Spooktacular Songs to Haunt Your Halloween

Hello and happy early Halloween! We still have over a week until everyone’s favorite dress-up day, but considering I will be posting the State of the Season next week, and since many are celebrating Halloween more formally this weekend as it falls on a Wednesday, I am getting the jump on the jump scare festivities now.

I have composed a couple of lists in the past regarding both Halloween movies and songs, and discovered that they are many more than 13 frightening choices for each. Furthermore, I have since seen and heard more media that I feel merits inclusion, so it should come as no surprise that I am expanding my previous list of Halloween songs with a new set of 13 for you to add to your spooktacular Halloween party playlist.

“Abracadabra” – Steve Miller Band

The sizzling guitar in this great 1980s Steve Miller song is magical enouch to make it worth a listen, but I think it has a lot to offer to any Halloween atmosphere.


“Bad Moon Rising” – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Popularized by preceding the famous transformation scene in An American Werewolf in London, this CCR classic is a surprisingly peppy take on the end of the world, and a welcome addition to any Halloween playlist.


“The Creep” – The Lonely Island

With an introduction and final words of instruction from the nicest creep around, John Waters, and a verse from the female creep perspective of Nicki Minaj, “The Creep” takes its place among The Lonely Island’s best, and in this case can serve as a fun addition that comes with its own dance!


“Devil Woman” – Cliff Richard

A soft-rock classic from the 1970s, there is plenty of the occult at play in references scattered throughout this tune to make it feel like more than just any “watch out for that lady” song.


“Feed My Frankenstein” – Alice Cooper

Just as Wayne’s World was greatly improved by the presence of Alice Cooper, so too will be your Frankenstein festivities, especially if you’re partying in Milwaukee!


“Halfsharkalligatorhalfman” – Dr. Octagon

Yes! You have met the dangerous 208 year old uncle of Dr. Octagon! The most “out there” offering on this list, but believe me, this bizarre buzz (and all that Kool Keith’s Dr. Octagon sends out over the spacey airwaves) is worth a listen and should be shared with friends. This song in particular is conducive for the eeriness of Hallow’s Eve thanks to its sharply silly lyrics and otherworldly tune.


“Hurdy Gurdy Man” – Donovan

This song also has a touch of the otherworldly, which is not unexpected from Donovan. It may be his most psychedelic song, and thanks to its excellent use in David Fincher’s Zodiac, it is one of the most creepy and unsettling songs forever associated for me now with the thought of a serial murderer who never was apprehended for his macabre misdeeds.


“Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” – The Beatles

An even happier sounding song than CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising”, this tale of a deranged man with a shiny, silver hammer is even more disconcerting because of it’s light melody.


“Nature Trail to Hell” – Weird Al Yankovic

Nobody sets the atmosphere quite like Weird Al, who practically takes us into the movie theater where the trailer for the most hysterical sounding horror film is playing.


“The Number of the Beast” – Iron Maiden

A fantastic high-energy heavy rock jam that taps into the terror of the beginning of the end of the world at the hands of the worst Satan can muster.


“People Are Strange” – The Doors

This song is equal parts fancifully fun and unsettling, as only The Doors can do.


“Red Right Hand” – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

There is no shortage of Halloween-worthy fanfare from this group, but Nick Cave’s best offering is this spectacular song that truly inspired me to write this list. Plus I love that resounding bell!


“Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” – From The Book of Mormon soundtrack

One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite musicals, this incredible song is born of the guilt felt by one of the protagonists of the story after he has abandoned his mission partner because he wanted to go to Orlando. Initially he believes he has made it to the theme-park capital until he realizes that he never got on an airplane. This is when his surroundings turn to fire and brimstone and reveal the devil, his demons, and an intriguing quartet of evil souls.


Thanks for reading! Enjoy your favorite Halloween festivities with friends, family, and that demon that’s moving things around in your room, but only a few millimeters at a time. I hope you’ll all have a safe, fun time, and that you’ll return here next week for the State of the Season.

Stay spooky,

Alex

Advertisements

It’s Hard Out Here for a Pubescent Teenager… Hahaha, “Hard”

I have been hampered by sickness as of late, although it has allowed me to catch up on some shows in my Netflix queue. One such I binged through with relish was the recently released second season of Big Mouth. A brilliant, absurd animation spectacle from the collective comedic genius of Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Andrew Goldberg, and Jennifer Flackett. If you have not watched it yet, I recommend it, for underneath the rich tapestry of colorful characters like the Hormone Monsters and Shame Wizard, as well as the hilarious quips about just about anything, is well detailed account of the troubles of teenagers and all that they deal with be it the sexual frustrations of an awkwardly growing and ever-horny body, the confusion of how to react to hormones and social pressures in a world filled technology able to document all that occurs, and the difficulty of dealing with the mistakes of one’s parents that are no fault of one’s own, but certainly feel that way. Big Mouth still has plenty of gross body humor with jabs at the frightening methods our bodies prepare for babymaking, but it’s how the show handles to pressure to keep your cool and love your friends through this all that makes it truly endearing to me, and for that, I thank the creators and writers for taking a look back at their own, undoubtedly embarrassing years, as turning them into one of the best shows to explore the hardships of children whose bodies are preparing for adulthood while their minds are drawn to the gutter.

But wait, there’s more! There is actually a show that I found to be even more introspective with its characters that features teenagers navigating a scary, tech-filled world that highlights their inadequacies, as well as the fallibility of the adults around them – and I found this show on the same streaming service! (I’m not paid for promoting Netflix here, but Netflix, if you wanna throw some dough my way, or take a bit off of my monthly subscription, that’d be tight!) American Vandal is grounded in more reality than Big Mouth, at least as far as it is live-action and there are no Hormone Monsters waddling around. It also serves as a great blend of comedy, mystery, and character study that ultimately takes a hard look at how we look at people. It serves as a lesson in passing judgement on someone until you really understand their situation, and encourages that deeper dive to discover how many layers there are to each person, no matter what you may originally assume.

I highly recommend you watch each of these magnificent shows and laugh and cry along with the excellent characters with each wild twist and turn. Need more convincing? How about a mashup trailer for both shows?

I also encourage you to return here next week for some more fun!

Toodles,

Alex

I Find the Most Erotic Part of a Woman is the Boobies

After losing a friend to cancer and faith in the American political framework to the same of a different variety, I have been fatigued in every way. My solution for such an ailment has always been to seek out the love of those I love, and work through our pain with humor. In a time when the uncaring dominance of privileged, sexist white men is apparent in all forms of media at all times of day, I find it cathartic to think back upon my favorite caricature of such a man, the space captain most afflicted by aa very sexy learning disability called sexlexia. I speak of course, of

ZAPP BRANNIGAN!

Hang in there, everybody,

Alex

Domestic Disturbance

I witnessed something disconcerting last week that I fear is not as unusual as I previously assumed. In my final hour of work of my final day of the work week, I was returning to my department’s building when I heard a great deal of shouting. At first I thought nothing of it; my building is on the edge of my institution’s campus and across the street is a particularly noisy neighbor who spends too much of his time yelling at his dog. I’m not a fan of that behavior, so I looked over to see what the poor golden retriever did this time to incur his wrath, only to discover that it was not the noisy neighbor and his dog, but a man and a woman exchanging words in a shouting match that also attracted the attention of a fellow employee. He and I looked on with concern as a young woman, probably around my age in her late 20s-early 30s, was walking quickly away, a bag in hand, on the sidewalk as this man, who looked to be slightly older, but not by much, was urging her to stop walking through “this neighborhood”. Now, our adjacent neighborhood is not always the nicest part of town, but this was in broad daylight, and it’s not an area known for constant crime as much as unruly residents (i.e. the aforementioned noisy neighbor who should be kinder to his dog). It was immediately apparent that he was not truly concerned for her well-being in the neighborhood though, as much as he was attempting to coerce her back into the van.

With continued shouting, it became apparent that they were husband and wife, and after one of his harsh pleas to get back in the car, she screamed back, “I’m done!” A brief series of similar exchanges occurred, and the woman started marching off. The man cursed, and frighteningly sped after her in the van. He pulled into the driveway of the next house (which my institution owns and staffs as an office) and they continued their shouting match. My coworker asked, “What’s that all about? Should we call somebody?” I resumed my pace back to my building to get to a phone, but stopped when I heard another voice: a child calling from the backseat of the van to the woman, saying, “Mom! Please get back in the car!” It sounded like one boy, but I cannot say for sure how many children were in the van. After a few more shouts, the woman returned to the van and got in. The man sped off and they were gone.

I went into the office and called security. Due to the angle, I was unable to get a license plate number, but I did get a basic color, make, and model of the van. Security had already been alerted to the shouting, but honestly I don’t know what they could do. It’s not like they could even pursue the van with their mobile unit for long – assuming it was even near the situation at the time. Even if security called the police (as I hope they at least did), what could they do? The woman got back in on her own volition. What I witnessed was a short domestic dispute, that hardly even merited a “disturbing the peace” charge, and certainly wouldn’t be followed up in a city with bigger problems at hand. There are extremely huge, real problems like armed robbery, gang violence, sex trafficking, and murder at play. A couple of young middle to upper class white people yelling at each other over nothing substantial is not making the six o’clock news, let alone the police blotter.

However, this does not mean that it should be overlooked. The police have little time or means to follow up on such a matter, yes; my work’s security is ill-equipped to actually handle such an interaction, and it didn’t take place on our property until the end, true; my random coworker and I do not have the authority or expertise to address such a situation, and even alerting one of the higher channels as I did is not a surefire bet to getting this situation looked into further. The cruel reality is that none of us have the ability to react to this situation in a helpful manner.

Nevertheless, prevention is the best medicine.

I don’t know that family. I ascertained that it was a married couple with one or more children, and it seemed apparent that the woman was unhappy that she was being mistreated in the relationship. I honestly do not know if she is physically abused, but given his tone, I can confidently say that she is emotionally mistreated. Maybe they married too early into establishing whether they were a good match and by the time she realized he was bad for her they had already had a child. She only returned to the van after the child spoke up. The need to care for the child exceeded her need to escape a toxic relationship. Whatever the reasoning for her getting together with the man, and whatever the reasoning for staying with him, it does not matter. What matters is that a woman is in a place she does not want to be, and a man is being aggressive toward her. Unfortunately, I can do nothing about it. My random coworker can do nothing about it. Our work security can do nothing about it. The police can do nothing about it.

But someone can.

Someone knows that family. At he fewest, there is one person who knows them and the situation at hand. If that scene transpired in random neighborhood in front of me and a coworker at the end of our workday, then it has reared its ugly head at home too. Perhaps one of their neighbors has heard the shouts, and maybe even has talked to someone in the family about it. A family member or friend of the family is sure to have at the least an inkling of what goes on between that husband and wife. I do not know them. I do not know where they live. I do not know how often such shouting occurs. But someone, somewhere does.

It is easy to feel helpless when you see signs of domestic abuse. It is frustrating for me to think back on and wonder if I did enough. Is there something I could have done more? I don’t know if it’s more frustrating to think that I could have done something and didn’t, or that I couldn’t have done anything else. Either way, the real key to stopping this from happening is to address it when I see it. If I knew someone was being abused – and remember that not all abuse shows in physical scars – I would report it. I’d tell whomever I needed to in order to prevent it from continuing. I might seek counsel from my mother, or my best friends, or my mentors, but I would share the information I needed to with the proper parties, and always including in those in any situation of abuse is the police. When I know with absolute certainty, and even when I just have a really weird feeling about it, I will report abuse to the police because at the very least, a report will be filed and that inclination of abuse will be marked. If enough “maybe, I’m not positive, but it just seems like something’s happening” reports come in, the authorities can take a closer look. We cannot let the fear of staining someone’s reputation scare us away from the possibility that they may be the one ruining someone’s life. Speak up when you see or suspect abuse. Even if it is a friend or family member, an abuser has a victim, and we need to do our part to protect the victim and not the abuser.

Thanks for reading, and good luck to you all in making the world a better and safer place for everyone. If you believe you know of a domestic abuse situation, please contact the local authorities, or at least share it with the National Domestic Abuse Hotline.

Thank you,

Alex

It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to a good person. Last week, a friend and coworker of mine from college passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer. Fighter that she was, she made the most of her final years after being diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer by sharing what she had with the rest of the world. What she had was a happy talent to teach, and she employed it as a teacher, not just in the classroom, but as a mentor to her friends as well. She taught me a fair amount and helped to expand my education in life in the classes that we shared, in the social situations our friends encountered, and of course, in how to work the copier in the university mailroom we worked in. I will miss her greatly, and I know many others will too, especially her amazing husband who was unfazed by the knowledge that their time together would be cut short. I hope that all who knew her will find solace in each other’s company, and that we all can remember her fondly for the wonderful person she was.

I encourage everyone to visit the Colorectal Cancer Alliance website and find a run/walk or other fundraiser event to participate in so that no one else loses a friend too early to colorectal cancer. Thank you.

Rest in Peace, Darcy.

 

Alex

Next Stop: Space!

We’re still roughly a month away from Mach 1 Day, the celebration of Chuck Yeager’s historic first supersonic flight on October 14, 1947, but this is too important of a date in the annals of aviation to pass up on until then. September 17th is also a major day for introducing not one, but two of the most important aircraft ever flown, and yes, they both broke the sound barrier. In fact, to put it lightly, they each fucking shattered it!

In the mid-1950s, the United States was cruising through the air with numerous supersonic planes and had already surpassed Mach 1, Mach 2, and Mach 3. Of course, when it comes to the field of aviation, there’s truly nowhere to go but up, and you always can go up farther. The US wanted to hit hypersonic speeds, otherwise known as speeds of Mach 5-7, and they wanted to do it for one big reason, the biggest of all in fact: space.

In 1954, the US military sought to commission a hypersonic aircraft that could land on its own. After a four company competition which included Bell Aviation, the creator of the Bell X-1 that Yeager flew in 1947, the winner was announced. No design (and price) blew away the Air Force and NACA (the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics that would in October 1958 be transferred into the new government agency known as NASA), but they were most favorable toward North American Aviation’s mock-up and ordered three to be built. Another company, Reaction Motors, was tasked to construct the rocket-powered engines for the aircraft.

The North American X-15 was tested out a bit after its construction, and it was formally unveiled on September 17, 1959, ushering in an exciting era of extreme aerial speed. All black with a unique design (see above) to help manage the craft’s aerodynamics at hypersonic speeds, the X-15, like other rocketplanes, was flown up attached to the undercarriage of a larger mothership – in this case a B-52 Stratofortress – then dropped to open up its rocket thrust.

The X-15 had twelve total pilots, including Neil Armstrong, future first man on the Moon, and Scott Crossfield who was the first man to fly beyond Mach 2. But for as impressive as Crossfield’s Mach achievement was, it was nothing compared to those of Major Robert White. White was a test pilot in the United States Air Force who made the first flights beyond Mach 4 and Mach 5, but he was not even close to calling it there. On November 9, 1961, Major Robert White became the first person to push past Mach 6. Yeah, Mach 6! He flew the X-15 to 4093 miles per hour (6590 km/hr)!

But wait, there’s more! Two years later, in both July and August of 1963, Joseph A. Walker topped the X-15’s altitude mark by flying it beyond 62 miles (100 kilometers) above sea level. This mark is referred to as the Karman Line, and it marks the boundary of Earth and Space. That’s right, Walker flew a plane into Outer Space. He holds the distinction of being the the seven American to travel to Space and was granted the title of astronaut for having left the confines of Earth’s atmosphere. Unfortunately, as was the case with too many test pilots, Walker died three years later in a midair collision during another test flight.

The X-15 was a remarkable plane that was the world’s first spaceplane, and still holds the record for altitude achieved by a plane, as well as speed, which it officially maxed out with William Knight’s 1967 flight that reached Mach 6.72, or 4520 mph (7274 km/h)! We’ll focus on Knight’s tenure as a pilot here, and not drift into his later years as politician in California who wrote the infamous Proposition 22 that banned gay marriage in the state and was openly defied by Knight’s own son David who married his partner in San Francisco in 2004.

The amazing X-15 was slated to be the first step in hypersonic space flight with a winged plane. Projects like Dyna-Soar were to carry on it’s legacy and take it to even higher heights. However, NASA and the USAF would shift their focus to rockets like the Mercury Redstone to reach the realm of Outer Space. They would come back to a winged vehicle that could operate in Space and land itself though. More familiar than the X-15 was the spacecraft that probably what most people think of when they hear the word “spaceplane”.

Once again, on September 17th, this time in 1976, another winged wonder was rolled out. With the primary goal of operating in Space and returning on its own power to Earth, the space shuttle made its debut with prototypical craft Enterprise. Originally supposed to bear the name Constitution, the power of fandom intervened, and then-President Gerald Ford was inundated with letters from Trekkies requesting the name be changed to Enterprise. Ford liked the name, and he requested NASA change it. Thus the Star Trek fans were appeased, and more importantly, the world’s first space shuttle was displayed. Though Enterprise never went into orbit, its following fellow craft did from 1981-2011, rocketing along a road that was first paved by the likes of fast craft like the X-15.

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to learn more about the X-15, then check out this piece from HistoryNet. I found it quite interesting and educational. If you express any interest in my writings, then please send me your feedback, or suggestions for the future at monotrememadness@gmail.com. Be sure to zip back here next week for more high-flying fun!

I’m a Rocketman! ROCKETMAN!

Alex

P.S. Congrats to Holly Ridings, the new chief flight director at NASA who is the first female to hold the position!

Smokey Sausage and the Bundit

Toledo, Ohio is a a mid-major Midwestern city in the northwest corner of the state, and is the fourth largest city in population behind Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland. While not as well known worldwide as the three Cs, Toledo does have a few key claims to fame to boast. For one, the most famous minor league team, the Toledo Mud Hens, hail from there (I don’t care about who Kevin Costner played for in Bull Durham, and besides, I’m mad at them for knocking the Hens out of the International League playoffs on Saturday). Tying into what made the Mud Hens a more household name is Toledo’z most famous actor – no, not Katie Holmes, but Jamie Farr! Best known for playing Corporal Maxwell Klinger on M*A*S*H, Jamie Farr is a native Toledoan who made the most of his originally intended brief appearances to become a staple character on the show. It probably helped that he played a man so eager to get out of the Korean War that he resorted to wearing gaudy dresses to be labeled cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and be sent home. He worked his own hometown heritage into the role, and Klinger proudly touted Toledo standards like the Mud Hens; even occasionally trading a dress for a baseball jersey.

Farr’s Klinger was also integral in putting another piece of Toledo onto the national scene, and that is Tony Packo’s Cafe. Tony Packo opened his first restaurant in 1932 and sold sausage sandwiches. He purchased a larger establishment three years later, and upgraded the sandwiches too. Packo added chili to the sandwich, which in truth was more of a hot dog. In fact, the sausage was advertised as a “Hungarian hot dog” (it’s like the Hungarian version of a Polish kielbasa), and it is still served today at all Packo’s restaurants located only around Toledo. Mentions on M*A*S*H brought visitors from all around, and reciprocated love for Farr and the show are apparent in each eatery. Also abounding in every one of the hot dog havens is another decoration that is entirely unique to the local chain, but that was started by another celebrity….

In 1972, Tony Packo’s was doing all right. It may not have yet been noticed nationally, but that was not far off as Klinger and company were just hitting TV screens in M*A*S*H, but it was a local favorite in Toledo as it had been for decades. An actor was traveling through town along with a stage production of The Rainmaker -not the John Grisham crime story, but the N. Richard Nash play about a Depression-era ranchers. This actor had starred in a few television series, including Westerns and a police drama. He wasn’t a huge name, but he was known, and more importantly, he was known to Nancy Packo, Tony’s daughter. She wrote to the actor and encouraged him to come to her father’s cafe. Hey, an actor’s got to eat, the same as the rest of us, why not eat the best Toledo has to offer?

On night, after a performance of The Rainmaker, he came! He came, he ate, he conquered, and before he left he was asked by Nancy for an autograph. The actor grabbed a hot dog bun and signed his name right on it.

Image result for burt reynolds tony packo's hot dog bun

Burt Reynolds was the first person to sign a hot dog bun at Tony Packo’s Cafe, inadvertently kicking off a tradition that has seen over 1500 notable people from all walks of life signing one of the most uncommon autographs in their careers. Nowadays, the buns are not buns at all, but foam replicas that are airbrushed to look like buns and are easy to write on.

Of course, Burt Reynolds would go on to become even bigger, with a number of successful films, including his big break which came in that same year 1972, with the release of Deliverance. He also became known for turning down some roles that would go on to be successful; he actually was offered a lead role in the movie MASH that preceded the TV show. However, he still made a number of acclaimed films, many of which were big crowd pleasers and box office hits. Among his most memorable movies were The Longest Yard (1974), The Cannonball Run (1981), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982), Boogie Nights (1997) for which he earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, and his signature film Smokey and the Bandit (1977) where his onscreen chemistry with costar Sally Field carried over into a real-life relationship.

Burt Reynolds’ life in the spotlight had its ups and downs, but we can look back and smile at it and appreciate the fun he provided when he showed up onscreen. I can almost hear his infectious happy laugh now. Rest in peace, Burt.

Thanks for reading! If you ever find yourself in Toledo, then make a stop at Tony Packo’s for lunch or dinner and take a look at Burt’s bun and many of the others on the walls as you enjoy your Hungarian dog and spicy pickles. The white chicken chili and more traditional Hungarian items are pretty great too. If you want to learn more about the restaurant, check out their website and this brief segment that was featured on Dateline’s site:

As always, you can drop me a line at monotrememadness@gmail.com with any questions, comments, or suggestions. Be sure to hop in your Trans-Am and race back here next week for more fun.

Yahoo!

Alex

Making Mondays a little less Mondayish for all with words to educate, inspire, and try out my stand-up routine with.