Thursday, September 18, 2014

Redhook Pumpkin Porter

I'm not a beer drinker, but I do make exceptions for dark, full bodied beers like stouts and porters (since there's discernible flavor). Redhook Brewery based in Seattle has a seasonal beer called Out of Your Gourd Pumpkin Porter, described as a "dark ale brewed with pumpkin, spices, and maple syrup."

This is a rich, roasty stout-like beer with just a slight sweetness. The pumpkin flavor is subtle and almost comes across as chocolately, and as a coffee lover, I definitely liked its dark brown smoothness. It's a perfect seasonal beer that's ready for October parties (and even for those eating parties in November). And take a look at the packaging: rich orange and black with a headless person, jack-o-lanterns, bats, and spooky trees. This is a beer for the Halloween community!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Z Nation: Snap Judgement Review

Z Nationwhich debuted this weekend on SyFy, will face immediate comparisons to The Walking Dead, which is not fair, since it clearly doesn't have any specific standards of quality, and is more focused on being a dumb, adrenalin-fueled, so-bad-it's-good action series. The story revolves around a rag-tag group of survivors trying to get the single man with the antidote to that place called California. Siri, directions to "California." Yes, it's from the makers of Sharknado, but not all of SyFy's series programming is this offensively juvenile. Z Nation has some interesting casting choices, a subtle slapstick tone that isn't quite funny, super fast zombies (a la 28 Days Later), and lots of CGI bloodshed with zombies whose makeup seemingly consists of smeared toothpaste. The pilot really lost me with the character of The Baby. I'm no militant, MPAA-loving traditionalist but I will say that turning a baby into an intelligent, stalking zombie-baby shows pretty bad taste. (Tip to producers: Don't show the cute baby before the inexplicable zombie transformation then possibly the absurd zombie baby would have been tolerable.) The 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake also had a zombie baby but that dreadful moment was one of the most powerful in the film. Here, it's played for laughs and it just falls flat. Obviously, this series has set its sights on a very specific audience that I'm guessing is obnoxious teenage boys who engage in things like fart-bombs and snot-play. How ever low your expectations are for Z Nation, I would recommend to lower them much, much further.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bath and Body Works Halloween

After completely ignoring Halloween last year, Bath and Body Works has found the spirit and delivered a modest collection of Halloween products. Aside from every imaginable combination of pumpkin-scented candles (pumpkin pecan waffles, pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin cupcake, spiced pumpkin cider, vanilla pumpkin marshmallow), they've brought back the fun Vampire Blood hand wash. What does vampire blood smell like? Wicked plum, of course. 








Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Crate & Barrel Halloween 2014

Not to be outdone by other retailers, Crate & Barrel has outdone themselves with the largest Halloween Collection to date (and it's even featured on the latest Best Buys catalog). My favorites are the black branch wreath, the crow light strand with light up eyes, and the 2-tier graveyard server. Lot's of Halloween fun!

Visit www.crateandbarrel.com/halloween for the whole collection.








Thursday, September 4, 2014

Martha Stewart's 2014 Halloween Issue Cancelled

According the incredibly resourceful Martha Moments blog, there was a planned 2014 Halloween issue of the venerable Martha Stewart Living magazine. Unfortunately, it looks like those plans may have been scrapped, and hopefully, the new Halloween content will be folded into the October issue.

Business analysts have spouted that the Martha Stewart Living magazine is on track for disappearing over the next 1-2 years. Already the magazine is now only publishing 10 times a year, but some like the founder of the Martha Moments blog, Andrew Ritchie, have suggested that the magazine would likely step down to either 6 bi-monthly issues a year or even a quarterly issue, rather than disappearing entirely. Without a strong TV presence and the numerous legal imbroglio, the Martha brand may be in jeopardy but ardent fans will continue to support her. It's a shame – no one else does Halloween quite like Martha!
The special Halloween issues have become collector's items and are almost impossible to find. 
You can download a couple of these issues through the Martha Stewart Living and Zinio.com apps for iPad. 

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