Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fiction Friday - Putting the Writer's Toolbox to Use

A few years ago, I bought something called "The Writer's Toolbox," a nifty little box that includes a few different props and stuff to help writers get started on stories, or just practice and have fun. It was "The Writer's Toolbox" that generated the story I posted last week actually. So, when I realized I had nothing to post today, I broke the toolbox out, and this is what came of it. It's only the first little bit and it's very rough, and it has no title or much of a direction yet... but here it is!


            She had had it all once. Laurie Dubois, star of stage and screen. Laurie Dubois: Oscar-winner, Tony-winner, Emmy-winner. Laurie Dubois… a middle-aged actress closer to fifty than she ever admitted to anyone; who, as the leading roles disappeared and even the guest star spots dried up just like her looks and her hair, casualties of what was killing her, feared her best years were behind her.
            Laurie Dubois, born Loretta Johanski of Queens, New York. Loretta Johanski, who had wanted to be an actress since she saw The Wizard of Oz when she was four; although, to be honest back then she wasn’t sure what an actress was, she just wanted to be Dorothy. Her father wouldn’t hear of it, though. Stanley Johanski was a simple man, who believed in simple things and good, hard work, and to him, acting fell into neither of those areas. So for years he tried to stamp out the acting urge in Loretta until finally, when she was in the seventh grade, he tired of her begging and pleading and allowed her to enroll in a local acting class for kids… with her own money, of course; Stanley would never spend a penny of his own hard-earned money from the bakery he slaved at for something as trivial as acting classes.
            Loretta, for her part, loved the acting classes, and after the first year ended, she scrimped and saved any money she got her hands on she could afford to pay for the advanced class the next year, again with no help for her father. Then, as a freshman in high school, Loretta joined the drama club and acted in two plays a year for four years. She even starred in the two plays they put on in her senior year. Her father didn’t go see any of them.
            When asked why not, Stanley simply responded, “I don’t believe in plays.”
            “Forget about the plays, what about believing in me?” Loretta often wanted to ask, but she could never quite bring herself to get the words out.
            Despite Stanley’s lack of interest, or maybe even because of it, as a psychiatrist had once told her during a court-mandated course of therapy after a particularly wild mushroom binge, because of her father’s lack of interest that Loretta Johanski had become Laurie Dubois, once dubbed “The Sweetheart of the Sunset Strip” by Entertainment Weekly.
            Those nights as Loretta, though, backstage in the high school gym before opening nights and on the bus ride home after the last shows, those were some of the only nights in her life that the future superstar wished she had a mother.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Schedule, Part 2... and the Complete Halloween Marathon

About a month ago, I posted the schedule I had made up before the Fall season started of what I planned on watching this year, which can conveniently be found here. Now that everything has premiered, I updated the schedule for the sake of comparison.

Click to enlarge the geekiness.

Five shows got cut (Ringer, The Playboy Club, Charlie's Angels, The Secret Circle, and Terra Nova), two of which already got cancelled (The Playboy Club and Charlie's Angels) as I predicted, one got added (Homeland), and one more (Grimm) is hanging on by a thread.

God, I still need a life.

Now, a final update on the Halloween Marathon I've been talking about for awhile. After making my own picks and taking suggestions from other people, I've created a ten-hour marathon consisting of nine Halloween-themed programs that I'll watch on Halloween from 10am to 8pm. Here's the list:

Night of the Demons
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Halloween
Garfield's Halloween Adventure
Ginger Snaps
Supernatural: It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester
Satan's Little Helper
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Trick'r'Treat
How I Met Your Mother: The Slutty Pumpkin

So we've got four horror movies, including my favorite horror anthology; my two favorite animated Halloween specials growing up; and three Halloween episodes from three of my favorite TV shows, ending with the HIMYM ep from the first season... and the new ep of HIMYM that airs that night at 8pm is a sequel of sorts to that very episode. Gotta love the synergy.

Now, this is your chance to tell me how you're celebrating Halloween. Ready? Go!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Tale of Two Fairy Tales

The Brothers Grimm. Hans Christian Andersen. Hell, even Disney. Are you a fan of the stories these guys tell? If so, television has decided it's a good time to be you, as two fairytale-themed shows are hitting the Fall season this week. The first, Once Upon A Time, premiered Sunday night on ABC, and the second, Grimm, premieres this Friday night on NBC. Luckily for this blog though, I was able to see the Grimm premiere early.

Boy, saying that made me feel like an actual critic. Sure, NBC made the premiere available early though a Twitter contest on Friday or something so by Sunday, any schmendrick with an internet connection like me could watch it. It's also worth noting that these are the last two premieres that I planned to watch this season, so you won't have to put up with another post like this until, like, January. I'll pause to let you all enjoy reacting the way I'm sure you're reacting.

I'm sure this is how you're reacting... if you're even reading this at all!

I'll start with Grimm. And boy, does the name fit. Half the show takes place at night, shrouded in darkness, shadow, and mood music. The basic plot centers around a cop named Nick who was raised by his aunt after the death of his parents in an origin that in no way mirrors Spider-Man. He comes to find out that he is the last living descendant of the Brothers Grimm, who weren't really fairy-tale writers but monster hunters; the stories they wrote were actually about creatures they hunted that exist on our world. Because he's descended from them, Nick is able to see past the human masks these creatures wear to glimpse their true faces. The mythology behind the show is guaranteed to be deeper than that, but that's how the slow build started. The show is a cross between genre shows and procedurals; the first "case" centers around a little girl who went missing on her way to her grandfather's house from school... a girl who was wearing a red hoodie. Nick doesn't have any special powers, just a partner who doesn't know the truth and a reformed creature in disguise who helped him out. Yes, it does all sound a little lame, but there's a revelation at the end that at least kept me on the fence and willing to come back for another episode. Plus, it's by some of the producers of Buffy and Angel, so I have a little faith... pun intended.

Once Upon A Time, on the other hand? Boy, I'm all in.

 Totally unrelated; I just wanted to use this picture.

While Grimm is all dark, OUAT (yes, I'm abbreviating. Deal with it.) is light and fun and full of hope, despite dealing with some dark subject matter... just like an actual fairytale. It's a breath of fresh air in a television schedule that, for years really, has featured shows that are mostly dark and cynical. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy those shows for the most part, but this was nice. It reminded me of how, when I was younger, Disney would always have something on ABC on Sunday evenings, something the family could watch together. That's what this show felt like. The show takes place in two worlds/timeframes, which should come as no surprise since it's by two of the writers of Lost. The first world is the fairytale world, where Snow White and Prince Charming have married and live in a kingdom with characters like Jiminy Crickett, Pinocchio, Rumpelstiltskin, and more. The Evil Queen, sick of always losing and never getting her happy ending, sets a curse upon the fairytale world that brings them someplace where there are no happy endings... our world. Here, they have no memory of their past lives... except maybe the few that it's hinted do. Where does the light and hope come in, you ask? An adopted boy who finds his real mother and brings her to the town of Storybrooke where they all live because he believes she's the key to breaking the curse. I'm not doing the show justice, but it's definitely a good show worth watching. And for those of you worried it might go the way of Lost,

 Even I don't know why I was on that stupid island...

fear not; while there are some mysteries, the audience is in on the biggest one right from the start, and the real drive of the show is finding out how that mystery will be resolved, and how the characters will react when it is resolved.

One last thing to note for both shows is the lack of actual star power. With Grimm, I didn't recognize any of the cast except for the reformed creature I mentioned, and even him I didn't know by name but by face, one of those "Hey it's that guy!" guys you always see. And with UOAT, with the exception of Jennifer Morrison and Ginnifer Goodwin, same thing. With shows like these, I think that's important as it helps keep the fairytale aspect going, as opposed to having famous people who you'd instantly recognize breaking the spell.

To summarize, in this tale of two fairy tales, both of them are worth watching... for now.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fiction Friday - The Man in Striped Pajamas

Been a quiet blog week for me, and in the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit the reason for that is that I haven't written a damn thing worth reading all week. Sadly, that also includes fiction. So, instead of continuing the story I had going on, I'm going to post a short story I co-wrote with a good friend of mine and a very talented writer* named Ami. I say co-wrote, which is true for the first half of the story, but after the POV switch halfway through, the rest, and admittedly better part, is all her doing. It might be a little long for a blog post, five pages in total, but still. Read it, enjoy it, make with the feedback.

*I say both of those things about her very, very grudgingly.


My only defense was to write down every word they said. I knew they were lying. More importantly, they knew they were lying. But they knew I had no proof, that it was my word against theirs, and with them being a them and me being a me, I was in a bad way. So I had to write it all down, every filthy lie, and hopefully I'd be able to trip them up, catch them contradicting each other. So far, though, it wasn't working. It was like they had rehearsed it all, every word.
"If you d-d-don't take chances," said the man in striped pajamas, "you m-m-m-might as well not be alive."
The man in striped pajamas was my cell mate. I didn't know his real name, and by this time, he might have forgotten... so he was just the man in striped pajamas.
But striped pajamas or not, he had a point. By now I had collected so many of their words I could spit them back verbatim. But what could I do with them? "What do you do with words?" I asked my striped cell mate.
"S-S-S-Say em'. You could m-m-make a living d-doing that kind of thing," he answered, and I supposed I could, but I had never thought about it til then. That's what the man in striped pajamas was good at; sure, he was freeze-dried, batshit crazy, but it was the kind of crazy that was seriously wise if you thought about it. A lot of people made a whole lot of money selling their words, and God knows they didn't have half the story to tell that I did.
And it's not like I didn't have the fucking time on my hands.
Everyone's story's different. Everyone's story is one person's lie and another person's truth. They keep telling me I was blind to the truth. It wasn't so much that I had been blind to it. It was just that I had seen the truth differently, and obviously, so did they.
I rapped on the cell door. There were no bars, only a solid metal door with two windows that slid open; one at face height and the other down low, where they slid in the chemical waste they called chow.
But now, I had something. What, I didn't actually know. It didn't make much sense, but it was something. Something I could shove down their throat like they'd been doing to me for the past however fuck long. Don't ever let anyone tell you that revenge isn't sweet.
As images of my sugary revenge danced in my head, I could hear the sounds of footsteps coming down the hall. In the brief seconds before the door slowly creaked open, panic set in. Were they coming for me, or the man in the striped pajamas? The idea that it could be me had me shaking in my government issued socks, but being him wasn't any better. The crazy bastard was the only friend I had, and I wasn't sure how many more "sessions" with the doc he could take.
Light spilled into the room. It spread from the crack under the door and kept coming. My friend cowered in the corner and soiled his striped pajamas. I knew because the unmistakable smell of urine and shit drifted over to me. I didn't pay too much attention. After spending, fuck knows how long we'd been here, in a six foot by six foot room you get used to certain things. Not to mention I was trapped by the silhouette that appeared in the light.
The "doctor" strode the rest of the way in and wrinkled his nose. "You, in the striped pajamas. To the showers." He turned to me as my friend struggled against the hands of the burly guards that dragged him to his feet. "You. Come with me." He smiled; his perfect white teeth reminded me of my mother's pearls.
I didn't want to go with him. I didn't want to get hooked up to his chair again, to listen to him tell me what a horrible person I was for the "lies" I told. What I wanted to do was ram those perfect pearls down his throat til he choked. But I also didn't want to give him the satisfaction of having me dragged... so I got up and walked like a man, knowing that when I denied his lies like I always did,  the pain would intensify... and I would cry like a lost puppy in the middle of fucking winter. Yeah, some man.
I followed him down the long corridor, the white of his lab coat gleaming against the dingy walls. We walked past other doors like ours, mine and the man with the striped pajamas. I could hear nothing but the sharp click of his heels on the concrete. I had never seen anyone else here, just them and us. As far as I could tell that's all there ever had been.
As we neared the door at the end of the hall, I started to sweat. Not polite, I've-been-out-in-the-sun sweat, but rank, heavy, drenching fear sweat. I stank with it. It poured down my back, my shirt stuck to me; it dripped down my forehead, into my eyes, stinging them, blinding me momentarily.
The moment was enough of a delay. The doctor snapped his fingers and two of his mountain-sized guards grabbed me, one under each elbow, and picked me up. I tried to fight back, but after months of processed crap from a can, I was weak as a fucking kitten.
The two behemoths slammed me into the good doctor's chair and started tightening the leather straps. By now they were almost like home. First came the legs; they had learned their lesson the first time, when they started with the arms and one of them got their jewels kicked into their throat. In fact, it might have been the one holding me down while his buddy did my legs, I honestly can't tell them apart anymore.
When they had me all nice n' cozied in, the doc started flipping on the lights. One at a time, the large surgery lamps blasted my cornea until all I saw was white so bright I thought they'd lit a fire inside of my skull. If I hadn't known any better, I might have thought I was heading straight to heaven. Then the devil himself stepped into view. I couldn't see him clearly, not against those bright lights, but it was him. I'd never forget that silhouette. And I knew he was smiling that fuckin' grin of his, just dying to do whatever it was they were going to do to me this time.
"Let's begin, shall we?" His voice was smooth and dark like a fine whiskey, Old Scratch himself. But it didn't quite cover the sound of him placing his toys on the tray next to the chair. That tinkle of his metal torture devices dropping onto the aluminum tray was a whole different brand of hell. If I ever got out of here I never wanted to hear that sound again for the rest of my life.
"The last time we spoke, you seemed to have some trouble remembering your name. Have you had any luck with that?"
I couldn't help it, I chuckled, “Sure did Doc. I'm Santa fuckin' Claus.”
Something slammed into my jaw. Jesus, were they hitting me with two-by-fours now? My teeth felt loose in my gums. After the initial shock I looked into the lights and spit. I could hear my saliva sizzling on the hot bulbs.
"Now that's not very nice. I just asked you a question."
I couldn't have answered the rat bastard even if I wanted to, not with the way my teeth were still rattling from that shot. I settled for flipping him off. I doubt it looked as good as I wanted it to with my wrists strapped to the chair.
"How long have you been here, do you think?"
"You mean you don't know? And I thought you PHD's were supposed to be educated." Sure it was ballsy, but at this point ballsy was all I had left and I wasn't sure how long it would hold out.
He started to laugh at me. I hated when he did that. I'm sure he said something, but I couldn't tell past the feeling of something sharp being slammed into my guts. If I could have, I would have doubled over in pain. As it was, all I could do was thrash against my straps, gasping for air.
I know I screamed. I always did. I'm not so proud that I can't admit it. I screamed long and hard, with tears to boot. But I can say one thing: I never begged.
After what felt like hours of questions and pain, the doctor dimmed the lights. The hum from the halogen faded and all I could hear was my own ragged, shallow breathing.
"Well done." That's all he said. That's it. Just "well done." What the fuck? I'd been scared before and angry and I'm even sure at some point I had to have been happy, but never had I been so full of hate and rage as when I heard those two fucking words, "Well done." I stared at him, one of those stares that make people say stupid things like, "Man, if looks could kill, he'd be dead." He just smiled at me.
His henchmen unhooked me, one of them catching me before I fell on my face. They hauled me back to my cell, almost carrying me, before dumping me on the floor. As they locked the door behind them, I dragged myself up onto my bed. The man in the striped pajamas was back; from the smell he was showered and his pants had been cleaned.
He was sitting in the corner of his bed with his knees drawn up to his chest, picking determinedly at a spot on the wall that had offended him. "I n-n-know it hurts," he said without looking up. "It hurts sometimes m-m-more than you can bear. But you're a man. Don't forget that. Don't. I'm not. I shit m-myself, like a b-b-b-baby... like an animal. But you're a man. Don't let them take that away."
All the while, he picked at the wall. The whole time I'd been here, I never saw him cry. At that moment, I wanted to cry. I wanted to sob my fucking eyes out. I wanted to hear my sad sack of ass echo for a million miles. I wanted to bang on those doors until more scary mother fuckers came to kick the shit out of me for making too much noise. I wanted to beg. I wanted to hand them all of the words I had been saving and tell them that I would say whatever the fuck they wanted if they would just let him go. I wanted to weep. I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry for him.
* * * * *
I could hear them. The voices behind the wall. They didn't know it, but I could. The voices floated to me through the crack in the wall aimed right at my mouth, like they were trying to tell me something. Trying to fill me with their words.
There are two different kinds of “they” and “them”. One kind was the voices. They tried to tell me things, but I could never hear them clearly enough. I don't know what I would do with their words if I could make them out. I had to keep trying I had to hear what they said, “If you d-d-don't take chances," I said to myself, "you m-m-m-might as well not be alive." Sometimes talking to myself makes ideas clearer.
“What do you with words?” My second best friend, the big man with the scar on his face asked. Yeah, what do you do with words?
"S-S-S-Say em'. You could m-m-make a living d-doing that kind of thing," I said. I was afraid to tell him about the voices in case they got mad at me and didn't come back, but I didn't mind sharing a little with him, him being my second best friend and all.
My first best friend was the ones who talked to me through the wall. There was more than one of them, but I couldn't understand them so I just counted them as one.
The man with the scar scared me when they, the bad they, put him here. I thought he was a spy. That they put him in here to find out what my first best friend was saying to me. But I knew they wouldn't talk to them.
But then I saw them take the man with the scar. He was big and scary and tough. Like the superheroes on TV, but when they brought him back he couldn't walk and his face was purple and red. So purple and red that his scar looked like lightning on his cheek. He wasn't a spy. He wasn't one of them. I told the voices in the wall that he was safe. I knew they worried about me.
The man with the scar stood up and banged on the metal door of our room. I hated when he did that. It always brought them. It did this time too. I could hear them. You can hear a lot through stone if you listen real hard. I heard the doctor's footsteps. Doctor. He's not a real doctor. I remember doctors. Doctors are supposed to help you, but he's one of them. He only hurts me. Me and the man with the scar.
I heard moaning and it started to smell like a bathroom. It was me. I had shat myself again. I hated when I did that. But that sound... that clip-cloppy sound of nice shoes in the hallway...it scares me. Scares me so bad I don't know who I am anymore. I asked him once to wear slippers. He laughed at me and turned the bright lights on. I didn't want him to be there for me. I didn't want him to be there for the man with the scar either. I just didn't want him to be there.
Our big, heavy, metal door swung open and there he stood. He always looked so big. Like a big skeleton with a jack-o-lantern smile. He smiled so wide his face looked split in half. I hated when he smiled.
“You,in the stripped pajamas. To the showers.” He was pointing at me. I know I smelled. Shit smells. The two monsters that came to get me, they were mad. They were mad at me. They grabbed me, an arm each. I didn't want them to do that. I hated when they did that. I tried to get away. I shouldn't have done that. It makes them really mad, but I couldn't help it. I was scared and scared things try to get away.
They picked my feet up off the floor. I was flying over the stone in their metal hands. They threw me on the floor of the shower. My nose mashed up against the big drain in the concrete. I tried once to count all of the little square holes in the grate, but I kept losing count.
It's a big grate.
The monsters were back. They yanked off my clothes. I didn't want to be naked. Not around them.
“Jesus Christ, will you look at him? He's like a fucking baby. He's all curled up like a god damned baby.” I didn't want to look at his face, but his voice was a little too high pitched. It didn't go with his metal hands.
The second monster's voice was deeper. It felt better. “Yeah, some great mind he turned out to be. Can't even keep from shitting himself.”
They stood me up and turned on the water... too hot....too hot... too hot. They laughed when I danced in the burning water, but at least they turned the cold on. I was a great mind. That's what they said. A great mind. I wonder what I thought about?
I was watching the water turn less and less brown as it went past my toes and they threw the powdered soap on me. It was bright pink, like Bazooka bubble gum. It smelled kind of like it too, but it didn't taste like it. I tried once. It burned my mouth and wasn't sweet at all. I bet it wouldn't have blown good bubbles either.
I cleaned myself. I could still do that. I could still get myself clean. They gave me dry pajamas. The only thing I liked about it here. I got stripped pajamas. They're not very soft, but I like the way the stripes go up and down and not across.
The monsters let me put the pajamas on by myself. They said they didn't want to play dolls with a grown-ass man. I think they meant me, but I don't think I'm a doll, but I don't feel like a man either. The man with the scar on his face. He's a man.
I tried to take a little extra time putting my clothes back on. I like having the space to spread my arms, but I had to be careful. If I looked like I was having fun they would hurt me. They said the needed to remind me that I wasn't here for fun.
I don't remember why I was there anymore. It all gets so blurry. All I can remember are the bright white lights and the doctor laughing at me when I screamed for them to stop hurting me. They strapped me down and hurt me...a lot. I don't like that chair. The chair with the straps and the buckles. I hate that chair.
The monsters took me back to our room, but this time they let me walk. I guess I was less scared after my shower. I saw that they left dinner for us, but the man with the scar on his face wasn't back yet. I left the food alone and looked at my bed. It looked different. I don't like it when things look different. I had clean sheets. I guess my old ones were dirty. These ones were white, just like the other ones. Well that was something I guess.
My stomach started to rumble. I looked at the tray they left on the floor again. It's rude to start dinner if everyone's not at the table. I remember my manners, but I was so hungry. My second best friend wouldn't mind if I started without him and I didn't know when he would be back.
They didn't give us a table, they said that we could make the wood into a weapon. I don't want to fight. I hate fighting. Everyone gets so mad when you fight, but the man with the scar on his face might have wanted to fight. He was a man and men fight. So I guess it's good there's no table.
I took the tray and sat in the light. We have one light bulb. It's always on. I like how it makes a perfect circle between our beds. It's like having another room that's only light. Sometimes I come here to think. Sometimes it's easier to think in the light.
I used my finger because it was clean after my shower, and I pushed his half to one side of the tray and ate mine. I know it's not good food. It's gooey and tastes like paste. I think I ate paste once. That's how I know what paste tastes like. But it's all they ever pushed under the door. I wish just once they would give us two slices of bread. Good bread. Thick bread. The kind I think grandmothers make in kitchens. Or maybe I just read that somewhere once. I would want my second best friend to be there when it came though because I would want him to have some, but I don't think I would be able to share if he wasn't here. That would be hard.
The one thing I didn't mind about it was the color. It was such a bright, happy yellow color. It was pretty to look at, but I was so hungry I didn't look at it as much as I ate it. I finished my half and drank exactly one half of the water they poured into the cup. I don't know why they didn't give us two cups. You can't fight with a cup. A cup holds things. It doesn't hurt them. I put the rest of dinner on the floor next to the bed that belonged to the man with the scar on his face. Then I sat in the light room a little longer. Sometimes things weren't so bad when I sat in the light.
I don't think I was sitting there very long when I heard my first best friend. The voices were back! I got up on my bed next to the crack in the wall. I leaned my ear against it, but I couldn't hear them very well. I started picking at the wall to make the crack bigger. If I could make the crack bigger, maybe I could hear them better.
I must have been trying really hard to hear them because I didn't hear them coming. They opened the door and threw my second best friend into the room. I was afraid that they threw him into this dinner, but they hadn't. I waited until they closed the door and started trying to get to the voices again. That rock is really hard and I didn't have very long nails.
I looked at my friend, the man with the scar on his face. They had hurt him again. His scar looked like lightning again. "I n-n-know it hurts," I said. I was still trying to get to the voices. I wanted them to hear too. "It hurts sometimes m-m-more than you can bear. But you're a m-man. Don't forget that. Don't. I'm not. I shit m-myself, like a b-b-b-baby... like an animal. But you're a man. Don't let them take that away."
I started to shake then. Really hard. My whole body just shook and jiggled.
I don't know why.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Goodreads Book Review - The Wise Man's Fear

The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2)The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I don't always agree with some of the choices Rothfuss makes, and I sometimes think things could have been left out of the book and it wouldn't be any worse off, but I have to admit, I enjoyed this book more than any I've read in a long time. Between Kvothe and his friends at the school to the politics of royal court to the fish-out-of-water aspect of the Adem, I loved it. And the relationship between Kvothe and Denna is one of the most engrossing relationships I've read in a book in the last decade. I can't wait for the next installment.



View all my reviews

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fiction Friday - Let's Get This Party Kickstarted?

As some people now, it's been a very trying week for me. Lots of difficult, draining stuff going on and, as such, I haven't been getting that much sleep. It makes blogging difficult. Sure, it was one thing to go on a rant about Human Centipede 2, because that was just an offense against humanity, but fiction? That's sort of out of my reach this week. Instead, I want to ask a question.

Anyone familiar with or have any experience with Kickstarter.com? I came across it the other day and, seeing that it's a way to get funds for a creative project, the gears in my head immediately started turning; this might be a good way to get a comic book/graphic novel self-published. But before I get involved, I wanted to see if anyone out there had any experience with it or other information for me. What say you, blogverse?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Human Centipede 2 and a Halloween Marathon Update

Before I get into the movie review, I want to clarify something. In my post yesterday about the problems with horror movies today I mentioned I thought an over-reliance of gore is the biggest problem most horror films have today. To clarify, I'm not one of those people that turns their nose up at a movie at the mere mention of gore and disgusting, graphic scenes; I think that, if done right, those factors can not just have a place in a movie but can elevate it. I stress the words if done right. This works for some movies. The first Hostel, for example. If you ask me, the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake is another example. So is the original Saw.

And then there's The Human Centipede 2. Spoilers ahead, by the way. Major ones.

Now this would probably be good.

Wait, that's not right.

This, on the other hand...

Once upon a time, I participated in a movie blog with one of my best friends, and for that blog I reviewed the first Human Centipede. If you don't feel like reading it, well, it was not a favorable review. I'm sure you're familiar with the premise: a doctor sews three people together into a human centipede... despite the fact that three people together only have twelve limbs and not one hundred. Medically accurate, my ass. I guess that's why it was subtitled "First Sequence." Anyway, pretty much everyone in the movie dies, so how can their be a sequel, you ask? Well, THC2 revolves around Martin, a man who saw the original film and became obsessed with it, and now wants to create his own human centipede, this time with twelve people. Sure, that's still only forty-eight limbs, not one hundred. Must be why they sub-titled this one "Full Sequence." Wait, that doesn't make sense. Must be my fault for thinking. I should stop that.

So THC2 goes meta-textual and black-and-white, almost going for an art-house effect. Martin, by the way, is asthmatic, ugly, fat, bug-eyed, retarded, and not shy about his body, either. You know what? I'm not doing him justice. A picture says a thousand words, after all...

Be glad I didn't enlarge this one...

So, dear Martin was abused by his father as a child. Rather than insinuate this, though, the film decides to throw this bit of knowledge at us in a very classy way: while Martin lays in bed, in the background we hear a child crying and a voice saying, "Stop them tears, you're just making Daddy's willy harder."

Right there with you, Joey.

Throughout the first hour we see Martin, a parking attendant, sneak up on people in the parking lot, brain them with a crowbar, and take them back to a warehouse he's renting where he strips them naked, knocks their teeth out, severs the tendons of their knees, cuts open their asses, and eventually staples mouths to anuses all of which is done without the benefit of anesthesia or actual medical tools. We also see him kill his own mother because she tore his scrapbook dedicated to the first movie and leave a pregnant woman for dead in his warehouse because, since she was pregnant, he couldn't use her in the centipede. He also manages to lure one of the stars of the original movie, the girl who played the centipede's ass, to meet him under false pretenses, and kidnaps her to make her part of his centipede. But he makes her the head this time, so at least he has a sense of fairness, right? He also pleasures himself. With sandpaper.

Yeah, you read that right.

Through it all, Martin never speaks. Not one word of dialogue throughout the entire movie. Still holding out hope for that art-house effect, huh? They probably should have realized that went out the window once he fed the centipede laxative to facilitate the process of them shitting in each others mouth. And on the camera. Or maybe it went out the window when he fucks the centipede doggy-style.

I'm pretty sure typing that sentence just killed my writing career.

Fast-forwarding to the end, while he sodomizes the centipede, the pregnant woman reveals she's alive and runs out naked, into his car, where she gives birth and the baby plops into the footwell. She backs the car up into Martin, wounding him, and then jams on the gas... crushing her baby's skull with her foot.

Is the art-house dream dead yet?

While that completely abhorrent monstrosity of a scene occurs outside, the guy in the middle of the centipede rips his face away from the ass in front of him, creating two mini-centipedes... until Martin comes in and shoots all the parts of one mini-centipedes, and stabs to death all the parts of the other except the head, the actress from the original. She uppercuts him in the nards, and while he's on the floor she takes the funnel he used to feed them, shoves it up his ass, and then grabs his pet centipede and drops it in. Martin's insides are now being eaten by the thing he loved the most.

Artsy irony, right? He manages to scramble up and stab the actress as well, leaving all parts of his creation dead. Just as we settle in to enjoy watching Martin hopefully get eaten to death from the inside, the one thing that I could have actually enjoyed in this movie... the scene changes to the same scene the movie started with. The entire thing was a fantasy in his head. There is no defending any of this. Worst. Movie. Ever. Everybody associated with creating this should be killed. I feel like less of a human being just having watched it. Please don't watch this, people. I watched it so you don't have to. Don't make my sacrifice be in vain.

In an unrelated note because I can't leave you with that in your brain, last week I mentioned I was looking for ideas for a Halloween Marathon. Here's an update on how that's going:

Definites
Trick'r'Treat
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Garfield's Halloween Adventure
Ginger Snaps
Night of the Demons (Original)
How I Met Your Mother: The Slutty Pumpkin
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Halloween
Supernatural: It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester

That's around nine hours of programs, which, depending on if I do this Sunday or Monday, might be all I have time for. Some alternates/additions might be the Scrubs episode My Big Brother and/or the Night of the Demons remake, for comparison. I'm still open to ideas though, so if you have any, let's hear 'em!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Horrible State of Horror Movies

Fear is universal. There's no such thing as a man without fear, despite the bill of goods Daredevil tries to sell us. That's why so many people enjoy horror movies; they give us a safe way to give in to that fear, to get that adrenaline rush. It's why we love them as kids, despite all the nightmares and sleepless nights, and despite the fact that we'd spend half as much time watching them from behind the sofa as we did on the sofa, to paraphrase a popular decades-old British expression (thank you, Doctor Who fans).

Think Doctor Who isn't scary? The Silents will fuck your shit up.

I'll be honest, I hated horror movies when I was little. I never wanted to watch them. With the overactive imagination I've always had, a horror movie was a recipe for disaster that would result in me awake for nights, flinching and jumping at every single sound and shadow, and full of nightmares whenever I did fall asleep. However, as I've grown older over the last decade or so, I've missed that feeling, and am always on the lookout for a good horror movie that will keep me up at night instead of fading from my consciousness twenty minutes after I leave the theater. Let's be honest, though. Today, good horror movies are hard to find. I don't just say that because I'm older and harder to scare, because honestly, I can be a twitchy bitch sometimes and there are witnesses who will attest to that. There is just a dearth of quality horror being made, and I've come up with a few reasons why that I'll present for you now in countdown form... because who doesn't love a countdown?

5.) 3-D. Just stop. Not just horror movies, for that matter, but all movies. Sure, some 3-D movies are good, and deserve to be in 3-D. But mostly? Stop trying to distract us from the fact that you made a shitty movie by making us wear glasses and look at bright things flying at our face and giving us a headache. It's bad enough we just sat through your shitty movie, we don't need to go home with physical pain on top of it.

4.) Found Footage. Here's another practice that just needs to stop. From restricted camera angles to shaky shots, cameras pointed at the floor as people run, ridiculous jump cuts and edits, it's all awful. I mean, the first Paranormal Activity might have been good if it was shot like a real movie. I could go on, but instead I'll give you this link to a list of "found footage" movies and let you count up how many of them are actually good. By my count, there are maybe four good ones, out of the sixty-five or so listed. Just stop. Make a real movie.

3.) PG-13. Maybe it's just me, but very few horror movies work when put under PG-13 restrictions. Not necessarily because of lack of gore or nudity, but for language. If you have a movie where people are being stalked, possessed, tortured, killed, etc., and there can only be one instance of the f-bomb in the script, the film suffers for that because it hurts the realism. People curse, and under the circumstances listed above, the f-bomb is going to get dropped more often plates at a Jewish wedding. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, but I feel the saying applies more often than not: go hard or go home.

2.) Remakes. You know what isn't scary? Something I've seen before. And since most remakes suck, let me ask you another question: you know what really isn't scary? A watered-down version of something I've seen before. I'm not going to name any names, so in order to provide an example, I'll borrow a move from Archie Bunker's playbook and just look at the offending party and whistle...

Toodle-le-fucking-dee.

Again, there are exceptions to the rule; I thought the Friday the 13th remake was watchable but not scary, and I really enjoyed the first of Rob Zombie's Halloween remakes and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake that starred Jessica Biel, but for the most part, you want to scare me? Show me something new, like a girl coming out of the TV that's three feet away from me to kill me.

1.) An Over-Reliance on Gore. Yes, gore can be entertaining and unsettling and, when done right, can certainly add to a horror movie. But it can never be what makes a horror movie great. Want an example? Look at the Saw franchise. Sure, the first movie had some gore in it, but it also had a tight, interesting plot and was filled with tension that existed outside the gore. With each sequel, the traps and gore took more and more importance over plot and each movie became progressively worse. Torture-porn does not equate to horror. Relatable things are scary. The commonplace being made uncommon is scary. That's why, for example, the original Nightmare on Elm Street worked so well; being stalked and killed in our dreams works because we all dream. Everyone needs to sleep sometime. The Ring worked because we all watch movies, we all have televisions. A movie like the recent My Soul To Take doesn't work because we don't all have shards of a killer's soul split between us and everyone else in our town born on the same day as us... yeah, that was stupid. A lot of horror lies in psychology, in the aforementioned relatable circumstances, in tension and shocks and unexpected imagery.

I disliked Insidious. There was sleeplessness.

A perfect example of what I'm talking about is The Exorcist, possibly the scariest movie ever. If you were brought up religious and believe in God and the Devil and things like that, that movie will resonate with you like nothing else. Today's horror filmmakers could learn a lot from the Exorcist.

Just please don't remake it with a PG-13 rating in 3-D.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Ultimate Nerd Guide to NYC

Found on the internet, The Ultimate Nerd Guide to New York City. Click the link beloew to check it out, it's all kinds of awesome, especially if you're a New Yorker like me.


That's the main image, but the link below also includes a Google map version which is even better, and a link to an actual Google map page with the sites inserted for an extra does of realism. It's must-see stuff.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fiction Fridays - Untitled Magic Story Part 4

We're back to our regularly scheduled story snippet post this week, with a whole eighteen minutes to spare before Friday is over. It's a little short today because of some stressful stuff that took place today, but I was determined to continue the story at least a little bit. The previous part of this story can be found here (as well as links to the previous installments). Happy reading... or something.

I briefly thought about another light spell, but with the situation I was in, I’d need whatever pitiful strength I had left. Besides, I knew what the Corridors looked like; I had seen them from the outside more times than I could count. Endless hallways and turns and dead ends for miles and miles, a private hell in a magic pocket dimension controlled by the Covenant. Nothing to see here. Instead I headed down the right-hand hallway, randomly choosing it over the left-hand hallway, groping my way in darkness. And while I doubted it, there was a chance the darkness was hindering whoever had put me here.

The first sign I was wrong was the roaring flames that suddenly sprung to life around me. A fireball spell. I could feel the heat even through my jacket, which had just had it’s water-enchantment restored. Without that enchantment, I’d have been dead instantly. Still, the enchantment wouldn’t last long. I broke into a run and escaped the fire, some of the flames and heat still clinging to me, finally winking out seconds before the enchantment faded. Under my breath I thanked whatever was listening for the small favor of letting me keep my eyebrows; an expression of permanent surprise wouldn’t do my love life any favors… if I could get out of the Corridors alive, of course.

The fact that the enchantment on my jacket shielded me meant I was up against a magistrate. A fireball from the elementalist member of the Covenant would have cooked me alive instantly. Small comfort, though; magistrates never did anything without an explicit order from their masters. I was screwed to death either way you looked at it… and as a door of light materialized in front of me, I figured it was as good a time as any to bend over and get ready to take it…