Summer Evening Storms: Ain’t What They Used To Be

Middle school is a tough time for many kids, especially boys. I say boys because the transition from elementary to middle requires something that we, as a male species hate, and that is results. It’s true, little boys go kicking and screaming when it comes to the period of growing up. I know I did.

The summer of 1991 was a pretty huge change for me. I left the comforts of a cush’ fifth grade life to that of an accelerated sixth grader who, in reality, probably shouldn’t have been. A standard sixth grader would have been just fine. And as if that wasn’t hard enough, my family got transferred to Phoenix, Arizona smack in the middle of the school year. It was a royal suck.

Being the new kid, I didn’t really have any friends besides this kid named Reed, who was the most popular kid in school and lived down the street from me. During school he would pretend not know me but after he would always show up at my house ready to talk me into some sort of mischief. And when I say mischief, I mean stuff that would end up on Fox News today because, lets face it, we live in a shaming society. Let me list a few activities for you because we were complete little assholes.

  • Throw oranges from the citrus trees over the highway barrier into traffic.
  • Get into ROCK WARS in the desert with other kids
  • Snipe small animals with BB guns
  • Roll smoke bombs into garages of those who kept them cracked open for their cats
  • T.P. teacher’s houses
  • Hit golfers with water balloons launched from a water balloon launcher
  • And much more

So, when peer pressure got old I would retreat to the house and build monster models while watching movies that I knew would haunt me as soon as dusk came. I believe that is sort of the way I have always run my life. Sure it feels good now but damn if I won’t pay for it later.

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My love of the macabre would rear its head especially during the Arizona evening storms that would light the sky and rumble the foundations of the house. The heat of the day with a mix of northern cool air would produce some of the most fantastic electrical storms I have ever seen and while most kids probably thought nothing of it, I was buried under my blankets, counting the distance of the storm by the Poltergeist method of seconds between lightning and thunder. And we all know what happens when the storm got closer.

I remember riding my bike home for dinner and staring off into the distance over the mountains and seeing the ominous clouds build in the distance like billowing army, marching closer and closer as the afternoon-evening transformed to night. The wind chimes would clang as the wind slowly increased force until it sounded like a spectral howl, wailing with creepy peaks and valleys. As the sun set, an orange hue set upon the whole house and the distraction of dinner in front of the TV was welcome but in the back of my head, night was coming and soon the storm would be here.

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My Mom hated these electrical storms and would demand the TV be unplugged at the first rumble of thunder for fear of a power surge. It supposedly happened to my parents back when I was an infant and ever since then, no matter what size surge protector we had, the TV was going off. That meant off to bed to dwell in my thoughts.

You see, I didn’t have any brothers or sisters growing up and with my Dad always gone on trips, it was just me and Ma at the house. With a Mom who was as nervous as a dog on the 4th of July, I was pretty much left to my own overactive imagination. And as a horror goon, that was pretty grim. Constantly I would see images of Regan’s horrid face from the movie The Exorcist as she would peer from the window when the lightning lit the sky. Why oh why did I watch that from the hallway when Dad had it on HBO earlier in the year? (That’s a rhetorical question because back then, that’s how every sixth grader saw The Exorcist.)

These nights were pretty tough because every ghoul and spook seemed to creep into my thoughts and cause me to hear and see things that just weren’t there. Even passages of books read for fun at the pool would come to haunt me these evenings. “We dare not look out the back window of the house for that’s where the dead wander and rap upon our door.”- Bell Witch

I really hated myself during those few agonizing nights but as soon as the sun came up, I would completely forget the terrors which plagued me just hours before. Nope, it was a new day with no cares in the world. That is until four o’clock came again.

Today, I am still the twisted little kid who loves to get spooked by movies and stories but I have come to love these evening summer storms. Like Eddie Rabbit says, it washes my cares away and even relaxes me into repose. My dog, however, doesn’t agree but I can be the comfort to whatever he is thinking. I am sure it’s not the Tar Man coming out of the closet but who knows? He watches all these silly movies with me now and I don’t know what damage that has done.

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I hope you get these summer storms and if so have grown to appreciate them as much as I have. Just remember, the little things in life are what makes everything worth it.

FYI, big stuff coming and as a hint, REVIEW THE WORLD is visiting again! Badda Bing! The What The Hell Show begins!

Beers with Movie Sauce: Poltergeist & Foothills Brew

Okay, so I have been gone for thirty-two years and okay I have announced the start of a killer project and made everyone wait. I know that was rude but trust me I am back in with vengeance. By vengeance I mean back with some free time to post a few entries before work rears its head and eats time like may dog eats carrots. The life we live.

So you will notice that I have ponied up and purchased a Vimeo account because have found if you are posting a video waxing nostalgia about horror flicks, yapping about beer AND chugging ghost pepper sauce, you need time. The copyright nazis of YouTube and the small space of VideoPress just doesn’t work. So, if you want to browse the hundreds of videos I am doing for “Beers and Movie Sauce” as well as “Spooky NC”, that’s the place to check them out other than here at Veggiemacabre, of course.

Now, on to the show. Tonight we are chatting about the 1982 classic directed by Tobe Hooper and produced by Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist. I loved this movie going up and when it comes to things that goes bump in the night, my mind still questions if people only moved the head stones. A spooky thriller that grossed millions and possibly cursed cast members to their doom, this flick holds up even by today’s standards.

While we chat about why Poltergeist spooked us we are drinking the Winston-Salem’s own, Carolina Blonde from the good people at Foothills Brewery. It’s a good one folks and one I have a little pride in as a Winston local. And finally, we set it on fire with the new Texas Pete XXX hot sauce. A perfect Saturday night.

So sit back and enjoy. It knows what scares you.

Touched By the Ethereal Plane

Life is what you make of it and sometimes you just have to jump at certain chances. This weekend was one of those chances and I could not say no. You’ll see why.

This past weekend I got to hangout with the crew of the show Paranormal State for an investigation at the renown Sorrel-Weed house down in Savannah, Georgia. That alone was a pretty cool thing to do but what happened later into the investigation, I will never forget. It is definitely something that will stay with me for life. Probably should not have power lunged in a provoking nature.

I think every haunted house that is a tourist attraction in Savannah or Charleston seems to have the same premiss; blah blah civil war hospital blah blah slave house blah blah distressed widow’s suicide…and on and on. I guess that all makes for pretty good stories but no matter how many times I visit, I never really get “spooked”. True, a number of years ago I did have an experience in Savannah but so much time has passed, the thrill is gone. I honestly can’t even remember the specifics. This time was different. This time I caught proof. I think.

Before I get into the investigation part I must say Elfie, Serge and Ryan are absolute delights. They are awesome people who truly take their passion to a high level of professionalism in this field. These are not the people who turn a blind eye to very much and it’s very refreshing to see how they rule out all possibilities before turning to the supernatural for an explanation.

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So, I could go on and on about hanging out with the chaps of Paranormal State but I am really wanting to get to the down right creepy. After a tour of a cemetery and a nice dinner downtown it was time to get locked in the Sorrel-Weed house with these guys and try to get spooked. To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to being locked in an old house from midnight to 3am especially with beach and beer just a short drive away. But I committed to doing this and I had to ask myself when would a person get to do this in present company? Not often.

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Inside we gathered and got a little history of the place but I was more drawn to the Robert E Lee painting. It was gigantic and probably priceless. Actually, I just wanted to see if his eyes followed me like an old Scooby Doo cartoon. He didn’t.

Soon we turned off all the lights and broke into groups. It doesn’t matter what you believe, when you can’t see in front of your face, the mind will play tricks on you. Every sound is amplified and every slight movement can be exaggerated. It’s hard to stay focused when you can’t get the movie Poltergeist out of your head.

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We broke into two groups and Serge led us down to the basement. I didn’t think of it but before you start shooting photos with blinding flashes it’s important to say “flash”. I had to apologize…a lot. All these pictures from here on were taken in total darkness. That’s important to keep in mind especially with a certain few that no one can explain.

Of course if you have read any of my older posts about being in notably “haunted” areas, I always break into a power lunge. I can’t explain why but it is a tradition and when dealing with the paranormal and superstition, it’s best not to break tradition. This may have been a maneuver that did not go over well with the permanent residences.

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What followed next, I will say, surprised me. We sat in a small group for a while down in the basement and listened to Serge talk about techniques and reasons for certain team practices. It was pretty neat but I didn’t feel out-of-place or spooked in the least. It was just a house that smelled like mildew.

Then Serge asked if I would feel comfortable sitting in the next room alone while the group left. I agreed to do that. Like I said, I wasn’t feeling weirded out or nervous so sitting in a closed room in the dark wasn’t a problem. Until…

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The first picture is a bit blurry but you can see most of the room from this angle. I was sitting on an old couch and to the right was a chimney with another empty room separated by two back sheets. On the left was another black sheet separating a small storage closet. I didn’t really know what to do because the silence was deafening, you couldn’t see a thing and I knew there was a camera with a voice recorder actively recording so for the first few minutes all I did was sit in silence. After awhile, though, I began to talk and snap pictures feeling just a tad silly. That’s when something started to happen.

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After I posed a question about our mortality and what it is like to be dead (stupid stupid question!) something rushed from the left side of me to the right, sat on the arm of the couch and it felt like an index finger and thumb squeezed my ear. It was so fast and so violent I jumped up and before I knew it I was out the door in a cold sweat. The team rushed to me and I couldn’t even explain but they saw my reaction from the cameras and knew something was happening.

The next two photos are what I captured right before I experienced…whatever that was. I didn’t see them until the next morning and it was both thrilling and unnerving. It sucks I didn’t think to look at them until then but I was so spun up I couldn’t think.

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I looked at this for hours completely dumbfounded. I must have taken thirty pictures in a totally darkened bathroom trying to recreate this photo doing everything from putting my fingers over the lens to blocking the flash. It always comes out reddish or skin toned. Also I was sitting on the couch taking pictures holding the camera at a half an arm’s length away from my body. It is impossible to get a shadow unless the flash is behind me. It’s a dark shadow that moved so fast and fucking touched me. That’s all I can possibly believe. And it’s more than a coincidence after asking such a stupid question.

The rest of the night was kind of a blur. We did EVP sessions and I took more photos but after that happened, I was a little spooked and ready to be in a hotel bed.

I will write more on this after I go through all photos and video but I needed to post this. It was a great time but I think for paranormal hunting, I will leave it to the pros and safely watch it on TV. Like right now!

See? Every time I turn the tube on Paranormal State is on! I am happy to watch it from a far.

I know there are plenty of skeptics that laugh at this and can come up with hundreds of reasons for these photos. They are not dust orbs, though. That shit happened. And I look forward to see what’s on the video. But for now, I will be doing this type of investigating.

Beer hunting!

I’ll write more on this later. Check out the Paranormal State reruns on the Bio Channel and A&E. They are a hoot. A big thanks to Elfie, Ryan and Serge. Thanks for not laughing at me when I ran out of the room like I had a rabid squirrel in my pants.

 

They’re Baaaaack! Fall Beer Review 2012

I know what you’re thinking so don’t even say it; it’s too early. While it is too early to chat Halloween it is not too early to yap about Fall Beer because, shit, it’s already out in the market! I declare this my official duty to tell everyone what is available and drinkable that is orange, black and alcoholic. You can say it’s a silly hobby but I say your haircut is silly. I kid, it looks fine.

The first review of 2012 I bring you Blue Moon’s annual Autumn sample pack. I have reviewed these in the past but this year they did a little something different. Listening to their fan base, the company allowed a select number of Blue Moon drinkers to choose this year’s flagship beer and man, they did good. They did real good. I only review this pick because to review the others would be dull and to be honest, nine minutes of me yapping is too much. Let me present you with this year’s Blue Moon Fall Beer that is 100% Great Pumpkin: Caramel Spiced Apple Ale.

P.S. The new intro song is actually named “Veggiemacabre Reviews” and that makes things a bit more official. Or something like that.

Where Did You Go? Mothers

Man, it has been a while since I have written a “Where Did You Go” post. So, as I sit at the work station for Wake Forrest Medical School waiting for them to redo their entire database I think I will use this time to be productive. Let me pay homage to the ones who birthed some of the cinemas greatest characters. And by moms, I mean the ones I care about and probably no one else does.

Lane Meyer’s mom in the movie, Better Off Dead, is about as amazing of a character as you can get. Her complete absence from reality, alternative homemaking skills and her unrelenting sweetness makes her so enjoyable to watch I just wish she could have had more of a dominating role in the film. Let’s see…she wanted to cutback the grease of bacon so she boiled it, dressed as a reindeer on Christmas morning, bought Lane a stack of TV dinners for his Christmas present, improvised a recipe that was wet from the rain and cooked something to life, and invited the neighbors to dinner to welcome the new French foreign exchange student to America by making French food. You know…”fronch fries, fronch bread, fronch dressing..”? Simply amazing. She was perfectly balanced dumb, ignorant, crazy and sweet. She’s like the buddy’s mom in high school who you could get to buy you beer but never did because the thought of hurting her feelings was not worth the fun. I love her.

Played by actress Kim Darby, she has had a long career dating back to the 60’s and has been in many TV shows like Murder She Wrote (shocker) the 1970’s classic Fantasy Island and films to include a major role in True Grit with John Wayne and was Debra Strode in the hilarious Halloween: Curse of Michael Myers. She has been nominated for an Emmy and a few Golden Globes in her time and has had a long career teaching acting at UCLA. Currently she resides in LA and was married to James Stacy who was the bartender in the evil Disney movie Something Wicked This Way Comes. All in all, I know her best as that wack-a-do Mrs. Meyer who played an amazing role as mother to Lane and Badger Meyer, in Better Off Dead and that is why she is top of this list.

Oh boy Nancy’s mom, Marge Thompson, from the 1984 Nightmare On Elm Street was an inflatable dartboard when it came to being a parent but when it came to handling a child molester, she was got shit done. This chick lit the dude on fire and took his glove as a souvenir. It almost worked too had he not, you know, come back in the dreams of kids and killed them in their sleep. Doh!

The reason she is on this list is because of her complete naiveté and her love of all things vodka. Even when her daughter woke up from a nightmare in a hospital and produced the hat of Freddy Krueger, she was still in denial! Also she taught us the hazards of smoking in bed:

And doors can be used creatively.

The woman who played this drunken, twice killed, and living in denial mother is the great Ronee Blakely who almost won an Academy Award for her role in the movie Nashville, loosely based on the story of Loretta Lynne. She had been in a few films and TV shows through the 1970’s to 90’s but besides Nightmare to Elm Street, I only really care that she was in the Tales From The Darkside episode, “The False Prophet”, appeared in the forgettable 1987 Return to Salem’s Lot and sang back up vocals to Bob Dylan’s song “Hurricane”. Other than that, she will always be the lady who funneled vodka and sort of killed Freddy Krueger.

Diane Freeling from the movie Poltergeist is probably my favorite movie mom for a couple of reasons. One, she is just cool and hip. She seems like the mom who brings cupcakes to Carolann’s classroom, buy’s Robbie the cool sneakers that all the kids are wearing, makes sure Dana has condoms before she goes on a date because we all know she was pretty loose in the movie and remember to keep cold Coor’s beers in the fridge with tightly rolled joints for when Steve gets home from a hard day of work. Two, I love the way she didn’t lose her shit like I would have when this happened:

I would have “Hiesman-ed” over Carolann on my way out the door.

Diane Freeling was played by the beautiful JoBeth Williams and she is no stranger to brilliant acting. She made her debut just a couple of months before Poltergeist with Dustin Haufman in Kramer v Kramer and went on to do a number of big films like The Big Chill, Poltergeist II, and the Tim Allen abortion known as Jungle 2 Jungle. (Never trust a film, music group or insurance company with a number representing a preposition) Also she was most famous in the late 1970’s and early 80’s as her soap career as Brandy in the show Guiding Light. And know you know. Oh! And when I was looking up info on JoBeth the first site that came up was from Wikifeet; a whole site dedicated to celebrity feet photos.

We are going to end this one on a high note, folks! Good ol’ Doris from the movie we all love, Night of the Comet. She is the cliché mom we all hate. It’s obvious that she isn’t the birth mother to the two girls in the movie because she plays the role of a wicked stepmother to the T! Married to their dad who is a Green Beret on deployment to Honduras, she is throwing a comet party and letting every guy in the neighborhood get a free ride (if you know what I mean). Well, the youngest smart-ass girl gets a little pissed off when she sees her stepmom flirting with the neighbor, Chuck, and lets loose with one of the greatest lines in cinema history: “Jesus, Doris. You were born with an asshole you don’t need Chuck.” That line resulted in this series of events.

The lesson? Don’t slap in a punching contest. But don’t worry, Doris gets turned into Tang right after this scene.

Doris was brilliantly played by Sharon Farell and what a ride this lady had! She has been in Hollywood acting since 1959 and has been on such shows as My Three Sons, Matlock, THE VERY FIRST EPISODE OF ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, Freddy’s Nightmares and Emergency. Her movie roles were pretty extensive too but besides Night of the Comet the only other one I really care about is It’s Alive where she played the mother to Satan. Which, if this was another blog that would have taken the cake for her movie-mother roles. But not this one so go suck one!

I’m sorry. Don’t do that. You know I love you.

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