Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Hi-lowe'en, everyone.

I hope you're all having a fine, fine October, as we really get into the spooky, spectacular season of our favorite day and night of the year.

I have been truly enjoying it all, and in fact have discovered a little interest I'd never really considered I had until now...

Blow-mold plastic Hallowe'en lanterns.

That picture is not mine, it is a collection of reproduction pieces from an anonymous (as far as I can see) user on Halloweenforum. But it gives you the idea of what I'm getting at, here.

I only have a few pieces at the moment, and I honestly have no idea if I will get more or not, but I know me, and if something really jumps out at me, I will bring it home!

So far, these are my finds...

Again, this pic and the rest are all others' pictures, none of which I can credit because I can find no names. My camera's acting up so I can't show you mine just yet.

And yes, I know the winking, smiling fella here is not technically a 'lantern' but a treat bucket. I don't plan on getting into those so much, but his face is too cute and fun. I found him in a flea market in TX for $8, so it was a no brainer for me.

The main thing about this piece, however, is that it was the beginning of my now-burgeoning interest in such items.

I never knew I really dug these little guys!

My next find...

I saw this cute coupling of Hallowe'en icons for just over $5, and it was another no brainer. It's a common item like so many made by Empire in the '60s. 

The toothy smile, the spooked cat's expression, even the little pumpkin stem atop, give this piece a character I just loved the moment I saw it. 

It's been lighting my room 24/7 for months now.

And my most recent find... 
I love this one.

Also made by Empire in the early '60s, it is similar to the previous piece, but the addition of more Hallowe'en stalwarts like a grimacing skull and flying witches made it really stand out... and the top hat gives it a jaunty little twist.

At $7, this one was a bit more expensive than its Empire brother, but again, total no brainer.

I know these items are fairly common, and can be found with ridiculous ease on the world wide interwebs, but I find that trying to find them in little flea and thrift markets not only makes the hunt more rewarding and fun, but better yet keeps prices low. No need to buy a $3 lantern and spend $12 on shipping, you know?

The ones I am (currently) trying to find...

Come on... way too cool.

Oh, and all of these...

I wasn't aware of the Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster pieces' existence, so this image from another user on that Hallowe'en forum has me pretty excited to try and locate them.

But I think the dashing, caped, top-hatted skeleton is the best piece here, just look at him!

I know that not all of these pieces are terribly old or 'vintage', though the three I have are reliably not reproductions but actual items from the '60s. 

But I am not really concerned with 'vintage'-osityness anyway. If I like the look and feel of a piece, it's mine. Simple as that.

And this one, well, it means a lot to me and will be a very nice find when I finally run across it in some little knick-knack shop somewhere...

Of course I mean the bandit-masked fellow lit up, and not the slightly burn-victim-skin-graft-ish thing on the right.

Why is it so meaningful to me?


... there were two of these, one on either side of the front yard gate, lighting up the walkway there, every Hallowe'en night at my grandmother's house and our big family display/yard haunt.

I loved the bandit lanterns, because they signified the official start of the celebration there, at least to my mind. 

Not long after my grandmother passed away, I asked an aunt if these were still in a box somewhere, and a number of people went looking for them, but to no avail. Sadly, these two sun-bleached, brittle lanterns either died a flaky death or simply vanished along with the family Hallowe'en haunt.

To have another of these would be very gratifying, and would no doubt occupy a place of honor here at the S&P. 

Miss you Gram.

Miss your Hallowe'en love.

Still... onward! There are more pumpkins to find and rescue from mundane flea market shelves all around me... and I intend to find all of them.

Did I mention I am really enjoying my October Hallowe'en season?

Alright, say it with me now...


Monday, October 5, 2015

Starting down the winding road.

It is so very, very Autumn, here at the S&P.

I have been out and about, exploring the byways and darker lanes of Autumn's woodlands and forests and villages.

At one point I even got some time to enjoy a little snack...

Don't worry about the ghoul behind me -- he only wanted some pudding.

So far, I am seeing some mighty fine Hallowe'enin' goin' on, and if/when I get some good camera time, I will be happy to bring some pictures here, we can pass them around. It'll be just like old times, here at the pub.

It's interesting how I can see, in better detail and greater appreciation, so much more of the seasonal celebrating and decorating than I used to notice, all around my neck of the woods, now that I have my October free to explore it all.

I am realizing that -- I guess -- I used to be pretty understandably but quite narrowly focused on the tasks at hand and wholly missed quite a few darker corners of spooky goodness all around me.

Being able to finally see others' decorations and ideas, some brand new to me, others a wonderful and much needed re-connection, has been a great gift to me already. And we still have the whole month to go!

As I knew and hoped it would... it all gets me thinking of my own creations, and inspires me to newer and better Hallowe'en madness.

I have to say as well that having support and comments from you dear S&Pbrains is another great gift, humbling and gratifying for this ol' run-down pubkeep. I truly appreciate you all.

Next post, I am thinking along the lines of... hhmmmm... OH! Oh yes, that will be PERfect... mmmmuuaaAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!

 Ain't October the very best?

Wishing all of you a fantastically frightening fun-filled Fall!


Thursday, October 1, 2015

It Begins Again.

Well, my friends... my patient, long-standing pubgoers who have been without their S&P for quite a long time... a new post here is long past due, and offered here with my gratitude for your patience and understanding.

My life is a good one, but it shifts focus in various directions, and this homely haunted house has been one of the longest suffering victims of such shifts.

So it is with great joy and renewed fervor that I post a very Happy October to all of the S&P-brains here!

This year is going to be rather different for your humble pubkeep.

I will not be putting on my traditional, massive yard-haunt display, and I beg your indulgence as I try to explain why...

For almost 20 years now, I've been putting on that Big Spooky Shindig every single Hallowe'en night, joyfully so, passionately so. I have thoroughly enjoyed and loved all of it, all of them. But among the victims of that focused direction is the numerous friends and family who also put on their own haunts and creations which I have NEVER been able to see for the last few decades, being unable to leave my own yard for the duration as I make sure everything's running right, people are happy, kids are plenty sugared up, and so on.

An uncle, a cousin, a brother and his wife and son, and many other loved ones in my life are Hallowe'en fanatics just like me -- Hallowe'en runs in the family, deep and devotedly -- and they do all kinds of decorating and creating and showing off and cooking and hosting and... I have never been able to attend any of them. Decades.

Also, and I think even more importantly, is that for the last three or four years, I was getting more and more stressed every October, with building and finishing, programming, painting, all of the myriad creations and processes that go into one of my Hallowe'en displays. It got to the point where I was entirely missing out on the season, missing out on celebrating Hallowe'en the whole month of October!

I couldn't enjoy, even when I had a little time here and there during the crazy busy month, things like TV Hallowe'en marathons and fright fests and specials, because even while watching them I had to be paying attention to my work on figures and props, which became ever more complex and time-intensive as each year 'improved' over the previous, my ego telling me to outdo myself with every coming season.

I missed a lot of wonderful Hallowe'en happenings.

And because of that, my ability to truly create and finish a proper haunt became less fluid and natural, and more forced, the last few years... and I feel as if my last two Hallowe'ens were simply not up to the standard I hold in my heart and have since I was very young. They weren't really worthy, not entirely.

And because of that, my desire to create and display has waned over these past few years.

I need to recharge my Duraskull batteries and find inspiration again, this time in the creations and sweat and efforts of others' displays, others' celebrations.

I plan on hosting a big 20th Hallowe'en Anniversary yard-haunt in 2016, so I am certainly not giving up the ghost of our favorite holiday, no ma'am, no sir. I could never do that. My devotion to and passion for All Things All Hallow's has never wavered, will never change. So next year will be a good one.

But this year, I am going to revel in the entire month, the entire spooky season's worth of tricks and treats everyone else has been able to enjoy for a long time. I am looking forward to it immensely, and I have no doubt it will all inspire and supercharge my Hallowe'en fanaticism again and again.

Will I be back 'better than ever'?  Well... yes and no.

Yes, I will be better than I have been the last three years, I'd certainly hope. But no, I will not be better than ever, I will be as good and worthy as I have always been and was until I got so tired and strung out -- as Bilbo once lamented feeling like 'butter scraped over too much bread' -- and I think that will be the greatest gift of this year's restful revelry.

Of course, we will decorate, oh Hell yes! Just, you know, not like we usually do, but like... well, like NORMAL people do.

Part of my October celebration will be more posts here at the ol' S&P as we gleefully bask in Autumn's chilling magic all month long. I hope to post every few days at least, and I hope that whatever I do post and show and tell and review and celebrate will be of interest and be enjoyable for all of you dear pub-going friends.

I am so very happy to be back here at the Skull & Pumpkin Public House. I've missed it, and all of you.

But this year, rather than resuming my place behind the bar, I will instead be hanging out with everyone else on the other side of it.

And I already know it's going to be one hell of a happy Hallowe'en.

To October, to enjoying the season, to reaffirming passion and to Hallowe'en itself, come on everyone, for the first time in ages... let us lift our glasses...