Sunday, October 30, 2011

31 Days of Halloween: Rocky Horror

REASON NUMBER SIXTEEN: ROCKY HORROR 
Oh how I love Rocky Horror Picture Show. For years it has been a Halloween staple for me. Rocky Horror Picture show is one of my favorite things to do on Halloween. When I was in high school I took part in the show every Saturday at the local theatre. It was a chance to have fun and get bawdy. And Bawdy I was. Plus how could you resist Frank. While the movie is campy fun, the real reason you attend is the Audience Participation which is more fun than I can tell you.

For those of you who haven’t seen the film (shame on you) the story is this: A criminologist reads from a leather bound report titled “The Denton Affair’ about newly engaged couple Brad Majors (asshole…sorry, habit) and Janet Weiss, who find themselves lost and with a flat tire on a cold and rainy, late November evening. Seeking a phone with which to call for help at a nearby castle, Brad and Janet discover a group of strange and outlandish people who are holding an Annual Transylvanian Convention. They watch, still wet from the rain, as the Transylvanians, servants, and a tap dancing groupie dance the "Time Warp", the film's signature song which you are probably singing to yourself right now. 

They are soon swept into the world of Dr. Frank N. Furter, a bizarre and self-proclaimed "sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania". The ensemble of convention attendees also include servants Riff Raff, his sister Magenta, and a groupie named Columbia. Frank claims to have discovered the "secret to life itself". In a scene inspired by the classic Frankenstein films, his creation, Rocky Horror, is brought to life. The ensuing celebration is soon interrupted by Eddie, an ex-delivery boy and partial brain donor to Rocky, who rides out of a deep freeze on a motorcycle. In a jealous rage, Frank corners him and slaughters him with an pickaxe.

Brad and Janet are shown to separate bedrooms, where each is visited and seduced in turn by Frank, posing as the opposite. Janet, upset and emotional, wanders off to look for Brad, who she discovers is with Frank via a television monitor. She discovers Rocky, cowering in his birth tank, hiding from Riff Raff, who has been tormenting him. While aiding Rocky Horror, Janet seduces him, while Magenta and Columbia view the seduction from their bedroom monitor. After discovering that his creature is missing, Frank, Brad, and Riff Raff return to the lab, where Frank learns that an intruder has entered the building. Dr. Everett Scott, Brad and Janet's old high school science teacher, has come looking for his nephew, Eddie, but Frank suspects Dr. Scott of working for the government investigating UFOs.

Rocky and the guests are served dinner, which they soon realize has been prepared from Eddie's remains. Janet runs screaming into Rocky's arms, and is chased through the halls of the castle by a jealous Frank. Janet, Brad, Dr. Scott, Rocky, and Columbia all meet in Frank's lab, where Frank captures them with the Medusa Transducer, a machine which transforms them into living statues, and then forces them to perform in a cabaret-style floor show.

The performance is interrupted by the appearance of Riff Raff and Magenta, who stage a coup and announce their plan to return to the planet Transsexual. After explaining to Frank that he is not going back with them, they kill him, and in the process also kill Columbia and Rocky. They release the remaining earthlings — Brad, Janet and Dr. Scott — warning them to leave; after they do so, the entire castle takes off into space to return to the planet of Transsexual, in the galaxy of Transylvania.

The narrator then finishes the film by concluding that man is alone—insects crawling on the planet's surface.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

31 Days of Halloween: Vampires

31 Days of Halloween: Vampires, Monsters and Ghosts…Oh My (Vampires)
REASON NUMBER FIFTEEN: VAMPIRES So what is it about vampires that just trips my trigger? Vampires back in my childhood were either of the tall dark and alluring (Bela Lugosi) or the oh crap please don’t eat me (Nosferatu). Then I started reading about them whether it was legends from around the world, thank you Time Life: The Enchanted World and thank you Mom, or Anne Rice. As I grew older of course the sensuality began to creep in, the ideas of living forever, of becoming a predator instead of prey or maybe just being the prey for one night. Then we had the biting and the fangs, something I still love to this day, what can I say. As much as I like the uber sexy aspects of vampires, I also dig the scary ones too. But in all, I just dig them. 



Kindred: The Embraced
" No, because every time I mention this vampire stuff you act like I am crazy. Now there is two possibilities for that... number one...you don't believe that they're real...and number two...you know they are."-Frank Kohanek
Kindred: The Embraced aired for a short time centering on the lives and loves of the vampire society of San Francisco. With a fantastic ensemble cast Kindred really deserved to last longer than its 8 episode run or at least that is my opinion. Loosely based off of White Wolf’s vampire: The masquerade RPG the show was a little gothy and little soapy, but what would you expect Aaron Spelling. The story itself centered around five clans of vampires that were fighting to control modern day San Francisco: The Ventrue (the aristocrats and businessmen), The Brujah (thuggish mobsters), The Gangrel (nomadic loners), The Nosferatu (shadowy, disfigured and well just like you are imagining) and The Torreador (the artists and musicians). They live among humans and interact as if they were human. In fact as Julian Luna once said, "We are all around you."

The Ventrue clan, ruled by Julian Luna (the late Mark Frankel), held the most power among the five clans mostly due to the fact that Julian was the Prince of the city and reigned over all of the clans in the city. The other clans leaders formed the Conclave, a ruling council and there were constantly usurpers to Julian’s reign like Eddie Fiori (Brian Thompson) from the Brujah Clan. The Conclave's main rule was to govern the rest of the clans and to maintain the Masquerade. The Masquerade itself was a set of rules, the most important being that their true nature was to be kept hidden from humans. To break such a code was to mean a Blood Hunt and your Final Death. Problem is human police officer Frank Kohanek (C. Thomas Howell) figures out the Masquerade and tries as hard as he can to both understand and bring down Julian whom he believed was to blame for his girlfriend Alexandra’s death who was also Kindred. Insert plot lines that involved a Juliet and Romeo sort of theme, a romance between Julian and a human reporter, and exploring what it really means to be immortal, I thought it was a great show. Though it differed quite a bit from the roleplaying game, as I said I was a happy camper and would let Julian Luna or Cash bite me whenever they damn well pleased. It looked like it was doing okay, but sadly Mark Frankel, was killed in a motorcycle accident and ultimately halted any chances to continue.

Anyone else remember the show?

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Countess Bathory : I own a lot of action figures…remember I be a girly geek. But one of my favorites is this Countess Bathory figure. Some say she was a vampire. I saw she was one twisted bitch who was afraid of getting old. Her story is this: Elizabeth Bathory (1560-1614) lived near where modern day Brtslava is. As a child she was known to fits of rage which apparently continued as she grew older. Married young she was often left for long periods of time as mistress of Castle Sarvar and it was during this time she began to let the evil flag fly. It began by disciplining the young female staff. For example she would stick pins underneath fingernails or execute those who disobeyed or angered her by stripping them and throwing them outside in the middle of winter where they were then doused with water until they froze. Of course when it was summertime she would choose honey and then have them bitten by insects. As stories say she is also famously known for bathing in the blood of her victims which was said to keep her young and beautiful. Sadly the Countess decided to start preying on some of the local nobility which eventually led to her arrest. At her second trial a ledger was introduced, written by her own hand, that noted over 600 victims. Of course on film Countess Bathhory may be best well known when she was played by Ingrid Pitt in the Hammer Film Countess Dracula (1970). You gotta love her.

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The Tales of Alisa Perne : So yeah I am still a fan of Christopher Pike even after all of these years and would gladly be part of the Christopher Pike Book Club. He had a series of books in the 90’s called the Last Vampire which had a young woman named Alisa Perne who believed that she was the last living vampire. Appearing to be 18 and living a life of young wealthy teenager, Alisa was not affected by the sun, holy objects or garlic. She was strong, fast, with acute senses, regenerates quickly from wounds and needs to feed weekly. Over the course of six books, Alisa not only explored her own history as young woman named Sita in ancient India, but encountered old enemies, made new vampires, became human, had a daughter and more. I totally dug those books.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

31 Days of Halloween: Day of the Dead


REASON NUMBER FOURTEEN: DIA DE LOS MUERTOS 
As a kid growing up and now as an adult Halloween was as much about the new traditions as it was the old. When I was a kid Samhain was about our family remembering loved ones who have died. In Mexico it’s a national holiday. Taking place on November 1 and 2nd in connection with All Saints Day and All Souls Day it is a celebration of the dead. It also happens to coincide with the Aztec belief that the souls of the dead returned to Mexico with the migration of the monarch butterflies each Autumn. I think what is great about the Day of the Dead s how truly joyous it is. There are parades and costumes, sugar skulls and flowers, skeletons and puppets, family altars and visiting the graveside to not only do necessary weeding and such, but to sit up with picnic baskets and music. For me Dia de Los Muertos reminds me of the dummy suppers and the fond memories we had about those before us instead of making the dead scary.

I have never been to a celebration for Dia de Los Muertos but I would like to some day before I too pass from the mortal realm. One thing I am going to do this year though is make some day of the dead calavera or skulls for the house. Michaels also has these great little sugar chocolate skulls molds that I might be so inclined to make and then decorate for the peeps at work. We shall see. I still haven’t finished making my costume yet.

Friday, October 21, 2011

31 Days of Halloween: Corn Mazes

REASON NUMBER THIRTEEN: CORN MAZES

I love corn mazes. Actually I love mazes in general. It’s the trying to find your way out, the confusion and the fun, and then hopefully beating your little brother out so you can hang it over his head. And possibly get a prize while I am at it. Now corn mazes are a product of Halloween and Harvest festivals and kind of ingenuity by farmers let’s face it ($8 per kid or adult to run around like idiots for an hour or two. They have to be making bank).

My sister and I would have so much fun going out to the local maze, it wasn’t scary though corn mazes do bring up films like Children of the Corn, Signs and more. There is something fun to go dressed in black and slink around a corn maze with your friends with only the moon above and your flashlight to light your way. Get all the clues, stickers, etc and a cup of cocoa or candy will be waiting for you at the end. And if you are like my friends and I who are also armed with a camera you re-enact the Blair Witch Project or this year make some Velociraptor heads, put them on sticks and go all Jurassic on the corn maze. Hilarity has to ensue.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

31 Days of Halloween: Graveyards

REASON NUMBER TWELVE: GRAVEYARDS

Cemeteries are a beautiful thing. Maybe it is a bit morbid, but I find them exquisite. And yet when I die, I don’t want to be part of one. Weird I know. But I am one of those people that will walk through a cemetery to see the names, say them aloud in my own way remember them. I think they are peaceful and full of such rich history and beautiful monuments. I have been to quite a few cemeteries in my lifetime from Salem to New York, to England and to the top of an old hill in Virginia City, Montana.


For some reason during Halloween it is more okay to go over to cemeteries. Day of the Dead certainly helps, but there are also graveyard tours as well. I’ll get to Dia de los Muertos later, but for now here is a beautiful picture of Highgate Cemetery.

31 Days of Halloween: Apples

REASON NUMBER ELEVEN: APPLES


Halloween holds a special place for me not just because of the macabre, but of the things I used to do as a child, customs and games, outings to the orchard and the yumminess of a caramel apple. Apples tend to be in there prominently. When I think of Autumn, apples are just there. You pick them over at the orchard which in itself is a day full of hay rides, hay bale mazes, turkey legs, kettle corn, fresh apple cider and loving all things Harvesty. For Halloween there is apple bobbing and caramel apples, but there were also the apple divinations my mom and I used to do. Plus apples are just yummy.

Apple Cider Recipe:
I love Apple cider. Add a bit of spiced rum and you are set.

Ingredients:
• 6 cups apple cider
• 1/4 cup real maple syrup
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• 6 whole cloves
• 6 whole allspice berries
• 1 orange peel, cut into strips
• 1 lemon peel, cut into strips

Directions:
1.Pour the apple cider and maple syrup into a large stainless steel saucepan.

2.Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries, orange peel and lemon peel in the center of a washed square of cheesecloth; fold up the sides of the cheesecloth to enclose the bundle, then tie it up with a length of kitchen string. Drop the spice bundle into the cider mixture.

3.Place the saucepan over moderate heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cider is very hot but not boiling.

4.Remove the cider from the heat. Discard the spice bundle. Ladle the cider into big cups or mugs, adding a fresh cinnamon stick to each serving if desired.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

31 Days of Halloween: Ghosts

31 Days of Halloween: Vampires, Monsters and Ghosts…Oh My (Ghosts)
REASON NUMBER NINE: GHOSTS

“Nor crown nor coin can halt time’s flight
Or stay the armies of the night
King and villain, lad and lass, 
All answer to the hourglass”

Ghost: A Spirit of the dead. Archaically it meant the animus or disembodied soul.

There are lots of things that are amazing about Halloween, but the different creatures…oh yes they truly make the season. Ghosts are some of my favorites. Now every culture has ghost stories whether it is the ghost stories from two thousand years ago or from last fall when the friend of a friend was sure they saw a ghostly apparition on the way back from that Halloween party you went to. But ghost stories are definitely part of our culture. When I was a kid my mother would have dumb suppers for our past ancestors (a place setting at the table for those who have died) on Halloween. It was just something we did and in that way ghosts weren’t scary. They were just grandma and grandpa. As I got older I always wanted my very own Casper. An invisible playmate that just happened to be dead (okay I wasn’t thinking about the dead bits). Then I continued to grow up and suddenly ghosts were scary. I loved telling ghost stories. I loved hearing them. There is something about sitting in a darkened room or around a fire trying to scare the shit out of one another with the scariest tale you can come up with. Even better when you try to be your very own Ghost Hunter production armed with your wits and a flashlight.

Now I don’t know if you believe in ghosts, but I do. Maybe it is due to an overactive imagination or my spiritual beliefs, but I believe in them. But I won’t go into all of that, because during Halloween ghosts take on a different joy than the rest of the year. As much as I celebrate the spirits of the dead, I also love to be scared.

The above photo is the Brown Lady and is probably the most famous ghost picture ever taken. The image reportedly shows a ghost descending a staircase at Raynham Hall. It was captured by photographers Captain Provand and his assistant Indre Shira while photographing the historic Raynham Hall for Country Life Magazine in the late afternoon of 19th September, 1936. The story goes is that the woman in the ghost picture is the ghost of Lady Dorothy Townsend. Lady Townsend lived in Raynham Hall Mansion in Norfolk, England in the 1700's. It is said that Lady Townsend's husband, Charles Townsend, suspected his wife of being unfaithful and even though she is listed as having been buried in 1725 many people think that her death and funeral were faked. Instead, Lady Townsend was locked away in a remote part of the house until she passed away some years later. Ever since then she is thought to be haunting Raynham Hall.

Do you have any ghostly stories to tell? Do you believe in ghosts? Have some great ghost movies or ghost books to share? Please do.

31 Days of Halloween: The Worst Witch

REASON NUMBER TEN: THE WORST WITCH


Like I said earlier in the month I dig Halloween specials, but there was one particular one that I looked forward to every year. The Worst Witch. Airing on HBO when I was a kid it starred Fairuza Balk who I knew from the Return to Oz and Tim Curry whom I had yet to put him and Pennywise together as the same person. 

Mildred Hubble is the worst witch at Mrs. Cackle’s Academy for Witches. Her cat is different than other cats (he’s afraid of riding on her broomstick). She can’t correctly mix her potions or remember all the ingredients to spells everyone else can get. And no matter what she does or where she goes she inevitably brings mayhem with her the way a 12 year old witch can do. As Halloween approaches all the students and teachers are excited that the Grand Wizard himself will be there to watch their broomstick displays. Sadly Mildred has her own nemesis not in the form of Draco Malfoy, but Ethel who could be Malfoy’s cousin or sister who bewitches her broomstick and ruins the entire display. Of course Mildred runs away, but in doing so comes across a horrible plot of evil witches who plan to take over the school. Will Mildred save the day and prove that she is not the worst witch?

Now understandably I understand how bad this is, but how I don’t give a frak due to nostalgic reasons and just how much I still love it. The acting is basic, the plot just amusing and the special effects worse than Tom Baker’s Doctor Who. But I think that is why I still love it. Plus you have the Halloween song in which you discover that there are more things to rhyme with Halloween than you remember. Come on now, sing with me:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hero

Hero

Written by: Perry Moore

Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Hyperion
Language: English
August 2007, $7.99
Genre: Young Adult/Superhero



The last thing in the world Thom Creed wants is to add to his father's pain, so he keeps secrets. Like that he has special powers. And that he's been asked to join the League - the very organization of superheroes that spurned his dad. But the most painful secret of all is one Thom can barely face himself: he's gay.

But becoming a member of the League opens up a new world to Thom. There, he connects with a misfit group of aspiring heroes, including Scarlett, who can control fire but not her anger; Typhoid Larry, who can make anyone sick with his touch; and Ruth, a wise old broad who can see the future. Like Thom, these heroes have things to hide; but they will have to learn to trust one another when they uncover a deadly conspiracy within the League. To survive, Thom will face challenges he never imagined. To find happiness, he'll have to come to terms with his father's past and discover the kind of hero he really wants to be.


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Even after I read my first comic book I was always wondering what would be my superpower if I could have one. I always drawn to Storm and her ability to control the weather or in recent years I think being a memory mimic would be cool. You could fly, you can have the ability of the elements like fire or water. You could be invisible. But what would you do with those super powers. If you had a choice between flying or invisibility which would you choose and why? Would you choose to be invisible so you could spy on neighbors or get into places you shouldn’t. Would you choose flying so you didn’t have to sit in mid-town traffic? Would we choose one or the other because we knew we could use it for good or for selfish reasons? Would you be one of the good guys or one of the villains? I think what is great about superheroes is the lack of normality, that there is something unique and special about you. That you are different and that people can look up to you. Who wouldn’t want to be a Wonder Woman or a Batman? Would you have a secret identity? Would you go solo or have a League?

Finn chose Hero by Perry Moore this month for book club and I couldn’t help but think about all that encompasses being a superhero when I began reading it. Thom is a basketball star and volunteer with kids, but he has some secrets. One: his dad is disgraced superhero Major Might who is responsible for one of the worst tragedies, Two: He may have some superpowers of his own, and Three: he’s gay. It all begins during a basketball game when a rival player gets injured. Drawn, he tries to help and discovers that he can heal injuries. At the same time a player winks at him and stirs up emotions. When Thom unwittingly begins both a victim of a crime and a hero, he gets asked to be part of the League, the same League his father once was part of. Hero thus unfolds as both a coming of age story for a gay teen entwined with a comic book superhero story.

Things I loved: I loved how multi-dimensional this book was. It was more than a superhero story, or a love story, a coming out story or a story about a son and his father. Now it is not without its faults, but I enjoyed it overall. I like Thom. He’s a good kid who is not struggling with being gay, it is just something he knows and feels, but struggling with how the rest of the world is going to perceive him because of this one thing. Now for me and those who have read it as well, what race did you see him as. There are a few clues, but I think Thom is black, but other than a few comments there is never a description. Because it doesn’t really matter. But being gay seems to matter. Even when he is among his rag tag group of probationary superheroes all with some pretty hefty secrets of their own, Thom still feels like an outsider, like it is not okay to be and let everyone know who he really is. But for the most part Thom is normal. He looks at porn, spends hours outside the local gay bar before having enough courage to go inside, he has a first kiss, he makes mistakes. Thoms voice in the first person narration is strong and well developed.


I love all of the intended homages to the superheroes of my youth. And they have to be homages. For Warrior Woman from her island far away and her lariat is so obvious that it cannot be anything but intended tribute. Just as I love to figure out the voices of actors when they do animated films, I loved trying to figure out all of the different superheroes that Moore was referencing. It made my girly geek happy. Though Moore was obviously a DC Comics fan.

I loved his superpower. The ability to heal others. It may start off small, healing an injury, a grievous wound, but then realizing that healing others pain makes you stronger and that you can harness that ability is awesome. But I think that realization that pain doesn’t always mean a bloody wound means a lot.

I liked a lot of the secondary characters. Ruth especially. While I don’t want to give things away, she made me laugh and cry. Being able to foretell the future is a bitch.


I liked the relationship between Thom and his father. Sometimes they both make some bad choices. They make mistakes, they try to atone for them. And their relationship is a complex one. It doesn’t help that Thom’s mother disappeared from their life leaving them both to mourn and try and figure out what the hell they were doing. Thom has his own misconceptions about his dad, just as Thom’s father has some about him. They are both trying to live the only way they know how. Those bits of the story were great.

Things I didn't love so much: Maybe it is naïve of me, but I think that being gay would not result in such a ridiculous and stereotypical level of homophobia. Graffiti, Being kicked off of the Basketball team when you are a star player, and burning things into lawns is a bit overdoing it don’t you think? Now I know we have a long way to go when it comes to gay rights and not making it an issue, but I think we are getting there as slow as it is which can be intensely frustrating. One of my best friends is gay and I have another who is transgendered. We live in Montana where most people still think we have bears as pets and don’t understand what technology is but for the most part we have not had any trouble. That has to say something right? And as much as I feel like they didn’t make an issue about his race perhaps, they did make it about his being homosexual. It’s as if in some ways it is his only character trait. But then again this is from Thom’s perspective. Perhaps he feels it is only defining quality and people will judge him by that alone just as he judges himself. Maybe that is what this story is really all about learning to accept who you are on all levels not just one, when you fight to be accepted for all that you are and for the things that are important to you and that there is more out there than just your tiny little slice of life.

I will say that the prose is nothing special and action scenes are definitely not his forte. The action writing was sloppy, confusing and filled with far too many mistakes and plot holes simply because he skimps on writing these scenes with as little detail as possible.


Buy or Borrow: Buy. Or at least borrow.

Part of: Stand Alone

Also Recommended: I would recommend Ash by Malinda Lo, Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan, Devils Cape by Rob Rogers, Superpowers: A Novel by David Schwartz and Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines.

3.50 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

31 Days of Halloween Extra: She Wolf

SHE WOLF


I am a TV junkie. Been that way for a while. Now there have been lots of supernatural shows that have come and gone over the years, but She-Wolf was one of my favorites for some odd reason. Right up there with Friday the 13th the series which I will get to later in the month.

Aired in the early 1990’s She Wolf centered on Randi Wallace (Kate Hodge) an American student who is studying abroad in London with famous mythology scholar Ian Matheson (Neil Dickson). Of course it wouldn’t be called She Wolf of London unless poor Randi has her own American Werewolf in London experience with a werewolf on…you guessed it the moors. The series followed the two not only trying to find a cure for Randi’s lycanthropy but seemed to encounter every supernatural mystery and creature that they could possibly find along the way. Which I was okay with.

It was funny as much as it focused on the baddies and had the romance of Randi and Ian which a young teenager like me totally dug. It was just fun. Admittedly it was a bit on the camp side and the effects were what you would expect from a syndicated show in the 90’s. But I wasn’t expecting anything amazing. Remember I also loved shows like Friday the 13th the series, Highlander, Poltergeist: The Legacy, Baywatch Nights with Angie Harmon and Crow: Stairway to Heaven as well as USA’s Silk Stockings. And let’s face it sometimes I still don’t need all the bells and whistles, I just want to be entertained. Eventually the show moved from London to Los Angeles where it became Love and Curses. Ian became a talk show host that explored all things occult and Randi and Ian still searched for a cure.

Did you ever watch it? Or was I one of the few? Have any other genre shows you really miss watching from when you were younger?

Monday, October 17, 2011

31 Days of Halloween: Candy

REASON NUMBER EIGHT: THE CANDY
Another reason Halloween is such a wonderful holiday is the candy. Once you get past the fact that our parents always told us not to take candy from strangers than implicitly told us to go beg for it one day a year, you realize how great the candy bounty was. And you’re expected to eat all of the candy, fill pillowcases full of it and then lapse into sugar comas and no one really judges you for it. Occasionally you will get someone to add in the non-candy treats like a toothbrush and those tablets you chew so you can see where you brushed and did not brush, coinage, apples, stickers and more. Let’s face it we enjoy being candy gluttons. Actually we like being gluttons all through the Autumn season…Thanksgiving anyone? This is the kid precursor.

As a kid you scoped out your favorite houses and neighborhoods, always making sure to go to the ones that carried full size candy bars (Butterfingers were always my favorite) instead of the bite size ones or had little treats like soda (because we didn’t always have a lot of it in our home so it was a treat). You bargained with your friends or in my case my little brother for the candy you wanted, hoping they would trade with you. It was and still is an awesome holiday.

My Favorite Candies 
Mary Janes: These little delights are a mixture of a peanut butter and molasses flavored taffy with peanut butter in the center

Bit o Honey: The candy consists of almond bits embedded in a honey-flavored taffy

Chick o Stick: Chick-O-Stick is an orange stick of varying length and thickness, dusted with ground coconut. The interior of the stick is honeycombed with peanut butter and the orange hardened syrup/sugar mixture that also forms the shell.

Butterfinger: Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger

Snickers: It satisfies

Reeses: Best invention ever = chocolate and peanut butter


Skittles: Taste the rainbow my friends. 


Blow Pops: Sucker and gum


Flavored Tootsie Rolls: I like the orange ones


Laffy Taffy: cause of the bad jokes


Baby Ruth: I blame it on the Goonies

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Baby Ruth Knock-Off 
I am not a big fan of candy corn in general, but what I do love is Candy corn and peanuts together. Put them together and you have a Baby Ruth. It’s awesome.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Seven: Vampire's I'd Let Bite Me

I can’t help it. I dig vampires. And when I say vampires, I do mean fanged ones that don’t sparkle, though Robert Pattison can be very pretty sometimes. So here is my top seven vampires in film and television that I would let bite me.


One: Lestat from Queen of the Damned
I know it is a bad film, but look at him (plus the film is still one of my guilty pleasures). Would you really deny a bite from him? Plus he has those hip things that make smart girls like me go stupid, encased in leather. And to be honest he did okay in playing the rocker Lestat, at least about as much as Tom Cruise played the Brat Prince aspect.


Two and Three: Spike and Angelfrom Buffy: The Vampire Slayer
James Marsters again has those hip things that may my mind go all fuzzy. Plus I love Spike. I loved Spike when he killed the Annoying One, I loved his love for Dru and I love that he is a snarky anti-hero for the ages. I would have no problem letting him bite me at all. Same goes with Angel. I wouldn’t even mind a Spike/Angel sandwich.


Four: Henry Fitzroy from Blood Ties
I loved the Books of Blood and while this short lived television show didn’t quite stick with the books, I dug Henry all the same. Plus in the show he was a graphic novelist (rather than romance novelist).


Five: Dracula from Dracula 2000
Its a fairly bad movie, but I still own it. You do have Gerard Butler, Judas theme. Yes please. Plus Nathan Fillion cameo in the film as a priest. Which I would really like to do a Thornbirds with. A lot. Judge me as you will.


Six: Eric Northman from Tru Blood
You just have to look at the picture. Viking vampires at their best.


Seven: David from the Lost Boys
He was kind of a bad ass. Evil vampire gang and all.

Honorable Mentions
Bela Lugosi's Dracula, Alec Newman as Barnabas Collins from the unaired Dark Shadows remake from 2004, Louis from Interview with the Vampire, Damon Salvatore from the Vampire Diaries, Jude Law from the Wisdom of Crocodiles. And Evil vampire Willow from Buffy because its Aly Hannigan. Wouldn't you let her bite you too?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

31 Days of Halloween: Scary Movies Part Two

REASON NUMBER SEVEN: SCARY MOVIES PART TWO
So we had some lesser known horror films that I love, here are a few more and why I love them. Some of these may be a bit more familiar and still completely worth watching as far as I am concerned.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Plot: Brain-hungry zombies shamble through the streets of London, but all unambitious electronics salesman Shaun (Simon Pegg) cares about is his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), who just dumped him. With the help of his slacker roommate Ed (Nick Frost), Shaun fights his way across town to rescue Liz, but the petty concerns of life keep getting in the way: When they're trying to use vinyl records to decapitate a pair of zombies, Shaun and Ed bicker about which bands deserve preservation--New Order they keep, but Sade becomes a lethal frisbee.
Why It’s Good: I had to have at least one zombie flick in here and despite my love for Raimi and Romero, Edgar Wright is my hero. I love this film. It’s brilliant in its hilarity and snark. It has great performances by all involved and while playing with the genre, manages to do everything it is supposed to do without being too over the top. If you haven’t seen this film, shame on you.


House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Plot: Vincent Price stars as a deliciously silky millionaire married to a greedy gold digger (Carol Ohmart) who refuses to divorce him. When he turns his wife's idea for a haunted-house party into a contest--$10,000 to whoever will spend the night in "the only truly haunted house in the world"--it seems he may have found an alternative to divorce. Five strangers gather to test their stamina, Price hands each of them delightfully twisted party favors (loaded handguns, delivered in their own tiny coffins), and the spook show begins.
Why It’s Good: I have to have at least one of Vincent price’s movies in my list if it is Halloween season and this is one of my favorites. Though I also own and have a soft spot for Dark Castle’s remake with Geoffrey Rush, CGI inkblots ruined it for me. Is it terribly scary? No. Most of it is just campy fun and I would have loved to have seen this back in the day when the skeleton flew at you from the screen. But it has some great witty banter between Frederick and Annabelle and the ending leaves it up the viewer on what really happens in the end. Which I love. Again no horrid ink blots that ruin a perfectly good film.


The Frighteners (1996)
Plot: In the sleepy little town of Fairwater, a monstrous evil has awakened...an evil so powerful, its reach extends beyond the grave. For Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox), death is a great way to make a living: ridding haunted houses of their "unwelcome" guests." But he's in cahoots with the very ghosts he promises to evict! It's the perfect scam...until Frank finds himself at the center of a dark mystery. A diabolical spirit is on a murderous rampage, and the whole town.
Why It’s Good: Peter Jackson (yep of Dead Alive and Lord of the Rings fame) directed this little gem that is part black comedy, part horror and part thriller. The performances are great especially Jeffrey Combs’ demented little agent. I find it clever and a great little blend of elements. Plus it has few minor chills and I love Michael J Fox. He’ll always be my Alex P Keaton.


1408 (2007)
Plot: The cynical and skeptical writer Mike Enslin writes books evaluating supernatural phenomena in hotels, graveyards and other haunted places, usually debunking the mystery. While writing his last book, he travels from Los Angeles to New York to spend one night in the evil room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel, which is permanently unavailable for guests. The reluctant manager Mr. Gerald Olin objects to his request and offers an upgrade, expensive booze and finally the reports relating the death of more than fifty guests along decades in the cursed room. However, Mike threatens Mr. Oiln, promising to sue the hotel, and finally checks in the room. Along the night, he finds that guests of room 1408 can check in when they like, but they can never leave the room alive.
Why It’s Good: Old school horror, such as the 5 ½ minute hallway is something that I love. Samuel L Jackson sums it up perfectly when he says that it is just a fucked up room. There is something about this film, that psychological horror that makes my horror girly geek go all warm and fuzzy in a fond fond way for the horrible things that happen in that hotel room. Imagine never escaping. Imagine losing your mind. There is more than ghostly apparitions and spooky bits, it is psychological horror. Prepare to lose some sanity points.


Scream (1996)
Plot: A killer known as "ghost face" begins killing off teenagers, and as the body count begins rising, one girl and her friends find themselves contemplating the "Rules" of horror films as they find themselves living in a real-life one.
Why It’s Good: A I said I am a big horror fan including all of that 80's camp I grew up with. There were rules to the horror films. You drank you died. You had sex, you died. If you were the girl with the big breasts, yep you died too. When Scream came out my sister and I went, excited to see it. We laughed, we grinned at all of the in jokes and by the end we were happily surprised to see a decent horror flick.



A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
Plot: Two sisters who, after spending time in a mental institution, return to the home of their father and cruel stepmother. Once there, in addition to dealing with their stepmother's obsessive and unbalanced ways, an interfering ghost also affects their recovery.
Why It’s Good: This creepy little Korean horror flick has some truly odd and frightening images that I swear have nothing to do with the overall story, but that I loved all the same. Its a great blend of psychological thriller, horror, drama and a bit more. It was also remade in the US as the Uninvited. For me it's up there with Ringu, the Original grudge, The Original Eye, and Audition.



Poltergeist (1982)
Plot: While living an an average family house in a pleasant neighborhood, the youngest daughter of the Freeling family, Carol Anne, seems to be connecting with the supernatural through a dead channel on the television. It is not for long when the mysterious beings enter the house's walls. At first seeming like harmless ghosts, they play tricks and amuse the family, but they take a nasty turn- they horrify the family to death with angry trees and murderous dolls, and finally abduct Carol Anne into her bedroom closet, which seems like the entrance to the other side.
Why It’s Good: Ok who wasnt completely petrified when you were a kid after watching this film. The iconic 'They're here" to crawling steaks and one hell of a demented clown doll that still has me checking underneath my bed, it is a Halloween staple that I love, love, love. And remember: Rule number one, don't build your house on a cemetery.



Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Plot: A traumatized Vietnam war veteran finds out that his post-war life isn't what he believes it to be when he's attacked by horned creatures in the subway and his dead son comes to visit him.
Why It’s Good: What can I say about this film. It has some of the creepiest imagery ever and shows how great of an actor Tim Robbins is. Its depressing really how horrific it is for Jacob as he tries to figure out what is real and what is not. From demonic faces in ordinary places to war flashbacks and more, it is a great film that should be watched.

31 Days of Halloween: Elvira

REASON NUMBER SIX: ELVIRA

Speaking of Halloween staples Elvira has always reminded me of Halloween. You could see her in the grocery stores, her cardboard cutout on a beer advert as common in the beer aisle as candy corn was in the candy aisle. You can’t really ignore her, with her Morticia Adams dress, bouffant hairstyle and enormous tracks of land that rival Dolly Parton. And she hasn’t changed since the time I was a kid either despite the fact that her cardboard cutouts are no longer at the local Albertsons. One of the reasons I also really love Elvira is because she was my horror movie watching buddy when I was a teenager. None of my family likes horror films, but I have always loved them even when they scared me to death (I once watched Nightmare on Elm Street with my babysitter and her boyfriend and was then petrified of water bed for a week. Poltergeist well…Poltergeist had me afraid of everything). I remember sneaking downstairs to watch late night horror schlock when I thought my parents wouldn’t notice. Many of these were from Elvira’s late night show. Thanks to her I watched such gems as Monstroid. Her schtick was great: horrible puns, sexual innuendo and dreadful slapstick. She was like the Cryptkeeper but with really big breasts, always commenting on the film that you were watching together which many times were just as dreadful. But she wasn’t taking herself seriously.

I cant help but think of her when I think of Halloween. How about you?

31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN EXTRA

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: A REVIEW
“The Harmon family - husband Ben (Dylan McDermott), wife Vivien (Connie Britton) and daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) move to an old Los Angeles house with a creepy neighbor (Jessica Lange) and an even creepier basement. “ (EW)

I have probably said it before but I am a complete Gleek. I love Glee. I also love anything horror related so when I started hearing that Glee creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk were creating a horror show on FX you could say I was intrigued. How could the same people who give me show tunes and glee clubs every week possibly make anything that would remotely scare me. Oh wait they are the same folks that brought me Nip/Tuck which I loved until the last couple of seasons. But of course I will watch. I am a glutton for anything spooky especially this time of year. So I sat down this Sunday night to watch with anticipated glee, yep pun intended, to see what they came up with.

Starts off great, creepy old house, and a young girl who tells two local neighborhood bullies that they are going to die in the house. There is this great happy little soundtrack as the boys destroy the house with their baseball bats until one of the twin brothers finds a possum that has just had its throat slit and is bleeding out, but they don’t seem to notice this they just notice the basement door open and want to go investigate. Apparently they have never seen any horror films and know that this is a bad idea. The abandoned basement is full of Specimen jars, animals, baby heads you know the kind of thing that is cool, not creepy to a couple of pre-pubescent kids. But it smells down there and so one of the brothers decides to leave thinking his brother will be right behind him. Until it gets eerily quiet. Insert horror movie sequence. It works. Add in an uber creepy opening credits montage and I am interested.

Flash forward to modern day where we meet the Harmons who have just bought said creepy house from the beginning. They are looking for a fresh start. And they need one. You see a year ago Vivian (played by Friday Night Lights’ alum Connie Britton) is still getting over a miscarriage when she goes home only to find her husband having an affair with one of his students. Sure moving to ideallic sunshine filled California seems like a good idea and Daddy Harmon Ben (Dylan McDermot) doesn’t seem to understand why his wife won’t hold his hand or help consecrate the new house. Violet, their teenage daughter is a snarky gloomy young girl who is totally psyched that the previous owners of their new home killed themselves. Whoo hoo.

And this home is an odd one, we have the latex submissive suit hanging in the attack, prophetic little neighborhood girls (yep one from the beginning), the other creepy he girl’s mother who has a penchant for stealing things, being nosy and saying things that are so, so not politically correct (played amazingly by Jessica Lange), a new housekeeper who looks like a glass eyed older woman to everyone but Ben who sees a twenty something in a naught maid uniform and is convinced his wife is apparently giving him the ok to have a little tickle and poke with her, weird disfigured burned guys who like to be voyeurs and give prophetic warnings that the house is completely evil, the evil twin ghosts who died and apparently still linger, cabinets and doors that like to open themselves, weird ass murals, a demon in the basement apparently, voices that are telling Daddy Harmon to go all Shining/Amityville Horror on everyone and more. What could be cozier? Even better when the family that moves in to this horror movie extravaganza is extremely damaged. Nope, nothing bad or twisted could possibly happen.

THE GOOD:
I love Vivian. I like her. I am rooting for her. There is a great argument when Ben wants to get all freaky and she is not having any of it. He asks her how long she is going to keep punishing him, she said that she is not punishing him she is trying to figure out how the hell to forgive him for what he did because all she can see is the look on his face as he was nailing his student and calls him a narcissist asshole (which he is). He says that he was hurting too. Really so you had your dead son in your belly and then had to give birth to him and that is why you were having an affair? Cause that is a good reason. He spouts off statistics on how many men cheat after a miscarriage cause again he can’t be at fault being the all-knowing psychiatrist that he is and also he apparently wants to be a part of those statistics. His retort is that she got a dog when he needed her, so he got a student. Fair trade right? We’ll get to how much I loathe Ben. But this was a great scene. This was real, this was damaged and raw and I felt like I had left the horror clichés behind into a glimpse of the fallout of one family. And I completely felt for Vivian. Even with the hitting and makeup sex afterward.

I also love Dylan McDermott’s ass. What can I say I am a woman. You cannot fault me. Or the Lee Adama towel move. Its one of the few things I love about Ben’s character.

I like the cuts, the graininess, the hyper editing, the weird ass atmosphere of the whole thing. Usually pilots tend to suck, but as odd as this is, I want to watch more. I want to see how crazy it can get. I want to know the history of the house, to see how long they can pull this series off, and see how it all fits together. And I especially want to see how all of the characters fit together: Is Tate the demon in the basement, did Jessica Lange kill the housekeeper?, Who was in the rubber suit? (great expression on Vivian’s face when she is telling Ben the good news and sees him in the doorway, the oh shit what kind of baby am I carrying look) Who is a ghost and who is real? Etc.

The yappy type dog must die soon. I am okay with this.

THE BAD:
Ben crying like some wounded baby after heading to the bathroom to spank the monkey after seeing the new housekeeper heaving some one on one fun of her own. Its creepy. It’s disturbing and I have no sympathy for you what so ever. What you are so broken up because you’re not getting any? Or because you realize it was a douchebag move to have an affair after everything your family went through a year ago. You’re an ass with a great ass. I still hate you. Even if you are slowly becoming crazy possessed by your voices.

As a woman in the mental health industry I can’t help but say that Ben is a horrid horrid psychiatrist. Seriously your first patient is a teenage boy not taking his medication, who suddenly has a weird attraction to your daughter, and oh yeah has fantasies of going to his school and gunning down all of the people he likes so he can remove them from the misery of this world and your response is….you’re going to be okay. Umm, red flags there dude. Because of course now that said bat shit crazy ghosty Tate is trying to get your teenage daughter to go Heathers on the school bully. Again, Ben, I don’t like you. But at least you did try and call the school. How did that go? Since he is probably a ghost. Did you follow up on that? Probably not.

Wow bullies have grown. At Violet’s school apparently the high school bullies enforce their Queen B Statuses and love for non-smokers and the environment by trying to make Violet eat her cigarette (oh look its Kendra the Bad lamp Slayer from Buffy). But it’s okay it’s just that the bully is a coke addict and is completely willing to go with her new nemesis because she randomly has coke in her basement. Yeah. Sure.

Speaking of Violet. I really want to like, but they are giving her such a mundane character. I am terrified they are going to make her either into this messed up little victim or bat shit crazy like Matt McNamara eventually became. Please don’t. The signs are already there though with her cutting and the falling for Ben’s psycho patient (though cool skull makeup in his fantasy sequence) though thankfully hopefully that was nipped.

In all, I liked it enough that I want to know more, but I do hope that they find their own voice instead of trying to make a messed up Nip/Tuck with ghosts.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Button for the Universe



via: Geekosystem.

Let's face it sometimes a button like this would be really nice. If only it were real.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

31 Days of Halloween: Pumpkins

REASON NUMBER FIVE: PUMPKINS

You have to love pumpkins. They are kind of a Halloween and Autumn staple. You have pumpkin pie, pumpkin flavored lattes, carved pumpkins, decorative pumpkins….well you get the idea. Now there are some reasons I love pumpkins. I love the act of going to find your absolute favorite pumpkin, heading to the patch and riding on the back of a horse drawn cart. I love the lore of them and I love the Charlie Brown special of the Great Pumpkin. I love the color of them and the bounty they seem to represent. I love pumpkin seeds and our soon to be annual pumpkin decorating contest at work.


So why exactly is the significance of pumpkins in Halloween. Well most historians believe that the Celts used to carve apples, and turnips into small lanterns. Whether they carved faces into them to ward off evil is highly debatable because lets face it have you ever tried to carve a cute little jack-o-lantern type face into an apple or turnip. Pumpkins…far easier. Which is exactly what early settlers did. Eventually it became part of Halloween folklore and the carved pumpkin was long associated with the Harvest and Fall before we adopted it as the official mascot of Halloween. In 1900, an article on Thanksgiving entertaining recommended a lit jack-o'-lantern as part of the festivities that encourage kids and families to join together to make their own jack-o-lanterns. Today pumpkin gathering and then carving is an art form all to itself. Case in point:

Ray Villafane: You have probably seen Ray’s artwork at least somewhere during Halloween. Right now on the Food Network he is part of the Halloween Wars show and it is not hard to understand why he has never lost a pumpkin carving competition. He is a toy sculptor by trade and has worked with companies like McFarlane Toys, Sideshow Collectibles and DC Direct. Though in his spare time he carves pumpkins and lately sand. He is an amazing sculptor and by far this is some of the most amazing and just frakking brilliant carving I have ever seen.



To see more of his pumpkin sculptures and other work, visit VillafaneStudios.com VillafaneStudios.com.  There’s also a great pumpkin carving tutorial on his website.

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PUMPKIN STENCILS: You have to have a great stencil or idea for your pumpkin. I tend to stay away from the Ray type of carving as I….suck at it. Won’t happen. It would look horrible. So I tend to stick to the stencils and being the adorable geek that I am, it tends to be pop culture fun as much as it may be Halloween fare. Here are some of my favorite stencils I have found on the interwebs.

Zombie Pumpkins (Stencils Galore)
Pink Raygun's Templates (Everything from Doctor Who to Thor to Walking Dead Zombies)
Stoneykins (Again tons of free stencils. This one has everything from Blue's Clues to Dexter though you can purchase more)

Any great sites that you know of?

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AVOID PUMPKIN ROT: Last year I had a great pumpkin. My friends and I had a couple of pumpkin carving parties and my piece de resistance was a Jack Skellington pumpkin I was quite fond of. Now luckily I live in Bozeman Montana where there is already snow in the mountains not far from my home and it is only October 9th. I would not be surprised at all if I had snow on the ground before Halloween as it happened last year. And quite possibly the year before that as well. So I feel like my pumpkin tends to stick around a bit more than it ever did when I lived in New Jersey. But it always a bit disheartening when your pumpkin dies before the actual holiday and suddenly no longer looks like Jack Skellington, but crazy toothless version of an eccentric elderly person after a bender. 



There are plenty of tricks out there. Some say spray your pumpkin with WD-40, others say lemon juice or to wet it, wrap it and then stick it in the refrigerator while you don’t want to display it. Pumpkin Masters say that you should soak or spray your pumpkin with a little bit of bleach mixed with water. Apparently this helps ward off the mold and kills insects that would otherwise make your newly carved masterpiece its new little loft of awesome. Do you have tricks or techniques that work for you?

What My Music Says

Trick of this meme. Put your ipod, mp3 player, etc on shuffle. Write down the song that comes up

1.If someone says, "Is this okay?" You say?
My Wandering Days Are Over – Belle & Sebastian
[Not really sure what this means, other than umm…ok?]

2.How would you describe yourself?
Shy – Ani DiFranco
[Ok that’s kind of creepy. Kind of accurate until you get to know me and then not so much. But it works.]

3.What do you like in the opposite sex?
Strange Days - Prong
[Okay I do like them a wee bit strange. How else are they supposed to love and keep up with all of my geekiness. Plus who doesn’t like a bit of kink]

4.How do you feel today?
Superhero Girl – Eve6
[Off to save the world, One pop culture reference at a time.]

5.What is your life’s purpose?
Snow – Loreena McKennitt
[So not true. Not loving the snow which is coming oh so swiftly here in my part of the world. Maybe I’m a Winter Goddess and I just don’t realize it yet. Maybe I will be a snow machine operator later in life. Hmmm]

6.What is your motto?
Kiss the Sky – Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra
[Works for me.]

7.What do your friends think of you?
Hine E Hine (Maiden, O, Maiden) – Hayley Westenra
[Can I be a fair maiden? If so, where the frak is my Prince Charming? Grin]

8.What do you think of your family?
Hammering in My Head - Garbage
[It’s scary how some of these fit]

9.What do you think about very often?
Rehab – Any Winehouse
[And then others really don’t. Unless it’s rehab for pop culture geekiness]

10.What are you doing this weekend?
Dirty Laundry – Bitter:Sweet
[As per usual]

11. What do you think of your best friend?
The Miracle - Queen
[Pretty much sums it up. She is my best friend and sister after all]

12. What do you think of your significant other?
Imaginary - Evanescence
[Which is funny since I am currently single]

13. What is your life story?
I Never – Rilo Kiley
[I hope that will not be my life story unless I am constantly playing a game of I never and always losing. If it’s that sort of thing, than yeah, but I really should start getting on that.]

14. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Machine – Regina Spektor
[Umm…please no. I like being human]

15. What do you think of when you reason a person you like?
Let Me Blow Your Mind – Eve w/ Gwen Stefani
[Again, works for me. Just give me a chance is all I am asking.]

16. What will you dance to at your wedding?
Paranoid Andriod - Radiohead
[Not really wedding material, but it could work. Just not a first song.]

17. What will they play at your funeral?
Sorry – Bic Runga
[Me too. It’s my funeral]

18. What is your hobby/interest?
Paper Planes - MIA
[If only the patients would let me make more of them at work]

19. What is your biggest fear?
Tomorrow Never Knows – Carla Azar (Suckerpunch Sndtrk)
[The future can be scary, but more interesting and full of promise methinks.]

20. What is your biggest secret?
Peach - Prince
[That I am a peach? I smell like peaches? I am secretly the new incarnation of Princess Peach? If so, please let me be rescued by someone other than an Italian plumber.]

21. What do you think of your friends?
The Kings and Queens of Old – Harry Gregson-Williams (Chronicles of Narnia)
[I do hold them in fairly high esteem]

22. What is the secret of the universe?
The Lisbon Maru – Fuck Buttons
[Yep. So says my iPod.]

23. What is your theme song?
Running Up that Hill – Placebo
[Certainly it feels like it most of the time.]

24. If you could rename your blog it would be called?
Her Morning Elegance – Oren Lavie
[Certainly not as snarky, but quite beautiful. I kind of like it.]

A Madness of Angels

Madness of Angels
Written by: Kate Griffin
Paperback: 640 pages
Publisher: Orbit
Language: English
February 2010, $7.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy/The Matthew Swift series

For Matthew Swift, today is not like any other day. It is the day on which he returns to life.

Two years after his untimely death, Matthew Swift finds himself breathing once again, lying in bed in his London home.

Except that it's no longer his bed, or his home. And the last time this sorcerer was seen alive, an unknown assailant had gouged a hole so deep in his chest that his death was irrefutable...despite his body never being found.

He doesn't have long to mull over his resurrection though, or the changes that have been wrought upon him. His only concern now is vengeance. Vengeance upon his monstrous killer and vengeance upon the one who brought him back.


+++++++++++++

Being the world traveler that I am, I have been to London a couple of times. More than that I have been a city girl most of my life. In fact Bozeman, MT is the first time where I have really felt like a fish out of water but it has its own charms. There is something about a city that is indeed magical. It’s the rush of all the various people, of the technology and the spirit of everything that is urban. But there is more to a city than the hustle and bustle. There is a history, and a life that so many would overlook unless you really paid attention. I mean when you really think about it, become an archaeologist and an anthropologist of the city or town you live in, what would you see and discover. I know that Bozeman has its own magic as small as it is. It is the paint on the brick walls, the graffiti of angels on that electrical box or the cast of characters that I meet during my day job. There are the other cities, the tent cities of the transient camps, the small communities where like-minded people live together and near one another, the hum of the trains as they pass through the outskirts of town and a myriad of other things. It is hard not to see that all is extremely magical. So while Bozeman, MT is not exactly the urban capital of the world and would probably a bit more rural and use the hum of nature, there is magic everywhere you look. Kind of crazy when a book makes you look at things a bit more than you did before.

"We be light, we be life, we be fire! We sing electric flame, we rumble underground wind, we dance heaven! Come be we and be free! We be blue electric angels"


Matthew Swift wakes up in his own city of magic…London. Granted he’s waking up two years after he was brutally murdered and has no memories of his recent past. He is also not exactly human anymore with powers far beyond his urban sorcerer past, brilliant blue eyes and a penchant for referring to himself as ‘we’. Apparently a lot has happened since Matthew and his body disappeared two years ago. Matthew’s mentor Robert Bakker, a rich and powerful sorcerer, has begun to abuse his power and in Matthew’s missing years systematically began wiping out those of the magical community that would oppose him. Another organization formed to try and combat Bakker and his ‘Tower’, but with little effect. Matthew’s reappearance changes all of this. But Matthew is also out for revenge as much as he wants to help the magical community he once called his own. There are a lot of questions that he needs answering such as who killed him and who brought him back and why are his eyes blue?

Welcome to the Madness of Angels where magicians and sorcerers use the magic and the life of the urban city they reside in. Where one can ride on the wings of the pigeons and listen to the blue electric angels that live on the telephone wires made alive by the wishes and dreams that people wasted or spent as they run through their lives.

Things I loved: So much of an urban fantasy lately focuses on snarky and kick ass women who try to save the world while simultaneously trying to fight her feelings for some hot vampire or other supernatural. The setting is usually secondary, magic comes far too easily and there tends to lack any real magic which is sad since it is supposed to be urban fantasy. Occasionally you have great authors like Mike Carey who change that whimsy into something really creative and awesome. I think Griffin is one of those people. Even more so it takes a special person to make a city come alive when you haven’t been there, or if you have make it seem more real and amazing then you remember it. Kate Griffin did that with the Madness of Angels. I think it is clear how much Griffin loves London and cities and the magic they invoke as it is evident in every bit of this novel. But more than that the ‘city’ is as much of a character as Matthew or Oda or The Beggar King. As I said it is clear how much the author loves her city and wants to make it more than just a background, she wants you to understand how alive and complex it is. And how life is magic and every magical character needs that city to be alive and robust in order to do what they do. 



“In New York the air is so full of static you almost spark when you move; in Madrid the shadows are waiting at every corner to whisper their histories in your ear when you walk at night. In Berlin the power is clean, silken, like walking through an invisible, body-temperature waterfall in a dark cave; in Beijing the sense of it was a prickling heat on the skin, like the wind had been broken down into a thousand pieces, and each part carried some warmth from another place, and brushed against your skin, like a furry cat calling for your attention."

One thing I loved about this book was the first person narration, the feeling of being as lost and confused as Matthew is. While confusing and interesting as he refers to himself as a ‘we’ and an ‘us’ while sometimes also referring to himself as a ‘me’ and an ‘I’, I understand it. It works as confusing as it sometimes can be. Because it all works with this story, she lets you experience what Matthew experiences without holding your hand and telling you straightforward all that has happened. It is amazing how much style there is in this book. Some of the most interesting characters are the Beggar King and The Bag Lady, embodiments of everything that is urban and those lives and those things that so often get overlooked, but have so much importance. Griffin writes them with such imagination they I cannot help but believe in them. Her prose can be lyrical and extravagant, but it works. I was never bored or felt like she was overdoing it. The prose only enhanced the story into a fully imagined movie in my head. I know it’s a good book when I dream about it after reading it.


Another reason I really loved this book was the use of magic. Matthew needed items, sometimes as simple as a railway pass and the rules it invokes and other times spray paint or a simple card. There were rules to the magic and ones that made sense. So often in urban fantasy magic is just there. It’s innate; apparently everyone has the skills and is rather droll. Magic was cool again with this book. And there were so many different types of magic from magicians and sorcerers to the urban witches and other members of the supernatural community (including the Troll Jeremy also known as the Mighty Raaaarrrgghh).


It is a lofty book, but one that is self-contained, though again I know there are more in the series. This is refreshing and though I don’t know quite yet, I am quite sure someone could probably pick up The Midnight Mayor and not feel insanely lost.

Throughout the story we also get glimpses of Matthew’s past which includes meeting his apprentice for the first time and his past with Bakker. Like I said, it feels very much like a stand-alone even though I know there is another book.

Finally, I genuinely liked Matthew Swift. Despite being almost a demi-god, Griffin limited his power and made him a really good guy that you wanted to root for. He’s funny and witty (you know how I love the snark), but sympathetic and competent. On the other hand Hunger was just terrifying and makes you afraid of the shadows again. But more than that, he’s not just the big bad monster. You get to see his reactions to other characters, see the relationships that have formed as off as they might be. It was nice. And most of the characters are like this, even Oda as much as you may loathe her.

Things I didn't love so much: This is a fairly lofty book and sometimes the we and I’s get a bit confusing. I also understand that it is a slow build. This isn’t a quick and simple book so if you are looking for lighter fare this may not be for you. Other than that, I got nothing.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. Now I cannot help but compare Griffin to another one of my favorite authors Mike Carey who has an equally great series in the form of Felix Castor, but she has made her own magic in this book. And I look forward to reading more. I really think you might feel the same.

Part of: A series.
Book One: A Madness of Angels

Book Two: the Midnight Mayor

Book Three: The Neon Court (Nov 2011)


Also Recommended: The Felix Castor series by Mike Carey, the Sandman Slim novels by Richard Kadrey, and the Dresden Novels by Jim Butcher. Kate Griffin is also the name under which Carnegie Medal-nominated author Catherine Webb, writes fantasy novels for adults. Catherine's amazing debut, Mirror Dreams, was written when she was only 14 years old, and garnered comparisons with Terry Pratchett and Philip Pullman.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Grammar in WoW



via: Dorkly

I know some of you will appreciate that.

31 Days of Halloween: Pomegranates

REASON NUMBER FIVE: POMEGRANATES

Autumn brings about one of my favorite things to eat: pomegranates. They are absolutely, by far, my favorite fruit. When I was a kid I used to think that they were like little rubies and I had as much fun trying to get at the seeds and making an absolute mess as I did actually eating the seeds. They are like candy I tell you. Sadly it is so hard to find them other than fall, so I eat my fill. Thankfully we have things like Pom’s Pomegranate Juice year round which I find to be as equally yummy.

As I said they are messy, but just think you are expending as many calories trying to get into the damn thing and separating the seeds as you do eating them. Plus pomegranates are extremely nutritious and are full of polyphenol antioxidants which beats out that glass of red wine you are drinking. They taste great in salads, at the bottom of a pomegranate martini and a couple of other yummy recipes which I will include.

Give it a try if you have never had one. Completely worth it.

The Myth of Persephone (Smirking Style): One of the great things about pomegranates is the mythic history. There are some that say it was a pomegranate not an apple that Eve brought good old Adam to eat. Of course there is the myth of Persephone and the reason why we have seasons. During Rosh Hashana it is common to eat a pomegranate because they represent fruitfulness. Plus it is said that they have 613 seeds which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. But back to Persephone.

Once upon a time there was a very hot and innocent young goddess named Persephone, daughter of Zeus (King of the Gods) and Demeter (Goddess of the Harvest). She was so beautiful and adored that everyone loved her, some more so than others. Case in point, Hades (God of the Underworld) was so enamored, in that stalker sort of way, that he convinced his brother Zeus to help him gain Persephone as his wife. Of course being Greek Gods they couldn't do it the traditional candy and flowers and lets go out on a date sort of wooing. Oh no. There is less drama that way. Besides Zeus knew that there was no way Demeter was ever going to let her daughter be the new Queen of the Underworld.

So, one beautiful day Zeus caused an amazing flower to bloom in the filed that his daughter was gathering flowers. Persephone naturally saw said beautiful flower and stopped to admire. This is when Hades made his move. He opened a fissure in the Earth, popped out in his chariot, kidnapped her and then escaped back down to his home in the Underworld leaving no one but Zeus and the all seeing sun, Helios to know what had happened.

Demeter had no idea what had happened to her beloved daughter and she searched the earth for her missing daughter. Now it is unwise to make the goddess of the Harvest upset as when she is cranky, heartbroken or lonely crops tend to wither and die. Helios eventually revealed what had happened which only made Demeter even more bitter than before. Famine threatened which was a problem because if mankind perished there would be no one to worship and offer sacrifices to the gods which they kind of dug. Zeus begged Demeter to restore life to the earth, but she refused to do so. Understandable since her one time lover was the same one who helped Hades steal Persephone away anyway.

Understanding the situation was dire, Zeus then sent Hermes down to try and talk some sense into his brother Hades. However, Hades was in love and maybe Persephone had gotten over the whole kidnapped thing and realized that Hades wasn’t so horrible after all. Plus the Underworld was completely horrible. There were the Elysian fields after all. But the Earth was dying and with it, all of us pesky humans. So Hades agreed to let Persephone go. Things are never that easy though like I said when it comes to the Greek Gods. Before his wife left Hades gave Persephone a pomegranate or at least some seeds depending on the myth. The moment she ate it, it bound her to Hades and the Underworld. Take that Demeter.

The result was for part of the year Persephone would reside with her husband in the Underworld and be the Queen to Hades’ King. The rest of the year she would reside with her mother. During the months that Persephone was with Hades, Demeter still angry and bitter and upset about her son-in-law plus probably missing her favorite daughter, refused to let anything grow and thus the winter months occur. Blame the pomegranate. Well that and Zeus and Hades. Winter is their fault.

Pomegranate Clusters: I love to bake. I also love chocolate. Chocolate and pomegranate seeds would certainly make a girl happy kind of like chocolate and peanut butter. *smile* Makes about 50 small clusters.

Ingredients:
3 pomegranates

1 16 oz. package dark chocolate morsels (Ghirardelli’s 60% cacao)

Cooking thermometer (optional)

Directions:

1. Remove seeds from pomegranate into a bowl or dish. (I would recommend actually doing the process under lukewarm water as it softens the skin and also the seeds are easier to at. When performing this task, make sure not to wear anything that you wouldn’t want to be stained. De-seeding pomegranates can be a messy process. Trust me)

2. When all of your pomegranate seeds are out, lay wax paper on a flat surface. Using your fingers or a spoon, separate the seeds into small bunches of 5-10 on the wax paper to dry. You could also treat it like bark and lay the pomegranates down on a cookie sheet and drizzle the chocolate on top which you then smooth out. Once its dry you can break it up like traditional candy bark.

3. Melt the chocolate! To do this, you will either need a double-burner or can easily create one by placing a stainless steel bowl over top a pan of boiling water. Now I know you should technically use a candy thermometer, but I don’t own one, so I just wait till it melts down. Let the chocolate cool for a minute or so before spooning it over the seeds. It doesnt have the shiny surface of tempered chocolate, but tastes just fine.
4. Leave your chocolate covered seeds to dry at room temperature (around 60-70°F). Do NOT put them in the freezer! I’m not positive how refrigeration would work, but whatever you do, don’t freeze them! The chocolate will shrink and expand on the pomegranate seeds, causing the chocolate to crackle, and they won’t taste the same.

5. When the chocolate is completely dry, serve and enjoy!

+++++++++++++++++++++

Autumn Pomtini: All I can say is...yummy.

Ingredients:
3/4 freshly squeezed pomegranate juice (you can do this by blending and then straining out the seeds) or do what I do and just by some pom wonderful juice) 

1 oz. Orange vodka

3/4 oz Peachtree Schnapps

1/4 oz lemon juice

1 oz. Orange Juice

Directions: 
 Shake all ingredients and chill. Voila alcoholic yumminess.

Have any other pomegranate goodness you would like to share such as recipes, etc? Let me know.