30 Day Song Challenge – Day 6

Day 06 – A song that reminds of you of somewhere:
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – “A Nightmare on My Street”

It’s safe to say I was scared of a lot when I was a kid. Actually, I’m still kind of a chicken. At least 25% of the reason I hate it when my wife is gone overnight is due to a (irrational?) fear of monsters. But it was so much worse as a kid. I’m sure my mom feels a certain amount of bitterness that I now love horror movies and yet 20 years ago, I would refuse to go upstairs to bed alone because I saw an especially graphic Count Chocula commercial that day. True story. Actually, it probably happened more than once. Seriously, it was a problem. Like an I-saw-a-child-psychologist-about-it problem.

Freddy Kruger was the embodiment of my fears. I had never seen any of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, but I knew you were supposed to be afraid of him. Thinking back, there would probably be a great psychological rationale for my intense fear of a fictional character who I had never seen in action and really knew nothing about (I didn’t even know he haunted your dreams), but since typing his name still gives me the hint of a chill up my spine, I’m probably not ready to go there yet.

Anywho, since the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise was so popular, it was hard to avoid Freddy’s image in the 80’s. Commercials were easier to avoid since I knew the theme music by heart and would quickly change the channel, but then he would pop-up unexpectedly in sketch comedy shows or as a cardboard cut-out in the grocery store.

The worst instance was at my sister’s birthday party at a roller skating rink. They had probably just finished playing J. Giles’ “Freeze Frame” for the 5th time when they put on “A Nightmare on My Street.” Four notes into the hook of the song, I recognized it as Freddy’s theme and freaked the freak out. It had taken me completely off guard.

Part of me was thinking semi-rationally and felt completely defeated. Freddy, and all my fears, could resurface at any time. I was old enough to be embarrassed about my reactions to things that scared me, but I still couldn’t stop reacting so dramatically. Would I always burst into tears at the sight of someone with fangs (be it person, puppet, or cartoon)? Would I ever be able to fall asleep without staring at my closet door for an hour first? Couldn’t I just be bored silly at my older sister’s birthday party like a regular kid?

While one part of me was depressed about my prospects of growing up a scaredy cat, the other part of me was scared shitless. Would the combination of Freddy’s theme and a DJ Jazzy Jeff’s turntable skills somehow possess everyone in the roller rink? And will they all soon stop and stare at me with Freddy-faces? I don’t know… I DON’T KNOW!

I jumped up, half screaming, half crying, and ran for the door. I got past one set of glass doors and couldn’t go any further (I was too young to be able to leave the building by myself). For the next four minutes, the patrons of Skatetown USA were greeted by an uncontrollably sobbing six year old boy, hands plastered over his ears, repeating to himself, much like a mental patient would, “Freddy’s Song… Freddy’s Song…”

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30 Day Song Challenge – Day 5

Day 05 – A song that reminds you of someone: The Five Blobs – “The Blob”

On our first Halloween trip, my wife and I drove down to Virginia and went to Busch Gardens and Kings Dominion. Since it was our first trip, she wasn’t sick of my Halloween music yet, and I even had some tunes that I didn’t know by heart yet. One of them was “The Blob” from the 1958 movie of the same name.

The song is ultra repetitive, the singer sounds like Tim Calhoun, the saxophone starts off like a sexy nightclub and changes halfway to a 60’s beach party, and each chorus ends with the cheek-pop sound like in “Lollipop, Lollipop.” Basically, it’s awesome. And since my own interpretation of the song got my later-to-be-wife to laugh once, I, like a 3 year-old child, assume she’ll keep laughing if I keep doing it. Over the next 3 years, she went from laughing to politely smiling to ignoring to sighing loudly. She has since learned to not encourage me.

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30 Day Song Challenge – Day 4

Day 04 – A song that makes you sad:
James Newton Howard – “Malcolm is (Spoiler Alert!) Dead”

Most people don’t cry at horror movies (unless you’re an animal lover at a screening of Cannibal Holocaust) but Sixth Sense was not a typical scare-fest. The movie had a great twist ending before they were popular, but there was an emotional core to the movie that most genre films don’t have. This was due to Bruce Willis being kick ass, and also James Newton Howard’s score (both would continue to be awesome on the even better follow-up Unbreakable).

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30 Day Song Challenge – Day 3

Day 03 – A song that makes you happy: Mickey Lee Lane – “The Zoo”

This song has little to nothing to do with Halloween, but they mention King Kong, so I’ll allow it.

First, just listen to the song here. And if you don’t have time, just skip to the 1:10.

This track was on a CD compilation called Horror Hop (along with the companion CD Monster Bop, these are two of my favorite CDs I own, Halloween themed or not). This song makes me happy for two reasons:

1. Rhinocerosusususususususususususus
2. Hippopotamusususususususususususus

Actually, the only animals that are mentioned to specifically be in the zoo are all monkeys (monkeys, chimpanzees, and King Kong). It just reminds me of trends in horror that aren’t really around anymore. Gorillas (large or normal sized) use to me common themes in 30’s and 40’s horror movies and shows. The same goes for witch-doctors, and half-animals/half-men, cannibals (not zombies), and other “jungle” type horrors. Beside’s Cronenberg’s “The Fly” (which was a remake anyway), I can’t really think of any animal-human hybrids in horror for 60 years (excluding were-wolves). And the only witch-doctor I know of since they started filming in color is Papa Shango (and the dude with a brief cameo in Beetlejuice).

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In Training

Before Monday, I did not run.  I had no desire to run.  Then a friend at work sent me a link to a website for a 5K through the woods of Maryland… with zombies.

Basically, you run with a certain number of “life” flags on your person.  Other people dressed up like zombies chase you and try to grab your flags.  If you finish with at least one flag, you get a metal for staying alive.  If you finish with no flags, you get a metal for being turned into a zombie.  In addition to the running, there are obstacles, so I think it’s going to be a great test of how well you’ll do in a real zombie apocalypse.

How cool does that sound?  So I started running, and just signed my wife and myself up for the race.  Since it’s in October (of course), we are planning our 2011 Halloween trip around it.  The itinerary is as follows:

Friday Night: Drive to Maryland and hit up a local haunted house/hayride.  In the 3 years we’ve taken these trips, the local attractions have always pleasantly surprised.  Thecrowds are smaller, the actors are having more fun than your typical Six Flags employee, and they are less concerned about safety, which is always more fun.  Two years ago, my wife and I actually got lost in a haunted corn maze, which totally freaked us out (in a good way).  Any mainstream haunted corn maze would have roped off the path (or worse, made a path with clear plastic) to prevent people from getting lost, but also undermining the whole “maze” part of the attraction.

Saturday Morning: Zombie Race!

Saturday Night: Head over to Knoebel’s Amusement Park for their Hallo-Fun Nights.  The park looks very old-school (free parking and admission, with the ability to pay by ride or get an unlimited ticket) and on the family friendly side.  No big coasters (at least no steel ones), but they are home to one of the country’s top rated dark rides.  They also have the antique cars ride, which when done right, is one of my favorites during Halloween (it’s basically a real world version of the nightmare where someone is chasing you, but when you try and run away, you don’t move anywhere – those cars go like 1.5 mph).

Sunday: Head to one of my wife’s favorite parks – Hershey Park.  The coasters look huge (looks like you’ll be riding alone a lot that day, hun) and Halloween and chocolate go together like Halloween and candy.  The “scare-zones” for Hershey will be family friendly as well, so this trip won’t be as gory and scary as our past trips, but… we’re going to be chased by ZOMBIES IN THE WOODS!!!

Plus, we’ll get to spend Halloween weekend in our new, fun neighborhood.  Come October, I’m going to try and take a lot of pictures of all the fun events we head to – from dog costume contests to cat costume contests.  Also, I already got my mask for Halloween this year, so I’ll actually get to wear it in public and not just around the house.

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30 Day Song Challenge – Day 2

Day 02 – Your least favorite song: Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Bad Moon Rising”

I did a lot of research finding almost 200 songs for my Halloween playlists (not including soundtracks).  After you get past obvious choices like “Thriller” and “Monster Mash”, compilation CDs and top 10 lists always contain the same few songs.  Some are great picks like Oingo Boingo’s “Dead Man’s Party,” and some aren’t, like CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising.”  I don’t dislike the song, it’s just not very Halloween-y, yet is on so many “Essential Halloween Party” CDs.  It’s really only because it was featured in the movie An American Werewolf in London that it has any connection to Halloween at all.  That I’m not a huge fan of the movie makes it even harder to condone its association with the holiday. (Strangely, “Dead Man’s Party” was featured in Rodney Dangerfield’s Back to School – a very un-Halloween-y movie).

That isn’t to say I don’t want to hear it, just that it’s my LEAST favorite.  In fact, one of my favorite Halloween memories (if a recent one) involved a carousel’s rendition of the tune.  My wife and I spent Halloween 2010 at (an unusually un-crowded) Lake Compounce amusement park.  In addition to hosting one of the longest and best haunted walk-throughs in the country, the park itself added some really creative touches to add to its old-school, Carnival-of-Souls-y vibe, including having the carousel play Halloween-y music.  You couldn’t really tell unless you were paying attention (songs all kind of sound the same when played on a Wurlitzer Band Organ), but what a cool effect.  Walking through an empty amusement park with the distant sounds of people screaming on a wooden coaster and hearing the herky-jerky version of a song about the apocalypse… yup.

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Ohhhh….What a Rush!

Random Halloween Costume Idea:

Legion of Doom

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Heavy Metal!

This Thursday I have VIP tickets to go see one of my favorite bands (I’d say in the top three bands still playing), Down.  I’m writing about this because there are at least two connections between Down and Halloween, for me at least.  First is the House of Shock.  Based in New Orleans, the House of Shock is one of the best rated haunted houses in the country around Halloween time.  It was started by Down (and Pantera, and Superjoint Ritual, and numerous other awesome bands) frontman, Phil Anselmo.  My buddy who I’m going to the show with went to the House of Shock last year and said it was amazing.

My wife and I, for the past 3 years, have taken a Halloween road trip to various amusement parks and haunted houses.  I just started looking into where we might go this year, but have unfortunately all but ruled out New Orleans for this year for distance/time/financial reasons.  None the less, I’ve wanted to go since I heard about it in the mid 90’s and will hopefully make it there in the next few years.

Down was also a big influence in me starting a band a few years ago.  Basically, I wanted to look like Rob Zombie, have a stage show like Gwar, and sound like Down.  I succeeded in none of the above, but we had a kick ass band name and logo:

Beast of Eden

(You see how the "B" is really a "13"? Totally sweet.)

The battle plan for the band was to learn a bunch of covers (Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil”, Type-O’s “Black No. 1”, “Halloween” by the Misfits, etc.), plaster Washington DC with stickers of our AMAZING name and logo (get it…like EAST of Eden, but BEAST of Eden, who would be, like, the devil…or something) and play our first gig on Halloween night.  As I said, none of that came to fruition, and my mom still has a large box of stickers in her basement.

Anyway, as part of the VIP package, I’ll get to meet the band and listen to their sound check.  I’m pretty psyched since they are one of my favorite current bands, and Pantera is one of my top five bands of all time.  Phil in general is such an icon in heavy metal.  I read in an interview that his favorite album as a kid was the soundtrack to Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride.  He used to just play the 2nd side of the record, which was all spooky sounds and stuff.  Very cool.

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30 Day Song Challenge – Intro/Day 1

My step-brother started posting his 30 Day Song Challenge on Facebook and it looks totally sweet. Since I didn’t want to invite taunts of “copy-cat!”, I figured I’d post my songs here instead of Facebook. Since it’s here, I kept it to only songs on my Halloween playlists (you don’t have multiple Halloween playlists? You don’t even have one???)

I’ve already made a list of the songs, so I won’t stick to the post-a-day format, but just give a new one every so often.

Day 01 – Your favorite song: Kay Starr – The Headless Horseman

This is a tough call (as most were), but this might be my favorite Halloween song ever. The vibe is just perfect: fun but kind of spooky.

The song was originally done in 1949 by Bing Crosby during the Legend of Sleepy Hollow segment on Disney’s The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad, but Kay Starr covered it a few months later and that’s the version I’ve got.

It reminds me of when I worked in an independent, neighborhood video store after college. On the cool October mornings, I would grab a breakfast sandwich, put on Halloween themed cartoons, and just relax in the empty store. If I couldn’t sleep in, this was the best way to spend a morning.

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Pizza Party

When your a teenager, you could just get high and go egg houses on halloween, but that’s not cool.  Know what’s cool?  Getting high and egging houses IN COSTUME.  Seriously, if you going to be a teenage jerk anyway, at least keep a little of your innocence by looking like you’re having fun.  Those kids from Cobra Kai had the right idea. (and I was kidding.  don’t get high.)

But seriously, I love the concept of kids trying to be badass but still being kids.  I remember sleepover birthday parties as a youth where we would stay up late and watch Tales from the Crypt or R-rated movies.  We thought we were so cool cause we were watching stuff with bare boobs, but we were having a SLEEPOVER PARTY.  Sleepover parties aren’t cool.  I mean they totally are, but you know, for kids.

But what did they always have at sleepover parties?  PIZZA!  Pizza was the ultimate fun-time food.  It still is.  Maybe its cause we work in NYC, but a lot of my workmates still have pizza once a week.  Nothing raises office morale like “pizza in the conference room.”  So if everyone can agree on loving the favorite food as the Ninja Turtles, maybe it can be a first step to understanding not everything kids love is only for kids.

Ok it’s a stretch, but whatever.  I haven’t even come to my point, which is I’m totally psyched to get pizza and go see Army of Darkness tonight.  I haven’t seen it since high school. I have to say that there will be a little magic missing since I won’t need to sneak beers (or rather watch my friends sneak beers – I was way too scared of my mom to drink until I got to college), but I still have to tip toe to bed and not wake up my wife at 3am, so there’s something.

So I got my playlist of Misfits, Munipal Waste, and King Diamond to get pumped up.  GORE-FEST TONIGHT!!!!!!!!!  WHOOOOO!!!!!

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