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Mutterings of a Mad Woman

Sugar Skulls and War of the Worlds

on November 6, 2012 - 9:41am

Who says Halloween is over?

This past weekend I didn't feel like going straight home after work. Instead, I went down to the Harbourfront Centre to catch the end of the Day of the Dead Festival with everything from sugar skulls, to Mariachi Bands, to traditional altar displays. Sadly, I got there 20 minutes before it all shut down, and did a quick tour of the lot. I was disappointed to arrive so late, but soon realized all was not lost.

Turns out there was a theatrical performance of Orson Welles' famous radio broadcast of War of the Worlds by the Art of Time Ensemble. Instead of having 11 voice actors, there were 3: Sean Cullen (who has done many things, but I always think of Corky and the Juice Pigs), Nicholas Campbell (who you might know from Haven, or the classic Da Vinci’s Inquest), and Marc Bendavid (The Border).

It was a simple set, leaving the props and costumes to give the impression of time and setting. The main actors stood to the right with microphones in front, scripts in hand. To the far left was live Foley sound effects artist John Gzowski who was fascinating to watch. In the middle were musicians who, in classic form, spent their free time smoking and reading magazines.

Hanging above the cast was an "On Air" sign and a clock, counting off the hour. 

As someone who loves to listen to stories, and also enjoys a glimpse of history, I was completely captivated. 

You could understand why people tuning in partway into the program might believe the news broadcasts were real. And how, if they didn't stick around to listen until the last quarter, they wouldn't  understand that what they were listening to was a theatrical production.

Even the poster for the event (pictured top left) appealed to me.

And that was just the second half of the show. There was more.

The Morning After

on November 1, 2012 - 3:40pm

Let me start by saying a big thanks to Amy over at Circus Posterus who chose Halloween to post an interview with yours truly. Definitely one of the coolest online nods I've gotten this season.

The oddest? I made the list for Best Dating Sites "20 Sites to Plan the Perfect Halloween Date" which tickled me to no end. I'm at the bottom, for those who want to get crafty on their date. Hilariously awesome.

Now, who is going to hand out the "We Survived Halloween 2012" shirts? 

Strange year. Ventured out into the city early yesterday evening and in neighbourhoods that traditionally overflowed with Halloween celebration and decoration, but there was little to be found. You'd think it was the start of October, not the end. Certainly not Halloween itself.

Happy Halloween 2012!

on October 31, 2012 - 7:38am

We made it.

Here's hoping the storm systems don't completely ruin this year's festivities for folks. While it is rainy and miserable, and not the best weather for haunters, it could be worse. You just have to read the news about folks east of us to know how bad it could be.

Besides, I don't think having an old fashioned dark and stormy night in Toronto is all that bad for setting the Halloween mood. 

As for me? What's that saying about the best laid plans? It's looking like my social affairs are going to melt away with the rain. Last minute meetings, work obligations and acts of God have all conspired so that I might be on my own after work. Tonight? I imagine I'll be on the couch with Yetch and Monkey Boo. 

As promised, here are the last pictures from this year's party. I decided to take my corpse from last year and have her propped on the porch to greet guests. Sure, it has nothing to do with Twin Peaks, but I really like her.

I also was able to get the Art Ghoullery behaving, so you can see the complete set in larger versions

Be safe tonight. Have fun. And I wish you the Happiest of Halloweens.

Ghoul Friday

Second Batch of Black Lodge Pictures

on October 30, 2012 - 3:02pm

"Through the dark of futures past

The magician longs to see

One chants out between two worlds

'Fire walk with me'

I'll catch you with my death bag

You may think I've gone insane

But I promise

I will kill again"

Here is the second batch of pictures.

You got to see a preview of the Laura Palmer decoration earlier, and now here it is up on the wall.

I do like the simplicity of using crumpled brown craft paper for the quote "She's dead. Wrapped in Plastic". Something earthy about it, and a sense of being disposable (easily thrown away in the trash). 

I used the craft paper for cave symbols across the room too. And of course, the brown paper bags for the Sycamore tree lanterns. 

The chess game and playing cards with the faces changed are hat tips to Windom Earle, and the poker chips are for "One Eyed Jacks". 

First Batch of Pictures for Halloween in the Black Lodge

on October 30, 2012 - 1:35pm

What's a Red Room experience without Agent Cooper?

Here are the first set of photographs from Sunday's Party. The theme, as you know, was Halloween in the Black Lodge.

I'll be posting more images as the rainy afternoon goes on. 

Having some technical difficulties with the site, so I can't put them into the Art Ghoullery just this moment. For now, here's some smaller versions while you wait for the originals to be posted.

In this set, you'll find sycamore trees at the entrance of the Black Lodge; Owls (of course); doughnuts (a bit fancier than what they had on the show); Tibetan rock throwing gear (to determine who "J" is/who killed Laura Palmer); a box of spiders for Leo Johnson; Waldo, the dead eye witness Mynah Bird; and the map from Owl Cave that tells folks how and where to find the Black Lodge. 

More to come!

I Think I Blacked Out

on October 29, 2012 - 3:51pm

Missed posting Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was work and then prepping for my party, and Sunday was prepping then hosting my party. 

October has gone by fast, but I think I traveled the speed of light yesterday to arrive here, Monday afternoon.

I've spent the morning dismantling part of the party decor (Monkey Boo couldn't find her way in and out of the curtained red room very well), and the afternoon was dedicated to snuggling on the couch with the pup.

I'm exhausted. 

Everyone seemed to have a nice time. No huge recipe fiascoes. Decorations came together as expected. Overall, it was a successful gathering.

There are pictures to share. And I will share them. I promise. 

But tomorrow.

The rest of the day is earmarked for putting away dishes, more snuggling with the dog, eating leftover fancy doughnuts from last night, and watching Halloween television or movies.

Halloween Party Food Preparation Tip

on October 26, 2012 - 2:31pm

It's Halloween party weekend for many of us. I can feel the anxiety from here, rising like steam from party hosts.

If, like me, you like to make most of the food you serve at parties (or, also like me, you can't afford to have it catered), do yourself a favor and prepare as much of it as you can before the day of the party. 

Many foods like soups and chilies freeze wonderfully, so make them early. 

Prep for dish ingredients - chopping, roasting, grating, etc - can also be done ahead of time, ready to be assembled on the day. 

I put a list of items I'm making on the fridge with 3 columns: prepped, made, served. If dishes have more than one component (for example, herb butter for a squash soup, or homemade dip with vegetables), I list them together. This helps prevent the last minute "I forgot to make the salsa for the nacho dip!" or even worse, you forget to bring out part of the dish when serving. 

As I go along, I add a check mark to each column.

Honestly, this is a life saver. It also is handy for anyone who is helping you serve. They can look at the list and know how many things they should be looking for.

Doing a lot of work beforehand means doing considerably less work on the day of the party. Plus, you are less likely to end up stuck in the kitchen while your guests are there. It's YOUR party. You deserve to have fun too.

Laura Palmer Wall Decoration

on October 25, 2012 - 11:03am

"She's dead. Wrapped in plastic." 

It's got to be one of my favourite movie lines of all time. Mainly because of the way it's delivered.

While I am steering away from miscellaneous Twin Peaks references and imagery and focusing on the Black Lodge elements, I knew from the start I probably should include Laura Palmer's death in some way. It's a major part of the overall plot of the series, but it also is integral to the Black Lodge storyline. 

When I realized I had one big blank spot left on a wall in the living room. I decided to come up with something that represented - directly - the death of Laura Palmer. 

I'd toyed earlier with wrapping up my mannequin torso in plastic, putting a blonde wig on her and having an actual wrapped up corpse in the room but it didn't go with the overall feel of the decorations and symbolism I've been using. 

I thought it would look kinda...blatant, crude and clumsy against the other decorations.

Instead, I came up with my...I don't know what to call it...Laura Palmer wreath? It's about 2 feet around.

It turned out nicer than I thought it would. 

So, how did I make it? 

Simple.

Under the Sycamore Trees

on October 24, 2012 - 12:48am

I've been racking my brain trying to come up with an easy way to incorporate sycamore trees into the theme decor without having to build a bunch of them. In the show Twin Peaks, the entrance to the Black Lodge is surrounded by a ring of sycamore trees. 

It finally hit me that I should make paper bag lanterns. They are cheap (because I have overspent my budget), easy (because I am running out of time) and I've had it on my "to do" list for years (but it never fit into my theme). 

Sat down with a set of paper bags, a paint brush, and black paint. I started looking for free spooky tree clip art. Didn't find any I was overly crazy about, and became impatient. Decided I would throw caution to the wind, and just paint them by hand (because at this point, I'm too impatient to even do a pencil sketch first). 

Roman Bust Progress

on October 23, 2012 - 2:12pm

Finally dove in and sculpted the hair. Decided to go super cheap and use Crayola Model Magic. I was concerned it wouldn't adhere to the paper mache but my fears quickly vanished once I got going.

It's interesting to see the progression from start to finish, don't you think? 

Sure, she's no Venus, but I'm pretty happy with it considering I had no idea what I was doing. 

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