Animal Tales

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:

  • Never run up the stairs to escape the killer
  • The dog or cat gets it first
  • The more annoying the character, the longer he lives, but, the more horrible his death will be when it finally does happen
  • The dog or cat gets it first
  • Women can’t run in the woods without falling down a hill
  • The dog or cat gets it first
  • The non-virgin woman with matching undies always dies
  • The dog or cat gets it first

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.

Game Night

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.

Steaming up the Shower

Sex has become such a predictable part of novels and movies that it isn’t a matter of if the protagonists are going to get it on, it’s when are they going to get busy.   For me the burning question is, where are our sex-starved lovebirds going to get it on?   It seems no setting is too awkward and no place is off-limits.  I recently watched Jurassic World to familiarize myself with how the movie left off before seeing the next one.  Out of all the special effects, blood, gore, body parts and roaring dinosaurs, one scene struck me as ridiculous.  Towards the end, in a burning street with pterodactyls swooping around them and picking up kids to carry them off for unpleasant pterodactyl things, with dinosaurs thundering towards them while they were covered in dirt, sweat and blood, the protagonists stood atop an overturned car and shared a passionate kiss.  Really?  No matter how much I like the guy, I’m not thinking swallowing tonsils is an appropriate response to rampaging dinosaurs. Maybe that’s why Chris Pratt isn’t knocking down my door.

In staged sex scenes, everything is smooth and perfect.  The bedroom is large enough to house a family of four and their seven cats, three dogs, and parakeet. The participants’ clothes slide off and fold themselves nicely on the chair.  Candles light themselves with no outside help.  The bed is neatly made and no one trips over the comforter.  No one’s head slides between the pillows, and the female never gets her hair stuck under her back or in the male’s armpit.  No one giggles like a child over noises or says “eww.” When it’s over, everyone finds their socks.  Flawless execution, beginning to end.

What really fascinates me are the shower scenes.  Somehow our extraordinarily perfect heroes fit into a perfect shower perfectly.  Where can I find these showers?  I don’t want to have shower sex with anyone, I just want to find a shower that would fit two people in it to begin with. And who the hell has a bathroom the size of my living room? Seriously, I just want their living quarters.

Let’s compare, shall we?

Movie shower scene:

Female is in shower, hair slicked back and sexy with water.  Gentle billows of steam frame her naughty bits as the chiseled male slides back the glass door.  He lifts her effortlessly, pushing her against the wall or pushes her against the glass door for added visual fun for the viewer.  These two are obviously Yoga masters.  They kiss passionately, the deed is done, and suddenly they are having coffee in the kitchen while wearing bathrobes.

Reality:

Female is in the shower with mud mask on her face, shaving her legs while her hair is lathered.  Male pulls aside the shower curtain.  Female protests about the puddles of water now all over the floor.  Male diligently adjusts shower curtain.  He turns to female and attempts to lift her smoothly, but her skin is slippery so…not so much.  They both pretend they meant to stand at the awkward angle in which they now find themselves.  Male reaches around female to lower the temperature of the water.  Female turns it back up.  Both struggle to stay under the spray so no one is left out, shivering in the cold.  Kissing ensues, followed by spitting mouthfuls of water out as sexily as they can.  They turn in the space, about as large as a kitchen cabinet (if you lived in a studio apartment, that is), to find an angle where they can fulfill their shower fantasy.  Bottles of shampoo go flying off shelves, and the shower-caddy is knocked to the floor.  Female ignores it because bending over to pick it up is…not sexy.  She is covertly trying to wipe shampoo from her now burning eyes. Feet are placed in shallow corners of the tub in a vain attempt to balance.  What transpires next depends on the height differences of our heroes, but it probably isn’t pretty.  Afterwards, male plops down in front of TV to watch football while female straightens the bathroom and mops water off the floor.

Couch sex isn’t pretty, either.  Somehow in movies they find couches that are seven feet long and six feet wide.  Our heroes will never know the frustration of sliding pillows, or the victory of finding a Dorito between the cushions.  They won’t hit their shins on the coffee table or knock over the lamp, or know the special joy of a dog trying to get on the couch, too.

Let’s face it, real sex isn’t necessarily pretty.  I honestly don’t want the perfection of movie sex, because the laughter is part of what makes it so enjoyable.  Our heroes never seem to make the mistakes that make sex so fun.

But damn, I would love to have their houses.

Saturday Reveries

Pay no attention to the woman lounging on the couch in her pajamas browsing through the “new releases” on On-Demand, counting down the hours until the new Thor and Justice League show times roll around while daydreaming about those tickets, lovingly ensconced in a bureau drawer, to the ‘Chocolate Binge Festival’ about to hit town in another two weeks. You see, there ARE a few things that are worth dragging my lazy relaxing weekend butt out of the house.

Isn’t that usually the way? I mean, it IS awfully people-y out there.

 

Wild, Wild Life

 

Laying back in my jammies – Check

Pizza delivered – Check

Ben and Jerry’s in the freezer – Check

Kahlúa laced hot cocoa – Double Check!

Horror movie marathon (most definitely of the B variety) on Syfy – Triple Check!

Long-distance friend on speed-dial-texting to mock said B movies – Check!

 

 

When Superpowers Fall Flat

Have you ever wanted a  superpower?  Of course you have…it’s just a matter of which one. While more of a supernatural power than superpower,  I always thought it would be awesome to have the freezing and blowing-things-up abilities that Piper from “Charmed” had. Her power centered around being able to control molecular motion — she could slow it down to freeze things (and people) and speed it up which resulted in the thing or person exploding. I’m not sure I’d be nearly as ethical as Ms. Halliwell though, in the use of such powers. So perhaps it’s for the best that I’m just ordinary.

But I got to thinking of other powers, and the pros and cons of each. You know, I’m not sure all superpowers are all they’re cracked up to be. After watching “Jumper,” I realized that teleporting would be a particularly cool skill to have. Think of the places you could see, the travelling you could do, the banks you could rob…umm, I mean, the travelling you could do!

Although, knowing me…it wouldn’t help my social calendar at all.

being late