Instead of spinning the Sam & Dean adventures off to their own Instagram account, I’m going back through and tagging all of the photos in this series #SamAndDeanHalloween.

If you haven’t been following along, the boys have been having all kinds of adventures.

You sure you know how to drive this thing? #halloween2016 #halloween #skeleton #trains #caboose #delrayva

A photo posted by Rebecca (@meanlouise) on

The Hunter boots sight-gag makes me laugh every time. What can I say, I’m easily amused. Now, of course, every time it rains and I put on my boots, Husband is going to ask me if I’m off to save people and hunt things. Yes, yes I am. Duh.

The downside to all of this is that we keep leaving these two life-sized plastic skeletons in random places in the house, which means I keep walking by darkened rooms late at night that I expect to be empty, only to glance in and see mysterious motionless figures sitting in a chair or standing in the corner. So that’s fun.

Concerned that my imagination might quit running away with itself, I’ve been feeding it a steady diet of haunted house type movies during writing breaks. The Conjuring & Conjuring 2, Lights Out, and The Haunting (1963).

Also the new Ghostbusters, which I adore (and not just because I’ve accepted and embraced my former students’ assessments that I am, in fact, Holtzmann, which explains a lot, doesn’t it?)

If you’re looking for a fun read for the Halloween season, Sam & Dean & I Colin Dickey’s brand new book, Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places.

Husband and I were lucky enough to hear Dickey talk about this work in progress last year at Death Salon Mutter in Philadelphia. I’ve been waiting impatiently to finally get to read the book not just because it sounds cool, but because I’ve been working on revisions to an article on the socio-cultural and social justice implications of ghost tourism and historical ghost narratives. (One of the many reasons I’ve been neglecting you, my devoted readers).

Now I’m going to neglect you further so I can go finish reading this book!

In the middle of writing a post about creepy clown sightings I found an excellent article on the subject at Rolling Stone, so I’m going to save some time and post that instead: ‘Killer Clowns’: Inside the Terrifying Hoax Sweeping America.

As campus safety officials in Pennsylvania pointed out in their notice, the “creepy clown” situation is becoming a national phenomena. Unfortunately, the situation is nothing new. In 1981, “sinister” clowns were seen in Boston and neighboring towns throughout New England. The clowns, who harassed small children, were never seen by adults. They would coax children into vans with candy, usually driving alongside children walking down the street or in front of schools. The Phantom Clowns, as they were dubbed by cryptozoologist Loren Coleman given their allusive nature, spread to Kansas City, Denver, Omaha, and Pennsylvania. Since the 1980s, clowns have made appearances across the country, usually in the weeks and months leading up to Halloween.

There is, of course, much more to the article but I’m not going to pull anymore quotes out.

Instead here’s some creepy bonus clown content to send you on your way to Rolling Stone. Or is it bonus creepy clown content? How about creepy bonus creepy clown content? Yes, that last one, definitely that last one, so here it is:

[youtube video: clown scene from Poltergeist (1982)]

You’re welcome, JunglePete!

Youbtube clip at top of post from Supernatural S7 E14, “Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie”.

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Like many parents, I have trouble getting the kids off the couch on a rainy Saturday afternoon. I’m not above bargaining, so I made these two a deal today: they can play Rise of the Tomb Raider all afternoon, but first they had make plans to go out and play to celebrate for the rest of the month of October.

They’ve cooked up some pretty fun adventures, so you should also make plans – to check instagram each day to see what my bony buddies are up to. And don’t forget to check back here for new horror & Halloween posts from me, as well, because I’ve been up to things!

SkeletonsOct1.1

Recently, my favorite contrarian, Casey Rae, mentioned that he was running out of jokebooks with bad puns and corny riddles suitable for precocious little girls. Being raised by such eclectically gothy parents, and being whip-smart, I knew exactly the book their kid needed, because I adored it myself: Normal Bridwell’s Monster Jokes and Riddles.

It was probably my very first book fair purchase with my very own money. If, by “my very own money” you mean: “money my parents gave me for the book fair.” Which I probably do – the details are hazy.

I hadn’t thought about this book in YEARS, but I remembered how much fun the illustrations were and how funny I thought the jokes were. It was fun to re-connect with the source of a great deal of childhood joy.


Norman Bridwell's Monsters Jokes and Riddles (1972)
Front Cover: Norman Bridwell’s Monsters Jokes and Riddles (1972)

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Back Cover: Norman Bridwell’s Monsters Jokes and Riddles (1972)

My parents probably found this book to be less of a source of joy, because the jokes? The jokes are terrible.

And I loved them.

How terrible?

werewolfjoke

I’m pretty sure my mom used to hide the book under my bed in hopes I’d forget about it and quit telling her these jokes over and over and over.

Author Norman Bridwell is perhaps best known as the creator of Clifford of the Big Red Dog.

By the time I got my hands on this book, I’d heard vampire stories from my grandmother, who wasn’t as skilled in the art of the bedtime story as maybe she could have been. And I was terrified by Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein the first time I saw it. I think I understood it was a comedy, but…monsters!

I realize now that I was participating in a larger cultural shift that transformed classic cinematic and literary monsters into humorous commodities on which children could spend their allowances. David Skal’s The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror is an excellent place to read up on that subject. I didn’t understand that at the time, of course, but forty years later it’s my professional life, so I figured I should provide you with at least one reading assignment.

Abbott and Costello aside, Brother and I certainly weren’t allowed to watch horror movies. The closest thing I got to horror was the Gothic lunacy of Disneyworld’s Haunted Mansion, which I still adore.

I’d never thought about what my first exposure to mummies was, but this silly joke book was probably it.

What did the Pharoah say when he saw a lot of boll weevil bugs from the cotton fields stealing a mummy? “Mummy is the loot of all weevils.”

Needless to say, the joke book was an instant hit in Casey’s house. I bet he’s heard the one about what happened when the Frankenstein Monster asked for the girl’s hand in marriage (that was all he got) about a thousand times by now. I guess they’re still really busy enjoying it, because Casey hasn’t returned any of my texts!

Only kidding.

Casey’s probably avoiding me because of that other thing…

Grady Hendrix: Horrorstör

Grady Hendrix’s Horrorstör is clever in all the right ways, but it’s also quite creepy. You can’t ask for much more from a high-concept horror novel.

It’s a little too creepy and clever, honestly.

I used to love our IKEA clothes drying rack. It folds flat and stores neatly in a nook in the laundry room, but it’s quick and easy to set it up and it holds several loads of laundry at once.

“Love” might be over-stating my relationship to any of our household accoutrements, but it’s safe to say I liked this thing a lot. Liked. Past tense.

Horrorstör ruined my laundry rack for me.

IKEA Mulig drying rack

Ever since I finished the book I’ve been utterly and completely creeped out by the laundry rack. I’m not kidding. I have such a visceral reaction to the thing that I avoid doing laundry until Husband can set the rack up for me.

This is ridiculous, not least of which because there isn’t a drying rack in the book.

Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the TV series, particularly since it’s being developed by Gail Berman, who was responsible for developing both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel for television.

Berman did, however, Executive Produce a couple episodes of Dig, which was truly abysmal in ways that even the narcotics and other assorted drugs I was on while recovering from a long and serious illness couldn’t improve. Seriously, even for television, that was some seriously ridiculous pop culture archaeology. Let’s just hope she learned her lesson from that debacle, because damn. Just…damn.

Happy Halloween!

Hang on. I’m being told today isn’t actually the first day of Halloween, it’s the first day of October.

Husband is silly before he has coffee!

To kick off Halloween and/or October, director David Schmidt (Sword and Cloak Productions) has released a new short horror film.

The Underpass (2015)

Poster courtesy of Sword and Cloak Productions.

The sound mix is swell, so watch it with good headphones or speakers if you can!


The Underpass (2015)

Sword and Cloak have other shorts, clips, and trailers on their youtube page, so check them out!

I’m particularly fond of the faux trailer they produced for a contest last year.



House on Nightmare Lane (2014)

I suppose I should disclose that I’ve known David online for dog’s years and think he’s a peach. That doesn’t mean he’s not actually a talented filmmaker!

Are you here looking for information about DC’s Demon Cat, who was alleged to prowl around the grounds of the White House and U.S. Capitol? You’re in the wrong place, but you might as well stick around because every day is Halloween around here and I have a ghost story for you all the same!

One day, while I was making some afternoon coffee, I looked out our kitchen window and saw the neighbor’s kids giggling and intently watching one of our upstairs windows. One of them waved up at the window. My office window. Since it wasn’t the window I was looking out, and I’m the only one home, I went outside to see what was up.

I looked up at the window and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.
That’s when the little girl told me they’d been watching our kitty sun itself in the window.

We don’t have a cat.

GhostCat Reenactment

I asked her if she could still see the kitty. Nope. I asked her where the kitty went. She said the big orange cat got up, stretched, and left the window sill and now she couldn’t see it.

Creepy? Yes. Surprising? Not really.

GhostCat apparently took up residence here in our house last year around Halloween. As one of the few houses in Alexandria, Virginia not claiming a ghost, I guess we were due.

I haven’t seen GhostCat myself and we’ve never owned an orange cat. Husband’s grandmother had a big orange cat, maybe it just took a while for him to find us? If cats can have ghosts and ghosts can sneak in to your house, we figure that’s how GhostCat got here.

You can’t prove it didn’t happen that way!

Our Official Ghost Cat Sightings began when JunglePete visited last Halloween. On the first morning, he mentioned that our cat walked over him a lot before finally settling in to sleep by his pillow.

We laughed at him, chalking it up to lack of sleep.

Since then, 3 little girls and one allegedly sober adult claim to have seen the big orange cat sitting in the window.

There are few things as creepy as watching someone wave and greet someone only they see in a window, especially when you know there’s no one there. And it’s always the same window – the window I have my back to when I work at my desk.

The window I have my back to right now.

Hang on a second, I need to nervously glance over my shoulder a few times.

Okay. I’m back.

I’ve spent a lot of time standing in my yard at all times of the day trying to figure out what they could be seeing but there’s nothing there and nothing reflecting that looks either orange or feline. We just tell little kids our kitty is very shy. My neighbors would kill me if I filled their kids heads with ideas about ghostly pet hauntings.

In light of the fact that one family turned their house into a haunted sanitarium for halloween and another had a guy in a clown costume chasing people with a chainsaw, I don’t know why I’m concerned about inflicting psychological damage on the little ones.

Maybe I should tell them we have a Cheshire Cat.

Recently, a friend and her adorable hound were visiting for the afternoon. Carolyn and I were knitting and watching a movie when the dog hopped up, ran across the room wagging her tail, and started behaving like she was trying to befriend a smaller creature. She then trotted around the house with her new friend for about an hour. We both found the dog’s behavior terribly peculiar. The hound now runs around our house looking for her friend whenever she comes over.

I don’t know why it only just occurred to me that we should make a video of this behavior. I’ll keep you posted on that. I think we should also bring in another dog, one that hasn’t “met” GhostCat.

I’ll work on that.

Now that I think about it, ghostly pet eminences aren’t completely unknown in my family.

My uncle is apparently being haunted by my grandmother’s dog, a mastiff/great dane cross who, I suspect, could do some serious spectral damage. Do you think it’s possible to drown in ectoplasmic drool?