October 5, 2017

My Halloween Obsession

"It's the most wonderful time of the year...🎶" - Me singing about Halloween

It's not about the day itself.  I mean, the most I do on Halloween is hang out with friends and help them pass out candy while drinking mulled wine. And as much I admire cosplay people, ren fair people and those awesome crazy people who dress up because it's Tuesday, I don't do dress-up myself. Although I did love dressing up as a kid and I have several happy Halloween memories caught in photos. There were cute costumes (me as a beauty pageant queen at 5 years old), uncomfortable ones (I got the idea to dress up as a "present" by wearing a cardboard box) and some just totally politically incorrect (why did my Mom think I should be Chinese?)

Cringe. What can I say? It was a different time.

But as much as I've grown up (literally not figuratively), Halloween is still my favorite holiday. It's not the day itself, it's the days leading up to the day itself. Much like Christmas, I view Halloween as a season. For me it's a month of pure unbridled, bloody, horrific JOY.
It's not just because I'm a horror movie lover. I can watch horror movies all year round, and in fact, I actually do. It's the fact that everybody embraces horror this time of year. Like, the love that I have for all things bloody and terrible extends to other people. I can share it without apologies. Heck even my best friend who abhors all horror gets into the spirit by decorating with sugar skulls (although that's probably because she's a Spanish teacher). And I realize that after the season, most people take down the decorations, stop watching the horror movies and go back to their normal lives. Still it's nice to see everyone coming together in peace, harmony, blood, skeletons and vampires. It's a good feeling.

And while I may throw up a tree, a wreath and a few assorted inherited decorations on Christmas, on Halloween I go all out. Yes, I do need to prominently display that vampire nutcracker. Of course the pirate skeleton sits on top of my DVD cabinet because that's his place and I don't care if it looks like it's staring at you with hollow eyes, I like it that way. I treasure these guys more than any lame-ass Santa or pudgy fluffy snowman because let's face it - Halloween IS my Christmas.
Although I do feel the need to apologize to every clerk or sales person in retail stores where they sell Halloween decorations. Because *I* am the girl that goes through and pushes every single button on every talking/dancing/singing Halloween piece because I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT IT DOES! I swear I didn't know that the dancing Mummy was going to sing all the lyrics to Michael Jackson's Thriller. But in my defense, how was I to know it would do that before I pushed the "try me" button? Now let's see what this skeleton with a banjo does....

Also stores like Spirit Halloween open and it's like they know me. There are wicked animatronics everywhere and I'm not happy until I've seen my share of talking statues, skittering devil babies or creepy singing zombie girls. You can keep your pretty ornaments and Christmas-scented candles. These are the things that fill me with delight. And if they happen to shriek, howl, scream or jump at me - that's even better.
So yes while Christmas is a time for family, heartwarming tales and television sitcoms ripping off the  plot of A Christmas Carol or It's a Wonderful Life, Halloween will always be my most wonderful time of the year.

That is, until I get to watch my favorite Christmas special. The one I watch every Christmas Eve -  Billy and Mandy Save Christmas. It's the one where Santa Clause turns into a vampire, and there are little vampire elves, and Malcolm MacDowell plays the head vampire who hums Singing in the Rain, while flossing his fangs. You know, the usual holiday special fare.

You know, come to think of it, I'm ready for Christmas too.

September 18, 2017

The Getaway Part 4: Naples and the Long Sad Trip Home

Okay, this is the final blog post about my Mediterranean adventure and after this I promise to go back to my geeky posts about odd crushes, cool vampires and how the world will end. You know, just normal stuff.

So far we had Barcelona, France and Rome - now it was time for a final taste of Italy before Cinderella turned back into an American pumpkin. I actually was a boring person this leg of the trip because I hadn't booked any excursions for Naples and all the Pompeii ones were taken. Oh well next time. Some of us were still exhausted from our "Heat index over 100" Rome trip so we opted for a nice air conditioned bus tour through Naples.

The tour was fine, a little on the boring side but we got to see some of the city and Naples was chock full of gorgeous Italian people, doing Italian things and living their best Italian lives. Also, they close their shops in the afternoon so that everyone gets some time off to relax and enjoy the day. Why do I live in America again?

Heck, even their graffiti was cool.
And you know what? Whoever wrote that was right. FUCK AUSTERITY. I'm starting a band so we can release that as the title of our first single. Probably won't get any radio play but that's okay because I will not compromise my art.

Before the tour ended we had a chance to stop at a charming café and have a gelato (although I opted for the wine) while looking over the city. And this view was totally worth it, although I DO want to go back and visit Pompeii.
Before I end the Italian part of my trip, although me to indulge with one last picture, which is literally the best picture I've ever taken thanks to a fortuitous photo bombing bird and one hell of a sunset as we left the Italian port. Ciao Italia!🎔
Out last day was the only day at sea and after visiting a different port every day, having a spirited game of putt-putt nightly with family members (we called ourselves the Midnight Putt-Putt Society, although it technically was 1:00 in the Morning Meeting of the Loons), and my general inability to sit still for 5 minutes, I promised myself I would spend the day by the pool relaxing. I'm not really a pool girl, but I thought a little bit of rest would do me good.

My body had other ideas.

That morning I woke up with a horrible, terrible, awful cold. The Gods of Relaxation were smiting me severely. I quickly ran to the store on the ship and paid $21 for a $6 bottle of cough syrup but nothing worked. Rather than sitting in my room (which I should have done) or contaminate a pool whilst being miserable I decided to make myself sicker by not resting. I took in a show (an ice show so it was nice and freezing in there), spent $20 in the casino, walked countless hours around the ship and finished a book (and someday I'll have to tell you about me and my Vampire Hunter D "travel trash" novels). Then the word came that all 52 of us were getting together for a group photo. I don't remember much about it because I looked like hell, was buzzing on cough medicine and was  ready to go to bed at 5pm but I seem to remember I looked a little like this:
I wasn't nearly as pretty though.

The next day, I felt worse and once more, we had to get up early so we could be booted off the ship. They did this by rooms and guess whose had an early departure? Oh well. The rest of the trip home was a blur with various family members asking how I was feeling, except my brother who calmly stated "You look like shit." A fact of which I was well aware and did not need to be informed of. Thank you.

Despite a two-hour stay on the tarmac in Barcelona waiting for our plane to depart, we all made it to our connecting flight in New York - having to go through customs each way and finally home which was, of course, an hour's drive from the airport. The only thing I remember was bringing up the stuff I needed to go to sleep and face-planting into a pillow. Oh and if you've been on Mediterranean time for a week, it will take you a week to adjust back to your normal time. I realized this when I was going to bed at 9pm and waking up at 4am the next week. So that was the sad, sick exhausting end to my trip.

I wanna go back.

August 24, 2017

The Getaway Part 3: Rome (if you want to)

Ciao baby! So far on my whirlwind trip we visited Barcelona and France, not it was time for Italy.

To tell the truth, being such a Francophile I had been more excited to see France. Weirdly enough I had absolutely no expectations about Italy. So please excuse the rest of this post where I positively gush over the country, mkay? I think I'm in love.

Our cruise ship landed in the beautiful city of La Spezia. I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about La Spezia, not that it wasn't one of the prettiest cities I'd ever been in (it was) , it was just that I hadn't booked any specific excursion so instead some of us just wandered around the city and took a few pictures. Had I not been a Janie-come-lately, I probably could have gone to Florence or visited the Leaning Tower of Pisa, where I undoubtedly would have taken the "I'm holding up the tower!" picture. But travel is tough when everyday is another city and you don't want to sleep for fear of missing out on anything. So instead my immediate family and I decided to get off the boat and explore the city on our own. And my god, who wouldn't want to live here?
Keep in mind, this was just a random street but every corner was just as gorgeous. Exactly why am I back in Michigan?

So the only thing of note in La Spezia, other than the fact that it was breathtaking, was that my brother bought pesto from a vending machine there. Yep, pesto, from a vending machine, in a jar. I don't know if he's had it yet, but we all thought it was a bit odd, even for Italy. Although if they had a cannoli vending machine I might change my mind...

La Spezia was just an appetizer because the next day we had the full course meal of ROME! 45 of the 52 members of my group went on a private Rome excursion so that we could see the main sights of the city in the short time before we had to get back on the ship. And here's where the gushing begins folks, because Rome is the most beautiful place I've ever been to in my life and anyone who tells you otherwise is crazy and should be committed immediately for their sake and the sake of others.They are a danger to society.

And people, I may just have a crush on a city.
We had a (luckily) air conditioned bus that drove us the hour long trip to the city. We immediately got off and saw the Colosseum which was breath-taking but sadly we didn't have enough time to go inside. There was a tour guide assigned to us, a cute little Italian guy by the name of Johnny, but he mainly just read out of a book. So the poor dude was being ignored while we took pictures and stared up at the beautiful thing. Sorry Johnny, but ancient architecture won out over your cute but stilted presentation.
And thank god for the new cell phone I got right before the trip, which took great pictures and which I was lucky enough not to drop into the ocean during my travels.

There are a few things about Rome, before I go on. Please, if you can help it, do not go during summer time. When I was there it was 95 degrees with a heat index of well over 100 in a crowded city with a whole lot of asphalt. Also our main tour bus we transferred to was a double decker with limited space at the bottom, so those of us who were not elderly baked up in the hot sun while gaping at all the beauty all around us. It was still gorgeous, but it would have been better had I not been slowly cooking. And with that Italian sun, even the sunscreen didn't help, I had the burned shoulders to prove it. The great thing about being up there though was gawking at all the buildings. Each building had beautiful statues and ornaments on it, and each, I'm sure, had a story behind it. One day in Rome simply isn't enough to take it all in. 
Also, there were many statues set in the buildings and there's a word for those, but I can't remember what they're called and it's driving me NUTS. If you know, please tell me in the comments section and you will be my friend forever.

Another thing about Rome was the street hawkers. They all sell hats and umbrellas but  they're all the same hats and umbrellas which is kind of perplexing since you have 10 people catcalling you to buy the same thing everybody else is selling. We did end up getting an umbrella for my mother (she's extremely fair-skinned and sun causes her to, you know, burst into flames). It was surprisingly well made, so at least there was that. But for the most part we ignored them.

After a few other stops, we stopped to get some pizza al taglio from a small set of restaurants right before we went to the Vatican. Pizza is not exactly sold by the slice as it is sometimes here, but by the cut. You indicate how much you want, they cut it from overall pizza, it's weighed and you pay by the weight. I don't exactly know the name of the pizza I had, only that it had the freshest cheese I've ever had in my life and also, that I am now ruined for other pizzas. Damn you Italy!And again, I'm generally not one to take pictures of my food, but when in Rome...
Afterwards we all had to use the restroom, so our tour guide led us to a nearby Hard Rock Cafe store where a lovely young lady by the name of Francesca let us use their bathrooms and also gave us free bottles of water. Everyone there was super sweet and suspiciously good-looking. And I do have to say that about most people we met during our adventure. Everyone was very kind. Whoever said that Europeans don't treat Americans well must have been jerks, because in Spain, France and Italy, everyone was simply awesome.

I bought a T-shirt (of course) which I found much to my chagrin, was too small, probably due to the fact that I'd been well fed all week. Ah well, it's a good incentive to lose weight. 

Finally we made it to the Vatican. Again, lack of time made it impossible for us to see it on the inside but apparently the Pope was in, even though he wasn't addressing anyone at the moment. Still it was cool to think he was inside there, living his best Pope life and dreaming his best Pope dreams. The outside of the Vatican was extremely crowded with tourists and even more street sellers than the Colosseum - and man, some of them were a bit aggressive. At least I was able to have my picture taken in front of the Vatican and I wasn't even struck by lightning. (I know, I know I'm surprised too...)
After the Vatican we made our way to the Trevi Fountain. To my dismay I found I only had an American penny to throw in and I'm not quite sure how much karma that was going to buy me. Given the exchange rate, probably not much. In fact, I'm probably going to receive a collection notice from the cosmic universe with that offering. So much for good luck!
And while I was there, I had a true Italian gelato from a shop in front of the fountain, because, you know, you gotta.

It was with melancholy relief when we got off the tour bus and onto the regular bus that drove us back to the ship. Melancholy because we were leaving the most beautiful city in the world, and relief because the bus was air conditioned and heat exhaustion was setting in. But I wouldn't have traded this trip for the world. My only regret is that I didn't have time to see more. After all Rome wasn't built in a day, and therefore that's no way to see it.

Next up: Naples and the long, sad trip home.

August 7, 2017

The Getaway Part 2: A Big Ass Boat and France

When last we left I had just left Barcelona and so our party of 52 (yes 52!) got on the lovely Freedom of the Seas for 7 days and 7 nights of non-stop ports, fun, food and adventure.  Few things about the ship:

They have stores and restaurants there and seriously WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? If I want to go to overpriced stores and restaurants I can do that at home. Luckily, our group had a reservation nightly at the formal dining room so we could all sit together and man did I ever miss eating escargot starters when I came home and found all I had in the cupboard was stale cheerios.

All that is forgiven though - because we were on a damn boat set for France, son. Word.
One really cool thing about our cruise was that, since it was international, you got to hear tons of different accents and dialects while on the ship. I made small talk with an older Australian man in the elevator and boy, I could have talked to him all day about absolutely nothing. More about the boat later. Our first stop was Marseilles, France. Different members of our group had booked different excursions but luckily I managed to get onto a tour bus that took us around the city, which was pretty cool. And folks, Marseilles even has it's own Hollywood type sign. Guess who paid for it?
Netflix.

Not even joking. They have a French series called Marseille and to promote it they built a friggin' sign overlooking the city. Out guide told us people who actually lived there were less than impressed by the thing and I kind of agree. You have beautiful architecture and monuments - why muck it up with Hollywood?

So we toured the city and got to see the Notre-Dame de la Garde a beautiful church with an amazing amount of stairs where I learned just out of shape I really am. My ailing Mother stayed behind while the rest of us trapsed about but when I came back, I found her and the tour guide talking animatedly - which is funny because my Mom really doesn't converse with strangers that much. We learned that he was not French but from Portugal, traveled a ton and spoke a great many languages. He also wanted to visit America but said he was "afraid".

Mom: Why?
Guide: Because I travel and I visit Muslim countries recently. I don't know what this Trump person would do to me. I might not make it out of there. I no not why people vote him in.
Mom and I in unison: We hate Trump.
Guide: (looks relieved).

And people, let me tell you - this was a conversation we had all during the trip with people from different countries. Quite a few people told us they were scared to visit America because of Trump. So Trump not only killed democracy but our tourism as well. Screw you Trump!
Luckily most people upon hearing we were Americans were nice to us because it was evident we weren't evil people. Or we hide it pretty well at least. The guide was probably the best guide I'd ever met AND  he'd kept my Mom entertained - I wish he would visit the U.S. sometime, at least to see that we're not all xenophobic assholes.

The next day we hopped along a tender (boat) to Villefranche (Nice) and let me tell you, the water that boat was in was pristine. The Paris Climate Control is a good thing, although one other thing is that seemingly everybody in France smokes. But as my cousin's husband put it "They look so cool." My baby nephew (well okay, he's 15) noted this too, but also added two simple words - "lung cancer".  At any rate, that water was beautiful and clean. Here's a video and excuse my lack of directional skills.

We managed to talk a taxi driver into taking us to Monaco and he even promised to pick us up a few hours later - which he did and was right on time. Whoever said French people were rude must have been rude to them first, because everybody was super wonderful. I wish we had taxi drivers (or Uber drivers) like him in America.

Oh and also, Monaco is the size of a postage stamp. We ate at an pizza eatery there because we had Middle Eastern food in Barcelona, so why not eat Italian in France? We are a backwards people. Anyways we didn't get to see Monte Carlo but some family members made it to the casino, and by that I mean, they were able to get into a lobby but not beyond that. They had to, of course, keep the undesirables at bay. At least there were a ton of cool cars to look at - cars that costs more than their homes.

So France was beautiful and one day I'll make it to Paris, where I will take a room in the hotel looking over the city, smoke many cigarettes, eat many fresh croissants and have many torrid love affairs while writing my memoires and waxing poetic in the style of Voltaire.

But for right now, I'm stuck back in my stale Cheerio life. Sigh.

Next up: Rome! (if you want to)

July 19, 2017

The Getaway Part 1: Getting there and Barcelona

I'm more of a dreamer than a do-er. I don't do a lot of adventurous things. I've never dived off of a rocky cliff, bungee jumped over an Australian rain forest.or backpacked across the moors (because you know, wolves). Also I don't take vacations like I should.

So when my Aunt and Uncle decided that all of the family should go on a Mediterranean cruise together, I was like HELLS YEAH! I'd been on one cruise before and that had been nice, so why not? Plus on cruises there's less chance of being attacked by wolves. Seriously, people - beware the moors. And remember the Alamo. A few of you horror geeks might get this, the rest of you will just be confused, as well you should.

So 52 (52!) of us embarked on our little getaway - a trip that started out in Barcelona and would go to France and Italy before taking us sadly back to our mundane, routine lives. The plane ride was long, but to my delight Delta kept us occupied with snacks and movies. During the 10+ hour travel time, I could have opted for the strong message of Hidden Figures, or the sad poetic drama of Gifted but instead I watched Logan and Lego Batman - because this is me we're talking about. Also I had been placated with Diet Coke and pretzels so that kept me content. I'm a simple girl. 

By the way, that little Logan chick is a serious badass. I want to be her when I grow up.
We stayed at the beautiful Holiday Inn Express in Barcelona because CULTURE! But of course, none of us had slept on the red-eye flight and we had one day there so why not send some sleep deprived Americans out on the street of a beautiful Spanish city? Actually we didn't get in too much trouble. Some of the family and I found a cute little Middle Eastern restaurant because when in Spain, you should not eat the food the country is known for but instead just munch on falafel and hummus, right? It was good, but why oh why did we not opt for tapas? Damn. Next time.
The waiter was a lovely guy who did tell us he "very much liked our Los Angeles". I probably would have thought that way too - except I've been there.

Those of us in the "we don't need no sleep" camp found ourselves in the little coffee shop adjacent to our hotel - El Fornet which, after tooling around the city later in the day, we saw was a chain there. Most of our family members tried to ask questions in English to the poor woman who was overwhelmed by it all so I think she was relieved when I ordered a cappuccino because that's pretty universal and also was on the menu. It took her a good 5 minutes to make though as she steamed the milk, carefully poured it on top of the coffee, then frothed a second tin of milk and slowwwlly added that too. She also smacked my hand away when I tried to get it from her because apparently she needed to add sugar packets and a stirring spoon before the masterpiece was complete. But ladies and gentleman, I have to say that this was the BEST DAMN CAPPUCCINO I'VE EVER HAD. Slow is way better. We Americans need to learn this.
And no that isn't an iStock photo - that was my actual drink. Ain't it pretty?

Revived by caffeine we then decided to go on a bus tour of the city, which was nice but probably would have been better had we not been nodding off in between stops because it had been over 24 hours without sleep and counting. Three things I noticed in Barcelona though. First, everyone on the street seemed to be carrying loaves of fresh bread and I bet it tasted wonderful. Second, there are tons of street artists including one guy who dressed up perfectly as a bronze statue (and I can't even begin to think how long that took) and a lady who could this, while I sometimes find it hard to walk in a straight line on the soberest of days:

Oh and the third thing is graffiti. Lots and lots of graffiti. That was going to be a recurring theme in all the cities we went to.

Somehow we managed to work out the Barcelona subway system and made it back to the hotel and  in one piece without embarrassing ourselves too much along the way. Adéu Barcelona, the next time I see you is when I'm coming home. :(

Next up - our big badass ship and France!

June 23, 2017

Vampires for all!

Let's talk vampires.

Oh I see you roll your eyes. Not THOSE things again. Didn't they, like, die out with Twilight or something? Zombies are where it's at now, sista. Vampires are sooo dead...err undead. Well, who are you to judge me 'person in my head who never actually said this'? You've got some nerve! But also, I like zombies. Zombies are fun. However, zombies are extremely limited. True, you can make them run fast or stagger slow, and their origins vary (disease outbreak, rabid monkeys etc.), but still, they're just zombies. But vampires? Vampires are more versatile.

Vampires are top of mind for me because I recently watched the movie Only Lovers Left Alive where Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton play a stunning vampire couple - she, a bit of a bohemian, and he a rock god. Not gonna lie - Tom alone in tight leather pants was worth the price of admission. It wasn't a traditional horror film though. The vampires in this movie weren't scary, they were sexy. They didn't bite (or tried not to) because they got their blood from other means. If you met them in a dark alley, they wouldn't attack you. They'd just walk right past you because they are the ultimate in cool and you're a troll doll unworthy of their attention.
Not all vampires are sexy though. For example, there's Dracula. You say his name and an image immediately comes up in your head but that image is different for everyone because really it's just a name. Yes, Bram Stoker wrote created the character but that's not the first frame of reference that people generally have. The ORIGINAL Dracula wasn't a mack daddy at all. No, in Stoker's book, Dracula was described as being a repulsive elderly fellow with a mustache and bushy eyebrows. As for the great love affair between he and Mina, well, it just wasn't there. He didn't try and turn Mina because he loved her. He was just pissed off that Harker, Van Helsing and the gang were trying to kill him. In essence he was saying "Fuck you people, I got your woman! Ha!"

Yes, Dracula was a bit of bastard.

But a lot of people don't want to see Dracula that way. They want a gothic Byronic, sexy, mysterious guy. He can be Bela Lugosi, Frank Langella, Gary Oldman...ladies (and some of you gentlemen), you have your pick. Or if you want your vampire to be a scary monster who not so much seduces you as scares the beejeebus out of you - well you can have that too.
I have to admit, I'm kind of torn between the scary and the sexy. On the one hand, as evidenced in my last post about fictional bad boys, the dark and brooding hypnotic villain can be oh so appealing. On the other hand, I love to be scared and a frightening creature, more beast than man, also appeals to me as a horror lover. While Edward from Twilight doesn't appeal to me at all, because I have taste.

So, there's literally a vampire out there for everyone. They can be Stoker or a Rice creation. A tortured soul or an arrogant noble. They can be cruel or kind, disgusting or beautiful. Vampires are for everyone. Vampires are for all.

So, what's YOUR vampire like?

May 25, 2017

Bad Boys

Bad boys, bad boys whatcha gonna do....

Oh bad boys. I've been thinking about them a lot. You see, I recently re-read Wuthering Heights (see the post about my used book fetish). I remember loving the book as a teen when I read it first but years later I love it even more. Why? Because Heathcliff.

Heathcliff is a dick.

He is NOT a good guy, not at all. Some may think of a bad boy as someone who drives a motorcycle and smokes Marlboros with greased back hair and all those stereotypes, but this guy would eat those boys for lunch. He's not the kind of guy you should swoon for. He's downright despicable. He beats up on well, everyone actually. And at one point he hangs his wife's dog. That's right. He HANGS A FRIGGING DOG! Heathcliff abused everyone in his life (men, children, woman, etc.)  And yet...he was so compelling you wanted to read more about him.

If Heathcliff were around today, his doings would make one hell of an episode of Law and Order.

But still there are some ladies who read the book and fall in love with him. Why? Because he's angsty and dark and troubled and bitter and brooding. And because, let's face it, fictional bad boys are AWESOME.
There are several examples of the bad boy in literature, movies and television where horrible dudes doing horrible things are romanticized. Long before anyone knew that Snape was actually an okay guy, there were girls (and boys) writing hot fanfiction about him. And I've known many a grown woman who fell for Christian Grey although I have yet to figure out why. I have never read 50 Shades of Grey nor have I seen the movie and to tell the truth, it doesn't sound entertaining to me in the least. Although what do I know? I mean, I like Heathcliff, so....
Now I know there's some psychology to this, although for the life of me I can't figure out what it is. I'm not a very patient person in real life. I'm super-nice on the outside but if a guy even looked at me cross-eyed I'd probably dump him on the spot. So why do we women - good women, strong women - like these fictional guys that would possibly hurt us?

Because they can't. That's the only answer I could come up with.

There's kind of a safety net there. You can experience all the danger and excitement of a real bad boy with no heartbreak, or you know, actual physical/mental abuse and long-term implications. It's a fantasy of danger without having the visible scars to deal with. And no one gets arrested.

I probably am giving this too much thought. Girls will always have crushes on the fictional, dark, brooding dudes who would drive us crazy in real life. Just as guys will always have their crushes on...bad girls? Feel free to chime in here boys. I'm kind of interested in what kind of fictional bad girls you like, because in my mind they're probably all this:

So there you have it. Bad boys will be bad boys and girls will always love them - albeit from a safe distance. Feel free to chime in below with your fictional "bad crush". I can't judge, because, you know, Heathcliff. ;)

May 12, 2017

Death Entertains Me

Death is awesome. Death is fun. I love death.

Well, not all death. I mean fun death. Like, I don't want anyone real to die, I can't watch the news without crying. And my hope is for your Aunt Martha to make it through whatever ails her so she can live to a ripe old age. But dammit I do enjoy death as entertainment.

My Mom is fond of telling this story. When I was 2 years old, my parents took me to Disney World. They said I was pretty relaxed about the whole affair until we went on the Haunted Mansion ride. Apparently there were a ton of kids my age and slightly above who were scared and crying throughout the entire thing.

Me? I lit up like a Christmas tree.

My Mother (who is not one to embellish stories) said that I clapped and cheered the entire time. I declared that dancing spirits were my favorite thing of anything ever (and probably still are) and I wanted to go through it as many times as they would possibly allow. My parents must have been very patient I guess. I haven't been to Disney World in years but if/when I go back - it's the first ride I'm hitting. 
No one in my family loves horror. No one. I did not get this genetically. I don't know where it comes from. Neither of my brothers like the genre and about the scariest thing my parents watch is the occasional John Wayne movie, although once they somehow got duped into watching Hannibal when it was out in theaters. My Mom originally thought it was about the historical figure (no kidding).

I also don't look like someone who embraces the dark. I don't wear much make-up, I have normal boring brown hair,  no tattoos and only my ears are pierced. I would look out of place at a  any horror convention. The only slightly goth thing I have as décor in my house is a sugar skull trivet I have in my kitchen. (I bought on Amazon as an impulse, but you have to admit, it's pretty damn cute).
In fact, I look like someone who would watch Lifetime and cry at the end of Sleepless in Seattle. I do neither of these things. Although the Korean horror film A Tale of Two Sisters made me weep openly. What a great movie that was (sob...sniff).

There's a tendency by "normal people" and the media to blame murders and the like on horror, to which I exclaim "Bollocks!" mainly because I'm a Yank and that word means nothing here but it's fun to say, and also because I don't think listening to heavy metal, watching horror or loving anything goth in general automatically makes one a serial killer. It's takes years of abuse plus a great deal of time, planning and a whole lot of training to do that. And I'm slightly too well-adjusted. Plus I'm lazy.

Also, when people say that horror movies are terrible I always counter with what I call The Titanic Theory. It goes like this:

   Random Person: Ewww....you like horror? But it's so gross! They show people getting killed!
   Me: Did you like Titanic?
   Person: Love that movie! But it's not horror.
   Me: LOTS of dead bodies at the end of Titanic...(smirk)

Usually they end up arguing that it's a romance, after which I point out that the "final girl" lived, just as in any horror movie, while her boyfriend was killed, also as in any horror movie. Also the great "love lost" scene happened while there were a ton of open-mouthed dead people floating around them. I may not be the most romantic person in the world, but open-mouthed dead floating people doesn't sound all that sexy to me. And of course there's the fact that it was something that really happened and a lot of people died. So there's that. 
In a weird way, horror has become a sort of comfort zone for me. So while everybody's watching the latest comic book movie, I'm watching zombies eat people in some obscure movie I found from 1989. This comfort zone extends to television too. For example, I have never seen Breaking Bad or Mad Men. I have, of course, seen every single episode of Ash vs. Evil Dead.

So I watch what I watch with a smile, no matter how gruesome, because for me people getting killed in various and sundry ways helps me to relax and cope with life. I mean, if somebody's being knived by a deranged killer when all they wanted to do was party in that deserted amusement park where several people mysteriously disappeared 10 years ago on that very night, well - your problems don't seem that bad, do they? 
Until next time, sweet dreams. Or nightmares. You know which one I'd choose. ;)

May 2, 2017

The Sin of Envy

"It seems that envy is my sin." - John Doe

Hey there all! I just want you to let you know that I'm filled with self-loathing and shame. And I blame it on you and your perfect lives.

Cut it out will ya? No seriously stop it.

Actually I'm kind of semi-joking here. But I do have a tendency to get jealous of other people very easily. That whole "grass is always greener" thing certainly applies to me. I'm pretty much convinced that my lawn is a desert with no oasis and an occasional tumbleweed flowing through while everybody else's is a lush green paradise. They have no problems those with the green, perfectly manicured lawns. Everything must come easy to them.

Really if we're going by movie references, I'm Kevin Spacey, and you're all Brad Pitts and I sort of want to put Gwyneth Paltrow's head in a box and then giggle furiously. But then again, it's Gwyneth Paltrow, so can you blame me?
Of course I wouldn't do anything like that. Because, you know, morals. Plus I'm pretty sure it'd be all 'GOOPy'. (Yeah, I just wrote that. I hate myself....)

The thing is I tend to get into ruts. I do the same thing day in and day out. I'm convinced most people are out there living while I'm over here existing. I would love to lead a life of adventure and excitement but for the life of me, I don't know how.

There's a girl I used to work with. We were both trapped in a stifling office. One day she decided to chuck it all and move to the tropics. Just like that. Now she's doing things like captaining boats, sleeping on exotic beaches etc. The funny thing is, someone on Facebook once posted "I wish I led your life" to which she replied "You want MY life? I've never heard anybody say that!"

Wait...WHAT?

It turns out there's a price to be paid for everything. I have really close family and friends I can turn to right here. Her friends are in other parts of the country. I have a home, a place where I can keep things. She doesn't really have a home to speak of and is never quite sure where the next job will take her. It still sounds lovely in my mind, but the thing I'm slowly realizing is nobody's life is perfect.
Everybody's lives look great on social media but sometimes that's not REALLY their lives. After all, we all want to look great to others don't we? I mean I generally won't post a picture of myself with messy hair and a double chin, even though I might look that way at the time. Why? Because I want to look other people to think I look good. We all put out what I call "the highlight reel"- our best selves leading our best lives even though inside we're filled with doubt and insecurity.

So maybe I need to tend to my own lawn a bit, instead of whining about my neighbor's. After all, I usually don't see the amount of time they put into it nor do I see the amount of manure they use to fertilize it. 😉

So that's my sin - the sin of envy. Is it yours too? Or do you have a different one to confess to...

March 29, 2017

Brain Vacation

"I abhor the dull routine of existence.- Arthur Conan Doyle via Sherlock Holmes. Or vice versa. I can't figure out the right way to quote this.

Okay let's be blunt here. We live in trying times, We live in tumultuous times. We live in pretty damn tough times. I guess what I'm trying to say is......

These times suck.

Boy do they suck. They suck so bad they even suck at being sucky. It's just one big ball of suck and then when you get to the chewy center there's a bigger burst of suck. But what can you do? You can march, you can scream, you can tweet in frustration but you also need to practice self-care. The ideal way would be meditation, yoga or a nice vacation. But sometimes you can't afford or get to those things immediately, so do what I do.
.
Take a mental vacation.
You see there are times when I hate everything in the world and everyone in the world (except you dear reader, you're perfection) and I just need to get away and do something different. It's in the times of the most stress (which is pretty much every day) where I need to go elsewhere and so I daydream. I call these my "brain vacations".

I'm a big proponent of daydreams. I consider them necessary, like food, shelter, water and reruns of Absolutely Fabulous. And I have some AWESOME ones. I do things in my daydreams that you  wouldn't be able to do on a real vacation. Unless of course you're going to a place where they specialize in that sort of thing...
Oh Ricardo Montalban - what I would give to hear your awesomely sexy voice talk about car leather once more. Sadly though, that won't happen. Even more sad is the fact that Fantasy Island doesn't exist. Luckily though, I have one hell of an imagination.

Here are some of the things that I have done during these mental vacations:
  • Solved a mystery with Sherlock Holmes
  • Solved a mystery with Sam Spade
  • Hunted vampires in London (a personal favorite of mine)
  • Beat up The Punisher
  • Flew on the airship from Final Fantasy 3/6 (also petted a moogle)
  • Had the de rigueur rock star fantasy - except I suddenly no longer sound like Mary Poppins 
  • Became a pirate captain (who ironically never stole or killed anybody)
  • Had perfect eyebrows
And if you make fun of that last one, shut up, I'm a girl. It will always be my dream.

Do I think they're stupid? Yes. Will they every happen? No - unless a certain Mr. Roarke (ahem) decides to suddenly come into existence and return my calls. But the thing is they help me cope. In a time when all the news is bad, and you wake up, go to work, come home just to do it all over again, it's nice to have a little adventure. Even if it is imaginary.

So where do you want to go on your next  brain vacation? I hear there's open bookings...

March 8, 2017

Geeks Like Us

A couple of years ago a friend of mine called me and asked what I was doing. I replied (quite honestly) "painting my toe nails pink and watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre."

"That's so...you," she replied. "Yeah," I laughed. "I'm such a geek."

Now before you ask, I was watching the original Chainsaw and not that travesty of a remake. Also I have since discovered the beauty of professional pedicures and all that entails, including not splattering nail polish all over light beige carpeting, and trained experts who craftily use tools of destruction against annoying callouses. Sexy.

That phone exchange always stuck out in my mind for some reason. First of all, because my friend knew me all too well, but second, because I thought what I was doing made me a geek. You care about toe nail polish AND Leatherface? It doesn't sound plausible, until you realize that Leatherface occasionally wears a hell of a lot of make-up. I mean, he probably smeared it on using somebody's dismembered hand as a make-up brush, but still....
I wonder if Leatherface ever subscribed to Ipsy? Just a thought.

The thing is, it's easy all too easy to put down yourself for being well, yourself. During our conversation I realized how I sounded. watching Texas Chainsaw instead of some light-hearted rom-com. I felt like the biggest nerd in the world. But what does that even mean? Those who describe themselves as "nerds" will say it's because they like Harry Potter, or comic books, or video games. But that doesn't mean they're the stereotypical nerd with pocket protectors and snorty laughs, it just means they like things.
I, for example, work in marketing and function day to day as a seemingly normal, albeit slightly quirky, type of person. But underneath it all, I'm the biggest horror movie nerd you've ever seen. My DVD collection consists of almost all horror and it's proudly displayed for all to see. Wanna watch Pretty Woman? Sorry I don't have that. But I do have my prized copy of Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things. Let's watch that one.

So, yes in this respect I do consider myself a nerd. Well, I'm also a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan (and helloooo to all my MSTies out there), plus there's my love of weird pop culture. But again, that doesn't mean I'm a stereotypical nerd straight out of an 80s film. It just means there's stuff I like.

The truth is, we're ALL nerds, including you people who think you're not. You don't read comics but live for ESPN and can drop football stats like nobody's business? Congrats you're a sports nerd. Do you go crazy for the latest styles and know 15 exciting ways to dress up palazzo pants? Fashion nerd. There are car nerds and cat nerds and dog nerds and "dogs and cats living together" nerds (also known as Ghostbuster nerds). Let's face it, people geek out over a lot of different things.
My point is this. You shouldn't have to hide the things you love, simply because you feel that it might set you apart or have you branded with the dreaded "nerd" word. Because EVERYBODY has things they love. It's part of what makes you "you". And true, we usually gravitate towards people who like the same things we do, but that doesn't mean you have to call yourself a geek because somebody else doesn't share those interests.

Because we're ALL nerds.

So tell me, what kind of nerd are you?

February 26, 2017

The "Alternative" Oscars


I haven't sat through The Oscars in its entirety in years.

I know, I know...the glitz the glamour, the pageantry, who wore who, I really should be interested, but I'm not. It's not that I don't like movies, I do. But I only like certain kinds of movies.  While everybody was raving about Leo fighting a bear last year, I was proudly stating that I just saw Cherry 2000 for the first time. Also I think the whole thing is sort of dumb, to be honest. 
So apropos of nothing, I made up my own awards for your consideration. The speeches can go on as long as they want to. And if anybody asks, I'm wearing H & M, Levi's and New Balance. Thank you.

Best Christmas Present-Themed Facebook Message with my Brother:

Runner Up: An email I was copied on where my brother said he was going to get my other brother "Paula Deen,wrapped in a bow and nothing else, with a stick of butter in each ear and a few more in other orifices." I wisely stayed out of that conversation.

Best Twitter moment so far: When I realized I was blocked by white supremacist David Duke. Yeah me!!!!!

Best part of 2017 So Far: The lovely Ash vs. Evil Dead gift pack I received from the lovely Starz people. I now have an Ash vs. Evil Dead Lunch Box to go with my Ash vs. Evil Dead beer pong set. Feel free to be jealous.

Runner Up: The day after New Years, which I spent in my PJs, drinking Rumchata and playing Final Fantasy 3 on SNES.

Worst Part of 2017: Everything else.

Best Actress: The blue-haired Barista who pretended to ignore the fact that my laptop headphone jack had come undone and who patiently listened to my boring budget meeting for half an hour.

Best Actor:  Trump, who might look kind of human, but is actually one of the aliens from They Live.

Best Performance Overall: Me on I-75 this week, singing loudly to Gaston's song, complete with pantomime. With the windows down. In February. You're welcome.
 
In Memoriam: (no clapping please)

Dignity, class and honesty in politics
That one sweater I kept from 10 years ago that never came back into fashion
Scott Baio's career (although I think it passed on some time ago)
IMDB Message Boards (that one HURT)
The eggplant I had every intention of cooking, but forgot about in the crisper. I'm sorry.

So that was it, and no I couldn't come up with a cute name for the awards so I just called them "Alternative Oscars". Because they're not the Oscars, but I don't really want to say they're not.

Got any awards or academy-worthy moments of you're own you'd like to share? Categories are open.