Saturday, December 31, 2011

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy

When it came down to it, the pressure to make the Christmas Day deadline trumped my desire to blog (and vlog) the complete build of my nutcrackers. While a lot of things I was able to photograph, time constraints really prevented me from doing updates (you'll notice a dearth of posts in December).

But I did manage to complete the nutcrackers in time for Christmas. Well, almost. Christmas morning I was actually still putting a few details on the king and they were still bald. They only got their hair this past week and I still have to complete the king's scepter and the soldier's sword. Time enough for that yet.

Overall, though, I was pleased with how they turned out, though I don't think I want to build another set any time soon.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Bah! Humbug!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Steam Punk Has Jumped the Shark

Although I love much of the literature upon which the genre is based, I never quite got the whole steam punk-Halloween relationship. For a costume, perhaps, but I never understood what it had to do with haunting. Of course, I guess one could ask, what does a Medieval castle have to do with haunting too, yet I completely buy into that.

Fortunately, 12th century fortresses haven't had to contend with the pure evil that is Justin Bieber. Not so lucky is what was once the fastest growing subculture. The former mop-haired crooner recently released a Christmas video with a decided steam punk flair to it, effectively and quite suddenly making it very uncool to be associated with it. Add in a dollop of Macy's Christmas windows being done up in genre finery as well and you've got the makings of a very mainstream movement.

For all of you that may have missed the Bieber-ing of steam punk, I give you The Video.

I'm also not sure what all the break dancing has to do with steam punk (or Christmas for that matter) or why Bieber felt the need to grab his crotch in a holiday video. In fact, I find the whole video a fairly ludicrous take on a cherished Christmas song. I have no problems with updating a song for modern tastes. A lot of very good music has been as a result of redoing a song. But this video is just dumb. Sure, the production values are good, the choreography is good -- I don't know if I can say the singing, really, is all that good -- but it's just a dumb Christmas video.

Not only has Justin Bieber ruined a holiday song, but he's also infuriated an entire subculture who will now be forced to find a new trend to lead to the forefront.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Haunt TV

That was the name I was going to use for a YouTube-based video show I was thinking of producing. It was actually the reason behind my wanting to build a 3-axis skull: I wanted a foil to interact with and a talking skull would be great. Fortunately, I don't have to worry about that anymore.

"Dead with Dave" is the name of a new Halloween and haunt-related video show that debuted today. I knew it was in the works and was awaiting it's premier, and now having seen it, can say with complete honesty it was worth the wait. Dave, from Pandemic Haunt Productions, has produced a slick, fun, and informative program that covers a variety of topics that are of interest to all of us. And at almost 14 minutes, it's easily digestible.

All too often YouTube videos are rather boring set pieces (I've made a few, so I know of whence I speak) but Dave brings good humor and current topics with quality production values. And the set is pretty cool too (I've actually seen it first hand).

The topics covered this time around include a review of a really neat home haunt (you'll have to watch to find out which one; a tribute to the Cauldron Creep prop with a look at a number of versions that have come out; and a discussion of the upcoming haunt shows.

So I thoroughly encourage everyone to head over to the first webisode and check out this effort, particularly since with the demise of Hauntcast us haunters are left in need of something to occupy our time.

Oh, and if Pandemic sounds familiar, that's because Dave is the same guy that will be joining with me and Jay (Frightguy, from Grimlock Manor) in leaping into the professional haunted attraction arena. But that doesn't color my judgment. If the show sucked, I'd probably just ignore it because I'll have to work with the guy for the next year. But it doesn't. Really, it's that good and I look forward to more webisodes in the future.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

You Hockey Puck!

As you may recall, myself, Frightguy from Grimlock Manor (Jay), and Dr. Death from Pandemic Cemetery (Dave) are joining together to put on a pro haunt to be held at Secaucus High School in 2012. Nominally a fundraiser for the school, we're not looking at it as "just a high school haunted house" but rather a venue where we can try our hand(s) at a pro-style haunt.

Today we met with the principal of Secaucus H.S., Dr. Bob, as well as some of the support staff that will be coordinating it on the school's end. While the first idea was to have half the gymnasium as the venue, it was then decided the new two-story foyer for their performing arts center -- yeah, my high school didn't have a performing arts center either -- would be a better location. While it did present some challenges (a 30-ft high wall of glass being one of them) it was definitely workable.

However, Dr. Bob offered a third alternative: the town's ice rink.

This isn't a small rink like you might find for roller hockey or something, this is a full-size -- NHL size -- rink! I just did a Google search and an NHL rink is 85 ft. wide by 200 ft. long, or 17,000 square feet total! The amazing aspect of this venue is that not only would would we have full use of the rink, but also the "midway" areas that surround the rink, the ticket booth foyer, the concession stands -- everything!

But wait, there's more! While that's almost too much space for us to fill, we would have immediate use of the space following the winter sports season. So we could start building early in the year and keep it stored right there under lock and key. And after the haunt was over, the high school has facilities to store all of the panels and props in trailers.

One last unique aspect of the rink is that it is adjacent to Route 3. Now anyone from out of state wouldn't realize what that means, but Jerseyans understand the incredible advertising opportunity this represents. The highway is a major, major highway heading into New York City and is one of the feeder highways to the New York Giants football stadium.

There's still a lot of work that needs to be done before we even get to that stage, but Dr. Bob seems like he is fully on board and supportive. So that means we need to come up with a professional presentation because it still needs to go through the Mayor's office (who is likely to be supportive) and the Township attorney's office (and we all know what sort of curmudgeons lawyers can be).

Halloween is apparently a big deal in Secaucus and the town comes out in full force. In past years when there was essentially little more than black plastic and kids yelling "Boo!" they had some pretty good turnouts. Hopefully, with a bit more professionalism and planning, we can far exceed those numbers -- and dollars raised.

After all, this is a fundraising event for the school. We're also approaching it as an educational opportunity for the students. They'll be able to learn construction and set design techniques as well as acting, makeup, costuming, lighting, sound, etc. All the things that go into creating a successful haunt.

Again, we're still in early stages but the situation has improved considerably and the stars certainly do seem aligned in our favor.

Keep an eye out here and on the vlogs of Grimlock Manor, Pandemic Cemetery, and my own Devil's Eve for more details and updates.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Nutcracker Update

I've begun my Nutcracker build for Christmas and figured I'd update you on its progress. The reader's digest version says I've cut my Sonotube in half, cut out two wooden discs and screwed them in place in the bottom of each half of the tube, attached the toilet flanges, cut and stuck the PVC legs on, and cut and hot glued the corrugated plastic fins on the bottom of the tube to give the appearance the belt has cinched the coat.

Sounds like it should have taken me 10 minutes, but as any haunter (or hobbyist even) knows, nothing goes as quickly as we plan or like. Those few steps above took me two days. Admittedly I'm not moving at a blistering pace (and I'm battling a cold -- and losing!) but it is progressing and thus far looks as I pictured it. But there's plenty of time to screw that up. But below are some progress pictures.

Sonotube cut in half for torso

PVC pipe, to be cut into legs

Toilet flanges, to attach legs to torso

Cutting out the MDF discs to fit in tubes

Two discs cut

Drilling the tube to secure disc with screws

Hole and tube drilled

Disc attach, now placing flanges

Flanges attached

Nutcrackers doing a handstand

Shark fins

One fin attached

22 fins attached...ready for liftoff!

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