Death loomed large and came as near as it dared, at least this time around, taking admired colleagues like Something Weird's Mike Vraney, my uncle Jimmy, our little girl Snooper, and two particularly wonderful friends I already dearly miss, Michael Lennick and Mark Miller. For all that, it still could have been worse: another of my friends made a fortunately unsuccessful suicide attempt this year. This is a different sort of death, but I unfriended someone on Facebook just the other day, someone I've cared about, someone whose life I once helped to save, because he crossed a line in his self-destructive behavior that I could no longer endorse with my continued attention and implicit support. Life is just too precious now to see it wasted and ridiculed. Additionally, several friends of mine lost their parents this year, my close friend Steve Bissette losing both his mother and father within a one-month period. And then there were all the deaths of people who have been inspirational to me and you and others like us, in some cases for the whole of our lives; I remember at some point feeling that we were losing more than I thought were left after all the losses we suffered last year. The wisdom that comes down to us from all this loss should be clear: life is precious and we must make the most of it.
Donna and I published only two issues of VIDEO WATCHDOG this year, making this a bad year for personal income. Some outlets that owe us money started spreading the rumor among our readers that we'd closed up shop, perhaps so they wouldn't feel badly about not paying their bills when we might need the money most. There was also the agony of creating the VIDEO WATCHDOG Digital Archive - a task in which I and others participated, but in a small way compared with Donna, whose masterpiece it is - and this is where we begin to see and appreciate the other side of 2014. The VW Digital Archive is our second Everest, after the Bava book. It is an immense achievement that, we well know, not everybody is going to be able to appreciate right away because it's too ahead of the curve. That said, we've received some marvelous emails and accolades that Donna will be posting as part of her Digital Dog blog.
Though I was deprived for much of this year of my primary platform as a VW critic, this year was not without its professional accomplishments. The major one was the ALAIN ROBBE-GRILLET box set from the BFI, to which I contributed five audio commentaries. I also contributed an essay to Arrow Films' THE HOUSE OF USHER and a commentary to their PIT AND THE PENDULUM, marking my advent into representing the work of two of my principal heroes: Roger Corman and Vincent Price. I also paid homage to Vincent with a commentary for Arrow's DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN and recorded an audio commentary for one of my favorite films, Georges Franju's EYES WITHOUT A FACE, which will be released in March 2015 by the BFI. In addition to some reissued Mario Bava commentaries I did - THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, RABID DOGS - I recorded my first Bava commentary re-recording/update for THE WHIP AND THE BODY (forthcoming from Odeon Entertainment in the UK) and a brand-new commentary for the Kino/Scorpion Blu-ray of PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES. Furthermore, I got to co-produce a video interview with actress Edith Scob for the EYES WITHOUT A FACE set, and I'm credited as an Associate Producer of Elijah Drenner's documentary THAT GUY DICK MILLER. I might even be forgetting a thing or two.
Indeed I did: 56 Video WatchBlog postings! Not quite as many as in 2013 (62 postings), but it makes this blog anything but moribund.
All in all, not bad for a guy in Ohio who barely left his house.
Other highlights of the year: Finally finishing my long in-the-works novel THE ONLY CRIMINAL. Receiving a handwritten letter from Steve Ditko. Spending my birthday weekend with friends at Wonderfest, where my beautiful friend Danya made me all emotional by reading aloud to our group of friends a poem she'd written about me and our friendship. My mother-in-law's miraculous recovery from a briefly fatal heart attack. Getting Larry Blamire to become a guest columnist for VIDEO WATCHDOG. Donna's and my 40th wedding anniversary on December 23.
Next year promises still more good things.
To anyone and everyone who continues to keep tabs on this old blog and its new tricks - you have my abiding appreciation and thanks. Here's to a happy, healthy and productive 2015 for us all!