Monday, September 1, 2014

Grandin Road Does It Again

Happy Labor Day! Today we celebrate the contributions workers have made to businesses across America. Unfortunately, some of those workers are totally being ripped off. 

I've been a proponent of Grandin Road since they are one of the few retailers that goes all out for Halloween. Last year I purchased some full-sized zombie figures that were ultimately revealed to be unlicensed, uncredited, and direct replicas of another artist's work. When the artist went public with his allegations, Grandin Road threatened legal action. Nice job! It turns out that the year before the same thing happened with another artist's design, and once again, this year it happened AGAIN (see below). For more information, visit ShellHawk's Nest.

All the artists in question posted their work online to share with the Halloween community. As a amateur yard haunter, I rely on these kinds of tutorials to learn new techniques, get inspiration, and learn how to tackle my own projects. It's important to give credit to those artists who inspire you and never steal someone else's work. It's the right thing to do (even if it's somewhat legally ambiguous). It's clear that movies, music, and books are all copyright-protected so why not Halloween artist's work? (For helpful articles, stock letters, and more visit PlagiarismToday.com.)

Unfortunately, some businesses operate with questionable ethics and they are making money from other's work without credit or reparations. It can be argued that work posted online without any kind of copyright is ripe for the picking from the unscrupulous. And since big business has a team a lawyers, how can one independent artist possibly defend themselves? The alternative is not posting anything online, which is a shame, because then we all lose out. Part of the joy of Halloween is sharing what is created with others as a way to celebrate our favorite holiday. 

You can contact Grandin Road via email or Facebook



Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary

Ghostbusters is celebrating its 30th Anniversary with a special re-release in theaters starting tonight! But that's not all. Arriving in stores on September 16th is a limited edition collector's set featuring a digibook with both remastered films (part 1 & 2) on blu-ray and a collectible Slimer figure! Visit the official site at Ghostbusters.com and make sure to stop by their new online store for shirts, collectibles, and more! And just for fun, take a look at the awesome infographic below (designed by Mike Seiders, SDRSCreative.com)!

Limited Edition Collector's Set
Slimer POP collectible




Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Spirit 20% off Coupon

Spirit Halloween stores are opening this week and next, and as they have done in the last few years, they are offering a 20% off coupon good all season long, in-stores and online. Download it now before they pull it off the site!

Simply visit www.SpiritHalloween.com, and enter your zip code on the upper right-hand field under "Find a Store". You'll see the locations near you and the coupon link in the right-hand column.

Also, sign up for their email newsletter and check their Facebook page. Last year they had a 25% Off Friends & Family coupon in mid-September!





Tuesday, August 26, 2014

True Blood: Season 7 ~ Review

True Blood's seventh and final season came to a whimpering finish this week. It reminded me of visits with old high school friends you haven't seen in years: a little awkward, not much in common any more, and an eagerness to relieve the glory days as a way to connect. It wasn't so much a self-standing season but rather an extension of season 6, and it mostly focused on denouement. The big bad this season was the lingering HEP-V from last season and a wandering horde of ravenous, mad vampires which are quickly taken care of. Then came the tedious Mr. Gus and we are expected to believe that Eric Northman would put up with his Texas-twang silliness. One interesting turn was Jason's rejected Violet who captures several of our heroes and describes the painful torture she will inflict on them using arcane torture devices. But before one drop of blood is spilled, this too is quickly resolved.

The rest of the season shifted to the many relationships of our main characters and they pair up, or not. Straight from the standard series finale checklist there was: [1] a surprise wedding, [2] surprisingly everyone coupled up and had at least one beautiful children, [3] a surprise pregnancy, and, [4] there was a (non) surprise death. I hoping this was a tongue-in-cheek decision to follow the playbook and not intentionally ordinary. I assumed Mr. Alan Ball would never stand for that.

And then comes the climax of the entire series with Sookie and Bill: will they or won't they? It doesn't matter. It was so uncathartic and pointless (no pun intended), and felt oddly out of tone with the rest of the show with it's meandering, slow, and inevitable trudge towards the end.

There's no good way to end a series, and fans will be left un/satisfied either way. This wasn't a terrible finale, but it wasn't a great one. Much of the what made the show so fun to watch was the gory rawness, bawdy relations, and relentless darkness coupled with unexpected humor. True Blood should have ended how it started and left us breathless. Instead, it just sort of sputtered out in a blithe Lifetime movie-of-the-week soft focus fade out.

HBO released this featurette called After The Finale (which also features the last few seconds of the finale):



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLLo8K9oWXY

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Krispie Treats

Autumn is firmly in my sight line, and I've begun experimenting with canned pumpkin. So far I've made a pretty decent pumpkin syrup for my latte, and pumpkin pancakes, but have been craving something sweet – like a Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treat! I've been wondering how to make these for a while but thanks to the marvelous Essentially Eclectic blog, which covers everything from food to crafts to DIY, I don't have to figure it out myself!

The pumpkin itself doesn't have a super strong flavor but does give these treats a festive orange color. I found an Pumpkin Pie Extract, which is essentially a flavoring that might add a deeper note of flavor. I'm also mixing in roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) for texture, and maybe a light drizzle of white chocolate mixed with the pumpkin extract. The spices however make all the difference.

For the original recipe, please visit the Essentially Eclectic blog. I'll post the results from my experiments later in the season!



Thursday, August 14, 2014

Growing Pumpkins

Every year I dutifully plant pumpkins, and after many gallons of water and fertilizer end with a couple tiny shriveled pumpkins. The plants this year were out of control and looks like I have five healthy pumpkins on the vine that are just starting to turn orange (although one is a variegated green and spotted yellow variety). Mind you in California were in the worst drought in recorded history, and this was one of the hottest summers on record. These poor pumpkins got very little water but are surviving. I hope they thrive in the next two months.






Aww, Little Squirt is the runt of the family.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Under the Skin: Review

Under The Skin is a creepy art-house horror-sci-fi film that's mysteriously compelling and thoroughly indecipherable. Scarlet Johansson plays a nameless woman who lures men into a van, takes them back to her house, and feasts on them in the most unconventional, cinematic way. The imagery is black, dense and nightmare-inducing, and soon we realize this woman is no woman at all. The film starts in a very disorienting manner aided by loud, dissonant music full of shrieking violins and surreal images, then steadily moves towards more realism as it progresses. There's very little dialogue and it falls into a repetitive, numbing cycle that illustrates the woman's trek through the stars. Each new victim takes its toll as she begins to learn about what makes us human: compassion (or lack there of), loneliness, and physical differences. The swirls of vivid imagery replay over and over in your mind as you desperately sift through the details trying to force hidden meanings. There are no easy explanations. It's a subtle, haunting journey that will clog your brainstem, much like 2001: A Space Odyssey did, and to best enjoy it, you must submit to the languid pace and hypnotizing rhythms. For some audiences, this will be one of the best films of the year.



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Aliens On The Moon: Review

As if Ancient Aliens were not enough, the SyFy documentary Aliens on the Moon: The Truth Exposed has gone to great lengths to scare conspiracy theorists, and irritate non-believers. This 2-hour documentary aired last month to coincide with the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11's historic moon landing, and features an interview with everyone's favorite astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, who unfortunately comes across as slightly surly when asked his opinions on whether there's life "out there".

The documentary focuses on many photographs from NASA's archives, as well as first person interviews with a wide spectrum of people from scientific community and the pseudo-scientific community (i.e. UFO experts). One interesting interview was with a former NASA employee who witnessed her coworker editing out questionable artifacts from official photographs. Original photographs are carefully recreated using modern digital software to clarify blurs which might reveal artificial structures, primarily on the "dark side of the moon." In case you hadn't considered it, the moon is phase locked (or face locked if you prefer) with the Earth and does not rotate so half of it's surface is never visible to us. Perfect place for a giant mothership to dock, right?

Some believe that aliens at one time or another (back when human race was in it's infancy or possibly NOW) might have built gigantic structures on the moon, appearing somewhat like a base. The photos do reveal astounding structures that seem to suggest straight edges, enormous towers, and squared details, and we know that nature does not build things in that manner. Intelligent beings do. Did these installations serve as outposts to study us or to strategically plan an attack? Personally, I don't believe we'd stand a change against any beings than have mastered interstellar travel, and we're still here, so I'm going against Stephen Hawking's 2010 warning:

"If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the American Indians." 

Whether or not you believe, UFOs and alien mythology are a prominent part of our popular culture. The documentary has presented some interesting photos, somewhat revealing interviews, and stock footage worth seeing for yourself, if merely to pose the question, 'What If.' It's a fascinating, entertaining, and well-produced documentary and worth seeking out. We are not alone in the universe, but whether someone – or something – is lodging on the moon is another issue.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Haunted TV Shows

The doldrums of late summer have brought a flurry of haunted TV shows. If you are a fan of the interview/re-enactment paranormal shows, you are in luck! Speaking of which, still no news on whether Paranormal Witness has been picked up for a fourth season. Season 3 premiered last June and we're now in August!

A Haunting, Season 7
Sundays 10/9C on Destination America
This longstanding show, which took a three year break, got a new production team, and a new network is back from the dead for Season 7. Let the paranormal shenanigans begin.



My Haunted House, Season 2
Saturdays 9/8C on LMN (formerly Lifetime)
It's a bit more melodramatic than A Haunting (if that possible) but not as tightly directed as Paranormal Witness. Still, as spooky shows go, it's a killer entertainment.



The Unexplained Files, Season 2
Tuesdays at 10/9C on Science Channel
The second season of this interesting series examines seemingly supernatural phenomena and attempts to explain it with like, science and stuff. Sure no one likes a wet blanket thrown on the fun but sometimes, they can't come up with scientific explanations – and you know what that means! The season opener is called "The Real Story Behind The Exorcist" which makes it the MUST WATCH of the week.



Thursday, July 31, 2014

Yankee Candle Halloween Preview Party

Get ready for some Boney Bunch goodness at Yankee Candle's Halloween Preview Party, on Saturday, August 2nd. I have yet to get a single catalog, coupon, or email promotion to share. Sorry!