Tag Archives: Halloween

“Let’s play a game, it’s called scary noises.”

20. Torments – Lisa W. Cantrell

The sequel to the paperback with one of my all time favorite covers featuring an angry jack o’lantern munching on a bannister – The Manse, Torments really feels like a major re-tread. I haven’t even read The Manse, but there was so much summary information about what happened in it, that I almost feel like I don’t need to. I will eventually, of course, and maybe I’ll get déjà vu.

Anyway, this manse is haunted. So haunted that the land around it is super haunted and the town and the people and the construction site and the new apartment buildings and it’s just got super penetrating haunting powers. I think we all know how this turns out on Halloween and that it requires an elderly black woman to save whatever and whomever can be saved.

Finny’s idea of torment is sitting still for pictures. He never does. He never will. He might end up running a very specifically themed haunted house attraction someday.

 

Happy Halloween! Here are my little trick-or-treaters in Danger Things II, such a sweet little group.

 

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“Only the ghosts in this house are glad we’re here.”

34. October Dreams: A Celebration of Halloween – Richard Chizmar & Robert Morrish, eds.

October is one of the months that I always wish I could take entirely off my day job – at least, pre-climate change. Now it usually has a crappy hot week and some not really all that fallesque weeks and way less of what I expect – not enough crisp air and insect and plant death to make my allergies just a bit easier to manage. Also, it should come as no surprise that Halloween is my favorite holiday. I may have even mentioned that before on here. I’m not sure, but it’s still my favorite holiday.

It’s also the month when I adopted Horace, the heart of my herd and the sweetest guinea pig. He was so excited to find out there were other guinea pigs in my house when I brought him home that he didn’t stop vocalizing for half an hour. It was the best. Although I did not get him on Halloween, it was close, October 24th, and so essentially, adopting him is one of my favorite Halloween-adjacent memories.

October Dreams has an interesting structure. It goes back and forth between short stories and “My Favorite Halloween Memory” segments from horror authors. Some of the memories are better than the stories as they truly give a picture of Halloween and they really break up the experience of reading this 660 page long collection. I’m not going to discuss them further beyond saying that they are the full size Snickers of the reading experience.

You could say that Horace is the full size Snickers of guinea pigs. He was a big pig and incredibly sweet.

Dean Koontz – “The Black Pumpkin” – Once again I found myself really enjoying the work of Dean Koontz. A kid buys a super gnarly pumpkin from a super gnarly man despite his reservations and because of some taunting from his jackass brother; and it, well, had the exact ending I expected.

Poppy Z. Brite – “Lantern Marsh” – Before the immense life changes, and really, still after, you could always count on the swampy and mysterious to work their way into a Brite story. This is no exception and plays a little off the weirdness of coming home and reacting to how your hometown doesn’t stay frozen just because you left.

Thomas Ligotti – “Conversations in a Dead Language” – An off-kilter selection covering the ins and outs of handing out candy.

Thomas F. Monteleone – “Yesterday’s Child” – This one had great atmosphere and some creepery to go with.

Peregrine is creeping up on Horace who thinks he’s creeping up on that pumpkin. This herd can handle some creepery.

Simon Clark – “The Whitby Experience” – A vacation gone wrong in the best way. Misty…confusing…pizza gets burned – they’re going to have a bad time.

Ray Bradbury – “In-Between, A Halloween Poem” – It’s a poem. I’m fine with poems. Poems about Halloween are fine.

Jack Ketchum – “Gone” – Sometimes it seems like letting strangers knock on your door for candy really is opening yourself up to psychological punishment. Especially if you’ve lost a child that you’ll never see through the opposite end of the experiment.

Gahan Wilson – “Yesterday’s Witch” – This was just cute.

Paula Guran – “A Short History of Halloween” – Non-fiction interlude! I appreciated this because, to a librarian, there are no celebrations of anything without helpful, verified information.

Horace runs from my nerdery. He did not want to know the illustrious history of pumpkin photoshoots.

John Shirley – “Mask Game” – Family conflicts played out without those helpful puppets you see in movies with family counseling scenes sometimes. The classic example being What About Bob? This story also reminded me of all those times on Supernatural when young people inadvertently summoned old gods or goddesses.

David B. Silva – “Out of the Dark” – It’s always good to be nice to that immortal entity you trapped in a trunk.

Ray Bradbury – “Heavy Set” – I did not expect this kind of a story from Ray Bradbury, I really don’t associate him with assholes who lift weights in their mom’s yard.

Richard Laymon – “Boo” – An interesting twist on the “Bet you can’t go up on the creepy porch” story. He added stalking.

Douglas E. Winter – “Masks” – My strongest anxious memories are about waiting. So this story was very effective for me.

Horace is waiting for me to stop taking pictures so he doesn’t have to establish a new residence atop this pumpkin.

Caitlin R. Kiernan – “A Redress for Andromeda” – I read this story previously in a different collection of hers and I have to say it’s a bit more to my taste than most of her work. A little more plot and less reliance on atmosphere to carry everything.

Lewis Shiner – “The Circle” – One hell of a time travel tale. It also involved those super awkward feelings that happen when you tried to get all your friends to like your new boyfriend and he sucked and then you broke up. Tail between legs.

Gary A. Braunbeck – ” ‘First of All, It Was October…’ An Overview of Halloween Films” – Non-fiction interlude two! This was a great list. But I do not agree about Ernest Scared Stupid. I was in fact scared stupid by that movie. Some of us are scared of trolls. And rolling over to find one in your bed is just well, let’s just say it kept me up at night for years, despite the overall stupidity of the whole enterprise.

This one time I made Horace come with me to investigate whether or not something else that scared me stupid was still in the basement. It was. Horace was a valiant pig, he totally helped me be less terrified.

Tim Lebbon – “Pay the Ghost” – Very reminiscent of True Crime. Loss, weird journeys, pits full of dead things.

F. Paul Wilson – “Buckets” – One time I was grading this beginner college course on philosophy. It actually didn’t really fit my idea of “philosophy,” but anyway, one assignment was an argumentative paper. A student turned in a paper full of the images that anti-abortion zealots use on their posters, images of bloody fetuses and about one page saying she wasn’t a fan of abortion in the least objective terms possible. That was a fail and from my perspective, so was this story.

Stephen Mark Rainey – “Orchestra” – This was an unexpectedly clever story. It was interesting to see old dude pro musicians as the protagonists and it does not have a nice ending.

Charles L. Grant – “Eyes” – Another disturbing story. Damn, dude. The things some people do for their kids.

Horace and Peregrine took a long time to be proper friends. Horace would’ve done a lot for her, including endure many sharp nips until she let him skritch her chin with his face.

Dominick Cancilla – “Deathmask” – Super creepy teenager and mom paranoia story. I really enjoyed this one.

Michael Marshall Smith – “Some Witch’s Bed” – “He will never forget her” – you’re damn right.

Ramsey Campbell – “The Trick” – Not a very nice story at all. There’s a dog involved, just a warning for those of you who want to be warned about that sort of thing.

Peter Straub – “Porkpie Hat” – So, I have to admit that whenever anyone mentions jazz I immediately think of white middle aged men snapping their fingers and trying to seem cool in record stores. I also think “Just play the right notes!” and I can’t even remember where that quote came from anymore. However, Straub managed to suck me in by saying Hat, the main character, was from Mississippi. Fine. We’ll see what you do with it, man. We’ll see. Of course, this is a Mississippi I do not know, one that feels closer in kin to Joe Lansdale’s East Texas than my Hattiesburg, I’m also, like, way younger than the characters, so, that has an effect. Anyway, it was a really solid, image-invoking, page turner of a story. Thankfully, not too much jazz description had to be endured.

Horace had his MA in telling stories to ladypigs.

Stefan Dziemianowicz – “Trick-or-Read, A Reader’s Guide to Halloween Fiction” – Non-fiction informational interlude number three! SO helpful. I loved this list because it allowed me to check things off and to find new books.

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There’s a new, rather dramatic mouse corpse in my basement.

While attempting to finish the piggy laundry today, I noticed a dead mouse in the basement. But it’s not just dead, it’s dramatically dead… upside-down, arms splayed, head thrown back, probably did a soliloquy on the way out dead. And because it’s being so attention grabbing, I was reminded that I have a store that I could be promoting more dramatically because tomorrow (October 17th) things are going to be 20% off. You may use this code: twentyoff-guineapigsbooks

A store full of guinea pig stuff!

Some of my items go nicely with The Walking Dead…which premieres next week, watch while wearing a jaunty scarf from the end of the apparel section.

Many items are Halloween appropriate, especially the Pigoween stuff.

Finny would like you to know that without the support of viewers like you, he might not make it into more than the two paintings (iPiggie and The Finny Awakens) you can currently get on throw pillows.

Finny would like you to know that without the support of viewers like you, he might not make it into more than the two paintings ( iPiggie and The Finny Awakens ) you can currently get on throw pillows.

 

 

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It’s no Guinea Pigs and Books, the flamethrower, but I think it’s close enough for now.

So, I have artwork available for sale now, via my Redbubble profile. I am also currently selling my work at Wizard World Chicago , but, what I’m selling in Chicago I literally painted or printed with my own human hands (except the postcards and posters, I had those made) and there’s only one shirt. It glows in the dark. Redbubble has no tea towels, but it does have several other items I find highly amusing:

This is the throw pillow I've always wanted. Although I would never station it on one lonely chair like this.

This is the throw pillow I’ve always wanted of my little Merricat. Although I would never station it on one lonely chair like this.

 

Not to be outdone in any fashion, Peregrine is also on a throw pillow on a lonely, unfortunately padded chair.

Not to be outdone in any fashion, Peregrine is also on a throw pillow on a lonely, unfortunately padded chair.

Metal prints! This painting went to a good home with the other two Danger Crumples takes over for Christopher Pike paintings, so, the most brutal type of print is maybe the easiest way to get your own. Unless you want it on a throw pillow, or a shirt, or a mug, lots of things really.

Metal print! This painting went to a good home with the other two Danger Crumples takes over for Christopher Pike paintings, so, the most brutal type of print is maybe the easiest way to get your own. Unless you want it on a throw pillow, or a shirt, or a mug, lots of things really.

Stationary too! Pammy, on her mammoth, potentially on your greeting cards.

Stationery too! Pammy, on her mammoth, potentially on your greeting cards.

Okay, back to Merricat. The only piece of apparel I print on when I'm hand silkscreening is the baseball tee. Baseball tees are available on Redbubble, but not in the most obvious way. One must click literally any of the tees first.

Okay, back to Merricat. The only piece of apparel I print on when I’m hand silkscreening is the baseball shirt. Baseball shirts are available on Redbubble, but not in the most obvious way. One must click literally any of the t-shirts first.

Then, use the pull down menu to select the baseball tee. I have officially sanctioned the colors I'll allow for all the shirts, so, if you must have a tee other than a baseball shirt with any of my images on it, fine, but no orange. It doesn't go.

Then, use the pull down menu to select the “Baseball 3/4 Sleeve.” I have officially sanctioned the colors I’ll allow for all the shirts, so, if you must have a t-shirt other than a baseball shirt with any of my images on it, fine, but no orange. It doesn’t go.

This is the gold version of the Danger Crumples with a flashlight image, the one that got me back into printmaking. It would be adorable on a duvet cover.

This is the gold version of the Danger Crumples with a flashlight image, the one that got me back into printmaking. It would be adorable on a duvet cover.

Sometimes, when you move your images around for optimum placement, you end up designing a phone skin with a captive Ozma on it.

Sometimes, when you move your images around for optimum placement, you end up designing a phone case with a captive Ozma on it.

Horace can use an old school computer on your much newer, less possessed computer.

Horace can use an old school computer on your much newer, less possessed computer.

The official Pigs in a Graveyard hardcover journal.

The official Pigs in a Graveyard hardcover journal.

Many of my images are available on scarves, which is pretty damn cool. And then there's the miniskirt. Yes, you can have zombie leper pirates and their undead guinea pig captain Danger Crumples on a miniskirt. Also available as a miniskirt, antichrist Finny.

Many of my images are available on scarves, which is pretty damn cool. And then there’s the miniskirt. Yes, you can have zombie leper pirates and their undead guinea pig captain Danger Crumples on a miniskirt. Also available as a miniskirt, antichrist Finny.

Lastly, I have also painstakingly made "Artist Notes" for each image I uploaded, read them at your own peril, but remember to click back to the products afterwards, lest the point get confusing.

Lastly, I have also painstakingly made “Artist Notes” for each image I uploaded, read them at your own peril, but remember to click back to the products afterwards, lest the point get confusing.

More pillows (and some other random people’s stuff thrown in, sorry random people, you’re getting overtaken by my herd:

Whee!

Whee! Also, there’s that golden Danger Crumples duvet cover in the second row, next to Pammy on a Mammoth. I don’t think it’s too hard to tell which of these are my work and which two are not.

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In which Peregrine becomes a bad babysitter.

Today is the first day of Wizard World Madison ( my profile on the Wizard World site ). There are only two days left to see my half-smiling face behind a table, unless I’m not there because I escaped to track down the Phantasm t-shirt I regretted not buying last year or I’m jumping through a wall of Funko Pop boxes like the Kool-Aid Man out of sheer joy.

Last, but certainly not least, in my “John Carpenter’s Guinea Pigs” series is Pigoween (Halloween, such a difference a “pig” makes). This one has my favorite title card painting and features my Wisconsin-pig ladies Merricat, Ozma, and Peregrine – and Peregrine’s comically-sized phone. Also Michael Myers. Stalking babysitters has never been so cute.

The Pigoween title card. Lady pigs Merricat, Ozma, and Peregrine walkin' down some foliage-lined street.

The Pigoween title card. Lady pigs Merricat, Ozma, and Peregrine walkin’ down some foliage-lined street.

 

Merricat, suddenly cardigan-less, being stared at by Michael Myers.

Merricat, suddenly cardigan-less, being stared at by Michael Myers.

 

Peregrine is On. The. Phone.

Peregrine is On. The. Phone.

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It’s okay to eat fish

2. The Snowman – R. L. Stine

The other day I was doing some editing while watching Halloween H20 on television, which seems metaphorical… I’m not sure who or what symbolically takes the place of Michael Myers, though, the stuff I was editing because of how hurtful it was to my brain or me with my hack and slash capabilities. Anyway, I got up to get some water and the famous theme song began playing. I happened to look into Danger Crumples’ piggy dwelling to find him perched on his little wooden archway, staring at me. It was super creepy and we had a moment. I asked him if he was a serial killer and he didn’t break his stare.

If you have never experienced a guinea pig staring at you in a murderous way, well, good for you. It’s a very odd feeling to know that the one eye they’re focusing (their eyes are on either side of their head, they can’t look up…) is directed at you, and some of them are really good at glaring, like Murderface. She intimidated people who had virtually no experience with guinea pigs with her glare. And their emotional states (hee hee, some people think animals don’t have emotional states) are occasionally hard to interpret. Danger Crumples has had strong reactions to approximately three pieces of music now – “Goodbye Horses” aka the song from that scene from Silence of the Lambs (he popped his head up very happily for that one), “Listen Like Thieves” by INXS (he whistled at me and jumped up on his perch for the length of the song, I like Michael Hutchence’s voice too but I have yet to climb on top of anything over it), and now the theme from Halloween-induced creepy staring. He also happens to be the only guinea pig I have that doesn’t run under a blanket and chutter whenever I listen to music without my headphones. So, he could be a changeling, or evil. He does have a heart condition, perhaps that’s because he hasn’t eaten or murdered anyone. The hooting means he needs to murder. Maybe not. I will be suspicious until he eats me and leaves the soundtrack to Candyman on the record player. It was always you, Helen.

Speaking of words that end with “man” and creepy situations I never read The Snowman in the 90s. It was a tale of stalking and extortion instead of sweatshirt cuffs with blood on them and hungry kisses. Actually, it may have had hungry kisses in it. Either way, it was not what I expected. I believe it is pre-Fear Street and it doesn’t show up in those lists of “other books you will enjoy” in the beginning of my early Fear Street volumes. Yes, I am a connoisseur of 1990s YA. Actually 70s, 80s, 90s, and today YA. I am a collector. Another aspect that can be attributed to its “pre-Fear Street” quality (besides looking at the CIP) is the character development. The characters were people! Mostly developed people! And it was a little bit ridiculous, but also a little bit actually-intimidating. Quit waiting outside her work with your sob stories and your moocher ways! I’ve never liked controlling boyfriends or stalkers, I don’t know who does, but I don’t even enjoy reading about them at this point.

 

Extra butter lettuce and a baby carrot should appease him – for now.

The terrifying Danger Crumples. I don’t care what Big Al says, he’s coming for me. With or without visible eyes.

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In growing confusion and disbelief…

30. The Halloween Party – R.L. Stine

Special Edition R.L. Stine again post! It’s like I have a Halloween episode of my very own. Except these are books and not TV and nobody does Halloween specials in their books….nobody.

Car crashes rarely bring out the best in people. Cemeteries and haunted mansions, however, are a perfect setting for revenge and suddenly stepping up to the plate after being repeatedly called a “wimp.”   This installment in the “everything weird that happens must happen on Fear Street, no matter what it is” series involves a thirty-year-old woman posing as a high school student (just like in the movies!) so that she can dispose of the children involved in the drag race that killed her parents. Apparently the attractiveness and general mystery surrounding the revengencer and her haunted mansion living space is a big Halloween-style draw for the plump girl dressed as a cheerleader (oh, plump, what a great qualifier), the mostly deaf slender girlfriend nicknamed “Funny Face” (The reader is never allowed to forget about this nickname, but at what cost?), Funny Face’s ex-boyfriend, Funny Face’s current boyfriend, the apparently reoccurring character of Fear Street novels Ricky, and some other people, including one who dies. Slashed tires all around.

Twiglet, mistress of inquisitive poses with pumpkins.

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Even more forbidden words of the 1990s

28. Trick or Treat – Richie Tankersley Cusick

Apparently there is something about the Halloween season and moving into a house where someone has been murdered that inspires hideous prank phone calls. Oh, to not have caller ID anymore…those Budweiser penguin commercials just don’t have the same punch; and I guess technically they’re not on TV anymore and I’m only mostly sure they were Budweiser commercials. I think the can was blue with some sort of mountainesque jagged line on it, I could look it up but writing about the 90s just doesn’t work that way at this moment. I lived it, man. I had a friend who used to prank call people on Halloween by playing clips of the movie Halloween to their answering machines or, if they answered, to them and then he’d hang up. He chose his dialogue from Halloween arbitrarily and I’m sure he’s still a bit of an odd bird.

Anyway, teen murder (don’t do it!) happened in the house that Martha and her new, vaguely sociopathic step-brother Colin move into in a town that has a name. Their parents finally go off on their honeymoon just as some prank calls, creepy ones, start freaking Martha the fuck out. She essentially goes nutbars each time she answers the phone. So, anyway, Martha has trouble with her high schooling, but she makes bestest friends with this girl who was BFFs with the girl who was murdered in Martha’s extremely drafty and chilled room and her guidance counselor is the brother of the girl who was BFFs with the murdered Elizabeth and Martha starts almost dating the brother of the girl who was BFFs with the murdered Elizabeth…anyway, don’t make friends with anyone named after a hotel chain, no matter how desperate you are to avoid hanging out in your own home with your new, not-actually-a-sociopath-but-he-could-play-one-on-TV stepbrother. Was that too long?

“Pickles, the calls are coming from inside the house,” Murderface whispered. “They’re telling me that Orange Julius and Dairy Queen have entered into an unholy partnership.”
“As long as Orange Julius continues to exist…” Pickles stared wistfully into the future, now filled with hope.

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