The Killer in the Back Seat

Via Pixabay

Via Pixabay

I have a notebook full of urban legends, myths, creepy pastas…topics that I haven’t covered on the blog before. The whole point is that if I can’t come up with something there’s this list I could just pick something.

I couldn’t figure out why I have no enthusiasm. Absolutely no interest in doing anything. Mid’s been eating pounds of drunken noodles because they’re fast, cheap, easy, he likes them, and did I mention they’re fast and easy?

Then I woke up with a full on head cold.

Here’s a post from 2011, that’s in line with October’s creepy theme.

Killer in the Back Seat

A woman in driving through back roads alone. It is an unfamiliar area and for most of the trip her car is the only one on the road. As it gets dark another car pulls up behind her.

The woman becomes uneasy as the following car begins to act erractically. As she speeds up and slows down the car does as well. The driver behind her begins to flash their high beams on and off.

Frightened she pulls into the first gas station she sees. The other car also pulls in. Scared, she begins to yell at the other driver demanding to know what they were trying to pull.

“Lady,” the other driver tells her, “didn’t you see the man with a knife in your backseat? Every time he sat up I flashed the lights.”

The killer in the backseat is one of the most iconic American urban legends. Dating back at least 50 years, it is theorized that it may be influenced in part by mistellings of actual events in New York City in the 1960s. Snopes puts the date of origin to be 1967. However, the story is marked by several features:

1. The first driver is always female.

2.  She is always alone.

3. She is always saved by a stranger who attempts to scare off the killer or lure her out of the car to safety.

It may be that this is such an enduring legend because it carries the hint of possibility. Unlike some legends, this one seems at least partially plausible which may make it slightly more frightening.

This legend in particular has been criticized for sexist and racist overtones because of the structure that is used to tell the tale. In almost every variation the same characters are used- a violent minority, and an ineffective female driver. That has not diminished the frequency of retelling however as the story has become email chain letters dozens of times. The story taps into fears of predation which makes it appealing as a legend.

The legend in Popular Culture:

Common enough to be a trope namer, the killer in the backseat legend carries enough appeal to inpsire numerous tv shows and movies. The movie Urban Legend plays up this legend as do other horror films. The trope was especially popular in the 1980s and 1990s though it still reappears on film in a full range of genres up to and including the Godfather (Tvtropes has a list of suggested scenes relying on this legend). The legend has enough plausibility and drama to be effective as a scare.


About those noodles. The recipe is here.

Operation Autumn Check In

This year was limping along…and this week happened.

Well, Sunday happened…and everything happened at once.

  1. Door Wreath
    More like a door leaf, but you get the general idea.
  2. Go to a Corn Maze
  3. Haunted History Witch Walk
  4. Go to a bonfire
  5. Bake an apple pie
  6. Bake a pumpkin pie
  7. Go to a fiber festival
  8. Read M.R. James
    Will read more, however
  9. Go to the Festival of Trees
  10. go apple picking
    Okay. The beginning of the ‘cross all the things off of the list’ day.
    Holly came to town from Austin, and I had a memory I shared on Facebook that said something to the effect of I want to go to a pumpkin farm. So she said that the Sunday that she was in town, we were going to go to Becker Farms-who has a pumpkin patch as well as being a working pumpkin farm.So if you were to be at Becker Farms this weekend, I was the oddly (for me, not necessarily oddly as in I think it’s weird) modestly dressed woman in the head wrap and the maxi skirt dancing around apple trees. I ended up picking a single bag of Empire apples, but I also know me and know that’s about the speed I could actually use before they turned.
  11. Go to a pumpkin farm
    See also: Becker Farmsgourds
  12. Go to a haunted house
  13. Roast a turkey
  14. Roast a ham
  15. Make apple jam
  16. Make apple sauce
  17. Hold a haunted tea
  18. Make pumpkin butter
  19. Hold a chili night
  20. Go to Buffalo Screams
  21. Go to crafting weekend
  22. Hold a Misgiving’s Day Party
  23. Hold Mabon
  24. Go to Van Horn’s halloween event
  25. Go to Iron Island
  26. Have a Starbuck’s pumpkin latte
    Two or three times over, but I’m actually more into Tim Horton’s version of pumpkin spice this year
  27. Go to Forest Lawn
  28. Go the farmer’s market halloween party
  29. Go to Oktoberfest
  30. Hold a Hammer Films marathon
  31. See what Target has out for Halloween
    This one was an accident. The night of the blood moon we went to Target for I don’t know, chocolate or something. At which point I lost my boyfriend. I didn’t think to look in the holiday stuff because he never goes into the Halloween section. It turns out that he really loves Target’s Halloween stuff this year, which may or may not make Christmas shopping easier this year.
  32. Go to a pumpkin festival
    Becker Farms, again…pumpkinsbeckerfarms
  33. Make fudge
  34. Donate to a food drive
  35. Hold a community thanksgiving
  36. Watch Thankskilling
  37. Hold/attend Samhain
  38. Have a bread baking day
  39. Make my Christmas shopping list
  40. Write my 2015 gratitude list
  41. Start my Christmas cards
  42. Decorate my plant
  43. Go to the haunted zoo
  44. Go to the park
  45. Got to Letchworth
  46. Go to the Chattaqua Institution
  47. Go to Lily Dale
  48. Go to the USS The Sullivans
    This one was an accident, or at least, not planned. But we were there. We talked about ghosts.
  49. Watch The Gravedancers
  50. Ride the haunted train
  51. Go to the Farmer’s Museum
  52. Carve a pumpkin
  53. Make leaf crafts
  54. Drink pumpkin beer 

    I can’t remember which one. But it happened.

Halloween of the Beast

Via Pixabay

Via Pixabay

I -just- came across this rumor/urban legend/Internet myth. Since it dates to last month, I suppose that’s not terribly surprising.

It’s common enough, however, to have already made it onto Snopes so I think it’s old enough for inclusion in this year’s round of seasonal Sunday Legends. As a side note though…it wasn’t until I sat down to write this entry that it hit me that I’m already writing this year’s Halloween seasonal legends. How did that happen? [I also promise to start bringing back more non-folklore material again, but I can’t promise when or how much. Just that it will eventually turn up].

So the question, as it stands in Internet-land is this: Is this year’s Halloween the 666th Halloween in history?

The short answer is no, but the ‘exact’ number this year’s Halloween is depends on a lot of factors, up to and including how we’re defining ‘Halloween’.

If we’re counting anything Samhain and Samhain-ish, we’re probably into the thousands. If we’re counting anything we -might- recognize as Halloween, Snopes places the holiday to roughly 800 AD and that’s only due to references in Church materials to holidays that could be seen as proto-modern-Halloween. An actual ‘modern’ Halloween might be placed to somewhere between the American Civil War and the Victorian Era, or slightly later (depending on what you need in terms of practice to make it Halloween). Which means that we would be somewhere in the 150s, or less.

Either way, this is not the 666th Halloween-and you would probably be safe not believing any meme that involves the number 666 as a whole.

The Fate of Elmer McCurdy

Via Pixabay

Via Pixabay

So October is here.

I let my hair down in October-this is the month where I really don’t care how dark the story is.

Originally posted in 2013.

I was reminded of this story while we were standing in at Frightworld last weekend. It’s not so much a Halloween legend-in fact, sadly, it’s not a legend at all-but still, it’s creepy enough that I’m going to call it a seasonal legend anyway.

I will say that the story has made the jump to urban legend status anyway as the story that I was told on Saturday involved New Jersey, when the details of the case place it in the Midwest and West Coast.

This is the strange, sad case of a mummy, an amusement park…and the Six Million Dollar Man.

The story goes that Elmer McCurdy was killed in Oklahoma after engaging in several thefts in 1911. Mccurdy was embalmed, and apparently the work of the local undertaker was so good that they dressed him up in his best clothes and set him up as a sort of local attraction. This went on for years with entertainment companies wanting to buy the corpse but the funeral home he was housed in refused the offers.

After several years, two men came forward who claimed the corpse as family-but in reality were intending on cashing in on the body the same way the funeral parlor had. This was the beginning of McCurdy’s second-life entertainment career, wherein he began to appear at amusement parks and as a prop in several films.

Eventually, the Six Million Dollar Man crew became interested in using the ‘prop’-which is when it was discovered that it was an actual corpse that had been shuttled around. In 1977, McCurdy made his way back home where he was finally buried-under cement.

Wicked Little Things

I am finding myself falling into a pattern of wanting to watch and rewatch movies I’ve already seen for comfort. I’ve already watched Sleepy Hollow five times since they put it on Netflix. I watched it this afternoon.

Coupled with issues with my joints making typing less than comfortable I haven’t been really been in the mood to want to sit down and blog.

But I have been spending time finding new blogs to put on the blog roll for when the weather turns (which I’m expecting it to do, like, tomorrow) and thinking a lot about folklore and the nature of modern folkloric thought versus the traditional (Holly voiced an opinion that long time readers of mine will recognize, that modern ‘followers’ of fae lore wouldn’t know what to do with a fae if it bit them, because they confuse Victoriana with faerie lore).

I put on Wicked Little Things as one of my fall back, comfort horror movies. I have seen this movie probably a dozen times since it hit cable and Netflix style viewing close to a decade ago now. On this viewing though I can tell you that I think that there is an element that I haven’t really paid attention to before-this could easily be a fairy (or faerie tale).

Karen moves her daughters Sarah and Emma into the woods on the mountain after her husband dies and leaves her the family homestead. She has no choice, the medical bills were too high for any other decision. Her new neighbors are spooked when they find out that she has moved her children into the woods and there is a continual warning to stay inside after dark. She is unsettled by her neighbors and their behavior, which begins to border on magical thinking.

Karen begins to find hints of a darker history in the community, one that’s linked to children and the mines further up the mountain. Her youngest daughter begins to talk about a child named Mary, and Sarah comes home with stories of dead children that straddle the line between zombies and ghosts. After a series of freakish nocturnal events, Karen begins to realize that her daughters have stumbled into something that she is forced to confront, violently.

Not a true faerie tale film, there is a heavy undercurrent of folkloric thought. It is not a stretch to make the band of children wandering the woods looking for the offspring of their captor the slaugh or an American Wild Hunt. The move into the cabin in the woods feels a lot like Vasilisa going deeper into the forest looking for Baba Yaga. The blood that’s used as the boundary between the living and the dead, that’s straight out of Celtic fae lore-amongst other world mythos. Is this all deliberate? Probably not, but having it on the forefront of my mind while rewatching this movie takes this film in a whole new direction on what is probably my 12th watch through since the movie came out in 2006.

Art and the Folkloric Mind

tumblr_nrajfwneSl1qkevp7o1_500I choose my Facebook cover art by what calls to me-the image has to instill some sort of intense, almost knee jerk intense, reaction.

I change the art roughly around the sabbats, though there’s no religious or spiritual angle to that. It takes me a couple of months to get tired enough of a picture to want to change it.

My current cover is the drawing above- Skull Crowned with Snakes by Henry Weston Keene. It is an illustration dating to 1930 for a novel by John Webster.

There is something about this image that makes me feel that this is the best fit for the period between Mabon and Samhain. Not for the obvious death/skull connection to the season, though it seems like everyone and their stock lists have thrown themselves into a frenzy over the sugar skull craze (a craze I’m of two minds about-I would love to find Samhain merchandise so I’m all for the extension beyond the secular Halloween, but on the other hand…I doubt Walgreens cares much for religious exposure. They do care about profit, though).

We have been watching Hell on Wheels (…and I might have already watched Depp’s Sleepy Hollow three times in the next week) and I have a weird personal theory that deliberately or not the show is telling Norse mythologies. That’s the type of mind set I’m in right now-I’m planning October’s blog theme in my head and while I want to do my normal ‘scary’ folklore I keep finding myself on what is sometimes called the Shadow path-where it’s not so much as scary as dark, and the dark is only scary because we’re trained to see it as such. The Shadow is actually a Jungian concept and its presence in our lives is actually an extension of our selves.

There’s definitely darkness to this piece, and admittedly something slightly overblown and overly ripe. But it’s also regal in a way, like if Death held Himself iron rod straight because He knows that regardless of how we play, He’s always going to win that hand. Snake is a personal symbol of mine, and Snake for me stands for awareness of self. I know I’m projecting, but art for me is about the personal as much as it is the intended symbolism. This is the Shadow for me.

I’m tempted to use the Hermit card as my blog image for next month. Let’s light these shadows, and see what the next spoke brings.


Instant Muddy Tiger Chai Powder

muddy tiger powder

A dirty chai is a chai with a shot of espresso.

A white or black tiger is a chai with white or dark chocolate added.

If you add the two together, as far as I’m concerned you get a muddy chai.

You also get a drink that rings it at over $5 at Starbucks. Choke.

This is, admittedly, the fast and dirty way of getting to the same place. You do have some leeway here though. You could brew chai normally and add chocolate and a brewed espresso shot. Use homemade powders. Use just plain baking chocolate.

I found everything to make this for the same cost of the one drink, and the powder is transportable.

Muddy Tiger Chai Powder

Espresso powder (I bought a box of 6 tubes of shots)

Chai powder (I used Oregon Chai)

2 packets hot cocoa mix

In a large bowl, mix all powders.

Store in an airtight jar.

To use-mix about 2 tablespoons powder to 8 ounces of hot water, or to taste.