You Either Have Too Many Gigs or Not Enough

“You either have too many gigs or not enough.” – Just About Every Musician I’ve Ever Talked To

Well, here’s the Halloween ’06 website update, and for those of you keeping score, it is indeed not the quarterly update I said I’d try to start doing in my last entry. In fact, it missed being quarterly by about two quarters – the last time I wrote something new here was in February. Yipes.

 

      I suppose I could give that great old W.C. Fields excuse: “Things happened.” In fact, they did, but things happen to everybody. However, one of the things that happened may indeed have a bearing on what you see in this space — after 23-plus years, I have retired from the Tulsa World newspaper to – well, I guess the cliché is “to pursue other interests.” So the other interests I’m pursuing will involve staying up with this website a little better, even as I create more stuff that – I hope – is worthy of being talked about on a website.

With that in mind, I’ve undertaken an update and rewrite of all the spots on this site. Because every part is now up to date, this home page will be less unwieldly and long-winded.

So … if you’re looking for the playlists for my western-swing and cowboy-jazz radio show, “Swing on This” (heard on Tulsa radio station KWGS, 89.5 FM, every Saturday at 7 p.m. and streaming at the same time at www.kwgs.com), just scroll down to the “Radio” site, which is kind of hidden at the very bottom of the menu. Now, I’m not saying it’ll be entirely up to date, but chances are good that it will.

And if you want to know about my new books, Ghost Band and From the Blue Devils to Red Dirt: The Colors of Oklahoma Music, check out the new “Books” site.

Of course, this is how just about every other website works. But it’s taken me a lot of time to figure out that I needed to do this as well. I think this is what Jonathan, my webmaster’s been trying to tell me for years. But since he’s my son, he also knows my Luddite tendencies, so he hasn’t pushed it.

Now, that quarterly-update idea doesn’t sound unattainable at all. So, full of hope and high spirits, I introduce you to the new and improved johnwooley.com website with a few pictures of me and one of my writing heroes, Earl Hamner Jr. Of course, most people know him as the author of the acclaimed novel Spencer’s Mountain and the creator of its wildly successful spinoff TV series, The Waltons. But he was also one of the top writers for Rod Serling’s original Twilight Zone series, and his scripts just get better with age. (I refer you emphatically to The Twilight Zone Scripts of Earl Hamner, published by Cumberland House in 2002.)

      

      Earl is also one of the nicest, most genteel men that God ever put on this earth. I’ve had the good fortune to work with him a couple of times, most recently on Sept. 29 at Teresa Miller’s Celebration of Books, the every-two-years blowout that brings some of the country’s biggest literary names to Tulsa. (For more, see poetsandwriters.okstate.edu) That’s where these pictures come from. Thanks to Teresa and her Center for Poets and Writers, which exists under the auspices of Oklahoma State University – Tulsa. And thanks to P. Casey Morgan, Earl’s friend and Tulsa chauffeur, for the snaps.

      Finally, one of my all-time favorite photos with one of my all-time rock ‘n’ roll heroes. I first heard the great keyboardist Augie Meyers playing in the ’60s on the Sir Douglas Quintet hit “She’s About A Mover,” and I had never encountered anything like the propulsive, absolutely original organ-playing that bumped the song down its two-and-a- half minute path to Top 40 immortality. Over the years, I continued to follow Augie and buy his albums, whether with the Quintet, on his own, or, later, as a member of the Tex-Mex supergroup the Texas Tornados, with his longtime collaborator and friend Doug Sahm. I even got to see the Quintet play the Cain’s Ballroom (home of Bob Wills) in Tulsa in the early ’80s, touring in support of their Border Wave LP and the swell single from that disc, a grinding take on the Kinks’ “Who’ll Be the Next in Line.” I readily surrendered to my fanboy geek tendencies that night and got Augie, Doug, and guitarist Louie Ortega to autograph my Cain’s membership card. I’ve never had a better time at a concert in my life.

Lots of people feel the same way I do about Augie and the late Doug Sahm. Three of them are the Red Dirt Rangers ( www.reddirtrangers.com ), who brought Augie from Texas to Tulsa to play on their latest album, recorded with Steve Ripley at the fabled Church Studios in early 2006. As it turned out, they needed a classic Vox Jaguar for Augie to play, and since my own 1965 model was at the time reposing in Steve’s studio, it was the logical choice. (The reason I own a Vox Jaguar, aka “a cheesy organ,” at all has a lot to do with my love of Augie’s playing; my own playing is, I can assure you, no particular tribute to him, even though I’ve tried to ape his style for years.)

In the photo, Augie is showing me how to play the opening riff of “Mendicino,” the 1969 Sir Douglas Quintet hit. That lick has buffaloed me for years, but once he demonstrated it, the light went on in my head and somehow got the message to my fingers. (You may be able to see, in the background, my friends Steve Ripley – head of the multiplatinum-selling act the Tractors – Brad Piccolo of the Red Dirt Rangers, and Red Dirt music godfather Bob Childers.)

Of course, Augie turned out to be a wonderful guy, full of great stories about his childhood, the Quintet, hippie days, and the musicians he’s worked with through the years. He signed the Vox for me after he finished, and then we got to go out and have a couple of drinks, joined by Childers, the Rangers, and their drummer, the famed studio and band (J.J. Cale, Gary Lewis and the Playboys) percussionist, Jim Karstein — one of the architects of the classic Tulsa Sound.

It was all just absolutely perfect . I’m not exaggerating when I say that I would’ve rather met and hung out a little with Augie Meyers than to have done the same thing with Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, or any other superstar of my generation. Augie Meyers is my No. 1 musical hero, and I’m proud and happy to be able to post this photo.

 

 

 

           — Back atcha soon, you bet…

An Artist Is His Own Fault

“An artist is his own fault.” — John O’Hara

If you think you haven’t heard from me in a while, you’re right. I’ve been off paving the road to hell with good intentions, which is a dirty job, and pretty hot as well — not to mention clichéd.

The good intentions here refer to my plan of updating this space every three months – or, as they say in the publishing biz, quarterly. It hasn’t exactly happened that way, although the updates to the radio part of the website have come every two weeks.

Perhaps it’d be more accurate to say “every two weeks.” That’s how often I send the playlists for my radio show, Swing on This, to my webmaster, Jonathan “And Girls, He’s Available” Wooley. Sometimes, though, they haven’t shown up on this site with exactly the same frequency. My son Jonathan, you see, in addition to being my webmaster, is a senior majoring in film at Oklahoma State University, where he stays busy making short films like “Witchcop” and “Edgar Allan Po-Mo” – both award-winning, if I do say so myself. And sometimes, between the last camera setup of the day and his fourth Pig’s Eye Light, his webmaster responsibilities float away like wisps of Vicks Vap-0-Rub.

So, if you’re looking for a new playlist — and I’m told that a lot of people do – and it’s not here in a timely manner, just plan to check back a little later and think to yourself, with a smile on your lips, “that darn Jonathan.” It works for me. Occasionally.

I’ve also updated the “Radio Show” section to reflect that it now comes on just before the great local program Big Band Saturday Night, hosted by my friend Alan Lambert, making for a swell three hours of swingin’ tunes. I should also tell you that Swing on This recently scored a 5.6 rating, making it the top-rated program on KWGS. (I hasten to add that this doesn’t mean more people listen to it than they do any other program on the station. What it means is that I’ve got a higher percentage of those listening to the radio at the time my program airs than any other KWGS show. Got it? I’m not sure I do.)

The Big Book of Biker Flicks, written with my peerless pal Michael H. Price, and Voices from the Hill: The Story of Oklahoma Military Academy, both from HAWK Publishing Group, still represent my most current work. This year, however, should see the publication of three or four more, including the elusive Ghost Band. Jodie Nida at HAWK assures me it’s now in the pipeline, and should be on the shelves later this year.

Also, I just finished a pulp-story collection with John Locke, the pulp historian and writer, called Thrilling Detective Heroes, It’s really a dandy, and it should be out from Adventure House in time to make its debut at the Windy City Pulp and Paperback convention, held in Chicago the first weekend in May.

More news as it comes in. Meanwhile, as always, many thanks for dropping by. Please stick around for a while, and remember: Books make wonderful gifts for people who aren’t morons.

 

NEW BOOKS

The Big Book of Biker Flicks a deluxe, oversized, color-interiors volume from HAWK Publishing Group has been out since the summer, but sales continue to be brisk as more and more people discover it. Between my collaborator Michael H. Price and I, we interviewed a ton of biker-film greats for the book, including the likes of Jack Nicholson, Herschell Gordon (She-Devils on Wheels) Lewis, Sonny Barger, Peter Fonda, William Smith, Sam Sherman, Dennis Hopper, Roger Corman, and Billy Gray. The book features chapters on 40 of the best — or at least the most interesting — motorcycle movies of all time, featuring original advertising material. And if you don’t remember, or aren’t old enough to have seen, the newspaper ad campaigns during the bike-picture heyday of the late ’60s-early ’70s, prepare to see some of the roughest, weirdest, and most amusing movie ads ever made!

Big Book has drawn more than its share of nice reviews, including a new one from the writer and movie expert Jan Alan Henderson, who, in a piece for Cult Movies, called it a “sure-to-please volume” that he “more than highly recommended.” Booklist said that Michael and I “consider the canon of the chopper epic enthusiastically and thoroughly, mixing stills and promotional graphics with dead-on thumbnail plot summaries, not to mention pithily noting particular films’ peculiar distinctions.” And my pal Dennis King at the Tulsa World wrote, “In a style that ranges nimbly from academic and respectful to populist and irreverent, Wooley and Price have forged a cult book that’s both keenly informative and outlandishly entertaining.” We even got a thumbs-up e-mail from a Tonight Show staffer, telling us that Jay Leno loves the book!

Michael and I are very proud of Big Book. Please keep it in mind when it’s time to buy a gift for the motorcycle aficionado or exploitation-film fan on your list. You can get it from your favorite store or on the web at www.amazon.com.

– June 1 was the release date for Voices from the Hill: The Story of Oklahoma Military Academy (HAWK Publishing Group). It’s the first book-length history of OMA, an institution dubbed the West Point of the Southwest. From 1919 to 1971, it sat atop College Hill outside of Claremore, OK, about 15 miles from where I type this. Right across from the Will Rogers Memorial, it’s now metamorphosed into the classy Rogers State University.

The book is full of photos as well as text, documenting the famed school’s history in the words of its former students, all placed in historical context. It debuted June 4 with a great signing during the reunion of former OMA cadets, and while those interested in military institutions, Oklahoma history, and OMA itself will be the book’s primary audience, I have to tell you that my research turned up some neat movie and music connections, which the book also documents. In 1935, for instance, when Will Rogers was the No. 1 box office attraction in America, he brought the OMA polo team to Hollywood to play a match with Stanford. An anecdote involving the cadets’ tour of the 20th Century-Fox studios is one of my favorite stories in the book.

To purchase a copy of Voices, contact the Rogers State University Office of Development at (918) 343-7773 or toll-free at (800) 256-7511. It’s also available on the Internet at, you guessed it, www.amazon.com.

— The Price-Wooley team should soon have a second movie-releated volume out this year. Forgotten Horrors 4: Dreams That Money Can Buy is the latest in our series about low-budget independent pictures of bygone days. Our only ground rules are that the films have to have been made by someone other than a major studio, and that they contain horror or weird elements.

This volume deals with films made in 1947 and `48, and includes everything from the Jungle Jim series of pictures to obscure thrillers like The Cobra Strikes to films that defy explanation, like Ken Murray’s Bill and Coo, which is acted entirely by birds. Really.

The book has been in production for some time at the series’ new home, Dinoship Press, and publisher Bob Madison tells us it should be on the market soon. Meanwhile, there’s the preceding volume, Forgotten Horrors 3: Dr. Turner’s House of Horrors, available at your local bookstore or from www.amazon.com or the Midnight Marquee-Luminary Press website, www.midmar.com.

— Finally, book-wise, the new novel Ghost Band, should also make its debut later this year. It concerns a trumpeter named Miles West, touring with a group that still performs under the name of a dead bandleader (these outfits are known in the trade as “ghost bands”). It is, indeed, a ghost story, but I’d like to think that it offers ghosts that are a bit different — that might, in fact, open up our minds to other possibilities. It opened mine, up, anyway. I’m hoping it’ll be out by the fall.

— And don’t forget my pulp-fiction collections Roscoes in the Night (collecting Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective stories by Robert Leslie Bellem) and At the Stroke of Midnight (collecting all the Steve Midnight stories of John K. Butler) They’re both still available, along with a whole bunch of other pulp-related books, from their publisher, Adventure House. They’re also distributed to stores by Diamond Distributors.Roscoes is carried by www.barnesandnoble.com.

 

 

RADIO SHOW

 

Swing on This, my radio show on Tulsa’s KWGS (89.5 FM), is now well into its third season, and if the emails to this website are any indication, we continue to add new listeners. It’s a full hour of western swing, cowboy jazz, hot string-band music, and a song here and there that defies categorization, airing Saturday nights at 7 p.m., right between Prairie Home Companion and a longtime Tulsa favorite that recently moved to KWGS, Alan Lambert’s Big Band Saturday Night. KWGS is Tulsa’s NPR and PRI affiliate, which means there are no commercials and, really, no restrictions on what I can play. I’m trying to be responsible with all this freedom, but I freely admit that I slip from time to time and play something that would’ve gotten me busted back when I was doing a similar show on commercial station KVOO-AM (now regrettably defunct; see below) with country-music great and my hero, Billy Parker.

Tulsa is the place where western-swing grew up, after Bob Wills, Milton Brown, and a couple of others started this new amalgam of fiddle music, Dixieland jazz, blues, hillbilly and pop down in Fort Worth, Texas, in the very early ’30s. Bob was basically chased out of Texas by a vengeful ex-employer in 1934, ending up at Tulsa radio station KVOO, a huge clear-channel station in those days before FM, when it could be heard over most of the Southwest on a good night. Bob’s regular broadcasts from KVOO as he fiddled with and refined his western-swing sound helped build a huge audience for that musical genre. At one point, Wills and his Texas Playboys were the top-earning band in the country, outgrossing the likes of Harry James and Benny Goodman.

Bob broadcast from his Tulsa home, the Cain’s Ballroom, and while that historic venue doesn’t only still exist but has just been wonderfully restored by its current owners, the Rodgers family, KVOO-AM is no more, having succumbed to the regrettable fad of turning AM music stations into repositories of rancorous rants. Once the most famous station in Tulsa (the VOO stood for Voice of Oklahoma), it now has different call letters and air “personalities” offering a baffling mix of pursed-lipped Puritanism and peep-show prurience. A couple of the former KVOO’s FM sister stations still play country music — one of which is actually called KVOO — but I’m told that the music of Bob and Johnnie Lee Wills are pretty much off-limits to the deejays.

So, if you live in the Tulsa area and you want western-swing, please tune into Swing on This.

Those of you outside the Tulsa listening area can pick Swing on This up at 7 p.m. Central Time, right after Prairie Home Companion. Tune us in on the web at www.kwgs.org, and please tell your friends — at least the ones you think might be interested. I appreciate it very much.

 

NEW VIDEO


 

— First of all, VCI has reissued the western-swing documentary I wrote, Still Swingin’, which first came out over a decade ago. It’s now on DVD with a ton of extras, including some interviews I did with Bob Wills’ brother Luke, his sister Lorene, and several members of the Bob and Johnnie Lee Wills bands, material that was intended for a second documentary. There’s also some TV and movie footage of Bob and the boys performing various songs, and lots of other stuff. Chris Lewis, who directed the original, came back into town to shoot wraparounds with yours truly, whose big Okie face introduces the extras on this edition. We shot the new footage in VCI head Bill Blair’s home movie theater, which is beautiful. Bill’s son Bob, also a VCI executive, was there with us as well, and they gifted me with some B-western DVDs starring Ken Maynard, George Huston and Johnny Mack Brown — from their extensive VCI catalog — after the shoot was over.

SECOND PARAGRAPH, FIRST SENTENCE: REWRITE TO READ “The Still Swingin’ video was officially released on March 6th, 2005, the 100th anniversary of Bob Wills’ birth. (He and my younger son, Steven, share the same birthday, albeit 82 years apart). If you’re interested in getting a copy — it retails for $19.99, which isn’t bad for a little over five hours of western-swing music and interviews — contact VCI toll-free at (800) 331-4077 or on the web at www.vcientertainment.com

— I should also mention that I’m working with VCI and my good pal Bill Boyce, the cult-movie star of Slime People, Rat Fink and my own Cafe Purgatory, on another DVD project that should be out by Halloween. I don’t want to say
too much more, except to add that it reunites Bill and me with Leo Evans,
director and co-writer of Cafe Purgatory and writer of the ’80s slasher flick Hell High, which itself was recently released on DVD.

If you’re a reader of
Fangoria
, the world’s No. 1 horror-movie magazine, you probably saw the piece on Hell High that Mike Price and I did in our regular “Forgotten Horrors” column.

 

AND IN OTHER NEWS…

 

 

— A reminiscence of mine will be coming out sometime in The Phantom of the Movies’Videoscope, having to do with the first horror movie I ever saw and what it did to me, and I’m told my interview with singer Mark Lindsay will be out soon in Discoveries. You can also catch more of my stuff than you’d ever want to read in the Tulsa World the big-city newspaper that’s allowed me to work as its country and Oklahoma music and horror-movie writer, among other entertainment assignments, for 23 years and counting.

 

 

— Back atcha soon, you bet…

A Year Passes Like Nothing

Well, as the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers used to say, a year passes like nothing. (For you youngsters not hip to the underground comics of the ’60s and ’70s, the Freak Bros. were characters created and drawn by the great Gilbert Shelton, who also gave the world Wonder Wart Hog.)

Actually, it hasn’t been quite a year since something new came along in this space, and technically, something new shows up each week, as we (and by “we” I mean my webmaster, Joltin’ Jonathan Wooley, the Co-ed’s Friend) post in a weekly log sheet for my western-swing radio show, Swing on This. (For more on that, including how you can get it outside the Tulsa area, please see the“radio” section.)

Anyway, the reason I haven’t been flapping my gums — or, technically, flexing my fingers — more here is that there hasn’t been a whole lot of a lot of big-time news since last we met here, in mid-spring of ’04. I’m happy to say, however, that situation seems to have improved, and now there’s plenty to talk about.

NEW VIDEO

— First of all, VCI head Bill Blair’s home movie theater, which is beautiful. Bill’s son Bob, also awww.vcientertainment.com

— I should also mention that I’m working with Fangoria, the world’s No. 1 horror-movie magazine, you probably saw the piece on Hell High that Mike Price and I did in our regular “Forgotten Horrors” column.

NEW BOOKS

— There’s a little something for everyone in the books I’ve got coming out this year (he said hopefully).

First of all, late May should see the long-awaited release of The Big Book of Biker Flicks a deluxe, oversized, color-interiors volume from www.amazon.com or the Midnight Marquee-Luminary Press website, HAWK Publishing Group). It’s the first book-length history of OMA, an institution dubbed the West Point of the Southwest. From 1919 to 1971, it sat atop College Hill outside of Claremore, OK, about 15 miles from where I type this. Right across from the Will Rogers Memorial, it’s now metamorphosed into the classy Rogers State University.

The book is full of photos as well as text, documenting the famed school’s history in the words of its former students, all placed in historical context. It will have its debut in June at the reunion of former OMA cadets, and while those interested in military institutions, Oklahoma history, and OMA itself will be the book’s primary audience, I have to tell you that my research turned up some neat movie and music connections, which the book also documents. In 1935, for instance, when Will Rogers was the No. 1 box office attraction in America, he brought the OMA polo team to Hollywood to play a match with Stanford. An anecdote involving the cadets’ tour of the 20th Century-Fox studios is one of my favorite stories in the book.

— Finally, book-wise, the new novel Ghost Band, should also make its debut later this year. It concerns a trumpeter named Miles West, touring with a group that still performs under the name of a dead bandleader (these outfits are known in the trade as “ghost bands”). It is, indeed, a ghost story, but I’d like to think that it offers ghosts that are a bit different — that might, in fact, open up our minds to other possibilities. It opened mine, up, anyway. I’m hoping it’ll be out by the fall.

— And don’t forget my pulp-fiction collections Roscoes in the Night (collecting Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective stories by Robert Leslie Bellem) and At the Stroke of Midnight (collecting all the Steve Midnight stories of John K. Butler) They’re both still available, along with a whole bunch of other pulp-related books, from their publisher,www.barnesandnoble.com

RADIO SHOW

Swing on This, my radio show on Tulsa’s KWGS (89.5 FM), is now well into its second season, and seems to be continuing on an upswing. It’s a full hour of western swing, cowboy jazz, hot string band music, or whatever else you want to call it, airing Saturday nights at 7 p.m., right between Prairie Home Companion and Riverwalk, Live from the Landing. KWGS is Tulsa’s NPR and PRI affiliate, which means there are no commercials and, really, no restrictions on what I can play — which can be sort of dangerous, I guess, but I’m trying to be responsible about it.

Tulsa is the place where western-swing grew up, after Bob Wills, Milton Brown, and a couple of others started this new amalgam of fiddle music, Dixieland jazz, blues, hillbilly and pop down in Fort Worth, Texas, in the very early ’30s. Bob was basically chased out of Tulsa by a vengeful ex-employer in 1934, ending up at Tulsa radio station KVOO, a huge clear-channel station in those days before FM, when it could be heard over most of the Southwest on a good night. Bob’s regular broadcasts from KVOO as he fiddled with and refined his western-swing sound helped build a huge audience for that musical genre. At one point, Wills and his Texas Playboys were the top-earning band in the country, outgrossing the likes of Harry James and Benny Goodman.

Bob broadcast from his Tulsa home, the Cain’s Ballroom, and while that historic venue doesn’t only still exist but has just been wonderfully restored by its current owners, the Rodgers family, KVOO-AM is no more, having succumbed to the regrettable fad of turning AM music stations into repositories of rancorous rants. Once the most famous station in Tulsa (the VOO stood for Voice of Oklahoma), it now has different call letters and air “personalities” offering a baffling mix of pursed-lipped Puritanism and peep-show prurience. A couple of the former KVOO’s FM sister stations still play country music — one of which is actually called KVOO — but I’m told that the music of Bob and Johnnie Lee Wills are pretty much off-limits to the deejays.

So, if you live in the Tulsa area and you want western-swing, please tune into Swing on This. (I should also note that Dave Boyd and his staff at the fiercely independent Vinita-based station KITO — 96.1 FM/1470 AM — also remember the Wills heritage on their programs.)

Those of you outside the Tulsa listening area can pick Swing on This up at 7 p.m. Central Time, right after Prairie Home Companion. Tune us in on the web atAdventure House) atwww.heartlandauthors.com.

SPECIAL OFFER

— Yep. It’s still our indie feature film Cafe Purgatory, which One Step Beyond. It’s also got Elvis in it, or a surprisingly reasonable facsimile thereof, and comes in its own lovely hardshell case.

THAT’S IT

— Again and as always, many thanks for stopping by.

One of us, one of us, gibble gobble, one of us . . .

One of us, one of us, gibble gobble, one of us . . .

The wedding chant of those lovable circus freaks in the greatest horror
film of all time — that would be Tod Browning’s Freaks from 1932 — once
again welcomes you to the John Wooley website. This is the spring-summer 2004
edition, and while it’s the first update in several months (okay, since before
Halloween) it’s not, I’ll tell you right up front, particularly newsy.

I can’t tell you about any new books, for instance, except for the two which had just come out when I did the last update, Roscoes in the Night and Forgotten Horrors 3 (see below). The much-hyped (by me, anyway) Big Book of Biker Flicks has gone through some size and other changes, which caused delays, but it’s now on track for a Christmas season release. Please file that away for the time when you’re thinking about what to get for the easy riders on your Yuletide list. I’m also into the final draft of my first novel since Awash in the Blood (still in print and available for ordering via bookstores as well as online). It’s called Ghost Band, and it’s about music and ghosts, not necessarily in that order. It’s a pretty different book for me, too. HAWK should have it out in 2005.

So here’s the latest:

— Meanwhile, I’m getting a lot of email on Swing on This, the radio show I started last fall on Tulsa’s KWGS (89.5 FM). Interestingly enough, much of it is coming from places that can’t pick it up anywhere but on the Internet. You guys are obviously much smarter than I am when it comes to being hip to streaming — while I was writing that I thought you’d be able to pick it up but I wasn’t sure how, you were just cutting to the chase and getting it. So, thanks. And thanks for all the emails. If you email with a request, you’ll probably hear your name on the air with a dedication. That’s something I learned from the great Billy Parker, with whom I did a western-swing show on the legendary Tulsa station KVOO (home of Bob and Johnnie Lee Wills) for over a decade, before the hate-radio bomb-throwers took over and changed the call letters and pretty much everything else about the station. (Did I say “hate-radio bomb-throwers”? Maybe that’s too harsh. Naw, probably not.)

Anyway, in case you haven’t heard , it’s a full hour of western swing, cowboy jazz, hot string band music, or whatever else you want to call it, airing Saturday nights at 7 p.m., right between Prairie Home Companion and Riverwalk, Live from the Landing. KWGS is Tulsa’s NPR and PRI affiliate, which means there are no commercials and, really, no restrictions on what I can play. In the first couple of weeks of the program, I went from Bob Wills’ “Miss Molly” to Jethro Burns and Tiny Moore doing the jazz standard “Out of Nowhere,” with Eldon Shamblin and Shelley Manne in support. I’ve played all sorts of stuff since then, old and new, from Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies (another pioneering western-swing group, cut short by the death of its leader in the ’30s) and Billy Briggs’ XIT Boys to contemporary acts both familiar (Asleep at the Wheel, Red Steagall, Suzy Bogguss) and less so (Igor’s Jazz Cowboys, Diddy Wah Diddy).

I’m having a ball with the show, and I welcome your input on it. I pledge to answer every email, although I’m about a month behind at this point.

Those of you outside the Tulsa listening area can pick it up at 7 p.m. Central Time, right after Prairie Home Companion. Tune us in on the web at www.kwgs.org, and please tell your friends — at least the ones you think might be interested. I appreciate it very much.

— Good news on Roscoes in the Night, my latest pulp-story collection. At the recent Windy City Pulp and Paperback Convention in Chicago — a get-together of pulp, paperback and escapist-fiction fans that I highly recommend (see www.windycitypulpconvention.com for more) — I got some face time with its publisher, John Gunnison, who heads Adventure House, and he told me that Roscoes sold out its first printing and is now into a second. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the book, it’s a baker’s dozen of stories featuring the peerless Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective, written by the late Robert Leslie Bellem. Bellem penned the stories, which originally appeared from 1934 through 1950 in such pulp magazines as Hollywood Detective, Spicy Detective, Speed Detective and Private Detective; John and I edited the book and I wrote the 13-page intro, which includes rare material written by Bellem himself, little-known facts about the million-words-a-year fictioneer, and looks at the two movies featuring the character: Republic’s 1947 feature Blackmail, with William Marshall as Dan, and the 1990 made-for-TV film Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective, with Marc (Beastmaster, V) Singer in the title role. (I was lucky enough to write the script for the latter, continuing a long association I’ve had with the character.) There are lots of photos from both features as well, and reproductions of some mighty lurid pulp covers.

Just in case you haven’t encountered them, I should tell you that the Dan Turner stories are pretty much unlike anything you’ve ever read — whizzy, slangy, funny,outrageous, first-person adventures taking place in a Hollywood that never was. If he’s, say, on the grounds of a studio and someone shoots at him, he might tell it like this: “Behind me, a roscoe sneezed kachow! and a
lead pill split the ozone next to my noggin. I ankled the lot, my hip pockets dipping gravel.”

Adventure House also published my earlier pulp collection, At the Stroke of Midnight, which collects the atmospheric, absorbing adventures of cabbie Steve Midnight, “the hard-luck hacker,” by an extremely underrated writer named John K. Butler. It’s still available, along with a whole bunch of other pulp-related books, from www.adventurehouse.com. The books are also distributed to stores by Diamond Distributors, and Roscoes is carried by www.barnesandnoble.com

Forgotten Horrors 3: Dr. Turner’s House of Horrors is the latest in the acclaimed series, a tribute to Michael H. Price’s longtime co-writer on the books, George Turner, the film-industry figure who passed away a couple of years ago. Following George’s death, Michael asked me to step in as collaborator on the books — and he didn’t have to ask twice. I’ve been a fan of Forgotten Horrors from the very beginning.

In case you haven’t seen them, the Forgotten Horrors books deal with movies from small-time and independent producers and studios, each volume breezily analyzing somewhere between 100 and 200 pictures — some fairly well known, some virtually unknown — that feature horrific elements. No. 3, for instance, covers the years 1943-46, and includes entries on the likes of Dead Men Walk, Nabonga, and Monogram’s Shadow films, as well as lesser-known features like Isle of Forgotten Sins, the weird Cisco Kid western Beauty and the Bandit and what may be both the strangest and most perfect Hollywood film of all time, How Doooo You Do!!!. I’m really proud to be a part of this series, and it’s typical of Michael that he took me on as a full partner with No. 3, even though he’d already done the lion”s share of the work on it.

For those of you who don’t know Mike Price, he’s the former senior movie critic for the Fort Worth Star Telegram whose work was syndicated by the
New York Times
for years — but he’s also a true left-of-center Renaissance man: recording artist, songwriter, actor, comic-book and trading-card creator, and one of the best authorities in the world on the obscure and the unheralded in our popular culture.

You can get Forgotten Horrors 3: Dr. Turner”s House of Horrors at your local bookstore or from www.amazon.com or the Midnight Marquee website,
www.midmar.com

— Also, check out our “Forgotten Horrors” column in Fangoria, America’s No. 1 horror media magazine. For Fango, we’re writing about movies that are a little newer and a more explicitly horrific, pictures made between the beginning of the Gore Era (1964) and the home-video era (1984); each column includes a brief interview with at least one person who helped make the picture. We’re getting good feedback and having great fun writing about pictures like Blood Freak, Rattlers, and Petey Wheatstraw, the Devil’s Son-in-Law.

Look for “Forgotten Horrors” out every month or so in the magazine or on the Fango website, www.fangoria.com, which not only occasionally runs one of the columns, but also lets you know which one is coming out next.

And, by the way, thanks to Tony Timpone and Mike Gingold — Fango’s editor and managing editor, respectively — not only for greenlighting our “Forgotten Horrors” idea, which is now somewhere around 18 installments, but also for running a recent review of Forgotten Horrors 3 by Tom Weaver, probably the No. 1 interviewer of classic horror and science-fiction personalities. We appreciate all three of you.

— Finally, you’ll note that this website’s special offer — for the film festival award-winning indie film Cafe Purgatory, which I co-wrote and co-produced — is still in effect. It may not be that special anymore, but it’s still listed because I’m trying to sell more copies. All money we get goes into an account, and when it gets big enough — we’re a little over halfway there — the actors and technicians, who all worked for deferred money, get paid.

No, you can’t take it as a tax deduction, but I think it’s worth 20 bucks. So does the legendary Tim Ferrante of Videoscope magazine, whose three-star review of in the spring 2002 issue said, among other things, “In the rough-and-tumble world of low-budget movies, seldom do we see filmmakers beat the overwhelming odds and produce something watchable. Amazingly, Cafe Purgatory managed to get enough of a toehold to keep me interested without once fast-forwarding. And that is one hell of an achievement!”

He goes on to compare it to the old TV show One Step Beyond (which, probably not surprisingly, was one of my favorites as a kid) , and then concludes with, “If you want to see how an invisible budget blends with intelligent writing and some pretty smart filmmaking, you need look no further than Cafe Purgatory.”

I know in these challenging times not a lot of us have an extra couple of frogskins threatening to burst into flame in our wallets, but I’d appreciate your considering an investment in a copy of Cafe Purgatory, especially if you’re into the unusual and the speculative, you wonder about faith and the afterlife — or you just want to see what the heroic young star of The Slime
People
looks like 40 years later. Check it out in the “special offer” section of this website.

— Again and as always, many thanks for stopping by.

h

One of Us #4

You may recognize those lines as part of the welcome given the haughty trapeze artist (played by Olga Baclanova) in the classic 1932 movie Freaks. And while that particular welcoming didn’t go all
that well, we’ve appropriated those lines to introduce you to our website, where you’ll find news about new John Wooley books and other projects, as well as opportunites to buy vintage, rare, and out-of-print Wooley material at special prices. We invite you to browse this site, and we’d love to hear from you. Contact us with comments or questions at webmaster@johnwooley.com.

Meanwhile, here’s the latest Wooley news:

— John’s latest novel, Awash in the Blood (HAWK Publishing Group), recently sold out in its hardcover edition and has been reprinted as a trade paperback. And while we can’t go into specifics right now, we can say that there is some preliminary movie interest in the book, which tells the tale of a vampire televangelist. We’ll keep you posted.

— Next on the stands for John is a nonfiction movie book, The Big Book of Biker Flicks, co-authored with his friend and frequent collaborator Michael H. Price and published by HAWK Publishing Group. Michael and John have a number of interviews with biker-movie greats, including Peter Fonda, William Smith, Jack Nicholson and Sonny Barger, and they’ve supplied HAWK’s designer with tons of great movie ads and photos. Look for it in time for Christmas 2002.

— Also up soon from Michael and John: Forgotten Horrors 3: Dr. Turner’s House of Horrors, the latest in the acclaimed series from Midnight Marquee Press. Following the death of his longtime co-writer George Turner, Michael asked John to step in as collaborator on the series — and he didn’t have to ask twice. These great books deal with movies from small-time and independent producers and studios, and each volume looks at several dozen pictures — some fairly well known, some almost unknown — that feature horrific elements. The upcoming No. 3, for instance, covers the years 1943-46, and includes entries on the likes of Dead Men Walk, Nabonga, Isle of Forgotten Sins
and the weird Cisco Kidwestern Beauty and the Bandit.

— Under the same “Forgotten Horrors” title, Price and Wooley continue with their well-received column in Fangoria,America’s No. 1 horror media magazine. For Fangoria, they’re writing about movies made between the beginning of the Gore Era (1964) and the home-video era (1984); each column includes a brief interview with someone who helped make the picture. Check “Forgotten Horrors” out in the magazine or the website, www.fangoria.com

One of Us #3

You may recognize those lines from the wedding feast in Freaks, the 1932 Tod Browning masterpiece that happens to be one of my three favorite films of all times. (The other two? White Christmas and Grapes of Wrath. Glad you asked.) We appropriate those timeless words as a way of welcoming you to the John Wooley website.
As I write this, it’s a time of celebration, with Christmas just ended and New Year’s Eve looming. While I hope your holiday parties don’t end like the one in Freaks, with a drunken zoftig trapeze artist (played beautifully by Olga Baclanova in the movie) screaming about how you’re all “dirty … freaks,” I do wish you a wonderful 2003, with new year’s celebrations that are full of joy and maybe even a little weirdness.

Speaking of joy and weirdness, here’s the latest Wooley news, updated 30 December 2002:

— First of all, while this is hardly news, I read somewhere that talking about yourself in the third person is a sign of insanity, and I do know that it seems sort of distant, so I’m going first-person from here on out. This may present a bit of a schizo effect as the new first-person stuff collides with the old third-person stuff below, but I have no doubt that anyone visiting this website is smart enough (not to mention talented and good-looking, if not drop-dead gorgeous) to figure things out.

— Much of the news this time is musical. Because of inexplicable — if temporary — lapses of judgement on the part of two otherwise first-rate national acts, Steve Ripley and the Red Dirt Rangers, I’ve ended up playing my reliable old Vox Jaguar (aka “cheesy organ”) on two new discs.

    The first one to come out was the Red Dirt Rangers’ Starin’ Down the Sun, a terrific example of the emerging musical form known as Red Dirt. Recorded with Steve Ripley at Tulsa’s Church Studio, the former home of Leon Russell and Shelter Records, it’s got that great close-to-the-earth Okie sound that comes from a scene whose antecedents are both Woody Guthrie and Bob Wills. I play on the first track, “We Don’t Have to Say Goodbye,” crafted by Rangers member John Cooper as a tribute to the recently deceased Doug Sahm (a musical hero of mine as well). As the story goes, they were wanting an organ part that sounded something like the work of the great Augie Meyers, Sahm’s longtime cohort, and started calling around town to see if they could find an old Vox or Farfisa organ like Augie used to play. Finally, one of them remembered that I’d played one in my band, the Moody Dudes (our motto: “the band that never gets in a hurry”), and called me. When I told them I’d be happy for them to borrow it, they said I might as well come in and play. Of course, it was all very groovy, in true Sahm tradition, and I’m honored to be on the disc. For more about the record and the band, check out www.reddirtrangers.com

Since the Moody Dudes were in one of their long hibernation periods, I left the organ at Church Studios, where Steve could stare at it suspiciously for awhile. Now, most music fans know about Ripley’s group the Tractors, a multimillion-selling outfit famed for the country hit “Baby Likes to Rock It.” What they may not know is that Steve just cut a solo CD for his new label, Boy Rocking Records (www.boyrocking.com), distributed by Audium, and while it’s not officially out yet, Ripley is already getting major-league buzz. It’s getting this despite my appearance on the first cut — and, I understand, the disc’s first single — “Gone Away,” a paen to love lost and a past life remembered. Steve was good enough to list me as one of the track’s writers as well — along with him and Nashville songwriting superstar Tim DuBois — which necessitated my getting affiliated with BMI and starting my own publishing company. I used the name I first thought of when I was playing music in college: Laugh-Thot-I’d-Die Music.

Steve’s disc is a brilliant rootsy collection that defies categorization, featuring guest appearances from Elvis guitarist Scotty Moore, the Jordanaires, and the Whites, among others. I give both Ripley and Starin’ Down the Sun my highest recommendation — they’re both good enough to have not only survived my contributions, but prospered.

Awash in the Blood (HAWK Publishing Group) continues to sell as a trade paperback, available via virtually every Internet bookstore and in Barnes & Nobles across the country. For those unfamiliar with it, it s the tale of a televangelist who gets bitten by a vampire after an All Souls’ Eve preaching engagement in Transylvania and finds out that it’s easy to mistake the darkness for the light. I think it’s the best thing I’ve done, and I welcome your feedback on it.

— Next on the stands for me is a nonfiction movie book, The Big Book of Biker Flicks, co-authored with my friend and frequent collaborator Michael H. Price and published, as is most of my stuff, by the wonderful folks at the HAWK Publishing Group. We’ve gotten a number of interviews with biker-movie greats, including Peter Fonda, William Smith, Jack Nicholson and Sonny Barger, and we’ve supplied HAWK’s designer, Carul Brune, with tons of great movie ads and photos. In fact, he’s so taken with the material that he’s taken some extra time to give the book a dynamite layout, so it’s now due on the stands in spring of 2003. I talked to Carl about it at the HAWK Christmas party, and came away thinking he’s going to really make it something special.

One of Us #2

Once again, those lines from what may be the greatest horror movie ever made, 1932’s immortal Freaks, welcome you to the John Wooley website. We (that’s not the royal or editoral “we,” but my webmaster son Jonathan and I) appreciate all of you who’ve visited since our last update, back in January. Thanks also for your emails, and for your support in any number of other ways.

So here’s the latest:

— Had a swell time at World Horror Convention No. 13, held in Kansas City in late March. My vampire televangelist novel AWASH IN THE BLOOD, now available in a relatively economical trade paperback after its hardcover sellout (check out your local bookstore, www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com), got a really nice reception, helped by my appearance on a panel with some true vampire-tale heavyweights, Laurell K. Hamilton and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and my Tulsa writer pal Brad Sinor. I got that shot only because another good friend, Dean Andersson, had to cancel his appearance at the last minute, and I was sorry I wasn’t able to see him.

    There were, however, some fine moments. It’s always great to visit with other writers, especially when alcohol is involved, and I found myself involved in some engaging conversations with the likes of Garrett Peck, William D. Gagliani, Mort Castle (whom I’d only corresponded with, never met), Ed Bryant, and Gary Jonas. (Gary’s new novel from Yard Dog Press, One Way Ticket to Midnight, is a well-told tale of a down-and-out bluesman’s fight with dark forces, and I especially love the subtext; you could almost see the whole thing as a metaphor for the struggles any artist has to go through to be worth anything.) I also became re-aquainted with Berkley editor Ginjer Buchanan, Laurell Hamilton’s editor and a former editor of mine — she was in charge of Berkley’s 1989 release Full Moon, which Ron Wolfe and I wrote under the nom de plume of Mick Winters.

Most of the publishers at World Horror hosted parties, and most of those parties offered a special drink. Gary’s publisher, Selina Rosen, took the prize in that area as far as I’m concerned, serving up a complicated coconut concoction called a Hurling Monkey to unwary partygoers.

    I went to the convention with my own publisher, the bestselling mystery-thriller author and head of HAWK Publishing Group, William Bernhardt. Bill hosted the Thursday night HAWK party, along with new horror author Fara Spence (check out her terrific first novel for HAWK, That Hurt Thing) and her husband, Jeff, who also rode up from Tulsa with us. My only regret is that we didn’t have time to visit the Precious Moments compound, which is right on the way.

— Last time, I wrote about Ripley, Steve Ripley’s new CD for his Boy Rocking Records (www.boyrocking.com), distributed by Audium, and my participation as a writer and Vox Jaguar organ player on the first cut, “Gone Away.” Well, the disc’s out now, getting great notices from all over, and “Gone Away” — in a new, shorter, mix — is coming out as the first single. Corporate country radio being what it is these days, and please don’t get me started, the prospect of a hit on those charts is, frankly, not great. However, with the rise of the Americana-type stations, which feature music willing to take a few more chances and bounce outside Nashville’s proscribed lines, there’s a good bet “Gone Away” is going to get some significant airplay. If you have an adventurous radio station in your neighborhood, we’d appreciate your taking a moment to request it. I’d like it a lot even if I weren’t on it. Of course, I’ve been a Ripley fan for a good long while.

— I originally expected The Big Book of Biker Flicks, co-authored with my friend and frequent collaborator Michael H. Price and published, as is most of my stuff, by HAWK Publishing Group, to be out by now. It’s going to be a few months more, though, as designer Carl Brune has been taking the time necessary to make it look like something really out of the ordinary. I’m just now seeing the page proofs, and Carl’s layout is all I could hope for — and maybe more.

    For our parts, we’ve included material from interviews with biker-movie greats like Peter Fonda, William Smith, Jack Nicholson and Sonny Barger, among others We’ve even got the great schlockmeister Herschell Gordon Lewis ( Blood Feast, 2000 Maniacs ) on the record about his immortal She-Devils on Wheels. It’s going to be something special, I think, and current plans call for it to be ready for the Christmas season

— Meanwhile, the Wooley-Price collaboration Forgotten Horrors 3: Dr. Turner’s House of Horrors should be out in early summer from Luminary Press, a division of Midnight Marquee. It’s the latest in the acclaimed series, a tribute to film industry figure and Michael’s longtime co-writer George Turner, who passed away a couple of years ago. Following George’s death, Michael asked me to step in as collaborator on the books — and he didn’t have to ask twice. I’ve been a fan of Forgotten Horrors from the first, and I’m doing my best to uphold the tradition.

    These great books deal with movies from small-time and independent producers and studios, and each volume looks at several dozen pictures — some fairly well known, some almost unknown — that feature horrific
elements. The upcoming No. 3, for instance, covers the years 1943-46, and includes entries on the likes of Dead Men Walk, Nabonga, Isle of Forgotten Sins> and the weird Cisco Kid western Beauty and the Bandit. Check out the cover at the Midnight Marquee website, www.midmar.com

— Under the same “Forgotten Horrors” title, Price and Wooley continue with their well-received column in Fangoria,America’s No. 1 horror media magazine. For Fangoria, they’re writing about movies made between the beginning of the Gore Era (1964) and the home-video era (1984); each column includes a brief interview with someone who helped make the picture. Check “Forgotten Horrors” out in the magazine or the website, www.fangoria.com

— Also due out this summer is Roscoes in the Night, a collection of stories featuring the peerless pulp character Dan Turner — Hollywood Detective, featuring an intro by yours truly and published by my pal John Gunnison at Adventure House (www.adventurehouse.com). As written by the million-words-a-year fictioneer Robert Leslie Bellem, the Dan Turner stories
are pretty much unlike anything you’ve ever read — whizzy, slangy, funny, first-person adventures that take place in a Hollywood that never was. We’ve collected a dozen Turner tales from the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s for this volume, and the substantial introduction lets you in on some little-known stuff about Dan and his creator, featuring photos from both Dan Turner movies (including the made-for-TV movie starring Marc (Beastmaster) Singer that I wrote back in 1990). It’ll be out by July, John says, just in time to make Pulpcon, that wonderful, alpha wave-creating, annual get together of pulp-magazine fans in Dayton, Ohio.

— Finally, you’ll note that this website’s special offer — for the film festival award-winning indie film Cafe Purgatory, which I co-wrote and co-produced — is still in effect. It comes in a handsome illustrated case, autographed by at least two people involved with the film. And it’s still listed because I’m trying to sell still more copies. All money we get goes into an account, and when it gets big enough — we’re about halfway there — the actors and technicians get paid.

    No, you can’t take it as a tax deduction, but I think it’s worth 20 bucks. So does Tim Ferrante of Videoscope magazine. Check out his three-star review in the spring 2002 issue of the mag.

— Again and as always, many thanks for stopping by.

One of Us #1

The wedding chant of those lovable circus freaks in the greatest horror film of all time — that would be Tod Browning’s Freaks from 1932 — welcomes you to the official (come to think of it, as far as we know, there are no unofficial ones) John Wooley website. This is the late fall-early winter 2003 edition, and the big news this time around involves a new radio show for lovers of western-swing music.

So here’s the latest:

— As a lot of you know, I was privileged to be on a western-swing program with the great Hall of Fame disc jockey and country-music artist Billy Parker for about a dozen years on KVOO-AM, the station Bob Wills ended up on back in 1934 after leaving his native Texas. Back in those pre-FM days, KVOO was a 50,000 watt flamethrower whose signal cut a wide swath through the southwestern United States, and occasionally beyond. (There are stories — perhaps apocryphal, perhaps not — about G.I.s in the Philippines during World War II using radios salvaged from bombers to pick up the station and get their Wills fix.) From 1934 on, Bob Wills and his brother, Johnnie Lee, used that station to help popularize the music they helped create and define — western swing.

The show Billy and I did started for fun around 1990-91 — neither of us are sure — and survived a big ownership change. But when Journal Broadcasting, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, bought the station a year or so ago, neither our show nor the venerable, famous call letters (VOO standing for Voice of Oklahoma) were left standing. There is still a KVOO-FM, as well as a sister station, KXBL, that plays country oldies. Billy has his own Saturday morning show, which I highly recommend, on the latter. But the famed KVOO-AM has become a “talk” station called KFAQ, with programming so alien to KVOO’s rich and deep musical tradition that it might as well be coming from Mars. (I’m having to restrain myself here to keep from going off on a rant about this whole deal; I know, however, that if I do, I could sound as nutty and rabid as KFAQ’s “air personalities,” and that’s keeping me quiet. For now, anyway.)

Anyway, ever since KVOO-AM went away — along, shortly afterwards, with me — I’ve been looking for a place to play western swing. After all, if there’s one town in America that should have a western-swing program, it’s Tulsa, where the musical form grew up.

Now, thanks to the folks at KWGS (89.5 FM), we’ve got it. Called Swing on
This
, my new show is a full hour of western swing, cowboy jazz, hot string band music, or whatever else you want to call it, airing Saturday nights at 7 p.m., right between “Prairie Home Companion” and “Riverwalk, Live from the
Landing.” KWGS is Tulsa’s NPR affiliate, which means there are no commercials and, really, no restrictions on what I can play. In the first couple of weeks of the program, I’ve gone from Bob Wills’s “Miss Molly” to Jethro Burns and Tiny
Moore doing the jazz standard “Out of Nowhere,” with Eldon Shamblin and Shelley Manne in support. We play old and new stuff, from the extremely obscure to the joyously familiar.

I’m very happy to have this new show, and welcome your input. I’m even doing dedications, just like Billy and I used to do. So, if you have a comment or request, please email me here and my hard-working webmaster, Jonathan Wooley, will get it to me — as soon as he pries himself away from the latest anime festival, or whatever it is that kids are doing on the Oklahoma State campus these days.

Once again, the show airs Saturdays at 7 p.m. on KWGS, 89.5 FM, out of
Tulsa. If I was a little less of a Luddite, I could tell you whether it streams, or whatever the term is that means you can pick it up on your computer. I’ll find out and get back to you on that.

Meanwhile, please tell your western-swing-loving friends about the new show. You can tune in for Garrison Keillor at 5 p.m. on Saturdays and stay for
Bob Wills. A nice complement, I think.

Forgotten Horrors 3: Dr. Turner’s House of Horrors has been out for a few months now from Luminary Press, a division of Midnight Marquee. It”s the latest in the acclaimed series, a tribute to Michael H. Price’s longtime co-writer on the books, George Turner, the film-industry figure who passed away a couple of years ago. Following George’s death, Michael asked me to step in as collaborator on the books — and he didn”t have to ask twice. I’ve been a fan of Forgotten Horrors from the very beginning.

In case you haven’t seen them, the Forgotten Horrors books deal with movies from small-time and independent producers and studios, each volume breezily analyzing somewhere between 100 and 200 pictures — some fairly well known, some virtually unknown — that feature horrific elements. No. 3, for instance, covers the years 1943-46, and includes entries on the likes of Dead Men Walk, Nabonga, and Monogram’s Shadow films, as well as lesser-known features like Isle of Forgotten Sins, the weird Cisco Kid western Beauty and the Bandit and what may be both the strangest and most perfect Hollywood film of all time, How Doooo You Do!!!. I’m really proud to be a part of this series, and it’s typical of Michael that he took me on as a full partner with No. 3, even though he’d already done the lion”s share of the work on it.

For those of you who don’t know Mike Price, he’s the former senior movie critic for the Fort Worth Star Telegram whose work was syndicated by the
New York Times
for years — but he’s also a true left-of-center Renaissance man: recording artist, songwriter, actor, comic-book and trading-card creator, and one of the best authorities in the world on the obscure and the unheralded in our popular culture.

You can get Forgotten Horrors 3: Dr. Turner”s House of Horrors at your local bookstore or from www.amazon.com or the Midnight Marquee website,
www.midmar.com

— Also, check out our “Forgotten Horrors” column in Fangoria, America’s No. 1 horror media magazine. For Fango, we’re writing about movies that are a little newer and a more explicitly horrific, pictures made between the beginning of the Gore Era (1964) and the home-video era (1984); each column includes a brief interview with at least one person who helped make the picture. We’re getting good feedback and having great fun writing about pictures like Blood Freak, Rattlers, and Petey Wheatstraw, the Devil’s Son-in-Law.

Look for “Forgotten Horrors” out every month or so in the magazine or on the Fango website, www.fangoria.com, which not only occasionally runs one of the columns, but also lets you know which one is coming out next.

And, by the way, thanks to Tony Timpone and Mike Gingold — Fango’s editor and managing editor, respectively — not only for greenlighting our “Forgotten Horrors” idea, which is now somewhere around 18 installments, but also for running a recent review of Forgotten Horrors 3 by Tom Weaver, probably the No. 1 interviewer of classic horror and science-fiction personalities. We appreciate all three of you.

— My newest pulp-story collection is Roscoes in the Night (Adventure
House), a baker’s dozen of stories featuring the peerless Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective, written by the late Robert Leslie Bellem. Bellem penned the stories, which originally appeared from 1934 through 1950 in such pulp magazines as Hollywood Detective, Spicy Detective, Speed Detective and Private Detective; I edited the book — with my pal, Adventure House head John Gunnison — and wrote the 13-page intro, which includes rare material written by Bellem himself, little-known facts about the million-words-a-year fictioneer, and looks at the two movies featuring the character: Republic’s 1947 feature Blackmail, with William Marshall as Dan, and the 1990 made-for-TV film Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective, with Marc (Beastmaster, V) Singer in the title role. (I was lucky enough to write the script for the latter, continuing a long association I’ve had with the character.) There are lots of photos from both features as well, and reproductions of some mighty lurid pulp covers. It debuted at Pulpcon in Dayton, Ohio, on July 31, and I#146;m happy to say we had dozens of sales right out of the box. Since then, we’ve been getting some great response from all across the country, from diehard Dan fans as well as people brand-new to his wacky world.

Just in case you haven’t encountered them, I should tell you that the Dan Turner stories are pretty much unlike anything you’ve ever read — whizzy, slangy, funny,outrageous, first-person adventures taking place in a Hollywood that never was. If he’s, say, on the grounds of a studio and someone shoots at him, he might tell it like this: “Behind me, a roscoe sneezed kachow! and a lead pill split the ozone next to my noggin. I ankled the lot, my hip pockets dipping gravel.”

Adventure House also published my earlier pulp collection, At the Stroke of Midnight, which collects the atmospheric, absorbing adventures of cabbie
Steve Midnight, “the hard-luck hacker,” by an extremely underrated writer named John K. Butler. It’s still available, along with a whole bunch of other pulp-related books, from www.advernturehouse.com. The books are also distributed to stores by Diamond Distributors, and Roscoes is carried by www.barnesandnoble.com

— The long-awaited (by a few of us, anyway) Big Book of Biker Flicks,
co-authored with my friend and Forgotten Horrors collaborator Mike Price and published, as is most of my stuff, by HAWK Publishing Group, is on track for a spring of 2004 release. HAWK’s Carl Brune has done a great job of designing it, with lots of reproductions of stills, lobby cards and pressbook material, and we’ve got interviews with biker-movie greats like Peter Fonda, William Smith, Jack Nicholson and Sonny Barger, among many others. Father Knows Best’s Billy Gray, for instance, weighs in on the origins of Werewolves on Wheels, and the great schlockmeister Herschell Gordon Lewis (Blood Feast, 2000 Maniacs) goes on the record about his immortal She-Devils on Wheels. We think it’ll be a dandy book for both motorcycle and movie fans, whether casual or devoted. Look for it this spring.

— Although I’m not one to dig my toe in the carpet and make aw-shucks noises, I have to admit I’m pretty overwhelmed by my upcoming induction into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, which is usually reserved for famous entertainers instead of people who write about famous entertainers. In fact, I’ll be the first writer inducted. What an honor this is, and I’m not being fatuous or fawning when I say that a piece of the award goes to every person I’ve ever written about. It’s true. If not for them, I wouldn’t have had anything to write about, and the Tulsa World would’ve snapped to that sooner or later and stopped giving me checks.

Some of those very folks will be inducted along with me in ceremonies in Muskogee on November 20. Ronnie Dunn, whom I knew and was interviewing and reviewing well before he hooked up with Kix Brooks to form the most successful country-music duo in history, is one of them. So is the great swing guitarist Benny Garcia, probably the only person who ever played in the bands of both Bob Wills and Benny Goodman. Ditto for blues legends D.C. Minner and Flash Terry, and the late big-band era vocalist Lee Wiley, long a favorite of mine. All of those top-drawer entertainers will be inducted on November 20th (with Vince Gill scheduled to induct his friend and mentor Garcia); a Brooks & Dunn concert, with other inductees opening, follows.

And what am I doing with this group of musical heavyweights? Beats the hell out of me, but, as Minnie Pearl would say, I’m awful proud to be there.

For more information, contact Holly Rosser Miller, executive director of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, 216 W. Okmulgee Ave., Muskogee, OK 74401. The phone number is (918) 687-0800; website — Finally, you’ll note that this website’s special offer — for the film festival award-winning indie film Cafe Purgatory, which I co-wrote and co-produced — is still in effect. It may not be that special anymore, but it’s still listed because I’m trying to sell more copies. All money we get goes into an account, and when it gets big enough — we’re a little over halfway there — the actors and technicians, who all worked for deferred money, get paid.

No, you can’t take it as a tax deduction, but I think it’s worth 20 bucks. So does the legendary Tim Ferrante of Videoscope magazine, whose three-star review of in the spring 2002 issue said, among other things, “In the rough-and-tumble world of low-budget movies, seldom do we see filmmakers beat the overwhelming odds and produce something watchable. Amazingly, Cafe Purgatory managed to get enough of a toehold to keep me interested without once fast-forwarding. And that is one hell of an achievement!”

He goes on to compare it to the old TV show One Step Beyond (which, probably not surprisingly, was one of my favorites as a kid) , and then concludes with, “If you want to see how an invisible budget blends with intelligent writing and some pretty smart filmmaking, you need look no further than Cafe Purgatory.”

I know in these challenging times not a lot of us have an extra couple of frogskins threatening to burst into flame in our wallets, but I’d appreciate your considering an investment in a copy of Cafe Purgatory, especially if you’re into the unusual and the speculative, you wonder about faith and the afterlife — or you just want to see what the heroic young star of The Slime
People
looks like 40 years later. Check it out in the “special offer” section of this website.