Island Hopper: A bloody good idea for All Hallows Eve

The crispness in the air, the shorter days, the stores filled to the rafters with tinsel and glitter and boughs of evergreen can mean only one thing, dear readers... Halloween is upon us once again!

Yes, despite the retail rush to Christmas, every October, I insist on luxuriating in my second-favorite holiday, when we put masks over our faces like convenience-store criminals and beg strangers for candy just like our mamas always told us not to.

This year the festivities started early at Zombicon 2007 in downtown Fort Myers. Part of a national party celebrating all things undead, the Southwest Florida arm was held at the Patio de Leon, with deejays, cocktails, and lots and lots of brain-seeking zombies.

Your gentle non-violent Island Hopper found herself carried away with the spirit of the thing (pun intended), and I spent the day experimenting with varying mixtures of honey, dish soap, and food dye until I had whipped up a brimming bowl of “blood,” with which I lavishly coated my clothes, face, and neck.

Really into it now, I fetched one of my nieces’ baby dolls from a toy box I keep for the kids, and sawed off the top of its head. (I am a good aunt. Really.)

After generously coating the little sprite’s gaping head cavity with more of my home-cooked blood, I then filled it with pink cotton candy, which I proceeded to snack from throughout the night. (The costume was quite the hit—see picture!)

Then I, and about a hundred or so other truly hideous zombies, partied like (dead) rock stars well past the witching hour, taking periodic “zombie walks” through the downtown area (to the great startlement of downtown denizens), dancing on tables, and doing —yes, of course— the “Thriller” dance to the best of our abilities.

As with the ludicrously early appearance of Christmas decorations, I elected to start my Halloween celebration quite early, and plan to make it a two-week-long fete right up until All Hallows Eve.

Longtime Goodland fixture Stan Gober has a similar idea, apparently. He plans to host some Halloween festivities of his own at Stan’s Idle Hour on Sunday and there’ll be a costume contest, of course! A $30 prize for the best costume will be offered and, in true Stan fashion, there will also be a $20 prize for the worst costume.

This past Sunday I showed up following my big zombie blowout, having laboriously scrubbed the sticky pink bloodstains from my skin, and feeling rather on the undead side myself after my party evening.

Walking in wearing shorts and a tank, I immediately felt overdressed at Stan’s —and I’m talking quantity rather than quality here. Stan’s is kind of a “no shoes, no shirt, no problem” establishment, and even my summery wear was quite modest by comparison to many patrons’.

Onstage was the trio version of the band Hot Damn, who often play as a duo with just husband and wife Norm and Deb Pelletier. With the addition of drummer Danny Odum, the three produce a “whole lotta” sound. Deb on her quirky little mini upright bass, Norm on acoustic guitar, and all three on vocals.

What you’ll get in a Hot Damn set is a foot-stompin’ good time. The band hovers mainly in the territory of country and southern rock, but you’ll get a bit of bluegrass, blues, and good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll salted in there as well.

Norm is one hell of a guitar player, and the band showcases his talent with plenty of chances for him to solo. With his sure, solid voice he takes lead on most of the set list, his versatile tone swinging from a Toby Keith growl to a Dwight Yoakam twang.

Deb plays a mean bass, and her harmonies are rightly prominently featured. She’s got a fine singing voice, which she gets to wield on songs like “Rocky Top,” which gets her audience do-si-doing on the dance floor in a hoedown throw-down.

They’re backed by Odum on rhythm, who sets the pace and fills out their sound, adding his vocals on tunes like “634-5789,” which Hot Damn personalizes with a terrific blues/funk vibe.

The trio play at Stan’s every fourth Sunday bacchanalia —their next appearance onstage is Nov. 18.

You can also see Hot Damn there every Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m., Wednesday nights from 6 to 10 p.m., and every other Friday evening.

Visit, for other area appearances.

And get creative for Halloween, folks! I’m happy to share my excellent blood recipe with any interested readers.


And check my e-mail address — — for fascinating repartee and answers to all your Marco Island entertainment queries!

© 2007 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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