Monday, May 15, 2017

See ya at the movies.


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 about  those 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 post  on 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 universe.

 

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 and  religion is, actually one of the first people I can remember sharing  the 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.

 

I like quiet and seclusion.  This house, I think,

offers that…Jonathan Harker

 

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 beautiful  bossomy 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 of  the 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 drag  the 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 Colossal Man.

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…..

God God," Eleanor said, flinging herself out of bed and across the room to stand shuddering in a corner, "God God—whose hand was I holding?

 

See ya at the movies.

Peace.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Rock and Roll Never Forgets.

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. I  don’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 Zeppelin.

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 Ronstadt.

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 Roll.
 
Come back baby
Rock 'n Roll never forgets
Said you can come back baby
Rock 'n Roll never forgets...Bob Seger
 
Peace.
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Dog eat dog world.


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 a  tail 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 I  think “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 and  the 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 go  to 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 people  3 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.

 

Peace!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Thinking about Easter


Thinking about Easter

 

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 across  the 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 care for.

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 the world.

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 are  two 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 claiming  that 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 worhiped.

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 fails.

So from this heretical sinner and believer in tales to you I say:

Happy Easter!

Peace.

Friday, March 31, 2017

5 Songs




 
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 Williams:

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 right  through it. I can hear that old train whistle and imagine a beer soaked night of youthful angst.

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill
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 star
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.”

 

Lyin Eyes…Eagles

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.

 

Slow Ride…Foghat

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. Link below.

Peace.



Jumpin' Gene Simmons - Haunted House (original 45 rpm)


I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry