Monday, August 31, 2009

Six Flags Hiring Zombies

Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom has announced they'll be hiring approximately 200 actors and other team members for its annual "Fright Fest" Halloween celebration.

According to, the jobs will pay from $7.25-$12/hr running from September to November.

Auditions for actors to staff its haunted attractions will be held on September 3 and 4, 7-9pm at Six Flags' Human Resources office.

Auditioning actors and performers should park in Lot L of the Kentucky Exposition Center, and enter through Six Flags' "Team Member" entrance. Wear clothing that will allow for some free movement. People specifically interested in Haunted House jobs will be asked to do some improvisational-acting exercises.

Morris Dees ACLU Event

Received via email from the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky:

Despite regular death threats and a thwarted plot to end his life (originating in Kentucky), 2009’s Bill of Rights Dinner featured guest, Morris Dees, has fought for civil rights for the unheard for over thirty years.

Mr. Dees is the Co-founder and Chief Trial Counsel of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that throughout its history has worked to make the nation's Constitutional ideals a reality.

The SPLC legal department fights all forms of discrimination and works to protect society's most vulnerable members, handling innovative cases that few lawyers are willing to take. Over three decades, it has achieved significant legal victories, including landmark Supreme Court decisions and crushing jury verdicts against hate groups.

Please join us on Thursday, October 1st at the Hyatt Regency Louisville, as this civil rights hero comes to share his thoughts on hate groups in Kentucky and across the nation. Buy your tickets today!

In his autobiography, Dees described a dark "night of soul searching at a snowed-in Cincinnati airport" in 1967, after which he vowed to devote the rest of his career to fighting injustice, bigotry and hate. He sold his book publishing business and with the revenue generated by that, he opened the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama in 1971.

Since then, Dees has successfully sued the Ku Klux Klan, Tom Metzger's White Aryan Resistance, The Aryan Nations, and The Imperial Klans of America, among others.

According to Wikipedia, "Over 30 people have been jailed in connection with plots to kill Dees or blow up the center. Most recently a July 29, 2007 letter allegedly came from Hal Turner, a white supremacist talk show host, after the SPLC filed a lawsuit against the Imperial Klans of America (IKA) in Meade County [Kentucky]. During the IKA trial a former member of the IKA said that the Klan head told him to kill Dees."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dracula, Go Home!

There comes a time when a long-running theatre production in any given city must recognize when it has run its course. Even Cats finally packed it in after 18 years on Broadway.

I submit that the Actors Theatre of Louisville's traditional Halloween production of Dracula is just such a candidate for discontinuation. It's truly become overfamiliar and played out. I've seen it at ATL three times myself, and doubt I'll ever feel a need for a fourth. It's been done to death, folks; do something else now.

There's so many other, better options for Halloween entertainment out there, and in the latest installment of my weekly Suspension of Disbelief arts column for, I enumerate some humble suggestions of my own. Click here to read them.

Thoughts and additional input, anyone?

Homeland Sodality

First mistake: a belated five years after the events of September 11, 2001, some genius thought it would be a great idea to start a separate State Department of Homeland Security just for Kentucky. Never mind that the Federal one already covers Kentucky's less-than-urgent counter-terrorism needs just fine already.

Second mistake: Two amendments to the statute that created this unnecessary branch of an already unnecessary organization were worded by state Rep. Tom Riner (pictured below), a Democrat representing Louisville. Rep. Riner is also reportedly a pastor at Kings Baptist Church in Taylorsville. Riner inserted language that required all training materials to stress "dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth", and to require a plaque be erected at the Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort that reads, in part, "the safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God".

Unlike the whole Ten Commandments in Jackson County squabble, at least Riner's religious meddling only referred to "God" in general, and didn't specify any particular God of any particular faith. But something tells me he wasn't thinking of Ishtar or Buddha or Isis or Allah or Jah or J.R. "Bob" Dobbs or Tengri or Marduk or Vishnu or Wotan or Minerva or Baal or Choronzon or the 8th Dynamic or The Four Heavenly Kings or Sai Baba or Hannahannah or Aurvandil or Krampus or Saraswati or Ra or John Frum or The Servers of All (sort of the "Super Friends" of spirituality). And I'm 95 percent positive he wasn't thinking of the Invisible Pink Unicorn.

Furthermore, there are millions of people, especially in Judaic traditions, who find it to some degree improper to spell out the word "God" itself on a publicly mounted plaque such as Riner's mandated one. For many, "G-d" is the preferred nomenclature for committing the creator's name into permanent form. (And I beg their indulgence for my relative misusage here, although recent rabbinical decisions have approved the typing of the word into computers.)

Anyway. Ten Kentucky citizens, joined by the American Atheists, have won their lawsuit over the religious terminology that was bullied in by Riner. Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate stated in his decision: "The statute pronounces very plainly that current citizens of the Commonwealth cannot be safe, neither now, nor in the future, without the aid of Almighty God. Even assuming that most of this nation’s citizens have historically depended upon God, by choice, for their protection, this does not give the General Assembly the right to force citizens to do so now".

As I've already commented here, I have a very low opinion of atheists, and I find Wingate's ruling to be a victory for freedom and common sense, not for atheism. And this still doesn't make me a member of the Judge Wingate fan club: he's the one who tried to push Gov. Beshear's kook scheme to seize non-Kentucky casino websites for breaking Kentucky laws, which is a little like trying to prosecute British people for driving on the wrong side of the road.

Read more about all this silliness here and here and here.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

World's Largest Skillet

It may not look a whole lot like a skillet (they have a detachable handle that they put on it for photo-ops) but it certainly counts as one - and man, is the chicken dee-lish. I haven't been to London's annual World Chicken Festival lately and probably won't make it there this year either, but I miss it greatly. Next year. It's there that you'll find this amazing monument to man's devotion to fried birds.

The World Chicken Festival was originally held in Corbin, but they moved it to nearby London as the event grew and became far bigger than anyone dreamed. There's plenty of flea-market vendors, musical acts, and other entertainments, but the real centerpiece of the Festival to me is the World's Largest Skillet. Who can say it isn't beautiful?

It's 10 feet 6 inches in diameter, and it weighs 700 pounds. It can cook 885 quarters of chicken at one time, and requires 300 gallons of peanut oil to do so. They also use approximately 375 pounds of flour, 75 pounds of salt, 30 pounds of pepper, and 30 pounds of paprika. On average, 8,000 pieces of chicken are prepared each year on the giant skillet.

Former Lawrenceburg mayor and Harland Sanders lookalike Colonel Bob Thompson (seen below at the Derby) is a regular guest at the Festival.

(photo of the superskillet is by Daveblog.)

Death Row

Fayette County prosecutor Ray Larson keeps tabs on Kentucky's 37 "death row" inmates on his website. Read all about it here, but only if you're extremely strong of stomach; the rogue's gallery of Kentucky's condemned men and women includes such nutcases as:

  • Floyd County's Donald Johnson, a 22-yr-old who killed a 61-year-old woman in a laundromat and mutilated her private parts with a ball-point pen.

  • Knox County's John Mills, who clubbed his 79-year-old landlord over the head and stabbed him 29 times, in order to rob him of $4.60.

  • Jefferson County's Melvin Lee Parrish, who stabbed a pregnant woman and her eight-year-old son to death.

  • Breathitt County's Karu White, who beat three senior citizens to death so brutally that their bodies were in pieces and had to be buried in bags.

  • Henry County's Parramore Lee Sanborn, who kidnapped, raped, sodomized, and murdered a mother of three. He ripped out all her hair and dumped her body on a rural road.
  • Friday, August 28, 2009

    The Ten Commandments

    The hubbub over the Jackson County courthouse's prominent display of a list of Christian moral precepts popularly known as The Ten Commandments is over for now, but those moral precepts are more popular than ever.

    According to the great Kaintuckeean Blog:

    McKee was most recently in the news when the Ten Commandments were removed from the courthouse after a federal lawsuit was filed. As a result, the Ten Commandments are EVERYWHERE in Jackson County, including this monument on private property just off the courthouse square.

    I really don't see why there has to be such a fuss about this, from either side of the debate. If the Jackson County courthouse - or any courthouse, for that matter - wants to get around the ruling, they could conceivably put up an educational exhibit of all the world's religions, safely couching the Ten Commandments amongst the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, the Five Pillars of Islam, the Seven Pillars of Ismailism, The Eight Dynamics of Scientology, various Zen Koans, the Five Sikh Symbols, the Thirteen Mormon Articles of Faith, the Nuwaubian Tablets, the Zhen-Shan-Ren of Falun Gong, the Holy Measures of the ODF, the Jehovah's Witnesses Eschatological Chart, the Hare Krishna Mantra, the Transmissions of Aetherius, the Five Precepts of Aleph (aka Aum Shinrikyo), the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints and Feast Days, the Astara Prayers, the Eight Words of the Wiccan Rede, Kabbalah's 72 Names of God, the Seven Planes of Shamballa (Unarius), the Six Precepts of Ahmadi Faith, the Discordian Law of Fives, the Subgenius "Prescriptures" and even The Church of Satan's Nine Satanic Sins.

    Not to mention the doctrines of Wayne Bent, Savitri Devi, The Branch Davidians, The Unitarians, Subud, Heaven's Gate, New Thought, Santeria, The Rosicrucians, The "I AM" Churches, Christian Science, Galactic Messenger Network, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Dianetics, TM, The Temple of the Presence, The Federation of Damanhur, Church of All Worlds, The Juche Idea, Eckankar, Sai, The Way to Happiness, Meher Baba, Odinism, Voodoo/Voudoun/Vodun, The Temple of Set, and The Urantia Foundation.

    And also Shamanism, Ordo Templi Orientis, Predestinarians, The Sufi Order, Archeosophy, NXIVM, Barbara Marciniak, MorningStar Ministries, The Nation of Islam, Fiat Lux, Dahn Yoga, The Ancient Order of Druids, The Golden Dawn, WATV, The Grail Message, Hinduism, Apollo C. Quiboloy, The Book of Ruhnama, Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, Luciferianism, The Samaritans, House of Yahweh, Raël, Galac-Patra, the Hidden Words of Bahá'í, and of course, the channelled messages of Ashtar Sheran and the Ashtar Command Crew.

    Can't we all just get along?

    Since Christianity is pretty much an "open source" religion - that is to say, it's not copyrighted nor under exclusive control of any unified governing ecclesiastical body, thus freely modified - keeping the list of valid moral lessons intact while removing the overt references to the Judeo-Christian God would go far towards making the list more palatable to the ACLU. I wonder what would happen if the list were repackaged for courthouse use as, say, "A secular common-sense list of stuff to not do"? One's cake could be had while eating it too, since theoretically you'd be presenting a secularized version of the Ten Commandments, thus skirting illegality, even though you know and I know (and even people living under a rock in Tierra Del Fuego know) all about the list's religious basis anyhow.

    The funny thing is, there are a whole lot more commandments in the Bible besides just these ten. The traditional codified list of what we call the Ten Commandments today was a very late arrangement, created by picking and choosing certain commandments given in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy in the Old Testament, including the Seven Laws of Noah which predated Moses by, at least, centuries (depending on whether or not you accept the Bible's statement that Noah lived 950 years).

    Look it up: the phrase "Ten Commandments" is actually not used in the Bible to describe the litany of laws that we commonly ascribe that term to. It's used, rather, to describe a completely different set of "thou shalt nots" that can be found in Exodus 34:12-26. These Ten Commandments include instructions to destroy places of worship of other religious faiths, to sacrifice all first-born children and livestock to Yahweh, and an admonition not to boil a kid in its mother's milk. This set of Commandments actually supercedes prior ones from which we derived our modern idea of the Ten Commandments from, which Moses smashed to pieces. (In point of fact, the entire Old Testament is superceded for Christians by the New Testament, so the whole matter should be entirely moot anyway.)

    As a Christian myself, the most unfortunate aspect of the whole mess for me is not the matter of Church vs. State, but that the controversy has caused a proliferation of plastic Ten Commandments yard signs, and you know how I feel about plastic signs. Sigh.

    Thursday, August 27, 2009

    Ale 8 One

    Ale 8 One, known colloquially as simply "Ale 8", was first created in Winchester, KY by G.L. Wainscott, circa 1926.

    It was supposedly inspired by a recipe Wainscott had obtained in Europe many years prior. Exactly what Ale 8's secret formula is, no one knows - but it's clear that Ginger is a key ingredient. Some classify Ale 8 as a Ginger Ale, in fact, but I wouldn't go that far. Hardcore Ginger Ale fans, who are used to spicy solutions like Blenheim's, would probably be disappointed by Ale 8's divine subtlety if they went into it expecting a serious Ginger Ale burning sensation. Ale 8 is also far less carbonated than most soda pop, which also can be somewhat disconcerting for noobs.

    Wainscott was a Clark County small-time soda bottler who had been creating and selling fruit-flavored sodas for the local market since 1902. Prior to Ale 8, his most popular product was Roxa-Kola, a cola introduced in 1906.

    The odd details of a court case between Wainscott and a Campbellsville retailer of Roxa-Kola can be found here in Volume 153 of The Southwestern Reporter, 1913.

    Ale-8-One was actually originally literally called "A Late One", rendered as a visual pun on the label. That visual pun stuck and now a century later, people think it's the other way around.

    The Ale-8-One empire continues to be a small, family-owned Kentucky enterprise, currently presided over by Wainscott's descendant Frank A. Rogers III, and moves about 1.5 million cases per year.

    According to Wikipedia, "The recipe for Ale-8 is a closely guarded family secret. Reportedly, only two executives — Rogers and Fielding Rogers, Executive Vice-President and heir-apparent to the company — know the exact composition". Then again, Wikipedia also claims that it's a popular Kentucky practice to mix Bourbon and Ale-8, and I've never heard of such a thing. Sounds revolting to me; a waste of good bourbon and good Ale-8. Supposedly the mixed drink in question is called a "Squirrel", which probably goes back to the days when Ale8 had a mascot called Sue the Squirrel and the slogan "Ale 8 One - Share it with a Squirrel".

    A more promising Ale-8 combo than Bourbon is barbecue. In 2008, Ale-8-one Barbecue Sauce was launched, based on the private recipe of WLXX-FM morning radio DJs Bandy and Bailey.

    The Judy Drive-In

    One of the absolute last of a dying breed, the Judy Drive-in carries the tattered flag of outdoor film enjoyment into the 21st century. The drive-in is so named for the tiny community of Judy, a suburb of Mt. Sterling.

    Located at 4078 Maysville Road, the Judy Drive-In is actually one of the more progressive examples of this highly retro line of business. Not only do they show first-run movies, they broadcast the audio signal in FM stereo and actually encourage people to get out of their cars and stroll around the grounds, watching the film while listening to the audio on their walkmans. They also sell PIC insect-repellant coils. Their screenings go on rain or shine, and are only ever cancelled in the event of a severe thunderstorm.

    On September 6th they'll be hosting a car show, "Cruisin' the Judy", with games, prizes, food, music, and Smokey & The Bandit showing on the big screen at dusk.

    The Judy Drive-In opened on the fourth of July, 1952, and has been in continuous operation ever since.

    (Photo above from UnK regular Nicosia's wonderful photo-travel blog, Roadside Weirdness.)

    Wednesday, August 26, 2009

    Ray the D.A.

    It goes without saying that the webpages of county attorneys and district attorneys are generally dry and dull affairs, with not much content to sustain the interest of those not directly in need of their civic services. For example, see here and here and here and here and here.

    Not so with the official homepage of Fayette County's Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson. His website,, is chock-full of content, much of it highly loudmouthed, exciting, muckraking, and lurid. Ray runs a regular online newsletter and a radio show and a column and keeps tabs on all sorts of true-crime and weird-crime news in our fair state and around the nation.

    According to one source, the national recidivism rate is 67 percent, but in Kentucky it's only 44 percent. Ray's hard-nosed style is generally credited as being the cause.

    Plus, he wears a cool hat.

    I often disagree with much of what the hyper-opinionated Ray has to say, since he is stauchly right-wing (Me, I transcended the phony "left vs. right" shell game long, long ago). One minute I find myself cheering Ray on when he rants against the stupidity of releasing dangerous repeat-offense criminals after letting them serve only a microfraction of their sentences, but then the next minute I find myself shaking my head in disbelief when he goes into ideologue-mode and defends the indefensible Dick Cheney.

    Oh well, one can't win 'em all. Despite his ultra-conservative rhetoric that sometimes comes on a little too irrationally strong, one does get a very real sense from Ray that he is totally hands-on committed to protecting the citizens of Fayette County from dangerous scum, and not just lightly paying lip service to the idea.

    Papa John's Camaro Returns

    From the Associated Press:

    The founder of the Papa John's pizza chain has finally reunited with the muscle car he sold years ago to help keep his family's business afloat.

    John Schnatter sold the gold-and-black 1971 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 for $2,800 in 1983. The money helped save his father's tavern in Jeffersonville, Ind., and he used the rest to start what would become a worldwide pizza business.

    But he still missed his beloved Camaro and spent years searching for it. He created a website on the search, held promotional appearances and eventually offered $250,000 to whoever found it.

    It turns out he didn't have to leave Kentucky, where the pizza chain is based in Louisville. The car only changed hands twice from the original buyers, ending up with Jeffery Robinson in Flatwoods, about 165 miles to the east.

    In honor of the reunion, Papa John's planned to offer all Camaro owners a free pizza at stores on Wednesday.

    Pitt vs. Cruise? Not!

    A few days ago, a less-than-reputable German magazine widely - and falsely - attributed a statement to Brad Pitt in which he was knocking Kentuckian Tom Cruise's recent critically acclaimed film Valkyrie. Pitt has a part in a new film, Inglourious Basterds [sic], which, like Cruise's masterpiece, deals with Nazi-era Germany.

    According to People Magazine:

    Last week's widely picked-up statement attributed to Brad Pitt, unfavorably comparing his WII movie Inglourious Basterds to Tom Cruise's star vehicle Valkyrie, was not only "inaccurate," Pitt's manager tells PEOPLE, but "Brad has never even seen Valkyrie."

    The uncharacteristically harsh remark was originally published in a wide-circulation weekly German magazine, and, as could be expected, was reprinted internationally. Problem was, it was never uttered.

    Unfortunately, if you look at the vast majority of the amateur blogosphere, most are ignoring Pitt's statement decrying the rumor and instead they're going with the far juicier story that he dissed Cruise. Internet celebrity gossip columnists (among the lowest bottom-feeder scum of the Earth, IMHO) certainly don't let a little thing like truth stand in their way. Pitt and Cruise, who starred together in the classic film adaptation of Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire, are actually good friends.

    Valkyrie, shot on a budget of $75 million, has currently grossed well over $250 million worldwide. Kentuckian Tom continues to laugh all the way to the bank despite his detractors.

    Tuesday, August 25, 2009

    Middletown's First Gas Station

    From our Whitewashed Windows and Vacant Stores blog:

    Here's an example of a nice old abandoned building that someone actually did the right thing with.

    Originally this was an Aetna gas station (in those days Aetna was an oil company, not an insurance firm) and later a Deem station, which was the forerunner of today's J.F. Deem Oil & Gas. It was Middletown's very first gas station.

    According to the sign out front, after the 1930s the building went through other tenants such as Wright's Dry Cleaners, a taxicab company, and the Middletown Medical Center (must have been just an info kiosk - I don't see what else a medical center could do with this building that's smaller than my living room), then ended up in the city's hands in 1996. The building was restored to some semblance of its 1920s-30s glory and today it stands empty but impressive, as a sort of museum exhibit unto itself.

    This mummified gas station can be found at the corner of Main Street and Harrison Avenue in downtown Middletown.

    Mark's Pig

    It's another sighting of one of those black-and-white concrete pigs, identical to the ones spotted at Joe's Older Than Dirt Diner in Lyndon and Ole Hickory Pit Barbecue. Somewhere, there must be something like "Crazy Clyde's Barbecue Restaurant Supply, Inc." that all these places are getting their pigs from.

    Monday, August 24, 2009

    Haunts of Old Louisville

    Just received this press release from our pal David Dominé in the mail today:

    David Domine's Fourth Book Is Released

    McClanahan Publishing House is pleased to announce the publication of David Domine's fourth book, HAUNTS OF OLD LOUISVILLE: Gilded Age Ghosts and Haunted Mansions in America's Spookiest Neighborhood. This is the third volume in the popular “Haunted Old Louisville” series, and there are two more yet to come. David’s first book, GHOSTS OF OLD LOUISVILLE: True Stories of Hauntings from America's Largest Victorian Neighborhood, became something of a local phenomenon after its release in 2005 when Publishers Weekly picked up on its unusually high sales numbers and reported nation-wide that “something downright spooky” was happening in Louisville. In its first year alone it saw three printings and sold over 10,000 copies, making David one of the most successful authors of non-fiction in the state. In 2008, his books were featured in the October edition of Southern Living in conjunction with the ghost tours and history and architecture tours he started to promote heritage tourism in Old Louisville, one of the largest historic preservation districts in the nation. David’s stories are unique in that he uses reportedly true tales of hauntings to inform readers about the hidden past that surrounds them.

    The release of HAUNTS OF OLD LOUISVILLE was celebrated on August 22 during an autograph party at the Inn at the Park in Old Louisville but a series of book signings has been planned over the next few months. The first official signing will be held at the Frankfort Avenue Carmichael’s at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 3.

    BGAD in LA Times

    The Los Angeles Times has a new and extensive article on the rapidly corroding nerve gas cannisters at Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond. In addition to the chemical dump, the BGAD is also home to alleged UFO technology, spooky Raytheon projects, and the occasional black helicopter. Choice excerpts:

    Behind armed guards in bulletproof booths deep in the Kentucky woods, workers have begun pouring the foundations for a $3-billion complex designed to destroy America's last stockpile of deadly chemical weapons.

    The Obama administration has pushed to speed up the disposal operation after decades of delay, skyrocketing costs and daunting technical problems. The arms must be destroyed by April 2012 under international treaty and by December 2017 under federal law. But the Pentagon notified Congress in May that, even under what it called an accelerated schedule, it would not finish the job until 2021...

    "We do experience leakers from time to time at very, very low levels," said Lt. Col. David Musgrave, commander of the Blue Grass Chemical Activity, as the storage site is called. He said no toxic plumes have escaped the igloos or threatened the surrounding community...

    Concerns about safety at Blue Grass were highlighted last month when lawyers for Donald Van Winkle, a former chemical weapons monitor who claims he was forced out of his job at the facility after he uncovered unsafe conditions, obtained an Army investigative report through the Freedom of Information Act...

    Another self-described whistle-blower, Kim Schafermeyer, 59, alleged he was fired as a chemist in 2006 in retaliation for citing safety and pollution problems at Blue Grass. A judge dismissed his lawsuit last year on a technicality.

    Schafermeyer contends that the aging munitions are decomposing faster than officials admit. "They are highly unstable," he said. "These things should be destroyed next week."

    Read the article in full here.

    By the way, in the above photo, note that the BGAD igloo workers have gas masks strapped to their faces but their rest of the flesh on their heads remains exposed to the open air. But nerve gas is readily absorbed through the skin with even the slightest contact, so, uh, WTF?

    Sqecial Media Photo

    Our recent post about Sqecial Media lacked an image of the building's exterior. Dutiful UnK reader JLK has submitted one, taken in 2002 during the store's 30-year anniversary celebration.

    Sunday, August 23, 2009

    Prisoners Burn Northpoint

    Friday night, a riot erupted at Burgin's Northpoint Prison, resulting in four injured and the building moderately damaged by fire. According to the Associated Press, "Officials would not say what caused the rioting".

    According to a reader post made to a WLEX-TV news report:

    "I have a brother there. I spoke with him at approx. 8 o'clock an he described it as hell breaking loose. It seems that the inmates that have become irate are angry because they feel that the eating conditions are deplorable which are causing the inmates to become sick. however the alternative is to purchase their food from the canteen which is being raised constantly by it's vendor Aramark. Leaving the inmates unable to purchase the vending food and they are angry and hungry".

    The Danville Advocate-Messenger is reporting that the prison had been on lockdown since Tuesday, when one group of inmates assaulted two others. On Friday, some inmates started setting fires in trash cans as a sign of protest. It's also being reported that some prisoners were allowed to smoke cigarettes, and that this could also be blamed for their having access to matches. (Great. The anti-smoking fanatics among us will probably have a field day with that one.)

    Interestingly, it's being reported that the kitchen and canteen were totally destroyed, and that it seemed to be the centerpiece of the arson attack. This may or may not lend credence to that WLEX reader comment about the riot being related to intolerable food quality. Still other sources are claiming the melee was racially motivated.

    Northpoint has a pretty interesting history. According to their website's "About us" page, it was originally constructed as the Kentucky state mental hospital. In 1941, the Pentagon assumed control of the facilities and made it a military institution for Army soldiers suffering from psychiatric illness. Towards the close of the war, the site became a compound to contain Nazi POWs, probably including some for Operation Paperclip, a then-classified program to recruit Nazis into service for our own military-industrial complex. The Government renamed the site "Darnell Hospital" for their purposes, not sure why.

    The Kentucky Department of Corrections took control of the property (which consists of 551 acres and approximately 50 buildings) in 1983 and it became Northpoint, a medium-security institution with a stated capacity of 1,256 inmates.

    I'm also a little confused about the prison's whereabouts. News stories alternately refer to it as being in Burgin or Danville, and Google Maps actually lists it as being in both. Northpoint's website gives their address as being 710 Walter Reed Road in Burgin, yet Google Maps clearly shows that 710 Walter Reed Road is actually at a halfway point between the two, closer to Faulconer. Chalk it up to vaguely-defined rural boundaries, I reckon.

    There's a cemetery on Northpoint's sprawling grounds, dating back to the Darnell days. According to findagrave, only two of the graves are identified with names and dates, and that there used to be an abandoned cremation oven on the premises until approximately 1982. From geneaological records, we do know some of the names of the many people interred here, which findagrave also has available here.

    Signs Like This

    What's worse than plastic signs littering our state?

    Plastic signs that try to sell you MORE PLASTIC SIGNS.

    Sorry about your signs, plasticmongers, but I took them all down. But hey, here's free advertising on my blog. No, no, don't thank me, it's all in a day's work.

    Saturday, August 22, 2009

    Dannie Boy Edwards

    Uh-oh. The strange saga of Edward W. Edwards continues: enter stage left, Dannie Boy Edwards.

    Sheriff Dan McClelland of Geauga County, OH, has announced his intention to further question Edward Wayne Edwards regarding the 1997 death of one Dannie Boy Edwards. His dead body was found near the Cleveland-area home that he and Edward shared in 1997.

    McClelland was quoted by UPI as saying, "He's (been) a person of interest since the onset of the case. He was questioned back then. He was not arrested. He was a person of interest because of the relationship that existed between the two."

    And exactly was kind of relationship was that?

    Well, Dannie Boy Edwards, 25, was actually named Dannie Law Gloeckner. At some point while he and Edward were living together, he legally changed his last name to take on Edward's surname and, most curiously, to change his middle name to "Boy". According to WISN-TV:

    Ohio investigators watched news of Edwards' arrest and recognized the man. He had left town in 1997, shortly after the homicide of a young man he'd treated like a son.

    "There was an attempt to take the young man in. He became very close to the family. They talked about adopting but that was not allowed, and the victim changed his given name to Edwards' last name," Geauga County, Ohio Sheriff's Department Sgt. Brian Johnston said.

    Shortly after Dannie Boy Gloeckner changed his name to Dannie Boy Edwards, he was found dead from a shotgun wound to the head.

    Immediately after Dannie's murder, Ed packed up and quietly left town.

    And that's not the only new corpse to come out of the woodwork since Ed was nabbed for the murders of Kelly Drew and Tim Hack. From WISN again:

    Last month, Hack's father suggested there might be other victims.

    "He's going to be connected with something else along the same lines. He was a no good," Hack said.

    Earlier this month, Portland, Ore., prosecutors said they'd revisit the 1960 case of another pair of slain young lovers.

    Edwards was an early suspect in that case, and made the FBI's most wanted list when he escaped from jail while awaiting questioning on the case.

    That pair of Portland young lovers would be Larry Peyton and Beverly Ann Warren. Peyton's body was found with multiple stab wounds in a park in November 1960 and his girlfriend Beverly's turned up two months later, hidden in another location and also stabbed to death.

    Edwards was being held for questioning regarding those murders, but he escaped from jail. This is the incident he was referring to in his book Metamorphosis of a Criminal. What I can't figure out is how he continued to go on about his life, still using his unusual real name, and openly bragging about the incident in a book and a spoken-word record album, without anyone tracking him down. Ed wasn't just hiding in plain sight, he wasn't even hiding.

    And something tells me we've still just scraped the top of the bloody iceberg in the crazy world of Edward Edwards...

    Indigent Burials

    From USA Today:

    Kenton County, Ky., is expecting a record year of indigent burials. The 29 indigent burials as of Aug. 13 are more than double last year's total of 12, says Don Catchen, whose funeral home has the county contract for indigent burials.

    Catchen offers a minimal private funeral and cremation for $1,400.

    "With the economy being what it is, some of the lesser-income families … are barely surviving and they don't have any money to pay for even a minimum funeral service," he says.

    "I've had the (county) contract 14 years," he says, "and it's never been like this before."

    Friday, August 21, 2009

    Haunted Farm on eBay

    Get ready to whip out your checkbook: Someone named Lura Ketchledge is selling a Kentucky horse farm on eBay for a mere quarter of a millon dollars. She claims the farm is haunted but doesn't go into any specifics on the auction page about why she believes it to be so. From the auction's text:

    I know what you are thinking: everyone dreams of owning a real haunted horse farm! In this tough economy, it’s important to list all your home’s assets. What sets this horse farm apart from all the others is that it is haunted! Because I am telling the truth, I will be more than willing to take a Lie Detector Test at your expense, not mine. This is the real deal. In August, a team of paranormal investigators are scheduled to conduct an investigation.

    Yes, I have seen ghosts on more than one occasion on my farm but I think the word ‘ghost’ is a derogatory term. The politically correct name for the formally alive and recently dead is ‘Spirit’! The first time I saw a spirit or ghost I was a bit shaken. Over time, I have gotten used to and enjoyed their frequent visitations! I wish the ghosts would give me the lottery numbers, but so far they haven’t!

    Wait, the word "Ghost" is politically incorrect? Ooooookay then, that's certainly a new one on me. (Oddly, she herself uses the G-word on her own Google profile and on her website, both of which feature the prominent statement "It is my desire to find a literary agent and a publisher".)

    The eBay auction doesn't give much info about the farm's location, other than that it's in Salvisa - "18 minutes West of Lexington", she says. (Actually, it's more like 30.)

    See more images of the farm on Lura's photobucket account.

    Slick Rick's Fatal Attraction

    Words truly can't express just how little interest I have in modern commercial sports. And when it comes to basketball in particular, I not only don't care about it, I actively harbor some antipathy towards it.

    So it would take something pretty wacky to get me to write about Kentucky basketball on here - maybe like if Kyle Macy got a sex change operation, John Calipari was abducted by aliens (if only!), or if Rajan Rondo was proclaimed to be the 974th Living Eck Master.

    Well, something almost that weird happened. For those of you who haven't already heard the details too many times to count:

    Rick Pitino had sex with a woman in a restaurant - in a restaurant - subsequently gave her three grand for an abortion (even though no proof was offered that the baby was his), then had a secret meeting with her at the apartment of the team’s equipment manager, who would subsequently marry the woman and then divorce her.

    Got that so far? Okay. Then:

    The woman attempts to shake Pitino down for her silence on the matter for ten million dollars, new cars, and a house. Pitino decides being blackmailed is not such a good idea, and calls the cops on the extortionist instead. (I can imagine her stunned and stammering "w-w-what?? that wasn't supposed to happen!") Flailing in desperation, she tells police that Pitino had actually raped her on not one, but two occasions. Pitino maintains the sex was consensual.

    In other words, it's your typical southern trailer-park feud drama, just played out in Brooks Brothers suits and bad Derby hats instead of NASCAR sleeveless t-shirts and Daisy Dukes.

    Strangely, some members of the public are holding Pitino up to greater scorn than Sypher, which is puzzling to me. Pitino has led a very successful and productive life in many, many fields besides sports, and to turn on him over a dalliance that occurred years ago and isn't anyone's business anyway, well, that's just petty. Rick Pitino is still a role model and a hero.

    Attack of the Killer Waynes

    That man! Accused murderer and noted Grimace impersonator Edward Wayne Edwards made it to the News of the Weird this week. Someone with Aspergerian attention for detail noticed that apparently "Wayne" tends to be a classic middle name for murderers:

    Arrested recently and awaiting trial for murder: Jerry Wayne Damron, Taylorsville, N.C. (July); Edward Wayne Edwards, Louisville, Ky. (August); Anthony Wayne Thomas, Orlando, Fla., (June); Travis Wayne Baczewski, Austin, Texas (July). Indicted recently for murder: Heath Wayne Overstreet, Roanoke, Va. (July); John Wayne Boyer, Nashville, Tenn. (August); David Wayne Hoshaw, Norfolk, Va. (August); Kenneth Wayne Baker, Churchville, Va. (July). Federal appeal of murder conviction denied: Mark Wayne Wiles, Ravenna, Ohio (August). Sentenced for murder: Carl Wayne Bowen, Swansea, Wales (July). And, alas, comes word from Caroline County, Va., that John Wayne Peck, who made this list upon his arrest in 2007 for murder, was found not guilty by a jury (July).

    Immediately John Wayne Gacy comes to mind, as well as (dis-)honorable mention to Wayne Williams. One could go quite mad pondering Wayneness.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009

    Allman's Beer Cheese

    Beer cheese lovers and Boonesboro historians rejoice! The ghost of the birthplace of beer cheese, Johnny Allman's Restaurant, comes back to haunt the 21st century, thanks to Johnny's grandson Ian and the original formula for Johnny's historic beer cheese.

    That's right, you heard right, Allman's Beer Cheese is back! According to their website:

    Johnny Allman began his historical restaurant career in the late 1930's on the banks of the Kentucky river near Boonesborough. After retiring as a captain in the Kentucky Highway Patrol (and personal aid to two Kentucky governors) , he opened his first restaurant, The Driftwood Inn. It was here that Johnny and his cousin Joe developed the first batch of beer cheese ever made.

    Johnny moved his site of operation to the site of present day Hall's Restaurant in the early 1940's and after a while sold the business to Carl Johnson. Upon the sale, he agreed to stay out of the restaurant business on the river for five years. During this time away from the river he opened The Smokehouse on US 25 in Madison county near the Blue Grass Army Depot during the Korean War. After that location he moved to North Broadway in Lexington to open an Allman's Restaurant during the construction of IBM. He again sold that restaurant and moved for the last time back to the Kentucky river and built on a site located between his two previous locations. Johnny ran this last Allman's Restaurant until 1978 when the business burned and he retired. The last genuine Allman's beer cheese was served at this location.

    In the past thirty-odd years many versions of beer cheese have popped up on store shelves and on the tables of regional restaurants. But now, "the beer cheese that started it all" is available again in its original unaltered recipe made by Johnny's grandson Ian Allman. Thirty years hasn't changed a thing. Allman's Beer Cheese is owned and operated by Ian Allman and his wife Angie who reside in Rockcastle County.

    This is a brand-new product launch, so distribution is just getting started. Right now it's only available at Better Beef on Chestnut St. in Berea, but I expect that's all about to change shortly. I haven't tried it yet, but am eager to get my hands of a tub of it and will no doubt be raving about it here soon.