Saturday, October 27, 2012

Z Is For Zygotes

Just kidding. It's for zombies.

The brain-eating, flesh dropping, rotting walking dead that we all know and love.

Wait, you do love zombies, right? I hate to speak for you, but I naturally assumed everyone and their mother loves the living dead. Granted, my mother doesn't love the living dead. In fact, she doesn't like horror movies at all. It has something to do with them being unhealthy for our brains and creating bad vibes. Like you shouldn't see those horrible things, even if they are fake.

And I don't necessarily disagree with her. But it just so happens that horror is my favourite genre, right above romantic comedies, and zombies are my best mates. Old chums, really.

Except, there was a time when zombies weren't so popular. In the last decade, the undead have risen in the monster ranks. They have now been crowned king of the prom. No longer are they B-horror players. Movies, graphic novels, video games, television programs and books, zombies are saturating our entertainment field. And I'm not complaining. Honestly, I think it's gore-ific. People even gather together in different cities to do zombie-walks. Even more awesome, are the zombie themed scavenger hunts and obstacle courses out there.

But what is it about them that people love so much?

Well, I can only speak for myself, but it basically comes down to the fact that zombies are us. They are scary because we are only a bite or blood spatter away from fine-dining on our own siblings. Not only that, but zombies often bring with them the apocalypse. This is another fascinating prospect for mankind. The end of the world? Sign us up. We all fancy ourselves survivors. We envision ourselves with amazing weapons, badass clothing and an attitude that will get us out of anything. No one wants to confront the fact that they're most likely going to become zombie fodder.

And why are we so invested in the end of the world?

Firstly, it's because of all the free stuff. Imagine not having to pay for anything ever again? Secondly, I suspect it has something to do with guilt. Look at what we are doing to the world. There has to be some sort of fallout? It might as well be an economic crash, followed by a rare and lethal virus, and ending with a select few socially detached individuals kicking ass and taking names. That's why we are always to blame. Whether it is big business, government, military, or most likely, a nut bar scientists trying to create a virus that makes people angry as hell, we are all to blame because we stand by and let these things happen. So, what is our punishment? Other than the crippling guilt we experience on a day to day basis. Zombies. A lot of them. And they are hungry. For our brains.

In many ways, people subconsciously think we deserve the zombie apocalypse. Especially, Christians. Okay, okay, I was just teasing. Kind of. Zombies are in fact sort of biblical. Wait, you might say, zombies are in the bible? Well, kind of. At least the prediction that they're going to be making an appearance one day. I mean, Zechariah 14:12 clearly has some zomb-tastic undertones going on:

"And the LORD will send a plague on all the nations that fought against Jerusalem. Their people will become like walking corpses, their flesh rotting away. Their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths." 

What do we draw from this?

God is pissed people messed with Jerusalem. And, technically, still are. And zombies, or at least the idea of them, have been around for a long time. But where did the word, or term, 'zombie' come from? Dr. Google tells me this word is found in Haitian folklore and Voodoo. This folklore also tells us that zombies are walking corpses. Except, isn't that what vampires and mummies are too? Not to mention ghouls, which we all learned about when I did the riveting 'G' posting earlier this month. Monster genealogy is more complex than I anticipated. All of these creatures are different, but they are all dead corpses walking around.

To tell you the truth, I can only surmise they are different because of their location, the mythology that surrounds them, and probably they way they die and are brought back to life. It's all about location, location, location. And wound dressing. And who bit who.

A bit more folklore from Haiti...

Apparently, way over there in the Caribbean  it was thought that a sorcerer could steal the soul of someone who has died recently and bring them back to life to do their bidding. This would really cut down on the housework. I'd just give them a list of chores to do. All jokes aside, the Haitians don't believe the zombies are what pose the real danger here, but the master of the zombie. Interesting, no?

At the end of the day, zombies are entertaining. And I think we identify with them. The soulless drone, constantly on the go, no sleep, just work work work. It's how I feel Monday to Friday. And the zombie apocalypse has a certain appeal because we envision it to be this awesome world of looting and survival of the fittest. That's all fantasy. In reality, the majority of people would be curled in the foetal position, crying out for their mommies. Unfortunately, their mommies will most likely be trying to eat them.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Y Is For Youth

It's not true that Halloween is for youngsters.

At the end of the day, while kids do adore the costumes and candy, I think the holiday is embraced by adults more than our munchkin counterparts. Yes, I did just refer to myself as an adult. And, if you were wondering, it did feel weird.

Why is this?

Because Halloween allows for adults to act like children. We get to dress up, hangout with our friends, eat candy and freak ourselves out. It's okay to be afraid. To scream. Hide our faces in the pillow. Sit in the middle of the floor surrounded by a mountain of candy wrappers and play with a Oujia board.

It's the only Holiday, that isn't really a holiday, and it makes us feel young again. It isn't financially draining like Christmas. Or reflective like New years. Or depressing like Remembrance Day. Or riddled with expectations like Valentine's Day. And, unlike our birthdays, it promotes feeling young.

It's the one day of the year where it is all about fun. Oh, and it's the only day of the year where you're encouraged to scare children. Your own. Others. It doesn't matter. Your job is to freak out kids. Especially teenagers.

Not to mention, there are things the kids can't do, so it actually pays to be older on Halloween. No, I'm not talking about drinking games or trampy costumes. (Don't even get me started on my sexy kitten, cop, or nurse rant) I'm thinking about scary movies that are 18A. Haunted houses with age restrictions. Rides where you have to be a certain height. Themed bars and night clubs. Buying fireworks. The uncensored versions of ghost stories. Eating a whole pumpkin pie and not answering to anyone but yourself.

See, there are advantages to being old. Even though it might not feel like it most of the year.

This year, I don't have massive plans for Halloween. I plan on handing out candy and watching John Carpenter's Halloween. Yes, this is low key, but I can't think of anything I want to do more. Seeing the kids all dressed up. Giving handfuls of candy to five-year-olds. Listening to firecrackers being set off. Curled up with a scary movie. The smell of burnt pumpkin and rain-soaked pavement. The wind howling.

Sounds perfect to me.

What are your plans?

(And can you believe tomorrow is 'Z'?)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

X Is For Xenoglossia

Uh, xenoglossia? What now?

Xenoglossia, or Xenoglossy, is the ability claimed by mediums and clairvoyants that allows them to speak, and write, languages they are unfamiliar with. It can happen when they channel spirits and otherworldly beings.

This, of course, isn't the most scientific or popular explanation of the word, just the one that ties in nicely with my October themed blog challenge. What? Don't give me that look. I fully intend to share with you what most people consider Xenoglossia to be.

Basically, from what I understand, most who experience this marvel aren't doing it while in a trance or religion-related act, but while in a 'normal' state of mind, performing every day activities. The people who have done studies on these happenings have found that there is often a manifestation of secondary personalities and the 'normal' personality is often unaware of their secondary one. In these cases, the other language is most often fragmented and limited, with only very few being native-like and highly developed. While the first instance can be reasoned away by learning bits and bobs of language through television programs or books or a neighbour who speaks in another tongue, the latter is a bit harder to explain.

And then there is the paranormal explanation. Some people believe xenoglossia is an indicator of reincarnation, as well. But how can one even prove this? You either believe in it, or you don't. Kind of like demons and the devil.

Yup, that's right. Possession.

So, it's Friday night and you're standing around your sister who just happens to be possessed and you decided it's time to get a priest in and expel the evil spirit. Nothing like a possession to kick start your weekend. There you are, priest on you left, praying mother on your right, and sister with a spinning head in the middle of the bed. All of a sudden, she starts talking. At first you're like, "Hey, Sis, speak up, I have no idea what your saying." But then you realize, it isn't English.

It's Latin. And it's creeping you out.

Well, that's xenoglossia too. It's the sudden acquisition of a language not previously spoken. In a lot of reported cases, the person who is experiencing this unique phenomenon is speaking a dead language.  And by a lot of reported cases, I mean, in a lot of movies. While people do become possessed and exorcisms have been done in the real world, I'm drawing most of my information from films, mostly the Exorcist.

That said, my mom insists my dad speaks another language in his sleep.

Something similar to this strange occurrence is called glossolalia, which is known as speaking in tongues. This is often seen at religious services. When people are being saved and having fits and babbling incoherently. If you don't know what I'm talking about, look up a documentary called Jesus Camp. It's one of the most terrifying films I've ever seen in my entire life. And it's real.

Okay, now that we know what Xenoglossia is, let's explore whether it is real.

Well, as a matter of fact, a lot of people say 'no'. In almost all cases of xenoglossia, the dead or unknown language turns out to be no language. Meaning, it's all made up. Sure, it sounds all spooky and crazy, with convincing cadence and intonations, but it's just gibberish. That doesn't mean the possessed or medium or clairvoyant is faking it. A lot fo people think of this phenomenon as psychological and not linguistic. People who have undergone brain studies while experiencing this strange happening have shown to be using the emotion parts of their brains, rather than the speech sections.

So, there you have it. Xenoglossia. Fun for the whole family.

Now, a snippet from Stigmata.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

W Is For Winter

Wait, how could an October themed challenge have a post about winter? Pretty easily. I made it so. Even though October, November and a fair portion of December are all technically Autumn, the latter two feel like winter. We associate seasons more with how the weather is than what month it happens to be. So, when November takes the nose-dive in temperature, we start feeling like it's winter. And thus, we have a tie in with October, because it's the month before November and, in the back of heads, there is a nagging voice telling us that "Winter is coming". And not only because the new season of Game of Thrones will be starting and 'Winter is coming' is the motto of House Stark. But because winter is in fact coming.

A lot of us have mixed feelings about it.

Shorter days. The urge to hibernate. Coldness. Numb noses and fingers and toes. Increased heating bills. Nervous driving. Near accidents. Greyness. Depressed people. Spending money you don't have on people who are ungrateful.

Okay, okay. Maybe I don't have mixed feelings on the subject. And Winter isn't so much coming as it is looming in the distance, taunting. October is my favourite month. Well, the colder it gets, the crankier I get. So, I am writing this post in an effort to cheer you all up, and myself. And I am doing a bang up job, aren't I? I bet you all feel warm and cosy now.

Except, there are wonderful things about winter. Give me a moment to think them up.

All right, here we are. The top ten things for you (or me) to look forward to this Winter:

1. Christmas Movies - I may not be a huge Christmas fan, but I do love these holiday movies. The Muppets Christmas Carol being at the top of the list.

2. The first snow fall. No matter how annoying and slushy snow becomes that first snow fall is absolutely beautiful.

3. More cuddling. Cold weather = more cuddling. Whether that is with your friends, a dog or a cute boy, it doesn't matter. All that matters is stealing someone else's body heat to make yourself more comfortable.

4. Food. Ever noticed how people feed you more in the Winter? Well, that's a bright side. The extra pounds you put on aren't, but we will deal with those come Spring.

5. Winter clothing. I love toques, mittens, and scarves. Not to mention hoodies. Winter gives us a chance to bundle up and look all cute and adorable in our snow gear.

6. Hot beverages. While most of us tend to drink tea and coffee throughout the year, the winter really promotes the consumption of other beverages. Ones we don't think about in the dead heat of Summer like hot cocoa, apple cider, hot toddies and eggnog lattes. (I actually don't know if eggnog lattes exist. I might have just made that up)

7. Ugly sweaters. We are allowed to dress in hideous sweaters throughout this season without being judged. Actually, ugly sweaters are almost mandatory.

8. Fire. I love fireplaces. It's such a shame they are phasing them out and putting gas ones in homes these days. This is why I want to buy an older house so I can have a real fireplace. The smell of word burning and the warmth that comes off a fire is one of the only reasons I visit people in the winter months. I myself have a fireplace, but it is gas. And not too thrilling.

9. Lights. The colder it gets the more lights go up. And I do love lights. Driving around. Looking at all the crazy houses. It's one of the nicer parts of Christmas.

10. The promise of Spring. Okay, maybe this is a cop out, but we do have something to look forward to. Spring thaw. When the snow and evil ice goes away and in its place only lovely greenery is left. Oh, how I am longing for the greenery. And the snow hasn't even fell yet. Probably not a good sign.

With all this said, it is a urban myth that more people kill themselves in the winter time. Grey's Anatomy taught me that people don't actually commit suicide more, because they don't want their families to witness it. But it is truth that people become more depressed. And I don't blame them. Let's just try to keep our chins up and our naughty bits warm. We certainly don't want them falling off.

And if Jack Skellington can get behind Winter and Christmas, so can we!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

V Is For Vampire

Good old Dracula used to be the most famous of all the vampires but seems to have handed his cobwebbed crown off to the emo vamp Edward. This fills me with sadness. When I was a girl, vampires were something to be feared. A creature? In the night? Living in a coffin? That can turn into a bat? Who wants to suck your blood? It used to be frightening to think about. Now it's all perfect hair and trendy clothes and not ageing and getting all gross looking when they miss a feed. 

And it used to be the sun was our friend. Even that's been taken away from us. The myths have been rewritten. These creatures of the night no longer burst into flames and burn from the inside out during daylight hours. No. They have creams to protect them. And special rings. Some of them don't even burn at all. They sparkle. Which is a bit ridiculous. Since when is being covered in gold stripper sparkles terrifying?

Some of the new breed of vampires don't even sleep in coffins! I know. Isn't that tragic? 

Almost as tragic as the whole bat thing. What bat thing, you might ask. The non-existent one, obviously. Bats haven't been likened to vampires since the cult classics. Where did it go? I'm not too sure. I think it made them less appealing for paranormal romancers and thus went the way of sunlight being a threat. I mean, you can't have a swoon-worthy vampire hanging out at the local hotspot, picking up chicks, and have them changing into bats or bursting into flames and burning to death. All that ash and bat poop simply isn't attractive.  

Yes, I mock. Because vampires are no longer a threat. Everyone seems to want to date them, not stake them. The things is, I don't think we can place all the blame on Twilight and the Sookie Stackhouse series. It's actually a combined effort from a lot of different sources. Interview with a Vampire and Buffy the Vampire Slayer all played a part in vampires morphing from predators to gentleman callers. I mean, what fourteen-year-old in 2002 didn't want to date Angel? And let's face it, Louis de Pointe du Lac and Lestate de Lioncourt were prettier than any girl on their wedding day. Those locks. The flawless complexions. Not to mention their lusty appetite for women. 

But they still sucked blood. Human blood. Their sharp teeth and ruthless mealtime manners made them terrifying. As vampires should be. 

That's the thing, though, I don't think it's wrong to have pretty vampires. No, no, no. It's part of the myth. And vamps have always had the ability to make the human-folk swoon. Mind control, mind compulsion, hypnosis, glamour. Whatever you call it, our feeble minds have always been weak to the ways of these blood suckers. Which was another reason they were so dangerous. 

These days, vampires don't feel dangerous. They are too busy going to school, driving Volvos, eating in diners, looking for synthetic blood, dining on animals, hanging out in sunlight and falling in love and acting like petulant children to feel dangerous. 

People can go ahead and disagree with me too, but there is no way any woman would ever have considered dating Nosferatu. I mean...can you imagine if tweenie-boppers had this guy's picture on their walls? 
I'd actually pay good money to see that happen. 

In the end, I fear there is no fear. Perhaps we should start a movement to bring back the original blood suckers. To reinstate the terror and remove vampires from the romance genre and return them to horror where they rightfully belong. Come on, say it with me, "Stake Don't Date". 

It's my new motto. Pretty awesome, right? 

I'm also making t-shirts up that say "Bring Back Drac". Has a certain ring to it, doesn't it? Make your orders here. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

U Is For Unnerving (Or Uncomfortable)

Why do people love Halloween so much? 

Is it the costumes and candy? The special editions of their favourite television shows? The Horror movies? Or decorations? 

Much like Christmas, Halloween has a huge following - some might even say it is cultish - but it isn't the warm, let's all hold hands and show each other we love one another feelings. It's being unnerved. Uncomfortable. Creeped out. Terrified. Frightened. 

In this month, North Americans will spend millions of dollars on spooky costumes, haunted attractions, scary movies and anything that will give them a thrill and chill. It is ingrained in us to believe we should avoid our fears. Close our eyes at the frightening parts. Run away from the bad. Except these days people disregard the most common learned behaviour and chose to embrace their fears instead of run away from them. And that is because we love being scared. And that's exactly what October is selling. 

Human beings are funny creatures. We need to explore what we do not know, and we go out of our way to try and master situations that are threatening or dangerous. This comes down to control. As we approach losing control, we get a bigger thrill, more satisfaction. Of course, we would be insane to try to do this in real life. If someone is chasing us with a knife, we are going to run...unless we have a death wish. So, while we love the thought of facing danger and staring down evilness, we also want to have safety. 

Here enters artificially created horror that won't actually harm us. It certainly isn't the same. No, not at all. But it still produces the adrenaline spike we crave. The prickling of skin. Uncontrollable giggles. Shiver up our spine. Manic laughter. Cringing in our seats. We love these feelings because ultimately they make us feel alive. Whenever there is a race in our heart and a rush in our blood, we are reminded that we are here, participating. 

And we love that reminder. 

More so than being alive, horror and Halloween allow us to explore the unknown (another 'U' word). We revel in the darker side of life. That which we do not understand, and which might not even exist, excites us. There's a reason vampires are so popular and ghost stories are shared around camp fires. The supernatural enthrals us. What is even more interesting is that this curiosity for the mystical, mysterious and macabre only grows as we get older. Though some children are fascinated by witches and ghosts, their fixation with it pales in comparison to adults. 

Often, children are less afraid than the grown-ups surrounding them. This can be attributed to the fact that kids don't  understand the reality of life and live in a fantasy land where everything is going to be okay. Adults, on the other hand, know all too well how harmful the world can be. It's this fear of being hurt that makes us react the way we do to horror films, roller-coasters and anything else that has elements of danger. 

On the surface, Halloween appears to be a holiday for children, but this isn't true. If you dig a little deeper, you will see that this month long event is geared towards adults.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

T Is For Trick Or Treating

It's been a long time since I've gone door-to-door asking strangers for candy. Well, at least with me dressed in a costume. I'd probably say over a decade if it didn't date me. The whole idea of sending our most precious things (children) out into the world, sometimes unattended, to knock on strangers doors and ask them for candy, therefore breaking the number one rule of "don't take candy from strangers" amazes and amuses me.

Don't get me wrong, I find it a delight that this tradition of Halloween has lasted. Not only because it was the one thing I looked forward to as a child, but also because it has such a nostalgic feeling around. And it's cool. Super cool.

Now the act of doing this, of trick-or-treating, actually goes by anther name, which I didn't know. This name is Guising. And apparently, us up in North America were late to the game. Halloween became a customary tradition in and around the 1950s, but was actually around since the 1920's, though the saying Trick or Treat wasn't used until 1934. But you see, the act of going door to door for food already existed in Great Britain and Ireland and was called 'souling'. Children and poor folk would sing and say prayers for the departed, meaning the dead, in hopes of receiving cake. And 'guising' has been earliest recorded in Scotland in 1895 and is when masqueraders carried lanterns made out of turnips and went to homes in order to be rewarded by cakes, fruits and money.

Money and cake? Now we're talking. I think that's something all of us can get behind.

That said, even though Guising and Souling predate Trick-Or-Treating, it is the North American version that is prevalent today. Even Mexico has embraced Halloween and this ideology. They call it Calaverita (Spanish for 'little skull') and instead of saying 'trick or treat' the kids say "Can yu give me my little skull?" (in Spanish, though). People then hand out tiny skulls made out of sugar or chocolate. That's the spirit.

 Alright, so I am going to share a little slice of my childhood here, because we've learned enough about the act or tick-or-treating and everyone loves it when I get personal. Right? Okay, let's move on. My father doesn't call it trick-or-treating. We never really did. In our household, or at least by my dad, we referred to it as Halloweening. I think it is from my father that I have adopted tacking 'ing' onto things in order to make them verbs.

So, can I have some cake now?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

S Is For Skulls

A lot of these posts often reflect on when I was a little girl and have a tedious amount of yammering in them. I fear it's boring. Well, I don't fear it. Honestly, I don't give a crap. Lately, I've come to realize the posts and videos I do are more for me than anyone else. And that isn't because the lack of interaction. Or maybe it is. Mostly it's because I use these spaces as a way to clear my head, kind of like how teenagers use diaries. In this day and age, blogging and vlogging is like having a diary. Except you show the world.

And really, when it comes to mine, the jokes on the world.

Wait, what am I talking about? Oh, right, skulls.

Bones excite me. Whenever I find them at the beach or in the forest, I want to know what kind of animal they are from, or person. Unfortunately, I'm not scientificy enough to be able to tell if it is avian, reptilian, human or from another mammal. Unless there's still skin involved, then it isn't about the bones and more about the flesh and guts. Or if there is a wing. If a bony wing is involved I can put my deerstalker on and figure out it's from a bird.

That said, I have a lot of skulls, fake ones, around my house. Instead of writing about why I like skulls, (becuase they are cool and everything should appreciate what holds and protects the brain, I have decided to give you pictures. Here are some of the skulls and skully things you can find around my house:

Cat Skull:

Sidekick Skull. This is not my Sidekick's skull, (a little small for that) but he gave it to me: 

Snowglobe Skull: 

Glass skull:

Candle Holder Skull: 

Mr. and Mrs Skull:

Pirate Ship Mast Skull:

Necklace Skull:

Bracelet Skull:

Keychain Skull:

Fruit Bowl Skull:

Coffee Cup Skull:

As you can see, I have a healthy amount of skull stuff around the old homestead. This isn't really even the half of it, but I didn't want to do too much digging. Skulls are a key component to any good Halloween. And, apparently, home decor.

If all goes as planned, I'll see you tomorrow for 'T'!

Friday, October 19, 2012

R Is For Rotting

Of course, a lot of you are probably thinking I'm going to start yammering on about hacked off body parts and gooey gashes, and I might. But when I selected 'rotting' for the subject, I was actually thinking off the change in season, not gory slasher flicks or reanimated corpses. 

Everything on the forest floor is turning to rot and the scent of decaying undergrowth is present. The earth is squishy beneath your feet. Every step you take there is a squish and, when you take another, a squash. Mud takes over. The grass is drowned in the autumnal showers. Plants, flowers, leaves and trees wither, their branches droop, the buds and petals fall to the ground, and start to disappear, desperate to avoid the long winter months. 

They say spring and summer are the most colourful, and that might be true, but Autumn is gorgeous, even with the vast amount of decomposition. The oranges and yellows, browns and greens, reds and purples. And, yes, it rains more than a widow cries, but when the sun shines through, it illuminates nature, setting fire to it and capturing the spark of the season. 

And the skeletal leaves are amazing. Have you ever seen one? A rotting, ageing leaf? The flesh dropping away exposing only the veins. They litter the ground, shadows of their former selves, and are macabre and beautiful. It truly is breathtakingly gorgeous. 

The sights of summer rotting and falling away are one thing, but the smells are another. In a vlog I posted about a month ago, I commented on how I could smell fall. It was only a hint, but I picked up on it, and in less than a week the leaves and air had shifted. Summer was moving to the side and Autumn was storming in, unpacking its bags and making itself cosy for the next couple months. It's the shift in season that I smelled, but as it grows stronger, it's rotting. Not of flesh. As we all know, that is a stench one can't get rid of. Or maybe we all don't know that. 

No, the scent is of rotting leaves, fungi, branches, bark, and everything else that falls away. 

This is a depressing time for people. To see everything shift and change. The warmth drifts away. Cold storms in. Colours shift from vibrant colours to browns and blacks. Our tans fade. And we start worrying about Christmas. But it doesn't depress me. Not the rain. Or the death of the foliage around me. It's actually invigorating. 

And just think about how lovely the spring will be when it arrives and the buds of life start peaking out from beneath the layer of cobweb leaves. 

Just for the record, it was really hard not to talk about flesh bits dropping off bone, but I decided to save that for the letter 'Z'. I know you're all waiting for that with your breath held in anticipation. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Q Is For Quilts

Oh, what a boring topic, one might think, but I think I need a break from horror. Not an extended one. A mini one. Besides, the topic to this challenge was not Halloween, it was October. Therefore, I feel I must touch on something other than the macabre and terrifying, in order to keep the people who aren't interested in slasher movies reading. I'm sure thick blankets will do it.

I just rolled my eyes at myself.

Here's the thing, I love quilts. Especially patchwork ones.

I do have a favourite quilt. I've had it forever and it is all patched up. The unfortunate thing, I washed it and my washer ate it. Now there is a big hole in it. I honestly didn't think that could happen! Even though in July my sidekick told me his washing machine ate his sleeping bag so he didn't have one to bring camping. I thought he was lying. You know, in order to share my sleeping bag. Apparently, he might have been telling the truth.

Perhaps I need to give more people the benefit of the doubt.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand.

With October comes a dip in weather, one most people get a bit angsty about, but not I. The chill in the air is one of my most cherished parts of this month. Finally, it cools off and out come the blankets and quilts. They smell a bit musty but work the same way. You wrap and bundle and cozy up. It's far more comforting.

You see, there are certain things that are made better simply by a quilts presence. Tea drinking is one of them. Book reading. Listening to the rain tap on the window. Watching scary movies. The list goes on and on, but at the top of it is cuddling. Yes, I said cuddling. Though I haven't been the biggest cuddler in the past, I'd like to stress how important a quilt and cool weather is to this activity.

For limbs to be intertwined, for comfort to be had, you cannot be sweaty and hot. It just doesn't work. No one likes the feeling of damp skin on damp skin, or sticking to the couch, or the smell of stink from being too warm. In order to cuddle properly, you need a blanket and the temperature to dip. That's what October and Autumn and blustery weather is all about. The promotion of cuddling.

And for everyone who was wonder, the summer is the promotion of getting off your lazy duff and getting outside.

Thankfully, patchwork quilts do have a place all year round. At least over here on the West Coast of Canada. You can take them camping and use them to curl up around a fire. The only down side to this is when you accidentally light them on fire.

I think I want to learn how to quilt.

And thus ends my haphazard 'Q' post for my October A-Z Blog Writing Challenge.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

P Is For Pinhead

Because I motored on past H for Hellraiser and C and B for Clive Barker.

I know. I suck.

Horror author, Clive Barker, has been one of my favourites since I read the story The Hellbound Heart when I was a little girl. For those of you who do not know, the Hellbound Heart was turned into a little film called Hellraiser and, like the story, it revolved around a mysterious puzzle box and the terrible things it does to those who encounter it. When you open the box, the Cenobites come, and they have such sights to show you.

Are you sitting there wondering what a Cenobite is?

Well, they are extra-dimensional beings that take the form of ritually mutilated creatures that have just enough human characteristics so we can identify with them. Sort of. I mean, I can relate to them. They only come here, to Earth, through time and space, which is where the puzzle box comes into play because it acts as a portal. The Cenobites are basically harbingers of pain (and pleasure). It's kind of like their job to torture people. And you thought your work was painful!

The design for these otherworldly creatures came from a few different sources. Mr. Barker drew from punk, Catholicism and the SM clubs he visited in New York and Amsterdam to perfect the Cenobites look and feel. The four main Cenobite in the Hellbound Heart  were all featured in the film Hellraiser. Interestingly enough, Clive was so dissatisfied with how his past works had turned out in film, that he took on the role as director for Hellraiser. In the end, he crafted some seriously awesome looking creatures, but I've always wonder if their clothing was made out of leather or pleather. It's so hard to tell with today's synthetic materials.

While Butterball, Chatterer and the Female all have a certain je ne sais quoi about them, it is Pinhead that truly tickles my fancy. But when I say this, I am talking about Hellraiser, the movie, because though Pinhead was in The Hellbound Heart, he was portrayed as a sexually ambiguous follower and was describe to have a breathy voice, almost that of a little girl. Not quite the commanding denizen of hell that we know and love. Even more, he actually only appeared in the first part of the novella whereas in the films he was the main focus and viewed as the leader of the Cenobites. Overtime, Pinhead has become one of the most memorable, and witty, villains of the beloved horror genre.

Oh, the word on the street is that Clive Barker didn't like the name Pinhead and, in the first film, Doug Bradley (the dude under the pins) was actually credited simply as 'lead cenobite'. No, it's true. Just watch the credits.

Anyway, what makes Pinhead so great?

Not too sure, to be honest. There's something about Mr. Bradley, (who happens to be a school chum of Clive Barker) his voice and movements, that commandeers the viewers attention. I can't think of a better person to have played this role. His emotionless eyes. The glint off the pins driven into his skull. Or the matter-of-fact way in which he speaks. To Pinhead, everything is so simple. And, unlike a lot of the other 1980s horror antagonists, Pinhead was depicted as intelligent and articulate. Not to mention reasonable. Well, at least I thought so.

The thing is, Pinhead doesn't seek out people to kill or hurt. He has to be summoned! Of course, once the silly puzzle solver, or hedonist, opens the Lament Configuration, Pinhead does enjoy the torture that follows. But it's all in the territory. It's the sadomasochist in him. He tortures with the intention of inflicting both pain and pleasure. That sort of puts him in a whole other twisted category.

And man, did that dude have some awesome lines.

Your suffering will be legendary. Even in Hell.

On that note, see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

O Is For Owl

Because I am an upfront, honest kind of girl, I'll admit that I wanted to write about octopuses for 'O' and spend a good solid day and a half trying to figure out how to tie it in to October. I couldn't. Except that octopus and October both start with Oct. And really, that's not enough to draft up a five hundred word post that will keep people entertained.

Then, I remembered the owl. I am ashamed to admit this creature fell to the back of my mind. It wasn't until I typed in 'Halloween words' into Google that I was reminded of them. Fantastically, they do line up with October and my theme here. So, owls it is.

What an interesting load of babble.

My love for owls comes from my mother. She had this amazing owl collection, courtesy of my dad, and I used to go through the pendants and figurines, marvelling over them. Truth be told, the mystery surrounding this creature is really what I find most enjoyable. Is it good? Or bad?

Well, that depends on who you ask.

Like the Greeks. The owl was the favourite creature of Athene, Goddess of Wisdom. Perhaps this is how the saying 'wise old owl' came to be. But the Greeks revered the owl, encouraging them to live in their temples, and the Acropolis housed a vast number of this avian bigwig. Not only was it considered to be wise, it was also thought to be a protector. If an owl was seen flying over an army before battle, victory was just around the corner.

Of course, the Romans thought a bit differently about owls. And by a bit, I mean a heck of a lot. Unlike the Greeks, they believed the owl to be from the underworld and harbingers of evil and doom. The hoot of an owl was a precursor to death and the Romans actually believed witches transformed into owls for the soul purpose of sucking the blood of babies. Clearly, there were some hallucinogenic drugs being ingested. So, what did they do to ward off the evil owls? They nailed a dead one to their front doors as a warning to evil forces.

English folklore aligned more with the Romans than the Greeks, surprise-surprise, and owls were once more considered sinister creatures. After all, they hunted in the night, and the night is when all bad things happen, so obviously owls were evil. And the Irish, well, they didn't help matters along. They thought owls to be unlucky and if one made the unfortunate mistake of flying into your house, you were supposed to kill it. If it was allowed to escape with its life it would take all your luck with it. That said, I'd like to take a moment to note in the Northern parts of England and Scotland, where the Romans did not conquer, it was good luck to see an owl.

So, how did the owl come to be a part of Halloween?

Well, kind of like how the bat did. Like bats, owls would often be seen at Halloween and pagan rituals in search of food. Due to their nocturnal habits and how they lived in the hallows of trees, people were often scared of them. Besides, anyone who is anyone knows the cat and owl are a witch's companion. Well, that's mostly because people think the owl's screech sounds like a witch's cackle. 

And Grimms' fairy tales only helped to perpetuate this myth. Here is an excerpt from their story Jordina and Joringel:

There was once an old castle in the midst of a large and dense forest, and in it an old woman who was a witch dwelt all alone. In the day-time she changed herself into a cat or a screech-owl, but in the evening she took her proper shape again as a human being. She could lure wild beasts and birds to her, and then she killed and boiled and roasted them.

Doesn't she sound lovely and welcoming. Let's invite her in for tea and scones.

In the end, I don't give a hoot (see what I did there?) about all the folklore. I love owls. And the word owlet just tickles me.

"A wise old owl sat in an oak,
The more he heard, the less he spoke;
The less he spoke, the more he heard;
Why aren't we all like that wise old bird?"

A Wise Old Owl nursery rhyme
Mother Goose

Monday, October 15, 2012

N Is For Nightmare

There are three things I intend to touch on here. Not too sure how I am going to tie them together, but let's begin.

When I was a little girl (or more accurately, a teenager), I was terrified of a game called Nightmare. It was a video board game that came out in 1991 and it was set in a place simply known as 'the Other Side'. In it, there were six harbingers, each who governed a Province. Playing the game, meant that you had to take on the persona of one of the harbingers, which were a werewolf, poltergeist  mummy, zombie, witch and vampire. There was one other character in the game, the Gatekeeper. His job was to ensure you don't escape from the Other Side.

Well, maybe it doesn't sound scary, but the Gatekeeper terrified me. I don't even remember playing the game, just watching the video that game with it. In the movie, the Gatekeeper often interups the game to punish or reward players willy-nilly. There was no rhyme or reason to it. And you couldn't even win the game, the Gatekeeper just arrives and declares himself the winner. How unfair is that?

Honestly, I don't even know what terrified me so much about the silly game. But I did find the commercial on YouTube and decided you all need to watch it. You can thank me with kisses and cake.

I suppose it is kind of embarrassing admitting I was scared of this game. Oh well.

When I hear the word 'nightmare' there are two movies that come to mind. Nightmare Before Christmas and Nightmare On Elm Street. On one hand, you have Tim Burton's wonderful stop motion musical about Jack Skellington, a resident of Halloween Town, who finds a portal to Christmas Town and decides to celebrate the holiday. Things don't exactly go as planned. The other is a slasher film directed by Wes Craven that revolves around teenagers who are being stalked and killed by a man with knives for fingers, Freddy Krueger, not Edward Scissorhands.

Other than the word Nightmare in their titles, these movies have nothing in common. Unless you play the six degrees of separation game and discover that Johnny Depp is in the 1984 version of Nightmare On Elm Street and he later developed an unusually close relationship to Nightmare Before Christmas' writer Tim Burton. Maybe that's reaching though. Still, both are classic films that can be watched at either Halloween or Christmas. Okay, okay, that's a bit of a joke. Freddy Krueger isn't exactly a festive fellow.

Now I am going to leave you with a song by Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff. Just because it fits the whole theme.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

M Is For Midnight

Not too long ago, I was conversing with a friend, and we got on the subject of 'the witching hour'. No, not the book, the term. While I thought the witching hour meant midnight, she thought it was three in the morning. After a bit of research (meaning googling), I discovered that I was right. So, I did a little dance and one or two fist pumps, then reported back to her. Even though I was correct, three AM is also an important time. This is often called the Devil's hour, as opposed to three in the afternoon, which is said to be when Jesus was crucified.

That said, I don't know if 3 PM is considered Jesus' hour or not. 

But why is midnight referred to as the witching hour? 

Well, it's though to be the time of day when supernatural creatures, like werewolves, ghosts, demons, are thought to appear. Not only that, but the rumour tells us this is the hour in which they are most powerful. It is also said to be a time when black magic is most effective. 

And while I was right about the specific hour, people often use the term 'witching hour' whenever they refer to a time when there is a higher chance of bad luck. 

So, where did this term come from? 

Well, we can thank Washington Irving's short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow for that. This story was published in 1820 and uses the terms 'witching hour' and 'witching time' interchangeably. Both are used to reference midnight. Of course, we all know about the story of Sleepy Hollow and the headless horseman, if not for this story, then because Johnny Depp portrayed a bumbling and queasy Ichabod Crane in Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow. 

And who can forget Christopher Walken as the headless horseman? I mean, the dude only had his head for all of a minute and a half, but the image is imprinted on my memory. Talk about pretty smiles.

To me, there has never been anything scary about midnight. While some people view it as the end of the day, I tend to think of it as the beginning of a new one. In a way, it almost calms me. Usually it's quiet, almost peaceful. Not many people are out. There's no traffic. It's just a nicer time of night. 

No wonder all the monsters choose this time to come out and play. Less humans to be annoyed by. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

L Is For Lunar

I love the moon!

Like head over heels in love with it.

To the point where, if I'm outside at night, I have to look for it. If I find it, I stop and stare up at it in awe. And if someone is with me, I have to tell them to look at the moon too.

I don't know what it is about it.

It's hanging there, big and white, either full or half or a crescent, and it is breathtaking and beautiful.

As ridiculous as it sounds, whenever I see it, my heart feels lighter. Just its existence gives me peace.
Actually, the entirety of the night sky does. It's so vast and never-ending. Without fail, every time I look up at it, I feel small and unimportant. But that's not a bad feeling. It comforts me to know that my existence is just a blip in the grand scheme of everything.

October is a fantastic month for the moon. A harvest moon is the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox. This moon often appears to be bigger or brighter, more colourful, than the other full moons. The warm orangey colour when the moon first rises is from it passing through more atmospheric particles that scatter the blue components and allows the reddish light to pass through more easily. The moon also appears bigger because it is low-hanging and out brains perceive it to be harder than when it is up in the sky. We call this the Moon illusion.

That's sciencey stuff.

Of course, we all know the moon, especially a full one, is closely tied with spooky things. Whenever people are acting strange or weird things happen, we always question weather it is a full moon. With the full moon, comes creepy situations and werewolves.

Yep, that's right. The Wolfman, one of the most notorious horror movie characters, relies on the full moon in order to take his wolfy shape. But this isn't the only role the moon plays in all things creepy. One of my most favourite Halloween images is the witch's shadow in the middle of a full moon. Usually, the witch is flying on a broom. Sometimes there is a cat on her broom. Or bats in the background.

It's kind of funny that the moon is considered this omen or source of bad luck. This is probably because people once thought that if you slept out under direct moonlight a person would go mad or blind. From this lore, the word lunatic was born, luna being moon. That said, people also believed the moon was made of silver and would jingle the change in their pockets and ask the moon to bring them wealth.

Well, I don't know if either of these are true, and in this electronic age jingling change is a bit difficult to do. But I'm going to head on outside tonight with a couple pennies in my pockets. Just in case.

Friday, October 12, 2012

K Is For Killer

People love horror movie baddies. They create groups on Facebook to pay homage to them and even take on the persona and start twitter accounts in their honour. No, that isn't a joke, and if you're looking for a laugh I suggest taking a gander at Freddy Krueger's tweets. 

Now, there are a lot of horror movie killers out there. The list is long and tedious to get through. For every fantastic slash 'em antagonist, there are a hundred terrible ones you'll never hear about. And for good reason. So, what is it about the likes of Pinhead and Chucky that make people worship them? Why do people flock to these characters? 

The easy answer, and one I don't stand behind, is money. If a movie has a big budget, it will have the means to sink into marketing, thus roping the viewers in. But just because people go to see a movie doesn't mean the killer is going to withstand the test of time. I mean, there's a reason Norman Bates is one of the most memorable characters ever brought to life on the big screen, and it certainly wasn't because of marketing or money. 

No. It's because he was different. 

*Spoiler* He was dressing up as his dead mother, for crying out loud! That's something to write home about. And Psycho came out in 1960, not exactly the most progressive of times. Not to mention, the movie also touched on multiple personalities and has one of the most famous scenes in any movie. You know, the shower one. To me, this film is terrifying, as is Normal Bates, but you don't even really see anything. It's because of the music and acting and setting that instantly propelled this into a classic and had people horrified by Mr. Bates and his rather unhealthy relationship with his mother. 

So, you have to be different to become a successful horror movie baddie, but what else is an asset? 


Okay, that seems bonkers, right? But it's the truth. Freddy, Pinhead, Chucky, Jack Torrance, and even Michael Myers, who says all but nothing in the movies, have a sense of humour. They make us laugh because they say and do the most ridiculous things. In so many ways, they mock themselves. And we love that in killers, especially if they're going to go on a bloody murdering spree. 

That said, Leatherface is not funny. Though I often find it funny how clean his white shirt is. But he has something else that endears us to him. A shtick. And he sticks with it. 

Each of them have a style, a certain flare, and a weapon of choice. Leatherface has his chainsaw. Freddy his fingers. Chucky his butcher knife. Pinhead is never seen without his pins, thus his name. Dracula wears a cape. Frankenstein has bolts in his neck. Hannibal Lecter has his fine taste in food. Michael Myers has his hockey mask. These guys know what work and stick with it, which is why we remember them, and cherish them. 

Oh, and they never have a motive! The good ones never do. 

It's when writers and directors want to explore the 'why' they they lose the audience. Take for example, Jigsaw. He had the making of being a serial killer to go down in history, but then they gave him cancer and a reason and turned him into an antihero who was just trying to teach bad people to appreciate what they had in life. Boring. They would have been better off leaving him as the antagonist like in the first Saw film. 

But, that's just me getting ranty. And we aren't even halfway through this challenge yet. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

J Is For Jack-O-Lanterns

Because I already touched on my complete lack of skills when it comes to carving pumpkins, I was sort of struggling over what to write. I mean, there isn't a heck of a lot about October that starts with the letter 'J'. If my topic for this challenge was Girls Gone Wild, then I could use Jello-Shots as my J. Clearly, I wasn't thinking when I selected this theme.

Anyway, I got to Googling things on the Internet and my mad-happy searching, lead me to an article that I thought to be interesting. Apparently, carved pumpkins were named after phenomenon 'ignis fatuus', which is when a weird light flickers over peat bogs. Ignis Fatuus means foolish fire, but in English folklore this strange light is called many other names such as Will-o'-the-wisp, hinkypunk, hobby lantern and, you got it, jack-o'-lantern. Foolish fire is a ghostly light that is seen at night over bogs, swamps and marshes, and resembles a flickering lamp. It is said that it will fade if you approach it and is meant to draw travellers from safer paths. In America, paranormal enthusiasts call this strange occurrence spook-lights or orbs.

Of course, many of you already know my adoration with bioluminescence  While this isn't exactly the same thing, it kind of goes hand in hand with glowing nature. And the awesomeness of the world in which we live.

So, what is responsible for this bizarre happening?

Well, fairies, of course. And mischievous sprites who are eager to lead weary travellers astray.

Okay, maybe not. But that's what folklore says.

What does science say?

Italian physicist Alessandro Volta was the first to scientifically explain ignes fatui. He proposed that natural lighting interacted with marsh gases, such as methane, and created this spooky phenomenon. While his theory was commonly dismissed as utter ridiculousness, it was later proved to be true. But why did the light fade when people approached it? The answer was pretty simple. As someone neared the light, the gases would be disrupted and dispersed elsewhere. It was the agitation of the air by moving objects that made the ignes fatui disperse and appear to be moving away.

Nature is full of such trickery.

And thus ends today's lesson.

Looking forward to tackling 'K' tomorrow. See you then!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Is For IT

It probably isn't surprising that I started reading horror at a very young age. My sister used to read all those Christopher Pike books, which in turn meant I read them. She then graduated to John Saul, Dean Koontz and Anne Rice, and I did as well, but somewhere in there, I got on the Stephen King bandwagon and she didn't. I cannot remember the first King book I read, but I do know which ones left a lasting impression: Carrie, Dolores Claiborne, Christine and IT.

Thinking back, there are actually only two books, both horror, that stand out when I reflect on my preteeny life. Okay, three, but one of them is because I left it in the movie theatre bathroom and thought my sister was going to murder me over it. She didn't. In fact, I don't know if she ever found out about it. That book was The Witching Hour. The other two books are Come The Blind Fury. I remember reading this on a summer's day when I was thirteen. The scent of suntan lotion brings flashbacks of the book. And the last one is IT, which I remember reading on a blustery October night. 

Well, obviously I didn't read the whole thing in one night. I was twelve years old, for crying out loud, and the book is 1138 pages! But I distinctly remember it was October, the leaves were swirling, and I was snug in my bed, completely enthralled with this pack of kids trying to fight off this evil force. And what an evil force it was... 

There was something so sinister and frightening about Pennywise the Clown. To this day, he remains one of the most terrifying figures ever created in a horror novel and brought to life by the big screen. What was it that was so scary?

It might have been his smile:

Or those honest eyes. 

Then again, I think it was probably the fact that he preyed on children and could make your deepest fears come true. 

Since we're here, and I'm being honest, I've only ever read IT straight through once, when I was twelve. That said, I've read the first half of it at least a million times. Regular readers know what a sucker I am for hyperbole. But that doesn't change the fact that the beginning of this book is one of the most skin-crawling and engrossing things I've ever read. 

And, since I'm still being honest, whenever I watch the movie, I only ever watched it to the second VHS tape. That last sentence dated me, and now you all know how long it has since I've actually sat down to watch this. Maybe that needs to change. I mean, how could it possibly be that something which moulded me into the twisted individual I am today hasn't been watched or read in over a decade. Seems tragic. 

I think I need to remedy that.

So, what was it about the first half of this story that engaged me so much? The kids. Stephen King may be the Master of Horror, but he's also the master at writing kids well. This book gives me the same feeling that The Body did, which is what the movie Stand By Me is based off of. If someone is able to capture teens or preteens in all their glory then I am delighted. This book wasn't a kids book, but the seven main characters had qualities every adult could identify with, especially inexplicable fears. 

Maybe IT isn't the best movie or book ever made. Still, something about it has withstood the test of time and, like a lot of horror from my youth, I'm sure they'll end up remaking it. And we all know how I feel about remakes. 

Yeah, that's right. I hate them. 

See you tomorrow for another insert in this spooktacular A-Z blogging challenge.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

H Is For Halloween (Duh)

Halloween, Halloween, Halloween.

(Yes, that was sung with the tune from The Nightmare Before Christmas' "This is Halloween")

I know a lot of Christmas people.

And I'm not one of them.

I live for Halloween.

There are the standard reasons: horror movies, candy, the crisp fall air, and costumes. But then we dig a little deeper into my twisted psyche and see my enjoyment really comes down to one simple fact. I've never had a bad Halloween. Never.

I cannot say the same for any other Holiday. Crazy, right?

Instead of exploring the more dysfunctional side of my childhood, let's navigate towards the good memories. The ones I reflect on happily. The ones that made my family seem normal, in that not so normal way.

Growing up, I don't remember having store-bought costumes. My mother always made them. Whether it was sewing patches on a pair of pants for a hobo costume or making fairy wings out of coat hangers and nylons, my mom put time and effort into what we wanted to go as for Halloween. And she never balked at any ideas, either. Ninja turtles, check. Gypsy, check. Elvira Mistress of the Dark, check. She even made me the giant boobs. In that moment, when I went to my grade five class, I was proud of my mom, my family, and that we were a little off from centre. I am also thrilled to announce that I make my own costumes now, as an adult. No sexy nurses or kittens for me. No way. Halloween isn't about getting dudes. It's about scaring the evil spirits. Which is why one must dress like this:

Every year, without fail, we carved pumpkins. I don't remember going to the pumpkin patch, though, but that didn't matter, because the weekend before Halloween, we'd all sit down and carve a pumpkin. And, even though none of us like them except my dad, we roasted the pumpkin seeds in the oven and ate them. I was terrible at carving pumpkins. Actually, I still am. It's embarrassing what I come up with. Except the year I carved Jack Skellington...he turned out pretty good:

One of my favourite parts of Halloween is actually handing out candy to children. Now that I'm too old to go get candy myself, not that I need it. Have you seen these thighs? I'm not sure what it is about opening the door I like. Probably seeing all the little kids in their costumes. Some of them barely able to speak. Their parents standing out on the side walk. In the day and age where people don't trust anyone, I'm happy this tradition of knocking on strangers doors and asking for candy still exists. I'm glad it hasn't died out. 

The other thing I enjoy doing, and which has turned into one of own traditions, is watching Halloween every Halloween. I know it's a cliché for this to be my favourite horror movie, but it is. The soundtrack can't be beat. Every moment, shot for shot, is perfection. There isn't much to complain about. And then Rob Zombie came along and destroyed it. Yeah, that's right, I didn't like the remake. A couple nights ago, I was telling my  sidekick that I used to have the Halloween theme song as my ringtone on my phone but that I had to change it. Just between you and I, whenever it rang in the middle of the night it freaked me out. 

To this day, the music sends a chill up my spine. 

So, this year, I am looking forward to watching Halloween and handing out candy. What are you going to be up to?

Monday, October 8, 2012

G Is For Ghosties, Ghoulies and Gum

Yeah, I know that's three things, and how can I possibly touch on all of them in a short little blog post.

Like this...

When I was a little kid, I loved getting gum in my Halloween candy. To this day, those tiny rainbow coloured boxes of Chiclets make me happy. They only had two pieces of gum in them, but they were my favourite. The smell. The taste. The sound they made rattling around in their little boxes. See, that's a walk down memory lane.

A couple weeks ago, I bought some Dubble Bubble. We used to get these in our pillowcases too. This pink gum always hurt my teeth, similar to Bazooka Joe, both with ridiculous comics. Every so often, I like to buy something that has nostalgic effects on me. Candy. Comics. Movies. I know the baby boomers thrived on their pop culture, but I actually think it is children of the eighties who are far more entranced by their generations toys and television shows.

The other night Casper was on the TV. This is a movie from the early nineties and it starts Christina Ricci, you know, the cute little girl Wednesday from the Addams Family, and Devon Sawa, from Final Destination fame. Of course, Casper was originally in a book, then it became a television show. Seeing this movie made me think about ghosts.

People just love spooky things, don't they? They want to be scared. We are interested in the unknown. No one can argue this fact. I mean, we have reality television that is centred around ghost hunting, for crying out loud. It just so happens that the ghost costume is always the fallback costume because it so easy. All you need is a sheet and a pair of scissors. Now, while people joke about going out as a ghost for Halloween, there's only one person I've actually see go as one. Michael Myers.

I can't get into a blog post about Michael Myers, though, because H is the next letter on the docket and we all know I'm going to have to do 'Halloween' as my topic. But I was sitting here thinking about the part in the movie where Michael Myers comes in to the room with the sheet over his head and he's wearing Bob's glasses. This scene probably wasn't meant to be as funny as I thought it to be, but every time I see it I laugh. I mean, Mr. Myers clearly has a sense of humour.

As for ghouls, I've never understood exactly what they are. Ghosts? Demons? Zombies? All of these combined. Oh, I just typed it into the internet and it is telling me that a ghoul is a monster that dwells in graveyards and consumes dead human flesh. Well, that's not really any of the above, because zombies consume live human brains. I guess it is true, you really do learn something new everyday.

Well, thanks for tuning in Boils and Ghouls, and I'll see you tomorrow for the next instalment of this spooktacular blogging challenge.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

F Is For Fall

One cannot select October as a subject without touching on the Fall. I would have wrote a posting about Autumn, but I didn't think of it. Thankfully, this is the only season that actually has two names. While summer and spring certainly have a place in my heart, I am head-over-heels in love with the Fall.  

I cannot pinpoint a reason as to why this is. 

For one, I adore watching the trees change. Whenever I see the green turn red and orange, when gold paints the horizon, I'm filled with joy. A bite is added to the air, and a crispness that tickles your nose and a freshness that gets caught in your hair. Wind rustles dried leaves at night. The nights become longer, and somehow darker. In comes the chill and out come the scarves, toques, mittens and sweatshirts. 

No longer can you wear dresses without tights underneath. The summer clothes are put to the backs of closets and jeans, boots, and jackets are brought out. 

We may be preparing for Winter, but the month of October is still blessed with nice weather. Even as the wind whips through the trees and leaves, we are still warmed by the rays of the sun.

And the rain comes. It's a different sort of rain from the summer months. Coming in from the side, it taps against the windowpane, playing a tune I'd almost forgotten existed. With the arrival of October, and this most beloved season, we pull out blankets to bundle up in and the drop in temperature at night promotes more cuddling. 

The first tip off to Falls arrival is the scent which comes in on the breeze. I detect it long before most people. I'll stop, take a deep breath, close my eyes and say, "Fall is coming." Most people scoff or think me insane, because I usually say this in the middle of September when the heat feels as though it is going to last forever. But not even a week later leaves begin to fall from the trees and the night air has a nip to it. And the scent I know so well is equal parts fire and earth, wind and rain. It is the scent of my favourite childhood memories. 

It is Halloween. 

Everything changes. I cannot think of another season that is so drastic and swift.  The trees turn bare, flowers wilt and fade, and some people look at is as though everything is dying, but I don't. I think of it as the world winding down, in need of sleep, in order to rejuvenate. Everything just slows down, becomes easier, and we relax into an softer pace. 

October is golden. Fall is home. It fills my heart with a warmth I cannot express in words, but which leaves me contented. And happy. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

E Is For Exorcism

Every since I was a little girl, I loved everything macabre and weird. While other kids watched cartoons, I was obsessed with Elvira (another E word), the Addams Family, Munsters, and horror movies. I'm not sure what the very first horror movie I watched was. All I remember is being scared of Watcher in the Woods, yes that silly Disney movie, and Lady In White. To this day, I don't know exactly what happens in either of these movies, but I watched them a hundred times. Something about that quickening of my heartbeat and tickle at the nape of my neck kept drawing me back. 

While I really do love horror movies, there are certain ones that give me a jolt of nostalgia. Anything from the eighties works. I absolutely adore the classics, the black and white ones with Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price. I've delved into the Hammer Collection and exhausted the Trauma videos. But there is a certain genre of horror that irks me more than others. 

Exorcism and possession movies. 

And most notably, The Exorcist. 

It is heralded as one of the scariest movies of all times. Okay, that's a pretty big statement, but it just so happens to be one I agree with. Parts of this movie are so twisted and creepy you can't get the images out of your head. I mean, how can anyone forget the scene where she...uh...violates herself with the crucifix. Or spider walk scene where she crawls down the stairs all contorted  Years later movies like Ringu tried to hit the creepy nail on the head with similar tactics, but none really hit the mark.

Even the name Regan sends a shiver up my spine.

Now, why do exorcism movies freak me out so much? 

Honestly, I'm not too sure. Perhaps it's the idea of not being in control or having something take over your body. But these movies just irk me. I saw the Exorcism of Emily Rose and actually had trouble sleeping. And the trailer for the Devil Inside made my skin crawl. People complained about Paranormal Activity, but I have to admit, I liked it, especially because it was just a bunch of college kids who made it. 

Whether it is The Shining, The Last Exorcism, Session 9 or Amittyville Horror exorcism and possession movies hold a special place in the horror movie genres. There aren't a tone of them and they usually aren't as gory or slash-happy, but they always deliver just enough jump worthy moments to keep me entertained. Maybe it's the psychological side that draws me in. Or maybe I just don't want to sleep soundly at night. 

Either way, that ends the letter "E". 

Look at that pretty smile. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

D Is For The Devil

And Dracula.

Really, D is for both of them.

I didn't want to make a decision on which one to write about because both are such heavy hitters when it comes to Halloween. These are probably the two most common Halloween costumes. At least they were when I was a child. Now I bet kids are dressing up like Kim Kardashian and that dude from the Jersey Shore. The one who can't keep his shirt down.

To be honest, they frighten me more than the devil and Dracula combined. Chances are they'd be more effective in driving evil spirits away anyhow.

These two have been battling it out for years to sit at the head of the spooktacular table. Little do they know, witches won the fight years ago. That's right. Witches are the bosses, the top dogs of terror - Halloween is their night to shine. It makes sense, really. There are more girls in the world than boys and every single little girl goes as a witch at one point or another.

Isn't it interesting that the main choices for girls when it comes to costumes is a witch or a princess. Doesn't that speak volumes?

That's getting off topic.

One of the things I love about the Devil is...Actually, I don't really have anything to add. I just wanted to start a sentence like that. Whenever I think about the Devil, images of horns, a tail and pencil thin moustaches comes to mind. When did Lucifer get this crimson persona? I mean, it makes sense that he is the Captain of the Occult and Halloween's head-honcho, after all he is the personification of evil, according to several religions, but when did he start wearing a cape? Why does he wield a pitchfork?

I mean, I know in religious readings such as Christianity he was a fallen angel and took the form of man. There are no horns and tails and pitchforks in those tellings. When it comes to paganism, I know the devil often comes from representations of the god Pan, who was often portrayed as a goat man, or horned god. But what's with the red? Is that simply because Lucifer is supposed to guard the gates of Hell, which is all about brimstone and fire,

Still doesn't explain the pitchfork. Unless it's what he uses to stoke the fires of Hell.

This, of course, is all just ramblings from my head.

Now, unlike the Devil, Dracula is more cut and dry. He makes more sense. Not so much mystery surrounding him. The Count first made his literary appearance in Bram Stoker's Dracula in 1897, but where did he come from? People believe he is based off Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, who was posthumously named Vlad The Impaler. His patronymic name was Dracula. This name was connected to vampirism by Bram Stoker and it is speculated that he found the name in a book about the Wallachia history. Regardless of where the name came from, Dracula is one of the most famous characters in pop culture and has been portrayed in a vast array of films and television shows. Of course, Bela Lugosi will go down in history as the most popular of these depictions.

So, there you have it. Two of Halloween's bigwigs fighting it out for the 'D' slot in this months A-Z Blogging Challenge. See you tomorrow!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

C Is For Candy Corn

All morning the only thing in my head was 'cats'. And I didn't want to do a post about cats. Not because I dislike them. No, I love them. They are wonderful creatures. I even had one. Yes, had. As in past tense. Because of a rather crappy incident, Etnie can't live with me right now. This is probably why I don't want to discuss cats.

And yet, here I am. Talking about cats.

Instead, let's talk about the worst candy ever invented. Candy Corn.

As a vegetable, corn is probably my most favourite. I love it in all forms, except creamed. I really don't enjoy eating things that resemble baby barf, which is what I think creamed corn looks like. That said, candy corn was made by the devil and the devil's name is George Renninger, who invented this hideous confectionery in the 1800s. The ingredients are sugar and wax. All right, fine, there are other things in it, but that's what it tastes like: sweet wax. Have you ever chewed on wax? It's disgusting.

This Autumnal treat has always been a staple for Halloween, though I've never actually witnessed anyone eating it. I remember getting handfuls of it tossed into my pillowcase and promptly throwing it out when I got home, along with the lose peanuts some families handed out. To this day I don't understand why people thought it acceptable to hand out loose candy. Once, I got unwrapped Scotch Mints. Talk about lazy.

Now, this confection is hugely popular in Canada and the United States. Overseas people will have to let me know whether they have this over the pond or not. If not, thank your lucky stars. The funny part about this? I can't even eat it. It certainly isn't a Vegan treat, as one of the ingredients is egg whites, but the appalling nature of this candy has stuck with me. For over twelve years. I think that speaks volumes.

So, why was it named Candy Corn? Well, the colouring on these bitty bites, the beautiful yellow, orange and white stripes, was selected to mimic a  kernel of corn. Oh, and it contains a very unhealthy dose of corn syrup. Though this colourful candy tastes like awful, it was actually kind of interesting to read about and investigate.

The fact that something this terrible tasting is still around and  that it's recipe hasn't changed all that much in the last two hundred years dumbfounds me. And people keep buying it! It's pretty much a miracle. They keep creating different kinds too. Trust me when I say they don't taste any better either. A popular variation that appears in stores around Thanksgiving is called Indian Corn and it has a special chocolate brown end that replaces the original yellow one. Even more exciting, they have additional colour variations for other seasonal holidays. The Christmas kind, which some people call Reindeer Corn, is red and green. Valentine's Day produces one called Cupid Corn, which is red and pink. Then there is Easter, which was dubbed Bunny Corn, and is only a two colour candy that comes in a range of pastels with white tips.

As the years go by, and Candy Corn sticks around, I get to thinking, about how some things never change. Except, some things do. Like Oreos. You might be wondering how Oreos ties in with this ranty post about Halloween's most treasured, and least eaten, treat. Well, I'm going to tell you. The Candy Corn craze doesn't end with a hundred different types for any and all occasions. Recently, I saw an article about Candy Corn flavoured Oreos. No, I am not making that up. When I read about it, I actually laughed out loud. Wax flavoured Oreos. Yum. How adventurous. I shudder even typing this.

Maybe it is time for me to redirect my passion elsewhere.

See you tomorrow for la lettre 'D'.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

B Is For Bat

This may or may not come as a shock to you but bats are actually one of my most favourite creatures. They are only trumped by the great and mighty Octopus and wise old Owl. Personally, I think a number three ranking isn't anything to scoff at. And to be honest, I don't know if bats are even the scoffing type.

Whether other people like it or not, October is synonymous with Halloween. When you think October, you think Halloween. It's the same with December and Christmas. They go hand-in-hand. You can't help it. And you can't undo it. This is just the way things are.

The bat is one of the mascots of Halloween. To clarify, there are a couple. They include a pumpkin (and/or Jack-O-Lantern), a cat (preferably black), ghosts (silly little white ones) and, of course, the bat. Some other representatives  which people might misconstrue as mascots are: Frankenstein, the wicked witch, Dracula, and the Werewolf. These are not mascots at all. These are the captains of the football teams. The most valuable players.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "But Tyson, the bat is the counterpart to Dracula!"

And you're right. The bat is a vampire in their sneakiest form, or so the horror urban legends and movies would have us believe. But this is precisely why I have selected the 'bat' to highlight the letter 'B' today. Because they are unique. Also because I couldn't think of another 'B' topic other than bodacious babes, which really have anything to do with October at all. Except for all the scantily clad women that come out on the 31st dressed as sexy nurses and kittens to ward off the evil spirits. That's what they are doing, right?

There are many reasons why the bat is worthy of a blog post all its own. First, and most important, bats pollinate. This is why the decline in bat population is a bad thing. (You know, other than the species dying off and slowly becoming extinct.) A lot of people don't know that many agricultural plants from bananas to cashews to dates and figs rely on bats for pollination and seed dispersal. Crazy, right? Yeah, I know. Funny how all these creatures we take for granted actually are integral parts of our ecosystem. Imagine that.

Other than being hard working participants in nature, bats are just cool. They are nocturnal,meaning they come out and play at night and rely on echolocation to get around. For those of you who don't know what that means, bats use noises that bounce of walls and objects so they can navigate their way through trees and caves and barns. They can tell the distance by how quickly the sound travels back to them. There are a ton of other great things about bats, like how they have a thumb and four fingers and the skin of their wings are stretched over them, but I only have a limited amount of time here.

Because Halloween is synonymous with October and bats are a mascot of Halloween it is only natural that we pause for a moment to recognize the sheer awesomeness of this warm blooded mammal. It dumbfounds me when people are afraid of this animal. Then again, I like spiders. Speaking of which, would they be considered another mascot of Halloween?

Things to ponder as I continue the A-Z Blogging Challenge. See you tomorrow!