I’m That Kind of Ghoul

Happy Halloween

I know I’ve said it more than once and in more than one place, but I adore Halloween. The movie and the holiday. I like to spend the whole month of October indulging in it. This is why I spent most of the day on October 1st customizing my phone to a full-on Halloween theme.

Yes. I’m one of those people.

I don’t do it for every holiday. Hell, I don’t do it for any holiday. I’m usually rocking a Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett wallpaper, Power Rangers message tone for my texts, Mr. T telling fools to shut up to alert me to Twitter mentions, Crow giving his email address for my emails, Peanut Butter Jelly time as an alarm, and the radio tone from Emergency! to let me know about impending appointments.

But come October, I feel the urge to shelve my geekery for 31 days and go over to the dark side.

First thing I do is change my default ringtone to the Halloween theme. I also have a live Halloween wallpaper that includes lightning, flashing lights in windows, and Michael Myers popping up randomly. It also features blood that runs down the screen when I get texts and emails.

Speaking of those…

My text messages are now signaled by a werewolf howl. The suspense note from Halloween signals my emails.

Little Carol Anne from Poltergeist tells me “They’re here” when I get a mention on Twitter.

The Jaws theme is my wake-up call and Jason’s ki-ki-ki lets me know I have an appointment.

Okay, yes, this is all still very geeky. But it’s the dark side of geeky.

I love this time of year and this month.

I go all in for spooky.

In Dreams

Tylenol simple sleep and pills

I have weird dreams.

Everyone does, I know, but mine are made of the stuff that people fear. One person’s nightmare is my typical night. I rarely have what I would call bad dreams because my unconscious mind has set the bar that high. It might only happen a couple of times a year that I have a dream that disturbs me enough to prevent me from falling back to sleep.

For example, in the past two weeks, I’ve dreamed of being shot, stabbed (while being Joseph Gordon Levitt no less), and set on fire. In other dreams over the years, I’ve been in plunging elevators, fallen from ridiculous heights, and been crushed. I’ve been chased, stalked, bitten, drowned, and strangled. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve died in my dreams. You know that saying that if you die in your dreams, then you die in waking life? Not true. I’m living proof of that, so to speak.

My most frequent nemesis is Michael Myers. That guy has stalked my dreams since I was seven years old, since long before I watched even one Halloween film. Funny, isn’t it? It’s my favorite movie even though the Shape terrifies me in my sleep. I guess that’s the trade off. I love his work and he kills me in my dreams. I remember the time he stabbed me with a pitchfork. That was novel.

I’m not sure why brain works this way. It might have something to do with my love of horror films and horror fiction, the steady diet of horrific things that I’ve consumed since I was young. It makes some sense. Someone who enjoys the terrible while I awake would be entertained by it when asleep.

But not all of my dreams are bad. Some of them are just plain weird. Most people can make that claim. I don’t know why Vin Scully was blind and hanging out with Keith Moreland and Aretha Franklin in a Wal-Mart softlines section while I dressed mannequins, but that’s what happened. That’s what my brain conjured up to pass the sleeping hours.

Because weird and/or bad are the norm, certain medications tend to dial that up to eleven. I avoid taking Tylenol PM unless I absolutely have to because the dreams that have resulted from its consumption are too bizarre to even put into words. The sleep I get is hardly restful because I can’t wake myself up enough to reset my brain so I can get out of the dream hell I’m in. Darvocet has the same affect on me.

I admit to turning some of my dreams into short stories. Check out “Reality Unknown”. The three stories that are told are based on three dreams I had all in the same night. I’d wake up after each one. When I woke up for good in the morning, I wrote them down because I knew there was fodder for some bizarre story there. As much as I tried, I don’t think I did them justice. I just don’t have the skill to capture the true horror and WTFness of what went on in my brain that night.

Now I don’t want you to think that my dreams are all terrible, twisted things. Some of them are fun; some are downright hilarious. Of course, I’ve been known to have  a sick sense of humor.

Let’s just say that they work for me and for the most part, I enjoy them.

Sweet dreams.

Halloween Costume Mania!

I dress up for Halloween every year. Usually it’s just to hand out candy, but even if I did nothing, I’d probably still dress up. It’s my thing. As a Halloween purist, I find it to be a fun challenge to attempt to make a costume without spending more than twenty dollars. That means I try to use as much as I already have. I’ve been quite successful at it.

Here are the costumes I put together for the last five years (also photographic evidence of my weight fluctuation over the last five years if you’re into judging me for that sort of thing). Three of them cost me nothing. The other two cost me less than twenty bucks. I’m pretty proud of all of them.

Halloween 2006: Mercenary
Halloween 2007: A Teenager
Halloween 2008: Belly Dancer
Halloween 2009: Madeline Westen from Burn Notice
Halloween 2010: The Perfect Housewife
Halloween 2011: Patient Zero

Happy Halloween!

Writing–October Projects

Jack-o'-lanterns

I’ve really only got two projects in mind for October.

The first is a freebie project. To celebrate my favorite holiday, Halloween, I’m going to post a new freebie horror story every Wednesday, the last coming out on Halloween and being directly related to my favorite movie related to the holiday (like “How the Night Haunts”). So check the freebie page every Wednesday for a new fix. I’m still in the process of selecting the other three stories.

And I have to write the fourth.

No worries. It’ll be fine.

The second project is self-publishing my novella “Gone Missing”. Five people on Twitter said they’d read it and that sealed it for me. Okay, maybe not. Maybe it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while, but was on the fence because I thought I should give traditional publishing a shot at it first. And then I took a look at the market and went, “Yeah, okay, I’ll just do this myself.” My “not a fit” monster rises again.

I’m thinking it will be all digital unless there’s a sudden demand for print copies (I don’t think there will be). I just have to decide what venue to use.

The short story submitting continues. Battling my own insecurities about whether or not I should submit a story some place is rather tiresome, but it’s a very real obstacle that I’m dealing with. The finished stories are piling up.

It’s time to just bite the bullet and submit.

Costume Crazy!

Halloween is a great holiday. Aside from the candy and the month long flow of horror movies and the radio playing “Monster Mash”, “Werewolves of London”, and “Thriller”, dressing up is truly my favorite part. Even though I’m usually only dressing  up to pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters, I take it seriously.

I have a philosophy on Halloween costumes (any costume really). I believe that a majority of it should be assembled from individual pieces and that as little of it as possible should be bought. In other words, the slutty version of whatever costumes don’t cut it for me. Buying the entire costume already put together is no fun. Buying every separate piece of the costume and putting it together yourself is more fun. Spending absolutely no money on a costume and pulling everything together from stuff you already own is the best.

For me, Halloween is a challenge. I like to see what I can come up with stuff I already own and I try to spend as little money as possible doing it. This isn’t half-assing it, either. I’ve come up with some really good costumes that have gotten me plenty of compliments.

I like to dress up as my own thing, a twist on something typical. Last year I dressed up as the perfect housewife. I put on a shirt and skirt and my flats. I did up my hair and make-up. I wore pearls. And then I wore the bloody apron my roommate made for me for Christmas (it says “Killer Cook” on it and with blood splatters and bloody hand prints; I love it) and smeared my face and hands with some fake blood (I always have some on hand) and carried around a really nasty looking butcher knife. It didn’t cost me a thing to do that year.

The one costume I did that I felt got me the best reaction was when I dressed up as a beauty queen. For less than twenty bucks, I scored a silver paint pen, some black fabric, and a cheap tiara. I put on a red and black dress, high heels, did up my hair and make-up. I then smeared my lipstick and mascara and disheveled my hair, the tiara looking like it’d been almost pulled out and put hastily black. With the fabric and paint pen I made a sash that said “beauty queen”.

While passing out candy, two little girls came to the door. One of them asked me what I was and I told her I was a beauty queen. As they walked away, one girl leaned to the other and said, “Beauty queens aren’t supposed to be scary”. To this day, I don’t know that I’ve gotten a better compliment on a costume.

Occasionally, I’ll go as actual characters. A couple of years ago, for the cost of a cheap wig and a bracelet, I went as Madeline Westen from Burn Notice. After creator Matt Nix retweeted a picture of my costume, my mentions flooded with compliments.

This year I’m going as Hetty Lange from NCIS: LA. Eight bucks for a wig is all I spent. I think this will be another good one.

Little money doesn’t mean little effort.

On Trick-or-Treating

The last time I went trick-or-treating, I was seventeen and a senior in high school. It wasn’t one of those throw-on-a-mask-to-get-free-candy deals, either. My friends and I decked out in full-on, homemade costumes.

I dressed as a Monkeeman. My costume was spot on. It's almost 15 years later and I'm still proud as hell of it.

Most people think that trick-or-treating is a kid thing and once a kid gets of a certain age, they should stop doing it. When word got out that I’d gone trick-or-treating as a senior high school, not all of my friends were receptive. They thought it was wrong. Ridiculous. Childish.

For the record, no house we went to turned us down for candy. Some questioned us. It’s not a done thing, kids our age trick-or-treating. A few gave us a hard time. But it was hard for them to argue with us when we put more effort in our costumes than some of the parents dragging their kids around the neighborhood.

That’s how I look at it. The better costumes get the better candy, no matter what the age. If a 45 year old man decked out as a convincing Homer Simpson  showed up at my door, I’d be giving him Milky Way, while the 11 year olds who just smeared some fake blood on their faces would be getting my crap candy.

And yeah, I do get crap candy every year for just that purpose. I won’t turn anyone away, but I will make them wish they hadn’t bothered stopping at my house.

Though I haven’t gone trick-or-treating since high school, I do make it a point to dress up to pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters that show up to my house.

Consider it an inspiration to the youth that Halloween doesn’t have to stop when you’re thirteen.