Nightmareland: A Field Journal on Sleep Phenomena

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On the Ceiling by Jason Jam.

Lex “Lonehood” Nover is a master storyteller. He’s had years of experience penning plays and articles capturing the imaginations of audiences. Since 2002, he’s worked as the Web Producer for Coast to Coast AM, one of America’s highest rated overnight radio shows. In his first full-length non-fiction book, Nightmareland: Travels at the Borders of Sleep, Dreams, and Wakefulness, Nover thoroughly documents the strange occurrences we encounter when we sleep.

Nover’s writing skills pay off in this exhaustively researched and eerily entertaining book. Nover weaves folklore and anecdotes with scientific research regarding sleep, sleep disorders, and sleep behavior. Nover’s sense of humor is reflected in such subtitles as “Beware the Ambien Zombies,” “A Salad of Sound,” and “Back at the (Paranormal) Ranch.”

Rosemary Ellen Guiley, who died this past July at the age of 69, states “A must-have book!” She’s correct; however, people interested in general sleep issues not just paranormal enthusiasts will find value inside. Nover retells stories of average people experiencing the weirdest things while asleep. Then Nover attempts to explain what happened! He completes the story by adding context and science. How incredibly novel in the paranormal field!

Illustrations accompany each of the nine chapters. All are in black and white and operate as artwork inspired by the chapter’s focus. The book feels like the field journal of a scientist attempting to unpack the complexity of sleep, contemplating every possible theory.

Nightmareland is a compendium on sleep. It should be on everyone’s bookshelf.

Stephen King’s Bangor, Maine Home to Be Archives and Writing Retreat

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FILE – This May 16, 2005, file photo shows the home of authors Stephen and Tabitha King in Bangor, Maine. The writers have petitioned the city of Bangor for a zoning change for the home where they raised their children. If approved, the mansion will become home to Stephen King’s archives, and a guest house next door will become home to writers in residence. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

Last night, October 16th, the Bangor City Council unanimously approved the zoning application for Stephen and Tabitha King to convert their 3.27 acre property into a museum and archive while creating a writers’ retreat in an adjacent house on the land. The retreat will hold up to 5 writers at one time. The deal would cause King’s archives to move from the University of Maine. Hours for access with be by appointment only. King did not want the property to become a Northeast version of Dollywood. Instead, the couple decided to give something back to his fans while continuing to support the local economy.

Once application information becomes available, I will post. Now I need to come up with a clever reason for my husband, daughter, and me to spend a winter surrounded by snow while attempting to write my novel. Gee, that sounds a tad familiar.

Frida Kahlo’s Dimas Painting

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Catalina Cuervo as “Frida.”

This afternoon my family caught the final show of Frida, performed as part of the Atlanta Opera’s Discoveries Series, https://www.atlantaopera.org/performance/frida/. While watching the candid–and riveting–performance, I immediately knew who “Dimas” was in the opening act. One of Frida’s earliest paintings is of the deceased child. Yes! Frida took part in the Mexican tradition of painting dead children.

Here’s my blog article about the painting: https://thehauntedlibrarian.com/2017/03/02/frida-kahlos-the-deceased-dimas-rosas-at-3-years-old/.

If you get the chance to catch the operatic production, DO! It was fantastic.

Dead Still Returns October 11th

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Dead Still Returns

Dead Still returns on SyFy October 11th. Part of the 31 days of Halloween programming, Dead Still is a nice addition to the line-up. It stands out for not relying on CGI special effects to force the plot. Schedule your DVRs and watch this movie. In the meantime. read my review from 2014:

Dead Still Worth Viewing

I love horror movies. I’ve watched them since I was a teenager. My favorites include the classics: The Exorcist (1975), Jaws (1975), and Poltergeist (1982). However, I like the B-movie horror films, namely The House on Haunted Hill (1959), The Monster Squad (1987), and The Tingler (1959), too. I grew up watching Dr. Paul Bearer on Creature Feature on WTOG. Horror movies transcend decades and act as social commentary. The Booth Brothers’ new film Dead Still incorporates the Victorian practice of taking mourning portraits into a fictional modern-day inheritance issue. Dead Still, an original SyFy movie, is worth viewing.

The Horror film genre remains popular. Box office rival Annabelle nearly toppled Gone Girl this past weekend. Even though each film generated over $37 million in ticket sales, Annabelle was the money winner. Produced for under $7 million dollars, Annabelle’s return in one weekend was five times its production costs. Wow! Low-budget horror films produce huge profits. This applies to films released exclusively on television with DVD sales later.

 

Dead Still’s estimated production costs were $2 million dollars. That’s extremely low for any film project. Moreover, the film shines with beautiful cinematography, haunting music, and A-list acting.

Filmed on location in Baton Rouge, Dead Still features an incredibly spooky house. Philip Adrian Booth captures the moody ambiance of the house, as well as, the Negative world. Remember: This is a low-budget film. Philip does a lot on a tight budget.

Equally impressive is the eerily evocative soundtrack. Twin brother Christopher Saint Booth assembled a soundtrack heavy with strings—quite appropriate for a horror film. Working as “Saint,” Christopher has assumed the role as music scorer for their productions. Christopher delivers.

Producers landed three strong actors. Ray Wise is absolutely wicked. Mr. Wise’s transformation into the crazy “Wenton Davis,” great grandfather and original owner of the antique Victorian camera, is creepy. Creepy weird and chilling. Ben Browder as “Brandon” is convincing as the relationship-challenged heir to the camera. He’s at his best in the Negative world. Gavin Casalegno portrays “Bobby,” Brandon’s son. His facial expressions convey what words cannot. Already boasting an impressive acting resume, Gavin has a long career ahead of him.

Graphic scenes are limited; however, I could have done without the sexual scene with the newlyweds. It didn’t add any real content and could have been achieved without the nudity and hand-gripping bedrail close-ups.

The antique Victorian camera is an amazing prop. The claw-footed, custom-made stand is intricately detailed and gorgeous. Reproductions of mourning portraits are impactful. They realistically represent the type of photographs popular in America and Europe from 1840-1891.

Dead Still is entertaining and gruesome. The Booth Brothers have expanded their filmmaking collection and have made the jump into the fictional horror movie genre. I look forward to their next film. Until then, stay still—Dead Still.

The Willard Suitcase Project

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When the Willard Asylum of the Chronic Insane closed in 1995, the staff discovered 400 neatly packed suitcases in the attic. Photographer Jon Crispin was commissioned to create vignettes and photograph each suitcase. To date, 80 have been photographed. Crispin created an art installation titled “The Changing Face of What Is Normal,” which ran through 2014 at the Exploratorium Science Museum in San Francisco. The collection is a chilling reminder of how people deemed “not normal” were treated and how most died within these institutions.

Known locally as the Willard State Hospital, the Willard Asylum of the Chronic Insane opened in 1889. Mary Rote was the first patient. She arrived after spending 10 years at another mental institution chained to a bed. Mary was classified as “demented and deformed.” At Willard, Mary was able to walk about, although she remained confined to the hospital.

Patients arrived with packed suitcases indicating short visits. Most never left. The 400 suitcases were cataloged and stored in the attic and remained untouched until the hospital closed.

Willard campus was comprised of a hospital, cemetery, morgue, crematorium, and bowling alley. Life at Willard was not necessarily pleasant. A lot of patients were chained or placed in cages.

Some of the suitcases profiled by Crispin included:

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Flora T. who brought perfume, needles and drug paraphernalia possibly for epilepsy;

Virginia W. brought a clown doll;

Frank C. was an Army veteran from Brooklyn, NY. His items included his military uniform.

Anna brought high heeled shoes, fancy hats, and sequenced belts.

Dmytre arrived in 1953 with personal photographs and a clock. He remained at Willard for 24 years.

Joseph Lobdell, a transgender female who preferred to live as a male, spent 10 years at Willard before being transferred to another facility. He was never released, dying in care.

Crispin found the suitcases “compelling,” stating that “families largely abandoned them [patients].” The exhibition will be a permanent exhibit at the Museum of disABILITY History in Buffalo, NY. You can find more information about Jon Crispin and the project at https://www.willardsuitcases.com/.

2019’s Least Liked Halloween Candy

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Least Liked

According to the CandyStore.com study surveying 40,000 customers and perusing various candy listings, these are the least liked candy for Trick-or-Treating.

  1. Candy Corn;
  2. Circus Peanuts (last year’s #1);
  3. Bit-O-Honey;
  4. Good & Plenty;
  5. Licorice;
  6. Smarties;
  7. Tootsie Rolls;
  8. Necco Waffers;
  9. Wax Coke Bottles; and
  10. Peanut Butter Kisses.

Hans Holzer: Entertainer Who Embraced the Paranormal

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There should be more truth in advertising new TV shows. According to the Discovery Channel, owner of Travel Channel, the new TV series The Holzer Files, is based on newly discovered tapes from Hans Holzer’s most famous cases. Really? They just now found these tapes? I don’t think so. In fact, their press release had several errors or misleading information. However, misleading audiences was nothing new to Holzer, who knew how to entertain.

Holzer died in New York City at the age of 89 in 2009. He was an established author, writing somewhere between 120-140 books on the occult and paranormal. Most of his books focused on the paranormal; however, he wrote several books on witchcraft. His interests were eccentric and varied.

Fleeing with his family from Vienna, Austria in 1938, Holzer was born in 1920. According to Holzer, he held a Master’s degree in Comparative Religion (names vary depending on publications) and a PhD in Parapsychology from the London College of Applied Science. Unfortunately, this school does not exist. In fact, it is doubtful he completed any advanced degrees.

Holzer entered the entertainment business early in his career. His interest in the paranormal shifted his focus to paranormal research-esque. Although Holzer employed several mediums, he merely recorded his investigations and did not conduct much research beyond the visits. Armed with a Polaroid, Holzer shunned all gadgetry. He preferred to take the word of the mediums and never fully validated their observations.

Some say he coined the term “other side,” but this term was already in use. Instead, Holzer popularized the term. He did not like the words “supernatural” or “belief.” One of his famous quotes is: “A ghost is only a fellow human being in trouble.” This may be the case.

He did not create the “Holzer Method,” the process of determining natural vibrations. Further, it is debatable if he actually applied scientific fact to observations/investigations. He is most known for investigating the Amityville house, claiming (erroneously) that Rolling Thunder, a Shinnecock Indian Chief, possessed Ronald DeFeo. It’s a shame. He may have been a qualified paranormal investigator, but his credibility was undermined by his fabrications.

It’s disappointing that Travel Channel is sensationalizing Holzer. Press releases and advertising should not claim that his tapes were recently uncovered. It should have stuck with the truth: A paranormal team is reinvestigating former cases investigated by Holzer.