Friday, October 28, 2016

Article on Loren Rhoads' Blog

     Today one of my former editors, Loren Rhoads, reprinted one of my non-fiction pieces on her blog.  As you can tell from the address, it's "Exhuming Corpses For Fun and Profit," about my experiences digging up graves for my job as an archaeologist.  The address is:
      This article was originally in Loren's magazine, "Morbid Curiosity," which ran in the late 1990's and early 2000's.  Again, as you can figure out from the name, this blog is about cemeteries, so if you're into that topic, you'll find plenty of other posts to read, too.  Plus Loren also writes fiction, and her blog provides information about her books as well.
     So stop on by!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Unlikely Home Run Hitters in the World Series

     That other October tradition, Major League Baseball's World Series, is upon us, so I thought I'd discuss that a little.  And for those readers who prefer my posts about weird and repugnant foods, don't fret, next week I'll return to those.
     To baseball fans, one of the neat things about the World Series is that it's a short series (best of 7 games, and a few in the distant past that were best of 9), so sometimes odd, unpredictable events happen.  A star hurler might pitch poorly, or a terrible hitter might inexplicably do very well.  Hitting a home run is a good example of this.  No one's that surprised when Babe Ruth goes yard in a World Series game, but plenty of people are when Tito Landrum does (even, probably, Tito Landrum).  Last night, in Game 1 of the current Series between the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs, Indian catcher Roberto Perez hit two home runs, even though he only hit a total of three in the entire regular season.  I got to thinking, who were the most unlikely Series home run hitters?  Therefore, I went back through the records, and looked at every player who hit at least one.  Then I looked at their lifetime accumulation of home runs in their regular season careers.  I broke ties by going by number of at bats.  Obviously, pitchers tend to be much worse hitters than position players, so they are well represented in this category.  Since I was interested in poor position players, too, I'm including two lists--one including pitchers, and one with just position players.  I'll list the information for each players as follows:

Player name, position, team and year they hit their World Series home run(s), lifetime regular season home runs, lifetime at bats, lifetime batting average/on base percentage/slugging average, and lifetime adjusted OPS (on base percentage plus slugging average, adjusted for playing era, ballpark, etc., with 100 being average, abbreviated OPS+).  Also, note that the years from about 1900-1920 are known as the Dead Ball Era.  During this time, due to a variety of factors, home runs were hard to come by--sometimes the season leader might be less than 10.  So I'll note those players who played solely or mostly during this time, with this limiting factor, with a DB abbreviation.
    Here's the position abbreviations: P= pitcher,  1B= first baseman, 2B=second baseman, 3B= third baseman, SS= shortstop, C= catcher, OF= outfielder  PR= pinch runner  PH= pinch hitter INF= infielder
     So here's the list with pitchers included:

1) Mickey Lolich, P, Detroit Tigers, 1968.  0 home runs.  821 at bats, .110/.215/.121  OPS+ (-2)
2) Joe Blanton, P, Philadelphia Phillies, 2008. 0 home runs, 216 at bats, .106/.153/.106  OPS+ (-29)
3) Rosy Ryan, P New York Giants, 1924. 1 home run, 268 at bats, .190/.249/.231 OPS+ 28
4) Jose Santiago, P Boston Red Sox, 1967. 1 home run, 162 at bats, .173/.211/.228 OPS+ 24
5) Tom Thevenow, SS,2B,3B, St. Louis Cardinals, 1926. 2 home runs, 4164 at bats, .247/.285/.294 OPS+ 51 (Also, all 3 or his lifetime home runs were inside the park ones.)
6) Jim Bagby, P Cleveland Indiatns, 1920. 2 home runs, 660 at bats, .218/.256/.298 OPS+ 52 DB
7) Ken Holtzman, P Oakland Athletics, 1974. 2 home runs, 607 at bats, .163/.186/.208 OPS+ 8
8) Tom Lawless, 2B, 3B, PR, St.Louis Cardinals, 1987. 2 home runs, 531 at bats, .207/.263/.258 OPS+ 47
9) Jesse Haines, P, St. Louis Cardinals, 1926. 3 home runs, 1124 at bats, .186/.208/.218 OPS+ 12
10) Chick Fewster, 2B, SS, OF, New York Yankees, 1921. 6 home runs, 1963 at bats, .258/.346/.326 OPS+ 77 DB
11) Jimmy Sebring, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates, 1903. 6 home runs, 1411 at bats, .261/.308/.355 OPS+ 94 DB
12) Mudcat Grant, P, Minnesota Twins, 1965. 6 home runs, 759 at bats, .178/.216/.240 OPS+ 27
13) Charlie Culberson, INF, Los Angeles Dodgers, 2017. 6 home runs, 411 at bats, .231/.272/.324 OPS+ 57

Now here's the  list excluding full time pitchers:

1) Tom Lawless, 2 home runs, see above for other stats
2) Tom Thevenow, 2 home runs, see above
3) Chick Fewster, 6 home runs, see above
4) Jimmy Sebring, 6 home runs, see above
5) Charlie Culberson, 6 home runs, see above. (Culberson is 28 and an active players as of October 2017, so he may well hit more, assuming his career continues, obviously.)
6) Al Weis, 2B, SS,3B, New York Mets, 1969. 7 home runs, 1578 at bats, .219/.278/.275 OPS+ 59
7) Jack Bentley, P, 3B, PH, New York Giants, 1924. 7 home runs, 584 at bats, .291/.316/.406 OPS+ 90 DB
8) Marty Castillo, 3B, C, Detroit Tigers, 1984. 8 home runs, 352 at bats, .190/.231/.301 OPS+ 47
9) Bill Bathe, C, PH, San Francisco Giants, 1989. 8 home runs, 183 at bats, .213/.251/.377 OPS+ 75
10) Bucky Harris, 2B, Washington Senators, 1924. 9 home runs, 4736 at bats, .274/.352/.354 OPS+86
11) Davy Jones, OF, Detroit Tigers, 1909. 9 home runs, 3774 at bats, .270/.356/.325 OPS+ 103 DB
12) Phil Linz, 2B, SS, 3B, New York Yankees, 1964. 11 home runs, 1372 at bats, .235/.295/.311 OPS+ 72
13) Eric Bruntlett, SS, 2B, OF, Philadelphia Phillies, 2008. 11 home runs, 789 at bats, .231/.303/.330 OPS + 65
 (Update--Roberto Perez of the Cleveland Indians used to be on this list, but he hit 8 more homers in 2017, bringing his lifetime total up to 19, and presumably counting.  Joe Blanton is still active, too, but since he's now a relief pitcher, and a monumentally bad hitter, I seriously doubt he'll ever hit a regular season home run.)

     And if you're curious, Bucky Harris and pitcher Dave McNally (Baltimore Orioles, 1969 and 1970) are the players with the fewest lifetime home runs (9) to hit 2 in World Series competition, followed by Phil Linz (11).
     Finally, going the other way, here are the players with the most lifetime regular season home runs who hit 0 in the World Series.

1) Willie Mays, 660 home runs (5th on the all time list), none in Series play, 71 at bats with the New York Giants (1951, 1954), San Francisco Giants (1962), and New York Mets (1972).
2) Ken Griffey, Jr., 630 home runs, (6th all time) none in Series play, no World Series appearances.)
3) Sammy Sosa, 609 home run, (8th all time), none in Series play, no World Series appearances.
4) Rafael Palmeiro, 569 home runs (13th all time), none in Series play, no World Series appearances.
5) Frank Thomas, 521 home runs (tied for 20th all time), none in Series play, no World Series appearances.
5) Ted Williams, 521 home runs (tied for 20th all time), none in Series play, 25 at bats in 1946 World Series with the Boston Red Sox.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Halloween Haunts Schedule From October 23rd to October 29th

     Here's the upcoming week for the Halloween Haunts event on the Horror Writers Association blog.  Once again, the address is:

October 23: Cheapers, Creepers by Sumiko Saulson

October 24: Meet Joe Pipe by Pete Mesling

October 25: It Was a Different Time by JG Faherty

October 26: It's Not a Season, It's a Lifestyle by Greg Chapman

October 27: The Real Creepy, or How to Create Horror Non-Fiction Shorts by Lisa Morton

October 28: Exorcism For Fun and Profit by Loren Rhoads

October 29: Emotional Realism in Extreme Horror Fiction by Nicole Cushing

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Really Difficult, Obscure Trivia Questions About the "Halloween" Movie

     I recently rewatched John Carpenter's classic 1978 film, "Halloween," and paid close attention to some of the film's minor details.  I thought it might be fun to ask some really challenging questions about the movie for its diehard fans.  As before, feel free to post your guesses in the comments, and I'll post the answers in the same place in a few weeks.  Also, all of this trivia is taken from the film itself, and not from any of the sequels, the novelization of the movie, the comic books, etc.  (Which is incredibly detailed--I was amused to see that one of the comics included Linda's boyfriend Bob's social security number!)

1) Most of the music in the movie was original, largely composed by John Carpenter himself.  What is the one non-original, popular rock song heard in the movie?

2) Michael Myers is seen killing five living things in the movie.  But it is heavily implied that he killed two others.  Name them.

3) What two clues does Michael leave at the crime scene involving the truck about halfway between the Smith's Grove Warren County Sanitarium and Haddonfield?

4) Staying on this scene, what is the name of the garage that's printed on said truck?

5) When Michael is driving around, following Laurie and her friends during the day, what person is he mistaken for?

6) Laurie has a print of a famous painting in her room.  Name the artist.

7) During the cemetery scene, the sexton mentions another infamous murderer in the neighboring town of Russelville.  Who was it?

8) In the scene where we learn that Laurie likes Ben Tramer, Annie first offers to set Laurie up with another boy.  Who is it?

9) What are the three (fictitious) comics books that Tommy Doyle wants Laurie to read to him?

10) What brand of popcorn is seen being eaten?

11) Staying on brands, what (real) brand of beer do Lynda and Bob drink?

12) What's the name of the Wallace's family dog, who runs afoul of Michael?

13) What's the name of the tavern/nightclub printed on the matchbook that Nurse Chambers has in the Sanitarium scene?

14) According to Dr. Wynn, about how many miles is it from Smith's Grove Sanitarium to Haddonfield?

15) What two movies are seen being shown on "Dr. Dementia's" special Halloween night show?

16) What is the name of Annie's boyfriend?  (He isn't shown, but we do hear him on the phone.)

17) What are the names of the three bullies who torment Tommy Doyle?  (Dr. Loomis yells at one of them when they're approaching the old Myers house.)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Halloween Haunts Schedule for 10/16 through 10/22

     For the past couple of weeks, I've been talking about the Horror Writers Association's Horror Haunts blog event, which runs all of October.  Here's the next week's schedule.

October 16:  Your Story Idea is Stupid by David B. Riley

October 17: The Power of a Mask by George Wilhite

October 18: How to Plan a Hallowedding by Joanna Parypinski

October 19: Hallowe'en in a Suburb and in a Library by Kevin Whitmore, Jr.

October 20: The Killer Pumpkins by Naching Nehis Kasa

October 20: The Last Haunted House/Remember by Kristina Stancil

October 21: Halloween: A Becoming by Lou Rera

October 22: Mr. Moose by Walter Jarvis

     My post about Halloween costumes is featured on it today.  And the address once more is:

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Writing Updates and Some Horror Trivia

     Just recently heard from the publishers of two horror anthologies that will include my stories.  First off, the editor from Grinning Skull Press informed me that "Cranial Leakage Volume 2" is due out very soon.  Secondly, I finished the edits for my contribution to EMP Publishing's "The Prison Compendium."  That one has a release date of December 13th of this year. I'll include more information about both as soon as I get it.

     Once again, in memory of the Coffin Hop blog hop that ran during late October from 2012-14, I'd like to throw out more horror trivia questions, mostly about movies.  Feel free to put your guesses in the Comments section.  I'll check back in a few weeks and put the answers in the Comments section as well.

1) The famous Broadway musical "Brigadoon" was the (loose) basis for what (in)famous splatter movie?

2) Lucio Fulci's classic film "The Beyond" (aka as "The 7 Doors of Death") features what forbidden book of the so-called "Cthulhu Mythos"?

3) What controversial 1980's horror film is credited with being the first "found footage" movie?

4) Before he played the teenaged/young adult Anakin Skywalker in two of the "Star Wars" prequels, Hayden Christensen made his debut in a 90's horror movie made by a famous director.  Name it.

5) What real life town, stricken and basically destroyed by a human-made accident, was the inspiration for the town in the "Silent Hill" movie?  (Not for the original video game.)

6) The underrated 1987 movie "The Stepfather" is loosely based on what real life multiple murderer?

7) The Australian movie "Wolf Creek" (2006) (and its sequel) was inspired by what two, separate real life convicted killers?

8) H.P. Lovecraft ghostwrote an Egyptian-themed horror tale for a famous American entertainer in the 1920's.  Name them.

9) What "Game of Thrones" co-star had a major role in the 2002 werewolf movie "Dog Soldiers"?

10) The events in the original, 1973 version of "The Wicker Man" take place on what (fictitious) Hebrides Island, off the coast of Scotland?   (For people who only know of the terrible 2006 remake of this movie, perhaps from the "Nicolas Cage being menaced by BEES!" internet meme, the original film is actually very good, and quite interesting.  You might want to check it out.)

     Also, just as a reminder, the Horror Writers Association's Horror Haunts blog event is still going on.  The address is:   My article on Halloween costumes will be featured on Saturday, Oct. 15th.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Further Information about Halloween Haunts 2016

     As I've been mentioning for the past couple of weeks, the Halloween Haunts event is currently going on at the HWA's (Horror Writers Association) blog.  Here is the next week's schedule in advance.  As you'll notice, some days have 2 posts.  And that address again is:

October 8: A Dia de Muertos Primer by Vanta M. Black

October 9: Be a Better Writer with "Jaws" by Tom Leveen

October 10: Edinburgh Terror by Denise A. Agnew

October 11: Honoring the Dead by Heddy Johanneson

October 12: Never a Night Off by Lincoln Cole

October 13: Masks by Micky Neilson

October 13: Tricks, Treats, and Terrors by Christopher Clark

October 14: Nightmare on My Street by Ed Cardillo

October 15: Halloween Costumes by Paul Stansfield

  Also, forget to include this before, but obviously if you're considering joining the HWA, you can find the most information about it on the HWA website.  That address is:

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--German and Pennsylvania German Breads/Dessert

     Recently I was working in the Southeast Pennsylvania area, which is home to a significant population of Amish and Mennonites.  They are often referred to as the "Pennsylvania Dutch," which is a confusing term:  Their heritage is actually German, not Dutch.  "Dutch" in this case is a corruption of "Deutsch," which means "German" in their language.  The foods I picked up were two breads and a dessert--muesli bread, sunflower seed bread, and shoo-fly pie.  One of the breads was from a NJ Wegman's, one from a PA one, and the dessert came from a PA Weis supermarket.
     As you can see from my photos on this blog, I have quite pronounced "mutton chop" sideburns.  Because of this, friends have frequently joked that I look Amish.  Back during the times when we archaeologists worked with school children for the day as part of a public outreach, I was asked if I was Amish several times.  (The children's other most frequent question was mercenary and practical--wondering what our salaries were.)  During previous projects on Amish and Mennonite farms, my coworkers and I noticed something funny.  When the farmer, or other family members approached us, they always seemed to talk to me first.  Did they think I was a recent runaway from their group?  (It could have been a coincidence, of course.)  I also recall a female boss remarking that she was impressed by her dealings with the male Mennonite farmers.  She said they were unfailingly polite, and paid close attention to her while she was speaking, but not in a creepy way.
     Both breads were from Mestemacher.  As you can probably tell from the name, it's a German company.  The sunflower seed bread, aside from its title ingredient, contained organic whole kernel rye, whole rye flour, sea salt, and yeast.  It was a thick, dense bread, with a dark brown color.  It looked a lot like pumpernickel bread.  Its size was slightly unusual--the slices were long, about 6 inches (15 cm.), but rather thin, about 3-4 inches (7-10 cm.) wide.  I had some plain, some with butter, and some as a cheese sandwich.  It was good--dense and grainy.  Way more flavorful than a boring slice of white bread.
     The origin of the main ingredient in the other bread, muesli, is well known.  Muesli was invented by a Swiss doctor, Maxmilian Bircher-Benner, in 1900.  He was looking for a healthier food to serve to the patients at his hospital.  He claimed to have been inspired by a dish served in the Swiss Alps.  Muesli, which means "mashup" or "puree" in German, can be made in different ways.  But it consists of a rolled grain (usually oats, corn flakes, wheat flour, or rye flour) mixed with dried fruit (apples, berries, grapes, and banana being typical) along with nuts and seeds.  My example was made from whole meal rye, whole rye flour, sultanas, flax seed, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, oat flakes, raw cane sugar, salt, sesame, and yeast.  Like the sunflower seed bread, it was dense, dark brown, and reminiscent of pumpernickel bread.  As before I tried it as a cheese sandwich, with butter, and plain.  My opinion was also pretty much the same.  Tasty, and interesting.  You could pick out the occasional bit of nut or other large ingredient pieces.  I liked the sunflower bread a little bit more, but the muesli kind was also respectable and good.
     I'd actually had shoo-fly pie as a child, so this recent time was a reminder.  The name is just as you'd probably think--shoo-fly pie's major ingredient is molasses, necessitating the need for the maker to discourage the flying pests that the sweetness will attract.  It comes in both a dry and wet bottom variety.  This most recent time I had the wet.  Aside from the molasses the pie contains flour, sugar, vegetable shortening, leavening, and possibly milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts (I  think the last part of this list is for legal reasons, for people with severe allergies).  Shoo-fly pie is very good.  The store-bought kind was good, but, not shockingly, I've found home-made to be superior.  If you like pies and sweet flavors, you'll probably enjoy this.  It's probably not very healthy to eat frequently, but it has a pleasing taste.  "Diabetes in a pie shell," I guess.  Given their love of overly-sweetened things like Sweet Tea, I'm a little surprised that shoo-fly pie isn't consumed more in the American South.
     Finally, getting back to the Pennsylvania "Dutch," I thought the movie, "The Devil's Playground" (2002) was a worthwhile documentary.  It's about rumspringa, the period during the late teen years when Amish and Mennonite kids go out and experience the world outside their communities, before deciding whether to stay with their community, or leave forever.  You see these kids having wild drinking parties, doing drugs, and in general going crazy, sometimes while still wearing their traditional garb.  It was very illuminating.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Halloween Haunts 2016

     A few days ago I talked a little about Halloween Haunts, the blog event that the Horror Writers Association is putting on this October.  Since I've learned more about it.  Every day in October will see a new Halloween/horror themed post by an HWA member.  Most of these will also include an excerpt from one of that author's books or stories.  Many of these daily posts will further include a contest to win a free copy of the author's work.  Finally, at the conclusion of the Haunt one lucky winner will take away a free Kindle Fire HD 6 from the HWA.  Directions on how to enter these contests will be in the posts.  Below I'll list the first eight posts and their authors.

October 1:  Four-Color Frights by James Chambers

October 2: Satansville--Collecting Ghost Stories by T Fox Dunham

October 3: Dirty Ghosts by David Ghilardi

October 4: Do People Still Bob for Apples? by Peter Sutton

October 5: A Scream on Burke's Circle by Marlena Frank

October 6: Hanging on to Halloween by Chad Lutzke

October 7: Staying at the Monster House by John Palisano

October 8: A Guide to Finding Horror in Star Trek by Kevin David Anderson

     I'll update this list weekly.  My contribution, "Halloween Costumes," will be posted on October 15th.  The address for Halloween Haunts is: