Archive for July, 2011

"Sloth," a character in "The Goonies"

O’DONNELL: Childhood Fears Revisited

"Sloth," a character in "The Goonies"

As a young boy one of my favorite movies was “The Goonies.”  There was only one aspect of this film I hated. This part gave me nightmares. The aspect of “The Goonies” I despised was the character of Sloth.

This freakishly deformed creature was another addition to my collection of childhood fears. It’s bizarre that later in life I would come to love horror movies and be the writer of a blog centering around the paranormal.

An illustration of the Krampus

Every Christmas, my family would receive mail order books describing customs from around the world. It was the installment about Holland that first introduced me to Krampus. According to Krampus.com, the horned demon acts as St. Nicholas’ sidekick. While St. Nick would reward the good boys and girls with treats and toys, Krampus would haul off the bad ones in his sack back to his mountain top lair. My fear increased after my older brother left me a bedside note from Krampus warning me I was about to meet the fate of being hauled away.

My brother continued his mission of terror on my psyche. One vacation, he warned me of sharp toothed hillbillies. These men were not the friendly “Larry the Cable Guy” types. The hillbillies were blood thirsty cannibals. To this day I cannot watch “The Beverly Hillbillies” without having a severe panic attack.

There is an individual who has frightened small children for countless years, Santa Claus. Weeping tots are forced onto the lap of this red suited maniac. All of this doesn’t begin to touch on his mischievous doings. Every year, he breaks into homes to steal cookies and milk. Parents allow this theft probably out of their own fears. Until someone stops this Santa Claus, his swindling with continue on.

O'Donnell

Claustrophobia is something that runs in my family. Beware if you get all of us in an elevator because there will be trouble. This fear steaming from my childhood has contributed to my fear of coffins. Of course there is the whole morbid reminder of death, but in this case, my fear is something deeper. The thought of being trapped in a cramped space for all eternity is almost too much to handle.

Another fear from my childhood is basements. To me, those places are just little harbors of evil and darkness. Besides holding piles of old junk like old wrestling action figures basements are nothing but dark corners and full of strange noises. As a kid, I would avoid venturing down to the basement at all costs.

A classic childhood fear is worrying about monsters dwelling under the bed or hiding in the closet. The culprit of these fears are generally blamed on a monster known as “The Boogeyman.” This fear at least has a common line of defense. When these fears strike, simply yank the blankets over your head. Some how this method transforms cloth sheets into shelters made out of kevlar.

"Billy Goats Gruff" Illustration

Finally, the last of my childhood fears comes from an old fairy tale. When I was young, reading “The Billy Goats Gruff” was like watching one of the “Saw” movies. The troll’s quest to stop the goats from crossing the bridge left me in horror. When I think back, I imagined the growling voice of the troll sounded something like Micky Rourke after smoking a pack of cigarettes.

To some, my childhood fears may seem foolish. Before you start passing judgments, I ask you to think back to the fears you had as a kid. It could have been clowns, monkeys or old photographs of Abraham Lincoln.

Jordan O’Donnell

O'Donnell

O’DONNELL: There is more to fear in Ireland than leprechauns

Ireland is a gorgeous land of green rolling hills.  I’ve never been there, but I’ve been told from those who have that it’s a must-see location.  I also have been told the Irish people are fun loving and welcome visitors with open arms.  It’s almost a tourist attraction in itself to mingle with the locals. One group of ladies, however, should be avoided.  The howling banshees only spell trouble to those who encounter them.

O'Donnell

According to folklore, the banshees are sinister, ugly spirits who visit homes bringing the news of impending doom.  The Oxford Celtic Dictionary describes them as “gruesome hags” bringing death to Irish families.  The dictionary also goes into describing their red eyes caused by constant screaming and crying.  Their blood curdling scream is also detailed.  Commentators are cited as comparing the wails to that of a “dog baying at the moon.”

Banshees are not spirits that will invade your home to cause any direct harm. Underworld.com says Banshees will just stare through your windows for hours and sometimes day.

Having a banshee haunting is not only unnerving but makes it very uncomfortable to change clothes.  No one wants to change in front of a screaming apparition.

What exactly is a banshee?  Underworlds.com wonders that they may be devils in constant agony, mourning the souls that have left them behind to go onto heaven.  This theory almost makes me have sympathy for the banshees.  Perhaps they are not demons but lonely souls with an excessive desire for accompaniment.

Though banshees have their roots in Ireland, the United States is not safe either.  Underworld.com reminds residents in all countries that the banshees are believed to follow the Irish who immigrate to other nations. Next time you look out your window, don’t immediately call the police.  It might not be Lindsey Lohan trying to break into your liquor cabinet.

One would think the Irish have suffered enough from the hardships of the potato famine.  The banshee proves the people of the Emerald Isle have something new to worry about.  Before making any plans tomorrow, take a look out the window and make sure no banshees are lurking about. If one of the screaming hags is occupying your yard, you may want to go ahead and cancel any lunch plan you have for the next day.

Jordan O’Donnell

Joy Wellman

GREENWELL: Remembering Joy Wellman

Joy Wellman

Most of you know what we cover here on the Searchlights blog. If you don’t, refer to the tag line: “Shining a bright light on what to do after dark.”

Greenwell

We talk about going out, eating, drinking (sometimes a little too much), and entertainment. One of the places I always frequent in Quincy for a great time is Spring Street Bar, and there’s a single reason why I end up there 9 out of 10 times: to bogard the jukebox and see my friend, Joy Wellman.

Joy was a bartender at Spring Street. She also was a brilliant dancer; a Chicago Cubs enthusiast; a beauty pageant winner; a student teacher; an avid Beatles, Wilco and Radiohead fan; my best friend’s aunt (he always refers to her as his sister); and my close friend. Sadly, Joy’s life ended suddenly last week due to a tragic accident.

I was lucky enough to meet Joy early in my life through my best friend, Jordan Sparrow. Aside from hanging out, Jordan and I have worked together on many collaborations of music and art, and Joy, along with the whole Wellman-Sparrow family, has always been in the background with warmth, constructive criticism and support.

As a testament to Joy’s character, I knew that she was more than “my friend’s aunt” from the moment we met. In fact, I never refer to her in that way. When I introduced her as “Aunt Joy,” I did so because the term “aunt” was ironic. Regardless of her familial title, Joy was so full of vibrancy and youth that I always consider her my peer. We drank together, we went to concerts together, and we enjoyed each other’s company every time we were together. The word friend, to me, is really just a term used to describe the combination of loyalty to and comfort level one has with another person. I had the utmost respect for Joy. I would do anything for her, and I know this sentiment was reciprocated. I could say anything around her. I can’t define the word friend any better than the relationship I had with Joy.

Music has always been a very large part my life, whether it was listening to it or creating it, and I’ve always been very critical of the music I listen to. It’s hard to find others with that same level of appreciation. One thing (among several) I loved about Joy was her appreciation for good music. Joy’s incredible taste defined her. She used to say, “if a girl doesn’t like the Beatles, you can’t trust her.” I find this to be true. Some of my best memories of Joy are accompanied by songs. She used to call us up and ask us to come to Spring Street while she was working because she wanted us to take over the jukebox. She would light up with the start of each new song we played. I loved watching all the people that came to Spring Street just to see her. She had a smile that made you feel as though she had been waiting for you to enter the room the entire night, whether you went to her house to listen to records or you walked into Spring Street on a packed Friday or Saturday evening.

I’m also attracted to people who are intellectually stimulating. At Joy’s funeral, her nephew, Jordan’s brother, Sam Sparrow, said it best: “You could never have an argument with Joy, only a conversation.”

Joy, left, with the Sparrow Family

Joy had the most open of minds. She was well read and worldly. We used to sit out and smoke cigarettes and talk for hours about anything. You were in a safe intellectual space with Joy, and, more often than not, her perspective gave each exchange a layer of depth. I’ve talked to her about everything from the loss of my grandfather to the fact that Nickleback may in fact be the single driving force of the radio rock apocalypse. Whether Joy agreed with you or not, she was happy to sit down and talk, and, if you both walked away with a better understanding of anything (which you often did), well, that was just one of the perks.

I’ve spent the last week with Joy’s family and friends. I’ve seen firsthand all the lives she’s touched. This week, I found out that Heinze Dance Academy, where she used to dance, created an award back when she attended called “The Joy Award” to honor a student of outstanding talent, grace and dedication. This award is given to a student every year. I didn’t know this until now because Joy was  modest. She would not boast about her accomplishments. Instead, she would intently listen and honor the accomplishments of the people around her.

I miss Joy. I know she appreciated honesty, so I admit that I’m sad, confused and frustrated, as are many people, but I also know that she would never want me to feel this way, especially for her.  She had an infectious and consistently heartening disposition. Jordan told me Joy really liked a song by Wilco called “How to Fight Loneliness.” According to Wilco, you just “smile all the time.”

That’s what I intend to try to do, and I hope you do too. Jordan told me that’s what Joy would really want most of all.

Eric Greenwell

Dreasler

DREASLER: Not So Undecided About The Undecided

The Undecided

Once again, I made the trek down to Hannibal this weekend. I’m not going to lie, I spent most of my weekend in Hannibal. From Thursday night’s Media match volleyball tournament, to the fireworks on the 4th, and the bands playing live in Tanyard Gardens.

Dreasler

I covered the event Saturday night at National Tom Sawyer Days in Tanyard Gardens, where The Undecided was playing. My experience with the show was interesting, to say the least. As I was walking in to the venue, I told security who I was, and they had no idea who I was, and told me that “The Local Q” was down further that way (as she points to the mud volleyball tournament), I kindly explained to her that I was with the media and would be covering the band that night. I didn’t have my press pass with me to show her, as I forgot it in my car, and that I needed to get in ASAP. Looking at me with definite doubt in her eyes, she let me in.

I mingled my way through the crowd that had not yet congregated yet and made my way behind stage to ask the stage manager where I could find the lead singer of The Undecided. He pointed across the way, and that’s when I courageously broke into the middle of men talk and begged for an interview. Luckily, I didn’t actually have to beg, the lead singer, Don Sandidge, was extremely nice. He is one of the very few artists who actually take the time to ask me where I am with my life, how I got this gig, and things of that nature. I was quite impressed with him. He was very down to earth, and by no means did he seem to be stuck on his own ego.

My interview with Don was over, and we just mingled for a little bit, me asking questions about previous tours they have done, and learning that this band has actually opened for Poison! I was impressed. They actually had a new CD they were releasing that night, and Don was kind enough to give me a copy. To be honest, I normally wouldn’t have opened the CD right away and listened to it. Knowing me, it would get shoved in the trunk of my car, and misplaced somewhere throughout my room, or lost on my many trips I make between Quincy and Atlanta. However, I did put this CD in, and listened to it. I was actually quite surprised at what I heard. Not only were there the very hard rock songs, but also some slow ballads. This is where I truly got to hear the vocal talent that this group possesses. I would definitely recommend this band, and not only is the music good, and entertaining, but the people who put on the show are very accommodating as well. It’s always nice to get to meet the artists and see that they are people too.

Check out a brief video below of Don and some other attendee’s:

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Jenny Dreasler