February 28, 2010
There are certain books that I simply refuse to part with. Some have been moving around with me for years. Others were favourites of my children when they were small and the stories inside were too deeply loved to ever let them go. Arthur's Halloween falls into this latter category.
For anyone unfamiliar with Marc Brown's Arthur stories, they tell of the adventures of Arthur the Aardvark and his assorted animal friends. None of which appear particularly animal-like. Especially in the television version.
One scene in this book always interested me because it seemed to be a throwback to an earlier, simpler time. In it, Arthur's sister, DW, boldly goes trick-or-treating alone to the spooky old house that everyone else is too terrified to approach. Arthur and his friends watch in fear and wait for her to return. When she doesn't return, Arthur enters the house and finds his sister sitting contentedly in the kitchen enjoying juice and cookies with a lovely old lady. Having discovered that visiting with neighbours over homemade treats is far preferable to running from house to house for candy. It's a lovely story. Charming. Sweet. Totally unrealistic.
First, trick-or-treating children have been carefully instructed and conditioned to never enter the homes of random neighbours. Second, they wouldn't want to. The trick-or-treaters in my neighbourhood are moving so quickly in their quest to amass as much Halloween loot as possible within a relatively narrow time frame that their costumes are often a blur to me. They're off before the treats hit the bottom of the bag. Stopping for juice and cookies and a neighbourly chat? Unimagineable.
But was it always this way?
I can clearly recall the Halloween nights of my childhood. Trick-or-treating at neighbours' homes. Neighbours with whom I was already familiar. And it wasn't unusual for my fellow trick-or-treaters and I to be invited inside. To stop for a while and perhaps have a drink of pop (as if more sugar was needed) while our hosts admired our costumes and attempted to guess our identities. Time seemed to move slowly then. It was charming. Sweet. Totally unrealistic.
I lived in a rural area. We had a lot of ground to cover. On foot. Time was of the utmost importance. All I could think of as my friendly neighbours nattered on and on, was that we needed to get out of there. Immediately. Needed to get moving. Before treats were gone and lights were switched off. And we were forced to return home with only a meager fraction of the treats we might have acquired.
Arthur and DW visiting with a kindly old lady on Halloween night while their friends waited patiently for them outside? It's a lovely story. Charming. Sweet. But totally unrealistic. At least for any child who's ever pulled on a mask on Halloween night.
February 26, 2010
February 24, 2010
And then, inspiration struck. Or so I believed. I had several wire hands carefully packed away which had served me well last October. One had been part of my costume and the others, the skeletal hands of graveyard mourners.
Why not give their lives new meaning, I thought. Why not use these mangled, wiry hands to extend the branches of my still-evolving Halloween tree? Each branch would extend, and finally terminate, in a grasping, hand-like form.
It seemed like a good idea at the time. I was really quite impressed with myself. The reality, however, was not nearly as impressive.
The hands were attached to the ends of the wire-and-foam branches. The entire branch structure was then wrapped in cheesecloth that had been dyed black and dipped in a glue and water mix. And left to dry. Where it eventually transformed into . . . the tree branch from the black lagoon.
The cheesecloth-covered hands did not resemble the long spindly ends of dead tree branches so much as the limbs of a decaying tar pit monster. Some minor surgery on the stiffened cheesecloth around the fingers helped, but it didn't do enough to alter my original opinion. The hands/branches would have to go.
The amputation is scheduled for later today.
February 19, 2010
As promised, my magical pumpkin seeds have arrived. Straight from the Davis Graveyard.
Anyone familiar with my tragic tale of last year's pumpkin crop will no doubt share my joy. I cannot wait until pumpkin-planting time. I've already begun planning my strategy. And this year, pumpkin success is guaranteed. This year, I have magic seeds. Personally magic-ified by the Frog Queen herself. All sparkly and bejewelled (that must have taken hours!).
And there was more. My faithful cat Lucky is enjoying the little rubber frog. And I am off to enjoy my chocolate bar with a warm cup of tea. Thanks, Frog Queen! You've made my day.
February 17, 2010
For several years during the 1980's, the city of Halifax was home to a huge free outdoor Halloween costume party on the Saturday night prior to Halloween. Which came to be known as Mardi Gras. Apparently, it began spontaneously one year. Groups of people in costume filled the streets on their way to celebrate Halloween in the downtown bars, of which there are many. Each year brought more and more people, until it finally became a recognized event. One downtown street was officially blocked off for revelers. Other streets were un-officially blocked off by the sheer number of people, estimated at 40,000 during the peak years. It began in the early evening and ended . . . sometime later that night . . . or early the following morning.
The reason for its title of "Mardi Gras" is lost in the mists of time. There was really no connection to February's Mardi Gras. Other than the costumes. And the street parties.
I had the good fortune of being a university student in the city at the time. And as such, took full advantage of the celebratory atmosphere. Always eager to celebrate Halloween, my costume was planned well in advance and I either hosted or attended a pre-Mardi Gras party. Of course, creepiness and horror were paramount. As evidenced by my costumed party guests. I'm the one in the always terrifying Sylvester the Cat costume.
No photos exist of the events downtown. My only camera at the time was a large 35mm. And even I knew better than to wade through the downtown crowds carrying that. So when I remember Mardi Gras, I am forced to rely on my memories. Which are all good, if somewhat hazy.
Halloween Mardi Gras was one of the highlights of the year, each bigger and better than the last. Sadly, it eventually grew too big. And too problematic. Complaints about noise and damage and drunkenness began to escalate and led the city to eventually cancel it. But by that time, I had moved away. Taking my happy memories and my Sylvester costume with me.
February 16, 2010
There is only one day each year on which I eat pancakes for lunch or dinner, rather than for breakfast. And that day is today. Shrove Tuesday.
Every year I remind myself to use the opportunity to get creative and whip up some pumpkin spice pancakes. With cinnamon and nutmeg. Maybe a few pecans. A pancake with Halloween flair.
Perhaps something like this:
Or even this:
And every year, I trudge off instead to a local pancake supper and let someone else whip up the pancakes for me. Minus the pumpkin and pecans. Ordinary pancakes. This year is no exception. I'll be enjoying my pancakes at a local church hall. With no Halloween flair.
Maybe next year, pumpkin pancakes, maybe next year.
February 14, 2010
How many people went up in flames in their quest to find their one true love? How many?
February 12, 2010
The Wolfman opens this weekend. And I am torn. I wanted to see this movie. I really did. It seems like ages since I first heard the news of its production and impending arrival. I wanted to see it and I wanted to love it every bit as much as I love the original. Maybe more. Larry Talbot is my favourite Universal monster.
But I was worried. Throughout the discussion and the delays, I remained cautiously optimistic. Maybe they would remain true to the spirit of the original. Maybe plot and character would receive more attention than special effects. Maybe every remake of a classic horror film doesn't automatically have to be a blood fest. Maybe they would realize that horror is not synonymous with gore.
The television previews began to appear. They looked intriguing. Very atmospheric. I allowed myself to feel hopeful. And then I paid a quick visit to IMDB for some early reviews. More details. And my deepest fears were realized upon encountering the words, ". . . expect to see a lot of blood, gore, and human body parts flying around all over the place."
I knew it. It was just as I had anticipated. Apparently, classic horror remakes do have to be blood fests. To be fair, I am basing my dismay upon only a couple of personal opinions. I'll wait to read more detailed reviews. Try to find some balance. Make a more informed decision.
And then I'll probably pull out my DVD of the 1941 version.
February 10, 2010
I came across these from 2003. Arguably the last really good year for the Kentville Pumpkin People Festival.
Makes me regret missing the year they did Star Wars.
February 8, 2010
After a couple of busy weeks, I've finally found some time to work on my Halloween tree.
When we last saw the Halloween tree, Plan A had proven disastrous, thanks to the evils of spray paint. Plan B, an adaptation of Plan A which involved fabric dye, was still on the horizon.
Well. Plan B has at last entered the realm of reality. With this comes both good news and bad news.
My new plan was to dye cheesecloth black and use it to cover the thin foam which would then form the trunk of the tree by surrounding the tomato cage and chicken wire assembly. The black cheesecloth would provide not only colour, but the added benefit of texture. In my mind's eye, it looked wonderful. In reality, not so much.
The dying of the cheesecloth was quick and easy and successful. Impossible to screw up that part. But then came the attachment of the newly black cheesecloth to the foam. I brushed glue onto said foam, applied the cheesecloth and put it aside to dry.
I am rapidly losing respect for the quality of this foam. The cheesecloth adhered to it quite nicely, but the glue was not much kinder to the foam than the spray paint had been, causing it to warp and bubble. I'm not sure that this is a bad thing, however. It seems to have given the foam an interesting, gnarly appearance. Perhaps more glue is what's needed. This may fall into the category of "happy accident".
But despite the absence of total failure, I'm not entirely happy with the appearance of cheesecloth on foam. And while I plan to do more experimenting with the glue, I also have the beginnings of Plan C simmering in my mind.
February 5, 2010
I've been a little distracted lately and haven't been devoting my usual meticulous level of attention to this blog. I know. I know. I had said that this past week would be different. I anticipated much more free time. Time for working on props. Time for long rambling random posts. But I had forgotten. I had forgotten about the return of LOST. Back for its final season. And suddenly, like the Man in Black into the Smoke Monster (my apologies to anyone who hasn't seen the first episode yet), my leisurely carefree week was suddenly transformed. Altered. Changed forever. LOST theories. Blogs. Speculation. Podcasts. Forums. Their presence expands until they fill every available moment of free time.
Fortunately, I was able to tear myself away and drag myself back to this blog just in time to discover this:
This award arrived courtesy of the Frog Queen. Not only is her blog always a guaranteed entertaining read, but she is one of the most prolific commenters around. I'm not quite sure where she finds the time. But I'm glad she does.
Now on to the rules. Because there are always rules. But this time there are wonderfully few. Just the way I like it.
1) Link back to the blog/blogger who nominated you and say a few kind words
2) Paste the picture of the award in your award post
3) Nominate bloggers you think deliver great comments to your blog
4) E-mail/post/tweet or do whatever you need to do to inform these bloggers they have been nominated for an award.
And now on to the difficult part. Difficult because, although there are many wonderful fellow bloggers upon whom I would choose to bestow this award, the Frog Queen has already chosen most of them. I am going to try to select recipients that she has not. No easy task. So if your name does not appear here, it is not because I do not love you dearly. I do. It is simply because I don't want to clutter your mantle with duplicate awards.
That said, I hereby pass this award to:
1) Jessica @ Chronically Vintage
2) Mr. Macabre @ Mr. Macabre's Hallowe'en Cerebrations
3) Bridgett @ Doug and Boo Plus Two4) Diane @ Good Mourning, Glory!
These bloggers regularly leave kind, encouraging or otherwise entertaining comments that often make my day. They are much appreciated.
And now, back to trying to unravel the mysteries of LOST.
February 1, 2010
The past week has seemed frantic. I've felt like the tree branch in the photograph. Encased in ice with a world of water rushing past.
It was the end of first semester for my daughter, who finishes high school this year. That meant exams. So much of my free time was spent helping her prepare. Quizzing her on facts. Proof-reading essays. Making decisions about university applications. Which could have been done earlier, but why plan ahead when you can leave it all until deadlines are looming.
And then there was my rapidly-deteriorating physical state. I had my tooth extracted. But it was a far more intense process than I've experienced before. I've had two teeth pulled previously. Both experiences I recall as brief and relatively painless. So I'm not sure what happened this time. I spent 90 minutes on a sharp backward incline in the dentist's chair. The tooth didn't go gladly. It required drilling and breaking and a top-up of anesthetic. Finally, it came out. But not completely. The root was left behind and had to be pried out. Slowly. Not surprisingly, I was swallowing painkillers for a few days to recover from the ordeal.
Now I've noticed that suddenly, it's February. Which means I've already fallen behind on my Halloween resolutions. One project per month indeed. What was I thinking? But I'm hoping it's not too late to redeem myself. This week is looking slightly more relaxed. Except for picking up (and adjusting to) my new