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SPECIAL: 12/10/2015 Silver Lining: Nice Guys Finish Last
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We didn't solve world hunger, or bring peace among nations, but we did something better:
We kicked major league ass and ascended to the top of the heap. Number two best haunt in Moun....
Wait a minute............TWO????
"First losers," Jeff murmured as we headed into the council chambers.
"No food or drinks either," Greg noted with disdain.
"It's a goddamned participation award," Jeff continued
"Seats look stiff too," Greg offered
"Which one's the Mayor?" Jeff asked.
"How the hell should I know," Greg snarled.
"Sh*t. It's Monday and Laureinzo's is closed too...can't even head there for a drink afterwards."
"Do I CARE about Laurienzo's any more?? That's SO 2015."
And so began our shiney happy moment of honor from the Town.
Truth be told, we were not at all dissappointed. OK - so, it wasn't a plaque. And it DID say "Runner Up"
But it WAS recognition. And it WAS on TV!! (see below)
I mean, Tom Brady? Sixth Round pick. That's a runner up.
Michael Jordan? He was passed over by the varsity team and played JV. Runner up.
Even the Greek Gods had a dude who was the God of Afterthoughts - Epimetheus - look it up.
So there is honor in not finishing first....cause you FINISH. You do the things you need to do and you do them well and there is honor in that.
And hey, if we were 2nd out of 2, and we finished last, guess that makes us nice guys!
All snarkiness and bravado aside, we wanted to give a shout out to our new partner in screams, Joan Lerch, who also was honored by the town. She is a true "spirit" in the community and is anything but the Queen of Darkness! She's a bright light and you need to meet her one day to "get it."
And while here on the Mount, our Mayor may work a LITTTTTTTTLE slower than we impatient haunters like (took him 2 years, but here, time is relative), he is a man of his word. On Monday night, December 7, Mount Airy's Town Council opened it's meeting with the most important act the Mayor of this town has ever executed.
We got our moment in the spotlight for running what we think is Best Damned Halloween Haunt in our small little world...and we like this world!
SPECIAL: 12/7/2015 The Extra Present Behind the Tree
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Before we start - you GOTTA check out
The SCARE CAM Video
OK, so apparently, we lied...11/11/15 was NOT the final blog of the 2015 season.... or maybe it was and we'll later deem these new blogs as the first of 2016, cause Jeff and I HAVE already started kicking ideas around for 2016...and pray most of the early ideas fade as they are WAY too off the skids for the kids
But while we're on the subject of Santa, and giving, and the joy of the season, and trees, and all that rot, ever had that post-Christmas euphoria when you find that one present that was overlooked, maybe pushed under the tree skirt, just out of view? Is that the BEST feeling, or what? Or, ever have that unexpected holiday visit from someone you just could not have imagined would show? Or, ever buy that last gift and the cashier hands you like a free umbrella or coffee mug and your brain reacts the same way it would if you got the call for the Academy Award?
So, it's Sunday night, Jeff is decorating for Christmas (finally), and I was watching football and swallowing beers at the Inland Dock Bar, having already swallowed enough smart-ass comments from neighbors for my Christmas lights which Luke and I proudly hung a week earlier
When down on my phone there arose such a chatter
I sprang to iMessage to see what was the matter
Away through the lock screen I pecked in a flash
And located texts buried under the apps
Thank you - thank you - that was spontaneous
So, my poetry sucks. Get over it. Meantime, a screenshot is worth 1000 words....
And there it is
Think we're joking? Here is the ACTUAL
Mount Airy Town Council Agenda
for tonight...look it up - it's official, and we are the town's TOP priority!!!
So, WHAT WHAT??!! We da BOMB!!
ANOTHER major goal reached!!!! We are getting our damned plaque**!!
To refresh your gord, here were the goals:
1. To actually get off our asses and do a haunt this year after a VERY comfortable year off (done)
2. Draw a BIG crowd (750 beats the goal by over a hunge)
3. Make the papers ("We made THREE!" and counting - we expect to make the Messenger in the council report next week)
4. Get "The Damned Plaque**!!" (**we will deem a certificate a plaque as we are really not that picky and very easily mollified)
Like "The Jeef," the 5th is an elusive thing.... Number 5 always seemed like it would be a lot easier than it has been. You see, there's this quaint little joint down on Main Street. Makes great grub, excellent bevvies, killer atmosphere, and a really cool staff and ownership gang. But for some reason, they are just not that active on social media. And while we HATE to say goodbye, this is the LAST CALL for
Laurienzo's Brick Oven Cafe.
CALL TO ACTION: CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL THEM ABOUT US???????
Come on fellas, we're calling you out by name now - come on Bruce, Jay, we're begging.
Just comp us an appetizer for God Sake. You saw how easy we caved on the "plaque." We're settling for a certificate!!!!
We'll drop our demand for a meal, but for all that's good and pure, throw us a friggin bone here! It's the Holidays! Have you no sense of charity? Where's the community spirit?? Or sense of humor?
I mean, you do have incredibly tender braised short ribs and the brussel sprouts in that brown gravy blew my mind. But they SHOULD have because we DID pay full fare. If they were comped, we would be OK if they were a little cold, or if the rice was a little too starchy.
We're just saying....you're the best restaurant in the area. You're our go-to. You make our weekends special. And we want to keep spreading the word for you, but...
We're getting a LITTLE bit important around here...so you MAY want to get in on the ground floor before the Council reconsiders and does an ACTUAL PLAQUE....
We want to thank Mayor Pat Rockinberg and the Town Council for this awesome gesture. All kidding aside, it means a lot to us and humbles us (which is REALLY hard to do...I mean, have you been reading this pompus ass blog we write? we're a LITTLE bit full of ourselves)
OH....and call it #6.....we will be on TV
Council meetings are on Channel 23 for Carroll County and Channel 99 for Frederick County
Broadcast live (Monday, 12/7 at 7:30 pm)
Rebroadcast Monday’s 7:30 p.m., Wednesday’s 3:00 p.m., Saturday’s 1:00 p.m.
Maybe we'll have a viewing party in the Phoenix Room.....
FINAL: 11/11/2015 Final 2015 Blog - SCARE CAM!!!
And so here it is.
The FINAL Blog of the 2015 haunt season!
Took a little work to extract all the video and sort through 6+ hours of video, but hey, for you? The world!!
We could not have asked for a better ride. And again, we have so many people to thank for it, we did our best to catch most of them here in our
Our 11/3/2015, Credits and Thank You's Blog Entry
Today also marks the end of our breath holding. Looks like we can now admit our SINGLE failure this year. In spite of a valiant effort which led to us:
getting a new promise from the Mayor
systematically destroying the non-existent Art Department
making THREE newspapers (and probably a 4th, as I expect to read an article soon here York College: The Spartan, Newspaper)
pulling off the BIGGEST yard haunt in the county
rising to MFS status
shattering the 2000 hit marker on this blog
were never able to catch the eye or ear of Laurienzo's Brick Oven Cafe.
And so, in all likelihood, we will seek a new "Official Food Joint of Necrosis valley" next year - so get ready Concetta's. Your Ruben's fueled a lot of long days this year!
Anyway - before we get to the final crown here, we offer one last heartfelt thank you, and a few GREAT haunt night photos (with no captions - these speak for themselves)!!
Scare Cam Video is after the photos!
Here it is - with no further adieu!
Merry Christmas to ALL!!
11/7/2015 Eyes on the Prize
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Begging you again, if you have not yet read the Our 11/3/2015, Credits and Thank You's Blog Entry, PLEASE read it and pat one of the great folks mentioned therein on the back for their hard work!
If you read more than ONE blog entry this season, you probably picked up the 3 main running inside jokes (THINLY veiled jokes to be sure):
Inside Joke 1, or IJ1: The fictitious "Art Department" was lazy, ducked work, and generally sucked as an art department. You saw the haunt - you saw the art. You make the call. Quite honestly, those who DID help with art and design, in our opinion, KILLED it. The haunt, inside and out, looked incredible...so...that joke refutes itself.
IJ2: Second joke focused on a shameless effort to get a free meal out of this town for our efforts. So, we repeatedly
called out (and then overtly plugged) Laurienzo's Brick Oven Cafe. Why? We friggin love it there. We figured it would be humorous to call them out and see if word got back to them (as sort of a social media/social marketing experiment).
It was a win/win. It was a safe target. They could only benefit from our ribbing and a lot of laughs. And Laurienzo's got GREAT press. Thousands (literally...check the counter at the bottom of this page) of people read the blog, so it's the best money they never spent.
But, in the end, we did NOT get a free anything. It yielded nothing for old tired hungry us. Not even a delicious spinach salad with salmon, which is a delightful lunch option when paired with a cup....OK. You know, Stop it - we're done wasting our blog space.
If they ain't biting
We ain't writing.
We know they know...because we know someone told them. And that hurts. Love is important...and it's painful when not reciprocated. Just sayin...
IJ3: Admittedly, this was the dodgiest of the 3. Summoning our best mock swagger and pseudo-"how-dare-they" hubris, we often exclaim vociferously that this town DOES owe us a plaque for our effort and dammit, they need to pony up because they PROMISED. Tell you what, you can get up to speed quickly if you just read this archived blog...from 9/18/2015 Where's my Damned Plaque??!!
Now...for this particular IJ, we always ran the risk that the good old Mayor would actually show up, call us out, and punch Jeff...because Greg would be hiding behind him, so, no way the Mayor could get to Greg.
And we KNEW he knew, because WE PERSONALLY Chopped his house with our delta team and we know he had our web address and surely read it. I am sure you now know where this is going...
Cue the Mayor
Here he came...parting the crowd, down the Court toward the entrance...his regal robes flowing, the stalwart march of his castle guard brushing back well-wishers and crushing his detractors. The trumpets pealed. The armor gleamed in the moonlight.
It was time to face the music.
Actually, Jen said, "Hey, Greg, there's Pat. Go say hello." And Greg did.
I like Pat. He doesn't know me from Hootie and the Blowfish but we have spoken a few times and I like him - good fellow.
Long story short, we had a big laugh as I filled him in on how we had been busting his chops and pleading for "the plaque" he promised us at (where else?) Laurienzo's a few years back
I kidded him (sort of) and said, "So, are we getting the damned plaque or not??!"
And guess what he did?
He doubled down.
He told me, and I quote, "You can expect something."
We now need to thank the Mayor for what he DID give us...another year's worth of material!!!
We'll keep an eye out for that plaque
Scare Cam footage is almost ready! Don't be a stranger!
11/5/2015 Inside the Contagion
Before we start, if you missed Our 11/3/2015, Credits and Thank You's Blog Entry, PLEASE read it - too many people worked too hard to not be acknowledged, and we want everyone to know what great folks chipped in to make this a success.
Apparently, even a $1,000 HD video camera which operates to perfection is no match for progress. With almost SEVEN hours of video stored over the 2 nights, NOW we learn that none of the current operating systems support streaming of video from our trusty old HD camera to a PC. And...we realized the old cam is a lot older than we thought!
Not to worry. A quick side stop at Best Buy and a $60 work around later and we were finally able to begin pulling hours and hours of video from the scare cam.
Last night, we were finally able to isolate video of the test walk through of the haunt complete with live actors. AND - WE REITERATE OUR CALL TO ANYONE WHO HAS VIDEO!! SEND IT TO US AND WE'D LOVE TO FEATURE IT!! Use This Feedback Link to leave contact info
I think the results are decent, but in night vision, we lost a lot of color, lighting, pop and sizzle.
We got what we got and we give it to you. That's part of our new "Happy Accident" Philosophy at Necrosis Valley. We roll with the punches
And while I'd LOVE to add another gratuitous Bob Ross meme, I think we've delayed you enough. Hopefully, in the next few days, we'll have scare cam footage here
so please check back!!!
Till then, we give you, Necrosis Valley Haunts 2015 offering:
11/3/2015 Credits and Thank You's
It would be completely inappropriate for the first post-mortem blog to be anything other than "thank you's." Because there would be no post-mortem blog without the help we received....because without the help, there would have been no show!!
And so great credit and huge thanks to the following:
The Town of Mount Airy:You'd have to live here to get it, but the people of this community make it something that simply exists nowhere else. We all know that there are only a few times in life where we stand in long lines and shake hands with those we know. Usually, weddings and funerals. We were blessed to spend 6+ hours greeting hundreds of the coolest and most close-knit folks you ever will see and THAT, above all, was the most special moment of the haunt for us.
Summit Ridge: For weeks you put up with Operation Chopperation Saturation, for months you awoke to the sounds of hammers and saws. And for years, you have dealt with Greg. Thank you for supporting us and being a true community and true friends.
Crimson Cloud Court: To the Mark and Rose, Jean and Ray, Mike and Jenna, Matt and Leigh, Chris and Ashley, Bill and Susan...thanks for putting up with it all. You bear the brunt. You hear us singing and screaming. And this weekend, you graciously tolerated incredible traffic, cars, people, disruption, and most of you came and joined the fun. You're great folks and the best neighbors imaginable. Thanks for being there for us.
Jacob DeNobel and Dan Munch, Carroll County Times: Cannot thank you enough for the completely awesome story you ran in the Carroll County Times. We heard a LOT of great feedback, and a lot of it commented on what a great story it was. And it made the Baltimore Sun as well!! Thanks Fellas! See you NEXT year??????
Joan Lerch: Our new buddy - the Halloween Queen! Thanks for sharing your home with us, taking an interest in our work, loaning us some props and supplies, and being such a cool part of our community! Rock on, Joan! We love you - and we'll get together to fix your fog chiller soon!
Matt McGivern: Beyond being a great friend and close neighbor, Matt ran the fire pit for us this weekend. It was the perfect touch and a perfect gathering spot for conversations and a little warm fall smoky air. Thanks, Buddy!
Barney Quinn: Opening night, we suffered a major (and expensive) equipment loss. Our primary air compressor (which operated the moving wall, the exploding fuse box, etc.) completely blew itself up. Sounded like ball bearings in the old Kenmmore dryer. As soon as Barney heard, he disappeared, only to return moments later with an industrial grade compressor which ran the haunt for the next 2 nights. Barney is a true pillar here in town - everyone knows him and loves him...and we do too. Thanks man - you saved a LOT of props and kept us rolling!
Leigh McGivern and Colleen McGivern: Leigh stepped in both nights of the haunt and worked what proved to be a MASSIVE line, sometimes approaching 100 people long. Leigh kept everything in order, chatted up the guests, and gave us the stability to control the flow into the hallways of doom. Colleen volunteered to help run things Saturday night...which is really special because Colleen is in college and was home for the weekend. To donate that rare free time meant a lot! Thanks, ladies! Without you, we'd have had to really scramble when those crowds piled in!
Many folks along the way pitched in an varying degrees to do the build, prep, costumes, food, etc. But there were a few who really were above and beyond.
Haley Keller: Haley wanted to do more, but as long as Mom and Dad are paying tuition, school, like meat, is first. Haley came back a few weekends to help with the build, and provided a lot of support and direction. Some of it, we had to temper - Haley wanted us to staple signs to every house in Mount Airy, but she's a PR major, so, it's in her nature to push the envelop! Haley acted both nights and also did some set up when she could. Beyond that, she just gave us a lot of enthusiasm and built a fire under the local help to stay engaged.
Allie, Sam, and Joey Zolkiewicz and Luke Keller: This gang provided a lot of energy, humor, ideas, and also were in the vanguard of Operation Chopperation Saturation. They made a number of late night You Got Chopped runs, delivering candy bags and a ding-dong-ditch of holiday spirit. Sam was an actor opening night. Allie was there for both. Thanks team! Well done!
Dylan Oehlke: "The Ray Lewis" of the 2015 Haunt (minus the knife, white track suit, and helpful posse of fall-guys). D is the epitome of "spirit" and was in a lot of ways the heart of the support teams (plural). There was NOTHING we asked Dylan to do for us that he would not do. He was there on the first day of the build, painting in the 200 degree summer heat. Dylan ran errands, shopped for supplies, coordinated black ops viral media raids...and most impressively, he saw very early on that the smart money was on distancing himself from the Art Department!! Dylan showed up for BOTH final set up days (which are GRUELING, frantic, and sometimes testy days). He enthusiastically accepted every task, no matter how menial or difficult. And, Dylan ended up pretty much stealing the show with his portrayal of the hazmat victim. Honestly, we could keep going on and on about the contributions D made. So lucky to know this dude, and so thankful for his help
Ali Keller: Like Dylan, Ali was a consistent presence from the time the haunt leapt from the minds and notebooks of Jeff and Greg and started to become real. Ali did so much, it's hard to capture it all.
Ali painted, decorated, shopped, catered food, participated in You Got Chopped runs, acted, and, most importantly, Ali was responsible for assembling the entire scare team of actors. Not sure I we can overstate how things nearly feel apart in the final weeks as we realized that the pool of talent for the scare team was not coming together as planned. Ali (as she so often does) stepped up and started arm-twisting. She assembled a team of actors which filled every slot we had, and gave us the authenticity, anxiety level, and creep factor we were looking for. Greg's pretty well known for his anxious nature, but Ali soothed that and kept re-assuring him all would be well - and it was - and then some! Backstage, Ali ran the show, assigning roles, coaching up the actors, and issuing real-time haunt cues personalized for each guest. Greg's going to break 4th wall now and say, I am so proud of Alison for the incredible young lady she has become. This kid simply CANNOT and WILL NOT be knocked off her game. Yeah, she has tough days, but she never fails to rebound higher than before. She showed that poise as she wrestled with an ever changing list of possible help who couldn't or wouldn't commit. Thanks, Bama! You made a HUGE difference!!
Scare Team: For years, Jeff and Greg underestimated the impact of the live actor in the haunt. But that changed in 2012 when the actors stole the show. Doubtless, 2015 would have pancaked hard without a team of live actors bringing the props, backstory, and set to life and providing that air of uncertainty and fear which makes a haunt successful. Lurking in corners, walls, graveyards, and shadows this year was the biggest scare team we have every assembled. 13 actors comprised the staff and if you saw the haunt, you know they poured their guts (almost literally) into every moment. Most of them could not even speak Sunday, throats shredded from 2 nights of screeching and wailing. LOVED it!!
The team worked out a Scare Level Signal System (SLSS) which ensured that you either got the bejesus scared from you, or that your young, skittish child was able to walk the haunt while not totally traumatized.
And we also thank the parents of these folks - especially the ones who patiently managed drop offs and pick ups.!
We give you, the 2015 Scare Team - and we know that next year, people will be BEGGING to be part of it!!
Sam Zolkiewicz, Bio Clean up
Allie Zolkiewicz, Crazed Clown
Haley Keller, Plague Doctor
Ali Keller, Hazmat Helper
Dylan Oelhke, Hazmat Victim
Patrick McGivern, The Bush
Sean McGivern, The Corner Shadow
Lizzie Rose, Contagion Victim
Aida Kebede, Garrett Child
Erin Swope, Garrett Child
Elizabeth Firlie, Garrett Child
Katie Biederman, Garrett Child
Tori Prestianni, Zombie
Lisa Zolkiewicz and Jen Keller: The Spouses.
Goes without saying that no one sacrificed as much as these two to support our silly games.
Lisa and Jen kept us fed, motivated, focused, relaxed, and ready to go. They brought us sandwiches, dragged us out for a night of relaxing at the bar, ran supply errands, worked the line and candy table, cooked soups and dogs and ordered pizzas to feed our crew.
Jeff and Greg also like to BELIEVE that Lisa and Jen sacrificed their access to these two incredible men. I mean, imagine being a wife, with husbands like us, and not being able to spend time with them. That must have been sheer Hell
Or probably not. Actually, don't think they missed us at all, even though we were AWOL for the better part of the last 3 months as we built and refined the sets and props.
But seriously, their willingness to help, and get out of the way and let this happen is huge and we really appreciate them for it. Thanks Ladies.
So...yeah...it takes a village, huh? Hopefully, we thanked everyone. Probably missed a few - and if we did - THANKS!
In the next few days, we hope to have a few more great blogs before we run out the string on the 2015 season. Stay tuned for Scare Cam videos and hopefully some video showing the haunt itself
11/2/2015 Post Mortem Coming Soon!
OK - there's just so much ground to cover, it may take a few days to sort it all out.
In the next few days, we'll blog about Opening Night, the Compressor from Hell, Trick or Treat, and the INCREDIBLE Scare Team our Talent Team pulled together
We have over SIX HOURS of Scare Cam footage to review and edit down - but we already know some scares already made the top ten (if you see Kerri Morris today, tell her to buy some Xanax).
We have a SHOUT OUT to the Mayor (eeeeeeyep! We have a BIG update in that area)!
We'll blog about break down day - which was....frankly, really sad and hard to do this year.
We also have a HUGE blog to get together just to thank everyone who pitched in and took our little yard haunt to the next level his year
And...we have to speculate about whether or not this happens again next year. It's a LOT of work, a lot of effort and pain, but we can't speak of that now because Jeff and Greg are in the mandatory 14 day cooling off period wherein they are forbidden from discussing Halloween with each other.
So, for now, we URGE you to not delete your NVH Book Mark yet.
If you caught the Contagion, it's not that easy to get rid of.
So please check back over the next few days as we recap and look ahead.
LATEST: 10/30/2015 Final Preps for Opening Night!
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We're now less than 12 hours from launch.
It's Opening Night
Lighting and sound were set up yesterday
Today is a few Tweaks and Tests, and then we throw the switches and see how it goes
We'll stay open as late as we can
Best viewing times are after 7 pm when the sun has set!
Not much else to say but wish us luck, be gentle with us, and we hope you have as much fun experiencing it as we did building it!
And so, we give you:
Catch it Tonight!!
10/28/2015 TWO Close for Comfort
Can't help but think this very well could be the last blog post until it's all in the rearview because the the next few days will be so packed full of last minute stuff, I don't see how there will be much time to blog.
Cripes! Only TWO days left.
Play time is over
There is a lot of fun, hard work, worry, joking, testing, trying, marketing, digesting, and picking jaws up from the floor behind us, but now the real work lies ahead:
Finishing final set up and
Living up to our WAY too much hyped hype. I mean, we went full on gangsta up in here - did we over-do it? Can Major Stars ever over-do it?
Well, that's up to you to decide. We don't know. And plus, we're woozy from fog juice and paint thinner...we barely know what day it is. We do know this....If you show up expecting something huge and sprawling, you're probably going to be huge and sprawlingly underwhelmed. All we can say is...we warned you. There's fine print and disclaimers all over this website. We are not a massive haunt!! Never claimed to be. We're slightly bigger than a large party...but parties can be fun, right?
Anyway - besides final set up, and powering everything on (and praying that the actors show up - which is NOT a given), I think we've done all we could.
The next few days will be spent setting up the large cemetery, finalizing costumes, "training" the actors, running through prop control issues, and REALLY being nervous. Just clearing the list.
We wait for you.
And so, before the big dance starts in less than 48 hours...
We bid you all peace, and tell you how much we are looking forward to trying to see as many of you as possible. You've all motivated us to do as good a job as we can, so we hope you enjoy the results as much as we have enjoyed the build.
Oh - one last thing - SERIOUSLY...we have opportunities for as many as THREE additional actors...if you have a kid, roughly 13-21, and he/she wants to help out, PLEASE click the FEEDBACK button and leave us a note.
Or, pop us an email, text, call, FB Message - the additional actors could make a BIG difference - at minimum, they ensure coverage of a lot of spots we hoped to fill and have been struggling with.
THANKS!! See you on the other side!!
10/27/2015 Big HEAD(lines)
As a GREAT article drops this morning on the front page of the Carroll County Times, Mount Airy families build elaborate haunted house each year
We could gloat, preen and primp, brag, whatever you do when you reach your own Peter Principle, our own level of incompetence, but without question, what we NEED to do is THANK everyone. This will NOT be the last time we drip thanks on all of you, but here it is:
To the neighbors who attend, or offer to help, or silently tolerate it all, or just smile as it passes them, THANKS! Thanks for letting us have a little fun and maybe bring some smiles to this way too uptight world.
To the Press (Jacob and Dave at Carroll County Times, and the staff at the Mount Airy Messenger), thanks for two incredibly cool articles which really do capture "The Spirit" that is Necrosis Valley.
To the actors who will help us out, THANKS!! You're the icing on the creepy cake!
To our parents who made our Halloweens what they were so that they can now be what they are, Thanks!
To the locals who check in constantly and offer such deeply appreciated support, thanks!
To everyone who comes to see the show, oh HELL yes, THANK YOU!!!!
To our kids (Haley, Allie Z, Ali K, Sam, Luke, Joey, and Dylan), who roll their eyes at us, pitch in and help, and get out of the way when it's the right time, THANK YOU!
To our spouses, Lisa and Jen - thanks for the food, for holding off on the divorce papers, and for being such great friends, cheerleaders, and supporters. You know us two old kids still love you two young ladies!!
We will wait and thank the Mayor and Laurienzo's Brick Oven Cafe. JUST as soon as the take care of their small tasks....Oh, and if you see them, hand them a copy of this morning's Carroll County Times.
And now, if you could just reach over their and hand us those...yes those...our Crowns - because we are now
Major F-ing Stars
Crown's don't fit! Our heads must be swelling!
see you in THREE!!!
10/26/2015 It's Four the Children
Only FOUR days left
Uneventful weekend at the build - a lot of tweaking, tightening, testing, and talking. Just waiting for late week to assemble the remaining exterior pieces. The big story/issue at hand is who will show up? And we don't mean the visitors and guests, but who from the CREW will show up.
When this gig started in 2007, Jeff's oldest kids were maybe 8, 9 years old. Greg's were maybe 11. They had a limited social spread. For them, and their friends, Halloween and the haunt WERE their big plans.
Not so much now
They aren't children anymore, nor are their counterparts.
And while it looks pretty certain the blood relatives will be there and able to pitch in, we hit our first major snag as high school football games, college, boyfriends, sports, and parties divert attention and suck away help. The margin between the number of CRITICAL roles and the number of available actors is now razor thin.
Kids. Right? LAST thing you want to do is put your reputation in the hands of a kid with weekend plans, right?? These haunts are supposed to be "for the children," but if there aren't any children left, is there a point??
It's been nerve-wracking to say the least, and thus, in this post, we note....
Only FOUR days left
If you know any 13-21 year old kids interested in helping, we could use a few more for BOTH nights!!! It's not difficult, it WILL be fun, and we WILL Blog favorably about them!!
Click the FEEDBACK button and leave us a note.
Meanwhile, we leave you this blast from the past - from the 2013 Clown Corps Haunt, our incredible video trailer - Credit, Allie Z for the great dancing!!
We'll make your kid a star, too!!
LATEST: 10/22/2015 Catching the Car
The little child stomped his feet and screamed and pounded his hands on his hips screaming in a punctuated staccato:
As the voice echoed to silence, the teacher quietly stood and said, "Go ahead, Jimmy. You have our attention. Is there something you wish to say?"
One cannot overstate the awkward moments of silence to follow.
And so, Jeff and Greg awoke today, a little bit unsure how to dive into the wide open media circus which now envelops them.
As locals may know, the court was flooded with reporters last evening as Necrosis Valley Haunts held it's annual Media Day
Was a really eventful day as a LOT of our "grab 'em by the horns" goals this haunt season all ripened on the same day within a 5 hour window.
It began with a 1 pm lunch with an FOTH (Friend of the Haunt) who tends to prefer monosyllabic engagements.
And where was said lunch held?
I'm not even going to list the restaurant anymore. It's fish or cut pasta time. If you want to know the name and what we think of this joint you can click
Or HERE!! Laurienzo's Brick Oven Cafe.
In the midst of the lunch, the FOTH, and let's call him "J" for short, took it upon himself to pull back the curtain and alert the staff of our ongoing social media bribery and shaming scandal (which so far has been a big fat failure, unlike all of our other media efforts...read on...)
So, if this cafe does not now know what we have been up to and reach out SOON, all I can say is, I will blow the whistle on the pine nut caper. Don't make me do it.
Following the lunch, it was back to work for a few hours and then an early break for the haunt site where reporters (#legit) were slated to arrive for a tour and interview.
And at 4:30 sharp, they arrived. And for all that's good and pure, guess who ELSE crawled out of the woodwork for the first time?
Say it with me:
RIGHT??!!! Have they NO shame??? Groupies, all of them
For the next 45 minutes, Jeff and Greg were photographed "casually working on the haunt." The reality is we were wrestling to get Ernie Bucks, the new bad-ass haunt character to work right.
If Ernie makes the papes and then fails to perform haunt night, NVH may have it's second small and isolated "prop fire." Can you kill the dead??
The paper followed up with a lengthy interview, which was both fun, and a little odd - talking SERIOUSLY about the haunt is just like church giggles. It's just not appropriate.
Anyway, Jacob and Dan (our new media friends who will remain so unless they give us bad press or use more of Jen's quotes than Jeff's), did a great job, were fun to chat with, and really seemed to be impressed.
As if the day could get no better....in what was an incredibly cool moment, as the press left, the unmistakable car of Mount Airy's legendary haunt Queen, Joan "Halloween Queen" Lerch swept onto the court and rolled to a halt.
[FULL DISCOLSURE: Our first reaction was..."gulp...oh man - there she is. We're in for it now."]
Now, I realize the ENTIRE town has met Mrs L, but Jeff and Greg had not yet had that pleasure and boy-howdy, the next hour or so was a blast!
The Lerch's run one of the biggest yard haunts in the area and are really synonymous (J, that means, "the same word") with Halloween, so it was an honor to have HER visit US...and so, we returned the favor and for the first time, visited her elaborate haunt and unREAL inventory of props she circulates through her tableau year after year. We even agreed to work with her after Halloween ends to help her fix some pesky prop problems - the haunt community is a great group - no doubt. And we met a legend.
Somewhere along the way, Joan mentioned that she had decided to come see our site because she saw us in the paper....
Mind you, we had JUST finished the interview WITHIN THE HOUR!
Turns out the other local paper had run a piece on us and it hit mailboxes the same day as the interview. We were CLUELESS and gobsmacked - also the name for our garage band, "Clueless and Gobsmacked."
And, yep, that's Teen Heart-throb, Chopper Valley, skyrocketing to fame.
Our social media campaign was finally brought to the attention of its target (a major restaurant nearby that we love)
We had an actual interview and photo shoot with the press
We met the Legendary Halloween Queen (who, by the way, said we could take the Mr. Halloween title)
And we made the papers in a very cool and positive manner
What's the down side????
Well, like a dog chasing a car.....what the heck do you do if you CATCH it???
I guess let it go and head to the next car....Seems we are inches from every goal we set....
It's good to be the Kings
OK, loyal readers. Now you get your reward. You get actual inside baseball from your Humble Haunt Horde.
We have been promising that a "major anouncement" would be coming soon - well, here is the major announcement announcement:
Tomorrow evening, the newspaper is scheduled to visit the haunt build and prepare a story on your local community haunt!
HOW YA LIKE ME NOW??!!
We are given to believe that the Carroll County Times reporter is interested in the local history angle we have tried to bring to the haunt. And we couldn't be more excited and, frankly, a little surprised and nervous.
This raises a few issues...and we have, we think, gone out of our way to warn and be upfront about it.
A certain local favorite restaurant, which has received WILDLY positive and copious praise and priceless advertising from us has yet to click the old FEEDBACK button to acknowledge our hard work (and free positive advertising) and take care of the comp meal. I think it's now clear that, what COULD have been as simple as complimetary butternut squash ravioli in a brown butter sage sauze appetizer is PROBABLY not going to cut it...though they are very delicious and we LOVE the pine nuts and goat cheese with it.
Nay. The price is skyrocketing for Laurienzo's Brick Oven Cafe. I mean, we are legitimate local celebrities now. Our very presence IN the restaurant will create buzz, and lines, and swarms of tourists.
I don't think an app will cover the value add at this point. We're talking full meal now fellows...and we'll probably need to be able to bring a couple guests. Spouses are a minimum.
We'll want to set it up in advance, obviously, so that the media can do the follow up, post-overnight success story. We'll make sure Jay and Bruce get a mention...maybe even a staged photo of us backslapping one or both of you. Trust me, you can't buy the level of fame and legend we are about to set up for you.
Oh....there's also another loose string to be tied up which involves the somewhat sluggish local beauracracy, which we are certain is rushing to get that plaque ready so the mayor can "coincidentally" show up Wednesday right around 4:30, 4:45, give or take, to drop off the plaque...
Wouldn't THAT make some nice copy as well? Big photo of the Mayor...smiles all around...happy kids crying with joy...it's a vote getter, Mr. Mayor - just sayin' And you probably could use some goodwill from the voters after years of flagmen, dust, potholes, and road closures on Main Street. It's getting old - for real. Luckily, the citizenry tend to have a short memory - so what better way to speed the forgetting process than a magnanimous fulfillment of a prior promise?
But enough talk about Mayor's and great food - this is about
It's our time to shine! The pain, tedium, and worry are paying off now!! Not bad for two klutzes who hang out in a dark garage, laughing, downing Almond Joys and beer, thinking of ways to scare the neighborhood kids. Life once again proves, there's room for all of us out there - we just gotta find our nitch and fill it.
It's our world boss.
We can do whatever we want!
See you in the funny papers.
There is that moment - that unmistakable moment, when you FEEL good. That contentment when you KNOW you are performing well. In running, it's the high. In golf, it's the double eagle. In marriage, it's dinner on time. In the world of haunt, it's when the plan is completely completedated. At 4:30 Sunday, Jeff and Greg both felt it. They checked the list one last time and it was clear - they had completed the build nearly TWO weeks ahead of schedule. Not only can you FEEL it....you can SEE it. I mean, look: Here is what it LOOKED like when Jeff had that feeling:
And here is what it looked like when Greg had it
So, let's talk about the "feeling" part. While, yeah, the build did hit the finish line quite early, and it did feel good - Greg didn't. And the photo above is not far off. NVH was happy to have a guest builder this week as Greg's daughter Haley joined the team on her weekend home from college. Haley help add some final divider walls, trim out a few rooms, and keep her dad mostly away from the candy bags. She also doped out a scare approach in one area which we think will be KILLER! But most importantly, she got to watch her old man drop like a rock when something in the old hip area gave way.
Though we can't blame her, her reaction was less than prompt or urgent. Unsure whether to be serious or laugh, like a true haunter, she opted to laugh.
And we applaud her for that.
Heck, Greg's gonna be fine - a little left over pain med helped a LOT. It's scary to think though, had Haley not been there, Greg would probably be a prop by now.
Pain and Oxy aside, thanks for the big hand Haley - you are a role model (which the Art Department sure could learn from).
So, the real story is, if you roll down the Court now, the haunt is really taking shape. All the interior is completed and all the exterior parts are assembled, staged, and ready for last minute set up. Some of the Necrosis Valley Cemetery has been laid out and the fencing is up.
Now, let's be clear...you're only seeing 10-12% of the haunt - the other 88-90% waits to empty your bladder for you. Can't wait for that.
So, now what?
Good question. Notwithstanding the 2014 hiaitus, this will be the first free late October weekend we have had since 2006. Not even sure how to act.
In full disclosure, we still have things to do - and restlessness and boredom will generate choppertunities to add things unplanned, tweak this or repair that. So it won't be a cold dead tomb on CCC. But there will be an opportunity to breathe, heal up battered joints, sleep in, and maybe read the paper. Yeah - may have to try to read the paper later in the week.
That would be good.
Anything would be good
At this point it FEELS good.
It's all good.
Blog-Insiders, don't forget: MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT coming in the next few days. Honestly, the announcement kind of scares us to death, and not in the good, bladder loosening sort of way. But, we are REALLY thrilled about what is about to go down
OK, and so, we blog.
Sort of a random, stream of conscious blog today - we're in a little lull now, doing the menial work of testing foggers, equipment, parts replacements, final art work, programming...as we get ready for the final push. But it is starting to get REAL
Today marks 2 weeks till launch. The Pentultimate weekend to finish up.
And chickens are coming home to roost.
Everyone is starting to feel a LOT of anxiety...like the scared, shaky belly, I'm gonna puke kind. And that's good - that fear inside means we still CARE about doing well. Or, maybe it doesn't. Maybe it means we are scared the Mayor may actually read our blog, not "get" the humor, and show up to kick our asses.
While we don't "fear authority" per se, Greg did get sucker punched in ther face by a cop once - sh*t happens. He didn't like it. He doesn't want to be there again.
Anyway - the next few days and weeks are going to be a blur. Not only is this the last weekend we have for locking down the main site before turning to the very tricky exterior set up (which must happen in a very compressed last-minute timeframe), it's homecoming weekend, Senior Night, etc. The schedule this weekend is a joke. But back to chickens and roosting and such....hats off to the Social Media, Print Media, and Ground Dispersal Teams. By now, you probably have "been Chopped" or know someone who has been. We have seen the "I've Been Chopped" signs spreading like a Contagion all over town.
Full credit for THAT brainchild goes to our youth squad which came up with the idea of hijacking the annual "Boo" ding-dong-ditch bags and pushing our marketing down your throats by way of candy. And yes, neighbors...you ARE that easily bought. For the price of a few skittles, you have unwittingly boosted our social media outreach. So, shout out to you as well.
And not that it was all a ringing success...we had a few injuries and near death experiences during the late night Black Ops raids we ran to jump start the saturation. But since several crimes may have inadvertantly been committed, we'll leave the details out.
It was impressive that they were up for FOUR nights of targeting runs to jump start the effort and that MULTIPLE neighborhoods were hit (though NOTtingham does NOT seem to be spreading the word. Yeah - we do do recon runs). Good thing our crew was in good shape and fit!
Which reminds me, BIG shout out to the folks at D6 Fitness.! Check out their great fitness training services and Don Caparotti's camps as well - great folks - dedicated, motivated, and good at what they do. Thanks for the re-post on Facebook this week, guys!
(And again, that's how it works - you mention us, we mention you...see your ad here: ______________)
So after one more day of work, we head into battle to conquer the remaining tasks.
Hopefully all goes well...if so, you will likely hear singing from the bowels of the garage.
If it goes poorly, you'll hear us screaming. Which is ironic...because screams from the haunt are precisely the goal......
Before we get started, because you are among the 12 to 13 loyal blog readers, we decided to REALLY let you inside the haunt. We will have a MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT coming in the next few days. As Chopper would say, "#legit." Check back - it's going to be a game-changer. Incredible, palpable excitement at the build site this weekend to be sure!! Wish I could say more - but keep checking back...oh, and tell your friends about this incredibly well-written, fun, and funny blog you've been reading. The more people who are in on the joke, the more we laugh and the more we laugh the better we are to each other and the better we are to each other the better we are to each other.
And now, we blog.
Jeff is very precise and detail oriented.
Greg tends to be big picture and focused on the what if's.
A surgeon and an analytical strategic planner. Together, that's a good combination for a build
But, it also sets up a lot of room for fretting as Jeff sweats the tedious threats and Greg sweats the calamitous. It's tantamount to one guy worrying about stopping the tiny little virus that spreads the Black Plague while the other worries about stopping earthquakes...both bring pretty nasty outcomes and a lot of people get hurt.
So, it occured to us that it may be interesting to look at a list of the things we sweat pretty much from late May until November 1. Quite honestly, the list is even longer than we feared...so now we have to worry about worrying too much. OK - the list:
Snow - Been there. Done that.
Power outages, shortages, spikes, leaks, failures...they all happen
Actors bailing on us
Mising something...any thing
Greg's lists...he's like, anal about them
If we'll finally build that something which inadvertantly blocks access or movement to a door, window, staircase, toolbox, almond joy bag, car, or human...we've come close to all 7
Whether anyone will FINALLY tell the fellas at Laurienzo's Brick Oven Cafe how much great press we are giving them and how it would be REALLY cool if they acknowledged it (that's why we added a FEEDBACK option, duh!!) with a nice comped post-haunt party for 10 of us...yeah....I am upping the game here and if you don't act soon, we'll ask for a catered yard party for the entire town. No pressure or anything, but we're about to get REALLY famous, so you may want to lock us in while we're still relatively cheap, boys
Running out of prep time
Running out of things to do
How we'll top last year, this year, next year...yeah, it's a vish cycle
Hurricanes...and check the calendar - we have dodged them before
Where the damned almond joy bag got to....AGAIN....Jeff....
If there's enough beer for tonight if we drink it now
The boring and SOOO 2014 "BOO" signs beating the uber-cool and SOOOO now I've Been Chopped Sign to your door
Underwhelming the guests
Overwhelming the guests
What we'll use to secure the tomstones to the ground...like, after 9 years we haven't figured THAT out yet
If the Art Department really deserved their tee shirts
If the Social Media, Print Media, and Ground Dispersal Teams have gotten enough credit for their crazy hard work - hats off, gang - Operation Chopperation Saturation is paying off!
Stinkbugs...they are terrible this year
Where to put Our Plaque....that's right, Mr. Mayor. We know your house got "Chopped" this week and that you have our website info now....no excuses...elections are tricky things.
Pissing off Chopper...just cause we get sick of re-articulating his disarticulated limbs
Parts shipping on time (and thanks Fright Props for never letting us down in that department! Hmm....you folks could comp us free shipping or something...seems to me, we give you good page space too....just spitballin')
Parts that shipped on time being the correct parts
Parts lasting through 3 nights of abusive use
That Jeff will be misquoted by the press
That we'll actually get press
Bob Ross being in our scout troop
Bob Ross in general
Clean up Day
The 15 Day Cooling Off Period
That we have to return to our spouses one day
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Life presents us two possible outcomes:
1. Someone out there drinks a TON of lemonade
2. There is a TON of unconsumed lemonade out there.
If we are all, to some extent, getting a "fair share" of life's good and bad, judging by personal experience, MOST folks have a lot of hard scraps to get through. And if we, by and large, TRY to make lemonade from said lemons, there must be a ton of lemonade out there either being consumed or dumped.
But what about that RAREST of rare being who consistently, automatically, and reflexively makes lemonade without even realizing how bad his lot in life is? Why is there no term for the act of never seeing the bad, always seeing the good, and always making great refreshing lemonade?
Allow us to coin a term for that:
And each act taken by a choppertunistic person is a "choppertunity."
Choppertunity occurs to folks who simply refuse to recognize a shortcoming and refuse to be beaten. Choppertunistic folks make the rest of us sit back and think, "what the heck is wroooooong with ME? Why can't I be like THAT?"
It's no secret that this dude:
embodies (or disembodies) "Choppertunity."
In fact, the word exists because of Chopper.
I mean, LOOK at him. He's a wreck
But you never hear him complain. Heck, he doesn't even really talk. But he's always there to listen. OK, so, you could argue that Chopper is that way because we confered that property on him when we ginned him up. After all, he's not real. We MADE him. True. True dat. But why did we make him an optimistic soul who, in spite of his horrific looks and inability to respire
JUST WANTS TO BE LOVED?
Cause we all are that way and Chopper gives us hope
He can make anyone laugh...no matter how sick they are or how dead they are.
Need proof? Check out this candid shot
You never see Chopper's sad face - you only ever see his happy, surprised, startled, uncomfortably horrifying face...but never a sad one.
Now, what does an inanimate pile of PVC, foam caulk, duct tape, wood, personified as a good-natured chuckle-head have to do with a haunt build?
Building an amateur haunt constantly presents choppertunities. Are you going to kick your dog because the lights won't work right? Are you going to rip the whole prop apart because it isn't working perfectly? Or are you going to take the CHOPPERTUNITY to turn that unexpected fail into an unpredicted victory?
We can think of one other character who made a career, nay, a LEGEND out of choppertunity.
OK....maybe not the best photo of Robert...try this one:
That's right - Bob Ross. The epitome of choppertunity, and of creepiness.
Bob gave us the concept of the "Happy Accident." Bob also, unfortunately, gave us the feeling he should not be a scout master or Sunday school teacher.
Full disclosure, the folks at NVH spent a LOT of time mocking Bob over the weekend...and then set about writing this blog, wherein, we were gobsmacked and sobered to learn the TRUTH about Bob.
Prior to being the Whispering Painter, Bob spent 20 years in the United States Air Force and retired with the rank of master sergeant. In fact, Bob got so fed up with his role as a hard-nosed sergeant, when he retired, he vowed never to scream again. Bob didn’t get paid for the show; instead his company sold art supplies and how-to videotapes. And Bob didn’t dig the fro. But he knew buzzing that bee’s nest would destroy his brand. So, he kept it.
And, as far as we know, the following photo is fake:
I guess the point is that, as we hit the transition from building the haunt to preparing to open it, we've been reflecting on all that went wrong and all that went right. And we plan an entire blog in the next few days highlighting all the choppertunities we hit. Some days, we were plagued with failure. And some days, failure became happy accidents. But the goal should always be to make the happy accident a choppertunity. Take it in stride. Roll with it. Learn and grow from it. Make others better by it. So we needed to coin a term for that place in life in those moments when we hit the brick wall
And find it's out of square
And conclude that we have failed
Step back...pause...think of old heinous-looking Chop.
WWCD? What Would Chopper Do?
Chop would look at it, eyes wide from optimism (and from hooks pulling them open), and Chop would say nothing.
He wouldn't freak out, swear, throw things, kick, stomp his feet...Nope. Not Chopper. Chopper would just stand there...
And like the good-natured freak he is, he'd probably stick his tongue out at the problem as if to say, you know, not today, world. You can't get to me today. Maybe later, but not today. Today is MY day. Today, I CHOOSE to make this a CHOPPERTUNITY and not a problem.
Well, frankly he'd just stand there motionless cause his inanimate and made of wood, but...WE would project calm and contentment on him and life would be good.
When Choppertunity Knocks, take the fork in the road.
RIP Bob Ross, Yogi Bera, and Chopper.
Simply a two word blog today:
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Why do we do this?
We've asked that of ourselves a lot.
I suspect, on some level, it's because when we were little kids, we HATED to be scared. But as we grow to see life for what it is, and isn't, we learn that this is just fun and funny. There are not ghosts or monsters, and if you know that, and opt to BE the ghost and monster, you realize that you are the Apex Predator on Halloween.
Thus, Jeff and Greg haunt from a position of strength. Scare or be scared.
In the 2012 Mary's Terror Haunt, the running joke/haunt matra became
"It's for the children."
If so, shame on us. Kids have enough to be afraid of...social shaming, ISIS, college debt, growing old and doing a village haunt for kicks. It's a scary world.
Besides, most KID scares are sort of pathetic...sort of runs in line with "taking candy from a baby" or "scaring fish in a barrel" or whatever that other adage is.
Speaking of adages, there's actually an old haunt adage that says, "to scare the gray of hair is to touch the eyes of God." I may have that quote slightly off...or it may neither be a haunt adage nor a quote whatsoever, but...
Truth be told, it's scaring the older folks that we appreciate more.
The CRIME in it all is the ephemeral nature of the scare. It's up and gone before your ribs have even started to hurt from the laugh. That's why, in 2013, we took our first shot at planting a camera in the haunt to capture scares. As luck would have it, we had enough rain to completely blow that plan and we had to pull the camera. But not before we did capture a few decent scares...the camera was at the end of the haunt, at the fright train scare.
So, now that we are getting closer, and hopefully interest is rising, and maybe blog readership as well, I think it's time to start teasing NOT just the haunt, but the CONTENT of the haunt.
2015's The Contagion Haunt is going to have a new feature that we're really excited about. If everything goes as planned, we will be streaming LIVE video from inside the haunt. That's right - you read correctly.
Stop by our innaugural "Scares and Selfies Center," and watch patrons pee themselves or punch Jeff and Greg.
Also, you can take selfies with some of NVH's best characters, including the loveable social media celeb, Chopper!!!
Why did we add this? Well, it's our goal to give you something to watch while you wait for your kid in the exremely long lines we anticipate this year. And, it's our goal to let you take home a little memory as well - your very own Facebook profile photo with Chopper (and we FULLY expect our FB feeds to be HEAVILY populated by haunt selfies that weekend). And it's our goal to put on a top-shelf event for you to smile about.
But mostly, it's our goal to give you a few minutes of escape from your grinding life. We're there with you - day after day...going through the motions...wondering what the point of it all is.
Maybe, just maybe, for 2 or 3 minutes Halloween weekend, you can discover what we have learned - life has no purpose...but to ease the suffering of others, and if our haunt takes you away from your worries for a few minutes,then
What's the difference between Donald Trump and our haunt?
We'll only annoy you for a few weeks every year
And, so we blog
We're heading into the final 3 weeks until Halloween weekend is upon us. And then it's over.
Well, more or less "over." There will be a few days of clean up (at least), followed by the Mandatory Cooling Off Period (wherein it is illegal to discuss Halloween in any form or fashion)...
And then, the build up, the work, the excitement, the anxiety, well, it all just dissappears like so much ice in a dry martini.
It's a lot like the day after your wedding.
It's that feeling like, Oh...is THIS forever??
So, what will we miss about it?
I'll probably miss blogging. That's been fun and cathartic though entirely solitary and pointless.
I doubt I'll miss the smell of liquid latex...smells like ratsnatch, whatever that is. It smells terrible though. I won't miss expandable caulk, or tempera paint, or hunting for pens. Or black lighting and the way it makes your eyes feel fuzzy. I won't miss trying to line up enough live teenage actors who are willing to give up (wait for it) THREE [GASP] nights to make this work. I won't miss mirrors or 5 am trips to the Annex to corpse skellies. I won't miss paying $25 bucks to ship a $30 part.
Won't miss luan floor underlayment. I won't miss standing up when the garage door is halfway down and crushing my skull. Nope. Won't miss that a bit. I doubt I'll miss assembling multi-channel prop controllers and then waiting for the damned motion sensor to recycle 50 times before it's ready.
I definitely won't miss the fact that this place:
Laurienzo's Brick Oven Cafe
has not read our blog, even once....even though they have great rosemary bread - but you have to KNOW to ask for it...it's great to get some and use it to sop up the garlic butter in the mussels but I digress...
I won't miss our plaque from the Mayor (or any other member of the Town Council, or folks that may WORK there and KNOW people hint hint hint Barney) because we never received the plaque in the first place so there's nothing to miss.
I REALLY thought I would say that I wouldn't miss the Art Department, but HALF of them have stepped up big time down the stretch here. Guess the others are still looking for their pants
But there's a lot I will miss. And probably sometime after Halloween cedes to Thanksgiving, which falls into Christmas, collapses into New Years, and leads us hurtling into that long MLK weekend in cold and snowy January...sometime around Valentines day, when you fool yourself into thinking that something from Victoria's Secret and some flowers will reboot your life to the day before the day after your wedding
I'll be thinking about how to top 2015's The Contagion Haunt
And I'll probably be happier than you are
And far less frustrated
PS: When does everyone on the Haunt Squad get their Hockey Donkey's tee shirts?
I wasn't going to blog today, but this is brief.
There's an old haunt adage that says, "if everything is going perfecly, grab the kids and flee - and don't look back."
OK, that's not really an old haunt adage. But it has, in the past, served us well as a predictor of dissappointments and frustrations. Normally, there is silence and success before grand subsidence and failure. See, for example, 9/21/2015 Weather Witch or we could tell you the story of the Great (Tiny) Fire of 2011.
Necrosis Valley subscribes to a single principle: Murphy's Law. And the pessimism has often served us well.
But allow me to dust off that negativity and cautiously present a gleaming update.
The weekend went very well. In fact, at times it felt like we were slacking BIG TIME. The forecasted rain, winds, and storms were minimal and had no impact on work plans. By 2 pm Sunday (and this still blows us away), we declared the main interior sections of the haunt COMPLETE and ready for action...
and we have 25 days left.
We do have a few parts to replace - mainly out of an abundance of caution...we cannot let pinching a few dollars here and there undermine what has been an amazing run.
So, we'll order a few of these:
head back to our offices for a few days to relax.
And start the home stretch this week!
We hope you all are maybe, just a little, looking forward to seeing this. We are pretty pleased. Again, we can't stress enough that this isn't a professional haunt, and it's not a 45 minute event, and it's not likely to make the papers, but it's a fun local thing, which we just want you to enjoy the way we do. Good. Fun.
Have a good week
There's an old haunt adage that says, "to explore the moon one must first launch a rocket." OK, that's not really an old haunt adage. But I think it's fair to say that each trip to the cosmos begins with the adrenalin rush of the launch. Because, no matter how well thought out, you never know if you missed a detail.
You never know if you will have an inspirational success
Or world-changing failure
There is another old haunt adage which says, "he who controls the blog can be a real smart ass." That also is not a real haunt adage, but you will see later that it is true.
The Viral Media team successfully survived an adrenalin-laden late night launch last evening of its risky viral media saturation campaign.
For National Security reasons, most details of the campaign cannot be acknowledged publicly. But in the days which follow, you WILL see the Contagion spread through our town. Hopefully, you will catch it and spread it around.
We can tell you, yes, some of our team MAY be limping today. Other's are still a little muddy and sore. But the rocket left the pad and now we see if it reaches the target.
And I'm not going to say that it went off without a hitch. Au Contrair. We were PLAGUED by system failures, launch delays, and aborted take-offs. I'm not going to call anyone out, specifically, but...
To the two little punk boys with their cell phones who were creeping around in the dark: We saw you. We know what you were doing. We are patient. But we are also fathers. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
To the homeowners who decided 25 lights shining on their castle were not enough: yeah, overkill. Get a porch light and call it macaroni. K?
To the absolute IDIOT who organized the Delta Commando squad, but then failed to bring their AMMO: You left your brothers exposed and vulnerable. MAYBE lay off the wine a little. Your game is slacking, Junior.
To the driver on Raids Alpha and Bravo: YOU, my friend, had your sh** together and killed it. Well done. You are a true patriot, and a damned fine soldier.
Heading back to the haunt site today for a few more hours of prep. It's getting down to small details and primping it up. Meanwhile, you have your assignment: When your time comes, spread the Contagion. Throttle up!!
Frequent readers will notice we have dropped the recurring plea for survey feedback from this entry. But we have added a "feedback" link (above) where you can leave comments ANY time you want. There's an old haunt adage that says, "often, the answer you do not get is the answer you have." Actually, that is NOT an old haunt adage, but as noted in our 9/25/2015 Anti-Social Media post,
"It's our world, boss. We can do whatever we want."
Anyway - because responses to the survey were so minimal (fewer than 24 and at least 9 of those were from our own haunt team), we don't need to ask anymore...we now know no one's reading this crap anyway. Sort of makes us feel like Harry Doyle
Oh well - at least we can blog more openly, and take more potshots at individuals we know because we are now completely unconcerned that they may read. And we have never really cared about hurting someone's feelings. I mean, think about it - our primary directive is to get kicks from making you look completely unable to control your flight/fight response. The more the flight one kicks in, the stupider you look, and the stupider you look, the more we laugh...so your ego has never been our concern, right?
Check out this segway:
Speaking of "Mr. Baseball"
How are you all coming with accepting us as "Mr. Halloween"s? Right? It's not that hard. It feels right. We can have that monicker. Right?
I mean, I scoured the net (well, I waded through about 40 google hits and got bored) and I only found TWO examples of "Mr. Halloween."
One is this dude
Dude's name is Henri David. Jewelry designer out of Philly. Has run an annual Halloween drag ball since the 70s. They call him Mr. Halloween. Now, I'm willing to ask for a ruling here, but I'm saying that's sort of in a different arena, and thus, we won't count it. We're not running a drag ball. We could - remember, "It's our world, boss. We can do whatever we want." But that's not our focus. We are running a haunt. So we're going to use a peremptory challenge and move on.
The second example makes a drag ball look like a Dancing Picaso. The only other reference to a Mr. Halloween we could find was this:
If there is a worse movie trailer out there...I mean, I'm just sayin'. THAT trailer for THAT movie basically says to me, "that ain't even a movie.
That's a sh** show."
It got a 42 on Rotten Tomatoes.
So, I'm not even wasting text to critique that. It doesn't even exist.
Accordingly, based on scientific research of the entire internets and googles and whatnot, we conclude that the title Mr. Halloween is available and we await appropriate coronation. And we understand that often these things need to be made official via a citation, or perhaps a plaque. So, you know - that's fine - we understand. Maybe the Mayor can just swing by and drop it off at the big post-haunt dinner we are awaiting (comped of course) at
Laurienzo's Brick Oven Cafe
Seriously - have you tried the lobster ravioli and a nice glass of Multepulciano? Wow. Heaven.
And shout out to Jay for finally reading the 9/23/2015 A TEES-er blog. Way to stay plugged in to your community, man.
That's all for now. Just remember, today's post is brought to you by... [searches through his papers] Christ, I can't find it. The hell with it!
is a FAR cry from THIS:
and so we bid a big fat good riddance to Joaquin. You quickened our pulse, but missed our haunt.
2015 just may be our year, baby!
Running out of time - and I am sad that the response number is so low
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OK, like, wow.
Never has the number 10 struck with such impact.
It is the tenth month. It is October. It's time to start purchasing crates of butterfly killer to drink as this month advances.
Tension from 10.
But as we have frequently said, that's cool - we are in great shape! So was Bo, back in the day.
Not so mu.....
Great news overnight as the forecast track for Joaquin has taken a shift to run along the coast and most models are also starting to resolve around it maybe curving out over open waters as it passes MD...
So, going forward, I think one thing you will notice is that there will start to be much more visible progress on the haunt. We've developed a pretty flexible weekend plan, given the weather, but a time is fast approaching when there's just no hiding it anymore. And I think when this things starts to develop, there will be some SERIOUS buzz around the 'hood and the Mount in general.
So now would be a good time to acquaint yourself with
The Back Story
And, we will add, the back story reads much better if you also acquaint yourself with the rest of the website and the info throughout. It's good stuff - it's DEFINITELY gonna earn us a Plaque from the Mayor and dinner at Laurienzo's one day.
So, we'll keep today's blog brief, and give you a glimpse of the new character in the arsenal. You've, by now, met
a silent, but yet articulate example of the lunacy that is This Thing We Do.
Chopper may be moving, very soon, to our Viral Media Department for a developmental assignment. And if he does his job there well, you WILL be seeing him around town more. But even old Chop is going to be impressed and entertained by our new WIP (work in progress). Our newest funeral family member is one part cheap WalMart, 1 part nylons, 2 parts liquid latex, 1 part TP, three parts Brooklyn, one part servo, and three parts borderline bizarre.
And thanks to the folks at
for the fast and professional shipping. The setup works great, fellas!
for a lot of the backbone pieces which "flesh out" our new muse.!
Unfortunately, Ernie CLEARLY offers Greg and Jeff WAY too many ways to be inappropriate. But at least for the moment, he is not working in the blue, and has not offended anyone - time will tell.
With no further fanfare, we give you (still very much under development), Ernie Bucks
He's here all month folks. Hey remember to tip your waitress and try the veal!
Wasn't planning to blog today, but could not possibly avoid pointing this out.
Just over a week ago, in our 9/21/2015 Weather Witch blog entry, we pretty clearly laid out how the Weather Witch torments us annually.
Some external portions of the haunt were tentatively scheduled to start going up in the next week. Cue a HIGHLY unsettled and extremely worrisome tropical pattern.
Here is the National Weather Service forecast for Joaquin as of today
Here's where it gets more worrisome....the forecast tracks beyond 5 days (Monday) bring it inland somewhere into the Mid-Atlantic...most putting us on the windward side of the blow.
And behind Joaquin is this...with a 70% chance of tropical development within the next 5 days
So, stay tuned and keep happy thoughts coming our way....we will have to track this really closely.
It makes karmatic sense that, having crowed about things going so swimmingly, we now face potentially brutal weather...
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The Dirty Thirty - the final 30 days are here. 30 days from today, build time pretty much runs out. In 30 days, everything MUST wrap.
Not "scary" as in Halloween scary, but "scary" as in friggin scary scary.
The margin for error on, for example, parts which must be ordered and shipped, props that break or fail, art, electrical systems, lighting, it's all gotta get done.
So, last weekend, and the next few ahead are critical and every emergency must be handled with aplomb.
Thankfully, last weekend was ROCKING on the Court. For starters, and I hope you are sitting down, GUESS what showed up?
Yeeeeeahhhhh buddy! THE ART DEPARTMENT!!!
That's right kiddees. The ENTIRE Art Department showed up Sunday. And why? Because it was a team meeting. And because team meetings include free breakfast at iHop AND, it was tee shirt day.
Now, we know you are wondering, "why didn't you have the meeting at"
Laurienzo's Brick Oven Cafe
Because, we are patient, that's why. We will wait until they come around, recognize how much we are supporting them, and comp us a victory meal. Until then, we will just keep telling you what a fantastic restaurant it is, and how we just can't wait to down a few Sangria's and some incredible broccoli spaghetti (on, the house, of course) after we wrap this haunt.
Anyway - back to iHop.......Everyone received their spanking new NVH tees and the shirts are NUTZ!
As soon as breakfast was over, numbers depleted rapidly. Half the damned Art Department went to ground. Heck, 2 of them almost got fired during the team breakfast.
But that's OK - we have serious MoJo this year and we did get a huge boost from the members who did show. They knocked out some large and tedious work
and, in concert with the Social Media and Print Media teams, hatched a plan which will bring this haunt right to the people (more on that later)!
SOOO much more we could share, but that would start to ruin things. There's an old rule in haunting..."never share the scare." OK, I made that up, but it actually is applicable, so credit me with a coined term. We'll leave you with one more photo, our assurance that this haunt will be worth a stop, and an admission that the weekend left us feeling pahhhhh-retty good (about everything but half the Art Department).
Safe and satisfying week to everyone! Stay Dry
Gentle Prod follows:
Take it NOW....we'll wait for you...
Necrosis Valley 2015 Haunt Survey
Allllllrighty then! Obligatory "Welcome back, and Thank you,"
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I think, and I may be mistaken, but when we started This Thing of Ours back in 2007, text messaging, as we know it today, selfies, iPhone 6's, Droids, they just didn't exist, right? We were probably doing that ridiculous 9 key, multi-tap BS where it took us 25 pecks to say "Hello."
While 2007 happened to mark the first year that Americans sent and received more text messages per month than phone calls, Nec V Haunts was still pretty much a word of mouth and knock on the door communicator. If Jeff needed to see Greg, or verse vica, they knocked on doors or sent smoke signals. And if we wanted to let YOU know about what's going on, we told a teacher, which is a sure fire way to spread the word.
2007, as I recall, was not a haunt prep punctuated by social media and text messaging. But 2015 DEFINITELY IS...and that's what today's blog is about...communication and social media.
We've had this foolish website a couple years, but never leveraged it to the extent we have this year. Greg taught himself HTML, and uppped the hosting package to make us much more dynamic.
Find Chopper on FACEBOOK!
And why? So we could jam our garage games in your face as much as we can and hopefully, by sheer saturation alone, get you to come by and laugh with us October 30 and 31.
But we also are doing it, hopefully, to make you laugh a little now - life is tough...believe you me. But if we laugh a little, and avoid the negative, we can make it better for each other, no?
Tweet with Chopper
In fact, we even added a "Social Media" and "Print Media Department" this go round. Though those Departments are about as visible as the mythical Art Department.
Be that as it may, how bout a peek inside our text messages to warm your laugh-tickler thingy on a Friday morning? These will be in no particular order, with no context provided, and no source attribution. Just random excerpts from texts between members of the haunt team. Make of them what you will.
"Nice and meaty looking stumps."
"I just want some free baked ziti."
"Got a minute? I need your eyes...you can bring the rest as well if you must."
"I'll put coffee grounds in the cage with him and a bowl of red bull."
"It's our world, boss. We can do whatever we want."
"Shaming is good."
"I have it firing and pretty close to ready to mount."
"He probably hanged himself in the rest room."
"Making it rain!!!"
"Add that to the list of things the Art Depoartment is tackling with verve and vigor."
"PRINT media??? Are you kidding me???!!"
"Give me 5 min. Gotta hit the head."
"Holy Moly. Corpse his ass.
"That's a little douchey, but I may use it."
"Just what I needed for this day which has already gone to feces."
"Ernie's brain is here."
"Stuck at a soccer tourney and all I can think of is "this is a waste of Haunt construction time"."
"We've suffered a setback."
"Will the torso prop have entrails hanging out? Please?"
"I left Ernie's (old) skull on your front door step."
"Grapefruit Shandy or Raging Bitch?"
"Screw the Art Department. We can't wait on those slack-asses anymore."
and number one, by an overwhelming landslide:
"Look what I found in the staff room at work:"
And with that, a shout out to all the cool folks at
Kindness Animal Hospital
And that's how it's done folks - you mention us, we mention you
Get it? Got it? Good.
Hey, first things first...
Apparently 95% of haunting is self-validation and social acceptance - issues Jeff and Greg both struggle over.
An accomplished opera singer cannot tell if the silence from behind the klieg lights comes from empty seats or from a packed house held silent in rapt attention, hanging on each tremolo and arpeggio (Jay, they are big musical terms), holding the applause and reaction for the final reverberation of the thunderous tenor's final notes. SO....
We're looking for some feedback. If you are out there, take like 45 seconds and answer the survey - it's pretty easy:
Necrosis Valley 2015 Haunt Survey
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So…Wednesday, September 23…. First day of Fall. Of course, that can only mean ONE thing…the 2015 TEE SHIRTS have shipped!! OK – total non-sequitur (Jay, that’s a fancy way of saying “that had nothing to do with this”). But, yeah – tee shirts are coming. Tee’s have become part of the fabric (get it?) of the annual haunt. We’ve only done a few, but they have become instant leavening (Jay, that means to “make something rise, like yeast does to bread”) agents, puffing up the legitimacy of our gang. The first tee was made for the 2011 Necrosis Valley Meats haunt.
The joke was not that it was a haunt tee, but a faux (Jay, though only one syllable, I figured I would explain that “faux” is a French word…it just means “fake.” Pronounced like “go” or “show” but with an “F”) shop tee for the NV Meats operation in the 2011 haunt. It captured the first (of MANY) tag lines and buzz phrases we have conjured for our haunts: Our Meat, Your Treat. Sophomorically (Jay, that means, sort of immature), we decided rank has its privilege and anointed ourselves as “STAFF” of both the butcher shop and the haunt.
There was decided debate over who among the help staff would receive a tee shirt, and who would be deemed “STAFF” versus a blank back, or worse, an insulting position title…perhaps “JUNIOR HAUNTER” or maybe “TRAINEE.” In the end, selfishly, only 2 shirts were produced. They were crude, but they covered our bellies. So they were also effective.
We still wear them when we work on around the haunt.
2012 was the Mary’s Terror Haunt. We talked about doing a tee for that and there was quite a clamour from the "staff," such as it was, for a tee for everyone. We knew I would have to say “Mary’s Terror: Its’ For the Children.” Because...like, it was. But, 2012’s haunt build was pretty demanding, and making a tee shirt, though often discussed, fell by the wayside. There was a lot of disappointment. Instead, we bought a pair of these classic beauties from
Garage of Evil - Yeah, we are members.
They are sporty enough to wear as kitschy evening wear.
2013's haunt SCREAMED for a Tee. It was, after all, a jaunty, macabre clown-themed haunt. It HAD to have a tee, right?
And what better face to adorn it than the uber-creepy face of
whose face was prominently used in the 2013 terror fest.
Grok was a real person. Check it out:
Grok, the Swiss Clown
In his day, Grok was known as "the king of clowns" and "the greatest of Europe's clowns", and was once the most highly paid entertainer in the world!! Go figure! Life has come full circle as the clown Donald Trump is NOW the highest paid entertainer in the world.
Grok’s likeness will be reprised (Jay, that mans to make another appearance) in the 2015 haunt – see if you can find him. The 2013 tee shirt featured the tagline: “H&H Clown Corps…It’s NOT Funny.” We still like that one.
And...we promoted ourselves to "Management."
2014 was Dark – no show, no tee. BUT...we DID make a limited number (one) of these:
Now comes 2015
And today, the first batch of PROFESSIONALLY produced tees for our haunt hit the FedEx truck.
There is something of a demand for these tee shirts. And I think once they start popping up around town and folks see how snazzy they are, people may start asking for them...and we'll see what we can do.
Meantime, Necrosis Valley's management team gets their shirts Friday.
The staff gets their's this weekend.
OK - here's a sneak peek....a TEES-er, if you will:
There's a lot of debate about whether the Art Department will get tee shirts. NV Corporate is looking at a major restructuring and we're not sure where the A.D. will shake out when the dust settles.
Anyway - keep your eyes peeled for the new look.
and PLEASE check out our survey!
Necrosis Valley 2015 Haunt Survey
What a beautiful weekend here on the Mount.
So nice, in fact, we sort of slothed it and did a light weekend. Friday night, Jeff and Greg had one of those magical haunt moments when a completely frustrating and disappointing feature, which they simply could NOT get to work, all of the sudden fell completely into place and worked MUCH better than hoped. There literally was dancing in the dark. That boosted morale, pushed the timeline ahead further, led to an impromptu beer and pizza party
and created a bit of breathing room allowing the duo to catch up with their family this weekend. Jeff was able to catch his son’s baseball game, and Greg was probably eating somewhere, celebrating his incredible wife’s birthday, and catching up on work.
But the weekend’s beautiful weather and the sort of overcast and showery clouds today brought weather to mind and we think it’s a good blog point for today. Weather is always the gigantic unpredictable wildcard and has previously presented incredible challenges are several debilitating setbacks.
Right off the bat, one thing that is a constant issue here in Mount Airy is…AIR.
Lots of moving air.
Legend is that the town got its name sometime around 1830 from an Irish B&O railroad worker who complained about his freezing ears on a windy work day. In fact, the entire theme of the haunts is based on the fact that the Garrett Sanitarium was built here precisely because of the nearly constant breezes (which, in the day, were believed to be restorative to TB sufferers).
And we previosuly established that TB sucks.
So, while on days when you have a light northwesterly breeze at 5-10 at your pad, we are probably replacing shingles up here. So, little things like ground-hugging fog, lightweight tombstones, and 25 foot tall Grim Repears are major headaches year over year, even in good weather. We have learned to adapt and conquer the small issues…but other, LARGER issues?
Not so much.
Here's 3 recent examples which show how there is a constant “weather worry factor” baked into these shenanigans.
In 2011, warm Fall weather gave way to a shocking early snow storm, the 2011 Halloween Nor’easter.
On October 29, parts of Maryland received over 11” of snow. The Mount was visited by over 4” of heavy, wet, uninvited white stuff. Jeff was not to be defeated, and while Greg cried over an Epic Breakfast Burrito, Jeff literally grabbed a shovel and single-handedly shoveled the snow off the entire yard in time to finalize the set up.
NV Meats would not be packed in ice.
More trouble in 2012. The haunt was set to go off on October 31 and November 1. And we all now know that around October 27, the U.S. started taking Hurricane Sandy pretty seriously. Appropriately dubbed the “Frankenstorm” before she became killer “Superstorm Sandy,” early on October 29, Sandy curved north-northwest toward the US. As she made her turn, for many hours, we were the forecast bulls-eye.
Fortunately for us, but tragically for Jersey and New York, she moved ashore near Brigantine, New Jersey, just to the northeast of Atlantic City. But Superstorm Sandy could not stop Mary’s Terror.
In 2013, we had just completed set up of one of the most elaborate and large haunts we have ever tried. Let me tell you that simulating a haunted clown carnival complete with a life-size fortune telling booth, high striker, haunted jack in the box, and claw machine, not to mention a completely animated human cannon-ball act is NO small feat and takes WEEKS of set up and prep...and REALLY works better in good weather. While the forecast hinted of “showers,” overnight on October 30, the night before the haunt, a very strong front pushed through bringing extreme winds and drowning rains. The clown tent was destroyed. The cannon, the centerpiece of the Splatz the Clown human cannonball prop, required a complete rebuild, and other props were water damaged and in need of a careful safety review to avoid any problems.
I am pretty sure I deleted all the photos of that, just because, cripes I did not want to see it again!
The show went on, though rain on Halloween kept crowds low and the entire haunt sort of went down in the books as a lackluster sputter. Which was too bad because it was our first hard-right turn into startles, scares, and shocks instead of art and detail!
I think, on some level, weather and the hassles and stress and headaches may be why we both wanted a year off, and why 2014 was "Dark." Probably one of our best decisions to date as both of us are CLEARLY recharged, calm, and on our game as this build continues!
But how bout this year's weather? Well, we don’t clown around when it comes to weather any more.
This year, to the extent we can, we are already watching long range models.
Over half of the haunt this year is enclosed. Hopefully, the old Weather Witch will leave us unscathed.
For everything else, there is vodka and cranberry
Earlier this week, after having a drink with some friends, they were leaving to meet other friends for dinner. They referred to their future dinner host as, "Mr. Christmas" (owing to his annual elaborate lights-and-synchronized-music-in-your-car display).
This irritated me. How did HE get THAT title? Did he self-anoint himself with anointment? Did the community take a vote? Or was this just administrative fiat? And if he is "Mr. Christmas," are we not worthy of the "Mr. Halloween" title?!
It's OK, I anticipated your reaction...you are thinking, "that's a little bit pretentious." I counter with, "Is it? Is it REALLY pretentious? Or do we deserve it because
THE MAYOR SUGGESTED WE ARE WORTHY?"
Yeah - that's right - a duly elected civic leader recognized our effort. That story begins at one of the best food joints around...
Laurienzo's Brick Oven Cafe
If you've never been, go! And if they have mussels, order them. The mojitos are extraordinary, the pizza is very unique, and the atmosphere, service, entrees and ambience are all top shelf. Tell Bruce or Jay we sent you, and then tell them they really should comp us a meal for generously providing unsolicited positive advertising which is assuredly reaching millions of viewer's eyes. Did we mention Laurienzo's is by far the best restaurant in the area?
As we finished our meal, a friend approached our table to say hello. He was accompanied by a gentleman we recognized to be the then-mayor of Mount Airy.
Small Talk Small Talk Blah Blah Blah Small Talk Small Talk Blah Blah Blah
As we chatted about what part of town we lived in, Mr. Mayor volunteered that he lived in our 'hood as well. Well, what a coincidence. When we identified our street, he realized he was in the presence of local celebs and he immediately brightened, and asked, "Oh! Are you the guys who do the haunt?"
We cast our eyes to the floor. Humility and some modest embarrassment covered us. Just kidding - we lack both.
We confirmed that we were said team and he immediately began pouring praise and compliments on our work. He noted he was especially taken by the amount of real local history we weave into the plots and backstories.
He told us he had toured our haunt in prior years and was deeply impressed by our efforts to emboss our haunt with information and actual facts from the town's rich past.
Boldly, and without prompting, he informed us he planned to
issue a plaque to us
for our efforts to link the town's history to our haunt.
Well...I guess never trust a politician...??
No trophy. No nothing.
So....how do I arc this story back to the beginning?
I guess I could get philosophical and say that if the work, struggle, bleeding, and worry toward a purpose do not satisfy us, then it's not worth trying because often, the effort is the only reward we're going to see. And, if you need others to validate you, you have already lost the contest. Or I could say that life's not long enough to measure it with the petty yardstick of public praise.
But even in those sobering and surreal statements, 3 questions remain unanswered:
Where's our damned plaque?
Can we be "Mr. Halloween's?"
Bruce and Jay, are you going to comp us a meal at Laurienzos? It is, afterall, simply the finest homestyle, family-owned cafe in the region with the best butternut squash ravioli in brown butter sage sauce with pine nuts and crumbled goat cheese....
Oh....and the world's GREATEST sangria - ask for extra fruit.
A Look Inside "The Annex"
It's pretty unassuming from the outside...a 10x16' (HOA-Approved) hand-built lawn and garden shed nestled in the rear corner of the lot, concealed and softened by trees and shrubs.
But inside this box, The Annex, some of the most intricate and complex haunt work takes place. This is where pneumatic pistons, solenoids, programmable controllers, wood, plastic, steel and sweat combine to turn out the props which eventually are moved to their haunt site.
The two-room interior is usually humming with activity from June through October and has cranked out some favorites like the Claw Machine, and the Grave Breaker used in the 2009, 2010, and 2011 haunts.
The Annex serves a lot of purposes. Obviously, it's a tool and parts locker.
And it's also sometimes used for Art (please note - I did NOT take a shot at the Art Department even though there is a ginormous low-hanging curve ball floating right over home plate and we could REALLY use a few runs right now...)
And Design...here we see the Rough design for massive 10x14' Clown Corps panel for 2013 Clown Corps Haunt
Which led to this:
And, fun fact, The Annex boasts a second floor for storage - complete with a retractable staircase..
But, again, the humor is always in the subtlely....the Annex often serves a much more vital and important purpose....
It is the site for our Morale Team Meetings.
Yep - that's a stack of Red Solo cups. Obviously, they COULD be used for mixing paint, but then where would we pour the wine??
So...there it is - your virtual tour inside the Annex. Play your cards right and we'll invite you to a Morale Team Meeting one night. Nothing better than Box Wine in the shed as the sun sets!
Yeah. Tuberculosis probably does suck...a lot.
[Cue your inner monologue asking you: "Oh, jeeze, where are they going with THIS post?"]
Saw this photo in the collection today and it triggered some thoughts which turned out to be far deeper than planned! The concept of this blog is to give you access "behind the scenes" of the haunt and the build process. This photo is illustrative of how much lurks behind the walls and under the props...and it also is almost poignant in the manner it exposes what's really behind the haunt.
Our work each year starts many months before the weather turns cool. In fact, it often starts while the weather has not yet turned warm...as we start hatching plots and ideas in the waning days of winter.
And each spring, as we start to dig out old panels or skulls or tarps from 9 years of haunting, we usually discover some irreverend reminder of the years gone by. It may be a bad inside joke, a part that drove us bananas, or something we lost months earlier.
In this case, a re-purposed wall section we pulled for the 2015 haunt bore a reminder of the 2012 Mary's Terror Haunt. In that haunt, we spent both nights of the haunt hiding in the giant central control room pulling levers, dropping scare panels, and laughing mercilessly as your children soiled themselves.
In the breaks between guests, we scribbled on the walls where you could not see. We penned such profound statements as "TB Sucks," and:
A bawdy statement that our haunt was even slightly scarier than Beelzebub himself - he stopped at 666...we took it all the way to 667.
I also want to point out that we have made it this far into a lengthy blog post without yet taking a shot at the AWOL Art Department.
Oddly, we also found a panel which, in chalk and with great and alarming detail, depicted the massive "Perfect Storm" which took down the Andrea Gail.
But this "TB Sucks" photo also struck us in the way it really conveys how much enjoyment is baked into these haunts. It shows how much we enjoy the time spent on the build, be it planning, working, worrying, pulling it off, dealing with weather, or grabbing that Epic Breakfast Burrito from the
Mount Airy Inn
The Mount Airy Inn EBB...the official breakfast of Necrosis Valley
(and for that plug, I think you owe us at least one free breakfast)
Quite candidly, there is a not much that rivals the stretch from February Friday evening pizza and wine nights when Jeff and Greg begin kicking ideas down the road until the 14 day Mandatory Cooling Off Period following Halloween when the first rule of Necrosis Valley is do not speak of Necrosis Valley....
We just appreciate the interest you show when you ask us "are ya doin' it again?" Or when you tell us your kids (or you) had fun. Or, when we see you startle or laugh before you head back to finish trick or treating.
The haunt gives us an escape. A respite from our jobs and the drudgery of life. It gives us a reason to be busy, and to laugh and enjoy time with friends.
Over the last 9 years, it has created itself a purpose. And that's good - because Life, without purpose, is death. Death sucks. Ergo, Life without purpose is like having TB...and THAT sucks.
Something must change....either the name of the Art Department, or the PEOPLE in the Art Department. Let's start with a possible name change...how bout the
as in, they aren't ever going to show up, are they? And they probably aren't going to contribute much. They ARE going to give us a freakin aneurysm if they don't ante up and kick in soon
Sunday dawned bright, clear, brisk - in a word:
"there was no damned excuse for the continued absence of the Art folks."
I mean, full disclosure, ONE member did show up today...but...generally, we're gonna need ya to wear some pants, and stay longer than 3.5 minutes.
Meantime, in spite of the constant drag of the Aren't Department anchor, yet another room jumped closer to completion and there was even talk of finishing the entire haunt site early and sitting around doing nothing for a weekend or 2 before Fall ends.
A few lessons we learned today:
1. We are so far ahead, none of the major stores (including Party City, Target and Walmart) have all the their Halloween stuff out yet - so, we must wait on them. Up your game, boys -
2. Pillows make lousy cobwebs.
3. This is the coolest fake blood ever:
4. That one dude at Jersey Mike's is an idiot and, no, mayonnaise does NOT go on an Italian sub.
5. Jeff and Greg, ironically, both hate blood sausage.
OK, so we actually learned Number 5 in Brookyn 2 years ago, but....it's still a good story
Before we close out the blog for today - just a few more gratuitous shots at the Aren't Department.
More later. Have a great week
When you wake up to a radar like this on a free Saturday,
you probably think to yourself,
"Well, that's cool...perfect day to work on the interior of the haunt...."
You are part of the Necrosis Valley Art Department which still, even now, is as elusive as a Squatch and as visible as a fart.
Of 14 discreet haunt elements (scares, effects, props, etc.), more than half have been completed and have been sitting in the Art Department "In Box"...gathering cobwebs that would make a pro Haunter proud.
It's as if they are saying to Jeff and Greg:
It's rumored (as in, it's legit...I'm just trying to be polite and not call out anyone in particular) SOME of the team may have actually...wait for it...
GONE TO THE BEACH TO RELAX!!!
It's just a rumor...I mean, there's no way to even verify that kind of stuff, is there?
Any-who....the main haunt team is split up today - Jeff has a real job to deal with, and Greg's working on small props in the Annex. Progress-wise, we have one more planned prop/haunt element to build, and the entire basic plan for the haunt has been met. That allows us nearly 6 weeks to add art and design, add additional props, work on costuming, and find enough "actors" to staff the haunt.
Actors have become a major (and growing) part of the haunt. The inital displays were pretty much just that - displays. The motion was almost entirely provided by animated props.
2012's "Mary's Terror" haunt changed that in a dramatic way when these kids absolutely stole the show:
The impact on the haunt (and our haunt philosophy) changed...
live actors are pivotal and
kids are creepy.
Have a peaceful weekend - check back later
Fewer than 50 days left...let THAT sink in.
But who's counting? I know we court disaster when we say this outloud - we have never been this far ahead of the game. Which (or, witch) gives us time to reflect. In the last 7 or 8 years, Necrosis Valley Haunts has built some pretty elaborate sets and props. Jeff and Greg sweated a lot of details...most of which were probably overlooked.
Thought today's blog would take a Throwback Thurdsday walk down haunts past.
Let's start with this piece from the 2013, "H&H Brother's Clown Corps" Haunt. The Claw Machine...fully animated, frightening, and way too detailed...
(Hover your mouse over the photo for a caption)
This next baby was one of our favorites - and somehow, the characters sort of take on a life of their own. This is our version of a Zoltar forutne telling booth. In lieu of Zoltar, you get "Spanish," the Clown. Not sure how Spanish got his name - but it stuck. While distracted by Spanish's movement behind the glass (read: "false sense of security"), a drop panel below him would suddenly open and a much more alive clown would lunge out at the viewer....if THAT didn't get 'em, a 6'2" LIVE actor clown would sneak into place and wait...behind the viewer. Spanish was a true triple threat scare element and a beautiful piece fo work Thanks, Haley from the 2013 Art team for the help on this classic
And we'll top off today's blog with what has to be one of the coolest and most ambitious props to date (until we later discuss The Amazing Splatz the Clown, also from 2013.)
2011's theme was "NV Meats: Our Meat, Your Treat."
And what demonically possessed butcher shop would be worth it's sage, salt, and monosodium glutamate without a grinder which coverted dead bodies into the world's finest sausage?
No more fanfare - this prop speaks for itself. It's also the only prop (so far) to ever catch fire during the haunt.
We still giggle at the folks who thought the fire was part of the haunt.
Labor Day. Aptly Named. Labor we did.
Another day started in the very early hours with more work in the Annex on a pesky and complicated animated prop. But we're pretty sure more than one visitor WILL piddle themselves when that little beaut is finished and it has a chance to greet you in the haunt.
By mid-morning, we put on the final full-court press to finish all the structural pieces in the main build so that we can turn it all over to the Art Department for final witchery. On paper, things could not look better. I mean, it's September 8, and as many as 10 MAJOR elements are at least 75% through the build stage or completely finished. On the flipside, 7 out of those 10 elements were released to the Art Department, which so far would have been better named the "Wherefore Art Thou Department." Having been given a full walk through and discussion of the aesthetics and design requirements, most of the the "Art" folks decided they'd be better served sitting down to some fried chicken at the Mount Airy Inn than to sit down and corpse a skelly or two or turn expandable caulk into sheer horror..
But that's OK.
Youth is our future, right?
We didn't expect much more effort than we got.
Time remains on our side.
Anyway - special thanks this weekend to Jen and Lisa in the Craft Services Department who kept us fed with Jersey Mikes, California Tortilla, stuffed "cchhhhhhhhjalepeno's," hot paninis, coffee. That was a plus!!
So, are you coming, or not??
Look, I'm not saying we're building Disney's Haunted Mansion, or Six Flagg's Fright Fest, or Field of Screams, but I can tell you this:
If you live in the area, and you are bored Friday October 30 or Halloween Saturday, and you want a good scare, that costs you precisely bupkiss,
I promise you will jump or startle enough to make a quick visit and some fellowship worth your time!
OK....well - back to our REAL jobs for a few days!!
Sunday was sort of an easy day. Family and social obligations meant we had a few hours in the morning and early afternoon. Good news is, we were able to finish the final walls and now the entire haunt structure is ready to move to the "Art Department" for what should be the fun part of the haunt - "scaring it up."
Thought we'd throw in a few of the lighter moments of the weekend...like when Jeff realized how close we came to a disaster when he tried to access the attic drop-down ladder and saw how we came within a fortunate inch or two of having to tear a wall out...how we managed to not totally block access to the storage areas and have to tear a wall down, I'll never know. That's flat out contrary to our luck.
And in a moment of spare time, after years of inattention, ol' Chopper finally got him some feet!!
And lastly, in sort of a "put up or shut up post," lest yee think we wing this project every year, I give you proof of our organization and evidence of the amount of work that (even this small) haunt takes...here is a glance at the TOP SECRET project plan and design layout.
So, yeah, it's like, legit.
Not sure what we're doing Labor Day. Probably start getting the Art Department team focused on the colossal amount of work they have ahead of them. Hmmmm....do I see a pizza party in the future? I do know we'll need to knock off in time for the Hokies game tonight - that's a given. And maybe a burger with the kids - haven't seen them all weekend!!
If today mirrors yesterday, I think we'll be reflecting on a productive weekend. Work started just after 5 am Saturday morning... yes, THAT 5 am...
Work was split between "The Annex"
and the main haunt site. "The Annex" is our nickname for Greg's workshop where small props and pneumatics are built.
After a series of very quick successes (and make a note of that - that's a rarety),
work shifted to the main haunt site to set a few additional walls, and start on some theme areas.
It was a day where simple elements were a pain in the ass, while complex shockers fell into place out of thin air...so we rolled with it!
By 4:15, we were both cooked, so we buttoned up for the day, and went home to rest.
God bless the ladies, because after a long day, they dragged our weary carcasses to Oscar's Ale House for a few flights, some great burgers, hog bites, and college football with two lovely ladies in tow...
Not a bad way to cap off a great day in Necrosis Valley!
Check back for an update tomorrow!
Our first "blog" entry.
TGIF. At least on paper, the weekend projects to be a pivotal one. The Labor Day holiday provides a chance to make the weekend one of big progress.
Major shipment with several critical prop parts and costumes arrives today from our boys at
Can't wait to see that stuff and get to building some complex animated pieces.
Should be some good stories and quality updates coming soon - keep watching!!
Work is in full swing. Most exterior structures are framed out and have been handed off to the "Art Department" for detailing (thanks Ali and Dylan for your work on a section which was FAR more work than any of us guessed!). Large interior structures are also nearly completed and a number of very cool props are either finished or in progress.
Tonight, Jeff set about dressing out some of the interior arts details and the results were just about stunning.
Check out the CONTAGION....it grows....it spreads....it eats....and it knows....
Now that school is back in session, work really starts to kick in and progress moves as fast as time evaporates.
If you live in the 'hood, you've also probably started seeing more and more FedEx, UPS, and Postal delivery trucks shipping in props, equipment, and parts.
Maybe one day, Jeff and I will add a video feature on one of our favorite parts of building...using pneumatics and prop controllers to automate and animate props.
I know the next thing up on my list involves both and I can't wait to startle it...errr....start it.
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