critic

Cayleigh Elise: YouTube Queen of True Crime (and Darkness More Generally)

Last week I covered the LordanARTS  YouTube channel; before getting to this week’s main event, I want to thank Mr. Lordan for the lovely acknowledgement of my review on JohnnyVlogs. Check out the 1: 55 mark, specifically.

However, I only found LordanARTS through the video suggestions received while watching Cayleigh Elise’s dark, atmospheric productions.

Since posting her first video in 2015, Cayleigh has amassed nearly 300, 000 subscribers, of which I am one. Having had a chance to watch some of her very earliest videos over the past weekend, I am amazed at her growth and development as an artist.

These first videos tend more towards horror or personal stories of spooky experiences, the latter narrated in a bubbly, delightfully self-aware-yet-self-deprecating style. While engaging, these videos are distinctly amateur in comparison to her more recent work.

That corpus, focusing on the macabre and the mysteries, includes subscriber stories, missing persons, cold cases, and the supernatural. Of the many series and mini-series I have two favorites: Nameless, focused on identifying those poor souls whose bodies have been dumped like trash and whose names have gone unknown; and Dark Matters, which profiles particularly disturbing or mysterious unsolved cases.

Cayleigh’s narration for these dark stories is slow, hypnotic, and always full of compassion. If A&E ever reboots Cold Case Files, I nominate her as successor to the great Bill Kurtis.

The visuals are also fantastic. I want to steal her wardrobe; the changing backgrounds feature bizarre and fascinating decor; the source materials and editing are superb.

Let me emphasize it again: these videos are dark. They are frightening for the narratives alone, before even considering the visuals. I will warn you, as Cayleigh Elise does before the videos in question, that Nameless often features postmortem photographs. She includes these not out of morbid interest, but in hopes that these pictures will trigger someone’s memory where composite sketches have not. When she says “I have to warn you, this next picture is graphic,” I usually duck my head down. Because I’m a wuss.

There have been occasions when I peeked too soon, and mutter something along the lines of “Oh, dear Lord Jesus, help us all.” I don’t know if death is ever ‘pretty,’ but for the John and Jane Does of Nameless, it never comes gently.

Because of the possible Massachusetts connections, I recommend to you especially her most recent video at the time of writing, the case of the Woodlawn Jane Doe. Do you recognize this woman?

 

I will end this review as Cayleigh Elise always ends her videos, by reminding you that “While these may be dark matters, the darkness always matters.” It matters because our humanity is defined by how we treat others. To acknowledge the dark is to face, head-on, the realities of pain and evil in the world.

The Catechism says that burying the dead is an act of mercy. Naming the forgotten dead, surely, is one as well.

5/5 stars: High-quality visuals and narration. A host with a natural sense of the dramatic, abundant compassion, and tact.
5/5 ‘fraidy cats: Some videos are too harrowing for me to watch after dark. The rest make me check that the door
 is ,in fact, locked.
5/5 ‘ick’ factor: Death is frightening; murder even more so. Crime scene/postmortem photos and descriptions may be particularly difficult for sensitive viewers. You will be warned when to look away. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

 

 

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Blog News: “Trotsky” Author Reaches Out; My Policy on Ads; Original Content Fun & Games

28 August 2017

Hello, readers,

I hope everyone is doing well this late summer evening. For my fellow Houstonians and Texans, I am praying for your health and safety.

For everyone not surrounded by a newly formed lake, the mayor of Houston has created a hurricane relief fund administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation. Your donation is tax-deductible and greatly needed.

I cannot endorse GHCF from my personal experience, but that is where city officials prefer donations go.

Turning now to blog news…

Kenneth Ackerman is a Mensch 

For those of you not lucky enough to have discovered the joys of Yiddish, according to Google, “Mensch: n., a person of integrity and honor.”

It takes a lot to open yourself up to criticism. It takes even more to respond to criticism with grace and class.

And for that capacity, Kenneth Ackerman ought to be acknowledged.

In my review of Mr. Ackerman’s Trotsky in New York 1917, I noted an error that, to my obsessive grad student eyes, seemed rather glaring.

Mr. Ackerman reached out to me, thanked me for catching the error, and promised it would be amended in the next edition of the book. You can view our exchange at the top of the comments section of the original review.

I’m Thinking of Selling My Soul

Or putting ads on my blog, depending on your point of view.

This is a one-woman show that started because I love true crime, cultural criticism, and writing. I even think I’m a little bit good at it. The writing and criticism, not the crime part.

I’ve never committed a crime. I swear.

You can only top doing things for love with doing the same things for love and money.

While it would be my desire to keep ads off particularly sensitive posts, such as active missing persons cases, WordAds automatically places ads on all posts. My solution to this is to promise that I will never charge family and friends of missing persons, or victims of unsolved crimes, for an outreach post on my blog. If I am able to see how much money is generated by an individual post, the proceeds from ads on those pages will go to search efforts or a charity chosen by the relevant parties.

Original Content Coming Right Up

My decision to sign up for WordPress’s ad program now is because I feel comfortable enough to share enough of my original writing with you. The response I got to the story of my madcap drive down to D.C. inspired me to make that leap.

Stay tuned for more funny stories about my otherwise delightfully average life, poetry that I promise wasn’t written by me during my middle school Goth phase, assorted fiction, and reflections on current events. Of course, I will keep the book and TV reviews coming.

I hope you’ll join me for the journey.

Boring Yet Important Copyright Stuff

With the exception of some duly-cited historical photos from the public domain, all words and images on this blog are produced by me.

While I am the offspring of lawyers, I am not a lawyer, so I will refer you now to the lovely copyright language provided by WordPress:

© Allison R. Shely and True Crime Librarian, 2016-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Allison R. Shely (alias “the Librarian” and “L”) and True Crime Librarian with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I’m sure none of you lovely people needed that reminder, but I’ll put it in the website footer just for good measure.

Please don’t alienate me from my labor more than is necessary.

Be Happy,

-L