Thursday, April 28, 2011

Nearly forgot to mention...

... one more Monsterpalooza treasure.

We got to meet and chat a few times with the great Jimmy Hunt!

Doesn't look familiar? Well, it's been a few years since you saw him in
the film for which he's best remembered:

He looked a little younger then:
Oh the terror of that moment at the end... it still works!

Jimmy and my mother and their siblings and cousins all grew up in the same neighborhood, and as soon as my mom noticed Jimmy was going to be at the 'palooza, she made sure I said hello to him from her. 

One of the nicest guys in the world. This world, at least...

And yes, family, he looks like Joe Mazza now!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What's in a word?

I think this is going to be another pictureless post.

We'll see.

I've been a lazy layabout today -- a cold or something coming on, coupled with cold rainy weather, has made me decide that if I have little to do today, I will just take fluids and things and rest a lot to stave off anything too bad. I have four gigs, rehearsals and meetings over the next three days and cannot afford to miss any of it.

So, lounging about this evening, I was looking through the 'settings' of this ol' Skull & Pumpkin pub, and decided the word verification for comments needs to go away.

I still moderate the comments (they will not automatically post), but you will no longer have to type some indecipherable word that's all bent and warped beyond recognition just to leave a short quip or make a point.

Word verification is annoying, and I want to get rid of it.

But the reason all of this came up is because I found a text file about which I'd forgotten for some time, filled to the brim with some of the oddest and most hilariously goofy word verification 'words' I'd been asked to type just to prove I wasn't some spambot or other bad web thing.

So here are real word verification phrases I've been asked to type -- on my honor, these are true, accurate, real, not fake, not made up, honest-to-God words I've been prompted to type over the years.

The main thing is, they can be placed into some fairly obscure but pretty neat categories...

Very common are
Things Jerry Lewis Might Say:

Next most common are
Things That Might Be Obscene But Aren't Really:
RUBTIT (not making it up)

Also common are
Prescription Drugs or Tolkien Characters:

Then there are
Possible TV/Radio Stations:
KWAX (no duck jokes, I beg)

What about
Partial Names of Famous Composers:
KOFSKY (close!)

Or just the odd, loner phrase that makes you giggle...

HOCHEAP -- yes, usually

PYROPAL -- with friends like this...

IDEAD -- especially after hanging with my pyropal

SHPONSHA -- for a word from whom shtationsh take breaksh

DIDIA -- yes I did.

FARTIST -- how many of those do we all know?

Seriously, these are all quite real. And I have a hundred more on file.

Still, I am tired of the whole word verification thing.

So for now, you may comment with abandon, and never fear having to type things like VARFGRBAB or FLIRBT or AFTWAP ever again.

Oh, very well. I hate pictureless posts too. Here's one that is somewhat related:

I await the day when I'm asked to type

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The End of The Son of the Ghoul Goes West.

Well, okay.

It's not really the end.

Such things never end -- they take on a life and spirit all their own in our memories, photo albums, our hearts.

Plus I haven't run out of pictures or video.

I just want to get these posted because they are the most important, and then we can lay this to rest for a bit and move on to more projects and excitement for the rest of 2011.

And trust me, there's plenty on tap.

But that's for later.

For now, a few more moments from one of the highlight events of my year, every year.

First up, I had to post this.
I mean, how often do you get to see a gigantic Kong for sale?

Another set of Kong  joy:
Can you even believe how cool this is? A complete entertainment center and chairs! It was also on sale, and my heart wept at the cruelty of the world that we hadn't the means to get it home even if we'd had the money to buy it. Man!

Oh well, on to more treasures...

Handmade, one-of-a-kind figures from the incredible Cortlandt Hull and his Witch's Dungeon museum. Such a thrill to see these works every year. Look at the Dr. Phibes! And Professor Lampini with the skeleton of Count Dracula in his (real, steam-bent 19th century) toe-pincher coffin!

So beautiful.

And here are some exceptional paintings from L.J. Dopp, the painter of the works in the Vincent Price tribute section of the Museum.

Speaking of the Museum, I have a lot of kinda fuzzy pics because it's always dark in there and my camera and I both have difficulty focusing on anything anyway... but there were a few more things I wanted to show you.

A gremlin. From Gremlins. Too cool.

An incredible Dr. Pretorius (The Bride of Frankenstein,1935) from the incredible artist Daniel Horne. 
The crazy bulbs, tubes, bottles and so on were the perfect touch for this hilariously
sinister grandfather of cinematic mad scientists!

More beautiful pieces in the Museum.

Had to show you this. One of the absolute finest undead figures 
I have ever seen. Ever. Up close and in person, it is stunning. This is the thing
that crawls from the grave in the old pre-code horror comics, and in my childhood
nightmares. I never got the name of the artist, sadly.

Here, in a lights-on/prepping for Museum crowds moment, V is about to be demolished by the Eddie Quist
werewolf from The Howling (1980). I think the only way she would get close enough to this thing is if
all the lights were on.

More fun stuff...
Look at the size of that skull! Must be the one used to make...

... this incredible Frankenstein Monster 'bust' from Mike Hill. Mike brought
a lot of amazing pieces this year...

Henry Hull as Dr. Glendon in Universal's Werewolf of London (1935).
Oliver Reed in Hammer's 1961 Curse of the Werewolf, and
Charles Laughton as Quasimodo in the 1939 RKO
The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Karloff the Uncanny as the Frankenstein monster from
The Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

Casey Wong's wonderful tribute to our dear Uncle Forry, grand Pied Piper of Pandemonium
to all of us Monster Kids. The Wolfman cane 4E is holding was generously provided by
Ron Chaney and the Chaney Family (and one of these days I will have one, damnit!).

Here's a good moment to segue to a few friends -- the real treasures to be found at Monsterpalooza, and all the great Monster Kid celebrations around the world. 

L to R: V, me, Uncle Forry, Casey Wong and our friend, "Elder" Robert Taylor!

Another with Casey, this time goofing off in the Museum with Nevermore!
Casey's a great artist and a nice guy and it was great to spend a bit more time
with him this year.

The talented, funny and fun Cortlandt Hull (L) from the Witch's Dungeon in CT and the
wonderfully abby-normal Joe Moe, having a chat at Cortlandt's booth. Two perfectly
crazy guys, and I feel very lucky to count both among my friends.

And lastly, at least for now, a final bit of video from Nevermore in his Vincent Price masquerade... the last little bits of his routine...

There's always more to show off, but most of it is more personal, and we have other things to get to.

I know better than to think that any of this gives even a shred of an idea of what it feels like to attend Monsterpalooza, but I also know I'd be dying to see your pictures if you'd gone and I hadn't. I just wish I could take everyone with me every year... but this is the only way I know how to come close to doing anything like that.

On to more Hallowe'en goodness next time.

And a little note: I have removed, since Easter is over, the Godspell soundtrack that had been in the Hallowe'enith Radio over the weekend. The ol' console is now back to its Hallowe'eny tricks with two great old time radio programs. First is a 1943 classic from Lights Out, He Dug It Up. Since it's Spring and folks are getting back into their gardens, I thought this tale of a man planting a tree would be appropriate -- especially when he digs up something he should have left alone.

Then we have another great Jack Benny Hallowe'en special, this time from 1937, spending an evening at Andy Divine's place! Kinda noisy, but a lot of fun.

Hope you all enjoy.

Oh, and it's still April, so

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Oh I could write a sonnet.

Happy Easter, good Skull & Pumpkin patrons.

I hope you are all enjoying your families and friends on this Easter Sunday. I hope that even if you aren't, you are enjoying yourself.

Also, I hope that no matter your religious persuasion (or lack thereof), you are at least giving thought to the great renewal of life that is symbolized in the annual Spring festival known as Easter.

Birth, sun, water and earth, eggs, blossoms -- life.

For me, a fallen Catholic, there are special reasons to enjoy this decidedly non-Hallowe'enish holiday.

One, it's pretty much halfway 'round the year from Hallowe'en. You have to love the symmetry of that.

Two, if you consider, as Christians do, that Jesus came back from the dead, then we can at least entertain the notion of Jesus being a kind of reverse zombie -- back from the dead, but then (for Catholics at least) we eat His flesh instead of being eaten ourselves.

By the way, for those cynics who make fun of the story of Christ by calling Him the first zombie, I offer the absolute fact that He was certainly not the first. That would be Lazarus, raised by the hand of Jesus.

I know, I know. Some will scream that the very idea of Zombie Jesus is sinful, blasphemous, sacrilege. Hey, I told you, I'm a fallen Catholic. Plus I'm a Hallowe'en Lovin' Monster Kid running a Hallowe'en pub. Is an explanation even necessary?

Besides, it's not like anyone seriously thinks Jesus was a zombie.

But to make amends for any weird feelings, and to celebrate one of my all time favorite musicals and Easter films, I have filled the Hallowe'enith radio to the brim with the entire original soundtrack recording of the 1973 film version of Godspell.

 Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak's fantastic show and the talents of Victor Garber, David Haskell, Lynne Thigpen and the rest of the cast make for a perfect Easter listen.

The story of Jesus' life and death, and for believers His resurrection, will always be a fascinating, inspiring and thought-provoking part of my life, and there is no denying the great impact that story has made on the world over the last two thousand years.

For the better or the worse is up to you. As I've stated before, Linus' admonition about discussing religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin is taken seriously here at the S&P.

But it's Easter, for... well, for Christ's sake. And it's wonderful music. Please give it a full listen, it will reward you many times.

In the words of Nosferhoptu...
... Happy Easter Sunday, from the Skull & Pumpkin.


Long Live God.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Items, annoyances, and electricity.

Hello loyal S&Pers!

So sorry for the delay, but two nights ago we lost our cable modem, wireless router, two tv's, a dvd/vcr unit and our answering machine to a lightning hit -- good ol' Ozarks Spring weather!

Funny how our stuff was taken out by the very thing that brought 
Frankenstein's Monster to life.

Oh well. We still have to figure out how to replace things, but we finally have our internet connection back, and for that I am happy and grateful -- I do miss this place when I can't get to it.

Another annoying bit of bizniz is that the site which hosts the audio files for the jukebox and the Hallowe'enith radio has been down for the last 14 hours or more, and I have not been able to upload the Easter songs I wanted to share with you.

Come on, Podbean, get with it.

So, as a small treat, I thought I should show off some of the cool little bits and giggles of Horror Goodness I procured at Monsterpalooza.

Nothing expensive (who has money anymore? Besides 2% of the population I mean?). But cool nonetheless.

First up, a few gifts from some great people.

My kind friend, the funny and fun Joe Moe, a renaissance man from Hawaii with music, art and writing in his blood, gave me a copy of the first issue of a new monster magazine he's involved with called Mad Monster!

I love the Frazetta Mad Monster Party art tribute for the cover, updated to a bit more modern monster flair. In fact I have to say that it certainly feels like a new kind of monster magazine -- it absolutely has that sense of info-visual-overload fun for the 21st Century -- and with animated flipbook-style corner images, crazy fonts, cut out haunted houses, horror paper dolls and other goodies, Mad Monster in fact feels very much like holding a cool horror website in your hands. I urge you to go grab it for the paltry price they're asking.

Another great guy and loyal S&Per, the incredible artist Bob Lizarraga gave me this splendid bit of sketchwork as a thank you for setting up that KTLA Morning News segment with Allie MacKay (you recall this post).

Yep, it's Henry Hull as the lycanthropic Dr. Glendon in Werewolf of London (1935).
To have two pieces of Lizarraga brilliance in my house is a real thrill (the other can be seen here).

Next, my friend Aaron Lewis, a fine sculptor, painter and maskmaker, whipped up these great little Shrunken Heads which sold out very quickly:

They are the heads you could make with the Thingmaker Fright Factory kit from the 1960s.
Just superb, especially with the 'fantasy' header tag using the Fright Factory box art.

I also picked up some very cool little horror pinback buttons from Creepycult, for my nieces, nephews and granddaughter Kiara. They all have theirs now, so I don't have pics of them, but I have a shot of the one I picked out for myself:
Of course, it's Duane Jones as Ben, wielding a two-by-four in the original Night of the Living Dead (1968).
The kids all got some kind of classic monster button, and I think it's neat we all
have a sort of matching set divided amongst us.

Speaking of the living dead, I also picked up this set of ghoulish finger puppets:

There was actually a fourth ghoul in the set, but I gave that one to my mother as
a gift for her birthday, which was April 8th. Mom gets a zombie finger puppet
'cause that's how I roll. She loved it, by the way.

And here they are in their natural habitat on my zombie shelf:

Lastly (for now), the very cool David Colton, the guy who heads up those Rondo Horror Awards I keep harping about every Spring, gave me a real button as a thanks for all the virtual buttons I post here at the S&P:


Well, damnit, we continue to deal with flooding rains and lightning all day and night, so I need to duck out now and unplug things before we lose another set of expensive things.

Geez nature, lighten UP!


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday (la-laaa, la-lala-la)...

... can't trust that day (la-laaa, la-lala-la).

Actually, you can trust it. It's a good day.

We finally returned home after 3,961 miles through 7 states over 17 days, with 16 nights in 8 cities (thank you Vonnetta for doing the math -- and the driving!).

After a good long sleep in one's own bed, one can start a day like this with confidence.


Maundy Thursday. So good to me.

It means Easter is coming, and Spring thunderstorms are brewing, and time with home and family are on tap for the weekend.

And this year, Maundy Thursday also means the 131st anniversary of the founding of Antonio Bay. In honor, I have added a special piece of music to the jukebox. 

Happy birthday to Stevie and all the gang in Antonio Bay -- and stay out of the fog!

Memories of Monsterpalooza coming soon -- I have to organize them into coherent posts, otherwise I'll just be blasting them around like the kid-pleasin' candy guts of a newly busted pinata.

For one, though, here's a cool shot of some very cool Topstone masks:

Please click to enlarge so you can get a good look. I know you remember these from the backs of comic books and magazines over generations of Hallowe'ens.


Happy Maundy Thursday.

See you later tonight.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Coming home to roost.

In a few days, at any rate.

We are heading east, after two wonderful weeks of friends, family and monsters (sometimes all in one).

Like our all too brief but very fun visit with loyal S&P-brain Shellhawk, maker of fine, fired Hallowe'en goodies -- works of art -- over at Shellhawk's Nest.

Of course she brought Ape along.

Who's Ape? Go to her blog and find out about Ape and a million other bits of Hallowe'en and horror coolness. And I'm sorry we never found a moment for a bite, a drink, and a few more laughs this time around, my dear. Whenever and wherever the next time is, it's on me. One CA-'80s Kid- Adam & The Ants fan to another.

Another definite high point for fanboy me and fangirl Vee:

James Hong (go to IMDB if you really don't know how many millions of times you've seen and heard this legendary actor since the '50s), the lovely Vonnetta and some geek who looks like Slimer.

Hong put on a 'Hong Show' in the event theatre on Saturday night, and Vee and I were helping out with crowd control and seating. It was impossible to get good pictures from where I was, but the moment he took the stage reprising his most popular role, the demoniacal Lo Pan from 1986's Big Trouble In Little China, we all went insane with applause!

This is the one decent shot I was able to get (the rest are blurry). But the whole event was fun, kinda weird, and very, very perfectly Monsterpalooza.

Oh, there's much more to show. Video of the Raven, if any of you are still remotely interested. Pictures, friends, stories. Soon, soon.

Until then, I hope you are all doing well, and getting ready for that Springtime holiday.

You know, Nosferhoptu's big day...


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An annoying aside.

HELLO dear S&Pers!

I am sorry about the dearth of updates here, but the time to sit and upload and organize and stay online to get it all posted has eluded us, and to be honest, is hardly a priority at the moment.

Lots of family visits, wonderful family visits, come first! It is fantastic to see everyone and we are trying to squeeze in every second we have together.

We are on the road and Internet service is dodgy, but by the end of next week we'll be back home, and I will have all kinds of Monsterpalooza goodness to share, including pictures, video, and even a brief meeting with loyal S&Per, the funny and fine Shellhawk!

I appreciate your patience, and beg for just a bit more.

We'll start having fun again right near Easter... oh Easter, how I look forward to thee!


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Son of the Ghoul Goes West, part 10 am is naptime.

Well, where to start?

Nevermore the Raven is up and running, after some truly horrifying hours (hours!) of wondering why he wasn't working with everything hooked up right and configured properly -- it turned out I had inadvertently brought a serial adapter that was wired differently than the one I'd used while programming -- and after some tense minutes of clipping, stripping, twisting and taping, everything came to life!

With the invaluable assistance of Henner the Henchman, his trusty sidekick Mandy, and The Incredible V, I got everything up and running in the 'Vincent Price' tribute section of the Museum.

Now, this was Thursday afternoon (April 7th). By 7pm Thursday evening, we were attending a very fun high school production of Bye Bye, Birdie that featured the talents of my godson, Young Will (you remember him from this and other posts). 

After that, two starving people had to get a late night bite (of the normal human kind, sadly)... and then we had to get to sleep right away, because at 4:30 am Friday, we had to be up to take part in the very fun KTLA Morning News segments from Monsterpalooza, featuring the hilarious Allie MacKay.

Here she's interviewing the great artist Bob Lizarraga.

The videos of three of the segments can be seen on KTLA's site. I urge you to watch and listen for her quick razor wit. Her interviews and funny quips were seen by a lot of folks, because by the time the convention opened Friday evening, they were jam packed!

In the Museum, attendees were as awed and enthusiastic as last year, and the Raven was strutting his stuff. Well, Vincent's stuff, but the point is he's working and people are enjoying him.

Um, this is sideways. And I am waaaaaaay too tired to try to fix it now. Lean over.

I have plenty of pictures and video to post when I'm not as wiped out, and will be getting even more pics and vid  tomorrow... oh, tomorrow. Another long day, but full of reunions with friends and more monstery goodness.

From Monsterpalooza, Nevermore and me, have a good night.

Don't stay up too late, and lock up when you're done.