Witch Hat Ring Toss

How to Make a Witch Hat Ring Toss Game

Supplies needed:

  • Three or six tall black witch hats
  • Three or six 2 liter bottles, full of your favorite beverage
  • Decorations for the hats (ribbon, sequins or yarn)
  • Sacks or felt to temporarily cover the bottles
  • Jumbo pipe cleaners (several packs)
  • Halloween vinyl table cloth to set the game up on

Simple black witch hats, full bottles and seasonal trim make this a fast game to make, and the kids love it!

Decorate the hats with different ribbons; use trims or even pipe cleaners so they look festive, but be sure you can take the trim off for storage. Set the hats over the soda bottles and make sure you can’t see the bottles’ logos – if you can – cover them with paper bags or felt. Set the soda bottles/hats in various positions on a vinyl table cloth on the ground or on a table.

Witch Hat Ring Toss

Get a package of super long pipe cleaners to make the rings. Check to see if the pipe cleaner wires are sharp. If they are, take needle nose pliers and curl the metal tips of the pipe cleaners under themselves because they can be sharp enough to poke the person tossing them. Use several pipe cleaners or as many as you need for strength to form the ring. Fashion several rings, some large and some small for different difficulty levels, and you’re done! You can assign different points to some of the hats to make it harder, and make several throw lines so every child can play.

Time to make: One or two hours depending on how fancy you want to decorate the hats, and for making the pipe cleaners. Storage is a breeze–drink the contents of the 2 liter bottles, take the hat trim off, and stack the hats before you lay the pointed crown down. Put the hats, band decorations, and rings in a gift size box (large department store holiday box), and you’ll be ready for next year.

Coffin Toss

How to Make an Easy Coffin Toss Game

Supply list:

  • 1/4 inch sheet of plywood to cut into coffin pieces – top and sides
  • Piece of plywood or Masonite for the bottom
  • bunch of nails, or wood screws
  • Cheap, blow-molded bones – available at party stores
  • A can of black spray paint
  • Two hinges

This is a really easy project and actually pretty fast to put together. You can make a toe pincher coffin at your local home building store. Our Lowe’s is outstanding for helping people like me that hate to use power saws. I just took my drawing with me, and they selected the board I needed. They cut the angles and then found a damaged sheet of Masonite for the bottom. All I had to do was come home and nail it all together. (I had to wrestle the project away from those nice guys at Lowe’s!)

Coffin Toss

If you love power tools, you’ll love to do everything yourself! Simply trace out the shape of the coffin and cut it out of the plywood sheet. Use the top to trace the bottom, and cut that out. Use the leftover pieces to make your sides, about a foot deep. Nail or screw all the pieces together to the bottom, and spray paint the entire coffin black. You can use wood glue on the sides before painting your coffin to increase the sturdiness. Drill the hinges into the inner sides of the coffin, and attach the top to it. Use a piece of wood to keep it propped open when in use. Done!

If this sounds like too much trouble, you can go to a party supply store and buy one of several different kinds of coffins. It’s up to you and your budget. Once you get your coffin arranged, buy a bag of cheap blow-molded bones and set the coffin up at a slight angle in your yard. The kids loved tossing different kinds of bones into the coffin, and the bones store inside for next year.

Time to make: No time at all if you get the hardware guys to do it! Probably a nice, lazy afternoon if you do it yourself. This is just too darn fast and easy. Oh, and cheap, too!

Talking Boards: The Ghostly Powers of the Ouija

Back to Vol. 5, Issue 2-3

By Dusti Lewars

When I was a child, I (like many other bored and curious suburban kids) owned an Ouija board.

I can’t say I necessarily believed in its power (though I sure wanted to). I’d seen others use them, very obviously manipulating the plastic letter indicator (the planchette) as they asked questions about marriage and wealthy futures. So while I enthusiastically used the board and talked to a spirit named Glen who claimed to have been a vet, I did so with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Then one of my best friends got a board, and insisted that his board’s spirit was related to my board.

My level of skepticism hit new heights.

I invited Jason to bring his board over, with the goal being that we were going to get in touch with a real spirit this time.

We assumed the position in a closed basement room: knee to knee, board balanced on our laps, each placing our twenty collective fingers on the planchette. My brother stood off to the side, teasing us unmercifully for believing in ghosts of any kind…then, as he quieted down and left us alone, messages started to be spelled out on the Ouija board.

What the heck is an Ouija board, anyway?

Talking_Board_Full_Moon“Talking boards” were first dreamed up around 1886, when modern Spiritualism was in its heyday. Everyone, it seemed, was trying to communicate with the dead. Automatic writing (where mediums scribbled across reams of paper, hoping that somewhere among the scribbles a ghostly message would appear) and table tilting (having spirits use the rocking of a table to tap out messages from beyond the grave) were all the rage, but the discriminating medium wanted an easier, more sophisticated method of communication.
Enter the “talking board” – a piece of wood with the alphabet, plus the words “hello” and “good-bye,” printed across its surface. One or two people could quietly, privately converse with the spirit world by placing the board across their laps, lightly touching their fingers to a tiny arrow-shaped table called a “planchette,” and allowing the “planchette” indicator to move at will.

History didn’t capture the name of the person who invented this contraption. However, use of the “talking board” spread like wildfire through America, and in 1890, three men shared credit for the patent of a new invention called “Ouija” (purportedly taken from the Egyptian word for “luck”, but – since this word was taken from a spirit rather than a dictionary – it’s more likely a warped spelling of a Moroccan city, Ouija).

Out of these three patent holders – Elijah J. Bond, William H. A. Maupin, and Charles W. Kennard – only Kennard took the financial risk and started manufacturing Ouija boards for fun and profit. Sadly, neither lasted very long, and by 1892 Kennard’s company was in the hands of new management – William Fuld.

It is Fuld who is known in the history books as “the father of the Ouija board,” and Fuld who claimed credit for the creation of this wildly popular tool/toy. Fuld and his family enjoyed great success with this product, and it wasn’t until 1966 that Parker Brothers took over, using the original Fuld design until 1999, buying the rights to the Ouija patent and trademark.

Though there have been many beautiful and bizarre variations on the Ouija theme over the past 100+ years, it’s the Fuld design that most people are still familiar with. And certainly, it’s Fuld’s board that has been seen in such movies as The Exorcist, Thirteen Ghosts, and Witchboard.

The horror story appeal is an obvious one. (We are, after all, speaking with the dead here!) But is there any reason to be afraid of Ouija boards?

It depends on who you ask.

Talking_board_dancing_skeletonsSome people absolutely believe that to tinker with a Quija board is to bring something evil into one’s life. Others accept the Parker Brothers definition – it’s a game, nothing more, nothing less. (‘After all,’ the argument goes, ‘if you were dead, would you be wasting your time making a little plastic arrow move across a lacquered board so that you can communicate with the living?’) Perhaps the planchette moves as a result of your subconscious desire to see your questions answered. A quick search on the Internet or in one’s local library will reveal many stories and much advice about how to safely go about communicating with the dead…if, of course, this is what’s really happening. (The jury will probably always be out concerning that particular question.)

My own belief is that it really depends on the people involved.

For example…my friend Jason was not (in my humble opinion) talking to a spirit At least, not until he and I sat down and worked with it.

You see, I watched Jason’s face intently as text started being spelled out by his Ouija board that day.

The words were, apparently, from a “new” spirit – Jason’s previous entity never made another appearance.

He got rid of his board soon after that. My Ouija, after being stored under my bed and inspiring a series of very disturbing dreams, ended up being unceremoniously thrown away, as well.

And my brother eventually admitted that the reason he had stopped teasing us was that, as he had been doing so, he felt a cold wind blow right through him and towards the board – and immediately after that, the planchette had started moving. Which was more than enough reason for him to decide that he wanted nothing to do with talking boards ever again.

Am I a believer now? Am I a believer?

Oh, yes. Absolutely.

www.museumoftalkingboards.com
www.prairieghosts.com/ouijal

The Addams Family: The First Family of Halloween

Back to Vol. 4, Issue 3

by By Dusti Lewars

The 1960’s were a magical time on television.

Vampires, genies, and witches claimed leading roles on prime time shows. TV viewers eagerly ventured into “The Twilight Zone” and “Night Gallery,” realms where reality warped into something foreign, strange. And a slick spaceship staffed by humans and aliens boldly took its audience to where no man had gone before.

Into this era, two families emerged from Middle Class Suburbia. The first, made up of a Frankenstein husband and an exotic vampiric bride, ventured onscreen in early 1964. “The Munsters”, based on traditional Universal Studios monsters, was silly, familiar, good-humored…but quickly overshadowed by their gothic kin that followed, the definitely human, daringly sexy, mysteriously spooky Addams.

But what could inspire a show as bizarre as “The Addams Family”?

A raven-haired woman waits in the doorway of a decaying mansion. Before her stands a vacuum cleaner salesman; behind her, a bearded Boris-Karloff-looking butler.

The year is 1937. The image, a pen and ink cartoon, gracing the pages of The New Yorker magazine. The illustrator is New Jersey-born artist Charles Addams.

Not a particularly promising introduction. It’s not even one of Charles’ best-known cartoons. But a true lady is unforgettable, and so it was with the femme fatale that was to become Morticia.

In the 5 years since his work had started being published in The New Yorker, Charles had become known for his sometimes whimsical, frequently disturbing cartoons. But it was with the creation of “the Family” that a common theme began to develop in his artwork. First came the mistress of the manor, accompanied by the family servant; then, the husband, grandmother, children, and the Thing.

AddamsFamily_College HallInspiration for “the Family” came from what Charles knew. The image of Morticia reflected his ideal woman. Uncle Fester was a self-portrait of sorts. Lurch was created from traditional butler images; Grandmama, by Charles’ own grandmother. Gomez, Thing, and the children were pure fantasy. As for the family home – well, it depends on whom you ask. Some say that two houses in his hometown of Westfield, New Jersey, served as muse. Others point to his grandmother’s Victorian mansion. Still others believe that a building on the campus of his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA, is the true model for Charles’ art.

Charles’ cartoons continued to appear in The New Yorker for the better part of 50 years, giving his own unique perspective on Christmas, childcare, marriage, and suburbia living. Collections of these cartoons were published in anthologies, and it was here, in 1964, that ex-NBC executive David Levy discovered “the Family”. Levy moved quickly, setting up a meeting with Charles to pitch the idea of taking “the Family” to television. Besides Charles’ agreement, though, he also needed character names, and within a few days the artist provided a list of suggestions to Levy. This was the first and last time Charles would have any input into the TV series. Most of his names were kept – though out of a choice of Repelli or Gomez for the father character, the latter won out, and when it came to the little boy, the name of Pubert was rejected in favor of Pugsley, for fear that Pubert sounded vaguely like a dirty word. And of course, their creator’s last name worked perfectly for “the Family” – and the Addams family was truly born.

The show was pitched to various networks, with no takers, until “The Munsters” was picked up by CBS. Levy stormed back into the offices at ABC, angered by the signing of what he considered to be a fourth-rate “Addams Family.”

Days later, ABC announced that “The Addams Family” was coming to the air.

The birth of a show isn’t an easy process. Different angles were discussed: Should the butler be the focus of the storylines? Should the show be somber or wacky? Who should play which role?

CousinIt_Gomez_MorticiaThis, above all, was probably the most important and difficult aspect of the show’s creation. Imagine if John Astin had indeed been cast as Lurch, as was originally suggested! What if Jackie Coogan had accepted the studio’s initial rejection of his audition for the part of Uncle Fester? And if Carolyn Jones hadn’t been able to shake her hesitancy of accepting the offer to play Morticia – it scarcely bears thinking about!

When the flurry of casting was over, the results were pretty much perfect. And the public agreed – from the initial wild approval of the 15 minute pilot to the 2 year run of the show to the movies, revival show, and cartoons that were to follow, the look set by the original cast has altered little over the 40 years that the Addams family has been seen on screens of various sizes.

But wait – the original show only lasted 2 years?

Indeed.

Though the show had a very strong following, occasionally even beating top-rated shows such as “Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater,” the fact was that “The Munsters” was beginning to lose ratings, and ABC executives feared that “The Addams Family” would soon be following. The cancellation came as a surprise to all. The rush to the TV set to salvage souvenirs of the show evidences the strong following the show had attracted. To this day, very few of these items have been located; we know that one of Thing’s boxes was taken by Ted Cassidy (the actor who played both Lurch and Thing) and was bequeathed to Jackie Coogan’s son when Cassidy passed away; the one and only Uncle Fester costume was taken home by Coogan and eventually bought at auction by a fan. The only prop that’s survived and been used from the original show was the polar bear that lurked in the mansion’s foyer; this bear reappeared in the 1992 Addams family movie. All else remains missing.

So why is the Addams family still so appealing? Despite a failed reunion show in 1977, interest persists in bringing the Family back to life. Most fans know three movies were made in the 1990’s; not as many may know that there have also been 2 cartoon series, various games (including a wildly successful pinball machine) and, as recently as 1998, a new version of the weekly series aired on cable and ran for two years.

Gomez_Fester_MorticiaWhy revisit this particular show?

When one compares “The Addams Family” to almost any other sitcom – even its contemporary, “The Munsters” – there are some very basic differences. The most obvious is the house. The mansion is an amazing creation in and of itself, decorated in a museum-like style that remains unique even today. It reflects the character of those who live there – people who are human and different and completely accepting of what makes each other different. For example, Morticia cares for and coos over her African Strangler plant – she loves it for what it is, nurtures it, and encourages it, just as she does her children and her husband.

The relationship between husband and wife in this show is uniquely passionate and open. Insecurity is discussed and dismissed. The possibility of a ménage a trois is flirted with. Sexuality is blatantly demonstrated. One would be hard pressed to find as red-hot a marriage as the one that is experienced by Morticia and Gomez!

Then there’s the relationship between parents and children. Never are the parents made to look stupid; never are the children belittled or argued with. Even when daughter Wednesday runs away, she signs her note, “Love, Wednesday.” There are family problems to be resolved – but never does the viewer feel like there’s one-upmanship going on here. Always, love shines through.

That love isn’t reserved just for family members. There is a recurring theme of caring for strangers as well that’s refreshing and welcoming – even when said stranger doesn’t return that acceptance.

Ultimately, the Addams family is a wonderful bit of fantasy, an ideal that remains worthy of being sought out. And for those of us with a love for Halloween, finding these kinds of people in a haunted house comes as no surprise at all.

Strongly suggested reading:

The Addams Chronicles, by Stephen Cox
The Addams Family and Munsters Program Guide, by John Peel
http://www.theaddamsfamily.com

Unmasking Michael Myers: An Interview With Chris Durand

Image credit: Halloween Wiki

Throughout history, storytellers have been prized by the cultures they live in. A great storyteller captures the imagination and pulls us into the story so that we experience emotions – both good and bad – as if they’re really happening to us.

Promo shot: Halloween H2O.

Halloweenites’ favorite stories are generally suspenseful in nature – especially those that bring us face to face with terror. And what character is more terrifying than Michael Myers, the quintessential bogeyman in Halloween H2O?

Actually, we ask ourselves: who could be more appropriate to play the role than Christopher Durand, a savvy storyteller who just happens to also be an actor and stunt man? Without uttering a single scary word, Durand uses his physical presence and uncanny acting to bring Myers’ chilling demeanor to life.

The Silent Michael Finally Speaks

Mr. Durand in a publicity shot.

In an interview, Durand reveals the origins of the Halloween franchise: “I did not see any of the other [Halloween] films. In speaking with the director, Steve Miner, we wanted the character to be right but didn’t want to mimic [previous portrayals].”

The director wanted Michael not just as a lumbering form, but appear alive and determined. Michael doesn’t run, he doesn’t rush. He’s relentless. The focus was on keeping the performance simple and clean, nothing fancy.

On the Myers character, Durand explains, “It’s your nightmare. He’s the bogeyman. He just keeps coming back and can’t be killed.”

Through expert storytelling, Durand allows us to meet the monster of our nightmares. But who is the man behind the Michael Myers mask? You might be surprised.

The Man Behind the Mask

Like Michael Myers, Durand is relentless is his pursuits. Whether that has meant learning a new hobby, such as woodworking, or living in France for a year at age 13, Durand says he has always been a very determined person.

This trait served him well when he decided to enter the movie industry. While there was, at that time, no school available to him for performing stunts, Durand, a native of Los Angeles, combined his skill in martial arts, gymnastics (which he began at 18) and rock climbing and hustled his way onto studio lots.

When necessary, Durand would sneak in or jump fences to be where the action was. He states, “Once you get your foot in the door, you learn from each other and expand.”

Since landing his first role in Cameron’s Closet in 1986, he appeared in many films, including Armageddon, Forest Gump, Star Trek: Generations, Demolition Man, The Mask, Tango and Cash, The Last Boyscout, Encino Man, The Crow, The Doors, Rapid Fire and many others.

Whatever the challenge, Durand is prepared to do whatever is necessary to succeed.

The Power of Storytelling

Durand uses stunts to provide the physical slant on storytelling. When

Publicity shot with Jamie Lee Curtis.

done properly, stunts are an important part of the overall story. Yet without a good story on which to build, stunts become meaningless, Durand believes.

Besides bringing stories to life through performing, Durand has also been involved in writing screenplays, giving him the chance to tell tales from the other side of the camera.

His love for storytelling, along with history, attracted Durand to archeology while at UCLA. He found in the artifacts the remnants of history that links the story of humanity through the ages. Regardless of the source, the power of storytelling is a strong attractor for Christopher.

A Labor of Love

Without a doubt, Durand loves his work. Working on H2O was a great experience for him for several reasons, he says, including working with the crew.

Michael as we know and love him. Getty Images.

He states, “It was lots and lots of fun. One of the most fun crews and definitely a nice crew. Usually I’m in one day of the whole run and bounce around between jobs. It was nice to stick with one crew the whole time.”

For another, friends and family have been extremely supportive of his work on the film. The high level of fan support has overwhelmed Duran, he says. What’s most surprising is the diversity of the fans who come from every walk of life, from lawyers to policemen.

Halloween, the holiday, is a joyful time for Christopher. He especially loves the trick-or-treaters and “the absolute joy in the eyes of the 3-4 year olds who are so excited and innocent.”

It’s this level of joy that Durand rediscovers daily in his work. “I love my business ’cause I get to play everyday I work. It’s about creating and having fun and being with other nice people and being nice to people. Life’s too short. People have to relax a little bit.”

In unmasking  the sinister Michael Myers, we find a creative, fun-loving individual who brings passion to everything he does.

The question remains: will we see him again as the notorious horror figure? We hope so. After all, there’s no stopping the bogeyman. . . or Christopher Durand.

 

 

The Truth Behind The Mask: Why We Conceal Who We Are

By Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Ph.D.

© Visionary Living, Inc. 2002

You open the door on Halloween and there before you stand the good, the bad and the ugly-fairies, superheroes, villains, creatures, monsters, even terrorists. You know them by their masks.

Halloween is an evening of fun and entertainment, and masks are essential to the party. But did you know that masks have a long history as a sacred and mystical bridge to other dimensions and worlds?

You’ve heard the adage, “you are what you eat.” When it comes to masks, you become what you wear!

Conceal or reveal?

Masks are ancient and powerful mediators between the worlds-the living, the dead and the spirit. We have worn masks from the beginning of our recorded history. At first glance it may seem that the main purpose of a mask is to hide and disguise, but actually it’s true purpose is to reveal what is hidden, and thus to transform.

We use the term “unmasking” to refer to exposing the truth. There are many stories about beauty hidden by masks of ugliness. The Phantom of the Opera and Beauty and the Beast are two well-known examples. In both cases, the hero suffers from his outer ugliness. People see only the superficial, and turn him into an outcast. He lives in an imprisoned world. The Phantom hides in the subterranean tunnels of Paris; the Beast is a lonely recluse in his forbidding castle. The true beauty of the ugly hero’s soul can be unmasked only by true love.

One might assume, then, that the hidden secret truth is more desirable than the mask, but such is not always the case. In Todd Browning’s 1931 film, Freaks, a beautiful circus trapeze artist consents to marry a dwarf who is madly in love with her. She doesn’t love him; she can’t even stand him. Her real intent is to murder him and get the fortune he has saved. At the wedding ceremony, attended by the other circus “freaks,” she cannot hide her revulsion and makes fun of them. The freaks vow revenge. They succeed in transforming her into one of them-an ugly “freak.” Her beauty has been her mask, and when it is taken away, it reveals the true ugliness of her soul.

In both types of stories, however, the end result is the same: we are shocked by what the mask hides, and thus we are transformed to see a truth in a powerful way.

A bridge to the gods

Ancient peoples understood well the power of the mask. Evidence of mask-wearing in prehistoric societies shows that masks may have been intended to magically transform the wearer in order to achieve or acquire something. Perhaps the first prehistoric masked dancer is the “Sorcerer,” a Neolithic-Age cave painting at Trois Freres in France. The masked figure is half-human and half-animal, wearing stag antlers and poised in dance-step. The image suggests a ritual for a successful hunt. His mask reveals and liberates the animal nature within the man, which would have enabled him to come into contact with supernatural forces or the spirit of animals and petition them for help.

Masks have been with us throughout our history in our rituals, liturgies, theater and folk art. The mask has been revered as a sacred object of power, a living thing that either has its own persona or represents the persona of another being. It enables the wearer to bring to life, and even become, the persona or spirit being represented by the mask. While the mask is on, the wearer is no longer completely himself, but shares his identity with that of his mask. He has freedom-and permission within society-to act differently, even outrageously. The transformation has its limits and controls: the wearer cannot go beyond the bounds of the mask itself, and is transformed only during the wearing of the mask. When the mask comes off, it’s back to “ordinary” reality.

The transformative power of the mask can be explained in Jungian terms. A mask connects its wearer to archetypal powers residing within the collective unconscious. The mask is a mediator between the ego and archetype, the mundane and the supernatural, the sacred and the comic. It connects the present to the past, the individual to the entire collective of race, culture, country-and humanity.

Living presence

In cultures where the mask is treated with reverence, mask-making is a respected and skilled art. For example, in Bali, masks play major roles in rituals and performances. The masks are carved from wood. Before carving is begun, the sculptors meditate on the purpose of the mask, the persona in the mask itself, and the performer who will wear it. The performer also meditates upon the mask prior to wearing it. He may even sleep with it next to him in order to incubate dreams based upon its appearance and persona, which will inspire his performance to greater depth.

The challenge of the Balinese performer is to literally bring the mask to life-to make the wood seem elastic and capable of illuminating its fixed expression. Actors who have the gift to animate their masks are respected as “having taksu.” Taksu means “place that receives light.” Actors who have no taksu are called carpenters-they just push wood around the stage.

Good or evil?

In most cultures, masks symbolize beneficent spirits: nature beings, deities, the ancestral dead and the animal kingdom. North American Indians have used masks to represent evil spirits, over which the medicine men are believed to have power. Similar attribution is made in Ceylon.

Masks play important roles in religious, healing, exorcism and funerary rituals. Sri Lankan exorcism masks, for example, are hideous in order to frighten possessing demons out of bodies. Among North American Indians, bear masks invoke the healing powers of the bear, considered the great doctor of all ills. In funerary rites, masks incarnate the souls of the dead, protect wearers from recognition by the souls of the dead, or trap the souls of the dead.

In the West, however, masks have lost much of their sacred and deep symbolic meaning. Once, they were integral to Greek drama, both secular and liturgical medieval ceremonies, the Renaissance court masque, and 19th century mime and pantomime.

Today we see masks as entertainment props rather than as living things. We focus on the superficiality of masks rather than on the essence of what they represent. We look at masks as concealers rather than revealers. They hide flaws and ugliness. They also hide our true identity when we want to get away with something-criminals and vigilantes use masks to avoid being recognized.

Halloween secrets

Historically, the true intent of Halloween masks is to frighten. The practice of wearing masks and disguises stems from ancient beliefs that on this night the souls of the dead and unfriendly spirits walk the earth. It is desirable to conceal your true identity from them so that they do not follow you home. Masks also frighten them away.

In contemporary times, most of us are more entertained than frightened by scary masks. By wearing them, however, we may be reaching into the collective unconscious to express our secret, inner fears and shadow side. The masks let us reveal the asocial self-the monster within and also our deep fear of death. Halloween is one night when, through masks, the underbelly of human consciousness is permitted to be displayed without disapproval. The mask may even relieve some deep collective stress. We are able to face what we otherwise don’t want to see. As we party away in our masks, we may not be consciously aware of these strange dynamics.

We can learn a great deal about a person by the mask he selects. What is the message being sent by the mask? What is the mask concealing and revealing? Is a vampire mask a statement by a disempowered person for a desire to be powerful over others? Does the fairy queen mask speak to someone’s true thoughts that they are not as attractive as they wish? Or perhaps that they wish they had a magical power?

Our choice of masks may unconsciously reflect something moving within the deep currents of a collective consciousness. For example, in 2001 Osama bin Laden masks were popular. This popularity might have been more than just a commercial cashing-in on the terrorism attacks of September 11. Perhaps we were attempting to confront the evil we feel he represents, and to reduce its power to a comic, and thus more manageable, level.

Next Halloween, give some extra thought to the mask you choose. Remember that the mask reveals more than it conceals!

Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Ph.D., is the author of 30 books, including The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits and Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft. Her website is www.visionaryliving.com

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark: a Resume of Darkly Delicious Fun

 

When you think of Halloween, what celebrity comes to mind? If you’re like millions of us, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark is one of the first on your list.

Since unveiling her character in 1981 as host of a local television program (Elvira’s Movie Macabre) in Los Angeles, Elvira – who was born Cassandra Peterson – has become known world-wide for her brassy style (among other things).

Peterson is affectionately known as the “Queen of Halloween.” Her trademark look and persona have made her an international symbol of the playful side of that dark holiday we know and love.

As Mistress of the Dark, Elvira has strutted her stuff across a broad and colorful variety of media. Here’s a sampling of venues that have helped the Queen of Halloween become the superstar she is today.

Stage

  • Routinely performs in a review style show featuring music, dance and comedy at Knott’s Scary Farm/Knott’s Berry Farm (with a record attendance of 140,000 people in 1997).
  • Appearances at Disney/MGM Studios in Orlando, Florida for both her “Halloween or Bust” and “Trick and Treats” tour.

Television

  • Recent appearances include MTV, Nash Bridges, E! Entertainment, Talk Soup, Hard Copy, Access Hollywood and K-CAL’s Halloween Scream. In all, she has appeared on over 500 television shows.

Literature

  • Elvira’s Nightmares, a series of humor/horror/mystery novels published by Berkley Publishing (Putnam) and written by
    Elvira with her writing partner-in-crime, John Paragon (writer/director of Pee Wee’s Playhouse).
  • Elvira’s Comic Book by Claypool Comics is in its fifth year publishing the Elvira, Mistress of the Dark comic series.
  • DC Comics published Elvira’s House of Mystery, a series of 12 comic books.
  • Marvel Comics comic book version of the film Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

Film

  • Encounters in the Third Dimension for nWave International. In the film Elvira performs the song Haunted House, the first music video shot in IMAX-D. Scheduled for release in ’99.
  • Documentary entitled Thrill Ride shown at IMAX theatres around the world.
  • Feature film, Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark

Video

  • Elvira’s Thriller Video, a LIVE Entertainment release home video series.
  • Rhino Home Video 15-title series, Midnight Madness.
  • Ketchum Vampires through Celebrity Home Video, a full-length animated feature about vegetarian vampires

Musical Recording

  • Rhino Records releases include Vinyl Macabre, Elvira’s Haunted Hits, Elvira presents Monster Hits, Revenge of the Monster Hits, and the single 3-D TV by Elvira & the Vi-tones

An entertaining new way for folks to experience Elvira’s campy sense of humor is by visiting one of her official haunted houses, Elvira’s Nightmare Haunted House. Built in association with Ray Productions, last year she opened the flagship house in Atlanta with another opening in Fort Lauderdale this year. Having seen the haunted house, I can assure you that you’re in for a spooktacular good time!

Elvira’s Resumé

  • “Elvira Day” declared both in Los Angeles, California and Atlanta, Georgia
  • Named Honorary Mayor of West Hollywood, California
  • Image is immortalized at Movieland Wax Museum
  • PETA’s Humanitarian Award for her participation in numerous animal rights causes
  • Grand Marshall for West Hollywood’s 20th Annual Gay & Lesbian Pride Parade
  • Presenter on MTV Music Video Awards
  • 22nd Annual Count Dracula Society Award from The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films
  • Public Award and The Journalist Award at the 18th Annual Festival International De Paris Du Film Fantastique for her film, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
  • Best Game Award at the Amusement & Music Operators Association (AMOA) convention for best selling Elvira Pinball Machine
  • Best Role-Playing Game of the Year by Computer Gaming World magazine for Elvira’s fantasy role-playing computer game released by Accolade
  • Nominated by the British Comics Professionals as best humor comic for Claypool Comics release of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

What intrigues us about Elvira is no mystery. For men, she’s the ultimate vamp: sexy, smart and sassy. For women, she’s the woman we dream of being-assertive, independent and talented.

For more information on Elvira; including complete bio, fan club info and list of Elvira-bilia, visit her website at: www.elvira.com.

 

This Year, Get Spooky at Salem’s Haunted Happenings

It’s decked out in autumn colors, full of fun and unusual visitors, and it has a very creepy past. Plus, it goes on all over the city for the entire Halloween season. (We know. Squee!)

It’s Salem, Massachusetts’ annual Haunted Happenings, and if you’ve never been to this spooky all-city soiree, it’s definitely time to change that, Halloween fans!

Image: creativesalem.com

While communities around the world claim to play host to the ultimate Halloween celebrations, a few stand out head, shoulders and hung neck above the rest. At the top of that list is the city affectionately called “The Witch City.”

Haunted Happenings is about to open for its annual all-autumn bash, so get your ghost on! Here’s the scary scoop on this phantasmically fantastic festival.

What (and When, and Where) is Haunted Happenings?

Haunted Happenings is a city-wide celebration of all things Halloween, esoteric, and historic in and around Salem, MA.

Full of games, movies, contests, a gigantic Halloween parade, demonstrations and more, Haunted Happenings lasts through September and October and offers something for everyone.

First celebrated in 1982, Haunted Happenings began as the dream of Joan Gormally, former Salem of Commerce Executive Director; Susannah Stuart, former Director of the Salem Witch Museum; and a whole bunch of die-hard (see what we did there?) Halloween and Salem fans.

Image: theguardian.com

This ghoulish group sawHaunted Happenings as a way to bring national and international media attention to Salem. They also envisioned a way to put the frightening history of the Salem Witch Trials in a more modern light, while educating fascinating visitors.

Originally a three-day weekend affair, the popularity of the event grew to a full 11 days in 1992 and last year occurred over 24 days beginning October 10 through November 2. Referred to by Mayor Neil J. Harrington as “The Ultimate Halloween Destination,” Haunted Happenings welcomes tens of thousands of Halloween enthusiasts each year.

Plan Your Own Spooky Tour

Image: hauntedhappenings.org

There’s SO much to do at Haunted Happenings, and more gets added every year; check here for a current itinerary. Meanwhile, enjoy these traditional scares:

 

 

 

  • Autumn Equinox Workshop
  • Farmer’s Market
  • Haunted Dinner Theater
  • Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour
  • House of the Seven Gables
  • New England Pirate Museum
  • Peabody Essex Museum
  • Psychic Fair
  • Salem 1630: Pioneer Village
  • Salem Trolley, Corp.
  • Salem Wax Museum of Witches and Seafarers
  • Salem Witch Museum
  • Salem Witch Village
  • Tarot and Other Readings
  • Terror on the Wharf
  • Wicked Half Marathon
  • Wine & Cheese Stroll
  • Witch Dungeon Museum
  • The Witch House

Get more information and a Free Guide here. Enjoy, Halloween fans!

Quick Halloween Costume Ideas

“What am I going to be this year?” is a common refrain heard spoken by the young and old alike every Halloween. But especially by those of us who are no longer kids with favorite cartoon heroes. You know you need a costume and you are really enthusiastic about wearing one but you just can’t get a good idea of what you want to be. I always tell myself that I’ll decide what I am going to be tomorrow and that there’s still plenty of time. Yep, I am one of those of people who always deludes themselves into thinking that lightning will strike and a fantastic costume idea will fall into my lap and that all the components for my costume will be neatly stacked in my closet. Now ask me how many times that has happened? Nadda, zip and zero! You too? I have taken the costumed bull by the horns this year and I made a list of what I hope are quick pull-together costumes&emdash;quick-witted and clever costumes, too! You should be able to find all the components for these costume ideas around your house and in your closets. Well, you will if your house and closets look like mine! Read on. Help is here! See if there is a costume ‘lightning bolt’ idea for you.

Halloween Puns & Word Plays

I love any kind of word play and puns have always been my favorite inspiration for costumes. I said that every year I would hope that lightning would strike me and hope for a fabulous costume idea to fall into my lap. Lightning did strike one year! That phrase gave me the idea to go as a golfer that had been struck by lightning. I found some old gaudy, yellow double-knit plaid pants, a lilac plaid button-down shirt and some really tacky old white shoes at a yard sale. A friend gave me a broken golf club that I bent into an ‘S’ shape around a gatepost. I burned holes in my clothes, put gray and black make up under all the burn places and blacked my face. I gelled my hair so that it was standing on end . . . there was my costume!

Another time I was talking to a friend while I was trying to come up with a costume idea. When she asked me what I was doing, I replied, “oh, just killing time.” Hum. I decided that was a perfect costume. I made a cardboard clock face and painted it to look like an old grandfather clock with eyes, nose, cheeks and a mouth. I dug around in the back of my closet until I found an old plastic costume knife. I stuck the knife through the clock face and acted really deranged when people asked me what I was. Killing time was a huge hit at that year’s party.

One Cool Halloween Costume Idea

A great Halloween costume I saw on a guy one time was a chick magnet. This guy was dressed in something metallic-looking and had fashion dolls pinned all over him. A very clever Hallloween costume idea… take that, James Bond!

Are you a basket case? Great! Grab a cardboard box and cut a hole so you can stand in it. Then fill the box with all different sizes of baskets. Write ‘case’ on the box; add suspenders and you are a real basket case!

Do your friends think you’re self-absorbed? Put on your favorite outfit and pin sponges all over. You are now formally self-absorbed!

Do you still see your old family witch doctor? Throw on a pointy witch hat, white lab coat; carry around a few bottles with strange labels and a child’s stethoscope. Ta dah!

How about going as the devil with the blue dress on? Oh wait. That was Monica, right? Go buy a set of red horns and a pitchfork, wear your favorite blue dress and you’re in business!

I think you get my point that puns and word plays are great costume ideas. Listen to your friends and family talk for several days and I bet one phrase will stick out loud and clear.

Halloween Inspiration in the everyday things

If you are not into word play there is plenty of inspiration from everyday things.

What about road kill? Grab any old animal costume, an old tire, black ink and some fake blood. Take the animal costume and lay it out on the driveway. Roll black ink on the tire and roll it on the top part of the costume. Re-ink the tire and do the same to the lower part of the costume. Oh, please remember &emdash;you shouldn’t BE IN the costume at the time! Now splash on fake blood or add tons of rotting make up and be a zombie road kill, ah . . . thing for a twist.

If you like a more basic and disgusting costume go for the hairball. Go to a craft store and buy several bags of Mohair or go to a yard sale and buy several old and really bad wigs. Cut off clumps of either kind of hair and glue it all over some old clothes that you wouldn’t mind throwing away. Then put some Vaseline on the hair to make it look slimy and wet! When people come up to you and ask what you are, start coughing and gagging and then tell ’em. I bet they won’t come near you the rest of the night. I don’t think you will be invited back next year either!

Maybe it’s just me, but wearing the traditional Halloween couples’ costumes is about as much fun as going to the dentist. Intestinal lock up! I hate to see people with those sweet little ‘couple’ costumes like Raggedy Ann and Andy, baby boy and girl or worse, a puppy and a kitten. I like the more unconventional couple costumes, like the year we dressed in my specially made XXL sweatshirt. I cut two sweatshirts in half and sewed them back together, leaving two neckholes. I put sequin trim where I had joined the shirts and he and I decorated each side radically different. We went as a split personality!

If both of you like golf, this Halloween costume could be your salvation! Find two old pairs of those really wild colored pants that all of our Uncle Harry’s use to wear, some knee socks you could use to flag traffic, and two old junky sweaters. Cut the pants off about mid-shin and tuck them into the top of the knee socks. Cut a huge hole in just one of the sweaters and run glue just off the edges so the sweater won’t fall apart when you put it on. Find some old golf clubs and you can go as a hole in one!

I hope my zany brain has helped you understand that getting a great costume idea is as easy as listening for a funny phrase or just a word play. You also don’t have to spend big bucks or have to be something typical. I think the most important thing about making your costume is having fun with it like we all did in our childhood. Just look around and inspiration will strike, if you’re open to it. Oh yea, that means digging through your closets!

Mystic Fortune Telling for Your Spirited Party

 

Image credit: shiekh1939.com

The following is a fun and fascinating contribution from a guest author who really did her homework. Enjoy!

Once upon a time, telling the future was an integral part of Samhain (in Celtic times), and then Halloween (particularly in the late 1800s, at spooky, ultra-phantasmic parties).

Today, there just isn’t as much emphasis placed on fortune telling on that spookiest of days.

We think it’s time to revive a few fun, fascinating and fortune-filled old customs. Today we talk about all things fortune telling, and how you can make your own Halloween party all the spookier AND more, well, telling this year.

*

In American Victorian times, fortune telling was one of the most important events at any Halloween gathering.

While “begging” for treats and dressing in costumes was still a few decades in the future, many a 19th to early 20th century maiden could be spotted be sitting in her parlor dropping a hazel nut in the coals of her fire on  All Hallow’s Eve. (She’d have named the nut for the one she loved; if it burned completely, he was sure to always be true.)

The traditions were many, and one or two survived, even to the present day.

Old Spells, Modern-Day Charm

Some old-time charms have disappeared into the mists of history, many have been revived by books and neo-pagan traditions, as well as a general fascination with all things vintage. In their earliest incarnations, these nearly always focused on love, marriage and other coming-of-age areas of interest.

A few of these old traditions are so easy, you can incorporate them into your Halloween party today with just a few simple ingredients. For example, check out these Victorian charms (make them a part of your next spooky gathering!):

A late 19th century marriage-ready girl might peer into a mirror at midnight expecting to see the face of her love. (Remember Bloody Mary, the twisted side to this sort of scrying?)

And “he loves me, he loves me not” with flower petals hearkens to just such love rituals. This is a simple incantation that can be done any time, anywhere but can take on special significance if you sit in a candle-lit dark room on Halloween and take turns slowly pulling the petals.

Charmingly, many of these “spells” are illustrated in antique Halloween postcards, particularly as in the 1910s and 1920s, Halloween parties became the vogue.

Party games were now fashioned with the same goals in mind as the old charms. In the 1912 book Games For Hallow-e’en by Mary E. Blain, one such game is the Dough Test. Here’s how: take water and flour and make dough; write on slips of paper names of several opposite friends; and roll papers into balls of dough and drop them into water. The first names to appear will be the future husband or wife.

The Spirits are Rising: Party “Games” Evolve

Also around the turn of the century, there was great interest in spiritualism, including seances to communicate with those gone on to loftier but perhaps restless pastures.

At this time, although most games were still focused on love and marriage, fortune telling items and games not strictly “Halloween” became popular. Many Halloween party guides of the era, such as the Dennison Bogie Book, suggest having someone perform as a gypsy, or crone, and read the tarot.

Today many Halloween collectors also collect all sorts of fortune telling items. One of the most coveted is the Sybil Fortune Telling Doll, seen here in her original turn of the century composition version and in her 1930s cardboard litho version.

 

In the 1930s cake charms became popular. You can still buys these at some party or novelty stores today. The idea is that you bake these into a cake, and when a guest finds a particular charm in his piece he checks it against the list of fortunes to see what lie ahead for him.

Other popular party fortune telling games were Halloween “punchboards.” These were cardboard pieces with multiple holes. The holes were filled with tightly rolled scrolls of fortunes and covered by a decorative paper front and a paper back. A metal peg was provided so you could punch the fortune through the paper. (This can be a VERY fun craft to make for your next Halloween party.)

Spinner fortune games in which one would use a spinner to point to one’s fortune were also popular. In one version the spinner may point to a symbol that would correspond to an accompanying chart or directly to the fortune.

In other versions the player may be required to do a stunt in order to get his fortune, thereby making the game more entertaining. Some of these spinner type games were Fortune By the Luminous Cat, Whirl-O, and Spin-O-Rama.

Two other interesting versions are a metal spinning fortune top and a metal disc that spins to reveal a window with a fortune underneath. This Halloween fortune game was called “What the Stars Say.” (You can make your own simple version of any of these games by drawing a circle pie-wedge divided, with fortunes written on each wedge; and a pendulum on a chain or dice to land on a pie wedge.)

Most of these games remained popular through the early 1950s and then seemed to lose favor, bowing to a more sanitized Halloween. The new era of Halloween party played more musical chairs and telephone, listened to a spooky story, or played the Grand Prize game.

A Fortunate Revival

Today’s Halloween party goers are once again enjoying the fun and mysticism of fortune telling. They bring their Ouija boards out, bring along a deck of tarot cards, perhaps the hostess bakes a cake with the charms in it or invites a psychic to foretell the future. And of course, tarot cards are more popular than ever.

Halloween collectors eagerly seek fortune telling items and Halloween games for their collections, some antique fortune telling games are extremely valuable. An antique McLoughlin Brothers lithographed fortune telling game, The Mystic Wanderer, recently sold on eBay for $820.

Perhaps you will be wooed to the mystic side of our favorite holiday. What is in the cards for you?

Book Review: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter

Explore Your Fangful Fantasies With the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. Sink your teeth into the dark-and-deep reads below.

*

Are you a secret Van Helsing fan?

Do you watch “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” cheering her on…but secretly missing the darker style of Faith?

Meet Anita Blake, vampire hunter.

She lives in a slightly twisted version of modern-day America. In Anita’s world, vampires, zombies and werecreatures live side by side with regular humans. Laws protect the preternatural, giving them legal rights. But when they break the law, normal cops aren’t equipped to deal with what ensues. So the police turn to a special division called “The Spook Squad,” where Anita serves as detective and, in three states, vampire executioner.

It’s not her only job, mind you. She’s also an animator – a talented necromancer who can raise zombies when needed (the dead do, indeed, tell tales). A grisly job, but one that allows her to put her natural affinity for the dead to good use.

The cycle of books written by Laurell K. Hamilton that detail Anita’s adventures are a highly creative, visual roller coaster of a read. Though vampires do of course form the series foundation, the presence of voodoo, werecreatures, necromancy and faerie add a level of richness that set these novels apart from others in this genre.

In Anita’s world, the vampires are sensual, powerful, scary. The werewolves, wereleopards, and wererats are alien, earthy, truly animalistic. And the heroine is tiny, scarred, and armed to the teeth. Let the hunt begin.

Suggested Reading:

Guilty Pleasures
The Laughing Corpse
Circus of the Damned
The Lunatic Café
Bloody Bones
The Killing Dance
Burnt Offerings
Blue Moon
Obsidian Butterfly
Narcissus in Chains

Spiritualism: the Spooky Movement of the 1800s

Mystics seeking answers. Women touching on empowerment. Charlatans lusting after easy money. Depending on your viewpoint, all of these people made up the spiritualist movement.

Spiritualism is defined as “a system of religious beliefs centered on the assumption that communication with the dead, or spirits, is possible.” The movement took the European world by storm in the mid-1800s. Following the thread of reason for spiritualism’s wild popularity can make the researcher a little dizzy.

The world at that time was riding the first waves of the Industrial Revolution. Underground trains, movie projectors, telegraphs and cars were new technologies. The repression of the Victorian era was starting to collide with the demand for social reforms. The new phenomenon of smog was choking the lungs of London’s inhabitants. Women demanded political equality. Activists called for the humane treatment of children and prisoners. Somewhere, hidden in Whitechapel’s darkness, the possibility of violent serial killing was being born. And on the horizon, just distant enough to be ignored if one tried hard enough, a war of worldwide proportions was starting to take shape.

In the struggle against old restrictive religions and traditional ways of working, Europeans were reaching out for new understandings, new rules – even new sciences. Phrenology – the study of the bumps on one’s skull – and mesmerism enjoyed a rush of popularity as Man strove to understand the workings of the mind. Psychology joined the fray. Investigations of the mind were somehow reassuring. This was controllable. This could reaffirm Man’s place in the world and, eventually, even help argue against social reform as one type of human could be argued to be superior to another due to solid physical evidence. For example, men’s brains were larger than women’s, so, clearly men were the smarter gender. No vote, no equality, no voice, next questions please.

It should perhaps not be a surprise, then, that it was the stifled voices of women that would first start to communicate with the dead.

People in Europe had a very different relationship with Death than we ever had here in America. They wrote comedic graveyard scenes into their novels. Lethal diseases became the stuff of nursery rhymes. Photos were taken of the dead and kept as mementos of loved ones. There was, from culture to culture, an ongoing relationship with the dead, and so perhaps it makes a sense of sorts that actual physical communication between this world and the next should be the brainchild of America, the baby-country with no history of art or culture to help define its world-view.

The roots of the spiritualist movement are generally said to have taken hold in New York, under the roof of John D. Fox. His daughters, Katherine and Margaret, decided at the tender ages of 6-1/2 and 8 to start pretending to channel spirits. The sounds of mysterious rapping’s was evidence enough that the girls’ powers were real, and by the time Margaret was 13, the Fox sisters were making public appearances to demonstrate their amazing ability to communicate with the dead.

Eventually, Margaret would publicly admit that the whole thing was a sham. In this, she was far more honest than her Salem predecessors. However, the need to believe is often greater than the need to listen, and her claims of charlatanism did very little to stem the popularity of séances.

The sounds of knocks and thuds were impressive enough evidence of mediumistic skill. But people have always wanted bigger better faster, and so people on both sides of the ocean started looking for new ways to give voice to ghostly voices.

Automatic writing – taking a pen and letting it move free-hand across pages of paper, hoping for messages from beyond to appear in the scribbles – was a very popular method of communication. Encouraging a medium to fall into a trance in hopes of hearing unworldly voices speak from her slumbering body, or mysterious vapors to emit from her mouth, was the most dramatic technique available. Using photographic equipment to attempt to capture the images of ghosts on film was attempted. Elaborate tables were devised and constructed to allow spirits – with the help of a human agent – to spell out answers to questions. This method was tedious but effective, and led to the creation of the infamous Ouija board that is still used today by psychics and bored teenagers to reach out to the dead in hopes of enlightenment or amusement.

Moving into the very early 1900s, spiritualism evolved just a bit. Two girls, playing with a camera in their garden, claimed to be photographing fairies. Today, the photos are very clearly frauds; at the time, and true to the history of believing the fanciful claims of young women, an amazing number of people believed the girls were telling the truth and embraced this as yet more proof that there is more going on around us than our practical minds can bear to consider.

Looking at the history of spiritualism, it can be a little difficult to see how anyone could take all of this seriously. How could superstition be mixed with science to create as powerful a movement as spiritualism – something that would exist, in varied forms, for nearly 200 years? The list of supporters and believers in spiritualism is, frankly, staggering. Walt Whitman and Charles Dickens experimented with trance. Quaker abolitionists Isaac and Amy Post loudly supported the work of mediums and channeled spirits themselves. One of the most surprising supporters of the movement was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Creator of Sherlock Holmes, military hero, medical doctor, and at one time the most well paid author in England, Doyle moved from skeptic to believer and became one of the most influential advocates of mediums and fairy-photographers. He self-published numerous works on the field and lost the friendship of magician Harry Houdini, who fought just as hard to disprove the power of mediums as Doyle fought to support them.

In the end, a belief in spiritualism is about hope. Hope that we can continue to have a relationship with those that have passed away. Hope that, even when the world around is in chaotic flux, there is something beyond all of this that connects our souls and minds. Hope that we have a voice above and beyond our gender, social position, or age. Hope that there is still magic in this world. And if we can just find the right way to reach out, we can touch the hem of all the supernatural fancies we dream of encountering.

Yarr Going to Love This History of Pirates and Piracy

By Dusti Lewars-Poole

Piracy may well be one of the oldest known professions. With roots wrapped around Roman past and Viking exploits, piracy has inspired terror and fantasy for centuries.

Today, the word “pirate” brings to mind dashing rebellious male spirits with gold teeth, elaborate coats, and oversized plumed hats. Swords and pistols, handhooks and maps, eye patches and parrots – these are the tools of the trade. Treasure and freedom are the themes. The reality is, of course, a much more complicated matter.

Pirates, or more accurately “sea thieves”, were first mentioned in writing as far back as 140 B.C. For most of history, water has offered Man the quickest way to travel and transport goods. Ships and seaports were long recognized as holding the possibility of wealth – and where there’s wealth, there will be those who want to claim a share of it.

Privateers – Pirates By Any Other Name …

Surprisingly, the actual “golden age of piracy” – the time when pirates such as Blackbeard hit rock-star-fame status – only lasted from (roughly) 1665-1716. And frequently, the status of “pirate” depended on who was attacking whom. Some acts of piracy were perfectly legal – nations would hire adventurous individuals as “privateers,” complete with legal military status, to attack enemy shipping.

Being a privateer rather than a pirate, however, didn’t guarantee any sort of safety if one was caught. A thief is a thief in the eyes of the ones being robbed, and legal privateers were punished nearly as harshly as any criminal pirate. Depending on one’s perspective, privateers had it worse, as they faced life imprisonment rather than death by hanging, which is the traditional punishment for being a pirate.

So Spain’s privateers attacked French ships, France’s attacked the Spanish, England’s attacked French and Spanish ships, and the Maltese corsairs happily attacked any Christian-owned boat that dared sail the Mediterranean. And all too often, the lure of wealth led many a soul to cross the admittedly vague line from legal attacks to illegal robbery.

Sometimes, the road to piracy was inflicted on a person. If one’s military ship is manned by pirate wanna-bee’s, it’s not difficult to imagine a scenario where the crew might mutiny, taking over the ship, dragging a captain from a respectable life as an officer into a seedier career choice. Other times, the life of a pirate offered a person a chance to jump social statuses in a world where having the ill luck to be born to the wrong family trapped many a soul into a constrained life. And in times of peace, when there were too many sailors and too little salary, piracy had an obvious appeal.

Women Were Pirates, Too

Women made the very hazardous jump into piracy as well. History tells of at least two – Anne Bonny and Mary Read. They were women that disguised their gender at a young age in pursuit of a better life. Anne became a pirate because of love; Mary, because of being taken hostage by a pirate crew. Chances are very good that there were other ladies riding the waves as well – but considering that Fate was not kind to most women on board ships, it’s also very likely that these women would have tried to pass themselves off as men as much as possible.

Hollywood tells us that a pirate’s life was glamorous and wealthy, filled with buried treasures and hook-hands. A glance at history doesn’t entirely dismiss this version of the truth. A successful pirate was wealthy, squandering his wealth on luxury during his time ashore. Setting money aside for the future wasn’t a common practice. Pirates didn’t usually live to a ripe old age. Lost limbs were common. Disease and malnutrition frequently hit crews. A pirate captured during a raid was usually hung. While it’s true that some pirates succeeded in retiring from their rough life on the sea, it seems to have been the exception rather than the rule.

Democracy on the High Seas

One thing that Hollywood does not tell us is the fact that democracy was very common on pirate ships. Captains were often voted into power by the crew. Decisions that involved non-battle situations were usually reached by vote. At a time when most countries were still controlled by monarchies, the fact that pirate crews were figuring out new ways to govern themselves is one of the more intriguing aspects of piracy.

Aargh, Where’s Me Parrot? And Other Historical Inaccuracies

It may also be a surprise to learn that peg legs, parrots and huge sailing ships were actually not the norm in the world of the pirate. While limbs could certainly be lost in this very rough life, many people did not survive the amputation of legs, so it’s unlikely that peg legs would have been as common as Hollywood might portray them as being. Eye patches and hook-hands may have been seen more often, as the loss of an eye or hand is far easier to survive, and a hook is obviously more useful than an unadorned stump.

Parrots, frankly, are very high maintenance, and while their exotic look may have been appealing, it’s not likely that the limited supply of food on board, as well as the rough nature of the sea, would have brought much joy or health to a macaw. And while big ships with lots of cannons is a thrilling image on screen, small ships, quick to maneuver and very lightly armed, were a pirate’s first choice of transportation. Battles at sea would have been extremely dangerous. Most pirates preferred to race up to their target, hop on board, and steal as much as they could manage, and get away as quickly as possible.

Piracy Today

A final surprise: There are indeed modern pirates. Some are poor fishermen, sneaking on board docked ships and stealing anything they can get their hands on. Others are highly organized; heavily armed criminals that aren’t afraid to attack a moving ship. Somalia has become known as a place for sailors to be wary of. The waters around Indonesia had the most recorded acts of piracy today. The International Maritime Bureau warns that the area between the south China Sea and the Java Sea is a high-risk area.

Pirates today use mortars, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. They’re stealing oil and ships. They take hostages. They kill resisting captains. There is little that is glamorous or sexy about it. So let Hollywood weave its web of sexy glamor around the myth and history of piracy. Wrap yourself in the fantasy. Embrace the pirate-heritage our history books barely touch on. But don’t forget…it’s all as real today as it was 3000 years ago. Out on the ocean, there still be pirates lurking.

Halloween Myths & Monsters

By Lesley Bannatyne excerpted from A Halloween How-Tohalloween seance

“I hate Halloween,” exclaims an elderly caller on an AM radio talk show in Maryland. “They should get rid of it. Kids today are just destructive.”

“Halloween glorifies Satan,” warns a preacher on national cable television. “Kids shouldn’t dress up as devils, period.”

“I would never let my children go out trick or treating alone,” confides a D.C.-area mom of her six year-old and ten-year old. “I’d never forgive myself if something happened.”

People hurl invectives at Halloween like bullets. It’s dangerous. Bang. It’s Satanic. Bang. It’s commercial. Bang. It’s too scary, too corrupted, too sanitized. Bang, bang, bang.

But when people rail against Halloween, they don’t really mean Halloween. What they usually mean is let’s get rid of vandalism, or begging, or slasher movies. (The actual holiday serves a need so human we’ll probably still be celebrating when the ice cap melts and we’re all trick or treating in powerboats.) And the more popular Halloween gets, the more we hear about the down side: razor blades in apples, black cat kidnappings, Satanic rituals. What’s true, exaggerated, or just plain made-up? Let’s turn on the light and see what’s a monster and what’s simply a coat tree casting a shadow on the wall.

Halloween Myths: True or False? Halloween is a Holiday for Witches. True. Samhain (sow-en), celebrated on October 31st, is one of eight major seasonal holidays marked by many contemporary witches and neopagans.

Modern-day pagans use solstices and quarter days to mark the turning points of the year. Samhain’s reserved for honoring ancestors and remembering loved ones who’ve died, and for acknowledging the cyclical nature of living and dying.

Although practices vary widely, most will gather for a ritual. There’s nothing Satanic involved. Nor are there sacrifices, invocations of evil, or naked orgies. The meeting place (be it inside or out) would likely be lit with candles and jack-o-lanterns, and decorated with harvest fruits and vegetables. People would enter quietly and gather in a circle. There might be a brief invocation of a goddess or god to provide wisdom, or a guided visualization to help participants understand the process of death and rebirth. Participants might remember people in their lives who have died recently, express grief, and share memories. The ritual might include some scrying (looking into the future) and conclude with everyone dancing to the beat of a drum and chanting. Samhain is a time of death–of the summer and the fields–but within the frozen ground are beginnings of new life, and the goddess will return at the appointed time. The earth will green.

Satanic cults use Halloween to perform ritualistic crimes. False. There are two questions to address here. First, to what extent do Satanic cults or ritualistic crimes really exist? And secondly, what’s Satan’s connection to Halloween?

Encyclopediaist J. Gordon Melton calls Satanism “the world’s largest religion that does not exist.” The largest organized Satanist-style cults such as the Church of Satan or the Temple of Set (never more than a few hundred members in their heyday) are now largely dormant, and Melton has discovered that most practicing Satanic cults usually number three to five people and last only a few months. There is no religious denomination or even any cult today celebrates the Devil on Halloween, not even so-called Satanists, since they don’t acknowledge the existence of any higher power including Satan. In addition, there are no confirmed statistics, court cases, or studies to support the idea that serious Satanic cult crime even exists (for a good study of Satanic cult activity in America today, read Jeffrey Victor’s Satanic Panic). It turns out that most of the devil-worshipping activity reported in the media is perpetrated by teenagers based on what they’ve read in church literature or seen in movies.

So how did Satan get tied to Halloween? Satan didn’t come into the formula until the 14th through 17th centuries-loosely, the time of the witch craze-when witches were thought to make a pact with the Devil at their rituals. Fears of witchcraft and Satanic rituals had abated with the Enlightenment, and by the 20th century, pointy black hats and red horns were simply part of the fun of Halloween. But films like Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, and all the Halloween movies (among many, many others) have etched a more detailed, modern persona for the Devil in our imaginations. When Hollywood started to mine Halloween imagery for terror, churches become more vocal about celebrating Halloween, and rumors of Satanic rituals grew rampant.

It may simply be that Halloween’s symbols are incendiary. In our image-based society, somewhere along the line we began to confuse symbols of death with those of Hell. I suspect it’s Hollywood, more than anything else, that helped put the hell in Halloween.

Black cats are in danger on Halloween. Rarely, but yes. Over the past decade or so newspapers have run several stories about black cats being abducted and used in occult rites on Halloween–there’ve been reports of mysterious animal bone graveyards and satanic symbols drawn on and around cats. What you don’t usually see is the terse follow-up story, several weeks later and not nearly on the front page, explaining that no abduction occurred, or that the bones were part of a known animal graveyard.

Around 1997, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) instituted a better-safe-than-sorry policy and advised against the adoption of black cats three days before and after Halloween. In that year, the organization got suspicious when a woman adopted a black cat, but when the ASPCA made a follow-up call to see how the cat was doing, the woman reported the cat was dead. When ASPCA workers came to pick up the body, they discovered she’d given a phony address. The investigation of the case halted there. Was the cat harmed? Was it somehow related to Halloween? We won’t ever know. But taking a proactive approach seemed the Society’s safest choice.

As of 2001, the staff of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) had not personally witnessed a case of black cat abuse at Halloween (in fact, most shelters report no such cases). It has, however, reported hearing stories, and so recommended protection of black cats around Halloween.

The threat is not all smoke and mirrors. There have been a few, highly publicized incidents of black cat abuse around Halloween–I was able to find and track a dozen reported incidents between 1992 and 1999 (for comparison, in roughly the same time period, an estimated 2500 dogs and cats had died or suffered during air travel, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture). Upon further investigation, some cases turned out to be unrelated to Halloween or black cats: two of the cats were unharmed, only seven of the incidents involved black cats (as opposed to brown cats or tabbies), and it’s difficult to document how many happened on or near Halloween (either the shelters had gone out of business or the staff could not remember). In the only case that was prosecuted, the perpetrators were teenagers. Oftentimes, confusing the issue, journalists report examples of animal abuse that have taken place at other times of the year in articles about black cat abuse at Halloween. As a result, the sense of a crisis exists where there are only unrelated, isolated incidents, none of them involving ritual sacrifice by Satanic cults, but rather cruelty and crimes committed by individuals.

The increased media, however, does give the shelters and humane societies a chance to educate the public about pet safety. For those who love and care for cats, saving even one life makes any effort worthwhile.

Halloween Trivia Game – Music Pop Quiz

Music and games: this classically chilling combo really sets the mood at your Halloween party. So just for you, we’ve pulled together this easy, awesomesauce  Halloween music  trivia game!

Quiz yourself or a creepy friend with these 13 creepy classics. They span nearly six decades so everyone can get in on the freaky fun. Enjoy!

1) According to the song “Werewolves of London,” what was the werewolf at Trader Vic’s drinking?

a) a gin and tonic

b) a pina colada

c) a sex on the beach

d) a sloe gin fizz

(Answer: b)

2) According to the Charlie Daniels Band, what fiddle-player did the devil encounter when he went down to Georgia?

a) Billy Ray

b) Cotton-Eyed Joe

c) Trevor

d) Johnny

(Answer: d)

3) In the Disney classic children’s Halloween song, what do the Grim Grinning Ghosts come out to do?

a) socialize

b) haunt the mansion

c) awaken the dead

d) dance

(Answer: a)

4) What Australian rock band wrote “Hell’s Bells” in an album released Oct. 31, 1980?

a) Black Sabbath

b) White Zombie

c) Alice Cooper

d) AC/DC

(Answer: d)

5) What spooky television theme song was nominated for a Grammy in 1965?

a) The Addams Family Theme

b) The Twilight Zone Theme

c) The Munsters Theme

d) The Outer Limits Theme

(Answer: c)

6) The Spanish-influenced classic “Black Magic Woman” by the band Santana has an alternate name. What is it?

a) Gypsy Queen

b) Witchy Woman

c) Borderlands

d) The Spell

(Answer: a)

7) What world-famous bad boy did the Rolling Stones have sympathy for in 1968?

a) Pilate

b) the devil

c) Vlad the Impaler

d) Joseph Stalin

(Answer: b)

8) Who wrote the song “Spooky” (“…Love is kind of crazy with a spooky little girl like you”…)?

a) Mike Sharpe

b) Dennis Yost

c) The Classics IV

d) Atlanta Rhythm Section

(Answer: c)

9) How many horns did the Flying Purple People Eater have?

a) one

b) two

c) three

d) four

(Answer: a)

10) What must you leave at the door if you wish to enter the Dead Man’s Party?

a) your weapons

b) beer

c) your body

d) your inhibitions

(Answer: c)

11) According to the rock band Eagles (bonus trivia: it’s just “Eagles,” not “the Eagles” – yup, really!), she’s been sleeping in the devil’s bed. Who is she?

a) Melania Trump

b) the Enchantress

c) the Witchy Woman

d) money (it’s symbolic)

12) His jarring “Cupid Carries a Gun” was used as the theme song for the short-lived TV series Salem. Who is he?

a) Marilyn Manson

b) Rob Zombie

c) Dannie Elfman

d) Thomas Dolby

(Answer: a)

13) Apparently, this group LOVED trick-or-treating in the 1980s! Who performed “I Want Candy”?

a) Bow Wow Wow

b) The Bangles

c) Cindy Lauper

d) The B-52s

(Answer: a)

Image credit: 123rf.com

 

 

 

 

 

The Story Behind Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and Universal Studios

Madame Tussaud’s Sculpter Creating the Wax Frankenstein

Universal Studios, an industry leader in creating horror films, celebrated the anniversary of several Universal classics horror classics in 2001. In a landmark relationship, Universal Studios Home Video (USHV) joined Tussaud’s Group of London and Madame Tussaud’s worldwide attractions to pay tribute to Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Development of the Dracula, Frankenstein and Mummy characters for Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museums coincides with USHV’s 2001 national campaign for a new Golden Era of Horror, celebrating several “monstrumental” anniversaries that have defined Halloween entertainment for generations. And, this is the first time Madame Tussaud’s has created wax figures of celebrities in costume and character makeup.

Madame Tussaud’s artisans created lifelike wax figures of Bela Lugosi’s Dracula persona to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Dracula (1931). The film combined gothic and supernatural elements to create an eerie, unforgettable story of the undead. Dracula established horror as a viable genre in the emerging era of talking pictures and was one of the most influential films of its day.

Larry King
Larry King checks out eyeballs for his wax figure.

Boris Karloff’s portrayals of Frankenstein and The Mummy are immortalized in wax alongside Dracula. Also celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2001, Frankenstein is considered by many critics to be the greatest horror film of all time. Based on Mary Shelley’s gothic novel, the film, directed by James Whale, was a milestone in the genre. This film expanded the use of special effects, while Karloff’s nuanced performance made the creature both oddly affecting and deeply terrifying. The Mummy (1932) remains a monster movie classic. A high priest, the Mummy, was embalmed alive for trying to revive a vestal virgin after being sacrificed. The Mummy is accidentally revived after 3,700 years by a team of British archaeologists and he sets out to find his lost love. Seventy years after initial release this brooding, dream-like film remains a masterpiece.

The three classic monster wax figures are featured in Madame Tussaud’s New York. “For more than 200 years, Madame Tussaud’s has created incredibly lifelike figures of the world’s most recognizable individuals,” said Robert Roger, acting CEO for The Tussaud’s Group. “With enthusiastic support of Universal and the Karloff and Lugosi families, we have the unique opportunity to pay tribute to two renowned actors and their contributions to the early success of the horror genre on film.”

Madame Tussaud’s New York displays nearly 200 celebrities along with Dracula, Frankenstein and The Mummy. The New York facility opened on November 15, 2000. It is a prestigious, $50 million, 85,000 square foot, five-story interactive attraction located at 234 West 42nd Street in New York, The museum is open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. For information online visit their website at www.madame-tussauds.com or contact them by phone at 800.246.8872.

Halloween Safety Guide – Tips on Having Fun when Trick-or-Treating

With Halloween witches, goblins, and super-heroes descending on neighborhoods across the USA, the American Red Cross offers parents, grandparents and guardians some safety tips to help prepare their children for a safe and enjoyable trick-or-treat holiday.

Halloween should be filled with surprise and enjoyment. Add some common sense practices and you’ll make sure your child’s memories of Halloween are golden.

  • On Halloween night, walk, slither, and sneak on sidewalks, not in the street.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street to check for cars, trucks, and low-flying brooms.
  • Cross the street only at corners or controlled intersections.
  • Don’t hide or cross the street between parked cars.
  • Wear light-colored or reflective-type clothing so you are more visible. (And remember to put reflective tape on bikes, skateboards, and brooms, too!)
  • Plan your Halloween route and share it with your family. If possible, have an adult go with you.
  • Carry a flashlight to light your way. Make sure yo uhave fresh batteries as well.
  • Keep away from open fires and candles. (Costumes can be extremely flammable.)
  • Visit homes that have the porch light on.
  • Accept your treats at the door and NEVER go inside a stranger’s house.
  • Use face paint rather than masks or things that will cover your eyes. You want to maintain good vision.
  • Be cautious of animals and strangers.
  • Have a grown-up inspect all your treats before eating. And don’t eat candy if the package is already opened. Also remember that small, hard pieces of candy are a choking hazard for young children.
  • Brush your teeth after consuming any candy.

Remember Halloween should be a fun holiday experience for all. Using common sense is the first step to enjoying and having a safe and sane Halloween. Enjoy and happy Halloween.

Halloween: Fact or Fiction? Quiz Yourself Here!

Did trick-or-treating start in the Middle Ages? What did the Irish carve to scare demons away? And how many razor blades are found in apples every Halloween?

You may be surprised by what you do (and don’t!) know about Halloween. Today we peel back the layers to find out what’s real, and what’s just so much hocus-pocus.

*

Halloween is shrouded (oh yes we did go there) in myth. Test yourself with these 8 spooky questions:

Fact or Fiction? Halloween was originally a Celtic holiday and was celebrated on October 31.

Credit: norsemyth.org

Fact…more or less.  The ancient Celts celebrated the new year around today’s calendar reckoning of Oct. 31. (In pre-Christian times, the Celts obviously did not count calendar days in this way.)

The Celtic year was separated into two seasons, Summer and Winter. Summer’s end (Samhain, pronounced sow-een) was celebrated around our current reckoning of October 31. Bonfires, stories, rituals and sometimes the dissecting of sacrificed animals might all be included in this special night.

The Celts weren’t alone: most pre-Christian religions in areas of the globe that experience a hot v. cold season or seasons probably utilized this change of year for similar rites.

For more historic tidbits, see what The History Chanel has to say about the day here.

Fact or Fiction? Trick-or-treating is a historically modern Halloween custom which began in the early 1900s.

Credit: wikipedia.org

Fact. We know – you’ve heard of the Celts and offerings, and of Medieval beggars and soul cakes. All that is true, but historically, a “begging” night on Oct. 31 by children is much more recent.

 

Halloween began to pick up steam int he Americas in the late 19th century, largely through small home parties. Then the first decades of the 20th century, children began “begging” for treats, though not always on Halloween – according to author Betty Smith, kids delivered nasty tricks to miserly shopkeepers who refused to give up the goods on Election Day.

In the wake of much not always innocent mischief-making, including the setting of fires and other stunts, parents began organizing smaller gatherings. By the Baby Boom generation (just after World War II, trick-or-treating in costumes now available at stores had become official and was practiced across the United States.

Fact or Fiction? The Irish carved the first jack-o-lanterns out of pumpkins.

Credit: elleuk.com

Fiction. The first jack-o-lanterns, carved in Ireland ans Scotland, were actually made out of beets or, more usually, turnips. Children hollowed out the veggies, carved faces on them and placed candles inside tos care away evil spirits on Halloween night.

Once immigrants arrived in America, they found pumpkins more plentiful  and easier to carve and used them instead.

Fact or Fiction? According to folklore, the jack-o’-lantern got his name from a man named Jack.

Image: questionscommons.com

Fact. The tale of Jack of the Lantern, or Jack o’Lantern, involved a man who was so vile, the devil himself ejected Jack from hell. But the devil took pity on the poor (lost) soul and gave Jack an ember to carry around to light his way.

Some versions of the story tell of the devil chasing Jack’s soul and coming close to claiming it before finally becoming victorious. Jack laughingly got away every time – except the last.

Satan was at first triumphant, but when he found what he had on his hands, he tossed Jack back upward from hell to the surface of the earth. A wayward coal bounced up with him, and Jack scooped it up to light his way.

Halloween Fact or Fiction: Halloween is the top-selling candy day of the year.

Fiction. Although Halloween comes in a very tight second, Easter is the U.S.’s top candy money-making day, at $8.34 billion in 2017.

However, Halloween is still impressive in this area, at $8 billion. (We’ve heard rumors that $3 billion of those are pocketed away for the giver’s own pleasure after trick-or-treat hours are over, but we can’t quantify that. Now, excuse us while we raid the treat bowl.)

Fact or fiction? Chicago is home to the first Halloween community festival.

Credit: twincities.com

FictionIndependence, Kansas lays claim to this title with their Neewollah (Halloween spelled backwards) festival, which premiered in 1918 and has been held at intervals since then.

In 1920, Anoka, Minnesota named itself “the Halloween capital of the world,” kicking off with a town-wide parade and celebration. The festival has been held every year since.

Fact or Fiction? Approximately 300 children visit the emergency room annually on or around Halloween due to a razor blade hidden inside fruit or candy.

Credit: robhoovermagic.com

Fiction. Although this gory image is a Halloween (here we go again) staple, only a handful of such reports have EVER been verified.

According to snopes.com, while pins, razor blades, objects that could produce choking, and other dangerous items have been found in Halloween candy, official investigations have only been able to verify 80 such reports since 1959. (That’s an average of just over one reported, verified incident per year across the United States.)

We still recommend safety, but the Halloween “pin in an apple” tradition has obviously gotten a creative boost, based on our natural inclination to fear strangers and protect children…both of which are good things.

Fact or fiction? Halloween was banned during World War II due to conservation efforts.

Credit: http://smlocalhistory.blogspot.com

Fiction. While Americans rationed food and materials during World War II, an effort was made to celebrate Halloween during this difficult time. Adults got children in on “Conservation Day,” with salvaged paper the price of admission for Halloween parties. Inexpensive materials were used to craft hand-made, often quite inspired decorations.

The day might also feature parades showcasing Red Cross Units, Air Raid Wardens, and Auxiliary Police Units – all dressed up in Halloween  costume finery. Contests were also held, with local merchants donating prizes.

After the war, Halloween went into full-swing with trick-or-treating, dress-up and parties…and the rest is history.

 

Black Kettle Treat Buckets

Need to add some lights to your steps or room? Grab one of the black plastic kettle treat buckets and cut an ‘X’ in the bottom. Grab a string of colored outdoor mini lights and lay them in the bottom of the kettle. Pull the cord through the bottom of the kettle, and ta da! You now have an indoor/outdoor, eerie-looking light fixture for little or no cost.

You can really dress this idea up is you have a drill and an old pumpkin carving template. Tape the template on the side of the kettle and get a pencil. Make a dot where you want to drill your holes and get started. Practice with your template on a piece of cardboard first before you tackle the kettle. You can line your walkway or steps with these and have them for next year too.

Paper Bats

I know you are thinking – I must be nuts to suggest using paper bats as a serious decoration. I am nuts when it comes to these little beauties and just wait until you try them, and you will see why. The bats are fun and quick to make and add a lot to a room, at very little cost. You can add bats to any area of your room including your mini blinds by hot gluing them on clothes pins! You can have several different sized bats hanging from fishing line on the ceiling. Take a ball of rubber tack and stick them on your walls, pictures and mirrors. I tell ya, there are so many ways to use these simple paper bats, and I think you will agree once you try them.

Here is what you need:

  • Bat pattern
  • Heavy black paper stock
  • Fishing line
  • Hot glue gun
  • Tape
  • Clothes pins
  • Office tack

Draw a bat or find a pattern that you like and photo copy your pattern in three different sizes on card stock. Cut the copied pattern out and trace them onto your black paper. Now look around your room/s and try to decide on how many bats you want to make and where you would like to have your bats. Take a bat and hot glue it to the clothes pin and let it cool for a few seconds. It is ready to be pinned. Be sure that your bats aren’t all glued on to the clothes pins going just one direction. Turn some sideways, upside down and right side up. It will help you create a more realistic pattern on your lamps, ceiling and mini blinds. Take a piece of tape, carefully fold the wings together and hang them near the ceiling upside down like the bats are resting.