Staycation Part 3: Halloween, a Rant, Photos and a VIDEO!

**I’ve taken some PTO lately in an attempt to eat it up before the end of the year. No real agenda for the week but over the next few days I’m going to share little bits of what I’ve gotten into. Dig it.

Well, the best time of year has come and gone once again. After a lackluster Halloween in 2014 largely due to the freezing cold weather and the icy rain that accompanied it, I have to admit I had a very difficult time staying positive this year. Last year’s trick-or-treater count was a lousy 4 and 2 of those were probably too old to be trick-or-treating anyway. This year the radio weatherman was threatening rain all evening and there was a UT football game scheduled to start that evening.

With the odds stacked against us we still brought the pain in a way that only we can on Halloween. This year’s additions were:

  • I finally retired (read: trashed) my lame plastic cemetery chain fence. It’s been with me for years but I broke a new stake every year and it was time to replace it. This year we went with some illuminated skull path lights that I’m sort of in love with.
  • We mostly retired the butcher shop theme but the butcher, himself, remained where he was last year: hung up in the garage window with a white strobe beneath him.
  • Our fogger zombie is still broken and after falling over a few days before Halloween is barely able to function due to a broken base. This year we put him out but didn’t even bother plugging him in.
  • We have lots of new spot lights this year – three in the cemetery, one on some corner kids along the sidewalk, and two sticking in the potted plant for the guys on the porch.
  • Our favorite addition this year was a lunging zombie that we placed right by the door. He’s motion activated and created a few pretty awesome situations that I’ll talk about later.
  • We also added a swinging torso zombie that we hung from the rack we usually place all of our severed heads on because he swings from it so nicely. Problem is that he, too, is motion activated and he wasn’t close enough to anything moving to ever activate unless you purposely went over to him to activate him.
  • We’ve added another dog in the form of a weenie dog that we placed on the front door step. He’s a happy little guy and was feasting on a human heart!
  • I wasn’t going to hook my fog machines up this year, partially due to our fogger zombie being broken and I was also too lazy to set up the ground fogger. Early in the day on Halloween, though, I decided that it was a crime against Halloween to own a fog machine but not even hook it up on this, the most sacred of days, so I hooked it up behind a tombstone in my cemetery and I’m glad I did!
  • We bought a giant cauldron to house or candy!

Before I go into story telling I’ll go ahead and get on with the photo gallery. This year, like all other years, you can see all of my pics over on my Flickr stream.

Everything got plugged in at 6:00 and we sat in the living room while I folded some laundry and just waited for the trick-or-treaters to come rolling in. Since it was getting dark already I was expecting to see some kids because in previous years we get our first ones before dusk but this year we just sat on our duffs listening to the guy on the radio go on and on about what a great turnout they’re experiencing at a “Trunk-or-Treat” event at some movie theater in Crossville.

*I’d like to take this time to quickly talk about how I passionately hate “Trunk-or-Treat” events. While these are held at various locations (in this case it was a movie theater) I focus most of my hatred toward the church and the midset it’s given its congregations that has created this “Trunk or Treat” phenomenon in the first place. I think it’s a lazy way to take your kids trick-or-treating. I think it takes away some great experiences from young children that will never know what it’s like to actually go trick-or-treating. I think it’s pathetic that the church often schedules these events along with Fall Festivals and the like on or around Halloween, presumably to prevent the kids from celebrating “the devil’s holiday” in a proper way. While I understand how mall trick-or-treating or “trunk-or-treating” appears safer I have to ask these freak parents if they really and truly think that there weren’t pedophiles and kid killers, etc. around your neighborhood when you were growing up? If you really think the world is more dangerous now in that way than it was then I think you need to seek mental help. Seriously, if you believe this then your kid lives with a lunatic.

Stop being a lazy parent, don’t rob your kids of a proper Halloween experience, stop being afraid of the world and for the love of all that is good stop believing everything your stupid church says.

Alright, that’s that.

We kept hearing the people laughing and having a great time on the radio yet in the Lakeshire subdivision nothing was happening. We got our first TOTs at 7:45 – three kids. We got a fourth at 7:51. Five minutes later, at 7:56, we beat last year (finally) when we got two more. Since we beat last year I was happy but could we make it to 10? By 8:09 our total was 11! Could we make 20? At 9:08 our total had reached 13 and…That’s where it ended. I had my heart set on 20, but with the threat of rain (and a few actual rain drops from time to time) and a UT football game broadcasting I was happy with what we did get.

Like the years before we got lots of compliments on our house and apparently the neighbor’s kid Facetimed with her friend the next day and walked over to our house to show them our decorations. The highlight of the night, however, was when we got our biggest group. Five kids: 1 was a young teenager – probably 13 or 14, I’m guessing, her two younger sisters, both between 8-10, their little brother, a kindergarten aged boy dressed as Leonardo from TMNT, and the youngest, a little girl dressed as the most precious little princess you’d ever seen. Leonardo was too scared to come up on the porch (because of our zombie) so his big sisters were trying to tell him it was okay. The 2nd and 3rd youngest sister both crowded between the zombie’s arms and said “See! He’s not going to get you, it’s okay!” Little did they know this zombie lunged and when he did so the younger of the two nearly shit her pants and let out a squeal! We all laughed and I walked off the porch to give the Teenage Mutant Ninja Chicken some candy.

I’ve gone through the trouble of making a daytime/nighttime walkthrough of our home haunt this year. I certainly hope you’ll take a few seconds to check it out:

Ultimately, again, I’m happy with 13. As long as one person shows up it’s enough motivation to drag all the shit out again next year so I guess we have plans for October 31, 2016!

Erin, of course, made a lovely Halloween dinner that consisted of some cream cheese-stuffed bacon-wrapped jalapeños cleverly referred to as “The Devil’s Dick”, some sweet/spicy mini kebabs of kielbasa and pineapple awesomely named “Bobbit Bites”, some Chick-fil-a copycat chicken nuggets that were out of this world, and some carrot cake whoopie pies for dessert. Everything was washed down with this lovely pineapple juice cocktail that was served in urine specimen cups! Dig it!

We did get to go to a party on Friday night – my bro Katie had us and several other people over for some eats, drinks, and a few laughs all in honor of her sweet boy that passed a few weeks ago, Juneau. We weren’t able to stay long, unfortunately, mostly due to me having a long run the next morning (I know, I know – there goes my obsession interfering with my social life – shuddup). I wasn’t able to get many usable photos but I did snap these two sweet pics of her pups Jonas and Maverick:

I guess you’d be wondering what Erin and I dressed as since it was Halloween and we went to a Halloween party. And the answer is a brief but oh-so-hard rocking AC/DC!

Finally, as you’d expect, we made the most of our November 1 shopping spree picking up all of the half-off deals. My main goal was the talking demon at Spirit Halloween – I was ready to knock someone out to get him, too! Thankfully we didn’t have to go out of town this year – we hit the Target near our house, another Target, At Home, Halloween City, Home Depot, Spirit Halloween, AC Moore, World Market, Party City, Kohl’s, and finally another Kohl’s. I didn’t record all of it but I did take a few snaps last night of my favorite finds of the day as we unpacked it all last night. Also – I got my demon, by god!

And so concludes Halloween 2015. Well, Halloween proper, let’s just say, as we’ve grown increasingly sick of Christmas encroaching on our favorite holiday so we’ve recently been celebrating Halloween part 2 on Christmas and it’s only getting stronger. Be ready to see some of that in the next few weeks!

Jack & Joe Momma’s Butcher Shop & Diner: Halloween 2014

Last year Erin and I introduced the neighborhood to Jack & Joe Momma’s Butcher Shop & Diner for the first time (though it didn’t have that name just yet…). We had big plans for this year but decided to make the Butcher Shop better this year and wait until next year to go big (lots of surprises for next year!). Either way, we busted out a lot of the same stuff from last year but made some minor changes and included some new additions:

  • My Grim Reaper died a few weeks ago when I knocked over my oscillating fan. May he rest in peace but may he also rise from the dead for next year.
  • We added two new skeletons this year: Jean-Philippe, our Maitre d, and our dancing skeleton, Jesco.
  • Jean-Philippe was situated inside our shrubs welcoming guests with our new “Please Seat Yourself” sign painted on the back of our old “I’d Turn Back Now If I Were You” sign. Other new signs include “Let’s Eat!” and “Eat Kids Free” to accompany last year’s “Fresh Cuts Daily / Bone Appetite!” sign.
  • Meat hooks were hung from our porch light and a dead crow and pig face was hung from them.
  • We added two dog skeletons and a cat skeleton to the haunt this year – the dogs were chewing on a hand and a brain, the cat had recently eaten a mouse.
  • We added two new bird skeletons that were situated in our potted plants – one eating an ear, the other an eyeball.
  • I situated my ground fogger under the dinner table this year beside a red LED work light – this gave a nice rolling fog effect coming from under my table.
  • The addition of LED spotlights in the graveyard were a big hit for me – they really added a dimension to the scene I didn’t have in previous years.
  • Our fogger zombie’s head no longer turns. I don’t know enough about motors to fix him but hopefully I’ll learn soon!
  • We bought these two metal rods from Bass Pro that are intended to stake in the ground and hold your fishing rods up. We don’t fish so one held up our little girl “Corner Kid” (wearing a clown mask – a potential hint at next year’s theme?) and the other held up dancing Jesco who was in a small cemetery by himself, across the sidewalk from the bigger flowerbed cemetery.
  • Our Butcher fell off the house last year and broke his arm. I never got around to fixing him but still wanted to use him so we put him inside the garage window with a white strobe under him.

Here are some photos of the night – See all my Halloween 2014 photos on Flickr

So I took a day or two to set it all up and was so excited for the big day. Erin and I have gotten more ToTs every year since living at our house so I really wanted to be ready this year with plenty of candy. We loaded up 3+ bowls of candy in preparation and still had high spirits even when we heard the weather forecast called for a cold, rainy and potentially even snowy evening.

…And it delivered. The weather was wet, cold and windy. We didn’t get our first ToTs until about 8:30 – three little girls, all fascinated by their surroundings, accompanied by their dad. Dad told me they considered not coming out due to the weather but he was glad they did because we had “a really nice set-up, here!” Thanks, dad! Erin said she heard the girls talking outside the office window about how cool and scary everything was. Awesome!

Unfortunately that was about it. We didn’t get any more ToTs until about 9:30 or so – two teenage girls who seemed fully aware it was a bit odd to be going door to door at their age but I was happy to see them anyway. I emptied the rest of one of my first bowl into their pillow cases and overheard them talking as they left about how they were making a (candy) killing that night because nobody else was out – I assume every other house was just trying to get rid of the candy at that point as well.

Casualties for the night include a tombstone that I accidentally snapped in half while trying to secure it into the ground after it fell over, one of our window ghouls that was attached with a screw that fell out of the wall ended up wet and covered in mulch after crashing down and I had to pick Jesco up after our last ToTs left, another apparent victim of the wind. Also: my Halloween ego.

This is not to say it was a failed night, however. No, there were some things that were great! While I hated the weather sucked and that we had a poor turnout, I was stoked that I didn’t have any more damage than I did considering the wind and rain. I was happy that the youngest of young kids and the older kids all seemed to enjoy the house equally, and above all else, I read on the subdivision Facebook page that the lady who claimed to have a big “Halloween Show” didn’t even set up because of the weather…

…And that’s a big deal because Halloween is OUR night – not yours, Christmas show lady…

Finally, Erin made a lovely Halloween-inspired dinner for us in a mushroom, spinach and green bell pepper-stuffed “mummy calzone”, some syringe-style Shirley Temples and a lovely pumpkin dessert pizza! What a woman! Best Halloween dinner yet!

Despite a bruised ego, I brushed it off and busted out a highly successful November 1 shopping day – arguably my favorite day of the year. We hit Spirit Halloween in Cleveland, TN, and hit a Target and K-Mart while in town, another Spirit in Hixon, TN and then back to Knoxville for a stop at Costco, At Home, a second Target, World Market, Party City, a third Target, Kroger, Halloween City and a fourth Target. I almost feel like we doubled our Halloween collection yesterday but I can’t be certain. What I can be certain of, however, is that next year will be out of control! I have big ideas for off season projects and a set-up next year that will outshine any Simpson Halloween to date!

I’ll end with these walk-through videos of our home haunt. Please forgive the poor lighting in the night walk-through. I guess that means we need more lights (which we remedied during November 1 shopping day!)!

Friday Favorites 11/15

I spent last evening at a small bar / concert venue called The Well with two of my favorite ladies, $2.50 Shiner Bock draft and my friend John’s band Sundale. We enjoyed a night of rock’n’roll, alcohol and nachos which was a pretty amazing way to end an already awesome day (big news will hit the blog sometime next week). Despite the wonderful end to the work week, my “Friday Favorites” are a little sparse. Either way:

1) Super Typhoon as Seen From Space
Mother Nature can be cruel – devastatingly cruel – yet in the cruelty can be found a beauty that cannot be described with words. These photos depict Super Typhoon Haiyan that struck the Philippines last weekend as taken by astronaut Karen Nyberg from the International Space Station.

2) Order Domino’s Pizza with a Literal Push of a Button
The PiePal is a device that has been created with some 3-d printing, a small computer and some LEDs assembled into a button that allows a person to select the number of pizzas they want to order and send Domino’s their order without having to speak to a single person or type a single key. Just turn the dial and press the button – pizza. This is a device I can seriously get behind!

3) Bill Maher New Rules: When Did Christian Values Change From Love Thy Neighbor to F*ck Off and Die?
I waited tables for 7+ years and while I certainly know how it is to be stiffed on a large tab, walked out on, even harshly judged by fellow Christians because of whatever reason they had in their head (including one that thought I was gay and was going to base his tip on whether or not I was), I will be the first to tell you that servers bitching about this is old, tired, played out. It sucks, yes, but it’s a part of the job – some people are assholes, most people are not. In light of recent events involving “Christian” patrons and their homosexual servers that have exploded on the web, Bill Maher has this piece addressing the situation in a way that is funny for current or former servers, an “amen” for those that are sick of Christians’ self righteousness and I’d imagine an embarassing realization for religious freaks that are guilty of any of the behavior he describes. Worth a watch!

4) History of Food Logos
As a foodie and artist it should go without saying that I’m a big fan of the art that goes along with restaurants / brands. The science behind logo design – especially fast food – has always fascinated me to no end. Here is a nice chart that details the changes made to some of food’s most recognizable brands over the years.

5) Bad Taxidermy is the Perfect Mix of Hilarious and Terrifying
Erin and I recently finished watching season 3 of Science Channel’s show Oddities on Netflix – a show that follows the business lives of the co-owners and employees of New York antique store Obscura. One of the recurring themes in the show is crazy taxidermy. This shows a list of items – not from Obscura – that fall into the category of both crazy and taxidermy. I enjoy nearly all of these, especially the Angelic Cat and the Oh-So-Sassy Bobcat.

6) How to Metal: DEATH METAL Lesson with Super Quest
This is just dumb. I mean really dumb. Yet it’s right on and I love it. This video is a minute of both stupidity and cleverness as Super Quest shows us how to play a Death Metal song on guitar, tells us what makes a Death Metal song and shows off his great “Dance Music Sucks Shit” t-shirt. This guy is brilliant in his own way.

7) If ‘Space Jam’ Had Been Real
It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen Space Jam (though it’s only been a couple of days since I’ve jammed to the Monstars’ “Hit ’em High”) but it has become sort of popular again in its old age and this video – apparently created by Yahoo! – depicts a teaser of a doc about the fateful game shown in the film as if it really happend. Also, it’s done in ESPN Documentary style. Genius!

8) Jockey® Low-Rise Y-Front® Brief: Anchorman
While I’m not super crazy about shopping for underwear online, I was thrilled when GQ tweeted about Jockey’s partnership with Anchorman in anticipation of the upcoming sequel and have created Ron Burgundy-inspired briefs. These babies come in both Sex panther Red and Beard of Zeus Blue. Jockey also wants to ensure you these guys look stylish under pleated pants.

9) These Abandoned Toy Factories and Shops Will Haunt Your Nightmares
I’m a big fan of creepy toys – especially dolls and toys – and about the only way they can be much creepier than when they’re brand new is when they’re old, rotten and forgotten. These photos were taken in different locations all over the world and depict the remnants of shops and kids’ would-be best friends who have been forgotten and alone for years. Some of the graffiti inside the buildings isn’t too shabby either and I especially dig the Safety Switch label.

For the sake of evenness I should scramble to find a number 10 but it just isn’t happening. Slow week, I suppose.

This is post 15 of my very first time participating in NaBloPoMo, a “Blog a Day” project for the month of November posted on day 16 because I’m lazy and unmotivated.

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