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Vintage Halloween Photo SPOOKtacular

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As far as I can tell (my childhood memories are spotty at best), I've always loved Halloween. The October celebration of ghosts and goblins and high-fructose corn syrup touched something deep inside my evil little heart, as you can see in the photo above, where I proudly display both a cornucopia of seasonal items and my finest Gecko Hawaii shirt. In the spirit of the season, I have taken the liberty of scanning and collecting some old photos of these early Halloweens to share with you. It's like peeking into your trick-or-treat bag at the end of the night...let's see what we've got!
This photo is the earliest one I could find. I'm wearing a dinosaur onesie that my mom sewed based on a pattern she purchased at Michael's. I'm also apparently camera shy, or perhaps weeping. Equally likely, I suppose. Oh, and one note: most of these scans are from old Polaroids that survived a house fire and a closet flooding, so if they're washed out and/or ashy, there a…

Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark: The Book Tie-In to the Movie: The Review

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Happy October! I'm kicking off Halloween season today by writing about...well, pretty much the same type of stuff I write about the rest of the year.
Anyway, as I mentioned in my recent-ish review of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie, a book was released in conjunction with the film called Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: The Haunted Notebook of Sarah Bellows. Given my propensity for writing about anythingandeverythingScary Stories-related, it's only natural that I'd wanted to discuss this latest creepy collection of terrifying tales.

Now, to get the most obvious question out of the way: is this a new Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark book in anything other than the most literal, pedantic terms? Frankly, no. The stories are all moviefied versions of material from the original books, enhanced by concept artwork, photos and notes from the film’s production. Yet, oddly, these are exactly the qualities that make this book perfect for what it is. It’s basicall…

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: The Movie: The Review

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I'm going to discuss the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark film in detail in this post. As such, there will be material that could be considered spoilers, so if you're trying to avoid those, you should probably see the movie first before reading this. And if you're just looking for a brief, spoiler-free review: I liked it.

When I first learned that a Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie was in development, I admit I had mixed emotions. On the one hand, Alvin Schwartz's books are a beloved and significant part of my life, which I have written about quiteextensivelyoverthelastdecade, so of course the planned adaptation offered exciting and unexpected possibilities. And the involvement of Guillermo Del Toro was extremely promising, as he had the star power to get the project off the ground while also representing what seemed, in theory, a perfect fit for the material itself, having shown a flair for ornately unsettling aesthetics and a warm but macabre sensibility that…

Why Stephen Gammell Needs to Illustrate the New Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Book

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I have to say, it's a pretty great time to be a Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark fan. After an ill-advised decision by the publisher years ago to replace the books' iconically eerie Stephen Gammell illustrations with tamer, less disturbing artwork by Brett Helquist, the original versions have been reissued to bookstores everywhere. Hollywood wants a piece of that sweet Scary Stories pie (don't ask what's in it), and there's a major motion picture produced by Guillermo Del Toro on the way which, judging by the teasers, looks amazing. There's even a documentary coming out chronicling the creation of the series and examining its lasting cultural impact. 38 years after Alvin Schwartz's first volume began shocking the senses of countless readers, the series' legacy is still going strong.
     Perhaps most unexpectedly, there was a recent announcement that a new volume of the series is coming soon! Well, sort of. New Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark i…

Thanksgiving Break

This story follows the events of my debut novel, Henry Garrison, St. Dante's Savior. You don't need to have read the novel for this to make sense (at least, I don't think so), but it certainly doesn't hurt. Hope you enjoy my first short fiction in quite a while!

The heavenly aromas of Thanksgiving wafted into Henry Garrison's nostrils, enrapturing him with their particular blend of herbaceous seasonal delights. The savory fragrance of the freshly-brined turkey, the comforting perfume of warm sage in the stuffing, the buttery bouquet of mashed potatoes. And to top it all off, the uniquely tantalizing scent of the big bowl of-
Henry's mind snapped back to reality as Ms. Tegg's monotonous recitation of the day's economics lesson hit an unexpected peak as she reached the topic of incentives. Something approaching joy filled her voice as she discussed remuneration, and it was very distracting.
The wall clock read 2:47 PM. Each whispered tick represented a m…

It's Halloween (and Then Some): The Spooky Poetry of Jack Prelutsky

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I feel like closing out October with something classy. And since we're no stranger to Halloween poems around here, let's celebrate the onset of All Hallow's Week with some verse, courtesy of the man himself, Jack Prelutsky.
Prelutsky is a distinguished poet whose work tends toward a younger audience. I could give you a full recap of his history, but instead I'll just directly lift this quote from his Wikipedia, which is just...wow:

Jack Prelutsky was born on September 8, 1940 in Brooklyn, New York to Charles, an electrician, and Dorothea, a homemaker. While he was still a baby, a fire killed his family and he was saved by his Uncle Charlie, who was a dad of 56 (Wikipedia)

First of all, this is incredibly tragic and heart-wrenching. Second of all, that 56 has to be a typo, right?
Perhaps fittingly given the horrors of his early life, Prelutsky is best known for his dabbling in some darker material. The best example of this is 1976's Nightmares: Poems to Trouble …

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

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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 …