Friday, October 31, 2014

31 Days of Spooktober, Day 31: Happy Halloween, babies!

(Not to be confused with "Happy Halloween Babies", which would look like this:)

Infant Lil Monster Costume

Friends, I wish to thank you for following along this past month, while I posted various actual posts and semi-posts (like, just a photo or a video link), all revolving around the Halloween or Samhain theme.  It was a lot of fun for me, but sometimes daunting to keep to the one-per-day schedule.  Still, in looking back on the month, I'm pretty delighted with what I found, at times darned proud of my "scores".

And speaking of being daunted: what to write about on this, the Big Day, All Hallow's Eve, Samhain, a.k.a. "the Witches' New Year" What came up for me was the question, "What does Halloween mean to me?"

Growing up, it was all about Linus and the Sincere Pumpkin Patch, dressing up in creative, inexpensive costumes, trick or treating a little, but watching a LOT of classic horror films.  Playing the Disney Haunted Mansion album (which I would bring each year, without fail, to school, begging our teachers to allow us to trun down the lights and listen.  We were always thrilled with the chance to give it a spin, yawning in the face of what the "real" meaning of the day was supposed to be for us Lutheran kids: Reformation Day, when Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses on the church door.). Having Mom put out the Gurley candles ("Don't burn 'em, Mom!"), hang up the cardboard decorations from the 60s and pour the candy corn into the little ghost-shaped bowl.  Apple cider, pumpkin pie. Listening to Chicago-area ghost hunter Richard Crowe on the radio late, late at night, telling us the story of Resurrection Mary for the umpteenth time - and loving every minute of it.

That was Halloween.  Take a stroll through this month's posts and you'll see I touch upon a lot of these classic holiday activities.  Oh - was almost remiss.  Here's the link to the Disney album, "Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House":

Nowadays, with those icky, plastic pop-up "Halloween Spirit" stores, blood 'n guts costumes and zombie make-up, "haunted houses" you can pay to walk through to view really sickening scenarios that foul, not scary, and adult Halloween costumes that will turn any woman into a streetwalker, I start to wonder where the warmth has gone.  Where's the fun, the social aspect (that doesn't involve lots of alcohol)?  Where's the magic of Halloween?

What I'm starting to learn is this: the magic hasn't gone anywhere.  You just have to know where to look for it (hence, why I fashioned the posts this month that I did). But another aspect of Halloween that I'm now incorporating into my celebration is observing Samhain.  It's New Year's today!  And what an auspicious time (the pagans had it going ON!): the weather is turning, things are darkening and hiding for the winter.  There is a sense of "end of one year, beginning of the next" - even more so than at December 31.

So, this Samhain New Year, I resolve to look for the magick in the stillness that is soon to come, to use the quiet dark time to write, reflect, meditate, and weave positive magick for the good of all.  I thank God for this amazing year of seeking, learning, creating, mourning, and celebrating.

The origins of orange black as traditional Halloween colors date back to the ancient Celts.  Orange stood for the harvest, for the final celebration before the arrival of winter.  Black stood for death, for darkening, for Nature's "closing up shop" for the next several months, for "going within".

May your Halloween and Samhain be filled with celebration and harvesting of life, crativity, and love.  May you be blessed with time for quiet, inner reflection, allowing you to let go of things that have "died off", that are no longer needed or serving your Better Angels. And may you be filled with glee and happiness, like that spooky little monster baby at the top of this post.

Blessings and Peace,

The Mid-Century Mystic

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

31 Days of Spooktober, Day 29: Paul Lynde, Paul Lynde, and MORE Paul Lynde!

Darlings, nothing says Halloween more than Paul Lynde!

What? You don't agree?  Well then, feast your eyes!  Glut your soul on the occlusive awesomeness of "The Paul Lynde Halloween Special" featuring Tim Conway, Florence Henderson and KISS!:

Here's the rare promo for the special:

Still need MORE Paul for the 31st of October?  Look no further!  Here's both parts of the "The House That Uncle Arthur Built" episode of "Bewitched":

Part One:

Part Two:

(Seriously though, Paul Lynde was the best.  Always wanted an uncle like Arthur ...)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

31 Days of Spooktober, Day 27: The Humble Theremin and Day 28: Disturbing Vintage Halloween Card

Ghosties and Ghoulies: our internet connection has been wonky, hence you're receiving two, two, two posts in one today:

Day 27 - So, full disclosure: I am not a musician.  Now, I sing pretty well, but as far as playing an actual, physical instrument, it's been rather a sad and pathetic losing battle.  The casualties include the clarinet I played when I was nine that was abandoned because I really hated having to clean spit out of it.  Mom always wanted me to play guitar so I could accompany myself singing, but there was no way I could get my fingers to form the appropriate chords.  Took piano in college: I can play one song using both hands and it is exceedingly simple.  Then there's the computer drum kit I begged for just ten short years ago; once it arrived, it became exceedingly clear that while I DO have rhythm, I am comparatively inept at having my feet play something different from my hands (a sad discovery, dashing all dreams of being the female version of Stewart Copeland, my drumkit hero).

I can sorta make my way around a Native American flute, but I'm definitely no N. Carlos Nakai. Still, I enjoy tootling around with it as it never fails to calm me through rough times.  But this I do in private.

Yet, I am not daunted.  There is ONE instrument that I have yet to try, but am very interested in attempting and convinced I can tackle it: the humble theremin.

You can learn more about the theramin at this link:

If you saw "The Day the Earth Stood Still", you've heard this ethereal instrument used to its best advantage.  That odd, otherworldly sound in the soundtrack is the humble theremin, a mainstay of science fiction films and old-timey radio and TV productions.

According to the incredibly informative website,, the theremin was invented almost by accident: "The theremin was invented in 1919, by Professor Leon Theremin, also known as Lev Termen. Theremin was a talented Russian Physicist and capable cellist who noticed a strange phenomenon in an electrical circuit he was experimenting with. He noticed that he could change the capacitance of the circuit simply by moving his hand or body towards and away from it. He gradually refined this circuit, added a speaker, added a volume control that worked on the same principles, and the theremin was born."

I'm an Aquarian.  When I read my horoscope, they always remind me how I'm supposed to be this technological wunderkind.  Nothing could be further from my reality.  However, the theremin keeps pulling me in.  Maybe it is my connection to the world of technology, as humble as its brand of technology is.

A friend of mine, a very talented pianist who we employ as an accompanist for our old-time radio troupe, purchased a theremin.  The thrill of the show and tell the day he brought it to a rehearsal for one of our Halloween shows!  He allowed us inquisitive actors each a chance to play it, slowly waving our hands though the current, allowing the electronic squawks and rrrooooowwwrrreeeees to erupt, along with waves of glee from us theremin newbies.  It sparked something in me that has remained unrequited to this day. 

It's got a lot going for it as far as an instrument I feel I can master:

The sound is surreal, and seems like something beyond the veil, which appeals to my esoteric proclivities.  The playing is simple and doesn't require doing something different with one hand than the other - or incorporating your feet with a bass pedal.  There's no spit rag. And you don't suffer fingertip calluses with a theremin.

And, you get to be the coolest kid on the block.


Day 28: Here's your oddball, disturbing, "who killed the various pets of these children and then made them pose for a frickin' postcard?" bit of paper Halloween ephemera for the day, featuring a depressive ghost, Tiny Tim as a child and a dour Eddie Munster:

Scary, sombre Victorian children enjoying the heck out of Halloween

Sunday, October 26, 2014

31 Days of Spooktober, Day 26: Sandra Dee is spooktacular!

Spooky Kiddos, I'm very busy today.  So I give you Sandra Dee (in a scary-fabulous terry cloth swing dress), a cardboard black cat, and a skeleton playing a guitar.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

31 days of Spooktober, Day 25: Harry Potter Butterbeer Ice Cream Sandwiches

I have a friend who made some Butterbeer ice cream.  She is now one of my best friends and most highly-favored persons.

Ever have Butterbeer?  If not, your life is a little smaller than it should be.

Which is why I leave this for you to do as you see fit:

You're welcome.

Friday, October 24, 2014

31 Days of Spooktober, Day 24: Theories about themes for American Horror Story, Season 5

A group of my girlfriends and I get together just about every week for our AHS viewing party.  It's a small affair, as there's only the four of us (many have asked to join us, but we prefer to keep the group as is).  We bring snacks, often make themed-cocktails (like last night's Bloody Orange, a take on a Tequila Sunrise, but with tangerine soda, white rum, grenadine, Pimm's #1, Apple spice liqueur, and a splash of Lillet.  No, I do NOT mess around here.), and prepare to get our pants scared off (which happens with great regularity.  And makes the cocktails a necessity).

But the other thing our little troupe does is take a stab (hello pun!) at figuring out what the next season's theme will be.  Thus far, we have not really hit the jackpot.  No, we haven't even come close.  But I have a feeling we might, just might, have two very viable theories this time around for Season 5.

First of all, we know that we're to pay close attention to the first two episodes for hints dropped by the series' creator, Ryan Murphy.  And so we did.  And we all fell into the "it's gotta be outer space or space aliens" camp, as did many a blogger and entertainment soothsayer.  Yes, this season IS set in Jupiter, Florida.  Yes, Jessica Lange DID sing "Life on Mars".  Yes, a day player wore a nifty vintage tie with what looked to be the solar system printed on it.

Yes, yes, yes.  But Mr. Murphy has stated that is NOT the theme.  No "area 51" will be visited.  So, we got to thinking about some other clues.  These, too, were pretty obvious.  So obvious, in fact, that they didn't hit us until after a few weeks' worth of reflection.

So now, I give you what four nice ladies from the Chicago suburbs came up with for next season's theme.

1.  "American Horror Story: Devil".  Frankly, I do NOT like this theme.  Here's the situation: I saw "The Exorcist" when I was, like, 11 years old.  Way too young.  And it's haunted me for life.  So anything satanic or demonic does not sit well with me.  I'm quite the "positive life force" type.  But this idea works if you look at one of the first lines that's said in the first episode of Season 4, which is (I'm paraphrasing) something like "I had no idea I'd be walking into hell." And what does the doorway of the main freak show tent look like?  That would be the devil's mouth.

Now, let's piggyback this onto one of the AHS storylines that was left hanging.  Remember at the end of Season 1?  When the child, who was the offspring of one living and one dead parent, murders his babysitter?  That totally freaked me out, especially that eerie "chipper and happy" outro music.  Anyway, what happened to that child?  And, could one basically surmise that he's something "unholy"?  And could one further surmise that he could be some sort of anti-christ character.  The season would then be set in the not-too-distant future.  An alternate title could be something about the anti-christ.  Ick.  Freaks me out. I'd probably not even watch the season.  But this could be viable, given the hints and that dangling story line from the first season.  Murphy doesn't really link seasons or reuse characters, with the exception of this season and the second season with the character of Pepper, but this would be an interesting way to round out the entire series.

However, the theme that really intrigues me ...

2.  "American Horror Story: Victoriana" (alternate title: "American Horror Story: World's Fair").  The Victorian era was not full of lace doilies and floral teapots. Nope.  They had some interesting quirks, including their proclivity to photograph their dead in interesting poses (see But what were the clues in season 4 that would have us propose this idea?  And the Victorian era is pretty darned broad.  Where might this go?

Here are some of the main plot points:  "The Devil in the White City", spiritualism/mysticism, and Houdini. Now, let's think back to some of the clues. 

I already spoke about the ideas of hell and devils and such.  The entire story of serial killer H.H. Holmes and his castle of horrors is told with brilliantly grotesque specificity in "TDIWC" and those people who ventured in after the atrocities took place said it was "hell on Earth". And Holmes is the "devil" referred to in book's title. And, like the unsuspecting twins, scores of women walked, essentially, into the devil's mouth when they entered the Holmes death castle.

The Columbian Exposition, where Holmes found his victims, took place in Chicago.  In the second episode, Michael Chicklis's character speaks about working in Chicago at some point.  He also mentions Houdini's brother. The Houdini brothers' first major booking was at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893.

This takes us to the world of spiritualism, which was very popular in the Victorian era and continued into the 1920s.  Table tapping, Oujia boards, seances.  And Houdini went on a personal crusade to debunk those spiritualists.  And I can already see those phony psychics dressed in velvety robes, adorned with Jupiter, Mars, and the solar system.

So, those are our theories.  With special attention paid to the second one. Plus, Ryan Murphy is planning a companion series, "American Crime", so a final AHS season focused on the horrific Holmes crimes would be a solid stylistic segue.

Well, Mr. Murphy?  If we're right, could we be invited to the series' finale party please?  Just the four of us.  We like keeping the number small.