Thursday, December 25, 2008

Hairy, scary Bavari-an Christmas

Below are scans of pics lent by friend Steffi Staley of a Christmas parade in the German state of Bavaria, where Santa's evil sidekick Krampus, his demon friends, and witches all appear, the better to scare kids into being good. (A tradition I think is great for children-- although some disagree.)

This is a tradition that I wish would flourish here-- hey, we got the Christmas tree and Santa Claus from the Old World, why not Krampus and his kind? I live in a section of Pittsburgh that was home for the German immigrant community in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but the "Pennsylvania Dutch" Christmas monster known as Belsnickel seems to have disappeared completely from Christmas celebrations here. What a shame!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Going with the low humor I'm celebrated for in cities around the globe (yeah, right!), here are a few photos to put you in the Christmas mood.

Back to packing and moving. More later!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Forry's Last Pun, or, Forry Laffs e-Ternal!

Forry Ackerman's last laugh was on me.

Not that he had a laugh at my expense-- no, I mean "on me" as in "the last drink's on me."

A few days before Forry died, I e-mailed a list of 10 puns (not original, but ones I liked) to Joe Moe, Forry's friend and caretaker. He wrote back, "Hilarious! Can't wait to read em' to Ack!"

And he did. I had the surprise of my life when I read, less than 48 hours after "Ack"'s passing, a post at the Classic Horror Film Board by Forry's close friend of many, many years, Lee Harris, who saw Forry every day near the end:

"Here is what you've all been waiting for, 4e's last pun. This was not a pun BY him - fans sent him puns in his last weeks, and Joe read him the worst of them. (It works in this whole "anti" aesthetic, where the pun's merit is based on how awful it is) What follows is the last pun 4e ever heard, and laughed hard at, just a few days ago:

"Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and, with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath.

"This made him a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis!"

Predecapitation: Meeting Forry for the first time-- at the 25th ARCHON convention in St. Louis, 1997.

is was one of the puns I sent! I was stunned! By sheer luck, had I been able to give the man who'd made my miserable childhood more delightful, whose wordplay got me interested in reading, his last good laugh (at a bad joke)?

I had! I contacted Mr. Harris, who confirmed that this pun was not sent by anyone else.

I was so amazed and so moved, I ACKtually had tears in my eyes.
What a privilege to make him laugh!

Farewell, Forry. Dankon.

"Uncle Forry" (Forrest J. Ackerman: 1916-2008)

Thanks to my friend Harry Woodbury, some video of me with Forry has been preserved-- for me to treasure always, and to also share with you.

Below are links to footage of me and Forry singing (him singing, me struggling) at brunch at the 2007 Monster Bash:
"Sonny Boy"

My friend, musician and educator Robert Taylor, sharing song with FJA that same day:
"Don't Send Me Shoesies..."

Special thanks to Charles and Maria Henson for the 2nd and 3rd posted photos of Forry.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The last thing FJA had a hand in--

My good friend Robert Taylor, educator, film buff and the world's premier Vincent Price fan, recalled earlier this year a special project he brought to Forry Ackerman, which 4E ran with and made all his own.

Forry Ackerman, the beloved editor of FAMOUS MONSTERS magazine, and genial, encouraging "uncle" to generations of young people interested in horror and "sci-fi," always delighted in telling how he had met someone who, as a child, had once met Lincoln-- and could imitate Lincoln's voice and accent. (This occurred when Forry was young and the Lincoln witness was very old.)

The idea for the project began some years ago. Robert once wondered, after shaking Forry's hand (Forry met many hundreds of noteworthy people), just how many luminaries' hands Forry's hand had shaken, and he (Robert) was now "linked" to.

So Robert proposed a special project for "4e"-- and this invitation to make a "handy" visual of Forry's Famous Fingerclaspings fired Forry up

Here's Robert:

"In 2005, I approached Forry with an idea for a project, something I wanted him to do for me. I mentioned to him the old saying, "Shake the hand of the man who shook the hand of Lincoln...", and asked him if he'd be willing to trace the outline of his hand on a piece of paper and then write between the fingers the names of some of the famous people he'd shaken hands with. Forry became very excited about this and he agreed he'd work on it. A few months later, he sent me the beginning efforts--Joe [Moe, Forry's friend and aide] had scanned Forry's hand on three sheets of paper, and Forry had handwritten names all over them--both ON the hand 'photos' and around them.

"I stopped counting "handshakes" at 634 and can tell you it went beyond that number.

"On the first page:

I, Forrest J Ackerman, during my lifetime to this day 27 July 2005 have shaken hands with H.G. Wells, "First of Civilized Men", Hugo Gernsback, "Father of Science Fiction", Edgar Rice Burroughs & Danton/Dejan Thoris/Hulbert & Llona Burroughs...

"Some of the other names were: Lon Chaney's brother, Lon Chaney Jr. and wife, Boris Karloff and wife, Bela Lugosi and son, Elsa Lanchester, Marlene Dietrich, Patsy Ruth Miller, Mary Philbin, Lana Turner, Rock Hudson, Gloria Swanson, Billie Dove, Robert Armstrong, Fay Wray, Merian C. Cooper, Gustav von Seyffertitz, John Boles, Fritz Lang, Brigitte Helm, Johnny Eck, Maurice Chevalier, Ray Bradbury and wife and 4 daughters, Erich von Stroheim and son, Hugh Hefner, John Carradine, Candy Clark, Anton LaVey, Marjoe Gortner, Gloria Stuart--and on and on, including 'the marble hand of Jules Verne on the hand of his marble statue rising from his tomb.'

"Over the course of the following year, Forry continued to send more and more lists of names--everyone he could think of. At the same time, Forry began to list for me 'favorite things', from books, candies, fond memories, 'firsts' and 'lasts'--including the first thing [wife] Wendayne ever said to him (she was a clerk in a store), "Can I help you, sir?" and the last thing she ever said to him (on her death bed), "Help me, Forry." Joe Moe told me that the 'hand' project fired Forry's imagination more than anything had in a long while--Forry continued to send names until early 2008, when his health began to fail noticeably."

Robert sent me several e-mails about this project, including more excerpts of letters from Forry. The names of famous people that piled up make up a fun challenge of one's knowledge of the names of 20th century science-fiction and horror. Later, Forry wrote about the things his hands had done-- and made almost a prose poem of the mundane, reveling in everyday detail for(ry) effect, not unlike the prose style of authors such as Stephen King, or Forry's lifelong friend, Ray Bradbury:

"More of the additional stuff Forry wrote me. There are some quirky spellings and words--I was faithful to Forry's choices:

SEEMS LIKE A NEVER ENDING STORY, MORE HANDSHAKING MEMORIES SURFACING FROM FORRY: Sammy Davis Jr., Phyllis Diller, Billy Barty, Samson Debrier, Bert Schonberg, actor Dick Miller, eccentric genius artist of San Francisco, Virgil I. Partch (cartoonist VIP), Wendayne's youthhood friend in Paris and two of her youthhood friends in Germany and two in Austria, curator of the Esperanto Museum in Austria, [artist] Frank Dietz, Irving Klaw, Del Henderson, Paula Raymond,...I have spoken on the phone to Aldous Huxley; Una Merkel, Marlene Dietrich's secretary Eleanor McGerry, Geo. Pal's sec'y Gae Griffith, Argosy sf author Fred Macisaac (before he committed suicide, not after), Weird Tales authors Mindret Lord, Dorothy Quick." (Dorothy Quick was a friend of Mark Twain's when she was a little girl.)

"The handshake morphed into other contacts--

I have kist or been kist by fans Ruth Landis, Carrie Kyle, Margaret Borst, Thai waitress May, Morojo, Pogo, Wendayne, Darlynne O'Brien, Elly Bloch, Bjo Trimble, French girl with five first names, Una Merkel, Veronica Carlson, Ingrid Pitt, Gloria Stuart, ballerina-actress Svetlana Makarovitch, actress Carla Laemmle, silent film star Billie Dove...Ray Bradbury & Isaac Asimov & Horace L. Gold have kist me on the forehead. (As a heterosexual I have taken no pleasure from it but appreciated their expression of affection) By word, deed, or in writing I have been told they love me by Carmilla Plant & Stephanie Burnell (two transgenderites: ie, men who morphed into women via operation), one hermaphrodite, 2 crossdressers, 5 lesbians, 2 bisexuals built for two, 7 homosexuals, 10 straight men, 36 women (14 married, 22 single).

"And he returned to hands, talking about other things his hands had done/held. This is representative of what he wrote--the actual lists are longer by far:

I have used both hands to swim, to help me climb 451 feet (in honor of Ray Bradbury) up & down the Great Wall of China. I have held punk, lit firecrackers & fireworks (House on Fire, Roman candles, Mt Vesuvius, sparklers, King Kong, Eiffel Tower, many others whose names I don't remember).

In my time I have petted 10 dogs & 10 cats. Among the dogs my dear little Chihuahua Bonnie Barker, found abandoned in a graveyard (she could wriggle out of a coat faster than you could say abracadabra so I nicknamed her Houndini) and A.E. van Vogt's huge white furry Siberian wolfhound, Stava. Among cats there was Mr. Orangy Robot, specifically acquired to catch a rat that was running wild in my bedroom and chewing on my wardrobe; he earned his keep the first day, proudly presenting me with a dead rat in his jaws. During my long life I have petted a rabbit, a chinchilla, a skunk, a turtle, a frog, a parrot, a pet pig, and Australian house pet resembling a hamster, a squirrel, a koala bear, a kangaroo and Togare, the housepet of Satanist Anton LaVey--a fullgrown female lion. Anton invited me and I once stroked Togare's belly (to the horror of my wife).

I have played piano keys, gripped the steering wheel of an automobile, held checkers, chess figures, dominoes, playing cards, a pogo stick, fastened a safety belt in an auto & a plane, held a garden hose, held a lawnmower, held onto the pole of a wooden horse on a merrygoround. I have held matches, a thimble, pin, needle, catheters (2 types) soda straw, fashioned things from an Erector set, flown a kite, fired an Army rifle, held a brontosaurus from THE LOST WORLD, 3 dinosaurs, a pteranodon & the bomb that brought down King Kong from the original film, held theater tickets, lottery tickets, ran a flag up a flagpole, held one end of a jumprope, played marbles, held phonograph records, soundiscs, picked type for printing, operated an arclight movie projector, cranked a mimeograph, put on rollerskates, glasses, gloves, boxing gloves, held a stick to roast marshmallows... I have held in the palms of my hands 3 types of popcorn, candy bars such as Snickers, Baby Ruths, chewing gum, bubblegum, bitter alum, celery stalk, fig, guava, artichoke, apple, orange, pomegranate, cake (layer, Angelfood, lemon), drinks (Green River, Delaware Punch, Hawaiian Punch, lemonade, orangeade, V8 Splash, Ensure--every flavor but vanilla--and NEVER anything carbonated)... I have held 1000s of US postage stamps in my hand and even more worldwide stamps for a stamp album. I have held in both hands and turned pages on 50,000 books (I read every last word in them, turned to the last page and read the last word), 200 complete sets of science fiction & fantasy magazines... I have held in my hands a fly, butterfly, ant, termite, mosquito, flea, injured bird, bottle of fireflies.

How many of the foregoing ordinary things have you shared with me?

Atypically, Robert did not write an ending to the e-mail with the above excerpt. I think the poignancy of the final line left nothing else to write about.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What's coming up

(besides the breakfasts of people who stumble on this blog without warning, that is):

* More posts on the life of the influential Forrest J. Ackerman (Forry's Last Pun, and The Last Thing Forry Had a Hand In, and more, including a rare photo of Forry in makeup I have not seen posted anywhere else on the web)

* More photos of the soon-to-be-shared film The Drunken Severed Head Show

* Pics and a review of the fantastic time I had at "Castle Blood"

* Pics of an old cemetery Jane and I found near our new home

* More stuff I gotta move

* A link to my review of the local premiere of a new stage musical, Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein (along with interviews of some of the cast and the show's creator!)

Keep your eyes peeled! (Or even someone else's-- they make great substitutes for cocktail onions!)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Terry Pace on the life of Forrest J. Ackerman

Playwright and journalist Terry Pace has penned his appreciation of Forry Ackerman, and with his kind permission I quote him here. From Terry comes this appreciation of the life of the most world's most influential fan of all things fantastic:

In one amazing lifetime, Forry met and shook the hands – and, in most cases, developed lifelong friendships or professional relationships with – all of the creative luminaries of the science-fiction, fantasy and horror genres, from H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs and J.R.R. Tolkein to Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, Lon Chaney Jr., George Pal, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Robert Bloch, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Richard Matheson and Peter Jackson. Forry corresponded with Carl Laemmle and H.P. Lovecraft, popularized the work of behind-the-scenes cinematic artists Willis O’Brien, Jack Pierce and Ray Harryhausen, he helped start the first science-fiction fan conventions, fan societies and fan magazines (“fanzines”) and served as a literary agent for everyone from Bradbury, Asimov and A.E. van Vogt to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and infamous Hollywood schlock artist Ed Wood (Forry frequently referred to himself as Wood’s “illiterary agent”).

Outside the genre, Forry’s eclectic array of personal passions encompassed the music of Al Jolson (who once put his arm around Forry and called him “Sonny Boy”) and Sammy Davis Jr. (who declared himself Forry’s biggest fan) and the smoldering screen presence of Hollywood legend Marlene Dietrich (her inscribed photo remained one of his proudest possessions).

Forry’s few regrets? He never met Edgar Allan Poe, Jules Verne or the senior Lon Chaney.

As many of you already knew, our beloved “Uncle Forry” had been battling congestive heart failure for the past month. On Halloween night, I told Forry a loving, grateful and reluctant goodbye (both on the phone and in writing) and convinced myself that I was fully prepared for the inevitable and reconciled to the imminent loss. Ray visited the following day, clutched Forry’s hand, and told him just how much he loved him. At the end of their final time together, the Martian Chronicler left his first editor and publisher – and his oldest, dearest friend – with a sweet, tender, “Goodbye – just in case.”

Fortunately, Forry rallied enough over the following week to have one last, lingering chance to enjoy the adoration and fellowship of many other friends and all of his adoring public. In pure Forry fashion, he transformed those five final weeks of his life into what Joe Moe – Forry’s friend, companion, housemate, creative collaborator and all-around right-hand man for the past 20 years – called “a wonderful living funeral” celebrating his life, influence and achievements.

During that marvelous month-plus of fond farewells, Forry celebrated his 92nd birthday (sadly, falling short of reaching his long-desired goal of reaching 100 and becoming the “George Burns of Science Fiction”). He also welcomed illustrious visitors ranging from Twilight Zone scribe George Clayton Johnson (co-creator of Ocean’s 11 and Logan’s Run) and genre historians Bill Warren, Bob Burns and David J. Skal to Phantasm star Angus Scrimm and Oscar-winning makeup maestro Rick Baker and directors John Landis (An American Werewolf in London, Innocent Blood) and Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling). From out of town, Forry received birthday greetings from stop-motion animation pioneer Ray Harryhausen (Forry’s friend of seven decades, brought together by their mutual love of King Kong) and author, screenwriter and longtime friend William F. Nolan (Logan’s Run, The Norliss Tapes).

Forry also enjoyed a visit from the man who was perhaps his most significant professional partner, Jim Warren, who published the endlessly influential Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine that Forry edited for a golden quarter-century period (their first issue together was published in February 1958, with their final collaboration appearing in January 1983). Together those two (as Forry’s loved to say) “brought Halloween to the young boys of America twelve months a year,” directly inspiring young readers like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Stephen King, Tim Burton, Rick Baker, Dennis Muren, Peter Jackson, Frank Darabont, Billy Bob Thornton, Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons and Rob Zombie into becoming the next generation of writers, directors, actors, musicians and makeup and special-effects artists associated with the sci-fi, fantasy and horror genres.

“If Sling Blade was inspired by anything, it was the original Frankenstein film with Boris Karloff,” Billy Bob told the crowd when I interviewed him at the University of North Alabama earlier this year. “When I won a Saturn Award for Sling Blade, I walked up to Forry Ackerman and personally thanked him, because he and Famous Monsters of Filmland introduced me to those classic horror films. Forry was a major influence on my life."

Stephen King – who sent Forry his very first short story, “The Killer,” when he was only a teenager – expressed a similar sentiment: “When I first met Steven Spielberg, we didn’t talk about movies. We talked about monsters and Forry Ackerman.”

Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings filmmaker and loyal Famous Monsters reader Peter Jackson was one of Forry’s foremost fans. Forry made a cameo appearance in Jackson’s early horror film Dead Alive, and the director had hoped to include Forry in his affectionate remake of his favorite film, King Kong. Unfortunately, Forry had recently been injured in an accident in Scotland and wasn’t well enough to make the long, demanding trip to New Zealand. Jackson wrote a fond and insightful tribute to Forry for Harry Knowles’ pop-culture website, Ain’t It Cool News:

“He united a generation – more than one generation actually, and that’s obvious because whenever you read anybody’s tribute to Forry, you only have to substitute names and locations and it pretty much becomes your story,” Peter wrote. “Forry was a product of his time – a unique blend of the individual and world in which he lived. It could never happen again quite like that, and all of us who grew up with him share a very special experience that’s hard to describe.”

Many of Forry’s Hollywood friends and filmmaker fans saluted him over the years by casting him in sly cameo roles in their films. Most memorably, Forry appeared alongside Basil Rathbone in Curtis Harrington’s Queen of Blood, journeyed to the future in Ib Melchior’s The Time Travelers, lent his voice to the cult classic Equinox, encountered Baker’s mischievous simian in Landis’ Schlock, perused some back issues of Famous Monsters during the bookshop scene in Dante’s The Howling and survived a terrifying visit to the zoo in Jackson’ Dead-Alive.

Also for Landis (his most frequent on-screen employer), Forry popped up in the music video for Michael Jackson’s mega-hit Thriller (which featured the zombie “rap” by Forry’s friend Vincent Price) and demonstrated commendable executive skills as a futuristic President of the United States in Landis’ outrageous movie spoof, Amazon Women on the Moon.

Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, and Dana’s colleague David Kipen, literature director of National Reading Initiatives, are self-avowed Forry fans as well as lifelong Bradbury devotees. A few weeks ago they sent me a message that made me feel much better about the value of imagination (and humor) in our nation’s capital: “Forry’s warping influence on impressionable youth all over Los Angeles and around the world is pervasive and never-ending. ... His evil influence is strongly felt in the corridors of power a continent away.”

Once marked by Forry and Famous Monsters, no one was ever quite the same. Movie makeup artist Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London, Ed Wood, Mighty Joe Young) has earned a mantle’s worth of Oscar statues, but he insists that the biggest thrill of his life was seeing the “Rick Baker, Monster Maker!” article Forry published in an issue of Famous Monsters.

“Forry and his magazine inspired so many kids of my generation to get into the film business, and I am sure that the state of the art in make-up and effects wouldn’t be the same today if FM and that strange uncle that we all had didn't exist,” Rick wrote on Harry’s site. “Life will be different without 4SJ, but I will never forget him.”

David J. Skal (Hollywood Gothic, The Monster Show, Dark Carnival, Death Makes a Holiday) delivered his own fond tribute to Forry through the Classic Horror Film Board, and an article written by David Colton for USA Today:

“Forrest J. Ackerman gave me both my childhood and adulthood,” Skal observed. “In the early 1960s, there was no home video of any kind, and the only way to access the old classic monster films was to wait for them to sporadically show up on television, or, better yet, read Famous Monsters of Filmland, where the creatures came to life and cavorted every time you turned the page. Every eight weeks I haunted the local drugstore newsstand with rapt anticipation. His playful use of language and awful puns taught me more about writing than any English class.”

Farewell, my friend, and thanks for a multitude of precious memories. You leave us with big boots to fill.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Terry's initial comment online, after hearing of "Uncle Forry"'s death, was what I felt (and hundreds, even thousands of others felt, judging from the outpouring of sadness on the internet) upon hearing the sad news: "Just too many thoughts, too many memories, too many tears, all at the same time ..."

Monday, December 8, 2008


The respected, grizzled comic artist and writer, Frankenstein expert and wit (and my pal) hits another anniversary of his birth today! Go to Frankensteinia and wish him well!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Goodbye, Uncle Forry: Famous Monsters Speak

Today the sad news was announced that Forrest J Ackerman died late last night at age 92.

I'll be posting my own thoughts on the life of horror/sci-fi film fandom's Uncle Forry, but first I want to share remembrances graciously shared with me by Forry friends and fan favorites Verne Langdon and James Warren.

James Warren

This will be one funeral I never wanted to go to.

I always thought he would outlive me.

I thought he would outlive everyone.

And in a way he will.

They're going to remember his name long after we're gone.

A lot of people are saying he was a good man.

He was not a good man.

He was a great man.

His friends adored him.

His fans couldn't get enough of him.

People he never met idolized him.

His enemies hated him because he was a better man than they were.

During those golden years I was his publisher my emotions toward him ran from:

- Irritation
To amazement,
To admiration,
To fondness,
To affection,
To love.
True Love.

I was dazzled by his enthusiasm. Humbled by his abilities. Captivated by his style.
He was so good at what he did.

He was warm.

He was funny.

He was precious.

That's why it's so terribly hard to say goodbye.

In all the years I knew him I never once heard him raise his voice in anger. He always spoke - and sang - in a quiet voice.

He spoke softly. He spoke low. He would always speak low.

Like the song:

"Time is so old,
But life is brief.
Forry was gold,
And time - a thief.
We're late,
It's getting late,
The curtain descends,
Everything ends
Too soon,
Too soon ..."

Now he's with the great Talents he loved.

Al Jolson.
Marlene Dietrich.
Sammy Davis.

To them we say: "Welcome him. Enjoy him."

We did.

For ninety-two years.

Forrest J Ackerman, it's time to get into that space ship and fly.

Fly right over the Horizon. Just like you used to. And while you're up there, look down and see the million lights shining on Planet Earth.

Each one is a young reader you influenced.

Each one is a part of the Legacy you gave to us.

So long, Forry.

Have a good trip.

Have a great trip.

I'll see you later.

- Jim

Verne Langdon, who called FJA "a Man among men," remembers Forry:

On Thurday, October 30, Joe Moe, my wonderful friend and caregiver/protector/compadre/right hand to Forrest J Ackerman -- phoned to tell me he was bringing Forry home from the hospital and that Forry had asked to see me.

I was one of a small group he had either the energy or the desire to see one last time - and I rearranged my business and personal matters and headed down the coast to him, even as another dear friend of equally many years-plus -- James Warren -- was doing the very same, granting Forry's wish and flying a far greater distance than I drove, for the very special time, last time in this lifetime at least, to be near to our dear "EF-JAY". The first day (October 31) I visited him his front lawn had been transformed into a cemetery, complete with headstones and skeletal hands reaching up from the soil.

I was appalled at the sight.

Who could be so callouse as to play such a ghoulish prank? Who? Who, indeed! Forry. That's who. It was Halloween, after all, and he wanted the children to have "the mood" of his favorite holiday. In the living room window some of his most-favorite frightening faces stared out for every trick-'r-treater to see and be spooked by! That's why he'd asked to be brought home from the hospital - so he could watch the kids come up his driveway on Halloween night - past the headstones and famous monsters in his window - to his porch and front door for their treats.

No tricks? Sadly, the "trick" is on all of US, that "trick" being that that was Forry's final Halloween.

You're going to hear a lot from people who have no idea of "what killed Forry": Heart attack.



Truth be known, congestive heart failure was his Prince Sirki, along with old age and natural causes.

Plus he was tired of not "being able to taste" his food.

By his own woeful description to me, "I'll never be able to taste a hot dog again." What is life without being able to taste a hot dog? No life at all. And so, his hourglass was on "empty".

On October 31st when I saw him he could barely sign his name. He was kept warm by, of all things, a black blanket with little white dancing skeletons printed all over it. I told him I thought it was sick, and he was absolutely delighted with my sincerely-horrified reaction. Forry was intent on regaling me with stories about him and Jim and their bad-boy "exploits" in the Big Apple and elsewhere. He of course assaulted me with "Baby Face" as only Forry can sing it, and we whiled away the very precious time smiling, laughing (weakly), and more than once my tears rolled freely down my cheeks, as when he made great effort to tell me I was the "best" MC at any of his birthday bashes, "ever".

As I sat there with him, in the battered remnants of his once-massive-now-mini collection of magical monster and moonfan memorabilia, it became increasingly clear to me that for all his collection, Forry's most treasured, nay cherished "possessions" were not possessions at all, but rather accumulated favorite people nearest and dearest to him, his proteges, his Special ones, his feted ones, his Friends. Forry and Jim Warren made magazine history together, and so it is of course fitting that Jim Warren spent much of Forry's final days with him as well. I was with them for most of it as they sang Jolson songs together, laughed easily about times gone by, and loved one-another as always they did. I watched as long as my aching heart could take it, then I quietly stepped from the darkened room and cried like a baby. I was not the only one; Jim was affected the same way, as were others who paid their last living Respects.

FJA's work will survive him for all to see in back issues of his and Jim's magazines, on liner notes of my albums, in the fine script he penned for our "An Evening With Boris Karloff And His Friends" Decca LP album for all to hear, and so much more work elsewhere.

Forrest J Ackerman was a man among men, First in the field of One, an enigma both enigmatic and charismatic at the same moment, and - above ALL else - a true, genuine, bonifide, satisfaction-gay-ron-tee'd COLLECTOR, bigger and better than any other "collector" I've ever known.

In fact, Forrest J Ackerman was the "Grand Daddy" of them all, the prototype where all the other monster and sci-fi collectors actually learned to be "collectors."

Forrest J Ackerman: Once he was ours.

Now he belongs to The Ages.

Aloha, old Friend.


Monday, December 1, 2008

I'm a little red-faced...

And it isn't because of my now-empty bottles of Guzzler's Gin. No, just embarrassed that I haven't been posting odd news, horror-related items, WTF stuff and aspects of my strange life like I'm supposed to around here.

Well, did YOU have a good Thanksgiving? Jane and I had a new main dish this year: roast chupacabra with prickly pear stuffing. Yum!

You only have to watch out for the extra teeth in the back legs. (No one knows why they grow there, since they serve no purpose.) Bite down on one of those, and you can lose a crown!

We had a nice dinner, then settled down to watch the 1979 film The Changeling, a ghost story with George C. Scott and Melvyn Douglas. A good movie; very creepy at times. I recommend you follow the old tradition of ghost stories at Christmas time and watch any of the following spirit-filled flickers, presented in no particular order:

The Changeling (1979)

Contains some shocking and surreal moments; well-acted.

The Haunting (1963)

One of the spookiest moments in film history appears here.

The Orphanage (2007)

Unsettling with an unexpected 'happy ending.'

Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990)

A romantic, funny ghost story
; watch if you've seen Ghost-- it's better!

Beyond Tomorrow (1940)

A sentimental Christmas story of three ghosts who try to help a young couple they knew in life.

The website "Scary for Kids" shares their own list of "Best Ghost Movies"
here; some of them are probably too intense for anyone 12.


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