Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

 In less than two short hours, another All Hallow's Eve will have come and gone. Personal highlights for this night include parents taking pictures of their children on my setup and bales of hay, being told more than once I had the best candy and watching kids take my setup up in so they seemed more interested in the fog and pumpkins and flashing lights than the candy I was giving them.

 As always, there are regrets. Life took over more time than I needed to get everything out and go through all the things I have for the day. The Grim Reaper, Scarecrow and other props I had planned on making remain works in progress, and I'll have many ideas I'm sure I won't even have done by this time next year. Or the year after.

 Watched several of the staples-- "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad," "Halloween" and the remake of "Dawn of the Dead."

And I carved a pumpkin, which never fails to put me in the mood no matter what else is going on or trying to distract me. Giving credit where it is due, I found this design after a Google Pictures search of "Ichabod Crane pumpkin," which took me to this photograph.

 Wishing you and yours the Happiest of Halloweens.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Want to see something really scary?

 Halloween. The season when we celebrate the end of the harvest, the end of summer, the end of life as the cold sets in-- and the fear which accompanies.

Last night, a friend and I went haunted housing, at Frightworld Screampark in Buffalo, New York. I always forget how much I love to be scared. On the perfect, breezy leaf falling October night, there is nothing like going to your local obstacle course of fear. I love to be jolted by a costumed performer jumping out from a corner, unexpected, screaming and making my heart jump.

 I'm always surprised when there is something in one of these houses that genuinely scares me. As we came to the end of one of the first houses at Frightworld, we walked from darkness right into what can only be described as blown up plastic, on both sides, that we had to walk through. Think of two big, black bounce house walls pressing at you from both sides, taller than you are, making you push through in the dark.

 And it kept going. There was nothing but darkness, and just when you thought it would let up, and you would walk out into light-- it kept going. To the point where the claustrophobia makes irrational thoughts leap around your head, and you begin a light panic, thinking that if this keeps going on any longer, you won't be able to breathe. You won't be able to breathe, and you will be stuck in this painfully cramped space...

 When I came out, I knew I'd gotten my money's worth. And that's what Halloween is all about, Charlie Brown. Fear.

YouTube User: holysoldier456


A Very Martha Halloween Tribute

 As per request from a Miss Laura K., here is my yearly tribute to the woman who is lucky enough to showcase her autumnal crafts and cooking on the national and world-wide stage. Say what you will about Martha Stewart, but many of her craft and culinary tutorials are, as I'm sure she would say, "simply divine." 

And, for your sweet tooth, have a jack o'lantern tart. Or maybe a Boston "Scream" Pie. I could spend hours browsing the pumpkin gourd fall recipes, or the party ideas sections of her Halloween Central website.

 Here's to you, Martha, for devoting such a large part of your empire to the harvest. And, for your viewing pleasure, dear reader, some vintage Martha Stewart, circa Halloween 1999.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Walk in a Graveyard... at Dusk

 Last week, I took a walk through my favorite cemetery near dusk. As it was beginning to become dark, I noticed these black birds or ravens flocking from tree to tree and monument to monument.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The True Spirit of the Trick

 For a small, bite-size candy corn morsel this evening, I give you childhood trauma (be this staged or not). Whoever these America's Funniest Home Videos contestants are, they have the true spirit of All Hallow's Eve!

 Although I would not recommend doing this as part of your home haunt, as I would believe there'd be some legal issues with doing this to random children who come to your door.

YouTube User: Kayrocker

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Edgar, Adapted

 As a longtime friend of Edgar Allan Poe, I've come in contact with a few adaptations of his work. There's quite a bit out there. One of the most popular writers (period), there is never a shortage of inspired books, graphic novels, music and film that seeks to adapt the master of mystery and macabre into a new form. When these adaptations turn to the dramatic, I'm personally always eager to view the attempt-- and almost always disappointed with the result. And even when I do get something out of an adaption on film, I never fail to be left with the impression that something's missing. Something only Edgar's brilliantly crafted work can provide. 

 Last Thursday, on the anniversary of the writer's death, I saw "Nevermore: An exPOEration" by the Brazen-Faced Varlets, a dramatic ensemble company in Buffalo, New York. Billed as simply that, a dramatic exploration of Poe's work, I did not know what to expect. And was immensely surprised. For nearly two hours in theater space in the back of a wonderful second-hand book shop, a handful of female actors put on a seamless ride through Edgar's work. Opening with a very clever interpretation of "The Raven," the narrative paused at points, and turned to dramatic presentations of Poe's work. These included full-bodied narratives of such as "Annabel Lee," "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Tell-Tale Heart," as well as perfect presentations of Edgar's poetry, including "The Bells" and "Alone." 

 It is difficult to describe the experience of this theater to someone who has not experienced it. But the dramatic work these women did was absolutely stellar. In a small area of space and time, the experience of short stories like "The Tell-Tale Heart" was brought to life with all the old man's fear, and the dread, the reader feels when reading the words on paper. And that's a damn good adaptation, in my book. One that I know was created because these strong actors used Edgar's own words as a base-- something any and all future adaptations can note a lesson from. 

 So, tonight. I give you one of my favorite recitations of "The Raven" - read by actor Christopher Walken. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Toil and Trouble... Fog fall and cauldron bubble

 I do believe I'm somewhat late to board this bandwagon. Stumbling across a discussion on the Halloween Forum where posters were reporting on prices, I discovered the bubble fog machine.

 And it does as the name says, ladies and gentleman. The machine shoots out bubbles which, when popped, become fog. What a great enchanted little machine.

 Spirit Halloween is selling the machine for $69.99, with a quart of bubble fog juice for $7.99. And not to be outdone, the forces of supply and demand are offering an alternative. Target is selling the machine for $49.99, and a bottle of the juice for only $5. 

YouTube User: GrandinRoad

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Here Comes... Jack's Bride?

 Last year, one of my favorite new props was the devilishly clever Jack-in-the-Box from Walgreens, which I wrote about here.

 I think he will like my most recent purchase of this year. Walgreens clearly saw how popular he had been, and decided to give us, the adoring public, his bride. Who also appears to be selling out in stores rather quickly.

 After last Halloween, Jack, at different points during the year, was going for some rather high prices on eBay. Right now, however, he and Jill appear to be going for as high as $80. The average appears to be $39... rather steep, when they are $14.99 in store.    

YouTube User: TheToyChannel

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Happy October

 I just love saying that. Today is October... And yet it brings me much panic, as I feel I am so behind on the dressing of my house for the season... There is still so much to be done.

 So here's to a long Saturday of dragging boxes and bags down from the attic, in from the garage... and out onto the front lawn.