Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Rounding out our Spooky Cartoons feature, Disney's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in three parts.  Far superior to the Tim Burton mess and a Halloween tradition in my family dating back to my very early childhood.  My dad has a photograph of my sister Hilary and I in our footie pajamas, acting out the dance scene.  It makes me happy just thinking about it.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

NaNoWriMo: The Nathan Rabin of Book Writing

The last time I did National Novel Writing Month was my senior year of college--and after about a week, I got bored and moved on to something more interesting.  I "won" (completed 50K) in 2003 and 2002 (yipee) but decided that I was finally past the realm of part-time writer and onto bigger and better things.

Well, the other night I had a cool dream, and I plotted that dream out to novel-length--YA novel length, to be exact.  And with a million other things going on, I realized that NaNoWriMo might be a good way to partition out some time to focus solely on finishing this book.  YA novels generally clock in around 60K, which is only 2K a day, 500 over the usual NaNoWriMo haul.  I'm a workaholic, so the only way I can allow myself to do anything I'm interested in is if I lable it work.  I need goals and limitations, otherwise I use what little idle time I have watching MST3K.  By structuring myself into to 30-day limitations, I have to go hard or go home.  But while persusing around the website, I noticed two things:

1) Like most people who post on forums, the NaNoWriMo forum goons take themselves WAY too seriously.  Heaven forbid you write down a note that you might use later (and possibly word for word!  oh my!) in your novel.  I get it, we're supposed to write a whole novel just in that one month, but that brings me to my next point

2) NaNoWriMo hates working writers.  Camp NaNoWriMo boasts as one of their objectives, "To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work."

Fuck you, NaNoWriMo.
I apologize on behalf of all those asshole "writers" out there who dare labor over their work, polishing it to perfection and submitting it, often times to multiple rejections and, if they're lucky, to rewrites by editors and agents towards publication, because you're better than them.  You wrote a novel.  You jacked off 50K of bad spelling, plot holes, over-wrought prose, cliches and tripe over a 30 day period and that makes you special.  I apologize to all the "auto mechanics, out-of-work-actors and middle school English teachers"  who are so offended by the works between hard and paper covers in their libraries and bookstores.  I apologize on behalf of Raymond Chandler, John Steinbeck, Dorothy Allison, Jane Austin, Mary Shelley, Alexander Dumas, Lewis Carroll, L. Frank Baum. Roald Dahl, George Orwell, Flannery O'Conner, Michael J. Nelson, Jim Kelly, Mike Kimball, and all those other jerks who dared to waste time on their craft.
When did sub-par become admirable?  I get it, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to practice writing without tearing down, but sneering at and spitting upon working writers who struggled to get recognition is a dick move.  It manifests that continued theory among artists that if you have to work for something, you're not a genius, as though some magical fairy exists solely to dig through people's desk drawers and pull out manuscripts deemed worthy of admiration.  It's Rabin-esq, and it's wrong on all fronts.
I'm kind of sorry I signed up for it, honestly.  As one of those criminal professional writers who takes herself and her career seriously, I don't know if I want to be lumped in with a bunch of bitter housewives and teen girls in Twilight tee-shirts.  I don't want to comiserate about what a hardship it is because I live that hardship every day.  Writers block blows, but I don't get the luxury of logging onto a forum and bitching--I have until 3pm on Tuesday to get a story done, and if I don't, there's a big gaping hole in the Hometown Oneonta where it would go.  I labor over essays short stories that get rejected time and time again.  But I love it, and that's why I keep doing it.  And I will keep doing it long past November.  I was doing it long before November. 
Writers stock our bookshelves.  They make our TV shows interesting.  They fill our newspapers and our magazines with more than just ads.  How about giving them a little credit, NaNoWriMo, instead of ripping them to shreds?


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Halloween Playlist

Halloween is my favorite holiday, easy.  I love the costumes, the candy, the movies (Ed Wood, old-skool Tim Burton before he sold out and became dumb, Elvira, the Addams Family, the whole campy lot)  The halloween parties I threw in college are still talked about, and this year's party will mark a whole decade of my annual bash.  This year Ian and I are going as the Maitlands.  Not only is it an awesome couples costume, which I've been bugging him to do for years, but it fulfills my lifelong dream of being Geena Davis.

Not Pictured: Me Marrying Jeff Goldblum

I hate going to club Halloween parties and hearing them play whatever crap is on their ipod.  I can dance to "Bad Romance" any day of the year (not that I would).  We only get to hear "The Monster Mash" once time a year, and I want to hear it at least six times, followed by "Dead Man's Party" and then back to "the Monster Mash".

For those readers who are throwing their own parties, here's the official Record of the Month Club Halloween Playlist, compiled over ten successful party years. Spin these and your party is guarenteed to howl.

-"Bump in the Night" A-Teens (yes, it's from Scooby Doo 2--but it is consistantly the most requested song at my parties)
-"Dead Man's Party" Oingo Boingo
-"Monster Mash" Crypt Kicker Five
-"Hell" Squirrel Nut Zippers
-"Hayride to Hell" The Fontanelles (on the Hobgoblins soundtrack--hard to find, but if you're interested, shoot me an email and I can show you where to get a copy)
-"Monster Rap" Elvira
-"The Addams Tango" (because where else are you going to see Indiana Jones tangoing with The Joker?)
-"Zombie Stomp" Elvira
-"Weird Science" Oingo Boingo
-"Boogie Man" White Zombie
-"Haunted House" Ray Stevens (my dad's favorite)
-"Moondance" Michael Buble (more dancible than the original--for the couples)
-"The Time Warp" Rocky Horror Picture Show (even the people who don't dance will dance to this.  That being said, I hate the Rocky Horror Picture Show and always have.  Kevin Murphy agrees with me on this.)
-"Thriller" Michael Jackson (for years I had a "no Thriller" policy, but my friend Seema finally convinced me to include it, and it's stayed ever since.  Still not one of my favorites)
-"Remains of the Day" Danny Elfman (from The Corpse Bride.  Damn it, I love Danny Elfman)
-"Devil in My Car" B-52's
-"Feed My Frankenstein" Alice Cooper
-"Little Demon" Screamin' Jay Hawkins
-"The Ghost in You" Siouxsie and the Banshees (again, for the couples--there's something sincere and sweet about seeing couples in costume slow dance, and it gives everyone else a chance to get a drink and see if there are any fun-sized Snickers left)
-"Every Day is Halloween" Ministry (I like to play this at the end of a party--it's a nice reminder to come back next year)
-"Halloween" The Dead Kennedys
-"Living Dead Girl" White Zombie
-"Cemetary Polka" Tom Waits
-"Halloween" The Misfits (mosh pit!!!!)
-"Ghostbusters" Ray Parker Jr. (not Jack Black)

-"Bad Devil" Devon Townsend (This was played at the 2006 party only)
-"Pet Cemetary" The Ramones
-"Poor Skeleton Steps Out" XTC (not a dance song, but still fun)
-"The Ghosts that Haunt Me" Crash Test Dummies (very chill--good for when people are coming in)
-"Cretin Hop" the Ramones
-"Halloween" Siouxsie and the Banshees
-"Red Right Hand" Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
-"Whistlin' Past the Graveyard" Tom Waits
-"Don't Fear the Reaper" Blue Oyster Cult
-"Werewolves of London" Warren Zevon
-"Who's That Creepin'" Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
-"All My Friends are Zombies" The Pricillas
-"Party at the Leper Colony" Weird Al
-"When You're Evil" Voltaire
-"Black Magic Woman" Santana
-"Boris the Spider" The Who
-"Beetlejuice theme" Danny Elfman
-"Riding on the Wings of Steam (remix)" Chris Vrenna (from American McGee's Alice)
-"Gremlins theme" Jerry Goldsmith (I can't explain it, but every time this came, partygoers start hopping up and down.)
-"Phantom of the Opera" Nightwish
-"Bela Lugosi's Dead" Bauhaus
-"Nature Trail to Hell" Weird Al
-"The X-Files Theme"
-"Masqurade" Phantom of the Opera
-"This is Halloween" The Nightmare Before Christmas
-"Requiem" Mozart
-"I Put a Spell on You" Screamin' Jay Hawkins
-"Dead Man's Party" Hillbilly Hellcats
-"Mean Green Mother from Outer Space" Levi Stubbs (from Little Shop of Horrors)
-"Eye of the Zombie" John Fogerty
-"Zombie Zoo," Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
-"No One Lives Forever" Oingo Boingo
-"Surfin' Dead" The Cramps
(The following pair have to be ripped from the videos themselves--they're almost impossible to find otherwise, but well worth the effort)

-"Transylvania 6-500" The Creature with the Atomic Brain

-"Squeezit The Moocher" The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo
 (From Forbidden Zone)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October Feature: Spooky Cartoons

Part 1 of 4 in a new Boys on Film feature--spooky cartoons to celebrate Halloween  This week, "Lonesome Ghosts" (1937)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Where Have All The Grown-Up Movies Gone?

Watched True Lies the other night with Ian and I got thinking about how there really don't seem to be date movies for grown-ups anymore.  You know, the kind mom and dad left you home with a babysitter or made you go to bed while they watched in the living room.  Some action for the men, some kissy stuff for the ladies, and enough humor to make it enjoyable for everyone.

When was the last time one of those came out?

Movies for people who pay their bills and have jobs and don't live with their parents fall into two catagories: Adult-alescent action movies (i.e. anything starring Jason Statham) and chick flicks.  Girls get dragged to watch some skank like Megan Fox or Olivia Wilde tongue a dude in some vague application of "love story" and guys have to see some emasuculated toad like Ryan Gosling play video games (but then be forced into giving them up for the woman he loves)  in some vague application of masculinity.  And let's not forget some laughs from the writers/producers/caterers of Insert Judd Apatow-Type Movie Here.  Girls poop in a high clas department store!  Steve Carell is encouraged to date-rape a drunk girl!  Oh for fun!

What happened to movies for grown-up couples?  Not 35 year old adolescents playing Xbox and farting on each other and miserable housewives fantasizing that Pierce Brosnan and Hugh Grant would fight over them while singing?  And when did we, as women, start embracing the concept that we could be gross too?  What would Arlene Dahl say?

Also, sexy scenes.  Where did those go?  The striptease in True Lies is far sexier than anything Hollywood could soft-focus today.  It's a little raw and a lot clumsy and kind of romantic, which keeps it being as exploitive as a lot of similar scenes feel.  It's not Showgirls.  Jamie Lee Curtis is awkward, and that's what makes it feel real . . . and real is sexy.