Category Archives: Blog

The third shoe drops

by Chris Walden

They say that some events, like meaningful deaths in one’s life, happen in threes. This has been one of those months. Three voices who greatly affected me in my life have been silenced.

Photo of Ed Solomon in his later yearsThe first was my dear friend, Ed Solomon. He was the last one I encountered, and the first to leave, January 4th. Ed was a music teacher, father, grandfather, storyteller, entertainer, and so many, many other things. I met him over the phone, connected by our mutual interests in magic, theatre and stories. We talked on the phone and corresponded for years. During the last couple of months before he suffered the final, debilitating stroke that ultimately took him from us, I spent several days with him, sharing things about technology, life, art and everything. Ed’s memorial service was last Sunday. There I met many other people who had been affected by having Ed in their lives. They were from all walks of life and all of them expressed admiration of what he accomplished and how he had gently and profoundly transformed them. I wish I had met Mr. Solomon earlier. I could have used him during some of my early years of fumbling. I’m very fortunate, however, that I did meet him, and through him all the others who are now a part of my life.

Leonard Nimoy at the 2011 Phoenix Comicon in Phoenix, Arizona.
Photo by Gage Skidmore

On February 27, we lost Leonard Nimoy. I first discovered Nimoy portraying Mr. Spock on the original Star Trek series, which I watched eagerly in syndication as a kid. Spock was in tune with his emotions. He still had them, but he governed them, using logic and his intellect. As a young, curious person who didn’t necessarily fit the norms (even in the 1970s) Nimoy’s textured performance of this character resonated with me. If Spock could survive the slings and arrows of Doctor McCoy, surely I could get through what was being thrown at me. Of course, by this time, Nimoy had left Star Trek and was now the host of In Search Of, the weekly program about the strange, the odd and the unusual. I reveled in discovering the world of UFOs, ghosts, psychic phenomena and all manner of weird things that still deeply interest me. These were parts for Nimoy…acting jobs. My real introduction to Nimoy was through his art. He was a writer, a poet, a photographer and a filmmaker. His book, I Am Not Spock, gave me a look behind the scenes about how being so closely associated with a single character affected him. It was illuminating to see how Nimoy could speak so profoundly to me through his acting while suffering his own versions of frustration and insecurity. Of course, later in his life he wrote another book, I Am Spock, where he had come to the other side of much of this and acknowledged how much of his life and success was predicated from his relationship with his Vulcan side. Nimoy was 83, the same age as Ed Solomon, when he passed. This may not be a coincidence.

Photo of Terry Pratchett on Day 2 of the 2012 New York Comic Con
Photo by Luigi Novi

Finally, today, the third shoe dropped. Terry Pratchett, a fantasy and science fiction writer, whose writing has becoming very entangled with my own view of the world. Pratchett’s writing was funny, even silly. It was satirical storytelling that covered everything from bureaucracy to religion, fame, magic, the apocalypse… He was an equal opportunity offender and an incredible word smith who gave me some of my favorite quotes from such memorable characters as Death, Granny Weatherwax, and many others. (Here is just a taste of his wonderful way with words.) In life, Terry was an atheist, which fascinated me, because I found some amazingly spiritual ideas in his writing… ideas that influenced my own spirituality. I’m sure he would have found that amusing, like someone who sees Jesus in a knock-knock joke, but it is a fact. He created a place in my brain where I could appreciate the humanity in many of the things that people take very seriously. Like Ed Solomon, like Leonard Nimoy, Terry Pratchett made me think. It wasn’t the sort of regurgitation that we think of as learning, but a real, open-ended approach to thought where the answer was not predetermined. Terry was suffering from an uncommon form of Alzheimer’s. It finally claimed him on March 12.

So, three voices who echo in my brain, who have actually helped shaped some of those brainwaves, are no longer here. They have moved on. In the case of Ed Solomon, I wrote a brief story (more a scene) describing what I feel waited for Ed as he left us. It flowed so quickly from my mind that I wonder if I was merely taking dictation. I hope that Leonard Nimoy and Terry Pratchett also found something wonderful waiting for them, whether they believed in it or not.

For myself, I will miss their voices. I have a rich history to revisit, and I imagine I will do quite a bit of that, again and again. But I am especially conscious that history is all I will have. There will be no new words or ideas, just new discoveries as I find new understandings in the existing canon. The new ideas, the new words are now up to me. That is always the way. We are guided and shaped by people, but eventually it is up to us.

Ed Solomon, Leonard Nimoy, and Terry Pratchett, thank you for the positive influences you have had on my view of the universe. Your body of work will continue to influence others for who knows how long. Rest in peace.

Happy Friday the 13th!

It’s Friday the 13th! For some people it’s a time to pull the covers over your head and pray a satellite doesn’t fall on your house. For others, it’s a day of adventure and maybe even luck.

13Triskaidekaphobia is a fear of the number 13. There is controversy about how 13 became unlucky. Some relate it to the Biblical “Last Supper” where Judas, the betrayer of Jesus, was the 13th man at the table, though anyone could have taken that number. However, there is evidence that it has roots outside of Christianity. Norse mythology has a number of traditions that discourage 13. Some count Loki (a true troublemaker) as the 13th god. In another tale, Norna-Gest, the uninvited norns show up at his birthday celebration, increasing the number of guests from 10 to 13. They curse a babe and bad things happen.

Whatever the reason, 13 holds some power over some people. For us at F. N. Weird Entertainment 13 is a magical number. We love the weird and any excuse to celebrate it is fine with us.

The Austin Horror Society is celebrating Friday the 13th with a special viewing of Friday the 13th, part 3 in 3D! Our own Saul Ravencraft will be on hand to tell fortunes and spread a little weirdness.

How will you celebrate today?

Sherwood Forest Faire 2015

Our paranormal performance artist, Chris Walden, will be part of the festivities of Sherwood Forest Faire this year. He’ll be providing behind the scenes support for the Merlin show and be doing traditional storytelling throughout the Faire.

The Faire runs each weekend from February 7th through March 29th with an extra day on March 20th, during Spring Break.

Halloween all year round

THE ADDAMS FAMILY

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about Halloween. It’s our favorite time of the year because it’s a time when we seem a little more normal. Just as ghosts don’t pack it in November 1 and Bigfoot doesn’t hibernate for 11 months out of the year, our thirst for the weird doesn’t evaporate when the candy goes on sale. (Note to self: the candy is about to go on sale.)

I know a number of people who are cosplayers.  They spend an extraordinary amount of time finding and altering clothing and accessories (which may include swords and futuristic weaponry) to create the perfect look. They absolutely glow when they put these things on and people recognize their awesomeness.

There are also friends in groups such as the SCA, Steampunk and other sorts of alternative communities where people live out the other person who lives inside of them. A number of people are deeply involved in Live Action Role Playing (LARP) and others just chill with a little bit of old-school role-play games like Dungeons and Dragons (or GURPS is pretty fun).

Of course, my friends in the Austin Horror Society are always looking for new (and classic) thrills and chills. Filmmaker and author friends like Gabrielle Faust spend all of their time crafting strange and wonderful worlds for us to explore.

Yes, tomorrow, Halloween will have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to go away until next year. You may be one of those people who carries it in your heart all year round. You may be one who revels as much in the ghosts of Christmas as others do in the carols. If so, then I toast you. You are a kindred spirit and a part of my own personal Addams family. I love you all!

Public appearances in October 2014

Photo of Saul Ravencraft reading someones palm at the spirit fair.Doc Saul Ravencraft will be telling fortunes for only $5 as part of the Halloween Celebration at Pioneer Farms on October 10-11, 17-18, 24. Tickets to the event are only $12. They are also playing on the 25th, but Doc has another engagement that night.

The event is fun for the whole family and gives you a preview of some of the places you might experience a Séance Show or other Paranormal Adventure if you are so bold.

Anyone who buys a $5 reading will also be entitled to $5 off of a more detailed reading at another time, so you’ll essentially get this one for free! Come by and say hello!

First ever predictions

It’s that time, when one year rolls over to another. 2013 fades into the past and 2014 looms into our future. In the video above you’ll see The Amazing Criswell’s immortal introduction to Plan 9 From Outer Space. Criswell was something else! He read minds and he made the most amazing predictions.

Criswell’s predictions are a matter of record. Yet I find them so inspiring that I have decided to, for the first time ever, make my own predictions for 2014. A small, green sage once said “Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.” So, let me gaze into my crystal ball and see what I see.

Chris_Walden-headshotI would like to do this as a dramatic video, but there wasn’t time to set that up this time. (Maybe next year!) Simply imagine me dramatically proclaiming:

I predict there will be more and more discoveries about the “fall out” from the Fukushima disaster. People will be affected but it will be difficult to prove the connection and the controversy will go on for some time.

I predict there will be an incredible breakthrough in energy that will promise to make electricity more available and cheaper. I sense the nature of the discovery will have something to do with batteries or energy storage.

I predict there will be a movement to repeal  the twenty-second amendment to the U. S. Constitution that limits the terms of the President in preparation to allow President Obama a 3rd term. There will be little progress in 2014, though it will get some attention.

I predict that Miley Sirus will have legal trouble as she continues to project her “bad girl” image. She will be changed as a result.

I predict there will be an announcement of the most expensive film ever produced.

I predict continued progress in legalizing gay marriage with more states joining on. There will also be more news about gay divorces and a television producer will propose a reality program about a gay divorce court.

I predict that locations that have previously suffered from drought will experience an over-abundance of rain.

I predict the government will attempt to prosecute a company for making its Internet services too secure.

That’s all that comes to me now. I’m pretty new to this. Maybe next year there will be more.

Happy New Year everyone!

Web site blowed up… New site emerging from the ashes.

Photograph of nuclear explosion in the desert
Artistic interpretation of what happened to the web site.

Over the holiday there were some technical events that blew up the web site. Recovery was possible, but this also seemed like an opportunity to rebuild from scratch and make the site more useful.

It’s the new year, which is a time of rebuilding. For the past several years I’ve been working on transforming myself and my approach to entertainment. I’ve moved away from doing everything for laughs and toward creating a place of genuine fantasy based on all the things that have interested me throughout my life: tales of the strange, legends of myth and magic. I began my collection of bizarre artifacts. I hosted a paranormal talk show for several years (archive coming). I met people who were ghost hunters, vampires, werewolves and those who love them.

It’s been a wild ride and a lot of fun. Now I want to share it all. It’s time to take the amazing tales I’ve uncovered and share them with you. It’s time to show you that your mind is an amazing thing and that we are each as great a wizard as any we’ve read about. I want to share the joy, the wonder andyesthe laughter that is wrapped in every “what if” thought we’ve ever had. Some do this through books. Some do it through movies or TV. I still love creating live experiences, so I have taken on the title of “Paranormal Performance Artist,” wrapping my background as an actor, writer, and magician together.

This makes 2014 my grandest adventure. People didn’t know that The Twilight Zone and Buffy the Vampire Slayer were fun until they experienced them. So, now it’s time to help people experience the world of live, paranormal entertainment. It’s going to be a blast!

The Shadow Hour Archive – Chris Brethwaite, near death experiences – 6/17/2009

Check out the International Association for Near-Death Studies at their web site: http://www.iands.org/

 


 - Glassicism
The  opening and closing themes for the Shadow Hour are from the piece Glassy Shadows by Adam Certamin Bownik and is available on Jamendo.