October Sky Rocket Boys Festival

The October Sky Rocket Boys Festival will be in Beckley again this year.  It is a celebration about the Rocket Boys, a group of amateur rocketers from Coalwood in McDowell County who won a National Science Fair gold mine and several of them went onto work with various science fields.  Their story was record in the memoir of Homer Hickman and in the movie October Sky.

Special guests for the festival are several of the original Rocket Boys, Chris Owen one of the stars of October Sky, Russell L. Werneth from NASA, and Andy Jackson festival photographer.

Events get started with WV Speaks UP, a “Conference of Ideas,” on October 2 and 3 at the Tamarack.  Forty eight of West Virginia’s most motivated and enlightened mind will be Beckley to give a seven minutes presentation on their idea to better the state.  The first session is from 6pm-8pm on Wednesday and the three more on Thursday.  Other events on Thursday are the Teacher of the Year Award ceremony at 6pm-7pm and the Spirit of the Coalfields Awards.

The main events for the festival start on Friday: screenings of October Sky with one the Rocket Boys starts and a writing workshop with Homer Hickam at the Tamarrack.  Chris Owen will do an acting workshop and October Sky screening at the Raleigh Playhouse and Theater for $10 starting at 6pm.  A Friday night concert starts at 7:30pm at the Woodrow Wilson Auditorium.  Tickets available online.

Then on Saturday even more stuff goes down.  The festival takes place mostly at the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine (BECM) and New River Park (NRP) but some events are around at other places.  There will be educational displays, food, crafts, a “writer’s row”, specialty vendors, a 5K run,  The Buddy Walk, planetarium, blood drive, BECM tours, the Second Annual WV State Championship of Paper Airplane Flight, a rocket launch, live music, fire hydrant painting contest, a Hot Dog Eating Contest, live round song contest, and WV Dance company performing.  Then at night, Chili night in Uptown Beckley with the Rocket Boys as guest judges starts.

On Sunday a motor coach departs for Coaldwood at 9am from Tamarrack and returns at 4pm.  Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for students.


Leihen Helvetia & Baronial Investiture

The Barony of Blackstone Mountain is southern West Virginia chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) in the Kingdom of AEthelmearc.
On October 4th-6th they are for the second time hosting an event in the town of Helvetia for archery, thrown weapons, heavy fighting, feasting, and fun called Leihen Helvetia.  The event goes from 2pm Friday and closes down on Sunday at noon.

Leihen Helvetia will be the site of the Aethelmearc Thrown Weapons Championship.  The tournaments will take place on Saturday at consecutive time in the meadow, starting at 11am and ending at 4pm.  The Barony’s Investiture for the new Baron and Baroness, Lord Ichijo Honen and Lady Cerridwen de Skene will be held there.
Things will take place at the Community Hall of Helvetia.  You can set up a tent in the center of town, get a hotel, or sleep in the Hall.
There will be limited seating for the feast, which will be on Saturday in the Hall at 5pm and prepared by Astrider Vikaskegg.  If you do not get a seat at the feast, you can try out the town’s authentic German restaurant the Hutte.

The cost to go is $20 plus a $5 surcharge for non SCA members.  To attend just for the day is $10, plus the surcharge for non members.  Children 11 and under get in free.  Checks can be made out to SCA WV Inc., Barony of Blackstone Mountain. Autocrat, Sybilla Julianna Daetwyler (Andria Rumberg).

The SCA is dedicated to researching pre-17th-century medieval and Renaissance history through re-creation; their goal is to put into practice the skills of those remarkable times. Where your typical Renaissance Faire encourages you to watch medieval activities being performed, they invite you to learn and create them yourself.

Something to check out if you are old hat at the SCA, boffer combat, or medieval/Renaissance events or this is something new you want to try out.

Shockacon Assessment

Last weekend was Shockacon’s first year (the con chair says not to count last year really).  The con had a great atmosphere, but there were still some rough edges.

The con’s primary site was at the Haunted Barn.  Inside they had the vendors rooms with the guests and the Barn ran several of their haunted tours upstairs.  Outside was more promotional tables, the main stage, and on the side a some hearses.  Two blocks away at the Kanawha Players Theater was the panels and screenings.  Splitting the con into two places worked against them. Going back and forth was tiring and annoying.  I do not think the neighborhood appreciated the noise from the con either.

All the people there seemed to be having fun.  Vendors had a nice cross-section of things to buy: games, movies, shirts, make-up, comics, jewelry, art, toys, books, and more.  The guests were friendly, polite, and happy to meet fans.  I saw a number of really great costumes throughout the weekend.  Really great event if you are a fan of zombies, horror movies, or make up and costuming.

I checked out two of the panels: prepping for a zombie apocalypse and one on exorcisms.  I felt they were both good, just the room they were held in was not all that good for presentations with bad acoustics and with some junk in the back.  Big enough for lots of people though.

The problems with the cons fell a bit like nick-picking, but are things that can be easily fixed and will make things even better.  The con lacked any kind of program guide for people to carry around, meaning they had to keep asking for directions and having to go back to check the posted schedules.  Splitting the con into two places worked against them.

It was hot on Friday with very little AC for the vendors room and then it rained for part of Saturday causing some shuffling of events without much announcement.  There were problems with the videos playing, stuff was late or just skipped.  The events at the Main Stage were often a little later than scheduled, which is just Con Standard Time (CST) so that was expected.

They have the crowd and the passion for the event.  I just think it would be better overall if they move things indoors, like a hotel or the civic center.  The Kanawha Players Theater looked like a place that might work out to move everything into from what I saw.  I wait to see what they are able to do in the future.

Family Business Indiegogo

RJ Haddy, of Face Off fame, has a movie project he wants to make.  A story he devised while working for his uncle at a funeral parlor.

A story of a trio of eccentric uncles, an orphaned teenager made to live with them, and an ancient rotting funeral home with some magic and mystery.  As the story unfolds we get to learn what the three uncles do in the locked funeral home basement.  The film will use old fashion miniatures, matte paintings, puppetry, animatronics, creature suits, make up effects, and more to make it the most exciting thing it can be.

To put this film together and make it the best it can be, he is using Indiegogo to raise the first $100,000, though the cost of the movie is expect to go up.  Besides this fund-raiser they will be getting some private donations, matching grants, and other fundraising sources.  This initial amount will see the film through pre-production, creation of sets, props, costumes, and effects, plus location rentals, personnel, actors, vehicles, and more.

RJ has gathered some friends to help out with the project: Roy Wooley (from Season 3 and 5 of Face Off and film make up artist), Beki Ingram (artist/film maker, Season 2 of Face Off), David Henson Greathouse (director, writer, make-up artist), and Robert Kurtzman (legendary make-up artist and creature effects creator).  More FX artists and others will be announced as they join the crusade.

In conjunction with the movie they are going to make a web-based reality show.  One that will show you all the behind the scenes of the movie making process.

This is going to be great chance to promote filmmaking here in West Virginia.  The project is planned to be boon to film professionals in our state.  A chance for high quality filmmaking to come to the state and inspire others. There will be intern positions as assistants for the film for those looking for some hands-on training as well.

They request you to donate to the fund, but also to help spread the word about the project.  Something that might lead to more projects if it succeeds.  This is a chance to help the community (and not just one project) and to make yourself feel good about doing it.  Which might be the biggest reward you get for this.  The low-cost reward levels for this are mostly e-mail updates about the project, advance access to the web series, autographed cast photo, and shout outs from the cast and crew on social media.  At $50 you get a digital download of the film, $75 gets you special thanks in the credits, $100 a limited edition t-shirt, and various other levels.  Higher ones get you make up accessorizes, premier tickets, Skype a production meeting and give input, be an extra in the movie, and more that allows you to be part of the film.  Some of them are a limited set, so get them quick.

Mothman Festival 2013

The Mothman Festival is the annual celebration of the sightings of the Mothman.  It is held on the third weekend of every September in Downtown Point Pleasant, West Virginia, this year that is September 21-22.  The festival features a variety of vendors and merchants, local music, food, and family friendly atmosphere.  Festival hours will go from 7am to 10:30pm on Saturday and 7am to 1pm on Sunday.  This will be the 12th annual event.

Festival events include ghosts of Pt. Pleasant walking tours (tickets at the Coffee Grinder), live music from local bands through out both days, rock climbing wall from the WV National Guard, performances from the Riverside Cloggers in front of the Post Office on Saturday, and airplane flyovers over the TNT area, call the Mason County Airport to schedule a ride.  The 1st Annual Mothman Ball, from 10pm till when ever feature DJ Kos’s horror themed music show.  For all ages and do not forget to bring your best costume.  On Thursday and Friday before the festival
the Miss Mothman Festival Pageant will be held at the Trinity Christian Community in Pt. Pleasant. And much more to see and do.

Gust speakers at during the weekend are Patrecia Gray (author The Thing: Mothman, Devil or Spirit), Chad Lambert (comic book creator), Fred Aluga (college teacher in UFOs and cryptozoology), Stan Gordon (UFO lecturer), Rosemary Guiley (WV’s most haunted places), Susan Sheppard (paranormal expert), Lyle Blackburn (Beast of Boggy Creek), Sharon Shull (grew up during the Mothman sightings), Robin Bellamy (paranormal researcher), Jeff Waldridge (paranormal chronicler), Tom Ury (costume maker), and Matt Pellowski (Eyes of the Mothman director).

If you are not going to Shockacon this weekend or are a really big fan of Mothman you are going to want to check this out.  I really see the festival as something everyone should check out at least once.

Suicide 5 Kickstarter

A new project from writer Jason Pell and artist Ryan Howe is on Kickstarter.  It is a new comic book with a very different kind of story called Suicide 5.

Suicide 5 is about five people willing to die for immortal fame.  The story has the group force Mason, a shut-in sculptor, to be the judge of the suicides for originality and style.  The story follows the characters through their deadly game and shows the dread and fear they all experience.

Also if you got last year’s Kickstarter Season’s End by Pell and Blake Wheeler and want more story from it, there is a short story set in the same world in the Suicide 5 book. You can get some new original art from it as well in the rewards.  Blake has painted a short story that will act as a bridge to further Season’s End tales.

The goal is $8,500, with $7,000 for printing, $700 for shipping, and the rest for incidentals.  Any extra funds will go to promotion and/or using a bigger publisher.  So far (as of this writing) $2,085 has already been raised.  You have till October 2 to donate.

Shockacon Weekend

Last year’s Shockacon was held around the Mound in South Charleston outside for one day.  This year they are inside more and for a full three days.  It is hosted by The Haunted Barn and Kanawha Players Theater.

They have gathered several guests in a number of fields.  From The Walking Dead played by Jeremy Ambler, Nick Gomez, Theodus Crane, Savana Jade Wehut.  .  Eugene Clark from Land of the Dead, Danny Hicks from Evil Dead II, and David Crawford from Dawn of the Dead.  From SyFy’s Face OFF RJ Haddy, Roy Wooley, David Greathouse, and Beki Ingram.  Authors and graphic novelists Danny boy, Edward Holsclaw, Robert Tinnell, Jason Pell, Woodland Press, Burning Bush, and Lazie Horse Publishing.  Movie directors Jared Coh from The Asylum and Eamon Hardimon of Razor Sharp Productions.  And several more I did not mention, like wrestlers, paranormal groups, fan groups, and more.

There are several events lined up.  Events lined up are Q&A panels, make up and prop workshops, creature creation competition, costume contest, scream contest, photo ops, and more.  More than twenty hours of movie screenings are lined up with the premiere of Atlantic Rim and short film The Pit among them.  Friday and Saturday night will have live music hosted by DJ Thunder and several local bands with The Wayward Girls School of Burlesque and The Monster Dolls helping out.  The Haunted Barn will be open with their full haunting operations to check out.  After parties will be held at the Blue Parrot on Friday and Saturday as well.

Tickets are $30 for the weekend, $10 or $15 for each day, or $100 for VIP passes.

If you are a horror fan this is the top event for you.  Part con, part haunted house, part film festival, and much more.  Check out their website and Facebook page for more info.  The event is to be family friendly so do not worry too much about bringing the kids.