Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tribute to Supernatural

For Halloween my daughter did a video tribute to Supernatural's Bloopers from seasons 1-4. It's too funny!! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Are Vampires Villains or Heroes?

Vampires of today have evolved into romantic figures in books and on the screen, but they didn’t always have this appeal. In 1922 movie, Nosfertau: Eine Symphonie des Grauens (Nosferatu: A symphony of horrors.) This German movie starred Max Schreck as the vampire with hairy palms, large bat-like ears and beastly appearance. Definitely a memorable character for very different reason than the heartthrobs we read about in our vampire books today. This vamp would cause your heart to beat faster, but not because of his romantic appeal. the US we had our own vampire. Bela Lugosi had fangs and an air of seduction going for him. In 1927, he starred in a Broadway production of Dracula based on the Bram Stoker novel and adapted for the stage by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston. The production ran 261 performances before touring. In 1930, Universal bought the rights and started filming Dracula. This Dracula portrayed in the movies wore two pieces of jewelry, a silver medallion and large signet ring. In the Legosi’s betrayal of Dracula it seemed the ring had a significant roll. Dracula would walk with his arms bent and slightly in front of him as if the ring led the way. The 1930’s vampire was still a villain but with a sensual charm to lure his

Christopher Lee was England’s image of Dracula. His hair was black, his cape was a long opera cloak and his eye glowed blood red. His film credits states he was the Dracula who had very little to do, but look menacing. Movie titles: Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1969), and Scars of Dracula (1970)--All classics. Lee stared in other Dracula films in the 1970’s, where Hammer tried to bring the character into the modern era. These films didn’t do well. It seemed audiences liked the dark villain that didn’t say much. Christopher Lee stood 6’ 5” definitely a foreboding Dracula.

In 1987, The Lost Boys hit the screens. Now these vamps had fangs! Their eyes were greenish-red and they didn’t like the sun. The vampires are still the vicious villains but the cape has been put away and the vamps sported a leather jacket and rode motorcycles. David played by Keifer Sutherland.

Francis Ford Copolla remade Dracula in 1992. Gary Oldman played the leading role. Dracula was seductive, strong, very bad and scary but also with a romantic flare. It’s pegged as an Erotic Vampirism in stunning Gothic style.

In 1994, Interview with the Vampire was filmed and was based on the Anne Rice’s novels. It soon became a favorite for the genre. Her vampires had a human tragic side to them as well as still being savage with their blood lust. Lestat is played by Tom Cruise and Louis de Pointe du Lac is played by Brad Pitt.
In 2002, the Vampire Lestat made another appearance in Queen of the Damned. The brooding vampire was played by Stuart Townsend. The vampire Lestat becomes a rock star whose music wakes up the queen of all vampires. He's still lethal and tragic, but he falls for a human.

The Kindred: The Embrace was loosely based on the role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade. The series aired on TV on April 2, 1996. The vampires survive among the humans through the ‘masquerade’—disguising themselves as humans. Julian Luna played by Mark Frankel, is the prince of the city and ruler of five clans of vampires, which they call the Kindred. Most of the clans can pass as human, dark and mysterious, but some look more like the Nosferatu vampire though they have human attributes. They stay clear of human interaction. Mark Frankel’s character is charming, lethal (when need be) and all rolled into a beautiful package. The vampires can also turn into animals. With a last name like Luna, it was only appropriate Julian's animal was the wolf. Julian is a vampire women would want to date. Sadly the series was cancelled after eight episodes due to the tragic motorcycle accident that claimed Mark Frankel’s life.

Angel aired in 1999-2004. The vampire, Angel is cursed with a soul. So he has fangs, can’t be in the sun or he’d burn into flames, but he has human traits because he possesses a soul. Dark, brooding and sexy was played by David Boreanaz. His poster still hangs in our garage behind the dryer. lol

And then there was Spike played by James Marsters. Spike was a vampire out of charater. He was the villain, the comic-relief and the anti-hero. He also was romantic. His love for Drusilla stayed true--well at least until she left him.

Moonlight aired in 2007 with Mick St. John staring the gorgeous Alex O’Loughlin was turned into a vampire on his wedding night. This strong but vulnerable vampire also has a thing for a human. Here the vampire who still has fangs, still has to drink blood to survive, the sun makes him ill but it doesn’t make him immediately burst into flames. This vampire has all the traits of the earlier vampires that were betrayed on film, but now he’s the romantic hero that makes the heart beat a little faster.

2008 Twilight hits the theater. The characters are based of Stephenie Meyer’s popular Twilight Series(2005.) Her vampires are gorgeous and lethal though the members of the Cullen Clan try to keep the beast leashed inside. Stephenie Meyer’s vampire’s eyes turn dark brown/black when they’re hungry, light brown when they’ve fed on an animal. The villain's eyes turn blood red when they feed on human blood. Their skin also sparkles in the sun. Edward Cullen is played by Robert Pattinson, and the vampire James was played by Cam Gigandet.

True Blood series aired on HBO in 2008. The characters are based off of Charlaine Harris’ characters in The Southern Vampire Mysteries series. The vampires are the lethal kind in every sense of the word. You never forget they aren’t human though they do live among the human race. Not all the vampires are god-like men and woman. They come in every shape and size and with different cravings. Some want to find their more human side while others can care less. Eric Northman played by Alexander Skarsgard is tall, blond, handsome, but don’t let the good-looking Nordic vampire fool you, he’s lethal as well.

In my vampire tale, I put a new spin on the Chinese vampire, the chiang-shih. Jairec was bitten by the chiang-shih and has three days to find the cure. Jairec fights the urge to give into the monster lurking inside of him. He also finds he's fallen for Autumn Moon and will do all he can to keep her safe. Tall, dark, lethal and romantic. :) 

As you can see vampires have evolved from a villain with no control over their blood lust to romantic leads that try to keep their lethal attributes leashed. Which vampire appeals to you?

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Famous Ghosts who Haunt The Hollywood Forever Cemetery

The Hollywood Forever Cemetery is the final resting place for many Hollywood stars. It was founded in 1899, originally named Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery. With a hundred acres of land to maintain, the owners decided to sell a portion of the land to Paramount and RKO Studios in 1920. The Paramount Studio, which is still in operation, stands as a backdrop to the cemetery today.

The cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. Along with the visitors who pay their respects, the place is known to have a few ghosts who visit, too.

Clifton Webb is one such ghost who haunts the Abbey of the Psalms Mausoleum. Visitors claim to hear whispering voices and see strange flickering lights. Others have experienced a cold draft swirl around them, leaving a whiff of cologne lingering in the air. Another witness saw the transparent figure of Clifton Webb dressed in a suit. While others hear him whistling or yelling out a word for attention. You may know Clifton Webb from his roll as Mr. Belvedere in Sitting Pretty, Mr. Belvedere Goes to College and Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell. A few of his film credits were Laura and Cheaper by the Dozen.

Virginia Rappe was a silent film actress and perhaps a troubled soul who drowned her sorrows with a bottle. In 1916, she moved to San Francisco to pursue her career as an artist model. She was engaged to designer Robert Moscovitz who died soon after the engagement in a streetcar accident. She then moved to Los Angeles. 1918, she gave birth to a child who was put in foster care. She starred in Over the Rhine later remamed the Isle of Love. She starred with Rudolph Valentino and was awarded the title “Best Dressed Girl in Pictures.” A few of her other films were His Musical Sneeze, A Twilight Baby, Punch of the Irish and A Game Lady. She may have been in more of Lehrman’s films but many of the films were lost.

The cause of her death still remains a mystery. She attended a party of actor Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and had to be rushed to the hospital. She died a few days later from a ruptured bladder. Fatty Arbuckle was charged with rape and murder. Witnesses at the party claimed he dragged her into a room, but was this really true? One theory is that Virginia had an illegal botched abortion. Some one claimed she said she needed money for an abortion. Either she had the abortion and needed to pay the person or she needed the money to have the abortion. So was she pregnant when she died? Again no answer. Her organs were removed and destroyed. Some believe Dr. Rumwell performed abortions and had the evidence destroyed so not to be blamed for her death. Another theory was that Fatty Arbuckle accidently contributed to her death. He was ticklish and witnesses claimed Virginia tickled him and his knee jerked up, hitting her in the stomach. She ran to the bathroom screaming, “What did he do to me.”

Whatever the case may be that led to Virginia’s death, Fatty Arbuckle was acquitted of the crime, but his acting career was ruined. Virginia’s reputation was also tarnished. It’s believed this is why Virginia still haunts her grave. Perhaps hoping for a chance to defend her reputation and have justice served. At her grave witnesses feel cold air and hear the sound of sobbing. Some believe the sound is coming from the grave itself.

Rudolph Valentino was best known for his role as “The Sheik.” He was the heartthrob of the silent pictures and when he died of complications after surgery for a gastric ulcer, thousands of people attended his funeral.

On the anniversary of his death, a lady in black and wearing a veil to hide her face brought roses to Valentino’s crypt. Though many claim to be this mysterious woman, most believe the woman was Ditra Flame.

Valentino was a friend to Ditra’s mother. Ditra had been seriously ill and in the hospital. Valentino visited the girl and brought her a single red rose. “You’re not going to die at all,” Valentino told her. “You’re going to outlive me by many years. But one thing for sure—if I die before you do, will you please come and stay by me because I don’t want to be alone either. You come and talk to me.” Ditra did get better, while Valentino died a few years later. Ditra wanted to honor his request and brought red roses to his crypt every year. She passed away in 1984, but others have taken up the tradition of leaving flowers. Our tour guide, Kari Bible, who loves the history of Hollywood and the legends who lit up the screens, has decided to carry on the tradition of the well-known Lady in Black by leaving red roses at Valentino’s crypt.

Ghostly sightings: Some visitors claimed they’ve seen a ghost woman in black kneeling in front of Valentino’s tomb. Others have seen a rose suddenly appear in the vase on the wall. Some have heard footsteps when no one was there. While others have the feeling they’re being watched.

William Randolph Hearst isn’t buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, but his mistress Marion Davies has a place there. Witnesses claimed to have seen Hearst wandering by her grave. Perhaps he still worries about her.

In 1918, she starred in a Hearst film, Cecilia of the Pink Roses.

She appeared in twenty-nine films. According to her own diaries, she met Hearst before she was in the movies. Hearst tried to promote her career, but instead of helping her, his over the top promotion had an opposite affect. Despite people claiming she was a money hungry woman, Marion stayed by Heart’s side when he had lost his money. She tried to bail him out by giving him a check for a million dollars. The California State Park staff claim at the time of his death, 51% of his fortune had been willed to Davies.

Davies died of cancer on September 22, 1961. She left an estate of thirty million. After death Davies’ nice, Patricia Lake was proven to be the birth daughter of Marion Davies and William Randolph Heart. Everyone before had believed her to be Marion’s sister’s child.

Carl Dean Switzer was best known as Alfalfa in the Our Gang series. As an adult he was also a professional dog breeder and hunting guide. A few of his clients were Roy Rogers, Dale Evans (they were his godparents,) and James Stewart.

n 1958, he was getting into his car when someone shot him in the arm. They never found the assailant.

In 1959, Switzer borrowed a hunting dog from Bud Stiltz. When it became lost, he offered an award of $50. A man found the dog, but Switzer only paid him $35 worth of drinks at a bar for finding the dog. A few days later, Switzer decided Bud Stilz owed him $50 for his dog being found. He and his friend, Jack Piott went to Stilz’s house to collect. Bud Stiltz claimed Switzer arrived drunk to his house, demanding he pay him the money. They got into a physical fight. Stiltz fearing for his life ran to his bedroom, returning with his revolver. Switzer tried to grab the gun. A shot hit the ceiling. Switzer pushed Stilz into a closet and allegedly pulled out a switchblade and screamed, “I’m going to kill you.” Stilz still had the gun and shot Switzer in the groin. He died of massive internal bleeding and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Jack Piott’s version of what happen is a little different. He claims Switzer went to collect the money and Stilz and Switzer argued. Piott claimed Stiltz pulled out a gun and shot Switzer who was unarmed. Piott also claimed he had to beg for his own life.

Tyrone Power or Ty Power was an American film and stage actor. He’s best known for his swashbuckler and romantic roles between 1930-1950. He starred in The Mark of Zorro, Blood and Sand, The Black Swan, Jesse James and my favorite, Luck of the Irish.

He married Deborah Ann Montgomery Minardos in 1958 and became pregnant soon after. She was with him when he went to Madrid to film Solomon and Sheba. Deborah was worried about his health and wanted him to slow down, but he continued to push himself. On November 15, 1958, while filming a strenuous dueling scene, he had a heart attack and died. Sadly, he always wanted a son and his wife gave birth to

Tyrone Power IV on January 22, 1959. He never knew he’d finally been granted his wish.

His good friend George Sanders wrote a tribute to Powers.

“I shall always remember Tyrone as a bountiful man, a man who gave freely of himself. It mattered not to whom he gave. His concern was in the giving. I shall always remember his wonderful smile, a smile that would light up the darkest hour of the day, like a sunburst. I shall always remember Tyrone Power as a man who gave more of himself than it was wise for him to give, until in the end, he gave his life.”

A ghostly message in the sky: Vincent Price was a good friend with Tyrone Power. They lived near each other and Tyrone looked up Vincent price asking him often for advice. On the day Tyrone died, Vincent Price was on a plane. The weather was bad and they had to circle New York airport many times before landing. While Price was reading his book, he experienced a strange feeling and an urge to push aside the curtain of his window. He did so and to his surprise, he saw the chilling message written in the clouds, “Tyrone Power is dead.” He wanted to dismiss the disturbing phenomenon, but at his hotel, his theatrical agent informed him that Tyrone Power had died of a heart attack.

Maila Nurmi was the horror hostess and star of Ed Wood’s cult film, Plan 9 From Outer Space who performed under the name Vampira. She dated Orson Wells for a short time. She was acquainted with Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and was good friends with James Dean. She hung out at Googie’s Coffee Shop in Hollywood. She claimed after James Dean died that she could speak to him through the veil.

In 1955, she was the victim of an attempted murder. A man forced his way into her apartment. He terrorized her for four hours before she manage to escape. She ran to a local shop and called the police.

It is noted that she was able to keep her voluptuous hourglass figure by eating only boiled eggs, orange juice and graham crackers. Her measurements were 38-17-36.

Visitors are welcome to stroll around the grounds of the cemetery. You may purchase a map where the graves of famous people are identified, but we found this to be too difficult to follow. Most of the graves are not marked with the numbered indicated on the map. I would strongly suggest you take Kari Bible’s tour. She’s personable and informative about the history and the legends of the stars.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Supernatural Creatures all over the world have believed in supernatural creatures. Local folklore and legends prove the beliefs were strong enough to pass down the tales for generations.

Here is a list of some of these supernatural creatures.

Acheri is a spirit or ghost in a form of a small Indian girl. She would come down from the mountains or hilltops to bring disease to the villages. To ward off this creature one would wear a red ribbon around the neck for protection.

Afrit, in Arabic mythology is a ghost-like form in the shape of fire. The Muslim theology (mentioned in the Qur’an) states this supernatural creature is the second most powerful of the five classes of Jinn. Other names of this creature are: efreet, ifreet, afirt, afreet.

Alien-The first highly publicized UFO sighting occurred in 1897, in a tiny Texan community called Auroa. This unique sighting occured before the invention of the first airplane.
There are Petroglyphs dating back thousands of years ago by ancient American Southwest Indians. According to Indian folklore, two objects collided in the sky and one crash-landed in the region below (Death Valley.) Local Indians stood by as men arrived from another ship to repair the damaged craft. Irish Banshee (bean sidhe) and Scottish (bean shìth) is a female-spirit who will emit a long wailing cry as a warning that some is about to die in the household. They appear as a ghost wearing long white or gray dress. They have long fair hair.

Baobhan Sith, The White Women of the Scottish highlands. These women are ghostlike vampires who assume the shape of beautiful women and invite men to dance with them, and drink their blood.

Bogeyman is a creature that appears at night to frighten children. The tale probably originated from parents who wanted to keep the children in bed. “If you don’t stay in bed or behave, the bogeyman will get you.”

Bucca is a sea sprite known to help or hinder (depending on her mood, I suppose) Cornish fishermen. They have two forms: Bucca Widn (White Bucca) and Bucca Dhu (Black Bucca.)

Chiang-shi is a white haired green-faced vampire with powers of flight and transfiguration that draws their strength from the Moon. Some appear more like puppet-like creatures, walking in a Zombie-like trance.

Civatateo is a vampire that dates back to the of the days of the Aztecs. They are believed to be the servants of the gods. They have magical powers of a priest. All Civateteo are noblewomen who died during childbirth and have now returned to earth.

Demon or Daemon is an evil spirit from the underworld. The Demons are considered supernatural beings somewhere between mortals and gods with powers to cause havoc with peoples lives. They can seduce, possess and afflict a human. is rarely seen but when it does, it appears as a beautiful temptress. Very dangerous and not to be trusted according to Irish lore since it’s determined to suck the blood from it’s victim.

Domovik is a Russian spirit of mythology. He lives behind a stove or under a doorstep. He’s a guardian or watchman of the home, but you don’t want to upset him. He may then burn down your house. To keep this demon happy you must leave him a snack.

Ghost is a spirit or soul of a deceased person. The spirits are reported as haunting a particular location they associated in life. They may also haunt an area where they died. Phantom armies, ghost animals, ghost trains and phantom ships are also reported to be seen. According to a pole done in 2005 by the Gallup Organization, about 32% of Americans believe ghosts exists.

Ghoul may have originated from Islamic folklore. It is a demon that feeds on human bodies living or dead. In Arabian folklore the ghoul is a monster that dwells in the burial grounds. The North America mythology is similar. The shape shifting demon can change into an animal to lure travelers away from civilization to devour them.

Kelpie is a shape shifting water horse from Celtic Folklore. It appears as a lost pony and is able to lure humans into the water and drown them so they can eat them. They haunt the rivers and lochs of Scotland. The story is also in Irish folklore.

Nachzehrer is a shape shifting vampire with psychic powers. It feasts on the bodies of the dead and the blood and energy of the living.

Puca (Phooka) comes from Irish and Welsh folklore . They are fairy-folk who can shape shift. No matter what animal they take the form of, it will have dark fur. It likes the shape of a black horse with glowing yellow eyes. It doesn’t hurt humans and legends states they have even helped people, leading them away from danger.

Selkies can transform to a human by shedding their skins. They can only return to the sea by putting the skin back on. A selkie can only make contact with one particular human for a short amount of time before they must return to the sea. They are not able to make contact with that human again for seven years, unless the human is to steal their selkie's skin and hide it or burn it.

Troll comes from the Norse mythology. It is fiendish and fearsome giant that lives under a hill. The males are believed not to be intelligent, but the females are cunning.

Upyr is a day-walking bloodsucker with a preference for children, which it eats with its iron teeth. are blood sucking creatures according to ancient legends. Not the heartthrobs we read about in paranormal romances. They are the undead and survive on blood of the living. They look like humans but have pasty white skin and can only come out in the dark. Sunlight will destroy them.

Werewolf is a lycanthrope, which is a human who can shape shift into a wolf form. In mythology it is believed a person can become a werewolf by being bitten by another werewolf. They shift only when the moon is full and they lose all sense of being human, preying on humans and animals alike. Some African tribes still believe in this. have a different take on werewolves. They are helpful creatures and the werewolf can change from wolf to human at will. It is believe the Ossory people were cursed and this is how the werewolf clans in Ireland originated from. See my blog on Werewolves in Ireland.
 Yara-Ma-Yha-Who is from the aboriginal mythology. This is a nasty little vampire with suckers on its fingers. They lurk in fig trees.

Zombies are reanimated human corpses. According to Afro-Caribbean beliefs, a powerful Voodoo sorcerer can accomplish this feat. The Zombie can perform evil deeds. Some of the Haitian populace still believe in this phenomenon.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Halloween Around the World

Samhain literally means summer’s end. In Ireland and Scotland, Halloween is known as Oíche Shamhna. The Celts believed it was the day that the dead revisited the mortal world.

It was the change to Christianity that Samhain was changed to Hallowmas, or All Saints’ Day to honor the blessed souls of the dead or the “Feast of the Dead”. It marked the end of summer and the start of the winter months. October 31st was then known as 'Halloween'; November 1st as 'All Saints' Day'; and finally November 2nd was known as All Souls Day' when prayers were offered to the souls that were in Purgatory waiting to be admitted into Heaven.

In early Ireland, the people would come together for Samhain. It was known as the principal calendar feast of the year. The greatest feast was the Feast of Tara, where they focused on the royal seat of the High King. In every house the hearth fires were put out as they waited for the Druids to light the new fire of the year. This was done at Tlachtga, (not Tara). This was the burial place of Tlachtga the daughter of the druid Mogh Ruith who was thought of as a goddess in her former life.

Sacrifices and gifts were offered up in thanksgiving. Personal prayers in a form of an object or symbol were cast into the fire. At the end of the ceremony, the brands were lit from the great fire of Tara to relight the home fires of the Tribe. The flame marked the time of beginnings of dreams, projects and hopes for the new year.

In Italy, Halloween runs about one week. Children don't go door to door for candy. They stuff themselves with pumpkin risotto and porcini mushrooms. They also make cakes in the shape of beans called Beans of the Dead. In Southern Italy the families prepare a feast on All Souls' Day. They go to church and pray for the souls of the deceased. They Stay all day, leaving their home open for the spirits to visit and eat the feast they prepared. The Romans celebrated Feralia in honor of the dead, but it took place in February at the end of the Roman year.

In Germany, it is a tradition to put all knives away. This to insure they do not hurt the returning spirits.

In Southern Germany and Austria, Catholics celebrate Seleenwoche or All Souls' Week between October 30 and November 8th.

Halloween in Canada started when the Scottish and Irish immigrants arrived. The festivities include carving Jack O' Lanterns, parties and decorating homes with corn stalks and pumpkins. There is even trick or treating.

Teng Chieh is the Halloween festival in China. They place food and water in front of photographs of family members who have passed away. Paths are lit with lanterns in order to light the paths of the spirits who walk the earth on Halloween night.

In Czechoslovakia, chairs were placed by the fireside on Halloween night. One chair for each living member of the family and one for each members spirit.

El Dia de los Muertos is the holiday celebrated by the Spanish speaking nations. It is a joyous holiday. It is a time to remember friends and family who have died. The three day celebration begins on October 31st to November 2nd on All Souls' Day. It is believed that the dead would return to their homes on Halloween. Altars are constructed and decorated with candy, photographs, water, favorite food and drinks of the loved one. Candles are burned to help the souls find their way home.