Tuesday, October 29, 2013

We Interrupt The Classic Tales Blog for SCULPTURE!

As some of you may know, one of  B.J.'s many talents is scenery sculpture and scenic painting.  And Halloween is showtime!  Here are some pictures, plus a little narrative from our guide through literature about B.J.'s latest  adventure outside books!  He promises more when the park opens tonight. Hands down, my favorite is the blue gargoyle which so freaked out the patron!

Here is B.J.:

 Well, here are some photos of some of the work I'm doing right now. Apart from the Classic Tales Podcast, David Copperfield and another audiobook I've commissioned, I'm working at Evermore Theme Park. This is preliminary work for a 30 acre theme park, which will be the largest Haunt in the US. It will be in Pleasant Grove, Utah. A good friend of mine, Cory Clawson, sculpted these pieces. They are cast of fiberglass and polyurethane. I painted the gargoyles to look like blue granite. The shrouded woman has a bronze patina. The client wanted them to look really aged. I used different scenic art methods to achieve the different results. For both pieces, the approach was to first create the look of the original material, (granite or bronze) and age them back from there. As you can see, the gargoyles started white, then blue, then black. As you can imagine, when they saw me start with the baby blue, the client was really worried. But they turned out okay.

I concur!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bram Stoker's "The Squaw." - Free Release Through The Classic Tales Podcast

B.J. Harrison and The Classic Tales continue the Halloween Fright Extravaganza this week with a Bram Stoker's short story called "The Squaw."  B.J. found this story when he picked up a book of short stories on a recent trip to the Shakespearean Festival with his wife.  I wonder if they slept that night.

It is a story of a couple in the midst of their honeymoon who join forces with a colorful American cowboy in their tour of Germany. Jokes turn into accidents, and accidents engender thoughts of hate and revenge in the mind of a black cat. By the time the party tours the medieval torture chamber, tensions run very high, indeed.

You know Bram Stoker best as the author of Dracula, the vampire who wanted to move from Transylvania to England.  But if you are a fellow avid listener of The Classic Tales, you also know him as from his short tale,  Dracula's Guest. Dracula's Guest was originally slated to appear in the novel, but was cut and later released as a short story.

Here is an interesting fact.  If you want to visit Mr. Stoker's remains, you can go to Golders Green Crematorium, where you can also find Peter Sellers.  I doubt very much Mr. Sellers ever appeared in a movie based on any of Mr. Stoker's creations, although Stoker did manage the Lyceum Theater for a long time.

Also, please don't forget to check out Classic Scary Tales Vol. 1 and download it before the price goes up!

Happy Halloween from all of us at The Classic Tales!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

William Hope Hodgson's "The House Among the Laurels" - Free Release Through the Classic Tales Podcast

Friday's latest installment of Fear in The Classic Tales was William Hope Hodgson's "The House Among the Laurels."  This story is part a chapter from a larger book called Carnacki.  Carnacki is also the name of the lead character, a ghost hunter.  In this story, our hero and his aids must investigate the horrific tales surrounding an Irish mansion. Once the blood begins to drip, people begin to die...

A big shout out to listener Vincenzo Bonitatibus for suggesting the week's author to B.J. Harrison

 Hodgson was quite a character.  For a while, he owned a gym, where he trained cops.  He was also on stage with Houdini at least once, and put the cuffs on the magician.  Later Houdini claimed that Hodgson has purposely sabotaged the cuffs so they were particularly hard to open. 

Hodgson spent much of his youth at sea, first as an apprentice and later as a mate.  His time at sea not only inspired many of his stories, but was also the cause for his interest in fitness.  You see, he was heavily bullied by other seamen, so decided to buff up a bit.

I hope you are enjoying B.J. Harrison's scary tales this month!  But if you need more, please check out Classic Scary Tales, Vol. 1. and enjoy over 15 hours of your favorite frightening writers, such as H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, and Mary Shelly, all narrated by your favorite person!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

M.R. James' "Casting The Runes" Free Release Through The Classic Tales Podcast

 This week, B.J. and  The Classic Tales continue their spooky story Halloween fest with M.R. James' ghost story "Casting The Runes."

English writer M.R. James broke the mold of the Gothic ghost story by making the settings and devices much more realistic.  The stories took place in small villages, and there was often an item of ancient power (often a book) that set the story rolling.  This use of ancient objects led James' stories to be called "antiquarian ghost stories."

Montague Rhodes James was a scholar and provost of King's College in Cambridge and then of Eaton College.  His academic life revolved around the medieval era.  It was through his studies that he came to choose that time period as a setting for his stories, and how he became fascinated by evil and magical objects which he would then  feature in his ghost stories.

As I mentioned earlier, James wanted his stories to be believable. He said he wanted to "put the reader into the position of saying to himself: 'If I'm not careful, something of this kind may happen to me!'"  As far as his own doctrine, he was rather cagey, when asked if he believed in ghosts he said, "I answer that I am prepared to consider evidence and accept it if it satisfies me."  We have a saying in Spanish which loosely translates to "I don't believe in witches, but they sure do fly!"  I have a feeling James would have understood.

In keeping with the tradition of finding an interesting old movie based on our story, I give you The Curse of the Demon (or The Night of the Demon), a 1958 production that seems to have had their own demon to deal with (to show or not to show)  I haven't seen it, but it looks good.  If you have, please leave a note on in the comments!.

If this month's stories aren't enough to keep you scared properly, you might want to pick up a copy of The Classic Scary Tales!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

O. Henry's "The Furnished Room" - Free Release Through The Classic Tales Podcast

This week, B.J. and The Classic Tales Podcast continue its run of scary to terrifying stories in honor of Halloween with O. Henry's "The Furnished Room."  It is a dark story of search and suicide.

His stories are known mostly for the plot twists, which work great in horror fiction.
O. Henry was an American writer of the early 20th century.  He was also a pharmacist, a banker and an embezzler*. 

B.J. chose this story because it is generally held to be Henry's best horror tale.  About the writing and style he said: "his command of language is extensively demonstrated, generating a wonderful atmosphere."  This story, published in O. Henry's second collection of stories Four Million, was hailed by fellow writer and humorist Stephen Leacock as possibly the darkest story he ever wrote and his best work.

If you enjoyed this story, make sure you catch up with the past couple of weeks at The Classic Tales Podcast which feature H.P. Lovecraft and Ambrose Bierce.

But wait!  There's more!  For the reduced price of $12.99, you can enjoy over 15 hours worth of classic horror tales when you buy Classic Scary Tales, Vol. 1.  This includes stories from Edgar Allen Poe, Guy de Maupassant, H.P. Lovecraft, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and many more.  Pour yourself a hot drink, gather around the fire and listen as B.J. brings all these monsters and nightmares to life!

*Oh, and about that embezzling bit about O. Henry, there is a petition filed asking President Obama to pardon the writer posthumously.  There has been no movement on it yet.