Oct 21, 2019

Halloween Web - Jason McKittrick

I'm beyond thrilled to be bringing you this interview. Jason is someone that keeps Halloween alive all year. I was introduced to Jason and his work through his Jackling figures (pic below) which I immediately fell in love with because he's crafted lore to go with them.

Thanks for joining us. Please introduce yourself.

My name is Jason McKittrick. I own Cryptocurium which is a maker of "handmade horrors" that launched in 2010. My work is mainly sculptural and my subjects are horror themed with a focus on Halloween and Lovecraft. I have two subscription services; The Parcel of Terror and Cryptocasts plus a year round Halloween society that I run with Sam Heimer (Ed.: interview coming tomorrow!) called The Order of the Thinned Veil.

What was Halloween like for you as a kid?

I grew up in the Pine Barrens of NJ. My neighborhood was very rural but still had plenty of Trick or Treaters. The town that I currently live in now has the country's second largest Halloween parade and as a kid we used to come see it most years. The cool thing about it is that because of the parade, they trick or treat the night before Halloween so we'd come here and on the 30th and trick or treat and then the next night do it again in my hometown. It was pretty great and it's a tradition that I've carried on with my own children.

Halloween was always a big deal in my house so every year was great and I was allowed to trick or treat on my own with friends at an early age. Times were different! Some of my fondest childhood Halloween memories include: Sneaking into the local abandoned house and being terrified by what my friends and I still swear was a ghost, carrying two masks with me so I could double dip on candy at the neighborhood houses and carving Jack O'Lanterns every year.

Do you have any favorite costume memories?

My earliest Halloween memory was of being dressed as a black and white harlequin clown that matched my Mom's costume. My Mom is a professional seamstress so growing up I never wore a store bought costume so from a very early age, I equated Halloween and handmade.

Above is a picture of myself at age 9 and my oldest daughter also age 9. We both dressed as the grim reaper at the same age. Proud dad moment!

How do you celebrate today?

Celebrating Halloween is huge here in my home. I'm a husband and father of three so it's always a blast and we go all out. We decorate inside and out like crazy, keep an eye out for the best new Halloween stuff in stores and go pumpkin picking. Carving Jack O' Lanterns and taking my kids trick or treating are my die hard traditions. Without those two it just isn't Halloween for me. A yearly reading of Norman Partridge's "Dark Harvest" is also in order.

My personal Jackling collection...minus 1
 Anything else you do to get in the Halloween spirit every year?

Disney's "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is my all time favorite. I also love Trick r' Treat, Carpenter's Halloween, WNUF Halloween Special, the ghost episodes of Unsolved Mysteries, Hocus Pocus, and the Halloween episodes of Roseanne. Music wise, I listen to the "All Hallows" EP by AFI every year on Halloween Day.

Why do you think we hold on to Halloween as we get older?

Halloween stays in the hearts of the those who have preserved the spark of childhood creativity in their souls. You can always tell who those people are too. They get that tell tale grin on their face when you talk about Halloween or they see Halloween decorations no matter what time of year it is. People who don't like Halloween should be avoided as a general rule! Haha!

Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was loose change. It shows that the people who lived there put forth zero effort into celebrating All Hallows.

My favorite thing to get was full sized candy bars. Finding houses that were giving them out was always a highlight of the night.

My favorite monster cereal is Count Chocula although they've changed the recipe and all the Monster Cereals taste like cardboard now!

Where can folks find you online?

They can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. And you can see my work on the Cryptocurium website and in my Etsy store.

A monster sized thanks to Jason for joining us. If you're reading this, you obviously love Halloween so go check out his stuff!

If you decide to visit the other Countdown to Halloween bloggers, bring your Death Certificate and click below.

Oct 20, 2019

2019 Halloween Hot Wheels - Altered Ego & Power Rocket

Believe it or not, we've already come to the end for this year's Halloween Hot Wheels. Hopefully this down shift from 8 cars to 6 isn't a sign that they're going away.

Anyway, let's have a look at the final two.

Altered Ego was first released in 2012 and this is only the sixth version. I usually like my Halloween hot rods to have more color to them but even though it's mostly green, it's a lot of shades of green. It works really well with the flames.

It's definitely got a unique body with the elongated front section. I'm not a car guy so I'm not even going to pretend like I know what to call that. But it does kind of give it a dragster look.

Lastly, we have Power Rocket.

This one got its start in 1995. It originally had an opening canopy until it was retooled in 2015. It sticks to the Halloween basics (black & orange) and does it right.

The sleek form and jet turbine definitely remind be of the Burton Batmobile.

Here's my rankings for 2019 (best first)
Rigor Motor
Power Rocket
Torque Screw
Rocket Box
Altered Ego

What will next week bring?
Tune in to find out because even I don't know right now!

If you want to see all the participants in the Countdown to Halloween, don't fret just click below.

Oct 19, 2019

Halloween Web - Kristen Lawrence

Finishing out our music interviews is Halloween songstress Kristen Lawrence and she had lots of photos to share.

"Here are the famous Tinkerbell wings my mom made. I loved this costume."
For those that don't know you, please introduce yourself.

I am an organist/composer/singer. I play organ for Pacific Symphony’s family and youth programs on the magnificent pipe organ at Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa, California.

Many years ago, I decided we need more beautiful Halloween music to enjoy throughout the month of October (and year ‘round for the freaks), so I developed my project called “The Halloween Carols” (HalloweenCarols.com) Last year I released my fourth album, a 2-disc set called “Hallowe’en: Night of Spirits.” And this year I’m giving away a free download of my newest song, “Witch of the Salem Town” until November 2.

Just a few days after the interview, Kristen put out a call to her fans for photos of the Salem Witch Trial Memorials and I was able to contribute a few for her video.

What were your childhood Halloweens like?

Halloweens in Orange County, California were otherworldly for me as a child. Though probably not directly aware of the changing seasonal light, I know my little soul noticed it, because I remember coming alive at dusk during the month of October. I remember, as the sun set, looking out the window from the front room my mom had decorated with porcelain pumpkins and ghosts with lit-up eyes, and feeling deeply happy. I often would dance in this darkening room, feeling a certain surrealism that words strain to express — I’m sure this is why I write music.

Trick-or-treating in my neighborhood was spectacular. I loved walking outside under the starry nighttime sky past house after house with glowing jack o’ lanterns. I especially remember the comforting and alluring smell of candles, wax, and heated gourd flesh at every porch step.

Do you have any specific Halloween memories?

I remember trick-or-treating at one particular house where some enthusiastic and very kind older boys answered the door and gave us multiple huge handfuls of candy. They were laughing the whole time. My mouth must have gaped open wider and wider at each handful they placed in my bag. I think I was very young, but I remember how much that experience lit up my soul.

"Here are the Marx brothers that everyone thought were just hobos. I’m Harpo, on the left. Notice little sister is now Tinkerbell, and little brother is a German lederhosen boy."
What about favorite costumes?

My mom made some light-green Tinkerbell wings, and I just loved those. Of course they passed around from sibling to sibling each year, each taking our turn wearing them. I also loved dressing up as Princess Leia and, of course, cats. Lots and lots of cat costumes. One year my sister, two friends, and I dressed up as the Marx Brothers (including Zeppo!). We thought we were obvious and fantastic, but everyone thought we were merely hobos.

How do you celebrate today?

Every year it varies, depending on what party or gathering is going on, but my favorite thing to do on Halloween night happens before the fêtes — I love to walk around neighborhoods, just observing and listening. I love hearing distant doorbells and little voices calling out, “Trick or treat!” all under the Halloween evening sky.

"I was a blonde Princess Leia. Notice the Tinkerbell wings turned into insect wings on my little brother. "

Is there anything special you do to get into the Halloween spirit?

I try to go somewhere more rural, where there is a natural pumpkin patch, where I can smell autumn in the air. I live in sprawling suburbia, which is splendid for trick-or-treating traditions, but with all the Halloween history I study, it pulls me to the country.

Are there any shows or movies you like to watch every year?

I always bring out my favorite Halloween cartoons: Donald Duck’s “Trick or Treat”, Disney’s “Sleepy Hollow” with Bing Crosby, all the Bugs Bunny Halloween specials, and “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”. And I always watch “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.” I love that movie.

"Here I am bobbing for apples. Does anyone do this anymore? I don’t want the classics to die!"

Why do you think we still love Halloween as adults?

Halloween imprints itself differently on everyone, but I think we can all agree on the word “magic.” Whatever feelings it stirs, they are intriguing and delicious enough over which to annually obsess. For me, the main feeling is surreality. Halloween is a removed night. It’s an outlier. There’s an unspeakable magic everywhere. I feel an unearthly swirling of life and death, silliness and seriousness. I try to stretch it out through the entire month of October, even reaching back into September. Soaking in its specialness as a child, then researching its history as an adult, I see Halloween as a familiar old friend who becomes more dear to me each year.

Inside the Spookster' Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was a penny! The worst! What? What am I supposed to do with this?

My favorite thing to get was Reese's anything. The peanut butter/chocolate combination today is one of my happy smell triggers for Halloween. The smell would take over my trick-or-treat bag (in later years, this was a pillow case), and I loved it. I also loved Pixie Stix. But these two treats are too sugary for me today, I’ve found Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups, which are very nice.

My favorite monster cereal is haha, monster cereals are so sugary, they make my tongue ache. If I’m going to ingest sugar, I’d rather scream into a brownie ice cream sundae (with dark chocolate and butterscotch, oi). But on a very rare occasion, one of those peanut butter variety monster cereals is fun.

How can folks keep up with you online?

I encourage everyone who enjoys my music to please share it with friends. If you know or follow bloggers and broadcasters, please tell them about my music with a personal recommendation. Halloween freaks are everywhere, and hearing about my Halloween music would very likely light up their hearty gourds. You can find all purchasing, streaming, and social media links on my website: HalloweenCarols.com

I'd like to thank Kristen for joining us this year.

Don't stretch yourself thin to find other Countdown blogs, just click below!


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