Back in (Orange and) Black!

Greetings, Halloween lovers! It’s the first day of September: time for the triumphant return of the Skeleton Key!! Welcome back, and thanks for joining me.

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As you know, on this blog you can find tributes to all things related to October 31st: from black burgers to Tarot cards, from how to scream to how to rap about Freddy, and everything in between.

This year’s lineup includes the history of the Ouija board, a metal band inspired by a benign cartoon character, a historical celestial event witnessed by thousands, and an interview with a REAL vampire.


So have you started celebrating yet? If not, now is the time to start making your Fall Funky Jamz [don’t call it that] playlist, stocking up on your autumn-scented candles, browsing pop-up costume stores, taste-testing the newest seasonal candy, planning which horror movies you want to watch, and catching up on all the BEST Halloween blogs.

And don’t forget to bookmark your current URL and check back here every day or two for all manner of new and terrifying content. 😉

Look, people: Halloween is lurking right outside our window. Let’s join in the fun!



Guinness Book of World Terrors

Here are a few highlights from the Guinness Book‘s Halloween-related records.

1. Over in the U.K., where our holiday originated (more on that later), an American driver and “GPS artist” drove 6,080 miles (that’s a lot of mix tapes and beef jerky!) to create the England-sized Halloween image below. “Over 264,000 positions were recorded with the Corsa’s GPS receiver and linked together like a virtual dot-to-dot drawing, using Great Britain as a giant canvas.”

Love it.

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2. The highest-grossing horror film is NOT A HORROR FILM.

It’s … Twilight.

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Oh no you didn’t!

(Before that, it was Saw III.)

3. This guy holds the world record for trapping the highest number of murdered souls inside jack-o-lanterns.

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Just kidding. But he did carve ONE TON of (that’s at least 200) pumpkins in a row, in about 3 and 1/2 hours.

Though that was the record for volume, Mr. Clark later also snagged the record for speed by carving a pumpkin (“including eyes, nose, a mouth, and ears”) in 16.47 seconds.

I think it could’ve been 15 seconds if it weren’t for the ears. (Ears?? Why ears? Who does that??)

4. A sweet, meek little British lady holds the most ironic claim to fame: she has the loudest scream on record, at 129 decibels (for scale, you should know that a police whistle is 80 dBA and thunder is 120 dBA).

5. Finally, we have the Largest Clown Collection, owned by a German woman named Orty. (She’s the one with the big red nose.)

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In 15 years she has adopted 2053 clown children, if you will. (And I do believe that’s the freakiest way I can say something that is already very, very freaky.)

Halloween Perfume?

Image from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab website

I get a lot of pleasure and meaning through experiencing sights, sounds, and other art that plays on the senses. And this is why I love perfume. I don’t wear it all the time–and I certainly try to keep my application to a minimum–but I enjoy smelling beautiful scents. Even more, I love reading about a perfume, finding out what its “notes” are, what year and where it was formulated, and what the inspiration was behind it.

So it was only a matter of time until this interest intersected with my passion for Halloween. Is there a Halloween-related/inspired perfume? The first thing I found was “Halloween” by Jesus Del Pozo. But considering the fact that this perfumer also has a scent called “Halloween Kiss” and “Halloween Water Lily,” I am skeptical about whether he really understands the holiday. Still, I will order a sample online.

Far more intriguing, more inspired, and more imaginative is the work of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. This Victorian-style perfumer is located in California and only opens the doors of its physical building once every full moon (!). They release a new line of scents every fall in honor of Halloween, with names like “Samhain,” “All Soul’s Day,” “Graveyard Dirt,” and “Devil’s Night.” And their website includes wonderful descriptions of each scent–including its notes and often a poem or image that captures its mood.

For example, here are a couple of quotes from their scent descriptions:

  • For the scent called Vampire Bride: “Icy skin touched by a perfume of violet leaf, white tea, olibanum, elemi, myrrh, wormwood, crypt dust, and saffron with a dribble of blood red musk.”
  • For October 2011: “When woods begin to wear the crimson leaf, And suns grow meek, and the meek suns grow brief, And the year smiles as it draws near its death. Dry, cold autumn wind. A rustle of red leaves, a touch of smoke and sap in the air.”
  • For Boo: “Eerie billows of spun sugar, fluttering white cotton, and sheets of cream.”
  • For Nothing But Death: “A dark purple river swelling with tears of rain, damp violets, and specks of bone thick with green scents that speak of mortality: black dried fruits, opopponax, moss, violet leaf and petal, tobacco absolute, saltwater accord, niaouli, and brushed sage.”

And in other Halloween-perfume news, the well-respected (despite its rather undignified name) perfume blog Perfume Smellin’ Things has an article on dark-rose scents that sound perfect for Halloween.

Etsy Halloween Finds

Etsy, the online handmade craft store, is a wonderful place to get Halloween decorations and gifts that are totally unique. Here are a few particularly amazing Etsy items I found today. If I hadn’t just dropped $50 on decorations at Home Goods, I’d buy them all!

The Spooky Houses Halloween Necklace is pretty adorable.

I’m in love with this Howling Moon Wreath but can’t afford it.

Here’s a beautiful Spider Web Bowl.

Last year I bought a skull print from the creator of this Anatomical Print on Vintage Latin Dictionary.

I found some great letterpress Fall Tree Greeting Cards …

… and Halloween Crow Party Invitations.

And just for fun, here are a couple of hilariously not-so-good Etsy Halloween items (from Regretsy, the “fail blog” for Etsy crafts).

Pumpkin cozy?
A vegetarian noodle bowl costume for your kid ... but WHY?

Roseanne: The Halloween Episodes

"I've got a splitting headache!"

Roseanne was a pretty great show, but none of the episodes were as genius as the annual Halloween specials. It always brought me joy to see one randomly in syndication on TV, and then last year I was delighted to find that Amazon sells a DVD collection of all 8 Halloween episodes*. And you know what? They’re all good.

There is something so classic about these episodes. They are the archetype of The Halloween Episode–the perfect mold from which others were later cast. For me, watching these gives me an immediate feeling of nostalgia. It evokes memories of the late 80s/early 90s, when I was a preteen and the show was still on the air. More importantly, it reminds me of that special feeling of this time of year. It’s not business as usual anymore, even for shows like Roseanne that had continuity in their story lines. There is an occasion–something special–going on, and the creators of this show spent time and energy paying tribute to it.

And this is one of the great wonders of Halloween: effort. People collectively paying attention to something and putting effort into making it special. We see traces of human thought , creativity, and planning in all different forms of tribute: whether it’s a decorated doorstep of a house, the colorful candy-and-masks aisle in a store, or an original costume. It’s something different, something that doesn’t blend into the background of normal life.

On one of the special features of the DVD, Roseanne herself gives commentary during an episode. In it, she says that her show was the first sitcom to officially have Halloween episodes. She claims that at first, the network totally fought against the idea, but eventually she prevailed. So even if Roseanne’s grating voice gets on your nerves, you gotta give her credit for starting an amazing television trend.

*Side note: When the hell is the Simpsons going to finally put out a collection like this?

The Halloweener

If you like the New Yorker, you might be interested in seeing some of their holiday spirit…

Amazing cover design.


Of course, many of the famous New Yorker cartoons have been inspired by Halloween and are definitely worthy of a chuckle…

And I only recently discovered that the original Addams Family appeared in cartoon form on the pages of the New Yorker.