Halloween Mix 2017

Looking for some music to enhance your Halloween celebrating? Relax; I got you. It’s time for the Skeleton Key’s officially sanctioned creepy playlist!

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Because I’ve made over a dozen unique Halloween Mixes in my day, the song choices in this compilation are more creative than ever. (“Monster Mash” and “Thriller” were played out long ago.) It includes some string instrumentals, a creepy video-game track, and even a song by that Ned Flanders band I told you about a few weeks ago, Okilly Dokilly (you might wanna wear earplugs for that one).

All of the songs are fun and eerie in some way or another and should make a nice soundtrack for carving pumpkins, hanging spider webs, or gorging yourself on candy (y’know, however you like to spend an October evening…).

I used YouTube to make this year’s playlist (instead of Spotify, which requires a sign-in).

Here’s how it works: Simply click HERE to access the playlist, and then select “Play All” to listen to all 17 songs in succession. Then you can just crank up your speakers and walk away (no need to watch the videos, since the clips were chosen for their audio tracks).

Enjoy the spooky tunes!

 

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The Season of the Witch

Late last night I returned from my annual October trip to Salem, MA. As always, it was spellbinding.

(Check out this blog’s Tumblr page to see more of the photos I took on the trip.)

Our itinerary included taking a historic tour of the town, listening to ghost stories in the infamous Witch House, getting a Tarot reading, attending a performance of Poe classics by a talented Poe expert, watching actors depict scenes from Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables inside the titular house itself, and driving an hour north to visit Haunted Overload.

What a weekend! And there are too many other, unplanned details for me to describe (like running into William Ragsdale from 1985’s Fright Night), and quieter moments like stumbling outside one night to be enveloped by a thick fog, which made all of the town’s orange Halloween lights and neon signs bleed into the air.

One delightful surprise that I would be remiss not to mention is discovering the illustrations of Salem artist Bill Crisafi. I encountered just two of his prints at a little store called Witch City Wicks, and that was all it took to make me an immediate fan.

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His style is kind of like Edward Gorey’s, if Edward Gorey had disturbing visions and drew more adults.

 

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Here’s Bill’s website, which includes a shop. The hardest part is deciding what not to buy. So much witchy magic!

Tiny Rooms

Shadowbox artist Andy Acres creates highly detailed, three-dimensional scenes that capture both hyperrealism and an otherworldly spookiness.

I mean, doesn’t it feel like you can just step into this room?

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Hard to believe it’s a fabrication rather than an actual space.

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Here are a few other examples of Andy’s beautiful work.

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His scenes are made with wood, plastics, and even painted masking tape. Each box is backlit, has a glass front, and a stylish flip-switch on the side to operate the light.

Here’s his Etsy shop. The pieces are, understandably, expensive. (And if a rich person is reading this, I’m taking donations! 🙂 Haha.)

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Wretched Wreath

I read something extremely amusing today. Who could possibly think that the brilliant mastermind behind these works of art …

… would ever make something like THIS?!

Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 12.44.24 AMHilariously, some of Pumpkinrot’s coworkers suspected that HE was the person behind the new seasonal wreath on his department’s door. Read his account of the story (via his blog).

Irony at its finest!! I’m still laughing.

Spook ‘Em in Style

Ready to salivate over some stunning Halloween-decorating ideas? I’ve been scouring the Internet for inspiration and collected a few photos to share with you.

These are my favorite images from Domino:

And these are from Apartment Therapy:

Here are some spooky trimmings from House Beautiful:

If you’re lucky enough to own a working fireplace, you might be interested in these skull-shaped logs.

And if you’re looking for outdoor embellishments, how about an enormous 8-foot spider that “crawls” up and down your siding? Pretty cool for an inflatable! (Click here for a video.)

 

The Sound of Violence

Horror film composer Mark Korven (who worked on 2015’s The Witch) commissioned a guitar maker to create a one-of-a-kind instrument that emits creepy, disturbing noises. Made with metal rulers, cranks, wires, and wooden boards, the unique contraption offers a haunting analog alternative to recycled digital samples.

Behold the “Apprehension Engine,” instrument of nightmares, and testament to the ingenuity of practical (sound) effects.

Ghost Town

Some people may not be aware that an area exists where underground coal mines are perpetually in flames, causing smoke, gas, and steam to rise from street cracks and backyards to perilously cave in, resulting in a government-mandated evacuation.

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Photographer unknown.

This place is called Centralia, Pennsylvania. Population as of 2010: 10 people.

The town was the inspiration for the unforgettably bleak setting of Silent Hill. It sits on 400 acres of subterranean fires (which have been raging for over 50 years) and is dangerous to visit.

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Photo by Seth Cohen via Flickr.

Now only a few homes remain standing, though the church built in 1910 and the borough’s four cemeteries have miraculously resisted being swallowed into the gaping mouth of Hell. The empty streets are fractured from the decaying earth below them and riddled with trespassers’ graffiti.

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St. Mary’s Church. Photo via Huffington Post.
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Photo via Huffington Post.

The abandoned mine has enough coal in it to burn for another 250 years, and all attempts to extinguish the uncontrollable conflagration thus far have failed.

From Blumhouse.com:

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Photographer unknown.

“The first coal mining operation began in 1856. By the 1950s, close to two thousand people called Centralia home. Then in May of 1962, the mine beneath the town caught fire. The fire was believed to have started when the town decided to burn the trash at the landfill.  The trash fire traveled through an opening in the mine, where it ignited the large coal deposits below. Feeding off of coal and the oxygen traveling through the mine shaft openings on the surface, the fire raged out of control.

The true magnitude of the situation wouldn’t come to the surface until 1979, when locals began recording temperatures of 180 degrees Fahrenheit on the ground’s surface. Then on Valentines Day 1981 a twelve-year-old boy was nearly killed when he fell into a steaming sinkhole created by the mine fire.”

The US Post Office discontinued the municipality’s zip code back in 2002. The few elderly residents who still live there have been legally allowed to remain until their deaths, after which Centralia will officially become a ghost town.

For more information, click here and here.

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Photo by Stacia via Flickr.
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Photo by Randy Roberts via Flickr.
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Photographer unknown.

Creepy Eats

I have your breakfast, lunch, and dinner planned out for you. Check out the latest in “Freaky Food News” below.

  • Dunkin Donuts just debuted a new line of Halloween-themed doughnuts, with names like the Spider, the Boston Scream, the Full Moon, and the Nilla Nightmare. (View all the flavors here.)

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They even got the “pumpkin guy” to dance in sequined purple spandex for their commercial. Awesome.

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  • Forget Starbuck’s PSL (that’s so two years ago). The newest hardcore October coffee drink is the “Goth latte.” What makes it black is the inclusion of health-beneficial charcoal.
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Photo by Nadeengho via Instagram.
  • Speaking of pumpkin spice, in case you haven’t heard, pumpkin spice pizza is a thing that exists now. It can be found at Villa Italian Kitchen in New Jersey. The toppings are pumpkin-pie filling and mozzarella cheese. And no, I’m not trying it.
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Those are not pepperoni slices on top of the cheese. They’re dollops of pumpkin puree. DOLLOPS!
  • Too bad Burger King isn’t making its black Halloween Whopper anymore. But this genius had the foresight (or perhaps the lack of sanity?) to save and freeze his for two years. Click the photo below to see what’s under the wrapper.
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Photo by Dinosaur Dracula.

The Invisible Veil

First of all, happy October!! In honor of our favorite month, if you will indulge me, I would like to share my recommendations for perfumes that to me evoke fall and Halloween.

Perfume is another one of my interests, and really, fragrance and Halloween have something in common: They both offer transformative means of escape from reality. In a sense, perfume is another type of costume — one that can be worn any day, and anywhere.

Below, in no particular order, are my descriptions of scents that I own and love to wear this time of year. (And for all of you synesthetes out there, I’m even including a color-association label with each one.)

Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 7.24.41 AMElixir des Mervielles, by Hermes: This scent would by some be considered a summer scent because it has an unmistakeable saltwater accord. However, I include it here because it contains ambergris, one of the most unique natural substances on the planet. Ambergris is derived from, as one of my favorite perfume bloggers put it bluntly, “whale hairballs.” It is literally a mass of undigested squid regurgitated from the stomach of a whale, which over time turns gray as it hardens in the waves. It is the musk of the sea. Throughout history, witches have used this magical stuff in passion spells and sex potions.

In addition to the ambergris, which is the source of the perfume’s oceanic smell, Elixir des Mervielles also contains a dark chocolate undertone, and a sparkling citrusy effervescence for a top note.

Perfume “color”: Deep orange

Nirvana Rose, by Elizabeth and James: This rich scent is sexy and velvety, but also as pitch-dark and cold as a coffin. Something about the way the rose accord blends with the oud creates a smell that’s very similar to the scent of a fresh leather glove, or an unridden leather saddle. It’s one of those haunting aromas you can’t stop sniffing.

Perfume “color”: Darkest blood red (almost black)

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Image by Cnsoup.

Youth Dew, by Estee Lauder: I know, I know — worst perfume name EVER. Total misnomer, actually; there’s nothing about this fragrance that smells young or dewey. Instead, it has the rich scent of cinnamon, clove, and dark resin. There’s a certain opulence to it — something almost oriental, but more austere. It smells like a pile of wood cut for a bonfire in a fall cabin, left there to gather a pleasant mustiness over the decades, and the warmth of skin brings out a maple-syrup sweetness. It epitomizes autumn for me.

Perfume “color”: Dark brown

Patchouli: This note has gotten a bad rap after becoming associated with hippies and headshops, but it’s actually the grounding source for many popular mainstream scents, like Christian Dior’s Miss Dior and Thierry Mugler’s Angel. And as I’m sure most of you know, patchouli is the basis for the much-loved Yankee Candle “Witches’ Brew.” It makes my list of Halloween recommendations because, when pure, it smells like wet earth — like, perhaps, dirt being dug for a fresh grave in a forest cemetery.

Perfume “color”: Black

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18 La Lune, by Dolce & Gabbana: It is beyond cool that D&G released this line of perfumes, which is inspired by Tarot cards. This one (La Lune, meaning “The Moon,” number 18 in the major arcana) is my favorite of the series, which also includes 1 Le Bateleur (“The Magician”), 3 L’Imperatrice (“The Empress”), 6 L’Amoureaux (“The Lovers”), and 10 La Roue de la Fortune (“The Wheel of Fortune”).Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 12.12.44 AM

The moon Tarot card symbolizes our subconscious, dreams, and intuition. It can be a warning that we are being irrational or following an illusion, or it can be a reassurance that things are not as they appear. The mysteries embodied by this card are depicted effectively in 18 La Lune, which interprets it as a light, ghostly scent. Delicate as moonlight itself, the ethereal fragrance is clean and slightly powdery — like Ivory soap cut with pale irises — but has a touch of white pepper.

Perfume “color”: White

Chanel No. 22: Once I was stuck in midtown Manhattan looking for shelter from a sudden rainstorm. I ducked into a very small, but very beautiful church, which has staggeringly high Gothic arched ceilings covered in inky blue paint dotted with seven-pointed stars (see photo below). While there, I was spellbound by the smell of the place: the old, fine stone walls filled with a heady, remarkable incense. I asked an usher and found out they actually make the incense there, in the church’s basement. And incidentally, this is also the scent captured by Chanel No. 22. Picture the classic smell of incense, but without all of the smoke: freshly cracked black pepper and sweet pine. Add to this an uplifting shimmer, almost like the fizz of champagne. If ever a scent could be described as holy, this is it.

Perfume “color”: Gold

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Photo by Rafael Concepcion.

Court of aPEELs

As if K-Mart’s luck ain’t bad enough.

Now (what’s left of) the corporation is being sued by a New Jersey costume manufacturer called Rasta Imposta (which should perhaps win by virtue of the sheer genius of its name alone).

Recently, after 9 years of a presumably blissful partnership, K-Mart abruptly stopped buying banana costumes from Rasta Imposta. And now, in a desperate attempt to meet customers’ overwhelming demand for zany fruit-shaped onesies, K-Mart had the nerve to start selling knockoff banana costumes.

According to jilted Rasta Imposta, who has claimed copyright infringement, K-Mart’s new banana suits have “the same shape, the ends of the banana are placed similarly, the vertical lines running down the middle of the banana are placed similarly, the one-piece costume is worn on the body the same way, and the cut out holes are similar.”

Oh really? You mean like every other banana costume ever made? Pardon me if I don’t seem shocked.

See pictorial evidence below for a visual comparison of the two designs. Is the new getup a blatant ripoff of the former? You be the judge.

The old version sold by K-Mart, designed by Rasta Imposta.

 

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K-Mart’s new banana costume.

If I were a defense lawyer for K-Mart, I would point out the following discrepancies: The new design has a weird yellow elf hat instead of a “face hole.” It also has creepy Mr. Potato Head facial features and a mustache, inexplicably placed on the torso. And it clearly hangs loosely off of the body rather than retaining its form.

My verdict: Due to the unfortunate features added to the new design, it really does not look like a clone of the old one. Rasta Imposta should just take comfort in the fact that their banana was far superior.