Monday, October 4, 2010

I'm back to my stalking

ways again. 

Welcome my fellow bloggers a little frog queen folly I like to call "meet the Halloween obsessed blogger" - and I mean that in the nicest way :)


This is opportunity for you to learn more about your favorite Halloween"ish" bloggers and me to get more information from them without making it look like the stalker that I am.

Our next victim, err, I mean volunteer is none other than the famous Mr. Macabre.  Let the merriment begin!!

I know we have all been dying to find out how yet another seemingly normal person become obsessed with Halloween?

Who said I was normal?! Somebody been spreading rumors about me again!? Who was it!? Oh, you said ‘seemingly’ normal, that’s quite ok, that implies some sort of deception which is quite flattering.

No, I don't understand either
Mary Kay eye cream gone bad!

It's a gift, albeit a dark one

Well, considering that I grew up a scardy cat, I don’t really know. I have always been drawn to the dark, the mysterious and the paranormal for some reason. As a child, I was scared of my own shadow but there was something safe about Halloween to me. My folks would carve a pumpkin in the traditional triangle eyes and nose with a toothy grin and go with me trick or treating. There was a bunch of family togetherness and a closeness as we went to Halloween carnivals at the school, trick or treating and even picking out my cheesy Ben Cooper or Collegeville costume from the local dime store. I guess that I’m holding on to those wonderful memories and feelings that I grew up with and want to share them.

There are a whole lot of other holidays, why the obsession with Halloween decorating?

Have you EVER tried to decorate the yard for National Lumpy Rug Day (May 3)?! Believe me, it’s not easy!

In this age, people are more “concrete” minded: don’t believe in what you can’t see, nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel, quit being silly and grow up sort of nonsense! Do not believe in ghosts! It’s silly to believe in ghosts! Straighten up and fly right! In which I ask, “Do you believe in ghosts? Would you like to?” Would you like to, just for a moment, suspend your beliefs and believe that The Final Unresting Place Cemetery is real? Just for a second, would you like to believe that a witch flies above your head or that a ghost floats silently around gravestones? Just for a moment, would you want to believe in magic?

That’s why I obsess with Halloween, it’s magical. People NEED to believe in magic, the unknown, the strange, the wonderful, and the ethereal; people NEED Halloween!

How long have you been haunting?

Technically I’ve been haunting for around 10 years or so when I made my first scarecrow to put in the yard but officially I started in 2004 when I moved into my home and started terrorizing the neighborhood, so I’ve been putting the life back into the afterlife since 2004.

What was the first prop you ever made?

The first prop that I made nearly got me killed at the hands of my mother! I had some giant (I mean HUGE) Tinker Toys in the late 1970’s. I made a framework out of them one day and put an old glowing skull mask on it, a rubber outstretched rubber hand before draping it with an old blanket. It was like a little hunchback ghoul. I had the bright idea to stick him in a closet downstairs in the basement where I was sure that he wouldn’t be found…I thought. Apparently while at school one day, he was found, by my mother who let me have it when I got off the school bus when I got home! He had done his job, scared her half to death while she was looking for something.

I still secretly have a self-satisfied smile to myself when I think about it.

My first “official” prop was a flying crank ghost, Rachael. I used to watch her over and over as she floated gently up and down; I never got tired of it and still don’t even though she’s gone through various incarnations. That was what got me bitten by the animatronics bug!

Tell us your favorite thing about haunting?

This sounds corny but the kids are my favorite thing. I love seeing kid’s faces (and adults) as they look at the cemetery in awe/wonder/amazement. I truly want them to have fond memories of Halloween as a wonderful family time full of happiness, make-believe, laughter, spookiness and disemboweled zombies with gaping jaws lurching forward to chew through their tender flesh in vain attempts to satiate their endless hunger.

Just seeing if you’re paying attention or not.

What prop are you the most proud of?

That’s like asking which child do you love the most, you really can’t answer that question easily! I would guess it would be Harry the Hitcher, from Doug Ferguson’s Hitcher design. Harry debuted 4 years ago and didn’t have any pants on and my facial sculpting skills, well, were a bit raw (use a foam skull kiddies, makes it a whole lot easier!). But he got in the yard and was hitching sans pants. Now, he’s fully clothed and dapper as ever.

How much of the display do you change every year and when do you start planning?

First yard haunt at first house


I’m an adder, meaning I add something each year. My goal is to add at least 2 or 3 new ‘major’ props each year. I have some props from day one that will always be here but some get facelifts, different mechanics as I learn more about machinery, things like that. Right now, there is a stylistic change that is going on, an almost “cartoon” change in which the characters are being changed to more comical, less menacing, more benign style to accommodate my youngest visitors with hopefully enough sophistication to make the teenagers still think it’s cool. I start planning usually around February but my burst of steam usually comes around September.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Weirdly enough, I depend on Divine inspiration a lot of times. An idea will sometimes just pop into my head and then I try to figure out how to make it happen. Other times I see a prop from another haunt and change it to fit the character of my haunt (some call this PLAGERISM but I prefer ‘creative adaptation from another source’).

New ideas for 2010? Are you trying something you have never done before?

I have several new props, including a piano playing ghost, a coffin with someone trying to get out, a rocking tombstone and the séance table.

I have an idea for a prop called the Danse Macabre that I have been working out the bugs for literally years that would show two full apparition waltzing ghosts whirling and twirling around together in a huge circle and they would fade in and out via ultraviolet light. I have a feeling that it would be a beautiful piece. That’s going to have to be tried next year, or maybe the next….or the next…..

Most valuable piece of advice you would give to a fellow haunter?

Two words…be yourself. Haunt who you are and for heaven’s sakes, DON’T compare yourself with other haunters. There are some that I consider masters of the haunt, Pumpkinrot, Brent Ross, Terror Syndicate, Vile Things, Davis Graveyard, and Tim Doggett of the Hallowed Haunting Grounds for some. There are innovators, like Scott Axeworthy, creator of the Axeworthy Flying Ghost and of course, Doug Ferguson of Phantasmechanics, father of the Flying Crank Ghost as well as several other wonderful haunt creations. And then there’s me, a slightly goofy, 46 year old nostalgic kid-at-heart that has his own style of haunting: comedic, animated, and a little old school.

When I started haunting several years ago, I tried to copy other's style and couldn't do it, or rather, shouldn't have done it but I didn't know better. I was going for horror, the gruesome and it just didn't work for me; it’s not my personality. To make a long story short, I went with what felt right to me: playful, happy and more whimsical with a dark twist. Find your own style and go with it.

Tell us your favorite yard haunt story.

I think that it would have to be my perennial favorite Kitty Litter Buried Treasure story. I give out candy but I also make Kitty Litter Buried Treasure (take a NEW UNUSED cat litter pan and scoop and fill with 2 boxes of Grape Nuts cereal [the generic brands are even better]. Melt a large Tootsie Roll for about 10 seconds in the microwave and let hang over the side [pinch the tip for extra realism], kitty missed that time! Fill with chocolate ‘bridge mix’ [nut clusters, raisins and other yummies covered in chocolate]). When I got a particular kid in the crowd that was going to be a little pain, I would scoop out some of the bridge mix from the ‘cat litter’ and offer it to him. Neither the children nor the adults could get past the ‘kitty buried treasure’ and I had a few get grossed out, especially when one of my 8 cats would stroll by!

How did you get started blogging and long have you been blogging?

I started blogging Thurday October 23, 2008 with no idea what I was doing. I wanted to simply do a Halloween journal sort of thing I guess and it ended up a mish-mash of Southern weirdness, recipes, how-to’s and rant and ravings at times.

Favorite thing about blogging?

Two words…the people. I have met some of the nicest, kindest and most interesting people through blogging. The other thing is sharing what I know to others. It makes us all better people when we share.

Okay, I won't put you on the spot about your favorite blogs. But are there any blogs you want to recommend that maybe not all of us know?

These are some blogs that I have just run across that I have recently found:

http://goneferalinid.blogspot.com/

http://johnnysghost.blogspot.com/

http://ghoststoriesandhauntedplaces.blogspot.com/

http://beautifulhalloween.blogspot.com/

http://theskullpumpkin.blogspot.com/

http://creepyvegan.blogspot.com/

http://theembalmersnightmare.blogspot.com/

Like me I hear you are none too fond of spiders. Any childhood changing story behind that?

*Shudder* I can’t stand spiders and unfortunately, no, it’s just a deep-seated phobia that I have. I do not like them in my house, I do not like them by a mouse, I do not like them on my chair, I do not like spiders anywhere! My worst spider story is that one night I felt something on my arm while I was in bed. I casually swatted it off and went back to dreamland. Upon wakening, I see this HUGE house tarantula on the floor dead where I had undoubtedly hit it. I then go change my underwear from where I soiled them.

Spiders are Satan’s attempts at creation. (agreed!)

Book reviews! There are not enough of those especially for us haunters. What made you decide to do reviews as part of your blog?

I have a ton of books, DVD’s and magazines that about 90% aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. It’s sad! And I’m not saying that all books have to be a spectacular affair in haunting like How to Haunt Your House 1 & 2, one of my favorite books is a traditional one on how to decorate country style. But some are just lame! I want to make sure no one else makes my mistakes and waste their hard earned cash on these books!

I saw that amazing costume on your blog, so how long have you been sewing? How did you get started?

I have been sewing since I was 12 so that would make me sewing about 10 years. Yeah, 10 years, that’s the ticket…

I have been sewing since I was 12 (so that makes 34 years [hot bitter tears runs down his ruddy cheek]) and am self taught but I did take sewing in high school and in college. It started with a love of costuming that evolved into making Halloween costumes. I’ve sewn civilian Civil War reenactment costumes, my best friend’s 18th century ballgown/wedding dress, various historical costumes and a Beauty and the Beast costume that involved hand beading a huge stand-up collar. That’s why people say I am the way I am, I’ve lost it long long ago.

I’ve done drag…twice, those were my favorite costumes to sew. Once I went as Xena, Warrior Princess with a patent leather bustier and skirt (do you know how hard it is to find a bustier pattern for a man in a fabric store?!) and another time a glamorous witch named Miss Bea Haven.

And no, I was not drunk nor on illegal substances at any time, both times I was stone cold sober.

And, on top of sewing you cook? Even making your own cheese? How did this obsession start? (And it can stop with that chocolate covered bacon! :D )

Ingredients for cookies that were given out
Self-preservation! No cook, no eat! I love to cook and when I cook I mess up every single cup, bowl, spoon, pan and fork in the house. This is a point of contention between Mrs. Macabre and myself who thinks I should just use one bowl and keep washing it out over and over. Food, again, is part of family. I remember family dinners and the smells but most of all the preparation. Unfortunately my mother wouldn’t allow me to help in the kitchen, (remember it was the 60’s, boys didn’t cook, only little girls cooked). When I moved out on my own, I started cooking and found it to be not only enjoyable but relaxing and aside from some fiascos (I nearly killed a friend of mine I had over one night when I misunderstood the difference between a clove and a bulb of garlic), most of my stuff turned out pretty well. Food preparation is a creative outlet for me, including chocolate coated bacon!

Cat or dog person....or both?

I am so a cat person. I like dogs and have a Chiwienie, but I love cats and their mysterious, often psychotic, mentality.

So, cooking or sewing, if you had to choose, which would could you not give up and why?

I couldn’t give up sewing. I can always go out to eat but there’s a part of me that loves creating something original.

You garden too?!? What a well rounded person you are, almost boarding normal there :D How long have you been gardening? And do you prefer flowers or veggies? (And more importantly, where do you find the time!?)

I don’t garden much anymore except for a few special plants like my angel trumpets, pomegranate trees and muscadine vines. And basil, I grow tons of basil. I prefer flowers personally, the bigger and showier the better or those that have symbolism like the marigold (the association with Dias de los Muertos).

So how long have you been using clay to sculpt faces? And do you make the eyes or buy plastic ones?

I started using Model Magic about 6 or 7 years ago after I saw Mike Fox create a creature from it. I started using cheap foam skulls for the basis of the head 4 years ago and it makes creating more likelike proportions much much easier! I’ve done the wig head thing, a cheap foam skull from Kmart or Michael’s is SO much easier to deal with! I make my own eyes. I buy deodorant balls from Monsterguts.com and download an eye sheet from Hauntershangout.com (http://www.hauntershangout.com/home/easyeyes.asp).

Any particular medium to create props that you prefer? Foam? Clay? Real body parts? (just kidding on the last one.)

(deadpan face) Why would you kid? I see nothing humorous in utilizing a viable source for authentic human props. I DO live within a block of a cemetery…

I use Model Magic exclusively. It’s relatively cheap, easy to work with, dries fast and takes paint well.

Any skeletons in your closet?

If there weren’t, then I wouldn’t be Mr. Macabre now would I? I do have one or two, I and my family were on the 700 Club back in the 80’s (yes, the one with Pat ‘I hate Halloween’ Robertson) and I was going to be an ordained minister in the church and even went to seminary some (betcha didn’t see THOSE coming!). The other is much more insidious…I have a David Hasselhoff song on my iPhone (holds head down in shame).

I listen to the Hoff. Please, please don’t judge me too severely.

Should we move Halloween to the last Saturday in October? And tell us a little about "Trunk 'r Treat" - hear you love that? :)

#%$@&* NO we shouldn’t move Halloween! As much as I would indeed like the assurance of always having a Saturday Halloween, leave tradition be!

Oh no she didn’t…she did NOT ask Mr. Macabre about Trunk or #$%@& Treat!!! Each year, I revisit my first rant and I can’t say it better than this:

Ok, I'm strong, I can do this without cussing.

Trunk or treat is a fairly new concept in which people go to a parking lot either in a church or a shopping center and open the trunks to their cars, decorate them, usually cute or (shudder) educational, and provide a safe, well-lit area for children to come, heavily supervised, to get candy.

Whew, I did it, I really got through an explanation of THAT DAMN ABOMINATION THAT IS AS STUPID AS IT IS LAME!!!

Looks like I didn't get through it after all but I don't care! I despise the concept and the underlying watering down of Hallowe'en, I have seen one where everyone's cars were lined up and each trunk was an educational thing on different countries. You learned about the country and got a treat that was representative of the country. GOOD LORD PEOPLE, THESE KIDS GO TO DAMN SCHOOL ALL THE TIME, AT LEAST LET THEM HAVE A LITTLE INANE FUN FOR A DAMN CHANGE!!! I would have had Australia and given the little nippers vegemite and told them, "Now, you learn from this, trick or treating means sugar and chocolate, trick or damn trunking or whatever the hell this is, means learning more crap and getting lousy crap to eat. Now go be a little bastard until your mom and dad lets you go to a couple of doors and get something to rot out your teeth and don't let me catch you near a car trunk again. Happy damn Hallowe'en kid".

Do I make myself crystal clear? I don't like Trunk or Treat. (crystal...I knew I liked you for a reason!)

The other thing is Fall Festivals, Harvest Festivals, Family Festivals, and the like. I grew up going to a Hallowe'en Carnival at my elementary school, Crestmont Elementary. You could tell when it was October 1, advertisement signs were hung in the lunchroom from strings like garland. We got to wear our Hallowe'en costumes on Hallowe'en and I believe the Friday night before we had the Halloween carnival. Every classroom had an event and you bought tickets to each event. You could go fishing in which you cast your line over a movable blackboard with cutout fish adorning the front and when your line gave a tug, you reeled in a toy! Or you could visit the witches' house and feel a bowlful of worms (cold spaghetti), dead men's eyes (peeled grapes) or bowl of blood (ketchup). Maybe you had the hankering to find out what the future held by visiting the fortune teller (who looked suspiciously like one of the fourth grade teachers) or walk through the haunted house (ignoring the Patch the Pony posters and desks lined up to make a path through horrors of volunteers jumping out with rubber masks in the blacklight). I fail to see where I am, or anyone else that went to our school has been mentally scarred or turned out to be a satanic priest because of Hallowe'en carnivals.

Then came the 80's where suddenly Hallowe'en was suddenly the devil's birthday and the grand and glorious crusade of imposed righteousness stripped us of Scream in the Dark put on by Campus Life Ministries, Savage House Haunted Hayride hosted by Gordo Methodist Youth and a host of other VERY good quality haunted houses. Lies permeated about Hallowe'en and the deep evil that it imposed on our children that we must protect. And I bought into it, for about 1 year and I was miserable that year.

Never, ever, ever again.

Do you carve pumpkins every year?

I might carve one each year but mostly I have an army of traditional terra cotta jack ‘o lanterns that I use for time and money’s sake.

Your least favorite thing about decorating for Halloween?

A problem that I hope will be alleviated this year by moving the haunt to the fenced in back yard…theft and vandalism. I hate taking in all the major props every night and then worrying about them being stolen in the carport before hauling them back out the next night.

One thing you would do in your haunt if money were no object.

I would definitely make it a ride through attraction. I would purchase an old (or new) rail system and make it an outdoor dark ride. My first million will be spent that way.

Thanks so much for sharing....that made my day!  Who will be the next victim...err...I mean blogger?  You will have to check back to find out.

And for those of you that might have missed the first interview in the series....float on over to this post of The Captain.  Equally entertaining, talented and good looking :)

Happy Haunting everyone!

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