Monday, November 12, 2007


Hobbled back to the hotel room after disembarking from the Lyndhurst shuttle, got a drink, found some way (after a bit of searching) to recharge my camera battery without hampering anyone else's electrical needs, and sat a bit. Finished off any carrot or whatever I had; rather hungry but there was a party around the bend and who knows, maybe someone would want to go eat or something. But it looked like everyone had already gone out and done their thing, so to speak; no one else was around, the cooler was humming and full of food, so the party shopping was obviously done, etc. And I was pooped. I checked the TV as I rested. People kept saying San Antonio had been hit by flooding and a hurricane was brewing, so I kept checking the weather whenever I had the chance to see if I'd have to swim home. But I never did catch anything about south Texas. Seems like there's always a great lot of precipitation whenever I leave home. How does it know?

After determining I wasn't going to find out much at that moment, I eventually went off scouting. Looked like the hall stuff was revving up, so I went back to the room to get things to set up, and with Malia, I think, we started the Frid Market going. Once we hacked our way through the jungle to get there, that is...well, it wasn't too bad at that point, but later...throngs. See, the con was set up in a hallway in front of a ballroom. Standard enough for media cons. But after that the logic seemed to break down a bit. I'm sure there were reasons for things, but it certainly looked ill-planned and was the biggest complaint I heard for two days. The tables led up to the end of the hall, but there was nowhere to go when you got there; you had to double-back through the mobs of fans and shoppers, as the hall was kept closed for use by the celebrities and con workers to gain entry into the ballroom. Not too awful Friday, since things were still getting-going, but it was pretty bad on Saturday. That might have been acceptable except for the membership table...most cons have their tables out where they are as easily accessed as possible, so you can get your packet/tickets/badges and move on out with alacrity. In this case you'd think Registration would be the first peopled tables you'd see in the front end of the hall, or maybe they'd be a little separated out front before the dealers' area, or in the side hall, or even in reverse at the end of the hall, forcing everyone to give a passing look at the sales items. But it was kind of in the middle of things, and so people were very confused about where to line up to do what. You'd be in line thinking you were in pre-registration and find that you were in the line for a booksigning, or you'd want to buy a ticket and the person next to you thinks that's the place to get a photo of one of the ladies of Dark Shadows, etc. Anyway after I got my registration stuff I just did my best to avoid the whole thing. But I heard from everyone else about it!

So we set up at the farthest end of the hall at Frid's tables. Malia set up her video version of JF's bio on one side, we had the new "Fridiculousness" videos up in the middle, and I took the far end to sell a few leftover but relevant things, essentially serving as Frid's advertising. (Did I mention I do art? Drew up the DVD cover for JF? Guess you might need a connection or two there) I brought the Richard III painting I did of him to set up as a hook, as the natural thing for people to do in that spot was to walk up the hall and turn directly around and go back, preferably without actually going the to the full end of the hall. But the painting caught peoples' eyes and they'd turn and circle back, stare at it, mutter, ask questions, and wander back to Frid's table and start shopping. What astonished me was that people began taking pictures of it, posing with it, asking when it would be auctioned or for how much, etc. I hadn't thought of it in any serious sales terms, since I wanted to at least offer Jonathan the opportunity of seeing it first...not that I wouldn't have accepted a great offer, mind you...but the way things went (no one actually made any offer), I thought it was funny and started thinking of the painting as Surrogate Frid. (Sur Frid?)

Sales weren't bad, considering my own luck at such things these days. Not enough to run across the border with but a steady dribble. I entertained myself by finishing coloring bookmarks, which I'd give to any book-buyers. But no one bought a Dr. DNA book, or even looked remotely interested, or asked about them. I illustrated them and they contained a page with Barnabas in the background, and of course I informed anyone who'd listen...however, magnets and coloring books finally moved a bit. Selling Anything was fantastic. Tired of storing everything! LOL And I made myself be as social as I could manage, talking to anyone who looked puzzled enough (and suddenly becoming Surrogate Frid's agent). I manned the tables until it was time to close the hall down...missed JF's intro due to a time change or some miscommunication about it at the table, but I sold a few extra DVDs for him. I wasn't too worried about 'missing' stuff, since I'd already met the ladies at a previous Dark Shadows Festival or two. Marie Wallace had been very nice, Lara Parker had been ok but distracted, and Kathy Leigh Scott had been so alert to my presence that she'd signed my book with someone else's name. But I told her not to worry about it since after that I had the anecdote, heheh. I assumed I'd meet Jonathan at some point, at the party or after things or before things or at the least after the con back in Canada, so I didn't press that matter much either. I didn't want to get in the way of anyone dying to see their idols. It's a good rule. Never get in front of anyone dying, period.

At any rate, there was a lull time after packing up stuff and taking it back to the room. Got prettied up a little for the party, though that was to be a bit later, so there was some time to doodle or rest. At least no one requested help chopping edibles. Nancy was throwing this nice (private) welcome party for JF and some friends, and had been busy prepping for it and I suppose supporting JF in rehearsals or the like. She or someone did manage to let me in on what room the party would be happening. A useful plus. My sister claims I have "Ninja" powers because of my long history of being 'invisible.' An amazing capacity for being ignored or forgotten, even when in front of people or otherwise dreadfully obvious. I've had people try to walk or drive right through me...even when I'm with others they seem to make a beeline straight into me and then screech in alarm that I suddenly appeared out of the blue. People get mad at me for not telling them things like my winning stuff or being on TV or whatever, and don't believe me when I say it's because I didn't know myself--I'm literally the last to know (one art teacher was really mad about such a contest...the winning painting--for the Shriners, gee, another clown contest!--mine, was auctioned off for big bucks, for a high schooler, and was on the local could I not tell her? IT WAS NEWS TO ME!). I've been locked in a bathroom at NBC for half an hour and my friends never even noticed (crawled out under the door), not invited to oodles of events simply because someone thought they told me/sent word/notified me of a meeting change but actually forgot...I have a huge collection of self-drawn replacement con name tags because 75% of the time mine is missing/lost/forgotten, even if I'm a guest! I enter places loudly and still manage to spook people--the ultimate example of "Oh did I startle you?", even if they spoke to me and saw me...somehow, they just, forget, lock me in places, make business appointments with me and totally forget about them, even an hour ahead (and more than once! ugh). Oh folks know I exist, and I've been recognized in unbelievable ways ("yeah, I was on the same bus with you to the College Bowl field trip meet that one weekend 24 years ago, how're ya doing?") friends said, upon not batting a lash about my showing up to visit one day after years living out-of-state, that they weren't surprised because I simply never changed. Personally I beg to differ, at least these last 10 years, but I do get a kick referring to the self-portrait hidden away in a closet...;-> .

Which is all a drawn-out (heheh) way to say I'm a loner, even in a crowd. Invisibility combined with shyness and an oversized round head and you get Charlie Brown. Or Charlene Brown. Something like that. I mean, otherwise why would I be typing this to who knows whom in the wee hours? LOL

Anyway, made it to Nancy's fête. Nice little spread left still on the sideboard, people milling about, most anything to sit on taken. In fact when I came in it looked more like a banquet. I looked around, but really didn't know anyone much. I brought the painting for JF and shoved it to the side behind the window curtain, bumped into Julie again, and we looked over the munchies. I got some ginger ale or something along those lines, and stood around. Stood over there. Stood over here. Wandered across the room and stood. Very adept at standing around. I talked when I could, of course. Mark, JF's webmaster, introduced himself, catching me off guard a bit, and I met a few folks I kindasorta knew a little. Mostly I practiced different stances. I would have liked to 'party-aid' and sat and done quickie drawings for people--brought stuff with me even, my ice-breaking default system--but there seemed to be a lack of sitting spots at the time. I held the walls up here and there instead.

Jonathan made an Entrance. He was immediately joined by Lara Parker, and the room suddenly tipped the scale from party to papparazzi event, everyone whipping out cameras and running up to the actors. I figured this was understandable, but wasn't quite what I'd expected. I got my camera out, but I stayed back, holding the wall at bay; plus didn't have my flash going (seemed a bit rude) so my shots tend to be blurry here. But tweaking with an art program does help somewhat! Here's Lara and John (and someone's head).

Well, lookee there, I got one in focus. I did step forward for a couple of snaps once the big rush was already lighting up things, lol. Lara and John, not moving quite as much...posing a bit.

Eventually I got a decent shot.

Then I ran back over to the wall, lest it fall down on everyone. So the occasional peek through the lens only netted the fuzziest, or artsiest, of captures.

John isn't the only one who needs glasses...

I have no idea what happened here...except that it was very, very movement-impaired and then blurred oddly. I don't think JF will want this one. Though I do have a Halloween-0-lantern (it's a carved canteloupe...really) that looks a lot like that... This one looks like I used a telephoto lens while still standing in Texas.
Anyway, after all the initial hubbub, oddly enough, it did not settle down into party-mode, exactly anyway. More of Jonathan's Dark Shadows co-actresses came by to wish him well; here's Marie Wallace, for instance.
Jonathan thanked everyone for all the fuss...
And then was pinned to a corner, to apparently hold court with the actresses and a few stalwarts who positioned themselves near Frid, perhaps with the aid of some super-glue. The others of us who were under the ridiculous impression that a party was going on, went to the other side of the room and...hung out.
You know who you are. (and hopefully don't mind these!)
With 2/3 of the room hovering around JF, and the rest of us hanging around trying to hear each other, there was plenty of time to look about. I decided the carpeting was actually one of the most eye appealing things at hand, and the design might even make nice computer wallpaper or something. At any rate it didn't move or blur. Trendsetter that I am, I wasn't the only one photographing the rug.
Noting Nancy's body language, I gathered this all wasn't quite what she had in mind, either. And apparently had a headache. Then I noticed that something wasn't right, but didn't see it immediately. Finally it hit me--my cooler was stuffed with beer and ICE. My heart fell...electronics and water do not mix. I'd said no ice, but as I feared, my invisibility had kicked in and this was not remembered, and no one saw the DO NOT USE ICE imprinted into the cooler's lid. I realized it was an accident, but was a little confused about it since someone had to unplug and turn off the cooler in order to get it to the party room, and therefore one would Think the matter would at least occur to ask about in wonderment. But I suppose I'm a little more curious and usually more observant than the average bear, so I didn't get too upset about it occuring. I was alarmed at what it might cost to replace, but I'm employed now so that's not too awful either...what I was torn about was whether to say anything to Nancy. I didn't want to add stress to the pile, and yet there might be hope to do something if I said something Now...though I wasn't sure what. So I debated a while and finally decided I'd better let her in on it, as gingerly as possible. She was very sorry and I said I knew it was an accident, but had to say Something. I guess I'm not sure why, since dumping it now was impractical...and then I learned there was a party after this one, requiring the drinks and stuff leftover. So I just felt rather dumb and helpless.

Soon, Jonathan was worn out by the table-camp internment and started making his way out, flushing another crowd of photohounds and worshippers suddenly towards the door. Guess that was it. I surmised that I wasn't getting to show him the painting this evening, much less chat. On the other hand, I was quite full of munchies and soda and no longer starving, lol.

So I thanked Nancy for the party and apologized for raining on her parade with the cooler deal. She said she'd pay for whatever, but I was rather at odds about the whole thing. Seems I couldn't do anything now because of the other party starting, so I just ignored it; obviously they were all handling that stuff--and I went to the room...wandered back out; people were meeting up to talk and drink, and I needed to find a girl who'd bought some stuff but left it on the table. Didn't particularly need alcohol, did need to do something, draw, work puzzles, talk, something...did find the girl in question (not too hard, since she was in Goth). But as no one seemed terribly interested in me and I couldn't hear anyone over others, I just went back to the room. Nancy had me do up a few 'signs' for the sales table and a couple of pages of Jonathan's massive scrapbooks, --he was sharing the latter out on his tables for his fans to see. We had to invade her car to get the (paper) supplies (and it had started raining) but we managed and I had a little something more to occupy me than trying to find Texas weather news in New York.

It was a very good idea and effort, anyway!

Finally we all turned in to rest up for the Really big day, which already seemed just a touch forboding....Nancy had to get up early for a lot of gofering, for one thing.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rose Cottage and the Rest

After a few hours of extensive exploration out and about the estate, including checking out the stables (prizewinning restrooms, they say), the feet were starting to complain, and most of the Dark Shadows fans were lined up to catch a return bus back to the hotel. However, the shuttles seemed in even less of a rush to pick us up than they'd been to haul us out here, and the line involved a considerably lengthy wait. The ground was moist and so not exactly inviting to sit on, so there was a lot of moaning here at Collinwood. For lack of much else to do, I'd make extra forays around just in case I might have missed something.

I also took a few shots of the children's playhouse, the Rose Cottage. Very nice little spot for a tea party, indeed, though the secret grove was just as appealing in its own way. To get an interior angle, I could sit for a few minutes. ~Ah~ Others did the same, but in deference to other people trying to get personal shots with their friends and families, one couldn't really stay put too long.

Looking up at the stained glass in the front of Lyndhurst, from the Rose Cottage area ...above the porta-cochere.
Peering out between the columns from within Rose Cottage.
Another deviously framed shot of the façade from the playhouse. Picture of the left side of the building, which has a wrap-around porch.
Exhausted with aiming at rocks and vegetation, I crossed paths with Julie, who stopped to focus on something far scarier than anything else around the estate. Obviously this is not a flattering look for me, but it's too late now. At least I assume it's me. Doesn't look like my image of me at all. Came down with hypothyroidism almost a decade ago but never did anything official about it, so I put on an ungodly amount of weight in a short time, sigh. Actually I've lost a good deal but for some reason I seem to appear even bigger. Very baggy clothes are my norm, though I got that t-shirt I'm wearing back when I was pretty svelte. Maybe I'm just getting shorter. That's all I need. More horror.

Sherlock in the doorway of the porta-cochere, being a wallflower as usual.


A lazy summer's day on the porch. And no one brought lemonade?

I took a few modelling shots for fellow Texan Julie so she'd have some decent pix to play with for her projects, and of course, have a few travel momentos besides. I told her about the mysterious beaver, and just as I told her about it, he scampered across the lawn from the grove where I'd left him, to another grouping of trees closer to the stable area. That was a surprise to see Mr. Beaver in his dark suit making a run for it during the height of the day. Not to mention impressing me with his great timing. So I did have a witness...

Finally the shuttle came, and filled up. So another long wait ensued, but eventually I got a ride back to the Marriott. Noted what I could out the window back, but I was pretty worn out, throbbing tootsies, hungry & thirsty. But pleased with the outing, and curious about what would happen next.

Tromping Around the Grounds

I took the opportunity to thoroughly explore the grounds of the estate. Here's a path to nowhere, a common feature in Collinwood. I presume they had some storms, since there were fallen trees here and there. Either that or the trees were just sunbathing in the August sunshine.

This is a...verdantly...framed view of the back of Lyndhurst.

There were lots of little things to notice, along with the big mansion. Bumblebees in the thistle...

A spookier angle of the mansion.

Rear façade through the branches.

Actually I don't know if the side facing the river or the side facing the road is the "front" of the place, but as the view greeting the visitor initially faces the road, I'm calling that the front and the riverside the rear....

To one side of the house (left) there is a bronze statue. From this angle the figure seems to be reacting in terror to the place, which under the circumstances [Dark Shadows Fest trip] really amused me!

Apples of My Eye

Lyndhurst from the back Oddly enough, I don't think it ever occurred to me that Lyndhurst would be loaded with apple trees. Linden trees, yes, but not apple. Of course apples are a big staple in the area so I don't know why I'd be surprised. At any rate, they make fine photographic subjects as well as pies. And while I didn't get any pie, I did get an eyeful.

And where there were apple trees, there were geese. Honk honk chomp chomp

At the edge of the estate, alongside the Hudson River, was a railway. Haul 'em in, load 'em out!
Kingdom of the Goose Apples. Kinda gets you, right there in the throat, eh?

Bushels of apples.

The fruits of summer labor. Close up and personal, even.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Hudson River Side

I walked through the house...I think you could wrap yourself into a tape cassette tour if you wished to go about things with more information and formality, but since I had enough stuff dangling off my neck and had been through the area before, and knew a little about architecture and history and junk anyway, I just mosied about and poked my nose into this room and that, gawked at the art and the various expensive accoutrements of the time, etc. It isn't permitted to take photos inside the house, but there are a few on Lyndhurst's own website.
Eventually I wandered around to the back side of the place, the side facing the Hudson River. Here's the view from the house. I think that may be the Tappan Zee Bridge, but I'm not sure. I crossed into New York somewhere a good deal farther north.
Lots of landscaping, trees and trees...
Living ones and dead ones, vertical ones and horizontal ones.
Down the hill, there were numerous apple trees, and numerous Canadian geese happy to avail themselves of the fruit and bugs. Lovely sight, though at the same time my mind kept flashing on Christmas feast tables set with roast goose with apples shoved in their beaks, etc. Not like I've ever actually seen such things, but that's my sense of humor for you.
Back side of the castle Lyndhurst, from the goose-apple section.
A more realistic sense of the space. You do get a bit of a workout wandering around here.

Lyndhurst Up Close and Personal

It was certainly a nice morning to shoot pictures around an estate, and I got a lot of camera-playing in. Here are a set of building details...back at the front/side standard approach, complete with DS Festival attendees.

And here is the typical front angle view, well-known to those having seen the Dark Shadows movies. Though perhaps in a cheerier light.

View of the towers from the front.

Detail of the "gingerbread," the neoGothic stonework.
Directly in front of the porte-cochère.
I think I half-expect a drawbridge!
Upper right angle of the castle-like design.
Looking up at the lamp hanging within the porte-cochère.
Nifty reflections with the glasswork, too.
My own ghostly reflection in the door... Really, I was there. Admittedly I do have a knack for blending into things, no matter what whacky things I wear or do. Just another shadow...

Look up!

And finally, another shot of the tower, from right beneath. Must be quite a great view the other way ' the very least a great spot to tip over a cauldron of boiling tar on the unwelcome.
(and if that isn't funny to you, you need to acquaint yourself with Charles Addams' work...)