Halloween 2011

Happy Halloween!

Better Half and I spent the evening watching television and handing out candy. When did we turn into our parents?

I keep some traditions from my childhood. Pumpkins should be gored and then mutilated into bread while their seeds toast in a hot oven. The bread came out of a box this year (boo hiss, flavorless) but I had fun with the carving.

We had a good turn-out of costumed candy fiends despite the rain and cold.

Some of the dogs were banished to the kitchen where they were less apt to annoy us with barking; Don't pity them. Both are evil. I don't know how to break them of their barking habit. It is obnoxious and they do it for no reason.

Better Half and Nutmeg manned the door. She was very well-behaved and stood by patiently while Better Half dropped candy into plastic bags and pillow cases. (A trick-or-treater asked Better Half what his costume was. He responded, "a stay at home dad". Fitting, considering he was wearing manky pajama bottoms and an ugly shirt. It would have been better if he said "crazy old veteran" but the kiddies wouldn't understand the joke.)

We ran out of candy and closed up shop at 8 PM. Better Half has promised to mail Mum's package tomorrow (and then cook smelts for me!)

It's 3:30 AM and I'm having a deja vu moment like none other, replete with the War of the Worlds radio broadcast that I listen to every year. I have no idea why the human brain experiences these but I will swear that I lived this moment before, perhaps in the fading tendrils of a departing dream. Meh. It lasted less than a minute but was vivid. Nifty.

Where was I?

Sammy crashed out most of the evening. (I was going in a different direction but the moment unnerved me. Am I asleep? Do I have brain cancer? What causes this ethereal weirdness and is it actually important that it be acknowledged? What if I don't mentally chant "deja vu, deja vu, deja vu" the next time it happens? Will the horrid things that are supposed to follow actually follow? Is the premonition nothing more than an anomaly of memory?)

Truth be told, there are some days where brain farts make better sense than the real world. There are also days where I wish I could pile all the couch pillows over my head and glare at passersby.

(Nobody does the glare as well as Zombie Zephyr.)

The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds.

There is no fictional work that stirs my imagination like H.G. Wells The War of the Worlds. Phenomenal book. However, the radio broadcast offered by Orson Welles  resonates deeply within me, sparking my imagination and taking me back in time to when modern technology was fresh and women still wore hats affixed to their hair with pins.

As described on one web site, "The War of the Worlds was an episode of the American radio drama anthology series Mercury Theatre on the Air. It was performed as a Halloween episode of the series on October 30, 1938 and aired over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. Directed and narrated by Orson Welles, the episode was an adaptation of H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds.

The first two thirds of the 60-minute broadcast was presented as a series of simulated news bulletins, which suggested to many listeners that an actual Martian invasion was in progress. 
Compounding the issue was the fact that the Mercury Theatre on the Air was a 'sustaining show' (it ran without commercial breaks), thus adding to the dramatic effect. Although there were sensationalist accounts in the press about a supposed panic in response to the broadcast, the precise extent of listener response has been debated. In the days following the adaptation, however, there was widespread outrage. The program's news-bulletin format was decried as cruelly deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the perpetrators of the broadcast, but the episode launched Orson Welles to fame.

Welles' adaptation was one of the Radio Project's first studies."

I love the old radio broadcasts. I think my father fostered that appreciation in me. The spoken word and few sound effects was enough to paint a vivid picture for the mind's eye. It was how people connected. It was how news was broadcast, music shared and stories spun. It was all done live. The world was a gentler, more-trusting place.

I read the H.G. Wells story as a child. I absolutely loved it; It absolutely terrified me. I then heard a radio broadcast (they played it every year in L.A.) and it unsettled me. However, my affair with the story began one fateful afternoon when the TV was on, Mum was busy on the phone, and I was left to my own devices.

This movie scared the shit out of me, and there really isn't any better way to phrase it. It was an absolute crapper moment. My eyes were glued to that old Zenith floor model as the alien ship sailed over the trees and scorched itself deep into my memory.

I was far too young to be watching it. To begin with, I wasn't potty trained yet. My toddler's mind later convinced me that the top of that damn space ship would somehow come out of drain if I flushed the toilet, ergo I would flush and run back to my room, vault onto my bed and pull covers or my pillow over my head. I did not want to die by horrible red sparks and I knew with every tender fiber of my young being that the camera part of that spaceship could get through any crack and enter my room soundlessly.

Years later the movie was remade and I love it even though it does not match the original movie or radio broadcast. Perhaps it is because the newer movie capitalized on those ships? They ceased to be flying tanks and became true instruments of violation; nothing was sacred, they moved just as silently as before, and death and terror were turbulent in their wake.

There are transcripts and recordings of Welles' broadcast. They are not played on Oct 30 anymore but I still hunt them down every year and listen. These are best listened to after the house has gone quiet for the night. Turn off the television, lower the lights and step back in time.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Part Seven

People were deeply frightened by this program. Some had tuned in late and did not realize it was fiction. Others were caught up in the story execution and their disbelief was momentarily suspended. It created an uproar.

It even pissed off the Canadians!

In the end, people were reassured that the world was not coming to an end. A monument was erected to honor the moment and life went on.

It's fitting that the radio broadcast should end with Welles speaking the following:

"This is Orson Welles, ladies and gentlemen, out of character to assure you that The War of The Worlds has no further significance than as the holiday offering it was intended to be: the Mercury Theatre's own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying "Boo!" Starting now, we couldn't soap all your windows and steal all your garden gates by tomorrow night, so we did the best next thing. We annihilated the world before your very ears, and utterly destroyed the C. B. S. You will be relieved, I hope, to learn that we didn't mean it, and that both institutions are still open for business. So goodbye everybody, and remember, please, for the next day or so the terrible lesson you learned tonight: that grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody's there, that was no Martian -- it's Halloween."


Upside-Down Clouds - Altocumulus Undulatus

What clouds? These clouds:

Altocumulus undulatus

Altocumulus undulatus

Altocumulus undulatus

Altocumulus undulatus

Batter Half will (of course) tell me (again) what these clouds are called (he's only told me a dozen times so far). I wanted to blog the pictures here before I completely forgot about them. He did an excellent job photographing them.

"Altocumulus undulatus," Better Half says while popping a cheap frozen pizza into the oven, "are caused by wind shear." (I've added captions to the photos above.)

I call them "Upside-Down Clouds". They remind me of thick sea foam washing over the sky, as if my world had turned topsy-turvy. They are most beautiful when blanketing the sky above a large meadow, or when viewed from the cockpit of an airplane at 5000 feet.


This is a running list of local activities.

Shakerwoods Festival 
August 11-12, 18-19, 25-26 2012. 
"Here we will carry on the tradition of hosting more than 200 of the best juried craftspeople in the country. Each craftsperson will be dressed in Shaker period clothing while demonstrating and selling their remarkable handmade wares.
While on the grounds, bring your walking shoes for a journey down the rustic paths throughout the beautifully manicured woods, while enjoying the aroma of great country cooking over open fires and the sound of free entertainment located at three different stages throughout the woods. If rest and relaxation are your desire during the day, enjoy one of our extraordinary man-made gardens that only Shaker Woods can deliver. It’s simply relaxing."  $7.00 per day per adult, 12 and under are FREE, parking is FREE.

Antiques in the Woods
Sept 8 & 9 2012
An Exquisite Fall Event Located on the Shaker Woods Grounds. $6.00 per adult per day, 12 and under free.

Old-Fashioned Christmas in the Woods
2012 Dates unknown
"Old-fashioned Christmas in the Woods at beautiful Shaker Woods in Columbiana, Ohio is back for its 17th season, and it's bigger than ever! Here's your opportunity to shop for hand-crafted holiday gift items from some of the country's best craftspeople in a setting that only Shaker Woods can deliver.
The woods will be transformed into a holiday wonderland with each booth beautifully decorated in an old-fashioned holiday theme. Each craftsperson will be demonstrating their unique skills and fashioning those precious gifts right before your eyes.
Craftspeople include woodworkers, floral designers, blacksmiths, potters, tole painters, basket weavers and many others.
There will be plenty of delicious foods including some holiday favorites cooked in the old-fashioned way. Live entertainment will help make it an event for the entire family! Come and have an old-fashioned good time!
Hours for the festival are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. General admissions tickets will be on sale at the gate. Admission for adults is $7.00 per day, and children 12 years old and younger are admitted free. Acres of FREE parking, too! (No pets, please.)
For more information on attending the show or becoming a participant in future events, you may send us an email, or call (724) 774-6341 or fax (724) 774-6351. If you wish to receive this information through the mail or in a fax, please tell us your mailing address or fax number."



A new snapshots taken on the way home from Wheeling:

I finally remembered to pull over and photograph this sign.

Barges transport coal along the Ohio River. This one is headed south, towards Wheeling.

Mallards at the marina. I wonder what the female said to capture their attention.

Bridge. It's a theme out here.

Various fire departments were at the marina. We weren't sure if they were flushing out the tanks or conducting a burning river exercise. 

Forlorn and forsaken, a crumbling boat ramp's rusted sentinel.

Another view of the bridge.

There is always something to see even if only we take the time to look for it. 

Tchaikovsky Challenge

A composer-based photography challenge! I saw this and thought of my friend Annie.

"Composer and conductor Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky visited the United States in 1891 to conduct at Carnegie Hall’s very first opening night concert. The Russian composer loved traveling, and he found the lure of the New World—and of New York City—very exciting.

If Tchaikovsky were a guest in your town, where would you take him? Take a photo with your own cut-out Tchaikovsky and show us."

For more information or to participate, visit http://www.carnegiehall.org.