Svartsinn - "Towards The Dark And Cold"

The chill of autumn air, the crackle of fallen leaves and the fiery glow of a jack-o-lantern's candle have now gone away. We sit at the colorless doorstep of winter. The harsh season of ending. Embrace the march towards the dark and cold...

Revenant's Hauntcast September "Theater of the Mind" Segment

O Great Pumpkin,
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot complete,
The focus to complete the things I can,
And the craftiness to camouflage the bare spots so nobody will know the difference.

So back in September, I downloaded the latest episode of the Hauntcast Post Mortem podcast, ready to dive in and digest all of the amazing/hilarious/informative segments in the roll up to Halloween night. Except that I didn't...

I never found the appropriate time in my busy schedule to sit down and press play. My time was already more than accounted for with other, more pressing Halloween tasks and projects. My intent was always to find the time, but like a few other Halloween projects this year, it just fell through the cracks.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving morning. I'm setting out for an early morning solo drive down to my mother-in-law's house to celebrate the holiday with family. I realized that the two-hour drive would be a perfect time to finally get to that latest episode. I put the car in drive and finally, finally press play.

One of the segments that I always look forward to is Revenant's "Theater of the Mind." Always something that really resonates with me. And this segment REALLY stood out.

As I was driving, I started paying more attention to each word. It was like I had written the segment myself and that he was narrating an essay that had come directly from my hand. I couldn't believe it! As the segment continued, the smile on my face grew larger and the other drivers around me must have thought me insane as I let out laughs and bursts of "Exactly!" or "Yep!" to an empty car.

It's wonderful to know that others have the same highs and lows throughout the Halloween season and that they also "get" the true absurdity of the whole thing. Yet, like me, they also understand the true reasons of why we do what we do each October, and why it is so vital in continuing to do so.

As the segment came to an end, I was giddy with energy. It was everything that Halloween meant to me, perfectly packaged in a tidy 11 minute segment. I actually stopped the podcast to listen to the segment again. That little, unexpected jolt brought back all of the energy and excitement from Halloween night. It was perfect.

Do yourself a favor and go download the latest episode of Hauntcast here (if you haven't already). I've only gotten through the first half of the whopping 4 hour episode, and so far, all of the segments have been really good (and I have yet to get to the interview with Allen Hopps, which couldn't possibly be anything but amazing).

And if you'd like to get a snapshot into the small world of Highbury Cemetery, fast forward to Revenant's "Theater of the Mind" segment at 26:27. It's a wonderful jolt of Halloween fun and energy. Something that we all could use, now that the big night has passed for another year.

Thanks, Hauntcast.

Cryo Chamber's Halloween Music Mix, 2017

The Halloween season rolls on with this ominous dark ambient Halloween mix, created by ProtoU for the Cryo Chamber label. One full hour of solid atmospheric tracks by artists including Dronny Darko, Alphaxone, Council of Nine, Atrium Carceri & Eldar, Metatron Omega and Flowers For Bodysnatchers.

A Halloween Gift To Us!

I wanted to give a big thanks to the neighbor who dropped off a small gift the day after Halloween! After the big night, I came home from a long, exhausting day at work only to discover 3 quarts of fog juice on my front doorstep!

An unexpected surprise, to be certain. It's super cool that our neighbors recognize AND appreciate what we do each Halloween and leave tokens like this. And it definitely motivates me to keep working and go even bigger next year!! We are very fortunate to live in such a cool neighborhood with great neighbors who love to celebrate the Halloween season with us.

Thank you again, to our mystery neighbor!! Your gift will not go to waste at our cemetery!!


John Carpenter Live at the Majestic Theatre, Detroit 11/10/17

I was a bit surprised when I saw that John Carpenter was heading back out on the road for another tour, this time in support of his newest release, John Carpenter Anthology (Movie Themes 1974-1998).

When I saw the tour schedule, I noticed that again like last year, he was not stopping anywhere in Ohio (what the hell, John!?!?). The closest stop was Detroit, a nice three hour drive from the Cemetery. And after going back and forth, I eventually decided to check it out again, this time with Mrs. Highbury along for the ride. We don't get out to that many shows anymore, but for John Carpenter, we would make an exception!

We both hopped into the car and made the quick-ish drive over to Detroit, ready to experience an amazing show. We arrived at the Majestic Theatre 30 minutes before the doors opening, only to have to sit outside in frigid temperatures for over an hour. And furthermore, my camera was denied access to the show, so I could only shoot with my phone.

But even with all that, the show was incredible and we had an amazing time. Carpenter and his band came out and flawlessly cranked through his massive library of iconic horror film soundtracks and even included a few of his original compositions from 2015's Lost Themes.

Of course, if you have seen my post from last year's show, you'll quickly notice a LOT of similarities between that show and this one. A lot of the same songs and accompanying film clips that played behind the band played on this tour, too. But honestly, hearing live versions of utter Carpenter classics like Halloween, The Fog, Escape From New York, Big Trouble in Little ChinaThey Live and especially Ennio Morricone's epic title track for The Thing is an opportunity that I just couldn't pass up...

And with a painfully steady hand, I was able to film the final track in their incredible set...

We really, really enjoyed this show. And even though it was very similar to last year's tour, I'm still glad I went, especially so that Mrs. Highbury could experience it. And she loved it, too. We were both happy that we made the journey.

And of course, we couldn't make it through the whole show without a stop off at the merch table. I ended up picking up a John Carpenter autographed vinyl copy of his new Anthology (Movie Themes 1974-1998) and an INSANELY cool Escape From New York shirt. And then I had to go back and buy an Anthology screened tote bag to carry it all in...

I've been spinning Anthology nonstop since I got home, and I highly recommend picking up a copy! Especially for that slightly more guitar heavy version of The Thing and for Christine. And obviously for Halloween and Assault on Precinct 13. And definitely for The Fog and In The Mouth of Madness. But mostly for They Live and Escape From New York. Yeesh.

Carpenter's Anthology Tour continues on, heading toward the East Coast, so get out and see him if he's playing near you. Or even if not! It is well worth the trip!


One Guess.

Can anybody guess who I'm going to see tomorrow night??

Who wants to meet me and Mrs. Highbury in Detroit and enjoy the hell out of this show!?!? Full post when I get back!!

A Proper Pumpkin Send-Off

I'm not sure if this is 100% legal, so I probably shouldn't post this. But here it goes...

Over the past couple of years, I have wrestled with the thought of taking our carved jack-o-lanterns and simply throwing them into the garbage after Halloween night. It didn't feel like the most environmentally-friendly option and it certainly wasn't the most dignified option for something that we took precious time to carve by hand.

So right after Halloween night this year, I came up with a rather fun and mischievous plan to give our jack-o-lanterns a proper send-off.

I've always been a huge fan of The Great Pumpkin Project, but I have always lacked the time to actually place any jack-o-lanterns before the big night. Until now!

My plan was to take the jack-o-lanterns, find a somewhat hidden spot in the local Metropark system that surrounds my neighborhood, and then anonymously place them for others to discover.

I made sure to pull all candles and wax residue from each jack-o-lantern, leaving only the pumpkin. A fully biodegradable, organic material that would also feed the local deer, squirrel, chipmunk and insect population in the park. (So in the off-chance that I did get caught, I could simply say that I was feeding the wildlife!)

I picked the best spot from a list of about 4 or 5, and loaded up the car with all 18 jack-o-lanterns. I quietly pulled into the undisclosed location and quickly went to work, placing each in a firm, yet very visible location all down a rocky stream embankment. It was perfect.

After all 18 were meticulously placed, I grabbed the camera...

When the photos were all captured, I went back to my car. I decided to grab my phone and send a quick photo over to Brother Scrapes to share in the hi-jinx. As I hit "send," an SUV pulled in next to me and two girls jumped out, screaming with joy, snapping photos with their phones. I couldn't believe it. Not 2 minutes after I had secretly set this up, people were already noticing it.

And as I went to send that over to Brother Scrapes as well, I looked back across the parking lot only to notice an old pickup truck parking next to the two girls. 2 more older ladies jumped out, taking photos with their phones!! 4 people in 5 minutes. Unreal! I thought my timing couldn't have been better. But I was wrong...

After coyly observing the 4 onlookers, I decided to slip away. And as I pulled up the main access driveway, a Park Ranger was pulling in. My heart sank to my stomach. I drove past, exchanging a wave, and slipped away from everyone without incident. I couldn't believe my luck.

And as a side note, I checked the location early this morning, and all of the jack-o-lanterns were STILL there. So if anyone is in the Northeast Ohio area, feel free to seek out and enjoy the setup before it's taken down. The only clues are that it is in a towpath trailhead parking lot and it is in the Akron, Ohio area. Good luck!!

And if you happen to be from the Metroparks and you are reading this, please understand my rationale for doing this. Hopefully I'm not in any trouble!

And don't worry. I have already picked my spot for 2018. It's not in the park system...


Highbury Cemetery, 2017

Another Halloween season has now come to an end, but not before one last glorious crescendo that is Highbury Cemetery. This year's haunt display for our neighborhood trick-or-treat will rank as one of the best for many reasons.

We had a perfect evening of dry, crisp autumn weather, bookended by cold, miserable rain on either side of Halloween night. Coupled with the problems that our friends on the east coast had with the damage from their stormy weather, we were very fortunate and very lucky to dodge the same bullet. Although, I must admit that I did stop and laugh when I saw a few snow flakes falling during our hectic afternoon setup.

We also had a night that was free of the typical haunt display snafus that we had suffered in the past. No electrical problems (like the time my new 1300 watt fog machine tripped the breaker in my house causing half of my cemetery lighting to go out, only to have my led lights cycle through the circus-like range of color choices against my tombstones when the circuit was reset) or any real prop issues (like the year when my shiatsu ground breaker's arm broke off half way through the night, only to lay lifeless next to a twisting head inside his half unburied coffin). The only casualty was the round ball on the top of the Highbury obelisk that broke off after a brisk gust of wind knocked it off. A relatively easy fix for next year.

And finally, we had a near-record breaking amount of trick-or-treaters, parents, friends and curious neighbors. Even on a weeknight, the hordes continued to enter through our cemetery gate and didn't let up until the very end of the night. Add to that the number who showed up with donations for our first annual canned food drive and our night was a complete success. I was blown away with the amount of food that was donated in a two-hour window, and I know that it will help make a difference in our city.

When the last trick-or-treater departed at roughly 8:45 pm, it was time for the final act. A quick canvassing of the entire haunt with my camera, and then 11 people tore down the entire display in record time, leaving no trace of a haunt display that was fully operational just one hour before. The amazing show had come to a close for another year, but not before a whirlwind of Halloween madness and fun that was had by all.

Late that evening, I transferred the photos over to the computer. I sat in a weatherbeaten, exhausted, crumpled mess and giddily scrolled through the shots that I had just captured. Each photo elicited the joy of the evening's fun. I fell quickly asleep that night, smiling in the satisfaction of another successful year of Highbury Cemetery.

So sit back and enjoy the photos from Highbury Cemetery, 2017...

The Harvester of Brine
With literally hours to spare, I completed this new vine-laden scarecrow figure. He took his place at the foot of the cemetery entrance, exposing a glowing, salt-withered pumpkin heart inside of his rotted chest cavity to all who dared walk by.

I was REALLY happy with the way he turned out, especially under the dramatic red and orange lighting. I may look to add a small white spotlight next year, just to better define the arm that pulls back his shirt and exposes the glowing red led heart. Look for a full post on the Harvester of Brine in the very near future!

The VERY recently refurbished shiatsu ground breaker worked flawlessly all night, garnering much attention and many compliments from his position at the top of the cemetery!

The Highbury Crypt
With a few minor adjustments, the second year of the Highbury Walk-In Crypt was a big hit. The crypt, which was set up in my front porch, was the final destination for the trick-or-treaters, as they had to walk in to get their candy. I pulled the lighting way back this year, creating a much more ominous tone. The darker room also gave more attention to the illuminated stained glass window in the back wall as well as the two corpse-filled Highbury crypts on either side. A steady stream of mildew-scented fog kept the atmosphere nice and creepy!

My 5-year-old son's super cool jack-o-lantern! I'm slowly bringing him into the Halloween fold...

After all was said and done, we had roughly 489 trick-or-treaters, parents, friends and curious neighbors through the cemetery gates. I say "roughly" because there were times that there were so many people coming through at once, we couldn't count them all. In the two hours of trick-or-treat, we had a constant flow of people coming in and out, many hanging out to see all that we had on display.

And as always, I have to thank each and every member of the Highbury Cemetery crew. Without their dedicated help, there would be NO WAY that Highbury Cemetery would be the yard haunt that it is today. Glow-in-the-dark thank you Highbury Cemetery t-shirts go out to Sharon and Karen (two of the three of us available to somehow get the entire display put up in time for the first trick-or-treaters who showed up - I absolutely could not have done it with out you two!), brother Scrapes, Andrew, neighbors Joe and Stacy (whose yard is slowly being taken over!), Vince and Stacey Rager (our new official Highbury Cemetery family members!!) and Mike from Castle Boulevard (you snuck out before I was able to give you a shirt - I'll have to drop one off at your house!!). A very successful display thanks to you all.

But we aren't done there...

The First Annual Canned Food Drive

As I said earlier, 2017 was our first year as a charity haunt. I decided to do some good for the community (as many other home haunters have before me), and run a canned food drive to support the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank during trick-or-treat. I created a special announcement sign and placed it, along with my new "coffin for a cause" in my front yard about two weeks before Halloween. I also posted the photo to our local neighborhood Nextdoor app.

The response I got was overwhelming! A neighbor dropped off a huge box of lollipops to add to the special treat bags given out to all donations (the treat bags consisted of a glow-in-the-dark "I filled the coffin for a cause" square button, a plastic jumping spider, two fun size candy bars and a lollipop).

During the two hours of trick-or-treat, a non-stop line of people came up and dropped their canned food donations into the coffin for a cause. I was so happy to see kids dropping their cans into the coffin!

At the end of the night, all of the food and cash donations were tallied. And I'm incredibly happy to announce that we collected 143 items of food and $74.30 in monetary donations!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who donated! With this donation, we are making a positive impact together in our community. This has reinvigorated me and has given me a new purpose for the yard haunt. I can't wait to do this again next year.

Now let's collect twice as much for 2018!!