Spinning Around the Spooky Side of the Web
by Jon F. Merz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Halloween is my favorite holiday.
Not only do I enjoy any holiday that can potentially scare the holy bejeezuz out of me (ask about my Christmas past when my Aunt Fran's ``Chia Head" used to make Jimmy Walker's 'fro look like a first week scalping at Paris Island boot camp), but any chance to let your alter ego(s) hang out is a prescription for fun in my book.
Halloween on the Web is no exception. Sure you don't get a search engine on the screen dressed up as an ecommerce site with a form pop-up window asking for treats, but you can find a boatload of weird stuff relating to this cool holiday.
First things first: Halloween is one of the only holidays when adults can act like kids (not to be confused with Valentine's Day when you'll find a lot of men whimpering because they bought a stupid gift). So to ensure a complete reversion, you'll need a kick-butt costume. Head over to http://www.halloweenstreet.com where they have a huge range of costumes. Simple, basic and inexpensive, this is one site where you'll get your dollar's worth.
Want to dress up as Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies? Check out http://www.hollywood-costumes.com/austinpowers/html/dr__evil.html for their collection of Austin gear. Unfortunately, they don't have a giant LA-ZER in stock. You can check out the rest of their movie get-ups at http://www.hollywood-costumes.com/ Know any people who spend a little too much time with their pets? Do they make them wear sweaters if the weather gets too cold? Then point them over to http://www.anniescostumes.com/dog.htm where they'll find costumes for their precious dog or cat. With names like ``Rambark" for a Rambo-esque camouflage getup, or ``Pom Pom Pup" you can just imagine how inane the poor creatures will look wearing these ridiculous things. I have a hard time stocking enough candy for the kids, now I have to import Milkbone dog treats too? Give me a break!
All dressed up and nowhere to go? Might I suggest (albeit timidly) the fifth annual Las Vegas Fantasy & Fetish Ball? Wander over to http://www.halloweenball.com and check out the fun and photos from last year's event. Held at the Tropicana Hotel, they enforce a strict dress code of wild and freaky costumes (you can also go in a tuxedo and formal attire) but ask that you do keep the privates (that's genitalia to you and me) covered. After all, you don't want to scare a junket full of slot machine homicidal mavens who haven't had any Geritol in 12 hours. That's just looking for trouble, friends. You do not throw down with a 70-year-old Granny who double fists one-armed bandits, no way...
Check out http://www.haunted.net for a huge listing of haunted houses, game ideas, costume parties and more. It's constantly updated with information about making Halloween the best it can be. It includes a state-by-state directory of professional haunted houses you can drag the family and friends to. You'll also find a listing of commercial and non-commercial haunted happenings at http://www.hauntfinder.com. Non-commercial haunted houses are always a treat because you never know how freaky it's going to get. Just be sure to let the local police department know you'll be going first in case you don't return, heh heh.
Carving a Jack O'Lantern is a time-honored tradition and one that can easily reflect your skill with a knife. If your pumpkins routinely look like they were mauled to death with a spork, odds are good you could use a refresher on how to whittle down that bright orange gourd on steroids. Your best bet is http://www.pumpkin-carving.com. That's right, there's a whole Web site devoted to making sure you cut and slash with the best of them. Detailed info about tools and step-by-step photos will help make you the owner of the neighborhood's hottest pumpkins.
Bake yourself up some spooky treats by visiting http://www.halloweenkitchen.com, where there are great recipes for cookies and cakes galore. Just don't make the mistake I did last year and give them out as treats. I'm still cleaning egg residue off my prized '73 Chevy Vega.
Yep, kids just dig brand-name candy more than they appreciate hard work and old-fashioned baking. And if you live in the middle of kid central like I do, head on over to the nice folks at the Candy Warehouse for the best prices on bulk candy sales. You don't have to be a store to get some deep discounts here. And it's always preferable to give out plenty of candy than untangle toilet paper from around your pine tree.
Spooky takes help bring Halloween alive and the Web is full of places to find a good chilling read. Check out http://www.halloweenghoststories.com for some scary works. I also like the ghost that bounces all over the screen. You can find a huge wealth of horror magazines and other twisted tales of speculative fiction by visiting http://www.horrornet.com. Small press magazines publish the liveliest and most cutting edge horror fiction seen anywhere. Why, some of these magazines even publish stories by a deranged chap named Jon F. Merz. Some people have no standards whatsoever...
Finally, http://www.halloween-online.com/ has some of the most in-depth Halloween links on the Web. Links to sites such as http://www.gotfog.com for all the best in fog machines really set this place apart.
But don't stop here. Drop ``Halloween" into your favorite search engine and you'll be amazed at what you find. And if you still need a real scare this Halloween, drop me a line and I'll send you a picture of my Aunt Fran.
Jon F. Merz freelances from Boston where he writes for the Atlantic Business Journal, Guyville.com among other publications. His past credits range from APBNews.com to World Rhythm Magazine as well as over two dozen short stories in various national and small press magazines.
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