Winter rests her heavy hand on the shoulder of Autumn, and Autumn relents -- sad, relieved, anticipating the end of the next Summer.
And even with cheery songs, happy faces, gaily lit and decorated surroundings...
There is much in it of Hallowe'en.
This is because, like Autumn, a great part of the beauty of Winter is its darkness.
And, as in the season just ended, we celebrate as Autumn People -- chilling tales of chilling nights, howling winds, icy caverns; frozen bed chambers in forgotten manors; ghosts, mysteries, madmen and monsters.
A thousand generations of long nights endured in the deadest, chilliest, hoariest time of the year have inspired the imaginations of artists, authors, musicians, tale-tellers all over the world to ponder how fragile we can be, how hardy and hale and so easily turned to children in the face of the Great Mystery -- the year's end, the land's seeming death that is Winter.
And still so much beauty in which to find warmth, peace and light.
It is good to be back here at the Skull & Pumpkin.
It has been some time.
I see that no one has disturbed the dust, the cobwebs... the darkness.
Thank you all.
In light of the coming Other Holiday, I thought it was time to change out the ol' jukebox and add a touch of yuletide tunage to our publy party.
Of course, we always begin our jukebox with The Great Pumpkin Waltz -- it is the official theme song of the S&P. We always end it with Pumpkintime, our official incidental music.
Tonight I have added a piano piece from my own repertoire, recorded with the help of violinist Bobby Tillery. From the Stage (L) wings between shows at the Welk Theatre in 1999, comes our short interpretation of Ryuichi Sakamoto's haunting theme from the 1983 film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.
A difficult film that still manages to end with a kind of smile.
The next song has been here before, and I will always add it in December -- the Joni Mitchell song River, performed by James Taylor, available free at his website as a Christmas gift for his fans back in 2006.
It is simple, elegant, and sad... and therefore delicious.
And then, something I just had to share with you all, and for which you will all be so grateful that I expect boxes of coal mailed to the house -- a truly glorious version of Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer which I knew was going to be on our player as soon as I heard it done by Taiwanese pop group Cai Mi Mi & Five Petals (or Mimi Chai & the Five Petals or just Mi Mi Cai or Chai Mi Mi or The Five Petals or just Five Petals but since there are SIX of them, who in hell knows?)...
Their version of Rudolph comes from a 1968 album and I wish I had the rest of that vinyl.
Still searching. Christmas is coming.
And not coincidentally, our jukebox says it is here.
Of course, we begin with a Peanuts tune, so I had to add Vince Guaraldi's ultra-classic, ultra-jazz-trio cut Christmastime Is Here from the so-famous-and-classic-it's-in-our-DNA-since-1965 holiday TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas.
And then, because I cannot shake the feeling that a deep, long winter is repetition of a nearly Zen-like scale, I felt I should end our jukebox additions the same way I began them -- with a piano and violin duet.
This time, it is Barbra Higbie and Darol Anger playing their beautiful dance True Story, from their 1982 album Tideline.
Falling, falling, falling...
I surely hope That Other Holiday treats you right this year. It's certainly bearing down quickly enough.
For now, a wintry nap is in store.
Do stick around and listen, read, dig through the archives.
I know, dear S&Pbrains, that I have been markedly absent from this humble little place for a while, but it really is strictly about my workload and my mind being... well, mymind!
I do want to assure you all -- if it's at all important to you -- that I am not "taking a break from blogging" or "going through a rough patch" or even "reevaluating my life".
I'm just... busy. And a kind of busy that keeps me from fully immersing myself into the darker -- and way more fun -- side of my life.
I can also assure you that come Christmas, everything will get back to what passes for normal around this spooky ol' place.
(I am also trying to locate a better audio hosting site for our jukebox and radio, which should explain why there has been no change to either for some time -- Podbean has decided my paid account no longer merits uploading multiple files at once, and adding five or ten mp3s one at a time? Yeah, not going to put up with that when I have paid to not have to hassle with it).
The Skull & Pumpkin, like all aspects of our Hallowe'en and Horror love, is always alive and well, even if your humble pubkeep has vanished for a time.
More posts to come, promise.
I mean... hell, Monsterpalooza's coming in April... and I have this feeling that Ray Bradbury and Uncle Forry might be having a nice chat together somewhere in that Museum...
I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving.
Please keep coming in, relaxing, perusing the library.
I think what I wrote last year is so apt that it bears repeating. And since Hallowe'en is a day that takes place outside of time, I feel like every Hallowe'en is part of the same long, wondrous day and night, like we're just picking up from where we left off the year before.
Friends, family, all Autumn People... this is for us.
is the New Year celebration of an ancient world, and an ancient
celebration of what has come and gone, what may lie ahead, and what our
place will be in whatever comes.
It is the birthday of childhood fears, but the anniversary of casting those fears away, all at once.
Even as it changes with time and tide, it has never disappointed.
calls us to come out and play again, to talk and laugh and scream and
chase and run as the children we still are, will always be, no matter
how we try to hide it.
It sets the sun a pumpkin
orange, carries leaves on a woodsmoke wind to tap our windows, scratch
our memories, to tickle and reawaken our love -- our need -- for the Tall Tale, the Scary Story, the Fright.
It is yours, and it is mine, and it connects us across miles.
does not teach us to fear -- we already know fear quite well. It
doesn't say 'See? Here are horrors you wouldn't know but for Me.'
Like all Fantasy, which is itself a child of our darkest primal nights,
it does not teach children that there are dragons. They already know
It just shows us all that dragons can be slain.
is our secret satisfaction at the puzzle unsolved, our continuous joy
at the Great Mystery, for it is the stating and confronting of our most
primal fear... and because it is the facing of our own death, it boldly
and blessedly reminds us to live while we are alive.
It is Hallowe'en.
It is today, and tonight. God, what a gift.
The Skull & Pumpkin wishes all of you a meaningful, magical, and mystical Hallowe'en, wherever you may be.
pumpkins on the tree were not mere pumpkins. Each had a face sliced in
it, each face was different. Every nose was a weirder nose, every mouth
smiled hideously in some new way. A thousand grimaces and
twice-times-a-thousand glares of fresh cut eyes. Each blink held the
remnant holiday spirit of years gone by."
A short treat for all you dear S&Pbrains -- a quick video teaser of just a few of the beautiful pumpkins we're receiving for our Hallowe'en Tree, as they flicker and glow on the main stairs of the ol' Skull & Pumpkin...
I can't wait to see how it looks with all of them dangling like leaves from the gnarled old tree...
Actually, they ain't no cheatin' goin' on -- and why am I using redneck talk?
I just wanted everyone to take a gander over at ShellHawk's Nest, and be sure to follow her October-long guest blogger series, Favorite Urban Legends.
Currently, my own humble contribution (thanks for the invite, Shell!) has just been posted there, but since I haven't posted here in a little while, I thought perhaps some of you might think I'm cheatin' on the S&P with ShellHawk's Nest.
As is promised every Winter, and remembered come Spring, and anticipated with sweat, longing and torment all Summer long...
Autumn is here.
And now you can listen to it.
On our jukebox, in two parts, I offer the entire George Winston solo piano masterpiece Autumn.
It is presented in two parts for two reasons:
1. The songs are listed as three September pieces, and four October pieces, and
2. The hosting site stopped letting paying users upload multiple files and I would not have otherwise been able to get it all loaded before, oh, April 27th, 2305.
Still, here are the songs in order on the album back...
It may not last long. Some non-understanding suit from Time-Warner or Sony or wherever may soon come calling with a cease-and-desist or something, even though you cannot download it from here and we are a free, non-profit, All Hallow's kinda pub.
So, like the Season itself -- enjoy, relish it, devour it while you can.
Like the last set of tunes from our jukebox occasionally remarked, it's our time to shine.
And shine darkly, shall we all.
Happy Autumn 2012, dear friends of the Skull & Pumpkin.
Happy Almost-Autumn, or, as I have never called it until now, 'Falmost.'
Work is always calling at this time of year, and even if I always state my belief that there are far worse problems to have than lots of work, it does make the free moments to enjoy Fall that much more rare and special.
And as for making Hallowe'en, it takes its toll.
But I will not be stopped.
Just a few things this time around, but important progress.
First, Mr. Moundshroud has found some color and detail...
"He looks like the 'Salem's Lot vampi-*SLAP!*No he doesn't.
He needs to find some pupils.
I think. I don't know. What do you think? Does he need pupils?
Also, guess what?
The pumpkins are beginning to arrive...
Thank you Paul, Gianna, Todd, Devin, Aidan and all the others here and on their way.
I sure hope we can make something that will live up to our vision.
And with a little Hallowe'en magic I'm sure we all can.
The end of Summer, the beginning of the greatest season of the blessed year.
And there is still just time enough to make a real Hallowe'en.
Not that a real Hallowe'en has to be made -- Hallowe'en happens all by its glorious self -- but for we haunting types, September is the deadline month, the time of do-or-die, of now-or-never, of damnit-where's-that-glue-gun-and-why-haven't-you-been-to-storage-yet?
But this year, I am sort of combining September with October... though I suppose for true Hallowe'en types they're sort of the same long, lovely month anyway.
I could call it 'Septober,' but that's kind of lame and besides, it's already a Martian word -- when it is December on Earth, it is Septober on Mars. Just ask Chochem.
Still, because I am making little distinction between the two, I am therefore not adding September-specific songs to the ol' S&P Jukebox. Instead, for the next two months, I am just going to keep adding and changing all of my favorite Hallowe'en music, the things I have in constant rotation while creating Hallowe'en here at the Skull & Pumpkin.
Of course, there are two songs on the S&P Jukebox that never leave, that always retain their opening and closing positions -- The Great Pumpkin Waltz (our official theme song) and Pumpkintime (our official incidental score).
But for the beginning of Septob -- ah-ha! almost got me doing it, darn you! -- September, I think a visit with dear old friends is needed.
For your enjoyment and edification, the Skull & Pumpkin presents
the entire 1967 original motion picture soundtrack from our beloved
Rankin/Bass favorite, Mad Monster Party!
Yes, every recorded note of composer/music director Maury Laws' greatest (don't argue) score is available for your creepy listening delight right here on that jukebox over there to the upper right.
Oh, such mad monstery music...
... just the thing to have blaring from your speakers while whipping up all manner of All Hallow's goodness, waiting for the gathering on the Big Night.
It's a classic, and a tradition, and even if you already have this in your collection, it's nice to have it all available as we commune at the S&P to share our Autumn People... uh, personhood.
Much like your very life, it won't be available forever, so enjoy it while you may.
And what's coming up next on the jukebox?
Much like your very afterlife... who the Hell knows?