Full of Complex Carbohydrates and MicroNutrients

I am a novelty to many (and I'm fine with that).
I have a very silly sense of humor usually riddled with malapropisms (and I'm fine with that, too).
I ask too many questions of Life and I expect all the answers.
I trust people too easily when I shouldn't; however, I respect everyone regardless…unless they do something to make me think twice.
I don't cheat. I am tactful yet will give the truth up front (and never mean to hurt anyone's feelings with it).
I like to help the people who have helped me, and even those who have not.
I never forget... but sometimes I misplace things.
I never lose hope.
I am awesomely blessed for the people who have come into my life, and I am blessed for the people who have left because I realize I didn't need them anyway.
I honestly feel that laughter is the best medicine you can have.
I believe in being strong when everything else seems to be going wrong.
I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles. In other words, I'm human, and definitely not perfect.
But tomorrow is another day, and there's so much cheese to be had...
(thank you to Ranae S. for this bit of inspiration!)

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Everyone, get up and dance now!

Monday, August 29, 2011

***UPDATED*** - The Man of a Thousand Faces

(UPDATED! - see end of article for additional information)
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Lon Chaney is solely responsible for giving me two very important things in my life.

The stuff of nightmares
The first being the earliest and scariest nightmares I can recall having as a kid.

Seeing him as Erik, the lead in the 1925 silent film masterpiece The Phantom of the Opera frightened me so much, I could not sleep alone in my bed for weeks. I was very young, perhaps five or maybe six years old at the most, and when Mom tried to put me to bed for the night, I cried and carried on and begged to sleep in that big, safe bed of hers and Daddy's. I know that she regretted having let me watch the movie, as surely she did for all the ensuing monster movies I just had to watch over my inquisitive, formative years and was of course mortally terrified by. 

In my mind's eye, I kept seeing that pivotal moment of the movie, where Christine (portrayed by Mary Philbin) sneaks up behind Erik as he plays the organ... and then pulls off his mask to reveal the deformed and utterly hideous features that lie beneath. I'm sure everyone can attest to having been freaked out by that unforgettable scene, solely by the expression of sheer horror Chaney gives the camera: his mouth agape in a silent rictus of terror, revealing the mangled dentition within; his eyes threatening to pop from the horrendous skull which contains them. 
The Phantom unmasked!
I could not shake that image for weeks - and you know, it still haunts me even to this day. The graininess of this dark, atmospheric movie and the pitch of the organ music only served to further embed permanent fear within the limbic portion of my brain, and no matter how many times I have seen it, I anticipate this eerie moment to relive my gut terror all over again. How delicious it is!

Studio publicity of 1925 claimed that the more delicate members of the audience swooned and outright fainted at that revealing moment, and I can totally believe it, because it truly takes one's breath away the first time you see it. It was such an astounding makeup job, the likes of which the early movie industry had never before seen. 

And that is the second most important thing that Chaney gave me - not just my love of silent movies and monsters and all things spooky, but the desire to become as adept as he was in the art of makeup and transformation. He literally changed the burgeoning  film trade by his astonishing skills of flawlessly metamorphosing his physical self into whatever character he was playing - and the man was an undeniable genius at it, which is why he earned the title "The Man of a Thousand Faces." Chaney only hinted at (yet never completely revealed) his innovative techniques, which is a good thing - I say, let 'em all wonder how it was done. A magician never reveals his tricks, right? 

(Legend goes that Chaney used puffs of cotton to enhance his cheek bones, matted down with copious amounts of spirit gum and glue, and utilized fish hooks to pull his nostrils up and flared wide, secured by gluing them underneath fish skin - yes, the actual skin of fish - to his forehead. I can only imagine how incredibly painful and smelly it must have been, but the effect paid off with his tortured performance as the long-suffering Phantom.) 

Like the old saying goes, 'One must suffer for one's art,' and in Chaney's case, that much was proven true.
Lon Chaney (R) and his most infamous role (L)
Of course, Chaney was famous for so many more films (including the Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Unholy Three, and the long-lost London After Midnight), but to many, it was his role as the macabre Phantom that is cemented in the collective consciousness of movie buffs and historians the world over.

In this day of CGI overload, I find it a breath of fresh air to view this film and still revel anew at the artistry which only the human hand and pure imagination could create. I know I am not alone here, with the subsequent legions of makeup artists including Dick Smith, Rob Bottin, Stan Winston, Rick Baker et al, who too were inspired - and initially scared shitless - by the pioneering legacy of the late, great Lon Chaney.

The Chaney legacy is kept alive by Ron Chaney, great-grandson of Lon, whose family operates It is an awesome site, full of Chaney memorabilia past and present that you can view and, yes, even purchase. 
Please click the link above and visit it!  

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***UPDATE*** September 1, 2011

I am floating on air!!! I am so excited to have received an autograph from none other than Mr. Ron Chaney himself! Here's what transpired: 

In my ongoing mania of late revisiting all things Chaney/Phantom, I purchased the astounding PHANTOM OF THE OPERA classic silents series book from This is an historic account of the entire genesis of the story, from Gaston Leroux's original novel to the Hollywood production and beyond. There are so many never before seen photos detailing how the silent film came to be, it made my head spin. I mean, most of these photos have pretty much been lost to time or just plain misplaced and forgotten in our modern day, but to me, the silent film fanatic, it's a treasure trove. I loved seeing actual photographs of the stage that the studio built for it (which faithfully recreated the Paris Opera house) and still stands to this day. And yes, many revealing test shots of Lon Chaney's makeup, instilling the childhood terror in me all over again. The moment this book arrived in the mail, I pored over it, and continued to do so late into the night while in bed, even as my tired eyes were closing in sheer exhaustion. I simply could not put it down. 

A glossy, black, handsome 300-plus page documentary-like book, it also includes the original script, production notes, interviews with cast and crew, and, dear God, so much more. Drool, drool, drool.

Oh yes - before I continue to babble away, how did Mr. Chaney's signature come to me? 

Inside the package that contained the book was also a plastic envelope protector which held an envelope with Chaney Enterprises letterhead. On this envelope was also a much coveted 32 cent postage stamp commemorating the Phantom of the Opera, and right below it, there it was, personalized to me... 

A close-up view:

It will be framed and hung in a place of honor.