Hi, folks. It's been a while, I haven't had much time to follow all of you bloggers, or post much of anything. Lost a good friend recently, and I've been working hard to keep my head above water and my house in working order. Life is upside down and backwards, and I don't have much of a positive feeling for the future.
I really wanted to do some blogging this season, covering the wide variety of historical guising and begging traditions of which Trick or Treat was the sole survivor. Unfortunately I haven't had the time to do the research and writing on it, so perhaps next year.
Instead I wanted to share some great, dark classical music with you.
My family was weird, and we didn't really do the usual American tinsel drenched Christmas.
Most years, we would attend the Christmas Revels at Oakland's Scottish Rite Temple. More than a stage performance, it is sort of a historical preservation show, renacting traditional Winter celebrations from around Europe and the near East.
This is where I developed my taste for the slightly melancholic music of Christmas and Solstice in the middle ages. I thought I would share a couple of particularly poignant tracks:
The Coventry Carol
The Coventry Carol was performed as part of a mystery play about the birth of Jesus, and specifically refers to the period after Jesus' birth, when the three magi accidentally reveal to King Herod that the messiah who will overthrow him has been born.
In order to preserve his throne, Herod orders the slaughter of all the newborn children in Bethlehem.
The carol is a lullaby sung by a mother to her doomed infant child. Luckily, Jesus was smuggled away to Egypt land.
The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance
(Wheelwright Robinson's Tune)
In the little village of Abbots Bromley in Staffordshire England, a curious tradition is upheld each year.
Dancers bearing enormous reindeer antlers, a hobby horse, a man woman or "maid marian", and a fool dance through the town, from tavern to tavern, then snake their way through the countryside going from farm to farm.
The significance of the horn dance has been lost to time, and even the original music played to the dance was lost for a while, before it was rediscovered and incoporated into the yearly Christmas Revel's performance.
At the darkest point in the story, when night has fallen on the shortest day, the stage descends into darkness, and the haunting Wheelwright Robinson tune is piped or fiddled, as strange figures march through the gloom in their serpentine dancing.
This song has stuck with me for years, and now perhaps it will stick to you too.
The time is flying by, I can't believe Halloween is already over for another year. This wasn't a bad one, though it was surprising that for such a nice clear Friday night we only got four trick or treaters.
I sat on the front porch, covered by my bicycle rain cape, wearing a grinning red skull mask and witch hat. When people approached the porch they thought I was another decoration. I didn't scare any kids, but one dad got spooked.
Some of my friends decided to go trick or treating, so I joined them. What did I get in my pail?
First up is the last stop of the evening, "Reverend Smiley's" house beside the church at the end of our street. Two kids were giving out treat bags there, which was ironic. Kids giving candy to adult trick or treaters?
Mostly little hard candies, but the ol' rootbeer flavored hard candy is definitely a score.
Another house giving out hard candy treat bags. This guy looked and sounded like The Cowboy from the Big Lebowski, and he said "Take her easy" when we departed his porch.
This was at "Cat Guy's" house. Cat guy lives around the corner from us, he and his wife keep a lot of cats, and he likes to sit out in the driveway and wave at the neighborhood going by.
Cat Guy always goes out of his way to decorate for Halloween. In fact, he was out taking down his decorations when we came by.
The lollipop contingent, and I am pleased to have received to many DumDum pops, which are the best. I will brook no argument in regards to Tootsie Roll Pops, DumDums are better.
When I was a kid, there was an old lady who lived at the end of our street, she liked to give us neighborhood kids candy and soda pop all the time. But on Halloween she exclusively gave away DumDum pops. The bes'.
Fun size chocolate bars, always appreciated. I know that I also had a fun sized payday AND a king sized payday bar, but I think my roommates ate them before I got to explore the candy pail.
The king sized payday was all squashed, like it had been run over by a car tire, and the funny thing is that each of us got a king sized bar from this house, and ALL of them were squashed!
The tootsie roll contingent. I see they're coming in multiple flavors these days.
Hard candies. I notice that the jolly rangers have a weird new consistency these days.
Hoo yeah, I got a BUNCH of smarties, but the roommates at them.
It's not Halloween if you don't get a Double Bubble. When I was a kid there was this one house in my neighborhood that ALWAYS gave out just Double Bubble. Double Bubble is best bubble, IMHO.
In the end a good year. I have some tentative plans for the coming year that I'll reveal soon, plus I'll be posting on obscure creepy winter celebrations throughout the yule season.
I hope everyone is having a great November, and that you're all soaking up that autumn goodness while it's in the air.
Here are some shots of my haunt this year. Quite simple, I left it open for my roommates to do a lot of decorating, instead of hogging it all for myself.
I made up this scarecrow last minute.
The wind witch rustling gently on the October breeze.
The scarecrow overlooking the little graveyard.
The oddities table.
Uncle Gary made this Thing-In-A-Jar.
He used his old dad's dentures.
Serina provided this cockroach, and the animal skulls.
This glow-in-the-dark skull is one of my oldest surviving Halloween decorations. I got it when I was just a little tyke. I bundled it up in an orange sheet, and had it lit from below with a black light to make it glow.
Glow-Skull was buddies with Grossferatu this year.
My Jack-o-Lantern for this year.
We had nice weather this year, clear and cool. Still, we only got a few trick-or-treaters, 4 to be exact. Oh well, everybody had a good time.
I went trick or treating with some of my friends, and it was pretty great. Adult trick or treating should become a thing. Our neighbors were pretty gracious.
Rainy day today. Nothing much to do but stay indoors, pop some popcorn, and watch something Halloween-y.
In this case, the classic Zacherle's "Horrible Horror" VHS tape. I used to watch this when I was a kid, through the summer. Famed TV horror host Zacherle plays back some of his favorite classic horror and sci-fi movie clips, with amusing commentary and sketches in-between.
I also seem to enjoy painting low-light situations.
I hope you are not offended by nekkid witches. Don't worry, it's all perfectly aboveboard, I've taken the life drawing classes. I am a certified artiste, and it's alright for us to draw naked people. In fact, it's kind of a requirement of the gig.
If you need any paintings of naked people, I'm available for commissions, ha ha.
The software that I painted these in is called "ArtRage", and it's actually really cool. Having rediscovered it, perhaps I'll do some new Halloween paintings!
I like these dollar store skulls, I need to think of a more customized prop to make with them.
A few more tombstones. Sadie cat is under the bush.
The witch I made last year has been converted into a wind-witch this year.
It's been warm, and the tree in the front yard hasn't dropped it's leaves, so she's slightly hidden right now.
A wind ghost. As grandiose as my aspirations for Halloween displays are, circumstances compel a cheap and cheerful approach. Plus, I think that there is a certain kind of special Halloween magic caused by making monsters out of the stuff at hand.
I made this little image in homage to Pumpkinrot. I've been enjoying Rot's work for years; and besides his amazing artistry, his wonderful Halloween creations, and his enormous influence on my own work; I've also really enjoyed his Begging Candy panel comics. They have a great, sardonic sense of humor, and perfectly capture the atmosphere of Halloween at the witching hour.
Had to get away from the house tonight, it was way too hot, what with the high humidity, so I rode my bike to the park and took a walk.
It turned out to be a good idea, because the bats were out tonight, swooping hither and thither overhead, hunting insects I expect. We seem to have a healthy bat population here, and I appreciate the service they provide hunting pests. Also they are really cute.
I walked around the park and as the sun went down I spied lightning striking in the far distance.
I went on the swings for a bit, and then when I went to unlock my bike, the biggest spider in Oregon skittered up and chilled just underneath my bicycle.
A good night for ghoulies, ghosties, and long-leggedy beasties.
Watch this space, I've got new posts coming up soon,
Have you seen "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra"? It's an amazingly effective spoof of 50's era B-horror movies, a genre that I am an enormous admirer of.
The film is perfect, complete with cheapo special effects and alternatively stilted/hammy performances from the cast. But it's the script is the most brilliant part; it manages to be period accurate, yet still thought-provoking and intentionally hilarious.
I mention all this because the filmaker, Larry Blamire has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund production of the upcoming threequel to Lost Skeleton, "The Lost Skeleton Walks Among Us", and the promotional video is hilarious and worth a view in its own right! Enjoy!
This is amazing! Setup hidden cameras in a beautifully dilapidated abandoned house, wait for camera people to show up to take photos of the beautiful decay, then BOOM, send in the Owl Man.
It's great to see these authentic reactions to a horror movie scenario.
Apparently this was promotional material for a film called "Lord of
Tears". Sounds good, the trailer looks creepy enough too. I'll have to
check it out.
In related horror flick news, I watched "Frankenstein's Army" last night. Longtime residents of the internet amazing teaser trailer for "Worst Case Scenario" that made the rounds a few years ago (2004 I think!). The project never came to fruition, but the special FX man Richard Raaphorst who directed it went on to produce this
"Frankenstein's Army" follows a small group of Soviet soldiers deep in German territory, who stumble upon a quaint little village, containing quaint a little subteranean laboratpory, run by a quaint little Nazi scientist bearing the proud heritage of the quaint little Frankenstein family line.
It's one of the best horror movies I've seen in recent memory. Flawed yet believable, even likeable, characters; wonderful unsettling atmosphere; and seriously beautiful cinematography. I definitely recommend a viewing for any horror fan!