Category: Pop Culture

Trendy werewolf stuff for trendy werewolf people.

Extra Mythology’s explainer video on how to become a radical Romanian monster

Start your day with some charmingly-delivered background on Romanian folklore! This Extra Mythology video on the pricolici and the strigoi explains how to become one of these proto-vampire-werewolf monsters: be a real asshole, then die! Okay, there are a few other steps involved, but the video explains them, and then you get to spend your nights eating sheep and terrorizing little kids. Sign me up!

Extra Mythology is an offshoot of the wonderful Extra Credits project. You can see more Extra Mythology material by supporting their Patreon. You’ll learn a lot, which is its own reward, but it’s probably worth it just to get access to more of Joseph Maslov‘s artwork. Look at these:

The Incomparable podcast considers Ginger Snaps

I have a fractious relationship with Jason Snell‘s long-running nerd culture podcast, The Incomparable. I like Jason and a lot of the people who guest on the show, and they often talk about familiar and beloved books, films, or other media in so-called geek culture… but all too often, they end up dunking on things near and dear to me. It’s been over three years and I haven’t quite forgiven them for going in so hard on Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel Aurora. So I was a little nervous when I saw they were covering 2000’s Ginger Snaps, considered by many (including myself) to be one of the best werewolf movies ever made.

It’s almost Halloween and we’re watching a horror movie! As recommended by Steve Lutz 475 episodes ago, it’s a Canadian tale of girls becoming women, and women becoming wolves: “Ginger Snaps.” We discuss parallels to “Buffy”, connections to “Orphan Black”, and ultimately whether this film can live up to its feminist aspirations or if it’s yet another case where a girl is punished for becoming a woman—er, werewolf.

How did this strange, funny, weird little Canadian werewolf film fare under the scrutiny of a panel of people who gladly spend 96 minutes analyzing every frame from Star Wars trailers? Hear for yourself, and may you come away as satisfied as I was at the conclusion – and equally as delighted to hear Jason’s squeamish reaction to Ginger’s tail.

San Diego’s one-night-only Horrorgasm art & entertainment event

Friend of the site Jenn Cooksey emailed me to tell me about Horrorgasm, an upcoming San Diego event that celebrates the beauty of horror. She writes:

A few San Diego artists and I have collaborated to create Horrorgasm, San Diego’s First Horror themed art and entertainment event. Since I’m such a huge werewolf fan, there will be plenty of werewolf art on display. I’ll also be creating a werewolf art piece exclusively for Horrorgasm.

What else is there to know? What else is going on? Plenty!

Horrorgasm is a one-night-only celebration of horror and all things creepy, spooky and macabre. The event will feature an Art gallery, an artisan marketplace, live performances, live readings of chilling tales, and our version of an escape room, the Horrorgasm Survival Chamber. Horrogasm’s curated artists and performers will explore this year’s themes of Monsters, Maniacs, The Paranormal, and the Surreal.

You can check out the scene yourself on Saturday, October 26th, at Queen Bee’s Arts and Cultural Center in San Diego’s North Park neighbourhood. Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for kids. If you’re interested in being a vendor or participating artist, it looks like applications are still open!

A Brief Visit to Chicago’s Werewolf Coffee Bar

After several days spent traipsing around Lake Michigan and Lake Huron on a top-secret mission (during which Tandye won first prize at a monster costume contest), it was time to begin our three-day drive back home to Vancouver, BC. Our route took us from northern Indiana through Illinois. On a day when we planned to drive for twelve hours, we’d generally try to avoid travelling through a metro area like Chicago, but on this Saturday morning, traffic was relatively light, and we had a little spare time, so we took a brief detour off I-94 to Werewolf Coffee Bar.

Like so much of the lycanthropic ephemera I experience, I learned about Werewolf from a passing reference on a podcast. Two of the hosts of Do By Friday, Max and Alex, record in Chicago, at the Lincoln Park headquarters of Cards Against Humanity. Sometime last year, Max made a passing reference to the nearby coffee shop, and a small portion of my brain became forever dedicated to knowing that there was a caffeine retailer called “Werewolf” a mere 2,200 miles from my home.

The front of the former Wonder Bread delivery truck that put the “bar” in Werewolf Coffee Bar.

Werewolf is a truck inside a building, parked by the entrance to a space with high ceilings, plenty of seating, and a design aesthetic that’s much more Glass Walker than Uktena. This quiet, airy space is ostensibly for customers of the coffee bar, although it also seems to serve as a hang-out space for other tenants of the building. We only visited long enough to get our drinks and snap some photos, but I could easily imagine hanging out there for hours.

In addition to coffee and tea, they offer a narrow range of snack food, but I skipped over that to zero in on their merch zone, where they sell t-shirts and patches emblazoned with their logo. Those items – and the signage out front – are the only things that reference werewolves, which is fine, because most of their customers probably aren’t utter fanatics like me. I bought a t-shirt and a patch. Like a fanatic.

This patch has a date with a denim vest.

Coffee is an essential component of any road trip, and in that context, I am not particularly picky about quality – although I will gladly suffer a withdrawal headache rather than drink Tim Horton’s hot brown water. Werewolf’s coffee menu, however, is calibrated to satisfy people who know about things like Chemex ratios and “bloom”, and their barista provided Tandye and me with the best mocha and Americano of the entire trip.

If one were so inclined, one could probably spend years driving around America, visiting coffee bars and restaurants and nail salons with werewolf-related names. I think the overall experience of such a pilgrimage would be fairly middling – the inclusion of a werewolf theme in an enterprise is no indicator of quality, as werewolf movies have taught us – but perhaps the standout locations would make the effort memorable. Werewolf Coffee Bar certainly rose to the occasion. If you live in the Chicagoland area or are even just passing through, it’s worth stopping by! Just remember to be patient with the parking, and bring an extra fifteen bucks for a t-shirt.

Werewolf Coffee Bar is located at 1765 N. Elston Ave in Chicago, and is open Mon-Fri 6am-4pm, and Saturday 8am-3pm.

Is There a Werewolf in Netflix’s “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”? [Spoilers]

In late 2018 Netflix released the first ten episodes of a new live-action show called Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, based on the young witch character who inhabits the Archie comics universe. The show was originally conceived as a companion piece to The CW’s Riverdale, a previously-established series based on the core roster of Archie characters. Sabrina was bounced to Netflix before production began, and a 20-episode first season was shot in and around Vancouver, BC, with the same crew as Riverdale.

Despite the shared crew and adjoining production schedules, the move dissolved any initial plans there might have been to set up crossovers between the two series, which was just as well. Riverdale is a teen drama that, despite its surprisingly noir style, is grounded in the real world. Sabrina is named after a teenage witch who contends with demons, casts spells that can cure alcoholism and turn people into basketball pros, and she lives with her Satan-worshipping aunts. No longer obligated to maintain bridges with the more square world of Riverdale, the first season of Sabrina – split into two 10-episode chunks because why not – was free to populate its episodes with supernatural creatures that would send Archie into the fetal position.

The first 10 episodes included a variety of creatures, including grotesque demons, avian psychopomps, zombies, ghosts, and an impressive goat-beast rendition of Satan. The trailer for part two arrived in Spring 2019 and featured glimpses of more horrific creatures, including a tantalizingly lupine muzzle that had me wondering which character from the previous episodes might possibly have some lycanthropy in their future.

So when my wife and I sat down to watch Chilling Adventures of Sabrina part two, shortly after its April 5th debut, I had only two questions on my mind: will I ever get used to the weird way all the characters pronounce the phrase “The Dark Lord”? And, more importantly, have they managed to work a werewolf into the smirking, baroque mythology of this show?

Spoilers Follow

Wolfenoot is nearly upon us

This Friday kicks off a holiday weekend, and I’m not talking about American Thanksgiving, although you can certainly celebrate that too – your roasted bird will work for both events. I’m talking about Wolfenoot, the wolf-centric holiday invented just a few months ago by a 7-year-old in New Zealand.

“My son has invented a holiday called Wolfenoot,” goes the original post, which appeared on Facebook, making this the only good idea to ever come from that place. “It is when the Spirit of the Wolf brings and hides small gifts around the house for everyone. People who have, have had, or are kind to dogs get better gifts than anyone else.”

And how does one actually observe this holiday? According to the gospel:

You eat roast meat (because wolves eat meat) and cake decorated like a full moon.

A holiday to the spirit of wolves that celebrates people who are kind to dogs? I can 100% get behind this. So we will be celebrating Wolfenoot. It’s on the 23rd November if anyone else is moved to celebrate it. 😉 If you do, please post pics, so he can see how his idea has spread.

If you’re posting publicly about it, use #wolfenoot.

I don’t care what kind of blood-soaked moon-crazed snarling horror hellbeast of a werewolf fan you are – if you can’t see the sweet appeal of this idea, you’ll get no full moon cake or sympathy from me.

I was initially cautious about spreading the Wolfenoot word, because this is the Internet, where even the sweetest concept can hide something bad, but this idea really did come out of nowhere in September of this year, and the anonymous mom and son duo behind it are keeping things legitimately wholesome.

According to the FAQ, vegetarian and other adaptations are welcome, donations to “shelters/wolf sanctuaries/dog based charities” are encouraged over other kinds of gift-giving, and if you do want to give a little support to the family, you can buy merch with the slogan “No hate, only snootboops” on it. You can find out more on the Wolfenoot web site, Twitter account or Facebook event (which has over 10,000 people involved as of this post).

Wolves aren’t werewolves, I’m not in New Zealand, and I don’t know where I’m going to find a ketogenically suitable full moon cake on such short notice, but it doesn’t matter. This Friday, I’m celebrating Wolfenoot.

SciShow’s “Werewolf Myths” video doesn’t disappoint

YouTube channel SciShow recently published a short video on the origin of werewolf myths. A number of people sent me the link – thank you! – and I only just had a chance to watch it.

It gets off to a bad start. Within the first 30 seconds, host Michael Aranda makes a Twilight reference, which would have been tedious a decade ago, and then asserts that werewolves aren’t real, which, okay, granted, but that doesn’t set a fun tone. Your writer and producer better have some good stuff planned to make the next four and a half minutes worth my time, you buzzkill.

They actually do! This is a show about science, not debunking myths or recounting history, so in short order they get into specifics about neurons and chromosomes in order to discuss three werewolf-adjacent maladies – rabies, congenital hypertrichosis, and delusional misidentification syndromes, of which clinical lycanthropy is an example. The science is quite up-to-date, providing some details I didn’t know about. If you’re interested in the how of things, definitely check this video out.

“Hunting the Hound of Cold Hollow” short film explores the werewolves of northern Vermont

“It’s a werewolf. It’s not like it’s some crazy monster… it’s just a werewolf.” For me, this is the take-away quote from freelance journalist J.D. Thompson’s short film Hunting the Hound of Cold Hollow.

Thompson put the 25-minute film together to capture his experience “working for Playboy on a story investigating a weird little part of America where the locals still believe in werewolves.” The premise he explores in the short film (and the article itself) is that werewolves are responsible for dozens of disappearances and deaths along the Vermont / Quebec border.

This is not a detective story and I think that’s just as well – I imagine the real causes of the disappearances are a far more banal class of evil than French-Canadian lycanthropes. Rather, the film’s focus is the nervous enthusiasm the interviewed locals have for the idea that they might have secret werewolves among their neighbours. The pervasive vibe from the subjects interviewed, and the interviewer himself, is a low-key “we all want this to be true, right?”

The article, “Werewolves Are Definitely Not Real… Right?”, was published in Playboy in October 2015. You can find a reprint on the “Cold Hollow” web site, but I recommend watching the short film first. It’s expertly made, with lots of excellent interview and location footage intercut with stock drone shots of the region’s foggy, snowy forests.

Are the werewolves of Vermont real? Thompson draws no conclusions on the matter, but he seems to say (and I will explicitly state) that many of us would be delighted if they did exist, especially if they continued to spend their full moon time chasing cars for fun, and less time murdering hikers.

SDCC pop-up shop debuts limited-edition, low-appeal “The Wolf Man” shoes

If you’re at San Diego Comic Con this weekend and you have no taste and cash to waste, why not line up at the “Boodega Monstore” (701 Eighth Ave, San Diego, CA 9210) for a chance to buy a Super7 / Saucony / Universal Monsters triple-co-branded “The Wolf Man” shoe?

Combining high cost ($95), artificial scarcity (only 12 pairs per size [7 through 13] exist), and zero werewolf design aesthetics other than colours referenced from a character who debuted in a black and white film, this shoe is presumably precision-crafted to appeal to sneakerheads (maybe) and Universal Monsters fans who don’t have to justify their expenditures to anyone.

Saucony makes good gear, or so I’m told, so they’ll probably be comfortable shoes to wear, but these things are utterly unremarkable in appearance, particularly in comparison to the other Universal Monster shoes (thank you, Daily Dead) at the Boodega pop-up shop. At least the other shoes have some graphical elements. These have all the visual appeal of an overripe avocado. The high price and the artificial scarcity are in keeping with the nature of SDCC collectibles, I guess, but I just can’t imagine anyone getting excited to line up for what seems like a deeply cynical cash-grab.

I’m mad about the shoes. What an overpriced waste of an opportunity to do something new, fun and interesting with the dorkiest werewolf intellectual property ever.

I finally found the Sawbones episode about lycanthropy (and other Halloween diseases)

I’ve been listening through the backlog of Sawbones, a informative and darkly funny medical history podcast hosted by Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin. Last year they talked about the full moon and its connection to clinical weirdness, including werewolves, but way back in 2015 the show got even more lycan-specific. In the episode “Aah, Real Monsters!” Sydnee and guest host Rileigh Smirl (Sydnee’s younger sister, subbing for Justin and crushing it) discuss “the Halloween diseases” – werewolfism and vampirism.

This isn’t just a recounting of the Wikipedia entries for hypertrichosis and ergot poisoning. In typical Sawbones fashion, Sydnee presents an insightful and cogent history of lycanthropy and porphyria – including a surprisingly compassionate recap of Peter Stumpp‘s story. Rileigh provides enthusiastic and delightfully pro-werewolf colour commentary, and influences the episode’s vibe in such a way that “having a real disease” comes off as a bad situation, but “being a Halloween monster” is extremely good. That’s as fine a Sawbones conclusion as any they’ve reached in all the episodes I’ve heard.

You can hear the episode here, or find it in the Sawbones archive, available via Apple Podcasts or whichever podcasting app you like.