Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Hallowe'en.

It is here.

Our day, and most thrillingly, our Night.

It is the New Year celebration of an ancient world, and an ancient celebration of what has come and gone, what may lie ahead, and what our place will be in whatever comes.

It is the birthday of childhood fears, but the anniversary of casting those fears away, all at once.

Even as it changes with time and tide, it has never disappointed.

It calls us to come out and play again, to talk and laugh and scream and chase and run as the children we still are, will always be, no matter how we try to hide it.

It sets the sun a pumpkin orange, carries leaves on a woodsmoke wind to tap our windows, scratch our memories, to tickle and reawaken our love -- our need -- for the Tall Tale, the Scary Story, the Fright.

It is yours, and it is mine, and it connects us across miles.

It does not teach us to fear -- we already know fear quite well. It doesn't say 'See? Here are horrors you wouldn't know but for Me.'

No. Like all Fantasy, which is itself a child of our darkest primal nights, it does not teach children that there are dragons. They already know that.

                                             It just shows us all that dragons can be slain.

It is our secret satisfaction at the puzzle unsolved, our continuous joy at the Great Mystery, for it is the stating and confronting of our most primal fear... and because it is the facing of our own death, it boldly and blessedly reminds us to live while we are alive.

                                                                It is Hallowe'en.

It is today, and tonight. God, what a gift.

The Skull & Pumpkin wishes all of you a meaningful, magical, and mystical Hallowe'en, wherever you may be.

A toast, raise them up high now:


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Diggin' up goodies...

... and settin' up for spooky fun!

Oh wait, I found this old picture in the attic and knew I had to put it up for the weekend for loyal S&Per DeeDee:

And fellow S&Pers, let's give a warm Skull & Pumpkin welcome to our newest loyal pubgoer, Katie! She runs the sweet Little Barn Owl blog, and is definitely one of us crazy Autumn People. Free rounds for Katie all weekend long.


Two days away.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Making Hallowe'en still.

I think I want to keep them set up in my room for the rest of the year.

My animatronic family, minus the Great Pumpkin and Uncle Forry, while I program a few greatest hits into them.

Making Hallowe'en...

P.S. I notice the S&P has somehow lost a Follower. I wonder if we said something wrong? Oh well -- more libation for the rest of us.


The Big Night.

It just keeps creeping closer... closer... closer...


Monday, October 24, 2011

Digital Hallowe'en, on the air.

It's begun, fellow S&Pers!

SiriusXM just rolled out their SCREAM Channel (145) about ten minutes ago, and they're running until 3am November 1st!
 Songs, stories, sound effects, just spooky fun!

We'll have it on at the S&P for the rest of the week.

Now back to making Hallowe'en... with a cool soundtrack!


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Making Hallowe'en.


Saturday, October 22, 2011


Heading to storage today...

Now -- where's my Hallowe'en stuff... ?


Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Monday, October 17, 2011

A skull and pumpkin.

Yesterday was a bit of a Pumpkin Carving Day.

Kiara the Great was in rare form, using a Pumpkinmasters kit to whip up some design I'm still trying to decipher. But she loved every second of it!

The lovely V procured four or five excellent raw jack o'lanterns, and I chose the one I thought would make the oddest looking chap.

Here you can see I have already done the eyes, but I wanted you to see the warts and scars on this wonderfully warped little fellow. All of his odd features make for a glowering, grotesque but grand little gourd!

When I brought him to the S&P, he immediately began to grumble and shift, and leaving him to his own devices for a time, I eventually found him here:

... on the windowsill at the top floor landing. He obviously knew his place.

And by nightfall, well...

Now that's a skull & pumpkin!

I'm enjoying him immensely, and am quite certain the rest of our menagerie has welcomed him with open... whatever they may have.

Hallowe'en on the way... yikes!


Thursday, October 13, 2011


Yes, it's a grand thing to be a grandparent (step- or otherwise).

V and I are always delighted by our granddaughters, at every moment, for every reason.

Yesterday, our 6 year-old grandgirl, Kiara and her 1st Grade class were celebrating Grandparents Day, and we spent an hour in her classroom poring over their accomplishments, listening to storybook readers, and generally being as proud of our grandkid as every other grandparent there was about their grandkid.

What I loved most, though, was how the classroom was modestly but earnestly decorated for Hallowe'en!

They had the kids make these really cute construction paper spiders to hang from the ceiling...

You can see the pumpkin/witch/skull lights to the far left, too!

What we couldn't get pictures of, though, was their 'smartboard' -- it's essentially a computer on a projector that acts like a giant, animated chalkboard -- where the kids all wrote things about their grandparents.

When we read "We play scary games on the computer" and "We like to make Halloween crafts", we immediately knew who had written it! I couldn't have been more proud.

That is, until I read this page in the little book each child had written about their grandparents...


Not that I know who Van Vampire is (she tells me she merely forgot how to spell vampire then wrote it correctly). But HOW COOL IS THIS? What she wants to let everyone know is that she and I love to read monster books!

She also made a card for us, and made sure to inform us she used our favorite Hallowe'en colors!

My little Monster Kid (wearing her purple-black skull hair clip procured at Monsterpalooza!):

Happy, happy Pa.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More genius from Jason Willis.

So... do you remember last year's amazing musical video treasure from Jason Willis? I posted it and gave my glowing review in November -- and I still watch it often. I hope you do too.


This year, just in time for the ol' All Hallow's, Jason has once again outdone himself with a stop-motion montage set to H-A- Double L- O, W- Double E - N Spells Hallowe'en, the first song on the popular 1969 album Halloween: Games, Songs & Stories by Wade Denning and Kay Lande (the story behind the album can be read in Jason's own words on his famous Scar Stuff blog).

This is a popular song -- if you search it on the ol' FaceTube you'll see lots of people using it for their own videos.

But THIS version tops them all. It was done entirely on an iPhone with the Hipstamatic application.

Do it up, Jason.

And just in case you didn't remember (or didn't want to click the earlier link to) his other amazing video, I'll post it again. It's so worth having twice at the ol' Skull & Pumpkin.

So fun.

So Hallowe'en.

And thank you again, Mr. Jason, for another bit of brilliance. Your drinks are on the house 'til New Year's!


Monday, October 10, 2011

"Give this man satin undies...

... a dress, a sweater and a skirt, or even the simple lounging outfit he has on...

... and he's the happiest man in the world!"

Today we celebrate the birth of one Edward Davis Wood, Jr., the man directly responsible for some of the greatest film moments of my life. 

He challenged our notions of personal liberty and social acceptance as both Glen and Glenda. He turned the San Fernando Valley into spooky gator and octopus filled swamp land while giving the Monster a Bride. He bravely forsook exalted alien ruler tradition by jumping over Plans 1 through 8 and going right to Plan 9!

This was a great man. And there's not a statue, or a plaque...

Hey, he wasn't very good at what he did. 

That's not the point, though. He LOVED what he did, and LOVED what he tried to do, and LOVED that he even tried.

Obviously, he wasn't afraid to love, or to try. I think more people should live by his teachings. Well... at least what he taught before he became really sick.

Eddie, I'm going to do my best to tribute you this year. It won't look great, which will be just perfect. It will look spooky.

And hopefully, some guests will walk away realizing, as you did, that perfection is in the mind of the beholder.

Edward D. Wood Jr.
(1924 -- 1978)

And for everyone else following along, please head to The Ed Wood Project Fan Page on Facebook. We're trying to raise funds to give Eddie a cenotaph (that's a headstone or marker even if there's no remains) at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where his wife Kathy Wood is buried. The land has been generously donated by the owner of the cemetery, we just need to purchase/create the cenotaph itself. 

A toast... Happy Birthday, Eddie!


Saturday, October 8, 2011

A (not so) brief rambling.

Welcome, S&Pers, welcome.

Thank you for coming to visit and enjoy our little pub, even though there hasn't been too much 'new stuff' to see, hear or ponder. So much work, so little time...

I finally had some time to come hang out at the S&P myself tonight, and wanted to just wax philosophical for a moment. No pics, no distractions, just my thoughts.

Don't worry, you can still listen to the music and the old radio -- never mind me, I'm just holding up the bar and thinking about Hallowe'en, and our devotion to it, and the remarkable restorative power of Autumn and Hallowe'en in our often busy, topsy-turvy lives.

As I've mentioned previously, this year I haven't had nearly the time to produce the kind of Hallowe'en display I normally do, and while part of me is truly panicked, I mostly feel sort of resigned and happy.

I know, weird, right?

But if you think about it logically, the panic is truly needless. I can't change the situation, and it's not like I'm not going to have a display filled with amazing homemade figures no one else in the world has, doing goofy things and being cool and spooky on Hallowe'en night -- so what if all my plans can't be accomplished? I still have a singing skeleton quartet. Two comical pirates and a raven straight-man.

My beloved Great Pumpkin, for the love of All Hallow's.

Maybe I'll have to just rehash last year's routines. Maybe I'll have to stick to a few songs and a few jokes and leave it at that.

Maybe I'll just put out everything, let it run until it all collapses.

Or maybe I'll just carve a gigantic jack o'lantern and set it in an empty yard with a big candle and a glass of wine and simply say 'I DO THIS FOR MY UNDYING LOVE OF THE SINGLE GREATEST NIGHT OF THE YEAR AND NOTHING I CAN OR CAN'T FINISH CHANGES ANYTHING."

Because how can life be difficult, how can I be sad, if there's still going to be an October 31st? The entire day will still feel as beautifully different as it has since I was a little child. The sunlight, the clouds, the air, everything will still be Hallowe'en.

And why should I compare what I do with what anyone else does, and find myself wanting? If all I ended up doing come the 31st is decorating inside with my family and friends, and running a few routines on the Pumpkin and playing a few DVDs, I would be just as happy, this year.

But the real point for me is this:

D'you know why we Autumn People 'do' Hallowe'en the way we do? With the passion, the magic, the fire for it, year after year after blessed year?


You, me, them, everyone who makes Hallowe'en... we are Hallowe'en.

It is us, we are it. There is no Hallowe'en without us.

Ponder it for a bit.

Rather than feel like we've let some external celebration pass us by, or that we've let someone or something down by not being able to give it everything we have before, we need to know that it's internal, that anything we do to celebrate Hallowe'en is in itself the prime creation of Hallowe'en.

We connect with the beauty of Autumn's leaves, the sun, the rain, the light and the dark, the smells and sounds and sights of our most loved Night, and that is the restorative power, the magic, the renewal, right there: we can always make it because we are made of it.

Ah, well... I ramble.

But if I somehow cannot do everything I thought would be cool, then I choose, here and now, to not only not beat myself up over it, but to laugh and enjoy the fact that life got in my way so much that it made me see the true depth of my love for Hallowe'en... and therefore my love for myself.

To just learn that lesson.

To just relax and be the Hallowe'en that I am.

Well... we'll see what happens, but I know one thing:

I'm alive to see another October 31st. And that's an excellent, excellent thing.

I propose a big toast -- to all of us who are not just Hallowe'en Makers, but who realize we are Hallowe'en itself.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Old tubes, All Hallow's.

So last night after adjusting the jukebox here at the S&P, I began to notice (as I usually do) some strange crackling, whining murmurs from the old Hallowe'enith console radio at the other end of the bar... and I knew if I just let things alone, there'd be some spooky fun available for our listening pleasure.

I was right.

First, we have a zany episode of the classic Jack Benny Program (J-E-LL-OOOOO!) from Hallowe'en of 1941, starring the smooth-mannered and equally smooth-voiced Basil Rathbone.

The contrast of Benny's ensemble and Rathbone's inimitable style is priceless, and worth your time.

Next up, a truly spooky episode of the always intriguing series Dark Fantasy, this time from 1942. A sweet and scary little outing titled The Headless Dead, this tale follows a skeptical fellow who does not believe that anything haunts the Tower of London. Well...

Yeah. We know how this is going to turn out. And we love it!

Finally, a good bit of otherworldly research and recitation about the history and lore of vampirism, first broadcast as a special treat on Hallowe'en night, 1973, on WKBW 1520 in Buffalo NY. 

Vampires explores the myths, legends, superstitions and facts about the long and complex subject of vampirism throughout history. WKBW stalwarts Jim McLaughlin and Arlene Bunis are wonderful storytellers, and the surprising tales they recount are sure to delight as deeply as they chill.

There's at least two hours of spooky listening pleasure, just for you, just to the upper left of the main page here.

Please give a listen.

I know you'll enjoy all of it.

Until next time...


Monday, October 3, 2011

At last.

October has arrived, at last.

And I am posting about it... at last.

A lot of work, planned and unplanned, has taken me away from the S&P and other Autumn delights lately. But I'm not complaining about any of it, no sir. It's incredibly good to have gainful employment, especially these days.

I'm just glad I finally have a few moments to share a toast with all of you patient and loyal S&P'ers, to the greatest month of the year!

With each new month, of course, comes new music to our little jukebox over there to the right.

Now, we do our best to keep it stocked with Autumn goodness all year long, perpetually featuring our official incidental score, the beautiful Pumpkintime from the Anger-Higbie Quintet, and as ever the official theme song of the Skull & Pumpkin, Vince Guaraldi's The Great Pumpkin Waltz.

For the Hallowe'en Month, I thought a continuance of the 'theme' theme was in order.

First comes my solo piano version of Grim Grinning Ghosts, the theme to the greatest dark ride in the world: Disneyland's Haunted Mansion!

It's not as rockin' and swingin' as the ride's original soundtrack, but it's mine and I like it and I'm in charge so there.

Then we have to get back to basics with another Vince Guaraldi treasure...

Just think of your youngest trick-or-treat memories, the cloudy sky, the leaves, the pumpkins, always the pumpkins... and realize that the Opening Theme from our favorite Peanuts Hallowe'en special was playing the whole time.

Next up, a theme that is near and dear to my heart this year, in fact near and dear to the heart of any fan of Ed's... the Theme from Plan 9 From Outer Space!

Now, Ed Wood never had a professional composer or arranger for his films, and stock music from various libraries are a hallmark of his works. This piece was originally titled "Grip of the Law", and was composed by Trevor Duncan for his Impress Music company.

Then, we had to add a tune that's been on the player before, but never the worse for wear. A nod to the classic horror monsters of our Hallowe'en-lovin' childhoods, Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, better known among Monster Kids as the Theme from Dracula, is always welcome in October.

Finally, another selection once on the player but too perfect for October not to repeat: Louis Armstrong's incredible number from the 1936 film Pennies From Heaven -- The Skeleton in the Closet! Satch just kills it in this bit of swingin' spookiness.

Man, now that's a Hallowe'en band!

That's it for now, but perhaps if time allows I'll add more before the Big Night.

Until then, enjoy your October. I'm not building much that is new this year -- I'm mostly dolling up my existing figures -- but I'll post what I can, when I can.

In the meantime, I'm hearing some crackling and humming from the ol' Hallowe'enith radio... 

A toast -- to all of us, a Happy Hallowe'en season.