Sunday, September 30, 2012

666 Park Avenue

666 Park Avenue shows promise in the currently crowded supernatural/thriller genre. The constraints of being on a major broadcast network are evident (as opposed to cable TV where there's more leniency to be provocative and risky), but the pilot moved along briskly and was entertaining. The cast is anchored by the brilliant Terry O'Quinn and Vanessa Williams whose devious eyebrows are in full arch here, as well as the engaging Rachael Taylor (a mix of an everyday Nichole Kidman/Naomi Watts). The only misfire is the likable but bland Dave Annable who disappeared into the damask wallpaper (did Justin Walker move to New York?). The story does seem safely predictable at this point, but perhaps the writers will develop a fresher approach (and maybe turn up the terror a notch). And like American Horror Story, its shelf life is incredibly limited. Where can it go once the protagonists discover the true nature of the beast? How could this possibly extend on for 2 or even 3 seasons? (Yes, I'm getting ahead of myself.)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Glitterville's Handmade Halloween

Stephen Brown is a costume designer for tv and film and he's also the creator of Glitterville, a line of whimsical giftware. For his first crafting how-to book, he's put together Handmade  Halloween: A Glittered Guide for Whimsical Crafting. This book has enough quirky charm and a vintage Halloween feel to make even the most weary crafter crack a smile and plug in the glue gun. The audience for this is specific so if you love cutesy crafts, paper, and well, glitter, you'll love this book.
Learn more at

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Halloween III: Season of the Witch

Last week saw the re-release of Halloween III: Season of the Witch, one of the most despised and underrated horror (non)sequels of all-time. Fans expected Michael Meyers to make another appearance but instead they got a movie about Halloween – the holiday and its pagan rituals. This 80s movie was far from perfect, but it was ambitious, creepy, and evoked a feeling of dread that appeared in many of John Carpenter's best work. It is also a rare treat to see a movie about Halloween – knowing the history of the holiday certainly made me appreciate it even more now. At the time producers (including Carpenter) wanted future Halloween installments to tell different tales surrounding the holiday which was an unprecedented concept for a franchise. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way. Having re-watched the new blu-ray with it's myriad of extras and the reversible packing (newly commissioned artwork on one side, original witch poster on the other), this is definitively a keeper. Now if only I could get that bouncy Happy, Happy Halloween song out of my head!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hauntsville Village 2012

In college, I enjoyed working on building, painting, and lighting theater sets – including a 3-month stint on the touring Phantom of the Opera. And to this day the Bates House and Motel on the Universal Studios Backlot Tour is one of my favorite sets. Scary sets and buildings are a passion, so now I build an entire Halloween village... but on much smaller scale.

Department 56 offers a line of Halloween porcelain buildings and accessories to create village displays (similar to the Christmas villages but much spookier). Collectible pieces are introduced and retired every year, and there's an entire community devoted to the skills, techniques, and artistry that goes into designing a village.

I've finally completed work on my 10th Anniversary Hauntsville Village. The process started in July with the construction of the rudimentary foam and wood base. Then work continued to the layout, carving, painting, electrics, and finally, the actual village buildings and accessories came in. The final piece of moss went in last week. The final step is photographing the village. The full gallery will be posted later in October, but in the meantime, here is the first image.

Visit the Hauntsville Village page for the complete gallery.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Eli Roth's Goretorium

While in Las Vegas over the weekend, I was able to visit the site for Eli Roth's Goretorium haunted attraction. Only 4 days before opening, there seems to be much left to do (as you can see on this balcony). I pleaded with the staff to let take a look inside but could not. I did however peek behind the curtain for the main entrance and even the lobby seemed somewhat unfinished (no worries – the "bloodaritas" machines were fully installed). It was also somewhat tricky to find. The website mentions its across from The Cosmopolitan but really it's next to Planet Hollywood (upstairs near a Walgreens). There as no signage or much advertising so I'm not sure how people will find out about this amazing looking place. I am looking forward to head back next month!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Age of the Zombie Pumpkins!

It's officially Autumn, which means we got to start planning our pumpkin carving. Every year, I buy 13 pumpkins and then, for some reason or another, I run out of time to carve them all. This year, I am planning ahead and signing up for my annual Zombie Pumpkins membership right now. They just relaunched their site featuring their 2012 theme: AGE of the ZOMBIE PUMPKINS!!!  For $10 you get access to hundreds patterns – from funny to fearsome – that you can instantly download and print. AND they also have  a great selection of t-shirts featuring all their artwork. Even the Great Pumpkin couldn't ask for more!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

True Blood: The Cookbook!

I'm not sure what crazy devil pitched a True Blood-themed Southern cookbook but may Lilith bless you! It is a seriously beautiful, hardcover book chock-full of artery clogging recipes. And each page also features a full-color photo from the beloved vampire show. In the wide-spectrum of crazy TV companions, this tops them all. Here are some of the recipes that caught my eye:

Crawfish Dip  (p. 94) - a spreadable mix of crawfish, onions, garlic and cream cheese served with crackers

Candied Sweet Jesus Potatoes (p. 101) - sweet potatoes baked in a syrup of cinnamon, butter and lemon

Way Back to Joy Banana Pudding (p. 134) - the classic dessert with vanilla wafers and creamy pudding

Totally Surprised Birthday Cake (p. 136) a white cake filled with lemon curd and topped with a saucy mix of strawberries and raspberries (on the cover)

Ginger-Raspberry Muffins (p. 145) cornmeal muffins with candied ginger and fresh raspberries

Did I Kiss Your Grits (p. 180) white grits with cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and Tabasco

A Hush-ed Puppy (p. 188) fried cornmeal bites with onion and garlic, perfect with skillet fish

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Kohl's Halloween 2012

Almost every major retailer is getting into Halloween this year. Typically Kohl's department store mainly carries a few table linens and kitchen towels, but this year their "Midnight Market" brand expanding into all kinds of decor and entertaining items including  a trio of mercury glass apothecary bottles, a black skull dip set with bone spreader, and a metal bowl entirely made of bats. Good job Kohl's!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Target Halloween 2012

After a dismal last year (remember the neon pink skeletons & pumpkins), Target is offering a much better Halloween line this year. Of the 10 aisles allotted in our store, 4 were for costumes, 3 for candy and edibles, and only 3 for decor (one of which featured a field of real pumpkins mixed in with the artificial ones?!?). Favorites this year included some gothic plates, candlesticks, flaming hanging pumpkin, skeleton urn, potted scary trees, a six foot lampost for $50, flickering candle pathmarkers, and a cool little gargoyle on a base. As usual, their online catalog of decor far exceeds their in-store products, so make sure to check out their site:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

LED Spotlights

Yard haunters and haunted house decorators you'll want to head over to your nearest Spirit Halloween store and pick up a few of these LED Spotlights. They are incredibly bright for their size, and being LEDs they don't heat up like regular spotlights (I suppose that makes them energy efficient as well). These little guys have bases that can easily be mounted anywhere, can swivel to any position, have a five foot cord, and come in five colors: red, green, blue, white, and a pinkish purple (they call it blacklight, but it's not quite). For only $16.99 (– minus that 20% coupon floating around), it's sort of a steal. By the way, the manufacturer (Gemmy) also made an orange spotlight that Spirit is not carrying, so if anyone out there finds one, let me know!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Stovetop Apple Crisp

In Autumn, apples are at their peak of flavor and usually available in many varieties. This apple crisp recipe comes from the outstanding Cuisine at Home, but I've been making this easy and quick dessert for years. It will take you longer to peel and cut the apples than to make this dessert!

5 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tart (Braeburn or Jonagold) apples, cored & sliced into ¼-inch pieces (4 cups)
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

1. Over medium heat, melt 3 tbsp. butter in a nonstick skillet. Stir in pecans, oats, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt, and cook until mixture begins to brown, 5-6 minutes. (Cook the pecan-oat mixture over medium heat – too hot and the nuts and sugar will burn.) Transfer to a parchment-lined plate.

2. Wipe out skillet and return it to the burner. Add the remaining 2 tbsp. butter, apples and raisins. Saute over medium heat to soften, about 5-8 minutes. Stir in sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and another pinch of salt; simmer 2 minutes. Serve warm apples with crunchy topping and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. (Serves 2)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Halloween with Matthew Mead 2012

Matthew Mead is a self-titled style guru and judging from the impeccable photography throughout, I tend to agree. Every page of his 2012 Halloween book drips with color and ambience – but most importantly, it really inspires you to put together your own ghastly party. This year he focuses less on the how-to and recipes and more of the imagery of entertaining. Essentially, it's a photo book and it's a must-have. (The Marie Antoinette cookie page was my absolute favorite!)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cost Plus World Market Halloween

Cost Plus World Market entered the Halloween market last year, and this year they've even expanded their line. Below are some of our favorites. Having the "world goods" perspective lends a crafty, old world feel to many of their decorations. Incidentally, this is also the great place to find everything pumpkin, from coffee and beer to pasta sauce and baking mixes. Their brick-and-mortar stores seem to be dwindling so if you can't find them near you, at least you can find them online.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

Starbucks brought back it's Pumpkin Spice Latte today – clearly, Autumn has arrived regardless of that pesky equinox. Also appearing in stores today is the VIA version that you can make at home with steamed milk so no more cold morning runs to Starbucks for a pumpkin fix.

To make coffeehouse-style steamed milk at home, there are plenty of gadgets from the expensive Capresso frothPRO to the less expensive Bodum Milk Whip. But, there's an alternative method if you have a standard whisk. First, place your milk in a large (14-16oz) mug and microwave for about 2 minutes (careful not to scald it). Add the VIA powder to the hot milk. Place the whisk in the mug and hold the handle between your palms. Roll it back and forth very quickly. The more and quicker you roll the whisk, the thicker the foam. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Spirit Halloween

Spirit Halloween is open for business today. Make sure to grab a 20% off coupon from their website. Simply click on "Find a Store" button and the coupon is waiting in the upper right hand corner. But we like to make it easier for you so here is a direct link!

The Possession: Review

"The Possession" is fairly competent and straightforward horror. There's no gimmicks (3D, found footage, etc.) – just a standard religious-tinged boilerplate flick that doesn't aim to redefine its genre. Perhaps it's aimed too acutely at a PG-13 mainstream audience and chooses to play it safe. The opportunities to explore Jewish mysticism or the malevolent spirit origins were sidelined in favor of showcasing the bland family drama. Unfortunately, a great film about the dybbuk has yet to be made, but this film was still entertainingly creepy, with good production values and respectable performances.