Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Monday, October 3, 2016

Countdown To Halloween Day 3

CERAMIC HALLOWEEN VILLAGES???!!! How in Great Cthulhu's name did I miss out on that?

There I was, March 2016, and The Girlfriend had left me alone and unsupervised in this huge-ass card & gift shop, so, naturally, I had no choice but to amuse myself as best I could. I began to look for weird stuff to photograph so I could make snarky comments about it on Facebook. Little did I realize there was an entire section of my kind of weird: Department 56 Halloween houses and accessories. Look at 'em (the pics are mine; the links take you to each item's Department 56 webpage)!

Snow Village Halloween Roadkill Grill

 And there are so many more! Not to mention other manufacturers, like the Lemax Spooky Town Collection.


Update: Wanna know how cool my girlfriend is? She has no idea I'm writing this post, much less what it's about, but earlier today she gave me this Hearse of Bones!

Be sure to check out the other participants!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Countdown To Halloween Day 2

 On Halloween Strange Sights Are Seen

You've got to love vintage Halloween postcards. What was once cute and adorable is now strange and creepy.

Just sitting around, carving a jack o' lantern...

...then taking it for a nightmare ride across the River Styx!

After which the little children are led to certain doom.

I mean, look what happened to this woman.

Strange sights, indeed!

Enough to make you wish you'd gone to bed and pulled the covers over your head.

Or hadn't eaten those odd-looking mushrooms.

So, high-tail it home...

Or this could happen to you!

And remember, sometimes your friends are not really your friends,

But beware of any potential acquaintances driving a fruit and vegetable car.

Best to stick with your mom...

...but maybe not your sister.

Be sure to check out all the other participants at the

Friday, September 30, 2016

Countdown To Halloween Day 1

Conal Cochran: {Y}ou don't really know much about Halloween; you thought no further than the strange custom of having your children wear masks and go out begging for candy.

It was the start of the year in our old Celtic lands, and we'd be waiting in our houses of wattles and clay. The barriers would be down, you see, between the real and the unreal, and the dead might be looking in to sit by our fires of turf.

Halloween, the festival of Samhain! The last great one took place three thousand years ago, when the hills ran red with the blood of animals and children.

Daniel Challis: Sacrifices.

Conal Cochran: It was part of our world, our craft.

Daniel Challis: Witchcraft.

Conal Cochran: To us, it was a way of controlling our environment. It's not so different now. It's time again. In the end, we don't decide these things, you know; the planets do. They're in alignment, and it's time again. The world's going to change tonight, doctor; I'm glad you'll be able to watch it. And... happy Halloween.

~Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Ah, it's Fall! The skies are overcast and gray, the streets are wet, the temperatures are cool when not outright chilly, the leaves are just beginning to show their true colors, and there's a certain... feel... in the air: that Autumn feel so beloved by Autumn People. We're entering what Ray Bradbury called The October Country, "that country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain."

All of which is to say, it's time for...

The 2016

From an early description in a blog post I can no longer locate:

"The Halloween Countdown is something of a virtual neighborhood to go trick or treating in. Imagine a neighborhood where all of the neighbors really got into the spirit of the holiday and went all out with decorating their yards and homes and on top of that also handed out the coolest treats whenever some kid in a costume rang their doorbell. Well, you are that kid in a costume, and the participants in the countdown are the neighbors with the cool houses and candy. When you visit their blogs, you will essentially be ringing their doorbell and shouting 'Trick or treat.' rewarded by a solid thunk at the bottom of your plastic Halloween bucket which is their post for the day. In a way that's even better than the actual Halloween (no way! I hear you saying) you get to ring their doorbell and trick or treat every single day throughout October. Not only that, but there is bound to be over 100 houses for you to visit each day as well."

Let's let Stephen Lynch get us in the mood...

Thinking of all the cool creatures
That I will meet... on this night.
Ghosts and goblins and witches,
Roaming the streets... in moonlight.

Bowls of candy and goodies,
Delicious and waiting... in store.
The sound of cute little footsteps
As they approach... my front door.

Letting the children inside to drink beers,
Razor blades hidden in Three Musketeers,
Screams from the basement of kids begging to be set free...
That's what Halloween means to me.

Tightening the clamps that are holding
Their little heads... so tight.
Putting my lips to their ears
As I whisper, "Please... don't fight."

I promise I'll let you go home
If you swear not to tell... a soul!
Well, I'll just untie these—I'm kidding.
Now, where is my chainsaw? Let's rock and roll!

A pinch of your brother, a teaspoon of you,
With the head of your sister, would make a good stew.
I'd give you a taste, but your tongue's in the stew. Irony!
That's what Halloween means to me.

Trick-or-treat, smell my feet,
Give me something good to eat.
Trick-or-treat, smell my feet,
Give me someone... good to eaaaat!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Day At the Minute Man Minimall, Part 2

Or, the snark is strong with this one.

So as you may recall, last time I cluttered the Intarweb with pics of me running riot at the Culpeper Minute Man Mini-Mall. I'd like to thank The Girlfriend for her patience, understanding, readily available iPhone, and for curbing her entirely understandable impulse to hit me on the back of the head with a military surplus entrenching tool. She's pretty cool that way, even when she crosses over to the other side of the street and pretends I'm just some random lunatic stranger she happened to encounter while minding her own business.

Meanwhile, since I happened to have my phone with me and am pretty much a Self-Amusing Personality, well, I had to take a few pics to demonstrate why I find these places so deeply fascinating. First up,

Yep. Clowns. There's just something creepy about clowns, as my friend Wayne and a few others can attest. What I find deeply disturbing is that someone, somewhere decided to purchase this particular print and have it framed, more than likely giving it a place of honor in his or her home. I mean, where do you put something like this? The bathroom, maybe? It's a guaranteed sure-fire remedy for constipation.

Ceramic figurines of lighthouses--they're not to my taste, but I can understand wanting to collect them. They're kind of cute and, perhaps, nice little reminders of a trip to the seashore. However, notice, if you will, the central piece. That's Alcatraz. The prison. That prison. Which means some company executive decided it was worth the time and money to tool up the factory and produce miniature Alcatraz figurines, which he wouldn't have done unless he/she thought there was a significant market for such an item. Who buys these? More importantly, who bought this one and how did it wind up in an antique store in Culpeper, VA? It's thoughts like this that keep me awake at night.

Someone for some reason saved an intact and unused 1948 calendar. Someone more creative than I could get an entire novel out of this. I'd read it.

When I saw this out of the corner of my eye I first thought she was holding the deoxygenated heart of her mortal enemy. Even with a closer look I'm not convinced she's not.

It's a Shirley Temple doll from the '70s. That's not so unusual in and of itself, but what pedophile decided it was a good idea to display her on a top shelf with a clear view of her underwear? I mean, if it were a Miley Cyrus figurine, yeah, sure, but Shirley Temple? Ya gotta wonder.

I actually think this is kind of cool. If it was authentic and affordable I would snatch it up in a heartbeat as a present for any one of my coffee-addicted friends (I'm looking at you, Anne!); as it is, it's just kind of neat.

This, obviously, is yer basic racoon clock. In my mind, it needs the proper setting, perhaps on the fireplace mantle of a 1950s tract house den finished in blonde knotty pine paneling. Or above the stove in the kitchenette of your mobile home. Whatever. It needs a good home, but The Girlfriend vetoed its purchase.

I know there's an entire sub-cult of people who collect these oversized lifelike dolls and I'm sure they're all very nice folks, moral and upright, but people, we're in Uncanny Valley territory here as far as I'm concerned. They're just spooky.

Not even Santa Claus (who's also a little spooky) and a reindeer can assuage the Creepy Factor. Imagine, for a moment, walking into a darkened room full of these dolls:

Chucky is downright cute and cuddly, by contrast.

Meanwhile, in another corner of the store:

Yep, it's our eventual friend, Mr. Death, as a salt and pepper holder. I don't even. Seriously, who's the target demographic for this? Are there such things as kitschy Goths? And therein lies a story idea, a trailer park exclusively for Goths (are you listening, Wayne? Martin?).

Then there are the other extremes:

 Still, there's nothing like a fake stuffed raven for all your home decorating needs:

Or a pair of African figurines:

Yeah, the Culpeper Minute Man Mini-Mall is going to be a regular stop for me.

Except late at night when the moon is full and the wind rustles the leaves in the trees.

A Day At the Minute Man Minimall Part 1

Or, Why You Can't Take Me Anyplace Nice.

Ahem. (blows virtual dust off the surrounding digital landscape)

So there have been just a few little life changes since last I blogged. Let's see, I retired, I bought a new car, I grew a beard, I found a girlfriend, I turned 60, I had a heart attack, I had three stents placed in two coronary arteries, I developed Type II diabetes, I had to vacate my apartment in Richmond, VA after 24 years of residency because the landlord wanted to totally gut the place and charge oodles and oodles more rent, I did a major purging of books and possessions thereby proving once and for all I am not a hoarder (stop laughing; I can hear you), I relocated to Culpeper, VA and moved in with my girlfriend and her daughter and her daughter's husband and her daughter's cat...

Yeah. It's been interesting.

But that's not what I came here to talk about. I mean, if anyone is really curious I'll be glad to go into more detail on any one of those topics if you insist, though it's my guess you'd be better served by watching several hours of Nicholas Cage hosting incontinent ninja monkey wrestling.

Anyway, The Girlfriend, knowing my deep, abiding love for all things cool and kitsch, took me to the Minute Man MiniMall, your basic antique store/curio shop/indoor flea market, figuring it would be a fun, entertaining way to spend the afternoon.

She had no idea what she was getting into, poor thing. I mean, me in a store full of oddball items with only minimal adult supervision? Hijinks ensued.

It started innocently enough:

Look! A cool, albeit overpriced, walking stick!
Allow me to strike a stance and look imposing!

But then I started finding The Cool Stuff:

The Girlfriend was unaware of the proper method
for consuming moonshine from an earthenware jug,
so I had no choice but to demonstrate.

Well, it's a fez. You have to try
it on, dignity be damned.

It's Elvis. Attention must be paid.

Well, what else do you do when you encounter a plastic katana?

Then things got downright silly:

Yes, that's Alice from Alice in Wonderland.
Yes, that helmet is too damn small.
Or my head is too damn big.

So all in all, I had a great afternoon, I'm thoroughly enjoying Culpeper, and The Girlfriend is busy reconsidering some of her recent poor life choices.