Adventure in Imagination Station

Lately I’ve felt sick with adventurous longing, which has been manifesting itself as crying. I never expect it. I can’t prepare myself for it. Some days I’m completely fine, and then it happens.

It happens when I see the sun reflect in just a certain way along a puddle in the grass. It sparks this part of my imagination, the part that it did when I was tiny. Recess brain. And I feel it. I physically feel it. I just think, “What is it I’ve been doing? How could I forget? How do I get it back?” Like nostalgia, but it’s not just memories. It’s like something I once knew, but now can’t remember. Like it’s just out of my reach. Like I should be 7, and that puddle is an unswimmable lake, and it’s up to me to cross it. Like I need to be in it. To save us all. Like I should be in the woods. Deep and lost. Adventuring. To save or be saved.
When it hits, I can’t even say words out loud. I think I should, but I can’t. I even some times try, but it’s like the Gentlemen have come and taken away my voice. Or Ursula, if you prefer, but it probably is closer to the Gentlemen, because I didn’t volunteer for this.
I wish I had friends who would be 8 with me. I remember when I was maybe 10, 10 seems right. All of the other girls, the “cool” girls stopped playing.

At recess they just stood in circles talking. Like the Ashleys.

If you played, particularly with your imagination, you were weird. It’d be one thing if you were playing kickball, ya know for the attention of a boy, or because you just didn’t know how to be a girl, which was more often what you were accused of. But to play Ghostwriter at 10 (not just because it cancelled when we’re 8, or because The New Ghostwriter Mysteries suuucked). To play Narnia at 10. To have to fight monsters at 10, as a girl, made you a weirdo. And I was a weirdo. I was a damn weirdo. I still am, but I also wanted to have friends. So I stopped. I stopped before I wanted to. I stopped before I should have.

Like so many other things it feels like a piece of my childhood was taken away from me. So many things get taken. Taken isn’t fair. In this case I sacrificed it. I burned it on the alter of cool, and still I wasn’t. The ash and smoke of my imagination in my eyes and hair. Wafting up to the gods of cool, but never accepted.

So weird still, in fact, that I was asked to distract someone else, who by all cool girl standards, was not weird. I always thought she was cool. I didn’t get that that was their way to keep us away from them. But I will always love that that joke backfired. Sure, they got what they wanted, but we each gained a best friend. She got weirder. I grew more normal. We wrote stupid songs that we sang constantly. Some that I still do. Maybe we didn’t play the way I wanted to, but we wander. We wandered our respective neighborhoods and woods. We spent whole weeks of spring break together, not going anywhere, but the other’s home.

I still pine for someone to take my hand at the sound of a strange noise and make an elaborate tale of what that might be. To wander the woods with me looking for clues, clues to the mystery we haven’t yet discovered. A fleck of paint on the tree is a clue. It’s not a trail marker like you think. It’s a warning. It’s a cry for help. It’s someone that needs saving.

Maybe that’s what it all falls back on. I can’t save people. I’ve tried. I can help. I wanted to “save” the other girls from [redacted]. I wanted to save myself from the shame of being odd. Because deep down, I still wanted to rescue people. From their captors. From the monsters. From themselves. My imagination needs saved. It’s trapped in a loop, and I can’t get it out to roam free. It’s spinning. I feel it spinning, but it’s stuck. I’m stuck.

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Adventure in Lists, Day 3

This will face some contention. This will not be well-received.

My top ten favorite episodes of Buffy.

10. Selfless (season 7 episode 5)

“I don’t talk to people much. I mean, I talk to them, but they don’t talk to me, except to say that, ‘your questions are irksome,’ and, ‘perhaps you should take your furs and your literal interpretations to the other side of the river.'”

(There’s going to be a staggering number of episodes rep seasons 6 and 7. It surprised me too.)

I love this episode because it gives us so many pieces of Anya. It fills in holes, but doesn’t answer every question. If anything, it makes me hurt more for Anya than it does make me love her more. (Though it does that too)

9. Halloween (season 2 episode 6)

“They don’t know who they are, everyone’s turned into a monster, it’s a whole big thing. How are you?”

Halloween is important because it’s the turning point. Halloween is the episode that I have to urge people to get to. It’s the game-changer. Halloween is when the show becomes good and not nearly as campy.

8. Conversations with Dead People (season 7 episode 7)

“Of course I’m scared. Last time we were here, 33.3 bar percent of us were flayed alive.”

For some reason episodes where people talk to dead people really touch my soul. It happens in an episode of Scrubs too, and I just overlook the fact that it’s Brendan Frasier. I think it speaks to something in us that still pines for those we’ve lost, even if we aren’t talking to someone we knew.

7. The Gift (season 5 episode 22)

“Blood is life, lack-brain. Why do you think we eat it? It’s what keeps you going. Makes you warm. Makes you hard. Makes you other than dead.”

The intended finality. The sacrifice. The brokenness across the board. Obviously this episode is powerful, but I think this moment is one of the most.
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6. A New Man (season 4 episode 12)

“You know what gets me? This is what gets me. Twenty years I’ve been fighting demons. Maggie Walsh and her nancy ninja boys come in; six months later, the demons are pissing themselves with fear. They never even noticed me.”

Honestly, there just might not be enough Giles-centric stories. In the wake of losing his job and his slayer going away to college he also gets turned into a demon by that dumb Ethan Rayne. Giles’ reliance on Spike is a huge draw for this episode, and him goofily terrorizing Professor Walsh. More that, please.

5. Normal Again (season 6 episode 17)

Buffy: I was only there a couple of weeks. I stopped talking about it so they let me go. And eventually, my parents just…forgot.
Willow: God. That’s horrible.
Buffy: What if I never left? What if I’m still in that clinic?

Some times brains break. Some times brains are forced into breaking. No matter how it happens, it’s always horrifying, even if you are the slayer.

4. Grave (season 6 episode 22)

“Is this the master plan? You’re gonna stop me by telling me you love me?”

Sue me. I love a good, overwhelming story of pure friendship. Sure, Will and Xander have had their moments, but ultimately they remain best friends. Even when Willow goes completely wiggy and seemingly over the line.

3. Band Candy (season 3 episode 6)

“Screw you. I want candy.”

Because teenage Giles. Because for some reason Ethan Rayne is in three of these episodes. Guess I like his monsters of the week.

2. Hush (season 4 episode 10)

“Can’t even shout, can’t even cry
The gentlemen are coming by
Looking in windows, knocking on doors
They need to take seven and they might take yours
Can’t call to mom, Can’t say a word
You’re gonna die screaming but you won’t be heard.”

Outside of Doug Jones being amazing and the Gentlemen being horrifying. (Out horrifying the Silence, Doctor Who) the genius of a silent episode.

1. The Body (season 5 episode 16)

“I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she’s- There’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she just can’t get back in it and not be dead anymore. It’s stupid. It’s mortal and stupid. And-and Xander’s crying and not talking, and-and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch ever, and she’ll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.”

Mostly. That quote is why, but then look at the fact that all underscoring is gone. You’re stuck, YOU, with your own thoughts and ambient noise, just like the cast. It’s brutal and hard and perfect.

Honorable mentions:
Gingerbread (season 3 episode 11) this one almost made the cut, because of the power of persuasion.

Once More with Feeling (season 6 episode 7) mostly, I feel like I have to have it on my list, and while I love it I hate social obligation more.

Restless (season 4 episode 22) seasons 4 is sort of a wash of worth it gets too heavy in places it shouldn’t. But I love this episode for just being silly. Not entirely, but it’s not a real threat and the cheese.

Adventure in Lists

Over the course of 26 months my dear friend Brett Jenkins-Braun has challenged our friend Erica Anderson-Senter and I to join her in 26 30-Day Challenges. For the month of September it’s 30 Solid Days of Lists. I was going to explore my first list with my list of lists I’d be making, but I love lists too much. So here we go. List one. Is TOO COMPLICATED!! So probably several different lists for this one list topic.
Favorite TV shows. Top ten TV shows? Best sci-fi/supernatural shows? Best dramas? Guys! I could do lists of types of TV shows I like. That’s. I have a problem. Ok.
I have to do them in no order at all or I’ll die.
My favorite shows first, the ones u watch time and time again. Habitually. ritualistically:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
X-Files
Gilmore Girls
30 Rock
Freaks and Geeks
Firefly
Black Books
Doctor Who
The Cosby Show
Dawson’s Creek

It’s actually a pretty terrible first list. I won’t apologize for that.

Adventure in Redemption Tales

They’re remarkable. They’re the most beautiful stories that exist to tell. Stories that take completely hideous, shattered pieces and put them back together even better than before. It’s beautiful. More over, they’re important. No. They’re essential.

I have a few favorite redemption stories.

Severus Snape: Harry Potter.

snape

We go on a journey with Snape for 7 books. Arguably, Snape’s story in the series is just as important, if not more. The thing that saves Harry in the first place is love, and the thing that gets him through every year is love. Snape makes some pretty horrible life decisions, following the Dark Lord being a key one. And honestly, Snape is redeemed the moment he turns to Dumbledore for help, but we don’t see that until the end of his life. We see the actions of a man so ravaged by heartache he won’t or can’t let us see beyond that. And in a few tears we learn the truth about Snape. That his redemption came with great pain, as all redemptions do. A lot of Snape’s was self-inflicted. Most of it. Grace is a terribly hard thing to accept. Dumbledore offered it to him, but Snape chose to hide his true intentions. I won’t get into why that too is selfishness, but to some degree that choice took away the pride of it. I can’t say this enough. Grace is a terrible hard thing to accept. Wizard or not.

Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader: Star Wars

vader

Regardless of your opinions on episodes 1 through 3, what you’re looking at is a six movie series about one story. One. Story. The fall and redemption of one man. Innocent kid. Noble ambitions, and then. Guys, darkness is so tempting. It’s so, so tempting to just give in. To want power. To crave accolades. I get it. I really do, and then once you’re in that mess it’s even harder to get out of it. An addiction, to anything, is always with you, and it rested with little Anakin until the end of his life. Until he made one final push in his last moments and sought redemption. Darkness is so tempting.

William the Bloody/Spike: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

spike

Spike is a monster. I mean that literally. Spike is a vampire, who spends centuries killing people. And like Anakin he started out a sweet guy. Just taking care of his mom, writing horrible poems, being the butt of all of the jokes. He kills not one, but two slayers. He spends the better part of 7 seasons trying to kill Buffy too. At the end of season 6 Spike snaps. He tries to rape Buffy, and when he realizes what he’s done he leaves. Seemingly forever. He goes through a series of trials, cleansings, for one purpose. Vamps don’t have souls. Well, now two do. Angel and Spike. And Spike paid for his. When it was back, it ate him from the inside. Because knowing the truth makes the whole world a lot harder to take. Ultimately, Spike’s soul saved us all. Knowing the truth makes the whole world a lot harder to take.

Edmund Pevensie: The Chronicles of Narnia

edmund

This one is my favorite. Edmund did not start out a sweet kid. At all. He was a brat and a bully. He deliberately betrayed his family. Not like “hm, ok this is fine.” No. Edmund was all “yeah. they’re dumb. I can be king. I’m outtie, and they’re done.” (Pretty sure that’s a direct quote). Ya know what’s worse about Edmund? He knows. Even as things get worse, he knows. AND he knows how he could get out of it. BUT HE DOESN’T DO IT!! He just keeps on saying “yeah, no thanks. Ol’ Pete’s a know-it-all and Susan is a snot and Lucy is funny looking. I’m not gonna deal with them anymore.” And Edmund is STILL welcomed back into the fold, AND his king says “yeah, you’re supposed to die. I’ll take care of it.” Which Edmund assumes means negotiate. Oh Aslan negotiated. He negotiated himself right onto that stone table for ONE kid. One punk-ass kid. One punk-ass kid who grew up to be a kind king and a grateful and wise man.

In 1999 on the floor of a huge room of a lodge on a winter retreat, curled up in a ball next to Katelyn Knuth, Hayley Johnson was also redeemed. She continued to make horrible mistakes. She continues to make horrible mistakes. And every day she struggles to look at the world and live in it knowing the truth. Why even bother staying knowing it’s only going to get darker here and there’s light she can live in? Darkness is so tempting. Every day darkness is tempting. And some times she gives into it. Every day, every hour is a struggle to accept grace. But without it she’d be lost. Without it she’d be dead. Without I am lost. Without I’d be dead.

Adventure in Probing Questions

It’s been a good long while since I’ve felt compelled to write anything. At all. To anyone. Life is very defeating, and to say I’m struggling would be an understatement. But things are on the up, or at least more manageable, and I’ll be fine. I’d been itching all day to find the best possible words to express my current situation. Decidedly, I won’t address it at all.

Instead

Today to prove a point my friend Hannah asked me a very probing question. I took it far more seriously than she needed me to. More importantly I took it far more seriously than anyone should have, which naturally meant you deserved to learn my over-analyzed answer.

The question (so to speak):
Name the top 5 (later extended to 10) TV shows you think everyone should watch.

Here in my humble opinion are the top 10, in no real order, that I think everyone should watch.

Buffy:
Buffy-the-vampire-slayer-season-1-promo-hq-03-1500
To be a better friend. To see that at all odds so often it is friendship and the sacrifice for it that makes us better people. That good friends, when we’ve truly found them, can help save us from ourselves.
X-Files (through season 7):
xfiles
To encourage us to continue questioning everything. Even things that seem completely sound can’t hurt from a second look. To encourage faith in what seems most improbable.
Cheers:
cheers
To cope. To better understand why comedy is important. How it is so important to help us deal with pain. To see how regular people, average people, are just as important as pretty people. Because some times you really do just want to go where everybody knows your name and where the troubles are all the same.
M*A*S*H:
mash
To further and more clearly understand comedy in pain. How the hardest moments and time bring some of the most unlikely people together. And why the friendships built in life’s hardest times are so easily our most valuable.
*clearly there’s a theme in my head*
Sesame Street:
sesamestreet_tvsked
To learn any and all of life’s most important things. Academic and personal. Racism. Death. Friendship. Sharing. Counting. Reading. Writing. Colors. Jokes
Seinfeld:
Seinfeld-Cast-seinfeld-43506_1024_853
To keep one grounded from thinking that life must be so dramatic. To understand that some times life is enough.
Friends:
friends
For obvious reasons, but cautiously for the overly dramatic reasons. To remind that some people come and go, but there are some who are constant.
I Love Lucy:
I-love-lucy
For a clear picture of growth in the modern marriage. To see that women are as capable as men, even when no one believed they were
The Cosby Show:
cosby
Because all families are families, and it’s important for all of us to remember all angles. (See also: Family Matters)
Frasier:
frasier
Because minor characters have value on their own. If you don’t know, Frasier is a spin-off of Cheers. Frasier’s role on Cheers was not enormous, but grew over time. In many circles his series is better received. (See also: Family Matters)
I want go further, though I could.

Adventure in Con

haycation(Thank you again to my friend Amber Sturgis who made me this beautiful thing)

After much effort I squirreled away four days for the weekend. Four days for one big reasons. Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, colloquially known as C2E2.

Let’s start at go.

After a sleepless night I drove to Waterloo to wait for the train, which was, as it always is, delayed.

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I boarded the much delayed train from Waterloo to Chicago a little after 8 in the morning and effortlessly made it into the city.

Passing by the Elkhart train station, a station too cute for my own good.photo (48) photo (50)

Finally, I slowly rolled into the city and made my way, much more gracefully than my last trip, to Jenn, Courtney, Kyle, Steve, and Keeley’s. Oh Larry’s. Did I mention Larry?

photo (47)My first night there I stayed up late with friends catching up, but not in the these 20 things are the things I rattle off way. In the way that you pick up and start right where you left off the last time, which is the most beautiful way.

The next morning I got dressed in my finest and headed to C2E2. Flawlessly.

photo (46)The first two beautiful costumes I saw were these two very tall men, seemingly father and son. One was dressed as Peter Davison as the Doctor, the other was dressed as David Tennant as the Doctor, with amazing detail. I wandered. I wandered and wandered with Erica and Heather. We skipped our panels to see a shadowcast of Once More With Feeling, which no matter who you’re talking to always gets called “Buffy: The Musical.” Within the first two minutes you could see the whole audience shift their gaze from the stage to the screen, because they were dreadful. But the show can’t fail. We all know that.

While waiting for the dreadfulness to start I did see this Doctor Who love fest below us. It was actually really cool. Tens and Roses all in one big group hug. About 15 people getting their picture taken together. I saw it from this angle, and the longer I stared, the more I saw this unfold.

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It’s already more beautiful.photo (43)

But this picture. This one right here. That Doctor in the corner. He’s on his knees talking to a little boy. On his knees at eye level with that boy. Because that boy is a person too, and he wouldn’t talk down to him.photo (39)

Just like this. 

These are them. There were even more, but look at all of those Doctors. Would ya just look at ’em. (Photo credit: bacon_pancakez)
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This was probably the best Tennant Doctor I saw, and also the most HORRIFYING Rose. (photo credit: cdgo77)photo (17) This is the Doctor who was down on his knees. (Photo credit: katesemily)photo (18)

Honestly, I’m not sure what else we did on Friday.

But when we did leave I made my way to dinner with Headset, for our first reunion in two years.

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Dinner was surprisingly not what I thought it’d be. I suppose that’s not surprising. It was just tricky. It was loud. It was distracting. It was still good to be back in the arms of friends. It was just different than I thought it would be. But I suppose it’s been six years since we were all in school together. It would have to be different. Nonetheless, we did eventually get back to business as usual.

photo (33) photo (34)This would be the result of the above photo. We’re clapping and laughing at a job well done. photo (32)

The next day I almost missed my panel on writing for television, and after the guy who was directing the panel asked if anyone had a question on one specific thing, about 10 minutes in, we went down a terrible path of “What’s your favorite episode of NCIS that you wrote?” He never got to what he wanted to talk about, so I left 45 minutes into it. And made my way to the Patton Oswalt Q&A.  I skipped my panel on Fierce Females in Television. And after we were snarked by a turdknobbler in line for the Supernatural Fans panel, we opted to skip it. And I opted out of the Peter Davison Q&A the more I thought about how late it would go. But as we left the Supernatural line I did realize that the 400 or so people in line for whatever it was were probably in line for that Q&A, which meant that the line to meet Peter Davison would be nothing. It was nothing. I walked right up to him. photo (29) photo (28) photo (22)That was the end of the my time at C2E2. It was best to go out with a bang. But here are some more highlights. Some AMAZING costumes.

These are the two wonderful men who were also dressed as Five and Ten on Friday.
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photo (16) photo (21) photo (27) photo (24)This remote control R2-D2 beep boop beep boop booped all over the convention. He was incredible.
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I left the convention and made my way to Patrick and Pose’s for some time with more friends. Much needed laughs.

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Sunday I laid around the apartment with Courtney for a while, mostly because I realized too little too late there was a panel with the author of My Friend Dahmer. But it was good to just be around Courtney.

That afternoon Hannah picked me up and we went on a romantic stroll on the beach. The fog was pouring in off the lake. It was haunting. We just kept waiting for a g-g-g-ghost.

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Hannah wanted a romantic feet picture. But she thought this particular patch of sand was dirty. I reminded her that sand is dirt. She called me a douche. (photo credit for the next four photos: Hannah)photo (61)

Then I tried to lick the lake to make sure it wasn’t the ocean. This was never confirmed.photo (60)For the record I’m not laying hands on the beach.
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We finished the day we always do before I have to board that train home. Making fun of each other and driving around the city. I some times forget what it’s like to be around people who push me and still keep me from falling. But the minute I’m around them again, I’m overcome with what I can only assume is happiness. I think that’s what that is. It must be.

As that final push right before the train station, we passed this. This one last blow to my heart. Through the cackles of reciting John Mulaney jokes and laughing at each other, we passed this. This one thing that I think I’ll always be shooting for.photo (19)

Adventure in Hauntober 5: Let’s get weird

This is a group of movies that you can probably get away with watching in October, and people won’t think you’re deranged. Just a little creepy, but totally great.

The ‘Burbs (1989):
This is one of my all-time favorite movies of all time. That’s right. I love it so much it makes me repetative. Tom Hanks and his neighbors take begin to suspect something suspicious and perhaps murderous is going on at the Kolfak’s house. While his wife, Carrie Fisher, is away the boys get right to work on spying and problem causing.

 

Addams Family Values (1993):
The television classic comes to life again in this sequel. Personally, this is my favorite of the three Addams Family movies. Joan Cusack plays a serial killer who marries Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd). Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley are away at a miserably cheerful summer camp, while Gomez (Raul Julia) and Morticia (Anjelica Huston) are trying to figure out what’s wrong with Uncle Fester.

 

Rear Window (1954):
In the same way that Dial M for Murder is unsettling because she’s stuck in her room, so Rear Window is unsettling because Jimmy Stewart is stuck in a wheelchair. Even worse his only companion is Grace Kelly who was an invalid herself in the aforementioned. As things get more and more suspicious and foul play is suspected the music gets faster and the lighting grows dim and you know what that means!

 

Coraline (2009):
In this Neil Gaiman graphic novel adaptation Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning) isn’t quite loving her new house without her friends, the weird neighbors or how neglected by her parents she feels. So when she finds a key that opens a secret door into a parallel world she thinks she’s really made it. Until the other mother wants her to stay. Forever. In a land of eyes made of buttons. Everything is perfect until it is absolutely NOT.

 

Corpse Bride (2005):
Victor and Victoria are not quite sure about their betrothal until they meet. Victor still has the jitters and goes to the woods to practice his vows only to accidentally marry a dead lady. Whoops! (Be gracious. We’ve all done it.) And now he has to decide whether he wants to be dead and married or married til death.

 

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985):
Pee-Wee comes to the big screen in search of his stolen bike. His perfect bike. He’s on a cross country adventure to find it. And Dottie isn’t invited, because he’s a loner, a rebel. Brace for Large Marge. That’s all I can say.

 

Black Swan (2010):
Natalie Portman stars as the Black and White Swans in this psychological thriller. The backdrop is ballerinas putting on Swan Lake. The movie is Swan Lake. If you know the story of the ballet, or have even so much as seen the Swan Princess, and understand the way Greek choruses work then you’ll get a chance to see the ballet without having to watch the whole thing.

 

Bug (2006):
Michael Shannon reprises his stage role in this play turned movie. An Army vet is on the run from the government and makes friends with a lonely and abused woman (Ashley Judd). When her ex-boyfriend (Harry Connick Jr.) is released from prison she’s afraid and welcomes Shannon’s company. But her friends quickly become concerned when the couples convinces themselves that they have aphids in their flesh and start mutilating themselves to get rid of these government plants.

 

The Dark Crystal (1982):
Jim Henson offers something different than his typical muppets, mostly to show off just what he is capable of, and that capability is a beautiful thing. The last two Gelflings seek the dark crystal to restore the Skeksis and the Mystics to their natural state, together. It’s a little like that episode of Buffy (The Replacement) in which Xander is split in two: One half his best qualities and one half his worst. Both Xander.

 

Ghostbusters (1984):
You thought I forgot it, didn’t you? Please, I’m no fool. As a rule, if there’s something strange in your neighborhood, call Bill Murray. If there’s something normal in your neighborhood, and you have Bill Murray’s number, you should call him then too. Also, if you have Bill Murray’s number, I’d really appreciate it. Or Dan Aykroyd.

 

Mystery Men (1999):
Alright, I admit I’ve picked this one because of all of the costumes. But this movie is probably in my top 50 favorite movies of all time. It might be high on the list; it might not. The point is it’s wonderful. If you’re the type of person who loves quoting movies, than this is for you. If you’re the type of person who loves Kel Mitchell, then this is for you. If you like watching Dane Cook get rejected, then go watch it. Just…just do it. Hank Azaria, William H. Macy, Ben Stiller, Jeneane Garofalo, Paul Reubens, Kel Mitchell, Greg Kinear, Geoffrey Rush, Eddie Izzard. Red Eyes, Red Eyes, Red Eyes, I was expecting to see you again so SPOON.

 

Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975):
Meatloaf, guys. Meatloaf. The guy who wrote it stars in it and then was never in anything ever again, because this is so weird. If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing I’m including an alternative for you. But if nothing else it’s worth it for all that Tim Curry goodness. Also, watching this alone in your house is actually probably weirder than watching it with a horde of people dressed in drag.

Your alternative:

 

Sleepy Hollow (1999):
Johnny Depp plays Ichabod Crane in this retelling of the Washington Irving story. With Christina Ricci as his plucky girl companion and a young boy assistant Crane has rid himself of “schoolteacher” and become a pathologist with all sorts of crazy new forensic ideas. Meanwhile, Christopher Walken (the horsemen) is tromping around stealing heads, but who is controlling him? Spoilers: It’s not me.

Adventure in Hauntober 4: The Monster Mash

For you a list of my favorite monster movies. The creature features that get me through the year. Some of them may frighten you. Some of them are supposed to frighten you, but absolutely won’t. And some of them are just wonderful.

Gremlins (1984):
Monster: Gremlins
I feel like it’s a solid kick off to the list. They’re precious until you break every single very simple rule you’re given. Life lesson don’t break rules, unless there aren’t tiny monsters involved.

Dance of the Dead (2008):
Monster: Zombies
I personally call this movie “Prombies.” Who knew what zombies love more than anything is the soothing sound of really awful garage band music? It’s a zombedy about prombies. You really can’t go wrong.

The Blob (1958):
Monster: Blob
Steve McQueen and company are being attacked! By a large black garbage bag full of what appears to be shaving cream.

Little Shop of Horrors (1986):
Monster: Man-eating plant. Sorry, singing man-eating plant. My mistake. Singing, alien, man-eating plant.
It’s important that you know this is my favorite musical of all time. Rick Moranis and Steve Martin. You in yet? A snarky man-eating plant from outer space is going to seduce you into his plant stomach by singing to you! Hold you hat and hang onto your soul! Something’s coming to eat the world whole. I admit, I don’t like the movie as much as the stage production. The ending in the movie is a little too rewarding for the audience.

The Wolf Man (1941):
Monster: Werewolf
With Lon Chaney and Bela Lugosi this flick has “serious monster movie” written all over it.(serious monster movie not actually written on packaging).
Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.

Hobgoblins (1988):
Monster: Hobgoblins (Dummy)
Low budget b-movie. Hobgoblins is sort of the b-movie answer to Gremlins, except without the weird rules. Oh wait. I remember the rule. DON’T OPEN THE VAULT! You’ll never guess what happens. The good news is you can avoid watching this one the old-fashioned way and watch it with the crew from Mystery Science Theater 3000. I’d recommend it. Ah! They’re rubbing puppets on us!

Tremors (1990):
Monster: Giant worms
Burt! Cut it out! That’s really my favorite part. Reba yelling at Michael Gross. Fear not, Kevin Bacon is here. Earthquakes are scary, huh?

Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Monster: All sorts
Didn’t see that one comin’ did ya? You really should have. Some times you just need more levity when it comes to monsters. Family friendly monsters. And it’s Pixar so you’re going to cry, and not from fear.

An American Werewolf in London (1981):
Monster: Werewolf
Disturbing dream sequences. Moors. Werewolves. A pub called “the slaughtered lamb,” why would you even go to there? Nazis. Zombie friend. This movie is everything you’d expect in a werewolf movie, plus all the stuff I listed.

Teen Wolf (1985):
Monster: Werewolf
Just because it’s a monster movie doesn’t mean it’s scary. Teen comedy about Michael J. Fox as a werewolf. Pardon me, a basketball playing werewolf.

Godzilla (1954):
Monster: A giant lizard
After the U.S. douched it up and tested the H-bomb on Bikini Atoll director Ishirō Honda and Takeo Murata put together a film that felt just as likely. We laugh at it now, because it’s pretty silly and feels poorly made. But think about it. If you look at Godzilla from the perspective of its intention, it’s really very compelling.

Shaun of the Dead (2004):
Monster: Zombies
There’s a very common misconception about my life. That misconception is that I love the zombie craze. The truth is a friend once asked me to write a screenplay for him when another friend fell through. I did it. I actually researched it. I wrote something I loved. Then had to completely rewrite it into something that I did not love. Since then people send me all these zombie things. I just don’t care. What’s weird is, when I wrote the first draft of the poorly titled short “Zombies!” which I titled “Zombies a-go-go” I had never seen Shaun of the Dead. When I finally did see it, I learned I’d essentially written a crappier version. With a dance break. This is better.

The Evil Dead (1981):
Monster: Zombies
It’s Sam Raimi so this one actually has some creep factors. For all of the camp that came out of the 80s this one is a real win. If you actually care about zombie movies and not zombedies I really do recommend it. And maybe don’t just play a tape if you don’t know what’s on it.

Bride of Frankenstein (1935):
Monster: Frankenstein’s monster and wife
Boris Karloff is sort of the king of the monster and horror movie genre, or he was for a time. Targets sort of changed that. BUT in this one he’s in his prime as Frankenstein’s monster. The monster so influential in Henry (yeah that’s his first name) Frankenstein’s life that even though old Hank has given up the monster biz the monster gets Henry to make him a mate.

Young Frankenstein (1974):
Monster: Frankenstein’s monster
Like the last one only with singing and jokes. And Gene Wilder.

The Thing (1982)
Monster: Alien parasite
Alright, you’re in Antarctica. It’s cold. And you find an alien. Essentially what we’re dealing with here is a parasite that turns you into a murderous fool. A murderous fool who makes sure the company is COMPLETELY isolated before all the death and destruction. And just when you think you’ve trapped the infected, you’ll find that’s not all. You can’t trust anyone. If you feel inclined to watch the recent remake of this, I’d like to discourage you. It’s slower and more convoluted.

The Fly (1986)
Monster: Fly man
Yeah, I’m recommending the Jeff Goldblum version. My reason for this is simply Jeff Goldblum. Jeff Goldblum is working on teleportation and when he goes to test it a fly is in the other pod, and WHOOPS crossbreed.

Night of the Living Dead (1968):
Monster: Zombies
You know what I love about this movie? They never use the zed word. It was innovative and groundbreaking, and I think you need to watch it. It’s one of the many turns from the Karloff generation.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992):
Monster: Teenage Vampires
Because I feel that until I make a list of the best Buffy episodes ever, I need to squeeze her in. This is lower class Buffy, but it may lead some of you to watch the show. If it does then prepare to be super pleased when you see how much better the show is.

Fright Night (1985):
Monster: Vampires
The only reason I’d recommend the remake to you is David Tennant and Anton Yelchin, otherwise this is the superior movie. Plus, Roddy McDowall.

Dracula (1931):
Monster: The Vampire
In all the annals of living horror one name stands out. Bela Lugosi didn’t even speak English when they made this movie, which is fitting for a character from Transylvania. You can watch all the Dracula remakes and reboots you want, but if you want to see it done right, this is the one.

The Lost Boys (1987)
Monster: Teenage Vampires
And you thought the Coreys were bad news before! Now they’re dealing with vampires. Teenage vampires in a gang. With Jack Bauer. Step off, son.

The Mummy (1959):
Monster: Mummy
I’m not going to explain a mummy movie to you. Mummy. Curse. Blah blah. You know it. But this one stars Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. And really drives this monster category.

Adventure in Hauntober

That’s not a thing, by the way. Well, it kind of is. In Hayley Land. To the best of my ability during the month of October I try to watch a horror movie, a Halloween movie, or simply a movie that smacks of Autumn. As I’m sure you can imagine this builds up to Halloween, a night I’m sure I’ll be working, so I’m just trying to get it all in now. Halloween and the time surrounding it is one of my favorite times of the year. Costumes, candy, ghost stories, urban legends. I love it all.

The good news? I’ve got a list for you! Here is a list of my favorite Halloween movies:

Casper:
Devon Sawa. Christina Ricci. Bill Pullman. Eric Idle. ’90s nostalgia.


E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial:
Aliens. Kindred spirits. “Penis breath.”


Hocus Pocus:
As you can imagine I love this movie for a lot of reasons. Let’s think about it. Bette Midler. Kathy Najimy. Bette Midler singing. Urban legends. Tiny Sean Murray (NCIS). Talking cat. “Yabbos.”


It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown:
It’s a classic, Charlie Brown. You simply have to.


Ernest Scared Stupid:
Who doesn’t love some quality Ernest? Honestly, there are things in this movie that still scare me. Let us never speak of them. Bonus: Eartha Kitt


Halloweentown:
Alright, I admit. It’s cheesy. It’s a Disney Channel Original in all possible ways, but you know what? It’s fun, and I’m a fan of fun.


The Adventures of Ichabod Crane and Mr. Toad:
Bing Crosby and classic Disney bliss.


Spaced Invaders:
Dimwitted aliens. War of the Worlds. Get on it.


Beetlejuice:
Okay, technically it isn’t a Halloween movie, but it is pretty great for this time of year. It’s got the creep factor and ghosts and hauntings. Plus! Young Alec Baldwin and Michael Keaton. In fact, Michael Keaton in a pretty disgusting, un-Michael Keaton role. And Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Geena Davis, Jeffrey Jones.


Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School:
Okay, I admit it. It isn’t a Halloween movie. You could add Scooby-Doo meets the Boo Brothers for the same reason. But it’s quality. As long as you ignore the fact that Scrappy-Doo made it in on this adventure.


The Nightmare Before Christmas:
Now if I’m really honest with you, I only vaguely consider this a Halloween movie. I’d argue for it being closer to a Christmas movie, but the joy is that you get to watch it from Halloween until Christmas! It takes place from the end of Halloween until Halloweentown tries to put on Christmas.


And if you really care, then you’ll watch every Halloween episode for the shows you love! I’m looking at you, Buffy fans. Yeah, sorry. You’re just going to have to listen to it twice.


Things you won’t ever see on my Halloween movie list:

Edward Scissorhands. Because it’s a Christmas movie. In the same way that Die hard is a Christmas movie. How can a movie that takes place at Christmas be considered a Halloween movie? It happens every year, but it always makes me mad.