Tomorrow is the Big Night!

halloween

Halloween is finally here! I’ve been gorging myself on scary movies all week. Next week I’ll be gorging myself on my kids’ candy! Shh, please don’t tell them. In past years they have actually hidden their Halloween candies from me. I’m going to need all that sugar to fuel my first ever participation in NaNoWriMo!

Usually on Halloween night, after all the trick-or-treaters have gone to bed, we like to listen to spooky tales. I have a few shows that I would like to recommend if you are up for the same type of entertainment.

Jim Harold is the king of paranormal podcasting. He has a show called Jim Harold’s Campfire where listeners call in with their own paranormal experiences. The stories are always entertaining and some are downright terrifying. The thing I like most about Jim is how respectful and engaging he is with his guests.

I listen to The Darkness on the Edge of Town regularly. It is  hosted by Dave Schrader (you may recognize him from guest hosting of Coast to Coast). This show delves into various paranormal topics from diverse viewpoints. Dave is a talented interviewer and makes each episode entertaining, no matter how “interesting” the guest. Once a week listeners can call in or email their own paranormal experiences and tales. Darkness Radio can be heard live out of Minnesota, by podcast, TuneIn, I heart Radio, and Stitcher.

For the younger crowd, the well known scary story crafter R.L. Stine, has some audio stories on his website in a feature called Rainy Night Theater. The stories are as spooky as his Goosebumps and Fear Street book stories.

You could always sit around and read aloud from by blog! Whatever you do, have a safe and fun time. This is one night that you should turn off the lights!

Advertisements

How a Drunk and the Devil Shaped Our Most Iconic Halloween Symbol

fire-398808_1280

I’m taking a break from NaNoWriMo preparations to enjoy the holiday. We slammed some Halloween fun and a birthday celebration into the last couple of days. The weekend festivities ended with the traditional carving of the pumpkins.

You are likely aware that most Halloween traditions have roots in the Celtic holiday of Samhain which marked the end of summer and final harvest time. It was also a period when supernatural forces were particularly active. On this night the door to the spirit world opened and spirits were allowed to freely roam the Earth. To keep evil spirits away, raging bonfires were lit.

In the middle-ages the festival morphed into All Hallows Eve. Eventually the bonfires were toned down to hallowed out gourds and turnip lanterns. When Irish immigrants came to America they found that the native pumpkin was a superior way to create these lanterns. Ta-dah, the jack-o-lantern was born.

You might not believe this looking at my profile picture but my Pop is pure Scotch/Irish with the surname to prove it! There is an Irish folktale that tells a much more interesting story about how jack-o-lanterns came to be.

Stingy-Jack forever doomed to roam the Earth.

Stingy-Jack forever doomed to roam the Earth.

There once was a man named Stingy-Jack. He liked to drink, hang out at the pub, mooch off of everybody for drinks, and to play tricks on them because he fancied himself so much smarter than they. He wasn’t an especially likable fellow. So much so, that one Hallows Eve he found himself face to face with the Devil.

Stingy-Jack was sure he could outsmart the Devil, so he offered his soul in exchange for a drink. The Devil quickly changed himself into a coin to pay for the drink. He didn’t know that Stingy-Jack had already mooched a coin from another patron to pay for the drink. He snatched up the coin and put it in his pocket next to a silver cross that he always carried. Because of the cross, the Devil could not change into his real form and was trapped as a coin. Stingy-Jack refused to free the Devil until he promised not to claim his soul for ten years. The Devil agreed and Stingy-Jack released him.

Fast forward ten years. Stingy-Jack was walking along a darkened country road when the Devil came to collect what was due to him. Again, Stingy-Jack used his tricky ways. He told the Devil he would go but could the Devil please climb the tree and get him an apple first?

For whatever reason, the Devil went up the tree to get the apple and Jack quickly etched a cross on the trunk. The Devil now could not climb down from the tree. Jack made the Devil promise not to collect his soul now or when he eventually died. The Devil was furious but had no choice other than to agree.

Several years later Jack passed-away. He presented himself to the gates of heaven but was told he could not enter because of his deceitful, drunken life. He then presented himself to hell. The Devil remembered the promise he had made and refused him entrance. Instead, he was banished to roam the Earth forever with only a turnip lantern to light his way. This doomed ghostly figure was referred to as Jack of the Lantern and eventually Jack O’Lantern. In Ireland and Scotland people began placing their own version of Jack’s lantern in windows and doorways to keep evil spirits at bay.

As you carve your own jack-o-lanterns keep poor Stingy-Jack in mind. I think he actually got it easy compared to an eternity in hell!

My Family's Creations this Halloween.

My Family’s Creations this Halloween.

Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!

Wild West Haunt

The Buckhorn ExchangeSome people wait until this time of the year to do one of my favorite things. But heck, life is short so I do it all year round. That activity is to visit areas around my state that are reportedly haunted. It’s my kind of fun. Just a couple of weeks ago I had dinner at The Buckhorn Exchange in Denver. This place embodies the spirit of the wild west like no other place I know.

The two story building opened for business in 1893 on Osage Street, the upper floor served as a lodge for railroad workers. The Rio Grande Railroad yards were directly across the street, today it is still rail yards and the light rail commuter train. The Buckhorn Exchange also hosted cattle barons, miners, gamblers, and Native American chiefs in the saloon and restaurant. As time progressed, astronauts, Presidents, and Hollywood legends have dined there as well. Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Bob Hope, Charleton Heston, Roy Rogers, and Jack Swigert have all stopped in for a meal and likely a beer. After all, The Buckhorn Exchange holds Colorado Liquor License No. 1.

They have a terrific menu that offers some exotic fare including ostrich, alligator, and Rocky Mountain oysters (no, I did not eat those and they do not come from the ocean!). We had the best fried artichoke hearts to start with. Then I had a steak that was absolutely superb. I also bellied up to the bar for a cocktail.

The ornate white oak bar and back-bar, made in Essen, Germany in 1857 and brought here by the the family of the original owner, Henry H. "Shorty Scout" Zietz.

The ornate white oak bar and back-bar, made in Essen, Germany in 1857 and brought here by the the family of the original owner, Henry H. “Shorty Scout” Zietz.

The decor reflects the rich history of the Buckhorn. Most notably, a 575 piece taxidermy collection with everything from a two-headed calf to a jackalope. On display is also a 125 piece gun collection with firearms dating as far back as 1889. There is an abundance of photographs and other historic pieces.

Some of the collection at the Buckhorn

Sample of the collection at the Buckhorn

Reports of footsteps, voices, and tables moving by themselves are reported. Considering how long it’s been around and all the artifacts it’s not surprising that a spirit or two is there. Sadly, on the evening I was there the only spirits I saw were coming from the bar area. I could see why some of the railroad workers, miners, and such would want to stick around; it’s comfortable and the food is wonderful. I was hoping for a pleasant surprise in the photos I took, like what happened at the Stanley Hotel. I didn’t see anything, let me know if you do.

If you are ever in this neck of the woods give this place a visit. If you’ve been there and had an experience share it with me, I’d love to hear about it. Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights.