"Oh Lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy." And the Lord did grin.

Brother Maynard, the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, and the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog. © Ryan Schierling

We celebrate two holidays here pretty religiously. Every fourth of July, we invite everyone we know over and we eat and drink and make some serious merry. Last year's Independence Day celebration included every type of hot dog you can imagine, and every type of condiment to go along with it. If you wanted a proper Chicago dog with sport peppers and neon green relish, you were in luck (right down to the homemade poppy seed-flecked buns). If you wanted that crazy sweet onion tomato-based topping that you can only find on a New York dog, we had it. Slaw dogs, chili dogs, perros caliente or a Chehalis Cor-Dog Bleu. We don't mess around.

And when it comes to Halloween costume parties, we're of the same mind.

This year will be the fifth annual Ghetto Melrose Halloween Party – the kind of party where folks begin planning their costume for the next year when they're swerving out the door and catching a cab at 3 a.m. 

We've had celebrities (Britney Spears, Drew Carey and Mimi, Clint Eastwood w/ "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" theme music), we've had politicians (California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, President Martin van Buren), movie heroes and villains (The Rocketeer, Jedi knights, Foxy Brown, Jay and Silent Bob, the rabbit from Monty Python's Holy Grail) and we've had some serious oddities (Dimebag Darrell, a Netflix DVD and mailing envelope, the greasy mechanic played by Billy Bob Thornton in "U-Turn").

And how often do you see a photographer in full ice hockey gear (including skates) shooting portraits? 

(Granted, I had to drop the gloves to do it.)

It's a grand time, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

(Clockwise from top left) Britney Spears and paparazzi. Nick Nolte. Mimi and Drew Carey. Aztec priestess. © Ryan Schierling

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