House Republican Claims Enough Votes to Impeach President Obama

House Republican Claims Enough Votes to Impeach President Obama

Getting Used to the Silence

My front garden (aka front yard)
My front garden (aka front yard)

Up until Friday the 26th of March this year, I was used to a (to me anyway) fairly full house. Then my daughter and her fella moved out of the house.

Now the house feels very empty…and quiet.

I’ve spent the past two days cleaning and washing and sorting the house until it looks fresh. It also looks empty. I decided this morning to take a few pictures and describe this silent location I live in. So tighten up your belts, the tour starts now.

The first thing you’ll see coming into my abode will be the front hallway –

My front hallway.
My front hallway.

Not too exciting by anyone’s standards but it is mine and it leads into the kitchen.

IMG_0067
See! I told you I’d been cleaning!

Then, if you turn around and go straight to your left you enter…The front room, aka sitting room.

My entertainment corner! Video games are mandatory.
My entertainment corner! Video games are mandatory.
My place of work...the downstairs one. Gloves for the heavy jobs only.
My place of work…the downstairs one. Gloves for the heavy jobs only.
My Stevie King collection, unfortunately a lot of them are in the attic due to lack of bookcases.
My Stevie King collection, unfortunately a lot of them are in the attic due to lack of bookcases.
My "remembrance" wall, The Twin towers skyline before 9/11 and my Gran Know way on the right.
My “remembrance” wall, The Twin towers skyline before 9/11 and my Gran Knox way on the right.

Then if you go up the stairs the first room you come to will be this one –

My third bedroom, cum spare room, cum office.
My third bedroom, cum spare room, cum office.

Then the very empty and too quiet second bedroom –

It's so empty! *sniff*
It’s so empty! *sniff*

And finally my last refuge at night, the master bedroom!

Complete with American "made in Missouri" quilt.
Complete with American “made in Missouri” quilt.

I’ve stopped the tour here. Why? Well because as the post title says “Getting Used to the Silence”  and that is a bit of a misnomer. I’ve discovered that since I have become the sole occupant of this house, that it makes one hell of a row at night. Especially at bedtime and especially just as I’m drifting off to sleep.

I don’t know how I never noticed it before. the house: creaks, pops, shuffles (I know, weird right), groans, snaps and makes a myriad of other sounds that defy description.

The end result of this cacophony of noise? Me jumping back awake every two minutes or so until I’ve convinced myself that, “Yes the downstairs doors were all locked and bolted. And yes, you are alone in the house!”

I personally blame the emptiness, and the pervading quiet that disarms me and is taking ages to get used to.

But honestly, it is allowing me to get on with my new-found work (I’m writing for Rogue Cinema and I’m now a part of the staff with owner/editor Duane L Martin and a bunch of other folks (including Misty Layne from Cinema Schninema).

I’m also signing on with Tomorrow Comes Media to participate in their author’s tour programme as well as writing my own blog and trying to write my first book (along with creating more short stories for a collection).

On top of that, I’m still watching films and excitedly awaiting the shooting date of Once Bitten, Twice Shy written, directed and produced by the super talented Natasha Harmer.

My cup truly “runneth over.”

So I’m trying to get used to the silence (except at night) and working on a schedule that will allow me to do everything and get to spend some quality me-time in my back garden.

We've got the sun, now we just need some warmth!
We’ve got the sun, now we just need some warmth!

The House Next Door (1978): Architectural Southern Horror

The House Next Door (film)
The House Next Door (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I will admit up front that if Stephen King had not written about The House Next Door in his own book Danse Macabre, I would have never heard of Ann Rivers Siddons let alone read her book.

King’s Danse Macabre was a look at horror as a medium in radio, film, television and literature. Before I go into Siddons book, I’d like to recommend that you have a peek at Danse Macabre (or hell, why not go all out and read the whole book). You might just find that he writes about some old friends or, like my own experience with the book, make some new ones.

Ann Rivers Siddons was born in the south and she still lives there. She writes southern based literature and does so very well. She does not write horror novels and except for The House Next Door she hasn’t visited the area of Southern Gothic stories.

The House Next Door is set in a modern day southern suburban neighbourhood. The books main protagonist is Colquitt Kennedy and although she is later joined by husband Walter, she alone is the one who recognises the threat that the house poses.

Coquitt and Walter are a childless couple who are rapidly approaching that time of life that is referred to as middle age. They are happy with their lives and do not miss having children. The Kennedy’s are the very picture of mediocrity. She has a part-time job and maintains her house, garden and pets equally. She is the more social of the married couple and she is to a degree, vain,  superficial and unchallenged by life.

The Kennedy’s live next to a  lot that has been, for years, vacant because building a house there would not only be difficult but expensive. The lot is wooded and too ‘wild’ to be turned into a building plot.

That changes with the arrival of architect Kim Dougherty. A charming and brilliant young man who has developed house plans for the plot next door for a young up and coming couple, the Harrellson’s. After initially feeling annoyance that they hadn’t bought the empty lot sooner, Colquitt and Walter warm to the young architect and they visit with him while the house is being built.

When the house is finished it is breath-taking to look at. It looks as though “it is literally growing out of the ground.” The Harralson’s move in and thus begins the first of several inhabitants of the house paying a horrific price for living in it.

The story is broken down into three families and the destruction of each when they move into the house. Colquitt and Walter become unwilling witnesses to the house and the way it destroys those drawn to it. Even the architect Kim is not safe from his creation.

The families are the Harralsons, the Sheehans and the Greens. Each family pays a higher price than the preceding family. It’s almost as if the house has developed an appetite for bloodshed, pain and death.

Colquitt and Walter finally decide that they must do something about the house next door and as a result become social pariahs in their own neighbourhood.  They then realise that the action they will have to take must be and drastic and final.

Siddons writes a haunted house tale that will grip you and make you want to discuss it with everyone. It  is a book that clings to your memory like day old custard. It amazes me that she hit the ‘horror ball’ right out of the park with her first horror novel. She knows her territory and the folks who fill it all too well.

Being born and raised, for the most part, in the south I felt that Siddons picture of life in southern suburbia was spot on. I also felt as though I had known most of the people that she wrote about.

Thankfully, I’ve never known a house like The House Next Door and hopefully I never will.

Brother (2000): LA Yakuza

Cover of "Brother"

Written, directed and edited by Takeshi Kitano, Brother opened to mixed reviews. Filmed in Los Angeles it was Takeshi’s first and last  attempt at breaking into the American film market. Kitano also stars in the film (as Beat Takeshi).

The film has a fine array of actors in it. Omar Epps (perhaps better known to audiences for his work on the TV program House), Ryo Ishibashi (Audition, Suicide ClubThe Grudge 2), and the usual array of Kitano regulars – Ren Ohsugi  and Susumu Terajima just to name two.

Brother is another variation of Kitano’s many films that deal with the Yakuza. This theme is prevalent in almost all his films. Most of the character’s he portrays in his films are violent, individualistic and yet still childlike. Almost all the Yakuza characters he portrays die by the end of the film.

In Brother Kitano plays Aniki Yamamoto an enforcement officer of a Yakuza gang. When his boss is killed by a rival gang, Yamamoto must merge with the new gang or die. He chooses to exile himself rather than join the gang who killed his boss. As a going away present his old gang sets him up with a forged identity and a gym bag full of money.

He travels to Los Angeles to live with his half-brother Ken (Claude Maki). On the way he bumps into Denny (Omar Epps) one of Ken’s gang members causing Denny to drop a bottle of wine. While Denny is winding himself up to attack Aniki, he picks up the broken bottle and stabs Denny in the face with it. He then punches Denny in the stomach and leaves him lying on the side walk.

When Yamamoto findly finds Ken he also finds out that Denny is his brother’s best friend. In a very short time, Denny becomes friends with Aniki and the two are practically inseparable. Throughout the film Denny and Aniki gamble against each other, with Aniki cheating where ever he can to win. They begin to bond even more.

Ken is pretty small potatoes in LA and after he has an altercation with a rival gang.  Aniki sets out to help him broaden the gang’s horizons. After Aniki single handedly kills every member of the rival gang,  they all hole up at Ken’s place expecting a reprisal from the other gang’s partners.

While they are waiting for retribution one of Aniki’s old Yakuza gang members and friend Kato (Susumu Terajima) shows up at Ken’s door  and gets a gun butt to the head from Aniki who was  expecting someone else.  Aniki tells the now prostrate Kato, “I’m at war in America too.” With Kato’s help Aniki sets in motion  plans for their little gang to grow.

Ken and his fellow gang members learn that Aniki and Kato are extremely ruthless and violent men who treat death like a joke. With Yamamoto staking out new turf for the gang to take over, and merging with other Asian gangs, Ken, Kato and Aniki become too powerful for the Mafia to ignore.

The gang become so powerful that they have an entire building for their headquarters with the top floor as the main office complete with an indoor basketball hoop. They have their own accountant and solicitor and are trying to branch out even further.

When the Mafia decide the gang has gotten too big, they start killing gang members off one at a time.

Brother is violent, the body count by the end of the film is seventy-eight. But for all it’s bloodshed, it is filled with the typical  Takeshi Kitano trademark  humour and his character’s childlike delight at the pathos he causes. Although this is not considered by many, including Takeshi himself, to be one of his better films, it is still worth watching.

Venice Film Festival-winning film director Tak...

And if you’ve never seen any of his films before, Brother is a good introduction to ‘Beat Takeshi’ and his films.

The Haunted House

Haunted House
Haunted House (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)
Summers when I was a kid were fantastic. The greatest thing about summer was the obligatory three months away from school. The second greatest thing was that because it was three whole months, summer seemed to last forever. I split my time away from school between working for my Dad and meeting with my friends. I also got to see a lot more of my two female cousins.
My cousins and I had a close relationship. My oldest cousin was about two years older than me and her sister about a year older. When we were together we acted more like brother and sisters than cousins. Things were different back then. When we were younger and one of us got a Doctor’s kit for a present, we immediately played Doctor. Of course our version was like that old Bob Hope  gag. We diagnosed each other with exotic illnesses and then sued each other for malpractice.  Those were the days.
One summer when I was about twelve or thirteen I had my then best friend Peter over. *note: Peter was not his name, but as I don’t know where he is now to get permission to write about him, Peter will do just fine*  His father was a local preacher. Peter at that time had no intention of following in his father’s footsteps. Not surprising as most kids of twelve or thirteen don’t know what they want to do when they grow up. I was showing off my new CO2 gas powered BB pistol that could also shoot pellets. Pretty cool all right, except for the fact that when you shot pellets it was a ‘one-at-a-time’ affair that could be a bit laborious.
It was while we were doing a bit of target practise that my two cousins showed up. They were actually there to visit our Grandmother who lived right next door to us and the town school. Introductions were made and we started talking about different things when Peter asked if we had heard about the haunted house.
Our interest peaked, we all said no, we hadn’t heard of it. Where was it? “Not too far from here.” My cousins and I were delighted to hear this. It meant we could go see it quite easily. “Yeah,” Peter continued,”You just go down to the end of the road, turn right and go down to the end of that road.  When you get to the stop sign, look straight ahead and you’ll see the house. You guys know where I mean?”
I did. It was “catty corner” across the road from where my biggest crush lived. She had black hair, cornflower blue eyes and a slight dusting of freckles across her nose.  She also had a figure. Where most girls her age had the build of a ten year old boy, she was different. I was ecstatic. I hoped that we might just bump into her when we went to the haunted house.
My oldest cousin, being the older smarter member of the group, asked how Peter knew it was haunted. Peter grinned confidently. “It’s haunted because the owner died in his “easy” chair while he was watching T.V. and nobody found him for days! They say if you are really quiet you can hear him having the heart attack that killed him!” We were suitably impressed by this information. We all decided to immediately go down to the house and check it out.
You could see the house as soon as you turned the corner. At the end of the road was a ‘T’ junction. The house was right in front of the ‘T’. It was a two story clap board house that someone had painted a horrible shade of yellow. It was surrounded by brush, black oak trees and junk. As we approached the house, I shot a quick glance over to my crush’s house. No one seemed to be at home.
We all entered the house via a broken  back window. In a hushed tone Peter explained that a lot of the furniture was still in the house. Apparently, the owner had no relatives to sort out his affairs, so most of it was just falling to ruin. Inside the house was like a sauna. As we moved through it, we noticed that there was no air circulation at all, despite most of the windows being smashed. It was so quiet that even though we were “tip-toeing” every move we made sounded like a gunshot.
The “easy” chair was still there. You could see the stains left by the owners decaying body. It seemed that Peter was telling the truth about the amount of time it took for folks to find the poor sod. There was also a horrendous smell in the still air. It made me think of rotten tomatoes. It also made all of us gag. On the wall next to the ‘easy’ chair was a doorway into a closet. The owner had put a sheet up over it in place of a door. As we looked at the sheet in that still house, it suddenly began to move. It looked as though the closet was trying to breathe.
In. Out. In. Out. As the sheet started to go in for the third time we were galvanized into action. All four of us ran out of there as fast as we could. We did not stop running until we got back to my house. Overheated by our stampede from the house we shakily laughed at our scary adventure. After catching their breath my cousins then went to my Gran’s house and Peter and I went back to our target practice.
Peter then decided that he should stay over at my house. The idea was that when it got dark we would go back to the haunted house. Peter did stay over, but, we never did go back to the house. Why? Well, just as it got dark the empty field across from my house suddenly had a tall white shape in it. We were on my front porch when I saw it. “What is that?” Peter looked across at the field and said, “I don’t know. But it’s moving toward us!” We both flew back into my house, closed and locked the front door and stood peering out of the big picture window in the front room.
The white shape looked man-sized. It moved back and forth. Sometimes it would  come up to the edge of fence near the street light in front of my house. Peter and I were terrified. We were convinced that the dead owner had followed us to my house and was now trying to figure out how to get past the street light to get us.
Peter and I stayed up all night.
When the sun came up, we decided to go down to the local cafe for breakfast. After eating the “special” Peter went to his house and I went home to tell my Mom about the ghost. I told her about the haunted house and the white shape across the road in the empty field.
My mother suddenly broke out into gales of laughter. I couldn’t quite see the humour in it myself. Her eyes streaming with tears, she then explained about our neighbour who owned the field across from us. It seems that the day we went to explore the  haunted house, they had bought a white horse and put it in the field.
For years my Mother  would break into hysterical laughter every time she told the story of how Peter and I were haunted all night long by a white horse.