The Wonderful World of Blogging

Back in 2010 I started my first blog. I wrote a minute post and published it. I then ignored it for almost exactly one year.

I quite literally had forgotten all about it.  I had so many other things going on in my life that I didn’t have time to post to a blog.

I was a literal ‘babe in the woods’ when it came to the wonderful world of blogging.  There were loads of things I didn’t know, except that my daughter hated doing them for her university course. She much preferred the pdf format for her uni work and the blog’s for her own thoughts.

In my mind, since she directed so much vitriol towards the required blogs, I decided that they must be terrible time consuming things best left alone. That belief combined with my own personal version of the Queen’s annus horribilis meant that my blogging days were to be postponed for quite a while.

Our family had been going through some incredibly stressful days/months/years and the inevitable divorce followed. 2010 was a year of running, rushing and realization. It was also a time of starting over.

I spent so much time trying to re-establish myself that I forgot that I also needed to get back in touch with myself. I had completely lost track of who I was and what I like doing. It had gotten to the point that when I looked in the mirror to shave in the morning, I would say, “Hello stranger,” to the shell-shocked face that looked back at me.

So it took me a year to remember that I had started the damn thing. I decided that I would do a minimum of one post per day. I had wanted to be a writer before I’d ever dreamed of doing anything else. I felt that this was a good way to get back into practise.

And before you could say, “Bob’s your uncle,” I was mixing my metaphors with the best of them. I also discovered that when you added something to your blog it was called a post. I still think of them as articles, I can blame Journalism 101 back in the 70’s for that one.

It has been therapeutic, this blogging business. It has helped me get back in touch with my inner child, my raved imagination and most importantly with myself. I am still a bit rusty. Like Dorothy‘s Tin Man, I’ve needed a spot of oil now and again to get those rusty brain cells working in a smoother fashion.

It has also allowed me to ‘vent my spleen’ about things that irritate me and it helps me to take strolls down memory lane.

I’ve also learned that reading other writer’s words of wisdom, wit, opinions and thoughts has opened up a plethora of worlds, cultures and ideology that I otherwise might never have known existed.

I have also learned that if I am writing about something factual, I have to do all the required research before I post the dog-gone thing.

There is one other thing that I’ve found, an almost invaluable tool that I am convinced not everyone uses. At least not as much as I do.

Spell-check.

The Amazing Spider-Man Returns…Again

With the 2002 release of Spider-Man with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst as ‘Spidey‘ and his love interest, I felt that Sam Raimi had done justice to Stan “The Man” Lee’s comic creation. Two more films quickly followed and a fourth was rumoured to be in the works.

Then, nothing.

The scuttlebutt was that differences of opinion between Maguire and Raimi was causing delays. It ended apparently with both sides leaving the ‘table’ and shelving Spider-Man 4 indefinitely.

Enter director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) with just the one feature film under his belt who was now going to helm the “new” Spider-man film.

With Toby Maguire admittedly being a bit long in the tooth to reprise Spidey at this late date, a search for a younger actor was launched.

Enter English actor Andrew Garfield, former gymnast and Spider-man fan. Good looking enough to set the ladies heart racing and athletic enough to do a lot of his own stunts.

With a new Spider-man, a new love interest was required. Kirsten Dunst was, like Toby, a bit old for the new, younger Spidey so they replaced her with the drool inducing Emma Stone. *Not as Mary Jane, but Peter Parker‘s first love in the Comic Verse,  Gwen Stacy.*

English: Emma Stone at the 2011 San Diego Comi...

The story line has been changed to allow a different take on the perils of Peter Parker. Deciding to focus on the ‘lack’ of Peter’s parents, it follows his journey to discover what his father did and who he was.

In a move that completely baffles me, actress Sally Field has been cast as Aunt May. Presumably because Cliff Robertson is no longer available, forever, they felt that a ‘name’ actor was required. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Sally Field, but I am having a hard time picturing The Flying Nun as Peter’s auntie. It also does not help that she doesn’t have the white librarian hair bun that May always sported in the comic.

They’ve also come up with a new villain. The Lizard  aka Dr. Curt Connors, who, I am pretty sure, does not exist in the comic book world of Stan Lee. But hey! Why not ‘make up’ a villain? You’ve already made up a dubious plot line for Spidey and friends.

**I have to stand corrected on the Lizard villain, he does indeed exist in the Spider-man verse, I just forgot him, quite understandable considering he was introduced in 1963 when I was five. I was not yet a Spider-man fan. Just goes to show there is a reason to do ALL your research.**

Stan Lee
Stan Lee (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

I know that a little detail like a non-existent search for Peter’s parents demise will not stop most of the targeted audience from attending in droves. It will be in the ‘new’ 3D, it will feature the ever beautiful Emma Stone and it will feature lots of web slinging, swinging, and splatting.

It looks to be witty (at least in the trailers it does) and very action packed. A perfect Blockbuster for the summer holidays. It opens here in the UK on the 3rd of July. I doubt I will be queuing up to see it.

I am slightly allergic to the demographic that will be in attendance and I really rather liked the ‘old’ Spider-Man. So I’ll most likely wait for the DVD. My Spidey-Sense is tingling and it’s telling me that, chances are, this might not be that great a film.

The Devils Rejects (2005): Zombie Western Horror

Rob Zombie wrote and directed this sequel to House of a 1000 Corpses. After the financial success of Corpses Lions Gate Entertainment were eager for Zombie to make another film.

Rob had an idea for a sequel while filming Corpses about the sheriff’s brother coming after the Firefly clan in an act of deadly revenge. With the idea in place Zombie began to craft The Devil’s Rejects  with the aim of making the film less comedic and more horrific.

Rob stated that he wanted it to feel a bit likeThe Wild Bunch , Bonnie and Clyde and Badlands. The influence of all three films can be seen in the final cut of Rejects.

The Devil’s Rejects opens with the Sheriff’s brother, Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe) surrounding the Firefly house with a posse of lawmen. After telling the besieged family to surrender or die a prolonged shoot-out ensues with every one in the house being shot to rag-doll ribbons.

Otis (Bill Mosely) and Baby (Sherri Moon Zombie) manage to escape, but Mother Firefly is captured by Wydell. Otis and Baby after murdering a nurse to steal her car hide out at a motel.

At the motel Baby starts flirting with Roy (Geoffrey Lewis) who part of a country music band and when they head back to Roy’s room, Otis shows up and they take the entire band hostage. What follows is the hardest part of the film to watch.

Gone are the comedic undertones that make Corpses so amusing. Otis and Baby have grown p as it were and they set upon the band member with vicious and horrific acts of violence. Otis rapes Roy’s wife Gloria (Priscilla Barnes) and later kills the two remaining men. He cuts one of their faces off and returns to the motel room with his victims face over his own.

The two contact their father Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) and they meet at the motel. After their reunion they all go to the Chicken Ranch, a brothel run by family friend Charlie Altamont (Ken Foree) and his lackey Clevon (Michael Berryman).

Sheriff Wydell has hired two bounty hunters to help track down the remaining Firefly family members, one of the bounty hunters is Danny Trejo, they catch up with them at the chicken ranch.

The cast list of The Devil’s Rejects reads like a horror-thon reunion. P.J. Soles, Michael Berryman,  and Kane Hodder all make appearances in the film.

With his second feature Rob Zombie has fine tuned his cinematic and horror skills. Focusing more on the evil side of the Firefly brood, he has toned down the hilarity that was present in his first film. He also gives the characters a chance to show who and what they really are.

The interaction between Baby, Otis and dad, Captain Spaulding is touching, funny and revealing. That this family unit is dysfunctional is obvious and just as apparent is their love (however strange) for one another.

Yet despite the more horrific nature of the film and it’s lead characters, we are fond of the backwater Dionysian family and when the film ends to the music of Lynyrd  Skynyrd’s Free Bird we are sad and a little touched.

Grave Encounters (2011): Great Start…Grave Finish

Grave Encounters

Written and directed by  The Vicious BrothersGrave Encounters  is their maiden voyage as it were into the film world. Using the obligatory horror genre as their entrance, I am sure that the idea worked really well in script and storyboard form.

I really wanted to like this film. The beginning of the film looked great. Hell, the “trailer” for the ‘ghost hunter’ team played beautifully. I wanted to make that program.

The film opens as a mock-u-mentary, we hear from a television executive how Lance Preston sent in a demo reel for consideration as a new ‘reality’ program. The excec states that he was before his time and that this type of tv program hadn’t taken off yet.

Everything looked great until episode six. We are going to see episode six. He stresses that this is not a movie. It is seventy-six hours of un-edited footage from Lance’s last ever show.

We then meet the crew of Lance’s “professionals” and we see them setting up the shots for episode six. We meet cameraman TC (Merwin Mondesir), Techno Geek Matt (Juan Riedinger), pouty assistant Sasha (Ashleigh Gryzko), Psychic Houston (Mackenzie Gray) and presenter/expert Lance (Sean Rogerson).

They are all there to investigate the creepy abandoned Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital. This place, according to local legend, has had scary stuff happen ever since it closed down. And shades of The House on Haunted Hill; the reason it was closed was a mad doctor was murdered by six of his patients.

The first thing we learn upon meeting these guys and gal are that they are new to this whole ‘ghost busting’ gig and that, so far at least, they haven’t seen any ghostly goings on. We also find out that Houston is about as psychic as my left big-toe. He is in fact just an actor.

*He also, through no fault of his own, provides for some of the ‘unintended” laughs. Every time someone said his name and the word problem together, I felt like I was watching an astronaut film –

Right up until everything goes completely Pete Tong I was with them. I liked how the film was progressing and was ready for the action to pick up.

Unfortunately when it did pick up, the players all lost their cool too quickly. It was like watching a high school theatre group do improv. Everyone wanted to panic and scream.

Incidentally, I wanted Sasha to die immediately. Nothing personal, but her scream was so irritating that the threat the ghosts posed seemed minimal compared to the ear damage her shrieking must have caused.

But before everything goes completely crazy (Did you see what I did there?) The group have had very little happen to them and they decide to call it a night. They are bored, tired and hungry. All this was good. I mean they had me right there and ready to ride the roller coaster of fear.

Like the celestial virgin, there I was all juiced up and ready to go, but my partner was suffering from a terminal case of brewer’s droop.

It is quite possible that this film was much scarier in the cinema where sound and darkness could play a big part in setting you up for the jump. It just felt like a lukewarm version of The Blair Witch Project.

To say I was disappointed, would be an understatement. Somebody must have liked the film, because on IMDb there is a Grave Encounters 2 set for release this year.

It was inevitable that the success of the Paranormal series, which owes it own beginnings to Blair Witch, would spawn imitations. The guerilla style of film-making seems to be on the rise and to be fair it has resulted in some great little films. Cloverfield to name but one.

But for the love of all that’s scary, get off the Blair Witch train. Okay?

Suffer the Little Children

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Most people, myself included, love looking at videos on the net about babies. YouTube is full of them. They all make you laugh or go “aww.”

They are almost as popular as the animal videos. You know the ones I mean. Cute kittens and cats and dogs and puppies. These also make you go “aww” or laugh.

There are even a few about the older ‘babies’ you know, toddlers and above. There are less of those but, some not all, are truly hilarious. A little girls states solemnly that if a monster comes in her house she will, “Kick his ask.” David Goes to the Dentist, are just two that spring to mind.

Real life however is not as endearing.

Folks who let their ‘little angels’ run riot all over the place are not amusing.

The little ones who feel it is their God given right to throw things into your garden. Sweet wrappers, balls, toys in various stages of dilapidation, plastic bags and anything else their little hands get hold of.

The same little ones also like noise. The louder the better. They also like repetitive noise; banging, screaming  (the exact same decibel level each and every time) and thundering through their house with reckless abandon.

“Kids will be kids” is the old adage that most parents trot out when little Junior or Missy commit an act of hooliganism.

HAH!

Like the obligatory old fart (I am in my fifties) I will also trot out the old faithful, “We had discipline when we were kids.” And we did. Our parents didn’t beat us with a hose-pipe or a wooden  two-by-four. They did give out the occasional belt ‘stropping’ and they did utilize the switch.

*I don’t know about your parents but I do know some who  had the nasty habit of making you pick out your own switch.*

We were taught not to intrude upon other people’s space. That space included their home, their garden and their personal space. My parents were very good about not believing in the old ‘children should be seen and not heard’ and were vigilante in the art of teaching us to be polite and respectful.

I know this all started in the Dr. Spock days of parenting. The days of, “If I discipline my children they won’t like me anymore.” This started in the 1970’s and it has gotten worse. It has created a generation, or two, of parents who will not take the responsibility of parenting.

These irresponsible parents are churning out babies and not helping them become ‘people’ or teaching them about encroaching on their fellow man. These babies are growing up to be thugs and hooligans and are filling our jails as juvenile delinquents.

I am not lumping every young person into this category. There are some who don’t do any of the things I’ve mentioned. To those upright and stalwart young citizens I offer a salute of gratitude.

To the rest, I want to offer a swift kick in the seat of the pants of their parents.