Friday, December 18, 2009
One of my favorite things about Christmas is Charles Dickens' novella "A Christmas Carol" and the countless artistic expressions it has produced. Not only does it give me an excuse to leave the window gels of ghosts up around the bathroom mirror-- "They're the ghosts of Christmas past," I tell my family and guests-- but the story masterfully blends the meaning of this season with a superb ghost story.
Last night in Borders, I came across this picture book version of "A Christmas Carol." Brett Helquist is the illustrator, who is famous for his illustrations of the "Lemony Snickett" books. I did not buy a copy, but sorely want to, if only for the image of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come: the classic, faceless grim reaper, with old Christmas lights and dead wreaths robed about him. The illustration of the Ghost which most affected me, in the graveyard with Scrooge, is not on Helquist's blog, but a later piece of art with the ghost is.
I find this piece depicting the ghost of Christmas Past to be particularly striking. The fading ghost of memory leaving; bright and fading, never able to be touched again.
All images from Brett Helquist's blog.
Friday, December 4, 2009
So. I plan on updating more frequently beginning this month, continuing to post things relative and relevant to the season. And next Halloween I do plan on updating at least once a day. I've learned a lot, but knowing know how it is and where I've been.... I am so ready for next Halloween. I have a list of projects I'll be tackling soon, and the details and progression will appear here.
But for now, perhaps I should finish off packing all of this year's decorations away. I have been putting things in a spare bedroom, quickly becoming known as the "Halloween room," which may or may not truly be haunted. I just have to pack them all safely, and in a well-organized, away. Which I will do. Shortly. At least the front of the house and windows are all taken down, and now my partner's Christmas things are going up all around...
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Just saw this over at The Halloween Tree, one of Google's Banner decorations for the past 2009 season, and it tickled what I like to refer to as my "Halloween bone." A lovely, charming little snapshot of what the holiday means to me.
It's a shame I didn't get to see this when it was up and being used. Check out more banner designs over at The Halloween Tree here.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
It's finally here! All the jack o' lanterns are carved, the decorations up, John Carpenter's "Halloween" playing... And outside it's dreary, rainy, windy and wonderful. I am, however, trying to figure out how to put Spirit Halloween Vampire teeth on that come with no instructions. Perhaps that will be a future blog post... but no negativity today!
Wishing you and yours a wonderfully wicked and spooky All Hallow's Eve!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
By Edgar Allan Poe
From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Thank goodness (or, wickedness?) that Michael Dougherty's "Trick R Treat" has finally been released to the masses. It is now cliche to say so, but in a horror film market so saturated with the latest Saw installment and remake, I do not understand why a film of such quality, like "Trick R Treat," has to wait two years to receive a direct-to-video release. Having said that, I will now descend my soapbox to tell you what I think of this film.
See it. This is the kind of Halloween movie we have been waiting for: a movie actually about Halloween. I like to think that this is what John Carpenter might have had in mind when he decided to make Halloween III: The Season of the Witch and have the Halloween series be about movies centered around October 31. In a way, this film makes films like the original (real) "Halloween" and "Creepshow" proud. "Trick R Treat's" narrative is over the top. You are bombarded by creepy scenarios, odd characters, murder and other things that go bump in the night like a bursting bowl of Halloween candy. A child murdering principle, a young girl named Laurie who does not seem to follow the rest of her peers, children telling ghost stories to each other and an old man being terrorized by a trick or treater. The interweaving stories do so smoothly, and the effect is an excellent over-the-top horror film. Yes, this is an instant seasonal classic. Every character is memorable, and the acting talent here-- Anna Paquin, Brian Cox-- is stellar. And I do believe we have a horror character here who belongs up alongside Michael, Jason, Chucky and Freedy in Sam.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Thank God that the Town Supervisor in Dunkard, Pennsylvania knows what is best for his town's residents. Local town officials have officially banned the practice of trick or treating in their town this October, and will host a 4 hour long Halloween party at a fire hall, instead.
Assistant Fire Chief David Pritchard, surprised at all the negative feedback from his and fellow officials' tyrannical actions, listed a series of recent break ins as a safety concern that factored into the Town's decision. Because, apparently, when the little ones go out trick or treating, they force their way into your house after you've given them candy and commit robberies. Pritchard is currently running unopposed for election this year-- let's hope that changes, the next time around.
From Dunkard local media coverage:
"Supervisors in Dunkard Township say they are taking the steps for safety reasons.
The party will be held at the Bobtown-Dunkard Volunteer Fire Station, but not everyone is pleased with the idea.
"When they try to take away trick-or-treating for our children, we have to step up and fight back," Parent Michael Skumlien told KDKA-TV.
"I think they're taking all the fun from our kids. This is a small town and our children need something," Freda Menear, a Bobtown grandparent, said.
Hannah, a student at Bobtown Elementary School, said all the kids she knew have been talking about it and are disappointed by the supervisors' decision."
Friday, October 9, 2009
Rain drops keep falling on my head, house and yard. It has rained, or been dangerously windy, each day here since October 1. This has obviously put a damper on my holiday spirits, as I have not been able to get out and tackle the front yard, and decorating the front porch. This morning, the weather looks almost certain to bring rain.
But, it is the weekend, and I will, come rain or shine, have more time to devote to putting up my cornstalks and outdoor decor-- in my rain coat, if need be.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I have to admit, this is the first year I have paid close attention to Martha Stweart's Halloween offerings. I broke down and bought her Halloween magazine (a hefty $7.95) a few weeks back. While I haven't gotten around to trying anything very substantial, I do admire her invite ideas (a pumpkin card with a top you pull out to reveal party details) and her pumpkin ice cream sandwiches , which I did try. My partner made some the other night- but substituted molasses cookies to sandwich in the pumpkin ice cream. (We'll be making some more of those very soon.)
There is some criticism of the magazine for not being entirely original. I cannot speak to that, but I can say that springing for the $7.95 is quite worth it. Where else can you find the idea of using a certain kind of cheese (with a vein-y appearance) for French onion soup as part of your Halloween meal? She also is offering a great website, in two parts: Halloween Central and the Halloween Party Shop. The Workshop section is even divided into a week-by-week plan for decor building and party planning.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Walgreens gets stellar remarks from yours truly this season. Over the last few years, the pharmacy and store has been extraordinarily good at offering a mix of costumes, candy, props and original decor.
With their Jack in the Box offering this year, they've out done themselves. This is a picture of the one I picked up for $14.99 last week. My black cat wouldn't let me take a picture without him-- and I think he adds a certain something to the photograph (although he is terrified of Jack once he pops out, like a moth to a scary flame.) I debated filming a video of what this guy does-- and what the child's voice says as you turn the crank-- but that would ruin all the surprise and fun. If you are able to get your hands on this guy, I strongly suggest picking him up. He is a very original and, yes, scary little Halloween item.
I haven't seen any more of him at local stores, and the consensus online is that once Walgreens sells out they do not reorder or stock items like him. At this time, I cannot find him on their website. On eBay, the going price at the moment seems to be $40.00.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
When Marshalls first put their Halloween decor on the shelves back in early August, I spotted what I, at the time, could only describe as a Halloween calendar. Apparently made of different cloths and felt, the calendar resembled a Christmas advent calendar that was part of my childhood- one with a pocket for each day, and as each day arrived, you would put a small Christmas mouse in that day's pocket.
But this calendar had a castle, bats flying around it, 31 days and a painted wooden piece of candy corn on a string for each day's pocket instead of a mouse.
Sadly, I decided I would pick the calendar up at a later date, closer to October-- and, of course, when I went back it was not there. Or at two other area stores.
I found it on eBay, only after being told on Halloween Forum to search for "Halloween Advent Calendar." I've seen this calendar going on the site for $22-$26, which is a good five or ten dollars more than it was in stores.
I did, however, find this 26 1/2" x 16" felt calendar, with an owl instead of a candy corn but a different holiday picture or design on each day's pocket, which I found for $17.99. I do like this one better; if only because there is far more going on.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
What would Halloween ever be without a little controversy?
This year, there appears to be some dispute growing within our own community of Halloween folks. Spirit Halloween has launched an Internet campaign and petition to change the official celebration of All Hallow's Eve from October 31 to the final Saturday in October, ever year. With Halloween finally on a Saturday again this year, the definite appeal of a Saturday celebration has, quite understandably, become something some Halloween fans do not want to give up. Personally, Halloween on a Saturday does contain many benefits weekday celebrations do not. Not everyone is off from work on Saturday, but being that I am, and many people are, I cannot wait to experience the day without having to go in to school or the office. From the time I wake up in the morning, I can focus all my energies on Halloween. And, on a Saturday, I do not have worry about staying up too late partying, watching scary movies and drinking (possibly hard) apple cider. Sunday can be spent sleeping in, recovering and for clean up. Not to mention the fact that one can go shopping for all the day after clearance sales without having to worry about going in to work.
Spirit does make some very valid arguments, the most valid of which appears to be the safety of kids trick or treating before dark. From their website:
"Saturday Halloween makes good sense.
- Saturday Halloween is more fun for friends and family. Parties last longer, families spend more quality time together —the world is a little happier.
- Saturday Halloween is unrushed. The kids can trick or treat before dark and parents don’t have to race home from work or worry about bedtimes.
- Saturday Halloween is better for the economy. Halloween-related retail sales are as much as 30% higher when Halloween falls on the weekend versus a weekday. And that means more jobs and better paychecks. Let’s put America back to work—let’s end this recession now!"
Also, I wonder what effect an eternal Saturday would have on trick or treating during the day. Would people be expected to be home and offering candy all day? What if some people are home for part of the day and not others? Makes one wonder what could happen...
All in all, I understand the appeal of keeping Halloween on a Saturday. However, I understand why many people are opposed to this-- and, at least at this time, I am going to come down on the side of tradition and hope that we, as a country, don't mess with a pretty good thing.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Once again, it is October. The season of the witch, of the dark, of the twisted, of the harvest being upon us. To me, there has always been something magical about this time. I have been fortunate enough to live in a climate with four seasons, and the balance of summer leaving and winter's ghost beginning to moan has always seemed perfect to me. Any day, I would rather have the crisp coolness of autumn and the colors changing on the trees. The wind, the rain. Ghosts and pumpkins displayed in every window...
The weather up here has been brutal, however, this past week. Severe rains and bad winds haven't allowed me to begin decorating outside; but finally, this weekend, I will get started.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Pumking by the Southern Tier Brewing Company may have spoiled me for all other pumpkin ales. Rich and dark, it smells and-- more importantly-- tastes like fall. I could describe the dark, dusky ale taste that is smoothly followed by the blossoming taste of pumpkin, as full of flavor as a homemade pumpkin pie. But that would not be doing this drink justice. To me, it tasted like the sun setting on a bright, breezy autumn day, cool orange leaves following from their branches on a tree, and the soft, firey flicker of a jack o'lantern's candle beginning to light the coming night.
Friday, September 25, 2009
If Ron Chaney's new film effort is enough to get horror film fans excited, the upcoming release of "Dracula The Un-Dead," the first official literary sequel to Bram Stoker's literary masterpiece, should do even more for fans of the literary persuasion. Written by a great-grand nephew of Bram's , Dacre Stoker, and Ian Holt, the novel will be released on October 13, 2009. Sadly true, the literary market today is overcrowded with vampire novels-- not all of them quality. However, "Dracula The Un-Dead" has much more going for it than just the Stoker family name; we have a fictionalized character of Bram himself involved with the descendants and proteges of his characters we all know and love.
Here is a description from the novel's website:
"Dracula The Un-Dead is a bone-chilling sequel based on Bram Stoker's own handwritten notes for characters and plot threads excised from the original edition. Written with the blessing and cooperation of Stoker family members, Dracula The Un-Dead begins in 1912, twenty-five years after Dracula "crumbled into dust." Van Helsing's protégé, Dr. Jack Seward, is now a disgraced morphine addict obsessed with stamping out evil across Europe. Meanwhile, an unknowing Quincey Harker, the grown son of Jonathan and Mina, leaves law school for the London stage, only to stumble upon the troubled production of "Dracula," directed and produced by Bram Stoker himself."
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Today I thought I would write about Raven’s Blight (ravensblight.com), Ray O’Bannon’s wonderfully creepy site full of images, games and, yes, paper toys. His art is wonderfully spooky, and the cut out toys—figures, games and displays—are available to download free of charge for you to put together on your own.
Here is his “Count Yargle” I spent a few minutes yesterday afternoon assembling. Even though he appears in black and white (the downside of not having a color printer at the office), he brings a certain festive charm to my office desk.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Edgar has always been a friend of mine. When I was in grammar school, I poured through his stories-- black cats and paranoia and murder and mystery and being buried alive. And as I grew, I discovered his deeply personal poetry. The sense of companionship I find with his work, his sympathy for those who, like him, have a demon in their view, is a comfort I have found in no other writer.
So. I am always worried when filming his work is attempted. Unholy sorry excuses for film that seek to capitalize off of his name have, sadly, become commonplace, as we most recently saw with Ulli Lommel's 2006, for lack of a better word, film. However, this offering has much promise.
"Poe: Last Days of the Raven" is Brent Fidler's 26 year labor of love about what is arguably the most controversial days of the writer's life. What began as a one man play, Fidler directs, writes and stars. The film is already available for purchase on his website for $19.99, where you can also read about Fidler's personal connection to Poe and view some very smart looking stills.
On October 29 at 9PM ET / 7PM PT, the film will air on the Bravo Network in Canada. No official word from Bravo on whether the airing will also take place here in the States. Stay tuned!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Watch Ron talk about the film, his role and the books he is in the process of writing about his grandfather here.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
On my first trip to one of our area's newly opened Spirit stores, I found this rather appealing broom discounted to $9.99. Upon taking my bevy of purchases to the register, the young man behind the counter, who was already annoyed at the props and decorations that customers kept setting off, asked me, "How bad do you want the broom?"
Very much, I replied.
"There's lead in it. Lead paint."
And I told him that was fine, and decided I could easily incorporate it into the outdoor decor.
Spirit has a similar broom on their website, but there is no mention of the lead. My receipt did say that it was a "LEAD DISCARD."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has some facts about the dangers of lead, and lead paint in particular. It would appear that as long as my broom is not peeling, chipping or chalking, I can use it as long as my trick or treaters don't attempt to touch and/or it.
For all the strangeness about lead, I still love this broom and its rustic, natural look.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Add "Death of a Ghost Hunter" to your list of required viewing this Halloween if you enjoy a good ghost story. This little film had slipped under the film world's collective radar, but is now beginning to enjoy quite the sleeper hit following. Building off the popularity of ghost hunting reality TV shows such as "Ghost Hunters" of the last several years, "Death of a Ghost Hunter"is a very well put together, albeit low budget, film.
Carter Simms (played by Patti Tindall,) a renowned ghost hunter, if offered money to investigate a home in which a family was murdered nearly twenty years before, along with a provided technician, journalist and member of the church where the quite religious deceased family attended. Carter is the only professional hunter in the group, which provides, while she is explaining her craft to these other characters, for a rather interesting and sensible explanation into the science of ghost hunting. What ensues in this film under the guise of a documentary (in the tradition of "The Blair Witch Project") is an often delightfully wicked, subtle and sometimes not so subtle exploration of this allegedly haunted house.
Mike Marsh and Sean Tretta's script is literate, funny, disturbing, tight and full of possibilities; a rarity in much of today's horror film. The opening scene is jarring and disturbing, featuring glimpses of the family's murder. In an abrupt change in tone that actually works, we are soon taken into Carter and her crew setting up their ghost hunting shop at the house. From then on the viewer is in for an intriguingly original take on the ghost story. The film walks-- and rarely stumbles--along the fine line between subtle and gory horror, though whne the filom does divert into overt gore, the narrative never rests there long, as the film is fully aware that its power to frighten lies more in the possibilities surrounding the story.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Like an apparent many other people, I was walking my local mall yesterday and was immediately drawn into Yankee Candle Company by the large store front display featuring the dancing bride and groom from their Boney Bunch Collection. Inside, I looked around, and found a number of candles, candle holders and other goodness that appealed to me- but no dancing couple. Not thinking much of it, I decided I'd check the company's website when I got home.
I did, and found that these guys are all sold out. The Yankee Candle "Boney Bunch Wedding Dance Taper Holder" is so sold out that any trace of the item has been taken down from their website (though their picture was part of the display on their front page as of last night.)
Surely, I thought, I can grab a set of these guys off of eBay. However, a quick search finds that the cheapest available is a somewhat heafty $59.99, and there are a host of stories about people paying upwards of $150 a pop.
So what is it, exactly, that makes this piece so appealing? Upon first glance, the two instantly reminded me of Tim Burton's "The Corpse Bride," but at the same time appeared to be something entirely new based off the ideas in the film. Personally, the dancing dead skeleton bride and groom gives an impression of a seemless, timeless union of vintage and new age Halloween decor.
If you're finidng yourself disappointed and unable to pick up the groom and bride, there are plenty of other interesting pieces as part of the set, such as "The Boney Bunch Farmer and Wife Taper Holder."
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Yesterday morning, my Wilton Halloween Metal Cookie 18 Piece Cutter Set came in the mail. The 5.4 x 5.6 x 5.8 inches ; 9.4 ounces set can easily be found online for $8, and I found mine on Amazon.
The cutters are a small, average size, but 18 shapes for under 10 dollars is a steal. The shapes are pretty well-rounded, as well. It includes a witch, pumpkin, cat, coffin, maple leaf, house, apple, witch's broom, tombstone, moon, candy corn, bat, ghost, spider, spider web, Frankenstein, oak leaf, and cauldron. The only thing really missing is a vampire or Dracula cutter. I know how difficult that cutter might be, but I would think it can be done. So far I've only found an older, vintage and therefore higher priced 3-D cutter on eBay, which was nearly as much alone as this set of 18 was. I can't wait to use this set.
My pumpkin patch is continuing to bloom. The patch continues to spread outward, and vine both out and up. Flowers are blooming everywhere. This weekend I am going to build a shelter for the top, to protect the patch from too much sunlight.
Apparently, I had know idea that this film existed until I found it on Amazon the other day looking for Halloween craft books. Bryan Singer produces, Anna Paquin and Brian Cox star in Michael Dougherty's "Trick R' Treat." First released in 2007, the film is finally, two years later, coming to DVD October 6, 2009. Trailer below. The imagery in the trailer alone is enough to get ridiculously excited about. And the film has the amazing Anna Paquin of HBO's True Blood and an army of fan reviews claiming this to be the next big cult classic. All I can do is pray that I'm not disappointed and wait for October 6 to come. And there's also a production book with similarly glowing reviews.
Here's a description from Netflix:
"The usually boisterous traditions of Halloween turn baleful, and everyone in a small town tries to survive one night in pure hell in writer-director Michael Dougherty's fright fest. Several stories weave together, such as a loner fending off a demented trick-or-treater's attacks, kids uncovering a freaky secret, a school principal -- who moonlights as a serial killer -- poisoning his candy, and more. Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin and Brian Cox star."
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Here's a fact sheet for growing giant pumpkins in the home garden from The Ohio State University. And everything you ever wanted to know from The Pumpkin Nook.
And, yes, I plan on sitting out there on Halloween night waiting for the Great Pumpkin. Also, I just realized that my last post actually features a picture of a ghost upon the floor.
Friday, August 14, 2009
They also had several hand towels with pumpkins and witches, and a glittery small pumpkin (maybe '10 tall, 1 or 2 wide) decoration.
I miss October. When November 1 rolls around, and the last of the discount sales have ended, giving way for the endless, instant parade of Santas and reindeer and Snowmen that December brings, I get a little sad. Since childhood, I have loved Halloween. All things October. The fall, the harvest, the cooling weather the colors bursting on the trees. Coming home with some apple cider on a cool, breezy fall night to watch a black and white Boris Korloff as Frankenstein's monster on TV. I can't explain it, but there are so many of us out there, who love the orange and the black and the telling of ghost stories.
So. I decided to start a blog for myself, keeping track of all I see and do throughout this Halloween season, which has already officially gotten underway. It's August, and the first piece of the season I saw two weeks ago was in Price Rite, a simple stack of 2 Musketeer boxes with a greenly lit nighttime scene of a gate and castle. And a week and a half ago, at Kirkland's in the mall, my partner and I found a Halloween display. I bought a door mat, which I will take a picture of and post.
Since then, I have been inspired. My holiday goals for this year are the usual decorating and pumpkin carving, as well as my new goals of baking dozens of Halloween cutouts and growing my own pumpkin. I plan on documenting all of this here.
I had wanted to name this blog "Midnight Dreary," a phrase from one of my favorite, not neccessarily Halloween-related poems, Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven." However, that name was taken; so, upon scanning the poem, the phrase "wrought its ghost upon the floor" struck me and reminded me just how beautifully woven Poe's words in the poem are. And so you have it.