March 3, 2015

What We Know about the New HBO Show Featuring the Salem Witch Trials



People in Salem, MA are dying for more information about the new HBO Salem Witch Trials show. So far, we don't know much, but it's still enough to get excited. I should still probably calm down though.

Eddie Izzard

When I heard the top-notch English comedian Eddie Izzard was cast in the Jenji Kohan project, I knew he was going to be playing a villain and I am happy to announce that I was right! He will be playing Thomas Putnam, who many believe played a pivotal role in motivating and compelling the afflicted girls. This will be a great role for him, not just because every actor loves playing a bad guy, but because the uncompromising temperament of the Puritans is something that can come out in a character in a very subtle way that seems almost comedic. And knowing the feminist leanings of Kohan (creator of Orange is the New Black, and Weeds) and Izzard, we can only assume how the men in this show are going to be depicted - and rightly so, as the historical figures involved were not black-and-white "bad guys", but confused, ignorant, stubborn, complex characters. I think they know exactly what they're doing.

Jenji Kohan

The project, which so far is only a pilot being co-produced by HBO and Lionsgate doesn't have a name yet. First  it was being called "NEW WORLD" and now it is "THE DEVIL YOU KNOW". I'm not sure how this type of thing works, but I hope it gets more than a pilot, it sounds like a fantastic idea for a show, especially considering how hilariously bad WGN's Salem has been (don't get me wrong, I like watching it, but it's terrible). I've been able to obtain and read a synopsis of the pilot and, while the story certainly is not historically accurate, it seems to be a lot closer to what actually happened in 1692.

Gus Van Sant, will be directing. He's most well known for Good Will Hunting and Milk.

The role of Thomas Putnam's daughter, Ann, has also been cast and the tortured soul Mercy Lewis as well.

This is still in the very early stages and not something I should be freaking out about this much, but as with most things Salem related, I will be keeping on eye on how things progress and keeping you all updated - that is, if I can. You see, I also auditioned to be an extra in the show last week and I'm pretty sure if I get cast I am not allowed to talk about it anymore! Here's a picture of me at the casting call:

I might be a background Puritan!

January 24, 2015

Real Witches Use Eye of Newt and Tongue of Dog??

It's something most people hear about but never actually consider - if witches are real, do we actually use the strange ingredients you hear about in fairy tales and literature?

Should we lock up our pets?? What does this mean? WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!? :p

But seriously, Tom the Tour Guide explains:



That's right, no need to worry. In fact, I'm even a vegetarian witch and my black cat's name is Brachleagh! Here's a video of him being annoyed with me:




January 20, 2015

Why is Salem Called "The Witch City"?



Many people wonder, is there were no witches in 1692, why is Salem called "The Witch City"? Shouldn't we be "The Hysteria City"? It's a horrible thing to say, but instead of a witch flying across the moon on a broomstick, would it not be more appropriate for the symbol for our city to be a lady hanging from a tree?

To understand why real witches are in Salem we first have to understand how we became known as "The Witch City".




January 11, 2015

Ancient Gods and the Names for the Days of the Week


Salem 2014: The Witch City's Year in Photos

SALEM 2014


2014 was fantastic for Salem and I figured the best way to commemorate the year was to compile my favorite moments using photos rather than a crappy top ten list! I know everyone hates reading and "has ADD" these days so lets get right to it!

Salem in the Media!

The promotional posters for WGN's SALEM are cooler than the actual show

The most prominent mention of Salem in the media for the year was related to the new show on WGN, which was by most accounts a huge letdown. Honestly, my Salem witch friends and I like the show because we weren't expecting it to be historically accurate. I love the campiness. If you know it's all in fun and know what you're getting yourself into it's a decent show.

Why do animators always make the Puritans so adorable?

The second most popular mention of Salem in the media this year was definitely the cult game hit "Town of Salem". It's based on the "mafia" style game genre, which is reminiscent of Clue or other murder mystery games. To be honest, the setting of the game is completely incidental and irrelevant, but it's still cool that it's set in Salem. There are two other video games set in Salem that people were playing in 2014, and neither of them were particularly popular or groundbreaking, Murdered: Soul Suspect by Square-Enix was a terrible letdown.

Why so serious?

And the most viral news story of 2014 was the sensationalist headline of a grave digger in Salem's oldest cemetery. In this picture from the cover of The Salem News you can see by his expression that dude thinks all the media attention was hilarious. His story was that he was only trying to perform amateur archaeological excavation on two gravestone submerged beneath the soil that he alleged are his ancestors. "Yep, he's probably just insane" we all said. Well, it turns out we should all feel bad for laughing at the guy, his mother said in an interview that he's literally schizophrenic and she had been trying to get him involuntarily committed for years because he wouldn't take his medication. Yikes. 


What's been banished and what's sacred space?

The end of an era

Everyone loved the big stacks and piles of books in Derby Square Bookstore, but anyone that spent any time in there could tell it was long overdue for an update - some of those stacks of books were kind of gross and smelly... To fill the void Wicked Good Books opened, and I have only heard good things about them.

Coven's Cottage opening day.

Pagan Moon opening day.

Here are two of the new witch shops that opened on Essex street this year, The Coven's Cottage and Pagan Moon. I think that makes 7 authentic witchcraft stores within about a quarter mile. They're all doing very well and, if you ask me, the success of the stores on Essex street can be attributed not just to a general rise in tourism during the off-season, but a rising trend of interest in western paganism.

Another place locals are very sad is closing.

Penelope's Pet Boutique is closing which is disappointing because they have the largest selection of dog Halloween costumes in the city. Sure there are other pet shops in town, but this one has become a staple.

Celebrity Salem!

This year, as always, we had lots of celebrities visiting Salem, here are just a few of my favorite!

Katy Perry came to Salem to take The Salem Witch Walk! Here she is with Salem witches Lorelei, Leanne, and Jody Cabot! (also the dogs Dolly, Chico, and Lucky!) She also went to The Salem Witch Museum.


Scottish actor Graham McTavish. He was in the area filming Disney's "The Finest Hour" with Chris Pine.


Ben Vereen was spotted on Essex street this September! 

If you're not a fan of musical theatre and dance, you might not understand why us drama geeks got so excited that Ben Vereen graced Salem with his almighty presence. 

Renee Zellweger with the guy fromthe cafe, Jaho. I couldn't figure out why she was in town, most likely just relaxing.

Boston celebrity Keytar Bear at Gulu Gulu in Salem!


OMG OMG IS IT REALLY HER!

And my favorite celebrity appearance in Salem this year was Elizabeth Warren, my champion. Obviously. Yes, this is me fanboying with her taking a selfie. Luckily, John from Creative Salem got a photo of the photo so I could create this meta collage. This is how the conversation went 

ME: "Hello, have you ever met a Salem witch before?"

HER: (Smiling and noddling excitedly) "Well, no, I have not!"

ME: "Well now you have, let's take a selfie!"

Her: "OK!"

It was basically the highlight of my life even though I was slightly disappointed she was here to endorse the old Democrat guy rather than the new progressive guy, but it's cool because he won anyways. 

My Favorite Police Logs

Presented without comment, here are my three favorite police log entries from Salem this year!




Vampire Steve and the Street Preachers

Vampire Steve being fucking badass.

Most local's favorite story of the year was the turf feud between the street preachers and street performers. The basic gist of the feud is that street performers have to pay the city for licensing and have always been good about developing good relationships with the residents and business owners in the area, whereas the street preachers don't need to pay, and constantly harass people and cause problems. It's not a matter of free speech, the street preachers can say whatever they want, the issue is that they are rude, loud, offensive, and they create an atmosphere of anarchy in the already busy streets.

Vampire Steve became somewhat of a hero of Essex street by standing his ground and telling them off multiple times. He's not a hero though, he's just out there trying to live his life and be a fucking awesome vampire smoking cigarettes and making witty remarks. Also worth noting, he has gotten many nicknames in town and there seems to be some confusion about his costume - which is his own take on Mr. Barlow from Salem's Lot.

Anyways, this one guy who likes to create videos got a couple of really good moments that are worth mentioning. Here is his video of Vampire Steve righteously telling off a preacher, for more check out his Youtube channel.

Historic Renovations

Many of the important historical sites around the city have been getting repairs this year, too many to document. 


Working on Salem's City Hall

The city wanted to get rid of it, but people raised their voices and the town square fountain sculpture was instead fixed up and made smaller so it wouldn't keep getting in the way of emergency and delivery vehicles. Locals are worried it's just another step towards Essex street becoming less pedestrian.

Other Noteworthy Moments

Salem witch trials historian Marilynne Roach was on The Daily Show and when the Salem Witch Museum posted about it look what picture came up. LOL Sorry, I'm wicked immature sometimes.


I asked Vampire Steve to pose next to an antique car during the show on Essex street.

Motorcycles completely taking over Derby street during this October's Halloween Witch Ride for the MDA.

Lorelei, Christian Day and his new husband Brian looking wicked cool posing for a photographer from The Boston Globe this October. Moments after this picture was taken oneof the dogs started barking and freaking out, gotta love chihuahuas! 

A decent turnout for a march and candlelight vigil in honor of Mike Brown and other black lives lost to police violence. 

So what did I miss? Too much has been happening  for me to even keep track. It's been a great year for the city and 2015 is looking to be even better!

December 19, 2013

The Internet is Saying "Witches are the new Vampires"





We finally have a teaser trailer for WGN's new series, SALEM. 

The show got funded straight to it's first season without a pilot and is WGN's first original series so it might be a little budget, but it sure looks like they're putting a lot of time and energy into it. They are filming on a set designed to look like 17th century Salem built like a ghost town in Shreveport, LA. There's a cemetery, public square, church, and of course, the gallows. Its located on the Red River, which apparently is a great place to film scenes of accused witches being dunked.




With Salem witches playing a prominent role in shows like 'American Horror Story: Coven' and two separate reality shows in production focusing on the lives of average witches in The Witch City, it's starting to get a little crazy. Articles around the internet are saying things like "Witches are the new vampires!" But is it just a fad?

There are two different production companies trolling Craigslist, Reddit, etc. looking for local witches for reality shows, of course trying to stay ahead of the curve and ride the wave of the trend. Unfortunately, like most reality shows, they have a warped and idealized view about what exactly they want to film, asking for replies only from young women.

I wish I had the means to produce a documentary show about Salem, there's so much real magic and so many hilarious people to focus on, but what the '"reality show" types don't understand is that an authentic and intelligent show has a much more dedicated demographic - nerds. Sure, the assholes from Duck Dynasty can make lots of money really fast, but it's fleeting. Real success comes only from the types of dedicated fans that appreciate not being pandered  to. IMHO.



Even Jenji Kohan, creator of Netflix's 'Orange is the New Black', and Showtime's 'Weeds' is developing a new untitled drama for HBO based on the Salem witch trials and with the insane critical and commercial success of those two shows, it's hard to imagine that her show is going to be anything but amazing. It's also worth noting that, while WGN's show claims to involve the supernatural, it seems so far that Kohan's Salem is being toted as 'drama', so here's hoping it will be a completely different angle than what we are used to. 

Here's the teaser trailer: