Archive for October, 2011

In an earlier post, I’ve discussed the prevalence of scary clown costumes for Halloween. Makes sense in retrospect. I’m old enough to remember a time when these ashen-faced, ghoulish creatures leering at children from TV screens were presented as amusing and whimsical, but we knew better. It took some visionaries in the “scare industry,” as I’m discovering it’s called, to acknowledge — Hey, people think these things are creepy. Let’s make use of that.

So I’m offering you a chance to get ahead of the curve this Halloween. Following is a list of things that are really creepy, but to my knowledge haven’t yet been turned into Halloween costumes. Go as one of these for Halloween and I guarantee you’ll generate more shivers than the guy with the hockey mask and the chainsaw. Feel free to add your own suggestions!

  • Child beauty pageant organizer.
  • Guy who tries to pick up women with the opening line: “You must work out.”
  • Vacant-eyed individual handing out religious pamphlets who appears to be following you.
  • Guy who refers to himself in the third person by a self-applied nickname such as “The Brewskimeister.” (Technically speaking, this guy is more “annoying” than “creepy,” but he’s still arguably worse to be around than a maniac with a chainsaw.)
  • Twitchy person who corners you at a party to explain conspiracy theory regarding the Federal Reserve.
  • Drunk man trying to get entire bar to sing along to jukebox rendition of “Friends in Low Places.”

Introducing … Odina Coven!

Posted: October 16, 2011 in Writers

Yes, I do edit videos and post them online. But don’t let that give you the impression that I have the slightest knack for anything technological. No joke — I still haven’t figured out how to send text messages from my phone.

What I’m getting at here is that I’m still figuring out how to work this blog, and probably will be for some time to come. Just tonight, I learned how to add a blogroll, which is that little doohickey over to the side with links to other sites.

That was a big deal to me, because two things I really want to do with this blog is: A) Help disseminate things that I think are cool, and B) Make contact with people who are into the same things I am.

Fortunately, this post allows me to do both. I heard from a writer named Odina Coven. How can a writer have a name like that and NOT be cool? She’s with Unforgettable Books, Inc., run by the charming young ladies who appear in my horror convention video. (If you haven’t watched it yet, do so. It’s pretty freakin funny, if I say so myself.)

Anyway, Odina’s site is now on my blogroll. She cites Edgar Allen Poe and Bram Stoker as influences. Hard to go wrong there. Check out her site here.

So I was making a video at the Haunted Mill Scream Park in Spring Grove, Pa., when the managers suggested I go through with a group of kids between the ages of 11 and 14 and record the reactions. I, of course, thought that was a DAMN fine idea! Those haunted houses aren’t too well-lit, obviously, so a lot of the footage is pretty indistinct. But what  the hell. I think that gives it kind of a Blair Witch Project vibe. And yes, there were definitely some extreme reactions taking place in that haunted house. Screaming. Hysterical shrieking. Crying. After a while, the kids asked me to get a hold of myself and calm down because I was embarrassing them.

I paid a visit to the Field of Screams in Mountville, Pa., which is one of the most popular haunted attractions in the world. And I learned that when they scare the crap out of people, they don’t always do it on a strictly metaphorical basis.

This video is really where the blog started. A horror convention was taking place in Gettysburg, and I took my camera out there on a whim. By the way, I intend to make two sets of videos in the future. One group, called “Bizarre York County,” will be posted first on the Website of the newspaper where I work, the York Daily Record. The others, called “Chamber of the Bizarre,” will be for this Website.

Enough with the complicated stuff. Enjoy the video.

Ubiquitous clown posse

Posted: October 11, 2011 in Haunted attractions

I’ve been checking out some local “haunted attractions,” and should have videos to post soon. One thing I’ve noticed is the prevalence of scary clowns at these things.

Now, I’d be the first to admit that few word combinations evoke quite the same visceral reaction as “clown with a chainsaw.” But I began wondering how it got to this point. Sure, I found clowns unnerving when I was a kid. But not in a run-in-terror kind of way. On the creepiness spectrum, I would have rated them somewhere below ventriloquist dummies, and above guys who wink after telling a joke.

Suddenly, though, clowns are a staple of Halloween-style scariness. Why? Probably Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King’s “It” has been a factor. The Insane Clown Posse is probably a factor as well, though I don’t find the ICP and  their juggalo devotees terrifying in an H.P.-Lovecraft-kind-of-way, so much as the way I frequently find Denny’s breakfast entrees terrifying.

Maybe it’s a process of elimination. What are you going to scare kids with these days? Jason and Freddy Kruger? Yeah, I’ll call Mom over from the SUV. Maybe that’ll scare her. Vampires? Not likely, now that “Twilight” and its ilk have made vampires replace unicorns as the mythical creatures 12-year-old girls doodle on their notebooks with spangly markers.

And let’s face it. You take anybody. Any profession. Any walk of life, from soccer mom to international insurance claims adjuster. If this individual picks up a chainsaw and starts chasing you, he or she is going to suddenly become scary. If that’s not one of Newton’s laws, it should be.

On breakfast cereals

Posted: October 9, 2011 in Random stuff

So I recently won a bet with a friend of mine. We learned of an honest-to-freakin-God medical condition from the 1970s called “Frankenberry Stool,” caused by the failure of pink dyes in Frankenberry cereal to break down in the digestive tract. My friend challenged me to use the term “Frankenberry Stool” around our bosses. I work as a newspaper reporter, so I told my editor about David Franken and Stephen Berrystoole, both of whom were running for county commissioner on the Franken/Berrystoole ticket. She didn’t believe me, but I accomplished my goal nevertheless.

The whole episode got me thinking of breakfast cereals such as Frankenberry and Count Chocula. Aren’t we about due for some updated monster-themed cereals? Like Freddie Kruger Krunchies. Or Hunny Hannibal Lecters. (“The Killer Cereal for Serial Killers!”)

One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog was to provide a format for posting my videos. (Because, y’know, simply making the videos and posting them on Youtube wasn’t quite self-indulgent enough. Stay tuned for the Twitter feed with all my banal insights on the nature of existence, and the Tom Joyce line of action figures.) Anyway, all  kidding aside, the staff at the Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore was very gracious, and the museum itself was pretty interesting and well worth a visit. Take a look.

OK, I thought I’d give this blogging thing a shot. This is my first post. Someday, you can tell your grandchildren that you were here to witness this. Unfortunately, the commemorative T-shirts, shotglasses and bobble head dolls I’d commissioned for the occasion never got here. They were held up at the U.S. border because of something about “excessive radiation.” Goddamn bureaucrats. Anyway, welcome to my blog. I hope you like it.