The bastards managed to take the sun from us, too. Smoke and ash like great banks of gray fog choked out the light and turned high noon into near dark. The fires that dotted the city helped with navigation, but we relied on our few remaining pairs of night vision goggles most of the time. We scrambled around burning husks of buildings and tunneled through debris, reduced to living like rodents amongst the ruins of what we had accomplished as a species.

Only fitting since we weren’t at the top of the food chain anymore.

Sometimes, I was glad for the smoke and ash. If we couldn’t see the sky, it meant we couldn’t see the impossibly massive black ships that loomed overhead. However, nothing blocked the sound of them. Even if you plugged your ears to the incessant low hum of their engines, you still felt the vibrations in your teeth.

There was a screech of metal and a series of impacts that shifted the ground beneath my feet. I motioned for my team to take cover while I remained in the open, crouched near a shelled-out SUV. The night vision wasn’t necessary. I knew what was coming for us.

The Raider stalked down what was once four lanes of inner city blacktop. Glowing, dinner plate sized optics scanned the area for anything breathing while the pincers at the end of its arms flexed and released. Beneath the barrel of its main housing sprouted three long, accordion-like legs with cone-shaped feet. The Raiders looked ungainly and almost comical when we first saw them disembark from the transport ships. Now we knew they were specifically designed to travel easily over and through the devastation left behind by the attack fleet.  And they were armed with lasers that vaporized anyone still left alive.

Stopping about eight yards from me, the Raider lifted it’s arms and broadcast the same message repeated by all emissaries the hulking motherships sent down to the surface. It was the only communication we ever got from them and the message was either the result of a garbled translation or our visitors had a twisted sense of humor.


I reached around into my backpack for my last EMP grenade. After setting the delay for three seconds, I stood and tossed the grenade under the Raider then crouched down again. The Raider caught the movement, but before it could level its lasers on me, the grenade detonated.

Electromagnetic pulse grenades instantly wipe out all electronics within a ten foot radius. This leaves the target intact so we can scavenge them for parts and weapons. There are few things more satisfying that using the enemy’s own tech against them.

The Raider’s optics dimmed to black and it swayed on its spindly legs, but didn’t topple over. I looked behind me and saw my team on their feet, ready to advance. I gave them the go-ahead and stood, stretching the tension out of my back.

Across the war-ravaged roadway, I saw three rats skirt around a smoldering pile of rubble and I couldn’t help but smile.

Up to this point, all my robots had either been completely benign, led astray, or were the victims of poor programing.  But this guy is actually a bad mother-shut your mouth!  Quite fitting, I think, since this is the month of all things dark and sinister. And, if you’ve spent any time around me at all, you’ll know that October is also my very favorite month since it is the month of Halloween.

I love Halloween.
Like really, truly, would have it’s babies type love.
I’d hide Halloween’s bag of weed down my pants if we got pulled over by the cops.
I’d cut the break lines on Halloween’s abusive step-father’s car.
I’d sit and wait at Halloween’s house for the Direct TV guy for five hours because I know that Halloween has much more important crap to do with its day.

I’ll spare you the rest.

Anywhoo . . .
If you’d like to know more about my robots, please visit my Robot-A-Month page.

If you’d like to know more about how much I love Halloween you can take a gander at this.

trick or treat!

The trick is that I don’t have a blog post here.  That’s mean of me, I know.

However, the treat is that you can read my guest post over at The Mike/Mitch Project.  A food blogger asked me to do a guest post, can you believe it?  Well, he did want me to write about zombies, so I suppose I wasn’t completely out of my element.  After you read my post, please take a look around Mike’s tasty blog.  When he isn’t chronicling his progress in cooking all the recipes in Mitch Omer’s Damn Good Food cookbook, he writes about other tasty dishes like brainloaf.  Mmmm, brainloaf . . .

it will be really frightening when it’s gone

I originally posted this back in 2009, but only five people read my blog back then, so I think this will be new to most of you.  Apologies for the re-run, but my well continues to runneth dry.

One day, close to Halloween, my third grade class was interrupted by a Witch. Mrs. Clark opened the door to our classroom and the Witch entered, shrouded in layers of black fabric that obscured her features and on her head, a black pointed hat. The Witch carried a large, black caldron from which a smoke or vapor emanated. She set the caldron on a table in the front of the classroom and began to ladle green punch into cups for each child. She beckoned us closer and handed out candy and talked to us in an odd, cackling voice. Some of us were a little scared by the Witch’s frightening appearance, myself included. She had bumpy green and yellow skin, a crooked nose and pointed chin. Her fingernails were long and black like claws. However, our desire for punch and candy soon overpowered all our fears.

Being third graders, not babies like the second graders, we knew that the Witch wasn’t real. Sipping our punch, we wondered who was under the black hat and wig and makeup. Was it one of the teachers? Maybe it was the Principal? The Witch didn’t stay long, but before she left, we all learned her true identity. I was just as surprised as my classmates to learn that she was my mother.

My mom had so completely disguised herself, that her own 9-year-old daughter didn’t recognize her. She bought a rubber witch’s mask and cut it up so that she could adhere sections of it to her face. The rest of her skin she covered in makeup. The smoking caldron was created using dry ice and food coloring turned the punch green.

And that is why I love Halloween.

It is the one time of the year when we can all be special effects wizards, makeup artists, costume designers and set decorators. Each of us can play a part in a great, crazy, chaotic show. It’s okay to be frightening or over-the-top funny. Halloween is an excuse for us to let our hair down, or to pull it up and color it purple. It’s perfectly acceptable to be daring or gross or act like anyone other than yourself.

But, what’s even better about Halloween, is that you are not expected to do anything. You don’t have to dress up if you don’t want to, no one will be offended. You don’t have to roast a turkey or bake a pie or feed your whole family. You don’t have to give anyone a present or feel guilted into donating to a charity. The only thing you may feel obligated to do is buy a bag of candy and give it to children who knock on your door. Having fun is just a side-effect.

Halloween is the only day out of the year where it is acceptable for children to take candy from strangers, even strangers who are wearing a hockey mask and bloody overalls. Even with all the real fears in the world, parents still let their children go door to door trick-or-treating. All it takes is a few carved pumpkins and some fake blood to make us realize that we haven’t totally given up on trusting each other.

Happy Halloween everybody!

the box

I don’t know what’s wrong with me, lately.  My give-a-shit is broke and I don’t know how to fix it, but I am trying to deal with it (cause I practice what I preach).  I am usually annoyingly giddy this time of year, but even the approach of Halloween hasn’t improved my mood.  This malaise has infected this here blog and my normally two or three weekly posts have dwindled down to one. 
For that, I apologize. 
But, as is my habit, if I can’t bring the funny, then I will bring the fiction. 
Here is a tiny story I wrote that I can’t see doing anything with (ie. won’t make me any money) so I thought I’d share it with you, dear reader.  It’s kinda creepy, which is in keeping with the season (and most everything else I write). 

The Box

She woke late the next morning to find him sitting on the couch. “Did you stay out here all night? You can’t still be mad, can you?”

He didn’t answer, his gaze fixed on the blank television screen.

“Well, I have moved on and I suggest you do the same. I swear, you can be so dramatic.”

She turned and marched to the kitchen. His head rolled onto the floor.


The Detective knelt to examine the dried pool of blood in the corner of the hall closet. He followed a dotted trail of red to the living room where a uniformed Officer stood, hands in his pockets, eyes focused on the blood soaked couch.

“The ax was in the closet, the wife’s prints are all over it, but she seemed completely unaware of what happened,” he said to the Officer.

“Yup. She didn’t believe us when we told her that her husband was dead. Outright laughed when we told her how.”

The Detective pulled his latex gloves tight over his hands and shook his head. “Forensics estimates the husband’s been dead for over 48 hours. She told his boss he was sick.”

“The shrink at the station called it a ‘psychotic break,’” said the Officer.

Not satisfied with this explanation, the Detective walked through the living room into the kitchen. The surface of the fridge held a gallery of family photos and a flowery condolence card. He remembered an officer say that the wife’s aunt had committed suicide over a week ago. Passing the stove, he regarded a pan with two pork chops congealed in their own grease and a pot of green beans that were now a sick shade of gray.

He turned and walked to a café table and two chairs nestled in the corner under a window. The blinds were pulled up, allowing him a view of the full moon and cloudless night sky. The table appeared to be used for paying bills and making grocery lists, not for enjoying a meal. Among the envelopes, note pads and pens, the Detective noticed a scuffed tin box about four inches square with a simple hinged lid. Reflected moonlight gave it a faint glow. Expecting paper clips or maybe stamps, the Detective opened the box.


Sensing their collective relief, the Captain ordered his men to wait outside while he inspected the house. The scene inside tested his resolve. He tried to draw from his thirty years experience, but that well was now too shallow. Slipping a small notebook from his jacket pocket, he forced himself to concentrate on the facts.

The Captain stood over the body of the fallen Officer and noted the position: on his right side, right arm extended, gun still gripped in his right hand. Death had not erased his expression of total shock. At the Officer’s back, a pool of blood stretched across the beige carpet like ragged, red wings. The Captain’s eyes traced a trajectory, which led to the body of the Detective, flat on his back in the kitchen.

Unable to comprehend why two good men were dead by each other’s hand, The Captain instead pieced together how. The Detective must have drawn his weapon first and shot the Officer in the chest. The Officer was able to draw his weapon before falling to his side. He then fired and shot the Detective in the throat. “Lucky shot, that,” thought the Captain with no humor.

He scanned the Detective’s splayed body. A glint reflected off something near the dead man’s left arm. Crouching, he picked up a small tin box with a gloved hand. He wondered if this object had caught the Detective’s eye, or if it was just random crime-scene flotsam. Aware of what the smallest detail could reveal, the Captain opened the box.

halloween costumes – male review

In the past, I have dissected the phenomenon of gratuitous sexuality in female Halloween costumes.  Those two posts, entitled “Happy Dress Like a Slut Day” and “”Puttin’ the Low in Halloween“,  receive quite a few hits around this time of year due to people searching for said slutty sexy costumes.  I thought I’d continue to cash in on this search-result-hit goldmine with another costume post.  However, this year, I thought I’d let the fellas get in on the action. Cause we all know that the fellas like the action.  Ooohh, yeeeahh.

First thing I noticed when searching men’s costumes is that they have a lot of food-centric options.

Gives a whole new meaning to "taco night"

Visual puns are also popular.


And, where women are required to use their own “assets” to fill in their costumes, the men are provided augmentation.

Conan the Faux-barian

Hardly seems fair. You don’t see any female costumes with fake chests.  Wait. I should rephrase that.

Anyway . . . Another trend in men’s costumes seems to be going for the WTF factor.

Is "Ostrich Rider" a thing?

If the fingers were repositionable, I could almost understand this.


Superheros are always a popular choice.  The key word here being “super.”  Don’t be a Mediocre-hero.

His spidey sense is indigestion.


And, I learned that women haven’t cornered the market on uncomfortably inappropriate costumes.

More like Hamptons Globetrotter. Is that racist?

Okay, guys.  Be careful out there this Halloween.  Don’t spill any drinks on your fake pecs or get jumped in an alley because you really aren’t from Harlem.


want to see something really scary?

I do.

I love the muffled thump from the basement. A creak of rusty hinges. The long, low scraping of an ax being dragged slowly down a concrete corridor lit only by one flickering lightbulb. Then the dread anticipation that sudden silence brings. Your chest tightens and burns because you don’t dare breathe knowing that any movement will alert the creeping terror that stalks you.

Yes. I want to see that. I want the terror. Because even while I am screaming, I’m smiling.

October is my favorite month for many reasons, but the numero uno, top dog, mack daddy reason is because it is the month of Halloween.

I love Halloween.
 - If Halloween asked, I would pick it up from the Atlanta airport during rush hour. 
 - I would help Halloween move its sofabed from a second story apartment with no elevator.
 - I would give one of my kidneys to Halloween even if it wanted to fry it up with garlic in a little olive oil.
 - If Halloween wanted to drunk-dial an ex, I wouldn’t let it and would take it to Waffle House for coffee and hashbrowns, scattered, smothered and covered.
 - I would loan Halloween’s ex-con brother-in-law fifty dollars. 
 - I would help Halloween bury a dead hooker in the desert.
 - I would let Halloween borrow my car to follow Taylor Swift on tour.
 - I wouldn’t care that Halloween is a huge fan of Taylor Swift.
 - I would dog-sit Halloween’s incontinent, blind chihuahua for a month.
 - I don’t want to have kids, but if Halloween asked me to have its babies, I would.

Even though my sensibilities always lean toward the darker end of the spectrum, October is when I really let the blood splatter. 
But, don’t worry. 
It’s mostly fake blood. 

So, I apologize in advance for the coming month of Halloween and horror related hi-jinks.  If it’s not your cup ‘o tea, I understand and I’ll see you in November.

For the rest of you, please let me know how much you love Halloween.

kick in the pants

So, there I was, sitting on the couch, netbook in my lap, fingers hovering over the keyboard while I screamed “write damn you! write!” Predictably, this method did not produce anything worth while.  I feared that my slump was  solidifying into a full on block. 

Then, I get an email from my blogging BFF, Katie O. asking if I would be interested in guest blogging.  I’ll be honest, my first reaction was “hells no!”  But, I calmed down, Katie sympathized and I thought about it for a moment.  Perhaps this was exactly what I needed to get my juices flowing again.  Plus, how could I turn town such a request? A blog is a very personal thing and when someone asks you to contribute your voice to their forum, it is quite an honor. 

Thank you Katie for giving me the kick in the pants I needed!

Click here to read my guest post of test-kitchen approved drink recipes using leftover Halloween candy.

haul off the zombies, it’s over

The chiseled features of the pumpkins are now sagging and shriveled. Once bright, supple flesh is now mottled and mold ravaged. The candles have exhausted themselves; puddles of pallid wax and charred bits of wick scattered across the mantle. The bats are limp and spiders are legs up. It’s time to mop up the blood and pack away Halloween for another year.

Goodbye Zombie Zone . . .

Goodbye candles and spiders . . .

Goodbye smoking cauldron and bottles of potions . . .

I will try to stay strong and not shed a tear as I carefully wrap my skulls in paper and box them up with the cauldrons and candelabra.  Besides, it’s hard to stay sad too long with a bag of B positive waiting to be tapped.


*Many thanks to The Zen Assassin for the Zombie Zone sign!

if I could get away with it, I’d dress like this all the time

My job has a “use them or lose them” policy when it comes to vacation days. I had two days left to use before my anniversary date in November, so I took off yesterday and today.  I figured that I would need the extra time to prepare for my Halloween party and boy was I right.  Because I tend to be a little OCD and a bit of a perfectionist, I was fiddling with my decorations for most of the day yesterday.  I know that no one will care if I have three spiders hanging from the doorway or two, but I spent hours rearranging them anyway.  I settled on three spiders. For some reason odd numbers calm me. Yeah, I have a therapist.

Today will be spent buying food and vacuuming.  You’re enthralled, I know.  I also have to get my costume together.  I have all the main pieces, but I think I still need some details.  Like goggles.  And dry ice.  And a Van de Graaff generator.  I may have to do without that last one.

I’m not going to reveal my costume here untill Halloween, but I will let you see my costume from last year (and because I promised fellow Halloween junkie Thought’s Appear that I would). 

That is me on the left as zombie Princess Leia, my mom in the middle as The Ghost of Halloween and my sister on the right as Julie McCoy the Cruise Director from The Love Boat.  If you haven’t read the story about last year’s Halloween party I would really love if you would.  It’s a big ball of rad.

Here’s another pic with my mom’s boyfriend Captain Bill (yes he really is a captain).

He didn’t rent that costume, folks.  He made everything.  Capt’n Bill don’t play. 

Here’s one with my husband.

Yes, my husband is Stewie Griffin from Family Guy.  The only way he would dress up is if he could be Stewie so I sewed a big pair of red overalls for him.  He already owned the teddy bear. 

So, yeah, last year’s Halloween is a big act to follow.  I know that there won’t be any surprise guests or explosions, but that’s okay.  I am looking forward to spending time with some old friends who I haven’t seen in a while. 

Excuse me, I have some spiders to rearrange.

counting down . . .

Halloween is almost here, and I still have a ton to do.  The annual Halloween party, which we normally have at my sister’s house, will be at my house this year.  This will be the very first time I have ever hosted a party that didn’t have “bridal” or “baby” in front of it.  So, this will be the very first time that I have hosted a party where the only draw was my company.  Until now, my fear of throwing a party where no one bothered to show up prevented any such get-togethers.  Actually, I still have that fear.  It’s irrational, I suppose.  I didn’t invite a ton of people (mostly because I don’t know a ton of people), but I am fairly certain that at least three people will show up.  I’m a believer in quality over quantity, anyway.

No matter how many people are there, I still need to clean the house, put the final touches on the decorations, buy snacks, make snacks, fill my blood bag with wine and load my pumpkins with candles.  Yes, real candles, not those flickering, plastic, LED things.  Fire safety be damned.  Plus, my pumpkins deserve the real thing.

I love carving pumpkins.  Sometimes the pumpkin tells you what kind of face it wants, like the one with the worm hole in it up top.  Gotta find a gummy worm to poke out of that hole.  I’m kind of a purist in that I’ve never used one of those templates where you  punch all the little holes first.  I think they are cool looking, but I’d just rather do a quick sketch and start stabbing.  I mean cutting. 

That’s how we roll in Dethlehem.