Month: October 2015

The Battle of the Monster Jars

Via Pixabay

Via Pixabay

I knew I had been gone from the blog for awhile but I hadn’t realized that it had been this long. My computer is slowly dying and it’s not making blogging a pleasant experience-and Mid needs to be gone for me to use the desktop. I also have been ‘doing things’, so while I do have things to blog about the time has been spent actually doing things.

I need to start to listen to my gut instinct.

I somehow was tasked with putting together a Halloween party. Nothing too over the top, nothing complicated, nothing horribly scary (the gore hound me began to cry). I saw an idea somewhere for monster faced jars-I won’t link a photo because you know at least some level of ethics. They were mass produced  however so I don’t feel totally horrible for taking the idea. The jar is beyond simple, just burlap ribbon, googly eyes and the jars.

Yeah. Well. If it doesn’t involve a wheel, sticks, or string. I’m going to fail at it.

That’s not exactly true. I would like to reattempt the project when I have glass bonding glue. I bought glue that didn’t -not- say that it worked on glass,  but I spent an hour making and remaking two jars, watching them fall apart over and over. You don’t know angst until you’ve started swearing at googly eyes.

Eventually I decided I like my blood pressure more than I like the idea of cutesy jars, so I layered orange burlap, yellow tissue paper, and parchment paper in the jars to make ‘candy corn jars’.

I’ll admit that they’re not my best effort. But I’m not having a stroke over them either.

Humans Can Lick Too

Via Pixabay

Via Pixabay

I don’t always plan on reposts. But I pulled out the Book of Legends (yeah I just named it) and this was the one that looked promising for tonight.

Originally posted in 2014.

Let’s go really old school-a story that’s ingrained in American culture deep enough that I can honestly say I heard this before I read it. It wasn’t a friend of a friend story, but it was definitely classic American folklore.

A family had an only child, a girl. The parents bought a dog for the girl to have a friend.

The girl and the dog were inseperable. The dog would sleep next to her bed and when she was frightened, she would drape her hand over the side of the bed and make sure the dog was still there.

One night, her parents went out to dinner and decided that the girl was finally old enough to stay home by herself. Besides, she had the dog.

Late at night, the girl awoke to sounds in the house. She decided she was hearing her parents come home. She went to touch her dog and found hair. The dog licked her hand and she went back to sleep.

When she awoke the next morning, she was both terrified and distraught. The dog was dead in the hallway, and her parents dead in their beds. Written in blood on the wall:

Human can lick, too.

There’s a lot of holes to this story. How did she sleep through all that noise? Why did the murderer not kill the child? But when you’re nine, this is the height of creep. The story is also referred to as the licked hand, and some versions of the story has the child being warned via the radio or other media of a murderer being hunted in the area. Sometimes the sound that awakens the girl is the sound of the blood dripping elsewhere in the house.

While not existing in exactly this form, a similar theme is played out in M. R, James’  ‘The Diary of Mr. Poynter’, which dates the theme to at least 1919. According to Snopes, a primary source dating to the 1870s talks about a story (of an acquaitance of an acquaitance, la la) where the crime in question is a theft, not a murder but the trope plays out in a similar fashion, minus a note.

Anoka

Via Pixabay

Via Pixabay

I said last week that it was impossible to track the beginnings of Halloween.

We do know that it’s linked to early harvest rites that were often further linked into death and renewal nights (Samhain being one of them).

(A minor sidetrack, I said years ago that I didn’t see the connection between Samhain and fae faiths. Being too trained not to, I have readjusted that stance in the years since. I’m just too lazy to go back and readjust that entry. But, yes, I’m willing to meet people further up the road on that one, though I’m still not sure that that the mounds were the main drive of that holiday.)

(A complete sidetrack, speaking of faeries and Halloween. Try coming up with a fast, simple, yet thorough way of describing the sluagh and the Wild Hunt to someone who knows absolutely nothing about fae lore.)

Once the Catholic church rose to cultural dominance, the holiday that we now call Halloween began to take shape-but we don’t have a set, easily verifiable date to look at and say, ‘this is the year that it tipped over into what we would recognize as Halloween.’

Except for the United States and a city called Anoka.

Prior to the 1920s, there was really nothing to control children and teens from heavy pranking during events such as Nut Crack and Bonfire Nights. Halloween was practiced, but it was mainly a home-based holiday with parties and other events held on private property. While there was limited practice of treat or treating at the time, it was not as well established as a cultural icon as it would be in later decades. The pranking aspect of the holiday was in full force, leading up to Halloween night proper.

Towns would wake up destruction from the annoying but not necessarily completely damaging such as eggings and toilet paper to outright destruction of property and thefts.

In Anoka Minnesota, a town leader named George Green held a meeting in 1920 to address the pranking issue in a manner that would fulfill the population’s desire for social outlets, interesting enough to divert attention away from pranking and other less than desired activities, and community minded. What the town decided to put together was the first known civic Halloween event-which solidifies the town as the birthplace of American Halloween as we know it (sorry Salem, you have nothing to do with this one).

The events included a giant bonfire that has been held every year since, other than years affected by World War II in the 1940s, a giant parade, and mass distribution of candy. According to Anoka’s history website, the event has changed over the years to account for changing tastes; at one point, a giant snake dance was involved.

Was the Anoka the first place in the United States to shift into a ‘modern’ style Halloween? Probably not. In fact, I would be more surprised if it was. But Anoka has been acknowledged as the first place to fully ritualize it as a community event. Therefore, in a sense, you can date American Halloween to Minnesota, 1920.

 

Cold Season Chicken (Chili Yogurt Baked Chicken)

chiliyogurtsauce1

I’m facing my normal fall cold.

This one is nasty-the symptoms aren’t terrible, the congestion and whatnot is lower than normal. But I have a low level migraine that’s making my teeth flare and I can’t work up the energy to actually do anything.

I normally burn out colds (it’s superstitious, but I still do it, every time) and I can only shove Mid out the door and tell him to fend for himself so many times.

This recipe is a mishmash of several, the result of what was in my kitchen. It’s adjustable that way-the only thing I would probably add is slightly more acid in there somewhere. Maybe a splash of fire cider?

If the sauce comes out too thick, add a little stock, fire cider, or a little more soy sauce.

Chili Yogurt Baked Chicken

1-2 chicken breasts

1 small tub greek yogurt. Confession-I used low sugar vanilla. Because I had it and this recipe is potent enough that the vanilla won’t clash. Use plain, preferrably, however.

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground tumeric

1 tsp black pepper

a couple of teaspoons chili oil

1 tblsp or so ketchup

1 tblsp or so tomato paste

1 tsp or so Chinese five spice

2 tblsp or so each oyster sauce and soy sauce

1-2 onions, chopped

Any other vegetables for roasting

Preheat oven to 325

Place chicken and vegetables in pan

Mix sauce, rub onto chicken

Bake until chicken juice runs clear, about 20-30 minutes for the lower temperature.

The Killer in the Back Seat

Via Pixabay

Via Pixabay

I have a notebook full of urban legends, myths, creepy pastas…topics that I haven’t covered on the blog before. The whole point is that if I can’t come up with something there’s this list I could just pick something.

I couldn’t figure out why I have no enthusiasm. Absolutely no interest in doing anything. Mid’s been eating pounds of drunken noodles because they’re fast, cheap, easy, he likes them, and did I mention they’re fast and easy?

Then I woke up with a full on head cold.

Here’s a post from 2011, that’s in line with October’s creepy theme.

Killer in the Back Seat

A woman in driving through back roads alone. It is an unfamiliar area and for most of the trip her car is the only one on the road. As it gets dark another car pulls up behind her.

The woman becomes uneasy as the following car begins to act erractically. As she speeds up and slows down the car does as well. The driver behind her begins to flash their high beams on and off.

Frightened she pulls into the first gas station she sees. The other car also pulls in. Scared, she begins to yell at the other driver demanding to know what they were trying to pull.

“Lady,” the other driver tells her, “didn’t you see the man with a knife in your backseat? Every time he sat up I flashed the lights.”

The killer in the backseat is one of the most iconic American urban legends. Dating back at least 50 years, it is theorized that it may be influenced in part by mistellings of actual events in New York City in the 1960s. Snopes puts the date of origin to be 1967. However, the story is marked by several features:

1. The first driver is always female.

2.  She is always alone.

3. She is always saved by a stranger who attempts to scare off the killer or lure her out of the car to safety.

It may be that this is such an enduring legend because it carries the hint of possibility. Unlike some legends, this one seems at least partially plausible which may make it slightly more frightening.

This legend in particular has been criticized for sexist and racist overtones because of the structure that is used to tell the tale. In almost every variation the same characters are used- a violent minority, and an ineffective female driver. That has not diminished the frequency of retelling however as the story has become email chain letters dozens of times. The story taps into fears of predation which makes it appealing as a legend.

The legend in Popular Culture:

Common enough to be a trope namer, the killer in the backseat legend carries enough appeal to inpsire numerous tv shows and movies. The movie Urban Legend plays up this legend as do other horror films. The trope was especially popular in the 1980s and 1990s though it still reappears on film in a full range of genres up to and including the Godfather (Tvtropes has a list of suggested scenes relying on this legend). The legend has enough plausibility and drama to be effective as a scare.

 

About those noodles. The recipe is here.

Operation Autumn Check In

This year was limping along…and this week happened.

Well, Sunday happened…and everything happened at once.

  1. Door Wreath
    More like a door leaf, but you get the general idea.
  2. Go to a Corn Maze
  3. Haunted History Witch Walk
  4. Go to a bonfire
  5. Bake an apple pie
  6. Bake a pumpkin pie
  7. Go to a fiber festival
  8. Read M.R. James
    Will read more, however
  9. Go to the Festival of Trees
  10. go apple picking
    Okay. The beginning of the ‘cross all the things off of the list’ day.
    empireapples
    Holly came to town from Austin, and I had a memory I shared on Facebook that said something to the effect of I want to go to a pumpkin farm. So she said that the Sunday that she was in town, we were going to go to Becker Farms-who has a pumpkin patch as well as being a working pumpkin farm.So if you were to be at Becker Farms this weekend, I was the oddly (for me, not necessarily oddly as in I think it’s weird) modestly dressed woman in the head wrap and the maxi skirt dancing around apple trees. I ended up picking a single bag of Empire apples, but I also know me and know that’s about the speed I could actually use before they turned.
  11. Go to a pumpkin farm
    See also: Becker Farmsgourds
  12. Go to a haunted house
  13. Roast a turkey
  14. Roast a ham
  15. Make apple jam
  16. Make apple sauce
  17. Hold a haunted tea
  18. Make pumpkin butter
  19. Hold a chili night
  20. Go to Buffalo Screams
  21. Go to crafting weekend
  22. Hold a Misgiving’s Day Party
  23. Hold Mabon
  24. Go to Van Horn’s halloween event
  25. Go to Iron Island
  26. Have a Starbuck’s pumpkin latte
    Two or three times over, but I’m actually more into Tim Horton’s version of pumpkin spice this year
  27. Go to Forest Lawn
  28. Go the farmer’s market halloween party
  29. Go to Oktoberfest
  30. Hold a Hammer Films marathon
  31. See what Target has out for Halloween
    This one was an accident. The night of the blood moon we went to Target for I don’t know, chocolate or something. At which point I lost my boyfriend. I didn’t think to look in the holiday stuff because he never goes into the Halloween section. It turns out that he really loves Target’s Halloween stuff this year, which may or may not make Christmas shopping easier this year.
  32. Go to a pumpkin festival
    Becker Farms, again…pumpkinsbeckerfarms
  33. Make fudge
  34. Donate to a food drive
  35. Hold a community thanksgiving
  36. Watch Thankskilling
  37. Hold/attend Samhain
  38. Have a bread baking day
  39. Make my Christmas shopping list
  40. Write my 2015 gratitude list
  41. Start my Christmas cards
  42. Decorate my plant
  43. Go to the haunted zoo
  44. Go to the park
  45. Got to Letchworth
  46. Go to the Chattaqua Institution
  47. Go to Lily Dale
  48. Go to the USS The Sullivans
    thesullivans
    This one was an accident, or at least, not planned. But we were there. We talked about ghosts.
  49. Watch The Gravedancers
  50. Ride the haunted train
  51. Go to the Farmer’s Museum
  52. Carve a pumpkin
  53. Make leaf crafts
  54. Drink pumpkin beer 

    I can’t remember which one. But it happened.

Halloween of the Beast

Via Pixabay

Via Pixabay

I -just- came across this rumor/urban legend/Internet myth. Since it dates to last month, I suppose that’s not terribly surprising.

It’s common enough, however, to have already made it onto Snopes so I think it’s old enough for inclusion in this year’s round of seasonal Sunday Legends. As a side note though…it wasn’t until I sat down to write this entry that it hit me that I’m already writing this year’s Halloween seasonal legends. How did that happen? [I also promise to start bringing back more non-folklore material again, but I can’t promise when or how much. Just that it will eventually turn up].

So the question, as it stands in Internet-land is this: Is this year’s Halloween the 666th Halloween in history?

The short answer is no, but the ‘exact’ number this year’s Halloween is depends on a lot of factors, up to and including how we’re defining ‘Halloween’.

If we’re counting anything Samhain and Samhain-ish, we’re probably into the thousands. If we’re counting anything we -might- recognize as Halloween, Snopes places the holiday to roughly 800 AD and that’s only due to references in Church materials to holidays that could be seen as proto-modern-Halloween. An actual ‘modern’ Halloween might be placed to somewhere between the American Civil War and the Victorian Era, or slightly later (depending on what you need in terms of practice to make it Halloween). Which means that we would be somewhere in the 150s, or less.

Either way, this is not the 666th Halloween-and you would probably be safe not believing any meme that involves the number 666 as a whole.