Saturday, October 31, 2009

In Search of the Blair Witch: Parts 1 and 2

In October of 2007, several friends ventured into the woods of Gaithersburg, Maryland to discover for themselves the legend of the Blair Witch (or at least where they filmed the movie). This is their story...

Seneca Creek State Park, Black Hills Forest, Black Rock Mill, and "Coffin Rock"

1) This phase of the experience took two weeks to unravel. In week one we paid an unecessary $3 to drive around family park grounds. Finding a trail and Seneca (aka Tappy) Creek we thought we were in the general area of the mill. As it turns out it was the wrong mill, and instead we stumbled into hunting territory...not cool.

2) Later in the same day we discovered the Black Rock Mill and it is literally in the middle of NOWHERE, but is a great example of 19th century architecture. As it also turns out this was the insertion point for the film crew and actors.

3) I had read somewhere online that "Coffin Rock" was located .5 miles from this Mill, but we mistakenly followed the trail downstream and had to leave at sundown. We did come across these creepy rock formations though.

4) In phase two we hiked a quick ten minutes upstream and finally found the's extremely hard to miss. It is located on the right bank of the creek if you are looking upstream. Even though there were other people in the area there still is a general creepiness about the place. You are surrounded by wildlife. Animal tracks are everywhere and hawks soar and screech overhead. As the sun goes down the woods take on a life of their own.

Burkittsville, Maryland

1) Located 11 miles from Harpers Ferry West Virginia, the town of Burkittsville is surprisingly picturesque and quite beautiful in the fall.

2) The Blair Witch story may be fictional, but the town has a very bloody past. Union surgeons turned it into a field hospital after the Battle of Crampton's Gap in 1862. Both churches and an adjacent rectory tended to wounded and dying soldiers, and thousands were briefly interred in unmarked graves in the cemetary behind the church. Stories of ghostly hauntings abound.

3) There is maybe a 2 dog to 1 person ratio in the entire town. It is very erie to walk along a street seemingly devoid of humans with a cacophany of dogs barking up and down the block.

For a more detailed account in pictures follow my photostream:

The Blair Witch: Part 1

The Blair Witch: Part 2

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fizzy Friday: Halloween Edition

The howly season is finally upon us. In honor of the weekend's festivities I have assembled here a few scary scenes from some real retro classics.

If you are looking for a "best of" or a "top whatever" list you will not find it here. Instead, these movie clips are responsible for unleashing a special kind of hell onto my poor over-imaginative young brain.

In no way have I captured all of the most terrifying moments in my movie-going history. That is why a Part 2 may become inevitable...

1) Pet Sematary

2) Poltergeist 2

3) The Shining

4) IT

5) Rosemary's Baby

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

He Smelled of Danger

I'm totally infatuated with the new Old Spice marketing campaign. The fine folk at the Wieden & Kennedy ad agency have re-worked a very stale 80+ year old P&G brand, and have added large helpings of quirkiness and "manly" humor to sell a range of product. Experience Old Spice.

The floor display at my local convenience store sucked me right in the other day, and I found myself purchasing a bottle of the Old Spice Classic body wash. As it turns out it really is quite good, and the price is a steal at just $2.50 per bottle.

Plus, it is difficult to counter the label's clever mantra:

If your grandfather hadn't worn it, you wouldn't exist.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fizzy Friday

Henry Gordoff (Paul Newman) flashes a couple of swell poker tricks to Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) in this video clip taken from the Acadamy Award winning movie, The Sting.

Don't get stung this weekend...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

January in November

January Jones is on the cover of the November issue of GQ. How lovely she is...

Oh, Betty!

Saarinen and Spock: A Most Logical Pairing

After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.

Finnish-born Eero Saarinen was classically trained in both sculpture and architecture. His early collaborations with fellow designer, Charles Eames, lead to his first designs of an organic armchair.

Saarinen was commissioned by the Knoll furniture company in 1956 to create a chair to match an existing dining room table. The Tulip Chair (above) was born. Often considered a classic of industrial design, the Tulip Chair won a series of prestigious awards, including the Museum of Modern Art Award in 1969.

Due to its space age appearance and modernist use of materials the Tulip Chair was also used as design inspiration for set pieces on the original Star Trek. The chair provides a most logical vantage point for Mr. Spock to pacify the oft hot-headed Captain. Don't you think?

Derringer Cycles

If you're looking for a stylish ride that has the convenience of a motorcycle and the efficiency of a bicycle than this is a wicked cool option.

Derringer Cycles are designed by world-renowned California based industrial designer, Adrian Van Anz, and are modeled after vintage boardtrack racing motorcycles; a type of motorsport popular in the early 20th Century.

The BAMF model, pictured here, will set you back a couple of grand, but its many different operational configurations provide an exciting new means of fuel-efficient transportation.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fizzy Friday

Here's a great cover from Beck of the Velvet Underground's Sunday Morning.

Enjoy the weekend.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Why do it the Hard Way? Rest Easy on a COSCO Stool!

COSCO Step Stool Project File (Week 2.1):

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue,
It was a courageous thing to do
But someone was already here.

Speaking of which, it has only been two weeks but I am convinced that my COSCO Step Stool has been around forever. This project has dragged on entirely too long now and I am quite ready for it to be finished.

I took a trip out to the local Jo-Ann Fabrics today because I knew that they carried a pretty wide selection of vinyl coverings. I was in desperate need of assistance as this was my first attempt at reupholstering furniture, and the friendly sales clerk proved to be great.

I wanted to find a fabric that would elevate this chair to a new level of cool. It definitely needed a wow factor. I found an amazing red vinyl with embedded silver flecks - a throwback to 1950's dinerware. I then took all of my purchases back home for final reassembly.

Check it out...

I sort of knew how the pieces fit back together but was unsure which glues to adhere foam and fabric to metal. I ended up purchasing this bottle of Elmer's Craft Bond, figuring it should do the job pretty well.

I laid out the original vinyl over top the foam batting and cut to size (above).

I then used the spray glue to attach the foam to the metal seat (below).

I did the same for the vinyl fabric. I should mention that layering the vinyl was a very, very tricky task. This process took about two hours and required a lot of heating and stretching to fit the corners. I eventually gave up on using the fabric glue in favor of good old fashioned duct tape.

After reassembling the seat to the stool frame I used a little Armor All to clean up the original rubber steps.

But you don't care about any of that do you? Remember the before photo?

Now, here are the amazing results:

I think I'll pour myself a nice glass of scotch and admire my swingin' new chair!

Lighten Your Work! Brighten Your Home!

COSCO Step Stool Project File (Week 2):

This was hands-down the most frustrating week for what I originally intended to be a "fun" project. I learned a few crucial new lessons:

1) Spray painting is not fun - especially on windy days.

2) It is always best to let the paint set overnight instead of rushing another coat after 10 minutes.

2) It is better to buy several different size screws on one visit to Home Depot instead of making multiple trips for multiple exchanges.

3) A hardware phantom will come to your house overnight and magically reduce the size of machine screws and lug nuts despite your precise measurements.

4) The Washington Redskins are an awful football team at this point in the season.

So, let's go paint...

I used Krylon spray paints for this project because there was a better overall color, they are cheap.

I laid down an initial primer coat (above) to prevent any future rusting and to provide a base adherent for the top coat (below).

I selected a nice gloss gray color for the top coat. In between coats of paint I lightly sanded areas of overspray using a fine grit sandpaper and steel wool. I also applied a top clear gloss coat to bring out a high luster for the metal. This turned out to be, in retrospect, not the greatest of ideas. In order to prevent the gray paint from cracking after spraying the sealant, I had to completely remove the glossy sheen first. I, of course, learned this the hard way.

While the paint was drying I worked to buff out the tarnish and rust on the chrome frame. I use a product called Brasso which has been around for 100 years (according to the bottle). I use this regularly around the home and I never cease to be amazed at the results. It also works great when applied to chrome areas on cars and motorcycles.

I discarded the original black rubber feet as you can see in the above photo. One was missing entirely anyway. I'm embarassed to admit that I traveled back and forth between two local Home Depots to find the correct size in black, but was only ever able to find what I needed (3/4) in white.

Lesson 5) It has only been two weeks and I am already annoyed with this project.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

From the Vault

The BBC world news agency has reported that they have recovered several rare movie reels from a basement storage facility in London. Two of the films were recorded by RAF field agents sometime during World War II, but were deemed classified by the military and confined to the archival research administration.

Previously thought to have been lost in a fire in 1955, the discovery came as a surprise to agency officials. Tony Meecham, Director of Historical References at BBC, has stated that "This is a truly amazing discovery. We are now working to preserve the master reels to prevent further corrosion to the film."

We are the first news outlet that has been granted permission to air the footage and we bring it to you live here today.

This first clip you will see is of a North American P-51 Mustang on startup. Believed to be filmed at Duxford Aerodrome sometime in 1944.

This next video was taken at the Audembert Luftwaffe airbase in France. This airfield near Calais was very close to the English Channel at its narrowest point, and its distance from England after takeoff is less than thirty miles. It had its heydey during the Battle of Britain, but it remained a viable German facility until after the Normandy invasion in 1944. It primarily served BF109 squadrons, but other sorties also flew out of this field from time to time. The following clip was taken in 1942, and shows an attack by RAF Spitfire fighters from the 34th detachment based at Cornwall.

Special thanks go out to our friends at the I made all of this up news agency. Any likenesses to above persons mentioned are purely coincidental, and frankly, just plain weird.

In Thanks

Many thanks to my good buddy Matt Lopez for designing the swank new Retro Pop Planet graphic that you see above.

Take a trip over to his website to see more of his work:

Here's a toast to you my friend.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Chili Master is Gone

It's a sad day for Washington. Ben Ali, founder of Ben's Chili Bowl in DC, has died.

Thank you Mr. Ali for all of us old dogs served.

The Height of Handiness...a COSCO Step Stool!

COSCO Step Stool Project File (Week 1):

Yeah, so, my COSCO step stool isn't quite as glamorous as the one in the advert above. That's to be expected after fifty-plus years of use and abuse. Despite a little tarnish and rust around the screw heads the chrome is in remarkably good shape. The vinyl seat cover itself was in fair condition, with the exception of a few paint splatters. A little too dated though. And not in a good way. So where to begin?


I first removed the flip top seat from its mountings. No problems here as the bolts and fasteners unscrewed easily.

I next ripped the old vinyl cover off of the steel seat and tore away the foam. The foam was so old it practically disintigrated into a poof of dust when you touched it. And then the real "fun" began.

Little did I know how difficult it would be to remove the steps themselves. The original machine screws had calcified at their connection points fusing them to the nuts. I employed a lot of Liquid Wrench (which I highly recommend) to break down a lot of the rust and other gunk.

It then took a lot of prying with the use of screw drivers, locking wrenches, and lug wrenches in order to pop the bolts. This particular screw is bent and shows a noticeable thread deterioration.

The stairs were then ready for masking and spray painting.

When a Step Stool is Handy...Everything Else Is!

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about my purchase of a vintage COSCO Step Stool at a local thrift shop for under ten dollars. I have seen a couple of these sell at local antique fairs for over $100, therefore my original intent was to restore and market on either eBay or Etsy for a profit.

I turned to the internet to see if I could find out anymore about this particular chair and discovered that the COSCO brand name - a blend of (CO)lumbus (S)pecialty (CO)mpany - was first put into effect in 1941. After the War they changed their manufacturing from military equipment to household goods; patenting the first full-line of metal household stools and high chairs. By 1960 they were recognized as the largest manufacturer of step stools and carts. In the late 80's the COSCO brand was acquired by Dorel Industries Inc. They are still manufactured today.

In post-war America it was common for advertising agencies to market the manufacturers' product to the stereotypical housewife. As you can see from the ad above, the model is engaged in a variety of matronly duties while wearing her high heels. What we would consider today an ordinary household item for dads and grandpas alike, was then marketed as a must-have for every fashionable lady.

It is with this same gusto that I decided it would remain my own must-have item.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Psychotic Reaction

Flipping through the XM Channels this afternoon I stopped when I heard this song by the Count Five. Curious to learn more about the band I discovered that they were a true 1960's garage punk outfit. Psychotic Reaction was their only hit to ever make the charts, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Top 100 for 1966. According to an article on

Count 5 never went on to achieve anything more than cult status, and as the sordid story goes, Byrne insisted on putting his college studies above the band. The group made a famous appearance on American Bandstand with Dick Clark but reportedly turned down a million smackeroos from the William Morris Agency to go out on tour, opting to remain in college with hopes of avoiding the draft.

Band leader John (a.k.a. Sean) Byrne granted an interview shortly before his death. It can be found here.

The Count Five holds alt-cult status with many artists of their generation. Indeed, modern bands like the Arctic Monkeys and the Strokes bear a striking resemblance. Altogether, the music remains surprisingly vibrant and fresh today.

A Trip to the "Hard" Ware Store

Over the past week I have had to make several trips to my local chain hardware store to purchase a variety of items, and I have found each venture to be an annoying and bothersome mess. The sales staff tend to be rude and/or unknowledgable about the merchandise. I also find the store layout extremely difficult to navigate.

It kind of makes you long for this:

Mad, Sad, and Happy Men