Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lurking For Dr. Paul Bearer...My Saturday Writing Influence

Doctor Paul Bearer's Creature Feature Laid The Foundation For My Obsession With Science Fiction And Horror And Was A Huge Part Of My Saturday Television Time.

Saturday.  There was a time when it was a day of special meaning.  Its importance is now pretty much lost to changes in technology and those cultural changes that go hand and hand with it.  For Me growing up, especially in Florida, Saturday meant three things.  First and foremost it was they day that Dr. Paul Bearer's Creature Feature came on WTOG Channel 44.  Later on I discovered My second Saturday television joy, Doctor Who on WEDU PBS Channel 3.  And finally, when I was in middle school, I truly began to embrace pro-wrestling, and NWA Championship Wrestling From Florida (now FCW) came on at 7:00, also on Channel 44, where the greatest commentator in history, the late Gordon Solie, called all the action.

Of course the world moved on.  Saturday began to loose its importance.  It's become just another day within the  last 20 years.  However sometimes things you loose get to come back.  Doctor Who met with cancellation near the end of the 80's and came back stronger than ever in 2005.  Championship Wrestling From Florida was acquired by Jim Crockett Promotions and along with NWA Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and the Universal Wrestling Federation as well as a few other JCP territories were merged to form WCW, however the promotion was revived time and again by various promoters and within the last couple of years now called FCW (Florida Championship Wrestling) it acts as WWE's developmental promotion.

Creature Feature though, despite one attempt at a revival, is unfortunately gone forever.  The host of the show, Dick Bennick, passed away in 1995, not long after I moved to Missouri.  Despite the fact that Channel 44 promised that horror movies would always fill the 12:00 P.M. time slot it was a promise that never materialized, mainly due to the fact that the station had planned to re-run the series, but met with the objection of Bennick's family.  Bennick initially developed the character of  Dr. Paul Bearer in the late 60's while he was hosting another weekly horror movie feature program in North Carolina and long before the former Percival Pringle III, Bill Moody, became Paul Bearer in the WWF.  Initially he played the skull face painted Count Shockula, but decided that he never liked the character, and according to several websites, through the magic of television, he found a way to appear as the ill fated Count and the good Doctor at the same time, Bearer  driving a stake through Shockula's heart and taking over "his" show.

In 1971, the year before I was born, Channel 44's Creature Feature began its run.  I was too young  to remember the program as it began, initially running four features every Saturday in an 8 hour program block.  I am sure I would have been in "hog heaven" if I could remember that time.  However I do remember the show when it presented two of what Dr. Paul Bearer referred to as "horrible old movies", the Saturday double feature format continued on until I was nearly in middle school, and whether I was at home or at Grandma's from 12 to 4 I was glued to the screen.

To say that I was influenced by the movies that appeared on Creature Feature would be an understatement.  And it wasn't just the movies that I looked forward to, but also to the host segments, because it just wasn't a Saturday without Dr. Paul Bearer's mock advertisements, wisecracks and eerie presence.  Even if the movies had been on before, or if they were something that I was not really interested in seeing I wanted to know what Dr. Paul would say or do.  Unlike Elvira or the crew of the Satellite of Love the good Doctor didn't really joke or comment directly on the films, but he did some off the wall stuff like, smoking his coffin nails, or eating Chicken McMaggots, or getting beat with his "Mummy's" purse, and occasional be asked, "Your money or your life," by a burglar, to which he happily gave his life (A copy of Life Magazine that is).  He always presented the films  from the un-living room of his Tenement Castle, and there was always a least a prop or two on the coffin table.  Every now and then he was joined by a static and wisecracking spider known as Spenjamin Bock.  And of course once in a great while he also retreated to the music room where he lip sank such Tom Leher classics as 'Posioning Pigeons In The Park'.

Dr. Paul Bearer and Spenjamin Bock

There were two pictures decorating the walls of the Tenement Castle that will always stick out in My mind, and often shown before the show cut to a commercial.  One was of a cross-stitch that proclaimed Tomb Sweet Tomb.  There happens to be a copy of this in The Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom, although I am not quite sure if there is any relationship between them, or in fact the origin of the cross-stitch itself.  The other is an illusionary painting I believe it titled Vanity.  It is a picture of a woman at her dressing table that also makes the picture of a skull.  You may already be aware that I have a thing for skulls and skeletons, and I can pretty much assure you that that initially came from watching Creature Feature as well.

A painting I believe called Vanity adorned a wall of Dr. Paul Bearer's Tenement Castle

My Skelaton Belaton icon bares an unintentional and superficial resemblance to the illusionary skull in the painting.
Bennick himself was also a radio personality during the week, and he lived in Winter Haven, which was one of the next towns over from where I lived in Auburndale growing up.  When I was about ten I met  Dr. Paul Bearer for the first time.  He was judging a Halloween costume contest at the Winter Haven Speedway (now the Auburndale Speedway).  I was dressed as a clown, and at the time I had no clue of the possible horror there was at being a clown, or that there were even people who had a fear of clowns.  (I still had not seen Halloween at that time.)  He complimented Me on the costume, and I had asked what movies he was going to be showing the next week, because at the time I believed that it aired live.  He told me I would have to "lurk and see" because it was a secret.  Of course that got to My proto-fan boy heart, because he ended each show by welcoming the viewers back every week for more "horrible old movies" and signing off with the catchphrase "I will be lurking for you."  (Which I did paraphrase as "We will be lurking for you", for the Meet the Author's Chat Night I did with Nicola Matthews).  When I was in high school I would occasionally catch sight of him driving around Winter Haven in his hearse, yes he actually did drive a Cadillac hearse around town, and despite the fact I was nearly an adult it still gave Me a thrill every time I saw him.

Dr. Paul Bearer and Creature Feature were the first things that influenced Me to become a writer.  Every week there were movies from the 30's to the 70's when I was a kid.  I was treated to a share of Universal Classics and Corman  Monsterpieces.  I saw more than a few Hammer Horror films, and was introduced to Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing well before they ever appeared in Star Wars films.  Lugosi, Price, Karloff and the Carridnes were other genre actors I became aware of early on, and I was treated to programmers and drive-in delights from Europe and Asia as well as more home grown Sci-Fi and  B Horror movies.  I saw the original King Kong months before the 1976 remake hit the screens through Creature Feature.  I was also given My introduction to tokusatsu on Saturday mornings, and quite often hoped more than anything that there would be a Godzilla or Gamera movie on.  Even beyond the classic Japanese monsters I saw a couple of the Super-Giant films as well as the Dai-Majin series, and Attack Of The Mushroom People (Matango).  One time, when I was in the sixth grade, I even got to see full frontal, naked, white girl boobies, when apparently a European film with a strip scene had not been edited closely enough.  (Woo-Hoo!)

The Super-Giant Series (A.K.A. Starman in the U.S.) were My first taste of a non-Kaiju toku.

Alien council from the Super-Giant films.
A few years back the return of Creature Feature was announced.  I was pretty jacked, especially since the week after the relaunch I was going to be on vacation and would actually be home to see My Saturday morning writing influence come back.  I was interested to see how the show would fare with its new host, Professor Paul Bearer II and to see what format changes would be done to present the show to a new and more "modern" audience.  Alas it was not to be.  There was no Creature Feature that day, the revival apparently canceled after only a single episode.  So again I floundered without My Saturday fix of "horrible old movies".

Original double feature poster for I Was A Teenage Werewolf and Invasion Of The Saucer Men.  Such creature double features were the fodder for My imagination.
Now seven years have passed, and I am sure that unlike Doctor Who and FCW that Creature Feature will never be back.  Recently I decided to revisit many of the movies that I first through Dr. Paul Bearer's presentation on Saturday afternoons.  True they're not the same without the good Doctor sitting in the un-living room of the Tenement castle, but to some extent I now have that old excitement I used to feel when watching them, which was the best Saturday escape, and the sign that the weekend has truly arrived.  Now My son is a little jaded, weened on CGI and big  time special effects, and the lady vyle prefers to do a little cross-stitching of her own as I watch, but every now and then they do get a little in to the stories.  And I still do have a couple of Creature Features I video taped, such as Diary Of A Madman, and Destroy All Monsters, complete with Dr. Paul "singing" 'Posioning Pigeons In The Park'.

Dr. Paul Bearer and his horrible old movies have been with  Me pretty much from the beginning of My writing hobby.  Corman's Poe films inspired many of My early poems, and Bleeders, which  I consider My first short story, was definitely inspired by Corman's Attack Of The Giant Leeches.  Before beginning work on Whispers Of Darkness I did a couple of dry writing runs, penning updated adaptations of Godzilla King Of The Monsters and Mothra to see if I could write something beyond 50 pages, both movies I developed a love for by seeing them over and over on Creature Feature.

As well as Doctor Who and pro-wrestling there are several references to Doctor Paul Bearer and Creature Feature in My stories, and there will continue to be as long as I write.  King Kong Vs. Godzilla, a movie I was particular jacked to see when I found out that Creature Feature was going to have it on, was referenced  in My first erotic short story, Older Is Bedder.  Dr. Paul has been paid homage to as Colonel Creepy in Fungi and as Count Shockula, named after his former ego and nemisis, in Shadows Of The Night and Story Number Two of the Fungi Collection that I am currently working on.  Dr. Paul and Creature Feature were even directly referenced in the original version of Whispers Of Darkness, although the reference will be changed to Count Shockula to fit into the Shadows Of The Night continuity I am building.  Colonel Creepy will probably have a cameo in Story Three of the Fungi Collection, and Shockula may appear in another of the stories in the collection as well.

Late 70's early 80's title card for Creature Feature.
Will there ever be another Dr. Paul Bearer or Creature Feature?  Alas, no, I don't believe so.  However the influence and impact that Dr. Paul and his horrible old movies had on Me, My writing and My sense of gross humor will never be undone.  It is My greatest hope that somehow, someday, the series will be released on DVD.  It's unlikely, but it is the only way that the good Doctor will ever truly come back from the grave to provide Me with that Saturday writing influeence I still crave.  Until then Dr. Paul Bearer, I will be lurking for you.

Master Vyle

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I Needed A Motto Of Some Sort...Right

So many people use mottoes, and time and again I've been accused of writing garbage by some, while congratulated for writing brilliant stories of substance by others.  There was a paper back in the early 20th Century that used the motto "All the news fit to print", so I decided to borrow it and paraphrase it for House Of Master Vyle.  All things considered I think it fits.

Master Vyle

I Stand Corrected...However...

Okay.  First off I have to say that I hate it when someone does not have all their facts straight.  When it comes to facts, or the usage of facts, it bothers me to see someone get their facts wrong.  I like to be as dead on as possible.  I think of myself as a research machine, and in fact I've written more notes and notations that I've ever written stories.  So when I get something wrong I feel stupid, especially when the subject at hand is reality and not fiction.  However, when I'm wrong I can admit to being wrong.  I could piss and moan and scream, "Sour Grapes!".  I could say that, damn, I should have used more than one instance, which I should have.  But the fact is I, in my last post, cited one instance of a post being removed from a certain story submission site's forum section and was wrong about it, I thought I was right, but was in fact wrong and mistaken, because I didn't bother to go back and double check.

For that I am sorry.  I mean, I hate it, I'm sorry to be wrong, especially when it's on such a public forum as my own blog, which has thus far a grand total of eight followers (YAY ME!).  I can stand up and apologize for being incorrect without again saying I should have pointed out other instances where forums vanished because someone got their proverbial panties in a bunch, but no I can't, I only cited the one, and since I was wrong about it, I'm sorry.  I could have let my post remain up for time immemorial as a tribute to all my other criticisms, but if you read the blog, and considering only two people actually read the blog who both share the same first name, and one of them left a supportive comment and the other was pissed I decided that there was no need to leave it despite the fact I retract that statement with this post.  I just felt that it was the right thing to do.

I spent several days thinking over what my response should be, or if there should even be a response at all to the e-mails I received from the owner of that site.  I have, even though I initially told that person that I had no plans to leave their site, deleted my account from that site.  Not due to being wrong, or  being told what a bad boy I was, or being called a hypocrite (a case of the little kettle calling the pot black).

But before I go any further, I again have to say, I'm sorry for getting my facts wrong.  I'm sorry, for venting, ranting, even having a little fun on my own personal blog for my eight followers instead of posting in on the forums of your site where the dozens and dozens of people who frequent those forums on a daily basis could have seen it.  I don't know any other or better way to say I am sorry, so let me do so in the form of an eCard.

Okay, I know what you're thinking.  No I'm not being racial.  Socks the Cat isn't trying to say that Foster's is Australian for sorry.  In fact I'm sure that I'm sorry is Australian for I'm sorry.  Either that of a 1.5 liter bottle of Yellow Tail Sparkling White.

I'm sorry, for not having my facts straight, for pointing out a post that in fact had not been removed from forums.

I'm sorry, for not getting the fact that STORIES is in the domain name and not WRITERS.  After all it was that mistake, coupled with what seems to be your disdain for the actual writers on your site, that was one of the motivating reasons I decided that I would rather disassociate myself from your site, instead of as I said, waiting around until the Band had finally drowned before I pulled out.

You questioned my statement about saying that what attracted me to your site was that it was a community of budding writers helping each other out.  You asked, AND I QUOTE, "And where does that take place exactly? Behind closed doors?  In the occasional forum post?"

Well, if you don't realize that there is in fact a community of writers on your site it only goes to show how out of touch with the site you are.  So to my list I'll add, I'm sorry for being part of a writing community, a network, an underground railroad of writers who actually give a rat's ass about helping each other out and encouraging each other existing on your site without your knowledge, Nay without your permission!  I'm sure it's unthinkable.  Why would there be?  I mean that would mean that not every independent writer out there isn't some back stabbing little bitch who keeps the secrets of their success guarded closely in case someone they might help out should, heaven forbid, be more successful than they are!

No I guess I didn't get it and I should have.  Again the name on the marquee is STORIES and not WRITERS.  I'm sorry, I didn't get it.  I should have realized it.

I'm also sorry I didn't get your focus.  Me, a guy who prides himself on having an uncannily expert ability to read between the lines, didn't see your focus.  I should have picked up your main focus from some of our early communications, after I actually joined your site, when you started talking about business and business tools.  I should have realized then your main focus was not on writing and writers, but was in fact on money.  I'm so sorry, how stupid I was for not getting it.

I'm sorry for being the only person to actually, in any way, shape or form, publicly disagree with the addition of a professional writer to your site.  Sorry about saying what I though of the ass kiss fest, for someone with apparently nothing better than to do than to give away for free the advice she had written in some Idiot's Guide To Writing Erotica.  I didn't know that, And I QUOTE, "Looking at the number of story submissions daily, which are littered with basic spelling and grammar mistakes, sometimes with no formatting whatsoever, very little plot or character development etc, it shows that many of the people who submit NEED the kind of advice that Morgan gives."  So I didn't understand, obviously that you're not looking for writers, but instead for stories, from anybody.  So you'll take what you can get, ad a professional to train them, so that first paragraph or two at least looks good before they casual reader takes off the the Dare Dorm or the good old Facebook O Sex, which is where they really want to be, and where the revenue actually is. 

No, I guess I was not looking at the "big picture".  I guess that I was not being fair when I ranted my opinion, but it is my blog and there's nothing on the marquee that says I have to be fair on my personal blog, just as there's nothing on the marquee of your site that says you have to be fair either.

Yes, I understand it must be hard, for someone who belly aches about people attempting to start multiple accounts on her site and stating that the act is forbidden around every other month, to actually keep up multiple accounts of their own, for the sole purpose of giving writing advice.  Really?  Is that all your other aliases do?  Just offer advice?

That was the other thing, that revelation, that made me decide I didn't feel comfortable remaining a member of your site.  If the owner of a website feels they have to use an alias, for any reason, to speak to its members, while misrepresenting themselves to the members about the fact they are the owner of the site is totally suspect.

Oh, I know.  You think I might be putting my best face forward.  You may say, well you're distorting the facts, skewing them to fit your perception.  Well, maybe so, and who doesn't.  The fact of the matter is I no longer give a flying wallaby crap about your opinion.  You see, I know there are those writers out there working together to help each other out.  Call us amateurs, call us independents, we're there.  There may not be a forum in your site that says Amateur Writers Helping Each Other, I may not have given some "great pearl" of wisdom every single day in forums when I was a member of your site, but that doesn't mean that it didn't happen, or that people who consider themselves "real" writers don't form bonds and help each other out on your side "behind closed doors."

So, yeah, like your pet professional writer I put my best face forward.  Why not?  I mean you look on her profile and see a pretty image, much preferable to the one on her site where she looks like a rejected extra from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.

"Two men enter, one man leaves!  Two men enter, one man leaves!"

Again, I'm sorry I didn't stick around until she wrote a post on the proper use and crediting of quotes.  I mean, I'm obviously not an established professional, but I was always under the impression that quotes from a film were either attributed to the film, the screen writer in certain cases, or the character within the film, and not the actor.  I mean, I'm pretty sure that there was a character named Professor Van Helsing in Bram Stoker's Dracula and not named Anthony Hopkins, but it is to Hopkins she attributes the quote to on the home page of her site.  So in advance, I'm sorry for being wrong, and I that means I need to go back and change the attribution of a quote I recently used from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes back to Mark Hamil, rather than attributing it to Luke Skywalker or even George Lucas.

Skewed views, and facts.  Skewed quotes.  Yes, skewed quotes.  Anyone can look up a quote on abizillionfamousquotations.com and use it in whatever context they wish, even more easily so when they do not know the context a quote was used in the first place.  And that for me what what got the ball rolling, before she was even graced to be the pet staff writer on your site.  It was a quote from the late great Dr. Issac Asimov, in which he stated something to the effect that if you take the science fiction elements out of a science fiction story and you still have a story that works then you did it wrong.  She went on to expound on this, if you took the erotic elements out an erotic  story and it still works you did it wrong.  And like mindless sheep others were saying yeah, if you take this out of this and you still have a story that still works you did it wrong.

Well, it's not that I disagree with Dr. Asimov.  And in truth I probably do not disagree with him, as I do not know the full before and after of this statement.  The meat of the argument.  The context if you will.  I can't say that he is completely wrong, seeing as there was a single sentence and obviously not the full and complete statement of what he is saying.

If you take the science fiction elements out of a science fiction story and you still have a story that works you did it wrong.


If you take the main element, the subject, the genre elements out of a story, and it still works it means you're a damn good writer.  PERIOD!

There was a long and drawn out post about how to write fetish stories.  What to do.  What to avoid.

Hummmmm.  Instead of writing all you did as if you were giving a lecture, a clinic, on fetish writing, a lecture being given to a bunch of idiots your sponsor feels didn't even pass grammar school, then perhaps it would have been best, since your information in its boiled down state is the early basics simply state the #1 universal rule of writing, Write only about things you know about.

But I forget we're talking about a bunch of sheep writing sheep crap and not real writers.  That's why I thought the whole thing about using other characters you know, characters from other works and TV and the movies, to base your characters on so they sounded as if you had put real work into them was in my opinion so precious.  After all that's everyone's goal if they can't create a good and true character, just plagiarize the idea from something that works.  I guess that's why some writers get comments like, oh, I loved it, it was just like reading an Anne Rice story, just by someone else.  We call that Mock-Poe 'round hea'h in the South, sweetie pie.

Hell why encourage anyone to write original?  To come up with characters, ideas and stories that are original?  Oh, I almost forgot, real, original and actual stories might hold the reader's interest, preventing them from going to the Dare Dorm or Facebook O Sex!

Again, I'm sorry for ranting on, giving my personal opinion on my own personal blog.

I was told that I should look at the site and enjoy it for what it was.  So I did.  I looked through your eyes and found that you were right.  It was not full of budding writers helping each other, those were just rare aberrations.  No, what I saw was a lot of cyber grab-ass, forums full of teenage games, the possibility that I was about to be rewarded with a "badge" on my profile page for being there for a year like some first grader being rewarded for showing up to class with a little sticker.  What I saw was yahoo.com's yahoo chat circa 2001 without the chat rooms devoted to every deviant perversion known to man.

So with this in mind, I reversed my decision and deleted my account.  I will get along quite fine without your site, and your site will get along quite fine without me.  Because the truth is, when you get down to it, is in this day and age budding writers need not be associated with any website to accomplish their goals.  I am grateful for the friends that I have made through your site.  I'm also appreciative for what support you did give me, and for being allowed a chance to advertise my book through your forums.  I'm grateful for the lessons I learned from being on your site and for the experience of being on your site, as all experience is the fodder for writing.  I wish you all the best of  luck with all your future endeavors.

And truly, "That's all I got to say about that."

Master Vyle