Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fright Dome

Less than one week until Halloween--Hallowe'-en, short for All Hallows Evening, the celebration of the night before the old Pagan celebration of All Saints' Day (later co-opted by Pope Gregory III, who, in Papal tradition, sought to divert attention to his deity by moving the Catholic All Saints' Day from May to November 1); also known as Samhain, from the Gaelic word for summer's end--a celebration of the end of the light, fruitful days of summer, and the beginning of the lonely, scarce days of winter's darkness.

Last night there was a zombie walk down on Fremont Street; I unfortunately had to take a pass on that, but I'm very anxious to hear how it went (I suspect Mercedes will blog it). The reason I missed was entrapment--my daughters got caught in the kind of dramatic turmoil of which only school age kids are capable; and, long story short, I should know better than to let schoolkids coordinate events without close oversight, and the only way for me to keep my weeks-old promise to my daughters to make sure they get to Fright Dome this year was to take them myself.

So...anyway, the thing I really wanted to talk about was Fright Dome. If you've ever been to Las Vegas, Fright Dome is built inside of the Adventure Dome at Circus Circus. (note: I couldn't find any good pictures of FrightDome in action...I suspect the fog makes photography almost impossible).

If you've never been to Las Vegas, let me 'splain what this is, so you can get an idea of the coolness of this thing: imagine a glass-shrouded dome about the size of a small football stadium. Inside of the dome is an amusement park, including a roller coaster, water ride (a la Disney's Splash Mountain), 6 or 7 big carny-style rides, a midway, video games, kiddie rides, concessions, and sideshows, all anchored in the center by a massive faux-stone mountain.

Every October, that park takes on a new life as Fright Dome, a massive haunted village that is only open at night. The Circus Circus takes that amusement park and turns off all of the lights, fills it with thick fog, adds lightning/thunder generators, laser light shows, stobes, and high-end Halloween decorations: pneumatic monsters, flying demons, echoing screams filling the dome. That alone is pretty cool, but that's just the beginning.

They close down a few areas, like the laser tag maze and some of the winding caverns underneath the mountain, and construct five large, elaborate haunted houses. This year they did a licensing deal with the producers of Saw, and had a haunt called Jigsaw's Revenge, complete with live actors and electronic/pneumatic props acting out torture scenes from the movies. Very cool. There was also a hillbilly maze, a haunted hospital, and a couple others.

Roaming the haunts and the hallways in between are dozens of actors in makeup, whose sole purpose is to scare the hell out of guests. The overall theme is evil clowns, but they also had hooded hillbillys with chainsaws (real, but no chain attached), mad scientists, popular baddies like Jason, Mike Meyers, etc, flying monkeys from Wizard of Oz, and dozens of generally weird characters.

In all it was fun--I loved the creepy ambiance of seeing big rides like Chaos and The Inverter running in the dark, their signage lights barely visible through the fog, and the packs of kids running and screaming while being chased by a green-haired clown with a chainsaw. The waits were killer, though...about 40-50 minutes on some haunts, which wasn't fun. Also, I was probably amongst the seven oldest people in the building, security guards included.

As much as it sucked missing the Zombie Walk, the kids had a good time, and I can say that I've done the Fright Dome. Finally.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Poltergeist IV: Cable Guy

In keeping with our (well, October tradition, my Netflix queue is stacked with horror movies. Last night was the BluRay release of Poltergeist. I gotta say, that movie really stands up well. I'm sure they did some remastering for BluRay, but it looked great, the story was good, and it was just a well-built movie.

I haven't seen it since the theatrical release (I was in 3rd grade, I think), and I remember not sleeping well for the next 3 days. Poltergeist, I think, is responsible for my propensity to put scary-ass clowns in my stories. It's interesting how different parts of a movie resonate with you as an adult, as opposed to the same movie watched as a child, how the family and children become more your concern than the safety of the adults--especially since Carol Anne was a dead-ringer for my oldest daughter when she was five.

Also, watching Craig T Nelson smoke pot while reading a book about Reagan's greatness was funny.

I'm a data fiend, and after I watch a movie I will almost always hit the IMDB to see what the actors have done recently, where they got started, and useless trivia about the movie. I knew that the little girl who played Carol Anne died during the third Poltergeist (mis-diagnosed medical condition), but I didn't realize that the actress who played the older sister was murdered by her boyfriend right after the movie was finished. Tragic. The guy served I think 6.5 years. Also tragic. Both of them are interred near each other in the same cemetery.

Anyway, I think my wife gets the next movie in the queue, and then I get one more scary flick before Halloween: Creepshow.
No idea why, but this My Chemical Romance song (Helena) has been stuck in my head for days. I had to track down the video. If you've never seen it, take a look. The song is very hooky and over-produced, but it tells kind of a catchy story. Also, the video is stunning.

My Chemical Romance "Helena" from Cinelicious on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Free Speech, Protected Actions

I don't want to use this blog as a political platform, per se. My primary purpose here is to connect with writers and readers and those who appreciate literature in all genres, be it Faulkner's immersive southern plantations or Tolkein's hobbit-holes and dead marshes or Herbert's spice-scented political landscapes, or even Sam Harris' biting secular lectures or the DT Suzuki's wonderful insights into Zen Buddhism.

The topic of anti-blasphemy legislation and special protections for religious groups has been coming up quite a bit recently, and, regardless of where I stand on that topic philosophically, it can--and will--impact literature sooner or later. Hence this essay.

Caitlin Kiernan tweeted this article earlier today, and I RT'd it in kind. It is an Op/Ed from USA Today columnist Jonathan Turley (also, a more measured analysis from The Desmoines Register) that gives an overview of a UN resolution co-authored by the US and Egypt regarding religious protection: "...the Obama administration supported the effort of largely Muslim nations in the U.N. Human Rights Council to recognize exceptions to free speech for any "negative racial and religious stereotyping.") Read that last part again and see if your head has exploded: Egypt, not exactly known for human rights or religious tolerence, has co-authored a resolution with the U.S. (home of Larry Flynt, Scientology, and adopted homeland of Ayn Rand) to define the international stance on free speech and religious protections. And it doesn't seem to be a let's-synthesize-our-ideas thing, it looks to be more of a concession on behalf of the US for whatever political reason.

The resolution, as I understand it, doesn't really have teeth, in that it carries no punitive measures and no body of enforcement (if I'm incorrect, please tell me). But, this has to be taken into context; in the last few years, we've seen violence, murder, and attempts of both done in the name of religion (the fatwah against author Salman Rushdie, the UK riots against Denmark for cartoon depictions of Muhammad, parents who refuse their sick children healthcare because their religion prohibits it, child marriage and abuse in the name of a person claiming they have been appointed as a diety's representative on earth). And that doesn't even take into consideration the "sanctioned" violence in the name of religion: Pakistan v India, Israel v Palestine, Ireland v N Ireland). If you take away people's ability to discuss the hows and whys of bad things like violence and war and crime within context, you kill the discussion before it has even started and you, to some extent, legitimize the activities.

I am not positing that violence is the domain of religion, nor that there is necessarily causation therein. I will say, though, that history has shown that a person or group with the inclination to violence or general nefas often have no problem doing it under the flag of piety. And the reason they do that, I submit, is that religion is given special protections against things that would often be seen as illegal, immoral, or objectionable if done outside of the realm of those protections.

There are oh-so-many reasons that giving religions--any religion--international standing as protected from derision or criticism is a horrible, horrible idea. Not the least of which is the potential for abuse of the "privilege", iterations of which I'm sure any of you could conjure up in horrifying detail.

But, let's take the very American (I can't profess to speak for my friends in the UK, Australia, Candada, etc) staple: Freedom of Speech--the very cornerstone of the Constitution, the first amendment added to the Bill of Rights in 1791. How can the concepts of "not criticizing religion" be synthesized with the Bill of Rights? I submit that it can't, not without outright destroying that document and all it stands for.

Criticize a Christ Scientist for letting their child die because insulin is not allowed? Out.
Protest a Scientology office? Out.
Make a joke about the Pope's funny hat collection? Out.
Debate creationism vs evolution? Out.

All horrible things to lose the ability to do. Not reduced privileges--eliminated rights.

Now, take that into consideration how this affects you, the author/reader. For this, I employ gross O'Reilly/Olbermann-style hyperbole. Why? Because it drives home the point of where this, unchecked, leads.

First of all, put Dan Brown's ass in jail, tout de suite. Salman Rushdie must be extradited to the U.S. and turned over to his accusers. Neil Gaiman, who is in China this month, may just want to stay there (between American Gods, Anansi Boys, and Good Omens, he may only be facing 10-15 if he behaves). Rand is lucky that she's already passed, she'd be first against the wall.

/End hyperbole.

If you care, what can you do? I don't know. I'm not an activist. But, a few places to start may be the Comic Book Defense Fund, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and American Civil Liberties Union...I'm sure there are plenty more places out there you can talk to. I'm not sure what they can/would do, but harrassing your Congresscritters is ALWAYS a good idea. Do NOT let these folks off easy (not just on this topic--ANY topic).

Most importantly, I think, is for all of us to be aware of the discussions that are taking place, and how they affect all of us, and make sure that the people around you are aware as well. It isn't enough to just say "hate speech should be prohibited". If the PATRIOT act and DMCA taught us anything, it is that overly general laws can, and will, be abused by somebody to violate existing law and rule. And such laws tear through skin and attach their sucking tendrils at the bone, and will not be removed.

So, that's my rant. Apologies to anyone offended or bored, but that's what is on my mind today.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Governor Called, Something About a Stay of Elocution?

I think I'd mentioned a while ago that my employer (-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named) was planning on sacking me (and a good sized group of my friends) sometime in Q1 pursuant to a business venture with another company. I've been sitting on nickels and dimes, putting of critical house upgrades (missing sections of roofing, carpet the dog tore out...pretty important stuff) until I could find something steady, which, in a city approaching 14% unemployment, wasn't looking good. Anyway, they just announced today that we have an 18 month reprieve, which at the same time takes a huge weight off of my shoulders, while making me want to slam my head in a car door and curse in Yiddish. If I was still writing for The Examiner, I would be typing up an article called Demoralizing the Masses: How Not to Fire People.

So, anyway, there it is. Not quite a microfiber swaddling cloth and a solid oak crib, but it gives me some breathing room to patch the damned roof and not put every spare dime in savings. Well, not as many dimes, anyway.
I'm sitting at about 26k on another story. One of these days I'll finish one of the damn things. I think the problem is that I learn so much about writing each time I work on a project that by the time I get to 50k or so, I start to doubt myself and want to apply those lessons to something new. I need to get over that and stay on task.

So, needless to say, I won't be doing NaNoWriMo this year. I ought to be close to 35k on this story by then, I don't want to lose momentum (with Halloween coming up, AND a conference I have to attend for work, I won't get much done between next Tuesday and Nov 1). I'm fighting the short story bug tooth and nail. I also have a story that I did about 20k on and put aside that I thought would make a great comic, I may draft a script and see if any drawers are interested this winter.
In keeping with holiday tradition, we're renting a few scary/monster flicks this month (rare for us) to set the mood. My oldest daughter and I plowed through the 3+ hour DVD of It last week, which I'd never seen. The ending was weak, but Tim Curry was awesome as Pennywise. He is really an underrated actor, that guy...I loved him in Clue, too. He ends up in hammy roles and doing audio for cartoons too often. I'd like to see him in some killer dramatic role someday.

I think Poltergeist is next in the queue. Every kid should watch Poltergeist before bed at least once, right?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Halloween Props Part IV

(continued from yesterday)

In which I put nasty things in a box, and the true extent of my sickness is revealed.

One of the projects I had planned was a half of a zombie sticking up out of the ground, preferably with a motorized 3-axis skull on top and a grunty voice track. Due to budget constraints, the motorized skull was out. The natural solution to what to put in the toe pincher was to combine these two projects, and have a zombie peeking out of the coffin.

A big part of what I really wanted to do with the zombie was "corpsing"...taking a dry skeleton and making it look all meaty and greasy and rotten.

First step: a skull and a couple of skeleton hands.You can find these at a lot of Halloween supply shops, or buy direct from the Anatomical Chart Company, who I think makes them. They are designed primarily for lab/MD office/school use, but ones that are of lower quality (missing parts, discolored, etc) they sell cheap. They are perfect for this project.

Next: I pulled out a few of his teeth, removed outward-facing hardware (clasps that hold on the skullcap, etc, but not the springs that hold the jaw on...different tactic there). There are a lot of parts that come off for inspection (the entire faceplate from mid-eye to lower nose comes off so you can see the sinusus). Those got glued in place as well as a couple of bits that had broken off in shipping, and rough, machined edges got sanded.

While skull-shopping, I also picked up a liter bottle of liquid latex. This stuff is awesome. You can do fun stuff with it. I had heard that you can paint it directly on your skin to make kind of faux-clothing (go ahead and google that, but you may want to wait until you get home from work...), and my daughters and I played around with making gloves out of it. Really fun stuff.

Anyway, here comes the fun part, in handy instruction list form:

1. Lay down paper. This stuff is messy. Do not wear latex gloves--latex sticks to latex, and you'll have five pound hands before too long.

2. Unroll a cotton ball. Betcha didn't know cotton balls are actually rolls, did you? Me neither. Look closely, you'll see the spiral pattern. Find a gap and unroll...very easy.

3. Soak the cotton with latex and slather it on the skull. It really is that simple. It's messy and kind of unwieldy, but once you get it stuck to the skull, you can smear it down and smooth it, shape it, do all kinds of cool things. Some people put plastic eyeballs in the skull, I chose to go more corpse-realistic and took some of the dried latex that stuck to my fingers and jammed it in the eye sockets and nose hole to look like dried skin and cartilage. I really wish I would have filmed this part. Next year, I'll do a full video tutorial if I do another one. Try to stick with how muscle and sinew naturally lay on the body--how an eyelid pulls across the socket, how the jaw muscle goes behind the outer edge of the eye socket. Be sure to cover up the springs with latex (conveniently, I think that's where a muscle or tendon or something is, it looks very natural covered up)

Same procedure with the hands, with one exception: they have to be posed first, as this stuff dries hard. I had to climb into the casket holding the skeleton hands and pose in the way that I thought my actor would be--climbing out, reaching for the next victim (or, if you have a more optimistic viewpoint, a senior citizen asking for help from the nice young folks visiting). So: pose them where you want them, and apply the latex cotton. You can apply as much or as little as you goal was to show meat and facial structure as well as exposed bone.

4. Let it dry overnight. Even at this stage, it looks pretty damned impressive, I think. A few years back, Amy and I drove to L.A. to see the BodyWorlds exhibit (they have a similar show here in Vegas now, I think at the Luxor), where plastinated corpses are displayed in various poses. This stuff looks just like that--very much like un-dyed turkey jerky.

5. Paint. There are a lot of ways to go with this. Some folks use dark wood stain, some use diluted black or brown or green paint, some hand paint the whole thing in detail. I wanted to use materials I had around the house to get the right texture and color, and ended up mixing black paint and cherrywood stain, about 1:3 I guess. The two didn't mix well, but it gave it a nice splotchy, uneven look. The only thing I didn't like was that 1. toward the bottom of the paint cup it got dark and gloopy without warning, and 2. the end result was shiny (which looks wet, so it isn't too bad, I guess, just not how a 20 year dead corpse would look)

6. Body. This part was pretty easy: pick up 12 feet of 1" PVC and some 45°, 90°, and H connectors and put them together in the rough shape you want. Add thrift store clothes. Once you get the forearms the correct length, cut notches in the pipe and slip the hand in, attach with a bolt. Apply more latex cotton and stain just like with the skull and hands to cover the pipe (same with the neck). I used a little bit of stain on the cuffs and collar to make it look like decaying corpse juice soaked into the fabric.

7. Sound. An old set of computer speakers, an iPod, and some zombie sounds from the internet, cleaned up and gapped for consistency. I also added some lights in the casket for highlights and ambience (red, but I may switch to green).

And there we are: Jerkyboy. The video clip is my first live test with him done with lighting (hard to see on the vid) and the lightning box running in the background.

There are a couple more projects that I may or may not have time for...if so, of course I'll post. Otherwise, I'll get some good HD video and more pix of the big day up after Halloween. Hope you've enjoyed so far, with you could be here to help scare the pants off of the neighbors.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Halloween Props Part III

This is the post where I was supposed to lay out my killer project...well, this is half of it. The post got pretty long so I decided to split it into the two distinct phases of the project.

This is the project I had been looking forward to building for months.

I knew I wanted to do something with a coffin. I didn't know what, but I had always wanted to build an old-style toe pincher coffin. Some quick size estimates in hand, I ran down to the hardware store and picked up a stack of 6" fencing slats (cheapest I could find was $2 a board...wood fencing is pretty rare in the desert). I'm not a carpenter by any stretch of the imagination, so I was kind of making this part up as I went--as you all with any kind of wood skills will quickly see.

My strategy was as simple as it gets: lay the boards out, draw the lid to fit around an adult, snap a chalk line, cut, and screw together. Lay the lid across antother section of boards, outline, cut, screw. Figure out how deep to make it, cut some boards, screw them together. Dead simple and inelegant (and it shows in the quality, but I wasn't concerned...the rougher it looked the better the illusion, I figured. I wouldn't repeat that strategy for something I was going to sell or display in the house). The end result looked passable and seemed fairly sturdy.

Next question was: what to put in it? I had wanted to do some kind of automation, possibly either a skull kit with movement on 3 axes (as pretty much mastered by the guys over at, or possibly a Monster In a Box (where a closed box shakes or the lid moves or some other movement that alludes to something nasty inside that wants out). The big problem ended up being that due to the tenuous state of my employment, I had to cut my budget wa-a-ay back for this Halloween. So, the three axis skull was out. Maybe next year.

Short version of the MIAB: I went too cheap, experimented, and failed miserably. My plan was to rig a motor and gear--a hand held drill, fairly commonly used for these I was told--and a motion detector so that once a guest approached, the motor would spin and the lid would open and close. And oh, did it ever. Holy crap.

Lesson 1: if you use a drill from a pawn shop, spend the extra $5 for variable speed. My mechanism worked great in testing, but the problem was that the motor spun so fast that it literally started to tear the coffin apart within seconds. Even after more reinforcing with cross braces, gorilla glue, and more screws and brackets, the result was the same. It wasn't going to last more than a few minutes before falling apart.

Lesson 2: a drill isn't the best solution for this, variable speed or not (I hooked an off the shelf rheostat--the kind you would use to dim your house lights with a rotary switch--onto the power cable, and it wouldn't even turn on). I asked some of the very cool folks at for help, and many of the responses said that a wiper motor was the way to go; a drill is going to have trouble with that kind of weight load, and at slower speeds loses a lot of it's power, meaning less strength to open the lid and more potential problems. You can buy a speed regulator (kind of like a rheostat but designed for power tools like drills and routers), but they start at about $20.

So, then, the question became: spend more money on a power regulator and hope that it would still be able to lift the heavy lid, buy and mount a wiper motor and 12V converter along with the proper gears and levers, or go cheap and pull together a sufficiently disturbing static prop. Finances being tight, I opted for the latter.

All was not lost. I combined two projects into one and made something that I think it pretty cool for a static prop.

To be continued...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wink Wink Nudge Nudge Saynomore

We inturrupt the Halloween prop gore-fest for a couple of literary announcements:

  1. I learned last night that I've been accepted into the Hint Fiction anthology! Woo Hoo! Very excited about that. I've seen some other folks announce, and being in the company of people like Barry Napier and Mercedes Yardley, not to mention Pulitzer nominee Joyce Carol Oates, makes me smell way smarter than I really am. sniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiffffffff....ahhh...that's good fiction.
  2. Secondly, it occurred to me that during my last blog hiatus, I sold a poem and failed to post about it (although I think I did tweet it). So, in December my poem The Woodsman's Son will be up with New Myths. Very excited for that as well, particularly because 1. it was my first poem and 2. I don't know beans about poetry. It's not the smart-sounding kind of poetry with blocks of words that seem arbitrarily sewn together to invoke an emotion--it's the other kind, the kind that rhymes and tells a story and that nobody seems to write anymore. So, that is very exciting and although I admit I still don't really "get" poetry, I am content to call myself a poet--because that, too, makes me smell smart.
So that's the day's news. I'll be throwing up a post (HORK!) detailing part III of my 2009 props soon.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Halloween Props Part II

This was a smaller project, but it solved a problem I've been thinking about for a while: how do you make ribs?

In a few years of playing with store-bought and homemade Halloween props, I've decided that the reason it's so hard to find a somewhat realistic skeleton at most Halloween stores is that ribs, spines, shoulders, and hips are probably hard to cast and even harder to ship and display without breaking. You can get a 4th quality bucky skeleton on Amazon for just over $100, but my budget wouldn't allow for that this year, and I really wanted a full size skeleton.

Last year I picked up a ground-breaker: a semi-realistic set of complete skeleton arms, hands, legs, feet, and a head that you're supposed to position so it looks like it's popping up out of a grave, still half-buried--but, no midsection. I bound them together last year with aluminum scraps and wire coat hangers and set up a Pepper's Ghost illusion (where the object is lighted and displayed reflected in a pane of glass, creating the illusion of a floating ghost). The lack of shape and the metal guts weren't a problem then, as the image was so faint in the glass that nobody would know the difference. This year, however, I decided to recycle the parts into a prop that would be displayed fully, and I needed more support in the body.

There are a few tutorials on the internet for making skeleton ribs, but nothing really great: expanding foam, plastic buckets, paper mache. All different ways to tackle the problem, but I wanted something less messy and dead simple. So, using thick guage wire, plastic tubing for a sternum, duct tape, and anatomical pictures from google, I threw together a passable frame, knowing that it would be covered in some kind of cloth. But, of course, I built it while it was still hot out, and once it reached about 100 in the garage, the duct tape failed and I was left with a pile of goopy tape and loose wires. One more try with industrial glue, and viola...insta-ribs.

This creepy little creature is going to be hanging from the ceiling under a blacklight with a fan blowing up onto her shroud, so it kind of looks like a flying ghost. It will be dark enough that you won't be able to see her metal parts, but the added bulk in the chest should help sell the illusion a bit more. The 200W lightning flashes will be right behind her, and there will be branches from my poor dead elm tree framing her, aiding in the flying-above-the-graveyard thing.

Next project: a nasty creature who goes by the nickname Jerkyboy.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Halloween Props Part I

I've been holding off on this for a while (and this may partially account for my absence from the web for a while, this has been in play for a couple of months), but I'm at a point where I have some pictures to share. As you may remember from last year, I'm kind of a wacko for Halloween. This year the wacko-ness took a precipitous plunge into insanity.

I have three or four major projects that will make up the garage haunt this year, and I'm going o journal the making-of here (I started journaling at a depreciated blog, but I thought one blog is easier to neglect than two). May be more info than some of you want, but it has been damn fun and a lot of work and, in keeping in the wonderful, cooperative spirit of all of my internet literary friends, I thought there may be some gems in here you can use to scare the piss out of your neighbor kids, too.

I'm here to help.
Project one was a lightning machine. If you follow the link to my old blog, you'll find some info there. This post is about project two: Skull Fountain.

This is an outset of an idea from last year. I had two styrofoam skulls from walmart and an old desktop fountain pump--so, needless to say, I built a fountain to spew blood that dripped down the skull-faces. It was nice, but a couple of problems: 1. the red-dyed water stained the skulls pink and 2. I needed a Monster Mud project, and this one screamed upgrade.

Step one: I took a cheap plastic bowl and draped some mesh screen around the base, and a rough wire frame around the top. I had no idea what the end result was going to look like, but as Monster Mud gives a faux-stone result, I thought just a rough carved fountain was a good place to start. I'm not an artist, so I wasn't too stressed about making it extremely balanced (which was good, because it wasn't). If you look at the crest of the arch over the top skull, you'll see a yellow-ish tube--that is a T I made in the hose leading from the pump in the basin. I cut holes in the top of the T, so that when the water turns on, it will (theoretically) drip menacingly across the faces of the skulls.

Step two: drape screen across the rest of the wire frame.

Step three: make Monster Mud. If you've never worked with MM, you're in for a treat. This stuff is messy and difficult to work with and generally just a lot of fun. It's the kind of material that, once you see what it can do, will make you want to just keep making new things with it. MM is simple to make: take drywall joint compound and dark paint (I used black), and mix to the consistency you need. Slather on with abandon. Tip 1: it's messy. Tip 2: it gets heavy fast--over-build your underlying structures.

The next steps basically involved slathering on layers (five total), dusting lightly with white spray paint to lighten it up a bit (I thought the original color would be too dark to see the dripping blood), and about six coats of grout sealer.

Below is the final result. I've tested it with water and the drip mechanism did actually work (glory be to Zeus), but I'm waiting until Halloween to use dyed water, just in case it gets past the grout sealer and stains. As with all of these projects, I'll have final action shots and videos posted early in November.

Next project: Flying Witch Ghost.