Saturday, February 28, 2009

Haunted White House news!

That SHINING journalistic beacon on the internet hill, The Onion, has posted a report that Sasha Obama is seeing spirits!

Check out this item:

Sasha Obama Keeps Seeing Creepy Bush Twins While Riding Tricycle Through White House

News to make you drink "red rum"!

Photo source: The Onion

Friday, February 27, 2009

TWO YEARS TOO MANY! TDSH has an anniversary.

This blog o' mine has now lasted for two years!

And Tim Lucas' excellent VIDEO WATCHBLOG has just come to an end.

Well, this is akin to JFK dying young and Strom Thurmond living! There's no justice in the world.

Still, I'm pleased my blog has made it this long; it proves the old adage (and I believe in old adages, being an old appendage), that there's no accounting for taste!

I am genuinely glad to have made it to two years, giving me the chance to put the spotlight on some interesting people and events. And I'm grateful that this blog has brought me new friends. (I'd like to shout out to Pierre Fournier, who has become a fast, dear friend, which resulted from his noticing this blog and me noticing his.) And strengthened older ones, as is the case with John C. of Zombos' Closet of Horror.

I'm also pleased that in two years I've gotten hits from ninety five nations (there are 192 in the United Nations)! And---this past year more than twice as many people see this blog on an average basis than was the case a year before. (My thanks to all three of you guys, whoever you are. You sure travel a lot.)

So join me in a toast--you need an excuse for a drink, anyway (I know I do!)--and here's hoping I'll be able to do some fun things here at THE DRUNKEN SEVERED HEAD for another two years! (If I won a Rondo Award I know I'd be more motivated to keep on keepin' on; vote HERE ;) .)



Thursday, February 26, 2009

Robert Quarry

The suavest, most archly snarky vampire of them all, Count Yorga, has left us.

Actor Robert Quarry died on Feb. 20. ; as a fan of his intelligent acting in genre films, I'm sorry to know that he's gone.

Before he was moved to the hospital section of the Motion Picture Home in his last months, I spoke to him by phone. We had a nice chat, and he invited me to call back. I never did, sadly.

He was taken advantage of financially in his final year, but he also heard from many old friends and even more fans, and received many gifts. (My friend Raymond and I sent him a print of a wild day-glo portrait of Count Yorga that was used for the box art of a Mego '70s vampire doll.)

He'd had to leave behind his vast LP and tape collection. I remember asking him about sending some CD replacements; in particular, a recording of Boris Karloff in an audio production of the Bard's CYMBELINE. (Quarry had done many Shakespearean roles in his past stage career.) I said, "Mr. Quarry, do you like Shakespeare?" He replied, deadpan, "Well, he was a LOUSY dancer..."

(He also knocked Boris' performance in it, too, but he was friendly to me throughout the call.)

Another example of Quarry's humor comes from an interview found at "Tim Sullivan's Shock and Roll" at

"I had more dialogue in the first Yorga picture than Christopher Lee had in all his Dracula movies combined. Poor Christopher. They would have him just stand there with red contacts and whitened face, lightning and fog behind him. He had very little to do other than play the costume. Play the fangs. And that is what I think is wrong with so many of the “monsters’ in movies of late. They are just men in masks with knives going Boo! There’s very little for them to do as an actor. I hate those gore pictures. You know, the ones where one minute you’re alive, next minute your dick’s on the floor! (laughs) Anyway, with Yorga, I had the opportunity to show his charm, his elegance. I figure if you’ve lived 250 years, buddy, you better have a sense of culture and a sense of humor, or else you’re not gonna make it through lunch!"

(To read more of this excellent interview, which includes Quarry's ideas for a "Yorga" sequel that never came to be, click on the link above.)

My friend Ted Newsom related this Quarry anecdote over at the Classic Horror Film Board:

"I co-wrote [the film] TEENAGE EXORCIST with Brinke Stevens, though I asked for my name to be dropped off in a stupid fit of pique and hurt feelings. But therein lies a Quarry Story.

"Fred Ray came up with the original idea-- a girl in a haunted house. That was pretty much the idea, except he wanted an excuse to use up some voice-over and unrelated footage of John Carradine he had. We met with him once, wrote the script, had one discussion afterward, and that was it, otherwise the script was our baby.

"It was my idea to have an ineffectual priest with teeny nods to The Exorcist. I named him Father McFarren after a teacher of mine who had been an ex Jesuit (and became, later, a magician and pagan), so it was natural to push that and make him a stereotypical Irish priest. The project never happened with Fred, but he later sold the script, with the insistence that Brinke still star, to Grant Waldman, who spent a lot more money and time than Fred ever planned (3 weeks, SAG shoot) and cast Quarry. (Then screwed it up by casting Eddie Deezen as what was supposed to be a 16 y/o pizza delivery girl/cheerleader and heredity demon slayer named Buffy... 3 years before the original Buffy movie... Anyway...)

"The second time I met Robert Quarry was at Fred's house, at a party, shortly after that. I asked Quarry, whom I really only conversed with for the first time that evening, "What's this Teenage Exorcist?"

"He answered in the most delightfully supercilious, waspy and bitchy tones possible, "Oh, well, I only did that as a favor to Fred because they needed some gravitas, you know. It was this little Nothing of a script. Well, it was written by (dripping with sarcasm) Brinke Stevens, so you get some idea. There was this nothing of a role, a priest, so I decided to play him like Barry Fitzgerald (exactly the way it was written), you know, all "Sure'n'begorragh,' (ditto), and I sit the zombies down and sing "Toura-Loura-Loura" (ditto) and amaze them with card tricks (ditto). I ad-libbed all the way through it to make it into something." (Not one word wasn't in the script. I went through it line by line a couple years ago and was surprised how close it was.)

"I smiled, nodded sympathetically and said, "Yeah, I know. I co-wrote the script."

"He gracefully turned on a dime 180 degrees and said, "Yes, well, it was pretty good for that sort of thing, it was fun. Good job."

I didn't hold it against him, but I learned to treat his his best stories as entertaintainment from a great raconteur. "

Requiescat in pace, Robert. Travel well in "the undiscover'd country."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A report on "Schlitzie's Day"

Verne Langdon sent the following report (with minor editing by me) on the memorial service and headstone dedication held for Schlitzie, the "pinhead" who was exhibited in carnival sideshows and immortalized in the film Freaks. Many people had contributed financially, and with their time, so that Schlitzie could have a gravestone. On Feb. 20th, the 77th anniversary of the premiere of Freaks, fans and friends gathered to pay tribute to Schlitzie's memory.



SCHLITZE'S DAY was a resounding success.

On February 20, 2009, a group of friends from got together to hold a memorial service for Schlitze the Pinhead, whose earthly remains lay in an unmarked grave for nearly 40 years.

Following a beautiful journey to Queen Of Heaven Cemetery in Rowland Heights, California where Schlitze's remains are interred in a now-marked grave (see photo), those in attendance dressed the gravesite in beautiful floral arrangements, and Bryan Moore - himself an enormous Schlitze fan and historian - magnificently delivered an extremely well-constructed eulogy accompanied by a brief, emotional tribute to Schlitze by writer-composer-musician-producer Verne Langdon, who actually met, observed and knew Schlitze.

Tribute Part One:

Tribute Part Two:

After a near hour-long service and photo ops at the Schlitze gravesite, the group of nearly 30 Schlitzephiles from all over the United States proceeded to world-famous downtown Los Angeles local eatery Philippe's, home of the mouth-watering double-dipped beef sandwich as well as other fantastic food fare. Philippe's was a part of Schlitze's life in that he - along with other members of the legendary Paul Eagles Circus & Carnival Club - dined there often when wintering in Southern California. Following Philippe's it was on to hallowed haunts of Schlitze, including MacArthur Park in downtown Los Angeles where Schlitze would chase the ducks and his caretakers would sell his never-ending supply of souvenir photos from Schlitze's glory days on the various carnival midways, Schlitze's last known residence as verified on his Official Certificate Of Death, and of course the county care facility -Fountain View - in Hollywood, California, where Schlitze spent 48 hours or so before expiring on September 24, 1971, of Broncho Pneumonia brought on by Medullary Depression.

"Schlitzie - he had no choice. As I grew older I had a choice. I could stay in
show business if I wanted to. He had no choice, so - I don't know how to
express it about him but he - he just wasn't able to do anything else. Quite
often you would get a crowd that thought they were funny, that they were
funny and they would torment him or something like that but usually there
were some roustabouts around that would see that that was broken up in a
hurry and they were not allowed to torment him."

- Jeannie Tomaini, the half-girl, in "Freaks Uncensored"

The day was memorable for so many reasons, and may turn into an annual event, held on the 20th of February each and every year -- the day we have come to know and love as "Schlitze's Day"!

Findadeath founder Scott Michaels (4th from left, front row), Heather & Bryan Moore (2nd row left, then Shelly Lichoff, Verne Langdon, and Micah Harris, back row between Shelly Lichoff & Verne Langdon -Michael Kriegsman. Others unidentified.

A slideshow presentation by Phil De Croocq on the day's events can be seen here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A puzzling sign

On my way home tonight I saw a sign for a "vegan and raw cafe." Okay, I can understand going out for a vegan meal...but the raw part of the restaurant experience mystifies me. ('Cause I'm sure by "raw" they don't mean sushi!)

"Look, an apple on a plate! Man, I sure can't get that at home!"

"Carrot AND celery sticks, together? Bravo, Chef Alec, bravo!"

Which reminds me--a friend of mine once asked for honey at vegan's home. Big mistake. She was told "No honey--bees are enslaved!"

Of course, everyone's entitled to their opinion, but I have to wonder which side that person would have rooted for while watching this movie:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Feed your mind: put this nostalgia feedbag on!

They may be gone, but look at the magazine covers and art at the link below and take a trip in time:

Monster Magazines-- The First Decade

The Rondos get a new "Best Blog" category!

The Rondo Awards, those beautifully ugly statuettes handed out to nominees in various classic horror/fantasy categories, will at last be given to someone in a "Best Horror Blog" category. (Blogs had previously been lumped in with websites and forums.) So, instead of 100 to 1 odds of this blog ever winning a Rondo, the odds (what an appropriate term!) are now maybe 50 to 1!

I mean, just look at the illustrious company of nominees I'm in:

Blogue Macabre
Final Girl
The Good, The Bad and Godzilla
The Groovy Age of Horror
The Horrors of It All
The Vault of Horror
Zombos' Closet of Horror

Check them all out before voting. I wish them all good luck! (he said, winking insincerely...Well, not really.) They are all outstanding and I salute the bloggers behind them!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Throwing darts and hitting good stuff!

Iloz Zoc of Zombos' Closet of Horror recently bestowed upon this blog the Premio Dardos, (Darts Prize) for perceived excellence here. I am grateful for the honor, even if it does make me wonder if the ol' Zocker is off his rocker! (Or his meds.) Anyway, those so honored with the "peer accolade" (as Iloz describes it) are asked to, in turn, name five other blogs that the honoree believes deserve public plaudits and pats on the back. (It's a virtual chain letter! It's a major award! It's BOTH! It's two, two, two things in one!)

Okay, so here are some blogsites that I think should have gotten the Premio Dardo by now (Or maybe they have, but didn't report it.) In no particular order:

Sketchy Things The blog of one the nation's best caricature artists, Frank Dietz. (I was a mall caricature artist at one time, and Dietz's talent is inspirational. His original style makes a hack like Mad's bland Tom Richmond look like the Mort Drucker wannabe that he is.)

Dinosaur Casserole This whimsical, nonsensical blog never fails to amuse me. It's funny, and it displays a childlike imagination. It cheers me every time I read it.

The Cobwebbed Room THE blog of "monsters and horror in British popular culture. Always fun.

Taking IN the Trash Just for getting its readers into the head of a neopunk, exploitation-oriented garage band lead singer/songwriter.

Blogue Macabre For intelligent writing on horror films and horror in North American pop culture.

And though I'm supposed to stop at five, as a talking severed head I never follow expectations! I also throw a dart (I mean Jart) to this blog:

Haunted Monkey Paw Island Chris Jart's excellent review blog for bad horror movies! (The dart I threw in Chris' direction could just have easily hit Jart in My Head, his funny, nostalgic blog of horror and schlock in American pop culture. 'Cept he hasn't updated it since 2007.)

Check 'em all out, if you haven't already.

UPDATE: Hello to all in the ISCA!! Thanks for all the hits! They just keep a-comin'!

Watch the blog for caricatures by Clarence Butler, Jim Batts, and Mexican film star German Robles, soon to appear at TDSH!

Schlitzie's Day: A Belated Valentine for Schlitzie

February is the month of a minor saint --St. Valentine. His day is on the 14th.

But today is a day to remember another little saint.

Today is Schlitzie's Day.

If you've ever seen the MGM 1932 horror film "Freaks" directed by Tod Browning, you know who Schlitzie was. The film premiered exactly 77 years ago today, on February 20, 1932.

Friend of the Drunken Severed Head Verne Langdon, a former makeup artist and circus performer, will join with many other people today to remember Schlitzie at an unveiling of a long- overdue headstone marking the resting place of this memorable "very special person".

Below is an article about Schlitzie, and today's memorial for him, that was sent to me by Verne.


by Verne Langdon (with Phil De Croocq, Shelly Lichoff, Micah Harris, Bryan Moore, and Scott Michaels)

Valentine's Day will come a little late this year for one Schlitzie Surtees, a fellow who most likely lived to the ripe old age of 84 and entertained hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of carnival, circus, fair and movie attendees in his long and notable career.

"Most likely" is used casually to describe Schlitzie's age because that number surfaces at least twice in his mysterious past, both times offered by those who knew him best, his "legal guardian" of 29 years, George Surtees, and another who cared for Schlitzie after Surtees passed away in 1965.

Yet even after exhaustive research conducted first by myself then with three additional Schlitzie/Shlitze/Shlitzy (there were many ways his name was spelled over the years) aficionados, we were hard-pressed to track down any solid documentation of his birth in that nightmare alley below-the-radar world where human trading could be the norm, and "ownership" of some physically impaired individuals was commonplace (no one asked, no one told, everyone just knew).

A smokescreen of aliases second to no spy espionage were applied to and enveloped the diminutive attraction's mere existence. His most accepted surname - "Metz" - was borrowed from a man by the name of Ted Metz, who managed the sideshow 10-in-1 which included Schlitzie in 1936 as part of the movie star Tom Mix's traveling Circus.

Metz was no more Schlitzie's father than was his next "legal guardian" George Surtees, but that was a pose to easily facilitate transporting such an attraction across state borders.

Oh sure, there were laws protecting people like Schlitzie. As far back as 1873 California passed a little-known state law that forbids the exhibition of deformed persons for money.

In those days, such "laws" rarely made it past a show's "fixer", who always had a bankroll ready in his back pocket to grease the palm of any obstinate town official's extended hand.

Sideshows flourished in those days, and "performers" such as Schlitzie were main attractions, each and every one "alive on the inside", "born of perfectly normal parents, even as you and I"!

Schlitzie indeed had a story, and little by little, we pieced it together. No small feat considering we had neither birth nor death dates or any other solid information, including "Schlitzie's" real name!

(As it turns out, it very well may have actually been "Schlitzie", but that - minus the actual birth certificate - still remains to be uncovered, though we have zeroed in on three birth certificates, one of which is most likely Schlitzie's.)

Meanwhile, although some of Schlitzie's story is left to conjecture, most IS fact, and all is promised in a forthcoming tome by one of my associate researchers, Micah Harris, a freelance writer and instructor at Pitt Community College in Greenville, North Carolina. A Mulligan stew of fiction and reality, Harris's book, "The Pixie Sphinx of Ixymaya", promises to be THE unabridged Schlitzie handbook for any Schlitzie purist.

So what ever became of our "little Hero?"

Well, for the "Shlitze Surtees" (Official Certificate Of Death spelling) article and a crash course in a rarely-heralded yet cult-status Superstar, you must visit where you'll meet our boy first-hand.

"Once on the inside" (as the carnies used to pitch), you'll learn that after his traveling days were over, the little guy was "retired" to Los Angeles, led an uneventful life chasing ducks at a landmark lake under the watchful eye of his "caretakers", and sadly, wound up near penniless, only to pass away of bronchial pneumonia in 1971.

Our research led us to his death certificate, which informed us his remains were interred in what was a three-tiered grave (such "stacking" is commonplace in cases of charitable burial) in a Southern California cemetery.

Until late last year, Schlitzie's grave had remained pretty much uncared for, unattended, and - most regrettably - unmarked.

For my own part in all of this, I - Verne Langdon - spent part of my youth working fairs, haunting carnival midways, eyeing funhouse figures and ogling sideshow attractions, in particular "Schlitzie the pinhead," as he was sometimes advertised. A penchant for going backstage brought Schlitzie and me together at an early age (I was 8 or 9 the first time we met), and I prided myself (or at least imagined vividly) that this odd living exhibit and I had become fast "friends". It was one-sided of course, as Schlitzie was on the down low when it came to communicative skills. I do think he remembered me though, because every time I came across a show that featured him, he'd become rather emotional and behave as if he recognized me.

Certainly, and at the very least, I knew and observed at very close range the irrepressible Schlitzie, and it is this fact alone which makes me something of an "expert" on one of outdoor entertainment's most endearing personalities.

Eventually I wrote about him, Wikipedia picked up on my writings, and the next thing I knew, Schlitzie had his own Wikipedia page!

Enter Scott Michaels. Scott is the "driving force" (quite literally) of, a website established in 1998 - as Scott explains it - "... to chronicle the last days of celebrities, or the 'ends' of their stories. I think Death is an important part of life, and where people die is of historical significance. I started the website so people that didn't have the ability to travel to the places mentioned can actually see them."

Do people really seek this much information? When does "so much information" become "too much information", you may ask?

Scott says "The website gets about 20,000 visitors a day, give or take a thousand. There are over 3000 members to the message board, where Schlitzie's gravestone plight began."

Well, there's your answer.

As for Schlitzie, Scott explains his personal obsession "... began when I first saw the film Freaks. I mean no disrespect when I saw people different than myself. I just found people that were born different, fascinating .... I have always wanted to add Schlitzie to Findadeath - but getting real information has proved difficult. When my friend C.C. turned me on to a Wikipedia page, I found his grave, met Verne Langdon on line, and here we are."

As I mentioned, Scott is a DRIVING force, and in 2005 he decided to branch out with the REAL "Tragical History Tour" of his virtual reality website, Dearly Departed Tours*. Scott's tour takes the curious on a 3.5 hour journey to the death sites of the famous and/or peculiar. This idea proved very successful for Scott, who explains - tongue planted firmly albeit macabrely in cheek - "People love the story of the Manson Murders or the Menendez brothers, but people really do enjoy the restroom break, which is also where George Michael was arrested."

Since 2008, when my Schlitzie memorial first appeared on at Scott's request, a congress of Findadeath "DeathHags", as they like to call themselves, discovered the little guy's story. And others, who were familiar with Schlitzie, finally got some facts about the entertainer they knew of, but knew very little about.

The DeathHags were touched, and set-out to right an almost 40 year wrong.

They ante'd up just over four hundred dollars to buy a marker for Schlitzie's unmarked grave, located in the 'unidentified or deprived deceased' section (a "pauper's grave", if you will) of Queen Of Heaven Cemetery and Mortuary in Rowland Heights, California.

Through the caring and generousity from a group of people who only knew each other as screennames on the internet, you will now find a gravestone for Schlitzie.

Shelly Lichoff lives in Columbus, Ohio and is a triage nurse at one of the large tertiary care hospitals there. Shelly is also a full time college student working on finishing her BSN.

She is now also the legal guardian of Schlitzie's grave.

Shelly explains, "I was touched after reading the bio on Schlitzie. I felt that it was a shame that this little guy made money for others but none was left for him, and felt that he had been taken advantage of. Later that morning I was reading on the message board that others also thought that it was a shame that his grave wasn't marked. Someone posted that to mark the grave you needed the permission of the family and there was none. It just stuck with me, why can't we do this? I just kept thinking about it for a few days. Finally, after I had been up for almost 24 hrs, having just worked a 9 day stretch at work with alternating double shifts, on my one day off before I went back for another 8 day run, all I could think about was why can't we place a marker for this guy?"

"I called the cemetery listed on his death certificate after doing a quick Google search. I figured the worst they could do was hang up. The woman who answered was pretty cool about answering my questions, she would have to get back to me about the total cost since it had to be researched from 1971, but as long as someone was willing to sign the contracts and take ownership of the grave, it could be done. It was harder to explain why I wanted to do this to my lawyer when I called her to check it out than it was to deal with the cemetery. I asked Scott for permission to post this on the message board, and figured if for some reason he said no, I would just do it myself. It was a small amount that needed to be raised, just $378.37."

"I raised the funds rather quickly. Several of the doctors and social workers at work contributed, and the rest came from members of the message board."

"I received donations from New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, England, Canada, and of course the good old USA! The smallest contribution came from a woman who wasn't going to buy her weekly treat of a donut and coffee after church because she was sending that $3.00 dollars to me and she didn't have another $3.00 to spare. The highest contribution came from 2 people who each sent $50.00. One didn't even belong to the message board but had heard about our cause from someone and asked if he could contribute as he was a fan of Schlitzie's. Most contributions were between $5-$10 dollars."

"I kept ALL RECORDS and when we reached our goal, I pulled the paypal account and found out we had raised just over $400.00. No one wanted their money back, so we agreed to spend the extra money on flowers. I did not take any money for my time or effort or to pay the lawyer (I had the lawyer check it out to make sure there would be no further financial obligations after the stone was placed). I am Catholic, but I believe in Karma and I refused to raise even 1 cent that did not go to Schlitzie."

"Enough people had made money off this little guy. I did accept 2 more donations from members of the message board after they begged me to be part of this, and added that money to the flower fund. I also received an 'anonymous' donation from some doctors at work that wanted to help but didn't want others to know they were helping me in my "morbid hobby". This brought the flower fund up to $100.00. One doctor gave me $25 to spend on a gas card for Scott to go and photograph the stone for all of us."

But not every aspect of this Labor Of Love went as planned.

Shelly relates, "The cemetery had promised to call me when the stone was ready to be placed, because the LA DeathHags wanted to be present. I called every week, then found out the stone had been placed a week or two prior and the cemetery had forgotten to tell me".

The cemetery "forgot".

Shelly mentioned that she was sorry she couldn't see the stone with the other LA people. Then, Phoenix, Arizona photographer, line producer and Schlitziephile Phil De Croocq mentioned that Feb. 20 would be the 77th anniversary of the release of Tod Browning's MGM classic "Freaks". He suggested that might be an appropriate day to meet. Others agreed, and Schlitzie's Day was born!

So on Friday, February 20, 6 days after Valentine's Day, certain members of this group - including Yours Truly, will be traveling to Los Angeles to stand at Schlitzie's now-marked grave site, and listen as San Diego, California based sculptor/artist Bryan Moore, who also happens to be an enormous Schlitzie fan and an ordained minister, shares a prayer with us for a wonderful little trouper, a simple, sweet child of God, in order that he might receive peace for all Eternity.

Then we'll depart Schlitzie's gravesite and cemetery for a day - SCHLITZIE'S Day - of visiting his haunts around Los Angeles, winding up at the care facility where he left his mortal coil.

Phil De Croocq opines, "I'll bet more people, especially those under 40, have seen a picture of Schlitzie, even if they don't know his history, than have seen a picture of Gary Cooper or Jean Harlow."

Phil might just be right.

But then, who really cares about a little circus sideshow pinhead anyway?

Oh, just a few hundred thousand of us, that's all.

Happy Valentine's Day, Schlitzie! A few days late to be sure, but most assuredly the greeting comes straight from our hearts.

Today, February 20 is YOUR day! Enjoy it, and may God Bless and watch over you, wherever you are!

- Verne Langdon, Phil De Croocq, Shelly Lichoff, Micah Harris, Bryan Moore, and Scott Michaels

"The single best idea ever conceived of by humans!"

So says a commentator at National Public Radio's website, regarding a planned movie titled Pride and Predator. The plot, according to the NPR news item, "will juxtapose brooding aristocrats with a brutal alien that lands in 1800s-era Britain, attacking residents and leaving them with neither sense nor sensibility."

I love it! A must-see.

I suggest the same producers follow up what is sure to be a hit with these films: Jane Air Invasion, Bleak House of Frankenstein, and (suggested by NPR's Bob Mondello), Werewolf of Wuthering Heights.

For more on the film--and coming books that combine famous 19th century British novels with modern monsters--click on this link.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Odd names of real people

I have family back in my home state of Arkansas, and I get reports from home. This week I was told that a man named "Anos Arkangel" was listed in the local court dockets! His body part homonym made me think of the old joke about Elvis Presley and his nickname: "You know how they call Elvis 'the Pelvis'? Well, he's got a brother named Enos."

Wonder if Anos Arkangel's appellation is his birth name, or a self-applied one? Bet it's the latter.

Also in my home town there's a guy named "Sunshine Mudhole." (I bet that ain't HIS birth name, either!)

But ya never know. I remember going to school with a girl with the first name of Bambi, and another with the last name of Crapser. (I'd hate for her to be stopped by a male State Trooper: "What's your name, ma'am? Crap, sir.") And when I was a kid I knew a fella named Hugh Monger--of course, sometimes he got called "Humongous." There also was a man with the last name of Batman listed in the phone book.

My parents and grandparents have all sworn to me that they knew a girl named America Mae Riddicky Biddicky Joshuaway Arlena. Oddly, no one remembers her last name.

And I grew up with family members with the names "Othar" and "Monk"--names I like very much for their distinctiveness. (People with unusual names often seem to hate them when they are children, but appreciate them as adults.) When I was a child, I knew no one outside my family with the name Max. I hated it--then.

However, maybe none of this should be surprising, since my home state has towns named Old Joe, Toad Suck, Bull Shoals, Yellville, Gassville, and Flippin! But I'm not being insulting. I love the fact that Arkansas has some colorful town names--I wish it had more!

In Memphis, TN, when I lived there, were doctors Oliver Hardy and Vincent Price (the latter actually a dentist!).

And news came out this week that jazz singer/songwriter Blossom Dearie has died. (And yes, that was her real name.)

But for sheer weirdness, little beats the cruelty of Frank Zappa: he named two of his kids "Moon Unit" and "Diva Muffin."

Well, except for naming your kid "Adolph Hitler."


Relevant link: Baby Name Games

Monday, February 16, 2009

Honors and Awards...

...are on my mind (such as it is).

The first reason for this is the Rondo Awards 2008 ballot, posted late last night. I'm looking forward to voting-- and I made the list of nominations for Best Blog! HOORAY!

But of course now I have no respect for the reward at all. (Still, I WANT YOU! To vote for me!) I gotta get more votes than I did running for President last year!

The second reason is that I'm honored to appear on the prestigious Frankensteinia blog! An interview I did with three actors in the musical play Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein (which premiered here in Pittsburgh) appears there!

And last, I've been honored with the Premio Dardo (Dart Prize) by Iloz Zoc of Zombos' Closet of Horror. As described at "Tracing the Premio Dardo," it is essentially a "tagging meme, in the form of an award." Blogs are awarded the prize by other bloggers as a recognition of "unique voices and visions," and (as it says at Frankensteinia), in recognition of "cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing...that adds value to the Web.


Iloz says
I do an "excellent job of always being pithy, witty, and keen."

Now I know that he, too, has trouble with sobriety.

(I must buy him a drink some time. And one for Pierre at Frankensteinia. And one for Rondo Hatton.)

The catch with this "Premio Dardo" is, I've gotta pass it on to five more blogs!

More on that tomorrow!
I gotta get back to drinking a toast to all the bloggers I might want to send the prize on to. There are so many...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ah, yoot!

In a nostalgic mood today.

I think an ideal day would be to be ten years old once more, and experience all the following activities one more time:

After waking, I'd get up and have a bowl of Freakies cereal (or maybe Count Chocula) while I read a new horror comic (or watched Johnny Quest or Scooby Doo), followed by sitting under a tree and reading a Ray Bradbury story for the first time. After lunch, I'd buy a Dreamsicle from a passing ice-cream truck, then go back and find a new monster 8mm film clip in the mail. After watching it in the dark basement, I'd ride my bike to Ben Franklin's 5 & 10 and get some cheap rubber monster toy that would spark my imagination like the machines in a mad doctor's lab.

From there I'd ride over to Baker's Drugstore and get a Coke with cherry syrup in it, and drink it while ogling the latest issue of Famous Monsters, (or one of the other horror mags in the Warren lineup) and hope Shock Theater would get around to showing some of the films Uncle Forry so lovingly (and punningly) described. I'd go home and find my Memaw there to take me to a matinee. We'd go see a monster or fantasy flick, natch. (I'd have a Cherry Bomb, or maybe a Reese's cup.)

We'd go home after the movie and I'd draw monsters while dinner was prepared. Maybe play my Disney LP Chilling Sounds of the Haunted House while I was at it. Then, I'd go out after supper and catch fireflies with my brother, then he'd tell a scary story he'd made up. I'd describe the scenes in the monster film I was planning on making one day (it would have Dracula, Frankenstein, a teenage Mr. Hyde, AND a robot in it!) My father would holler at us (he did a lot of that) to get in the car (a station wagon with a moon roof) and we'd go to the Starlite Drive In.

We'd see something with a rubber makeup job prominently featured, like Planet of the Apes. (My dad did take us to see that, as he was interested in special makeup effects, bless him.) I'd come home tired, but would have fun taking my Marx Creature into the tub, then squirting a soapy blob from my Monster Crazy Foam can that would eat him! Yay!

I would go to bed feeling mighty powerful...The Basil Gogos versions of the Universal monsters (who lived in my closet) would be powerless to scare me that night...

(All the things I've just described I HAVE experienced, just not all on the same day!)

"BACKWARD, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for to-night!"
(Elizabth Akers Allen)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Creepy crawlies in the news

(Or, "How I tied several unrelated news items together." But I digress. Ahem.)

So many new items have come out recently that have something to do with creepy crawly beasties, or remind me of them, that I'm weirded out by it all!

Speaking of being reminded of "them", actor James Whitmore passed away; he starred in the sci-fi movie classic Them, about gi-normous ants (gi-ants?). One of the most versatile of American character players, he is probably known by those under 40 for his part in the film The Shawshank Redemption, and for Them by older folks. (Whitmore was once asked by a young actor just what he had done, and he replied, "Well, I saved the world from giant ants once.")

And Lux Interior, lead singer of the band The Cramps, died. His most famous song was likely Human Fly, with clever lyrics like "I've got 96 tears and 96 eyes."

Then Bill Gates made the news recently for bugging people--literally. He was speaking at a conference on the need to stop the scourge of malaria, and released a swarm of mosquitoes into the room.

"Malaria is spread by mosquitoes. I brought some. Here, I'll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected."

Gates waited a while before telling the audience that the mosquitoes were free of malaria. Even as a philanthropist now doing good work with his money, he's still an arrogant nerd (and still releasing bugs, only not ones of the virtual kind.)

And finally, the fossilized bones of a long-extinct gigantic snake (bigger than the one seen in the movie Anaconda), was discovered. This species was so gargantuan it could have eaten people--if any had been around then. Almost too bad Gates wasn't.

And if all the above wasn't enough to weird me out, creepy, crawling Rod Blagojevich called me, wanting to be interviewed! Boy, he is desperate! ' Course, I turned him down. I won't talk to man who has ten time more hair on his head than I do.

Related old weird animal news: A RODENT AS BIG AS A BULL

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Headstone for Schlitzie

Well-known makeup artist, musician and mask maker (and friend to The Drunken Severed Head) Verne Langdon has sent me word that "Schlitzie" of Freaks movie fame has at last gotten a gravestone. It will be officially unveiled at 11:00 a.m. on February 20th.

It will be 77 years to the day after the premiere of Freaks; and coincidentally the same weekend as the Oscar ceremonies, where a more famous late movie star will be honored and remembered.

Here is an announcement of the informal memorial from Verne Langdon:

"On Friday morning, February 20, at 11 AM, a caravan of several dozen or more people who have for the most part never met one another in person, will wend their way to a cemetery, stand at a grave for a few moments for a quiet prayer spoken for someone most of these same people have never met, and did not know in life. They will take tremendous pride in their mysterious accomplishment, then exit the cemetery and go on about the day, visiting the deceased's favorite locations around Los Angeles, including his last known residence and place of demise.

"The Schlitzie Memorial will be a quiet and dignified ceremony. It will be a spiritual celebration. And those attending will be there to truly pay their respect to a man who spent most of his life being called ‘pinhead’ and ‘freak’.

"Schlitzie spent almost 40 years entertaining millions around the world and lining the pockets of many promoters, movie studios and artists. Yet the man, through no fault of his own, died penniless in a county convalescent facility and was laid to rest in an unmarked pauper's grave.

"It has taken almost another 40 years for Schlitzie to finally get a little something back for all he gave.

"There will be no carnival. There will be no sideshow. There will be no movie sets.

"There will, however, be quiet on the gravesite. There will be dignity. There will be respect.

"And finally, there will be a gravestone, for Schlitzie."

Learn about Schlitzie at

If you wish to send a representative to cover any part of the day, or wish to simply attend, please direct all inquiries, media or otherwise to:

Verne Langdon

Contact e-mail:

More Demented Doctors!

Recently I posted a link to one site's Top 10 list of real "mad scientists" in history. (A pretty good list too, of some really whacked-out and mean, even evil, medicos.) Now at the site Live Science, I find they have their own list of insane scientists. Check it out, but know that the list would be more accurately called a "Top 10 Eccentric or Kinda Nutty, But Brilliant, Scientists":

Monday, February 2, 2009

Today is the day The King died.

Today I am remembering the King of Terror, Boris Karloff, and BLACK FRIDAY.

Not the 1940 film Karloff made with Bela Lugosi, but Friday, February 2nd, 1969. Forty years ago today--the day the King of Terror was taken by Prince Sirki, and all horror film fandom wept. I know I did. I was 7 years old when my father told me my favorite actor was gone. I cried hot tears in my bedroom. I had looked forward to growing up with new Boris Karloff films! Wasn't he the man who vowed to never stop working? Hadn't Famous Monsters magazine informed monster kids everywhere of his future film plans? I couldn't imagine Forrest Ackerman no longer cheerfully reporting on Boris' busy schedule of appearances on TV and film. Karloff's workload was amazing for a man in his 80's, despite crippling, painful arthritis and debilitating emphysema. He seemed to be imbued with the immortal life force that Frankenstein's monster was given. But like the films Boris appeared in, that was only a wonderful illusion.

He was a man I wanted to be like. He was courteous, energetic, and dedicated to a profession that made others happy. Respected and loved, his life was productive, despite his ailments and in spite of his experiencing the tragedy of divorce. My young life had known a lot of illness, and my family had suffered through divorce. But Mr. Karloff had overcome these problems, so I believed life was not as scary as the films I watched Boris in.

And now he was gone, joining Bela Lugosi for a final time. My mother had died a year before, and the power of death to change life for the worse was now confirmed as absolute. So I sobbed until I couldn't anymore. I lay on the bed, miserable.

My father came back with a copy of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. I said nothing. He said nothing. He just smiled an awkward smile, set it on my bed, and left.

Inside were new photos of Boris not run before. I lost myself in the pictures, imagining the stories they seemed to tell. Boris' baritone was speaking words of menace and power, and in the back of my mind was the thought that there were future issues of FM to look forward to. And no one ever died in Famous Monsters of Filmland.

I wish I still had that issue.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pittsburgh invaded by supernatural forces!

Every where I've gone today everyone is dressed in black--like they're in mourning! Strange. But they're also wearing gold highlights,too. I guess Pittsburgh has festive funeral mourners the way New Orleans does! Everyone's wailing and carrying towels to cry in, so I guess something awful has happened.

This evening, Pittsburgh is a ghost town. Everyone's inside their homes, which all must be haunted-- because I kept hearing people yelling for "GHOST HEALERS!! GHOST HEALERS!!"


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