Friday, September 30, 2016

Jack-o’-Lantern Park ‘Deceaseful Settings’ -- to be done in downtime

By Jack O. Lantern
‘Head’ Writer/Editor

Jack-o’-Lantern Park is a great place to visit before Halloween, especially if you’re a pumpkin.

Pumpkins who’ve spent any time under the Pumpkin Patch at the Pumpkin Caves Spirit Club know it’s a great place to lay low, enjoy various dishes of dirt and soak up all the water their roots can savor.

If you’re a scarecrow, however, the best place in Jack-o’-Lantern Park to go to get some rest before the big night of Oct. 31st is the Hay Fields right off Scarecrow Square.

“Everyone thinks being a scarecrow is easy,” said longtime Jack-o’-Lantern Park resident Claire Crowe. “But if you’re a working scarecrow, you know that standing on a stick in the middle of a field for months on end, scaring crows all day and all night, is exhausting. The best place to go to finally lay down and get that stiffness out of your back is the Hay Fields.”

According to the brochure, the Hay Fields is a wide-open hay meadow filled with temper-pedic straw and a full-service hay salon. Signature experiences include the three-hour (Bloody) Red Carpet-Ready treatment that offers a pumpkin juice massage, an ageless beauty haycial and a mani/pedi.

“This place was first recommended to me by a friend about 15 years ago after my first season scaring crows,” Crowe said. “I went in for shoulder and upper back tightness and found a great bargain through Groupon. I decided to get a neuromuscular massage and I had the greatest experience, thanks to Zivah. While other reviewers have noted that the Hay Fields feel more like worker fields, I couldn’t disagree more. The quality of my massage and the ambience of these particular fields were amazing in my opinion. Before every Halloween season, I look forward to my appointments with Zivah, and I always look forward to my follow-ups after Halloween night. Zivah and the Hay Fields are the best.”

But if you’re not a pumpkin or a scarecrow, and you’re looking for a place to kick back and relax, check out Pumpkintime at the top of Pumpkin Peak. Sponsored by Jack-o’-Lantern Press and located in the courtyard of the JLP Pumpkinheadquarters building, Pumpkintime is an outdoor amphitheater that hosts live ghost storytelling. It’s a great experience where you can be a part of the visceral dialogue between teller and audience.

“Our mission is to promote the art and craft of ghosts telling ghost stories through jack-o’-lantern vessels, and to celebrate and honor the commonality and diversity of the universal ghost experience,” said Pumpkintime founder I.M. Skairey. “We also work with young spirits and pumpkinhead-ucators to build community through ghost story workshops, performances and innovative resources.”

Those who attend Pumpkintime are always moved.

“It takes guts to go up in front of a live audience -- and even a dead audience -- and tell your personal ghost stories,” said Paul-o’-Lantern, who has been to more than a dozen Pumpkintime shows in the last year. “Those storytellers that have guts lay those bloody, gruesome innards all over the stage to bring their stories to gory life. And it’s awesome. The ghosts that aren’t able to expose their guts are still cool, though.”

Every Oct. 30th, the Great Pumpkin -- a regular storyteller at Pumpkintime -- takes the stage, following the Grover’s Mill Martians, to retell the tale of the time he stood up a group of trick-or-treaters who waited for him in the most sincere pumpkin patch around.

“The word ‘legendary’ is sometimes misused at Pumpkintime,” said the Carver from Carver’s Corner. “I’ve seen a lot of storytellers grace that stage in my time, and they’re all really top-notch, but the Great Pumpkin’s story about standing up those kids is, in every sense of the word, legendary.”

From the guy who curses the pumpkins that he carves and shares with guests, that’s saying a lot.

Still, there’s more to see in Jack-o’-Lantern Park. There’s the Deadly Petting Zoo (please feed the “animals”), there’s Pumpkin Launcher Landing (this is best after Halloween when pumpkins are gonna die anyway -- launching each other to their smashing deaths is a quick way to get it over with), there’s Lookout Point on Pumpkin Peak (for those who have to romance their victims instead of chase them down, Lookout Point provides romantic locales with excellent views of Transyl-vein-ia) and there’s Lantern Lane where you can experience the Festival of the Lantern Lights (jack-o’-lanterns from all over the region come to the fest wearing their best carved faces and illuminated by the brightest candles in their heads for an extraordinary night of jack-o’-lantern light and magic).

Get to where you need to go in Jack-o’-Lantern Park by way of the Tractor Ride Transit, the district’s premier transportation system. Those who use it more than three times in a week will earn ride tickets on the Transyl-vein-ia Express. And if you’re traveling to other Transyl-vein-ia districts, the Tractor Ride Transit makes stops at the Transyl-vein-ia Express Train Station.

The Transyl-vein-ia Express is a great way to travel Transyl-vein-ia, especially if you’re a monster. Fortunately, it’s not a great way to escape, especially if you’re human. 

This is one in a series of TRAVEL STORIES from the 13 districts of Transyl-vein-ia. These stories run weekdays between August and September. Jack-o’-Lantern Press’s regular news and entertainment coverage will continue in October.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Jack-o’-Lantern Park ‘Hidden Harms’ -- behind the screams

By Jack O. Lantern
‘Head’ Writer/Editor

Like Halloween itself, Jack-o’-Lantern Park holds a magic and a mystery that brings out the child in all of us. Our curiosity draws us in, our fears heighten our experience, and of course, we’re all after a good dose of monster mayhem.

Pay a visit to Jack-o’-Lantern Park and you’ll see. But it takes work to be voted the No. 1 Place Most Resembling Halloween With Its Curiosity, Fear and Monster Mayhem Factors for 100 years in a row, and the folks responsible for receiving the annual honor take us behind the screams so we can see how they do it.

“I’ve done my scream runs every night for 100 years straight,” said the Headless Horseman, who resides in Jack-o’-Lantern Park. “I missed only one night of all 100 years, and there was no way I could go out. I had the worst flu anyone has ever had. My fever was 475 -- and that was without the scorching pumpkin head. I had muscle aches, a headache to end all headaches and fatigue that wouldn’t let up. I couldn’t hold my food down either. I was bent over the creek all night spitting up pumpkin seeds like you wouldn’t believe, so there was no way I was gonna jump on a horse and ride around Headless Horseman Pass, screaming and laughing, and I certainly wasn’t going to cross the bridge into the human world of Sleepy Hollow to find lone riders to chase. How could I throw my pumpkin head at folks if I couldn’t even hold the thing?”

When asked why his scream runs are so important, Headless said it’s not only key to the atmosphere of Jack-o’-Lantern Park, it’s also the main reason Jack-o’-Lantern Park is the top Halloween destination in all of Transyl-vein-ia.

“Even if you can’t hear my iconic laugh,” Headless said, “which took me decades to perfect, there’s a type of aftertaste in the air from that laugh that drifts throughout the land. It’s not heard. It’s felt. And I’m not gonna lie -- it’s true magic. It’s what everyone claims they feel when they come here during Halloween season. I do that to our visitors. You’re welcome.”

However, the candy corners in the Candy Corn Fields claim they’re the ones responsible for the big draw of creatures in October.

“It’s the magic of mellowcreme that most monsters merrily must put in their mouths to make them feel mischievous and marvelous on Halloween,” said longtime candy corner, Candee Corn. “Count Dracula comes out every couple days during the season to collect candy for his casket and his constant need for candy consumption. He loves the little lovely pumpkin shapes, and loves the flavor lots more. Frankenstein’s Monster eats so many of our candy snacks that he gets sick to his stomach and loses his stiches. He can’t get enough. And then there are the werewolves that come way out here from Werewolf Woods or wherever. They don’t even worry if the candy corn is pumpkin-shaped or the traditional candy corn cones. They just gobble it up.”

Ask the Monsters Ball DJ and he’ll tell you monsters want music and dance, not candy or the Headless Horseman’s laugh.

“Candy’s nice and I’m all for the crazy horse rider, but that’s not anything compared to what I do here at the Ball,” DJ said. “And monsters don’t wanna run around terrorizing, moaning and groaning all the time either. We monsters wanna get our funk on, and I provide the venue and the environment to give them the release they need after chasing babysitters and reckless teenagers all night.”

Asked if the “Monster Mash” is still a hot track these days, DJ told us it is, but only in October.

“You can get away with playing it in during Halloween season, and ghosts and ghoulies will totally dig it,” he said. “But you play that record any other time of the year, and you’ll get thrown to the bird people in Raven Patch.”

Raven Patch is an underrated spot in Jack-o’-Lantern Park. Even the bird people there don’t think it’s what brings visitors to the area. But they welcome anyone to come anyway.

“We raven-humanoids invite you to the Worm Fields for our famous jumbo worms,” said Big Bird Man in a recent interview. “And please, don’t use my full name for this article. I don’t need any of those stupid Sesame Street jokes. Just call me Jim. Anyway, the price for our box of jumbo worms and a soft drink has remained set at $1.50 since the mid-80s, and we sell more than four times the number of jumbo worms sold at all the combined death matches at the Coliseum in Monster Island’s Gorgon Gorge every single year.”  

According to Jack-o’-Lantern Press’s fact-checking service, Big Bird Man’s numbers aren’t even close to accurate. The Coliseum’s sales numbers for jumbo worms is through the roof, whereas those in Raven Patch are still on the floor, which goes to show that you just can’t trust a raven-humanoid named after a big, yellow, fluffy puppet.

In all truth, Jack-o’-Lantern Park isn’t even that busy during the Halloween season. According to the Jack-o’-Lantern Park Chamber of Commerce, most monsters are in the human world for the Halloween season by October 1st. So the Park is dead, and not in a good way. About the only place hopping in Jack-o’-Lantern Park is the Pumpkin Caves Spirit Club underneath the Pumpkin Patch, and most of the haunters going there are all retired.

If you didn’t know already, we jack-o’-lanterns are not the pumpkins themselves. We’re ghosts. We’re confined to one pumpkin a year and most of us suffer our deaths every November (either smashed after Halloween night, made into pies for Thanksgiving or we die of natural causes), but we’re reincarnated into a new, growing pumpkin on the day after our demise. In the early stages of our lives, we use our roots to go deep into the ground and pull nutrients away from other gourdes so we grow into bigger and better terrors. Though there are a few of us who lay on our sides so we grow deformed. The thought is that those who are deformed won’t get picked for Halloween or Thanksgiving, which keeps us from having to go through the carving process, the pumpkin pie process or the reincarnation process. I’m not gonna lie -- the reincarnation process sucks.

At nighttime in the patch, we float around and scare those wandering through the rows of pumpkins, but we can’t stray far from our pumpkin vessels and we feel everything our pumpkin vessels go through, whether we’re in the shell or not.

But it’s during the day that we go deep into our roots, down into the ground and into the Pumpkin Caves for the best daylife activities you’ll find anywhere. The place is known for its lack of TVs and clocks, making it the ultimate place for happy hour drinks that turn into daycaps.

Last year, the Pumpkin Caves Spirit Club operated as a speakeasy during pumpkin prohibition, which was the result of those who were sick of everything being artificially pumpkinized. Transyl-vein-ia banned all pumpkinizing machines, forcing the Pumpkin Caves (which is already underground) to go underground and illegally offer pumpkin-flavored goodies to those who had to have them.

Over the summer, we were happy to announce that our elected officials brought artificial pumpkinization back, and this year there will be more pumpkin-flavored goods on the market than ever before, hopefully doing away with the unnecessary deaths of pumpkins that were used last year to recreate the artificial pumpkin flavoring that so many individuals needed.

“You want a good dose of monster mayhem?” said Jill O. Lantern, president of the Jack-o’-Lantern Park Chamber of Commerce. “OK, so maybe we did make up the whole ‘voted No. 1 Place Most Resembling Halloween With Its Curiosity, Fear and Monster Mayhem Factors.’ We need the business here, so we’ll do anything. But you take away a monster’s artificially pumpkin-flavored treat and see what happens. There may be no mystery in it, but there’ll be plenty of fear for the fool who does the taking and plenty of monster mayhem.” 

This is one in a series of TRAVEL STORIES from the 13 districts of Transyl-vein-ia. These stories run weekdays between August and September. Jack-o’-Lantern Press’s regular news and entertainment coverage will continue in October.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Jack-o’-Lantern Park ‘Rot Spots’ -- this is Halloween

By Jack O. Lantern
‘Head’ Writer/Editor

After months of life without Halloween, the day has arrived -- October 1st. Jack-o’-Lantern Park is something to be seen, but go, then, go now, for it’s the worst.

Orange and yellow leaves are falling from the trees, there’s a cool crispness in the air, a fall breeze.

Pumpkins fill the fields and scarecrows stand tall. And with that, welcome to Halloween Country, one and all.

Of course, it’s Halloween all year long, and every day in Jack-o’-Lantern Park. The leaves are always falling strong, and there’s crispness in the air . . . even in the dark.

In the Pumpkin Patch up on Pumpkin Peak, there’s a never-ending supply of pumpkins growing. And even though they’re shopped every day all week, the pumpkins are always overflowing.

Back in Carver’s Corner, the Carver works on his creations. The pumpkins are always there, and so’s the Carver and all his relations.

The produce at The Stand tastes better this time of year. The apples on Apple Ranch are redder, the corn belonging to no finer ear.

In Pumpkin Goodie Gully, you can get pumpkin-flavored cookies, teas . . . pumpkin pie, pumpkin crackers and even pumpkin cheese.

Bring your best roast -- they’ll pumpkinize it on the spot. Take them old rats, toads and brains to boast -- they’ll add pumpkin flavor to all you’ve got.

It’s all the same, no matter when you go. Shine or rain, October’s best, you know.  

Visit the Corn Maze, give it a try. You’ll find creatures there since April, May, June and July.

It’s when you find the dead that you should worry. You may be too deep in the maze -- you better hurry.

It doesn’t help that the walls change and the paths close. There’s a right way to go, but nobody knows.

Tree Valley is always best in October, so stop by for a bite to eat. No need to sit down, it’s actually best to run. Because you’re the bite -- you’re the treat.

And when you get to the Halloween trees, full of jack-o’-lanterns and bumbling bees, you will know and you’ll know for good reason, it’s best to go during Halloween season.

Of course, it’s Halloween all year long in Jack-o’-Lantern Park, and it’s the same in the day and in the dark.

But during Halloween season, it’s just right. It’s even better on Halloween night.

This is one in a series of TRAVEL STORIES from the 13 districts of Transyl-vein-ia. These stories run weekdays between August and September. Jack-o’-Lantern Press’s regular news and entertainment coverage will continue in October.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

UFO Springs ‘Deceaseful Settings’ -- once you’re in the life, there’s no leaving the life

By Al Eean
Staff Skies Writer

If you’re in Podtown and inside the warehouses where pods are being grown, you can consider yourself officially one of us.

Ah, I remember Day 00. I thought I was enlisting in the Transyl-vein-ia Armed, Legged, Winged and Finned Forces (the native mutants and monsters) at Pest Point Camp, but somehow I boarded the wrong transport and ended up in Podtown as a volunteer for Transyl-vein-ia’s other military branch -- the Alien Invaders Unit.

I’m sure you’re like I was and shocked to see so many pods in the warehouses. The body snatchers were busy when I arrived there 20 years ago. They were duplicating bodies in the hundreds. Today, you’ll notice bodies in the thousands.

After being sworn in, you’ll be assigned to an attack squad. You get a bed in your squad’s barracks, you’ll be yelled at for a few hours, you’ll find there’s a lot of hurry-up-and-wait-to-do-something-for-10-minutes, and then they’ll let you sleep for an hour or two.

On Day 01, you’ll stand in formation pointlessly for two hours. You’ll get shots, dog tags, an I.D. card . . . I remember my I.D. card. I looked tough as nails in the picture, but it was easy to for me to look tough. I felt tough. While I’m half alien, my mother’s parents come from Werewolftown, so, compared to some of those little white extra-terrestrials in my squad, I couldn’t help but feel tough as nails. My picture on my I.D. card showed my fangs and all. I looked like a beast. I still have that card.

Day 02 was filled mostly with more hurry-up-and-wait-to-do-something-for-10-minutes. I went to the dentist -- not by choice. They removed my fangs. I realize it now, but I didn’t know then that it was for my own protection. Werewolf fangs -- especially when you’re under the spell of a full moon (and if you’re invading the moon, that’s real bad for a guy like me) -- could be used to snap that helmet into pieces. That’s bad if you’re invading a planet with no air pressure. Silver bullet or no silver bullet, a half werewolf like myself wouldn’t survive that.

Day 03 is when you begin what’s called Hell Week. They teach you how to use laser beams, jet packs and your mental abilities -- which we all have, by the way -- to perform telepathy. You learn how to pilot UFOs, work the abductor beams and draw crop circles. My circles were terrible at first. I burned down three farms before I finally made a circle, and even then it looked more like a deformed rhombus.

It wasn’t until Day 10 that things started to get good. You get to take a UFO out to Red Devil’s Highway, which runs through UFO Springs, and do some abducting of your own. Before that, you had to be with at least one or two of the higher-ups. I snatched up this one young couple that had just gotten out of the Valley of Doom. They thought they’d made a clean break. That was 20 years ago. I still have that couple in preservation tanks at my home. They’re right there in my living room for guests to see. I even put green lights in the tanks to make them look really cool.

On Day 15, you’ll have the chance to go on an actual mission to other planets. It’s kind of like the mission you made during your recruitment, but this time you know you’ll be visiting other planets to gather intelligence, unlike the first time you went when you thought you were just on a tour. You’ll first go to the Intell Collection Agency located just outside Podtown. They’ll teach you how to capture and store data in the part of your brain that most beings don’t use. Lucky for me, I’m part alien, so it was easy for me to catch on. Zombies, on the other hand, have a hard time with this part of the training because their brains are pretty shot. Most of those guys and gals drop out when they get back to base.

On Day 27, you return with all the intelligence you’ve gathered. Intell Collection agents transfer it from your head into massive database systems. It’s a draining process, but afterward they give you two weeks of R&R. I spent my time at the Tractor Beam Inn. It’s still there in Podtown. That place literally sucks you in. They’ve got dancing, food and drink, and a nice game room with billiards, darts and mind games. There was this one ET I met there that played all kinds of mind games with me. I ended up marrying her. We bought a nice place in Transyl-vein-ia Hills and had two kids -- one white, one green. My oldest just had his first werewolf transformation the other night. Lycanthrope blood is thick. He took off for Werewolftown and joined the Gypsy Traveling Carnival. These kids today.

Day 50 is your big day because that’s when Alien Invaders get their first invasion papers to ship out. I shipped out on Day 66. Some ship out as soon as Day 51. On my first invasion, I somehow messed up the warp drive and thought I was over my target planet, only to discover I was really over Bigfoot National Park. I abducted Bigfoot and somehow sent him into the human world by accident, so then I had to go through the Bermuda Triangle to recover him, except my navigator got sucked out of the ship by the Tractor Beam Inn (I told you -- that place literally sucks you in), so I found myself over Monster Island. A giant octopus just off the shore batted my craft even more off course than I already was, I lost my instrumentation, side-swiped some witches doing a moon run just outside Witches Meadow, but somehow regained control of my craft only to realize my abductor beam was still on and I’d sucked up 10,000 gallons of the Black Lagoon’s worst waters. The toxic fluid ate through my abduction tank and started flooding my cockpit, so I tried to land somewhere safe, but the mountains I was flying over were moving, reaching for me and throwing rocks at me -- rock monsters from the Carpathian Mountains, no doubt. I slammed my ship into overdrive, water still coming into the cockpit, and I tried to find -- without instrumentation -- some flat ground in the Valley of Doom that I could use as a runway. There was a sandstorm there that threw me over to Shadow City. I couldn’t afford to land in that place. My luck was bad enough. That’s when I found Red Devil’s Highway in Downtown Transyl-vein-ia, but I got caught in one of the King Kong performances on top of King Kong Pavilion, and he thought I was one of the planes diving for him and he swatted me into the Mad Science District where I crashed into some lab on Lab Lane in the middle of an experiment that then transported me into the Corn Maze in Jack-o’-Lantern Park. Left with no food, I spend three weeks trying to get out of that ridiculous labyrinth.

On Day 51, I came out of the maze and found myself in Jack-o’-Lantern Park’s Pumpkin Goodie Gully. If you find yourself in Pumpkin Goodie Gully, you can consider yourself officially in Halloween Country. And if you’re in Halloween Country, you might as well live it up. You’ll have plenty of other chances to attack the many other worlds out there in your lifetime. You just eat up that pumpkin-flavored goodness while you have the chance.

This is one in a series of TRAVEL STORIES from the 13 districts of Transyl-vein-ia. These stories run weekdays between August and September. Jack-o’-Lantern Press’s regular news and entertainment coverage will continue in October.

Monday, September 26, 2016

UFO Springs ‘Hidden Harms’ -- beyond the sky’s limit

By Al Eean
Staff Skies Writer

If you previously had the opportunity to wander around UFO Springs on your own time and check out some of the more popular landmarks, but you only have one more night to spend in this exciting Transyl-vein-ian district, you should end your trip with the worlds-famous UFO Springs Tour.

Below is the tour schedule. It’ll keep you on the move, but you can expect to get an extraordinary behind-the-scenes look at the extra-terrestrial community of UFO Springs within just a 10-hour period:

2100 hours: Land at Crop Circle -- it’s the main street, and yes, it’s in the middle of all the crops, so don’t bother asking the aliens if you’re in the right spot. You are. There’s a briefing at 2100 hours sharp, so don’t be late. Your tour guide will fill you in on all the things you’ll do and see on the tour. Please leave your cameras back in your hotel room, that way any pictures you took on the first part of your trip to UFO Springs of UFOs or ETs can be destroyed by hotel staff. We don’t need any definitive evidence of either UFOs or ETs.

2130 hours: Board the tour saucers. From the skies, you’ll be able to get an alien’s-eye view via night vision of UFO Springs. You’ll hover over the crop circles on Old McDonald’s Farm, design a few of your own (don’t be afraid to screw up the crops or make stick-circles), you’ll see attack sites and all kinds of historic wreckage from the air, and you’ll land at Area 13 to check out the Area 13 Attacktime Museum.

2200 hours: If you’ve already been to the Attacktime Museum, don’t expect to see the same stuff. On the tour, you’re granted an all-access pass to the place, and you’ll even get to see top secret attack plans and strategies that aliens used in past invasions, which you’ll be tested on later. Commit that stuff to memory.

2300 hours: Lunchtime. You’ll have an hour to eat something at the Alien Eats Café in Area 13. Try the Moon Rocks, have some Mars Meal and enjoy “human” food, too.

0100 hours: Meet at Fleet Week Field. Every week is Fleet Week in Area 13. Fleet Week Every Week began in 1981, and it’s a way to celebrate both the alien invaders of UFO Springs and even the native monsters and mutants that defended it. From the field, you’ll get to check out the UFO Air Show, the parade of infantry monsters and many community events that have become a significant and integral part of UFO Springs’ local culture and economy. There are also Alien/Monster fights, which you don’t want to miss. It’s fun to see what happens if you root for the wrong side in the wrong section.

0300 hours: Board the tour saucers again. This time you’re on your way to Abduction Desert, and, again, if you’ve been there before, you still haven’t seen what you’re going to see on the tour. On the tour, you don’t just get to see abductions. You get to actually be abducted. It’s a good learning experience -- to know what it’s like. You’ll be taken through the Bermuda Triangle Portal to see what that’s like, too. That’s right -- the Bermuda Triangle a.k.a. the Big Daddy of all portals. Didn’t you recognize all the airplanes and steamer ships when you landed in the desert? Where do you think all those came from?

0400 hours: Back at Abduction Desert, board the tour saucers yet again. You’ll be taken on a comprehensive flyby tour of various planets and solar systems (you’ll travel through time, so this will seem to take a lot longer than the hour that’s slotted on the schedule). Next, you’ll land at the Launching Pad and Airway on Rocket Road to see where folks just like you go to board crafts to visit other worlds (for intelligence-gathering purposes) and where they go to board attack crafts to fly to and take over those worlds.

0500 hours: You’ll be teleported to the adjoining Rocket and Craft Factory. If you saw the factory on your own time, it’s nothing like what you’ll see on the tour. No need going to rocket-building floor or the UFO Museum again. That stuff is more for tourists. You’re past that point now. On the tour, you’ll be fitted for your very own space suit, given training, and you’ll even sign papers to volunteer for the next alien invasion of another world (no extra costs or fees).

0700 hours: Get on board more saucers to Podtown. There, alien recruiters will officially swear you in. Welcome to the Alien Invaders Unit. It’s time for basic training . . . 

This is one in a series of TRAVEL STORIES from the 13 districts of Transyl-vein-ia. These stories run weekdays between August and September. Jack-o’-Lantern Press’s regular news and entertainment coverage will continue in October.

Friday, September 23, 2016

UFO Springs ‘Rot Spots’ -- these places all have good 'up' views

By Al Eean
Staff Skies Writer

Aliens from other worlds began attacking what we now call UFO Springs on April 8, 1948. The 15 years that followed, which became known as Big Bad Attack 1 (BBA1), would prove to be one of the bloodiest conflicts in Transyl-vein-ia’s history, even bloodier than the vampire wars of 1027 B.D. (Before Dracula).

Over three million extra-terrestrials would come down and attack . . . for fun. Over three million zombies and mutants of the Transyl-vein-ia Armed, Legged, Winged and Finned Forces would defend their land . . . They had fun, too. But everyone and everything died by the time it was all over.

Today, E.T.s and natives live in harmony, and UFO Springs has become one of the top places to visit in Transyl-vein-ia.

Those who come to the Springs can walk through various forts and bunkers used during BBA1, examine an array of artillery pieces, explore the various museums and enjoy the views that the area’s defenders saw when UFOs and laser beams were raining down on them like the Great Rains did on Monster Island in ‘68.

History buffs will enjoy stepping foot inside Area 13 and checking out what’s left of the different types of aliens captured and autopsied there during the big attack. The carcasses have somehow not rotted away after all these years, but that doesn’t mean the smell won’t wipe you out on impact.

You can spend a whole night at Area 13. There are nightly tours of Pest Point Camp for the military, the Stage Roar Canteen (the famed restaurant and nightclub for native and allied servicemonsters of BBA1) never closes and several battlefields and other attack locations and preservation sites are open to the public.

Guests will enjoy UFO flybys, live cow abductions and military reenactments. But UFO Springs has plenty of other things to offer as well.

Below is a list of places to check out when you visit:

-Old MacDonald’s Farm (more comprehensive farm animal abductions than those at Area 13)

-Saucer Gazers Point

-Abduction Desert


-UFO Springs Launching Pad and Airway (be sure to check out the UFO Museum)

UFO Springs is a military town. When you arrive, be prepared to keep a tight schedule. But be sure to come in by bus. If you fly in, the natives tend to get a little jumpy and they’ll most likely shoot you out of the sky. No one wants another 15 years of warfare. 

This is one in a series of TRAVEL STORIES from the 13 districts of Transyl-vein-ia. These stories run weekdays between August and September. Jack-o’-Lantern Press’s regular news and entertainment coverage will continue in October.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Valley of Doom ‘Deceaseful Settings’ -- everything’s dead out here

By Death
Staff Gloom & Doom Writer

If your idea of a vacation to the Valley of Doom was a couple days or a week or two, and not the rest of your life, then maybe you shouldn’t have gone to Tombtown in the first place. Tough to get out of those bandages you’re wrapped in, especially when you’re inside a sarcophagus. It’s that plain and simple. Ah, the simple things . . .

You can holler and scream if you’d like, but it won’t do you any good. If you’re a werewolf, you might try to shred the bandages off your body with your teeth. That’ll work. The bandages aren’t so tough to get through. However, you’ll never get out of that casket. Those things hold in the worst curses.

And now you’ll never get to search for those ancient scrolls that are supposed to be buried somewhere in these parts. Folks say the scrolls hold the secrets to monster life. They might even tell you how to get out of that sarcophagus and those bandages you’re in.

But you’ll never know.

You’ll never be able to stop by the Valley Inn and Tennis Club. Located in the middle of the Valley in the middle of nowhere, the inn is one of the most famous resorts in Transyl-vein-ia.

Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, the Invisible Man, Medusa, Greta Witch and the Voodoo Queen have all been guests there at one time or another. Nighttime activities include golf, horseback riding, horseshoes, archery, Ping-Pong, shuffleboard, swimming, card tournaments and, of course, tennis -- all the things monsters like doing when they’re not wielding chainsaws, stomping on metropolises or sinking fangs into some poor victim’s neck. Each evening there’s dancing and entertainment. It’s a heck of a good time.

But you’ll never know.

You’ll never be able to hitch a ride from one of the big rigs cruising Hell’s Highway. You’ll never get a chance to stay at the Motel 666 (where they’ll turn the lights out on you).

Ah, the open highway -- it would’ve taken you out of the Valley of Doom. If you couldn’t thumb a ride, you would’ve had no problem finding a trucker to tag along with at El Diablo Truck Stop.

You would’ve been passing Fat Jack Manor by now. It’s right off the highway. Folks are always breaking down near the old place. They go to the door to ask to use a phone. Never mind all the cakes, candy, machetes and axes lying around. Just don’t call Jack fat, or . . .

It doesn’t matter. You’ll never know if you would’ve been one of the lucky ones to survive Fat Jack’s wrath. You’ll never know if you would’ve been one of the few to survive the demon trucks on that route either.

If only you didn’t stop in Tombtown. You could’ve been on Hell’s Highway. Although, according to legend, those who get onto Hell’s Highway never get off. It just keeps going and going and going in this endless valley. There are no u-turns, no right turns, no left turns . . . The highway is never-ending. Maybe you chose wisely by stopping off in Tombtown. Maybe you avoided a far worse fate.

But you’ll never know because you came to the Valley of Doom for the simple things. And now you’ve got the mummy’s curse for eternity. In other words: You're stuck here. There’s nothing complicated about that.

This is one in a series of TRAVEL STORIES from the 13 districts of Transyl-vein-ia. These stories run weekdays between August and September. Jack-o’-Lantern Press’s regular news and entertainment coverage will continue in October.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Valley of Doom ‘Hidden Harms’ -- they’re hiding in the middle of nowhere

By Death
Staff Gloom & Doom Writer

It’s the journey that matters, not the destination. But the destination is the Valley of Doom.

If you’ve spent the money on the plane ticket and you’ve already put down a deposit on the room at Doc Howliday’s Hotel and Saloon, then chances are you’ve come to realize the Valley of Doom is really just one big desert. Maybe you knew that coming in, but now you sure’s well know there isn’t a whole lot to do here.

Bear with me a moment. If life’s all about the journey and not the destination, then that means it’s the little things that count. And I got a slew of little things here just dying to eat you, and then some.

Here are a bunch of little great things you’ll find in the Valley of Doom that you’ll just love:

Clean shave
Stop by Butcher’s Barbershop and Meat Market in Border Basin for a clean shave. There’s nothing like it. Even if you plan on going nowhere for the next few months (and if you’re in the Valley of Doom, you ain’t goin’ nowhere for at least a few months), there’s something about a sharp blade against your skin (or scales, depending on your orientation) that really takes the cake. It’s when that blade gets to your neck and the barber slips . . . You can’t buy that kind of pleasure. (Getting butchered at Butcher’s, by the way, is $1.99.)

Food waiting for you
Stop by any hole-in-the-wall eatery in Border Basin, and you’ll smell food cooking. You’re very tired, you had a long day in the heat, and you haven’t got the energy to cook your own grub. Try the Broken Spoke. Can you smell that steak and those potatoes and beans? The food’s always waiting for you at your table. It’ll wait for you to sit down. Then it’ll jump up and get you in one big bite.

All eyes on you
Go into any saloon in Monster Mesa just outside of Border Basin, and all eyes are on you, stranger. The talking stops. The piano stops. Don’t you just love that silence? What follows is pretty much your destruction.

The Monster Mountain Mine in Monster Mesa has a rickety ol’ railroad that’ll take you deep into the farthest depths of the mountain. Ghosts are at play in there. And bats come swooping down on you from every angle. The real pleasure comes when you hear that BOOM sound. Folks just love that racket, especially when there’s no time to get back out of the mine. Even the runaway mine train is nowhere to be found because it usually runs away while you’re admiring the rock formations inside the mountain. That BOOM sound is from the dynamiting. BOOOOOOOOM! BAM! CRASH! It’s the little things . . .

Out there in the Valley you can shout and hear your echo. It’s a child’s joy, but we all love doing it. However, I think we can all agree that it’s the growl that follows that makes us smile most, especially when it’s the actual growl you hear, not just the echo. The beast is close.

Waking up in the middle of nowhere
Just when you thought it was all a dream, you wake up from your heat exhaustion snooze and find yourself in the middle of the hottest desert anywhere, full of deadly predators and no water whatsoever. It’s a dream come true.

You’re in a mummy’s tomb somewhere in Tombtown. It’s full of cobwebs. And dust! Lots and lots of dust. There’s dust in your nose, dust in your throat, dust in your lungs . . . You can’t even breathe because there’s so much dust in you and all around you. Gesundheit. You’re welcome.

The flute
Ah, Mummy’s Marketplace in Tombtown -- it’s crowded with monsters buying and selling goods. Suddenly you hear that most pleasing sound: the flute. It makes such beautiful music. Those snakes coming out of the baskets near you are the real treats.

Amulet of Doom
There’s nothing like a night out at the Kafe Klaris in Tombtown (the famous mummy crooner, Klaris, just opened the swinging place a couple hundred years ago). Good food, good entertainment from the Klarisketeers . . . and good fortune from the Amulet of Doom, which is in your coat pocket. You may not even know it’s there until it’s too late. Good times.

Your bed all made up for you
It’s been a long day, you’ve had all the terrors and doom you can stand. You go into the Oasis in Tombtown for some rest and relief. There’s a bed made up for you. Don’t you love the feel of fresh sheets? And when the tombkeepers wrap you in all those bandages, and then the lid of the sarcophagus closes on you -- never to be opened again for all of eternity -- you know it’s all over. Talk about simple pleasures. Tony Bennett may’ve sung a song about leaving his heart in San Francisco, but if he were with you now in the Valley of Doom, he’d have a whole lot more to sing about leaving behind in this place. 

This is one in a series of TRAVEL STORIES from the 13 districts of Transyl-vein-ia. These stories run weekdays between August and September. Jack-o’-Lantern Press’s regular news and entertainment coverage will continue in October.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Valley of Doom ‘Rot Spots’ -- where to go to get some rays

By Death
Staff Gloom & Doom Writer

Creatures love one another, acts of kindness are becoming the norm and good fortune is all around us.

Whoa! It’s getting pretty ugly out there, and not in a good way.

That’s why sometimes you have to get away from your everyday.

That sometime is now!

But you don’t have to go on big trips to get big results. It’s often the simple places and simple things you do that make such a terrifying difference.

So many monsters don’t realize that eating chupacabra on a stick could bring such joy to one’s life, especially when the chupacabra eats back. How about that sinking feeling you discover when you get caught in quicksand . . . and there’s no way out? So cool. There’s also the pleasure you get out of unassumingly leaning against a wall, the wall rotating, and you finding yourself in a snake-infested mummy’s tomb.

If you’re looking for the small displeasures in life, a place where you can breathe the sand-filled air or somewhere to go to get a really, really, REALLY good tan, try the Valley of Doom.

Over the past few hundred years, the Valley of Doom has grown into a place where monsters from any world can come to stretch out their limbs and savor the minor pains we often overlook. There’s no denying that funny, tickly feeling you get when your skin is melting off your bones as you traverse the broiling hot Valley.

Upon your arrival, stop at Border Basin. There’s no better place to find a few things to make you frown.

At the Valley Outfitter right there on the main stretch of the old ghost town, you can get yourself fitted for a hat, boots, sidearm and noose. Sure, maybe the rope is too loose around your neck, it’s a bit frayed, and the tree branch at the other end is dry as a bone and wouldn’t stop your fall if your death depended on it (and it does), but how cool will you be when the rope tightens and you can rock that dangling-eyeballs look throughout the rest of your trip?

Get yourself some of that aforementioned chupacabra from Chupacabra Village. There, you can pick up some of the best prepared vampire beast from Chupacabra Kitchen (it’s a great outdoor eatery), or you can get it fresh next door at Goat Sucker Farms where they breed more chupacabra than anyone else this and that side of the border.

Get it to go. Throughout your day, you can dip your claws into the crinkly paper bag carrying your lunch and pick away at the contents. And just when you think you’ve finished (here comes the best part), your lunch picks away at you. Yes!

Have you heard of the Everything Ever After Network? Of course you have. Who hasn’t? It's a list of little things that make big differences. But those who participate in the Ev-Ev-Aft Network don't always come by those little things so easily. They start out wanting their cake, and they want to eat it, too. They hold the belief that it’s really dumb to bite off more than they can chew. But they go after “everything ever after” anyway.

In the Valley of Doom, there is no cake. This is a desert, not dessert. So there’s nothing here to want, nothing here to eat and nothing here too big to chew. Where the Ev-Ev-After-ers get it right is in their takeaway from their experiences. They go after family and career, six jobs at the same time so they can afford the lavish lifestyle they so desire . . . and still they want more. These American Dream chasers are after it all, after all. And in the end they get squat.

Or do they? It takes time, but the Ev-Ev-After-ers eventually find their true “everything ever after.” When they’re climbing for the peaks, they often find themselves in the valley, and it’s in the valley where they discover those little things -- pure, joyful doom. And it’s THE PITS!

That’s right, the Pits are a series of holes in the ground. If you fall in one, it’ll swallow you up. You ever run your hands through sand? The warm, fine grains go between your fingers, providing that calming sensory experience. Imagine that same experience, but all over your body as sand from the top of the pit you’re in covers you and you can’t breathe anymore. The best part is: You don’t have to do anything to get that experience. You don’t have to pay anything to get that experience. All you had to do was fall in a hole. Just one of the perks you get by being in the Valley.

The Quicksand Ranch has similar appeal. Critics have said, “This place sinks!”

And the Death Walk Tours -- you don’t go into a long hike through nothing to nothing and expect some big material gain. But, like the Ev-Ev-After-ers often discover in the end of their journeys, you wind up finding some other kind of bliss -- your very own “everything ever after” that comes as a result of the unique experience you had. In the case of the Death Walk Tours, you often discover hunger, dehydration, heat exhaustion, loss of skin, dry bones, buzzards from the Buzzard Bowl picking at you constantly . . . Need I share more?

Oh, but there’s much more here in the Valley of Doom. It’s just not as easy to find. 

This is one in a series of TRAVEL STORIES from the 13 districts of Transyl-vein-ia. These stories run weekdays between August and September. Jack-o’-Lantern Press’s regular news and entertainment coverage will continue in October.