Sunday, October 12, 2008

31 Days of Halloween: Feels like Halloween! (Pt. 1)

Fall began on Sept. 22nd, and did so auspiciously here in Pittsburgh. We had a dark, overcast day with high winds, and that night I saw something a bit creepy. I was in the parking lot of a local grocery, and a very large maple tree bordered the lot. The high winds were whistling around the walls of buildings and making exactly the same high whooshing noise you hear on Halloween sound effects records and CDs, or in old horror movies. And the maple tree was raining "helicopter seeds" by the thousands; they looked like a spinning, whirling invasion of locusts! And because they were blowing towards the store, cross-currents of air were lifting and dropping the seeds, and they seemed to be moving up and down deliberately, as if they were alive. It was a memorable sight.

But it didn't feel like the Halloween season.

Oh, all the stores had Halloween stuff out-- it had all come out at the beginning of September (too soon for my tastes), but there seemed to be less variety and imagination in much of what was on shelves. And economic worries had me wanting to spend less this year, too.

(Target stores did have this cool "coffin mister" fog machine that I coveted, though.)

And I'd just learned about Mabon, the Celtic feast of the autumn equinox, at a blog of a young Hungarian woman with a dark imagination, Mina Jade.

But I was still in mourning for my friend Linda, who I'd just learned had passed away only a few days before. We always exchanged stuff at Halloween the last few years. And I knew I'd miss her especially at this time of year.

Prior to that, I was looking forward to getting in the macabre mood of the season. Jane and I had just been to Kennywood the week before (a local amusement park), and we saw some eerie sights, such as this:

This spectral figure and hearse is always the first Halloween-related piece of creepy decor that the park puts up. It was a welcome sight. But it wasn't enough to make me feel the holiday mood.

Then Jane and I went on a new dark ride at Kenny wood called "Ghostwood Estate." It tries to be similar to Disney's "Haunted Mansion", and like it, comes complete with creepy portraits on the walls and a ghostly host.

But--frustratingly-- the ride emphasizes a video game-style activity of shooting "guns" at tiny targets to score points (the ammunition being infrared beams, I'm guessing.) If you do that, though, you have no time to look at the well-done spooky props and sets! So you'd miss out on details like these:

You can see the targets on the walls in the photos above. But the lighting is dimmer than seen here, and shooting targets-- not that I could, anyway-- would just spoil the ride, in my opinion.

The best part was waiting in line, because I saw with own eyes PROOF that Vincent Price is NOT DEAD!

Looks like he's getting younger, too!

Around the park I saw a few more cool sights, like these two visitors who had come from VERY far away to enjoy the end of summer:

I nodded at them and yelled "Klaatu barada nikto" at them, but they just flipped me off. (They get to the USA and right away, start acting like Americans. I was touched.)

More later.

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