Thursday, October 28, 2004

Halloween Horrors

My computer crashed for the second time this year, and this time I'm going to need to ship it in to the folks at Dell hoping this time they'll honor my 2 year, paid, warranty. The first time I tried to make use of this, they said that my account was on hold due to "suspicious activity" on my account from over a year ago. Weird stuff... since it took them a few days to look into that, I ended up bringing my computer into a local computer tech, thus potentially killing my warranty... we'll see.

And it couldn't have happened at a worse time. Earlier today I was hired to put together a blog for a guy... which I can't do without some of the programs on my dead computer. Ugh. And even if the computer IS fixed, there's a good chance it will come back to me clean - with all the contents of my hard drive wiped away. (and yes, I'm one of those idiots who doesn't back stuff up).

To be honest, I blame it on the Bambino. The curse has rubbed off of the Red Sox, and been passed on to me. Then again, maybe it has something to do with the eclipse... which I couldn't see, because its been overcast and pouring out in Los Angeles (see, something is up).

Anyway, posting will be light for a while.

In the meantime, I rented "Star Wars Battlefront" for the PS2, which might be the greatest game ever made. Speaking of, I'm off to blast some Gungans and Ewoks...

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Offline Adventures en Espanol

Someone in Argentina just translated my blog. Muy Bien!

Yo Estoy El Unsomnambulisto.

Costume Ideas!

Because I'm uninspired to write anything tonite, here's my top four suggestions for Halloween costumes:

Sparky, the Abu Ghraib prisoner! (thanks to Sierra Whiskey for the suggestion)

Spong Monkeys... perfect especially if you're heading to a Halloween party where karaoke madness is happening(they have a pepper bar...)

Lyndie England!
Lyndie England... the perfect date for Sparky, or for any girl who wants to be a dominatrix but doesn't want to spend the money on a leather outfit.

And my personal favorite:
The Dermatophyte! Great excuse for guys who want to get on the floor and peel back toenails.

...A Small Victory has also been spending the season with Halloween topics - heres a good one about telling ghost stories... read the Grave Sights Hearse Club's History of the Hearse... This week The Midnight Mailman Show is all about fun, learning, and raising the dead...

Monday, October 25, 2004

A Grave Error

Wherein my mom tries to make contact from the afterlife.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Oct. 23, 2004In an effort to get into the Halloween mood, Claire and I headed to an outdoor screening of Rosemary's Baby Saturday night at the Hollywood Forever Cemetary. Nothing cooler than seeing a movie at a graveyard surrounded by dead movie stars and producers, as the film is projected onto the side of a mausoleum, the ground is moist and moosy, and right next to us is the final resting place of Douglas Fairbanks. A non-profit group called Cinespia has been putting on these screenings twice a month since April, and this was the final night of their 2004 season.

On the way out, Claire and I realized a few things. For one, this is the second year in a row we've been in a graveyard after dark on an October night (last year, at around 3am, we snuck into the Salem, MA cemetery where all the witches are buried). Secondly, this is the graveyard we want to be buried in - besides the film screenings, they even hold plays, birthday parties, and weddings there. And more importantly, Claire helped me put together the pieces of how my Mom tried to get in touch with us AFTER she died...

Claire picnicking at the graveyard before duskIn the week before my mom died, my brother Jimmy, sisters Patty Jo and Allison and I went to set up funeral services in advance, pick out a coffin, and in short make final arrangements. One of the details left to me was to pick an actual gravesite, and the cemetery coordinator showed me a gorgeous spot under a great oak tree on a slight hill, near a crossroads in the graveyard. When I returned to visit my mom at hospice, I was excited to tell her I couldn't have handpicked a more perfect spot. She was so happy that later that night she woofed down a couple chili dogs from Tony Packos. (actually, I don't think she cared too much about the grave, but she was quite contented with the chili dogs).

A couple days later, my mom passed away, an on that same day I received a phone call from the cemetery coordinator to tell me he'd made a mistake - the plot I'd picked for my mother had already been reserved for somebody else, and he'd only learned this when he saw that someone was being buried there.

I'd call it a "grave error". (ha, ha... yeahhhh.)

Two days later was my mom's funeral. While everything else went according to plan, including playing Elvis gospel tunes at the viewing, I had a small pit in my stomach knowing that she wasn't going to be buried in the gorgeous plot that I'd told her about before she died. The funeral procession moved on to the church for the service, and on the way out our cousin Bobby, a pall bearer, tripped and nearly spilled the coffin. Everyone giggled, knowing that if our mom were still alive, she'd have laughed at the moment the loudest.

Finally, everyone ended up at the graveside at a plot far less glamorous than the one I had hoped for and bragged about. I told myself that she'll never know the difference, because if there is an afterlife, I bet she's in a much better place than a graveyard in Toledo, Ohio. Of course, as the priest was saying one last prayer, in the midst of a private moment, a ringing cel phone disturbed the peace. My mom's best friend, Pat Sahadi, looked confused as she fumbled for the phone in her purse to turn it off before the service could wrap up.

At the wake afterwards, she said that she didn't know who it was - the caller ID said the number was unknown, she'd only gotten the phone a few days earlier and the only people who had the number were at the service. The joke, of course, was that it was my mom, likely calling to laugh at everyone freezing their asses off in the January chill.

I now know better. She was calling to complain that her grave was moved.

Nickerblog writes about celebrating the Halloween season California style at Mr. Bone's Pumpkin Patch... there's a recipe for Pumpkin Bread at the Vegeterian Recipes blog... and I found another mention of "How To Vote" by Freeker at California Dreaming...

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Busblog Birthday

My weekend began on a very unscary note as I crashed Tony Pierce's birthday party.

Very cool to meet my favorite blogger - I'm sure similar in some ways to meeting a favorite author. But, Mr. Pierce is too down to earth and humble to make anyone feel less than comfortable in his presence. I was able to meet Karisa and some of the other "characters" in his blog, and all I can say is that his motto "nothing in here is true" is, quite simply, false.

One wall of his pad is lined with "XBI Helicopter Pilot of the Month" certificates, a framed tennis racket with matching panties signed, "To Tony, With All My Love, Anna", and photos from his wedding with Moxie. The girl to guy ratio at his party was extraordinarily high, and anyone who peeked into his bathroom would have easily mistaken his bed with Prince's, with lit candles all over the place and three (count them, THREE) gorgeous lesbians making out on his double wide king sized bed. I have a girlfriend, so I couldn't pay attention to such things, so instead I chatted with John Woo about "The Goonies", Karisa about the Red Sox, Karisa's boyfriend about "How To Vote", and with everyone else about how fine Tony is (it was his birthday, and I just met the guy, so how was I to argue?).

Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging...

Someone named The Mighty Yog says to watch "How To Vote"...wanna read something really scary? Try a blog written from the inside of a prison by the Corrections Officer Mom... and while I'm trying to keep my political comments to a minimum here, I'm still contributing to the Edge of Allegiance blog.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Ghost of Halloween S'Carols

How To Make The Ultimate Halloween Mix, Part 2

With your Halloween songs chosen, and pared down to enough to make a reasonably lengthed CD (or tape, old man) you only need to...

4. Choose the order of the songs. I always think it best to start with something short that screams Halloween... sometimes even clips from horror movie themes, or Toccata & Fugue... or even use "Trick or Treat" which I've offered for download below. If you read Nick Hornby, most of his rules on how to make a mix tape certainly apply...
The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don't wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.
But really, you just want flow... don't just simply go from the loud, heavy metal tunes to slow instrumentals. Its much better to have a little ebb and flow between chunks of songs. But don't worry too much - Halloween mixes are few and far between, so for the moment, your friends will love anything they get that doesn't have "Monster Mash" on it.

With that, you should be pretty much done... but here's some more ideas that I'll call "advanced tips"...

5. Spice up the CD by adding sound effects between a few songs. Short clips of clock towers ringing midnight, witches cackling, chains rattling, wolves howling, and so on are always a cool addition. If you can get ahold of the old Disney's "Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House" albums on CD, all the better - some of the tracks are mini stories, and cheesy as hell, but these instantly remind the listeners of their own childhood Halloweens.

6. If you have space on your CD, fill it with a secret, unlisted track. "Old Time Radio" shows about ghosts are a great choice, as are renditions of "The Raven" by Christopher Walken, James Earl Jones, or Dave Matthews. I only mention these because they're readily found on file sharing sites.

Finally, I should mention that with any holiday themed CD, its best to start weeks before the actual holiday to allow for time to get it all together, then copy and distribute to friends while allowing some time to enjoy before the actual day but... too late for that. Since I listen to Halloween songs year round, it doesn't make a difference to me.

Following are a few more S'Carols to help get you going (and if you end up with some awesome songs that I haven't mentioned, please let me know.)
Halloween, Heywood Banks... a perfect Halloween S'Carol, very tongue in cheek with lyrics including
Spider Baby, Fantomas... an ultimate Halloween S'Carol in lyrics and tone. Perhaps too scary for a church Halloween party... then again, I've known some cool priests who might dig this song too.
Goblin Girl, Frank Zappa... silly stuff, but good for the kids.
DOA, Bloodrock... a first person account of a dead guy in a morgue.
The Skeleton In The Closet, Louis Armstrong... satisfy the old folks by including this classic Satcmo track on your Halloween mix.
Flyswatter, The Eels... not sure what this song is about... something to do with an exterminator getting rid of rodents... but the music is damn eerie and worth inclusion.
Thriller (cover), The Stone Roses... a very low tech cover of the always cool Michael Jackson song still retains the creep factor, even if it lacks Vincent Price.
Nature Trail to Hell, Weird Al Yankovich... yeah, I know. But this Weird Al entry is entirely original, super-clever, and pretty damned catchy, if not just plain moody. But admit it - Weird Al still makes you laugh.
Trick or Treat, from the Disney short "Trick or Treat", this one can't find ANYWHERE - trust me - because it was never released as a single. I desperately wanted this for my mix, so I had to record assorted clips of it from a VHS tape, toss it into a cauldron, and convert to mp3. Don't tell the folks at the Mouse House, but if you right click and "save target as" you can sneak a copy onto your computer...

I found another "How To Vote" fan at Land of Ghosts... get spanked by "How To Vote" dominatrix Linda Santiman... and I found the site that mine could only hope to be:

Ghost Droppings

Friday, October 22, 2004

A political side note...

The following ad should be force fed to every pro-Bushie to make them understand, for even a moment, why so many Americans disdain George W. Bush:

Win Back Respect ad: "He Just Doesn't Get It"

Via Talking Points Memo:

It's a rough, jarring ad. But that's appropriate because it portrays a rough reality.

The ad is built on a stark contrast. In late March, at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington, President Bush did a pre-scripted comedy routine about looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction.

It had pictures of him looking under the furniture in the Oval Office, poking around the grounds, and so forth, with him saying over and over, 'Those WMDs have got to be around here somewhere', or something to that effect. He chuckled as did the assembled DC bigwigs of press and politics.

About a month later, Brooke Campbell's brother, Sgt. Ryan Campbell was killed in Baghdad during the on-going search for weapons of mass destruction.

The ad starts with the president's yuck-yuck routine and finishes with Campbell talking about her brother.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Burn, Halloween, Burn! update

Check this out:

ABC News: School Says Halloween Disrespectful to Witches

The newest reason to ban Halloween? In Puyallup, Washington:

The district said Halloween celebrations and children dressed in Halloween costumes might be offensive to real witches.

"Witches with pointy noses and things like that are not respective symbols of the Wiccan religion and so we want to be respectful of that," Hansen said.

Halloween S'Carols

How To Make The Ultimate Halloween Mix, Part I

Every year I make a Christmas music CD, and last year I made the first of what I hoped to be an annual Halloween S'Carols mix. Alas, while there's an insane amount of Christmas tunes to choose from, good Halloween songs are hard to find. And by good, I mean not the overplayed "Monster Mash" and "Werewolves of London" crap, or songs with Halloween titles without substance, like the Edgar Winters Groups "Frankenstein" or Stevie Wonder's "Superstitious". By good, I mean stuff with a scary feel, or about Halloween or the supernatural in some substantial way.

So, for your trick-or-treating pleasure, I offer you some advice on how to put together a creepy, moody, and cool as pumpkin guts mix for Halloween.

1. As with any themed mix, listen to as many songs that fit your theme as possible. Make lists of songs you already know, and start hitting the internet for other lists. Search terms like "halloween music mix" or "scary music" work well. I found an overly exhaustive list at the Nightmare City page that archives all the tracks they've played on their annual Halloween radio show for the past 25 years, for starters. Below I also offer a dozen ideas.

2. Now its time to start finding the songs. I use those illicit music sharing services like Kazaa... actually, less because its free than most of the songs I want aren't available on iTunes, MusicMatch, or any other online service. The other advantage to Kazaa (or Morpheus, or Limewire), is that you can also enter in vague search terms such as "scary" or "haunted" or "Halloween", and then download the songs that sound interesting. You can also search for the songs on eBay, or at your local music store (in L.A. Amoeba is an awesome local source). Never worry about downloading too many options... just go as far as your time and money will take you.

3. Now, listen to your collection, over and over. If a song becomes annoying, discard it immediately - you want a mix that will last through multiple listenings, and one bad song can kill it no matter how cute or clever it is. If you're able, listen to the songs on "shuffle" play, take note of any songs that play well against one another. Eventually, you'll need to whittle this down to a 60 minute mix, or some reasonably lengthed CD, so be prepared to discard a lot of stuff based on the fact that it just doesn't blend in right.

Part two in a couple days... for now I'll leave you with tunes that appeared on last year's Halloween mix...

Trick Or Treat, Nekromantix... from the awesome Rob Zombie produced compilation "Halloween Hootenanny".
Witch Doctor, David Seville... an underplayed classic that, for better or worse, encouraged Seville's creation of the Chipmunks.
Halloween Spooks , Lambert Hendricks And Ross... almost annoying, but surprsingly catchy.
The Headless Horseman, Bing Crosby... from the hard to find big band/jazz CD "Haunted House".
Til The Following Night Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages... the king of Halloween music.
Haunted House, Gene Simmons... an oft covered tune, this one is best, but no, this isn't the guy from Kiss.
Halloween Is, Tom T Hall... even a country singer can turn out a good s'carol.
Haunted House Blues, Bessie Smith... very, very hard to find, but the bad quality of the scratched record dub I finally found made it all the spookier...
Boris The Spider, The Who... the coolest song ever from Daltrey and company.
Jack The Ripper Screamin' Lord Sutch... I usually avoid using the same artist twice on the same mix, but Sutch had too much good stuff to resist.
Grim Grinning Ghosts Barenaked Ladies... yeah, my most unfavorite group of Canadians actually do an awesome cover of this song from the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland.
Gingerbread Coffin, Rasputina... perhaps my favorite unexpected find for this mix, these chick rockers/violinists sing a song that would give Wednesday Addams the chills.
The Halloween Dance, Reverend Horton Heat... another track from "Halloween Hootenanny".
Graveyard Rock, Tarantula Goul... a Monster Mash-like rarity that can be found on the CD "Horror Hop".

...since being bitten by a wolf-like-animal, new Blogger and video store clerk Kirk has been experiencing some changes... vintage Tony Pierce: Halloween web-cam girl photo essay... an on a seperate note, Kenna likes "How To Vote"...

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Burn, Halloween, Burn!!!

I have to admit, maybe Halloween should be relegated to an underground festival, a holiday that people celebrate in private, an annual celebration with a stigma of being evil, a day to celebrate the devil and speak with the undead. With that in mind, I have mixed feelings when I hear about efforts to stop Halloween celebrations in this country even today.

According to an article in the Pictorial Gazette, over near the town I grew up (Old Lyme, CT established 1666)...

An East Hampton elementary school recently banned the school's popular Halloween parade - a tradition for decades - citing "safety concerns." School officials said they feared a masked intruder could harm or even snatch a child.

I think journalist Erik Hesselberg commented on this perfectly:

Are they thinking of the Osama Bin Laden costume that was the hottest item in Halloween sales a few years back?

(The Hartford Courant has an in depth article on the subject.)

This year, Halloween falls on Sunday. The sabbath. Not surprisingly, some Christians have become upset about this, and have either tried to outright cancel Halloween... or at least reschedule it for another day. Common logic would indicate Saturday night, right? Heck... maybe even the day after, Monday?

Down in the Baton Rouge Louisiana area the Mayor has announced it will be moved to Thursday night.

"We moved it to Thursday because of all the activity in the city, to give the children a chance to go out and Trick-or-Treat."

Rideau said Thursday was chosen by the Baker City Council because of church services on Sunday, college football on Saturday and high school sports on Friday night.

Uhhh... do they have evening masses on Sundays in Louisiana? Have they ever attempted to reschedule professional football games held on Sundays? And, by the way, haven't they had Halloween on the calendar longer than any of the college or football games they now have to schedule around?

There are other ridiculous efforts to ban Halloween. At Lyme Consolidated Elementary School, where my nephew Drew terrorizes, also in Connecticut, doesn't celebrate Hallowen because they consider it a "Pagan" holiday. To be fair, they don't celebrate ANY religiously tainted holidays, including Valentines Day. Says Drew's mom, my sister Patty:

Instead of having Halloween activities, and dressing up for Halloween, they may dress up as one of their favorite characters in a book. Most kids get creative enough and figure that whatever they want to be for halloween IS somewhere in a book. Like Drew, he is going to be Spider Man. We know there are Spider man books! You do get your occasional geeks who dress up as Mark Twain. They can have a FALL party, equipped with pumpkins and leaves, but aren't supposed to do much with witches and skeletons.

So they're allowed to celebrate the season of Autumn... isn't this considered a little Wiccan?

This article is already bastardized with links for outside reading, but here's two more: The History Channel has a great article on Halloween... and if you think Halloween is a religious holiday, you might want to look into this religion.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Trick or Treating

For my one or two Los Angeles readers, I wanted to offer some ideas on places to go, besides Knott's Halloween Haunt, to celebrate Halloween...

The Hallowed Haunting Grounds is an annual haunted house (this is the 32nd "manisfestation") a Studio City man puts together on his own front lawn. Go to his site, check out his image gallery, and you'll see why this place already creeps me out... Thursday, Oct. 28th thru Sunday, Oct. 31 starting at 7pm.

Hollywood Hellhouse at 4774 Hollywood Blvd, is a straight adaptation of the Christian hellhouses put on through the bible-belt and beyond that feature the REAL horrors of modern life, including homosexuality, promiscuity, and abortion. I want to go wearing my shirt depicting Satan holding the bible with the caption: "Read any good books lately?"

I've heard about Spooky House in Woodland Hills for a few years, and the reviews have also been that its much scarier, albeit smaller, than Knotts Scary Farm Halloween Haunt. Spooky House features three themed "mazes" this year, The Realm of Lost Souls that they claim is the largest haunt in California, an evil hotel known as Dead & Breakfast, and the zombie infested Blood, Bath & Beyond - the title alone is reason enough to go.

The Movieland Murder and Mayhem Tour: Hollywood Roosevelt Edition originally caught my edition because it was called a "walking tour", and the Roosevelt, a classic hotel two blocks from my apartment, used to be a frequent place Claire and I would sneak into to use the pool... until the closed the pool for renovation at the beginning of this summer. Anyway, the whole show is an improv/comedy thing being held at bang Improv on Fairfax. Still, a ghost themed show, based on one of my own favorite haunts, sounds like a lot of fun. Saturday at 8pm in October.

And most importantly, since I'm a featured segment of it...

The Scary Election Show, a mix of Halloween and political madness just in time for the election, will feature "How To Vote" which they call "The most kick ass PSA you will have ever seen!" At the Empty Stage Theatre, Thursday Oct. 28th, 9pm, $10 admission.

...For those of you who just can't get enough, I've also posted the original, rough cut of "How To Vote" ... Roborants and My Single Mom Life loved "How To Vote" enough to urge people to watch it... and Simply Saidy gets extra special attention because every visitor to her site is forced to watch "How To Vote".

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Sixth Sense

I don't believe in ghosts. But I wish I did. I TRY to believe in ghosts. Every once in a while, when I hear someone telling their own story of ghost sightings, I'll get that chill across my neck. And, on even rarer occasions, I'll have trouble sleeping without making sure every door is locked, every closet empty... and even then jump into bed so nothing grabs my ankles from underneath...

So, maybe there's hope.

I did have one potential sighting, way back when I was eight or nine. I only say "potential" because I don't believe in such things.

I was at my Aunt Peggy and Uncle Stanley's house in Maumee, OH. I was staying over, sharing my cousin Steven's bed. His two sisters, Mary and Jenny, shared a room just up the haul, right across from their parents room. I was a scaredy-pants and wanted to keep the hallway light on and the bedroom door ajar, while everyone else had their doors shut.

I have no idea what time it was, but after everyone had fallen asleep, I awoke to pee. For a second I thought someone else must have still been up, because I saw the shadow of, well, somebody in our room coming from the hall. I called for it...

"Jenny?" No answer.

"Mary?" No answer.

"Uncle Stan? Aunt Peggy?" Nope. No answer.

Then, I watched the shadow walk along the bedroom wall, as if it was coming deeper into the room before disappearing... I was frozen stiff. I waited, and hoped, to hear a bedroom door open and shut... but heard nothing. For a while I waited and stared, scared to death, forgetting that I'd needed to pee.

Finally, I slowly got up and looked down the hall, hoping to see another door ajar - something to explain that whatever I saw was a resident of the house. But... no. Every door was shut. I ran back into bed and his my head under the covers.

Maybe not the creepiest ghost sighting ever, but its the one I remember vividly.

If you want to see something really creepy watch the trailer for the new movie "White Noise" (be sure to turn up the volume, and turn down the lights)... check out the 100 scariest movie scenes ever at Retrorush... listen to Halloween tunes year round at Cobwebs In The Closet.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Ghouls on Film

My older sister Patty Jo writes: you know anything about "orbs" in pictures? 'cause, as you know, living in this OLD house, I have one room in particular that often has an "orb-fest" LOL. Bring that Ouija board to CT and see if you can drum up some of those orbs and make them dance. I will take pics, you can do the creepy part and talk to a cardboard game board. Heck, maybe Mom will spring out one of her "OOOOOOOOWEEEEEEEEOOOOO's" and make us wet our pants!

As a matter of fact, I know a little about orbs. But, as with all things supernatural, I'm a total skeptic, which most people wouldn't believe if they saw the number of books on ghosts and the occult that I own.

Orbs are the glob like things that you see on photos as the result of dust reflecting from the flash or lens imperfections. Some people like to think that orbs are disembodied "spirits". Regardless of what you believe, they are mostly found in photos taken using flashes, and usually by low grade cameras.

You can read more about orbs at the Shadowlands website. They also have a fun page dedicated to orbs and other "spirit photography", so you can decide for yourself - ironically, perhaps, they even have a page of "fake" ghost photos, so they must know what they're talking about.

Incidentally, the photos I've included here are the first ghost photos I ever saw, and are what first started my infatuation, and eventual skepticism, in the subject. At the very top is the Greenwich Ghost, supposedly the ghost of a monk walking up some stairs, and the second photo is of the infamous Brown Lady. Nonetheless, both photos still give me slight case of the shivers... so maybe I'm not a complete disbeliever.

Shortly before my mom died, while she was in hospice, I asked her to please make a point and come back as a ghost and creep me out sometime. So far, I've had a couple nightmares where this has happened... but nothing in my waking life. Maybe this is for the better. After all, if there's nothing better to do in the afterlife than to scare the crap out of your family, maybe there isn't much to look forward to.

Then again... I think that maybe I saw a ghost or two in my life... more on this in the next post.

Katzinjammer broke out of prison and posted four days in a row, once about "How To Vote"... Mist dropped the video a mention... Stupid Evil Bastard indulged me with a guest post to plug "How To Vote"... my older sister's favorite message board, Planet Sark, and somefans of some Canadian band called The Unicorns have even talked about it... even writers blocked Simpleton dropped word...

Friday, October 08, 2004

Trick or Treat!

For the duration of the month, I'm going to avoid politics for the most part and focus on items a little less scary.

Out of all means of divination, the Ouija board is my favorite. To begin with, its the only tool meant to conjure spirits that is manfactured by a large, respectable company... Parker Brothers. Of course, they dismiss it as a mere toy display it along with other kids games like Monopoly and Chutes & Ladders.

There there's the rules. Everyone has their own, but some of the more "common" rules include:

Never play alone!
If the planchette repeatedly makes a figure eight, it means that an evil spirit is in control of the board.
The board must be "closed" properly or evil spirits will remain behind to haunt the operator.
Never use the Ouija when you are ill or in a weakened condition since this may make you vulnerable to possession.
Always be respectful and never upset the spirits.
Never use the Ouija in a graveyard or place where a terrible death has occurred or you will bring forth malevolent entities.
Ouija boards that are disposed of improperly, come back to haunt the owner.
A Ouija Board will scream if you try to burn it. People who hear the scream have less than thirty-six hours to live. There is only one proper way to dispose of it: break the board into seven pieces, sprinkle it with Holy Water then bury it.
NEVER leave the planchette on the board if you aren't using it.

Of course, I don't believe in any of this crap. So, one time I actually tossed a Ouija into a fire. Nothing happened that I know of. I used the same Ouija previously in the Duck River Cemetery in Old Lyme... again, nothing happened (at least that night... freaky place).

Once my mom told me that before I was conceived, and after a doctor told her she couldn't have more kids, she was playing with a Ouija board at a friend's place and asked how many children she had. The board said three, when at the time she had two. She thought it was bogus, until she found out she was pregnant with me. I should also mention that she sometimes believed that I was conceived with help of aliens who'd abducted her one night.

Which isn't to say weird stuff doesn't occur with Ouija boards. I'll occasionally hear a story that creeps me out (if you have one of your own, I encourage you to leave on in the comments).

But, I do believe for them to work well, there is a basic formula:

1. Only two people can play with a Ouija at once.
2. The two people should be of the opposite sex, or gay. There's something about the physical connection between the people using the plachette that makes it work.
3. Set the mood. Others can be in the room, but quiet. Low lights, maybe some candles. However, I'd avoid music... the planchette might start spelling out lyrics from a song.
4. Its always best to bring out the board after people have been telling ghost stories or talking about other creepy subjects. It opens the mind a little.
5. Don't ask for a sign that the spirit is there. This is silly. Start with simple "yes or no" questions, or questions that can be answered with single digit numbers (ie how many children did you have), to get the planchette moving, and then move on to questions that would require the "spirit" to spell stuff out.
6. If the planchette repeatedly lands on "Goodbye", the two people at the board should take a break and let someone else have a turn.

It's always best if you're in an old house, and that you don't try and get in touch with somebody in particular. And make sure someone is taking notes (or if only two people are there, write down the questions and answers immediately after finishing).

Now, I'm off to carve a pumpkin.

Raspil, aka Bluecad, says "How To Vote" "is not preachy, it is not insulting. it is hot, clever, smart"... Psychotic Normalcy dropped word on "How To Vote"... RadioHumper, the Unwashed Depressive, says she linked to "How To Vote" before anyone else, but Blogger ate it...

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

More successful than "Gigli"!

Within 24 hours, "How To Vote" has been viewed online over 200 times. Considering that this is day one in an internet word of mouth campaign, I think that's pretty awesome.

Feedback has been great. Tony Pierce posted a permalink on the left side of his blog, and also gave it a mention on his front page. From there, additional bloggers have mentioned it, including "Bring the Beef", "Nothing to Say", "Sutter Satchel", and "Nickerblog".

Comments left around have been largely flattering.

Well, mostly. Leave it to my own family to crash the party.

Writes my Uncle Skip from Toledo, OH:

David, I love your artwork and the production quality but if you have to eliminate anything, I would start with the left wing liberal tripe that everyone hears in the mainstream media and from "hollywood activist" who ought to stick to making movies and stay the hell out of politics. Focus on "all Americans need to vote" and not who they should vote for. All of this is applicable unless your instructor is some whacko left winger (which I imagine he/she is) who will fail you if you disagree with his political perspective. If so then "suck up" to get the grade. You see, I am a whore also. (YOU REALLY NEED TO MOVE BACK TO THE MIDWEST IF THIS IS WHAT YOU REALLY BELIEVE)

In response, I have to point out that I don't have an instructor, and that, yes, I believe every word that Tony wrote that I included in the final cut. Besides, I don't think that the video ever suggests who to vote for, except that it should be somebody who pays attention to your individual needs - which I think is an incredibly Republican sentiment (I vote based on who I think will be best for the nation as a whole). Tony's writing also includes some contradictions, I believe, that pretty much dismiss it from being a whole heartedly liberal tract. And, Uncle Skip, since this is what I believe in, perhaps you're right that maybe I need to move back to the Midwest to shake things up. At the very least, I plan on coming home for Thanksgiving. Food fight? (when Kerry wins next month, I should expect one)

As for "Hollywood Activists" who ought to stick to making movies and stay the hell out of politics, I've always found it ironic that I only hear about these people when they appear on Fox News, who gives these "Hollywood Activists" more coverage and exposure than anyone, and that the same Republicans who complain about "Hollywood Activists" also bow down to Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Hmmm... flip floppers?

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

"How to Vote" online premiere!

The downside of Group 101 is that I can't hype a film as "years in the making". The upside is that the turnaround time is always less than a month.

So, here's my days in the making short called "How To Vote" written by Los Angeles blogger Tony Pierce.

Please watch, and let me know what you think.

watch "how to vote"