Archive for November, 2015

The Mad Man in My Attic

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 29, 2015 by Manuel Paul Arenas

There’s a mad man in my attic, and he’s been there for years

I’ve always sensed his presence, but chose not to see him

He keeps me awake at night, stomping and swearing

Causing a ruckus that frightens my loved ones away

I hear his vile chattering through the floorboards overhead, but choose not to listen

Even so, his words find their way to my subconscious mind

Their poisonous import seeping into the darkest corners of my deepest desires

Strangling my hopes and dreams with its sooty tendrils

Infecting my thoughts with anxiety and fear

Panicking, I lash out, flailing my arms at my intangible foe, grasping at smoke

Only to find, when the murk clears, that the mad man in my attic

Is me

 

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General Mills’ Monster Cereals

Posted in Boo-Berry, Boogie Nights, Count Chocula, Drawn Together, Franken Berry, Fruit Brute, Fruity Yummy Mummy, General Mills' Monster Cereals with tags , , , , , , , on November 12, 2015 by Manuel Paul Arenas

As I have mentioned before, I have always been a fan of Monsters and the Macabre. In my childhood days of the 1970’s, my favorite was the Frankenstein Monster, and my cousin Jason’s was Dracula. We watched every movie or cartoon we could which featured the two classic monsters; we dressed up like them for Halloween, collected the toys, comics and film books…and we ate the cereals.

Count Chocula, Frankenberry and Boo-Berry cereals.

Count Chocula, Frankenberry and Boo-Berry cereals

In October of 1971, General Mills issued two monster themed cereals: Count Chocula, and the strawberry flavored Franken Berry, followed in 1972 by the blueberry flavored Boo-Berry. Fruit Brute (a werewolf themed character with what Wikipedia describes as a fruit flavored cereal with lime flavored marshmallows) followed in 1974 but was discontinued in 1984 and replaced in 1987 with Fruity Yummy Mummy (a fruit cereal with vanilla marshmallows).

Fruit Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy.

Fruit Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy.

I never got to try the latter two, but I lived on Franken Berry for many years. In fact, Jason and I identified so much with the respective characters that we wouldn’t dare allow the other to partake of OUR character’s cereal, although my cousin has since confessed in recent years that whenever he stayed over our house, he would sneak into the pantry in the middle of the night and grab a handful of Franken Berry to spite me!

I loved the commercials  (some of which may be found here: http://www.retroist.com/2008/10/29/monster-cereal-fun-facts-and-commercials/) and collected the various prizes inside the cereal boxes. One prize that I seem to recall having owned at one point or the other was the Franken Berry monster car, as seen below:

Monster cars.

Franken Berry and Count Chocula Monster Cars.

Apparently the cereals disappeared for a while but have been reintroduced several times in recent years, around Halloween, and with revamped character images and, unfortunately, revamped recipes. The originals were frosted, flavored oat cereals with marshmallows, like Lucky Charms, whereas the new cereals are some sort of corn cereal, and some of the flavors have changed as well. My cousin recently bought me a box of Franken Berry as a nostalgic treat, but upon serving myself a bowl, I found it to have the consistency of packing peanuts with a hint of strawberry, and the marshmallows were flavorless as chalk. I understand why they might want to revamp the cereals to suit modern tastes, but at least try to put some effort into making them palatable. I also miss the old familiar Franken Berry character, the new one looks too slick to me.

Monster Cereal's revamped images.

Monster Cereal’s revamped images.

However, I think the nail in the coffin for the last remnant of my childhood innocence was seeing Franken Berry’s cameo in the season 3 episode, “Breakfast Food Killer”, from the animated series Drawn Together, in a parody of the role of the Burt Reynolds character from Boogie Nights. I guess it’s true when they say one can never really go back to one’s childhood.

Franken Berry's cameo in the Drawn Together parody of Boogie Nights.

Franken Berry’s cameo in the Drawn Together parody of Boogie Nights.

40 Grit / Rumpelforeskin

Posted in Uncategorized on November 8, 2015 by Manuel Paul Arenas

In the late 1990’s I joined a band made up of musicians from the Boston music scene: Jeff Aach on the Aachrocach (a guitar strung with bass strings, if memory serves me) and Keith “Kato” Martinelli on drums, both hailed from the group Medicine Pipe; Courtney Allendar, a veteran of the local scene, and a fellow Tower Records alum, played bass; and I, lately of the Dark Young, sang and screeched.

Fueled by 12 packs of MGD, we rehearsed in the basement of the Brainerd House, a duplex in which Kato and Jeff resided, alongside many of our musical colleagues. There were house parties aplenty and the one photo I have of the band is from the one public appearance we made at the Halloween party of 1997.

Rumpelforeskin, Halloween 1997 @ live at the Brainerd House basement.

Rumpelforeskin, Halloween 1997 @ live at the Brainerd House basement.

The sound was somewhere between mid 70’s King Crimson and Sonic Youth, with lots of improvisation and distortion. We had a few actual songs, which I wrote the lyrics for and helped arrange, although the music itself was all created by the instrumentalists.

We began as 40 Grit, a reference to a coarse grade of sandpaper, but found that a New York group were already known under that name, so Jeff came up with Rumpelforeskin, which we all thought was hilarious. I wrote some lyrics for a song with that title, but it never really gelled and by that time we had begun to go our separate ways.

The few songs we did do together were pretty catchy and one of them, Ride My Grill, actually made it to the studio as a recording project for a friend who was taking a college course of some kind. The title was inspired by a comment Kato made after running through the riff a few times. It’s part nursery rhyme and part Horror story. I thought of the movie The Car (1977) when I wrote it. I love the song, and am partial to a rehearsal recording which peels the paint off the walls. Unfortunately, a dear friend of mine was killed a few years ago in a hit and run in NYC and some of the relish I had in delivering the gruesome lines has diminished. I have considered since then, that if I ever published a copy of the lyric or a recording of the song to a wider audience, I would like to perhaps offer a percentage of the proceeds to some charity for survivors of similar tragedies.

Truth Cake was taken from a poem I had written for my buddy Philip, who always talked about doling out the Truth Cake! I cannot recall how the song came about, but we all worked on the arrangement together.

Lastly, there was No Candy from Courtney which was inspired by a story Courtney told us in a rehearsal. Apparently, he had bought a lot of candy for the trick-or-treaters in his building complex. Come Halloween night, however, no one showed up to knock on his door. He was so miffed that he had wasted all of his money on the candy that no one wanted, that he vowed if they came around the following year he would answer the door, wielding his bass guitar like a club screaming “No candy from Courtney! No Candy from Courtney!”

The guys were fun to hang with and great musicians, and I am still close to Courtney, since we have a longer history both prior and since. I had fun with the band, as short lived as it was, but it never had the impact on me that the Dark Young did, as that was, aesthetically, closer to my heart.

Below are links to the lyrics for the aforementioned songs:

No Candy from Courtney: https://mannysbookofshadows.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/no-candy-from-courtney/

Rumpelforeskin / Truth Cake / Ride My Grill: https://mannysbookofshadows.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/rumpelforeskin-ride-my-grill-truth-cake/

 

Rumpelforeskin / Ride My Grill / Truth Cake

Posted in 40 Grit / Rumpelforeskin, Boston bands, Rumpelstiltskin, song lyrics, The Car 1977 with tags , , , , , , , on November 8, 2015 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Rumpelforeskin

Chorus: Uncut I’ll go as uncut I came, for Rumpelforeskin is my name

I reside in the dark woods, so’s I can hide my prepuce goods

Guard my name ‘n’ what’s in my pants, As ’round a flame I jovially dance

Chorus

Tho’ most baby boys’re clipped when they’re born, my Rumpelforeskin tip won’t be shorn

Circumcision is not my game, that’s my decision, as says my name

Chorus

Once just the Jews would get theirs clipped, now other boys too are doomed to be snipped

Nary a child gets spared from the clippers, hardly one’s left that’s still got his tipper

Chorus

So I’m hoping this royal dame continues groping for my ol’ name*

And I’ll go on just doing my dance with my uncut piece in my pants

* I am surprised that I didn’t make a sophomoric pun about the groping dame somewhere in the subsequent lines. I guess I was so concerned with making the parallel allusion to the Rumpelstiltskin tale that I didn’t see the opportunity at hand.

Illustration, by Edward Gorey, of Rumpelstiltskin dancing around the fire, singing the song that gives him away.

Illustration, by Edward Gorey, of Rumpelstiltskin dancing around the fire, singing the song that gives him away.

Truth Cake

Chop it up, serve it up, won’t you have a slice? Truth cake is bitter fare and never tastes so nice

Here’s a cup o’ bile, to wash the pastry down, now let it sink into your maw then slosh* it all around

Chorus {2 X}: Truth Cake. Truth Cake. Sticking in your throat / Much harder words to swallow than the lies we live by rote

Feel it rising up your throat as your stomach heaves it’s last, Truth Cake is unpalatable and ne’er a good repast

Throughout our lives we often find the Truth is hard to swallow, but I’d rather choke than wear the yoke of a life, through lies, made shallow

* for the sake of disclosure, I changed that word to “slosh” from “splash”, as I transcribed it from my little book of poems. I thought it a more appropriate word for conveying the idea I wished to put across.

Poster for the 1977 Horror film "The Car".

Poster for the 1977 Horror film “The Car”.

Ride My Grill

Driving down our nation’s highways, looking for a thrill

Cruising down the roads and byways searching for a kill

Hey there little hitchhiker, indulge me, if you will

Come step in front of my machine; say, won’t you ride my grill?

Chorus: Won’t you ride my grill? / Baby needs make her kill / Baby must quench her thirst / And don’t you know that baby always comes first

She’ll grind your bones to make her bread, she’ll drink your blood for tea

Shell back up just to crush your head with sanguinary glee

I dream about us all the time–you running from me

But my bet is I’ll get you yet to fall in front of me

Chorus

Here are links to related posts:

No Candy from Courtney: https://mannysbookofshadows.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/no-candy-from-courtney/

The 40 Grit / Rumpelforeskin story:https://mannysbookofshadows.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/40-grit-rumpelforeskin/

Cherie Priest’s Borden Dispatches: Book 1, “Mapelcroft”

Posted in Cherie Priest, Lizzie Borden, Lovecraftian Horror, Mapelcroft, The Borden Dispatches, The Shadow Over Innsmouth with tags , , , , , on November 4, 2015 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Just finished reading “Maplecroft”, by Cherie Priest. It is a fantasy wherein Lizzie Borden (of the 40 whacks) fights some creatures which are loosely based on the malevolent mermen of Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”. Priest makes interesting use of the facts behind the real Lizzie Borden case and gives alternate explanations for everything to tie in with her tale. There is a brief mention of the Miskatonic University and passing mention of unmentionable tomes, but I wouldn’t classify it as straight-up Lovecraftian Horror. It was, however, very entertaining and very well-written. I enjoyed it so much that I intend to seek out the sequel, “Chapelwood”.

Cover for "Mapelcroft", by Cherie Priest (2014, ROC).

Cover for “Mapelcroft”, by Cherie Priest (2014, ROC).