Bram Stoker published Dracula in 1897, but years before that novel made vampires famous, New England had its own famous living dead. The stories tell of dead relatives rising from the grave to haunt their family – even drink their blood. Townspeople would become so scared they would have the Mayor and Church approve an exhumation and beheading. And if the heart had blood in it – many freshly buried bodies did – they would burn the heart and the family would eat the ashes.
The cause for all this terror was a Tuberculosis epidemic that made bodies look like – from Smithsonian:
“The emaciated figure strikes one with terror,” reads one 18th-century description, “the forehead covered with drops of sweat; the cheeks painted with a livid crimson, the eyes sunk…the breath offensive, quick and laborious, and the cough so incessant as to scarce allow the wretched sufferer time to tell his complaints.” Indeed, symptoms “progressed in such a way that it seemed like something was draining the life and blood out of somebody.”
For country people in the pre-industrial area – with no scientific explanation – it could seem that someone was “feasting on the living tissue and blood.” Read the full story from Smithsonian Magazine:
Does this sound like an Indiana Jones adventure or what!
Two archaeologists deep in the jungles of Guatemala are searching the lost empire of El Zotz, an ancient Maya city-state. First, they discover Diablo’s Pyramid, a 45-foot tall royal palace that is 1600 years old.
Then, they spot another building but it’s buried deep in the jungle. Two years later they have it uncovered (ok, that is not-so adventurous but realistic archaeological work), and find beyond the overgrowth some devilish faces, from the National Geographic article:
The sides of the temple are decorated with 5-foot-tall stucco masks showing the face of the sun god changing as he traverses the sky over the course of a day.
One mask is sharklike, likely a reference to the sun rising from the Caribbean in the east, Houston said.
The noonday sun is depicted as an ancient being with crossed eyes who drank blood, and a final series of masks resemble the local jaguars, which awake from their jungle slumbers at dusk.
The Mayans sure were fascinated with power, death, and the sun.
For scientist Neil Hammerschlag, it was just another Sunday. He was out cruising the reefs near the Florida Keys, hunting for sharks — not as trophies, but for research aimed at keeping them out of display cases and in the water. In many places, these iconic predators are disappearing.
A research assistant professor at the University of Miami, and the director of its R. J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, Hammerschlag spends every other weekend in southern Florida dragging baited, shark-safe lines behind a boat, hoping one of his research subjects will take a bite.
When he and his team catch one, they outfit the shark with either a satellite tag or an ID tag, take tiny samples of muscle and fin and a vial’s worth of blood (they check to see if the shark is pregnant), then send the shark on its way. The whole process takes about five minutes.
Overall, many shark species are facing steep declines. Figuring out what is driving that trend, and reversing it, is a big motivation of Hammerschlag’s research. “We know a lot of shark populations are in trouble, but the question is, what is happening to Florida Keys sharks?” he said. “And if you want to be effective at conserving them, what would it take?”
In our second film, we meet writer turned knife maker Joel Bukiewicz of Cut Brooklyn. He talks about the human element of craft, and the potential for a skill to mature into an art. And in sharing his story, he alights on the real meaning of handmade—a movement whose riches are measured in people, not cash.
“It takes buckets of blood, sweat, and work…to get competent, then maybe you have it in you to get good, to go beyond and become an artist.”
director-producer – KEEF
director of photography – JOSHUA KRASZEWSKI
editor – MATT SHAPIRO
music – MICHAEL TRAINOR & NATHAN ROSENBERG
music produced at THE DOG HOUSE NYC
sound recordist – ROBERT ALBRECHT
re-recording mixer – NICHOLAS MONTGOMERY
assistant re-recording mixer – JOHN GUMAER
gaffer – ADAM ORELLANA
title design – MANDY BROWN