International Clown Week

Apparently, this is a thing.  From August 1st to August 7th, clowns world wide celebrate, promote, and inform.  This year’s celebration kicked off in Showmen’s Rest in Woodlawn Cemetery, located in Forest Park, Illinois. This particular Showmen’s Rest is actually a mass grave for Hagenbeck-Wallace circus employees killed in the Hammond circus train wreck in 1918.  Because many of the bodies were unidentifiable, their graves are marked with their stage names, such as “Smiley” and “Baldy.”  Five elephant statues marks the Showmen’s Rest. Kinda weird, eerie, and moving all at once, right?

hagenbeckwallacecircus

Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus Sideshow

showmans-rest-clown-cemetery

Showmen’s Rest marker

You can find more information about International Clown Week here, and browse through their pages on coulrophobia and fear of clowns, as well as other extensive topics such as clown college.

In the spirit of coulrophobia and international clown celebrations, I leave you with this international horror movie trailer for Indonesian horror flick “Badoet.”

The entire world shares similar feelings on clowns, it seems.

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Jaws on the Water Event Report

jaws

On June 27th I braved the murky, “shark” infested waters of the Texas Ski Ranch for Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow’s screening of Jaws, first reported here. After the quick sellout, Rolling Roadshow added more screenings throughout July, though I believe those screenings have also been sold out as well.  And that’s no surprise, because this experience proved to be one of the more unique, rare adventures you’d be crazy not to grab hold when you get the opportunity.

Upon arrival at the Texas Ski Ranch, all of the business is handled up front.  Two waivers are required for this event, one from the Texas Ski Ranch and one from the Alamo Drafthouse.  You’re given a glow stick to wear in the water so the lifeguards can spot you, and your arms are covered in wristbands signalling admission, that you’re of legal age to drink, and optional drink tab wristbands.  Once you’ve signed your life away, just cross your fingers you don’t fall prey to any “sharks” and step outside into the fun.

Though the screening began at sundown, shortly after 9pm, there was still plenty of entertainment to tide attendees over.  Giant beer pong and bean bag toss set up in the grass, drink stations, a stage with a DJ and his two dancing sharks that often mingled with the crowd.

Jaws djDancing sharks

The very impressive portable screen sat upon an island, where Rolling Roadshow crew were hard at work prepping for the screening.  The small island also appeared to be home to a trio of goats.  Huh.  Natural lawn care?  Surrounding the island was the man-made lake in which attendees would descend in their inner tubes, but leading up to the screening it was filled with wakeboarders exhibiting their skills.

jaws screen

Once the queue opened for the inner tubes, the water was cleared of wakeboarders and a large shark fin cut through the surface closer toward the island. Once the shark fin reached the other side of the lake, attendees were free to enter the water if they dared. Those too afraid were able to watch from the safety of the beach.

Once Jaws began, a large cluster of floating viewers gathered toward the front and center of the screen.  I imagine this may have made if difficult for the scuba divers to grab at us, as I only saw one surface once when the crowd dispersed.  So the “sharks” were a bit quiet this night.  It was more unnerving seeing the lightening and storms in the distance, and I’d worried they wouldn’t travel close enough to interfere with the event.  Luckily it didn’t.

Watching Jaws on the water was far more peaceful than you’d think.  The crowd full of content movie lovers, enraptured with the classic film, just floating along quietly on a calm lake.  Everyone there was not just there for the experience, but for their love of Jaws, everyone cheering wildly at all the classic lines.

An exciting event such as this should always end with a bang, right?  And the Rolling Roadshow delivered.  The explosion of the scuba tank in the film coincided with fireworks, adding a special touch to the already very interactive screening.

One important lesson learned: I’m a tiny person not fit for one-size-fits-all giant rubber inner tubes.  Next time I’ll bring my own. Though I’m quite eager to experience more of what Rolling Roadshow has to offer, so perhaps I’ll stay out of the water for a bit.

Texas! Experience Jaws on the Water

Jaws on the water

If you live in or near Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas or anywhere in between then you have no excuse to miss out on the upcoming Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow Event on June 27.  For those unfamiliar, the Rolling Roadshow takes the screenings out of the theater and, well, on the road.  If you’re in Austin, where the Alamo Drafthouse franchise began, this meant having access to some of the most insane settings for a screening.

One of the most popular Rolling Roadshow events occurred in 2002, where Jaws screened on Lake Travis and viewers watched while floating in inner tubes.  If that wasn’t cool enough, scuba divers bumped into the tubes and pulled on the limbs of unsuspecting attendees during key moments during the film.  Leave it to the Alamo Drafthouse to submerse the audience in a whole new level.  Did I mention the screening began after dark?

This summer, they’re bringing this event back! Tickets went on sale today at noon, so snatch them up while you can here. More information can be found here, and a more comprehensive article detailing the history of the Roadshow can be found here.

Tickets will go fast, so don’t miss the opportunity for an amazing movie experience.  And if this sounds too terrifying, you can sit on the safety of the beach…but where’s the fun in that?

Houston! Join the WolfCop Wolf Pack!

 

Do you have plans Thursday, April 8th?  No? Good.  Then you should come join me for WolfCop on the big screen.  It’ll be a howl (ha!). This is exactly the type of movie you want to see with a crowd, so please rsvp and help me make that happen. So please, click below, and I’ll see you April 8th!

 Join me at this @Tugginc screening of Wolf Cop!.

Houston Halloween Events

It’s finally October!  My favorite month of the year.  I’ve been scouring the internet looking for festive ideas and thought I’d share some of the local events I’ve had my eye on.

Houston Halloween Festival- October 19th

HORRORFEST

The annual zombie walk for charity has now been upgraded to a full on Halloween festival held partly in Minute Maid Park.  The event features musical acts, pumpkin patch, haunted maze, makeup effects artists, vendors, horror film industry celebrities, and a zombie walk.  Tickets and more information can be found here.

Evil Dead the Musical- October 17th through November 1st

Evil dead the musical

You may remember my previous write up last year, when I visited San Antonio’s production of the bloody musical.  This year the production is making its way to Houston (Pasadena more specifically), via Stage Door Inc. Tickets are only $15, with the option of purchasing a zombie survival kit for an additional $5.  The kit contains items meant to protect clothing against the inevitable blood splattering from this very messy, very fun production.  Productions of this show are popping up across the country, so check here to find cities near you.

Dismember the Alamo- October 25th

DismemberTheAlamo_Poster-2

My favorite theater is putting on a four film mystery horror marathon.  The line up won’t be revealed until just prior to showtime, but with the Alamo Drafthouse rest assured that it will be worth it.  As if a costume contest and the Drafthouse’s trademark pre-show isn’t enough to entice you, perhaps seeing scream queen Barbara Crampton live in attendance will entice you.  Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, From Beyond, You’re Next) isn’t just showing up as a guest, but is also assisting with the programming.  Dismember the Alamo isn’t just a Houston exclusive event- look for it at your local Alamo Drafthouse. Each venue will have their own special guest. Tickets for the Houston event can be purchased here , and information on other locations hosting Dismember the Alamo can be found here.

Being that it’s only October 2nd, I’ll share more discoveries as I find them.  What are you most looking forward to this Halloween season?

The Paris Catacombs

I crossed a major bucket list item off of my list this past week- visiting the famous Catacombs in Paris. Just what exactly is the Catacombs? It’s a very large underground ossuary that stretches for miles below Paris, deeper than the sewer and Metro tunnels, and houses six million Parisians. Only a stretch of 2 km is open for visitation to the public as so many miles are deemed unsafe for exploration.

In 1780, the largest cemetery in Paris, Saints Innocents, became engorged with the dead. To make room for more burials, bodies were exhumed and stacked within the cemetery walls. With mounds two meters high, the overflow became a huge health concern for the adjacent neighborhood, with good reason. This wasn’t the only cemetery in Paris with an overflow problem, but as the largest it was the primary focus.

Abandoned mining projects in rich limestone turned out to be the answer and in 1785, the Council of State issued a decree requiring the removal of the human remains from Saints Innocents. The bones from all city cemeteries would be stored in the limestone quarries, and this transfer of human remains continued until 1860.

Catacomb tunnels

Only 200 people are allowed in the Catacombs at a time, so plan to get there as early as possible to minimize wait times (which can be up to 3 hours).  Open daily from 10-5, last admission is 4pm.  Entrance is a tiny green shed across the street from the Denfert- Rochereau Metro and RER line access.  There are no toilets, it’s about 57F underground, and you take about 130 steep steps straight down a very narrow spiral staircase upon entrance.  The above pic is your initial view as you make your way further underground, so if you’re claustrophobic this tour is not for you.  The ceilings are very low and the pathways are narrow.

Eventually you come to the Port-Mahon corridor, which features sculptures of the Port-Mahon fortress sculpted by a quarryman who had fought alongside Louis XV, and the “Quarryman’s foothbath,” or “bain de pieds des carriers.”  This was a well of groundwater used by the quarry workers to mix cement during the construction of the Catacombs.

Port-Mahon fortress Port-Mahon

Quarryman's footbath well Quarryman's footbath

Then, you reach two pillars marking the entrance to the ossuary with a sign that reads, “Stop! This is the empire of death!”  From this point on, you’re surrounded by the bones of six million Parisians.

Bones Heart

As no flash photography is allowed, some of my pics ended up a bit too dark.  It’s difficult to tell, but in the second photo above, the skulls were arranged in a heart.  To say it’s a surreal experience is a bit of an understatement.  The bones are stacked so elegantly, and the sheer amount of remains is overwhelming.  It’s one thing to read that there are six million bodies, but to see them is a totally different experience.  Sections of remains are labeled with the date of cemetery transfer as well as the name of the cemetery.  Artfully arranged columns of bones and an empty sarcophagus were instilled specifically to mask structural support, though you’d never know just by looking.

Sarcophagus Catacombs

The end of the ossuary is marked by high arches and wet limestone.

You end your tour by climbing up another narrow, steep wet-stoned spiral staircase that leads straight into a side street.  The same, unaltered steps from when the Catacombs was first constructed with a very rusted, thin handrail on one side.   A bit scary.

Paris, and its Catacombs, was such an amazing experience, and I’m so lucky to have the memory.

Clown Motel?

Clown Motel

Between Reno and Las Vegas lays the small town of Tonopah, Nevada. In the 2010 census the population was 2,478. The discovery of silver in the early 1900 lead to the founding this small mining town. Being in the middle of a desert, you can imagine the list of things to do runs on the small end.

Um..no thanks. I pass.

Um..no thanks. I pass.

But maybe you’re a mining history fanatic? Or maybe you’d just like to test your bravery? Want to face your coulrophobia head on? If you answered yes to any of these, then make sure you book a stay at Tonopah’s Clown Motel. A motel smack dab in the middle of the desert, decked head to toe in clowns. As if that’s not enough nightmare fuel, the motel’s direct next door neighbor is a century old cemetery.

Clown Motel cemeterToponah Cemetery

I’d love to add this to my bucket list, but I have to be honest- deserts scare me. Maybe I’ve watched too many horror movies, but the isolation just gives me the willies.

Are you brave enough to visit?