Millersburg Brewing Co. - Pope's Imperial Pumpkin Ale

We're back with another seasonal pumpkin beer ready to face our dreaded Drunken Jackos rating scale! But this time we have a slight surprise!!

Today's review will not be done by yours truly, but rather an old face familiar in the early days of this blog - my good brother, Scrapes!

It's been a while since he's thrown down some words around here, but he's still an active member of the yard haunt, so I'll be nice and throw him a bone every once in a while.

This particular beer is one that has been on my radar this season, only I hadn't had a chance to get to it yet. I'm quite curious to hear a review on this one, so take it away, Scrapes!!

Brewery: Millersburg Brewing Co. – Millersburg, OH
Brew: Pope’s Imperial Pumpkin – Ale Brewed with Pumpkin & Spices
Cajones: 9.0% ABV
Cost of Entry: 12 oz. can 4 pack: $9.99

Prior to moving into my dorm at Kent State University in 1996, Mom was in charge of outfitting me with all the dorm things I would need such as clean sheets, a shower caddy (?), an ungodly amount of Ramen noodles, and most memorably, a tiny little refrigerator.  

Faced with a wood-grained decal, that fridge has withstood the various stages of my adult life and today it serves handily as my basement beer fridge. Oh, and that little dial inside that controls the temperature got lost during those crazy college days (ok, it was one year, and then I was placed on academic probation), and I believe the fridge is permanently set to “Icelandic,” which I like.  

And so it has become an annual fall tradition, stocking that tiny fridge with a few different pumpkin ales. I snatched up this 4 pack from my local grocer. It’s malty and sweet whether enjoyed from the can or from a glass. I’m not too experienced with describing all the phases and food groups of beer tasting. There is a hint of spice and vanilla, and when I drink it, I smile and usually have another.  

I could compare this to another of my local pumpkin ale favorites, Fat Head’s Brewery’s Spooky Tooth.  Both are sold in 4-packs, and pack a wallop at 8%-9% ABV. I’ve seen Pope’s at numerous Akron-area beer sellers over the past few fall seasons, so if I were to give this beer an availability rating, I would say 8 out of 10.  

Looking the can, we see Wild Rosie, the smiling horse in a jack-o-lantern disguise. What do you know about Millersburg? What I know is that it is smack dab in the middle of Ohio’s Amish/farming community, dotted with rolling hills and undulating corn fields (where are there are no Ramen noodles found for miles). This unique setting lends a little mystique to the brewery and the beer. Pope’s Imperial Pumpkin easily scores a 4.5 out of 5 on the Drunken Jackos scale. 

So there you have it! A bold review by brother Scrapes! And with a rating THAT high, it looks like I'm running out to the local grocery store to score a 4 pack of this immediately!!


Recap: Haunt Acting At The Haunted Schoolhouse

When I was 16 and briefly living in Plano, Texas, my friends and I decided to take our love of haunted houses to the next level. For years we had gone to local haunted houses in both Ohio and then in Texas, but we finally decided to take the next step and actually act in one!

A friend had gotten word that a local haunt in Plano (I can't remember the name, as it was way back in 1989), was opening and needed volunteer actors. So we jumped at the chance and hurriedly sped across town to get in on the action. Upon arriving, we met up with the people running the haunt, letting them know we were ready to go. They asked if we had brought any masks or costumes...

Of course we had nothing, figuring that everything would be supplied. I was one of the last volunteers to get assigned, and I remember the one thing they had left for me to use. A single flashlight. What the hell was I supposed to do with that??

So I grabbed the flashlight and unenthusiastically took my place in a dark corner. I realized that I needed to act fast to come up with a way to be scary. Even with nothing more than a flashlight.

It was at that point, even at my young age, that I realized that fear was already on my side. Patrons were already terrified, so I just had to keep the fright going until the next scene. As each person would walk through my darkened section, I would quickly flash the light on, pointing the light upward on my contorted face, then quickly turn it back off again, disappearing back into total darkness. The uplighting created unnatural and creepy shadows across my face and provided a quick jump scare with a simple growl or grunt. No mask or costume needed. It didn't work with every person that came through, but I still managed to get a few good scares.

I only volunteered one night at that haunt, as the prospect of bringing all of my own costuming or getting stuck with only a flashlight didn't appeal to me back then.

But fast forward about 15 years, and as I was becoming a home haunter back in Ohio, my one night of acting in a low budget Texas haunt became quite relevant again.

As I developed my home haunt and subsequently my acting within it, I thought back to that one night in Texas and what I had to do with so little available to me. It wasn't about what you had, but how you presented it that really made it scary. I eventually developed an acting style, gathering techniques and mannerisms that would really get the most scares.

Every Halloween, I would shamble around the haunt and eventually up and down the entire street, spreading fear to both trick-or-treaters and their parents. As the years went on, I began to think again about taking it to the next level...

Fast forward again to 2019, and I finally had the chance. In hanging out recently with my good friend Dave from Closed Casket Studios AND Akron's legendary (and still my favorite) Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory, he proposed that I come and guest act for a weekend. I couldn't believe it. I had to play it cool and tell him that I'd think about it, even though I was jumping up and down inside my head with such an opportunity presenting itself.

I had been going to the Schoolhouse and Laboratory since about 1986 or '87, when we would beg our parents to drive us down for a visit each October. Back then, we'd get the Friday section in the local newspaper and just ogle at the amazing black-and-white ads for all of the local haunted houses. But the ad I remember most was that iconic grim reaper inviting me to the Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory.

And after two years of living in Texas, it was one of the first haunts that I went back to. It holds such nostalgia for me, and I still go back each year.

A great old tv spot for the Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory, featuring legendary Cleveland late-night hosts, Big Chuck and Little John. And if you listen very carefully, you'll hear the classic "Chamber of Horrors" novelty cassette audio playing in the background, which you can actually get right here!!

So with this past weekend being Sweetest Day, they were expecting massive crowds and would need all the help they could get. I grabbed a costume and a mask (because this time a simple flashlight just wasn't going to cut it), and got ready to go. I was going to be a queue line actor for both Friday and Saturday night. I was a bit nervous, but I was a lot excited. I was finally going to get the chance to test my skills at the pro level.

I showed up on Friday night, found Dave, got a really quick tour, and got ready. The costume I was going with was my flesh-faced plague doctor, complete with the lantern staff that I made a few years ago for an MHC Masquerade Ball. I put on the costume, threw on the mask with one colored contact lens, took a deep breath, and was ready to go.

The "Plague Of The Flesh" character, and the lantern staff from my original 2017 MHC costume.

I got to sit in on the pre-haunt meeting and hang out with a few of the regular actors. And after a quick pep talk, we were released upon the masses...

As soon as I made my way toward the people already lined up to get in, it felt like a switch had been thrown. I immediately got into my haunt character and began menacing the crowd. It felt totally normal and comfortable. And it felt fun!

For 5 plus hours, I strolled the midway, scaring and chasing some patrons, while getting my picture taken with many, many others. I felt like a kid on Halloween again.

By the end of the night, I did feel pretty beat. Achy back, achy arms, and achy feet. But it was still so much fun. I drove straight home to bed, as I would need all of my energy and stamina for Saturday night, which was already shaping up to be an even bigger night...

The next night, I arrived to a palpable buzz. A huge crowd was expected and rumors of attendance records were already being talked about. A long night was ahead of me but I was ready to go. I again got into character, ready to be unleashed again.

This time, it was a non-stop flood of patrons. Lines quickly stretched through the midway, out the gate and deep into the parking lot. It was absolute mayhem. But I loved every single second of it. I canvassed the crowd with the other queue line actors the entire night getting screams, laughs and pictures all along the way. It was nonstop, but I had so much fun.

As the night eventually crept past 6 hours, my old body began to slow down and the aches and pains from the previous night had returned in full force. We eventually ushered the last guests into the Schoolhouse just after 1:30 in the morning. I sat down with a few of the other actors at the bar, did a quick congratulatory shot, and called it a night.

After all was said and done, Saturday night's crowd broke their all-time attendance record, and I was incredibly happy to be a small part of it all. A little dream of being a pro haunt actor, even for two nights, had been fulfilled and I was ecstatic.

I want to thank Dave and Katie for allowing me to come act at my favorite haunted house ever. Although it was actually hard on the body, I had an absolutely great time and would love the chance to do it again if you ever need me.

I also want to give high fives to Mrs. Alvah, Patient Zero, and Dr. Guggenheim, my fellow queue line actors for having me along and making it so much fun. You guys killed it all weekend!!

With this new haunt acting experience under my belt, I can't wait to unleash it all again come trick-or-treat night in my brand new neighborhood. But beware neighbors, because I'm coming with more than just a single flashlight this time...


Windfall Cemetery - Medina, Ohio

With just a few hours to spare, I'm in with another Cemetery Sundays post, where I roam the local cemeteries with my camera, documenting the beautifully ornate epitaphs and tombstones contained within.

This week I visited Windfall Cemetery, another cemetery discovered by pure luck while out on a bike ride through the area around my new home. It's another of the many really small, very local plots with many of the graves dating back to the early to mid-1800s.

I got up just before dawn, camera at the ready, and parked just outside the small cemetery located on a back road not 10 minutes from my house. I quickly swept across the small plot, documenting the surprising amount of really great old tombstones within the fallen leaves and overgrowth. As the sun began to peak through the morning clouds, I was able to capture the beauty of these somewhat hidden gems, making this one of the cooler little cemeteries that I have visited.

So as always, sit back, relax, and enjoy my photos from Windfall Cemetery...

Be sure to stop by next Sunday for the final installment of Cemetery Sundays for 2019!


T.S.O.L. - "Silent Scream"

I'm the cobwebbed stairs, the ancient bones
I'm the shadow rippling cobblestones
I'm the stagnant swamp, the black lagoon
I'm the branches scratching at the moon
I'm the funeral service, the unknown mourner
I'm the demon cowering in the corner
I'm the sexton's spade, the new thrown clay
I'm what's left when they walk away
I'm the ebony coffin, satin lining
Pale thin lips in the back room dying
Pale thin lips in the back room dying

I'm the walking dead, the fly by night
I'm the last of the fading light
In the unbarred door, the open encasement
I'm the stairs leading down to the basement
The four post bed, the let down hair
I'm the cross that you forgot to wear
I'm the highest voltage, the shining slab
The crack of midnight in the doctor's lab
I'm the night before, the morning after
Echoing of the baron's laughter
Echoing of the baron's laughter

I'm Jonathan Harker, I'm Lucy's trance
Elegant count's hypnotic glance
I'm the wooden mallet, the sharpened stake
I'm the precautions you forgot to take
I'm the mummy's curse, the passing bell
I'm the fortune they wouldn't tell
I'm pyromania, Transylvania
I'm out of breath, I'm worse than death
I'm the late night air, exhilarating
I'm with you in the darkness, waiting

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Highbury, The Pro Haunt Actor?

Yes, after many years of going back and forth on the idea, I am finally getting my chance so I am jumping in and going for it. Tonight, I will get to add "pro haunt actor" to my Halloween resume while guest acting at Akron's legendary Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory

I am a bit nervous, but super excited for the opportunity, and the 13-year-old in me is absolutely giddy. The Schoolhouse is a haunt that I have been going to regularly since that first trip back in 1986 or 87 and the idea of actually working there has been a little fantasy of mine since then. I just never followed up on it due to being so busy with the yard haunt each October.

But with a little free time this year, the chance to act was presented to me and I am taking it. I can hardly wait for tonight! I've got my costume ready to go and I am already a nervous ball of energy. Just a full day of work to get through, first...

So if you're anywhere near the Akron, Ohio area with nothing to do this weekend, come visit me (The Plague Of The Flesh) and the rest of the ghastly ghoulies at the Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory. I will be queue line acting tonight AND Saturday night, and I will be ready to scare the YELL out of you!!


"Sounds of Halloween" Cassette

Somehow we are already into our third weekend in October, and we're starting it off with another Freebie Friday! As with every Friday throughout October, I scour my collection of vintage novelty Halloween records and cassettes and then share them with all of you.

This time around, we have Distribution Madacy Inc's Canadian novelty gem from 1998, Sounds of Halloween.

Warning: This Cassette Is Not To Be Listened To In The Dark. Listen To This Cassette At Your Own Risk!

Sounds That Will Keep You And Your Children On The Edge Of Your Seat During Parties Or On Dark Stormy Nights.

"Spine Chilling" / "Hair Raising" / "Heart Pounding" Sound Effects

Instantly, with warnings like these, Sounds of Halloween completely hits the mark for me. Another in a long line of novelty releases with crazy, over-the-top warning labels, coupled with some really great cover illustration work. In researching this release, I actually found out that they put some effort into this, releasing at least three different covers: the cat & pumpkin (this one), a skull pumpkin & deranged hospital worker, and a really great pumpkin & haunted house.

They also had another similar release called Halloween Tricks & Treats, although it looks like it has slightly different tracks including a full-length Halloween story. And if it has anywhere near the quality that this release has, it is going on my want list right now!

Sounds of Halloween has your standard collection of Halloween sounds including thunder and rain, howling winds, snarling wolves, church bells, a pissed off cat, rattling chains, a few "borrowed" screams and laughter, creaking floors and doors, some weird and random space noises, a REALLY cool organ, and a few other odd sounds thrown in for good measure. But the production quality is higher than average and has a surprisingly full sound to it.

It's a fun, continuous 18-minute mix that hits the sweet spot for the nostalgic sounds of Halloween. The only drawback is that the same track is repeated on side two, robbing the listener of another potential 18 minutes of ghastly greatness!