Saturday, September 09, 2006

Big Monkey Hugs

No, it's not Kathy Burns at home with Kogar! It's Margo Johns being terrorized by someone in George Barrows' ape suit in KONGA.

If you're one of the many who faithfully click your links to this page daily, my apologies for a mostly unproductive week here at Video WatchBlog. If I didn't already have a review of THE MUMMY'S REVENGE on file, this would have been my first no-show week in this blog's history. A new issue of VIDEO WATCHDOG (#127) is now in progress, so my energies have been in demand elsewhere. In addition to selecting and editing the next issue's contents, I was finally able to kick the butt of that difficult Del Tenney article I mentioned previously; I hope you'll enjoy reading it. I also spent some time yesterday updating the Bava book blog -- By Popular Demand, no less -- so if that's something that interests you (and why wouldn't it be?), you can pop over there for the latest news.

At the risk of turning this into a Special Occasions blog, I want to acknowledge that today, September 9th, is the 50th wedding anniversary of two of my favorite people, Bob & Kathy Burns, and it's also the (cough, cough) birthday of just about the only person I ever speak to by telephone anymore, VW cover artist extraordinaire Charlie Largent. Bob and Kathy have never met Charlie, but the three of them have something significant in common besides being my friends. For some reason, nothing makes them happier than the sight of a Big Monkey. So the above scene from Herman Cohen's shocker KONGA (1961) is my shameless dancing bear of an attempt to delight them all in one swell foop. Hopefully, the image won't prove too frightening to the small fry and little nippers in my audience.

Charlie Largent has designed and illustrated most VIDEO WATCHDOG covers since #84 -- that's over 40 issues ago! -- and has contributed greatly to the look of MARIO BAVA - ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK. We don't know what we'd do without him. Charlie also co-authored the Roger Corman bio comedy script THE MAN WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES with me, which continues its quest for financing, and we're hopeful of collaborating on other scripts when time allows. Charlie's a fine artist and a good friend, the kind who can always be counted on for a laugh, even when it's one o'clock in the morning, my time -- which, in my world, is a precious thing. So Feliz CumpleaƱos, Carlos!

Kathy and Bob Burns' 2005 Christmas card photo, showing them with the original King Kong armature on the set of Peter Jackson's KING KONG.

Not to upstage Charlie's birthday, which I hope he'll be celebrating in style, but I'm feeling especially sentimental about Bob and Kathy's anniversary. I haven't known them very long, but when I first read Bob's book IT CAME FROM BOB'S BASEMENT, my immediate reaction was, "Why don't I know this man?" I took steps to correct this with an e-mail, and we've been able to spend time together now at two Wonderfests. Upon meeting Bob and Kathy, I had the feeling that I was with family, and the longer I've known them and seen how other people interact with them, I believe most people feel the same way. Bob and Kathy's marriage, therefore, has been an invaluable gift to fandom -- for as long as they've been attending conventions and turning their house into the biggest Halloween attraction on the west coast, they've been its happiest glow. No wonder that they've been inducted into the Rondo Awards' Monster Kid Hall of Fame. No wonder Kathy Burns was presented with a special award at Wonderfest last May... just for being Kathy Burns.

They are wonderful individuals and a cute couple but, more importantly, they're a team. This isn't true of every couple, however durable, but it's true of them -- and it's true of Donna and me, so their example gives us hope. Fifty years is a long time but, as I know after 31 years of marriage, it's also just the blink of an eye. My fondest wish is that Donna and I can make it to our 50th anniversary in 2024 and beyond; today, Bob and Kathy are showing us -- showing all of us -- that it's not only possible, but life's sweetest pleasure for those who pursue it. I'm grateful and encouraged.

Big monkeys for everybody!

By way of postscript, the If Charlie Parker Was A Gunslinger blog alerts us all to another golden anniversary taking place today. Fifty years ago tonight, Elvis Presley made his first-ever appearance on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW.

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