Friday, September 30, 2011

Bicycle Girl

Like many people, I became an instant fan of the TV series The Walking Dead after it premiered on AMC last October. It's been a long wait for the second season, but it's set to air on October 16. Count me amongst those eagerly anticipating its return.

However, there's an interesting side project being developed, a six-episode series surrounding Bicycle Girl, the half zombie dragging herself across the ground that Rick Grimes meets when he first gets out of the hospital.

The webisodes, to be shown on AMC's website, will follow Bicycle Girl's life prior to her zombification up until the point she is dispatched by Grimes. Best yet, it will start this coming Monday, October 3. I'll be tuning in for certain!

Below is a time-lapse session of the actress getting into her Bicycle Girl makeup.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Theater of the Mind

I attended a wedding over the weekend at the Loew's Jersey City Theater, a landmark movie theater that opened its doors almost 82 years ago to the day, September 28, 1929. The grandeur and splendor of this movie palace cannot be overstated, and it's said that a young Frank Sinatra, on a date at the theater to watch Bing Crosby, decided that he too could be a singer.

The ornate details, marble columns, gold leaf, wrought iron artwork, and soaring ceilings -- an amazing 80 feet high in the theater -- are stunning.

It was built for $2 million, back when $2 million was real money and not just a rounding error for our politicians, and was deemed "the most lavish temple of entertainment in New Jersey."

Now at some point it seems some owner had attempted to carve up the theater into at least two, because there are still repairs visible in the theater itself that show where a wall was apparently erected. Thankfully it has been taken down and plaster repairs made.

Today, as grand as the theater looks, it is in need of major repair and subsists on donations and volunteers,  who, through the Friends of Loew's, meet each weekend  at the theater and work on restoring it to its former glory. Rental of the theater -- like for the wedding -- starts at $3,000. It's certainly a fascinating and stunning edifice to a long lost era.

Below are some of the photos I took of the theater, but a good time to go see it yourself, particularly next month as on October 27-29 they'll be showing three different movies, including the 1920 silent classic "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," complete with theater organ accompaniment.

Oh, and yes, they do leave the "ghost light" burning.

This is for you, Revenant, at Hauntcast

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Don't Fear the Reaper

I was able to finish my Secret Reaper gift yesterday so it was boxed up and shipped off to my Halloween Forum "victim." Because I was waylaid by my illness last week I was unable to add some finishing details that I wanted to include, such as gothic windows and a detailed verdigris-charged door.

Still, on the whole I was pleased with how it turned out, though I would have liked a little more time to work on the painting of it. Yet as I was over the Saturday-deadline for shipping I had to let it go as is. I hope my victim likes it.

I was also pleased to discover a big black box on my front porch yesterday with a lot of eyes looking out at me. Obviously it was my own secret reaper gift, but because I was running out the door to ship my gift before the post office closed, I had to wait to till later in the day before I could open it.

I'll be posting pictures over on Halloween Forum, but it was a nice assortment of spider-themed gifts include a large posable spider, one which my wife had actually wanted to get last year, tow homemade spider sacks, a bag of "bloody" spider wedding, and a handmade jack-o-lantern. All in all a very nice assortment. Thanks very much AmFatallyYours for the thoughtful gifts. They will be a terrific addition to my decor this year.

I also checked with my local Walgreen again, and they finally had one 5-foot skeleton in stock. They were actually pretty good about checking the boxes they had literally just wheeled onto the floor to begin unpacking and I have to say these skeletons have some nice detail to them compared to your typically blucky. I can see some good corpsing potential with it. It's funny how people react to you when you're walking around with a skeleton in your hands.

Unfortunately today I'm traveling to Virginia for a two-day conference so I'll be unavailable to make the go rounds up here, but I'll check in with my rebel brothers and see if they've begun stocking them there yet.

Below are some of the final pictures of my completed mausoleum mailbox, though because I was hurrying I was unable to take more pictures of the construction and finishing process.

Monday, September 19, 2011

No Skeletons In The Closet

Or at Walgreen. Like any good haunter would, I stopped at the local Walgreen on my way home from the hospital yesterday to check if they had any skeletons in stock. Okay, I had to put my prescription in at the pharmacy too, but I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone.

The manager gave me some hope when he offered to go in the back and look, but alas and alack! no skeletons were found. He did helpfully add that his next shipment was coming in on Tuesday and he thought they'd be on that truck.

I hit two other pharmacies in the area, also with no luck. Both said they had come in yet, which was hopeful, because it means they haven't run out of stock yet. So I still might be able to round up some yet.

The offerings were actually pretty meager at two of the three stores. The third one, a larger Walgreen in Paterson (the site of all that awesome flooding after Hurricane Irene, and "awesome" being used in the correct sense of inciting awe in someone) actually had quite a lot of props on their shelves. I picked up the two resin skulls for $6 each, which I thought was a good price for the detail and durability they showed. My wife also wanted a scene-setter so we got one of those too (and she picked up two small witch dolls today while out; boy, she sure does like her Halloween "cute").

I'll also say I was in a Wal-Mart today and I thought its Halloween section was pretty dismal. It had a bunch of costumes, row upon row of candy, a few foam tombstones, but not much more. Sure it had a couple of foggers out (and one nice skull fogger that I was tempted to pick up) but not much more. Truly slim pickin's. Maybe more will be coming in soon, like at Walgreen, but I recall there being a lot more last year.

Anyway, tomorrow I'll be heading back out to the local stores and seeing if the new shipment's arrived.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

That's Tubular, Man -- Not!

Notice something a little odd about that picture to the right? I mean, besides the obvious that I'm taking pictures of toilet paper rolls in the bathroom? There's no tube! That's right, the cardboard tube that has proven so useful to haunters in making candles, paper mache body extensions, etc. is fast becoming a thing of the past.

I've seen some TV commercials touting the tube-less TP roll, but this is the first one I've actually seen in nature, so to speak. It's a bit distressing really, since I rely on these tubes for so many projects. But it brings to mind several other haunter's helpers that we're likely to see disappear sooner or later, including the incandescent bulb and newspapers.

Of course it's the dim bulbs in Congress have brought about the demise of the ubiquitous and utilitarian light bulb, moving the technology on to LED light (compact fluorescent lighting [CFLs], are really a transitional technology). Yet a study was just released showing that prolonged exposure to white LED lights is not healthy because it doesn't help the body produce melatonin. So it looks like politicians have forced us to replace one option due to "environmental" concerns but gave us one that will produce health problems. The Law of Unintended Consequences when Congress is in session strikes again!

But it's the advent of the Digital Age that will bring about the newspaper's eventual end. While I don't actually expect to see newspapers cease publishing in the next few years, or maybe in my lifetime (though, with the way I'm going these days, that may be one and the same), it's easy to see with the Internet providing a primary source for news and with mobile communication devices becoming more prevalent and useful in delivering news now, today -- and not a day after it's occurred, let alone a week later -- the clock is ticking on newsprint.

Which makes me wonder where us prop builders will get our materials from in the future to make paper mache? Oh, there will be other papers to use -- a full roll of TP (without the cardboard tube) -- will be helpful. Magazines will be around, though the glossy paper is less than optimal, and kraft paper too will be there. But the unique properties of newsprint will be sorely missed I think.

Haunters being the resourceful bunch we (you) are, I'm sure satisfactory alternatives will be found. But as when any tried and true method, product, or way of life is supplanted with something new and modern, perhaps we should bow our heads a moment in contemplation of their passing.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Serious As a Heart Attack

I was just reading the blog Something wicKED This Way Comes..., and saw Ked scored three bluckies from drugstore chain Walgreen. In case you haven't heard, Walgreen is offering relatively realistic looking skeletons for just $30 a piece.

I've been keeping an eye out on my local stores, regularly making the rounds but to no avail. They only started putting the candy out. I had intended to go ask store personnel on my next go-round if they had them in the back and that I'd be willing to buy them all up, but I got sidetracked.

While working on the finishing touches of my Secret Reaper gift, my head started buzzing really loud and a short time later I became feverish. My chest then felt constricted and I was all dizzy. Being a typical guy I ignored it and continued working, but did monitor my blood pressure which was pretty elevated. All day long these feelings came in waves and though I thought the possibility of a heart attack was there, I continued to ignore the advice of others to get checked out. But when my blood pressure hit 213/157 I decided I better go to the hospital.

The paramedics gave me a shot of nitroglycerin under the tongue, which does wonders for slowing down your heart rate, but also gives you a blistering headache. The ER staff at the local hospital was wonderful (and they have Internet access for patients at each bed!) and after a battery of tests it appeared I wasn't having a heart attack after all. However, my temp was 103 degrees and they wouldn't release me till they found the cause. After much bitchin' and moanin' on my part, I agreed since the doctor said it was just overnight for observations.

Don't believe 'em! The next day rolled around and with a low grade fever still present, they said they needed to know why I was sick. Of course I grumbled some more, but apparently it was good they kept me here. I had a case cellulitis in my left leg and it was quickly swelling and spreading up my thigh. It was apparently what was causing my fever and high blood pressure. They said it could have come from a bug bite or some open scratch, but apparently all sorts of terrible things can happen if it's not treated.

Unfortunately that means I won't be able to leave the hospital till Sunday the earliest, or Monday. It also means I won't be able to scour the local Walgreens for the bluckies, which is probably the most distressing development. No doubt I'll lose out on this great deal (I hear the bluckies sell out immediately after being put out) but I'll still have my health, right? And that's better, right? Right?! I'm having a hard time convincing myself that's the case.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Simple Is As Simple Does

Unfortunately, simple tends not to be my strong smoot. Why do it simple when you can vastly complicate your life by making things more complex?

Such is the case with the mausoleum mailbox I'm making for my Secret Reaper victim. It could have been a simple box with a mail slot, but instead I chose to put the slot on the long side underneath a columned portico. That "simple" portico ended up costing me two days worth of time as I tried to figure out the correct angles to cut (and no, I never did find the answer).

Again, I could have left it at that, but then I chose to detail the structure with a stone facade and a sarcophagus within. Each of those details has taken time. While I'm liking the result very much (would it be rude not to send the mailbox at the end?) I know I'm going to be working right up until the shipping deadline this Saturday. I've started some of the finishing, but the large majority will actually be done tomorrow and even then I'm not sure it will be complete.

Because as I go along, I'm thinking of some extra details to add. I think a gothic-style window on either end would look real nice as would an ornate carved door entrance to the mausoleum. And naturally you'd need stone steps to reach the door.

As I said, why do things simply when complex is standing there staring you in the face?

The dreadful portico
The sarcophagus
The stonework
Dry-fitting the columns

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dead Letter File

Well, it's not like I haven't been doing anything since my last post. It's just that I haven't been doing Halloween stuff, or at least not completely.

I've been making decorations for the Alice in Wonderland-themed Sweet 16 party I mentioned previously (I've got two mushrooms made and I'm working on Absalom the caterpillar) while at the same time I'm building my Secret Reaper gift.

Since we're all friends here and I know you can keep a secret, I'm building my "victim" a mailbox. Some of you may remember that for the NJ Make & Take group last year I built my victim Karen (Black Cat on the Haunt Forum discussion boards) a mailbox based on the sarcophagus made by the Davis Graveyard.

I had considered doing that again, but quickly discarded the idea in favor of making a mausoleum mailbox. It will have gabled ends and a columned portico in front through which you place and retrieve the mail. At least that's the game plan. Figuring out the angles is a bear!

I've done some framing in my time, building garages, sheds, and various storage buildings, but I swear I must have roofing Alzheimer's because every time it comes to framing a roof I have to break out my reference books to figure out the angles. With this project, the angles are even more difficult because it's a compound cut I have to make on the portico. The addition I'll be adding is called a "California Valley," which explains a lot, but it's also known as a "blind valley." If anyone has done roofing and doesn't need to refer to books constantly to figure out the angles (or even if you do) and you can give me the quick and easy way to determine the angle, I'll love you forever.

Anyway, here are some progress pics. It's made out of MDF so it's pretty heavy and is joined together with biscuit joints. Shipping this thing ought to cost a small fortune as I'm thinking it's not going to fit into one of those flat-rate Postal Service boxes.

I'll actually be posting a vlog or two on the beginning of this project, but I decided time is too short and I have too many projects to do to fiddle around with a video camera right now. So I'll try to keep a regular camera on hand to snap some progress pics, but video will have to wait till I have more time.

Laying out the gables (no rise and run for me!)
Carcass pieces cut to size
Carcass glued together - nice mess!
(But see the lead picture of this blog post
for it all sanded smooth and clean)
Drying after a coat of spar varnish
Gluing up the mail slot door
Yes, it will have a sarcophagus too, inside the mailbox!
Related Posts with Thumbnails
/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */