Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Facts of Life...

I've been writing a lot lately about big events I've recently attended. The "Monster" part of the blog has been well represented, but the "Dad" part has been kind of put on the back burner. Well, it's time to do a bit of what I believe is called "Mommy Blogging" (even though I'm a Dad).

I'm certainly not looking forward to the day(s) when it becomes time to have "The Talk" with my kids. Everyone needs to learn the facts of life at some point--whether they are taught them by parents or they pick them up on their own. I suppose that parents face a big decision as their kids start to get close to puberty--do we sit the kid down and explain things to him/her, or do we bury our heads in the sand and pretend nothing is happening and hope that everything works out fine? Obviously the former is the preferred way to go, but because of how difficult and uncomfortable that conversation can be I have a feeling that more parents opt (whether consciously of not) for the latter option. I'm hoping that we do it right. Of course what's "right" is a very subjective thing and, despite all the hundreds of parenting books that are out there, I don't think there's a real true and reliable solution that works for everyone. Every family is different. Every individual is different. And, every family's and individual's personal environment is different and unique. That's a lot to think about...

Anyway, this all seems like a pretty serious and heavy discussion, doesn't it? Well, luckily for me, I have two things working in my favor at the moment. First, my kids are only five and two--so I'm hoping that the big conversations will not be necessary for quite some time. Not only that, but my two kids are both girls. This means that I'm hoping the bulk of these talks will fall under The Wife's jurisdiction. (Don't tell her I said that though)

So why do I bring up such a touchy and prickly topic when I really shouldn't have to worry about dealing with it for a while? Well at dinner tonight The Little Monster (my elder daughter) asked a question about our family that may have been the first tentative into an area that will eventually bring up the topic of "The Birds and the Bees". We were all eating and talking about how tomorrow will be our ninth anniversary. Obviously The Little Monster wasn't even a twinkle in our eyes back in 2002. She seemed to be trying to grasp the idea of something (like a wedding) that had happened so long ago. That was when she asked The Wife if she had "borned" me like she had "borned" her and her little sister. We were slightly taken aback and also pretty amused by the question. When we asked her why she asked it she gave a pretty reasonable answer. She figured that since mothers give birth to children that become part of a family, and that everyone is "borned" to a mother--so why couldn't I have been "borned" by my wife?

After The Wife and I had a good chuckle at the notion (and of course The Little Monster didn't really get why it was so funny a question to us) we started to explain how families come together. I was telling her that we actually met as adults before getting married and then having her and her sister. Then I had to mention that her grandparents had all started their own families the same way before giving birth to us. She seemed to be grasping the idea to some extent, and the conversation was veering dangerously close to a Facts of Life discussion (which The Wife took some pleasure in jokingly prodding me into). Then The Little Monster thankfully diffused the whole situation and made me very proud of her at the same time.

As I told her that her mother's parents had met, got married and had children she listened. Then, as I told her that my parents did the same thing she interrupted me in a priceless way. I said "My Mom and Dad met as adults, got married, had me, and..." (I was about to say that they also had my eight siblings) when she broke in with "I know, I know Daddy--you had Matchboxes and watched Godzilla movies and that's how you ended up doing monster blogging." Wow! She had been paying attention! She could have asked just exactly how all these babies came to be "Borned" (making for an uncomfortable moment for us), but instead she went (semi-) off topic to make a very astute observation about my past!

I've written about The Little Monster making me proud a couple times before (in A Proud Moment for Monster Dad and Yet Another Proud Moment) and this one ranks right up there with them!

Creature Double Feature Round-Up 2 (Sep 2011)

I have previously mentioned the old Boston-area TV show Creature Double Feature in a number of blog entries. It was a very big influence on my life and still holds a very special place in my favorite memories. Unfortunately, I've been doing a very bad job of getting around to actually writing a blog about the show itself. I've started it on a few occasions, but there's simply so much I want to say about the show that it would just go on too long (and, yes, that comes from the person whose last two blogs contained some 200 photos). Eventually I'll get around to it. In the meantime check out the Wikipedia page on the show, the website and the Creature Double Feature Message Board to learn more about this great slice of 1970s-80s independent TV programming that was an integral part of thousands of Monster Kids' Saturday afternoons back in the days before VCRs, cable (in most areas at least), DVDs and the internet. WLVI Channel 56 would run two old monster movies on Saturday afternoons back-to-back at 1:00 and 2:30. If you were into stuff like that you simply HAD to be in front of your TV at that time...or you'd miss your opportunity. Since you couldn't set the VCR to tape it, pop a DVD of one of the movies in, or find it online it was truly must-see-TV. The show was in fact a real event!

Last year a Creature Double Feature fan named Aaron Chauncey got tired of all the people at the message board saying that someone should arrange a get together, rally or convention-type event for fellow fans of the show, bot no one actually doing anything about it. He went ahead and put his own show together. I sadly wasn't able to attend, but from what I heard it was a great time. A definite highlight of that show was the appearance of special guest Tom Evans. Who is Tom Evans you ask? Well, unlike most horror host shows, Creature Double Feature didn't actually have a horror host. Instead, it had a really cool opening sequence made up of clips from a whole bunch of monster movies with Emerson Lake and Palmer's song "Toccata" playing over them. There was also a voiceover welcoming everyone to the show and letting them know what scary movies they were about to experience. For most of Creature Double Feature's run, that voice was...Tom Evans'.

Aaron said that last year's show was an ordeal to put together. He probably wouldn't have done it again if he hadn't hooked up with Matt Sanborn. Together they put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make last week's Creature Double Feature Round-Up 2 a reality. I wasn't about to miss this one!

The show was held on September 24, 2011 at the Sheraton Four Points Conference Center in Norwood, MA (along the Auto Mile). This was a very appropriate location, as Ernie Boch--one of the long-time dealers along the Auto Mile was seen in local commercials frequently during days of Creature Double Feature. Not only that, but his son Ernie Boch Jr. not only now runs the company, he also bought time on channel 56 and ran a few installments of his very own Creature Double Feature a few years back (with Ernie himself as the host!). Just goes to show how deeply CDF runs in the blood of those who grew up within TV antenna distance of Boston.

Ernie Boch Jr. as The Ghoul,
Host of a new CDF from the late 2000s

The Round-Up on Saturday consisted of two dealer rooms filled with vendors selling pretty much everything a monster kid (or former monster kid) could want. They had DVDs of all kinds of great horror. monster and sci-fi movies, books, magazines, posters, prints, toys, action figures, original art and a ton of other goodies I can't recall at the moment. They also had another room where the main part of the program was going to be held. Doors opened at 4:00 and the show itself wasn't scheduled to begin until 7:00. The organizers printed up some 200 tickets (I believe) and apparently totally sold out. I don't know if they allowed more people to join in the fun if they showed up at the door without a ticket or not, but there were definitely a LOT of people mingling and perusing the dealers' tables. There were so many people in fact that they opened the doors to the screening room/program room early and started showing Bela Lugosi and Tor Johnson in "Bride of the Monster". They also had a DJ (Robert Jaz) in the room spinning all kinds of monster movie music and other similar fare. Then they brought in well-known artist/illustrator Bob Eggleton to have a little unscheduled Q&A session with the eager crowd. He was supposed to speak during the official program too, but was kind enough to leave his dealer table to give some great insight into Godzilla and all things Creature Double Feature.

Once 7:00 finally rolled around (and the people from the Sheraton had brought in a whole bunch of additional chairs to the room after it became obvious that the ones originally set up weren't going to be nearly enough to accommodate all the attendees) the real show finally started. More speakers were featured, along with some clip reels of many of the best-loved movies that were featured on Creature Double Feature. Then they had the raffle prize giveaway. There were approximately fourteen items that were raffled off, ranging from DVDs, posters and signed books to a couple $50.oo gift cards from Newbury Comics. Half of the proceeds from the raffle were to go to a gravely wounded local soldier who recently returned from Afghanistan. I didn't win anything, but I DID have a ticket that was only ONE NUMBER off of the winning number on one of the items. Aaargh!

The final piece of the evening was an actual presentation of a brand-new style Creature Double Feature show which not only had the classic opening, but also added a brand-new horror-hostess to to the mix. Her name is Callisi, and her character is loosely based on Natalie Portman's character from "Black Swan". She appears as both an angelic ballerina in white and an evil-looking wraith in black, complete with black wings and a ghoulish make-up job. I'm not sure if this character was a one-off deal for this show or if they're planning on actually attempting to run their own new Creature Double Feature show with her as the regular host. Either way, the show Saturday was great. The first of the two movies featured was "Attack of the Monsters" (aka "Gamera vs. Guiron"). This Gamera movie was a staple of Creature Double Feature and a perfect one to choose for the Round-Up. The second movie was the famously bad Ed Wood film "Plan 9 From Outer Space". A real highlight was that they actually had commercial breaks during the movies (just as a TV show would have had) and they showed tons of great old ads from the 1970s that everyone who grew up with Creature Double Feature would remember watching back in those days. Oh yeah, and all of this fun and entertainment only cost ten dollars per ticket! That's bang for your buck!

I should also mention that the previous night, Friday September 23, there was a pre-Round-Up concert held down the street at Newbury Comics. I wasn't able to attend, but it sounds like it was a great show in itself and another opportunity to extend the fun of the Round-Up and spend even more time hanging out with fellow Creature Double Feature fans.

Here's the ad for the pre-show concert

And now, here's a look at the whole experience on Saturday night through some photos and scans to give a better visual idea of just how great the Round-Up really was...

Here's the front and back of the totally cool tickets to the Round-Up.
They were designed by artist Sean Hartter, who also did the official program.
The tickets are signed and individually numbered to 200--a collectible item itself!

A few of the dealers in the first vendor room

Among those set up was horror host Uncle Death from The Fright Channel and
He was obviously heavily influenced by Creature Double Feature!

The Fright Channel business card

Signed photo of Uncle Death--
with a bit of his wisdom: "Live. Love. Fart." Sage advice!

The second vendor room

Though I wasn't able to buy a lot of stuff from the dealers,
I DID pick up this really cool Delorean Time Machine for The Little Monster
...(and, yes, I suppose it's also for me too)

The great Bob Eggleton at his table in the vendor room

The raffle ticket table with all the raffle prizes that would be given out later

I also picked up this cool event T-shirt from the raffle table!

Upon entering the main event room guests had their ticket and hand stamped and were presented with an official program and these neat "Death By Fright Waivers"

Sean Hartter also designed the Official Program,
which was not only a program, but a comic book too!

Here's one page of the comic portion of the Program

The schedule of events for the night

Some of the guests and important people behind the Round-Up

The early crowd prepares to hear Bob Eggleton speak

Bob Eggleton entertains and enlightens while Bela Lugosi looks on ominously

Robert Jaz, "The DJ from the Black Lagoon"
entertains the monster fans

A packed house awaits the main portion of the show

New Horror Hostess Callisi makes an appearance

Aaron Chauncey and Matt Sanborn, the men behind the Creature Double Feature Round-Up 2 welcome everyone and introduce the show

The video presentation starts with Ethan Souza's wonderful recreation of the old Creature Double Feature intro
After the intro there were clips from many of the best-loved movies and monsters from Creature Double Feature, including...

...The Rat-Bat-Spider monster from "The Angry red Planet"

Another look at the Rat-Bat-Spider monster

Daimajin, from "Majin, Monster of Terror" and "The Return of Giant Majin"

The beheaded "Jan in the Pan" from "The Brain that Wouldn't Die"

Gamera, the giant monster turtle (and friend of children everywhere)

Callisi makes another appearance after the first clip segment to introduce some guest speakers
Bob Eggleton made a second appearance at this time

Brian Harnois and Christian White from the show "Haunted RI" also spoke to the crowd

Time for more clips, featuring such favorites as...

The green monster Gaira from "War of the Gargantuas"


Everyone's all-time fave, Godzilla
and some of his popular co-stars over the years, like...

King Kong


Mothra again

King Ghidorah

Minya, the Son of Godzilla

The transforming figure (which was featured in the CDF opening) of...

Hedorah from "Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster"

Jet Jaguar, the robot from "Godzilla vs. Megalon"

Jet Jaguar and Godzilla joined forces to form a great tag team against Megalon and Gigan

Here's Godzilla's infamous flying kick from "Godzilla vs. Megalon"!

And then there's Mechagodzilla, of course

After the second round of clips we were treated to an extra special surprise:
the debut performance of...
Manuela, The Dancing Godzilla!

Manuela not only danced and knocked over cardboard building, she even had a lighted tail!

Manuela really got the crowd going!

After a brief intermission it was time for Aaron, Matt and Callisi to give out the raffle prizes!

Many great raffle prizes were won that night!
(though none were won by ME)

Check out this great Dracula poster

And this issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland

Uncle Death spoke for a bit,
and then it was time for the Main Event...

A brand-new version of Creature Double Feature!

Which was hosted by both parts of Callisi's character!

The first film of the double feature was
"Attack of the Monsters" aka "Gamera vs. Guiron"

During the "commercial breaks" many classic old ads from the era of Creature Double Feature were shown--
like this one for Slinky

Blip handheld video game

The classic Life Cereal commercial, starring...


Gamera's first appearance in "Attack of the Monsters"

Did you know that in Japan the hand can be used as a knife?
Unfortunately, this method doesn't work on a tomato

The classic commercial breaks continued with the iconic Ginsu Knife infomercial

Always loved watching that Ginsu knife cutting through a can
...and remaining razor sharp!

Of course, the Ginsu also came with this 50 Year Guarantee
I wonder how many people still have their 1970s-era Ginsus (and this certificate too)

Next it was "Time for Timer"--
where we learned to make wagon wheels from cheese and crackers

And the ever-popular Lite Brite
Strange that it didn't even come with its own light bulb...

"Reading is Fundamental" (RIF) PSA

Back to the movie...
The earth kids have landed on the alien planet only to discover that this world has their very own, silver painted Gaos monster!
The planet also has a "watchdog" named Guiron

Guiron makes like a Ginsu knife and slices Gaos up

Shadowy alien forms with glowing eyes turn out to be...

Hot alien chicks!
Wasn't it every pre-pubescent male Creature Double Feature viewer's ultimate fantasy: To be friends with a giant monster like Gamera and then be abducted on a spaceship and brought to an alien world by these two lovelies. Sure, they wanted to eat the kids' brains, but still...

Callisi makes a point during a bumper before another commercial break

Franken Berry and Count Chocula argue about which is the best Monster Cereal
(Boo-Berry would join in in a moment)

One of the biggest cheers of the night came when this ad for the old Zayre department store came on

Time for Timer again!
This time he made "Sunshine on a Stick"!

"Hey Kool-Aid!"

Mego Spiderman and Hulk figures commercial

Now, if you were on a distant planet with two hot alien chicks, and they asked you what you were thinking about and what you most wanted...

...Would you say...

I think not!
But then again, these are little kids (and I do remember watching this as a kid and thinking that it would be cool to be on that ship and get some doughnuts and milk from those pretty ladies!)

Unfortunately, because of a long commute home, my friends and I had to leave midway through "Attack of the Monsters". We missed "Plan 9 from Outer Space" and the rest of the host segments and commercial breaks that were part of the remainder of the night. But even so we still had an awesome time, and we are hoping that somehow there will be a Creature Double Feature Round-Up 3 next year!!!