Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A coming event: THE SPOOKTACULAR

SATURDAY FRIGHT SPECIAL, a horror host style movie program seen on public access channels across the country, is hosting a LIVE monster event in April! They'll be screening a BRAND NEW 35mm print from Universal of the 1962 classic King Kong Vs. Godzilla on Friday, April 24 at the historic Colonial Theatre in Keene, NH at 7PM.

Here's their description: "It will be a family-friendly fearsome festivity for all. What is especially exciting about this is that the print that we are screening is untouched print STRUCK BY UNIVERSAL PICTURES SPECIFICALLY FOR THIS EVENT. In addition to the main feature, we'll be screening vintage monster movie previews! Costumed characters from SATURDAY FRIGHT SPECIAL will be giving away DVDs and T-shirts, and overall creating a retro-fun night in the theater!

"Legendary comic artist Steve Bissette is not only helping us promote THE SPOOKTACULAR , he will be donating SIX sets of signed copies of his critically acclaimed, dinosaur-themed title Tyrant, and an original King Kong Vs. Godzilla sketch done just for us.

"We're hoping that monster fans will flock to Keene to have a city-stompin’, building-bashin’ good time with us at THE SPOOKTACULAR. Hope to see you there!"

The Drunken Severed Head recommends this event! Sounds like a blast to me. But there's more good news. If you do plan on going and staying overnight, there's a break on the price of a hotel room:

"Saturday Fright Special has partnered with Keene’s beautiful and stylish luxury hotel The E. F. Lane to provide an outstanding opportunity for those traveling to this event or for those who just want a night out in comfort.

"The E. F. Lane Hotel will be offering a special rate of $99.00 for people attending the SPOOKTACULAR. This rate includes room for two persons; parking in the E.F. Lane’s parking garage, a hot breakfast buffet and all of the usual amenities in this attractive and fashionable hotel in the heart of downtown Keene. For reservations, call toll free 1-888-300-5056 or 603-357-7070, fax your request to 603-357-7075, e-mail the E. F. Lane at info@eflane.com or visit www.eflane.com . The promotional code for this discount is "Spooktacular".

"The E.F. Lane Hotel is on 30 Main Street, practically right across the street from The Colonial Theatre. Now you can watch this screening of Universal’s BRAND NEW print of the 1962 classic KING KONG vs. GODZILLA content in your knowledge that you have a comfortable and elegant place to sleep after an evening of giant monster movie mayhem."

Tickets will be $10 and available either at the door or via the Colonial's website.

Our friends, the Monsters

A friend of mine (I'll call him "Bill") lost his mother very recently, and I sent him my wishes for "many lasting solaces, great and small." Knowing my friend, it's likely one of the solaces he'll turn will be his love of classic horror films.

Then, over at the Universal Monster Army site, I mentioned a science news item reporting that the brains of adolescents and young adults suppress interests from childhood because the brain is growing and creating new associations. I speculated that it might explain why so many people I know who enjoy monsters and horror films re-find their enthusiasm in their 30s after losing having some of their interest for many years.

UMA member Mike Cathcart left a post in response about re-connecting with his love of the icons of monsterdom. I found it moving, and after thinking of Bill I wanted to share it here. I'm sharing an excerpt of it here with Mike's permission.

My father lay dying, the last weeks of a long illness, back in the fall of '93.

I had been a caregiver, along with my mother, over many years... by this time, I knew he had maybe a week or two, tops, and part of me felt relieved (and therefore guilty), and part of me was just sad to be saying goodbye for real.

I was walking around the Topanga Plaza mall, looking at decorations for the approaching Hallowe'en, and something caught my eye in a Waldenbooks. This little skeleton-like character atop a spiraled hill over a pumpkin patch?

Of course I knew who Tim Burton was, but had NO idea this stop motion film was coming out (I had been preoccupied for a few years!)... the display of figures, flipbooks, jewelry, story books for The Nightmare Before Christmas absolutely stunned me!

Then, after spending who knows how long poring over this treat, I saw behind the display and down the aisle another display for Hallowe'en related merchandise, and behold! model kits, Universal Monsters coloring books, VHS copies of LuminatorsFrankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, and my beloved Night of the Living Dead...and suddenly I was hopping, giddy, you know? Giggling, being a total idiot!

Maybe it was just because I was so tired, physically, spiritually, emotionally... but this realization swept over me, in a voice that was a mix of my own and my dad's: Monsters! YES! They just keep doing it, don't they? They've always been, always will be your friends. LOOK at 'em, GOD, you've spent your young life loving these spooky things and they still manage in the midst of your sorrow to sneak up and surprise you with utter joy... forever!

They'll never leave. I could send it all away, and enjoy my life just as much trying to get all of it back, but it'll never go away. For me, that's why we come back. To the friends who never left us, even if we left them for a short while.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Still here!

Been quiet lately, BUT I AM STILL ALIVE AND KICKING. Or rolling, at any rate. Working against a deadline for a magazine! I've got some cool posts in rough draft waiting for you.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Technology runs amuck!

Now even potted plants can Twitter! Actually, it's the soil itself that Twitters, according to a current Reuters news story:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chances are you've never had a conversation with your house plants but if they could talk, what would they say? "Water me."

Researchers at New York University's interactive telecommunications program have come up with a device that allows plants to tell owners when they need water or if they've had too much via the social network blogging service Twitter.

"Obviously plants can't talk or Twitter directly, so we have to help them along with that," said Rob Faludi, co-creator of the device called Botanicalls.

The device is made of soil-moisture sensors that are connected to a circuit board. They measure the level of moisture, and then communicate the information to a microcontroller.

"There are settings in the software that allow you to set what kind of plant you're using and also adjust for characteristics of the soil, different soil has different qualities," said Faludi.

The device determines whether moisture levels are too low, or too high, and then transmits a wireless signal to Twitter, via the Internet, which lets people send short, 140-character text messages to their network of friends.

Botanicalls co-creator Kate Hartman said the language used in the Twitter messages can be personalized to suit the owner, or the type of plant.

"There's always a basic "I'm thirsty, could you please water me" message. But they also accelerate in terms of need, so there's an urgent message: "I'm desperately thirsty, please water me,"" Hartman told Reuters.


Due to word of mouth, Hartman's plant, 'Pothos,' has more than 2,300 subscribers on Twitter (http://twitter.com/pothos).

Every day followers receive messages updating them on the plant's soil moisture content, and whether it's being cared for.

"I feel a bit more guilty when I don't water Pothos, because everybody knows," laughed Hartman.

To date, Hartman and Faludi have sold nearly 100 of the Botanicalls kits for $99 each with the device needing to be assembled from basic parts which Faludi said can be challenging but worthwhile in the end.

"Actually receiving a message from a plant is just very engaging, and I think kind of unexpected. There's a magic to it that people really enjoy," said Faludi.

The new technology follows on from an earlier Botanicalls model released in 2007 that enabled plants to make a phone call to their owners when they needed water.

Each plant had a 'voice' to match the plant type, such as the Scottish moss, which had a Scottish accent.

But the earlier model required expensive hardware, and wasn't practical to sell which prompted the Twitter version.

"There's a lot of interest right now in smart objects - basically, devices that have the ability to communicate. This is a type of technology that is becoming much more prevalent as the cost of wireless communications goes down," said Faludi.

"The spirit of Botanicalls is not creating a robotic plant. The spirit of Botanicalls is really re-engaging people with nature and getting them to pay attention." (Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

26th Annual Ohio 24 Hour Sci-Fi Marathon coming this weekend

This year's 26th Annual Ohio 24-Hour Science Fiction Marathon is less than 3 days away!

Featuring 12 feature films including a record 5 Major Premieres (Well, Major Premieres for the Midwest, anyway!) Be the first to see the Midwest Premiere of ALIEN TRESPASS starring Robert Patrick; the Midwest Premiere of MUTANT CHRONICLES starring Ron Perlman, Thomas Jane and John Malkovich; the warped eye-blowing, head-exploding futuristic TOKYO GORE POLICE; the newest Sci-Fi thriller from Spain, TIMECRIMES. AND the Midwest Premiere of FAMOUS MONSTER: FORREST J ACKERMAN featuring Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen, Roger Corman, Joe Dante, Tim Sullivan, and John Landis, just to name a few in a tribute to Sci-Fi's ultimate fanboy!

Classic films will include ROBOCOP, ROLLERBALL, STAR TREK 2: THE WRATH OF KAHN, the rarely seen THE TIME TRAVELERS, THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD and the unbelievably bad CAT WOMEN OF THE MOON in 3D! As usually there will be over 75 classic Sci-Fi trailers, short-subjects including Marathon favorites such as GRAVITY, SPACE BOY and DUCK DODGERS IN THE 24 1/2 CENTURY. Hundreds of prizes will be given away during the many Marathon contests and the Annual Kostume Kahntest will feature a $100 Grand Prize.

The Marathon always has an interesting, fun mix of contemporary and classic films, along with some oddities and rare short films.

Be warned: the Marathon will likely have a lot of socially-clueless yahoos acting as if they were auditioning for MST3K through every film! (They certainly did last year; I was told this is a regular part of the event, sadly.)

Tickets are reportedly selling fast for this year's Marathon so order or pick-up your tickets today. Advance tickets are $33 and if any remain on Saturday, they'll be $36 at the door.

Tickets are ON SALE NOW online at: www.Drexel.net
Pay by phone by calling: (614) 231-1050,
Pay via Paypal to: scifimarathon@hotmail.com.

Locally, tickets can also be purchased at Laughing Ogre Comics, 4250 N. High St.; The Drexel Theatre, 2254 E. Main St. and the Radio Cafe, 2256 E. Main St. (during non-theatre hours).

The 26th Annual Ohio 24-Hour Science Fiction Marathon starts Saturday, March 28 at 12:00 noon and continues until 12 noon Sunday, March 29 at the Drexel Theatre, 2254 E. Main St.

For more information visit www.drexel.net or www.scifimarathon.com.

2008 Rondo Awards

Now that the shock has worn off, I have to tell you how amazed I am that I placed as high as as a close SECOND for best blog. GEEZ LOUISE! To get that far is quite a pat on the back--I mean head-- for TDSH. Who do I lose to? Only a guy who has a respected monthly film magazine in the U.S. and Canada, and a number of prestigious books to his credit. This is like losing to Einstein on Jeopardy!

It probably helped that I plastered in cities across America these posters on telephone poles, walls of abandoned buildings, bar restrooms, and any convenient spot I could find:

I think people who saw them felt a sense of hope, and said to themselves, "Can we really game the Rondo Awards with something as crappy as The Drunken Severed Head?" And they said to themselves, "YES WE CAN!" The results speak volumes. My friend Pierre Fournier of the Frankensteinia blogsite told me on the phone that it proved that Barnum was right!

In gratitude to my many friends out there voting for TDSH, there will some heapin' helpings of free cheesecake in the coming days! A real hubba-hubba hellabaloo!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Giving the awards the bird

Forget the Rondo Award honorees. (wink, wink) From the Associated Press today comes this news about a truly award-worthy character-- a parrot named Willie:

DENVER – A parrot that alerted his owner about a baby who was choking was recognized as a hero by the Red Cross. Willie the parrot was given the Animal Lifesaver Award during the "Breakfast of Champions" event attended by Gov. Bill Ritter and Mayor John Hickenlooper.

Willie received the award Friday for his actions in November, when he and owner Megan Howard were baby-sitting a toddler. Willie repeatedly yelled "Mama, baby" when Howard went to the bathroom and the toddler started to choke on her breakfast.

Howard saved the baby by performing the Heimlich maneuver but she said Willie "is the real hero."

Monday, March 23, 2009


The Drunken Severed Head moves up two notches from last year to wind up at 2nd place for the Rondo Award's "Best Horror Blog"! Losing only to the intelligent, widely read TIM LUCAS was an honor in itself!

Congratulations to Tim! And a million units of gratitude to all who voted for this blog! THANKS, and thanks, and EVER..thanks.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Random images and Rondo voting (two great tastes in one!)

Hello, insomniacs! Just wanted to post the news that Rondo ballots cast through TODAY- SUNDAY MAR. 22nd-- will be counted. From the CHFB; "We'll still accept stray ballots as we finalize the tally today."

So vote if you haven't! And just to keep from being a total noodge and self-serving nag, I'm sharing some random photos I find hiding on my hard drive. We'll start with a classic pic of a smokin' hot Janet Leigh:

Too bad SHE didn't face down Michael Myers! WOW!

Ah, a paperback from when I was a kid! Nice spooky image.

A wonderful Cyclops painting by St. Louis street artist Wayne St. Wayne! (Formerly a pro wrestler who used the name "Buddy Frankenstein"!)

A classic funny severed head gag for a record sleeve! (That's Spike Milligan of the English comedy troupe, The Goons.)

Late horror rocker Screamin' Lord Sutch as he appeared on a Belgian LP!

And last, art by a woman in St. Louis whose name I can't remember!

Now off to catch some sleep. (That is, if I can! I'll be on pins and needles until the Rondos are announced!)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Best of the worst! Part Two

Put off pasting your picks in the Rondo Award process? Ah, a fellow procrastinator of precocious proportions!

Here's the second half of my list of the best entries (first half here) at this here exercise in execrable excess, from 2008 and early 2009 (the eligible term for this year's awards):

The first DRIVE-IN SUPER MONSTERMANIA! (Oops! That's from 2007! Oh hell, I'm leavin' it in.)

Interview with a Robotics Engineer

The monster art of Dwayne Pinkney

A report on SCHLITZIE'S DAY by Verne Langdon

Jim Bertges' report on the Forry Ackerman Tribute

Expired clowns, Verne Langdon, and me (Part One and Part Two)

25th Annual Ohio Sci-Fi Marathon (Part One, Two and Three)

Luau of the Living Dead

Deep inside horror author Polly Frost!

A encounter with actor David Patrick Kelly

BODIES...The Exhibition (Part One and Part Two)


Unnerving art of Ron Mueck

Woodland and cemetary visits, Part One and Two

How Monsters and Golf made my Valentine's Day

The Voodoo Queen Speaks!

Monster Model Rock 'n' Roll!


More (though older) posts (feh, why not?):

Interview with filmmaker Ted Newsom

Bone appetit!

New monster comic!

If you love classic monster comics from the Golden and Silver Age of comics, you'll probably enjoy a new comic inspired by classic horror comics and old monster movies called Bane of the Werewolf. The first issue came out this month; orders can be taken here.

Created, written and illustrated by Rob E. Brown [REB] of Marvel Comics fame, it's a horror comic book that re-establishes the classic gypsy origins of the werewolf legend in mid-16th century France. (Think of the Hammer film Curse of the Werewolf.) The main character, Eliphas Moreau, finds himself at the mercy of a malevolent book, passed down through the ages and only entrusted to gypsy chieftains. Contracting lycanthropy (werewolfism for you non-highbrow types), he is "bombarded by the many horrors of the occult world...while he struggles to keep his humanity intact as he fights to save the people he loves," (or so saves the wordy press release, which goes on to say, "The comic is akin to the silver-age horror comics produced in the 1970s, with guidance taken from black and white, classic horror films of the 1930s-40s.")

The art and writing solid and I'm looking forward to more issues. Recommended.

Related links:

The Bane of the Werewolf website.

The Making of Bane of the Werewolf.

Friday, March 20, 2009


If you vote for The Drunken Severed Head at http://rondoaward.com/ for BEST HORROR BLOG, the black bar on the banner above, and on the photo below, might just fall off!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Make your own robot!

Here are some robot costumes you may want to make, if you've got enough time (and in this economy, you may, involuntarily):

Image source: www.teamdroid.com

Image source link

Here are the links to learn how to make them:

Cardboard Robot Halloween Costume of Doom (the making of)

Cardboard Robot Halloween Costume of Doom (photos)

Links to MORE custom Robot Costume creations! (with instructions!)

Underneath those hot costumes, you'll want to wear underpants made of this cloth:

Image source: Flickr set of London Mummy

Of course, inside that costume you'll get thirsty! So keep some rum handy, in case you run into THIS robot:

Image source: Flickr set of Sanchome

Hopefully, you'll never have your severed head grafted onto a REAL robot body, like me!

Image (click to enlarge) from the upcoming short film, The Drunken Severed Head Show.

Stale jokes

For St. Patrick's Day and the Lenten Season, I present two old chestnuts:

Who's Irish, and stays outside your house?
Paddy O'Furniture.


After her wedding, a naive girl from the country crawled into bed for the first time beside her new husband, a very religious young man. She snuggled up to him and reached over to caress him. He brushed her hand away, rolled over and began to fall asleep.

“So why aren’t we going to make love on our wedding night?”, she asked finally.

“Because it’s Lent,” came the reply.

That made the new bride cry. Between sobs, she yelled, "TO WHO, AND FOR HOW LONG?”

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I'm turning over this post to my friend Ted Newsom, producer/writer/director of the series 100 Years of Horror and films like The Naked Monster and the documentaries Flesh and Blood (a Hammer history) and Look Back in Angora (about Ed Wood.) I have an interview with him here at TDSH, and he did the reporting on forgotten horror star Lazlo Revik (look in the left column and scroll down.) He has an urgent message for all you who haven't voted in the Rondo Awards yet. Take it away, Ted:

Time's running out! There are so many neat things to vote for-- including writing-in your FAVORITE GADFLY FOR THE MONSTER KID HALL OF FAME!

"What's in it for me?" you ask! Just look below ! I promise-- that's a solemn vow, on the grave of Lionel Atwill-- that each and every one of you will get 21 GREAT-LOOKING BABES just for voting for me! (Sure, you can vote for some of that other stuff, but think of yourself first.)

This is no idle political canard. When I am elected, to represent all my pals, friends, enemies, ex-wives, schoolmates and topless nude models in the vaunted Rondo Monster Kid Hall of Fame, I absolutely guarantee YOU WILL RECEIVE YOUR BABES!

Remember those great ads in the back of the comics: 200 REVOLUTIONARY WAR SOLDIERS!, 200 ARMY MEN!, Live Sea Monkeys!, and YOUR VERY OWN TANK!?!? You can bet your bottom Amway soap that my offer is JUST AS GENUINE!!!


Thanks, Ted! Ted would be a great choice for the Rondo Hall of Fame!

HOWEVER...if you're a gay man, asexual, a monk, sober, or a severed head, and can't use Ted's offer, consider voting for Joe Moe. Without him, Forry Ackerman couldn't, in his last years, have seen visitors or remain as active in fandom as he did. Joe also organized the great memorial tribute to the Famous Monsters editor that much of Hollywood's horror and sci-fi elite attended and applauded last week.

You could even write in both guys, and see how Rondo handles a tie!

BUT Joe won't give you a harem.

Causing a Forrest fire!

Joe Moe, Forry Ackerman's friend, aide, and in his last years, care-taker, has posted his own article (with video) on the recent FJA tribute! I recommend it enthusiastically. Now at Dread Central--

Joe Moe: Horrorwood Babbles on! Death Makes a Horror-day: The Forrest J. Ackerman Tribute

Ever seen a severed head eat crow?


I feel dirty. Oh, I hang my severed head in shame...

Tagged and released

Dr. Kim Paffenroth (a mad doctor if ever there was one) tagged me a while back with one of those chain letter-style "Random Things About Yourself" tags, and having not played "tag" in decades, AND being a narcissist who likes to babble about himself, I thought I'd go along. (Ol' Paffy is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of such books as Dying to Live and Gospel of the Living Dead.)

So -- Six Random Things About Myself:
  1. I once shot a man in his sleep just for snoring.
  2. Killed me a bar when I was only three.
  3. Am looking for a one-armed man who killed my wife.
  4. Was once stranded on uncharted desert isle, after a three hour tour.
  5. As a kid, I spent too much time watching television, and warped my brain.
  6. Once tried to think up six random things about myself, but couldn't come up with six.
  7. Once dreamed I was eating a giant marshmallow, and when I woke up, my pillow was gone!
Now, part of the ritual is posting THE RULES for this game of tag.






5) LET EACH PERSON KNOW THEY ARE TAGGED AND LEAVE A COMMENT ON THEIR BLOG. [Weelll, I ain't gonna do 4 and 5. I like to think outside the box.]


But I WILL recommend these six blogs not found (yet) in my LOTT D links or my regular links:

Arbogast on Film
(Amazing in-depth reviews of horror films)

Zaius Nation
(POTA character-driven blog with an eclectic focus)

Bat Blog (All things Batmaniacal)

Saturday Fright Special's Fangtastic Features (A genre film review blog)

The Dead Don't Die
(A zombie blog with brains!)

(Assorted fun and weirdness.)

Of course, I'll also recommend you read this:

Interview with Kim Paffenroth at The Living Dead.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A GREAT Offer!!

Do you have a blog or website? You do? Great! Consider endorsing my blog for the 2008 Rondo Award! It PAYS to do so. (But hurry -- you only have four days to endorse me!) Because, for some lucky smart bloggers, sufficiently sincere endorsements will mean PRIZES! (OR, you can send an affadavit that you voted for TDSH to qualify.) YOU could* receive valuable items such as these:

Your choice of these new homes! ("New" in the astrophysical sense)

A stereo sound system nearly as good as this one here:

An array (okay, only one) of handy kitchen appliances like this:

AND this combination tool bench and Port-a-John:


You'll also get a free pet from Chernobyl, like this cuddly cutie:

Or this one, from Florida:

And for your child --a rare AMERICAN GIRL doll made for expatriates living in Transylvania:

PLUS, (and also ABSOLUTELY FREE for a good plug!) in keeping with the "green consciousness" that is so much a part of today's world, an alternative energy lighting system for your new home:

Yes, endorse THIS BLOG and all you see above can be yours! (And why not? They're only digital images! That's what you see!)

Or just vote for TDSH for BEST HORROR BLOG here and receive the best gift of all -- a clear conscience.

Voting ends March 21.

*Or not.

Octomom joke

This joke is going around the internet--

DENNY'S is offering a breakfast special in honor the "octomom," Nadya Suleman. It's eight eggs, no sausage, and the guy in the next booth has to pay for it.

The joke amused me, but the above image amused me even more! So Lovecraftian! So humorously strange! Laughingly surreal!

I saved the image after I saw it on someone else's blog (or website), but now can't remember where I stole it from, to give credit to its creator. (If it's yours, I'm sorry! Write to me!)


A new photo and a new video link have been added to the post A Report on "Schlitzie's Day".

A gorgeous oil painting of Herman Munster has been added to the post Artist Dwayne Pinkney.

More photos added to Zombie Fest 2008.

An arch anecdote has been added to the post Robert Quarry.

A link to a Portuguese blog entry about my entry Why I don't Tweet was added to the post.

Check 'em all out.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tribute to Forry Ackerman: A Report

A week ago, at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles, hundreds of people from around the country came to pay tribute to Forry Ackerman, "Mr. Sci-Fi" (a/k/a "Uncle Forry" to generations of fans of Famous Monsters magazine.) It was, by all accounts, an often very sad occasion -- his death being an event that just seemed impossible. So I illustrate this intro with a sad photo of Forry that came from his last days. It moved me when I saw it -- to see the ever-smiling Forry looking sad made me feel awful, since he'd made me and many others happy.
(Photo courtesy Lawrence Neopodahl.)

My friend Jim Bertges was at the tribute, and he sent me this touching report. Thanks, Jim!
Links to images and audio follow.
Remembering Forry

by Jim Bertges

It was an afternoon to remember. In the middle of Hollywood, in the theatre that was built as a companion movie palace to the famous Chinese Theatre just down the street, a crowd of friends and family, many of whom had never met, gathered together to remember Forrest J. Ackerman. The theatre was more than filled to capacity -- the last few stragglers who arrived late were allowed to enter and stand at the back of the balcony or along the sides of the main auditorium so they could share in the reminiscences. The audience was asked, “What was your first issue of Famous Monsters?” For most of the people in the audience, seeing the magazine for the first time was a life-changing moment.

The answers unleashed a flood of memories for those who had grown up with Uncle Forry guiding them into worlds of fantasy, Science Fiction, horror and monsters. Nearly everyone in that theatre remembered with crystal clarity when and where they were initiated into a fantastic world of gods and monsters by a man whose influence on popular culture they could barely guess. There were thoughts of walking into a local supermarket or a drug store and discovering a Basil Gogos-painted Vincent Price or King Kong, staring out from the magazine rack. Memories of the smell of the pages; of the photos, the filmbooks, and the strange and wonderful items advertised by the Captain Company. And the puns…oh yes, those wonderful, awful puns.

First to speak was Ray Bradbury; his presence brought the crowd to its feet even though he was confined to a wheelchair, and looked as though time had taken a toll on him. However, when he spoke in a strong and steady voice the audience could tell that time has no hold on this man whose timeless tales have enthralled generations. Mr. Bradbury spoke of his friend Forry, and the kindness and support Forry had given him in his early years as a struggling writer. He showed the audience the debt we all owed to Forry Ackerman for helping a young struggling Ray Bradbury make his first professional sale as a writer and begin his brilliant career.

There were stories of others Forry had represented and guided in the world of science fiction. Stories of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society, which Forry had helped found. Most important of all, Mr. Bradbury explained that he and his friends Forrest Ackerman and Ray Harryhausen had been able to grow up as men, but still retain the ability to experience wonder as children.

Others were introduced and told tales, some of which we had read or heard before, but all were heartfelt and meaningful. John Landis read a letter from Ray Harryhausen who described his first encounter with Forry which lead to a life long friendship. Landis read a brief note from Stephen King which said simply, “Tell them all that I love that guy!” Landis related his own tales of Forry and his generosity and kindness toward him and his family. Bill Warren, author of the book Keep Watching The Skies, movingly told of his long relationship with Forry until his emotions wouldn’t allow him to continue. Brad Lineaweaver, former editor of Cult Movies magazine, spoke of projects he and Forry had worked on together. Director Joe Dante related how he had an article published in Famous Monsters as a teenager and the incredible thrill he felt upon receiving a large package from Forry filled with encouragement and praise for his piece. Rick Baker spoke of the inspiration he found in the pages of Famous Monsters, learning about the men behind the monsters and how Forry helped shape him from ordinary kid to “Rick Baker, Monster Maker.” Guillermo Del Toro flew in from New Zealand especially to attend and share his memories of Forry. As a young boy in Mexico he said he had written a letter to Forry asking to be adopted. Unfortunately for him the letter was intercepted by his father and never reached Karloffornia. But when Guillermo did make it to Los Angeles he dialed M-O-O-N-F-A-N on the telephone and started his relationship with Forry. Del Toro said that whenever he was in Los Angeles he had to visit Forry, it was a pilgrimage for him and it usually meant a visit to the House of Pies. The editor and staff of Rue Morgue Magazine came from Canada to remember Forry’s legacy and vowed to continue it, in their own modern way, of course. When the tributes were over, Joe Moe, Forry’s most recent care giver and helper led the crowd in a rendition of one of Forry’s Al Jolson favorites, but with a slight twist. The song became “Forry Boy” and with the assistance of Forry’s good friend and the executor of his estate Kevin Burns (who does a perfect impression of Forry’s voice) there was joyful singing and laughter. Finally, there was a farewell from Forry himself, appearing on the video screen Forry bid all his friends, nieces and nephews a final good bye.

The audience emptied the theatre, but an hour later refilled it for the American premiere of the documentary Famous Monster: Forrest J. Ackerman which was made for Canadian Television and did a wonderful job of chronicling Forry’s life. It seemed all too brief, but it did cover much of what made Forrest Ackerman the influence he was on popular American and international culture. Through the commentary of his friends and acquaintances and from Forry himself, the generosity and humanity and great joy for life itself of the man unfolded, letting us know just a little better the man we grew up with.

In the end all us Monster Kids, the sons and daughters, nieces and nephews and assorted cousins of Forrest J. Ackerman have come to realize that it wasn’t just the magazine, Famous Monsters or the fabulous collection of memorabilia which he so generously shared or his writing or editing prowess that endeared this man to all of us. It was the man himself, his generosity of spirit, his love of life, his embracing of all things strange and unusual that guided us and helped shape us into the people we are today. As it was said repeatedly that afternoon, there will never be anyone like Forrest J. Ackerman, no one could possibly take his place. His presence among us will be missed sorely, but his true presence and influence will always be with us. Forry can not be forgotten he is too much a part of us; we are his legacy.

A 40 image gallery of pictures taken at the event can be found HERE.

You can hear a portion of the tribute (including tributes by John Landis, Guillermo Del Toro, Rick Baker and Ray Bradbury) at this link, the March 14th entry of the website of the Los Angeles Public Radio Station KPCC. The Ackeman tribute portion comes just a little past the six minute mark.

A warm, personal tribute to FJA by Commercial Appeal film critic John Beifuss can be found here.

"There will never be another time, another era, in which someone like FJA will grow and flourish and touch people as he did with his work and attitude." --writer/filmmaker Ted Newsom

We still miss him.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I get endorphins when I'm endorsed!

So I'm on the phone last night wit' me pal Brian Horrorwitz, front man for The Ubangis, and proprietor of the wonderful psychotronic store TRASH PALACE, and he tells he's gonna vote for my blog for the Rondo Award. So I tell him I'll give 'im a buck and a PBJ sammich if he endorses me. He says "Sure!" like he's happy to do so. TODAY I get a banner from 'im to post here showing his endorsement:

So he's holding me up for two more bucks, and to hell with the sammich!

Well, okay Brian. I'll pay. Just make sure you endorse me at your blog before the voting deadline of Mar. 21!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Vampire news on Friday the 13th!

I was lucky on Friday the 13th! First thing today, after I got up, I read about a "vampire's grave" as the top news item!

Seems that in Europe centuries ago, plague victims would be buried in mass graves; when more victims died, the graves would be reopened for more burials. Sometimes people at the burials would see that the more recent dead had become discolored corpses with distended bellies, and with blood oozing from their mouths. The witnesses believed these bodies had become vampires. They would shove a brick into the corpse's mouth to prevent "the vampire" from feeding. (Like that makes sense--the vampire can dig his way outta the ground, but can't remove a brick from its mouth?)

In what may be the first known "vampire grave" opened up in modern times, a skeleton with a brick in its mouth has been found. Read about here and here.

The grave's discoverer, Dr. Matteo Borrini of the University of Florence (looks like the Italian Indiana Jones!):

Image source: AOL News.

A De-Lux read!

YOU like the band The Cramps -- of course you do. So you, like me, were supremely bummed to hear of the recent too-soon death of singer/songwriter Lux Interior.

Well, you oughta go over to the Taking IN the Trash blog to read a very good appreciation (illustrated with art and video) of Lux and The Cramps, written by my friend Brian Horrorwitz, a friend of Lux and his wife Ivy.

BTW, I had no idea what Lux looked like for many years; as I listened to his music I imagined him looking just like the Stephen Blickenstaff drawing on one the Cramps' albums, Bad Music for Bad People:

Image source
: Stephen Blickenstaff's Art Gallery

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I overlooked "The Wonder Awards"!

The excellent online version of Cinefantastique ("the Website with a Sense of Wonder") last month announced the winners of their first "Wonder Awards" for achievement in science fiction, fantasy, and horror films in 2008, and I missed it! If you did too, go HERE and see the list of winners. I think this may become an award to watched -- it has gotten off to an impressive start. It may be a tad too inclusive (Quantum of Solace and Speed Racer are kinda iffy nominees, IMO), but that is a very minor quibble. Some amazing bloggers (including some fellow LOTT D members) are part of the selection process.

Interestingly, they have created a special "Ulmer Award" for overlooked low budget films that can't get the distribution that would gain national attention. A fantastic ("fantastique"?) idea, with an inspired name.

Related links:

Edgar G. Ulmer

Edgar G. Ulmer
(an appreciation at Senses of Cinema)

Why I don't Tweet

I'm a dinosaur. I don't tweet or Twitter. (Well, that is if you don't count this time when a small canary got stuck in my throat.)

Here's why -- I listened to Brian Unger's Exploring The Darker Side Of Tweets and Twitter. Click on the Unger Report link below, then click on "Listen Now."

The Unger Report

Original image source
: Tweety died!

Fun related link: Tired, plucked Tweety

UPDATE Mar. 13: A Portuguese blog with the English language title Bladerunner was inspiredto blog about the Unger report and this post, but I can't read a word of it! If you can read Portuguese, let me know what it says!

Present and past loves

My voodoo queen wife took off for Florida yesterday to visit family, and already I miss her. (I gotta jones for Jane.)

She's exponentially better as a "better half" than most of my past loves would have been. Just thinking of some of the gals I've been attached to gives me the shudders!

Stay away from my past girlfriends:
  • Lucy Firr
  • Mae Snapp
  • Helen Weelz
  • Carrie Ann O'Grudge
  • Jen Derbinder
  • Mandy Stroyer
  • Fran Tik
  • Wanda Lust
  • Sue Asidal
  • Sharon DeZeeze
  • Celia Phate
  • Amanda Subdoo
And Amy Winehouse.

Porn that isn't pornographic?

Thanks to the site Found on the Web, I've just seen a hilarious ad from the Italian fashion firm Diesel. It's a video montage that takes porn clips and seemingly makes them "safe for work" by overlaying (pun intended) cartoon animation on top of the naughty bits. What's implied is definitely NSFW, but IS very funny. For immature mature audiences.

(It's an old post at FOTW, but hey -- as a severed head I can't get around fast.)

See "Safe for Work XXX" here.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Q & A with a Robotics Engineer

Recently, I was lucky enough to meet and talk with a prize-winning robotics engineer, an attractive young woman named Laura Wong. We chatted about her work, and she was gracious enough to answer some questions by e-mail afterward. I'm sharing them here.


Hi. I enjoyed meeting you. About my questions--understand that I know little about the field that you work in.

My first question is, what is your job title and what are your duties?

My title is Jr. Mechanical Design Engineer and my main duties are designing prototypes for the robots at my company. I start out with an idea and I take that idea and create a 3-D model in Solid Works. I then get in contact with manufacturers who will be able to create my CAD [computer-aided design] model into a physical part.

What is Solid Works?

SolidWorks allows you to take a 2D drawing (basically what you see on a piece of paper... a comic strip would be a good example) and turn it into a 3D shape (basically what you see in today's cartoons on tv). Solidworks also allows you to test certain features on your products to see whether or not they will fail (but hopefully succeed).

What got you interested in this field?

I have always been interested in the field of engineering since I was born. Both of my parents are engineers and my father always had different products and technology all over the house.

Can you name one or two that fascinated you?

The latest product my dad had in the house was a mini R2D2 that you were able to control through the computer manually. I would drive it around to find my family cat and have it stop in front of her and state "here kitty kitty kitty". It amused me to say the least haha.

The main one I remember when I was younger was an old school laser disk player that I was able to take apart and see all the components of how the player was put together.

When I was 8 my sister had a basic toy robot and I was really interested in how it worked. (I can't remember what kind it was, but it was a dome-shaped robot with "whisker" touch sensors on it.) So I decided to take it apart, but I got caught red handed by my dad and he said if I did not put it back together in working condition before my sister finds out I would have to pay for a new one with my allowance. So I sat there and figured out how to get all the parts back together and it worked for the most part! So that is how I got into robotics.

Can you describe the purpose and functions of a robot that you've designed that your most proud of?

The robot that I have designed that I'm most proud of was actually three of the same robot-- I created a "swarm". Swarm robotics is relatively a new field of robotics which allows multiple robots to cooperate and communicate within a group. I was able to take away certain features (i.e. the camera) on one robot and it was able to talk to the surrounding ones to let them know it could not see. The robots with camera capabilities would then get in front of the "blind" robot and lead it back to safety.

Have any robots you've seen in your career go "haywire" or created unintended consequences? If so, how?

Every one of my robots would go haywire in one way or another. The main one I remember is that I programmed a robot to go through a maze and find a pink box. I let it loose and it started to spin in circles and then drove straight into a wall, making all the touch sensors fall off of it. It was funny after I was able to fix the sensors back on to the robot but at the time it was very frustrating!

Who is your favorite robot in pop culture/science fiction?

One of my favorite is Wall-E (of course) but my favorite of all time is probably would of course be R2D2 and C3PO... I love Star Wars!

People read about robotic technology being used in factories, entertainment, medicine, and the military. Are there other areas in life where robotic technology is used and people are unaware of it?

Those seem to be the main areas in life where robotics are being used! I can't think of any other areas. Those are the main broad areas that robotic technology is being used for.

How might robots improve our military?

I KNOW that robotics will improve the military because it will save numerous lives out in the field. Robots will be able to be sent into dangerous situations where if they get destroyed its ok to lose a million dollars but not a loved one. Robotics and technology in the military will also give those who use it a heads up. You will be able to explore new places and areas where either a soldier cannot fit into it or it is deemed unsafe.

Do you think genuine self-consciousness will ever be possible in A. I.? If so, how far away from it are we?

I do not think A.I. will ever get to be as consistent with a human being's behavior as seen in movies and such. Everything that is done to a robot is done by a human being. I do not believe that technology will get to be as precise as a human brain since we have so many sensory "devices" (i.e. smell, touch, taste, hearing...etc.) that it would be near impossible to implement all of those devices and have them work in unison into a robot.

In Japan, there are signs that robot pets and humanoid robots can not only entertain, but may make useful companions for human beings who live alone. Is this a good thing for our species? Could it lessen our need for human companionship?

I feel that humanoid and robot pets will not decrease the need for human companionship. These devices are geared towards the elderly and those who are in hospitals who can not take care of an animals basic needs (feeding, walking, cleaning etc). This is great for those in that situation. In some studies it actually showed some kids who had a robotic pet or robotic toy that responds to their touch and voice, it gave them more confidence to be able to go out and interact with other children. The toy does not give off any negative feedback to put down the child in any way shape or form. Now in the toy respect, many kids imaginations probably get taken away from them at an early age because the toy is moving and talking by itself. I know when I was young playing with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures I would move the arms and legs and make voices and recreate fight scenes from the cartoon series! Although the lack of imagination could be taken away from them, the introduction to technology and robotics at a young age could spark interest in the field of engineering. (Which is awesome). This question can really waver either way and I could go on forever about this (and all of these questions)!

One last, OPTIONAL thing: I sent an e-mail to a very good friend, Pierre Fournier, a writer and intellectual, about meeting you. I asked him what questions he might suggest for someone in your field. He's a thoughtful person, but he either thought I was kidding, or wanted to have some fun with me, and he sent some hilarious joke questions. I'm sure he didn't think I'd ask 'em. Well, I'm gonna show him! Here's his questions, and if you want to answer one (as a gag), I'll run his question--and your answer! (I'm sure experts in your field have to show a sense of humor in dealing with the public, anyway!)

PF: When can we expect cool robots like Gort with laser beams coming out of their eyes?

I feel that if you have enough money and enough patience you can make robots with laser beams coming out of their eyes. Do I feel like this is necessary or applicable in any shape or form? No. Money and technology is what robotics revolve about. I feel that maybe once we make robots that can save lives in the military and medical fields maybe some mad scientist will make a laser beam robot!

PF: Do you think that a Disney Animatronic character will ever be elected as President of the United States?

Some past presidents have been tied to strings and told their every move and every word to say, so I do not see any difference between that and a robot! But I do not believe an animatronic robot would be able to rule our nation. The person behind the development of the programming in the robot would be the real president of the united states. But the one good thing about a robot being the president is if it gets assassinated a new one could be created without any harm!

PF: Is the Roomba a robot, or is it just a fancy vacuum cleaner?

Ooooh, the Roomba. I actually met the creator of the Roomba and the engineers at I Robot. I Robot does fascinating robotics but I feel that the Roomba is a hybrid of a robot and a fancy vacuum cleaner. It does have the smarts to stay away from ledges and stairs, but it basically uses the right hand rule algorithm to plot out its path. But that path is limited due to the environment and space it is released into. My friend owns a Roomba and the main thing he says is that even though it says you can set it and walk away, you still have to pay attention to it because it is known to get stuck in spaces. Even though I am a robotic nerd I still prefer the old fashion way of vacuuming and doing it myself. It's quicker and it saves a lot more money!

Thanks so very much for answering questions for my blog, The Drunken Severed Head.

These are some of the competitions Ms. Wong has won:
  • Intel Computer Science Award
  • AirTrax Reinventing the Wheel
  • Army Award
  • Air Force Award
  • Kodak Award
  • First Place Computer Science Award
  • Princeton Plasma Physics Lab Award
  • Yale Science and Engineering Award for Outstanding Junior
Related link: News item from her high school days about Ms. Wong and her prize-winning robots.

Related link: I Robot, Your Companion (article on planning the "Cognitive Robot Companion.")

Related link: Bennett Robots Works ("robots" by artist Gordon Bennett, made from found objects)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Return of Rozum!

The immensely talented collage artist (and writer) John Rozum has announced that his blog is coming out of hibernation next week! (He must have burned off all his winter fat by now.)

Hoorah, Rozum!

John is a friend, and I talked to him by phone yesterday about his return to the active ranks of creepy chatterers. As his blog is not on the Rondo list of nominees, I naturally tried to find his price for endorsing ME. He admitted he could use the money, but feared offending nominated (now former) blogger Tim Lucas, whose multi-award-winning book MARIO BAVA: All The Colors Of The Dark could be wielded as a formidable weapon, as it weighs twelve pounds.

Guess I can't blame John for valuing his safety. The coward.

So enough about Rozum. I hope his blog is plagued by locusts. (But not before YOU go there and see his fantastic collages.)

About Tim Lucas' book: It's an EXCELLENT tome for all film fans. You can buy one by clicking here or here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Vampire energy!

So I'm doing stuff to insulate Casa Cabeza, and trying to lower my energy costs, when I came across a couple of videos about "vampire energy." (This is the energy wasted by the standby modes of appliances like dvd players, microwave ovens, and computers; the energy used when things are off but plugged in.)

I found two videos on the subject, and thought I'd share 'em. The first is shot like a short horror film, with a clever variation of the bite mark made by a vampire. The second one, though less fun, is more informative about "vampire energy."

Vampire Power

GOOD Magazine: Vampire Energy

You can use less energy when writing out your Rondo ballot by typing "TDSH" when you come to the category "Best Horror Blog." TDSH has fewer letters by far than the names of all the other nominated blogs, and the ballot counter will know what you mean!

I could take time to scientifically demonstrate why I'm the best blog to vote for, but that would waste extra energy. So just vote for TDSH because it's "green conscious," okay?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Best of the worst! Part One

If you are saying to yourself, "I, [your name here], oughtta look over THE DRUNKEN SEVERED HEAD before casting a vote in the 'Best Horror Blog' category over at the Rondo Awards," then you should

A. Seek help for talking to yourself, AND
B. Look over the list below.

Or maybe you landed at this horrible (but oh-so-adorable) waste of electricity by accident, and want to know what's worthwhile here. WELLLL, the least bad is all here in a handy list!

Here's a list of the best entries at this here whatever-the-hell-this-is posted in 2008 and early 2009 (the eligible term for this year's awards):

My Campaign for President (see the sidebar to the right to click on links to posts from my quazy quixotic quest to land in the Oval Office!)

My nostalgic tribute to Boris Karloff

My snowy cemetery pictorial

A look at the monsters of a Bavarian Christmas

My look at mad doctor Gunther Von Hagens

Forry Ackerman: Tributes and remembrances (posts found here, here, here and here)

Coverage of Zombie Fest 2008

A Halloween in Kosovo

All my posts in October!

Monday, March 2, 2009

2008 Cyber Horror Awards: The inaugural round

The Cyber Horror Award, a new honor bestowed on contemporary horror films, has debuted. The awards were given by a group of 19 horror bloggers (including yours truly.)

They were organized by Brian Solomon of the blog Vault of Horror, who is a fellow member of the horror blogger's guild, The League of Tana Tea Drinkers. Brian invited horror writers and reviewers across the blogosphere to participate in selecting the honorees, and many did so (Brian goes so far as to call us "some of the best horror movie bloggers/writers on the web today."

Wow. Seems I hang out with some pretty cool company! How I managed to swing that, I don't know. I think they keep me around as a mascot -- 'cause, when you think about it, having a drunken severed head for a mascot is pretty cool.

Go take a look at the "first-ever horror film awards decided by the online horror-blogging/writing community", and leave a comment, good, bad or incredulous! Did we pick 'em right or pick our collective noses? Let us know!

Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein

Being enthralled as I am by Mary Shelley's enduring story and characters, the "all things Frankenstein" site Frankensteinia is one blog I follow with regularity. It's been recognized as a valuable resource for on-line research, and has an reputation for both intelligent scholarship and an informal enthusiasm for its subject. The blog covers the subject of Frankenstein appearing in any form, and examines it appearances in places around the globe.

Naturally, I was very happy to see that a locally produced musical called Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein was noticed by Frankensteinia at the end of 2008. And even happier when Frankensteinia recently ran my review of the show, along with an interview I conducted of the three lead actors (although in a somewhat shortened form) as a guest post.

Below is the review with the interview in its entirety, along with photos not seen at Frankensteinia.

Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein
is an enjoyable new dramatic work by Shirley M. Barasch that intertwines the real lives of Mary and Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and the rest of the party that gathered in Villa Diodati in 1816 (where Mary began Frankenstein) with the characters of Mary Shelley's book. As a first-time novelist, Mary wove many autobiographical details and personal concerns into her enduring story; the musical explores these parallels. The new work imaginatively fuses together the loneliness, personal tragedies and genius of the real people in Mary Shelley's circle with the characters of her novel.

The musical, produced by The Tuesday Musical Club, was thrilling and satisfying. The energetic young actors actors well-suited to their roles, and all having good-to-excellent singing voices. The sets were first rate and impressive, finding ways to arrange and light large sections so as to make interiors from exteriors (such as a mansion from a ship) and suggest settings as diverse as a mountain, a court, and the workshop where Victor Frankenstein toils in secret to create life. The costumes were generally outstanding (so many were required that a few pieces were, unsurprisingly, only adequate), and the makeups were impressive (especially the Creature's.)

I was fortunate enough to meet some of the actors and interview them by e-mail. (But a planned interview with author and composer Shirley Barasch never came to be, due to illness striking Ms. Barasch; at the time of this writing she is still recuperating. She has my best wishes.)

Playing Mary Shelley was the actress and soprano Brittany Graham; Justin Zeno played both Percy Shelley and Victor Frankenstein, and the Creature was played by actor J.D. Tully in makeup by Chris Patrick of The Savini School.

I was lucky to talk to these young interpreters of Mary Shelley's creations.

(Right: Actress Brittany Graham.)

What surprises came to you in playing your characters, or in learning about Mary and Percy Shelley?

Brittany Graham: I was surprised to learn how young Mary was when she began writing "Frankenstein". I knew that she was a young women but I had no idea that she was barely 20 years old.

J.D. Tully: I think the biggest surprise came at how inhuman everyone was. Percy was never there for her, Claire leached off her, her father chastised her, Byron and the men just used her husband, and all the while she feels like she is so strange for being moral. It was that fact that really helped me see that the creature is not a monster, but a creature in a world where everyone around him had a darkened skewed perception at what people should be.

Justin Zeno: Upon reading the biographical information I was struck by quite a few items:

1) The "free love" of the time which seems to be rampant throughout both the Shelley's lives and their peers. I was shocked that it is so well know about the "threesomes" and "moresomes" of the time. I'm also struck with how supportive Mary was of Percy's "sexual escapades." I recall reading a section that discussed Percy's "pimping" of Mary out to one of his friends. She seems to have loved him so much, she literally did whatever it took to keep his love.

2) With the emergence of feminism in Wollstonecraft, I was amazed to hear that she had tried to commit suicide multiple times for the affection of men who didn't return the sentiment. She too had become part of a "threesome" with an artist in order to be with him. And discovering that Mary's half sister Fanny had written a suicide note stating that she was in love with Percy. And Harriet's suicide over Percy. What did this guy have? He reportedly had a high pitched shrill voice and if you look at pictures he could easily be mistaken for a woman. Growing up with 5 sisters, I think he must have understood women on a greater level. I think they were drawn to his sense of romanticism.

3) I feel like the Percy portrayed in the show was definitely one that was romanticized by both Mary Shelley and Dr. B. I don't think I'd particularly like the actual Percy Shelley, however, Mary definitely provided this "angelic" version of Percy we have today when his father died and she was allowed to re-publish his poetry with her forwards about each piece. Obviously, an actual depiction of Percy wouldn't be very romantic or empathetic for an audience, so in this vein, I fell that Dr. B also had to romanticize our beloved poet.

Were there any funny or unusual moments during rehearsals?

Brittany Graham: The funniest moment was when Shirley realized why everyone was chuckling when I would say the line "Ecstasy, where is the ecstasy?" or when Justin would say "I've tasted ecstasy!" It never occurred to Shirley that ecstasy is the name of a drug. It wasn't until Shirley asked why every one was laughing at that word then some one explained to her why that she realized. She laughed and laughed! We all got such a kick out of that.

J.D. Tully: Were there any? Oh god, I think several. I have to say my favorite is when we first sang through the finale, and we realized how many times we said ecstasy in the show. The funny thing is that Shirley didn't realize it meant a drug... no, she only meant it to mean sex. So every mistake we made or crazy moment, we would blame on too much ecstasy.

Justin Zeno: The ecstasy thing is by far the funniest. A couple weeks ago I saw this comedy show called "Summer Heights High" on HBO where the music teacher decided to write a song about a student who has OD'd on ecstasy. I laughed so hard I cried.

What were the characteristics of the character you played that you most wanted to bring out in your performance? Any emotions or experiences of your character that particularly "clicked" for you?

Brittany Graham: I wanted to bring out Mary's insecurities, not just in herself as a woman during this time period but also in her relationships with Percy, Claire, and her father. Shirley wrote these wonderful lines that would jab at certain characters whom had a rocky relationship with Mary (i.e. like Mary's line to Percy [about Byron], "Why are you so angry? Was your trip unsatisfactory with his 'Lordship'?"). These kinds of jabs made it easy for me to create an almost schizophrenic attitude towards the people close to Mary. One minute the show would be so joyous and confident, the next she would be accusative and bitter.

Fortunately, I have a very strong support system with my family and friends so I could not relate to Mary's relational insecurities; however, seeing as we are about the same age, I was able to be myself amidst all of her unfortunate circumstances. I could relate to her occasional "feistiness" as I, myself, can occasionally be a "feisty" one.

J.D. Tully: I really wanted to bring out the compassion and loving nature of the creature, and also the loneliness. What people forget is that the creature has a human brain, and can feel and express human emotions, so i tried to show that he is very much human and longs for the same relationships that other humans have. Having these emotions in the show was not so much a matter of creating them, but rather taking the monster side of the creature really far and then putting him through situations to find the vulnerable human side. I think the one that really clicked the most is that misunderstood loneliness. So many times we just jump to conclusions about other people and forget that they are a person too.

Justin Zeno: 1) In my research, I noted that Percy's obsession with the macabre was extremely strong, and so I really wanted to build on this idea from the first telling of the ghost stories to the point where he starts to see his doppleganger. On that note, Jane Williams reportedly also saw Percy's double on the terrace and Percy himself at the same time. Years later, it was discovered that he indeed had a look alike. So who knows...

2) The sense of romanticism and impetuous love was so great with Percy. He fell in love with people at the drop of the hat. Something I've probably done myself way too many times. I really feel like he was sincere in the moment with people, but he did Mary in particular a great disservice because of it.

3) I feel like the Percy portrayed in the show was definitely one that was romanticized by both Mary Shelley and Dr. B. I don't think I'd particularly like the actual Percy Shelley, however, Mary definitely provided this "angelic" version of Percy we have today when his father died and she was allowed to re-publish his poetry with her forwards about each piece. Obviously, an actual depiction of Percy wouldn't be very romantic or empathetic for an audience, so in this vein, I fell that Dr. B also had to romanticize our beloved poet.

What clicked for me? Something that happened very late in the rehearsal process for me, and I give total credit to our choreographer Keesha LaLama-White for this. The last scene between Percy and Mary. That feeling when someone you love is really angry at you - and all you want is for them to call you back and say it's ok before you say goodbye. That pull. It was an incredibly strong feeling to tap into once Keesha suggested it. And that was only in TECH week of the show. Also, the empathy and pain for Mary with her multiple miscarriages. The great emotional pain it caused for her. Victor to me is MUCH less empathetic - he is proud and wants to know what it feels like to become a "creator." It's the whole garden of Eden all over again. I'd like to meet Adam so I could punch him in the face - so therefore, I have little empathy for Victor. LOL. Although, the moment of realization of what he had done was a great one to play on stage.

J. D., did the costume and makeup affect your acting choices, and if so, how? Did you enjoy the playing the part?

J. D. Tully: OOOOO YEAH!!! The rehearsal practice was spent in bare feet (originally we had the Creature in no shoes since he would have been too big for any pair back then), jeans, and t-shirts. The thing was that we weren't really sure of the dimensions and look of the mask so we had no idea what to rehearse in. It was difficult to work with originally, but then we just took the original blocking and motions and enlarged them to creature size. It was all very difficult, and EXTREMELY draining, but such a joy and enriching experience. If I could do it all again I would in a bolt of lightning.

What was your earliest exposure to the characters of "Frankenstein," and what was your impressions or reactions?

(Above right: Actress Meagan Reagle as Claire Clairmont and J. D. Tully as the Creature.)

Brittany Graham: My earliest exposure to the characters in "Frankenstein" was when I saw the 1931 movie version, directed by James Whale. I was very young and easily frightened, so this movie served it's purpose as a horror film. I was indeed very frightened of the creature, who I continued to think was named Frankenstein.

Being so young, I did not understand what Victor Frankenstein had done. I couldn't comprehend the ramifications of taking the ability to create life into your own hands. At the age of 10, I'm sure I didn't give it much thought, but I can imagine I was very confused by the movie.

J.D. Tully: I was first introduced to the characters of Frankenstein through popular culture and then I read the novel in my freshman year of high school. I remember that i liked it a lot (though did not take as much away from it as I do now), but my chief reaction (being a vampire fanatic) was that it was not Dracula!

Justin Zeno: Well, I always loved Frankenberry cereal. ;) That was probably my earliest exposure. As far as Mary Shelley's Frank, I read it for the first time for this production and adored it. I couldn't put it down really. Amazing how accessible her writing is, especially when you try to read Percy or Byron's writing. She was ahead of her time in so many ways.

Who is the more "sinned against," Victor or the Monster-- and why you feel that way?

Brittany Graham: The Monster. He was done a disservice being created by a man who was unable to provide him with the very things a human needs to survive: food, shelter, and companionship. Victor was able to relish in his accomplishments without thought towards what to do next. The Monster was doomed to walk the Earth without an understanding of who he is and what his purpose is.

J. D. Tully: Creature, hands down, not a question. Victor decides he wants to try and create life, and when he succeeds he realizes it is in appropriate. However, rather than dealing with his problem, he runs away, leaving the new "born" creature to learn the world for himself. Then when the Creature finally finds his father, he is rejected. All the Creature wants is to live, love, and be loved. So when his dream is shattered by his father, I find it understandable that he gets angry and goes a little nuts. Even so, the creature repents in the end and begs for forgiveness from his father, god, and the world. All Victor did was grieve for his own losses. Creature totally wins that one... score for the creature!

Justin Zeno: The monster, of course. Anyone with low self-esteem will tell you. He "didn't ask to be born." And society has always been partial to beauty. Granted, our perception of beauty changes with time - but deformity has never been a crowd pleaser. It's the old brains versus beauty controversy. Obviously beauty wins.

(Left: actor Justin Zeno.)

What film adaptation of the novel do you consider the best, and why?

Brittany Graham: I consider the 1931 version the best. The Creature in this version is what we all picture when we here the word "Frankenstein". It's timeless. You can still see young children trick-or-treating as the Creature from the 1931 version.

J.D. Tully: I actually haven't seen any film version excluding Young Frankenstein. As I previously said, I am a HUGE vampire fan so Frankenstein movies tended to miss me. Though my friend Catherine is loaning me Mary Shelley's Frankenstein with Helena Bonham Carter so YAY!

Justin Zeno: I've only seen the Branaugh version. I like some of it. I'm not thrilled with how he changed Mary Shelley's story. The book is much better.

Why do you think Mary Shelly's story and characters have lasted so long?

Brittany Graham: It's a classic! As long as the movie is made available and the novel remains on the eight grade reading list, the story will last forever. People will always be interested in the things that have yet to be. Perhaps if we do start creating people from the "bare bones and rotting flesh of others", people will lose interest in the Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein".

(Right: Actor J. D. Tully and actress Julianna Carr, as Elizabeth.)

J. D. Tully: Well they're just so intricate. An upstanding doctor who brings flesh back to life, though completely unthinkable, allows the imagination to wonder what else can happen in the sciences of life. A creature who looks like a monster but is more human than anyone on this earth. You love and hate them all which is always a fun dichotomy.

Justin Zeno: Again, amazing that it still taps into something so modern.

What do you think Shelley's primary theme is? What is she warning us of --
that science outside of religious or moral restraint brings dangerous consequences, or that humankind is unable to be fully humane?

Brittany Graham: Shirley writes it in her script. Mary: "I want others to know the horrors of science without feeling. The very inhumanity of such doings." Mary is warning us of the consequences of creating "life" without thought towards what is required to sustain that "life". You wouldn't create a plant without supplying water. You wouldn't create an animal without supplying food. Just as you cannot create a healthy, functional human being without supplying companionship, something Victor was unwilling to provide for the Creature; thus, we see the results clearly in Mary's novel.

J.D. Tully: I think it is a combination of both. Shelley is warning us of what happens when we lose our humanity. We become cold and hollow, which allows for all manner of poor choices to be made. Humans must remember that we are humane, or else we are nothing more than monsters.

Justin Zeno: I think she's warning us about ourselves. The potential we EACH have inside to "create" a monster that is greater than ourselves which has the potential to destroy everything we love. I think she's warning us to be satisfied when we find happiness, instead of always wanting more. And of course, she's warning against "playing god," but as I said before - that archetype goes back to Lucifer and Adam and Eve.

Finally, are there any developments in modern science that concern or trouble you, and if so, why?

Brittany Graham: The idea of cloning troubles me. I am concerned about scientists' ability to clone any living being, especially complete animals. I already have a problem with the breeding of hormone-enhanced animals for the purpose of eating, I can't imagine how I would feel if animals are being cloned in a laboratory only to provide mass quantities of affordable meat. The ability to clone complete humans is also very unsettling. I think this would create a feeling of disconnect in our society. The entire family structure could potentially be destroyed.

I am, however, interested and enthusiastic about the research in cloning vital organs that can be used in transplants for those that need them. I think this research is exciting.

Finally, I put my trust and faith in God who makes everything happen for a reason, and I don't think any amount of scientific discovery can jeopardize His plans.

J.D. Tully: Well, the ones I've heard about don't scare me just yet, it's the people running them and the uses they are talking about that get me.

Justin Zeno: I think science is wonderful. Obviously it is fallible. We have to understand its limits and accept that some parts of life are just miracles. Whatever you consider their source to be. If we lose our awe of the miraculous, we'll lose everything wonderful about living. Love may be just a bunch of hormones released into our bloodstream, but if you want to reduce it to that - it takes the wonder out of falling in love. I think we need to understand the boundaries of science, let it do its thing, and let love do the rest.

Thank you for your interesting answers, Brittany, J.D., and Justin!

Texting a pal, the Creature enjoys one of the marvels brought by modern science.

Related links:

Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein website.


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