Halloween

All posts tagged Halloween

Costume-palooza: The Swedish Chef

Published November 1, 2017 by admin

What, it’s Halloweek, you really expect me to stop celebrating because it’s November? Silly reader! Sadly, I didn’t touch on all my favorite past costumes this year (gotta leave something for next year), but I definitely want to include this year’s effort. Plus, hey, how about a fun, light post while you’re waking up from your candy coma this morning, right?

One of the big influences from my growing up was the Muppets. Jim Henson was and is a big part of my life – his fantasy work got my mind working in ways it never could have without Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and The Storyteller. The Muppet Movie provided the optimism and idealism I needed at certain times in my life. I grew up a hardcore Sesame Street devotee. Somewhere along the way enjoying everything Henson turned into me really wanting to figure out how all of that was done, and most likely was a reason I started getting into making big character suits, complex outfits that involve rigging, and working with puppets professionally. It’s really not that hard to make the leap from point A to point B in this case. For better or worse, I’ve not gotten to work with a Henson property yet, and after this they will probably never let me near them in the future, but oh well. This costume was totally worth it.

The Swedish Chef has been a long-running inside joke for years with me – it’s one of the voices I can do really well, and he just amuses me. I love puns, love silly stuff, and the old chef sketches just make me laugh so much. Depending on how bored I am and how good of a friend you are, you may or may not have had to suffer through me serenading you with popular ballads as done by the Swedish Chef on your voicemail if you don’t pick up.

So yeah, ta-da!

 

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Or is that ‘Bork bork bork!’?

 

 

As far as difficulty level, it wasn’t so bad, just mostly finding the different pieces. Apron, tie, and pants were shopped (and the pants were a miracle find that I didn’t expect), shirt is something I own for some reason. Obviously made the head, hat, and hands. Part of me is sad I didn’t spring for the antron fleece, but part of this exercise is I wanted to see if it was absolutely necessary to use it to do something like this. Short answer is no, but I do prefer it or a fabric with a stretch to felt. I think some of the detail work might have been smoother otherwise, but this idea was happening fast and on a budget. I played around with a spray adhesive vs some of the more industrial glues I’ve used in the past, and it actually worked out because I went back and adjusted some structural things on the head several times and I don’t know if I could’ve done that with something heavier.

All in all, this was a little bit of trial and error to make, but still a ton of fun. He’s fairly comfortable to wear, and I can foresee him being part of my notorious holiday card schemes in the future.

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Free Fiction, New Reviews, & Things to Creep You Out

Published October 31, 2017 by admin

Happy Halloween, all! Time once again to see all that I’ve been getting up to, and since it’s a special day, I’ve got some spooky stuff lined up. But first, if you’re looking for a last minute read that will creep you out, or one that will amuse you and not be as creepy but still be weird, might I offer the following suggestion:

 

Buy My Stuff

 

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at where I’ve been in the past week or so.

 

baba yaga's assistant

My latest review for Books by Violet covered one of my favorite new discoveries: Baba Yaga’s Assistant. I love this book. It doesn’t hurt that it’s about Baba Yaga, who’s one of my favorite folklore characters, but it’s also the way she’s used. I love the combination of folklore and modern life, I love the main character, I love the art, I love this book. Be sure to check out the full review full of my love here!

 

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I’m back with the Ladies of Horror flash fiction picture project – the above was my image for this month. It gave me a ton of ideas, but ultimately I went with something that I hope will creep you out this Halloween. Read my entry here,  then be sure to click around to read other fantastic, free reads to get you in the holiday mood!

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You can’t have autumn without leaves, right? Well not only have I kidnapped the HorrorAddicts.net blog, but I’ve done it with a story all about fall leaves – and decorating. By now you’ve probably figured out that there’s more to it than that, but I’ll let you discover what else is up, yourself. Check out the story here.

And I’ll be nice and not include a picture for this next one – if you haven’t read my clown piece The Moments Before, that’s the feature for another kidnapped blog on HorrorAddicts.net’s blog. A strange little piece about a new take on the end of the world, I have to say it pleases me. Check it out here.

 

SJ Reads: Hester

Published October 30, 2017 by admin

Time to round out the month with another nostalgic Halloween read! This week’s pick will be one of my favorites from when I was a kidlet, and likely one that only people who date back to bronze age (like me) will remember. I give you: Hester.

 

Hester

 

Hester is an alligator who’s getting ready for her Halloween party, but has time to spare. She goes out trick-or-treating, but ends up at a house that is owned by a very nice older lady and her friends. Since this book isn’t easy to find and has been out forever, spoilers ahead:

Hester totally trick or treats at a haunted house, but it’s full of nice monsters who are happy to have a visitor (and if memory serves, they let her in because she’s dressed as a witch, herself). There’s also a vignette where she helps the older lady (a witch) with some broom issues.

This is a super-cute book with some really vibrant and vivid illustrations. I remember checking out this particular title all year round as a kid, because I had a thing for exploring haunted houses (and this book is probably responsible for me thinking that any inhabitants of such houses would be a friendly delight, setting up my childhood mind to get wrecked by adverts for horror movies later on). The illustrations really give you room to explore – there’s some good detail which led to a great deal of imagining on my part as a kid.

I like this story because it’s somewhat gentle, with Hester soothing and helping out the haunted house inhabitants. They’re never really referred to as anything other than a nice old lady/nice people, so the book relies fully on the illustrations to convey the “joke.” Still, if you also look at it from the standpoint that they could very well be nice people except for the prejudices that are put on them (thanks horror genre), it’s interesting from that angle, as well.

Over all, a cute, fun, Halloween read that will give kids a lot to explore and give adults a chuckle. Unfortunately, it’s out of print, and while it’s a little easier to find than last week’s title, you’re going to end up paying for it.  I would definitely recommend checking out your local library system for it, because it is definitely worth a flip through.

 

 

Costume-palooza: Bring on the Weird!

Published October 27, 2017 by admin

Every so often, it seems like I feel the need to just go way over the top and do something…different. I’m not sure if this is from some subconscious need to prove myself or sheer boredom with the typical types of Halloween costumes, but this usually puts me in a really good mood until the moment everything starts falling apart and I have to make it all work. And then I love it again.

I know, it’s complicated. What can I say.

I was doing some work on an event one year and stumbled onto a French artist who does work with combining synthetic skin with fashion pieces (no, I have no idea what I googled to even find that), and it got me thinking of ways to use that concept which has led to a multitude of diverse projects – everything from a revamp of Elizabeth Bathory and a gruesome clown for the event I was designing for, to pouches and purses to spice up those late night trips to the grocery store (Okay, they’re actually for cons. I only accidentally wore one to the store once and it was completely worth it).

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And this thing. The whole killer prom queen archetype admittedly fascinates me for various reasons, and this was my take on it: cuteness on the top, party on the skirt (or however the saying goes). Originally this was made for a Simplicity Pattern design contest where you had to use one of their patterns in a new way. I’m not sure if this just wasn’t what they had in mind or it was the fact that I may have used one of their Disney patterns to base this off of, but obviously I didn’t win because people are no fun.

I’ve never quite gotten the whole look where I want it – I probably need to make a prom queen banner, and admittedly if I’m wearing it out I have no desire to dump a ton of fake blood on me because I have been there for professional reasons and I am not that invested in a look in my personal life. I’ve toyed with the idea of latex and paint up my arms to gore it up a bit, but again, I don’t really cherish the thought of doing that in a hotel bathroom. Anywho, skirt is latex over fabric with various (fake) parts ordered through the interwebz. Also molded the hand for the bag, though I’d likely try it a slightly different way if I had to do it again (also makes me wonder where I put that mold).

So that tided me over for a couple years, and then I had the need to go further, to be bolder, to be…more.

Again, I was playing with stuff professionally and a friend and co-designer and I somehow hit on the idea of delving into the world of stalkabouts, but tried to make things somewhat more user friendly for a gal – not that gals can’t wear a full suit, lord knows I have – but in this particular situation it was better to do everything possible to keep full visibility. We decided to play with a few different variations, and of course I wanted to incorporate this into my definitely not having a life crisis costume moments, so we ended up combining my fascination with Gothic Lolita street fashion and, well…weirdness.

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So what this is supposed to be is a creepy girl with her imaginary friend/demon companion/whatever – admittedly I think I can do more for it to read better, but I was literally finishing it as we were going out the door to road test it (and that, itself, had some more entertaining moments of my life that aren’t suitable for a public blog). Eventually I’d like to put a leash on Martin (that’s the demon’s name, because I was watching a lot of Doc Martin at the time) to kind of pull things together a bit. Unfortunately, poor Martin caught a hand in my car door at one point, and got dropped on his head, so I’m going to have to give him some TLC before wearing him out again – I’d also like to adjust his height because while walking through a convention hall is fine, the actual doors are not so easy. And I probably need to adjust his arm position, too, because he grabbed a lot of people’s butts and I just don’t need that problem in my life. The rigging, too, probably needs some slight re-calculating, but overall it’s actually more comfortable than it looks, just a bit hard to get into and navigate. Much to the distaste of those around me, Martin lived in my car for a while and then hung out in various rooms for my own amusement before retiring to current lair.

My friend the Amazing Larry did the initial dress, but I’ve since added things to it and adjusted the fit a bit. I did the cape, but have since swapped that bonnet out for one I was given. Obviously the bag is all me, and I did most of Martin, though I was working a lot at that point so Larry cut the basic skeleton pieces so I wouldn’t be a hazard to myself.

Like anything else, everything is in progress, and fluid, and I think that’s important to keep in mind, especially when doing big, weird things like this. It’s always how it is at the moment, or where I’m content for it to be for right now, but I fully expect for things to keep morphing and adjusting in the future – just like my life, oddly enough, so I suppose these are less reflective of some weird discontented breakdown and more reflective of me being in process. And that I am positively cool with.

SJ Reads: Hob Goblin and the Skeleton

Published October 23, 2017 by admin

Apologies for last week – apparently it’s that time of year that my sinuses decide to rule over every other part of my life. So, that was fun.

On to the books!

This week’s nostalgic Halloween title is one that I’m pretty sure my mother randomly grabbed at the library when I was a kid. It was one that I was deeply attached to growing up, but then couldn’t remember the title for the life of me – it took a lot of enquiries, mass googling, and finally people with better recall than me to find this thing again. I reread it for the first time in decades last year and fell in love all over again. Today we look at Hob Goblin and the Skeleton by Alice Schertle

Hob Goblin lives with his friend Bones Jones the skeleton – who insists that he was the King of England and therefore shouldn’t have to help clean or do chores or any of that nonsense (ed. – I feel ya, Jonesy. Unfortunately the ‘my skeleton is nobility’ excuse has never worked for me, either). After a fight, Bones Jones leaves and Hob Goblin decides to kidnap a human slave to do his work for him.

Okay, obviously there might be some people who would rather that aspect not be in a children’s book, and admittedly I kind of blinked because I didn’t remember that bit at all as a kid. However, I mean, it seems in character for a goblin, so there’s that.

Thus begins the adventure of Hob trying to find someone to kidnap…except it’s Halloween and everyone mistakes him for a trick or treater, right down to his big sack he intended to stuff his victim in. Things come to a head when Hob is mistakenly entered into a costume contest, and he eventually meets back up with Bones, and they share his Halloween candy, though they’re not quite sure what it is (and give it all sorts of slightly gross, fun names).

That last scene is what I really remembered, but suffice it to say, the whole book really held up well to my memory. The story moves along nicely, and there’s a lot of detail, from Bones using furniture polish to polish himself to the branch Hob uses to fly with his frog to the human world.

The art is also exquisite – down to the borders on each page. There’s so much movement and expression in the illustrations, I could just sit and stare at them for a good long time – and have memories of doing just that as a kid.

While it’s a little harsher than some kids’ Halloween fair, really it’s a perfect blend of spooky and funny with a decent lesson. As an adult I enjoyed it on story alone, and the illustrations just really took me to a place where I wondered (once again) what it would be like to live in that world.

The downside is this is not an easy book to find anymore. Seriously – the lack of cover is only because I’m not even finding a legit image of it.  There’s one listing on Amazon, but given the cover shown doesn’t match the book, I’m a little skeptical of the listing. I want to say this title is circa late 70s early 80s, and it’s definitely one keeping an eye out for (if one thing my search has found, it’s that so many fondly remembered- and good- titles from my childhood are now out of print). My local library does have it, however, so definitely check yours.

Costume-palooza: Princess Leia

Published October 14, 2017 by admin

Some more Halloween costume fun for the weekend:

This was actually made for a Star Wars party, but I’ve worn it off and on for some Halloweens, so I’m counting it. I was a huge Star Wars geek growing up, and though I’ve burned out some, I’m still always going to love the originals. And Leia is always going to be one of those characters that I always love. It’s weird, because growing up I was Vader and a Jedi for Halloween, but I never really fathomed myself being Princess Leia. Somehow that felt beyond me, that I was too geeky or awkward or plain or whatever. I don’t really know why it took me so long to do this outfit, but it was a long time coming.

And no, it’s not the outfit you’re hoping for.

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This took more picture research than I would have anticipated, and the friend who helped pattern it with me and I did change it slightly. The original is done as a big giant T with the side seams sewn, but there was no way I could find white stretch jersey that had that kind of wingspan. So, we added the sleeves on separately. I also had to double up the fabric to make it opaque, and figuring out the hood attachment and the neck was a little bit of a job, too. Boots are borrowed, wig is bought, blaster is actually one of the sound effect toy storm trooper blasters that I sanded and painted and now can never take anywhere without huge disclaimers. The belt is a vinyl base, with silver vinyl over car liner and some convenient look alike buttons I found. I can’t remember the total cost of this one (it’s been a while ago), and I still need to actually buy my own set of boots for wearing this out (I’ve cheated and worn black flat boots if it’s dark out when I’m wearing it. The real versions are flat white boots and if you’ve ever tried to source those, you’ll know how fun it isn’t).

I’ve worn this one while handing out candy in the past, and I’ve gotten some great reactions over it (except the mini Vader who cried because he thought I wouldn’t give him candy when I opened the door. That was nearly a galactic emergency). I’m a little particular with this one since it’s gleaming white, but I love it and love wearing it.

SJ Reads: Harriet’s Halloween Candy

Published October 9, 2017 by admin

Alright, time to cutesie this thing back up.

You can’t have Halloween without candy, and if we’re being honest, then that’s just buckets and buckets of candy. So much candy. As a kid, I’d dream of getting enough Hallowen candy to swim in it like Scrooge McDuck in his money. I had some good hauls back in the day, and I’m ancient enough to remember when more than the ocassional person gave out full size candy bars and really special neighbors who we knew wouldn’t murder us would give us cookies and candy apples and stuff like that. My mom always had juice bottles for little kids, and through the years we made it a point to have non-food options decades before teal pumpkins were a thing.

And every year, I had to check out and read this book.

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I don’t know if I identified with the being the older sibling aspect (which I’m not sure, because I didn’t start out life as the elder sibling – that didn’t happen til somewhat late in the game, considering). I don’t know if the detailed art just really appealed to me (I definitely loved looking at all the little details as a kid and identifying the types of candy).  Maybe it was because, for a kid’s book, Harriet struck me as a character who actually acted like the way I felt half the time.

The story is that Harriet goes trick or treating, but her baby brother is too young, so she has to share her candy. And of course she’s not going to because she worked hard for that, yo! After hiding it different places and getting worried, she decides that the only way to make sure she gets all her candy is to eat it all Right. Now.

You know where this is going.

The moment where she starts to feel sick and pivots towards sharing more is priceless – kids can see it coming from a mile away and giggle about it. The art is fun and friendly and accessible. I loved all of Nancy Carlson’s books growing up, but Harriet was my favorite character.

I got to hear her talk about her books as a teen (and she was kind and lovely.  However, by the time she got to our library for a signing she was freakin’ out of this book and I am STILL upset about that. I mean sure, I love Harriet and the Roller Coaster as much as anybody, but THIS WAS MY FAVORITE HARRIET BOOK AND A HALLOWEEN NECESSITY AND INNER CHILD SJ IS STILL SAD SHE DOESN’T HAVE A SIGNED COPY.

So obviously I learned the ‘sharing/letting other people have things you like is good’ lesson really well.

I actually checked this out last year, and like a lot of books from my childhood, I’m surprised by how short it is. I don’t know why I thought it was longer, but it seemed like this whole big thing when I read it as a kidlet. I tend to think part of it were the illustrations – I was much more prone to sprawling on the floor and immersing myself in picture books as a kid than I am now that I am…uh, not. And I think the funny moments just tickled me so much I probably just kept reading them.

So if you want a cute trick or treat down memory lane or want to see if your children learn to share better than I apparently did, definitely check out this book.