Scariest Mask I've Seen
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A Halloween treat from RubDMC. I'm working again tomorrow (tonight?), and since death is a very real possibility for many of our patients we kind of downplay the whole thing. But anywho here's a quick snap of one of our charming town burying grounds, know as the 'South Burying Ground.' It's only a couple hundred yards (and clearly within view) from the 'North Burying Ground,' but the explanation's an interesting one. Each lies on its own side of a stream called 'The Milldam.' In early colonial times dead bodies could not be transported across moving water - so anyone who died south of the Milldam was buried in one graveyard, while anyone who died north of the Milldam was buried in the other. The South Burying Ground is small, and bounded by Main Street. North is on a hillside, and was later expanded into Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, which includes Authors' Ridge where Emerson, Thoreau, and others are buried.
Ghost hunters spend lots of time investigating The Winchester House in San Jose. From The San Francisco Chronicle:
Before there were Ghostbusters there was Thomas Alva Edison. The father of sound recording technology wanted to make a device that could record the voices of the dead, according to his diary. Since then, just about every recording and measuring technology invented has eventually fallen into the hands of ghost hunters, who stake out haunted houses, graveyards and other spooky locales to try to capture empirical evidence of restless spirits. To this end, they utilize the latest in sound, video and still-image recording, as well as sensors that detect changes in temperature, electromagnetic fields and radiation. "We're looking for a ghost or spirit's influence on the environment," said Vince Wilson, author of "Ghost Tech, the Essential Guide to Paranormal Investigation Equipment."
From the Jackson Hole (Wy.) Star Tribune:
SHERIDAN -- At first glance, Wyoming might not seem to be a breeding ground for ghost stories and haunted houses. These are often associated with medieval castles or Victorian mansions, but in reality, the state's vast, wind-swept plains and the rugged mountains -- both often shrouded in mist and mystery -- support an array of eerie tales.
Or perhaps, the "better luck next year" edition. Given that today is Halloween, if you're still thinking about how you're going to decorate your house, let's face it: you're screwed. (unless you have an army of robot zombies or flying monkies at your disposal to do your bidding - in which case, you probably don't need to do anything special to make your house scary for Halloween - but I digress) So, in the spirit of continual self-improvement, I offer you this meta-site: The Monster Page of Halloween Project Links. Totally non-commercial, this site has an A-Z listing of haunted house-related projects. Poke around, get some ideas, follow some basic safety precautions, and I'm sure you'll have your own scratch-built horrors to share with us next year ;-)
I must salute MSNBC's movie editor, Paige Newman, for her bravery - or foolishness. Late last week, she wrote a column on 6 non-traditional-should-see vampire movies; that had to have been a daunting task, knowing that it would bring out the partisan in vampire and horror buffs. Still, it's not a bad point of departure (even if she seems to miss some of the deliberate Southern Gothic-ness of Near Dark). Her list?
I've always wanted to take a trip to Dracula country and to travel Central and Eastern Europe, from Prague to Budapest to Bucharest. The travel guides line the bookcase behind me. Life always got in the way of the dream, however. Some day, though, I will travel in the land of Count Dracula. Freelance writer Eric Lindburg did and recounts his trip to Transylvania and the Ottoman Empire in The Kansas City Star:
BRAN, ROMANIA — The old Gypsy woman at Dracula’s castle looks hard into my face as she divines my fortune: “You will travel many places, always looking,” she says in broken English. “But is better you stay close to home and have longer life.” Sitting in the kitschy Dracula Bazaar deep in the heart of Transylvania, I wonder whether buying a garlic braid in the next shop might be a life-extending investment for the darkness approaching. Or maybe I’ll spend my final hours dancing the night away at Dracula Disco just down the road.
The Washington Post reviewed several horror and supernatural books to mark Halloween. The illustration is from Witchfinders: A Seventeenth-Century English Tragedy.
Most Americans know about the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692, but a more lethal outbreak of witch hysteria infected England from 1645 to 1647, during the country's devastating Civil War. It all began when Goodwife Rivet got sick and her husband blamed her mysterious affliction on the bewitchment of a one-legged octogenarian named Bess Clarke. Two "witchfinders," Matthew Hopkins and John Stearne, interrogated the widow Clarke, and she proudly confessed to "carnall copulation" with Satan.
The Washington Post reviews Octavia Butler's Fledging.
How strange to find Octavia E. Butler digging up the old bones of this legend. As the first African American woman to make a name for herself in science fiction and the winner of a MacArthur genius grant, she seems an unlikely victim of Dracula's allure. But, as we might expect, her new novel, Fledgling , doesn't just resurrect the pale trappings of vampire lore, it completely transforms them in a startlingly original story about race, family and free will. "I awoke to darkness," the narrator begins. She's naked, badly burned, starving and without any idea where or who she is. She comes upon a group of homes destroyed by fire, but nothing looks familiar amid the cloud of pain and confusion. She can remember basic concepts only by trying to articulate what's missing: a bed, shoes, food. As a narrator, she couldn't seem more helpless, more vulnerable, more innocent. Then she chases down a deer and eats it. We're not in Kansas anymore. Welcome to the creepy story of Shori Matthews, a 53-year-old vampire who looks like a 10-year-old black girl. Suffering from amnesia, she makes a desperate narrator as we follow her on a dangerous journey of self-discovery and survival. She must somehow divine everything about herself from the clues provided by her strange body, the ashes of those burned homes and -- almost immediately -- a group of men trying to kill her. There's not a drop of Bela Lugosi in these pages, but Fledgling exercises the same hypnotic power the old Count projected onto his victims. Squirming in my chair, I was totally hooked, sometimes nauseated, anxious to put it down, but unable to look away. Go back, go back!Hat tip to eafredel.
The Hallowed Haunting Grounds is a display of mysterious illusions. It appears each Halloween season at a private home in Studio City, CA. Many people have made visiting the show a part of their Halloween tradition. ...It is very sad that all things must pass, and this Halloween display is no exception. The time has finally arrived for your hosts to move on and sample what else life has to offer in the month of October. We thank our neighbors for their patience, our friends for their support, and our families for their undestanding. - Hallowed Haunting Grounds(Thanks to blogging.la for alerting me to the sad news.....)
The historical inspirations for Dr. Frankenstein and Count Dracula crossed paths, according to the Sunday Herald in London:
In a collapsed, moss-covered crypt in St Mary’s Evangelical church in the Romanian town of Sibiu lie the earthly remains of Frank Baron von Frankenstein where he was buried following his execution by Vlad Dracula the Impaler in the early 15th century. The discovery, by celebrated historian and Sunday Herald correspondent Gabriel Ronay, establishes an extraordinary historical connection between the real-life inspirations for two of the literary world’s most loved creations. snip In the 1430s von Frankenstein, a Teutonic Knight, was the lord of Bran manor and the chief adversary of Vlad Dracula. “Shamefully, their repeated wars did not stem from religious zeal but from filthy lucre,” explained Ronay. “Vlad Dracula extorted taxes from the rich Saxon merchants of Transylvania. Ultimately Vlad Dracula defeated the Saxon army and put von Frankenstein to a lingering death on a sharp wooden stake.” Compelling proof of the fight between the real-life Vlad Dracula and a von Frankenstein can be found not far from Bran Castle in St Mary’s Evangelical churchyard in Sibiu where von Frankenstein was buried. Ronay visited the graveyard last year after Frankenstein and Dracula fans told him of the connection between the two families.
over at somethingawful.
In the world of children's books, Richard Scarry is a renowned master of such reckless and insane ideas as worms driving apple cars and cats directing traffic and fighting fires. Whatever madness made him dream up such terrifying ideas is a mystery, but it has delighted children for decades. Because Richard Scarry is incredibly dead right now, he can no longer produce new books. To make up for Richard Scarry's lack of heart, the Something Awful Forum Goons have decided to pick up the slack and update his works for modern audiences, making them timely and realistic. You best start beholdin'
Courtesy of /., news that a Cold War-era underground bunker complex has come onto the market:
WELCOME to Cold War City (population: 4). It covers 240 acres and has 60 miles of roads and its own railway station. It even includes a pub called the Rose and Crown. The most underpopulated town in Britain is being put on the market. But there will be no estate agent’s blurb extolling the marvellous views of the town for sale: true, it has a Wiltshire address, but it is 120ft underground. The subterranean complex that was built in the 1950s to house the Conservative prime minister Harold Macmillan’s cabinet and 4,000 civil servants in the event of a Soviet nuclear attack is being thrown open to commercial use. Just four maintenance men are left. [...] "It was like a set from The Avengers," said Nick McCamley, author of Secret Underground Cities, who lived locally and first discovered the existence of the site in the 1960s.Of course, there are a couple of catches... First, the asking price of UK£ 5m (approx. US$ 8.9m or EU€ 7.34m); second, you must also buy or otherwise invest in the entire decommissioned military base aboveground (not included in the price); third, no mention of lab space sufficient for the creation of robot zombie armies. If I'm gonna shell out US$ 9m, it bloody well better include robot zombie armies. A starter set, at the very least. Or winged monkies. Winged monkies would be a perfectly lovely compromise.
Dateline: Seattle, Washington, 29 October 2005, 22:41 PDT
Fremont, Seattle, the neighborhood known as the Center of the Universe, is under siege! Hordes of the undead have been unleashed upon an unsuspecting populace, and people are fleeing in a blind panic. A neighborhood better known for art cars, naked bicyclists, funky bars, and funkier inhabitants will, from now on, be associated with wholesale slaughter.
Those of us who have made it to safety are hearing on the radio that the Seattle Police have blown up all bridges that cross Lake Union and the ship canal except for I-5, which is under heavy guard at this hour. Stryker mechanized infantry units rushed from Fort Lewis are being deployed at this hour, but I fear it will be for naught: the zombies are too strong, and their numbers are many. We are doomed, I fear.
Wait - I hear something outside... It's
It was a real hoot - I'd have to say there were at least 100 zombies in varying states of decay to be seen shambling and stumbling down the streets of Fremont this afternoon. I posted a full photo stream on Flickr, here, and the LiveJournal of the Seattle Zombie Walk
instigator may be found here.
I like reading Laurell K. Hamilton's novels. I met Anita Blake of the Guilty Pleasures series 11 years ago in a bookstore in London. I've read several since, not all of Blake's novels, but quite a few. They're what I refer to as "fun reads," quick action and interesting characters and sexy. The ratio of pleasure you get out of it vs. the thought you have to put into reading her books is high. Turns out Blake is an interesting character herself. From The Associated Press:
When she was 5, she begged to be able to watch Boris Karloff in "Frankenstein." Later, she would read authors Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, and was particularly taken with "Pigeons from Hell," a short story collection by Robert E. Howard. She started to write herself, but noted she wasn't a teenager clad in black, composing death poetry. "The inside of my head is so dark," she said, "I didn't need the outside trappings."Blake's official web site is here. She also blogs (I need to add the links to the sidebar) here.
SallyCat is leading discussion on a different perspective for witches on BooMan Tribune. A poem traditionally posted about the fate that befell many during witch hunts and how it ties in with today. On a lighter note, she also posted a recipe for witch hat cookies also from a pagan site.
The set of Underworld: Evolution was visited by Coming Attractions. From the preview, I wonder if it's a sequel or more like hitting the reset button. (The first movie did well on DVD.) I really wanted to enjoy Underworld. Vampires vs. werewolves, what's not to like? Except it sucked and I don't mean in a good way like the vampire Kate Beckinsale biting into my neck and drawing out my life's blood kind of sucking. I mean sucked as in what-the-hell-were-they-thinking? kind of suck. The movie had a great look and Kate Beckinsale looked awesome as a vampire. She's good in everything, but she carried off that mix of sexual allure and menace. But I know roleplayers who could have come up with a much better plot and dialogue than in the first movie. So I really shouldn't expect much from this one. Except for the part I'll highlight in bold gives me hope. Because it looks like the script isn't something overlooked. With the great look - due mostly to Kate Beckinsale in leather - combined with a decent story, Underworld: Evolution might actually have evolved into a sequel worth viewing. Part One:
One thing fairly obvious, which you can see from the recent trailer, is that "Evolution" is as much a prequel to the first movie as it is a sequel, since it goes back in time to the dawn of the war between the vampires and the Lycans. In those days, they wore armor and wielded swords while riding around on armored horses, rather than wielding the machine guns we see them using in the first movie.Part Two:
Overall, it looks like they've really upped the ante for this sequel, using their bigger budget to put more thought and detail into the design and detail of the sets. With that in mind, we have to hope that the writing and acting are raised to that level, so that hopefully, this will be one of those rare sequels that blows away the original. (While roaming around the make-up truck earlier, we saw a loose script laying around, and we learned that screenwriter Paul Haggis of "Crash" and "Million Dollar Baby" had done a few uncredited revisions to the script.
Here's some really exciting news. The creator of Six Feet Under, a show my wife is a huge fan of (if you think I'm morbid, she's even darker), is creating a new series for HBO based on the Southern Vampire series. From Reuters:
HBO has dug up a new deal with "Six Feet Under" creator Alan Ball, but this time he's switching from the dead to the undead. The first project covered under the two-year development deal Ball signed with the premium cable channel will be based on the "Southern Vampire" book series. Written by Charlaine Harris, the series chronicles the intermingling world of humans and monsters in contemporary rural Louisiana, particularly vampires, thanks to a synthetic blood formula that allows them to roam far from their coffins. "The books are funny, scary, sexy, romantic, bizarre and really fun," Ball said. "I couldn't put them down. I will try to remain as true to the spirit of her book as possible."Ball also wrote the script for American Beauty.
He poured the blood into a tin cup for Lucy, who drank it in my presence. I could not repress a shudder at the sight of her lips touching the blood fresh from my body. She watched me out of the corner of her eyes, lowered the cup and smiled with a puckish delight. My limbs shook at the sight of her long white fangs. "Thank you, Henry," she said with a false coyness. "What does his blood taste like?" Adena asked. She picked an awkward time to satisfy her curiosity. "Like autumn," Lucy answered. "Henry’s blood tastes like October when the leaves have changed colors and a hint of smoke hangs in the air and you walk past a cemetery at dusk, the fallen leaves swishing under your shoes." The vampire Lucy Westenra's description of Henry Armitage's blood sums up what I love best about this time of year. Most of my happiest memories evolve around autumn: cutting firewood with my father, attending autumn festivals in smalltown Ohio, the color and sound and sweet smell of decay from the fallen leaves underfoot. Fall meant football and cheeks painted rose by the brisk air on the fair skin of my high school sweetheart and hands cupped around cups of hot chocolate to warm them. Fall meant a lot of work preparing for winter on our farm. But working in the autumn was much better than working in the hot and muggy summer. Working on a farm in the fall is pleasant - at least in memory. And fall meant trips to the grave yard at the end of Union Lane in Ross County. The cemetery was long abandoned and at the end of a long, narrow gravel lane with the trees so close they seem to form a tunnel. The cemetery is reputed to be haunted by Elizabeth's ghost, but those in the neighborhood know Elizabeth's ghost haunts a different cemetery on a small, family plot in between a cornfield and the woods. But the other cemetery was more accessible and when I was about 11 or 12 years old, I had friends over for a Halloween party. After we played games of tag and hide and seek and told ghost stories, Dad hitched up the wagon to the tractor and we sat on bails of hay and rode down Egypt Pike. We left the paved road to a gravel road and then to the very narrow lane back to the cemetery. It is surrounded by county-owned land set aside for hunting so no homes are within a mile of it. The roar of the tractor drowned out most conversations, but it was a pleasant ride bundled up against the chill. At the cemetery, we hopped out and with flashlights in hand walked through it. Most of the boys did not go far from the parking lot, but some of us walked through reading the barely visible names off the still standing tombstones and tripping over the occasional tombstone knocked over by drunken partiers. Someone suggested playing hide and seek in the dark in the graveyard, but no one spoke up in support. After a while, Dad called for us to return and we began walking back. No one wanted to appear in a hurry to leave and be called a chicken. I lagged behind to show off that I wasn't it frightened. As the other boys got ahead, I looked around behind me, though, suddenly not so sure of myself. Perhaps, I thought, a ghost or monster was merely waiting for one boy to lag behind to snatch him from the others. I stopped and listened. But I heard nothing except the sound of the other boys climbing on the wagon. I started forward again when I tripped over a fallen tombstone, hidden under the weeds. My shins hurt and my flashlight went out. I picked myself up thankful my hands hadn't landed on one of the broken beer bottles. I had enough light from the moon and stars to make my way through so I started forward when I stepped in a hole. Looking back, I tell myself it was a gopher hole but to my 11-year-old mind, it felt as if the grave had opened up so the skeletal corpse could grab my ankle. I felt a burst of adrenaline and kicked my foot free and ran the rest of the way from the cemetery and pulled myself up onto the wagon. "What scared you?" one of my friends asked. "Nothing," I replied. "Just didn't want you guys to leave without me." Dad started the tractor and we bounced on the back of the wagon. Nothing, I told myself again. But when I looked back, I saw skeletal arms and a bald skull pulling itself up from the grave. The wagon bounced down the ruts of the lane and the graveyard was lost to sight behind the trees. But I was happy to be on my way safe back home on the wagon, listening to my friends and smelling the sweet decay of the autumn leaves in the air.
The History Channel has a spooktacular collection of links to Halloween recipes, creepy videos, holiday e-cards, ghost stories and the origins of Halloween. There's a lot to see and do on the site. Most of it appears aimed at the young or the young at heart. In other words, perfect for me. Here's a historic tale of the ghost of the White House.
The ghost of Abigail Adams is seen hurrying toward the East Room, with arms out stretched at if carrying a load of laundry. She can be recognized by the cap and lace shawl she favored in life. Although Abigail Adams is the "oldest" ghost ever to have been encountered at the White House, she is by no means the only former occupant to occasionally wander its halls and great rooms. The home of the American chief executive has been the site of so much intense life it seems only appropriate that from within its walls come stories and legends of presidents and first ladies who linger...after life.
From The Scotsman:
PUNK rocker Rat Scabies is to join renowned international authors to discuss his pilgrimage to France in search of the Holy Grail. The former drummer with The Damned is to address the latest symposium of the Sauniere Society, set up to help shed some light on one of the world's greatest mysteries.
A. V. Club has posted an interview with John Carpenter:
Director John Carpenter is a veritable anomaly in modern Hollywood: a veteran craftsman who eschews auteurism. Carpenter grew up in Kentucky as a fan of tough genre movies, and went to film school at USC at a time when cinema studies emphasized the old Hollywood masters. After bursting out of the gate with an Academy Award for "The Resurrection Of Broncho Billy," a short student film he co-wrote, edited, and scored, Carpenter prepared himself for a career in the Howard Hawks mold: a life of making lean, truthful movies in a variety of genres. Then Halloween happened.Indeed. And while the after-effects of that 'happening' have been uneven, I'd have to say that on the whole it counts as a Good Thing. The interview doesn't really cover any new turf, but there are some good nuggets:
AVC: How do you make the leap from being somebody who likes to watch movies to somebody with the confidence to make them? JC: I have no idea. [Laughs.] You just have to want it enough. You have to have the passion for telling stories. You have to get by the love-of-movies aspect and move on to another plane, if you know what I mean. You can't just be a fan. What a director does... essentially, it's storytelling, but a director also controls the feeling and the sounds and the texture. It's an act of creation, like a symphony or a painting or a story. But with different tools. And the tools keep changing each year. Anybody can make a movie now, if you have the will. The digital revolution has made it very inexpensive to make a film. Anybody who wants to can do it.(With all due apologies to von Clausewitz for the title... ) [spotted whilst perusing The Onion this morning].
The current issue of Wired has an article about Ted Breaux, an American microbiologist posessed by the La Fée Verte: absinthe
Raised in New Orleans, a city once dubbed the Absinthe Capital of the World, Breaux has long been fascinated with the drink. Absinthe is a 140-proof green liqueur made from herbs like fennel, anise, and the exceptionally bitter leaves of Artemisia absinthium. That last ingredient, also known as wormwood, gives the drink its name - and its sinister reputation. For a century, absinthe has been demonized and outlawed, based on the belief that it leads to absinthism - far worse than mere alcoholism. Drinking it supposedly causes epilepsy and "criminal dementia." Breaux has made understanding the drink his life's work. He has pored over hundred-year-old texts, few of them in English. He has corresponded with other amateur liquor historians. The more he's learned, the more he's felt compelled to use his knowledge of chemistry to crack the absinthe code, figure out exactly what's in it, puncture the myths surrounding it - and maybe even drink a glass or two. snip But the biggest vindication came at the Absinth des Jahres contest in 2004, for which expert judges sampled newly distilled absinthes from all over the world. A little-known candidate, Nouvelle-Orléans, garnered perfect scores and won a gold medal. "Without doubt, the release of Nouvelle-Orléans was a milestone in the history of modern absinthe," says Arthur Frayn, one of the judges. The distiller? Ted Breaux.More on absinthe may be found here.
From The Scotsman:
WHAT happened on Halloween 1590 in North Berwick is up for debate. What is certain is that the fragments of evidence handed down through centuries is a witches' brew of intrigue. Some 200 witches met in Saint Andrew's Auld Kirk to raise the devil to help them kill the King. Or, it was on that day that King James VI said a witches coven assembled to conjure up a storm to drown him and his new wife Anne of Denmark as they sailed up the Firth of Forth to Leith. Whether it was true that witches gathered to plot his doom is debatable, but it was enough evidence for King James, who saw his top two fears made clear: treason and witchcraft.This is the kind of story that makes The Scotsman one of our favorite newspapers.
"Hey Mom it’s me." Something my son always said every time he called, but this time his voice sounded unusual. He had a really serious tone in his voice and the automatic gunfire in the background was loud and more constant than usual. My heart began to race and I took a deep breath. "Hey, I'm trapped on a rooftop and I don't think we are going to make it out of here, so I just called to tell you that I loved you and that I am thinking of all of you." The gunfire in the background was so loud that he had to pause, and then he continued. "We were out on patrol and were just getting ready to return to base and a bunch of our guys got overrun and so we went to help them, but when we got close we got overrun as well and had to retreat to this rooftop." I could hear yelling in the background and then big explosions. The phone then seemed to be put on the ground and there was more yelling and automatic gunfire, but this time it was my son who was doing the shooting. My son picked up the phone and in an out of breath voice said, "I really don't think we are going to make it out of here alive."Via AmericaBlog.
Bluesman Robert Johnson remains one of the most fascinating characters in American history. The southern bluesman playing hot guitar licks on a steamy stage in a roadside tavern filled with sweaty gamblers and loose women is an iconic image of American lore and one Johnson helped create in his short lifetime. Perhaps because his tale is so southern and so gothic, but the legend of Johnson selling his soul to the devil to learn how to play guitar remains as alluring today as in the past. Songs like A Hellhound On My Trail only fueled the rumors even though the lyrics don't discuss any deals with the devil. (For a good site analyzing Johnson's lyrics, visit The Robert Johnson Notebooks.) The Mudcat Cafe delves deeply into the question of Johnson and any pacts he struck.
A man named Julio Finn wrote a book titled: The Bluesman The Musical Heritage of Black Men and Women in the Americas. Finn adds the factor of voodoo to the equation, "It is doubtful whether Johnson could have written the lyrics of songs with out having been initiated into the cult…the symbolism involved in them is highly complex and of a nature which makes it highly improbable that they were simply things he 'picked up'(215)." With voodoo given credence, Finn provides an intuitive insight of Johnson's psyche and artistic sensibility.Delta Haze has a terrific site dedicated to Johnson. Johnson's life and music are the stuff of legend. But there is a side of his story, the side that wrote songs like Hellhound On My Trail, more appropriate for this site.
Those who saw Johnson play may have also heard the rumors. Like anyone possessing extraordinary talent and skill, jealous peers circulated vicious rumors about Johnson. In fact, it was the great Son House who stated "He sold his soul to play like that". snip Johnson's choice of instructor did nothing to slow the Legend from spreading. This instructor, Ike Zinnerman, supposedly learned to play the guitar at night sitting atop tombstones in old country churchyards. In southern black communities it was a well-known notion that one could go to the crossroads and sell one's soul to the devil.I suspect the same thing about many at the highest levels in Washington too. The National Park Service maintains Trail of the Hellhound for those interested in the blues.
When blues musician Robert Johnson wrote "Hellhound On My Trail" he conjured the archetypal image of a bluesman, outcast from proper society and stalked by personal demons. On our trip through the Lower Mississippi Valley we will learn about the blues and the local musicians who catapulted this art form to international prominence.
What: 10K RUN & 5K RUN/WALK When: Sunday November 27, 2005 - 8:30 AM Start Where: Staged from East Middle Drive in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Why: California Academy of Sciences' environmental education and research programs History: 21st Annual Highlights: The 5K Far Side Themed Costume Contest with Cash & Prizes to the top ten costumes. San Francisco's most unusual run is back! The 21st annual 5K and 10K Run To The Far Side® is a Thanksgiving weekend tradition that pays tribute to the eccentric cartoon creations of Gary Larson. It is the only race where herds of costumed cows, chickens, squid, cavemen, and assorted Far Side fanatics compete side-by-side with serious athletes in a beautiful jaunt through Golden Gate Park.
IT TAKES Cassandra Peterson an hour and a half to transform herself into Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Beehive black wig. Plunging polyester knit gown and uplifting wire bra. Gobs of dark eyeliner and blood-red lipstick. Peterson has the routine down cold — she’s been doing it for 24 Halloweens, ever since a local Los Angeles TV station hired her to introduce a horror movie in 1981. She turned a $350-a-week hosting gig into a lucrative empire of syndication, live appearances, action figures and sexy apparel. snip In another sign of things to come, she never missed an episode of “The Twilight Zone” and had the hots for Vincent Price as a 10-year-old. “While other girls were playing with Barbies I was painting replicas of Dracula and Frankenstein with my Revell model kits,” she said. “When I look at it in retrospect, none of it was planned out but it must have all played in.”Excellent article. It might seem odd to go from celebrating the light of Rosa Parks to the dark joy of Elvira, but that's The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire for you.
From The Daily Cardinal of Madison, Wisc.:
Every now and again, the insatiable desire to explain the supernatural turns science and the paranormal into strange bedfellows. Modern medicine allows doctors and scientists to play the game of pin-the-condition-on-the-monster but since vampire and werewolf test subjects are hard to come by, their speculation is solely based on finding parallel symptoms between folklore legends and modern disease definitions.
This is one of those genius, word-of-mouth, Hollywood-will-never-understand-it kind of films. Made mostly with love and hard work, plus a bit of money. It's both silent and black-and-white, which gives it a great Lovecraftian feel but guarantees it will never go mainstream. And considering they tried to use only materials that would have been available in the 1920s, they did an awesome job of bringing Cthulhu and R'Lyeh and all that other gooey Lovecraft goodness to life.Looks like a lot of fun! I think I can afford to spring for $20 to order the DVD... [via The Invisible Library, who I found through the comments on Making Light]
Maggie Grace in 'The Fog.' MSNBC contributor Dave White has a good column on being a movie review who loves horror yet having to sit through the recent dregs of the genre. He really nails my own thoughts on this year's releases and I'm not too optimistic about the near future either. Anyone who's read this blog knows I'm not an elitist. I'm not necessarily opposed to a movie just because it's a remake or a sequel. I'm as happy with Friday the 13th II as with Friday the 13th or with the remake of, OK, I can't think of any remakes I liked better. But I'm sure there's been one at some point or other. I just hate badly done remakes and sequels.
When the shoddy, pointless, not-scary remake of John Carpenter’s 1980 horror film “The Fog” opened recently, I made sure my Friday morning schedule was clear so I could catch the first matinee screening. I had to; I review movies for a living and “The Fog” wasn’t made available to critics beforehand. Not that I blame Columbia Pictures for that. They had to know they had a limp one on their hands and critics are usually irrationally unkind to the horror genre anyway.I skipped The Fog. I confess even after I put up a Fog warning last week, I nearly caved in this week because I'm like a horror movie junkie badly in need of a fix and like a truly desperate junkie willing to down embalming fluid I almost went in to see The Fog. Admittedly I never would have posted about it here. I'd have been too ashamed. I've got some good movies lined up in my Netflix queue. But I also just noticed they're all about 20 or 30 years old. Why does Hollywood torture us horror fans like this?
Here’s one terrible thing you can count on: cheap remakes of old horror films are here to stay because they don’t cost much to make and even if they fail at the domestic box office they clean up in “ancillary” sales like DVD and cable. They can flat-out suck it — and with the exception of last year’s “Dawn of The Dead” they’ve all done just that — and horror audiences are easily lured into theaters to see them.That's right. Blame the victim. OK, in this case we should blame the victims, the movie goers who shell out for these wretched excuses for horror movies. I'm not asking for much. Just a few original thrills. Some gore. Characters that make sense. A story that remains true to its world's rules (Is a bit of consistency too much to ask, Darkness Falls?) Anyway, I agree with White's column. And he has a blog on Live Journal that I'll probably add to my sidebar in a night or two. That is, if Horror Express hasn't arrived in the mail. Otherwise, I'll be busy watching a really good horror movie.
I'm thinking of making this a semi-regular feature... Why on Monday? Well, initially it was just because that was the day I stumbled across the how to make a secret door link, but now I'm thinking Monday might not be a bad day for DIY stuff... After all, if it catches your fancy, you're going to need some time to figure out how to get all the stuff you'll need, right? And so, installment #2 of DIY Monday: Mexican Day of the Dead sugar skulls. I love these things - and I love the idea of a holiday that manages to celebrate live through an acknowlegement of its passing - the color and imagery of a Día de los Muertos is quite breathtaking in the intensity of the visuals and emotion both. Anyway, on to the how-to links: Phoenix Newspaper's azcentral has a bunch of how-to articles for the Day of the Dead, along with accompanying video. A more in-depth (or anal, depending on your perspective) approach can be found here (making the skulls) and here (decorating the skulls), at GourmetSleuth.com; I don't know about you, but I like photos to accompany my recipes... And lastly, this site, Inkubus, is another source for all the supplies you'd need to make your skulls - I've included them because they're the site I got the first image from... Google "Day of the Dead" and you'll find tons of links, for both images and information. One of my personal favorites for images is the one that this image came from:
If all you know about the band Bauhaus is either their (uncredited) appearance as the band in the club at the beginning of The Hunger or the song that intro made famous, "Bela Lugosi is Dead", you're missing out on a classic dark treat. Much like their near-contemporaries Joy Division, Bauhaus wasn't really punk, or glam, or straight-up rock 'n roll. While embraced by the goth scene (largely for the aforementioned tribute to Lugosi), they really aren't a goth band - if I were to choose a label, I suppose 'art-punk' would come closest. At any rate, their career was short (1980-1983), but very influential... and they're on a reunion tour, which just kicked off last week in Vancouver, BC. The second night of their tour was this past Friday, here in Seattle - and it was absolutely amazing. Peter Murphy is looking a little long in the tooth perhaps, but they still know how to put on a great show. We were about 20 feet from the stage (you know you're getting old when you always bring earplugs to a concert), and it was a virtuoso performance all around. Oh, and it was a little weird to go to a show and recognize every song... but still, it was an excellent evening. And yes, they closed the 2nd encore with "Bela Lugosi is Dead"; I probably wouldn't have (too expected), but there might have been a riot if the house lights had come on and they hadn't played it. If you're at all a fan, I highly recommend the tour; if you aren't familiar with their work but are intrigued at all, and I'd say get a copy of their album In the Flat Field and give it a listen...
A gut pull drag on me Into the chasm gaping we Mirrors multi-reflecting this Between spunk stained sheet And odourous whim Calmer eye flick shudder within Assist me to walk away from sin Where is the string that Theseus laid Find me out of this labyrinth place Bauhaus - In the Flat Field
The White Trash Poet posts another eerie tale of a ghostly presence. Well worth the click.
As time passed, I found myself more and more uncomfortable in the apartment. By the time eight o’clock came, I had to get out. I took a walk to the local drug store, picking up some snacks and soda and made my way back to the apartment. My brother showed up a bit later and I left early, feeling completely ill at ease in the apartment. The next morning, I had off from work and class and made my way to my brother’s place, he was unemployed at the time. When I got there, I found out the nature of my discomfort. The junky lady had made her way to the basement laundry room, which was just below my brother’s place, and hung herself. They found her body late that night. It would be a few weeks after her death before things started happening.
Tonight at 9 o'clock on Masterpiece Theatre.
November 1903. Fresh from an opium den in London's East End, Sherlock Holmes relaxes with green tea and a book on beekeeping, paying no heed to Dr. Watson's plea for help with a baffling case. The corpse of a shabbily dressed young woman has been discovered in the mud flats of the Thames at low tide. Police assume she's a prostitute, but Dr. Watson suspects something more and goes to his old friend Holmes, now retired and at very loose ends. The original screenplay is by Allan Cubitt (Anna Karenina, Prime Suspect 2), who adapted the classic Holmes mystery The Hound of the Baskervilles for Masterpiece Theatre in 2003. This time Cubitt concocts his own tale of serial murder set in high society to challenge the wits of the celebrated brain of Baker Street.
Good article in Newsweek on the vampire queen.
After 25 novels in 25 years, Rice, 64, hasn't published a book since 2003's "Blood Chronicle," the tenth volume of her best-selling vampire series. They may have heard she came close to death last year, when she had surgery for an intestinal blockage, and also back in 1998, when she went into a sudden diabetic coma; that same year she returned to the Roman Catholic Church, which she'd left at 18. They surely knew that Stan Rice, her husband of 41 years, died of a brain tumor in 2002. And though she'd moved out of their longtime home in New Orleans more than a year before Hurricane Katrina, she still has property there—and the deep emotional connection that led her to make the city the setting for such novels as "Interview With the Vampire." What's up with her? "For the last six months," she says, "people have been sending e-mails saying, 'What are you doing next?' And I've told them, 'You may not want what I'm doing next'." We'll know soon. In two weeks, Anne Rice, the chronicler of vampires, witches and—under the pseudonym A. N. Roquelaure—of soft-core S&M encounters, will publish "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt," a novel about the 7-year-old Jesus, narrated by Christ himself. "I promised," she says, "that from now on I would write only for the Lord." It's the most startling public turnaround since Bob Dylan's "Slow Train Coming" announced that he'd been born again.
Photo of Cathedral House Hotel from UKHotel.com. Yesterday I wrote this. Today the report is up of the Cathedral House Hotel investigation in Glasgow by Ghost Finders Scotland. Makes me wonder if someone at Ghost Finders is a reader of The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire. The investigation on the 9th of October was at the eight-room hotel next to Glasgow Cathedral, the only virtually complete medieval cathedral in Scotland (and a rather eerie-looking structure). The report was worth the wait. Lots of good EVP and videos and detailed documentation of their readings. As with most EVPs, I had to listen to it several times before I heard the words, "You have to write it down." (The harsh sound at the end confused for a time because I thought it was part of the sentence.) But once I did make out the words, a shiver ran up my spine. As usual, Ghost Finders Scotland put up a very professional paranormal investigations report. And I know if I visit Glasgow, I'm asking for Room 7 of the Cathedral House Hotel.
Interesting discussion and some spooky tales here.
It was sometime around 11PM and I was laying on the couch watching a tape of Simpsons episodes. The family dog was asleep on the floor next to the couch. My back was to the stairs. When I first heard the noise, a creaking sound - ever so slight, I thought nothing of it. After all, this was a very old house that creaked more often than not. When Fred (the dog) startled and ran to the bottom of the steps, staring to the top, I took notice. By this point, I could hear each step creak as someone or something made their way down the steps. I had not yet turned to look, nearly frozen with fear. Then Fred started barking, not a bark of aggression, but the bark he did when he was happy to see a friend. I slowly turned, fully expecting to see a young woman descending the stair, but saw nothing. I thought briefly that my mind was playing tricks on me, that I was imagining the whole thing. I turned and resumed watching the television, and the footsteps continued. I counted, one footstep for each of the thirteen steps. I could not turn, would not turn to face whatever it was that was now no more than four feet from me. Then, I counted thirteen more footsteps, back up the stairs. I did not sleep much that night, nor for many nights after that.Hat tip to the White Trash Poet.
Starting 23 October, it's MONSTERFEST time on AMC! 200 hours of thrills, chills, creeps for peeps...it's going to be fun. Stock up on the popcorn and get ready for the fun fest of fear. Their movie line up...click here (pdf) Got an idea for a horror flick...pitch it here. They even have some fun spooky themed games to play here. (I like whack the wolf)
Must read column in the Harvard Law School's The Record:
The approach of Halloween signals a few weeks when the otherwise deviant celebration of horror and the supernatural briefly becomes the socially accepted norm, and indulging one's tastes for ghoulish or morbid entertainment is encouraged. Few things are scarier than tales of terror set in familiar local haunts, so this is the perfect time for New Englanders to become acquainted with the works of New England's own master of the macabre, legendary author Howard Phillips Lovecraft.
Bodie State Historical Park in California. USA Today lists 10 ghost towns worth haunting this Halloween, including Bodie, Calif.
"Located on the arid eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada, Bodie was a Gold Rush boomtown boasting 10,000 residents," Torkells says. "Weather-worn and sun-bleached, Bodie is spooky. It has 200 buildings remaining and 80 headstones in the cemetery, so visitors don't have to rely on archaeology or imagination. In fact, stores still have goods on the shelves.
One thing I've noticed occurring over the past year is that many of the paranormal investigation sites have really upgraded their designs. ISIS Paranormal Investigations is a perfect example of this. I've highlighted some of their past investigations, but lots of spooky goodness worth clicking upon.
How long is Ghost Finders Scotland going to continue to tease us with this?
Cathedral Hotel, Glasgow 09/10/05 *Report Coming Soon Our latest investigation was conducted at the Cathedral Hotel, Glasgow. Look out for our report including video footage, EVP files and photographs coming soon.It's almost as bad as Fitzmas.
Photo of Nelson's statue at his crypt in the center of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. There is some historical debate over the last words uttered by Lord Admiral Nelson before he died in the hold of HMS Victory. By most accounts, his last words were "Thank God I have done my duty." And by all accounts he did repeat those words over and over until he passed away. By some accounts of those who attended him, Nelson's dying words were, "Drink, drink. Fan, fan. Rub, rub." They were requests to help alleviate his thirst, the tremendous heat of the hold and the pain of his wound. Nelson, though, had waved off medical attention for he knew he was dying and he preferred his men be treated instead. After he died, instead of being buried at sea, his body was put into a barrel and filled with rum to preserve it for the voyage to England. There is a legend that the sailors had taken illicit drinks of the rum from the barrel so that it was only half full. More than likely, the story is not true because of the respect accorded Nelson by the sailors and by the fact a Marine stood ceremonial guard duty over his body. However, it is the sort of detail that seems fitting to include on this blog. His funeral procession was immense. If ever a man had captured England's heart entirely, it was Nelson. St. Paul's Cathedral is reserved, along with Westminster Abbey, for those of renown. Nelson's tome is directly under the center of the dome in the crypt.
From The Guardian:
The unique selling point of the whitewashed house, 5 Real Street, in the village of Bélmez de la Moraleda, in the southern province of Jaén - is its kitchen. It was here, 33 years ago, that María Gómez first found the outline of a human face which appeared in the concrete floor. She chipped away at the cement to get rid of it, but soon a cast of a dozen other faces and outlines of whole bodies began to appear. snip The phenomenon became so famous in Spain that queues of visitors formed every weekend. Scientists set about proving that Gómez must have painted the figures. The state-run centre for scientific investigation became involved and the kitchen was closed off under the supervision of a notary. But when it was reopened three months later, the faces were still there. A two-metre trench was dug, revealing bones from a 13th-century graveyard. "The strange thing was that they found bones but no skulls," said Lorenzo Fernandez, the author of a book on the "faces of Bélmez". A more recent theory is that the faces belong to members of Gómez's family who were massacred during Spain's civil war.
Mick Jagger's daughter Elizabeth revealed (in more ways than one) more than her Rolling Stone father preferred.
That's not the only revelation Elizabeth made in the interview. She also said there is a headless ghost haunting the Jagger family's holiday home in France. Really. "This is a bit freaky, but when I was three years old I saw the ghost of a woman holding her head when we were on holiday at my dad's home in France," she told Elle Girl. "The house was raided during the French revolution, and all the residents were buried in the garden. My sister Georgia saw the ghost when she was four, and my brother Gabriel keeps talking about her now." The only one who hasn't seen it is brother James, and Elizabeth has an explanation for this anomaly. "I was sitting next to my brother James when I saw her, but he didn't see a thing. We think he's missing that spiritual gene or something."
Because we haven't had a good pirate story (or even a bad pirate story) on MotHV for a while, and because it's the closest I think I'm likely to come to any kind of seafaring ghost story, Trafalgar Day or not (sorry, Carnacki!), I thought I'd pass this bit along. From the website of WTKR Channel 3, Hampton Roads, VA, we have this:
Researchers excavating the site of the shipwreck believed to be Blackbeard's flagship got an unexpected assist from Hurricane Ophelia. The storm churned up the waters and unearthed an apothecary mortar from the remains of the Queen Anne's Revenge. That's the thick bowl familiar to modern eyes in pharmacy logos, where it's shown with a pestle.The Daily News of Jacksonville, NC has a more detailed version of the story, including some of the technical challenges the archeologists uncovering the site face when dealing with frequent hurricanes and tropical storms.
MSNBC's WaPo highlights today include a profile of Washington DC Metro Police Department's 'Natural squad'. Comprised of former homicide detectives, the 'Natural squad' investigates all apparent non-homicide deaths in the District - some 800 of the 4,000 deaths reported in DC last year (the majority of reported deaths occur in the context of some kind of medical or assistive care). Burned out by the brutality of murder and the drudgery of the investigative process, these four detectives were attracted to this duty by the promise of regular hours and quick case resolution. It seems like it might be a Faustian bargain for some:
It is 10 p.m. on a Tuesday night, and [detective Randy] Brooks has been summoned to a Northeast apartment complex where a 98-year-old woman was found dead in her bedroom. Walking into the woman's cluttered apartment, he can smell death. He has something he finds particularly helpful on such occasions: cheap cigars, stashed in his jacket pocket and the glove box of his car. He doesn't normally smoke. But the aroma of his Black & Milds masks the putridness of rotting remains. [...] Brooks enters the bedroom and finds the woman slumped at the edge of the bed, facing a large mirror. The detective rummages through the closets and drawers, looking for identification cards. In a purse, he finds a few scraps of paper, with the names and phone numbers of several relatives. One note begins with words that seem meant for Brooks: "If something should happen to me, please call . . ."It's a very well-written piece, and more than worth the click.
Two hundred years ago today, a combined fleet of French and Spanish warships met with a British fleet commanded by Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson off the coast of Trafalgar. Nelson died from a sniper wound at the height of the battle that marked his greatest victory. The bicentennial is being observed with events throughout Britain and Spain. Here at The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire we'll be marking the day with ghostly tales from Britain, Spain and France as well as our usual collection of spooky oddities.
The base of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square in London has four metal plates showing scenes from the great man's life. Here, in an image fitting for The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire, is the mortally wounded Nelson waving off medical aid so the doctors might treat those not dying.
From the Radford University Tartan:
What about tales of the supernatural so appeal to us as a society? Do we just like to be scared, or does the idea of a “spirit” or “phantom” simply appeal to us because it is something exotic and magical, something we can’t control? Whether chemical or mystical, it is this fascination with the unknown which attracts men like Peter Jordan, a paranormal investigator, who will be coming to RU Jordan was a former field investigator for the Psychical Research Foundation at Duke University. He is currently the Research Director of Vestigia, a New Jersey-based paranormal research organization. Aside from these prestigious titles, Jordan also holds a Masters Degree in Psychology from the New School for Social Research in New York City, where he teaches parapsychology.
The 'ghost stations' of London's Underground and other abandoned buildings and sites are favorite places of Haunted Vampires. A story in the Edmond (Oklahoma) Sun reveals Oklahoma City has its own version of the Tube's ghost stations.
Like most places where large numbers of people come together, the Conncourse was the stuff of urban legends, with stories being told of how it had originally been constructed by Chinese immigrants in Oklahoma City and had been filled with opium dens and gambling parlors, and how Mr. Conn had been informed of the existence of the tunnels by Chinese residents who were grateful to him for extending them credit. Stories were also told of people who had gone to bars there after work, and ended up being confined to the Conncourse all night after they had passed out from drinking too much. But after the collapse of the oil boom, the Conncourse fell upon hard times, and parts of it became comparable to the ghost stations of London’s Underground. The section that is located beneath what had formerly been the Skirvin Hotel, which had once been a bustling place filled with eateries and stores, is now abandoned and inaccessible to the public.
Hell, I should probably marry this movie. I love everything about it - the characters, the library music/Italian prog rock soundtrack, the setting, the story and (of course!) the zombies. I love it because underneath all that cheesy comic-book action, gore and slapstick humour lies an insightful and thought provoking subtext of class war, conformity and consumerism. Zombies, eh? They're us, and we're them. When the worst comes to the worst what we should really fear is ourselves, and each other. I think that's what Jerry Springer was really trying say.Hannah also loves to knit. Put those two loves together and you have a classic blog entry! (and possible Holiday Gifts Ideas for those horror fans on your "Naughty or Nice" list.) However, these fabulous creations might not be allowed in Pittsburgh, PA, because apparently the city is not prepared for Zombie infiltration.
(Haunted Vampire love bites to Matt of the Tattered Coat)
A zombie-preparedness study, commissioned by Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy and released Monday, indicates that the city could easily succumb to a devastating zombie attack. Insufficient emergency-management-personneltraining and poorly conceived undead-defense measures have left the city at great risk for all-out destruction at the hands of the living dead, according to the Zombie Preparedness Institute. (The Onion)
Explore the Gothic side of Nob Hill. Meet Mina Harker, Vampress who was made by Count Dracula in London in 1897, and banished by him to the United States. Mina has resided on and under the streets of San Francisco for over 100 years. Hear her story, and learn how Vampires have played an important part in the shaping of San Francisco as we know it today.This sounds like a fun way to learn the city's dark history. I'd also want to take the Dashiell Hammett tour. I'm going to have to catch me an airplane and fly out there.
or rather....never more with lawsuit counterPulse theatre had scheduled a live action version of the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Once More With Feeling." The tickets were pretty much sold out. Hurray! But...wait....FOX was packing a wooden stake in the form of a letter that said that the theatre group faced copyright infringement lawsuits if they didn't cancel the shows. They, unfortunately, did. Even though Joss Whedon didn't see a problem with doing a live action presentation of the episode. Talk about corporations sucking the fun out of life. "I laugh in the face of danger! Then I hide until it goes away." -- Xander (haunted vampire kisses to sfist for breaking our heart with this news....)
From Media Buyer Planner:
Publishers of Robert McCammon's book, They Thirst, promoted the first Italian edition with a ceremony in which a street team carried a coffin full of books through downtown Rome, handing out a "coupon" for a free coffin to onlookers, to be used in the event of death by vampire, Adrants writes. The stunt was pulled off by guerrigliamarketing.it.Question: I posted this because: a) I'm going to steal this idea when I publish my vampire novel. b) Rome is beautiful this time of year. c) I'm a fan of Robert McCammon. d) I'll take any opportunity I get to post a photo of a pretty Italian woman standing over a coffin. Answer: e) all of the above.
The stories I could tell about Halloween weekends in Athens, Ohio - if only I could remember the details and the telling didn't get me into legal jeopardy. From the Athens Post:
Clowns, batboys, skeletons and more fill the three haunted houses at the third-annual Federal Valley Fright Nights at the Federal Valley Resource Center in Stewart. After working on the set of "Edward Scissorhands" and "Predator 2," among other movies, John Coen not only created the haunted houses, but is one of the main characters as well. Coen plays Captain Thropp in the Carnival of Terror, the scariest of Fright Nights' three houses. He applied his movie-set skills with expandable foam in designing latex props in the haunted houses, he said.That's not a bad pedigree for someone designing a haunted house.
And your liver, and spleen, and lungs... Inspired by cookie jill's edible eyeballs, and guided by a suggestion from my wife ("Ooh! I saw this cool thing on Penn & Teller's website last Halloween..."), I present... The Thorax Cake! Carnacki, you absolutely must blogroll this psycho-sister team at theyrecoming.com. I stand in awe of their prowess. For those of y'all feeling a little intimidated by a project of that scope, you could start with this project from another site with a lot of fun Halloween stuff - how about just the heart?