Friday, July 31, 2009

My Dad's New Book!

Well, now you know where all my amazing talent and good looks (I promise, I'm kidding!) come from: my dad!

For those of you who are new to my blog, and haven't obsessively read every post from the very beginning (you could do that now. We'll wait.), my dad was in the motion picture industry for many years. If you're around forty years old or a little older, there's a good chance you may have seen an academic film he made when he worked for Encyclopedia Britannica, on the topic of geology or perhaps other science.

Later in his career, he got into visual effects (pre-CG, guys!) and worked on films like Dune and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures.

And now, this. It will be available soon, for those of you who are interested in learning how to produce visual effects for film and t.v. Sorry to torture those of you who don't-I'm just proud of my dad!

Oh, and the new Haunt Cast is up! Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Be Gentle, Darling, It's My First Time, or, Super-Secret Project Reveal

You've been patiently waiting (and I've loved the gentle prodding from you darlings!) for The Answer to The Question: What is ShellHawk's super-secret project? Wait no more!

I am now, officially, a new member of the Scream Team on Haunt Cast!

Hooray for me! I am completely undone by this turn of events. (That means super-happy!) But of course, since I am now A Journalist, I will be Circumspect and Dignified.


Ahem. Dignity above all. These are the watchwords. My segment premiers tomorrow. Please be kind, as I have never done a podcast in my life. My segment will cover the interior of the house: home decorating for Halloween, food, bevvys, costumes, and general Halloween Domestic Goddess (and God-)-ness. If you have any finds or suggestions in this venue you would like to see on the show, please don't hesitate to drop me a line.

Would it be really uncool to mention how excited I am about this?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Leg Lamp

Just like the famous Leg Lamp from A Christmas Story. But one louder.

Find it here.

Oh, and? My super-secret project? All will be revealed by the end of the week. You can keep prodding me, though. I love the attention!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Zombie Jell-O Mold

Summertime. A time of backyard BBQ. A conversation oft-repeated through the summer months:


Host: Hello?

Guest: Hi! It's Mort! What should I bring to the barbeque?

Host: Oh, hi, Mort! You know, we don't have a Jell-O mold yet! Could you bring that?

Guest: Sure!

But maybe you're far too interesting for a regular Jell-O mold. A subtly different conversation:


Unsuspecting Host: Hello?

Evil Little You: Hi! It's Mort! Do you need a Jell-O mold for the barbeque?

Unsuspecting Host: Oh, hi, Mort! You know, we don't have a Jell-O mold yet! Could you bring one?

Evil Little You: Sure!

Billed as "An Undead Delight," this mold is sure to spark conversation at your next outdoor soiree! Perhaps people will even be reminded to make their safety plan for the zombie apocalypse. In fact, you could say this Jell-O mold could save lives!

Get it here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Post for the Frog Queen

This one's for you, Frog Queen!

While I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off (without the massive spurts of blood, of course), I went to plug in the small fountain we have in our outside entryway. I lifted the socket cover, and looked inside to see where I could plug it in. At first, I thought a leaf or a bug casing had gotten into the receptacle, but it turns out it was someone else.
I dragged Mr. ShellHawk outside, and he took one look, then ran back in the house for a book to i.d. the little feller. Turns out he (or she - it seemed rude to ask when we had just barely met) is a Pacific Tree Frog. Of course I snapped this pic for you guys.

I went back to look an hour or two later, and had to dash for my camera again. A little buddy had shown up. You can just see him behind the power cord.
I'll have to make a couple of frog houses for them soon. I love having them around. Maybe they'll do a concert on Halloween for my stirring witch...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Peephole View

I took a couple of pics through the peephole of my kiln yesterday, obviously while it was still hot. In this first picture, you can just see the curve of one of my pots, about a quarter of the way down from the top.
You can make these out much better.I'm actually relieved that I was wrong yesterday about my senior cone being melted. Reader's Digest version: In order to monitor the heat of the kiln, pyrometric cones are used. You use three cones that melt at three different temperatures. One cone melts below your desired temp, one at your desired temp, and one at one hotter than your target temp. The diagram below tells the story.
I mistook my guide cone for my senior cone and nearly had a coronary! Thank goodness when I opened up the kiln this morning, I realized my mistake. My senior cone had bent only a minuscule amount. Whew!
Here's a section of my little darlings, still warm from the kiln. Next stop glazing and the glaze firing!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I Am SO Very Important! (Just kidding)

SUPER busy today! Test firing went o.k. I got up at 5:30 a.m. to finish loading the kiln and start the firing of my Jacko army. Couldn't fit them all in! I have been a busy bee!

I'm tidying the shop now, then it's time to work on my super-secret project, which no one has even prodded me about at all, which is somewhat disappointing. Maybe it's because all of you were raised with Miss Manners and don't want to pry.

Well, back to it!

3:04 P.M. update: My kiln sitter went off far earlier than I anticipated, meaning this damn kiln got hot a lot faster than expected, which could create problems. I've bitten my nails down to the quick and am slurping down a martini as I write this. And I can't open the kiln until TOMORROW! AAARRRGGGHHH!

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Music Box and Other Things

Found this short on You Tube today. Though you might enjoy it...

In other news, I'm doing my first test-firing of my kiln today. The army of Jacks has grown since the last pic I shared, and even since I took this pic. (The pot on the top shelf, one from the right, if my neighbor V's son's pot. He volunteered it for the test run. Brave kid!)
Honestly, I'm going to have to seriously consider another reorganization of my studio space, and soon! I'm running out of space, and Stewie just keeps snaking those long fingers out to try and trip me whenever he can. If I didn't need to repair him, I'd make some kind of hammock for him and suspend him in the rafters of the Garage of Doom! Of course, Brian and Peter just snigger in their corner of the garage. Jerks. If they keep it up, they're going in the kiln, too. That'll learn 'em!


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Random L.A. Moment-SCORE!

There's a great store in Burbank called 8 Ball. While a little spendy for people like me who are cheap, it's great fun to look around. There are all kinds of curiosities to be found alongside the cool clothing and shoes. Like this remote controlled zombie.
Yes, the remote is the brain. If you decide your zombie might be lonely, get him some pets.
When he gets out of hand on his brain-eating rampage, you could have an angry mob all ready to go.
I bought a couple of things there, one of which was the "Dead Duck" rubber ducky to add to my collection.
The duck just in front of him looks a bit concerned, doesn't he?
And lastly, I found a great album while browsing through Atomic Records a couple of doors down from 8 Ball. I had already found Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House on eBay. One day, I'll borrow a turntable from someone so I can listen to it in all its glory.
As I was browsing, I got to chatting with the guys who work there, and they pointed out this find:
The official, original, spectacular The Haunted Mansion album, with storybook in the middle! Narrated by Thurl Ravenscroft (the original Tony the Tiger), who scared the crap out of me as a kid with his rendition of the Headless Horseman song. So excited about this! While I'm not a rabid fan of Disney, I am a fan of the Haunted Mansion for obvious reasons. (One of my dreams is to get a tour of The Haunted Mansion in California with the lights up! Although I suppose I could tolerate the one in France or Japan in a pinch... ;o))

The album was in fantastic condition. I played it for my dad on his turntable almost the second I got home. He had the decency to look interested.
That find coincided with finding a copy of The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies. This book became my reading material immediately (as I had just finished Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and I learned a lot of little things about the attraction I didn't know before. If you're interested in the Haunted Mansion, this book is a must read!

It was a great day for unusual finds.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Random L.A. Moment-Downtown

The day I saw the Batmobile, I picked up my friend to go to lunch. It's hard to get good Mexican food in Folsom (think chain restaurant hell), so whenever I'm in L.A., it's on my to-do list.

L.A. has somewhat gotten with the public transportation thing. For those of you who have never visited, traffic in L.A. is a freaking nightmare. There are only four or five routes from the San Fernando Valley into "the City," and they're nearly always jammed. For example, returning to the Valley from Downtown (and yes, on that map you can find Skid Row), you might want to take the freeway. Well, the stupid 101 freeway goes from three lanes down to one, and good flippin' luck getting into it, 'cause most people won't let you in! Hence, I take the subway from the Valley into Union Station.
Cheap, easy, and I don't have to pay the inflated parking fees Downtown.
Like many parts of Los Angeles, Union Station has seen growth, decay, and a facelift. Above is a glass ceiling that I marvel at every time I see it.

Sadly L.A. is on severe water restriction, so the fountains around town have been shut off to conserve water. (I have to laugh when people say "When the drought is over," since L.A. was built in the middle of a desert...) Be that as it may, when the facelift came, local artists were hired to pretty up the area.

A two-block walk from Union Station brings you to Olvera Street. We hit La Golondria restaurant first for a lunch of carnitas. Home made flour tortillas are absolutely the bomb at this place, so ask for them! We were also serenaded by these singers (sorry for the poor videography. Steven Spielberg I am not!)

After, we browsed the shops. Most shops have a "NO PICTURES" sign hanging in the front. But... I'm a rebel and had to take a pic of these items. I'd never seen these in a shop before and would have bought one if I thought I could get it on the plane!
Aerosol Para Todo, meaning, literally, "For Everything." Domination, conquering, money, protection. You know: everything! And it's 100% legitimate! How could you go wrong?!
I didn't see any signs forbidding photography at this shop, so I took a couple pics of their Dia De Los Muertos figures.
I just laughed my ass off at this guy!

All in all, it was a great day, and I came out of it with a number of new ideas to be applied in the Garage of Doom.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Random L.A. Moment-The Batmobile

I was driving to the bank while in L.A. when I caught a glimpse of this old beauty, a blast from my childhood. Of course, I had to execute a bat-turn and park my car so I could run back and snap some pics.

I was originally on my way to see a buddy of mine, who is a dork like me. I picked him up, apologizing for being late.

"I got distracted by shiny things," I told him, and drove him by the Batmobile.
He immediately punched a number in on his cell phone, calling a friend who is a Batman fanatic. The friend was told the location and to gather up his kids for a quick visit.
We got the thank you call back a couple hours later, and a little info, too. Turns out this particular Batmobile was the second one made in a series of five. There was a bunch more geek-speak that I almost immediately forgot, since I was driving at the time. Wish I could share more!

I wish I had this lever on my Dodge Dart. Maybe I can get one installed...

Monday, July 20, 2009

L.A. Moment: The Addams Family

Well, I'm back from L.A. and Grandma's 100th birthday. It was wonderful to see her, just glowing, at her birthday party! I may bore you with a few pics later...

Meanwhile, I've decided to throw a few random L.A. moments on the blog this week, although I did miss one photo op. Here's that brief story: I was driving home from the pub and was stopped at the bottom of the off ramp, waiting for the signal to turn. It was about 12:30 or so. As I waited, this guy and woman ride by on their bicycles. He's sitting about four or five feet higher than she is, on a bike with small wheels and a really tall seat. They pedal on by, and I'm left wishing my camera had been on! Random L.A. moment!

I found this little gem when I went to the car wash with my dad. Walking down the hallway of the car wash, windows on the right, so you can see the cars being washed, video games on the left, so you can throw more money away. Suddenly: old school alert! A pinball machine! An honest-to-God pinball machine!
Not just any pinball machine, either! An Addams Family pinball machine, complete with the nearly iconic picture of Raul Julia and Angelica Houston as Gomez and Morticia.
Uncle Fester does his light bulb trick.
Talk about unexpected treasure!

Another unexpected fun thing: There's a chance that Dark Delicacies in Burbank may carry my jack-o-lantern pots once I get them fired and glazed! I'm super thrilled just to have the opportunity. My husband was kind enough to wire up the proper receptacle for my kiln yesterday, so it looks like I'll be able to do my first firing this week!

And in other news... Well, it's a secret, and I can't tell you yet. Sorry.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Summertime. 4th of July. A greedy mayor and a hungry fish. One of the all-time most perfect movies, ever. Ever, baby!

I personally cannot believe that it's been over thirty years since this movie was made and scared the pants off of everyone. I was too young to see this in the theater, but if they ever do a re-release in the theater (as they did with The Exorcist), I will be there. I'm sure it will be an amazing experience!

I'm just bummed I didn't know about the 30th anniversary edition before I bought my copy on DVD. Oh, well. Get it here.

I'll be taking some time off to join my Grandmother for her 100th birthday, so I'll catch you on the 20th! Pray for me, y'all. It'll be some strange and potentially traumatic family time. Thank God I'll be near my favorite Irish pub! I'm also hoping to catch Dead Snow while I'm down in L.A., so maybe the trauma will be mitigated...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Found a neat little tutorial on scarecrow-making here, based on that neat little guy from Sleepy Hollow.You know, I'd make him, but I think Stewie might eat him. Those vine-y fingers of his are hard to break once they're wrapped around you!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Safety First

If you use actors in your haunt, it's really important to inform them of basic personal safety. A video is worth a thousand words:

Classic Halloween Prank Backfire - Watch more Funny Videos
Honestly, folks, let your actors know that some people's first reaction to a startle is to lash out. It's worth it to tell them to keep well out of arm's reach when they do a scare.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Neat ghost meringue recipe here. I'm sure monsters big and small will make them disappear instantly! (Nom, nom, nom, nom...)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Don't Drink and Drive

Just. Don't.

Jigsaw's Hilarious Halloween Surprise - Watch more Funny Videos

Friday, July 3, 2009

Crocheted Eyeball

I can just see Morticia Addams crocheting this for darling little Pubert.

Instructions here.

Happy 4th of July, All!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ghost Sighting

Ever go walking and catch something out of the corner of your eye? Something you can't explain? Something that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and march? There, then gone in a blink. Creepy, huh?

Here's a tutorial on how to make this creepy ghost. In my opinion, the best scares are the simplest to pull off. I'd love to see this alongside a road, but I'm sure it would cause an accident!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Recipes for Los Muertos

I think I've mentioned before that I'm thinking about doing a Dia de los Muertos theme for the interior of the house for Halloween. Yes, I know Dia de los Muertos is the next day. I just think it'll offer a warm contrast to the Casa Fear Zombie Groundbreaker in the front yard. There really isn't much in this world better than walking into a home from a crisp Fall night to the scents of food, cooked with love, and the promise of lively conversation and old friends.

I feel like food is the key to this kind of celebration, not only for the living, but for the dead.

It's funny. I'm half Mexican, though I don't think of myself as Mexican (the other half is Swiss, which I identify with a bit more), and I haven't had much interest in the Mexican side of my heritage until recently. (BTW, I don't speak either language beyond asking for more beer and where the bathroom is. You know: the important stuff!) I'm not delving deeply into that heritage, mind you, I just view it as more of an interesting curiosity. A cultural diversion, if you will. I mean, Mexicans make Mexican food, which I like, and margaritas, which I also like. And they have Day of the Dead, which I think is a brilliant idea and celebration of those who have come before us. So: what? Not much, really. Just saying...

Be that as it may, I've started looking into traditional recipes I might serve at the party. I came across a recipe for Pan de Muerto (Bread for the Dead) through that sounds really nifty. I'll share it with you:

Prep Time: 3 hours

Cook Time: 40 minutes


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 packets dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons whole anise seed
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • Glaze (see below)


Bring all ingredients to room temperature (except for the water which should be very warm) before beginning.

In a large bowl, mix together butter, sugar, anise, salt and 1/2 cup of the flour. In a separate bowl combine the eggs and the water. Add the egg/water mixture to the first mixture and add in another 1/2 cup of the flour. Add in the yeast and another 1/2 cup of flour. Continue to add the flour 1 cup at a time until a dough forms.

Knead on a floured surface for about 1 minute. Cover with a slightly damp dishcloth and let rise in a warm area for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Bring out dough and punch it down. Remove about 1/4 of it and use it to make bone shapes to drape across the loaf (see below.) Or divide the dough into smaller pieces to create other bone shapes. Let the shaped dough rise for 1 more hour.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes for smaller loaves and up to 45 minutes for larger loaves.

GLAZES(After glaze is applied you may decorate with additional colored sugar.)

  • Bring to a boil- 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup fresh orange juice. Brush on bread and then sift some additional sugar over the top.

  • Mix 3 tablespoons orange juice concentrate and 1/3 cup sugar with 2 egg whites. Brush on bread during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

  • Bring to a boil- 1/4 cup piloncillo, 1/4 cup sugar, 2/3 cup cranberry juice and 2 tablespoons orange zest. Brush on bread after bread has cooled.
BONES: The most common bone decorations are very simple. Sometimes it's just a matter of forming ball shapes and pressing them into the loaf in a line. You could also take a piece of dough, roll it into a long cylinder and place a ball at each end. You can get much more detailed if you like, but even a slightly "knobby" looking loaf will get the idea across.

If I have time, I may make this a day ahead. If I run out of time, I'll see if I can find a Mexican bakery in Sacramento that will make this bread.

There's also a recipe for empanadas at Day of the Dead Kal. Looks totally yummy!
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