Tag Archive for halloween

Halfway Halloween

The Oliveris had a good Halloween this year. The Rugrats loved the costumes they picked out, and they got to wear them to two Halloween parties and for trick-or-treating. We logged a little over two miles knocking on doors tonight, and this year Little Bird stayed in the lead most of the time. Twice we ran into little kids who got scared of the Rugrats’ costumes, and there were several comments from candy giver outers (it’s a technical term) about their scary costumes.

Ghost-Faced Killer

The Ghost-Faced Killer stalks his prey

However, our community fell short for Halloween this year.

This town has set hours for trick-or-treating, and even then kids are only supposed to knock at houses with the porch light on. This year, those houses were fewer and farther between than any year we’ve gone trick-or-treating. Even houses we knew usually participated had their lights off.

We also saw fewer trick-or-treaters out and about. The far side of one street is usually choked with traffic, and there are often cars driving all up and down the streets as parents watch their children or ferry them from block to block. This year? Hardly any traffic at all. We ran into a few small groups of kids, but never did we have to wait in line at some houses for other kids to move on.

In the end, while we did have a good haul of candy, it was around half the size of what we usually get, even in the years we walked shorter routes.

I wish I had an explanation for it. I can’t imagine it’s a religious objection, as it’s never been a problem in the past (at least, not a big one). The economy? Candy’s not that expensive. I suppose it could be an activity at the school, but we generally work around holidays (and even then, it would only affect the high school students). Even the cooler temps and chill breeze haven’t deterred trick-or-treaters in the past.

Whatever the cause, I hope it doesn’t become the norm. Halloween is the one holiday that hasn’t had the fun sucked out of it for one reason or another. The kids and I look forward to visiting the Halloween store for months in advance, and we know we’ll be home to go trick-or-treating.

If I find out in the paper tomorrow that some whackjob is trying to kill Halloween in our community, it’s going to be war.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday Catchup: Haunted

My karate dojo had its annual haunted house over the weekend, and once again we had a great time putting a scare into people. We warn parents that it may be a little intense for the younger children, but inevitably we’ll get some folks taking four- and five-year-old kids through.

Good times.

Right off the bat, we try to show them that we’re not playing around:

Babies

What you don’t see is the truly terrifying “Big Baby”

For such a small haunted house, it strikes a good balance between gruesome scenery and jump-out-at-you thrills. Some of it is very effective, too, getting screams even out of adults who walk through the first half without much jumping.

Of course, then there are the kids screaming “I want out of here!” less than halfway through. Those are our favorite.

My eldest doesn’t go through. His first time through a few years back was enough. Now his imagination makes it much bigger and scarier than it really is. Meanwhile, my middle child walks through unfazed. He loves it. When he gets to my spot, he watches my schtick, then says “hi, Dad,” and moves on.

I’ll have to see about getting my eldest on the inside next year. He’d have a blast with it.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Trick-or-Treat!

The Oliveris don’t screw around on Halloween: we walk door-to-door until our legs give out, hitting every single house with the porch light on. We see a lot of people driving their kids around, or only visiting certain houses, and that just doesn’t make sense to me.

The Rugrats in Costume

Morticia, a chainsaw killer, and a Grim Reaper

My kids all opt to dress as something horror-related, which makes me a proud papa. It bums me out seeing all these kids dressed as clowns, fairies, princesses, bugs, and (this year) Cardinals baseball players. Yeah, I know that’s their idea of fun, but come on! It’s Halloween, people! Haunted houses and ghost stories! While we did see a few other reapers, skeletons, and ghost-faced killers, they were in the minority.

Little Bird Snarling

Tomorrow she cuts her first black metal album

We chose a new route this year, and according to Google Maps we logged a hair over two miles. I was ready to take the kids down three more blocks, but they were done. In fact, the oldest had collected so much loot, the handles on his bag broke just as we hit the last block before home.

Chainsaw Killer

"Leatherface was a pussy!"

We got our first religious paraphernalia this year, too. Some old lady handed out a little booklet called “The Devil’s Night” and a book on 101 favorite Bible stories. The latter is a full-sized book and is actually kind of nice, but the little pamphlet is a comic book telling kids Halloween is evil and leads them to witchcraft. I’ll scan it and post it when I have time. It’s pretty bad, even for what it’s trying to do.

Phantom Reaper

"Your candy... or your SOUL!"

The middle child, dressed as a reaper, didn’t get anything from the old lady. I didn’t hear the conversation and didn’t find out what they got until after we were walking away, but the kids said she claimed she only had two books left. I half wonder if she figured the poor little guy was already damned and she didn’t want to go near him.

If only I’d refilled my Zippo…

Trick-or-Treat Loot

They made out like bandits!

On a positive note, we also ran into our first adult trying to scare people. I spotted a scarecrow on a porch, and I thought it looked a little sketchy so I kept my flashlight on him as the kids approached. Just before they got to the door, he jumped up and said “Happy Halloween!” The kids jumped and I got a good laugh out of it. Good to see some people in town still have the Halloween spirit. I heard another family had a haunted house in their garage and gave out full-sized candy bars to everyone who went through, so we’ll have to look for them next year.

All in all, we had a good night and landed more candy than the kids will be able to eat for the next few months. We got so much, in fact, the Wife and I are taking two gallon bags of the stuff to our respective workplaces, and we still have more than enough left for the kids.

Now that the kids are getting a little older, maybe next year we can look at decorating our own place. Muhahahahahah!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

A Day Early, a Dollar Short

I took the kids out trick-or-treating tonight.

That’s right, on a Saturday. Our community catered to a few whiners who didn’t want kids to dress up as monsters on a Sunday, so we’re one of two towns in the area going out a night early. These are the same people who didn’t want kids to dress up as monsters at the elementary school, thus killing the Halloween parade there. The ordinance was only passed a couple of years ago, so I believe this may be the first time the town switched days.

In addition to it being just plain stupid, it put a damper on Halloween. The kids all knew about the switch, because of course the trick-or-treaters are paying attention. The problem is the word didn’t get out to the rest of the town, so several houses who have welcomed the kids every year were dark. While the kids did get plenty of loot, we were home a half hour earlier than usual, despite walking the same route we use every year.

Trick or Treat

The witch, the punk zombie, and Jason

On the plus side, the kids chose scary costumes this year! As a horror-writin’ dad, I get tired of seeing kids walking around as Power Rangers, Stormtroopers, Transformers, princesses, and ballerinas. This year we even saw someone dressed as a Twister game. When the Rugrats told me they wanted to be a vampire, a punk zombie, and Jason, respectively, I was thrilled. Little Bird decided she liked the witch costume better, so she went that route instead. We intended to search Goodwill for punk clothes to slather with blood and makeup, but happened to find a full punk zombie costume and saved time. Jason, of course, was a piece of cake.

The night change didn’t stop the kids from having a good time. They did a lot more walking between participating houses, but they ran into some of their friends along the way. They also got a kick out of it when one woman saw Squirt in the dark and thought his costume had something to do with the Statue of Liberty, and another dude at one house thought he was a chicken.

There's Always One

There's always at least one.

And of course we found that house. You know, the one giving out healthy treats. In this case it was raisins and granola bars, and all three kids walked away from the house grousing about it. They sounded like Charlie Brown getting his rock every year: “Aww, man, I got raisins.” I made a mental note to skip that house next year.

Looks like next year Halloween falls on a Monday, so we should be back to normal. For now the question is, do we hit another community tomorrow?

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

On Terrorizing Children

Killer on the loose!
Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

I never realized scaring kids can be both so difficult and so much fun at the same time.

The Academy of Okinawan Karate put on their annual haunted house last night, and as one of their students I volunteered to help out this year. They supplied me with an orange jumpsuit, toy chainsaw, and face paint and stashed me in a dead-end hallway. Visitors fleeing from another scare would be directed down my hallway by their guide, at which point I jumped out with my chainsaw and barking out some insane laughter.

I was about halfway through the haunted house, and there were a couple cases where some kid was already screaming and crying before they got to me. I thought “Hmm, maybe I should tone it down for this one.” Then, a moment later: “Nah.” I gave ’em full power and watched ’em jump and scream. I felt like a dick afterward, but it was totally worth it.

It’s also good to see that I’m not the only parent who relishes their own kids’ fear. There were a few parents coming through with screaming, crying children, and they were laughing as much as I was when I took my kids through last year. The instructors warn parents that it’s scary, yet we had more little kids than adults or teenagers.

Not that it stopped teenagers or adults being from scared. I got good screams out of a group of girls, and at least one woman had to be pushed from section to section by her friends.

It was hard work, too. The groups were close enough together that I didn’t have time to chat with the other monsters much, but far enough apart that I had to do a lot of waiting. I stood in the dark (not counting a strobe light nearby) the whole time. The jumpsuit was kind of warm, and the makeup started to itch after a while. Someone brought cookies through for the monsters, but somehow I missed out on the water. In short, it gave me a new appreciation for what people go through to put on a good haunted house every year.

All worth it, though. Next year I just need to find a bigger chainsaw.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Weak Halloween Averted

My kids are going to be a ninja lord (whatever that is), Optimus Prime, and a witch for Halloween this year. I tried to steer them toward monsters and zombies, and almost succeeded in talking the Squirt into being a zombie pirate from Pirates of the Caribbean, but in the end they chickened out.

Turns out they still remember last year’s haunted house at the Academy of Okinawan Karate. I’ve been talking it up for the last few weeks, and they finally told me they don’t want to do it again. The Midget was brave last year, and even impressed a lot of people by dropping into a fighting stance every time a monster strayed too close. The Squirt emerged in tears, but only because his flip-flop fell off. Many other children their age walked out clutching their parents and crying in fear. I thought my boys would be up for it again, but no, they don’t want anything to do with it.

In fact, the Midget is having horrible flashbacks. For example, we went to Sam’s Club and saw they had all their Halloween decorations out:

Sams Halloween displays

Sam's Halloween displays

These were simple inflatable dioramas, with some movement and music, including the theme from Halloween. The Squirt and I rolled on by, and suddenly realized the Midget had fallen behind. He didn’t want to go anywhere near this thing, and despite all my attempts to explain to him this stuff is perfectly harmless, he freaked. So we went the long way around the store to get what we needed.

On the way back, the Squirt and I wanted to take another look. So we headed back, and I allowed the Midget to remain behind with the cart, about a hundred feet down the aisle. When I returned a few seconds later, this is what I found:

The decorations, they kill!

"It's a trap!"

One would think most dads would rush to console their child. Me? I whip out the camera so I can show off this little picture to his date on prom night. Yes, I will relish this picture.

Because it killed Halloween. I started to think maybe this would be the year to decorate the house. We went into one of those seasonal Halloween stores, and I got to looking at the crawling torso, the buckets of blood, the giant spiders, the motorized goblins, and the almost never-ending row of adult monster costumes, and I started drooling. Our porch is a perfect setup for hanging Halloween decorations, and it would be easy to turn it into a tunnel to funnel trick-or-treaters to the front door to scare the pants off ’em as they get their candy.

Unfortunately, if I set any of that stuff up, the Midget would never come home. Halloween dioramas flanked the vestibule of the Halloween store, and he didn’t even want to walk through it, almost giving up his costume privileges. Every store we go into, he looks well ahead for Halloween displays, and if they have them he won’t go near them. Even a spider sticker on the front door of a restaurant gave him pause, as he feared there were other bigger, scarier decorations on the inside.

So, alas, no decorations for Mike. No scary costume, either. I finally resigned myself to walking my ninja and my Transformer through a neighborhood filled with other wussy costumes like ballerinas, princesses, cowboys, cats, Power Rangers, super heroes, and clowns. (God I hate clowns. I want to punch them in the face. But I digress.) Maybe next year the Midget will come around, and I can talk the boys into joining me on the dark side. Together we can terrorize this neighborhood of weak-ass Halloween killjoys. Our home will be an object of horror, and we will get to keep all of our candy! WE WILL RULE HALLOWEEN WITH BLOOD-DRENCHED FISTS!! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

I digress again. As I was saying, I have accepted the fact that Halloween will probably suck. Again.

Then I had dinner with the folks who run my karate school. They’re looking for more volunteers. After determining we will probably not be bringing my kids to the school’s Halloween party this year, I jumped in. I have no idea what I’ll be yet, but I’m back, baby! I get to scare the hell out of child — er, I mean, I get to do my part putting the horror back in Halloween!

VICTORY IS MINE!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

They Can't Kill Halloween

I’ve been bummed for the last couple of weeks leading up to Halloween. While I’m not a big holiday guy, I think Halloween is the last truly fun holiday left. Plus I’m a horror writer, so I’m kinda obligated. It may be watered down some and I’m still disappointed more kids don’t dress up as something scary, but they get to get out there, collect a buttload of candy, and generally have a good time.

This year, however, I found out why our school doesn’t celebrate Halloween. I live in a fairly religious community, and a very vocal minority played up the Satanic connotations of Halloween and got it squashed. Our students can pray around a flagpole out front, but God forbid they go the opposite direction and put on a costume. Halloween became the Fall Festival, and the closest it came to anything horror were the spiders the kids built in the Midget’s kindergarten class and the spider he got painted on his face at the festival itself (most kids chose flowers and flags — I wonder if the art teacher would even know who Cthulhu is?).

There was a dress-up theme all week, with each day carrying a different theme. But the themes were simple, like Spirit Day where they wear the school colors, or Sports Day where they wear team uniforms or clothing. Today was dress-up day, and they dressed up as what they want to be when they grow up. The Midget happily wore his gi and said he wanted to be “a karate guy,” but not one theme was remotely Halloween related. They tied in an anti-drug theme, which is certainly respectable, but still not as much fun.

I had a brief respite on Saturday when I discovered our karate school did it up right. The kids all showed up at the main dojo wearing costumes, and a lot of them were horrific. Sure, there were pirates and princesses, but there were also zombies, witches, undead soldiers, Draculas, and monsters. The staff converted their aerobic kickboxing school in the storefront next door to a haunted house, and it kicked all form of ass. So much ass, in fact, that I’ll be blogging about it later.

Then it was back to school on Monday, and Ho-Hum Halloween. I looked forward to taking the boys trick-or-treating tonight, but I didn’t expect much.

To my surprise, it really was a great Halloween. We walked down an out-of-the-way street and discovered two houses all dressed up in actual Halloween gear (as opposed to a giant inflatable pirate Spongebob), one of which the Midget was afraid to approach because of the mechanical ghost on the porch. A couple houses gave out candy shaped and packaged like toes, ears and eyeballs, and there people dishing out the candy from cauldrons and pumpkins.

It was especially refreshing to see kids dressed in scary costumes after the bland dress-up week. I saw a killer werewolf costume, a kid dressed as the reaper with giant red LED eyes, kids wearing skulls and demon masks, kids with scythes and axes and swords, and a dude who looked like a psycho in a Krusty mask. I even heard several people complimenting the scary costumes, and acting appropriately scared when one of them shouted “boo!” or waved some implement of destruction in a threatening manner.

Halloween was suddenly fun again, and after an hour and a half walking door-to-door, the boys’ treat bags were filled to the brim. We did find that one house that’s in every neighborhood, the one that gives out healthy treats like raisins, but I was in such a good mood I didn’t bother throwing that little red Sun-Maid box back at the old lady behind the door. Nope. Nothing was ruining this Halloween rush.

So bitch all you want, ya commies. You can’t kill Halloween!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.