Monday, June 27, 2011

Billy Hector July Gigs

This calendar of Fender Therapy brought to you by BILLY HECTOR


SUNDAYS - HARRIGAN’S, Rte 71, Sea Girt 732-449-8228 7:30pm
THURSDAYS – RAGIN’ CAJUN, Belmar, 732-280-6828 7pm

1– CRAB’S CLAW, Lavalette, 732-793-4447 9pm
2- JOHN & PETER’S, New Hope, PA 215-862-5981 9pm
3- HARRIGAN'S, Rte 71, Sea Girt 732-449-8228 7:30pm
8– BERNIE’S, Chester 908-879-7120 9pm
9– The BITTER END, NYC 212-673-7030 Midnight
15– HAT CITY KITCHEN, Orange 862-252-9147 9:30pm

Check out the band doin' Stray Cat at the Hat:

17- LANGOSTA LOUNGE, Asbury Pk. Boardwalk 732-455-3275 1pm
21– The ACOUSTIC ARMADA at The RAGIN CAJUN, Belmar, 732-280-6828 7pm
22– SPARTA MUSIC FEST, Nicholson Performing Arts Pavillion., Sparta 7:30pm
23– BOARDWALK BAR, Pt Pleasant boardwalk 732-714-2241 9pm
29– CHICO’S House of Jazz, Asbury Pk 732-774-5299 9pm Chico's is a real Nightclub!!
30- BRIAN'S BLUES & BBQ, Middletown, NY 845-692-3227 9pm

BILLY’S BIRTHDAY BASH with The Midnight Horns is August 26th! -mark your calendar!

All Billy’s CDs, shirts n stuff available at:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Me and Rod Serling - Enter the Twilight Zone

Rod Serling

Witness one Rod Serling – Standing alone, flesh, blood, muscle and mind. A frustrated actor turned writer, he stands forever in the nightmare of his own creation, pressed into service in the role of narrator for a weekly television drama – The Twilight Zone.

For those who watched and listened, he showed how thin a line separates that which we assume to be real and that which is a product of our own minds.

There is that hauntingly repetitious four-beat score that opens the show, as Serling, dressed conservatively in dark suit and tie, steps out of the shadows and stands in the starry night. With his hands clasped in front of him, he says in his distinctive voice, talking out of the side of his mouth:

“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is also an area we call the Twilight Zone.”

Marc Scott Zicree, in his book The Twilight Zone Companion (Bantam, 1982) tells us that the original music for the show was composed by Bernard Herman, who also did such classic film scores as Citizen Kane, Psycho and The Day The Earth Stood Still. Zicree describes it as, “a subtle and lonely piece scored for strings, harp, flute and brass,” but that was replaced after on season “by the more familiar rhythmic theme by French avant-guarde composer Marius Consant.”

As for the name of the show, Serling said, “I thought I’d made it up, but I’ve since heard that there is an Air Force term relating to a moment when a plane is coming down on approach and the pilot cannot see the horizon, it’s called the twilight zone, but it’s an obscure term which I had not heard before.”

Since then the lexicon should show that the CIA psychologists used the term to denote the state of mind of subjects to whom they administered LSD.

But from now on the term “Twilight Zone” will forever be associated with Serling, who conceived the idea for the TV show and wrote many if not most of the scripts. He made the show unique, parlaying an award wining TV drama into the half-hour weekly program that didn’t have the continuity that plots and characters give sit-coms and soap operas.

When word got out that the show would be scary, Serling rejected the advances of agents representing various monster and robot actors who monopolized other sci-fi shows, politely telling them he had something else “in mind.”

And indeed, the Twilight Zone would stimulate endless nightmares, portraying ordinary people in frightening predicaments. But it made people think, and come back for more.

Serling’s contract only called for him to write 80% of the shows, and for Orson Wells to do the narration, but when Orson Wells required more money than they were allocated, and others just didn’t seem right, Serling volunteered to do the narration himself. While it turned out to be the most familiar and endearing part of the series, it was also Serling’s own personal nightmare, as he had stage fright.

The producers and director were at first skeptical of Serling himself doing the opening dialog, but then, as Serling put it, “They looked at me and said, ‘Hell, at least he’s articulate and speaks English, so let’s use him.’ Only my laundress knows how frightened I was.”

According to Zicree, “Serling had more problems adjusting to his on screen role than just stumbling over the occasional word.”

Director Lamont Johnson said, “Rod was a very nervous man before the camera. When he had to do lead in time he would go through absolute hell. He would sweat and sputter and go pale. He was terribly ill at ease in front of a camera.”

Like all successful TV programs, they last only as long as the scripts maintain a certain quality, and writing is what Serling did best.

Born Rodman Edward Serling on Christmas day 1924 in Syracuse, New York, Serling was the second son of Ester and Samuel Serling, his father a wholesale meat dealer.

Popular, outspoken and confident, Serling read pulp paperback novels and mimicked movie actors as a kid. He went in for dramatics in high school, and served as a paratrooper in the Philippines during World War II. After the service he attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and started writing radio scripts and bad poetry.

His wife Carol, who published a Twilight Zone magazine that featured original short fiction, recalls that Rod’s writing habits got him up at dawn. After grabbing a cup of coffee, he would “dictate his scripts into a tape machine.” Often, if the weather was nice, he’d take the machine outside with him and sit by the pool.”

One friend noted, “He is the only person I knew who could get a tan and make money at the same time.”

After five seasons of the Twilight Zone, Serling hosted another TV weekly, The Night Gallery, which also developed short story themes.

Then, years after Serling’s death, they made The Twilight Zone movie, which adapted a few of the original shows to film. It partially succeeded, but the death of actor Vic Morrow and two children in its making put a stigma on the production.

While Serling wrote most of the Twilight Zone TV segments, only “It’s a Grand Life,” about a spoiled boy with supernatural powers, was written by Serling that is included in the film. “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” which originally stared William Shatner, was written by Richard Matheson, and first published in the Anthology “Alone By Night” (Ballentine, 1961), while “Kick the Can” was written by George Clayton Johnson.

Johnson once said, “On the Twilight Zone, there was an attempt to keep it literary, to keep it bright, to keep it good. No one in the show ever suggested that something would be good enough – although that’s common today in commercial television. Just to do it good enough. Quality control counted in the Twilight Zone.”

In his last published interview several months before his death, Serling said, “I just want them to remember me a hundred years from now. I don’t care that they’re not able to quote a single line that I’ve written. But just that they can say, ‘Oh, he was a writer,’ That’s sufficiently an honored position for me.”

In May, 1975, Serling suffered a mild heart attack while scheduled to give a lecture at a college in upstate New York, and had to have a coronary bypass operation.

When I read in the news papers that he was in the hospital, I sent him a small note, mentioning that I too had attended classes at Antioch College while a student at the University of Dayton, Ohio, and included a poem by William Bulter Yeats, from Supernatural Songs – The Four Ages of Man.

“He with body waged a fight, but body won, it walks upright.
Then he struggled with the heart, innocence and peace depart.
Then he struggled with the mind, his proud heart he left behind.
Now his war on God begins; at stroke of midnight, God shall win.”

A few days later, on June 28, 1975, after ten hours of open heart surgery, complications arose and Rod Serling died. I heard about it on television at home in Ocean City, and wondered if he ever got my note.

The next day I went out on the porch and took the mail from the mail box and was surprised to see one postmarked from upstate New York. The corner of the envelope said it was from Rod Serling.

I could hear the music from the Twilight Zone as I opened the envelop – Da da, da da, da, da, da da....

It was brief and to the point, typewritten, apparently dictated and signed, thanking me for the poem, and saying that he was really worse off than what the newspapers had let it out to be, and that he wouldn’t be working on any projects for awhile.

And now he’s stuck in that middle ground between light and shadow, and is remembered not as a writer, but as our host in his personal nightmare – the Twilight Zone.
Now whenever anything strange or unexpected happens, we hear the faint strains of that music, and quickly turn around, half-expecting to see him standing there, in dark suit and tie, hands clasped in front of him, welcoming us.

Hildreth House Ghost - Cape May County

The Hildreth House Ghost

Something strange in your neighborhood? Who should you call if your house was haunted by a particularly pesky ghost?

When the Sawyer family became disturbed by the strange events that occurred at an old Cape May County farmhouse they bought and opened a store, they called the ASPR – the American Society for Psychical Research. It’s the closet thing you can get to real ghostbusters.

They are not quacks who try to convince others of the reality of the para-normal, the ASPR was founded in 1885 by eminent American scholars, including William James. They attempt, instead, to find rational explanations for reputed psychic phenomenon. Based in New York City, it is an off-shoot of an even older British Society for Psychical Research.

The ASPR dispatched a team to Cape May County that included Dr. Karl Osis to investigate the Sayer’s Cape May house, and they concluded that the house may actually be haunted, calling it, “a poltergeist case without an identifiable living agent.”

Built in 1772 by Joshua Hildreth, a New England whaler who relocated to this area and took up cattle raising, the house is one of the oldest structures in Cape May county. It has survived a fire, been enlarged several times, and was moved 100 yards down a hill to its present location about a century ago.

The house remained in the Hildreth family until 1976 when it was purchased by a women and her son, who sold it to the Sawyers in 1978.

Although the house was reputed to have been haunted for some time, the only witness to kenetic (the movement of objects) and poltergeist (unexplained noises) activity indicate the strange events only began to occur in the 1970s when the house was owned by the last of the Hildreth descendents.

One lady, a widow who reportedly saw apparitions, experienced flickering lights, saw objects move and heard footsteps, is said to have disliked staying in the house alone.

The next owner, a women and her son, reported to have seen apparitions, heard footsteps and had a burglar alarm continuously malfunction.

When the Sawyers bought the house in 1978 they made major renovations in converting it into a Christmas gift shop they named Winterwood. They found, through hundreds of incidents to dozens of people, that a particularly annoying spirit was in their midst. It seemed liked it came out of the woodwork and liked to play with the electrical system.

The history of the house, engraved on a plaque by the front entrance jokingly warns customers not to be disturbed by Hestor, “the resident ghost,” named after an old spinster who once lived there.

It wasn’t funny at first. So many bizarre and unexplained incidents occurred that the Sawyers contacted ASPR at their 73rd Street offices in New York. With the cooperation of the Sawyer family, Dr. Osis and his associates undertook an objective investigation. Making several visits to Cape May county, Dr. Osis and his team took statements from witnesses and neighbors, searched local historical society records and even tried to acoustically record the poltergeist phenomenon in the best ghostbuster fashion.

In August 1980 Dr. Osis gathered his findings and gave a lecture on the Hildreth House ghost to the twenty-third annual convention of the Parapsychilogical Association in Reykjavik, Iceland, and published his report in the June 1982 issue of the Journal of the ASPR.

Osis and his associate Donna McCormic called their report, “A Poltergeist Case Without Identifiable Living Agent.”

The word poltergeist is from the German – polter – which means noise – and geist, or ghost, and refers to a particularly noisy ghost or “a spirit assumed to be explanation of rapping and unexplained noises.”

In his report, Dr. Osis said that after talking with 31 people, “Twenty-four of the persons interviewed reported observations of the phenomenon.” He made sure that it was not merely a concocted practical joke or an attempt by the Sawyer family to increase their business by exaggerating the existence of the ghost.

Their trust in the Sawyer’s sincerity was boosted by the fact that one witness included a former employee who was not on good terms with the family, and Mr. Sawyer’s embarrassment at not being able to control the electrical malfunctions because he also owned an electrical company.

Osis also said that he took pains to ensure the accuracy of statements and that he, “inquired into the attitudes and possible bias of observers regarding the paranormal.”

“For the most part,” Osis said, “they told us of an initial, healthy skepticism about such matters and expressed belief in some logical explanations for the disturbances. However, subsequent personal observations usually changed their views.”

One of the first bizarre incidents occurred to one electrician who was working overtime in the house shortly after 11 pm. “I was installing recepticals,” the worker said, “and needed more recepticals, so I went out to my truck to get them. When I came back, the tools I had left on the table were scattered over the floor. They were scattered as if somebody had thrown them on the floor.”

Other kenectic activity almost became routine. A file cabinet drawer kept sliding open repeatedly as a book keeper kept closing it, an adding machine suddenly switched on and began punching out zeros, an unwound grandfather clock chimes frequently and customers have been startled by music boxes that suddenly start to play for no apparent reason.

A light socket fell off the ceiling a few seconds before a door slammed shut. When they opened the store one morning they found dolls placed in a circle on the floor with their shoes off as if they were having a séance.

When the Sawyers decided to have a séance of their own in an attempt to communicate with the restless spirit a tile came dislodged from a fireplace, slid across the floor and struck a participant.

Mrs. Sand Sawyer’s daughter Cindi was skeptical until she was spooked one night after work when she lost her keys and her and her boyfriend were accidently locked inside the store. The keys were later found stashed on a shelf where no one would have put them on purpose.

Now convinced it is a friendly ghost, she shows inquiring visitors around the house that has been converted into a retail store lined with display items – small Christmas knickknacks, china, linen and the like. In a backroom she points to a fireplace, the mantle of which was carved by a Hessian soldier who was harbored by Joshia Hildreth after defecting from the British army during the revolutionary war.

“Some people even say that the soldier is the ghost,” Cindi says, “because footsteps have been heard going up the steps to the bedroom. Then there’s two thuds as if he took his boots off and threw them on the floor.”

But she is quick to add that, “other people have heard women’s voices talk, not laughing, but in a serious discussion,” so they’re not sure of the gender of the spirit, or whether it is a number of different spirits.

She talks of Hester as if it’s a member of the family rather than an unwelcome guest, err ghost. “It adds personality to the house,” she says, “and likes electrical stuff, lights, alarms, video cameras, the sterio, things like that.”

Burglar and fire alarms would malfunction, be replaced, and break down again. A video camera used to monitor the backroom would move so it faced the wall, and more than one employee has experienced the music system click on without any physical manipulation. When a sewing machine began running automatically a gift shop manager said, “we had to pull the plug to stop it. It was very strange.”

Osis investigated and found that the sewing machine had a “triple switching mechanism, so before it will operate it has to be switched on, then the appropriate button pushed for switch density, and finally the foot pedal depressed. The machine will not function if any one of these switches is not activated.”

Each time he visited the house, Dr. Osis brought along a different psychic, supposedly “sensitive” to such spirits for the purpose of “identifying a deceased agent.” According to Osis, “The impressions they received in the house were tape recorded before they had any contact with gift shop personnel. We evaluated these impressions by submitting them to persons who had knowledge of the history of the house and its former occupants. Only one of the sensitives, Ingid Beckman reported impressions about a possible deceased agent which tallied with verifiable history.”

She described a women who was identified as Hestor, “the more active of two sisters who lived in the house all their lives.” Hestor was born in 1859 and died in 1949.

Beckman described a women who was, “proud of her family heritage, they were leading citizens and she feels that they sank very, very low. She was left very much to herself,…she was very degraded in the end. She had to go for subsidies…”

This women, according to the psychic, was an active member of a prestigious organization, “more than the community, it’s like a state group or a national group, and has something to do with history.” The impression the psychic had of her motives was that she was “lingering” in the house to defend her family name and the integrity of the house.

Osis said that, “We found out from those who had known Hestor that she was indeed quite proud, especially of her family name; and they had in fact been leading citizens in the community – one of the oldest families, may of whom held public office…(but) towards the end of her life she was forced to accept financial help, which was quite embarrassing for her.”

Hestor was also a member, an official “Master” of the local chapter of the Grange, the national farmer’s organization.

This psychic according to Osis, “gave a fairly detailed and accurate description of Hestor’s physical appearance, and also of her personality and lifestyle.

“In conclusion,” Osis said in his report, “we can say that our investigation of the various explanations for the individual events and our analysis of the data obtained in interviews with witnesses failed to reveal any living poltergeist agent. But the data do seem to suggest – though they do not definitely identify – a deceased agent.”