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Posts Tagged ‘Vincent Price’

A Little Christmas Ham

Posted by Dirck on 18 December, 2020

I will warn you at the outset– this presentation of the Dickens classic is… not great. I have no idea what the intended form of presentation was. Early TV? C reel in theatres? No clue. But the acting is… mostly not quite there.

Why am I offering it, then? Two reasons. One is the remarkable interpretation of the Ghost of Christmas Present; he’s generally promoted as a roaring giant (give yourself a treat if you get that reference), but I can’t think of anything else where he’s shown as an angry professional wrestler.

The other– Vincent Price narrates! It’s worth the struggle to listen to him read, and occasionally be shown his warm expressions.

Rest ye merry, folks. We’re almost through to the solstice.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Taranis
Today’s ink: Herbin Violette Pensée

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There Was a Hill…

Posted by Dirck on 25 October, 2019

My enjoyment of creepy stuff goes far back into my childhood, and part of it was exposure to Vincent Price. Without anyone prompting me to do so, I picked up an LP of Price reading stories on a trip to the library, and I’ve always remembered it.

Guess what I just found:

What really stuck through the years was the opening line of the penultimate track, “Gobbleknowll”. Listening to it again… man, my parents were not vetting my selections at the library very well. I was no more than seven when I listened to that thing.

It may explain a little about how I am now.

Today’s pen: Pelikan New Classic
Today’s ink: Diamine Bilberry

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We All Scream…

Posted by Dirck on 1 June, 2018

Summer! At last!  I will not mention the torrential rains we’ve had here over the past couple of days, because some damp is sorely needed and the downpours were accompanied by delightful summer-type thunder and lightning.  Except this morning.  Anyway, today’s video is about something very bound up with summer.

Not ice cream.

Roller coasters. You keep summer in your way, and let me keep it in mine.

I am also moved to show this because I missed even mentioning Vincent Price’s birthday last week.

Truth be told, I go through rather more ice cream than roller coasters, but VINCENT PRICE!

Today’s pen: Wing Sung 601
Today’s ink: Jentle blue-black

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Three Ravens, No Waiting.

Posted by Dirck on 14 October, 2016

Because tastes vary, and we like to compare our choices, today’s film selections are really as much a public service as a filler of space on a Friday.

 

 

 

I know which one I prefer, but there’s no wrong choice.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer J5-30SC
Today’s ink: Herbin Vert Empire

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Bonus Birthday Edition

Posted by Dirck on 27 May, 2016

Just a little vignette from some lunch-proximate errand-running, which I find I have a moment to relate.

While standing behind the person being served at a store, I find the clerk addressing me thus after taking in my houndstooth sport coat, snap-brim fedora (not a Trilby, although I favour a c-dent), and horn-rims:  “Hey, man, you look like a villain!

I have no problem with this.  Apart from the fact that he’s smiling and happy as he says this, I’m well aware that villains have a loads of agency in the story in which they appear, that apart from the very last moments of that story’s climax they tend to have a lot more fun, and that the villain is usually a good deal more interesting than the villain.  You don’t see a lot of films entitled Johnny Harker and His Polite Victorian Chums, right?  I therefore smile myself and, in dramatic fashion, say, “Uh-oh!  I’m found out!”

“Yeah, you know, like those guys in the old Hollywood movies…”

…at which I feel myself inflate slightly…

“…like from the ’80s and ’90s!”

I believe my smile may have become a little rigid at that point.  I will not tar all Millennials because one of their number views as much as 36 years ago as “old”, but I will shake my head over the folly of the individual.

It is not my birthday.  It is the birthday of villains.  You know.  From the old Hollywood movies.

ThreeGreats

The back row’s birthdays are 27 May 1922 and 1911, with the odd man out being 26 May 1913.  A damn good season for villains, and head-shaking aside, an auspicious day to be labeled as one.  Thanks anyway, kid.

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It’s a Monkees’ Song

Posted by Dirck on 31 October, 2013

Before I get stuck right into the meat/ectoplasm of today’s entry, I’ll point out that in addition to this week having the bestest of semi-pagan festival days, the next day is Fountain Pen Day.  It’s time to start thinking about what pen or pens you’re going to use for the big day!

Here we are, then, the very day of Hallowe’en, when according to some the barriers between this mundane world and the spectral are at their thinnest.  Might a ghost come knocking at your door tonight?  Chances are good that if one does, a pair of entirely reassuring sneakers will be peeping out from under the winding shroud.  On the other hand, who knows what is inside that hobo costume that just stands at the foot of the driveway…?  A while ago over at the Fountain Pen Network, in the area reserved for discussions about things not necessarily pen related, someone posed this question: Do you believe in ghosts?  The discussion it prompted was interesting, in that it showed that there are (among fountain pen enthusiasts) four main lines of though on the topic:

  1. Yes, although I have had no direct contact with with anything of that sort;
  2. Yes, because of personal experience;
  3. No, because I’ve had no direct contact with anything of that sort;
  4. No, same as #3 plus all the forces of Science and Reason demand I say “no.”

Well, it's a pic

Active fakery, actual somethingidity,artifact of the recording tech, or the human predilection to see humans?  Hard to say. (click to go to source)

I am, as very covertly implied by the title of this entry, in the second category.  I have, back in the earlier days of this effort, told a story or two of the several I could offer.  I might, and indeed did in the FPN discussion, hedge a little about what I mean by “ghost” for the purpose of this discussion.  While we typically think “person, absent the material portion”, I am quite happy to stick all sorts of qualifiers into that description.  Since the whole notion of ghosts orbits a rather broader realm of mysterious things and stuff, I’m not going to assume that any ghostly events are the result of a residual human intellect, soul or what have you.  Could be, but I don’t know it and such evidence as there is tends to be somewhat filtered through whatever medium (which may or my not be a woman with too much jewelry on) generates it.  But I accept the existence of ghostly events through having enjoyed some pretty low-key versions of them and so I’ll say as a short of shorthand that yes, I believe in ghosts, because saying “I believe in some sort of possibly sentient force which acts by unknown means upon the physical world and upon the awareness of people, and which is difficult to record consistently with modern technological devices” takes a long damn time.

I insist on my position because I don’t wish to deny my own direct experience, and also because some of the stuff other people bring forth as evidence indicates either active fakery or actual… somethingness.  Hilarious as the Ghost Adventures Crew frequently are, some of their images get the little hairs to stir.  As someone in group 2, I appreciate the open-minded support of group 1, with some reservations I’ll go into below, but I also understand the stance of group 3 and 4.  I can, despite where I land, also support the 3s, since it is the sort of thing that is a little hard to take seriously, but I have to admit that despite my long-standing respect for Science and Reason, the folks of 4 get my back up.

This is mainly because I like to think that I’ve examined my own ghostly adventures carefully for alternative explanations, and I also like to think that I’m relatively bright.  Group 4 was pretty strident in its collective approach, and that stridency might be taken as a statement something like this: “You’re just too DUMB to see the REAL cause of whatever happened, so you made up a boogerman to explain it.”  I’m not above responding to insults with anger, although I’m trying not to make it the whole of my response to those in that group.

I don’t recall if the old saw about extraordinary theories calling for extraordinary proof got played upon under its own name in that discussion, but the sense of it was certainly in the air.  We in group 2 were, as I mention above, missing something.  One of the others offered a very long list of plausible alternative explanations for an event, many of them quite popular debunkings, and none of which quite supported the event itself– none of these, nor anything else he could think of, therefore eerie, but please suggest what I might have missed.  The response was somewhat dismissive– it’s not our place to provide you with the real explanation, you have to think of everything that might be the other explanation and explain why it isn’t.  I would not like to find myself in a criminal proceeding with this sort of burden of negative proof.

Of course, just because it seems at first blush to be mere noise doesn't mean there isn't something there.

Just because it seems at first blush to be mere noise doesn’t mean there isn’t something there.

I think this stance bugs me because for all it swaddles itself in the cloak of scientific rigour is that it doesn’t admit the possibility of its theory being incorrect.  I quote without attribution: “I… cannot conceive of any event that would cause me to believe that ghosts, spirits or demons were responsible.”

That’s problematic.  It’s the sort of uncritical stance on how the world works that gives me some pause about the fine folks in group 1, although they and group 3 are really just slightly manifestations of the same thing, a Maybe that leaned slightly to one side.  I may believe in ghosts, in my shorthand way, but if someone presents a workable explanation of a phenomenon I like to think I might amend my stance.  For example, I am willing to dismiss vast swathes of electronic voice phenomena, creepy and interesting as they may be, because most of them are so unclear one makes words out of them in much the same way as one makes makes a face out of the grain in wood panelling.  Some, though, give the honest critic something to seriously ponder.

To say, though, that one rules something out entirely regardless of what might be flung in one’s face, seems overly dogmatic.  I could just as easily refuse to believe in Ascension Island; even if transported there, I could cling to that position with cries of “this is just some other island!”  I would, however, be a silly and obdurate person.

The other thing that struck me about the fourth group’s responses was the edge of anger that lay down them.  It wasn’t merely the smugness of not being gullible like we poor dummies on the Yes side of the equation, which I could understand even though I wouldn’t appreciate the sentiment behind it.  I initially took it to be the sort of wrath felt by those who saw clearly feel towards the misled, a related sentiment to that examined in a blog I was looking at earlier today, one which I frequently feel in when I hear people banging on about the connection between autism and vaccinations or the conspiracy to fake moon landings.  It is easy to get angry at people who cling to insupportable positions in the face of evidence to the contrary.

The problem, of course, is that in the case of group 2 we’re clinging in the face of evidence to the anti-contrary, some of us have seriously considered alternative, and the contrary stance offers no evidence other than shouting “That’s silly, and it can’t happen because it can’t be explained.”

I was discussing this whole affair with my wife, who has rather better ghost sightings in her background than I, and is also a Group 2 member.  She posited that the anger probably lies in two regions. The first is that the idea of ghosts, in the more usual sense of some residue of humans lingering after their demise, if offensive to the beliefs of the angry folks– either that residue should have been transported tidily to the appropriate afterlife destination (religious belief), or the cannot be residue because life is a mere biochemical process and human awareness a simple side effect thereof (also religious belief, because atheism is a shared system of belief).  The second is one that got me into a state of high humour– they’re angry at the prospect that these unseen entities are hanging around watching them do stuff they’d rather not have non-participants watching.  Anger predicated on, amongst other things, pooping shame.

After my initial reflected anger with the 4 folk, I find I can’t sustain the emotion.  I’ve got my own smugness founded on knowing I’m right, and I sort of agree with them regarding the desperate flakiness of some of the notions that attach to belief in ghosts.  It’s only important if one is beset with poltergeists.  I do worry about them slightly, in the direction of the dogmaticism problem, but if they want a world of restricted possibilities, that’s their lookout.

…and now, to get out from under this cloud of serious earnestness, let’s have a little bit of whimsical nonsense from Vincent Price.

Today’s pen: Lamy 2000
Today’s ink: Pelikan Brilliant Black 

*The closest a ghost has ever brought me to serious worry, to date, was when I found myself stuck in a large, comfortable, well-lit room.  The doorknob, which was of a sort that didn’t have a locking mechanism, absolutely would not budge– no play at all.  This state of affairs lasted about ten minutes, which was the length of time I’d declared I was willing to wait for someone outside the room to notice the problem before I’d take my Swiss army knife to the hinge pins.  One last try of the knob, with knife in hand and appropriate fitting deployed, and the knob turned as smoothly as ever a doorknob might.  I welcome a science-based explanation for that one which doesn’t take a lot of logical gymnastics and unlikely quantum events.

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“It’s in the trees! It’s coming!”

Posted by Dirck on 26 October, 2012

Rather than bore you all on Monday with what I did over the weekend, I think I shall rather bore you all with what I intend to do.  This being the weekend before Hallowe’en, when the spirits are about (and being consumed in great quantities by college freshmen wearing either Fred Flintstone or Sexy {insert profession here} costumes), and even we firmly stick-in-mud long-married couples have a sense that, damn it, some fun needs to be had.

Of course, being what we are (and not just the preceding description), our notion of fun is not quite what others might follow.  We might, but for a paucity of sitters, be almost like others; some friends are hosting a Time Traveller party which would be right squarely up our alley.  The situation being what it is, sitting quietly about the house and watching creepy films is about the size of it, but what a bounty of creepy films we have on tap!  We have cheated ourselves a bit, having already watched something that is just on the edge of “OK with the kid in the room”, which I hint at in the title (name it in the comments and earn the admiration of others; name the somewhat-old which sampled it and gain extra lauds), but good old Turner Classic Movies is really pushing the boat out on Saturday with a solid eighteen hours of largely Hammer horrors, and what’s not Hammer is just as much fun.  If nothing there suits the moment, we’ve things on disc tame enough the tiny tyrant, but with sufficient subtle terror to see us happy.

During the day, I will probably play at least one of the Dark Adventure Radio Theatre discs I’ve got.  They’re extremely cunning simulations of 1930’s radio dramas, without any winking modern irony, and all of them do at least as good a job at offering the shudders of cosmic horror as the written works they’re adapted from; in one case, certainly, even better.

Sunday night, I am going to suggest an abandonment of electronics (Walking Dead being something we definitely can’t watch with freedom); we have occasionally had reading nights, and it’s about time we had another.  There’s a couple of M.R. James’s stories that shouldn’t panic the son, who will no doubt go and pursue his hobby of staging little wooden train crashes after a couple of minutes in any event.  Stodgy?  Perhaps… but if you read “Count Magnus” with your imaginator engaged, you are apt to be amazed at how graphic it is.

At some point on Sunday, my wife and I will no doubt also have a great roaring debate, as much as ever we do, over the making of popcorn balls to hand out on the night itself in lieu of teeny chocolate bars.  She sees it as a waste, I as both a savings and a nod to a more traditional Hallowe’en.  Should the kids not be slightly afraid of the free candy they got?

Today’s pen: Sheaffer 300
Today’s ink: Organics Studio Manganate V

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Boo! Blah! Ssss! Geek!

Posted by Dirck on 28 October, 2009

I am a couple of days early, or course, but it being the most wonderful time of the year, my thoughts are running irresistably towards Hallowe’en. Thanks to the now-cognitive presence of my son, my wife and I won’t be able to go as mad for the grand holiday as we could wish, making the house into a palace of terror (two years ago, clusters of children would stop at the end of the driveway, confer, and in half the cases not approach– many candies were the reward of the brave!), and watching horror films.

Note the last two words there. I nearly said “scary movies”, but I didn’t want to wander into territory defined by Scream and claimed by Saw and Rob Zombie. To my mind there is a difference between a movie which insinuates through mounting evidence that the world is other than one had believed it to be, and one which shouts, “BOOGABOOGA! This is what guts look like!” A horror film is the former, while the latter differentiates between Scream– or Saw-inspired by whether it’s making smirkingly smug references to previous films or not. Post-modern ironicism nor torture porn make for a horror film.

I will not discount the place of viscera in a horror film, mind you. The difference is that the whole point of the film is not to cause the viewer to cry, “Oh, ick!”, but to use the ick to underline the situation. A modern horror film, faced with the numbing effect of modern news, can hardly avoid some of it. The Ruins is an excellent example of the sort of thing I mean– the gore isn’t wanting, but it’s in service to the story rather than the goal.

They is another film that pleases me greatly, for the same reason that it offends a lot of on-line commentors; the monster is never clearly shown. Some details are displayed, but the whole of it remains murky and obscure, letting the imagination not only fill in its details, but fit it into the dark corners of your very own home.

My regular Hallowe’en viewing includes, almost invariably, Hallowe’en, the original outing from 1978. Dated as some components of it are, it was the first of that sort of thing, and possibly the purest– think not in terms of improving technology, but rather the rapidly diminishing payback of squeezing juice from a fruit. I also rather like The Thing which was made by the same director a few years after Hallowe’en, and which stands as one of the few examples of a remake serving any kind of a good purpose (although I’ll defend The Thing from Another World against all insults).

Were I in the mood for a nice little British tale of witchcraft, I’d certainly trot out Night (or Curse in the US edit) of the Demon— the monster is shown in this one, and quite early on, but it’s such a corker and the story between appearances is so good I can forgive it.

We have decided to dress my son as Edgar Allen Poe, as his hair works for the costume, and this brings me around to the fine… er, fun movies made by Roger Corman using Poe’s titles, and occasionally some story elements. The only two I can really recommend without comedy raising its mood-crushing head are Pit and the Pendulum and Masque of the Red Death, and the only thing to really recommend them is also what recommends The Raven— lovely old Vincent Price. He also raises Bert Gordon’s The Tingler to art, with his interaction with Patricia Cutts being a display of how two people can be terrible to one another without the movie stinking (a trick modern writers should try to figure out, since so many current scaries are populated entirely by jerks).

Price is also the only thing to recommend The Haunted Castle, which claims to be Poe but which lifts a Lovecraft story. If you want to find decent interpretations of the Old Man of Providence, The Resurrected is one of the best things going despite some ’80s cheese-effects towards the end. The only link I’m putting in is a plug for a very low budget Call of Cthulhu, which I urge the buying of– it’s a labour of love, and it’s very true to the material.

Finally, although my list goes much, much farther– as a Godzilla fan, I can’t let the giant monsters go without mention. Had I the time, it would be the original Burr-free Gojira, the very recent All Out Monster Attack (don’t be fooled by the title), or the remarkably good non-Godzilla Cloverfield.

Next year, he’ll be old enough to go to the Grandparents for the night.

Today’s pen: Waterman Crusader
Today’s ink: Mont Blanc Racing Green

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