Friday, December 31, 2010

Flight of a Million Bats

Brown Bat photo:
 It's official! 2011 has been declared The Year of The Bat by the United Nations Environment Programme. The idea of the campaign is to promote conservation, research and education on the world's only flying mammals. There are 1100 bat species in the world- around half of which are currently at risk. "Compared to animals like tigers and elephants, bats receive little positive attention," says Andreas Streit, Executive Secretary of EUROBATS, a European bat conservation group. "But they are fascinating mammals and play an indispensable role in maintaining our environment." Bats provide many ecological benefits, such as pest control and seed dispersal.

So in light of the New Year, may I present to you the one and a half million bats that live under the Congress Bridge in Austin, Texas. Video from a "Bat Tour" boat that goes under the bridge answers all your batty questions, and shows the flight of over a million bats at twilight (and no, they are not the sparkly vampires from 'Twilight' the movie.)

Have a Happy New Year (of the Bat)!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Devil Caganer

It's Christmas and I am working an 8-hour day here at the major public utility known as the Deathstar. What's wrong with this picture? Nothing. Nothing at all. 'Cuz I brought in some Hauntcast podcasts to catch up on. Hauntcast rocks. Halloween prop-talk at Christmas-  life is good.

I am also pondering an odd Christmas custom native to Catalonia. Catalonians set up Nativity scenes like many people do. But they also have a tradition of including a guest visiting the manger, and this guest behaves more like Borat than anything pure and innocent. Sorry if this is so gross you lose your Christmas dinner, but this guest is always a figure shown defecating at the manger to represent the desire for more fertile fields.  Defecating? Yep, and the figure can be of anyone fictional or living, they just have to have laid a variety of log that is NOT the Yule log, if you get my drift. So there are figures of sports stars and political figures in this pose. There's Hilary Clinton and the Queen of England and the Pope and Sponge Bob Squarepants. All defecating. And there's the devil. Look closely behind him- he's doing his thing. I love Catlalonia, but that is one strange custom.

photo: gurldogg

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Haunted Fire Bowls


Of course you want to keep warm during those chilly nights out on the patio. Or perhaps you greet trick-or- treaters and other visitors out on your front driveway, and want to do it in comfort and style.

Consider cozying up to this 37" diameter devil girl fire bowl. Hell yes, you'll be mesmerized by more than just the dancing flames when you gaze at this hot beauty. Standing 31" high it is made of rusted steel and has holes for drainage of rainwater. $700 on the price tag, but I'll bet no one else in town has one.

Other options:
View Image

The magic of the Moon and Star fire pit by Landmann USA, brings out the sorcery in a body. Only $109.

A little short on space? Perhaps a classic urn shape suits you best.

photo: PatioGlow

Tabletop urn is almost 15" high, it uses a one pound disposable propane tank, not included. Resin urn with included bag of lavarock, $44.99.

Monday, December 20, 2010

When Holidays Collide: Halloween Town

Love this one! Good for next year's Christmas card, perhaps?

Halloween Town in Burbank, CA, is one of my favorite places. But then, how can you NOT love a Halloween store that is open year-round? Lots of costumes and wigs, of course, but also some really great jewelry and a large selection of Halloween-related non-fiction books. I always enjoy their window displays, and the photos above show how it looks around Christmas. The photos below show some window mannequins as seen the rest of the year. (I don't know what the style of that man's cloak is called, but I like it. If you know, please let me know.)

I wish I could show you pictures from inside, but the employees watch you like a hawk. It's also insanely dark inside, all the time, necessitating a flash. You can't even try to sneak a shot using a cell-phone camera, or they'll take you out back, kill you and feed you to their mange-infested rats.
Well rules, schmools. On this day I was in a risk-taking mood. I daringly took one for the bloggers and managed a few photos that didn't even turn out blurry before an employee came to...uh... personally escort me.

Look! Decent quality Halloween housewares available all year! Be still your undead hearts!

I do sooo love to shop at Halloween Town. But next time I must bring someone who can cause some sort of  major distraction, so I can take more interior pictures for you.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Jack-o-lantern Wishes

And the Great Pumpkin rose from the pumpkin patch and flew through the air!

Those who believe can send a jack-o-lantern soaring with these sky lanterns. Made from flame-retardant materials, they'll glow eerily as they float silently, slowly upwards, lasting 12 to 20 minutes in the air before they extinguish themselves. All you do is light the attached fuel cell and hold the lantern until the heat fully inflates it, and then you can release it and it will drift upwards.  Available in packs of 5,10 or 25, they are currently on sale. My order for a 10-pack today totaled $33.35 including the shipping charges.

  These are considered type 1.4g consumer fireworks in the United States, so check the fireworks regulations in your area. Adults would be wise to avoid releasing these in windy conditions, near trees, power lines, or airports. Children should not be near the lanterns unless fully supervised by responsible adults. I will be taking my lanterns out to the desert for a pyrotechnic event that occurs near Valentine's Day. How romantic it will be to engage in the Asian custom of making a wish or saying a prayer before releasing a lantern and gazing at it as it rides a gentle current. The lanterns are made of biodegradable paper with no wires, just thin bamboo sticks, so they are more earth-friendly than you might guess.

Sky lanterns really make an impact when released in quantity.

Here's a 48-second video showing the effect of wish lanterns set adrift en masse at a celebration of the full moon in the capital of Thailand. It's spectacular.
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