Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

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

My attempt...

At Margaret Hamilton.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

From childhood's hour...

I was thinking the other day about why we love Halloween, and how that love began in childhood and strengthens for many of us through the years. And I thought of how perfectly these two pieces, Edgar Allan Poe's poem "Alone" and Tim Burton's 1982 short animated film "Vincent," illustrate that childhood love, that bent, for the dark.

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

To Treat or Not to Treat?

A question I have seen asked repeatedly this Halloween season is what to do with trick or treaters who, for whatever reason, either do not have a costume or have long ago entered adulthood. Opinions and passions on this issue run high.

A number of haunters seem to believe in refusing any treat-- giving not a piece of candy-- for trick or treaters who do not have a costume. These people feel that the nature of the idea must be adhered to strictly; no trick (or costume), no treat.

I'm going to come down on the other side of the issue. I would never deny a trick or treater candy; that's not the season, that is not Halloween. Who am I to say that having a costume is the only trick a treater may have? The trick may be on me, who would think to not give candy to a child who wants to experience Halloween, the ritual of civily begging for candy-- a child, who, very well, may not be able to afford any costume, or even have anything so expendable around the house to use for an impromptu ghost, witch or zombie? And, to me, older trick or treaters get points for bravery, in refusing to let go of this holiday ritual. On a more practical side, I would not want to refuse any treater candy simply because I would like for them not to have any reason to come back and vandalize my house or steal any piece of my display.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Film Review: Trick R Treat

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.

See it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Small Town American Officials Ban Trick or Treating

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...

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

Martha Stewart Halloween

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 Jack in the Box

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

Halloween Advent Calendar

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

Happy Halloweekend?

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.
However, I do not feel, at this time, I can endorse the campaign. Yes, trick or treating before dark is safer... but. I found myself wondering, what if, as a child, I was forced to trick or treat out in the sun? I would never have felt that excitement that builds as night falls, and jack o'lanterns begin to flicker, while the time comes to put your costume on and the first doorbell rings in the dark. Spirit is absolutely right that it makes economic sense-- but. I don't think I'm comfortable just yet with my holiday being moved from its haunted home on the 31. There is something, maybe magic, about that number, about going to work dressed in orange and black, and knowing that once you are done you can enjoy the holiday.

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

It's here.

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.