Friday, December 31, 2010

Flight of a Million Bats

Brown Bat photo:
 It's official! 2011 has been declared The Year of The Bat by the United Nations Environment Programme. The idea of the campaign is to promote conservation, research and education on the world's only flying mammals. There are 1100 bat species in the world- around half of which are currently at risk. "Compared to animals like tigers and elephants, bats receive little positive attention," says Andreas Streit, Executive Secretary of EUROBATS, a European bat conservation group. "But they are fascinating mammals and play an indispensable role in maintaining our environment." Bats provide many ecological benefits, such as pest control and seed dispersal.

So in light of the New Year, may I present to you the one and a half million bats that live under the Congress Bridge in Austin, Texas. Video from a "Bat Tour" boat that goes under the bridge answers all your batty questions, and shows the flight of over a million bats at twilight (and no, they are not the sparkly vampires from 'Twilight' the movie.)

Have a Happy New Year (of the Bat)!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Devil Caganer

It's Christmas and I am working an 8-hour day here at the major public utility known as the Deathstar. What's wrong with this picture? Nothing. Nothing at all. 'Cuz I brought in some Hauntcast podcasts to catch up on. Hauntcast rocks. Halloween prop-talk at Christmas-  life is good.

I am also pondering an odd Christmas custom native to Catalonia. Catalonians set up Nativity scenes like many people do. But they also have a tradition of including a guest visiting the manger, and this guest behaves more like Borat than anything pure and innocent. Sorry if this is so gross you lose your Christmas dinner, but this guest is always a figure shown defecating at the manger to represent the desire for more fertile fields.  Defecating? Yep, and the figure can be of anyone fictional or living, they just have to have laid a variety of log that is NOT the Yule log, if you get my drift. So there are figures of sports stars and political figures in this pose. There's Hilary Clinton and the Queen of England and the Pope and Sponge Bob Squarepants. All defecating. And there's the devil. Look closely behind him- he's doing his thing. I love Catlalonia, but that is one strange custom.

photo: gurldogg

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Haunted Fire Bowls


Of course you want to keep warm during those chilly nights out on the patio. Or perhaps you greet trick-or- treaters and other visitors out on your front driveway, and want to do it in comfort and style.

Consider cozying up to this 37" diameter devil girl fire bowl. Hell yes, you'll be mesmerized by more than just the dancing flames when you gaze at this hot beauty. Standing 31" high it is made of rusted steel and has holes for drainage of rainwater. $700 on the price tag, but I'll bet no one else in town has one.

Other options:
View Image

The magic of the Moon and Star fire pit by Landmann USA, brings out the sorcery in a body. Only $109.

A little short on space? Perhaps a classic urn shape suits you best.

photo: PatioGlow

Tabletop urn is almost 15" high, it uses a one pound disposable propane tank, not included. Resin urn with included bag of lavarock, $44.99.

Monday, December 20, 2010

When Holidays Collide: Halloween Town

Love this one! Good for next year's Christmas card, perhaps?

Halloween Town in Burbank, CA, is one of my favorite places. But then, how can you NOT love a Halloween store that is open year-round? Lots of costumes and wigs, of course, but also some really great jewelry and a large selection of Halloween-related non-fiction books. I always enjoy their window displays, and the photos above show how it looks around Christmas. The photos below show some window mannequins as seen the rest of the year. (I don't know what the style of that man's cloak is called, but I like it. If you know, please let me know.)

I wish I could show you pictures from inside, but the employees watch you like a hawk. It's also insanely dark inside, all the time, necessitating a flash. You can't even try to sneak a shot using a cell-phone camera, or they'll take you out back, kill you and feed you to their mange-infested rats.
Well rules, schmools. On this day I was in a risk-taking mood. I daringly took one for the bloggers and managed a few photos that didn't even turn out blurry before an employee came to...uh... personally escort me.

Look! Decent quality Halloween housewares available all year! Be still your undead hearts!

I do sooo love to shop at Halloween Town. But next time I must bring someone who can cause some sort of  major distraction, so I can take more interior pictures for you.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Jack-o-lantern Wishes

And the Great Pumpkin rose from the pumpkin patch and flew through the air!

Those who believe can send a jack-o-lantern soaring with these sky lanterns. Made from flame-retardant materials, they'll glow eerily as they float silently, slowly upwards, lasting 12 to 20 minutes in the air before they extinguish themselves. All you do is light the attached fuel cell and hold the lantern until the heat fully inflates it, and then you can release it and it will drift upwards.  Available in packs of 5,10 or 25, they are currently on sale. My order for a 10-pack today totaled $33.35 including the shipping charges.

  These are considered type 1.4g consumer fireworks in the United States, so check the fireworks regulations in your area. Adults would be wise to avoid releasing these in windy conditions, near trees, power lines, or airports. Children should not be near the lanterns unless fully supervised by responsible adults. I will be taking my lanterns out to the desert for a pyrotechnic event that occurs near Valentine's Day. How romantic it will be to engage in the Asian custom of making a wish or saying a prayer before releasing a lantern and gazing at it as it rides a gentle current. The lanterns are made of biodegradable paper with no wires, just thin bamboo sticks, so they are more earth-friendly than you might guess.

Sky lanterns really make an impact when released in quantity.

Here's a 48-second video showing the effect of wish lanterns set adrift en masse at a celebration of the full moon in the capital of Thailand. It's spectacular.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Great Jack O Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor

photo: Historic Hudson Valley
 If you thought the Pumpkin House in yesterday's post had a lot of jack-o-lanterns, today's house tops it, although the pumpkin-to-acreage density is less. Oh, how I would LOVE to visit this place!

 Van Cortlandt Manor, 500 S. Riverside, Croton-on-Hudson, NY, had over 4,000 illuminated pumpkins decorating its expansive grounds this year. Although volunteers from the Girl Scouts and other groups scoop out the pumpkins, only about a dozen carvers hand-carve all of them!

  This 17th-century manor house, listed on the National Register, is home of the Great Jack o' Lantern Blaze, an event that started 5 years ago as a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization called Historic Hudson Valley. The organizers work on a larger scale than most, using both real and faux (Funkin) pumpkins stacked and suspended to create many specifically themed scenes, such an Egyptian pyramid with mummies standing nearby, Stonehenge, an underwater scene with coral, fish and seahorses, a dinosour scene, and a UFO surrounded by aliens!
Beehive with bees

Dinosuar made of pumpkins
Photo: Bryan Haeffele

Photo: Bryan Haeffele


 It takes about an hour to walk through the gardens and orchards and see all the jack-o-lantern installations.  Professional lighting, original music, and sound effects combine to completely immerse the viewer in the spectacle. And just when ya think it couldn't get any better: a local orchard sells hot apple cider and apple cider donuts. Yum!

The Blaze takes place each weekend in October and the first weekend in November. It's open some weekdays right before Halloween as well. Costs are approximately $16 for adults, $12 for kids 5 to 17, free for kids under 5. In 2010, the extravaganza reached its capacity of 70,000 tickets sold. More photos here.

Amazing, is it? Truthfully, I wouldn't mind visiting Van Cortland Manor anytime of year. Here's the Manor in spring. The place is on the side of the Hudson River, so there's also a brick ferry house to explore, as well as the heritage gardens. The stone manor house boasts a fully equipped Colonial kitchen.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Pumpkin House

The Pumpkin House, located at 748 Beech Street, in Kenova, West Virginia. The mayor of Kenova, Ric Griffith, is the owner of the house. He and hundreds of volunteers carve upwards of 3,000 pumpkins for display at his home every Halloween. What if every town had a mayor like that? What a wonderful world it would be.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Random photo: Halloween baby

I think that baby's gonna need a diaper change reeeal soon.

Someone setting up the display merchandise at at our local Party City had a sense of humor.
This giant prop hung from the ceiling, just above the baby shower row.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Haunted Address Marker

A first impression is a lasting impression. A blood-dripping address marker will say so much about you, right from the start. And what better way to send those annoying religion-peddlers packing than with a visual aid that tells them not only how you choose to live your live, but where you live it?  Now, that's curb-appeal!

3" high powder-coated address marker, currently $50.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Haunted Watering Cans

It's fall, and this beautiful, warmly-burnished pumpkin-shaped watering can just the thing to water your houseplants with. I particularly love the delicate look of the spout. It's only $22.99 from Just gorgeous, isn't it?

Okay, I admit it: as far as Halloween-themed watering cans go, I may be pushing it here for the next two items :) They have potential, but they definately need paint jobs to make them spooky. I'd recommend using Rust-o-leum spray paint to keep them looking their best.

Hen Watering Can

This owl watering can would look divine with a coat of gloss black spray paint, but I'm not sure where the pour spout is, and for some reason they're calling it a "hen" rather han an owl.   $50 from Global Amici.

Tabbie the Barnyard Cat Watering Can and Wormy Watering Sensor
And here we have a nice gray kitty that could easily be turned into a lovely black cat. Think how much nicer a black cat watering can would look compared to that Rubbermaid one you might be using now. You'd be proud to display him. $39.95 from

Here's another nice cat design, but it's almost too pretty to paint black. Still, I'd do it. And I'd handpaint the eyes green, too. From, but currently out of stock. Sorry.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Haunted Outdoor Speakers

Sure, rock-shaped speakers are great, but versatility reigns when you use this wireless Audiovox Acoustic outdoor speaker that is shaped like a coach lantern. With its handsome shape and standing about 16" tall, not only is it perfect for your Halloween haunt, it can be used year 'round, indoors and out. I can testify that the adjustable volume is loud enough for most yard haunts, even those with multiple layers of sound. It operates wirelessly, allowing you to place or hang the speaker anywhere you like- the sound goes through walls just fine, thank you! Outside, it can tolerate rain, but not for long periods (it's weather resistant, not weatherproof.)

You can use this speaker outside to listen to music while you garden, and your significant other can watch TV inside without hearing your music. You can even listen to TV outside if your TV/TiVo/BluRay/DVD player/cablebox arrangement has a headphone jack.

The controls on the back of the speaker allow you to select Left channel, Right channel or Mono, and there is a Bass boost as well as a volume control.  1 transmitter can operate multiple speakers, if you like.

It's easy to set up, too:  plug a small transmitter into the headphone jack of your audio source (computer, cd player/iPod/other- including those listed above re: televisions), and put the transmitter's other plug into an electrical outlet.  Then either put 6 AA batteries in the speaker and set it whereever you like, or use the included AC adapter and keep the speaker plugged into an electrical outlet.

The transmitter is shown with this speaker
 If you prefer Craftsman/Mission styling, this model in bronze is also available, and costs about $20 less.  We even found this one available in our local Lowe's hardware store- Yes, you can take one home tonight!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A visit to Poe's grave on Dead Poets Remembrance Day

Poe's original grave. Photo:

October 7th was the day that Edgar Allen Poe died, and to mark the date and honor all of the other poets who have passed, a holiday has been created. Today is the first-ever Dead Poet's Remembrance Day, created by Walter Skold,  the founder of The Dead Poets Society of America. The intention is that people should gather at the gravesites of famous poets to remember the literary contributions these people have made, to reflect upon their influence on society, and perhaps to read some poems.

Poe's "new" grave. Photo:


Poe's death was a mystery in itself. He was found wandering the streets of Baltimore, Maryland, delirious and in great distress on October 3rd, 1849. Not only that, he was wearing someone else's clothes. He was taken to a hospital, but he never became coherent enough to discuss his condition. Four days later, he had died of an illness that remains a mystery. All of Poe's medical records and his death certificate have been lost. Another mystery:  It is said Poe repeatedly called out the name "Reynolds" the night before he died, but the person he was reffering to remains unknown.

Poe's gravesite is interesting because it was it was moved, and that's why you see two different monuments  in the photos that accompany this blog. Here's the story.

Edgar Allen Poe.  January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849
 And now, in remembrance of Poe, I present his work called "Lenore":
Lenore by Edgar Allan Poe

Ah, broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever!
Let the bell toll!- a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river;
And, Guy de Vere, hast thou no tear?- weep now or nevermore!
See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
Come! let the burial rite be read- the funeral song be sung!-
An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young-
A dirge for her the doubly dead in that she died so young.

"Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride,
And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her- that she died!
How shall the ritual, then, be read?- the requiem how be sung
By you- by yours, the evil eye,- by yours, the slanderous tongue
That did to death the innocence that died, and died so young?"

Peccavimus; but rave not thus! and let a Sabbath song
Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel no wrong.
The sweet Lenore hath "gone before," with Hope, that flew beside,
Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy
For her, the fair and debonair, that now so lowly lies,
The life upon her yellow hair but not within her eyes
The life still there, upon her hair- the death upon her eyes.

"Avaunt! avaunt! from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven-
From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven-
From grief and groan, to a golden throne, beside the King of
Let no bell toll, then,- lest her soul, amid its hallowed mirth,
Should catch the note as it doth float up from the damned Earth!
And I!- to-night my heart is light!- no dirge will I upraise,
But waft the angel on her flight with a Paean of old days!"

Rest in Peace, Edgar. And Emily Dickinson- I love you too.

Female Skeleton Gnome

Just a quick update to The Skeleton Gnome post:

It seems a Female Skeleton Gnome has just arrived on the scene! Her face is a little more skull-like than the male's, so she's verrry attractive. I think they're on their 3rd date, so they could be on their way to making little baby skeleton gnomes.

$39.95 from
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