The Soundtrack to My Octobers: Oingo Boingo's Dead Man's Party

It's an annual tradition: when October rolls around, it's officially Oingo Boingo season. Well, let me back up a bit. For me, it's always Oingo Boingo season. They're my favorite band of all time, despite being defunct since the late 90's. For the uninitiated, Oingo Boingo is the brainchild of Danny Elfman, who is better known these days as the composer of the score of pretty much every Tim Burton film, the guy who created the theme for both Batman and The Simpsons, and just basically a divine gift from the heavens above that none of us are worthy of.
Before all that, there was Oingo Boingo and their weird, anarchic new wave/ska/surf/punk sound that sounds like it should be absolutely terrible when I describe it that way. They were far greater than the sum of their parts. Basically, they skewered social mores and explored strange and dark topics with biting humor, infectious hooks and more trumpet and saxophone than you can shake a Cherry Poppin' Daddy at. And …


On July 29th, 2018, I received a phone call from the storage facility I keep some of my belongings at, informing me of an urgent matter. These ominous words made my blood run cold, and I knew something was terribly wrong. My first thought was towards my Halloween items, especially my pumpkin carving kits (which I have written at length about here, here and here). Had a water main burst and ruined them all? I had just heard several sirens pass by…had the facility caught fire? I couldn’t bear the thought. No, I was informed, there was no elemental disaster in my unit. But someone had forced open my storage locker, and it looked like some things were likely stolen. My immediate presence was required. I felt the Sunday languor that had previously confined me to the couch decaying and falling away, replaced by a newly awoken sense of dread. Still, I reasoned, how bad could it be? I had an Xbox 360 that would have been visible to anyone entering the unit along with a stack o…

Ghosts: Scary Stories' Stepchild

In 1981, Alvin Schwartz unleashed his horror classic Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark upon the world, and it and its twosequels would scar psyches for generations to come. 1984 saw the release ofIn a Dark, Dark Room, a similar book that Schwartz had tailored to somewhat younger readers. Unlike the Scary Stories books, though, this one never got a sequel...or did it?
Ghosts!, published in 1991, is an oft-overlooked installment in Alvin Schwartz's oeuvre that serves in many ways as a spiritual successor to In a Dark, Dark Room. In belongs to the somewhat redundantly named "I Can Read" book series, like Dark Room, so it is targeted at a similarly young audience, and of course it shares the supernatural theme of the aforementioned works. But how does this one stack up against the veritable murderer's row of Schwartz's earlier classics? Let's find out.
The first thing that jumps out at you is the artwork. Victoria Chess has a strikingly different style than the la…

To Wrestlemania and Back: A New Orleans Journey-Part 2

April 9, 2018
Rough morning. Double vodka sodas may be less nourishing than previously imagined. Unsure if I should have eaten less fried chicken last night, or more. Only cure is more food. Fortunately, we have a pretty exciting lunch reservation today at Antoine's.
Antoine's is one of the truly iconic New Orleans restaurants. It's been run by the same family since 1840, and the bio on the menu boasts of introducing the world to a number of iconic Creole dishes. The restaurant has no less than fifteen dining rooms, and has served celebrities and dignitaries for generations. That's cool and all, but frankly, I'm here for absurdly cheap cocktails and a three course meal. I am not disappointed, greeted by an interior dimly lit to perfection and an affable server more than happy to keep the twenty-five cent lemon drops flowing. I'm feeling better already.
I bypass most of the menu and head straight for the lunch special. For $20.18, you get an appetizer, entree an…

To Wrestlemania and Back: A New Orleans Journey-Part 1

The idea came, as grand ones often do, after the drinks began to take hold. My girlfriend and I were drinking what could fairly be described as an excessive amount of alcohol for a Monday night, while watching the extremely appropriately-titled WWE Monday Night Raw. We had been discussing the possibility of going on vacation soon, when serendipitously enough, a commercial advertising the upcoming WrestleMania event howled across our television screen. Held in New Orleans, a city we both had long desired to visit, could this event be the unlikely inspiration for our next adventure?
Long story short, yes. The plan was simple: we would spend a week in the Big Easy, starting with WrestleMania and moving on to sight-seeing, exploring, drinking, eating, eating and eating over the course of the following days. And so, mere weeks later, we departed a gloomy, drizzly San Francisco and headed down south.
Our flight was largely uneventful, save for the child behind us who found great amusement …