Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Legend of Great Bear Warrior

Halloween is a couple days away, and it goes without saying that I'm stoked about it. It's not like some holidays; Christmas has presents, Easter has ham, and Independence Day has horrible sunburns and fireworks, but none of those days have the spookiness factor like Halloween does. I like scary stories, horror movies, and all things autumnal in general, so the days leading up to the end of October get me hyped on candy corn and spooky tales of the occult and supernatural. When I think of scary stories, and especially ones I had a hand in, I think back to my time in high school.

Not specifically as scary as Miguel in a Mountain Dew box, but that happened too.
I had a classmate that was a little gullible, so one day I made up a story about a Native American warrior whose ghost still haunts the land and kills any white person he sees. The story has been polished over the years, and it goes like this:

Many years ago, before the white man came to this land, there was a warrior named Great Bear. He protected his tribe from all threats and dangers, and he was held in high regard by all that knew of him. One day, though, settlers came with their guns and took the land from Great Bear's tribe. His people were murdered, and the land they once hunted on and lived in was made into cattle ranges and town steads for the whites. 
This angered Great Bear greatly, and he sought to reclaim what rightfully belonged to his people. He sneaked into the US Calvary base, established to protect against tribal incursion, under the light of the moon, and he scalped five me in their sleep-- just like they did to his people. The other cavalrymen caught him in the act, and they began to fire upon him. Great Bear, in defense, hacked through another three men until he finally bled out from many bullet wounds and perished. Superstitious because of his reputation, the cavalrymen buried Great Bear under a tall tree in hopes that he would not rise again for revenge.  
Great Bear's soul cried to the spirits of the mountain, and the mountains heard his call. He wished vengeance against the ones who harmed the land and his people, and his anger and bloodlust morphed his furious and tortured soul into the beast of his namesake. To this day, on moonlit nights in the Owens Valley near the tall tree, his soul, half man and half bear, wanders the land in search of white men to prey upon and mercilessly slaughter for the sake of his people.

My classmate wasn't sure if I had made it up or not, so I played along and told him it was all true for most of that day until I cracked and admitted it was all bullshit. I wanted to keep the joke going, though, so I made a webpage on a free web building site with "real historical accounts" of the Owens Valley. I'd made a few pages with some boring factoids that people know about the area, but then threw in a page about "The Legend of Great Bear Warrior" that nearly mirrored the story I'd made up. I thought there would be no way anyone could be gullible enough to fall for a free-build website saying that a story I admitted making up was actually true, but sometimes life has a sense of humor.

I pretended to stumble upon the website one day at school, and my classmate asked what was up when he saw my surprise. I told him the story was online and it must be true (because you're not allowed to lie on the internet, of course), and he freaked out. He lived in Fort Independence, where the cavalry outpost was and Paiute reservation is now, so he was really skittish walking around in the middle of the night for a couple weeks. Every movement in the brush became something more sinister than just a rabbit, and every tree had a Native American warrior werebear ghost underneath it.
Pictured: something probably RIGHT BEHIND YOU RIGHT NOW 

He figured out that the website was farce after awhile, and he called me out for being a nerd with too much time on my hands to go so far as to make a website for a joke. I mean, he was right, but living in Independence, California, allowed for a lot of free time. 

So if you find yourself in the area this Halloween, with a bright quarter moon shining through the bare trees swaying in the wind, just remember there's probably nothing to fear maybe and that there might not be a bloodthirsty angry spirit wanting to rip your face off.

Happy Halloween! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Junk Sales

I checked out a little rummage sale after The Color Run in Ventura Saturday afternoon. All manner of junk was laid out on display, from tacky 1990s ties (I did like the high-tech computer themed one with the boxy mouse and 3 1/2 floppy disk patterns) to legitimate antique snowshoes and cameras. I'd passed an old clothes iron-- nothing too fancy, just an thin metal iron with a cloth wrapped electrical cord-- and I excitedly pointed it out to my girlfriend, who laughed at me for being a lame nerd. I explained that it was the right size for the storage space of my in-wall ironing board cabinet, and it fit the time period the apartment I live in was built, but after realizing it'd be a dumb investment (I have an iron, and also the wiring looked less than fire safe) I passed it up to flip out over other antiques and junk I wouldn't buy either for their price or lack of practicality.

Some of my favorite things as a kid were yard sales. Big rummage sales, garage sales, any form of temporary crap-laid-out-so-I-don't-have-to-pay-a-dump-fee setup was something I looked out for. The rush that came with finding cool crap I didn't need that I could buy for a buck was fantastic. Sifting through a veritable time capsule of tacky shirts, useless "As Seen On TV" appliances, dusty knickknacks, and unidentifiable parts of things that might have been useful at some point, was almost like an archaeological dig. After spending $10 on a menagerie of odds and ends, the feeling of satisfaction that came with having a bigger trove of useless shit made my whole day. When my family would have yard sales, a fair chunk of what I'd amassed would go, and the perpetual cycle of yard sale stuff continued.

Like I've mentioned before, my apartment is a testament of my polished ability to collect yard sale crap and thrift store goodies. Some things end up being really cool antiques. Other things end up being placeholders for things I can't afford right away. Most of the stuff just looks kind of neat or ends up being kind of useful, but whatever the case for having a bunch of yard sale and thrift store crap may be, my place is decked out with the stuff. Is it environmentally sensible reusing and repurposing secondhand stuff? Sure, I guess. Is it trendy and cool? I don't know, actually. Is it cheap as hell? You betcha. That's why I still like rummage sales.

Before leaving the sale in Ventura, I spent a couple bucks on a Clinton administration pin for my girlfriend and a classic Mammoth Mountain pin for myself. Useless, sure, but neat, so I feel like it's worth it. After getting home and as the week progressed, my dad informed me that the Independence Lion's Club White Elephant Sale* is this weekend and they needed me to help set up. That means I get first pick on the coolest junk they've collected and kept in storage for the last year or so, and even though I don't think I'll find anything worth anything it'll still be fun to see what stuff there is to be had. Being around old junk is neat to me, so I look forward to it.

(*If you're in the Independence, California area this Saturday around 9AM, be sure to check out the Independence Lion's Club White Elephant Sale at the Chevron station in the middle of town for awesome deals on furniture, clothes, toys, and more. Proceeds go toward the community so it'd be cool of you to take a peek if you're in town.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


I haven't updated my blog in awhile (if you were expecting a Wednesday post for awhile and haven't had one for the last few weeks, I'm sorry!), mostly because I've been busy with a few things; attending to various chores, getting things budgeted and sorted out for a trip at the end of the month, and-- most of all-- work. Since after Labor Day, the hotel has been buzzing and filled to capacity with retirees and various tourists from everywhere on the map, so by the end of the day my drive to sit at a keyboard and to use my brain for creative means comes to a screeching halt. Mornings I spend attending to chores, evenings I'm rushing around at work, and I relent to vegging out when it's all said and done.

Although, with autumn in full swing and the big town-wide film festival over, I've started to change my tune a little. I was standing outside Saturday night, sipping a beer and staring at the sky. From my patio I could see the moon rising over the Inyo Mountains, illuminating the inky night sky and drowning out the smattering of stars with its gray light. The breeze rustled the leaves on the trees and the ones already shed, sending fluttering shadows to the ground. A slight chill hung in the air. The crunch of yellow leaves underfoot crinkled out as a nearby tree released them onto my little space. The sound of music echoed through town from the festival, but I didn't want to celebrate with anyone; all I wanted was a quiet moment to stare at the moon, and I got that.

I woke up before the sunrise the next morning. I groggily made coffee, grabbed my old Columbia fleece, and sat out on the patio again to greet the chilly morning. The sun drowned the eastern mountains in gold light. The yellowing leaves still hanging on to any semblance or delusion of summer hung on for dear life in the wind. The day grew warm and the wind died down, but all around were hints of the season; the leaves collecting along the fence line by my apartment, the sunset coming sooner, the nights getting colder, and the nights a little quieter. After the deluge of traffic and the heat of another dry summer, the clues that the colder season is actually making an appearance made me feel a little warmer inside.

It's not the notion that work is about to slow down that has me a little more inspired... well, not entirely, anyway. Seeing the shift in the season has me more excited than workplace hibernation. Crossing things off my to-do list is satisfying, sure, but sometimes I miss out on quiet mornings and evenings staring at the horizon by being caught up in the proverbial rat-race. Taking a quick breather to stare at the sky really helps me appreciate being alive, and I guess in turn helps me gain a little more focus in hammering in a quick entry into this blog every so often.

Long story short: life can get really busy sometimes, and sometimes you feel like you might be falling behind-- and you might be-- but taking a minute to collect your thoughts and orient yourself can do a world of good for the things you have to do and the things you want to do.

Also, autumn is rad.

I really like autumn.