Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Friday, May 06, 2011

Real-Life Cursed Videos...and a Real-Life Cursed Song

Recently, perhaps the MWP (Most Watched Program) on our TV these days has been "Honto ni Atta! Noroi Bideo" (本当にあった! 呪いビデオ), which literally translates as "Cursed Videos That Really Were", or perhaps "Real-Life Cursed Videos". The popularity of the 1990's Japanese horror novel "Ring", and the various movie and TV drama versions of it that were made in various countries around the world (including the US), firmly ingrained the idea of the cursed video in the Japanese psyche. It was therefore only natural that a TV series would eventually be made showcasing home videos that accidentally contained something spooky...or had a spooky real-life story associated with them.

"Honto ni Atta! Noroi Bideo" was made in the early to mid 2000's for direct-to-video release. It consists of the regular series, which includes 14 regular episodes and 10 "specials" including the eponymous full-length movie described here. At any rate, one of the satellite channels has been showing a run of a few episodes each week, gradually rotating through the series so that each episode gets repeated a number of times. Each episode centers on the work of one particular investigative team (I'm not sure how many different ones there are) as it checks on the background and surrounding circumstances of each video featured. One episode usually includes a little fewer than half a dozen such videos. Some also have some kind of running story that continues through a number of episodes, such as the ongoing investigation of a rumor or a particularly chilling case.

Most of the stories involve a home or surveillance video in which something strange appears in an otherwise ordinary situation. It can be something like a weird shadow or reflection, what seems to be a person in a place where no person should logically be, a ghostly apparition, a strange distortion in someone's face or a part of their body that was later injured, ghostly voices, unexplained sounds, or the unintended(?) filming of something that just should not be. While some might merit a smirk and a "Yeah, maybe with a little imagination and some good rice wine, that might look almost kind of like a hand," others are just plain freaky. Some have been positively disturbing. Of course, perhaps inevitably, there are also those that strain their credibility well past the breaking point, sometimes to the point of making a whole episode seem like it jumped the shark. It's still good, clean, spooky fun to watch...especially when a particularly freaky story sends my son into a jittery fit.

Speaking of which, although I have posted this story on this blog before, I'm going to re-tell it in response to popular demand. This isn't a "real-life cursed video", but rather a "real-life cursed song". I swear that this story is 100% true, at least to the best of our observations at the time; although I'm sure there are many logical explanations for what happened, at the time it all added up to something extraordinary.

The year was 1998. I was still a fairly new face at Ye Olde Academy. It had also only just come out that I was able to compose and arrange music. The chief director of the music club told me that he'd be more than happy to have the orchestra perform anything I came up with. High on the success of my first, surprise arrangements (another story...), I decided to go for broke and write an orchestral suite. It was entitled "Wahluna" and was based on the legend of the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) princess of that name...the noble but ill-fated figure who, together with her newlywed husband Tlesca (or Tlescaoe) of the Blackfeet, became the most famous victims of Oregon's Wallowa Lake monster (story here). It was a story I'd long been taken with, and the musical strains were already in my heart. I reconfirmed the issue with the chief director, got his enthusiastic approval, and tore into the project as if my life depended on it.

You have to understand that this was at least a full year before I got my first music-writing software, and I was writing the score by hand with pencil and paper. I was spending every available minute on it with a level of obsession far greater than Facebook or Zynga could ever hope to coax out of me. It was getting to the point where my eyes could barely see and my hands were too stiff from writer's cramp to be of much use, but still I kept at it.

That's when things started to happen.

First items started disappearing and then turning up in weird places. Household appliances started malfunctioning for no apparent reason. Then my daughter, still less than two at the time, suddenly started having screaming nightmares every night. We'd close and lock all the windows and doors when we went to bed at night and then wake to find the window in my daughter's room open (at a time of year when it shouldn't be). Then we started hearing what sounded like someone walking up the stairs at the same time every night, and then walking back down at the same time every morning (waking us up...and there was never anyone there).

Then my wife seemed to fall under attack. She started having minor but strange health issues. Almost every morning she'd go out to her (locked) car to go to work and find it still locked, but with items thrown about the interior. One night she left two bags of marked exam papers in there and found them all dumped out (but nothing stolen...not even valuables she'd left in there...and the car still locked). At the same time, various knobs and bits in her car started falling off, and the engine started acting goofy. One morning she found a mirror had dropped off. Another morning she found a flat tire.

To make matters worse, in my dreams at the time I almost always saw what looked like a dark-featured woman watching me from the shadows...and felt like I was being pursued.

I finally finished "Wahluna" and turned it over to the chief director. (He had the orchestra try it once...while I wasn't there..., declared it "over the kids' heads", and filed it away till further notice. It's still there in a box.) However, the strange goings-on didn't stop, and while my wife moved our daughter downstairs, I slept alone upstairs and did my best to meditate and try to figure out what was going on. That's when I had the ultimate dream.

In the dream, I was standing there looking at my sleeping body while a strange light filled the room (not the first time I'd had such an experience). Then I felt like I was pulled through some kind of door, and suddenly I was being guided by a group of people through a village to a campfire deep in the to which was what looked like a Native American medicine man. A very ANGRY medicine man. He told me his name was "Tlaloc" (which, I later found, happens to be the name of the Aztec god of rain, but anyway...), and he told me it was all my fault. Apparently I had put so much energy into my composing of "Wahluna" that I'd actually summoned her spirit. She'd been deeply touched...even infatuated. That had aroused the jealousy of her husband, Tlesca, and he'd started causing trouble. That had led Wahluna in turn to attack my wife both out of jealousy and to spite her husband. "Tlaloc" told me that the best way to solve the problem would be to compose a tune for Tlesca, too. That would satisfy his great pride and cool everyone down.

I woke up the next morning and immediately started work on "Tlesca", which ironically turned out to be one of the most successful tunes of my early, analog recording days (even despite that LONNNNNNNG, sloppy introduction..). Sure enough, all the strange goings-on came to a full stop. Things stopped disappearing or opening of their own accord, my daughter stopped screaming at night, my dreams stopped freaking me out, the footsteps on the stairs went away, my wife's health cleared up, and her car stopped getting messed with. My wife and daughter started sleeping upstairs again, and everything seemed normal and peaceful again.

However, the story doesn't end there.

My muse was exhausted...not to mention frustrated by the curt dismissal of "Wahluna" after all that trouble (even though not doing it had probably been a very good thing). However, after a while I got the urge to create again, so I went back into my little home studio and started work on an acoustic guitar-based tune. I managed to lay down a couple of guitar tracks plus drums, bass, and an organ part before I decided to turn in for the night.

As I walked up the stairs to the bedroom, I suddenly heard what sounded like soft footsteps and a rustling of fabric like someone wearing a robe was moving through the room. But at the same time, I could hear my wife snoring in the bed. Then I heard my daughter shriek in her room. In a panic, I tried to dash in, but I ran into...something. How do I describe it? There was nothing there, but was like a patch of chill. Like a little gust of cold wind that was trying to be physically solid, but not quite succeeding. It knocked me off balance as it passed right through me...and then I heard what sounded like someone running down the stairs on their toes. A bolt of adrenaline went through me, and in a pure rage, I ran down in hot pursuit of whatever it was. Slowing as I passed through the almost pitch-dark living room, the surge of anger faded, and I started to wonder what the hell I was doing. That's when I heard the crash inside my studio. That's when I said, "FUCK IT," went back upstairs, and stood guard until I gave up and finally went to sleep.

The next morning, I went to check on my studio. The acoustic guitar I'd used to record the night before had been flung across the room. I guess Tlesca, or whoever it was, had gotten it out of their system, because, as far as I know, they haven't been back since.

Yes, I swear this story is true. Misinterpreted and/or over-imagined perhaps, but still true.


  • Fascinating!

    I have experienced enough stuff similar to this to believe it was all real.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    By Blogger Rock Chef, at 12:46 AM  

  • That is absolutely fascinating. If I remember correctly, we were both still teaching at IPK, or was that just after you'd left? Either way, this is the first I've heard of this story. Reminds me of your connection with Impasse that gives you such startling detail and accuracy to how you've developed all this. My personal theory is that your brain is just wired differently than most people and you're somehow open to stuff like this. Hope you never hear from Tlesca again.

    By Blogger Andy, at 2:52 AM  

  • Whoa... that is truly awesome. What an experience. I wouldn't want to be in your shoe, and I trust all of it is true.

    By Blogger gus, at 3:41 AM  

  • Rock Chef
    As someone who grew up a science nut and a bookworm, someone who found the whole idea of superstition and unsubstantiated belief to be ludicrous (and yet always tried to be religious), I think it's ironic to the point of absurdity, and yet...

    I've had enough bizarre experiences, and I've been close to enough people who have had bizarre experiences, to come to the empirical conclusion that simply dismissing it all is even more blind than blind faith.

    (John, did what I just said make sense?)

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 11:02 AM  

  • Andy
    This happened the year after I left IPK. I was reluctant to talk about all this for obvious reasons (starting with #1: it just seemed nuts). Yeah, I think I told you about how, at one point late in my university career, I had two different groups of occult enthusiasts and some wiccans practically fighting over me, telling me I had abilities I didn't know about. All I know is that I've had some pretty freaky dreams on occasion, sometimes revealing truths I hadn't yet known about or showing events or people I came across later. I've also seen some very strange things happen, whether to myself or to other people, that seemed to be triggered by my presence. This isn't something I have any control over, or something I really even want to deal with, but we don't always choose our path in life.

    I'll just keep doing music...and Impasse.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 11:18 AM  

  • Agus
    I didn't really want to be in my shoes at the time, either. ;-)

    I just hope this story doesn't make everyone think I'm totally loony.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 11:19 AM  

  • Wow! These things do happen and some people are more inclined to seeing or experiencing them than others.

    I know someone who was taking a picture of a friend in one of our shopping complexes when on checking the shot, found a ghostly figure beside the friend. I believe the picture is still in his phone-camera. And they say cameras don't lie.

    By Blogger HappySurfer, at 2:59 PM  

  • Happysurfer
    Ah...the photo apparition! The Japanese are very big on those...which is probably why that video show became such a hit.

    I once took a picture of my parents' house decked out with Christmas lights at night so I could show it to my students. Later, when I showed the pic to a class using a projector, the kids freaked out...because there was a weird, skeleton-like image next to the house looking like it was coming toward me. I sent a copy of the pic to a friend who knew a professional paranormal investigator. They said it was most likely the ghost of a cow that had once lived there.

    Actually, my parents' house stands on the site of what used to be a pen for my mother's family's beloved milk cow!

    (I know I posted the pic before. I'll try to find it and link to it.)

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 3:53 PM  

  • is the pic. You can see the skull-like image on the right hand side. At the time, there was absolutely nothing that could have created an image like that, i.e. no smoke or mist in the air. It looks even more impressive when projected on a screen.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 5:32 PM  

  • MM, thanks for jolting the memory. I remember reading your post. That is a cow, alright and certainly one for the album.

    By Blogger HappySurfer, at 1:15 PM  

  • Yes, made total sense to me!

    By Blogger Rock Chef, at 11:14 PM  

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