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Monthly Archives: June 2012

On this day 100 years ago, the costume shop that has made the clothing for some of your favorite movies and television shows opened. Western Costumes was formed on June 30, 1912 by L.L. Burns and Harry Revier to supply Hollywood, which was just getting into the motion picture business, with costumes, stages and props for its films.

The story behind its formation is remarkable. A Western was being filmed in Hollywood and Burns, a former Indian trader living in Los Angeles, remarked to the man in charge about how awful the Indian costumes looked. William S. Hart, the director and great cowboy actor that Burns spoke with, ended up hiring him to outfit the Indians. Soon, Burns had a growing business as word spread and the Western Costume Company was formed. And the rest was history.

Over the years, Western Costume would be involved in providing pieces for numerous shows, including classics like the Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, and modern shows like Mad Men. The story of Western Costumes is recapped in this Los Angeles Times article and need not be repeated in full here.

Funtober readers with grand costume plans, take note. You do not have to limit yourself to the costumes mass produced by national costume manufacturers. If you have a sketch and the money, Western will make your idea into a costume for you to wear. Isn’t that cool? It might be a bit more expensive, but you too can have a costume made by the people who provide the wardrobe for Hollywood movies.

Or, should you want to implement your idea at a more reasonable price, you can probably find someone on the internet who is willing to make your made-to-order costume and ship it to you. Hopefully, one day, such a person will leave their website address in the comments and in return find a thriving business filled with orders from Funtober readers.

Indian Chief

This Sunday is July 1st. Isn’t time flying this year? There are only four months until Halloween. Wow.

There are even fewer days until the haunted house attractions start opening. I wouldn’t want to be one of the haunted house operators struggling through the summer to get their haunted house setup for another season of scares. But every year, amateur haunters decide that they are going to scare their neighbors, family and friends by entering the haunted house business.

As someone that is operating a startup, I completely understand how difficult it can be to follow your dreams and turn them into a successful enterprise. So I try and pass on helpful resources when I find them. Or build them like I did with my guide to starting a corn maze.

If this is your first season operating a haunted house, or you have been in the game a little while but recognize that you still have a lot to learn, check out this slideshow that was put together by a haunted house consultant. It has important information about marketing, design and building code compliance for your haunted house.

While I’m providing resources for new haunters, Haunted House Startup definitely deserves to be mentioned as an excellent resource that is worth checking out online. You would also find it valuable to attend one of the upcoming haunted house conventions. Or join the Haunted House Association and purchase a subscription to Hauntworld Magazine.

This summer, Paulaner USA is touring the nation with a 480-seat Biergarten and throwing an Oktoberfest Practice Party.  It’s in the Midwest currently, as I saw notice of it recently in Iowa.  I can’t seem to find a schedule anywhere.  I hope I didn’t miss it on the East Coast.  It’s got to be the stealthiest traveling beer garden ever. If you know where it will be on what dates, please add it via the comments.

I’ve already missed one Munich brewery this year.  Augustiner was scheduled to offer samples at the International Great Beer Expo in Philly on June 2nd, but I didn’t see their booth there. After that, I figured I would have to catch my Munich beer for the year instead at the opening of the Paulaner Brauhaus in New York City this Fall, their first location in the United States. But I guess the traveling biergarten gives me one more chance to have one here in Philly.

In other Oktoberfest news, the 2012 Hickory Oktoberfest in North Carolina is looking for applicants that want to be named the King and Queen.  Perhaps it will be the jumping point to stardom for one lucky lady.  It wouldn’t be the first time.  Miss La Crosse/Oktoberfest Kate Gorman was just chosen as Miss Wisconsin!

It’s time for a quick update on the corn crop. The last time that I checked in on corn, the fields were suffering from the lack of rain. Now, the summer heat has combined with the limited rainfall to keep the corn crop in danger longer.  It’s so bad that CNBC says, “Corn is facing the worst crop conditions in two decades and the next two weeks will be critical ….”

But I know that you don’t want too much doom and gloom. After all, the cornstalks will probably be just fine for a corn maze. So I’ve decided to add this film of what the ride is like on a tractor spraying Roundup to keep weeds down on the cornfield. The video is courtesy of Mays Farm. In case you are interested in learning more about the farm, you will find them listed on our page of Colorado corn mazes.

Last Tuesday, I posted about opportunities to enjoy fall foliage by bicycle. Apparently, I published that post just a bit too soon. Because if I had waited another week, I could have included an alternative to the bicycle tours: train travel. It must be time to plan your fall foliage vacation.

If you aren’t athletic enough to tour the countryside by bike, you don’t have to confine yourself to seeing the fall foliage from your car. Instead, try one of these fall foliage tours by rail. Vacations by Rail has put together 12 fall foliage tours between six and fifteen days in length. Shockingly, most of the trips pass through New England and Eastern Canada. But those who can’t make it there can also choose from vacations around the Great Lakes, through the Smoky Mountains, or along the Mississippi River. The cost for the package ranges from $1500 to $3300 per person depending on the package chosen.

If your looking for the one day or couple hour excursion train ride check out our Top 10 Fall Foliage Train Rides in America.

Westbound freight train at Glacier park MT


How did you like the Sinister trailer? If you are looking for something to send a spine tingling shiver up your back, it’s right up your alley. And in that case, I would like to take a moment to remind you that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter opened up in theaters on Friday. But if Sinister and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter aren’t your thing, that’s no problem. I’ve got something that should be quite funny, non-scary and seasonally appropriate instead. You just have to wait until the last weekend in September.

Hotel Transylvania is an animated comedy that is scheduled for release on September 28, 2012. It tells the story of the 118th birthday party of Dracula’s daughter. Dracula, voiced by Adam Sandler, is the owner of Hotel Transylvania, a five star resort for monsters. Dracula’s daughter Mavis, voiced by Selena Gomez, unexpectedly falls for a human that shows up at the hotel. The film covers Dracula’s attempts to quash the budding romance and evict the unwelcome traveler.

Sony Pictures has just released the second trailer. It looks pretty cute:

I thought that I was a little anxious for Halloween to roll around this year since I’m already eagerly anticipating how visitors will react to Funtober. I think that I’ll be able to make it until September or so before I’m driven completely nuts. But it seems that there are a few people in Taiwan that just couldn’t wait.

The National Taiwan Science Education Center opened an exhibit last week called Institution of Fear: The Science of the Haunted House. The exhibit, which will run until September, takes you through a haunted house in order to show and explain to you the science of fear. First they scare you. Then they explain the science behind it. Then they let you observe others as they are being scared.

It sounds like a fun way to spend a day, but I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to Taipei this summer to see it. Fortunately, there’s a similar traveling exhibit in the United States at the moment called Goose Bumps! The Science of Fear which was developed by the California Science Center. It’s currently at the Space Center in Houston and will be traveling the country until 2015 according to the schedule.

So here’s a little research to satisfy your curiosity until you get to experience fear yourself, whether at the exhibit, a ghost tour, or an upcoming haunted house.

The science behind why we love to be scared – Lincoln Journal Star
Why thrill seekers thrive on scary – webmd
Why we love scary movies – webmd


I’ve been noticing a number of news articles recently where neighbors of fun events have displayed NIMBY syndrome. That’s Not-In-My-Back-Yard for those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept from the environmental debate. It was a pretty popular concept during the debate over nuclear energy in the United States. Everyone is in favor of cleaner energy. But few want to live next to a nuclear power plant and so they basically had to stop building new ones. Perhaps that concern makes more sense following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, but I am talking about people opposing ghost tours and Oktoberfest celebrations.

I’m pleased to report that the Fredericksburg Oktoberfest has survived for another year. The City Manager has granted permission to hold the event on Caroline Street and George Street despite opposition from some local businesses who were concerned about parking and barriers along the sidewalk. The Oktoberfest, held by the Capital Ale House, will be celebrated on September 29th.

The battle was lost at the Iowa Axe Murder House, though. The 100th anniversary of the massacre will be remembered from a location 25 miles away from Iowa’s worst mass murder. Apparently, the residents of Villisca don’t want people to come to the house to search for ghosts. They would rather let the ghosts lie peacefully. It’s all detailed in this AP story. But don’t worry. You can still catch the ghost tour of the house on your own.

I say – Embrace your ghosts. Even the Ghostbusters kept one ghost around. Support your local ghost tour. Party it up at the local Oktoberfest. And STOP COMPLAINING! Focus your energy on something far more productive. Like playing Oktoberfest Manager, a silly little entrepreneurial game for the Ipad, Mac and PC that I discovered coming out in August 2012. It’s right up my alley with my current October obsession. I haven’t played yet, but I’m looking forward to it when it comes out for the Android! Hint, hint. It looks awesome from the video. I hope it is also in English.

While I am talking about video games, I feel compelled to mention a mobile phone game for Halloween that I discovered recently called Shoot the Zombirds. It was released by Infinite Dreams in May for the Iphone/Ipad and Android. You are a pumpkin with a crossbow in the pumpkin patch that must save the younger pumpkins from being eaten by undead birds. So far, it has received great reviews and is worth picking up in October for $0.99 after you have finished with the Oktoberfest Manager. Here is one review for the game that I found on Youtube:

I have to admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of horror films growing up. Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer were probably the closest thing to scary movies that I’ve watched. Oh, wait. I saw Event Horizon in the movie theater in college because it starred Lawrence Fishburne and we didn’t bother to look up what it was about before buying the tickets. So I have a lot of catching up to do this Halloween.

But when a movie gets the nod from critics, I take notice. So my congratulations go out to the people behind Pssst! Bill Vigil and Michelle Reed were named winners of the Producers Guild of America Producers Showcase competition. The ProShow, as it is called, aims to provide independent producers the opportunity to see their vision on the big screen. You want to know about the film? I haven’t seen it, but here is what I have garnered from the ProShow synopsis:

Pssst! is a dark suburban fairy tale where a boy faces a monster found in an old man’s basement. The devious old man picked the wrong boy to feed to the monster, and the boy escapes. But the monster chases him and goes after his younger sister. The film culminates in a terrifying game of hide and seek on Halloween.

I look forward to seeing it!

Another movie that seems destined to keep me awake at night is scheduled for release into the movie theaters on October 5th. Sinister is the newest film by Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Day the Earth Stood Still) starring Ethan Hawke as a crime novelist whose family moves into a home where nine months prior another family was murdered.

With the October 5, 2012 release date, it is perfectly timed to put in the right mood for Halloween 2012! Here’s the trailer:

Halloween Ticket Releases

And to contribute to Monday’s idea that it’s never too early to start thinking about Halloween, I need only point to the fact that tickets for Halloween events are now going on sale. Here’s what I found this past week:

Tickets for Alice Cooper’s Halloween Night of Fear III Tour of the UK have gone on sale. The seven night tour from October 24th to November 1st, 2012 will play London Wembley Arena on October 28th. Here is the complete list of dates and locations

Also on sale now are tickets for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort. Universal Studios Florida is transformed into a nightmarish theme park for select nights in September and October. Amusement Today has awarded it the Golden Ticket Award as Best Halloween Event (at an amusement park) for the past four years.

I’ve previously mentioned my love for driving the nation’s scenic highways and enjoying a fall foliage drive. But not everyone grew up near the Motor City and was blessed with my love of driving. For those of you that fall into this category, and don’t want to fight the traffic, I’ve recommended the fall foliage cruises. But another manner to enjoy the fall foliage without driving came across my desk yesterday. And I think it might be an even better way to enjoy the changing leaves.

Sojourn has put together a bicycle tour of Lake Champlain and Stowe, Vermont from October 7-12, 2012. The fall foliage tour, which begins and ends in Burlington, should be a fantastic way to see New England’s fall foliage.

For those of you that live closer to Virginia, you might instead enjoy the Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival from October 19th to 21st in Staunton, VA. Riders can choose from five different one day loops on both Saturday and Sunday that highlight Virginia’s fall foliage.

Fall Biking