Saturday, July 16, 2011

Horror Happiness

Everyone knows my favorite season in Florida isn't really a season; it's an event that runs 26 nights from the end of September through Halloween. An event that I have attended every year since 2004. But this year, I'm going to experience it in a whole new way.

Last Tuesday, I auditioned for a "scareactor" position at Halloween Horror Nights. And I was fortunate enough to be cast!

In memory of the past seven years of attending as a guest, here's some pics (in terrible resolution, I might add) from HHN 14 through HHN 20.

HHN 14 (2004): 2X The Fear
Billie (right) and me (left) with a pumpkin friend in the corn maze that connected both parks that year
HHN 15 (2005): Tales of Terror
Scary decor
HHN 16 (2006): Sweet 16
Angela (left) & me (right) enjoy a drink 
HHN 16 (2006): Sweet 16
Cindy (left), body collector (middle), me (right)
HHN 16 (2006): Sweet 16
Cindy (left), Jack (middle), me (right)
HHN 17 (2007): Carnival of Carnage
The year of my first "RIP Tour"
HHN 17 (2007): Carnival of Carnage
Lito (left) and me (right) at Jack's Fun House of Fear - in 3D!
HHN 18 (2008): Reflections of Fear
Cindy (right) and me (left) with the Evil Queen in the Scary Tales scarezone,  my fave that year!
HHN 18 (2008): Reflections of Fear
Cindy (right) and me (left) in the American Gothic scarezone
HHN 19 (2009): Ripped from the Silver Screen
At my bachelorette party

HHN 19 (2009): Ripped from the Silver Screen
Maggie's (left) first time at HHN - for my bachelorette!
HHN 20 (2010): Twenty Years of Fear
Fear himself!
A staple for any HHN event

Looking forward to the excitement that HHN 21 is sure to bring!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

My Grandfather's Fourth of July Reflections

In honor of Fourth of July, I wanted to share this wonderfully written email from my grampy - the original family writer.

Dear Ones:

The stuff that saturates newspapers and e-mail this time of year set off some reflections.  As a kid,  the Fourth of July was to me second in importance only to Christmas.  Beginning with our January birthdays, my brother and I saved our pennies for the day in late June when we would spend hours in Klingansmith's store laboriously selecting fireworks.  We sought the biggest bang for our buck well before the phrase was invented.  And year after year, Bob and I staged one great Fourth of July celebration after another.

But my most memorable Fourth of July, ever, was in 1945. 

As you know, I was a Navy pilot.  In late 1944, I was assigned to a squadron that flew large, four-engined airplanes equipped for aerial mapping.  On the morning of July 4, 1945, ours was one of four squadron planes that took off from Iwo Jima and set a northerly course for the island of Honshu, Japan.  We had been told that battered elements of the Imperial Japanese Fleet might be hiding along the shore of Tokyo Bay.  We were to fly up to Tokyo's front door and try to find and photograph them.

As we neared Honshu, wispy cirrus began appearing above us and below, a blanket of clouds could be seen at 10,000 feet covering the land ahead.    Shortly, a dozen P-51 Army fighters assigned to fly cover for us materialized, dropped their auxiliary tanks and took up their positions.  Ahead, someone spotted the snow-clad cone of Mt. Fuji poking up through the gray blanket which by then obscured everything below. 

The blanket extended as far as we could see, so as we neared the most promising target area, we decided to go down and find out what lay beneath.  We popped out of the cloud layer at about 7,500 feet only to find another thick layer below at two or three thousand feet.  Mt. Fuji now presented us with a view of only its middle - a truncated cone suspended between cloud layers which obscured both base and summit..

Our chances of locating and photographing anything on the ground appeared to be nil.  We were flying in the white middle layer of an Oreo - socked in above and socked in below.  Nevertheless, our quartet split into pairs, in an attempt to cover opposite shores of Tokyo Bay simultaneously.  A half hour of nothing followed - no flak, no enemy fighters.  We just droned along, unsure of where we were, with clouds above and below.  Radio traffic began picking up.  The P-51 guys began muttering about fuel.  This was mission was futile, crazy, not worth the risk, a waste of time.  Everybody wanted to bag it and go home. 

Then, "Jesus, look at that!" 

Dead ahead was a rapidly widening hole in the blanket below.  And there, bathed in rain and gray cloud wisps, was a large jumble of ships lying at anchor or berthed at makeshift piers.  A miracle, a million to one shot!  There followed much yelling on the intercom - making sure that our photographers were catching every element of the scene below.  We passed over the hole in less than a minute, then banked sharply for another pass.  But the hole in the blanket had closed. 

Our fighter escort lit out for home shortly after.  We nosed about for another half hour in the cloud sandwich hoping for another hole, then turned South, also.  Once back on Iwo, there was no celebration.  It had been a long, tense day.  

Next day, I'm told, there was an article in the New York Times headed, "Navy Discovers Remnants of Japanese Fleet."  

Happy Fourth of July.