Sunday, May 27, 2012

In memoriam.

Your big holiday weekend is on them.

Enjoy it because you can.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lizarraga, you magnificent bastard!

Hello dear S&Pers!

I'm glad you're all here tonight, because I need you to help this spooky little place celebrate something utterly unimportant and therefore completely praiseworthy.

The Skull & Pumpkin has just received its -- are your ready for this?


Yes dear Autumn Friends, just this evening was posted on the door of this fine old pub a parchment scrawled with commentary from a loyal S&P-brain, for what is now the thousandth time since our doors were first opened to S&P-brains.

1,000 thoughts, questions, answers, laughs, sympathies, tears, jokes, well-wishes and words of encouragement, all from you wonderful pubgoers who frequent this tiny tavern of terror.

And just who had the good fortune of being Commentor #1000?

This is the best part for me.

My friend, longtime loyal S&P-brain, and uniquely incredible artist of what he calls 'Kreepy Swank', the great Bob Lizarraga!

The kreepswank way to start your day!

I've posted about Bob before. In fact, the 5th post to this blog, way back in June 2009, was of Bob's print Halloween Fever Dream, which captures so perfectly my own sense of All Hallow's Cool...

Bob was also interviewed by Allie MacKay during the first Monsterpalooza/KTLA TV5 early morning segments of 2011 -- he drew a zombified Allie as she interviewed him. One of the great monstery joys of my life is that I got to be a part of making that happen.

I just wish I'd had a better camera.

I am very proud to say that I have three Lizarraga prints on display here at the S&P, including a great Werewolf of London sketch that was a gift from Bob, and another gift he just gave me at Monsterpalooza this year -- a signed copy of Famous Monsters #259, which features his cover art tribute to the freaks of The Twilight Zone...

Had to lift this from Bob's amazing art blog. I hope he won't mind!

What he wrote is not what's important -- you can read it at the bottom of this post here, or on the PubTalk scroll to your left -- or even that he wrote it, and sent it, and now the S&P has one thousand of 'em.

The truly important thing is, you ALL need to click the highlighted links of Bob's name and blog I've provided in this post (and which have been in the Rest of the Neighborhood links area to your right since the very beginning of this blog), and see for yourselves, if you haven't yet, the wonders he creates.

Thank you for the Big One Gee Comment, my man.

Of course you don't really win anything for it, other than my gratitude, but you've always had that.

But thanks for the amazing art.

And thank you for your friendship.

Everyone, a toast to Bob Lizarraga... raise 'em high now --


Spook on --

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Happy CincoPierceTuckyDerbMayo!

Yes, you read it right.

It's a big Saturday here at the S&P.

Enjoy yours!


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Happy Wizarding Independence Day.

"You and whose army?"
 -- Neville Longbottom

Today, all Autumn People who discovered the added Hallowe'en magic of the world of Harry Potter celebrate the day -- 14 years ago now -- when the greater gathering of good destroyed a terrible network of evil. When Tom met his end, when the 'complete git' bit it.

When Voldey went mouldy.

A bittersweet, awe-inspiring night and day.

Bittersweet like the end of a good job, a long production, a particularly difficult and mind-changing, heart-learning adventure...

"No ending can be right, because it shouldn't be over at all. 
The magic is not supposed to go away."
 -- Stephen King on the end of the book series

It's alright though. 

The magic never goes away. Like Remus, and Tonks, and Fred, and even the bad guys... it never ends.

Not really.

To those who know -- Happy Wizarding Independence Day.

To those who don't -- now might be a perfect time to begin the adventure.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May You Always, always.

Welcome, welcome.

Happy May, all of you.

Last year at this time I found that no amount of effort, of thinking and scouring the music library of this ol' S&P, could equal (let alone better) the May 1st post I had created the previous year.

So I repeated it, to some acclaim and appreciation from many who hadn't been hanging around the S&P the previous year.

And you know something? This year, I am not even going to bother myself -- it is now Skull & Pumpkin tradition that the original May Day post is upon us again. It is just as heartfelt to me, and will always mean just what I wanted it to mean.

Again, I've added the same songs to the jukebox, as ever, and left a few from last month because May is still Spring, don'tcha'know?

So -- for those who are new to the ol' pub, I once again offer the best May post I could ever make.

If you had visited the ol' S&P on this date exactly one year -- now two years -- ago, you would have seen this...

 May you always...

"... walk in sunshine."

Five years ago today, the great Matriarch of the Lennon family, my Gram, passed away at the age of 85.

It was her way to help you walk in sunshine even when she knew times could be cloudy, dark, and unsure, as they often were in her long, storied life.

She was stoic, she was unbelievably strong and resilient, she held the deepest faith in God and in her convictions... and she was one of the funniest ladies I've ever known -- not always on purpose, mind you -- and when it wasn't on purpose it was extra funny.

She was our Rock and our Light so often and for so long that it's still nearly impossible to think she's not in her kitchen somewhere making the world's most perfect pancakes, or using a little tough love and a wooden spoon to teach a grand- or great grandchild how to be a real person.

My Great Grandmother Nana, my Grandmother Sis, and me, July 1968

And as I've written before, she gave me Hallowe'en -- that she passed away exactly half the year 'round from her favorite holiday must have made her soul giggle at least a little bit. It does mine now.

She had 12 children, and really, I've stopped counting the grandchildren and great grandchildren which now number well into the 60s. And never even mind the hundreds of people whose lives she affected in personal friendship, and the many thousands who have been made joyful by the music and art that her children and grandchildren have brought (and continue to bring) to the world.

  Much that is beautiful and unique in my life and yours would not be here but for her.

Still... if anything, Gram was a trooper with way too much to do to cave into emotional wreckage. I can hear her right now: 'Oh! Why do you have to get so dramatic? Smile, lighten up, go outside and do something!'

Yes ma'am!

So we'll go outside...

May is Spring with an attitude. The child April has become a bit of a sullen, wild teen, knowing its time will turn to Summer soon enough.

In honor, I have changed the jukebox just a bit. I will only comment on additions -- the songs still there from last month have their comments in this entry.

The first new addition is a natural. Julie Andrews singing The Lusty Month of May from the original Broadway cast recording of Camelot (1960). Perfection.

Then, from the incredible mind of Corky St. Clair comes a song about Spring rains, flooding rivers, storming skies and the water ravaged but defiant generations of Plains folk -- This Bulging River is a moving number from St. Clair's one-night-only 1997 stage production Red, White & Blaine, celebrating Blaine, Missouri's sesquicentennial (that's 150 years).

The last two additions are in honor of my grandmother.

Flashes is a solo piano piece composed in 1931 by the inimitable Bix Beiderbecke, a wondrous work performed here by Dick Hyman in 2008 (Bix never recorded it in his short life). Now this song, and all of Bix's music, reminds me of my father because he was a cornet player who was often compared to Bix, and he was of an era of the great Jazz players.

But Beiderbecke's music also reminds me often of my grandmother -- this one particularly has always made me feel the way I used to when I was at Gram's house alone, or nearly so, and just walking, or laying on the couch, listening to her radio station or hearing the Venice beach breezes rattle the windows and chimes. Like her, it is as complex and subtle as it is warm and inviting... and like her, it is simply one of the most beautiful things that ever was.

Lastly, since we all agree that if it hadn't been for her, the world would never have had these lovely ladies and their incredible voices...

I had numerous images at my disposal, but I HAD to pick this one... I just had to.
... then I feel a 'May' song that has become so closely identified with the Lennon Sisters (that's my Mama at lower right) was in order. This version of May You Always was taken from a late '60s episode of The Lawrence Welk Show. I had the honor of performing May You Always with them when they sang it together for the first time in years, on the occasion of their 50th anniversary in show biz...

I know Gram always loved to hear them sing it.

I hope you all walk in sunshine, now that May, and mid-Spring, have arrived.

Just don't forget, in the midst of all that sunshine, greenery and flowery-tude-inous-ness, that we are halfway around the year from dark, orange-black, undead loveliness...