Archive for October, 2010

BOO II!! (The Sequel)

As I mentioned in my last post – BOO!, tonight I will be discussing horror films.  Correction: I will be discussing a single horror film.  The very thought of the film’s subject matter and I’m drenched  in claustrophobic sweat.  The film was based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe, directed by Roger Corman and starring Ray Milland.  THE PREMATURE BURIAL!

In the age of Google Chrome (why Chrome?) I am afforded (some 48 years later) the opportunity to better  understand that THE PREMATURE BURIAL! was just another of  Roger Corman’s wonderfully bizarre adaptations and, though the ending was inevitable, Corman (King of the Bs) had great fun with his macabre tale.  And kudos to him and his use of his minimal budget with characteristic inventiveness that showed an assured eye for the preposterous.  How I wished I had known Roger Corman was just joshin’ us when I saw portions of the film.  I say portions because most of my viewing took place from  under the movie theater seat.  Get ready…I feel a sharp left turn…too late.  Hold on.

Those of you who love to watch movies like Psycho, Friday the 13th, Silence of the Lambs or that fright filled film (oh, an alliteration) that lulled you into a false sense of safety with its dancing hippos and cutesy shuffling mushrooms and then reared its ugly head – yes, I’m talking about Fantasia – Night on Bald Mountain – will think me a cinematic sissy.  Perhaps if I had been introduced to horror films with a parent by my side to console me and tell me it was only pretend (as I did for my own child) things would have been different. Left turn signal.

I had  a conversation with Nate (my favorite of all my kids) not too terribly long ago about this very matter and he reminded me, much to my surprise, that he was only four years old when we took him to see E.T.  For some reason I thought he was eight years old.  I do remember Nate turned to me in the middle of the opening scene and told me he didn’t think he was ready to see the film and we should probably leave (yes, Nate talked that way when he was a kid) and proceeded to put his blanket over his head.  I stuck my head under his “B” and explained to him there was nothing to be afraid of; it was all pretend.  I was also thinking we had just shelled out fifteen bucks.  Hind sight being what it is, I  imagine the opening scene of E.T. with its dark forest, wind whipping through the trees, the beams from the flashlights, the barking dogs, the helicopter blades thrashing the air, the men yelling, E.T. running through the bushes and the frightening musical score…Oh, God!   Nate – I am so sorry your dad made you go see that film at such a young age.   However, we were there for you and that’s what matters.

I, on the other hand, was raised during the era of the Saturday matinée.  Saturday was the day mothers dropped their children, who they confessed to love, off at the local movie theater.  Mothers didn’t care what was playing.  There was only one thing that mattered: They were free for two to four hours, depending on whether or not it was a double feature.  Mothers barely came to a stop in the parking lot, kids jumping from slow-moving cars, tires squealing and smoking as mothers made their getaway.  I didn’t mind because I had money for the movie and Jujubes, a hard, sticky candy about the size of a bb.  I would hold each Jujube up to the screen so I could see the color before eating them.  I’m pretty sure those nickel boxes of Jujubes cost me close to three grand in dental work.

Now to be fair, I imagine I saw a number of kid friendly movies on Saturdays, but I can’t remember a single one.  Maybe the summer of ’68 and a few more summers for good measure wiped out most of  the film section of my brain, but those summers could never erase the film that scarred me.   I turn now to Google Chrome for the scenario (remember, I spent most of my time under the seat and I was just a kid).  THE PREMATURE BURIAL! concerns the efforts of aspiring doctor Milland to avoid the fate that befell his father: being buried alive.   Milland constructs a burial-place incorporating all sorts of emergency devices.  Nice try, Milland.    I’ll never forget poor Milland scratching at the inside of the coffin and screaming!  Like father like son.

What I remember most is the underside of the seat because I spent the entire film under it.  The underside of a theater seat isn’t pretty, and I say NEVER put your hands under the seat.  NEVER.   I was so scared I couldn’t even eat my Jujubes.  From the floor I could hear little kids  screaming for their mothers, all of them running from the theater into the safety of the afternoon sun; precious minds pretzel twisted forever by Roger Corman’s “wonderfully bizarre adaptation” of Edgar Allan Poe’s tale.   For you literary buffs who believe a novel should never be turned into a film and therefore live in the world of documentaries, I give you this example:  Corman’s adaptation of Poe was akin to Sylvia Plath’s poetry being adapted by Emra Bombeck  (rest her soul, and Sylvia’s, too).    Ah, but I digressed without even knowing it.   Back to the theater.

Like Mother Superior on Halloween night 1959, I fainted when it all became too much.  When I came to and climbed out from under my seat, I found the film had been stopped mid-reel, and the theater virtually empty, save one little girl whose coat-tail was wedged between two seats.  Though a smarter child would have left her coat behind and made a run for it, I wasn’t there to judge  her, I was there to add a convert to my list.  I knelt in front of her and said a quick prayer for both of us.  Before my amen hit the sticky floor, the lights in the theater came on and I was able to pull her to freedom.  There were no adults and no kids to be found.   But what I did find was even better: Boxes and boxes of left behind candy; some of it unopened.   Who doesn’t open their candy right away when they go to the movies?  Did they learn nothing from THE PREMATURE BURIAL!? I sure did.

I ran up and down the aisles filling my pockets with all the candy I could find.  I figured if there was a chance I could be buried alive, I was going with my pockets full of candy.  And the way my pockets were bulging at the seams, I could last for a long, long time.   I was just sorry Ellis wasn’t with me.   Finding all that candy made up for having to hand over our Halloween bounty to the Sisters of St. Louis for the little kids in China.


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I’ll admit Halloween  isn’t my favorite holiday.   Tonight, as I listen to the howling wind and cast my imagination into the woods outside my door, where the full moon is hiding behind the storm clouds and the Great Horned Owl is asking who?, who?, who?, where the rustling in the bushes and the scratching on the window…well, now I’ve gone and scared myself.  And I really don’t like being scared.  Who does?  Oh, I know there are those of you out there who do, and I’ll address you folks in my next post.  Tonight I’m talking about Trick or Treat.

I come from the old school when costumes were made, not purchased, and you could not go trick or treating if you were only six months old with a pillow case pinned to your onesie in the hopes of getting enough candy to last until your baby teeth came in.  In utero will get you nothing at my door.   In my day, you could go trick or treating when your mother and father no longer had to walk you through the neighborhood.  Granted, it was a different time, but more importantly, we never stayed in the neighborhood.  My pals and I headed straight for the other side of the boulevard – the rich side.  The neighborhood where steamy hot apple cider was doled out like hose water as were full size candy bars – the good kind.  Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, Hershey Bars (without almonds), Big Hunks, Oh, Henry! (However, if I got an Oh, Henry! I would have given it to my brother.  While eating an Oh Henry! one time, I found half a worm in it.  My dad, bless his heart, reminded me if there was only half a worm in the candy and I had consumed half the candy…well, it doesn’t take a math genius to know where the other half of that worm was wiggling around.)  There were full size boxes of Dots, Jujubes (the candy that ensured your dentist his kids would be going to college). Life was good on the other side of the boulevard.

Most of the kids drew from the usual basket of costumes – pirates, ghosts, princesses,  hobos were big in ’58; your run of the mill Disney characters: Mickey, Minnie, Goofy; and whatever the going superhero was at the time.  I, on the other hand, had a fantasy costume; no more like a tableau.  There was a family in the neighborhood who took their Catholic responsibility to heart and had six children.  I knew costumes were hard to come by for them so getting Ellis to go along with my idea would be a snap; getting my neighbors to lend me their big black dog was going to be a challenge.   I asked Mr. and Mrs. Watson if I could take Spike, their big muscled Great Dane, with me when I went trick or treating.  “For protection”, I said.    At first, the Watsons were hesitant, but my tears helped them see the light.  With all the chaos at Ellis’s house it would be a cinch to get ready there with no one the wiser.   They didn’t even notice 180 pound Spike running through the house.

The reaction of Mr. Charles when he opened the door and we yelled “Trick or Treat,” was the beginning of a long and successful night…until we rang the bell at the convent where the Sisters of St. Louis resided.  I was certain the nuns would appreciate all the time I had spent, but their horrified gasps and Mother Superior fainting and hitting her head on the holy water font on the way to the floor, told me I was wrong.  Personally, I thought Ellis looked very handsome as Joseph.  The beard I drew on for him  had smudged a bit due to his runny nose, but his biblical robe (cleverly made from a potato sack and tied with the cord I cut from our venetian blinds) was gold star worthy.  (NOTE TO KIDS: Don’t cut the cords to your parents blinds; they’re very important.)  And what other third grader would have thought to melt brown crayons in strips across his feet to look like the same sandals Joseph wore?  (NOTE TO KIDS:  Melted crayon hurts.)

I didn’t know what to do.   Mother Superior was face down, her habiliment askew so that I could see her short-cropped hair and the other nuns had fallen to their knees, crossing themselves over and over again.   I didn’t know whether to help Mother Superior or remain where I was.  I decided to remain where I was:  sitting side-saddle on Spike, holding my swaddled Baby Jesus doll.   Maybe it was me who caused Mother Superior to faint.  I admit, with my mother’s favorite blue tablecloth covering my hair and my long white nightgown underneath, my resemblance to the Virgin Mary was striking.

Just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do.  Spike rushed to where Mother Superior lay and sniffed her up one side, then the other.  I tried to pull up on Spike’s reins (more venetian blind cords), but  Spike was just too much dog for me.  I fell off Spike and dropped my Baby Jesus doll, his head rolling toward the praying nuns, three of whom went running from the entry.   Then Spike did the unthinkable.   He lifted his leg and blessed Mother Superior, then turned and  trotted down the street in the direction of home.

Ellis and I did the only thing we could do to save ourselves, our very souls.  We handed our pillowcases (chock full of the best candy from the other side of the boulevard) to the remaining Sisters of St. Louis as an offering to the starving children in China.  But I digress once again.

Fortunately, I now live in a village with tricksters as equally friendly, as you can see by the photos below.

There were knights and firemen, and even a frog. 

There were princesses and cowboys; too many to blog.

There were witches…

…and pumpkins, enough to be sure, but only one who gave me a “Grrrr!”

Villagers marched through town to a Halloween beat, while flying candy from merchants filled up the street.  At the end, a mad scientist with questions galore.  Thank the Great Pumpkin – the rain said “no more.”

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Sam and Janet Evening took Second Place in the Business Category!  First Place went to the scarecrow down at the bank where the voting takes place.  Hmmmm….., I say.   We’ll be ready for them next year.

I thought you’d enjoy seeing the effect the elements had on Sam and Janet in little over a week.  These poor kids suffered through the pouring rain and wind last weekend.  Their clothes still look spiffy, but if your head has rotted to the core, what you’re wearing matters little.   Sam doesn’t look too bad, but his tomatillo ear fell off, his left eye would have fallen out, but his cool 3D glasses kept it in place, and his comb over seems to have taken on a life of its own.

Poor, poor Janet.  Obviously a terrible allergic reaction to the make up, or an influx of testosterone took place.  In little over a week Janet sprouted a moldy black and white beard, her plastic surgery (no, I didn’t know) went wonky and her nose popped out of her face.   Not even her Penn Cove mussel necklace and clam shell earrings can detract from her facial catastrophe.

Anyone interested in helping to fund Janet’s surgical makeover can send their checks directly to me…made out to me.

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Autumn is Here!

Here’s how to tell autumn has arrived in the Pacific Northwest…no, I say to those folks in California who are still experiencing 80 plus degree weather, it’s not chattering teeth.   You can tell because bird songs have been replaced by the croaking of the frogs; nasturtiums are fading and toadstools pop up more quickly than unexpected quests. Some of them with unexpected guests.  Yes, the Sow Bug Family Circus (SoBuFaCi for those in the know) has returned.  Seems there was a run in with Cirque de Soleil there in Seattle and they’ve been on the run ever since.  How could I say no?   Had I know the entire Romanian circuit was traveling with them, it might have been a different story.  I thought the noise from the woods was from the usual critters – deer, owls, out-of-towners, but when I went to the back of the property to bury my compost, I found a circle of  sow bug gypsy wagons.  When I asked what they were doing back there one of them called out “Possession is nine-tenths of the law!”  Svetlana apologized and I waved it off.   I’m still holding a little guilt around Bartok falling down the kitchen drain last Christmas.  Ah, see, I digressed without warning.  Let’s get back to the telltale signs autumn has arrived.

The mist hangs a bit longer in the trees before the sun makes an appearance.  Nice, yes?

And it’s HARVEST FESTIVAL TIME!  Looking back at last year’s Harvest Festival post, I see the weather was sunny.  Not too sunny this year, and the wind came a howling through the vendors’ tents and more than a few had to stop selling their wares to batten down the hatches.  But a little wind and rain aren’t going to stop a festival here in Coupeville!   The Rosehips Farm youngins took People’s Choice Award again this year for their enthusiasm and their great pumpkin heads. And not one of them lost their head when it was time for high fives upon winning the award. However, I think my favorite contest was the salmon toss.   Have you ever tried to catch a salmon?  Just ask my buddy Lew how hard it is.   Oh, if Lew reads this that’s going to hurt more than you know.  It took a few tries, but this young woman took one for the team.  She was actually able to hang on to it.   The fish was moving pretty fast and I wasn’t so the photo is a bit blurry; but trust me, it was a big fish.  No, really, it was big.  If I say anymore, you’re going to think I’m telling you a fish story.  A photo is worth a 1,000 words they say.

The festival is also the last farmers’ market until next spring so all the vendors you’ve come to know are pulling up stakes and tucking away their tents until spring comes around again.  I’m going to miss them, but April’s just around the corner.




























Are you happy, Doll?






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Scarecrow Corridor

Boy, time flies when there are so many festivals and you’re not sure which ones to post.  Last weekend we had the Kite Festival, Tour de Whidbey Bicycle Race, the Saturday Farmers’ Market and an art show at the Rec Center.  Get outta here!   But I’m back with a short post so get your coffee, climb into your sweats…do whatever it is you do when you read this blog.

Somehow, and I’m not sure how this happened, I offered my limited scarecrow building abilities (okay, I’ve never actually built a scarecrow) to Beth, the lovely proprietor of Bayleaf (the best wine and cheese shop on the island) when I found out she didn’t have an entry.  Now, the queen of all things Halloween, and the creator of last year’s masterpiece for Local Grown,  is not in town at this time.  My friend, DZ, is visiting  her children in Italy and her wonderful sister, Fabienne, in Castres.   Therefore, I was left holding the two by fours, staple gun, tacks, nails, hammers…  For over a week I had body parts all over the house and two pumpkin heads looking for a resting place on a spike.  Since I had less than a week to put this all together, I made a mad dash to the thrift shops for clothes and a big box store that shall not be named for a variety of rats, spiders and webs.

In some Frankensteinian (I’m sure it’s a word – if  LOL counts, Frankensteinian does, too) world, Sam and Janet Evening came into being.  A little back story on the two that I found out as we spent more and more time together.  Perhaps too much time.

The pictures here are outside Bayleaf where they’re enjoying a bit of cheese and a Boutielle de Sang.

Talk about a perfect match.   Sam thought he’d never find someone who would overlook his comb-over or the fact that he wears 3D glasses to cover up his bulging eyes, but he did.  Janet thought she’d remain just another pretty face; no one looking deeper, or asking about the degree she holds in biopaleoagrisomething, and then she met Sam. These two kids could have ended up like countless pumpkin heads who couldn’t imagine a future beyond pie.  No, they shot for the moon and although they missed big time, they found each other in my kitchen; and, hey, isn’t that what it’s all about?  It was a whirlwind romance and the wedding took place out on the property under the stars.  I officiated and, I’ll admit, the marriages I’ve performed have failed, but I have a good feeling about this one.   Children?   Well, if the seeds are planted before their heads rot, there may be a bunch of little Sams and Janets running around next fall.  We’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we.  Gotta run.

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