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 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

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