Tuesday, May 07, 2013


I can tell you every single detail of that Monday night: the trip form the farm into Perry in Mom's Ford Galaxie, the stop at Fareway for supplies for the evening's entertainment (Shasta cola and an industrial-sized bag of M&Ms), the whir of cicadas sounding from the shrubs on west side of the drive-in, the pink and purple clouds as the soon slowly descended, part of the endless wait for the movie to begin; the flashes of lightning far off to the north, somewhere far away, as the movie finally began.

The movie was The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad.  It had been heavily advertised on local TV, the commercials promising monsters and visual wonders aplenty.  I didn't know then that the movie was nearly twenty years old; I didn't know the name of Ray Harryhausen, though I noted his name in the credits as "Creator Of Visual Effects", and I knew what it meant: He was the man who made the mosters.

Mostly, I didn't--couldn't--know the profound effect those monsters would have on me.  How Harryhausen's cloven-hooved cyclops, with his splayed legs and delicately-curving back, formed an interest in the mechanics of the human body, an appreciation for choreography and dance, or how the slow, painful death of a dragon would haunt my dreams, its stumbling final movements echoed in the sad exits of my own beloved pets.

By the time a skeleton dropped down from the ceiling, grabbing a shield and sword and engaging our hero in a duel to the death (or redeath), my mind was completely blown.  I had never seen anything like this before.  My mom was an adult, she knew things, so I asked her how this sequence was done.  "I have no idea," she answered.

Which convinced me more than anything of the reality my eyes told me: It was real!  There was magic in the world!

And there was, once.  But no more.  Ray Harryhausen, creator of more wondrous sights than any other human ever imagined, died today at the fine age of 92.  The world is a sad place for his passing, but an infinitely better place because he lived.