Blogoween Day 32? A Wrap Up

Well that kinda went to pot at the end, didn’t it?

Happy Post-Halloween Depression, everybody!

I hope whatever you did to make yesterday special was awesome. I got up at about 4:30am so that I could do Husband’s makeup for work. I think it was worth it:

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He was a corporate demon with Terms of Service contracts and business cards for Beel Z. Bub. He also had a briefcase that, when opened, lit up with a red light and he played a crackling hellscape on his phone in his pocket throughout the day. If only we could have got smoke to come off him.

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Once he got home he changed into something more casual, just your average demon dad:

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You’ll notice in these shots our house is still messy as fuck. We’ll never be done unpacking.

I was a witch, which is pretty much the same as the other 364 days of the year, I just showed it on the outside:

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I did like a galaxy thing on my face because that never fell out of style with me, but I didn’t get a good picture of it til a lot of it wore off at the end of the night. My eyes are still rimmed in black today because I wear makeup so infrequently, that I have no makeup remover:

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I wanted a cute picture with Rutherford, but he was a vampire for Halloween:

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So now the season is over, and what did I learn from Blogoween? Don’t try and do it while you move! Seriously, though, it was a lot of fun, I think I pooped out at least a couple good posts, and I can carry this momentum on into NaNo for sure! Which starts…RIGHT NOW!

I’ll be tracking just like during Camp NaNo and hopefully get out ahead of myself these first couple days since November promises to be quite busy. Good luck to all you writers, out there!

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Blogoween Day 30 – True Terror Tuesday: The House That Mom Built

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Most ghost stories take place in houses that have histories, have been well-lived in, that have seen tragedy and death. So imagine my surprise when I moved into a brand new house that my mother built and had my most paranormal experience ever.

I think a lot of pre-teen and teen-aged girls have paranormal experiences because their worlds are changing so drastically in a very short time. That is to say, either the supernatural is drawn to people whose lives are in turmoil, or people who are experiencing turmoil cloak those experiences as supernatural. And turmoil is relative: what seems like no big deal to you could be life-shattering to someone else.

(Side rant: I’m always amazed at adult-aged people who think teenagers are over-dramatic and hyper-emotional. Yes, of course they are, their hormones are a mess, and this is the first time they’re experiencing heartbreak and betrayal and stress. Do you not remember having these experiences? If you lost a finger, you’d freak out, but to someone who’s lost two limbs, your experience is nothing–that doesn’t actually diminish your experience, it’s just relative. Fuck off, olds, and be nice to children for goodness sake!)

Anyway, I think the dichotomy of something monstrously supernatural vs monstrously human happening to a teenager is very interesting, and I’d love to find some research that looks at the psychology behind that with views from skeptics and believers alike. That is all to say, Dear Reader, that I recognize at this point in my life shit was capital F Fucked Up, and there could be a real life explanation, like my god damned brain just breaking, for what I’m about to tell you here, but this will be long enough without my telling you about all the horror that was my real life at this time, so I won’t bore you with that. Disclaimer out of the way, let’s get into the sPoOpInEsS…

Without getting too into the nitty gritty, my mom and her boyfriend at the time built a house on about seven acres in Bumfuck, Ohio, a village we’d moved to from a much more populated Florida a couple years prior. When I was little, one of the things I swore I would be when I grew up was a “farmer.” I didn’t know back then that farming actually meant raising animals to slaughter, I thought it just meant I would get to take care of a bunch of cows and sheep and cats, but when faced with a lot of open land, I realized “farming” was not all it was cracked up to be.

On the back of this swath of land was a few acres of forested area. Then-me was simultaneously more cowardly and braver than current-me, and I sometimes went on walks in the woods alone. This is where the weirdness started. The woods are isolating, even when you know home is a short sprint away, but then-me was very interested in nature and finding my, let’s say, tribal roots? I wanted very badly to belong in the new place that I lived, but I knew that I didn’t, so I searched for that inclusion in the earth itself, and in some ways I found it. I wasn’t afraid of snapping twigs and sudden rustling, of freakish silence and breezes that sounded like whispers. I was home.

But the house itself instilled a very different feeling. There was nothing creepy about it, and I was very happy to live there as opposed to the cramped, one-bedroom apartment we’d just been in, but it was…off. We had a landline then, but I don’t think many people had the number. I was home alone a lot and at a distance from the couple friends I had, so I was quick to answer the phone any time it rang. I got some prank calls from time to time, or I thought they were pranks, but there was a series of them that made me feel much stranger than any others.

I’d answer and there would be only breathing on the other end. Okay, fine, a creeper, just hang up. This went on for a couple weeks, a few times a week, then it escalated to a voice, a sort of strangled, breathy static voice. They’d only say one word, “I” or “eye”, and repeat it. Sometimes I’d say “Hello?” repeatedly before hanging up, but I was always quiet and calm. My mom would sometimes answer the phone but never got these calls, just me.

Simultaneously, I started having these odd experiences at night. Only my mom and I lived in the house. There were three bedrooms, but my mom opted to sleep on the couch in the living room at one end of the house, and my bedroom was at the exact opposite end of the house. There was a bathroom in the hall before you’d get to my room at the very end, so if my mom were to use the bathroom at night, that’s the one she’d go to.

For most of my life I fell asleep with the TV on. I was and am afraid of the dark, and the buzz of a tube TV and its dull, blue light were a great comfort, but I always kept the volume as close to being muted as possible. I also slept a bit strangely. I had my bed in the corner of the room with the headboard against the same wall the doorway was on. Between the doorway and my bed, I had a pretty big desk with built-in shelves, so when lying down, if I looked to the side, I’d just see the side of this shelving unit, and not the open doorway, and anyone looking in couldn’t see me. This was optimal to my emu-like brain.

One night after hanging up on the “I” caller earlier in the evening, I was laying in bed, staring at a silent TV, when I heard something from the hall. I knew exactly what the sound was: footsteps on carpet. It’s a very specific, soft padding sound and had the cadence of someone carefully and quietly making their way down the hall. My first suspicion was, of course, my mom headed to the bathroom, but she never went in, opened or closed a door, turned on a light, flushed a toilet, or ran any water. Instead, the footsteps just sort of stopped round about the bathroom. I still thought it was her, and she was just being expertly quiet, and I fell asleep.

The following night, the same thing happened. Quiet footsteps, no bathroom sounds, stopping randomly in the hall, then nothing. This went on for a few nights, and even in all my paranormal paranoia, I always thought it was just Mom taking a silent nighttime whiz, as improbable as that was. Then I noticed the steps getting closer to my room until they were stopping right at the threshold to my door. Now, remember, I couldn’t see the doorway from where I lay, so this was all on hearing alone, but I think we’re all familiar with that “someone’s in here with me” feeling, and it was pretty strong.

This went on a few more nights, and teen-aged me was like “enough!” because I was convinced it was my mother coming to check on me in the middle of the night, every night, and there was no need. So I confronted her, asked her why she was doing it. She had no idea what I was talking about. I didn’t believe her, and told her so, asking her to not do it anymore because it was waking me up. At this point, I was waking up every single night to the quiet padding of feet on the carpet, and my brain was assigning it to my mother checking on me, despite her insistence that she wasn’t. I figured, even if she denied it, if I told her it was waking me she would stop. It didn’t stop.

I confronted her again, that this had to stop, and again she told me she wasn’t even gong to the bathroom at night, let alone going to my door. Her conviction was pretty intense then, and I started to entertain believing her. That night when I heard the footsteps and I felt the presence, I started to get genuinely creeped out. I don’t know the span of time this went on for. It could have just been a few weeks or a few months, but it feels very out-of-time to me now looking back on it, like a perpetual autumn into winter.

The phone calls had been going on this whole time intermittently. I’d accepted that the footsteps were not related to my mother, and when I’d wake to them, I’d lay frozen in bed until I just fell back to sleep, but I didn’t connect them with the calls until I got the last one. My mom and her boyfriend were out in the barn which you could see from the house, about a football field away, and I was alone inside. This time when I answered and that familiar static buzz and staggered breathing sounded, I felt enraged. I shouted “Hello?” a few times to be answered with a long, drawn out “I” in a scratchy voice, and I finally responded, “Fuck off!” and hung up, incredibly unsatisfactorily with the click of a button on the portable phone. My heart was pounding–I’d never told the caller off before–and I was just staring daggers down at the phone as I stomped down the long hall to my bedroom. I wanted to reach through it and strangle whoever it was, and my sleep deprivation wasn’t helping my mood, and I flopped down on my bed with the phone in hand. Then something happened that hadn’t before: the phone rang again.

I answered immediately because I knew: even though the mystery caller had never tried multiple times or even days in a row before, I knew this was them. I was feeling angry, but also at a loss–no one else ever got these calls or was even around when they happened–and I shouted into the receiver, “What do you want?!” In return, over the static and the breath, a raspy but clear whisper-shout answered: “I WANT YOU!”

I screamed, the anger terrified out of me immediately. All my bravery drained away, and I suddenly felt very alone and totally panicked. I was probably having an anxiety attack, but didn’t know the name for it. The walls seemed to bow in on me, my vision tunneled, and I started to see things flitting in the corner of my eyes. I fled from my room, down the hall, the feeling of something on my heels the whole time. I passed by a sliding glass door, the forested area on its other side, and I swear I saw figures there amongst the trees. I flew out the front door, barefoot, and raced my own fear across the yard to the barn, bursting through the opening hyperventilating and on the verge of tears. My mom and her boyfriend just sort of stared at me, and I shoved the phone at my mom. “No one’s there,” she told me, and I didn’t bother explaining. I just sat on the ground and refused to go back inside by myself.

That night when the footsteps happened again I’m not sure exactly what happened. It was a bit like my mental state had deteriorated, and I just left my own body because I got up out of bed, under just the glow of the TV at 3am, and walked stoically toward my bedroom door. I don’t think I wanted to do it, but my body just did it, so I turned my mind off. I didn’t let myself be afraid–I didn’t let myself be anything–I just did it because I had to know, to confirm if I was crazy. When I got to the door, there was nothing there, so I went out into the hallway.

Standing at the hall’s end, my eyes could make out in the darkness all the way up the hallway, through the kitchen and dining room, and into the living room. My mom wasn’t there, presumable she was lying on the couch beyond the wall and asleep, but there was something. Something I could see through, but was definitely there in a sort of white sheen. It was bigger than a person and without features, but it was person-shaped, and it filled up the hallway, standing just by the bathroom door. I was still in my brain-broken state, and my feet took me toward it, absent of fear or dread or anything at all. Then I sort of just fell through the apparition, and in that moment I snapped back into myself, wholly aware of what I’d just done.

I stumbled, I grabbed the edge of the bathroom doorway, and I fumbled for the bathroom light. Fear came rushing into me, but it was that feeling you get when you’ve been frightened by a friend–your heart’s pounding but you know you’re not in danger because it was a joke. I wasn’t anxious. I was, in fact, feeling strangely warm and almost happy, but I was scared that I’d just not been myself at all in the moment prior. I didn’t think about what I’d seen while I stood in the bathroom, I didn’t even look to see if it was still there because I knew it wouldn’t be, and after a minute or so, I returned to bed and fell asleep.

I never got another creepy call or experienced the disembodied footsteps or strange presence in the hall or my room after that. We only lived in that house for a year or so, and when we left it I was both distressed and relieved. I have my theories about what it was, both purely psychological and human as well as supernatural, but without being able to confirm anything or to go back to that place, I feel like they’re all sort of useless. All I know is what happened, Dear Reader, and this is just that.

Blogoween Day 29 – Halloween Playlist

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So I’m forgoing Vacancy for another week because moving has been a bit more overwhelming than I expected, and I’m still trying to get prepped for NaNo properly before November hits. I’m confident I can release Vacancy during NaNo, but right now it’s a crap shoot.

I do have my kitchen mostly organized though, and that’s a huge part of any moving battle: now I can properly cook, so I can eat better, feel better, live better, you know how it goes.

In lieu of a story today, I’m instead offering you a list of some of my favorite Halloween songs! I’ve separated them into three categories: Spooky Psalms, Conceptual Classics, and Darkest Ditties. Please enjoy the work of other people.

Spooky Psalms

These songs are quintessentially Halloween, they’re fun, they’re a little spooky, and you probably know them–or should.

“Thriller” – Michael Jackson

As if you could have any Halloween playlist without Michael and this video specifically. I especially love his disclaimer at its opening. Also, “No, I’m enjoying this!” Why did they paint Michael’s character as such a sadist? I don’t know, but I fucking love it.

“I Put A Spell On You” – Bette Midler/Hocus Pocus

My favorite thing from this video might actually be the mom dressed up as Madonna.

“This Is Halloween” – The Nightmare Before Christmas

Is this a Christmas movie or a Halloween movie? Great news: IT’S BOTH! It makes me sad that Husband hates claymation so much, but to be fair, it is inherently creepy.

“Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr.

Bustin makes me feel good! And this video makes me feel…something. Like, it is so bad, I’m not even sure it’s good.

“It’s Almost Halloween” – Panic! At The Disco

I really appreciate this song and everything it’s trying to do. It even references “The Monster Mash” so it’s kinda two birds, one vid, ya dig?

Honorable Mention: “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” – Tracy Morgan/Donald Glover/30 Rock

Important: A lot of the extended parts of this song are not being performed by Tracy Morgan at all, but are just amazing impressions by Donald Glover.

Conceptual Classics

These are tunes that aren’t really Halloween songs, but they get me in the spookiest of moods.

“Witchy Woman” – Eagles

Listen, I know it’s about drug use and Zelda Fitzgerald, but if this song doesn’t make you want to paint your nails red, slap on something leather, and kill a man, nothing will.

“Season Of The Witch” – Donovan

To me, this song feels like autumn. Summer dies slowly and then all at once giving way to chilly winds and shadows without casters.

“Werewolves of London” – Warren Zevon

Why Kid Rock sampled this for “All Summer Long” I can only imagine is because this song is an absolute bop (that’s what the kids are saying now, yeah?) I wish there were 17 verses and it never ended.

“Psycho Killer” – Talking Heads

I hate people when they’re not polite.

“Hotel California” – Eagles

All good things begin and end with (the) Eagles. I always wanted to do my cubicle with a Hotel California theme at work for Halloween, but I never got around to fully embracing the concept, and I also didn’t think most people would get it. My idea was to make my desk look like a reception area for an old, dingy, 60s/70s-era hotel out in the desert with hidden satanic symbols everywhere, and a covered silver tray with bloody organs underneath which would have probably been a little too dark for work. Instead I always just infested my desk with rats, but those were good too. And they squeaked!

Darkest Ditties

Go hard, or go home. Or go hard at home!

“Sweet Dreams” – Marilyn Manson

Remember when we all somehow knew that Marilyn Manson had a set of ribs removed so he could suck his own dick, but no one was sure where that rumor came from or how it spread? That was, like, pre-mass-internet-usage too. The late 90s/early 00s were wild.

“Bodies” – Drowning Pool

One of my fondest memories is of a few years ago when Husband and I were driving up to Halloween Horror Nights. We were in the parking lot, slowly snaking around to get into the parking lot of Universal Studios, and this song came on the radio. We blasted it and scream-sang to one another, and it really got me in a festive mood, plus it was most of my favorite things all in one place.

“Closer” – Nine Inch Nails

Trent Reznor is a musical genius. Fight me.

“Voodoo” – Godsmack

Again, is it about drugs or is it about magic? Is there a difference? Does it matter? These are the questions every generation will ask.

“Living Dead Girl” – Rob Zombie

Fun side story: Remember when I wrote my introspection? Something I didn’t mention was my life between like 11 and 14 when I was in one of my weirdest and darkest places, and I discovered Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Mindless Self Indulgence, Nine Inch Nails, and scary music in general. I simultaneously loved pop music and this kinda stuff by separating my personality into these little boxes (eerily similar, I think, to disassociation), and I’d enter each one dependent on how I was feeling (all of the boxes were musically based, another was strangely occupied by Eminem and Limp Bizkit because I guess I’ve always been a little trashy). Maybe everyone does this, but I certainly didn’t show other people most of the boxes. Anyway, the point is that this time probably had a huge effect on my love of the creepy, and also Rob Zombie has a special place in the darkest, coldest, most barren part of my heart. I had a fucked up dream about him once when I was about 12, and I woke up with terrible scratches all over my arm, so he probably actually is immortal and supernatural, and I’ve been cursed.

Blogoween Day 27 – An Interlude

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So big fail yesterday, I actually completely FORGOT to post, I don’t know how, but by the time I remembered, it was too late, SO I’m hoping to get out a bonus post at some point this weekend. But for today, a quick musical interlude. A dude I love has released a new song just in time for Halloween, and I fucking love it, so I figured I’d share it here.

The only thing I don’t understand about Gerard Way’s solo stuff is how muffled/suppressed/drowned out the vocals are. I suppose he’s going for a vintage sound? Or perhaps, as a vocalist and someone who screamed a lot in older music, he’s forcing some subtlety into his vocals? I can appreciate that, but at the same time I always feel like something’s wrong (like literally with my speakers or headphones or whatever) when I’m listening to his stuff. Does anyone have any insight on this?

Regardless, I find this enjoyable because it’s a liiiiiittle harder than Hesitant Alien, and it’s sPoOpY, and it’s somebody for which I’ve had the hardest of lady boners forever getting back into music at the exact right time for me. The Black Parade and Danger Days got me through more than I care to say emotionally and creatively, and even if this goes nowhere and there isn’t an album coming after this, it feels so right.

Blogoween Day 24 – A Repose

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Today was actually very busy for me, but I slept in hardcore this morning. I’ve been toiling away during the day, but I’m not going to get finished with my Witchcrafting Wednesday video by midnight, so I may as well finish editing and just post tomorrow because why exhaust myself right now, right?

I realized today I’ve missed out on a lot of the typical things I do before Halloween this year, and that’s okay because this is a really busy month for us, so here’s a picture of our jack-o-lanterns from last year.

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Tomorrow will be the video, the podcast will take a break til next week, and hopefully I’ll have a bit of fiction ready for Friday. I have something half done, so time to bang that out. Also, there’s only seven more days of October prep for NaNo! AHH!! I need to finish my outline!!!

Blogoween Day 19 – Freaky Fiction Friday: Recommended Classic Reads

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I should have written something today, but the day got away from me! In lieu of hasty, thoughtless prose of my own, I’d like to recommend some classic reads:

“The Outsider” by H.P. Lovecraft

“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

“The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe

“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

“Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Blogoween Day 17 – Witchcrafting Wednesday: Giant PVC Spider

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This week is going by incredibly quickly and is very full of stuff and things and driving and moving and I can barely sit down to even type this out, so I am going to steal…FROM MYSELF!

Way back in 2013, I made a giant spider for my front lawn. I loved that thing to the very core of my black, icy heart, but of course I no longer have her. I only have the photos and the how to! I made a post about it on a very old site that I don’t utilize anymore, so I reverted that post to a draft, and I’m reposting here. Enjoy!

I fell in love with the concept of a larger-than-life arachnid when I happened upon one during a Google search and based him on designs here and here. He was shockingly simple to make and he will take up a hell of a lot of space: brodude ended up being almost 10 feet wide!

I sure hope these photos work, they’re still hosted on Blogspot I guess!

Supplies:

  • PVC PIPE! (a Halloween decorator’s biggest woe: why doesn’t PVC come in black???) I used 1/2″ which makes him a bit spindly. Bigger can obviously be used. I used about 58′ of pipe. Oh, and remember you don’t need like super fancy schedule pipe–this shit don’t need to carry water!
  • 4 – tee connectors
  • 8 – right angle connectors
  • 12 – 45 degree connectors
  • PVC cutters
  • Paint
  • Expandable foam (2 cans for me)
  • A ball of sorts
  • Cardboard
  • Creepy accoutrements

You want to start out with your base to keep your legs together (not metaphorically speaking, do whatever you’d like with your legs!). I had some painted PVC leftover from last year’s fence, and I have to say that cutting that pre-painted shit was a nightmare. Cutting clean, new PVC, though, was much better. I eyeballed these pieces, so I can’t really tell you the length of them, you just want both sides somewhat symmetrical. Or not, it’s your thing, after all. The front and back legs will bend away from the main body, so those connecting pieces can be much shorter than the middle legs which will be pretty similar, so they need some space. Connect your front legs with 45° thingies and the middle ones with your tee thingies. (Note: try to not call them “thingies” at the hardware store.  You will get more respect and better help from the seasoned old men in the red vests if you use their official-type name.)

All the pipes sticking up from the body bit I’m calling 1s. The 1s for all eight legs are all 24 inches long in my version. Between all 1s and 2s (the second leg segment) are all 90° connectors.  Okay, the most confusing part is coming up (luckily no part of this is really confusing so, you’re welcome). Each leg is made up of three segments. The two front and two back legs are 1, 2A, and 3A.  All of these segments are 24 inches. The middle legs are 1, 2B, and 3B.  Segment 1 is still 24″ but 2B and 3B are 36 inches. Got it? Okay, great. I knew you would.  Oh, and segment 2 and 3, no matter what length they are, are connected by a 45° connector.

I constructed my middle legs first and attached them to the base to hold it up.  I was experimenting with size, so I didn’t know what I needed for the front and back at this point.

You can get a little organicness by rotating the tee connectors ever so slightly to make the middle legs not be perfectly in line with one another. All of the connectors should be at a slight angle outward. You’ll see when you’ve got your legs on.

Oh my gods, my old hooooooooooooooooooooouse!! Look how sparce it was. We had NO furniture.

My suggestion would be to not construct this inside, for obvious reasons. Since I knew I’d want to play with the size and it wouldn’t be just a simple slap it all together thing, and it’s like a billion degrees outside, I did it in my living room. Had a couple other projects going on at the time too, so the place is messier than usual. When I transported it to the garage it fell apart completely (fitting through door frames and the like) and my neighbors heard their fair share of curses that day.

Once outside I propped it up again, being sure to get it up to the same height I had inside (putting the body at about 19 inches off the ground), and I grabbed a pizza hut box cover, cutting out the basic body and pincer shape I wanted.

I got this Charlotte-Perkins-Gilman-yellow ball from Walmart for $2.50. It was nasty and gritty and I could feel myself getting the kid-flu just from looking at it through the bungee chord bin. I had my first awkward exchange with a cashier of the season because of this ball. He asked me about my kids and I of course responded, “Hu? I don’t have any…oh! Yeah, no, that’s a spider butt.” I placed it between the middle and back legs and shoved it almost to the cardboard (not all the way down though) preserving the width between the legs.

The next step is to go crazy with expandable foam–your best friend at Halloween, looking all nasty and organ-y. God, I love it. I used an entire can (you have to use the can in one go, as it will harden in the nozzle) and covered the body, built up the fangs, and secured the connections to the 1s.

I used a second can to fill in under the ball/butt (this makes sure it sticks) and to build up around the leg connections and anywhere I wanted it to go.  Since my ball is transparent, I could see that I was getting all the crevasses.  And it can be super messy because that’s what Halloween is, right?

Finally, I had some crappy black fabric from last year’s dollar-store Halloween binge and tied it off at the connectors for the legs and spread it over the ball/butt.  I wanted spidey’s bum to be smoother than the rest of the body, but not super smooth. Adding this netting did nothing for the actual construction though, so it’s not necessary. Anything you want to do to give this dude body should be done now. Because painting’s next.

More tie-on things.

So then basically I spray painted him black. Spray painting PVC is kinda a pain, so I partially sprayed, partially used some old charcoal-grey paint and brushes from last year to do the legs. I liked painting over the netting because it helps it stick to the body and it gives it more depth. You can see some of that sickening yellow peaking through, and I like that too. I considered using these little skulls I had for eyes, doing about six or eight of them on the head, but it didn’t look right. For now I am forgoing eyes, and if I find something I like I’ll add them, but he will most likely stay like that. I went a little bonkers from the spray paint and played around with some metallic grey stuff too for fun. You can’t really tell, but he looks kind of wet which is creepy. He got a layer of clear coat to protect him from the rain too, of course.

And that’s it! Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. He’ll need something to keep him up probably once he’s mounted on the lawn, but I’ll figure that out when the time comes. Skinny Aragog will take up a spot 10′ wide on the lawn or some roof space if you can figure out how to hang him. Now I’ve just got to figure out how to do other projects that require the garage while this jerk takes up all the space. What possessed me to make this dude at the end of August is beyond me.

 

And that’s the end of that old post. Wow, I actually did a pretty terrible job explaining that…I definitely think I’ll be recreating this guy in the year to come, hopefully a new and improved version of him, and I’ll put up much better directions. Ugh, I just got myself re-pumped for Halloween, but I have to go back to packing…it will be worth it once we move though because we’ll get to pass out candy!

Blogoween Day 16 – True Terror Tuesday: Growing Up

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That’s it. Growing up. It’s fucking scary. End of blog.

Just kidding, I am way more long winded than that.

Did you ever play “light as a feather, still as a board” growing up? In case you’re unfamiliar, the game goes something like this:

One friend lies on the ground, arms crossed over her chest like a corpse. The rest of the friends encircle her, kneeling or sitting, and slide their middle and pointer fingers under her body (coincidentally, the Ouija planchette fingers). Sometimes, if not every time, one of the sitting friends tells a story about how the subject “died” or gives a little eulogy, and then the friends in the circle chant: “Light as a feather, stiff as a board” over and over until they are able to lift the “dead” friend off the floor.

Does it work? In my memory, abso-fucking-lutely. And you don’t question it as a kid because duh, magic is real, and all the grown ups are just keeping it from you! Or they don’t believe anymore so they can’t experience it (like Santa). But it’s right there, in your bedroom, levitation by the power of four ten-year-olds chanting a phrase that one of them learned from their big sister.

So it’s most likely that, as a group, we picked one another up, and were so caught up in the game, it felt real, and after a couple decades our memories are just fuzzy enough to let us question what happened in the wee hours of a weekend morning long ago, but there is a part of me that wants to believe there is some kind of magic going on. And there’s a bigger part of me that wishes I still had the capacity that ten year old me had to anticipate certain outcomes.

I was thinking about this game and others like it and the willingness of my childhood friends (and myself) to engage in such things. Similarly we played Bloody Mary and Candyman (whose name to this day makes me nervous) which always evoked a quick exit from the bathroom and have made me forever nervous of mirrors in dark rooms. Less “dangerous” were fortune-telling games with folded paper and asking ouija boards who you might marry when you grow up (to be clear: I do not believe ouija boards are inherently evil, Hasbro is not mass-producing portals to hell, ya’ll). There were other, let’s call them rituals that bordered on the occult like “crack an egg on your head” or guessing what words someone was tracing on your back, and even the act of braiding the hair of your friend who sat in front of you in class, now looking back on it, was almost like witchcraft, the physical embodiment of saying “this is a member of my coven.”

I wanted to find the origin of light as a feather since it seems such a shared experience, but unlike games with poems or songs like Red Rover or Ring Around The Rosie, it is often done in secret, at night, rarely spoken of outside the slumber party, and unobserved. How did it get handed down and for how long has it existed? Surely it was imagined in the last hundred or so years, maybe popularized by some movie in the seventies, and it will die off in the next few generations in favor of all the 3am games popping up all over the internet. I was surprised, however, to find the diary Samuel Pepys, a British civil servant, who wrote the following in his diary on July 31, 1665:

This evening with Mr. Brisband, speaking of enchantments and spells; I telling him some of my charms; he told me this of his owne knowledge, at Bourdeaux, in France. The words these:

Voyci un Corps mort,
Royde come un Baston,
Froid comme Marbre,
Leger come un esprit,
Levons to au nom de Jesus Christ.

He saw four little girles, very young ones, all kneeling, each of them, upon one knee; and one begun the first line, whispering in the eare of the next, and the second to the third, and the third to the fourth, and she to the first. Then the first begun the second line, and so round quite through, and, putting each one finger only to a boy that lay flat upon his back on the ground, as if he was dead; at the end of the words, they did with their four fingers raise this boy as high as they could reach, and he [Mr. Brisband] being there, and wondering at it, as also being afeard to see it, for they would have had him to have bore a part in saying the words, in the roome of one of the little girles that was so young that they could hardly make her learn to repeat the words, did, for feare there might be some sleight used in it by the boy, or that the boy might be light, call the cook of the house, a very lusty fellow, as Sir G. Carteret’s cook, who is very big, and they did raise him in just the same manner.

This is one of the strangest things I ever heard, but he tells it me of his owne knowledge, and I do heartily believe it to be true. I enquired of him whether they were Protestant or Catholique girles; and he told me they were Protestant, which made it the more strange to me.

So I came to the conclusion that all little girls are born witches, and somewhere along the way we lose that. And that’s the true terror of this Tuesday.

Blogoween Day 14 – Favorite Horror Comedy Films

blogoween

My favorite genre of film might just be the horror-comedy. I want to be scared and grossed out, and I want to laugh about it. These are hard to do right, I think, because they can’t be comedies in Halloween costumes–no, they must first and foremost be horror films that are also funny. For instance: Scary Movie and its sequels are comedies (and I use the term loosely) wearing Halloween costumes (though I will admit I love Anna Faris and Scary Movie 2 has a special place in my heart for being so fucking quotable). The Scary Movies and their ilk sacrifice many of the elements that make a good horror film for comedic elements. In a truly good horror-comedy, the humor is found within the horror. The laughter usually lightens the mood, but a lot of these movies are still dark, gruesome, or downright scary. So if you’re interested in being spooked, but not too spooked, this season, check these out:

TDvEvil
“We’ve had a doozy of a day.”

Tucker and Dale vs Evil

I remember seeing this movie constantly be suggested for me on Netflix and being pissed off because I assumed it was about two rednecks who get all self-righteous and fight some zombies. I was wrong enough to absolutely fall in love with this A+ film. This movie does just about everything right from the characterization of the main hillbillies to the so-shocking-you-have-to-laugh death scenes. It’s bloody, it’s wild, and it’s great. Also, Alan Tudyk.

 

shadows
“I hit an artery.”

What We Do In The Shadows

This would probably be a desert island pick for me, right up there with just about every other mockumentary I’ve ever seen (my other favorite genre). This might be a dubious pick to some because it is so funny that it could be argued it is first and foremost a comedy, but even if so, to hell with it because it’s hilarious. I also find the characters really endearing and their stories somewhat compelling, so it ticks even more boxes about what a good film should be. Also, I hear they’re making a television show as a follow up now? Normally I hate when someone so good gets capitalized on, because it’s usually just that–an attempt at a fat check–but I have faith in the people who made this.

 

shaun
“Fuck-a-doodle-do!”

Shaun of the Dead

Probably one of the most deserving movies to be considered classified as a horror film first, then a comedy, SOTD also does a great job of depicting what would actually happen during a zombie outbreak–one in 2004 London, at least. Anything with Simon Pegg is usually good, but this movie is exceptional as are the other two in the “Blood and Ice Cream” trilogy.

deathgasm
“Do demons recognize daylight savings?”

Deathgasm

Okay, I know that’s…quite a title, but hear me out! I actually found Deathgasm because I was looking for a bad movie. I though, based on the title and description, it was going to be one of those B-movie gems that’s so bad it’s good, but it actually turned out to be so good that I felt bad for underestimating it. Then I felt bad because not more people know about it! It’s just so much fun. This movie has everything: heavy metal, demons, zombies, weaponized dildos. It also explores the concepts of friendship, competition, and what evil actually is, all covered with a nice, thick coating of blood.

housbound
“You cannot punch ectoplasm.”

Housebound

While very funny, Housebound actually scared me a number of times. Recalling it, I think I felt more fear than joviality, and that’s because unlike the others on my list, this movie explores horror from a strictly paranormal aspect. There is no marveling at how insane it is that zombies–you know, like actual zombies from the movies–are walking amongst the characters and no over-the-top gore to under-react to for a laugh. There’s just a haunting, a mystery, and actual fear. It will make you laugh though, especially due to Rima Te Wiata’s portrayal of the sweet but daft mother.

Honorable Mention: The entire country of New Zealand. This list wouldn’t exist if not for the great kiwi nation and I’m forever indebted to them for so many gems.

Blogoween Day 12 – Freaky Fiction Friday: Saber and Parchment

FFF - Blogoween

Note: This is written in first person, and sounds a lot like normal blogging me. Though it’s based on true events, it is, obviously, fiction. It was written originally in an attempt at the NoSleep style, part one to a longer story. Perhaps I’ll continue, only time will tell, but I do think it can stand alone.

Saber and Parchment

I met Nick when I was in my final semester at [redacted]. We had an American lit class together, and our mutual love of Poe evolved into love for one another. We moved in together that summer, some might say too quickly, but we knew we were meant to be together. It felt like fate.

Or like a totally manufactured series of events.

Maybe I jumped in head first because I never thought I could have anything normal, and Nick felt like my chance at normal. Up until my last couple years of college, my life had been so full of fucking noise–just this constant background chatter from what I affectionately call the Other Side, like background music that would occasionally crescendo into some horrific experience. But since about my sophomore year everything had gone quiet, and when I met Nick I thought maybe, just maybe, I’d imagined everything in my life up until that point.

Nick was a year older than I, but I finished my degree first as he was balancing school and work to help pay for his degree. Nick’s job was unique: he worked third shift for the university’s emergency facilities department. It was way too easy, and he got paid way too much to do it, even as a student employee, and of course he loved it. Basically, he waited to get alerts that could range from the temperature gauges in the science facilities varying by a degree, to a forced entry through any of the keycard-access-only dorms, and when they came, he would dispatch the right people to handle the issue. The alarms didn’t sound often despite the university being massive, and most of what he handled were drunken students stuck in elevators, or drunken student pulling fire alarms, or drunken students, well, you get the idea. There was always one other employee, a non-student, there as well, so Nick spent the majority of his time writing essays, watching pirated movies, and on rare occasion he’d go “exploring.” It was a sweet gig, and he was going into his fourth year at it when we moved in together.

I was newly graduated with an English degree and no idea what to do with it, but lucky enough to snag an editorial assistant job with a favorite professor of ours, the very professor whose class Nick and I met in. I could work anytime I wanted, so we both ended up living nocturnally that last semester he finished up school.

We lived in a shoddy one bedroom just off campus, but popular housing for students as some of our classmates lived in the same complex, and walking a couple blocks would get us on to university grounds. The school was spread out over hundreds of acres, and though it had its own transit system, it didn’t run at night, and Nick was usually scheduled from 10pm to 6am. His office was in one of the oldest halls on campus so there was very little parking near it, and most parking on campus required a pass that we were too cheap to shell out for anyway. He usually biked there, but when it was raining or particularly freezing, I drove him. I liked the drive, even at 15 miles an hour on old cobbled streets, and more importantly, I liked knowing Nick was safe.

I imagine there are other things like it, but in all the years since, I’ve never quite experienced the silence that is driving through a university campus just before sunrise. Parties ended hours before, classes have yet to start, and exhaustion settles over the grounds like a dense fog. In those moments, the towering halls and copper statues seem like relics from lifetimes ago, and you wonder if anyone will ever return to these ruins after you.

Of course, even in the predawn there are people out, very few, and most unseen–this I know better now than I ever wished to.

Summer passed uneventfully, with Nick taking a couple evening classes, and me getting paid to collect research for Professor White. He was working on a book about magic and folklore in literature with plans to publish in the following year. I was reading through renaissance poetry and romantic gothic novels to find the exact passages he would reference vaguely from memory in his notes, and typing up the information for him throughout the night, then Nick would come home by sunrise, we’d sleep for a few hours, and start our day over again. By fall we were in a pretty good rhythm save for Nick picking up an early morning class twice a week.

Nick’s job was technically high security, but he’d ask me to come eat “lunch” around 1am with him on occasion. I’d bring fast food if his counterpart John was working, and a burger or a couple tacos would keep him quiet about my presence. One night I got a Skype message from Nick–texting didn’t work from his basement office–asking me to come for lunch in the next hour. I hadn’t planned on it, but Nick typed out that he’d found “something awesome” and needed to show me.

I brought some Thai for all three of us, and left the car in a delivery area safe enough for an hour or two. Campus police seemed to like nothing better than to call a tow truck on passless cars, but didn’t start patrolling until around 5am. Nick was waiting for me at the door: his ID was high security and allowed him into most buildings on campus, but mine just gave me special library access, and without cell service down in his office, he wouldn’t know I was there otherwise. The emergency facilities office was a small room in the basement of [redacted] Hall, a largely disused building that had stood on campus in some form or another since its inception. The office had a number of cubicles, two glass-windowed offices for management during normal business hours, and cement block walls painted hastily in hospital white. Monitors lined one wall, most filled with text, one of them displaying a live video of the hall we’d just walked down, and a gentle hum filled the room. That hum let you know everything was fine.

We ate, and Nick told John he was going to take a break. John waved him off and hunched over in his chair, eyes closed. When we were out in the hall, I asked Nick what happened if John fell asleep. “He always does,” he told me, “but he’s never missed an alarm yet.”

Nick took me to the end of the hall where a heavy, fireproof door opened into a dim stairwell with the swipe of his ID. To my surprise, the stairs headed down. I grabbed his arm when the door slammed behind us, echoing into the empty space. “I thought your office was the basement?”

“Sub basement,” he pointed over the railing and winked a blue eye at me.

“Are we allowed down there?”

Nick shrugged and held up his ID, “I guess.”

Another fireproof door sat at the bottom of the stairwell, and through it a sadly-lit hall that was too dark to see its end. I immediately didn’t like it, but Nick insisted I had to see what he found, which he still wasn’t defining for me. He swiped his badge on the second door on the left and turned the handle, “You’re gonna love this.”

A single light shone down from the room’s center. Some old desks were upturned in the corner, but otherwise the space was empty. I looked back at him, and his face immediately fell. “What the hell?” He moved passed me and looked around, but there was nowhere to really search in the small space. “I swear it was right here!”

“What was here?” I gnawed on my lip. Nick was a bad liar, and his surprise seemed pretty genuine.

He walked to the corner with the desks, “This bin…this big rolling bin full of books.” Nick held his arms out to mimic the size, “Like loads of books!”

My heart sort of skipped at the idea of something so large and presumably heavy just vanishing in the middle of the night. “And you’re sure it was this room?”

“I left the light on,” he screwed up his face, gesturing to the fixture above us that had indeed been on when we entered, “I mean, it was right here, and it was huge.”

I wanted to bolt, then calm washed over me as I realized. “Huge, hu?” I went up to him and slipped a finger into his belt, “Like something else?”

His face changed, sort of giving me a stupid grin, “Yeah…” then he shook his head, “But no, seriously. This is weird.”

Now that was weird: he’d never turned down an opportunity to fool around.

Nick moved past me and my advances back out into the hall. From the doorway, I glanced down into the darkness at its far end as he started opening other doors. When my stomach flipped, I tried to convince myself the Thai just wasn’t sitting right, but when I followed him into a different room across the hall, the queasy feeling wouldn’t rescind. Nick was very still, staring at the back wall. Again there was a small pile of desks to his right, but the room was larger, and its most prominent feature was a chain-link fence reaching from floor to ceiling, caging off the back half of the space. The light above where Nick stood shone only slightly beyond the cage, but there beyond the fence was a rolling bin like he’d described.

“That’s it,” he pointed when I came up beside him, “The books I wanted to show you.”

I closed the space between myself and the cage, peering into the bin through the links. It was full to the brim with books, most with tattered covers. They looked like they might have been headed for an incinerator, but they also had some beautiful leather covers and ornate script along their cracked bindings, though it was too dark to make out what they said. I smiled, momentarily forgetting the weirdness of the situation, and searched the fence for an entryway, but there was a padlock on the chain-link door.

“Well, these are cool,” I offered, “It sucks they’re probably going to be destroyed.”

Nick came up next to me and pulled out his flip phone–old, even for those days–and pressed buttons furiously, “That’s not all. I took this to show you in case you couldn’t come by.”

He pulled up a picture, low resolution and shadowed on his tiny screen, but I could tell it was one of the books, lying open on top of the pile. I glanced at the bin again on the other side of the cage, nowhere near close enough for him to have gotten the shot, and what was more, none of the books were open. Looking back at the photo, I could see text on one page, and a drawing on the other, but it was quite blurry.

“I thought–”

“Shh!” I cut him off, snapping my head toward the cage. Something there, in the space beyond the light, had moved.

We were both silent, and I stared unblinking beyond the fence. It had been a subtle sound, a gentle sliding of material against itself, but distinct enough in the quiet of the hall’s sub basement to catch my attention. I held my breath standing there, trying to keep my mind from conjuring up all sorts of imagined visions and sounds in the darkness. I saw nothing, I heard nothing, but what I felt to this day I can barely explain. It was a bit like the feeling you might have gotten when you were little, immediately after one of those old tube televisions were turned off. The static is still there, radiating out into the room as it dissipates. I could feel the static of whatever had been there until its energy was gone.

I nudged Nick and gestured to the door. He said nothing, but backed up toward it, both of us still staring into the shadows until we fumbled back out into the hall. My heartbeat quickened as we scurried to the stairwell. Nick swiped his badge and the panel lit up green. As he pulled the door open, I glanced back because, well, I’m a fucking idiot, I guess.

In the blackness of the hall’s end, I saw it. In silhouette only, it stood there, taking up the space of the corridor unlike any human man could, its shoulders too near the ceiling, its chest too broad. It didn’t move to follow, but it stared after us with intent. I didn’t need to see its eyes to know it was looking right into me. And my first and only thought was, Not again.

We thundered up the stairs and let the fire door slam behind us. Nick turned to me to say something, but before he could get a word out I interrupted him. “Don’t go back down there!”

He took a few deep breaths and scratched the back of his neck, “Oh, uh, okay?”

“Promise me!”

I barely remember lunging forward and grabbing his shirt, but his hands were on my wrists and he tipped his face low to be near mine. “Okay, okay, I promise!”

Nick was a bad liar, but he turned out to be worse at keeping promises.

 

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