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!

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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!

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Something has broken my comprehension of basic architectural features. Have I lived in the DC-area too long? Spent too many decades studying nuclear culture? Seen too many action movies? I guess we’ll never know.

Here’s what I do know: last night I booked a hotel room. The hotel is a lovely Marriott resort and conference center. There’s nothing weird or unusual about a Marriott.

That’s a lie. Have you seen Marriott carpeting? Who chose that? Did they chose it on purpose? Did they hold a seance to commune with H.P. Lovecraft’s interior designer’s immortal soul? Did they then choose the carpeting that H.P. Lovecraft’s interior designer’s immortal soul dismissed as too much?

Other than the unspeakable cosmic horrors of some of the carpet, Marriotts tend to be pleasantly benign.

Or so I thought.

After I booked our room, I got a message asking if I wished to upgrade to a “concierge level” room. Out of curiosity, I read the description of this upgrade.

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I’ve embedded an image of the room description section, but in case you’re unable to view the image I’ll quote the item that caught my eye: “Windows, soundproof.”

“Soundproof windows” would be one hundred times less awkward, but let’s not digress yet…

My immediate question about this detail was “Is the concierge level in a SCIF (sensitive compartmented information facility)? It would be impractical and impossible to operate a SCIF on a commercial property, right? Not even in Hollywood’s vision of a conference hotel would that exist. I spent a lot of time thinking about this.

This is a kid-friendly hotel in which the towers of rooms surround a busy and noisy pool and bar area, so there’s no logical reason to question why they’d up-sell a feature like soundproof windows.

But I did.

Eventually, of course, I realized that this hotel doesn’t have a SCIF. It probably doesn’t even have industrial-espionage-thwarting conference facilities at all. At that point, I laughed off my absurd idea and got around to asking the most obvious question about “Windows, soundproof”:

Is the soundproofing an effort to cater to people in the market for a conference and/or resort hotel in which to commit a loud and/or leisurely murder?

That’s a disturbing niche market I decided not to think more about, in light of the fact that I realized the “room features” makes no mention of other critical features for such an enterprise, such as “walls, soundproof” or “door, soundproof.”

This lead me, finally, to accept that “windows, soundproof” was a feature meant to assure the guest that they will be troubled with a minimal level of environmental noise pollution from the pool and bar area.

I’m not saying that’s a bad feature. It’s just a boring one. A more appealing feature is the availability of snacks. Never underestimate the importance of snacks.

Hey, remember that time people cosplayed the Marriott carpet in Atlanta and the carpet designer sued them?

The DragonCon cosplay carpet (DragonCon carpet cosplay carpet?) isn’t one of the Lovecraftian carpet designs, it’s much too geometric. H.G. Wells-ish, one might say. The Lovecraftian ones, those defy description. Conveniently, at least one of them can be viewed on youtube in this promotional carpet-cleaning video from the New Orleans Marriott.


BTW, you can buy squares of that old Atlanta carpet on etsy and ebay these days. Google “DragonCon carpet” and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of options.

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This video of dancing albatrosses is all you need today:

Courtesy of the live Kauai Laysan Albatross Cam and the Cornell Ornithology Lab, which has a variety of live bird cams guaranteed to destroy your productivity for hours on end.

Also: Here’s the Cornell Ornithology Lab’s YouTube Channel.

I was only joking last week that JunglePete was going to highjack my page and replace it with ornithology memes, but apparently I’ve had birds on the brain ever since.

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If I don’t start updating my blog regularly soon, I’m afraid JunglePete is going to hack into it and start posting ornithology memes.

Grappling with a rheumatological flare this week, I haven’t exactly been a high-functioning machine lately.

Today I took a shower, put an oil-based leave-in conditioner in my hair, and went back to bed for a few hours. I used half the suggested amount, yet I woke up looking like a penguin in an oil slick. I was afraid to send anyone a selfie, I was afraid someone from Greenpeace would be deployed to scrub me with Dawn.

Fortunately, the conditioner washed right out; but shampooing your hair twice in one day rather defeats the purpose of deep-conditioning, doesn’t it?

That was a boring story, wasn’t it?

Maybe letting JunglePete post bird memes isn’t such a bad idea. I liked this one a lot:

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A few weeks ago, while on tour promoting her brilliant new book, Furiously Happy (which I did not steal), the Bloggess tweeted a moment of mortification, and her tweeps responded by sharing their own mortifying moments. Ever since, she’s been rounding up her favorites and posting them on her blog. My childhood friend Kara and I (independently) made the cut in her latest roundup, which obviously means that part 4 is the best of the best of the bunch.

I condensed my ridiculous story to 140 characters, because twitter, but there have been lots of follow-up questions, so here’s an expanded version of the story. It’s not any more logical, because I genuinely have no explanation for why I said what I said, but it is wordier.

Years ago, Husband & I were taking a walk. We got trapped into a conversation with a Greybeard Lefty Activist Political Canvasser Dude. He was very earnest. He had a lot to say.

So, so much to say.

I wanted a yard sign, but didn’t want to devote the rest of my day to conversing with him on the sidewalk, so I did the only logical thing: while he was in mid-sentence I suddenly pointed at a neighbor’s dog and yelled “IS THAT AN OSTRICH???!!!

I have no idea why this is the first thing that popped into my head, why it couldn’t wait for a break in the conversation, why I said it out loud, and especially why I felt the need to yell this question in such a frantic tone of voice.

It worked, that’s for sure. He stopped talking; we got away.

To be fair, Husband said that for a brief moment the dog looked like an ostrich to him because of the way the dog’s tail plumed into the air as he frantically dug a hole in the yard. It’s probably less because of the tail and more because someone had just semi-hysterically planted the suggestion in his mind that there was a renegade ostrich on the loose in Alexandria, Virginia.

Still, nice of him to pretend, isn’t it?

Later, the super-weirdness of my question hit me like a load of bricks and I almost lost consciousness because I was laughing so hard.

To this day Husband asks “Is that an Ostrich?” almost every time we walk down that block, which happens a lot. There’s a dog on the block we call Ostrich now, but I don’t think he was the original Ostrich, because this incident happened nearly 10 years ago.

When I was tweeting about this, I was hoping I’d blogged it, but this is what I got when I searched the archives for ostriches. Well, now I’ve blogged it, so we can all rest easier.

Anyway, here’s the Bloggess’s post: Mortification keeps us human. It’s like vitamins, but not. (part 4).

(I’m not really sure why several Australians needed to let me know that this story isn’t funny and I’m not funny, because they see ostriches all the time, but fine, I get your point. I guess. Although Ostriches are not native to Australia, so I’m not sure I really get your point…But here’s my point: ostriches are exceedingly rare in Alexandria, Virginia).

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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?

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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…

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Would ya like a pumpkin spice latte to go with that fragrant fall-scented litter box?

A photo posted by Rebecca (@meanlouise) on

Mocking pumpkin spice is the new black.

And what’s the new black? That’s right, kids, burlap! Okay. Maybe not, so let’s get back on topic.

I was at Target last week when I encountered a woman standing in front of an end-cap of pumpkin spice scented and/or flavored stuff. She was wailing.

In my memory she was also rending her garments, but I that’s just my memory trying to milk the imagery for maximum impact. There wasn’t any rending to speak of.

There was definitely wailing.

“They’re ruining pumpkin spice the way Yankee candle wrecked apple cider for everyone in the 90s!”

Instead of routing around her, as one would normally do when someone has a nervous breakdown in a retail establishment, people were gathering around her to bond over the industrial-pumpkin-spice complex. My desire to spend as little time in the store as humanly possible prevented me from sticking around to eavesdrop on the spontaneous support group, but it was tempting.

The best part was that a very earnest and cheerful Target team member popped up and, clearly only catching the last bit of her plaintive cry, chirped, “We have a full restock of yankee candle apple spice merchandise in the aisle…”

I couldn’t hear the rest of his sentence because I was hightailing it out of there. I imagine what happened next was akin to the penultimate scene in the film Freaks (1932).

Poor bastard.

I fully expect that next time I visit the store those customers will all be huddled around him chanting “One of us! One of us!” while he struggles under the weight of all of the pumpkin spice skittles they’ve superglued to his head.

On a related note, this HuffPost (humor) headline made me laugh: “Starbucks Barista Completes Life Cycle, Becomes Pure Pumpkin Spice.”

This post started life as an instagram post and a couple of comments I made on Faith Sword’s facebook page.

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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.

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