Halloween is Never Over

I will not mourn the passing of Halloween because Halloween lives here all day, every day, all year around.

What I will miss is the community spirit that shows up every September/October. I’ll miss the creative inspiration that buzzes around Halloween season, driving people to craft, create, cook, make, bake, paint, draw, write, sing and celebrate the spooky beyond. I’ll miss seeing the adorable kids in their costumes and the funny, imaginative guises from the adults.  I’ll miss the haunts and the mazes, and the creative minds that have built elaborate, sometimes ingenious, macabre sets. I’ll miss seeing decorations and the lights in all the stores, and in the yards where I live. I’ll miss hearing Halloween tunes on the radio and watching thrillers and spooky movies on television. I’ll miss people talking about their favorite memories and how they’re looking forward to making new ones.  I’ll miss the festive harvests, the parades, the pumpkin patches, the endless rows of candy, and the fun Halloween treats that make us feel like kids again.

I’ll miss the Halloween season, but Halloween is never over, oh no, Halloween is forever.

Halloweenis Forever

 

Wicked Art Wednesdays – Dienzo

This October, we celebrate the creepy cute visions of Rick Blanco a.k.a. Dienzo, an artist and designer from So Cal, who’s done work for Disney, Mattel, Cartoon Network and more.

Artist: Rick “Dienzo” Blanco
Company/Studio: The Art of Dienzo
Where to Purchase Goods: Online shop, comic book conventions, special events, specialty stores, i.e., Halloweentown Store, Hyaena Gallery, etc.
Website:  http://www.dienzoart.com
Social Media:  https://www.instagram.com/dienzoart/

Why we love them:  Along with his stunning original art, Dienzo takes our favorite Disney and horror characters from movies and TV, and creates dark, intriguing, and sometimes sinister settings for them. This is pop culture turned upside down.

 

 

Wicked Art Wednesdays – Rhode Montijo

This October, we celebrate Rhode Montijo, children’s book author & illustrator and creator of curious oddities from Southern California.

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©RhodeMontijo

Artist: Rhode Montijo
Company/Studio: The Fantasmical World of Rhode Montijo
Where to Purchase Goods: Online shop, comic book conventions, special events, etc.
Website:  http://www.rhodemontijo.com/
Social Media:  https://www.instagram.com/rhodemontijo/

Why we love them:  Rhode Montijo specializes in that vintage Halloween look, where his works truly capture the whimsical innocence of Halloween. When browsing through prints, be prepared for a flood of childhood memories to engulf you and remind you why you fell in love with Halloween in the first place.

 

Halloween Bucket List

Happy Friday! I wasn’t going to share a Halloween bucket list until early next month, but after thinking about it, October is only a few days away and there’s only 31 days to celebrate. So, here it is. Have a happy and safe Halloween season!

Halloween Bucket List4

 

Autumn is the best season

Between the golden hues of fallen leaves and the smell of fresh baked apple-cinnamon in the air, Autumn is more than just a season, it’s a force in the universe, with the power to bring back memories, compel lovers to take chances, and motivate people to nurture their creative side.

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Autumn wraps around people like a warm blanket, sometimes reminding them of happier times in childhood or giving them hope towards the future. Like the trees that shed their leaves, preparing for winter’s coat, people lose the inhibitions that hold them back, allowing themselves to experience the joys of the holidays and all that life has to offer.

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Autumn is a time of reflection, a time of nature, a time of wonder and a time to spend with loved ones and friends. So, this fall, reconnect with an old friend or go visit a family member you haven’t seen in a while. Go for a long walk in the park or the forest. Pick out a pumpkin at a pumpkin farm. Take up a new hobby or make some crafts. Or, create a bucket list and have fun checking each item off.

Truman Capote once wrote, “Aprils have never meant much to me, autumns seem that season of beginning, spring.”

Autumn truly is the best season.

Halloween Haters and Other Antagonists

nice pumpkin sceneHalloween is coming and along with it, peoples’ unwarranted opinions. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s the Halloween haters, people who want to outright ban Halloween from existence. Haters really bring us down, they spread lies and misinformation and steal our precious time and energy. Now, you could get stabby and go to jail, or, you could deal with them like a grown-up. The first step is figuring out who’s who and what they want. Then, you can draw up an effective game plan to get the fools off your back!

Dentists

To be fair, most dentists don’t hate Halloween, it keeps them in business after all, but they do hate cavities, and candy causes cavities. No one on the block wants to be known as a detriment to children’s dental health. So, if your local gums doctor is making you feel guilty, here are two easy solutions: 1) offer healthier snacks, i.e., pretzels, graham crackers or organic fruit snacks, and 2) offer alternative treats, i.e., money, Halloween themed little puzzles, games, toys, buttons, erasures, pencils, crayons, stickers, temporary tattoos, yo-yos, and my personal favorite, glow sticks and glow bracelets.

Christmas Lovers

Like dentists, Christmas lovers don’t really hate Halloween either. They just love Christmas more! Their season is coming and they’re anxious to get to it. Just like we are now, wanting summer to end early, they can’t wait to push out the Great Pumpkin and usher in Santa Claus.

nevermore stocking @ working class punx
Nevermore Stocking@WorkingClassPunx

Halloween and Christmas have a lot in common. So, talk about that. Let them know you completely understand where they’re coming from. Share your ideas. Many décor ideas, recipes and traditions are easily swappable between the holidays. Halloween and Christmas go together like peanut butter and jelly, just look at Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas.

NBC image @disney

Occupy Halloween

If never fails, every year, social justice rears its ugly head and throws up all over your Halloween decorations. There’s always that one hipster guy who tries to guilt you, by suggesting Halloween is just corporate scheme to sucker consumers into buying, buying, buying, to line the overstuffed pockets of some fat cat on Wall St. If you live in America, there’s just no good counter-argument to capitalism gone wild.

 

However, if you find yourself in this debate, kindly mention, that between the millennials’ penchant for simple, less costly celebrations and families searching for fun and safe alternatives to trick-or-treating, Halloween is coming full circle. Home parties and parades are making a comeback. The excess and indulgence of years past are dying out and communities are coming together for events, like Harvest celebrations, carnivals and trunk-or-treating. Now more than ever, people are aware of Halloween history and celebrating the old traditions.

Halloween Snobs

Sometimes the biggest enemies are our own kind. Halloween snobbery accounts for more disgruntled posts from Halloweenophiles than any other complaint. Everyone needs to keep this in mind, there is no right or wrong way to celebrate Halloween! This goes for those trying to impose age limits on trick-or-treating. There are none. Teens can absolutely go trick-or-treating, and I for one, would rather see that than hearing about teens hanging out in some back alley, where they’re much more likely to find trouble.

@Peter Macdiarmid Getty Images
@Peter Macdiarmid Getty Images

Halloween is a global holiday, and everyone has the right to celebrate in a way that fits their beliefs, lifestyle and personality. It’s truly the one holiday where diversity thrives. It’s a little ridiculous to try and make people only adhere to your beliefs and customs, when honoring the spirit of Halloween is all about sharing love for the holiday with others.

Gore Police

No one should apologize for expressing themselves on their favorite holiday, but if you are a person who likes to recreate gory horror movie scenes in the front yard, you must understand that children don’t process scenes of violence and horror in the same way adults do. There is such a thing as too far, especially if kids don’t understand what it is that they’re seeing. Now, most people aren’t complete sociopaths or too egotistical to compromise for the sake of the neighborhood. I mean, Halloween season comes once a year. Do you really want to start a bitter feud over painted foam and casting rubber?

When confronted over gory yard displays, hear your neighbors out. Don’t be dismissive, rather try to have good open communication. If you’re nice, neighbors might be more willing to compromise with you as well. You could agree to cover up certain scary props with a sheet until Halloween night. Maybe the lights are too bright or animatronics are too noisy and neighbors can’t sleep. You could agree to give your neighbors a reprieve by turning everything off early, or running the yard display only two or three times a week, instead of every night.

Evangelical Zealots

The true Halloween hater.  The person who uses religion as the basis for wanting to ban Halloween. They believe Halloween perpetuates sin, corrupts the innocent and celebrates demons and witchcraft, and is all about worshipping the devil. This is all nonsense and just another chapter in the centuries’ old persecution of pagans.

 

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For that reason, there’s little you can say to change their minds. So, it’s important to stop the spread of lies and misinformation instead. When confronted by angry churchgoers, inform them, that there have been more concerted efforts to bring back more traditional harvest celebrations and family-friendly Halloween, alleviating all talk about devil worship and witches. Remind them that pagan celebrations were already accepted by the church centuries ago, that’s how we got Halloween in the first place.  And, if they start complaining about all the sex and gluttony associated with Halloween, well, that’s about the time you explain the idea of psychological projection.

Honestly, I never really understood the hatred. I mean, if the original purpose of Halloween was to ward off evil spirits, then, bible thumpers should be thanking us for keeping everybody safe!

Just remember, in all situations that keeping your cool is number one priority. Have a happy Halloween season!

 

autumn jack olantern

 

Midsummer Scream 2018 Recap

Halloween lovers and horror fans (aka screamers) gathered over the weekend at the Long Beach Convention Center to kick-off the unofficial start of the 2018 Halloween season, as Midsummer Scream returned for its third year. This spectacular convention celebrates Halloween, haunts and horror. Here’s a recap of convention highlights:

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Hall of Shadows

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The Hall of Shadows was split this year between haunters, vendors, filmmakers and special effects on one side, and the interactive scare zone on the other, where SoCal’s top haunters previewed their upcoming spooky haunts for fall.

The Hall main stage featured everything from zombie burlesque to the classical quartet Nostalgic Nebula. The flexible and talented Decayed Brigade, SoCal Sliders, returned with a brand new show. My personal favorites were Murder House Production’s Trick ‘r Treat maze and The Haunt Store’s display of those awesome AtmosFX projections.

Six Flag Unleashed showed off their glow-in-the-dark world, with the most talented folks on stilts I’ve ever seen.

Warner Bros. Studio Tours showed off costumes and props from It and The Nun, in promotion of the upcoming Horror Made Here: A Festival of Frights, starting in October.

The Show Floor

This year, there was an abundance of creepy and unique creations from some exceptionally talented artists and creators, where screamers could find everything and anything relating to Halloween and horror.

Screamers over 21 were able to get a blue wristband and purchase adult beverages at bar stations around the convention hall, or one of two cash bar attractions hosted by Sinister Pointe’s Scary Place and Slashback Video, courtesy of Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum.

SoCal Valley Haunters & Classrooms

Thinking of creating your own decorations for Halloween but don’t know where to start? Well, Midsummer Scream had you covered. On the Show Floor, SoCal Valley Haunters taught screamers how to create their own tombstones, carve foam pumpkins, make lanterns and village displays, with the help of Dept. 56. Down the hall, classes on Halloween floral arrangements, budget decorating, yard displays and more, inspired a whole new generation of Halloween designers.

Theater Macabre, Black Cat Lounge, Screaming Room and Second Stage

Screamers flocked to the upstairs second floor, where they could fall in love with rescue kittens in the Black Cat Lounge, or attend haunt shows and theater presentations from Bob Baker Marionette Theater, Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater Urban Death, and many others. Inside the Screaming room, screamers could watch horror shorts and listen to spooky stories. A nice respite for weary feet.

The Grand Ballroom

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The Grand Ballroom, which seats about 2100 people, offered sneak peek presentations on this fall’s upcoming horror theme park and haunted attractions, and two very special panels:

On Saturday, screamers celebrated the 30th anniversary of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark movie, where they were treated to interview clips of cast of the movie and with amusing, funny and witty anecdotes from the Mistress of the Dark herself, Cassandra Peterson.

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On Sunday, screamers packed the room again for the 25th anniversary of Hocus Pocus and hear behind-the-scene stories. After an incredible live performance from The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Hocus Pocus, the panel featured actress Thora Birch, who played Dani, producer David Kirschner, screenwriter Mick Garris, composer John Debney, production designer William Sandell and make-up and special effects artist Tony Gardner.

Elvira, Mistress of Midsummer Scream

mss2 curtesy of NBC
Photo ©NBC

The fabulous Cassandra Peterson spent two days signing autographs at her booth, where Elvira’s Boo-tique and Sweet Hollywood were selling candy, clothing, novelty items and other amazing Elvira wares. I swear this woman has done a deal with devil or something because she does not age! This past year, Cassandra retired Elvira from doing Knott’s Scary Farm and I heard she’s cutting back her schedule, possibly to work on an autobiography?  In any event, it’s so great to see her at Midsummer Scream. I hope she returns next year!

That pretty much wraps up my experience. I’m sure I missed a ton of stuff because there’s just so much to do and see.

Midsummer Scream is now my favorite  horror convention. I have a feeling this show is only going to grow and get better. Highly recommended for Halloween and horror fans.

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Some of the goodies I bought at the show.

 

Halloween Creep is Good Business

A little birdie told me that Halloween merch is already creeping into the retail stores.  While there may be a desire to throttle the messenger, since nobody likes ultra-aggressive commercialism, for Halloweenophiles, this news might as well have been heralded in by silver trumpets.  This is the unofficial start of the Halloween season!

Wait, Halloween in July? Why the heck are they starting so damn early? What’s the rush? Indeed, the rush may be simple math.  The National Retail Federation estimated that Americans spent $9.1 billion on Halloween last year, up from $8.4 billion in the previous year, with $2.7 billion spent on decorations alone. Anyone who works or has worked in retail knows the need to get sales into the black, as early in the year as possible, is much desired.  According to NRF’s annual Halloween survey, over a third of Halloween shoppers start in September or earlier. Roughly 30% of households find inspiration within physical retail stores.

Hallmark Halloween Merch
Hallmark Stores Halloween Merchandise 2017

No one likes empty shelves, so retailers always look ahead. Thus, the term “holiday creep” is born. Holiday creep, which is more associated with Christmas, but can be used interchangeably with all holidays, like Halloween, Valentines, Easter, etc., only increases year to year, so, retailers will often cater to those shoppers in hopes of moving merchandise sooner than the Halloween season, mostly because the bigger holiday season follows right behind.

In fact, those retailers spend a great deal of energy, time and money, fine-tuning their sales process and strategizing their local marketing efforts and inventories for the region. Weather, location and pop culture all have an effect on Halloween sales. They have learned over the years, discounted seasonal items, collectibles and blow-out back stock almost always sells out early. This in turn allows retailers to offer newer merchandise or restock old favorites, at full price, and sell even more during the months of September and October.

Michaels Halloween merch
Michaels Halloween Merchandise 2017

There’s another really good logical reason by Halloween merchandise appears in stores early, and one could argue the term holiday creep shouldn’t even apply here. Anyone who frequents craft stores like Michaels or Joann’s understands that the supply chain must start earlier in the season. Artisans, designers, DIYs and other craftspeople who create and sell their own Halloween merchandise, can’t wait to get product in September. To be ready by October, their work starts now.  The same goes with Christmas, shoppers need to craft their items before the holiday season in order to sell in the holiday season. That’s why Halloweenophiles, stake out their local Michaels and craft stores during the summer, we long for the glorious warm hues of Fall to first appear and caress our demented little souls.

Michaels Halloween merch4
Michaels Halloween Fall Merchandise 2017

Halloween creep may be an annoying reminder to some people that time is flying by and the holidays will soon be here, but until the backlash is louder than the ringing of cash registers, holiday creep in general is unlikely to change.  If you encounter anyone freaking out over that fact, kindly remind them this is a totally natural progression in our capitalist society, which benefits the entire country overall, relax and enjoy the fact that we Americans get to celebrate holidays at all.

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What’s Your Halloween Style?

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A recent bout with illness gave me plenty of time to surf the web, where I came across a debate over how to celebrate Halloween. Sounds silly, since the beauty of Halloween is that it can be celebrated by anyone, in absolutely any way. It got me thinking though, do you have a Halloween style? It’s totally okay not to. It’s fascinating how all the different cultures and types of people come together and form this global Halloween convergence, that only grows with more and more ideas as Halloween moves into the mainstream consciousness. So, I thought, let’s have some fun discussing Halloween styles and see what people identify with.

Sweet ‘r Vintage
This is the barely scary, family friendly, vintage loving, zero gore Halloween. Their costumes are cute, their jack o’lanterns are cuter, and they never miss an airing of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. This crowd is into Beistle vintage repros and genuine antiques. They spend a lot of time preserving the history and innocent traditions of Halloween, and I suspect there’s a lot of baking going on.

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Halloween Collection ©Beistle

Classic and Spooky
These are the people who want a little more bite to their Halloween, but they are no gore hounds. They celebrate in the most typical of fashion, i.e., costume parties, parades, haunted mazes, theme parks, and midnight showings of classic monster movies. Every box is checked on the Halloween bucket list. They’re fine with the fact that Halloween only comes once a year, even though they’ll spend all year preparing for it. Say what you want about the consumerism, but these are the true Halloween traditionalists.

Grim & Goth
Halloween macabre. Vampire mystique. Red velvet. Dark eyeliner. Hearse rides around Forest Lawn. Candles. Candles. Candles. Tattoos and latex outfits are optional, but the devil-may-care attitude is a must.  I look at Halloween goths as classic traditionalists who have a deeper appreciation for the darker, supernatural, more grim side to Halloween.

 

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Scary ‘n Gory
Do you turn your own backyard into a terrain of terror every Halloween because you like the sound of people screaming? Have you ever had the cops called on you over a gruesome yard display? Have you ever petitioned the Academy to take another look at the artistic merits of the movie Hostel? If you answered yes to any of these questions, and are patiently waiting for the Saw series reboot, this could be your Halloween style.

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Heads on Spikes ©DapperCavader.com Los Angeles

$exy / #Trendy
Yes, this gets its own category because, candy corn Jello shots! Controversial masks and slutty Halloween costumes are not going away anytime soon, so long as frat parties are still around, but, here’s the thing, college kids always grow up. Whether or not, they stay Halloween fans and pass on appreciation for the holiday to their own children, depends on how they were embraced by the Halloween community. So stop being so judgmental, and let people wear what they want. Instead of bullying, urge people to respect each other, be kind, drink responsibly, and be safe on Halloween night.

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Harley Quinn costume ©Darcy Delia

Your Halloween style doesn’t and shouldn’t define you, but instead, allows you to connect to people who you normally wouldn’t. If you match one thing or two things or all things on this list, great! And, if you don’t, but you still love Halloween, well, there’s a style for that too.

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