Monday, June 25, 2007

It's Haunting Time Again!

The summer is here and it's time again to start getting ready for the Fright Town haunted house. Saturday we did a corpse making workshop to get started. Tom Johnson from Fright FX had us
all over to create corpses for the house. You start with a medical grade skeleton, which by the way is pretty damn heavy. After reinforcing the bits that want to fall off you hang it up and start covering it with spray adhesive, saran wrap, and latex. You would think it would be easy, but we spent at least five hours working on these things, and they still need more latex, paint, batting, hair, etc. The drying time is pretty long because the latex has the consistency of mayonaise and takes forever, especially if you've put it on thick which you kind of have to do to get the right texture.

The trickiest part was learning that you need to put the plastic on in multiple layers, before adding the latex. You would think that's just logical, but we didn't realize how much saran and adhesive you have to use to get the correct shape. It's not as easy as it sounds, being as the saran is sticky, and you are sticky with all the spraying and stuff. We used a ton of latex as well, so you end up sticky and smelling like a rubber band. It's cool though.

Sunday we went over to Glowing Greens, a black light indoor putt putt place that will be opening soon downtown over by Pioneer Courthouse Square. Raymond the owner formerly of 13th Door Haunted House is making the coolest place in Portland that's open to kids and adults. The course is full of 3D props, and will also include some animatronic characters. The most awesome part of the whole thing it that everything is set up to be viewed by black light. We went over to help paint, and construct some of the set pieces. I helped paint a shack by the graveyard. Painting for black light is interesting because you pretty much are painting in the dark under black light. Once you apply the paint it pops out at you. The color of the paint under normal light is completely different under the black light. It's a bit of a challenge but the results are awesome. I'm going back next week to help do some more painting. They have a good crew but a lot of work ahead of them. Their website is if you want to see what they're doing. This will be the perfect place to have those hard tween birthday parties. You'll be able to rent the entire course, and have pizza with your golf.

Back to the haunted house, once we get done with these corpses we have a bunch of other props to build, and we also have to figure out the rooms, and the makeup/costumes and props we need for each one. I think this year is going to kick butt. I'm not going to give away any secrets, otherwise I will be drawn and quartered, but we're working on some interesting ideas right now, and these guys really know what they're doing. Tom's one of the original crew from Scream at the Beach, our evil nemisis. Last year we gave them a run for their money, and these year we're bringing in secret weapons. If you can't tell, haunting is a little competitive.

Here's what the end results will potentially look like on the bodies. The finished texture is really gross and sticky. It looks like dried human skin. Yummm.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Hidden Hand

With President Dan Bernstine leaving Portland State it made me reminisce about working in the President's office back when I was employed in University Relations . Theoretically I worked for the Development Office which was housed in the same space, but I ended up helping out with the President's staff on tech stuff and other odds and ends of things. I was very fortunate to work with Dan, as he preferred to be called, and have the opportunity to see someone in action who quietly made things happen at PSU, and successfully completed a $150 million dollar capital campaign.

One of the interesting aspects of working there, especially at the reception desk, was dealing with some of the plain crazy people who would come in and want to meet with the president for a variety of reasons. One guy came in and sat and talked to his invisible friend for at least half an hour while he waited for a non-existant appointment. We also had a lot of people come in who wanted us to publish their "manuscripts" which included handwritten rants and carefully typed conspiracy theories.

Our favorite guy came in quite a few times. His name was Phillip and he had a head shaped like a potato. His "manuscript" that he'd been working on for years was called "The Hidden Hand." The title came from a 1942's B-movie, but had absolutely nothing to do with the content. It had a lot to do with christian homeless shelters, churchs, Satan's Pets, and Janet Beldon's Face!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (his punctuation). There were a lot of comments about 20' tall bears, especially polar bears, attacking at a church and various other places where polar bears hang out, like the lobby of an apartment building. He had a lot of biblical quotes, and mentions of demons, satan, the saviour, etc. He originally started out typing this 45 page tome and then I think got frustrated after the fifth page and started writing in freehand. You could tell his mood by how sporatic and crazed the writing would get in certain sections.

Alex was our receptionist at the time, and whenever a good piece would come in she would make a copy for me to check out. Our favorite part of Phillip's manuscript was when he listed "Satan's Pets!!" This was a list of demons and their earthly equivalents. Some of the examples are: Demon of the Clam (Clamato Juice); Demon of the Pig, Hog, Swine (Salisbury Steak, Bologna); Demon of the Tuna (Sandwiches); Demon of the Rabbit (Easter Bunny). I think you get the idea.
The entire 45 pages are sort of a freeform rant, conspiracy theory, and obsession with Janet Beldon's Face!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I would almost like to publish it because there is some great material buried under all the crazy talk. I think Satan's Pets would be an awesome name for a band. I've hung onto a copy of it for the past eight years as a source of inspiration when I'm looking for examples of words thrown together that might make sense if you were coming from that twisted point of logic.

Anyway, Dan will be missed at PSU but I'm sure he isn't going to miss some of the oddballs he no longer will have to deal with at the Law School Admissions Council in Pennsylvania where he's moving to. I'll just make sure to warn him about potential polar bears hanging out in the lobby.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Watching The Fireworks From The Bridge

Friday was the beginning of the Rose Festival, and my usual tradition is going up to the train bridge across from my apartment with a couple of beers and my camera and snapping pictures. It's a great view because you can see all of downtown Portland with the fireworks in the foreground. Usually it's packed to the point of feeling the bridge move whenever someone else comes up to sit down. This year it was pretty sparse for some reason, which was fine by me because it's kind of high up, and the thought of the bridge breaking and dropping us down onto the traintracks is somewhat scary. I have a thing about heights anyway, and it's taken me a while to where I can walk up the three flights of stairs and not freak out when I hit the top. Here's a view from the top of the stairs at dusk looking into the city. The fence is kind of a pain to deal with, but I try to incorporate it into the frame sometimes.
This year I was hoping to focus on the people watching the fireworks. The three people in the photo at the top of the page were from out of town, and it was cool to hear how excited they were to be viewing the fireworks from their vantage point.

A couple of years ago I was able to get some really good pictures including this one that came out sort of heart shaped for some reason. Those are the real colors too. It was a little bit cloudy so they were able to show up better against the sky then they do when it's clear out. I have many fond memories of watching the fireworks in Portland, including the first month I moved here from Seattle after some pretty bad experiences that happened in that messed up town. My aunt, uncle, cousins, and my son who was five at the time all brought a cooler, and blankets down to the rock bank by OMSI and sat and watched the Blues Festival fireworks close up. That was the first time I had a chance to see them so close. My son Nik was old enough to appreciate them even though we had to wait forever so it was dark enough for them to get started.
I may have to bribe someone with a view from the Westside so I can get a different perspective for the July works this year. I used to be able to sit on the roof of my old apartment and see both the Portland fireworks and the Vancouver ones. Oh well. Hmm, maybe someone with a boat.