Welcome to our spooky second issue of end talk.
This issue brings you another update on climate breakdown; an original re-telling of the 1812 Grimm’s fairy tale, Snow White; excerpts from Marilynne Roach’s collected chronicles of the Salem Witch trials; and some other spooky recommendations. Accompanied by W. W. Denslow’s colorful art. On this Halloween, October 31st, 2020, the moon will be full. It will be the second full moon this month, also known as a blue moon. Are you scared yet?
Daily CO2 (recorded 10/26/2020 in Mauna Loa, Hawaii): 411.25 ppm
For the first time since records began, the main nursery of Arctic sea ice in Siberia has yet to start freezing in late October.
The delayed annual freeze in the Laptev Sea has been caused by freakishly protracted warmth in northern Russia and the intrusion of Atlantic waters, say climate scientists who warn of possible knock-on effects across the polar region.
Ocean temperatures in the area recently climbed to more than 5C above average, following a record breaking heatwave and the unusually early decline of last winter’s sea ice.
March 12, 1692
Mary Corey’s specter was the first to afflict Mary Warren, the twenty-year-old servant to John and Elizabeth Proctor. (With a shortage of young men, it was no longer unusual for women of her age and generation to be unmarried. However, if she did not find a husband she faced years of domestic service and no home of her own.) Sitting in a daze, Mary reached toward what at first appeared to be the form of Goody Corey. But when she pulled the insubstantial form to her lap, it looked to her like her master whom she had not noticed before.
“It is nobody,” said the real Proctor from across the room, “but it is my shadow that you see.” Yet, she could not see him there, only the specter sitting on her lap. “I see there is no heed to any of your talkings,” he said, “for you are all possessed with the Devil, for it is nothing but my shape.” (The real Goody Corey apparently confronted Mary Warren at Proctor’s house around this time, but Mary’s later account of it would be mostly hazy hindsight.)
Proctor applied his own cure: he kept her busy at the spinning wheel and threatened to beat her if she had any more fits. And it seemed to work, for she remained well until he had to be away for a day and Mary, without his authoritative presence, relapsed into fits and torments.
March 13, 1692
Prowling specters again interrupted Salem Village’s Sabbath. Middle-aged Bethshua Pope went terrifyingly, though temporarily, blind. Although this happened in the Village meeting house, Mrs. Pope was a member by birth and by marriage of two prosperous Quaker families. Neighbors of the Coreys, she and her husband Joseph and their surviving children shared the Pope farm with his widowed mother Gertrude.
At home, young Ann Putnam identified another of her spectral tormentors. Staring into the Invisible World, Ann discerned the apparition of a pale woman seated in her grandmother’s chair. She did not know the specter’s name, but described its intangible form to the others in the room. She thought she remembered where the woman sat in the meeting house. This information, however uncertain and vague, inspired her mother, Ann Sr., and the maid Mercy Lewis to suggest names in the hope of jogging the girl’s memory. She at last agreed to one of them: Rebecca Nurse, a member of the Salem town church who usually attended the nearer Village Meetings.
—The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege (Marilynne K. Roach)
Snow White, an Adaptation
Asleep in her sweet bed was a sweet girl with white porcelain skin, full red lips, and
silky black hair like a night without stars. She lay in her perfectly square bed with its perfectly wrinkle-less sheets and waited for her eyes to open.
Meanwhile, a queen put on her face and zipped up her zippers. Her restless green heart squirmed with envy. She had clean, fine features. She slinked over to her dressing table and frantically asked it to paint her one more illusion.
“Looking-glass, looking-glass on the wall, who in this land is the fairest of all?” she pleaded.
“Thou are fairer than all who are here, lady queen, but more beautiful still is Snow White, as I glean” was its response. Blind with fury, the queen raised a trembling fist, but she could not bring herself to shatter the truths she fed upon. Instead, she summoned the huntsman, and ordered him to destroy the one thing more beautiful than her: Snow White.
The huntsman made his way through the woods. He had killed many times before, but he had never seen Snow White. When she finally crossed his path, he looked at her snowy white skin, her bright red cheeks, and her smooth black hair. He suddenly longed to hold her small, soft hands, to kiss her cool, little forehead, to take her shining eyes….
He bid Snow White run away, and so she did. She ran like a little light through the forest, illuminating its dark places while keeping its wild beasts at bay. Finally, she reached a small cottage. At the cottage Snow White made herself at home in the most polite way that she could, eating from every plate of food and lying in every bed. She felt compelled to clean up every mess. Afterwards, she said a quick prayer and fell asleep.
At 5:30 pm the dwarves clocked out and made their way back home. They allowed their eyes to become adjusted to the light as they crept out of the mines, looking like animals, all covered in soot and dirt. The minute they got home they realized that something was different.
“Who has been eating my food?”
“Who has been sleeping in my bed?”
“Who has been splitting my darks and lights?”
“Who has moved the box of things I’m planning to fix?”
“Who has been smoking my pipe?”
“Who has lined up all of my shoes in the closet?”
Finally, all fourteen of their eyes fell upon the angelic figure lying in the smallest bed. A mutual excited gasp rippled through the crowd of dwarves, followed by an awkward period of shuffling feet, as each dwarf tried to get a better view. They stood in silence for a moment and let their eyes adjust once again to this new light. Admiring her paper-skin and rosy complexion, one by one they silently fell in love.
“This is a good omen,” one dwarf said.
“Undoubtedly,” agreed another. They dared not speak above a whisper, for fear of waking the perfection that was Snow White. Instead, they let her sleep.
In the morning Snow White felt rejuvenated, like a clock that had been wound. She was startled to see seven strange dwarves huddled around her when she woke, but she nevertheless agreed to stay in their cottage and be their housemaid.
From then on, each day Snow White cooked and cleaned for the dwarves and placidly awaited their return in the evening. She polished the dishes so they shone like her skin and she produced recipe after recipe of home-cooked meals. The skills came to her instinctively; she felt as if she’d been doing it her entire life, or maybe even before that. She couldn’t imagine anything more perfect, anything more right.
One day, while Snow White was fulfilling her duties, she heard a knock at the door. An old peddler woman had come to sell lace bodices. Even though the dwarves had told Snow White not to answer the door or accept anything from a stranger, Snow White fell into the peddler’s trap like a marionette, unable to resist the temptation of obedience. After inviting the woman inside the cottage, Snow White calmly allowed herself to be laced up in a bodice. The moment the peddler woman fastened the last clasp, Snow White collapsed like a deflated balloon. The queen, who had assumed the peddler’s disguise in desperation, in order to trick Snow White, was sure she had suffocated her to death and peddled away gleefully.
That day the dwarves came home and found Snow White lying like a rag doll on the floor, lifeless yet with color still painted on her cheeks and sparkles still shining in her eyes. In their dirt and soot, the seven miniature knights cut open Snow White’s stays; cranking her up like a wind-up toy, they returned her to her former state.
A few short and empty days later, the queen disguised herself once more to trick Snow White. This time even more bent on destroying the jealousy that kept her heart pounding throughout the night, the queen had with her a poisoned comb. Again in peddler’s rags, she brought it to Snow White. As soon as she beheld it, Snow White could not resist her desire to feel the shiny comb brushing through her shiny locks, and so she again invited the woman into the cottage. Snow White calmly allowed her hair to be combed, and the moment the queen completed the first stroke, Snow White collapsed.
Once more the dwarves came home to find Snow White lying lifeless on the floor, but once they had found and removed the poisoned comb, Snow White was as good as new.
Shortly thereafter the queen returned a third time. She was determined to finally extinguish the child’s snowy white light, even if it cost her her life. Jealousy had made her as ugly as her twisted soul, and this time she needed no disguise. Sleepless nights and restless pacing had drawn deep circles under her eyes and threaded white streaks through her hair, and her fingernails were short and bloody. Purplish veins crossed her skin like spider’s webs, swollen from the ceaseless pumping of her envious heart. And yet, she still believed her vanity would call her beautiful if only she could destroy Snow White.
When the queen presented her blood-red apple, Snow White was stunned. She gazed at it perplexedly for a moment, her head cocked to the side like a cat’s. Suddenly, she was seized with the urge to cut it open and reveal its snowy white center, to take a bite and let it slip down her throat. In a moment she had her mouth around it, and as soon as the apple’s juices touched her tongue, Snow White collapsed. The queen felt a calm satisfaction as she gazed at Snow White’s crumpled body on the floor, a crushed flower.
That night, the dwarves tried to revive Snow White for a third time, but this time they couldn’t find a way. They tried everything to bring her back to life, but she seemed truly dead. She looked as though she were lying in her perfectly square bed with its perfectly wrinkle-less sheets, except her eyes would not open, no matter what the dwarves did.
The dwarves knew the underground too well to let something as beautiful as Snow White be trapped down there, never getting to see the light of day again; in fact, they secretly doubted that the sun would ever rise again if it could not shine on her. So, instead of burying Snow White’s body, the dwarves placed it in a transparent coffin of glass to showcase her beauty. Every day they watched her straddle the boundary between the living and the dead, and for years she remained as inanimate as a book on a shelf.
One day, a prince was perusing the mountainside when he spotted the perfect and beautiful Snow White in her case by the edge of the cottage’s clearing. He inquired after the price and after some negotiating the dwarves gave up their prized possession. While he was carrying the coffin, one of the prince’s servants stumbled and a poisonous bit of apple flew out of Snow White’s throat. Suddenly un-jammed, Snow White’s eyes rolled open and she sat up like a jack-in-the-box. Lifting open the coffin’s lid, Snow White emerged in mint condition. She was startled to see a strange prince hovering over her, but she nevertheless kissed him and decided to marry him.
On the day of the wedding, the queen, tortured with jealousy, walked into a fire and her painted face exploded like clay in a kiln. That night, Snow White slept in her perfectly square bed with its perfectly wrinkle-less sheets, next to her perfectly square prince, and waited for her eyes to open.
“when we’re together, darling, every night is Halloween”
Here we’ve collected a sampling of music and film clips for this Halloween season…
First off, the main theme from 1968’s Rosemary Baby, composed by Krzysztof Komeda and sung by Mia Farrow herself. A strange, lovely synthesis of musical styles, it marries perfectly to Polanski’s first U.S. picture. Next, a clip from the stark opening of Mario Bava’s beautiful The Mask of Satan (1960), starring the striking Barbara Steele.
A few more of our favorites…
Next we have the soundtrack to Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977), with music by Italian prog rock band Goblin. This soundtrack is so fucking great; it’s kind of impossible/pointless to try to describe. But the celesta and bells that lead the main theme should be as iconic as any of the other great horror film scores.
And finally, the original teaser trailer for Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979). Easily one of the best teasers of all time, there’s never been anything quite like it. The full length trailer, which contains clips from the film, has the same wordless terror, and is almost just as good. Now over 40 years old, they haven’t aged a day.
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-L / G / W