Showing posts from July, 2023

The Dragonfly: a Devil’s Familiar, or a Harbinger of Good Luck?

I love looking at the dragonflies in my garden. The sun really brings out their jewel tones as they zip among the flowers. I looked them up because I was curious about myths and folklore associated with the insects. I was surprised to find that there was great difference in how they were perceived in the old days by people around the world. Many European cultures considered them malevolent entities associated with snakes or the Devil. An old English name for them is the “Devil’s darning needle.” In Italy, they were seen as witches’ familiars and pets. In Sweden, they were omens of tragedy or injury. The views in America were more mixed. There is an old American superstition that the insects can sew up the mouths of lying children, nagging women, and cursing men. Another belief is they predict rain. A dragonfly swooping high means heavy rain, while a low-flying insect means a light shower. According to one Native American folklore, the dragonfly was once a dragon who was tricked int

What’s Up With America’s Lucky Biscuits?

Fortune cookies amuse me. They’re served in Chinese restaurants in the U.S., but have very little to do with China. I never even saw one until I came to the U.S. We certainly didn't have them in Singapore where I grew up. The “fortune” is the note inside the cookie that’s usually advice or a prediction. The notes may include lucky numbers. These cookies are very similar to ones made in Kyoto, Japan, going back to the 1800s. The Japanese cookies, which also contained fortunes, are still sold in some parts of Japan today. Fortune cookies most likely were brought by Japanese immigrants to the States in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It seems the fortune cookie as we know it was first served at the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Sometime during World War II, the fortune cookie went from being a Japanese-American product to one produced by Chinese-Americans. One theory is that Chinese-Americans took over making the cookies while a large number of Japanese

10 Horror Movies to Get You in the Mood for Summer

It’s summer. The days are long and muggy, and the smell of sunblock is everywhere. Millions of American are setting out for the beach or the lake, while you’re stuck at home and/or working. You don’t have to miss out. If you’re a horror fan like I am, there are many movies that will get you in the vacation mood. And after watching some of them, you may be glad you’re staying home instead of venturing out! Here are 10 recommendations, in no particular order, of horror movies that evoke the sights and sounds of summer. 1. The Wretched (2019) A teenage boy comes to live with his father at a resort town while his parents are going through a divorce. One night, he sees a strange figure on his neighbor’s porch. Shortly after, his neighbor’s little boy claims something is wrong with his mother. Before you know it, the teenager is tangling with a 1,000-year-old witch who wears the skins of her victims. 2. Splinter (2008) Gas stations can be frightening places in the middle of the night