Monthly Archives: October 2011

Retrospective: Life’s No Fun Without a Good Scare

So rather than give a list that will of course be contested of the scariest movies, books, etc, I think it’s better to give you my Top Thirteen Halloween Pop Culture Experiences. Some scary, some silly, some funny, but all are part of a good Halloween for me. Note there is no torture porn because torture porn is gross. Instead, in no particular order, My Favorite Halloween Treats:

  1. Watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” on network television. We own it on DVD, but it needs to be on television for it to count. There is something sweet and sad at the same time about this world. And who hasn’t literally or metaphorically at some time or other gotten ‘a rock’?
  2. Hearing “Thriller” and “The Monster Mash” on the radio. Yes, I know I can download these, but again, it has to be on the radio, a randomly occurring act, for it to count. It gives me faith in humanity that somewhere there is a DJ who still plays them. And while we’re on the subject . . .
  3. Watching Micheal Jackson’s full “Thriller” video. Remember when music videos were an event? When you did have to Youtube them to see them? Me too. Say what you will about Michael Jackson, but he, like Madonna, knew how to rock a video. It has Vincent Price for crying in the mud! And even though it seems so 80’s now, that make up and dance still totally rock.
  4. The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” episodes. I rarely watch this show, past or present, but there is something fun about this recurring treat each year where you don’t have to understand the world of Springfield to enjoy it.
  5. Halloween. I will confess that I have not seen the Rob Zombi reboot, but I am huge fan of the original. I find Michael the most frightening of the 80’s teen killers (Jason and Freddie, eh). Something about the spray painted Shatner mask, menacing walk, and Jamie Lee Curtis screaming her face off just works for me.
  6. The Shining. I know Stephen King doesn’t care for the Kubric version, but I don’t care for his bloated, self-important television version. The ultimate haunted house film, this is one of those films where the score and directorial choices (maddening steadicam) make the movie.
  7. The Omen. I love a movie with a creepy-ass kid. I love a movie with the Devil. That makes this a win-win. And I am not speaking of the lame remake. Gregory Peck all the way.
  8. Rosemary’s Baby. Women, particularly pregnant women, are prone to bouts of crazy paranoia. What if that paranoia for a damn good reason? Like good scary movies this one also includes comic characters which turn out to be downright freakish (I speak of Ruth Gordon who won an Oscar for her role as a painted, eccentric neighbor.) For the me the scariest moment of all is doctor Charles Grodin’s turn on a woman on the edge of the abyss.
  9. Psycho. It’s become part of our cultural language now, but there is so much subtly and intrigue in the Hitchcock classic, that if you haven’t seen it recently or at all, it deserves a revisit. Note childlike Norman eating candy, the emphasis on shadows and birds, and how Perkins manages to make you feel sorry for the lonely owner of the Bates motel. Granted Janet Leigh isn’t my favorite Hitchcock blond (Kim Novak, please stand up), but her performance is also stellar.
  10. The Nightmare Before Christmas. Halloween movie? Christmas movie? Who knows? Although not directed by Tim Burton, it certainly represents his creation and vibe. What I love best about it is that it is a kid’s movie (kinda) that centers around long soliloquies performed by a skeleton having an existential crisis. It also represents some of Danny Elfman’s finest work.
  11. Carrie. Another King entry, and this time the movie is decidedly better than the book. The manifestation of teenage cruelty and the ultimate mean girl revenge film, it’s scary and heartbreaking at the same time. And admit it, that final moment still freaks you out.
  12. Frankenstein and Dracula. Go old school and search out the guys who knew how to get it done: Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Before the former was The Grinch and the latter was trying to feed his morphine habit in Ed Wood films, these were the original monster men. Keep in mind that they didn’t have the special effects to ‘transform’ them. It’s some grease paint and a ton of talent.
  13. The Exorcist. The original. Not remake, prequel, sequel, blah blah blah. There is so much amazing stuff about this movie that, like Psycho, we often forget in the face of flashier modern versions. Often studied, it remains chilling, in part for the realistic touches. In particular, Ellen Burnstyn’s performance as a mother just trying to help her daughter, is wonderful (but I have a weakness for these types of roles–Toni Collette remains my favorite part of The Sixth Sense). Questions of faith, corruption, God, the Devil, Evil, Good, and the price of a soul are worth considering, even after the credits role. Obviously I have a weakness for things that involve the Devil or possession because: a.) I find the connection between fear and religion fascinating, and b.) I, like the Catholic church, believe that exorcisms can be real. 

That’s it for this time around. Thanks for reading!



Categories: Let Me Entertain You | Leave a comment

Here’s What . . .

Again I must crib from the lovely Mr. Cohen as my midterm week is slamming me. So here are three things I’m obsessed with:

1. American Horror Story on FX–Creepy, engaging, and thought provoking, this show has so much potential and so many interesting places to go. I love a show that really makes you think while entertaining you, leaving you with questions, theories, and hot and cold running chills. Bonus points for the venomously stunning Jessica Lange. I will say that it is especially lovely curled up with a loved one and some popcorn.

2. Work of Art: The Next Great Artist Season 2–I know members of the art world scoff at this bit of reality fluff pretending to be profound. Know what? I don’t care. Simone is fabulous and is now part of my fantasy NYC lunch with Tim Gunn. More bonus points for the girl who, my husband and I believe, is the human incarnation of our border collie. Uber bonus points the artist known as the Sucklord who makes sculptures out of hot pink storm troopers. Yes, those storm troopers.

3. King of Hill reruns–I love and fear King of the Hill not because I can think of a real life person who relates to every character on the show; I love and fear King of the Hill because I can think of MORE THAN ONE real person who correlates with every character.

Stay tuned for a new Retrospective next week.


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Last week my daughter turned 5. It was strange and wonderful, sort of like her. It’s hard to believe that she was ever as small as her younger brother, especially since the past year has seen her grow so much physically and mentally. She’s reading, taking dance classes, and she’s basically a skinny pair of legs with a blone ponytail.

Something else has been dancing around in my mind the past week that is upsetting–Lili is the weird kid. We’ve had hints of it for months in passing things she says. She is confident, rambunctious, and sometimes too aggressive. In essence, not what little girls are supposed to be. Her clothes, although clean, usually knees that are faded from her active life-style. She rarely wears bows and if she does, they’re crooked.

But it’s more than simple tomboy stuff. She says stuff in passing that the other kids (boys and girls) call her crazy. Her teachers praise her imagination, but I have watched her interact with little kids who seem overwhelmed by the wild worlds she’s creating for them to play in. Sometimes, those kids just give themselves over and join Lili in her creations. Then it’s wonderful to observe. Unfortunately, I also see the times when kids run away from her, ignore her, or call her crazy or weird.

Early this summer my husband and I had a serious talk about Lili. Our daughter is very bright. I am not bragging–I think most people who know her would agree. The danger is that her intelligence and spunk must be treated carefully on our part: while she is capable of flourishing under the right circumstances, like an energetic puppy, she can become destructive if we don’t cultivate her in a positive way. There is a fine line that we must walk with her that involves challenging her, inspiring her, and teaching her discipline. This task, for me at least, is all the more daunting in that we have to help her maintain her individuality and spirit while helping her avoid the loneliness of being ostracized.

I’m proud of my weird kid. I just hope the world can be too.

Categories: The Little People and Furry Friends | Tags: | 1 Comment


This week finds my stress at Threat Level: Midnight, so I can sadly not explore a long discourse in my blog. However, I will say that as of late I have been doing a great deal of creative fiction and non-fiction. This interview with Salman Rushdie is an interesting take on the creative process. What about you, readers? What’s your creative process whatever the outlet?


Categories: Life and Other Nonsense | Leave a comment

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