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While haunted house goers in the U.S. evade hordes of murderous chainsaw-wielding zombie mental patients, those in Japan take a more personal approach to inducing sheer terror. (Slate)

Some popular Halloween sweets may be more trick than treat … watch out for these killer confections. (Atlas Obscura)

You should probably add a calculus textbook to your zombie apocalypse supplies. (Princeton University Press) •

Maren Larsen is the associate editor of The Smart Set. She is a digital journalism student, college radio DJ, and outdoor enthusiast.
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If Christmas is the great holiday for sounds — think of all of the masterworks and the centuries of carols — then surely Halloween is the bushel holiday harvest for sights. The very plumage of the landscape itself morphs from pastel verdure to vermillion explosions of the sorts of colors that we think of as having tongues, lapping across expanses as if summoning your gaze. The boogeymen come out, too, much as the ghosts do at Christmas, but whereas the latter have a subtle ease to them, the Halloween haunts rarely do. Part of that may have to do with Washington Irving and his Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon from 1820, a work that, in one vignette, helped inspire a visual schema that still colors the season.

Most people don’t read the Sketch Book in full anymore, focusing instead on its two most famous tales: “Rip Van Winkle” and, of course, the object of our purpose, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” These are bumper crop works that repay and repay, but that’s the gist of the thirty-four essays, stories, anecdotes, and musings that comprise the Sketch Book itself, a weird piece of Americana by turns folksy, Gothic, chatty, and terrifying which also happens to be exceedingly accessible. And, wouldn’t you know, entirely modern, as if Irving’s words have piggy-backed atop the Horseman’s mount and rode into the latest age, ready to gallop off with a willing reader.
More… “Getting to the Bridge”

Colin Fleming writes on art, literature, film, rock, jazz, classical music, and sports for Rolling Stone, JazzTimes, The Atlantic, Sports Illustrated, The Washington Post, and a number of other publications. His fiction has recently appeared in AGNI, Boulevard, Cincinnati Review, Commentary, and Post Road, and he’s the author of The Anglerfish Comedy Troupe: Stories from the Abyss (Dzanc), and is writing a memoir, Many Moments More: A Story About the Art of Endurance, and a novel about a reluctant piano genius, age seven or eight, called The Freeze Tag Sessions. He’s a regular contributor to NPR’s Weekend Edition. His tattered, on-the-mend website is colinfleminglit.com, and he highly recommends reading The Smart Set daily, along with ten mile coastal walks and lots of Keats and hockey for the soul.
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Two Toronto-based artists have opened KillJoy Kastle, a lesbian feminist haunted house, in West Hollywood. The art installation is in response to the“Hell Houses” put on by some Christian groups during the Halloween season, whose hellish rooms dramatize real-life situations with the aim of scaring sinners into penitence. (laist.com and Vice)

As some heritage sites around the world are lost to time or terrorism, a California non-profit is working to digitally preserve these sites in 3D. If and when sites are lost, as in the case of those destroyed by ISIS this past February in the Nineveh Region, a full-sized holographic replica can be made. (Observer)

If you’re looking for something horrific (and funny) to read this Halloween season, check out this interview with Margaret Atwood about her new novel, The Heart Goes Last. Then stop by the Free Library of Philadelphia this evening from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. for a reading and book signing with the author (if you’re lucky enough to have a ticket to the sold-out event, that is). (The Millions) •

Maren Larsen is the associate editor of The Smart Set. She is a digital journalism student, college radio DJ, and outdoor enthusiast.
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I’m a physical therapist who just moved to Boston. I’ve been invited to a Halloween party in which every attendee must dress up as a villain and I’m having a hard time deciding on a costume. Can you help? — Erin

 

I love costume parties! I always appreciate a subtle costume, so how about dressing up as the speaker from Robert Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess”?

That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive. I call That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf’s hands Worked busily a day, and there she stands. Will ‘t please you sit and look at her? I said? ‘Frà Pandolf’ by design, for never read Strangers like you that pictured countenance, The depth and passion of its earnest glance, But to myself they turned (since none… More…

 

Thanksgiving is a solid holiday. It has its rituals, mostly related to food, and its stories, mostly about colonists cooperating with Native Americans that (to put it politely) play fast and loose with the historical record. Thanksgiving celebrates a foundational moment in the New World and is thus a most American holiday. Revolving around family and food, Thanksgiving brings feelings of comfort, warmth, and a pleasing if indefinite sense that everything in this country is as it should be.

Not so Halloween. Halloween is about masks and the supernatural. It is a nighttime affair that flirts with the unknown. Halloween deals with evil. It’s rooted in celebrations of the harvest and the feast days that come from various European traditions. It is also a death holiday, perhaps because it originally marked the time for the slaughter of livestock…. More…