Ray Van Horn, Jr. is a veteran entertainment journalist whose writing and live photography has been featured in Blabbermouth.net, Dee Snider’s House of Hair Online, Fangoria.com, Horror News.net, About.com Heavy Metal, MetalManiacs, New Noise, Music Dish, AMP, Hails & Horns, Unrestrained,Noisecreep, Impose, Pit, The Big Takeover.com, Rough Edge.com, Pitriff and others. His blog The Metal Minute won a “Best Personal Blog” award in 2009 from Metal Hammer magazine and he wrote and produced his own hard rock e-zine, Retaliate.

He has contributed essays to UK author Neil Daniels’ Iron Maiden and ZZ Top biographies. Ray’s fiction has been published in various periodicals and anthologies, including his flash fiction piece “Off the Record” for Akashic Books’ “Mondays Are Murder” noir series. His recent short stories “Before the Ball” and “Widow” were featured in subsequent editions of Alex S. Johnson’s Axes of Evil anthologies. Ray wrote serialized original superhero fiction for Cyber Age Adventures and five of those stories appear in the anthology Playing Solitaire. He was the winner of Quantum Muse’s fiction contest in 1999.

Ray is a former NHL game analyst for The Hockey Nut and one-time host of the forum “Comic Books” at ReadWave. He has done beat reporting, photography and lifestyle articles for Metromix, an affiliate of The Baltimore Sun, Carroll Magazine, The Northern News and The Emmitsburg Dispatch.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Best Assignment Ever: On-Site at Camp No-Be-Bos-Co (aka Camp Crystal Lake from the Original Friday the 13th) EXPANDED EDITION

From time-to-time, I've posted these photos from what I consider the best assignment ever to this point in my journalism career.  I'd been given private access to the location most horror fans would give an appendage or two to see:  the Boy Scout camp doubling as the most notorious patch of woods the genre's ever seen.

Camp No-Be-Bos-Co has been around since the early 1900s and continues to operate today.  I'll never forget this trip as I was given a green light by the management to do an article on the camp when it was announced a remake of Friday the 13th was on its way.  Ranger Tom, the only official presence on-site, gave me some terrific stories but advised that, just like the deputy in the original Friday says, they don't stand for no weirdness from uber-fans trying to sneak onto the camp.  I was allowed to photograph "Camp Crystal Lake" to my heart's content.  It really does have a creepy feeling, particularly around the edges of Sand Pond, constituting the movie's "lake."

I later ventured into Blairstown, New Jersey to see the town used in the establishing shots where ill-fated camper Annie tramps through on-foot.  To no surprise, I couldn't get anyone to talk to me about the film for my article, but I did find a jewelry store owner with the last name of Voorhees.  As it turns, Voorhees is a common last name in the Jersey region.  Later, we ate at the Blairstown Diner used in the film, but naturally, our waitress vanished when I tried to kick up convo about the film.

Nonetheless, the piece was a success and it was capped by an interview with the late Betsy Palmer.  Betsy was the sweetest woman and she'd called me after our interview ran, telling me I was the first writer to ever quote her 100% accurately.  I still feel proud about that.  She'd invited me to a future lunch date in Manhattan, which I'm terribly sorry to say it never happened, even when I made the attempt to follow up a couple years later.  RIP Mama Voorhees.  

A couple years ago, I was approached by Allentown, PA writer David Zernhelt about my "Crystal Lake" photos I'd posted around the web.  He'd put together a few small booklets about the Friday the 13th series and asked to use some of the photos you see here.  Some were used and I thank David for his exposure of my work.  However, some of the photos you see here haven't yet been put out there to my readers, sooooooo....  Without further ado, here's an expanded edition of my No-Be-Bos-Co trip:






                                    Listenin' to:  Otep - Generation Doom

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday Triple Play: 2/21/16

This week's edition of Sunday Triple Play has the theme of "What's Ray reviewing for Blabbermouth this month?"  While I have a big handful of albums to take on in February, I also have three videos on my plate:  Twisted Sister's docufilm "We Are Twisted F***ing Sister," The Jam's "About the Young Idea" and Rigor Mortis' "Welcome to Your Funeral:  The Story of Rigor Mortis Part 1." 

If you're a media reviewer, you know that's a ton of time invested in video material.  Thus far, I have two out of the three knocked out for the month, whew...  So with that, here's a clip from each of these bands I'm reviewing this month, including a song that's one of my personal theme songs.  You can probably guess it for yourselves, although if you say "Re-Animator," you probably know me better than I know myself, ya sickies.


Twisted Sister:  "I'll Never Grow Up, Now"

The Jam:  "Town Called Malice"

Rigor Mortis:  "Re-Animator:

Friday, February 19, 2016

High Fivin' 20 Feet o' Shark

I'm way late to the party on this, but I tripped over this clip from one friend's post, me been more attuned to nautical things lately as another friend is about to chase her doctorate in marine biology.  I've always been fascinated with the sea since my main phobia as a child was drowning.  Having conquered that, I'm always up for ocean, reef and other marine documentaries, as I am with anything on animals. 

Wow, man, this 20 foot behemoth, Deep Blue, who was filmed off of Guadalupe Island near Mexico...

Check it out as the diver snags a high five with this beastie.  Awesome sauce.

                                         Listenin' to:   The Ocean - Aeolian

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Spring Training is ON, and Schwarber Means Business, a Day Ahead

Spring Training officially starts today, yeah, baby! 

Is Bryce Harper gonna remain the hype machine of the NL this season or will the Cubbies' Kyle Schwarber (there's a catchy syllabic link between the two, so the baseball cosmos will prevail as it will) steal the limelight from Nats Number 34? 

In his debut major league season last year, Schwarber knotted 16 dingers.  His total included three multi-homer games during the regular season and another one in Game 4 of the NLDS.  With five crushed during the playoffs, he is now the Cubs' leader for playoff  round trippers, this as a flippin' rookie.  In that fated moment during the playoffs, Schwarber had the stones to call one of his shots, if you'll remember.  He also tagged one into the Wrigley Field jumbo tron that was, for a short time, preserved by an awestruck Chicago.

Let the case be made before the first Spring Training pitch today, that Schwarber means business this year, following the shattered windshield of a homer he put out during batting practice yesterday.

Oh, it's gonna be a willllllllld MLB season...

                     Listenin' to:  Kurtis Blow Presents the History of Rap, Vol. 1

Monday, February 15, 2016

Ray's Hypothetical Playlist for the "Guardians of the Galaxy 2" Soundtrack

Here I go hijacking one of my old posts from ReadWave Comic Books since it vanished into the cyber ether following the site's disassembly.

I first wrote directly to Marvel with a for-fun hypothetical playlist the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy sequel.  Like so many other people, I loved the first film not only because it was mega fun, but because of its slamming retro soundtrack.  Being of his generation, I resonated with Starlord's "Awesome Mix Vol. 1" left to him by his dying mother in the film.  That cassette tape filled with cuts by the Runaways, David Bowie, the Jackson Five, Blue Suede, Elvin Bishop, the Raspberries, 10cc and Redbone was not only way-hip throwback material recycled with style, it was also a clever part of the plot.  Those songs represent not only Starlord's connection to his mother, but to Mother Earth.

As those who have seen the film know, Starlord's mom left him a final parting gift, which he'd refused to open well into his adult life as a celestial treasure scavenger and playboy.  That gift is ultimately revealed to be a second tape of music, which shrewdly leaves us in wonder what the next film's score is going to be like. 

Being the music dweeb that I am, I set out to not only hypothesize what Marvel has in store for us musically in Guardians 2, I wanted to chime in and play the game with them.  Considering the first Guardians soundtrack went platinum (a rarity in this sales-strapped market), you know the opportunity is huge to strike hot again come the sequel. 

So, in case you missed it over at ReadWave Comic Books, here's how I would assemble a potential Guardians of the Galaxy 2 soundtrack:

Maxine Nightingale - "Right Back Where We Started From" (could be the opener or closer and it has such a positive vibe with a message that might resonate with the new film, depending on where the script's going - plus it's been field tested to success in the Slapshot film)

ELO - "Telephone Line" (an opportunity to have a touching scene with Starlord in a private moment with this song as he remembers his mother)

Bad Company - "Bad Company" (a marching stride anthem for the quintet in the same fashion as The Runaways)

Doobie Brothers - "China Grove" (a cool, energetic scene transition number)

Barry White - "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More, Baby" (or ANYTHING by Barry White, since no mother of the Seventies could resist this cat)

Three Dog Night - "Shamballah" (a peppy little number to drive a spaceship by)

Steppenwolf - "Magic Carpet Ride" (more pep while keeping in theme of gliding through space)

Atlanta Rhythm Section - "So Into You" (a sexy number for Starlord and Gamora - or whomever might constitute a love interest for our hero-pimp)

Bob Marley - "Is This Love" (another flirty number to consummate a romance in the film)

Ozark Mountain Daredevils - "Jackie Blue" (because it has one of the most killer riffs ever and a pumping groove)

James Brown - "Get Up Offa That Thing" (could be used for comedy relief or even in the midst of a high energy action sequence)

Christopher Cross - "Sailing" (breezy transition scene song to keep in theme of crossing the galaxy, no puns intended)

                                        Listenin' to:  Rammstein - Mutter

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sunday Triple Play: Mushy Valentine's Day Edition - 2/14/16

We're back again with Sunday Triple Play!  For those of you new to my blog, the concept of this feature is simple.  I pick three songs and post them each Sunday, sometimes with a theme, most of the time just a random mix of genres.  Dig it?

Whether you have a sweetie to cuddle up with today or you're flipping off Cupid, there's always room for a good love song or in this case, three.  Just a few of my favorite love jams are The Flamingos' "I Only Have Eyes for You," the Scorpions' "Still Loving You," The Cure's "Lovesong," Prince's "Scandalous," Elvis Presley's "It's Now or Never," Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," Lush's "For Love," Depeche Mode's "In Your Room," Lita Ford's "Back to the Cave," Type O Negative's "Love You to Death," Patsy Cline's " I Fall to Pieces," Dokken's "In My Dreams," Olivia Newton John's "Hopelessly Devoted to You," Killing Joke's "In Cythera," H.I.M.'s "Sacrament," Heart's "Alone," Air's "Playground Love," Emmylou Harris' outrageously sexy cover of Neil Young's "Wrecking Ball" and the three I've chosen for this Valentine's edition of Sunday Triple Play.

So from me to all of you, XOXOXOXOXOXO...   K, now I'm hearing hearing distant echoes of Slappy Squirrel gnashing "Ehhh, enough with the mushy stuff already..."

Psychedelic Furs - "Love My Way"

The Moody Blues - "Nights in White Satin"

Bad Brains - "Sacred Love"

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Welcome Back, Everyone!

Welp, it's been ages since I've posted here at The Crash Pad, yet my stat counts have routinely shown y'all keep coming back.  For that, I thank you.  Blizzard bombs, Blabbermouth reviews, new projects, fatherhood and gym obsession are the chief culprits to my lack of output here on the ol' blog.  Pardon the interruption, as they say at ESPN.

You'll note that I have removed previous posts related to my doings at ReadWave Comic Books.  The reason for this is they are all now dead links as ReadWave has folded.  It was a cool run hosting that forum and I made a nice number of writer and artist contacts in the comic book industry from doing that site.  This past fall I networked at the Baltimore Comic Con and had a blast meeting the president, editors and creative staff from Boom! Comics.  As this is a very difficult medium to break into, I value what I've learned from the Boom! folks as I continue work on my Metalheads comic project with my artist partner from Kiel, Germany, Dominic Valecillo.  What he's put together thus far has me squealing like one of my son's many second grade girlfriends.  Check out this little teaser:

I had the chance to meet some other comics creators including the wonderfully humble and kind Stan Sekai, mastermind behind everyone's favorite samurai rabbit, Usagi Yojimbo.  Truly a gentleman, Mr. Sekai, one of my inspirations.

My main project right now is a non-fiction music book which I will discuss more at length at the appropriate time.  All I can divulge at this point is that I have procured a literary agent to back me on this project and thus far I've confirmed 36 guests for interviews.  The response and support for my book in-progress has been nothing short of incredible.  I will mention a few guests I've already sat down with:  Lita Ford, Maria Brink of In This Moment and Morgan Lander of Kittie.

As you can see from some of the newer photos added to this revamp of the site, I'm thoroughly committed to fitness.  I work out five to six times a week and likely bore the crap out of my Facebook followers yammering about workouts.  I can't help it.  This is a secular religion for me and building a new body has become a spiritual journey on top of social.  While I frequently work out alone, I do seek workout partners and enjoy talking with all the many friends I've made at my gym.  There are truly wonderful people I see on a daily basis, some who've shared new exercises with me to incorporate into my own regimen.  Together, we all make it a fun place to chase after our goals.

When I first began this process, I made the decision I was going to be healthy and strong for my son, Nolan, given the huge lag in age between us.  I value having my parents still alive and mostly healthy; my stepfather is especially a tank at age 73 and he inspired me to get on this quest.  I dropped 47 pounds in the first year and have gone to the next level.  It's not an easy journey at age 45, but I'm in the best shape of my life and I can honestly look at myself in the mirror and be proud.  Of course, I'm so fitness addicted, I'm not adverse to dropping and nailing a set of push-ups anywhere as you can see:

Last week, I was up in New York, spending part of the day in Manhattan, the other half in Brooklyn.  I've been up there numerous times, but I came home all fired up and invigorated from this trip.  Firstly, I walked an easy 90 blocks throughout the day, this even with taking the subway four times.  I moved briskly and chewed up the asphalt by tramping down to the Village and scoping out Bleeker Street, no longer the site of CBGB's, which I went looking for.  You can see a pale shade of punk rock and new wave yesteryear, but that's about it.  Nostalgic only if you're a visitor.  The locals are still pissed Bleeker got cleaned up.  I get it totally.

I enjoyed lunch with the sweet and classy Carol Kaye, owner of publicity house Kayos Productions and former publicist for Kiss, Aerosmith, Joan Jett and many others.  Carol and I have been friends for a long time, yet it was the first time we'd met face-to-face.  I had the best time hanging with Carol and her equally nice assistant, Shanna, at Live Bait, half a block away from the Flatiron Building.  I was treated to some fantastic war stories from "the covered wagon days" as Carol would put it, and I got a tour of Carol's office later.  The gold records in her office testifies to her perseverance and longtime standing in the music industry.  Carol gave me an advance screener of the new Twisted Sister movie premiering this week in New York, "We Are Twisted F-ing Sister."  Mad love.  Already in my review queue.

I grabbed the train to the Guggenheim and unfortunately, the rotunda was under renovation, but I got a taste of the museum with a peek at the grand spiral and then a decent handful of impressionist and abstract paintings, plus expressionistic photos.  I got a good feel for the layout of the land on this trip more than other times in the past as I saw neighborhood after neighborhood before catching another subway back to Midtown and venturing to the 7 line to swing over to Brooklyn.

I attended the album release party for Amon Amarth's Jomsviking at St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn, a small, dark, heavy metal haven.  Black attire of some sort being mandatory.  Invited to the release party was mainly press people such as myself, along with publicists and other media personalities.  I got to see friends from the west coast and my dear friends Liz and Dave of Earsplit PR.  I made new friends throughout the evening, downed a big boy can of Iron Maiden's "Trooper" ale (which was very good, by the way) and then downed quite a few Beamish Irish stouts throughout the night.  It was a terrific party, yet I had to haul ass back from Brooklyn to Midtown to catch my bus home.  Let's just say I looked like I belonged in New York the way I double-timed from 42nd to 34th Street, then 5th to 12th Avenue while shoving pizza down my throat at a speed walk.  I made the bus with a minute to spare, whew...

So there's a wee bit of a recap of things.  I'll stop there so I have more crap to write about later.  As I said, thanks to all of you for your loyalty as my readers.  I continue to receive up to 200 album pitches a week and I get a lot of correspondence from new bands at Facebook and through the Blabbermouth channels.  It's inundating, but after a trip like I had in New York last week, it's all good.  It's who I am and a part of what I'm supposed to be doing...along with the other fifty or so things.

As Chuck Barris always said on The Gong Show, we'll be back with more stuff!

                                     Listenin' to:  Elle King - Love Stuff