Overcaffeinated Thoughts

It’s 1:33am and I’m still up. I’m on my second Monster Energy drink of the day. I’m dog sitting Lily because mom is in the hospital and has been for a few weeks. Dad goes to see her, I take Lily on the weekends. This weekend I’m working on computers for my job, partially because I am stressed, but mostly because it’s what I can control. That’s my coping mechanism when I’m up against something I can’t fight. I take something I think I can control and start wreaking havoc.

I’m also chatting with a friend of mine on Facebook. We talk daily. But with both our lives being a circus lately, we are catching up more frequently just to stay current. He’s been having medical issues, and I’ve been updating him on my mom and mother-in-law, both of which are fighting medical battles of their own.

the meg

He and I were going back and forth on whether or not he wanted to write an article regarding his newest hassle, and it got me thinking. There’s this movie that came out recently, The Meg. It will definitely get it’s own post, because I can’t love this cheesy movie enough. But for now, suffice to say it’s a new shark movie starring a carcharadon megladon, and in the spirit of both Deep Blue Sea and JAWS. Anyway, there’s this great scene where Li Bingbing and Jason Statham are having a moment. I don’t want to give anything away, but basically she judged his efficacy as a hero on an incident in the past that she heard second-hand. Based on a new incident, that she was actually present for, her whole opinion of him changes. Still with me? What’s great is the quiet moment where he looks at her and says something to the effect of, “It’s not easy. Being the one who survives.”

Arguably one of the better lines in the movie overall, but an unexpected truth. You see, I work as a hardware technician for a mental health and addictions counseling agency, and I’ve been very open lately about my own struggles with mental health. Talking about your own struggles tends to open other people up, with the effect that you wind up sharing battle scars and talking shop survival shop. One truth that I’ve found is that across the board people tend to say they’re different after their struggles. They evaluate their jobs, friendships, and relationships differently. For better or worse, it’s an eye opener.

It’s not easy. Being the one who survives.” But damn, ain’t that the truth? I don’t think that we give enough credit to the people who survive every day with bipolar disorder. Schizophrenia. Depression. Anxiety. OCD. ADHD. PTSD. Those are a just a few of the various diagnoses. In fact, there’s a whole book just devoted to mental illnesses.

But part of the problem is that the conversation only seems to come to light when we lose a celebrity. When someone high profile loses their battle. But in the meantime the stigma and the shame remains.


It’s not easy…keeping your illness hidden and holding down a job.

It’s not easy…getting out of bed and facing the day.

It’s not easy…trying to keep it together when everything is falling apart.

It’s not easy…finding the correct medication/therapy/coping mechanism/doctor/hospital/shrink/counselor.

It’s not easy…being the one who survives.

But it’s always worth it.



Soothing the Beasties with Screams

The first pet we adopted when we moved into our new house was Chloe, our Bengal cat. We got her right after we moved in. We tried to add another cat, but she wouldn’t put up with it. A year ago, we decided to adopt a Boston Terrier, that we named Zelda. They were alright with each other, but not friends yet. Zelda enjoyed (and still does) pulling Chloe around by her ears, and Chloe for the most part took it in stride. As time goes by, they’ve gotten closer. The last few weeks, after I was stuck in bed for a week solid with a strep throat infection, they started to make peace with each other. Even though I’m better and have since gone back to work, they are getting closer still. Zelda cries if Chloe isn’t in the bedroom with us when we go to bed, and when we wake up, if Chloe has spent the night in the basement, she makes sure we let her out so she can see her friend.

A new development that Tkout and I are really pleased with has been their penchant for snuggling. Although they aren’tpuddle quite a cuddlepuddle, they are still inching closer. We joke that they’re trying hard to keep up appearances like they aren’t friends. I think the real issue is that Zelda still has puppy tendencies, and sometimes gets a little too ardent, which results in her dragging Chloe around by the ear. If you’re Zelda was hanging out, and Chloe decided to get up on the futon and snuggle with her. (Our futon is always down like a bed, and yes, I am a compulsive sheet-straightener.)

The entire week that I was sick, I layed on the futon in our finished basement and watched horror movies. More accurately, I layed there like a sack of potatoes while the fuzzies watched the movies. Now that I am no longer sick, they still hang out on the futon, and when they are restless, Tkout and I can rely on a few movies to keep their attention. (I’m not making this up – they really do sit and watch movies!) Some they prefer more than others, but the list of Comfort Movies that they seem to enjoy best are…

FRIGHT NIGHT (2011) – I’m honestly not sure why the fuzzies love this movie so much. It could have something to do with the nonstop action and killer soundtrack. All I know is that once it goes on the TV, they both lay down and watch.

ALIEN (1979) – Chloe seems interested in what Jonesy, the space-cat, is up to. As for Zelda, this is one of her sleeper movies. I can count on her grabbing a chew toy, settling in on the futon, and falling asleep in about 20 minutes.

dreamcatcherDREAMCATCHER (2003) – This fast-paced Stephen King sci-fi flick is always a good one for getting the fuzzies settled down. Clocking in at an impressive 2 hours and 16 minutes, I think the reason they prefer this movie is they know they are guaranteed a long snuggle session.

AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981) – This is another guaranteed snuggle session whenever it goes on the TV. Other than that, I think they enjoy the werewolf noises, and the people panicking. (Chloe, especially, seems enamored of people in a state of panic.)

JAWS (1975) – This movie takes place on land, on the sea, and in a boat. There’s lots of action, and colorful characters. Not to mention an awesome orchestral soundtrack. Chloe and Zelda make it about halfway, before they both fall asleep. But putting the movie on almost always brings them to the futon.

What movies do your fuzzies enjoy watching?


Gummies, Sharks, and Stupid People OH MY!

jawsI was beyond thrilled when I found out that Phoebe had never seen JAWS before. When I was a kid, it was my absolute all-time favorite movie. Every Easter, TBS would show JAWS as part of it’s animal-themed horror movie marathon. When my parents got me the VHS, I was in my glory. I knew all the trivia. I could recite all the lines, including Quint’s harrowing story of the USS Indianapolis. Hell, I used to clean my room while listening to the soundtrack on CD, and recite the dialogue.

I was absolutely over the moon when Phoebe and I got ready to watch JAWS. I made birthday cake and white chocolate popcorn with shark gummies for our snack. (I don’t care if you judge me or not, I used to be a teacher. I have no children. I miss being a teacher, and I get overboard excited whenever Phoebe comes over to watch a movie.) We had the living room set up, and Zelda snuggled with us.

I explained that the movie was made in 1975, so in some ways she’d have to lower her expectations of the movie’s special effects. I told her that the shark was an actual metal construction, NOT CGI. I also told her that part of it was filmed in a backyard pool, and she asked me to point that part out. (If you’re wondering, it’s when they find Ben Gardner’s boat chewed to hell and back and the head pops out of the bottom of the boat. Classic!) I also told her that the metal shark prop, Bruce, didn’t behave at all. It kept sinking and got messed up from the salt water exposure during filming. That last part wasn’t very exciting to her, except that she questioned the intelligence of the special effects crew, since they kept using a faulty prop.

Phoebe was absolutely not having it right from the beginning. She chastised Chrissy for boatgoing swimming at night in the ocean and the guy who was with her for being stupid drunk. I think what got to her the most was how preventable the whole scene was. If Chrissy hadn’t gone swimming in the dark, at night, by herself, she would have been alright. Phoebe also decided that had she not been hanging around with someone who was so drunk, they might have talked her out of going into the water in the first place. She pointed out how dangerous it is anyway, especially considering that boats can’t see you when it’s dark.

Right around the time when the town meeting is called, Phoebe had hit her limit. She turned to me and said, “Why don’t they kill the shark already?! If it’s that much of a problem, kill it!” Her outburst came about 15 seconds before Quint verbally flays the townspeople for their stupidity. She was stupefied when they argued with Quint about killing the shark. She thought he was the most capable (if not batshit crazy) person in the room. (Which, when you think about it, isn’t really saying much considering how long it took for the townspeople to decide to do something about the shark.) When the Mayor wimps out and doesn’t hire Quint, P decided that he was going to get what he deserved, since he wasn’t doing what he should to protect the townspeople and the tourists.

Even though she’s seen CGI shark movies before (Sharknado, ugh!), she really liked the death scenes. She thought they were really well done. Especially the guy in the estuary whose boat gets tipped over. She was impressed with the effect of the shark creeping up and snagging the guy off the side of the boat.

She wasn’t too thrilled about Quint, but that’s because she didn’t buy into the shark jumping onto the boat. She figured if that’s all it took, the shark could have done that in the beginning and ended the movie right there. However, once Quint was in the jaws of the shark, she was all in again!

What bothered her even after we turned off the movie, was the human element. When Hooper is examining Chrissy’s remains, Phoebe thought it was terribly obvious that a shark had killed her. She didn’t understand why it took a “shark expert” to figure it out. Phoebe has a really good heart, and I hated explaining to her that people don’t always do what’s right for everyone. There are people that are only out for what they can get. She was shocked that people would put other’s lives at risk, but I told her that you can’t underestimate a selfish person.

Phoebe really enjoyed watching JAWS. She’s curious about the sequels, especially when I told her that in one of them, a shark takes out a plane. Since she enjoyed JAWS, Jurassic Park, and Arachnophobia, I asked her if she wanted to see Deep Blue Sea, which is one of my guilty pleasures as horror movies go. We will have to wait until everyone’s in bed, because Dipper hates that movie. Tkout might be up for it though. (Yes, I have forewarned her that it contains CGI effects, and has a paper thin storyline. But hey – Samuel L. Jackson, Thomas Jane, and CGI sharks!)




My Childhood Horror Favorites

When Halloween was actually upon us, I began writing this post. It was going great, I was reliving my heyday, and then I got super ridiculously sick. I spent about four weeks battling some kind of upper respiratory infection and wound up on amoxicillin, prednisone, and levoquil. (The last one is known to cure anthrax encounters as well as…wait for it…wait for it…The Plauge. Whoa, damn!) In any event, I wanted to get going on some new posts, but I wanted to show you all this one first. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Feel free to let me know your favorites in the comments section!

Halloween is upon us, and so I thought it would be fitting to revisit some of my favorite horror films from when I was growing up. I want to warn you, there is a really good chance that nobody else holds these movies sacred but me, but that’s cool. I can live with that. Another warning, if I may, by “childhood”, I mean the 90s. Which pretty much means I’m going to subject you to some horrors from the 80s and earlier.

spookiesSPOOKIES (1988)

My first encounter with this gem was on a television network. I was channel surfing for a horror movie, and stumbled upon this creature feature. A house of horrors awaits travelers, who serve as fodder for the myriad creations of the evil sorcerer/necromancer/living dead guy Kreon. Kreon’s sole purpose is to bring his wife back to life, The special effects are pretty terrible, the sets are dark, the acting is less than inspired, but the make-up is pretty good. Be on the lookout for a red-eyed grim reaper, a spider woman, and a plethora of farting mud-men. Altogether, it’s a fun romp, though you’ll have to watch it on YouTube, because it is only available for purchase in Region 2.

HOUSE (1986) & HOUSE II (1987)

houseEven if pressed, I couldn’t tell you which movie I liked better. I had a huge crush on William Katt growing up, but then again, Aztec skulls are pretty interesting too! Both films follow the struggles of the inhabitants of the houses as they battle the various demons, spirits, and curses contained therein. The special effects in both movies are pretty good, considering the time period. In the first movie, William Katt’s zombie Vietnam War buddy’s makeup is pretty convincing, while House II featured a crazy long-dead relative in search of an Aztec skull. (While researching this part of the post, I saw that there is actually a movie called The Horror Show, aka House III, though I’ve never seen it. It was made in 1989, so it certainly follows chronologically. I will let you know if I ever get to see it.)

gremlinsGREMLINS (1984)

This tongue-in-cheek horror film scared me witless as a child! The scenes with the evil gremlin’s hands reaching over desks and through wall vents terrified me. I still have trouble walking by wall vents today, and when I pass a floor vent, I can’t help but stop and search it for a few minutes, just in case. Despite all the funny moments (leg-warmer gremlin anyone?) the movie was still extremely chilling, and the special effects hold up today. When I turned 16 and became a lifeguard at the local town pool, I couldn’t help but think of Gremlins every time I dove or jumped into the deep end. I remembered the way the water bubbled and broiled as the gremlins inside began to multiply. I could only imagine what they looked like climbing out to go and terrorize the little community in the movie. Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, and Cory Feldman steal the show. (No, the sequel is not worth watching.)

CRITTERS (1986), CRITTERS 2 (1988), CRITTERS 3 (1991), & CRITTERS 4 (1994)critters

The Critters franchise is populated with a crew of misfit-Tribbles, who run amok wherever they can. Their preferred method of annihilation is to tuck themselves into a ball, roll like hell, and shoot quills that make people fall asleep. The franchise starts out in a quiet rural town, and ends up where most 80s franchises eventually wind up – Space. The sharp-toothed, murdering bastards somehow wind up cryogenically frozen, and wake up in space where they continue their hungry rampage. It’s alright if you can’t help but laugh at the thought of them barreling through a spaceship – you’re not alone! Throughout the series, look for stand-out performances from Dee Wallace, Billy Zane, Leonardo DiCaprio, Angela Bassett, Brad Dourif, and Lin Shaye.

ghouliesGHOULIES (1985), GHOULIES II (1988), GHOULIES III (1991), & GHOULIES IV (1994)

I’ll admit I’ve only seen the first two, and didn’t realize there were two more movies until working on this post tonight. (Incidentally, I’m watching the first one on Netflix, which is what got me thinking about writing this post.) When I was a child, I was focused solely on how crazy the little Ghoulie pack looked, and it amused me that they were coming out of a toilet on the VHS cover. However, in watching it again, I realize I missed 95% of the plot. Apparently there’s attempted child sacrifice, demonic possession, Satanic rituals, attempted murder, dwarven servants, a creepy clown doll, and zombies. Lots of zombies. And a woman who screams like a whistling teakettle. (That list ought to disappoint some deviant web searchers when they find out it’s only a movie review!) The possession special effects are lacking, but the puppetry of the Ghoulies is still fun to watch. Standout cast include Mariska Hargitay, Jason Scott Lee, and Matthew Lillard.


Good. Grief. This tale of voodoo, Haitian history, and the search for the elusive tetrodotoxin was extremely memorable. Bill Pullman stars as Wade Davis, the renowned ethnobotanist, in a highly fictionalized version of his search for the secret behind the voodoo powder. The film also delves shallowly into the world of the cruel dictatorship of Papa and Baby Doc Duvalier, who ruled Haiti at that time. The book (of the same name) is an extremely worthwhile read. Even though it’s not a supernatural tale, the rich history contained is both interesting and enlightening.

ArachnophobiaARACHNOPHOBIA (1990)

If I had a penny for every time I made my parents sit through this movie with me, I would have enough money to bail our country out of debt. I literally turned the majority of the early 90s into a spider-infested Hell for my parents, insisting on watching this movie every time it came on TV. Then my parents gave in and bought me the VHS. Basically, a tarantula hitches a ride to America in a coffin, sucking the juices out of the body of the man it killed a few scenes prior, and gets loose. A rampage of epic proportions ensues as the spider’s offspring dominate a small and peaceful town. (Some of the spider animatronics towards the end may look a little silly, but if you’re like me and you hate spiders, it’s the thought that counts. It’s also worth noting that there are enough real spiders in the movie to inspire a healthy dose of terror from any arachnophobe.) It’s up to Jeff Daniels, John Goodman, and Julian Sands to save the day in style.

TREMORS (1990)tremors

This movie also has the distinction of being the first DVD I ever owned. Once again, a favorite that I would coerce my parents into watching with me. Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, and Reba McEntire have to battle giant underground worms. The idea is that the heroes have to stop the worms before they leave the valley and cause irrevocable damage to he rest of the world. 90s B-movie horror at it’s best! This movie is gross as Hell, and pretty funny as well. Bacon leads a credible cast, and the special effects aren’t bad either! The gore is just explicit enough that you may want to forego anything with tomato sauce immediately before or after watching it.

jawsJAWS (1975)

I wanted to save my ultimate favorite for last. From the moment I first saw JAWS, and continuing today, I have always loved this movie. It inspired in me a lifelong fascination with sharks. It also made sure that I will always look at the ocean with terrified respect. As a child, I would clean my room while listening to the soundtrack, reciting the lines. I watched every movie documentary and behind the scenes, any any other material I could get my hands on. I knew the name of the mechanical shark was Bruce, I knew that the salt water played havoc on all the models, and I knew the name of most of the crew that worked on the film. I used to make up trivia questions (the harbormaster is Frank Silva – don’t believe me? Watch the movie!) The raw simplicity of the story line – three men out to conquer a monster – was enticing. Glimpses of the shark are infrequent, allowing suspense to build, but when it does make its appearance, it is no disappointment! This movie is based on a popular book by Peter Benchley, but I haven’t read it yet. That’s one book I’m not sure that I will ever read, because I’ve come across comparisons online, and I’m not sure if I am ready for the characters I grew up loving like family to turn out so differently.

What are some of your favorite movies?

Genre Clash – Zombies Meet Body Horror

The-New-Ecology-of-Death-James-Robert-SmithYou know what I miss?  Classic monster movies.  Godzilla destroying a city.  An alien Thing terrorizing people in a god-forsaken wilderness of ice and snow.  A ginormous shark cruising beaches during the 4th of July.  Bring it on!  But, in spite of all of that, I do love my zombies.  I love those pus-filled, shambling wrecks.  I love the runners and sprinters, the spitters, and the groaners.

Why choose when I can have both?  Severed Press just released The New Ecology of Death, written by James Robert Smith.  It combines all the terror of a standard zombie apocalypse with the excitement and innovation of a monster story, and then he goes one step further.  Smith taps into the body horror genre, adding the right amount of classy gore.

The New Ecology of Death begins with zombie Alex Wenzler recovering his consciousness – one might go so far as to say that the fog of death was lifted.  Alex is drawn inexorably to his son Mark, and begins a dangerous trek that brings him ever closer to the living.  Meanwhile, Alex’s widow Beth has remarried and moved on with her life.  She, her son Mark, and her new husband Davis now live in a mansion surrounded by an iron gate.  Her new husband works for the CDC as a statistician.  It’s largely a comfortable life, marred only by the possibility that Alex might stagger hungrily back into it at an inopportune moment.  Alex’s journey will bring them all to a train wreck of epic proportions, one that will set in motion a horrible second  apocalypse that will bring new and more frightening threats to everyone.  Lives will once again be at stake, and it will leave readers begging for a sequel.

I couldn’t have hoped for a better cover for this story.  The pulp fiction style cover (even sporting an out-dated price of 10 cents) speaks to the retro roots of this tale.  It also gives readers a peek at what’s to come – hinting at the zombie transformation concealed within the pages of the book.  Fans of classic body horror movies such as John Carpenter’s The Thing and classic zombie movies such as Romero’s trilogy, will be thrilled with Smith’s literary skill.

The New Ecology of Death by James Robert Smith should be on every horror fanatic’s bookshelf, and likewise in every horror fanatic’s Kindle.  The way Smith ends his book suggests a strong possibility of a sequel.  Grab The New Ecology now, so that you’re not stuck playing catch-up later!

So Bad, I HAD to Review It

I’m sitting in my office at work, pulling the graveyard shift for the credit card processing company I work for.  I’m loving my new job as a support technician – and loving the hours more!  There haven’t been any calls in about two hours, so I’ve been catching up on my reviews and watching shows on my husband’s Netflix account.  Even though I’m the only person in the office and it can get spooky, I still can’t stop watching horror movies!

Tonight, I wanted to look for something different.  I didn’t want to watch the same movies that I’ve already seen.  With a thunderstorm coming in, I would have preferred HBO’s classic show Tales From the Crypt (which aired during my childhood – and scared me witless!), but alas, I left my DVDs at home.  While looking through the queue, I came across Hypothermia, starring Michael Rooker.  Some of you most likely know Rooker from AMC’s The Walking Dead, where he plays Merle Dixon, brother of Daryl Dixon (played by Norman Reedus).  I love watching Rooker tear up the screen as Merle, and I wanted to see him in another role, so I clicked on Hypothermia.  By the end of the movie, the only motivation was Rooker’s performance.

Hypothermia-PosterI think the best way to describe Hypothermia is to say that it’s a mixture of JAWS and Tremors, but set on a frozen lake with far fewer characters, almost none of which are memorable.  The story centers around two families who come to the same lake to ice fish, but have different ways of ice fishing.  Rooker’s family prefers a quiet shelter set up with little holes in the ice.  They sit and share a nondescript hot drink from a Thermos and wait for fish.  The other family, led by (hang on while I go figure out the antagonist’s name)…Steve Cote and his son (I kid you not) Stevie Jr, prefer more high tech methods.  Reading the movie description, it would seem like the two families are supposed to be in opposition, but when I watched it, I wasn’t sure if I was seeing the same movie.  I came to realize that Rooker’s character wanted to have a good time, his family wanted to get out of the area because they were cold, the antagonist was a jerk, and his son was boring.

The scariest part of the movie is the poster.  When the underwater monster was swimming around, the audience knew because the camera shots were from under the ice, with an orange-toned fish-eye camera lens.  This begged the comparison to JAWS, at least the opening sequence anyway.  Sometime during the halfway point, one of the characters realizes that the monster is drawn by vibrations (Tremors rip-off), and so the characters endowed with common sense began to move around quietly, though they didn’t make an effort to get off the ice and back to the cabin.

About three quarters of the way through, the audience finally gets to see the monster.  Bad move, production company.  Very bad move.  The monster is a man in a ridiculous mask that doesn’t have a working mouth, and looks to be made of pleather.  Overall, it’s more of an updated Creature From the Black Lagoon.  When seen from above the ice, it resembles a large koi.  I was going to put a picture of the monster in this post, but I started to feel guilty.  While looking for a suitably funny picture, I stumbled on a few blogs that actually liked the movie and praised the monster.  If you’re interested in seeing it for yourself, just go to google.com and type in “hypothermia movie monster”.  I’m sure you’ll get an eyeful.

In summation, Netflix this movie if you are a fan of Michael Rooker, if you’re watching movies with whimpy people that don’t want to be truly scared, or if you’re out to find the next “so-bad-I-had-to-experience-it-for-myself” movie.


Cover of "Dying to Live: A Novel of Life ...

Cover via Amazon

Hello everyone!  I’m sorry that it’s taken so awfully long to get back to posting.  I just got my first real teaching job and I’m overwhelmed with excitement (and work!)  In addition, apparently I’m about to move houses in two months.  While that’s exciting, it will certainly be a handful!  Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to read or even post on the movies that I’ve seen, but I do hope to rectify that soon enough.  Perhaps this weekend, if I get some spare time.  In any event, I’m glad to be back.

I do have a few special announcements for all of you, all of which I’ve been waiting for some time now.  Permuted Press announced the release date for the third (and as far as I know, final) book of Z.A. Recht’s smash trilogoy “The Morningstar Saga”.  It’s titled “Survivors”, and word is that it will be released on December 27, 2011.  As much as I dearly hate the snow, it would almost be worth more of it to get to that book release date sooner.

Other releases of note include “Dead Bait 2” (a Severed Press title), which features a “Jaws” send-up as its cover picture.  There’s nothing quite like a monstrous piranha swimming up towards a naked woman in open water to instill fear.  Did I mention that the piranha was decayed?  Zombie piranha !  From what I gather the authors include Steve Alten, Ramsey Campbell, Guy N. Smith, Tim Curran, James Robert Smith, Murphy Edwards, Cody Goodfellow, Anthony Wedd, Paul A. Freeman, Raliegh Dugal, James Harris,  Michael Hodges, and Matthew Fryer.

Kim Paffenroth‘s third book in the “Dying to Live” series is out as well.  This title features a carnival tent cover and is titled “Last Rites”.  This book finished up where “Life Sentence” left off – following William, Lucy (Blue Eye), and Truman as they leave the encampment.