Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick Or Treat

Boo to you, and a Happy Halloween too --

On the way back from Universal Studios Hollywood Horror Nights we started talking about ghosts and so I figured that today would be a good day to tell a few tales of ghostly things that have happened to me, or around me. So find a log, sit around the fire, and listen closely, for every word is the truth. Promise.

For my first story, I take you back to Chula Vista, on a dark and stormy afternoon, roughly 28 years ago.
My Mom and I had just returned from the store and she told me to take our jackets and put them on her bed. I walked into her room and placed them on the bed, right next to the lady who was sitting on its edge. I dont recall saying a word to her, nor being surprised by her being there, nor noting how odd it was that her appearance was slightly transparent... slightly... ghostly. Though, at the time, I probably didnt have a clue what a ghost even was.
She patted the bed beside her, telling me to sit down. Being a child without fear, I did just as she asked. Most of the encounter I can recall vividly, but our conversation is one aspect I cant remember that well, I just have a vague remembrance of what we talked about. She was very nice, very friendly, and her questions were about how I was doing and how my Mom was. I answered the best I could, and she seemed happy. In fact, she seemed happy just to see me.
My Mother heard us talking and came into the room to see who I was conversing with since the apartment should have been empty. I pointed to the lady sitting next to me, only to see that she had vanished. My Mom started to get worried and looked under the bed, then the closet, then the bathroom. Unable to find the woman, she picked up the phone to call the cops. She asked me what the woman looked like and I described her and what she was wearing. My Mom slowly put down the phone and told me a little story.
Years before I was born, in Norwich, Connecticut, a woman died. This woman looked exactly like the woman I had just talked to. The outfit I had described her wearing was the same clothes she was buried in. My Mom knew this woman very well, it was her Mother. Yes, I just had a conversation with the Grandmother I never knew. And the theory goes that since I was the only grandkid she didnt know before she died, she wanted to see me just once.
There are many things about this experience that I cant wrap my mind around. For starters, ghosts really do exist. No, I cant prove it, nor will I even try to convince you. But for me, they exist and they bring with them many questions. Like why do they exist? Does this prove Heaven exists too? Or Purgatory? Or... some other place entirely? And she died in Connecticut, yet she shows up in Chula Vista, 3000 miles away. And not just in the city I live, but the apartment too. So somehow she knew where to find me. And is she still watching? And who else is watching? And why havent they shown themselves? Theres just an endless string of unanswerable questions. Maybe one day Ill find out. One day in the very distant future.

Our next series of tales - some of them a mere sentence or two - concern the place I work at and it status of being haunted. Unlike others, I have not seen the ghost myself, but on a couple occasions I did have some unexplained things happen to me or in my presence. Read on...

Its not normally my responsibility, but on a few occasions Ive had the opportunity of escorting new employees around the store for a little guided tour. During one of these tours, we were in the back stockroom and one of the guys said to me "Who was that lady?" I didnt see whom he was talking about, but I knew and so I played along.
"What lady?"
"The lady in white that just went down that aisle."
"A lady in white?"
"Yeah, she wasnt dressed like she worked here, but she went down there."
"Ok, lets go see." (Upon getting to the aisle she went down, we see its empty)
"I swear I saw her go down here."
At this point, with the rest of the group looking scared or thinking that the guy is crazy, I told them about the ghost and how were supposedly haunted. And how this wasnt the first time a new employee, not knowing we had a ghost, had seen her.

During one overnight shift, the team I was working with was in the back corner of the store when we all heard someone scream from the other side of the store. We took a quick head count and realized that we were all accounted for and that it was impossible for any of us to be the cause of it. Some worried looks were exchanged between all of us and I volunteered to head toward where the scream came from. I wish I could say I saw something scary, but from what I could tell, nobody was there.

We have a machine at work called the Wave. Its a car of sorts that you can drive around and use to raise yourself up to the ceiling. It has numerous safety features including sensors on the floor that both feet MUST be on or the Wave goes nowhere. You also MUST have at least one hand on the controls or you go nowhere. Thats three points that must be recognized by the Wave for it to even move.
Soon after we got the Wave in the store I was in the back room and I was raised about halfway up to the ceiling. I was facing in the direction of a "bridge" in the back, but was stopped and not moving. All of a sudden, the Wave takes off straight for it. Im frantically trying to get it to stop, but nothing is working. Not even the emergency break. I realize that if I continue to stand up Im going to crash chest high into the bridge, so I duck down and get ready for the impact of metal on metal. Then the Wave stops. I look up to see where Im at and Im literally about two inches away from the bridge. All I could do was shake my head and I actually said out loud, "Ok, you finally got me."

Friday the 13th, about five years ago. Again, Im on the Wave, but this time at the front, as high as I can go, hanging signs on the ceiling. What I needed to do was just out of my reach so I stood on the rails that are about six inches of of the platform floor. So Im not even touching any part of the floor sensors. I also have both of my hands in the air as I hang the sign and so I dont even have one hand on the controls. Remember, you need both feet and at least one hand to move, and I have none of the above. But the Wave decides it wants to do circles all by itself. So there I am, high in the air, spinning around, and I have no control of whats going on. I look down at the girl who was stocking nearby and tell her to look whats happening. I found the situation funny, she got freaked.

One night we came in to work and saw the whole cleaning crew sitting at the front of the store. Our boss asked why everyone was there and they said that they couldnt work anymore cuz the ghost wouldnt leave them alone. Apparently she kept throwing things off the shelves. Some of the cleaning crew never came back.

One of the bosses refuses to believe that the store is haunted, despite numerous people saying otherwise. He would always say "Its not haunted until I see it for myself." One night were on the floor and hes standing right next to me along with a couple other people when we all hear a scream. Just like before, everyone is accounted for. I look at my boss and say "So, still believe were not haunted?" Hes never said no again.

The night before the PS2 was released a bunch of people camped outside the store overnight. I was there and by coincidence the girls next to me were coworkers. It was a bit after midnight and they wanted to tell ghost stories. So I asked if they knew we were haunted and they didnt believe me so I started telling them some of the tales I just told you. When I was done there was nervous laughter and one girl said "Theres no such thing as ghosts" and just as she finished saying that, every light in the parking lot blew out. They screamed so loud and got this look on their face like... well, like they had seen a ghost.

Anywho. Thats all for now and since the fire is starting to burn out, its time to gather your things and head for your tent. Oh, if you see a ghostly lady in there, say hi for me.

Til next time...

-- DBW --

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Halloween Horror Nights

Hola yall --

Yesterday me, Blanca, Justin, and Cinthya went to Universal Studios for Halloween Horror Nights and had a pretty fun time. We got there late - around 1:30 - and left early - around 11:30 - and still managed to do everything we had planned, plus some extra stuff too.
If you dont know, HHN is Universal Studios redone for Halloween during seven days in October. The park closes at 6 and if you were lucky enough to get your hands on one of the limited tickets you get to go back in at 7 and stay until 2 in the morning. And like I said, the whole park is redone with blood, guts, gore, and death including new and changed shows, mazes, a ton of actors roaming the park doing their best to scare the Hell out of you, performance artists, freak shows, and for the first time ever... riding the tram at night, getting off, and walking through the portions of the backlot. And although there were kids in the park, its definitely an adult themed event. Ill skip what happened during the normal operating hours and jump straight to the night time fun...

House Of Horrors.
This was our first stop. They took the monsters from Val Helsings Fortress Dracula and replaced them with Universal movie monsters. So instead of zombies and werewolves, you had Michael Myers and Freddy. It wasnt really scary, but it was still fun to see all those classic monsters in one place.
Quick story - were inside and one of the non-costumed workers goes up to "Michael Myers" and says something to him which basically amounted to "Come with me" cuz Michael left his scare post and followed the guy. This happened just as we passed, so Michael is literally walking right next to me for a minute or two. I look over at him, he looks back at me and I could practically hear his thoughts of "Ok, fine, whatever" as he lifted his knife and made a few lame slashing motions in my direction. About ten seconds later were approaching a doorway and Michael goes first and right on the other side is another actor who jumps out to scare what he thought was a guest. The door guy goes "boo" or whatever and Michael gets scared since he wasnt expecting that and the door guy sees Michael and gets scared since he was unprepared for that either. Maybe that doesnt translate well written out, but it was hilarious to see.

Anway, one attraction down and were onto...

The Asylum.
The Asylum is a mental hospital gone... mental. The craziest of the residents have overpowered the staff and killed them, and have turned their attention to the other patients and the people unfortunate enough to walk through and view the spectacle. Theres even a Santa running through the hospital. Easily the most disturbing portion of the maze was the bathroom. All the stalls are open, theres a couple dead people who died expelling their last meal, and theres plenty over overflowing toilets and huge piles of crap left by people that didnt even bother to use one. What "makes" this area is the overpowering smell of human waste. Disgustingly realistic.
Quick story - were outside in the que and Leatherface is walking around scaring the heck out of everyone. Blanca is sitting on the railing facing away from most of the goings on. Justin says to her that she better be careful cuz Leatherface might scare her and shell fall back off the railing and crack her head oven. Her response was that shed be fine and she wasnt going to get scared. Almost on cue Leatherface pounds on something very loudly and Blanca literally jumps off the railing, through the air, and clings to me like a cat would cling to a tree. Again, hilarity appears in the midst of horror. How she managed to make it through the night without having a heart attack I dont know. She just ended up being the target of of all of the actors that saw her.

Another attraction down and onto...

The Terror Tram.
Although hes supposed to be your "host" for the night, this is the first and only time youre told about "The Director" and Universals problems with him. Even still, there isnt really any story here, you just board the tram and they take you straight to the Psycho area of the backlot where youre allowed to get off the tram and walk through the set. First you walk past the Whoville set thats full of killer clowns. From there its onto the Bates Motel set thats full of high school kids who are in various states of death and seem to be causing it themselves. From there its to the Psycho house where you encounter Mother and Norman. No real scares there, and you just keep walking until you get to the War Of The Worlds set. Oddly cool walking through a scene of a plane crash. There was a bunch of chainsaw guys, butchers, guys wearing pig masks, and Im not sure how that all tied into a plane crash. Whatever. After that area it was back onto the tram for the ride back to the park, but not before passing The Director killing a couple people in the woods and then a trip through the Mummys Tomb.
Quick story - As I mentioned, all the actors that saw her went out of their way to scare Blanca. She was an easy target. Her and I were holding hands, I was looking away from her to the right and didnt notice one of the actors heading straight for us. I believe his intention was to run between us, but since I didnt see him and he obviously didnt see us holding hands, he ran straight into our "clothesline" and crashed directly into Blanca. You could tell he felt horrible and hes holding her going "Are you ok? Are you ok? Im sorry. Are you ok?" Yep, more abuse for my girlie.

Now to...

Fear Factor Live: Dead Celebrity Edition.
Although we made into into the performance we didnt get to see the show cuz we were told we all had to leave the building. A guest a few feet away from us fell and apparently get hurt pretty bad cuz staff came from all over as did medical people. The guest was down for a long time and when they realized they wouldnt be able to start the show they told us to leave. Unfortunately, instead of caring about the injured person, alot of the audience started booing. I guess seeing Elvis eat a bug was more important to them than treating someone who got injured.

On to...

If youve seen the regular Waterworld show, theres not alot of difference to this one. They just added alot of blood to the death scenes, and a whole lot of sexual innuendo. I think Im ashamed of myself for saying that the best part was watching The Deacon dance around in a thong while it was on fire. Oh well.

And for our last attraction...

Carnival Of Carnage.
COC is a freak show and its the first time I had ever seen acts like these performed in person. A guy walking and jumping on broken glass, another sticking his face in the same broken glass and having an audience member stand on his head. A guy sticking needles through his neck and cheek. Another bending rebar with his throat. And a guy placing 100 firecrackers on his chest and setting them off. It wasnt a great show, it was slow and clumsy at times, but in the end its something I can scratch off my "to do" list.

There was also "scare zones" throughout the park. For example, the London streets had zombie policemen, Mr Hyde, and Jack The Ripper walking around while the Medieval Village had people infected with the Black Plague coming after you. My favorite though was Deadwood and its zombified and dead cowboys. To me, they just looked the best
And there was also Chuckies Insult Emporium which was basically Chuckie from Childs Play insulting an audience of onlookers. It varied from R to X rated material, and honestly, it was nothing I hadnt heard in junior high. The crowd seemed to enjoy it, but I thought it was dull and unimaginative. Maybe Im just old.

The only things we didnt get to do during Halloween Horror Nights was seeing Fear Factor and riding Jurassic Park at night. But what we did do was fun and hopefully well do it again next year too. And if you didnt go this year, make an effort to do so next year cuz its worth it.

Until next time...

-- DBW --

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Hello again

Well, here we are again. Miss me?

If youre keeping count, this is blog number... 3? Yeah, even I lost count. Its ok though cuz this one will be bigger and better. Full of extra oomph, but still 99% fat free. And the same rules still apply though:
- I post what I want. If I write something you dont like, go get your own blog. This one is mine and I say what I wish.
- I post when I want. Sometimes Ill post every day. Sometimes a couple times a day. Sometimes Ill miss an entire month. This isnt a job, Im not getting paid to do this, and so I have no requirement to do so.
- Youre encouraged to comment as much as you wish, on anything you wish. All I ask is that you try to be civil, even if we disagree on something.

So there ya go. A quick introduction. Simple rules. So sit back and enjoy the ride, but remember that the exits are here, here, annnnnnnd here.... and you may get off anytime you wish.

-- DBW --