Troutdale General StoreIf you read my blog - or you're just very observant of writing tone - you may know that I've been kind of phoning things in this Halloween. I started out as enthusiastic as ever, if not moreso than usual, only to start wearing out by mid-September like I never really have before. Maybe a lot of this has to do with my whole country slowly unraveling, or maybe I've just finally hit the point at which I can no longer "outdo" every previous Halloween.
It's probably too late for me to pull something radically new and exciting out of thin air to make 2017 feel unique, and it feels unlikely that I'll even reach my usual minimum of about 50 articles by October 31st.
When I say it like that, though....fifty of them? Have I really been doing that? Do people really NEED that many? Let's see what happens, I guess, when I actually slow things down for once, and just maybe focus on quality over quantity.
So today, I'm going to take you to the nearby city of Troutdale, which as you can see, agrees that we are all permitted to continue living for the time being.
We discovered Troutdale, just a couple miles down the road, only after we had been living in the area for almost six months, which tells you something more about how well it stands out. People who live in Troutdale will tell you that nothing has ever happened there or will happen there again, unless you count the time Guy Fieri showed up at the Tippy Canoe restaurant, but to us newcomers, poor neglected Troutdale is downright magical.
That's because little Troutdale bills itself, accurately, as the gateway to the gorge - the town many people are going to drive through in order to drive through miles of towering, ancient forests and waterfalls that only SOMEWHAT burned to the ground earlier this summer because of one teenager's fireworks.
Driving that gorge has been pretty much the most therapeutic and relaxing thing we've ever had the ability to do so close to anywhere we've ever been able to call home, and we probably stop at downtown Troutdale's cafe's or lone convenience store at least a couple times a week. It is, by far, our favorite town that we're forced to drive through in order to see more interesting things, though it's certainly not without its own points of interest.
One such point of interest? The Troutdale General Store, once an actual town general store and now a kitschy souvenir shop spanning three floors, an ice cream bar and a ridiculous number of holiday artifacts, many of which are viewable and purchasable all year round.
In fact, the Troutdale General Store has a lot in common and even shares some identical items with Ghoul Gallery in distant Oregon City, which we will definitely also be revisiting this year.
So, I guess this was the longest-ever introduction to another list of favorite doo-dads. Here they are!
Zipper Mouthed Skeleton ManThis guy was greeting me atop a discount table just outside the place, though he was still a little too pricey. He's a pretty interesting monster, though; skeleton-themed but clearly not an actual skeleton, rather more of a droopy eyed doll-creature whose mouth is a zipper.
Grim Reaper Alarm ClockI don't think this is an actual, functional alarm clock, which is a shame, because I can't think of anything better to put in a clock face than the specter of death pointing at you with the jolliest smile I have ever seen on him. This isn't one of those "I COME FOR THEE" specters of death. This is a "GAWRSH, IT'S YOU!" specter of death.
ESMERELDAI don't know if Esmerelda was always named that or Troutdale General Store decided to name her that, but it's a nice and pretty name and she deserves it. She's a witch with a human head, a pumpkin for a body, and six legs, so the intention is probably that she's a spider, and I'll just have to assume that spider-human monsters are allowed to have fewer than eight legs or she's got another set of limbs tucked away somewhere.
Goth GirlThat's what this was labeled, and I guess I can't argue, even if she seems to be her own completely made-up subcategory of goth. Her coolest accessory is obviously the apron, as those are some of the creepiest pumpkins I've ever seen that were still happy about it. I think it's because they clearly have human teeth.
Skull GirlI've definitely reviewed items, and owned items, designed by the same artist who must have designed this little lady, another of those skeleton-like but clearly fleshy creatures I like to think are their own thing, but I'm not sure if they're enough of their own thing to warrant a Halloween bestiary entry. Maybe they're basically ghosts, but...made of...cartilage? Or something?
Glass...Coffee Stirrers?I actually didn't pay attention to what these are, but I think they're entirely glass. Maybe they go in your booze, like a tiny umbrella. They come in bloodshot eyeball, shrunken head, and that skull with the little bow on it whose meaning I forget. Is that like, a music logo? I don't know!
Trick-or-Treating RavenI was going to say that I don't know whether this little bird is cuter for its humanoid chubbiness or creepier for it, but it is a bird, and the answer to whether or not a bird is either more adorable or more disturbing is always "yes."
Necronomicon$295 is pretty steep, but you do get an open necronomicon with an eyeball held up by the crotch of a miniature bondage skeleton who you can tell loves every minute of its perverse undead existence and it all comes on a fake wooden stand. This necromancer could obviously just put the book directly on that stand and it wouldn't make any difference, but when you have the power to raise and command the dead, you just gotta flaunt it every way you can. We're seeing the necromancer equivalent to spinning rims.
THE BASEMENTTroutdale General Store's dark, usually unattended lower level invites you in regardless with a cheerful "NO FOOD OR DRINK" sign, and it's absolutely packed with the same holiday items 365 days a year. Three quarters of it are devoted to some other celebration we don't ever need to talk about, but the remaining quarter is a year-round oasis of Halloween hidden below the ground of Troutdale, and there's so much stuff here that I'm only going to review a handful of more things, lest I sit here for five hours trying to come up with new ways to say "I like the pumpkin."
Spooky CupcakesThese come in possibly other forms besides the cat and the skeleton pirate, but the skeleton pirate is what I zeroed in on. The cat is only even in this shot by pure accident, because when a skeleton pirate is also somehow a cupcake, it's difficult to focus on anything else around it.
Familiar Witch OrnamentWe saw an ENORMOUS, human-sized version of this witch at the Ghoul Gallery, but here she is in a more manageable, doll-sized form for hanging on your Halloween tree, the only kind of tree involved in the only kind of holiday that exists.
Anyway, this isn't a subject I usually get into at all, but this witch is also pretty hot. I remember a weird, shameful time when I would not have thought this witch was even very attractive at all and I don't know what was wrong with me, besides maybe having very typical tastes hammered into me during my teens and early twenties. Now, someone with green skin and a long pointy nose seems like perfectly sexy stuff, but compared to most people I know on the internet, still really conventional. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I ever would have not found a green witch hot but I'm also sorry I'm not more into the surreal tentacle monsters you probably thought I was.
Scarecrow OrnamentIt also turns out that sexy witch has a whole family, including yet another scarecrow who seems to be best pals with the very birds it was created to terrorize. I'm gonna go ahead and say that this is just a part of whatever supernatural force tends to animate scarecrows. When something comes to life for any kind of Halloween hijinks, its first order of business is usually going to be the exact opposite of whatever humans originally wanted it to do.
Skeleton OrnamentOf course there's a skeleton in this line, and a pretty dashing one to boot! You always know your skeleton is kind of a big deal when it somehow manages to hang on to facial hair, and he also goes around completely naked except for his eye patch and sash, proudly decorated with a single pink ribbon, possibly for his achievement in growing a mustache directly on bone.
Spider OrnamentOne more in this series before we move on from it, this big eyed spider is a nice surprise; you don't usually get a spider in a set of humanoid monsters, but here she is, even standing up on her hindmost legs like her pals. Nothing else about her is quite humanoid enough to call this an "anthropomorphic" spider, but she clearly wants to be, so we could at least respectfully humor her.
Huge Pumpkin GhostThis thing is almost as tall as a person, and probably costs hundreds of dollars. It also has one of the most haunting faces I could ever imagine for a pumpkin-headed sheet ghost, definitely helped by the choice of a suitably ghostly, bone-white gourd head.
Unwholesome WitchIt's not just me, right? Between the look on her face and the position of that apple she's holding, this witch is up to some pretty sleazy stuff that only me, you, and those lurking pumpkin guys are onto. That's onto, not into. Not even me. Don't be ridiculous. That's a "red delicious" apple and those are disgusting.
So this proved to be a short, but possibly more passionate and long-winded Halloween Thing Review than I've done this season...and after writing it, I actually am feeling just a little less down. Can I turn it completely around in the under-two-weeks we have left until my birthday on the 31st? I guess we'll just have to see.