Monday, November 2, 2009

H'ween, breakfast of champions

Had a big day ahead of us, so the man and I had a nutritious about 11.

Note candy bowl, be-wigged bartender in distance, weathered wood countertop. Crepes in the offing. What more could a girl want?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monster Lips

No, I'm not talking about Lisa Rinna. Just the greatest Walgreen's find of the century.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pumpkin Suds

I know this comes off as sarcastic but I do truly love how shopowners try to shoehorn their wares into the season. This little Jack is getting a shampoo - either that or his brains are coming out. And I like it.

Monster Lovin!

The annual changing of the nightlight

Owls are great and all and a perfect symbol for night-light-ism, but come October they've gotta jobshare.




Paul Frank is my fiend

Because who doesn't love a good window display:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New spooky ball formation a la Zoey

I've written about my cat's eerie ball arrangements before - toy balls, people, geez - so you can imagine how I felt when I came home the other day to find this:

*sniff* so proud. so creepy. it's a yin-yang thing.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Owl from Turkey

The man got back from a 3-week trip to Turkey this week and he brought me a sweet little carved owl from the Mediterranean coast. Check it:

Pretty cool, huh? I have a small owl collection - sort of a subset of my h'ween collection - that I'm really trying to keep that way, but this is a worthy addition. I know full well how trendy owls have become the last few years and they've probably jumped the shark by now, god willing. But for me, they have special resonance.

As kids, our house sat on a hill in Danville and a huge great horned owl - who must have lost his way from Mt. Diablo - used to swoop down and hang out on our balcony. He even got comfortable enough to let my brother feed him chopped meat from a heavily gloved hand. We called him Owly. Yeah, we were super clever kids.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Quest for Pumpkins

Last weekend, I went squash hunting with friends Bruce and Robin. We also brought R's adorable boys, Jacob and Johnny, because what is a trip to a pumpkin patch without a couple of beards? A lot less awkward, that's what.

We started at an out-of-the-way corn maze. One that had that mom-n-pop feel. Actually, more like a mom-don't-keep-your-eye-off-pop-because-he's-chatting-up-the-younger-ladies joint, to be more accurate. But it had an abandoned truck out front, a rickety barn and probably Boo Radley in the attic. Score.

Despite these humble signs, the corn maze was really pretty good. There was enough real estate to spook the kids (yes, Robin is that kind of mom - meaning: my kind of mom). Then we got lost and Bruce had to blast us a new path - yes, we're those kind of maze-goers.

After a quick stop at Duarte's, wondrous home of artichoke soup and ollalieberry pie, we found the pumpkin patch of my childhood dreams. It was more like a theme park with a haunted house, huge-ass hay bale maze (open for p.m. flashlight tours), hayrides, pony rides. In. Sane. And of course, there was the veritable river of pumpkins.

The kids got a wagon of jack-worthy squash, I got one shaped like Nixon's head and we all got that old-timey autumnalness of the central coast. I also got a loaf of artichoke bread to go with my Sunday night martini.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pre-h'ween in LA, Night 3

My last night we did a mystery dinner. I was a serving wench (read: ho) - not sure why I was assigned this. So against type.

Sugar was a horror writer and here we are rockin it:

Needless to say, I did not guess the murderer, since it was not me. :-( I get really confused after about an hour and everyone starts to fling accusations and I start wanting my woobie.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pre-h'ween in LA, Night 2

Great timing is not normally in my wheelhouse. Live and learn, maybe next time, and oh well it'll come out soon on DVD, are my watchwords.

So I was nerdily delighted when a rare "Trick 'R Treat" showing fell into my lap. The only night we didn't have plans happened to coincide with a one-night screening of this elusive internet sensation.

For whatever reason, the suits decided not to give this homage to h'ween a wide release or really any release at all and people like me were left wringing their werewolf gloves in agony.

Of course, today is the day that it's being released on dvd (yay!), but I figured, how great to see it on the big screen with several fellow-minded horror geeks?

Well before the 8 pm start time, a line began to form outside the Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax, a cool little indie place that reminded me exactly of the art house screens in Palo Alto, Berkeley and other college towns of my homeland. What I hadn't realized was the entire horror program the theater had planned for the whole month - a good mix of popular and obscure films and, and! a rare festival of Jose Mojica Marins, the Brazilian phreak who I've come to love, thanks to IFC. The fact that there are practically no horror festivals in SF this year made it hard to hide my jealousy.

To keep us occupied, a member of the staff strolled the line offering candy from a giant, splintering easter basket. Maybe it was the basket's shoddy workmanship, or the fact that this woman weighed about 90 pounds, but sadly, seconds after she began her rounds, she dropped the whole thing. I know it was cruel but there was something grimly hysterical about it. Sort of like Kevin on the Office with his big kettle of chili.

Anyhow, the event-ness was great, but not as great as the film. If you haven't seen it, get thee to a dvd. It's the first film I can think of that really nails every tenet of the holiday and in such an entertaining way. Brian Cox (the first Hannibal who also boasts two of my favorite things on his resume, Rushmore and Deadwood) was frickin amazing as was Sookie herself. Yes, Anna Paquin. Such incredible foresight of director Michael Dougherty, who there to do a Q and A, to put this now-horror icon in his first film.

The best part, though, was Sam. I won't say anymore than that - don't want to ruin the fun. But as Sugar said, he's the most darling evil figure ever.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pre-h'ween in LA, Night 1

So I just got back from an early halloween weekend in LA with Sugar Sue and Friends(R). We did this for the first time two years ago and it was great! It's awesome to get some time with kindred H'ween spirits.

My first night we went to Knott's Scary Farm. I know they call it the Halloween Haunt now, and there's probably some "good" marketing reason for it, but I think the original name is perfect.

Like last time, we went to the pre-scare boo-ffet (see what they did there?) – not for the food but because you get to go into the park a full hour early. So worth it. As hinted, the food is nothing special but it's not college dining hall either. They take a stab at themed desserts but the creepiest things are the guys under the hot orange lights slavishly waiting to slice your fatty prime rib. Or whatever that meat was.

Also, as you eat, you get to look forward to having various "cast members", as they're called, sneak up on you, scare the crap out of you and apply the heimlich, if needed. I find myself wondering about this choking aspect a lot when I'm there and whether it's an explicit part of the training. It's just how my mind works.

Then we pee (a must) and wait for the gate to open while creatures start to gather around you like a noose. I'm not kidding. The sun starts to set and you do begin getting a weird foreboding feeling.

And then, bam! The doors open and you're off to get as many passes at the haunted log ride as possible until the lines start to form. Yes, I said haunted log ride. I don't get it either but it's fun. Log ride + people jumping out at you = nice opening gambit to the evening. They make some kind of effort to create a backstory about mauled firefighters, but it's never made sense to me. Plus, October is still fire season in LA so it seems a tad dark, as Sugar Sue puts it.

Then it's the similarly klugey marriage of the train ride infested with giant spiders and we're off to the mazes – all 13 of them, an apt number. And as you walk through the park, this year infused with way too much eye-watering fake fog, you get accosted by more cast members.

At first, you think, I don't know if my nerves can take this all night but then it happens – the awesomeness. By hour two you're so filled with adrenaline you feel GREAT. The scares put you in some kind of nirvana that's hard to explain. Let's just say, it's a good time.

There are 3D mazes, clown mazes, insane asylum mazes, usually a lame maze promoting a current-ish movie, creepy doll mazes and so on. My favorite this year was the haunted cornfield – it was a rare outdoor maze filled with hay bales and creepy-ass dudes in burlap hoods. Scary because in some parts of the country, this could totally happen. I know, right?

There are also pseudo freak shows – fire-eaters, fire-dancers, etc. We even saw this guy stick a nail through his bicep. The whole time you know there's a trick to it and you keep waiting to figure it out until you look at each other and breath, dude, I think it's real. We left shuddering and looking for Snoopy cookies.

By about 11:30, my dogs are barking but I'm trying to re-visit the best mazes as many times as I can. Eventually, middle age wins out and I walk zombie-like to the car. There's a post-scare breakfast served from 1 a.m., which always sounds like a great idea the day of and always sounds ridiculous on our way out. So, so, so grateful that Sugar's boyfriend drives us home.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Eerie-ness in the Mundane

The guy in front of me at the pharmacy - a veritable mountain of a man - also called a bear in my neighborhood - got a phone call and his ringtone? The Addams Family theme. Nice little treat mere steps from the Pillsbury display below. Was he a kindred spirit I wondered? We chatted and he was sweet - just there to pick up some "Thudafed".

Things I like about this photo:
a) It accurately depicts the enormity of the gentle giant from my viewpoint.
b) The fake apothecary jars Safeway puts in their pharmacy window - the blue and green stuff makes them look more like evil scientist props.
c) How much Dos Equis the guy at the pharmacy window is buying - ay caramba!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Getting prescriptions filled at Safeway rocked pretty hard last night. Click to see it in its full, fabulous glory.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Spirit Stop #1

Is it me or are the h'ween stores opening later this year? And is this a Great Depression 2.0 thing?

Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining: The only thing worse than starting the h'ween season too late is too early. Because if I'm seeing too many skulls and cobwebs in August, they tend to lose their novelty by Oct. Just saying.

Which is why it was to my delight that I *just* found my first Spirit store in downtown SF. Much like Target, they were still kind of setting up, with half open cartons of death babies and ho' costumes.

The displays were still a wip but I think they're going to be good, or at least R-rated.

See? I wasn't kidding about those death babies. This has got to be a traumatizing experience for any under 10, but then who am I kidding? There are no kids in San Francisco.

It's hard to make out in this somehow appropriately janky-grainy photo, but yes it appears that they are in some kind of giant crib for devil tots. The fact that they seem to be merely tossed in haphazardly only enhances the effect. Because Evil knows no organization.

The best thing I saw and may yet wind up in my own home was this:

Awesome, right? If I had a few 6-year-old boys at home, it would've been a done deal, but since I do not, it will take some thought.

I've just never been a big cobweb person because it seemed like they require some labor and a lot of luck to get them to look just right. (I think we all have seen those neighbors that give it a half-assed go and it looks like it.) But now that the ease-of-use folks have taken up the torch, er, gun I might have a fighting chance.

I love reconnaissance trips like this but I think this may be my last one before the old itchy trigger finger (the one that enters my debit pin) takes over.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Target Part I: The Quickening

The mother ship was calling me back to the fold. I could feel it when I awoke yesterday morning, much like the vamp victim can feel the mental link with her master. "You may shop, you may not shop, but you must come for the viewing." I believe those were its exact words.

What the hell, I thought, I need some toilet paper and a new comforter anyhow.

I was early yet for the true season - I knew that. There wouldn't be endcaps of orange and black at every turn, but I thought I'd just look and see.

So you can imagine how pleased I was to see the spread of themed food and sodas. Stuff that we never had when I was a kid. Case in point:

Yeah genius right? Slice those squashy foodstuffs with some kind of die cut and they become spectral in a way you know you knew on some unconscious level. 
Now here's an oldie but I still think it's the best looking soda can ever. Period. End of discussion!

Food packagers get so excited even non-sweets get into the act with questionable results. I mean, why a vaguely addressed superhero concept, Goldfish? Why not a ghost or bat? (Scary first, is my motto.) I automatically can picture the mid-level marketing meeting, where the creatives were instructed to steer away from "intense themes" that would upset the toddler target. Oy. Fail.
In all, I was pleased. There was already a crap-load of stuff, but LOTS of empty shelves set aside awaiting their fates. And I got h'ween paper towels - yes!

Monday, September 14, 2009

First '09 purchase

I have so much h'ween crap that I start each season vowing to be very picky, brutal if you will, on what I'll choose to toss on the crypt pile. I try to have objective standards but it usually winds up to be stuff that I just like. Can't really explain it any other way.

Like this:

I mean, do I really need another pez? Does anyone? But every year, I find myself hawkishly surveying the new designs like a very badly dressed Anna Wintour. And this one stole my heart.

Why? I just love how the pez people had the huevos to make it look like a real bat. It's not prettified by any stretch - in fact, it's kind of disgusting. And had it not been about 3 inches big and plastic, I doubt I'd have bought it.

But it's this very contrast that hooked me - it's like the salted caramel of pezzes. And now it'll sit in a cubbyhole of my fireplace for probably another 10 months. Huzzah!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Birthday-H'ween cupcakes

My reputation seems to precede me. At least among those who know me best.

This morning, on the day of my birth, my man woke me up with lighted cupcakes and what the frogs call a cafe au lait.

The cupcakes were especially apt - one choc-orange in honor of my favorite holiday and a white-on-white in honor of...the fact that I am the whitest person ever, I'm assuming?

So there on my "happy camper" plate lies the central dichotomy of my life - the blond, scandinavian chick who likes dark stuff. Kind of perfect. Plus, my birthday card had bats on it.

And tonight? A quiet evening that follows a weekend of high activity - artichokes, J champagne, the season finale of True Blood (how fitting) and the original version of Wicker Man. Life is good.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Midnight snack

The Autumn Mix is here.

No, I don't like it much either. And yes, my Market St. Walgreens seemed to be selling bags leftover from last year. But, yes I bought one.

Why? Because it pairs so damn nicely with orange muscat. Especially after a productive Wednesday at about 11:47 p.m.

The best part is that the candy corn/mellowcreme pumpkin entry on my h'ween list now has a checkmark.

And yes, that is a deer lamp you see in the background. Sweet dreams!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Halloween around the corner (literally)

It is always Halloween in my mind. And of course I try to get a jump on the season as early as I can. But it's nothing compared to what those show folk get up to.

Friday night, the man and I were walking down Polk St. headed straight for a grown-up cocktail at Cresta's when we happened upon a film set for Trauma, a new ER-like show set in SF.

Now normally I like to think I'm pretty cazh about these things. Us Norcal gals like to distinguish ourselves from the south, pretending to give a crap about celebrities and their workplaces. But it did not go as planned.

Because it was a Halloween episode and I halfway lost my shiz. My friends know that I'm a total sucker for these - no matter how putrid the show. I've even watched the one for A Girl, A Guy and A Pizza Place. In fact, that was when I realized I needed help. Dark days.

But I digress.

Although I'm not a fan of hospital dramas, this was pretty cool free entertainment. I did the girly squeal noise a few times, I have to admit. A bunch of costumed extras - throw in a tranny or 20 - were carousing around the Crunch gym/movie palace. (Which I thought was curious until someone said they thought it was supposed to be the Castro, which still didn't make sense - why not just film there?) Fire trucks and ambulances sat docilely on the sidelines giving no indication as to what sort of "trauma" was in the offing. Will I tune in when it airs? As Tivo is my witness.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

An Overnight at the Overlook

As an amuse bouche to the spook season, the man and I decided to spend the night at the Timberline Lodge near Mt. Hood. A.k.a? The Shining Hotel!

Okay, okay. So they just used the exterior and the rest was filmed on a soundstage in England. But what an exterior. As soon as we turned the last steep bend and laid eyes on the stony edifice, complete with flickering flags, at least one of us peed a little. Just a little.

Though the inside bears no resemblance to the swanky swell hotel in the movie, the rustic wood-and-stone ski lodge still has lots of cubbyholes and crevices, mysterious stairways and strange creaky noises. Even the cheery inglenooks are just a bit too sinisterly tucked away.

Not that I was complaining.

Beyond the elaborate wall carvings and etched plaques, there's an eerie display of old photos and artifacts. First you're greeted by this dude. The hugeness of the painting, not reflected in this iphone photo, is like something out of an old family castle. But just imagine it's about 8 feet tall and it looks like it's Frank Langella. Those eyes, weird.

Then there are the actual photos, depicting guests from another era. Maybe it's the b/w, maybe it was because they were so ridiculosly enlarged or maybe it was because they were just damn creepy, they suggested a certain family-related tragedy from several seasons back.

Pre-sunscreen or pre-Amber Alert? You decide.
The Timberline holds the Shining card close to its vest, but still gives a nod to it now and again. Just check out the engraving on this ice pick in their ski museum.
But the bartender let us know in no uncertain terms that he would not answer to the name Lloyd. Strong words from stoner youth, I thought.

Overall, the hotel was the perfect mix of creep and comfort. Just my kinda cocktail.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My little ghoul Zoey

Of course, I have a black cat. And of course, I think she's special. But that's because she is.

No really: She has this crazy habit of rearranging her toys into strangely perfect lines and triangles. She does it while I'm gone and I return home to a new episode of Unsolved Mysteries in my hallway. I swear these photos are not staged or doctored in any way! Just ask my boyfriend who is now completely freaked out.

This was the first incident. Three balls in a perfect line. The slats in the floor are especially helpful in measuring the distance. Like she knew. 

A closer up view:

Creepy, eh kids? It actually gets better.

Here is the always popular triangle configuration. About a difficulty of 10 on getting the proportions just right, but she pulled it off:

The artist and her work:


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Happy September!

I don't care for fruitcake. Or turkey. Or green beer. Let's face it, other holidays just can't hold a bleeding skull candle to Halloween.

To make a good thing better, I try to make it last two whole months. Beginning September 1st (or 2nd, if I'm lazy :), I'm all about seeking out as many moldering moments as possible. The fact that it dovetails nicely with my Sept 13 birthday is a happy accident.

I literally squeal when I have my first Halloween stuff sighting. This year, it was in Safeway in mid-August. And it was just a bunch of crappy Holly Hobby-style scarecrows. But you work with what you've got.

And I never get over the surprise of unexpected sightings. How the spooky seeps into the most mundane of places. Like this ghost I saw haunting the produce section of a market in Bolinas. That's when you know the most wonderful time of the year is here.