Jason (The Beau) on Jason Voorhees. (A peek at my “normal” life.)

So it’s Wild Card Wednesday again. Tonight I’m bringing a glimpse of my “normal” life to you. The following (heavily edited) Facebook post is from my personal, non-paranormalist, FB page. The Jason who features so prominently in the thread is my daughter’s significant other. (You know her as Pooka, purveyor of fine buttons.)

 

I’ve often referred to Jason as “The Beau” here at the blog.

You’ve actually met him before, in the post:

Courting Creepy: 13 crucial movies – for zombie lovers – at Halloween (or anytime.) By Jason.

and, more recently, in:

Body Preservation: Pannekoeken (aka Dutch Baby) a cheap & easy 5-ingredient, 5-step, recipe.

I suppose he shows up here at the blog more often than my blood family because we share a love of the horror genre. (Though he’s a little darker than me.)

When the conversation happened, I was deeply amused. Now that I’ve got this “Wild Card” thing going on, I have an appropriate slot for sharing it.

FB Jason edit

 

I’ve got to say one thing about the women in our family, we have excellent taste in men, if what you want is brilliant and snarky.


Macabre Media: Bessie Smith – her music, her (wild) story, her grave and Janis Joplin

NOW:

It’s nearly midnight on Monday and I’m tired. It was an up and down day.

The FANTASTIC news is that my son came home foot-sore, worn out, and happy after working his first-ever shift, at his first-ever job, which he bagged by the end of his first-ever interview. (He now works at a coffee shop. Is the word barista gender-specific?)

The bad news is that I had a rough day at my own job, at the paranormal hotel. II can’t believe I’m about to say this, but: I had prostitute troubles. (Apparently morning-drama will ensue if the night-guy accidentally puts two working girls directly across the hall from each other.)

Tomorrow I have to spend the day taking my mother to the doctor. Tonight, I just want to crash. Luckily, I had this post pretty much ready to go:

*****

I just ran across an interesting video on YouTube that I wanted to share.

Jazz and blues musician, Bessie Smith died in 1937, after an automobile accident, at the age of 43. Though she was past the peak of  her career, she was not poor nor forgotten. Her funeral was elaborate and well-attended. Even so, her grave went unmarked until 1970 — reputedly, because her manager / husband repeatedly pocketed the money for her memorial.

In 1970, Janis Joplin (who idolized Smith) and Juanita Green (a long-time employee of the Smith family, and the president of the North Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP) arranged for Smith’s grave to be marked with this headstone:

grave Bessie Smith

 Gravestone image from Find A Grave

& LATER

I admit this is kind of an unusual entry in the Macabre Media set of posts. It seems like this feature is in a constant state of change. For the “later” portion of this post, I’m going to stay on topic instead of highlighting an upcoming attraction, like I have been doing in recent weeks.

I want to keep you focused, and strongly encourage you to read the first of the articles I’ve listed below. There’s some fascinating information in there about not only Bessie Smith, but about a cultural phenomena of the prohibition era known as “buffet flats”, which were black-owned speakeasies.

From Bessie Smith: Music’s Original, Bitchinest Bad Girl:

[Buffet flats] provided food and lodging for traveling African-Americans — barred from segregated hotels — plus a freewheeling buffet of booze, drugs, hookers and sex shows. All in private apartments, or “flats.”

PARANORMALIST PICKS FOR BEST INFO:

Huffington Post: Bessie Smith: Music’s Original, Bitchinest Bad Girl – an R-rated exploration of Smith’s wild lifestyle and controversies surrounding her life and death.

Biography.com: Bessie Smith – a short written bio and and 3-minute video which features clips of Smith singing.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Bessie Smith biography – a respectful catalog of Smith’s musical contributions, plus basic biographical information.

Burial:
Mount Lawn Cemetery
Sharon Hill
Delaware County
Pennsylvania, USA
Plot: Section C Lot 26 Grave 3


H. H. Holmes: Gilded Age Con Man & Serial Killer (1861 – 1896)

pdoc 9 of psycho h.h. holmes

H. H. Holmes: Gilded Age Con Man & Serial Killer (1861 – 1896)

H.H. Holmes is considered by many to be the first documented serial killer in the United States. He built a convoluted hotel / rooming house / office building in Chicago just before the beginning of the 1893 World’s Fair. Some of the rooms were designed to be airtight and sound-proof gas chambers. He hired and fired several different contractors to complete the building. One benefit to this behavior was that he was able to avoid paying laborers and contractors by claiming that a firing was due to improperly done work. Perhaps more importantly, for Holmes’ purposes, no one other than Holmes himself really understood the design and layout of what eventually became known as the Murder Castle or Murder Hotel.

Holmes killed for two distinct reasons. He is most well-known for the murders of women in his hotel. At least some of those murders seem to have been committed simply to entertain Holmes. He also killed for practical and financial reasons. Holmes was a criminal in many ways. He ran various cons, including stealing bodies from graves, then cleaning and selling the skeletons, as well as insurance fraud schemes which sometimes led to murder. He was also a bigamist that was married to at least three women. Interestingly, he never killed any of the women he married. (Though he did kill a mistress.) He is known to have fathered one child.

Some theorists believe that H.H.Holmes was responsible for at least one of the Jack the Ripper murders in Whitechapel, London. Though Holmes and Jack the Ripper were contemporaries, there is no evidence that Holmes ever traveled to England. (It is possible, however.) What little evidence there is, in support of this theory, lies in a similarity of handwriting between letters written by Holmes and those sent to various news outlets from people claiming to be Jack.

I am disinclined to believe that a an organized, hands-off, voyeuristic  murderer like Holmes would change his signature drastically enough to commit any of the savage, up-close and intimate murders attributed to Jack.

Dr. Henry Howard Holmes (Herman Webster Mudgett)

MISCELLANEOUS FACTS:

AKA:
Herman Webster Mudgett; Dr. Henry Howard Holmes

Active years:
1888 – 1894
Most murders took place during the 1893 World’s Fair.

Location:
Chicago, IL, USA
In a hotel he built especially to house the fair goers.

Number of murders:
Holmes confessed to 27. Nine were confirmed. Some estimates credit him with up to 200 murders.

Typical victim:
Type A – people, usually women, taken specifically for the purpose of terrifying, torturing and killing within the walls of his “murder hotel.”
Type B – people, male or female, adults or child, whose death / disappearance benefited Holmes as he played out his financially motivated con games.

Trial:
Convicted of 4 counts of 1st degree murder & 6 counts of attempted murder.

Ultimate fate:
Executed by hanging on May 7th, 1896 at the age of 34.

Burial:
Holmes was buried in an unmarked grave. His coffin was encased in a concrete vault to deter grave robbing and / or vandalizing.

Grave site:
(Info obtained from findagrave.com)
Holy Cross Cemetery
Yeadon
Delaware County
Pennsylvania, USA
Plot: Sec. 15, Range 10, Lot 41, graves 3 & 4
GPS (lat/lon): 39.92854, -75.25771

H.H. HOLMES IN THE MEDIA:

Books:
  • The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson (at GoodReads)
  • The Torture Doctor by David Franke (at GoodReads)
  • Depraved: The Shocking True Story of America’s First Serial Killer by Harold Schechter (at GoodReads)
  • Confessions of the Serial Killer H.H. Holmes by Mudgett (aka H.H. Holmes), Herman Webster (at GoodReads)
  • Bloodstains by Jeff Mudgett (at GoodReads) – NOTE: This a controversial account of Holmes’ crimes and the legacy of them, written by his great-great grandson. It’s unclear from the description and reviews if it’s intended to be fiction, based-on-true, or biographical (and autobiographical.)
Movies:
  • Rumor has it that Leonardo Di Caprio may play Holmes in a film version of The Devil in the White City. It looks like this project has been in discussion for some time, though, and no progress has been made.
Internet:

1) Chilling tour inside serial killer H.H. Holmes` `Murder Castle` (Fox 32 News Chicago)

–This article includes a video tour of some tunnels under a Chicago Post Office that was built on  the site of the murder hotel. Some original brickwork may have been incorporated into the newer structure.

2) H.H. Holmes Murder Castle Site Basement Footage (Embedded below.)

–five-minute video featuring a possible EVP, by Adam Selzer, for the Mysterious Chicago Blog (aka Chicago Unbelievable).

Documentaries:

H.H. Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer (streaming on Netflix)

–1 hour and 4 minute documentary that focuses on all of Holmes’ crimes rather than on the World’s Fair, which is mentioned but not detailed. This is more sensationalized than the two listed below.

Madness in the White City (streaming on Netflix)

–45 minute documentary which – like the book of the same name – divides its time between discussing Holmes and the World’s Fair.

H.H. Holmes Full Biography on bio.com (available in full on Bio.com)

–45-minute treatment of the story from the folks at Biography, plus three shorter video snippets.

pdoc_deck_fanned_590x590

Click for PDOC homepage.

Note to my regular readers:

This is the first entry in my PDOC series. Tonight I’m working on creating the deck’s homepage. If  the image above doesn’t yet link to a new page, it soon will.

–Renae


Halloween Countdown: creepy projects for crafters & hobbyists. (Monster models, knitting, cross stitch, paper cutting & more.)

halloween countdown 10 final

Today, August 22nd, is just 10 Fridays before Halloween.

Show your love of Halloween and drive your friends crazy by sharing the above image on your social media sites this week.

The signs of the season are starting to appear! Yesterday, I noticed a Halloween issue of a women’s magazine on a grocery store rack and today I bought a bag of prominently displayed candy corn at Target :)

I stayed up waaaay too late last night, updating this week’s countdown post. I got sucked into learning more about monster models in particular. There’s a whole new section about “Monster Scenes” and the controversy surrounding them when they were first released. (Hint: they were banned in the USA, due to their sexual and sadistic flare.)

I’ve added some fresh knitting & cross stitch patterns for the season. I’ve also double-checked all the existing links, and redirected or modified as necessary, so that all the information is accurate as of today.

VISIT:

Halloween hobbies: monster models, knitting, cross stitch, paper cutting and more

to browse some options, or to be inspired to find a new hobby, or pick up one that you’ve set aside in the summer.

*****

To see  my overall plans for the 2014 season,

and to catch up with the countdown so far,

please visit The Halloween Countdown Homepage,

which is also freshly updated.

halloween countdown main fridays

To access the Halloween Countdown homepage / index of articles, click this image wherever you see it in the blog, or find the link in the header of the blog.

 


Wild card post: dating, courting, and going steady.

WILD CARD POSTS

I’m often thinking about how the blog is doing and where it’s going. I’ve gone through periods of daily posting and I’ve fallen silent for long periods of time. Recently I decided to try a more structured schedule, which is getting off to a decent start.

The plan, in case you haven’t already figured it out, is to do Macabre Media on Mondays, Halloween Countdown on Fridays, and a topic of paranormal interest on Saturdays or Sundays. (Plus, on some Sundays, a Body Preservation post.)

I have to be careful, though, to not box myself in too much. If it gets too rigid, it stops being fun.

In the interest of keeping things lively, I plan to reserve Wednesdays for off-theme posts. I don’t promise to post every Wednesday, but when I do it will either be about the paranormal hotel or it will be a straight up wild card. Tonight, to get things started right, you get a wild card.

[Unless you're a night owl like me, you're likely to see these posts on Thursdays. For me it's still Wednesday until I go to sleep.]

HOMESCHOOLING

I was just reading through my personal FB feed and I came across an article about courtship.

I should remind you that I educated my son at home from fourth grade to tenth, and then I turned him over to the local community college for his junior and senior year. He has now been graduated from my high school curriculum and earned an associate degree in the process.

Yes – despite my dancing around the word – that means we “homeschooled.”

I always hesitate to use the term, because of the stereotypes surrounding homeschoolers. Sadly, some of them are more true than not. Most of the families we met through homeschool organizations were homeschooling, at least in part, for religious or political reasons. We did ok in that world, though we were clearly in the minority when it came to our (nearly non-existent) religious practices … and we were almost unique in our liberal political views.

Still, these were good people and I maintain casual relationships with several of them.

And that is how I came to be reading Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed.

At first I didn’t realize that the author was using the term courtship in a very specific way:

Courtship is a relationship between a man and a woman in which they seek to determine if it is God’s will for them to marry each other. Under the protection, guidance, and blessing of parents or mentors, the couple concentrates on developing a deep friendship that could lead to marriage, as they discern their readiness for marriage and God’s timing for their marriage. (Quote from Institute in Basic Life Principles, for clarification purposes.)

To be honest, I was unaware that this was a thing. I don’t know how many of my fellow homeschoolers subscribe to this kind of thinking.  (In my son’s age cohort, there just weren’t very many girls — plus, you know, there were some obvious ideological issues with the few that were around — so that’s not where he’s done his dating.)

5123813830_29af542b15_z

Photo by Samantha Jade Royds

COURTSHIP, DATING, AND GOING STEADY

Read the articles if they are of interest to you, but I want to talk about a particular gem of wisdom I found in Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed.

It seems that we as a society have changed the definition of dating since it was being done in the 40s & 50s. According to the article, it was common at that time for parents to make one major rule when it came to early dating:

You can’t go out with the same person twice in a row.

It was perfectly acceptable, and expected, that in any given month you would go to the movies with Tom, have a malt with Dick, go to the dance with Harry, then – perhaps – go to a party with Tom again. The idea was that you’d get to know a lot of different people and there would not be so much pressure to pair bond with one person. By the time you’d dated 10-20 people, you had a much better idea of what kind of person you wanted to go steady with and, maybe, eventually marry.

An argument for this kind of traditional dating, from the Christian viewpoint of the article, is that there isn’t much sexual activity associated with it. I’m probably less concerned with “purity” than the author of the article is, but I can see how this kind of cultural norm would be a healthy way for people, especially young people, to develop relationship skills without feeling so pressured. And I can see how such casual dating would be less likely to contribute to confusion between raging hormones and burgeoning love.

Plus it sounds like a hell of a lot of fun.

This is NOT the way it was done when I was in high school. It was much more like serial monogamy. We hung out in groups until a couple decided to “date” at which point they would see each other exclusively for anywhere from a week to several months or more. When you stopped dating someone, there was a breakup. Then you would do it all over again with another person. Some relationships included sex, some didn’t. The concept behind the process, though, was that each person you dated could be The One. Once couple-hood was declared by going on a date, you ran that relationship out to its end.

Right now I am totally taken with the idea of bringing back real, old fashioned dating. Assuming it isn’t already being done and I just don’t know about it.

HOW IS IT DONE NOW?

From what I’ve seen in my kids, and my nieces and nephews, it’s still pretty much the way if was when I was younger … serial monogamy.

I have questions for you:

  • What was your dating experience?
  • What have you seen happening these days?
  • What are you doing (if you’re unmarried and still looking)?
  • Do you think anyone is dating casually the way I described it above? Who?
  • If traditional dating isn’t happening, do you think it should be?
  • If traditional dating isn’t being done, how on earth could it come back into practice?
  • If you are (or were to start) dating, what do you think the reaction would be if you said, “I don’t date anyone more than once in a row and I don’t want you to either?”

Macabre Media: MeTV & Svengoolie, plus Susan Sarandon in The Calling

NOW: MeTV & Svengoolie

MeTV-Logo

For  a couple of months now, I’ve been enjoying the offerings of a channel called MeTV. It’s a haven for paranormal folks, especially old-school types and those of us who … have been consuming macabre media for a while now, and who enjoy a dose of nostalgia.

Here’s what I catch when I have time:

  • The Alfred Hitchcock Hour
  • Columbo
  • The Fugitive
  • H.R. Rufnstuf (!!)
  • He Man and the Masters of the Universe (Ok, I’m a child.)
  • Night Gallery
  • Perry Mason
  • Thriller (with Boris Karloff)
  • The Twilight Zone …

…Oh, there’s just so much. (Lots of westerns, from Rawhide to Bonanza & comedies from Make Room for Daddy to Bosom Buddies & more.) You can see the complete show line-up here: MeTV Featured Programs

I’m going to be honest, I don’t often watch these blast-from-the-past shows from start to finish. I’ve found the station to be great when I just want to catch a little something while I eat a quick bowl of cereal, or when I’m trying to fall asleep.

There is one show, however, that I actually record to watch: Svengoolie.

person_svengoolie

I discovered MeTV, in fact, because I was looking for an old-fashioned Horror Host — someone like ElviraSir Cecil Creape, The Ghoul, or Vampira — that I could watch now. I went off on google quest one day and found that I could get Svengoolie via my cable provider, Comcast / Xfinity.

I wasn’t looking for stuff that I could watch on my computer; I really wanted something that would be similar to my experiences as a young teen, when I’d watch Hammer House of Horror movies in the late night, or to an even earlier time, when our non-network channel (remember those?) played some b&w syndicated horror host from Chicago on Sunday afternoons.

The closest thing I’ve found so far is Svengoolie.

I have to say, I’ve seen better. (After all, Mystery Science Theater originated here in Minnesota, for God’s sake. It’s hard to compete with that.) And we’re all spoiled by the slick re-packaging that was done for the the likes of Elvira. Still, there’s fun to be had watching Svengoolie.

This guy is camp and schlocky. He’s a big fan of puns and rubber chickens. The movies he introduces, however, are pretty good. He just wrapped up a series of Creature From the Black Lagoon spin-offs. This week, he’ll be doing Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman. (Click that link to see the promo that is running right now.)

The show is broadcast on Saturday nights, at 10/9C.

I have to manage my DVR-ing because my provider doesn’t list the program as “Svengoolie” but rather as the name of whatever movie he’s featuring. With any luck, your provider will be smarter.

Find your provider here: MeTV interactive map.

I’d love to live-tweet with some of you one night while watching. Let me know if you’re up for it.

~***~

& LATER:

I’m looking forward to this:

movie poster the calling

From IMDb: The Calling (2014) 

Detective Hazel Micallef [ Susan Sarandon] hasn’t had much to worry about in the sleepy town of Port Dundas until a string of gruesome murders in the surrounding countryside brings her face to face with a serial killer driven by a higher calling.

  • Starring: Susan Sarandon, Ellen Bernsten, Donald Southerland, Topher Grace, Gil Bellows
  • Directed by: Jason Stone
  • Rated: R
  • Theatrical release date: August 29th, 2014

I’ll give folks a heads-up on twitter / FB / Goggle+ a little closer to the release date.


Gorgeous Graveyards: The Old Burying Ground, Beaufort, NC

In June, my son and I went to North Carolina to see my daughter and her beau. It was our first vacation in many years and we had a wonderful time. We toured several attractions in the beautiful state, but my favorite stop, by far, was The Old Burying Ground, in Beaufort, NC.

We came across the cemetery by accident, and when we found it, we had only about twenty minutes to explore before the property would be closed for the night. I knew I’d want to share as many pictures as possible here at the blog, so I hurried through the gates, a madwoman on a mission.

Old Burying Ground, NC gate

Just a couple of yards into the graveyard, though, I had to slow down and breathe. The peaceful, timeless atmosphere under the ancient oak and magnolia trees would not allow me to feel rushed. As I stood in the cool dappled shade, taking in the historic beauty of the place, all the tension in me melted.

Below, you’ll find more information about The Old Burying Ground and some of the graves I saw in the cemetery, but before we get to that, I invite you get a sense of what it felt like to actually wander through this sacred place by watching this video:

(For best picture, click on “watch on YouTube”, then full-screen.)

Have you ever seen such a gorgeous graveyard? I wish I could have done it justice, but I hope I captured the feel – at least a little – for you.

On to the details.

THE OLD BURYING GROUND

Address: 400 Block of Ann Street, Beaufort NC, 28516

http://www.beaufortishistoric.org

Established 1709

The Old Burying Ground originally came into use in the area surrounding a building used for sessions of the Court and for reading the service of the Angelican Church in St. John’s Parish. The earliest graves were marked by shells, brick, or wooden planks. Large swaths of the cemetery appear to be sparsely occupied, but an archaeological survey in 1992 confirmed there are many burials in such open areas.

In 1731, the cemetery which had come into existence around a courthouse-cum-church was deeded to the town of Beaufort.

Currently, the entrance of the cemetery is flanked by two churches: a red brick First Baptist and a white clapboard United Methodist. The graves lie nestled between the two buildings until the property opens up a bit at the back. This makes it look and feel like a real churchyard, as you will see in some of the photographs that show the gravestones snugged right up next to the churches.

Beaufort itself is one of the oldest towns in North Carolina. In the early 1700s, when the notorious pirate Blackbeard was going about his business along the coast, it was known as Fish Town. In 1722 it became an official seaport. During the Revolutionary War, it was the third largest port in the state, according to the Beaufort NC homepage.

In 1997, the wreckage of what is presumed to be Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, was discovered two miles from Beaufort Inlet, approximately 20 feet below the surface of the water.

This town has seen a lot of living, and a lot of dying.

Old Burying Ground, NC  sign

Captain Otway Burns (1775 – 1850)

In the War of 1812, Captain Burns was considered a great naval hero. He received “Letters of Marque and Reprisal” from the United States, which allowed him to plunder British ships. (The letters made him a sort of  legal pirate, otherwise know as a privateer.)

His monument features a cannon removed from his ship, Snapdragon.

Old Burying Ground, NC cannon grave

Nancy Manney French (1821 – 1886)

In the video, I mark this grave with the caption: “A sad love story.” Here’s the tale, drawn from the guide pamphlet that was available just inside the gates of the graveyard:

Nancy fell in love with her tutor, a man named Charles French. Nancy’s father disapproved of the relationship. Charles left Beaufort with the intent of finding his fortune and earning the right to ask for Nancy’s hand in marriage. In the ensuing years, both Nancy and Charles tried to maintain their romance through letter writing, but the postmaster in town – who was a friend of Nancy’s father – intercepted all the letters. Years later, upon his deathbed and stricken by guilt, the postmaster confessed what he’d done to Nancy. Later still, Charles returned to Beaufort. He was an old man, but he’d never been able to forget his love. He found that Nancy was dying of consumption. The two married anyway. Nancy died just a few weeks later.

Manney grave

The Rum Keg Girl (1700s)

An English family had settled in Fish Town, but a daughter, who had been only an infant upon arriving in the colonies, wanted to see her homeland. The girl’s mother did not want the child to travel, but the father convinced her it would be all right, and promised to bring her home no matter what. The girl reportedly enjoyed her visit to England but she died on the return trip. Traditionally, she would have been buried at sea, but the father chose instead to purchase a barrel of rum from the captain, so that her body would be preserved and she could be buried in the town graveyard.

As you can see, visitors to the burial ground have been touched by the story. Of all the graves in the cemetery, this was the only one displaying grave goods on the day I was there.

Some light research into the possibility that this cemetery is haunted revealed that some guests have reported seeing a young girl playing among the stones, then disappearing suddenly. Sometimes, some of the trinkets from her grave are found in other parts of the cemetery when the gates are opened for the day.

 

 Vienna Dill (1863 – 1865)

This very young child died of yellow fever and was buried in a glass-topped casket. Later, curiosity reportedly led vandals to dig up the grave to see the corpse. According to legend, the girl’s body appeared intact and life-like. The vandals supposedly then opened the coffin, only to have the body disintegrate.

??????????????????????

 

One thing I wanted to draw your attention to is the massive vines that stretch over the area above her monument. If you look very closely, you can see how the thick vines are wound around what looks like a fallen tree trunk.

The graves and the headstones were fascinating and touching, but they are not the only reason this graveyard is so beautiful. Many of the trees, vines, flowers and ferns are breathtaking to a Minnesotan like me.

Resurrection Fern

I was particularly taken by the Resurrection Fern that grew on many of the nearly horizontal branches of the oaks. Apparently this plant causes no harm to its hosts. I’ve read that very dry conditions will cause the ferns to dry up and appear dead, but that providing water will revive them nearly instantly.

I’ve probably rhapsodized enough about this distant-in-time-and-space place that somehow felt like home to me. I’ll leave you will a sincere wish that you find such a place yourself.

PS: I thought it might be a good idea to give you an extra resource, which I found useful when I was looking at these photographs.

Click the following link to see a guide to some of the grave markers you’re likely to see in southern graveyards. Regionality matters. In Minnesota, for example,  I’ve never seen a “table tomb” like the one pictured below.

PreserveALA’s guide to grave markers.

Old Burying Ground, NC vista 6

 

 

 MORE OF MY FAVORITE SHOTS

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