Friday, September 30, 2011

October is coming! Hopeful summer will disappear with September.

   I for one am getting tired of 88 degree weather. Sweating bullets while hanging up scarecrows is not a fond fall memory. Looks like we are going to be getting more fall like temperatures in the area over the weeKEnD. This will do wonders for the fall foliage as well as my Halloween spirit. I hope that summer is dead and does not come crawling back like some shambling, humid undead thing. With luck, the Halloween spirits will see that all things summer are gone.

   We have a wicKED weeKEnD planned. Building coffins, corpsing ground breakers, finishing with decorations, watching some scary movies, and maybe getting out to a haunted attraction or two. There are bunches opening up in our local neck of the woods so there is no excuse for everybody to get out and get in a Halloween mood! You can find a listing of all local haunts on my Local Haunted Attractions Page. There you will find directions, prices, times, dates and other useful information about your favorite spooky spots.

   The list of haunts that are open this weeKEnD are :

  • Backwoods Haunted House
  • The Haunted Park
  • Fender Farm's Insane Inn and Haunted Maze
  • The Haunted Appalachian Caverns
  • Stickley Farm's Haunted Event
  • Frightmare Manor
  • Beck Mountain Haunted Corn Maze
  • The Haunted Auction House and Corn Maze
  • A Haunting on Wood Avenue
   I think I may head back down to see A Haunting on Wood Avenue tonight. Make plans to do the same if you want to see a great haunt this weeKEnD!

The wicKED sneak peak tour video of A Haunting on Wood Avenue

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Haunting on Wood Avenue welcomes the wicKED.

    I was having a Wretched Wednesday, just wiring a skeleton up to the pond, when my phone beeped. Seemed I had just received an anonymous, and somewhat foreboding, invite to witness the first practice run of "A Haunting on Wood Avenue". This local attraction is being ran by the Big Stone Gap Volunteer Fire Department, which is the first big scale haunted house I was ever able to help in (some 20ish years ago). Of course I jumped at the chance.
   After a couple of quick calls to verify times and if I could bring camera equipment, I was all set to get a sneak peek at one of the first haunted houses in Big Stone Gap. I was greatly honored by the invite.

   Miranda and I arrived at at the scene at around 8:30pm. The location the haunt occupies is in the old Westmoreland building on (you guessed it) Wood Ave in downtown Big Stone. The stone structure of the building is creepy in and of itself.
   We found a flurry of firemen and other volunteers working furiously to prep for the first practice run of 2011. One thing about firemen, they are organized. I kept hearing voices crackle over the walkies they were all carrying, asking for duct tape or where a fuse panel was. It was a promising sign to me. These guys were passionate about putting on a good old fashion haunt and it showed.
   The suspense kept building as we could hear voices over the walkies naming off rooms like. "the swamp" and "the clown room". Finally, the word came down that the haunt was ready for it's fist victims... er... customers.
   We were told they would only take 5 or less in at a time. I was glad to hear that. So often greedy haunters will bring in groups of 12 or more and by the time the first 6 are scared, the room you walked through is over and you miss out on the whole thing. Seeing how there was 8 of us waiting to go through, we opted to go second. That way we could gauge the reactions of the 3 young girls in the first group as they came out. We were not disappointed by this decision.

   It was our turn to go through. I graciously allowed Miranda to lead the way as I stayed in back and tried to catch as much as I could with a video camera.
   I wasn't able to get too much on video for 3 reasons:
  1. It was dark and my mini DV was not built for this.
  2. The rooms had some startling things going on and I would miss or forget to film. 
  3. I don't want to give away all their secrets. There was some great things in this haunt that I just did not include for the sake of the surprise.
   I was really impressed with the production. Especially since this was the very first practice and it was run by a (pardon the pun) Skeletal Crew! I cannot imagine how it will be when they get into the swing of things and get more bodies in the building. 
   The haunt group was kind enough to allow me to go back and take some still shots of various rooms after our initial walkthrough. Without giving too much away, here are some of the highlights of the haunt you can look forward to :
  • Lost souls crying out in confusion and asking for help throughout the haunt. 

  • Startling lighting effects as things appear and disappear as you wait to enter.

  • Each room has it's own musical/sound effect track. This really lends to the atmosphere of each of the unique rooms. (So often haunts will just have one Walmart purchased scary CD blaring over everything. That is not wicKED at all.) It also promotes dread as you hear the unmistakable lullaby from A Nightmare on Elm Street... you just know what is coming next. 
  • High quality masks, some familiar, some shocking, had been purchased for almost all the actors. 
  • A really good electric chair execution scene. 

  • A swamp. Complete with real live swampy plants, a very swampy/vegetative odor, and an enigmatic pirate skeleton! This guy totally caught me off guard on the first run. He scared Miranda when we went back through to take pictures.

    • Good lighting and unique scenery coupled with very enthusiastic actors made for some great scares. This thing kept "barking" and screaming all through the haunt.

      • The Funeral Parlor full of coffins and a very "persuasive" undertaker who was eager for new business.

        • The Clown Room. Blacklights, strobes, carnival music, small clowns running around your feet like demons, and a huge mutated jack-in-the-box. Need I say more?

          • They were lucky enough to have a doctor on staff, but he seemed more intent on experimenting on the customers and getting spare parts than helping anybody. That must be why they keep him in a cage....

          • Freddy Kreuger in his boiler room. I am not usually a fan of Freddy in a haunted house, but they pulled this room of very well! Sound effects, lighting, and a very shocking performance as Freddy comes at you from everywhere!

            • There is a maze in the very center of the haunt. It is a maze in every sense of the word. I got lost TWICE in it. So dark, you have to feel your way through. I was accused of cheating by using my video camera light to see by. I prefer to call it, "utilizing my resources". It did not help! You pay for it when you enter the wrong door. Terrible things jump out at you and chase you down deeper into the maze.

            • There was even a good old fashioned lynching going on. Complete with heartless executioner who is proud of the work he does and the trophies he keeps. I did not ask what the young man had done...I don't think it mattered. You could almost hear the poor guys neck snap as the lever was thrown.

              • What haunted house wouldn't be complete without CHAINSAWS. They are the great equalizer casting fear into man, woman, and child. It also helps run out the last of those pesky victims that have the audacity to survive to the end! Multiple chainsaws are even better! The things wielding them were freaking insane! Barking, hooping, and hollering and imposingly tall. You do not want to meet these creatures in a dark alley.. and that is exactly what you will do if you visit this haunt.

              • There was so much more in the haunt that I have not listed.... you will just have to experience it for yourselves.... if you think you can handle it that is.

                 All being said and done, it was a thrilling adventure. It took us roughly 12 minutes to make it all the way through. They did a good job of keeping us busy while inside despite being short staffed. The sound effects and lighting were very good as were the masks and costumes. Some of the rooms totally caught me off guard and I could tell there was some real creativity and thought put into them. 

                 This group of haunters were really enthusiastic and that transferred to their performances inside. This is a great group of people that not only volunteer their personal time too keep our town safe, but to also give a chilling haunted attraction to frequent through the Halloween Season. I am grateful they allowed me to participate in their first practice run. It was truly wicKED!
                 I will be going back for when they are officially open for business to get them wicKEDly ranKED, but they are already ranking high on my list of favorite haunted attractions of 2011. I am anxious to see how they rate against the others this year. 
                 "A Haunting on Wood Ave" opens it's doors to the public this Friday, Sept 30th at dusk. It will cost you $5 a head and that goes to a great organization. 

                 Whatever your plans are this Halloween Season, make sure they include a visit to "A Haunting on Wood Ave", where you are guaranteed a wicKED good time!
              A little video I threw together for the haunt.

              Tell em wicKED sent ya!

              Wednesday, September 28, 2011

              One should take care, when welcoming wicKED things into your home....

                 So many things all going on at once. The house is in a constant state of flux as we arrange, swap, unpack, and create a sinister settings for this Halloween.
                 Things are going bump in the night, and not all of them are friendly. Most can be pointed back at our feline companions, but not all. As the decor gets darker, so does the mood and feel of the house. Truly, this promises to be the most wicKED Halloween of them all.

                I have been working on 6 short stories for the blog, 4 tales based in reality, and 2 from the whisperings of my inner demons. I will be posting them once we start the Halloween Countdown as a Cryptkeeper for 2011.
                 This is a truly the best season of them all. I hope everybody gets to enjoy it as fully as I am this year. To help get the celebration started, the blog AEIOU and Sometimes Why, is having a "Countdown to Trick or Tweet" giveaway. Make sure you drop by and follow the blog for your chance at some ghoulish goodies.
                 Speaking of welcoming wicKED things, yours truly has been invited to partake in some walkthroughs of a couple of the local Haunted Houses over the next week. I will be doing some trial runs with a couple and a full out fright rehersal on another.  Follow the blog to stay updated on what lies at the darkest depths of your favorite Halloween haunts.
                 I am truly honored to have the invitations extended to me and look forward to writing the articles about my experiences even before they open.

                  Keep in mind though.... it is not always wise to invite the wicKED .... they may just stay!

              Tuesday, September 27, 2011

              Contrast and Perspective.

                 Many dirty deeds completed today. More to terrible tasks on the board for tonight. It's all coming together. Every creepy, slithery, wicKED part.

              Monday, September 26, 2011

              It was a dark and stormy night....

                 That is terribly cliche but it fits well. It is dark, and it is stormy at Ye Olde Meade Manor. All of our outdoor decorations and electrical equipment are being put through their paces for weather worthiness tonight. There is an odd glow coming from the dinning room of the Manor. It seems that the Awful Apothecary is fast on it's way to completion.

               Another name crossed off the list.

                                           Another nail in the coffin.

                                                             Another wicKED thing put to rest.

              So little many distractions

                 It never fails. When you are super busy, distractions attack. I have two big distractions that have reared their ugly heads during one of the busiest weeks of my year.

                 First is a book. A real honest to goodness, hard cover, paper and ink book.

                 This surprisingly good book will not stop haunting me! I have been setting aside an hour a day for this guilty pleasure but it still demands more time. This is truly a fantastic read, especially for this time of year. Every page I turn, I keep wondering if I will find out Abe did battle with Nicolas Cage!

                 My second distraction comes from a ghost of the past... and it's a killer.

                 If you are lucky enough to have Comcast/Xfinity TV, they are offering season 1 of Dexter for free on demand till October 2nd. I just happen to be one of the lucky (or unlucky in my circumstance) who gets to relive this nugget of evil goodness.

                 Now I am done with my distractions for the day. Back to haunting the house on this morbid Monday!

              Sunday, September 25, 2011

              wicKED weeKEnD wrap up and sneak peek!

                 It has been an eventful weeKEnD for sure. We have worked ever since early Friday morning and I estimate we are only about 50% complete on getting everything out. I once had a "friend" comment that I had enough decorations for a mansion but lived in a prefab. The way I look at it, through fate, fame, or finance, I will one day have a big old house to haunt. When that day arrives, I will be so ready.

                 One of the major accomplishments we hit was the best addition to our yard haunt to date. It has one eye, can see in the dark, and is 10 feet tall.

                 Peace of mind will go a long ways for the haunt this year. 

                 We also managed to get out of the house once and Miranda found a set of Zombie President masks at Kmart.

                 It has been a great Season Switching weeKEnD. We threw away so much stuff to make room for our new Halloween stuff. I have made lots of sacrifices for my passions over the years, but Halloween takes the cake. Can't even tell you the stuff that is sitting at the curb, waiting for pick up, just to be able to fit a few more Halloween totes in the building as we collect even more. I bet the trash men think we are moving out from the pile of stuff waiting for them in the morning.
                 As for only being 50% complete, half the fun is the journey. Even when I do get everything up and out, I always gradually add more items as we get closer to the Halloween party and then on Halloween night, the creepy things crawl out of the wood works. Literally!

                 One person that was not pleased with Season Switching was Mr pond frog.

                 I hope he forgives us. 

                 As I wrap up this post, here is the sneak peek at Ye Olde Meade Manor 2011. There will be much more to come as we get closer to Halloween. 
              Grimace welcomes you

              Gotta love a Pumpkin on a coffin.

                 We were lucky enough to have the expertise of our Demon cat Lilly.

              She had to make sure everything was in the right place.

              We are pretty sure that Lilly is turning into a vampire also.

                 Still lots of stuff to do. Lots of totes to still open and explore. LOTS of DIY projects on the list as well. I better stop blogging and get back to it. Hope everybody had a wicKED weeKEnD!

              Saturday, September 24, 2011

              Don't go to the bathroom alone!

              Introducing the GRIM PEEPER! 

              The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray....

                 Rain, breakage, repairs, water damage, and a demon cat all confounded our best attempts at a Season Switching day.  We did get a lot done, but no where near where we wanted to end up.
                 The weather was taunting me all day. I would hear thunder and the rain just beating down on the house and a few minutes later I would see sunlight streaming through the living room window. I would put my shoes on and head out the back door to find RAIN!
                 Then we had a few mishaps. First, we had a little water filled creepy prop bust in storage. It drenched 3 of our pictures. We had to stop and do some clean up and salvage what we could from the frames. Luckily, that was all that was hurt and we can reproduce the pictures with ease.
                 The second mishaps was coming from my back office where I have the spirit floor stand candelabra set up. I had an empty tote in hand, carrying it back to the closet and I brushed against the candelabra with my wrist. When I say brushed I literally mean brushed very lightly against it. The next thing I know I hear a "bam" and one of the arms has popped off! It must have had a crack in it to begin with for the amount of pressure I applied to it. At least it did not happen during the party or the haunt. The good thing is, it's a clean break and I can repair it with some super glue. I will just make sure to place it WAY out of the way of guests. If anybody else has this Spirit item, take note!
                 The biggest complication of the night was from a small demonic presence known as Lilly.

                 She was raring to go! She gets as excited about decorating as we do. The problem is, every time I pull something new out, she has to examine it and/or play with it. Every time I reached my hand back in a tote or a pile of newspaper packing, my hand was attacked.

                 I admit to screaming like a girl on a couple of occasion due to this. She sure loves empty boxes, totes, and bags.

                 I am sure she thinks she is helping somehow.

                 The day wasn't all bad. I got a present from my "not so secret reaper" aka my mother.

                 It was like a haunters care package. New soldering iron and solder for repairs to electronic props, a cordless Dremel for detail work  and Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights. Everything a home haunter needs for unpacking Halloween stuff!
                 We did accomplish a lot, and we had a lot of fun doing it.

              Turn your head and cough please. 
                 We even made some glow in the dark Pumpkin Puke slushies 

                 Sadly there was no wicKED Remedy in them, just orange goodness and ice.

                 Outside it is a beautiful sunny day. We have lots of work to do, but we surely will get it done. Today is going to be a wicKEDly good day!

              Friday, September 23, 2011

              Summer is dead! Long Live Autumn!


               "As the green soul of summer slips into death, it burns with all the brilliance of the great phoenix diving into the fire. Bursting with all the colors that Autumn can provide as a funeral pyre to it's dying sibling.".  - Ked Meade -

                 The Autumn Equinox is a day that the earth experiences the same amount of darkness and light. A great balancing of the season takes place. Legends say that at the height of the equinox, one can balance an egg on it's end and that any rain that gathers in nature will be poisoned for the remains of September. Druids would build bonfires atop hills to signify the change of the season and the ancient Chinese would eat moon cakes to celebrate the coming of mother night.
                 We will all notice a difference in the sun as it's very nature will seem changed. The light will appear to fall differently on us, especially in the afternoon. These are great times to walk in nature as the days grow shorter and the colder nights coax out the colors of the fall foliage.

                 There are many names for the Autumn Equinox all over the world such as Feast of Avilon, Festival of Dionysus, Harvest Home, Night of the Hunter, Wine Harvest, Cornucopia, Mabon, Harvest Tide, and Witch's Thanksgiving. Here at Ye Olde wicKED Meade Manor we call it the Switching Season. The day all the smiling terracotta suns, wind chimes, and fountains, are exchanged for the yellows, oranges, reds, browns and blacks of Autumn.
                 Today is going to be a rainy Autumn Equinox.

                 That means a couple of things. First, I can't put the summer stuff up in our outbuilding dripping wet so I will have to hope for sunny days tomorrow. It's not a total loss. We will just focus on swapping out interior things and work outside on the first sunny day (which is supposed to be Saturday Woot!). The only kink in that plan is some of our interior stuff is located out in our storage building.
                 The second thing about a rainy Autumn Equinox is, I have only known of one other in the last 10 ish years. That was the Fall of 2009. It rained and rained. That was the only Yard Haunt I had to close early because it was soaked. I will be crossing my fingers and toes that this will not be the case this year!
                 Looking on the bright side, this is the best time of the year! There is something about the crispness of the night, the air filled with smells of fall that always sparks off nostalgia. Even the look and the feel of the sunlight is unique to this time of year. I can't wait for the leaves to come into color. I have a feeling that I will be posting bunches of cool local pictures of fall. The forecast looks to be great for great colors, sunny days and cold nights are the perfect combination to draw out the blazing Autumn foliage. Until I can capture some new ones, here are some photos I found on the net from my neck of the woods :



                 Another thing I love about Autumn is almost no yard maintenance. The grass grows much slower, and I need to to get kinda "scruffy" to look more haunted for Halloween.  I love to landscape but by this time of the year, I have had my fill.
                 My Halloween decorations and props are itching to get out into the world by this point to. There is still a lot of maintenance that has to be done to the yard before it is "Autumn Ready". Weeds to whack, brush to thrash, and grass to mow. In an effort to expedite matters, I recruited my Jason prop from out of the guest bathroom shower.
                  This turned out to be a not so good idea :

                 Before I could stop him, he had mowed over most of the flower pots, the outdoor lighting, and the fountains. I still have not seen Pumpkin... hope he survived.  
                 I had to take him off mowing duty and finish myself. I figured I would have him weed the beds one final time.

                 I was able to stop him just before he cut down the last of my Lavender Smoke Trees. I should have known better. At this point, he was causing me more work than helping. I did not want to hurt his feelings so I figured I would put that machete to work where he couldn't hurt anything and he could chop to his hearts content. 

                 I put him on the back half of the property where there is a little wooded area. Nothing to hurt here and, if I am lucky, he will clear out another half acre for a pumpkin patch next year. 

                    He sure looked happy. Now he was out of my hair and I could finish my work.... what could possibly go wrong?