Just a few pictures.
Lawson J. Deming 1913-2007
If you watched TV in Detroit from the late 60's through the mid-80's, you've likely seen Lawson J. Deming, as his character Sir Graves Ghastly. Primarily a Saturday afternoon horror host, Sir Graves was less edgy than the late night Ghoul. His beat was the corny, the silly, and the kid friendly. In the 70's (well, actually even NOW) i would watch pretty much any monster or science fiction movie, discovering each 'new' oldie as though it had been made just for me. i saw many Val Lewton films for the first time on Sir Graves, as well as iconic cult films like Track of the Vampire and Prince of Space.
Based in Cleveland, Ohio, Deming entered TV production in 1949 at an NBC affiliate in Cleveland. He had lots of voice character experience from radio, which served him well on the tube. By the 60's he was a regular on Woodrow the Woodsman, a very successful kid's TV show. When the Cleveland station was sold in 1967, the new management dropped all children's programming, and the show and cast was wooed to WJBK TV2 in Detroit. TV2 had lost their syndicated late night horror host, the legendary Morgus the Magnificent of New Orleans, and they were searching for someone to churn those reels of trash and classics.
Just weeks after Woodrow has resumed in the Motor City, Deming was called upon to invent a new character, an extremely non threatening and courtly vampire named Sir Graves Ghastly. Deming's theatrical background and kindly demeanor made for a devoted following of children and adults alike. Lawson played several other characters in skits on the show, including "Reel McCoy", "Tillie", "Walter", and my favorite The Glob. This guy was basically Deming's chin, shot upside down with eyes and nose painted underneath his lower lip. Blob would lip-synch songs from Gene Moss' Dracula's Greatest Hits and other goofy stuff. i was not a small child in the late 60's, but this still never failed to slay me.
At the height of his (and horror hosts in general) popularity in the 70's, Sir Graves was also seen in Washington D.C. and Cleveland, where he still made his home. For a few years he taped a Saturday night show for the D.C. market, and a the afternoon show for Detroit. In 1982 the show was cancelled after 16 to make way for afternoon sports, but Lawson continued to work in broadcasting in Ohio until retiring with his wife Mary Rita. Last Tuesday he died of congestive heart failure at a Cleveland nursing home. He was 94 years young, and i know i'm not the only Detroiter who feels a bit of their youthful memories slip away with him.
- How was yours? If you unfortunately missed it, Here is a good assortment of After Action Reviews by people who actually did something. i had a pretty good time for not doing much worth blogging about. This convention just keeps getting better.
If you missed the fun, you can rectify this by keeping your eye on penguicon.org, where registration for Penguicon 6.0, tentatively set for April 18-20, 2008, will soon begin. See you there!
Penguicon 5.0 is just days away - April 20-22 at the Troy Hilton. This hybrid Linux/Science Fiction convention is unlike any other, and always has an outstanding guest list and unique ambiance.
This year's guests of honor are:
Tech- Bruce Schneier
All these guests, amazing food tastings, computers, nitrogen ice cream, open source installfests, masquerade, movies, games, computers, chocolate, swordplay, dancing, ninjas, pirates, beef, computers, and so much more await.
And, Francine and i will be doing an Asian ball jointed doll presentation on Saturday afternoon.
You so want to check this out!
i didn't plan to have Volks dolls. i didn't think i wanted any Mini Super Dollfie size guys, favoring big mature dolls . Then i saw Mitxoleta, the MSD Lilith on the left, customized by Jaewon, and she had to be mine. Had a similar feeling about a Toppi boy who looked much like the fella in the center. He seemed like a nice pal for Mitxu. i missed having him, so i looked into making my own. Volks MSD Toppi, you see, is a girl as she comes from her maker. So began the quest for a boy mini for a head swap. At the same time a Toppi girl became available, so did a nicely painted Rock boy from Mikiko. His faceup could make a nice little tough girl with just a little tweaking...
Both dolls arrived the same day, and if i was unsure on purchase if i was keeping both dolls, by the end of the day there was no doubt. The Toppi head needed the brows and mouth reworked, but he was a breeze to paint. His name is Patxi, and the Rock girl on the left is named Arantxa. (Actually, the Rock head on a girl's body is called Margaret by Volks, but as mine was originally a boy - confused yet?) Customization is probably not over for the new kids. Eventually they need to have their seams sanded and bodies blushed, and perhaps some different feet and hands ordered. The glory of Volks, the grandaddy of customized resin providers, is that such things are available to help you make your doll unique.
The first Asian ball jointed dolls i saw were Volks, but it took a while in the hobby to really learn to look at the sculpts in a gender neutral, or perhaps gender curious fashion. Eventually you learn that the factory, and even limited and unique Volks faceups are just one aspect, a jump off point for where to go with these dolls.
This is Toppi on her arrival, as Volks intended.
Here's Patxi after the change. New eyes and wig make a big difference.
And Arantxa's only facial change was a bit of eye shadow and enhanced lip color. Prior to this, i'd considered Rock to be a very 'macho' sculpt! Now i find i she's just as cool as a girl.
TV Guide reports that All My Children is concluding the Zoe/Bianca storyline on April 26. The controversial MTF transgender/lesbian romantic storyline has been collecting viewers, but both actors have other commitments and were signed to short term contracts. Since late 2006, Eden Riegel has reprised her role as Bianca (Binks or Binx) Montgomery, and Jeffrey Carlson was cast as the rock star Zarf, who came out as the female Zoe. Riegel was working on the N.Y. based show while living in California, and Carlson is beginning Hamlet in Washington D.C. in June. Still, it's sad to say goodbye to the brightest stars in an increasingly dull show.
Though daytime drama fans may have a reputation for conservatism, horror at the idea of a man who is a woman inside isn't all the rumpus surrounding Zinks. AMC has always been socially progressive, and used lesbianism in a story in 1983, an AIDS story in 1987, and Bianca coming out in 2000. AMC has received GLAAD Media Awards for Outstanding Daily Drama in 2002 and 2004, and again for 2007 just last week.
One of the issues for some Riegel fans is that the love story could have been between Binks and Maggie, played by Elizabeth Hendrickson. Back in 2001 the actresses were so hot that Hendrickson's Frankie character, who was basically a plot device created to be killed off, had to be recreated as a twin sister, Maggie. Fan response was unexpectedly warm to both actors and their characters, and an enduring fandom for BAM. Some (but not all) of these fans have a real hate-on for Zoe. It's partly because the show has been so poorly written in recent years.
Zarf's arrival in Pine Valley coincided with one of those idiotic serial killer sweeps plots soap writers resort to when cast salaries rise and imaginations fail. By the time the dust settled this year and Zarf was Zoe, a beloved character Dixie, who had returned after years was callously dispatched, along with 6 cast members great and small. Also Babe was supposed to be killed, but then actually turned out to be a survivor in hiding, another sweeps stunt i've seen trickle up to prime time this year. The killer was revealed to be a supposedly dead, tiresome character with completely baffling motivation, even for daytime drama. But there was an upside. You can see Zoe singing at Dixie and Babe's funeral here.
During Zarf's development as a character, but just before Zoe told us her name, a friend asked me if "he" could be the Satin Slayer. That, of course, would have been impossible, because no matter how craven the writers become, they will never portray their first trans character as a villain. In fact, when the writing is superficial and silly, Jeffrey Carlson's acting chops round it out and sell it. And in the time honored Agnes Nixon tradition, research is done, communities are consulted, and millions are educated and enlightened. Here's an unscripted scene at a transgender support group.
This level of intensity, propelled by powerful acting, generates a lot of passion. For the past several hours i've been lost on YouTube, going over fan videos asembled from AMC footage. The soundtracks may be Dixie Chicks, Nine Inch Nails, Linkin Park or Muse, but they all recognize the universal need to find ourselves and where we belong. Below is one of my favorites is below - by Heather, using "Answer" by Sarah McLachlan. If it leaves you frustrated, here is one where they kiss!