Tuesday, July 31, 2007
"SAN FRANCISCO - A Wisconsin man whose blend of awkward syntax, imminent disaster and bathroom humor offends both good taste and the English language won an annual contest Monday that salutes bad writing.
"Jim Gleeson, 47, of Madison, Wis., beat out thousands of other prose manglers in San Jose State University's 2007 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest with this convoluted opening sentence to a nonexistent novel:
"'Gerald began — but was interrupted by a piercing whistle which cost him ten percent of his hearing permanently, as it did everyone else in a ten-mile radius of the eruption, not that it mattered much because for them 'permanently' meant the next ten minutes or so until buried by searing lava or suffocated by choking ash — to pee,' Gleeson wrote.
"Scott Rice, an English professor at San Jose State, called Gleeson's entry a 'syntactic atrocity' that displays 'a peculiar set of standards or values.' Rice has organized the contest since founding it in 1982."
The contest is named for Victorian English author George Bulwer-Lytton. His 1830 novel Paul Clifford opened with this convoluted humdinger: "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."
Bulwer-Lytton wrote a number of horror stories, and they scare me. (I'm afraid to try them!)
Don't know what European show this video comes from, but the "severed head cooking in a pot" prank reminds me of the old CANDID CAMERA show-- if Stephen King had been the *head* writer. (For those of you old enough to remember C.C. -- wouldn't it have been great to have seen it hosted by Boris Karloff and Vincent Price?)
Enjoy this video find-- but be warned that it is LOUD.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
A Tiltin' Tilton video that my friend Ted Newsom found at Youtube. Not work-friendly because of the REALLY low humor involved. But the Voodoo Queen and I laughed at this until tears ran down our faces. It's a gas!
UPDATE Feb. 2008: Tilton apparently managed to get the video pulled from most sites, but here's a link to a site that still is running the clips, albeit in a somewhat grainier form:
Worship or whoopee cushion?
And yet another, less well-chosen set of clips:
Last year, the (probably) last feature-length film to be shot on Super 8mm film was given a national dvd release. Titled THE NAKED MONSTER , it features a bevy-- no, a mega-bevy-- of monster movie stars. Writer, director and producer TED NEWSOM was interviewed by the UMA's lovable drunken severed head, Max Cheney. Here's what was said:
Hi, Ted. In an interview for the M.J. Simpson cult movie website, you mention that THE NAKED MONSTER began from an idea you had of using Kenneth Tobey. You saw him reprising his character from THE THING. (And you wanted to craft a story that called to mind the characters he played in other monster films.) You stated you always saw the project as "a send-up". Did you ever think of writing the story in a serious way, once Tobey was available?
"Early on when I started doing print interviews, I deliberately sought out heroes of mine, particularly sci-fi guys like Ken Tobey, John Agar, and so on. When it came to thinking about a project with them hypothetically, I'd slot them in while writing the parts. That was easy with regard to Ken, since his persona is pretty consistent in his 4 genre films.
"Agar had a bemused, very laid-back Mid-America feel about him, which was at odds with the intellectuals he often played, so writing stuff for that sort of character was fun. Cornthwaite's Dr. Carrington is a classic performance, so imagining what a guy like this would say at any given instance was easy. This was all in early, feature-length drafts. Then, since it was all hypothetical, I imagined it was a real movie, with the actors on the same sets as each other... as opposed to
the way we ended up doing it.
"I never saw this project, in any incarnation, as serious, really. Some drafts had more serious situations, mostly because if the script was properly done (and not born, in the words of Benjamin Franklin about the US, 'half-improvised and half-compromised'), then you really do have to reach a point where a viewer can take a threat seriously. You see this in NIGHT AT THE OPERA versus DUCK SOUP, where they provide what's supposed to be a genuine dramatic low point.
"In the feature script, for instance, the monster is subdued and examined (which was sort-of done in our film); there was a huckster who wanted to exploit it, yada yada. And Hendry was basically cheated of his final face-off. He'd spent decades creating a flying monster-fighting plane called the X-112 for this purpose (it was named after an over the counter diet drug we used to do in Germany near the end of the month when nobody had money to score REAL drugs!). They find out it really is a genuine threat, and they have to turn to him again; he's morose, drunk, and bitter, but he comes around. The boys and Ken ride his long-hidden secret flying machine to snatch the monster up into the sky and head for a volcano that's erupted in the nearby harbor to drop him in. They've got a gigantic bomb aboard, too-- which gets tangled and won't descend, stuck in the bomb bay (like SATELLITE IN THE SKY). At the last minute Hendry asks the boys, 'This is the end. You boys want out?' They're sputtering along in this 40-year-old Jules Verne Meets George Pal craft with a giant net full of Monster hanging below them like a sack of angry potatoes, climbing up the chain to get tothem and a bomb right behind them ready to go off. And the boys say, 'No. We're with you 'til the end, sir.' Hendry says, 'Thanks, boys. That's what I thought.' And he pulls a convenient lever to eject them anyway. Then with the monster almost up the chain to the aircraft-- looking down in comical horror at the volcano below-- Hendry dives into the crater. 'See you in hell, partner,' he says. The bomb goes off, the volcano explodes, and Hendry saves the world. The boys parachute back to the airfield and everyone solemnly listens to General Mann give a patriotic eulogy (he keeps forgetting Hendry's name, like Karloff in COMEDY OF TERRORS). He drones on and on, and finally the radio crackles, 'Is this a long story?' and they look up. The X-112-- smoking, falling to pieces, battered-- comes in for a landing and Hendry gets out. Listen to the second half of the music cue on the old Dick Jacobs horror movie music album ["Themes From Horror Movies"] for THIS ISLAND EARTH and you can probably imagine what the scene would've felt like.
"Anyway, that was one variation of the more elaborate incarnation. Another was a notion of having him and the monster face off on a street, like a HIGH NOON
gunfight. It's all hypothetical. Elements of these things are still in the movie, a little.
"I did write a treatment and start a script which WAS more serious, a direct sequel to THE THING, in which a crop of people discover a landing in the Caribbean, and
Hendry is the older, private pilot who takes them down there. Only this time, there is a LOT of these things. I don't think I ever finished the script."
Did Tobey ever have any resistance to the idea of a send-up, or did he like the idea from the beginning?
"He said it was cute when he read the script. When we shot the scene where he puts on the old monster-fighting suit again, he asked, 'So you want to play this for parody?' No, I don't think he had a problem with DOING it; he had a problem with WATCHING it. He didn't tell me until years later. 'That goddamned thing,' is how he referred to it. 'Teddy, I don't want to hurt your feelings, but I just don't think it's very good.' I understood where he was coming from. His career never truly hit the lows of, say, John Agar or Robert Clarke, in things that are nearly unwatchable. I'm sure this was the cheapest project he was ever in. In the end, though, I think his presence and talent are nicely presented and he comes through with his dignity intact."
You mentioned, too, a reunion of cast and crew members of RKO's THE THING that you put together for a screening of the John Carpenter remake. I can't resist asking you to share the reactions of the people connected with the first film to that of the remake -- did they like it, laugh at it, fall asleep, or what?
"The week before I put together the reunion, I arranged for Chris Nyby, Ken Tobey and Bill Self to see the movie, over at a multiplex in Tarzana that was managedby my friend Craig Muckler (he gets his head bitten off in the monster movie; he and Wayne made 'Microwave Massacre'). Nyby harumphed noticeably during the scene in Carpenter's film where they show the team encircling the saucer in the ice. His comment later on E.T. about it was, 'It's a good commercial for J & B Scotch,' which was prominently featured. Bill Self (long-time producer at Fox, like of Batman, etc.; he's the guy in THE THING who thaws the ice) said, 'I wish I would've been smart enough to remake it myself.' Ken's observations were on point. 'I wish they would've found a part in it for an old fart that I could've played. I thought Kurt Russell did a good job, and Carpenter made a good picture, but they really should've called it "Who Goes There?", the original story title, because calling it THE THING just invites comparisons.'
"I didn't like the film originally. I think I resented it. But through the years I've watched it again and again, and Carpenter did an excellent job, as did Bill Lancaster, the writer who adapted the novella."
You've said the film was going to be "AIRPLANE meets Godzilla". How did the success of Jim Abrahams and the Zuckers affect you? Was the plan for one of them to write, direct, or produce? When the deal to pair you with one the AIRPLANE trio fell through, did that necessitate changes to the script?
"Ken Tobey had just appeared in AIRPLANE the first time I interviewed him. I always thought, still think, AIRPLANE was a near-perfect parody. When I say 'Airplane Meets Godzilla' I'm speaking in phony-baloney Hollywood log-line pitch terms, descriptively, not literally. It was never the intention to use Godzilla as the monster, if that's what you meant.
"The deal that was aborning at CAA with one of the Zucker/Abrahams trio (I've no idea which one) would've been essentially a name-attachment. 'Joe Blow Presents--' so whomever it would've been would have been there in an advisory role, executive producer or something, rather than as producer, writer, director or whatever. The team at the time was me, Wayne Berwick and Mark Wolf. No one had suggested any of us move aside for a bigger name. But this only went as far as a couple of meetings. None of us ever met the Zucker or Abrahams we were supposed to have been partnered with."
At one point, another writer did a rewrite of your script that wasn't used. Can you share one of the unused gags suggested by others that you either strongly liked or disliked?
"I remember one elaborate thing that I suppose I could've used-- the monster steps on a huge flatbed truck of fruit-- watermelons, or bananas, which would've been even better-- and it zips out from underneath him, and he sails down the street like a skateboarder until he wipes out and smashes into a building. Late in the game, I thought about doing a Mothra gag, since I'd been given a present from a friend of a battery-operated little Mothra caterpillar. It would've sprayed him with silly-string or something, and we'd have the two fairies come up with the suggestion.
"There was a lot of character stuff early on, and later, that I had written for the sheriff and G-man characters along with Nikki, but since in the end Brinke was the only one to stick with me, that all went. I did shoot some stuff that I excised totally, because it was really tangential-- I mean REALLY tangential, in a movie that's nothing BUT tangents.
"Like the two mokes who show up ('That's disastrous,' etc.) During the nighttime destruction scenes, I had a shot of them looking up and off at the monster. One says, 'Awww, I'll bet it's just a guy in a suit.' And the other guy slugs him on the shoulder, 'Don't be a chump! Where would they get a SUIT that big?' I don't know if it would've gotten a laugh or not."
Do you still have the original, short, black and white version or any of the other demo versions? Why wasn't the original black and white version included as an extra on the DVD?
"I didn't think it was fair to Mark Wolf, the original effect guy, to present his stuff. He's done some very nice things, like SLAVE GIRLS FROM BEYOND INFINITY, which has some marvelous effects. And the original animation was just done so cheaply, it would not represent how good he could do something under the right circumstances. On top of that, since the first version was never done for commercial purposes, we used a lot of recorded music that we'd never be able to clear with regard to rights."
Are there any really nice gags or effects shots that fans of THE NAKED MONSTER have not gotten to see in the film or deleted scenes included as an extra? In the Simpson interview, you allude to unfilmed sight gags that would have used Kevin McCarthy, Whit Bissell, and Jeff Morrow.
"I think I did write a scene for Whit Bissel in which he plays a pompous, pipe smoking academic who -- in the middle of the monster tearing the hell out of the city-- explains it all away as mass hysteria, swamp gas or indigestion. And then he either gets flattened or runs off in terror. The Kevin McCarthy gag I still regret not doing, but I didn't really know him, and I had so much in the movie already, there just wouldn't have been a lot of room. Another night-time monster-destruction scene. Then we see a high angle down on some barely moving cars, honking, and McCarthy's running through them, yelling at the drivers. 'It's here already! It's coming! You've got to listen to me!' And then a giant close-up of his face, 'You're next, YOU'RE NEXT!!!' Then he looks straight up to the top of frame and sees a giant monster foot coming down, and looks back at camera and screams, 'I'M NEXT!!!!!' Ker-flump."
What are your favorite classic comedies, and what more contemporary comedies do you admire?
"Too hard to choose. Anything with the Marx Brothers, I love the best Stooges, and heck, I think Cary Grant is hysterical when he wants to be. I think Charlie Sheen is a wonderful dead-pan comic actor. Compare him in those Zucker-style spoofs to Val Kilmer in TOP SECRET, which I find not nearly as funny as it should be. HAROLD AND KUMAR was wonderful. And, heck, I get a big kick out of the silliness of Fred Ray's bikini comedies. Laurel & Hardy. I can't tolerate the late Our Gang stuff and Hugh Herbert leaves me as cold as Brown and Carney.
"Personally I find THE GAME an utter riot, and since I used to be writing partners with one of the writers and know him, I've always seen this as a comedy. I was laughing hysterically when I saw it, but several hundred people in the audience probably thought I was nuts, since I guess they thought it was supposed to be a serious thriller. Joe Dante's LOONEY TUNES BACK IN ACTION had so many wonderful moments."
Our members love the classic Universal monster movies, and many collect vintage toys, games, books, comics, records, and magazines featuring Universal's classic creatures. What are your favorite Universal horror films and film actors? (Heck, you can talk about working with Peter Cushing, if you want. We won't mind!)
"Oh, who doesn't love them? If they don't, they're obviously communists. I have never really collected seriously. My sister sent me a miniature Frankenstein toy for Christmas several years ago which I prize; it was a duplicate of a set that came out in about 1964, with the Creature, the Wolf Man, etc., about six inches high. And I still have the prop Creature skeleton hand I assembled and painted for a prop in THE NAKED MONSTER.
"I've never really treated myself to collecting. Most of my stuff reflect people I've loved working with, photos with me meeting someone I adored-- like Clayton Moore, Lucille Ball, Cushing, Lee."
And as a kid, what monster "stuff" did you have and enjoy?
"The Aurora kits-- the originals, not those Johnny-Come-Lately glow-in-the-dark jobs. C'mon, glow in the dark? If you paint them the right colors, you mask the phosphorescence, and if you don't they look like-- like glow in the dark toys! Comics-- wow, TALE FROM THE TOMB, a Dell one-shot-- and the Dell one-shots of The Mummy and Dracula and the Creature and The Wolf Man (well, maybe not so much THAT one). Games, playtoys... Munsters and Universal Monster soap containers... later on, 8mm cutdowns of stuff, Castle, Ken FIlms, and impossible Americom 8mm."
Actress Brinke Stevens plays the core character in THE NAKED MONSTER, and she and Ken Tobey give the film its depth (such as it is, ha ha!) Any anecdotes about her relationship with the classic monster films of yore, and when will we see your next project with her, IDOL PURSUITS?
"I have always adored Brinke and have thought that when given the chance, she's such an excellent actress. A performer is often at the mercy of the script and director, and if something isn't particularly well-written or logical, or if the production value is so cheesy it interferes with enjoying the movie, it's easy to dismiss an individual's participation. When she's got a nicely written role, she's so good. The mysterious woman in GRANDMOTHER'S HOUSE. The lead in Fred Ray's HAUNTING FEAR. I think in that, she probably gives her most relaxed, naturalistic performance. TEENAGE EXORCIST, which we co-wrote, with her in mind, and later on when she's possessed, does a terrific comedy turn. Her stuff with Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer in SORORITY BABES, very, very funny and sweet, with the Mr, Hyde-ish dominatrix coming out later.
"We came up with an idea to do something neither of us had ever done, a romantic screwball comedy. I think she's excellent in double roles, and I wanted her to get a chance at a riff like Barbara Stanwyck in THE LADY EVE, someone pretending to be someone unlike themselves, who's actually JUST like their real self. And since I presume very few people would ever think of me if they were casting a part like Cary Grant in BRINGING UP BABY, I figured this would be a good chance for me. So we started shooting, and have actually shot about half of it. What little feedback I've gotten from the very few people I've allowed to see the rough cut, is positive. We do have a great deal of production value in the stuff so far: locations in Sedona, Arizona (including a scene shot in a biplane), aboard a cruise ship at sea, on location in Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan. I think it could be very sweet and fun, but she's eternally busy with other things, as am I. Hey, look, it took me twenty years to do the monster movie, and a year to do my WHISPERS FROM A SHALLOW GRAVE (which took another 8 years to get released)-- the game's not over yet. I always considered IDOL PURSUITS a labor of love, and I know she did, too."
There was a period in your life where you were not sober. I've always admired people with the strength to successfully cope with alcoholism, a horrible disease. Any thoughts on the actors or directors of classic horror who struggled with a drinking problem?
"Some of us cannot handle drink or drugs in moderation. We just don't know how. It doesn't necessarily mean you can't function before that first shot of rye in the morning, although I've known people who did have it that badly. The insidious thing about alcoholism is that it's cunning. The decision-making side of your mind changes, sometimes drastically, sometimes subtly. And I'm not talking about just when one is bombed or even slightly lit. Even when you're sober, your focus is often off several degrees, misdirected. I've been lucky enough to have been sober for most of the last 23 years-- and unlucky and dumb enough to let myself get un-sober twice, both times for about six months, and both times enough so that I screwed up relationships, parts of my professional life, friendships, and so on. You do what you can to make amends, and do the only thing you can-- you don't drink or do drugs. There are really only three ways you can end up: in jail, in the hospital, or dead. It may take a week, or maybe twenty years, but it'll happen, and you do damage to yourself and those around you, especially people who genuinely care for you.
"I just had a friend die, who I loved so much, and for so long. When we started going out, part of our social life was AA meetings. We were long since 'just pals,' but she was ill and decided, 'What the heck, I'm dying, I'm already on heavy pain meds, who cares if I drink, too?' And since I was terribly sober, it killed me to see this. The changes in her were really like Jekyll and Hyde. The 'bad' side of her was hurting my friend, the 'good' Allyson. No, it wasn't a multiple personality, just the darker side of her, the self-destructive side, the part that hurt people badly and preemptorially, because she 'knew' that they'd hurt her if they got the chance. It killled me to watch this.
"Yeah, as you go through things in life, it does-- or should, anyway-- give you a little insight on otherwise baffling things like Lugosi's pain and drug use, Chaney's boozing. It becomes sad rather than shocking."
About the the title, THE NAKED MONSTER. You mention on the dvd's bonus documentary about the movie that you thought of calling the film ATTACK OF THE B-MOVIE MONSTER. Why did you change your mind, and what other titles did you consider?
"I wanted something that did NOT immediately type it as a 'B-movie,' because in the minds of most people other than us hard core fans, B means Z and Z means Crap. At one point in the script stages I called it 'PLOTZ! The Amazing Gigantic Colossal Creature' or something like that. I never really was happy with 'Attack of the B-Movie Monster,' because it could sound like it was a monster that came out of a movie, or something. But I needed SOMEthing to put in the title. Another possibility was THE BIG MONSTER. But I think I do explain in the commentary, I thought, 'Assuming this ever gets into stores and they put it on a comedy shelf, what would I want it near? The Naked Gun. Duh!!!'"
I wish I could come up with the perfect last question that would give you a chance to provide an amusing coda. I'll just say "Thanks for our conversation, Ted, and best of luck for THE NAKED MONSTER. "
"We'll come up with a tag. Somehow....some daaaayyyyyy... some-wherrrrre...."
Friday, July 27, 2007
A nice set of Frankenstein photographs (belonging to "cuidad imaginaria") can be found here.
Some striking covers of Spanish-language editions of the novel can be seen in the set, among other items.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Fans of Boris, Pickett and old TV should go here RIGHT NOW and dig this gravely good video! The video dubbing and sound mix are pretty well done, and the whole thing is a blast to watch.
If you have trouble watching it at the MGMSB blog, you can watch it at Youtube directly. (Seeing a video reposted to a blog can sometimes be problematic.)
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Cinematographer Lazlo Kovacs dies at 74
By Carolyn Giardina
Laszlo Kovacs, one of Hollywood's most influential and respected directors of photography, died Saturday night in his sleep. He was 74.
Kovacs lensed the landmark cinematic achievement "Easy Rider" and compiled about 60 credits including "Five Easy Pieces," "Shampoo," "Paper Moon," "New York, New York," "What's Up, Doc," "Ghostbusters," "My Best Friend's Wedding" and "Miss Congeniality."
The Hungary-born cinematographer also carried during his career a remarkable story of courage that occurred 50 years ago during his country's revolution.
Kovacs was born and raised on a farm in Hungary when that country was isolated from the Western world, first by the Nazi occupation and later during the Cold War. Kovacs was in his final year of school in Budapest when a revolt against the communist regime started on the city streets.
He and his lifelong friend Vilmos Zsigmond made the daring decision to document the event for its historic significance. To do this, they borrowed film and a camera from their school, hid the camera in a paper bag with a hole for the lens and recorded the conflict.
The pair then embarked on a dangerous journey during which they carried 30,000 feet of documentary film across the border into Austria. They entered the U.S. as political refugees in 1957.
Against the odds, Kovacs and Zsigmond went on to become two of Hollywood's most influential directors of photography.
Laszlo Kovacs' photography in the films TARGETS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, PAPER MOON and GHOSTBUSTERS will always stay with me.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Found a cool new cocktail recipe. Or, since it was inspired by satanists, should I say a HOT new one? In the book Rosemary's Baby, there is a drink mentioned called the Vodka Blush; I assume it was an imaginary name created by author Ira Levin. Someone at the Church Of Satan website, one Peggy Nadramia, has now created a drink in honor of Levin's libation! See the recipe and a photo of this devilishly delicious beverage here.
Price avoids the hammy and fruity in his performance, and gives an laudable, honest performance. But for me, the most despairing reading of Poe's bleak lyric lines was the one done on a record by Basil Rathbone, in the 1960s. Still available commercially.
Here is the first interpretation of three of "The Raven" that I want to share. John Astin -- who looks SO much like Poe it's uncanny -- offers a far different reading than the one by Vincent Price. Astin's performance seems --appropriately-- more like that of a poet's, rather than an actor's, interpretation. But Price's is more satisfying -- to me, anyway. Price performs all the emotions in the lines, not just some of them.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
"The sinister emotion that angrily dwells on how unfair the world is could shed light on the unusual human notion of fair play, and scientists say the research could help understand how and why these dark and light sides of human nature evolved." (For the rest of the article, go here.)
* He goes by "Charles Q.", but I call him Chucky to spite him.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Lines Inscribed Upon a Cup Fashioned from a Skull
by Lord Byron, 1808
"Start not - nor deem my spirit fled
In me behold the only skull,
From which unlike a living head,
Whatever flows is never dull.
"I lived, I loved, I quaffed like thee
I died ; let earth my bones resign
Fill up - thou canst not injure me ;
The worm has fouler lips than thine.
"Better to hold the sparkling grape,
Than nurse the earth - worm's slimy brood
And circle in the goblet's shape
The drink of Gods, than reptile's food.
"Where once my wit, perchance, hath shone,
In aid of others let me shine ;
And when, alas ! our brains are gone,
What nobler substitute than wine ?
"Quaff while thou canst: another race,
When thou and thine, like me, are sped,
May rescue thee from earth's embrace,
And rhyme and revel with the dead.
"Why not ? Since through life's little day
Our heads such sad effects produce;
Redeem'd from worms and wasting clay,
This chance is theirs, to be of use."
See an artistic recreation of this bony beverage holder here:
Monday, July 16, 2007
She got up, unplugged the TV and then threw out my beer.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Before I leave work, I thought I'd share this version done in India of the Michael Jackson "Thriller" video. Included are English "subtitles" that are really what someone thought the Hindi words sound like in English. It's pretty funny.
Monday, July 2, 2007
"BUCHAREST, Romania - A Habsburg heir is hoping someone will take a bite of his offer Monday to sell "Dracula's Castle" in Transylvania.
"The medieval Bran Castle, perched on a cliff near Brasov in mountainous central Romania, is a top tourist attraction because of its ties to Prince Vlad the Impaler, the warlord whose cruelty inspired Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, "Dracula."Legend has it that the ruthless Vlad— who earned his nickname because of the way he tortured his enemies — spent one night in the 1400s at the castle.
"The Habsburgs formally put the Bran Castle on the market Monday, a U.S.-based investment company said. No selling price was announced."
Bran Castle was built in the 14th to serve as a fortress to protect against the invading Ottoman Turks.
(For the rest of the article, go here: http://tinyurl.com/25tg6g )
Wednesday was the last day of work in the retail department I HAD been in; I was then to take a week's vacation for the Bash and transfer to a new department. The fact that I was escaping a boss I considered to be monstrous and beastly I took as a good omen for the thrills to be had at the Bash.
Thursday, the day before the Bash kicked off, I drove to the hotel to meet early arriving friends and to buy a Dracula ring from Richard Sheffield, a zoo curator in Mexico who is a part-time professional "friend of the late Bela Lugosi". (No disrespect is meant here; Mr. Sheffield was a very kind friend to Lugosi in the horror star's last years, and he's very generously shared his memories, photos, and mementos in articles, books, and at conventions, just as I hope I would do if I had been the pal of a passed-on star! Sheffield has done a service to horror film history by sharing as much as he has.) Anyway, I arrived at the hotel before Mr. Sheffield, and found friends Robert Taylor and Sara Waugh there. This was fortunate, as they are both fun people and major collectors of horror film-related memorabilia; they could appreciate my wanting the Dracula ring, a replica molded from a prop ring made by Universal for four films with Dracula in them. (Robert, seeing the ring I bought I bought from Sheffield, decided he had to have one too!) Here I am with Robert:
The pose was probably a bad idea, seeing as it calls to mind Fred Schneider's song Monster ("I've got a monster in my pants..."). The picture is pretty fly, but I am not popping outta Mr. Taylor's fly, you understand! Here's the ring, molded from one first used in Son Of Dracula, and worn by Lon Chaney, Jr., John Carradine and finally by Bela Lugosi in Abbot And Costello Meet Frankenstein. Richard Sheffield was eventually given the ring by Lugosi. (My cheap digital camera doesn't take good close-ups, so the pic is one I found on the Internet of another one just like it.)
I also got to see Brian Horrorwitz from the Trash Palace site:
Dammit, no one seems able to balance me on their hands very well, and just after the shutter opened here I fell over backwards onto the floor. Thank god I'd been drinking heavily and felt the impact less!
Part 2 tomorrow or Wednesday.