Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Haunted Houses and Attractions near IC

It’s about to be Halloween weekend in Iowa City, a time when the girls are looking a little extra freaky and the guys a little too creepy.

While bobbing for apples (or beers in our case) can be a good time, if your feeling extra spirited its always a great time to check out some local haunted houses.

In case you didn’t know, Iowa is home to hundreds of haunted houses and other spooky attractions that are open all weekend long. I’ve done some research and found the two spookiest, most bone chilling places to check out.

Circle of Ash Haunted Attraction

412 7th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids, Open weekends 8-12 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lT0_OsNUO9k&feature=player_embedded--Check out this promo video!

This place has one of the freakiest websites I have come across. Think Saw meets Silence of the Lambs meets the Joker. This is a self-guided tour through an indoor haunted house maze. They encourage you to walk extra slow so you don’t miss any of the hidden features. Eeeeekk! They recommend you go in groups no larger than 5 people because of space and group interaction. They say they don’t touch you by surprise but they do ask you to interact with set pieces and other cast members.

Nightmare Manor

525 H St. SW, Cedar Rapids,

This 100-year-old creepy riverfront warehouse is full of nightmares. It has boarded up windows and has several deaths that have been said to occur there. Homeless Tom “Jackson” Howard was a man that did odd jobs for the hotel in trade for a place to sleep. After a while he got uncomfortable and left, but always showed up for Halloween season. His old living space was below the electric chair and he would count how many “executions” took place each night. In 2003, Tom became ill and hallucinatory and on fall evening the landlord found him dead. No one claimed Tom’s body and so the landlord has his ashes hanging out on the mantle, until they scatter them someday. This house is known as a “too scary to complete” haunted house. Paranormal investigators have seen some action around his ashes and even heard voices and seen strange movements.

Hope you all make it out to a haunted house, have a little liquor courage, wear your sexy costume and maybe shit you pants too!

-Carly Hurwitz

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Artsy Halloween Costumes

It’s that time of year again. You carved the pumpkins, the candy is by the door, and now the only thing left to do is find the perfect costume. If you’re tired of your usual naughty woodland creature getup, try one of these artsy ideas instead.

Have a classy Halloween!

Vincent Van Gogh

For this look, wear a bright blue shirt and a straw hat. If you are already a redhead with a beard then you’re golden. But if you’re not, try drawing on a beard with a reddish brown eyebrow pencil or get a fake stick-on beard.

What you really need to do to make the costume recognizable is use some gauze to bandage your left ear. Then get a fake rubber prop ear (you might be able to find one in a costume shop or magic shop, or just make your own out of Sculpey clay and bake it) and give it to people throughout the night. You will make so many friends.

You could also get a large frame and take the glass and backing off and rig it up with straps so you could wear it around like a self-portrait.

Crayola Crayon

If you are a girl get a simple tank dress in the color of crayon you want to be. If you are a guy, try using pillowcases in your chosen color or dye them. To keep the pillowcase up, wear a shirt in the same color underneath and pin the pillowcase onto it. If the pillowcase is too small, use two, cutting them open and pinning them together.

Next using black felt, construction paper, or duct tape, create long rectangles that can go around your upper torso and upper thigh area. In the middle of the rectangle cut out a wavy line. Then cut out a long oval big enough to fit the word crayola, and cut out the letters. Then attach it vertically to your stomache.

For the crayon point, you could use construction paper in the same color as your outfit and roll it into a cone shape, securing it to your head with string. Or try using a gas funnel and spray-painting it the color you want.


So you want to be Mozart? You need a white ruffled shirt, preferably with ruffles at the end of the cuffs, black shorts that hit below the knee, a black coat (the fancier the better), knee high socks tucked into the shorts, and loafers on your feet.

For the hair, curl it and fluff it up with lots of volume. You could either do the tight rolled up curls pinned on the sides with the top straight or leave it all in big curls and secure with a black ribbon at the back of your neck in a ponytail. To make it white you could probably find some sort of a spray at a costume shop or experiment with baby powder. Of course if all that sounds too hard, just get a white wig.

You could even add a child's keyboard with a strap attached and carry it around with you.

Audrey Hepburn

For this look you need a very classy black, sort of retro, sheath dress. Add long black gloves, a few layered strands of pearls, oversized round sunglasses, one of those long cigarette holders (you can find them pretty cheap on Amazon.com), and a black hat with a large, wide brim.

Sweep your hair up in a high chignon and a tuck a small tiara comb in the top.

Now go get some candy.

-Julia Jessen

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reading List

I am always disappointed with the lack of time I can find to read books for fun. Between reading for classes, doing assignments for classes, and trying to have a tiny bit of a life outside of classes, reading tends to fall by the wayside.

But I’ve decided to try to make a little more time for reading. In honor of my efforts I’ve made this short list of a few books that I really enjoyed and a couple that I’m looking forward to beginning.

The Help

By Kathryn Stockett

I read this book while on vacation with my family this summer, and I became completely engrossed by it. I read it before I saw the movie, and I enjoyed both. It’s always a pleasant surprise when a movie based on a book is actually almost as good as the book. I cried at the end of both.

The book, set in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962, tells the interwoven story of two maids, Aibileen and Minny, and a budding journalist, Skeeter, as they expose what it’s really like to work for a white family in the 60’s.

The Passage

By Justin Cronin

Not your typical vampire novel, this book by Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate, Justin Cronin, takes you into a bleak apocalyptic future filled with strange violent creatures, and a few people trying to save the world.

I’ve heard that this book is set to become a movie, which will be very exciting, and hopefully a good movie. I’m also excited about the second book in the series, which will come out in 2012.

Postcards from Europe

By Rick Steves

I love Rick Steves. He is kind of my old man crush. Rick Steves is a guidebook author, travel writer, and he hosts the public television program, “Rick Steves’ Europe”. This book provides a more anecdotal look at his travels, sharing adventures from years of traveling that are funny, beautiful, and inspiring. This book is one of my favorites in my Rick Steves collection.

One Day

By David Nicholls

I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s sitting on my desk right now waiting for the moment when I have a sliver of time to crack it open.

The book takes place during a single day each year for twenty years, showing the interaction of the lives of Dex and Emma.

I would also like to see the movie version of the book, which stars Anne Hathaway, but I hear it’s not very good. I have a feeling I’ll probably like it anyway.

Chuck Close: Life

By Christopher Finch

I recently picked this up from the Haunted Bookstore, and it is now sitting on my desk with One Day, also waiting to be read.

This is a biography looking at the life of Chuck Close, an amazing painter (some of his pieces look exactly like photographs of the person they’re depicting), who suffered a spinal stroke, which caused him temporary quadriplegia. His story sounds amazing, and I know his work is incredible, so I can’t wait to read about him.

-Julia Jessen

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Alexa Meade: Painting on People

I love it when art plays with your expectations, completely catching you off guard and ripping away what you thought you knew. I think one of the best examples of this can be found in Alexa Meade.

I first found out about Alexa in an issue of Nylon magazine last year. Completely amazed by the pictures of her work that accompanied the article, I could not stop looking at them.

"Alexa Split in Two"
This piece gives you an idea of how awesome and breathtaking her style is.

The 25 year old artist paints directly on her subjects, creating 2 dimensional representations of the person on their own 3 dimensional form. Her website describes her work as lying at "the intersection of painting, photography, performance, and installation.

When she paints somebody, she will often also paint the background, completely involving the atmosphere in the painting.

It blows my mind that this is an actual man sitting here. Way too cool, no?

Sometimes she will also take her subject and place them as an installation in an everyday place.


What would you do if you saw a painted old man on the subway? I love the juxtaposition here of the surrealism of the man and the realism of the world around him .

I think that Alexa Meade is really unique and that her style is fresh and innovative. If you're looking for a new artist crush, definitely check her out.

-Julia Jessen