says that they weren’t always the specialty foods that they are today. “Pumpkin beer was used when there was no barley. [If] there was no wheat for bread, they used pumpkin [for] bread,” she says. “Pumpkin was considered food of desperate [times].”

The rehab of pumpkin’s popularity began when 19th century Americans began to move away from rural life and into the city, Ott says. “People became stressed about… moving into the office and off the farms, and [the pumpkin] starts to appear in poems and in paintings,” she says. “We’re celebrating the nostalgia for this old fashioned, rural way of life, that no one ever really wanted to stay on, but everyone’s always been romantic about.”

The rest of that NPR story from 2012 about pumpkin-nostalgia gone wild is here.

250px-The_tomorrow_people I’m amused by all of the reviews of the CW’s reboot of the 1970s ITV series The Tomorrow People that ho-hum the new show for copycatting all the other human-mutant shows of the last decade.

I’m super-excited by this reboot. In the early 80s Nickolodeon ran the original 1973-79 series endlessly. I loved this show in all sort-of-awful glory. Loved.

The new show does, from the previews I’ve seen, appear to rip off the slow-mo bullet-dodging FX of the Matrix and it’s kin.

To be fair, the original show was actually slow-mo, too. The show itself, not the effects. Mostly because there weren’t a whole lot of effects. But the plot, the pacing, and the dialogue? Super-slow-mo, baby.

And yet, I loved it. Have I mentioned that?

Here’s a Tomorrow People wiki that seems to have a fair amount of information.

Holy shit, did you know there were 16 seasons of the original show? Sixteen. 1973-2006, with some gaps, of course. I wonder if anything ever happened, plotwise?

There aren’t any spoilers because we’re about 3 seasons behind on our Breaking Bad viewing.

Nevertheless, I’m posting my show-concluding thoughts and feelings because it’s the law.

Here’s what I thought was the funniest thing about Breaking Bad: we couldn’t get any of our friends to watch it during the first season.

The people we know who are most obsessed with the show now were the ones who were most horrified by it back in 2008.

Wait, that’s not really funny, is it? It just means that we’re terrible failures as influencers.

Great. Now I’m depressed.

Thanks a lot, Vince Gilligan.

We didn’t quit watching because we lost interest, we just didn’t have time. I’m sure there’s a binge in our future.

Whenever I’m feeding the Tivo, I see listings for an ABC Family show called, “Dog With a Blog.”

I have no idea what this show is about. I’ve never even read the program description out of curiosity.

Not because I’m not curious, but because it’s a fantastic name.

Dog With a Blog.

Brilliant.

And that is why I don’t ever want to find out what the show is actually about. I’m certain to be crushed, because I know this actually isn’t a show about a dog who blogs and, let’s be honest, people who blog as their dogs are weirdos.

I’m at ScienceOnline Climate but have to take a quick moment to express my adoration for John Oliver. Again.

Please don’t leave us, John.

John Oliver on Elon Musk’s Hyperloop:

It is way too early in the morning for me to figure out why this is not embedding properly but you can click through to the Comedy Central site if you need to. Totally worth it.