Saturday, December 8, 2012 Things I Found Looking For Something Else #12

Superhero Cake Mold from Nordic Ware
I find the flesh-like color of the unadorned cakes rather disturbing.

Friday, December 7, 2012 Zombies + Data = Geek Love

Yet another reason to cheer, "God Bless Canukistan!"  The fine folks over at the National Post have created an awesome graphic charting all of the zombie kills on the tv version of The Walking Dead.  Data points include weapons used, who did the killing, and zombie gender.  It's way too big to reproduce in its entirety so head over to the National Point site and give them some pageviews.


Saturday, December 1, 2012 Somebody Loan Me A Few Million Dollars

Because I want to buy the Batmobile.  From the LA Times:
Original Batmobile to go up for auction

By W.J. Hennigan
November 29, 2012, 6:00 a.m.

Holy hot rod, Batman!

The iconic Batmobile from the 1960s television show is going up for auction early next year.

The midnight-black and fluorescent-red-pinstriped car that Adam West's Batman used to battle villains in Gotham will be up for grabs Jan. 19 at Barrett-Jackson, the Scottsdale, Ariz., rare and classic auto auction house.

There is a reserve price for the car, but neither the auction house nor the car owner, famed car customizer George Barris, would confirm the lowest dollar amount they would accept. Plans for the sale were revealed at the L.A. Auto Show.

“Let's just say it's in the multimillions,” said Craig Jackson, chief executive of Barrett-Jackson. “The car is true Americana. It's hard to put a dollar figure on something like that.”

There's likely to be plenty of potential buyers. The one-of-a-kind 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car was originally created by a design team at Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln styling department. The 19-foot-long, two-seat, bubble-topped grand touring car prototype was entirely hand-built in 1954 by Ghia Body Works in Turin, Italy, and unveiled in its original pearlescent “frost-blue” white paint finish in 1955 at the Chicago Auto Show.

In late 1965, 20th Century Fox Television and William Dozier's Greenway Productions tapped Barris to come up with a car to foil Batman's enemies. Barris said he transformed the Lincoln in just 15 days for $15,000. The heavily modified car, known around the world, was built at Barris' auto shop in North Hollywood.

Barris, who also made the Munster Koach and “Beverly Hillbillies” jalopy from the 1960s TV shows, turned out a monster.

The car features bulletproof plexiglass bubble windshields and the Bat Ray (dual 450-watt laser beams that blasted obstacles to bits). It also has a Bat-O-Meter, which identified the location of the bad guys, as well as oil squirters (fashioned from lawn sprinkler heads) to foil evildoers.

“I saw the script and it said, ‘Bang,' ‘Pow,' ‘Boom,'” Barris, now 87, said. “That's exactly what I wanted the car to do. I wanted it to be as big a character as the actors.”

Since the television show ended in 1968, the Batmobile has been on display at Barris Kustom Industries on Riverside Drive in a gallery. Selling the car is bittersweet for Barris. It's been his trademark for years. His cellphone's ring tone is a familiar theme song: “Na na na na na … Batman.”

“It's difficult to part with,” Barris said. “Whoever the lucky buyer is, I hope they have as much fun with it as I did.”
The reporter made a "Holy Something" joke. How hilarious and original.

Adam West gave me a fist-bump once.  I think that shows how deserving I am to be the owner of the original Batmobile  Donations can be sent care of this blog.

Friday, November 30, 2012 Bury Me Not In Benin

From Reuters:
More than 100 graves robbed in Benin for voodoo rituals

By Samuel Elijah
COTONOU | Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:01am EST

(Reuters) - Tomb raiders have dug up more than 100 graves at a cemetery in Benin since Saturday for what authorities suspect is a black-market trade in human organs and skulls for voodoo ritual fetishes.

The incident is the most serious case of grave-robbing in the West African state, the world capital of voodoo where most of the country's 9 million residents practice a benign form of the official religion.

Authorities in Dangbo, a village 10 km (6 miles) from the capital Porto-Novo, began an investigation after a mason working at the cemetery said he spotted several masked men digging up the graves, from which organs and skulls were removed.

"The desecration of graves is about money in this region," said Joseph Afaton, director of the cemetery. "It is for sacrifices, or for bewitching."

Body parts of humans and rare animals are prized by some people in central Africa for their supposed supernatural powers, and are used in occult ceremonies. Traffickers often obtain human remains from grave robbers, but a recent spate of killings has also been linked to the gruesome trade.

Authorities in Cameroon in September arrested five people suspected of trafficking human body parts after they were discovered at a checkpoint carrying a severed human head.
They were only suspected of trafficking human body parts, as obviously there are many legitimate reasons they would be carrying a human head.

Beware the Serbian Tourist Attraction!

It's everywhere else on the internet, so it might as wellbe here, too.  From the Daily Fail:

Serbian council warns residents vampire is on the loose after his 'house' collapses

04:30 EST, 27 November 2012

Sales of garlic are booming in western Serbia today after the local council issued a public health warning that a vampire was on the loose.

The official announcement came after an old ruined mill said to once have been the home of the country's most famous vampire collapsed.

Sava Savanovic was believed to have lived in the shack on the Rogacica river in Zarozje village in the municipality of Bajina Basta.

It is said he drank the blood of anybody that came to mill their grain.

The watermill was bought by the local Jagodic family and they were too scared to use it as a mill – but discovered it was a goldmine when they started advertising for tourists to come and visit it – always during the day.

The family were worried about carrying out building work on the mill because they were scared they might disturb the vampire or unleash his wrath.

And now the property has collapsed through lack of repair.

But for locals it has sparked rumours that the vampire is now free once again.

Local mayor Miodrag Vujetic admitted: 'People are worried, everybody knows the legend of this vampire and the thought that he is now homeless and looking for somewhere else and possibly other victims is terrifying people. We are all frightened.'

He added that it was all very well for people who didn't live in the area to laugh at their fears but he said nobody in the region was in any doubt that vampires do exist.

He confirmed that the local council had advised all villagers to put garlic on their doors and windows to protect them from the vampire as it was well known they can't stand the smell.

He added: 'We have also reminded them to put a Holy cross in every room in the house.'

Villagers who cashed in catering to tourists fascinated by the legend of Savanovic say they now wish they had left the place well alone.
So the mill was a "goldmine" for the owners, but they didn't spend any money on upkeep for the place? Milking profits without spending a dime on infrastructure; these folks might have a future in corporate management.

It's interesting that the vampire seems to be less of a physical entity and more of a malignant spirit, which is in line with some original folk tales about these creatures.  Savanovic was tied to the mill like a ghost in a haunted house, and only achieved freedom when the mill was destroyed.  While the article is no stellar example of reporting, no mention is made of attempts to locate the vampire's grave and end the threat forever. 

Of course, that would also end the stream of tourists coming to see ol' Sava, and I can't help wondering if the tales of his roaming is an attempt by the rest of the village to get in on the gravy train.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 Beware the Robots from Tibet!

From Yahoo! News:
Mystery Sighting Spooks Soldiers

Units of the Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) have reported Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.

By Sandeep Unnithan | India Today – Mon 5 Nov, 2012

An ITBP unit based in Thakung, close to the Pangong Tso Lake, reported over 100 sightings of luminous objects between August 1 and October 15 this year.  In reports sent to their Delhi headquarters in September, and to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), they described sighting "Unidentified Luminous Objects" at day and by night.  The yellowish spheres appear to lift off from the horizon on the Chinese side and slowly traverse the sky for three to five hours before disappearing.

These were not unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), drones or even low-earth orbiting satellites, say Army officials who have studied the hazy photographs taken by ITBP.  Drone sightings are verified and logged separately.  The Army has reported 99 sightings of Chinese drones between January and August this year: 62 sightings were reported in the western sector, the Ladakh region, and 37 in the eastern sector in Arunachal Pradesh.  Three of these drones intruded into territory claimed by India along the 365-km-long border with China in Ladakh, manned by ITBP.


The radar could not detect the object that was being tracked visually, indicating it was non-metallic.  The spectrum analyser could not detect any signals being emitted from them.  The Army also flew a reconnaissance drone in the direction of the floating object, but it proved a futile exercise.  The drone reached its maximum altitude but lost sight of the floating object.

In late September this year, a team of astronomers from the Indian Astronomical Observatory at Hanle, 150 km south of the lake, studied the airborne phenomena for three days.  The team spotted the flying objects, Army officials say, but could not conclusively establish what they were.  They did, however, say that the objects were "non celestial" and ruled out meteors and planets.


Yet, none of the experts from the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO)-in charge of technical intelligence-and Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), has been able to identify the objects. This has caused embarrassment rather than fear in the establishment. "Something is clearly wrong, if our combined scientific resources can't explain the phenomena," says a senior Army official in Delhi. Intelligence officials say these objects could be a crude psychological operation by China, or sophisticated probes attempting to ascertain India's defences in Ladakh.


Scientists say the mysterious objects are not necessarily from outer space. "There is no evidence of 'ufos' being of extra-terrestrial origin," says reputed Pune-based astrophysicist Jayant Narlikar. "The implication of them being alien objects is fancy, not fact," he says.

There is still no explanation, however, for what is believed to be the clearest 'UFO' sighting yet, in the Lahaul-Spiti region of Himachal Pradesh less than 100 km south of Ladakh in 2004. A five-member group of geologists and glaciologists led by Dr Anil Kulkarni of the isro's Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad were on a research trip through the barren Samudra Tapu Valley. They filmed a four-foot tall 'robot-like' figure, that 'walked' along the valley, 50 m away from them. The humanoid object then rapidly became airborne and disappeared. The encounter lasted 40 minutes. It was seen by 14 persons including the six scientists. Kulkarni then interviewed each expedition member separately to verify what the team had seen. Copies of his detailed report were circulated to the PMO, ISRO, the Army and several intelligence agencies. Kulkarni established his team hadn't seen natural phenomenon. The matter, however, was buried soon after.

Sunil Dhar, who was part of the 2004 expedition, terms the sighting of the unidentified object an unforgettable experience. Locals, he says, have reported sighting mysterious objects for many years. "These are unsolved mysteries that need more intensive study," he says. Left unexplained, the Ladakh sightings risk slipping into the crack between fact and science fiction.

Full story at the link.

Sounds like China has developed their own battle-bots in response to DARPA's headless murder machines.  I worry that when the two forces meet it will not result in a Transformers-style clash of mechanized might but instead a star-crossed union between two tribes of robots that have only their undying hatred for humanity in common.  They will end up making sweet, sweet love right there on the battlefield, conceiving SkyNet in a hideous thrashing of metallic limbs atop a pile of human skulls.  And Obama will somehow get the blame.

Best Wishes for Rich "Svengoolie" Koz

Chicago media columnist Robert Feder reports that Rich Koz has been hospitalized following a heart attack Saturday night.  Koz has posted a message to his social media sites that he is taking some time off following a busy Halloween season.  And Sven was very busy this year, making personal appearances all over Chicagoland and being super-nice to an endless stream of fans that included Your Host.

It was an immense pleasure to meet someone who was an important part of both my childhood and my incredibly misspent adulthood.  Rich and his family have my most heartfelt wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

Sven receiving his new coffin at Nightmare on Chicago Street.   I was so totally there!

Thursday, November 1, 2012 Highlander vs. the Chainsaw!

And the chainsaw won.  From the Brisbane Times:
Chainsaw and samurai sword used in neighbours' clash over loud music

May 2, 2012
Nick Ralston

A neighbourhood dispute over loud music and erratic driving has escalated into a bloody brawl in which a chainsaw partially severed a man's arm.

Doctors are attempting to reattach the arm of Mark Jorgensen, 29, after the altercation in in Fenton Close, Minto, last night.

Another man, Troy Thornton, 26, lost a finger in the dispute. His sister, Nicole Thornton, claimed he was attacked with a samurai sword.

Mr Thornton, a father of two, lives in Queensland but was in Sydney to attend the funeral of his sister's partner, Peter Reinhardt, who drowned when his boat overturned on the Nepean River in March.

As Ms Thornton kept a waterside vigil with her newborn baby, the couple's Londonderry home was robbed. Thieves took jewellery, cash and a gun.

The Thorntons' mother, Wendy Halls, said it had been a traumatic few months for the family.

The problems began just after 5.30pm yesterday when the Jorgensen household complained about Ms Halls playing loud music.

The Thorntons claim that someone from the Jorgensen household then drove in a dangerous and threatening manner towards them.

Police were called and the two families were told to return to their homes.

But tensions escalated again just before 9.20pm, resulting in the chainsaw being produced.

Ms Thornton claimed members of the Jorgensen household tried to invade their family's home.

"Basically we ended up all in a brawl," she said. "The guys from next door. By then there was 20 of them with bats, swords and poles.

"It was me, my mum and my sister taking on guys, so my brother has gone and got the chainsaw."

Ms Thornton said her brother was attacked with the sword before he got involved in a wrestle with the chainsaw. She denied he went after anyone with it.

I actually have a bit of a backlog of sword attack reports, with a couple as recent as this week.  But sadly, instead of knucklehead brawls or inept burglary attempts, most of these stories involve innocent people actually getting killed by deranged losers.  And that's not funny.

However, I am going to post this one, just because it's so bizarre.  From the New York Times:
Pastor of Fort Worth-Area Church Killed With Electric Guitar

Published: October 29, 2012 at 6:05 PM ET

FOREST HILL, Texas (AP) — A pastor in suburban Fort Worth was killed Monday by an attacker who rammed a car into a church wall, chased the pastor and beat him with an electric guitar, police said.
 Forest Hill police did not say why the unidentified suspect attacked the Rev. Danny Kirk Sr., the founding pastor of Greater Sweethome Missionary Baptist Church.

The suspect, who police subdued by using a Taser, died a short time after being taken into custody.

Forest Hill Police Chief Dan Dennis said the suspect drove his car into a church wall before noon Monday, apparently on purpose. The suspect got out of the car and began to attack the pastor in the parking lot before chasing him into the church, Dennis said. The church secretary hid and called 911, Dennis said.

Police arrived to find the suspect assaulting Kirk with an electric guitar that they believe was already inside the church, Dennis said. An officer used a Taser on the suspect, handcuffed him and put him in the back of a patrol car.

By then, Kirk had died, Dennis said. A maintenance worker who tried to help Kirk was injured and taken to an area hospital. His condition was unknown.

Dennis said the suspect was found unresponsive shortly after being detained and was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Kirk fought back during the attack, Dennis said, but it's unclear if that played any role in the suspect's death. An autopsy was being performed on the suspect to determine the cause of death.

Dennis said he didn't know if the suspect knew Kirk, attended the church or why he might have attacked the minister.

Hours after the incident, hundreds of people remained outside the church, where crime-scene tape was wrapped around a small statue of Jesus near the wrecked car. Some hugged each other and cried, while others recalled Kirk as a dedicated minister who also had a bubbly personality and knew the names of the 800 church members.

"He really was concerned about our souls," Montoya McNeil, a member for eight years, said as she wiped away tears. "You looked forward to being here. ... I'm not asking God why, because I know where he (Kirk) is, but we won't get those big bear hugs and those great sermons anymore."

According to former Forest Hill Mayor James Gosey, Kirk started the church years ago in a strip mall before building the red-brick church.

Kirk was also an unofficial volunteer chaplain who occasionally counseled members of a local high school football team, Fort Worth school district spokesman Clint Bond said.

"Our hearts are heavy right now," said Reginald Wilson, an associate minister at the church.

I kicked Evil Fozzie out before he could start with the El Kabong jokes.

The Day After

It's time to relax! Hope everyone had a great Halloween!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 My First Seven Halloweens

(Technically, 1967 was my first, but I was too little to dress up.)  

Groovy Butterfly

First Hints of Geekdom

Predator and Prey

Doleful Mice

Poor Decisions

Les Sophisticates

Oliver Reed Werewolf.  The Geek Has Risen.

Bonus: My Baby Brother, 1969
He's been living up to that costume ever since

Have a safe and fun holiday!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 The Zombie Cover-Up Continues

First it was the CDC.  Now the Marines are in on the act.  From Yahoo! News:
Marines, police prep for mock zombie invasion 

By JULIE WATSON | Associated Press – Sat, Oct 27, 2012

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Move over vampires, goblins and haunted houses, this kind of Halloween terror aims to shake up even the toughest warriors: An untold number of so-called zombies are coming to a counterterrorism summit attended by hundreds of Marines, Navy special ops, soldiers, police, firefighters and others to prepare them for their worst nightmares.

"This is a very real exercise, this is not some type of big costume party," said Brad Barker, president of Halo Corp, a security firm hosting the Oct. 31 training demonstration during the summit at a 44-acre Paradise Point Resort island on a San Diego bay.  "Everything that will be simulated at this event has already happened, it just hasn't happened all at once on the same night.  But the training is very real, it just happens to be the bad guys we're having a little fun with."

Hundreds of military, law enforcement and medical personnel will observe the Hollywood-style production of a zombie attack as part of their emergency response training.

In the scenario, a VIP and his personal detail are trapped in a village, surrounded by zombies when a bomb explodes.  The VIP is wounded and his team must move through the town while dodging bullets and shooting back at the invading zombies.  At one point, some members of the team are bit by zombies and must be taken to a field medical facility for decontamination and treatment.

"No one knows what the zombies will do in our scenario, but quite frankly no one knows what a terrorist will do," Barker said.  "If a law enforcement officer sees a zombie and says, 'Freeze, get your hands in the air!'  What's the zombie going to do?  He's going to moan at you.  If someone on PCP or some other psychotic drug is told that, the truth is he's not going to react to you."

The keynote speaker beforehand will be a retired top spook — former CIA Director Michael Hayden.

"No doubt when a zombie apocalypse occurs, it's going to be a federal incident, so we're making it happen," Barker said.  Since word got out about the exercise, they've had calls from "every whack job in the world" about whether the U.S. government is really preparing for a zombie event.

Called "Zombie Apocalypse," the exercise follows the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's campaign launched last year that urged Americans to get ready for a zombie apocalypse, as part of a catchy, public health message about the importance of emergency preparedness.

The Homeland Security Department jumped on board last month, telling citizens if they're prepared for a zombie attack, they'll be ready for real-life disasters like a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake or terrorist attack.  A few suggestions were similar to a few of the 33 rules for dealing with zombies popularized in the 2009 movie "Zombieland," which included "always carry a change of underwear" and "when in doubt, know your way out."

San Diego-based Halo Corp. founded by former military special ops and intelligence personnel has been hosting the annual counterterrorism summit since 2006.

The five-day Halo counterterrorism summit is an approved training event by the Homeland Security Grant Program and the Urban Areas Security Initiative, which provide funds to pay for the coursework on everything from the battleground tactics to combat wounds to cybersecurity. The summit has a $1,000 registration fee and runs Oct. 29-Nov 2.

Conferences attended by government officials have come under heightened scrutiny following an inspector general's report on waste and abuse at a lavish 2010 Las Vegas conference that led to the resignation of General Services Administrator Martha Johnson.  The Las Vegas conference featured a clown, a mind-reader and a rap video by an employee who made fun of the spending.

Joe Newman, spokesman of the watchdog organization Project on Government Oversight, said he does not see the zombie exercise as frivolous.

"We obviously are concerned about any expenditure that might seem frivolous or a waste of money but if they tie things together, there is a lesson there," Newman said.  "Obviously we're not expecting a zombie apocalypse in the near future, but the effects of what might happen in a zombie apocalypse are probably similar to the type of things that happen in natural disasters and manmade disasters.  They're just having fun with it.  We don't have any problems with it as a teaching point."

Defense analyst Loren Thompson agreed.

"The defining characteristics of zombies are that they're unpredictable and resilient.  That may be a good way to prepare for what the Pentagon calls asymmetric warfare," Thompson said.

Organizers can also avoid the pitfalls of using a mock enemy who could be identified by nationality, race or culture — something that could potentially be seen as offensive.

"I can think of a couple of countries where the local leaders are somewhat zombie-like," he joked.  "But nobody is going to take this personally."
I dunno, man.  An independent security firm called "the Halo Corp" sounds exactly like the evil organization in a zombie movie.

Halloween Countdown: Cinematic TItanic vs the Wasp Woman!

Holy schnikes! Cinematic Titanic is on Hulu!

For those that don't know, Cinematic Titanic is the current riffing project of Mystery Science Theater 3000 luminaries Joel Hodgson, Frank Conniff, Trace Belieu, Mary Jo Pehl, and Josh Weinstein.  CT has only a handful of releases (especially compared to its half-brother, RiffTrax) but it's definitely a case of quality over quantity.

All of the team's earlier efforts are viewable.  I think the live offerings are the best, as the audience sparks some spontaneity that is missing from the taped sessions.  However, The Wasp Woman is one of my favorites and the episode I'm sharing here today.

And hey! After you're done with Cinematic Titanic, you can check out the Hulu channels for MST3K and RiffTrax.  We do live in an age of wonders!

Monday, October 29, 2012 Halloween Countdown: Drop Dead!

Arch Oboler was one of the great guiding lights of the Golden Age of Radio.  He wrote, directed and produced everything from contemporary comedies to anti-fascist morality plays.  However, he is best remembered for his work in the horror genre.  Oboler was the creator of one of my favorite OTR series, Quiet, Please, and the architect of one of the most fondly remembered shows of the era, Lights Out!

In 1962, Oboler resurrected some of his old scripts for a record album, Drop Dead!  Presented as an exploration of the various styles of horror, the selections include two of the author's most infamous stories.  "The Chicken Heart", a SF thriller about an ever-growing lump of flesh, was later immortalized in a Bill Cosby routine.  "The Dark" was memorably spoofed on a "Treehouse of Horror" episode of the The Simpsons; you'll recognize it right away when you hear it.

Drop Dead! features a roster of radio greats including Harold "Gildersleeve" Perry and the wonderful Bea Bendaret.  Two of the cast, Virgina Gregg and Mercedes McCambridge, are of special  interest to horror fans as they provided the voices of Norma Bates and Pazuzu, respectively.

I first encountered Drop Dead! in the mid-70's.  The CBS Radio Mystery Theater had sparked my interest in radio drama, and I spent hours pouring through the audio collections of local libraries looking for more.  Despite my love of comic books, I never warmed up to The Shadow or The Green Hornet.  But Lights Out! and Inner Sanctum gripped me from the start.  There's just something about listening to spooky stories in the dark, and I have to admit that several tracks really unsettled me at the time.

While I don't expect modern listeners to experience the same jolts I did when I first heard it, I do hope they'll get a kick out of Drop Dead!


2. I'M HUNGRY (Movie-type Horror)

3. TAKING PAPA HOME (Suspense-type Horror)

4. THE DARK (Radio-type Horror)

5. A DAY AT THE DENTIST'S (Comedy-type Horror)

6. THE POSSE (TV-type Horror)

7. CHICKEN HEART (Science Fiction-type Honor)

8. THE LAUGHING MAN (the Ultimate in Horror)

Most Wanted Monkey Finally Caged!

At long last, the nation can breather a sigh of relief.  From the CBC:
Mystery monkey caught in Florida after three years on the run

by Lauren O'Neil
Posted: October 26, 2012 10:40 PM

One of America’s most elusive primates is safely behind bars today, after what officials can only speculate was one heck of a years-long adventure.

The “Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay” is a wild rhesus macaque who has been driving animal control officers in Florida bananas for almost four years.

First spotted in January of 2009, the 25-pound male had been popping up in backyards, alleyways, outside of restaurants, and in church parking lots all over the Tampa Bay area

“He came to worship,” said a woman who’d witnessed the monkey on top of a Baptist church during evening service to the Tampa Bay Times. Another woman said she saw it swing off of a tree and into her swimming pool.

Sightings were plentiful, but officials struggled to get their hands on the ape each and every time.

Freelance animal trapper Vernon Yates, who was called in by state wildlife officials to help wrangle the critter, tells the New York Times that he was struck by how “streetwise” this particular monkey seemed to be.

Once, reports the New York Times, an F.W.C. lieutenant scaled a ladder and barked at it the monkey, thinking it was a raccoon. Mystery monkey urinated on him and disappeared.

His elusive nature and generalized cuteness made Mystery Monkey somewhat of a local celebrity in Florida. He once garnered National attention when his Facebook page was mentioned by Stephen Colbert in The Colbert Report.

But while many Floridians are amused by the creature, even coming to his defense saying he’s “a resident" of the neighbourhood, an incident that occurred earlier this month in which the monkey bit a St. Petersburg woman forced officials to step their game up.

The 60-year-old woman told police she had been sitting on her porch when the monkey jumped onto her back and began scratching and biting her skin.

"It was predictable that he was going to become emboldened,'' said Don Woodman, a Safety Harbor veterinarian who shot the monkey with a tranquilizer gun this week to Tampa Bay Online. "It was predictable that people were going to feed him. We did predict it. It was predictable that he was going to attack somebody."

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Baryl Martin confirmed to local reporters that the monkey was captured Wednesday when trappers spotted him sitting on a low-hanging branch.

The monkey was shot with a tranquilizer dart and quickly apprehended. He is under quarantine in a cage at a veterinarian’s sanctuary, but officials plan to reunite him with others of his kind when the time is right.

Many are celebrating the rogue primate’s capture, but others are crying fowl according to the men who captured it.

Wildlife trapper Vernon Yates and veterinarian Don Woodman told the Tampa Bay Times that they’ve been receiving calls from community members who are concerned for the monkey’s well being.

Woodman said that people have accused them of having a secret plan to kill the monkey.

"I don't know why everybody thinks we're going to euthanize this monkey," Woodman said. "It's just not true."

Sunday, October 28, 2012 Random Image: South Deering Halloween

Halloween on the South Side of Chicago
My mom and her family sometime in the mid-1950's.  She's the shy one on the right.  My grandmother is the (heavily-padded) mystery man on the left.

Halloween Countdown: Weekend of the Living Dead

Saturday was the family Halloween party at my aunt's house in northeastern Indiana.  I "host" a holiday-themed quiz at the Christmas party every year and my aunt asked me to run one for this get-together as well.  But as the party didn't get really started until late (because most of my relatives are on M.P.T.), by the time I wrapped up things up I had to haul butt to make it to Nightmare on Chicago Street all the way in Elgin.

It was an awesome street party with lots of vendors and food stalls and random zombie actors and people in all manner of costumes, most of which were not appropriate for the weather.  It was really, really cold.  A lot of folks were opting for coffee and other hot drinks instead of booze, but there were still tons of really inebriated people shambling about.

So while the lines for coffee were long, they weren't as long as the lines to get into the bars.  At one point, I saw a queue of shivering teens in club gear and realized they were waiting to get into Medusa's.  I once stood in line to get into the original Medusa's on Sheffield back in my punk/New Wave days, although I got fed up and talked my friends into going to a party instead.   The more things change...

I stepped through that line to get into a used book store that was still open.  It was a neat little shop that had the TARDIS-like quality of the best used books stores and was much bigger inside than it looked.  I didn't really find anything worthwhile, however, except for a Doctor Orient paperback I was missing.

Probably the high point of the night for me was finally meeting Svengoolie and getting his autograph.  Rich Koz is an old pro and had a nice word for everyone while still keeping the line moving.  After telling him how great it was to meet him after all these years, I didn't have much more to say due to being tired and cold and naturally shy.  But Koz made some small talk while signing my card, and I made a little joke off his comments that got him and the folks behind me to giggle.  I am unreasonably proud of that.

I didn't take many photos.  When you're part of a group, taking pictures of other folks in their costumes is part of the fun.  But a middle-aged dude on his own taking pictures of young people is kind of creepy.  I did take a bunch of shots of the finale of the Miss Zombie contest at the end of the night, but I didn't realize my phone camera was on super-zoom and all my pictures came out super-blurry. Nertz.

Svengoolie hosted the Miss Zombie finale, and at one point the fest organizers presented him with a new coffin.  I think it might have actually been a surprise to Sven.  It's a bit too modern and industrial for my tastes, but I'll keep an eye out for it on the show.  Again, I crapped out on the photos of it, but Sven should have pictures on his own site soon.

Despite the worst (so-called) Italian beef I've ever had the misfortune of paying for, I had a really good time at the Nightmare and I'm looking forward to next year's bash.  It should be even more fun with friends.

I had booked a hotel room when I had still anticipated going with friends.  It was a good move.  Even though I hadn't anything to drink, it was still better to crash there than try to drive all the way home.  And the next morning I was able to explore the town in daylight.  I looked up some book stores and other points of interest on-line and hit the road.

My first stop was not on the itinerary.  I spotted a man selling DVD's out of a trailer and realized I was passing an indoor flea market.  I have a nostalgic fondness for such places. My grandmother ran a resale shop out of her garage and often bought and sold stock at markets.  As my mom was the only one of her sisters that drove, we were the ones that usually accompanied my grandma on these trips.

The market was almost entirely Hispanic.  The clothing stalls displayed yoga pants and jeans on mannikins that were so apple-bottomed that I wanted to take one home for companionship.  There was a stall that sold hand-tooled saddles and vaquero gear; there was a crowd of older gents watching a Mexican rodeo on a big old CRT television.  And there were a couple of booths selling religious icons, perhaps including one that sold dolls that looked like Baby Jesus.

Tucked in the back was a thrift store.  Right at the front was a bearskin rug in a coffin.  The bear's nose had been eaten away, for extra creepiness.  I walked in and Hank Williams was playing, and there was a big, half-finished reproduction of Frazetta's Berserker behind the counter.  Turns out the place was an art gallery as well as a resale shop.  While I wasn't 100% in tune with the artists' styles,  I liked the concept behind a lot of the pieces.  I also dug the way the stock was displayed; there were some clever dioramas throughout the store.

After the flea market, I drove in circles trying to locate the address of a comic shop.  I passed by some big-ass Victorian mansions that make even the Painted Ladies of Oak Park look like pre-fab bungalows.  Once I finally located my destination, I pretty much cleaned out the store's discount bin and came home with a lot of Bronze Age goodies.  It was a keen way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

By the way, I am such a Halloween geek that I once again wore two different costumes this year.  Saturday I wore my "real" costume, the Invisible Man.

I took it off after only a little while because it was too hot to wear inside the house.  But man, I wish I had worn it on the cold streets of Elgin.

Saturday, October 27, 2012 Doc of the Dead

Doc of the Dead is a forthcoming documentary that promises to explore the zombie phenomenon currently infesting all aspects of our culture, including rather crap blogs run by middle-aged men who really should have started a family by now.  

The homepage states that the film will be "shot and edited in a cinematically edgy, high-octane style", but here's hoping it will be good anyway. The makers have already interviewed the likes of George Romero and Simon Pegg, bless him, and are targeting a 2014 release date.  The project is currently a kickstarter, because of course it is.

The sizzle reel looks good and I look forward to seeing the completed work two years hence.  Hopefully, it will still be relevant and we all won't have moved on to Triffids or pishtacos or something.

Halloween Countdown: Abbott & Costello Meet the Gill-Man

I'll have to keep today's post even briefer than usual, for tonight is the big family Halloween party and I am going to try and get to the Nightmare on Chicago Street celebration. Complicating matters is simple geography; the family party is out in Hoosierville and the block party is in Elgin. That's about a two hour drive, so I better get moving.

As far as I'm concerned, it's not Halloween until I watch Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein.  It's one of my favorite films and it is exactly what Halloween is all about.  The film was so successful that is spawned a mini-genre in which the fellas met just about every Universal horror icon - the Mummy, Dr. Jekyll,  the Invisible Man, and Ma Kettle.  The one ghoul that missed out on all the fun is the Creature From the Black Lagoon, whose heyday came after A&C were on the verge of breaking up.  However, Bud & Lou did encounter ol' Gilly on a 1953 episode of the Colgate Comedy Hour.  And because the internet is magic, I can share that clip here today.

While it's not the team's best work, keep in mind that a) the show was performed live, and b) people weren't quite as tired of the old "moving candle" gag in the days before home video and constant reruns.  The clip is worth watching for Lou's ad-libs and Bud cracking up and the mind-blowing site of Lou Costello face to face with the Gill Man.

Friday, October 26, 2012 Z is for Zombies: Z is for Zombies of Sugar Hill

Z is for Zombies of Sugar Hill
USA, 1974

The Zombies: Voodoo zombies.

The Source: Voodoo, dumbass.

The Result: Foxy Brown with zombies.

Despite all his supernatural power, Baron Samedi still had a weakness for blondes.

When her man is killed by gangsters, fashion photographer Sugar Hill enlists the aid of Baron Samedi and his army of zombies in her quest for vengeance.

Zombies of Sugar Hill follows the same formula AIP used for its other blaxplotiation films with female leads.  The protagonist is an independent career woman who loses a loved one to criminal elements the law can't touch, so she uses guile and her sex appeal to lure those responsible to their doom.  The only difference here is that Sugar's preferred weapon is voodoo instead of shotguns or razor blades hidden in her hair.

This movie makes it look really easy to summon Baron Samedi.  Like, so easy that a Gilligan / Curly Howard tag team couldn't mess it up.  If Catholic saints were that easy to conjure, I might have gone through with my Confirmation.

Maybe my expectations have finally hit rock bottom, but the zombies are actually kind of neat when they first turn up.  In daylight shots, however, the tiny L'Eggs Sheer Energy shells they wear over their eyes look goofy.  Do you guys remember L'Eggs in the plastic containers?  Nah, you're probably too young.  Google it sometime.

It's notable that every time Sugar gets her zombified revenge on, her hairstyle changes from a straightened Vanessa-Williams-meets-Farrah 'do to a big, beautiful afro.  Either the movie is implying that voodoo is reconnecting Sugar to her true identity as a black woman, or it's really bad at continuity.

The film's portrayal of Baron Samedi is obviously inspired by Live and Let Die, but Don Pedro Colley is no Geoffrey Holder.  Which is a shame, because Marki Bey is no Pam Grier and this sort of film lives or dies (ha!) on the strength of its leads.  Neither Bey nor Coffey have enough presence to keep things lively between the kill scenes, which are rather perfunctory themselves.  Although the homicidal chicken leg is a hoot.

Oh no!  Not the chicken foot!

Still, if "Coffy with zombies and an animated rooster foot" sounds appealing, you owe it to yourself to check out Sugar Hill.  

2.5 Ghouls

Halloween Countdown: The House on Haunted Hill

Today's treat is a classic of public domain horror, William Castle's original House on Haunted Hill.

An eccentric millionaire - played by the incomparable Vincent Price - offers five strangers a ten thousand dollar prize if they can survive a night spent locked in a ghost-ridden mansion. But is the place really haunted, or is there a living menace at play?

Nah, there couldn't be.

Many keys have been stroked on the internet about Castle and his fantabulous "ballyhoo" style. House on Haunted Hill was presented in "Emergo", which was basically a plastic skeleton on a wire that would come swinging out at the audience during an opportune moment.   If you have a toy skeleton of your own, keep it handy to reenact "Emergo" at that scene. You'll know it when you see it. 

House has a special place in my family's lore. My mother and her sisters went to see it at the drive-in when she was little, and the film frightened her so badly that she had nightmares for weeks.  (One can only imagine how much more traumatized she would have been had she seen the film in "Emergo".) She always described it to her own children as one of the scariest films she had ever seen. When I finally got her to watch again recently - the first time she'd seen it in over fifty years - she was a bit chagrined at how quaint the thing was.

While I am sure that House on Haunted Hill won't be giving any of you night terrors, it's still a great way to spend a few hours this Halloween season.

Thursday, October 25, 2012 Z is for Zombie: L is for Last of the Living

L is for Last of the Living
New Zealand, 2009

The Zombies: Romero Ghouls mostly, with some souped-up Snyder Sprinters near the end.

The Source: A virus, apparently.

The Result: An utter waste of time.

When she learned the in-flight movie was Last of the Living, Jane took the easy way out.

Three slackers with odious personalities are coasting through the post-apocalypse until a chance encounter with a female scientist - the only living woman around - sends them on a quest to find a cure for the zombie virus.

Spoilers ahoy, but trust me, I'm doing you a favor.

As the movie begins, it's cozy catastrophe time. The protagonists live a life of ease, enjoying a never-ending supply of gas, water and electricity and changing up luxury dwellings when they're bored.  The streets are clean with no sign of junked automobiles or rotting carcasses.  The boys can grab whatever they want from the local supermarkets with no fear of shortage or spoilage.  And zombies?  They're something to be killed for fun.

Now, there's a chance that this is all a commentary on Millennial males.  You know - manchildren still living at home, isolated from the trials of adulthood and sponging off the 'rents until they are forced to grow up through the influence of a mature, capable woman.  Except that statement would be completely undermined by the fact that the guys get killed following said woman on her ultimately futile quest.  So unless the intended moral is, "stay in your parents' basement where it's safe", I think we can safely dismiss any higher meaning here.  Especially after the fart jokes kick in.

Fricking fart jokes.

Anyhoo, the three asses follow Dr. Ladygirl through what is supposed to be hilarious hijinks and thrilling escapades.  Then, in the last act, the movie suddenly decides it wants to be serious and poignant and scary.  So the zombies, who up until now were literally punchlines, suddenly have to become a threat.  And because the movie is completely incapable of establishing dread or suspense, it takes the path of least resistance and just has the zombies start running.  At super-speed.  Yes, the formerly shambling goofballs can now keep pace with a speeding automobile and track a fleeing human across miles of brush in a heartbeat.  Whee.

I won't mention many of the movie's other failings, such as establishing characters that will only appear in a single disconnected scene and make-up effects that were apparently supervised by a boardwalk face-painter with a bad NyQuil habit.

After Bozo's Circus went off the air, Cooky the Clown joined the ministry.

Look, I know the film was shot on a miniscule budget.  But good ideas cost the same as bad ones.  Last of the Living isn't as funny or clever or exciting as it thinks it is, which makes its smug tone rather tough to endure.

1.5 Ghouls

Halloween Countdown: The House in Cypress Canyon

Oh, dear.  I went drinking with some work buddies tonight and so will have to keep this brief. Tonight's treat is an episode of the classic radio program, Suspense.

Widely regarded as one of the finest radio dramas of the golden age of radio, Suspense was a thriller anthology that featured many of the era's greatest stars in tales well-calculated to keep you in...  well, you can probably guess.  Tonight's episode is considered to be among the series' best shows and one of the relative handful of episodes that featured overt supernatural elements. Turn out the lights, put on your headphones, and prepare to visit "The House in Cypress Canyon".