Go and see Godzilla. That is all.
No, seriously. That’s all. Now go. Git. Go buy a ticket. And be sure to report back.
So. I went to the movies the other day. What did I see, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. No laughing though. It was Detective Pikachu, with none other than Deadpool himself as the titular character. I will just say… GREAT movie. In fact, I saw it twice. I’ll probably go see it again. I know, I know, it’s not exactly Oscar-worthy and the snootier among us won’t even give it a chance. Nonetheless, it was a fantastic movie and I highly recommend it.
Pokemon holds a very special place in my heart. My kids grew up with it and I enjoyed it alongside them. I eventually became very familiar with all things Pokemon – from the television show and popular games to the trading cards and movies. Yes, there were movies prior to the live-action one starring Ryan Reynolds Deadpool. They were of the animated variety, but still.
I’m not sure if you’re aware, but there are about a gazillion Pokemon, Pokemon being “pocket monsters.” For those into the Pokemon craze, we all have our favorite. If you asked most fans, they’d probably tell you they prefer the “cooler” ones like Charizard or Mewtwo. There’s also a wide fan base for the most recognizable Pokemon of all, Pikachu.
If you asked me what my favorite Pokemon was, however, you’d probably be a bit underwhelmed. Who’s that Pokemon? (Ha! See what I did there? Oh, well, you’d have to follow the show to get that joke. Nevermind.)
Without a doubt, Psyduck. Seeing the most recent incarnation of this amazingly awesome pocket monster on the big screen just solidified my connection.
I relate to Psyduck on a deep, personal level. You might even say that Psyduck is my spirit animal. This little, yellow duck-like Pokemon is widely considered to be one of the more useless Pokemon. Still, I can’t help feeling drawn to him. Personally, I think Psyduck gets a bad rap.
See, Psyduck is absolutely riddled with anxiety. About what? Well, about everything. Boy, can I relate to that. He’s also plagued with constant migraines and I feel his pain on a spiritual level. The thing is though, Psyduck’s anxiety and migraines can get to a breaking point and when that happens, he loses his shit. Which in this case, means he explodes with a wave of psychic energy the force of which is not unlike a nuclear bomb. Like I said, awesome, right??
Unfortunately, fortunately, of course, I mean, fortunately, my especially bad migraines don’t lead to an outburst of awe-inspiring psychic energy. Psyduck has me beat there. My migraines do occasionally make me lose my shit but I’m still waiting on those psychic powers.
Much like me, Psyduck is also shy and easily overwhelmed by the world around him. These qualities tend to make Psyduck reluctant to engage in battles like most Pokemon and it makes him endlessly frustrating to his trainer. I, too, tend to shut down in overwhelming situations and it can be frustrating to those around me. In fact, frustrations abound. Maybe Psyduck and I are just misunderstood.
And hey, at least we’re not a Magikarp.
I know, I know, enough with the books already, right? Oh, who am I kidding. I love books. Will always love books. And speaking of books, I need more bookshelves because my personal library is ever-growing. Yes, I buy books. I own books. I will also readily admit that I rarely clean out my collection, preferring to keep what I have forever. I. Love. Books.
I’ve talked before about the readers in my book clubs who seem to think that reading is a competition. In this week’s meeting, one woman announced she had read 30 books during the month of April. That’s one a day. Who has that kind of time?? I know, I know, I keep harping on the whole “how many books did you read” thing, having regaled you with other such stories recently… but come on!
These are the members who joined for the sole purpose of showing off their Evelyn Wood Speed Reading ability! No matter what book you bring up, they’ve read it. I mean, of course they have. They’ve seen the movie, and trust us, the book was better. Okay, well, they have a point there.
But you know what these voracious readers won’t do? Re-read. “There are too many new books out there to read, why would I waste my time on re-reading?” Ummm… I don’t know Karen, for starters, maybe you’ll catch little details you may have missed the first time during your speed-reading session. I’m no speed reader, but I, and many like me, reread books just for the purpose of enjoying a beloved story all over again, delighting in the subtle plot points we may not have noticed before, or for whatever reason, didn’t “click” in our heads during the first read. It’s like watching a movie more than once and catching the joke or the witty dialogue or the especially meaningful glance that you missed during the first viewing.
Not to mention that some books just get better with age. Maybe upon a second or third read, the story will hold greater meaning – or be interpreted completely differently – because as we age, so does our insight. Re-reading allows us to tap into that maturing mindset to see things differently than we did before.
For me, my most dog-eared books are what I call my “comfort reads.” They are books I’ve read too many times to count just because they bring me joy (as much as Stephen King can bring joy), I love the characters more than a person should ever love fictional characters (I’m looking at you Poirot and Mr. Darcy), or because the story means something to me. And you know what? I’m not ashamed. Re-reading is cool.
So, as I close out my book rants for a while, what are my words to you? Read the book you’ve already read. And then read it again. Drink it in, enjoy it. You won’t regret it. Trust me on this.
Now you all know that I enjoy a special kind of torture, euphemistically called book clubs. I also love books of all kinds, including manga and young adult books. I love books. All books.
I’m seeing a trend now from my fellow “book lovers.” Apparently, there are rules, or at the least, guidelines. Who knew? For one, audiobooks aren’t considered books. Another that came up recently shocked me… and that’s really hard to do: Agatha Christie and her fellow funny, cozy mystery writers are scorned, much like sitcoms in television and McDonald’s to food critics. In fact, these cozy, rainy night comfort-food mysteries aren’t just scorned, they aren’t counted as books at all. They are sort of like a cheeseburger to a salad; empty calories for when you’re too lazy to read a real book. The fast food of literature, if you will.
Oh, there’s more.
Books are to be pristine, according to this new breed of book lover. We’re not supposed to dog ear books (“oh my god, what are you, a monster?” they exclaim).
If a book they’ve ordered from Amazon has a slightly bent or nicked edge, they return it for a perfect specimen and complain about the seller. Now, you might say, sure, sure, I just bought a new book, I want it to be perfection itself. Yeah, well, they do the same thing for the used books they purchase. I wonder if these people went to college? If they did, did they make notes on margins in their textbooks? Highlight sections? Did they purchase *gasp* used books with both of those things (and worse)? I’m amazed they survived.
If you read a lot, you quickly learn that used book sellers are your friend. The new breed of book lovers will lower themselves to buy used books, but they have extremely high expectations. Much higher than my own requirements, which are simple: must have all pages and some semblance of a binding.
The new book lovers consider reading as a serious competition. One woman said she had just finished her 60th book for the year, and it was February. You think I’m joking. I’m not. I believe in setting goals, but good grief. Did you even read a word of any of them? If I asked you to write a sixth-grade book report on one, could you? I doubt it. This isn’t just a fast reader, this is an accomplished skimmer. She definitely counts Cliff Notes as books.
This same woman belongs to the group of book lovers who buy a book and, halfway through, realize they had read it before. My fellow book club members make comments admitting to this foible frequently. So frequently, it’s almost funny. How on earth do you not know you’ve read a book by the end of page five? Reading is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby, an escape from life sometimes, not a marathon of forgotten tomes. Visits to the library must be very interesting with this woman. She probably roams the aisles loudly exclaiming, “Read it. Read it. Oh, wait! Nope. Read it.” I know I read a book just from looking at its cover or reading the insert. Maybe this is because I actually read the words of each book I choose. I dog-ear like a psycho, and the covers are bent enough to cause this new breed of new book lovers to have strokes.
I agree that library books and borrowed books should be handled with care, just as you would when you borrow anything from someone. If it’s not yours, you handle it carefully.
However, my own books? They’re well-worn. They’re read. They’re loved. And I remember every single one.
There is a place in my heart for all bookies, lovers of the written word, collectors of all kinds. I’m just too old-school to participate in competitions.
Which, by the way, I would win, hands down, lady.
Oh my gosh, guys. Did you see “A Dog’s Purpose?” Wasn’t it great?
Well, I wouldn’t know. I refuse to watch it. I hate any story where the dog dies, so why would I see a movie where the dog dies fifteen times? I heard there is a sequel out now, “The Dog Dies Twenty More Times.”
“Marley and Me” traumatized me for life. I refuse to watch “War Horse,” and several scenes in “White Fang” haunt me to this day. Black Beauty still makes me cry, and yes, I remember Bambi’s mother (“Man is in the forest,” bang). In fact, Disney is famous for jerking animal lovers around. Disney isn’t alone in toying with my animal softened heart, though.
Those that know me realize that I love horror movies. I know all of the rules in horror movies:
Come on, I’m not alone here. Here is the plot of every horror movie ever written:
The happy family unpacks the car for a week in a waterfront cabin in the woods. They open the door to the station wagon and two adorable, bright eyed kids bounce out with any variety of toys from doll to teddy bear. Happy, panting, tail-wagging dog follows them out of the car, usually a yellow lab or golden retriever. His cuteness factor will play a part in the events to come.
Day one passes with camera angles hinting at a crazed killer in the woods. The dog runs out for his night time pee, and the audience inhales as he runs to the woods, barking. Not this time, though; dog runs back to the house unharmed. Audience visibly relaxes and lets out a collective sigh.
At some point the next day, the dog will disappear. Sometimes he runs away, and an off camera “yelp” tells us he has met the crazed killer. Other times, he is found in little bitty puppy bits and pieces. The cuter and more obedient he is, the worse his ending is.
I have missed endings to good horror movies because I get too pissed to watch any more from the minute I see the dog in the beginning of the movie. Don’t judge me, Mr. or Ms. “choked up at a Hallmark commercial.” The whole idea behind books and movies is to bring us in, get us emotionally invested in the character(s), to make us CARE.
Members of my book club show little sympathy for the “animal-affected” – those of us who are bothered by abuse to animals or “when the dog dies,” in stories. We’re constantly reminded by the better than thou folks that it’s “just a fictional dog” and we’re advised to “suck it up already.” Of course, these same people snort into boxes of Kleenex over the death of a human character (I’m looking at you Cedric Diggory, Fred Weasley, and Sirius Black!) and are inconsolably upset when the plot takes a sad turn.
On the edge of your seat over a thriller? Upbeat romance have you smiling? Horror movie got you looking over your shoulder? Is that tear-jerker causing real tears to well up? That’s the whole point!
As book readers and movie watchers, we’re SUPPOSED to get drawn into the story. We cry over fictional characters, laugh with fictional characters, get angry with fictional characters… why on earth wouldn’t we get upset over the death or mistreatment of a fictional animal? Consider my tears the highest praise, story tellers and movie makers. You managed to destroy me in one “yelp” or sad scene at the vet’s office. I know I’m not alone.
My friend was pissed that the dinosaurs didn’t win in Jurassic Park. I’m still wrecked over Cujo, and don’t get me started about Old Yeller. When I look for a book, I check to see if there are animals and whether those animals are in imminent danger. If they are, I pass.
Life’s already sad enough, isn’t it? I don’t need my realm of escapism to be sad too.
It’s the season for pumpkin spice, trick or treat, scary movie marathons, and ghostie and monster TV shows. Especially ghostie and monster TV shows. Don’t get me wrong, I love these shows for the sheer entertainment value. It’s not that I don’t believe in ghosts, exactly; it’s that I don’t buy these ghost hunters for one moment. Most people don’t realize these are heavily edited and scripted for maximum viewer impact. That said, some seem more realistic than others, some are downright hilarious, and some just *may* make you wonder. Here is a listing of some ghostie and monster hunting shows you may, or may not, want to check out.
Follow the adventures of Zac Bagans and his crew, including the much-abused Aaron Goodwin, as they seek out haunted buildings that specifically feature nasty ghosties. Zac must wear a respirator due to allergies when he is in old buildings, but more offensively, he wears it while investigating occupied houses, too. No matter what the owners of the building claim, Zac is “immediately overcome by feelings of *fill in the blank*.” He is constantly being “touched” by ghosts yet continues to challenge them despite his hilarious fear. Poor Aaron is always sent to the most dangerous rooms, and usually shoved in from behind while Zac slams and locks the door behind him, lights off, alone, and against his will. The show has a fair number of EVPs, orbs and other spooky happenings per episode. Zak narrates the episodes with a dreary monotone voice that is somehow amusing in itself.
Boo Factor: 3 boos, for sheer entertainment value
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you gave a set of self-professed hunters and trappers rifles and the freedom to track Bigfoot through the mountains while filming them bumbling, firing at trees, and falling over rocks in the forest at night? Wonder no more; Mountain Monsters is classic goofy viewing for all audiences. The crew chases a different iteration of Bigfoot (yes, apparently there are countless breeds of Bigfoot) each episode, creating elaborate traps to catch the monsters which, of course, they never do. The combination of stupidity and over-the-top dramatic acting, delivered in deep southern drawls (which, in any other context, I absolutely love), will make you laugh at loud.
Boo Factor: 3 boos, too funny to turn off
You may know Chad Lindberg from Fast and Furious as well as (ironically, perhaps) Supernatural (where, if you want to know, he played one of my fave side characters). He teams up with author John Tenney to look not only for ghosts, but for portals that spirits use to travel from the beyond to our world. Putting aside that Tenney will have you picturing Dragnet the entire time or that Chad can scream with the best of them, the entire premise is hilariously flawed as “portals” seem to be everywhere in every haunted location they visit. Perhaps people should stop inviting these guys to parties? They use a wide array of what looks like very expensive equipment but never really seem to catch any evidence whatsoever. One person locks themselves into the location for half the night, then his partner does the same. Each monitors the other from inside a van, with very dramatic narration delivered in such a monotone that it makes Zac Bagans seem like he is on speed in comparison. This show is a complete waste of time, unless men screaming and running through empty halls is your kind of entertainment.
Boo Factor: 1 Boo
This show takes a little more realistic and scientific approach to the hunt for Bigfoot. A couple of researchers and one skeptic comb the US and check out potential clues, debunking several as they go while finding some compelling evidence as well. This is a drama free show that may make you wonder if there is a big, hairy monster out there after all.
Boo Factor: 5 Boos for an intelligent quest without overacting and drama
What if it wasn’t your house that is haunted, but an item you have in the house? That’s the premise with this show. It may be of interest to know that “Friday the 13th – the Series” had this idea years ago. I’m not saying that Haunted Collector
stole borrowed the idea … just pointing out it’s been done. Anywho, these paranormal investigators somehow track ghostly activity to objects within the house. At that point, Lead Investigator John Zaffis willingly takes on the burden of the haunted object, storing it in his basement full of other haunted objects. Interestingly, the objects tend to be high value, rare, or of historic value. Go figure. It’s still a fun and creepy romp, though.
Boo Factor: 3 Boos for the creepy premise
The Dead Files
If a show *might* make you believe, it *may* be this one. At the very least, it’s a fun romp for an hour. Amy Allan, psychic medium, and her partner the infinitely skeptical, tough, ex-New York homicide detective Steve DiSchiavi. Amy Allan investigates the haunted sites at night, seeing spirits and filming what they are “telling” her, while Steve interviews occupants and researches the property. The two supposedly never meet until the Big Reveal with the family after the investigation is over when, amazing surprise, all the facts from the two separate investigations add up perfectly. Still, this is one of the better, far less over-reaching ghostie shows around and while you know it’s fake, well, what if it’s not?
Boo Factor: 4 Boos
Hunky front man and lovable side investigators, these guys now have a live show presented every Friday night. Known as the Tennessee Wraith Chasers, the team breaks out the usual equipment to investigate haunted locations live on TV, with watchers tweeting what they see as they monitor cameras themselves. It’s kind of neat that the guys respond and investigate on things the viewers tweet to them in real time. Prior to this, their show Ghost Asylum was a classic yuk-yuk fest, with them somehow miraculously catching spirits in home-made inventions to take back to their office and store in ghost chambers, just like Ghostbusters. The show can be little other than ridiculous as it starts with a disclaimer that ghost hunting is dangerous and best left to professionals. Ummm… okey-dokey, guys. Still, it’s a fun way to pass an hour.
Boo Factor: 4 Boos for the live show on Friday nights
Deep South Paranormal
Remember our bumbling deeply southern Bigfoot enthusiasts from Mountain Monsters? What if this same type of chaw-chewing, bearded crew hunted ghosts with equipment instead of Bigfoot with rifles? You will be spellbound by the group’s use of southern rock guitar to draw out spirits (who apparently like southern rock; who knew?), ridiculous homespun sayings, and love of grits. Sadly, this show lacks the overacting of Mountain Monsters, which let’s face it, is why we watch Mountain Monsters.
Boo Factor: 1 Boo
I couldn’t have this list without including the plucky plumbers who started it all; TAPS. Sort of like a Hydrox is the original Oreo, this show laid the groundwork for all the rest. Millions of viewers tuned in weekly to watch this ghost hunting duo justify dust orbs caught on film. Compared to the shows that followed, this one is stripped to bare bones like EMF detectors and thermal cameras. At one time TAPS was the “real deal,” in a manner of speaking, but has been overshadowed by its descendants and lacks the nonstop “evidence” displayed by them.
Boo Factor: 2 Boos
Josh Gates: Destination Truth and Expedition Unknown
Josh Gates is an explorer whose shows cover a wide array of subject matter, from monsters, near death experiences and ghosts to lost treasures and myths. His approach is very light hearted and fun, and his investigations are free of dramatic emotion; very straight forward and sincere. As far as great shows covering all kinds of spooky and fun topics, this one is a must see.
Boo Factor: 5 Boos
So there they are, my top ten ghostie and monster hunting shows to watch, or not. I urge you to give them a look though. Seriously, they are nothing if not fun. Oh, and if you do, be sure and come back to leave your own “boo rating” below!
Did I die and go to heaven? Is there a game that covers my two personal geek niches, trivia and horror, at the same time? Well, yes, yes there is. Here it is. One hundred years of horror! Sign. Me. Up.
You may not realize this, but 1981 was a great year for nerds. This epic year saw the release of Trivial Pursuit (thank you Canada!), the game that allowed us to shine. Cut us some slack; chances are, if we were masters of Trivial Pursuit, we didn’t have a whole lot of outdoor sports skills available to us. The game itself was originally released in 1979 … but it took a couple of years for it to catch on and catch on it did. It has since exploded with a litany of variations: Star Trek (lucky UK!), Baby Boomers, Lord of the Rings, Silver Screen, and even a Book Lovers edition, just to name a few.
At the peak of Trivial Pursuit’s meteoric rise – between 1983 and 1986, I was lucky to be surrounded by other nerds, and we threw intimate parties to showcase who knew the most about nothing at all. We took this seriously, and generally divided ourselves into teams: the classic boys vs girls, with the boys excelling in the sports category while the girls swept the rest. I think it goes without saying that alcohol was a part of these parties, but my memories are of good friends and good times. At least I think that’s what I remember; like I just said, alcohol played a part of the gatherings.
Trust me, the apple didn’t far fall from the tree… at least in so far as gaming goes (remind me to tell you about my mother’s addiction to the original Mario Brothers sometime). Like most of us in days gone by, my family had game nights. Today’s kids will never know the joy of bankrupting your brother in a rousing, friendship ending game of Monopoly. My parents taught us card games like Hearts, and a quirky little game called I Blew It (back off, guys, it was just a dice game). Then, geeks and nerds everywhere rejoiced with the release of Trivial Pursuit, and my family was right there with the best of them. We were able to showcase our knowledge of state capitals, obscure authors, foreign etiquette, and bizarre scientific facts. Take that, jocks!
I still love Trivial Pursuit and it’s new-age ilk … I have an unrepentant addiction to the aptly named TriviaCrack. My brain isn’t full of many useful things, but by golly, I can tell you that John Tyler was the tenth president of the United States, that the first letter on a typewriter is Q, that Yankee Stadium is the House that Ruth Built, and that amoebas can group together and form something called a slime mold.
At the same time, anyone who would be so inclined as to check my Netflix lists would think I am slightly, or mostly, unhinged by my “recommended” movies and watched list. Goofy monsters, slashers, aliens, and ghosts; if its creepy, I’ve watched it three times. I am nothing if not a horror aficionado.
Now, Trivial Pursuit has raised the bar with a horror movie edition. Horror trivia? Be still, my heart.
I can’t recall where I am supposed to be tomorrow at four (but I know it’s someplace important), what I had for breakfast, or what I did last night, but I can sing every word to the creepy “One, two, Freddie’s coming for you” song and I just happen to know the best-selling fiction book of all time. Hint: it’s Don Quixote.
In a world where walking fast is an Olympic Sport, I want to find a way to make money playing Trivial Pursuit, the Horror Edition.