Tag Archive | Halloween

Looking forward to/hoping for some trick or treaters…

Squad ghoulsThis is our second Halloween in the new place. Last year we didn’t get any trick or treaters at all, but then last year there were only two other places in addition to ours with any Halloween decorations up, so I suspect our apartment building didn’t look like it was worth stopping at. Several more of our neighbors have lights and jack o’lanterns and such visible, so maybe we will get some this year. The magical-thinker in me also points out that we bought less candy this year than last, so maybe that will cause us to get swamped. We can hope. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

I had planned several more blog posts last week and this week leading up to this, my second favorite holiday, but things have been really weirdly busy. It also feels as if fewer people are doing Halloween stuff. I thought maybe I was just being busy and distracting, but I saw a few posts floating around tumblr where a lot of people were feeling as if there is a lot less Halloween enthusiasm in their social circles, and so forth. A few posts specifically noted that the silly Pumpkin Dance video had not showed up in their social media stream. Which made me realize I hadn’t seen it being posted and shared, either.

I’m planning to stay up a bit after midnight to make at least a symbolic start on NaNoWriMo (since I have to get up and go to work in the morning). Usually long before this we discuss what spooky movies we’re going to watch while hoping for trick-or-treaters. Last year was watched Hocus Pocus and Witches of Eastwick.

It’s been a number of years since we watched Ghost and Mr. Chicken and I can’t remember when we last watched Elvira, Mistress of the Dark; for that matter, I can’t remember how many years it’s been since we watched any of the classic Universal monsters, such as the 1931 Frankenstein, and we have all of those in the collected. On the other hand, I should look through our movie database and see if there is anything spooky that we’ve bought in the last couple of years. I don’t know. Our usual Halloween fair isn’t slasher movies and the like, and tends toward comedies… and this year I’m feeling much more like a good laugh than typical. I suspect we all know why that is…

Anyway, I hope you have wonder Eve of All Hallows!

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What’s spooky for me may not be spooky for you

“If you've got it, Haunt it!”

(click to embiggen)

Many years ago the gaming group I was in rotated who was running the game and which system/world we were playing in, and most of us gave our scenarios titles, which sometimes we told the players in advance. One time I had titled a sci-fi adventure where the players eventually found themselves in a dark, twisty location being pursued by something which they weren’t sure what the something was, just that it had killed some other people, “Welcome to Your Standard Nightmare.” I didn’t mention the title up front, it was after we were finished that I identified the scenario, and suddenly we were having a debate on what, really, a standard (or universal) nightmare ought to be.

I was reminded of this incident by two different events recently. First, after a few weeks of working on my Halloween playlist, I took a dip into a couple of music streaming services to see what they were serving up on various Halloween channels. The other was a series of disturbing dreams I had in the wee small hours of a recent morning.

Quick digression: the psychological definition of a nightmare is an unpleasant dream evoking an emotional response which disturbs the sleep cycle. It doesn’t necessarily have to be scary to be a nightmare as far as psychologists are concerned, but it does have to actually make you wake up to qualify as a nightmare. So while colloquially we usually think of nightmares as bad dreams, usually invoking fear or despair, other kinds of emotions can be involved.

So, I’ve more than once had a nightmare where I woke up extremely angry. And that was very disturbing, especially during those initial moments of waking up where you don’t quite realize it was only a dream. I had a new one, this time, I woke up extremely annoyed. Three times in one night. The first two didn’t really have any element most people would think of a spooky: I was trying to set up some sound equipment for some kind of party or concert, and someone kept moving my toolbox full of patch cables. There were a number of people in the dream, most of whom I haven’t seen in person in many years. And they were all being uncharacteristically unhelpful. The second one involved someone I didn’t recognize who kept trying to make me go to this place I also didn’t recognize and pack up things that had been left behind by someone. Oddly, once I gave in, I recognized all of the blankets and towels (which were only a subset of the items) as ones that had belonged to my family when I was a child and a teen-ager. The third one was like a combination: I was walking somewhere intending to retrieve something I needed, and I noticed an open door of an apartment, I think, and inside I saw scattered around clothes that belong to me. When I was checking out the place and gathering things, people kept wandering in to try to take stuff from me—and they people each had these weird glowing eyes and I was absolutely convinced that they were undead or something similar.

Even then, when I woke up, I wasn’t feeling fear, but extreme annoyance that I had to deal with weird creatures and someone stealing my clothes when I really just wanted to go get the thing—whatever it was—that I had started out looking for. (And no, I don’t need any dream analysis. My subconscious is never subtle. I know what I’m feeling anxiety about right now.)

The thing was, even though my feeling at each awakening was annoyance—neither anger nor fear—there were still moments while I was waking up where I felt that disturbing confusion about what was real and what wasn’t. Which is its own kind of spooky.

Many Halloween playlists I see on various streaming services or that people post often contain songs that I don’t think are spooky at all. Many seem to be chosen because the title of the song has a tenuous connection to some spooky concepts, while the lyrics of the song are often just standard pop fare.
I happen to believe that a Halloween playlist should consist of tracks where the content of the track has some connection to ideas, moods, et cetera, that people associate with Halloween, trick or treating, monsters, and so forth. I make exceptions for instrumental tracks from movies and such that I personally find spooky. I realize that most of those don’t seem spooky if you don’t recognize where they are from (but some are very eery and really set a spooky mood even when you don’t recognize their source). Anyway, here is my 2018 Halloween playlist:

1. “It’s alive!” From the Young Frankenstein soundtrack. This isn’t a song, it’s the dialog for one of the funniest scenes in the movie, when Dr Frahnk-in-steen finds out that he put an abnormal brain in the body of his creation.
2. “Monster Mash” A blue grass cover of the classic Halloween song by a band called Hayseed Dixie. It’s quite fun.
3. “Science Fiction Double Feature” From the Rocky Horror Picture Show, the campy lyrics describe several classic sci fi thriller movies.
4. “The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun” by Julie Brown. “Everybody run! The Homecoming Queen’s got a gun!” and “…it’s like the whole school was totally coked or something!”
5. “Anything Can Happen On Halloween” by Tim Curry from the movie The Worse Witch. A fun song.
6. “Thriller” by Michael Jackson (with narration in the middle by Vincent Price). A classic for Halloween. And you can dance to it!
7. “GhostBusters (I’m Not Afraid” by Fallout Boy. An interesting cover/re-imagining of the original Ghostbusters them recorded for the new GhostBusters movie.
8. “Rest in Peace” from Once More, With Feeling, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode. “Whisper in a dead man’s ear doesn’t make it real.”
9. “Bad Moon Rising” by Mourning Ritual. A very creepy re-imagining of the old Creedence Clearwater Revival hit that I first heard in one of the spookiest, creepiest episodes of the Teen Wolf TV series. I can’t hear this song without reliving the scenes where Void Stiles was doing various horrific things.
10. “Monster Mash (featuring Black Magic” by Halloween FX Productions. A cute cover of the Halloween classic.
11. “Mean Green Mother from Outer Space” from Little Shop of Horrors just fun!
12. “Haunted Honeymoon Main Title” by John Morris. A spooky instrumental from one of my favorite comedies ever. Gene Wilder, Gilda Radner, and Dom DeLuis in a hilarious send-up of 30s mystery radio shows and spooky forties movies.
13. “Teen Wolf Main Theme” by Dino Meneghin & Bloody Beetroots. The theme for the Teen Wolf series is just some really dramatic music.
14. “Theme from the Ghost and Mr. Chicken” – if you aren’t familiar with this comedy send up of various Hitchcock-esque movie tropes starring Don Knotts, you really need to Netflix it or something. And the organ music is suitably spooky and silly, at the same time.
15. “”Scooby Doo, Where Are You?” Yes, the theme song from the original cartoon series.
16. “Dark Shadows” the original eerie, spooky, haunting theme song from the ’60s gothic horror soap opera.
17. “Funeral March of a Marionette” an orchestral piece which was used as the theme for the old Alfred Hitchcock show.
18. “The Munster’s Theme” by Jack Marshall. A tiki-fied cover of the them song for the 1960s horror comedy series.
19. “Mamushka” by Raul Julia and Marc Shaiman. The silly show-stopper song from the theatrical Addams Family movie.
20. “Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers. The original, classic Halloween Novelty song.

It’s the second most wonderful time of the year!

“Live is sweet, be not too shy!”

“Live is sweet, be not too shy!”

I love Halloween a lot, as I’ve mentioned before. I love handing out candy. I love seeing people in costumes. I love all the spooky stuff. My favorite Halloween movies are either the classic black & white universal films or the more comedic ones (Ghost and Mr. Chicken. Hocus Pocus, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Haunted Honeymoon, Young Frankenstein to name a few…).

We have our usual boxes of full size candy bars (my husband’s motto for the season is: “Fun sized isn’t!”). We have picked a couple of movies to watch tonight (Hocus Pocus and Witches of Eastwick). I have some pumpkin spice drinks ready. It will be a night of spooky fun!

I hope yours is a great, spooky All Hallow’s Eve as well!

Donald Duck: Trick Or Treat Folks ☻1952 Halloween Cartoon:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

What’s not to love about Halloween?

“I love Halloween. I can't wait for that time when the leaves fall, weather is colder, the sun is bright, the decorations are up, scary movies are on, and the hot chocolate is out!”

“I love Halloween. I can’t wait for that time when the leaves fall, weather is colder, the sun is bright, the decorations are up, scary movies are on, and the hot chocolate is out!”

I’ve written a few times before about my love of Halloween and my fondness for a certain type of spooky movie. Some years I have done elaborate decorating for the holiday. I often spend time planning a costume to wear to any Halloween party we might be attending. I always spend at least part of the month of October listening to what I consider Halloween music while planning what kind of movies I might watch on the actual night. And then, of course, there is trying to decide how much candy we will need to hand out that night1.

My love for Halloween began long before I knew that it used to be considered the high holy days of queers everywhere. Which was true at least since the 1920s until the straights co-opted it for Heteroween2. But I recognize that at least some of the reasons I loved Halloween back then are the same reason the holiday appealed to queer people for so long:

  • it was a day I could dress up as silly or weird as I wished without getting strange looks from people;
  • it was a day where other people would show off bits of their personality that weren’t obvious the rest of the year;
  • being closeted cultivated an ability to find humor in the absurdities and misfortunes of life;
  • trying to get along as a queer child in a straight world means that embracing make-believe and pretending to be what we aren’t a survival trait;

…which fits right in with Halloween!

Of course, when I say I could dress as silly as I wished, that wasn’t entirely true. I remember, for instance, the year that I really wanted to dress up as the character of Witchie-Poo from the Saturday morning live action show, H.R. Pufnstuf. Mom didn’t act appalled, but she argued with me until I gave in and let her buy me the really tacky H.R. Pufnstuf costume. Pufnstuf was supposed to be a dragon who was the Mayor of the enchanted island where the show’s action took place, but the store-bought costume was just a weird shaped green mask and a generic green onesie that had a picture of the character printed on the chest. My sister mentioned that I had wanted to dress up as Witchie-Poo within earshot of my dad and I got yelled at quite seriously about how boys don’t dress up as witches!

It wasn’t even that the character of Witchie-Poo appealed to me that much3. My recollection is that the store-bought costume for her had a magic wand prop, and I really wanted the magic wand. Of course, she was the villain of the show and I quite frequently find myself sympathizing with the villains.

Our friends that have been hosting a Halloween party almost every year for about 30 years are skipping this year. So I don’t think either of us will be making a costume. And although they gave us plenty of warning that we could have opted to host our own party, all of the years of going to their themed and wonderfully decorated parties casts a more-than-slightly intimidating shadow over the notion.

Maybe we’ll just try to get together with some people on the Saturday before.

But I have been working on my new Halloween playlist. I spent a lot of the last week listening to every single Halloween playlist I have made in the past4 as I decide what kind of list to put together this year. I have one assembled, I just haven’t decided if it is finished or still needs some tweaking.

Whether there is a party of not, or any dressing up, I still intend to enjoy myself, getting my spook on in various ways for the rest of the month.

Let’s have fun!


Footnotes:

1. My husband and I don’t believe in handing out so-called “fun size” candy. We usually get a few cases of full sized bars in hopes that we will get lots of kids.

2. But that’s okay. Straights need a socially sanctioned night to dress up as sexy nurses or sexy firemen. They’re so reppressed the rest of the year!

3. I mean, I thought she was hilarious, but…

4. Fifteen such lists in my iTunes library, by the way.

I’d rather be talking about Tricks and Treats!

Michael as a Social Justice Fighter (click to embiggen).

Michael as a Social Justice Fighter (click to embiggen).

It’s Halloween. We attended our friends’ annual Halloween Party on Saturday. Michael and I had a lot of fun over the last couple months planning and assembling our costumes. I went as a Social Justice Necromancer, “Fighting the patriarchy from beyond the grave.” Michael was a Social Justice Fighter, “We’re looking for a Rogue and a Cleric. Someone told us the party was here?” And many other people were there with fabulous costumes. There were games, a piñata-type activity involving a trebuchet, and lots and lots of puns.

Our plans for this evening are to do the usual handing out of candy while we watch some spooky movies. The movie plans are Young Frankenstein and The Three Stooges in Orbit. I usually pick out three movies, but Michael never stays awake for the third. And at midnight I’m supposed to start NaNoWriMo (even if I can’t stay up very far past midnight, since it is a work night), so we’ll probably stick with just the two. We’ll see. It’s not as if it’s very difficult to pick another movie out of the 970-or-so that my hubby has uploaded into our digital library from our vast disc collection…

Myself as a Social Justice Necromancer. You can't see the purple tassel from from hat, nor that I'm wearing 6-inch platform pumps. The bird was not one of my props, it was a party decoration, but everyone wanted me to pose with it. (Click to embiggen)

Myself as a Social Justice Necromancer. You can’t see the purple tassel from from hat, nor that I’m wearing 6-inch platform pumps. The bird was not one of my props, it was a party decoration, but everyone wanted me to pose with it. (Click to embiggen)

Because of the weirdness happening with our building being sold, we had been asked not to do some of the outdoor decorations that we usually do this time of year. This has had a dampening effect on my mood, so I haven’t even put the plastic light-up jack-o-lanterns in the windows, let alone any other decorations. I need to shake the funk soon–at least before Christmas decorating time!

I hope we get a few more trick-or-treaters than last year. I realize I’ll increase the odds if I manage to get at least some decorations up before sundown. I’m currently planning to slip out of the office early to make sure I’m home before then, so there is still hope. Some years we get a lot, but usually it’s a few handfuls. One of the problems is that a lot of other folks on our street don’t do the candy thing and/or their houses have no decorations so our whole block often looks gloomy and deserted.

Though truthfully, as long as we get more than we did the year a neighbor parked a huge U-Haul truck in front of our place and spent the evening trying to get moved out of their apartment (we got exactly one person – my godchild, who doesn’t live in the neighborhood, but would be brought to our place and to the homes of some relatives of their other godparent who lives nearby).

I love handing out the full size candy bars. And I love seeing kids in costumes. Especially the younger ones who get so, so excited when I kneel down and hold out the bowl packed with big candy bars! As my husband likes to say, “Fun size isn’t!”

Anyway, if you celebrate Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, or the Day of the Dead, I hope that it is a great holiday for you. And if you’re feeling a little down, enjoy this clip from the Woodland Park Zoo of an otter and a jack-o-lantern:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Friday Links (spooky season edition)

“Gravity is rigged” © Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune.

“Gravity is rigged” © Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune.

It’s a Friday! And it’s the final Friday in October! Halloween is only days away!

This week was better at work. Still scrambling toward crazy deadlines. At home, still trying to wrap things up before NaNoWriMo starts.

Anyway, here are links to some of the interesting things I read on the web this week, sorted into various topic areas.

Links of the Week

Deodorant Ad Perfectly Nails What’s Wrong With The Trans Bathroom Debate.

Kickstarted in the Butt: A Chuck Tingle Digital Adventure.

This week in white privilege

Bundy Brothers Acquitted in Takeover of Oregon Wildlife Refuge.

This Week in Difficult to Classify

Ballot selfies: A look at where they are allowed or not. Bet you didn’t know that it’s illegal to take a picture of your ballot in some states…

This week in awful news

As Standing Rock Protesters Face Down Armored Trucks, the World Watches on Facebook.

Developing: 100+ Militarized Police Raiding #NoDAPL Resistance Camp Blocking Pipeline’s Path.

This week in evil people

Former WikiLeaks Employee James Ball Describes Working With Julian Assange.

News for queers and our allies:

Ex-gospel singer drags black Christians in song who shame him for being gay.

Why ‘LGBTQ’ Will Replace ‘LGBT’.

Most football fans would have ‘no problem’ with gay players – but 8% would.

This 93-year-old gay man powerfully explains why he doesn’t want a pardon from the U.K. government. A pardon implies it was a crime that needs forgiving, whereas the crime was that the original laws against being gay existed at all.

Politicizing Homophobia: How Director Otto Preminger Challenged Hollywood—Then and Now.

Remembering Jerry Smith, a gay NFL star who never got his due.

Loving the Whole Me: A Bisexual Mom on Coming Out to Her Family.

Gibraltar unanimously legalizes marriage equality.

Orlando Magic honors victims of Pulse Orlando terror attack.

Science!

Gene Study Clears ‘Patient Zero’ As Cause Of U.S. HIV Epidemic. Scientists have long suspected that HIV had been circulating in the U.S. for a decade before the first few AIDS cases were identified in Los Angeles 1981.

Physicists Beat Yet Another Challenge To Dark Matter’s Existence.

Six contractors have begun work on NASA’s gateway to deep space.

Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculation!

Larry Niven’s Ringworld: A Sexist Sci-Fi “Classic”.

Connie Willis: Open Channel.

This week in Writing

The Election and Productivity.

Almost November again, and that means it’s NaNoWriMo time!

IF WOMEN WROTE MEN THE WAY MEN WRITE WOMEN.

7 Things You Need to Know About Plotting and Editing.

This Week in Tech

Chinese IoT device manufacturer recalls products amidst mass DDoS attacks.

This Week in Inclusion

Escapism & Representation.

MARLON JAMES: WHY I’M DONE TALKING ABOUT DIVERSITY.

Culture war news:

Democrats Draw Line Over LGBT Provision in Defense Authorization Bill.

Voter Suppression Is a Much Bigger Problem Than Voter Fraud.

Support of Trump exposes ugliness, hypocrisy of religious right.

Trump’s popularity with evangelicals is a disaster for the religious right.

A Lawsuit Challenges Utah’s Ban on Students and Teachers Saying Nice Things About Gay People.

Church drops lawsuit on transgender bathroom issue.

The Mormon church has a new campaign for LGBTQ acceptance—but it’s still insanely homophobic.

LifeWay pulls Hatmaker books over LGBT views of the author. For some christians, dehumanizing LGBT people is more important than loving us.

This Week Regarding the Lying Liar:

Donald Trump ‘crossed a line,’ made Al Smith dinner ‘uncomfortable,’ namesake’s great-great-grandson says.

WHY DONALD TRUMP HAS NEVER WON A LIBEL CASE.

Man waving “Blacks for Trump” sign at rallies is former member of violent cult.

Many Trump Supporters Want Trump TV — But Don’t Want To Pay For It.

This week in Politics:

Jill Stein Blames John Oliver for Declining Donations, Continues to Double Down on Dangerous Ideas.

Defense Secretary Orders Suspension of Attempts to Recoup Bonuses From Veterans.

Sanders is prepared to be a liberal thorn in Clinton’s side.

anders raises $2.4 million on Ryan’s budget panel warning.

Attempting To Woo Latino Voters, Marco Rubio Gets Booed At Orlando Festival.

Why Do So Many People Hate Hillary? Meet Your Press.

Rep. Ellison calls for DOJ to investigate Joe Walsh tweet.

Chris Christie’s epic collapse.

This Week in Racism

Meet the Dapper White Nationalist Who Wins Even if Trump Loses.

This Week in Internalized Homophobia

“STRAIGHT ACTING” GAY MEN ARE 37% MORE LIKELY TO BELIEVE FEMININE GAYS GIVE THE COMMUNITY A BAD NAME, STUDY FINDS.

This Week in Hate Crimes

White high schoolers in Miss. put noose around black student’s neck and ‘yanked,’ NAACP says.

Farewells:

RIP, Sheri Tepper.

Sci-Fi and Mystery Author Sheri S. Tepper, 1929-2016.

Sheri S. Tepper (1929-2016).

Pete Burns, frontman of Dead Or Alive, dies aged 57.

Dead or Alive singer Pete Burns dies at 57.

In Unmourned Departures:

R.I.P. Jack Chick, comics scaremonger.

Dead To Rights: Based on characters created by Jack T. Chick.

Things I wrote:

Oppressed oppressors: make America great like it was before The Homosexuals….

Why I hate hay fever reason #6312.

Stay Sane Inside Insanity – more of why I love sf/f.

Videos!

Hallelujah – Pentatonix:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Eli Lieb acoustic cover of Britney Spears’ Make Me:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Sweet Transvestite as performed on September 17th 2015 in the Playhouse Theatre, London, with David Badella as Frank N Furter:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

I Put A Spell On You – Bette Midler – Hocus Pocus :

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Friday Links (leopard and cub edition)

A still from a World Wildlife Fund hidden camera. © World Wildlife Fund (Click to embiggen)

A still from a World Wildlife Fund hidden camera. © World Wildlife Fund (Click to embiggen)

It’s already the fourth Friday October!? It’s the month of pumpkins and falling leaves and spooks and costumes! It is also Gay History Month

And tomorrow night is HALLOWEEN!!!

Once again, I’m really, really, really glad that the weekend is upon us! Between throwing my back out last weekend and crazy deadlines converging at work, I’m wrung out!

Anyway, here is a collection of some of the things that I ran across over the course of the week which struck me as worthy of being shared. Sorted into categories with headings so you can skip more easily:

Link of the Week

Elusive Himalayan snow leopard and cub inspect camera.

This Week in Shaken, Not Stirred

The Economist quantifies the 24 James Bond movies: everything from box office results to martinis consumed.

This Week in Diversity

“Where are you really from?”.

A is for (A)sexual – What my identity means to me, and the 6 questions about asexuality I get asked the most often.

What the row over banning Germaine Greer is really about.

GLAAD Report: LGBT Representation on TV Is Up, But Still Very White.

Funny Is Funny: Homophobia, Misogyny and the Lack of Diversity in Comedy.

This week in People Doing Good Things

HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS SERVE AS PALLBEARERS FOR HOMELESS VETERANS WITHOUT LOVED ONES. (Thanks to Foxraven for the link)

Dateless, Singled Out, And Not Taking It Anymore.

A D.C. cop tried to break up a group of teens. It ended in this impressive dance-off.

This week in Topics Most People Can’t Be Rational About

The Concealed-Carry Fantasy.

This week in Difficult to Classify

A true 12’s response to a fair-weather Seattle Seahawks fan – ‘We don’t need you’.

4 Things They Didn’t Teach You in Sex Ed.

Library Board Votes Against New Logo and Name Change. Here’s What Happened at the Board Meeting.

This week in Evil Greedy People

How an industry of ‘Amazon entrepreneurs’ pulled off the Internet’s craftiest catfishing scheme.

Cracked! American Egg Board CEO Resigns Over Eggless Mayo Scandal.

Happy News!

In October at least, America runs on pumpkin.

Science!

Watch this video: On a dry lakebed in Nevada, a group of friends build the first scale model of the solar system with complete planetary orbits: a true illustration of our place in the universe.

Snow leopards rebounding in Afghanistan amid concerns the species are verge of extinction.

Drug engineered from bananas shows promise in fighting deadly viruses.

The Science of Denial.

Agriculture was independently invented at least 11 times on four continents – not just in the Middle East. It’s time to rethink how modern civilisation took root.

And now the Pluto family portrait is complete.

Puget Sound orcas welcome sixth baby born to endangered pods this year.

Six-inch long teeth of ancient Megalodon shark found on North Carolina beach.

Dinosaurs are extinct, but the business of smuggling them is thriving.

Ancient Pterosaur Used Four Huge Fangs To Snack On Ancient Crocodiles.

September blew away the margin for Earth’s warmest month on record.

Ancient super-predators could take down a mammoth.

First humans in Northern North America: 11,500-year-old baby fossils show humans ‘paused’ as they spread across the globe.

Did ancient animals REGROW their limbs? Fossils suggest the ability to regenerate was widespread 300 million years ago.

Suspended USDA researcher alleges agency tried to block his research into harmful effects of pesticides on bees, butterflies.

Hungry Baby Otter Found on California Beach Is Recovering.

Einstein Is Right About General Relativity — Again.

A Lack of Animal Poop Is Causing a New Environmental Problem.

Astronomers make a remarkable discovery in the center of the Milky Way.

Before-and-after pictures show how climate change is destroying the Earth.

Clouded Leopards Threatened by Sudden Increase in Poaching and Live Trade.

Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculation!

Ash vs. Evil Dead Prep: Your Guide to the Evil Dead Franchise.

Starz Renews ‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’ Ahead of Premiere.

The Case For Queer Superhero Films.

LE GUIN’S ANARCHIST AESTHETICS.

25 Years Later, ‘Darkman’ Remains the First Horror Genre-Driven Superhero Film.

Why ‘The Flash’ And ‘Arrow’ Are What Young Science Nerds Have Been Looking For.

This week in Writing

Some Writing Advice That’s Mostly Useless (And Why).

Find the Conflict: Unblocking (or Actually Planning!) your NaNoWriMo Novel.

Post on tools useful in planning the first draft of a novel.

Zadie Smith’s 10 Rules of Writing.

Never quote a rock lyric in a book unless you’re rich.

3 Steps to Rev Up Your Writing Momentum.

Culture war news:

Remember the Guy Who Gave His Employees a $70,000 Minimum Wage? Here’s What Happened Next.

Florida’s New Anti-Gay, Anti-Woman Bill May Be the Most Malicious Yet.

All Republicans agree: America is a hellhole.

This Hacker is Destroying Racist and Homophobic Websites One by One.

When Bigots Freaked Out About Campbell’s Ad With Gay Dads, This Man Had A Brilliant Response.

How Utah’s Anti-Gay Birth-Certificate Law Got Crushed in Court.

As the World Congress of Families, an international extremist group, meets in Salt Lake City, The Daily Beast goes undercover to peel back the curtain.

This Week in the Clown Car

Cruz, Huckabee And Jindal Will Join Pastor Who Wants Gays Put To Death.

Jeb Bush’s campaign continues to freefall.

Ben Carson says as ‘volatile’ teen he ‘went after people with hammers’ and tried to stab someone. Keep in mind: he brought this up as an attempt to prove that he’s got the passion and energy to run a full presidential campaign. What?

These GOP Candidates Were Born Into Privilege But Want You To Think Otherwise.

Trump to Iowa Voters: ‘Get Your – in Gear!’.

Ted Cruz’s damaging shutdown delusion.

No, there is no constitutional problem with an all-Florida presidential ticket. The headline isn’t exactly accurate. There will be issues, but the article is correct that it isn’t technically unconstitutional. Given how bitchy Rubio and Bush got with each other at the debate, I suspect it isn’t going to be an issue.

‘Captain Underpants’ banned from school book fair over gay character.

New Bill Would Allow Doctors to Refuse to Treat Women and Gay People.

Enjoy your honeymoon while it lasts, Marco Rubio: Why the GOP’s star debater still isn’t ready for primetime.

Huckabee Seems to Think We Can cure Cancer, Diabetes, Alzheimers, and Heart Disease with Executive Order.

At debate, Ben Carson says he has no connection to Mannatech.

This week in Other Politics:

The next president should break up some big companies.

Sorry Joe Biden, But the Republicans ARE Our Enemies. “…Republicans are our enemies simply because they’d decided we are their enemies, targeting our rights, our livelihoods and our families”

Former Republican House Speaker Hastert Sentences to Six Years After Pleading Guilty to Lying to FBI About Paying Hush Money to Student He Sexually Molested as a High School Wrestling Coach.

How Dennis Hastert’s sex abuse scandal led to him pleading guilty to a banking crime.

Wisconsin Governor Signs Bill Limiting Political Corruption Inquiries.

What in the world is a ‘Freedom Foyer’?

Ryan Makes Immigration Reform Deal With Freedom Caucus Member.

The One Guy Who Can Fix Politics Is the One Guy Democrats Won’t Let You Hear About.

In first, Democratic hopefuls fight to be most pro-LGBT.

Charles Koch’s Frankenstein problem: He created the Tea Party monster — and now he’s horrified with the results.

This Week in Racism

Anonymous Vows To Unhood 1,000 Ku Klux Klan Members.

Death threats and civil complaints after People of Color Yoga controversy.

The Unbearable Whiteness of Pro-Lifers and Pundits.

This Week in Police Brutality

White America will ignore this video: The hideous & predictable violence of our schools, our legal system, our society. For the record: the actual video was shared with me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook at least four dozen times before this particular article went by, and it was white people who were sharing it, so, um… what?

South Carolina Deputy Ben Fields Fired After Body Slamming Student [VIDEO].

Video Shows NYPD Officer Tackling, Choking, and Pepper-spraying a Skateboarde.

This Week in Misogyny

This Is Not a Game: How SXSW Turned GamerGate Abuse Into a Spectator Sport.

How SXSW really, really blew it.

SXSW canceled two panels after threats — but did nothing when female panelists asked about harassment.

I Was on One of Those Canceled SXSW Panels – Here is what went down.

News for queers and our allies:

Pop Matters does a retrospective on the album that, 25 years ago, contains the most poignant, heart-wrenching song about the AIDS epidemic: All The People I Was Kissing, Some Are Here And Some Are Missing.

I am outside, and I am wearing a dress. This is a new experience, wearing a dress in public.

How The Words “I Dare You” Changed My Life Forever.

Nasty Baby Is the Gay Film We’ve Been Waiting a Decade For.

Finding Gay Baby Jail.

Celebrating Gay Manhood.

‘We still love each other’: meet the man who came out after 20 years of marriage.

The Trope of the Evil Television Bisexual.

Gus Kenworthy Responded To This Idiotic Gay Relationship Question Perfectly.

Sylvia Rivera becomes first trans American to have portrait in the Smithsonian.

Dallas Police Respond To String Of Violent Attacks Targeting Gay Community – VIDEO.

Gay North Carolina high school football player was depressed despite ‘having it all’.

Rainbow Smoke and Glittering Mirrors: How not to tackle homophobia.

‘50s Hollywood Sex Symbol Tab Hunter is still a Young Love at 84.

Farewells:

Maureen O’Hara, spirited movie star, dies at 95.

Things I wrote:

Just call me Mr. Chicken.

If you never get started….

What you like, what other people like….

Storms, Brains, and Reanimated Flesh – more of why I love sf/f.

Weekend Update 10/24/2015: Bigot Backpedals, Others Sued.

Videos!

Music as a Language: Victor Wooten at TEDxGabriolaIsland (thanks to Deeptriviality for the link):

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Of Monsters And Men – Thousand Eyes (Official Lyric Video):

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Pet Shop Boys – Being Boring 1990 HD ( 25 years ago this week… ):

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NERVO feat. Kylie Minogue, Jake Shears & Nile Rodgers – The Other Boys (Official Video):

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I Put A Spell On You – Bette Midler – Hocus Pocus 1993 – HD edited:

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The Best Gay (ish) Halloween Flicks:

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Anything Can Happen On Halloween:

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Just call me Mr. Chicken

31I love Halloween. Seriously, I do. I love a well-done vampire story. Or a good fantasy tale with interesting witches and/or monsters.

But I’m not good with scary movies. Now I should qualify that: I’m not good with a lot of horror films, particularly the gory and/or very intense ones. I wind up having nightmares. The kind of nightmares where I wake up other people in the house because I either wake up talking very loudly, or worse: I sleepwalk around the house, intentionally waking anyone I can find, and explaining very emphatically how we’re in danger and we have to do something to defend ourselves/thwart the monster, et cetera. The more intense the movie, the more likely I am to do this for several nights in a row.

There are exceptions. I do better when it’s a movie I’ve seen before. I also do better if I watch the movie on a TV or computer instead of going to see it in the theatre. Being able to look away at familiar surroundings whenever I want without the overwhelming presences of the enormous screen and THX sound seems to help a lot. Watching it with someone I know and trust helps. I have been known to physically cling to friends (not just people I am romantically involved with) at particularly scary parts of some films.

I own a lot of movies that I classify as Halloween/horror films. And every year, I select some to watch on Halloween (and sometimes nights leading up to it). But my collection isn’t full of things many people would think of as scary. Movies that appear in my Halloween fests a lot include:

  • The Ghost and Mr Chicken
  • Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
  • The Addams Family
  • Abbot and Costello Meet the Mummy
  • Monster Squad
  • Frankenstein (the 1931 version starring Boris Karloff)
  • Bride of Frankenstein
  • Dracula (the 1931 version starring Bela Lugosi)
  • Young Frankenstein
  • The Lost Boys
  • Tremors
  • Queen of the Damned
  • Fright Night (the 1985 version with Roddy McDowell and Chris Sarandan)
  • Haunted Honeymoon
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Arsenic and Old Lace
  • Teen Wolf (the original with Michael J. Fox)
  • Hocus Pocus
  • Edward Scissorshands
  • Ghostbusters
  • Little Shop of Horrors
  • The Man with Two Brains
  • Hellboy
  • Godzilla
  • Forbidden Planet

I could go on. A friend posted a similar list on her blog yesterday. I’m glad to see I’m not the only person who likes this kind of less-than-nightmare-inducing spooky movie.

I have all of the “Abbot and Costello meet…” cross-overs with the Universal Monsters, as well as the Universal box sets of their classic horror franchises: Frankenstein, the Mummy, Dracula, the Wolf Man. And a bunch of the Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” episodes on disc. I only recently acquired Munster, Go Home on disc, and it was a candidate for this year’s Halloween fest.

3265dcb92ac0b5575bed9a0e0d047927Since my husband has spent so much time converting the rest of our (nearly a thousand) DVDs and Blurays into the media computer and database, I spent a while scrolling through the list looking for films that maybe we haven’t watched in a while because they were on a different shelf than the other Halloween movies. I noticed, while scrolling through the sci fi section, The Black Hole (the 1979 version with Maximilian Schell), which I haven’t watched in many years. When I said that, Michael said that he’s never seen it.

My husband has never seen it!

So I said, “Well, that’s one of the Halloween movies this year, definitely!”

Then he asked me if I could remember when I last watched the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie (with Kristy Swanson, Luke Perry, and Donald Sutherland), and I couldn’t remember, so we both said, “Guess that one’s on this year’s list, too!”

images (2)And, of course, the premiere of the new series starring Bruce Campbell, Ashe vs the Evil Dead is happening on Starz on Halloween. And Starz is a channel I have in our line-up, so I’d been planning all along to watch it that night.

I should mention that the Evil Dead movies are one of those cases where the gore is enough that normally I wouldn’t watch them, but I love work that Bruce Campbell does elsewhere (and was so, so, so happy when he was cast in the major supporting role in Burn Notice which went on for several seasons without getting canceled or jumping the shark before they ended it in a really good way). Plus, after being enthused at about it many, many times by our friend, Sky (who is one of those people who I know really well), in some ways I felt as if I had already seen them. So I finally watched The Army of Darkness and one of the earlier ones.

Sky was sitting on one side of me and my husband on the other. (I spent most of bloody-cabin-in-the-woods movie with my eyes covered, even then!).

I… will not be surprised if Campbell’s new series gives me nightmares. But I’ll probably watch the whole thing, regardless.

Because I love the mix of comedy and horror tropes! And did I mention that I love Halloween?

A good Halloween

Yes, those are all full-size bars.

Yes, those are all full-size bars.

This was the initial bowl before any kids showed up. We had enough to refill it completely a few times. Yes, those are all full-size bars. My husband likes to say, “Our motto is, ‘fun size isn’t!'” I’m a bit more emphatic, “It is a SIN to hand out fun size candy!”

The Nerds Ropes nearly ran out by the end of the night. The Kit Kats were popular early on, but we had fewer of them and ran out. Every teen-age kid that showed up and took candy had real costumes. The only teen-agers I saw without costumes were each carrying a much younger sibling.

My favorite of the night was the very small child in the most adorable dinosaur costume who could not decide between two candy bars (I think it was a Milky Way Caramel and a Hershey’s Chocolate). When his mom said, “You need to pick one, honey,” I stage-whispered, “Take both!” His grin was incredible. But he also looked up at his mom to make sure it was okay with her. She was, “Wow, that’s so generous!” While I was thinking that seeing a little kid that happy was worth a whole lot more than two candy bars.

There were several other fun ones. A group of four in leopard-print homemade-looking body suits and wearing store bought kitty ears. The teen-ager with a spot-on Shaun of the Dead costume. The rainbow colored fairy. The tiny astronaut with Mom wearing a NASA Ground Crew coveralls.

The only decorations I had put up in advance were two light-up pumpkins in the front window and the light up spider-web. When I got home from picking up Michael, I turned on the oven for the pizzas and started getting out the outdoor extension cords to put up the purple icicle lights around the porch and the pumpkin LED strings on the rails, when Michael announced he was going to the store for more decorations. “I want something pumpkin-y for the porch.”

Now, I’ve had these two ceramic jack o’lantern candle-lanterns for years that I always put on the porch steps. I’m still not sure if he forgot about them (I hadn’t pulled them out of the Halloween decorations bag yet) or if he wanted something bigger. Anyway, he came back with a hanging skeletal bride thing that didn’t light up, but he’d also bought will battery-operated LED “candles.” He also picked up a string of multi-colored strobing lights with bat-shaped reflectors. That were also battery powered.

We clearly had enough lights to attract trick-or-treaters, so that was good.

I need to find some more light-up things that we can put out near the curb, as most of ours older ones died last year. I forgot, actually, until I was unboxing yesterday, or I would have been out looking for stuff earlier in the month.

Still, we got 42 trick-or-treaters total. Which is up from last year. The last few years it’s been trending up again. I would love it if we started getting around a hundred as happened the first few years in Ballard. (If for no other reason that we wouldn’t have so many leftovers!)

Friday Links! (Spoooooooooky Spooks Edition)

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

It’s Friday! But even more importantly, it’s Halloween!!!!!!!!!!

Ghouls and goblins and mummies and werewolves on the prowl! We have a pile of candy to hand out, the house has some spooky decorations, and I have picked out some scary movies. We’re going to have a great night.

Anyway, here is a collection of news and other things that I ran across over the course of the week which struck me as worthy of being shared:

Happy Heteroween: In Defense of Sexy Pirates, Sexy Nuns, and Sexy Cadavers.

5 Years After Passage Of Hate Crimes Law, Religious Right’s Dire Predictions Still Haven’t Come True.

Dear Author breaks down the actions of the Author who stalked a Good Reads reviewer. (Thanks to shipperx for the link!)

The Choices of Kathleen Hale.

There Really Is an Evangelical Christian War on Halloween.

Is it just me, or does talking about religious violence feel an awful lot like talking about gun violence?

Tim Cook Speaks Up …and comes out.

Why it matters where — and when — Tim Cook spoke up about being gay.

On crying in public.

xkcd: Zombie Marie Curie.

Totally True Horror Story: A Shocking Tale from the ’80s—Illustrated.

Once you see this small typography tweak Apple made in OS X Yosemite, you can’t unsee it.

Last of the Crow war chiefs turns 101 in Montana.

Lonesome George, the Last of His Kind, Strikes His Final Pose.

Woman sues to use wife’s name on South Carolina driver’s license.

Godless millennials could end the political power of the religious right. We can only hope!

Top Ten Most Famous Swords of the Middle Ages. Note: it’s not a slide show, so you don’t have to click-click-click to see them!

Chemists Find A New Chemical Bond—Forming it requires replacing atoms’ electrons with more exotic sub-atomic particles.

#GamerGate Supporters Demonstrate They Don’t Know What Ethics in Journalism Means.

Every Other Planet in the Solar System Would Fit Between the Earth and Moon. Factoid I knew long ago, but the image is nice.

Cassini Spies Methane Ice Crystals in Titan’s Atmosphere.

WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE GAY IN COMMUNIST ROMANIA.

Brownback Covered Budget Deficit By Tossing Disabled People Off Medicaid.

Ken Ham’s tax-payer subsidized creationist theme park is already in trouble for religious discrimination.

Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian! (bettybowers.com)

Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian! (bettybowers.com)

The Evangelical War on Halloween.

And Halloween, Jack Chick, and Anti-Catholicism.

And Colbert is on it: War on Halloween – Costume Swapping & Jesus Ween. (Video plays automatically)

Pope Francis admits he believes in evolution and the Big Bang, says science and religion can peacefully coexist.

On the other hand, Stop Celebrating the Pope’s Views on Evolution and the Big Bang. They Make No Sense.

Time magazine is just an embarrassing Internet troll now.

SOUTHERN BAPTISTS TELL PASTORS: HOLD LINE ON GAYS.

Couple plead guilty to torture death of 8-year-old they believed was gay.

The Universe Might Be A Billion Years Older Than We Thought.

Five science ‘facts’ we learnt at school that are plain wrong.

Digging through 316,669 tweets from three days of Twitter’s two-month-old #GamerGate trainwreck. He really digs into the metadata. It’s fascinating!

Viewpoint: Arrow of Time Emerges in a Gravitational System.

They don’t all have to be heroes, but….

Fairy rings and h/a/y/ fungal fever.

Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? Let’s be writing buddies!

HALLOWEEN PARTY MIX:

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Jessica Lange – Gods and Monsters (Lana Del Rey Cover):

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GROOVIE GOOLIES MUSIC VIDEO – MONSTERS ON PARADE – GHOST BAND:

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Monster Mash:

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Beetlejuice – Day-o (Banana Boat Song):

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Melanie Martinez – Carousel (American Horror Story: Freak Show Theme) (Official Video):

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LOL! “Don’t TOUCH My Girlfriend” Pres.Obama! Couple Interviewed – Chris Hayes:

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The Endless Night: A Valentine to Film Noir:

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Avengers: My Ultron Will Go On (setting the visual of the Avenger’s trailer to Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” is surprisingly awesome):

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