Tag Archives: Halloween

Countdown To Halloween:Headless Horseman Song (Bing Crosby)

Once again we are in the Halloween season. Pumpkins and scary decorations now adorn porches, patios and lawns. Here is a clip from the Disney animation classic The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949). Of course if you want a more scary headless horseman you can view one here.

Have a nice Saturday everyone.

 


Today is All Souls Day

Day of The Dead by William Bouguereau (1825-1905) Public Domain
Day of The Dead by William Bouguereau (1825-1905)
Public Domain

All Souls’ Day is to commemorate the faithful dead and is celebrated by special mass by Catholics and other Christian denominations. Some Christian churches celebrate it on a different day. It is not to be confused with Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) which does remember friends and family who have died but is not a Catholic or Christian religious event(though it takes place from 31 Oct through 2 Nov which coincides with Halloween, All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day).

Today is All Saints’ Day

The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs (about 1423-24) Public Domain
The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs (about 1423-24)
Public Domain

All Saints’ Day(Solemnity of All Saints,All Hallows, Hallowmas or All Saints)is celebrated on 1 November by most Western Christians and is to honor all saints known and unknown. In some Catholic countries, it is a holiday. It is a holy day of obligation for most Catholics except when it falls on a Saturday or Monday. In that case it is celebrated on Sunday. Eastern Orthodox is celebrated on the first Sunday after Pentecost and is called All Saints’ Sunday.

All Saints Day (About.com)

Countdown to Halloween: The Mummy (1932)


Countdown to Halloween:Haunted Mine

As some of you probably already know, I am highly skeptical of most ghost videos on YouTube. Occasionally you do find a gem or two that provides some genuine scary or at least spooky images. These two about a guy who explores old abandoned mines caught my eye. Most of the time when exploring these mines nothing happens. His videos reveal a lot about these old mines and what they used to do. But when exploring one particular mine in Nevada, something weird did happen on the first visit. And then on the second visit towards the end something weird also happens. In the first one, old chains are hanging in the entry area. They were once used to support the platform that moved ore out. One in the rear seems to be moving unusually as if it is being deliberately moved. Of course it might be the result of vibrations caused by walking around the mine or a microquake. The second one appears to have a voice at the end and a what sounds like a French police siren. One likely possibility is that the camera, which records sounds, picked up a transmission that had nothing to do with the mine. Or it could be someone was pranking the guy. Some have suggested perhaps someone lives in that mine and created that message to scare people away. There is also another possibility: that it is all faked to create buzz. Whatever it might me, the videos are fun to watch and appropriate for the Halloween season.



Countdown to Halloween: Danse Macabre

French composer Saint-Saens started this in 1872 as an art song for voice and piano using text by poet Henri Cazalis. In 1874 he altered it into its present form replacing the vocals with a solo violin. Danse Macabre is based on an old French superstition that on Halloween Death will call forth the dead from their graves. While he plays a violin, they will dance for him until the sun comes up when they must return to the grave for another year. Here is an interesting rendition of it using some nifty graphics.


From the Halloween files: Something Wicked This Way Comes

something_wicked_this_way_comes_firstRay Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, I recently realized, is an underrated gem. Wandering through my local library one recent Saturday, I noticed the book on the science fiction/fantasy shelf. I realized never read this book and checked it out. I wish I had read the book sooner as the story is compelling and scary. A perfect book for autumn and for Halloween.

The story is told primarily from the point of view of two 13 year-old boys, Jim Nightshade and William Halloway. They are in the cusp of leaving childhood and forever changed when Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show comes to town in autumn. It is unusual for a carnival to come so late in the year and the boys are excited. It comes when everyone is asleep at 3am in the morning but the boys watch it set up and are excited about it. As the story progresses though, it becomes clear the carnival is not at all what it seems to be. They see their teacher, Miss Foley, come out of the Mirror Maze in a panic. And later they see Mr. Cooger turned into a 12 year-old boy by riding the carousel backwards. Cooger then insinuates himself into Miss Foley’s house as a relative. Later when Cooger ages back on the carousel, Jim wants to hop on but Will accidently hits the breaker. The carousel spins out of control and Cooger grows very old. Ultimately he becomes a new act for the carnival when the boys return with the police, Mr. Electrico. Mr. Dark, aka the Illustrated Man for the many tattoos on his boy of the souls he has taken, realizes the two boys are a serious threat that must be dealt with.

The carnival is a façade, designed to ensnare the unwary to become either servants for Dark or to send them back home more miserable than before. Dark and his cohorts are the Autumn People. For them the calendar goes from September to October and stops after Halloween. They are locked perpetually in that world, much like a vampire is, neither going forward nor backward. Autumn, since it is the transition from summer to winter, is a melancholy period of leaves falling, cooler evenings and other things. And the Autumn People thrive during this period finding people who have lost the joy of living and replaced it with fears, guilt, and misery. Charles Holloway, Will’s father, is sad at being too old to play with his son. And he fears death. Those fears and many more draw Dark and his carnival to their dark harvest.

Dark seems to have all the power at his disposal as all evil villains do. He manages to capture the boys and nearly brings about Charles’ death until he realizes the one true power that will defeat Dark and his people: joy. It is interesting that in this battle between good and evil that it comes down to something simple. There is no waving of swords, chanting of magical phrases. Instead Charles realizes that the simple love he shares with his son gives him power over Dark. And once they realize he has that power, it truly frightens them. For it is the one thing that can truly kill them. Joy, laughter, happiness are the weapons against evil here and it shatters Dark and his carnival. Dark is killed by simple affection in the end.

The depiction of good versus evil is focused not on the spiritual but on how we allow our self-perceptions blind us to the joys of life. If we allow our miseries to cloud our outlook, it can blind us to the real evils that come knocking on our door. The lightning rod salesman wanted to meet a beautiful woman. He did and got turned into a dwarf to serve in the carnival with no memories of what he once was. Miss Foley was seduced by Cooger’s promise of youth that she failed to see he was not her nephew at all. Enjoying simple everyday joys counteract the bad things we have in our life.

With its skillful combination of fantasy and horror, this book is considered at the top of many horror lists. Ray Bradbury wrote a lot of books, many of them in the science fiction genre, but also wrote others outside of those parameters. It was made into a Disney film in 1983 and one of the rare dark movies made by them. While it differs in some ways from his book (Bradbury was involved with the movie), it gets the setting right and the basic story is there. The book though is far superior to it and recommended reading when you want a genuine spooky book that will entertain and delight. Unlike Stephen King, who frequently lambasts small towns in his books, the small town setting is exactly the right place for this story. And its story of good versus evil has never gone out of style.

Further Information
Ray Bradbury (Official Site)
Ray Bradbury Biography (Biography.com)
Something Wicked This Way Comes (Sparknotes)
Something Wicked This Way Comes (Goodreads)

Recent Titanic News

Titanic advertising from New York Times, 10 April 1912. Public Domain (Wikimedia)
Titanic advertising from New York Times, 10 April 1912.
Public Domain (Wikimedia)

1. Premier Exhibitions Asks Court For More Time To File Reorganization Plan (Bankruptcy Court News, 3 Oct 2016)
Premier Exhibitions has petitioned the court to allow it to extend the period to file a reorganization plan under Chapter 11 to 17 Jan 2017. “Under the circumstances of these cases, a premature termination of exclusivity would deny the Debtors a meaningful opportunity to negotiate and propose a confirmable plan and would be antithetical to the paramount objectives of Chapter 11. Termination of exclusivity at this point in time could have the undesirable effect of encouraging the development of competing multiple plans that could lead to unwarranted confrontations, litigation, and administrative expenses.” To cut to the chase of all the fancy legal wording, it means if they do not get the extended time other plans may emerge. Which sort of hints that there might be some other plan out there they want to head off.

2. For those on the Netflix service, your long wait has ended. James Cameron’s Titanic is coming to Netflix this month. At least for those in the U.S. Of course you could purchase it and never have to worry when it shows up on one of the online streaming services.

Haunted Graveyard Photo: Junior Libby (publicdomainpictures.net)
Haunted Graveyard
Photo: Junior Libby (publicdomainpictures.net)

3. It is officially Halloween season here at Titanic News Channel. Our staff is up for the occasion. The mummy has come out its sleeping chamber to render some scares to kids in the area. Our old friend Headless is planning his usual evening strolls with pumpkin in hand looking for someone’s head. A few fluttering ghosts have been seen as well. We have classic zombies (not the Romero version) wandering about as well and quite possibly Frankenstein and Count Dracula as well. The stores are well stocked with Halloween candy to the rafters. Sadly Halloween is on a Monday this year. And with all the political correctness nonsense, even saying Happy Halloween in some schools is not only discouraged but banned. All the more reason for many parents to band together, invite the little kids over, and have their own Halloween event.