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From the dead letter office…

Minion ‘Kathy’ sent us this letter, which ended up making your old pal Spook later for dinner. She writes…

Do you have any ideas on how we could make a bruno for a scare actor? We do a “Spooky Woods Tour” in Tallahassee (south of there called Woodville) every year and we are doing some new stuff this year. I love the creativity you have. We’d like to add “Bruno” as an actor this year. I can hear the screams now…..thanks.

Thanks for the note! Ideas? I have lots.

Idea 1: A stick-around

Bruno’s terror-on-a-stick construction lends itself to the stalk-around model. Now, a real stalk-around includes a monster head that is attached to some type of helmet worn by the actor, and as much fun as that sounds to build, it would be quite a technical challenge.

The next best thing could be a terrible paper mache pumpkin on a stick with a type of shoulder pad arrangement beneath, and over which, you could drape his cloak/robes/coat to give the impression of a solid form underneath. The actor could then carry the stick around, hidden under the cloak.

A slightly more ambitious version of the stick-around may be to attach the stick to an apparatus not unlike a backpack that is strapped to the actor. He could peep through slits in the cloak. This would free his hands, which could then operate arm extensions (more sticks) fitted through the sleeves of the cloak. Attach horrible hands to the arm extensions and you’d have a very scary pumpkin monster with a loooong reach.

Idea 2: A wearable pumpkin head

Attach a hard-hat or batter’s helmet to the inside of your paper mache pumpkin head. Depending on the size of your pumpkin and the diameter of the hole in its bottom, you’ll have to use spacers (pvc pipe, scrap 1x2s) to place the helmet somewhere near the center of the gourd, or near mouth-level. Your actor would end up looking out of the mouth to see. The reason for this is so that the pumpkin itself doesn’t sit on the actor’s shoulders, but is able to turn and pivot freely. From that point, it’s a matter of padding out the creature’s cloak, which would also be worn by the actor.

A word of caution: It would be tempting to strap the helmet firmly to the actor’s head, but this could cause serious neck injury. A loose-fitting chin strap should keep the gourd from shifting around. Anything tighter that doesn’t break away easily is dangerous. You’ve seen what happens to a football player when someone grabs his face mask. Imagine the torque if someone grabbed the pumpkin’s stalk or if it got caught on something. Yeouch!

A flashlight taped to the inside of the gourd and pointing upward should provide plenty of light. Especially if the interior is painted bright orange.

Off-season pantry raid

January, to we haunter-types who haven’t yet insulated our garage doors, can be a jittery time; the dog equivalent of looking into an empty supper dish at one in the afternoon and, hopes dashed, sighing heavily and curling up by the front door. The big difference is that a dog suffers his misery without the knowledge that six o’clock is coming. Or he takes the initiative to raid the pantry. Or the cat’s litter box.

Your old pal Spook subscribes to the sport of initiative-taking, and although it can be a mixed bag, it keeps one from brooding in a heap by the front door. Especially during these cold, dark, endless dreary days between the faded glow of Christmas and the first Spring thunderstorm.

For example, the Snug Harbor off-season project list has expanded to zeppelin proportions with the inclusion of a new arcade game restoration. That hulk on the left of the above photo is a remarkably intact Battle Zone rescued from a barn this past Fall. The cabinet is solid and it powers up, but it’s dead dead dead. If I shrunk Jeff Bridges down to nano scale and sent him inside, he’d de-rez the instant he materialized. At this early stage I still don’t know if I have a power supply problem or if every chip is blown. And it’s flippin’ cold in the garage right now, so it’ll have to wait.

Battlezone can rest in cold storage for now because I’ve embarked on an even bigger challenge, and its name is Flex and Actionscript; an object oriented programming language used to build applications that run under Flash. Our plan is to build the next big online game, the details of which I’m not at liberty to discuss, mainly because we change them daily, and by the time it’s finished it could end up remotely paying parking meters from an Android phone.

One of the casualties of this project is Spookyblue.com, and the neglect has become glaring since there are Halloween prop projects on the list that are now heading into their second year of “coming soon”. I suppose I’ll have to add “geologically speaking” as a disclaimer. For the hard-core folks who keep reminding me about this, ask Mrs. Spookyblue (aka Galagirl, who got her very own Galaga arcade machine for Christmas – another vintage restoration project that was kept secret and in hiding for two months), what the phrase “programmer’s widow” means.

Whether this new time-consuming tempest will reward us with tasty pantry treats or a less desirable tootsie roll from the cat box hasn’t yet been determined. But I have high hopes. And whatever happens, six o’clock will still get here.

Jeff Bridges shrunk to nano scale?

Waiting for a snowstorm