It’s Halloween Time Again

Like many things today, pumpkins carving is a re-discoverd art that is reaching new heights
Contemporary pumpkin carving, Wikipedia

Always Evolving

Like many things today, pumpkins carving is a re-discovered art that is reaching new heights. No longer are we graced with just the toothy smile of a Jack O’Lantern, but instead, today’s pumpkin carvers have dedicated themselves to creating strange, eerie nocturnal scenes, like the one visible above.

My 2015 Halloween Rant

I can’t believe it’s Halloween time again. The frost may not yet be on the pumpkin because of global warming and the World Series may still be playing live on your flat screen TV, because of increased TV revenues, but the calendar actually says October 31, which means its All Hallows Eve, the night before All Saints Day. And to make things better for those who like to party on the evening proceeding All Saints Day, Halloween 2015 happens to fall on a Saturday.

Like everything else in America and the world, Halloween is changing. Of course, our world is changing too, so it not at all unexpected to see evidence of these changes on this popular holiday that occurs right before the popular Celtic holiday of All Saints Day. Evidence of these changes can be seen just by viewing the new array of costumes that are released every year right about this time.

A 2015 Halloween costume
A 2015 Halloween costume

On The Dark Side

This image represents some of the darker events of 2015
This image represents some of the darker events of 2015

Images like this one are all over the internet and it is not inconceivable that the recent transformation of this nation’s beloved Olympic star is not playing well among the general public. Perhaps this is just the tip of the iceberg or maybe just an overzealous outburst of the holiday season.

Halloween in Vegas

A carved Jack O’lantern celebrates Halloween, photo from Wikipedia by Jackins

Vegas

For some strange reason, Halloween this year has me down and out in the city of Las Vegas Nevada, though not so down and out that I couldn’t afford a cheap motel room for a week (Vegas has lots of good offers in that category) and a night out on the town on All Hallows Eve. (that was last night Oct. 31) For somebody in my position, the choice is not hard to make….Head straight to Fremont St. in the downtown area and check out all the free shows. This includes the live music shows on stage, the street performers, the light show that comes up every hour from 6 p.m. till midnight and the constant parade of costumed partygoers that roam up and down the wide avenue that has mostly become a pedestrian walkway. And if you get thirsty, you can always go inside and buy a cheap beer. Then there are always the ever-present slot machines, which could conceivably pay for your night out. They almost did for me, but even so I enjoyed the evening thoroughly.

Fremont street and its canopy during the daytime, photo from Wikipedia by Mikerussell

The Call

During my night out on the town, I had a lot to celebrate and think about. For during that very afternoon I had received an e-mail

from an interested agent about a screenplay I had written about a year and a half ago and circulated through an equerry service back in May. And the strangest thing about all of this was that the person had a physical address and phone number right here in Las Vegas (Did she know I was in town for a few days?). So without any ado and with much excitement, I e-mailed back a reply complete with a brand new synopsis that I had worked two hours on. Today, I received the bad news, a rather lengthy rejection on why she was passing. Still, the brief rush of excitement made my day and at the same time I was glad I had resisted the urge to contact her directly by phone or personal appearance. (It was very tempting)

Las Vegas today at dusk, photo from Wikipedia by Ville Miettinen

Do e-query services work?

 

I’ll address this issue in more detail later, but my first attempt at this much-frowned-on method of querying

yielded surprisingly good results. Though the inquiries were few and far between, I achieved what I hadn’t been able to do by querying on my own … and that is find some  legitimate insiders in the film business to read my screenplays. No offer of representation came with these readings, but my limited success was a big improvement from my own direct query efforts.

Happy Halloween

Carved Pumpkins
Carved pumpkins in Portland, Maine

It’s hard to believe that Halloween has already come and past. As I write this the midnight hour has already passed and all Saint’s Day has officially begun. That’s all Halloween is anyway the last day of the Celtic New Year. November 1 is the first day of the new year and Halloween is just a contraction from the phrase All Hallow’s Eve, the night before All Saint’s Day when lost or departed souls return for a visit. That is why food is often left out so as to appease the spirits on the one day when they are allowed to roam around their old haunts.

ghost costume
sexy ghost costume

I can’t believe how big a holiday Halloween has become even approaching Mardi Gras status in such places as Salem, Massachusetts and Austin, Texas. Here in Maine Halloween parties seem to be as popular as ever but I decided to spend the evening at home watching  appropriate videos.

My choice of movies included the Assasination of Jesse James, Millers Crossing and the delightful High Spirits, a fun tale that takes place in a fictional castle in Ireland on Halloween.

The Haunting
poster for the Haunting

I was presently surprised by High Spirits and enjoyed the fine performances by Peter O’Toole and Daryl Hannah. Not the deepest movie of all times but a fun spoof on ghosts and castles. The special effects were excellent and helped make the movie an enjoyable ride.

Midnight signifies another milestone for me. It is the now officially the 1st of November and I can start my NaNoWriMo novel. I think I will put off this literary endeavor until tomorrow during the day when I have more energy. Besides I don’t want all the ghosts and goblins looking over my shoulder while I writr my great American novel.

Pin up
Pin up for a Halloween Witch

Return To Salem

Storefront Window in Salem During Haunted Happenings
Storefront Window in Salem During Haunted Happenings

Funky Salem getting ready for Halloween on a rainy Tuesday on the day after Columbus Day. I came here on a mild October afternoon to kill some time before an evening educational event that I was suppose to attend in Boston. This storefront caught my attention and I suppose the colorful mood sets the tone for the craziness that this place sees in the weeks that lead up to the unique Celtic holiday of  All Saints’ Eve, more commonly known as Halloween.

However my main objective for the day was to view the Peabody Essex Art Museum. This I accomplished after laying down a hefty $15 fee and wandering through the huge halls and entranceway.

I have to say that I was not disappointed by my visit to the museum, and in fact I was quite enthralled by some of the exhibitions especially the collection of ship’s figureheads that were prominently displayed within the huge exhibition hall that made a good portion of the second floor.

Figureheads
Figureheads

Here is a picture of the figures that once adorned our fine sailing ships that ventured forth from places like Salem to scour the world in search of riches and fame. These particular wooden creations are some of the most intriguing creations that you will come  across and there position here in the grand hall will take your breath away.

Salem, Massachusetts besides being the site of the famous Witch Trials, which the town still prospers on, was also the home of one of the nation’s first noteworthy novelists, Nathaniel Hawthorne. Nathaniel worked in Salem during the early years of the nineteenth century as a customs clerk. You can still tour the building under the guidance of the National Park Service. At the cost of five dollars this is one of the best deals going for visitors to Salem. The original House of Seven Gables is also situated in town and that place is a good-sized tourist draw in its own rite.

But really makes Hawthorne so interesting is the fact that one of his grandfathers was a judge at the Salem Witch Trials, a dubious honor if there ever was one. The sentences, although somewhat popular at time of the trials , quickly became the subject of much debate, reconsideration and remorse. These last two factors became more important as time went on and may well have played a major role in sending Nathaniel Hawthorne on the road to becoming an important writer and novelist. A carefully chosen walk around town will verify this.

Halloween Masks In a Storefront Window
Halloween Masks In a Storefront Window

Spruce Up Your Blog With NASA Images

ISS Crew, Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Lab, JSC, NASA
Earth At Twilight credit: ISS Crew, Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Lab, JSC, NASA

 

There is a great website put up by  Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP) of NASA called Astronomy Picture of the Day. Everyday a fantastic picture is posted, concerning some sort of visual image from outer space. Sometimes the pictures are even taken from the ground with the naked eye. Other pictures are taken from huge telescopes, while some of the most spectacular images come from the Hubble and other spacecraft.

NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage  (STScI/AURA);
Spiral Galaxy NGC 3370 as seen from the hubble spacecraft, Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA);
Images from the NASA can sometimes be used on your blog or website as background graphics or simple images associated with text. Other pictures are copyrighted and one must contact the maker for permission. Since the pictures are all displayed by NASA, I do not see why permission would not be easily granted. Enclosed at the end of this post is a link to the image guidelines. Check out this next photo that was posted by NASA on Halloween 2006.
Adam Block, NOAO, AURA, NSF
SH2 136: A Spooky Nebula: Credit: Adam Block, NOAO, AURA, NSF
If you are interested in using NASA images on your web, here are the guidelines.

Salem, Massachusetts Is Haunted

A Mummy In Salem
A Mummy In Salem

I was in Salem last week just in time for

“haunted happenings” in October. These take place in October and the whole affair is like some sort of strange morf between Halloween and “The Salem Witch Trials”. Whatever the reasoning, the combination works, because people from Boston and all over New England come in droves to celebrate. Reportedly, the place gets very busy on weekends leading up to the “big day” or night actually, which falls on a Friday night. However, I was in town on Tuesday, so things were quiet, but still the town was all decked out for the “Night Before All Saints Day”, better known as Halloween. Still it was fun to wander around and check the place out. I had some business to attend to in Boston, so I left at 5 PM.

Instead of concentrating on the solemn history of the Witch Trials (more about that later) I headed for Derby Wharf and the
Salem Maritime Historic Site, where for five American dollars, I received a grand tour of the Friendship ( a three-masted square rigged ship) the Customs House (where Nathaniel Hawthorne once worked) and the Derby House, where the prosperous merchant lived. This part of Salem’s history is quite extensive, but usually overshadowed by the infamous Witch Trials.

Why we are so attracted to the macabre, I cannot say, but this is certainly the case here in Salem.

Inside the prosperous merchat's house in Salem, Massachusetts
Inside the prosperous merchant's house