Wednesday, October 31, 2018

CELTIC PUMPKIN CLASSIC REWIND: The Glorious History of the Bedsheet Ghost

This episode of Classic Rewind takes us back to 2011 as we explore the CP's first foray into the whole bedsheet ghost obsession.  Enjoy, kiddies...

It is as classic an image of Halloween and trick or treat as any Jack O' Lantern, hobo, gypsy or kid bleeding from the mouth after biting into an apple full of razor blade...the bedsheet ghost!

Cute, non?
Iconography such as cats, bats and pumpkins are common for Halloween and are culturally part of the American Halloween tradition.  Ghosts are a part of the Halloween tradition due to their connections with the spooky in general and the fact that Halloween has its origins in a festival wherein the return of the dead is a major part of the lore.
"Ghosts I get", you say, "but what gives with the bedsheets?"
Aha, I've got you covered on that one.  Despite being a complex, intelligent and linguistic species, humans do a fair amount of their communications through non-verbal means, including body language and visual imagery.  Images (pictures, signs, diagrams) act as a visual shorthand for complex concepts that might be too large to effectively convey quickly and succinctly.  The bedsheet with two black holes where the eyes should be is the visual shorthand for ghost.  Is this sensible?  Possibly, if we do a little research, which I have done for us.  
Belief in ghosts is, apparently, ancient and varied.  Culturally we can call them shades, spirits, phantoms, wraiths, or any number of foreign words I won't reprint here.  In Appalachia the term haint is popular (a corruption of haunt).  Anyone who grew up playing RPGs on tabletop or video may be familiar with many of these terms but may also be laboring under the impression that each describes a unique creature.
The one on the left is a shade and the one on the right is unfortunate.

I digress.  Various cultures have held various beliefs in the afterlife at various times, subject to their religious views, scientific knowledge, and superstitions.  A common belief that can be found in multiple cultures at various times is the notion that ghosts are composed of insubstantial vapors, mists, ectoplasm, or energy.  In some times or cultures ghosts appear in the clothing they wore when they died (complete with death wounds) and in others ghosts appear in their grave clothes.  In this case the burial shroud, a cloth that was wrapped around the body in lieu of clothing, would be represented as the grave clothes on the returned spirit.  This would, one reasons, be not unlike a sheet.
Truuuust meeeeee...I'm spooooooooooky.

The Wikipedia  says, in its article "Ghost", that in the 19th century theater the "sheet ghost" rose to prominence as the archaic "armored ghost" was no longer capable of providing the requisite "spookiness" it once commanded.
Read the article:

If we combine multiple ancient notions of shades being insubstantial, garbed in burial shrouds and unhappy, we can see how a sheeted ghost becomes a good visual shorthand for ghostly phenomena.  The total number and make-up of features changes, but a pair of eyes (or at least shadowy impressions where eyes should be) is de rigueur.  In order of personally observed frequency from greatest to least common the features are:
Eyes (most commonly a simple set of black holes, but can be made expressive or glowing)
Mouth (most commonly a black hole resembling a stylized O, but can be jagged, wavering or even smiling)
Nose (either an impression in the sheet suggesting something underneath or another hole, very rarely is it something else)
Hair (humorous facial hair or more rarely head hair, which is often used to denote a "female" ghost)
Ghosts having a meeting, probably to plot the violent overthrow of the household inhabitants, thankfully 4 Jack O'  Lanterns and a live pumpkin guard the living, thus the ghosts are stuck outside, talking shite and biding their time.  Note the O-shaped eyes and mouths.
Another reason, albeit a meta-fictional reason for ghosts in sheets is to make them visible to mortals.  In Beetlejuice the ghosts of the Maitlands don sheets with holes cut out for eyes as they cannot be seen by the adult mortals in the house, who they desire to scare away.  Not only do the sheets provide a form, draping over their spirit bodies, but act as a visual shorthand for "ghost".  That it does not work is part of the humor of the scene.  In Disney's Haunted Mansion dark ride the ghosts are invisible to the mortal riders' eyes until Madame Leota's seance brings their wispy forms into focus.  As the doombuggies take the riders into the graveyard dozens of "sheet ghosts" can be seen flying about the sky as a backdrop to the ghost "personalities" (such as the opera singer and the headless knight).  None of these were visible to the naked mortal eye prior to Madame Leota's establishing contact.  In this meta-fictional sense the spirit, invisible to the mortal, needs the "sheet" to be seen (but can presumably be "seen" by other spirits with no artificial aid required).

As ghosts go, the little guy to the left is atypical.  He has expressive eyes, an elongated ovoid mouth in a surprised pose and eyebrows (a rare quality indeed).  Clearly he's surprised, perhaps even spooked by you mortals looking at him.  The fingers are not uncommon either.  He's a cute little guy and I get the impression that this is his normal look.  The visual imagery we have is most definitely a ghost, we have no questions about that.  Is he friendly?  He certainly seems to be.  Why so vague a form?  We don't want to have to identify him with a single personage, which is the great thing about the bedsheet ghost; it can be anybody or nobody at all.  Yes, spooky pun! 

In Beetlejuice  and the Haunted Mansion rides the ghosts, when visible, look like normal people (bearing their death scars in the Burton film, although the Maitlands are not eternally soggy even though they died by drowning, which if the pattern of death scars held true they would be, or at least blue) or like stylized monsters.  For example, in the Haunted Mansion the fully visible ghosts are blue and glowing and look like humans, if somewhat caricatured and Betelgeuse looks like a disgusting clown-man, pale of skin, patches of mold on his dead skin, and disgusting hair and nails, while the Maitlands look normal.  Betelgeuse is  able to alter his form, change his clothes and alter his appearance drastically, while the Maitlands seem to wear only the clothes in which they died, save for when Otho summons them into their bridal clothes.  The ghosts in the Haunted Mansion all wear appropriate costumes and never change ever.
The bedsheet ghost is a contrast to this.  Rather than attempting to scare us with garish death wounds or date itself by wearing the appropriate period clothes, it is a formless blank, with only the bare minimum of features required to let us know it is was a person at all.  This is part of the great visual shorthand that immediately sums up all the notions of "ghost" without having to use the words.

This fellow to the right is a "scary bedsheet ghost" type 5, Wavering Moaner (all of these are classifications I just made up on the, non?).  His features are simplistic and evoke both skull and Jack O'Lantern imagery, stronger with the skull.  The jagged mouth, gaping open as it does, tells us that he moans with a regularly oscillating vibrato.  Probably.

Some sheet ghosts work by going light on the details and allowing shadows and the mind to fill in the horror, others work by adding the blank staring holes-for-eyes that tell us much by their absence.  After all, if the eyes are the windows to the soul, what do the empty eye-holes of a ghost's sheet show us? 

This is a ghost costume with some unfortunate implications
So that's the bedsheet ghost in all his glory.  Possibly the single easiest Halloween costume any kid can ever make, yet immediately detailed in its simplicity and charming in its ancient evocations of memories we don't know we have.  Here in this modern age we have long since stopped using burial shrouds, yet year after year new children are conditioned into recognizing the bedsheet ghost, which makes it a classic piece of the lore, right up there with the Jack O'Lantern and superfluous bathroom amenity yard redecorating.  Whether it is cute and spooky or disturbing and ooky, the bedsheet ghost is a perennial favorite at Halloween and long may it remain so.
Taken from the classic brochure from the Gatlinburg, TN attraction that scarred me for life...

Until next time keep your pumpkins lit.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


Rather, How Am I To Know That Is A Ghost?

Please draw your attention to the image below:

Am I being picky?
Well, no.  As I'm always saying you have a very brief span of time to make an impression and you don't get a second chance to make a first impression.  Whether you are at the door begging candy, giving out candy, or at a party getting sloshed, you have to be instantly recognizable.  People don't need to hear a 5 minute backstory where you explain your costume, or worse where you have to show how clever you think you are for making a bad joke.  Remember what we learned last year with the Stranger Things costumes!
Our model is wearing a tattered poncho.  It's just a poncho.  It's not even well-tattered.  This poncho comes with a chain.  Our model is wearing black pants and shoes.  Is this a ghost that is into separates or are we to ignore her legs entirely?

Yeah, is that what we are supposed to see represented?
Okay, that would be okay.  Not good, not bad, just okay.  It's decent.  

Now go back to the top picture.  How are we to know she's a ghost and not just, well, a fashion victim?

Keep your pumpkins lit...maybe it will keep this sort of travesty away from your porch.

Monday, October 29, 2018


Today's Classic Rewind feature is a piece from the second Halloween season highlighting your humble host's complete and total inability to pick a costume.  This also features my earliest addiction to pun reliance.  Won't you come with me down memory rabbit hole as we completely fail to answer that age old question...

What the Hell am I going to be for Halloween this year?
I've been saying and thinking for a few years now that I would be a ghost, but then I end up not.  I'm not sure why this is other than my being "inspired" at the last minute by some other idea or my dissatisfaction with ghost costuming.  The really good ones are wicked expensive or require the use of a shimmering make-up, to which I might be allergic.  I had an incident a few Halloweens back where make-up made my lips go numb, my face tingle, and made me dizzy.  Pretty scary actually.
I am not one to wait until the very last minute.  I might change my mind a few times and spend weeks agonizing over choices, but I like to get started and get done, at least with the bulk of the work, well prior to the event.  I find planning is often the hardest part.
Just the other day, as Frau Punkinstein and I were looking at Halloween decorations at Michaels, I asked her what she wanted to be this Halloween and we briefly kicked around a few ideas.  Again the notion of my ghostly aspirations from years past came back to haunt the conversation, which is most apropos, I should think.
Obviously a costume is a prime example of visual shorthand.  It must be obvious that my costume represents a ghost, otherwise I will spend all night explaining it to people, which is not top of my list of fun things to do.  Like one year in college when I dressed up as Beowulf.  I thought it was perfectly obvious given the huge severed monster arm I was carrying.  Then when I told people who asked, "I'm Beowulf" and showed them the arm, they either nodded quietly as if to say, "Very droll, English Major" or just wandered off somewhere leaving me feeling quite the fool.
I quite liked my Beowulf set up.  The next year when I wrapped some tartan around my waist, painted my face blue and strapped a sword to my back there was no explanation needed.  Lesson to be learned: you have to work with cultural expectations and zeitgeist in these matters.
So again I am thinking ghost.  Mostly because I can't find a traditional undertaker's suit that I like (not that sodding wrestler, but a funeral director).
See, in my mind's eye a ghost should either look like this:
Wallpaper image courtesy of, THE best HM tribute site I know, please check out Chef Mayhem's excellent webpage

Or failing that awesomeness, this:
Awwwww, the Littlest Ghost, he's just so vulnerable and cute
Which means I have a hard time getting a costume I really like.
I'm fond of this one:

Comes with mask, which is nasty, but not pants or cane
It has a real "Grim Grinning Ghost" vibe going on, which I like, being a huge Haunted Mansion fan.

I also like this one, but it might have "unfortunate implications" if you get my meaning
Then there are the really expensive ones that require make-up, which I have stated before, might not work.
Comes with sodding everything
$130.00...BLOODY AMERICAN DOLLARS!!!  So, not so much.
Out of luck maybe?

But then again, I do like scarecrows...
And really it's just a sack on your head and some dirty clothes, right?  Who am I kidding, I nuke it every time.  I will end up wanting that "personal" touch, which means no simple sack for me.

So really the problem is not in the least solved and August is already in its second week.  Bloody.  Hell.

Any guidance would not be frowned upon.  Keep those pumpkins lit.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

PUMPKIN SEEDS: CP Classic Rewind: A Ghost With A Lantern

Here's a classic originally written in December of 2015, but as it is about ghosts, I think it's a great choice for our Classic Rewind.
Journey back to my mind of 3 years ago as I ponder why a ghost would need, or even want, to carry a lantern...

I was looking at some old D&D stuff and I came across this image in the AD&D 1st edition Monster Manual.

It's a ghost.
That is the illustration for the ghost entry, I mean.  So you have this ghost, running about in what I assume is a graveyard from the faint images behind it, and it's carrying a lantern.  This struck me as odd.  Why would the ghost be carrying a lantern?  Can it not see in the dark?  Note that the handle of the lantern can be seen through the ghost's translucent fingers (unless I'm imaging it), so that means it is an actual lantern, not a ghost lantern.
Is this something a player can leverage?  Like, we don't want to carry torches because then we can't carry a weapon and a shield and you can't cast spells holding a torch and the thief certainly doesn't want the light when she's all hiding in shadows, so let's hire a ghost, they carry lanterns.
Curiosity getting the better of me, I read the entry on ghost, to see if there was something about this lantern.  Nada.
I did learn that ghosts just flat out age people 10 years unless they make a saving throw (and in 1st edition any Cleric above 6th level was immune to it).  And that they all attack with a magic jar spell to attempt possession.  Failing that they semi-materialize and start wailing on people.
This is one of those things that youngsters, spoiled by their more modern editions always fail to appreciate.  Undead would seriously hurt you in the old days.  Age you, drain your levels, and other nastiness, and they were almost always impossible to hurt without a bit of magic.  This is why the Cleric's Turn Undead ability was actually useful.
Magic Jar was one of those spells that seemed to exist to give the game flavor.  It's almost never used by PCs because it is almost unusable.  First the wizard has to get a gem or something, this is the "jar" in question, and put his soul into it.  Then when something living comes near the gem the soul inside can attempt to possess the body, effectively booting the owner's soul out, or at least putting it into passenger mode.  Only the gem cannot detect what the body actually is that is near it.  When are you going to use this?
Well, it is one of the spells required to achieve Lichdom...but outside of that?  I suppose if you were really sneaky you could sneak into the dragon's lair while it was out looking for cattle, cast Magic Jar on one of the gems in the horde and then wait for the dragon to come home and try to possess it.  I don't know what you'd do then.  I guess commit dragon suicide, go back into the gem and then go back into your own body.  Possibly.

Since the ghost does not have a gem or anything it's just an attempt at possession, but the DM is supposed to use the magic jar spell rules to "simplify" things.

Not the point.  So I was wondering if this ghost with lantern thing was common and I did some Google searching and did not find much.  The odd story here or there, but no, ghosts running around in graveyards carrying helpful lights not high in the search results.

So I ran over to AD&D 2e to see if the ghost there kept its lantern.  Instead I got this:

No lantern.
Not particularly scary either.  Then I remembered my New Dungeon board game from back in the day and with the help of BGG I found this:

Aha!  Lantern!  And possibly tits.  It might be the light, but I think that sheet ghost has both booty and boobies.  It seems a bit feminine.

But then we have Classic Dungeon released only three years after New Dungeon in 1992 (because TSR knew how to milk a cash cow before WOTC ever did).  Kind of creepy, that one.  It's doing the whole, "I've come for YOUooooooooooooooooo!" pointing thing and it is vaporous with a skully face and I think it's wearing a Celtic cross.

Reminds me a bit of my favorite Gatlinburg brochure.

So here's what I think happens.  You die, and you become a ghost, and there is this Ghost Relations Bureau and you have to get a Ghost Job.  They probably look you over and if you died in some gruesome way connected with say, a bridge or a tree or something, they just send you back there to scare people.  Then after a certain number of years, if you work hard and age enough people, then you get to move up to some other position.  Maybe a house haunting or something.  Now, if you die and you don't look gruesome or impressive, like say you had a heart attack while playing WoW or something, your lame ass has to wear the sheet.  And carry the lantern.  It's like they really want you to have a chance at this whole ghost thing, so they give you a ghost uniform, which is a sheet, as we established years ago, and then you get the lantern and off you go; a haunting, so to speak.  Then, if you manage to survive, as ironically as that sounds, enough adventurers and what have you, you get to qualify for a better job.  But you never forget the lantern.  Oh no.  You tell stories to the younger ghosts about the "good old days" when all a ghost needed was a sheet and a lantern, none of this hi-tech CGI nonsense you have now days, no siree, just a sheet and a lantern, that's how we did it in the old days.  You showed up, waved the lantern, aged a few adventurers, maybe possessed the Fighter and chopped up the Cleric.  Back when haunting was real haunting and a ghost was a real ghost and your hits aged 'em and they could only attack you in the ethereal state, even if they had magic.  None of this namby pamby shit you kids have now.
Nope, you never forget the lantern, kids.

So, keep your (pumpkin) lanterns, lit.

Saturday, October 27, 2018


I always like to give you good and bad examples during the season.  
This is just horrible.  Not the least of which, it is horrible for what you DON'T GET when you pay for it.
Click to enlarge for the full love.

Keep your pumpkins lit.


This costume is not good by any means...

But at least you get a basically complete costume for your money.  A very common problem with costuming, and I believe I have mentioned this before, many times, is that the picture on the web page or in the catalog and what you get are two different things.  To be sure, the companies are honest about this.  They list what you get for your money in the item descriptions and even upsell you with suggestions to make it look like the picture.  On the other hand, much like food modeling, this is still modeling.  Professional makeup, lighting, and models are used to sell the product.
In the example above most of what you see is what you get.  You will need to do your own white facepaint and if you really MUST go all Johnny Depp with the wig and beard that's on you, but you don't need to do that.  This means that you get a decent outfit that works as pirate or colonial gentleman ghost.  70 bucks and for another 30 you can trick it out as you like.  It's not false advertising.

Unlike this crap.
With this weirdo Jacob Marley rip off you get only the hat, the jacket, and a scarf.  If you want the ridiculous facial hair and wig you have to provide that, and the jacket's attached waistcoat is too long and full.  It is crap and what you save compared to the above you will spend to finish the costume, and then some.  

Get a sheet.  Cut some eyeholes in it.  Viola.

Keep your pumpkins lit.

Friday, October 26, 2018


That is a Jawa.

Far be it from me that I should give Disney a dollar, but let's be honest here.
That's a Jawa.

Keep your pumpkins lit.

Thursday, October 25, 2018


Ghosts are meant to be scary, right?
Since they have no physical presence we assume they are just scaring people to death.  Not all ghost costumes are scary.  In fact, most are not.  

But sometimes...

I don't know about "skeletal" but it is pretty cool.  I can see the spook factor in it.  I'm certain that you can as well.  It looks either very happy to be making you crap your undies OR it is forlorn and full of sorrow.  Either way, here, have a full size Snickers bar and please leave now.

I'd pair this with a sheet, myself.  Maybe a sheet with a hood.  I suppose you could just put on a hoodie and call it a night, but as I always say, make an effort.

Keep your pumpkins lit, ghosts hate that.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


I like Jack O Lanterns.
I mean, that's obvious, right?
How many articles have I done about pumpkin people?

I was at the grocer's and there was the aisle full of Halloween candy.  Halloween candy really comes in two types.  The first type is theme candy for the season.  Sometimes it is just flavor themed, like pumpkin spice caramels (foul and disgusting) and other times it is just regular in flavor but theme shaped, like gummie ghosts.  The other type is regular candy portioned out in smaller sizes for trick or treaters and either wrapped in an autumnal style, or normally wrapped but in a cool theme bag.

I'm a sucker for marketing, I'm afraid.

Witness the glory of the bag that I resisted purchasing, but had to capture for posterity.
I purposely posed the bag on the shelf for the picture...then I left it there in the wrong spot.  Serves them right for not putting price tags up.  

Oh my.  Look at that beautiful Jack-O!  I love the eyebrows and the subtle squint marks under the eyes that give him such a humorously dangerous expression.  The window portion of the bag makes it look like he's eating all the candy.  This is why we love the season, people.  It's also why we can't have it all year round.  Mustn't spoil it with overexposure.  Still, you can always come back here in the coldest days of winter or the hottest days of summer, or even in the polleniest sneezy days of wretched spring and feast your eyes upon the glory.

Keep your pumpkins lit.  And well fed, it would seem.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Roadkill: From the CP Cutting Room Floor

Not a CP Classic Rewind; more bonus content.  I originally wrote this piece for last year's zombie topic but in the end I had more content than I could use.  Besides, I'd done zombies to death by that point and the ISBA files needed to be updated.  I did major research for this piece (which means I reread the comics and did some internet searching) so it seems a shame not to share it, even if it is not part of this year's theme.

In honor of Halloween and the general topic of zombies, today we are looking at a Deadworld oneshot from 1993 entitled Roadkill, a Chronicle of the Deadworld.  Written by Del Stone and art by Dave Dorman, Roadkill is the story of an intelligent zombie biker named Hitch.  Published in comic book format, the oneshot is actually a prose text with several full pages of black and white illustrations by industry favorite Dave Dorman.  As such, it is not really a comic book, nor is it a graphic novel, but the pace, the story, and the style reads easily like a good comic should, making it more a short story than anything else.
Wrap Around Cover of Roadkill

I've discussed Deadworld before, in my ongoing quest to demonstrate that Walking Dead is not the greatest example of zombie media, indeed to underscore my belief that it is mediocre and derivative at best.  This stand alone tale does not require that the reader be intimately familiar with the story of Deadworld, but if you are, then you get more out of it.  The protagonist, Hitch, is an intelligent zombie, which is rare in the Deadworld setting.  There are a few, such as the villain King Zombie, but that is explained within the setting as those zombies are not the people that died, but rather host bodies for the spirits that the evil forces sent to Earth to open the invasion path.  Hitch, therefore, is unique in that he is intelligent and free-willed, while still being the person he was in life, only now he is a zombie.  This is expressed to the reader, but never explained.  We simply accept that Hitch is unique and move on.
Hitch, our protagonist
Along with being a thinking free-willed zombie, Hitch can mentally command other non-thinking zombies.  Again we are given no explanation for why this is, and that's fine because the reason is not important.  The story has Hitch in Amarillo, Texas, running away from the events in Michigan (which would be the main Deadworld story where King Zombie is trying to open a portal to bring in his masters) when he comes across a compound with a weapon that causes the dead to turn and eat each other, and also fries them up.  Your basic sci-fi raygun death beam weapon.  Hitch rescues a woman named Dakota and hatches a scheme to get access to the compound, called Spandau, where he intends to claim the weapon and its designer, a man known as the Little Hitler.  Said man was a scientist for NASA and now runs the compound under his own ideological fourth reich.  Hiding inside a tanker truck of pesticide, driven by Dakota, Hitch intends to capture his quarry with the aid of an army of zombies he's amassed outside with his powers.  Dakota betrays him to the humans and he winds up on a slab heading for a necropsy.

Hitch is in trouble, folks.

Always arrogant the Little Hitler decides to show Hitch his true power but things go south when Hitch's specially selected "skeleton crew" of zombies his put leather jackets, bandannas, and strapped with ordnance blow the fence.  In the ensuing chaos our hero breaks his leg, which will not heal.  He manufactures a splint out of a fresh femur he pulls from a soldier and goes on to fight the Little Hitler in his diesel powered mech walker.  You know, as I write this it sounds a bit ridiculous, but trust me it all works in the story.  It has verisimilitude.  Our story ends with Hitch's plans derailed by the death of the Little Hitler and the loss of the death ray, but he does make a deal with the surviving humans and leaves with a nuclear warhead and a plan to stop King Zombie.
Essentially Hitch does not wish to die again, and he sees the efforts of King Zombie as a threat to his new existence.  While this does not make him heroic, it does make him a reasonably sympathetic protagonist.  Being intelligent he has no craving for human flesh either, so that helps to make him more likable.
Hitch returns for one more tale.

Hitch returned in a short called December, published as a special insert for Hero magazine.  The story was only about 5 pages of text but the issue included an interview with Del Stone and Dave Dorman about their creation and their plans.  In December we find Hitch up in Michigan in the snow with his bomb, a pair of Sears Die-Hard batteries strapped to his back and wired to his muscles to prevent his becoming a zombie statue, as all the non-intelligent zombies have become.  He has a run in with some human survivors and kills them, then heads off to look for something called the Golem out in the desert somewhere.  It's not much of a story and really serves as a link to the next chapter of Hitch's overall story, which was to be entitled Heat.  
The interview revealed to the readers how Hitch was first created as a piece of art by Dorman for the last issue of Deadworld, and how he and Stone developed the character and story.  As stated by the creators, they wanted to minimize the amount of Deadworld links so the story of Hitch would not be intrinsically linked to the Deadworld story, allowing them creative freedom to tell stories of the character.  They also retained the rights to the character and stories themselves.
This might be why Heat did not get released, as such, but instead became a full novel entitled Dead Heat.

The novel reworks the elements of Roadkill and December into a larger narrative that tells the full tale of Hitch's unlife and adventures, removing the explicitly Deadworld references.  

For stories with zombie protagonists you could do worse.  Much worse.  You could read Marvel Zombies, for example.  <SHUDDER>  For stories about intelligent zombie bikers that carry a meat hook and fight a would-be Hitler with a mech and a death ray before killing Santa Clause and running off with a nuke to fight a monster that creates super zombies...I'm pretty sure you cannot do better.

Once again, when I look at it written down like that it looks insane.  Maybe it is insane, but it's insane in all the best ways.  Any zombie media is a bit insane.  Superheroes are a bit insane.  Sci-fi, action films, all of that stuff is wacky, is it not?  We create little imaginary worlds in fiction and as long as we are internally consistent we buy into it.  Hitch was a mechanic, just a regular Joe, then he had a motorcycle accident and awoke as a zombie during a zombie apocalypse and to his surprise had intelligence and will, but no purpose.  It's an existential zombie story about finding a purpose!  It's the quest for human meaning with a crazy wannabe Hitler and death rays and mechs and...
Look, it's a million billion times better than Walking Dead.  It's Z Nation levels of crazy.  It's the Zombie Biker Hero story you never knew you wanted!  When you consider the shite that is produced in the zombie media, how can a Hitler in a mech not be warranted?

Keep your pumpkins lit.

Monday, October 22, 2018


I get it.  I do.  Halloween is a kid holiday.  I'm not saying it is not also an adult holiday, but honestly it's a time where kids get to fully indulge in fantasy without any adults telling them that it is unhealthy and they need to focus on reality.
But darn it all, it's not fair that they get the best costumes!
Kids costumes really come in two basic varieties, only for kids and smaller versions of adult costumes.  In cases where the costume is a smaller version of an adult costume it can sometimes look awfully surreal due to the proportions.  Tiny zombies that have the same basic proportions as adult size zombies can be a bit silly.
On the other hand take a gander at these samples I've pulled up for ghosts.

This ghost costume, described as a phantom, is very good.  Basic black hands and face and shoes can be hidden in the dark for that ethereal floating look.  The light up eyes are a special treat.

The white color and gauzy strips are really the only thing that keeps this from looking like a Jawa (and yes, this same costume is sold in brown and giving a ridiculous name like desert alien phantom).  He's kind of like a Scooby Doo villain come to life.  That's a good thing, by the way.

The Phantom really deserves a close-up, because you must inspect the glory of the mask.  So simple and yet so effective.  In fact, except for the height, you wouldn't know it was a child.  Glowing eyes and a faceless black area.  Chilling and wonderful.  I'd give this kid two, maybe three extra pieces of candy.

YES!  Sheet Ghost!  Here's a commercial variation on the classic sheet ghost, complete with wavering ghostly mouth outline.  Just eyes or eyes with mouth, both are good.  It's so classic and cute and it conjures up just the right spirit for Halloween puns.
The above is a kid version of an adult costume of the same name.  It might require a bit of explanation.  Look closely and see the molded skull face under the hood.  That's good as it gives our ghost a frightening face but not immediately obvious at a distance.  It would seem like a Grim Reaper but that it is all white until you get to the bottom.  The black is meant to be not there, so you pair this with black shoes and what you see, in the dark (and conceptually) is the ghost "floating" in the air.  That's pretty clever.  Our next offering is in a similar style.

The inset picture is meant to demonstrate how this costume looks in the dark with the right lighting.  The child seems to be a full size ghost (hence the oversize head), not just a ghost of a hot dog or something.  The costume really comes to life in the dark with some black-light.  Which means that it might not be your best choice for trick or treat, now that I think about it.  Again, it's kind of cute.  Not sheet ghost cute, although this is admittedly based on the idea that the sheet ghost conveys, but fun.

I am jealous of both the quality and the price that allows kids to get away with paying less for a better costume while an adult pays 40 bucks for a tiny hat and plastic ax with a Walking Dead Official Merch sticker on it.  Ectoplasm all over that.

Keep your pumpkins black-lit.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Pumpkin Heads

Kroger has pumpkin masks.  Or jack o lantern masks, I suppose.  
There is something not cool at the mesh that lets me see the camera.  And you, friends.  I see you seeing me seeing you seeing me.
Here's the friendly soft version.  This thing fully covers the head and seems quite friendly, yet it did not stop a small girl from swerving in fear of me.
A pumpkin in a polo shirt is not scary, young lady.
Pay no attention to the tag resting atop my gourd!
Now here's the spookier option.  It has EL wire framing the eyes and mouth that you absolutely cannot see in the bright lights of the store.
I suspect it would be truly awesome in a very dark space.  Or at least a reasonably dark space.

I'm sorely tempted to purchase the spooky light-up version, but how many times is too many times to be a killer pumpkin man?

Yeah, I don't think there is such a thing either.

Keep your pumpkin masks lit, friends.


The Celtic Pumpkin is very much a pro-pumpkin blog.  I love pumpkins.
Not to eat or anything.  I mean aesthetically.  Pumpkins and jack o lanterns as decorations, costumes, name it, I dig it.

First up I found this neat little LED jack-o "candle".  It's got neat sculpt with dripping wax look.  I'm pro-fire, but I realize the ease and safety of battery-operated lights.  Since we've started putting LEDs into everything I think they've gotten pretty good and affordable.  Incandescent lights have a charm that LEDs lack, in my opinion, but it is not hard to make a neat little decoration like this one look good with LED.  Thumb-up on this one.

Do you have a Halloween Tree?  Not a copy of a Bradbury novel but one of those trees, black or otherwise, that you put ornaments on.  Some people have taken to decorating trees for all seasons of the year and commerce has answered with ornaments.
It's a good sculpt, this jack o'lantern ornament.  I like it.  I don't have a Halloween tree (for several reasons, but mainly 9 cats...9...cats) but it's a very nice jack-o.  I'd hang it from the rear view mirror of my car.
Thumb-up again.

No, sir, I don't like it.  I like pumpkin people as a rule, but this one does not appeal to me much.  Maybe it's the way the arms blend into the feet or the super large feet, I just don't know for sure.
Thumb-down, I'm afraid.

Now here's one upon which I am torn.  As presented the costume looks good.  Check the inset in the top left corner.  I'm not sure how I feel about the bloody "trick or treat" carved into the chest.  Or the navel and nipples.  Is this a monster that just resembles a pumpkin or man that has painted himself orange and put a jack o' lantern on his head?  It's not a plant person, for sure.  It has claws, which means nails, which means animal.  Unless they are wood fibers.  Again, I don't know.
If we look at the costume description it is only a mask (good mask though), gloves (pretty good), and the chest piece.  You want bloody jeans, work boots, and a flannel shirt you are paying extra.

Maybe you already have those items, so that's not so bad, I guess.
So I want to go 

but I'm feeling that maybe I should go 

if for no other reason than that chest piece.

Arrgghhh, decisions.

I'm giving it an UP overall, kiddies.
If it hadn't been for Cotton Eye Joe he'd a been married a long time ago.
Finally we have this monstrosity.  That's not a compliment.  That thing is horrible.  Again, not a compliment.  I like scarecrows almost as much as pumpkins.  Maybe this is trying to go for scarecrow with a jack o'lantern head, but what it looks like is a hillbilly jack o'lantern.  Actually that is quite appropriate, but I'm talking about stereotypes here.  The straw hair just makes it worse.  Oh, it glows in black light.  Well, shoot, I guess that makes it worth the $60 they charge for it.
Keep your LED pumpkins lit.