Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I wish I hadn't lost that homework, or, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

I was a dorky little kid.

Big surprise, right?

When I first discovered the classic monster movies, I was as obsessed about them as I could be.  I had limited resources - books in the grade school library and the children's section at the local base library.  I read up on the films, studied trivia books, and managed to work the monsters into various projects.

During a Cub Scout meeting, we were making masks out of paper plates.  I remembered reading that Jack Pierce used some sort of glue to create the textured skin of Boris Karloff in The Mummy, so I used half a bottle of Elmer's to glue patches of felt all over my paper plate mask.  (It didn't look very mummy-like when I was done.)

During Art in school one day (I can't remember what grade it was), I used markers to draw a haunted house with a big yard, and then drew separate pictures of monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, etc.), cut them out, and taped them all over the scene.

I don't know what happened to all those monster drawings and projects, and while I wish I could see them today, what I really wish I still had is an essay I wrote in class (still grade school, and I think it was after the monsters-in-the-yard drawing) in which I pontificated as only a know-it-all-monster-loving-dork-of-a-kid could about how little girls dressing up as princessess were "ruining" Halloween.

Over the years, I've dressed up as Boba Fett, Zorro, a pirate, and a robot for Halloween, but somehow, once I learned the names of people like Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, my brain clicked and I decided that Halloween should ONLY be about the scary.  In that essay, I name dropped Lugosi, Karloff, and both Chaneys and declared that people should only dress up as monsters and scary things, and that was that.

That attitude carried on with me when I became a teenager, into my 20s and even a little bit now.  I've softened a bit, and tried not to grumble TOO much last year when I went to a Halloween party with Bren in which the costume theme was "historical figures."  This year, the same party's theme was "Heavy Metal or Horror" and Bren made an AWESOME Bride of Frankenstein.  I threw on a lab coat and some black gloves, made up a quick name tag that read "Frankenstein" and called it good.  I may have phoned it in, but Brenda won for Best Costume.

(And next year's theme has already been determined: science fiction.  I think I can find something scary-sci-fi between now and then!)

I know that the Halloween stores and aisles are filled with more funny or superhero or political or Star Wars or sexy/slutty/completely-inappropriate-for-an-underaged-girl costumes than my beloved "scary."  And I always have to tell myself, "Calm down, Derek.  It's okay."

Because it is.  Really.  Listen to yourself, Derek.  It's okay.  No matter what you wrote when you were a weird little kid who drew monster faces that took up entire sheets of 8-1/2"x11" sheets of notebook paper (who REALLY liked drawing scars that crossed over the monster's eyelids for some reason), it's okay.  Besides, everyone's watching you at this point.

I think I kind of lost the point of this Plan D entry.  Back on track and to the point: I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Halloween, no matter how you celebrate it (even if you dress up as a princess).  But do yourself a favor - even if you're wearing more pink than blood red, treat yourself to something a little spooky.  Watch a scary movie.  Go to a haunted house.  Enjoy yourself.  I'm certainly going to . . . !

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Frankenstein and the Bride on the BIG SCREEN

Yeah, it was digital and streamed, but you know what?  I still got to see Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein on the big screen Wednesday night, and it was AWESOME.

Originally, I wanted to get to the theater early because I wanted to find a good seat.  The Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing is about ten minutes from my home, and I (after waiting in a line three customers deep for the concession stand employee who left us waiting for too long before even wandering over to sling some popcorn) settled into my theater chair around 6:45pm.

I needn't have worried about finding a good seat.  I didn't think to count how many people were in the audience, but looking back, I'd guess at there being maybe 40 or so other folks in the audience.

When we weren't seeing advertisements for upcoming Fathom events, there was a very limited slideshow featuring multiple choice trivia questions about classic horror movies.  There were all about the Universal classics . . . except for the "which of the following films was not directed by Jack Arnold" question which provided Them! as one of the possible answers.

There weren't that many questions, and we rotated through them quickly.  There was also a spot featuring Ben Mankiewicz talking about TCM and why he/we loves/love classic cinema.  He made a really good point about the "golden age of Hollywood," and made me want to go to the movies with him.

Not to be shone up by TCM's weekend-shift-guy, Robert Osborne took to the screen.  (Does anyone call him "the face of TCM"?  I would.)  He introduced the films before taking us to an interview with Bela Lugosi, Jr., Sara Karloff, and Rick Baker.  I didn't really learn much of anything new, but I did think Lugosi looked a little more worn down than I'm used to seeing him (and he's definitely looking more and more like his father the older he gets).  Karloff seemed to get a bit more screen time between the two children, but I don't know if that was a function of editing or Osborne asking her more questions in the first place.  Rick Baker was his humble and entertaining self.

Then the movie started.

And everyone in the theater was silent.  I can't remember the last time I went to a movie and the audience was respectfully quiet.  I was suddenly self-conscious about whether or not people could hear me munching on my popcorn.

There was a ten minute intermission between the two films, and someone took my seat when I left for a bathroom run.  I wasn't worried as I knew I'd be able to find somewhere else to sit.  This did give me an opportunity, though, to look over the audience, and I noticed that some people left after Frankenstein.  I also noticed that there was a definite variety of people in the audience.  The youngest seemed to be in their early-20s, the oldest maybe in their 50s.  One couple was dressed up (fancy suit, dress, etc.), but most of us were casual (I wore my jeans and a Creature from the Black Lagoon shirt).

I don't know how the resolution of the films will stack up against the blu-rays I have at home, and I did think some of what I saw in Frankenstein could have looked (and maybe sounded) just a bit sharper than it did, but, I got to see these movies on the big screen . . . ON THE BIG SCREEN.  I noticed some things about the films (the detail of the Monster's battle damage make-up on his arms as well as his tears in Bride..., for example) I don't remember noticing before.

I have no idea when I'll ever have the opportunity to see these movies like this again, and while it was in the middle of the work week and I had to be at work the next morning, I loved watching these movies this way.  I wish there was a way for me to see all these classic horror films (or "terror films" to use the phrase Sara Karloff said her father preferred to use when describing these movies) like this.

I do wish the theater itself had done a little more to celebrate these films being shone, but all in all, I had a great time at the movies (after Wednesday night, and seeing Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein at a different theater the preceding Monday night, I have no idea how I'm going to watch on Halloween since I feel like I've already hit my monster-movie-watching-peak this week!).

Monday, October 22, 2012

Abbott and Costello were there for my first time

I've told this story before: I came to my horror fandom in an odd-and-roundabout way.  Parents didn't think I should watch horror flicks.  No r-rated movies.  Religious family.  Still drawn to monsters.  Loved Halloween.  Stumbled across the Crestwood House Monster Series of books in the children's section of the local library (one of these days I'm going to get around to tracking down these books - I only have the King Kong and Creature from the Black Lagoon books).  Studied up on the classics as much as my grade school kid mind would allow.  Drew pictures of monsters in class.  If such a thing as being a "monster kid" without seeing any of the monster movies was possible for a grade school kid in the early- to mid-80s, I was it.

Then I finally saw one of the "classic" Universal monster films - Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.  I remember vividly being at a friend's house on a weekend and flipping through channels, and we stumbled across the animated opening title sequence.  As soon as I saw the names "Bela Lugosi" and "Lon Chaney, Jr." I knew what we were watching.  Those names were etched into my brain at this point, and thanks to those Crestwood House books, I knew that this film was the last go-round for all these characters.  I didn't care that I hadn't seen the other films - I knew the stories leading up to the film, and I loved it.

And in a few minutes, I'm about to head out to the Joy Cinema to see the film on the big screen.  I can't wait!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Words Up, Weight Down - 10/17/12

There's not much progress to report.

Weight-wise, I'm frustratingly exactly where I was last week.  I did start to lose track of my caloric intake, and the changes in the weather kept me inside in the morning so my morning walks aren't happening any more.  I did get our treadmill ready for use and have been hitting that in the morning instead, but my schedule has been inconsistent.

Progress-wise on the "Zecret Kindle Project" is ALMOST exactly where I was last week.  I've made a little progress on tweaking the formatting, and have heard back from half of the folks that I've sent the first 20-ish% of the finished product, so I'm starting to feel comfortable about moving forward.  By the end of this upcoming weekend, I hope to have made a huge dent in the next 20-ish% of the Project.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Words Up, Weight Down - 10/10/12

Let's get back into the swing of things . . .

This week's weigh in kept me right around where I was during last week's (unblogged) weigh in.  I've actually gone up about half-a-pound.  Compared to two week's ago, I'm down just under one pound.  Overall, I know I'm still on the weightloss journey, and I've lost a total of 27.2 pounds since getting serious about this in August.

I hit a mini-milestone on the writing front.  Most of my focus has been on a Kindle project that involves a LOT of formatting, which makes it hard to track my progress by word count.  Rather, I can proudly report that the first Kindle draft is 20% complete.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Thursday Thirteen: October Happiness


The Thursday Thirteen is a recurring feature here at Plan D in which I post a list of 13 items/movies/books/etc. of any given category. Last month, I was in a bit of a funk.  I'm chalking it up to pre-seasonal-depression . . . the season in question being the Halloween Season.  Now that October is upon us, I've got a number of things - thirteen in fact - that I'm looking forward to.

- Zompire: The Undead Film Festival (aka Zompire vs. The H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival). Zompire is BACK! This film festival returns from the dead this October when it fills Portland's Clinton Street Theater with all manner of zombie and vampire films . . . with a dose of the Lovecraftian thrown into the mix to help slake our eldritch thirst until the next Lovecraft Film Festival next year. Zompire happens October 12-14.

- Howl Con - From the con's website: "HOWL CON, a horror/fantasy convention dedicated to your love of wolves and werewolves, is coming to the Monarch Hotel & Conference Center in Portland, Oregon this October 13-14 (meet-and-greet the evening of Friday, October 12). A substantial portion of HOWL CON’s proceeds will be shared with Pacific Northwest wolf sanctuaries." And it looks like I'll be on at least one panel at this con.

- I Heart Monster Movies premiere.  I'm attending the premiere of this horror-fan-centric documentary the evening of October 12.  (I get to attend the premiere because I was interviewed for it, but this isn't the only reason I'm excited to see the movie!)

(Did you notice that? Check your calendar. These first three events ALL happen the same weekend. That weekend is going to be INCREDIBLY busy with a horror documentary Friday night, werewolves during the day Saturday and Sunday, vampires and zombies Saturday night and a touch of Lovecraft Sunday night. It's going to be busy . . . but in the best possible way.)

- The Universal Classic Monsters Blu-ray Collection. Somewhere between the UK and my mailbox is the European release of this blu-ray collection.  I can't wait to watch the classic Universal films - Frankenstein, Dracula, etc. - on my HD TV in their best possible presentation . . . and to display the blu-rays in their coffin-shaped box.  My only disappointment?  I don't have a 3D TV to watch the 3D version of Creature from the Black Lagoon.

- Corn Maze.  We haven't decided which one we'll attend, but Bren and I have talked about hitting up a semi-local corn maze or two this month.  It can be tough sometimes with our various health issues making it difficult to spend the car time necessary to drive out somewhere with uneven grounds and a lot of walking around, but it's also oh-so-Fall and something that we always enjoy in the moment.  One of my favorite pictures of my wife is a picture I took of her at a corn maze, and I'm looking forward to spending some time with her among the stalks soon.

- A haunt or two?  This isn't Bren's bag - and that's all right - and I really don't like going to these things alone, but a friend of mine has started talking about going to one this year, and if he's willing to pull the trigger, I'm THERE.

- Monster cereal.  I still have boxes of this stuff from last year, and I'm a little disappointed (but not all together surprised) that the box design hasn't changed, but it's still always nice to see my friends Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Franken Berry gracing the shelves of my local grocery store.

- Odd Halloween costume merchandise.  This year seems to be a good year for the odd Halloween costumes.  Zombie stockings (nylons after a pair of scissors taken to them).  The reported "American Horror Story" Black Rubber Man costume at typically family-friendly retail locations.  And this one - the Super Soft Old Woman.  Just . . . bizarre . . . and funny . . .

- Halloween-themed television.  Even reality shows take a turn for the Halloween during October with shows featuring pumpkin carving, special make-up effects, a mask maker's warehouse, and that doesn't include the hours upon DVR-straining hours of movies on TCM, AMC, etc.  (And did someone say "The Walking Dead?"  I didn't - I'm still not caught up on Season Two!  Shhhh . . . don't tell anyone . . . !)

- Halloween-themed episodes of podcasts not necessarily devoted to horror all the time.  I'm involved with two podcasts that focus more on horror than anything else, but that doesn't mean I listen to only horror-themed podcasts.  But it's October.  It's time to get all spooky in your ear buds, and a lot of podcasts I listen to are going all horror this month.

- Countdown to Halloween... I look forward to this blog event every year, and if you were to look at my Google Reader, you'd find several blogs that I added after discovering them during a previous year's Countdown to Halloween...

- Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein on the big screen.  I've already purchased my tickets and took the time off from work.  I am NOT going to miss an opportunity to see these moves on the big screen (courtesy of TCM and Fathom Events).  I would have never thought I'd have the opportunity to see these films in a theater-setting (even if they are being streamed digitally) . . .

- Halloween itself.  I have no idea what I'm doing the actual day of Halloween, but I'm sure I'll find something, and I don't need a blog countdown to tell me how many days left until I have before "my" holiday hits.

(And I didn't even mention Turkish Star Wars . . . )

Monday, October 1, 2012


It's been a couple weeks since I updated Plan D, and I wanted to take a quick second to get myself back on track.

On Facebook and Twitter, I've mentioned the health of one of our cats.  Lovee (aka Lavie) dropped a lot of weight, and after multiple appointments at her regular vet, a visit to a naturopath, and then a second opinion/switch to a new vet, she seems to be on the mend.  We're still not 100% sure what happened to cause her to lose so much weight so quickly, have liver problems and become jaundiced (her new vet suspects a problem with her liver, but we're making a dent on that problem).  She's doing a lot better, but still has some progress to make (a full return of her appetite - she still sometimes need some prompting for food and she's not drinking on her own very often).

This was all over the past couple of weeks, which kept my brain simultaneously preoccupied and exhausted, which meant my productivity both writing- and health-wise went down.  I didn't do my morning walks as often as I should, I may have slipped a bit on my caloric intake, and I haven't spent enough time in front of the keyboard as I should.

I'll get back on the Words Up, Weight Down-horse next Wednesday.