October 28, 2010

Mystery Castle - Phoenix, AZ

On Saturday afternoon, Anna and I decided to take a break from horror movies for a couple hours and taking in some local roadside attractions. So we went to the Mystery Castle in Phoenix.

The Mystery Castle is a sad but beautiful story. Boyce Luther Gulley lived on the West Coast and always promised his little girl he would one day build her castle to live in. But when Gulley was diagnosed with tuberculosis and believed he only had a few months to live, he left his family without a word. His wife and daughter would never hear from him again until after his death. Gulley went to Arizona to spend his last few months building his daughter a dream castle. But he didn't live for a few months, he lived for years and built his daughter's dream 18-room castle of stone, adobe, automobile parts and petroglyphs held together by cement. This three-story castle, completed in 1945, is made of stone, adobe, automobile parts and petroglyphs and is held together by a cement mixture including goat's milk.

From his death bed, Gulley wrote to his daughter Mary Lou and told her about the castle. The teenage Mary Lou and her mother moved to her castle in the desert where Mary Lou still lives to this day. The castle gets its name from the "mystery" of the trap door. Gulley told his daughter not to open the trap door until 1948, three years after the house was completed. On New Year's Eve of 1948, Mary Lou and her mother opened the trap door to find a hidden room where her father had hidden gifts for her including the title to the house and gold nuggets.

The castle has 18 rooms, 13 fireplaces, a kitchen, a bar, and even a wedding chapel where wedding ceremonies used to be held! (Fun Fact: There are a collection of shoes left behind by brides in the wedding chapel for good luck). From the castle, you can see the whole cityscape of Phoenix and some beautiful landscape. It is truly a beautiful place with a beautiful story. If you are in Phoenix, be sure to pay a visit to Mary Lou Gulley's Mystery Castle.


October 26, 2010

La Fonda Del Sol - Scottsdale, AZ

If I got to choose my last meal, it would be the beef tamale with rice and beans from La Fonda Del Sol in Scottsdale, Arizona. One afternoon, Anna and I decided to look for a real Mexican restaurant to enjoy an authentic lunch. We hit the jackpot with La Fonda Del Sol.

The chunky mild salsa (with tomatoes, fresh cilantro, onion, and a little bit of lime juice) was delicious with fresh tortilla chips. We went through two orders of the salsa pretty quickly. I then had the beef tamale with red sauce and rice and beans. This tamale has eclipsed all other tamales for me. It was light and fluffy, fresh out out of the corn husk. The shredded beef was so tender it just melted in your mouth. And the red sauce had just the right amount of spice to give it a kick without burning your mouth. Anna's chicken enchilada was equally amazing so we sat silently, eating in awe of just how amazing the food was. I swear, when the waiter asked if everything was okay, we were both about to drop to our knees and praise him for bringing us these bits of heaven.

We finished up the meal with some deep friend ice cream (vanilla icing in a fried corn flake crust). It was good, but not as heart stopping amazing as the main course. Next time (and there will be a next time) I will get the sopapillas or the churro.

If you are in the Phoenix area and you like Mexican food, be sure to stop by the La Fonda Del Sol to enjoy the most amazing food you've ever had!


October 21, 2010

International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival 2010 - Tempe, AZ

It was gall break and definitely needed some time away from law school. And what better way then two days of horror movies? So I called up my best friend and traveling companion, Anna, and we booked our flights. We spent two days at the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival watching some great films and even got to meet the director of one of the films (The picture below is us with Matt Rogers, the director of Snuff). Below are the films we saw:

Horror Shorts A: This collection of short horror films included "Rise of the Appliance" (great for watching someone be attacked by grill), "Nice Guys Finish Dead" (what happens when a slasher falls in love with one of the campers), "MutantLand" (amazing animation and very creepy), "Abra Cadaver" (a failed magician tries to use women to complete his tricks, until one teaches him a lesson), "Zombie Monologues" (a new zombie critiques the zombie apocolypse to a journalist and his cameraman), "Recollection" (a man wakes up in the middle of a serial killer's spree, but doesn't know who he is), and "The Furred Man" (a man explains to police why he is wearing a furry costume and covered in blood).

El Monstro Del Mar: This was by far my favorite film of the entire festival! It is the absolute best in exploitation monster movies. Three gorgeous but deadly hired killers, Beretta, Blondie and Snowball, hole up in a small beach-side community to keep a low profile. But this town has a dark secret. The local old sea baron, Joseph, tries desperately to warn them to never go into the water. But these crazy vixens listen to no one, especially no crazy ass old fool. So the Kraken awakes! Now, along with Joseph and his beautiful grand daughter, Hannah, they must fight for their lives against this furious creature of the deep as the sea rises in a tidal wave of blood.

Snuff: A young director sets out with his friend and ex-girlfriend to make a documentary about pornography. They meet Alyssa, a young girl about to make her first porn. Despite tension and fighting among the crew, they set out to follow her into her new career as a porn star. But then Alyssa goes missing and the crew fears she may have fallen victim to a snuff film producer. Can they save her or will they die in the process? This movie was great and I also had a great time talking with Matt Rogers, the director. (Fun Fact: The "porn actresses" they interview are actually a local roller derby team.)

Ave Maria: When an aspiring filmmaker discovers his fiance is cheating on him with his best friend, he decides they have to die. To avoid being caught, he will kill other people to make it look like they were part of a fictional serial killer's spree. But even after he kills his fiance, the desire to kill remains. He embarks on making the first "crimentery" about his murders, but the police are starting to catch on. This was a good movie with an awesome twist ending, but the main character sounded like he was doing an impression of Hannibal Lecter throughout the whole movie. It was a great story with great cinematography, but the all the "Silence of the Lambs" influence took away from it.


October 19, 2010

Kansas City Zombie Walk for Hunger - Kansas City, MO

The Kansas City Zombie Walk is a biannual charity event for the Kansas City Metropolitan Community who suffer from hunger or homelessness. Local weirdos (like myself) dress up as zombies and donate canned food, clothing and other items to participate in the walk. We all gather, donate our items and then follow a rubber brain on a stick around the Plaza while shocked and amused patrons look on. It's a great time!

For those who enjoy looking like a zombie, I made myself look undead with flour paste (just flour and water) that I painted with grease paint and fake blood. That's why my face looks so...well...zombie-like? For the more adventurous, Bess has a great zombie makeup tutorial on The Unplanned Misadventures of MirMir and Bess so be sure to check it out!

Total Time Traveled: 3 hours
Total Distance Traveled: 90 miles
Soundtrack: "Sometimes I Wonder About You" Playlist

October 7, 2010

Road Trip Music - "Sometimes I Wonder About You" Playlist

It's officially October, my favorite time of year! The weather starts getting cooler and crisper, the leaves start changing, and it is the one month I can dress up like a zombie and nobody looks at me funny. That's right. I dress up like a zombie. Next week, I'll be posting about my trips to local Zombie Walks in Lawrence and in Kansas City. And soon I'll be posting about my trip with my favorite tourist-ing partner Anna to Tempe, Arizona for the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Fest. So in preparation for a month of creepy road-trips, I thought I would share a creepy music playlist.

There is a story behind this playlist's name. If the fact I dress up like a zombie didn't clue you in, I'll say it now: I'm weird. I love horror movies, ghost stories, and all things slightly creepy. This has a tendency to disturb my family. One day, I was at my parents house, reading on the couch. My father came in and asked what I was reading. I showed him my book, "Stiff: The Fascinating Lives of Human Cadavers." My father stared at me for a moment before finally saying, "Sometimes I wonder about you." Then he walked away.

So I have made the "Sometimes I Wonder About You" Playlist, a soundtrack to all my creepy roadtrip adventures this month. It includes songs about mayhem, murder, zombies, and just plain freaky stuff. Because this is a rather...um, creepy?...playlist, I do not recommend it for anyone under the age of 18 and I definitely do not recommend it for anyone without a morbid sense of humor. That being said, enjoy!

"Sometimes I Wonder About You" Playlist
1. "Walk Like a Zombie" HorrorPops
2. "Devil with the Black Dress On" Jack Off Jill
3. "Missfit" HorrorPops
4. "Super Sadist" Jack Off Jill
5. "Highway55" HorrorPops
6. "In Old Yellowcake" Rasputina
7. "Hitchcock Starlet" HorrorPops
8. "The Curse of Millhaven" Nick Cave
9. "Rumbrave" Murder by Death
10. "Jack Killed Mom" Jenny Lewis
11. "Killbot2000" Murder by Death
12. "Psycho Therapy" The Ramones
13. "Eet The Children" Otep
14. "Prison Song" System of a Down
15. "Sacrilege" Otep
16. "I Wish You's Die" Betty Blowtorch
17. "T.R.I.C." Otep
18. "Mis Ann Thrope" My Ruin
19. "Menocide" Otep
20. "The Crimson" Atreyu
21. "That Crown Don't Make You a Prince" Murder By Death
22. "'O'Malley's Bar" Nick Cave
23. "'52 Ford" Murder By Death
24. "Holloway Jail" The Kinks
25. "Crazy People" The Wreckers
26. "Henry Lee" Nick Cave
27. "Down in the Willow Garden" Kristin Hersh
28. "Death is Not the End" Nick Cave


October 5, 2010

The Record Bar - Kansas City, MO

There are many reasons I travel - to experience new things, to see things I've never seen before - but one of the big reasons I travel is for music (if my recent trip to Bonner Springs wasn't a clue). So when I heard one of my favorite bands, Murder By Death, was playing at The Record Bar in Kansas City a few weeks ago, I dropped everything and jumped into my car.

I first heard Murder By Death when I was sixteen. They were opening for Thursday in Tulsa, Oklahoma (and by admitting I was at a Thursday show I know I am revealing my age). Their first album, "Like the Exorcist, But More Break Dancing" had just come out and their stage show was amazing. The album immediately sold out at the merch table and I was lucky enough to spend some time talking with the keyboardist. Mostly because I yelled, "Neil Simon!" when I saw him. (For those who don't know, "Murder By Death" is a play written by Neil Simon and later made into a film by Robert Moore.) He told me I was the second person to ever get the reference.

Since I was sixteen, they have released many more amazing albums (my favorites being "Who Will Survive, And What Will Be Left of Them" and "Red of Tooth and Claw"). I have remained a serious fan and was thrilled to see them live for the first time in years. I was also excited because the show was at The Record Bar, my favorite bar music venue in Kansas City. Anyone who has been to a show at a bar knows there are certain advantages and disadvantages to a smaller venue. The concert is more intimate and you can really feel yourself being part of the musical performance and the crowd, it becomes a full-sensory experience. But the downsides are always overcrowding and the typical drunk guy who wanders through the crowd spilling his twelfth beer.

But a show at The Record Bar is worth traveling for. First, it has a parking lot. While most shows at a Westport bar require driving in circles for thirty minutes looking for a street parking spot, The Record Bar is in a small shopping center so there is always somewhere to park. No long, dangerous walks back to my car!

Second, the staff is incredible. Every time I have been there for a show, the bartenders have always been kind and helpful. The night of the Murder By Death show, maybe too much. You see, I don't drink whiskey anymore. In my early twenties, I could put away Jack Daniels with the best of them. But now I'm older and wiser and my liver simply can't take it. But because most of Murder By Death's songs are about whiskey and bourbon, I decided to have one. Well, the lovely bartender declared me his "shot buddy." Next thing I know, he's pouring me shot after shot of free Jack Daniels! How do you say no to free alcohol? I couldn't and enjoyed a few, although I certainly felt them with a wicked vengance the next day.

Third, it's easy to get a cab to The Record Bar. If you are going to drink at The Record Bar (and although the drinks are always over-priced, the variety and selection of drinks makes it likely you will) then don't drive home! Throughout Kansas City, it can be impossible to get a cab, but in Westport and specifically The Record Bar, it is easy. I appreciate any place that has a parking lot where I can leave my car and get a cab home after enjoying a few adult beverages and a great concert.

The Murder By Death show was amazing and The Record Bar was a perfect venue. If you want to travel to see a musical act in Kansas City, I recommend making The Record Bar your road trip destination.

Total Time Traveled: 2 hours
Total Distance Traveled: 84 miles
Soundtrack: "Red of Tooth and Claw" Murder By Death