Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I And Love And You

One foot in and one foot back.
But it don’t pay to live like that.
So I cut the ties and I jumped the track.
For never to return.

It's finally here - today is the day! For fans of The Avett Brothers this is a moment filled with intense excitement and a bit of lingering remorse. We are excited because the Avett's new album: "I And Love And You" is released today. Their first release on a major label, many believe this will be the album that will rocket them from indie poster boys to international stardom.

And therein lies the rub. In granting the boys the acclaim they so rightfully deserve, we must grudgingly accept that they will no longer be playing shows for a small fan base who have been with them from the first. It's like letting go of a child's hand as they take their first, tentative steps into a larger world. Your heart soars, but you know they will never be the same.

Here's hoping The Avett Brothers never change - and here's hoping the postman doesn't let me down in delivering my copy of the album today!


Monday, September 28, 2009

Witch Jars

Another great idea from the brilliant (and twisted) mind of Pumpkinrot. These are my attempt at Rot's superior design for 'Witch Jars,' which are basically Mason jars coated in Elmer's Glue with some red and black paint splashed inside. I also gave it a fine coat of black spray paint just to age it a bit and a few gooey, drippy lines of ooze from a hot glue gun just for funsies. Last but not least, I tied some twine I found in a dumpster around the top and dropped some battery operated tea lights inside. To see the real deal - and a much better version of it - head on over to www.pumpkinrot.com.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lines On Ale

Fill with mingled cream and amber,
I will drain that glass again.
Such hilarious visions clamber
Through the chamber of my brain —
Quaintest thoughts — queerest fancies
Come to life and fade away;
What care I how time advances?
I am drinking ale today.

Last year's ale of choice during the haunting season was Jack's Pumpkin Spice Ale, an Anheuser Busch product. While it did its duty last year, apparently my taste buds have changed over the course of a year. I rushed out and bought a six pack just as soon as it became available and was decidedly underwhelmed. It was okay - but tasted rather... manufactured. Where was the spice? Where was the bite? All gone - in its place was a slightly acidic aftertaste that grew unpleasant after the first few quaffs.

Something had to be done.

In my pursuit for the next great pumpkin ale, I moved on to Blue Moon's Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale. A much better draught in my opinion, I was pleased with the overall performance of this mellow tasting ale. Not as blandly perfect as AB's Jack's, this was a subtler ale with less emphasis on the pumpkin taste. I would recommend it for those looking for a refreshing autumn treat while toiling away over those last minute props in the garage.

More to come...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Equal Night, or, Points In Time & Space

The first day of fall.

For me, this usually translates into: "My God! I'm running out of time!" This year is no different - too many projects, not enough time. My main goal at the moment is to finish up with our Halloween poems and invites, which have been pushed onto the back burner for far too long. This is also a long-standing fall tradition, which usually requires pulling an all-nighter to finish on time.

And yet, there is a magic in the air which inspires the wicked heart. As I read the article on the internets today regarding the first day of autumn I came across this passage which seems steeped in mystery and ripe for inspiration as I scramble to finish our poems on time:

"...Equinoxes, which mark the onset of spring and autumn, and solstices, which mark when summer and winter begin, are points in time and space that mark a transition in our planet's annual trip around the sun.

At each equinox, the sun crosses the Earth's equator, making night and day of approximately equal length on most of the planet (from the Latin, equinox means "equal night"). At the equator, the sun is directly overhead at noon on either equinox..."

Let the all-nighter begin.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mmm Mmm Good...

Mmmm mmmm! Yum! The first pumpkin spice cappuccino of the year is always the tastiest. Sure, it's the push-button variety from a machine - you know, the syrupy sugar filled beverage from your local gas station - but man is it good! Yeah, I know I could go down the road to the local coffee shop to get an authentic pumpkin spice, but why pay $3.85 (seriously!) when I can get the same size for $1.06? Well, I suppose there is something to be said for supporting the local businesses and not the faceless giant corporations, but what can I say... I'm a miser at heart.

It's that time of the year - something I'm coming to enjoy more and more as I get older. I used to dread the ending of summer. To me it meant winter was right around the corner - which is a frightening prospect in SE Minnesota. But now I'm finding so many things to enjoy about the season, with Halloween being a big part of it. As you age, you come to appreciate the falling leaves, the taste of good coffee, the crisp smell of autumn air, the roar of the crowd at a high school football game, pumpkins ripening on the vine, and so much more. Even though it's a time when things begin to die, it feels more and more like a great time to be alive.

(P.S. The black jars next to the coffee are some $1.00 garage sale buys I bought a week ago. They were hand made for herbs - but a coat of black paint and some sprigs from our yard and they are transformed into diabolical potion bottles from some witch's cabinet. The names, by the way, are titles of stories from Edgar Allan Poe.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Haunted Bookshelf

A little preview of one of the bigger projects I've got going for Halloween this year. Each year I like to pick one big project and try to get it done at all costs (which can sometimes be expensive!) This year's project is 'The Haunted Bookshelf.' Taken off the Monster List website, this is one has A LOT of working parts. Pictured above are my line-up of books; the whole lot bought from Goodwill for $2.00. I spent an afternoon tearing their guts out with an exacto knife, and then another day aging them and putting on their titles - accomplished with a little help from my wife's scrapbooking supplies...

For 'The Haunted Bookshelf' I've enlisted the aid of my father-in-law, as the inner workings of this thing are a little too complex for my duct-tape and hot glue capabilities. I've seen a test run of this bad boy and it looks incredible. He's building a containing box right now - and I can't wait to see the whole thing operational. This is one of those special projects, much like our 'Pepper's Ghost' from a couple of years ago, that leaves guests at our Halloween party saying: "How did you do that?"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Game Day!

It's hard to believe that summer is finally over and game day is officially here. My alma mater: the mighty Iowa State Cyclones kick off against North Dakota State in Ames, IA tonight! All the strange looks and curious glances from friends and neighbors as I worked on Halloween props in July will be worth it as the pigskin flies and the clock to October 31st starts ticking down. Sing it with me everyone...

O we will fight, fight, fight for Iowa State,
And may her colors ever fly.
Yes, we will fight with might for Iowa State,
With a will to do or die,
Rah! Rah! Rah!
Loyal sons forever true,
And we will fight the battle through.
And when we hit that line we'll hit it hard
ev'ry yard for I. S. U.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Old Dreedle Place

Whenever we go to visit 'Big Grandma and Grandpa' in Iowa (according to my daughter my parents are 'Little Grandma and Grandpa' because they live in a small house, and my wife's parents are 'Big Grandma and Grandpa' because they live in a big house), we always try to take a walk past the old Dreedle Place - otherwise affectionately known as The Spookhouse.

Do the Dreedles actually live there? No, not to my knowledge - the name is from a Halloween picture book my daughter has, but it seemed appropriate. My two year old son calls it the 'pookhouse!' If you look closely in the window you'll see why. As we stroll by we like to dare each other to get close - maybe even knock on the door or ring the bell. My fearless daughter has no qualms with marching right up there and confronting the Boogeyman. Me, I don't know. There's just something sinister about a house that leaves a frightened looking jack-o-lantern in the window all year long...