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.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I have been so busy with work, work, work, I haven't been able to visit and discuss and critique and enjoy this old homely house. I feel trapped.

Such is life. The work is wonderful, the time-crunch is not.

I hope to fix that soon, certainly before those other holidays.

Please continue to visit and enjoy.

I leave Fester and Mantan Calaveras in charge while I'm away, but if either of you slacks off, leaves a door unlocked or takes advantage of the bar, I'm going to sick the Frog Queen on you.

And man! you do not want her mad!

Have at it, fellow Autumn Folk.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Eleven '11.


The grand, blue-gray morning-after sleep from a manic, magic October.

And though it is still very Autumn, it is the test pattern for Winter.

A time of change and preparation, calm and peace all at once.

And in honor, I've changed up the music in the ol' S&P jukebox...

First, we always have Vince Guaraldi's The Great Pumpkin Waltz. It is the official theme song of the Skull & Pumpkin.

Next, I've added another 3/4-time Guaraldi classic, fit for the month of November: the Theme from 1973's A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. 

I still want that Thanksgiving meal.

Next up, a tribute to my late father Dick Cathcart, who would have turned 87 today. He died just two days after his 69th birthday, and November always reminds me of his life and death. As a highly regarded and sought-after trumpeter and singer, he did much during his life, and saw plenty, and I find one particular recording to be most evocative of my feelings about him.

In 1957 he played on his good friend Paul Weston's fabulous musical ode to New Orleans, Crescent City. Dad's horn lead on Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen is one of his finest pieces, and I am proud to present it for the month.

I am grateful to have had him for a father, and thankful for so many things he taught me, so many gifts he gave me... so I had to add a song about being grateful for the good things in our lives.

From the 1973 film (of the 1971 musical) Godspell comes All Good Gifts, a pretty and heartfelt song of thanksgiving...

... and then I remembered that this is a Hallowe'en pub and our Thanksgiving celebrations are a raucous, monstery affair.

The Bash is a wild big band piece from Maury Laws' amazing score to Mad Monster Party (1967), and if Count Basie's band ever played at a party thrown by Dr. Frankenstein, this is what it would sound like.

Frankenstein. That reminds me... didn't Mary Shelley have the Monster being created this very month?

"It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils..."

Just as I thought.

So we gotta have some Frankenstein music (as Livy would say). From the original 1931 film comes Bernhard Kaun's main title piece, the Frankenstein Theme. I've left the very smooth introduction from actor Edward Van Sloan, warning us of the horrors about to unfold.

"How do you do?"

I have decided to leave my own composition, Autumn Storm, on the player, since it's still Autumn. And it's my pub.

Plus, it's still pretty. It still 'works', as they say.

Lastly, as ever, comes the Anger/Higbie Quintet's 1986 beauty Pumpkintime, the official incidental music of the S&P.

New music for a new month, for your pleasure.

Stoke the fire a bit, though. It's getting chilly...

Dick Cathcart
November 6, 1924 --- November 8, 1993

Happy 87th.

Dumdumshrek, Pop.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Before we get to November...

Well, November's already here, yes.

But before I get to any new jukebox tunage or waxing poetic about the end of Autumn and all that, I wanted to pass around a few pics of our 2011 yardhaunt, the 'Greatest Hits' display I was able to put together.

Yes, I was going to do a big tribute to the anti-genius of Edward D. Wood, Jr. But time... time not only slipped away, it was fairly torn from my daily schedule with alarming regularity all through September and October.

No complaints. I love working.

But I decided I had backlogged so many great props, figures, routines, music and decor that a greatest hits display would be perfect -- a kind of Hallowe'en version of a cheap TV clip show.

It worked just fine.

Now don't get up, I'll just pass a few around:

 Our 'graveyard' just before adding the animatronic characters.

 The lovely 'V' helping set up 'Boo Corner' (for littler spooks and scared grown-ups!).

 'Uncle Bill' setting up the stupendous 'De Witch Woman' display he built 
last year in honor of the family-favorite James Lewicki illustration 
(story and pictures from this post and this post, remember?)

Our cat Hallowe'en ('Halli') always helps us move the leaves around.

 She also spent a lot of time hanging out with Cap'n Lantern an Ficketts.

 The graveyard ready to go, seen through the web of a spider
that decided she had to set up shop here. 
(Sorry Frog Queen!)

 An angle I only get to see once a year: the business end of my
graveyard attraction.

 Cap'n Lantern, First Mate Ficketts, a tombstone-perched raven named Nevermore...

 ... and the Lean Bros & Ghoul, ready for spooky swingin' songs!

My one and only Ed Wood tribute piece.

 The completed Boo Corner...

... and guests.

'De Witch Woman' took the place of the usual Treat Room we have on
that side of the porch. That foot pumped, that spindle spun, and de ol' witch woman
sang  (in my Aunt Gail's voice) 'Turn an' spin, come off skin!' all night long.

The decade-old Great Pumpkin animatronic character, in his perfectly
glowy, perfectly plasticky pumpkin patch!

A blurry but colorful shot of the display from across the street. 

Of course, the Skull & Pumpkin has always been a Post-Hallowe'en Blues-Free Zone, as you well know. There is nothing about cleanup that saddens me -- not really -- and in fact it has grown to become a rather Zen-like ritual, at once cleansing and inspiring.

Besides, there simply isn't a reason for sadness.

For one, we had a grand time.

For another, it's still Autumn. I mean, look at the view I get to and from work every day...

Still very, very Fall.

I'll be back soon with new musical diversions for a new month.

In the meantime, I'll gather up the pictures and let you all get back to whatever you were doing. I hope you're all discussing your own amazing Hallowe'en 2011 stories!

Until next time!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hallowe'en dreams.

It was truly wonderful, wasn't it?

All my creations recapturing my imagination, pursuing me like the Monster pursued Frankenstein across frozen floes.

All my fears riding to meet my giddy challenge, and sending me headlong across the bridge from October to November, like a headless Hessian soldier's flaming gourd to the back of my noggin -- beautiful, painful, spirited, brief, and final.

It was just wonderful.

Off now to dream black and orange dreams, with a real breeze blowing real leaves against my real window, and the warming sound of every voice that haunted my home tonight, still in my ears -- a last, thin-wick'd candle flickering in one last jack o'lantern.

Happy Hallowe'en.

Good night.