Saturday, October 31, 2015

Aurora Before Dawn.

The following story contains adult themes and graphic descriptions. Reader discretion is advised.

In 1996, the newly formed band Gremlin Feast began the first leg of its North American tour. Nearly twenty years later, not much had changed. They were still blasting their particularly grotesque brand of heavy metal from coast to coast. Little Rock. Topeka. San Jose. Peoria... they'd thrashed with the best in the business in practically every city in America. Hell, they even played to a sold-out rodeo arena outside El Paso once... just for free beer.

Years on the road means you never really have a home. For the members of Gremlin Feast, home was their tour bus. Nicknamed "The Mule", they'd rode her hard for far too many years. Yet, somehow it had managed to keep chugging along, mile after mile, show after show. They'd lost count the number of cocaine-fueled parties they'd thrown on The Mule, much less the keggers and endless rivers of whiskey consumed. Dwayne Hallard, the band's drummer, had technically died twice on the bus. If not for the marvels of modern medicine and adrenaline injections, that metal tube on wheels could have easily been classified as a mortuary. Bassist Archibald "Worms" Wobbleton delivered a pregnant fan's baby in the bus' bathroom back in 2001. No sooner had that fetus plopped into Worms' hands did he shove a cigar in the broad's mouth and slap that newborn on its ass. Lead guitarist Stinson McGee was technically a doctor; he held a degree in astronomy. Yet, a few too many alcohol-fueled rampages had him booted from his university lecturing position. Twenty years later and he'd all but forgotten the difference between the Pleiades and Ursa Minor.

And then there was Goblin Feast's front man... Simon Bronson. Born to the owners of a wealthy oil company, he abandoned his trust fund, ran away from home and changed his name to Simon Bravo. Years of living hard and fast somehow hadn't killed him, though. Heck, he hadn't even lost a step. It wasn't uncommon for Simon to finish a twelve-pack of beer before a show, shout and scream for two hours straight, then spend all night with a couple of chicks in the tour bus getting his kicks. Tonight's tour stop in Richmond would be no different.

The Mule was parked behind a local bar, The Sin Pit. The band had just completed their second encore around 1 AM and were ready to head back to the bus. Simon crushed a freshly-drained beer can against his face as he wrapped up singing their biggest hit, entitled Hump Day Constipation.
"I just can't seem to get it through to you. Jump off! Jump off! Only the scorched Earth will do! ...Goodnight Richmond!"
As Simon left the stage behind his fellow band members, he noticed a girl staring at him from the crowd. Her skin, like the whitest snow of the far north, reflected back the rainbow of spot lights swirling around the stage. Her hair was onyx with streaks of bright purple and red. Her lips... dark like a soldier's final moments before cold death washes over him. She wore a tattered old black and white striped tank top and a skirt that was definitely short enough to show just about everything. She was a teenage boy's fantasy in the flesh... everything a guy could want, but nothing he could take home to mom. This was Simon's kind of gal. She glanced away for a moment, then back as their gazes locked. She winked as a sly wrinkle formed in her lip. And then, she was gone. Vanished in a crowd of hellions and whores, Simon's prize returned to the void.

Approaching The Mule, a wave of exhaustion struck Simon in a way that simply hadn't happened before. He staggered a bit, then braced himself against the doorway as the other guys rushed into their diesel-sucking den of depravity. Stinson inquired as to his condition, then offered a series of tequila shots as a remedy; Simon declined. For the first time in his long and illustrious career, he only wanted one mistress for the evening... his bed. Making his way through the clutter and filth of The Mule's disgusting carpeted floor, he kicked aside empty pizza boxes and liquor bottles. Yanking his sweat-soaked clothes off, Simon pulled the curtain shut on his quarters, crawled into his bunk and passed out. The ensuing ruckus of the disastrous orgy in the bus' common area did not keep him awake.

Simon awoke to the smell of rust. He rolled over and glanced at three red numbers piercing the darkness... 4:44 it read. He could hear what sounded like an empty can being softly kicked behind the curtain. The lights in the bus were flickering beneath the bottom of the sheet that hung there. He pulled himself from his squeaky bunk and reached for the curtain. Properly exposed in only his boxer shorts, Simon Bravo slid the curtain to the side. Very quickly, he wished he hadn't.

An extended glob of entrails stretched from the battered abdomen of Stinson; they wandered from one side of the bus to the other. Along the way, the guts had found themselves wrapped around Dwayne's throat. He'd obviously been choked to death with them. Not before he'd swallowed his own tongue and had both eyes thoroughly removed, though. His head was leaking brain matter from the hollow orbitals. The remaining electrical impulses in his dead flesh were causing his leg to tap against a mound of trash, much like a headless chicken flopping in its own excrement. Many gallons of blood had soaked into the carpet. It squished beneath Simon's feet like a drenched sponge. As he stepped forward, a trickle of blood dripped down his face. Stunned, he looked up to see Worms impaled to the roof with three electric guitars. His face was missing; in its place was a mass of tattered muscles and shattered teeth. There were no words for Simon to express at this moment. No words to correctly describe the sheer terror he was experiencing. A wave of cold water washed over his frame; every strand of hair on his body stood at attention. As the fluorescent bulbs in the bus continued to flicker on and off, Simon stepped backwards.

He felt someone frigid pressed against his back.

Quickly turning around, Simon rubbed at his groggy eyes. Were they playing tricks on him? It was the vixen from the floor of the concert! Her skin... so pale. She smiled gracefully, exposing a set of teeth that would put any strand of pearls to shame. Tracing the outline of his face with her blood soaked pointer finger, her doe-eyed glance made Simon's entire body tingle. Two large green eyes circled in black; they were unforgettable. She suddenly grabbed the elastic band of Simon's boxers and ripped at them. The fabric fell off his frame, leaving him fully exposed. Licking the blood from her finger, she grabbed his manhood with her other hand and pressed firmly. Shoving him into his bunk, she tore at her own stained clothing and threw it to the floor. A supple body of pallid loveliness lay bare; her ribs flexed back and forth as she wrenched against her prey in unholy rapture.

The mysterious predator had her way with Simon. Twisting and contorting against his quivering flesh, he dared not fight back. The cover of darkness hid Simon's shameful submission as the lights in the bus finally extinguished. He could feel the sting of her bite as she tore into his neck. Sawing at the tunnels of fresh sustenance gushing just under the surface, she slurped and lapped joyfully. Yet, the temptress pulled back for a moment. She nuzzled his now freezing face as Simon reached a forceful climax. And with it... all of the natural warmth in his body was gone.

As the sensation of vibrant life left Simon's body, it was soon replaced with a calmness. The earth seemed to move much slower. He could see the obsidian treasures hidden behind her green eyes. Simon shared in what she saw in him. He could feel the gaping emptiness within her as she clenched his torso. Licking at the last of the blood streaming from his neck, she embraced her new companion. Simon, accepting this unfamiliar existence, brushed against her lips with his. Smearing the black lipstick between their cheeks, this was a kiss that rivaled the greatest in all of history. The diabolic passion exposed a whole new sense of purpose within Simon.
"Tell me your name."
She bit at his bottom lip, sucking on it. As her dagger-like teeth let go, she whispered.
Simon found a happiness in death that he'd never discovered in life. As the stench of rotting meat filled The Mule, the two lovers gathered the last remnants of Simon's former life and fled under the fading rays of yellow moonlight.

Stories still circulate about the Sin Pit Massacre at rock shows all across the country. No one knows for certain what actually happened. Three guys were eviscerated for no reason at all; a fourth disappeared. But... every once in a while, you'll hear a drunk concert-goer claim they've seen the missing Simon Bravo. Lurking in the corner of some dingy club, his face covered by a shroud... or so they say.

And in the crowd, a siren of hellish lust watches, waiting to snare their next meal.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Brew Spew 2015 Part 5: The Traveler Beer Co. Jack-O Traveler Pumpkin Shandy.

At last, we've arrived at the fifth and final part of the Brew Spew 2015. Over the course of the past few weeks, we've analyzed together four different seasonal beers. So far, only one of those beers was a stinker. With tonight's fifth installment, let's hope we find another enjoyable Autumnal beverage.

The final featured beer is Jack-O Traveler Pumpkin Shandy from The Traveler Beer Company of Burlington, Vermont. Traveler is famous for their various fruit-themed beers like the Forbidden Traveler Apple Ale and the Curious Traveler Lemon Shandy. Jack-O Traveler Pumpkin Shandy is a wheat beer that's 4.4% Alc. by volume and available annually during the Fall months. It features genuine pumpkin in the brewing process.

As with the previous reviews, I'll be taking notes live as I drink the beer for the first time. The comments will be broken up into two sections. My comments will be genuine. I'll notate what I like and dislike about the beer. Honesty is key! Let's begin, shall we?

Cold out of the fridge:

  • It has a golden yellow color.
  • Lots of bubbles and fizz upon pour, with a very thin foam head.
  • Has a faint citrus smell, along with some other strange scent that I simply I can't describe. 
  • Very sweet, with no bitterness at all.
  • Light bodied, but doesn't taste hollow or flat.
  • The lemon flavor is the strongest, closely followed by the seasonal spices, most likely cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • The pumpkin flavor is almost undetectable.
  • Reminds me of a moderately sweet, alcoholic lemonade without any sourness or pucker factor.
  • Easy to drink and quite delightful.
  • I wish the pumpkin flavor would stand out more.

At room temperature:

  • The cinnamon has become very fragrant.
  • Conversely, the lemon citrus scent has notably decreased.
  • The pumpkin flavor has suddenly appeared, but not where I expected! On the swallow, the pumpkin suddenly strikes all over my tongue and expresses itself.
  • Still very sweet and extremely easy to drink.
  • Has not gotten thin or flat, with a fair amount of carbonation still present.
  • The various spice flavors haven't changed at all, really.
  • The lemon flavor has mellowed out and only become sweeter as well.
  • Not bitter at all; didn't taste the first note of bitterness throughout the entire beverage.

This was a surprising beer, to be honest. The Jack-O Traveler Pumpkin Shandy is just about one of the sweetest beers I've ever enjoyed. The lemon flavoring was somewhat bold at first, but eventually succumbed to the overall sugary nature of the beer as it warmed. You could almost call this beer bipolar. Drink it cold and you'll enjoy the lemon side of it. Drink it at room temperature and you'll enjoy the pumpkin side. I do wish it had a more dominant pumpkin flavor overall, but was thankful it became detectable after I let the beer sit for a bit. What shocked me is that the pumpkin made itself known on the swallow, which is a rare event when drinking seasonal beers. This isn't to say I disliked it, though. Quite the contrary -- Jack-O Traveler Pumpkin Shandy is a very luscious, flavorful beer that could easily be enjoyed any time of the year. Jack-O Traveler Pumpkin Shandy is yet another seasonal beer that shouldn't be relegated just to Autumn!

Well, that does it for the 2015 Brew Spew. Thanks for coming along with me on this trip. We tried five tasty seasonal beers. Four of them were pleasant and hit the mark. I'd say batting .800 isn't bad at all! If you haven't already done so, be sure to check out the other four reviews. Until next year!

Brew Spew 2015:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tips For Having A Memorable Halloween.

We're just two days away from the eeriest holiday of the year -- Halloween. These past few months on Jared Unzipped have been a sack load of fun for me. I've been overjoyed to bring you the zaniest, grossest and most horrific articles for your (and my) enjoyment. Friday will feature the fifth and final installment of the 2015 Brew Spew. Then, on Halloween Saturday, you'll receive my most frightening story of the year. I can't frickin' wait.

As the holiday draws near, I simply wanted to share some simple and fun tips to make your Halloween a day you'll never forget. Some of these tips are serious. Others are a little tongue in cheek. You're smart; I'm sure you'll figure out which is which on your own. Either way, thanks for sticking around these past two months. I hope your Halloween is the best ever!

  • If you simply must throw eggs, please avoid hitting any vehicles. The composition of eggs can eat and destroy paint on an automobile. Egging windows or doors isn't too big of a problem because they can be cleaned easily. Egging a car can cause permanent damage that is very costly to repair. The impact of an egg can actually cause the paint job to splinter just like a rock hitting a glass windshield.
  • If you're wearing a mask, make sure you have some degree of peripheral vision. Just imagine crossing a street, but you can't see to your left or right. SLAM! A car just drove over your bleeding, oozing corpse and you're suddenly lunch meat for the vultures.
  • Don't wear a hockey mask as your "costume". This horse has been beat to death. It's not even scary at this point -- you just look like a lazy dork.
  • For the love of all that's holy, don't shove your genitals in a pumpkin. You may become stuck... and then all the jocks in your school will make fun of you.
  • The best candy sack is a pillow case. They're sturdy, dependable and easy to swing at rabid dogs when you ring the evil neighbor's doorbell.
  • Black lipstick is hot. Very hot.
  • When decorating your front porch, be sure to use lots and lots of fake cobwebs -- the more the better.
  • Never bob for apples. While your head is in the water, someone could come along and stab you in the ass. Is an apple really worth that?
  • Always carry a flashlight while trick-or-treating for your own safety. It helps to be seen by others.
  • If you're prone to punching as a defense mechanism, avoid going to any haunted houses. You're just going to knock-out the schmuck running at you with a chainsaw.
  • Takes lots of photos, but remember that lighting is important. Try to take pictures of yourself and your friends inside where there's some light. If you must take a photo in the dark, remember not to stand too close to the flash. If you do, the flash will wash you out.
  • Halloween parties are lots of fun, but remember to keep the flow of alcohol at a reasonable level. A costume party is a failure if all of your guests are totally drunk and passed out. Focus on the fun and not the drinking!
  • Likewise, bathtubs are a fantastic place to fill with ice and store cold drinks.
  • Don't immediately stuff yourself with Halloween candy. Pace yourself -- you'll thank me later.
  • If you really want to set the mood with your friends and watch some horror movies, go with the classics. Black and white movies add a creepy factor that most modern movies lack. Sure, they're not that scary... but they're way more interesting.
  • Avoid any haunt that calls itself "Scaremare". That's code-word for "we're going to show you what happens if you die and haven't accepted Jesus Christ as your lord and savior". Those Bible-thumpers are just trying to intimidate you into a church pew.
  • Finally, don't take anything too serious on Halloween. Remember to look out for kids and be kind to those you meet.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Just Some MonsterVision Videos.

Nothing crazy or absurd to share tonight, folks. Just delivering to you some solid entertainment to pass the evening away. That being said, here's a couple great videos of the classic MonsterVision featuring Joe Bob Briggs. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Infamous Alien Autopsy: Fact Or Fiction Tape.

Let me preface the following article by saying that I'm not some zany conspiracy theorist... but I do believe there's some weird stuff out there that we don't fully understand as a species. One such area that particularly interests me is that of extra terrestrials. Back in the 1990's, there was a frightening special that aired on the Fox Television Network.

The subject of that video? The autopsy of an actual alien.

The validity of this tape has always been up for debate. Was it fake? Was it real? Who knows? I don't know if it's real or not... but I admit that it's probably a hoax. The fact that legendary special effects master Stan Winston makes an appearance to debate whether the footage is real or fake really adds a sense of credibility. Either way, one thing is for certain.

At the time this video aired on live television, it scared the holy crap out of my pre-teen self.

The video explores the events surrounding the mysterious UFO crash outside Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. The government says it was a weather balloon. Theorists suggest it was a flying saucer from beyond the stars. Oooooooh... spooky.

Hosted by the always endearing actor and director Jonathan Frakes, this video goes in depth into what could (but probably isn't) an alien autopsy performed in secret by the United States Government. So sit back, put on your aluminum foil hat and enjoy...


This message is Commander Riker approved.

Monday, October 26, 2015

What's The Difference Between A Goblin And A Troll?

The following is a public service announcement.

For far too long, goblins and trolls have been indiscriminately confused with each other. Though both names sound creepy in nature, the two beasts aren't all that similar. I'm here to set the record straight.

Here's the difference between a goblin and a troll.


  • Often described as being short like a dwarf.
  • Usually demonic in nature, but not always.
  • Love to horde wealth, especially gold.
  • Always up for a little mischief.
  • Often portrayed as having green skin.
  • Based in folklore from Normandy, France and Germany.
  • Can be good or evil in nature; they've been written both ways for hundreds of years.
  • Typically intelligent and crafty with mechanical inventions or spells.


  • Can be human sized or extra tall, just depends on the story.
  • Usually live like hermits, or in small groups.
  • Often make their home in caves, under bridges, on mountain sides or in other highly secluded areas.
  • Not particularly social or jovial.
  • More often than not, they're dangerous to humans. 
  • Portrayed as being grotesque in appearance.
  • Not typically very smart, but usually extremely strong.
  • Based in Nordic and Scandinavian folklore.

From here on out, you can correct your friends and family when they incorrectly employ either of these two names. A troll is not a goblin and vice versa. Get it right!

This public service announcement was brought to you by the North American Anti-Gnome Benefit Lobby, a subsidiary of Globo-Slime Chemicals.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Draw Something: Killer Corndog Monster

In honor of my story published last night (which you can read here), I thought I'd craft my own whimsical interpretation of a mutated, ravenous, altogether evil Killer Corndog Monster. This is one meal that BITES BACK!


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Killer Lust.

For weeks, I'd stalked and creeped around corners. Watching from the shadows, I could feel a euphoric rush of satisfaction as I fantasized about touching it. How had I ever lived so long without placing my lips upon it? I needed to become one with my prey. We were fated to be together, with nothing to stand in our way. Desire was consuming my very being, breaking the boundaries of both time and space. My hunger was transcendent! Our love was as pure as the snow, falling upon an abandoned amusement park.

"Give me... that... CORNDOG!"

My blood lust for that warm sausage wrapped in a buttery, gritty coating was simply too much to contain. A rocket blast of exploding angst burst from my heels. I launched from the hedges next to the market square with little regard for my own well-being. Not once do I recall my feet touching the ground as I sprinted to my target. Nothing like a wiener on a stick to get my ass moving.

As I approached the corndog cart operated by Ardavast Mirzoyan, a jovial Armenian with a penchant for wearing too much cologne, I nearly tripped over a baby carriage. With the enraged mother screaming at me, I dashed at that affable dipped wienie-slinger and tackled him to the ground.

Finally... mine. All mine. Every last corn-meal dipped dog that I could stuff in my already gaping mouth hole was mine for the taking. I immediately began ravaging the corndog cart, emptying every steamer basket that I could find. As Mirzoyan started to rise from the ground, I swiftly spin-kicked him in the jaw, letting loose a few of his gold-capped molars.

"Stay down, they're mine!"

The defeated vendor crawled away on all fours, trying to avoid receiving any more of my wrath. I kept shoving the corndogs in, one after another. Sometimes, I'd dunk them in a giant tub of mustard just for a little variety, but it honestly didn't matter. All I wanted was my vast gut to hold every corndog my eyes could see. Shoving... pushing... cramming... more and more. I must have slid a dozen corndogs down before my eyes began to water. This was no deterrent though; I simply kept going even harder!

That is... right up until the point I could feel the cold steel of a pistol pressed against the back of my head.

"Get down, you slimy corndog sucker!"

As I listened to the click of the police officer's revolver, I gulped. Unfortunately, the corndog in my throat went down the wrong way and became firmly lodged in my windpipe. The convulsing sucking motion of my throat gradually pulled the corndog deeper, blocking even more of my air supply. A crowd quickly formed around my shaking body, now crippled on the ground and near death. The police officer tried to pull the wieners out of my mouth before it was too late, but alas... my death warrant was signed and delivered.

I was corndogged to death.

There I was, watching my own deceased body as a ghost, with no one knowing I was there. As I contemplated my own questionable decisions, a bony finger tapped me on the shoulder.


None other than the grim reaper stood there next to me, shroud in a cloak of ash and darkness. A skeletal hand emerged from his cloak gripping a tasty, if not ironic, treat.

"Want a bite of my corndog?"

Chopping down with his exposed teeth, the cadaverous reaper slid a bite into his throat. I watched through the holes in his throat, then in his stomach. Though vile, I simply couldn't tear my eyes away. The corndog still had a death-grip on my soul.

Plop. The bite of the corndog fell out of the reaper's rotten body.

"Sure, why not?"

I picked the half-chewed chunk of corndog up and begrudgingly swallowed it; I simply couldn't resist. The reaper placed his arm around me and gripped tightly.

"My boy, we're going to be great friends."

And that, my friends is how you get into corndog heaven.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Brew Spew 2015 Part 4: Shipyard Brewing Little Horror of Hops.

The fourth beer of my 2015 Brew Spew is the Little Horror of Hops from Shipyard Brewing of Portland, Maine. While I don't normally like India Pale Ales, I decided to give this one a go out of fairness. If I'm going to cover a broad range of seasonal beers for the Brew Spew, then I should at least include one IPA. So, here goes!

Shipyard Brewing was founded in 1994 and was the fastest growing craft brewery in the United States by 1996. Currently, they are ranked as the 25th largest craft brewery in America. Their line of beers has won numerous national and international awards in their twenty year history. Other beers they produce include the Shipyard Blue Fin Stout and the Shipyard Export Ale, with a nearly nationwide distribution. You can probably find one of Shipyard's finely crafted beers with your local grocer or specialty beverage retailer.

The Little Horror of Hops is 5.9% Alc. by volume and available annually between September and November. As with all of the beers I taste test in the Brew Spew, I will provide a real time set of notes divided into two categories. These were written as I was drinking the beer for the first time. My critique will be honest and straightforward, whether I like the beer or not. Let's begin!

Cold out of the fridge:
  • Deep orange color with a moderate amount of foam.
  • The odor was fragrant and smelled like bitter, unripened fruit.
  • An extremely bitter beer, much like biting into a grapefruit.
  • The carbonation is almost undetectable upon the tongue. I know there's fizz in it, but I can't feel it because of the overpowering grapefruit flavor.
  • Light-bodied and easy to swallow, thankfully.
  • The bitterness is all on the front and sides of my tongue. Not too much bitterness upon swallowing.
  • Surprised at how non-peppery the flavor is considering it's an IPA.
  • The fruity taste somehow shines through the bitter nature, helping to make it more enjoyable.
At room temperature:
  • The bitterness has mellowed slightly.
  • Still foamy on top.
  • The citrus-like grapefruit flavor has also calmed down a bit. It's not so in-your-face.
  • Has not developed any weird, funky aftertaste.
  • Overall, it still tastes fairly similar as to when it was cold. The change in temperature hasn't altered the taste too much.
As I stated previously, I do not like India Pale Ales. They're simply too bitter and unpleasant for my personal taste. That being said, if I did like IPA's, I would without a doubt enjoy Little Horror of Hops. The bitter flavor rests on the front of the tongue as you begin swallowing and not in the back of your throat. That's the key element here -- bad beers taste terrible when they're going down. The Little Horror of Hops did not have that wretched back-of-your-throat taste at all. Surprisingly, I did greatly appreciate the grapefruit quality that the beer presented. If I could find a beer that had this grapefruit essence without being so bitter, I'd probably really enjoy it! Overall, if I were an IPA fan, I'd look forward to drinking Little Horror of Hops every year. If you like IPA's, then I definitely suggest you give Shipyard's extra hoppy seasonal beverage a spin. Considering I have zero vested interest in drinking IPA's, this verdict should really be taken as genuine.

Brew Spew 2015:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 5

Thursday, October 22, 2015

What Happens To The Human Body After We Die?

We've all seen crime scene investigators on television describing the human body in various states of decay. They'll toss out a plethora of terms and phrases to describe what is happening... but how do we know what they're saying is correct? This got me to thinking. What exactly happens to the human body after we die? Of course, I mean this in a very literal sense (discussions on the afterlife are a whole different article entirely). I present to you... the stages of death in the human body!

Within the first hour after death, the human body relaxes. All of the muscles become flaccid and loosen up. This period is called primary flaccidity. Your skin also becomes saggy and droops. All of the blood in your circulatory system drains from the smallest vessels and begins to pool inside the body. As such, the skin loses its warm glow and becomes remarkable pale. This step is known as pallor mortis. With the blood not moving anymore, the human body's temperature begins to drop and match that of its environment, known as algor mortis. This drop in temperature is fairly linear. Forgoing any extreme levels of heat, cold or humidity, an investigator or mortician can roughly determine how long a person has been deceased based upon how cold they are. Two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) are lost in the first hour, with one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) lost for every hour after that until the room temperature is met.

By hour two, the body has started to look fairly strange. All of the blood that has begun to pool in the body has gravitated to the lowest resting point, a step labeled as livor mortis. For example, a person whom died on their back will naturally pool all of the blood supply towards their backside. The massive amounts of blood will turn the skin in the area red and purple. This coloration is called the postmortem stain.

Roughly three hours past death, the human body begins to stiffen, commonly known as rigor mortis. The first areas to stiffen are along the neck and jaw, as well as the eyes. Over the course of three more hours, the stiffening spreads from the face to the abdomen, then to the arms and legs. The final areas of the human body to experience rigor mortis are the fingers and toes. The level of rigidness the body experiences will continue to build for approximately twelve hours after death. Obviously, various factors like heat and position can affect this process slightly, whether faster or slower. By the end of rigor mortis, the body is very difficult to move. Arms and legs will be all but impossible to flex. Hands and fingers make take on a gnarled appearance.

After reaching a peak level of inflexibleness, the muscles within the human body then begin to decay. Beyond twelve hours post death, the joints and limbs slowly begin to loosen up again, called secondary flaccidity. Between one and three days later, rigor mortis disappears in reverse order. If a body is left in a cold environment, this process will take longer than normal. If left in a warm area, the process will be expedited. When it's all said and done, the body will once again be flexible and relaxed.

Now, if you ever come across a dead body, you'll roughly be able to tell how long it has ceased to function!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Story of Serial Killer Carl Panzram.

When it comes to real life scares, there's nothing more frightening than a serial killer. To think that one of our fellow human beings could become a monstrous machine of death and dismemberment, well... that's about as macabre as anything reality has in store for us. While I'm not a big fan of serial killers, I have always taken particular interest in a certain infamous murderer. Though, I'm alarmed at how relatively unknown he's become as the years have progressed. His motives were unique and not shared by other serial killers. For that, he stands out amongst a crowd of history's most horrifying butchers.

This is the story of Carl Panzram.

Born June 28, 1891, Carl Panzram began life in staunch poverty as the son of East Prussian immigrants. He was raised on a farm in Minnesota and had five siblings. Carl was big and strong for his age -- a trait that would carryover into adulthood. His penchant for criminal behavior manifested in his youth. Perhaps his father largely being absent by the age of seven had a intensely negative influence on Carl. By the time Carl was twelve years old, he'd already been caught stealing from his neighbors. Due to his poor behavior, Carl's mother sent him to the Minnesota State Training School, which was a home for juvenile delinquents. The school was notoriously brutal on the boys that stayed there, whom often referred to the facility as The Painting House. This nickname implied that every boy whom entered there would be painted with blood and bruises. The school's staff regularly beat, molested and tortured the boys whom stayed there, all in the vein of Christian fundamentalism. Carl, a three year resident, recounted later in life how he was mistreated. Guards regularly stripped him naked for probing, fondling, whippings and to be sodomized. When Carl was finally deemed reformed, he was released into society a warped and altogether shattered human being. Though, Carl got his revenge on the school; he burned a large portion of the facility down in a fire that went unsolved for decades.

As Panzram grew until adulthood, he spent many stretches in and out of other reform schools and juvenile detention centers. Carl was a crafty teenage thief, whom wasn't afraid to steal anything of value to survive. In one instance, he even stole a yacht. Yet, every jail sentence Panzram served would push him just a little bit closer to the edge. The physical and sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of grown men would have broken practically any other person. To the teenage Panzram, the harm merely served to stoke his inner rage. The more abuse he suffered, the madder and more violent he became.

By age fifteen, Carl decided to enlist in the US Army to try and turn his life around. This decision was largely a mistake. Within a short manner of time, he was incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth for completely denying the authority of his superiors and larceny. Panzram spent two years at the facility. Later in life, Carl would emphasize this period as the proverbial breaking point that sent him over the edge. There's an ironic twist to the time Panzram spent at Fort Leavenworth. His incarceration order was signed by then Secretary of War and future President William H. Taft. Carl wouldn't forget this sentence levied by Taft. In 1920, Panzram broke into President's Taft home in New Haven, Connecticut. He stole a large amount of personal articles, including bonds, cash, jewelry and a Colt M1911 .45 handgun. Using the wealth he gained from burglarizing Taft's home, he purchased a large boat and hired a crew to man it.

Between his time at Fort Leavenworth and targeting Taft, Panzram spent another sentence in the Oregon State Penitentiary for burglary. He successfully broke out of the penitentiary in 1918 by sawing through his prison bars. Carl was extremely powerful; fully grown, the grey-eyed giant stood over six feet tall and was terribly intimidating.

With the riches gained from the Taft heist, Panzram purchased the ship Akiska and began preying on other men. In the waters outside of New York City, Panzram lured many drunk men back to his boat and raped them before using Taft's .45 to shoot them dead. He'd dump the bodies in the Long Island Sound. Of the hundreds of men he raped and tortured during this spell, he outright killed ten of them. Only the running aground of the Akiska outside New Jersey would end the terror spree. But... Panzram wasn't done killing just yet.

For the next few years, Carl spent time in Angola after catching a boat to Africa to evade capture. He admitted in his memoirs to killing a twelve year old boy while there, but not before raping him. Carl killed the child by smashing his head open just to watch his brains ooze out. Panzram also murdered an entire rowboat of six men, then fed their flesh to crocodiles in a river.

Returning to America, Carl raped and murdered two more young boys, as well as took the lives of many other men all along the eastern seaboard. His trail of death wouldn't end until his final incarceration at the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, just a few miles away from the similarly named Fort Leavenworth where he'd been held earlier in life. He was picked up for another burglary in Washington, D.C., but voluntarily admitted to murdering the two young boys after returning from Africa. As such, he basically worsened his own sentence. At Leavenworth, Carl would commit his final murder, that of a prison laundry foreman. He viciously bashed his brains in with an iron bar. This led to Carl's death sentence and being placed on death row in 1929.

While on death row, prison guard Henry Lesser somehow befriended Carl Panzram. He provided Panzram with writing utensils and paper to record his life story. It became readily apparent to Lesser how tortured Panzram was. In terms of philosophy, Panzram was a nihilist; he believed that life was pointless and human beings were of no consequence. Panzram's memoirs revealed a lifetime of murder, death, rape and destruction. He admitted to killing at least twenty-one people, thousands of burglaries and the rape of over a thousand men. Panzram said that he wasn't necessarily a homosexual; he merely enjoyed seeing other men suffer in the worst way possible. The two men would exchange thoughts regularly, giving Lesser a startling account of a serial killer who truly hated humanity. Carl wanted every last man, woman and child to die, including himself.

On September 5, 1930, Carl Panzram was hung. Before having the noose placed around his neck, he told Leavenworth's executioner...
"I wish the entire human race had one neck and I had my hands around it!"
Panzram's daunting last words were...
"Yes, hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could kill a dozen men while you're screwing around!"
And with that, Carl Panzram's tortured existence came to an end. While I find what Carl did to be absolutely deplorable, I can readily understand why he hurt so many people. Panzram was rage personified. He hated everyone for hurting him as a child and teenager. Being conditioned to fear other people, Carl saw the whole of humanity as a threat. This eventually turned him into a violent killing machine, with no regard for even his own life. If you were to look nihilist up in a dictionary, it would only be appropriate to find a mugshot of Carl Panzram next to it. Panzram's case is the prime example of what happens when you abuse a human being until they snap.

For a more insightful look into Carl's life, I suggest you read the memoir Henry Lesser published for him in 1970, entitled Killer: A Journal Of Murder. Lesser held onto Carl's writings for many decades before finding a publisher willing to print the horrific tale. You can find a copy of the book here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Origin Of The Bed Sheet Ghost.

One of the most easily recognizable elements of the Halloween season is the ghost. Eerily haunting unsuspecting homeowners with loud wails of torturous pain, the ghost is as much a symbol of the holiday as the jack-o-lantern or a witch. Undoubtedly, nearly every child has masqueraded at least once as a ghost for All Hallow's Eve. The costume is simple, yet visually striking and effective. The recipe for a ghost costume is astoundingly easy.
  1. Acquire a white bed sheet.
  2. Cut two holes for eyes in the bed sheet.
  3. Wear the bed sheet.
Yet, when we watch movies that feature ghosts, they're never presented as hovering sheets. What gives? Well, I discovered the origin of the Bed Sheet Ghost... and it's not as mysterious as you might think.

Ghosts have always been a popular component in classical theater productions. More often than not, they were presented as armored haunts -- specters wearing suits of armor, whom may have died in the heat of battle. They would creak and clang on stage when moving. Sometimes they'd have genuine actors inside to move the armor. Other times, they'd be operated much like a puppet on strings. Yet, the tastes of the theater-going public began to change in the 1800's. Audiences started to see armored ghosts as silly and nonthreatening. To remedy this problem and make ghostly characters seem more spooky, theater producers began using linens to represent them. They figured a floating sheet with no visible feet nor body would appear dramatically scarier than a humanoid figure in a suit of armor. The change-over was a successful venture and the concept of the Bed Sheet Ghost stuck.

Surprise! Every time you dress up as a ghost with a bed sheet, you're sharing a bit of classic theater production with the world.

Now remember -- just cut TWO holes in the sheet. Don't make the same mistake as Charlie Brown.

Prepare to get a lot of rocks.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Halloween Light Shows!

If there's one thing I enjoy during the Halloween season, it's watching videos of homes decorated with lights synced to music. The effort these homeowners put into lavishing their abodes with millions of lights is insane to say the least. Yet, I appreciate their hard work for the fine detail just as much, if not more. Not just anyone could compose a perfectly choreographed masterpiece on the front of their house. The ghosts, jack-o-lanterns and chatty demon faces are quite the novelty and certainly interesting to watch. I thought I'd share some of my favorite Halloween light shows with you. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Draw Something: Sludge Worm

Imagine being forced to swim through a foggy, muck filled bog. Creepy crawly creatures are swimming all around you. They're covered in slime and eager for a meal. Before you can escape the putrid landscape, you come face to face with the dreaded Sludge Worm!

Yeah, you wouldn't want to meet this beast alone in the dark.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pay To Play.

There, at the bottom of Burgundy Road, a freshly severed head came to a standstill. It had made its way down from the top of the street, rolling feverishly at a rapid pace as it bounced down the hill. Just a few moments before, the head had been attached to a body of course. That body, known to his Ivy League fraternity brothers as "Gobbler Reggie", had a penchant for cycling at night. It would prove to be a fatal hobby. No sooner than Gobbler Reggie had reached the peak of Burgundy Road did the mysterious Patched Jeans Killer swipe his head clean off. His weapon of choice? A dull, jagged lawn mower blade with an improvised grip comprised of wrapped electrical tape.

Arriving at the bottom of the hill, the Patched Jeans Killer kicked Gobbler Reggie's head like a soccer ball. He gleefully watched as it wobbled into the gutter. There, it became stuck in a storm drain. Gobbler Reggie stared vigilantly at his victorious predator, right up until one of the neighborhood feral cats came to feast upon his perfectly toned, smug face.

Wiping his blade on a strip of grass, the killer removed his plaid cloak. Beneath stood a rather unremarkable man of average height and weight. He had the face of a mall security guard -- nonthreatening, forgettable and largely unimposing. His barely-there mustache was wiry, with stray strands of brown hair twirling in multiple directions. Behind the killer was a little red wagon. In it was the headless body of Gobbler Reggie. The Patched Jeans Killer continued to pull his bounty down Burgundy Road, under the brisk chill of the Autumn wind. The flickering street lights provided little visibility for anyone, though this was obviously to the killer's advantage.

Up ahead sat the abandoned Vargas Jelly Factory, long since shuttered in the mid 1980's. The killer was familiar with the location -- his grandmother used to work there before it closed down. On this particular evening, fate would have it that the murderous savage needed to complete a task most foul. Well, not more so than what he had already done to poor Gobbler Reggie.

The Patched Jeans Killer had to take a poop.

Parking his wagon of flesh behind a rusty old fuel tank, the monster busted into the musty building. Fumbling through his fanny pack, he searched for his mini flash light. Flipping the torch on, he gazed back and forth for the nearest restroom. At long last, he found one in the far back corner of the administrative offices on the second floor. Hurriedly rushing into the ebony pit of grime and muck, he frantically slammed open a dilapidated stall door. Before him sat a throne of pure filth. This was no time for being picky, though. The eponymous mystery man of refurbished denim ferociously dropped his pants, which were covered in multiple mismatched sections of cloth. No sooner had his jeans hit the urine stained floor did a massive explosion of gastric juices blast into the porcelain bowl. For what seemed like a full five minutes, the killer filled the toilet with a foul batch of butt pudding. At the end of it all, sweat dripped from the butcher's brow and trickled down his legs. His jeans were soon soaked with sweat.

Leaning back to recover his breath, the Patched Jeans Killer flashed his torch beam at the decrepit bathroom stall. On the back of the entryway hung a tattered poster of Rocky IV-era Brigitte Nielsen. She'd long since been given a black marker beard and had her eyes crossed out. At the bottom, scrawled in block letters, said "PAY TO PLAY." The killer couldn't help but notice the gaping hole below the poster, amateurishly layered in duct tape as a method of padding the jagged edges. One could only imagine how twisted and disgusting those jelly packers were in their heyday.

While waiting for his bowels to settle down, the crafty manhunter retrieved his smart phone. He was eager to experience a free-to-play potato farming simulator which he'd downloaded yesterday, entitled Spud Buster Saga. Gliding his fingers carefully over the phone screen, the killer took joy in planting various crops of potatoes. Unfortunately, his potato-packed potty break soon came to a screeching halt. A perplexing image of slicing swords and ninja stars spun onto the phone's screen. Where once stood a virtual potato palace now rested an annoying ad for another mobile game. A crescendo of pulsating violins, now violently blaring from the device, brought the tension to a boil. Rapid flashes of bright colors radiated like a strobe light. It was enough to induce an epileptic fit.

The killer pursed his butt cheeks in sheer terror.

A boisterous voice-over announcer with a terrible Asian accent screamed "They slice! They dice! And now... they're coming to your smart phone! Kung Fu Warriors... Available Now!"

The shock of the startling advertisement sent the Patched Jeans Killer into a frenzy. The flashing lights baffled his brain, delivering a strange cacophony of nerve impulses throughout his body. His face cast aglow by the ninja-laden commercial, the murderer gripped at his chest. He could feel his heart, pumping uncontrollably, finally explode like a duck trapped in a microwave oven. The phone slipped from his hand and rolled into the crotch of his patched jeans. The intense glare from the screen painted the deceased killer's body in a plethora of colors, a curtain call to what would be his last great performance.

There, in a forsaken house of pectin, sat a barbarian in a bathroom. No courtesy flush. No washing of the hands. And no one cared.

If you listen carefully to the wind on Burgundy Street after the midnight hour, some folks say you can hear the ghost of Gobbler Reggie chanting from the shore of eternal twilight. In a cluster of meteoric laughter, the headless phantom will scream...


Friday, October 16, 2015

Brew Spew 2015 Part 3: Big Boss Brewing Harvest Time Ale.

In this week's installment of the Brew Spew 2015, I'll be featuring a beer from a local brewery located right here in North Carolina. The third beer in this series will be the Harvest Time Ale from Big Boss Brewing. Big Boss is located in Raleigh, North Carolina. They've been in operation since 2006. While still a relatively young brewery, they've achieved a fair amount of success in North Carolina. Almost every bar or restaurant I've visited in my travels throughout the state has had at least one of their beers on tap. They host many events at their brewery throughout the year, as well as sponsor numerous outings like their run club. The Big Boss Tap Room (open daily), is a popular social spot located at the brewery where you can taste all of their beers fresh from the source.

The Harvest Time Ale is 5.5% Alc. by volume and available annually during September and October. As with all of the beers I taste test in the Brew Spew, I will provide a real time set of notes divided into two categories. These were written as I was drinking the beer for the first time. If I like the beer, I'll tell you. If I don't like the beer, I'll tell you that as well. Let's get started, shall we?

Cold out of the fridge:
  • Nutmeg and cinnamon smell is quite fragrant the moment after I poured the beer into a glass.
  • Has a murky golden color.
  • I can readily taste the pumpkin flavor with the first sip.
  • It is not bitter and has an easy finish.
  • There is no strange aftertaste whatsoever.
  • Very little foam with a light level of carbonation.
  • I don't readily taste the spices, but can detect their fragrance in my nose after I swallow.
  • Even though this is an ale, it tastes much like a light lager mixed with pumpkin flavor.
  • An easy to drink, refreshing beer that doesn't try too hard.
At room temperature:
  • The pumpkin flavor has become a great deal stronger.
  • Not bitter at all, thankfully.
  • Still very easy to enjoy as I swallow.
  • Much to my delight, the beer tastes a great deal like a slice of pumpkin pie. In fact, after swallowing, I could swear I'd just eaten a piece!
  • The smell of the spices has somewhat softened.
  • Alternatively, the taste of the spices has gone up dramatically. I can readily detect the nutmeg and cinnamon on the tip of my tongue the moment it hits my mouth.
All in all, the Harvest Time Ale was a particularly satisfying seasonal beer. It delivered just what a seasonal pumpkin-flavored beer should, with no added flair or gimmicks. I'm quite impressed with the Harvest Time Ale. It provided a memorable taste whether cold or at room temperature, which is a signifier of high quality in my opinion. It's a shame Big Boss doesn't produce Harvest Time Ale year-round!

If you happen to live in the Raleigh area, visit the brewery and partake in the Big Boss Harvest Time Pumpkin Festival on October 29, 2015 between 4 and 10 PM. They'll be hosting a pumpkin carving contest, as well as debuting a bourbon barrel aged version of Harvest Time. I've got to get me some of that!

Brew Spew 2015:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 4
Part 5

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Old School Halloween Pranks From Yesteryear!

Let's face it... Halloween pranks just aren't what they used to be. This is largely in part to how litigious our society has become. We'll sue our neighbors over the slightest infraction. Yet, it seems like folks used to really understand how to have fun on Halloween. Pranks weren't just celebrated; they were expected. Halloween was the one night of the year when devious pranks could be pulled without anger or revenge. It was all taken in a humorous manner. I've done some historical digging into the kinds of pranks children (and even adults) would pull on each other come All Hallow's Eve. Many of these pranks come from the late 1800's, though nearly all of them continued into the 1900's. Keep in mind -- some of these pranks may seem terrible, but at the time, they were understood as comical. Old school pranksters knew where to draw the line. They tried not to permanently damage personal property or physically harm anyone.

  • Putting a calf in a church's sanctuary, or even better -- the bell tower!
  • A popular prank before the advent of indoor plumbing was taking someone's outhouse and hiding it in a high location, like on a hill.
  • In the days of spittoons, pranksters would take the tobacco spit they held and paint it on the buildings of known prudes and blowhards.
  • Steps would often be torn down by the cover of darkness. When folks attempted to return to their businesses the following day, they'd find no way to enter.
  • It wasn't uncommon to place a person's property, like a coach or vehicle, on street trolley tracks.
  • Rotten corn or cabbage stalks were commonly thrown on lawns, as were burlap sacks filled with manure.
  • Pranksters would often target the homes of newlyweds and bang pots and pans outside for hours on end.
  • In old western towns, a common prank would be to steal as many vehicles as possible from local residents. They would then be taken to the local saloon and hitched there. It wasn't uncommon to see hundreds of carriages and coaches piled up, causing a massive traffic jam.
  • Moving around street signs (sometimes even trading them with pranksters from nearby towns), was fairly common. I just hope you didn't have to ride your horse or carriage anywhere the next morning without a map!
  • In the time when it was common for yards to have fences with gates, pranksters would often take the gate and swap it with a neighbor's fence. The next day, the owners would have to decipher which of their neighbors had their gate.
  • More crafty hooligans would dump a wagon load of hay atop the local school. If they really wanted to be devious, they'd paint the roof with manure before dropping the hay on it.
  • In rural farm towns, it was common for truck loads of produce (beets, corn, potatoes) to be drug off into the night and left in an awkward location, thereby making it difficult for farmers to retrieve their goods the next day.
  • Rudimentary machines would often be disassembled, then be put back together in a random, nonfunctional way.
  • An impromptu parade through town may be held by revelers in the early hours of the morning, awaking everyone within earshot.
  • More crafty pranksters may try to see who could swipe the local sheriff's badge before the end of the night. Of course, they'd give it back to him the following day. Talk about brave! 
T-Ping a house is for amateurs.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Five Terrible Halloween Costumes - 2015 Edition.

Another year, another Halloween season. The most phantasmagorical day of the year is a mere seventeen days away. Many of you haven't even selected your costume yet. Just as I did last year (click here), I'm here with a guide to the worst costume ideas of the year. Avoid these masked muck traps and you'll do just fine.

And you thought Luke Skywalker had 'daddy' issues.
This girl is STARVED for attention.

Sexy Star Wars Character - There's nothing sexy about a green puppet that talks backwards. Nor is there anything titillating about a giant woolly wannabe Sasquatch. Star Wars has never been a film series that's known for its sex appeal. Yet, we'll undoubtedly see many famous Star Wars characters re-imagined as revealing sex idols. Just don't. It's not just tacky... it's ridiculous.

Changing Your Race - I know you're itching to go out as Ben Carson or President Obama on Halloween. There's just one problem. You're Caucasian. I realize in this modern age that many young folks don't mean to be racist when they put on black-face. In fact, they're probably as far from racist as possible. But, you have to realize something. Even though you're not a racist, that doesn't mean other people won't automatically assume you're a card-carrying member of the Klu Klux Klan for painting yourself a different race. Leave the face paint at home, kids.

Genitalia - There's always that one douche bag at a Halloween party that thinks dressing up as a giant, vein-covered penis is funny. Trust me, it's not funny at all... it's just awkward and uncomfortable. The same applies for guys dressed up as vaginas. Not only are you a lumbering doof, but women automatically assume you're a pervert.

Harley Quinn - Just as I highlighted with the Joker in last year's edition of this article, Harley Quinn has been DONE TO DEATH. Every female comic fan or cosplayer, no matter how obsessed, has dressed up as Joker's devoted sidekick. You've put her in ridiculous bustiers and carried absurdly large hammers. Enough is enough. You're not the first person to think of dressing up as Harley, nor will you be the last. The horse hasn't just been beaten to death, it's been chopped up and delivered to a glue factory for processing.

I make these jeans look cool.

(Almost) Anything Involving Jeans - If your costume involves wearing jeans, you better be going as a cowboy or Jean-Claude Van Damme from Hard Target. Anything else is a frickin' cop-out. Guess what? A costume is all-encompassing, from head to foot. You can't half-ass your costume and just wear a special top or put on face-paint. Dracula in jeans isn't scary... it's just pitiful. Oh, you think your special hoodie with skulls on it makes you terrifying? Show up on my door step in jeans and I'm going to hurricane-kick your lazy ass off my lawn!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

'Trunk-Or-Treat' Is An Attack On Halloween.

"While the origins of "trunk-or-treating" are a mystery, the benefits of them are well-known: less walking for little kids, a safer environment for Halloween, and fun for everyone!"
That's a direct quote from a Latter-Day Saints website I recently encountered while researching the origins of "trunk-or-treat". Originally, I wrote a completely different opening to this article, but discovering this particular LDS website altered my plans. I figured hell, why not address these three meager reasons head on? It would be a fantastic way to express my own concerns with trunk-or-treating.

  1. Less walking for little kids. Seriously? The whole point of Halloween is to WALK TO EACH AND EVERY HOUSE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD, RING A DOOR BELL AND SHOUT "TRICK OR TREAT!" Who thought this crap up? If you're going to gut the very essence of the holiday, why even celebrate it?!
  2. A safer environment for Halloween. This one really makes me laugh, honestly. Not once have I ever known any child to be kidnapped or murdered on Halloween. In fact, I had a hard time finding record of any major crimes against children committed explicitly on/because of Halloween. Think about it... every adult in your neighborhood KNOWS that children will be out and about. They're already on alert and watchful over the wee little ones. Much less, why would a kidnapper or child killer perpetrate their devious plan on THE MOST PUBLICLY VISIBLE CHILD-THEMED HOLIDAY OF THE YEAR?!
  3. Fun for everyone. This is just about the lamest cop-out reason ever. DUH! Of course Halloween is fun. If it wasn't fun, kids wouldn't want to participate!

I'm going to cut right to the chase. Trunk-or-treating sucks. Instead of celebrating Halloween the right way, trunk-or-treating eliminates every single important aspect of the celebration.
  • No traveling from house to house to ring door bells and shout "TRICK OR TREAT!"
  • No time spent with your siblings or friends walking around in your costume.
  • No sense of mystery or excitement derived from VIRTUAL danger (because there isn't any).
  • No sense of responsibility or public awareness for children to learn and grow from.
  • No way to encounter other kids whom may commit harmless pranks or try to steal your candy, which is a valuable way to learn self confidence.
  • No way to see your neighbors' keenly decorated houses, all dressed up in various spooky and haunting ways.
  • No jack-o-lanterns on front porches, inviting all the little ghosts and goblins with their eyes aflame.
  • No lesson of hard work and diligence to be learned because it REWARDS LAZINESS!
Trunk-or-treating is a lame, worthless attempt to childproof Halloween without any regard for what makes the day so special. It's a white-washing of actual trick-or-treating, thereby further eroding any sense of uniqueness and creativity found within the hearts of children. Much less, it promotes laziness. Instead of patrolling your neighborhood and speaking to your fellow citizens to earn a bag full of candy, you just meander through a parking lot and grab candy from the trunks of cars. Wow... that's absolutely pathetic.

"Come here little kids. I've got free candy. You're gonna spend some time with me in Margaritaville. Maybe I'll let you play 'Find the Salt Shaker'. Giggity!"

Here's another point that absolutely baffles my mind. Many parents claim trunk-or-treating is a safer alternative to Halloween. So let me get this straight... they want kids to be safe by teaching them that they'll be rewarded with candy if they approach a stranger's car? WHAT THE WHAT?!

The concept of trunk-or-treating began in the late '90s with religious organizations. They would hold the event in a parking lot, typically that of a church or private school. Essentially, religious groups saw trunk-or-treating as a way to kill two birds with one stone -- not only could they control the paradigm of Halloween and remove children from an "unsafe" and "unholy" activity, but they could also pass out literature to uninitiated families. That's right... trunk-or-treating's origin rests in a religious assault on Halloween. Go frickin' figure! Trunk-or-treating is especially popular within the Mormon community, whom in many places go so far as to abstain from actually using the name 'Halloween' in relation to the activity. This practice of eliminating 'Halloween' from the event is shared by other religious groups as well. Often, a church will group their trunk-or-treating event with a "Fall Festival". Sheesh... what a joke.

And there you have it my friends. Trunk-or-treating is an affront to Halloween, a wholly American tradition that's rapidly evaporating in our modern politically correct times.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Halloween Candy From The '80s!

Back in the '80s, trick-or-treating was an awesome experience. Nearly all of the homes in my town gave out candy. There weren't many fuddy-duddies whom left their porch lights off and their front doors shut. Even my childhood doctor, whom was already pretty old at the time, participated in Halloween. He passed out full size candy bars and his house was always decorated in a very spooky manner. My younger brother Joshua and I would travel all across town hitting every home we could. It was an all night ritual that usually lasted many hours. When it was all said and done, we'd get home and combine our hauls into one giant heap. The candy would last us for a few weeks. We'd trade off certain types of candy. He usually wanted the Nerds, whereas I preferred the taffy and such. The chocolate was usually split evenly, being as we both loved it.

Thinking back, I can still remember the types of Halloween candy I enjoyed eating. I wonder if kids still get these candies today on Halloween...

Peanut Butter Kisses - Most kids hated these peanut butter taffy candies, as I recall. The children I went to school with always complained about the nasty candy in the "black and orange" wrappers. Personally, I rather liked them! They had little bits of peanuts mixed in with the peanut butter taffy. The Peanut Butter Kisses weren't too hard to chew in your mouth, either. I'd always stuff a few in my pockets and take them to school with me as a snack.

Mary Jane - And no... I'm not talking about illicit Arkansas Stink Weed, either. Mary Jane was a hard, peanut butter and molasses taffy. It was similar in taste to the Peanut Butter Kisses, but without the bits of peanuts. Also, the flavor was much bolder because of the molasses. They were definitely harder to chew, so I'd usually just suck on them until they disintegrated in my mouth.

Clark Bar - One of my favorite candy bars to get on Halloween was the Clark Bar. It was similar to a Butterfingers bar, but had a better-tasting chocolate coating. The inside was made of a layered peanut butter crunch that contrasted the chocolate very well. I can recall that if I ate more than one Clark Bar in a sitting, their unique flavor would give me a light stomach ache. It was so worth it, though.

Sugar Daddy - This is the only candy bar on a stick that I have ever seen. The Sugar Daddy is simple, really. It's a rectangular chunk of caramel... on a stick. How can you go wrong with that? I can remember putting them in the freezer before eating them, as to prevent their tendency to get sticky and stretched out.

Atkinson's Peanut Butter Bar - These tiny striped bundles of joy were AMAZING. They were nothing more than peanut butter wafers coated in a flaky, crunchy layer of white candy, but oh were they so good. I remember hoarding these little bad boys most of all after Halloween. They would crumble in your mouth the moment you bit into it. This would release the peanut butter wafer flakes, whereupon they'd promptly melt into the tastiest candy you'll never forget!

Reese's Pieces - Darn if these weren't always welcome to be dropped into my Halloween candy bucket! Little peanut butter cousins of M&M's coated in chocolate... oh man oh man! Honestly, this was the only thing I liked about the hellishly boring movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. That chubby little alien could take a long walk off a short pier, for all I cared!

After recalling all of these wonderful confectionary treats, I think I noticed a trend -- I must have really liked peanut butter based candies as a kid!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Draw Something: Do You Like My Mask?

Only a few weeks from Halloween and the spook factor is steadily rising in my art pieces. Look at this poor fellow... he's not sure if you'll like his mask or not. Isn't he... scary?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Impossible Fish.

For years, Victor Humboldt had enjoyed eating sardines. One of his favorite late night snacks was to peel open a can of sardines and spread them across a piece of mayonnaise-covered toast. He'd finish it off with a tiny sprinkling of salt and pepper. Over the course of his long and fruitful life, Victor must have eaten thousands of cans of sardines. Considering he owned the massive Humboldt Foods Conglomerate, with offices operating in eight countries, this should come as no surprise. "Eat what you love and love what you eat," as Mr. Humboldt would say.

The nipping chill of October had rolled around once again. On this Autumn evening, Victor found himself preparing for bed. A blustery storm battered the shutters outside his bedroom. Any common man with less fortitude would have believed a poltergeist were attempting to violate the property. Not Victor, though; he was made of sterner stuff. Carefully tucking the flaps of his robe into their proper positions, he kicked his velvet slippers off and pulled the heavy down blankets over him. Before long, Victor was sound asleep. To Hell with the storm and its clamorous nonsense!

A strong urge to rub a tickling sensation in his left hand brought Victor to life. He rolled over to look at the large clock hanging above his wardrobe. The hour hand rested directly upon the three. He'd been asleep for approximately five hours. Uncharacteristically, his pillow was soaked with sweat, as if he'd endured a tempestuous nightmare. Lurching forwards from the warmth of his linens, Victor pushed his feet back into their slippers and made for the kitchen. At first, every joint in his body creaked and popped as he began to move. He was a little stiff, but considering he was eighty-seven years old, Victor couldn't complain. In fact, he was quite healthy for a man his age. A lifetime of eating plenty of fish, vegetables and jogging three times a week had a positive effect on his later years.

Lowering himself down a spiral staircase to the ground level, the boards beneath Victor's feet squeaked much like his own joints. The pop of every step reverberated throughout his Norwegian-style manor. Paintings of long-dead sailors and saints adorned numerous walls throughout; their spectral eyes seemed to flicker back and forth with each footfall. Gripping the banister carefully, he finally made it all the way down. At the bottom of the staircase was a hallway. The corridor was lined with more paintings representing sea life and various historical nautical events. Before striding down the hallway, Victor flipped an electrical switch on the wall. The sudden burst of artificial light, which was very bright, seemed to breathe vitality into everything it touched. The dreary pieces of art immediately became more hospitable and warm to the senses. As he walked to the kitchen, the various canvas-bound subjects watched ever vigilantly. They stood guard with a purpose.

The kitchen was a grand masterpiece of both beauty and simplicity. More so than any other room in the mansion, this was the place that Victor enjoyed the most. The counter tops were hand cut from black walnut wood. Their sheen created an illusion that the counters were deep black pools of obsidian water. Victor opened the antique refrigerator -- a General Electric model from the 1940's that belonged to his mother. When he'd made his first million dollars, Victor had it fully restored and returned to its original condition. You could easily describe the master of the manor as sentimental, if nothing else.

From the icebox he retrieved his condiment of choice and a pitcher of orange juice. Walking into his pantry, he grabbed a can of Humboldt's Fresh Sardines. Every time he started to open a canister of the tiny fish, his sense of pride grew slightly. Sure, the sardines weren't a terribly profitable portion of his corporation, but it was something he took great satisfaction in. When his company was still young, sardines were a more commonly eaten food. At the time, they were economical, easy to store and kept for long periods without spoiling. Nowadays, people had moved away from eating sardines. Perhaps their taste wasn't fashionable anymore, or maybe folks thought they looked unsettling. Either way, sardine sales had been in steady decline for many decades. Yet, Victor simply wouldn't cease production. As long as he was alive, his Sardines would stay on grocery shelves. They were his lifeblood.

Spreading a substantial layer of mayonnaise across a piece of toasted Italian bread, Victor could almost do this routine with his eyes closed. He stuck his fork into the opened sardine can and stabbed one of the fish. Placing it on the dressed toast, he noticed that this one still had its head attached. This was atypical; his sardines had their heads and tails removed before being packed into cans. Drawing close to the sardine, he looked at the miniature fish face.

The fish's eye moved.

Prudently plopped onto a white beach of creamy fluff, the sardine's mouth began to open and shut with an inquisitive gape. Mr. Humboldt couldn't believe what his eyes were seeing -- a real, live sardine writhing on his toast! Quickly checking the remaining sardines in the can, he took a head count. Thankfully, they were all headless. Somehow, this lone survivor had managed to sustain itself through the packing process. With great urgency, he retrieved an empty glass bowl and filled it with water. Carefully wiping the mayonnaise off the impossible fish with his fingers, he slid it into the dish. The sardine flipped and twirled with delight in the liquid; being freed from his aluminum cage had a profound effect on its disposition.

Spearing the remaining lifeless sardines and tucking them onto his bread, Victor couldn't help but watch as the vibrant and wholly puzzling creature swam happily in the pitcher. He munched on his midnight morsels with a strong sense of bewilderment. Never taking his eyes off his spirited new friend, Mr. Humboldt was entranced by the silver scales. He drifted back and forth with the swirling mercurial oddity. As the fish continued to swim, Victor floated away from consciousness and towards a dream on a distant shore. He could feel the aberrant tingle in his left hand once again, and then... a rush of cool water as he dove face first into the greatest wave. And there, swimming at his side, was the diminutive sardine.

The next morning, Victor Humboldt's lifeless body was discovered slumped over his kitchen table. No signs of foul play were found. Before Victor sat only an empty plate, a butter knife, a fork, a half-used jar of mayo, a nearly-empty glass of orange juice and a vacant sardine can. There wasn't anything of malice to be said about the scene -- a kind and reasonable man died a peaceful death. Who could ask for anything more?


"What is death but a traversing of eternities and a crossing of cosmic oceans?" -- Robert E. Howard, Exile of Atlantis

Friday, October 9, 2015

Brew Spew 2015 Part 2: Boulevard Brewing Funky Pumpkin Spiced Sour Ale.

Here we are, the second Friday of October. That can mean only one thing -- the latest installment of the BREW SPEW 2015!

Tonight, I'll be highlighting a rather strange fall seasonal beer from Boulevard Brewing Company of Kansas City, Missouri. The Funky Pumpkin Spiced Sour Ale is the inaugural release from Boulevard into the booming pumpkin ale market. Founded in 1989, Boulevard Brewing is currently the largest specialty brewer in the Midwest. They are most notably known for their GABF® Gold Medal-winning Unfiltered Wheat Beer, which is a high volume seller throughout the Midwest.

Funky Pumpkin Spiced Sour Ale will be available in September and October annually. It is 5.8% Alc. by volume. As with my first article in this series (which you can read here), I will evaluate the beer in two parts. My comments will be recorded in real time. My opinion will be honest, direct and I will tell you exactly what I think, good or bad.

Cold out of the fridge:
  • Has the faint smell of nutmeg and cranberries.
  • When they said it was sour, they weren't kidding.
  • It has a light yellow color.
  • Not frothy, with just the right amount of carbonation.
  • Leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste in your mouth.
  • The nutmeg and allspice is somewhat present when you first begin to drink.
  • As you continue to drink, the sourness really begins to take over.
  • The pumpkin flavor is very light and totally overpowered by the sourness.
  • Reminds me of a piece of very sour hard candy without any of the sweetness.
At room temperature:
  • The cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices are more easily detectable by the tongue.
  • The sourness, though still present, is only slightly less bold.
  • A sweetness has developed where there wasn't one before.
  • The aftertaste retains the sour flavor, but also some of the spices.
I can't accentuate enough just how sour this beer was. After drinking it, I did some digging into what made it so twangy. Apparently, Boulevard relied upon an old traditional method used in some Belgian ales that employs Brettanomyces for the yeast element. Brettanomyces is a non-spore forming Genus of yeast. It is generally not wanted in beer because it can influence the flavor in some unsettling ways. One such manner is that it will make a beer taste extra sour, as with the Funky Pumpkin Spiced Sour Ale. Boulevard purposefully added this particular Genus of yeast to make the Ale pucker your mouth.

My final thoughts? You should definitely not drink Funky Pumpkin Spiced Sour Ale cold. It's just not pleasant. I wouldn't buy this beer at a bar for that very reason. If I were in the mood for something different, I might consider buying another bottle in the future. Might.

Brew Spew 2015:
Part 1
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5