The Buckland Museum

It’s a TRIO SIMPATICO field trip!

For this episode David Tavolier and Joshua Witsaman are joined by returning guest DAVID WESTER as the trio travels to the BUCKLAND GALLERY OF WITCHCRAFT AND MAGICK (AKA the Buckland Museum).

This hidden gem of Cleveland Ohio is a small but intriguing collection of some of the mystic and ceremonial possessions of Raymond Buckland.  A student of Gerald Gardner, Buckland eventually came to the United States and formed one of the first Wiccan covens in the country.  The collection on display at the gallery includes items which belonged to Buckland as well as several other occultists such as Aleister Crowley and Gerald Gardner himself.

We’re discussing the occult, witchcraft, museums, and the mystical in pop-culture.  Plus, as you should expect from this show by now, we go off the rails at a few points and delve into more than a few tangents. And, stick around to the end to hear your co-hosts break into an impromptu duet!

All this and more on this episode of TRIO SIMPATICO!

Listen HERE!

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Dread and Revelries of Spring

Below is a poem I recently wrote simultaneously with a short horror story.  The short story was read on Trio Simpatico, the podcast I co-host.  We produced the reading for our string of horror themed episodes in October, and a portion of the poem is used to close out that piece.

Both the story and the poem are based on a dream which my wife relayed to me one morning.  Her dream was splendidly cryptic and contained some really frightening imagery.  The short story, called Ghost Storm, is an elaboration of the nightmare as my wife told it to me, while the poem is more of an interpretation of the same basic ideas though most of the details are transferred to a completely different time and place.

If you’d like to hear our audio production of Ghost Storm click HERE I’ll most likely be posting the text here in the weeks to follow.

The poem is below the break, enjoy!

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Unrequited Death – 1870

To celebrate the occasion of the day I present the following short horro story.

Last year this was turned into an audio reading by Jessica Burkhart and my podcasting partner David Tavolier for our podcast TRIO SIMPATICO but I realized I never posted the actual text anywhere.  So here you are, I present to you in full Unrequited Death – 1870 by me, Joshua Scott Witsaman.

If you’d like to listen to the podcast featuring the reading simply go HERE!

Happy Halloween!

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It Came From My Notebook!

Bonjour mon prouts!

So over the past year or so I realized that I simply wasn’t happy with the amount of writing I was doing at home, it simply wasn’t enough.  So I decided to put some effort into writing during my work hours as well.  So during my lunch breaks I’ve gotten into the habit of doing a few writing exercises to increase my output and experiment with different styles.  Whether it’s some badly written poetry, a few paragraphs about random thoughts, or a short stream of consciousness story; I’ve tried to spend at least a few minutes of my break everyday writing something.  If nothing else it at least helps stimulate my mind between the long bouts of cerebral drudgery that is my desk job.  Now my pocket notebook is filled with pages of crazy nonsense, fragments of greatness, interesting concepts, and profound thoughts in need of expounding.

As I was looking through my notebook searching for ideas or topics for this very blog I came across one of these exercises I wrote which I had completely forgotten about.  The concept for the writing was simple enough, I would sit down and begin writing the first thing that popped into my head and just go with it until my lunch break was over.  So with nothing much else to share this week I present to you the results of that writing exercise:

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There was a man who ordered a cheeseburger.

“No pickles.”  He asked.

With a nod the cashier complied, punched in his order, rang him up, and the man paid with cash.  

As the man stepped down to await his food another server pointed to the end of the counter and asked him to step down further and wait just around the corner.

With a shrug the man complied.  His shoes squeaked as he walked.

Around the corner was a short narrow hallway.  There the man waited for a moment, another moment, and longer.  Soon he began to worry he would be forgotten. (But don’t we all worry about that?)

As his worry really started to mount a heavy looking utility door at the end of the hall slowly opened outward.  From the doorway another server peaked out and looked at the man, waving him over.

“No pickles?”  She asked in a whisper.

The man nodded reflexively.

“Follow me.”  She told him.

Looking around the man slipped in behind the heavy looking utility door and followed the server in.  He just really wanted a cheeseburger.

The room beyond was dark and soon completely so.  The man lost sight of the woman he was following and began simply following the sounds of her steps through the murky space.  The path through which she guided him was long and twisted and the man bumped into several walls and corners in the dark.  (This must be a very large burger joint.)

Eventually the footsteps halted and in the silence the man stopped too.

As he stood there a single wood torch was lit in front of him and the small flame burned brightly in the recent total darkness.

“That is odd.”  The man thought.  With the scent of the burning flame harsh in his nostrils he stepped forward into the glow of the torch.  There on the other side of the flame sat an enormous cheeseburger the size of a small garage.

That is probably more odd.”  The man concluded.

Which is when the cheeseburger opened its eyes.  Three large human looking eyes inset atop the upper bun of the cheeseburger.  Looking down at the man, the bun-eyes narrowed.

“No pickle?”  The burger asked.  It spoke with an invisible hinge, like a mouth with three lips.  A lip of bun.  A lip of burger meat.  Followed by another lip of bun.  

The man nodded.  “Yes, that is correct.  I ordered no pickle.”

And then the burger spoke again.  The cheeseburger regaled the man with countless hidden secrets of reality.  Occult knowledge which shapes out perceptions and which can alter the very fundamentals of existence.

The man listened wide-eyed and intently.  His mind was like a balloon full of mayonnaise and about to burst.  How long the cheeseburger spoke can not be accurately determined but when it finally finished speaking the chamber was filled with a deep silence the likes of which have not been experienced since the seconds before the Big Bang.

Slowly the man raised his hand and commented, “I just really want a cheeseburger.”

To which the giant cheeseburger closed its eyes and replied.

“You are the cheeseburger.” 

The man looked down and it was true, he was a cheeseburger and as he realized this he saw the enormous tri-eyed cheeseburger slump forward, open it’s bun and burger mouth, and eat the man up in a single gulp.  At that moment the man became the giant cheeseburger and the giant cheeseburger was him.

“Well this has been weird.”  He thought to himself before he decided to leave the chamber.

With a heave and a thrust the gigantic cheeseburger exploded into the sky, through the planet’s atmosphere, and into the majesty of the stars beyond.  For what else is there to do for a giant cheeseburger with an insight into everything but to take to the sky and wander the cosmos for the rest of eternity?

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That is all!

Friday Funny Pages: When You Gotta Go . . .

 

Today’s image arrives to us from the pages of Dr. Strange volume 2 #5, collected in the trade paperback entitled Doctor Strange: Separate Reality.  Written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Frank Brunner this collection of their run is really a pretty enjoyable read and should be on the must read list for anyone who aspires to be an apprentice fan of the good Doctor Strange.

There’s really not much to tell about this one.  The name of the fellow with the full bladder is Silver Dagger, a long running villain of Dr. Strange who is a Christian religious zealot determined to destroy Dr. Strange and his esoteric practices.  Armed with an enchanted dagger made of silver (go figure) Silver Dagger will kill any who get in the way of his mission to destroy the Sorcerer Supreme.  On the left is Clea, the transdimensional girlfriend of Dr. Strange and niece of his arch-nemesis Dormammu!  But of course you already knew all that.

Here Silver Dagger believes that Dr. Strange has been killed, but little does he know that the master of the mystic arts still has a few tricks up his ethereal sleeve.  The spirit of Stephen Strange is able to possess a mannequin dressed in his clothes and uses it to try and take the villain by surprise, to no avail.  Silver Dagger, believing the event was some trick by Clea, laughs off the attempt to overtake him and leaves her unattended while he goes off to take a piss.

Dr. Strange of course had a plan, and the underestimations of the mustachioed Silver Dagger come back to haunt him, quite literally!  I’ll leave out all the details however as I’m sure you’d much rather read it all for yourself!

That is all!

I Wish Every Day Was Halloween!

Halloween is approaching hopefully all of you boils and ghouls out there have your houses decorated, your candy bowls filled, and your costumes prepped.  Halloween is my favorite of the major holidays.  When October rolls around I try to bust out the skulls and pumpkin decorations as soon as possible, and the wife and I often disagree on how horrific the decorations should be.  Personally I don’t believe that any type of decorations should be blown out of proportion whether it’s a ridiculously involved Christmas light display, or a sprawling Halloween cemetery scene in your front yard with animatronic vampires, contrary to popular belief it is possible to over do it (and frankly your neighbors probably don’t want to look at your gaudy shit for a month anyway!)

I firmly believe that less is more, and that you can have some memorable decorations without going the Clark Griswold route.  The contention between my wife and I is how scary the decorations should be.  If it were up to me I would pass out the Trick or Treat candy between two poles decorated with mannequins made to look like impaled child clowns, along with a few skulls trickling blood from their eye sockets.  You know, nothing extravagant but enough to really hit home and creep the hell out of the kids that approach my doorstep.  If you want the candy, you’ve got to be brave enough to get it.  Lauren however is more inclined to do the whole family friendly schtick.  Some jack O’ lanterns, a Halloween sign on the door, and maybe we dress the puggles in goofy costumes (which is always a good time.)  Our decoration plans are seemingly in constant negotiation.

However despite my love for Halloween, and my enthusiasm for it, I generally hate this last week right before the big day.

It always seems like when October starts the world comes out guns blazing with Halloween excitement.  The weekends are chock full of horror movie marathons, costumes are on display every where you go, and the Reese’s pumpkins are seemingly around ever corner beckoning you to devour them.  As the weeks go on though, and we come to this last week before Halloween the ghoulish spectacle wanes.  It seems like there aren’t any good horror movies left on the upcoming television lineup, and the Halloween decor has already been put on clearance, torn apart, and decimated like a cabin full of virginal teenage victims who’ve fallen prey to a supernatural serial killer.  With retailers quietly displaying Christmas merchandise earlier and earlier each season, it has gotten so that when we’ve reached Halloween people are already bracing themselves for the X-Mas rush!  It seems like every year around this time I’m forced to summon forth my inner demonologist and take it upon myself to keep the spirit of Halloween bright and alive (or at least undead.)  Thankfully through my experience I’ve come up with a regular routine of grotesque activities that help me keep my thoughts dark and my nights sleepless!  Allow me to go over a few of them for you now.

Sign an exclusive deal with Count Chocula:

Like Peeps at Easter, and Candy Canes at Christmas, Count Chocula is a Halloween staple for me.  There was once a time when the Count and his buddies, Boo Berry, and Frankenberry could be found on the cereal shelves all year round, but those days are gone.  Now Count Chocula is a seasonal delicacy and I make sure to get as much of it as possible throughout the month of October.  There’s just something about chowing down on ghost and bat shaped cereal bits first thing in the morning that really helps keep the feeling of Halloween going!  Whether you’re a fan of the fumbling Frankenberry or the beatnik Boo Berry or the coco count himself, make sure to keep your shelf stocked with one of these, the scariest of the breakfast cereals.

I'm almost 100% sure this record won a grammy.

Blast the scary music:

While on my way to work I make sure to set my iPod up to thrill me with some of the best of my Halloween related music.  Things like the theme from Halloween and Night on Bald Mountain are good for creeping yourself out in the early morning darkness.   If you need a little lighter fair, but still want to hit your Halloween groove you can try bands like the Cramps, or classics like the Monster Mash, and Thriller.  A couple of groups that deal almost exclusively with Halloween type themes and who I’ve come to appreciate all year around are Zombina and the Skeletones and Paul Roland.  Musically they’re very different but they both have their own unique darkness that ranges from bizarre and humorous to just plain creepy.  If you’d like to learn more about them click on their links.

Are they a cool band? Yes, they are a cool band.

Horror Movies:

This one really needs no explanation.  Watch. Horror. Movies.  Everyone has their favorites with varying ratios of gore to scare as well as classic to modern.  So I’ll leave the choices up to you.  Oh, and Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas is a must as well, just be ready to watch it again in a few months when X-Mas rolls around!  AND There is a bonus this year (and hopefully for many more years to come) with the television series’ The Walking Dead and American Horror Story!  Two great ongoing dramas that have thus far been filled with plenty of great storytelling as well as well crafted horror elements.  With the modern wonders of DVR you could conceivably save up your recordings of these shows for the end of the week and have a horror drama double feature!  Both shows are unique and will give you varying degrees of “the willies.”

Only on episode 3, and I can already say this show is a favorite of mine.

Other Things:

Take Halloween into your own hands!  If you wait for this last week to carve your pumpkins it can really help to keep those nostalgic Halloween feelings going, and helps ensure that your pumpkins don’t look like the Crypt Keeper by the time Halloween actually rolls around (unless of course you carved it to look like the Crypt Keeper.)  Personally around this time I also like to delve into some fine demented literature.  It’s always a good time to revisit my favorite paranormal superhero, Dr. Strange and his supernaturally macabre adventures.  Also this year I’m working on completing the entire collected works of H.P. Lovecraft which happens to coincide nicely with the holiday.  Finally look back at some other media that fits the themes of Halloween, for instance I plan on  rewatching the episode of the Star Wars Clone Wars cartoon entitled  Legacy of Terror, which features zombie Geonosians.  There’s even an episode of Babylon 5 called Day of the Dead which features a strange occurrence aboard the station where the dead return to the world of the living for a single night.

Undead Geonosians prowling the catacombs in search of clone brains.

Basically when others aren’t getting psyched for Halloween, sometimes you’ve gotta psyche yourself up.  Remember that Halloween is more than just bad movies, girls dressed like sluts, and tooth rotting candy.  Halloween is a holiday that allows us to briefly acknowledge the darkness of the world, and of ourselves.  Halloween expresses death and allows us to come to terms with the fear of all of our inevitable destinies, and Halloween allows us to revel in the mysteries and instinctive imagination of the human psyche!

Happy Halloween everyone, make sure to scare the piss out of someone special this year!

That is all!

Friday Funny Pages: Dracula!

 

I’ve been saving this one for awhile now, waiting for the perfect time to post it.  If you remember the very first Friday Funny Pages (seen HERE) you’ll recall there was a similar gag in that panel with Dr. Doom and Iron Man.  Now we have Dr. Strange, Hannibal King, and Dr. Strange’s business manager(?).  With my month of Halloween themed Friday Funny Pages I figured it was high time to bust out the ol’ Dracula panel.

I don’t have time today to go into much detail really, I’m running late as it is, but I know I’ve talked in the past about how I’m a huge Dr. Strange fan and anytime the good doctor does battle with the undead prince of the night Dracula, it’s always an epic event.