Review – Southern Tier Warlock


The gods of Halloween, whatever they may be, have delivered a bounty unto me this year in the form of pumpkin beers. Not only did the legendary Pumking from Southern Tier Brewing finally show up on Arizona’s dusty shores for the first time, but it brought a friend – Warlock, the pumpkin stout.

My friends, heed my words: If you’ve any interest whatsoever in pumpkin beer, stout beers, or just beer in general, you must try Warlock immediately. It is so good I could barely comprehend what I was tasting. This beer gave me an existential crisis.

Imagine if tomorrow, you had a cup of coffee that was unmistakably the best cup of coffee you’ve had in your life (assuming that you are a routine coffee drinker). Imagine if something you’ve tasted far too many times to count and always existed as a constant in your life suddenly took on a new dimension. That’s how I felt when I tried Warlock.

I’ll grant that I have a personal affinity for stouts, to say nothing of pumpkin beer itself. So this review might need to be taken with a grain of salt for those who aren’t crazy about stout beers. This is the first and only pumpkin stout I’ve ever had as well, so the weight of expectation was playing into the experience.

See my review of Pumking for the major beats of the flavor – high levels of pumpkin, vanilla, and nutmeg along with the expected “beer” flavors you get with bolder brews, and then add layers of smoke and chocolate. The best way I can describe the taste of Warlock is pumpkin bread or a pumpkin muffin covered in chocolate. The pumpkin pie spice notes float up through the nostrils and linger on the palette long after you’ve swallowed.

My only regret about having had Southern Tier Warlock is that my entire review scale for pumpkin beer needs to shift. Compared to this everything else loses a step. But, I’m not changing my review scale. Instead, I’ve invented a ranking above 5 Jacks just for this one beer: 5 Golden Jacks. To be awarded only to one beer at a time – the king of the hill. Or, you know, pumpkin patch.

Rating5jack plus

Ghosted by Jon on September 22nd, 2014 | Filed Under Beer, Reviews | No Comments -

The Houses October Built

The title of this upcoming horror movie (despite probably sounding better with the singular “house”) caused my ears to perk up. Right away I assumed it would be a documentary about haunted attractions, like The American Scream, and that would have been intriguing indeed, but it’s actually a found footage horror movie.

I’m something of a found footage apologist. I’m not nearly as put off by the motif as a lot of people are, but I do kind of wish THIS movie wasn’t shot that way. The subject matter seems like it could have been better suited for a traditional horror movie. Nevertheless, the premise has a lot of potential and the trailer has some deliciously creepy moments.

The Houses October Built releases on October 10th simultaneously in a limited theatrical run and digitally via iTunes. Have a gander…

Ghosted by Jon on September 21st, 2014 | Filed Under Uncategorized | No Comments -

The True Story of Annabelle

The fine film scholars over at Badass Digest often write about horror films. I’ve just recently discovered the site and have been picking through the archives, reading all sorts of news, reviews, and analysis of horror movies new and old (Collins’ Crypt is an ongoing feature of the website exclusively dedicated to discussing horror). While reading up on material related to The Conjuring I came across this quick tale about the real life doll portrayed in the opening moments of the film, as well as the spinoff feature Annabelle, releasing in a couple weeks. It’s a spooky old time!

Their friend Lou hated the doll. He thought there was something deeply wrong with it, something evil, but the girls were modern women and didn’t believe that sort of thing. There must be an explanation, they reasoned. But soon Annabelle’s actions got even weirder – Donna began to find pieces of parchment paper in the house with messages written on it. “Help us,” they would say, or “Help Lou.” Just to make the whole thing that much creepier nobody in the house had parchment paper. Where the hell was it coming from?

Source: Badass Digest

Ghosted by Jon on September 18th, 2014 | Filed Under Uncategorized | No Comments -

The Best Treehouse of Horror Moments

Treehouse of Horror 1

I’ve already written my love letter to the annual Simpsons Halloween specials (well, the 5 and a half good ones), but damnit, they are such a deep, elemental component of my Halloweens, it warrants even more adoration. If circumstances dictated that I had to drastically scale back my Halloween operations, heaven forbid, Treehouse of Horror episodes on DVD would be one of the very last things I’d give up.

So, I present to you what I consider to be the finest moments plucked from the finest episodes of Treehouse of Horror. Honestly, this list could be four times as long and I’d still be in no danger of running out of classic moments just from the first five Treehouse of Horror episodes. But these are the eight that sprang to mind immediately.


Kang and Kodos

From the very first Simpsons Halloween special, this was the first appearance of the aliens Kang and Kodos, who would go on to appear in some form in every single Treehouse of Horror episode hence, but usually as a cameo. Here, the aliens abduct the Simpsons and, in a take-off on the Twilight Zone episode To Serve Man, appear to have hidden sinister intentions.

But while they give the family the tour of their spaceship, they delight in presenting their futuristic take on table tennis:

Kang: This is an electronic version of what you call “table tennis”. Your primitive paddles have been replaced with electronic-”
Bart: “Hey, that’s just Pong. Get with the times, man.”
Homer: “Hey, Marge and I played THAT old game when we were dating!”
Kang: “Well… we did invent this spaceship you know…”
Kodos: “Anyone from a species that has mastered intergalactic travel, raise your hand…. alright then.”
Marge: “I’m sorry. Your game is very nice…” More brains…

Ghosted by Jon on September 16th, 2014 | Filed Under Musings | No Comments -

An Evolution

I was looking through old pictures from Halloweens past and… how do I say this? Looking back can give you a lot of perspective.

This is now our tenth year doing a Halloween party, and the mantra is, and always has been, “bigger than the one before”. Decorations became more decorations. Music selection became bigger and better. Food, drinks, and entertainment were expanded and refined. A haunted house was added. Intellectually, I knew that we were always ramping up. I could always feel things getting more and more intense, but it wasn’t until I looked at the old pictures that I realized the extent of it.

This is 2004 – the very first Fort Awesome (predecessor to Camp Awesome) Halloween party. These pictures are at FULL RESOLUTION, probably taken on an ancient flip phone camera. I couldn’t even find any that had decorations in the picture, and I’m not sure there even were any. Some people wore costumes, some didn’t. Clearly, we had much to learn about this whole Halloween business.

2007. Notice how the house still looks like a house? Sure, we had some Freaky Fabric, some cotton spider webs, one or two skulls, and some hanging doo-dads. But this was amateur hour, and a FAR cry from the total transformation we’d eventually be aiming for. While I’m pretty sure everyone had a good time, when I look at the pictures from this first year I notice a lot of people sitting.

2008. OK, we’re starting to get a little better now. This was the debut of 12 Foot Hanging Ghoul AND Brick Wall Decal – both items still in use today. And we started getting more adventurous with the lighting in ’08.  More brains…

Ghosted by Jon on September 15th, 2014 | Filed Under Musings | No Comments -

Contribute to Halloween 14!

Hey friends… sigh…

This is my least favorite part of the Halloween season festivities. I wish it wasn’t necessary, but it’s an undeniable truth that the years of crafting a Halloween party that continually ups the ante means that our intentions have exceeded our resources. There’s simply not enough time and money to go beyond what we’ve done in previous years, and going that step beyond is a promise we’ve made and (I think) kept to all the awesome people who have elected to celebrate our favorite holiday with us.

Halloween 13

More brains…

Ghosted by Jon on September 13th, 2014 | Filed Under Uncategorized | No Comments -

The Harvest

Pumpkins have arrived in grocery stores!


If I was in charge of making Halloween-related public service announcements, this would be it: Pumpkins with most of the stem intact and skin unbroken last a very long time (we’re talking months) if you keep them indoors, out of the sun and heat. People tend to think of pumpkins the same way they do about Christmas trees – don’t buy too early or they will go bad before Halloween. I recommend buying your pumpkins as early as you want. Don’t wait until the only ones left are warty and malformed, unless that’s your thing.

Also, there are really only two options that make sense when it comes to purchasing pumpkins – grocery stores or real pumpkin patches at farms. The advantages of the grocery stores are low cost and convenience. You can easily find large, symmetrical pumpkins at Safeway for 6 dollars (they consistently have better ones than Fry’s or Wal-Mart – believe me on this). You will pay a lot more for a pumpkin at an actual pumpkin patch, and have to drive pretty far out of the city limits to get there, but nothing beats the ambiance of a legit pumpkin patch for Halloween, and you’ll get a pumpkin that’s fresh as hell.

The third option, which you should never do, is go to one of those fake “pumpkin patches” they set up in parking lots and church lawns. Essentially, you end up paying three times as much (or more) for grocery store pumpkins because they’ve been arranged on hay bales. They also tend to price them by size – whereas a grocery store usually just has two or three flat prices for different sized pumpkins, fake pumpkin patches usually have a wide range of size ratings with the prices climbing up and up. Again, like a Christmas tree lot. To boot, you can usually bet these pumpkins have been sitting outside in the maddening Phoenix heat for days, lessening their life span.

This has been a pumpkin buying public service announcement brought to you by I Remember Halloween.

Ghosted by Jon on September 8th, 2014 | Filed Under Musings | No Comments -

15 Skulls


15 Skulls

If 14 year old Jon could have peeked into the future and seen that 31 year old Jon would own no less than 15 false skulls, he would probably think that he aged into a most awesome adult. A dubious accomplishment, but an accomplishment nonetheless.

For the smart alecs who noticed there are only 14 skulls in that picture, one is off camera. It has hair attached.  More brains…

Ghosted by Jon on September 7th, 2014 | Filed Under Musings | No Comments -

A Little Boost

I was at Home Depot this morning buying haunted house materials, and as I was picking up cans of paint in the most bizarre colors – cherry red, royal blue, neon green – the paint lady says, “I have to ask. What are you doing with these bright colors?”

“Umm, I do a haunted house for Halloween…”

(Eyes widen, mouth drops open) “No way! That’s so cool! My kids and I love people like you on Halloween!” Another paint lady standing nearby also heard this and remarked about how cool it was. It felt pretty good.

As I gathered up my stuff and moved on Paint Lady said Happy Halloween to me. It’s not that I needed a boost at this early point in the season, but it was still a very encouraging moment.

Time to get busy…

Ghosted by Jon on September 6th, 2014 | Filed Under Musings | No Comments -

Review – Southern Tier Imperial Pumking


When I saw this sitting on the shelf at Total Wine in mid-August, my jaw quite literally dropped. I had heard about Pumking more than a few times in my years as a pumpkin beer aficionado. It’s fairly legendary, and is mentioned often online whenever the subject comes up. It was never available (to my knowledge) in AZ before.  More brains…

Ghosted by Jon on September 4th, 2014 | Filed Under Beer, Reviews | No Comments -
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