December 18, 2007

A Beautiful Haunted Mansion Book!

I received my copy of the SLG Publishing's hardback, Haunted Mansion comic compilation, "The Haunted Mansion: Welcome Foolish Mortals".
First, let me say, Yes, I am an affiliate with SLG. They asked me to help promote their book through this site and, being a fan of their comic series, I gladly agreed. I was sure that the book would be a cool addition to any mansion-phile's collection, but I honestly had no idea how gorgeous the book would be until I receiv ed my own copy!
This book is fantastic!
Click images to enlarge
The art and stories are an fun, eclectic collection of interpretations of the Disney Haunted Mansion lore. S ome are whimsical and light-hearted, and others have the spooky, dark style of the old pulp horror magazines I grew up with, like Eerie and Creepy.
The book itself is designed beautifully! It comes in a full color box sleeve, which helps protect the beautiful tome inside.
When I pulled the book out from the sleeve, I had to say "Wow!".
The back cover has a gold, embossed "999" (for the 999 happy haunts in the mansion).
I expected to see the book's title on the front cover, but to my delight is has
a gold embossed "Gracey" coat of arms! 
And because I'm such a mansion geek (and because I designed a paper model of the Conservatory Coffin) I also noticed that the embossed borders on the top and bottom edges of the cover are the pattern of the conservatory coffin's pedestal drapery!
To top off the wonderful design of the book, the pages are cut with an irregular, scalloped edge, giving the feel of an old, hand-bound book, and the red, ribbon bookmark is the final, classy detail. Can you tell that I love this book?

December 11, 2007

Back Home for the Holidays

My most recent gig at Universal is over, and I'm back in chill y Pennsylvania.
Watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" come to life at Universal's Islands of Adventure was a priceless experience! It is interesting to note that while I spent the Spring and Summer designing the horror of the Universal Halloween Horror Nights web site, I was literally back to back with the brilliant artist who was helping to design this stunning, beautiful set for the Grinch show.

The show is sweet, funny and truly heart warming!
Every show left me with misty eyes, even in rehearsals. 
Click images to enlarge
I also had a chance to meet the Simpson's before their arrival in this year's Macy's Christmas Parade at Universal Studios. I created some of the graphics on their parade RV.
Here they are arriving for the Macy's Parade, in their RV. 
I created the graphics used on the donut boxes and Duff Beer cans on the roof of the RV.

April 2, 2007

Video Games Live

This past weekend we went up to the Yale University campus in New Haven, Conn. to see the spectacular, and brilliant concert, "Video Games Live"! 

"Video Games Live is an immersive concert event featuring music from the most popular video games of all time.   The Yale University Orchestra  & choir performed along with exclusive video footage and music arrangements, synchronized lighting, solo performers, electronic percussionists, live action and unique interactive segments to create an explosive entertainment experience!" 

It just so happens that Jack Wall, who is the orchestra conductor, Co-creator and Exec Producer of "Video Games Live", was also a classmate of ours from our High School graduating class of 1981!   His credits include the music from Myst III: Exile, Unreal II, and Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, among many, many more.   Here is Jack's site,
My wife is also from the same High School class, so we were able to have a mini reunion with Jack, which was very cool, and my kids got to meet one of the leading video game music composers in the country!   We also had a sneak peek of the rehearsals the night before the concert, which served to build excitement to seeing the real thing!

If you read this Jack, thanks a TON! It was an unforgetable night!
This is the stage before the perfomance. Behind the screen is the 104 year old, 3 story tall, Woolsey Hall Pipe Organ,
on which Martin Leung played the music from "Castlevania". Awesome!

Unlike most folks in the entertainment industry, Tommy Tallarico (game industry icon, and concert host), encourages guests to take video of the show and post it on YouTube, so if you want to see some of the concert from that night at Yale, check out these Youtube videos. Keep in mind that no photos or video can compare to seeing and hearing the REAL THING!

As the show begins, the giant video screen behind the orchestra lights up modestly with the classic 1975 game "PONG" (can it really be 32 years ago?!) .   The audience cheers!   As the game begins to play, the beeps and boops of the game are picked up by the orchestra and serve to establish a rhythm that builds to a grand crescendo of music and visuals from 1980's games.
Here is a fantastic clip of the "Mario Medley" opening at Yale showing a great shot of Jack and the orchestra playing along with the video!
I never realized that hearing an orchestra playing the music from Donkey Kong, Centipede, Frogger, Sonic, Mario , Legend of Zelda, and Space Invaders, could be as emotionally stirring as it was! It was like hearing a sentimental, old pop tune from my teen years!   It was like a visit from a old, dear friend!
By the time Jack gets to the music he composed, Myst:Exile, the full power o f the choir and orchestra sent shivers down my spine! 

In between the musical sets, people are chosen from the audience to actually play games on the big screen, while the LIVE orchestra follows the game play music in real time! Hearing 3000 people cheering a guy on stage, who is trying to get his Frogger across the gauntlet of cars, trucks and logs, was hilarious fun! 

Video games have always been marginalized as being unimportant or even downright subversive in American culture, but as you hear 30 years worth of music and memories, presented with the power of a full orchestra and with the heart of live choir, the results are completely surprising and delightful!   Video Games Live is a brilliant production, which proves that "video" games are a legitimate art form, which is here to stay!   
You have to see this show!

February 25, 2007

My Universal "ScreamHouse" Model

Here is the second paper model kit I designed for Universal, Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights web site. This was the facade of the haunted house attraction called "ScreamHouse". As with my "Psychoscareapy" model (see below), I enhanced the model with a few custom parts and a little bit of miniature landscaping.
The Psychoscareapy and ScreamHouse models are no longer available for download from the Universal site. If you you want them, you can find them HERE in Paper Model Purgatory. 

"The Shark Is Still Working"

A pal of mine, Michael Roddy, is one of the producers of the newly completed documentary,
"The Shark Is Still Working: The Impact and Legacy of JAWS".
It is a fascinating insight into the making of one of the most terrifying movies of the 20th century,
If you are a fan of JAWS, take a look at the web site for 

February 13, 2007

My Universal "Psychoscareapy" Model

I am in the process of buidling all of my paper models for my own collection. Over the past year I have constructed multiple versions of all of the models, but ended up giving them all away, leaving my shelves empty! I am taking this opportunity to modify and enhance the models with custom parts and a little bit of miniature landscaping.
Here is one of the models I designed for Universal, Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights web site. It is the facade of one of the sound-stage haunted houses "Psychoscareapy"
depicting the "Shadybrook" asylum.

I used reindeer moss and flat moss (found in craft and hobby stores) to simulate the overgrown vegetation, and I stuck in a few shrub twigs to simulate dead trees.

I recreated the chainlink gate using some stretched contour mesh (used in clay sculpting) and toothpicks. I gave the whole gate a dry brushing of black and gold acrylic paint, to make it look rusty.

The Psychoscareapy and ScreamHouse models are no longer available for download from the Universal site. If you you want them, you will find them HERE at paper Model Purgatory.

February 9, 2007

Ignignokt Has Left the Building!

I received great reactions to the "Ignignokt" lite-brite that I placed on my front page mansion last Friday! I have to admit that I was a little nervous about it at first, considering the "stir" the real ones created in a certain North-eastern city. However, in this case everyone seemed to get the joke and enjoyed it!

January 13, 2007

The Voice of "Master Shake"

"Great site, amazing stuff, I can't wait to go blind putting them all together. thanks! Keep up the amazing work!" 
~Guest book entry from Dana Snyder, the voice of "Master Shake" on "Aqua Teen Hunger Force"~
(one of my favorite shows on Adult Swim)
Thanks Dana! It was a thrill to hear from you! 

January 12, 2007

Well, It's Gone !

What ever the plans may be, changes have already begun.
The cool, little well which was near the entrance to mansion has been removed. You may remember that I was planning to make a little paper model of the well some time and I took many reference photos of the well in the Spring of 2006. It is a good thing I did.

Another piece of rather sad news is that the fabled "Wedding Ring" has been removed from the paving at the mansion's exit queue! I wish they could have saved it or perhaps they might create an "official" ring which could be embedded somewhere else near the mansion. Even if the legend of the ring is unrelated to the mansion's &quo t;story line", it is a fun detail. When I was there last year I saw a family keenly looking at the paving around the exit and it was obvious what they were doing. I was able to direct them to the ring, and they were very happy to find it!
The ring was actually a remnant of a sawed off exit gate rod which looked like a ring.
Here is my photo of the ring taken in 2004.

The ring now looks like this.