Author Archives: charlesprogers
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara
As my kid gets older, the books I am exposed to are geared towards older and older kids. Occasionally I need to remember to look backwards and find great books for younger kids. As the time of the year demands an eye towards the spooky, it’s important not to overlook the little kids who like the idea of ghosts and goblins but cannot abide actually scary spooks. That’s where books like Ghosts in the House! come in handy. It’s super Halloweeny without being scary at all. Even though, like the title suggests, there are indeed ghosts in a little girl’s house, it’s really quite okay. In fact, it’s downright adorable. The girl is a witch, so she’s totally cool with ghosts. However, they still need to be dealt with. After all, we can’t have ghosts floating about all higgledy-piggledy!
So the witch and her cat gather up all the ghosts, run them through the wash (don’t worry; a window in the washer shows the ghosts are having a fine time in there) and put them to work as curtains and tablecloths.
Simply illustrated black and white images on orange pages add to the Halloween feel of this very simple and very cute story. If you have a little one in your life who likes spooky stuff but doesn’t like to be actually scared, Ghosts in the House! is a great choice. Read it to them in bed and rest assured they won’t have any scary dreams as a result!
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Living in a tiny room for four years or even two years of college isn’t all that fun unless you have a decorating strategy. Yes, you’ll mostly sleep and study in that room, and probably spend the majority of your time participating in activities on campus and in the library and classroom. But, wouldn’t you like to look forward to returning to your dorm room every night? Here are some practical yet essential tips for decorating a college dorm, and making it your home away from home.
First off, start with a comfy bed.
A great mattress will give you a great night’s sleep. Try adding a topper if you prefer that cocoon effect, and buy the best sheets and pillows that your budget allows. (Ask mom for help in this department.)
Get organized with storage.
You might have a single closet and it probably won’t be of the walk-in variety, so additional storage can keep away the clutter and make your tiny space more livable. Use freestanding units, or individual hanging shelves, as well as storage bins under your bed. Opt for a hamper for dirty clothing, an over-the-door shoe rack, and decorative boxes so every item has a place, including any miscellaneous stuff on your desk.
Accessorize, even a little bit.
Add a mirror, and perhaps an easy-to-maintain indoor plant that doesn’t require too much sunlight. Speaking of light, add lamps, both table and floor, and your new home will take on a warm glow.
Dress up a plain bed with a few bold accent pillows, and a cozy, decorative throw that you can use if your room gets chilly. Consider covering the floor with an area rug, and adding strippable wall covering that can easily be removed when you move out. Even an accent wall can spruce up the dullest interior. And don’t forget the artwork. Posters are an affordable alternative to framed prints.
Make it yours.
Now that you’ve cleared away the clutter and accessorized, make your dorm room say something about you. Add your initials to your wall above your bed, bring in photos of your friends and family, pets, or even you alone. Be sure to have copies of your go-to magazines and favorite novels, and a small stereo to play your tunes. This compact apartment will give you a welcome respite, and a place to relax and retreat when you’re tired of hitting the books.
Halloween Merrymaking: An Illustrated Celebration of Fun, Food, and Frolics from Halloweens Past by Diane Arkins
Post by Mark T. Locker.
I love Halloween. I love that dark and spooky become de rigeur for a month. I love skeletons, giant spiders, creepy sound effects. The holiday has been a phenomenon in the United States for a long time, though traditions have changed a bit over the years. Halloween Merrymaking looks at the holiday through the lens of American history and tradition.
The book is filled with cool old pictures of Halloween decorations from bygone days and informational tidbits about how the Halloween traditions have changed over the years. Mostly, this is a book about Halloween entertaining from the 19th century to now. In the early 20th century, it seems simply EVERYONE was hosting Halloween parties for adults and there were no shortage of books and magazines offering ideas for everything from invitation templates to recipe ideas. Whereas today’s angle is children and spookiness, in yesteryear, it was just as fun for adults and it was more about mystery. Invitations were always sent out anonymously, lending an extra air of mystery.
Often these mysterious parties would have a theme, like all guests must dress as ghosts, or as noted literary figures. Or maybe the hostess would be ghost. Bobbing for apples was always a good time even back then. Other party ideas have, not surprisingly, faded away such as this oddity: “Where a fireplace can be used, dip stick in strong salt water and dry them thoroughly…sticks are given to guests who throw them in the fire and perform tricks or tell stories while the it burns.” (Spooky Hallowe’en Entertainments, 1923)
If you like Halloween and if you like the old-timey celebrations of days gone by, this book has a lot of interesting information and maybe some unusual party ideas as well!
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Who doesn’t love fall? The temperatures aren’t too warm or too cool, and nature might even be its prettiest during September and October. Fall colors can make us feel warm and fuzzy inside –– so much that we want to drink a Pumpkin Spice Latte or eat a slice of warm apple pie. From deep corals to rusty reds and mocha browns, the hues that we associate with autumn can inspire the palette for any room. Here are five bedrooms that feel like fall.
Warm grays, beiges, golds, and a hint of orange in a master bedroom seating area give us a glimpse of fall. The cozy spot looks perfect to curl up with a good book or watch the leaves fall outside those big windows.
For some reason, the color eggplant alludes to the fall season. The rich color works well on the tufted headboard, and orange with purple is an unexpected combination. The accent pillows balance the two colors.
Scottsdale might not get the same fall as the Northeastern US, but it does get seasons. Regardless of the amount of leaf-peeping available in this Arizona town, this bedroom sure feels like autumn.
Vivid masculine colors come together nicely in this modern Australia bedroom. The simple design allows the architecture to shine. The paper pendant fixtures add some fun to the space.
This Carmel Valley retreat boasts a Mediterranean flavor with its exposed wood beams, Venetian plaster walls, and the balcony and its metal railing. The subtle red and yellow scheme makes the bedroom feel homey and inviting.
Don’t you love fall?
Post by Mark T. Locker.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Disney went in a darker direction than what we have come to recognize as Disney. From Escape to Witch Mountain to The Watcher in the Woods, Disney covered the weird and the creepy with a particular lo-fi flair. My favorite of these darker Disney days was always the adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s creepy Halloween story, Something Wicked This Way Comes. Disney even got Bradbury to write the screenplay.
The movie tells the story of two thirteen-year-old boys, Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway. In the autumn before their fourteenth year, a strange and mysterious carnival rolls into town in the dead of night. Dark’s Pandemonium Carnival is no normal carnival. It’s readily apparent that something sinister is going on there. People enter the mirror maze and don’t return. Dark’s Pandemonium Carnival feeds on the deepest desires of its attendees. Their old teacher yearns for youth. The cigar store owner dreams of riches. Mr. Dark can make their dreams come true, but at great cost. When Jim and Will sneak in after dark and see one of the carnival members turned young on an enchanted carousel, they realize that they’re already in too deep. Knowing the boys know too much, Mr. Dark sets out to find the two boys, by way of magic, treachery or whatever means necessary.
Part horror story, part reflection on youth and friendship, part story of an older father trying to reconnect with his young son, the underlying story is surprisingly deep and complex. But to balance all that out, there are lots of bad special effects. My 8-year-old called the creeping green magic of the Dust Witch “Scooby-Doo effects”. He’s right. This is a creepy but not too creepy movie, a great way to kick off October, the spookiest month of all.