Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Day 96: It’s Halloween at last!

Finally we are here, the spookiest, scariest, horrifying and most terrorizing date on the calendar: All Hallows Eve.

Doing a little research on the origins of such a creepy holiday, I found out a lot of interesting information from its ancient pagan origins to the relatively modern introduction of the holiday into the United States by the Irish immigrants fleeing from the Potato Famine in the mid 1800’s.

But why do we find this particular date so fascinating? Personally, I do believe that even the most modern, skeptic, scientific and aseptic 21st century citizen will find difficult to detach himself from the influence of natural cycles, which become more evident on this particular moment of the year and affect our physical performance as days are getting shorter, days are getting windier and the moon looks bigger and brighter than ever.

On the other hand, even though we could be expected to have developed a more rational approach towards reality, the blatant truth is that human race is collectively moving back into a new dark age, reviving the boom for ghosts, divination, Mayan predictions, horoscopes and all the imaginary terrors that go bump in the night. How then, can we forget that Halloween is one of the four marked dates on the Witch Calendar, where the bonds between the spiritual underworld and ours thin and any kind of supernatural being has the chance to roam freely through the night? How can we subtract ourselves from the romantic atmosphere created by candle light and incense perfume? Is it possible that anyone may forget that the last crops have been harvested and it is time to thank and placate the powerful, magical and dark forces of fertility before they go to the symbolic death of the winter?

It is also difficult to forget we take advantage of this time, as I have done throughout the previous posts, to remember the things that used to make us tremble when we were younger, and the process of mastering those fears. Even now we are afraid of different things as grown-ups (unemployment, illness, old age, death, etc.) we are more capable of dealing with them thanks to our previous training in overcoming the overwhelming fear to vampires, ghosts, boogey-men, were-wolves, nahuales, chaneques and supernatural beings we used to think all-mighty, mysterious, powerful and deadly.

Therefore, I salute tonight all the Dark Creatures who dwell on this night, the most magical of them all, who bring us the conscience of power and will.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Day 95: Getting Ready for Halloween: Scary Declarations

Yesterday, two of the most important national newspapers, El Universal and La Crónica, devoted huge columns to report Mexican Church’s position on Halloween, published on the weekly paper “Desde la Fe” (From Faith), stating that this celebration undermines catholic values and promotes demonic sectarianism.


Honestly, I find this position rather obtuse. As I mentioned last year, I stand for the preservation of Mexican traditional holidays, as well as for a bicultural education that permits our children a better comprehension of other cultures, but stating that Halloween is a pagan celebration with malevolent expressions promoted by satanic currents… well now, that is exaggerating.

If we go back into Mexican History, the traditional Day of the Dead was also inspired by a pagan ritual to the gods of Mictlan, the Aztec underworld of the dead. Right after the Conquest, Spanish Church had to incorporate a lot of the ancient rites into their beliefs in order to promote Catholic Religion among the natives, so this particular attack on “pagan rituals” seems totally out of place. On the other hand, adoring a bunch of images on the shrines does look as paganism to me, according to the Old Testament.

But the most interesting point to me here is that nowadays, Halloween doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the old Sam’hain celebrations anymore. As far as the regular Mexican citizen is concerned, Halloween is just an opportunity to buy a bunch of Chinese products to decorate their houses, wear funny costumes, throw raucous parties and allow their children to bother all the condo neighbors with their “may I have my little skull?” (our version of trick-or-treat). More threatening to the Catholic faith would be the “Saint Death” cult, I’d say, but since that is a narco expression of faith, the Mexican Church has conveniently kept silent about this spurious “saint”.

In conclusion, I find this situation rather scary. As I have mentioned before, in the dawn of the 21st century we have learned nothing about the dangers of blind faith and fanaticism. It is obvious to me that Mexican Catholic Church wants to keep its followers in the dark, making them fear any shadow that may “threat” the alleged “purity” of their faith, fooling them with this nonsensical attacks to a celebration that, besides the fun for the children, is nothing but mere mercantilism.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Day 94: Getting ready for Halloween: Scary Videos

I have mentioned before that I am basically a visual learner, that is, everything that makes an impact on my mind has to get in through my eyes. Therefore, some of my best nightmares have been plagued by imaginary delivered by particularly frightening monsters conceived by visual artists who know what terrors make people tickle.

Some of them are presented here for all of us who are addicted to that rush of adrenaline triggered by fear.

1. Thriller, Michael Jackson.

This one I saw when I was around 9 or 10 years old, all by myself at my granny's house, while my mom was taking a trip. I don't quite remember why there were no adults around, or why my brother wasn't there to share my terrors, but what I do remember is that I curled up against the Old English Shepherd my aunt Marissa used to own at that time, trying to keep the zombies away.*


2. Attack of the Killer Toys, Akira.

First time I saw this particular clip, I hid all my stuffed animals for a month.

3. The Headless Horseman, The legend of Sleepy Hollow.
This wonderful piece, narrated in Spanish by German Valdez, haunted our imagination for many years. One of my favorites nowadays.

4. The Cat with Hands.

I'm not pretty sure where this came out from, but my husband made me see it out of sheer curiosity. Well, unlike the cat in this story, my curiosity was almost killed. I couldn't sleep for a week!

I hope you are still able to sleep on these creepy nights before Halloween, after watching these videos.


*Sorry I was unable to embed the actual video, but that feature has been disabled by you tube. Anyway, hope you can find it in the link provided.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Day 92: Getting ready for Halloween: Scary Books.

Literature in general has had an extraordinary impact in my life, providing me with different parameters under which analyze the world and its events, as well as contact with a variety of schools of thoughts and philosophies that have helped me create a belief system of my own.

I have read books that have made me laugh, and cry, but indeed very few books or stories have made me tremble with fear.

I am glad to present you with my horror stars that have instilled terror into my literary world:

1. Children of the Corn. Stephen King, 1977.
This short story by the master of terror is the first “monster story without a monster” I ever read. You know there is a monster, but you never get in touch with it properly. The idea of a way of life ruled by fear and fanaticism, and exerted by children, more than the monster itself, gave me the creeps
2. The Exorcist. William Peter Blatty, 1971.
I was lent this book by my best friend (an avid reader himself) when I was 16, after I told him about my fear of the movie. And probably because of that, I started feeling extremely disturbed while reading it, to the point of almost having a stroke when I once was reading late at night and my lap dog unexpectedly jumped onto my bed.

3. 1984. George Orwell, 1949.
I am fully aware that this is no horror book, but a dystopian novel. However, the notion of being deprived of the most essential elements of private life and the ultimate rape of human individualism, more that poverty and war themselves, really shook me up at that time. Even now, the idea of being regarded as nothing more than a sheep in a herd makes me sick

I hope one day you may enjoy being scared by literature as much as I have!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Day 91: Getting ready for Halloween: Scary Movies

And I’m not talking about this farcical title, but the movies that have really made me jump out of my skin.

I do acknowledge the fact that most people will consider my selection childish, even naïve, mostly because the vast majority of grown-ups have been able to conquer their imaginations thus perfectly separating fantasy and make-believe from pedestrian reality. I do know the difference as well, but I cannot help letting myself go whenever I am watching any appealing story. Therefore, the impression made on my psyche by horror movies is by far more intense than others may perceive

The most frightening movies I’ve ever watched are:

1. The ring – 2002, Gore Verbinski (is that name for real?).
Although it was a remake from the Japanese “Ringu”, the visual effects and the unusual treatment of the ghost threat gave me the creeps for weeks. Even my husband, hardened as he is, couldn’t sleep well for three days. Imagine how I was affected. In fact, it was so scary that, to this day, I cannot gather enough courage to watch it again.

2. The Blair Witch Project – 1999, Daniel Myrick.
Honestly, I don’t care if most people regard this movie as a piece of crap. First time I saw it, I had a week’s worth of terrifying nightmares revolving around finding Josh.

3. Más Negro que la Noche (Blackest than Night) – 1975, Carlos Enrique Taboada.
In this movie, 4 friends move into the inherited house of a maiden aunt, with the condition of taking care of her cat. Unfortunately, one of them kills the cat, with the connivance of the other two, and the Aunt returns from the other world to take revenge on all of them, except her own niece, who manages to escape the haunted house by jumping over the fence. The scariest element was that the ghost was not bound to a single place, but managed to hunt the 3 friends one by one even at their working places.

4. The Hand that Rocks the Craddle – 1992, Curtis Hanson
In my opinion, a master-piece thriller. The possibility of unknowingly having the enemy inside your own home and how little nuisances can end up ruining family relationships.

5. Las Momias de Guanajuato – 1972, Federico Curiel.
I have mentioned this one a thousand times before. Enough said.

6. El Ataúd del Vampiro – 1958, Fernando Mendez.
Same as above.

6. The Exorcist – 1973, William Friedkin.
This is a very curious case, since I never got to see it when I was a child, but several of my former elementary school classmates did, and they said it was so frightening and evil I spent years fearing it, until my ex-boyfriend (now my husband) literally dragged me to see it on the anniversary theater release. And indeed I got disturbed enough to almost pee in my pants, until the last climatic scenes where Linda Blair’s head rotates and then the priest suicides (sorry for the spoiler). It was the ultimate incongruence of this sequence of events which broke the absence of incredulity, thus making me impervious to further influence, finally curing me of an unfounded fear, although I bet that, had I seen it at a younger age, I wouldn’t have been able to stand it.

If you ever get to see them, I do hope you enjoy getting scared as much as I did. Enjoy!

PS: Sorry there were no pics, but I haven't learned yet how to crop and paste them from other websites.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Day 90: Getting ready for Halloween: Are you afraid of the Dark?

As I stated last year, Halloween and Dead's Day is my favorite season of the year, now surpassing the thrill of Christmas, given the fact most store chains are already shoveling down our throats every imaginable item for that season.

Being the first of an intended series, I would like to start celebrating Halloween remembering those things, imaginary or real, that used to give me goose bumps and make me tremble under my blankets when I was a kid.

1. Vampires: when I was an over-imaginative 9-year-old kid, I got to see the wonderful "The Vampire's Coffin", with 'Count Duval', the main character, performed by German Robles. It was such an impressing movie that I spent the next 7 years of my life rolling up like a taco the blanket hem to stuff it around my neck at night, just in case the vampire decided to visit my room.

2. Cats:
for many years, my family transmited this atavic fear towards these "awful, treacherous beasts", especially due to the strange noises they produce during mating season.

Fortunately for me, this only lasted for a couple of years, until an extremely friendly cat one of my aunts used to own did his best to demonstrate they are not monsters. Nowadays. I have my own cat!

3. Guanajuato Mummies
: still being a classic of B series terror movies, "El Santo vs. Las Momias de Guanajuato" became one of the benchmark in my childhood terrors. Watching this gigantic and over-muscled mummy with a horribly rotten face breaking at night into a house to strangle its victims in his powerful grip left me sleepless for countless nights.

4. Snails, worms, catterpillars, maggots:
believe it or not, some of the most peaceful creatures on Earth still are the main stars in my worst nightmares. My elder cousins on my mom's side used to throw the snail shells at my brother and I stating that the slime was corrosive. If you take into account I was around four or five years old, you may understand why this turned into a life-long trauma. To the date, it is enough but to glance at them to make me climb up the walls in phobic panic.

5. The closet in my bedroom:
not the boogie-man ("el coco", as we call it here), but this dark, deep, full of shadows and lumps, creepy passage to terror. My brother and I never knew what horrible things nested behind its closed door at night, so we left the door open, ready to see any monster who might decide to slip out of it. Funny how we found a closed door more terrorizing that anything it could hide.

6. Ghosts, Spirits and Naguales (naeh-WAEH-les):
contrary to other children, I have never been afraid of "La Llorona" (The Mourning Woman), the most famous Mexican spirit, but of all the others. Both sides of my family have collected through the years some of the most fearsome and daunting horror stories any child would love to hear, especially when you get to hear that your grandfather's house had been haunted for several years by a walking shadow passing by the front windows, or the black dog which misteriously climbed the fence to haunt my great-grandfather...

Do you remember what you used to fear...?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Day 89: I survived my wedding


Here we are, safe and sound after the chaotic 3-ring-circus my wedding ceremony became. Again, I want to publicly thank miao for her nice support under this affronting circumstances.

Just in case you want to know how this soap-opera drama ended, I will say that the ceremony was routinely formal, except for the fact that my mother arrived shamefully late and barely screeched her tires in time to sign the official document.

Later, she asked my recently-accquired hubby and I to go shopping for her since she had no time to purchase "guacamole" (wa-ka-moh-leh), thus causing our team to arrive, to our dishonor, an hour after all the gests had gathered at the reception.

The wedding cake, as I predicted, was a total bitter dissapointment, given the fact my mother accepted it with such and awful, conventional and wrong decoration, blatantly contravening my precise instructions on it, thus letting the decorator to get his way with it. Fortunatelly, at least the filling was as delicious as I expected, as it was I who decided which one was the more likely to be found tasty by my guests.

The funniest thing (yes, still there was something funny) was that the person my mother made me invite under the premise he was going to provide us with the best present ended up giving
us nothing but his gracious presence. TAKE THAT ONE, MOM!

So here we are, with nothing in our relation changed at all, except for the fact that today, while filling up the required format to apply for an American Visa (which I was granted, by the way), they forced me to include the "De Valdes" on the list of any name I might be called by, an ancient custom I have loathed all my life, since I never agreed on belonging to anyone just by signing a paper. Therefore, I will forever defend my right to sign my maiden name, given the fact I have no license plaque hanging from my neck.

I hope you have enjoyed the tale of this wedding adventures more than I did. Ja, ja.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Day 88: Heterodoxy as a form of individualism

I used to believe that once I reached adulthood I would stop fighting to preserve my individualism (certainly aging had to have at least that advantage, right?), but life and my family have proven me wrong again.

It has been a really frustrating experience to discover that my own family, especially my mom, do not happen to accept that doing things in an heterodox way is not a form of rebellion, but a form to stand for one's believes. It is not that we critizice their way of doing things to prove them anacronistic or invalid, but a desire to stand out from the herd used to doing all things the same old ways, always following the same treaded paths. Developing a unique way of doing things is part of human development towards an effective way of life, thus rendering heterodoxy as a healthy experiment on new ways and trends.

However, I have been told that a mother's greatest dream is to see her daughter getting married as an excuse for not letting me get away with my own "heretic" and "socially incorrect" wedding plans. From the guests to the wedding cake decoration, I have been emotionally blackmailed into accepting a painfully long list of social conventionalisms that outrageously disrupt the solid edifice of my personal convictions, thus tearing apart any chances I might have had of enjoying the event.

Following the sentimental thread, if a mother's deep feelings and expectations over such a grand occasion are to be taken into account, I cannot help but wonder why that mother is not willing to comply with her beloved daughter's own agenda for what is suppossed to be the "greatest day in a woman's life" (sic), especially when that mother has publicly stated that she only has that daughter's best interest at heart. How can anybody say something like that and then completely ignore what the other person trully wants?

To be honest, I have been virtually kicking my own ass for giving in at all these stupid requests. I have been constantly blaming myself for being so week to sucumb at the face of awfully stressing endless arguments. I truly despise myself for not defending "to the last man" my position regarding stupid XIX century customs. Somehow I feel I have again lost a battle to retain the last shreds of whatever personality I might have developed throughout my troubled teen years and tempestuous young-adult life. It has been eating me in the inside that the people who are suppossed to support me have turned into my worst enemies when it comes to "keeping the appereances" in front of a bunch or relatives who don't give a shit whether I live or die.

The only good thing is that all this bizarre circus is gonna be over next Thursday, and my partner and I have sworn to seclude ourselves in a monastery for the whole next weekend, thus being able to rejoice privately about renewing the vows we made when we hit it off TWO YEARS AGO!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Day 87: Fifteen Questions

I do love quizzes because they give me an insight of people. It's like taking a picture of them when they are not aware.

Inés, on Outstanding Thoughts, answered the following, thus prompting me to do the same, and I'd also like to invite you to "get your picture taken".

1. Pick the closest book, go to page 18, and transliterate the fourth line.
"Very well" - she said. "You have passed the first test". (Dune, Frank Herbert)

2. What was the last thing you saw on TV?
"Primero Noticias", the morning news, with Carlos Loret de Mola

3. Beside the noise of the PC, what do you hear?
My electric fan and all the noisy people in the office

4. When did you go out last time , and where did you go?
To the movies, with my husband, to see "Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man's Chest" (shopping doesn't count, I guess)

5.What are you wearing now?
Blue trousers, white shirt, black socks, black shoes and a navy blue knitted sweater (I know, I dress like a granny).

6. When did you laugh last time?
Last night, about something funny my hubby said.

7. What is on the wall in the room you are located now?
The company's logo.

8.Did you see something weird today?
A big machine digging a hole in the ground with a huge drill, about 10 m. high.

9. What was the last movie you saw?
"The Fountain", starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weiss. Not the best movie, but one of the finest of Jackman's performances.

10. If you become a billionaire tonight, what would be the first thing you buy?
A big house with swimming pool at Las Lomas neighborhood

11. Tell us something of you that we don't know.
I go berserk if I ever happen to lose at something.

12. Do you like to dance?
I love to, but have very few chances to.

13. What names would you pick for a boy and a girl?
Martin and Andrea.

14. Did you planned to live abroad?
That's one of the dreams of my life.

15. What would you like to hear from God when you reach paradise?
"And you thought you weren't going to make it!"

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Day 86: Prizes awarded

Keeping my promise of catching up before October 11th, I have placed comments on your blogs.

Anyway, if you want to see the award, here it is.

Dedicated to all people who make learning something fun.