Thursday, October 18, 2018

#18 of 31 Days of Halloween: Vincent Price


Who knew that the young man who began in character roles like Sir Walter Raleigh, Prince Albert, and the Duke of Clarence and played The Saint on the radio would someday be known as the "Master of Menace."



I admire his non-horror work (Laura is one of my favorite movies), but he was cemented as that spooky guy I love for me when I was a child. I used to watch his films with my mother every October: House of Wax, House on Haunted Hill, The Fly and of course all the Poe adaptations. I remember explaining to my friends who that guy was who did the scary voice for Michael Jackson's Thriller and my own thrill when he reappeared in Edward Scissorhands.

He had just the right mix of gravitas and camp, truly capturing the spirit of this season for me.

Any other fans out there? Which of his films is your favorite?


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

#17 of 31 Days of Halloween: Edgar Allan Poe


Edgar Allan Poe is an author I can enjoy all year round, but the rest of the world joins in with me at this time of year, and it's nice to have company. Even people who aren't otherwise particularly literary will quote the opening stanza of The Raven in their best Vincent Price voice:

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”
Besides the Raven, there's also all the creep-tastic fiction. My personal favorite is The Cask of Amontillado, but The Tell-Tale Heart runs a close second. When I taught American literature or general literature courses, I'd always work in a little Poe at this time of year. The Fall of the House of Usher, The Black Cat, The Pit and the Pendulum. So much macabre goodness. 

I also enjoy the lore of the man himself. The questionable circumstances of his death make for some great imagining, too.  In fact, his ghost is said to haunt more than one place. Apparently, it's not enough that he haunts us with his words years beyond his demise; he has to become an actual phantom as well. 

Edgar Allan Poe is one of the few authors that remains universally popular when assigned in the classroom. There's nothing like being TOLD to read something to take the joy out of it, but The Masque of the Red Death is chilling even when your teacher goes overboard on color symbolism. 

Got a favorite Poe story or poem? I'd love to hear about it in the comments. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

#16 of 31 Days of Halloween: Baby Costumes


Babies don't get to choose their costumes, but some parents can't resist dressing them up. I *love* babies in costume. Our own daughters had their turns being pumpkins, teddy bears, and tiny fairy tale characters before they started to have their own opinions about what to dress as.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Little Pumpkins

I love all the varieties of tiny pumpkins. Easy, comfortable and cute as heck.

I also love the clever pairings: parent-child costumes: 

Cute, scary or funny? 





Monday, October 15, 2018

#15 of 31 Days of Halloween: A Nightmare Before Christmas


Most of the iconic faces of Halloween have been around a good long time. Pointed witches hats. Square jawed-noduled Frankenstein monsters. Caped vampires. It's a season that's truly about oldies that are goodies.

But there is one iconic figure of Halloween who's a little newer. Jack Skellington was created in 1993, when his film The Nightmare Before Christmas debuted.

Now you can buy decorations of him in any Halloween store alongside your ghosties and non-clothes-wearing skeletons.

He fits right in of course, being from Halloween town. He's our bone-thin hero, who is taken by a mad whimsy and has to remember who he really is.

The film is memorable for its quirky animation, mixture of creepy themes with sweet romance, and, of course, the songs. 

We've got a blow up of Jack's head for our front lawn this season, and a statue of Zero who hangs out on our sofa, freaking out our living dog. I think Jack would approve.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

#14 of 31 Days of Halloween: Hocus Pocus


We're a family of traditions. They may not be the typical traditions, but certain things we do every year, like our yearly Extra Life marathon gaming fundraiser, our post-Halloween pumpkin smashing, and our New Year's eve meal consisting only of appetizers.

Hocus Pocus, the movie, is becoming a new one of these traditions.

I hadn't seen it in years when it came to the Retro Film series at the Carolina Theatre in Durham, one of my favorite haunts.

We took our youngest to see it and all three had such a good time, but we're planning to watch it every year during October, just like we do with the Charlie Brown special.

Bette Midler's rendition of "I Put a Spell on You" in front of a crowd that thought she was part of a show when she was really a witch still thrills.

The weird little walk the three sisters have when they move together.

Billy the Zombie. I'm wondering if Johnny Depp studied this performance to create Captain Jack.

It's the perfect mix of all my favorite Halloween things. It's silly. It's funny. It's creepy. It's scary. Oh wait, I think I just started quoted the theme song to the Addam's Family.



Well, that's accurate enough. :-)


Saturday, October 13, 2018

#13 of 31 Days of Halloween: Creepy Treats


I don't always get to have a Halloween party. Halloween does fall, after all, right at the end of the quarter, when my grades are due. Life has other demands, sadly.

But I have from time to time gotten to have a shindig to celebrate and one of my favorite parts is making cute and creepy foods to enjoy.

Things like these: 


And these: 


Of course, mine don't come out quite so professional looking. I'm an author, not a baker, Jim! They do, however, go great with my Raven themed tablecloth and pumpkin candles and they never fail to make our guests smile with delight. 

Got any favorite creepy treats I should try? 

Friday, October 12, 2018

#12 of 31 Days of Halloween: The Great Pumpkin


One of the family traditions we established as soon as my husband and I married was yearly watching of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." It's a cartoon we both remember fondly from our childhoods, one of those things we both watched on network TV with our parents as a marker of the season.

At first, we tried to do the same: watching for when it aired and making a point of being in front of the TV on that day, but with modern options for streaming and disk and such, we quickly came to the conclusion that we'd rather schedule our watching when it was convenient and pleasant for us. (The twenty-first century has its share of problems, but I'll take freedom from network scheduling for entertainment as a total win).

It's a quiet cartoon. Sweet and innocent in a lot of ways. We get to see Lucy be a good big sister even though she thinks her little brother is a fool. We get to see Snoopy indulging his imagination in adventures. That whole idea of the "most sincere" pumpkin patch gets me right in the feels. I still hope that the sheer power of Linus's faith bring The Great Pumpkin into existence. I love that he built his own mythology that fit his world view of what kind of behavior should be rewarded.

Good job,  Linus. We need more sincerity in this world.