Sharing the Green?

Dreamcatcher hanging at very top of the wall. Wall is painted pumpkin orange.Like the pic? That’s the dreamcatcher Pam got me for Christmas. According to her, it hangs almost dead-center over my crash bunk in my office. Which is kind of a bonus, really, considering I had Billy here to help me hang it the first time, but…things didn’t quite work out.

Couple weeks back, I hunted around in my stuff looking for a push pin. I figured it’d be perfect for the dreamcatcher since the thing weighs all of about a half ounce. Couldn’t find one. (Keep that in mind, that’s today’s foreshadowing.) So, we used a clear plastic Command hook. Boom. Thing went right up.

Only, it didn’t stay up. I didn’t even know it had come down ’til I was changing the pillowcase for my new bamboo pillow, and found it stuck against the wall. With Billy out of town, I just put the dreamcatcher aside. It could wait until he came in on Monday. But, the other night, unable to sleep because I’d been working on a new screenplay, I kept thinking about it. Giving my fingers a rest, I decided to check my box of thumb tacks again, as if a push pin would magically appear. I’d already sifted the tin twice. Billy had gone through it, too, to double check. Nope, just the thumb tacks we’d bought and used at a party to hold down tablecloths.

I’d like to tell you it was St. Patrick’s Day night, and I opened this tin, and a green push pin magically appeared. Or, that it showed up out of nowhere just after midnight and into the 18th, Dad’s official birthday. I’d like to believe it just appeared there in the tin somehow, Special Delivery from the great beyond. But, I know that isn’t true. How a green push pin that Pam’s never seen wound up in that well-sifted tin, I don’t know. I can’t explain it. The other day, I was actually thinking of stopping at Staples and buying a whole package of push pins, just because I still needed one. But nope. There it was. Right on top. Green, no less, the color I wanted because my office is painted pumpkin orange. The ceiling fan is brown, and a bit of green fits in perfect with the anti-Martha Stewart Halloween décor.

A single push pin. Sitting atop a pile of nothing but plain ol’ thumb tacks. (Yes, I’m that anal. I poured them out into a cup and went through them one-by-one. Thumb tacks. Exclusively thumb tacks.)

So, my dreamcatcher is up. I used a 4×4 chunk of wood to pound it in because I happened to have it handy on my desk. End of story.

Except… I do keep thinking about it. Mouse sure didn’t paw it into that old Adagio tea tin. The cats aren’t likely suspects either. Kinda crazy, huh? (The thing showing up, I mean, not me.)

Well, then again…



Currently listening to: “How Soon Is Now” by The Smiths

Spooky Bash V

I know, it’s early, but the way the dates fell, had to do our annual Halloween party this past Saturday night. And, while it was a little warmer than we’d hoped (thanks for nothing, Hurricane Matthew, so much for you sucking up some moisture in your wake!), things worked out pretty well. Was a little too humid for the fire to really get roaring, but, by the same token, we didn’t exactly need a fire given how warm it still is. The bug zapper? Boy did that thing get a workout! Thought at one point we’d snagged a dragon in there. Sounded like we were electrocuting Ted Bundy. Kinda fitting, when you think about it.

Rat on a stump being sawed in half. Creepy bat hanging from the front porch ceiling.

Changed up the front décor a little, and while it was a bit buggy to spend a whole lot of time outside, we did manage to do some guitar playing. Billy, James and I tried Proud Mary for the first time, with Margaret and James doing vocals. Our best? Uh…no, to be sure. But, November 5th is right around the corner and that’s James and Amanda’s baby shower (did I mention they first met up at one of our parties?), so we plan to be a little smoother on that one.

Skeleton hanging out with cookies.

So, our Halloween party is outa the way, but still got the Cape Coral Spooktacular comin’ up, and of course, Halloween Weekend at BackStreets. If I’m lucky? Sometime this week or next, I’ll finally be able to catch Blair Witch before it leaves the theatres. Here’s hoping…


Currently listening to: “Where the Wild Roses Grow” by Nick Cave & the Bad
Seeds (feat. Kylie Minogue)

Startin’ Early

I’m referring, of course, to the Halloween festivities. And, while there’s no such thing as ‘too early’ when it comes to the spooky stuff, even I wouldn’t start carving jack-o-lanterns at Eastertime.

We hold our Halloween party the 2nd Saturday of October because that’s Bike Night, which means our friends in bands are usually off, our guests who aren’t into motorcycles are usually free, and the crew we have who don’t like it downtown when it’s that crowded all have good reason to come over…and to come hungry.

This time around, we did two new things. The first, was a ramen stromboli casserole. A while back, I blogged about a woman on YouTube who has the single greatest ramen video ever, entitled something like: How to feed 7 people on $3.35. (Watch it. It’s phenomenal.) Anyway, I saw the vid, and eventually, got Pam to try making it. Result? It was awesome. So, we’ve now introduced it to my sis & BiL, my nephews, and my Mom. They all love this thing. Recently, I told Pam I wanted to try doing a stromboli version, adding pepperoni and sausage to what’s usually just ramen, cheese & chicken. The thing went over huge. People ate almost an entire 3 quart crock pot worth and leftovers were scarce. Pam Periscoped the whole thing, so if you wanna try it out, check out the video.

My contribution this time around was dessert. In the past, we’ve done skeleton cakes, cake pops, cookies, etc. This time out, though, I wanted to do cake ball jack-o-lanterns, and make a little mini pumpkin graveyard. As you can see from the pic, they don’t make candy black triangles and smiles, but we did all right with the googly eyes and Pam did the one I really wanted, the one at the base of my vulture tree, with an icing pen. That, too, went over  great, and Pam’ll be posting the recipe and How To… shortly.

Haunted pumpkin cake balls in a mock graveyard.

Five pounds of meatballs in a combination marinara, chili sauce & grape jelly sauce. Killer. 3.5 lbs of chopped meat, seasoning, and melted cheese to put into tortillas or on Scoops. Yum. Tortilla rolls with ranch filling. A spinach dip and onion dip for homemade bread and a loaf of exceptionally fresh wheat mountain bread. Oh, and of course, plenty of beer and spirits (ha-ha) to keep the party going ’til around 5:30am. My drink original for this go-’round? A peanut butter & chocolate yogurt colada. As is often the case, the initial response to people I offered it to was: “What? You can’t mix that!” But of course, I did. And of course, people tried it. And…you guessed it—people loved it.

We had seven people crash out and stay the night this time, our largest group yet. By 5 pm on Sunday, though, the house was empty…barely.

And, for one of our parties? That’s the kinda success we like to brag about.

It’s finally here!

Well, depending on when you read this, it’s either about to be here or perhaps it’s already winding down. Still, you can imagine my excitement every October as Halloween rolls around.

There’s some video up on my channel, from previous Halloweens, and one of the big complaints has always been: How can you scare little kids?! My position on it is, and has always been: If I’m giving out free candy? You gotta earn it. You get scared? You get scared. It isn’t the end of the world.

That said, reminds me of a great Halloween we had when I worked for the Valley Stream Parks Department, and ran their haunted house walk-through attraction. Good times, that event. Me, Erin, Rich, Kevin, Clara, my sis, Joanne, and undoubtedly people I’m forgetting. But anyway, on to the story.

We’ve got this walk-thru set up, with “hallways” formed out of black tablecloths strung over wires, black lights and a lot of neon creepyness, and a couple of cool scares. Rich’s severed head on a dining platter-and how he’d open his eyes and talk, or shriek, or beg for help. Tommy T, in one of my fright masks, “caged” behind a cell made of dowels and 2x4s, painted to look like steel. Somebody in the casket with the fake floor I built, waiting for me to close the lid, so suddenly an empty casket would fly open to expose the hidden ghoul inside. Cheap thrills, but effective.and fun.
So this one Halloween, I’m guiding, and a group of young adults want to walk through. Wasn’t our first older group, and I sure as heck didn’t mind. They were all about 20, and one guy’s girlfriend was, to be honest, a bitch.

“This ain’t scary. This isn’t gonna be scary. I’m not gonna get scared by a bunch of kids,” and so on. To be fair, I could understand why her boyfriend was with her. She was not hard on the eyes. If she had been a mute, I might’ve envied him. But alas, she wasn’t, and so we began, with her commenting negatively about everything.

The coffin got her a little. I sold it dramatically, asked her to get close so she could see what was inside, and threw the lid up fast. She jumped, saw it was empty, and made some snarky remark. Then I slam the lid, she jumps, and BANG! Knowing what was going on, whoever was inside (still trying to remember) throws up that lid and howls.

Score one for the good guys.

We move on. Get to my old dining room table with the leaf pulled out, the tablecloth cut, and Rich’s head sticking out through the platter. He, too, has heard the approaching group and knows what’s up. She jumps again, and now wants out.

So, we meander on past Tommy, who’s got his back against the wall in the “cell”, not moving. That doesn’t really get her (of course), and even I don’t know what Tommy’s planning. But we continue, and go on to the end. Kinda. The group passes my sister, standing by the side exit door (which is hidden behind a 5′ hanging skeleton). Sis offers them candy from the cauldron, as we move on to the door marked EXIT. Which.isn’t. It’s actually the door to a broom closet. So I bid the group good-bye, Little MissCan’t-Be-Scared opens the door, and Kevin Wallace, who hadda be at least six-one, maybe even six-two, jumps out, wearing a different mask, in my full black oilskin duster, wielding a running chainsaw. Before she can back away, Tommy has crawled out of the cage, and is half-hidden by fog from my fog machine. He groans, and lunges, trying to grab the chick’s leg.

Can you say: “Gotcha!”

That chick hit the door by my sis so hard I’m surprised she didn’t break her arm. The skeleton went flying. She disappears out into the parking lot screaming like someone just cut off her finger with a pruning shear. Outside, parents and kids are watching this woman run off.and not stop.

Hysterics. Little Miss Can’t-Be-Scared’s boyfriend comes up, throws his arm around my shoulder, catches his breath long enough to thank me, and swears he’s just had the best Halloween ever.
Okay, so we take a break to reset. As I’m going past the table with Rich’s head sticking through it, someone points out a sizeable puddle on the floor. We check. No, the fog machine isn’t leaking. No, there’s no point-of-origin for this mystery fluid. Hmnnn.

You wanna talk success? I’m sure the folks out at McKamey Manor in San Diego are familiar with mopping up piss, but for a rag-tag group like us to pull off a scare that caused some woman to wet herself?

Not sure, but just may have been one of my best Halloweens ever, too!



Currently listening to: Spellbound by Siouxsie and the Banshees

All Hallow’s Eve

Tomorrow’s Halloween. I hope you’ve been stocking up on candy, because if you’re lucky, your house’ll be deluged with kids looking to have a good time, get some cool goodies, and show off their homemade and store-bought costumes both.

Every year I make this plea. Every year a bunch of people comment or Tweet to me or e-mail me to let me know they’re on board. So, here goes. If you haven’t stocked up, go out tomorrow, skip your Starbuck’s or brown bag it for lunch, and throw another bag or two into the shopping cart, and load up. There’s a ton of kids out there who’ll be using the same costume as last year, because let’s face it-the economy *still* sucks, people are still woefully underemployed, parents are stressed, and it isn’t like anything’s getting any cheaper.

Halloween Setup at BackStreets

Our Halloween Setup at BackStreets this past Saturday.

See that pic? That’s how our Halloween setup is going to look at the foot of my sister’s driveway tomorrow night. We’ve got two five gallon paint
buckets filled to the brim with candy, and Pam’s gonna kill me, but tomorrow I’m gonna ask her to jump into BJs really quick and see if there isn’t
anything else we can add to the mix. We’re light on Tootsie Rolls this year, so maybe we’ll get lucky tomorrow.

Whatever the case, my sister’s place gets hammered every Halloween. People come from other communities to trick-or-treat hers, because it’s safe, it’s a series of cul de sacs, and because the people there do it up right. Hundreds and hundreds of kids hit the community because if you’re not going to trick-or-treat for more than five hours, you’ll fill your plastic pumpkins and pillow cases to bursting, trust me.

Where I live, there’s barely anybody in the area, so we invest the time and money to go to sis’ place and add to the festivities. Because it’s a kids’ holiday. Sure, I love it like no other. I was always the horror guy growing up. This has always been my thing. But tomorrow night’s about kids looking to get some candy, have fun with their friends, and if you can help some parents out who’re having a rough time by making that kid’s pumpkin or sac extra heavy? Please, do it. There’s few things better in life than hearing, “Wow!” or “Awesome!” or “Look what I got!” as kids walk away from your front door.

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Currently listening to: “Spellbound” by Siouxsie and the Banshees

It’s the little things…

Yesterday was Halloween, and like the past couple of years, I spent much of it laying in my casket (yep, it’s real), the fog machine billowing, my fright mask on, a cauldron filled with candy on my chest, waiting…

For what, you ask?

Click PLAY to see the video.


As always, Pam and I did it up over at my sister and brother-in-law’s place, because they live in a community where trick or treaters flock in droves. Friendly neighborhood, lots of parents get involved (many dress up, too), and there’s only one way in, and one way out. Perfect place to drop off the kids and hang out while they roam the neighborhood in search of the best stuff.

And, we had plenty of it. Here’s a pic of my nephews (no, this isn’t their take), prior to us starting the night’s festivities. We handed out well over 3,000 pieces of candy, and had a hell of a time doing it.

Pic of 3,000+ pieces of Halloween candy

What makes it all worthwhile? The candy? No, not really. I had a couple pieces last night, but I don’t have a big sweet tooth. The costumes? Once upon a time, maybe, but I’m blind now, so the costumes don’t do much for me. The way people decorate their yards? I love hearing about that, and I love it when folks really get into it, like I do, but no, that ain’t it. It’s the little things. You know, like leaping up out of the coffin as a kid reaches into the cauldron and hearing a parent say, “Oh, boy…I think (child’s name) just crapped his pants.” (Heard that a couple times last night.) Or, having macho teenage boys stride over believing I’m fake, just a prop, and sitting up and howling, turning them into shrieking gobs of jelly as they trample their girlfriends to get away from the box. It’s getting the *same* people I got last year, even when they’re prepared. One girl had even meditated (no joke, her friend told us), all day, so she could come and trick or treat sis’ place, knowing I’d be there in my casket.

And still, she screamed like I’d just torn out her fingernails. Say what you will about the occasional three year old who happens to be standing there, waiting for his or her turn to reach in for some candy, if I’m sticking it to a 12 year old dressed as a ninja and making him drop his plastic pumpkin when he streaks off into the night. You come to my sister’s place? You’re gonna earn your candy, baby.

And, just maybe, you’re going to be telling your own kids about what happened way back in the day, when you were the one dressed as Spidey, or a princess, or a skeleton or a zombie and reached into the big black cauldron for a fistful of goodies—and got more than you bargained for.

Next year? Already in the planning stages. To be sure, it’ll be bigger and better. More candy. More decorations. More props.

More kids—and perhaps an adult or two—crapping their pants…
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Currently listening to: Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds