Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Mighty Memorable Time With The Mighty Van Halen - Tinley Park, IL 7/24/15

I remember the first time I heard Van Halen. It was a weekday morning, and I was headed outside to take a walk on the train tracks. There was a neighbor, 3 looong doors down the street, who had stereo speakers the size of refrigerators. Every Summer, he and his roommates would have a huge blow-out party, and our relatively hidden neighborhood (just one long block, basically, that's it) would be pleasantly overrun by pretty women. But, I digress. It was early Spring, and, I was making my way to the train tracks for a walk near the river. I crossed over the patio, made my way down the steps, and, as my feet touched the grass in the backyard, there was a huge eruption of drums, followed by guitar and bass, coming from the party house down the way. "Whoa! Who is that?" I ran down the lengthy backyard to the tracks, making my way as quick as I could to get behind that house for a better, even louder, listen. What I was hearing was the coolest guitar solo I'd ever heard at that point, a lot of really fast playing and cool whammy bar dive bombs. Just as I got positioned on the tracks directly behind the party house, about 57 seconds into the solo, my life, especially as a budding guitarist just starting to investigate the instrument, changed forever. That's when I was first introduced to what would become known as two-handed tapping. "What is THAT???", I wondered. I wasn't the only one wondering. Those 103 seconds I heard on the railroad tracks that day were a game changer. The bar had clearly been raised and everyone knew it. A few days later, I was listening to the radio. I heard a song called "Runnin' With Devil", followed by that same solo, followed by a scorching cover of The Kinks' "You Really Got Me". The group's name was Van Halen, and the solo was called "Eruption". I went to the record store, picked up Van Halen's eponymously titled debut album, and, about 36 minutes later, I had a new favorite band.

Van Halen consisted of Edward Van Halen on guitars and backing vocals, his brother Alex Van Halen on drums, David Lee Roth on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, and Michael Anthony on bass and backing vocals. The L.A. Hard Rock quartet had honed their act playing backyard parties, wet t-shirt contests, and, eventually, well-known clubs on the Sunset Strip like the Whisky A Go Go and Gazzarri's. Not only did the band feature the world's greatest guitarist, Eddie's brother Alex was a monster on drums as well. Michael Anthony and Eddie Van Halen's unique backing vocals made them sort of like The Beach Boys of Heavy Metal. On top of all that, flamboyant David Lee Roth, with his wild mane of bleached blonde locks, onstage acrobatics and martial arts antics, exuded an overt sexuality, presenting Van Halen as the quintessential party hearty Hard Rock band. Between the musicianship, the witty and salacious lyrics, their stage presentations, and their reputation as the ultimate party band, Van Halen was the band to see live. Between the years 1978 and 1984, Van Halen were, indeed, the ultimate Hard Rock band, and, the most successful, selling millions upon millions of albums. However, on April 1st, 1985, David Lee Roth quit Van Halen. The band carried on with former Montrose lead singer Sammy Hagar from 1985 - 1996, releasing 4 platinum albums. However, to many longtime fans, "Van Hagar" just wasn't what they considered to truly be Van Halen. After a falling out between the Van Halen brothers and Sammy Hagar, there was a brief reunion of sorts with David Lee Roth which produced 2 songs and high hopes amongst the band's fans. Alas, the reunion did not take hold, and former Extreme lead singer Gary Cherone joined the band for an album and tour. The album didn't sell like a Van Halen record should. Once again, Van Halen was without a lead singer. In 2004, Sammy Hagar rejoined the band for a reunion tour. On the last night of the tour, Edward Van Halen busted 2 guitars onstage, saying, "This is it. It's over. Never again." He was pointing at Sammy Hagar and bassist Michael Anthony.

In 2007, David Lee Roth rejoined Van Halen. However, Michael Anthony was out, replaced by Edward Van Halen's son 16 year old Wolfgang Van Halen on bass. This incarnation of the band has been together ever since, releasing Van Halen's 12th studio album ("A Different Kind Of Truth") in February of 2012. They toured in the United States in 2007, 2008, and 2012, did shows in Japan, and performed in Australia in 2013. A live album ("Tokyo Dome Live in Concert ") was released earlier this year. Currently, the band is on a 41 date tour of the States, and, while the band has faced a fair amount of criticism largely focusing on David Lee Roth's current vocal skills, the reviews have all been overwhelmingly positive.

On Friday night, July 24th, 2015, my nephew (and "Daytime Dungeon" co-host) Master Gregory went to the Van Halen show at the Hollywood Casino Ampitheatre in Tinley Park, IL. The opening act was
the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. It was an incredible night of guitar playing, that's for sure, and Kenny lit his Stratocaster fretboard up, especially during the show's highlight Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)". Of course, the vast majority of the crowd was there to see the "3/4 original, 1/4 inevitable" Van Halen. At about 8:45, the lights went down, as Alex Van Halen stepped behind his monstrous kit. The show was off and running with the Van Halen II rocker "Light Up The Sky". Much is being made of the setlist for this tour, as it consists not just of hits, but also rarely performed cuts, as well as material that has never been performed by the band onstage until this tour. 24 year old Wolfgang Van Halen is the linchpin of this incarnation of the band and is to be thanked for creating the setlist. Other seldom heard onstage songs included "In A Simple Ryhme", "Dirty Movies", "Feel Your Love Tonight", and "Drop Dead Legs". The band is a well oiled machine. Eddie Van Halen is still "the King of 10 fingers and 6 strings", as DLR has referred to him so many times in the past, playing better than he has in about 17 years. Alex Van Halen may well be playing the best he ever has in his entire life. Wolfgang Van Halen has been the unfair target of a lot of misinformed criticism aimed at him by people who miss Michael Anthony, and, apparently, have no musical talent of their own. "He can't sing those background vocals like Michael Anthony", they say. I've got news for those folks. In 2015, Wolfgang Van Halen's backing vocals are more than just acceptable. They're damn good, and, about as close as you can get to the Michael Anthony backing vocals of old. So much so, in fact, if you closed your eyes, you may well have thought it was him singing them. As for those who falsely believe that Wolfgang doesn't play as well as his predecessor, in a way, they're "right." Wolfgang far and away is the vastly superior bassist, locking in with Uncle Alex as needed, and playing lines that, without a doubt, far outshine anything in Michael Anthony's unremarkable skill set, as witnessed on songs like "Romeo Delight", China Town", and "Hot For Teacher". Plus, the father, son, and uncle dynamic is priceless.

Ah, but, what about David Lee Roth? The naysayers and/or "Van Hagar" fans are quick to criticize the man, saying he's "lost it." "He doesn't leap into the air anymore. He's a joke. His voice is shot." Etc., etc. In all fairness, the man is 60 years old. He doesn't leap 10 feet into the air off of the drum riser and land doing splits anymore. The man is still quite limber, and is in remarkable shape. He's had some back surgery, and jumping around like that isn't exactly a good idea. Of course, Sammy Hagar never did any of those moves, ever, because he was incapable of doing so. Yes, Dave's voice is not what it once was. No, he doesn't do the lengthy screams that he once did so effortlessly. I don't think that anyone does many things as well at age 60 as they did at age 30. However, David Lee Roth is still one hell of a frontman and entertainer, and there's no one like him. David Lee Roth has always been a valuable contributor to Van Halen, bringing in outside influences that other bands lumped in with VH couldn't spell let alone infuse into their respective sounds. David Lee Roth is, and has always been, like a Rock And Roll Ernest Hemingway, a world traveller, a poet, an adventurer, as influenced by Motown as he was David Bowie. When Dave's in Van Halen, the band is funkier, yet, heavier, much heavier. The band's 2012 "A Different Kind Of Truth" is easily their heaviest album since 1981's "Fair Warning". Oddly, Dave was somewhat less talkative at this show, something that Eddie himself also noticed. At one point during the show, the opening to "Hot For Teacher", Eddie could clearly be seen asking Dave if he was alright, because there was no big storytelling or wisecracking during the beginning of the song. Dave's spotlight in the set, as always, was "Ice Cream Man". Dave told the crowd that, when he dies, he wants his ashes spread over the Eighties. With humility, and his usual great sense of humor, Dave relented that, no, he isn't quite the same guy he was during VH's 1984 peak, and he regaled us with the tale of the $60,000 chili dog.

Van Halen, especially with David Lee Roth at the helm, has always been in the business of making smiles. Look at any classic photo of Eddie Van Halen. One of the things that set him apart from his peers is that he was always smiling. And, of course, the highlight of highlights at any Van Halen show is Edward's solo. The King didn't disappoint, and the whole place was smiling along with him.

Yes, the band is firing on all cylinders, playing better, and more tightly, than they have in years, and, while time may have tempered some of David Lee Roth's antics, Van Halen is alive and well in 2015, and heavier too. This was my 16th time seeing VH live in concert, and my nephew's 3rd. Our seats weren't the greatest. In fact, they were the "worst" seats we've ever had for a Van Halen show. However, nothing could change the fact that we went to see the World's Greatest American Hard Rock Band, the one with the guitarist who forever changed the world of Rock guitar. The band was great, and it was a Summer night that we'll never forget. When we got home, I asked Master Gregory, "Good times?" His response was, "Of course! Never anything but!" Ah, yes. It's all about smiles, and memories that will last a lifetime. If you're one of those people sitting on the fence, and can't decide whether or not to see Van Halen in concert this Summer/Fall, quit goofing off, get real, get with it, and get yourself to see The (Still) Mighty Van Halen!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Bone Janglin' Time

Friday September 23, 2005

"King of Horror to host scary film festival in his own backyard"

"Depending on who you talk to, he's known as the King, the President, or one half of the First Couple. That is, as long as who you're talking to is a fan of Horror movies and in particular of The Bone Jangler and his ever-present co-hostess Nocturna, the Aurora, IL based hosts of Horror movies as seen on some 43 stations in 21 states.

In this business, The Bone Jangler is considered by many to be the King of the Horror Hosts. 'And, Nocturna and I are referred to as the First Couple of Horror Hosts.' said The Jangler himself, who also co-owns an Aurora bookstore.

The President moniker is one The Bone Jangler gets from his work on the Internet in conjunction with The Horror Host Underground, a loose-knit affiliation of the nation's currently active Horror Hosts.

Whatever the peerage, The Bone Jangler is definitely the man when it comes to  hosting Horror movies - and it all started from humble beginnings at Aurora Community Television in 2001. That's when he and Nocturna started hosting Horror movies as members of the underworld, inserting their own commentary, and interacting with an ever-expanding group of sexy playthings known to TV viewers across the country as The Coven.

'We're like the bad guys that you root for,' said The Jangler. 'The show is funny, but, there's no script at all; it's all improvised. It's pretty much the audacity of the thing. People are not used to seeing it done this way.'

It's that same audacity that prompted The Bone Jangler to start calling TV stations around the country and see if they'd be interested in carrying his show. As the number of stations grew, so did The Bone Jangler's reputation. He became more and more recognized as he appeared with Nocturna at Horror conventions around the country, and, soon, the TV stations began calling him. Nowadays, he is as recognized wlaking the streets of NE Ohio as he he is shopping for groceries with Nocturna in Aurora, IL. He will bring his trademark long sideburns to his own backyard this weekend at the Hi-Lite 30 Drive-In in Montgomery, IL. to emcee the Flashback Weekend, a day-into-night event of Horror celebrity appearances, a Horror-themed flea market, concert, and movie marathon.

The day starts at 2pm on Saturday with the flea market, a concert by Ari Lehman who played Jason in the original 'Friday The 13th,' and a magic performance by Ron Fitzgerald. At 7pm, the all-night movie fest begins with  'The Last House On The Left.' David Hess, the star of 'Last House On The Left' will appear and perform the musical numbers he wrote for the movie, and conduct a Q and A session. Several other Horror celebrities will also be appearing.

And, of course, The Bone Jangler and the beautiful Enchantress Nocturna will be present, perhaps meting out some of those hilarious signature insults from superior underworldlings to the mere mortals they regularly see through the TV screens.
The Flashback Weekend event will also be of historical significance because the property is up for sale, and this will likely be the last event at the Hi-Lite 30 Drive-In, as well as the last films shown at the drive-in which first opened in 1947.

'I've been billing it as The Last Picture Show,' The Bone Jangler said.

Tickets for the event are $20. Children 3 - 10 years of age get in for $10, and children 2 and under are admitted free."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

God Bless The Immortal Curt Morley

On Friday, when I left The Dungeon to go about my business, it wasn't long before thoughts of our dear friend Curt Morley began flitting in, and out of, my head. This continued throughout the afternoon, and into the evening. 
Friday night, after everyone had fallen asleep, I stayed up, reading the new issue of Scary Monsters Magazine. If you don't have it - get it! Anyway, I stayed up quite late, reading, and watching the double feature of "The Bone Jangler" and "Penny Dreadful's Shilling Shockers" on the local Horror Host Underground TV station. Eventually, I allowed myself to fall asleep on the couch.

At about 6am, I woke up to the sound of someone walking near me, where my head was on the couch. I was startled and groggy, as I'd just really gotten into the sleep zone. I looked up, and no one was there. I realized that whomever it was was walking past the coffee table in front of the couch where I'd been sleeping. I looked over in the direction of the fireplace across from my head when I spotted what appeared to be a transparent, yet grainy, figure of a body. It was now near my feet. I looked there, expecting to see Master Gregory, and was just about to ask, "What are you doing up, walking around?" That's when I saw the shoulder of a man at about 6 feet from the ground. I thought to myself, "Oh. It's just a ghost," and went back to sleep.

About 45 minutes later, I woke myself up, poured myself a glass of milk before going to bed proper. As I drank my milk, I decided to check my Facebook messages, seeing as my phone was sitting there, and I'm so Type A, and I need to be busy all of the time. There was an e-mail from a mutual friend of Curt Morley's. I clicked on the message, and received the terrible news that our dear friend had died suddenly of a heart attack on Friday afternoon, right around the time I began thinking of him so much. That's when it hit me - BOOM! "That was YOU (that I'd seen in the living room), Curt!"

Curt Morley was a dear friend of ours. We'd met him online through mutual friends on Facebook. He led ghost tours of the Fox Valley region of Illinois. We'd accompanied him on one such tour, and were only a few weeks away from attending another. We'd soon be having him on the nighttime show, discussing the paranormal, and our many experiences with the great Unknown. Curt and I talked with one another often, especially in times of trouble. We were no strangers to that topic. Curt had been through many hardships, and things were just starting to turn around for him. We were all so happy for our friend. I personally couldn't wait to embark on the many adventures that lie before us. And, so, embark on them I shall, and Curt will be there at my side.

Curt, know that Nocturna & I, and all of your many friends love you.

"The way you walked was thorny, though no fault of your own, but as the rain enters the soil, the river enters the sea, so tears run to a predestined end. Now you will have peace for eternity."

Yes, peace, and more supernatural adventures with your spooky friends. Until we meet again... which, knowing you, Curt, could be any minute now.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Be Careful Out There - One Year Later: Enchantress Nocturna

It was one year ago tonight. We'd finished taping our Christmas show with HARMony just the night before, with fellow Horror Host, and good friend, Undead Johnny manning the controls. 8pm, Tuesday, November 29th. Enchantress Nocturna made a rare solo trip to the grocery store to pick up a few items. She was parked near the front of the store, in a well lit parking lot. As she walked to her car, a man rushed up behind her, said, "Yo, gimme yo purse, bitch!" She was shoved into the pavement, her right side slammed against the ground. The perpetrator dragged her about the pavement, trying to steal her purse, and its contents. She did not struggle, as she was taken quite by surprise. She simply was wearing her purse as women are instructed to by law enforcement. There were several onlookers, watching this as it happened, and, as the criminal ran off with the purse, and did nothing to try to stop him from getting away. After the Snoop Dogg lookalike made good his escape, many of them exclaimed, "I saw it, I saw it!" One of them phoned the police. With this single act of violence, the world as we knew it changed in an instant.

Nocturna was taken to the emergency room, where x-rays were taken. It was determined that she may have fractured the inside of the ball joint in her hip. She was given crutches to walk on. She would walk on these crutches for several weeks. Meanwhile, with the help of our dear friend, and fellow Horror Host, Halloween Jack, a Facebook event was created, alerting friends and fans to Nocturna's condition. Prayers, and healing vibes, were asked for, and donations were sent by many. Before long, we (meaning me) were accused of exaggerating, if not entirely making up the assault/robbery! The piece of trash that made the accusation(s) became quite aggressive, asking, "IF this actually really happened, where is the proof?" Friends, I have a reputation, one that has been described as being "at times, brutally honest." This attention seeker was finally silenced, and, soon after that, her accusations were dispelled, to say the very least.

Several weeks of hobbling about on crutches later, Nocturna saw another physician. As Nocturna said at the time, "Good Evening, my Darlings...I am able to give a detailed update at last.

I finally was able to see an orthopedic specialist, one of great renown, about my concerns-- for I knew that there was more to my injuries than the ER doctor had discerned in the*very*short time he was physically with me. I had ten x-rays this evening, which spanned the area from the ankle to the top of my pelvis...I should be glowing any minute!

My diagnosis: a broken hip, or as it was told to me, a collapsed femoral neck, which is the area that lies between the ball joint and the femur. The alignment of the joint was off, and even I noted a spur protruding from the area of the collapse/break on one of the x-ray films, which explains why I can't turn the foot forward, and have to still physically pick my leg up to maneuver it.

The specialist said that surgery was the best long term solution, and discussed a few options with me...the best option, considering the area affected and extent of the collapse, was a total hip arthroplasty, aka total hip replacement. I will be scheduled for next Wednesday, with two or so days in the hospital thereafter.

Recovery will include home care and physical therapy...I will not be able to bend forward past 90 degrees during my recovery time, which is estimated to be another six to eight weeks.

Thanks to all of you for your prayers, moral support and assistance you've given me and TBJ, we appreciate it more than we can possibly ever express. Thank you so very, very much!"

For weeks, because of the inept physician at the emergency room on that fateful night, one year ago, Nocturna had been hopping about with her leg hanging on by a single tendon! So much for me exaggerating, eh?

One year later, Enchantress Nocturna is as beautiful as ever, and stronger in spirit than ever, baring scars both physical, and otherwise. Young Master Gregory no longer likes to go outside after dark, most of the time. Nocturna's love of dancing, despite her bionic hip, has been impeded. There are several things that Nocturna is no longer able to do. Also, she has appeared on TV only once since all of this happened, when she made her comeback appearance on The Monster Channel, 9 months after her attack. Today, she asked me to warn all of you to be careful when holiday shopping, and, whenever you are out alone at night.

Thank you to everyone who prayed for us, wished us well, and sent donations, cards, gifts, cookies, etc. We love you all, and none of us in The Bone Jangler Family wants anything like this to ever happen to any of you.

Thank you so very much! Smile, be smart, be safe, have fun, and carry the Christmas spirit with you all year 'round!

- The Bone Jangler

Thursday, November 15, 2012

8 Years Ago Today: Master Gregory's Miracle

It was 8 years ago, November 16th, 2005, to be exact, that a miracle took place.

For those of you who aren't quite familiar with The Bone Jangler Family, I have a nephew/son. His name is Gregory, Greggy for short. While he isn't my biological son, he's my son in every other conceivable way, just as I am much more of a father figure to him. Back in October of 2005, Greggy came home from school one day, with a large bump, on his forehead. It wasn't there when he left for school that morning. When asked, "Did you fall down, and hit your head, today, at school?" He had no answer. "Did you run into something?" Nothing. "Did someone hit you?" Nothing. "Where did you get that bump on your head?" Greggy asked, "WHAT BUMP?" When his hand was placed on the bump, a confused look appeared on his face. He had no idea where it came from.

At the end of the month, shortly before Halloween, the bump was still there, the exact same size. He was taken to see a doctor. The doctor ran tests, and did some x-rays. In conclusion, he had no idea where the bump had come from, but was glad it was there, because it caused him to look inside. What he found inside was something called a "benign dermatoid;" a sort of cyst/tumor that only 1% of people develop. Actually, they're born with it, but no no one knows it's there until about the time they turn 18. At that point, they begin having severe headaches that become more frequent, and increasingly more severe, until they're constant, and their vision begins to get foggy. At that point, they fearfully go to the doctor, thinking that, perhaps, they have a brain tumor. As rare as these benign dermatoids are, the doctors recognize them right away, and, usually, simply send these people home, as it's too late to do anything about it. What happens is these things burrow into your brain over the years, and, by the time the symptoms arrive, there's not much that can be done. That bump was the first miracle.

Surgery would have to be performed, and the dermatoid removed. Everything about this thing was 1%. Only 1% of people survive the surgery, without dying, or becoming a "vegetable." Thankfully, one of only 3 doctors able to perform this risky surgery operated in the Chicagoland area, and would be Greggy's surgeon.

Greggy's surgery was scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 16th, 2005, and it was a scary time. Just a few months earlier, I'd created our 2nd TV program: "The Bone Jangler's Daytime Dungeon," a show I'd come up with for Greggy. Just 8 days before his life-or-death surgery, we taped what would become Greggy's TV debut, which would appear on episode #2 of "Daytime Dungeon." We had a great shoot, taping in a huge park, frolicing in the Autumn leaves. Talk about fun! However, this could've easily wound up also being Greggy's TV farewell.

Our nighttime show; "The Bone Jangler," first hit the television airwaves in September of 2001. In September of 2005, I created a 2nd show, a show that would air in the daytime, and be aimed at an all-ages audience, a show that Greggy could participate in, and call his own (even if I do all of the editing, etc.). On the first episode of "The Bone Jangler's Daytime Dungeon," I hosted the thing all by myself. Before we shot the 2nd episode, something called a "benign dermatoid," a sort of cyst/tumor combo, was found lurking inside of the area between Greggy's skull, and his brain. An operation would have to be performed, a very risky operation with a mere 1% success rate. The other 99% of people who have the operation die, or (worse, in my opinion) become a "vegetable." Thankfully, 1 of only 3 surgeons in the world capable of performing the procedure operated out of the Chicagoland area. The surgery was scheduled for Wednesday, November 16th, 2005. If we were to make certain that Greggy were ever to appear on TV, on his show, no less, we had to hurry.

On Tuesday, November 8th, 2005, we made our way to Fabyan Park, a huge sprawling piece of land, spanning both sides (and the middle) of the Fox River, that was once the home, and property of an eccentric man by the name of Colonel Fabyan, a guy who reminded me of Teddy Roosevelt, only with a lot more money. There, we taped a good hour's worth of footage of Greggy & I chewing up the scenery, and frolicking in the Autumn leaves. It was a fun shoot, and, whatever awkwardness there was with this being 5 year old Greggy's first time in front of the TV camera, it was more than matched by the cuteness of the whole thing. Greggy was, and still is, a good looking boy, and he was so small then. Gone was the growling, swaggering Bone Jangler, and in his place was a doting uncle/father figure, proud of his boy, and eager (in more ways than one, due to the impending surgery) to get him on TV, for all of the world to see. Later, after the show had aired locally, and then made it's way across the country, I'd receive e-mails from viewers saying things like, "I never thought a Bone Jangler show would make me cry, but I did." These comments were made in reference to the end credits scene in the show, where Greggy & I are playing Hide and Seek, etc., in the leaves. I write them back, and tell them, that, if those scenes made them cry, then, they'd best break out their Kleenex again, because the story behind the camera was much more moving.

With Greggy's surgery scheduled for the morning of Wednesday, November 16th, 2005, I was in a bad spot. Back then, I owned a comic book shop/used bookstore, and, Wednesday was (and still is) new release day. There was no one else who could operate the store that day, much less handle all of the pulling of ordered product for subscription customers. I would be unable to be in both places at once, and, if I were to close up shop that day, it would've severely hurt the business. Greggy's father, and grandmother, would be there for the surgery. I forgot to mention earlier that Greggy's mother died when he was only 1 year old, and, thus, couldn't be there, at least not in a physical sense.

That day, 8 years ago, was a very hard day for me. I got up extra early that morning, and raced to see Greggy, as he prepared to leave for the hospital. It was a very difficult time, and, I must admit, my eyes are tearing up a bit as I write these words. I looked at my boy a good long time, long enough to get a good look at him at every opportunity, but never so long in one stretch to alert him to the fact that he was headed off for something much, much more serious than he was led to believe. As I looked at him, I wondered to myself, "Is this the last time that I'll see you alive? Is this the end?" I may be omniscient as I choose to be at any given moment, but, sometimes, some things are beyond even me. The thought that he might die on the operating table, or become a lifeless "vegetable," was hard to fathom, yet, quite possible.

I made my way to my shop, and tried my best to go about performing the necessary duties associated with new release day. Lots of my customers took an early lunch that day, and spent it at my shop, so as to be there for me, and for Greggy. Online, at a little place called MySpace, thousands of friends rallied around, and, were "there" with me, with us. Hundreds of strangers were also there, having been forwarded the information via friend bulletins. Lisa Marie Presley, someone I've yet to meet, learned of Greggy's situation, and had devoted the front page of her website to Greggy, asking her fans, and friends, to pray for my little boy. I may not have been at my boy's side, but, I was not alone.

The surgery was scheduled for about 10:00am. At about 9:30am, I received a call. I knew it had something to do with Greggy's operation, as we didn't open until 11:00am, and no one ever called the shop until around that time. I nervously answered the phone. The surgery was over. They'd started it much earlier. The doctor, and his staff, were not anxious to have to cut a 5 year old, motherless, boy open like that, and perform a surgery that had only a 1% success rate. So, they'd decided to get on with the delicate work at hand. I was afraid to ask how it went, the earliness of the call having thrown me off. The doctor had previously thought that the dermatoid was the size of a pebble. When he got in there, he discovered that it was actually the size of 2 golf balls! Regardless of that unexpected surprise, the surgery went off without a hitch, and went very quickly. The doctor couldn't believe the result, and referred to the outcome as a "miracle." And, of course, it was a miracle. As the doctor had gone in to perform the surgery, he'd stated that it weren't his hands that were going to be performing the surgery, but, rather, God's.

Greggy came home from the hospital much earlier than was expected, coming home just 2 days later. Friends, fans, and complete strangers, alike, were so kind to my little boy, and sent cards, letters, and presents (mostly of the Monster Kid variety), to Greggy. He was blown away by the incredible kindness shown toward him, and couldn't fathom that people from all over the country knew who he was, and wanted to send him these things. It went a long way towards helping him with the healing process. While he didn't quite know it at the time, and is only just now beginning to catch on, 5 years later, he'd had a huge chunk of his skull permanently removed, and replaced with a soft, organic paste/mesh. The idea being that, with him being as young as he was, his skull would grow, and fuse together with the mesh, and eventually solidify.

When he returned to school a few months later, he was required to wear a helmet for certain activities, like gym class, which he wasn't supposed to participate in at all. As it turns out, many of his schoolmates made fun of him, having to wear that helmet, one of 2 scars associated with his surgery that he bears to this very day. However, he is alive, and well, thanks to our friends, fans, peers, celebrities, complete strangers, and, of course, God.

I have more to say about this subject, but, find myself unable to at this moment. Thank you to everyone who was there for my boy, those 8 years ago! And, if you're one of those who believe that miracles aren't possible, think again.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Jacinto Molina Alvarez aka Paul Naschy: 9/6/34 – 11/30/09

Paul Naschy was born Jacinto Alvarez Molina in Madrid, Spain on September 6th, 1934. His father was Enrique Molina, a successful industrialist, and his mother was Pilar Alvarez. Naschy grew up in Spain, during the Fascist regime of Franco. His mother used to take him to the cinema to see movie serials, such as "Drums Of Fu Manchu." By the time young Jacinto turned eleven years old, he'd developed a serious fascination for genre films, and he managed to sneak into a screening of Universal's "Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman." While the film made a profound impact on the child, his first loves were still Westerns, and historical films.

As the boy grew into a young man, Jacinto's family pushed for him to pursue a profession more in line with their social standing. He studied architecture at the world renown School Of Architecture in Barcelona, Spain. There, Jacinto drew high marks for his artistic drawing abilities, and he would later go on to design album artwork for record companies Decca, and Columbia. He also created a comic book character "Snake-Black," and had paintings presented in numerous art exhibitions. Soon, he became an accomplished novelist, writing primarily Westerns, using the pseudonym "Jack Mills." Jacinto was also an outstanding athlete, competing in sports such as soccer, javelin throwing, and weight lifting. His athletic abilities were such that he set records in weight lifting, and took 3rd place in a Spanish national javelin competition.

Paul Naschy, a fan of Marlon Brando, finally made his film debut as an uncredited extra in 1960's "King Of Vikings," followed by 1961's "King Of Kings." He'd appear in several more films, most often, again, as an uncredited extra, until 1968's "Las Noches Del Hombre Lobo." "Nights Of The Werewolf," the US title of this movie, marked the debut of "Waldemar Daninsky," a sort of European "Larry Talbot." Naschy served as writer on the picture, and his portrayal of "the Werewolf" became his signature movie role. No one seems to be certain if this movie was ever released, or even fully completed, and serves as a sort of Holy Grail for Naschy/"Daninsky" fans. Paul Naschy would eventually appear as "El Hombre Lobo/Daninsky" another 12 times, with the last appearance being in "Tomb Of The Werewolf" (2004).

Throughout Paul Naschy's film career, aside from "the Wolfman," he portrayed a number of other famous Horror characters, including Frankenstein's Monster, the Hunchback, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, the Phantom Of The Opera, Dr. Moreau, and even the Devil. This earned Naschy the nickname of "the Spanish Lon Chaney." Naschy worked in films, including voice work, until his death on November 30th, 2009. Nocturna and I have had the pleasure of hosting a handful of his films, and will, no doubt, host even more of them. Nocturna's good friend, writer/director/actor/musician Donald F. Glut, worked with Mr. Naschy on "Countess Dracula's Orgy Of Blood." Naschy's work, in my opinion, is unparalleled in the Horror genre, each performance a tour de force, filled with many a subtle nuance only associated with the very best in his chosen field. Like Vincent Price, for example, no can ever "replace" Paul Naschy.

Chances are, whether you realize it or not, if you're a true fan of Horror films, you've seen at least one of Paul Naschy's films. They are known by many titles, as the English translations, for most all of them are many. Again, Paul Naschy is best known for his portrayal of "the Werewolf," and those films involving the "Waldemar Daninsky" character are amongst his most enjoyable. I strongly recommend viewing "Assignment Terror," "The Werewolf Vs. The Vampire Women," "Doctor Jekyll And The Wolfman," and "Return Of The Werewolf." I have yet to see a Naschy movie that I haven't enjoyed.

"Waldemar Daninsky" is at peace. Coincidentally, as my beautiful Enchantress Nocturna pointed out to me, he died on the night of a (mostly) full moon. God bless Jacinto Alvarez Molina, and, thank you Paul Naschy.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Jesus Christ, the Easter Bunny, and The Bone Jangler & Enchantress Nocturna

Easter symbolizes the ascension of Jesus Christ into
Heaven. On Easter Jesus rose from the grave in what
is known as The Resurrection.

Jesus died for the sins of mankind on Good Friday.
He was crucified, nailed to a cross until he died.
His body was entombed. When his tomb was approached
on Easter Sunday the boulder sealing his tomb had
been rolled away and the tomb was empty.

Jesus Christ died for the sins of all mankind. Christ
suffered and died so that you might live life to the
fullest, with the assurance of salvation.

And, while the Easter Bunny is clearly a cute, and
loveable, dude, a tradition that all children embrace
until they become too smart for their own good, Jesus
Christ and His resurrection is the true meaning of
Easter. I'm not even from here (I'm from Beyond), and
*all* of this is quite clear to me.

Happy Easter, everyone, believers, and non alike!