Halloween Pictures!

plastic skeleton and vase with black roses - halloween decorations

Halloween was kind of exhausting this year, with everything a bit too last minute, and shitty weather that made it hard to set up the day before the party. But we ploughed through these various obstacles, and plenty of people braved the cold to come hang out with us.

I’m pretty worn out, and today is the first day of National Novel Writing Month, so here is a post of pictures of the decorations!

 

halloween decorations of fake church
The theme was around Hammer Horror Dracula movies, which involve dozens of scenes in deconsecrated churches. I put that backdrop of ‘gothic’ windows together in two days. It deserved two months, but everyone liked it. Also cobwebs, black candles, and lots of wine.

 

 

bottle with label that reads Blood of Dracula
Taste the Blood of Dracula is a Hammer Horror film where Dracula is resurrected in a Satanic ritual from a bottle of his dried blood. The text says: Blood of Dracula – Do Not Taste! May cause convulsions, spasms, delusions of grandeur, cravings for raw meat, B-12 deficiencies, chronic anemia, Vitamin D deficiencies, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to blessed objects, redness of the eyes, compulsions to resurrect or otherwise serve the Prince of Darkness, spontaneous garlic allergy, sensitivity to running water, may develop skin rash when in physical contact with silver, silver plate, or silver alloys, severe insomnia, bloodlust, serial killing or other violent behaviors. Please seek out medical or spiritual guidance if/when any of these symptoms develop.

 

halloween decoration fountain of blood with zombie head
Bruce and Patricia, who hosted the party, put this monstrosity together. Red-dyed water, with a zombie head. Hard to see in the flash, but I put green water proof lights in the top ring of water. I was delighted when they sent us video after putting the fountain together.
halloween decorations table with vases and skulls
Decorations just set up before putting out the food. Big skulls, tiny skulls, various decorations, cobwebs, “Halloween mesh cloth,” and vases leftover from my wedding and repurposed.

 

 

chiminea with pumpkin lights
The picture doesn’t do this thing justice. It was super cute in person. The broken chiminea is filled with pumpkin lights. In person it looked like a little glowing pumpkin patch. It was Reed’s idea.

 

skull and vase - halloween decorations
A closeup of table decorations. I bought the last of these styrofoam skulls that Michael’s had, on clearance. I have a lot of skulls now. That vase has gotten a lot of mileage. For my wedding last winter, I painted the insides blue with glitter. I repurposed them with a base layer of gray paint, and a layer of textured spray paint for a stone urn look.

plastic skeleton and vase with black roses - halloween decorations
My friend’s preteen helped distribute the skeletons, and was proud of this layout. I found those black roses on Amazon. They were pretty inexpensive. They’re made of some kind of foam that feels like leather and keep their shape better than cloth roses. I loved their look in the ‘stone’ vases.

 

Cardboard Madness

Yesterday’s big project was an engineering feat of pure madness, but now my tombstone template exists and nothing can stop me.

cardboard cut into a template to make tombstones

Apologies for the terrible picture. I’ll make it up to you when I get good shots of the graveyard.

Today I’m tackling the gothic windows backdrop, which looks amazing in my head. I also have to do a big thrifting run to find some last minute things (like my costume).

We got most of the lighting figured out last night. That usually ends up being done at the last minute, so I’m very pleased that it’s been taken care of and we can plan around the lighting rather than trying to fit the lights we have to a layout created in daylight.

Tomorrow I have to make most of the food (after a day of painting), and that’s going to be pretty intense. Cookies, dips, some other appetizers, maybe cupcakes.

It’s finally cold enough for synthetic fiber yoga pants

squirrel skull

The shivering started halfway through my frozen fruit smoothie, and I had to put on house shoes and a sweater in order to finish breakfast. The temperature dropped to 41 F last night, which means I can wear clothes made out of things besides cotton or linen and not feel like I’m dying. Praise the gods, the weather has truly cooled off in Texas.

Something about the shift into fall seems to wake me up, like a creature that hibernates through the blistering heat of summer and craves cold air and long nights.

Our Halloween party is this weekend. We’re scrambling a bit this year, because of Reed’s business trip earlier in the month, but Dracula’s tomb is slowly coming together. We have been studiously watching the Hammer Horror vampire movies, with Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. Several of them are surprisingly good, and it’s a shame how hard they are to track down. They’re campy, with the blood effects done with thick red paint, but the acting is generally excellent and the writing ranges from bizarre to almost brilliant.

I still have to figure out food for the party. I had a vision of hors d’oeuvres inspired by weird 1960’s party food, really bizarre cheese sculptures, that sort of thing. We’ll see what actually happens. And we aren’t making boozy punch this year, which is a big deal. Last year I got a bunch of black box wine, and noticed that that was totally demolished, while the alcoholic punch was hardly touched. Apparently this is a sign of a maturing crowd.

So we’ll have punch for the kids, and some kind of liquor on hand for anyone who really wants something sweet and boozy.

I still have to find my costume. I want to dress up as Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing, which means finding a ridiculous tweed suit that fits me, a gray wig, and some scar makeup for my neck. That’s going to take some doing, and I probably will have to do some pretty intense thrifting tomorrow after I finish whatever client work I do for the day. I am glad that it will be cold Saturday night, so that costume will work.

I’ve been working on these black LED candles for our ‘Satanic altar,’ which is a reference to a couple of Hammer films where Dracula is resurrected by a dark ritual. They’re made out of PVC, hot glue, and battery-powered tea lights. I want to do one more layer of highlighting the drips with red, then I think they’ll be good to go.

While out enjoying the cooler temperatures, I found a gruesome surprise peeping out of the landscaping of our apartment building. I’m pretty sure it’s a squirrel. Can’t you just hear its ghost squealing, “Happy Halloween!” as someone walks by?

squirrel skull

I need to go air out our cold weather clothes and assess my collection of hot tea. It hasn’t been cold like this before Halloween in several years. I’m curious to see what it bodes for the winter. I may need to switch from fruit smoothies to some sort of hot breakfast soon.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

I found the most magnificent pillow at World Market today.

Pillow with grave robbing scene from Frankenstein
That, my friends, is a throw pillow depicting the grave robbing scene in the original Frankenstein film.  October is the only time of year that I can really shop for home decor.

Our apartment is a bit of a wreck at the moment, filled to brimming with Halloween projects in progress, and bags upon bags of paper bats. I can’t believe our party is a week from tonight.

The temperature has finally dropped a bit here in Central Texas.  The mornings are crisp and the crow that winters in our neighborhood has been making a racket. 

This means that the time of baking experimental casseroles is again upon us.  The inaugural event was last night, utterly destroying my kitchen for the sake of a rather bland attempt at cheese sauce that desperately needed both salt and a completely different recipe.  I call it Vegetable Mac & Cheese of Failure.

Happily, we found that a liberal dusting of Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning salvaged the grayish concoction.  We will be subsisting on the casserole for most of the weekend.

Veggie mac and cheese
Tonight we are heading to SCARE for a Cure, one of the best haunted houses in Texas.  It’s a fantastic haunt; nearly an hour long walk through of a scripted story that involves puzzle rooms, sacrificing someone in your group, and (hopefully) defeating the boss at the end.  It’s a Halloween tradition, we go every October.  And we always get covered in stage blood.

Tomorrow is a Halloween party prop-building work day; we lure people in with promises of pizza, then give them cardboard, paint, and vague instructions.  Cityscapes are not a fast build. Nor is an atmospheric representation of the Adam West Bat Cave.

If you need some Halloween horror in your reading queue this week, I recommend any of Thomas Ligotti’s short stories. I recently picked up Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe, anthologies of his works in the 1980’s. Imagine someone who consumed Lovecraft as an influence, and then surpassed him. Lovely, twisted stuff.

I’m going to read another of his stories before we head out to the haunt.  Right here on the couch with my amazing new pillow.

Time is Weird in 2016: Obligatory New Year’s Post

The last few months have been rather exciting.

frankensteinIn October, Reed and I built the equivalent of a B-level Frankenstein’s lab for our Halloween party, “Disco Frankenstein: It’s Alive, Alive, It’s Stayin’ Alive.” We also built a 7ft tall Monster. We may scale back a bit this year.

In November I wrote a book! I finished NaNoWriMo for the first time ever, and ended up with something that has a beginning, middle, and end. This has never happened before, not even something I could call a Zero Draft, and I’m still reeling a bit with disbelief that I finally did it. I will be rewriting and revising this spring. And then we’ll see.

In December I started putting together the business plan for my freelance writing business. It’s scary and exciting. I’m hoping that by the end of 2016 I will be able to support myself off of my writing and finally quit the day job scene. I am building out a more professional website for that purpose. Which brings me to what’s going on with Cheese and Glory.

Cheese and Glory has gone through several phases; weird personal whatever blog, general geek zine, place to keep my articles on monster movies, a portfolio. I have decided, after months of debate, that Cheese and Glory will be my main blog, my personal blog, and continue being a disorganized mess of anything and everything that strikes my fancy. I am making a conscious decision to not ‘niche’ Cheese and Glory.

Cheese and Glory is basically my playground where I will talk about whatever the hell I want.  Anything I write here that might be a good portfolio post will get cross posted to my professional writer blog. I’m not going to put much effort into marketing C&G, although if I write something that I think other people might appreciate, I’ll toss it into the Twitter machine and let some of my marketing tools put it in front of those people.

I am taking the advice of author Austin Kleon and will be stealing like an artist. Some of my ideas about what will happen to Cheese and Glory and based on terribleminds.com, the website of Chuck Wendig, who I think is a really cool guy and hope to one day call a peer and maybe even have a beer with. I am also taking structural ideas from morning.computer, the blog of Warren Ellis, who I’m not sure would be flattered or horrified or both by such a thing. I also rather like Cherie Priest’s blog, and not only because of the kittengrams.

I am not going to state my goals here, only that I have them. I go into 2016 with a vague intention to reinvent myself, wake a few things up, and murder some bad habits. If I pick up some new friends through this medium, or the gods forbid, some fans, that will be wonderful.

Here we go.

 

Halloween On My Mind

We have started planning for our big Halloween party, which means that I’m hanging out on places like Halloween Forum (amazing resource), and scouring Youtube for tutorials that can be adapted to our party them (Disco Frankenstein).  I just found a diy graveyard on Youtube by ScaryLadyVideos that I am a bit in love with.  Check it out below.

October is the craziest month every year

October is crazy for us, because we throw a huge, themed, Halloween party every year. Right before things kick into high gear, we vanish for a week into Fantastic Fest in late September.  I’ve been gluing eyes into roses for two weeks now and I think the chemicals are going to my head. I ordered an insane amount of LED candles last night so that we can recreate the devil prison altar from Prince of Darkness. And I joined an all women RPG group that’s playing Fate Core, which I’m not very familiar with. Busy time.

Also, I’m tired of trying to find time to write a really great review post for everything I saw at FF, so here’s a list, ordered by the release date if they have one:

Automata

automata_ver2_xlgSet in the middle of a slow burn Apocalypse, Automata does what good science does; Automata asks “What if…?” and tries to answer that question. Humanity struggling against gradual extinction in the aftermath of a solar storm decades ago that managed to rip through the atmosphere, irradiate chunks of the earth, and knock out most of civilization. Where people survive, a vast army of robots, originally built with the intention of working in the irradiated areas to stop the spread of a growing desert, is an integral part of every level of society. In reference to Isaac Asimov’s original Laws of Robotics, a supposedly uncorruptable set of programs prevent all these robots from ever hurting anyone or advancing themselves into a more independent intelligence.

If you’re into apocalypse films, or great robot science fiction, you need to watch this movie.

Limited U.S. release this weekend, October 10th.

 

Horns

hornsSo good! Based on the dark urban fantasy novel by the wonderful writer Joe Hill, Horns is fun, Horns is creepy, Horns an is absolutely heartwrenching. It’s a beautiful love story told in flashbacks while a young man searches for the real murderer of the girl he loved, while being accused himself. He also starts to transform into a monster after turning his back on God for taking his love away in such a horrible way. Only some people can see him as the monster, and those people find themselves compelled to tell him their deepest, darkest secrets. This helps with his search for the murderer.

Great date night movie. Please do NOT take the kids to see it just because Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) stars in it. It’s rated R for a reason.

It comes out Halloween weekend.

 

John Wick

johnwickGreat action movie. Lots of bullets to the head. Keanu Reeves’ character does not one single time question the nature of reality.  Also, the most incredible story of seeking revenge for a murdered dog, ever.

Comes out October 24th.

 

 


Wyrmwood

wyrmwoodposterThis is seriously the best zombie film I have seen in years. I hope, hope, hope that they can swing a full U.S. release, because everyone needs to see it.  Zombies are a source of fuel that have to be captured and hooked up to vehicles, there is the original story of a full zombie witch queen, and it’s hilarious.

It’s also Australian. Australians make really great zombie movies for some reason.

 

 

From the Dark

From-the-Dark-Conor-McMahon-Still-Trench-558x360A decent horror movie offering from Ireland. Creepy, suspenseful atmosphere, slow reveal of the monster. The protagonist is a tough young woman who just keeps making irrational decisions, some of which are so dumb it can knock you out of the movie.  That’s really its only flaw though.  Accept that she’s really impulsive already, and panicked out of her mind, and you’re in for a good ride.

I’m not sure when or if there will be a U.S. release.

Norway

NorwayTitle-thumb-630xauto-48932Trippy vampire movie from Greece. There’s no real story, just a bunch of bits mashed together that seem genuinely interesting but never actually pay off.  It’s fun stylistically, and I’m glad I saw it, but it’s not really worth seeking out. It may be that I lack the necessary knowledge of Greek pop culture to get it. The whole is based on an 80’s Greek pop song about a vampire, and thinking of it like a music video does make it a little bit better.