2012 Resolutions

I’m happy to say that I kept my resolutions from last year for the most part (that not losing too much weight resolution counts since I may have gained a little weight). It’s now time to turn my attention to 2012.

Here are my five resolutions for the new year.

1. Not get dead. My guaranteed-to-keep resolution.

2. Dance. I feel 2011 was lacking in dancing. I’d like to do more of that.

3. Take pictures. I forget to capture life’s moments. I need to make a goal of that this year.

4. Give. I’d like to do something for one of my favorite charities, even if it’s just spreading the word.

5. Have a good time. This is my other guaranteed resolution. I will always find a way to have a good time.

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Costume Crazy!

Halloween is a great holiday. Aside from the candy and the month long flow of horror movies and the radio playing “Monster Mash”, “Werewolves of London”, and “Thriller”, dressing up is truly my favorite part. Even though I’m usually only dressing  up to pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters, I take it seriously.

I have a philosophy on Halloween costumes (any costume really). I believe that a majority of it should be assembled from individual pieces and that as little of it as possible should be bought. In other words, the slutty version of whatever costumes don’t cut it for me. Buying the entire costume already put together is no fun. Buying every separate piece of the costume and putting it together yourself is more fun. Spending absolutely no money on a costume and pulling everything together from stuff you already own is the best.

For me, Halloween is a challenge. I like to see what I can come up with stuff I already own and I try to spend as little money as possible doing it. This isn’t half-assing it, either. I’ve come up with some really good costumes that have gotten me plenty of compliments.

I like to dress up as my own thing, a twist on something typical. Last year I dressed up as the perfect housewife. I put on a shirt and skirt and my flats. I did up my hair and make-up. I wore pearls. And then I wore the bloody apron my roommate made for me for Christmas (it says “Killer Cook” on it and with blood splatters and bloody hand prints; I love it) and smeared my face and hands with some fake blood (I always have some on hand) and carried around a really nasty looking butcher knife. It didn’t cost me a thing to do that year.

The one costume I did that I felt got me the best reaction was when I dressed up as a beauty queen. For less than twenty bucks, I scored a silver paint pen, some black fabric, and a cheap tiara. I put on a red and black dress, high heels, did up my hair and make-up. I then smeared my lipstick and mascara and disheveled my hair, the tiara looking like it’d been almost pulled out and put hastily black. With the fabric and paint pen I made a sash that said “beauty queen”.

While passing out candy, two little girls came to the door. One of them asked me what I was and I told her I was a beauty queen. As they walked away, one girl leaned to the other and said, “Beauty queens aren’t supposed to be scary”. To this day, I don’t know that I’ve gotten a better compliment on a costume.

Occasionally, I’ll go as actual characters. A couple of years ago, for the cost of a cheap wig and a bracelet, I went as Madeline Westen from Burn Notice. After creator Matt Nix retweeted a picture of my costume, my mentions flooded with compliments.

This year I’m going as Hetty Lange from NCIS: LA. Eight bucks for a wig is all I spent. I think this will be another good one.

Little money doesn’t mean little effort.

On Trick-or-Treating

The last time I went trick-or-treating, I was seventeen and a senior in high school. It wasn’t one of those throw-on-a-mask-to-get-free-candy deals, either. My friends and I decked out in full-on, homemade costumes.

I dressed as a Monkeeman. My costume was spot on. It's almost 15 years later and I'm still proud as hell of it.

Most people think that trick-or-treating is a kid thing and once a kid gets of a certain age, they should stop doing it. When word got out that I’d gone trick-or-treating as a senior high school, not all of my friends were receptive. They thought it was wrong. Ridiculous. Childish.

For the record, no house we went to turned us down for candy. Some questioned us. It’s not a done thing, kids our age trick-or-treating. A few gave us a hard time. But it was hard for them to argue with us when we put more effort in our costumes than some of the parents dragging their kids around the neighborhood.

That’s how I look at it. The better costumes get the better candy, no matter what the age. If a 45 year old man decked out as a convincing Homer Simpson  showed up at my door, I’d be giving him Milky Way, while the 11 year olds who just smeared some fake blood on their faces would be getting my crap candy.

And yeah, I do get crap candy every year for just that purpose. I won’t turn anyone away, but I will make them wish they hadn’t bothered stopping at my house.

Though I haven’t gone trick-or-treating since high school, I do make it a point to dress up to pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters that show up to my house.

Consider it an inspiration to the youth that Halloween doesn’t have to stop when you’re thirteen.

Five Favorite Horror Movies

Tis the season of spooky! As a horror film lover, you had to have seen this list coming. Keep in mind that these aren’t the best made horror films or the greatest horror films of all time. They’re my five favorites, ones that I’ll watch again and again and again (and again).

Also note that of the five listed here, three have remakes. I’m talking about the originals, guys. Also, none of the movies were made recently. I’m talking the “newest” one on  the list came out the year I was born. Not that I don’t like some recent horror flicks. It’s just that I’m old school like that.

My five favorite horror movies (in no particular order):

1. Halloween (1978). It’s simple, low-budget, and effective. The killer wears a white-painted William Shatner mask. The idea of that being scary is ridiculous, but the reality of it is terrifying. The slow reveal of that mask after Laurie finds her friends dead is always chilling. To this day, if I see someone wearing the now classic Michael Myers mask, it gives me pause. And the urge to run.

2. House on Haunted Hill (1959). Vincent Price is an angel in my world and I love his work. This movie was a William Castle special and when it was released, featured a skeleton on wires to appear during a key part of the movie.  But, even without the live skeleton, the low key creeps the movie provides are effective, particularly when you realize exactly what’s going on. The “ghosts” in this house have nothing on the humans.

3. Friday the 13th (1980). A young Kevin Bacon getting an arrow shoved through his throat? Who doesn’t like that? To me, this is the movie that really solidified the teen slasher flick, with the isolated location, the gorier deaths, the GOTCHA ending. The killer’s point of view was also a fun touch that kept the real killer’s identity a secret until the end.

4. Alien (1979). The isolation of space. The claustrophobia of the ship. The threat of sabotage from within. A monster that you only saw in glimpses. The classic chestbursting scene that’s scarred more than one kid for life. The tension build over the course of the movie is enough to have your palms sweating so that when the alien is finally revealed in full, screaming isn’t hard to do.

5. Jaws (1975). “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Indeed. This is one of those movies that I’ve seen so much that if don’t feel like sitting through the whole thing, I’ve got it timed so I can tune in to my favorite scenes. From the opening attack to the shark blowing up, the mechanical shark not working is the best thing that happened to this movie. Keeping the shark in the shadows just heightened the threat and the fear. Sure, there are several shark inaccuracies in the movie, but by the time the shark eats Quinn, you’ve pretty much forgiven them all.

Bad Movie Bliss

If someone invites me to the theater or over to their house to watch the latest critically acclaimed masterpiece that doesn’t feature dwarves, elves, and Andy Serkis, I’m probably going to take a pass to watch a cable chopped version of Alien:Resurrection. Why? Because bad movies are where I live.

I’m not a big movie person to begin with. I like movie trivia, but I was voted least likely to sit through one (if such a vote ever took place). I’m no end of frustration to my friends because when they ask if I’ve seen a movie, nine times out of ten I haven’t. That tenth time, the movie is probably horrible and I’ve seen it a dozen times. The only reason I’ve seen some of the more popular/critically acclaimed/so-cool-I-can’t-believe-you-haven’t-seen-it movies in the past couple of decades (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, American Beauty, Clerks, Fight Club, the list goes one) is because somebody MADE me.

This isn’t a recent phenomenon. I can remember being little and my beloved Papa making me watch The Princess Bride. I had absolutely no interest in seeing it. My attitude was not unlike Fred Savage’s in the film. By the end, I was hooked and wanted to watch it again. And again.

While most people’s guilty pleasures are the crappy movies I live on, mine are the opposite. Two of my favorite films are Delicatessen and My Dinner With Andre. At first glance, Delicatessen is right up my alley. It’s a black comedy. Why is it a guilty pleasure? It’s French. It’s a foreign film. I have to read subtitles. Just the fact that it’s from another country should automatically put it out of my league.

And My Dinner With Andre? It’s two guys sitting and talking for pretty much the whole film. That’s it. It contains nothing the movies on my shelves have going for them.

But this isn’t about the good. It’s about the bad.

Horror movies are my favorite. Naturally, I love the greats like Halloween, Psycho, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Jaws, Alien, Friday the 13th, and so forth. But I also love their sequels. I’ve been known to waste afternoons watching Friday the 13th movies that I even I think are crap just because I’m still watching Jason Voorhees and that beats anything else playing at the moment.

The SyFy channel was made for me. Those B-movie concepts are my cup of tea. I’ve been known to cancel plans for Pterodactyl, Sharktopus, and Mega Piranha. I can put those on and enjoy without being expected to think. If it’s possible to less than think, then that’s what I do watching those movies.

With Halloween approaching, my TV should soon be glutted with horrible delights, if I’ve got any luck at all. Between SyFy and AMC, I should get more than my fill of both the good and the bad. It’s something I look forward to all year.

And am always disappointed when they put the best stuff on at 3AM so they can show Constantine and Return to the House on Haunted Hill.

Some bad even I won’t touch.

The Last Trip to Wrigley (For the Season)

Tuesday I took my last trip to Wrigley for the season. I went by myself and did everything I could to soak it all up.

Unfortunately, it was 3 dollar beer night in the bleachers, so there was definitely some stuff I didn’t want to soak up.

I got a freebie floppy hat, took pictures of my favorite players, nearly got run over multiple times by herds of grown men chasing batting practice home runs, ate a helmet of ice cream for dinner, sung the 7th inning stretch with Gale Sayer, met what could be the only cool Brewers fans alive, and endured a wicked bus ride while strap hanging.

This experience has to hold me until next season.

Yeah, I’ll be jonesing for another trip before the season ends next week.

Save my place, Billy Williams.

Kansas City Road Trip

The last weekend in June, my best friend of 25+ years, Haley, and I road tripped it on out to Kansas City. It’s about a six hour drive from our neck of the Illinois cornfield. Here are a few pictures and highlights.

-We made a pitstop and then ate dinner ten miles down the road. Finding a Maverick’s Steakhouse will do that to you. (FYI: We used to have a Maverick’s in town but it closed about 10 or 12 years ago. We miss that salad bar terribly.)

-Haley did the driving and did well for this being her first out of state roadtrip. She only had once incident of driving crazy (u-turn, driving on the shoulder, nearly taking the wrong exit all one right after another after a gas break…hilarious).

-There are A LOT of billboards on I-70. You could get rich selling ad space. Our favorites? Ad for a gun show next to an ad for an emergency medical clinic and an ad for an adult shop followed by a billboard saying the Jesus saves from pornography.

-Live Nude Girls and Arcade. No kidding. There’s a place on I-70 that advertises both strippers and an arcade. We’re told  (because we know people that have been there, of course) that you can basically play Frogger while watching nekkid girls dance. We’re thinking of going back there.

-Our ghettofabulous hotel.  Condoms in the vending machine next to the Crunch Bar and a drawing on our hotel room wall.

A buck for one? You could go next door to the gas station and get a box for better value.

 

Someone wasn't minding the kid. At least I hope it was a kid.

 -Gates Barbecue. So, so good.

Did I mention it was good?

-The Cubs game. The Cubs lost, we baked in the sun for seven innings, and Haley never got a hot dog (she kept asking the people in our row whenever they’d go to get something), but it was a good time. Great seats right above the Cubs bullpen, cool people sitting next to us, and back to back home runs.

Hello, Royals!
Turn us over. We're done.

 

You have to know the secret handshake to get into the bullpen.

 

There were hot dog races. I don't know why.

 

After the sun went down. Our sunscreen was fantastic. We should have been burnt to a crisp.

 -Sitting in the front row over the Cubs bullpen had its perks. Bullpen catcher Edgar Tovar smiled and waved at me and a security guard tossed Haley a bullpen ball.

-Between Denny’s and Cracker Barrel, we ate so much breakfast not at breakfast time.

-Golden Corral. It was the first time for both of us and now we see why Haley’s grandparents have the place favorited in their GPS. The food is fantastic (the guy in the commercials is still a jerk, though).

This is how you do dessert...a little bit of everything.

 -It’s worth noting that, while Golden Corral was good, there were mashed potatoes on the floor of my bathroom stall.

Photographic evidence.

 We had a fantastic time and before we were even done with the trip, we started talking about the next one. I can’t wait.

To be continued...