Sunday, August 30, 2009

Weird A&%$ Alabama...

Along a little road lies a sleepy little town called Carrollton. Carrollton is one of those towns that you would think that Mayberry would look like, a throwback to the Cold War days where fallout shelter signs still exists.
In the center of the town is the old courthouse, recently restored.  Everything seems peaceful, tranquil, serene, WTF IS STARING AT ME IN THAT WINDOW?!?!?!!!

Welcome to Carrollton, Alabama, home of the Face In The Window. Although several different stories with varying degrees of embellishment surround the legend of the Face, this is the "official" historical statement...
Of course, the legends and stories are far more colorful and interesting. Legend have it that every window has been broken out of the courthouse by hail, but this one always remains. It is said that the window has been replaced time and time again and the image reappears each and every time...Some say that the condemned man proclaimed his innocence and that he would look down on the town in eternal judgement if he was hanged; lightning striking wildly in a freak thunderstorm that comes from nowhere as he peers out the window at the bloodthirsty crowd, a bolt hitting the courthouse glass, creating the ghostly image that looks over the new courthouse across the street in eternal judgment to this day.  Two radio personalities were allowed to go up to the attic of the courthouse and they reported that the image was invisible from the inside.
As I have said before , sometimes I rather like not knowing.

When you're down Alabama way, near the west-central area, take the 15 mile detour from US 82 from Gordo to Carrollton and say hello to Henry Wells at the top of the old courthouse window, he'll be glad you did.............

Witch Broom

This broom is standing by itself.  No strings.  No support.  These were taken at my parent's house.  And yes, there's a trick...

Me Want Bad!

Grim Visions is giving away this uber cool skull on book set.  Me want. Me want bad!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Zombie Weatherman

If you want an excuse to get an IPhone, I'm giving you one now.  Not a legitimate excuse but an excuse nonetheless...
I found the Zombie Weatherman app last night (I've become an app ho, can't get enough of them).  The free version is actually better than the paid version right now, it comes with the blood splatters but the next update promises blood splatters and different cities forcasts.  If you don't like the daily forecast, blame the Zombie Weatherman and slap him around a bit; watch him fall down, get knocked back and gut punched, he keeps coming back for more just like a regular zombie! 

Monday, August 24, 2009

Seance Table

This is two short videos of the seance table that I'm just about finished with.  I wasn't going to unveil it but my conscience started to bother me about not sharing.  We have to share our abilities to keep Hallowe'en alive and well...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Weird A&%$ Alabama...

If you live south of the Mason/Dixon line, you are aware of this plague. It creeps quickly, engulfing buildings, vegetation and anything still long enough to allow it to cover it.
Kudzu, the scourge of the South.

I rode the rural roads today and came across some small patches kudzu in bloom. Kudzu can grow up to 2 to 3 feet a DAY in all directions, is highly resistant to any sort of herbicide and is the ingredient to many recipes. Don't believe me...

The flowers are small, a purple/fuchsia color and have a strong grape Kool-Aid scent (I kid you not). You can Wiki it for some more fascinating facts but for all that is good, holy and merciful...DON'T PLANT ANY OF IT! YOU WILL REGRET IT!!!

Oh, I never leave home without my traveling companion. She loves going over dirt roads, it looks like she's having a seizure.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Rustic Tart Recipe

I came up with this wonderful recipe for a rustic cherry pie and I wanted to share it with all of you because I'm such a nice guy and..and...I can't do it, I STOLE this recipe from Alice and her most delightful blog Curiouser and Curiouser. I made mine with some cherries and it turned out beautifully.
Here is her recipe (hers looks absolutely divine in peach!). And it's easy to boot!

Follow Up Post...House of the Unusual

Most of you know me as a fair person when I'm evaluating something, and this will be no exception...
I ordered this:

What I got was this...

Now it is MY fault to assume that Boney was going to be printed on 80 pound paper as Frankenstein's monster was, but the paper that it was printed on was much thinner than regular photocopy paper and the quality of the printing is poor at best, almost as if the toner was about to be depleted...There were no glowing parts as described in the advertisement but I will say shipping was fast. For $17.95 not including shipping, I do not feel this was worth the money spent.

So now you know how to make up your own minds to whether you would like to patronize this merchant or not because I do, like Fox News, try to be fair and balanced, and evil but that's another story.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Little Haunted Merriment

I did a search for skeletons and Halloween on Youtube after seeing this first video on another site (I forgot which, I was speed surfing at the time). Then I just expanded to Halloween Cartoons and found a couple of more gems.


Haunted Book Review Thursday--On Time

MAKE: Special Edition Halloween

Make Magazine

Ok kiddies, this is one that you're going to have to get so just suck it up and pull out the credit card.

Make and its sister publication Craft are two magazines with the price of a book...but usually very well worth it. The Halloween Edition of Make is no exception. Chock full of projects (I love the word "chock", don't know what the heck it means) from food, animatronics, costumes and decorations, this has a little bit of everything (including a book review, to which I totally disagree with from last week; trust me, not them, they're just trying to sell you something). In short, this book should definitely be in your library somewhere because it's one of the better books on creative Halloweening around.

Go buy

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mack Daddy Macabre

Thank you every one that volunteered help in assisting me to pimp my blog. I took a deep breath, dove in and taught myself some HTML (mostly cut and pasting around). I wanted to just make my blog a little more fun to look at.

Thanks again for the generous and kind offers for help! I more than appreciate it!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Help please!

Some of you have really pimped your blogs, wonderfully so. Please tell me how, I don't even know how to put the awards up that I've recieved to brag about.

I can raise the dead but I can't even pimp my own blog out.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I Won!

Hot diggity dawg, I won a giveaway from Pumpkinbrain! Yay!

I shall do my happy dance now.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

House of the Unusual

I are in heaven.

If you're old enough, you might remember the old Johnson-Smith catalogs of 'Things you never knew existed' (or something like that). I would get one in the mail from time to time and pore over it and read every one of the "amuse your friends, be the life of the party" each gag promised. Same thing about the ads in comic books, I used to love looking at the ads and wanting all the cool stuff offered (which I never got, my parents, probably rightfully so, refused to send off the money for me for 'that junk'. This explains my Ebay addiction).
Enter House of the Unusual, your store for all that useless stuff you always wanted. I haven't ordered anything yet, but today I'm going to order the Boney the Skeleton poster with glowing eyes. Uber cool! Will let you know the speed and quality when I get it.

We do live in a good time, do we not?

A Quickie Movie Review

No, this doesn't have to do with Hallowe'en or props or a disemboweled zombie chewing the top of your skull off but it does involve blogging, something near and dear to my heart and fingers.
Go see Julie and Julia. I saw it last night and it was fun, charming and left you feeling good and saying 'awwwwwwww' when you left the theatre. It is also inspirational since Julie is a blogger (this movie is a combination based on 2 true stories, the life of Julia Child and Julie Powell, the former you are probably familiar with, the latter, a cubical rat who has no purpose or direction in her life until her husband suggests she start blogging. She undertakes an ambitious task...prepare every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking": 541 recipes in one year while blogging about her experiences and life along the journey. 541 recipes in 365 days, she's a better woman than I am! Meryl Streep is flawless, the whole cast and settings are flawless, and although I am not inspired to start pulling out the pots and pans quite yet (maybe the box of Raisin Bran), it does give me a renewed passion for blogging and hopefully providing you, my kind and gentle readers, something from time to time that might enrich and bring a bit of happiness to your lives.

Three's worth seeing.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Haunted Book Review Thursday

Animatronics: A Guide to Animated Holiday Displays

Edwin Wise, author

I am so mixed about this book that I don't know quite where to begin. On one hand, it's a great resource for adding motion to a haunt. This book shows you how to do things correctly, how a prop should be safely and sanely constructed. How you should correctly size up a motor to a prop and the formulas for each thereof...


I actually like this book but it is indeed how to do stuff RIGHT. As a resource book, it is indispensable; you have every motion that you can imagine laid out with how to do it electrically or pneumatically (with MATH), it shows you linkage diagrams and examples of different movements that can be achieved with each (with &%$#* MATH), and even goes into trigger mechanisms and programming basics (with &%$#*@*&%###!!! MATH!). But on the downside, there is a lot of MATH. If I were making a dark ride, working for an amusement park company or wanted to construct professional quality props for the public, then I would definitely do things by this book. Things are made solid, a bit over engineered but you would never have a problem.
Problem is, I'm a haunter and a lot of my props are by the seat of my pants. I made a ************* prop today that I haven't seen anywhere before and I did the mechanism with trial and error until it worked (sorry, I'm proud of this one, I'm not going to unveil it until I'm through with it). A lot of these props are made with advanced techniques like welding that would definitely put off the novice quickly. It does have a tutorial on the Flying Crank Ghost, but it was rather confusing, and I have built several of them.

In short, this is a good reference book that has a lot of good information that has saved me some time. On the bad side, if you constructed the props as instructed, you would be broke and it would be over engineered even by our standards. The REAL bad news is that this book is about 40.00, which is really high (I think that I lucked up on mine used on Amazon).

Bottom line, get it if you can get it cheap and you're serious about animation. Otherwise don't worry with it.

And one last thing, this guy didn't have pictures of his haunt! If you write a book on holiday displays and you don't even show your work, that's shameful!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Random thoughts on past props...

I'm usually alone all day in my work, which can be either a good or bad thing at times. Sometimes a neuron will misfire with an errant synapse and I'll remember something that I long forgot. For some reason today I remembered the first time that I became enamoured with Hallowe'en animatronics. It wasn't Disneyworld's Haunted Mansion but a simple county fair when I was around 8 or 9. I remember seeing this very simplistic witch prop on top of the haunted house ride (which mainly consisted of ear-shattering klaxons and some road-worn ghouls that the horror of lack of maintenance was the only scary thing), and all she did was rock (or rather bow from her waist) at the top of the ride. I don't know why I was so fascinated with her, maybe it was because she was a more attainable goal rather than attempting something like a grim grinning ghost. I remember my sketches, the thinking of how to make her bob back and forth via a motor. I never made her, I couldn't figure out the mechanics at the time. Now I would probably roll my eyes or look at her with a nostalgic sentimentality like some of us would do a 45 rpm record.
Fast forward to the 9th grade, my first real scare, unfortunately it was on my mother. I had made a short framework out of some giant Tinker Toys (the coolest gift I ever got as a kid) and put a rubber skull mask on it and draped a blanket around it. I hid it in the basement closet because my mother really didn't approve (and still doesn't, but I'm 45 and I will do what I dang well please now) of Hallowe'en. She opened the door one day while I was at school and found my little friend which did his job well...scared her silly. It was a good thing I was at school because she would have killed me if she could have gotten hold of me. I got away with mounting skeletons on plywood to pose them in the yard which was actually cutting edge back in the 70's I guess. I suppose that is one reason that I collect paper skeletons, remembrance of those projects back then.
There were other ghouls here and there around Hallowe'en but nothing special until the 90's where I was introduced to the Internet. Of course my first project was a flying crank ghost and it was poetry in motion to me. I would fill the front yard of my trailer with jack o' lanterns to an unappreciative audience, have bowls of the good candy waiting for the trick or treaters that never came (and I got to keep all the little bags of M & M's for myself). I was just the weird guy on the hill. Then I moved to where I live now and vowed to bring back Hallowe'en to kids that never knew the joy of it to now be greeted by being a "tradition" of many families to visit the "Halloween House" each year.

And it probably all started with that one rocking witch on top of a cheesy fair ride.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Getting a head in life, or death or other...

No, it didn't really make sense but I couldn't think of anything wittier. I have seen a lot of haunts and notice that a lot of them have a little trouble with heads and faces. I by no means am an expert but I have found something that might help some of you out there.
Consider the wig head form...
This is basically a head but what we usually need to do is to start from the inside out to make a different shape for a character's head. You have to dig out the eyes to insert eyes, cut and glue back to alter the shape of the face and adjusting the angle of the neck is usually difficult. Some people can do it, I can't. I suggest using a skull... The one of the left is a Bucky from Ebay. It's a 4th quality and more anatomically correct. Unless you're doing skeletal work or animation where you need to have the cranium to mount motors, I wouldn't use these; they're heavy, expensive to buy (the shipping is what gets you) and too pretty for overlaying clay or mache'. The skull on the right is from Kmart, or Michael's. It's styrofoam, reasonably anatomically correct and light as a feather. And cheap, I think that they're going for 5.99 at Michael's this season. I use these with great success. If you need an open mouth, simply saw between the teeth and the jaw connectors and re-hot glue it back where you want.

Now for the eyes, I found that Monsterguts sells small balls quite inexpensively that are the size of eyeballs. If you want, you can use small deodorant balls from roll on deodorant, they're the same thing.

Here it is painted with Krylon Fusion paint ready for gluing a retina and cornea. Here is a page of wonderfully diverse eyes for all occasions. I would recommend that you download and save this page on your hard drive, you'll always need eyes and you might forget the URL.

Now that we have our eyes, let's talk sculpting. Always keep in mind that beauty is infinity harder to create than a grotesque. Lucky for us, Hallowe'en is full of grotesque possibilities. I have a fondness for Model Magic by Crayola. I first saw Mike Fox use it with his creatures in the Fox Haunt and I was hooked.

It's fairly inexpensive, easy to use, extremely lightweight, dries overnight and paints wonderfully. I love playing with paper mache, but I'm not that good at it in getting smoother skin textures with it. Some people are artists with it, I'm not. I take a chunk and roll it through a pasta machine to make "skin". It works best to run it through several times to get it smooth. Glue your eyes in and then lay the skin on top and start to work...This is a prop that I'm working on to hide my fog machine and chiller. Smoke blows out his mouth and rolls along the ground...

A little paint and distressing and we're done!

Here's some of my other little friends that are ready to come out and play...