Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Just a few of my favorite books.  The first is from Stephen King, it is titled JOYLAND, and is very classic King.  When it came out, it was promoted as Stephen King's first mystery.  And it is a mystery, but it has all the classic elements of a classic Stephen King story.  I picked it up when it first came out and immediately dug into it.  I could not put it down and have since read it a few more times.

It is set in and around a seaside North Carolina amusement park in 1973.  When University of NH student, Devin takes a summer job at the park he becomes wrapped up in the story of a girl who was murdered in the park's haunted house ride.  The story has a carny fortuneteller who seems to be pretty "spot on", a ghost, plenty of secrets, a mysterious neighbor and her son and other creepy characters.  And of course he throws in a pretty rough southern storm and a little more murder just to spice things up a bit. 

Another book is by one of my favorite film makers, Tobe Hooper.  In 2011 he released MIDNIGHT MOVIE.  Tobe is invited to the screening of DESTINY EXPRESS a movie he wrote and directed when he was young, but "has not seen the light of days in decades."  When the murders start and dead bodies start to add up, Tobe sets out to put an end to the strange events the film seems to have conjured up.  The story is set in Tobe's documentary style, with all his classic humor and horror. 
One of my favorite photos of my favorite writers and film makers, Mick Garris, Tobe Hooper, Stephen King and Clive Barker.  It is from the movie SLEEPWALKERS.
Another is a short non-fiction about Countess Elizabeth Bathory.
 I became aware of her in the late '70's and quickly became fascinated with her.  For those of you who may not know of her, she is the most prolific female serial killer in history. 
She lived in Hungary from 1560 to 1614.  She and four collaborators were accused of torturing and killing hundreds of young women between 1585 and 1610.  The stories of her crimes have been verified by testimony of witnesses and victims.  After her death, stories that she bathed in the blood of Virgins to retain her youth and participated in other Vampire like acts started to surface.
She was tried and convicted and imprisoned in solitary confinement until she died four years later.
There have been a several movies about her.  THE COUNTESS  from 2011; BATHORY from 2008 and several other fictionalized versions.  And there are countless books of her life.
She really is stunning for a serial killer, isn't she?
COUNTESS ELIZABETH BATHORY--The Life and Legacy of History's Most Prolific Female Serial Killer, is a short book that tells as much fact as possible about her and her co-conspirators.
A favorite coffee table book is TOO MUCH HORROR BUSINESS--The Kirk Hammett Collection.
The collection is amazing and the photographs breathtaking.
And as a guitar player, Kirk is the best.
Movie posters and props.
Toys and masks.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Yesterday was Patriots' Day,  the 241st anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord.  We have visited Lexington and Concord, but this year we celebrated Patriots' Day here at home.  No, it is not an official holiday in New York State, but I still choose the celebrate this great day every year.

It celebrates the Battles of Lexington and Concord, MA;   which are the first battles of the Revolutionary War. 

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,                                                        
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,          
And fired the shot heard round the world

We headed to Saratoga County to the Saratoga National Historic Park,   or the Saratgoga Battle Field.
It is located in the Town of Stillwater and preserves the site of the Battle of Saratoga. 

It was a beautiful Spring day for a drive around the auto road, the trees are still a bit naked.
We cross into the American Fortified Lines first.
As you travel the auto road a wonderful CD tells the story of the great battle that occurred here and the stories behind the monuments that dot the park.
The loop, which begins and ends at the visitor center is a bit over nine miles long and there are multiple stops to park, get out and enjoy the history.
And at each stop there is an additional narrative of each site.
My favorite monument is of Benedict Arnold's Boot. 
Before Arnold was labeled a traitor he fought bravely and brilliantly for the Continental Army and was desperately wounded on this spot.  The monument DOES NOT mention Arnold by name.
This is the inscription on the back.
"Erected 1887 By
Brev: Maj: Gen: S.N.Y.
2nd V. Pres't Saratoga Mon't Ass't'n:
In memory of
the "most brilliant soldier" of the
Continental Army
who was desperately wounded
on this spot the sally port of
7th October, 1777
winning for his countrymen
the decisive battle of the
American Revolution
and for himself the rank of
Major General

The last stop of the day brings us to a spot with an incredible view of the Green Mountains and the majestic Hudson River.

And again, another reason to love the Capital Region!!!


Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Like my passion for the sport of Fencing; I have a passion for white water rafting.  My first foray into rafting was on the Hudson River,    right here in New York.  The rafting adventures are up in the Adirondack Region and the trips can be beautiful and fun; but for me they lack a bit of adrenalin.  Rafting on the Hudson is dependent on the environment, where as in Maine the rivers I prefer to raft are damn controlled. 

Our rafting adventures are with Crab Apple White Water in The Forks, Maine.
The Forks, Maine   is in Somerset County and has a population of 35 (no that is not a typo, it is in fact 35.)  It is where the Dead River  and the Kennebec River  converge.

The Dead River is damned for Flagstaff Lake Reservoir control and recreation.  So, the rapids are not reliant on the weather.  But, the snow melt run off doesn't hurt; and since this is Maine we are talking about there tends to be  generous snow melt run off for the Spring rafting.

                                                               The Dead River

The Kennebec River is damn controlled for Hydroelectric Power at Harris Station.  And it is the largest Hydroelectric plant in the state of Maine.
The Kennebec River
Harris Station
Boats heading down the stairs to the river next to Harris Station.
We have rafted both rivers several times in both the Spring and in the Fall.  I have never rafted in the Summer.  Spring is my preference due to the run off from the snow melt, which does intensify the water speed that is released front he damns.  The question you are asking is the water cold?  The answer, yes.  On one occasion when we where rafting in April, there was still snow on the ground.  We have photos of us in our wet suits standing in the snow.
But, Fall in the Forks can be magical, with the leaves changing colors.  And, depending on the Summer weather, the rivers can be so warm.  There are opportunities to get out of the boat and float; this is much more comfortable in the Fall.
Rafts on the Dead with snow of the shore.
Both rivers have class 3, 4 and 5 rapids.
Hitting a hole on the Dead.
Dropping in another hole on the Dead.
Some easy floating on the Kennebec.
The water moving a bit faster on the Kennebec.
Crab Apple offers videos of trips down both rivers at the end of the weekend, and they have a few promotional videos that give you a little taste of the experience.
There are a lot of dump outs in the video, but don't be scared, with all the times we have rafted the two rivers, we never lost anyone (that we will admit to.)
The Guides getting ready for the season.
For me it is not just the amazing rapids that make this a wonderful getaway.  There are two days of rafting, but we usually go up a couple of extra days just to enjoy the beautiful undisturbed land. 
We always take an easy hike out to see Moxie Falls.
Moxie Stream
Moxie Falls
Flagstaff Lake is a nice side trip too.
Then there are the moose
And then there is Berry's.  If Berry's doesn't have it, you don't need it. 
It is a nearly 7 hour drive (longer with much needed stops) from our home in the Capital District; but well worth it.  I love the State of Maine and there is something so magical about being deep in the Maine wilderness.