Saturday, September 24, 2011

Scary Stuff

With autumn upon us, it seems about time for the annual paranormal post.

I don't know why it is when summer turns to fall my mind turns to spooky stuff. It's darker, and longer? Maybe. Anyway, I am a fan - I admit it - of Ghost Hunters. I'm neither gullible nor stupid. I watch with an open mind, but I refuse to accept everything. It's fun, though, and the reality is I've had enough experiences, and heard so many others, that I accept the reality of what, for lack of a better word, could be called ghostly, haunting activity.

On the other hand, the whole "demon" thing? Not so much. Why do they constantly "possess" prepubescent children? I mean, c'mon, possess the CEO of Bank of America, or the President of the United States. That would wreak some pretty cool damage. But, instead, we get 12 year olds puking and floating. More messy than scary.

I much prefer TAPS to Paranormal State and Ghost Adventures. At the very least, the guys at TAPS are more low-key. They have nothing to prove, and seem to be level-headed (for guys who seem to believe in ghosties and ghoulies and wee-scary beasties). The kids at Paranormal State are just that. Plus, a psychic? C'mon. Ghost Adventures are three guys who want to add an element of "fear", which should be something they no longer feel. Footsteps, some banging, maybe a whisper here and there, and these guys scream like a bunch of little girls. Too funny.

My favorite places on YouTube are the sites with all sorts of "poltergeist" activity. Easy to fake, all sorts of stuff flying around, banging walls and floors, two in particular are awesome. Mellowbird, this guy in England, has put up with his home - in particular, his kitchen - being trashed far longer than any sane person would. For example:

Another, who calls himself "NQGHOSTHUNTER" is, surprise surprise, a professional photographer. Like Mellowbird, he has put up with what most would have left behind far longer than should be considered normal, and is now planning a full-length, self-produced documentary on what is "happening" in his house.

I love this one, especially the guy being thrown against the wall. Truly awesome.

There are, of course, the occasional videos from people who insist they are actually filming stuff that is happening in their house. I caught one the other day, and the whole back-story, plus the various videos, made me laugh. If I were the husband in this house, I would be applauding the following, not acting like a ten-year-old at the annual Rotary Haunted House.

I love the ingenuity of stuff like this. It takes some real effort to put together a piece like this, and to be convincingly "scared" by what happens.

By and large, this stuff doesn't scare me nearly as much as, say, the prospect of a Romney or Perry Presidency does; as persistent 9% unemployment; as our stupid, crazy public discourse. That scares me. Stuff that goes bump in the night? It might catch me off guard. But, scared as in truly afraid for my own safety or that of my family?

Not so much.

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 11

Am I blue? Not really, but there is an awful lot of blue in our house.

We bought a blue love seat/sofa combination seven years ago, when we moved to Poplar Grove. Which didn't have any blue in the living room. We moved to Plato Center last year, and we had a wonderful dining room with blue wallpaper/wall-to-wall and it was transformed to a TV room. Which is very, very blue. Put one of our blue plastic plates on a piece of furniture, with the blue cloth placemats - used as arm-covers because we are messy people - and the effect is . . . blue.

When we were leaving Jarratt, VA 12 years ago, we were offered the opportunity to cherry-pick some furniture from the house of a church member. Along with two bedroom sets and a piano, we found this beautiful barrel-back chair, upon which sits a couple blue binders, backed with blue curtains in a room with blue carpeting.

Yes, that's our fire-proof safe that holds all our important documents.

I honestly wish I was a better photographer, or had a better camera. This is fun, though.

Simple. Elegant. Earrings. Billie Holliday. Lisa covers the best bases.

Friday, September 23, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 10

Photographs and memories . . .

Waverly, NY is like a thousand other small towns in the USA. It, and the surrounding communities collectively known as "The Valley" was, in my childhood, the world, for all intents and purposes. Then, in my youth, it became too constricting, stultifying, stagnant. I escaped for good in 1990 and for years would only shake my head at the thought of actually living there, not so much regretting my childhood as holding in earnest disdain my provincial ways. In our final conversation, minutes before I left for good, my father told me that Waverly was like the Secret Elephant Burial Ground. If you returned there, it could swallow you up. I know he was telling me - 25, poised to enter the nation's capital, graduate school, a whole new life I could not, then, just two months out, even imagine - that this was my chance not only to get out, but to stay out.

Then, something happened. Age offered wisdom as a free gift. With marriage, then parenthood, came the realization that I could not escape the place and time of my raising. Furthermore, the memories crowded around, reminding me of this or that place, this or that person, this or that incident. Facebook reconnected me with men and women I last knew as not-quite adults, not-quite-youth, yet people with whom I had grown up, gone to school, drunk some beers, laughed, occasionally fought, and generally experienced all my life between the ages of 5 and not-quite-18.

Finally, someone on Facebook created an open group for folks from the Valley to share memories, pictures, reminisce about things that were. You know what I learned?

It wasn't so bad, after all.

This is the old Clock Tower, the heart of Waverly's business district. An errant cigarette butt in a bar trash can took out the whole block marching from the front-and-center of the photo off to the left. A furniture store, a couple bars, and the Village Library - gone.

An image taken through the windshield of a car on a quiet morning in the 1960's, the building on the left was Dean Phipps National Auto. Along with teaching, my father worked there part-time as a cashier/clerk, usually on weekends. When he wasn't working at Kobacker's Furniture store on the ground floor of the Clock Tower.

Before my family moved to Waverly in 1970, we lived just four miles away, across the border in Sayre, PA. Around the corner from our now-demolished house on Chemung St. sat Fourth Ward School. I am the only member of my family who didn't attend this school because we moved from Sayre just as I was entering kindergarten. My sisters and brother would walk the couple blocks home each day for lunch. Like so much else - even the house on Chemung St. - Fourth Ward School is only known now in photographs and memories and a small plaque on the grounds where the building sat for decades.

This is the front of my home church, First United Methodist, Sayre, PA. It, too, has gone the way of the dodo, the Edsel, and John McCain's chances at the Presidency. The building still sits on that corner of Lockhart St. and Elmer Ave. It is no longer a United Methodist Church, however.

On the west end of Waverly is a village park, The Glen. At the top of that park, a narrow gash through the hills descending to the Village, cut by the last glacier to move through, there is this waterfall.

That's my brother in the foreground, my youngest sister's face popping up just below me. This picture, taken in the living room of that demolished house, is from Christmastime, 1968. I had just turned three.

Nah. I didn't have such a bad childhood, after all.

Lisa composes the best horror story of all - because it doesn't seem like one until the end.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 9

Today's challenge is both easy and difficult. I have decided that while this

. . . and this

are images of those I love, I figured that I'd go with their Mom.

On her wedding day

Just this past summer (that's Moriah's ear, by the way).

The camera has always been a friend to her, but she is even more beautiful in person.

Lisa makes the same choices, and the results are pretty special.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Christian Believer Week 1

I'm both leading and taking Christian Believer. I just completed my readings and reflections for Week 1, on Believing. I don't permit comments there, but I do provide links both to the scriptures I read each day as well as the extra-biblical sources.

Day 6 is unique, however, because the reflections are actually answers to questions posed in the Study Manual.

I would be interested in reactions, in a general sense. If you absolutely feel the need to claim I am some kind of crazy heretic, a loony who just doesn't understand Christianity, the Bible, doctrine, yadda-yadda, I guess I would prefer you keep that opinion to yourself, because, frankly, the folks who tend to say that kind of thing are those whose views just carry no weight with me.

This is a thirty-week class, covering some pretty deep stuff - Christian doctrine, reading primary source material, reflecting on what it means "to believe" as in "to live" the faith. It's a long journey I am on, and while the members of the class will be sharing with me, any input that is honest and faithful is more than welcome.

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 8

Bad habits? I think we can all agree that men are pigs.

We leave the toilet seat up.

We sit around, our hands firmly clenched on our nether regions, apparently terrified our balls may take a hike or something.

C'mon. Who hasn't spent a minute or two making sure one's nares are clear of obstructions? Since you can't pick your friend's nose . . .

If I could have taken a picture of farting, I probably would have. It's tasteless, but I think it has aesthetic and social value. . .

I think Lisa's choice isn't "bad" at all. He types defensively . . .

A Much Needed Musical Fix

On the mend from whatever-it-was that dragged me down . . .

This past weekend, I managed to cure a moment of musical nostalgia by reminding myself what was "popular" thirty years ago. Forgiveness beforehand.

And who could not wish to forget this?

Ah, Leah! Ah, crap . . .

I've said for several years that the breakdown in the current music-business business plan has been a Godsend for fans of music. It is so easy to find so much really, really fantastic music because we no longer have to rely on such limited sources - radio, in particular - to give us the skinny. While radio did provide a platform for so much great music in the past, now that it has been captured by commercial interests, it either feeds flash-in-the-pan in to the hopper of the woodchipper of pop culture, or continuously reminds us of our youth spent drunk, stoned, playing air-guitar to the same five songs over and over again. With a little ingenuity, and hard work, and determination, we can move past the crap and find jewels and nuggets and even whole veins to be mined, if we wish.

I have little sense of yearning for music from my youth, because what is out there, new and exciting, right now, is so much better.

Eyeball Kid - Tom Waits
War Inside My Head - Dream Theater
Journey On The Waves Of Time - Ayreon
Symphony #9, Movement 3, Adagio Molto E Cantabile - Ludwig von Beethoven
Least Complicated - Indigo Girls
Cabbage Head - Dr. John
Lady Sings the Blues - Billie Holliday
Solitary Soul - Spock's Beard
Love The One You're With/You Can't Always Get What You Want(Live) - The Neville Brothers
Get All You Deserve - Steven Wilson

For an example of that great new music, you cannot beat The Joy Formidable. I just love this particular version.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 7

I am glad I took pictures yesterday afternoon, when I felt like crap. Today, that feeling continues, compounded by a large dollop of self-pity and frustration. I was going to do a still-life, but still-life is played. So, let's see a happy face on this day of bone-weary illness, shall we?

Like the man said to the horse, why the long face?

The apple of my eye and all that . . .

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to curl up in the fetal position, cry, and feel better in a day or so or die.

Lisa explores what happens when the BBC and Agatha Christie meet the produce department. Plus le chat, of course.

Monday, September 19, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 6

Even the slightest change of perspective makes everything look different. When the dog opens his eyes from his usual day-long nap, here is what he sees:

When Miriam is walking to the dining area/kitchen, this is what she sees:

When Buddy turns to see Casper about to jump off a chair and engage in a game of cat-tag, here is what he sees:

It's good to be reminded that the same world can look very different, depending on where in space your eyes tend to sit. Except the really messy TV room shot. I bet Dreyfus thinks it needs cleaning, too.

Lisa goes to ground. Literally.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 5

I was tempted to do some herb then snap pictures, but I don't think it would have been appreciated.

From a high angle. Ahem.

Looking down on the Chemung River Valley on the border of Pennsylvania and New York, as the river turns almost due south. Taken from the balcony of our room, perched on the side of Waverly Hill. Last weekend, I remembered how beautiful it was back at the old homestead.

My favorite room, my favorite spot, in our house. The chair on the right is the spot I find myself those mornings I awake in bed, rather than drive home from work. It's comfy, it's open. It's home.

Lisa contemplates escape. Even the most velvety smooth prison, even those we make for ourselves, is still a prison.

Virtual Tin Cup

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