The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Halloween Triple Header: (1) Derek McCormack’s Halloween ABCS: A selective history of the scariest night of the year, (2) How to Build a Fog Machine, (3) 20 Coffins *

* Halloween countdown post #19/restored


* borrowed from Taddle Creek

costume by Ian Phillips


A is for All Hallows Eve, or Halloween. All Hallows, also known as All Saints’ Day, takes place on November 1st. It is a day when Catholics celebrate those who have been beatified. All Souls’ Day is the day after All Saints’. The church decreed it a day to pray for those poor souls in purgatory—spirits suspended between heaven and hell. In the Middle Ages, the days were known collectively as Hallowtide. On the eve of All Souls’, churches would ring bells to scare away the dead. Some churches rang bells all night long.

B is for Robert Burns, the Scottish poet. Burns wrote “Halloween” in 1785. “Some merry, friendly, countra-folks / Together did convene, / To burn their nits, an’ pou their stocks, / An’ haud their Halloween / Fu’ blythe that night.” The poem refers to the Celtic Halloween custom of fortune-telling with nuts and apple peelings. Emigrating Scots brought the custom to Canada. Other Halloween customs carried here by Scots and Irish: bonfires, begging for food door to door, playing pranks on those who would not furnish food.

C is for Caledonian Society. Founded in Canada, in 1855, by affluent Scottish-Canadians, the Caledonian Society held banquets across Canada on Halloween. “We are not divining the future, or burning nuts, or catching the ‘snap apple,’ but [we are] celebrating Scottishness,” a speaker told Caledonians in Montreal, in 1885. In Toronto, George Brown was active in the Caledonians. Halloween here was a night of feasts: besides the Caledonian Society, different regiments of the military held a Halloween dinner, as did colleges at the University of Toronto. A meat market ran this ad on October 29, 1903: “HALLOWE’EN POULTRY. We are having heavy enquiries already.”

D is for Dennison Manufacturing Company. “You would be surprised,” said a young lady in Bookseller and Stationer magazine, in 1924, “how many people give Hallowe’en parties the last two weeks of October.” The young lady worked at a Toronto store. She supervised the crêpe-paper department. Dennison Manufacturing, of Framingham, Massachusetts, was the country’s main maker of crêpe paper. Dennison had a Toronto office in the early nineteen-hundreds. It was located on Wellington Street West. They were the first to sell yellow, orange, and black crêpe paper. They sold crêpe paper printed with owls, bats, jack-o’-lanterns, black cats with arched backs. They published The Bogie Book, the Bible of Halloween party guides. Place cards, Spanish moss, blindfolds, costumes—The Bogie Book told how to make them all from Dennison crêpe paper. Crêpe paper is combustible. The parties were firetraps.

E is for Eaton’s. “Don’t Miss The Hallowe’en Parade,” read an Eaton’s ad in the Toronto Daily Star, in 1929. The Eaton’s Santa Claus Parade involved several floats and many paraders. The Hallowe’en Parade? “A big pompous general will lead Felix, Bluebeard—A gypsy, a Zulu, and other familiar folk in a march around Toyland.”

F is for Frankenstein. Billy Pratt was a British lad. In 1909, he was flunking out of King’s College London. He was studying Chinese customs and languages; he wanted to act. He travelled to Canada and wound his way to Toronto. The Canada Company office found him work in Hamilton. Pratt became a farmer, but after three months, he drifted westward, working as a ditch digger, a tree cutter. Soon he convinced a stock company in Kamloops, British Columbia, to let him join the troupe. He changed his name to Boris Karloff. Karloff was a surname of some of his relatives; Boris was a name he said he “plucked out of the cold Canadian air.” Karloff toured Alberta and Saskatchewan, then he headed to Hollywood. His role as the monster in Frankenstein made him a star.


G is for ghost.


H is for Dr. H. H. Holmes. Holmes built himself a hotel in 1893, in Chicago, that boasted, in the words of the crime writer Connie Fillipelli, “iron-plated rooms, secret passages, hidden chutes that ended in the basement directly above zinc-lined tanks, sealed rooms with gas jets, stairways that led nowhere . . . trapdoors, a dissecting table, surgeons’ tools.” The building was a blueprint for every carnival and amusement park haunted house to come. It’s believed Holmes murdered more than a hundred people there. Then he went on the lam, landing in Toronto. He buried more bodies in the basement of a house near Barrie, Ontario. Pinkerton detectives shadowed him. Again he fled. They nabbed him in Boston, tried him in Philadelphia. In 1896 he was hanged.

I is for Isabel Grace Mackenzie. She died in 1917 and was survived by her son, William Lyon Mackenzie King. Mackenzie King became the prime minister of Canada. He hung a portrait of Isabel in his study, and kept it lit night and day. He spoke to her through a Ouija board and a crystal ball. He contacted her during séances. On October 6, 1935, his dead mother communicated the following to him: “Long ago I dreamt that you would succeed Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Long ago I knew God meant you to be prime minister. Long ago I [more than] knew that God meant that you would serve His holy will. Good night.” King was buried beside his mother in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.


J is for jack-o’-lantern.


K is for kisses. “Ducking for apples is rather out of late,” said the Everywoman’s Column of the Toronto Daily Star, in 1913. The topic: suggestions for Halloween parties. What did the column recommend? A taffy pull. “For the taffy pull, pull the taffy from buttered plates and save mother’s busy hands next day.” A taffy pull fulfilled two functions: it provided entertainment, and it provided eats. For hosts who didn’t have time to cook candy, stores sold it. At Halloween, a confectioner called Hunt’s sold a “Taffy Sucker, Face on Stand” for a nickel. In 1925, Eaton’s advertised a variety of taffies for Halloween: “peanut crisp, cocoanut and peanut, peanut and butterscotch.” During the Depression, the molasses kiss grew in popularity. No one seems to know why. Maybe molasses was cheaper than the ingredients for taffy? “Just In Time For Hallowe’en Parties,” read an ad from Loblaw’s, in 1933, “HALLOWEEN KISSES.” Fifteen cents bought a one-pound bag.


L is for lycanthropy. O is for owl.


M is for David Manners, who played the handsome John Harker in Dracula. Manners was born in Halifax. His real name: Rauff de Ryther Daun Acklom. He studied forestry at the University of Toronto, and acted at Hart House Theatre. He hightailed it to Hollywood, where James Whale spotted him at a party. Whale cast him in his directorial debut, Journey’s End. Manners went on to work with directors Frank Capra and George Cukor. Tod Browning cast him in Dracula. In The Mummy, Manners played opposite Boris Karloff. In The Black Cat he starred with both Bela Lugosi and Karloff. He eventually abandoned the movies. Some suggest he quit, in part, because his studio suggested he marry a woman (Manners was gay). Retiring from acting, he retreated to the California desert. He wrote novels, and died in 1998. Horror movies, he once said, were his “only claim to movie fame.”

N is for noise. Making noise was at the heart of Halloween in its early days. Revellers tossed rocks and mud at windows and doors. They crafted noisemakers from tin cans, wooden spools, roofing tiles. A mid-century Halloween package produced for Canadian schoolteachers included instructions for making a Halloween megaphone. As early as 1900, Halloween noisemakers were being produced in Germany and exported to the United States. Styles for sale included horns, rattles, cranks, snappers, and clappers. “Weird Spirits a-gamboling,” said a 1913 ad for Mason and Risch Limited, of Toronto. “Witch Caps—Pumpkin Heads—Dominoes—Flowing Robes—Holed-Out Eyes. Strange phantasies they are! Yet, who and WHAT are they? Listen, then, they are the phantom witcheries of Hallowe’en!” The ad was peddling the Victor Victrola. “To sit snugly around the open fire, revelling in all the mystic rhythms of this bewitching fairyland of Hallowe’en, conjured up so wonderfully by the little Victrola, will make the evening’s frolics complete!” Which mystic rhythms did the store recommend? “The Dance o’ the Fairies,” “Peer Gynt,” and “Will-of-the-Wisp.”

P is for Philip Morris. In the nineteen-fifties he toured across Canada performing in a ghost show—a magic show with supernatural and horrific effects. His stage name: Dr. Evil. To garner publicity, he’d arrive early in a town and pull stunts. Drive a car blindfolded. Raffle off a “dead body.” The dead body was a frozen chicken. The R.C.M.P. once arrested him for dressing as a gorilla in public. Years later he invented an artificial spiderweb made of cloth. He made a killing.

Q is for Kew Beach. In 1945, Halloween hooligans burnt bonfires on Queen Street East. To feed the fire, they tore down fences and gates. Police were called. When they rode up on horses, they were pelted with stones and bricks. Hooligans blocked fire trucks with piles of concrete blocks. Thirteen troublemakers were taken in. A mob of seven thousand marched on the Main Street police station, hell-bent on springing the hooligans. Police cruisers rushed to the scene with tear gas. Water cannons dispersed the rioters. Five firemen were injured, as were a couple of cops.

R is for rides. Leon Cassidy needed a “dark ride.” In 1928, Cassidy was the co-owner of a small amusement park in New Jersey. Lots of amusement parks had an “old mill” ride: boats floated riders down canals decorated with scary scenery. Cassidy couldn’t afford to build a boat ride. So he put dodgem cars on a twisted track in a darkened pavilion. The Pretzel, he called it. It was a sensation. He started the Pretzel Amusement Ride Company to provide Pretzel rides to amusement parks across the continent. In 1930, he came to Canada. He put down a floor base at the Canadian National Exhibition. He laid tracks on the base, then covered them in a black tent, covered by another tent. It was probably the first cartable dark ride on a midway anywhere.

S is for slogans. “Trick or treat!” It’s what children scream on Halloween. But “trick or treat” didn’t become the customary catchphrase in Toronto until sometime around the Second World War. Before then, kids yelled, “Shell out!” “HALLOWE’EN” said an ad for a grocery store chain, in 1929, “with its joyous merriment. . . . SHELLIN’ OUT to the district cut-ups, guessing who the strange figure is who knocks on your door.” From a Loblaw’s ad during the Depression: “When You Hear the Ultimatum! SHELL OUT. Be Ready with LOBLAW’S HALLOWE’EN KISSES.”

T is for Bill Tracy, a sculptor and engineer from New Jersey. In the nineteen-fifties, he revolutionized carnival dark rides by adding supernatural back-glows, glow-in-the dark stunts, trompe l’oeil to the decor. He created themed rides like the western ghost town and the haunted pirate ship. Sadly, he never invented safety features, like fire escapes. Wiring was makeshift. His rides tended to go up in flames. Very few still stand. The dark ride at Toronto’s Centreville Amusement Park—the Haunted Barrel Works—is decorated in a distinctly Tracy mode. And it is safe.

U is for University of Toronto. According to the historian Keith Walden, spontaneous Halloween celebrations erupted on campus in 1884. Students marched into the downtown core, singing, shattering lampposts, egging Eaton’s. Police dispersed them. Torontonians complained. The parade became an annual event. In 1899 students barged into the peanut gallery at Massey Hall, disrupting the evening’s performance. Veterinary students dangled dead horse parts over the balcony. Medical students banged human arm and leg bones. Some students slit open a political effigy, showering the audience below with chaff, hay, and excelsior. Hector Charlesworth, the future editor of Saturday Night, was sitting in the pit. His suit was ruined.


V is for vampire. Z is for zombie.


W is for whoopee cushion. In the early twentieth century, an American named S. S. Adams invented a plethora of classic pranks: dribble glasses, joy buzzers, sneezing powder. In 1930, a Canadian “rubber concern” approached him with a new novelty—a bladder that made a farting sound when someone sat on it. The rubber concern? The Jem Rubber Company, headquartered in Toronto, on Dundas Street West. It produced parts for printing companies. Adams turned down the fart cushion, so Jem manufactured it on its own. It was green, with a wooden nozzle. Stamped on the face was a picture of a Scottish lad. He sported spurs and a sporran, and carried a rifle. Wouldn’t bagpipes have been the obvious visual pun? The whoopee cushion was a sensation, even during the Depression. Adams ended up coming out with a copy of the Canadian cushion—the razzberry cushion, he called it.

X is for XEPN, a Mexican border-blaster radio station near the Rio Grande. In the late nineteen-twenties and early thirties, Bob Nelson and his brother Larry hosted an astrology show on the station. Listeners sent in a dollar and, in return, the Nelsons sent them a mimeographed horoscope. The Nelsons also operated Nelson Enterprises, of Columbus, Ohio, which supplied mediums and mentalists with fake fortune-telling equipment—mind-reading codes, mechanical crystal balls, two-way radios that could be concealed under capes or in turbans. “Be it distinctly understood,” said their 1931 mail-order catalogue, “that all effects described in this catalogue are accomplished by normal means, and are entirely divorced from any supernatural or supernormal powers.”

Y is for yellow. “Green and red have come [to] be the Christmas colors,” said a newspaper article from 1925, “just as black and yellow tell us of Hallowe’en.” An article in Bookseller and Stationer, from 1925, advised those celebrating Halloween to obtain “yellow and black crêpe paper for decorative purposes.” In 1927, an ad for crêpe paper in that same magazine recommended “Orange and Black for Hallowe’en.” In coming years, orange and black would come to be considered the Halloween palette par excellence. What changed? Why did yellow fade out and orange fill in?





How to Build a Fog Machine
by Allen

‘This is our home-made fog machine. It uses the same regular fog juice used in store-bought fog machines. You can buy the juice from Terror by Design, Spencers, or party/theatrical supply stores (check your yellow pages). You can also make your own juice. It’s less expensive, but there may be legal issues if the general public is going to breathe your fog. According to the Halloween-L archives: “For fog juice, mix 15% to 35% glycerin to distilled water. Experiment, the less glycerin you use the cheaper and cleaner your fog will be but it will also be lighter and not last as long.” You don’t have to use distilled water with my fog machine design because there’s no heat exchanger to get clogged. You can get small amounts of glycerin at a drug store, or larger amounts from restaurant supply companies.

‘A piston air pump (bought at the local surplus store for $5) squirts the juice onto an inverted, disassembled iron (bought at a garage sale for $1). The iron is on all the time. It’s held above the juice by long bolts from the bottom of the box. The wooden box is sealed and waterproofed inside with a kind of paint called C.R.A.E. (Corrosion-Resistant Acrylic Enamel.) Any thick, waterproof paint will work. If you build something like this, be certain to keep enough space between the wood and the iron, you don’t want to start a fire! Any device like this should be thoroughly tested before being used unattended. Heat it up without juice in it to be sure it won’t burst into flames when it runs out of juice.

‘The juice is pumped into a metal tube 4 inches above the iron with several pin-holes in it to distribute the juice over the hot surface. The heat vaporizes the juice into fog. Fans (salvaged from an old computer) on both ends of the box blow the fog out the front of the machine. Unvaporized juice runs back down into the reservoir. The intake for the pump is a metal tube glued to the side of the box with water-proof epoxy. It’s bent 90 degrees at the bottom and the end is covered with a screen to keep little bits of junk out of the pump.

‘The pump is mounted on the back of the box so it will be cooled by the flow of air. The fan and pump run on 12v, and the iron plugs in of course. A 15 foot control wire allows the operator to turn the fans on and off and the squirt the juice.

‘We built this machine back when the cheapest fog machines were $300. Today, small machines can be bought for as little as $30. Unless you’ve already got all the parts in your junk box, or can get them second hand, it might not be worth it to build this machine.

‘This type of fog will not hang close to the ground unless you cool it below the ambient air temperature. To create this desired effect, you need to build a fog chiller.’


How to Build a Chiller
by Scott

‘Parts: Cooler, Two 4″ dryer ducts (short sections), silicone caulk, tools to cut plastic, screen or netting, Flexible dryer hose, two 90 degree angle ducting, one 4″ to 2″ reduction ducting.

‘I built this out of a $15.00 Coleman cooler I got at Target the whole thing cost about $25.00. I started by marking the holes on the sides of the cooler to the size of the dryer duct and cutting them out. I first drilled holes around the line I marked then knocked out the plastic and foam core then smoothed up the edges until the dryer duct fit snug. I used silicone to seal the duct inside and out, it takes about 24 hours to cure. I then fitted netting around the inside of the dryer duct on both sides to prevent ice from falling out. I then put flexible dryer hose on one end and a set of 90 degree angle ducting pieces on the other. A reducing duct piece (4″ to 2″) will attach to the angle pieces. The 2″ end sits in front of the fogger nozzle and delivers the fog to the cooler and ice, then blows cool fog out of the dryer hose end creating a low lying fog.

‘I use regular ice from the corner liquor store and fill the cooler to the top with the ice sloping from the top to the bottom of the in/out ducts. This takes about three bags. The ice needs to be high enough to cause the fog to go through and around it, but not covering up the ducts. Some people may try dry ice in the cooler, I hear this works well. Enjoy.’


Nine Magical Results





‘This huge casket, which is 20 metres long, six metres wide and six metres high, is decorated with wreaths and dozens of normal-sized coffins. Morbid diners can browse the funeral paraphernalia before ordering from a menu that includes “Nine Day” and “Forty Day” salads – named after local mourning rituals – and an ominous-sounding dish called “Let’s meet in paradise”. The coffin restaurant, called Eternity, is the work of a funeral parlour in the town of Truskavets, in the west of the country near the Polish border. The undertakers hope that their restaurant will be confirmed as the world’s biggest coffin, attracting tourists to a region best known for its mineral-rich bathing waters. “It’s our director Stepan Pyrianyk who had the idea,” said Andri, one of those behind the new enterprise. “He loves his work and reckons the project will bring tourists to Truskavets.”’ —



Vic Fearn and Co.





‘Vitaly Malyukov, a Russian inventor, has designed caskets outfitted with alarm buttons for those buried alive by mistake. His invention includes a circular device (containing special membranes), which is mounted in a casket. Should a person recover consciousness, he will spot it right away because the device will be glowing red. A person buried alive will have to press that “alarm button” to raise the alarm at a control panel in the office of a cemetery caretaker. The alarm is designed to show which grave have signs of life, so to speak. No word on pricing or availability as of yet.’ — New Launches



Joe Scanlan
DIY or How to Kill Yourself Anywhere in the World for Under $399
Gent, Belgium: Imschoot. 2002

Synopsis: Book providing complete diagrams for obtaining ten items from Ikea to be utilized in preparing your own funeral – inclusive of flower arrangements and a coffin. Using simple tools and just about no skills, you too can do-it-yourself for under $399 in just about any major city in the world. Basic hand tools, taxes, cell phone roaming charges, and embalming not included. Highly recomended in these troubled times. Add it to your wishlist





Vic Fearn and Co.



US Patent No. 81,437
Issued: August 25, 1868
Inventor: Franz Vester, Newark NJ

“The nature of this invention consists in placing on the lid of the coffin, and directly over the face of the body laid therein, a square tube, which extends from the coffin up through and over the surface of the grave, said tube containing a ladder and a cord, one end of said cord being placed in the hand of the person laid in the coffin, and the other end of said cord being attached to a bell on the top of the square tube, so that, should a person be interred ere life is extinct, he can, on recovery to consciousness, ascend from the grave and the coffin by the ladder; or, if not able to ascend by said ladder, ring the bell, thereby giving an alarm, and thus save himself from premature burial and death; and if, on inspection, life is extinct, the tube is withdrawn, the sliding door closed, and the tube used for a similar purpose. . . “





Dodger Blue Coffin Couch

‘We at have the mindset of thinking “Green” and we know it is different but we strongly believe in recycling. Our niche happens to be 18 gauge steel coffins which we collected from local funeral homes primarily in Southern California. It is a health and safety law that funeral homes cannot resell used coffins to the general public. We approached funeral directors with the attitude of recycling. These coffins are not used for burial due to slight cosmetic inconsistencies. They are reconfigured and modified resulting in a finished product – a unique one a kind coffin couch. If you notice (although it may be too small) the six cast iron heavy duty legs are embossed with the universal biohazard insignia. The reason we utilize this sign is because safety is our utmost concern. If you are not aware, once a human body is placed in a coffin it is considered biohazard tissue. The legs have the embossed insignia for precautionary reasons in the event body fluids are exchanged on these coffins. Perhaps you would feel safe knowing that you are in designated biohazard scene.’







‘A trio of Brooklyn College graduate students believe they can turn the collective unrest of the City into beautiful music. Jared Mezzocci, David Gladden and Tara Gladden have constructed an enormous coffin, roughly eight-feet high by four-feet wide, and are calling on New Yorkers to place within the casket that which they want to see dead. Intended to be a living work of art demonstrating that evil can be turned to good, the piece, entitled “Coffin It Up,” will be taken around the City so that those who come across it can write on its interior things they would like to see dead. At the end of its tour the coffin will be sealed and turned into a cello-like instrument, to be played at an as-yet-determined concert venue. The idea, said David Gladden, is to turn negative energy into positive song.’ — Village Voice



Vic Fearn and Co.



‘For the Ga tribe in coastal Ghana, funerals are a time of mourning, but also of celebration. The Ga people believe that when their loved ones die, they move on into another life — and the Ga make sure they do so in style. They honor their dead with brightly colored coffins that celebrate the way they lived. The coffins are designed to represent an aspect of the dead person’s life — such as a car if they were a driver, a fish if their livelihood was the sea — or a sewing machine for a seamstress. They might also symbolize a vice — such as a bottle of beer or a cigarette.’ — GhanaWeb



Uono, a Köln-based coffin manufacturer, offers The Cocoon, designed by Andreas Spiegel. Lightweight (20kg) and made from a soy-based resin and lined with jute, the coffin decomposes in 10-15 years and can also be used for cremation.You’ll rest comfortably in the white cotton or silk liner. It features a water-based varnish and is CO2 neutral. The coffins are finished by hand are available in 14 colors, or use their Haute Couture program to design custom color of your choice. You can pre-order your coffin so your loved ones won’t have to lay you to rest in something less aesthetically pleasing. Delivery is 3 days in Germany, and shipping elsewhere will take more time. The Cocoon will cost you (or your loved ones) $3,500.’ —



Combining ideas of early gothic architecture and simple line to create this dynamic and powerful structure. Comes apart quickly to create your final place of rest. Made with birch veneer, solid birch, pine, with burgundy velvet bedding. After the casket is removed the remaining two sides slide together and can be used for years to come. $6495 from



Cofanifunebri’com’s 2008 Coffin Calendar





‘This year for its annual Halloween makeover event Fright Fest, Six Flags is introducing the creepy Coffin of Fear. For this new Fright Fest attraction, the squeamish need not apply. Each participating guest will lie in a coffin which will be filled with meal worms then sent on a terrifying journey through a maze packed with monsters, ghosts, shocks, and horrors. Guests must remain in the mealwormy coffin for the duration of the three minute ride in order to win a prize.’ —




p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. From what I can tell, the French reaction to the Pittsburgh massacre doesn’t vary so much from the general left-of-right US reaction. There’s been a problem with anti-Semitism in France for quite a while. I don’t know that there’s been a recent uptick. The recent uptick of note was a sudden increase in anti-LGBTQ attacks, a surprisingly large number in Paris and its burbs over the course of a couple of weeks. Very, very unusual for Paris. There was a public outcry about that and a large solidarity march here, and the flurry attacks seem to have stopped, for now at least. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Didn’t know about Haneke’s tutelage, but that’s makes sense, of course. Yeah, I remember ‘ItMoM’ kind of drifting by viewers and critics at the time. I figured the meta-, self-reflexive thing Carpenter did in that film was so unexpected from him that critics didn’t know what to think. Because, as I recall, it’s almost a kind of less heady, less structural ‘Providence’ kind of film in its own way. Well, that paranoid fit scene certainly has the potential to function as you wish. ** MakeAmericanKeatonAgain, Ha ha, wow, nice word ramming there. Hm. Huh. Now I’m kind of scared to get that app even though I’m a non-believer. Or … (thunder clap) … am I? Handkerchief mopping the brow-type great news about your test results, man. Good on you from me for the Gillum vote. Paris is semi-freezing cold and raining if you like walking that version of Paris. I do. ** _Black_Acrylic, That’s interesting that you feel you need the title first. I don’t think I do that, do I? I don’t think so. I like that methodology. Your plans sound like accomplishments already. ** Bill, Hi. Well, there probably won’t be anything in the Molinaro post you haven’t seen before, given the paucity, but it’ll have the patented DC’s post arrangement to hopefully gussy it up. Even though it’s somehow fitting that Halloween week would occasion a brutal week, that so sucks, and I wish you related wings of a dove. Wow. ** Dominik,. Hi! Well, I suspect my Halloween is going to end up being me at my computer watching a horror movie or two, meaning it will only differ from many other days of my life in that my screen will hold a horror movie rather than some experimental avant-garde film. But it’s okay. Halloween lives in the heart. (I cannot believe I just typed that, and it’s not even true!) No, no date on the Prague show. I should check in with the curator. Cool you liked ‘Destroy All Monsters.’ It seems like kind of the ‘it’ book of the moment. Whoo-hoo! A weekend full of reading sounds so nice to me whose weekend involved kind of the opposite aka expelling words, and not great ones either. It was quiet otherwise. Some seeming great PGL news, but we’ll see. I went back to Le Manoir de Paris with Gisele last night, and she was crazy about it, as I hoped she would be. You have a great week, and especially a scary, mind-blowing Halloween if at all possible! ** Jamie, Hi, Jamie. I’m good enough. I’m happy the Seidel post was timely and mentally invigorating. So nice when that happens. Hm, I don’t really have a fave of his films. I’ve seen I think four, maybe five? And I found all of them interesting, but none caused the array to form into a hierarchy. ‘Dog Days’ is the most famous, controversial one. Today will occasion the do-or-die Halloween pastry hunt. I’ll give you the thumbs, up or down. Monday was work then, as I told Dominik, revisiting La Manoir de Paris with Gisele. It was just as great the second time, and Gisele was fascinated by it, as I had thought she might be, and now she’s re-excited about this long planned, long dead-as-a-doornail Halloween walk through maze theater piece that we were going to make years ago again. Today is, ugh, script work, and, hm, pastry hunting and, uh, emails, and, err, work on a new gif story that I’ve been slowly fiddling together. Not a biggie. Yours? I can never top your Tuesday wish. It’s definitive. I surrender. However, I still hope your Tuesday buries an axe into the heads of everyone else’s Tuesdays. Except mine. Exceptional love, Dennis. ** Mark Stephens, Mark! Mega-too long no see or speak or type, my dear pal! I thought of you first of all when I read that the Dodgers did their characteristic nosedive. Hugs. Halloween! And me stuck here where there is none, or next to none. Please tell me you’ll mark that occasion with a whomp. Man, no sweat on the missing thing, and I’ll force you out of that hillside joint or barge my way in one way or another the next time I’m there, soon I hope. That is most peculiar and intriguing about The Flesheaters doing ‘Green Manalishi’. And hard to imagine. Which is the where the intrigue comes in. I’ll find it. It’ll surely end up somewhere where I can access it. It’ll have to be something to beat The Melvins’ cover, but apples and oranges, obviously. Man, miss you majorly up the wazoo, buddy. Give J my hugs, cheek kisses, the whole shebang. Let’s talk again pronto, please? Big olde love, me. ** Misanthrope, I forgive you on the haunted house thing. I was projecting myself into you which is always a faulty approach. I saw Johnny Depp in person a long time ago sitting in a French style cafe near my LA pad, and he looked surly. That’s all I remember. I see celebs here in Paris quite a lot, partly because I happen to live in a fashionable area through no wanting of my own. Most of the ones I’ve seen looked essentially like their famous, 2D versions but with less makeup. And shorter. Bono looks like a weird freak, but he kind of does in print too, but not a freaky as he looks close up. Britney Spears looks about ten years older. Kanye and Kim look like giant insects dressed in overly shiny, inexpensive Kanye and Kim costumes. Etc. I don’t think it would be possible for a TV show called ‘This Is Us’ to not be miserable. I can imagine that being in those TC groups would be an interesting way to study the effect of loneliness on the libidos of asocial people and consequently on their use of language. ** Nikolas, Hi, man! Great to see you! As I told someone, I don’t seem to have found myself preferring any films of his that I’ve seen for some reason. I sort of just enjoy his thing’s drift or something. ‘Dog Days’ is the most famous one, maybe for a reason? Very interesting: your non-fiction-blur-fiction aim. Mm, I’ve rarely ever written with the express purpose in mind of enunciating my autobiography, but I do often go for that blur. I sort of set off looking for a fusing from the outset, but I’m not sure how I do that. I feel like reticence is somehow a by-word. Wanting to reveal but not wanting to impose? I’m not sure. Great question. The ARTE script  is proceeding and happening at a sort of steady but extremely laborious and fun-free pace. It’s all about explaining, because that’s what ARTE wants, without seeming to explain, and it’s very hard. But it’s happening. Since Halloween really doesn’t happen in France, I’m a bit stuck about how to celebrate it. How about you? How will you utilise the immediate availability of Halloween’s resources? Big up, pal. ** Kyler, My pleasure, of course. Happy to have been your Spellcheck, a talent I never knew I had before now. Cool. Halloween, tomorrow, whatcha doing? ** Okay. Reposting Derek McCormack’s lovely alphabetised Halloween is an annual affair here at DC’s, and I thought, given that Halloween is tomorrow, eek, I would throw in a couple of extra ghost posts from the past. See you tomorrow!


  1. David Ehrenstein

    Merci pour le Paris update

    The funerals will begin in Pittsburgh today. Trump and his bought-and-paid-for whore are supposed to be showing up. Ifthey do I hope Pittsburgh greets them with a massive chorus of Boos.

  2. Steve Erickson

    I thought of ITOTM as Carpenter’s equivalent of VIDEODROME, but maybe it baffled critics and viewers at the time because it’s the only film he’s made which seems like an art/horror hybrid (despite the references to Cocteau & Godard in PRINCE OF DARKNESS.) It now looks like his last great film.

    Since Halloween isn’t really celebrated in Paris, do you have any plans at all for celebration? Do movie theaters revive old horror films? As I may have said here, I plan to see the SUSPIRIA remake.

    At this point, expecting anything out of Trump, his administration and/or Fox News besides lies, boasting and propaganda is a total waste of time. I don’t know why anyone writes op-eds, think pieces or even Facebook posts and tweets calling for him to take responsibility for contributing to the violence in America. He won’t, because it helps him stay in power, and he’s gone right back to freaking his base out about immigration.

  3. KEaTon

    Thanks. I’m still like, “He had that cool version of Monopoly in the 80’s.” My one friend from NYC, says Trump is, “some guy who builds buildings” and Mayor Koch almost saved the world from the Illuminati. I have a lawyer friend who convinced me to vote again, he’s convinced they’re going to start lynching gay people. Anti-semitism is weird, “I’m still kind of like, the Jews are coming? What’s a Jewish person?” Seriously though, saw a skinhead in Berlin and got so mad I screamed all night in the streets until St. John came and calmed me down. Gillum says hell legalize marijuana. We have medical and everyone is already high that gets high. Florida doesnt seem like its into drugs in my experience, but its a very grown-up place. Legalization would be nice. Haha, I’m a believer in the dead. I run into them in my dreams all the time. The dying and the dead seem to only be able to use their faces, I’ve caught them several times using my shoes and making clothes from my drapes, etc. I’m a fairly devout Christian, but I grew up a Wesleyian which basically says, “It’s a mystery,” to anything we can’t absolutely know. I’m more like, “It’s probably a demond.” or residual. The old almost MR James formula, theres a place, theres tale, theres hint of, theres revelation of, theres a tragic reason. I’ve seen a few ghosts. A couple that I would actually ID as so. One of those was the fat man in blue in the fire on Montmartre, the other is Chief Cornstalks, Mothman. That app has freaked me out several times. Haha, I’m the biggest bug-chaser, ever, cos of course the little blond cherub that rips my heart out that shows up every time. “I’ve got a count of like 100,” and I shack up with them. It’s been a blessing to be this lucky. It’s a nice 70 here. A little bit cold for me, but its nice. Haha, my first time in Amsterdam, I get off the plane at the end of November like “yeeah”, no coat. Duh. One time I was fucked up and stuck down like way far out and had to walk that wall along the garden in freezing rain in Paris, thought I was done. Look around for some Halloween, I’m betting theres some little glimpses of it here or there. Eat a petit four for me. I’ll be shoveling massive amounts of skittles.

  4. Sypha

    Kind of sad to see another Halloween season drawing to its close. I guess tomorrow will be the last day they’re playing Halloween music at work, then on Thursday they’ll start playing Christmas music (which I don’t mind because I like Christmas music a lot as well, though generally speaking I prefer the more religious choir-based type seasonal music to the more secular mainstream standards). In the past I would often read a lot of horror material during the month of October, but this year I’ve only read one horror book this month, THE WAY OF THE WORM by Ramsey Campbell.

    Speaking of work, I had 3 days in a row where I worked the dreaded 4 PM to 1 AM overnight shift… yep, the dreaded annual holiday reset. Ugh, what a pain in the ass… but that explains why I’ve been quiet on here. You would not believe how much crap we’re getting, though: hand soap, candles, gourmet food items, Christmas tree ornaments, fake Christmas trees, seasonal paper plates, napkins, gloves, scarves, boots, hats, talking dolls, and so many useless knickknacks, gewgaws and doodads. As I told Misa recently, “I miss the days when we were just a bookstore.”

  5. _Black_Acrylic

    Happy Mischief Night! Someone actually made a Leeds-based film about this pre-Halloween holiday that I don’t think I’ll be rushing to see anytime soon. I do recall throwing a few eggs in my time as a young hooligan.

    • Kyler

      Ben – fond memories of Mischief night growing up in NJ – the eggs and stuff made for a good atmosphere when the actual day arrived. It set the scene….

  6. Kyler

    well, planning some hypnagogic activities, haha, hoping I’ll be able to sleep a little – I get a touch manic with all the excitement these days. Trying to decide what to wear in the park. On Halloween, everyone thinks my wiz hat is a costume and I tell them that’s just me all year ’round. Might wear this turban I have. And then at night: secret magickal stuff! Wishing you the sweetest of Halloweens Dennis, your favorite holiday and mine. XO

  7. James Nulick

    “Everyone needs to start taking LSD again…”

    Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if that happened, Dennis? If everyone was tripping balls and would just calm the fuck down, not rush to judgment, shut up about politics, and start loving Hoyt Axton and kittens again? I think so, too!

    Happy Halloween from Tokyo, Dennis! Oh wait, you’re prolly still asleep right now!

    Angelo and I are headed to Shibuya today for the beyond massive megaton Halloween celebrations this evening, and I am super stoked about it!! But before that, I’m going to visit DECADE TOKYO, a BMX shop, and check out the rides, maybe buy me a new beanie or something, then go to the Carhartt WIP store, check out the coats, see if there are some new threads I might want.. I’ve been wanting a new Ben Davis jacket but Angelo says the gorilla on it is racist, pshaw. It’s just a coat, dammit! Then maybe head over to Granny Smith for a piece of apple pie before the hallucinations commence!

    Regards Ben Davis and Carhartt, I tend to dress like a janitor, either that or the world’s oldest skater, lol.. but I’ve been dressing like this since I was 13 ! No use changing now.

    Saw a poster in the window of a record shop in Shinjuku yesterday for the Thom Yorke Suspiria soundtrack, cool cover. Went inside the shop and began lusting over an audio technica AT-LP3 turntable. Everyone seems to be so happy here, and of course the food is fabulous! I’ll do my best Jessica Savage (sp?) imitation and report on Halloween post Halloween!

    Big Tokyo Love to you Dennis, and to all at DCs!

    PS. Paul Curran and I are trying to meet while I’m here, I suggested St. George’s Bar, which is a mere 30 floors down from my room here at the Tokyo Hilton.

    James ❤️❤️

  8. Nik

    Hey D.,

    I love this triple header! The DIY smoke machine kit might be of some practical assistance sometime soon. And Happy Halloween when you read this tomorrow!
    Ugh, yeah, revealing without imposing is something I’m struggling with right now. Usually I start writing a rough draft, maybe filling in bits and pieces with people I know / my own opinions, and then finding out what the story is about / the form after I’ve generated enough material and spent enough time with it. But trying to explicitly “create a fictional portrait based on ‘facts’ that only I have access to” (that’s pulled directly from the prompt) has felt like such a fucking roadblock for some reason. I think that the reticence thing might have something to do with the trouble. Maybe since I’ve already formed strong feelings surrounding my autobiography, obviously, it feels like I’m imposing those feelings because I’m working with facts while acknowledging them as such (even when I’m not expressing my feelings concerning them)? I don’t know if that makes sense, I’m just kinda typing out my troubles approaching this.
    Bummer that you’re in the middle of a fun-free creative process. What do you mean by explaining without seeming to explain? Is it still going to be the show you all want structurally?
    I did the normal college aged thing of celebrating the weekend before, but I think my friends and I are gonna do some pumpkin carving and eat a bunch of candy. It’s not gonna top last year in Philly, where we went to an abandoned grave that ended up being infested with spiders, but it should at least fulfill the “treat” requirement of Halloween. There’s also this stop motion horror movie on MUBI right now that looks pretty fun, so I might try and watch that if I have time. I hope you watch some sort of horror movie at least, to simulate the full Halloween experience.

  9. Misanthrope

    Dennis, Yay! Dennis McMcormack Redux!

    I’ve mostly seen sports stars in person, and they lived up to the billing. IOW, they looked just like they did on TV. Then again, they usually don’t wear makeup on TV.

    My mom was watching The Voice tonight and that fucking This Is Us came on afterward. Ugh. I watched a minute and flipped the channel. Even the acting is atrocious…and this from people nominated for Emmys last year. Sympathy noms, I guess.

    Well, most of the people in the TC group, from what I can tell, are older, around my age. They all tend to talk like teenage girls at a Tiger Beat convention in the 70s. Really silly, juvenile shit. So many references to peaches, which were a thing in the book. Lots of “shipping” going, wherein they all have TC in some sort of relationship with someone they think he’d be great with, and they’re all mostly men he’s “shipped” with. Lots of really bad drawings of him, too. Tons of links to everyfuckingthing he’s ever done in his life. I don’t know where they find half the shit. It is curious, I tell you that.

    Oh, and somebody got my mom’s bank card number and bought a bunch of shit. Little shit that added up. I have a pretty good idea who it was, and yes, he does live with us, and no, it’s not me. Luckily, they’ll reverse the charges or at least give her her money back. Another day in the life…

  10. Bill

    Dennis, I’m looking forward to the gussying, haha.

    That tiny fog machine is so fine. Wow.

    It’s already an exhausting week, sigh. I hope I get a second or third wind to prepare for my weekend gig:


  11. Corey Heiferman

    Happy Halloween, Dennis! I’m glad to say I didn’t miss out this year because my de facto mother-in-law came back from a business trip to USA with tons of Halloween candy and decorations and through a Better Homes and Gardens kind of party. It was fun witnessing my boyfriend and his entire family try candy corn for the first time.

    Wow, “Shell Out!” is soooooo much better than “Trick or Treat!” It’s like the Halloween kids version of “Personnel Department” vs. “Human Resources” (though in this case it’s Human Resources that’s much much scarier).

    The make-your-own fog machine brought back memories of when my absent-minded physics teacher somehow set off the fire alarm with his fog machine. When he did get it working properly we did some very cool laser experiments so it was worth it.

    Funny you posted about coffin escape alarms. I just read Poe’s “The Premature Burial.” It’s a really interesting phobia to think about.

    I really enjoyed this sentence of yours in “Closer”: “Sometimes I know how those Indians felt when they’d tie up some beautiful kid then invite God to take him or her like a Valium.” The David part of the story got me thinking of stardom as a mindfuck, and of the people who choose the stars being aware of how they’re giving them at least as much a curse as a blessing. I also started thinking about how the personal, non-commercial writing of a star who has a knack for it might be so self-removed that it would come to resemble the way an admirer would write a fantasy in the voice of the star. I’m interested in what the experience is like for Israeli stars because I think they get the worst of both worlds: they’re stars only in Israel, but they can’t exactly experience regular life outside of Israel because Israelis love to travel all over the world, so no matter where an Israeli star goes chances are somebody on the street will notice them.

  12. Jeremy Kitchen

    Hi Dennis,

    I am trying to get a hold of you for an interview for a literary radio show here in Chicago, can you hit me up?

    Eye 94 Radio

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