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My Halloween Costume

Halloween 2014 is rapidly approaching, and this year I think it’s time I did the logical thing and cosplay as someone I actually look like…

…yes, I’m going to do my rendition of Kevin Smith as Silent Bob. Specifically, Silent Bob from Mallrats. I have the coat, shoes, shorts and shirt. I need a black baseball cap, which should be easy, and I think I’ll try to find a Batman gun just for the fun of having it as a prop so people will know which movie I’m cosplaying.

mallrats3

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Personal

 

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Why I love Hellraiser

A friend of mine recently rekindled my love of Hellraiser, Clive Barker’s most well known creation. We’re still three years shy of the thirtieth anniversary, and there’s a remake in the works that Barker himself is involved in, but I just wanted to mention my absolute love for this film and its sequel, Hellraiser II, and explain what it is that makes me love this.

To be clear, I’m going to really only be talking about the original Hellraiser movie, not the sequels and not The Hellbound Heart, which was the inspiration for the movie.

tumblr_mvahpt50lh1skv9lqo1_500Hellraiser is, in many ways, the perfect 80s horror movie. It has sex, monsters with personality, a young girl as the hero, and plenty of disturbing imagery. The 80s were, as I’ve mentioned before, a great era for horror films. There were so many new and original story ideas, and the Cenobites of Hellraiser were among the most original. They are neither evil nor good, but are “Explorers… in the further regions of experience. Demons to some, angels to others.” It’s no mistake that their outfits are clearly inspired by BDSM fetishwear. There is a completely sexual tone to their torments, the idea that when you go far enough, pain and pleasure are the same thing. And that is the best part of the Cenobites – they get into your head and mess with all the little gears and levers you’d rather no one knew about.

However, while I could probably write a book on how awesome the Cenobites are (and Pinhead in particular, or “Lead Cenobite” as he’s known in the movie’s credits), I want to talk instead about the real villain of the movie, Uncle Frank. Frank Cotton is literally the definition of a slimeball. Brother to Larry, he seduced and had sex with Larry’s fiance, Julia, the night before her wedding on top of her wedding dress! Now I’m not excusing Julia here, she is clearly also evil, but it’s at least implied that Frank came on very strongly and was at least a little bit threatening to her, going so far as to cut her chamois with his switchblade. Frank is, in fact, an incredibly selfish hedonist. He sought out the puzzle box because he had reached the limits of experience of earthly pleasures. Think about that for a second, and all the nasty, disgusting things Frank must have done before finally reaching the box.

Frank’s resurrection, facilitated by the blood of his brother, is one of the most disturbing movie scenes ever shot. Frank is left as monstrous on the outside as on the inside. There’s really no boundaries to his evil – he gets Julia to kill men for him, he even gets her to help kill Larry so he can have Larry’s skin, and he even tries to sexually assault Kirsty, his own niece (while pretending to be her dad!). He doesn’t even really care when he kills Julia, but then he never saw her as much more than a useful tool anyway.

Meanwhile, the average moviegoer is hiding their eyes when the Cenobites show up. While I can’t quite classify them as the heroes here – they do after all try to take Kirsty back to hell with them even after she made good on her part of the deal to get Frank back for them – they are still definitely not the villains. That’s Frank and Julia. That’s what I love about this film, the supposed bad guys, the scary folks in black leather with chains and blades, and the ones who ultimately save Kirsty from Frank and Julia. It’s an interesting look at how what you consider to be evil may not be, and it may not be anything you even understand at all.

It’s that Lovecraftian twist of the Cenobites, the way they simply can’t be comprehended by those who are not like them, and their desire to make more people like them, that appeals to me. There seems to be more to them, a layer under the surface, as if there are many dark secrets hidden within them that the movie only brushes against. What else does Pinhead know? What has he seen? What can he really do? These are left unanswered, even in the second film, and it’s my opinion they went too far in explaining Pinhead and the Cenobites in the horrible sequels that followed. Not knowing who they are, what they are about…that’s what makes the Cenobites so effective.They are a secret, a riddle, a…puzzle…

And we all know what happens when you go solving puzzles…

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2014 in Opinions, Personal, Scary Stuff

 

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The Blue Rose 033 – The Dugout

My high school, like most in the American Midwest, revolved around the seasons; not fall, winter, and spring, but rather football, basketball, and baseball. The high school sat on a plot of land donated to the school district, about three miles outside of town, one two low, flat hills. There was the football field beside the main building, a practice field behind that, and a baseball diamond built into the small valley between the hills. A practice baseball diamond, along with a fishing pond and a cross country track that literally ran through a forest across country, was located on the far back hilltop. The main football field and the baseball diamond were kept clean and well maintained – they were big money makers for the school, and both school funds and booster contributions kept them in perfect working condition.

The practice fields, however, were only given cursory cleanings and maintenance. The practice football field got a good rolling once a year, usually just before school started, and lines were marked off only once. The baseball practice field was maintained by the players themselves, who would sweep for rocks and mark the base lines with cans of white spray paint. The bases were shapeless canvas bags, covered in sewn up scars, that were kept in a locked shed near the field. The only permanent structures on the baseball practice field were the chain-link backstop and the two dugouts, which were little more than lean-tos with benches bolted into concrete bases. They often collected trash and dead leaves, and the groundskeepers only rarely blew out the detritus with their large leaf blowers.

Because the practice field sat at a higher elevation than the school itself, it was a perfect place for kids to sneak off to if they wanted to sneak a smoke or make out during school hours. There were well known hidden paths near the edge of the building where kids could stealthily slip away through the woods and up the hill to the upper field. The school administrators weren’t blind or stupid; they would send teachers to do quick sweeps during lunch time to catch any students on the hill, but the kids also knew that so long as there was a lookout, they would have plenty of warning that a teacher was headed up the gravel path to the practice field. After school, students were allowed to hang out on the hill all they wanted until six or seven o’clock, when the school was officially closed and all practices were over.

There were, as you would expect, two dugouts for the practice field. The one closest to the school, the home team dugout, faced roughly northward while the other, the visitor’s dugout, faced eastward. This meant the visitor’s dugout got very dark very quickly, especially in the fall when classes were just starting. Normally a dark, secluded place like that would be perfect for teenage groping sessions, but most kids left that dugout alone and congregated in the other or near the small set of bleachers that had been set up behind the backstop so people could watch the practices. Even during practice games, the team assigned to the visitor’s dugout would usually mill about or just barely stay within the dark enclosure.

One of my best friends was one the baseball team, and during our senior year I hung out a lot with him at the practice field. I didn’t have much else to do, and in the fall there were no scheduled practices, so it was just him testing his swing, or sometimes grabbing a pick-up game with some of the other kids after school. He’d been on the team for all four years, and one day while we were sitting in the bleachers doing homework, I asked him why no one liked the visitor’s dugout. I figured it must smell bad or maybe the bench was all punky and ready to collapse. A strange look crossed his face. “You mean you don’t know?” he asked. I shook my head.

He proceeded to tell me the tale of the visitor’s dugout, which I will relate to you. I want to be fair here – this was a story passed from student to student, and was nearly twenty years old when I first heard it, so there’s every possibility that the facts were distorted. I looked at our local library to corroborate some of the story, but never found anything. Then again, maybe I wouldn’t have, if the story is to be believed.

The story begins in 1971, about ten years after the school was first built. Back then, there was no fancy baseball diamond down in the valley, and the practice field was the only baseball field on school grounds. There had been, my friend claimed, larger bleachers and a concession stand back then, which had later been moved to the football field to serve as the visitor’s stands when the new diamond was built in the early 80s. The dugouts were about the same, though much cleaner and nicer. They were still the destination for high school lovebirds wanting to neck during school hours.

One particular set of lovebirds was Henry and Mable. Henry was eighteen, held back a year for poor grades, the son of a pig farmer and something of a troublemaker in town. Mable was thirteen, a freshman, and daughter of a sheriff’s deputy. Besides the obvious age difference, Henry and Mable also were from two very different worlds. He was a farm boy, she was a town girl. He liked to work on cars and race them on the back country roads, she was straight-A student and member of the student council. Something brought them together, though, and while they tried to keep their romance a secret, most of the kids in school apparently knew about it. They would sneak off to the baseball diamond almost every afternoon, and rumors started to float through the halls that they did a lot more than just make out in the visitor’s dugout. Someone claimed they found a used rubber up there after Henry and Mable had had a heavy petting session, and the news raced like wildfire through the school.

That’s when Mable’s father was made aware that his daughter was maybe doing something she shouldn’t with an eighteen year old boy. The deputy was called into the school by the vice principal, informed of the rumors, and then took his daughter home for the day to have a talk with her. She didn’t return to school for two weeks, at which point she returned with her left arm in a sling and the shadow of a rapidly fading bruise over her left eye. However, by then, far worse had happened to Henry.

The legend goes that the deputy took his daughter home that day, left her with her mother, and then returned to the school to have words with Henry. Word had reached the your lover that his girlfriend’s father was on his way to play a two-fisted melody on his face and it would be a good idea to be somewhere else. The only problem was, Henry hadn’t driven to school that day. His Mustang was in his dad’s barn, the engine pulled out waiting for Henry to make more modifications. He had ridden the bus to school and planned to ride it home, but he needed to hide out for a while until he could hopefully slip past the angry deputy and get safely home. It probably would have worked had Mable not spilled her guts out to her angry father on the drive home. The deputy knew exactly where to find the cowering Casanova.

The deputy found Henry at the visitor’s dugout. Maybe things wouldn’t have gotten out of hand if the deputy hadn’t made Henry empty his pockets, revealing a wrinkled condom wrapper. Maybe Henry could have talked his way out of it had he been a little smarter, or if the couple hadn’t been hiding their relationship so long, or if his hand hadn’t lingered too long on the large pocket knife he also had in his pocket. He tossed it aside, but the deputy had clearly read the simple equation Henry had run through his mind, and the red rage that filled his face exploded into violence. The deputy rushed Henry, grabbed the boy by the throat and began to beat his face in. Henry wasn’t a small young man by any account, but he was so stunned, so scared that the angry father was going to pull out his gun and shoot, that he just stood there for a moment taking the assault without uttering a word.

By the time Henry’s primal self-protection instincts kicked in, it was too late. The deputy slammed his head down against the edge of the bench and something inside the boy’s skull crunched sickly, like the sound of graham crackers breaking. He went limp as a rag doll, but it was several minutes more before the deputy realized the boy was dead. The red haze of rage fading from his eyes, Mable’s father was shocked to see the blood trickling from Henry’s nose, ears, and mouth. Knowing he’d just committed murder, the deputy quickly grabbed the discarded knife, carefully opened it without leaving finger prints, and pressed it into Henry’s hand. Then he withdrew his service pistol, thumbed back the trigger, and squeezed two rounds into the dead boy’s head, turning all evidence of the beating into little more than ground hamburger.

When school officials rushed out to see what happened, the deputy, shaken by what he’d done but having had time to rehearse his performance, claimed that Henry rushed at him with a knife drawn. He had killed the boy in self-defense, and his overall demeanor of regret was etched perfectly into his face. There’s no way to know, but I like to think that he really did regret killing the boy, and so perhaps it wasn’t all an act. Henry was buried three days later. Mable’s father wasn’t even investigated for the shooting, but he and his wife eventually moved away after Mable graduated.

Now, a story about the tragic slaying of a young man would already stigmatize the dugout, but it’s what started happening afterwards that made people avoid it. It seemed that Henry didn’t exactly know he was dead, and his spirit remained in the dugout, appearing as a bloody, raw-headed specter whenever two teenage lovers decided to use the secluded dugout for a tryst. He first appeared five years after his murder, by which point the story of Henry and Mable had passed into the sort of legend all schools harbor, shared from classmate to classmate in hushed whispers. When the ghost showed up, people began to believe the story was true.

The legend itself, I later learned, had different versions, including one where it was a jealous boyfriend of Mable who discovered she and Henry were having an affair and killed the boy, or perhaps it was the female teacher who had fallen in love with Henry and couldn’t live without him, so she killed him in the dugout after learning he favored Mable over her. In any case, the consistent factor in all the stories was that Henry had been killed in the dugout and his spirit continued to haunt it.

After my friend told me this story, I sat many afternoons watching the dugout, wondering if I could catch a glimpse of Henry’s ghost. I never did see him, but I did witness more than a few new students deciding the visitor’s dugout was a good place to hang out, only to leave soon afterward with pale looks and shivering shoulders. Eventually, a few years after I graduated, the school tore down the practice field, completely leveled it and built a brand new, much nicer field on top of it, with dugouts on completely different sides. I have to wonder if any kids who play first base, which is situated about where the old dugout had been, have ever had Henry stop by and say hello.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2014 in Scary Stuff, Story, Writing

 

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Hours and hours of thunderstorms

I find the sounds of rain and thunderstorms to be very, very soothing. I’m not alone in that; there are a number of thunderstorm CDs and sound machines for sale on Amazon (oh ConAir, is there any cheap electronic you don’t make?). But why pay for anything when you have the internet?

I’ve found that there’s a surprising number of thunderstorm sound loops on Youtube. I used these during work to block out my co-workers talking around me, but they would make good sleepy time streams as well, if you feel like either running through your phone’s data plan or putting your laptop or tablet beside your bed every night.

Here’s my current favorite, 11 hours of thunderstorms.

There’s even a whole channel set up for these, RainbirdHD, which has tons of HD loops of rain and thunder in chunks from an hour to eight hours in length. There’s even crackling fires and winter snow storms if your ambient sound needs run a little counter to the norm. My only complaint is that the image is static – it would be nice to be able to full screen the video and have lightning strikes or a fireplace image. Oh well, you can’t have everything

Here’s four hours of crackling fireplace sounds:

 

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2014 in External News

 

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A tale of two vampires – a Buffyverse hypothesis

Recently I’ve been rewatching Joss Whedon’s amazing Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel series, and I’ve hit upon something strange when it comes to the vampires in the series. There are a number of “named” vampires throughout the series, but the five with the most screen time are Angel, Spike, Drusilla, Darla, and Harmony. We also get to see in two episodes what Willow would be like as a vampire, which is significant to my hypothesis.

What I noticed was that some vampires, such as Angel and Darla, have completely different personalities as vampires than they do as humans. Angel is the most clear cut of this seemingly split personality; when cursed with a soul he is Angel, a warm, loving, courageous man. When his soul is lost he becomes Angelus, a murderous, twisted embodiment of evil. He literally shares almost no characteristics whatsoever with his “human” side. Granted that both Angel and Angelus are somewhat different than his original incarnation as a human, but that can be explained as time and experience. However, everyone in the two shows even treats Angel and Angelus as two completely different personalities, and in the later Angel episodes it seems that’s entirely the case.

Compare this with Spike. Spike did change when he became a vampire, going from a foppish poet to the action craving bad boy we meet at the start of Season Two of BtVS, but this is most likely from being released from his mortal responsibilities. In many ways he remains very similar to his human self. He falls madly in love with his sire, Drusilla, and becomes her devoted warrior-poet. When they finally split up, Spike professes true feelings for Drusilla and goes out of his way to get her back. Angelus, on the other hand, is a complete sociopath who doesn’t really care about anyone other than himself, not even his allies and lovers. When Spike eventually gets his soul back, he doesn’t change very much, and in fact only gains a moral compass that he was previously missing, doing things for the sake of good instead of just to impress Buffy, but he was already headed that way before he got his soul back. Spike really doesn’t change much at all, soul or no soul, so what gives?

Let’s look at Darla for a moment; Angel’s sire, she in turn is a child of The Master. As a human she was a somewhat vapid woman, but as a vampire she becomes a strong, evil force, much like Angelus. She fits in perfectly with the rest of the Master’s brood, especially Luke, the Master’s muscle bound lapdog. She is purely evil, using her looks to lure in men and feed upon them. She’s evil and manipulative and completely different than she was as a human.

How about vampire Willow? She was also a child of the Master in the alternative universe where Buffy didn’t come to Sunnydale. She is just a sociopathic as Angelus. She’s an unrepentant evil, and while Dark Willow of Season Six shares some definite similarities, there are differences. Most importantly, Dark Willow was driven by rage and grief, while vampire Willow is simply evil to the core. There is no piece of the Willow we know in the vampire version, while Dark Willow still maintains her humanity, perhaps too much so.

Then there’s Harmony, who is so unchanged from her human self as to be nearly indistinguishable. There’s literally almost no vampire nastiness in Harmony.

What’s the difference? Why are Darla and vampire Willow and Angel all so evil bastards and Spike and Harmony are relatively human? The answer, I believe is Drusilla.

Drusilla was, by all accounts, a young woman possessed of a psychic gift. Her power was particularly strong, and Angelus decided he wanted to see what would happen if he broke her mind and then made her a vampire. He tortured her, killed her family one by one, and generally drove her insane, though her visions had made that a comparatively short trip. In the end, she wound up as a completely insane vampire, and I believe it’s because of her psychic abilities that he bloodline became somewhat corrupted. Spike, her first creation, is a vampire who has not entirely lost his soul. He certainly may have some of the vampire, but there’s a temperance of humanity there, though not one that will show up until forced to the surface by the Initiative’s behavior chip. Harmony’s sire is some random vampire at the end of season three, but it’s entirely likely that this vampire was a creation of Spike or Drusilla from season two.

So perhaps Angelus’s little experiment created a new kind of vampire, one that didn’t entirely lose its soul during creation. The soul remains as an echo, stronger the further the bloodline gets from Angelus himself and the true vampire state. This also implies that Angelus truly is a completely different personality, while Spike is simply a human whose morality has been untethered from its compass.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2014 in Opinions, Personal, Theories

 

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13 Tips for Surviving a Night in a Cabin in the Woods

Check out I09.com’s 13 tips for surviving a night in a cabin in the woods. Spot on for how to survive.

Not pictured - malevolent supernatural predator waiting in the cellar

Not pictured – malevolent supernatural predator waiting in the cellar

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2014 in External News, Humor, Scary Stuff

 

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A very strange night

I didn’t sleep well last night. That’s an understatement. Let me explain a couple of things…

When I was very little I had terrible nightmares. I don’t remember too much about it, but had my mother really understood it she probably should have taken me to a specialist for night terrors. I would routinely wake up in the middle of the night with terrible nightmares that would just return as soon as I closed my eyes and went back to sleep. These nightmares could be of anything…one of them had Shaggy from Scooby Doo chasing me with a knife. In another, the Thing from the Fantastic Four was climbing up the side of the house with glowing green eyes and was going to eat me when he broke through the window. These nightmares happened a lot, and I know there were more, but I don’t remember them any more. Those two I still recall, but only barely.

Things changed in 1984. Like most ten year old boys, I was a huge fan of Voltron. There was no monster the giant robot couldn’t kill with its blazing sword. So, despite not knowing I was doing it, I started what was essentially lucid dreaming – controlling my dreams consciously. Well, sort of. I couldn’t control the content of the nightmares, but I could stop them after they began. I would simply imagine Voltron appearing, forming his blazing sword, and cutting the monster in an X pattern. I know this sounds silly, but this is actually an actual form of dream therapy. Not the Voltron thing, but taking control of the dreams, making the conscious mind put the subconscious on a leash. For some people it might be angels or Jesus or Batman or whatever. For me it was Voltron. It doesn’t matter what the dream totem is, just so long as your mind can conceive of it defeating your nightmares.

The night terrors ended after I learned this trick. They still happened from time to time, but the Voltron trick always worked. Eventually I didn’t have to consciously visualize it (which usually happened after a nightmare had woken me up), it just happened in the dreams. For most of my adult life I haven’t had nightmares because of this.

Last night was…different.

I went to bed around midnight, mostly thinking about work and a party coming up this weekend. There had been thunderstorms in the area, usually a very good atmosphere for me to sleep. I fell asleep after working through some of a story I’ve been working on in my head, something I usually do before bed. The story is a sci-fi epic, not a horror story, so there was no reason for it to disturb by dreams.

Around 1:30 AM I woke up convinced something was in my room. Specifically something was crawling on the wall to the left of my bed. It was black, and I’m pretty sure it was human-ish in appearance, but smaller, maybe two or three feet long. When I say it was human, what I mean is it hand four appendages and a head. While it didn’t look like an insect or spider, it acted like one and scurried along the wall toward the floor. I couldn’t make out details because I didn’t have my glasses on. I must repeat – I saw this when I woke up, not while I was sleeping!

I jumped out of bed, didn’t even bother to grab my glasses, and flipped on the main room light. There was nothing on the wall. I grabbed my glasses and turned on the nightstand light. Nothing there. No monster, no sense that something was in the room. It was just a nightmare. I sighed, turned off the main room light and got back in bed. But I was so shaken I left the nightstand light on. I took off my glasses and went to bed with the light shining bright.

At about 4 AM I woke up again. This time I was convinced something was at the end of the bed, and I saw, clearly saw, what looked like a rake held up at the end of the bed. I grabbed my glasses in a hurry, looked over, but it was just the floor lamp. There was nothing there. I took off my glasses and realized that I couldn’t see the top of the lamp without them and so it kind of looked like a rake standing there. I put my glasses back on, realized I badly needed to urinate, and went to the bathroom to take care of my business. The storms had passed and it was quiet and peaceful in the house. My cat didn’t even stir to greet me.

I went back to bed, chiding myself on being silly. I took off my glasses and decided that I didn’t need the light on. I turned it off and went back to sleep. It wasn’t until I woke up for work this morning that I realized these dreams, these hallucinations if you will, weren’t dealt with by my old pal Voltron. Normally nightmares, even to this day, end up being slashed apart by the mighty robot’s sword, but not these. That defense mechanism didn’t even trigger.

I’m not worried that my apartment is haunted. I’ve thought that before, but I’ve had many sensitive friends tell me there’s nothing there. I wonder if perhaps this is just my subconscious finally pushing back after years and years of being chained up. I don’t know, but while I’m dead tired today, I don’t really feel like going to sleep.

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2014 in Personal, Scary Stuff, Story

 

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