Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Emma Crawford Coffin Races 2013 Video

Here's a great video from Fest 300 giving some background for the coffin races and featuring highlights from the 2013 races.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hit the road, Jack

Here's my abortive first sculptural jack of the year, and maybe the last. The rind wasn't thick enough to bother finishing it. ):

Monday, October 28, 2013

Boris Karloff's Thriller: Pigeons From Hell

Dogged by critical derision and in danger of cancellation from abysmal ratings, the producers of Boris Karloff's Thriller began to ease their big-budget Hitchcock copycat finally into the realm of the gothic horror more befitting the Karloff name. Probably the best-remembered of these mini-horror-movies was the curiously-titled Pigeons from Hell, an adaptation of Robert E. Howard's supernatural whodunit of the same name. The episode has the look of Universal's stock-and-trade horror classics, even featuring the Universal Mansion (seen in many a horror film), dressed up to look like an overgrown plantation. It's uncommonly atmospheric and cinematic for the television medium and well deserves it's reputation as one of the most chilling hours in '60s TV.

Two college-student brothers, Johnny and Timothy, find themselves stranded by car-trouble in a dark swamp in front of (typically enough) an ominous, and apparently uninhabited, decaying manor. The gloomy estate seems to be infested with unusually aggressive pigeons and the almost hypnotic chorus of their trills. Inside the house, the boys find only cobwebs, shadows and the remnants of a hastily-vacated household, including the haunting portrait of a woman. The brothers decide they might as well put down their bedrolls and sleep there until morning when they can find help. But Johnny is awakened in the middle of the night by a strangely mesmerizing singing voice in the darkness. Under the spell of the unseen siren, he mounts the stairs into the shadows and after a moment his blood-curdling scream shatters the silence. Timothy wakes in a start to find his brother walking back down the steps, wielding a bloody hatchet. Tim realizes Johnny is one of the walking dead, his head split by the very hatchet clutched in his hand.  Further, his zombified brother seems intent on burying the hatchet in Timothy's skull, too.

Fleeing the mansion in terror, Timothy soon collapses from exhaustion and is wakened in a shack by the local sheriff, to whom he vainly struggles to describe the mysterious events at the old house. The sheriff suspects Timothy has murdered his own brother and convinces the young man to return there with him to investigate. After the two experience unusual phenomenon in the house, the lawman is forced to reconsider his theory, explaining to Tim that it used to be inhabited by the cruel Blassenville sisters, who abandoned the mansion without a word fifty years earlier. The intrigue deepens when they come upon an old diary written by one of the sisters, hinting that the apparently ill-fated women never made it off the premises. The diary mentions an old black hermit, named Jacob Blount, who was once a servant of the abusive sisters. It's decided that they should pay Blount a visit at his remote shack, and there get to the truth behind the terrible secret of the Blassenville house and the pigeons from hell. 9/10

Trivia: Actor Brandon De Wilde, who played Timothy in Pigeons from Hell, is most famous for his role as the little boy Joey in the classic Western Shane. He also appeared with Vincent Price in an episode of Rod Serling's Night Gallery called "Class of '99".  It would be one of his last roles. In 1972 De Wilde died in a car accident in Denver, Colorado at the age of 30.

Trivia: Pigeons writer Robert E. Howard was the famous creator of the Conan the Barbarian series of stories, as well as Solomon Caine. He is credited with originating the Sword and Sorcery genre. Howard committed suicide in 1936 at the age of 30.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Emma Crawford Coffin Races (part 1)

(no, this is not a picture of me. there are no pictures of me)

Okay, that could have gone better for me. I forgot my shades in my car. I forgot to recharge my actual camera before I left, forcing me to take most of the pictures with my phone. It was the most crowded day in the Coffin Races' 19 years. I may have been the only person, out of 8,000+ attendees, who was there by himself. And my heart just wasn't in it. On the plus side, the weather was nice, the PA was loud and clear (the Halloween music really boosted the event) and nothing of an actual disastrous nature took place. But, jeez, it was crowded. Just like the last time I went, I fled town when the actual races had barely gotten underway.

Anyway, it's the parade that gives you the real photo-ops. The coffin race teams all file past the crowd with their "coffins", which are actually carts with one passenger, intended to represent Emma Crawford in her coffin (it's a long story). Unfortunately, it's hard to get good pictures even during the parade due to people walking in front of your camera, team members looking in the other direction (a lot of those, as I found when I actually got home and went through the pictures), less than optimal lighting and whatever you call that phenomenon whereby subjects that look like they'll make great photographs somehow don't.

This was a nice concept, The Yellow Submarine, Paul, Ringo and a grim reaper carrying the tombstones of John and George. Seems a hair less macabre than the average team but whatever. Let It Be. At one point, the PA was playing Maxwells Silver Hammer, with a lot of the hippie crowd singing along.

Normally the hearses are the main part of the parade but the hearse clubs were all on strike for some reason. The scab hearses get an A for effort but there weren't many of them.

If there were a dozen of me with cameras I couldn't have captured a tenth of the interesting things at the parade. It's worth doing an internet picture search for. I'll do one more post with my pics from this year but, until then, why not peruse my vastly superior 2009 Coffin Race (parade) pictures:

Hearse Looking At You, Kid

Off-ed to the Races

More Coffin Races Pictures

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Huzzah! First Jack-o-lantern!

Yeah. Actually, not. I happened to notice this $6 pumpkin was soft, even though it looked okay on the outside. It suddenly collapsed on itself when I picked it up to remove it from the house, spurting the fermenting brew within from it's new mouth. Fortunately, it spewed in the other direction, so I just got a little of it on my stocking foot. The smell: pure alcohol.

So party down, neighborhood squirrels!