Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Madness 2014

It's almost time everyone. As we speak The big day isn't far away. Currently a thunderstorm is raining down during a double feature of The Hitcher and Evil Dead II. The candy bags are ready, the tote of animatronics prepared, pumpkins at the ready to be carved. Halloween is here.
Check that out folks! That's some full on branding right there. After years of talking about making a public domain movie show I finally got off my ass and did it. Lo and behold the public access channel even made this lil advertisement slide for me. Feels good to see something like this on the screen. Now I'll admit there's barely any host segments to this special as it was made on the fly with the possibility of not being finished in time. Now that I've learned my way around the editing, rendering, copying, etc, I feel confident in making the Thanksgiving and Christmas specials bigger and better. You fine folks need not worry about missing out either as I have plans to upload the specials and post them right here.
Another pleasant sight was this bad boy. A sheet of Scream Factory magnets from my recent company direct order. Yes everyone is able to get these, and I'd suggest you get yourself some right now. The feeling plasturing these all over the fridge is some major icing for a decent season. (Edit: looks like these are out of stock now. Sorry for rubbing them in your face).
Speaking of the season, there was a very good night spent out with my people at the Shawhaven haunted farm in Mason Michigan. Overall it's one of the best values I've ever encountered in the horror attraction world. 25 bucks will get you a hayride, cornmaze, and haunted house. An extra five bucks will net you a ride in a coffin that simulates being buried alive. You better believe I paid for the whole package. I try not to put out too much personal stuff but suffice to say it was a great time with my friends and it was a night I'll be looking fondly back on for quite some time.
A new activity for my current Halloween festivities has been puzzles. Don't mistake me here, puzzles suck, and for years I just stunk at them, yet something seems to have been rewired in my nigget so that I'm fully capable of knocking one out. An exciting development? No. I still think it's neat though.
Next up it's food and (mostly drinks) ahoy! There's been no shortage of new tastes lately. More than likely a few things will simply end up being forgotten before I even write about em but let's give it a shot eh?
Angie's Candy Corn Kettle Corn is absolutely outstanding! I don't care if you have nothing but pure venom towards candy corn or its Indian cousin, this stuff is smooth, creamy, sweet. Ohhhh it's got the flavor and texture confectioned corn was always meant to have which when drizzled over popcorn is just awesome. Not sure how easy it is to find in most areas. Strangely enough I came across it at a health food store of all places.
What didn't need to be bought from a hippie emporium was the Harvest Pumpkin tortellia chips. The brand that makes these things is called Food Should Taste Good which almost serves as a review. The chips do in fact taste good...not amazing, definitely wouldn't make nachos with em, but they are they......should be?
All of the new taste sensations don't necessarily belong to the seasonal food category. For instance these Dry brand sodas started poppin up around here. Being the adventurous type I began my sampling with they're strangest flavor. Believe it or not, Cucumber soda is actually pretty good. Not as good as celery soda but I can easily see myself snatching one up every now and then.
Also from Dry brand, this vanilla bean soda was disappointing. I mean if you can get cucumber right, how could you possibly screw up vanilla? Yet they did with a thoroughly uninspired drink that is only made interesting when drank alongside various candies.
For as daring as the cucumber nonsense may seem, nothing came out of left field quite like Rockstar Horchata energy drink. Yes sir, a horchata energy drink. Against all odds, this not only exists, but is pretty good to boot. Before I get to the positives, it would seem best to warn you that this stuff inspires more wee wee runs to the bathroom than anything I've had in a while. I suppose this could be considered a plus for anyone attempting to detox or prepping for a drug test. There's your endorsement potheads. Another issue is that no matter how much you shake it, all the lil rice bits just settle right back to the bottom thous leaving you with a soggy lump at the bottom of every can. Otherwise the taste and consistency is great and the cinnamon helps to keep your sugar from bombing out as is the case with so many energy drinks.
Coco Fizz is yet another attempt at making chocolate soda which comes to us via Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (if there's a better name for my butthole I have yet to hear it). While this is a cut above other chocolate sodas it's still kinda gross and me at least. Honestly I didn't feel it was terrible, just not good. My friend on the other hand really enjoys it. I suppose if you've been searching endlessly for the top coco soda you at least owe this stuff a shot.
Saugatuck Neapolitan milk stout. Let it be known far and wide that milk and beer are great friends. While this isn't the best milk stout I've come across, it does live up to the promise of having three flavors floating around. Unfortunately it's impossible for those flavors to be layered, making it less Neapolitan and more chococerynilla.....I suppose that'd be harder to market.
Pumpkin Chai beer from....can't remember, is based on sound logic. All three items are delicious on their own, and have frequently worked well together. Why not shove all of them into one bottle? Ohh but the results (shakes head). I still think this could make for something tasty but this particular batch doesn't leaves zero taste of pumpkin or chai, just dark beer. I wish there was more detail to add but this was just a total disappointment. Save your money.
Shock Top Honey Bourbon Cask ale is just so gross. Wood polish with honey. Nice cap though.
Smutty nose pumpkin ale is good and basic stuff. Nothing too remarkable but nice. Seems like it'd go along quite well with fishing. Which I find odd as I associate very few things with fishing.
Woodchuck out on a limb is something quite surprising. Normally the woodchuck brand means passable taste and maybe a headache to go with it but here that's not the case. There's some real effort put into this stuff that makes the flavors of chocolate & respberry really stand out without any of the usual cider side-effects. Good stuff that's worth a shot if you come across it.
Oh boy. As is far too often the case, this entry has taken a couple nights to finish up. Now it's the morning of Devils Night. I've got carving to do and a list minute inventory/prep of the final wave of decorations. Not to mention it'd be a mistake to miss out on one more spooky walk, oh and I might hit up the thrifts stores.....I've got a lot to do. In case I'm not back on here in time I'd like to wish all my small readership a great Halloween. Go scare up some fun.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Book Sale 2014!

It's that time again folks. For anyone who's read this site for a while you may remember my yearly binge at the local library book sale every October. For the past 4 or 5 years this sale has served as an excuse to hunt for some horror literature along with whatever other oddities I can dig up along the way. Really, I can't imagine Halloween without this sale. It's as much a part of the season for me as carving pumpkins and nightly horror flicks. This year easily ranks as the best haul I've ever had, with over 20 items obtained from two separate visits. Given my average reading speed, I'd say I'm covered through Valentines day at the very least. Let's check out the swag shall we?
First up is the horror selection. Last year was somewhat rough on this front but there were no issues this time around. In fact; there was actually enough choices available that I had to leave some things behind. When you can feel confident in shrugging off a killer doll novel, you know it's a good day. So What do I have here?
The very first title I picked up was harvest Home by Thomas Tryon. My sister actually pointed this one out and it took me a moment to recall that Tryon was responsible for old Monstervision favorite “The Other.” Couldn't be more excited to go through another of his folksy horror tales, but another book takes precedence above all others.
Crooked Tree: Honestly; I was already feeling pretty confident in my stack of spooky stories but this baby shot straight up to priority #1 based on two simple factors. One is critical praise by Frank DeFellita, the awesome writer and sometimes director of tales like Audrey Rose, Dark Night of the Scarecrow, and the Entity. About the only praise from an author that could garner this much excitement from me is if I saw a quote from Graham Masterton proclaiming a book to be gory.
The second shining element of this book is there inner cover which reveals the main threat of the story. See that bear in the tree, well check this out!
It's a werebear! A sexy lady werebear at that! God almighty this thing is failure proof! I mean how could a book about a bear woman not be at least marginally entertaining? If this sucker pans out expect an entry about Werebears any day now.
Other than those two highlights, I've got some thrillers and my first attempt at plowing through John Saul, plus some kind of horror comedy (a genre I've never taken on in book form.) Like previous sales I'm sure most of these won't get touched for months (cough) if ever. That's the joy of these sales though. You can just go crazy and try out whatever you feel like getting.
The sci-fi/fantasy area is always a tad trim at these sales yet I managed a few cool pick-ups. The Galactic Arena looks like classic style trash, alien gladiators and all. On Stranger Tides is a fantasy pirate adventure I've been wanting to read for a few years now. Yes it was bought by Disney as the basis for some of the stuff from the Pirates movies, mainly the Blackbeard looking for the fountain of youth bit. Hopefully this will be more consistent. The winner in this category is easily Starrigger; the beginning of a trilogy about space trucking. I always know a title is worth picking up when everyone who reads the description instinctively shakes their head in disbelief.
Nabbed a couple of semi-normal books as well, fist being Pillars of the Earth. Under normal circumstance I would never spend a penny on a book about a bloody church yet a friend of mine breezed through it last year and gave it some major props. At the very least that endorsement has earned it three chapters before deciding if I'm gonna bail for some comic books. Berlin Bed Rooms on the other hand is very much the opposite of classy best-sellers. What we have here is some Cold War red scare pulp about German sex nymphs luring witless dudes to the other side of the wall. Behold the promises of filth on the back cover.
One of these is going to serve as my post Halloween refresher and I'm sure if I'll lean towards historical epic or trash....probably trash.
The biggest spot of fun during the whole sale was searching through tables of old VHS flicks. I started a very tiny collection of tapes last fall and this was the perfect opportunity to build on it. During the first few days, each tape was a measly ten cents but Saturday brought the grab bag deal. Oh boy howdy was that a lifesaver. That picture isn't even everything I bought as a few other items were gifted out to people. It's gonna be tremendous fun to have a VHS night introducing my nephew the pee inducing nightmare that is Fire in the Sky. Not to mention Karloff's Mummy and The Fog which may be in better condition than my vastly overused DVD.
Above everything else is Shattered Silence. I picked this tape off the table on a whim and instantly recognized it under it's alternate title “When Michael Calls.” Years, ago I spent Halloween night with my sister and her friends at one of their homes and this was one of the main flicks for the night. They only vaguely remember that night but I still have some recollection of this movie and I'm just stoked to watch it again. The find only gets better as this is one of those hard to find cult flicks waiting to be rescued by something like Scream Factory.
After the sale we hit up a few thrift stores and wouldn't you know it, I turn my head for a few minutes and my sister works out a deal with another shopper for two garbage bags filled with paperbacks! I ended up with a few titles from this massive haul though I'm a tad gun shy as they stink a good bit of basement and funk. There's The Deep, a 30 Days of Night spin-off, and some book about alien parasites during folks into crazed zombies. Think of a serious version of the Night of the Creeps/Slither situation. Most of the reviews on Amazon are terrible so god only knows what I'm in for with this.
Alright. It's time to finally wrap this up. I've been slowly writing it up for days now and the collection of novelty foods and decorations to cover is starting to pile up, not to mention little adventures to art shows and haunted attractions (one of which I plan to visit this weekend.) We're in the heart of spook season people, get out there and have some fun.

Monday, October 6, 2014

October Sampler

This was how I started my October.
Spook season is in full effect folks. Leaves crunch and crinkle under every step, the sky turns shades of orange and gray, and every corner could reveal any type of bizarre sight. I'm starting this when I really should be sleeping. Another morning shift awaits yet I find it difficult to separate from the ridiculous ghost shows of Destination America. In just a few days, the annual library book sale starts up, which means I'd best cover some loose items before antiquated book finds fill this page.
Most years, I attempt to get at least one game that matches the mood of the season. More often than not, I end up replaying a classic like costume quest or Symphony of the Night. Currently I've been catching up on more recent Castlevania antics with Lords of Shadow. In case you haven't heard, this is neither straightforward action like the originals nor is it the sprawling lite RPG of later titles. What we've got here is more of a grab bag of ideas from a multitude of games. You've got the combat of god of war, boss fights like shadow of the colossus, with other generic tidbits like quick time events tossed here and there.
The art design is almost like a Del Toro movie except nothing looks like it's drenched in urine. It's a big departure from the beautiful girly men of the most entries in the series. Now you play a dude who wouldn't look out of place in NFL Blitz (did I just date myself?). This dudes' shoulders are wider than my bed! Plus he's got some tight Swayze hair to shield him from evil. Oh, and he's voiced by a very sleepy sounding Robert Carlyle who just stopped in for a paycheck. I don't think he performed the battle sounds which greatly resemble a frat dude vomiting.
You won't be getting anything close to a full review from me, especially since I'm two stages away from being finished. Overall it's an odd duck. It's repetitive, old fashioned, pretty much requires a guide, and it can be just stupid hard, yet it's fun all the same. Even though I've spat at the screen multiple times eith pure malace in my heart, I keep coming back for another helping. There's enough joy to exploring this big scary world and slaughtering monsters to bring a smile, though that smile will be tainted by a platform puzzle or just yet another moment of scratching your head, wondering what the fuck you're supposed to do. Ohhhh and that fucking music box stage! That's the worst! So I kinda hate the game yet I'm thinking of buying the sequel. Consider that a triumph of the whole over its' parts.
Of course those Castlevania fueled rage dumps make a man thirsty. And what better way to replenish cursing strength than milk? Not just any milk mind you, but orange scream milk from Trumoo. Does anyone find it strange that citrus fruit have become a staple of Halloween based solely on color? No one associates mold and blood with Christmas so why would oranges and limes ever be considered spooky? Suppose there's no point in rebelling against it. All there more so since this stuff is actually pretty good. Consider a cup of melted dreamcicles but remove the sting of the orange part. Sadly I ran out of crunch berries before I could cross the line into using this stuff on cereal. My body will thank me by not developing diabetes.
That is a oreo no bake sandwich......I wouldn't recommend it.
Wouldn't be fall if we weren't being bombarded with new cookies. First up are pumpkin spice Oreos. Far less obnoxious than other Oreo flavors, I could see these becoming a tradition. There's not too much spice to them though I wouldn't mind a tad more pumpkin added to the mix. It's just a nice creamy flavor and damn it's good with coffee which as we know is the defining factor in the value of any baked good.
I broke in the new stove with Candy Corn cookies from Betty Crocker. Now before you run off in disgust, these aren't very candy corny (I like that phrase). It's actually a more flavorful sugar cookie that smells....well they smell awful but they are tasty. I wasn't thrilled with them yet my candy corn hating sister took down a good quarter of the box. Not sure if that constitutes a win or not.
Washing down the cookies we move onto Leinenkugel's Shandy Sampler. We're talking about a 12 pack of 3 new flavors that can only be bought in this sampler. Therein lies the problem. Ya see, Harvest Patch Shandy is really good. It's refreshing and leaves behind this nice pumpkin pie taste. I'd easily buy a bunch of this stuff. Cranberry Ginger Shandy is a step down. It doesn't have much ginger punch and the cranberry is just kind of meh. Think of it as a beer version of Sierra Mist Cranberry splash without all that tasty sugar. Lastly is the Old-Fashioned Shandy. What's old-fashioned about it exactly? Good question. I have no answer. This is floor wax, straight up floor wax without the joys of lemon scent. In the end, you have to decide if the equation of one third great, one third weak, and one third awful is acceptable to your wallet.
Seeing as it's five hours before I gotta be to work...I should probably wrap this up. If anybody has some nice tips for spicing up the season, drop a comment. This is a season for adventure no matter how big or small.