Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Last Day.


It's at the door.

2012 is upon us.

We think of the wonderful things this past year has given us. We think of the not so wonderful things, too.

We think of those we've lost whom we didn't expect to lose. We think of those we've found whom we didn't expect to find.

We recognize our ability to let the past year simply drop like a pebble into the river of our lives, temporarily rippling the water but ultimately adding to the colorful, clamouring riverbed of who we are, and who we hope we will be.

And we come to realize that we get every day and night we love all over again. Birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, holidays. Laughing, crying, gifting, eating, drinking, loving. A new Christmas, a new July 4th, a new Hallowe'en.

And it all begins tomorrow.

So... it is right that we celebrate tonight.

A happy, healthy, hauntingly good 2012 to each of you.

Here's to more of everything good and less of everything not so good.

And now, of course, join me...


Monday, December 26, 2011



Welcome, welcome.

I hope you are all enjoying your respective Christmas gatherings and goings-on, and I am happy to see you visiting this humble place during the holidays. It's why we're here, you know -- a gathering place to share and enjoy the company of like-minded, good-hearted Autumn Folk at all times of the year.

My family has been sharing a wonderful few days of holiday cheer, and I can tell you we now are all a little looney from a long weekend full of sugary treats and drinks and indulgent dishes and salty snacks and naps and late nights full of laughter and remembrance of Christmases gone by.

Just as it ought to be.

I want to share just a few more bits of Christmas, S&P-style.

Here is our very orange Hallowe'en treetopper, a gift to the lovely V and me from my dear mother.

It actually resides year-round on our mantle, but I am always so happy to see it on our little black tree where it truly belongs for a few weeks a year. Thanks again, Mama.

Now, any Autumn Person worth the epithet expects their holiday gifts to be a little horrific or Hallowe'enly, right? I know you all get it.


 A first class skull. Who doesn't wish for at least one skull for Christmas?

 And so, I got two!

 And three!

 Not Hallowe'enly, but definitely horrific. 
My oldest crush and favorite hero on Blu-ray -- along with my very first Blu-ray DVD player!

Not even remotely scary or Hallowe'enly, but another gift of Sigourney Weaver 
is always worth bragging over.
Besides, it's a great film you should all see.

I hope you all gave and got at least one great, fine, heartfelt gift, whatever it may be.

You are each a fine gift to me.

Merriest of Christmases to you all. 


Saturday, December 24, 2011


A Very Merry Christmas
All of You.

With much love,
(...the Skull & Pumpkin!)


Friday, December 23, 2011

Making Christmas.

Hello again, loyal S&P-brains!

I hope you've all been enjoying your own Week Leading Up To That Other Holiday... we sure have.

Here at the Skull & Pumpkin, we do things a little differently for Christmas. Oh, we have a tree and lights and presents and all -- we're not completely crazy -- but there's always a bit of a Hallowe'en touch, of course.

For example, as you approach this old homely house, you can't help but notice our unique holiday spirit...

 I made this Burton-esque wreath years ago, and hang it up every year.

 This be-capped beauty was originally part of a set piece from the
Haunted Mansion movie that came out some years back. 
(Minus the Santa cap, of course.)

 Our driveway skeleton gets into the cap action too. Just to offset
the rotting pumpkins, you understand.

Our gargoyle guards received a bit of garland flair from the lovely V.

Of course, our decorating is not limited to the outdoors, but it's essentially identical to the decor found all year 'round -- we just add a tree and some lights and garland.

But I do want to show off these way excellent construction paper ornaments that were handmade by my nephew, known to you S&Pers as Mr. Jack, when he was just a little guy...

 That's right -- Drac, Frank and Wolfy in their Christmas best!

 Are those some awesome monster Santas or what?

This year they reside in my paper Hallowe'en lantern just above our little tree.

Of course, we still have the amazing monsters handmade by my nieces and nephew in L.A. ...

OH yeah... baked Frankensteiny goodness!

A few shots of our Haunted Mansion corner...

Skull hand-markered and hung by the great Kiara.

So, that's a taste of the Autumn People-influenced Christmas decor at the Skull & Pumpkin.

I can only imagine that you each have your own spooky spin on That Other Holiday... care to send some pics so we can all admire them over a few drinks by the fireplace here at the ol' S&P?

Send them to your humble pubkeep:  --*skellington*35*@**-- (remove the *'s) -- and let's have some fun comparing and sharing our creepy yuletide customs!

Here's to everyone having a wonderful, wonder-filled Other Holiday!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Idle hands.

... are supposed to be the Devil's playthings.

And although I am well beyond salvation at this point in my journey, I don't want to pass the curse along to my creations, so I am doing my best to get their hands moving.

Mini-servos, piano wire, fishing line, cable ties and lots and lots of hot glue, the haunter's best friend -- a recipe for turning idle hands into moving, spidering, fantastic hands for one of my next big figures for Monsterpalooza 2012.

I'll be posting plenty more about my MP'12 projects after the New Year. They promise to be challenging and possibly too ambitious... but when has that ever stopped me?

Ironically, all this work will keep my own hands moving a lot; I guess Ol' Scratch will have to look elsewhere this Spring.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Yule tubes.

Hey there, S&P-brains!

After a week of shows, errands and even a little dental surgery, your humble pubkeep is ready for a restful Christmas season.

I know. But even if we Autumn Folk consider it That Other Holiday, we also know very well it's a fine time to let our families and friends in on our darker tastes, a chance to beg for gifts that are decidedly different -- darker than the usual under-tree fare.

And since we all know giving is far, far better than getting (it is, and you damn well know it), this is a fine time of year to pass some of our Autumnness around to our loved ones. Get Gramps a vintage leatherbound Lovecraft collection. Get Mama a pretty sweater... with skulls on it. Get your baby sister or brother a set of DVDs of the shows or films that scared you silly when you were their age.

In short, it's a fine time to help bring more people to Autumn.

And it's a fine time to gather with loved ones around a fire, with good food and drink, and fine distractions full of tales of the supernatural.

The parlour with the ol' Hallowe'enith radio here at the S&P is the perfect spot for relaxing for That Other Holiday, and even as I have been dusting and decorating for the Yuletide, the spooky old console has been buzzing, spluttering and humming.

Let's see what's happened, eh?

Ah! First up, a spooky little bit of seasonal suspense from... Suspense! From December 1943, this legendary radio series brings us Peter Lorre as a strange sort of gardener in Back For Christmas.

Then, another odd little program.

In December of 1941, the WKY (Oklahoma City) radio series Dark Fantasy brought us the tale of three people lost in the wintery woods, trying to comprehend The Demon Tree.

And finally...

Of course!

The ultimate spooky Christmas tale, this time as a CBS Radio tradition begun on Christmas Eve 1975 -- series host E.G. Marshall as Ebenezer Scrooge in  The CBS Radio Mystery Theater's own A Christmas Carol.

Plenty of shivery Christmastime listening, for now. Just find the Hallowe'enith radio list on the left of this page and select your program!

Please enjoy your families, your friends, and each other.

And please keep visiting this ol' place. Even if your busy pubkeep can't bring new things as often as he'd like (and is now referring to himself in third person for some reason), there is still  lot to see.

A safe and warm holiday season to us all -- a toast!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Old gourds & cold bones...

Some pumpkins and another snowy skeleton haunting the grounds at the S&P.



Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Well, not until the 21st.

But don't tell that to the Ozarks.

Quite beautiful, really.

I especially love how the first blanket of snow looks at the S&P...

Kong looks a little chilly but he's holding up well.

Actually, he's holding up this little guy:

Oooohh -- snow skeleton!

So no snow griping from me -- roads are clear, power's on, and things are fine.

All pictures, by the by, are courtesy of the lovely V.


Friday, December 2, 2011


Yes, the end of '11.


Oh, we still have a month but come now -- it's so chock full of That Other Holiday that before we know it, 2012 will be on our doorstep asking to come in 'cause it's cold outside.

And yes, it is going to be cold outside for a while.

Because it's December.

The twelfth month.

Shorter days and longer nights of reflection, of reassessment, and eventually a little rest, heralding winter... and harboring Christmas.

A new month is new music at the S&P.

Because, ready or not, Christmastime is here...

Loo-loo-looooo, loo-looooooo...

Yes, we keep finding the S&P's jukebox full of jazzy waltzes from the late Vince Guaraldi, but what could fit better after Guaraldi's own The Great Pumpkin Waltz?  Why, Christmastime Is Here, and everyone's favorite 1965 animated TV special reminds us to stay true to ourselves, and the true meaning of Christmas.
Now with holiday TV on my mind, I felt a little tribute to another classic TV special was in order. Of course, being the proud pubkeep that I be, I wanted to do a little more than just play a part of the CD soundtrack...

On the player for the third year in a row is my own rendition of The Most Wonderful Day of the Year, better known as The Island of Misfit Toys Song from Rankin-Bass's 1964 holiday mega-icon, Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Still wish I knew why the doll was there...

I recorded Misfit Toys waaaaaaay back in 1999, changing the feel to a bossa and playing all instruments (guitars, piano, bass, electric piano and harmonica) myself, with the exception of all percussion, which was performed by my buddy Matt. I enjoy this recording an awful lot and never miss a chance to show it off at this time of year.

Can't get enough of your (apparently not so) humble pubkeep?

Well listen on.

For the same 'album', I whipped up a five part a capella rendition of Winter Wonderland, and sang each part myself.

It was initially meant to just be a scratch track until I realized it didn't totally stink. I like its sloppy, silly happiness more each year, and so it gets added to the jukebox for another year. 

With my ego soothed, I think we need a tune from better known artists...

James Taylor's gorgeous version of Joni Mitchell's River (originally released on her now-legendary album Blue in 1971) is sweet, sad, beautiful and mesmerizing, like Winter itself.

But of course, ours is a Hallowe'en pub, after all, and it simply won't do to dwell on pure Christmas too long.

NO, no, I didn't just throw a version of the Monster Mash on the player...

Okay, yes I did. But it's the 1974 Peter Pan Records version called the Monster Christmas Mash.
Come on, it's awesome and ridiculously addicting and a perfect tune for the ol' S&P.

Another monstery bit of musical madness, you ask? Say no more...

In 1964, horror film icon Lon Chaney Jr. recorded a gem of a tune, the Monster Holiday!

You can hear his infectious joy and great sense of humor in every creaky note!

Yes, the Skull & Pumpkin is a fine, fine place for monsters to take their holiday, and we are proud to host any and all who knock on our door -- including each of you!

Oh, December...

... light our nights, make our spirits glow with your red-green and blue-white magic.

More audio fun later. For the moment, sit, warm up, and bless our pub with your Autumn goodness, each and every one of you.

I'll be back soon, but much work calls for the rest of this week and next.

Then, I can rest.

And hey... is that ol' Hallowe'enith radio crackling over there?



Thursday, November 24, 2011


Today I am thankful for everything in my life.

We all should be.

But I have an extra little glimmer of gratitude that this year, Thanksgiving falls on the (would've been) 95th birthday of our dear Uncle Forry, Dr. Acula himself, Forrest J Ackerman!

Boy am I thankful for everything this crazy guy gave us.

Folks, enjoy your families and friends this Thanksgiving Day. 

Remember to tell them you love them.

And be glad we live in a mixed up place where our love for the creepy is allowed to flourish, thanks to pioneers like ol' Uncle Forry!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011


No, I haven't been overenjoying the spirits here at the S&P.

The word is not tipsy, but Tippity.

I'll explain.

I have been so busy that until this very moment I haven't had time to post about the finest thing to happen to our home this past Hallowe'en -- a gift from my Mama.

Early in the afternoon on October 31, while we were setting up Boo Corner and the animatronic figures, a UPS truck pulled up to the house, and the driver got out and brought me a big box. I take pride in remembering that as I accepted the box and signed that little electronic doohickey, the UPS guy was just gazing around at all our spooooky stuff, smiling like a kid. I invited him to come back with his kids after sundown. I don't know if he ever did (we had a lot of people!).

Anyway, I saw that it was sent from my mother, so I took the box inside the house, carefully opened it, and found this...
A little booklet, orange n' black ribbon-bound by my Mama.

Opening it, I discovered...
Aaahhh! How perfect!

Mom had put together a grand copy of Tippity Witchit's Hallowe'en, as it appeared in the famous and much-beloved series My Book House, first published in 1920. Mom read this to us when we were little, and not so little, and now she had given me a copy to read to my granddaughters.

Written by the book series' creator and editor, Olive Beaupre' Miller, the story also boasts some of the finest vintage Hallowe'en imagery from illustrator Matilda Breuer...

 This looks just like our Halli!


Just amazing.

But much, much, much, much much more amazing was the other item in the box.

See, my mother, besides being a famous singer, is an artist. She is a craftswoman, a seamstress, a painter, a writer and thinker and philosopher, and a fantastic mother of many, many kids.

The woman creates, is what I'm trying to say.

And she loves painting and firing ceramics and porcelain.

And she loves Hallowe'en. 

And she apparently loves me, because she also took the above image and turned it into this...


Those ribbons are perfect, too!

And the mist sprites, bats, and jack o'lanterns, wow!

Just wow.

I absolutely love this piece, and I love that it came to be with us on Hallowe'en proper, and I had it carefully displayed in the livingroom all Hallowe'en long, bragging on it to anyone who looked upon it.

(By the way -- that ghost-pumpkin blanket you've seen in the background of so many pictures of cool things here at the S&P since we began? Yeah, she made that too).

This one-of-a-kind piece of Hallowe'en love is now hanging in a place of honor at the Skull & Pumpkin, where it will be displayed proudly and forever.

And like so many lucky Autumn People who were nurtured into being Autumn People by their Autumn Parents, I love my Mama very much.

Proudly and forever.