Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wiggity Wiggity What!

Tonight I worked at my happy place, Party Papers, for a few hours.  I did something that I don't normally do while I am on the clock, mostly because we aren't suppose to, I tried on a wig!  A few weeks ago we got in this line of Anime wigs that some of my co-workers ordered while they were at the costume convention in Houston in January.  I don't know anything about Anime.  I know that it is Japanese and looks like it would be loud.  But there are some hardcore lovers of it out there and cosplayers that DO NOT mess around when it comes to their costumes, so we wanted to be a retailer that they could come to for authenticity and be able to take pride in the costumes they create with our products.  Wigs, however, I do have an appreciation for.  I love wigs. I have several that I wear on an occasion whenever I feel I can get away with wearing a wig (mostly Halloween, maybe the Renaissances Festival, I did rock a pink one to a New Year's Eve celebration a few years ago.) But a good wig is an expensive wig, so it's not like I have an outlandish collection.  The wig I tried on tonight was so very beautiful.  Here is a pic: (full disclosure, I LOOK TERRIBLE!  So try not to look at my face, look at the wig)

 Would you look at those curls!  Now, I am not sure why this is considered an Anime wig.  I assume this hairstyle is popular in that genre.  This is the only Anime wig that we sell that doesn't have something kind of strange about it.  Here is the display at our shop of the entire line:

When I first came in to work after this display was set-up I spent maybe a good two minutes working on the dark red wig in the back left corner.  You can't see it in the picture but in the bangs there is a single piece of hair that flips up.  It looks like a mistake, I assumed it was, than my co-worker Megan came by me and was like, "Yea, it's suppose to me like that."  Say whaaaa?

Aside from the Goldilocks wig, my other favorite is this one:

A friend of mine pointed out that is was very Sailor Moon-esque.  That's Anime, right?  Not only are these wigs beautiful, they are different from some of the other ones we sell because they are soft.  Some wigs tend to be a bit course, but these aren't.   

Now, let's get back to why I look so terrible as a blonde.  How is that possible?  My mother is a blonde...

(Fun fact, this photo was taken at my step-son's school Halloween party.  Mom isn't looking at the camera because she is about to yell at some kids goofing around in the corner.)   

But clearly I look more like my father....

Why is the only picture I could find of my Dad that illustrates his red hair from the '70's?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Halloween Honey Neighborhood Watch

About a month ago a neighbor of mine committed suicide.  She lived alone and was very depressed and it was very unfortunate circumstances.  Her family only got in to town this past Friday to take care of her home since she lived alone with her cat.  Since Friday several people have been in and out of her house clearing it out and cleaning it.  Yesterday they had a large Dumpster delivered to throw the last of her paperwork, books and general trash away.   Her family had been taking all of her things worth keeping such as furniture and her cute as hell Mini Cooper, but clearly they had taken anything worth keeping themselves and only put actual trash in the trash receptacle.  Her family left her house about seven o'clock last night and left the full Dumpster out in her driveway overnight.

I woke up this morning at around 7am and did what I do every morning, open my front door.  I don't have a ton of windows in my living room so I like the extra light I get in from leaving the front door open with the screen door letting light and fresh air in.  I went into the kitchen and made my coffee and Nutella toast, generally going about my morning business until I peeked out the front door again, and saw three people rooting around in the Dumpster in the driveway.  Oh, hell naw.

It was the other neighbor, some punk in his early twenties who dresses like an Eminem knock-off, one of his friends dressed in all black and some chick in a sweatshirt and pajama pants.  My mouth dropped.  What a bunch of poachers!  This kid and his equally thuggish brother have been a point of contention for me before since I have had to call the cops on behalf of someone who claimed to be dowsed with hot water by these guys before and I watched him be escorted out of his house not three months ago by a few of Anoka's finest.  I was irate.

About a half hour later, my brother-in-law Derek showed up with my niece who I do daycare for.  "Did you see that shit?!"  I ask him as he walks in.  "Yeah, you're neighbor next door is peering out her window too watching them."  I bitched to Derek how annoyed I was and how disrespectful it was for these guys to be opening carefully tied trash bags and digging through them, letting a bunch of papers fly through the neighborhood.  He agreed that is was pretty despicable and left for work.  I then texted my sister and relayed to her what I was seeing.  "Call the cops.  I do it all the time."  She told me.  A few minutes past and the jammie clad chick decided to get out of the Dumpster and go sit in their idling car.  Finally, I marched over to my next door neighbor, making sure these losers saw me, and knocked on her door.  "You seeing this shit?!"  I asked her (in not so many words...) she said that the same group was doing it last night and she and her husband called the police on them.  One of the guys even had a light on his hat.  "Like a miner?"  I asked.  Apparently so.  What the hell did these guys think they were going to find?  Well that cinched it for me.  I marched back to my house and rang up the 'ol non-emergency number for the Anoka Police Department.

I told the operator what was going on, she also took my name, address and phone number and asked me if they were still in the Dumpster.  "Yes!"  I said, "They've been in there for the last hour and a half!"  Not ten minutes later a black and white comes into my neighborhood, right as the black-clad Dumpster diver was examining what looked like a broken foot massager, you know, trash!  The other guy had jumped out of the Dumpster at this point and was walking around the Dumpster itself.  The second he saw the cop car he disappeared into his own house.  Chicken shit.


Here's the best part.  Okay, picture this:  In my house was me, my daughter, my step-son (who was glued to this whole debacle while getting ready for school) my niece and my dog.  Staring out my screen door with no shame was me, my daughter, my step-son, my niece and my dog.  All we were missing was the popcorn.  The cops pull up and catch the guy in black in the Dumpster.  The cop gets out of his car and begins to motion for the guy to get out of the Dumpster.  I couldn't hear what was being said but the guy in the Dumpster was clearly arguing with the cop, shrugging his shoulders and what not.  He finally climbs out, and the cop does not miss a beat, cuffing the guy and throwing him in to the back of the squad car.  It was awesome.  This forces the jammie girl to get out of the car and walk over to the police officer and attempt to argue some sort of case on behalf of her friend.  At this point, unfortunately, I had to leave to bring my step-son to school, but damn!  Was that exciting!  I am a stay-at-home mom....I don't get much excitement in my life, especially during the week.

By the time me and the girls got back from dropping my step-son off at school the cop was gone, but, hey, don't be such gross poachers!

Throughout the day I have spoken to the family of the woman who died and relayed to them how the cops were called and why.  Her brother was not pleased.  His biggest concern was documents that contained her social security and other confidential information was taken and possibly strewn about the neighborhood.  He then told me that they were all done clearing out her house and that nothing was left in there and absolutely no one should be going over to her house, "If you see anyone please don't hesitate to call the cops."  Oh, don't worry, I won't.

Here's the thing.  I don't live in a fancy neighborhood and the people who live here are not rich by any stretch of the imagination.  But that doesn't mean you are allowed to call up your criminal friends to take advantage of a situation that presents itself and that you may somehow benefit from.  That is disgusting disgraceful behavior.  Have a little respect, assholes.  And don't think you can do something illegal at 8 o'clock in the damn morning in the sunlight and think people are just going to allow you to go about your shady business.  Tsk.      

Monday, March 26, 2012

Don't Use a Ouiji Board To Talk To The Dead

I did a quick blog early today about mediums, but I do want to delve into the topic of talking to the dead a little more.

I have always believed that certain people have the ability to speak to the dead.  Doing it for gain or profit is a whole 'nother ballgame however.  Personally, I am a big believer in "if you're good at something, never do it for free." Or, the kinder way of putting it, "Find something you love and you never work a day in your life."  But if you are blessed with the ability to speak with the dead, tread carefully.  There is nothing wrong with charging for your services, but also realize that, like having radioactive spider powers, with great power comes great responsibility.  And don't for a second get caught faking it.  Talk about bad karma.  We all learned what happened with the Fox sisters  and it's still up in the air if they were legit or not.  If you do posses this gift, use it for good only!  That's good advice to follow no matter what gifts you posses. 

Aside from the "professional" mediums, those who do it for profit and claim to truly have the gift, there are those of us who like to tinker with tools to help us communicate with the dead.  The most popular tool being the Ouiji Board.

My whole life I have been told by my Mother that Ouiji boards are pure evil ( my Mom thinks lots of things are pure evil though.  She was mad when I got the Ask Zandar game for Christmas one year because she thought it was too similar to a Ouiji board and "could open doors that can't be closed again.")  One could argue that the Ouiji board is sold in the Toy aisle of Target and is distributed by Hasbro, who also distributes games such as Candy Land, Battleship and Scrabble.  Games that are harmless enough.  But the Ouiji board wasn't always owned by a big 'ol corporation hellbent on promoting family togetherness with it's Family Game Night marketing angle.

The Ouiji board was introduced in July of 1890 as a benign parlor game unrelated to the occult until World War I, when Spiritualist Pearl Curran began using it during reading.

Shortly after this many mainstream religions and a few occultists spoke out against Ouiji board use for various reasons.   

My Mother taught me that Ouiji boards were basically tools of the devil, and most of its critics agree.  The reasons it is a demonic tool is because the people who are using the Ouiji board are usually inviting ANYBODY to communicate with them, the most eager among those on the other side being demons.  Even if you are trying to contact a specific person, according to my mom, a demon or the Devil can disguise themselves as this person you are trying to contact and cause all kinds of problems.

Another point the Ouiji board's detractors bring up is that it is only working because subconsciously, the people using it are making it work.  Much like the Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board game that was a staple of many-a sleepover.  So you are either fooling yourself using a Ouiji board or you are inviting demons to chat with you.

My Mom has this so ingrained in my head that Ouiji boards are evil I don't even like looking at them at the store.  In fact, I have another internet window open where I Googled "Ouiji board" and it's making me a little anxious.

Fun story, my Mom was at an antique shop once and they had in the corner for sale an unboxed Ouiji board.  She immediately left the shop, "It was just sitting there, for any fool to buy!" 

Even though the Ouiji boards do freak me out a little, I am hard-pressed to believe that they even work.  When I was in high school we did an experiment where we tied something to a piece of string and held the string between our thumb and forefinger and tried to move the object attached to the string in a certain direction with our minds.  I was beyond shocked when I was able to to this, my ring going left to right!  Then right to left!  Look!  I'm making it go in a circle!  Then the teacher burst my bubble and explained to us that the tiny muscles in our thumb and forefinger were receiving the messages our brain was sending out in which direction to move the string....so it wasn't actually moving on it's own....I tend to believe the same thing is at play when dealing with a Ouiji board.  Seriously, when is the last time you went to a medium and she pulled out the Ouiji board? 

I truly believe that there are people who can communicate with the dead, and they usually don't need a board game to do it.  Personally, I have never experienced this.  And thank God for that because I don't know if I would be able to handle it.  I have only lost one person that was truly close to me personally and that was my Grandpa nearly 21 years ago, and he's never tried to come in contact with me directly.  I say directly because I do have a few stories about him.

Grandpa had a brain tumor for a year.  He deteriorated fast, from what I can remember, and had a hard time remembering all of us.  When he was healthy he was well-loved by his whole family, including his sons-in-law, my Dad and my uncle John.  He died on a Wednesday morning, the middle of the week, in September.  That morning, both my Dad's and my uncle John's alarm clocks failed to go off.  Now, if that's not a heads-up, I don't know what is.

Also, my sister and I wear our Grandparent's 25th wedding anniversary rings (no, Grandma's not dead, but she is well prepared for it.  Fun game to play at Grandma's house, find something that looks like a keepsake, turn it over and underneath it you will find a piece of tape with either mine, my sister's, or my cousin's name on it!)  One night, I was preparing to go out for St. Patrick's Day with my sister several years ago.  I took off my Grandpa's ring for whatever reason, walked away from it to do other tasks and go to put it on before we left and not be able to find it.  I panicked, tearing apart the apartment my sister and I shared looking for it.  I even asked my Grandpa to please, please help me find it.  I had no luck by the time we had to leave  but my sister reassured me it was in the apartment somewhere.  We went out, had a good time and when we got back home, there sat Grandpa's ring, right in the center of the vanity, where it would have been staring me in the face otherwise.  Thanks Grandpa!  I ask him to find me things, but only if they are really, really important.  I try not to waste his generosity on stupid crap like my car keys or chapstick, because I lose both those things on a daily basis and I get annoyed when I ask myself where I put them. 

Last year we finished our basement, and my husband's uncle had helped us work on it using a hammer of his that was very special to him, a gift from a relative.  Well, the hammer disappeared.  My husband, Jim, asked me to ask Grandpa.  I felt this was important enough to ask him.  I asked, and was drawn to our garage.  The hammer was not in the garage.  Meanwhile Jim was tearing apart the entire house looking for this hammer and I kept going out in to the garage for some reason.  It finally dawned on us to ask my brother-in-law, who was also helping with the basement, if he had seen it.  Lo and behold he accidentally took it home with him.  Now, one might say I am reading in to this or creating something out of nothing, but I knew that hammer was not physically IN our house and that is why I kept going out to the garage.  Grandpa was trying to tell me that it wasn't even in our house.  Shuddup.  I like to think that's the case.

Do I try to communicate with my Grandpa outside of asking for his help once and a while?  No.  I like to think Grandpa is busy in heaven having fun and I don't want to bother him.  Not that I would be a bother to him, but ya know.

I have lost other family members, and my husband has lost family members that I did grow kind of close to during our marriage, but I consider myself lucky for not having lost that many people in my life so far.  Knock on all the wood ever made.

I stated in my earlier blog that I would like to go see a psychic-medium just for kicks.  I don't need any kind of validation that my Grandpa helps me out on occasion because I believe in my heart that it's true.  I asked my Mom if she would ever reach out to a medium of any kind to speak to anyone who has passed on and she said she wouldn't.  Now, if I were in my Mom's shoes, I may want to.  Her and Grandpa were very close, and for various personal reasons regarding his widow and whatnot, if I were her, I would be very interested in what Grandpa has to say.  But, that's cool.  To each there own.

I would love to know how the medium experience works.  Do you go in to some sort of trance?  Do these people play out in front of you like watching a movie?  Or are you more interactive with them?  I have heard that everyone has these abilities it's just a matter of knowing how to tap in to them.  How do you do it?  Not that I would want to personally, it would probably freak me out, but still...maybe I'd like to know.  I am not so much interested in the "psychic" aspect of it, the less I know about the future the better, I figure, but I want to know how does the people of our past see us now?  What do they see now?  But I guess that's asking the ultimate question about the future, isn't it?  What's in store for us after we die?

Maybe that is why I am drawn yet scared of all the ghost hunting shows on TV, and why I like just the idea of ghosts, to know that the soul lives on after your physical body peters out (even though most ghosts seem pretty troubled....)  And maybe that's why I liked Long Island Medium so much yesterday.  According to her, the afterlife is a pretty chill place to be.  Those who truly did cross over to the other side are at peace and helping their scatterbrained granddaughters find things.  

  

  
 

Medium Musings

Yesterday afternoon after all my Sunday chores (clean the house, walk the dog, finishing this Say Yes To The Dress marathon...) I got sucked into the marathon of Long Island Medium.  I hadn't ever seen the show since I usually only watch wedding dress related programming on TLC.  I kept the channel on though out of curiosity, and the accent.  I ended up really like the show and the medium, Theresa Caputo.  She's loud, likeable, friendly and seemed incredibly legit.  I am full aware that a TV show can benefit from editing to make things look however the producers want them to look, but I really hope she's legit, if not she's playing a horrible trick on some vulnerable people, but I doubt it.  I may have been suckered in by her personality or attitude, but I really, really liked her!  I cried more than once watching it, especially when Theresa was doing a group reading and got a read on a woman whose infant daughter died at 19 days old.  The daughter spoke to the mother through Theresa and told her that she acknowledges all the angel statues and figurines the mother now collects is in memory of her.  Like I said, if she's not the real deal, she is doing something truly terrible to some people.

Personally, I've always been a little hesitate about going to a psychic medium or anything like that.  In fact, at Party Papers one of the women I work with is a psychic medium (you can even hire her for parties!) but thankfully, if she ever got a "read" on me, she never told me.  I guess I am just afraid to get bad news.  Maybe she senses this and just decides not to tell me when she picks something up....I guess I don't know how all this medium stuff works.     

My mother went to see a very well-known psychic medium in Minnesota many years ago, the session was recorded and I remember her listening to it a few times behind closed doors, but beyond that she never told me what the psychic had to say to her.

My interest in seeing a psychic medium has been ignited in these last few years.  I no longer fear "bad news" as it were.  I think it would be kind of interesting, now that I have a daughter, to see what is in store for her and I.

Speaking of my daughter, a group of us went on the Ghosts of Anoka tour this past summer before I was a docent and during the first stop my daughter Violet, who was 10 months at the time, was doing her babbling thing.  The docent leading our tour informed me that young children who chatter during the tour are usually communicating with the spirits that go on the tour with us.  Thanks, lady.

Later, my friend Kristi informed me she noticed Violet waving at no one a few times throughout the tour.  Does this bother me?  Not really.  Do I believe it?  Meh....I've heard that children are more receptive to the "spirit world" than adults, but Violet talks to herself all the time so either my house is chalk full of spirits or she's just a chatterbox in the making.  However, last March my husband's aunt Cheryl passed away after a long battle with cancer.  She was a very talented artist and one of the last projects she did was a pencil drawing on me and Violet which now hangs in our upstairs TV room. A month or two after Cheryl past (Violet would have been about six months at the time) I was holding Violet and she was facing the drawing, and started laughing and laughing, even though I wasn't doing anything to make her laugh and she couldn't see my face (my face is very hysterical) I believe that was a visit from Cheryl for Violet only.

If Violet keeps up these kinds of things would I encourage it?  Hell yeah I would!  That's cool! 

Now, I am contemplating getting a group of friends and family together for a group reading with a psychic medium here in Minnesota, but holy guac, it's expensive.  Plus, knowing my friends and family we'd all be tipsy on wine before the poor lady even showed up.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Grandma Puts The Fun In Funeral

My Grandpa died in 1991 at the age of sixty-three after a year long battle with a brain tumor.  He left behind my Grandmother who was only fifty-seven.  At the time my Grandpa's headstone was made, my Grandma decided to have her name put on the headstone too, and secured the plot next to his in the cemetery.

My Grandma came over to my house this morning.  She is now seventy-eight years old and in fairly decent health.  She told me that yesterday she and her sister went and paid and planned for their funerals.  I wasn't that surprised.  My Grandma loves a good funeral.  She will go to the most distant relative's funeral just to check it out.  I am not sure if this funeral appreciation started after my Grandpa had died or if she always enjoyed going to a funeral, but she wouldn't miss one for the world.  It's not that she enjoys the celebration of life or the together-ness of family and friends, she likes to critique things like how "good" the dead body looks (a good friend of hers passed away a few years ago and my Mother asked me to go to the funeral with her.  My Grandma greeted us at the door and told us to come look at the body, "She looks good!"  She declared.  "No she doesn't.  She's dead."  My Mother responded flatly) or what is being served at the funeral, or how much pizazz the priest or officiator but in to his presentation.  My Grandma has literally been staring her own mortality in the face for the last twenty-one years every time she goes to visit my Grandpa's grave and since she loves other people's funerals so much why wouldn't she want to take the reigns of her own and plan it while she's still alive and kicking?  

Grandma told me how much she spent (hot damn, funerals are expensive!) How much her casket cost and what materials it's made out of.  She also told me the order things would be conducted at her service (bury her, then eat.) and to get that hearse back to the funeral home ASAP since those things ain't cheap!  I had to give her credit for taking care of this before she actually does die since the last thing my mom and aunt want to be doing after their mother dies is humming and hawing over what kind of box she should be buried in (they'll be too busy going through all her shit.  My Grandma is a low-level hoarder. Neat and tidy, no dead cats, but TONS of random crap everywhere.)  Grandma is also a full-bloodied German, and we Germans love nothing more than efficiency so I think that also played apart in this.

Now my question is this.  Is feeding people at a funeral a thing?  I've been to funerals where there are impressive spreads and funerals where there is no food.  Why would you want to eat at a funeral?  Maybe bottles of water and a few treats, but like steam-trays full of things?  At my Grandpa's funeral there was a meal.  It was in the basement of the church her worked at and where the service was held.  But it's not like a wedding.  There isn't a dance that follows.  I think it's strange.

It doesn't make me sad that Grandma planned her funeral.  It's not out of character for her and she's probably going to live forever anyways.

My Mother also has funeral plans.  Nothing is actually paid for, but her wishes are very specific.  An invite-only funeral ("If they don't know me well enough to know that I'm dead I don't want them there.") no hymns, "don't feed anyone" and "I don't care what you do with my body."  Cori and I have decided a Viking Funeral would be in order for her.  Light her on fire and send her down the Mississippi.  




Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Door To Nowhere

I was asked to collaborate with a friend on an exciting new project today so my mind is all a-flutter!  But, I did want to share something a little weird with all of you.  The mysterious Door To Nowhere.  Doors To Nowhere are no big deal if you are in the Winchester Mansion or if you are on some sort of strange Alice in Wonderland type acid trip, and are probably quite prevalent in older towns where construction is happening frequently, like this one! 

This odd Door To Nowhere hangs out in Historic Downtown Anoka on Second Avenue across from the most delicious Two Scoops Ice Cream Shop.  I used to work in this particular building in 2001 when it was a law firm (I was the 17-year-old receptionist!) Both the upstairs and downstairs of this building was utilized, and I know we had offices that far back in the building, but I don't ever remember seeing the (obviously, hopefully....) sealed Door To Nowhere ever in my time there.  Clearly, someone still occupies that space though, with the lights and American flag.   

Here is a wide shot of the door to nowhere that I took while sitting in my car like I was Carmen San Diego or something.  I am not sure what these building used to be in years prior, but for as long as I can remember that music store and Cowboy Mel's Barber Shop has always occupied the space at street level.

Fun story!  If you look to the left at street level you will see a doorway.  That doorway has a very long staircase that leads to the upper story.  I fell down those stairs one day at work.  I tripped over my long skirt and clunky early 2000's shoes I was wearing and did a somersault and a half down the old staircase.  I slammed my head against the door at street level.  It was more embarrassing than painful.  After a few people ran to the top of the staircase, I waved away their concerns with my hand and stumbled to my car.  Even though I was a bit dizzy I drove to my mother's work, which is about half a mile from Second Ave.  I told her what happened, to which she said, "Why are you driving?!"  I was a teenager!  My decision-making abilities hadn't yet matured.  I went back to work (still driving...) and filled out an accident report, then left for the day (driving again, natch.  How else was I suppose to get home?)

For some reason I thought this Door To Nowhere thing would have some kind of fan base, or appreciation club at least, apparently not....Google Image Search and Tumblr both came up a bit disappointingly short on other pictures of Doors To Nowhere.

Along with my new, fun project (that is very much like this blog) I am also crafting and researching a blog for The Halloween Honey about communicating with the dead and mediums.  Hopefully, I will be finished with that blog by Friday, we will see.  In the meantime, anyone else have some creepy cool Doors To Nowhere to share?  Screw it, if there isn't already a Door To Nowhere Appreciation Club I'm going to start one myself! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bad Vampires

Vampires in pop culture have been hotly debated among nerds for years.  Which ones are the best which ones are the lamest, why Buffy The Vampire Slayer is the most awesome show ever (I am not a Buffy fan.  That's right, I said it, and I'll say it again.  It's smug.) Just by me declaring my disdain for Buffy has already negated any opinion I have on the topic to thousands of people (including my husband) when it comes to the Pop Culture Vampire Canon but I don't really care what you people think.  Tonight I'm not here to talk about the best, coolest most fierce vampires in pop culture.  I'm here to talk about the worst, because there is nothing I love more than a cheesy vampire.

May I first present to you Jasper Cullen:

Technically he is Jasper Hale, but man, is he terrible.  First of all, I want to say if you hate Twilight then it's not for you.  Plain and simple.  Twilight can be found in the Young Adult Fiction Section at your local Barnes and Noble, so if you are looking for great literary works to come out of that section, you are looking in the wrong place.  Don't get me wrong, there is some great YA, anything by Lois Lowry, Gary Paulson, The Hunger Games Trilogy, so on and so forth but Twilight is not good.  It is meant for the consumption of the young girls who will move on to read romance novels in a few years.  It happened to strike a nerve and co-opt an iconic character, the vampire, that has been long associated with outcasts and there is nothing less outcast-y than teenager girls at the mall.  That alone has pissed tons of people off and now they hate Twilight.  Which is whatever.  I'm not defending it, I only made it through two of the books (I have seen all the movies to date so far...for various reasons) but if you are, like, a 45-year-old dude who actively hates on Twilight than you need to get a grip.

The Jasper I am referring to is the Jasper of the Twilight movies since I don't really recall the Jasper from the books but I'm sure he's equally bad.  Jasper Cullen is played by slight actor Jackson Rathbone who has been in that one episode of Criminal Minds and nothing else of note.  In the first Twilight movie he played Jasper as a weirdo who didn't say much and stared too long at people.  It was very awkward, but that entire movie was pretty awkward.  The second movie has less to do with the Cullen family and more about dishcloth Bella Swan and her relationship with hot Native America werewolf Jacob.  At the beginning of the movie it is all Jasper's fault that Edward pulls away from Bella.  Since Jasper is a Nu Vampire he has a hard time falling in line with the family's "vegetarianism" and tries to attack Bella after she gets a paper cut apparently on a major artery because she bleeds all over the damn place.  I don't mean to gloss over the Jasper of the second movie, but the Jasper in the third Twilight movie is where he gets really good/terrible.

Like I said, I didn't read all the Twilight books so I don't know how this plays out in the book, but in the movie it's hilarious.  Apparently, Jasper was a Confederate Solider during the Civil War.  Only now remembering this particular background story Jackson Rathbone starts to play Jasper with a, wavering at best, Southern accent.  It is so distracting and out of place it makes the movie all the much better/worst.  There is also a flashback scene where human Jasper is attacked by a vampire during the war and everything about that scene is laughable.  From the in-and-out accent, to the costuming, to the "Is this a flashback?  What's happening?  Voice-over?  What?" *Sigh* ...The Twilight movies are....not good.


Next up, Dracula 2000:

 Between the years of 2003 and 2006 me and my sister Cori lived together.  We rented a cool apartment in a crusty neighborhood in Coon Rapids, MN.  In those three years we did are best to watch as many movies and TV shows we could.  We would go on kicks of movies with actors we thought were foxy  which brought us to the atrocity that is Dracula 2000.  We had a crush on Gerard Butler after we went and saw Phantom of the Opera and Netflix-ed just about everything he was in.  About ten minutes into Dracula 2000 Cori and I knew what kind of shitstorm we were in for.  A glorious one. 

First of all, Christopher Plummer is in it, so you think that it can't be all bad.  He was in the Thornbirds, after all.  But then you see that Vitamin C is in it....okay, well she was in the original Hairspray, and that's a great movie!  It still can't be all that bad.  Johnny Lee Miller, he's alright, Oman Epps, he's solid in some things he's in....wait a minutes, is that the chick from Star Trek?  Seven-Eight-Nine?  Oh, that main actress I've never seen in anything before.....hmmmm....you quickly start to lose faith in the cast.  But the cast isn't the problem.  They were all solid actors, I guess, for the material they were given.  Which is sub-par to say the least.  So, Drac is now hanging out in New Orleans, apparently with Lestat, since I don't think any vampire were occupying in New Orleans until Anne Rice had them move to town.  In New Orleans, Dracula is trying to find the granddaughter of his nemesis, legendary vampire hunter Van Helsing.  She is working at a record store (remember those?!) in New Orleans with her roomie Vitamin C, who quickly becomes one of Dracula's brides.  Poor Vitamin C.  There are lots of cheesy fights and convoluted plot points, but the best part is the end, the epic fight between Dracula and Granddaughter Van Helsing, you can see the cables attached to the actors.  Yes!  That's right!  Harness, cables and various other safety materials are visible throughout the entire scene.  Oh, man, is it ever a laugh.  I guess my beef isn't really with the vampire in Dracula 2000, even though he does where leather pants and calls a Monster Magnet video "Brilliant."  Oh, also, Dracula is Judas.  So there's that.


Stuart Townsend's Lestat:


 Say what you will about Tom Cruise, he did play a pretty decent Lestat.  Even Anne Rice warmed up to his portrayal after first bristling at the idea of having him play her legendary character in Interview with the Vampire.  So, poor Stu had big shoes to fill in Queen of the Damned.  To be fair, the path that the character of Lestat goes on would look kind of silly on film no matter who was playing him.  Anne Rice makes him a rock star.  A vampire rock star.  Yeah.

While Tom Cruise got to flounce around with a baby-faced Brad Pitt and engage in a little Hoyay (homoeroticism, yay!) Stuart Townsend had to lip-sync to the singing voice of Korn's Jonathan Davis and act like he was make the most brilliant music ever made and slither up against a half-naked Aaliyah as an ancient Egyptian Vampire Queen.  Yikes.  Next to Aaliyah, a beautiful singer who wasn't even 23 when she made this movie, anyone would look like a pasty Englishmen with very little muscle definition, which unfortunately for Stuart, that is what he is.  And again with the leather pants!  I wonder what would happen if Drac 2000 and Lestat where roomies?  They would fight over hair-care products and who use the last of the leather conditioner  Also, there is a funny scene where Lestat first emerges from his coffin after here the generic rock stylings of a band where he attempts to jam along with them on his violin.



Edward Cullen:

 Edward Cullen isn't just a bad vampire, he's a bad person.  Needy, controlling, self-loathing, possessive, stalkerish, abnormally large hair.  I think when Stephanie Meyer was crafting the Edward character she was trying to make him the dark, brooding anti-hero type that girls love to swoon over, and in the books, it was somewhat effective, but in the movies it was lost in translation.  Edward Cullen of the Twilight movies is not a very pleasant person.  He is something like 130 years old but forced to re-attend high school over and over again and where all his vampire brothers and sisters have vampire mates, he is in love, kinda, with a human.  Not so much "in love" with more like he wants to eat her alive.  But also "protective" of her.  Meaning he follows her and her girlfriends around just in case potential rapists show up.  Then he can run them over with his rich soccer mom car.  It's just a mess all together.  But I will say this, Robert Pattinson plays Edward if nothing but consistent.  Unlike his fellow castmate Jackson Rathbone, who seems to be improving Jasper from scene to scene, Rob plays Edward consistently douchey.  And don't get me started on that sparkling thing.



Lucky for us vampire fans, there are more good ones out there in the pop culture world than bad ones.  I can't think of a single poorly executed vampire character on True Blood, and even when I wanted to take Stephen Dorff's Deacon Frost from the first Blade movie to task, I really couldn't.  He does a nice job playing that character and it's a solid vampire character too! 

I can't imagine how difficult it may be to attempt a fresh take on such an iconic creature.  How do you make something that has such set rules in the minds of millions of people and make it something new and interesting?  Or do you just hold to the traditional archetype and try and make the best vampire character you can within those boundaries?  People are going to continue to create new vampire characters for years to come because people like vampires.  They're sexy and scary and can have long and complicated back stories.  But in these new attempts and fresh takes, there are going to be a few of them that well, suck.  (I'm so sorry for that.)

And I just want to add one thing quickly, can they live somewhere other than New Orleans? 

  

       
  





Monday, March 19, 2012

Meet Gigi

It is a dark and stormy night here in Anoka, MN.  Seriously, the lightning is absolutely nuts!  It makes me a little worried that we are having thunderstorms in March....maybe those Mayans were on to something.

But, December 21st is still 8 months away so let's enjoy the time we have left!  I want to introduce you to someone who has been around my whole life.  She is very unintentionally creepy.  She is Gigi.

Gigi is a doll, obviously.  My mother purchased her from a drugstore in central Minnesota after her grandmother (my great-grandmother) gave her some money to go and buy her newborn daughter (my sister) a present.  This was 1980.  Gigi is nearly 32-years old and my sister Cori still hold her dear to her heart.  Everyone else...not so much.  Especially her husband.  My brother-in-law, Derek (yes, of Interview With A Wiccan fame) hates Gigi with the passion of a thousand burning suns.  Even though he is some kind of wizard, he still is afraid of something that has eyes that close when you lay it down.  And I'm sure it doesn't help that Cori keeps her propped up in the closet in their spare bedroom like that, so whenever Derek is searching for something in that closet he opens the door and was greeted with a standing plastic doll with ever-staring eyes.   

Cori refuses to allow me to use Gigi for nefarious purposes, so I've never had to opportunity to prop her up on Cori and Derek's bed, or hide her under the covers for Derek to find whenever I am alone in their house tending to their dogs or something. 

But, Derek, and my husband Jim, are no better.  When my mother moved into her new house Jim and Derek were putting her extra things into the attic above her garage.  Those two jokers ran across a baby doll of my mother's from when she was a child (which would make the doll from the '60's) and a small doll-sized rocking chair.  Instead of stacking the doll and rocking chair in a sensible manner that would allow more of Mom's things to fit better, Jim and Derek put the doll, who shared a lot of Gigi's physical traits, in the chair, facing the attic door, so whoever decided to go up there would be greeted with a creepy sitting doll in a rocking chair.  I think that was still a secret/surprise until right now, because I texted my Mom for a picture of that doll and she texted back "What do you mean?"

Back to Gigi.  She is still clothed in a pair of feety-jams that belong to my sister when she was about that size, and they have held up quite well.  She had lived with Cori every where she has gone in life, which is pretty remarkable considering I don't know where the majority of my things are from when I was a kid.  Currently living with Cori and Derek in their home and now being introduced to her daughter (and my daughter, Cori's niece, who went straight for the eyes.)

I asked Derek for a comment on Gigi.  "She's creepy."  He said, "And always watching."

Cori said, "I'm the only one who loves her."







Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pin-Up Halloween

I may be recovering from my St. Patrick Day's shenanigans I partook in last night, but that doesn't mean I can't blog...from bed while watching TV (um, now that I realized Ralph Fiennes is in Wrath of the Titans I suddenly want to see it.)

Since my focus is already splintered between my laptop, the TV screen and a hangover I am going to keep the blog short and sweet.  And sexy!  Pin-up Halloween!

I am a big fan of the pin-up girl aesthetic.  They are revealing and sexy pictures of girls but they are silly pictures, almost accidental.  Like, "Whoops, my boob slipped out!"  They aren't the titillating pictures of today where all the women have their mouths hanging open or making that unfortunate duck face.  Speaking of duck face, and God love Jenna Jameson, but she is a a huge perpetrator of the duck face look, but have you ever seen the movie Zombie Strippers?  My sister bought it for my husband for Christmas a few years ago and we watched it one night and Jenna didn't have a shirt on the entire movie (like all her movies) it became so weird how you are no longer like "hey, that chick doesn't have a shirt on."  ...Modern day pin-up pictures are like that (unless they are done in the vintage style) like "Here are my boobies, but it's no big deal."  And believe me, I don't think boobies are a big deal, I've breast-fed in front of everyone, including my brother-in-law who ate Greek food while watching me like I was a TV show, but boobies for sexy purposes and not feeding purposes, should be a big deal.  You should be like "*Gasp* a booby!" and not like, "Oh well, another pair of ta-tas."  I just re-read this paragraph and I typed "boobies" a lot.  Boobies.

Okay, before this blog gets anymore off course and rambling (don't get me started on vaginas...) Here is my most favorite Halloween pin-up picture, which I have stolen and use it as my profile picture on a few social networking sites and the background for this blog:

   I tried to find out as much as I could about this photo, but the only thing I stumbled across was the names of the model, Nancy Grey.  I then Googled her name and absolutely nothing came up about her.  Which was kind of disappointing.  I was hoping to read all about Nancy Grey and how she did pin-up shoots when she was younger and went on the be some sort of rich heiress or something equally glamorous.

This is also a favorite:

 I love the shadow on the black cat on the fence.  That is a cool, classic camera trick.  I also love this model, she's a babe!  Dare I attempt the high waisted shorts look this summer?


 This is a very iconic Halloween pin up, I have even seen this image tattooed on people before.


  And here is Ms. Betty Grable getting a good scare on Halloween.  I love her shoes.  Why don't they make heels at that height anymore?  I can't walk in that platform stiletto shit. 

Oh, ya know, just bathing in the cauldron, like you do.  These is actually great because the old crone mask hanging up with all the rest of her witch accessories.

My favorite part of this is her cape, obviously, as the skeleton's smile.

If these pictures teach us anything it's that Halloween has always been a sexy lady's holiday.  Are there any great Halloween pin-up pictures I'm missing?  Let me know! Email me at halloweenhoney@yahoo.com Or   Find me on Twitter @1halloweenhoney! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Irish Actor Love From The Halloween Honey

I have been behind on my blogging ever since my laptop broke!  Yes it broke.  It fell off the back of a chair and the inside screen shattered, like my heart did when it hit the floor.  I was pretty bummed mostly because I had just gotten back from a friend who fixed it for me because it was having a different problem.  Ugh.  Luckily I should be getting a refurbished one on Sunday and back to regular blogging I will be!

In the meantime, I am using my husband's desktop and just wanted to wish everyone a Happy St. Patrick's Day!  I do not have a single drop of Irish blood in me, but I do love Irish people and I like to celebrate just about any holiday even if they don't apply to me.

I will be celebrating tonight in the Halloween Capital of the World, of course, Downtown Anoka.  Where the bars are plentiful! And the people of Anoka are really looking for any excuse to have a night of drinking.

I also watched the re-make of Fright Night last night and was reminded of the dreamy Irish actor Colin Farrell.  Oh, swoon.  He is a handsome man.  He also is in one of my Favorite Movies of All Time Ever, The New World.  In case you can't conjure up a mental image of Mr. Farrell allow me to assist:

 Look out for those eyebrows!

Much like in those If You Give a Mouse a Cookie books, Colin Farrell then reminded me of another one of my favorite Irish actors, Cillian Murphy:

 Most people recognize him as "that creepy guy in things."  Which he does quite well, but he's also played not-so-creepy guys in 28 Days Later, Intermission, and Inception just to name a few.

Then, I thought of the King of Irish Actors (known to Americans....) Liam Neeson!


I have a weird kind of crush on Liam Neeson due to mandatory repeated viewings of Schindler's List while I was in high school (so inappropriate.) But man, am I ever enjoy his second-wind as an oldish-man-out-for-revenge action star!  Love it!

Who are some great Irish actors I'm leaving out?   I know I am leaving out the wonderful Brenden Gleeson, he's great in everything he's in.  Also, Gabriel Byrne for The Usual Suspects alone.  And why is it that I can't think of any Irish actresses off the top o' my head?  Hmmm...

Well I hope everyone has a fun and safe St. Patrick's Day no matter what you are doing!  And if you plan to be imbibing in a little alcohol DON'T DRIVE!  BE SAFE!

Happy St. Patty's Day!  



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Witch House

It was 74 degrees in Minnesota today!  74 degrees!  I spent the majority of my day outdoors with my daughter, step-son, niece and husband and it was glorious!  Here is picture of my step-son Quinn on his longboard on our lovely walk in the park by the river today:

He is on spring break this week, we don't just pull him out of school willy-nilly.  Well, sometimes we do.

But after a long day outside it's always so nice to come home to my lovely home.  We have all the windows and front door open and we are getting such a beautiful breeze after being cooped up all winter.  I was going to say that is was a long winter but it just wasn't.  It wasn't all that cold and it snowed, but not as much as usual.  It was a very mild winter, but it's hard to escape that "cooped up" feeling that come with the winter months.

Luckily, in my house, it's October all the time!  I am very, very slowing re-decorating my living room (or, decorating my living room since we've been in our house two years and we still have blank walls here and there) without my husband noticing in a very witch-y theme.  I started out slowly...

Leaving out decidedly Halloween-ish knick-knacks on the bookshelf all year round.  Maybe they just don't get put away with the rest of the decorations...

Then my Mother-In-Law helped with a gift she gave me.  A Kitchen Witch!  A Kitchen Witch is a Scandinavian tradition of placing a traditional witch in the kitchen to ward off bad luck and evil spirits.  My Mother-In-Law is very Norwegian.


Here is my Kitchen Witch that hangs over my sink.  The Kitchen Witch is intended to hang out all year round, so she's not even a Halloween decoration, technically.

Next, my Dad helped my cause with giving me this sign for Christmas!  Totally unbeknownst to me!


Clearly, my family is well aware of my affinity for witch-y things.  Since this is a gift there is no way it was going to be banished to the Halloween decoration bin for 9 months out of the year!  (I put Halloween decorations out in August...)

So now it lives on the wall....

Above the couch!

The broom is a touch I thought of one night when my husband and I were discussing what to put under the sign since we felt it was still a little bare.  I bought it at Party Papers when I was working one nigh for four dollars.

Next, I found this cute little sign on Etsy and I couldn't resist.

Here is my daughter holding it for me (she also loves her cat, according to her T-shirt.)  I told my sister what it says, "Not every witch lives in Salem."  "I like it," my sister said, "It sounds like a threat."

It found it's home on the wall by the entry way.  You can't see the sign until you are properly in the living room.

It's small and subtle and I love it!

Finally, the only actually Halloween decorations that I keep out all year are the signs that hang in the entry way.  They are cheap tin signs I got at Target about two years ago.  I am looking to replace them with something a little more solid and less "decoration-y" looking, but I do like them.

 I just did leave them up after Halloween purposely not putting them in the decorations bin.

My husband is now on board with the witch theme, because he really doesn't have a choice, so now I am looking for the perfect sign to hang in the entry way and I have been searching Etsy like mad.

I hope you enjoyed my house!  


Monday, March 12, 2012

Lily Dale

One day when I was jobless and pregnant, I caught a documentary on HBO about a town in upstate New York called Lily Dale.  I was fascinated by what I saw.  Lily Dale is what is considered to be a "spiritualist community."  The year-round population is 275 people and its residents are people who all claim to or do posses psychic abilities or can communicate with the dead. 

Lily Dale was founded by sisters Margaret and Kate Fox in 1916.  The sisters claimed to be mediums who could communicate with the dead by rapping noises.  As young teenagers living in small upstate New York town called Hydesville, they claimed to communicate with spirit they called "Mr. Splitfoot" which is a nickname for the devil.  Later, they confessed that they were actually communicating with the spirit of a peddler that had been murdered on their property years before named Charles B. Rosma.  There was never any record of this man in their town, nor had anyone ever heard of such a person.  These claims sent their small town into quite a frenzy and the Fox sisters where sent away to Rochester, New York during the height of excitement.  The girls were split up once in Rochester.  One sent to live with their much-older sister, Leah and one sent to live with their much-older brother, David.  Apparently, Mr. Spiltfoot or the mysterious peddler, followed the girls to their separate homes in Rochester since the rappings continued where the girls were.  Amy and Isaac Post, a Quaker couple who were longtime family friends of the Fox family then invited Margaret and Kate to come live with them after the rappings made them somewhat unwanted guests in their siblings' homes.  The rappings continued once the girls arrived at the Posts, but instead of fearing the communication with the unseen the Posts fostered it and encouraged it in the girls and spread the word of the girls' abilities among their Quaker friends.

Soon the Fox sisters where performing public seances, and by 1850 where quite famous and attracting people of note in New York at the time for private seances.  During these years of the sister's popularity thousands of people emerged also claiming to have the same gifts as the Fox sisters (like the Hiltons begat the Kardashians...) some where flat out frauds, but there were a few who truly did possess the ability to communicate with the dead.  Unfortunately, with there new-found fame and lack of parental supervision, the Fox sisters soon became heavy drinkers.

Soon, their older sister Leah became their manager and the girls success continued into their adult lives.  Margaret was the first one to break ranks when she married an explorer named Elisha Kane.  He was convinced Margaret and Kate were committing fraud and that Leah was facilitating it.  He convinced Margaret of the same thing.  Her and Kane moved away, married and she converted to Roman Catholicism.  Five years after their marriage, however, Elisha Kane died and Margaret returned to working as a medium.  Kate, in the meantime, went to England, a trip funded by a prosperous New York bank, to work as a medium for only very high-end clientele.  In 1872 Kate married H.D. Jencken, a barrister and legal scholar.  He died nine years after their marriage, and left Kate to raise their two sons.  She wasn't left along to raise her sons however, since in 1876 Margaret moved to England to live with Kate and her family.
As the years went on the Fox sisters developed serious drinking problems.  Leah, the eldest Fox sister confronted Kate in 1888 about her drinking and told her she wasn't fit to raise her sons.  At the same time, Margaret had convinced herself that her abilities were the work of the devil and thought about rejoining the Catholic church.  Margaret and Kate Fox had decided that all their problems were stemming from one source, their older sister Leah.  The two younger Fox sisters left England and returned to New York, where they were offered a substantial sum of money from a reporter if they exposed themselves as frauds.  They did, claiming they were making all the noises during the seances themselves by moving and cracking their fingers and toes, something their sister Leah taught them to do.    

Five years after their confession of fraud ran in the national media Margaret recanted her confession in writing in 1889.  By 1916, the Fox sisters moved to a small town near their hometown in upstate New York called Lily Dale. Within five years both sisters had died in total poverty, shunned by former friends.

On November 22, 1904 the body of Charles B. Rosma was found in the cellar of the girls' childhood home. He was a peddler that had been murdered years before the girls lived in that home, like they originally claimed. 

The Fox sisters were a big part of the Spiritualist movement.  Spiritualism is a religion in which the ability to communicate with the dead and the dead being able to communicate with the living is a tent-pole along with the other beliefs such as:
  • A belief that the soul continues to exist after the death of the physical body.
  • Personal responsibility for life circumstances.
  • Even after death it is possible for the soul to learn and improve
  • A belief in a God, often referred to as "Infinite Intelligence".
  • The natural world considered as an expression of said intelligence.
In Spiritualism anyone can communicate with spirits, but formal communication happens with a medium at seances.

In the 1840's to the 1920's Spiritualism hit its peak, mostly in the English speaking world.  Most of the members were of the upper-class.  The organization was very liberal when it came to the social issues of the time, which included the abolition of slavery and women's suffrage. By the late 1800's and early 1900's the credibility of the movement started to deteriorate when many people were exposed and debunked as frauds and as people where starting to use the religion as a means to make fast cash.

Lily Dale residents, the permanent ones anyways, are all followers of the Spiritualism movement.  While Lily Dale's permanent population is only 275, the town has nearly 22,000 visitors a year.  People come to seek communication with their deceased loved ones, to attend various speaking engagements with the likes of Depak Chopra, John Edward, James Van Praagh and an Oprah fav, Dr. Wayne Dyer.  Lily Dale very much so caters to its tourist clientele, with a Main Street populated with many shops, cafes, restaurants and museum and historical society.  There are also several hotels and bed and breakfasts to accommodate all the tourists.

The HBO documentary about Lily Dale, entitled No One Dies in Lily Dale, follows both people who live in the town and make it their home, and the people traveling to Lily Dale for some sort of closure or healing to help them move on or gain acceptance of an event in their life.  It's really fascinating and shows the town to be a cute little hamlet where all the townspeople live and work harmoniously side-by-side.  I can't believe living year round in a town of 275 would be all that easy.  Especially if they're psychic, they must know literally everything about each other.

One part of No One Dies in Lily Dale that really stood out in my mind where when the protesters showed up.  Those whack-a-doo fundamentalists will travel just about anywhere to get in the faces of people just living their lives and disrupt daily routines.  It was kind of funny though.  The people of Lily Dale, being who they are, went out and met with the protests (one who was holding a sign that said "Harry Potter is the work of the devil" he must have thought he was in Hogsmede) and tried to speak with them in a reasonable matter.  It was kind of sweet seeing the people of Lily Dale not get worked up by these hateful people and try to explain to them what they were doing wasn't evil, but you know how people who take time off of work to protest something are....

Ever since I watched No One Dies in Lily Dale, the town has been on my list of places to visit.  Along with Salem, of course, and New Orleans (any place with above ground cemeteries is a place I want to visit.)  If you ever get the chance to watch No One Dies in Lily Dale I really recommend it.  It's so cool to see how other people live.

Also, I just learned that there is a teen fiction series that takes place in Lily Dale....I'm totally going to have to read that.  I bet I can find it under the Paranormal Teen Romance section of my local Barnes and Noble.    
  

 





Sunday, March 11, 2012

Non-Halloween Related Personal Musings By The Halloween Honey

This day-light savings time isn't screwing me up too terribly bad.  Mostly because today was such a beautiful day it was hard to be grumpy about losing an hour of sleep.  And I am not dreading tomorrow because I don't have to get up and go to work anywhere.

 I stay at home with my 16-month old daughter but I also do daycare for my 13-month old niece, so she is here bright and early, so I still do get up early in the morning, but it makes such a difference not having to be out of jammies and with any kind of game face on.  When I used to work a nine-to-five I would count the hours I had before I had to be at work.  I absolutely dreaded going to work (mostly because my last nine-to-five was a horrible place to work which I was fired from.)  At the end of this month I will have been without a traditional job for two years.  Along with my niece I also work at Party Papers in downtown Anoka one night a week, more if I'm needed, and a lot more during the month of October, and I have a gig walking dogs for a very busy CPA couple during tax season.  I have learned a lot about myself in these last two years.  Mainly that I can carry and birth a child without much trouble (even though I constantly complained about both....and the whole "birthing" part I guess is a stretch, I ended up having a c-section.) And that I am not cut out for the nine-to-five world.

I have worked full-time since I was seventeen.  College drifted in and out of there twice, both of which I never successfully completed.  The majority of my jobs were as a receptionist.  I took a brief three-and-a-half year dip in the retail pool working at Barnes and Noble, which was by far my favorite job.  But I craved normal hours, which is something you don't get working retail.  So I went back to the receptionist game always dreaming of doing something else.  What exactly, is unclear.  I was fired from my most recent reception job because I called my boss a bitch on the internet.  Which was not untrue, and I'm so hardheaded that I go back and forth between patting myself on the back for my bold choice which led to my ultimate firing, and feeling kinda bad about it (the latter emotion doesn't ever last very long.) I had just found out I was pregnant and my husband and I had just finished moving into our first house we purchased.  The timing was not excellent, but it really, truly, was the best thing that could have happened because it really worked out well with the whole daycare situation and my stress level.  

I have had my niece during the day now for nearly a year.  So many people have told me that I should become a licensed daycare provider, but I don't think I would tolerate children I am not related to very well, especially if they were ill-mannered or bratty in anyway.  Currently, my plan is to go back to work when the girls (my daughter and niece) start school in about four years.  What work I will go back to is unclear.  I have been thinking about this a lot lately ever since my daughter's first birthday.  It was almost like a clock started ticking, like "figure it out, bitch."  I'm pretty sure I am done having children, and I don't want to be one of those people who don't have any options once their first child starts school so they just have another baby (someone even said "have another baby!" when I was musing about this to them.  I was kind of insulted.)  I briefly considered homeschooling, for like half a second, mostly because public school scares me, and other peoples' children scare me, but then I came to my senses.

I still have four years to try and figure something out.  I do not foresee going back to school in my future because it's too frickin' expensive and I don't have the attention span for things I don't care to learn about anymore in my life (nor did I ever really. Math is a hazy blur in my brain.)  I want to contribute to society, and I know raising my daughter to be a respectful, thoughtful, accepting and understanding person is contributing to society, but she will be at school for nearly eight hours a day, I gotta fill my time somehow!

I know I am panicking about something that is quite a ways off in the future, but for some reason this thought keeps coming back to me.  I'm sure I will figure something out, and I know it will be hard for someone who was fired from the last full-time job they had and will have a five year gap in their resume, but I try to be a resourceful person, and I know a lot of people who know a lot of people and really, getting a job is mostly about who you know anyways, right?  My sister alone has gotten me three jobs in my lifetime!

Sorry, I know this post isn't about Halloween.  I had a nice Halloween-themed blog laid out in my head as I was putting my daughter to bed and then I was like "The clock says it's only 7:40 but it's really 8:40!  Gah!"  So I didn't have all that much time (or energy) to prepare it, so hopefully tomorrow night, folks!  Thanks for reading my ramblings if you've made it this far! 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Halloween Goes To The Dogs! And Cats! And One Monkey.

These last two days have been exhausting in my house.  Last night my daughter Violet got sick and very pukey and my husband was at work so I was left alone to take care of the situation, which is no big deal, but she was so upset and clingy my nerves where getting a little fried.  So, to calm myself I had one, two, three glasses of wine while watching many episodes of DVR'd 30 Rock while she slept.  I finally went to bed, with her next to me, and slept until my husband came home from work.  Once he settled in to bed I couldn't sleep (what felt like) a wink.  In all of Violet's clingy-ness I failed to eat dinner (I didn't forget.  I never forget to eat...) so three glasses of wine on top of an empty stomach and a nagging cold I've had about two weeks, gave me a rough night...which at one point resulted in me taking a bath at 2:30am to see if the warm water would lull me back to sleepy-ness.  It didn't.  I eventually went to sleep around 5am, only to wake back up at 7 to start my day.  Ugh.  I had a busy Saturday of running errands and a three-hour lunch with my cousins (actually, that was pretty sweet) but the second I got back home this evening, I have been a zombie.  I am now having some delicious Sleepytime tea while the dog sleeps next to me on the couch.

So, long story long, my blogging has been taking a backseat to life.  But, I did want to post tonight.  I present to you....Animals in Halloween Costumes:

Let me start by saying I have never put any of my pets in any sort of costume.  My cats would scratch my eyes out, and I've only had my dog since February so the opportunity has yet to present itself.  I did already decide on a costume for him in case I do want to be one of "those people" and dress-up my dog.  We adopted him from our local humane society but he is originally from the south, where stray animals are a huge problem there since they don't have enough shelters to accommodate all of them (hence them being brought up to Minnesota for the hopes of adoption.) Since he's a southern boy I have already imagined a very cute cowboy get-up complete with hat and kerchief stylishly tied around his neck.  Maybe I can get him to stick a piece of wheat in his mouth and chew on it thoughtfully.

This is my dog Phineas:

   "Please.  No costumes, please."  He says.

Here are some animals who do have "those people" for owners:

 This is not only a costume but an entire scene!  Impressive.  Good boy.

 As you can see, this dog is wearing a banana costume.  Banana costumes are funny on any mammal really.  I ran into a girl at a bar one Halloween weekend in downtown Anoka and she was wearing a banana costume.  She staggered up to our group to be, a friendly drunk person, I guess, and went off on a rant about all the sexy costumes she was seeing and how her banana costume was awesome because it was funny.  She was also a correct drunk person.  It was funny.

Now this is one of my favorite trends in animal costuming.  Dressing an animal up as a totally different animal.  Here, this monkey is an elephant.  I would never keep a pet monkey, let alone dress it up for Halloween but to each there own I guess.

This is incredibly impressive.  I have never met a cat that would tolerate any thing put on its body.  In fact, when my sister and I were growing up we had a cat, Big Kiddy, who we would try to dress in Barbie clothes, and we got the occasional shirt over his head, but if we were successful he would just go limp and it wasn't any fun anymore. Not only does this cat tolerate the costume on his head, he doesn't even mind posing for a photograph!

This is also funny.  On several levels.

I'm convinced this isn't even a costume, this dog just looks like this.

I do have a feeling Phineas might end up with some sort of costume come October, after all, it runs in the family to dress up the pets.  Example A.  My sister's Pappillion, Moya:

Halloween 2010.

Moya again, the same year.  What's that?  A sexy pirate costume?  Why yes, are friends at Leg Avenue also dabble in sultry costumes for your dog!  No joke.

If you do want to dress your dog or cat up for Halloween please be safe and respectful about it.  Don't force the poor animal to wear a costume that he hates just for your amusement.  That's just a jerky think to do.






Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Jackson Hotel (Billy's Bar and Grill)

Billy's Bar and Grill is my favorite bar in Downtown Anoka, and I've been to every bar in Anoka.  I love it because it's sort of a dump, but that's part of the appeal.  The carpeting is old and worn, there is a front closet used for storing high chairs and coats that is always left open right when you walk in.  There has always been one stall in the bathroom that doesn't lock, the bar has a distinct "dank-ness" about it, and the restaurant is a mish-mash of old photos of Anoka in cheap frames and quotes from comedians in cheaper frames hung on the walls.  The best way to describe the dining room is "worn."  Surprisingly though, the patio kicks ass.  It has beautiful cobblestone and Billy's brick exterior creates a very old-world feel.  Billy's is so beloved I had my daughter's first birthday party there in the "party room," which is a cold, brick room with no windows in the basement.  We brightened it up with some bright, colorful balloons though (thanks, Party Papers!)  Even my family is a huge fan!  Every Easter morning we go to brunch with my Dad.  "Let's go somewhere nicer this year, like Green Mill."  my sister suggestions.  "No way."  said my Dad, "I like that dive."  Here!  Here!

Here is a picture of Violet's first birthday party in the basement of Billy's:



Billy's Bar and Grill was built in 1877 by Swedish immigrant Charles G. Jackson as the Anoka Hotel, but changed it's name to The Jackson Hotel a few years later.  It is on the National Register of Historic Places.  On August 22, 1885 it became the scene of Anoka's first murder.  Two friends, M.F. Mirick and Peter Gross got into a drunken argument outside of the bar.  Mirick shot Gross in the back.  Gross was brought to a hotel room upstairs for doctor's care (the doctor musta been at the bar...) Unfortunately Gross died in the hotel the following night.

In the 1930's Anoka was a fairly industrious town due to their location on the confluence of two rivers and the railroad.  A few gansters made their way into town (John Dillinger even spent some time here!) and set up shop at the Jackson Hotel.

The bartender's nephew was a cab driver at the time and was in charge of picking up three women at the train station every Friday night and bring the ladies back to the train station on Sunday night for the gangsters...use.  One of the women in particular caught his eye, the red-headed woman.  One Sunday night the cab driver was bringing only two of the women back to the train station, the red-headed woman wasn't with them.  Being quite naive the cab driver thought the woman was going to stay in Anoka for good since she wasn't with them.  He returned to the hotel from dropping the women at the train station and excitedly asked his uncle where the red-headed woman was.  His uncle instructed him to forget about the red-headed woman and that it would be in his best interest never to speak of her again.    

After the Jackson's died, the hotel was willed to a relative who converted the hotel into apartments until 1975, when it changed ownership hands again.  A few owners later, it became Billy's Bar and Grill.

Billy's Bar and Grill is on the Ghosts of Anoka tour and I have heard more stories about this place than any other stop on the tour.  Last summer I took a Ghost Hunting course through Community Education that was held at Billy's and a few of the waitresses and managers came to speak to the class and tell their stories.  (Ghost Hunting through Community Ed. right?!)

The most popular spirit at Billy's, the one who is seen the most, is that of the red-headed woman.  She is said to be somewhat of a nasty spirit.  She haunts both the upstairs of Billy's (which is now used for storage) and the basement as well. (I did offer her a piece of Violet's birthday cake, but she must be watching her ghostly girly figure.)  One of the incidents in the basement is of a storage room that can only be opened from the outside.  Beer cases are currently stored in this room and a staff member was trying to access the room but the door would not budge.  A few more employees helped open the door and it looked as though someone had stacked all the beer cases in front of the door from the inside.  There is a theory that the red-headed woman was buried in the basement.  There is a poured concrete floor that has a raised section the length and width that would be needed to put a adult human body.

Another incident involving the red-headed woman was after one of the Ghost Tours (Billy is the last stop on the tour.)  A woman had brought her granddaughter on the tour with her and the woman and the docent were chit-chatting in front of Billy's.  The girl started tugging on her grandma's arm trying to get her attention and suddenly was begging to leave.  The grandma asked her why and the little girl responded that the red-headed lady in the window upstairs was mean and making faces at her.

Billy's dining room seems to be haunted by the spirit of a much friendlier man.  A few people have even been asked how their meal was by the man.  The dining room is also a hotbed of unexplainable activity including pounding underneath tables and many creepy things that happen after the restaurant closes.

One manager recounted a tale of how she went to shut off all the TV's in the dining room one night and went to unplug the lone TV that doesn't have an on/off button (all of Billy's things are second-hand.)  She was a little apprehensive to climb on to the chair she would need to use to reach the plug-in.  Just as she was about to climb on the chair, the TV behind her snapped back on.  Distracted and annoyed, the manager went to shut the TV off again, only to turn around and find the other TV unplugged for her.

Billy's employees have even come to open the restaurant with the coffee made or the chairs all on the tables.  And the pictures on the wall are always crooked, even after straightening them time and time again.  At this point the staff doesn't even bother to straighten the pictures anymore.

Upstairs, where most of the hotel rooms were, is now used for storage.  One server went up there to get something from the dark dusty third floor and had to get low to the floor to get it.  She was digging around in the tableware until she found what she needed when she turned around she was greeted with champagne glasses in a circle around her, with hand prints that weren't hers in the dust on the floor.  This server refuses to go to the third floor alone anymore.  

So much activity takes place after the place closes for the night the owners decided just to leave the lights on overnight, since that seems to cut down on activity.  They have the highest electricity bill in town but it's worth it to the staff.

Billy's Bar and Grill in downtown Anoka is a great, fun place.  The food is Americana done very well and the drinks are not shy on the alcohol.  The dank, the slanty floors and the "worn-ness" of it all is just part of the charm.  And along with the ghosts you also get free popcorn!


And here it is at night for spoooooooooky effect!


  Hey, Billy's, I'll see you on St. Patrick's Day!