What Women Want

Take a look at any men’s health magazine the next time you’re in the grocery store. Notice the sheen of sweat that seems to be perpetually glistening on their skin, as if they’re in desperate need of a shower… or two. Admire the outrageously formidable, perfectly-formed pecs and cartoonishly rounded biceps. Drink in the sight of over-stimulated veins stretching across their forearms. Think ‘The Hulk’, but on steroids. This is every woman’s dream, right? Yeah, no.

This so-called ideal body type is being forced down men’s throats by other men. Just watch any superhero or action movie… the leads with biceps on top of biceps on top of biceps in some twisted homage to Popeye the Sailor Man, back muscles that you didn’t even know humans had, and abdominal muscles so defined you could count the muscle fibers. Women don’t admire the over-the-top superhero bod nearly as much as men do. It’s a power fantasy written by men for men. Being ripped isn’t appealing merely because they’re “more attractive” as a man; it’s more appealing because more strength equals more power.

Unfortunately, too many men buy into this whole idea that the sinewy, veiny, glistening body type is the only one that women desire.

Sigh…

The women I know don’t want the piles of muscles and veins. And we can do the rescuing for ourselves, thank you very much. We don’t need Johnny Protein Powder to do it for us; we’ve been doing it for years before he came along.

What do women want, you ask? Let’s start with a brain that doesn’t have its cells clogged by creatine. They want your chivalrous (note: chivalrous, not chauvinistic) actions to show how much you care for them, six-packs be damned. Rather than the models on work-out magazines, give us a man with substance.

Give us David Tennant and the Tenth Doctor’s undying affection for those he loves.  Give us Timothy Olyphant from The Crazies, who refused to flee a zombie-infected area without his wife because he was so devoted to her. Of course, I would be remiss not to mention Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. While he may have been an arrogant asshole when we first met him, his heart was in the right place.  There’s a reason why women loved Jim Halpert in The Office. It definitely wasn’t his work-out routine. Laurie from Little Women was aloof and misguided at times, but he was fiercely devoted and loved passionately. I’d take a Laurie over a Hasselhoff any day of the week.

So, men, you want to know what women want? Go ask your women friends who their fictional crushes are. I dare you. You may be surprised at their answers.

 

Keeping Up Appearances

Ladies, we all know that the pressures of society are a considerable weight to bear. Day after day, we get advertisements and marketing ploys shoved in our faces demanding that we look younger, thinner, more done-up than can ever be achieved naturally. If you don’t look good enough, someone is bound to tell you. But careful! If you look too good, it’s bound to be used against you. A zero-sum game played by wannabe winners.

And fellas, you’re not entirely immune either. The media constantly portrays what a “real” man should look like, what he should do, what beverages he should drink (hint: they say it’s beer and only beer). Society maintains that all men should have the washboard abs or swooping hair. They say all men should wear fine suits or rugged jeans – no in-between.

It’s exhausting, isn’t it? Yet we find ourselves falling for these traps, not just in how we judge ourselves but how we perceive others. Ugh, human nature… it sucks.

Here’s the worst part of it all – at the very end, the last stop on the train, the final exit off the road of life, there’s still pressure from society. You would think that we get some reprieve in our last moments above ground. You would think that our own funerals, the celebrations and memorials of our lives, would be the place where societal norms would be laid to rest for a brief moment (see what I did there?).

Nope.

We can’t let our guard down for a minute; death be damned. We need to keep up appearances. We have to make sure we look peaceful and angelic and gorgeous for our grieving loved ones to admire. Otherwise, we are exposed to the dreaded commentary of those in attendance, while we are powerless to change anything.

I can’t be the only one. I’m sure you’ve heard this narrative at funerals too.

“Oh, doesn’t her makeup look lovely!”

“Look what a good job they did on her hair!”

“My, what wonders they did with his face.”

Umm, excuse me… what?

What’s worse, there’s a flip side to that coin.

“Ooh, you can barely recognize him. How terrible.”

“She would have never done her makeup that heavily, this simply doesn’t do her justice.”

“Oh dear, she would have never been caught dead in that dress…”

Honestly, people! Can we not show a little respect by holding thoughts in our mind instead of speaking them out loud? It is possible to do, you know. No, really, it is.

We all grieve in our own unique ways, but this kind of grieving can be done on your own time. The funeral service is not the time to discuss the shade of lipstick chosen or the volume of their hair. They can’t even defend the choices themselves, for Pete’s sake.

Sure, the positive comments are often made to comfort the grieving family and bring some kind words to the fore. And I get it; it’s hard to know exactly what to say to the family or even to the others in attendance. Funeral homes don’t exactly spark the best conversations. But check your “thought filters” before you leave the house, so you don’t end up saying something to make things more morbid than they already are.

I seriously want to know, though: just how good are people supposed to look at their own funerals? Why is there a standard? Have we asked ourselves why we care so much about people’s appearance while their eternal soul is laid to rest? It seems there would be more pressing matters to consider. If ever there was a time in someone’s life, this definitely seems like the time to not be worried about hair, clothing, or overall appearance.

Alas, societal pressure is destined to weigh heavy on our shoulders – right up to the bitter end.

Snob Appeal

During the trying times we find ourselves in, I find myself dreaming of doing things that were once so commonplace. I look forward to going to the movies again, for example. I eagerly await the day that I can go to a live concert. And oh, what a day it will be when we can dine at our favorite restaurants again! When the dust has settled, a nice dinner in the spiffy part of the city will be the first order of business.

There’s nothing quite like a dinner out on the town. The anticipation of the evening, the elegant clothes, the ambiance of the restaurant, the tiny portions – wait, the tiny portions? Maybe that’s not exactly a highlight. Come to think of it, the elf-size portions are the worst part. Why are we paying exorbitant amounts of money for such teeny scoops of food on oversized plates? That’s why I prefer the taco truck at the park … good food and lots of it.

Some of these Michelin Star restaurants are really giving folks the run-around with their menu. First of all, they’re serving people fish eggs on crackers and charging $125 per plate. What the hell? And people willingly order this dish, night after night. It’s amazing to me. Not to mention, it’s highway robbery.  I mean, these patrons do know it’s fish eggs, right? I find that hard to believe since they eat it with such relish. Well, maybe not relish, but they do seem to enjoy it. Seriously though, I’d bet good money that a lot of them only order fish eggs to give the impression of being aristocratic – just to fit in with the crowd around them. 

If only there were a way to conduct a social experiment and put these guests to the test. Invite them to the grand opening of a high-end restaurant but serve them low-end dishes, at premium prices, of course. With enough fluffy words and high enough prices, I’m sure we could convince people to pay top dollar for not-so-top-dollar meals.

That’s it! That’s my next business venture! I’m going to open a restaurant and call it “Paradox,” serving a high-class atmosphere with low-class cuisine. We’ll tell everyone that the most exotic ingredients are being used to create the unique dishes at sky-high prices. People will eat it up – literally.

Now, what dishes to serve… Mac n’ Cheese will become “Pasta du Fromage.” Peanut Butter and Jelly is now “Blitzed Nuts and Lingonberry Compote Crostini.” And “Crumbled Japanese Kobe Beef and Pasta with a Creamy Mushroom Sauce” is, you guessed it, Hamburger Helper. It’s perfect! And can you imagine the profit margins?

Sure, the guests who dine at the restaurant may tilt their heads and say, “Hmm, this seems familiar,” but do you think they would speak up about it? Absolutely not! They would never shatter the illusion of their posh lifestyle, especially in the presence of their posh peers. They would never risk upsetting the ostentatious status quo.

So many people pay for bragging rights rather than the product. What do I mean? People would rather pay for the overpriced tuna casserole at my new restaurant and post about their experience on social media than potentially miss out on the latest craze. They pay through the nose to make sure they stay a card-carrying member of the “in” crowd and experience the finer things in life. The thing is, they don’t fully enjoy the finer things (remember… fish eggs); they just want them because their peers do. They have FOMO – Fear of Missing Out, and it’s an expensive condition to have.

This sad truth makes me wonder if our “follow the crowd” instincts as humans are even meant for survival anymore. To me, it seems that our current culture takes advantage of it, and rather than benefiting us, it leads us to a place of nonsense – full of fish eggs and empty wallets.

Breaking the Chain

We’ve all seen the dreaded posts on our Facebook timelines:

“Like this photo or get ten years of bad luck!”

“Share this post and pass on a hug – I bet most of you won’t!”

“If you don’t comment and share this picture, all the evil of Pandora’s Box will fall on your head!”

Not to date myself, but… gag me with a spoon.

I thought with the death of sending letters through snail mail, the extinction of chain letters would also come about – wrong! Oh, so very wrong! It feels like the age-old tradition of chain mail has mutated into chain posts, chain comments, and chain messages – and it’s quickly spiraling out of control.

Recently, the trend has been to “test” your friends with these asinine posts. “Look at those who take the time to read to the very end and comment,” they all say. “Those are your true friends!”

Are they? Are they really your true friends? Is this how you judge the quality of your friendship?

What if you’re stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire? Are you going to turn to the people who commented on your Facebook post, and nobody else? What about bail money? Are they going to send you bail money? Or better yet, be right there in the cell with you after a weekend of debauchery.

What about this scenario: you need someone to talk to because you’re having a hard day. Your friend can see that you’re struggling, so they approach you and ask what’s wrong. Before you say a word, you hold up your finger and open the Facebook app. You check your post and see that this person never commented on it. “Sorry,” you say. “You’re not a true friend that I can confide in. You never commented on my “if you’re a true friend” post from this morning.”

None of us (at least, I hope none of us) would screen our friends like that in real life. So why subject our friends to that screening process on the internet?

Attention – that’s why. People love to get the likes, shares, comments, and conversations around their posts. They feel good when people notice them, and it’s completely fine to want to feel noticed. Until it’s taken it to this unhealthy level.

I recently came across this post on my Facebook timeline:

Too. Far. It used to be an annoying fad, but now it’s crossed the line.

To be clear, the person who made this post was not recently (or ever, as far as I’m aware) diagnosed with cancer. Why on earth would they want to worry their friends in this way? Someone very near and dear to me died from cancer. I mourn his loss still… it’s fresh in my heart, like it was yesterday. I have loved ones who have lost their battle. I have more who still struggle against cancer daily. I’m sure we all know someone. Cancer is an insidious disease that touches just about everyone in some way or another. Just because it’s common doesn’t make it fair game for ludicrous social media posts.

Do you know what a real friend would do if they read this post on your timeline? They would stop reading after the very first sentence. Their heart would leap into their throat, their stomach would twist into knots, and adrenaline would start rushing through their veins. They wouldn’t comment; they would be too busy picking up the phone to call you and ask if you were okay or if there was anything they could do to support you. That’s what a real friend does in a time of crisis – they reach out in real life.

If they made it through the whole post, heart in their throat, only to realize it’s a “trick,” a true friend might still reach out… if for no other reason than to slap you silly for posting such a ridiculous thing.

I understand that we love our social media. I understand that many jokes and pranks will be circulated with a few hundred thousand clicks. But please, for the love of all things good and pure, think before you post. Don’t mislead your friends and family with attention-seeking fodder, just to give yourself a nanosecond of happiness when someone comments on your post. And do not ever joke about cancer.

Try posting something worth sharing instead. You really want to raise awareness and honor those who have battled cancer in the past? Go to the Fuck Cancer organization – post their message on your Facebook timeline, and make a real difference with the content you share with your “true” friends.

Game On

You may have noticed, but the world is plunging into chaos. Polar bears are on the verge of extinction, there’s a great big vortex of plastic floating in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and well, you know… *waving vaguely at everything.* I’m not naming names or anything, but if the world were Gotham City the supervillains would be winning right about now, and Batman and Batwoman seem to be on hiatus.

We spend so much time wondering when Clark Kent is going to fly in to save the day, complete with his underpants on the outside of his pants (go figure, obviously some human cultural norms slipped past him after he crash landed) that most of us don’t realize there are millions of gamers around the planet fighting evil, likewise in their underwear, every single day. Okay, so the evil they fight is on the screen, but honestly, what’s the difference between a modern politician and a Quake 4 demon zombie anymore? If the two were in a game of “spot the difference,” I think many people would get very, very flustered trying to work out the puzzle.

Forget Superman. What if our heroes are already here on Earth? Think about it. All comic superheroes are nerds, or at least start out that way. And I mean that with the utmost respect. Superman is a journalist in his usual civilian life. Tony Stark is a complete tech-head. And Wonder Woman, well she’s just wonderful. You could even make an argument that Deadpool himself is somewhat of geek. I mean, he’s a hardcore fan of Dragon Ball, after all.  Point is, all these superheroes started off as quirky outsiders sitting around in their pajamas before getting bitten by a nuclear spider or flung into the far reaches of space and deciding to don leotard outfits, or, you know, stay in their pajamas.

Nerds. Are. Our. Future.

No one has more practice slaying demons, dragons, and whatever other monster you can possibly think of than gamers. If aliens come to attack planet Earth, or heaven forbid, a zombie outbreak occurs, it will be gamers that will be most trained in the art of holding their nerve and planning a survival strategy.

They are our superheroes.

And slowly they are gaining more and more exposure and recognition. Gaming is now big business. American teenager Kyle Giersdorf won $3 million in New York this past July after taking the top prize in a tournament for the popular online video game Fortnite. That’s a hell of a lot better than the chump change the rest of us make. And hell, most of us aren’t even doing anything nearly as fun to earn our paycheck. Speaking of which, in the office wars, I bet most gamers would come out on top as well.

I mean, seriously, any list of gaming skills reads like the perfect CV. I know I’ve said this before, but gamers have to have some serious skills to be good at what they do. Not only do their reflexes need to be as sharp as samurai masters, but they have to stay focused and keep a cool head under pressure.  They need to be able to strategize and juggle multiple tasks at once. In addition, they need to understand and remember numerous complex backstories and be proactive in finding and exploiting glitches to the betterment of their mission or team. Don’t even get me started on stamina or mental acuity… gamers are capable of sustaining a high level of concentration and can stay on task far longer than just about any office dweller. Reliability, problem-solving, productive risk-taking… I’m telling you, they’ve got it all. Such talent surely translates into marketable skills, if not the potential for true greatness.  Come on, gamers, we’re looking at you… you are the future.

Game on.

Outdated Ideas

It’s been a while since I ranted, so I figure it’s due. Lucky you, right? As is often the case, anything to do with animal cruelty can send me off on a tangent. So, humor me as I climb up on my soap box to hopefully open a few eyes… or at least, start a conversation.

From centerpieces to carnival prizes, animals are increasingly exploited as a novelty or decoration. The direct physical abuse and killing of animals is an issue at the forefront of many people’s minds (as it should be) but there is an entire world of cruelty that is mostly ignored, or, if we’re being honest, doesn’t even register to most people as abuse.

I’ve seen fish – goldfish and bettas – languishing in brandy snifters or decorative bowls that are far too small to support them so that they can serve as a fancy centerpiece for weddings. What an excellent conversation starter! “Why is that fish swimming upside down, Mommy?” They are literally suffocating in their own filth and contaminated water in teeny tiny containers so that drunken guests can have a distraction. Contrary to what pet stores will tell you, bettas aren’t meant to live in small spaces.  And those lovely tea lights floating over the heads of the fish? Oh yeah, you find those in their natural habitat don’t ya know. And what happens to the fish after the wedding? I can’t imagine it’s anything good. But ohhhh, look how lovely the table is!

Fun fact: human attention spans are now shorter than goldfish.

Along with goldfish, lizards are commonly given away as prizes at carnivals. During the run of the carnival, they are left in plastic cages filled with a hundred or more lizards in god-awful heat and not much shade and then are handed out indiscriminately to whoever happens to have good aim. They suffer throughout the carnival season and then go home to god knows what with god knows who. Lizards are not usually “easy keepers” and need specific food, habitats, etc., at an expense … if you want the lizard to thrive, that is. The kids who win these sentient prizes often lose interest in their new pets, as kids are wont to do, and the animals are then left to suffer away in their bowls until they eventually die – slowly – from neglect. Or, they are abandoned in the backyard … I mean, they’re lizards after all, they should be fine!  And those left over after the carnival? Dumped in the trash. Oh, don’t roll your eyes at me as if to say, “Oh no, they would never do that!”  I’ve seen it. The whole process is horrendous and unacceptable.

Another thing that pisses me off is when people decide to rent animals for their wedding or other momentous occasion as photo props, because, you know… aesthetics. Sure, it’s “your day” but what the hell does that have to do with the white caribou posed alongside you in your wedding portraits? Nothing, that’s what.

Specialty businesses allow people to rent everything from monkeys to caribou to foxes (and everything else, and yes, I mean everything: lynxes, macaws, you name it) and forcing them into unfamiliar and frightening situations. Yes, I get it. You read a lot of Dr. Seuss as a kid, but that fox does not want to be in that boat, and Horton the elephant does see and hear who is mistreating it.

Don’t even get me started on “white dove” releases. However, if you have a minute, I suggest you read this article from The Dodo which is much better written than anything I could hope to do.

For the most part, these animals don’t live great lives as the companies that supply them see them only as an income driving tool – nothing more. They are only a means to an end and when they’ve fulfilled their purpose and no longer line their owner’s pockets with money, there is only more suffering awaiting them as they are then sent to auction, or worse.

Of the many possible horrors that await an animal auctioned or sold off after leading a life already so full of suffering, captive hunts (aka canned hunting) is only one example. If you’re unfamiliar with canned hunting, it is a trophy hunt where animals are kept within fenced enclosures where they stand no possible chance of escaping only to be hunted by humans. The animals found at these canned hunting ranches are typically accustomed to humans and are often purchased from private breeders or owners that hold a surplus of animals from zoos, circuses, or the lovely little “animal encounter” businesses we’ve been discussing. Frequently these animals have been raised and socialized around humans their whole lives and are therefore unafraid of humans… even having been taught and encouraged to expect food when they see someone.

My point is, there is a very important conversation to be had about the treatment of animals that goes far beyond their presence on our dinner plates. We need to think about the way we use animals for our own selfish needs, find the wrong in what we’re doing, and actively work to change it. The first step in the process is simply identifying the problem and, unfortunately, that seems to be the hardest part for so many.

“It takes nothing away from a human to be kind to an animal.” ~ Joaquin Phoenix

The One With the Red Cover

I don’t know if you belong to any book or movie groups on social media, but they’re an awesome way to connect with like-minded entertainment junkies where you can delve into plot holes, critique subplots involving second string characters, and debate ad nauseum the politics of certain actors, but let me tell you, it’s seriously not as boring as that run-on sentence just made it out to be.

Sometimes, you’re given homework. Again, membership is usually a little more interesting than my descriptors would lead you to believe.  Anyway, fellow members (you know who you are) will routinely offer up puzzles to the rest of the group. Like, what was that movie that had the title with a name of a flower in it… or that book, you know, the one that came out 30 years ago with a red cover and a character named John. The responses to these vague campaigns often run the gamut. Some, like me, take it as a challenge.

Of course, there are always those who respond, why don’t you Google it? I mean, they have a point. Google is right there. Google is your friend. But then again, isn’t that the point of these niche groups? To talk, discuss, and generally obsess over whatever it is the group is patterned after? It’s the perfect place to ask those types of questions, and quite frankly, I’m not sure why the “go ask Google” people are even in those groups if they don’t want to help a fellow bibliophile or cinephile in their pursuit of a dated book or an obscure film.

And what about the people who create these intriguing side quests and then apparently drop off the face of the Earth?

Yeah, does anybody remember a book about a girl named Jane, I read it, oh, about 25 years ago, had something to do with the sea, and something bad happens. Yeah, that’s all I’ve got. Anybody know it?

Then you have fifty people throwing out answers, some of which are pretty damned decent guesses and either those folks have a vast mental library or else they’re fantastic researchers… but, we’ll never know the answer to this riddle, because the original poster never comes back to say, yeah, that was it! Or no, you’re all wrong, are you crazy, of course that wasn’t it!

I mean, at least come back and give the rest of us some closure for god’s sake. I think those people need a course in manners. Hey, I remember that book! By a lady named Miss Manners of all things. Maybe I should recommend it to them.

You know what, though? This lack of rejoinder happens in any online group that has people as members, the one constant being, well, people.

Seen in a backyard gardening group: What’s this plant growing in my garden … I never planted it, it just showed up one day, fully grown. Can I eat it? Will it kill my cat!? What’s the deal?  And someone responds, because they always do, with encyclopedic detail, pictures and all, to let the would-be gardener know not only the name of the plant, but a delicious recipe their grandmother had using that very plant. Others pile on with their own identification and recipes for teas, salves, and oils. But does concerned forager and cat owner ever respond? Nope. We’re just talking to ourselves at that point.

It’s the whole being behind a keyboard rather than face-to-face thing, I think. Even though the internet connects us, there’s still an inherent disconnect.

And we still don’t know what happened with her cat.

Essentially Annoyed

Turns out, I’m essential… who knew? As an essential worker, driving on the roads for the past few weeks during the shelter-in-place for our state was amazing. Of course now that they’re reopening the state, all hell is breaking loose. But there for a while, there was no traffic; just breeze right on into work and right on home. My gas tank was loving it, that’s for sure. Bonus: it made for a much less ‘road-ragey’ kind of experience.

But the few people that were on the roads with me were determined to undermine my “serenity now” resolve. Even though there was minimal, and I mean minimal, traffic out there, those I shared the road with weren’t exactly good at sharing. Tailgating, dangerously weaving around people to the point of being completely ridiculous, quite like the chase scene from every heist movie ever made. I guess they were taking advantage of the empty roads to live out their Vin Diesel inspired fantasies. The car ones, people. The car ones. I just don’t understand why people are in such a mad dash to get somewhere. And you know damn well they’re rushing off to get somewhere they don’t want to be in the first place. While not rage-fuel, it’s been annoying.

Speaking of being annoyed, sometimes it’s the little things that get me, you know what I mean? I’m one of those people who are very adamant about the express checkout at the grocery store. If you have 12 items or less, all is good. Hell, I can even forgive that 13th item people so often sneak in. I’ve been there myself. But sometimes, you get behind that person who has a month’s worth of grocery shopping in their cart and have the nerve to get into the express lane. In my head, I start counting and when I get up past 30, I start to see pink (yeah, yeah, I know, it’s supposed to be “I start to see red,” but really, in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t truly a “sees red” kind of a situation, so I just “see pink”).  You know that the poor cashier, who really just wants to be done with the day (and honestly, who can blame them), won’t or can’t say anything and according to my kids (killjoys that they are), it’s not my place to speak up either, but you best believe I’m giving that lady the old stink eye the whole time.

People not returning their grocery cart is something else entirely. I mean, honestly. The cart return is right there. I know I’ve ranted about this subject before, but still… I have zero remorse for cursing these “non-returners.” And I don’t mean throwing a few sentence enhancers out of my vast repertoire their way. No, I mean cursing, as in “may your errant cart roll backwards over your foot and then ding your car.”  It’s a matter of basic courtesy. You grab a cart, you use said cart, and then you return the cart so that others can use it. It’s stupid easy.

Oh, and quick question, I realize the pedestrian has the right of way. I mean, of course they do. However, is there any point at all when a car is actually moving that the pedestrian should just look at the situation and say, yeah, umm… I think I won’t walk out in front of that moving car all willy-nilly, or behind it, for that matter.

I mean, come on people. Get your shit together.

The Ghostest with the Mostest

I’m pretty sure it’s come up before, but I’m quite the horror movie fanatic. Well nothing too crazy like a having a life-size cutout of Freddie Krueger or Michael Myers (slasher extraordinaire, not the Spy Who Shagged Me) in my living room or a lifelike replica of Pamela Voorhees’ dismembered head on a candlelit coffee table (just let me pause for a moment to say that if anyone is selling one, please be sure to send me a message with a fair price.)

With that said, I am a pretty avid fan, nonetheless. Back in the day, anything and everything was fair game in my cinematic horror world. Films like Razorback (don’t judge me!) were in the same line-up as Ghost Story for my late-night viewing. I like to think that my viewing habits have gotten more consistently sophisticated over time, but I’m not so sure. Nowadays, movies like The Cabin in the Woods (2011) share space with classics such as The Haunting of Hill House (1963) in “my stuff” on streaming media sites.

If I had to pinpoint a genre (or sub-genre, if you like) to be a personal favorite, I would have to say I lean strongly towards haunted house and general ghost-y movies.

Once in a while, Hollywood scores pretty big with a well-done ghost story, but mostly it’s a special effects game. Don’t get me wrong, I love CGI-laden movies as much as anyone, but movies that build from a slow burn make for a more realistic scare in my opinion.

M.R. James is a favorite writer and while some of his stories have been utilized for movie making, there is so much more potential there that’s left untapped.

If I were to recommend a film that is inspired by one of his works, I’d say Number 13 (2006) is a pretty good story. If you’re a fan of the shining, it’s definitely worth a look.

In the age of zombies (World War Z or Night of the Living Dead), creature features (The Descent or A Quiet Place), and others, a good ghost story is hard to come by. There have been a few wonderful adaptations of ghost stories throughout cinema, but the most popular ghost story of the last decade or so would probably go to Paranormal Activity, and that’s such a modernized “fast-food” experience in my opinion.

So, why is there a lack of really good ghost stories?  Is it because Hollywood knows its audience usually has the attention span of a jar of mayonnaise?  Or is it that people just like to see pain and anguish on a physical level because they’re sadistic voyeurs? A friend of mine who is obsessed with horror, thinks that most of Hollywood’s decisions are targeted to two basic types of horror movie audiences.

You have the mainstream movies, like Winchester or The Visit (good movie by the way!), which are intended to appeal to the casual horror movie fan. For instance, “You know what Becky, I haven’t seen a horror movie in a few years, let’s go check out this eerie ghost flick at the theater.” Versus hardcore fans of horror, where it’s all about shock value, over the top gore, sex, violence, etc. For example: “Hey Sven, have you seen Tokyo Gore Police yet? I heard they used over 50 thousand gallons of fake blood making that film, we should go check it out.”

Where are the intelligent, slow building haunted house stories? I know that Hollywood sometimes has difficulty with original material – hence all the remakes, but in this case, there is source material galore. The fact that modern day audiences have likely never read gothic horror is not so much a slight on society as it is, quite simply, teeming with potential for screenwriters.

Pitfalls

I’m back! Did you miss me? Yeah, you missed me. I’ll go with that, anyway.

Having my internet restored should be a good thing. And it is, it most definitely is. I mean, the internet is a pathway to the world around us in so many ways. Unfortunately, my need to be informed conflicts greatly with the newfound peace and quiet that came with the lack of WiFi, and as you might have guessed, jumping right back into the dumpster fire that is social media these days may have been the wrong thing to do.

Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic there have been a lot of, shall we say, questionable activities finding their way to social media feeds around the globe. Idiots desperately trying to amass a following by licking toilet seats or dragging their tongue across ice cream in the store, just to place it back in the freezer section for some unsuspecting patron to buy. Hell, there are people out there who aren’t even trying to be discreet about it and straight-up spitting, sneezing, or coughing on produce in the supermarket while shouting, “You’re all going to die!” or some such nonsense. This got me thinking about how our fellow humans just downright suck in my opinion. I apologize for the negativity, but I think I’ve mentioned it before… I hate people.

Let’s talk social media groups. I don’t understand people who feel the need to join groups they have no interest in for the sole purpose of just harassing the other members. For instance, your typical obnoxiously vocal misogynist joining a feminist group so he can harangue the female members. Or an alt-right conservative in a human rights group. Or an atheist in a Christian book club. Or a devoted meat eater seeking out a vegan group to espouse the virtues of his or her carnivorous diet. Or vice versa… a devoted vegan joining a group dedicated to hunting or BBQ recipes just to shame the people who partake in such things. I mean, I could go on and on. The thing is, most of these people are doing it just to amuse themselves as they read and reread their own ‘hilarious’ commentary, and bear witness to the anger and hurt left in their wake.  Maybe it’s just me, but it sure seems like they have more time on their hands than sense.

Facebook has to be among the worst for this type of behavior. At one time, Facebook was used as a way to pump up your image, to project a perfect life or a perfect marriage or a perfect home or perfect kids. And yeah, some people still use it for that. But now, it seems that along with many other aspects of our society, and social media as a whole, Facebook has become a pit of negativity, abuse, harassment, and conspiracy theories. People wear their stupidity like it’s a badge of honor.

With these so-called trolls, the sky’s the limit to what they can and will get into, and the very real damage they can cause. Even before our current state of pandemic, where too many seem to have more than enough time to engage in hate, we, as a society, were spiraling downwards. It just seems like we’ve slid completely down into the pit rather too quickly for my taste.