Monday, November 01, 2010

Halloween in Baltimore

With a trip to Washington DC under my belt, it was time to head for Baltimore, home of Edgar Allan Poe, for a trip around the crypts and a some short story readings.

On the way there, we visited the American Visionary Art Museum. Definitely worth a visit, if you're there. It mainly focuses on work by people who don't really see things the same way as other people. Some of them are religiously inspired, and some are just...different. I forget the PC term.

The temporary exhibit was on the theme, "What Makes Us Smile?" What mostly made *us* laugh were the Whoopee Cushions that went off whenever someone sat on a particular bench. Adults mostly did it by accident, being able to read the name on the cushions but failing to do so and getting embarrassed, and kids mostly did it deliberately because they love fart jokes. Apart from that, most people wandered around doing things like looking at pictures of Alfred E. Neumann or reading jokes by Jon Stewart with a scholarly air of absorption. My friend Kali was laughing at the jokes, and when I pointed out to her that no-one else was, because a MUSEUM IS SERIOUS BUSINESS GODDAMMIT it only made her laugh more.

Then we ate too much (a recurring theme on my trips with Kali Durga) and went to Westminster Hall and Burying Ground for the Annual Halloween Tour. Westminster Hall is a suitably twisted burying place for Poe. The original graveyard was in operation from 1786 (and contains a number of veterans of both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812). When a church was needed, in order to avoid disturbing the remains, the church was designed to be built on stilts. The graves are still there, complete with headstones, underneath it. Not only that, but there are above-ground crypts both underneath it and around it. (The church was completed in 1852.)

Poe is not underneath the church - he died too late for that, in 1849. His original grave was unmarked, but as interest in his stories grew, his remains were disinterred and moved to a more prominent spot, and given a large marker.

The Halloween tour included the inevitable Toccata and Fugue in D Minor on the organ (pictured above - those are the decorative fake pipes, the real pipes occupying much more space behind them), trips around the crypts (none of which were lying broken open with bones strewn around, disappointingly. I'd even have lived without seeing gnaw marks if there had been a bit of strewing), cider and popcorn, and a recitation of The Telltale Heart by a dead ringer for Tom Baker, The Doctor, both in looks and performance. Excellent portrayal of nutcasery by a fine local actor whose name I did not catch.


KaliDurga said...

The Dr. Who lookalike is Tony Tsendeas.

Mike said...

Robert Plant and his Band of Dirges have recorded for the BBC's Electric Proms season. Concert & documentary to be aired on BBC2 this Saturday, in HD on Sunday, on Freeview all next week.
Details and audio streams here and here.
If you are interested and know someone with a DVDR & Freeview in the UK... Else, I expect it'll appear as a torrent somewhere.
(I'm a luddite. I only have a VCR and analogue TV. But I can upload the two audio streams.)

Mike said...

Incidentally, that Dead Weather triple decker vinyl is turning up on eBay for a paltry fee (cough). Quite a large production run of 300. Fully-fledged vinyl runs are only 1000.


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