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Sunday, October 31, 2004

All Hallow's Eve

So this is Halloween night. As I feared, our decorations haven't worked quite right. It just isn't dark enough. Next year I'm obviously going to have to put some effort into designing scary porch decorations that aren't hindered by the light. That, or I'm going to have to figure out a way to extinguish a 20 foot tall street light.... I'll put up some pics of the revised decorations after our test run last night.

Update: Our final total on trick-or-treaters was around 23. Way down from last year, I think, but it was raining pretty good most of the evening.

This isn't just All Hallow's Eve, though. This is also NaNoWriMo Eve. Yes, I'm going to subject myself to it again. 1670 words a day or so for 30 straight days. (Yes, I am still going to finish the story I started last year, for those who are wondering.) Unlike last year, though, I still don't have a clue what I'm going to write. Actually, I've got two ideas, but neither is very good, neither could be stretched to 50k words, and neither is a story I'm particularly excited about spending 30 days with. I'll keep everyone posted, though.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

28 going on 29

Getting ready for my 29th birthday on Wednesday. I don't know what (if anything) we'll do to celebrate, but I do know that the clock is ticking on Heather Marie's present-shopping time! ;-)

We spent the afternoon decorating our porch for Halloween, trying to make it dark and creepy. I'm not sure if it's going to work out the way we wanted, though, since the street light on the corner of our yard pretty much precludes any serious creepiness. We're making a valiant effort this year, with black plastic, spooky sound effects, black lights, and other decorations, but I'm afraid the light is going to ruin it. We'll see. I think next year we may have to incorporate the light somehow, but we were also hamstrung this year by uncertainty about whether kids would be coming Saturday or Sunday night. I'll post pictures soon.

I've pretty much avoided talk of politics here, which is a little surprising to lots of people who know me, but I just had to mention this: I do have to wonder how it must feel to be a fanatically anti-Bush liberal and to suddenly find yourself in agreement with Osama Bin Laden. I'm pretty sure I'd be sick.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Five days and counting....

Just five for days until the election, and thank God! I'm normally pretty into following politics, but I'm just sick of it this year. This campaign has essentially been going non-stop since Wednesday, November 8, 2000, and I think that's quite enough. Let's just get it the hell over with already.

There are tons of organizations encouraging people to vote. "It's your right to vote, you have an obligation to vote, yadda yadda, blah blah blah...." It's true -- you do have a right to vote, as does everyone else. There is, however, absolutely no obligation to vote. What we have an obligation to do is become (and remain) informed, involved citizens.

So, I'm bucking the trend. If you don't know and/or don't care, do not vote. Yup, I'm telling you not to exercise your right to vote if you haven't taken the time to become at least moderately educated about the issues and people at stake. To vote in complete ignorance would be, in my opinion, more irresponsible than not voting at all.

I don't care who or what you vote for, but do it because you understand the vote you're casting, not just because some celebrity or slick movie told you to.

I think I've abused italics quite enough for one evening....

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Feels like I'm Fallin'

Or Autumning. Gotta get the yard and porch decorations done for the trick-or-treaters. I'm not sure when to expect them, though: Saturday the 30th or Sunday the 31st? I saw an article the other day that lots of people are upset that Halloween falls on a Sunday this year because "Sunday is a day to celebrate Christ, not celebrate the Devil!" you think the other six days are ok for celebrating evil? Riiiiight....

Someone also pointed out that I didn't really post a review of the Haunted Castle, so here goes.

Overall, it's a fun and enjoyable Halloween carnival, provided you like scary (but fun) stuff. Heather Marie doesn't, and she didn't get a big kick out of it, but she was a good sport. Our first event was Casa Morte, one of two indoor haunted houses located inside the castle. Pretty good overall. Mostly the typical jump-out-and-scream stuff, but it did include some great uses of camouflage and one ingenius false-door room. This was the only really scary thing Heather Marie subjected herself to.

Next we tried the Ultimate Maze. Although not intended to be particularly scary, poor H-M was still frazzled from Casa Morte and didn't enjoy the maze. This is a year-round attraction that's entered through a fun-house style spinning barrel. Once inside, the bulk of the maze is made up of black plastic mesh separating paths and reinforcing tree and bush barriers. Part of the problem at night was definitely seeing where the "walls" were.

Heather Marie went shopping while the rest of us went to the Trail of Blood. This outdoor haunted house was well away from the main castle and reached by a short hayride. It included some fairly creepy wanderings in darkened woods and some very scary, creative uses of light and shadows to conceal scares. The only thing that kept it from being potentially really terrifying was the fact that it was pretty crowded at the time. The guy with the chainsaw isn't nearly as scary when you've seen him jump out at the 15 people in line in front of you.

Back to the castle for Domus Horrificus, the other indoor haunted house. Although it was supposedly scarier than Casa Morte, we didn't find it that way. Still very well-done, though. It included more good use of camouflage and some pretty good scares. Our group accidentally took a wrong turn that led backstage until we were gently redirected by a very nice evil wizard with a blood-covered head. Heh.

The last event was the Haunted Hayride. This was a fun, family-oriented right, that even Heather Marie enjoyed. More than any other, though, it missed the potential for some real chills. During one part of the drive through an empty field, the narrator talked about how Indians inhabited the area and how Vikings supposedly visited. Having a few phantom Indians and Vikings rise silently up out of the grass next to the road would've been a great touch.

All in all, it was a fun time and worth the drive and money. Our only real complaint was the lack of non-scary things. Their annual renaissance faire has lots of shopping and food vendors, but most of these were missing from the Haunted Castle, which was disappointing and frustrating for Heather Marie. Overall, though, it was a lot of fun, and may merit a return trip next year.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Halloween Prep

I love autumn, so this time of year I find myself really looking forward to Halloween. I'm already planning some great spooky stuff for our front porch. Should be a lot of fun.

Lance was in town this weekend to see one of our college friends get married in Fort Smith. The groom's family is large and Catholic, while most of the bride's friends and family are Protestant. About 5 minutes into the ceremony it became obvious who the Protestants were, because we were the ones who didn't know when to stand, kneel, and sing. Wonderful wedding, though, and a fun reception afterward.