Come Climb Up into the Treehouse of Trivia

The baseball playoffs have pushed this year’s Treehouse of Horror episode until November 1st, but that doesn’t mean that The Simpsons has been bumped from the Halloween season. In honor of the upcoming Treehouse of Horror XXXI, I will be posting a Treehouse of Trivia quiz here to this blog on Saturday, October 31st. The quiz will contain 31 questions, and cover material from the first 30 Halloween specials. I hope to challenge even the most devoted of Treehouse fans. Here are the types of question you can expect:

*True or False? Kang, Kodos, and the Leprechaun have made cameo appearances on every single Treehouse of Horror episode to date.

*Complete the quote (from the ToH III segment “Clown Without Pity”): When Homer runs naked through the kitchen (after being chased from the bathtub by the evil Krusty doll), Patty announces to her sisters, “There goes the last __________________.”

*For the Halloween specials, the Gracie Films logo at the end of Simpsons episodes is changed to feature ominous organ music and a shrill scream. Name at least one other change made to the logo presentation over the course of the Treehouse series.

*Which of the following is NOT one of the alterations to the future caused by Homer’s time traveling in the ToH V segment “Time and Punishment”?
A) Ned Flanders becomes unquestioned lord and master of the world
B) Bart and Lisa appear giant-sized and try to crush Homer
C) Marge is married to Artie Ziff instead of Homer
D) No one knows what donuts are
E) The Simpsons have reptilian tongues

 

Stumped by these? A perfect reason to do some Treehouse of Horror bingeing on Disney+ this week. Have fun boning up, and good luck with the Treehouse of Trivia quiz this Halloween!

New Book Release for the Halloween Season

I am thrilled to announce the publication of my new book, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: Ultimate Annotated Edition (available now as a Kindle eBook). This one has been years in the making, and I did massive amounts of reading and research for it, so it is a great feeling to see the project finally completed.

Amazon is still in the process of activating the “Look Inside” feature for my book, but in the meantime you can read the book’s description on the product page. You can also check out the Preface and an excerpt from the Bonus Essay (“Eerie Rider: The Headless Horseman’s Forays into Pop Culture”) on the dedicated page here on my website.

Hope you all enjoy the new book. Happy Halloween Season!

Frightinerary

[Haunted Overload in Lee, New Hampshire]

Hi folks. I just wanted to highlight a new feature I’ve added to the sidebar of this website’s home page. It’s called “Dark-Tripping Through the Macabre Republic,” and provides a series of links for actual places to visit all across Gothic America (many of them I have yet to experience, so this also serves as my own Macabre Republic bucket list). I won’t pretend that this listing is exhaustive; if there are any prime spots that you would recommend adding to it, please let me know.

 

Seize the Season

At long last, the calendar has flipped to the most important time of year in the Macabre Republic: the High Holiday season, in the merry month of mayhem. These thirty-one days always seem to fly by faster than a witch late to a sabbath, so I encourage you to start celebrating early. Here’s hoping that your October is stocked with autumnal treats and attractive haunts, and that your Halloween proves a harvest of horror.

Speaking for myself, I am to be in the spirit all month long here on this blog. There will be plenty of Halloween-related posts to follow. Thanks to the recent release of the second cinematic chapter, this isn’t just the season of the witch but also the season of IT. I accordingly have a lot of items planned relating to Stephen King’s epic novel that should float the boat of Constant Readers.

First, for all those who can’t get their fill of fall, here’s a poem to kick off the season. It is from my collection Autumn Lauds (for a closer look inside this book, click the designated heading in the menu above).

 

Octoberzest

Apple cider
Perfectly perfumery bottle, eau de orchard

Candy corn
Fairy horse of sweet tricolor bicuspids

Yankee Candle
Flaming aromatic–earthy wood, sere leaves

Pumpkin pancakes
Limited time: we all bound to IHOP

Decorative hay bales
Squarely redolent of rural remotes

Cinnamon-sugared doughnuts
Dessert worthy of the Van Tassel banquet table

Not just of mists and mellow fruitfulness
(as Keats asserted)
But a season of scents and tastes to savor

 

American Gothic/Gothic American

I’m excited to report that I have received my contributor copies for Flame Tree Press’s new anthology American Gothic Short Stories, which contains my story “Gothic American.” The anthology features fourteen original tales and a slew of classic reprints. These latter are what make this writing credit my proudest one to date. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would see my name listed on the same Table of Contents page with so many of my literary idols–preeminent American Gothic authors such as Charles Brockden Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Flannery O’Connor, and Shirley Jackson.

“Gothic American” is one of my favorite pieces that I have written, largely because it deals with my favorite work of art: Grant Wood’s American Gothic. The house that inspired Wood and formed the backdrop for the now-iconic couple in the 1930 painting still stands in Eldon, Iowa, and has become an offbeat sort of tourist attraction (with visitors inevitably recreating the scene from the painting as they pose for photos). My story casts a darker shadow over such lighthearted mimicry. It also speculates: what if the American Gothic House (as this historic landmark is now called) actually was an American Gothic house?

The story went through countless drafts (and accumulated its fair share of rejections) over the years before I felt I finally got it right. I wanted “Gothic American” to allow multiple interpretations by readers, and believe the version published in American Gothic Short Stories has achieved the correct level of ambiguity (apropos of Wood’s vaguely-unsettling painting, whose meaning is so hard to pin down). I also believe the story has found the perfect home in Flame Tree Press’s anthology, and am thrilled to see it published there.

 

American Gothic Inspiration, Part II

As I mentioned in a post last week, Flame Tree Press is releasing a new anthology titled American Gothic Short Stories, which includes the first publication of my story “Gothic American.” To celebrate the release of the anthology, Flame Tree has put another Author Q&A post up on its Fantasy and Gothic blog. One of the prompts this time around is: “What are your favorite stories from this genre?” Click on over to find out my choices, along with those by writers such as Lucy A. Snyder and Ramsey Campbell.

 

American Gothic Inspiration

Flame Tree Press is set to publish its latest anthology, American Gothic Short Stories, which includes a new tale by me titled “Gothic American.” In conjunction with the book’s release, Flame Tree has asked the contributors to discuss the genesis of their story idea. My response, along with 18 others, has been posted on Flame Tree’s Fantasy & Gothic blog. So head that way to find my verbal signpost pointing to one of the greatest landmarks of our Macabre Republic:

Hundredfold Horror

After receiving over 7000 reader nominations, NPR has published its list of 100 Favorite Horror Stories. The choices (novels, individual stories, and anthologies) have been grouped into ten categories–Blood Roots: Foundational Horror; Zombies and Vampires and Werewolves: Oh My; The Fear in Our Stars: Cosmic Horror and Weird Fiction; Horrible Houses: Ghosts and Hauntings; Final Girls: Horror By and About Woman; Horribly Ever After: Fantasy and Fairy Tale Horror; Hell is Other People: Real World Horrors; Short and Sharp: Story anthologies; The Kids Aren’t All Right: Creepy Kids; and Scar Your Children: Horror for Beginners. The judges (Stephen Graham Jones, Ruthanna Emrys, Tananarive Due, and Grady Hendrix) wax a tad political in their selections/commentary–(modern revisions of) Lovecraft’s racism seems to be a recurrent theme–but overall the accompanying summaries to each text are quite enjoyable to read. So whether you are looking to revisit a classic or to discover lesser-known scare fare, you can now be guided by an ultimate syllabus of horror. Quot libros, quam breve tempus, as some guy named Stephen King likes to say.