The Lope: October 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween 2008

See how Ace's friends decorate for Halloween in Trick or Treat.

Be careful tonight as you go door-to-door begging for things from strangers that you'll actually put in your mouth and eat.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Highgate Remembered

This contains new photos along with some previously posted.

Right before Halloween of 2006, I was privileged to visit London's Highgate Cemetery. Highgate is...well, every old Victorian Cemetery conjured in the writer's mind or the silver screen all rolled into one.

There is much to say about this place, established in 1839. So much in fact that I've never had the time to fully wrap my mind around it and do it justice, though I have utilized a few of the hundreds of photos I shot there to illustrate specific topics.

For example, Highgate holds many examples of the Victorian fad of adopting older Celtic Crosses. Read more of this is in 2007's St Patrick's Day Megapost.

I waxed dubiously poetic about it last year in Thinning of the Veil.

My walk through Highgate got me thinking about the difference between the cross and the crucifix on Good Friday, 2007.

And there was unholiness here too - at least in the mind of Bram Stoker who quite likely based the cemetery in which Dracula character, Lucy Westenra was exhumed on Highgate. I couldn't resist treating that in my own way in 2006's Dracula's London.

Stoker may well have been influenced by the real-life nocturnal exhumation in Highgate of artist's muse Elizabeth Siddal by her widower, Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti - all to retrieve poems buried with her. Apparently, Rossetti planned to find greater immortality as a writer and thought Elizabeth's seven-year rest worth disturbing.

If you want a story of real vampires at Highgate, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed, but there is the true story of the "Highgate Vampire" a non-existent being about which the supposition of reality causes several to create quite a stir.

And here are a few new photos for this year:

Though some plots were spacious and claimed real estate even in their demise, others could not avoid the crowding of Victorian London, even in death.

Art is well represented in Highgate, and there are surprises.

For example, this is the grave marker of John Charles Gage (1910-1993).

Ace contemplates mortality and the phonetic qualities of someone whose name included "Skelton" and "Hare."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Putting Greens of the Damned

On the menu of cultural symbolism that marks a good obstacle-enhanced miniature golf course, one can often find a few Halloweenish touches. Such is the case at Haunted Trails Miniature Golf on Route 66 in Joliet, Illinois.

This is one of the better-executed miniature golf skulls I've seen, but it's only ornamental and not an actual obstacle. There are smaller skulls down on the green to the left and right which serve that function.

Haunted trails also features a vampire which looks like the the love child of Dracula and Eddie Munster.

Putting on to Independence, Kansas, the city-owned mini-golf course in Riverside Park boasts a jack-o-lantern. It's a great little park with a steam engine, a park train, a nickle carousel, a zoo and the fiberglass Sinclair Dinoland Corythosaurus from the 1964-65 World's Fair.

Magic Carpet Golf in Tucson, Arizona, also had a few creepy-ish holes, including this skull.

The 1970-vintage course also had this scary tree, under which Ace's pals David and Leisa putt.

A spider and web added to the ambiance.

The spider hung on a motorized "web" and erratically blocked the hole.

In a salute to a Halloween favorite, the 1954 giant ant movie, Them, Ace donned an army general's uniform and attacked the course's giant ant.

That campaign did not go so well.

The real horror of Magic Carpet Golf is that it's closed for good. The course was sold in early January to an auto dealer who has exhibited patience in not tearing the obstacles down, but insists they be relocated. Preservation efforts have been supported in the community, with State Representative Steve Farley (D) speaking out for the cause.

There has been some progress in this, particularly with this large walk-up moai (Easter Island head), in which a Tucson bar, The Hut, has taken an interest.

An employee of the Hut told me tonight that the head is scheduled to be cut into five pieces and reassembled on a new base on the bar's property in time for an unveiling on New Years Eve.

As to other obstacles - like these ghosts - some may go to another Tucson roadside attraction, Valley of the Moon. Others may have to be torn down.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Haunted Route 66?

At the very least, memories of old Route 66 haunt these abandoned pillars that used to carry the Mother Road and now rise like temples of an abandoned civilization.

At the most, there are ghosts nearby in Old Union Cemetery where reports spectral lights and unexplained drops in temperature.

I saw no ghosts, but you can see more pictures of these Lincoln, Illinois attractions in 2007's Ghost Bridge.

I wonder how many other reputedly haunted sites may lie along Route 66.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Long Dark Ride of Ace Jackalope

Although we covered it during the recent Kansas State Fair, no list of spooky stuff would be complete without mention of the historic Ye Old Mill. The 1915 attraction is called a "water dark ride" in the amusement industry and there aren't many vintage ones left. Read of its history and see its inner workings explained in 2005's Ye Old Mill.

See more in 2006's Bride of Ye Old Mill

And see yet more in 2007's Twilight Zones of the State Fair, where you can also meet the creepiest automation I know to exist.

And if Autumn has left you yearning for the Mr. Dark and the October People from Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, please enjoy Comes the Storm.

Two Dollar Gas

If there's a silver lining to the current economic woes, it's the sudden drop in gasoline prices and the increased viability of road trips. This was in Joplin, Missouri, this morning (October 27, 2008).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

Who can resist the appeal of gawking at the dead? ...or the almost antiquarian lure of the freak show, especially when offered in the sanitized environment of a trendy retail area. After all, it's not our grandfather in that case, or our livestock that has two heads. And it's free.

When in Seattle just about two years ago, we visited that city's catch-all of weirdness, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, which National Geographic called "a landmark of the whole Northwest."

According to the history offered on the store's website, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop dates back to the civil war, at least in concept, when Joseph Standley of Ohio won a third grade contest for the neatest desk in class and received a book entitled Wonders of Nature which inspired him to collect artifacts of nature and American Indian culture.

It's rather hard to imagine the "neatest desk" here. By the way, Ace isn't in this post. I don't think he likes places with stuffed jackalopes.

Indeed, a reviewer at Yelp described it as "This looks like a small museum had sex with your great grandparents' attic." It makes me think of that 1980s TV show, Friday the 13th, in which a store was full of cursed items.

Back to Joseph Standley - the website goes on to explain that he later owned a grocery store in Denver, where his collection soon dominated the merchandise.

Eventually Standley moved his family to Seattle and opened the store in 1899 that would become ye Olde Curiosity Shop. The store's slogan was, and is, "Beats the Dickens", in reference to Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop.

Standley actually gained a measure of respect for his collection of Alaskan Indian and Eskimo artifacts that formed the core of an ethnological collection that won top honors at the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition in Seattle. The store still carries Northwest Indian totem poles, masks and other artwork as seen above.

Standley died in October of 1940, 78 years ago this very month. The business stayed in the family and the fourth generation now operates it. Ye Olde Curiosity Shop has moved many times but has always stayed on the waterfront.

The waterfront is appropriate for the store's "Jolly Jack", a coin-operated amusement from, according to, the 1930s.

Here's a short video of Jack working. In vintage use, the sound would have come from a record player. I don't know if that's what Ye Olde Curiosity Shop uses.

This fortune teller is another coin-op attraction. I do not think the actual mannequin is very old.

And now, for the weirder stuff. The museum boasts Siamese twin calves.

There's also a collections of shrunken human heads from Ecuador.

And this is an example of an anatomical preparation used for teaching medical students in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The store calls this preserved human head "Medical Ed."

I somehow missed the Lord's prayer engraved on a grain of rice, Ripley's (of "believe it or not") name on a single human hair and fleas wearing dresses, but I did catch this tugboat of matchsticks.

But the stars of Ye Olde Curiosity Shop are Sylvester and Sylvia the mummies.

Sylvester (not his name - neither mummy has never been identified) was found, according to the store, by two cowboys in the Gila Bend desert of Arizona back in 1895. He was naked and half-buried in the sand. The store added the loincloth.

A framed explanation in the store goes on to say that Sylvester was shown at the Alaska-Yukon Pacific Exposition in Seattle in 1909 and the Panama Pacific International Exhibition in 1915, and that the store bought him in 1955 from a Mrs. Childs, a daughter-in-law of one of the men who discovered Sylvester. He was subsequently shown at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair.

As of 2006 when I was there, the framed explanation stated that Sylvester was preserved through the natural dessication process of the desert. They need to update that.

According to a 2001 article in The Daily of The University of Washington, the university performed CT scans of both mummies in 2001 and discovered that Sylvester was at least partially embalmed and is beautifully preserved inside. His organs are shrunken but present and still in their approximate shapes.

I only got to see the outside of Sylvester.

"His brain is so very pretty," said professor Gerald Conlogue in a 2001 Seattle Times article. Conlogue, along with professor Ronald Beckett, both of Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, were travelling around the world examining mummies at the time for a National Geographic TV series "The Mummy Roadshow" which aired in the fall of 2001 and featured Sylvester and Sylvia.

The virtual autopsy also revealed that Sylvester had metal pellets in his face, neck and lungs, although the lack of corresponding skin wounds indicated the probable shotgun injury may have healed long before his death from a gunshot.

This neatly discredits 1998 accusations that Sylvester is a fake sold by "accomplished scam artist" Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith. Read about that in this Seattle Times article.

As to Sylvia, the CT scans showed her to be a more typical dessicated mummy in that her organs mostly liquefied and are little blobs now.

She weighs only 20 pounds, in contrast to Sylvester who weighs 120.

Evidence indicates she is a European female who died at about the age of 30 from tuberculosis and lost her teeth while still alive.

Sylvia was found, according to Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, in a cave in Central America and purchased in 1970 by the shop.

There may be another mummy at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. A 1999 Seattle Post Intelligencer article mentions Gloria, a mummy of a little girl which I completely missed.

I was somehow able to resist purchasing the ultimate Seattle souvenir, the Sylvester bobble-head. How I was able to do so is the real mystery.

Let's end with some music. This is a coin-operated "Artizan military band organ" outside the shop.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Un-Dead

Two years ago this very night, he stalked the streets and graveyards of London. See what happens when we can't get Bram Stoker off our minds in Dracula's London (2006).

You know what strikes me about the photo above is the person with the long hair passing just behind the Nosferatulope. I can't tell if it's a man or woman, but it looks like a gaunt henchman set to do the Count's bidding...sort of a taller Rif Raf from Rocky Horror Picture Show.

There is some actual Dracula news: a sequel is in the works after over a century.

According to, Stoker's blood descendant, a great-grandnephew named Dacre Stoker, has teamed with Dracula documentarian and historian Ian Holt to produce a sequel approved by the Stoker estate.

The book and, according to, a resultant movie, reportedly take place in 1912 when something is stalking the surviving characters from the original novel.

The authors claim they used Bram Stokers original notes, including characters that did not make it into the finished novel. The title of the new work, The Un-Dead, is taken from Stoker's original title for Dracula, which an editor changed.

This is not, however, the finishing of an abandoned work as has happened with some of the loose ends left by JRR Tolkien.

The book's release is set for October of 2009, with production of the movie beginning next summer.

Friday, October 24, 2008


What's that behind you?

Remember to mind the gap "when the wolfbane blooms and the Autumn moon is bright" in Werelopes of London.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ghosts in the Tower of London

London - Two years ago this very day.

Ace Jackalope, disguised as a Yeoman Warder (Beefeater), explored the Tower of London in search of history, mystery and Gothic horror.

There was a chill in the damp October air as rain soaked the ancient cobblestones within this compound (actually, many towers and buildings) of misery, torture and, many say...ghosts.

What's the recipe checklist for a good haunting?

You need death - preferably neither peaceful nor welcome. Lots of it increases your odds of a ghost.

Check. The glass pillow in this monument marks the spot on the tower grounds where many were beheaded. (Photo by Ace's pal, Richard)

You already know some of their names - Anne Boleyn for one. (Photo by Ace's pal, Richard)

In fact, that particular unfortunate wife of Henry VIII, beheaded in 1536, is said to haunt the Tower Green (above) where she as executed. Funny how you look at the green lawn and the horrors that occurred there seem incongruous.

The ghost of Anne Boleyn is also said to have been seen by a Captain of the Guard in the Chapel Royal (above) situated in the White Tower, a central building of the compound. An excerpt from an 1882 issue of The Psychological Review relates the story:

"Slowly down the aisle moved a stately procession of Knights and Ladies, attired in ancient costumes; and in front walked an elegant female whose face was averted from him, but whose figure greatly resembled the one he had seen in reputed portraits of Anne Boleyn. After having repeatedly paced the chapel, the entire procession together with the light disappeared."

Another account of this story is that phantom procession occurs on the anniversary of the execution of Margaret Pole the Countess of Salisbury, who refused to shuffle off this mortal coil without a fight. She was pursued around the scaffold by the axeman who swung wildly at her until she died a most gruesome death.

Anne Boleyn was also allegedly sighted in 1864 by a sentry standing at the Queen's house. He challenged a white mist-veiled shape and subsequently stabbed it with his bayonet. Of course, the bayonet went right through it. The guards story was corroborated by two witnesses who said they saw the whole thing from a window in the Bloody Tower.

Which reminds me, a good ghost story needs place names free of ambiguity. Yeah - Bloody Tower - not much room for doubt there.

To gather a few haunting stories, a stretch of time...centuries, even - is desirable. It's like casting a wide net over history.

Check. With a roman wall (2nd or 3rd century) in the foreground, a medieval wall mid-ground and modern London in the distance, you know a lot of people have died in the vicinity. Plant enough bodies and a ghost is sure to come up somewhere.

One also needs atmosphere for a good story. A castle, stone of course, with battlements is perfect.

Yes, this will do. The Tower of London is well lit at night, by the way. You can shoot exteriors after it closes. They didn't allow tripods in the tower when I was there, so I didn't bring one. I did find ample stable objects on which to set the camera for time exposures, however.

Any potentially haunted place gets bonus points for ravens.

"Our thumping hearts hold the ravens in, keep the tower from crumbling" - Kate Bush lyric from the song, Lionheart.

Indeed, there is a legend that if the ravens ever leave the tower, it will crumble. In 1660, Charles II was asked by his astronomer to have the ravens removed so as not to soil a telescope that was kept in one of the towers. The king at first was ambivalent, but upon learning of the legend, decided that at least six ravens be kept in the tower at all times. When I was there, the Yeoman Warder told me they normally have eight, and that their wings are clipped.

There's also a ghost story associated with the Traitor's Gate, the gate on the Thames River through which prisoners were brought into the tower complex. The gate is part of a building project of Henry III.

One story has it that when it was being finished in 1240, a storm undermined the foundation and the gate collapsed. When the same thing happened in 1241, an investigation revealed that a priest claimed to have seen the ghost of Sir Thomas Becket striking the walls with a crucifix. Supposedly, the ghost of Becket didn't like the new building and said it was "for the injury and prejudice of the Londoners, my brethren". Since it was the Henry III's grandfather who had ordered the death of Becket he felt wise to dedicate the building to Sir Thomas Becket.

Hauntings are still reported there. Doors open and close by themselves, a monk in a brown robe is seen, the sound of a monk's sandals is heard...that sort of thing.

There are many stories of ghosts in the Tower of London; these were just a few.

The Beefeaters don't like to hold things for photos, by the way. One told me that one of his fellow Yeomen had been a victim of a Photoshop switcheroo involving an object he would never have held. I don't know the details on that. Anyway, they're friendly and this one was happy to pose, as well as to explain that the red version of the uniform, which Ace wears (courtesy of a fittingly beheaded and eviscerated souvenir stuffed animal) is for ceremonial purposes. The dark version this Beefeater wears is the usual one.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Talking Tombstones

At, we love the dead. They're a quiet folk...usually.

The Hutchinson Theatre Guild held its second annual Talking Tombstones fundraiser earlier this month and who could resist a walk through a cemetery? We couldn't. "Talking Tombstones" involved seven actors portraying seven departed Hutchinsonians whom visitors encountered on a walking tour through Eastside Cemetery.

Oh, I must confess I played with the color saturation on the above photo, leaving only red and a little cyan.

The day was mostly overcast and moody. The veiled sun shone behind the cemetery's only large statue.

Julia Campbell

Rachel Adcock portrayed Julia Campbell, a homemaker for whose family Hutchinson's Campbell street is named. Her husband, Robert, was mayor of the town in 1891, but resigned when some of his appointments to city office were not approved. After that, he became City Attorney and eventually a judge.

Some interesting trivia Adcock gave about Hutchinson in 1891: population was 5,200; there were 10 churches, 24 telephones, 1,200 kids enrolled in elementary school, 75 in high school and The Hutchinson News had a circulation of over 1,000. Mrs. Campbell formed the first chapter of the Women’s Relief Corps in Hutchinson, an auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic, a civic organization. She died in 1931 of kidney problems.

Mary Collingwood

Shannon Knipp played Mary Collingwood, an early pioneer of Reno County.

The widow of a shoemaker, she moved with her nine children from Indiana to Kansas after her husband's death. She and five of her children filed claims in 1872 near a town she was asked to name - Pretty Prairie. They built a small frame house which became a stage and mail stop, as well as an outpost for hunters and frontiersmen.

Knipp, as Collingwood, related:

"One night, a party of buffalo hunters – some professional men – were storm bound by a bad blizzard that struck as they reached Pretty Prairie. The storm was so severe that they had to spend several days at our home. The only warm place was around the cook stove and with all the visitors, there wasn’t enough room for everyone. The buffalo hunters pooled their money and paid my two youngest children a dollar and a half a day to stay in bed so they could get close enough to the stove to stay warm! It was the first cash money they ever earned."

She spoke of how she and her family increased their land holdings and built the business that would eventually become Collingwood Grain:

"In the early years, when a homesteader had had enough and complained that he’d trade his claim for a horse to “ride out of this godforsaken country” I was there with the horse."

There is still a Collingwood grain elevator in Hutchinson, and the company once had an office (above) in the now nearly-abandoned Wiley Building.

Peter Tellin

My favorite portrayal was that of Sparky Colladay as Peter Tellin, a Swedish emigrant born in 1845 who became a Santa Fe railroad engineer and drove the first train into Hutchinson.

He was instrumental in the Santa Fe winning an 1873 government land grant of two million acres by building track four feet into Colorado a mere ten minutes before the December 31 deadline.

Colladay, as Tellin, related that sometimes grasshoppers were so thick as to slick up the track badly enough that it had to be sanded for traction. He also said that cowboys in Western Kansas would shoot the fire out of the train's lanterns so he often ran his engine in the dark.

He is credited with averted two disasters that involved failed railroad bridges, saving the lives of passengers in the process.

Being a railroad engineer once required some frontier skills. In the winter of 1874-75 Tellin's train was stranded in a blizzard for a month, east of Dodge City. He and his crew had to hunt buffalo to feed the passengers.

This Santa Fe Baldwin 2-6-2 locomotive was in use starting in 1902, ten years before Tellin's retirement in 1912. It is now preserved in Riverside Park in Independence, Kansas. Tellin died in 1941 at the age of 95. For many of the last years of his life he was considered the oldest living Santa Fe railroader.

A railroad track borders Eastside Cemetery; however, it belongs to Union Pacific.


This was not part of the tour, but the grave of Kenneth Dale Stropes Jr. is decorated for Halloween and bears a sign that reads "Ghostville." Ya gotta like that.

G.A. Vandeveer

Joe McCarville portrayed G.A. Vandeveer, a banker and lawyer who came to Kansas in 1879. He was active in promoting Hutchinson and helped plan its celebration of the United States centennial in 1876.

He died in 1908 when his car was hit by a train running on tracks owned by the Rock Island, a railroad in which he was heavily invested.

The Union Pacific track that borders the cemetery once belonged to Rock Island.

K.E. Senteney

Craig Williams played K.E. Senteney, a man who moved to Kansas in 1900 and opened a wholesale grocery business with his brother. Their warehouse at 2nd and Poplar would eventually become Senteney Lofts, one of Hutchinson's more successful adaptive re-use projects.

Williams, as Senteney, related that when he was in business, sugar cost 4 cents a pound, eggs were 14 cents a dozen and coffee sold for 15 cents a pound.

He bought out his brother's interest in 1919, and later expanded his business interests to include Commercial National Bank, Hutchinson Interurban Railway Company and First National Bank.

He died in his office in 1921. His home at 511 East Sherman (detail above) still stands.

Hamburger Gene

Steve Wilson portrayed "Hamburger Gene" McInturff, a person I wish was still around and in business.

Hamburger Gene operated a hamburger wagon on 1st and Main for 24 years, until the city chose not to renew his license, reportedly due to high demand for similar street cart licenses and the city's desire not to become cluttered with similar wagons. At the time, there were permit applications for a cold drinks stand at A & Main, a peanuts stand at 1st & Main and a shoe shine stand at 2nd & Main.

Hamburger Gene (I love typing that name) went into farm sales but still operated the wagon at the Kansas State Fair's Poplar entrance.

He was a silent partner in a photography business, McInturff Studio, with his brother, Austin. The studio once occupied the space that is now Hayden's hair salon in the Whiteside Building at 2nd and Main. The giant skylight which was intended to provide natural light, is still in place.

Cemetery Scene

While walking in a cemetery, inscriptions often jump out. "Affliction sore for years I bore. Physicians were in vain. At length God pleased to give me ease and freed me from my pain."

Alfred Ruben Scheble

Bob Colladay played Alfred Ruben Scheble, a member of the Ohio State Assembly in the 1870s who moved a number of times to improve his health and eventually landed in Kansas. He became a partner in a law firm with the previously mentioned G.A. Vandeveer.

He served as a school board member and as editor and publisher of the Hutchinson Herald from 1879 until 1882. A Democratic, he won a seat in the Kansas State House in 1882, representing Reno County. Continually plagued by ill health, he died 3 days after Christmas in 1885.

One of his sons, A.R. "Rube" Junior, opened the Richards-Scheble Candy Company with another family member. Rube died at the age of 49 when while working on a faulty freight elevator. Above is a detail from the building.

His daughter, Elma, married Charles Colladay who ran a wholesale hardware company just east of the candy company. The Colladay company is still in business. The Colladay warehouse at 2nd and Plum streets and the adjacent candy company building furnish one of Hutchinson's best railside backdrops.

We also took the Talking Tombstones tour last year. See it here.

For more of Eastside cemetery, see also Sleeping Under a Blanket.

Biographical data on the dear departed is taken from scripts and notes provided by Andrea Springer and Bob Colladay.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Front Yard of the Damned

Giant spiders (are there any other kind this time of year?), a fog-breathing dragon, Jack Skellington and the ghost of Elvis.

See the best in home-made Halloween decor in 2007's Ace Goes to Hell.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bela Lugosi's Birthday

Bela Lugosi was actually older than Count Dracula.

Born as Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó in 1882, Bela slid into a world 126 years ago today, 15 years ahead of 1897 publication of Bram Stoker's Dracula.

But it wasn't as much the book that would send the actor (by now, re-named Bela Lugosi) into a caped eternity as it was Lugosi's starring role in the 1927 American production of the stage play, Dracula, that began his association with the Count. The 1931 movie nailed shut the coffin on Bela's chances for diverse roles. So associated with Dracula was Lugosi that he was buried by his own request in the iconic black cape.

Read more about Lugosi, and Dracula's role in pop culture in Bela Lugosi's Dead, a post we first published on the anniversary of Lugosi's death, last year.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Barack Obama

Presidential Candidate Barack Obama spoke to a crowd estimated by park and campaign officials at 75,000 at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City last night, October 18, 2008. The memorial behind Obama houses the WWI Museum.

A couple hundred people were in the stands behind Obama.

The rest covered virtually the entirety of the rather vast Liberty Memorial grounds.

Obama was scheduled to speak at 6 PM; he was almost on time. For the benefit of those planing their time around future Obama speeches in this tour, I'll note that he began speaking at 6:17 and ended at 6:49 - 32 minutes.

For a transcript of his speech, see

Of course, Obama spent a good amount of the speech contrasting his ideas to those of his opponent, John McCain:

"Senator McCain wants to give the average Fortune 500 CEO a $700,000 tax cut but absolutely nothing at all to over 100 million Americans. I want to cut taxes - cut taxes - for 95 percent of all workers. And under my plan, if you make less than $250,000 a year - which includes 98 percent of small business owners - you won't see your taxes increase one single dime. Not your payroll taxes, not your income taxes, not your capital gains taxes - nothing. It's time to give the middle class a break, and that's what I'll do as President of the United States."

You may be wondering about the uniformity of the Obama Biden - Change We Need signs; they were given away at the rally. Attendees were asked beforehand via press releases not to bring their own signs.

Before the rally began, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius took a photo of the crowd with her phone.

Amid a flourish of applause, Obama left the stage. He shook hands with a few in the crowd on his way back to his bus.

Ace Jackalope was in attendance to observe the ritual of the political rally.

Ace watches Obama deliver.

I couldn't resist shooting a couple short video clips.

Obama takes the stage. There was a lot of echo from the PA system so I didn't continue the recording for long. He launched immediately into a series of thank yous.

The Senator comments on the current financial crisis, the war in Iraq and the federal budget.

Ace's "13 Days of Halloween" Begins

Welcome to Ace Jackalope's 13 Days of Halloween - a haunted baker's dozen or a fortnight-minus-one days of posts that touch on something scary or at least atmospheric of All-Hallows Eve. Some of these will be brand new posts; others will be reminders of past creepiness.

Now, the only thing wrong with Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula, was that Stoker didn't have some blogger-geek and a jackalope to illustrate it. Twice we have visited Dracula, to mine from its Stygian depths photo-inspiring quotes; this was our first attempt. Enjoy this Halloween hors d'oeuvre we called Nosferatulope back in 2005.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Vote Early

Voters in many states can vote early in the Presidential election. If you want to beat the November rush, here's more information as to how to do so in Kansas and Missouri. Here's a Wall Street Journal article on early voting in general.

I'll be curious to see what the figures on early voting among Democrats turn out to be. If it's any indication, attendance was unprecedentedly large in Joplin, Missouri, traditionally a conservative town, for the opening of the Democratic campaign headquarters.

I'll be interesting to see how early voting works out for Democrats in Kansas, too - traditionally a Republican state. It may be rather high, if the large turnout for the Reno County Democratic Caucus this Spring (above) is any indicator.

Kansas is an interesting state, politically, what with a Democratic governor who enjoys support among Republicans and doesn't mind posing with jackalopes.

Ace cannot help but notice his name is not on the ballot - an unfortunate oversight, no doubt.

However, Barack Obama is a good alternative. (photo does not show actual candidate, just an incredible cardboard simulation)

And if you must have a human candidate (opposable thumbs are good for texting), the one whose Vice President doesn't shoot animals from helicopters is preferable.

Monday, October 13, 2008

High school football in Kansas - A grain elevator at dusk dominates the sky behind a football game at Trinity High School in Hutchinson, Kansas last Thursday night.

It's interesting to think about all the clues as to the when a picture was taken. The antennae (for cell phones?) on the left end of the grain elevator would help date this one.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mark Russell at the Fox Theatre

Mark Russell, that unique political comedian (as opposed to comedic politician, of which we have plenty) appeared to a packed house at the Fox Theatre in Hutchinson, Kansas, last night.

Photos were not allowed during the performance, but this pre-show view features his iconic piano.

His PBS specials are among the earliest memories I have of politics. Senate conferences...those rituals are opaque to the pre-political mind of a child, but toss in a guy at a piano making fun of it all, and we begin to get it.

Mr. Russell was kind enough to say hello to a few fans after the show. On the right is Ace's good pal, local Internet pundit Patsy Terrell.

Russell was amused at my request for a photo with Ace Jackalope. At least I think that's amusement.

I informed him that Ace is running for President but he did not immediately voice his support. I should probably have pointed out that Ace never wears pants, and thus would provide ample comedic fodder during his administration.

Ace would like to acknowledge the help of Mary Hemmings of the Fox Theatre. And a "thanks" goes out to his pal, Sharon, also.

We'll have some more Fox photos coming soon; but in the meantime, feast your eyes on this bit of Art Deco grandeur. Yeah. Go there.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Along Kansas highway 50 between Newton and Hutchinson, Kansas, October 6, 2008.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Last Warm Days

These last days of warm weather are fleeting, so I've been outside when I can be. These photos are from a walk at Sand Hills State Park north of Hutchinson, Kansas, a couple weeks ago.

This Virginia Creeper was one of the few touches of bright red.

These dry, rust-colored berries offered a more subdued hue.

Hedge apples are said to have the property of repelling crickets. I know of folks who've taken some home and put them in their basements.

This is a top view of a fungus on the side of a tree.

One of Kansas' larger cicadas (Tibicen dealbatus) trills from the top of a small tree. He wasn't alone that warm September 24. Today (October 7) is the first day I've heard no cicadas sing in Hutchinson.

While the cicadas will keel over, this lizard has a future. I don't know lizards as well as I know turtles or cicadas, but...

I think,
I think,
I think this is a skink

That was my little salute to Theodor Seuss Geisel - Dr. Seuss - who died on a different September 24 back in 1991.

I saw many of those lizards scurrying about on the warm concrete parts of the trail, grabbing a few last meals before hibernation.

Speaking of meals, it looks like this smaller cicada (Tibicen auriferus), may have just escaped being one. It took some wing damage, though. Not good.

I'll have a whole post on cicadas, soon. It's taking a lot of research and email to correctly categorize and understand all that I've shot, but it's a delight...continuing education through blogging, you know. I recommend it.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Charles Phoenix to Appear in Kansas City

Charles Phoenix, "histo-tainer", will appear in Kansas City Saturday night at the Airline History Museum. The appearance is sponsored by KC Modern.

And what exactly does a histo-tainer do?

I've not seen his show, but as best I can tell, it's a humorously appreciative look at America's mid-century past through slides and, in the case of the KC show, an airline fashion show.

Yep, a slide show - slides that'll make you wish you had a TARDIS so you could go back in time with a digital camera. Don't be surprised if you see slides your parents threw out - you know, the ones with aunt Ethel in the glasses you'd pay top dollar for in a retro store, standing in front of that tourist trap you've only seen ruins of.

There may well be tiki involved, but there almost certainly will be googie. In fact, we know Phoenix is already in the KC area, checking out sights like the 1966 sputnik we explained in sputversary.

We've also been informed he has developed a fondness for our favorite KC area motel, the White Haven in Overland Park.

The White Haven, alas, is doomed. It was recently sold by the family that ran it for 51 years. It will be operated for about another year under new management, I am told, and then be bulldozed. Here's the White Haven sign in happier times last year, with one of their driveway ornaments in the foreground.

For more on Charles Phoenix's unique show, see this story in the Kansas City Star.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

It's Pumpkins

Welcome to October.

Years ago when I worked on a newspaper, I had an editor who would say "it's pumpkins" when he liked a photo, or conversely dis it with "it's not pumpkins." He had previously been impressed by a photo of a wilted jack-o-lantern, and it had stayed with him. For awhile he literally liked anything with a pumpkin in it, tempting the other photogs and I to plant pumpkins in pictures where they didn't belong. We didn't actually do so, but can you imagine "two killed in traffic accident, pumpkin survives?"

Eventually, "it's pumpkins" morphed into a general expression of approval among my co-workers.

I ran across these pumpkins for sale on a trailer in a yard in South Hutchinson, Kansas, today.

There was nobody around and they were using the honor system. That was kinda nice. "It's pumpkins", even.