Melissa and I didn't have a lot of holiday traditions, but there is one that started on a dare and that I have grown quite fond of. In 2011 Melissa and I moved away from our tiny home in Tempe and into our current house in central Phoenix. There are a lot of differences between these two homes, the least of which is our Halloween clientele. Tempe was all drunk undegrads, Phoenix is all kindergarteners (ok, so maybe they aren't that different).
In the 14 years that Melissa, and then we, lived in Tempe we could count the total number of trick or treaters that visited our house on one hand. We were expecting the same in Phoenix that first year and were quickly overwhelmed by candy hungry Iron Men and Princesses.
The next year, 2012, Melly and I decided to be better prepared. We actually bought candy and, for the first time in our relationship, actual pumpkins. Rather than follow the crowd and cut triangles into a scary grin, Melissa challenged me to cut Walter White's visage into the it.
It would have been easy to just get a stencil and be done, so she put some stipulations on me. No stencils were allowed. The design had to be done freehand, not projected and drawn on. I could use any tool I wanted, but the carving had to be done by hand, no machines or computers allowed.
Each year for the next four years Melissa would give me a challenge, to see if it could be done. I had a lot of second thoughts about continuing on this year, but so many people asked me about it that I couldn't say no. The more I thought about it, the more I found myself looking forward to it.
While my muse didn't give me specific instructions this year, I have found a way to work her challenges in again this year. I know that she is around, smiling at this year's batch, and watching over all of the Elsas and Kylo Rens. Please enjoy our pumpkins over the years, and Happy Halloween!
from Breaking Bad
The pumpkin that started it all. I still think this is the best one I ever carved. I think if it hadn't turned out this well we probably would not have kept going with it.
from Breaking Bad
You can't have Walt without Jesse. In a lot of ways Jesse is the more complex character. He is not the more complex pumpkin.
The Velvet Underground and Nico
Lou Reed had passed away earlier that week. I was upset about it, so Melly challenged me to channel those feelings into my most favorite carving media.
Sparky the Sun Devil
from Arizona State University
I'm not super happy with the way this one turned out. The challenge was finding a way to make the inside of Sparky's face stay together. All told, it looks like what it is supposed to. To take a page from ASU football: it may not be pretty, but it's a win.
Van Gogh's Starry Night
This one took the most time of any I have ever carved. There is just so much to do. So many small cuts. I took some liberties with the work, it's not an exact one to one match, but I am happy with the end result.
from The Shining
One of our favorite movies as couple was The Shining. I think we watched that movie probably 30 times in 15 years. It was our go to Halloween movie after the trick or treaters went home. It became our Thanksgiving movie last year, when we found ourselves unexpectedly on our own. Nothing says family like trying to murder them.
This particular pumpkin is supposed to depict the scene where Jack starts to loose it. Wendy and Danny are playing in the hedge maze. Jack is supposed to be writing, but is instead going crazy.
Bonus points: this is the same look my boss gets when we're on the road together and I make him skip lunch.
This was back when it was still funny..
If you look closely you can see where i used the pumpkin innards for his hair. Obvious choices are obvious.
Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon
Dark Side was one her most favorite albums. It took me a long time to love it as much as her, but I do. There has not been a week where I haven't put it on, thought about her, and smiled.
The Death Star
from Star Wars
If you are tempted to try to recreate this one, my advice to you is don't. It takes forever and never turns out like you want it to.
longtime broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs
Despite my earlier stance, Go Cubs! Go! This carving was a suggestion from a friend on facebook. It's a great suggestion. Harry Carey's face was made to carved in to a pumpkin.
I was so happy they won last nigh so I could still do this one.
Radiohead - Bear from Kid A
album artwork/band logo
If you haven't ever listened to Radiohead, Kid A is the album to start with. It's a nice coda with Dark Side.
Bonus points: The shadow this one puts off is awesome!!
Wolf Howling at the Moon
Message for Melly
Yes, this was the hardest pumpkin I have ever carded. Yes, that is her handwriting. Yes, I love her and always will.
(yes, I cheated to make it. I used a projector to get her handwriting. I think I get a pass this time.)