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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Full immersion October – October 31, 2011

Some years, I’ve struggled to get words for October organized and onto the page. It’s been especially difficult the last few years as I’ve been working a full-time day job and taking classes three or four nights a week.

At times, I’ve felt like I’ve missed the very best of October because nearly every minute of my time was scheduled, spare moments were spent on homework or mundane things like laundry and I didn’t really have the chance to go out and see or do all the October-y things I write about.

Not this year. This will go down in the books as a full immersion October.

October this year, for me anyway, started in the middle of September with a trip to the pumpkin patch. What a wacky day that was: pouring down rain, lost in the corn maze and what do we hear? The unmistakable sound of a chainsaw. It only got better from there.

I’ve been out and about collecting (and consuming) samples of some really fantastic ciders and I’ve been lucky enough to have a day in wine country actually participating in the winemaking process. I think I ate an entire apple cake.

I’ve participated in gatherings of new friends and old, many fueled by the comfort foods of fall and those dark, heavy beers that I’ve grown to like over the years.

I spent some time at the stadium at my high school, a homecoming of sorts, and at Jeld-Wen Field. I went to a costume party, was totally freaked out by a haunting in a decidedly non-haunted place and am spending at least part of Halloween night in a graveyard.

Full. Immersion. October.

It has been said before and it will, no doubt, be said again: Halloween is that time at which the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest. The transition from summer to harvest to barren field is nearly complete and we confront the mystery of our own mortality.

I consider myself lucky in that I count among my friends those from a multitude of faiths. Today, tonight and for the next few days, they will collectively celebrate All Hallow’s Eve, Samhain, All Saints Day and el Dia de Los Muertos; very different faith traditions all honoring similar themes.

Me, I will remember those who have gone before us and I will celebrate those who are still with us. And I will offer a prayer of thanks for all each of you has given me.

Thanks again for following along and indulging me and my October habit.

Happy October.

If you came in just for October, the blog will continue but certainly won’t be updated nearly as often.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2011 in October 2011

 

Soundtracking October – October 30, 2011

I’ve started this three times so far and have yet to get past a few lines before this particular house of cards collapses.

So, instead, we go to the soundtrack.

I can’t remember (and am too lazy to go check) if we talked about what music is most appropriate for October. Van Morrison, of course. And I know we covered a little bit of Warren Zevon’s catalog.

There’s one more big one for me and I hate to admit that I waited this long to put it in the cd player.

That’s right, kids. I finally dug out the Concrete Blonde.

I’m not sure how this happened, but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen this video before. It looks exactly like Interview should have looked. Stupid Tom Cruise.

Johnette, by the way, is on Twitter. I learn something new everyday.

I also found a couple places that suggested that, somewhere in the universe, there’s a Rob Zombie cover of The Vampire Song, but I can’t find the actual song anywhere.

Instead, I’ll give you this one:

Dragula, it ain’t, but it has a guy dancing around with a pumpkin on his head.

And, as a bonus, the film White Zombie in its entirety:

That should keep you busy long enough that you’ll forget that I didn’t actually write anything.

Okay, one more thing for the film history dorks:

Alright, one more and then we’re done for today:

Happy October.

Disclaimer: none of these pieces of film belong to me. They are reposted here from Youtube for educational and editorial purposes only.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2011 in October 2011

 

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Darkness fell – October 29, 2011

Darkness fell.

Maddie didn’t stop to wonder at how quickly it had all happened. She shouldered the black leather satchel, the one Edgar had given her so many years before, now weathered by years spent on trains and ships and once, only once, with a caravan of European circus performers, and pushed the heavy wrought iron gate open.

She gave a low whistle and the dog fell in beside her, a dog she’d never bothered to properly name but who had traveled with her since she was fourteen. He didn’t seem to have aged a day in nearly two decades.

Gravel and dried leaves crunched under her heavy boots. No need to make a quiet approach, she thought. They already knew she was coming. She’d been in this business too long to bother trying to sneak up on anyone or anything. It just wasn’t worth the time wasted.

She glanced down at the map she’d hastily sketched on her forearm. Her brother always kept his maps in a little black sketchbook, but she knew she was less likely to lose her arm once things got started. At least, that was her hope.

The darkness faded as they approached the mausoleum and the gas lamps that stood guard on either side of the iron-banded double doors. Maddie smiled to herself as first one, then the other lamp flickered and went out. Of course they did. Because that’s exactly what would be expected of them at this point in the action. Always good to lend tension to an already tense scene.

Maddie dug a torch out of her satchel and switched it on. It was a test of sorts and, whatever was there in the mausoleum would win when, a few seconds later, the bulb burnt out. “Gahh,” Maddie muttered. “The drama.”

The dog let out a deep growl and a branch snapped somewhere among the stones.

“You wanna go check it out?” Maddie asked the dog. “Or are you coming in with me?”

She didn’t wait for an answer.

The ancient padlock on the mausoleum doors fell to dust when she touched it. She paused there on the threshold for a moment to dig a Zippo out of her pocket. The lighter sparked and flickered before the flame caught. It would either be enough or she’d have to learn to see in the dark rather quickly. It was a skill she’d never managed to master.

The door opened easily, though not without a ridiculous squeal. If the others in the graveyard hadn’t known she was there, they certainly did now.

She looked down at the dog. He was on full-alert, the hair standing on end all along his spine. For the first time on this assignment, she hesitated and the hand not holding the Zippo went to the dagger at her waist.

The dog growled again as she stepped over the threshold. The flame of the Zippo flickered and went out.

And that is when the children began to laugh.

Happy October.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2011 in October 2011

 

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Too much October – October 28, 2011

When it comes down to these last few days of October, I try to look back and figure out which essential pieces of October I’ve missed. Which most obviously October themes have I skipped thus far? With time running out, which can I squeeze in before our November 1st deadline?

Today, the most glaring omission is baseball. I’ve been so caught up in soccer recently that I’ve neglected an old friend. After six full months of near-obsessive Timbers supporter behavior, the offseason has arrived and hit me full-on like a ton of bricks.

And who is here to welcome me back into the fold? The great American pastime, baseball.

Baseball and I have wrestled over the years. My first team was the California Angels, mostly because my little friend Paula had an Angels ball cap that she hardly ever took off that I coveted. I’m not proud of this, but it’s not the worst way to pick a team.

And then there were the Dodgers, served to me on a wave of Fernando Valenzuela’s popularity. I don’t know what it was like outside of southern California at the time, but it seemed to me, a fourth grader at most, that he was the very center of the universe.

When we came to Portland, baseball, a game I’d never followed too closely anyway, was set aside in favor of ice hockey. The local team, comprised mostly of handsome teenage Canadians with lovely accents, was a pretty big draw to the teenage me. I even got my own skates for Christmas one year, though they were figure skates and not the Bauer Turbos I’d wanted.

I outgrew my brief crush on hockey (and young Canadian hockey players) and, about ten years ago, went back to baseball. Portland fielded a AAA team in the Pacific Coast League then after decades of baseball turmoil. Tickets were cheap and easy to come by and my friend Bill and I spent many an evening in the club seats in 117 or in the 200 level on the third base line. Even if you’ve never considered yourself a baseball fan, you should find someone like Bill, and old school Chicago-style heckler, and go. Sometimes the heckling is even more fun than the game.

But Bill went back to Chicago a few years back and my beloved Beavers played their last game in Portland a little over a year ago. No more baseball for me.

Until this week. Until tonight.

I was out at a high school soccer match, cheering on my pseudo-niece when I chanced a glance at the Twitter timeline on my smartyphone.

Where only hours ago was a steady stream of MLS playoff analysis, there was now a screen filled with soccer supporters awed by the fact that they’d all been drawn into what will surely go down in the annals of baseball history as one of the most insane games ever played.

This is what baseball should be. This is October baseball.

Month after month of box scores and stats and games that seem to go on forever condensed into a final few innings. Or what should probably have been a final few innings but has now reached out and secured one more game.

One more game. The joy, the outrageous joy that rabid Cards fans feel today at being able to play one more game is something I can truly understand. It’s exactly how I feel about October.

Just give me a few more innings. Just give me one more day.

Go Cards.

Happy October.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2011 in October 2011

 

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Tradition – October 27, 2011

I inadvertently stumbled into an October tradition tonight. That’s what I get for not calling ahead.

There were small children and large knives involved. There were gooey piles of guts everywhere.

Happily, I managed to wrangle a bag of pumpkin seeds out of the deal which will get roasted sometime tomorrow with a little sea salt and maybe some cumin. Yum.

So, no. I didn’t wander into a human sacrifice. I wandered into pumpkin carving night.

Oh, poor, poor Jack of jack’o’lantern fame. Silly Jack sat down to have a drink with the Devil, but didn’t want to pay for it. Instead, he tricked the Devil into turning himself into a coin with which Jack was supposed to use to pay their tab. Alas, Jack did not. Jack simply slipped the devil-coin into his pocket with a silver cross to keep the Devil from returning to his true form.

Eventually, Jack turned him loose with the agreement that the Devil wouldn’t claim Jack’s soul for a year. This went on for several years and each time the Devil came to visit Jack, Jack would find a way to trick him and buy himself another year.

But the day came when Jack did die and when he arrived at the pearly gates, Heaven wouldn’t let him in. So, Jack went to call on his old friend the Devil. After years and years of being tricked by Jack, the Devil had decided that Jack’s soul probably would be even more trouble than Jack had ever been and refused him entrance into Hell. But, because they’d been friends so long, the Devil gave Jack a burning coal to light his way through the veiled afterlife.

Jack carved out a turnip and dropped the coal inside and there was the very first jack’o’lantern.

Yes, a turnip. And you think carving pumpkins is hard.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2011 in October 2011

 

And thus it continues – October 26, 2011

I sat with a group of people tonight who will not be named as they told stories of events which we will not cover here.

What could this possible have to do with October?

The best, the scariest stories, the ones that haunt us are those we hear face-to-face. They’re the ones that keep us up at night, that make us double check that our doors and windows are locked and that no one is hiding in the closet or behind the door.

And the scariest of these stories, especially at this time of year, are the ones against which such precautions may make no difference and certainly will offer no protection.

So, I offer you some other protections as I’ve learned them from pop culture and folklore and, very simply, things people have told me over the years. These things may or may not work. Use at your own peril.

If you’re aware of an impending zombie attack, you can sprinkle salt on the ground and the zombies will be so distracted by counting the grains of salt that you’ll be able to get away.

Just in general, lay a line of red brick dust across your doorstep to protect yourself from people wanting to enter our home to harm you. I understand certain types of chalk dust work the same, but as I haven’t tried either, I can’t tell you for sure.

Want to rid your surroundings of malevolent spirits? Burn white sage. But be sure it’s WHITE sage as other types of sage will encourage spirits to gather around and might even lend them strength.

Have a vampire problem? Well, there are several schools of thought on this and they’ve all been confused by the recent emergence of such things as the Twilight series and its sparkly vampires. Almost universally, it’s believed that sunlight will dispatch your vampire rather quickly. Unless you live in Forks, Washington, in which case you’re pretty much screwed unless you can find a band of werewolves to help you out. Vampires are also supposed to cower at the sight of a cross or crucifix. Oh, and if you’d hung ropes of garlic at your doors and windows, you wouldn’t have had a vampire problem to begin with.

The surest way to get rid of your vampire is to drive a stake through his heart. Some say ash is the wood of choice, some say yelm or yew is the way to go. I’m thinking if you get a stake of any sort through his heart and he doesn’t automatically burst into flame, you’d be wise to have a lighter handy.

Werewolves, if they’re not the sort to help you with your vampire infestation, can only be killed by a pure silver bullet.

I think that about covers the big stuff. If you’re not sure what sort of monster/mythical creature/supernatural being you’re dealing with, it’s best to consult a professional.

(However, since the changes made by Vatican II, there are few professionals trained in the rites of exorcism. Some of the scariest stuff I’ve ever read on the internet comes from a Google search for “Where can I find an exorcist in the US”. Truly, truly frightening stuff. Read it with the lights on.)

More tomorrow.

Happy October.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Here’s where it starts to get creepy – October 25, 2011

We touched on the creepiness of October a little when we talked about Sarah Winchester and her Mystery House and again when we talked about fog. There was a little bit in the Headless Horseman post, but not too much.

I hesitate to write the dark stuff, the creepy stuff, too early in October. October is not all about scaring each other. It’s not all monsters and ghosts, but we’re into the last week of the month, the week preceding Halloween.

Did the lights just dim in here? Was that just me?

I went to Kennedy School tonight for a bit. A little background for the out-of-towners: Kennedy is a hotel/pub/restaurant/bar/movie theater/brewery run by some folks I worked for a while back. I pulled a couple front desk shifts there back in the day and dragged many a tour through those halls to look at the cute pink tile on the floor of the brewery while we talked about how the school was not actually named for a president. I tell you this to say that I’ve been in and out of the building numerous times over the years and I’m pretty comfortable there.

Tonight was the first time it’s ever freaked me out.

During the time I worked for the McMenamins, the beer-brewing brothers behind Kennedy School, I spent a lot of time in buildings that are widely regarded as being haunted. Here’s my disclaimer: I’ve never personally seen anything supernatural happen in any of them. That said, I also refuse to deny anyone else’s experiences with whatever’s lurking in said buildings. Stuff happens. Ask to see the journal at the front desk at the Grand Lodge; it’ll give you goose bumps. There are hundreds of stories about stuff happening at Edgefield, perhaps as many at Hotel Oregon. Even some of the smaller pubs in the company (St. John’s, the White Eagle, Thompson) have ghost stories.

But Kennedy? Not one. It was an elementary school. It was farmland before that. There’s just nothing in the history – “real” documented history or the oral histories passed on to us by neighbors and former students and teachers – that would suggest any sort of…activity.

But if tonight had been the first time I’d ever set foot over the threshold there, I wouldn’t have believed it.

I came in through the doors by the Cypress Room and headed up the east/west hallway toward the front desk. By the time the door closed behind me, I felt like something was just off. I walked a little faster than I normally would. It was cold and too quiet and by the time I made it to the end of the hall, I was sorely tempted to walk right out the front doors and go home.

But I stayed and whatever that feeling was, it went away while I was in the theater. Perhaps whatever sense it was that picked up that weird vibe was dulled by a pint of Rubinater. Hard to tell.

So, this week we’ll tell ghost stories and monster stories and see if we can’t scare each other a bit. But please, I beg you, try not to scare me too much: I’ll be spending much of my Halloween evening in a graveyard. Because Halloween wasn’t quite creepy enough.

Happy haunting…

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in October 2011

 

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