Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Xmas Orgy Begins

Well, I managed to survive Black Friday by the simple expedient of not leaving the apartment even once (I took the day off from work). I'm not big on shopping anyway and the whole concept of Black Friday gives me a severe case of the howling fantods, so I was glad to get a little validation via Gizmodo: "10 Reasons We're Doomed: Black Friday Edition" (I see the Wal*Mart Experience reached new lows as well).

I'm all for shopping online where the only person I'm in competition with is Sid the Cat (Sid believes my lap, chair, keyboard, and computer mouse--screw the overpriced catnip-filled dingus under the sofa--are his exclusive playthings and will run roughshod over me to get at 'em); unfortunately, when it comes to certain people I lack inspiration (and fundage).

Enter Boing Boing--A Directory of Wonderful Things and their Holiday Gift Guide:

"Well, it's coming up to the holidays and I've started to make my list and fill it in. As a starting point, I went through all the books and DVDs and gadgets I'd reviewed on Boing Boing since last November and looked at what had been the best-sellers among BB's readership, figuring you folks have pretty good taste! As I was taking a walk down old review lane, I realized that many of you would probably be interested in seeing these lists too, so I've turned them into a series of blog-posts that I'll be sticking up, one per day, for the next week or so."

Things I wouldn't know about otherwise, some overlap among categories, and heavy on the bookish side (but that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned!).

Part One: Kids (less for kids, more for 'tweens 'n' teens)
Part Two: Fiction
Part Three: Gadgets and Stuff
Part Four: Comics
Part Five: Nonfiction

Some highlights:
Baby's First Mythos, "an ABC/123 picture book for kids that uses the mad, horrific imagery of HP Lovecraft to help you bring up your littlun right."

Gloom: The Game of Inauspicious Incidents and Grave Consequences: "The really interesting thing about Gloom is the story-telling aspect of game play. Though not required, when you play an event card such as "Terrified by Topiary," you may explain how this event occurs. Each character develops as more and more event cards are placed on it, so the character’s life story becomes increasingly unfortunate and, well, abnormal."

Laika: "Nick Abadzis's graphic novel "Laika" is a haunting, sweet biography of Laika, the first dog in space, who died five hours after she was launched on Sputnik II."

St. Trinian's: The Entire Appalling Business: "Before St Trinians was a (ho-hum with some bright moments) big-screen movie, it was a series of Charles Addams-esque cartoons by Ronald Searle."

Magic and Showmanship: A Handbook For Conjurers
: "I discovered the book thanks to James D Macdonald, who uses it as a teaching aid in the Viable Paradise science fiction writing workshop, held annually on Martha's Vineyard.."

Uranium Ore. One of those WTF? moments. For an entertaining evening read the comments on

Despite the fact it comes in a can
It is not cat food.

Does anyone know if there's a cure for sudden tentacles? The cat's huge and well, doesn't really look much like a cat anymore. She still answers to Muffin though. However, if she rubs against my bare leg one more time her new name will be calamari.

Needless to say, there'll be more later.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Ashamed... So Ashamed...

...of how funny I find this YouTube video:

Almost as funny as...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Uncle Forry!

That's Forrest J (no period--the "J" didn't stand for anything) Ackerman for those not in the know, founder of the near-mythic Famous Monsters of Filmland and hero (if not Living Gawd) to hundreds of thousands of monster-crazed baby boomers:

When (somewhat predatory publisher James Warren) came out to my home and saw that, indeed, I did have 35,000 stills, the next thing I knew I was sitting at a dining room table with an old mechanical typewriter, and he was sitting opposite me with a sign which read, "I'm 11½ years old and I am your reader. Forry Ackerman, make me laugh!"*

Though, really, the point wasn't to make us laugh; the point was to give us ready access to the information about MONSTERS! and MONSTER MOVIES! and MONSTER MOVIE STARS! and MONSTER MERCHANDISE! with which we of a particular disposition so desperately wanted to immerse ourselves, incredibly difficult to do in those pre-cable, pre-satellite dish, pre-Web, pre-videotape, pre-DVD days. Hell, we counted ourselves astoundingly lucky if we got to see Shock! once a week (and if you remember Shock! your age is showing).

Forry took care of us for many years.

He's not doing well these days and won't be around much longer, but hey! He made it to 92 and according to the Classic Horror Film (Message) Board is in good spirits (I'd make a Ackermanesque pun here but it doesn't seem particularly appropriate).

If you'd care to send him a belated birthday card or some good wishes here's his address:

4511 Russell Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027

No period.

And some useless personal trivia--this...

...was the first copy of Famous Monsters I ever owned (1964) which I got after I wheedled fifty cents out of my poor, indulgent Dad one night in a local drugstore (for the record, People's Pharmacy, "The Little People's," in Waynesboro, VA).

* Through Time And Space With Forry Ackerman, Part V

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Shrunken Heads and Vincent Price--Again!

Remember my last Halloween Countdown post, Vincent Speaks!, where I referenced the wonderful Shrunken Head Apple Sculpture Kit? Well, this Monday Boing Boing posted a pic of one for sale at a Brooklyn flea market. Check out the bonus link:

"Imagine little kids back then sitting on Santa's lap at the mall, innocently asking for Vincent Price's Shrunken Head for Christmas. I dunno, it probably came cheap enough, but I don't think any mothers would get full of Yule tide cheer sticking that thing under the tree. 'Well honey, looks like Santa brought you just what you asked for. A tricycle, army men, and the means to forge a shrunken head without learning the ancient art of voodoo.' "

I'm thinking I should add this to the annual Xmas List.

Well, Dammit! George C. Chesbro Died...

George C. Chesbro, one of the coolest writers you've never heard of, died Tuesday, November 18 and I'm very sad.

Lifted from the MetaFilter article which lifted it from somewhere else:

"Out of nowhere, believing that it is good for the soul to have one insane idea a day, whether you need it or not, the notion of a dwarf private detective came to me [...] I considered such a character bizarre and absurd, unworkable and unpublishable, and thus a waste of time to spend any length of time trying to develop it. I kept searching, but the damn dwarf just wouldn't go away. [...] It was to be a satire. Halfway through, I discovered a key to the man's character was a simple quest to be taken seriously, for dignity. That touched me, and I started over again, this time doing it "straight" (or as straight as I'm able). I gave Mongo dignity, and in return he gave me a career. The diverse background was, I thought, necessary in order to properly equip him in a 'world of giants'."

You read right--his series detective was a former circus acrobat with dwarfism, a black-belt in karate, and a professor of criminology at a New York City university. In less capable hands such a hero would be just... ludicrous... but Chesbro is not blowing smoke when he talks about "a... quest... for dignity," which is the beauty of the Mongo novels and short stories.

He writes... uh, wrote... purty, too.

In 1990 I was engaged in the relentless (and ultimately fruitless) pursuit of an attractive woman I met at a friend's wedding, a bridesmaid, in fact (and later she would refer to herself as "the Bridesmaid from Hell," which was more prophetic than I realized). In the course of a few weeks I decided she was no less than my soulmate: she loved Halloween, trashy horror movies (claimed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 was one of the funniest things she'd ever seen), Charles Addams/Gahan Wilson cartoons, decently-written splatterpunk stories, Tango & Cash, Vicks NyQuil...

...and the novels of George C. Chesbro.

I'd never heard of him, so she bought me an autographed hardcover copy of Bone as an introduction and after devouring the damn thing in a single night I was hooked, tracking down previous novels, anxiously awaiting the new ones, scouring the local libraries and used bookstores for whatever was out of print... you know, my usual OCD-tainted routine.

"Noir brutality, occult tension, detective science... bizarre villains," "mathematics and mystery." Great stuff.

The Bridesmaid decided my obsessive nature was a bit too much to deal with and so she moved on to greener, saner pastures, leaving me heartbroken but with a decent pile of reading material in which to lose myself.

Soon thereafter, Chesbro disappeared during the great "let's-dump-our-marginal-mid-list-authors" purge of the '90s and all his books went out of print until he and his wife formed their own publication company.*

And now he's dead and I'm very sad.

Check out his website, check out this great Bookslut article, "Short, Sharp, Shock: The Work of George C. Chesbro," and light a candle for one of the great underappreciated genre writers of our time.

*This happened to a number of writers I dearly loved-- Lewis Shiner comes to mind and, fortunately, like Chesbro, he secured the rights to his work and began self-publishing.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Back By Popular Demand!

Since a couple of people have asked, to wit:

"WHERE ARE YOU???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????"
(The Mighty Wayne)


"What, hath the (Ferg)-o-blog gone tits up.? Nay! Pray say not thus! (by the way, how long does it take you to produce a blog entry?) Hope your day was wonderful."

The short answer is that Real LifeTM, as it so often does, has been interfering with my Fantasy and Intarweb life, which sucks because I much prefer my Fantasy and Intarweb life. Take work, for example. We're currently shorthanded and will be for some time since the Powers That Be (your Gummint) refuse to acknowledge that one either matches the workload to the available staff or increases staff to match the workload. In practical terms this translates into lots of involuntary overtime and ol' G. W. coming home so tired and worn-out and brain-dead that all he wants to do is watch NCIS (love that Abby!*) and House (love a good curmudgeon!) reruns until it's time for bed. Unfortunately, he also has to do other things, normal things, like, I dunno, feed the cat, brush the cat, find the missing cat toys, scoop the kitty litter box, shop for groceries, gas up the car, cook dinner, wash clothes, wash dishes, take out the trash, take the occasional bath, shave the whiskers from off my thorny hide...**

Okay, so there's a bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder involved as well; I'm drag-assing all over the place. This, too, shall pass, but not unlike a kidney stone.

Take-home message: like death, taxes, and Herpes, I'm still here!

* Last night while watching Abby go through her paces I text-messaged a bunch of people with "Why are there no half-naked Goth girls running wild in my apartment?"

Big Gay Cliff: "'Cause I don't have naked skater boys in mine. Next silly question...?"

And then this exchange with Sarah:

Sarah: i dunno. you should ask Jeffie.
G.W.: Why Jeffie?
Sarah: cuz she's the closest thing to a goth girl i know
G.W.: There's Cara. You think we could get the two of them to do a lesbian porno together? The overhead would be low and we'd make a fortune!
Sarah: Jeffy'd do it for the attention. Cara'd do it for a couple of jelly packets and a cup of mayo. This sounds like a plan!
G.W.: Throw in a couple of cans of cake frosting, one for Cara to eat and one for them to smear all over themselves, and we'd be the Kings of Internet Porn!

** That's a really obscure Jimmie Rodgers song reference:
My husband was a logger
There's none like him today.
If you poured a little whiskey upon it
He would eat a bale of hay.

He never shaved the whiskers
From off his thorny hide.
He'd just drive them in with a hammer
And bite them off inside.