Me driving down in a work-induced stupor.
My friends Paul and Corey, freshly back from overseas. Note the Kerry/Edwards sticker.
Paul and Corey came down to go haunting, and brought along some friends. The happiest news is that both of them have retired from the Guard, and won't be called up again (barring WWIII).
Aside from caring a lot for them, this has really good implications for getting the Dead Zone back up and running.
It's been down for two years, lost the location, and it would basically be starting over. More to come on that front...
The way it worked out, I ended up driving directly to the first visitation of the night: Catacombs Extreme Scream.
This had previously been two different haunts: Catacombs and Fear. They were both owned by the same company, and they decided to just put them together into one big haunt.
See these three buildings?
It goes through all three buildings. Every floor. It's freaking huge-- it took us over 70 minutes from when we started in the very front until we reached the exit. And that wasn't a meandering 70 minutes either.
The guardian at one of the former entry doors.
This used to be the entrance to Catacombs when there were two separate haunts. Now it is used as a service entrance. It's a beautiful sculpture-- the picture doesn't do it justice.
I was sweating profusely by the time we finished. I shouldn't have worn the coat, but it was a touch chilly that night.
Paul and I. I am the sweaty one.
We parted ways, promising to meet again Saturday night for the Edge of Hell and The Beast.
I headed over to ez2beve's house, where I was staying. Where I was greeted by not only Eve (and later Bryan), but several critters that all really wanted attention. Hee!
Button and Ulee. Chinese Crested. They are supposed to look like that.
I slept that night with Ms. Faye (sp?), a very happy kitty indeed. I was a Warm Thing.
Early Saturday morning, we headed out to breakfast and then to the Kansas City Rennaisance Festival. I won't even attempt to caption these pictures, just looking is probably enough.
The Maypole dance. Eve and I were laughing that if any of the participants actually knew the symbolism of the ritual, they would freak.
Look really close, and you can see that one of the warriors has a rubber chicken in his sword belt.
Yes, that is real stained glass. It's beautiful.
Eve, Bryan, Dawn.
Verily, I am your father...
And one last one...
This outfit is silver chainmail.
If you can wear this and manage to pull it off well, I want to meet you. Now.
By early afternoon, it was home to nap.
Paul called in the afternoon wanting to know if I was interested in meeting up with the others for dinner. Since I really wanted to talk with Paul about future stuff, I was more than happy.
We went to Chappels, a quite nice restaurant (heavy sports bar theme, but quite good food), and had an excellent meal. Four other folks who had been in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Bush-haters all. We had some lively political discussion (as opposed to what I normally get down here) and I got to see firsthand what the soldiers over there really think, or at least four of them.
And I got to spend some time talking with Paul about haunt theory, where my plans were going, and about becoming a much more active part in the Dead Zone. It was good, we were in much agreement about things, and Paul really seemed to be getting his old energy back.
Around 7:30, we packed up and headed over to the Edge of Hell, where we met Mark (Paul's brother), his new (2 weeks) wife Shay, and their friend Victoria, who I had not met before. It was amazingly good to see these folks again. Mark and I headed over to the Beast to pick up my will-call tickets, and talked briefly about how we had each been trying to talk Paul into running the Dead Zone again, and indie filmmaking. It was sparkly fun.
This is the sign on the side/roof of the building, visible from quite far away.
Front of the Edge of Hell.
Hell is quite good. The concept is that you travel through something like seven layers of hellish torture before catching a glimpse of Heaven, at the gates of which you are judged and sent on your way.
The set decorations are awesome, the lighting is awesome. It's again quite large, taking up five stories of a warehouse.
And then there is the slide.
The slide to hell.
To give you an idea of the scale, that slide is made of four-foot diameter stainless steel tubing. It is five stories tall. And it is dark. You slide for probably 20 seconds, which is an amazingly long time when you are traveling fast in the dark. It is completely indescribable.
I got quite dizzy and disoriented and was unable to stand up at the bottom, so I was rolling on the floor trying to get out of the way.
Hell is probably 45-50 minutes. I had left my cell phone and camera in the truck so as not to lose them in the haunts, so I had no absolute sense of time.
We managed to escape Hell, to walk over to the Beast.
The Beast is the biggest haunt I've ever seen. Yes, it is bigger than Catacombs. It's all in one building, and that building is huge.
It's also easily the most elaborate, has absolutely beautiful sets and props, and the best actors. I even stuck back a bit to hear the story of one of the haunt crew who had a lovely poem that she read to describe her plight. It was macabre, and lovely, and I had to escape through the fireplace.
It is themed. You move through various parts of it-- through a swamp, into the werewolf forest (which has real trees BTW... indoors, 1/4 acre, and you can get LOST), and through various parts of a mansion with secret passages, dungeons, stairways... it's orgasmic. It's not quite Disney-level detail on the sets, but it's close, and it's a lot scarier. And the use of lighting and sound is amazing: at one point in the werewolf forest, I had lost the other folks in my party, and I had lost sight of anyone else. All I could see were trees and fog, and all I could hear were the cry of wolves all around, and the occasional pad, pad, pad of feet running through leaves. And I, mister jaded, got into it, and got more than a little creeped out. I was very very happy.
There is a slide in here, too. It is only four stories, and it doesn't corkscrew, so you go fast. Very fast. Very, very fast. Like almost falling fast. It is a serious rush.
These haunts could not be built like this today. Fire codes and the ADA would prevent you from having stairways and uneven floors, and I have to think that some of the materials in there are flammable (REAL trees!). The Beast is a masterpiece that will probably never be duplicated, and if you are a haunt afficianado, I would strongly urge you to make a pilgrimage at least once.
Lovely bit of humor.
is a temple, from some Christian sect which I don't recall specifically right now. The dome of the temple has a hole in the top of the roof, because their belief is that when Jesus returns to earth, will fall from the sky to a very precise location, which is the hole in the roof. Thus when Jesus descends from above, he will descend into the temple.
Except that a few years ago, somebody in the church realized that the calculations had been wrong. The location of the temple was off by several hundred feet.
So they built a new temple:
I call it the Church of the Spinning Jesus.
The architecture is beautiful, but I just can't get the thought of Jesus falling from the sky only to be impaled by the lovely spiral spire.
And a church near Eve's had this lovely sentiment:
And with that, I think I shall go to bed, an exhausted but happy marmot.