Archive for October, 2010

MY TOP 5 SCARIEST MOVIES

October 31, 2010

In honor of Halloween, I thought it apropos to talk about a genre of film I normally don’t give two hoots for – the horror film or “scary movie.”  Not that there’s anything wrong with a good spooky flick, it’s just not what floats my particular celluloid boat. See, I have a pretty active imagination, so I’ll see even the tamest scary movie (Blair Witch Project, for example) and get unnerved by every creak and noise I hear in the apartment late at night for weeks on end.  It’s just not worth it.

So, anyway, here’s a trip fown the macabre memory lane that is MY TOP 5 SCARIEST MOVIES.

5. Psycho. While some might argue (I would) that it isn’t a horror film but a prime example of Hitchcockian suspense, it is still a perfectly well-executed slasher flick.  If you watch it and don’t make double damn sure that bathroom door is locked the next time you take a shower then you aren’t human.

4. The Sixth Sense. Sadly, the big reveal was blown for me mere hours before I went to see this one.  I enjoyed it nonetheless but for weeks – no, let’s be honest – years afterward I couldn’t look in the bathroom mirror without fearing I’d see someone who wasn’t really there walk behind me.  Oh crap, I just scared myself a little.

3. The Grudge. I didn’t even SEE this film and it made the list. I know the original Japanese movie was supposed to be better, but just the bloody commercial for this one  frightened me to my core.  WHAT THE HELL IS THAT THING COMING DOWN THE STAIRS?! I DON’T WANT TO KNOW!

2. The Exorcist. Need I say more?  Convinced myself that I could handle it at age 12.  Wrong!  My pal Chris and I stayed up late to watch it on HBO and I’ve regretted that move ever since.

1. Don’t Look Now. The scariest effin’ movie you’ve probably never heard of. But if you profess to be a connoisseur of scary movies, go get it.  Rent it, buy it, download it now. I won’t go into details but suffice it to say I (and an entire film class) was so freaked out by this thing that I vowed never to watch it again despite the fact that it was and is an excellent film.

Honorable Mention: Shriek Of The Mutilated. The WORST scary movie. Saw it on TV one Saturday afternoon when I was a kid and, even then, I could tell it was atrociously bad.  IMDB describes it as: “A group of college students are led by their professor into the mountains in search of the Yeti. The students start to be killed off one by one.”  I’ll save you the time by [spoiler!] revealing that it’s a cannibal cult that’s behind it all and the final scene is one of the kids being caught by the cannibals as her boyfriend is wheeled in on a tray, all trussed up.  The head cannibal sharpens his carving knives and drolly asks, “White meat or dark?”  No, not even Joel and the ‘Bots could have saved this one.

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TEN MORE BAD THINGS ABOUT HALLOWEEN

October 31, 2010

Like I said: I love Halloween!  It’s the most wonderful time of the year (in spite of what you may have heard in popular song). But like soap on your windows and TP in your yard, there are always things that can dampen your holiday spirits.  Kinda like a rotten apple lurking amongst the Romes in your bobbing tub, here are TEN MORE BAD THINGS ABOUT HALLOWEEN.

Candy Corn.  I come not to bury candy corn but to praise it. Why people want to turn this delicious confection into the fruit cake of All Hallow’s Eve is beyond me.  There’s tons of worse candy out there – Now And Laters, Necco Wafers, Nik-L-Nips and black licorice – to hate on.  Stop with the candy corn defamation.

Frankenberry and Count Chocula. These cereals rule. Yet they are only available during the Halloween season.  Why, General Mills?  Why?  These breakfast monster cereals should be available ALL YEAR ROUND!!!

Homemade Costumes.  Now, as a bloke who’s cobbled together pretty passable costumes for the likes of Flaming Carrot, Ash from Pokémon (complete with Pikachu), Space Ghost and the Legion of Super-Heroes’ Mon-El from materials he found or bought himself, this may seem like an odd castigation. What’s wrong with homemade costumes? Not a damn thing if you did it yourself. But when you’re a kid and mom wants to save a few bucks and decides to make you a Chewbacca costume out of an old mohair coat and some clippings off the family dog, well, you might as well get her to apply the “Kick Me” sign directly to your backside because your preteen ass is getting a whipping from every other kid whose parents decided that ten bucks for a K-Mart Darth Vader costume was a small price to pay for their precious snowflake’s Halloween happiness. I mean, check out this Target ad. 

This kid is NOT happy.  His mother thinks she’s a freakin’ Martha Stewart and is oblivious to her young’un’s shame and humiliation.  And, hey, check the store-bought number.  Sweet!  That thing comes in MY size and I’m Tony bloody Stark’s alter ego come October 31.

Moving Trick or Treating. You can have your blasted Halloween party whenever you like.  You can dress up and show off your Halloween spirit on any blasted day of the week that suits you.  But for the luvva Pete, trick or treating must be – should be – can only be – on October 31!  You move it from Sunday to Saturday and you’re a tool.  No matter what reason you give.  Kids should be able to Trick or Treat on Halloween.

Intricately-Carved Jack-O-Lanterns.  Sure they look neat, but download all the patterns your PC can handle; you will never be able to make it look like it does on TV or in the picture on the kit.  Better stick with triangle eyes and a goofy, snaggletoothed grin.

The Weather.  Let’s be honest. The last day of October is a crapshoot as far as weather goes.  It often rains and it can be chilly.  This doesn’t play much havoc with adult parties but if you’re a kid your way awesome He-Man costume just doesn’t have the same flair with that heavy coat your mom makes you wear.

The Psychos.  Whether the Halloween madmen and criminals exist or not is moot.  Whether anyone ever actually received an apple with a razor blade in it or a popcorn ball laced in LSD doesn’t matter.  The stories are there and they have persisted since that first kid rang that first bell with an alliterative demand for sweets.  And now Trick or Treating is a mere sanitized shell of the grand adventure it once was.  Back in my day, children would swarm the neighborhoods in hordes and mass bands of masked kinder would bang on any door with a jack-o-lantern.  Now-a-days, neighbors must be vetted or Trick or Treating limited to family members only or secure indoor festivals.  I mean, come on!  Halloween’s supposed to be the one day out of the whole damn year that you can and are encouraged to take candy from strangers (thus being the exception that proves the rule).

X-raying the Candy.  Once you’ve given in to the fear, what’s the next logical step?  Taking all that scrumptious unopened candy to the local general hospitale where good-intentioned medicos will zap it with enough electromagnetic radiation to sterilize a rhesus monkey in order to verify its safety.  So, congratulations.  You’ve now replaced the infinitesimal chance of biting into a caramel Red delicious with a Wilkinson Sword inside it with the less remote possibility of getting jaw cancer thanks to the bucket of irradiated candy you’ve just made.

Christmas Decorations. They are already on sale at stores and displayed prominently often right beside the Halloween stuff.  Now I’ve given up fighting the earlier and earlier onset of Xmas in retail – I swear I saw tinsel and ornaments next to the Independence Day supplies this year – but there is just something unpleasant and unsettling about Halloween and Christmas decorations right next to each other in your neighborhood box store.  And bloody hell, NO, it’s nothing to do with holy and/or unholy and how some religious freaks perceive a holiday that long ago became secular vs. a holiday that was never about Satan worship in the first place.  For me, I think it’s what the holidays convey. Halloween is all about fantasy and wish fulfillment … dressing up, candy, being someone you’re not.  And Xmas is all about stress and being uncomfortable… scheduling nightmares, awkward office parties and being crammed in with relatives you’d rather forget.  Stores, keep your Halloween supplies front and center until November 1. Then you can switch ‘em out with Christmas.  Meantime, keep them separate, well apart, ‘cuz ne’er the twain shall meet.

Wiccans.  Okay, yeah, we get it. Nobody likes to be stereotyped.  But you getting all up in arms and indignant because little girls want to dress up as something with more roots in the Wicked Witch of the West than your brand of New Age, Gaia-worshippin’ Earth Love is as ridiculous as the notion that you can be divined by drowning.

Sparky MacMillan is 18 feet of gut-crunching, man-eating terror!

Strength In Numbness

October 30, 2010

“Nothing is so strong as gentleness and nothing is so gentle as real strength.” – Ralph W. Sockman

Wasn’t this the slogan they used to use to hawk Irish Spring?

Trick or Street

October 29, 2010

Can you tell me how to get … how to get to The 50 Most Terrifying Sesame Street Costumes?  Sure, just click on the link and prepare to have your mind blown with insanely bad, awful takes on classic Sesame Street staples.  Seriously, if you never thought Bert could be a serial killer, you sure will now.

THE 13 WORST THINGS ABOUT HALLOWEEN

October 29, 2010

Don’t get me wrong. I love Halloween! The candy, the costumes… well, hey, that’s pretty much enough to make a party in my book.  But like any party, all it takes is one gropey uncle or one spiked punch bowl to make it a miserable experience.  So that’s why I think it’s important to take note of what ruins a good Halloween.  Like the Special Dark lurking in a bag of Hershey’s miniatures, here are the 13 WORST THINGS ABOUT HALLOWEEN.

TV episodes where all the people have costumes far cooler and more expensive than real folks would ever have.  It’s a cool sitcom contrivance: the high school, college or office Halloween party.  It’s topical and can get you a decent promotional push.  But almost every time, the attendees are depicted wearing get-ups that would make even the late Stan Winston envious.  Theatrical make-up, tailor-made costumes.  In real life, it takes lots of time and money to make a really good Halloween costume.  And I’m not talking about taping some candy wrappers and a soda cup to your shirt and going as a movie theatre floor.  Something really cool can cost you big bucks or a good weekend or two if you’re making it yourself.  And yet every Saved By The Bell and 90210 has these kids running around dressed up like they’ve spent eight hours in the make-up trailer preparing to be an extra in Lord of the Rings.

The older trick or treaters.  Me, I stopped trick or treating in earnest when I was 11.  When I was 12, I got dragged along by some friends, even though I insisted we were too old (and I felt way guilty about it).  Still, every year I was in junior high and high school, after all the little kids had come to our door, the older kids would come by – kids my age – and beg for candy.  Most of them had very little in the way of costume, too.  Not saying they were naked, just wearing their every day street clothes and maybe and eye patch or a funny nose they’d hope would pass as a costume.  It was stupid, it was humiliating and these jokers weren’t fooling anyone.  They were past it.

The wanton vandalism. Eggs. TP.  Soaping the windows.  Destroying jack-o-lanterns.  Anyone who’s ever been a victim knows it stinks.  And it’s not as though someone took “trick or treat” as gospel and decided to get even with some old crone who gave them a popcorn ball.  No, they just decided to be punks and have a little fun.  Fun?  Seriously, what are you?  15?  And, if you are 15, grow the hell up.

Spiders.  I  know the decorations and themes are supposed to be scary but enough with the spiders.  I know that no one would have a real bloody skull floating in the punch bowl, but that spider on the table could be real and there isn’t enough candy in the world to make me want to brave a tarantula on the lazy Susan next to the ghost cupcakes.

The lights-outers. I’m not talking about the folks who have their lights out.  Nope, these good people are using the universal symbol of “no trick or treating please” – the unlit porch light.  I’m talking about the goofballs who turn off their porch light out as you walk up to the door!  Happened to me more than once when I was a kid.  Never forgot it and I’ll never understand it.

Bad Dracula impressions.  What is it about a person that makes them want to do an impression badly?  “I vant to suck your blood!”  Guaranteed the idiots who take great joy in doing this have never seen the original 1931 Bela Lugosi film.

Waiting for an adult.  That agonizing time between when you get home and get your costume on and the adult who’s taking you trick or treating gets home and gets ready.  And god help them if darkness falls and you haven’t set out on your trek yet.  Once, when I was about 7, I not only had to wait for my mother to get home but I then had to wait for her stupid boyfriend to come over and take me out trick or treating.  I’m sure the phrase, “But all the good candy will be gone!” was exasperatingly uttered more than once that night.

The Monster Mash. A bad song?  No way. It was cool. The first time you heard it when you were 8.  But ten million plays later, it loses its charm and novelty and makes you want to stab Bobby “Boris” Pickett in the chest with a wooden stake, an act made only slightly less satisfying by the fact that he died in 2007.

“And what are you supposed to be?”  People who don’t get your costume suck.  I’m not talking about people who can’t understand why the sorority girls all dress in green, forcing them to say with sheer glee as if they were the first to ever think of it, “We’re Gang-Green!”  Or those who can’t grasp the obscure TV, film or comic book references that are so esoteric they barely qualify as pop culture.  No, those costumes aren’t meant to be “gotten” by most and that’s why people do it.  No, I’m talking about when you’re six and you go trick or treating and you get to that door with the over-eager dowager who’s so pleased to be getting visitors and she says, “And what are you supposed to be?”  “Lady, I’m six, my mom bought the costume at Woolworth’s.  I’ve got a tail, I’m dressed in fur and I’ve got a cat mask on.  I’m a freakin’ cat!  My brother, the one with the white sheet and the two eye holes, he’s a ghost. And, right now, we’re both this close to knocking your fat arse down and taking all your candy and running.”

Local haunted houses.  Not saying they can’t be fun, but when the Jaycees decide to raise a little money and turn a closed-down Applebee’s into a haunted house for the Halloween season, it’s never really that scary.  It’s guys wrapped in toilet paper and Jell-o brain molds and people jumping out from behind doors.  Dude, I watched The Exorcist when I was 12, you wanna scare me, you better rip someone’s still-beating heart out of their chest with your fist and eat it.  All this is made more disappointing because I’ve seen it done right.  When I was a kid, a group of theatre students every year would rent some old spooky house and do it up and call it Scream In The Dark.  They’d get made up in amazing costumes and make-up and scare the roof off the sucker!  I went every year from when I was 10 to 17 and I was never disappointed. One year, I took a bunch of neighborhoods kids with me, all a few years younger than I was, and they were scared $#!&less!  One had to be led out crying by one of the staff because he couldn’t make it all the way through.  Awesome. 

People who think it’s all about Satan.  First, do some research and study history.  It’s got to do with the Celts and the harvest and a bunch of other crap.  If you think dressing up as Gopher from the Love Boat is evil, you’ve got bigger issues than condemning a holiday that is sod all about the devil and more about getting all the candy you can carry.  And yet every year these righteous holes have their Hell Houses and trunk or treating to keep the good kids away from the bad kids who want to play chicken with the demons by dressing up and going door to door.

The lame stuff.  Toothbrushes.  Bible verses.  Candy apples.  And don’t even get me started on having to go to the hospital to X-ray your candy.

The Paul Lynde Halloween Special. Donny & Marie.  Florence Henderson.  Betty White.  Billy Barty.  Pinky Tuscadero.  Witchiepoo from H. R. Pufnstuf.  KISS.  And the funniest confirmed bachelor the 70s had to offer.  Now, this is true evil!

           Sparky MacMillan will rise out of the pumpkin patch. He flies through the air and brings toys to all the children of the world.

Tee Hee

October 27, 2010

The creepy lady costume used in the Snickers ad is up for auction! Current bid is $600 and bidding ends tomorrow around noon.  Personally, I think it would be awesome to hang around the candy aisle dressed in this getup, but I’m already banned from the Food Lion for not understanding that the Wet Floor sign was a warning and not an invitation.

Yes, In-Deedy

October 27, 2010

Well, it’s getting closer to election time and political placards have sprung up around here like mushrooms after a monsoon. Not just for your major races but for local stuff like city council and such. So, I was sitting at a stoplight the other day and I noticed a clutch of these cardboard banners along the roadside. One in particular caught my attention: it was some bloke’s notice he was running for Register of Deeds.

And I thought: this guy needs to pay hard-earned money to advertise he wants to be Register of Deeds? Seems like he could just show up and get the job. Hell, I’m surprised they aren’t knocking down his door. I mean, what’s up? There’s more than one person who wants this gig? He’s got competition? Blimey, as a taxpayer, I personally don’t give a damn if someone’s keeping track of this stuff on 3 by 5 index cards written in crayon in an old shoebox – it’s REGISTER OF DEEDS for crying out loud! Someone wants the job, they can have it, as far as I’m concerned. What? It takes more than one afternoon to sort that stuff out?

Bloody hell. If you wanna run for office, at least aim your sights on school board; those folks get their name in the paper every now and again by coming out against evolution or for sex ed.

But Register of Deeds? Sweet honey in the rock!! Low self-esteem, anyone? Sounds like someone who was happy being milk monitor when everyone else was fighting it out for class president!

Next, Please

October 26, 2010

Why are we still talking about it?  Who the hell cares?  I was bored with them before they started sucking up all that unnecessary media time.

Basically, here’s ten people, places and things I’m completely sick of…

Wikileaks

Hiccup Girl

Bedbugs

Meat Dresses

The Mid-term Election

Sister Wives

Pumpkin Shortage

That chick from “Gossip Girl.” No, not that one, the other one. No, not that one, the out-of-control one. Not that one … oh, hell, all of them (except for the classy & sexy Kelly Rutherford)

Juan Williams

Clarence Thomas, Clarence Thomas’ Wife, Anita Hill, that Coke can and, yep, even Long Dong Silver

Yes, please, I’ve had up to here with the whole lot of you.  Please deposit your 15 minutes at the same door you should not let you hit you on the ass as you leave through it.

FIVE RANDOM FIVE

October 25, 2010

Five Religious-Themed Comedy Pieces

Abraham & Isaac, That Mitchell and Webb Look

God is Dead, Kids in the Hall

The Bishop, Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Last Supper, The State

The Gospel According to St. John, Rowan Atkison

Five Toaster Faux Pas

More than one Pop Tart in single slot

Allowing that Double Rainbow Guy anywhere near it

Inserting tongue

Throwing it at toddlers

ANY fetish activity

Five Novelty Songs

King Tut (Steve Martin) 

They’re Coming To Take Me Away (Napoleon XIV)

Fish Heads (Barnes & Barnes)

Der Fuhrer’s Face (Spike Jones)

Take Off (Bob & Doug McKenzie)

Five Comic Strip Compilations on My Bookshelf

Calvin & Hobbes

Maxwell the Magic Cat

Bloom County

This Modern World

Little Nemo in Slumberland

Five Movies That Sound Like They Could Be Porn

Gleaming the Cube

Romancing the Stone

The Big Red One

Feeling Minnesota

Driving Miss Daisy

Sparky MacMillan thought the only lonely place was on the moon.

“Ah great. That’s really gonna help me to think!”

October 24, 2010

Hard to believe it’s been 20 years.  One of my fave Kids In The Hall sketches…