REMEMBERING ROBIN WILLIAMS

This is my first, and fondest memory, of Robin Williams.

This is my first, and fondest memory, of Robin Williams.

I’ve discovered something about myself over the years. In dealing with the death of a beloved celebrity I don’t run marathons of their movies or listen non-stop to their music. That is all part of a grieving process and if that is what you do then that is just fine. Instead, for me, I found that my grief process is worked out by remembering my fondest moments of a particular celebrity. My first memory of Christopher Reeve was catching a helicopter in one hand and Margot Kidder in the other. Singer-songwriter Warren Zevon will always be the Werewolf of London for me. It’s not his song “Walk on the Wild Side“, but his album Street Hassle that is my fondest memory of Lou Reed. And, as I stated in an earlier post sometimes all it takes to be remembered is a scream that could send chills down my spine and I will continue to thank Marilyn Burns for that.

My earliest and fondest memory of Robin Williams was probably the same for millions of other people: Mork and Mindy. Every Thursday night would find me in front of the TV laughing my butt off and every Friday would find me in school mimicking what I watched in the hopes of getting a laugh out of a pretty girl. You want to know a guy that was all out for the Morkster then look no further because it was me. I wore my hair as shaggy as my parents would allow and I was even the proud owner of a pair of rainbow-colored suspenders that I wore so much that they finally snapped and popped my date right in the breast. Funny, we never went out again after that.

When Robin Williams would release a stand-up album I would wear it out. I laughed, I listened, I memorized and thanks to Mr. Williams I probably went well over my quota of girls I dated or even talked to thanks to his machine-gun wit.

I’m not going to go into the details of every aspect of Robin Williams’ life. I saw very few of his movies and liked his dramatic work more than his comedic; which is ironic since it was the fact that this man made me laugh so hard that endeared me to him. I think a lot of his comedies fell short for the simple reason that it was someone else’ words put in his mouth, someone else’ jokes. If you wanted a great Robin Williams comedy then you had to just let Robin Williams be Robin Williams.

In the end we realized that Robin Williams was the Pagliacci of our time. For those of you who have never heard the story it goes that a man goes to the doctor and tells him how sad he is and how life has no meaning anymore. The doctor tells him to go see the great clown, Pagliacci. That will cheer him up. The man breaks down and says, “But doctor, I am Pagliacci.” That is the story of Robin Williams in a nutshell; a man who spent so many years entertaining people, making them laugh and loving them all at face value; yet he never let it show that he was hurting and broken on the inside.

Finally, it is not my place to say this but I will go out on a limb and say it anyway: it is my belief that Robin Williams would not want us to remember the final moments of his life but instead the 63 years that came before them. Remember the laughter, the talent and above all the love that we had for him and he for us. Because if we don’t then we may as well say that his life meant nothing to us.

I’M A MADMAN, DON”T YOU KNOW?-9 SONGS ABOUT PSYCHOS, MADMEN AND JUST PLAIN CRAZY FOLK

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Did you ever know someone who was crazy? I’m not talking ‘run up and look under a nun’s habit and giggle’ crazy (although that might qualify); I’m talking a level of crazy in which anytime you are near this person you fear for your life because you have no idea what’s going on in that head of theirs and the scary part is neither do they.

Here are 9 songs about some crazy people. Why 9? Why not 10? Why not 11? Why not rub myself in peanut butter and call myself Betty?

PSYCHO KILLER by THE TALKING HEADS (David Byrne, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth)

It’s not so much the lyrics of Psycho Killer that warn us that we are inside the brain of a madman; it is David Byrne singing the song as if his shock treatment session went on a little too long. Byrne said he wrote the song (with help) by ‘imagining Alice Cooper singing a Randy Newman ballad.’

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RIDERS ON THE STORM by THE DOORS (Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore)

Is the entirety of Riders on the Storm about a psycho? Probably not; but that part about a ‘killer on the road’ whose ‘brain is squirming like a toad’ puts the storm just outside of crazy town.

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WHERE THE WILD ROSES GROW by NICK CAVE AND KYLIE MINOGUE (NIck Cave)

One of the perks of picking out songs for these little lists of mine is finding something that I’ve never heard before; for instance this gem by Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue from Cave’s Murder Ballads. Boy meets girl, boy loves girls, boy kills girl to preserve her beauty. Nope, nothing crazy here.

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EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE by THE POLICE (Sting)

Every Breath You Take is the un-official theme song for Stalking Awareness Month. If you thinks it’s a sweet little love song then you’re the one who’s crazy. Even Sting said he didn’t realize how sinister it was and that people have misinterpreted it.

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USED TO LOVE HER by GUNS ‘N’ ROSES (Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin)

He loved her, he killed her, he buried her six feet underground and still hears her complain. I think the serial killer Edmund Kemper may have been a ghost writer on this tune. After murdering his mother and attempting (unsuccessfully) to stuff her larynx down the garbage disposal, Kemper said that even in death the woman wouldn’t stop bitching at him.

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DESTROYER by THE KINKS (Ray Davies)
Poor Ray Davies; he meets a girl(?) named Lola and she(?) sends him right over the edge. Ray, just stop! Hold on. Stay in control.

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EXCITABLE BOY by WARREN ZEVON

It’s my wife I have to thank for reminding me of this Zevon song about a young man who finds creative things to do with little Susie, her bones, his Sunday best suit and an infamous pot roast. The fact that I’m a major Warren Zevon fan makes me ashamed that I forgot it.

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MADMAN ACROSS THE WATER by ELTON JOHN (Elton John, Bernie Taupin)
Leave it to Elton John to make something as simple as a visit to a sanitarium into a near staple of classic rock. The song is not about Richard Nixon as many people think; but Bernie Taupin says the (mis)interpretation amuses him.
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STEVEN by ALICE COOPER (Alice Cooper, Bob Ezrin)
Before Marilyn Manson was a sty in his mommy’s eye, Alice Cooper wrote the book on Shock rock. He also wrote the book on crazy and it was called Welcome to My Nightmare. It was all about the journey through the mind of a disturbed little boy named…Steven.
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CHECK THE CLOSET! LOOK UNDER THE BED!! IT’S TEN SONGS ABOUT…AAAAAAAIIEEEE!!!……MONSTERS!!!!

Gojira_1954_Japanese_poster

 

The other day I told my buddy Ryan over at Rhinos Horror  that I was thinking about doing a post dedicated to songs about monsters. I do believe his encouraging words were “Songs about monsters is an awesome idea, man! Do it!” Well, okay, I’m doing it; but it’s not easy. You see, I don’t want a bunch of metaphorical songs where the monster was the surrogate for drugs or a bad marriage or…whatever. I want the songs to be about just what they are…monsters! Did I succeed? I think I did okay; but I’ll let you be the judge. Let’s rock!

 Godzilla-Blue Öyster Cult (Buck Dharma)

Nope, no metaphor here. You have a city, Tokyo; you have a monster, Godzilla; you have a monster rock band, Blue Öyster Cult. Put ’em all together and what do you get? Kick ass mother -mmm-mmm rock and roll!!

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Nosferatu-Blue Öyster Cult (H. Wheels, Joe Bouchard)
Although I’m a huge BÖC fan, I have to admit that the first time I heard Nosferatu, I wasn’t impressed. But then I listened again and the eerie music and cinematic lyrics wormed their way into my brain. Yeah, you guessed it; I am quite impressed now.
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I Love the Night-Blue Öyster Cult (Buck Dharma)
Remember how I said that at first I wasn’t impressed by Nosferatu when I first heard it? That’s because it followed this absolutely gorgeous tale of man meets vampire. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I believe that this is the perfect vampire song.
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Werewolves of London-Warren Zevon (Warren Zevon, Leroy P. Marinell and Waddy Wachtel)
Okay, so this one steps into metaphor country as the werewolf is symbolic of Zevon and his struggles with alcohol; but did you really think it wasn’t going to be on this list? Are you serious? Of all the songs ever written I sincerely believe it has the most recognizable opening in history. Ah-00000000000!!!! Zevon unveiled a more ‘sober’ version for his classic live album “Stand in the Fire“. A Perrier replaced the piña colada and there was mention of Brian De Palma and James Taylor.
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Werewolf-Five Man Electrical Band (Les Emmerson)

I hate to use the word ‘fun’ too much when describing a song; but that’s the only way I can describe this FMEB tune about Ma, Pa and their furry son Billy. Like Godzilla, there’s no metaphor in sight. Then again, Billy may have just ate it.

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Swamp Witch-Jim Stafford (Jim Stafford)

1973. I was 11 years old and lying in my bed with the radio playing low. In that moment where you’re teetering on the threshold between being awake and the land of slumber is when I first heard the tale of Black Water Hattie, the Swamp Witch. After that, the land of slumber would have to wait.

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Frankenstein-The Edgar Winter Group (Edgar Winter Group)

Close your eyes and you can imagine Dr. Frankenstein making the final preparations for the ‘birth’ of his creation. Knobs are twisted, dials are turned, lightning is flashing, raise him up and lower him down. Look! It’s moving. It’s alive. It’s alive… It’s alive, it’s moving, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, IT’S ALIVE!

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Wuthering HeightsKate Bush and Pat Benatar (Kate Bush)

I know, Kate Bush wrote the song and performs an eerily beautiful rendition of it; but it was the Pat Benatar cover that I first heard and fell in love with. It was almost 30 years before I realized Cathy was a ghost. Okay, so I’m a little slow on the uptake; that doesn’t make the song any less breathtaking.

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(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend-Johnny Cash (Stan Jones)

Like Pat Benatar and Wuthering Heights, it was the Outlaws version of (Ghost) Riders in the Sky that I heard first. Their version is good but let’s face it; this song has the Man in Black written all over it. Some people believe Hell is being forced to try to achieve something and for it to always be just out of reach. The ghost riders can still be heard thundering across that range up in the sky.

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He’s Back! (The Man Behind the Mask)-Alice Cooper (Alice Cooper, Kane Roberts, Tom Kelly)

There was no way in hell I was going to leave this rocking song about my favorite slasher Jason Voorhees by the man who put the shock in rock long before Marilyn Manson was a black light in mommy’s eye. I’m talking about none other than Mr. Alice Cooper! Hmm, you know what? Putting the word ‘Mr.’ before the word ‘Alice’ is just weird.

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So, what are some of your favorite songs about monsters? Let me hear from ya! Take care and stay scared!!

I SAW A WEREWOLF TONIGHT

I SAW A WEREWOLF TONIGHT

by John Mountain

I saw a werewolf tonight.

I did not think they existed,

but I saw one.

 I saw a werewolf tonight.

Its coat shone like silver

in the moonlight.

 I saw a werewolf tonight.

It raised its snout, sniffing

the air for its prey.

 I saw a werewolf tonight.

I heard the crash of its paws

on the forest floor.

 I saw a werewolf tonight.

Its jaws open, saliva dripping

from its maw.

 I saw a werewolf tonight.

Its eyes shining bright

like amber fire.

 I saw a werewolf tonight.

She must be beautiful in

her human form.

 I saw a werewolf tonight.

I shall not see one

again tomorrow.

Dedicated to the Wolfman, the Werewolf of London, Lon Chaney, Oliver Reed and Warren Zevon

IT’S GETTING TO BE THAT TIME!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. After that, all bets are off as shoppers plunder, pillage, poke, prod, and pry their way through department stores, specialty stores, malls, Wal-mart, Target and all points in between. Christmas is coming and pretty soon everyone will have their wish lists all made up in the hopes that they will get what they want and not what they deserve. So you know what? I started thinking up my own wish list for Christmas. Some things are plausible and some are just plain dumb. But it’s my list and here it is.

1. I want my wife to realize that she is even more beautiful than the day I met her and that I am still very much in love with her.

2. I want each and every blogger out there to experience over a 1,000 hits each and every day of 2012.

3. I want there to be a sequel to the original Howling that is every bit as good as the first.

4. I want Lindsay Lohan to get her shit together. I’m tired of seeing the words ‘skank’ and ‘crack whore’ being used to describe what was once a lovely young girl.

5. With my wife’s permission, I want a date with Rachael Ray. It’s for totally sexist reasons; I want her to cook me dinner.

6. In 2012, I would love to find out that Sasquatch really exists and that he’s suing Jack Links for defamation of character.

7. I want to be the best blogger I can be. I never in a million years thought that I would be the author of a blog. Now that I am, I love it.

8. I want to put my terrier, Clarice, on American Idol. She’s a little howler and she can’t sound any worse than William Hung or Mr. ‘Pants on the Ground’, Larry Platt.

9. I want M. Night Shyamalan to stop making sub-par films and find the magic that he had with The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs.

10. I want author Brian Easton to finish the third book in his Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter series. The first two books, ‘When the Autumn Moon is Bright’ and ‘Heart of Scars’, were the best werewolf novels I’ve read in the last 15-20 years.

11. I want Barnes and Noble to realize that there are fans of author Michael Slade who don’t live in Canada and start putting his books on their shelves. At the B&N in Bakersfield it’s as if he doesn’t exist.

12. I want a bearded dragon for Christmas

13. I want Tom Wait’s Orphans: Bawlers, Brawlers and Bastards CD set for Christmas.

14. I want Star Wars fans to stop bitching and moaning about the changes that George Lucas has made to the films over the years. I don’t agree with all the alterations, either; but they’re his movies and he can do what he wants with them.

15. I want to re-enact that scene in Bad Santa between Billy Bob Thornton and Lauren Graham. You know the one I’m talking about. Anybody got a Santa suit I can borrow or have?

16. I want David Letterman to continue supporting those musicians who don’t always fit in with what the general public perceives as popular. His support of Tom Waits and the late Warren Zevon are nothing short of amazing. Both have been guests on his show on numerous occasions and Letterman even contributed vocals to one of Zevon’s songs. Give a listen to “Hit Somebody (The Hockey Song)”. That guy shouting “HIT SOMEBODY!!” is Letterman. You can find the song on YouTube or Playlist.com.

17. Alright, this one’s a tough one. It’s flattering, but I need people to stop mistaking me for the Sexiest Man Alive every year.

18. I want Julianne Moore to win the Oscar she so richly deserves. Her performance as porn star Amber Waves in ‘Boogie Nights’ should have done the trick.

19. I want to be a calmer, more peaceful person in 2012.

And last, but not least…

20. I want someone to please explain to me the appeal of reality TV. I just don’t get it.

So, that’s my list. Like I said, some plausible, some dumb, all mine.

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THE MONKEY’S PAW by W.W. Jacobs

THE MONKEY’S PAW by W.W. Jacobs

Published in 1902

Did you ever have a rabbit’s foot when you were a kid? I did. It wasn’t real, but it was supposed to bring good luck to whoever owned it. I’m sure at one time or another people carried real rabbit’s feet around. So I beg to differ about that whole good luck thing. The rabbit lost his foot, how lucky is that? It’s like Bruce Springsteen sang, ‘with very wish there comes a curse.’ That’s the whole idea behind the short storyThe Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs. A couple receives a mummified monkey’s paw that supposedly will grant its owner 3 wishes. The couple wishes for two hundred pounds so that they may pay their house loan. The next day their son is killed in a horrible industrial accident and for their compensation they receive the amount of, you guessed it, two hundred pounds.

But it doesn’t stop there. The mother obviously has not learned her lesson. For she thinks, “If this monkey’s paw can give us this money, then it can return our boy to us!” Well now, she’s right, it can return him to his loving parents. The thing is he’s messed up bad. He’s messed up in the ‘dad could only identify him by his clothing’ way. But being a husband who loves his wife and doesn’t want to see her grieving, he finds the paw and wishes their boy alive again. Then there is a knock on the door. Is it him? Is it their son? The woman rushes to the door! The husband knows that he can’t allow her to see her son in this condition and finds the paw yet again and just before she flings the door open he wishes his final wish. The knocking stops as the wife opens the door to the emptiness of the night.

It’s funny, W.W. Jacobs was known throughout his career for being a writer of humor. But can you, off the top of your head, name any other story that the man wrote? I sure as hell can’t. The Monkey’s Paw has been around for so long and has been adapted and parodied in so many ways that it has become a landmark of the horror short story. Everybody from the Simpsons to the late Warren Zevon has paid homage to this story in one way or another.

So, if I had a monkey’s paw in my pocket that would grant you three wishes. Would you take it? Think hard before you make your decision. For some reason you decide yes, then be careful what you wish for. Who knows, you might just get it.

Horror In Song-Scratching the Surface

Alice (album)

Image via Wikipedia

Anyone ever heard the song “Poor Edward” by Tom Waits? If you have, then you know just how eerie it is. The song is about a man with a woman’s face growing out of the back of his head. He can’t remove it, for it would kill him. So, in the end…

Finally the bell tolled his doom
He took a suite of rooms
And hung himself and her from the balcony irons
Some still believe he was freed from her
But I knew her too well
I say she drove him to suicide
And took poor Edward to hell

If you don’t believe me when I say this is some  spooky shit, then just listen to the song. Poor Edward by Tom Waits

Whats He Building is another of Waits’ excursion into the realm of the eerie and the creepy. Just what is he building in there? Whatever it is, it can’t be good…

Now what’s that sound from underneath the door?
He’s pounding nails into a hardwood floor
And I swear to God I heard someone moaning low

We’re really not sure what he’s doing. Even the music clangles and clatters and makes odd sorts of sounds as if even it is unsure and unknowledgeable about what’s going on. What the hell is he building in there?

Of course, you can’t write about horror in song without mentioning Alice Cooper. All you have to do is listen to his album “Welcome to My Nightmare” to know the guy deserves a spot in the Horror Hall of Fame. The album is about a child named Steven and the nightmares he experiences. The nightmares drive him insane; the songs are a guide on his journey into madness.

Welcome to my nightmare, I think you’re gonna like it, I think you’re gonna feel you belong.
A nocturnal vacation, unnecessary sedation, you want to feel at home ’cause you belong.
Welcome to my nightmare whoa, ho, ho, ho…

The title song sets the pace for the rest of the album…Welcome to My Nightmare by Alice Cooper

“Black Widow”, “Cold Ethyl” and “Only Women Bleed” are standout tracks that guide us ever further into the journey through Steven’s mind. Black Widow  features a spoken word segment by none other than Mr. Vincent Price. How’s that for horror?

Sometimes horror in song takes an even more humorous bent. Warren Zevon‘s classic Werewolves of London is a gleeful song about a lycanthropic individual ‘with a Chinese menu in his hand’ as he’s howling around your kitchen door’. When Zevon sings that a ‘little old lady got mutilated late last night’ there is a slightly uncomfortable enthusiasm in his voice. What’s interesting is that the song is a metaphor for addiction and the effects it has on the life of the addict and his loved ones. Zevon himself suffered from alcoholism off and on throughout his adult life, so the werewolf he sings about is probably him.

Speaking of werewolves. how about

Mama knows there’s something strange about her boy, Billy. Papa doesn’t want to listen at first; but when Mama tells him about the farmer losing a few of his sheep and seeing Billy on the hill ‘just screaming at the moonlight’, Papa knows he better get off his ass and take action. Mama is torn between her husband’s safety and the eternal destiny of Billy’s soul as she says ‘Papa, I beg you don’t kill him. ‘Cause I just can’t stand to think about my baby in hell.’ Luckily Papa has more sense than to let this monstrosity live to kill another night.

These songs are just one decapitated head in the basket. There are hundred of songs out there that have that element of eerie and that cadence of creepy:

A Night With The Jersey Devil by Bruce Springsteen-who else but Jersey’s greatest rock and roller to sing about Jersey’s favorite urban legend.

Timothy by The Buoys. I remember this song growing up. Timothy makes it out of the mine, only it’s within the belly of the narrator and Joe. Yep, they ate him.

Angie Baby by Helen Reddy-If you thought this song was a safe little piece of AM radio fluff, listen again. What exactly happens to that ‘neighbor boy with evil on his mind.’? The singer Helen Reddy and the songwriter Alan O’Day aren’t telling.

Last but not least, I leave you with the tale of Frankie Teardrop by Suicide. Put on your earphones, turn off the lights and turn up the volume and prepare yourself for a trip into despair, madness and finally into hell itself. Poor Frankie.

Take care and stay scared, everybody!!