From Bad To Good

As easy as your first step.


Last Christmas, niece Devin's belief in Santa Claus was wavering. In her annual letter to him, she asked for a picture of one of his reindeer. Her parents suspected she wanted proof he exists.

Well, sure enough, on Christmas morning, Devin found a framed photo of Dasher under the tree, with a letter from old St. Nick himself that read

Dear Devin

Thank you for writing. You asked me for a picture of one of my reindeer, although they are very shy and dislike being photographed, I do have one photo of old Dasher as a young buck many years ago that I can give you.

When Dasher was still learning to fly, he would "dash" off in all directions, often landing in odd places. That's how he got his name. In this picture taken by Mrs. Claus, he landed on the workshop roof one day. It's always been one of my favorites. I hope you like it.

Merry Christmas and have a wonderful New Year.

Rooftop Reindeer

Home & Family producers wanted holiday decor on the roof of our house set location. I pitched this prop concept for the chimney. They liked it. Progress photos and a "making of" soon.

The Awful Blogger

I know I've been a lame blogger these past weeks. Worse though, not taking time to publish the comments many of you have been leaving lately. That's just rude on my part when you took the time to write one. I apologize.

Anyway, I'm hoping to get back to it fairly regularly. And resurrect my long dormant web comic Para-Abnormal soon.

Christmas Decorating

I'm hoping to find time and decorate the front yard tree by turning it into a toy making Elf's cottage.


So I decided it was time to replace my old cell phone from 2006 with this new fangeled device called the IPhone. Have you heard of it? It's pretty neat.

One of the first apps I downloaded was Instagram. I was curious to try it seeing so many friends using on Facebook. My Halloween lawn zombies were fun first photo subjects.

Halloween 2012- Haunted Hosts

Haunted portraits I created for the Home & Family Halloween show set of hosts Mark Steines and Paige Davis.

And here's how they looked on the wall (photo courtesy of prep chef Hayley)

The 2012 Halloween Yard Portfolio

Although this year's display had no new props, and far less time spent on it than any other season before, it turned out better than I expected.

One change that worked out great, and will definitely do again next year, was the longer path winding through the front yard for Trick or Treaters. Not only did it make the display more interactive, but gave it a sense of depth it never had.

Halloween 2012: The Awful Blogger

My apologies to all for being an awful blogger this October. The month went by in a blur of orange and black spending countless 12 -16 hour days at work. I do have many good stories to tell though, and will share in a post I'm working on recapping all the Halloween highlights.

Until then, in brief, Halloween night was scaretastic. We had somewhere around 300 trick or treaters meet Dr. Frankenstein and his monster. This doesn't count the many who where afraid to walk up, and ones scared off by Jason lurking around the yard and sidewalk.

The fiancee put together a video of a few scares she managed to capture on her camera this year. It's dark, but that's my fault, I hate bright lights. Kudos and thanks to my brother Ted for another outstanding performance as Dr. Frankenstein entertaining kids and parents all night long.

4 Days 'til Halloween: Set Decorating

A note passed to me by a senior producer at work in regards to decorating the Home and Family set for the Halloween show on the 31st.

They've released the kraken!

7 Days 'til Halloween: Goblin Brain

We had the family over for dinner on Sunday. Niece Devin arrived holding something clutched to her chest, hidden by her arms wrapped tightly around it. It was a belated birthday present for me.

"I have a story to tell you" she said.

Apparently, her softball team had an away game that day. In Russia. While there, they visited a national park. The park ranger showed them were an ancient tree once stood, before it mysteriously burned down. It was said to have a goblin living in it. In the ashes, something was found.

Her tale told, Devin handed her old uncle his gift, a custom prop, she made herself.

No cabinet of curiosities, anywhere in the world, has an oddity as wonderful and special as this one is to me.

15 Days 'til Halloween: Meeting Doodles

Work may be keeping me from spending the time I'd like to on my Halloween display, but it can't keep me from doodling Halloween during a long meeting.

Sketching in blue ball point always feels like I'm in High School again.

17 Days 'til Halloween: The 2000 Yard Display

For the fun of it, here are old (and lousy) pics of my 2000 Halloween display. That year, because I was living in an apartment, my parents let me decorate their yard not far away. Honestly, this might actually be 2001. I'm not sure. It was a long time ago. I remember decorating their place in both '00 and '01 before they moved. Now that I think about it, both displays didn't look very different from each other, so these pics work for either year.

18 Days 'til Halloween: New Yard Walk -Thu Test

I think I mentioned this in a post awhile back, but I'm trying out a new layout to the lawn this year that will create a winding path through the display for Trick or Treaters. Last weekend, as my brother Ted and I debated if where we placed the guillotine would work, niece Devin said...

"Well, let's see!"

Then she did an impromptu test walk-thru, that cracked both of us up.

25 Days 'til Halloween: Exhausted

My less than a month old new job is exhausting me. I've been out the door before dawn, working long days and late nights, including weekends, almost everyday.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I don't mind at all. I knew going in, trying to establish a well oiled prop/art dept for a new daily TV show finding it's groove would sacrifice most of my time.

But, I had hoped to find some free hours to create new props for the Halloween display. Unfortunately, one night after work, it became obvious that wouldn't happen when I actually fell asleep while bent over untieing my sneakers.

Truth is, I've been worried if I would even get time to decorate the lawn at all this year.

But the October gods have smiled upon me this weekend.

Knock on coffin wood, I don't have any homework for Monday. While my luck holds, I'm going to get busy and spent today pulling props out, fixing some up, and get them staged outside the garage - all ready to go.

Tomorrow, they'll hit the lawn at dawn, like some Halloween themed D-Day invasion. Niece Devin, her dad Paul, brother Ted, and his girlfriend Leah are all planning to arrive at some point to help. Should be a fun day.

There's still time before the big night, so I haven't completely given up getting new props made. Especially the crashed UFO, since it's so close to being done.

Just Simply WOW!

Yesterday, the Space Shuttle Endeavour (piggy backed on a NASA jet plane) spent it's final hour in flight, before being retired here in Los Angeles, by touring the city overhead.

It zig-zagged across town at an amazingly low altitude, letting everyone in the city, no matter where they were, catch a glimpse of and share in the moment of it's arrival.

I'll never forget seeing it just appear behind a group of trees on the horizon at work. I was caught off guard at how emotional I became seeing it. I'm still riding the high.

Here's a video that my brother Ted took from where he was at the time. Minus several trees, it's almost exactly what I saw.

46 Days 'til Halloween: State of my Preparations Address

Although I haven't posted in a week or so, I'm still working away on the flying saucer and other new props for the display this year. But time for this season's prep has been dramatically cut down.

I just started a full time job for a new daily TV show that premieres October 1st ...

I'll be working steady for a nice long time. So needless to say, I'm really excited and happy about that. Although the hours are long and will leave little time for all I hoped to get done this Halloween, I think if use my free time wisely and burn the midnight oil, I should be able to finish a few new things for the lawn this year.

On a side note, please watch the TV show everyday and make it a hit that airs for years. Seeing the girlfriend smile with a contentment that only a steady paycheck can bring is addictive.

Building a UFO: Part Three

I finished the engines. Making stuff by cobbling together random parts is always fun for me. They're eventually going to get lights, so I drilled holes through the pieces that needed them so I can run electric cords inside.  Here's their anatomy...

I decided to attach them coming out of two of the ringed foam baseball details I added in Part Two. The saucer seemed to have a nice balance that way. I drilled holes in them so I could simply slip the PVC ends in (and also be able to run light cords through from the back).

At this point, I don't think I'm going to add a third engine as last year's attempt had. I like the clean look the ship has now. A large center fin might be cool, but I'm still debating that.

I couldn't help but quickly spray paint the UFO in a classic silver color to get an idea of what the finished prop might look like. Not sure if I like it this bright. Now I'm thinking it should be more of a gun metal grey.

Much more to do. Next in Part Four I'm cleaning up glue blobs and other imperfections. Then adding a lot more smaller details giving the ship some personality and character. I might start the final painting as well if all goes quickly.

Building a UFO - An Ed Wood/Bob Burns Sci-Fi Buzz Moment

After I noted the similarity between the look of my Halloween UFO prop so far and the flying Saucers from Ed Wood's cult classic, Plan 9 from Outer Space, I remembered a fun moment from when I worked on Sci-Fi Buzz on the Sy Fy Channel back in the mid 90's. Thought I'd share.

Legendary Sci-Fi historian and prop collector, Bob Burns, was a regular guest on the show often bringing in a few pieces from his basement museum to talk about. On one episode he brought the original flying saucers from Wood's Plan 9.

Bob's Plan 9 saucer as pictured in the March 2008 issue of Los Angeles Magazine.

Up until that day I believed the myth that they were just cheap, homemade, paper plate created props. But thanks to Bob, I learned that they were actually off-the-shelf Lindberg Model Company Flying Saucer kits available back in Ed Wood's day.

Original model box art

The director wanted to shoot a fun bump shot with Bob teasing the next segment as the saucers flew around his head. With Bob's permission, I carefully hung them with fish line from a broom stick and floated them up and down as he did something funny like trying to swat them away like flies.

Once we cut, Bob turned to me and said

"I think that's the first time they've flown since Ed made the movie." 

Building a UFO: Part Two

Just before I got started rebuilding the old unfinished UFO (see Part One), I stopped and thought, maybe this Halloween project should be one I actually spend money on? Maybe go and get decent materials to make it what I really dream it could be? Then I came to my senses. Where's the fun in that? Not to mention my ever growing hoard of junk to make stuff out of seriously needs to be decreased. So, be warned, I'm REALLY making this one up as I go.

First thing I did was to beef up the saucer a bit. Using double stick foam tape I attached an old dryer hose around the edge. Then glued in place and filled gaps with Liquid Nails.

I might replace this hose with a large foam pipe insulation tube or pool toy noodle.

Once the Liquid Nails set up, I painted the dryer hose to get rid of the reflection and glare so I could see if I filled in the gap between it and the wood enough.

Next I added some larger details to the saucer with plastic rings from old outdoor path lights and foam baseballs cut in half (left over from the prop bats I made for Geeks vs Zombies).

I still liked the cockpit from the first attempt last year (a plastic planter cut down) and kept it. I detailed the edges with some foam pipe insulation tube at the bottom and a thinner fountain pump hose along the top.

Glue blobs will be cleaned up later.
I'm planning to hinge the dome so I can have either an open or closed cockpit.

At this point before I added any more details, I roughly painted the entire saucer so I could get a better sense of it as a whole so far. Without being distracted by it's individual parts and pieces.

No, it won't be pink when finished. It just happened to be
 the first random color I grabbed from my paint stash.

From here (and in Part Three) I'm going to figure out the engines and other details. I don't now if I'll add too much more though, I really like the classic 50's B-movie/Ed Wood simplicity of it right now.

One of Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space flying saucers.
Contrary to popular belief, these were actually store bought plastic models
and not painted paper plates or pie-tins.