Barb Update: The Missives of October

First, before anything: we’ve got a new book out!

Song to the Siren is a prose novel about:

–scares, drugs, and rock and roll

–true love, madness, and the supernatural

–childhood… and surviving long enough to get out of childhood…

​Here’s a link to the book trailer!

And here’s where to get it as an ebook almost anywhere:

As for me personally, I’ve had a massive fibromyalgia flare-up lately, which has meant watching movies and trying not to scream out loud too much. I saw The Devil and Daniel Webster, a black-and-white film that shows that America all knows all too well the concept of folk horror, even though we don’t talk about it much. Fortunately, the flare-up only lasted a few days, so I no longer feel like I’m trapped in an installment of the Hostel franchise.

The October Country is in the air, with the air growing colder, although the last vestiges of summer will fight the good fight until the end.

With Halloween coming, I’m looking for art/movies/music that know what the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi means, where everything’s perfectly imperfect, fragile but strong, delicate but fierce, completely incomplete, and nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

In other words, I am ready, willing, and able to embrace the uncanny feeling that comes with Halloween.

So far, my attempts to find movies that will get me in the Halloween mood have been a very mixed bag. I saw a very silly little movie called I’ve Been Waiting for You, which is just proto-Scream nonsense with a few good moments, as well as Hotline, a film with Lynda Carter doing her best to bring life to an interesting concept (a gal volunteering for a mental health hotline with a caller who is a crazy murderer) that is otherwise poorly executed.

The best thing I’ve seen so far has been a 1970s film called Deathdream, about a soldier coming home from the Vietnam War, but he is not the same. Yes, it’s a horror film, and a darn fine acted one for such low budget fare, but the real treat in this trick of a movie is seeing how every issue the family had was brought into the light by the return of the native, as if to say, “No soldier can come back from war unscathed and no family that’s experienced tragedy can pretend that said tragedy hasn’t torn them apart.”

I saw a picture the other day that said, “I understand what you’re looking for.” It’s by Stefan Koidl, an artist from Austria. The title of the picture is listed as “Chernobyl HorrorStory2.” Still, I liked how it evoked bravery in the face of unbelievable odds. Plus, it’s scary.

A friend of mine sent me a video of Eva Cassidy singing “Autumn Leaves,” one of my favorite melancholy songs. Sometimes, songs that are meant to be sad have not only a bittersweet quality, but a downright eerie sound. I call such songs “Dark Carnival” songs (thank you again, Ray Bradbury, for that phrase). I don’t know if it’s the use of minor chords in such songs or what, but sad and spooky are sometimes intertwined. Not every eerie song is a goth song, a grunge song, or on a horror soundtrack. Sometimes, a song can be eerie just because it’s sparse yet so filled with a certain something. Here’s the link:

Rockabilly, believe it or not, can also be spooky. We don’t think of that kind of music as being anything but fun and peppy, but some of my favorite rockabilly songs are spare, strange affairs that are haunting.


Warren Smith – “Red Cadillac And A Black Moustache”

Don’t know if it’s the “schlock” chords, but the song just gets to me.

Jody Reynolds – “Endless Sleep” (1958)

Guy saves his girlfriend from a suicide attempt after a big fight. Weird but compelling.

The Cramps – “Fever”

Cramps were born to give you Fever, although the song sounds like it was recorded in an empty grave on a cold, dark night. Produced by Alex Chilton (do not get me started about Alex Chilton; you’ll be here all day)…

Well, that’s October, so far.

Hope you’re keeping it spooky.

–Barb Lien-Cooper

Leave a Reply