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.

The vampires never showed up

photo source

We saw Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Tuesday night. They’re on a 40th anniversary tour, and they still put on a damn good show. The set was all hits, practically a “best of” album collection, and that was okay. The crowd trended older, but you couldn’t tell by the energy they were putting out. This woman in her 50’s sitting just behind us kept screaming “Whoo!… Yeah… Let’s go…” in a raspy voice. She was in the thralls of that sort of ecstatic joy everyone should feel at some point. I think if someone had asked her to die for Tom Petty, she would have.

Tom Petty was visibly amused by the degree to which the crowd was worshipping him. He’d raise his arms, the crowd would cheer; he’d lower his arms, the crowd would quiet down, though not completely. He’d laugh and do it again. He played with that Theremin of human voices for a few moments, then mumbled delightedly into the microphone about the “real mojo on this crowd.” A priest raising up vast quantities of energy to feed the unknowable gods of rock n roll.

It was a great show, and a truly positive experience that I think everyone in that building needed. The Heartbreakers are still stellar musicians, and they love their fans just as much as they are loved. These are things to heed when one is working to build a own cult following.

The crowds were fairly orderly leaving, flowing smoothly towards the main parking garage. Down a sidewalk, around a corner, across a small parking lot, and through a narrow gate that only fit two at a time. Then the stairwell, which is half in shadow under an old oak tree. Hundreds of people, flushed with beer, stoned, happy and sedate.

Everyone got to their cars. Everyone tried to leave.

We pulled out of our parking spot and into the lane, then sat there for nearly 45 minutes. I had a vision of vampire swarms rising up out the tunnels beneath downtown Austin, slowly feasting their way up the parking garage. I pointed out to my husband that the truck in front of us was the best engine candidate for building a barbecue grill, and that we should remember that if and when the situation devolved into cannibalism.

People started getting out of their cars, just a few at first, then in growing numbers, most of them walking towards the teasing shadows of the ground-level stairwell and the unknown dangers of after-midnight on a Tuesday. We did not see any of those people come back.

A few others went around the corner and down the ramp, looking for answers. And they did come back, strange knowledge in their eyes. I looked at my husband, and he nodded. We needed to know. I got out of the car.

I immediately started to choke on 45 minutes of accumulated car fumes, but I waved at my husband that I was fine and started walking. Past the pickup of people we might have to eat, past the Mercedes and monstrous SUV still battling over the last precious inches that would determine who turned that corner first. Down the ramp, past three different cars where couples were yelling in three different dialects of Spanish. Then the ramp’s side cracked open, allowing me to see down below into the next level. I stood there for a moment, and jumped when a car shifted about ten feet forward. And another car immediately backed out into that space, and the line did not move again. There was no ripple forward. No sirens, no supernatural monsters gorging on trapped prey. Only a demand by natural forces, the forces of unbending mathematical laws, that we sit, and we wait. I turned, coughing again as I made my way back.

I spoke to no one on the way back, and no one asked what I had seen. I explained to Reed that we were never getting out of there. Defeated, we put on a podcast interviewing Neil Gaiman about American Gods, and waited.

Review: The Historian

The Historian
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved it, loved it, loved it.

The audio production is great, too, with two performers following the different story threads (the book itself is framed interestingly, with stories within stories as the protagonist sifts through documents and journals and letters that discuss other documents and letters and journals, etc.).

This is a book for nerds who enjoy high level scholarship, history buffs, and anyone who has ever written a collation paper. This is also a book for fans of the original Dracula novel, as the entire book is something of an homage to that book’s storytelling through journals, letters, and news clippings.

So good. And creepy. This is definitely a horror novel, a slow, creeping in the darkness where you can’t see it until it’s too late horror novel.

View all my reviews