Hot off the presses: my anthology is now available as an eBook!
Thanks for your support!
Hot off the presses: my anthology is now available as an eBook!
Thanks for your support!
My anthology won the 2017 Best Book Award for Fiction: Short Story!
Here’s the award link:
And here’s the Press Release link:
Of course I need to thank Joyce Combs, my editor, for her sharp eye and editorial skills. To Pam Headrick for her formatting sorcery. There’s no other word for such witchery. And Lon Kirschner—for his incredible cover artistry! I couldn’t have done any of this without them! Thank you all so damned much!
I have to thank the American Book Fest! Their readers and judges! Thank you so much! I am truly honored and stunned! Mr. Jeffery Keen! Thank you! You were so quick and timely with all of our correspondence and responses to my questions, as well! I am truly honored and stunned!
Second time’s the charm?
Wendy and I tried to record this interview a week ago (the last interview that never happened…), but ran into…let’s just call it “doppelgänger issues”…and the interview was lost….
But yesterday, all things fell into place! The irony of it all was that this interview was originally scheduled for yesterday‘s date, but Wendy had moved it to the previous week (and there’s more about this in the podcast, above).
Insert doppelgänger issues.
Here we are now.
Sorry about the occasional feedback issues, but it is technology.
Wendy is so charming, gracious, and fun! Thank you, Wendy, for two fun interviews, thanks for having me, and I hope we do some more of these! Thank you, listeners, for listening! And thanks to Matt, for his excellent production efforts!
Things are not always as they seem….
Okay, after nigh 40 years, I have finally brought together the best of my short stories into a single collection! Forty-five of them! As I’ve teased…here is the cover to my new book, Do The Dead Dream?!
Isn’t this just creepy?!
I will talk more about this cover in another post, its creation, what I absolutely LOVE about it, but I am floored by Lon Kirschner’s work, and in total awe of this guy’s abilities! I am still working on the back cover, am having the entire manuscript formatted, but I am looking to release Do The Dead Dream? at the end of this month!
Damn, I can hardly believe it, but this cover kills!
Now, since this is my “reality check” blog, I’m also going to mention about an interview that got, um, derailed a bit. In a most weird and peculiar way….
It seems that there are things around this book that are funny and weird that are starting to happen, and one of them was a telephonic interview with Wendy Garrett this past Wednesday, August 30th. It was a recorded session to be released on the Empower Radio website, under Wendy Garrett’s Conscious Living segment. But we only got about 20 or so minutes into it before it crashed!
What had happened was that Wendy and I had been talking and joking about how a doppelgänger of hers had been sighted by a neighbor earlier in the week, and she’d run across this neighbor as she’d been walking her dogs. The neighbor had exclaimed that s/he’d just past her, walking at the same clip, but with no dogs. So we were joking around with that, and Wendy had made a comment about how sad it must be for her doppelgänger, because she had no dogs! As were laughing about it, Wendy cut out for a few moments. I waited for her to come back, which she did, she she still wasn’t a solid signal, and her producer came on, saying she’d cut ou—
Then I’d lost them both.
I hung out for a couple of minutes, then decided to try to contact her through both Twitter and Facebook. We did get back with each other. I then posted a funny post, meant for her doppelgänger.
Well, the long and the short of it was that Wendy told me that they’d experienced some weird (and peculiar!) technical difficulties that they could not figure out, and that she’d have to get hold of me later to complete this interview. Then this morning I see a comment from Wendy on Facebook that we should call our interview “An Interview of the Weird and the Peculiar“!
Heck, yeah, I’m good with that!
So, there you have it! As long as Wendy does not continue to diss her doppelgänger, stay tuned for our Interview of the Weird and the Peculiar!
As to the anthology, I’m expecting an end of September/beginning of October release, through IngramSpark (ISBN 978-0-692-94480-6). I’m also looking to give a Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer presentation in the Denver, Colorado area in October, about “The Paranormal and You,” so I hope to see some of you there!
Well, this is kinda funny.
This past weekend I’d posted about the UFO Watchtower, a place I’d visited about once a year since 2005, then hadn’t been to for a couple years. I’d talked of trying to make my way down there this year, for certain. Well, no sooner had I posted that post, when my wife says, “Do you wanna go today?”
I’d never even considered it, and had, in fact, been looking to head down there in a couple weeks.
I looked outside.
Mow the lawn and yard work, standard weekend chores…or a fun, spontaneous road trip?
We day-packed the car, made our hotel reservation, and sped out about an hour-and-a-half later.
There’s nothing like a road trip…heading out on the open road, leaving the cares and chores of everyday life for asphalt (or concrete) and rolling scenery. It was a gorgeous Saturday. Blue, sunny skies, mid-to-upper eighties. We only ran into one glitch, with a temporary delay just south of Colorado City. A pickup truck and it’s camper had flipped and gone off the Interstate. As we’d approached, I’d seen the Flight-for-Life chopper heading north, low, off to the right of us. The accident had happened before we’d driven by, so we didn’t have much of a delay. Was a heck of an accident, but, so far, both people have survived. The truck ended up pointing north, but was on the southbound side of the Interstate. Must have been quite the flip. Was sad to see so many personal effects scattered about, like a cat carrier (what happened to the cat?), clothes, and any of the standard items people take with them on vacation, spread out alongside the road. We wish them well.
It did take us a little over 3 hours to get to the Alamosa area. We had to eat, but the restaurant we frequented while there, Dos Rios,
had been bought out and renamed, so we went to Calvillos, instead. We’d been there before, and the food was great. The maître d’ was extremely attentive.
Of course, I had to have the “UFO Enchiladas.”
We then backtracked and took a left on Highway 17, up to the UFO Watchtower.
Well, though it’d been a few years, turns out not much had changed. We did find that the green alien sign that had been on the right side of Highway 17 was no longer there. Those (Judy Messoline, owner and operator of The UFO Watchtower, had later told us), had been removed at the behest of the Colorado DOT. It had all been part of the Lady Bird Johnson Beautify America “act” years ago. No advertising billboards in non-industrial areas—even though Judy owns the land upon which said billboards resided. Apparently when land has a road bisecting it, you cannot put up any signs that advertise and tell drivers to “turn here.” Okay, I get that. This stretch of Highway 17 isn’t busy, so drivers can (and probably do) simply stop and backup to see the signs at her entrance. Makes for a good story….
Anyway, the road to turn left on, off of Highway 17 into the Watchtower, indeed remains a dirt road. Once off Highway 17, Judy has her little alien directional signs to the Watchtower, and most things there remain the same. The Garden is much more packed with visitor trinkets. Once section was of particular note, given I’m a writer: there were tons of pens and pencils jammed into the earth (I’d meant to take a picture of that, but got sidetracked, so never did…).
Judy isn’t smoking as much anymore, and, in fact, never lit one up once, while we were there. She says she no longer smokes as much, and is actually using e-cigarettes now. But her patio table and chairs remain outside, under the Watchtower’s mesh platform, and she still has several dogs, one of which was there when we’d last visited. Another she’d lost to an illness, if I remember right. Had a couple new ones.
And, Judy remains as friendly and outgoing as ever!
Judy’s gift shop is a little more sparse. She no longer has her horses or cattle. Too expensive to care for, et cetera, so she had to let them go to someone who could give them adequate care and attention. All I could think was the same applied to her gift shop. Things are just more expensive now, is all. She showed me some new additions to her notebook on strange incidents, like how one visitor took pictures of the The Garden, her pictures had shown orbs in them…her camera had malfunctioned (actually stopped working)…and when she’d returned home, The Garden pictures had disappeared from her camera. Okay. As you can see, below, my picture remained…and no orbs. Inneresting, as my Man With No Name character would say….
Another funny thing happened: while as I was setting up my books for consignment in Judy’s gift shop, from behind me I heard someone hail me by name. I turn around, and it’s Ron Cree, a writer friend of mine. Of all places to meet someone who actually knows me…it’s usually my wife who runs into people she knows, since she was essentially raised in Colorado (an early transplant)! I haven’t seen Ron in some two years, since the last writer’s conference I’d attended (and he mentioned he hadn’t seen me at the last one). He and his friend had been on a road trip, and were heading north. So we chatted a bit, took some pictures, and off they returned to their road trip. On his way out, Ron had gone back to his car to fetch something for The Garden. On his return he called to me to show me what he thought would be perfect for him to leave as a “Garden gift”: a writer’s conference pen. We both chuckled, and he stuck it in the ground, by one of the so-called “vortex centers.” Was good seeing ya, Ron! He mentioned he’d just sent his next novel manuscript to his agent. Be on the look-out for that. He writes for young adults, but mostly 30-something women seem to like reading his work.
It was cool finally “delivering” on my promise to give Judy a copy of ERO…and to leave a few (signed!) copies behind for
consignment, and some ERO business cards. I also left copies of Sleepwalkers and The Uninvited. Be interesting to see how they do, especially given her upcoming UFO Conference, July 26th and 27th. One thing we forgot to do was sign in at the gift shop’s register, dang it.
As we hung out at the watchtower, I was up on the platform, just hanging out, when I see this “interesting” bird fly low, over the tops of the brush, some distance out from us. I grab my binoculars, and home in on it…and find a whole parliament of ground owls! I counted seven! And they were so funny, the lot of them just hanging out at this one location, just messing around with each other, hopping on and of brush, branches, and each other! So, we figured, they must have been young ones. One of them seemed larger, probably the mom. We didn’t have any “long lenses,” just our little digital camera, which took far better pictures than I’d expected,given the distance, even if blurry. But, maybe the photos were blurry for a reason? Were they really ground owls…or “screen memories”…memory images (or photographs…?) of aliens replaced by something familiar or perhaps friendly (owls or deer are typical screen memories of aliens). We watched them for quite a while, it was the coolest thing!
But, alas, no UFO sightings.
We had a great time talking with Judy, and a couple other visitors who stopped by while we were there, but come around 7 p.m., she had to part company.
We then drove to Monte Vista, to The Best Western Movie Manor hotel we always stay at. The rooms are named after movie stars, and we stayed in room 102, this time, the “Paul Newman” room. The movies were Dragon 2 and Transformers. From within the hotel rooms, you can only see one of the screens, and the one we could watch was Dragon 2. Didn’t do anything for me, so only watched part of it before calling it a night. That didn’t keep us from getting some popcorn and (for me) a hotdog, though. This really is a unique hotel…there’s no other like it that I’m aware of in the US, anyway. Do check it out if you can! You can call ahead to see what movies are playing, and if you want to see the other screen, you can hop in your car and drive in to the other one, for free. We love drive-ins, and do try to make at least one drive-in a summer. When we had our dog, Mac, and our truck (and the local drive-in that is now a Wal-Mart…), we used to back into the drive-in slot, and all pile into the truck bed, blankets and sleeping bags and watch in the open air! So, try to support you local drive-ins, if you can!
So, the trip was fun, not much had changed, and it was good seeing Judy (and Ron!) again. If you’re ever “in the neighborhood, do make a trip down to Hooper-way, and tell them we sent ya!
By the way, as I post this, it is the 67th anniversary of the Roswell Incident, July 1-4, 1947. Again, I hadn’t planned this. Funny how it all happened, though. Synchronicity.
Well, the mission is similar in scope to the likes of Area 51 or the Marfa Lights Viewing Area. Located in Saguache County, Colorado, in the heart of the San Luis Valley—where all the “weird shit” one hears about in Colorado originates (e.g., cattle mutilation, UFO sightings)—is this interesting little destination run by Judy Messoline, called the UFO Watchtower.
Near as I can tell, my wife and I made our first excursion there back in July 23, 2005, the same year Judy’s book, That Crazy Lady Down The Road, came out. I forgot about how or when I’d first been made aware of the Watchtower, but once I’d heard about it—and the Best Western Movie Manor hotel, with its own drive-in theater you can watch and listen to from your hotel room—I had to go there.
Alamosa, Colorado is located about 3 hours southwest of Colorado Springs, west of the Great Sand Dunes National Monument (also a great place to visit!). When you hit the town of Alamosa (if you take the I-25/Highway 160 route), you take a right on Highway 17, and head north. About 22 1/2 miles later, just north of Hooper, Colorado, you might see (if it’s still there), off on the right, after you past the Colorado Gators Reptile Park (I told you, this is an interesting place, didn’t I?), a little green alien waving at you (I can’t remember if we’d been told the little guy had been stolen or not, but, in any event, it used to be there…). A half-mile later, you’ll take that left (on our first trip there, my wife had played the X-Files soundtrack, as we pulled up to the place; it was surprisingly—or not so surprisingly—apropos to the mood!). You’ll be able to see the Watchtower from the road at that point. Out in the middle of your average, everyday Colorado plains. You’ll then follow a side road (I think it was a dirt road when we last went) around to the right, veering away from the campground entrance off on the left, and end up in the little dirt parking lot. If Judy’s not immediately there, she’ll eventually catch up, maybe like she did with us, in her golf cart, with her “little friend.”
Judy runs this little “bubble” gift shop hut, in which she sells all manner of book, posters, and fun “alien and paranormal stuff.” It’s beneath the UFO Watchtower, and the dome-shaped structure fits perfectly in-line with the location’s mission: to promote and observe extraterrestrial phenomena.
And hold stimulation conversations on the patio, beneath the Watchtower.
Along with Judy’s campground is a bed & breakfast, which should have already begun taking reservations (see site). In front of her watchtower is a place, called “The Garden,” which she built in 2002 (again, see the site, and click on “The Garden” link under the “Must See Tower Links”; she has a lot going on at her website, so check it out). The Garden, we are told, is the center of a cosmic vortex…but I have never seen this vortex that others have claimed to see. That’s cool. We all have our superpowers.
Entry to the Watchtower used to be free, with a requested donation (which we always paid), but I now see that she charges a mandatory $2 to enter. Judy (when not doing her chores and all) usually sits out there with any guests and shoots the breeze, as she smokes her cigarettes, her dogs milling about. In the past, she’d occasionally put out cookies or some kind of munchies. She’s very easy to get along with and will chat with you about near anything. I think on our last trip down there, a fiddlist friend of hers, from up Denver way, had her instrument out and played a tune or two for us—then later showed me some basic violin handling. It was fun…sitting out on the plains during that summer, listening to our own private, little concert, then getting a private, mini-violin lesson!
It was also on our first trip there, back in 2005, after we’d left the Watchtower, that we stopped at a couple of locations, in Hooper,
and asked around about any strange activity people might have seen. Besides the personal interest in things-paranormal, I was getting ready to begin work on my novel, ERO, so I’d come down here to do what UFO research I could, in my own “backyard,” so to speak. And, surprisingly (or not so surprisingly), we found everyone we talked to open and eager to share their stories of seeing strange things in the San Luis Valley skies. The strangest of these was from one lady who told us of a great-great-grandmother who’d seen a hovering craft flying around over Blanca Peak, to the east of Hooper. It had been above the mountain…then descended down and into the top of it.
Yes, great-great-grandmother. Who’d seen this in the late 1800’s.
Over the next five or so years, we’d gone back to the Watchtower about once a year, and I’d given Judy progress reports on how my UFO novel had been coming along. We had some interesting conversations, about things she’d seen, things others had seen. UFO speculation. Conspiracy theories. You know the drill. She showed me some cool pictures, books, and other things in her gift shop, and I bought an item or two. It has been several years since those annual pilgrimages, and with this year, we hope to make another. I’ve sent Judy a copy of ERO, but have only just done so (am kinda embarrassed I hadn’t earlier—I thought I had, but it had just gotten lost in all the “paperwork” of life…). Be interesting to talk with her about it, once she’s read it….
Now, every year, for I don’t know how long, Judy also hosts a UFO Conference. This year’s conference is July 26th and 27th. On her site is a brochure that can be checked out. The hyperlink is cute. Or, again, check out her Facebook link. She also hosts annual UFO Watches,and has had members of MUFON in attendance.
As mentioned, Judy has also written a book. It’s about her life and the creation of the UFO Watchtower. She discusses what brought her down to the Hooper area, the creation of the watchtower and its “garden,” and of course, aliens abductees, and sightings. I’d read it years ago, and made for interesting reading. Some of the info in there makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, even if you’ve read it elsewhere. It all still makes you think, and will make for great conversation fodder!
Judy and her Watchtower have even been featured on the Travel Channel (2011), with Alejandro Rojas, as well as other interviews. She seems very busy, and in demand, for having been pegged…”That crazy lady down the road….”
Check out Judy’s Facebook page. She may also be contacted at 719/378-2296, or by e-mail, at ufowatchtower “at” yahoo.com.
Paul Gallagher (aka, “Mr. Twilight Zone”) and Wendy Brydge (aka, “Gal Friday”) are two bloggers who explore the works of Rod Serling and his effect upon the Human Condition, with sometimes poignant, often insightful clarity, through their sites, Shadow & Substance and Seeker of Truth. I met them both through Twitter, discovered their blogs, and enjoy their passionate discourse. They have great insight into many aspects of The Twilight Zone, and are quite the enjoyable conversationalists. I frequently reblog their Twilight Zone posts. This is probably my longest interview yet (well, it is actually two interviews in one), but it was great fun working with the both of them, and in getting to know them better. I hope you feel the same! Thanks to Wendy for creating a special work of art just for this post (the “Five in the Fifth” graphic, above). Today, September 15th, is also the 52nd anniversary of the Twilight Zone episode, “Two,” this interview is posted today in honor of that.
Paul and Wendy, could you give us a short bio on yourselves?
Wendy: I’m a freelance commission artist, born, raised, and living in Northern Ontario, Canada. This would explain all of those unnecessary “u”s in my writing! I’m an avid reader (at least I enjoy reading when I have the time), and I’m known for taming the native wildlife: chipmunks, squirrels, a gaggle of chickadees, and a crossfox. I am the self-proclaimed “Seeker of Truth.” Research is my middle name—I study a little bit of everything. I wear my faith as a Christian proudly, often highlighting it through my art. Vampires are my weakness—books, films, lore, history—and when I’m not painting, I’m writing. Or “Gal Fridaying” for Paul!
Paul: I’m in the freelance business as well, albeit on the writing side of things. I’ve had articles appear in most major newspapers and on many websites. I also have a full-time job as an editor for a large non-profit organization in Washington, D.C.—one that has nothing to do with Rod Serling! I’ve lived in the D.C. area all my life and enjoy writing about a variety of topics: history (American Civil War history in particular), films, books, movies and music, both rock and classical. Besides Serling, I have a passion for the music of the Beatles and the films of Alfred Hitchcock, but I’m crazy about most “classic rock” and almost anything from Hollywood’s golden age.
Quite the range and reach, you two! When and how did you both become aware of Rod Serling and/or his work?
Wendy: I can remember watching the Twilight Zone (TZ) when I was very young. My dad’s always been a bit of a fan. He remembered watching it with my grandpa when he was a kid. I wasn’t familiar with any of Serling’s other work until I met Paul. I’m definitely not the über fan that he is, but talking to Paul and learning more about the broad scope of Serling’s work has given me a greater appreciation for Serling, the writer. TZ may be his claim to fame, but everything he touched, he infused with a little piece of his soul. The man was one hell of a writer.
Paul: It was the same for me, though for me the parent who shared my interest in fantasy and science fiction was my mother. I remember discovering TZ in reruns with my brother, who initially was the big fan in the family. He was the one who first had a copy of Marc Scott Zicree’s The Twilight Zone Companion, which I poured through all the time. The first TZ I ever saw was “Five Characters in Search of an Exit”—I can still picture seeing it on the TV at my grandparents’ house—and I was in awe of this weird, wonderful series. It didn’t look like anything else on TV. It still doesn’t.
What drew you both to the Twilight Zone?
Wendy: I don’t know what it is exactly that makes TZ so appealing. I love that it’s in black and white, that just adds a classic creepiness to every episode, and for the most part the picture is so crisp and sharp. The filming was beautiful (and I happen to be a huge fan of the video-taped episodes). My favourite aspect of the show though is that many of the episodes have a great moral lesson in them. It’s not just empty entertainment. It’s stories about people and how they deal with certain situations and circumstances. And while many of the stories could have a similar theme, they were all so very different. You can’t get bored watching. There is much to be learned from this series. The writing was brilliant. Another thing I like is that there’s a variety of endings. There are endings which are designed to make you think (“The Howling Man” and “The Gift”), endings that deliver straight up justice (“Deaths-Head Revisited” and “The Masks”), and there are beautiful, happy endings, too (“The Hunt” and “Night of the Meek”). Serling knew the recipe for creating a show with longevity.
Paul: I agree. The very fact that we’re sitting here talking about it, fifty years after it first aired, is a testament to just how timeless it really is. And it owes a great deal to what Wendy just highlighted—the look of the show, that striking black-and-white photography, and the feature-film quality that is stamped on every episode. Television, then as now, has always been plagued by bean-counters who just want everything done as cheaply as possible, and you can see the result: the vast wasteland that television is rightly accused of being. Serling, though, saw TV’s potential. He once said he wanted to “prove that television can be both commercial and worthwhile.” And God bless him, he fought for it. It shortened his life, it honestly did, but what a rich legacy he left behind. A series for the storyteller, as he said right from the start. And not just any stories, but stories that fired the imagination, and yes, often taught a moral lesson. And if that lesson pricked our conscience, if he had to remind us of the evils of racism or the insanity of the nuclear age, he didn’t flinch. He was fast, prolific, dedicated to quality, and smart enough to employ some of the best people in the business, both in front of and behind the camera. And because people loved and respected him, they really stepped up their game. The result is one of the most memorable shows of all time.
Both your sites have been featured on Word Press’s Freshly Pressed. Your sites are growing in followers. To what do you attribute such success? Why do you think your sites attract such attention and growing followships?
Wendy: I think both Paul and I create very high quality content. We take great care in making sure our posts are error free and smooth reading. And the one thing we both have in common—and what I attribute our growing success to—is passion. There are a lot of great writers out there, but they lack passion in their writing. And a lack of passion can make what you write, no matter how well written, boring. You have to get people excited for what you’re talking about, whether they like the topic or not. If the passion you have for a given subject shines through in what you write, the reader will be drawn in and want to read more. If you’re excited, they’ll be excited. It’s contagious. Also, my blog is not limited to just one topic, I write about anything and everything, from TZ to Poe to painting. My reader base is a wide one, bringing in people from all walks of life.
Paul: Exactly. There’s something about writing about Serling’s work—and despite the fact that TZ takes up most of my oxygen, I do highlight his work throughout his career—that makes you want to do high-quality work. When I sat down to write my post for “Eye of the Beholder” (my personal favorite), I didn’t just tear off a few quick thoughts. I thought, “My God, this was one of Serling’s masterpieces. I owe him my very best work.” That’s my motto on my Twitter page, which preceded the blog by a good nine months. I’m scrupulous about quality. Each quote has to be accurate and interesting. Each fact has to be right. And each blog post has to shine. Serling once said that he wasn’t interested in what anyone would call second-best, and I wholeheartedly agree. That’s why I’m so fortunate to have Wendy assisting me. She’s just as dedicated as I am to making everything as perfect as it can be.
How’d you two meet?
Wendy: William Windom introduced us. No, I’m serious! I found Paul on Twitter one day while searching for anything TZ related. He had written a tweet about William Windom’s roles in TZ/Night Gallery (NG). Now, I wasn’t familiar with NG, and ironically, I’m not a fan of “Five Characters In Search of An Exit,” but I am a fan of “Murder, She Wrote,” which is how I was most familiar with Windom. I thought a TZ quote page was great, so I followed Paul, and replied to his tweet, mentioning that Windom would eventually become my favourite character, Dr. Seth Hazlitt, on “Murder, She Wrote.” Paul followed back, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Paul: Yes, a toast to Dr. Hazlitt! I had been doing the Twitter page for about a year and half at that point, and suddenly this very pretty girl followed me. What got me, though, was all these clever replies she’d come up with. Most people don’t interact with me much, if at all, and those who do usually don’t have anything all that interesting to say, but Wendy was very witty, very fast, and had a sense of humor that was just like mine. And she kept coming up with these amazing “Follow Friday” tweets for me! Becoming friends with her was very easy. We just clicked from the word “go.”
I’m also a fan of “Murder, She Wrote,” and, since you mentioned William Windom, I used to watch this show as a kid, called “My World and Welcome to It” (yes, I’ve been around a while…). It only lasted one season, but I loved that show.
Paul also writes about The Night Gallery (and you, Wendy, help him with the images), another series Mr. Serling designed. How do you both contrast the two?
Wendy: While I myself haven’t done any writing about Night Gallery, and I haven’t seen many of the episodes, what stands out most for me between the two is Serling’s direct involvement, or lack thereof. Every episode of TZ has Serling’s magic touch. Even the not so great episodes are still better than 95% of what’s on TV today. He had much more control over the content and execution of Twilight Zone than he ever did with Night Gallery, and it’s reflected in the finished product. Now, we can’t really do a direct comparison of the two shows, they aren’t the same beast, nor are they supposed to be. Night Gallery is a bit darker, more horror than suspense. And it lacks the subtle beauty of TZ. I can only comment on what I’ve seen, but all in all, NG comes across as kind of crude compared to TZ. Less refined, less satisfying overall. I don’t think I could call myself a fan of Night Gallery. There’s just not enough Serling in this series to make it as exceptional as TZ.
Paul: I’m a fan of Night Gallery, but I agree with Wendy’s assessment. There’s no question that TZ was the better show, and yes, it was because Serling was the executive producer. When it came to Night Gallery, he passed on this time-consuming job, but still thought that they’d defer to him on major decisions. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. They wanted his name, but not his advice—a huge mistake. And rather than have one story per episode, Night Gallery sometimes had as many as four, and some of them were these odd little sketch comedy pieces that producer Jack Laird loved, and Serling hated. However, the series can’t be written off entirely. They produced many fine segments, including Serling’s “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar” and some other very entertaining stories. And it was surprisingly influential. Director Guillermo del Toro, for example, watched the series as a child and gives Night Gallery a lot of credit for inspiring his interest in horror. And there are two episodes with Vincent Price! What more could you want?
Vincent Price, another wonderfully fun actor to watch!
Wendy, you also write about the Twilight Zone, but as Paul’s much lauded “Gal Friday,” could you also describe how you contribute to his posts?
Wendy: Truth be told, I ghost write all of Paul’s posts, then he just signs his name to them and publishes them on his blog. No, no. I’m just kidding. As Paul’s Gal Friday, I’m basically here for whatever he might need. In the behind the scenes department, he runs ideas by me, or we brainstorm ideas together. Sometimes I’ll go over his early drafts for a piece and offer my opinion on the direction it’s taking. I make recommendations and suggestions, and eventually Paul places the finished piece in my capable hands for my eagle-eye editing. No post is published until I’ve seen it and it receives my “GF Stamp of Approval.” And of course I provide Paul with photos for his posts, as he so kindly credits me with a tag line at the end of each. I’m lucky enough to have a complete set of TZ DVDs, so when there’s a new blog post in the works, I go through the relevant episodes, selecting shots that I think look good, save them, format them, and send them along to Paul, who chooses the ones that work best for the post. I think I do a little bit of everything!
Paul: No kidding! It’s hard to overestimate Wendy’s influence. Before she came along, I was writing some very good posts, but the blog didn’t take off until I began to involve her more and more in their preparation. I look back at some of my early posts, and I just cringe: I would put no pictures, no artwork of any kind! Yes, I made sure the posts were well-written, but they lacked any presentation. Having a best friend who’s an artist par excellence is a huge benefit. And, to my utter delight, she’s a terrific editor, too. She has an eagle eye for typos, she’s very meticulous, very organized, and always has these terrific suggestions. The high-quality screen grabs alone have made a major difference. Rather than just grabbing some poor-quality image off the web, I can say, “I’m planning a post on ‘Night of the Meek.’ Can you give me a few pics?” And Wendy will come back with three dozen or more high-quality images. You know what that means? I can select just the right pic, and put it in just the right spot. That’s a big, big help. I could not do the blog without her. Or I could, but it would be markedly inferior!
What do you think prepared you for your roles in “administering” to the Twilight Zone/Night Gallery legacies? Have you both always had an interest in the Human Condition?
Wendy: Passion, a keen interest in observing, and an overwhelming desire for understanding. I have always been interested in the Human Condition, although I don’t believe I ever really thought about it specifically. But I don’t believe you can be a true TZ fan and not have an interest in it.
Paul: Very true. So much of Serling’s work endures, I believe, because of this palpable interest in, yes, the Human Condition. Think of how many episodes of TZ centered on the forgotten people on life’s periphery: washed-up boxers, innocent prisoners, alcoholic gunmen, sidewalk pitchmen. Ordinary men and women just trying to make their way through life and not get knocked down permanently. And Serling reached out and highlighted their stories. He poked our consciences and needled our sense of justice. I don’t know what, if anything, prepared me for this (though my wonderful parents certainly strove to instill a firm sense of right and wrong in me), but I can tell you that something in Serling’s work has always stirred me deeply. And the more I delve into his writing, the more impressed I am with it, the more touched I am. And therefore the more keen I am on sharing his vision, which I try to do in my own modest way.
Do you both have any far-ranging goals you’d like to share, whether about yourselves or your Serling legacy efforts? We’ve joked about this in tweets, but, might there be a book in the offing…?
Paul: Yes, I’ve had a book in mind for a long time now. One that won’t just be an episode guide, as many previous books have been, but that will explore his work in greater depth by examining the themes that surface time and again, from loneliness to fear of the unknown. At this point, it’s just in the planning stages, but I can tell you that when it appears, it will be a world-class effort that will rely heavily on Wendy’s unique and irreplaceable talents. If I don’t even want to publish a blog post without her help, you can imagine how I feel about publishing a book without her—it’s unthinkable! The final volume will be very much a Paul-Wendy product.
Wendy: Ah, yes. “The Book.” Paul and I have enjoyed many discussions about this. I think I’m even more driven than he is to make this happen. He’s my best friend and this is one of his dreams. And he deserves to be recognized for the amazingly talented writer he is. His dedication is simply unparalleled. The amount of work that goes into his Twitter page and blog? He may do it for fun, and people might think it’s just a “hobby,” but I’ve seen what it takes to do all that Paul does. Make no mistake about it, it’s work. Enjoyable work, but work nonetheless. So my far-ranging goal is definitely to help Paul make this happen. There will be a book.
Do keep us posted on the book! I think we’d all love to see that!
Okay, I know we’ve all posted our favorite TZ/NG lists of episodes, but, right here, right now…name the first one that comes to mind, and why? It doesn’t have to be your “favorite,” per se, we’re just getting Freudian, here. :-]
Wendy: “The Hitchhiker”. It’s almost always the first TZ that comes to mind when someone brings up the series. It did make my top 25 list, but was at the bottom end. This episode has always sat funny with me. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it, and Inger Stevens is amazing as Nan, but just the whole idea of her running around, thinking that she’s okay, then finding out…uh, nope. Not okay at all. It’s not just a general creepiness that it causes, I think it kind of scares me a little. And that end narration of hers, the realization and acceptance of what happened…wow. It’s a spooky episode, and one that won’t leave your mind any time soon.
Paul: “The After Hours.” It’s one of my favorites, yes, but I selected it in one of my earlier blog posts as the episode that I would show someone who had never seen TZ before. Everything that made TZ a success is there: Serling’s writing, that beautiful black-and-white photography, world-class acting, inventive directing, a terrific musical score. It’s TZ in a nutshell—scary, perceptive, mysterious and thought-provoking. And, most of all, fun.
And now, for my Freudian analysis (our little group of TZ aficionados like to analyze our favorite TZ show choices): Wendy, you think you’re “ok,” but you’re uneasy, searching for something (the “truth”? ;-] )…and feel you’re on a surreal road trip in your personal quest for this Truth, but…you’re Not Alone. Initially this frightened you, but no longer! Paul, you’re tired of the staid “mannequins” of society and are trying to get them to see even a thimble of truth (note that both of you are well-suited to each other, here!)…what lies beyond the musty old attics of their parochial, retail-oriented mindsets! Limit me, will you! No, no, I’ll never go back!
How’d I do?
Wendy: Oh, you are spot on, Frank! Seriously! All in fun, but still very, very true! Freud himself couldn’t have analyzed me better! Hmm, Paul, are you my hitchhiker?!
Paul: I’m certainly “going your way”! Frank, that’s a very perceptive analysis. All in fun, yes, but I do get that feeling sometimes! I wonder, in fact, if that might have subconsciously motivated me to try and carry Serling’s message to a wider audience. Interesting to ponder!
Thank you! My office hours are 1 a.m. to 2 a.m…in the Twilight Zone….
And, in the spirit of the previous question, which episode—Twilight Zone or Night Gallery—most embodies or “fits” who you each are?
Wendy: Oh, good question! But a difficult one. After much consideration and thought, I’m going to say my favourite TZ episode, “The Howling Man.” My life is a constant search for the Truth (hence my blog name, “Seeker of Truth”) both in a religious and non religious way. This episode illustrates man’s struggle to fight lies with the truth. It’s something I do every day, in every aspect of my life. David Ellington represents our struggle, while Brother Jerome is the fighting spirit. I’m always searching for hope, and to me, that’s what this episode shows us. That even though we struggle and life isn’t easy, there is hope that it can be better. Brother Jerome did capture the Devil. It wasn’t easy, but he showed determination and perseverance. And in doing so, he helped more than just himself.
Paul: I don’t know if it embodies me, per se, but I’d say it’s a toss-up, or a tie, between “A Passage for Trumpet” and “The Changing of the Guard“. Both are what I like to call redemptive tales, which for me are the most satisfying episodes. I mean, I’m crazy about episodes like “Perchance to Dream” and “Shadow Play“, both of which are really just there to mess with our minds and give us a little scare, but I have a soft spot for the stories that take a character who thinks he’s a loser, who thinks he hasn’t made a difference, and then—through the magic of the Twilight Zone and Serling’s sensitive writing—learns that he matters, that he’s here for a reason, that things can be better. I want to pick those characters up and help them, so when I see Serling do it, it inspires me to want to do the same.
Huh, so much for my in-depth analysis….
It’s clear you both enjoy blogging. Wendy, I know you do commercial art (and a “fine” job you do at it, too, pardon the pun…), and Paul, I know you’re a writer and editor for non-profit, but are there other forms of expression: a) you’re already doing, and b) you’re not, but would like to do?
Paul: I have a great interest in film and its effect on our perceptions of right and wrong. I’ve been writing a book in my head on that topic for a long time. I’d also like to dive a little deeper into the films of Alfred Hitchcock, another great favorite of mine. I want to do the Serling book first, though, because it’s the one that most wants to come out. I’m also interested in writing screenplays, which hardly makes me unique, but I do have a strong interest in writing at least one story that makes it to the big screen. However, the most near-term “form of expression” I’d like to mention is the Twilight Zone podcast I’ll be doing with Wendy. I view it as the next logical step in my efforts to bring greater attention to Serling’s work and increase appreciation for it. I started with a Twitter page, added a blog, a Facebook page, and a Pinterest page. It’s a good time to start a podcast. And having Wendy as my co-host is key. She already helps me do my best work on the blog, and I’m convinced she’ll do the same for the podcast. We’ll drill down into specific episodes and just have some fun with it. I’m really excited about it!
Wendy: I’m also very excited for the podcast. I hope everyone is ready to hear the Boss and his Gal Friday banter back and forth! Right now art and writing are the only things I’m doing, but I’d really like to combine the two someday. Eventually I too would like to compile a book. I’m interested in so many different things, and I love books with a lot of pictures and tons of information. I’d like to do something maybe even a bit encyclopedic, combining art of all varieties, artists, writers, etc., all together in the same book. I wouldn’t exactly call this a “dream”, but it’s something that interests me. In the shorter term (and blog related, sorry!), in addition to our podcast, Paul and I are currently working on a joint blog post I’ll be featuring soon on Seeker of Truth. He’ll be my first (and only!) guest blogger! It combines TZ and art — my art, to be exact. Very excited to have Paul join in and do this with me!
What do you two like to read, are currently reading?
Wendy: As far as fiction goes, I very much enjoy supernatural-based series. Bring me a book about a vampire and I’ll read it! Anne Rice’s “Vampire Chronicles” were good, and my favourite author Kelley Armstrong’s “Women of the Otherworld” series (which sadly ended last year) was magnificent. I’m currently working my way through Laurell K. Hamilton’s “Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter” series (it’s a long one—more than 20 books), as well as reading your The Uninvited, Frank! I don’t have a lot of time to devote to fiction anymore, but I read a lot of non-fiction in the form of books about history. I study Egyptology, The Crusades/Templars, mythology, artists, etc. I have an amazing library filled with books about anything you’d ever want to learn. And I love my Encyclopedia Britannica set! I’ve had my nose stuck in those since I was about six years old.
Paul: I’m a big fan of the classics. Anything from Poe to Hawthorne to Verne to Dumas, I’m there. I also enjoy reading mysteries and thrillers. I have a growing collection of paperbacks from the “pulp” sci-fi era, ones with stories by Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont, and I really enjoy those. I’m also a big reader of history and of anything that goes behind the scenes of movies and TV shows that I’m a fan of. My collection of books, both fiction and non-fiction, is prodigious. It’s crazy, how many books I own. I enjoy reading on my Kindle, but there’s nothing like a real book. The feel of it, the smell of it, the look of it.
Thanks for the kind mention, Wendy! Is there anything else burning inside either of you with a need for expression?
Wendy: Oh, there’s always something else that’s burning inside. But the need for expression is very time-sensitive. And for me? It’s just not the right time to share that yet. Spoilers! Ask me again ten, fifteen years down the road.
Paul: You can ask me then as well, actually. I’m such an extrovert that there’s little that goes unexpressed, but some things need to stay private, at least for the time being. There’s a time and a place for everything. Now’s not the time. But thanks for asking.
If you were to each have a gravestone, what would you have engraved upon them?
Wendy: Front: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
Back: “Next stop…Willoughby.”
Paul: “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” That’s the inscription on the statue of Horace Mann in TZ’s “The Changing of the Guard.” It’s so easy to just mark time on this earth, when God really intends for each of us to accomplish something important—if we’re willing to listen and work for it. I find that saying to be wonderfully inspirational, so I’d like to share it posthumously with anyone who sees my gravestone.
Thanks for your time, Paul and Wendy!
Paul: And thank you, Frank, for inviting us. It’s been fun!
Wendy: A lot of fun! Thanks, Frank!
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