Sunday, January 30, 2011

Zombie Love

There was tulip mania. There was the Nifty Fifty. We had the tech bubble, the housing bubble, and Beanie Baby mania. I think we're in the middle of a "Zombie Bubble."

Don't get me wrong, I love zombies (and I find the Zombie Research Society a humorous outpost), but this sudden explosion of zombie-ism means it's going to crash faster than you can say "penny stock." Maybe it's being spawned by the success of The Walking Dead, but I was in Barnes & Noble last night and there was a plethora of zombie lit on the shelves. And not just books like World War Z and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, it was an infestation of zombie love books.

"Everybody Eats Somebody Sometime: A Book of Zombie Love Songs." Really? There's also "Hungry for Your Love: An Anthology of Zombie Romance," "Dark Love," "Love is Dead," and "Zombie Love" (though "Zombie Bitches from Hell" sounds like my house).

I checked on B&N's website just now and there are over 700 hits for zombie titles. Sure, some are repeats, but I'm not sure there's been another time where we've been so infatuated with the undead. Most, of course, look they're crap, but some actually look interesting as if they'd hold my attention for more than five minutes. Most having been written between 2009 and today, it's obviously a sudden flare up of zombie adoration. My concern is that just as quickly it will die out and not be resurrected again for some time. If we could just get rid of all the goofball titles I'd be happy.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lego Haunted House

Although most (all?) of us gave up playing with Legos when we were kids, artist Mike Doyle believes you can still create masterpieces with them, such as his "Three Story Victorian with Tree" creation.

Using around 50,000 assorted Lego pieces and putting in around four months of work (that's dedication!), Mike created the house that he's photographed and offers prints of. It's a limited edition run of just 500 prints, and they sell for $50 each, plus shipping and handling. He's also created another structured called "Two Story with Basement" that looks as though it's snow-covered. Again, all out of Legos. The houses are part of a collection he's creating of abandoned buildings.

You can see some various stages of construction at his blog Snap. I want one.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Oh, the Humanity!

After waiting four months for the next NJ/PA Make & Take meeting that was scheduled for tomorrow, it turns out it's being cancelled! The horror! Seems half the people were too sick to make, the weather's threatening more snow, and the prospects for getting snowbound were great. I'm missin' my haunting buddies and was looking forward to the meet to get me charged up again to start building.

Well, this is what I've got to say to more snow:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Calling LizardKing97051...

Be on the lookout for a haunter named LizardKing97051. He won a one-year subscription to Hauntcast but  I don't have any contact information for him to let him know the details. As the next podcast is due out in two days, I'd like to make sure he's got his subscription in order so that he can listen in.

Maybe it was the picture of that creepy chick cheering that I used on the post announcing he won that scared him away. But, if you see a LizardKing lurking about, please give him a nudge and have him drop me a note with his email address so I can get him hooked up.

And stay tuned for the next Hauntcast subscription giveaway coming in February! Hopefully the crowd won't be as thick as it was last time.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dead Letter File

Here's what I've been working on to while away the hours in the dead of winter: a crypt mailbox.

It's based on a mailbox one of my fellow haunters at the NJ/PA Make & Take group made last year. Tinman's mailbox is awesome in its craftsmanship, as well as the overall effect of it being carried on the shoulder of a ghost. You can see the many stages involved in building his mailbox over at his Photobucket site.

After suppressing my initial desire to grab it and run off with it, I knew that I wanted to build one too. But I didn't want to just rip off his design completely, and began casting about for ideas on how to change it up. When I saw the Davis Graveyard's new crypt prop last year, however, I knew the direction I wanted to head in.

It took a good week to build, much longer than the baby block toy chest I posted previously. For both projects the main time killer is waiting for the glue to dry. I typically build with biscuit joints and glue and don't use too many nails. One thing I did realize after these projects -- I need to get more clamps!

Here are a few more angles of my crypt mailbox.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tune In, Turn On...

The deadline for my Hauntcast subscription giveaway is upon us! As you may recall, I offered to give an annual subscription to the web's best Halloween and haunting podcast to two people who commented on the post. The response was tremendous and nearly shut down the servers: three (count 'em!) people posted comments!

It became a difficult decision to make, so I decided to take the easy way out: All three of them will get a year's subscription! Yes, I know, I'm great like that.

The winners are:


Congratulations, winners! If you three can drop me an email at I need a few pieces of information from you to set up your accounts. You know, names of first born, bank account numbers, Social Insecurity numbers, etc. Okay, maybe nothing so personal, but as soon as I get the info I will send it along to our Hauntcast g/host Chris Baker, and we'll get you hooked up so you can start listening right away.

And for those of you who missed the opportunity, you can still head over to Hauntcast and sign yourself up. While a six-month subscription is available, the one-year one for $12 is a better bargain, and if you want discounts from a number of top-notch Halloween and haunt vendors, check out the Dungeon Masters level.

Once again, you three, congratulations!


Monday, January 17, 2011

Let's Get It On

I haven't been doing much of anything Halloween related lately. While I had started building a new prop right after I put my 2010 display away, the approach of Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then all the freakin' snow chilled my drive, and my new groundbreaker has been sitting on my workbench waiting for me to return.

But I'm getting in the mood again (cue some Marvin Gaye music). While not haunt related, this weekend I built a toy box for a cousin's upcoming baby shower next month and I've got two more I still have to do. They all have spring hinges to prevent the lids from slamming down on little fingers, and all the edges have been rounded over to minimize the chance for cuts, scrapes, and bruises. "O" is for Olivia while the reverse side has a butterfly. The other two will have the letter "B" for her last name and a "1," respectively, to represent this is her first child.

And at the end of the month the NJ/PA Make & Take group will be meeting where a secret Santa gift exchange will take place. I have a special item in mind I want to build and will tackle that beginning tomorrow (can't tell you what it is just yet).

The toy box got me out of my lethargy, though, and I'm hoping the project I'll be working on next for the M&T will get me going again for Halloween. Now where did I put my glue gun?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What if you held a contest...

...and no one came?

I realize I'm not a blog that has the biggest following, but I am surprised that I haven't had anyone respond to my post announcing that I wanted to give away two one-year subscriptions to Hauntcast, the best Halloween-related podcast on the 'Net. Now it is possible that those who have read my post have already subscribed so there was no need to do so again, but I'd like to think there is someone who would like to be introduced to Hauntcast but is a little leery about signing up on their own.

A free subscription would allow you to do just that. So how do you qualify to win? Just post a comment on the original contest post (making sure you provide some way for me to contact you), and that's it. No muss, no fuss.

The contest is scheduled to end this Wednesday, January 19, so there is still time to win...and since there's been a dearth of comments already (thanks anyway, Shell and JT!) your chances of winning are really excellent!

Should the contest expire without anyone commenting, though, I'll simply donate what would otherwise have been the subscription costs to Hauntcast and if they have a worthy listener they'd like to bestow a subscription on they can do so. But, really, it would be much better to win it on your own. So make believe this is a Chicago election and vote early, vote often.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Exorcist Files

Damn! I thought the Catholic Church was going all reality TV, teaming up with the Discovery Channel to fight and cast out demons where ever they may be found.

According to the original reports in Entertainment Weekly, The Vatican signed off on a show with the church's real exorcists to tell stories of their battles with the dark side. While it seems like the show would be recreations of "actual" exorcisms, rather than watching Fathers Merrin and Karras wage war against Linda Blair on live TV, it still seemed a bit of bizarre programming for the church to be involved in.

Now the Los Angeles Times is reporting The Vatican isn't actually an active participant in the show -- the Pope hasn't given it his blessing so to speak -- but they haven't disavowed it either. It is a far cry however from the imprimatur Discovery initially said the church had given the program. The TV executives now say they only met in an unofficial capacity with Vatican staff and never intended to imply it was "sanctioned" by the church.

I'm not much into dramatizations of real events as it is, much preferring the real thing itself, so I doubt I would have watched it anyway. Now there's even less reason to do so. Besides, I thought we just had The Last Exorcism in the movies?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Inside the Zombie Brain

What makes a zombie tick? Why does a decaying body reanimate -- but not brain function, except for an overwhelming desire to eat non-dead human flesh?

If these questions have been rotting a hole in your (non-zombified) brain, then get yourself over to Nerd Nite in San Francisco, where the Zombie Research Society's Dr. Bradley Voytek, a real-life neuroscientist at UCLA - Berkeley, and Dr. Timothy Verstynen, another neuroscientist at the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition in Pittsburgh, will discuss the leading research into what makes a zombie a zombie.

The talk is titled "Scanning the Zombie Brain" and will consist of 50% academic "what-if" and 50% tongue-in-cheek critique of the methods of modern neuroscience.

Nerd Nite is being held on Wednesday, January 19, at Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St. and Van Ness, San Francisco.

This is the kind of information we need to know, particularly since the zombie apocalypse is becoming an all-too real possibility.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Now, Free Stuff!

I've been slacking in the Halloween arts department since our holiday ended. But I'm slowly coming out of my funk and have been moved to make my first giveaway contest (cue golf claps)!

I was inspired by reading a post on ShellHawk's Nest about her giveaway contest, so I decided to do one too. As I just posted (that's another first -- since I started blogging I've never posted twice in the same day, though I've missed plenty of days in between), my favorite monthly podcast Hauntcast is in danger of going dark never to be resurrected from the grave again, if enough haunters don't subscribe for the piddling sum of $1 a show (that's $12 a year for those of you without an abacus at home).

ShellHawk is making the generous offer of giving away two subscriptions to the podcast (along with a chance to win some of her handcrafted creations). Now she's a part of the show, so maybe it's a little self-serving on her behalf to do so, but I figured why not have an unaffiliated fan with nothing more at stake than his own aural enjoyment make a similar offer (sans the fancy handmade crafts)?

Thus, I'm also willing to give away two annual subscriptions to Hauncast. Just by commenting on this post, you could be one of two people to win a paid subscription to the 'Net's best podcast.

I read Shell's rules, but I don't have all that fancy Facebook stuff (well I do, but I don't link this blog there) and I couldn't figure out how to tell if someone new started following my blog (but go ahead and do so if you want), so I won't put too many conditions on this contest. Of course, if you want to tell others about it by posting it on the various forums and sites you frequent, feel free to do that too.

ShellHawk's contest is ending this Wednesday (January 12), and mine will run for a week after that, till the 19th. Anyone who posts here will be eligible to win. So here's the rules:

  • Comment on this post on or before January 19
  • Win (maybe)

You should also be sure that your comment has some means for me to identify who you are. Anonymous posts are cool and all, but they're a bear to figure out to whom they belong.

For what it's worth, or for those who are wondering, I don't get anything out of this, other than the chance to help ensure Hauntcast stays on the air. I enjoy it that much that I'm willing to sponsor two subscriptions to the show for a year. Call me selfish, but I'm doing it to ensure my own listening pleasure.

Without creating any obligations on anyone else, perhaps other haunters who also enjoy the show and have already paid their subscription fees might be willing to sponsor another haunter through a giveaway of their own. Obviously not everyone will do so, but there is the potential to double (at least) the paid listening audience.

So if you missed out on a chance to win ShellHawk's contest, then consider this your second-chance drawing.

Got Stuff?

Halloween stuff, that is, and want to get rid of it? Or maybe you're looking to get more stuff. Then Halloween Overload is just what you're looking for.

I got an email today from the guys at Garage of Evil touting this new "Craigslist for Haunters" site and it looks intriguing. You can post Halloween-related items, from props to fog machines, lights to music CDs, and offer them for sale. Alternatively, if your garage, storage shed, crawl space, and basement isn't already filled to overflowing, you can scour the ads looking for items to buy. I registered right away.

The site's just starting out so it's still thin on inventory, but some of the props for sale look kinda cool (like this full size mummy, pricey though it is). More items are being added to it as I just checked in and there are already several more props for sale. This could be a cool way for haunters to recycle their props that they might otherwise throw away, and maybe make a few bucks in the process.

A Scream Out, Not a Hand Out
And speaking of stuff, I got my new Hauntcast t-shirt last week after signing up for the one-year subscription. As you know, our beloved g/host Chris Baker has converted the home-haunter's podcast to a pay-per-show model (c'mon, it's only $1 a show for 2 hours of awesomeness!), but I fear it may not last much longer if more haunters don't subscribe. Chris put out a video today that lays out pretty clearly the financial side of the business many of us who enjoy the show probably never think about. We listen, absorb, and love him for the quality offered, but never make the connection that 80 hours a month is a lot of time to put in for no remuneration. As he notes, he's clearly not making a profit off of the effort -- unless you consider $3.10 an hour a "profit."

It would be a real shame if Hauntcast disappeared because the show really is that great. I know a bunch of haunters have said they've stepped up and subscribed and I hope more haunters will agree we need Hauntcast on the air. Maybe if we had Sarah McLachlan singing "Angel" and a bunch of sad-eyed puppies looking forlornly at the screen, more people will be moved to contribute.

Unfortunately I have no obvious talents to offer Chris to help him further his show, and no bank account deep enough to be his patron. Still, the collective power of individual effort can help Hauntcast stay on the air. I'm counting on haunters to realize this is a show worth keeping. Stay scary, Chris. I'm looking forward to many more shows.
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