Category Archives: Halloween Countdown

Halloween Countdown: Another Baking Experiment

IMG_0485

I saw this in the store and I figured I could do this one. It’s Rice Krispies treats. They’re the things—besides grilled cheese and ramen noodles—that even college dorm kids can make.

Except I really really suck at making grilled cheese. Ramen is my jam though. The verdict was still out on Rice Krispies treats. I’ve never made them. And although I had a bad feeling about my first time being this pumpkin-shaped kit, like I said, I figured I could do this one.

It’s become kind of a tradition for me botch up baking crap on this blog. See last year’s pumpkin-shaped cookies for reference. You might be tempted to think I screw these up on purpose to make it seem funnier. I assure you I do not. Every time I step foot in the kitchen, I blow it up — heap piles of dirty dishes, flour in weird nooks of the oven, greasy residue left on every surface — I would not do this willingly if I wasn’t also trying my hardest.

IMG_0488

But look, this only has four directions. This is going to be one of my easy ones. The first step is basically wash your hands. Donezo. Three steps left.

And look, the marshmallows and rice cereal are already measured out in individual bags for me. All I pretty much had to do was melt butter. I had this thing down to two steps.

I had this thing in the fricking bag, even if I felt a little leery that the pumpkin mold shaper thingy was just a crappy piece of plastic:

IMG_0489

But first things first. Melting butter. I opened the fridge, pulled out the butter, and discovered the stick had precisely two tablespoons left. I didn’t even have to measure it. I’m a God right now.

Well, except I almost melted it in a skillet first. Skillets are not the same as sauce pans. Crisis averted, thanks to the wife’s keen eye. Phew.

I melted my butter and added my marshmallows in the sauce pan.

IMG_0494

Things were going along swimmingly. That’s the word I thought of as I did this. Swimmingly. What a nice word. I’m going to use that tomorrow when I write about this. For everyone expecting me to have created some marshmallow horror lump by now: NOPE. I got this.

But if you can’t tell, every step is tense for me. Butter, adding marshmallows, stirring: it’s all really stressful because I want it to be exceedingly perfect.

IMG_0495

Still, I continued to ace it. I fully melted the marshmallows, careful not to overheat or burn them. I stirred in the food coloring and it turned a delightful shade of orange. Nevermind that I almost forgot to add the coloring, almost adding the rice cereal first. That would have been a crisis.

But no. Swimmingly.

So next I mixed in the rice, and it all mixed together perfectly and evenly. No wonder college kids can do this. This is nothing. I waited five minutes for it to cool, and then it was finally time to start molding them with that crappy plastic thing.

I studied the directions. It said to coat my hands in butter, oil, or cooking spray. Disgusting. I decided to skip it. I’d use a spatula.

Except melted marshmallow is possibly the stickiest substance on earth. I tried to be polite about it, using the rubber spatula to spoon the mixture into the molds. Next thing I knew, something was stuck to something. I got marshmallow crap stuck to my hands, dropped the spatula on the floor, and then had to fend off the dog with my feet, who came charging like a wildebeest towards the dropped spatula.

CUT. Start over. DOG GET OUT OF HERE. Breathe. Alright, let me look at that direction again. Cooking spray it is. Now my hands are disgusting and greasy, but it’s seriously magical how it stops things from sticking. If you read back through all of my baking experiment posts, you will probably find a paragraph where I am just in utter awe of how cooking spray solves all of the problems. It’s amazing.

However, the plastic mold was as crappy and stupid as expected. Things went along swimmingly until just then, when I finally crashed into a log, flipped the boat, and fell over the waterfall to my death.

IMG_0497

These don’t look like pumpkins. They look like day-glo hamburgers. I hate myself.

I really hate myself.

IMG_0505

The one in the middle is me. It’s a self-portrait of how I feel about this.

But they taste exactly like they should, even if red food dye sort of makes my tongue feel numb and makes me go ADHD. (I’m certain I have an allergy to it, but I won’t give up NEON FOOOOOOOOOODS.) Also I learned an important life lesson: that I can add Rice Krispies treats to my menu repertoire. Move over, Ramen noodles.

Halloween Countdown: I Have Too Many Latex Eyeballs

IMG_0475

I have too many latex eyeballs. This happened innocently enough. Was at the thrift store, saw a big bag of latex eyeballs in rubbery puddles of blood for sale. Did not think twice. Needed them. Bought them. Got home and golly gee, I ALREADY HAD SOME. (The smaller ones.) My old latex eyeballs were dollar store ones though. These new ones are clearly an upgrade.

Here’s my “Halloween Mood Table” for the year:

IMG_0471

A Halloween Mood Table is an idea I stole from another blog a long time ago and I strongly encourage you to steal it from mine. Basically you take a table in your living room, pile it up with anything Halloween-related you can find, and it’s like a Halloween-version of a Christmas tree. I love decorating my mood table every year, and it has become a legit tradition in our house.

New additions for 2013:

IMG_0474

I found an 80s Ben Cooper plastic smock/hobo costume recently. I’m pretending it’s a) a headless trick-or-treater b) an invisible trick-or-treater c) all of the above.

Then I also found this thing:

IMG_0477

It’s from 1992 and looks mostly unremarkable until you see the face:

IMG_0480

Yep, it’s got a day-glo smiling face with green fangs. SOLD.

Other Halloween happenings: We watched this movie Mama. Creepy-ass kids in movies are always a guarantee of a spooky movie. The wife screamed aloud at several points and scared the dog. I liked 85% of it but thought the ending was beyond stupid. They tried to end it too fancy, too thoughtfully. I like my endings predictable and cliched. It’s a freaking horror movie. They’re supposed to end the way you expect them to.

We also tried VHS, another found-footage movie. Got about thirty minutes into it, but hated it and turned it off. Gruesome for no reason, without artfulness. Humorless. Weird, annoying rapey characters. No one to root for or care about. The plot of the movie one big device.

Also, this snack is ruling my life so hard right now:

IMG_0481

Five words: pumpkin and bat-shaped pretzels.

Halloween Countdown: Monster Fruit Roll-Ups

IMG_0469

These have existed for the last few Halloweens, but this is my first year dipping my toes in the pool. I used to be a fruit-roll up connoisseur as a kid. At one point, I considered them my favorite thing in the world. Fruit snacks, gummy bears, and fruits-by-the-foots (I’m sure that’s the proper plural) came and went, but my heart always belonged to Fruit Roll-Ups.

And man, I could turn a Fruit Roll-Up into a thirty minute affair. I used to take my time with it. I used to savor the thing, peeling away tiny strips of it and letting them flourish like rosebuds on my tongue. These days I just don’t have the same zest for it; I just wad it up and shove the whole thing in my mouth, which is, in itself an art form.

These things are made from actual pears and they’re gluten-free. In fact, if the wife wasn’t steaming broccoli to go along with dinner, these would probably be the healthiest thing I ate all day.

Neither one of these resemble the cereal flavor very much, and I’m certain they’re tied-in in name only. Pretty sure these are the standard strawberry and blue razzspazzmatazz (or whatever the kids are calling it these days) flavors in any other season.

Still, much like the cereal, the FrankenBerry flavor wins hands down. The BooBerry flavor sort of sucks, but it’s blue, and I’m not going to complain.

Missed opportunities: where is the Count Chocula Fruit Roll-Up? I don’t remember it personally, but the Internet says there was once a chocolate version of Fruit Roll-Ups.

Also made by Betty Crocker, it was the “Pudding Roll-Up:”

tumblr_lg416uCZju1qb3mmfo1_500

One site describes them as a “filmy, congealed sheet of milk chocolate,” which I am going to dream of eating every night for the rest of my life until it comes true.

Executives at Betty Crocker: please bring this back. Yes, it grossed people out and failed the first time, but I guarantee you there is a generation of weird adults who have misplaced nostalgia for filmy chocolate.

Halloween Countdown: Finally Found Ghoul-Aid Jammers

IMG_0462

FINALLY.

I’ve been looking for these EVERYWHERE. Alright, it’s true, I haven’t. I hoped I would just magically run into them at some point during October, and I finally did last night in Wal-Mart. For all the bashing Wal-Marts get, they’re usually worth having around in Octobers when your crappy local Food Lion fails you.

Scary Blackberry Kool-Aid aka Ghoul-Aid aka The Nectar of the Gods is Kool-Aid’s seasonal October flavor. It was legendary in the 1980s, and then it disappeared for a long time (approximately 6 million years) before finally making its long-awaited return to the shelves a few years ago. 2013 marks for the first year it’s available in Jammer format. This is monumental because—I actually have no idea. But if I was eight, I would know the answer.

Nevermind, I do know the answer. Juice pouches rule. Poking that little yellow straw in that impossibly tiny foil hole rocks. It rocks. It’s a simple pleasure in life, right up there next to using that little red stick that comes in Handi-snacks. And if you don’t remember these pleasures, then you grew up, and I’m sorry.

Dude, if they ever make this in those plastic bottles, Bursts, my head will explode from excitement. But for now, Jammers will have to do.

IMG_0463

See? 100% Vitamin C. It means you will never get scurvy if you drink these. It means it basically counts as a vegetable, will stave off the flu, and help you dream in more vivid technicolor.

I was so excited to break into this box of Ghoul-Aid that I failed to notice the box had a very special feature:

IMG_0464

FRIDGE READY PACK. Too bad I just ripped and clawed at the box like a Velociraptor. In fact, a Velociraptor would be far more precision at opening this than I did. Anyway, it doesn’t matter because I don’t drink soft drinks cold. I only like them at room temperature, which disturbs everyone I know, except for the wife, who for some reason just accepts this and has taken to drinking room temp soda as well. We’re not the only ones, right?

Anyway, back to Ghoul-Aid, aka The Official Drink of Halloween aka Miracle Water aka GIVE ME A STRAIGHT UP IV OF THIS STUFF.

As the Kool-Aid Man would say OH YEEEEEAAAAHHHH. Life is good.

HALLOWEEN COUNTDOWN: REGRETS

20131004_192430

So at the end of last week I posted my guilt-free Halloween list. Now I will list the things that fill me with endless sadness—of which there really is just one. Trick-or-treat Pepperoni exists, and I’m a vegetarian.

I almost bought it anyway. I mean, holy crap, I could give out CURED PORK to children on Halloween! In individual trick-or-treat-sized bags! Little fun packages of MEAT!

Let’s circle back again. Trick or treat pepperoni EXISTS. Is this weird or is it normal?

Okay, let’s go forward again. Cured pork to trick-or-treaters. Cured pork and sometimes beef. Sometimes both. Sometimes entrails.

I just keeping turning it over and over and over in my head, and it doesn’t stop being so awesome. I wish I could eat this. I don’t miss eating meat, but I would probably put an asterisk next to pepperoni.

So over the weekend, we went to NYC for a wedding. I’ve been there multiple times before, so I’m not exactly on the picture-taking and souvenir-buying spin-cycle that I used to get on during visits. In fact, this time, I took precisely ONE picture and bought ONE object.

Here is my ONE picture:

20131019_110943

I regret not having time to go to this place. I don’t care if it’s corny as hell and filled only with tourists from Indiana. I don’t care if it’s gross, expensive, and smells like mold and fried food. In fact, I hope it smells like mold and fried food, because that is the only acceptable way for this place to smell. People, it’s called the Slaughtered Lamb. It can do nothing wrong.

This is from an actual one-star Yelp review:

“The back area is where it gets weird. There’s some decrepit fake skeletons display and a weird rotating display of a werewolf attacking a woman.”

That sounds amazing. That sounds worth five starts right there. What is wrong with people?

And here is my ONE souvenir:

IMG_0444

What is a solar dried banana? I mean, besides exactly what it sounds like. What is it? These things are probably sold in the check-out area of every Whole Foods across America, but whatever, it was my first time encountering a solar dried banana, whatever the hell that is.

Well, I found out.

IMG_0446

A solar-dried banana is a disgusting-looking flattened banana that smells like gym socks. The word “dried” is a misnomer because it is kind of sticky and wet. Upon opening it, I was so revolted by the smell that I IMMEDIATELY REGRETTED IT.

But I didn’t stop there. I also ate it. While nothing violent occurred in my stomach to make me regret it, instead I just had a weird uneasiness for the rest of the day. A worry that something traceable to that wack banana might happen. It didn’t even taste like a banana. It tasted like licorice. I still don’t know what this thing is.

I wish I ate trick-or-treat pepperoni instead.

Halloween Countdown: NO REGRETS

IMG_0386

Paid five dollars for this and NO REGRETS WERE HAD. Of course, the wife threatened to turn her into a pumpkin pie. That’s just cruel.

Let’s see. So far our Halloween events calendar (it’s a real thing) has been kind of stark. There was tornadohurricaineapocalypse weather all last week, so we didn’t really hit up our fall joints like the pumpkin patches and corn mazes and fall festivals.

We watched Paranormal Activity 4 one of the nights. For some reason, I really like these movies, even though I hate myself for it. See my previous post for love of found footage movies, even if these should have gone direct-to-video some time ago. Yeah, I just used the word video. Video just seems the only proper format/lingo for horror movies.

But you know what? The Paranormal Activity movies are actually kind of good. They’ve all been made with a certain sincerity and haven’t fucked with the formula that made the first one entertaining. I always go into it thinking each new film is going to be the one where the thinly-stretched plot lines finally start to snap, but they’ve all held up for me. What is considered to be the greatest horror movie ever made? I probably haven’t seen it. But I’ve seen all four Paranormal Activity movies. NO REGRETS WERE HAD.

Other not-regretful activity:

- I decorated the house with my annual Halloween get-up, which basically involves three entire bags of cotton-stretchy cob web stretched across the front of the porch. Yes, three entire bags.

- Ate an entire bag of fun-sized chocolates in a week.

- I found this for a dollar at the thrift store and bought it instantly:

IMG_0434

You have to admit this is amazing. I love that it still has the original toy store tag on it. (Lionel Kiddie City, $5.99) It’s from 1992.

Obviously these figures were quick Halloween cash grabs tied in with the hugely popular Monster In My Pocket toys. Each “Howler” includes SCARY MONSTROUS SOUNDS. Allow me to demonstrate in this hastily-made blurry video:


NO REGRETS. Taking a long weekend, so the Halloween Countdown is taking a day off tomorrow. See you Monday.

Halloween Countdown: WNUF Halloween Special

wnuf-halloween-special

Exciting news. The infamous and long-lost public-access television WNUF Halloween Special footage has recently re-surfaced. In 1987, local television personality Frank Stewart lead a group of paranormal investigators into the supposedly haunted Webber House, trying to prove the existence of the demonic entities within. The show was a microcosm of everything nostalgic, terrifying, corny, and awesome that was Halloween in the 1980s.

Except it didn’t really happen. WNUF Halloween Special is fictional found-footage film that is being released this October. I don’t personally know the makers of this film, but they’re from Baltimore, and I kept seeing mentions of it pop up on my Facebook feed. Since I love found footage movies, the 1980s, and cheesy Halloween stuff—and I know everyone reading this does as well—I messaged the director asking if I could review the film. He obliged, and it may have changed my stupid life.

I’m serious people, you need to see this. It will become a part of your annual Halloween tradition viewing for the rest of your lives. It clocks in around ninety minutes long and operates solely and exactly as a 1987 Halloween special on some random public access channel taped off of television would have looked. It’s complete with re-created commercials, tape distortion, the news anchors fuddling through featherweight human interest stories, and the Webber House investigation.

The trailer:




Skeptics, I admit I went into this movie expecting the worst. I thought it might be too clever, its references too cute and winking. I worried the found footage on VHS gimmick would not sustain a ninety-minute film. Instead I was floored by what a visual and mindful treat this was the entire way through. I didn’t want it to end. It’s well-paced, smart, and subtle.

The re-created commercials are spot-on. I felt as though I had previously seen every single one of them in another life. There was not a single false note. During one of the commercials, the wife randomly announced, “I miss floppy disks.” It felt exactly like watching an old VHS tape of some crappy special you taped long ago, stirring up all of your weird, old nostalgia. It was also laugh-out-loud funny in parts.

I read a review on another blog saying the movie didn’t “work as a film,” but I disagree. It has the loose, gangly plot of a television news special—a sleepy thing you’re watching at 3am and want to fall asleep, but can’t because you want to see what’s going to happen to these dumb reporters in the haunted house. It’s compelling enough at that, but there is also the dual storyline of your own nostalgia, just wondering what you’ll remember next on this tape. And you’ll remember all of it—even though it is completely made up.

Local people — there’s a screening of it this Friday the 18th at the Creative Alliance. Go see it, you’ll dig it.
http://www.creativealliance.org/events/2013/wnuf-halloween-special

Everyone else. Order it here. It’s available on VHS and DVD on the 22nd. Trust me.
Alternative Cinema