Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Stranger Anthology.

Check out an essay I did about Halloween.
Go there now!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Making Cookies...

So, I fully understand that some of you nuts out there think these cookies taste like silly putty mixed with playdough. I also stand by the assertion that if you think this, you are nuts.

These are the quintessential store-bougbt Halloween cookies. They are simple, festive, and delicious. I look forward to them every year.

What's not to love about perfect pegs of dough painted with pumpkins?

Just plop the dough onto your cookie sheet and while you wait for them to plump and brown, you can cut out the mask on the back and scare your dogs with it.

These things were made for Halloween. They are insanely addictive. You can't help but eat the entire batch.

And you'd better. Because if they sit for longer than one night, you could use them for hockey - which isn't really a Halloween sport unless you're Canadian.

Anyway, come on over. I'll pour some milk or apple cider and we can sit on the back porch and chow down. 

I'll keep 'em warm and fresh for you.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

My Anthology is Now on Amazon

That's right, kiddies, your friendly neighborhood Halloween Haunter has a story coming out in a new anthology. I am pleased to introduce you to: The Stranger.

The Stranger is a horror anthology put out by Corbeau Media. The stories are all Halloween related, so I'm not sure why they didn't call it a "Halloween" anthology, but I guess horror is fresh all year long.

There are 12 stories by different authors. I am D.L. Duncan and you can find me below.

The synopsis is as follows:

Get in the Halloween spirit with twelve new horror novellas from the twisted minds of our favorite authors. With demons, serial killers, cursed objects, fallen angels, and Death himself, there’s a spooky treat for every taste in this delicious mix. Dig in and see what The Stranger has in store for you.

Denise A. Agnew: Peeper. A peeping Tom discovers there’s something more evil than him roaming the neighborhood.

Joan Blackheart: The Factory. When a traveler takes a temp job at a factory in Wales, nothing is scarier than the daily grind.

L. Bowen: Not Yet. G has never mattered before now. But after being pushed too close to the edge, she gets a taste of what it really means to be alive.

Courtney Butler: Mona. In a world abandoned by God, humanity imprisons a fallen angel.

Jessica Cale: Bear River. Death stalks a Minnesota nursing home…until a night nurse stalks him back.

D.L. Duncan: Tough Cookie. Halloween baking gets scarier with a set of cursed cookie cutters.

Sarah Elliot: The Collector. Karma comes for the cruel when the Collector is marked for collection.

Arthur M. Harper: Oceanus. Psychological experiments on a submarine. What could possibly go wrong?

Jennifer Johnson: The Deck. A woman at a crossroads must fight for her life when a man arrives with a special deck of tarot cards.

Rosanna Leo: The Cemetery Guardian. A grieving woman meets a tall, dark stranger at the Toronto Necropolis.

Quenby Olson: With My Own Eyes. A spiritualist comes face to face with a demon in Victorian England.

Justin Thoby: The Last Son. A knight rides down the apocalypse in a violent hellscape of zombies and false idols.

The book comes out on October 2. You can pre-order it, now. Here is the link so you can check it out, yourself.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Office Dry Ice Party!

Wednesday Afternoons are tons more fun with dry ice in the office.

It's always nice to freak out your staff with a little dry ice in the sink. They didn't know what to think.

It felt a bit like October in August and I loved every second of it.

At first, the staff was like, "What?!?" Then they were like, "Oh!" It was a pretty good afternoon.

We finished it up with some Cookies and Screeem M&M's. Good times...

The Monster Mash

Hello Boils and Ghouls. It's time to unpack that perennial favorite - that creepy cool king of Halloween - The Monster Mash.

Arguably the most popular song for Halloween howling, The Monster Mash is the one track that you can expect to appear on every All Hallow's party playlist. In fact, that venerable ghoul, Dr. Demento, called it "The biggest Halloween song of all time."

Catchy, fun, and instantly likable with a 1960's vibe, The Mash fires on all cylinders, and nothing can get you in the spooky mood faster than the opening creek of the castle door, the bubbling cauldron, the rattling chains, and those echoing footsteps...

The song was written in 1962 by Robert George Pickett, also known as Bobby "Boris" Pickett. 

Bobby got the nickname "Boris" because of his spot-on Boris Karloff impersonation.  During the day he was an actor and at night he sang with a Do-Wop group known as:

 One night, Bobby was joking around, and did a Karloff impersonation while performing with the band. One of his band mates, Lenny Capizzi, thought it was awesome and encouraged him to do more. In fact, ol' Bob (as he liked to be called*), did an entire monologue in the Karloff voice.

This led to Pickett and Capizzi to sit down and within about 30 minutes they had written the song. 

 The narrative is one of a mad scientist who brings a Frankenstein monster to life on a stormy night. When the monster gets off the slab, he does a dance, which becomes a "monster" hit across the country. Soon other monsters come to a party where Dracula laments the demise of his "Transylvania Twist"*.

The song was recorded with  a who's who of seasoned professional musicians, and dubbed them: The Crypt-Kicker Five.

Here are the lyrics, in case you missed them:

I was working in the lab late one night
When my eyes beheld an eerie sight
For my monster from his slab began to rise
And suddenly to my surprise
He did the mash
He did the monster mash
The monster mash
It was a graveyard smash
He did the mash
It caught on in a flash
He did the mash
He did the monster mash
From my laboratory in the castle east
To the master bedroom where the vampires feast
The ghouls all came from their humble abodes
To get a jolt from my electrodes
They did the mash
They did the monster mash
The monster mash
It was a graveyard smash
They did the mash
It caught on in a flash
They did the mash
They did the monster mash
The zombies were having fun
The party had just begun
The guests included Wolf Man
Dracula and his son
The scene was rockin', all were digging the sounds
Igor on chains, backed by his baying hounds
The coffin-bangers were about to arrive
With their vocal group, "The Crypt-Kicker Five"
They played the mash
They played the monster mash
The monster mash
It was a graveyard smash
They played the mash
It caught on in a flash
They played the mash
They played the monster mash
Out from his coffin, Drac's voice did ring
Seems he was troubled by just one thing
He opened the lid and shook his fist
And said, "Whatever happened to my Transylvania twist"
It's now the mash
It's now the monster mash
The monster mash
And it's a graveyard smash
It's now the mash
It's caught on in a flash
It's now the mash
It's now the monster mash
Now everything's cool, Drac's a part of the band
And my monster mash is the hit of the land
For you, the living, this mash was meant too
When you get to my door, tell them Boris sent you
Then you can mash
Then you can monster mash
The monster mash
And do my graveyard smash
Then you can mash
You'll catch on in a flash
Then you can mash
Then you can monster mash

The effects were done on the cheap. The castle door creaking was a nail in a board, the cauldron and scientific equipment was blowing through a straw into a glass of water, and the chains were ordinary dog leashes, rattled and tossed about.

The song was immediately successful and cracked the top ten in December of 1962. Bobby was thrilled with the results, but was surprised when there was a revival of the tunes in the 70's. The song hit the Billboard charts again in 1970 and 1973. In fact, Pickett is the only performer whose original recording hit the top 100 three separate times.

To show you how much times have changed, the song was banned in Great Britain in 1962, for being too morbid... 

BTW, did you know that Pickett's original backup band was a group of young unknown guys called: "The Beach Boys"? 

There are lots of other interesting facts about Pickett and the song. The truth is out there... if you look for it.

Pickett kept performing the song live and fully embraced it until his death from leukemia in 2007. Here is a video of one of the live performances. It's really great to see him on stage with the "Ghoul of Cool", Zacherley. We'll talk more about him on another post.

Zacherley is a late-night talk show host, who made his own albums and was featured by Rob Zombie on his Halloween Hootenanny album. He recorded a ton of horror songs and is a must for any fear aficionado. 

It was so successful that it spawned two sequels: Monster Holiday and Monster Rap. Neither could reach the success of the Mash.


In the end, the song has become a staple of spookiness. Various books have illustrated its story and there even was a movie made, starring Pickett. It says it was written by the co-writers of Toy Story.

It has Candace Cameron as one of the main stars. In fact, I demand you watch it, right now:

The Monster Mash has been covered by over 100 groups. Here is a small sampling...

First up, is a Metallica rip-off, heavy metal Monster Mash version:

Next we have the delightfully punky version as recorded by The Misfits:

Here is a folksy acoustic version that I kinda dig:

Last, but definitely not least, is one of my favorites. We have the Master of Horror, Vincent Price, serenading some ghouls:

So there you have it. Everything you never wanted to know about The Monster Mash. Go get the album and rock it, hard!

*nobody ever called him that, to my knowledge. 
** which was also Pickett, doing his best Lugosi impersonation. 

M&M's Cookies and Screeem

Some days start off rough and tumbly and then you walk into your favorite store and find something new and suddenly, everything seems right and good in the world. 

Such is the case, today...

Introducing M&M's Cookies and Screeem!

Now, I know these are all over the web, but they aren't out at most stores. They were out at my local Target, so I felt the need to review them. 

First, why is it that I never realized that it's not M&Ms, rather it is M&M's? I never noticed the apostrophe. I did not realize that M&M's were possessive. Now you could call me a bad consumer, and I certainly wouldn't with you on that note. But I have to ask, how many of you noticed the apostrophe?

It turns out that Forrest Mars (of Mars bars fame) made a plan with William Murrie, the then president of a little company called Hershey. He wanted to make a candy-coated chocolate and needed Hershey's to provide the goods. Thus, M&M's stands for Mars and Murrie's. The exact title is M&M's chocolate candies.

Why didn't they use Mars' own recipe for chocolate? Simple. He didn't have one. He was inspired by a British candy called Smarties that are candy coated chocolate discs.

But what about these M&M's?

Right away, you know you are getting something special. The moment you open the bag, your nose screams OREOS! 

No, these aren't Oreo flavored, they are cookie and cream. But,  everyone knows that cookies and cream means Oreo.  Nobody looks at a gallon of cookies and cream ice cream and thinks, "Hey, this must be Hydrox* flavored.

The candies that come out of the bag look kind of like old malted milk balls that might have been sucked on a bit. They almost resemble moldy chocolates. 

Once you bite into them, they are nice mixture of candy shell, a dark chocolate layer, and then the creme from the cookies. The taste is generic cookies and cream, but there is something compelling about them. Let's just say that my bag is currently half-full**.

The flavor is yummy. The smell is divine. And this is a fabulous new addition to Halloween 2017.

*You can find out all about Hydrox, here.
**What can I say, I'm an optimist. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Monster Bop

So when I first heard the name of this album, I actually thought it was Monster Hop. Since that was the first song from the collection that I listened to, it made sense. I remember it like it was five years ago*. 

I was listening to Pandora and found a station that was all Halloween. The moment I heard The Monster Hop, which we covered in quite a bit of detail below, I wanted to know where the song had come from. I saw that it was off this collection. So, I headed off to Amazon, and purchased it.

Now this is a collection!  

Check out this tracklist:

You want a Halloween primer, this is it! There are so many good tracks on this disc that I insist you run off to your favorite online retailer and purchase this disc right now. 

Go on.

I'll wait...

There. Did you do it?

Don't you feel better? You know hold a very special disc in your hands. Take this, burn the mp3's and then make a playlist. Add the Halloween theme, the Monster Mash, Werewolves of London, Crazy Little Demon, and the Purple People Eater, and you've got yourself a nice little mix that will bring the undead out in any party you're at.

You're Welcome. 

*That's because it was five years ago.

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Little Playlist Wallpaper

Here is the background of this blog, in full...


So today I went to Target and... It has begun!

I stumbled through the aisles, searching for some kind of nutritious snack to get me through the mid-afternoon slumps, when I stumbled upon a glorious sight that filled my eyes with joyous tears and caused an audible sigh to be flung from my throat with the force of the old model rockets I used to build in 4-H*.

That's right, they were putting out the Halloween stuff! 

Now much has been said about fabrics stores and craft nooks, but they are expected to get on the holiday ball way before most people are ready. But when a big box retailer like Target starts to put out their stock, you know the season is here! 

 Now I know that the dude above looks like some Halloween ghoul or werewolf mannequin, but it's not. It's just some stock-boy doing his job. And what a job! 

Look at these fun boxes he gets to unpack!

The displays may only be a quarter full, but that was plenty enough for me to get a good feeling about this years' selection. On the top row of this rack was the Halloween Cadbury eggs that everyone has been spotting.

This rack has several types of candy corn, including an apple mix that has pie, cider and caramel apples amongst others.

The novelty selection hasn't quite filled in yet, and even though most items are repeats of last year, I'm still digging the gummy eyeball ice cube trays and the blue Frankenstein monster Chupa Chups.

These cheery jack o-cheese puffs were just grinning at me as if to say, "Yo, eat me." 

I just might, jack, I just might... 

One of my favorite sections is always the baking supplies. I don't know why. There is just always something so festive about the thought of making tons of decorated Halloween health destroyers and then gobbling them down as I bask in the blue flickering glow of Halloween 3: Season of the Witch. 

For some reason, I always am compelled to buy a package of those meringue pumpkin cupcake toppers and then eat the whole thing. That's right, I peel the egg white and sugar treats off the package and don't even wait for the cupcakes.**

Sometimes I put them face-down on my tongue and they leave a nifty little jack o' lantern tattoo***. 

So, here was something new to me. It's the Reese's Pieces Pumpkin Face Cookie Pizza. How could I not get that, huh? I don't even know what flavor of cookie it is, but there was no way I wasn't gonna partake. 

Come to think of it, I have to have that Haunted House Cookie Kit next to it, as well.

Oh, and I might have bought the caramel bits and pumpkin spice morsels, too, but I'll never tell, because I'm slightly ashamed at my excess... 

I did purchase a bag of Haribo Ghostly Gummies, mostly because I love gummies**** and why wouldn't I buy Halloween themed gummies?

When I got to the car, I eagerly ripped them open. Nutrition be darned, I wanted a bunch of candy.

The first thing I love about these is the vampire bear, holding an extra sprouty jack o' lantern.

The next thing to love are the shapes. There's a bat, a pumpkin, a skull, and a full skeleton.

I'm not sure why the bony members of our family get the most love, but either way, there's a lot to love, here.

 Each color was a different flavor. Grape, cherry, orange, and lemon are the palate pleasing choices, and none of them disappointed.

 And look at this detail. They actually sculpted the webbing in the bat wings.

 And you can practically count the ribs in the skeleton. The skull below looks like a reject from the One-eyed Willy concept art department. He practically looks like he's screaming at the concept of being bitten into pieces. Either that, or he's incredibly alarmed at all the warning lights that are glowing on my instrument panel.

All in all, I'd say that this is a fantastic beginning to Target's marvelous goodies and I can not wait to see what they have up their sleeves, next.

I'll end this by the pic below. You know it's gonna be a good year when even pedestrian medical equipment want in on the Halloween act. Spooky Craft Ideas, indeed... 

* yeah, I used to be in 4-H. I even know the pledge. I was a real cool kid.
** don't judge
*** you know you're gonna try this
****yes, I know what they are made of. I like horse hooves...