Tuesday, September 20, 2011


First off, my thanks and stuff like that goes out to Mike Dickerson for making me aware of the existence of the “Welcome 2 My Nightmare” (hereafter W2MN) CD. Both he and I belong to an online Alan Parsons Project Appreciation List (“Roadkill”), and it was Mike who posted info about W2MN there.

Been an Alice Cooper fan since the days when I became aware that my parents hated him. Upon learning this I absolutely HAD to find out what this guy was all about. It wasn’t easy, because Alice was a forbidden topic in the house and had been since the days his album “Billion Dollar Babies” was new.

Well, time passed and I became an adult – ok, as much of an adult as I’m ever likely to be – and listening to Alice became a cause célèbre in my apartment (later, a house). I became enthralled with albums such as “Alice Cooper Goes to Hell” and W2MN’s classic predecessor, “Welcome to My Nightmare”. Despite Alice’s personal troubles with alcohol and such, I found that he maintained his sense of humor through his music.

Pop once spotted the “Welcome to My Nightmare” CD in my abode, picked it up, took a look at the songs on it and declared with a grimace that “Only Women Bleed” was about “a woman’s period.” I didn’t bother to correct him because I could see he already had his mind made up. I came to the conclusion that Pop had the depth of a thimble.

On the other hand, and at a different day and time, I played “Only Women Bleed” for my Mom without telling her who was doing the song. She understood that the singer meant that women bleed emotionally and declared that the man doing the song had a “nice voice”, too. She was quite surprised when I told her she had just listened to an Alice Cooper song.

Guess she changed her mind about Alice, because some years later she bought me Alice’s “The Last Temptation” for one of my birthdays. Apparently, Mom was more hip than I thought. She found it interesting that Glen Campbell once said that one of his best friends (and golfing buddies) was Alice Cooper. Looks like Alice was ok in my Mom’s eyes from that point up until the day she died.

So, to the W2MN CD.

I’m happy to report that time has not dulled Alice’s razor-sharp wit one iota. Proof? Song titles such as “Ghouls Gone Wild” (which sounds like Alice’s version of a surf song), “Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever” (an Alice “rap” of sorts) and “I’ll Bite Your Face Off” (about an undead dominatrix, I guess). These songs really resonate, though; they’re what makes Alice who he is and I say Thank God for him!

The rest of the CD is vintage Alice Cooper as well; not a bad song in the bunch. Welcome back, Alice! We can always count on you to re-appear when pop music starts to become too “nice”. Or bland. Or nauseatingly Bieber-ish.

Now, if we could only get Alice to release albums like “Zipper Catches Skin” and “Da-Da” on CD.

Further proof that Alice hasn’t lost it came when I ran across an interview in progress that Joy Behar (no, I don’t normally watch her) recently did with him. When asked if he believed Gene Simmons’ claim to have slept with over 5,000 women, Alice deadpanned, “At once?” Gotta love it!


(Note: this write-up has also been posted at my true crime blog,

Every once in a great while, quite by accident usually, Karen or I will stumble across a documentary about a murder case with which we are completely unfamiliar. Such is the case with “A Christmas Family Tragedy: Legends of the 1929 Lawson Family Murders”. Karen found this DVD at one of the St. Louis County Library branches and immediately grabbed it. In turn, it “grabbed” us as well as we sat down to watch it.

It tells the story of Germanton, North Carolina, tobacco farmer Charles (Charlie) Lawson and how, one cold and snowy Christmas morning, he blitzkrieged his family and, climactically, turned the shotgun on himself. He also used the firearm as a bludgeon during the attacks.

The victims were Charlie’s wife, Fannie, and six of their seven children: Maybell (7), Mary Lou (4 months), Marie (17), James William (4), Raymond (2) and Carrie (12).

The oldest male child at 16, James Arthur Lawson (yes, there were two boys in the Lawson house named James), aka “Buck”, had been sent into town just minutes earlier to purchase more shotgun shells, not knowing that his father would pretty much use up the shells he’d had on hand then and there to commit the murders.

Had Buck returned to the farm just a bit sooner, he, too, would have been a victim. As it turned out, Buck, in the years that followed, had a hard time living with what happened and it drove him to drink. He was killed at the age of 32 in 1945 in a truck accident.

Ironically, the name Buck Lawson would be used as the “hero” for Billy Curtis’s character (a coinkydink, I’m sure) in the all-midget Western, “The Terror of Tiny Town” in 1938, some 9 years after the Lawson tragedy.

A ballad was written about the Lawson murders the year after the murders. It was recorded a number of times and in the end credits of the film, you hear a woman singing it acapella.

“A Christmas Family Tragedy” is a fascinating work overall. It has its flaws, though, one of them being poor sound quality in spots. Another thing that I thought was pointless was apparently cutting the movie’s running time down and switching some of the removed footage over to a “bonus features” setting. I’d rather not have bonus features on a disc if you have to sacrifice the ebb and flow of your movie just to pander to the demand for extra stuff.

There is a lot of on-camera speculation as to Charlie’s motive in exterminating his family. There were no tangible clues left behind as to what might have caused it. I think that sometimes we look for deeper meanings to some things that do not appear kosher on the surface. Sometimes, though, it’s just better – maybe more difficult – to accept the fact that something this cruel is little more than just plain meanness and leave it at that. God knows that the human race has excelled in treating each other terribly.

I also found it a bit odd to hear bluegrassed-up versions of Christmas hymns being placed over recreated scenes/photos of the murders. Seemed a bit over the top to me.

Then are location shots of the Lawson family burial site at Browder Cemetery in Germanton. They were interred next to each other, decked out in the finest clothes they ever had. The clothes were new; they were killed while wearing them.

A weird, probably manufactured, twist to the story of their gravesite is told at the end of the film.

A man who is interviewed and otherwise provides commentary in the documentary, mentions that he once shuffled some leaves over to cover Charlie’s resting spot as well after having allegedly discovered that leaves were everywhere but there. He put a stick on top of the grave to keep the leaves intact. According to this gentleman, as he walked away and then looked back some 20 seconds later, the leaves were all gone, the stick had been moved and there was nothing but bare grass once again over Charlie. Good story. If it’s true.

The DVD was released by “Facets Video” of Chicago. I don’t know if this movie is still available or how you may wind getting your hands on one. The back of the box shows a phone number of 1-800-331-6197. There is a website listed, too: If you order it, tell ‘em Mike at the Splatting Nun site sent ya!