Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


1. CalaGala
The reason for the season.

2. “Phantom of the Opera”
Silent horror film + pipe organ + Warnors Theatre = a step into the past. Seriously. When the theater screen this last year, 1,000 people showed.

3. Movember kick-off shave party
It’s not just for hipsters.

4. Offal Dinner
Can’t decide between the cow’s feet and the pickled tongue? Splurge and have both. It’s Halloween.

5. Arrogant Bastard Day
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

Here’s bonus five for fans of live music.

1. The Purple Ones
2. Ape Machine
3. Flyleaf
4. Sleepover Disaster
5. The Cured

For a full list of music-specific choices see this week’s Bandgeek post.
And this is relevant for a few more hours at least.

Just in time for Halloween; a creepy books list

Because no holiday (or whatever is its we’re calling Halloween these days) is complete without a listicle, here are five creepy books. As chosen by me and in no particular order.

1.Frankenstein,” Mary Shelley
As the story goes, Shelley wrote this book at 19 years old, as part of a horror-story competition with a bunch of other 19th century authors. Looks like she was the big winner because, close to 200 years later the story — or some form of it — continues to be enjoyed. If you think you know Frankenstein and haven’t read Shelley’s version, make it a priority.
2.Bedbugs,” Ben H. Winters
As introduction, Winters may be best known as the guy behind “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters,” and “Android Karenina.” Don’t let that trick you. Here, he created a story of New York paranoia that rivals “Rosemary’s Baby.”

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BANDGEEK: Ape Machine, the Purple Ones and Pierce The Veil


Well, the series is done. So, that leaves Halloween.

If you are not in for all costume-party bobbing-for-apples stuff, there are plenty of live music options to get you through the weekend (and into November).

We present them to you here (in list form) in another installment of our BANDGEEEK roundup.


  • HR7.
    W/Iwanaga. At Fulton 55. 8:30 p.m. $6-$8. (Flier link)

  • The Adicts.
    Dantes Boneyard. At Strummer’s. 8 p.m. $22. All ages. (Flier link)

  • Immigrant Union.
    W/Dirty Limbs and Ted the Block. At Audie’s Olympic. 9 p.m. $5. (Flier link)

  • Ron Thompson.
    The Central Valley Blues Society’s weekly dance party. At Pino Wine Bar. 6 p.m. Free.

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    Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


    Go follow the Queen on Twitter. Then …

    1. Sudz in the City
    Beer drinking on the Fulton Mall. Leave your Bud Light in the foam cooler.

    2. Luxury ArtHop
    For those who think automobiles are works of work.

    3. Nosferatu
    “Even after 92 years, ‘Nosferatu’ delivers chills like few other films.”

    4. Tower District Zombie Crawl
    Different from a normal night in the Tower, how?

    5. Whitie’s Pet’s Pooch Parade
    From my limited reporting on the subject, pugs love cosplay more than any other breed.

    And a bonus five for music fans.

    1. Twista
    2. Joni Morris
    3. Pre-Halloween covers show
    4. Suicide Lounge album release
    5. Feather On

    For a more complete music-only list, see our weekly BANDGEEK post.
    For Halloween specific events, click here.

    The BEST day


    Sydney, age 9.

    FACT: Halloween is the best holiday.

    1) Halloween is secular. It transcends traditional cultural boundaries and brings groups of people together that typically may celebrate apart. Further, no matter who you are, this holiday offers equal-opportunity fun. I’ll never forget living in married student housing at U.C. Davis, and witnessing the sheer joy of the international students AND their kids experiencing trick-or-treating for the first time. Dress in silly clothes, go house to house and get free candy? How crazy cool is that?

    2) Halloween a holiday over which kids actually have some control. Christmases and birthdays and other gift-receiving holidays may focus in part on kids, but from the food to the decor to the timing of everything — adults tend to plan it all. But Halloween? KIDS get to decide their fate, from what is worn to how the evening spent — what paths to take while trick-or-treating, who to go with, whether to carry a plastic bag or a pillow case… (SIDE NOTE: Always a pillow case. Size and durability win every time.) And as you age, your inner kid is always welcome.

    3) On Halloween, the focus is on fun. You dress up, you act silly, you eat a ton of sugar, you spend an evening laughing and inevitably talking to neighbors you otherwise ignore. And invariably, you come away with stories.

    THE BEST stories. Everyone has a Halloween story. In fact, most people have a good 4 or 5 really GOOD Halloween stories.

    So let’s share them:

    One quick one: One year I went as a stick of Wrigley’s Double Mint gum. There was no bending, no sitting, hardly any movement– as I was wearing a giant box that my genius invented and my mother then came up with the creative awesome to pull off. I remember she used green shelf contact paper to color the box green and she cut each letter out and stuck it on the box. It was perfect. Except for the zero ability to move part.

    Now your turn! Share your favorite Halloween story. Please.

    P.S. Happy Halloween.

    Share Your Spooky Tales

    Creept-TalesHere is one of my favorites.

    Newly married,  my wife and I had been in our first home for about a month, and not all windows had coverings.  The budget was tight and that required us to improvise.  So, we started to use an old rice paper partition to block our dining room window at night. This worked great.

    We were both working hard and my hours were especially long — some evenings by the time I got home my newlywed wife was hours into her slumber.  Our weekends where cherished as this allowed time for us to be together and explore the fun things to do in the Valley.  Road trips!

    After visiting the Sierra for most of the day we returned home; it was late. I was unpacking the car when my wife asked me, “Steven, why did you move the partition?” When I explained to her that I had not touched it there was doubt in her response: “… So, you did not slide it over toward the corner?” Again I said I had not. So I had to ask her, “Are you sure it’s not in the same place — maybe you moved it when you vacuumed or something?”

    Silence. Then she said, “Steven, I did not touch it.”

    … That night we slept with our eyes slightly open.

    Do YOU have a Spooky Tale? If so,  share it with me.

    “Twerkin’ teddy” Miley Cyrus costume for sale

    IMG_0012-3Here’s a costume that will make you cringe. You can dress up for Halloween as Miley Cyrus, complete with the “twerkin’ teddy” that she wore during that unforgettably trashy performance at the VMAs. The SPIRIT Halloween store at Shaw and West avenues (and probably other places) sells the odd one-piece teddy-bear thing she ripped off midway through her performance. It costs $39.99.

    No word on whether the stores are selling the unflattering flesh-colored bikini. But they are selling the foam finger. This one has red nails. (I hope no one donates this to one of those thrift shop stores downtown that carry so many Halloween costumes. You know where that foam finger has been.) And let’s be clear. The Miley Cyrus costume is an adult women’s costume, not a girl’s. (Please, please, please don’t let a child’s version exist.)

    SPIRIT also carries the Robin Thicke black-and-white striped suit and an employee at the Halloween Express store on Sunnyside reports that men are buying the Beetlejuice costume without the mask so they can dress up as Robin Thicke.

    Ever since a former colleague dressed up as a “White House leak” I’ve thought that current events and pop culture references make some of the most entertaining costumes. SPIRIT actually tracks this stuff and reports that Snooki was a popular costume two years ago (at $6.97, it’s really cheap). The Saturday Night Live Spartan cheerleader costume was big in 2001. So what are you planning to dress up as this year? Any costumes referencing current events or pop culture? (Maybe I’ll include them in a column I’m working on.) How do you dress up as a government shutdown anyway?

    Halloween decor ideas

    I don’t want to overstate anything but Halloween is possibly the GREATEST holiday ever in the history of ever — EVER — and if you disagree, it’s only probably because you are stupid.

    Because it is the greatest holiday that is aimed at tongue-in-cheek-cheekiness, centered on spooky AND goofy, and allows me to fabulously redecorate my home in an obvious, DIY, kitschy/campy/awesome-with-a-hint-of-lame way, every year my family hosts a huge Halloween party. Our kids invite skads of friends, we invite loads of our adult friends and we all celebrate — pretending we’re kids (while the kids — especially the teens — pretend to be older).

    Suffice it to say, I’m a huge Halloween fan. And being that it’s already the last weekend in September, it’s time to start  decorating.

    While right now the Halloween stores are offering all kinds of expensive, creepy items to up your decor, you can save a boatload of money with ingenuity and construction paper.

    A couple of ideas:

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    Photo of the day: Creepy edition

    So I’m working on a Halloween spending story and came across this at a SPIRIT Halloween store at Shaw Avenue and First Street. I can’t decide if these zombie, nose-picking babies are gross, scary or funny. Actually, you know what really creeps me out? Do you see the little photo bomber hiding to the right of the right-most nose picker, the one who has one eye peeking out? That almost looks like it’s real, like he’s waiting til I turn away to start following me or something…


    Ozzy, Geezer keep on rocking

    LIF SPCL OZZY OSBOURNE 2There are few people who have had more of an influence on music history than Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler. Through their work in Black Sabbath, the pair pioneered the heavy metal sound that continues to resonate 45 years later. The proof is in their latest album, “13,” a monster hit for the band.

    I had a chance to talk with the pair when they showed up at Universal Studios Hollywood to check out an attraction created around the new album as part of this year’s “Halloween Horror Nights” at the theme park. The scares start Friday night.

    Both are excited about the reaction they’re getting from the album.

    “We are doing a tour right now and it’s great to see the response that we’re getting. What we are seeing is that fathers, their sons, and their sons are coming to the concerts. They all know the songs. That’s amazing because when I was kid, the simple fact my father liked something, I was like (expletive deleted) it,” Osbourne says. “The fact the younger kids are digging it is amazing.”

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    Countdown to Halloween: Candy-infused vodka

    Cangy-infused vodkaAbout a year ago — before my latest stint here at The Bee — Bob Rodriguez interviewed my awesome and humble self for a piece he was doing on Halloween candy. The take was, what do you do with leftover candy?

    As the mother of an unfathomable number of children, we get flooded — like Colorado-style flooded –  with candy. And there is no way THIS mom can afford THAT much dialysis or that many sets of dentures if all that candy is consumed. A simple little liver transplant for me is another story.

    That’s why my contribution to his article was to suggest taking the candy– particularly the hard candies or the candy corn — and creating an infused vodka with it.

    “INFUSED VODKA?!” you say. “That’s BRILLIANT!” Yes. Yes, it is. Even better? It’s maybe the easiest thing you’ll ever make.

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    The Beehive’s Guide to Halloween Happenings

    UPDATE: Happy Halloween everyone! To help you in your journey for Halloween fun, I’m updating this post, clearing out the weekend events and adding a few new happenings for tonight. The links below are still good, so be sure to check them out too if you want something other than nightclub events.

    —-> Here’s a rundown of local haunted attractions.

    —-> Here’s a list of Halloween themed items from The Bee’s calendar.

    —-> Below are a few dozen fliers for Halloween events.

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    Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

    Other than seeing our local “Voice” contestant Rudy Parris in Visalia or ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro at the Tower Theatre.

    With that unfortunate Halloween-falling-on-a-Wednesday thing, this weekend promises to be full of slutty nurses roaming your neighborhood bar. We’ll be back with a full rundown of Halloween happenings, but here are a few top options. The party at The Standard is pretty big each year. King Sugar‘s Eureka Burger show makes the list off the flier alone — but they’ve got cool ska flavors too. And who doesn’t want to parade their dog around the Tower District?

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    Haunting season is upon us

    If you’re a Halloween addict and want to get the most out of the spookiest time of year, then you should know that many of our local haunted attractions are open as of this weekend. Here’s a quick rundown:

    • Haunted Fresno: This downtown haunt features six attractions and tonight is opening night. Word is you can get free Monster energy drinks tonight. They’re also letting 100 underprivileged kids in free tonight. Awww. Anyhow, hit up their site for more info, special nights, etc.
    • Raisin Hell Ranch: If haunted cornfields are your thing, then head to this three-attraction ranch in Madera. It’s open starting tonight. More info here.
    • The Grove: A Sanger staple in 13th year, The Grove opened last weekend. It features haunted attractions and has all makings of a spooky street fair, whether you’re looking for pumpkins or something to eat. Get all the details here.
    • Raven’s Gate: This newer haunted, located in Parlier, has an early-opening discount night on Saturday, then opens for its regular season next Thursday. It includes a haunted forest, hayride and more. Read up.

    I’m not sure whether 5th Realm is open this year. It was supposed to move from Sierra Vista Mall to the Fresno Fairgrounds, but I haven’t heard anything and its website hasn’t been updated. I’ll update if I learn anything more.

    It’s almost scaring season


    While we’re celebrating the prospect of a weekend without 100-degree temperatures, some people are already thinking about Halloween. Specifically our local haunted attractions. This weekend, three of them are holding auditions.

    To-Do Tonight: Halloween edition


    It’s for Halloween for reals — not to be confused with the week’s worth of Halloween parties that led up to tonight where girls could dress up like as a slutty [insert costume idea here] and guys could try to hit on them.

    Sure, Halloween night still has a number of those parties, but it’s also offers the tried-and-true traditions — like trick-or-treating or, conversely, walking up and down the streets of the Tower District aimlessly. The choice is yours.

    Here are a few things, though, going on tonight:

    Look below for more options:

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    Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

    While you’re figuring out that last-minute Halloween costume.

    Neanderthals — one of Fresno’s favorite party bands in the late ’80s — has a reunion gig Saturday night at Fulton 55. If it’s anyting like that Wild Blue Yonder reunion, you can expect a big ol’ crowd. [Tickets]


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    To-Do Tonight: A folk star, a Celtic Woman, an EGOT-er and more


    Hey y’all, I’m back from vacation just in time for what looks like a busy Tuesday night around Fresno.

    There’s an eclectic cast of characters vying for your attention and entertainment dollar this evening. Here’s a look:

    TOM RUSSELL: Veteran folk songwriter/storyteller Russell is playing a Fresno Folklore Society-sponsored gig at Frank’s Place. Yep, that same Frank’s Place that used to be an indie rock hotbed last summer and has since been pretty quiet until this folk dude came around. [More info]

    ORLA FALLON: If you remember the group Celtic Woman, then you probably remember Fallon. She was a vocalist with the Irish group — popular with the PBS crowd — but since has branched off into a solo career and has had her own PBS special. Catch her tonight at Tower Theatre. [More info]

    MARVIN HAMLISCH: The San Joaquin Valley Town Hall lecture series celebrates its 75th anniversary tonight with a talk by Marvin Hamlisch. He’s a famous composer who caught my eye for one reason — he’s one of the few people to win the EGOT (thanks, 30 Rock, for teaching me that means Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony). There are only a handful of EGOTers out there, so one of them being in Fresno tonight is worth caring about, right? [More info]

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    The Beehive’s Guide to Halloween


    Halloween is right around the corner, and the weeks leading up to it offer plenty of options for Halloween-themed festivities and trips to our various haunted attractions.

    This year’s crop of haunted attraction is bigger than ever — with a new haunted in Visalia (Fear Factory), two new places that were born out of the owner’s of Hobb’s Grove divorcing (The Grove and The Raven’s Gate). Clovis’ Fright Night Scream Park has a new name — 5th Realm, while The Patch, a more kid-friendly option, has moved from North Fresno to Old Town Clovis. Then there’s Haunted Fresno and Raisin Hell Ranch, both of which are back for another year.

    If you’re looking for events — either at clubs or out in the community — check out the vast number of options below. If you’ve got something going on that’s not here, go ahead and leave a comment telling everyone about it.

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    FTW Moment of the Day


    A mommy blogger’s story of her 5-year-old son dressing up like Daphne from “Scooby Doo” has sure gotten the Internet’s attention today. It’s all over my Facebook feed, and blogs such as Gawker are picking up on it.

    Basically: A bunch of other moms at their bible-belt pre-school got all holier than thou about her son’s costume choice and what it may (or may not) imply about his sexuality.

    Usually, it’s funny videos and fail-worthy pictures that go viral. This, on the other hand, is extremely heart-felt, with a nice message about childhood, imagination, tolerance and judgment.

    Blogger Nerdy Apple Bottom writes:

    If you think that me allowing my son to be a female character for Halloween is somehow going to ‘make’ him gay then you are an idiot. Firstly, what a ridiculous concept. Secondly, if my son is gay, OK. I will love him no less. Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off.

    That’s just one great part. Do yourself a favor and take five minutes to read the entire thing, then pass it along to someone else.

    [photo: Nerdy Apple Bottom]

    The zoo welcomes a Halloween baby


    The Fresno Chaffee Zoo welcomed a Halloween baby boy: an orangutan. The zoo posted this message on its Facebook page today:

    It’s a boy! We are elated to announce the birth of a baby Sumatran orangutan born yesterday afternoon, October 31st. The birth is a significant accomplishment due to their endangered status. Sara and her son will be resting off exhibit for a yet to be determined length of time.

    You can read more about the new baby on The Bee’s homepage. Earlier this year, the zoo welcomed this baby and this baby, but also had this bad baby news.

    [Photo credit: Fresno Chaffee Zoo]

    Calling out trick-or-treat offenders


    After last week’s Dos and Don’ts of Trick-or-Treating post, I was paying close attention to the etiquette of people ringing my doorbell last night.

    For the most part, the kids were kind, cute and grateful to be taking my Kit Kats. But there were offenders, oh yes there were.

    Here are some of the people who were not treats. (Note: Offenders not pictured)

    The Cell Phone Talker: I had three different people come to my door last night while on a cell phone. I’m not talking about parents on phones, standing behind their kids. I’m talking about people holding out bags wanting my nom-noms. Look, I’m as tethered to my phone as anyone, and even I’ll admit this was ridiculous. A special shout out to the tween girl on her phone who said neither “trick or treat” nor “thank you.” I think Microsoft made a commercial about you. No … really!

    The Possibly Lying Adult: “Oh, can I have one more for my other kid who is sick at home?” What that really means is: “I think you’re an idiot and I’m gonna try to get more candy out of you. You don’t know how many kids I have, sucker! This Butterfinger is going to work with me tomorrow.” Maybe you really do have a sick kid at home. Maybe I’m just cynical. But I doubt it.

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