Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Scary Stories and Fun times.

{This is the evening news, let's go now to our field reporter
Renaldo Riviera, this is Renaldo Riviera on the banks
Of the stinky muddy river with Mr. R.V. Frisbee
Who claims to have witnessed something truly fantastic
Mr. Frisbee could you tell us what you saw}….”I saw Elvis in a U.F.O….Ray Stevens


I have fun with pop culture. UFO’s and the X-Files and Stephen King novels and Ancient Aliens and the Annunaki.  It’s kind of funny because some of my love for horror and the off beat comes from my country music loving Bible belt mother. I remember as a kid watching those old b-movie’s on Dialing for Dollars such as “The Colossal Man” and other sci fi  movies. When Christiopher Lee or Vincent Price horror movies were on at the drive in we were there. Dark Shadows? I rushed home to see the latest adventures of Barnabas and the Collins Family.


{Yeah, I's just hunkered down over there puttin' a stink wad
On my trot line and the short hairs just stood straight out
On the back of my neck and I turned around
And there's this big orange thing with them purple lights on it
Come swoopin' over them pine trees
And just hovered over the Winnebago there}


Old horror comics along with my super hero and Archie comics as a kid kept me entertained. I remember watching “The Haunting” in the original black and white as a kid. Scared the yell outta me. But, I loved it. I swear those statues in the garden moved.


{Inez run out, throwed a skillet at it and then she scissored
And run back in up on the hide-a-bed
'Bout that time a little trap door opened up
Little stair steps come down
And this little pink bald headed guy stuck his head out}


Yep, fun and getting scared combined. I needed a night light. But, at the same time I couldn’t wait for my next “scary fix.”


{Now I'd seen that movie 'Clost Encounters'
I just walked on over there big as Ike and looked up in there
And there he was, there who was?}

I saw Elvis in a U.F.O., sittin' there with Howard Hughes
I saw Elvis in a U.F.O., Jimmy Hoffa was in there too
I saw Elvis in a U.F.O., singin' them rhythm an' blues
An' Liberace was there an' he had on a pair of Imelda Marcos shoes


My family was also full of stories. Two that I remember well. One from my mother’s mother who was blued eyed and of Irish descent. One that reminded me of my Granddaddy who was Dutch-Cherokee decent.  My Grandmother told the story of an aunt who didn’t like her when she  was a little girl. So, as the story goes way back in the early part of the last century. The aunt died. My grandmother is playing in the big old house. She hears something on the stairs and looks up. There’s her aunt. The aunt says “Mozelle (which was my grandmothers name) I’ve been waiting a long time for this.” I was so young I don’t remember  the rest of the story. But, it was chillingly good. I was really scared and really anxious to hear it again.

Then the other story concerns the town of my birth. Gadsden, Alabama has a natural waterfall. It’s called Noccalula Falls. This is the way the adults in my family tell it:

A long time ago there were two tribes living in the area. One was a noble Cherokee tribe and the other was a more war like tribe. The Cherokee Chief had a beautiful daughter named Noccalula. She fell in love with a handsome brave of her own tribe. However, her father promised her to the son of the chief of the war like tribe to ensure peace for his tribe. Noccalula being in love was distraught. So, rather than marry a man she didn’t love. She cast herself off the rocks of the falls. But, late at night. When  the moon is shining and the night is still. You can hear her crying and if you look close you can see her sitting on a rock combing her long black hair as she weeps for her lost love.

See? Wonderful stories and a little bit of terror thrown in.


 “There is nothing in the dark that isn't there when the lights are on.”
Rod Serling


I saw my own ufo not so very many years ago. I’m in my backyard in Northport, Alabama. I see a craft going slowly across the sky. It’s a clear warm southern night and I look for the red lights of a plane and listen for the engine. I don’t see any red lights or hear anything at all. But, it just stops. Dead still. I think well an ordinary plane doesn’t just stop. So, it must be a helicopter. Except it isn’t making a sound and there are no landing lights. No, chop, chop, chop sound of propellers and it’s dark and most copters aren’t flying around the outskirts of Tuscaloosa/Northport at this time of night. I yell for Cindy but she’s in  the middle of a t.v. show and says “If they land or abduct you let me know.” Sheesh, everyone’s a skeptic. Anyway, all of a sudden it makes a zig zag pattern in the sky and moves off. What was it? Aliens? I’m skeptical. But, I keep looking in case it/they come back.


Nothing was a-gonna drive me away
When I seen something that give me the creeps
Had one big eye and two big feet
I stood right there and I did the freeze
It did the stroll right up to me
Made a noise with its feet that sounded like a drum
Said "You gonna be here when the morning comes?"
"Say yes, I'll be here when the morning comes
I'll be right here, I ain't gonna run
I bought this house, now I am boss
Ain't no haint's gonna run me off….Haunted House..Roger Miller? Not sure of the original writer or performer but I remember the song.


Haint is my grandparents North Alabama Appalachian word for ghost.  It’s what my grandmother said when she saw the ghost or “haint” of her aunt.

Anyway, I love it all. From the old giant ants and spiders of 50’s sci fi to the vampires and werewolfs of old Universal and Hammer Films. Nothing like a good scare. Nothing like a good story. Especially if the grownups swear it’s true. All true. The 10 year old in me loves it. As Uncle Stevie (my favorite author) says:

There’s something I want to show you, something I want you to touch. It’s in a room not far from here….Night Shift.

Not long until Halloween. I  can’t wait.  Did I ever tell you about the time I watched “The Haunting” adapted from the book by Shirley Jackson?



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Books and transitions.

I’ve heard so much political rhetoric lately. People calling each other horrible names and cursing each other out. People who have much more in common with each other than they ever will either political party or candidate. I have my opinion and I don’t mind stating it. But, I also am just tired of the back and forth. So, I thought I’d get away from that and do a blog on something that has entertained or enlightened or both  during my journey. I first started this blog as a way to express some of my feelings about life and spirituality. But, I also envisioned this cool blog where I would ramble about cool stuff like u.f.o.’s and movies and popular culture. But, that’s harder than I thought it would be and besides, I started blogging about things that were important in a more serious way with me. Things like faith and politics and ultimate reality.  That’s fine and I have enjoyed having a place to vent and I am honored that anybody, anywhere would do me the honor of reading my ramblings. But, today I was thinking about how little I read these days. 

 I grew up with books. I haunted the Gadsden Public Library and I even ordered books by mail. I had recurring dreams where I was about to read a giant library. Books were knowledge and fun and I had a life long love affair with books. But, somewhere in  my busy adulthood I lost the thread.  I read internet bytes and pull up my phone and read some articles.  I understand newspapers (which I devoured especially, the sports section) are pretty much dead as a real means of information. Except of course for online. But, I find myself reading on my Kindle Fire and that’s fine. I can just pull up a book and adjust the font and turn off or down the lights. Wonderful. Except, I rarely finish a book these days. I download them. I just don’t finish them. Especially fiction.  
But, I wanted to list some of the books that have entertained and changed my life. Seems like a positive thing to do. I have often said that I don’t see how you form a world view if you never have or never do read.  Thank God I read in my youth. One of the few things I did better as a young person than I do now.
Quick nod to some things that are not going to be listed below. Comic books:  I loved comic books. From Archie to Batman to Little Lulu to Superman.  Cowboy comics, horror comics, Mad Magazine, Creepy Magazine, Vampirilla Magazine.  Fun stuff. But, here are just a few books that I remember as having an effect on the way I see the world.

Salem’s Lot:  One of the earliest Stephen King novels and I think the first one that I read way back in the day.  First published in 1975 I came across this one at the mall bookstore in Gadsden, Alabama.  I loved horror novels, stories and movies.  I asked the clerk if there was a good horror novel to choose from. He said “Well, lot’s of people are beginning to read this Stephen King guy.”  The rest as they say is history. I’ve read Salem’s Lot around three times over the years. I’ve read the Dark Tower series two times and the final three books books in the series twice. The Stand twice, Dead Zone..twice.  I would come to read everything Stephen King wrote. I remember feeling guilty once because I was trying to “live right” which is southern for Christian fundi and Stephen King used an awful lot of “cuss words.”  Still, off and on I never could give him up.  I’m too old to be a fanboy these days. I would love to shake his hand and thank him for all the entertainment over the years. But, I have no desire to stand in line at a book signing for hours or to spend a small fortune on a special edition signed and numbered for future sell on ebay.
Salem’s Lot:  This novel is dated these days. The plot has boy meets girl, boy gets attacked by jealous boyfriend and in the end wins girl…temporarily at least. Those pesky walking dead folks make it hard to “keep” anything in this novel. I was living in Altoona, Alabama with my grandparents when this book came out.  Altoona is a little coal mining town and once the boom ended in the early part of the 20th century it still kept going somehow. Anyway, the depictions of the meanness and the sweetness of a small New England town reminded me of small southern towns.  One of the scariest and most heart breaking scenes I’ve read was at the grave of a young boy who was killed (although the townspeople didn’t know it quite yet) by the vampires. His daddy falls across the grave sobbing and it was  and still is one of the most effective scenes in a book. Thankfully, the whole book wasn’t that intense. There’s a town dump “manager” who lives at the dump and shoots rats for fun. A city worker with a good heart and a wonderful local teacher.  Great characters and a fun but somewhat gory story. These vampires don’t sparkle.  Honorable mention has to go to Ann Rice and Interview With the Vampire. That one also stayed with me as a young person. Especially the young girl who was turned into a vampire at around 13 years old. Eternally young but old and wise in mind. Not a main character but that’s what a good story does. It takes you in and makes you think about characters as people and not just the “main” hero of the book.
Semi Tough 1972…Dan Jenkins:  I read this some years after it first came out. Now you may have seen the mediocre movie they made of this one. Another one where the book far exceeds the movie. The movie tries to be cute and a little naughty. The book is politically incorrect and sexy, horny and vulgar. The main female in the movie is a cute actress named Jill Clayburgh. No offense and she is and was cute in her day. The main female in the book is out of this world incredible sexy, vulgar, beautiful, did I say incredible? The main male lead in the movie (correct me if I’m wrong since it’s an old movie now.) was Burt Reynolds. Handsome and glib and I understand he had his day. But, the guy in the book was horny and vulgar and over the top and hilarious and very, very politically and sexually and humorously incorrect.  I have recently found this  ebook on Amazon.  I hope todays guardians of political correctness haven’t gotten ahold of it. I intend to download it again and see how it holds up. Why is it in my top two? It’s not. I’ve liked some books better. But, this one stayed with me. This one made me laugh out loud and offended my Christian sensibilities.  But, it was funny and I was young and tended to follow my literature with a beer or several back then. So, now when I get back to it as a sober 59 year old adult will I still find it funny? I’ll let ya know.

Non Fiction:
People of the Lie 1983… M. Scott Peck
I came to this book at a time in my life when I was having young adult Dark Night of the Soul experiences when it came to religion. I was questioning if anybody with intelligence could believe in anything spiritual. I placed a lot of stock (always have if I’m honest about it) in education and letters after a persons name. So, here came a psychologist that actually took the concept of a spiritual reality seriously. Someone who wasn’t a preacher or a church goer who had to say and believe certain things. I had come to a place where I thought  most intelligent people were atheist or agnostic and I was neither and I was troubled.  People of the Lie tells of the authors experience with spiritual realty and evil as well as psychological illness. Truly a landmark book. I can’t remember a lot about it but I can remember it corrected my path a little. People could be intelligent and still have a spiritual belief. I didn’t have to give up.  I don’t know if it still holds up. It’s one of those books that was there when I most needed it and maybe it’s like a childhood toy. Cherished and remembered but not to be gone back to. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll run across it again and find out.

Out on a Limb 1983...Shirley Maclaine
Now I know. Shirley has become a punch line in wacky town jokes to some. Break out the tin foil hats here she comes again. Queen of the Nile and consort of Pharaohs. Everybody knows that everyone who believes in reincarnation thinks they were Napoleon or Cleopatra. Except they don't. Read Professor Ian Stevenson 20 Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation. Jim B. Tucker University of Virginia Division of Perceptual Studies. But, back in the day when I was searching and for personal reasons that I want go into right now considering reincarnation. Here came Shirley. An actress and before the age of blogs and internet and 24-7 news was still new and ESPN was still in it's infancy. this person had dated stars and hung out with royalty. This was an actress who was well thought of. No matter what you might think of her now. Check out a movie called "John Gofarb Please Come Home." 1965. Nothing to do with spirituality but Shirley is really pretty and young and at the top of her game.
 The Great Divorce 1945...C.S. Lewis
Imagine being in a dreary place and being so self righteous that you tell yourself your in heaven. In this story the narrator tells of a vacation from hell. The characters are taking a bus ride to the outskirts of a city. The city is actually heaven and the citizens of the city are trying to reach the people on the bus to tell them that if they can accept it. Grace is still available to them. Even in hell if they would just look up. But, of course they don't believe that. They don't even believe their in hell so why would they seek help? There are the self righteous preacher who says he knew all along that his harsh version of Christianity was the right one. So, he's certainly in heaven and sooner or later he will be elevated to the position his righteous life lived called for. It's an interesting book and it had an effect. I'm reading it slowly now on my Kindle having found it again in ebook format. This was a theme I had thought of as a young and even an older Christian. I just couldn't see God as ever failing. That's why the concept of fire and brimstone (apart from not sounding much like the Holy Spirit I pray too) ever really bothered me. Oblivion? Now, that's scary as hell. Pardon the pun. But, as long as I have "Me." then I have hope in spirit. Anyway, whatever your theological or spiritual thought. I recommend the concept of this one. It's thought provoking. I'm not trying to start an argument on theology. Whew, that sounds to much like trying to change peoples political opinion. Trust me. This is just my way of sharing some of the influences and books along my journey. I don't think one size fits all. 
"I keep my visions to myself." ...Stevie Nicks.
Good advice. So, do I Stevie.