Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A quick request...

UPDATE: As of last night, the funds came through, the Bob & Kathy Burns documentary is going to be produced! I appreciate everyone who visited the site and donated. 

I look forward to this film so much... I hope you do too!

Thanks again!

Hello, loyal patrons.

Don't get up, please stay in your chairs, on your stools, wherever you are currently lounging here at the ol' S&P.

I just want to ask you all to think about visiting a Kickstarter page for this amazing new project/film:

The one and only Bob Burns has been a hero to all of us Monster and Hallowe'en Kids for decades. His work in early genre films as an actor, effects man and make-up artist (and most notably as Kogar the Gorilla in numerous films, shows and ads) deserves high praise, and his collection of movie memorabilia amassed over a lifetime is second to none.

This movie MUST get made.

Here's a few snippets of bio straight from Bob Burns' website:

BOB BURNS has a long and varied career in the horror and science fiction field. He began as an apprentice to legendary makeup man Paul Blaisdell in the mid 1950s. Burns helped build the monsters in Invasion Of The Saucermen, The She Creature and It Conquered the World...

... Considered the godfather of Halloween by his many fans, Burns spent over 20 years creating Halloween extravaganzas in his hometown of Burbank, California. The elaborate shows became the proving ground for some of today's biggest names in special effects including Academy Award winners Rick Baker and Dennis Muren.

I could go on, but the point is, Bob Burns, his wife Kathy and their incredible story is being turned into a documentary helmed by the also-incredible artist Frank Deitz, and only our help can bring it to life, and they only have eight more days to get the remaining 30 or so percent raised. Otherwise no one gets anything, and the world will be short one wondrous documentary it desperately needs.

This is a very worthy project. We need this film!

I hope you'll consider it.

As you were. Back to the mellow madness of the S&P...


Monday, August 22, 2011


Most of you Autumn Folk who frequent this humble establishment know very well that we love our Hallowe'en library.

Our shelves strain under the weight of fine fantasy, horror, and dark beauty dressed as poetry, prose, philosophy, and other pages that enchant and inform.

Among the stacks and shelves reside the collected works of one of the world's most celebrated writers, who also happens to be (arguably) the greatest champion of Hallowe'en and lover of all things spooky in American literature.

And today he celebrates his 91st birthday.

Is it really possible he's ninety-one? The Perpetual Kid is this old?

Then again, is it possible he was ever this young?

Dear God. Ray Bradbury.

Friend of one Forrest J Ackerman, from whom Ray received early help in publishing, and with whom he shared a long and wonder-filled friendship.

Ray (L) and Uncle Forry in costume.

So many words written.

So many dreams he has dreamed.

So many dreams his dreams have caused me.

So many enriching, inspiring, impacting images he has granted the world...

His own painting of The Hallowe'en Tree, 1960
It is quite simply impossible for me to overstate his influence in my creative life as a writer, musician, painter, sculptor and most blessedly as a Hallowe'en artist, an Autumn Person.

My love of his work is pure and boundless, and my gratitude for his existence is exceeded only by my inability to properly express it.

Raise 'em high, fellow Autumn People...

A toast -- I don't know how tired you are after such a remarkable life, but here's to hoping you see at least a few more Hallowe'ens, Ray.

You've given so many of us so much Hallowe'en magic.

Happy birthday.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Four Hundred.



This is the Skull & Pumpkin's 400TH POST.

Twice two hundred.

CD (could be CCCC as well, but that looks too Soviet-ish, and this is a politics-free zone).

In honor of this almost relevant, not quite important, nearly meaningful milestone, and in honor of Black Cat Appreciation Day, I offer our own dear Hallowe'en, or 'Hallie'...

She is very nice. Because she's a black cat and all black cats are nice.

And she's cute. Because all black cats are awfully cute.

Aw, li'l Hallie.

Still... at a Hallowe'en pub, every day is black cat appreciation day, so I don't want to linger too long on this one. Suffice to say I will always be happy she came to stay with us.


A few posts back, I made mention of our fears and the events or images that trigger them, and asked you for some of yours -- this is a public house concerning itself with all things spooky -- and I've received a number of replies.

Some can be read in the comments of said post, but I thought I'd highlight them, and a few others who wrote via email rather than commenting.

First up, our own dear Chris, Her Majesty The Frog Queen, admits to her own fear of Lady Elaine Fairchild, the creepiest resident of the Land of Make Believe (creepier than Prince Tuesday or Bob Dog, by multiples). But then, of course, comes dear Chris's pet neurosis:

"I remember the time I leaned against a post in the barn of an old house we lived in and several baby black widow spiders came crawling down my head and all over me. Definitely the reason that I am afraid of spiders today."
The Frog Queen also admits, 

"Going to catholic school and seeing The Exorcist as a kid was the earliest and so far the last time I was really frightened by something that is made up."

Me too, your Highness. Me too...

Jules opened up and let us all in on some of her most memorable, lingering, illogical fears; fears with which I can readily sympathize:

"Things that were in my dreams AND in real life: Carol Channing (or does that fall into the "clowns and spiders" category?)." 
It does, but in the right way. She proceeds to mention, among other things,
"... the "bingbong" of "It's 10 o'clock, do you know where your child is?" I obviously was at home, watching that, but I shivered every time -- up too late, and what if I WAS out in the scary post-curfew timezone?"
 Oh yes.
I get it. And I remember it very well.
Best of all, she finishes,
"... but my scariest, periodically in my nightmares thing was/is a dead body made to look as if it's moving. Like propped up, dancing, like a puppet. Sometimes with the eyes opened. Not a zombie, but a delusional maniac animating a dead person (usually someone they killed) to make them "alive" again...something between Norman Bates' Mother idea, and Debbie Reynolds in What's the Matter With Helen?(SHUDDER!)"
Oh my. Total shudder, indeed. I'd nearly forgotten about this movie. Yikes!

Baron No One informs us via email that he "used to run behind his mother's rocker and hide every time the theme for The Outer Limits came on the TV! I didn't mind most of the aliens and scary stuff, it was the damn song that did it..."

 "... I still get a chill every time I hear it -- on the DVD set I watch almost every day!"

Yep! Who ever said Autumn People don't love to scare themselves silly? Keep it up Baron (and whaddayaknow, a Queen and a Baron -- the ol' S&P's attracting royalty and nobility!).

I think the most chilling admission (so far, keep 'em coming!) of an untraceable, unexplainable childhood fear that can still manage to disturb has to come from loyal S&Pbrain Kent Mason, who simply writes:

"... I used to see people coming in and out my bedroom door as I slept. They did nothing to me, just moved through as if heading elsewhere, not making a sound. All in black, like dead shadows, featureless, and the only noise they really made was a kind of squeaking whisper. By morning they were gone, but I have that dream every so often even now at 26."

Kent, I have to say I didn't even go scouring for an image to go with that. Total nightmare!

Well, there you have some of them, good S&Pers. I really enjoy reading and sharing them at the bar, passing around the stories and letting our common passions and understanding laughter calm our nerves, exorcise (sorry Chris!) a few fears, and remind us how far we've come since our childhood nights...

... but those creepy dark figures moving through the door... I'm going to lock up early tonight!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A hard working human.

He was indeed a hard working human.

Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó
 20 October 1882 – 16 August 1956

I know everyone else in the world remembers August 16th as the day Elvis died, but Lugosi has always meant so much more to me than any amount of hair grease, swinging hips and deep fried peanut butter-banana-valium sandwiches.

Not that Lugosi didn't have his own demons, but The King of the Vampires is, even today, no less a worldwide cultural icon, no less recognizably himself, than that other King, even if his funeral wasn't quite as large...

You can barely see, just to the upper right, that one of Bela's pallbearers was the one and only Ed Wood, another hard working human (and original writer of the phrase "hard working human").

I love segues...

Lately I have been a hard working human, it's true.

And unfortunately, none of that work has been here at the ol' S&P.

Oh, I'm not complaining. I'll take every cent I can get these days. But it leaves precious little time for relaxing with all of you fine Hallowe'en lovin' friends.

And Hallowe'en is indeed sneaking up on all of us, tapping at our nighttime windows, insinuating itself into our dreams...

It has been a little disturbing to me that I usually have my theme well in hand and half built by this time each year but for some reason, this year has been racing by so quickly, it nearly passed me by.

Not to worry, though.

You see, I did recently hit on what I think is a very fun and silly and wonderful Hallowe'en display theme, and it has everything to do with Bela... and Eddie.

Yes, for the dozen or so folks who will actually get every joke and reference, this year's display will be a loving tribute to that maven of movie mediocrity, the inept, inane, incomparable Edward D. Wood Jr.!

C'mon. More Bela and Ed is a good thing.

And can't you just see it? All the usual spookiness of my haunt endowed with Wood's mighty creations, speaking his jumbled wisdom, garbed in pink angora, reveling in the awful wonderfulness?

I mean, the Raven must be able to do a pretty fair Criswell...

And can't you just see Capt. Lantern loving this get up?

And how could Ficketts not get a kick out of being the screen's least amusing comic relief, Kelton the cop (to the right)?

And there are some other characters to play with...

And not a few amazing prop ideas...

I mean, it's not like it has to look good. And I already have the rotten cemetery anyway!

As I say, only about a dozen people will truly get every reference, every gag.

But they'll be the right people, so I don't find myself terribly concerned. I find myself happy.

Besides, I'm still going to have my Pumpkin, and the Lean Bros. & Ghoul, and all the other spooky delights I have every year.

You can't really argue with the idea. 

I mean, future events such as these will affect you, in the future.





Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Again with the basics.

Hello, loyal S&Patrons (like how I did that?).

Looking at the big old grandfather clock in the foyer, I see it's a bit of a late night for your humble pubkeep, which isn't unusual -- if Autumn People aren't generally night people, I'm  a vermicious knid -- but it is a little annoying.

I suppose I shouldn't be all that bothered by being awake. I don't often get to bed much earlier than this.

But the reason I am currently awake and not sleepy is mostly because of a week's worth of an annoying warm-weather cold (oh my! the irritation at that one, ruined all kinds of plans) and because of the recurrence of a nightmare with which I've had a love-hate relationship since I was a very little pubkeep.

OH, I'm not awake from fear. Not really.

I am up with my mind running through other old nightmares, just for the nostalgic fun of reliving them.

Haven't you ever done that?

I have no hang ups about such things. I enjoy talking about what scared me as a kid (isn't that most of what we're all doing with our Hallowe'en Lovin' Ways anyway?), and I'd like to admit a few to all of you.

I'll exact payment for your ridicule when I'm finished...

First up, the very dream I had for the first time in years, but one I've had off and on since early childhood.

There's no real story to this. It's just a sort of mental loop, a perpetual animation of a creepy old thing walking through a long, dimly green decrepit hallway like this...

... and he just keeps opening these doors every twenty paces or so, fumbling through a giant key ring with his bony fingers, opening and closing (with ungodly echoes and creaks) each door, while he cackles and grumbles about something troubling him.

He looks, to the best of my late-night graphics tabletability, a little like this:

I've tried to create this nameless creep many times since childhood, and he never comes out looking like he really looks in the dream. Here, he's nearly cute, an odd little mix of a Mystic from The Dark Crystal and one of the little buggers from Critters. He has gnashing, spiky teeth, wrinkless all over, and wiry hair all shocked out and sweaty. His voice alternates between a high-pitched, creaky whine and a low, gutteral sort of belch.

For some reason, this vision haunted me in a dream when I was little and I not only never forgot it but keep seeing it every once in a great while. Just following this freak as if I were a camera to his lower right, as he walks, gnashes, opens, walks, gnashes, opens... It's dim, dark, echo-ey and very disturbing. Who in Hell is he? What's he doing? Where is it? Will it ever end? Total terror for little me.

But I think there are a few other concepts that can make me shudder just as I did as a kid, and this is only the most personal (and internal -- I have no idea where it came from but the actual dream doesn't look like anything I've ever seen before).

Another of these notions is the zombie.

No, I loves me my zombies, as you all know very well.

But I always think, in real, real life, if I suddenly stumbled onto this horror one quiet, breezy night...

... I'd really just be frozen with real terror. No music, no sound but the wind. They're just walking, not even making noise. And they're dead. And they want to eat me.


Another concept I've previously mentioned as being terrifying to me is Possessed Girl. I addressed it better and more completely in the post I just linked, so you may visit it more fully at your leisure. But the concept still manages to unnerve me.

I have also found, even though it's kind of a rare image, the notion of a headless woman.

I don't know why, but the idea of a woman being headless but still in a dress or walking, or otherwise full of life, just freaks me out just as it did when I was a kid. I remember having a hot, sweaty Summer nightmare about a headless woman in my closet rocking side to side, waiting for me to open the door. Shiver!

Then that October, I saw an episode of Happy Days called 'Haunted' where just such a nightmarish vision comes downstairs to frighten Hallowe'en revelers...

TERR - IF - IED me! Even when it turned out to be some kid having fun pranking his pals on Hallowe'en night, I was just shuddering at how creepy this was, and how it was so like my nightmare some months before.

Now, I'm not saying I spend any meaningful amount of time or energy on these notions at any given moment. They're just there, under the surface, whenever I consider being truly frightened of anything that isn't real.

Not real. I mean, all of us feel real terror about how the world can be, the horrendous things life throws at us, throws us into, makes us do and takes from us. Any of us can name any number of horrible realities we'd just as soon never think about that keep us awake and sweating in the lonely watches of the night, those dark moments as parents when we think of all the things that can go wrong for no other reason but that things go wrong... but that sort of terror is not at all what I'm referring to here.

No, these are the things that have little logical basis, no real weight, no basis in reality. Things like one of my friends being terrified for some of her early years by a moving ball of yarn and needle, or the giant hands that would come out of the ceiling to grab another of my friends on a fairly regular basis.

They just scare me, and can still scare me like they did when I was a kid.

And oh, don't get me started on her...

Pure terror. Lady Elaine would somehow kidnap me, take me away from my parents, and make me live with her in her Museum-Go-Round subsisting (I always suspected) on things like corn nuts and asparagus, making me cut my hair and wear false lashes and rouge on my nose.

So, after you've all had a laugh, I demand reparation.

Any serious childhood 'scaries' you still feel? Or can at least remember?

Now, I don't mean the movie(s) or book(s) that scared you (like they were supposed to), or common phobias like clowns or spiders (I'm lookin' at you, Frog Queen!) or even favorite monsters. I don't mean grown-up fears either. I think we've covered some of those in our other 'Fear For Thought' discussions.

I mean the lifelong, illogical, no-one-else-would-possibly-find-it-scary secrets you've kept since you were first terrified by whatever it was/is?

I challenge you all for stories, pictures if possible but at least some comments and stories of the crazy thing or things that drove you to your parent's bedroom when you were young.

C'mon... I know you each have at least one thing that can still bring you to your childhood knees in abject terror, even if you can't possibly explain, even to yourself, just why.

Free drinks all around for every story.

Get crackin', get dreamin'...


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Old tubes, vacation edition.

Well, it looks like there are some rather sinister little things crawling around in there...

Not that they're unwelcome at the S&P, of course. I just hadn't seen them before when cleaning. Perhaps, like so many in August, they're just visiting.


Every month when I change up the jukebox, I hear odd little electrical crackles and whines coming from the old Hallowe'enith console radio, and I know that we'll soon have a few new items for our spooky listening pleasure.

Sure enough, there are two new old shows there for our listening delight, each having as its starting point a traveler, and vacationer, a person or people who have set off for an adventure, and get one they didn't at all expect.

First up, a family rents a creepy old house and for some reason won't believe the tales and warnings the old caretaker offers in The Organ, another beauty from the legendary Lights Out! program, originally broadcast in the summer of 1943.

Then, a strange visit to a strange friend on a strange island -- from August of 1942 and the Dark Fantasy series comes W Is For Werewolf.

Two delightful little trips about two delightful little trips.

Grab your favorite repast, and refreshment, settle into your favorite nook and listen for an hour.

You've only got a month or so, then they change again. But I hope those little creeps will stay in the radio. Goodness knows they're very welcome to live here.



Monday, August 1, 2011

Die she must...


Summer does have to end, and with the record number of 100+ degree days and 80+ degree nights in our neck of the woods this year (and all that lovely accompanying humidity), I am quite ready for Summer to wind down.

Still, August is the kid not wanting to go back to school yet, knowing there's still time but starting to panic a little inside that there hasn't been enough relaxin'.

To aid in these last Summer days of easing back, a few new sounds have been added to the player on the right, as we do every month.

Accordingly, the first new song for the ol' jukebox is a little jazz lick composed by the late, legendary sax giant Charlie "Bird" Parker, who knew all about relaxin'. Relaxin' In Camarillo, that is. In 1947, Bird spent time in, what shall I call it? A facility, in Camarillo, for various drug-related problems. But the head he wrote soon after being released from said 'resort' is sensational, and smooth, and has become a bop standard for jazz musicians ever since. This 1959 version (off the album Good Pickin's) is from the guitar guru Howard Roberts, with Bill Holman providing some Bird-tribute sax, Pete Jolly on piano, Red Mitchell on bass, and Stan Levy on the backbeat.

The next song I've added for August is a nice piece from the original Beach Boy and insane musical genius Brain Wilson and his long-time collaborator Van Dyke Parks. From their 1993 album Orange Crate Art comes the sound of a romantic correspondence across the miles -- Palm Tree & Moon delivers some nice changes, typically brilliant lyrics from Parks, and Brian Wilson's unique, complex and lush vocal arrangment. Time for love to find ya, right August?

(I took this pic at a friend's home in SoCal... knew I'd use it here at the S&P one day!)

Then, realizing this is the month when most families traditionally get their fullest vacation time, I felt a mix of some classic 1950's family travelogue music would be absolutely perfect. The mid-'50s stock library music is a blast (I adore the genre) but I wasn't clever enough to give my homemade medley a better title than Vacation Music. But since that's exactly what it is -- play it, you'll understand immediately -- I can't complain. Happy trails, families of Summer travel...

And speaking of American institutions of the mid-20th century, the last song I've added for this month is a little more personal, and entirely fitting.

Yep. Back in 1964 when the four Lennon Sisters were temporarily three (Aunt Dee Dee was off making a family and home with Uncle Dick), my mama (Peggy) and aunts Kathy and Janet released #1 Hits of the 1960's, a title which seems a little odd given that the decade was not quite half passed, but no matter. The classic Theme From A Summer Place, with its wistful lyrics and soothing, evocative melody is a perfect Summer ender for my little pub.

But of course, August is still an entire month, and Summer is not over yet.

Not by a long shot.

The August Moon still has plenty of balmy nights to dazzle and daze, to cause all kinds of romantic mayhem to late Summer beach roamers, deck loungers and backyard vacationers, all looking to either find or rekindle a warm, summery love before all the relaxin's through.

Plus, there's still so much Summer to enjoy yet.

More fun in the sun...

More time for monster surfin'...

More time for romance...

More time for cookouts...

More time for a dip in the pool...
More time for a cold one...

... to go with that stake...

And let's not forget, the peak of the season for that Great American Pasttime...


Still time. 

But barely.

Don't waste any of it. Get out and enjoy.

I'll join you presently... but I think I hear that crazy old radio starting to crackle and hum...