Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Let us give her another

15 minutes of fame shall we? :) 

(For those that missed it check out her front page feature in the local paper!  Sweet!)

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.

I do love talking to you "guys", but I thought for my next interview I would have a chat with one of my favorite ladies in the haunting world, ShellHawk.

I know we have all been dying to find out how yet another seemingly normal (who are we kidding, she is not normal, that is why we like her!) person become obsessed with Halloween?

[Normal is vastly overrated, Chris! :D]

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

Obsession? Really? I thought everyone did this! Seriously, though, I think it’s because I never got to go overboard with this when I was a kid, and because I have always loved Hallowe’en. My parents had a tendency to shoot down what they considered to be my wild (read: creative) ideas when it would involve a lot of extra effort on their parts. With my dad, that was fine, because he worked very hard, very long hours in the visual effects industry in Hollywood, but my mom was just sort of a year-long Grinch about things like that.

Now that I’m an adult (sort of) and a little more financially established, I can spend some money on doing what I want to do, rather than spend every dime on making my month-to-month financial obligations. I’ve also tapped into my artistic and dark self more readily and have become pretty comfortable in my own skin, and since all those different and complex little parts of my psyche are better integrated than ever before, my creativity is at an all-time high. Add the Halloween blogs and boards and how-to’s that are more available than ever, and bam! Hallowe’en decorating obsession!

How long have you been haunting?

Last year was the first year I ever had a full haunt, complete with graveyard and props. Previous to that, I always had a few jack-o-lanterns in the yard, and a few years ago, my husband came home with a mass-market flying crank ghost kind of thing. I had always decorated the inside of the house with store-bought things, including those old accordion-like paper decorations, several of which I still have.

What was the first prop you ever made?

That would be Stewie, the scarecrow I made based on Spooky Blue’s Grumble scarecrow.

I have been coveting "Stewie" for a long while. When did you make him?

I started making him in August of 2008, I believe. I was still employed at a periodontal office at the time, so I did a layer of papier maché here and there at night when I got home from work and a little on the weekend. When I lost my job at the beginning of October of that year, it gave me the time I needed to finish him, and he also was a kind of therapy for me at the time, since I had never lost a job before and was devastated because of it. (It turns out that it was the best thing to ever happen to me!)

Since I sometimes have trouble following directions, he wound up larger than his dad, The Grumble. After he was completed and went through his first rainy season and summer of storage, the PVC “spine” he was built on has suffered and bent because he is much heavier than the PVC can support. If I did him over again, I would find a stronger support. Maybe I could learn to weld in all my spare time…

Tell us your favorite thing about haunting.

I love scaring the teenagers that are too cool to be scared, and give them a hard time about their lack of costuming. I also love to see which little kids plow up to my front door, completely fearless, and which ones cry and won’t even come up with their parents. It’s a fun night.

I think my very favorite thing, though, is bringing Hallowe’en back into a neighborhood that only had a few kids trick-or-treat before. Last year, a couple of neighbors commented that there were a lot more kids that year, and seemed genuinely baffled as to why!

What prop are you the most proud of?

Hands down, that’s Stewie. He still looks good, and his flaming grin is always the harbinger of Hallowe’en on the block. Though my stirring witch is now part of “The Witch of Rose Hill,” I see a number of things that are proportionally and technically wrong with her, and I find myself wincing every time I set eyes on her. Stewie, though, always makes me smile with pride, particularly because he’s such a show-stopper in the neighborhood.

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

I’m always rolling ideas around in my head, and sometimes, I even write them down before I forget! I “plan” to do things as early as January, but sometimes, I just can’t get to what I wanted to do, and it gets relegated to the “maybe next year” file.

I haven’t reached the stage where I need to change things out, so much as add to the haunt. I try to keep a bit of back story together to keep it from being a senseless mishmash of stuff, but sometimes, like this year, some cool props come my way, and I just have to use them!

Where do you get your inspiration?

I get ideas from other bloggers/dark artists, from movies, and sometimes from random childhood memories that pop up. Sometimes the forums will give me inspiration for a project that looks nothing like what I saw there. As cliché as it sounds, sometimes I get my ideas from my dreams.

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

Because of my new ceramics business, going to school and teaching ceramics at the local Parks and Rec Department, I just didn’t have time to do anything for the haunt this year. I was hoping to add more tombstones, specifically on the driveway side of the house, because I have space there this year I didn’t have last year (we tore out a big bush in spring). It might still happen, but I’m not going to hold my breath!

Both fortunately and unfortunately, my haunt buddy and electrical engineer friend, Dean, moved to Austin, Texas, in May of this year. The bad part is, of course, that my friend moved away and I miss seeing him at club meetings and chatting with him. The good part is that he gave me a bunch of props that he didn’t want to move, so I have a few new things for the haunt in spite of my busy-ness. I inherited a nicely corpsed skeleton in a cage, a gargoyle, and an air compressor, among other things.

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

The only person who knows it isn’t perfect is you. Remember that you’re doing this for fun, and probably, no one will shoot you if something is messed up on Hallowe’en night.

Tell us your favorite yard haunt story.

There was a group of teenagers who were just too fricken’ cool for their own good. They wore half-assed costumes that weren’t really much but their street clothes, and they were not scared by or of anything. Then they triggered my pneumatic zombie groundbreaker (thanks, Casa Fear, for the idea and the how-to!) and about crapped themselves, every one!

The evil smile spread across my face almost as fast as the warm, smug glow of satisfaction when I saw that!

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

I got started blogging in 2008, for no good reason, really.

I had time on my hands because I had lost my job and the catharsis of writing-something I have always done to one degree or another-was very soothing to me at a time when I needed soothing. I had only been in my new home for a year and was still trying to find my place in a new area. Moving was very hard on me, because I had lived in Los Angeles my whole life and my family and most of my friends were still there. I felt like I was in free-fall most of the time. Writing helped me to connect with my new city, because I started actively looking for things to blog about and take pictures of.

Additionally, I had a nebulous idea that I might want to sell my own Hallowe’en stuff, sometime, and would need to give people time to get to know my name and develop a following to sell to. I didn’t have any idea it would be ceramics at the time.

Favorite thing about blogging?

The cool people I would never have known if I hadn’t started blogging. I’m buds with you and Pumpkinrot, Ghoul Friday, the Bloodshed Brothers and a host of others because of it, and how on earth would I ever have met people from places as far apart as Canada, Oregon, Temecula, and some cornfield on the East Coast? It’s the coolest thing ever, and it had enriched my life hugely!

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?

Well, Pumpkinrot’s is my morning-cup-of-coffee blog I go to without fail. Johnny Thunder’s Midnight Spook Frolic is another fave, probably because I’ve thrown back a few with him and can hear his voice in his writing. I’ve recently found William Bezek’s blog, and wow, am I humbled by how great his art is! The Obscure Hollow is great for those wonderful shots of the architecture and design of the classic horror movies, and helps me to create the mood in my yard.

Ceramics....did they find you or did you find them? Either way that is a good thing, your work is amazing, please enlighten us on how you two met?

I signed up for a class at my community college. If I remember correctly, I thought I’d try it on for fun and see how I liked it, and I thought the skills I learned would translate well to prop-building. My teacher was good, but not stifling, and encouraged us to stretch while still teaching the technical aspects of ceramics (believe me, there are many!). I continue to go to school to keep expanding and learning, and I have a lot of new tricks I’d like to add to my treat bag!

What are your hopes and dreams for you and your ceramic creations?
I’m thinking about expanding into teapots and cookie jars next year, but I don’t think that’s what you’re asking. :o)

I’d like to eventually create my own line of manufactured ceramic (and other) goods for Hallowe’en, to compete with the crap that’s out there and give people a different choice from the sappy drivel that seems to be out there right now. Sadly, that probably means sending the jobs overseas because of costs-and I really don’t want to do that. If it seems right, one day I’ll open a studio/shop in old town Folsom (that sounds larger than the four blocks it actually is!) and ply my trade there, rather than doing the whole manufacturing thing.

I would very much like to replace and surpass the income I made in dentistry by using my creative skills and sharing my creations with people who appreciate them.

I have other ideas about writing books and making a documentary or two and I’m sure the time will come when I can make that happen without killing myself or giving Mr. ShellHawk a heart attack! For now, though, learning all I can about my craft is my main focus.

I am open to what the Universe brings, so if the big Lotto win comes, I reserve the right to change my mind!

What has been the biggest influence on you as a haunter?

Davis Graveyard. Seriously! Your place is the go-to YouTube link I always send to people as one of the coolest haunts around. You’re up there with Pumpkinrot, for me! I suffer from extreme projection envy because of you guys, not to mention that whole talking prop thingy you’ve got going on!

LOL! Wow, that was the best 20 bucks the frog queen ever spent! :D

Chris Ape, (travel) gnome in an ape suit? Or just crazy ShellHawk stalker?

Ah, Christmas Ape. Enigma or child’s stuffed animal? Sophisticated world traveler or merciless assassin?

Hard to know, fun to hold up in front of the Mona Lisa! Mr. ShellHawk’s and my little buddy, for certain. Liberated years ago from the Christmas ornaments and his little red bow, he enjoys bed privileges and is part of our little family. He’s eagerly awaiting his chance to drive the new Corvette and post pics on his Facebook page. Of course, he can’t wait to see you guys again, either!

If you had to pick three horror movies to call your favorite, which would they be and why?

ACK! Only three? I can only do a top five:

1) Halloween (1978) Classic horror at its best, it scared the daylights out of me as a kid, and still does.

2) The Fog (1980) The John Houseman monologue at the very beginning is just fantastic. His pacing and phrasing are just fantastic. And I love me a good revenge story! Making the fog itself a character in the movie was pure genius, too.

3) Trick ‘R Treat (2009) I can’t stop watching this anthology. It’s the kind of movie you need to watch several times, so you can pick up all the neat subtleties both in the dialogue and visual happenings. It scared me the first time I saw it, and that impressed me because I live on a pretty steady diet of horror movies and it takes a lot to scare me.

4) Jaws (1975) Jaws is possibly the most perfect horror movie ever made. The character development is fantastic, the scares are well-timed and well-placed, and there is no gratuitous gore. All gore has a reason to be there; it’s not just to have a high kill-count. It moves the story forward, and that’s important.

5) Shaun of the Dead (2004) Shaun of the Dead is a lovely homage to the zombie film and George Romero’s franchise. Dark humor wrapped into a buddy/love story-what could be better? (The “White Lines” scene is a favorite.) It’s another well-written story, and in the world of badly regurgitated horror rip-offs - I mean, re-makes- the well-written story is a treasure!

Also-rans: The Omen (1976), Dracula (1931), The Changeling (1980), and Ghost Story (1981).

I hear that your dad is in the effects business, what does he think of your work and has his career influenced your display techniques?

That’s an interesting question. My dad worked on Dune (1984), Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Leviathan, and a number of other films, and I suppose that wandering around on the visual effects sets, with all their miniatures and models and props, probably did influence me.

I have an obsession with making props as realistic or believable as I can that likely came from watching some of the best guys in the business work their magic.

Some people call it controlling, or perfectionist. I call it pride in my work. :)

So how did Chris Baker talk you into the Hauntcast gig? And how long does it take you to put that together?

He promised me all the martinis I could drink. I’m still waiting, dammit!

Seriously, it sprung from a blog interview I did with him on February 17th, 2009. We stayed in touch via e-mail, and I jokingly suggested he hire on a female to break up the brodeo he had going on. He had been having similar thoughts and decided to give me a try. In spite of the brash “Masshole” character he plays on Hauntcast, Chris was very sensitive in nurturing me as I was just starting out. After all, I had never done radio professionally (or at all!) as he had. He really helped me to develop myself and become more comfortable in front of what once seemed like a very hostile microphone. I was initially terrified that people would hate my segment, and Chris would call me one day to kick me off the show. He still might, I guess! ;o) But now, people seem to be o.k. with me and my segment, and I’m enjoying the daylights out of it.

It takes between five and eight hours to do a segment, sometimes more, depending how much research I need to do for my topic. I research the topic, let it roll around in my subconscious for a bit (sometimes months before I actually plan to record), then sit down to write my copy. I let it sit for a day or two, and then go back to edit the copy. If I’m satisfied, I’ll record it and then settle in to edit my recording and add some music or movie dialogue or whatever pertinent audio that needs to be added.

And I do it all for love, baby, because none of us are getting paid!

Are you involved with any local haunt groups? I hear you know my friends Cory and Troy.....in case you did not notice, they bite, be careful! :D

I’m in CalHaunts NorCal, because that’s where all the coolest haunters are! Everyone has been so great since I joined in January of ’09 as a complete beginner in the prop-making scene. I swear, I still have no freaking clue about prop controllers or any of that technical stuff, but they’re so patient with me asking the same old dumb questions over and over!

I really recommend that people join a local haunt club if they can. It helps to keep you happy and connected to the haunt community.

Oh, and I know they bite! So do I.

Family Guy references for prop names....unusual....and interesting. Can you tell us why?

My husband turned me on to Family Guy when I had started building Stewie, and since the Stewie character wanted to take over the world, and the ‘crow was pretty evil-looking, I thought “Stewie” would fit him perfectly. From there, it made sense to name the rest of them along the same lines.

You have some very original tombstones (FQ likes that) what inspired the epitaphs?

My main tombstone, Beloved, was copied step by step from Terra on Halloween Forum, but you want to know about the others, huh?

Elsa Lanchester was the original Bride of Frankenstein and was also in one of my favorite flicks, “Bell, Book, and Candle.”

Johnny Cash was added because I live in Folsom.

Several tombstones copy epitaphs from the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.

Judith Meyers comes from the original Halloween. My husband won’t let me dig the long hole in the ground to imply the tombstone was stolen. *sigh*

Father Malone’s tombstone quotes “The Fog.”

Spike was John’s dog, who passed away a number of years ago. His tombstone reads “Best Fiend” in daylight. The shadows fill in the r.

Jack Torrance comes from my favorite Stephen King book, The Shining.

Bis Vivit Qui Bene Vivit is Latin for “He lives twice who lives well.” I want to put my zombie groundbreaker in front of that one, just for an educated laugh.

“Semper in facaebus sunum, sole profundum variat” translates to “We’re always in the shit, it’s just the depth that varies.” Perfect epitaph, really.

Any skeletons in your closet?

Tons! And in the attic, and the garage, and the rafters…

I was responsible for the Freddy and Jason dance-off to Abba’s “Dancing Queen.” It was on my iPod. That is one of my favorite things....ever...in case anyone missed it, here is the link again.

Should we move Halloween to the last Saturday in October?

You only asked that because you know I’m a ranter! Well, ditto Mr. Macabre’s rant, and you’re getting close.

Moving Hallowe’en for the convenience of a retailer is wrong on so many levels that I don’t know where to begin. How about we move Christmas, too? Hanukkah? Veteran’s Day? I mean, what’s the point of having a holiday when retailers can move it willy-nilly? Chaos and Entropy are sure to follow. However, I suspect it’s a marketing ploy, so, whatever. If it isn’t, I hope the Pagan community rises up and protests against the assault against their religion.

Do you carve pumpkins every year?

Yes. It’s not Hallowe’en without a real pumpkin carved into a real jack-o-lantern.

Favorite TOT costume you have seen at your haunt?

My dad, dressed as a pirate. I never thought he’d do that!

Your least favorite thing about decorating for Halloween?

Tearing down at night so my props don’t get stolen. It sucks!

So this morning.....was it brains or coffee?

Yes.

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

I would get a horse-drawn hearse to drive through town to my house, with a Victorian-style undertaker at the reins. He’d hop off when he got to my place and unload the coffin, and out would pop-someone really cool!

I’d also have a real pipe organ being played by someone dressed in a Victorian/skeleton costume in front of the cool Victorian mansion facade I’d have built for the front of the house.

Damn! That was three, wasn’t it?

I think is what makes this interview extra special is that most of us, even if you have not met Shelly, have heard her on Hauntcast so you can hear her voice in your head.....at least I could.  Almost like she was sitting there with you at the bar with a martini having a chat....if only.

Anyway, thanks kind lady for entertaining us Halloween folk, you are too kind!  Who will be the next blogger under interrogation....I mean interviewed....wouldn't you like to know! :D

Now everyone....back to prop building!!

Blog Archive