Come celebrate the darkness by bringing your light.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Announcing...

... a kind of scary thing I know I must do!

Fellow S&P-brains, loyal readers, and newcomers, your humble pubkeep has opened his spooky basement laboratory of mad monster-making to unleash his brand of magic on the Hallowe'en-loving world.

I have been creating my own kind of Hallowe'en art for years, and now it's time to offer my services, and my craft, to my fellow Autumn People...

Yes...


I want to build you a piece of Hallowe'en art -- decoration, prop, animatronic talking, singing, moving, pumpkin, skull, raven, bat, robot, all from the mind and machinations of this Hallowe'en maniac.

Wouldn't you love to have a piece of S&P magic at your house at Hallowe'en and every other night of the year?

I will say, though, that there is a kind of catch, because there's just no way around it... it is going to be pricey, depending on what you want.

For something static (non-moving) as simple and cool as one of these flickering LED candled skulls (with or without jaw) decorations:


... it could be as little as $25 to $30 plus shipping. In this category are other types of LED candles and one of a kind decorative items handmade and created by yours truly and other select artists.

On the other end of the scale for something as fully realized as my famous Raven:


... which would come with a candled skull, stand, playback system and all needed cables and power supplies (minus sound system), it could cost as much as $3,000 plus at least $85 insured shipping.

Then again, for a large but 'simpler' talking/singing pumpkin head like that of my beloved creation seen on HGTV's Extreme Hallowe'en:

... things would be more likely in the $1500 range. Similar, and likely less expensive still, would be a simple skull which talks/sings, and has expressive eyebrow movement.

I will fully program them of course, and can even program them to say what you want them to say or sing what you want them to sing, free for up to 5 minutes of routines, and for an extra $50 per five minutes after that.

You must use your own sound system -- anything from inexpensive computer speakers to guitar amplifiers to the most tech-envied stereo set up in history, whatever you have on hand will work so long as it has an input to accept sound from the standalone payback unit or your computer.

Why your computer? Well, should you wish to forego the standalone playback system and run this piece of spooky art right from your own computer or laptop, then you could save yourself hundreds of dollars, and only have to purchase (elsewhere online) $80 worth of software (Brookshire's VSA software 'Hobbyist' version) to install and run from your computer. I will happily and patiently talk you through the entire process -- it is FAR easier than you think, trust me! -- and will gladly answer every question you have for as long as you require my help!

But you can dream big too, and if you wanted me to build something to your specs and fully from your own imagination, with sound system, playback system and everything thrown in, well... let's talk!

Yeah... I know it's expensive. I wish I could make it more affordable for even the poorest haunter or spooky art collector.

But these creations do cost a lot in parts and a LOT of labor. They will also take TIME to produce -- a week for a candled skull, but up to six or eight weeks for a Raven or similar large piece.

Still, they will each be a very unique addition to your spooky collection of ghoulish goodies, something you can't simply pick up at a big box store at ANY price because it is a true art piece, made by hand, with the love of Hallowe'en in every stitch, servo and serial wire in the heart of the good ol' U.S. of A.

Specific pieces and pricing will come soon, but don't hesitate to start writing or calling now. I will absolutely be dealing one on one with each customer, and find what works for both of us, from item to payment method to shipping and anything else, to get your desired creation into your ghostly gallery!

To request a good time to call you and get talking about your new acquisition, write me at:

grtpmpkin32_at_aol.com

... just remove the '_at_' and type in the usual @ in its place.


This is just starting up, and I know I will surely have a few stumbling moments as I begin this rather scary but exciting undertaking. I am moving from the music realm into truly offering my Hallowe'en creations to fellow Autumn People who I know appreciate it.

It's simply about time I did.

So... can I make something for you?

DDSPleasewrite!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Birthdays.

Yes, dear, long-suffering S&Pers, just a few weeks ago, this humble homely house celebrated it's 4TH year of spooky shenanigans.

FOUR years of the Skull & Pumpkin.

Now, I now this year has been lean, and the pickings slim, compared to the previous years, and much of that has to do with turmoil and unplanned moves in my life.

It's not going away -- this place will get back to normal when I do -- but these things go in cycles, and for now, it is quiet, thoughtful, and calm in here.

One reason for some of the turmoil is that today marks my 45th birthday.

Now, I am not upset or scared or freaked by turning 45. I certainly am not going through any crisis of life.

But I am going through some crises concerning my future career, the next part of my life that I will try my best to accomplish.

It demands thoughtful consideration, considerable emotion, and a lot of rigorously honest self-evaluation... and all of that takes time.

So here's to a few birthdays, and to all of us who find ourselves in limbo now and then -- it's good to know we're in this thing together...

... and that we have our Monsters, our Hallowe'en, to bring us back to life, every time.

A toast...

DUMDUMSHREKPOP!!!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

Ah yes, S&Pers!

It is the hot, sunny day and warm, firework-poppingy night when we celebrate how diverse, bizarre, messed up, wonderful and unique this little Noble Experiment called America has always been.

We here at the Skull & Pumpkin salute America, the American Dream, and the small but vocal group of American Citizens who hold dear their freedom to celebrate the darker side of life, who have a leg up on everyone else when it comes to dealing with fear, darkness and death... simply because they explore it all the year 'round.

God Bless America!

Shuffle ever onward, American Troops of Hallowe'en Love!

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!!

P.S. Watch this space for a special announcement coming very, very soon. You will soon be able to have some homemade, handbuilt Skull & Pumpkin goodies direct from the October Country... details will come in a few days.

Onward!
 
DDSPatriotic!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Happy Wizarding Independence Day!

Last year's post about this momentous night and day was too good to try to improve upon, and so I reprint it again, with permission from... well, me!




 "You and whose army?"
 -- Neville Longbottom


Today, all Autumn People who discovered the added Hallowe'en magic of the world of Harry Potter celebrate the day -- 15 years ago now -- when the greater gathering of good destroyed a terrible network of evil. When Tom met his end, when the 'complete git' bit it.

When Voldey went mouldy.

A bittersweet, awe-inspiring night and day.

Bittersweet like the end of a good job, a long production, a particularly difficult and mind-changing, heart-learning adventure...

"No ending can be right, because it shouldn't be over at all. 
The magic is not supposed to go away."
 -- Stephen King on the end of the book series

It's alright though. 

The magic never goes away. Like Remus, and Tonks, and Fred, and even the bad guys... it never ends.

Not really.

To those who know -- Happy Wizarding Independence Day.

To those who don't -- now might be a perfect time to begin the adventure.


DDSPotter!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monsterpaloozin' my mind: The Ghoul Goes Western Electric, pt. 4

"... they're coming to get you, Barbra."

Here's another slice of the wonder that is Monsterpalooza -- and why this past show may have been the best yet.
 'Monsterpalooza '13' sign created by Mad Miranda and Your Humble Pubkeep.

Now, you can't have been loyal S&Pbrains this long and somehow missed that your Humble Pubkeep is a fanatic for the films of George Romero, and most especially his original 1968 masterpiece, Night of the Living Dead.

I've only written about it like a zombillion times.

I believe I have coined the phrase RomZoms to distinguish Romero's creations from the rest of the films/tropes/mythologies of zombiedom.

But we'll let future scholars argue over it another day, because tonight, I have a tale to tell.

Onward...

On Friday night, the first night of the 'palooza, we all attended a very fun panel discussion called Ladies of the Living Dead, featuring original cast members Judith Ridley (Judy), Judith O'Dea (Barbra) and Kyra Schon (Karen, the body at the top of the stairs, and other stand-in parts).

Historic.

L to R: Ridley, O'Dea, and Schon.

Led by documentarian (Autopsy of the Dead) and Night of the Living Dead expert Jim Cirronella, the discussion was essentially a room full of zombie geeks asking questions I am sure these ladies have fielded a thousand times a year for decades... but it was just so much fun!

Now, I knew months before that they would be there -- it was in fact a fairly historic moment for Night fans, since the three of them had never attended a convention at the same time -- and a thought hit me that I should do something to mark the occasion.

Do you remember this t-shirt?


This shirt was given to me by my Mama in 1988. I wore it for a year straight, it seems, and on every Hallowe'en since; if I include the extra Hallowe'en I gave the neighborhood during the September 2004 taping of the HGTV Extreme Hallowe'en special (and I do!), that makes 25 Hallowe'ens I have worn this very shirt!

I brought this special shirt with me to Monsterpalooza. I thought maybe I'd have Kyra Schon sign it, since she's on the damn thing and it is so cool.

Almost as we were heading out the door to make our way to Burbank, I thought "Wait, no Sharpie or paint pen is going to write on this threadbare shirt -- the white area is too washed out now, the black is... well, too black to see any writing. A silver or gold or even white paint pen would simply soak through and never hold up. What do I do?"

And I ran down to the dungeon laboratory and opened a drawer of painty things. There, laying atop the mess as if in wait for this moment, was a bottle of bright green slick fabric paint, with the tiny pen applicator tip.


Too perfect.

Come Sunday morning, the lovely V and I were at the show early, to turn on the Raybot and make sure he was working, and get ol' Eddie Van Bone at least looking good, if not moving at all (ugh, hard drives!).

And V said, "Now. Now is the time to get her to sign the shirt, before the doors open and the lines form. She might be at the table already!"

We walked to the celebrity table section, and sure enough, Kyra, Judith and Judith were all there, just about ready to begin one last long day of monstergeekery and autographs and pictures.

Judith O'Dea looked up at us first, with her big smile and friendly eyes, and immediately began talking to us like we'd known her for years. At one point she even asked if either of us knew what was "going on with The Masters?" Apparently having to spend that entire tournament weekend at a monster convention signing table was difficult for her golf-loving heart. I brought up the news and leader board on my Galaxy tablet and she perused it for a while, and thanked us for the "update on the civilised world!", she laughed. (I kinda have a crush on her, can you tell? A truly welcoming, wonderfully funny lady).

Then Kyra said hello as we came up to her table, and I told her the story of the shirt. She laughed, and thought it was very cool that "... you mean a Lennon Sister actually bought a t-shirt with my face on it?!" She then said "Oh, you're going to need some cardboard to back it..." and reached under the table and grabbed a piece of cardboard (apparently just waiting there?!) to give me. V and I slipped/taped the shirt over it, and brought her the pen.

Well, ALL three ladies were so wonderfully warm and friendly, and fun...

 Kyra Schon couldn't have been more 'normal' and cool. 

 Judith Ridley explained, "I am only writing 'Judy,' not Judith, to save on having to write more with the paint pen!" 
She was very sweet!

Ah, Barbra! Judith O'Dea rocks!

I could go on forever about how elegant and kind these ladies were, and are. But the end result for me, beyond forever having the memory of meeting three of the most important Scream Queens in my Hallowe'en Lovin' Heart... is this:


And now, officially retired from Hallowe'en duties, it is still on that same cardboard given me by Kyra, framed and mounted under glass next to my Romero zombie shelf...


... alongside my other original Night of the Living Dead treasures.

An honor.

And another splendid addition to the wondrous decor here at the Skull & Pumpkin.

To Kyra, and Judy, and Judith, a toast... raise 'em high now:

DUMDUMSHREKPOP!

Onward...

DDSP!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Monsterpaloozin' my mind: The Ghoul Goes Western Electric, pt. 3

Greetings loyal S&Pers!

Tonight, I have finally put together video of my Raybot, his entire (though brief at only a few minutes or so) routine.

Very proud.

video

I don't think I have to add anything textually to this, beyond my joy at him working without a hitch the entire weekend, and how very much I love, and appreciate the help of, my Monsterpaloyees --  Henner, Miranda and my V.

I loved making him. I loved displaying him.

And I loved, and always will love, Ray Bradbury.

Live forever.

Onward...

DDSP!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Monsterpaloozin' my mind: The Ghoul Goes Western Electric, pt. 2

Oh, my dear, beleaguered, patient S&Pbrains, I have finally found a moment to pop in and give a few nods to the people and the moments which made this past weekend's Monsterpalooza so fun.

First, let me introduce you to the Raybot, the Body Electric, ol' Botbury himself, my animatronic Ray Bradbury...


In his element, his workdesk loaded with toys, books, robots, dinosaurs, more books, skulls and pumpkins.

He would have loved this ol' pub, I think.

He worked, and worked well, all weekend long. People took pictures, stood awed, a lot actually shed tears for the remembrance of their love of this giant of fantasy and inspiration. I will post video of him when I get home (we're still traveling back from the convention). Quite the display.

Now, ol' Edward Van Bone, a returning champion from last year, didn't fare as well.


Oh, he looked sensationally sick and decrepit, thanks to the hard work of Henchman Henner, my niece Mad Miranda and my wife, the Lovely V. 

And for all of Friday night, he worked beautifully.

But Saturday morning, as he was warming up, he stopped talking. I found the minor problem right away, and fixed it... but not before somehow stepping on the notebook computer controlling him and his audio, and causing the hard drive to stop working entirely. No replacement was at hand, and even had one been, a complete installation and reprogramming would have been too prohibitively long a process. So, we just lit and posed him to beckon folks inside. Worked like a charm, actually.

He'll be back. 

Onward...

This is the fun, fanatical, sexy shaper of stoneware and prestidigitator of pumpkiny pottery, the delightful Shelley from one of the S&P's greatest friend-blogs, Shellhawk's Nest. Here she is with Raybot and the famous -- so famous I am breathless at having the honor of posting it here at this humble little pub -- Chris Aype!

Great to see you again, Shell and Ape!


My friend and make-up artist extraordinaire Casey Wong built a stunning full scale Phantom of the Opera piece, with Erik, Christine, and a beautiful old organ built from scratch (more pics later). It's always so good to see him and his ever-impressive monster creations. And "hi" to Mama Rhonda! Mahalo!


Of course, no Monsterpalooza is complete without a visit with one of my best bloggin' buddies and uniquely visionary artist Bob Lizarraga. His work just stuns me. I am happy and proud to say I own some of his works, a few gifts from a very cool Bob himself. Never get enough time, sir. 

Here's my nephew, my Godson, Young Will (you remember him, don't you?) with my friend, artist, puppeteer and producer Bill Diamond, discussing the finer points of inking in shades. Two peas, these guys, though three-thousand miles and a generation apart. Love it.


More motley monstergeekery in the form of some pretty outstanding and wonderful folks. From L to R, the actor, teacher and event moderator Perry Shields; mask maker, artist/designer Kim Reynolds; sketch artist and movie producer/director Frank Deitz; and long-time genre writer and opiner David Schow.


And finally, for the moment, my brother-in-Monsterdom, actor Daniel Roebuck, with my wife, the Lovely V.

There is much more to show you, and I will have it after our return to the Skull & Pumpkin this weekend.

For now, sleep is calling. So are the truckers outside -- cheap motels, I gotta tell you.

Until again, 

DDSP!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Ghoul Goes Western Electric, pt. 1

Hello long-suffering S&Pbrains!

Monsterpalooza is rapidly approaching, and my ill-timed but very needed stretch of emotional learning and grieving has not stopped me from working on this year's submission to the Museum.

Oh, ol' Edward Van Bone will be back -- he made a real splash last year and I think he ought to head up the Museum every year -- but I've been working on a new figure.

Oh, I know I'd mentioned perhaps having Ray Bradbury and Uncle Forry having a long-awaited discussion now that they're both in the realm of Prince Sirki, but that was simply not to be. Not enough time or resources.

Sometimes life is just like that. No one's going to be injured. I'll take it.

But I still wanted to tribute Papa Ray, so pondering his Walt Whitman-inspired 'I Sing The Body Electric', the idea of a Raybot, of Bradbury's own Body Electric, came to me in a sparking, zapping, giggling dream.

Here he is so far...


He needed those steel blue eyes to be lit, and his neck (along with the rest of his Body Electric, which I'll be working on today) is comprised, I am happy to say, of old radio parts. There's something very apt about that, to me. Vintage radio. I'll take it.

More to come, but I had to update today.

I hope you are all enjoying your first day of Spring. Out here, the S&P is awaiting a big winter storm.

Apparently the weather guys didn't get the memo.

Onward!


DDSnowyPrecipitation!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Rumors of my death...

...have been greatly exaggerated.

Well, not so greatly. I mean, I'm not dead, this is certain.

But for a moment there I sure felt pretty gone.


Oh dear S&Pbrains, I am okay, I have been merely struggling with something I am sure many of you have also experienced from time to time.

Depression.

It's one thing to love the image, another to feel like that image all the time.

The causes and cures are my own, and certainly none of your problem (or business, really), but I will say that it takes me out of my life for a time, every time. 

And I am heartily sorry for this ridiculous span of Skull&Pumpkin-less down time. 

I feel guilty for having followers, almost. I am afraid my own fears and folly will bring you all to breaking down the door of this li'l pub, chanting for my aching head, the lot of you a seething, swimming mass of monster-madness...


Now, don't worry, if you cared enough to worry. I am alright -- my incredible wife and family are always supportive and uplifting, and I am coming back.

Just kind of taking some alone time in a cold, sad Winter.


 I am also finding my Hallowe'en love slowly pulling me back into sanity, back to myself...


And I must come back, I must.

Not just for my own sanity... but because there's something wonderful coming in a little over a month...



... and I've got monsters to build.

Thank you for being patient, and for understanding.

Send me some good ol' fashioned Hallowe'en Loving vibes, would you?

I'll be back.

EDIT:
In honor of my first post in quite some time, and just to shake off the dust of Christmas, I have removed all the Christmas songs from the jukebox and replaced them with a few pieces I felt I needed to hear in my process of returning to life.
First, because I miss my friend Andy Williams, I felt the need for a little Days of Wine & Roses, this version by two other musical legends, Bill Evans and Toots Theilmanns -- if you have to ask who's playing what, you don't listen to jazz nearly enough.
Second, because I miss the sunny, windswept Fall, guitarist Will Ackerman's Shape of the Land lays in quite nicely.
Third, because I miss my childhood, the theme to Dusty's Treehouse. It was only on L.A. TV in the '70s, but was then picked up nationally on Nick in the '80s.
And finally, because I miss Disneyland and my favorite ride of all time, I give you the entire 22 minute audio bed for the Haunted Mansion -- every scream, rattle, clank and cackle. It's what you would hear if your Doombuggy paused at every scene in the ride until all the audio was played.

Enjoy some new tracks.

Again... I'll be back.

DDSProcess

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Punxazombie Phil.

Whether he saw his shadow or not...

I think we're in for some trouble.


DDearlySPring!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

It's all up in the air.

Well, dear ol' friends, I realize things have been decidedly quiet around this old homely humble house of Hallowe'en hoopla, but keeping busy does have its merits. And visiting family is always worth whatever one may miss in the meantime.

Still, I am not feeling very happy about not posting anything at all since last month -- last year, actually.

But I felt right now would be a good time to post a little 'hello', since I am currently flying over the southwestern United States at 30,000 feet.

So here it is, an S&P first, loyal patrons -- a post from WAY up high.

They really know my tastes, this airline...


"This is your captain speaking. You are now free to move about the pub..."


But in all seriousness, let me tell you -- I wish you could all see how beautiful our world is from up here.


Oops, the seatbelt sign is on again. 

Aw, you know what? Screw it, we have to move our legs -- how about a little...?


Honestly, it is a very cool thing to have blogged from 30,000 feet. I hope the minor novelty of of such a post can go some way toward making up for my lack of posts thus far.

I'll be back soon.

DDSPleaseforgivetheabsence!