Monday, September 26, 2016

Horrifying Vintage Kids

Remember when kids made their own costumes for
Hallowe'en? It was a simpler, safer, and more
innocent time...or so you'd think. Check out these
vintage creepy AF costumes. All I can say is few
things are as creepy as a pillowcase mask with jagged
holes ripped into it or a crudely hewn papier mache mask.

Strange Signals in September

As the story goes, in September 1953 in the town of Morecambe in Lancashire, England a specialist in the nascent technologies of broadcast television picked up an unusually long-distance transmission from Houston, TX. So, too, did others throughout England as they sat about their sets. The station identification placard for KLEE-TV was only up for a moment, but it struck them odd that such a signal could reach them from half a world away. Stranger still, when investigated, it came to be learned that this station had gone off the air three years prior. Where did the signal come from? Where had it been?

Apparently, it hadn't. It seems the whole thing was a hoax.

KPRC-TV in Houston received a letter and a photograph one day from England that read:

"Enclosed herewith is a photograph taken by an ordinary box camera of what I believe is your test signal received 3:50 p.m. 14 September 1953. It would be of great interest and help if you could be so kind as to confirm or deny by return mail that this is so and at the same time it would be of great help if you would endorse the back of the photograph and return. Your help in this matter would be much appreciated."

This baffled the staff since it was not only technologically improbable that a signal from Texas would ever reach England (to say nothing of incompatible natures of American and British TV technologies), but KPRC-TV had bought out KLEE-TV back in 1950, changing the call letters at that time. No one had seen a KLEE-TV identification broadcast since.

Hypotheses were trotted out. These included the possibility that English viewers had actually seen an advertisement for Kleenex that had perhaps become distorted. The BBC could neither confirm nor deny that the errant broadcast had occurred. This would have been enough ambiguity to give birth to an urban legend, but experts at the Chrysler Corporation determined the image was authentic and that was all the burning bush anyone needed to pass the tale on as gospel.

But there are problems with the tale. KPRC-TV, for one, received only one copy of what appeared to be a form letter. Similar letters were sent out to stations all over that included these photographs of various station identification cards showing their call letters
. These were sometimes close to but just different enough from the actual cards broadcast by the station that those in the know were suspicious from the start.

In corresponding back, KPRC-TV learned that a hoax was afoot to sell the English on a new type of television that could pull broadcasts from all over the world. To prove this, the hoaxers played various faked call signs from stations in the USA, South America, and even in Russia (all in English, of course) through their sets and encouraged viewers to take pictures as proof and verify themselves that these call letters were real. And this, so the explanation states, is where the letters came from.

But is this the truth? Letters were received, true, but the seemed to be strikingly similar, according to reports, thus bolstering the "form letter" hypothesis that these letters all came from the same source. Was there ever actually a scam to sell these exceptional TV sets that could retrieve signals from all over the globe? Or was that another lay of a more complicated hoax?

It's not hard to see why the legend endures, given that even the supposed known facts aren't much more solid than the hearsay of the original tale.
"Unexplained Mysteries of the 20th Century," Janet and Colin Bord

Monday, February 29, 2016

Nemeta: Sacred Sites of the Ancient Celts

C. Hudson, 2016"No bird nested in the Nemeton, nor did any animal lurk nearby; the leaves constantly shivered though no breeze stirred. Altars stood in its midst, and the images of the gods. Every tree was stained with sacrificial blood. the very earth groaned, dead yews revived; unconsumed trees were surrounded with flame, and huge serpents twined round the oaks. The people feared to approach the grove, and even the priests [druids] would not walk there at midday or midnight lest he should then meet its divine guardian." -- Lucan, Pharsalia

To the Celtic peoples, Nemeta were sacred places, often a copse or rock outcropping, utilized for ritual purposes. The goddess Nemetona was the divine guardian that Lucan spoke of. Given that even Romans such as Marcus Aurelius allied her with the war god Mars, it can be concluded that she was seen as fearful indeed.

These Nemeta can be found in Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, and in the UK and Ireland.
The Nemeton derives its name from the Latin nemus (plural: nemora), meaning forest or woods. The related word, Lucus, refers specifically to a sacred grove.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Lunacy of Lost 'London'

The famous lost Lon Chaney film, "London After Midnight" (aka "The Hypnotist") was said to be the driving force behind the murder of Julia Mangan in London's Hyde Park in October of 1928.

The killer, a Welsh carpenter named Robert Williams, believed that Chaney's unnerving depiction of a near-supernatural killer in the film had driven him insane. It was reported that Williams could see Chaney in a corner, shouting and making faces at him and that he felt as if steam were coming out of his own ears.

Williams seemed to think he had been set into a dissociative
state by this apparition because he could not remember pulling a razor from his pocket and slitting Mangan's throat or attempting then to take his own life.

The defense attempted to pin his unhinging on the disturbing visage Chaney donned for his character in London After Midnight, but the jury didn't buy it: They sentenced Williams to death on January 10, 1929.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Blue Man

Someone I know recently shared a strange encounter he had at a Walmart in Texas (I know, I know...narrow it down, right?) that left him a bit bewildered and somewhat unsettled.

An elderly man in sunglasses spotted him from across the crowded store, and seeing him leaving, somehow managed to beat him outside where he cornered my friend and began speaking to him as if the two had been long time pals. The elderly man proceeded to harangue him on myriad topics, including politics. However, the man seemed to have no specific information upon which to talk, forming instead a Dadaist rant that left my friend unnerved. To be fair, much of his discomfort stemmed from the fact the old stranger was... Well, he was blue. His skin was blue.

After several minutes of this rambling conversation, my friend managed to extricate himself from the situation and the elderly blue gentleman drove off in his Cadillac.

So my friend asks me if I had ever heard of people with blue skin. As it turns out, I have.

Methemoglobinemia is a rare condition (often genetic) that occurs when there is too much methemoglobin in the blood, a situation that can leave the skin with a bluish cast. On a fairly pale skinned individual, this would likely present as a striking blue shade.

A 19th Century Kentucky family, known as the "Blue Fugates" were a famous example of this oft-heriditary condition. And in 1942, the "Blue Men of Lurgan" were treated by Irish doctor, James Deeny.

Still, this doesn't explain the other weird aspects of my friends own blue man encounter that left him disturbed.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Crete's Petrified Monsters

Agii Theodori, the petrified monsters, are two small islands off the coast of Crete. Legend tells that long ago these islands didn't exist. A sea monster and its baby were coming to attack the villagers who prayed to the Virgin Mary and to St. George to spare them. Then a miracle occurred and the monsters were petrified into stone, thus forming these two small islands.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Detroit Ghost City

Check out this haunting documentary about the spirits that haunt Detroit, MI, a city that is fast becoming America's haunted house.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Strange Travels: Greece, Turkey, Croatia (Part I)

I recently returned from visiting Turkey, Greece, and Croatia.  As always, I collected stories along the way as I visited ancient Greek and Roman ruins, Byzantine palaces, historic mosques, and more. Some of the strangest are as follows.

Daksa Island, in the Adriadic, lies within swimming distance of the Croatian city of Dubrovnik. The island's haunted reputation arises from a legend about 48 presumed Nazi collaborators that were executed without trial on the uninhabited island at the close of World War II.

Also close to shore is the neighboring island of Lokrum, which has its own dark legends. The curse, they call it, befell the island when occupying French forces ordered a 13th century monastery on the island to be shuttered. The Benedictines who were removed leveled a curse against anyone claiming ownership of the small island. It seemed to work almost immediately, three of the aristocrats who colluded with the Benedictine expulsion met with untimely deaths shortly thereafter. A wealthy seaman, Captain Tomaševic, took over the island next and it nearly bankrupted him. The Archduke Maximilian, the younger brother of the Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph I, took up residency next, restoring the monastery as a home for he and his wife. The idyllic sanctuary was shattered when Maximilian was sent to Mexico in 1864 as governor. He was shot to death less than 3 years later. After the city of Dubrovnik refused to purchase the island--even for an extremely paltry sum--a man named Dujmovic from Poljica purchased Lokrum and scandalously met economic ruin soon after. His nephew soon inherited the island, but he drowned crossing the short distance from the shore to the island when his boat capsized in a strong wind. Once more the Hapsburg's took control off the island. Rudolf, the remaining son of Emperor Francis Joseph I and his bride Elizabeth, visited the tiny island with the big curse with his wife Stefani. Legend tells that a small earthquake shook the region the moment they stepped ashore. While initially a blissful tenure, things grew darker when Rudolf fell in love with his mistress Maria Vecer and, for reasons unexplained, they took their lives in a double suicide. Empress Elizabeth decided they needed to be rid of the accursed island and so she sailed from her palace on Corfu to offer a large sum of money to the Benedictines if they took the island back. But the brotherhood stood firm on their decree to never return to the island. So, the family offered the island to the Dominicans with the provision that the Hapsburg family could repurchase the island if they so chose to. And they did. The granddaughter of Francis Joseph I, Princess Elizabeth Windischgratz, purchased Lokrum in 1879. But the title wasn't transferred immediately. When it was finally put down into the family name again, tragedy struck. Empress Elizabeth left her palace on Corfu to return to Geneva when she was shot and killed by an Italian anarchist named Lucceni. The mishaps for the Hapsburgs are legendary, including Archduke Francis Ferdinand whose assassination kicked off the first World War. But legend tells that the island's curse is still palpable and that many non-famous or historical persons have fallen to it. Few, they say, have stayed long of the cursed island of Lokrum.

In the summer of 1969, a rain of frogs fell on the city of Istanbul. Famed anomalist Charles Fort collected many such accounts of "falls," as they're termed. Some may be explained by weather anomalies, but other far more unusual reportings are harder to rationalize.

Some say the famous Empress Elizabeth of Bavaria still walks the halls of her Achillion Palace on the island of Corfu.
On the Greek island of Crete, at a 14th century Venetian fortress known as Frangokastello, the Drosoulites come each year. These "Dew People," so named for their arrival with the morning dew, are shadow wraiths that ride horses and walk with weapons like a phantom army from the monastery at Agios Charalambos to Frangokastello. Legend has it that these are the Greeks who died in the battle of May 17, 1828.  In 1890, Turkish soldiers fled in fear at the sight of the Drosoulites. In World War I, German soldiers opened fire when they mistook the spirits for enemy soldiers. Imagine their surprise at learning the truth.

It's believed the ancient Roman spirits-lares and lemures-that once reigned over the palace of Diocletian in Split, Croatia still skulk about in the shadows.

Some believe that Istanbul's Grand Bazaar--one of the largest and oldest shopping centers--is not only haunted but built around a portal leading to another dimension, doubtlessly some evil one.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

London's Crime Museum Opens To The Public

Long shuttered away, the Museum of London's Crime Museum was once set up to train police and forensic officers. Now anyone can get a glimpse of these famous mementos of notorious crimes: masks used by the Stratton brothers, Champagne belonging to the Great Train Robbers, implements of forgery, secret Soviet spy messages, handwritten notes written by Donald Swanson, Senior Investigating Officer on the Jack the Ripper case... The list goes on.

Find out more at the Museum of London's website.

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Gathering Of Ghosts

The story centers around this 1868
courthouse, which was demolished
in 1927 and replaced by the County's
newer Art Deco structure.
A story that ran in the mid-January papers of 1896 tells the weird tale of phantom footprints at a courthouse in Kokomo, IN. It seems officers who entered the well-secured building discovered the distinct footprints of a woman that traveled down the halls, up the stairs, and into locked rooms. The earliest reports of this manifestation began not long after the acquittal of a man for the murder of a young woman named Stansifer. Many came to believe these ghostly footsteps were her own as she trudged nightly on a sorrowful sojourn.

Nezperce in 1911
In the winter of 1906, a ghostly apparition stalked the dark streets of Nezperce, Idaho. C. W. Felt was the first to spot her. He was mocked for reporting a spectral woman in black whose face was obscured by a scarf walking silently through the dark streets, sometimes standing stark still for long stretches. But the laughter died off as others began to spot her as well. Young Mike O'Conner spotted her in an alley between two downtown buildings; John Olson was disturbed to find her standing in front of her home for more than two hours. Many of the sightings, some noted, occurred within the vicinity of John Muir's home. Muir had hanged himself on January 1, 1905--a year prior to the phantom woman's arrival.

Farmhand, Henry Lipenstick, disappeared in 1915 from a farm in Painesville, OH. Over the years following, that farm saw bad times: repeated crop failures, a house fire, and an inability to maintain any tenants. Locals blamed it on the ghost. It's probably the ghost that Carl Logies encountered when he purchased the land in 1921. Whenever Carl went to the barn, he would spot a white wraith. Disturbed, but not entirely put out, Carl followed the wraith with his gun on numerous occasions. The apparition always vanished in the vicinity of an old well. Finally, Carl decided to clean out the rock and debris that had been tossed down into the well. That's when he discovered the body of Henry Lipenstick. Once the Sheriff was called, it wasn't long before the dots were connected and a tenant from 7 years before, Frank Lemon, was in jail awaiting grand jury charges of murder.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Ghost Caught on Film?

What is seen here in this close up of an empty sanctuary defies explanation.

The image was shot last summer at an old gothic revival church in Oklahoma City. The lighting was too dark for a proper shot of the transept, but the brightly lit sanctuary beyond prevented the flash from firing. This caused the camera to automatically adjust to a slower shutter speed, hence the motion blurring seen here. However, the remarkable thing was the sanctuary was completely vacant at the time.
Blown up, it has the appearance of a woman in a blue, short-sleeve blouse.  Upon interviewing church members, it was learned there was once a woman who fit this description at the church. She frequently sat in those pews until she died in the 1980s.  Subsequent exploration of the area, the image's EXIF data, and the camera could provide no explanations. No other photos emerged with this anomaly present (and one was taken a scant second later without said figure).
An on-location investigation was conducted that brought up some anomalies (pipe smoke in an area where someone who smoked a pipe could be found; the sound of a large group of people talking was heard in the sanctuary as coming from the fellowship hall in the basement, but an investigator in the hall heard nothing; furtive figures glimpsed in choir lofts, etc.)

Gothic Church of the Soul's Dark Night

There is a mournful funeral gathering in a gothic church beneath high vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows and finely crafted wooden paneling and fixtures.  The Celtic cross high atop the looming entrance along with its stained glass window, sets the right feel as mourners and casket leave while a stranger utters grim warnings.... 
In November of 2005, an Oklahoma City newspaper article informed citizens that a film would need extras for various scenes.[1] There was an intriguing list of roles from bar patrons to strange robed cult members.  A few days later another article appeared explaining that a horror film would be using locations in Oklahoma City and nearby Guthrie.[2]  One of those settings, the church described above and seen in the trailer, was Wesley United Methodist Church.  [3]  So, in 2005, the church became one of two Oklahoma locations for SOUL'S MIDNIGHT.


 The church, located at NW 25th and Classen Boulevard, had been founded in 1910 as the Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church, North.  The impressive pure English Gothic sanctuary with its numerous stained glass windows had been built in 1928.  Inside the sanctuary, which is classic cruciform in shape, are hanging lights, classic exposed ceiling beams, over 800 uses of the Gothic arch.   The original wood pews, railings and paneling remain and are a dark rich walnut tone.[4] Little wonder the movie producers wanted to use the location for setting just the right gothic tone.  
In fact, some members of Wesley did participate as extras playing mourners and mad cult members.  Several can be seen in the funeral scene inside the church and then again as they loaded the casket into the hearse at the curb.  They remember the experience as very thrilling, intensively fun and very interesting.   It was also somewhat controversial with members if the “establishment”. [5] That, however, merely added to the mélange of the strange of the story.  Controversy stemmed from using a church for such a secular activity with such a demonic inspired storyline.
Soul's Midnight (2006) was produced by Brothers Cleveland Productions and Graymark Productions in association with Image Entertainment, with executive producer Gray Frederickson (The Godfather). It was directed by Harry Basil (4th Tenor, Funky Monkey, Fingerprints).    The tale of Gothic vampires, ancient ritual cults and supernatural menace was written by Brian Cleveland and Jason Cleveland.  Cast included international film star Armand Assante (Odysseus, The Mambo Kings) who is both an Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner.  He is also well known as a Global Landmine Activist seeking to remove this danger and save lives. 

Also featured were Robert Floyd (Sliders, Godzilla) , Lucila Sola (Pride and Prejudice) , Miguel Perez ( Ocean’s 11, Blow, Million Dollar Baby), Elizabeth Ann Bennet (Liberty Heights, The Passing) and Joe Nipote (Viper, Casper).  Music was supplied by Ceiri Torjussen (The Canal, Scary Movie ii, Devil’s Dozen).   [6]
Although not considered great horror cinema, the film is entertaining and plays well with the classic symbols and motifs of the vampire mythology. Its low budget and flat story line seem to be the most commented on aspects.  Horror films, however, seldom rise to the levels of academy award level content or technique.  This one is one presents a more than capable cast with a not too bad a script and the result is an enjoyable time in unique slant on a horror theme.
As a smaller, independent film it can be entertaining and especially so for anyone with ties to the Oklahoma City and Guthrie areas.  Especially, to those with ties to the historic church at NW 25 and Classen.  Obviously inspired as much by Anne Rice as Bram Stoker the film is a fun addition to anyone’s collection of vampire films, Oklahoma City films, and the odd and the quirky.  Just another in a series of what makes Oklahoma a little strange.
See IMDB listing here.

[1] “Company Seeks Extras for Film” Oklahoman (Nov. 4, 2005).
[2] “Company Film Next Project in State.” (Nov. 11, 2005).
[4]  Marilyn A. Hudson, The Windows of Wesley (Whorl Books, 2014).
[5]  Interviews with extras, June 23-24, 2014
 --c Marilyn A. Hudson, 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015

European Bigfoot? Neanderthal legends?

Artist's depiction of a basajaun and its female companion, a basandere.

In Basque mythology, Basajaun (plural: basajaunak) is a huge, hairy hominid dwelling in the woods. They were thought to build megaliths, protect flocks of livestock, and teach skills such as agriculture and ironworking to humans. ---- Wikipedia

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sinister Summer Travels: Texas Missions

When one thinks of colonial Spanish missions, we often picture those famous churches and presidios of California, but truth is the Spanish had missions all over New Spain.  Many of these were located in the vast expanse of present-day Texas, not the least of which is Misión San Antonio de Valero (aka The Alamo).

If you're road-tripping through Texas this summer, you'll find a number of these extant missions to also be delightfully haunted.

Mision San Antonio de Valero (The Alamo)- San Antonio, TX - Est. 1718. Phantom re-enactments of the famous Battle at the Alamo occur as well as soldiers, emerging from the walls at night. Ghostly monks have been witnessed as well. A nightly watch of the walls where the ghosts were said to emerge was conducted with no noticeable activity.

Trailing south of San Antonio are four 18th-century missions legend says are haunted. Mission San Jose has tales of an oft-headless priest, while a creature resembling a wolf and a disquiet native american man have been spotted at San Francisco de la Espada. Another native man has been seen at San Juan de Capistrano. At Mission Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña, the least restored of the four, phantom soldiers have been spotted and heard from time to time.

Presidio Nuestra Señora de Loreto de la Bahía, has seen six wars and countless battles. Spanish, Mexican and Texas soldiers are all claimed to still walk within the stone walls of this fortified mission at the heart of Goliad. Some were executed by Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna on Palm Sunday 1836. Other apparitions include a short priest who seems to shuffle listlessly about the churchyard. Others have reported spotting the ghost of a young woman praying in the chapel.

These are just a sampling of the many missions established in Texas between 1689 and 1789.  Many of these may be haunted, but finding their stories can be harder. If you visit any of these extant missions (or even the archaeological ruins of those long-gone), be sure to ask about the haunted history. I would love to hear what stories you might uncover.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sinister Summer Travels: Florida

It's summer! For many, this means cookouts, pool time, and vacations. If you're hitting the road or jetting about this summer, here are some dark destinations for when you need a break from are-we-there-yets and the endless queues and din of theme parks...

Florida may be the Sunshine State, but that just means it casts a lot of shadows. Visitors to Bradenton Beach report witnessing some of these shadows walking along the beach around sunset near the Curry House, which was built in 1901 and then torn down in 2004. The stretch of sand nearby, however, still seems permeated with disquiet souls like a woman who appears to have drowned as well as a young boy and his dog.

That state's famous Key West purportedly gains its name from a misunderstanding. Originally, the Spanish called the isle Cayo Hueso (Bone Key) for the many bones they found there. It seems the pre-Columbian Calusa people used the isle as a graveyard. Upon this supernaturally saturated soil, centuries of violence and tragedy have accumulated like barnacles on the hull of a derelict ship. A ghostly figure stalks the building now housing Key West's Hard Rock Cafe; a mysterious, demon-possessed doll hangs about the East Martello museum; and the oldest bar in America, Captain Tony's, was the site of a mass hanging (75 people).

Daytona Beach's Boot Hill Saloon is rumored to be haunted by the disquiet souls of the many bikers who called the bar home over the years. Objects move by themselves and an unplugged jukebox has played tunes.

Now a realty office, the Longwood Village Inn first opened its doors in 1923. Many believe it to be haunted by the ghost of its original owner who died there. Cold spots let you know he is near. The spectral giggles of ghost children have been heard time and again as well.

In Rockledge, a restaurant called Ashley's is rumored to be haunted by a woman named Ethel Allen who was murdered and dumped nearby on the shores of the Indian river in 1934. She is thought to have been an employee when the establishment was known as Jack's Tavern. Witnesses describe hearing a woman's soft, whispered voice when the restaurant is empty. Objects placed in one location upon closing will be found to have moved by the next morning.

Tampa's Ybor City neighborhood is the location of the storied Cuban Club where elevators move of their own accord and a piano can be heard tinkling with no player seen. The nearby Tampa Theatre has been known to show movies when the building is closed.

The former Ringling Estate in Sarasota, FL is haunted by an entire sideshow of spooks. Now a school for art and design, many students have spotted a flapper-era woman, dubbed Mary, glaring at them from a second storey window in what was once a famous hotel. The legend says Mary fell for a traveling salesman who wanted nothing to do with her. In her despair, she hanged herself from the stair rail on the second floor.

St. Augustine's famously haunted lighthouse shouldn't be missed either. The ghosts include, its chief architect, one of its keepers, and the two young daughters of Hesekiah Pity, a keeper from the 1800s.

Clermont, in the shadow of Disney World, is home to the Harden House (486 W
Osceola Street), named for Jown W. Harden who was murdered in his backyard in 1975. The killer was never caught, and some say Harden has never left. Even his own wife claimed to have seen him roaming the house.

Interstate 4, where it crosses Lake Monroe, is said to be cursed. Over 2,000 accidents have occurred here since 1963 and many blame it on a legend that several graves were paved over to make the road. Moreover, ghostly motorcyclists have been spotted as well.

In Ocklawaha, you can find Ma Barker's house. The notorious outlaw and her equally villainous son were gunned down by the FBI in 1935. It's believed that she walks there still.