Saturday, August 27, 2011

Boney Island Returns!

 This is Rick:

This is Rick's Emmy award:

Rick got the Emmy for being a producer on The Simpsons:

But for 10 years, at Halloween, Rick was also the creator of Boney Island, an amusement park filled with over 100(!) plastic skeletons doing silly things in his front yard, like batting at bats in a batting cage:

Or getting their caricatures drawn by another skeleton (of course, every skull looks exactly like the next one):

Or getting duped into being shot out of a cannon, and being called The Once-Human Cannonball:

Or even playing Whack-a-Mole, only here there were witches and vampires popping up, so it was called Whack-a-Ghoul:

Did I mention that is is all animated and each scene had it's own amusing soundtrack to support it? You may have seen some of this on HGTV's "Extreme Halloween" special a few years ago. Or maybe you've seen it on HGTV's "What's Up With That Haunted House?" The 7-piece skeleton band is pretty memorable:

And the hot-air balloon that traversed across the roof:
 There was even a Ferris Wheel, and a spinning ride, appropriately called Whirl and Hurl, that had skeletons riding in cauldrons around a witch. And in the background, a tree house, two stories tall:
The two-story tall treehouse is there year-round.

There was so much more, too. You didn't just view this amusement park from the sidewalk, either. You would wander among the attractions and and hear all of the amusing soundtracks. Some of it was interactive: you could play Simon Says with a talking skeleton, get your fortune told by another skeleton, and jump into a large, spinning, spider web that was projected on the ground.  The yard would fill up with hundreds of people to the point where it would appear that there was an actual carnival taking place. One year, over the 2 weeks prior to Halloween, over 13,000 people came to see Boney Island. It was good, clean, old-fashioned, family-friendly Halloween FUN.

Did you notice I was using the past-tense?
 That's because after 10 years, Boney Island was shut down in 2007 to satisfy some neighbors across the street. Everything in Boney Island was auctioned on eBay. Boney Island vanished.

But now, four years later, those neighbors have moved. Rick had an idea for a new Boney Island, one that would use magic as the theme. And so now with less than 2 months to plan and execute, Rick is working hard to bring Boney Island back, starting from scratch. If all goes well, there will be 3 flying carpets circling up on the roof, one of which will be a toilet bowl rug- because everything is done with humor worthy of The Simpsons. There will be magician skeletons sawing other skeletons in half, and a magician skeleton pulling something out of a hat- perhaps a rabbit skeleton? There will be a skeleton casting amazing hand-shadows on the wall, and there will be tall jets of glowing green water bursting from cauldrons. But first, the cauldrons have to be procured, and the right size has not been located yet.

Rick is a member of our haunt club. After making arrangements, I paid a visit to Rick's house to donate some skeletons, and I saw the FCG rigs used to animate the scenes were laid out to be spray-painted: 

Rick graciously gave me a tour of his beautiful home, where shadows cause a heart to form on the bathroom wall:

And I loved the recently renovated yard, with 3 water features including the pool with water falling all along the edge of the retaining wall:

and this diamond-patterned trellis of star jasmine:

But my favorite room was the game room, with seemingly every toy and game from my childhood displayed on custom shelving:

I asked if he had one of my favorite toys, the Mattel Thingmaker Fright Factory, which had little metal molds of skeletons in which you poured liquid Goop. After heating and setting, you had your own rubbery skeleton. I used to hang mine from straws and make them dance, marionette-style. 
He did indeed have a bunch of Thingmakers, including the Fright Factory:

Rick's game room is no museum- the toys and games get get use. I was so happy when Rick gave me a skeleton they had made with the Fright Factory a while ago, I hadn't seen one in eons!

By the way, Rick recently chased and tackled a car thief! He also told of one the home's original occupants stopping by. The man said the house used to be the only one on the block, but there was no block of tract homes then- it was surrounded by orange groves. The man, who had no knowledge of Boney Island, knocked Rick's socks off when out of no where he told how they use to love to decorate the house extensively for Halloween! It seems the house was destined to always be a Halloween house.
These days, just standing and talking with Rick's family and a neighbor on the front lawn causes more than one car to stop and the occupants to lean out and ask "Is Boney Island coming back?"
This year, happily, the answer is Yes, Boney Island is returning! 

To see what the fuss is about, watch a video:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Evil Red-Eyed Gnomes

   Want to bring a happy little garden gnome over to the dark side?  An attitude adjustment can be had just by the addition of eerily glowing red eyes. Instructions here at Hack-a-day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gnombies -The Zombie Gnomes

Attack of the Gnombies
Mini Gnombie (Pre-order) - Click Image to Close
The Gnombies are coming! The Gnombies are coming! Coming October 7, 2011, that is.
Pre-order your very own zombie gnome today at
Regular-size Gnombies are 20" tall by 14" wide, and a mini size gnome zombie is 6" tall. Gift certificates, stickers and t-shirts are available as well.

You may also enjoy my previous posts about skeleton gnomes (click here and here to view them)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Skull Chairs, Skeleton Chairs

Plastic “Souviens toi que tu vas mourir (Remember that you will die)” skull chair from the  “Nouvelle Vague (New Wave)" collection by the French company Pool:
  2) From the Vanitas collection by Vladi Rapaport:  

3: Sensory Deprivation Skull chair by Dutch Atelier van Lieshout:

4) Noah Scalin of the wonderful skull-a-day blog created this Very Skairy Skull Chair, by cutting into an ordinary chair with a scroll saw:
  5) Scott Campbell's tattooed leather chair at Bergdorf Goodman:

  6) Skullduggery by Georgina Brett Chinnery for Bombarock:  

7) harp chair:
8) Michael Aram aluminum and stainless steel:
9) Hardwood Skeleton Chairs at Olde Goode Things in Manhatten:
10) Resin Skeleton Chair by Medieval Collectibles:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wicked Plants and Wicked Bugs

Have you heard about the man who wanted to commit suicide by Black Widow spider? He mail-ordered a Black Widow that was guarenteed to provide a fatal injury. It didn't quite work and he had to resort to other poisons.
I heard this tale last night as I had the pleasure of meeting author Amy Stewart and hearing her talk about her new book "Wicked Bugs."
She had come to a Pasadena, CA, bookstore and was only a 15 minute walk from my work, so I had to go. Actually, there was no need to twist my arm, since I had enjoyed her previous book "Wicked Plants" quit a lot.

Of these wicked living things, plants and bugs, Ms. Stewart  has concluded that we are not afraid enough of plants, and we are overly afraid of bugs.

Regarding plant materials, she says many people will eat anything if told it’s “all natural” -but hey, cyanide is all natural, strychnine is all natural, and they are poisonous.

She was kind enough to hand out bugs encased in acrylic so we could all get a close look. The bugs were obtained through The God of Insects. Yes, that is actually what he is called.

Hairy legs like this do give me the creeps:

There were 2 collections like this passed around, but I didn't get a look at the other one:

It was interesting to see how big a bed bug is (its that speck to the left of the cockroach. So they are visible to the naked eye).

Amy spoke for about 75 minutes, telling stories of the bugs she had passed around.  Stories about the only Med Fly ever found in Miami. There was a bit of a panic and it was specially flown to Washington to be investigated to see if it was pregnant. (It wasn't).  And about the chigoe flea that burrow into people's toenails and lay eggs. Some men have actually cut their toes off because of the chigoe flea.

She told us about the Puss Caterpillar (Megalopyge opercularis), describing it as "like a little persian cat". I guess it does resemble one, a little. Very furry. But it stiiiings like a you-know-what.

Puss caterpillar. (Weird, ain't it?)
 We learned that Japanese Beetles (found on the east coast) have an adverse reaction to Pelargoniums (geraniums), so pesticides are being developed using that. We learned that brass beds helped reduce bed bug populations since the beds don't provide as many hiding places as a wooden bed does- and that the bed bugs are attracted to you by your carbon dioxide. And we learned to be on the alert for the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, which is developing into a big problem- but hasn't appeared here on the west coast. Yet.

Later, Amy Stewart signed the books we bought. 

 These are all her other books

Now I have a secret to tell you. I must whisper it, so come close. Ok, ready?
Pssst! Look for information on a wicked book giveaway, coming soon to a blog near you!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Gothic Garden: The Witch's House

My last post was about the Witch's House in Beverly Hills, but today the focus on the property's south-facing front garden. Much of this garden receives full sun, with very few areas receiving partial shade. (The photo above was taken around 6:30pm, so those are late-afternoon shadows you see.)

First of all, I would call the landscaping at the Witch's House more of a gothic "Halloween Garden" rather than a "Witch's Garden", because it does not rely heavily on the medicinal plants and herbs that are traditionally used in a witch's garden. Instead, we see a lot of fall colors, especially blacks and oranges. (Note: black plants are almost never truly black, but the term used for very dark-colored plants.)

Here, dark-leafed, orange-flowered "Dahlia Mystic Desire" mingled with green-leaved varieties of dahlias:

 A dark backdrop was achieved with this ground cover of "Dragon's Blood" sedum (Sedum spurium), shown here near the pond's edge:

Here is a planting of pygmy crimson barberry (barberis):

A variety of dark-leaved coral bells (heuchera) were used along the sidewalk, along with orange-blossoming California poppy (Eschscholzia californica, not in bloom at this time):

Even the pads of these water lilies (Nymphaea) were streaked with a very dark purple:

We also saw much attention paid to plant form and texture.  Spine-covered Euphorbia "Lomi" Thai Giant Hybrid discourages trespassers as much as the "No trespassing" sign held in the craggy branches of manzanita (Arctostaphylos).


I'm told these tall plants resembling cornstalks are called Black Sorghum and were planted by seed:

Here is a closer look at a seedhead:
Image Detail

This type of sorghum can be used in dried flower arrangements, and has healthful antioxidant properties if eaten. The sorghums are supported by uniquely loopy wire cages as seen below:

I've no clue as to the name of this distinctive plant with its alien-looking seedheads:

Curly corkscrew rush (Juncus grass curly wurly) grows like a witch's untamed hair by the pond:

I'm not sure about this weeping shrub or young tree, but I'm guessing it's some type of Weeping Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum).  The branches look like they also have a crazy twisted form:

It certainly stands out against the gothic setting of the black plants:

As I mentioned earlier, the flowers tended to be in Fall colors of orange and yellow. These are milkweed/butterfly weed (Asclepias curassavica or Asclepias tuberosa) :

Blanket flowers (Gaillardia) provided more orange and yellow blooms:

Another dahlia from the Mystic series, coreopsis, and gaillardia:

Black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens') line the pathway in the west side garden:
The dark plantings and grassy plants with an intentionally overgrown look blend the parkway strip into the overall scheme:

The hardscaping tied the home's Storybook archetechture to the surroundings by the use of various-sized stone in walls and and in walkways:

Landscape lighting was provided by rock-shaped fixtures. This one was postioned by the only rosebush I saw in the garden, a rose with dark red blooms:

Trellises are custom made twists of wire and resemble thorny vines:

The wooden fences had uneven pickets:

The pond is used as a moat; one must cross the bridge to get to the front door of the Witch's house:

The bridge used faux tree trunks, formed from concrete, as pillars:

This etched rock by the front gate, (partially covered by sweet peas Lathyrus odoratus that are past their prime), credits landscape designer Jane Marshall. She can be reached at her website,

Hope you enjoyed this garden tour. If I've misidentified a plant, please leave a comment to let me know.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...