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Archive for the month “October, 2014”

Ten Things I Have Learned from Horror Movies

Happy Halloween!! Any holiday the celebrates things I love – like horror and candy – is a great holiday in my book.  It struck me while I was singing The Beatles “Sexy Sadie” in the shower today that I never sing in the shower, because I assume that’s when people get murdered. Let me back up.

Right now I’m reading the book Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi, with Curt Gentry. I have never really known much about the Manson murders – they were waaaaayyy before my time.  But in this book, I found out (among many other things) that A) Charles Mason was obsessed with The Beatles White Album and B) that one of the first informants on Manson was a girl named Sadie. Sexy Sadie is from the White Album, and the song is referred to in the book. I have a healthy admiration for The Beatles, so I know the song and I know the White Album well. It’s not my fave, but it’s a good album.

Anyway, this all got me thinking about how pop culture has informed my thinking. So, since it is Halloween, I thought I’d go into the paranoid advice horror movies, scary stories, murder mysteries, and more have given me – and probably you – over the years.

*Warning that some of these links and clips have explicit language.

1. Don’t sing in the shower. Stay alert in the shower. In fact, just don’t take showers. Or baths. Don’t bathe – only use the bathroom as an escape route from your recently-turned zombie husband. Do not, under any circumstances, use the bathroom for bathing. You will die.

2. Stay away from clowns. They have nothing but pure hate for all things living, and they are really evil aliens come to eat you anyway. Also, don’t read the book It by Stephen King in the middle of the night. It makes sleeping super hard.

3. Don’t tempt fate. I know it seems like saying Bloody Mary a bunch of times in front of a mirror would be fun at a sleepover with your friends or when you’re bored at gym class with your friends or in the school bathroom… with your friends. But, as some movies have taught us, tempting fate and testing urban legends is a bad idea, mmkay?

4. Don’t play with twin girls. They’re creepy. At least they are when they talk at the same time. I mean my cousin’s kids are twins and they are super cute. But they also don’t echo each other or say the same things at the same time.

5. Speaking of playing, don’t play hide and seek. In fact, don’t play any games at all ever. You never know who you’re playing with…

6. If you’re in a place that seems dangerous, get the hell out of there. Don’t go up the stairs, lock yourself in a room, record yourself sleeping, or generally do anything stupid. Take a hint from The Amityville Horror and just leave – but do it earlier than they did.

7. Never, ever look for missing friends. How many times have you heard people say “Guys, where are you guys? This isn’t funny? Guuuuuuuyyyyysssss?????” and then get stabbed right in the face?

8. Don’t believe ghosts. In fact, don’t talk to them. Don’t hang out with them. Just stay away from them. Ghosts are bad company and they mean you nothing but trouble at the very best. At the worst they want to possess you and take over  your life – or kill you.

9. You can and might be murdered or eaten by the ones you love. So, if they get sick, get the hell away from them. Zombie plague anyone?

10. Trust no one and nothing. Children, tornadoes, houses, doctors, your mind – even tomatoes may be plotting your demise.

I love horror movies – especially B-Movies, which is probably why much of this advice is completely ridiculous. But hey, it’s pretty fun. What have you learned from horror movies/books?


One Sentence Book Reviews

I’ve been doing a lot of editing, which isn’t conducive to my usual posts about writing… except to say that I really dislike editing.  It makes me question myself, my intention with my story, and whether or not I’m beating all the life out of it. Capn-with-Hunted-5

That said, I really love reading/listening to other books to help my own writing and just for the joy of it.  I have an Audible subscription and a Kindle, so I end up reading a lot. On top of that I’ve been working on query letters for my book Hunting Annabelle. Part of that process is trying to squish my book down into a really short description – which is something I’m not great at.  I thought I’d do some quick, one-line reviews of the best books I’ve read/listened to in the last few months to give me a little perspective.  Here’s the result (note that these aren’t a summary of the book or anything, just what I have to say to recommend them):

The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson: A haunting horror story that has a slow build and a spookily unsatisfactory ending.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote: Masterfully written story about the love/hate reality of friendship – will make you cry.

Closure, Limited and other Zombie Tales by Max Brooks: If you loved World War Z (the book – not the movie), you will love this book.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King: Ever wondered what happened to the kid from The Shining?  Ever wondered what would happen if Joe Hill’s worlds and Stephen King’s mad skillz came together? This is that book.

(Sorry – that was longer than one sentence.)

Dreadnought by Cherie Priest: A Rebel girl travels through the Civil War to Seattle – with steampunk and zombies.

Dry by Augusten Burroughs: The true (and SUPER messed-up) story of one man’s attempt to get/stay sober in New York City.

I am not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells: John Cleaver is a young sociopath trying to get along in the world, but as murders follow his every step he begins to wonder if he’s really a psychopathic serial killer.

Ironskin by Tina Connolly: Basically Jayne Eyre with magic, faeries, and plastic surgery that corrodes one’s very soul.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner: A kid finds himself in a strange world with no memory, trying to get along with other kids and a noticeable lack of adults.

Rip Off! by a variety of authors: A bunch of short stories which start with the first line of different of classic tales. My fave was the noir version of Moby Dick.

The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty: A New Yorker looking for a job in the tooth and claw publishing industry finds herself in the underworld of zombies, vampires, demons, sprites, and other so-called “coterie” living in NYC.

Under the Skin by Michel Faber: (SPOILERS) An alien modified to look like a human picks off hitchhikers for a menacing corporation which sells human meat to upper class aliens as a delicacy.  CREEPY AS HELL.

Wool by Hugh Howey: A well-written FREE series about a group of people living in a silo. As time passes the confined world becomes more and more mysterious – to the reader and to the characters.

The End is Nigh edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey: An amazing collection of stories which all run on the same theme: what is the world like right before an apocalypse?

So… how did I do?  If you’ve read any of the above, give me your take.  Just try to keep it between one and three sentences.


The Wonder and Struggle of Being a Girl at a Concert

*Warning: I don’t hold back on my language here.

Last night I went to a Dropkick Murphys show, which was amazing.  My experience at the show reminded me of a number of things I’ve noted over the years, but have never thought about except as a way to improve my own concert-going behavior.

Let me preface my thoughts by saying that women are trained throughout life to be quiet, not pushy, not “bossy,” etc.  I guess the expectation is that we will grow into a delicate little flower who doesn’t want her petals mussed. This behavior might be successful – I wouldn’t know as I tend to try to balance my native outspokenness with my equally native shyness and I’m sure polite behavior enters in there somewhere, since I don’t seem to offend an inordinate amount of people. However, staying in the background does NOT work in a concert.

Correction – it doesn’t work if you’re on the floor of a concert.  It works in the mezzanine because you have a seat and you don’t have to be pushy or anything.

Dropkick Murphys tearing it up!

Dropkick Murphys tearing it up!

Anyway, I was on the floor of the Roseland Theater.  The opening act was rocking our socks and I noticed something very interesting.  Girls were hanging back, letting larger guys or girls with guys leading them into the crowd go ahead.  Not only that, the girls hanging back would take a step away from people who jostled them.  I say this is the wrong way to approach a concert when you’re on the main floor.  So, here’s how I attend a concert – along with the pros/cons of each step:

1. Wear comfy shoes.  This is pre-concert prep, but it’s important.  I don’t care if you’re going on a date, trying to pick up guys, or just want to look sexy – you can’t wear heals to a show – even if you’re sitting in the mezzanine.

Pros: Comfort during the show and not limping all the following day.

Cons: Not as cute as your cutest pair of shoes (boohoo) and if you are wearing soft toed shoes, you have to be quick on your feet.  Otherwise they will get stepped on.  They’d get stepped on in your uncomfortable shoes too…

2. Be pushy.  It’s time to follow that inner voice which says “just push that asshole out of the way.”  If you want to get through a crowd at a concert, push your way through it.  I promise you, practically noone will get offended.  After all, others push their way past you all the time.

Pros: You can get closer to the front!  Another pro is that being pushy can help you keep any creepsters away.  If someone is being gross and rubbing up against you inappropriately, just push him or her away.  They’ll get the message.

Also, GIRL POWER!!!!!

Cons: Three words: Other People’s Sweat.  You will exchange sweat with others.  It’s gonna happen with that many bodies close together. It’s gross, but not as gross as paying to see a concert and not seeing jack.

3. Stand your ground. Picture this: you’re semi close to the mosh pit and a HUGE dude comes up with his girlfriend behind you and starts pressing up against you.  You’re not going into the mosh pit – it’s not gonna happen – but the guy is making you uncomfortable.  This happened to me.  I could have yelled at my husband to do something or I could have moved and been trapped in some other uncomfortable position.  But screw that. I’m an independent woman, yo.

So I stood my ground, and maneuvered my body so I couldn’t help elbowing him occasionally, pushing into his stomach with my back, and making other contact which was uncomfortable to him.  That’s key.  I just made it super unpleasant for him to stand there.  Guess what, he moved.

Please note I’m not advocating violence.  But I also don’t feel it’s appropriate for some random dude to press his entire body up against mine.  I didn’t consent to that and I was there first.

Pros: You stay in the awesome spot that you found.

Cons: It’s counter-intuitive and might make you feel uncomfortable.  If you really don’t feel comfortable about actively pushing back, you may want to elicit the help of people around you.  Concert goers are generally pretty nice and social people.  So, if the circumstances are very uncomfortable, ask someone next to you to swap spots and/or ask the person smooshing you to back off a little.

Another note: If the person shoving against you is being sexually inappropriate, turn around, get a good picture of his face (turn on your flash if needed – it’ll blind the prick and let you get away that much faster, with a better shot of his face), and go find security.  Do it for the safety of all the women at the show.

My husband and I getting photobombed from some totally random dude at the Dropkick Murphys show

My husband and I getting photobombed from some totally random dude at the Dropkick Murphys show

4. Do Unto Others and all that. Okay, there’s a lot of pushing and shoving that happens at a show. Because of this there are people who need a breather as well as people who want to get in on the action.  If someone is just trying to get to the mosh pit or find a good spot – or if they are trying to get out of the mosh pit, help them out.  Move out of the way for the time it takes the person to pass.  Get your group to make way.  You’re in a huge crowd that is mainly self-governing.  If you are nice to others, it’ll come back to you in good ways.

True story: At the Dropkick Murphy’s show I was pretty near the mosh pit, near enough that people were diving in and diving out pretty consistently.  I helped them move in whichever way they wanted.  Then, later on all the girls were either getting on stage or crowd surfing forward.  This huge teddy bear of a man gave me a leg up without me asking and I had my first crowd surfing experience.  The whole space was really respectful (no one tried to cop a feel) and I had an amazing time.

Pros: Your experience and the experience of those around you will be bettered.

Cons: I can’t think of any.  Unless you don’t like people.  Then you probably shouldn’t go to a concert.

5. Protect yourself. No matter what, if you are uncomfortable, do what you need to do to protect yourself.  I was in a defensive stance the majority of the time, with my fists up and my arms protecting my soft bits.  This isn’t because someone was doing something bad – just I was worried I might get an elbow to the boob on accident and I wasn’t willing to risk it.  I also did a lot of fancy footwork to avoid getting my feet stepped on.

However, I was at a Sleigh Bells show where the “mosh” area was in pretty constant expansion and at one point I decided nay, I am not going to be in this press of people.  It was so tight I was practically hyperventilating.  So, I ducked through the crowd and enjoyed the show from the edge.

So, no matter what, be safe, stay comfortable, and enjoy the show!

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