Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XIX

It was better than last year, but that isn’t saying much. The Treehouse of Horror really has lost its edge compared to years gone by. It used to be an amusing parody of classic horror stories or spoofs on horror movies. At the very least it mocked some common fear. When you look at the classic episodes that centered around The Raven, The Shining or The Twilight Zone, the craptastic episodes we get now are bland and boring and seem to be put together with everyone on autopilot. They lack the subtle humor of the previous episodes and seem to be going more for shock value or perhaps even cartoon violence. Basically the episodes are just boring.

The spoof of The Great Pumpkin held a lot of potential, but it turned out to be boring and pretty damn silly. An ill tempered pumpkin wreaking havoc actually sounded pretty amusing, but the way they worked it out, it just went no where and wasn’t even funny.

And that opening scene of Homer trying to vote for Obama, was that supposed to be witty political satire? They need to go back and check the classic pieces of Halloween terror. While presidential elections might make your hair stand on end and make you fearful of the future, they really don’t rank up there as dark fiction. And that I expect the Simpson’s to be dark and scary, but these latest stories don’t even rate an amused chuckle at who they’re ripping of…

With the Treehouse of Horror now behind us, Halloween truly is over. Maybe next year they can come up with something better. I knew there was a reason I didn’t actually watch the Simpsons TV show anymore.

Treehouse of Horror XIX

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Ghost Hunters Live Halloween 2008

I finished the live Halloween special over the weekend and for the most part it’s pretty entertaining and keeps your interest. Unlike the Stanley hotel which seems to have plenty of ongoing activity, Fort Delaware was definitely creepy with atmosphere and it’s imposing presence, but the overall activity was rather absent.

There were some good moments in the tunnels were Grant seemed to hear voices and had something tugging on his jacket. There also seemed to be the occasional knock and something happening off screen, but generally the place was quiet.

Josh does an excellent job of hosting the event. His quick wit and ability to improvise to the onscreen activity is fun to watch. Steve Valentine shows a curiosity about the events and asks questions about the equipment, history and events of the Fort. He seems like an eager student with amusing comments sprinkled in.

Amanda Tapping and “The Miz” seem generally interested in the Fort and exploring the paranormal. Amanda follows along through the entire program, asking questions, heading into the tunnels, and immersing herself in the environment. The Miz wants to see or experience something and seems to get a little disturbed after several hours of not seeing anything. Unfortunately he gets paired up with Joe and Kristyn who, in my opinion, are crappy investigators and were a real distraction for the show. Maybe she was being told to, but Kristyn is constantly trying to get Miz to talk about wrestling and his career. Even Joe keeps bringing it up. Perhaps that was part of the promotional deal, but it’s so annoying and completely detracts from the mood of the evening.

But putting that aside, Joe and Kristyn are the worst part of the event. Their hunting style is juvenile at best and just like the Waverly Hill investigation last year, they are unpleasant to watch, moody and act like being at the Fort inconveniences them. Honestly, take them off the show. They spoil the mood and their offerings to the show are non-existent. Perhaps even the Miz got sick of their shit since you don’t see him during the last hour of the program. Maybe he got tired of their nonsensical babbling and decided to find something else to do. I know there is no way in hell I would hang out with those two for 7 hours.

Steve and Tango seem to get a little silly as the night wears on and spend a little too much time goofing off than investigating. They don’t seem to be following their normal investigative style. You can easily see that their antics could be covering up noises or responses they might otherwise hear. Not that I take all this paranormal stuff so seriously that they can’t have some fun on Halloween, but I guess if you’re there you should be trying to find some evidence or at least debunk a few things.

There are several technical issues with the show, but that is somewhat to be expected with a live show, especially one from a truly remote location. I’m sure those will all be corrected for the DVD to be released next year. Again, it lacks and true defining paranormal moment. The big activity is an odd voice telling the group “You don’t belong here” and some tugging on Grants jacket. The Fort didn’t really seem to have that much activity, but the show is still very neat to explore and I’m sure the GH team had one hell of a time walking around it’s dark corridors on Halloween.

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Halloween Tally

So I went back and checked my work and I carved 18 different pumpkin carvings this year. I had several pumpkins with multiple carvings in them, especially my final Halloween pumpkin which had 4 patterns around it.

2008 Halloween Pumpkins

The total number of pumpkins used for the year was actually 9. That would also be the same number of toilet paper rolls I used. I did make one addition and used a paper towel roll, but it didn’t last very long so I had a backup toilet paper roll at the ready. You really do get some odd looks when you show up at someone’s house carrying a can of gasoline, a pumpkin and toilet paper rolls. It’s either going to be a wild party or no one’s making it out alive.

Side note for all of you out there playing the home version, while the paper towel roll looks pretty cool and does shoot a pretty good flame, it doesn’t last very long at all and you will either need a second roll or more toilet paper if you want to get the full experience.

Around 4 gallons of gasoline were used to soak the paper rolls and propel the flames up to the Gods. I used a 5 gallon gas can and went through most of my supply. One thing to note here, while gasoline is a fair bit cheaper it stinks to high heaven while you’re working with it. And there is also that nagging back of your mind idea that a spark is going to ignite the fumes while the whole thing is sitting in your garage. So while lamp oil doesn’t smell anywhere near as bad and the fumes aren’t going to go off unexpectedly, it costs nearly 2-3 times as much at $9 a gallon. We’ll have to see what gas prices are like next year. You never know, gas may be 5 times more expensive than lamp oil next go round.

Some people suggested I use the Coleman fuel for the pumpkins since it’s supposed to burn white and look really cool. That might be amusing to try once, but since that costs around $12 a gallon, I don’t think I could afford to do it too many times. It sounds pretty neat though.

There was also the idea of combining boric acid and methanol to create a green flame. Either I’m looking in the wrong place or this stuff just isn’t that readily available. I couldn’t find any of these materials at all. Of course this gives me the idea of trying to make colored flames for next year. I will have to look into that and see what I can come up with. It sounds like a pretty fun experiment and now I have a full year to find my chemicals. I’m sure Homeland Security will have no problem with me ordering this stuff.

It was a heck of a month, but I shudder to think how much I actually spent. Quite frankly if I have my way for next year, the bill is going to go up astronomically. I might end up in some sort of rehab if I keep this sort of behavior up.

Flaming_Pumpkins-7_051All the carvings were pretty impressive and I believe I have now mastered the art of pumpkin lighting. But, out of all of them, I think this one is the most impressive visually. It has some wicked flames coming out of it and it had some great height. There is just something about that trident of fire that looks really cool!

I have plenty of ideas for next year so while Halloween has just passed, I need to start asking around on how I can pull off some of my plans. And I have to figure out how to pay for it all.

Once again, a big tip of the hat to Zombiepumpkins.com for the great carving patterns and to Extremepumpkins.com for the wild ideas and getting the big kids involved in Halloween.

Don’t forget, you can see the entire 2008 pumpkin collection by clicking the link.

Or you can click to go to Webshots and see the collection with larger image sizes.

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Halloween Night Spectacle

I know you’re anxious to hear about my Halloween so let’s get on with all the juicy details and then you can see the spectacular display that my award winning pumpkin put on.

First off, I work for a company that thinks Halloween is a great holiday. In fact, they reward you for wearing costumes and getting into the spirit of things by letting you go home early. Everyone who got dressed up went into the back parking lot and had their picture taken. It was by department and then by grouping of costumes such as Angels and Devils, Villains and Heroes, Thugs and Badasses. Just the comic relief of that alone was worth getting into a costume. My costume was very simplistic – a chef; a chef who served up flaming pumpkin pie, but a chef none-the-less. It was simple and straightforward, but I needed something I could wear and still take pictures with as well as light pumpkins on fire. I was stylish yet fully functional.

There was also a pumpkin carving contest. Clearly this had my name all over it. My offering was a 30lbs behemoth with 4 different faces carved into it – Jason, Scream, Michael Meyers and the Reaching Hands. Yeah I know I should have carved Freddie, but there simply wasn’t room.

In a surprising turn of events, I won the contest. A big thank you to Zombiepumpkins.com for the templates I used to take home the prize. So I get bragging rights for winning the first pumpkin carving contest the company held.

After getting out of work early (2:30pm) I got my son and we carved some more pumpkins for the night’s festivities. You can’t really have a Halloween without carving a pumpkin on the day now can you? We hacked and slashed our way through two more carvings and prepared for the little treaters.

The night was going to get hot as I planned on setting my winning pumpkin ablaze with a new idea of using a paper towel roll. There was also the added excitement of fireworks. The big crackers are legal in this state and we had several on hand to raise the dead and test the structural integrity of the pumpkin walls.

Halloween Flaming Pumpkin We did manage to light up the night with my pumpkin and it was a stunning display. The flame was massive with flames shooting out the side. I actually did this one for a crowd of friends and it left them speechless and looking for cover.

We only managed to get a few of the fireworks off before some lameass called the cops who told us we needed to knock it off. It was 11pm on Halloween! Who the hell calls the cops? Needless to say we were extremely disappointed. We had well over $150 worth of gunpowder at the ready and now we were being told to stop. Strangely the officer said nothing about the cauldron of fire in the middle of the backyard so I guess it’s all good.

It’s been one heck of a month. I’ve lost count of the number of pumpkins I’ve carved so far. It’s probably pretty close to 20, but I will need to count to find out. I have pictures of all of them so I can go back and see what I’ve done.

So anyway, enjoy the photos and let me know what you think. I already have new ideas for next year. It’s my goal to combine pumpkin burning with the chemistry of fireworks. We’ll see what I can put together before next year.

If you want to see larger versions of the photos which can be used for desktop wallpaper and the like, you check out my Halloween gallery at Webshots.

 

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