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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

HERE IS A LITTLE MONSTER MOVIE TRIVIA FOR YOU! AH! AH! AH!






  • In his recent autobiography, Ernest Borgnine reveals that his friend George Lindsay, Goober on "The Andy Griffith Show", turned down the part of "Mr. Spock" on TV's "Star Trek". Lindsay, by the way, started out as a science teacher.






  • James Whale said his Frankenstein (1931 star, Boris Karloff. "His face fascinated me. I made drawings of his head, adding sharp bony ridges where I imagined the skull might have joined".






  • The U.S. Air Force refused to help in the filming of Howard Hawks' The Thing (1951), because the theme of the movie was counter to the Air Force's claim that flying saucers don't exist. In fact, one crew member (Dewey Martin) reads a quote from Air Force regulations denying flying saucers to the others as they are flying near the UFO crash site.






  • In George Pal's War of the Worlds (1953), the unique Flying Wing aircraft that drops the atom bomb on the advancing Martians was a prototype and remains, to this day, the only aircraft of its model in existence.






  • The title character in King Kong (1933), was actually an aluminum skeleton, covered by molded sponge rubber covered with rabbit fur. In New York scenes, the Long model was 24 inches tall. He was smaller at a one inch- to one foot ratio in the earlier jungle sequences. Certain body parts were constructed on a massive scale when actors were featured in the scene, as when Fay Wray is nestled in the 8 foot cranelike structure that was Kong's paw. Three men were inside Kong's head to operate it.






  • John Candy was originally supposed to be the young lawyer in Ghostbusters (1984), but Rick Moranis was ultimately hired to play the character, which he helped develop.






  • Bela Lugosi only made $700 dollars for his seven week role in Dracula (1930). Of course, star making roles such as Lugosi's turn as the blood thirsty count routinely make little for the then unknown actors who make them. They make their bundle on subsequent movies.






  • The director of Vincent Price's excellent House of Wax (1953), had one eye. What's ironic is that Andre de Toth produced one of the best known 3D movies of the period, which he was unable to enjoy.






  • The Bates mansion in Psycho (1960), was built to 2/3's scale to heighten the dramatic impact. It appeared in sequels as well as TV episodes, as on CBS's Murder She Wrote.


  • CANDY, COSTUMES AND CAVITIES, WHAT DOES IT ALL ADD UP TO???




        From pumpkin farmers to confectioners to costume shops and beyond, Halloween is big business in the U.S.--generating nearly $6 billion annually in retail sector alone. We dig into the numbers to show where the big money is spent, on everything from national charities to neighborhood dentists.


    • 36 million-Number of trick-or-treat aged kids 5 to 13 in the U.S.

    • 93%-Percentage of children who get to dress up and go door to door.

    • $5.77 billion-Total spent in 2008 on Halloween, including candy, parties and witches' brew.

    • $140 million-Money Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF has raised since 1950.

    • 51.8 million-Number of adults who don their sexy nurse, pimp or pirate outfits on Halloween.

    • 73.4%-Percentage of households that say they will dish out treats on Halloween (26.6%: Number of households just asking for a nasty trick)

    • 28%-Number of children, aged 2 to 5, who will get cavities.

    • 1.1 billion-Pounds of pumpkins decorated, turned into pie and smashed in the U.S. each year.

    GOLDEN WEEK IN JAPAN!




        Golden Week (Gōruden Wīku), often abbreviated to simply GW and also known as Ōgon shūkan ( "Golden Week") or Ōgata renkyū ( "Large consecutive holiday") is a Japanese term applied to the period containing the following public holidays:



    April 29

       Emperor's Birthday (Tennō tanjōbi), until 1988
       Greenery Day (Midori no hi), from 1989 until 2006
       Shōwa Day (Shōwa no hi), from 2007




    Perhaps a little kite flying during this holiday


    May 3

       Constitution Memorial Day ( Kenpō kinenbi)

    May 4

        Holiday (Kokumin no kyūjitsu), from 1985 until 2006
        Greenery Day (Midori no hi), from 2007

    May 5

        Children's Day (Kodomo no hi), also customarily known as Boys' Day (Tango no sekku)




    Heading out to a movie or dinner for Golden Week



    History

        The National Holiday Laws, promulgated in July 1948, declared nine official holidays. Since many were concentrated in a week spanning the end of April to early May, many leisure-based industries experienced spikes in their revenues. The film industry was no exception. In 1951, the film Jiyū Gakkō, recorded higher ticket sales during this holiday-filled week than any other time in the year (including New Year's and Obon). This prompted the managing director of Daiei Films to dub the week "Golden Week" based on the Japanese radio lingo “golden time,” which denotes the period with the highest listener ratings.






     

        At the time, April 29 was a national holiday celebrating the birth of the Shōwa Emperor. Upon his death in 1989, the day was renamed "Greenery Day."
        In 2007, Greenery Day was moved to May 4, and April 29 was renamed Shōwa Day to commemorate the late Emperor.




    Heading out to a Shrine


    Current Practice

        Many Japanese take paid time off on the intervening work days, but some companies also close down completely and give their employees time off. Golden Week is the longest vacation period of the year for many Japanese jobs. Two other holidays may also be observed for most or all of a week: Japanese New Year in January and Bon Festival in August. Golden Week is an extremely popular time to travel. Flights, trains, and hotels are often fully booked despite significantly higher rates at this time. Popular foreign destinations in Asia, Guam, Saipan, Hawaii, and major cities on the west coast of North America, such as Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco, and    Vancouver, as well as in Europe and Australia, are affected during these seasons by huge numbers of Japanese tourists.

    Monday, May 23, 2016

    SUPRISING SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS'S MOST POPULAR TUNES!!




        The holidays are filled with joyful emotions and honored traditions, including the playing of songs about snowmen, St. Nick, evergreen trees, and presents wrapped up with big bows. No matter how you celebrate the season, you'll hear these songs on the radio, T.V., at the mall, in the office, and just about anywhere music is played.
        If you think the same songs are played over and over, you're right, but if this bothers you, consider the alternative: Christmas carols were banned in England between 1649 and 1660. Oliver Cromwell, serving as Lord Protector of Britain, believed Christmas should be solemn and also banned parties, limiting celebration to sermons and prayer services.
        Lots of holiday songs are festive, many have spiritual overtones, and all are played so often that they are familiar no matter what your faith. But what do you know about how these songs were created and the people who wrote them?
        There are some fascinating facts behind this memorable music. So, toss a log on the fire, pour yourself some eggnog or hot cocoa, and sit back and relax, as we reveal the secrets behind many of the tunes you hear during the Christmas season.








    "The Christmas Song", by Mel Torme and Bob Wells in 1944.

        On a sweltering July day in Los Angeles, 19 year old jazz singer, Torme, worked with 23 year old Wells to create this beautiful tune. Full of wintry images and a charming wistfulness for all the delights of the season, the song became an enormous hit by Nat King Cole the following year. In Torme's autobiography, he says Wells wasn't trying to write lyrics but was simply jotting down ideas that would help him forget about the heat wave.






     

    "The First Noel", Traditional 16th or 17th century carol.
        Some say this is a song with a British background while others insist it has French origins. So far, no one has any definitive proof. Two things are for certain: first, it's very popular if two countries are claiming it, and second, counting the title, the word "Noel" appears in the song 30 times.








    "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing", Felix Mendelssohn, Charles Wesley, and William Cummings, 1739.

        Wesley's opening line was "Hark how all the welkin rings" and he protested when a collegue changed it. Wesley wanted a slow and solemn anthem for his song, but William Cummings set the lyrics to rousing music by Felix Mendolssohn (from a cantata about movable type by inventor Johann Gutenberg). For his part, Mendolssohn specified that his composition only appear in a secular context, not spiritual. So both original authors' wishes were thwarted in the creation of this glorious song.








    "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, 1943.

        The songwriting team of Martin (music) and Blane (lyrics) worked together for 5 decades, producing Oscar and Tony nominated songs. This hauntingly lovely tune was made famous by Judy Garland in the 1944 film, "Meet Me in St. Louis". While the song is a bittersweet gem, the original lyrics were actually darker and not to Garland's liking. Since she was a huge star at the time, and was dating the film's director, Vincent Minnelli (she married him the following year), the changes were made.







    "I'll Be Home For Christmas", Kim Gannon and Walter Kent, 1942.

        Gannon and Kent worked often together, but even with her three Academy Award nominations, nothing was as successful as this wartime song. By getting it to Bing Crosby, they were assured of big sales even though it competed with Crosby's recording of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas". The song is a perennial favorite, and appears often in films, including "Catch Me If You Can" and "The Polar Express".




    "Jingle Bells", James Pierpont, 1850's.
       Starting out as a lively celebration of the Salem Street sleigh races, the song called "One-Horse Open Sleigh", made a fast transition to the more sober atmosphere of the church social and became known as "Jingle Bells". While there are 4 verses, only the first is usually sung, because of the lyrics in the remaining 3 verses. A woman named Fannie Bright appears in verse two, which also features a sleigh crash. The 3rd verse displays an anti-Samaritan laughing at a fallen sleigh driver and leaving him sprawled in a snow bank, while the final verse offers such lines as "Go it while you're young" and "Take the girls tonight". Ah yes, just good clean mid-nineteenth century fun.








    "Joy to the World", Isaac Watts and Lowell Mason, 1719 and 1822.

        The words, inspired by the 98th Psalm, were written by Watts, a British pastor, preacher, and poet. More than a century later, banker and choral teacher Mason composed music for the piece but attributed it to Handel, presumably to make the hymn more popular. It took another century for the hoax to be uncovered.








    "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", Johnny Marks, 1949.

        Beginning as a coloring book written by advertising copywriter Robert L. May in 1939, the story of an unloved caribou triumphing over adversity was a promotional item for Montgomery Wards department stores. May's fairy-tale was enormously popular, and became even more so when May's brother-in-law, songwriter Marks, composed music and lyrics and got the composition to singer Gene Autry. That version sold 2 million copies the first year alone. While most of the other reindeer names were invented by Clement Moore in his 1822 poem, "The Night Before Christmas", the hero of the May story was called Rollo. Wait, that name was nixed by store executives, so he became Reginald. Oops, that was also rejected, too. Finally, May's daughter suggested Rudolf.








    "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", Haven Gillespie and J. Fred Coots, 1932.

        After countless versions by stars as varied as Bruce Springsteen and Perry Como, it's hard to believe that Gillespie and Coots' song was turned down all over town because it was "a kid's song". Even though Coots was a writer on the Eddie Cantor radio show. Cantor at first passed on the song, only agreeing to do it at the urging of his wife. Now it's so successful there's even a parody version by Bob Rivers (in the style of Springsteen) called "Santa Claus is Foolin' Around".








    "Silent Night", Joseph Mohr and Franz X. Gruber, 1916-1818.

        There are numerous stories and fanciful speculations about the origin of this beautiful song. Tossing aside the more lurid stories, we are left with this: the poem, "Stille Nacht", was written by Mohr, who became assistant pastor of the St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, Austria. Mohr gave the poem to Gruber, the church organist, reportedly on Christmas Eve, in 1818, and was performed that same midnight. Oddly, the first version did not involve an organ, but was arranged for two voices, guitar and choir. Both Mohr and Gruber created manuscripts with different instrumentation at various times from 1820 to 1855. The tune first made its way around the world as a "Tyrolean Folk Song" before gaining enough fame to be instantly recognized with its first two words or first four notes. The Silent Night web page claims there are more than 300 translations of the song and features links to 180 versions in 121 languages.









    White Christmas", Irving Berlin, 1942.

        Sometimes considered America's most popular holiday song, Berlin composed it for a movie soundtrack ("Holiday Inn", starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire). With its quiet power and elegant longing for the simple pleasures of the past, it was the perfect song for the gloomy months during the middle of World War II. Composer Berlin was not positive about the song when he first presented it to Crosby, but Bing's confidence was well founded. Spawning a movie of its own (1954's "White Christmas" with Crosby and Danny Kaye), the song hit the Top 30 nearly 20 times and has now sold more than 30 million copies. There are reportedly 500+ recorded versions of the tune in two dozen languages.

    THE BANSHEES OF IRISH FOLKLORE!



        In Irish folklore, the Banshees are known as the ancestral spirits of the Fairy world. Their history extends way back into the dim and mysterious past.
        Banshees are among the oldest Fairy folk of Ireland, associated as strongly as shamrocks and potatoes. Banshees, also known as Bean-Sidhe, were appointed to forewarn members of Irish families of impending death. Her prescence alone brings no harm or evil, but to hear a Banshee in the act of keening is to have witnessed the announcement of the death of a loved one. The Banshee's wail pierces the night and its notes rise and fall like waves over the countryside.
        It is said that Banshees never appear to the one who is to die but to their loved ones. In times gone by she was seen washing human heads, limbs or bloody clothing until the water was dyed with blood. Over the centuries this image changed. The Banshee now paces the land, wringing her hands and crying. Sometimes she is known as the Lady of Death or the Woman of Peace, for despite her wails she is graced with serenity.
        A Banshee won't cry from just anyone. According to legend, each Banshee mourns for members of one family. Some say only the five oldest Irish families have their own Banshees: the O'Neills, O'Briens, O'Gradys, O'Connors and Kavanaghs.
    The Banshee is a solitary Fairy creature who loves the mortal family she is connected to with a fierce, unearthly care and will pace the hills in sorrow when she knows a death is looming.
        She will follow her family's members right across the world-her keening can be heard wherever true Irish are settled, because just like them she never forgets her blood ties. Unseen, she will attend their funerals and her wails mingle with those of the mourners.
    Famous tailes of Banshee sightlings are plentiful. One dating back to 114 AD tells of a Banshee attached to the kingly house of O'Brien who haunted the rock of Craglea above Killaloe. Legend has it that Aibhill the Banshee appeared to the aged King Brian Boru before the Battle of Clontard, Which was fought in the same year.
        A recounting from the 18th century concerns a group of children who on an evening walk saw a little old woman sit on a rock beside the road. She began to wail and clap her hands and the children ran away in fear, only to later discover that the old man who lived in the house behind the rock died at that very moment.
        A little girl in the mid-19th century, standing at the window in her house in Cork, saw a figure o the bridge ahead. She heard the Banshee's wails and the figure disappeared but the next morning her grandfather fell as he was walking and hit his head, never to wake up. The same little girl was an old lady by 1900 and one day when she was very ill her daughter heard wailing round and under her bed. The mother didn't see to hear, but sure enough it protended her death.
        A party on a yacht on a Italian lake told its owner they witness a woman with a shock or red hair and a hellish look in her eyes. The owner, Count Nelsini, formally known a O'Neill, became anxious that the Banshee was announcing the death of his wife or daughter, but within two hours he was seized with an angina attack and died.
    Descriptions of the Banshee vary but she appears in one of three guises; young woman, stately matron or raddled old hag.
    • A Banshee as a beautiful young girl appears with red-gold hair and a green kirtle and scarlet mantle, traditional dress of Ireland.
    • As matron she is said to be tall and striking, contrasting sharply with the dark of night. She is pale and thin, her eyes red from centuries of crying, her silver-grey hair streaming all the way to the ground as her cobweb-like grey-white cloak clings to her body.
    • In the hag guise she usually wears grey, hooded cloaks or the grave robe of the unshriven dead. She may appear as a washer-woman or be shrouded in a dark, mist-like cloak.
    • The Banshee can also appear in other forms, such as a stoat, crow or weasel-animals associated in Ireland with witchcraft.
        One of the most notorious tales of a Banshee comes from the memoirs of Lady Fanshaw. Along with her husband, in 1642 she visited a friend in an ancient baronial castle surrounded by a moat. At midnight she was woken suddenly by a ghastly, supernatural scream. Leaping upright in bed, there was a young, handsome woman hovering outside the window in the moonlight. The woman was pale with dishevelled, loose red hair and wearing a dress in the style of the ancient Irish. The apparition stayed for some time and then disappeared with two loud shrieks.
        When morning came, Lady Fanshaw, not without some trepidation, told her host what she had seen. Her friend looked at her gravely and explained that she had seen the family Banshee, the ghost of a woman of inferior rank who married one of his ancestors, but he drowned her in the moat to atone for the shame he had brought on his family. She had come that night, as she always did, to announce a death in the family-one of his relations passed away in her sleep.
        Always appearing as a woman, there is no shortage of legends of Banshee sightings. Stretching back for more than a millennium, the Banshee, continues ringing a death knell for the witness's loved ones.

    CHEESE ROLLING FROM STILTON, ENGLAND!



        Cheese Rolling has become an annual event in Stilton and every May Day hundreds of villagers and visitors make their way to the main street to watch the teams battling for the honour of being called the "Stilton Cheese Rolling Champions".

    Stilton History and The Cheese



    The Bell Inn, where the rolling starts!



    Ancient Stilton

        No one knows who lived here first - the earliest finds date from the time of the Roman occupation and are probably associated with the road that runs from London to the army fortress at Lincoln, which the Saxons later called Ermine Street.
        For centuries this road seems to have been little used, the important route was the east-west road, Fen Street and Church Street, which is why our oldest building, the Church of St Mary Magdalene, is found away from the main road that now exists.






        Stilton gets three mentions in the Doomesday Book of 1086 as three landowners, the King, the Bishop of Lincoln and Eustace held land here. The Great North Road had become a busy thoroughfare by the fifteenth century and Stilton was a well-known staging post; at one time there were 14 inns or ale houses for a permanent population of around 500 to 600 people. While most earned their living from farming, an analysis of the 1841 census, taken just before the long distance coach trade all but disappeared to be superseded by the railway, showed that occupations directly connected to the coaches were important too.







    Village Pubs &  The Cheese

        All four of the present inns have very ancient origins, even though their buildings have been changed and modernised several times. We owe our famous cheese to the coach trade. Any Stiltonian can relate tales of visitors asking "where is the cheese made?...", only to be told "‘in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire".
        The most widely accepted explanation is that the cheese came down to be sold at one of the coach stops in Stilton, perhaps The Bell or The Angel. As early as 1722 Daniel Defoe (the author of "Robinson Crusoe") ate some here and mentioned that the village was already famous for its cheese. The recipe was passed down through the Beaumont family of Quenby in Leicestershire. By 1830 a former housekeeper at Quenby, Elizabeth Orton, made cheese in her farmhouse. Her daughter married Cooper Thornhill who kept The Bell Inn and he sold the cheese. He was famous (or infamous) as a larger-than-life character who long held the record for riding to London and back.








    Modern Stilton

        Today, all Stilton cheese is factory made, but still only in the three counties with milk produced locally. It takes a gallon of milk to make one pound of cheese and a lot of skilled hard work is still needed. Each cheese matures for 3 months after which the blue veins appear naturally as oxygen is allowed to enter through holes pierced by stainless steel needles. A whole cheese weighs 15lb.



    One of the officials watching a race



        Stilton’s dependence on the main road has been its undoing twice; in the middle of the nineteenth century when the railway line passed to the east through Holme and Yaxley, and in 1959 when the present A1 Stilton by-pass was opened. The village became a ghost village; The Bell actually closed and fell into disrepair and other businesses also disappeared. In 1962 Tom McDonald of The Talbot and Malcolm Moyer of The Bell, aided and abetted by telephone engineer Fred Linstead who provided a telegraph pole, cheered up their drinkers by organising the first ever Cheese Rolling along a course outside the present Post Office on Easter Monday.





    A Little History On The Cheese Roll

    How did it start?

        It would be nice to be able to say that the event is "as old as the village" or that it's origins have been lost in "the mists of time" but really no one knows how far back the tradition of rolling the cheeses goes. Midway through the Twentieth Century, when the village had turned into rather a quiet place having been by-passed by the A1 and the inns and businesses had seen a big drop in their trade, a landlord of one of the pubs decided to revive an ancient tradition. Or so he told everyone! He could be seen rolling a Stilton Cheese along the road outside his pub. People came to stand and watch and eventually joined in. And so the sport began - again.








    The Rules

        It was originally run on Easter Monday and there was not a lot of uniformity to it to begin with. It seems a piece of wood in the shape of a Stilton Cheese was produced, a starting line drawn up somewhere between the The Stilton Cheese Inn and The Talbot and the finish line was outside The Bell Inn. Brave teams of Stilton men would then vie to roll the cheese to it's finish and, after the ensuing scramble, and many tussles and spills, the team that ended up steering the cheese to the finishing line would win! Nowadays, the starting point is always outside The Bell Inn and The Angel and the finish is a line drawn at the cross roads between the bottom of Fen Street and Church Street. The contestants are teams of 4, either all men or all women and each team member has to roll the cheese at least once during it's flight. It's a knockout competition with quarter's, semi's and a grand final.







    Fancy Dress

        Some of the teams wear fancy dress for which there is a good prize and it all adds to the colourful scene. We would like to say that the sport has become more genteel over the years but we still get the tumbles and spills as in former days. The friendly rivalry grows during the competition as each team passes through to the next round so we end up with some very competitive finals!








        The prizes are always the same, a Whole Stilton Cheese and beer for the men and a Whole Stilton Cheese and wine for the ladies. But, of course, the main prizes are to be the winners of the coveted Bell Cup for men or the WI Cup for the ladies and to go down in history as 'Stilton Cheese Rolling Champions'. For more information about next years Cheese Rolling or to obtain an entry form contact the organisers

    Monday, May 16, 2016

    THE GIANT CANDLE RACE FROM ITALY!!



        Trumpets blare, women weep and a giddy crowd roars as burly men carrying towering wooden pillars charge through narrow streets in a medieval tradition of pride and devotion to their patron saint.
        For more than 800 years, the ancient central Italian town of Gubbio has erupted in a riot of yellow, blue and black each May for the "Festa dei Ceri" (Festival of the Candles) to honor patron saint Ubaldo Baldassini, a 12th century bishop.




    one of the teams grimacing with the heavy candle


        In a day filled with feverish festivities that include hurling jugs of water onto a crowd, the highlight is a strenuous race where three teams tear through the town and up a mountain with 400-kg wooden pillars balanced on their shoulders.
        The festival taps into a deep-rooted sense of local pride and tradition -- the sort of fierce identity tied to their town or region that Italians are famous for. Gubbio's residents -- known as "Eugubini" -- scoff that even residents of nearby Perugia would not understand what makes their event so special.








        "There's a lot of kinship between us Eugubini and this is something that really unites us all," said 36-year-old Massimo Fiorini. "Perhaps I haven't seen this guy here for a whole year, but for one day, he and I are brothers."
        The emotion is even stronger for the hundreds of former or current bearers of the wooden pillars known as "ceri" (candles), who struggle for words to describe their exhilaration.








        "The only emotion stronger than this that I have ever felt was when my daughter was born," says Matteo Baldinelli, 40, a so-called "ceraiolo" or candle-bearer dressed in a yellow shirt with a red bandana in honor of his team, St. Ubaldo.
    "It's difficult to explain, this is something that we have been brought up with since we were little, we've lived it all our lives."
        "AN EMOTION LIKE NO OTHER"
        As usual, the festivities began early Friday as drummers wandered through the town at 5 a.m. to wake everyone up, before residents trooped en masse to the local cemetery to pay homage to deceased candle-bearers.



    The Three Saints


        Mass follows, and then the three wooden pillars, each topped with a figure of their respective saint -- St. Ubaldo, St. George or St. Anthony -- are raised upright to a loud roar from a sea of Eugubini packed into a central square.
        "When you see the candle arrive, it's incredible, an emotion like no other," said 43-year old Lorenzo Rughi.
        As per tradition, three men standing halfway up the pillars threw a jug of water onto the crowd, sparking a feverish scramble for broken pieces that are said to bring good fortune.








        The pillars are then whisked away by a team of ceraioli -- eight men to carry it on their shoulders, another eight who provide support, and four for navigation -- through the streets.
        Trouble quickly befell the St. Anthony team, whose cero toppled over into the crowd as the ceraioli turned down a slope, wounding three bystanders. Tragedy was narrowly averted when a baby was pulled from her stroller seconds before it fell.
       Medical staff rushed in, but order was soon restored and the ceri galloped along again, stopping by house windows to pay homage to the old, infirm or deceased, bringing some to tears.




    One of the teams relaxing before the competition



    "   This is so emotional for me," Daniela Angeloni, 41, wept as she held on to a passing cero in memory of her father, a ceraiolo who died this year. "I'm doing this in his honor."
        Almost every family in Gubbio has a longtime allegiance to one of the three teams -- proudly declared on flags hung out of their windows -- and plastic tables on their doorsteps offered passers-by homemade wine, local ham, salami and cheese.
        Communal lunches follow, from an invitation-only affair at a 14th century building where residents dance and wave kerchiefs to more humble cafeteria-style lunches for ceraioli where seafood risotto and bottles of wine are passed around.






        By afternoon, residents are stumbling through the street in a wine-fueled stupor as they await the evening race, which is preceded by the sound of a trumpet and sword-bearing horsemen.
        The climax finally arrives as the ceri thunder through the streets, with St. Ubaldo's yellow-shirted team first, followed by St. George in blue and then St. Anthony in black.
    There is no winner -- the race ends in the same order it starts -- though that's hard to tell from the taunts of "You'll arrive at Christmas at this rate" and emotional embraces and tears at the end, which is followed by more consumption of wine.
        "What I felt inside me when I carried the cero is something that no one else can understand -- we're born with it," said Peppe Minelli, a longtime ceraiolo.
    "The others could tumble and fall, I couldn't have cared less. I only cared about me and my cero."

    WITCHES AND THEIR FLYING MACHINES!



    Stories about air born witches have intrigued the world for a long time. Even
    though there is little evidence that broomstick flying ever took place, the eery consistency of the stories of broomstick flying is too persistent to ignore it. So what was it with broomsticks?
        In many cases, historic records-mostly of court cases, leave us a quite precise description of the way witches were perceived to be operating their wicked or evil magic on the rest of society in the Middle Ages.
        In England, witchcraft was outlawed in legal act in 1542 and 1736, but the laws did not forbid flying. Probably because the legal profession did not believe it a possibility. But there are still many accounts of witches having been seen leaving one place only to turn up several miles away without passing by on the road.
        A linked belief was that witches knew far too much about other people's business, reporting secrets they could not have known or overhearing conversations from far off, says Shantell Powell, who runs a research site on the issue call shanmonster.com.
    Often the accounts of witches' ability to conduct supernatural acts were made by the people in their immediate environment. Historians say that the persons telling the court what they believed they'd witnessed in very many cases shows that they clearly misunderstood some happenings and that in as many cases gross exaggeration was employed to make stories fit.
        Yet the many misgivings revealed by the old historic records do not necessarily mean that the actual accusation themselves were never based on any truth whatsoever.
    "The broomstick flying can be accounted for when the form of early mound-dwellings is taken into consideration", says Margaret Alic Murray, author of "The Witch Cult in Western Europe", an extensive work not only of witch trials but also a well documented study of the beliefs of ancient witch organizations.
        Murray believes that savage European tribes tended to maintain elaborate taboos connected with the door that can be linked to witches' preferred means of departure through windows and chimneys. She also says that the broom was connected to fertility rites, an issue that of course creates the necessary hype in that it is intricately mysterious easily explaining any links with older women.
        For their extent to which broomstick flying stories are part of may European, North American, Asian, African and Middle Eastern countries' folklore, the number of direct confessions or testimonial account of broomstick flying is very small, Murray writes in her research. One eye witness account historically recorded is made by a certain Julian Cox, a woman who in 1664 testified that one evening about a mile from her house, she saw riding towards her three persons on as many "broom-stave's." The three were flying at a height of one and a half yards from the ground, she said.

      






        Another documented account is known as the New England witches and dates back to 1692. Two self professed witches including a Mary Osgood, confessed to riding on a pole and being carried through the air to five-mile pond and back again. Wonder where to? Why, pray, a witches meeting of course.
        Other stories reveal even juicier details. There's even one detailing a flight accident. Not only did the two of the witches named in this documented story independently of each other confess to being carried through the air by the Devil, but both confirmed that they experienced a crash because one of their broomsticks broke. One witch apparently hung about her fellow colleague's neck for a while and then dragged both of them down. They were injured and one of them was bed ridden for months afterwords.
        If the possibly quite strange body position that broomstick flying was likely to have required would have been viewed with utmost suspicion at the time, the punishment of witches might have mimicked such bizarre bodily positioning. Many accounts reveal that the preferred punishment for suspicion of witchcraft (which often ended in death) was a water ordeal in which a person was tied with his right thumb to the left big toe and the left thumb to the right big toe and then thrown in the water. If the person sank, they were considered innocent, but if they somehow kept floating, they could end up being killed. The test would be conducted not by the masses (something that happened in many other circumstances, when hoards of people would turn against a person suspected of being a witch, usually after an incident) but by a few high placed people, in England usually the minister of the parish and other highly regarded persons.
        There are some scientific explanations for the act of flying on a broomstick or "tree riding" as the activity is known in historic records too. Witches were said to fly through the window or up a chimney. Murray's study documents that one of the earliest cases on record of stick-riding does not definitely state that the witch flew through the air they way you still read about in fairy tales or Harry Potter stories. She cites the case of Lady Alice Kyteler. Historic texts reveal that a pipe with ointment was found in this lady's closet, apparently for the use of greasing a stick "upon the which she ambled and galloped through thick and thin, when and in what manner she listed". Similar accounts are found elsewhere in the U.K. and the wording is also quite close to the way the stick-riding of Arab witches is described.
        The potion stories are most believable and scientifically correct. Historic records of confessions of witches also include other means of flying, including simple sticks, pitchforks, poles, fagots, shovels, flying goats, heads of strange animals, cats, bats and humans transformed into animals.
        Scientists say that the recipes for potions or unguents that had been given to the witches by no one less than the Devil himself, are sufficient proof to explain the phenomenon. Apparently, there are the natural herbs mixed together to form the secret ingredients for the "flying" ointments that were said to be applied to the broomsticks, which are really rather phallic, include parsley, water of aconite, poplar leaves, and soot, sweet flag, cinquefoil, bat's blood, deadly night shade, and oil and baby's fat.
        Scientist say that its the mixing together of these ingredients and their effect that likely created the flying stories. Because if you mix up these goodies, you are sure to end up with a pretty hefty poison. "These prescriptions show that the society of witches had a very creditable knowledge of the art of poisoning: aconite and deadly nightshade or belladonna are two of the three most poisonous plants growing freely in Europe", say Murray.







        She adds that it is also very likely that hemlock might have been used by olden day witches, who might have referred to it as persil, which by lots of other practitioners is often erroneously taken to be parsley. But even so, they'd already be pretty scarily close to creating rather poisonous substances. "Aconite was one of the best-known poisons in ancient times; indeed it was so extensively used by professional poisoners in
    Rome during the Empire that a law was passed making its cultivation a capital offence. Aconite root contains about .4 percent of alkaloid and one-fifteenth of a grain of the alkaloid is a lethal dose:, say Murray.
        If administered, the drug is not immediately similar to recreational drugs, yet it slows you heartbeat or makes it irregular and can kill you. If belladonna is added however, the effects are likely to be more drug like, creating delirious consciousness. Far most poisonous of the ingredients is hemlock, which contains alkaloid, only an imperceptible amount of which causes irrevocable death.
        There are other explanations too for the flying sensations experienced by people who were more often than not identified by others as witches, say Powell. Before 1750, a peasant's diet consisted mainly of dark bread, which when moulded often lead to ergot poisoning. "Bread with just a 2% content of ergot, is pink and can cause ergot poisoning, which leads to hallucinations and muscle cramps, dry gangrene, and even death", say Powell. It is a known fact that you can even create LSD from ergot.
    A man in London used several of the herbal ingredients and later wrote this of his experience "The unguent was rubbed on the pulse points of the hands and feet, after 5 minutes, a great feeling of tiredness and coldness overcame me and I lay down, my breathing slowed and I began to feel a bit panicky that I would die, however I convinced myself that if I did go into respiratory collapse or heart failure the instructions I had left with a friend who was attending me would enable him to provide artificial respiration and call an ambulance. My understanding of time became impossible so I could not decide how long my experiences lasted. Eventually I stopped being fearful and my mind seemed to be becoming detached from its normal state, there was still a feeling of coldness then I seemed to be floating upwards. I found myself soaring above the rooftops of London and my body was no longer human it had become amorphous like a giant squid, with its tentacles streaming behind it. With a little concentration I could change my body into virtually any shape I so desired. I seemed to be heading West and eventually came to a hillside, there I met a number of other people who informed me that the meeting place was not on this world but in the stars. I immediately shot into the sky towards a very bright star, I was not alone and as I flew towards the star many others were with me, our bodies seemed to melt into each other and I remember intense sensations of pleasure running up and down my body, which at the same was not my body but every ones, it's difficult to describe. Eventually I came to an enormous hall and walked upon its cold floor towards a flight of steps, either side of the hall were enormous pillars that stretched up so high I could not see a ceiling. As I came to the top of the steps I saw a hooded figure of a woman, she looked at me though her face was hidden by the hood. I suddenly felt an incredible sensation of power emanating from the woman and I became very frightened. The woman began to remove her hood and through fear I averted my gaze, a voice in my head told me to look up, I did and the face of the woman shone so brightly it hurt, not just my eyes but my whole body. I then remember a sensation of falling and cannot remember anything else".
        The use of aconite might have also have had similar effects. Irregular action of the heart in a person falling asleep produces the well-known sensation of suddenly falling through space. If it was then combined with a delirifacient like belladonna the sensation of flying could have been very possible.




    EL COLACHO-THE BABY JUMPING FESTIVAL FROM SPAIN!




        You would be forgiven for being curious about the title of this article because even though Spain boasts some of the most unusual and bizarre festivals compared to the rest of the world, throwing tomatoes over each other as they do in Valencia or being chased down the street by a herd of bulls in Pamplona does not come close to the excitement aroused by the Baby Jumping Festival held each year in Castrillo de Murcia near Burgos.






     

        Baby jumping (El Colacho) is a traditional Spanish practice dating back to 1620 that takes place annually to celebrate the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi in the village of Castrillo de Murcia near Burgos. During the act - known as El Salto del Colacho (the devil's jump) or simply El Colacho – men dressed as the Devil (known as the Colacho) jump over babies born during the previous twelve months of the year who lie on mattresses in the street.








        Anyone who has a newborn addition to their family can bring their baby along to this festival. The festival itself is part of the celebrations held all over Spain for the Catholic festival of Corpus Christi and whilst at this particular time many other cities and towns have spectacular processions and a variety of other popular means of revelling and enjoying themselves, there is only one Baby Jumping Festival.





     

       The festival is organized by the brotherhood of Santísimo Sacramento de Minerva, whose members assume the two main roles associated with the festival: those of el Colacho and el Atabalero. El Colacho, who represents the devil, is dressed in a bright yellow and red outfit and mask, and el Atabalero wears a black suit and a sombrero and goes through the town with his large drum.








        Beginning on the Wednesday before the festival, the two characters cavort around the town chasing people, terrorizing them with their whips and truncheons and generally causing trouble.
        The most important day of the festival comes on Sunday, when a parade winds though the city, beginning and ending at the town church. The town's residents adorn their houses with flowers and set out small "altars" with wine and water for the parade-goers. Members of the clergy and children from the town who have received the rite of First Communion march in the parade.







     

        Overall, the festival entails an annual purging of evil from the town. The parade symbolically corrals the evil back toward the church, where it can be dissipated
    The babies are laid on the ground in swaddling clothes and grown men, yes adult males, dressed as devils jump over the infants and this is supposed to cleanse them of all evil doings. The question of who is protecting the babies from the example being set by the adults begs to be asked but who are we to doubt this traditional combination of religion and Spanish folklore which proves to be great fun, if not a little scary, to watch.








        Anyone who is not blessed with receiving this protection during their early childhood and has lived life looking over their shoulder waiting for bad things to happen or illness to strike can, in their adulthood, choose to take part in an exercise of jumping through fire on 21st December in Granada, known as the Hogueras. This is intended to protect them from illness
        Pope Benedict has asked priests in Spain to distance themselves from the El Colacho, or La Octava Festival.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2016

    HIGHWAY ROUTE 666: ONE OF THE SCARIEST PLACES IN THE U.S.!!!




        There are many locations throughout the world that are considered to be one of the scariest places on Earth. However, there is one road that is approximately 200 miles in length that has many individuals frightened to travel on. This is Highway 666. While the U.S. officially renamed this haunted highway "U.S. Route 491" in 2003, those that have traveled upon it, live near it, and have heard or directly experienced its horrors, continue to refer to it as the ominous 666. There are many different types of unexplained phenomenon that have occurred and continues to occur on this desolate road. Throughout this guide on the scariest places in the U.S., you will learn why it instills fear in so many individuals.

    Historical Notes

        Throughout the entire nation of the United States, Highway 666 is considered to be one of the top haunted highways. This particular highway is so large that it is found in 4 individual states-Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. Those that know of the terrors of this haunted place also identify it appropriately as the one and only "Devil's Highway". While it is true that there are many urban legends, rumors, and tall tales that are associated with this particular stretch of road, there are also many facts that relate to this road-such as statistics on accidents and even deaths. Those that have experienced complications while traveling on this road claim that the spirits that lurk along it are directly responsible for the issues.

    The Evil Spirits

        While there are many stories of ghosts, hauntings, and spirits in general associated with this haunted highway, the stretch of road is best known for the evil spirits that are rumored to lurk on it. The first of the evil spirits that are said to be present on the evil road are what many refer to as the "Hounds of Hell". These are dog like creatures that have a supernatural basis. Many claim that they are able to run as quickly as vehicles are able to drive; they purposely cause traffic accidents, and attack people traveling along the road. In addition to this, there is a story that is often referred to as "Satan's Sedan". It is believed that an evil entity that is spiritual in nature drives a dark, ominous sedan that actually charges vehicles and individuals traveling this haunted highway.
    There are many different stories associated with Highway 666. Most individuals associate the evil spirits with this road, but there are other stories surrounding this spectacular and vast haunted highway. Many claim the spirit of a girl wanders the highway while others claim that there is a phantom semi-truck that attacks travelers aggressively. Then, there are stories of skinwalkers as told by Native Americans. Regardless, Highway 666 is considered to be one of the scariest places in the U.S. Do you dare drive this long, ominous road alone? How about at night when you get into some, car trouble? heh! heh! heh! heh! heh!

    PARANORMAL! ALL NATURAL! GHOST AND GHOUL REPELLANTS!!




        There is a point in some people's lives that it becomes obvious that there's something in the world besides the physical, everyday world that we all experience. This is almost always in the form of first-hand experience, and the experiences range from touching, good experiences, to terrifying, almost dangerous ones.
        For those that are plagued, not blessed, by paranormal entities, it's stressful and frightening, and people almost always look for ways to make it stop. Unfortunately, when people look for ways to make the bad things go away, they only hurt themselves most of the time. This is because of scam artists who promise that all problems will cease if a large sum of money is handed over to them, but all that happens is that those people are left with less in their pockets and left to live off of and things that still go booo! and aaarrrr! in the night.
        If people don't go the route of lining the pockets of snake oil salesmen, they often opt for the "feel good and feel out of it" pills and drugs that deaden the world around them, there's still the problem of: "Why are these things still happening"?
        What most people don't realize when dealing with a paranormal entity is that they don't have to pay someone else to take the problem away. There are plenty of things everyone can do in these types of situations without having any metaphysical skill, without being able "to see dead people", and without shelling out alot of your hard earned money to the nearest person who makes promises. They can also help themselves without popping the "feel good" pills and receiving psychiatric counseling from a doctor.
        In fact, there are everyday objects that will often repel or otherwise hamper the effect that negative entities have on the world. Of course, these might not work against entities that are helpful, nor do you want to hamper them, but these are tried and true methods that people have personally found, and used, that have worked.

    The Methods





    Vinegar-
        Vinegar is known to be acidic and smell kind of bad to some people. However, many people don't realize that, like many other things, vinegar is not just good for cooking and preparing food. Because vinegar is acidic,it releases acidic molecules into the air. This affects etheric and astral materials, which is what paranormal entities typically manifest themselves as. The acidic nature of vinegar has a tendency to prevent etheric manifestations, due to the inability for etheric matter to condense when vinegar or other acids are in the air.
    A bowl of vinegar in a problem room is a good thing. Even if there are negative entities in the area, their abilities to wreak havoc are seriously hampered.







    Sage-
        Sage has been used in magical and shamanic practice, as well as cooking, for a very long time. When burned, it releases smoke into the air that is believed to clear the vibrations of the area it's burned in. Sage can be bought at some grocery stores, as well as pre-dried in herb shops and occult bookstores. If bought or raised fresh, it needs to be dried before it can be burned.










    Incense-
        There are some people who use incense as a magical tool, and there are others who believe that incense just makes a room smell nice (I am not one of them). However, even those who use it as a magical tool sometimes don't realize that it can work for more than just summoning helpful entities.
    Incense, like sage, clears the air. Each type of incense has different properties, and there are incenses that are used for banishing purposes, as well as summoning purposes. Frankincense is one of those that are often used for universal reasons, though banishing is often one of its most used purposes.
    Incense can come in cone form, stick form, or even as just a few herbs that you can put together and burn on charcoal. Incense can be found in many stores, and is used worldwide.








    Garlic

        Garlic has a lovely habit of doing more than just tasting good and smelling bad. When garlic is placed strategically around the room, typically at entrance points (windows, doors, etc.), it repels negativity. Yes, garlic does repel vampires (though vampires are rarer than Hollywood would have people believe, as well as much more dangerous and they don't have fangs and wear capes), but it repels other nasty entities as well.
    When the garlic becomes "full", it's best to throw the garlic head away and replace it with a new one. Depending on how active it is, it will become full sooner or later, and it's a good idea to have a backup supply, especially if you're dealing with a lot of negativity. Garlic can be found in any grocery store.







    Onions

        Onions taste good to some, (not me, I hate them!) but horrid to others. However, even if you're one of those people who hate the taste of onions, they can still be quite useful.
    It is said that if you place an onion on your kitchen mantle, it absorbs all ill-will and negativity intended for the people who live there. Depending on how much ill-will is directed toward the home's inhabitants, it can last from a very short time to a very long time. However, never eat an onion that has absorbed "bad ju-ju" and negativity. As soon as it begins to rot, throw it away and replace it . Onions can be bought from any grocery store.






    Salt

        Salt is a material that has been used and coveted by magicians, occultists, and even people who have no inclination to acknowledge the existence of otherworldly forces, for many years. While before it used to be extremely rare and expensive, today it is massively packaged and shipped. This is both good and bad, but we'll only go into the good aspect of it.
        Salt is acknowledged as having crystals and crystal-like qualities. According to some sources, the crystaline qualities of salt make it difficult for negative, non-physical entities to cross a line of it. A line of salt goes a long way in warding a place against any negative or ill-intentioned entities that mean to enter an area, as well as salt water is good for asperging said area to absorb and negate negative energy. However, the only problem with a line of salt is that it's dependent on negative entities being unable to cross it. However, that goes for leaving as well as entering. If there are already paranormal, negative entities wreaking havoc, a line of salt will prevent them from leaving. It's best to resort to the line of salt after they have left, but if they don't leave, use the line of salt and the vinegar. The line of salt will keep any extras out, while the vinegar will hamper their efforts at wreaking that havoc they so love.

    Natural Magic

        All of these are in the category of "natural magic". Natural magic is magic that can be done by anyone, skill or no skill, without having any extra knowledge of the way magic works. Natural magic relies on the magical properties of natural materials, rather than the abilities and skill of the magician.  Of course, there is plenty of natural magic that ordinary people use without realizing it. This fall under "folk magic".
    Whatever the case, magic or otherwise, these are supposedly tried and true methods for dealing with negative entities and paranormal siege.