Feeds:
Posts
Comments

December 31st, 1999

 

In the 8th grade I  was afraid that my mom’s microwave would attack me in the middle of the night. I wish this was an exaggeration but it’s not. While most 8th grade girls worried about puberty and climbing the social ladder that is middle school…I spent most of 8th grade petrified that on December 31st, 1999 my microwave (or worst the y2krice cooker) was going to go ape-shit on me due to Y2K hysteria and countless predictions that the world as we knew it was going to end because Technology was on the attack.

The year was 1999 and I was 13 years old  in my last year of middle school. I was obsessed with the show Roswell (a teen romance between an Alien and human), I had an embarrassing haircut that was part mullet part curl fest and my best friend was this nerdy boy named [Sam] who was both incredibly smart and dumb at the same time. We used to hang out all the time despite the fact that we had nothing in common except  that middle school was unkind to us physically (re: part mullet part curl fest) and emotionally (because we were both loners and nerds struggling to connect to our peers).

At the time he was one of the only friends I had in middle school because I was new and from New York and everyone assumed I was a bad seed because my accent was weird. Except [Sam], who was kind and funny and liked having me around because it meant he had someone to eat lunch and walk the hallways with.

[Sam’s] dad worked for an IT company and in 1999 once rumors about Y2K spread  he was scared that his dad would lose his job if technology was this obsolete thing.  While that year and decade pre-dated smart phones and our current expansive and frightening technological reality, in 1999 we were all still aware that we relied heavily on technology. Even if by technology you mean AOL chat-rooms and web-tv. At the time, we did not have a computer in our home but we figured the Y2k bug would affect electricity as well as basic appliances, not just computers. So when word spread that a simple error over some 00’s could shut shit down permanently…we were scared.

Just the other day I had a mini breakdown when my internet was down for all of 5 seconds. My internet of course is connected to everything which meant  I couldn’t surf the web on my phone, watch Netflix and play games on my Chrome book or stream Spotify on my ipod. With the internet down there was a brief moment of complete and utter “life is over. I am disconnected from everything. who am I?” before the amazing bars of wifi appeared again on my phone and I disappeared back into my internet heavy life.  Because this is my life now it’s strange to think that even in 1999 with our limited knowledge of the interwebs, everyone was aware enough to know that a shutdown of technology could be disastrous.

When the Y2k craze began I was aware enough to know that it could affect more than just my ability to visit Roswell fan sites . Y2K sounded scary because it was described as the end of life as we knew it. My obsession and fear of microwaves on the attack was birthed from this doomsday prediction that the media  of course perpetuated. My brother and I watched an hour long special about Y2K  and in that show they played out different alternatives  for what could happen on December 31st. Only one of the alternatives was “absolutely nothing” while the other scenarios included; alien invasions, year long black-out/power outages and what scared my brother and I the most “Technology on the Attack”.

In one scenario an actor is standing in their kitchen warming up food in the microwave minutes before Midnight on December 31st. As the clock strikes 12, the microwave goes absolutely crazy (along with every other device in the actors apartment) and starts to destroy everything in sight. I have never been so scared in my whole entire life watching various appliances come to life and go ham on this poor guy. I had nightmares for days after seeing this and it didn’t help that the person I went to to assuage these fears was [Sam] whose dad worked in IT.

Anytime I would ask him what the probability was that we were screwed come December 31st, he’d say pretty high and then list the non-nonsensical reasons why we were doomed.He seemed most concerned that his dad would lose his job and they would be forced to live like savages in the  dystopian world that would soon follow. I was afraid my mom’s microwave would attack me on midnight along with the other appliances, and to this day I find myself apologizing to inanimate objects when i bump into this…just…in…case.

Of course on January 1st 2000, when we all woke up to our normal lives (and no deaths were reported from malfunctioning appliances) I felt stupid for having worried so much but was of course relieved that my fears did not come to life.

Unfortunately,  that same fear and hysteria of Y2k  has returned ten fold this year in the form of this presidential election and I can’t believe I had to endure the same panic stricken, anxiety filled sense of doom of 1999 all over again. 2016 has been a fucking weird year and I am faced with oddly the same anxieties that I had 17 years ago “Is the world going to end when the clock strikes 12” “are we heading into the dark ages” “is my microwave going to kill me”  but instead of having a series of things to worry about, I just worry about one big old thing that some how combines all of my fears into one. One big old orange faced thing…one big old racist, sexist, misogynist thing and I am scared shit-less and this time around I don’t have a nerdy boy friend to awkwardly hug in the hallways to assuage those fears.

This election is killing me. Just killing me and while I am not going  politicize this blog with who I am voting for (and I’d respect if you not politicize my blog or the comments with who you are voting for), I must stress who I am not voting for because that candidate goes against everything that I am and strive to be as an American, as a woman and as a person of color.  But even if all of those attributes did not apply to me, I would still not vote for that candidate because his ability to dehumanize Americans, women and P.O.C, still stands against everything I am as a kind and  decent human being.

But i can’t help but correlate the Y2K hysteria with this current election season. The last few months have been filled with uncertainty and doomsday predictions that put 1999 to shame. Just today, I listened to another newscaster spell out the various scenarios that could happen tomorrow AND honestly after listening to her dismal predictions (that either way there is going to be a huge group of American’s upset about the outcome) I would actually prefer being attacked by a microwave on November 8th, 2016  than wake up on November 9th in an America driven by hate and fear.

I’ve voted in every presidential election since I was 18 years old but this is actually the first election where I am voting in New York. This election, for many reasons,  feels monumental to me and could go down as one of the more important elections of my lifetime that unfortunately has little to do with the history that could be made tomorrow.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that I am a “left-wing” liberal so you may already by turned off by my views on the Election. I get it, I really do. I believe in all rights for all people regardless of religion, race or sexual orientation. I identity as a feminist not because I am a woman but because I believe in equal rights. I know that all lives matter but I recognize and pay attention when black lives ( matter) and LGBTQ lives (matter )and blue lives (matter) and  Muslim lives (matter) need to take precedence because of injustice.

I attend Pride parade every year, I believe in equal pay for women but also paid maternity leave for the mama bears out there wanting to have a family and a career.  I am all for stricter gun laws and that private citizens should not have access to military arsenal. I believe that women’s reproductive choices should be hers and hers alone. I care about the environment (a lot) and I think if someone wants to go to college in this country they should not have to sell their first born to Sallie Mae to obtain a degree only to spend post college years struggling to get a entry level job and pay back loans with astronomical interest rates.

So, I get it….for many reasons I am probably not the demographic for the conservative brothers and sisters but this doesn’t mean I am against conservatism. This doesn’t mean that I don’t respect people who hold different values then my own. I can look past party lines and  will always put my country first  because outside of my own gender and race, outside of my own self identification, I am above all else an American. So while I may not agree with some things that the rest of the country holds dear  I try not to judge harshly against views that are different then mine unless those views are racist, sexist, misogynist or discriminatory.

So there is no amount of rhetoric that can convince me that the abhorrent words and actions of one candidate is better for the America I love and believe in.

But I am freaked the fucked out about tomorrow  as if it were December 31st, 1999 all over again because apparently this is something that people need to convinced about. The outcome of tomorrow feels calamitous and bleak and I honestly would rather have an alien invasion, attacking toasters and the complete and utter shut down of the inter-webs  than 4-8 years of his presidency. It is not about him not representing my “left-wing” liberal lifestyle, it’s about the ugly and divisive nature of his campaign. He does not represent the America I know or believe in. He is not the face of the America we fought years to become.

Because if I can be honest, I am not just offended by his campaign mainly because he openly insults women and minorities and communities of different faiths. I am not just offended by his campaign because in high school I was told by a guidance counselor that I shouldn’t apply to college because “my people” didn’t succeed in collegiate settings and that maybe I should consider working at like a “Walmart or something”. I am not just offended because as a women I have been told that I was not attractive enough to want things in life like happiness and success.

I am offended by his campaign because I do not have to be a left wing liberal or a right wing conservative or a blue collar worker or a Wall Street elite in order to take great offense to comments that dehumanize America and the human beings who call her home (by birth or by choice)

I am offended as an American voting in this election for all the people in this country who are at risk of losing their basic right to pursue the American dream because of this divisive language that rejects progress and compromise. Outside of my own race, gender and religion I am offended as an American when he reduces all African Americans to “inner city dwelling thugs” with no hope or promise of a better future. As an American I am offended by his statements that reduces Mexican’s to rapists and murders. As an American I am offended by statements that categorize Muslims as terrorist bent on destroying American lives.

No matter what party line I’ve chosen to straddle or self identifying  group I am a part of…I am above all a person with a moral compass who wants all people in this country to have equal opportunities to succeed and thrive. I have heard people say this wouldn’t even be a race if Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders were running. I have heard people say they will move out of this county if that candidate wins. But some of us can’t leave, some of us do not have the resources, or the money or the privilege to jump ship. And I recognize that my vote tomorrow is not about party it is about morality and my attempt to prevent something we cannot come back from unscathed.

I am not nor will I ever be with him. I believe with my whole heart that we are more unified and stronger together than apart. I believe in unity and moving forward and repairing the cracks made deeper and uglier by this election. I believe that we will make history tomorrow and that they day after tomorrow and the day after that tomorrow we will move forward stronger and better. I can’t imagine waking up on November 9th, 2016 in any America other than that one but I can’t ignore  the other scenario.  I have to consider and prepare for even that scenario as the days have become hours until Election Day. It’s a scenario I pray will never come to light but i’d be ignorant to ignore it as one.

On December 31st, 1999 I remember sleeping through New Years Eve because if something bad did happen, I wanted to be safe in bed and unaware. By then we were all pretty freaked out about what could happen  at midnight. I of course imagined the worst. I thought the clock would strike midnight and the opening scene of Terminator was going to be my new reality and because of this fear I just wanted December 31st  to be over with so I could figure out how to adapt next: be it in a technology-less world or a return to normalcy. Because of this, I went to bed early and stared at the ceiling as my mom and brother counted down the seconds until midnight. I held my breath. I prayed to God and Mother Nature and Buddha. I prayed that if something bad did happen that my family and I would be safe and find a way to rebuild in a post-apocalyptic world. I prayed that the microwave would not kill me. I prayed for a long time on that one.

And while I don’t quite remember the relief I felt on January 1st, 2000, I know that I will remember the relief that can only be experienced on November 9th, 2016. That this nightmare will be over, that our basic goodness and humanness will prevail tomorrow and that even though we might not be the same America as yesterday we will be a stronger America together.

The Year of Hibernation.

The truth is. I look for you every day. In the faces of strangers. In song lyrics or in the sentences from my favorite books. In clouds that drift lazily in the sky. You are droplets of rain on leaves. You are big gusts of wind rattling tree leaves. You are the warmth from the sun on a cloudless day. You are silence in a crowd. I look for you constantly because there is still this hope, that you will be found. That I have not lost you but instead that you are just particles of some bigger truth, pieces of a complicated puzzle dispersed in the air that I cannot see or feel or touch but that I know is there and must always be on the look-out for.  I look for you in everything, every day, as I imagine I will always be guilty of doing for as long as I am able.

There was a time when I could not imagine a life without you.

It is perhaps very stupid and selfish that I some days just wish you were here. If not for me, than for you.

We were supposed to grow old and be weird together. And there is nothing more that I miss than that.

 

Silver Bullet

FullSizeRender (37)This week marked the 30th Anniversary of Silver Bullet, one of my favorite Stephen King adaptations, and naturally I had to re-watch this underrated gem of a movie last night after a grueling work week and general anxieties about life.

I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of werewolf lore which is a weird thing to say because werewolves are so popular.  While I love all things supernatural, werewolves are sort of the middle child of the horror genre for me. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I equate all things canine to puppies and puppies are cute and cuddly, not blood thirsty human dogs. Maybe it’s the fact that werewolves are ‘cursed’ individuals who got the short end of the cool supernatural stick. Or maybe it has to do with the fact that I used to work at a romance company that specialized in supernatural romance and werewolf/human love bordered too much on bestiality for me.

Whatever the case, my guttural response to werewolves in books and movies has always been a soft groan of ‘ugh, why’.

Having said this, I don’t want to take away from the fact that Silver Bullet, a movie about a werewolf, is one of my favorite Stephen King adaptations (Misery being my favorite…because um, have you seen Misery. Kathy Bates is terrifying) No lie.  Based on his novella, the movie follows a brother and sister who live in small town plague by mysterious deaths. The brother and sister have a pretty strained relationship because the brother, played by a young Corey Haim, is paralyzed from the waist down and the sister feels like his disability has given him unfair attention and love from everyone (she is as annoying in the movie as my description).

Anyway, at first the random deaths in the town are ruled accidental but due to the gruesome nature of each one,  the town suspects a serial murderer is to blame.  However, the two teens and their alcoholic uncle, played convincingly by Gary Busey, are convinced that the murderer is in fact a Werewolf and they spend the remainder of the movie squabbling and  trying to pinpoint who the werewolf is and how they can kill him or her.

I did not have high hopes for this movie when I first saw it as a kid, mainly because of my disinterest even then for werewolves. But this movie is pretty perfect on many levels. It is campy and gory without the cheap scares of modern horror. But it is also just a really good coming of age story that just happens to take place during a very traumatic time. I rarely purchase movies anymore because streaming has made everything watchable with a click. But Silver Bullet is one that I own and probably display on my shelf. I tend to like horror movies that are smart and scary and this one is both.

Anyway, I am over this work week and very excited that the weekend is here. Guillermo Del Torro’s Crimson Peak comes out today and despite my love of Pacific Rim, I am happy for his return to horror. Guillermo Del Torro is a craftsman story teller and as a long fan I continue to get giddy for every new movie he releases. If you haven’t seen The Devil’s Backbone, please please please, give this movie a view. It’s one of his earlier films and his most personal.  I know that Guillermo is known primarily for Pan’s Labyrinth but The Devils Backbone is the best ghost story movie I have ever seen in my whole life. Hands Down.

Welcome to Lore

lore-podcast

I’ve only recently started listening to podcasts thanks to my 9-5 (well…10-6) office gig and the constant battle I encounter to combat boredom at work. Before working in a office, I worked in retail and at a college University. Both involved constant moving and interaction with customers or students every minute of the day. And when I wasn’t busy helping people, I was working with my best friends who constantly kept me happy and entertained.

Working in an office is quite different. I often go hours without uttering a word to my co-workers who are always typing on the computer or on the phone doing whatever it is that marketing people do. Because of this I am often quite lonely at work. There isn’t anyone in my office that I bond with and I spend the bulk of my day trying to look busy. I have downloaded spotify on my work computer and read e-books in my browser. I have written super short fan fictions and also, of course, updated my personal and public blog. I have mastered the art of looking busy while also trying to combat loneliness.

Listening to Podcasts has become the most enjoyable use of my free time at work. The bestie introduced me to podcasts a few months back and after listening to Serial I was pretty much hooked. Dear Sugar, Horrorflix, Savage Lovecast, Worst Friends Ever and Rerun are just a few of my favorites and while I don’t have anyone to talk to at work, I feel at home and among friends when I listen to pod-casters online.

Of course as this is 31 days of horror, I must rave about one of my favorite spooky podcasts “Lore”. As a kid I became obsessed with urban legends right around the time the movie Urban Legends was released in theaters (Jared Leto as a college student continues to be one of my favorite looks for him). I may have actually begged my mom to take me to the library so i could check out a few books on folklore and mythology because as a kid who loved Fairy Tales, Urban Legends, in many ways, were just a scarier versions of them.

I have this profound belief that many things related to lore and mythology are steeped in a little bit of truth. I think everything is a variation of a fact and this alone makes movies or stories about our fears even more petrifying. Lore,  is an awesome bi-monthly podcast, hosted by author Aaron Mahnke, about the history behind scary stories’ but also the truth behind some of the legends we grow up to believe and fear. These lores range from the oldest tales of supernatural creatures, witches and serial killers to possessed inanimate objects and the things that lurk in the periphery of our senses.

It is all morbid and macabre but Mahke’s soothing voice and general ability as a storyteller makes each episode a compelling and intimate look at a specific lore. I recently listened to UNBOXED , an episode about a possessed doll and I legitimately got chills. I may have silently whispered ‘oh hell to the naw’ several times during the 20 minute episode (they all are pretty short but definitely worth the listen) and then resolved to never ever get withing 5 feet of a freaking doll. I just can’t.

Monday mornings are typically the worst for me and every other human being alive. But armed with some dope ass coffee, Drake and the newest episode of Lore: Covered Mirrors to listen to when I get back from my lunch break, I can’t complain about the cubicle life today.I highly recommend that you give this gem of a podcast a listen. Lore, but mainly Aaron Mahnke, manages to humanize folklore, which in and of itself is a frightening task to undertake but one that definitely entertains and enlightens.

bookI am always on the hunt for a really good horror anthology.

When I was in grade school, I may or not have checked the Scary Story Treasury from the library so many times that the librarian gifted me a copy over the holidays. I wish this was an exaggeration.

Because short stories generally tend to be a hit or miss for me, finding a new anthology compiled with generally creepy and short stories has been difficult. Horror is not a genre I am apt to reading to be honest. I scare easily if my mind is allowed to make shit up while reading and the amount of literature induced nightmares are almost embarrassing to recount.

A few weeks ago, as I was browsing Goodreads for, well, a good read, I came across Slasher Girls  & Monsters; a horror anthology from leading YA writers. Because I used to love Christopher Pike and R.L Stine, I figured I’d give this book a shot seeing it includes all the elements of campy horror I adore.

I’m only a story in but so far so it’s not too bad. This weekend is supposed to be rainy and wet and dreary (which I love) so i intend to spend a bulk of it curled up in blankets reading this book.

Limbo

limbo-tp

Title: Limbo

Media: Xbox 360 arcade game

Release Date: July 2011

I did not intend on incorporating any horror related games to my 31 Days of Horror list but last night my brother introduced me to Limbo and I was instantly hooked to the spooky, atmospheric and minimalist horror-isque game.

I love gaming and used to consider myself quite the gamer back in college. Unfortunately, I haven’t played many games this past year (aside from Life is Strange) and while horror survival games is my absolute favorite genre there hasn’t been anything recently that I am willing to pay full price for and commit time to.

Last year I made the mistake of downloading the Slender game on my Xbox in honor of Halloween. The game was pretty much an elongated and muddled version of the original and while it was still creepy and scary (mofo popped up everywhere!), the scares were often cheap, predictable and fleeting and the game was a big let down.

But I’ve been craving a really good horror survival game for some time and last night as I was preparing to settle down and watch the newest episode of Scream Queens, I got a cryptic and almost frantic text from my brother as if he’d read my mind “Yo, you need to play this game called Limbo.it’s creepy, beautiful and scary’.

Because I acquired my love of video games from my older bro, I trust his instincts above all others and naturally he did not let me down with this recommendation.  I immediately paused Scream Queens, downloaded Limbo (which is currently only $10 on Xbox) and spent the next few hours playing this deliriously creepy, atmospheric and beautiful game.

limbo_flower_by_benmrhall

Limbo is basically Tim Burton meets Where the Wild Things are.The premise is both simple and complex. A young nameless boy wakes up disoriented in a desolate and terrifying forest.

Guided only by an illuminated gaze and clumsy limbs, the characters only objective (so far)  is to survive the bleak purgatorial surroundings by solving a series of puzzles and objectives in his way.

Of course these puzzles are not easy, each level presenting it’s own unique challenges. Not only are the puzzles frustratingly hard but there are monsters (some human, many inhuman) that hide in the shadows and threaten his safety and ability to survive (at the moment this creature is a big, fast spider who’s mechanical moments had me sobbing all night) .His path, journey, trajectory forward to what I can only hope is heaven, is cryptic, multi layered and jarring but also very difficult as the character is only a child with limited skills and a prosperity towards dying.

What makes the game terrifying are the quiet moments of silence as the Boy runs and jumps from one location to another encountering shocking images of death in a shadow of a world on the fringe. This alone creates a sense of urgency in the doom that could lay ahead for him. I found myself holding my breathe throughout much of my time playing worried for his plight (and my inability to keep him alive very long) and because his trek appears endless while the puzzles become more demanding and challenging and bleak.

Games in this genre generally do not affect me as much as Limbo has. But my brother was spot on in his description and recommendation. It is a beautiful, simplistic and ‘creepy’ because it touches on themes of isolation, purgatory, loss and atonement which prove to be as adversarial for this character as the monsters do.

I have found myself in the last few hours more afraid of what I do not see rather than what is in front of me. I get a sense that the character is fighting against a world he is now as much a part of as he is against. We do not know how he got there. Or if he will ever truly find freedom from this place. Perhaps his path towards redemption is moot and fruitless but nonetheless one worth partaking in if there is any semblance of hope and solace at the end of his journey.

images

31 Days of Horror

Slasher_Babies_by_thedarklordkeishaMy favorite time of the year is finally here and in honor of October, Halloween and crisp fall days, I have decided to watch a horror movie a day starting October 1st. For 31 straight days I am going to re-watch (or maybe view for the first time) movies and episodes that have solidified my love for horror.

I hate admitting that this is probably going to be a  very easy excursion  because the bulk of my weekends now consist of Netflix and chilling and I have no problem devoting more time to this. While I try to catch up on the tv shows I miss out on during the work week,  i typically end up watching several horror movies a week, especially on the weekend before Monday rick rolls around. Because lets be honest Horror, at the end of the day, is my go to security blanket of a genre.

The horror genre has been such a pivotal part of my pop culture life and my love continues to grow with every attempt at a scare. My mom blames my love of all things horror on the fact that she read one Stephen King novel while she was pregnant with me. In her mind this pre-natal exposure to scary things paved the way for my fascination with the macabre.

While I am not sure this was actually the case, I did become interested in horror pretty early on and did not spend a lot of my childhood watching cartoons. I still haven’t seen a fair share of Disney classics because I preferred to watch Child’s Play instead of Bambi. I was obsessed with Tales from the Crypt and R.L. Stine and by the fourth grade had seen my fair share of scary flicks. This is not to say I didn’t have a normal childhood full of Nickelodeon shows and solo dance sessions to Backstreet Boys songs. I just also loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer and idolized Wes Craven.

I’ve only just come to accept that I am a highly functioning, intuitive, peace loving and for the most part sane adult woman who just happens to like slasher films and books about monsters. Growing up, I was almost ashamed of my love for the genre because it was deemed deviant and strange. I remember being asked what my favorite movie was in the sixth grade by a cute boy who I had a semi-crush. At the time I was obsessed with The Craft and nervously blurted that out as my answer. The cute boy seemed a little taken aback and never spoke to me again. It was sort of my first, but not last, time I equated my interest in horror with weirdness.  So many people couldn’t understand why a “girl like me” would like a genre that is often equated with violence instead of what I have always equated with survival and endurance.

However, that shame and unease has all but dissipated in my 20’s. I am a proud and avid horror movie junkie who has spent hours talking about and watching horror movies with like minded friends (and the loves of my life who don’t like horror but who allow me to go on and on about it anyway).  Horror has expanded so much these past 20 some odd years because of movies like the Sixth Sense and Paranormal Activity and tv shows like Supernatural and American Horror Story which have propelled the genre into mainstream media. And while the genre may not always be respected or understood, it definitely has a place and a much broader audience these days.

Obviously the month October is the most appropriate time and place for horror movie junkies. It  is the one month out of the year where there is a valid excuse to watch something scary and campy everyday. Last year I simply grabbed a bunch of movies and tv series from the library and spent the week leading up to Halloween cramming in as much as I could. It was pretty taxing but fun and I was pretty bummed that I only gave myself a week to squeeze everything in. This year i thought i’d pace myself a little by watching something horror related everyday but in small doses. As I started coming up with the list of movies I wanted to watch I realized that it could and would probably include some of my favorite Halloween themed episodes from tv series because some of them are truly amazing, hilarious and often terrifying.

Because i rarely get inspiration to write these days it seemed only natural that i try and  journal a snippet/review/musing about each thing that I watch during my 31 Days of Horror. This  will either be very fun and interesting or tiresome and I will have nightmares. Either way, it’ll be a nice little ode to horror which is generally a very underrated and under appreciated genre that actually has some really standout, cinematic, often shitty but universal themes of storytelling and lore which continue to captivate me.