Octoberific Day

Some days you just can’t help but recognize them for what they are. The chill in the air with no humidity, a brilliant blue sky that looks almost black the higher up you stare; how can one possibly be expected to work on a days like these? So, that’s exactly why I blew it off to have an adventure. And I highly recommend you do the same before the calendar flips to November.

It seems to happen like clockwork this time of the year. I warned everyone in the office months ago that during late September and October I will be throttling back on projects and travel but the opposite transpired. So far in the past three weeks I’ve been handed two multimillion dollar account opportunities and acquired them both, thrusting me into more than 60 hours of intense work that leaves me at night nursing a glass of wine while staring blankly at a computer screen. The drafts of Halloween posts number in the twenties but they are without wit or charm. It reads like a dull salesman with a bad back who is forced to enjoy a bouncy castle then told to write whimsically about it. The result is rushed, without heart and if excellent writers like J.W. Ocker and Matt Caracappa have taught me anything it is quality over quantity wins every time.

I needed this day to put myself and the Halloween Hell Show back on track. Between the massive workload and the unexpected hurricane, October is zipping by in a blur and the show has had serious neglect. If there was any hope in doing so a physical action was needed because in many ways, physical motion leads to a positive mental emotion. It’s science, man.

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First: The music. My choice to get into the perfect Halloween mood is absolutely the Halloween Pandora station. For what ever reason, it seems to have been contoured to exactly what I like. A bit of oldies, a bit of the 80’s, some soundtrack classics and even some spooky jazz. I get up early and crank it up.

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Second: Fill the crock pot up! If the mood of the season needs to hit on all notes, the house has to smell right and there is nothing better than long slow cooking to accomplish that. My go-to choice is always pot roast. I believe I have perfected this one from years of watching The Food Network. Taking recipes from various chefs and putting in a little of my own additions (hot peppers), it’s hard to argue with this one. Also, I learned the use of corn starch for gravy. I am growing up! This recipe and crock pot speed will engulf your home with the best fall smell imaginable and combined with $50 Yankee candles, it’s an olfactory orgy of Halloween.

IMG-7700 Third: Grab a friend and seek out the most sincere roadside pumpkin patch. This one is a biggie. Seeing how I don’t have many friends who can take off on a workday afternoon, I had to enlist my dogs. Summer seemed the most eager and while the others would be happy to adventure with me, she is the one I could count on to not puke in my new car.

IMG-7697 I have been reconnoitering the area so I knew of a few pumpkin patches to visit but there was one in particular that demanded my visit. It was the perfect blend of nostalgia and country making every picture look like an airline travel magazine spread. The day was getting later and the shadows grew long in the orange light. Summer was trying to take in all the excitement as best as she knew how but after some frustrating photo attempts, the strain was too much and she succumb to what a lab puppy must do. She jumped into the apple bin spilling about forty-plus apples. Cost: $37.40.

IMG-7695IMG-7720 All-in-all, it was a nice trip to the pumpkin patch with a girl who still needs to grow out of her impulsion. I now have more apples than I know what to do with so it looks like my neighbor will have plenty for pies. I’ll just skip the fact they were paw selected.

Forth: Get Halloween junk food! After the trip to the pumpkin patch I decided I needed some other items and definitely fall beer if I was to cap off the day properly. Perhaps some firewood for the outdoor fire pit as well? I left the car running with Marylin Manson covering Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas songs on the radio while Summer was in timeout for her apple episode.

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I don’t know what happened but I was on such a Halloween-High I passed by the Halloween junk food display and went mad. We all go a little mad at times, right? I began shoveling in everything that had a witch, was orange and black, gummy or chocolate, both evil and benign. I must have looked like I was on a grocery store game show and the clock was ticking. The last time I went this carefree in a grocery aisle was when I ate a death wing challenge and emptied half the anti-acid shelf.

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Before we went home we stopped at my favorite little beer bar which happens to be dog friendly. Still a little wary of Summer’s puppy-like impulsion, her lead was a little shorter. The people there are always so charming and the fact Halloween 4 was on the TV, the decorations were displayed with heart, it was clearly the perfect last stop of the afternoon.

When we got home from an afternoon of fall scenes and adventure, the house smelled like heaven. I unloaded the haul and started the backyard fire while sipping on a fall IPA. I made the conscious effort to stop and listen to the breeze blowing leaves from the trees, the crackle of the fire and kids off in the distance playing outside. The dim orange glow illuminated the yard and I started to truly embrace this time of the year. I needed this.

IMG-8048 Later that evening my buddy called and asked what I was up to and I told him about the kickass autumn day I had including Summer’s assault on an apple bin. But we were not done yet! The new Halloween movie with Jamie Lee Curtis opened that night and I had completely forgot! It was as if Samhain orchestrated this entire day to give back the spirit so many were trying to suck out. I got on Fandango and holy shit, the 10:30 showing looked completely empty.

After dinner and fifteen cowtails (candy not the actual cow’s tail), I waited on Paul to arrive to have a pumpkin beer before heading out to see the new Halloween and end this Octoberific day the best way possible. I blared Oingo Boingo’s “Dead Man’s Party” from my ridiculous office and probably posted too many embarrassing pictures on social media but I didn’t care. I was going to see Halloween on the big screen for the first time in twenty years with my good friend.

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It was the perfect end to the perfect day. Well, perfect is a strong word. There are always people I want to share these days with but if you can’t be around people, a cute lab is the next best thing. I’ll post more on Halloween if not to at least acknowledge the time capsule for the 2018 Halloween Hell Show. I liked it. I liked it a lot.

I challenge you to get out there and have an Octoberific day. Just embrace it all, even if it’s sitting in the park sipping on cider. Don’t let the daily drudge steal this away because that drudge is here all year-long. It can wait.

Halloween at Applebee’s?

Boy, it has been a busy few weeks. It’s a hell of the thing running a sales team, starting a  company, raising a zoo, traveling around the US and running a two month-long Halloween show. There are never enough minutes in the day but we must persevere anyway. I believe it was Matt from then X-Entertainment who said it best, “…Time wants to chop off my dick and feed it to Minutes the dog.”. I get that.

Now it’s on with the show.

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Last week I was cruising around the interwebs and noticed the restaurant chain Applebee’s was getting into the Halloween spirit by featuring a few spooky cocktails and even a $1.00 “Zombie” drink which turns out to be not worth the savings the next day. I coaxed a few friends to accompany me so I wouldn’t be the only one drinking four gigantic fishbowls full of Blue Curacao and telling the bartender my theories of Atlantis. Only in middle-age do I know thyself.

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Before I get into the Halloween cocktails I do need to address how awesome-ly retro and simplistic the Halloween decorations were there. Grilled chicken salads taste so much better under an orange and black streamer and I don’t think there is really anything better than a cozy bar on a chilly night this time of the season. It always made me wonder what the rush was to leave the Slaughtered Lamb?

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The first cocktail was the Cauldron Cocktail for only $5.00! It’s a mix of rum and fruit juices with a shot of Sprite for bubbly texture. Basically your average cocktail in a Florida beach resort but without having to sell your first-born to afford it. I wouldn’t say this is very spooky but I like the effort. Also, if Applebee’s was held at gunpoint this glass weighs about the same as a medium dog so it can double as a liquor/juice holder and a defensive weapon. IMG-7009

Next we tried the two premium cocktails; Dracula’s Juice and Boo Lagoon. Dracula’s Juice was actually pretty good because it had the added element of frozen lemonade which helps even out the super sweet Razzmatazz. I am not a huge Razzmatazz fan unless I am playing Scrabble.

Boo Lagoon is absolutely adorable in name only. Well, the name and the gummy shark. Blue Curacao and I parted ways years ago at Myrtle Beach. I won’t go into detail but let’s just say a certain someone is not invited back to a certain amusement ride.

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Now for the main event. Appleebee’s decided to go all in on a one dollar horror drink made from Bacardi Rum, passionfruit, cherry and a splash of Sprite but really the magic is the gummy brain resting on top. It’s made quite an impact around the web so I think this will be a big hit for 2018. Is it as cool as a Candy Corntini from Rockafellas in Salem, Massachusetts? No way but it is pretty good for a place that has a long list of banned patrons across the country. You haven’t lived unless you’ve retrieved your car the next day from an Applebee’s parking lot in the hopes no one recognizes you.

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These days I’m not really that big on the drinking during a weeknight but on certain of occasions, one has to make an exception. I always find these little trips are what makes the season memorable, even if it’s clouded with a massive liquor/sugar hangover the following day.

So, A+ for the Halloween effort, Applebee’s! The price is right for what you get and the gummy candy brains are a nice touch. I probably would have preferred something to remind me of the event like a Halloween mug or something but for a dollar, what am I complaining about?

You can watch the Periscope live event reviewing all of these in Applebee’s with my friends here. It gets stupid but what do you expect? It’s Applebee’s and booze!

Casserole of Disaster Visits: Eastern State Penitentiary

better eastern1 Welcome back to the Halloween Hell Show as we continue our journey through the spookiest season of the year. Speaking of journey, this week we will be traveling around the country and world to some of the weirdest and creepiest places I have visited. It’s a segment I will call “Casserole of Disaster Visits”. (I know it’s lame)

Tonight we start out with what is believed to be the most haunted establishment in not just America but the world. A penitentiary which housed some of the most famous criminals to include Al Capone and Willie Sutton and broke just about anyone who entered its massive doors. This place is this infamous Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Opened in 1829, Eastern State was the first of its kind to bring reform through physical, psychological and spiritual strain, using isolation as the main tool of choice. An imposing structure which was constructed like a wagon wheel where each of the long blocks met in the center, housing hundreds of small single person cells. From the outside it looks like a fortress with its massive high stone walls making it feel nothing less than medieval. This place was without hope by design.

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Many prisons of the late 1800’s through the mid-1900’s required hard labor in general population to serve out a sentence but not Eastern State. The method of reform and penance was to live with one’s self in total isolation away from everything in a cell so small, the bed would take up most of the floor space. Prisoners had no windows other than a small skylight to ensure that even a glance beyond the walls to civilization was impossible. If they misbehaved, torture methods like freezing exposure or loss of circulation tied to a chair was the preferred punishment. This was an institution of psychological pain which was then referred to as “reform”.

The prison was finally closed down in 1971 and was left vacant (other than cats) until 1996 when parts of the cell blocks were refurbished enough to allow people back in as a National Historic Landmark. Tours are daily with the help of an audio headset voiced by the actor Steve Buscemi which is narrated quite well. My friend and I stayed on track for as long as we could but with time constraints we hustled to get as much in as possible minus Steve.

Watch the video of me talking about the Eastern State Penitentiary and my theory of how freezing water-torture came about. I’m not saying it is historically accurate but I am pretty sure it was just as stupid.

The Hell Show continues! Don’t forget tonight I will be doing something live and announcing tomorrow’s #CODAMN! I hope you can be apart of the craziness.

Halloween Bratwurst, Beer and Hot Sauce

Oh World Market. How I love thee, especially during the Halloween season. Every year you bring out the strange and unusual and fill my Hell Show with content. I can’t say great content but nonetheless, content.

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Over the last couple of Halloween Hell Shows, World Market has been the place to be for rare Halloween sodas and adult beverages. Unfortunately, this year the pace of new flavors has slowed in those particular categories but that is not slowing anything down here! Tonight I am reviewing a few items I picked up over the past week and will give them a fair shake in the CoD HQ.

I also picked up a large amount of “horror” themed beer and wine but that will have to wait for the weekend. Lately, the week days have been pretty slammed with work issues so no time for a foggy head during the 9 to 5.

Come join me for Halloween Brats, Beer and Hot Sauce from one of my favorite retail chains; World Market. If you are asking yourself how I filled twelve minutes in a video review I will tell you I don’t know. I just don’t know. But come watch anyway. Or just play it as background noise for Jack-o-lantern carving. Either way.

Ghosts and Goblins! A Halloween Story

I believe Halloween freaks like myself have that one event, memory or place which is the responsible for our undying love of the season, even into middle-age. For me, it was a book. As far back as I can remember, I loved this book and would take it almost anywhere. In fact, I can recall my parents concern I was become a little obsessed with it and offered almost anything to replace it or at least broaden my horizons. I heard none of it. This book took me to a weird, spooky place and even today, that is where I want to be. This book is Ghosts and Goblins.

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For almost thirty years I thought I had lost this book and it slowly drifted from memory until a fateful day when I was exploring my parent’s basement I was reunited with my beloved book. A little used and the cover is missing but still readable. It’s what is on the inside of the book that matters, no?

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Ghost and Goblins is a collection of old stories, poems and limericks from various sources but the real magic is the illustrations by Tim Kirk. They were so mesmerizing I don’t even recall reading much of the stories. Except for one. THE one. The story and illustration which terrorized an only child and would pop into mind late at night believing there were ghosts right outside the door. That story was “A Halloween Story” by Margaret Widderman and it solidified my love of October forever.

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My good Lord, look at what is happening in this room! These kids have no idea there are demons floating all around them but do seem generally taken with the story. There are jack-o-lanterns lit in the windows and hot chocolate with doughnuts on a plate making an absolutely rad-ass evening of fright. It reminds me of being a kid watching The Exorcist on TV knowing full well that in an hour I would sent to bed scared out of my wits. I don’t know why we do the things we do but that is what makes us the Halloween freaks we are.

“There was Something that howled around the chimney, And Something that rattled on the wall- And it wasn’t wind, the Thing, nor a tick-tock on a string, Nor anything they said it was at all:”.

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That stanza of the poem/story used to creep me out. It was like the part in a ghost movie when logic and reason starts departing as the characters begin to accept paranormal activity is afoot. I remember reading this under a blanket with Cheez-it dusted fingers listening closely as the house settled. Was that a ventilation duct expanding or was it Captain Howdy scratching outside the door? At that time, the latter seemed more plausible.

For better or worse, this book shaped my love for Halloween and all things creepy. Still to this day, I love thumbing through these pages getting the same delight I had at age seven. Tim Kirk’s imagination and illustrations make this book such a treasure and I am so grateful to have found it after all these years. I can’t tell you how hard it is to describe a childhood book in your late thirties. “It’s a book with demon ghosts sneaking up on kids eating doughnuts…has a rotting corpse in a tux reading a magazine on the inside cover…”.

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The Hell Show continues! Thanks for reading my story about reading. This is typically my favorite week of the season because finally no one gives me the side-eye when I dress in all black and orange. It’s a lonely summer.

Big Lots Were Wolf Rug!!!

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I don’t know how they do it but every year Big Lots strikes first and strikes hard with new animatronic Halloween decorations and this season is no exception. I have reviewed new items in the past from Big Lots and it always seems to be a little KB Toys to the Toys R Us, if you catch my drift. Very much a discount store with many of it’s items hovering close to their expiration date or selling cookware from celebrity chefs who fell from grace receiving facial wounds from a prostitute. (that’s a real thing)

I think where I am going with this is Big Lots isn’t known for high-end products. But that is when Halloween hits and holy cats, I dare you to find better for the cost. The aisles of Arizona teas from 1999 seem to drift away when the Halloween season comes around. And let’s just talk about the Halloween season at Big Lots! It starts in July!

Well, I can go on and on waxing love for this retail chain but tonight it is all about the queen of the dance; the Werewolf Rug. This beast comes in around $70 when I purchased it but looking now, they discounted the item down to $50 and for most households, this is still not even the Halloween season yet. Oh well, I still love this and buyer’s remorse won’t hit until December 23rd.

The notable cool features are the eyes which light up blue or red and has the iconic wolf howl. This can be activated through touch or even motion so you can also test out the new defibrillator on grandma when she visits.

All in all, it’s a cool product to start the season off with and I am going to try really hard not to do a posthumous Burt Reynold’s impression, if you know where I am going.

Watch my review and in the comments tell me your favorite werewolf movie. It’s a tough one for me but The Howling still gets me today. How about you, Bright Boy?

CoD Visits Greyfriars Kirkland Cemetery!

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Holy cats, my friends! I have been to a lot of freaky locations but this one is a doozy. Smack in the center of Edinburgh, Scotland is one of the most notorious cemeteries for the macabre and bizarre not to mention widely regarded as the most haunted in the entire world. THE WORLD! This place is Greyfriars Kirkland Cemetery and though I have heard of it in the papers and watched it on travel documentaries, it almost completely overwhelmed me in person. That is really saying something because I am usually an underwhelmed sort of guy. It’s my nature.

I couldn’t believe how easy it was to find because, well, I wasn’t looking for it at that exact time. Everything in Edinburgh looks so mysterious and spooky it isn’t hard to accidentally pass a notably haunted dungeon or spooky pub when looking for something  specific. Along any search you will find so many other places. It is as if God created a holy land for weirdos like myself because around every corner is breathtaking beauty with a touch of evil.

Established in 1560, the cemetery has seen quite a lot of turmoil in the old days of Scotland. Some of the capital punishments were so insane, movies today would probably not get an ‘R’ rating if they were truly accurate. The most notorious was the judge and death-dealer George Mackenzie who got his evil notoriety for the persecution of Scottish Covenanters, a Presbyterian movement in the 17th century. He would take delight in sentencing thousands to torture and beheadings, impaling the said heads on the cemetery gate spikes. He is now located in the Greyfrair cemetery inside the Black Mausoleum but that is not where his story ends.

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Not in the 1600’s or 1700’s or even in the 1800’s but as recent as 1999 a homeless guy was caught in the brutal Scottish winter and sought shelter anywhere he could find it. In desperation he broke into the MacKenzie Black Mausoleum to escape the icy rain. While in the tomb he began to break into the coffins to see if there were any valuables worth taking to sell. He took a step backwards and the entire floor gave way below. The vagabond landed in a long forgotten sealed room but this room was not empty at all. It was full of half-decayed corpses so well-preserved from the airtight vault most still had their skin and hair even after two hundred years.

The homeless guy, obviously panicked and covered in what can only be imagined, crawled his way out of the vault and through the mausoleum. He ran screaming out of the cemetery where he was met by a police officer who was terrified by the vision he was witnessing. What emerged from the tomb ever since that night is said to be something dark and malevolent and speculated to be the ghost of George MacKenzie himself!

The locals call it the MacKenzie Poltergeist and as of today there have been hundreds of people who have lost consciousness around the Black Mausoleum and many more reporting violent attacks especially when provoking…whatever resides in this tomb. I saw the tomb with my own eyes and brother, it is as evil as you can believe. Especially at night! I’ll get to that soon.

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Walking around the grave yard was a little spooky but mostly a trip back in time. Every chiseled mural is a look back in time to when death was around every corner. From wars to occupation to the Black Plague, it is all here. There are even bars over the ground to thwart grave robbers and ghoulish doctors from exhuming fresh corpses for study. Or…whatever they did with the bodies.

Here is a short little video of my daytime visit to the Greyfriar Cemetery where you can see the black tomb and other macabre visuals. And as a bonus they had a dog blessing in the cemetery at the same time!

So, long story short…I missed my train back to Aberdeen. I was waiting on the wrong track or had a few beers or whatever. The point is I missed my ride and had to stay a night in Edinburgh. Oh shucks.

What does one do in a beautiful city with such a tortured history that predates the United States by a thousand years? One goes back to the Greyfriar Kirkland Cemetery to see if the ol’ MacKenzie Poltergeist is real, of course! And that is exactly what I did.

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Thank goodness for liquid courage because had I done this without some “spirits” I may have pissed myself. Every scene was something out of the mind of Washington Irving. From silent crows staring from the walls while strolling closer to the gates to the ghostly howl of the wind, everything was shaping up perfectly to be found in the morning, babbling like a crazy person, huddled in a crypt.

IMG-1516Once again, I found myself in the place few venture alone. There was no one in the cemetery and it was well after midnight on a weekday so the random daredevils and curious ghost hobbyists were most likely doing something more productive. The only noises were the slight breezes moving through the dead leaves that were still hanging in the low branches. It was a scene that will forever stay with me and for that I am grateful.

There it is! The infamous Black Mausoleum right in front of me in the dead of night. The place were hundreds of documented attacks and injuries were reported by some invisible force. The spot where thousands were walled up and died a torturous death. The resting spot for one of the most evil beings ever to walk the Earth. The place were hundreds were executed in ways we couldn’t imagine. And it was there in front of me as time seemed to stop.

I sat there for a while nervously watching and listening to any odd changes that seemed out-of-place to the norms of the night. I tried to get the famous nursery rhyme that is said to enrage the MacKenzie Poltergeist into acts of violence out of my head. “Bluidy Mackingie, come oot if ye daur, lift the sneck and draw the bar!”. 

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I summoned up the courage to get closer and peered into the crypt, praying that red eyes wouldn’t be staring back from the blackness. I took the pictures and shot the video (which is too dark to see) and after a few more minutes decided I had over stayed my welcome. The feelings of overwhelming dread came over me. I have had this happen before in very few places. The only way I can describe it is like standing in the ocean on a sandbar and staring off the edge into the blackness of the sea. Nothing is there that you see but there might be something that can see you. It causes you to walk a little quicker with a purpose to find a way out. No rational explanation other than the fight or flight defense that is deep within our DNA.

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I got out unscathed. For the rational and non believers this might seem like a “no kidding” moment but I challenge anyone to peer into the blackness of the Black Mausoleum that has been the source of so much violent activity, the government has a UK warning of danger in this cemetery. Something is going on.

Thanks for coming a long with me to visit the Greyfriars Kirkland Cemetery in Ediburgh! Like the Japanese haunted forest, it was something I had to do and I am glad I get to share it.

Stay tuned for the next crazy place I found! This one will blow your mind!

Halloween!

Halloween Finds at Big Lots!

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The Halloween Hell Show continues a today I want to share some items I found at Big Lots that will make the season a little more spooky. If you are a YouTube watcher and have seen these reviews you know they get pretty silly but these items are definitely worth getting your hands on. Except the candle which smells amazing and mysteriously doesn’t smell at all after it is lit. But what can I say, Big Lots is known for a bargain and just like anything in life, you get what you pay for. ALWAYS!

Tonight I take a random five items I bought for the Halloween season and give a quick report on them. I only chose five because if I was to review the twenty other items this video would be longer than the Godfather because brevity is not something I am familiar with. Each of these five really spoke to me and if you they speak to you too, hurry up down to your local Big Lots and grab them up before the non-believers of Halloween scoop them up the last weekend before Halloween. I look at those people like a pious Catholic looks at the parking situation on Easter and Christmas during mass. They aren’t real Halloween fans, the fakers!

So kick back and watch me ramble on about Halloween items made on the other side of the world by people who have no idea why we would celebrate the macabre amazingness that is Halloween.

Much love!

 

 

 

Halloween Sodas!

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Holy cats! This one took a while to shoot, edit and re-edit. When you are so amateur to video reviews and Final Cut software you have to watch hours of YouTube tutorials from an eleven-year-old, it’s going to take a while for anything of substance. If you are not easily offended, you should definitely give this one a watch.

Probably what I love most about the Halloween season is the hunt. I love exploring all the shops come August and see what new additions there are to the market and no item better represents the macabre creativity like soft drinks. Hear me out.

Sure the name brands change their cans to include silly monsters but nothing beats the private little companies and their novelty Halloween beverages. There are no giant analyst meetings with board members judging if “Frankenstein Cola” will ruin people from their brand forever or stocks at risk before the end of a fiscal year. No, just fun people concocting strange brews to bottle and label with spiders and witches. I love it so very much and when you find them, it’s a race to social media to spread the spooky fun. What a weird little world I chose to live in.

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This year, World Market is the keeper of the faith with five new flavors over the previous years to include Lemon Drop Dead and Blood Orange from Jones Soda Company. We have Dr. Jekyll Pepper Elixir, Flying Cauldron Butter Beer, Salem Sister’s Green Apple, Cheshire’s Vanishing Cream Soda, and last but not least, Ghoulish Grape (It’s Fang-tastic!). All have their own little spooky magic and I taste them all for you with some help from beyond.

Come watch me summon the new Halloween Sodas that are exclusively at World Market from now until Halloween.

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