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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

This poem has a surprising ending...Enjoy!

An October Night
by Charles Audette

The wind whispers
A wary warning
There was plenty, still
Early this morning

These primal urges
Are hard to fight
An unholy diet
A dark appetite

The pavement scrapes
With scuttling leaves
I'll pull the drapes
And hope to deceive

The moon suffocates
In ominous clouds
Shut off the lights
Heartbeats too loud

Then the neighbor's gate creaks
But it's not the wind
That seeks to feast
On fearing humans

Red brake lights
A car crawls by slow
The shadowy shapes
On my dark doorstep know

That the empty window
Of my house lies.
The horrible truth
Hides deep inside

Everything tonight
Could have been just dandy
But now the demons have wrath -
Cause I ate all the candy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It Was a Monster Bash!

As you know, most of the time I try to stay away from posting about my personal life and focus on discussing arts and entertainment, but I just had to give a shout-out to our friends Kat and Chris, who always throw the best Halloween parties. We attended their party this past Saturday. They are the royal couple pictured to the left. Aren't their costumes amazing? They looked like they'd stepped right out of the pages of a Medieval text.

Here is the motley roll call of party attendees: the royal lord and lady, the goddess Athena, a Dharma workman (my husband), Edgar Allan Poe's Raven (me), a sorceress, a KISS fan, a dead bride, two serial killers (they look just like everyone else), a pumpkin princess and "Daddy's Little Monster" (Kat and Chris' little boy in a cute Halloween t-shirt with that title). Those of you who watch LOST will understand my husband's Dharma workman costume.

We munched on wonderful goodies, such as "deviled" eggs, a "decrepit" cheese log with black crackers, drank witch's brew and got carnivoristic on some barbecue ribs. For desert we had carmel apples and I made a cake in the shape of a witch's spell book. Yum!

Of course, no K&C Halloween party would be complete without some party games. We played Pass the Apple (no hands), Spider Toes (my feet have never been so cold!) and Lupus in Tabula (i.e. Wolves at the Table - an old German party game, which has been turned into a card game.) We had a great time (although I don't think K&C's dogs were thrilled with the festivities) and everyone went home with a little gift.

To top it all off, on our way home, we saw the most beautiful harvest moon. It was a spook-tacular day. Thanks to Kat and Chris for making my favorite holiday extra-fun! For you loyal blog readers, leave me a comment and let me know if you went to any parties this weekend, or what your plans are for Halloween.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

8 Random Things About My Kitchen

I have been tagged by my friend Laura. Unfortunately, it is about one of my least favorite things to talk about - my kitchen. For those of you who read my blog regularly, you are already aware of my cooking skills (or lack thereof - the only thing I know how to make is reservations), but this should prove to be entertaining if nothing else, so here we go.

1. I can't remember the last time I used my stove. Seriously. Although I will be using it tomorrow, because I have to make a cake for my friend's Halloween party. The stove is actually my mom's - when she sold her house, she didn't want to let her nice flat glass top stove go with it, so we switched it out with our ancient stove. It's a nice stove. It's a shame it doesn't see more use.

2. We need a new garbage disposal. It's been dead for a while.

3. I always dreamed of having a kitchen that had windows above the sink, so you could at least have a nice view and blissfully daydream while you did dishes. Coincidentally, this house has that. Bad news is it doesn't make doing the dishes any more bearable. I hate doing dishes almost as much as I hate cooking, if not more.

4. Contents of the freezer: a pint of Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia, a pint of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, a reusable ice pack, a couple of ancient foil-wrapped packets, probably containing freezer-burned hamburger.

5. Contents of the refrigerator: cans of soda, milk, a take-out container of leftovers, various condiments, one lonely apple, a jar of pickles.

6. I have a collection of ceramic teapots and teacups, including a teacup and saucer I got in London. (The best tea I EVER had was in London.) I love tea and actually have an electric teapot instead of a coffeemaker.

7. In one of the cabinets is a raclette. Our friend Sylvie, who is from France, hosted a raclette dinner for us and we loved it. She ended up buying the raclette for us last Christmas and we've used it a couple times. It's a great way to host a dinner party because you don't have to cook. You just prep the food and all the guests cook their own. You can read more about it here.

8. My favorite thing about my kitchen is all the pictures on my refrigerator of my friends and their kids. :-)

Whew! It was hard to come up with eight things. Now I tag Kathleen and Elizabeth!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Excuse Me, But Your Fangs Are In My Neck

I just got home from seeing "30 Days of Night", which got me to thinking of all my favorite vampire movies. I enjoy making lists, so here's a list of my top 13 favorites. You'll notice that quite a few of them fall into the realm of humor, or are the type of movies that are scary but also poke fun at the genre. Why? Because a good, terrifyingly scary vampire movie is hard to find. So many have been made, but so few of them are good. . .

TOP 13 FAVORITE VAMPIRE MOVIES

1. Nosferatu (1922)
2. Dracula (1931 w/ Bela Lugosi)
3. Shadow of the Vampire
4. The Lost Boys
5. 30 Days of Night
6. John Carpenter's Vampires
7. The Fearless Vampire Killers
8. Dracula (1958 w/ Christopher Lee)
9. Fright Night
10. Vampire’s Kiss
11. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
12. The Blade Trilogy
13. Underworld: Evolution

I also thought I'd include some of my biggest vampire movie disappointments, since I know these movies will immediately come to mind and you'll wonder why they didn't make my list.

VAMPIRE MOVIES THAT SUCK:

From Dusk ‘til Dawn
I love Quentin Tarantino. I love Robert Rodriguez. But I guess neither one was meant to make a horror movie. I must say that I really enjoy the first 30 minutes of the film which, ironically, has nothing to do with vampires. Quentin's dysfunctional criminal character is scarier than any of the vampires that show up later.

Interview with the Vampire
Don't even get me started on this movie. This is a film based on one of my all-time favorite books, so maybe it was doomed from the start as far as my expectations are concerned, but come on - Brad Pitt? Tom Cruise? The only three compliments I can give to the film is 1. Kristen Dunst is amazing as Claudia, 2. Antonio Banderas makes a better vampire than Brad and Tom put together and 3. its fairly faithful to the novel as far as plotline goes.

Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula
Yes, this one makes the list, even though I’m a big fan of Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins and Winona Ryder. Don't even get me started on this movie either. I sat in line for hours to see the first showing on opening weekend, I was so excited, then found myself wanting to get up and walk-out during the middle of the film, I was so unhappy. What a tragic mess.

Dracula 2000
It's the year 2000 and we still can't make a decent, scary movie vampires? I had such hopes. Although their revelation of Dracula’s ‘true” identity was very creative and an intriguing idea.

Underworld
Again, I had high hopes, as the previews for this movie looked awesome. Unfortunately, the only thing the vampires in this film do is stand around and pose in the latest goth club wear. Oh, and their eyes turn blue. (yawn)
The best thing about this movie was Bill Nighy as the creepy master vampire. He was intimidating and scary. I did like the back story about the werewolves and the vampires. Too bad the werewolves got all the cool fight scenes and supernatural powers. The only supernatural power the vampires had was Kate Beckingsale in skin-tight latex.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Alfred Hitchcock Presents

This is just one example of many reasons why I love the month of October. It's hands-down my favorite month.

This Saturday, October 20th, the AMC movie channel (DirecTV channel 254) will be running an Alfred Hitchcock movie marathon all day. The marathon includes some of my favorites, such as The Trouble with Harry, Rear Window and Psycho. Here's the full schedule for the day on the AMC website.

Hitchcock was an amazing, innovative director who really knew how to tell a story. I always enjoyed his movies, but gained an even deeper appreciation for his artistry after taking a film class in college. Pure genius.

I also loved watching his TV show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, in re-runs as a kid, and have discovered they've found a new life on the Chiller channel (DirecTV channel 257).

Anyway, you know what I'll be doing this Saturday! Leave me a comment and let me know what your favorite Hitchcock movie is!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Book Bites

I just realized that I have finished reading several books without doing my mini-reviews or "book bites" on them. So here is a run-down of the things I have read in the last couple of months since my last Book Bite. I've tried to be brief as possible, but since I've read a lot of books, this will still be a long-ish post. So you'd better get a cup of coffee and get settled before you start.

13 Bullets by David Wellington (3 Stars)

Detective Arkeley and his partner destroyed all vampires several years ago. All of them except their queen, who was locked up in solitary confinement. Flashforward several years to present day and it seems the vampires are coming back on the scene. The retired detective is called back into service to help a small town cop fight them off and solve the mystery of how they are being made. This book had lots of fun fast-paced action and a unique take on the nature of the vampire monster. Detective Arkeley seems to have stepped right out of a film noir detective movie. I was interested in his hard-boiled character and wanted more of him, and less of the main character, the small town cop. I had a hard time connecting with her, identifying with her or just plain being interested in her. The plot was pretty basic and thin, and I saw the resolution from about a mile away. This book really annoyed me though, because of the abrupt, unsatisfactory ending, which I complained about in another post.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K.Rowling (5 Stars)

I can't imagine the pressure J.K. Rowling was under to finish her story in a way that was satisfying both for her as a writer and for her loyal fans. I'm pleased to say she delivered. The final book was bittersweet, in that it was an end to the magic. I'll admit, I cried in a couple of places. I was deeply satisfied with the choices she made with one character arc in particular. She did exactly what I was wanting her to do with that character. I'm being ambiguous with my comments so as not to spoil the ending for anyone who hasn't read it. Feel free to hop over to the comments and I'll chat in more detail with you about it if you like.

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause (3 Stars)

So...when I picked this book up in the bookstore bin, I had no idea it was "young adult/teen" fiction. I quickly found out though. I couldn't help but wonder, "Was I this melodramatic and moody as a teenage girl?" I didn't care for the teen/angst romance plot line, but the werewolf mythology the author created was really interesting and she played off of the idea of wolf packs which was cool. (It's amazing how a pack of teenage boys can be eerily similar to a pack of wolves.) In short, I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. I'm contemplating renting the movie adaptation to see how different it is from the book.

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman (5 Stars)

I'll admit my bias upfront, I am in love with Neil Gaiman's work. This is a collection of his short stories. He writes sci-fi/fantasy stories, some with dark, horror undertones, all of which are imaginative and great, but the works I love the most are his adult fairy tales. My favorite stories in this collection are ""Chivalry" (about a little old lady who finds the Holy Grail in an antique store), "The Troll Bridge" (a re-telling of the three billy goats gruff fairy tale), "The White Road" (a re-telling of the Mr. Fox fairy tales), "We Can Get Them For You Wholesale" (a dark story about a man who hires a hitman and things get out of hand), and "Snow, Glass, Apples" (a dark re-telling of Snow White that has changed my view of the story forever.) Some of the stories have H.P. Lovecraft influences which was fun. There are also a couple of stories that don't seem to work, that frankly, I wish I could have skipped. But all in all Gaiman's joy in writing is infectious as you read his work. His imagination and wry humor are so entertaining. I can't get enough. (By the way, he writes a very witty blog - there's a link to it on my blog list.)

The Devil and Miss Prym: A Novel of Temptation by Paulo Coelho (3 Stars)

A stranger comes to a small town with a tempting proposition for the townsfolk. He is in search for an answer to the question, "Are human beings in, essence, good or evil?" and hopes to find his answer with his dangerous proposition. This novel was an interesting exercise, but the problem with the book is the characters are all allegories for Good and Evil and it's obvious. So you don't really care what happens to them. It was like reading a long philosophical dissertation on God and the nature of humans, with a long illustration to accompany it. It was lacking when it came to literary graces or beauty or even interesting language.

Additionally annoying, was the habit the author had of throwing out different arguments or statements, but then not exploring them, or supporting them. He would just statement them and move on. The characters all have these weird discussions/arguments that seem like their only purpose is to raise a bunch of philosophical questions that seem connected to the main theme of the book but then are never answered and don't really affect the outcome of the story in the long run. So why bother having them?
Also, most of what comes out of the characters' mouths would be totally unbelieveable for that character if they were a real person - for example: a bar maid who gives long soliloquies on the nature of good and evil, free will, etc. Yeah, right. They are obviously vehicles or mouthpieces for the author to spout his own ideas thru. I mean, I know that's all books or any other art is - a vehicle for the artist to get a message across. But this book was very transparent.

Whew! That's all my book bites for now. I need to try and stay on top of these and write them as I finish each book, so I don't have another marathon post like this one! Leave me a comment and let me know what you've been reading lately, or if you've also read one of these books, let me know what you thought about them.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Happy Anniversary!




















Gomez: "Unhappy darling?"

Morticia: "Oh yes, completely!"

Happy anniversary sweetie! It's been eleven strange wonderful years! I'm looking forward to many more. xoxo

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Honesty Is Such A Lonely Word (Part 2)

"If you search for tenderness
It isn't hard to find
You can have the love you need to live
But if you look for truthfulness
You might just as well be blind
It always seems to be so hard to give

Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you"

- Lyrics from the song "Honesty" by Billy Joel.

At the beginning of the summer, I wrote a post about Honesty in the Arts and called it "Part 1" of a two-part article. However, the discussion in the comments section didn't light up as I'd hoped it would, and so I didn't pursue writing part 2 for fear of a lack of interest by my readers. But the O.C. part of me just couldn't let there be a part 1 in the blogosphere without there being a part 2 to accompany it. So here we go...

In Part 1, I talked about Honesty in music, literature, art, etc., especially when it comes to writing fiction. It takes a lot of courage and a willingness to be vulnerable with your own feelings in order to translate honest, real emotions into your characters, as well as true strengths and true flaws. If you can challenge yourself to do that, I do think it pays off in compelling, affecting writing.

Since writing that post, I've been striving for more honesty in my own creative writing and am pleased to say I think I've written my first piece, a small poem, that truly accomplishes that goal of honesty in a way I never have achieved before in my written work. It was no small victory, and it stung a little, to be that transparent, but it was also very freeing and rewarding.

Speaking about honesty in the arts is one thing, but what about honesty in real life? It can be life changing: honesty among your co-workers, your friends, your family, your spouse. Honesty includes within it the ideals of sincerity, honor, trust, fairness, straightforwardness and integrity.

It is such a blessing when you have people in your life who are willing to be honest with you. How precious is that close friend who is willing to lay it on the line and be honest with you, even if she knows it is not what you want to hear. She will say it anyway, because she cares about you and wants the best for you.

It may be cliche, but it is true, that an honest mechanic, an honest accountant, an honest lawyer or an honest politician is a rare find and is to be greatly valued. What about an experience at work, such as a performance review, where your boss was so honest and fair that not only was it refreshing but enlightening? Maybe it was a cause for you to change your work habits and strive harder or was a cause to celebrate in knowing your hard work was appreciated.

Honesty in a marriage is essential. What a relief to know you can be honest with that one person, without fear of rejection or ridicule, knowing that he will take the time to understand you and your feelings.

And how hurtful is it when someone isn't honest and doesn't hold up to their word or deceives you? Especially when it is someone close to you.

Sometimes it's hard to be honest, because it might mean admitting to a fear or a weakness, but I have found, for the most part, it is all the more rewarding to take that leap and dare to be transparent and open with someone. Relationships have grown by leaps and bounds in those little conversations.

So there you are...part 2...some rambling thoughts on the nature of honesty (in real life) and the blessings and risks that come with it.