Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Legend of the Scarecrow

Well, the long-awaited day is almost here; Halloween that is, and I'd been wondering what type of post I'd like to make for the grand occasion. Just a few days ago, I stumbled upon the answer.

While checking out a new band discovery on YouTube, I found the following short film, which was released in 2005. Written and directed by Marco Besas, this video tells the story of a lonely personality who spends his entire existence working in the wheat fields; that is, until tragedy strikes unexpectedly. Although the short film is not exactly about Halloween, I think it fits in with our most favorite of days (and nights) magnificently.

So then, I present to you, The Legend of the Scarecrow with a musical soundtrack provided by the Spanish death/doom band, Evadne. May this All Hallows Eve be your spookiest ever and may it fulfill your darkest dreams and desires.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Look Who I Found!

Yesterday, I decided to make my yearly pilgrimage to the local Halloween Express. No sooner had I walked in the door than I found this guy lurking in the corner. Why it's the Vampire Lestat, I thought to myself. I wonder how he'd like hanging out at my place this Halloween!  

As far as I can tell, he's enjoying it just fine. After all, what self-respecting vampire doesn't enjoy keeping watch over cemeteries?. The interesting thing about his marionette is how closely it resembles Tom Cruise's characterization of Anne Rice's most popular creature of the night. . 

After this year's All Hallows Eve passes I'll find him a nice spot inside the cottage somewhere. I'm sure he'll enjoy spending time with my other creepy friends..I sure do love Halloween!  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Outfit Post

As I've mentioned before, I really don't like photos of myself and am quite modest about letting other people see them. Several months ago, I was interviewed by a local TV channel about some storm damage that occurred to the wall encircling the Confederate Cemetery. Other than for locating that video for a friend, I otherwise refused to even look at it. That's the way I am with photos of myself. 

That said, one of my readers requested an outfit post after I posted my story about the combat boots I had acquired. Since I requested reader's feedback on the wisdom of buying boots that are too large for my feet, I feel it only fair to grant her request by offering a picture or two of me wearing the footwear. That way, you all can see if they match with my body size or whatever. So without further ado...

A side view looking at the camera. That is part of the Confederate Cemetery in the background, incidentally.

And a frontal shot. I know it's hard to get a good look at the boots in these photos but hopefully, they are visible enough to show how they look on me. By the way, the t-shirt, which comes out of the Anne Stokes art collection and is entitled Await the Night, was purchased through Black Rose
out of London. I've gotten several items and really feel that they have some of the best t-shirt collections around.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Restoration Complete

This past Sunday the contractor overseeing the Walker Cemetery restoration project pulled up in front of the burial ground. When I walked over to talk with him he informed me that the work would be finished within a day or two. I knew they were awfully close. To me, it was just a matter of when they got back to finish up. By midday on Monday, the workers drove off for the last time. After some five months of on-again off-again bursts of impressive craftsmanship, the graveyard has been completely restored--and in a way that allowed it to gain acceptance on the National Register of Historic Places, which occurred about three weeks ago.  So then, the following should be the last in a series of photos I've taken to document the project's progress.

This is the marker for Rebecca Washington's final resting place. If you look closely, you should be able to see where the application of new concrete was used to re-seal the monument back together. Before work began the upper portion had completely separated from the main body of the marker. Workers later separated the base from the higher, thinner section and refortified it.

     These are the crypts belonging to two young children that were interned here long ago.The cover pictured on the left was in a state of total disarray before restoration began. I wondered how the workers would ever manage to properly fit the pieces of that jigsaw puzzle back together; but they did. If you get close enough you can even make out some of the original lettering that lined the cover. It's hard to read, not because the workers didn't do a good job, but due to the effects of wind and rain over the decades.  You can go here to get a better look at how these looked before work began.

This is where Jacob Wythe Walker is interred. The crypt's cover was obviously broken in pieces as was the portion of the brick wall shown here on the far right.

In a manner similar to that of Rebecca Washington's, Captain Jack Walker's monument was fused back together. The marker is no longer leaning to one side either.

Alas, all is as it should be in this tiny but historic graveyard. As the first of autumn's colorful leaves begin falling to the ground, this final resting place for some of Fayetteville's most prominent early settlers takes on a rustic feel.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Story of the Jack O' Lantern

The air here in the Ozark Mountains has been crisp of late--unusually so for early October and cloudy weather is beginning to linger for days on end before it finally makes way for an ever diminishing supply of sunlight, both in intensity and duration. Autumn's gloom is slowly descending upon the hilly landscape; and although the foliage is still mostly green, a few patches of red, orange and gold are beginning to appear in the trees. A few colorful members of this season's leafy bounty have already performed their death dance; that graceful and swirling ballet that takes place on the breath of the wind when the months-long connection to the mother tree is finally broken--when her children must fall to the ground--the ultimate sacrifice to the Earth from which they came.

 When occurrences such as these begin to transpire it can only mean one thing: Halloween is approaching and soon the glowing faces of Jack O' Lanterns will be staring out at us from front porches and steps everywhere. Have you ever wondered how the tradition of carving pumpkins into Jack O' Lanterns began? Have you ever heard Jack's story--the one derived from folklore? If not, continue reading; for nothing is more synonymous with the celebration of All Hallows Eve than the fiery persona of the Jack O' Lantern.

As the tale goes Jack lived many years ago in the Ireland of old. He was well known as a quick-tempered drunk Apparently, he was quite the trickster as well. One year, on the night of All Hallows Eve, Jack had gotten himself quite intoxicated at the local pub when suddenly, the Devil appeared to claim his soul. Not wanting his earthly life to end, Jack pleaded with Lucifer to allow him just one more drink before claiming his prize. Once he received the Devil's agreement, Jack announced that he was short on money and asked his dark companion if he would assume the shape of a sixpence so that he could pay the bartender for his final drink. Again, Lucifer agreed. Once he had assumed the shape of the coin however, Jack quickly placed him inside his wallet, which just happened to be equipped with a cross-shaped latch, thus imprisoning the angel who had come to claim his soul. Filled with anger, the Devil screamed, demanding that Jack release him immediately. Now in the driver's seat, so to speak, the clever man told Lucifer that he would release him from the wallet only if he would agree to prolong the claiming of his soul for a full year. Not in a position to refuse Jack's terms, Lucifer agreed and was immediately released.

Grateful for another full year of life ahead of him Jack mended his ways and for awhile at least, became a responsible member of his family and even gave to charity. Over time however, he slipped back into his old ways; and on the following All Hallows Eve, the Devil reappeared as he was making his way home. Demanding that Jack accompany him at once, the man convinced Lucifer to first pick an apple from a nearby tree. Once the evil one had climbed up however, Jack quickly carved the shape of a cross into the bark of the tree, imprisoning his tormentor anew. As before, the Devil demanded his immediate release and in exchange, told the man that he would not come to claim his soul for another ten years. As terms of release the man insisted that Lucifer never bother him again; and after all was said and done, the Devil had no choice but to acquiesce. After that, Jack continued on with his less than honorable lifestyle and was never bothered by the dark angel again.

About a year later Jack's body, no longer able to keep up with his unhealthy lifestyle, gave out and the quick tempered drunkard died. First Jack attempted to pass through the heavenly gates but was barred from entering because of his meanness. Next, he tried to enter Hell but the Devil, still angry because of the embarrassment he suffered due to the man's trickery, refused him entry into the fiery inferno. He did however, toss Jack one burning coal from Hell's eternal fire to help him find his way through the eternal darkness of limbo. Jack placed the ember inside a turnip, which in turn became known as a Jack O' Lantern. It is said that even now on All Hallows Eve you can still see Jack's fire burning as he searches for a place to call home.

It's interesting to note that the original Jack O' Lanterns were made from turnips. It was only when Irish immigrants came to North America that pumpkins, which are much larger and better suited for the job, became a replacement.         

Photo courtesy of Free Stock Photos.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

End of Another Era

Most Nightwish fans are likely, familiar with the DVD entitled End of an Era, which is a recording of a concert the band performed at Hartwall Areena in Helsinki on October 21, 2005. It was the final concert of a world tour and the last time that group founding member and vocalist extraordinaire Tarja Turunen, performed as a member of Nightwish. The DVD's title is more than appropriate as Tarja's talents were a crucial part of the group's success. Her departure certainly did mark the end of an era, and it must have been difficult to find someone who capable of taking her place.

Eventually, the guys chose Anette Olzon, a Swedish vocalist who has performed with several different bands. Although not an operatic singer, as is Tarja, Anette brought a very soulful flavor to the group's sound and has a talent for making songs that Tarja originally performed her own.  

The first album featuring the voice of Anette Olzen was released in 2007. Dark Passion Play brought the troupe back into the forefront and demonstrated that, with Anette's efforts, Nightwish would not be relegated to the annals of rock n' roll history. 

On November 30, 2011, the group released an album I can only refer to as a masterpiece. When I listen to Imaginaerum, I feel like I'm engulfing myself in a 74-minute classical music piece as opposed to a collection of songs put on a CD. Anette absolutely shines on that album; and after first listening to it, I came to the conclusion that she fully had integrated into the group and had earned her rightful place as a contributor to the genius that is Nightwish--and then this afternoon happened!

I was watching a live performance from their appearance at the Masters of Rock Festival, which took place earlier this year. For whatever reason, I decided to quickly read up on Anette; so I opened another tab and went to Wikipedia. Imagine my shock when they described her as "the former lead vocalist of Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish."  

This has got to be some type of Wikipedia screwup, I thought to myself. How could it not be? After all, they're touring and will be playing in nearby Oklahoma City in a few days. I went to the group's website and found the following press release: 

"Another chapter of the Nightwish story has ended today. Nightwish and Anette Olzon have decided to part company, in mutual understanding, for the good of all parties involved.

"In recent times it has become increasingly obvious that the direction and the needs of the band were in conflict, and this has led to a division from which we cannot recover.

"Nightwish has no intention of cancelling any upcoming shows, and as a result we have decided to bring in a substitute vocalist starting in Seattle 1.10.2012. Her name is Floor Jansen from The Netherlands (ex-After Forever, ReVamp), and she has graciously stepped in to help us complete the Imaginaerum world tour.

"We are all strongly committed to this journey, this vehicle of spirit, and we are sure that this will lead to a brighter future for everyone.

"We forever remain excited about the adventures to come, and we are extremely proud of the two beautiful albums and the wonderful shows we shared together."

- NIGHTWISH & Anette Olzon

I'm glad that Nightwish is continuing with it's world tour and Floor Jansen is an excellent choice as a fill in. Still, I really feel sick at heart tonight. Good bye Anette! No matter what happens next, you will be missed.