Sunday, June 26, 2011

A bow to a master.

Hello, S&Pers.

I hope you're all enjoying your weekend and your Summer so far.

Things are keeping your humble pubkeep quite busy, but I had to make time today for a celebration of one of the most pioneering, legendary makeup and effects masters in the history of television and cinema.

Folks, raise your glasses -- a birthday toast to the one and only

Dick Smith!
Dick is celebrating his 88th birthday today!

Wait, you're not asking 'Dick who?', are you?

This is the man who brought the world such incredible characters, such memorable faces, as:

Dustin Hoffman's Little Big Man (1970)

Max Von Sydow as Father Merrin, and

Linda Blair as Regan, and

Eileen Dietz as Pazuzu/Captain Howdy in The Exorcist (1973)

The incredible Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone, and

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972)

Robert DeNiro's insane Travis Bickle, the Taxi Driver (1976)

Scads of gory ghosts in Ghost Story (1981)

Oscar-winning makeup sessions for Oscar-winning actor F. Murray Abraham, as

aging composer Antonio Salieri in the brilliant Amadeus (1984)

Oh, we could go on for days.

He did so much to advance the art of film, television and stage makeup and effects in his long career, not only earning Oscars, Emmys, Saturns and other awards but influencing an entire industry with innovative techniques, new ideas and time-tested methods.

He also advanced the awareness of and enthusiasm for special effects and makeup for kids and young adults in a series of handbooks and makeup products in the '60s and '70s.

I believe I've already told you the story of my history with this revolutionary
magazine. This little '60s tome may have single-handedly created all the
major makeup artists working in the industry since the '70s. No joke.

In the '70s, Smith's line of do-it-yourself makeup kits inspired and excited
every monster and horror geek in Monster Horror Geekdom, and provided 
effects and results that had previously been unobtainable to Hallowe'en Kids.
A treasure trove.

The genius of Dick Smith. But for you, so much that makes our Hallowe'en special would be gone. You created monsters and mad men, helped us create them too, and then taught and inspired the makeup masters who gave us so many more monsters and mad men, and aliens, and demons, and...

Again, raise a glass, everyone --
Happy birthday, Mr. Smith!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Our Second Hallowe'eniversary!

Oh it's time for some joy!

A happy birthday to my little sister Betsy, of course.

And a happy Summer Solstice to you all.

But mostly...
It's high time for a celebration!

Well, loyal S&Pers, it's hard for me to get my brain around the fact, but something
remarkable has happened.

As of today, this little Skull & Pumpkin pub is 

Free drinks all around!

Yes, two years ago I thought I'd try my hand at this blogging thing, and carve out a little place for my own silliness in the online Hallowe'en and haunting community, and I simply cannot believe I not only did it and kept it up, but that we're now celebrating two years of S&P goodness!

I have been so gratified and humbled to have made so many new friends because of our li'l pub, and you've stuck around even though you know very well how much permanent damage all the Hallowe'en madness can inflict...

Even as monstrous as some of you may be, you are all the real jewels of this place, and I thank each of you from the bottom of my Hallowe'en Lovin' heart.

As a small token of appreciation, I have given the ol' place a minor clean-up, removing some old imagery and replacing it with... well, with more old imagery, but a little more personal and special to me. Look around, click what's new. See where it takes you.

I have also added a few little gems of spooky, old school Hallowe'en joy to the ol' radio we have been enjoying for so long now.

First, a mid-70s LP version of what has to be a favorite of any Hallowe'en fan: Ginny Tyler as Witch Hazel in Disney's cartoon classic Trick Or Treat!

Then, a creepy little tale about the passing of years and the growth of twisted roots and branches -- a 1941 offering from the popular series Dark Fantasy aptly titled The Demon Tree...

So wow.

Two years since I found the pluck to scribble my very first post.

Two years of twisted growing, delighted exploring, nostalgic recalling, excited traveling, stupid joking, philosophically waxing and most importantly, friend making.

I never follow through on things so it's damn near a miracle.

And while things have been busier and a little less focused this year, I still plan on continuing to bring all of you loyal S&Pbrains the fun, freaky and festive offerings you have come to expect from this humble house.

There's still so much to celebrate.

A toast, to two years, to another trip around the Sun celebrating the dark beauty of the Moon.

Come on... say it, shout it with me...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Hey, everyone, sorry for being absent lately.

So much life has been happening and I have a lot of things to do, and I've really missed the old place, and all of you.

I hope to get back to a little more regular posting soon but I did wish to pass along this incredible image, so perfect for all of us here...

I cannot find an artist's name nor the background of this piece, so if anyone can help me find that information I'd be eternally grateful -- not only to credit the source but to be able to contact the artist and pick his or her mind about this remarkable work!

UPDATE 6/17: Loyal S&Per 'Anonymous' (there are many of them!) informs me that this is the work of one Radojavor on DeviantART. The piece is called Pumpkins (of course!) and can be seen at Radojavor's DeviantART page along with his other incredible work. This one was done in Photoshop on a Wacomm tablet. Radojavor, you absolutely KILL it when it comes to Autumn scenery. Every one of our patrons needs to go see his stuff now!

But the instant I saw it I knew I had to procure a print to adorn the walls of the S&P.

Just look at it fertheluva All Hallow's! A magnificent piece.

It's us, isn't it? A symbolical adoration of the fiery spirit at the core of our Hallowe'en Lovin' lifestyle, right?

We kneel, bow, praise and delight in the Great Pumpkin, the Giant Scarecrow, the grinning, glowing, gigantic jack o'lantern at the very heart of our collective worship of Hallowe'en... because all of it is what we create and celebrate and carry on for ourselves, our families and friends, our children and grandchildren.

Here's to Radojavor's work of obvious love and talent, and to the true fire of we Autumn People, and to doing all we can to keep it alive for generations to come.

Here's to our Hallowe'en spirit.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts...

... they will definitely follow you home -- and anywhere else you go!

Okay, a little closer...


Yes, S&Pers, your humble pubkeep has some grim-grinnin' to go with his rollin' and ridin'.
Today I got my ol' Jeep repaired, inspected, tagged and cleaned (well, I did all the cleaning!) after some months of delays.

Now, I really and truly despise the run-around of making a car legal so this time I made sure to tag it for two years -- and when I put the new tag on the plate:

... this image popped into my head:

... which is of course a prime detail of this iconic piece:

... and I then suddenly remembered that some years ago I had purchased some very ghoul auto decals for just such an occasion.
Aren't these nice?

There are a few more, but you get the idea.

So I took the smallest set (for now -- the Jeep needs a real paint job!) of Hitchhiking Ghosts and voila'!

We can thank the MO Dept of Revenue and that Green 13 (and Mssrs Davis & Coates et al) for the inspiration.

And I thank the person who made/sold these, who apparently wishes to keep a low profile. No problem.

And a big S&P welcome to all the cool members of MiceChat dot com (it's the happiest place in cyberspace, you know) for stopping by to view my Hitchhiking Jeep. Like the stickers, I hope you can stick around for more silliness!


Monday, June 6, 2011

Old tube invasion.

Greetings, S&P-brains!

I hope you're all comfy and ready for a fun summer!

Here at the S&P we're gearing up for a few eventful months of hot, humid days and nights in the October Country, but it's worth it -- for all my aching and yearning for Fall, there is much to be said for Summer.

As I mentioned in my last update, I knew I'd heard some humming and crackling coming from the ol' Hallowe'enith radio console over in the corner, and sure enough, there are a few new old recordings to enjoy... shall we say, ghosts of radio days long gone...?

First, this spooky old radio console must have a direct link in the ether to important dates and historic events -- an appropriately historic broadcast from some 67 years ago this very day.

I am sure I needn't educate anyone over the age of 12 about the significance of June 6, 1944.

 Wanna be really impressed? Click and enlarge -- and start counting ships, trucks, tanks...

From an NBC broadcast early that morning, Robert St. John informs us of the momentous Invasion of Normandy by Allied forces... and then President Franklin D. Roosevelt leads the nation in a prayer heard on every station, on every radio, shortly after the invasion had been reported.

We will never forget the bravery, sacrifice and terrifying glory of that day. Thank you to all who took part -- the 7,000 planes and 12,000 seagoing vessels bringing nearly 160,000 troops to Normandy. The world forever thanks you.

Still we are a Hallowe'en pub after all, and for some crazy reason the Hallowe'enith radio selected another kind of invasion program to fill our ears, minds, hearts and darkened souls.

Oh, not the old radio invasion program you're thinking it is. That would have been too easy for the ol' console, I think.

No, this is a rather surprisingly disturbing little tale about a very unique kind of Summer invasion, penned by Ray Bradbury in the late '40s and adapted to radio for the wildly popular Escape series in 1953. Hosted by the famous voice of William Conrad, Zero Hour chronicles a healthy, happy middle American town full of Summertime children gathering materials for a very odd new game they call 'invasion', and how one mother begins to think it a little too odd, especially when she hears it's happening on other streets... in other towns...

It's a decidedly different sort of invasion tale I believe you will all thoroughly enjoy, even as the final seconds linger in your mind for a good long while.

So... from D-Day to Zero Hour.

Sounds pretty violent and bleak.

One most certainly was. The other certainly makes you think.

And that can't be a bad thing.



Thursday, June 2, 2011

June Gloom.

Welcome back to the S&P after the holiday weekend.

I sure hope you all had a fine few days and took time to remember those who have left us after giving so much. It's good to do that as often as we can.

It's also good to note the passing of time, to pause and recognize as seasons change that we too will follow those we've loved to the Great Unknown (P.S. It's one of the reasons there is such a thing as Hallowe'en!).

But hopefully, we won't follow right away. Not for now.

For now, we begin the yearly move toward hot days, sultry nights, parties, sleepovers, campouts and cookouts and all the other -outs that come with having the right weather to be out.

Oh it's not official yet, but the unofficial start is always after Memorial Day.

For all intents and purposes, it is SUMMER.

As ever, the Skull & Pumpkin welcomes a new month with a few new tunes in the jukebox, and you'll notice right away that even if we're still weeks from the Solstice, the S&P feels pretty confident that we can start celebrating Summer now.

First new tune is the wistful A Summer Song, a 1964 Billboard hit for the charming Brit duo Chad & Jeremy. I've always loved the strings in this song, the flute-like tone of their combined voices, and the simplicity of the piece. A '60s classic, and perfect for June.

Next up, a great, breezy June sort of number from an album that has been featured here before -- from the 1955 motion picture soundtrack of Pete Kelly's Blues comes Breezin' Along With The Breeze. Warm swing from a great band, featuring an intro by Jack Webb (who essayed the titular Kelly). The 'Matty' to whom he refers is the great swing clarinetist Matty Matlock, a member of the Pete Kelly Big 7 band, headed by my late father, Dick Cathcart on trumpet.

That's not my dad, it's Jack Webb miming to my dad's recordings. To the right,
Lee Marvin exacts the same favor from Matty Matlock.

And as long as we're talking about breezes, heat, and Summer lazing, why not perk things up with a bit of acoustic swing from a great little duo from the Ozarks? 

From their 1993 album Tea & Honey comes Don (Matt) & Scott (Thompson) working up Matt's fun composition Sittin' In The Shade. A neat little tune, evoking simple Summer pleasures and reminding us of the life to be enjoyed beyond your A/C and your television when the sun is high and hot. That ol' porch was built for a reason, as our elders well knew.

Then, I felt a change of pace might be needed. Or even if it isn't needed, I just love this song.

Memories of the sea, of past friendships and lost longings and the utter clarity of cleansing one's soul come to mind in the beautiful and haunting Life & Soul, one of the finer cuts from The Sundays' 1992 album Blind. Harriet Wheeler's unique vocal talents, lent a heart-warming charm by her Londoner accent. A real put-on-the-headphones-and-close-your-eyes tune.
Here... dive below... 

Of course, I don't wish to end on such a mellow note.

I love the deep, dark stuff (we are a Hallowe'en pub!) but we have to have some fun, and it has to be about monsters, and it has to be about the summery sea we've been contemplating... OH!

The Monster Surfer is a goofy, catchy and addicting little piece of mid-20th-Century American Monsterkid love, recorded in 1964 by Frank N. Stein & The Abominable Surfmen (how's that for a name!?).

I have no picture for this one (other than the above album cover), because listening to it again, I am a little dumbfounded regarding this Monster Surfer's appearance. I mean, he speaks like Lugosi's Dracula, but talks about his fur and electrodes, so there's some werewolf and Frankenstein Monster mixed in? Plus he has acne? Man, they were really trying to cover the bases and get in good with the teen crowd. Funny stuff, worth more than one listen, especially as the Monster and the gang begin laughing near the end of the tune.

Summer, you are welcome, even if you haven't completely arrived just yet. 

Summer is warm, cleansing, working, thinking time. 

And for most of us Autumn People, it means it's time to really start making Hallowe'en.

Happy June, gloomy or otherwise! Enjoy the music, everyone.

Hey! - is that the Hallowe'enith radio beginning to buzz and crackle over there?...