Thursday, July 26, 2007

Death (and blind) by salsa

Last night I was watching reruns of Ghost Hunters while the spouse was doing his Tae Quan Do thing. And, as with many nighttime TV watching ventures, a snack is present. Sometimes it’s popcorn, or cheese and crackers (love me some Brie), or maybe ice cream. But last night’s choice was chips and salsa. And not just any old ordinary salsa, but some super, duper, burn-your-face-off salsa.

The above reference is commonly known as “foreshadowing.”

This particular salsa is so hot that I have to dilute it with boring old store-bought stuff. Even for a pepper-head like me, I can’t take it straight.

So I had finished my snacky-poo and was in the process of cleaning up. From here on out, I’m going to slow everything down so you, too, can fully appreciate the trauma that is about to unfurl.

I had scooped up my dishes, the bag of chips and the jar of referenced salsa when the lid of the jar came loose. I thought I had tightened the lid but apparently had not done such a good job.

I was aware of the jar coming loose and I saw it falling toward our nice, light taupe carpet. In an effort to stop the eminent catastrophe, I dove down in an attempt to catch the open, plummeting jar (you can just see this in 'bullet-time,' can't ya?)

But being not as young and spry as I once was, I was not quick enough and the jar hit the carpeted floor. And it hit at such as angle that the salsa did not go sideways and spill, but rather flung straight up.

Straight up. Like a perfect 90 degrees straight up. Into my eyes.

Into my eyes.

My eyes.


I actually saw the chunks of salsa as they zoomed towards me. And, once again, not being super-human fast, I was unable to shut my eyes in time. I felt the coolness of the tomatoey, gelatin-like substance flood my face. And before the pain even started I knew I was doomed.

I dropped whatever remained in my hands and ran for the bathroom, yelling the whole time. Please note: At this point the pain has still not started yet, but I'm yelling because I know what's coming. I grabbed a bath towel, went to the sink, turned on the water and started splashing. That’s when the pain started.

Pain. Oh pain. Pain pain pain.

I’m soaking my face in water, splashing like crazy. I have to get my contacts out but I can’t even open my eyes. I’m also sobbing and yelping.

Speeding things back up to real time, this went on for about 5 minutes. The pain is so bad I can no longer stand and am now on my knees, still with my hands and head in the sink, trying desperately to open my eyes and get my lenses out. During all of this violent washing of the water my right lens has already escaped. Whether it got stuck to a towel, landed on the floor or went down the sink, I don’t know.

All this time I’m thinking, “Is this an emergency? Do I need to call 911? Dan won’t be home for another hour. What the hell should I do? The water isn’t working fast enough. What else can I throw at my eyes to make the pain stop? Am I going to have damage to my eyes now? Will I wake up tomorrow with my eyelids glued together and my eyeballs seared and blind?”

I was finally able to open my eyes, but only for about one second at a time. The pain is worse when air hits my eyes. Finally, after an additional 5 or so minutes, I was able to get the left lens out. Not that it matters. Those poor bastards are toast as far as I’m concerned (thank the gods for disposable lenses).

My poor eyes are beyond red. And swollen. And I can only keep them open for a few seconds at a time. But, after several more minutes (if you’re keeping track, it’s been about 15 total) I was able to put on my glasses and venture back to the living room and inspect the damage.

Which, strangely enough, wasn’t that bad. The splattering was in one small area and, after some vacuuming, application of stain remover, some more vacuuming, and then a good sessions with the rug shampooer, you’d never know the accident had occurred.

Greeting the spouse an hour later and relaying the story was fun. He was very comforting and helped tremendously with the rug shampooer.

And as of today, you’d never know the Great Salsa Disaster ever occurred. The carpet is perfectly clean and my eyes are no longer red or swollen (although the skin on my arm that got a lot of the splatter is still a little tingly).

And I can see.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Haunted Adventures: The 2007 season

Well, after seven years, I finally got to experience something kinda spooky at the Mansion. It’s not much, but it’s a great story...

I’ve been hanging out at the Culbertson Mansion now since 2000, mostly doing Haunted House stuff, but in the more recent years I’ve been helping out with other events. I’ve come to really enjoy my time over there. I love all the people involved and I love that house.

With any old house come the obligatory ‘hauntings.’ Whether the house is really haunted or not I couldn’t say, Until last week, I was of the mind it wasn’t. I never felt any presence anywhere in that house (although the 3rd floor creeps me out - that’s only because it’s the only part that’s not restored yet). Hell, I’ve even slept in the Mansion for a few hours (in the master bedroom no less) and nothing happened.

Being a huge fan of Ghost Hunters and other paranormal shows, books and whatnot, I’ve been really hoping to see or experience something during my time roaming the enormous place. But nothing so far... until last Thursday.

Thursday nights are Work Nights for the Haunted House this year. Every Thursday after work I head across the river to New Albany, gather my little volunteer worker bees together and assign them projects, from moving props to painting, construction to set design.

Last Thursday around 4:30 I was down in the basement office, sitting with the Assistant Curator, Jamie, going over the Haunted House ‘To-Do’ list and new floorplan when...


I’ve never seen that girl move that fast. She was up in a nanosecond, running for a cabinet, flinging it open to reveal a Fire Alarm System. We both watched the monitor as the warning scrolled across:


Alarm pull? Oh, shit! Someone pulled the fire alarm! Jamie did about 90mph running up the stairs to the Formal Parlor. A couple of minutes later she came back downstairs, puzzled.

“Well, that monitor says we have an alarm that’s been pulled, but the alarm in the Formal Parlor hasn’t been touched. Nobody pulled it. And the only other people in the House right now are a tour group on the third floor... Old Corny, she’s at it again”

(Cornelia was one of two wives to live the Mansion and is reputed to be the culprit of the strange goings-on.)

Jamie continued, “That’s the third thing to happen this week. Couple days ago the bell on the Gift Shop door rang but the door never opened and there wasn’t anyone outside trying to get in. Yesterday morning we heard someone walking around upstairs and the house was empty except for us in the office.”

(Seems that when strange stuff happens at the Mansion, it all happens at once, then everything goes quiet for weeks or even months.)

Ok, so it wasn’t a GREAT ghost story, but it was pretty damn exciting when it happened... although it wasn’t nearly as thrilling as my experience with ‘Stoney,’ but that’s another story. If yall are nice, I might repost it sometime...

Monday, July 9, 2007

Random thoughts and links, part 106

I'm afraid I don't have much in the way of thoughts right now. My spare time has been balanced between devouring books and Haunted House construction (yes, I know it's only July but we've been tearing down and building up now for over a month).

But I still have some juicy tidbits of web goodness to share. Hope yall have the time, most of these are videos...

Another great time-killing game... but this one actually improves your typing skills.

Attention Clan Geek Members! I expect to see one of these on each of your respective doorsteps this October.

What do you get when you cross ICanHasCheezburger and Gorey? This.

And in case you haven't seen it already... the Most Dramatic 5 Seconds on the Internet!

What the hell... they SCREAM?!

Yeah, it'll leave a stain, but this is still damn funny.

You won't be seeing these in the U.S. anytime soon... #3 is my fav.

Ok, a little history. Way back in the day, there was a show on USA Network called Night Flight. This amazing program ran from about 10pm to about 3 or 4am, Friday and Saturday nights. They showed everything from old horror movies to music videos, short animations to film outtakes, interviews with famous people and other oddball eye candy.

I saw this film back in the mid 80s, sandwiched between a heavily edited Andy Warhol's Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula. I was blown away. I was lucky enough to capture it on VHS and since then, have shown it to dozens of people. Not having the hardware or technology to convert it to digital format, I've been waiting not-so-patiently for this to pop up on the web. Fortunately, some wonderful sould has done just that.

I now present "The Contraption." (Trivia: See if you can guess who 'the man' is.)

One final video... the spouse recently discovered iMovie and spent ALL DAY Saturday composing this little number. Be gentle, it's his first real film.

Thank you for your support.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Non-Love Bugs

*sigh* Yeah, I know... it’s been a while. Yes, I’m still alive.

Work has been sporadic. One day we’re furiously trying to get work out and another day we’re sitting around picking our nose and playing solitaire (well, for me, it’s Double or this weird little shoot’em game). But the biggest pain in the ass at work right now isn’t the inconsistent workflow. It’s the damn bugs.

Yes, we’re infested. About 3 months ago we noticed these pesty little gnats everywhere. At first we thought it was just in our pre-press department, but then everyone in our half of the building was complaining about them. We thought perhaps they were breeding on some long-forgotten unemptied trash can, feasting on someone’s month-old lunch. But after searching everywhere we came up with nothing, just a steady increase in the number of flying pests.

We have a pest-control guy come by once a month and spray, but apparently his magic bug-killing spray has no effect on fruit flies (yes, that’s what they are). We informed Mr. Pest Control Guy about our infestation and he supplied us with several prison-sized cans of super nuclear bug killing spray.

That day, after we had all had safely stored away any food, coffee, candy and plants and then left to go home, they fumigated the entire building. We all arrived the next morning, hoping to discover thousands of mini-bug carcasses all over every flat surface.

Nada. Nothing. In fact, we think this spray only acted as an aphrodisiac and spurned them on to keep breeding. How bad can this infestation be, you ask? Well, there’s four of us in our department, and each of us was averaging 7-12 kills a day (go on, do the math, I’ll wait). And we were in now way even making a dent in the growing population.

Two months ago the pest-control man returned and the whole office bitched him out again. By this time the entire business personnel had been madly smashing fruit flies. The startling sound of *THWACK!* and *THUMP!* could be heard all day long at various intervals, from one corner of the building to the other.

So this time Mr. Pest Control Guy left several strange bottle traps at various spots. These bottle traps have an inch of Tang®-looking fluid in the bottom. In theory, this sweet liquid should attract the fruit flies, whereupon they fly down into the bottle thru a tiny opening and are either too stupid to figure out how to get out or, preferably, drown in the Tang®.

Great theory. Too bad this one didn't work either. Instead, after a week, each bottle had less than 5 dead bugs but a plethora of large, furry, white spots of mold. So instead of getting rid of the bugs we're harvesting our own tainted supply of Penicillin.

Now we're down to a few weeks ago. Mr. Pest Control Man returns and we point out the Tang and Penicillin soup mixture with very few flies. The good news is the number of kills has dropped. The bad news is (besides the mold) we still have flies. This time Mr. Pest Control Guy pours some magically liquid into all of our plants (including my little bamboo plant), claiming that sometimes these fruit flies will have a colony in ordinary house plant soil. While he says this, he's eyeing my little bamboo plant with suspicion.

"Dude, this little plant doesn't even have soil. It's water and rocks, and I change the water frequently. If I don't, the plant starts to die."

I must have slipped into speaking Russian because he looked at me like I was a total retard. And he poured the magical bug-killing liquid into my bamboo plant anyway. Luckily, after 2 weeks, my plant is still alive.

Unfortunately, we still have bugs. Yes, the numbers have dropped. We're only killing about 3 a day now. But we all still look like a bunch of tweakers, waving our hands around and slapping various body parts all day.

Meth addicts ain't got nothing on us.