Very Important: You May Die

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

… if you miss the muses of Softee this Friday.

Plus, buy a CD while you’re there.  Or two.  Or, three hundred. (A true fan of art will buy three hundred because he–or she–knows it’s the right thing to do.  Should you actually have a life-ending experience (say, being eaten by an alligator) and go to meet your maker, he–or she–will stare at you with those accusing eyes of holiness and demand whether you supported the ladies of Softee three hundred times.  And if you answer in the negative, you will be cast down.  Down!  So, I guess what I’m saying is that Softee is a religious experience.  Except, without the touching of the altar boys.)

Do You Love Me? (Plus, Free Stuff!)

Friday, July 18th, 2008

“Oh, Skippy–do you love me?” she asked.

“Of course,” I replied.  “I’m wearing my best bow-tie and suspenders.  Not everyone rates such snazzy duds.”

“But, Skippy, I need more.  You’re dashing in the tie, and no one, not even Mork, could shoulder snappy suspenders like you can, but it’s not enough.  I crave… something.”

What was it, I wondered.  Diamonds?  Rubies? Leather gear?  A socket wrench or a bowl of cereal or a cute chipmunk or the smell of a ringing phone or the cat’s meow sans cat or a mime’s vocal cords on a silver platter (the mime objected, but it was a mute point) or maybe a rhubarb pie?  “Maybe some pie?” I suggested.

“No, Darling, not pie.  Not even rhubarb trimmed by mime bits.  Something else, something that says you love me, but says it in neon, in flashy, in shoo-bop, shoo-wadda-wadda, yipitty-boom-de-boom.  I need–”


“–a mix CD.”

And so, I made one for her.  Filled with the cheesy goodness I listened to back in the days before I turned into an old grump.  And if you want one, it’s yours.  Just shoot me your name and mailing address to this address (click me!) Want to know what’s on it?  Too bad! (If I told you, it wouldn’t be a surprise.  Plus, you know, you might not want it.  Let’s take things slowly, you and I, so that our passion doesn’t burn out so quickly.)

I’ll also send you one of our cats. (Not really.)  And one of our dogs. (Very possible.)  But mostly, the CD. (This one’s true.)  ‘Cause I’m giving like that.  Look at me: I give.  I’m a giver.

The Ghostess With The Mostess

Monday, July 14th, 2008

If you wasted at least part of your youth in Kansas City during the ’80s, there’s a good chance you might have spent a few late nights watching Kansas City’s very own Maven of the Macabre, Crematia Mortem.  Haunting our televisions from 1981 until 1988, Crematia was the ghoulish hostess of KSHB-TV 41’s Creature Feature.  During most of this period, KSHB was not yet a network affiliate, so they had much more control over their programming; they owned the movies they presented, and could schedule blocks of time devoted to original local programs. (Kansas City even had its own morning show with AM Live–a disappointing discovery for kids who stayed home sick, yet within the range of a television.  After the morning cartoons were over, you were forced to watch AM Live, soap operas, or trucking commercials.  Oddly enough, I think I miss the trucking commercials.)

KSHB handed the reins of its late-night Saturday horror program to Roberta Solomon, a successful voice personality across the nation.  Roberta, after visiting a lingerie shop to pick out the corset for her Vampira-like character, introduced the world to Crematia Mortem, deadly hostess of Creature Feature.  Crematia’s mastery of the darkness was helped along by her loyal companions, Rasputin and Dweeb.  (You never saw them, but you could hear them off-camera.  Dweeb, a stand-in for Fortunato from The Cask of Amontillado, was forever walled up in Crematia’s house due to some often-alluded-to, but never-expounded-upon, vague offense buried in the past.)

During those years I spent a number of weekends at my grandparents’ house in Shawnee, Kansas.  Each weekend night, my grandma pulled out her convertible couch and made it ready for our late-night theater.  (It happened Friday evenings, too, with a competing channel’s Friday Fright Night show.  But, except for an evil laugh and reoccurring image of a malevolent skull flashing on-screen between commercials, it wasn’t as memorable as Crematia’s world.)  I was ecstatic to stay up late into the wee hours of the morning, and I was thrilled to be watching movies about werewolves, vampires, mummies and other bump-in-the-night nasties.  More often than not I cowered when the scary came on screen; other times I slipped into dreamland before the movie was finished.  But, thanks to my grandmother’s willingness to spend time with her grandson, I learned the joy of watching Lon Chaney, Jr., Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and a huge list of other assorted characters from the heyday of Universal Pictures’ horror films.  Special mention goes to Christoper Lee in his menacing role as Dracula in the Hammer films.  To this day Lee is still frightening no matter the part he plays.

So, really, I thank my grandma and Crematia for making Saturday evenings entirely too much fun.  My grandma passed away a few years back, but the memories of coming in from her backyard with a jar filled with either crawdads or fireflies (you caught what you could), letting them loose in her living room (fireflies, only), and then crawling into bed to wait for Crematia to grace the screen with her unforgettable appearance and forgettable cheesy jokes, they’re all still fresh.

These days such a show probably isn’t possible.  Stations, being network affiliates, whore themselves out to infomericals and re-runs of painfully unfunny shows like Everybody Loves Raymond and The King of Queens.  They are, indeed, their own brand of horror, but they don’t quite create the lasting memories the way Crematia did.


A Horrible Must-See

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

From Joss Whedon (and others)–Creator of Buffy, Angel (fangs, not wings) and Firely–starring Doogie Howser and Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day and Not Me Which Is A Pity Because I Think I’m Like Excellent And Stuff:

Teaser from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog on Vimeo.