The Halloween That Wasn’t

I’m sure that you all know by now that Halloween is my favorite holiday. It’s like Christmas/New Year’s/Fourth of July/Every other holiday rolled into one. But this year, something was missing:

Trick or Treaters

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(In Just Seven Years) Rocky Horror Made Me a Man

Note: I wrote this in 2015, but I love Rocky so much that I felt it needed an update.

 

Some of you will get the title reference. You are my people. Thank you for existing.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show turns 42 this year. I’m not sure if this is old or young, because it’s always been an old movie for me. Even though I’ve seen it hundreds (literally) of times, it’s always seemed like something from the past brought into the present for lonely souls like me. It was a holy relic, and we were the cult that formed around it.

For better or worse, Rocky Horror made me who I am.

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Candy Corn Is Halloween Incarnate

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Like many of my fellow weirdos, Halloween is my favorite holiday. Whether it’s watching horror/comedies (the best horror movie genre), going to a party with a homemade costume (my “Missing Link” costume–Link from Legend of Zelda with a ‘have you seen me? sign on my chest– kicked ass this year), or reliving my teenage years at a showing of Rocky Horror, I love it all. But there’s something else I love, something that is so connected to Halloween, but somehow reviled by many halloweeners (halloweenies?)

Candy Corn.

I found this article on Deadspin today, and it made me so very, very sad. People don’t appreciate Candy Corn the way that I do, how it’s subtle flavors and intricate colors reflect the changing of the season, our slide from the joys of summer to the bitter chill of winter. Or something like that…

Deadspin isn’t the first to come out against the corn-shaped deliciousness. One of my favorite comedy routines is of Lewis Black railing against Candy Corn. That doesn’t bother me, because Black hates everything.

I don’t care, I love the stuff. I love how you can’t define what it tastes like–it’s sweet, but not too sweet…is that fruit flavor? no. Is it corn flavor? No. It kinda tastes like honey, but not really. What the hell is it?

And why is it waxy? Is food supposed to feel like wax? Nothing that feels like that could possibly be healthy…WHAT ARE YOU, CANDY CORN!?

When I was young, people (usually very old people) would actually give Candy Corn to trick or treaters. Most of my friends were disappointed when they heard the corn syrup and wax abomination clang inside their plastic pumpkin basket, but not I. Instead, I thought “at least they’re not Tootsie Rolls…”

candy corn poured

That’s what makes Candy Corn so quintessentially Halloweenie (I settled on halloweenie…yes, i have the sense of humor or a 12 year old). It’s the mystery (what is it), the suspense (will this be awful), and the horror (oh my god, am I gonna die), of it. Candy Corn is the great unknown, the confectionery beast under your bed, waiting to tear your apart with it’s orange, yellow, and white fangs. Just like the approaching winter, Candy Corn is waiting for you, it’s coming, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Embrace it. EMBRACE THE CANDY CORN! EAT IT! I SWEAR IT DOESN’T SUCK!!!

(you can also press them into your teeth like tasty fangs. Try it, it’s fun)

candy corn dance

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!!

If you like fantasy, history, and some pretty extreme weirdness in your fiction, click the graphic below to buy The Watchmage of Old New York on Amazon. It’s flippin awesome. 4.8 stars on Amazon so far (23 reviews)!

The Watchmage Is Coming

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(In Just Seven Years) Rocky Horror Made Me a Man

 

The Watchmage Is Coming

Pick up your copy of The Watchmage of Old New York here. If you like history, fantasy, and all-around weirdness, you won’t regret it. 4.8 stars on Amazon (23 reviews)!

Some of you will get the title reference. You are my people. Thank you for existing.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show turns 40 this year. I’m not sure if this is old or young, because it’s always been an old movie for me. Even though I’ve seen it hundreds (literally) of times, it’s always seemed like something from the past, brought into the present for lonely souls like me. It was a holy relic, and we were the cult that formed around it.

For better or worse, Rocky Horror made me who I am.

I was always different, quiet, weird. I suppose the term is “socially awkward.” I was more comfortable playing alone or reading than with hanging out with friends. I had some success with sports (particularly baseball), but it never won me any friends. I was bullied in school, and no matter how many times I fought back, it never stopped (Every time someone says that if you stand up to a bully, they’ll stop, I want to laugh at them. It doesn’t stop, it escalates). I hid behind my long, greasy hair and didn’t speak to anyone. Eventually I stopped going to school and just lived my life as far from people as possible.

The doctors diagnosed me with Bipolar Syndrome. I got loaded up with Lithium (the only drug available at the time) and sent to a special school. It was the best thing that ever happened to me, but that’s a different story.

I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but that school was the link to Rocky. Like I said, it was Rocky that transformed me from a shy, awkward kid to a semi-outgoing, but even more awkward, adult.

I was 16, and I went with a friend from the special school and some of his friends. Suddenly I was surrounded by people in half-naked costumes and makeup, yelling, joking, and…hugging! I don’t think I had ever been hugged by a stranger until that first night, definitely the first time I was ever hugged by a man in fishnets. People were actually friendly to me. I was confused, titillated, and entranced. When the movie started and people started yelling awful things in unison, it was all over for me. It became an addiction. I ended up going every Saturday night, getting home at 3 or 4 in the morning (because you have to take over the local diner afterwards, order one plate of disco fries between 10 people, and drink coffee until you vibrate).

I think it was the anonymity of it all. In the dark, no one could judge you. You shed your outer self–the mask you wear for acceptance–and just let go. The thing was, I never had a mask, so I never had acceptance. Suddenly I was in a place where everyone was like me. For two hours a week, we were all equals.

I memorized every line and every call back. I made friends with other socially awkward people, so we could be awkward together. Yelling terrible things at a movie screen brought us together (like how Cards Against Humanity is such a great party game). Rocky was a vehicle that allowed me to be social in a judgment-free area.

As I got older, I got bolder. In college, me and my friend (I had friends now) staged a bi-weekly Rocky in our dorm lounge. I played Riff Raff and sometimes Eddie (and I was freaking good at it). It empowered me. In a few short years I went from hiding in corners to dancing in a spotlight.

I really wish I had pics of me performing.

So what did going to hundreds of Rocky Horror performances teach me? It taught me to get over it. I was so busy worrying about what people thought of me that I couldn’t be myself. There will always be people that judge, and those that will never accept you. Fuck them. Be yourself, be weird, and the people you want to be around will find you.

I’m proud of my weirdness now. I used to be afraid to say that I love D&D and cartoons. Now I shout it out. I’ll sing and dance in public. I’ll wear facepaint at a football game. I’ll embarrass myself, and I don’t care what people think.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Rocky in the theater, yet it’s still latched firmly in my heart. It makes me sad that there are only a few places to see it live now. Every generation needs something like Rocky, a place where the weird can be weird without fear of judgment.

The one near me closed down a good 15 years ago. There’s one within an hour of me, but I can never get up the will to go. I have no idea why. Maybe I don’t need Rocky anymore. Maybe I used to go as social therapy, and now I’m confident enough that I don’t need it. No. It’s because I can’t stay up till 3 or 4 in the morning anymore.

I’m old, Rocky is immortal.

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