Tag Archives: Halloween

Pumpkin Gingerbread Cookies

About last night…

So last night was Halloween.  As you can tell from previous blogs, this is my favorite night of the year, and my favorite thing to do is scare the ever loving crud out of trick-or-treaters of all ages.  We start it with ambiance…the yard was supremely creepy this year!

We had dozens of Jack-o-Lanterns, we filled the yard with brush from my neighbor’s tree trimming, I spread spider webs over all the branches…

There was even a flaming gas can that lit up our KEEP OUT sign.  This is a great trick that I think I stole from the movie “Son of Rambow” which is a delightful little film if you’ve never seen it.  About some very young British kids making a fantasy film in elementary school.  This flaming gas can is normally the head for my scarecrow, but I didn’t have time to make a scarecrow this year.

Around 7:30pm I started to get worried.  We’d had only one party of very young trick-or-treaters and it had already been dark for 30 minutes.  In a normal year, the little ones come around sunset, and within an hour of darkness, everyone has finished trick-or-treating entirely.  Was it going to be a bust year?

Since they moved Daylight Savings time to November, it was still not getting dark early, and since it was a school night, I was really worried that we weren’t going to have any trick or treaters.  But, around 7:45, they started coming.  Thank goodness!

To pull my gag, I wrap myself in old blankets and put on a creepy burlap sack mask that I made a few years ago after watching the film “El Orfanato,” a Spanish horror film produced by Guillermo del Toro (who did Pan’s Labyrinth, etc.) which is one of the scariest films I’ve EVER seen.  A little deformed boy in an orphanage is forced to wear this little burlap sack over his head so the other children aren’t frightened by his deformities, and to make the mask a bit more whimsical for him, a kind woman sews little buttons on for the eyes and gives him blushing cheeks.  But, for the viewer, it only makes the mask more terrifying.  So I did my best to copy it:

You can see that I’ve cut one hold so I can see out through one eye, and that’s the thing that creeps kids (and parents!) out the most.  Seeing that eye.  But I don’t blink or move it, so they can’t tell whether it’s real or not.

All together we got about 10 groups of trick-or-treaters.  We get fewer each year.  I’m not sure what to attribute that to.  I generally don’t scare the littlest ones, I just sit there and let them try to figure out whether I’m real.  I had one little girl who was almost hypnotized, she wouldn’t grab any candy OR turn around and leave, she just stood there staring at me.

The older kids get a big scream when they reach for candy, of course.  The best moment was when a group of pre-teens were too scared to walk up the sidewalk, so they forced their aunt to go for them.  She kept saying, “It’s fake guys, I know it’s fake, that’s why I’m coming up here to get you your candy!”

About that moment I screamed and lunged for her, and she was so surprised that she just passed out backwards onto my sidewalk and didn’t move.  For an instant I thought I had given her a heart attack and killed her, but then she started laughing and her family was rushing up to her and laughing, too.  “I’m about to kill that guy!” she said, and then said, “Look at me, a grown woman, getting scared like that!’

Ultimately she was a great sport, and told me she was excited to see the footage uploaded to YouTube, and you can find the link at the bottom of this blog entry.  Sweetheart, if you ever read this, you are welcome to bring your family over to my house for dinner one night!

It was a great night, a fun time had by all.  Big thanks to J-P, Jacques, Karen, Sharon, Chris, and Christian for helping pull it off!

Even Oliver got in the spirit with his pumpkin costume:

He only wore it for a short time before getting totally ashamed and humiliated, so much so that he didn’t want to be outside with the rest of us and just wanted to mope on the bed:

A big HAPPY HALLOWEEN to all of you!  Only 364 days left until NEXT Halloween!!!

Here is a quick tour around my front yard at night:

And here is a 5 minute clip of me scaring trick-or-treaters, including the woman who passed out!

And a final few images for you to enjoy!

Happy Halloween!

It’s Halloween!  My favorite day of the entire year.  I loved Halloween as a kid, but because our parents strictly forbade us from eating candy, we had to donate all our candy to the church food pantry each year.  Trick-or-treating was about the activity itself, not about the candy at the end.  (Though, I confess, I usually snuck a few pieces here and there when Mom wasn’t looking!!!)

As an adult, I fell in love with autumn through Ray Bradbury’s books Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes (which has also been turned into a FABULOUS film, easily Disney’s scariest film of all time), and fell in love with Halloween all over again through his novella The Halloween Tree.  Chances are you’ve never heard of this little book.  Like Oscar Wilde’s fairy tales, Bradbury wrote this book for children, but it’s really meant for adults.  It has brilliantly-etched, supremely creepy illustrations from the great Italian-American artist Joseph Mugniani.

The book tells the story of all the holidays like Halloween that have been observed throughout the history of civilization…from Mexico’s El Dia de los Muertos, to the death holidays of ancient Egypt.  It’s not only educational, it is suspenseful and fun, and a quick read.  Whether you have kids or not, you should own a copy of this book.  It’s out of print, unfortunately, but both new and used copies can still be found on Amazon for under $5, which is a total bargain.  I usually keep 3 or 4 copies on hand at any given time because I love loaning them out.  It’s truly a miraculous little book.

Growing up in West Texas where we have no trees and only two seasons: bitter cold and blazing hot, I never experienced AUTUMN as a kid.  But through Bradbury’s books, which so perfectly capture the spirit of autumn in a boy’s mind and heart, I feel like I inherited childhood autumn memories from Bradbury.  Who couldn’t with words like these:

“It was the afternoon of Halloween.  And all the houses shut against a cool wind.  And the town full of cold sunlight.  But suddenly, the day was gone.  Night came out from under each tree and spread.  Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows’ Eve.  Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet.  Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades.  From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked.

“The cries behind the locked house doors grew more exasperated as shadows of boys flew by windows.  Half-dressed boys, greasepaint on their cheeks; here a hunchback, there a medium-sized giant.  Attics were still being rummaged, old locks broken, old steamer chests disembowled for costumes…”

All our holidays are being taken over by marketing specialists and commercialism, and rather than let Halloween disappear into a Hallmark card of inflatable lawn decorations and poly-molded plastic ghosts hanging from trees, I have always endeavored to bring the homemade spirit back into Halloween by making most of my decorations and doing my best to truly terrify the children who come trick-or-treating at my door.  We’ve softened this holiday into a candy-corn love fest with cutsie costumes and decor…when this is the one night of the year when you’re supposed to be scared so much that your mom doesn’t want to do laundry that night!  I haven’t had much time to devote to decor due to my recent travels, but here is what my front yard looks like this morning:

I spent about $4 on spider webs and spiders (one of the greatest Halloween decorations EVER invented…and one of the most mis-used…you have to stretch the webs VERY thin for a realistic effect), my neighbor has picked up a few items from garage sales to contribute, but largely the decor is homemade.  Her trees got trimmed last week, so we just drug the branches into my yard to make it look overgrown, and stretched spider webs across the homemade stick-fence and the branches, and the place looks pretty creepy!

Last Saturday night was my annual pumpkin carving party.  After tonight I’ll have some night-time photos of the pumpkins all lit up, but here are a few we snapped the night of the party:

I’ll carve a few more before it gets dark.  I like my yard to be absolutely FILLED with jack-o-lanterns.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I put a homemade burlap sack mask over my head and lean awkwardly against my front door so that I look like a homemade scarecrow.  When the kiddies come up, they usually don’t give me a second look because they are eyeing a black cauldron of candy sitting in front of me, and I jump and scream at them as soon as they reach.  Then, if the volume of trick-or-treaters permits, I continue following them up the street and jump out and scare them when they come back from neighbor’s doors, also!  You should get scared on Halloween…that’s what makes it fun!

(One year I ran out of candy and had to squat down to make myself look short, dash a few streets over, and trick-or-treat to get more candy to give to MY trick-or-treaters.  I got a few nasty, suspicious looks from the adults who could tell I wasn’t 10 years old.)

I do hope each and every one of you has a truly terrifying Halloween tonight.  Think of my on my favorite night of the year!!!

And if you haven’t watched my little 5-minute short film called “Pumpkin Eater” on YouTube, you should head over and check it out at the link below.  It’s fun for the whole family…maybe a tiny bit creepy, as well.  Happy Halloween!