I first started this blog as a way to talk about pop culture
and my varied interest in books, movies, music and things that go bump in the
night. I rarely have written aboutthose
things. I tend to talk about life and faith and things that are of immediate
concern. But, every once in a while I like to poston things that are “out there.” I always
loved horror. Books, comics, movies. I also have always enjoyed off the wall
subjects such as ufo’s . I’m highly skeptical of U.F.O’s but I still enjoy the
pop culture that goes along with them. Also, I’ve had a few incidents in my own
life that I really can’t explain. So, who knows? The cosmos is infinite and
some people think that everything that can happen will happen in another
I’m Dracula and I welcome you to my house…Christopher Lee
My love of horror comes from an unlikely source or at least
it was encouraged by an unlikely source. My mother who is very conservative and
very much a product of her generation andreligion is, actually one of the first people I can remember
sharingthe off beat movies with. If a
vampire or horror “Dusk till Dawn” movie
marathon came on at our neighborhood drive in we were there. Christopher Lee
and Vincent Price and Boris Karloff. I remember
the old Dialing for Dollars afternoon movie on local T.V. and the old Colossal
Man or Monster movies would come on and even though we didn’t share a whole lot
of interest that was something we would watch. I got in so much trouble once
for trying as a child to make a James Bond movie the focus of an evening.
Really wasn’t my fault. I was coming into my own and I saw a commercial with a
Bond Beauty. Anyway, that’s a whole nother story.
I always loved the Rebel Drive In. That was in our
neighborhood in Walnut Park/Gadsden, Alabama. My sister and I would put on our
p.j’s and my mother and step dad would warm up the car and off we would go the
few miles if that many to the drive in. Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and a
host of horror stars and starlets. Get a Chilly Dilly giant dill pickle or a
hot dog from the concession stand and here we go. If it was summer take a lawn
chair. If winter then at least it would be an Alabama winter which although it
can be cold it isn’t always frigid.
like quiet and seclusion.This house, I
I remember a scene where Dracula was finally caught out in
the sun. Living Technocolor! I saw his body actually start to age and crumble
and gloriously turn to dust right on the big screen. My young eyes wide and
shoving popcorn in my mouth and guzzling soda (coke, in the south back then it
didn’t matter which brand. It was all called coke.”I saw a bevy of hissing beautifulbossomy girls that were “Brides of Dracula” I
saw bright red technocolor blood as Dracula bit into the neck of his fem fatale
victim.I loved it. I enjoyed the small
screen dialing for dollars movies with the black and white desert as the corny
high pitched sounds ofthe 50’s and 60’s
U.F.O.’s came into view. The square jawed scientist named Rick or Rock or Steve
or Paul. The swooning fem fatale named Ann or Carol or Joan would be joined by
the assistant scientist who would either be giving his life in the end or
comedy relief or both.
I would find old horror comics in stores and immerse myself
in ghost and graveyards and lurid tales of vengeful victims returning to
dragthe killers off to their just
rewards. I would read horror stories ordered from my Weekly Reader at Walnut
Park Elementary. But, noting quite compared to those giant screen memories of
movies that were already old. Played out on the drive in screen.
Dr. Paul Lindstrom….Now, the
reason for this is rather technical, Carol, but to give you a simplified
layman's explanation, it might be explained that, since the heart is made up of
a *single* cell for all practical purposes, instead of millions of cells like
the rest of the organs of the body, it's reacting in an entirely different
manner to this unknown stimulus or forces behind this whole thing….The Amazing
Manning…Perhaps it isn't I who's growing,
but it's everyone who's shrinking!..The Amazing Colossal Man.
"No live organism can continue for
long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and
katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself
against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood for eighty years and
might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met
neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily
against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked
alone."….Shirley Jackson “The Haunting of Hill House.
My absolute favorite all time horror
story made into film. Not the so called remake of the late 90’s. No, I’m
talking the stark black and white early 1960’s version. It scared the yell out
me as a child. Still holds up today. But, that one deserves it’s own blog.
Maybe this coming Halloween.
Finally, one of the best lines of a “horror
movie” and I think it’s in the book too. But, you have to see it to truly
understand the sheer scariness of it…..
Eleanor said, flinging herself out of bed and across the room to stand
shuddering in a corner, "God God—whose hand was I holding?
I remember holding you while you sleep Every day, I feel the tears that you weep Looking out of my lonely gloom, day after day Bring it home, baby, make it soon I give my love to you...Badfinger
I play guitar. Well, to be honest I plunk and peck and at
times put a tune together that actually is recognizable if you heard it you,
might say “oh yeah I know what you’re playing." I play piano but not as well as I
play guitar. My right hand knows what it’s doing for the most part when it
comes to hunting the notes. But, the left hesitates in finding the chords. Anyway,
I’m not a world class musician and I don’t play often where anybody else can
hear me.But, like most people my life
has been defined by the music I grew up with. I always say the Eagles wrote the
soundtrack of my youth.But, as a child
my mother sang country music all over the house. Now, by country I don’t mean
Florida-Georgia Line silliness or the other pop country you hear today. I mean
actual Country Western. George Jones and Loretta Lynn and Hank Williams and
Patsy Cline and Porter Wagner and Buck Owens. Kitty Wells and Tammy
Wynette.My step father had an old
Martian Guitar and he would wap out the rhythm.
I hated it. No, really I did. Idon’t now. Now it’s nostalgic to me. Now, I
have learned to appreciate Patsy Cline and understand that Hank Williams was an
absolute poet and genius. I love Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings and Emmylou
Harris and Dolly Parton. But, not then. That was the music of my parents. The
music of dances on Saturday nights when I would be going to my Grandparents
house because I sure didn’t want to attend the square dance up on the mountain
in Boaz or Albertville, Alabama or the fairgrounds in Attalla. But, I bet ya I
can ( I won’t, but I can) sing and play or chord almost any country song you
can name from about 1962 until 1970 or so. George Jones, Hank Williams, Conway
Twitty, Tammy Wynette. It was in my blood but it wasn’t my music. My music was
on late at night when I would have my radio on in my room and WLS out of
Chicago would come pouring out of the magic box. James Taylor and Alice Cooper.
BadFinger and Areosmith. Rolling Stones and the Beatles. During the day the
Mighty 690 in Birmingham.
Later as I came to my teens in the 70’s I would gravitate to
Foghat and Linda Ronstadt. Nazareth and Jackson Browne. The 70’s had a great
mix of Motown and Southern California sound on the same stations. I know people
my age can remember a station in Birmingham, Alabama. I can’t remember the call
letters now but I can just name the format and people will say “Oh Yeah, the
greatest rock station ever!” They played Album Rock! The complete album of your
favorite band and they would take request throughout the week. The DJ would
come on in that smooth late night voice and call out the order like a waiter.
Tonight we have the latest FleetwoodMac followed by Houses of the Holy and the new Nazareth. Some SuperTramp and Wet
Willie. We have some ZZ Top and Jackson Browne and later some Dead and deep
cuts from the Stones. We have some Ronstadt and Jackson Browne. Followed by an order of Yes and some
Foghat Also Rumors and Hair of the Dog. Some more Black Sabbath and
These were full uncut and no commercial complete albums and
it went on all night long. That little station in Birmingham was even written
up in The Rolling Stone! Which in those days was The source for all things cool
and happening in music and cool entertainment. Doctor Hook even sang “Cover of
the Rolling Stone” as a humorous homage to it.
I grew up and as I got a little older I discovered KISS and
loved Hair of the Dog by Nazareth. I heard the Eagles and felt I had never heard
better harmonies and the songs they sang seemed to be exactly what I was
feeling. I discovered Pony Millers and Marijuana and the boy finds girl, girl
finds other guy, boy drowns in beery smoky rock and roll night full of angst. But,
hey it was crazy times and I was a little lost sheep to say the least. But,
Eagles and Linda Ronstadt and Foghat understood. I also discovered southern
rock of course. Marshall Tucker and Molly Hatchett and Wet Willie and The
Outlaws. But, the greatest Southern Rock band of them all was and is and will
always be Lynyrd Skynyrd. Simple Man and Freebird. I’ve heard Sweet Home
Alabama so much over the years that I really get tired of hearing it. But, I
tap my feet and sing along every time it comes on anywhere in my hearing. I
hate/love that song.
I also started to really get into Willy Nelson and Waylon
Jennings and Leon Russell. Jessie Coulter and Emmylou Harris and Linda
But, music is a funny thing with me as I get older. I don’t
listen to it constantly any more. I find my self bored if I am sitting around
and just have a bunch of songs playing. I enjoy playing guitar or piano or
trying to play. But, just to sit around and listen? Not so much. But, every
once in a while it hits me. I put in some Queen or Styx and crank it up. I’m
taken back to my youth. I can almost reach up and brush the hair out of my eyes
again. I can almost see that certain girl walking down a hot paved road in
rural Alabama wearing a halter top and shorts and my mind goes back and sixty
years become 16 again. That’s the power of music. That’s the power of Rock and
So, I’m walking down the road after a rain and a person
comes driving a little fast and splashes mud everywhere. “ Doggone it” I
yell.“Why can’t people be more like
dogs?” That’s what we need. More dogs and less people. Well I look and see this
incredibly big cat looking at me. This thing was at least as big as a mid sized
collie. Now, it’s been over 30 years since I did anything other than an
occasional beer. ;-) But, it’s like I’m having a flashback. I’ll have what he’s
smoking I thought to myself. Then I started to laugh and I don’t know why. It’
wasn’t that funny but I started to really laugh and couldn’t stop. the cat does an Alice in Wonderland fade and instead of a big grin the last thing I see is a pair of big green cat eyes. Weird. I'm freaked but I figure maybe it's a flashback to my misspent youth. I'll talk with my doctor about it.So, I get home and turn on ESPN and kind of
drift off with the mindless, breathless chatter of the sports world in the background.
I then decide after
my nap that I feel like driving to town and since it’s my day off I’ll drop by
Panera Bread and get some coffee and my favorite, a Blueberry Scone. Well, I’m going to my car and my neighbor who’s
a nice guy. Divorced,has his teenagers
over about every two weeks and a devout church going person. Just an all around
nice guy. Anyway, he comes running out and he’s saying “Hey,hey, hey.” So, I
think somethings wrong and he comes behind me and starts to sniff my butt. “What
the hell?” I say and I push him away. “What is wrong with you?” Well, he looks
at me and I hear a low growl in his throat and he actually snaps the air and
backs away from me. I swear if a man had atail it would have been between his legs. So, I’m really worried now
about his mental health. So, I decide that I will call 911 from my cell on my
way to the coffee shop. I know, I know. Why am I leaving if I think my neighbor
is having a break down? Well, he’s not dying right? I need my coffee and I work
hard and I’m going to relax with a scone and the Bleacher Report app on my
phone at the coffee shop.
Okay, I admit it. Out
of site out of mind. So, I didn’t call anyone. Besides, I mind my own business.
So, I pull up in town and get out of my car and all of a sudden this nice
looking young lady comes wiggling (it’s the best way I can put it) over to me.
Now, I’m not a pervert and I’m old enough to be her fath…uhh, older
brother.But, she comes up and sniffs my
manhood and actually gives my neck a bite. Not too hard but enough to leave a
mark. Well, I see this cop looking at us and Ithink “Okay, he’s going to come over and at least see which of us is the
aggressor. Right? Well, he comes running over and hikes his leg up in the air
and I actually see his pants getting wet from his crotch down his left leg.
OMG! What is going on? Then a group of people start to run over and a young
dude actually jumps up on me and takes a bit of my ear. Then the cop and the
dude and the young woman are yelling at each other. “Hey, Hey, Hey,Hey.” They just
won’t stop and I find myself running into the coffee shop.
Well, I look out andthe cop is now grabbing the young woman from behind right in public and
she turns and playfully nips his chin and then he…. Well, never mind. I can’t
go there. Lets just say at this point the world is insane.
So, I goto the
counter of the coffee shop and I ask the nice older lady behind the counter if
she has called the police about the situation out side. While I’m talking I
feel something at my butt and there are five people3 women and 2 men sniffing my butt and
growling at each other. All of a sudden there’s a movement beside me and I see
another couple who are making the cop and the young woman outside look like a
Sunday School class in comparison.
Then I look over and the whole place is bedlam. People are yelling
at the top of their lungs. “Hey, HEY,HEY,HEY” They are biting each other and
snarling and humping and sniffing and it’s bedlam.
I close my eyes and just start to slide down to the floor.
That’s when I hear the sports announcer in the background saying something
about game 7 of the NBA finals and how the Cubs were the victim of the first no
hitter of the year….A Dream! It was a dream. Thank God. Whew.
So, I go to the bathroom mirror and I look fine except for a
red mark on my neck that looks like…Nah, it can’t be.
Anyway, I’m glad I’m off and can relax. It’s a dog eat dog
world out there.
I haven’t been a fan of Easter since I was a kid. Easter
Baskets and dressing up and going to church. Easter egg hunts and the cool time
(she wouldn’t agree but she most likely won’t read this) my little sister got
sick on Easter eggs and spewed those suckers acrossthe room and all over her pillow.Yeah, I was a bratty older brother and after
my first concern and seeing she was okay. The “wow, that was kind of cool older
brother reaction started up.” I would get a new “Easter hat” every year. Yeah,
even as a child I loved fedora’s. Go figure. But, as I got older and even when
I went to church I didn’t like going on Easter. It was Amateur Hour seeing all
those folks that never came to church fill it full one Sunday out of the year.
Casual dress not an option on that day. The sermon was hyper and dramatic with images
of Jesus on a cross and how low down and nasty all us lowly sinners were in the
sight of God. Then the good news as he rose again and if the minister did it
right? Not a dry eye in the house.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not making light of the
crucifixtion or the resurrection. I’m just saying that knowing exactly what the
sermon is going to be and exactly how it was going to play out made me hesitant
about going.Still, that’s just the
churchy part of Easter and that is the only part of it that I really didn’t
I was at the cemetery one day in Altoona, Alabama visiting
the graves of my maternal grandparents who pretty much raised me off and on. I
heard “Happy Easter” in my mind and felt peace and a knowing that they were not
in the ground. The body had gone back to the earth but they had already experienced
an eternal Easter.
I don’t do much church these days. I met my wife at the
Gadsden, Alabama Vinyard Christian Fellowship and we went there until we moved
out of state in 1999/2000. The people there became like family and I
experienced great spiritual awakening there. I wouldn’t trade it. I don’t know
that we would fit in there anymore. But, that’s okay. It was part of the
journey and it was beneficial to me and to Cindy and I wouldn’t trade it for
I have read the bible more than once in my life. I have
certain scriptures that come back to me in times of stress to give me comfort
and in times of comfort to give me gratitude. However, I see so much preaching
at people about what the bible says these days. The problem is the people
wanting to make the bible the “law of the land” misuse it. Most of the
evangelical and charismatic preachers and bible thumpers have no knowledge of
how the bible came to be. No real understanding of the language it was
originally handed down or the context of the political and spiritual and religious
environment it came out of in different eras. Yet, they repeat the “Word” the
same way it was repeated to them. With itching ears to hear what makes them
feel justified in their judgement and anger and political world view.
If you want to make a fundamentalist Christian good and mad
at ya? Just dare to say that God is love and therefore you have a real problem
believing that love would ever allow a place like hell to be eternal torment
for the “sin” of not reciting the sinners prayer. I know certain Christians
these days that would fight you to the death in defense of the conservative
republican party and the concept of an angry old man in the sky burning sinners
forever and ever. But, mention feeding the poor or accepting refugees or
healing the sick? OMG! What are you a socialist commie pinko that hates
America? Anyway, that’s a blog for another time. This one is about Easter.
There aretwo things
I do miss about church. If I ever do go back to Gadsden I will more than likely
go back to the Vinyard (at least until I decide or they decide that my little
liberal butt shouldn’t be there) One is Communion. Despite the snarky atheist silly
and simplistic reaction claimingthat
Christians are cannibals and idiots for believing a wine and wafer is the blood
and body of Christ. One of the most holy and awesome things I have ever
experienced is that moment when the wafer is on my tounge and the juice or wine
follows and I give myself wholly in my own spirit to the Holy. To that which can’t
be put in a box or physically described as standing over there in the corner.
It’s awesome and I miss it.
The second thing I miss about the Vinyard in particular is
the worship. I miss being able to just drift off in my own meditation between
me and God while the congregation around me and the worship band on stage
ignore me and allow me to just stand or close my eyes or put my hands up or in
my pockets and just be in the presence of the Holy as I understand the presence
in my life. Hard to explain but I miss it.
Easter: I have to admit some things that will make some
Christians mad and some worry for my soul. But, as my mother always says “God
already knows me, why should I care what you think?” I have very real doubts
about virgin births and physical bodies raising from the dead and going to a realm
up in the sky somewhere sitting beside an angry old man and begging him every
minute not to destroy his poor creation in a fit of wrath and rage.I really don’t get into that at all these
days and can’t say I believe it no matter how many people quote the bible at me
and turn blue in the face trying to make me think such a “god” as that is to be
But, what do I feel about Easter? First when I die it wouldn't
surprise me at all if Jesus is the only God I see. The incarnation of the holy
and the very essence of who and what we are becoming. On the other hand it won’t
surprise me at all if the Holy (what we call God) is so much more than
Christianity and any other religion. That we are evolving eternally just to
begin to know the reality of what we call God or Ground of Being or any other
word or concept for ultimate truth and reality you need to use. I kind of lean
towards that as a matter of fact.
So, knowing at this point I sound like a very liberal
bordering on heretic to some Christians and a fool to some secularist I do want
to say this about Easter. About Christ. I find the concept of going in to a
burning building to rescue a loved one to be heroic. To rescue anyone for that
matter. But, to go in to a burning building knowing that you can’t rescue them.
Knowing that they will die and if you go in you will die with them. That’s
Love. That’s what the incarnation of Christ is to me. Pure Love and love never
So from this heretical sinner and believer in tales to you I
In this time of anger and politics and religious upheaval.
In this time of some little old bald fat man jumping in front of me every time
I look in the mirror. I wanted to make a list of my all time favorite songs.
Well, I thought and came to the conclusion that I really can’t do that.
Depending on my mood and era and other factors it tends to change and become
very flexible. So, here are 5 songs I really like and the reasons why.
I’m So Lonesome I could Cry…Hank
Now, I’m not a big country fan. I
grew up on it. My mother sang it constantly and played it and my step father
played a Martin Guitar and they went to Saturday Night Square Dances in my
youth. But, young rebel that I was I decided at an early age that I hated it.
Later on I would grow up self teach myself the guitar and having been exposed
to Willy and Waylon and the Boys decided Country wasn’t so bad after all. But,
why this song?
It paints a picture. I’m southern
and I can almost feel the Alabama night. My aunt and uncle lived in Altoona,
Alabama. Small town and the railroad ran rightthrough it. I can hear that old train whistle and imagine a beer soaked
night of youthful angst.
Hear that lonesome
He sounds too blue to fly
The midnight train is whining low
I'm so lonesome I could cry
Also, the following line
brings a hot summer evening in the south to my mind.
The silence of a falling
Lights up a purple sky
And as I wonder where you are
I'm so lonesome I could cry
So, yeah. Hank Williams was
a poet and an artist that for me is transcendent. I love the song and for a
different take on it I recommend a listen to Keb Mo. He does a brilliant bluesy
cover linked below. Either way. It’s classic.
Midnight Train to Georgia…Gladys
Knight and the Pips.
Cindy and I have an old friend
from Colorado who used to say: Life is like riding the bus. At the end you just
get off. I guess he didn’t know after that. I don’t either and this isn’t the
post where I do the “what I believe” thing. I love the rhythm and the voice and
the harmony of Gladys Knight and the Pips. I want this one played at my
funeral. No, I’m not being cute. I love the thought of just getting on that
train and “Going back to find. A better place and Time.”
This is another one that reminds
me of that old teenage angst. It has it all. Being held by her lover while she
thinks of an old love. Having a “Lil Sometin” to help her with the pangs of
memory. Looking at the years gone by and wondering how it all got this crazy.
Not my absolute favorite song of the Eagles. But, the lyrics and the harmony
and the story of the “human condition” makes it one of those that stands the
test of time.
18 or 19 years old. Stoned and
drunk and that’s no way to go through life. But, for a minute and for a time in
my life this song was my anthem. Pony Millers and beautiful youthful blonde
memories. I might be old and there are some things I wouldn’t do again. But,
this song and it’s memories are things I’d do again on some level. I also have
a present day experience with this old rock classic from my misspent youth. I’m
on Mcfarland Blvd in my ole rattle trap pick up. But, that thing has always had
a superior sound system. Wish I could say the same about other aspects of a
Ford Pickup. But, I digress. Anyway, my little aging butt pulls up on a hot
Tuscaloosa afternoon next to a young African American (please folks. This isn’t
about race but I know the way our society is right now.) this is about youth
and age and it’s funny. He has rap going and it’s at a pretty good level. I put
Slow Ride on and turn it up. My little truck is rockin (which at it’s age isn’t
exactly a unique experience.) I notice the young man look over. He can’t hear
his rap over the old man’s music. He starts to nervously inch up so he doesn’t
hear the rock drowning out the rap. Cost of classic old CD? $5 at the bargain
bin. The agitation of a youth having to pull up to drown out a little old white
honkeys music? Priceless. J
Haunted House…Johnny Fuller
Now, I don’t know who Johnny
Fuller is or was. But, according to the interwebs and Google he wrote this
song. I more than likely heard it as a child as a cover by a guy (who I also
don’t know even though he has the same name as the bass and leader of KISS)
Jumpin “Gene Simmons” It’s not one of my all time favorite songs. But, it is
memorable. It’s about a haunted house and I always think of the title as “Ain’t
no Haint gonna run me off.”This one is
fun. Also, I first heard the word haint as a child from my North Alabama
Grandparents on my mother’s side of the family. Turns out Haint is a appalachian
term for “ghost.” The haint drank the hot coffee right from the pot. Fun stuff.