Archive for fall

Autumn Fragment: CROSSROADS

Posted in Halloween, Original Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2017 by smuckyproductions

Autumn comes upon us tomorrow – here is a piece of a story called CROSSROADS, about a group of bored kids who occupy themselves with a dangerous, demonic game. It’s the time of year when we hear whispers in the air, bone-dry leaves tapping out code that something waits for us beyond the sky.

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Andy didn’t tell us all the rules at once – probably came up with them on the fly. He never wrote them down, and we never forgot them. “It only comes at dusk,” he said. “It needs those shadows to make itself real. Where it comes from, everything is shadow, beyond shadow. In the daytime or the moonlight, it’s just air. It can watch but it can’t do anything. So we have to bring it things right at sunset – so it can grab them up.” But also, “We can’t look right at it. In its real body – it’s too gnarly. Our brains would – BAM!” Fishface jumped at that one, and Andy cackled at him. Jenny hit his arm to make him stop – that laugh was ugly.

This went on for a few weeks, until the rules started to sound the same, and we were wondering what kind of game this was after all. We didn’t do anything different – still snuck into the movies, stole cigarettes, kicked trash around the newly-filled river – except we stopped going to the barn. No one brought it up, either, so we didn’t miss it. But we were still bored. Jenny started demanding answers. What was the point of the game? How did we play? Andy told us in pieces, but after a while we got the basics: we had to steal an offering, and take it out to the barn at sunset, and leave it there. If the offering was good, we’d get to live. But if it was bad, the thing in the dark would take us to its crypt and keep us there forever. Andy repeated this last part all the time. He never smiled when he said it. “Okay, sure, offerings – but when do we take them? Whenever we feel like it?” Jenny snapped one day. Andy glowered at her when she said it. “Don’t joke,” he said. “It’ll tell us when. We’ll know.”

When he said this, the game got interesting again. We all waited. Sometimes we didn’t talk at all, in case we missed the call. The wind – turning cold, brittle – might carry a slithery voice any day. Our teachers stopped yelling at us to pay attention, because we were listening, just not to them. Nighttime became something holy for us. In our bedrooms we stayed awake and tilted our ears at the empty windows. Of course, nothing happened, nothing came to us; though Jenny and Fishface sometimes talked about funny dreams, where they walked into the barn and fell down into a hole, but the hole was really a mouth that was about to clamp shut. Sometimes they woke up and their sheets were pulled off their bodies, they said. Andy chuckled, “That’s part of the game.”

It was toward the middle of September, when the leaves just started changing, that Andy told us the game had started. We were a little jealous – how come he got to hear the call and we didn’t? “Because it’s my game, turd faces,” he said.

Last time we’d seen the barn, it had been all lightning and rain, big blasts of thunder like drum beats. It set the right mood. This time it was a nice evening, a little cool, no stormclouds waiting on the skyline. A school night, too, to make it worse. The weather didn’t matter, Andy assured us – when it called, it meant business, gloom or sunshine. The problem was the offering, of course. Jenny suggested jewels from her mother’s vanity drawer. Fishface thought of hamburgers – “It’s hungry, anyway, you said.”

“None of that,” Andy snapped. “It told me what it wants.”

A Photographic Trip through Sleepy Hollow

Posted in Halloween with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2015 by smuckyproductions

I took a little trip up to Sleepy Hollow/Tarrytown yesterday, to honor the season and the legend that evokes its name. For any Hallow’s Eve fanatic, this town is a dream – its entire tourist income is based around this month, of course.

Despite the clearly marked tourist draws and the commercialist air, I still found that Sleepy Hollow carried the aura that Washington Irving immortalized in his legend:
“A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the entire atmosphere.”
Time seemed to flitter away without measure, and the longer I stayed, the stronger sense I had of an uncanny peace coming over me. There is some sort of spectral quality to that area.

Here are a few photographs of the highlights, from the town center and the surrounding neighborhood.

Resident scarecrow.

Resident scarecrow.

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Music hall on Main St.

Antique store.

Antique store.

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One of the many impressive decorated houses.

One of the many impressive decorated houses.

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The Lost Art of Halloween Jazz

Posted in Halloween with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2015 by smuckyproductions

October is upon us – paper skeletons haunt doorways, dying leaves whisper across the air, and horror fans everywhere get into the spirit of the best month of the year. I have spent much of my conscious life collecting things that achieve the spirit of Halloween, hiding them away until the 1st creeps up once more. And one of the most obscure aspects of this task is that of gathering seasonal music.

We all know about Christmas songs, and there are even some suitable themes for Valentine’s Day and the Fourth of July. But what about Halloween music? Sure, there’s horror movie scores and the Monster Mash, but those only go so far. For years, this was my dilemma – finding October music that hasn’t been played to death. And then I hit on the gold mine, buried under years of obscurity: the volumes of jazz songs dedicated to Hallow’s Eve.

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Apparently this was a thing in the early decades of the 20th century. Countless artists, from lesser-known brass bands to music legends like Louis Armstrong, Rosemary Clooney and Cab Calloway, have performed eerie songs in honor of this spectacular month. Upon discovering these for the first time, my whole world was changed. But why isn’t this better-known? Maybe jazz has fallen out of favor, or the songs themselves aren’t quite up to snuff to be considered classics. I argue, however, that they are a dream come true for anyone who loves Halloween as much as I do.

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These songs do a wonderful job of capturing what I believe is the spirit of Halloween – dark, smoky, groovy and Bacchanal. I’m an admitted fan of jazzy moods and Speakeasy atmosphere, so they appeal to a few things in my nature, but it’s that allegiance to the holiday that really gets me.

Some of my personal favorites: “The Ghost of Smokey Joe” by Cab Calloway, “Nightmare” by Artie Shaw (featured in “American Horror Story”), “The Little Man Who Wasn’t There” by Glenn Miller, and “The Headless Horseman” by Kay Starr. Like I said, not particularly ingenious songs in their own right – but they do something for me, and capture what I like best about this month.

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And how can you find these yourself? Spotify, say what you will about that service, has a great collection of albums that feature the best offerings of this lost genre (just search 30s and 40s Halloween). As an accompaniment to more worn-out holiday music, they are worth looking into – and perhaps you’ll enjoy them as much as I did.

As the forces gather in the eaves and the shadows creep forth at the edge of the bonfires, I will continue to curate Halloween-themed secrets. We must pay tribute to our favorite holiday and relish in the darkness that, during this month, is at its strongest.

A Halloween Preview

Posted in Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2015 by smuckyproductions

Ah, October. The breeze whispers coolly through the dying leaves, carrying the scent of fire and rain and pumpkin guts, prophesying the darker days to come. An omen we wait for all year round. And now it is upon us.

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This, as you all can tell, is a horror blog. And October is the month of horror. Thus, to honor my favorite holiday (and to avoid the wrath of Samhain), I will be writing daily posts recommending films, books, and various other delights that encapsulate for me the atmosphere of this time.

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(a word of advice – this month, watch the foliage)

So, FOLLOW THIS BLOG! for a curation of Halloween delicacies and rituals to make this month the spookiest of the year. I have spent far too much personal time culminating the things that evoke the spirit(s) of October. Now, I will share my discoveries with you lovely horror fans.

Light your candles. Close your curtains. Pray that nothing is watching through the window. And prepare to indulge in the glory that is All Hallow’s Eve.

With love from your ever-creeping ghoul,

Smucky.