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Friday, April 30, 2010

May Day is "Lei Day" in Hawaii!

A rainbow of leis waiting for your neck

If you make it to O'ahu, Hawaii on May 1st, you'll experience one of the most beloved island traditions. May Day is "Lei Day" in Hawaii. The very first Lei Day was held on May 1st, 1928, and practically every person in Honolulu observed the day by wearing all styles of handmade and store bought lei. In 1929, Lei Day was made an official holiday which continues to this day.

A May Day lei-making contest is held in Waikiki

Festivities are still held downtown and in Waikiki with hula, music, lei making demonstrations, exhibits and lei contests. At Kapiolani Park you can see the lei contest entries hung up in an outdoor viewing gallery which people from all over the world flock to see. Old-school leis and innovative ones made from seeds and other unconventional materials are featured there.

Kamehameha Statue draped in Hawaiian lei

At Iolani Palace (the only monarchical palace in the USA) the statue of King Kamehameha is draped in traditional green Maile' leaf wreathes and over-long, colorful flower garlands. The balmy climate seems to carry the perfume of Tuberose, Pikake and Plumeria into every corner of the Island. It reminds me of a thousand special occasions from weddings to birthdays to funerals I observed growing up in Hawaii.

My dad - the late, great Josefa Mo'e

May 1st is also my Father's birthday. He would have been 75 this year. My dad's name was Josefa Moe and he was a true Hawaii local and beach boy. Quite a celebrity around town. Dad was a graphic artist. He was also a knife dancer. The kind you see spinning sharp and often flaming blades at a luau. Dad was at the top of his field though the 50's, 60's and 70's performing worldwide and at the International Market Place and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

Learning to swim with my dad in Waikiki

When I think of Lei Day and all the festivities that come with it, I always remember dad's birthday and that beach at Waikiki where dad taught all of his kids to swim. That's also where his 11 children scattered his ashes just a day or two before Don Ho joined him. Aloha, dad.


© Lyrics & Music: Leonard Hawk

May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii
Garlands of flowers everywhere
All of the colors in the rainbow
Maidens with blossoms in their hair

Flowers that mean we should be happy
Throwing aside a load of care
Oh, May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii
May Day is happy days out there

Uncle 4e making a Monster kid beam.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Famous Flame-wars of Forryland!

[The following is an article from the 1974 vanity publication "AMAZING FORRIES" that was updated in 2003 to include more recent material. It was intended for a contemporary reissue of Amazing Forries, but sadly was never published. So, here, for the first time, Forry gripes to you from the great beyond! Enjoy, my Monster cousins.]

Love Letters From My Fan Club

by Forrest J Ackerman

“Ackerman, you are a basketcase of acrimony!” – famous prozine editor (via air mail special delivery) upon the occasion of completely misinterpreting my motive in calling to his attention an obscurely published criticism of his periodical. “As for Ackerman’s ebullition, I fear he can hardly be taken seriously in matters involving the criticism of imaginative literature." He once wrote me a letter with a very childish attack on my work – "he evidently enjoys verbal pyrotechnics for their own sake and seems so callous to imaginative impressions.” – An Elder God of the weird canon.

“What does this Ackerman guy know about weird and fantastic fiction? From the way he writes, he must be an unimaginative person unable to stretch his mind away from spaceships and foreign star clusters.” – Fan of the early 30s.

“Ackerman’s Folly” – Referring to the first issue of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. The individual with the critical opinion was a fan 18 years ago, is now a pro.

“You are the greatest catastrophe that ever happened to Science fiction!” – Fan turned book publisher in the 50’s who objected to me as an agent “bugging” him once a year for overdue royalty payments for my clients he had published.

“Ackerman, shut up! – And get those damn Monster fans of yours out of here!” – Author to me at a World Convention when a group of horror film aficionados had clustered around at the back of a hall and were eagerly asking me questions.

Cyril Kornbluth author and thuggish welcome wagon!

“So you’re the Ackerman who writes those ridiculous letters to the magazines!” Followed by a punch in the stomach. This was my welcome to Fun City in 1939 when I was met at the other end of the train line by some New York fans of the day, including the 15-year old Cyril Cornbluth who was to die prematurely but not before making a serious mark in the sf world as an author of pessimistic power. I always thought of him as the Sci-Fi world’s Oscar Levant.

“Peculiarly ridiculous” – An author who loved the craft, Ackerman must be daft or an imbecile or a notoriety-seeking clown and knave” - Member of the Lovecraft Circle describing me at 18. At least he gave me the benefit of an or rather that drubbing me into the ground with “ands”.

“Since you take 10% of my money, I feel you owe me 10% of your time.”- Disenchanted art client. In other words, no agent could have more than 10 clients.

“Ackerman is young”- yes, I was, once, especially at 18 – “as proved by his tendency to regard ordinary civilized language as alien and incomprehensible.” Who would have believed that this egregious stripling would have burgeoned into the terror of the English tongue, the Ackermangler of the King’s lingo, the creator of telescopiancontractions, telepathicommunications, neologisms & novacious coinages, portmanteau words, the scourge of the Anglo-academicians, the promulgator of the dictum that “The Pun is Mightier than the Sword”, the presentime purveyor of monsteriffic bone mots from his lair in Horrorwood/Hollyweird Karloffornia, a compleat collector of Lovecraftales and the auctorial representative of Clark Ashton Smith in the penumbral days of his life!

Anonymous voice on the phone: “Ackerman, you’re a son-of-a-bitch and you’re going to die for what you did to Glenn Strange.” Glenn Strange was the actor, now deceased, who took over the role of the Frankenstein monster after Karloff, Lugosi & Chaney Jr. had played it. What I did to him was give him a big publicity break in the pages of FAMOUS MONSTERS and supply him with a number of free fotos, lobby cards & posters of himself in roles he had played. But the story persists to this day that I stole stills from Glenn Strange.

Glenn Strange as Frankenstein's Monster

“Do you know why Ackerman took that 8700 mile trip all over the country visiting monster fans? Where do you think he got all those great stills for the “Bride of Frankenstein” issue of FAMOUS MONSTERS?” Well, I sure as fate didn’t steal them from every kid in the country (or even the kids in the city) because the issue in question appeared several months before I took the trip! Time travel???

“Ackerman is a crooked agent.” – Editor of about a quarter a century ago who was convinced I was selling stories to Mexico and telling my clients the Mexican editor wasn’t paying. He was – his translators one-thirteenth of a cent a word. At my own expense and with the authorization of such authors as van Vogt, Evans, Beaumont, Bradbury, etc., I was implementing a Hands Across the Border Seminal Scientifiction Program. But the author (a prominent one) “bought” the editor’s story that venal Forry was a crooked agent.

“Why did you hang onto my Hugo Award for a year and then, when I found out you had it, and asked for it, delay another month in delivering it to me?” (In case the anonymous author ever sees this and takes exception to this quote as not being verbatim, he may be correct, but I do not have the letter handy as I type these words – which are burned into my brain – but I think that it’s safe to say that the quotation is substantially correct.) I was being accused – but bitterly-of accepting an author’s Hugo in absentia, not informing him of it, keeping it for a year before he learned I had it, and then delaying several weeks in delivering it thru the mail after he had requested it. Well, it never happened, but it cost me approximately a hundred bucks & a lot of unpleasant emotion to prove my innocence. In the first place, I couldn’t have picked up his Hugo because embarrassingly, they weren’t physically present that year to be handed out – so I was reminded by long-distance phone call to London to the man who had been head of the World Convention that year. Secondly (but who needs a second with a first like that?) Franklin Dietz, who’s been taping the Cons since the time Alley Oop gave up chipping the reports on tablets of stone;- Franklin Dietz eventually played off the tape as the awards were announced and…naturally, there was no “California drawl” (the way my voice was described by an Anglofan after I visited London in 1951) saying, “I am honored to accept this Hugo on behalf of -.”

All the pretty Hugo Awards

“I won’t rest until I see Ackerman in jail where he belongs- with John W. Campbell!” How Campbell got into the act or how I got so lucky, I’ll never know. Pronunciamento of a “litigational paranoid,” who died in an asylum in Germany, after dragging me before the Board of Equalization or something.

IRS: “You only reported $1000 income from the Greenleaf Publishing Co. [IMAGINATION] but they say they sent you $10,000!” “Well, of course! Don’t you understand? I’m an agent! I only keep a commission…and pass most of the money on to the authors!” “Oh! Say, this is an interesting collection you have here - mind if I look at it?” IRS agent later, just before leaving: “By the way, I believe we owe you $32.” Thank you – come back anytime!

You have some nerve, printing First Class on this package of 4th class trash you’ve sent me.”- Magazine editor of the 50's to me as agent.

“Ackerman, I’m mad at you. I’ve read my eyeballs out on this million words of junk you’ve sent me and there isn’t a word worth buying.” – Editor who had 3 or 4 titles going at the time. One man’s trash was another man’s treasure as I eventually sold a good deal of the material to other editors.

“I’m stony broke in the big glass jungle. You got any money for me?” I didn’t have, but for this client who I figured had such a big potential (and he did) I dug into my own pocket and aired him enough money to buy himself another week of time in New York. Seeing editors, I thought; seeking assignments. Instead, with my stake, he was shopping around for another agent. After he got one, he justified dropping me by writing a cantankerous, vituperous, excoriating 5-page letter (and those were the nice things he had to say about me) outlining all the things that were wrong with me as an agent. (Don’t you wonder sometime what I’m doing right to still be in business 30 years later and representing close to 150 names? Are you sure you’d like to read my autobiography – if I ever write it? And name names?

“Forrest Ackerman stole the METROPOLIS Robotrix!” I always believed the original, film-femmebot was blown to bits in the great Blitz of Berlin during WW2. It only recently came to my attention that I had actually watched (over 100 viewings at the time of this writing) my beloved “False Maria” burn up on screen in the climax of Fritz Lang’s Sci-Fi masterpiece. Fact is, I commissioned Bill Malone and crew to spend hundreds of hours to recreate her for me. I even designed the (never seen on-screen) back panel of the Robotrix myself!

Ultima Futura Automaton and Rotwang in METROPOLIS!

“Forrest Ackerman is destroying Lon Chaney’s makeup kit!” One of the saddest days in my life came when an LA museum reclaimed the Lon Chaney makeup kit I had proudly displayed to thousands of fans for years. And all due to poor wording (not mine this time!) of an ad for a product I merely endorsed. A fan who had refurbished the kit for preservation, decided that rather than waste the makeup dust cleaned from the kit, he would manufacture a tribute Chaney ring with a speck of the residue makeup included. The ad read: “Own an actual piece of Lon Chaney’s makeup kit.” Fans were alarmed at the thought that I might be chopping the historic kit of the Man of 1000 faces into a mess of a million pieces! As a result of the controversy, the museum decided to reclaim the kit to languish in the obscurity of a cold dark vault.

A handmade poster (in very familiar handwriting) was nailed to my front door upon my return from my recent horrible hospital habitation: “Hurry up and die Forry Ackerman! You’ve been cursed.” Well, I’m still here, which leads us to the burning question; Would you buy a used curse from this fan? Say, I could arrange for an annual death-curse. I might live forever! At any rate, this terrible cruelty didn’t inspire Anger in me. Just pity for the person who delivered it.

“Ackerman, you’re a basket case of acrimony!” (Just wanted to make sure you’re awake and paying attention. We’ve come full circle. End of gripe session and on to more pleasant topics. -FJA

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Break Into Song at ANMT!

ANMT; The Academy For New Musical Theater, is a North Hollywood institution that is paving the way for fresh new musical theater projects. Through development deals and workshops, ANMT partners with book writers, lyricists, composers and theatrical venues and organizations to produce these new musicals.

ANMT's roots go back 40 years to the original theater workshops of Lehman Engel, the preeminent Broadway musical director. The remarkably knowledgeable and passionate John Sparks has been the sole Artistic Director for two decades. Executive Director Scott Guy expanded the historic writer's workshop to include actors repertory company and a professional wing to develop musicals directly for producers and theaters. In 2003 Elise Dewsberry was brought on as resident dramaturg and Associate Artistic Director.

John Sparks, Scott Guy & Elise Dewsberry

I came to ANMT a few years ago with my dear friend, fellow musician and co-writer Brian Woodbury. We were collaborating on a stage musical called KILLA VANILLA! I sat in on the developmental workshops and was completely smitten by the program. It was there I met brilliant ANMT dramaturg Elise Dewsberry, who I am proud today to call a mentor and friend. It was the experience of auditing that workshop that inspired me to formally join ANMT and go through their core curriculum.

There are few forms that are as collaborative as musical theater. There are also few disciplines that are more rigidly structured. As a screenwriter, I have seen my understanding of my own work grow immensely! If you have the time and the reasonable amount of money to attend these workshops, I can't recommend them enough. Especially if you're a professional writer who is already in a groove. These workshops will kick your ass in the best possible way.

You can come see the results of these workshops when this year's core curriculum class presents their 15-minute Musicals at the Colony Theater (Burbank) in June!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

One word: Monsterpalooza! One suggestion: Get there!

MONSTERPALOOZA opened with a shriek on Friday, April 9th. Horrorwood's finest craftspeople and artists came out en masse to show the best of their best makeup FX work in Burbank, California. Sculpture rules at Monsterpalooza. Not just likenesses and cool creatures. Actually, some of the most highly artful, soulful figures you'll ever see. Fantasy characters and familiar icons of the genre brought to still-life. Many so hyper-realistic you just stand staring, waiting for them to breathe.

My pal Kevin Kirkpatrick; a Supermodel with his super models!

Maestro Guillermo Del Toro came down from the heavens to walk among the fans and buy up all kinds of goodies. He stopped and chatted with Casey Wong (19-year-old makeup artist and Forry Ackerman's protege') I saw old friends Brinke Stevens, Don Glut, Ron Chaney, Bela Lugosi Jr., Eric Caiden, Frank Dietz and many more who were guests of the show - and just as mesmerized by the quality of work as any of the fans in attendance.

More Mike Hill masterpieces to covet.

Brilliant sculptor Mike Hill outdid himself this year with an absolutely spot-on Elsa Lanchester as the Bride. If that wasn't enough he crafted a monochromatic duo of Lon Chaney Jr. as Lawrence Talbot and a second figure of Chaney as the Wolfman. Any monster fan who doesn't get goosebumps rubbing elbows with these life-sized monsters is an ice cube. My pal (and key makeup artist on my movie RED VELVET) Kevin Kirkpatrick superbly nailed a trio of beloved oddities from Tod Browning's FREAKS! Shlitzie, Prince Randian and Johnny Eck.

You have got to come stand near these and HUNDREDS of other incredible pieces at MONSTERPALOOZA. There's a Forry display in the museum. And come attend my Forry panel on Sunday, April 12th too!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Rondo Award: He wins! We win! 4e does it again!!

Ack at rest in his silver spaceship. Gone but never forgotten

The Forrest J Ackerman Tribute won the prestigious Rondo Award for "Best Fan Event" last night!

"(the) all-star tribute to the late Forrest J Ackerman, organized by his friend and caregiver Joe Moe in March 2009 at Grauman's Egyptian Theater, was voted Best Fan Event. In a statement, Joe Moe said the tribute marked "the fulfillment of my final promise to Forry, to hold a tribute so we could all come together to laugh, cry, celebrate and say goodbye. Forrest J Ackerman shall never die!"

Don Post lifemask and 4E award

You can read about ALL the winners and runners up here: 8th annual Rondo Award Winners!

All sincere thanks possible to all of you who voted for us. Contrary to what some might suppose, I don't believe it's important to remember Forry for sentimental reasons. Nope. I think it's INCREDIBLY important to remember Forry because of the magic his spirit continues to do. Every time someone asks "who was he" or Googles his name, we stand a chance of sparking one more talent. We stand a chance of stoking one more storyteller. Where there's Forry, there's imagination. And where there's imagination, there's endless possibility!


Sunday, April 4, 2010

RONDO Polls have closed! Results Tonight!

Thanks to everyone who voted THE FORREST J ACKERMAN TRIBUTE as BEST FAN EVENT on the RONDO AWARDS ballot. An extra-Gigantor thank you to dear David Colton who administers the entire Rondo effort, as well as counting the nearly 3000 votes - a new record! David is a prominent figure in his field and our genre and his generosity and dedication to our cause is incredibly Forry-like!

RONDO Monster Kid Hall of Fame & Comeback of the Year 2002!

This Rondo nomination was particularly important. It seems the more distance we get from Forry's passing, the fewer opportunities there may be to keep his name in the public eye. In my heart of hearts, I truly believe that the Forry Tribute just HAD to be the best event of the year! Not only because it was a once-in-a-lifetime happening, but it personified the best parts of our classic horror genre community and the very spirit the Rondo Awards seek to acknowledge and promote.

Proud Monster Kid of 2008 - ME!

I apologize to those of you who voted early and then had to endure my constant haranguing about getting your ballots in. The thing is, even though Forry is a beloved figure and the Forry-event was legitimately deserving of the award, there were MANY events in our category and some of our competition might have been more well-attended (our Egyptian Theater only seats 600). I couldn't risk sacrificing the opportunity for a potential Forry-Rondo to complacency. I hope my pushiness paid off?

The RONDO AWARDS will be announced tonight! To observe the awards ceremony LIVE, join the CLASSIC HORROR FILM BOARD and then attend the "BLIND HERMIT'S NEW HUT" chat room (6th forum from the top)! Best of luck to all the very deserving nominees. I hope we did enough to bring a posthumous Rondo home to Horrorwood for Uncle Forry!