I had big plans for doing a series of Halloween-related posts here on the blog leading up to my favorite holiday, but it just didn’t happen thanks to that whole parenting thing and work getting in the way. I did, however, do some all-ages, Halloween themed reading that is worth posting about thanks to some books I picked up at the library.
The Adventures Of Scarygirl by Nathan Jurevicius grabbed my attention just from the cover. I love cartoony art styles in comics and this book has it all over the place. The story itself follows the misadventures of the title character who makes friends with a sea monster and a somewhat magical rabbit. She wants to find out why she was dumped in the woods, remembering the face of a specific man, and heads towards his location. The adventure is fraught with betrayal, threats and other dangers that eventually make Scarygirl realize that this man might not be the source of enlightenment she hoped for.
Here’s the thing, though, this book is presented without dialogue. There are some sound effects in here and there are speech bubbles, but they’re filled with images of people and places or a handful of symbols. Even as a 32 year old adult who’s read comic books for a third of his life, I had some trouble following a few of the details, so I’m not sure if that will make it better or worse for a younger reader. I showed my 4-year-old some of the pictures and she dug the style, but she wasn’t too interested. When I read her other comics, I know she can get a bit lost as to which panel I’m reading from and she should be focusing on, so this one might not be the best choice. On the other hand, though, a lack of words might break down some barriers for kids, so I’d recommend checking this one out and presenting it to your kids. If they don’t get too freaked out by some of the pages, they might be all up for this one.
Speaking of the pages, dang this artwork is just gorgeous. While reading the book I found myself wishing I could play it like a video game. I must not have been the only one because it is also a video game that I now very much want to play. Has anyone played it?
I was also very quickly and easily drawn to Chris Schweizer’s The Creeps Volume 1 Night Of The Frankenfrogs. As I’ve mentioned more than once, I love the films of the 80s aimed at kids that put them in real danger like Monster Squad, The Goonies, Cloak & Dagger, E.T. and even The Gate. I got that vibe just from the cover of this book from Amulet Books and was not disappointed.
The Creeps centers around a quartet of outcasts each with a specific set of skills that helps them rid their town of supernatural and sci-fi threats. These kids try to save the world from frakenfrogs while avoiding the rest of their classmates who hate them and dealing with the bad guys behind the infestation.
Again, I showed this one to my daughter but she wasn’t ready to make the commitment to a graphic novel. Still, she seemed to like the look of the characters and was appropriately grossed out by the monsters. To my mind, this book feels like it would fit in with the first batch of original Nickelodeon cartoons from the 90s like Doug, Ren & Stimpy and Rugrats. If that sounds like it might be up your kids’ alley (or yours) then go ahead and give this one a shot!
If you’re curious about why I posted so little in October, you can check out all the links to what I wrote that month over on my pop culture blog UnitedMonkee.
I’m a big fan of Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse after reading it just the one time so far.
The movies I mentioned are My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Spooktacular Pony Tales, My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks and Planes Fire and Rescue which were all are great. Still waiting to watch Maleficent.
The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 77 covers Lu’s first two weeks of school, the difficulties of going to the grocery store and a few words on the NFL-based child abuse cases.
The cartoon I mentioned is called Peep And The Big Wide World.
Speaking of arts and crafts, Tomie dePaolo’s book The Art Lesson is a personal favorte. Above you can see the cover as well as the title page of my version which he signed back in 1991. The song I mentioned is called “Flowers Are Red.”
The 34th episode of the Pop Poppa Cast recounts a successful Halloween outing, a junker car, bad back and how a combination of toddler time and free stuff made me feel better.
If you’re interested in reading my thoughts about what I consider the main Halloween movies, head on over to UnitedMonkee.com.
Lu tried on the wig one time before Halloween, it can be seen in the October 2nd, 2013 Photo Diary.
The episode of Matt & Brett Love Comics I was interviewed on can be found here, or on iTunes.
Only I could get something wrong in a correction. I haven’t posted my John Landis interview on UnitedMonkee.com, but I did post the full Harold Ramis interview. Give it a look.
The Sesame Street-centric episode of The Nerdist Writer’s Panel is also on iTunes or can be found here.
The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 33 features all kinds of goodness from the more pleasant moments of raising our toddler to horror movies and a store I like to frequent.
My full review of The Shining is over on UnitedMonkee.com. Its author, Stephen King earned the Pop Poppa Of The Week for his talent.
The Pop Poppa Seal Of Approval went to Marshalls, not because I’m hoping for some advertisers, but because I do dig that store. (I am also looking for advertisers).
Thanks to the snow storm and subsequent power outage the weekend before Halloween, the costume party we were going to go to on Saturday got cancelled. Thankfully, the hosts decided to reschedule for last Friday. We were glad to hear this news not only because we wanted to hang out with friends, but also because we had a really good idea for costumes to fit the “wildly inappropriate” theme but also my wife spent a long time on Lucy’s piggy costume.
I didn’t want to go with anything too gross or out there to fit the theme. We were talking about it and then one day it popped into my head: Lucy can be a pig, I can be a butcher and Em can be a chef. She got a pattern for the pig costume and we got to thinking about ours. We ordered a few aprons as well as a chef coat for Em. We also came across an apple teether at Baby’s R Us that we just could not pass up. As an added bonus and probably the impetus for my costume eureka moment, our hostess for the party absolutely loves pigs. She doesn’t eat bacon and has pigs of all kinds all over her house. For knives, we each cut some shapes out of cardboard and used electrical and duct tape for color. I designed a couple logos on the computer and my wife put them on her coat and my apron. The apron also got a smattering of red and brown water color paint to give it that old blood look. The party itself was a lot of fun and, even though most people didn’t wind up dressing up, I think we would have had the best costumes anyway. Plus, just look how cute the kid looks!
Even given the freak snow storm and power outage we went through over the weekend, Halloween could not be contained! Trick or treaters started at around sundown on Monday. We had gotten all our candy prepared and started passing out without any problems. I do believe that the cold weather (we still had snow on the grass, but our walkways were clear) might have kept some people inside it’s just as possible that people came to our condo complex because their towns were out of power. There’s something like 20 buildings each with 10-20 units, so it’s a great place to go if you want to maximize your candy collection.
Anyway, Lucy seemed to get into the spirit. We put her in her top secret Halloween party costume and took a few pictures, but her main suit of clothes for the evening was the above glow-in-the-dark skeleton onesie that was super cute if not very glow-y. My wife sat with her on the steps as I stood at the door and passed out candy. Since we’re on the second floor, it’s actually easier to just hang out on the landing instead of running up and down, though I could probably use the exercise.
She was a big hit with the parents and kids and I thinks he liked watching all the colorful costumes go by. The parade of kids stopped just before 8PM which was great because we wanted to see what the deal was with the Slutty Pumpkin on How I Met Your Mother. All in all, it was a great evening, Lucy seemed to have a good time and then conked out. How was your Halloween?
I fully intended for today’s post to be about Lucy’s first Halloween party, but nature had other plans. See way, way back–before the baby was even born, I think–my wife and I were talking to my parents about how we were bummed we’d miss our friends’ annual Halloween party because of the baby (or at least not stay as long). For a different kind of event, we would ask friends to babysit, but all our friends would be at the party or doing their own thing, so we’d probably just stop in with the kid, have a drink or two and bounce when she got tired. My parents immediately offered to make the 9 hour drive from Toledo to New York to watch little Lu, so we figured we were all set.
We even came up with a pretty great family costume idea for the party’s “wildly inappropriate” theme. My wife worked on the baby’s costume and we each figured out our own looks that we got ready towards the end of last week. On Friday afternoon, my parents came in, but by then we started hearing about an unexpected event for the end of October: a snow storm. I usually don’t take things like this too seriously as the meteorologists/stations around here tend to blow things way out of proportion, but considering how early in the year this one was, I had a feeling it was going to be as bad as they were saying (which was 4-6 inches during Saturday with an accumulation of 10-12 over night). There was also the threat of power outages and fallen trees because they all still had so many leaves. As the snow or ice fell, the leaves would freeze and add a ton of weight to the branches, making them crack.
So, while my parents were out running an errand before coming over on Saturday and the snow seemed to get heavier and bigger every time I looked at the window, I figured it would be a good time to get some pizza, a few things out of storage and gas in my wife’s car. It wasn’t too harrowing, but I will say that people in this area have a tendency to become even worse drivers when the weather turns. I know it’s a cliche to complain about the drivers of any place you’re not from, but I consider myself a pretty good driver–one used to the snow thanks to living in Ohio and learning how to drive from my dad–and most other drivers, regardless of origin, don’t meet my expectations.
I didn’t have any problems while out and neither did my folks, but after we were all back at our place and full of delicious pizza, we got word that the party was cancelled because one of the hosts got called into work. It wasn’t looking too good by that point anyway, so we weren’t surprised. We were a little more surprised at around 5:00PM when the power flickered and then went out. We’re not unaccustomed to losing power here–our record was about 72 hours a few winters back–but this was the first extended period of time where it happened and we had the baby.Thankfully, since we’ve got a healthy supply of candles, flashlights and warm baby clothes, she didn’t seem to notice. Because we have a gas stove, we were able to still cook, which was good because I had bought a lot of ingredients for a soup I’ll write about over on Monkeying Around The Kitchen. After dinner and some more conversation, my parents took off for home–they’ve started driving through the night to get home at a decent time on Sundays lately–and we did our best to entertain ourselves, but were all pretty tired and wound up going to bed early.
Sunday morning we didn’t have any plans, so I got up and dug our cars out of the snow. It was odd because the sun was out and the snow was already melting off the trees–or what was left of them–so the snow and cold weren’t much of a threat, but we were still powerless. My wife bundled up the baby and we went for a drive. We had talked to a neighbor who suggested we head in one direction so we did. It was hard to tell who had power and who didn’t, but after about an hour of driving we wound up in nearby Washingtonville at a breakfast place that was pretty swamped with people who looked like they’d all spent the night without power. On the way home we heard on the radio that half of the people serviced by our power company were without power, making it one of the three worst outages of all time.Since we live in a pretty big condo/apartment/town house complex and, I believe, are on a fairly large grid, I was hoping we’d get it back on during the day. I admit that a big part of that was because I wanted to see the Steelers/Patriots game. That’s always an interesting one in our house because I’m a Steelers fan and my wife likes the Pats. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, though my dad did keep me up to date via text messages (our phones weren’t working great, but would occasionally send and receive texts).
However, just around 8:20PM or so, things kicked back on! I had given up hope for the night and figured I’d spend the rest of the evening hanging out with the wife and reading Joe Hill’s ultra creepy Heart-Shaped Box, but the return of power meant we could watch part of The Amazing Race and the premiere of The Next Iron Chef, which was pretty awesome. The funniest thing about the whole experience was how used to routine I’ve become. Even if I walked into the bathroom and used the touch light to see what I was doing, I would still automatically put my hand to the light switch as I left the room. My wife did the same thing. I even tried putting a credit card application into the shredder while the room was lit by candlelight.Luckily, Lucy’s not used to things like that for the most part. She seemed a little confused why we were in the dark and maybe just a little out of sorts about the whole thing, but since she was warm and fed, I think it wasn’t so bad for her overall. Besides, the snow gave us a chance to try out Lu’s snow suit and introduce her to the white cold stuff. She seemed to like it, especially eating it, but got sick of having a cold butt after a while. Can’t blame her for that, no one likes a cold butt.