Sunday, May 30, 2021

Smile and be Preposterous


Because of health reasons I was unable to update this blog as normal. As it turns out the human body goes through horrid changes as it ages and I have to be more cautious of my habits. I, being in my late thirties, have come to realize my newly discovered limitations and it sucks. The discovery of near 20 food related allergies, the possibility that I may have a condition called Barth Syndrome, and now hypertension had me scrambling for answers. Thankfully though, I have found a bit of equilibrium in all of this apparent disorder. 

I need a bit of luck to keep me going, and I feel that with Billiken's help I am able to absorb that luck from the cosmos. 

Since my last post, my collection of Billiken items has grown. I now have a chalkware Billiken from 1908, one of the earliest. Both his throne and Billiken himself have their medallion from The Billiken Company Craftman's Guild. I never thought I'd own one of these since they're so rare and fragile. I feel very lucky to have purchased one for such a low cost too. He may be a little broken, but I will love him all the same. 

I've come to call this particular Billiken "Grandfather". I'm not sure why. I suppose it has something to do with his frail but friendly demeanor. Like all the other Billiken items I've found myself with I have to wonder about the journey they've all been on before they've reached me. I'd like to think that this is the end of their journey so they can finally rest but who knows what's next for them. 


So here's my collection so far; my three statues; 1908 chalkware Billiken, a 1909 brass bank Billiken, and a mysterious Billiken who might be of Hawaiian origin, and maybe made in the 1960's.


I also have two dolls; one is a reproduction of the  1911 Teddy Bear Billiken and a modern plush from Japan.


I have three coins; a 1908 Billiken Pocket Piece, a Peak Frean's Billiken coin premium, and a Rexall Pharmacy Gudlukk coin (who looks to be very Billiken inspired).


And lastly I have three postcards; Billiken, Balligan, and Sillgen. I plan on getting more of these Billiken postcards as they pop up online.


So as my quest to find more Billiken stuff continues, my devotion to this mostly lost and forgotten god of luck just continues to evolve. On Twitter I re-share whatever I find being posted on Japan Twitter (mostly from folks in the Osaka area), but also I find myself looking through old newspapers, magazines, and photos trying to find any traces of him. 

Here is Ol' Billy hanging out in some otherworldly realm with his many off-brand god friends. Clearly planning something, but who knows what!


In other news, last weekend I visited Salem, Massachusetts for the very first time in my life. It was a great trip and was one of those things I always wanted to do but never had a chance to. It was for my life-partner's birthday and I think it went super well. We saw a lot of fun and historical place while being super lame tourists at the same time. It was the perfect balance really. 

We stayed at the famous Hawthorne Hotel, which is said to be haunted. We had no experiences there ourselves but plenty of "ghost hunters"/"paranormal investigators" have said they had experiences. I don't know about all that, but it was a real classy place let me tell you. It's a really beautiful place and if you have the chance to stay anywhere in Salem, this is the place. 


Somehow I didn't take any pictures of our hotel room, or of the exterior of the hotel, but I did take a picture of this mural on the wall. I think it's a map of the area but I have no idea really. What do you think it is? 


So, here are some of the places I visited;

Here I am with the statue dedicated to Elizabeth Montgomery of Bewitched fame. I actually didn't know about this statue until like 3 days before my trip so I was pretty excited to see it. I grew up on Bewitched reruns so seeing this monument to classic television left me starstruck. 


Here I am at the Salem Satanic Temple. It was a lovely place. They have a wonderful art exhibition going on right now. I did feel like their gift shop left a lot to be desired, especially for being the Salem branch of the Satanic Temple (you'd think they'd lean more into the kitschy nature of their location), but they are a pretty humble place so maybe it's just not part of their vibe. 

I love the Baphomet statue. It was made for people to sit on his lap so I took advantage of it. Is Baphomet a "him"? I don't want to use the wrong pronouns for this beautiful deity.


Right by the Satanic Temple is this little place called Coffee Time Bake Shop where I had a raspberry lime Rickey and some bismark donuts. All delicious and refreshing!! 


Here are some random places we saw. The house from Hocus Pocus, some gift shops whose names I don't remember (there's a bunch of them), the Witch Dungeon Museum which is like a haunted house based on real life history, and The Witch House which has a ghastly history as well. 


We learned during our tour of The Witch Dungeon Museum that it is pretty likely no practicing witches were killed at all during the witch hunts in Salem, and that all the lives lost were because people wanted certain plots of land so they just accused landowners of witchcraft to get what they wanted. 

It's not surprising in the least if I'm honest, it just makes the whole witchsploitation tourism aspect to be a little deflated. It's still a great place filled with wonderful pagan, satanic, wiccan, and alternative lifestyle people of course, but after learning that I did see Salem in a different light. 

The Coven's Cottage and Count Orlock's Nightmare Gallery did not allow photographs inside, but both were really wonderful places. The Coven's Cottage is a Norse spirituality shop filled with dried herbs, books and literature, talismans and other trinkets for those who follow Odinism. 

Count Orlock's Nightmare Gallery is a monsterkid church, filled with really wonderful and lifelike monsters from throughout cinema history. The displays are simple but if you're a horror movie fiend you'll be foaming at the mouth here. I loved this place and I really wish I could have taken photos inside. 


The Witch Board Museum has an amazing collection of Ouija boards, novelties, movies, etc. dating back to the early 1900's and maybe even earlier than that. A lot of cool stuff here, and some of the boards are just wild to look at. 


Weirdly, I didn't pick up any souvinirs for myself, just for friends and family. I did find these though; a vending machine monster toy I picked up off of the ground while walking around, and a figure of Deet (from the Netflix Dark Crystal show) who is now a part of my Discordian shrine. 

And honestly, that little blue monster guy was basically waiting for me. I love him with all my heart. 

Hopefully I will update again soon. Until then, Smile Damn You Smile.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The End Times started when the universe was created


Stuff sure does seem dire. The pandemic is still going on, there was an attack on the US capitol by insurgents, there's a freak snowstorm going on in Texas, and the new presidential administration sure feels like they're dragging their feet to get started on anything important (like stimulus checks for example). It's all so very dreary if I'm honest and even the fleeting instances of real positivity or hope feel both intangible and insincere. 

But we stay hoping for a better tomorrow where we'll be liberated from this constant state of nihilism and despair. Nothing is meant to last forever, even the worst of times give way to patches of goodness that we can rest upon. Stability is a liar that we should not rely on, and chaos remains the only reality we can find any peace within. So, I guess it's all good the way it is. The End Times keep chugging along and all we can do is hold on while the ride is in motion. 

There is serenity in Chaos.
Seek ye the Eye of the Hurricane. 

 


Our leaders will always fail us, this much has always been true. Oh sure they get lucky here and there, but ultimately we live in a constructed reality that they try to control. Do your best to shrug it off. As far as I know we live but one life in our currently form, so do your best with it. We all surf the Luck Plane to our own skill, and hopefully we don't wipe out too often (but you will wipe out from time-to-time).

No one knows what's really going on, least of all me. I just try my best to pay attention to the important parts and keep my friends as close as I can. So far I have lived a very blessed and fortunate life. The best remedy for the constant dreariness of life I feel is to have as much fun as possible and enjoy the little bits of joy as they come along.

Speaking of which, this year has started out pretty good for my collecting. I, at long last, have my very own Blurp Ball (minus the projectile), a Boglin figurine, and Agent 346 from the kids anime Cocotama (which has been an emotional support show for me these past few months), and a Burger King toy based on Barnyard Commandos. I also found this funny pig-flasher figure at a Salvation Army. No idea where it's from but it's kinda rad. 


But I don't just collect toys and figures. Not that I've ever really talked about it on this blog before but I also collect blessed and cursed objects. Toys are just easier to get if I'm honest. Thankfully, I have good friends who help me out whenever I need weird stuff in my life.



My recent acquisition of a blessed object comes from my wonderful friend Sara, one of the hosts of the great Two Witches Podcast. Two Witches is mainly about the study of synchronizations between the hosts and their relationship to the paranormal and to Mother Joseph. It's all really fascinating stuff and I really recommend it. 

So, Sara sent me a box filled with amazing stuff. Little brick charms (one with my name on it), stickers, a serial killer coloring book, but more importantly I was given an actual brick made by the Hidden Brick Company.


So I'm still learning about the significance of these Hidden bricks, but they mean a lot to Sara and her fellow podcast host Andrea

Hidden bricks carry a lot of history and a good deal of magic as well. I don't talk much about magic and the occult, even if I do consider myself a cultist of sorts, but mostly I don't speak about these things because there are so many misconceptions on what magic and the occult actually are. I don't want to be a part of the muddling of terms or give the impression that I am some sort of authority on the matter. 

There really is something about these bricks though, and their connection to Mother Joseph. I really look forward to learning more with the Two Witches as they continue to investigate and share what they uncover.


Another interesting item sent to me in the same box from Sara was a zip locked bag with the words "YOU HAVE BEEN CURSED" scribbled on it with a marker. The zip lock bag contained these items; a comic book entitled JOSHUA, by Janice.Click, some stickers, and a tiny tiny jar with a little dead bug in it. 


If you go to Janice.Click, you'll see it's the website of a filmmaker and artist who makes some seriously eerie stuff. I love it. The website describes this style as horror-cringe, which totally fits my aesthetic in horror. If you want to check out some of this creators films, check out their YouTube page there's a lot of fun and interesting stuff there, especially their trailer for the upcoming MCMURDERER.



And lastly, I will share with you guys something that arrived just yesterday. My membership card to one of the most mysterious and illusive secret societies in the known cosmos. The one that really pulls the strings behind all global events! THE MOVIE CLUB!


The Movie Club, a subsidiary of The Attic Dwellers, is a group of guys (Eric and Tig) who watch movies, discuss nostalgia and pop culture, and just share the love of movie watching. It's a fun time, and they do a lot to engage with their followers on both YouTube, Twitter, and other social media platforms. 

And if I'm totally honest, it feels pretty good carrying around a card like this again. It vaguely resembles an old Blockbuster card, and each card is individually numbered. I am member #0027!






I guess that's all for now. Until next time. 


Friday, January 1, 2021

2021 will be the year I learn how to properly weaponize my lethargy


I took my Billiken out for a walk on New Years Eve. I figured he would like some fresh air occasionally. 

I hope that Billiken (God of Things As They Ought to Be), or any of his good fortune carrying cousins, brings you the luck you need during this new cycle. Things got weird, and they can always get weirder. A little luck goes a long way. A huge number of people prefer to ignore reason anyway, may as well put our faith in unknown forces.

"Since the Earth-men, especially the Americans, seem to place their faith in 'luck' instead of scientific certainties; I'd like to wish you all 'luck'." -The Amino Acids

We can wipe off the grime we've accumulated from the shit year that was 2020. We're all a little battle damaged, and I feel like even our therapists will need therapists at this point, but that's fine; those of us who remained can slowly ease back into some semblance of our former routines and hopefully craft newer ones for this strange new world we are in. 

So, do your best this year. If there ever was a time to really hustle and get moving, this would be it. Fortune favors the bold after all. Even I have a few goals I want to reach. I wouldn't call them resolutions, mostly because they're more important to me than just that. Here's hoping I can pull them off. 

Happy New Year everyone. And good luck to you.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Trip to the Philippines, Part 3: Bearcats, Baker's Hill, Volcano Eruption, and the End Times


So before the year ends I'm going to wrap up this series of posts about my trip to the Philippines from December 2019 until January 2020. 

Who would have thought things would be the way they are now. Looking back on these photos I'm still surprised because when I left NYC for the Philippines everything was still normal, and when I got back everything started to change and crumble around me. It's been heartbreaking so let's look back on the "before times" when we didn't have to wear a mask everywhere, or gloves, and our friends and loved ones were still with us.

If you haven't seen the previous posts you can check them out by clicking the links below. The Philippines is a really beautiful place, I really can't stress that enough.

Check out Part 1 HERE

Check out Part 2 HERE

Before I continue, in Part 2 I mentioned how I got a tattoo from th\e world famous Wang Od, the 104 year old tattooist from a headhunter tribe that is slowly fading away. I forgot to post the video of that event so click here to check it out!

So, in Palawan we visited the Butterfly Sanctuary and saw a lot of amazing creatures. There were of course the butterflies (click here to view the video) and the Bearcat (which I believe only exist in Palawan; click here for the video).


We had a lovely tour of the sanctuary and I just can't get over how beautiful everything there was. I especially loved all the Bearcats. They're SO cute. Just bit blubbery tree climbing babies. 


Besides all of the animals and butterflies, there was a small exhibit filled with creepy crawlers that we were allowed to hold, like this millipede friend who I wanted to take home with me. 


Well, we weren't allowed to touch the Malay Giant Scorpions, but it was tempting. I think this was the first time I ever saw live scorpions so clearly. They move quicker than I expected; they practically skitter across their cell. 


We also watched a performance by a local tribe who had a working relationship with the sanctuary. They shared their music, games, and even sold handmade items to tourists. It was really cool but I have no pictures from that because I was so focused on enjoying the event live I just forgot to take any pictures or videos. 

Directly after the Butterfly Sanctuary we went to Baker's Hill, which is famous for their bakery but also for their park filled with off-model cartoon character statues. This place may have been my favorite from this portion of my trip.

Baker's Hill

There's not too much to say about Baker's Hill. The sweets we purchased were very tasty, but I couldn't tell you what they were. I think they were like mango-filled sponge cakes. But the real joy of Baker's Hill is walking around and seeing all the statues and taking pictures of all the crazy stuff you see. If I lived in this area I'd be here like every day I think. 













Volcano Eruption Volunteer Work

So a big thing that happened while I was in the Philippines was there was a volcano eruption the same day I returned from Palawan (I think, I remember I was returning from somewhere). We were hanging out in outside of a mall and suddenly ash started falling from the sky. At first I thought maybe there was a fire nearby but then we heard people mumbling about a volcano that was roughly 25 miles away from where we were. What's crazy is that we were in that exact area not long before the eruption driving on our way back.

(here is some of the volcanic ash we collected overnight from the balcony)

The amount of property damage, loss of animal life (horses, dogs, etc.), and displaced people was difficult to know at the time. And to be honest I refused to look too deeply into it because it was already so heartbreaking to hear about. 

A day after the eruption, my life partner and I decided to lend a hand with relief efforts. We returned to the mall and spent about $500 on supplies. Friends from Twitter and Dobbs.Town contributed to this, as well as some of my old co-workers and friends. The folks at the pharmacy where we were shopping gave us every discount they could so we could buy more as their way to help out.

Later that day we took a trip to what I think was a church group who were making care packages full of supplies for people who lost their homes. We also brought with us a great deal of dog food, cat food, and other pet stuff for anyone who might be traveling with their pets. 


I  couldn't fit in the area where the care packages were being made, so I made myself useful by carrying all the heavy stuff out of the trucks that arrived with more supplies. Everyone was really trying their best to make every care package as full as possible so folks could have what they needed to get by.


This was also my first experience wearing a facemask! Funnily enough we had brought these cloth masks with us because the air in some locations of the Philippines is kinda smoggy, but as it turns out it came in handy during the volcano eruption. There were people who were having trouble breathing because of all the ash and soot falling from the sky. 


I think the saddest part of that time was the night after we did some volunteer work I went out to get some food for breakfast and I found a poor kitten that had died because of the ash. It's little body was just covered with in and it made me wonder what other poor animals died because of this eruption because they were left behind by their owners. It's awful to think about.

I think it was the following day were we met up with some of the people we met from the church group for a larger relief effort. They took all clothing donations into a massive truck and we had planned on delivering it directly to the affected areas.


We all met up very early in the morning, and some breakfast, and went to find our groups. It was all fun until we started to get the breakdown of what we were getting into. My partner told me if I wanted to I could wait for her back at the place we were staying, because of my physical limitations, but I told her there was no way I was going to let her go alone. 

For a bit, we all thought this was going to be our swan song. We were heading to the center of this thing and we were going to help as many people and animals as we could. We were all determined and there was a huge part of us that thought that this would be the end of us. Even with the precautions we were taking, we really didn't know what was going to happen. 

We were filled with adrenaline, anxiety, but most of all determination. We were on the road and we were going to punch this volcano in the face.

But, fate had other plans for us; the local police refused to let us travel into that area and instead directed us to where we could really be useful. There were local schools that had people left homeless by the volcano staying as temporary residents while everything was being sorted out. 


It was both a huge relief and a disappointment, but still, we made ourselves useful and distributed the goods we brought to three different locations.



And me being the big goon that I am, I carried the big boxes around while everyone else (who could speak Tagalog) asked people in the area if they needed anything. We gave away a lot of masks, clothes, bottled water, meds, etc. and it was all very much appreciated. 


The volcano erupted the day we were supposed to head back to NYC, and so our flight was delayed about a week. I'm really grateful to all of my friends who helped me out by sending me a few simoleons so I could last a few more days. And that was already on top of sending money to help out with donations! Everyone was so wonderful, so thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Layover in South Korea


One of the major changes to my flight home was the 15 hour layover in S. Korea. It was either we just hang around the airport for that time or we go out and find something to do. So, using the money sent to me from my pals, I found a nice and inexpensive hostel to stay at that was only 20 minutes from the airport. 

What I loved most about South Korea is that they were in the middle of winter! The Philippines is always hot and humid, even at night, so it was nice to have a temperature contrast after a month of boiling heat.


The trains by the airport were spotless. And there were mascot characters everywhere, one of my favorite aspects of Asian culture. Thankfully the train systems weren't too overly complicated and we were able to find our way to our hostel pretty quickly. I  was pretty tired at this point. 


I don't remember the name of this place, but it was adorable. We arrived around 10am and the manager was nice enough to give us a quick tour before he went to bed. We were only there to freshen up and sleep before our flight. 


The area was in the middle of nowhere, so our food options were limited. There was a Dominos pizza place but my partner would have killed me if we went there!

So, after a bit of searching, we found a pub that only served grilled eel.

The Grilled Eel Restaurant 

There's not too much to say about this place. It's definitely the best grilled eel I ever had, but the portions were also kind of small for a guy my size. We had some Korean booze too, but it was somewhat strong. 






Stuff from the convenience store

It was around this time where it really felt like our adventure was really winding down. After dinner we stopped by a convenience store just to pick up some simple snacks for breakfast. It was fun seeing American products made for the Korean market. We really should have resealable Spam cans here too! I mean seriously!

I think the only really eventful thing that happened here was a drunk man entered the store, saw me, said some stuff in Korean and gave me a handful of unwrapped candy which I ate in front of him because I was terrified, haha. 






These fried Popeye branded snacks were my favorite. Sweet and salty bits of fried noodle chips and little sugary stars. I feel like I see these sometimes in Asian markets here in NYC. 


Back Home

Not much to say about our flight back. It was fine actually. The only interesting thing was this in flight video game called Bump Out that was kinda fun, even if it was a bit clunky and slow. It was like if Clayfighter was Mario Kart, and directed by Tim Burton. Just a weird dark game that was gross looking but addictive when you have nowhere to go for 12 hours. 


The moment I got home I felt an instant sense of relief. And it started snowing. I was tired but so, so happy to be home and I was looking forward to the new year.

Remember, this was me back in January of 2020. I had heard of the Corona Virus while I was in the Philippines, but at that moment it was still something that was only going on in China, and as I left the Philippines there was only one instance of it even leaving mainland China.


Just so much has happened since then. So much death and tragedy, also a great deal of lonliness and disappointment. Everyone was saying how this was going to be "their year"; myself included. I wanted to go out and try new things, and I guess that did happen, but not in anyway that I can say was good. 

I mentioned it almost in passing here and even here somewhat that I probably almost destroyed the world via a prayer I had on New Year's Eve of 2019 to Eris of Discordia. It's something Discordians aren't really supposed to do, we're even warned against it, but I said hey it'll probably be fine. 

And maybe, just maybe Eris went a bit too far in answering my prayers.


I even shared the above image on Twitter, with the best of intentions. I felt a bit of turbulence would be good and even healthy to a lot of us who were stuck in a rut like I was for so many years. Any change would be good change. So, I prayed to Eris for 2020 to be "an interesting year for all of us".

Whoopsies.

I just wanted a big change in my life and the lives of those around me. I left my old job without any real plan but I figured I would just go with the flow and see where it all takes me. In that respect, this year was kind of a success. But so much happened, and I can't believe how bad it actually got. It really felt like the End Times

But now that I look back on all of it, I have to ask was it all worth it. I think so. Loss is just another part of life, and all sensible people did their best to take care of one another but there will always be selfish factions who refuse to play nice because it's all too inconvenient for them to have any sort of common decency towards others.  There will will always be a Conspiracy, and Hodge and Podge will always clash. 

2021 finally approaches and I wonder what new challenges will come with it. I can't say I'm prepared, but honest I've never been prepared for anything so it hardly matters. And for a bit I was debating whether or not I would try to counteract my prayer from last year, but I think I'm going to double-down on it. 

Let's just see what happens next.