Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Everyone have a fun and safe New Year's Eve and a great and prosperous New Year! Hail!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Feast Of The Beast Holiday Edition

Hail All! I read recently that pork ribs are a traditional holiday food in Norway, so I figured I'd try to cook some up. This is the first time I've ever done ribs (not sure why, just never have), but they turned out pretty damn good, if I do say so myself.

It was about 39 degrees on this Texas morning when I fired up the coals...

Fire good.

Pork ribs, with some Stubbs BBQ Rub on them.

I put 'em on the outer edges of the fire, so they would cook slowly and not get burned.

I let them cook for a while, maybe 20-30 minutes, just enough to get a good grillin' on the outsides. Then, I took them inside, wrapped 'em in foil, and put them in the oven on 225 degrees for about three hours.

The finished product...they were super-tender. I may add some more spices to the rub next time, but otherwise, it was pretty good. Had some Stubbs BBQ Sauce, rolls, potatoes, and veggies on the side. Good eatin'! Hope you all had a good holiday today! Hail!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Hello all ! Here's to everyone having a safe and happy holiday season! Hail!

Monday, November 1, 2010


Some say that your costume reveals what you want to be; others say it reveals the true self...

...even Lycanthropes get thirsty...

...a beast's best friend is, well, another beast!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Leif Erikson Day 2010

Friends were gathered; food was eaten; mead, ale, and spirits were drank; horned helmets were worn; and a good time was had by all. Life is good, by Odin!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Feast of the Beast

Yesterday (Saturday, that is), it was such a beautiful day outside. Lately I've been suffering from the one-two punch of molds and ragweed, but I figured the best way to treat it would be to inhale smoke , drink copious amounts of hard cider (apples are good for you, right?), and eat vast quantities of red meat.

First up on the grill, bratwurst.

It's important for the grillmaster to keep from getting thirsty while working over a hot open flame. By the way, this Fall Cider is the shite.

Next , some mixed vegetables...carrots, zucchini, and potatoes, for those of you keeping score at home. The basket pictured here has a design flaw- there are gaps on the sides where pieces of veg can (and did) fall out when the basket is shaken/flipped. Sharp-eyed viewers will spot pieces of veg scattered on the grill in subsequent pics. Guess I'll cut the pieces bigger next time.

Next on the menu, bison burgers.

Last, but definately not least, a couple of baco-wrapped filets and a NY strip steak.

Insert 'hot buns' joke here.

Places are set...

...but beware of predators out to poach your meal...

...especially big Yeti-dogs. Hope you all had a great weekend. See ya!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Grading On A Curve, Pt. 1

If you haven't figured it out yet, I watch a lot of movies. I've always loved film, since I was a little kid. I mostly watch genre films, but I do take in the occasional mainstream flick ( I saw Up In The Air the other night, for example). Even amongst genre films, there's a wide variety to be found. For example, I did enjoy the two Iron Man movies, and I think the latest two Batman films are pretty damn good, genre or not. Still, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the independent film/ low budget movie, be it a labor of love or the quick exploitation flick.

A while back, I was discussing a movie ( don't remember which one) with a friend, and she , at one point in the conversation, said,"Is it a low-budget movie?", using the same tones one might use when looking at the bottom of their shoe after stepping in something. I'm telling you, just like I told her, low-budget isn't neccessarily a sign of low value.

Consider the average Hollywood takes millions to make one, once it's all said and done. A big expense is getting a big-name 'Star' to be in your flick. All those digital effects , locations, and everything else add up to a hefty price tag. So, why do most Hollywood movies suck? Well, a lot of these so-called 'Stars' can't act their way out of a paper bag. Maybe it's because I've seen a lot of 'effects ' movies, but most of the CGI I see in movies looks fake to me...maybe I just have too good of an eye for that sort of thing. The money sure as hell isn't being spent on scripts , that's for sure. Need a movie? Let's just do a movie version of an old TV show! Better yet, let's remake a great film from the 70s, or from a different country, but leave out everything that made it special in the first place! As always, there are exceptions, but for the most part, this is Hollywood.

Now, take into consideration the guy who lives somewhere that's not Hollywood, (say, the Midwest) who is shooting his movie on weekends, putting everything he has(which, admittedly, isn't much, at least financially speaking) into his work. OK, maybe the make-up and digital effects aren't the greatest. Maybe the actors aren't name actors, or possibly aren't all that good at acting. But maybe the story is clever, or has some thing unique to it . Maybe a few of the actors are doing a good job. Maybe this little homegrown film has something a bit different that you'll find entertaining, that you won't find at the big cineplexes.

When I decide how much I like a film (or if I even like it at all), there's a few factors that go into it. I do grade on a curve...I cut a lot more slack for the independent filmmaker, the 'Little Guy', if you will. Why? Think about it. How many big-budget Hollywood films have you seen that cost millions of dollars to make, and still sucked? Now, think about the low-budget guy, whose entire production costs don't equal the cost for craft services on the aforementioned Hollywood flick. I can be a bit forgiving if his zombie make-ups aren't top-notch, or if a few actors in his ensemble aren't ready for Shakespeare. But the movie that cost a gazillion dollars? Those fuckers have no excuse, in my book. They could hire better writers, have better effects, and get better actors.

Ultimately, whatever the budget, genre, etc, the main criteria I judge a film on is , did it entertain me? Did I get caught up in it, for whatever reason? To me, whether it's a film, a book, or even a song, if I can get pulled in to the point where I forget everything else while I'm watching/reading/listening to it, then that to me is the mark of a good piece of entertainment. If it also makes me think, or teaches me something, even better. But mostly, did it involve me? Did it make me feel something?

What criteria do you judge a flim by? Do you only see certain types of films? Do you only see the big-name flicks, or do you take a chance on something unheard of, just to check it out? I'm curious.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Attack of the Remakes

I'm not here today to talk about a particular film, but to address a cinematic phenomenon that's plaguing the Silver Screen lately...I'm talking about the Remake.

In the past several years, remakes have popped up like weeds in the yard that is Film. It seems like there's more remakes than original productions these days. There are remakes of older films, and even worse, films that are remakes of old TV shows...really, did we need a Dukes of Hazard or an A-Team movie?

Many of the films that have been remade were classics from the 70s or early 80s. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, and Dawn of the Dead are just a few of the films that fall into this category. Besides the fact that most of the people in charge in Hollywood seem to have a definite lack of originality or imagination, I think that name recognition is a main factor in these films being remade. The other is that the main demographic of cinemagoers, that is teens, have probably not seen these films.

I've only seen one of these remakes, that one being Dawn. At the insistance of a friend, I watched it. Was it terrible? No. Was it a total waste of time? No. Was it as good as the original? No. Was it at least good enough to warrant its existance? I think not. If the filmmakers just made their own zombie film, I probably wouldn't have a problem with it. But to call it by the same title as the original classic, well, that's calling a firecracker a it what you will, it just don't measure up. It was just unneccesary.

I know that some probably prefer the remakes over the originals. I read a book on zombie films recently that went so far as to say the remake of Dawn was better than George Romero's original undead opus. The writer of that book may truly believe that, but I believe that sometimes critics try to make a name for themselves by stirring the pot, and one way to do that is to attack established heroes and innovators of genres...I think they also get some kind of kick out of pissing fans off ( I've seen it in literary circles, too, where authors that have a following are slagged for whatever reason...Robert E. Howard, for example).

You can probably guess where I stand on the issue of remakes...but there are , as with all things (pun intended), exceptions to the rule. Two such exceptions that come to mind are John Carpenter's The Thing and David Cronenberg's The Fly. These were remakes done in the 80s instead of remakes of films from the 80s. Both films took their 50s sci-fi film source material as a mere starting point and made radical departures from the original source material. Carpenter's film was an excercize in paranoia , gore, and shape-shifting horror, and Cronenberg's film was , like most of his work, a tale of body horror . What makes these remakes stand head-and -mutated-shoulders above other remakes? First, they're both very well-done films. They took a films that were, let's face it, not all that great ( James Arness in a hokey monster suit and a guy with a big fly's head) and made masterpieces . The respective filmmakers took the material and put their own distinct spin on it. My problem with the Dawn remake is that the source material wasn't improved on ...unless you think fast-running zombies are the shit, then congrats, I got a movie for you. I suspect the same holds true for the other remakes lurking about.
The other remake trend I need to address here is that of the American Version Of A Great Foriegn Film. Case in point: Let Me In, the completely and totally unnecessary remake of the brilliant Swedish film Let The Right One In. The original, if you haven't seen it, is a wonderful movie...the best vampire film I've probably seen, and a damn good film in general. I think I can pin down the reasons this (and other foriegn films) is being remade instead of being put into wider release. Reason #1- Too much subltety, and dare I say it, artisticality( Is that even a word? Must be the Woodchuck hard cider talking). There are scenes of violence and gore, but they're interspersed with scenes of beauty and quiet, which aren't associated with Big Box Office Bucks here in the U.S. Reason #2-SUBTITLES. Gods forbid if we have to actually read while at the movies...might have an embolism or something. Hollywood makes assumptions on what we, as moviegoers, will watch, or want to watch.
So here's where I want your input, people. What do you think of remakes? What do you like to see in films? Are subtitles a deal-breaker for you? Is Hollywood correct in their take on the great unwashed masses waiting to watch movies? Do you think that your average American moviegoer wants something original, or the same old shit? What do you want? As for me, there's only so many hours in the day, and I'd rather watch some clever low-budget film , a Japanese-made splatterfest with cute girls and ridiculous body weapons , or a Norwegian Nazi Zombie epic ,than yet another remake of a classic (or not so classic) 70s/80s fright film. Talk to me, folks.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Museum of the Weird

Yesterday I went to the Museum of the Weird in Austin. How this place stayed under my radar for so long is beyond me, but I finally saw an ad for it and had to check it out. It's small, but very cool. I suggest you check it out if you're ever in the Austin area ( ).

The gift shop is full of cool and creepy items,too, and if you buy a t-shirt you get a free admission to the Museum. Being a t-shirt conessuir, I had to get one anyway, plus a couple of postcards and a Frankenstein fridge magnet as well...can't have too many Frankie items, you know.


Mummies and monsters abound...

I feel at home here! see you next time!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Hail to all out there in Blogland! Sorry for my abscence of posts; I'll try to be on here more regularly. Here are pictures of one of the reasons I haven't been on too much of late-my pup Magni. He's about a week shy of being 9 months old now. He's a happy pup, and is already a great watchdog. I've been spending a lot of time with him, and I've been taking him to training classes as well. He's almost as tall as me when he stands on his hind legs (I'm about 5'10"). He's put the fear of dog into several salesmen who've rang my doorbell. Anyway, enjoy the pics of my buddy, and I'll be back soon!

Friend to my friends, foe to my foes.

Here's a picture from last Winter when I got Magni, in case you haven't seen my earlier pics...that, and it's just so damn cute.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Farewell To Heroes, Pt. 2

Ronnie James Dio passed away this weekend. He was a man short in staure, but with the voice and heart of a giant. He fronted band such as Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and his self-titled band Dio.

Dio's voice was amazing. He could sing like an angel one moment, then, on the turn of a dime, change his voice to an evil growl. A friend of mine in college (who was into New Wave,mostly) said Dio's voice scared him. "He sounds like the Devil."

Dio's lyrics were often filled with metaphors and symbols. His songs were about Good and Evil, faraway realms and the innermost feelings of one's heart, fantasy and grim reality, and about dreams, and making them come true. His work was a grand mix of Light and Darkness.

Dio was also the first to use the famous hand sign known as 'The Horns'. Some PMRC-types swear it was a salute to Satan, but Dio actually got it from his little old Italian grandmother. The 'Maloche' was used both to protect one from the Evil Eye and to inflict it on others. I wonder what Grandma Dio would think about a sea of metalheads using her signature move at a concert.

Dio, though accused of being evil (like most Metal practitioners during their careers), did good works, including the recording Stars, sort of a Metal response to We Are The World. As mentioned above, for every song Dio wrote about darkness and evil, he had one with a positive message...Wishing Well and Hungry For Heaven come to mind.
Dio's music was a big part of my childhood, and adulthood, actually. I can renember hearing Rainbow's Man on the Silver Mountain on the radio when I was a young beast, and I also recall being very pleased with his work in Black Sabbath when he replaced Ozzy Osborne (I'm one of the few who actually like the Dio years better than the Ozzy years of Sabbath , so let the hate mail begin). I have fond memories of playing pool in my basement, listening to Sabbath's Mob Rules, and, of course, Heaven and Hell, a masterpiece of Metal, in my not-too-humble opinion. I, of course, ran out to get his solo stuff when he left Sabbath...I'm still not tired, 20 years later, of Rainbow In The Dark ( though my favorite cut off that album is Straight Through The Heart). When I took voice lessons in college, I used a music book of Rainbow's Rising during class to sing songs from. I followed him through the years as he rejoined Sabbath, left for solo-land again, and rejoined Sabbath yet again. I felt bad when I heard he had stomach cancer, and was relieved when news got out that he was doing better...then, last Sunday when news got out that he died, it was like a shadow passing overhead. Like Frank Frazetta's passing, it felt like something that has always been around in my life has left...but, I guess, their work, their pictures and songs, will still be with me, and others whom they've touched. The world is diminished, but there's a new skald singing songs in valhalla, and there's a new artist to paint wondrous works on the walls of the mead halls in Asgard. Hail Frazetta; Hail Dio.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Farewell to Heroes Pt. 1

This has been a bad week for me concerning celebrity deaths. These things don't usually bother me much, but two that have passed on this week were heroes of mine since I was a kid.

The first was Frank Frazetta. Frazetta, for those who don't know, was the Heroic Fantasy artist, period. He'es probably best known for his covers for the Conan books of the 70s. His work also appeared on album covers , most famously Molly Hatchet's. The painting to the left, The Barbarian, is my favorite, and a print hangs in my living room. Besides setting the classic scene of victorious warrior with his 'spoils', take a moment to really look at this work. The mound of corpses and the woman are a bit hazy, but as the eye travels upward, the central figure is in sharp focus, commanding attention. also, the hazy sky behind reveals dark images, perhaps of his future, or his past. It is a work of art that fairly hums with power and vitality.

Another favorite of mine is The Death Dealer. Instead of the typical Grim Reaper, we have an armored avatar of Death. His axe is scythe-like, and the carrion birds in the sky behind him tell his role. Like The Barbarian, even though the main figure of the piece is still (for now), there is a feeling of power and dynamism to it, as if at a moment's notice he could spring to destructive action, hewing down all in his way.

As a kid, I was mesmerized by Frazetta's work. I'd stare for what seemed like hours at his works, wishing I was in those worlds. His dangerous warriors, his fearsome beasts, his curvy, sensual women, they all fairly burned with life and power, a feat many other fantasy painters with their stiff, posed paintings could never, ever match. Frazetta's work, much like that of author Robert E. Howard ( who's tales were illustrated by frazetta's paintings, more often than not), was something I came to appreciate more as I grew older. I could better appreciate his masterworks as I began to understand them better. Frazetta suffered a series of strokes in his 70s, and lost use of his right hand. What did he do? He taught himself to paint with his left hand. Left-handed, he could still out-paint , well, damn near anyone.

If anyone is interested, check out the documentary Painting With Fire. Shot a few years ago, it's a great picture of a great artist.

Frank, you'll be missed.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Texas Frightmare Weekend Pt. 2

Texas Frightmare Weekend was a great time. In addition to the celebrities inside, outside was a hearse and shock rod show. I got to talk to some of the hearse owners, and they were all cool guys. One gave me a frisbee and a bunch of pens with his tattoo shop logo on them (gotta love swag..and check out Ink Pushers Tattoo Emporium if you're ever in the area).

Pictured here is the vehicle for a haunted house attraction in Arlington, Zombie Manor.

The back of the Manor wagon.

Care to go for a ride?

The hotel restaraunt had a special menu made up for the event...I, of course, had to have the Frankenstein Burger.
Besides the celebs, hearses, and food, there were dealers selling t-shirts, books, DVDs, jewelry, clothes, CDs, and there was even a tattoo artist present. Among the treasures I took home : a mini-poster of Dawn of the Dead, signed by George Romero, a DVD of Tromeo and Juliet signed by Debbie Rochon, and a t-shirt from the Rue Morgue magazine booth (the best magazine about horror in culture, in my not-so-humble opionion). There were also showings of various films, but since I was only there for the day, I passed on the viewings this time around. Maybe next year!
TFW was fun, and money and time willing, I may just go for the whole weekend next year. I'll definately be back in some way or another. If you're into horror, check oit out next says the Beast.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Texas Frightmare Weekend Pt. 1

Texas Frightmare Weekend was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Dallas this weekend. I went on Saturday. It was the first horror convention (or any kind of convention) I've attended, and it was a blast.

Here, the Zombie Walk participants close in on the hotel.

They're getting closer....

Kim and I got to meet Elvira (Cassandra Peterson). She was nice, and she still looks great.

George Romero, the man behind Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Creepshow, and many others. Meeting him was a highlight of the show for me.

Me with Debbie Rochon ( Tromeo and Juliet, Terror Firmer, Colour From The Dark, The Good Sisters, etc.). Debbie is not only a fine actress and a beautiful woman, but she's also a very nice person. Meeting her in person was very cool.

More pictures and creepy stuff to come...