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Mortifying moments: ostrich edition

A few weeks ago, while on tour promoting her brilliant new book, Furiously Happy (which I did not steal), the Bloggess tweeted a moment of mortification, and her tweeps responded by sharing their own mortifying moments. Ever since, she’s been rounding up her favorites and posting them on her blog. My childhood friend Kara and I (independently) made the cut in her latest roundup, which obviously means that part 4 is the best of the best of the bunch.

I condensed my ridiculous story to 140 characters, because twitter, but there have been lots of follow-up questions, so here’s an expanded version of the story. It’s not any more logical, because I genuinely have no explanation for why I said what I said, but it is wordier.

Years ago, Husband & I were taking a walk. We got trapped into a conversation with a Greybeard Lefty Activist Political Canvasser Dude. He was very earnest. He had a lot to say.

So, so much to say.

I wanted a yard sign, but didn’t want to devote the rest of my day to conversing with him on the sidewalk, so I did the only logical thing: while he was in mid-sentence I suddenly pointed at a neighbor’s dog and yelled “IS THAT AN OSTRICH???!!!

I have no idea why this is the first thing that popped into my head, why it couldn’t wait for a break in the conversation, why I said it out loud, and especially why I felt the need to yell this question in such a frantic tone of voice.

It worked, that’s for sure. He stopped talking; we got away.

To be fair, Husband said that for a brief moment the dog looked like an ostrich to him because of the way the dog’s tail plumed into the air as he frantically dug a hole in the yard. It’s probably less because of the tail and more because someone had just semi-hysterically planted the suggestion in his mind that there was a renegade ostrich on the loose in Alexandria, Virginia.

Still, nice of him to pretend, isn’t it?

Later, the super-weirdness of my question hit me like a load of bricks and I almost lost consciousness because I was laughing so hard.

To this day Husband asks “Is that an Ostrich?” almost every time we walk down that block, which happens a lot. There’s a dog on the block we call Ostrich now, but I don’t think he was the original Ostrich, because this incident happened nearly 10 years ago.

When I was tweeting about this, I was hoping I’d blogged it, but this is what I got when I searched the archives for ostriches. Well, now I’ve blogged it, so we can all rest easier.

Anyway, here’s the Bloggess’s post: Mortification keeps us human. It’s like vitamins, but not. (part 4).

(I’m not really sure why several Australians needed to let me know that this story isn’t funny and I’m not funny, because they see ostriches all the time, but fine, I get your point. I guess. Although Ostriches are not native to Australia, so I’m not sure I really get your point…But here’s my point: ostriches are exceedingly rare in Alexandria, Virginia).


Monster Jokes and Riddles

Recently, my favorite contrarian, Casey Rae, mentioned that he was running out of jokebooks with bad puns and corny riddles suitable for precocious little girls. Being raised by such eclectically gothy parents, and being whip-smart, I knew exactly the book their kid needed, because I adored it myself: Normal Bridwell’s Monster Jokes and Riddles.

It was probably my very first book fair purchase with my very own money. If, by “my very own money” you mean: “money my parents gave me for the book fair.” Which I probably do – the details are hazy.

I hadn’t thought about this book in YEARS, but I remembered how much fun the illustrations were and how funny I thought the jokes were. It was fun to re-connect with the source of a great deal of childhood joy.

Norman Bridwell's Monsters Jokes and Riddles (1972)
Front Cover: Norman Bridwell’s Monsters Jokes and Riddles (1972)


Back Cover: Norman Bridwell’s Monsters Jokes and Riddles (1972)

My parents probably found this book to be less of a source of joy, because the jokes? The jokes are terrible.

And I loved them.

How terrible?


I’m pretty sure my mom used to hide the book under my bed in hopes I’d forget about it and quit telling her these jokes over and over and over.

Author Norman Bridwell is perhaps best known as the creator of Clifford of the Big Red Dog.

By the time I got my hands on this book, I’d heard vampire stories from my grandmother, who wasn’t as skilled in the art of the bedtime story as maybe she could have been. And I was terrified by Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein the first time I saw it. I think I understood it was a comedy, but…monsters!

I realize now that I was participating in a larger cultural shift that transformed classic cinematic and literary monsters into humorous commodities on which children could spend their allowances. David Skal’s The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror is an excellent place to read up on that subject. I didn’t understand that at the time, of course, but forty years later it’s my professional life, so I figured I should provide you with at least one reading assignment.

Abbott and Costello aside, Brother and I certainly weren’t allowed to watch horror movies. The closest thing I got to horror was the Gothic lunacy of Disneyworld’s Haunted Mansion, which I still adore.

I’d never thought about what my first exposure to mummies was, but this silly joke book was probably it.

What did the Pharoah say when he saw a lot of boll weevil bugs from the cotton fields stealing a mummy? “Mummy is the loot of all weevils.”

Needless to say, the joke book was an instant hit in Casey’s house. I bet he’s heard the one about what happened when the Frankenstein Monster asked for the girl’s hand in marriage (that was all he got) about a thousand times by now. I guess they’re still really busy enjoying it, because Casey hasn’t returned any of my texts!

Only kidding.

Casey’s probably avoiding me because of that other thing…

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The (Pumpkin Spice) Singularity

Would ya like a pumpkin spice latte to go with that fragrant fall-scented litter box?

A photo posted by Rebecca (@meanlouise) on

Mocking pumpkin spice is the new black.

And what’s the new black? That’s right, kids, burlap! Okay. Maybe not, so let’s get back on topic.

I was at Target last week when I encountered a woman standing in front of an end-cap of pumpkin spice scented and/or flavored stuff. She was wailing.

In my memory she was also rending her garments, but I that’s just my memory trying to milk the imagery for maximum impact. There wasn’t any rending to speak of.

There was definitely wailing.

“They’re ruining pumpkin spice the way Yankee candle wrecked apple cider for everyone in the 90s!”

Instead of routing around her, as one would normally do when someone has a nervous breakdown in a retail establishment, people were gathering around her to bond over the industrial-pumpkin-spice complex. My desire to spend as little time in the store as humanly possible prevented me from sticking around to eavesdrop on the spontaneous support group, but it was tempting.

The best part was that a very earnest and cheerful Target team member popped up and, clearly only catching the last bit of her plaintive cry, chirped, “We have a full restock of yankee candle apple spice merchandise in the aisle…”

I couldn’t hear the rest of his sentence because I was hightailing it out of there. I imagine what happened next was akin to the penultimate scene in the film Freaks (1932).

Poor bastard.

I fully expect that next time I visit the store those customers will all be huddled around him chanting “One of us! One of us!” while he struggles under the weight of all of the pumpkin spice skittles they’ve superglued to his head.

On a related note, this HuffPost (humor) headline made me laugh: “Starbucks Barista Completes Life Cycle, Becomes Pure Pumpkin Spice.”

This post started life as an instagram post and a couple of comments I made on Faith Sword’s facebook page.


Horrorstör ruined my laundry rack

Grady Hendrix: Horrorstör

Grady Hendrix’s Horrorstör is clever in all the right ways, but it’s also quite creepy. You can’t ask for much more from a high-concept horror novel.

It’s a little too creepy and clever, honestly.

I used to love our IKEA clothes drying rack. It folds flat and stores neatly in a nook in the laundry room, but it’s quick and easy to set it up and it holds several loads of laundry at once.

“Love” might be over-stating my relationship to any of our household accoutrements, but it’s safe to say I liked this thing a lot. Liked. Past tense.

Horrorstör ruined my laundry rack for me.

IKEA Mulig drying rack

Ever since I finished the book I’ve been utterly and completely creeped out by the laundry rack. I’m not kidding. I have such a visceral reaction to the thing that I avoid doing laundry until Husband can set the rack up for me.

This is ridiculous, not least of which because there isn’t a drying rack in the book.

Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the TV series, particularly since it’s being developed by Gail Berman, who was responsible for developing both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel for television.

Berman did, however, Executive Produce a couple episodes of Dig, which was truly abysmal in ways that even the narcotics and other assorted drugs I was on while recovering from a long and serious illness couldn’t improve. Seriously, even for television, that was some seriously ridiculous pop culture archaeology. Let’s just hope she learned her lesson from that debacle, because damn. Just…damn.

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The Underpass

Happy Halloween!

Hang on. I’m being told today isn’t actually the first day of Halloween, it’s the first day of October.

Husband is silly before he has coffee!

To kick off Halloween and/or October, director David Schmidt (Sword and Cloak Productions) has released a new short horror film.

The Underpass (2015)

Poster courtesy of Sword and Cloak Productions.

The sound mix is swell, so watch it with good headphones or speakers if you can!

The Underpass (2015)

Sword and Cloak have other shorts, clips, and trailers on their youtube page, so check them out!

I’m particularly fond of the faux trailer they produced for a contest last year.

House on Nightmare Lane (2014)

I suppose I should disclose that I’ve known David online for dog’s years and think he’s a peach. That doesn’t mean he’s not actually a talented filmmaker!

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Our monkey butler made me do it

I was out at the local coffeeshop not caulking the bathtub in our guest bathroom when I ran into a friend who asked me why I wasn’t at home re-caulking the bathtub like I said I was going to be.

I’ve been avoiding re-caulking that bathtub for 6 weeks. I’ve spent more time talking about re-caulking the bathtub than any human ever spent actually re-caulking a bathtub.

All the messy stuff – the cleaning and scraping – has been done for ages. I just have to squoosh the caulk onto the places where you have to have caulk to, um, keep the bad things from happening. (Still not Martha Stewart, in case you were under the delusion I was actually getting the hang of this shit).

I told my friend I was off the home improvement hook because I’d taught our monkey butler how to caulk.

The woman at the next table flipped out, because caulk is toxic and I shouldn’t be letting an animal handle it without supervision.

I think any animal cruelty issues here would begin and end with the words “monkey butler,” but she left in a furious huff before I could explain that our monkey butler is, to the best of my knowledge, a complete figment of our imagination.

I think I should maybe try to remember to let Husband know that some of the neighbors may think we’re terrible people who have a monkey butler.

I’m starting to think that Popemania is making people a little crazier than usual. Soon after, while I was still at the coffee shop and still not caulking the bathtub, a person I’ve never laid eyes on before marched up to our table and accused me of breaking into a warehouse and stealing a copy of Jenny Lawson’s new book, because it’s not being released until tomorrow but I clearly had a copy right there in my non-caulking hands. (Wait…Was she suggesting that The Bloggess has her own warehouse? I really need to read her blog, don’t I?)

furiouslyImage: a not-stolen copy of Jenny Lawson’s
“Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things.”

I also think it would be awesome to have a monkey butler, even though Jungle Pete has been berating me about how this is a terrible idea since we were 12 years old. And he’s absolutely right, but I hate admitting he’s right.

I don’t actually hate admitting Jungle Pete is right, but originally there was a punchline that depended on a setup wherein I admitted to hating to admit I’m right to Jungle Pete. It wasn’t funny so I scrapped it. I don’t know why I left this part in the post. What can I say? I’ve spent the better part of the year desperately ill and then impatiently trying to recover and I may have broken the part of my brain that remembered how to blog.

I do, however, hate how much I secretly wish we had a monkey butler. Even though I think keeping captive primates in your home is a terrible thing.

(But…monkey butler).

In other news, I still haven’t cracked open The Bloggess’s new book, but it took less than 20 minutes to re-caulk the bathtub. It probably would have only taken 10 minutes, but I had to go upstairs to retrieve the paper towels and I procrastinated for a few more minutes by emptying the dishwasher.

Plus, I couldn’t avoid re-caulking any longer because we have a guest arriving on Wednesday (who isn’t the Pope) and who will probably want to take a shower or two sometime over the next week and probably wouldn’t be too keen on my caulk-avoiding alternate plan, which was to spray her with the hose in the backyard. With our luck, that would be the moment animal control shows up to investigate monkey butler allegations.

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The Wicker Man, Teletubbies Edition

Sorry for the long absence, I didn’t mean to neglect you so.

My sanity wasn’t devoured by bad SyFy movies, but I was quite ill for most of the Spring and early Summer and it’s taken me much longer to get life back to something even close to resembling normality.

Wouldn’t want things to get too normal, though, so while I continue to sort things out, here’s a hypnotic re-edit of the ending of The Wicker Man.

The brilliant 1973 version, not the abominable 2006 remake starring Nicholas Cage. Not even the powerful ancient magic of the Teletubbies could make that thing watchable.

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As Above, So Below

Randy Cordova’s review in the Arizona Republic sums Archaeological horror flick As Above, So Below up nicely: Tagged

Neeson Season

As soon as I opened wordpress to post Liam Neeson: The Musical, our furnace made a terrible shrieking sound. An additional dose of oil seems to have placated it (for now) but it’s 12 degrees and I’m a little nervous.

This wouldn’t be the first time Liam Neeson has menaced our furnace on a cold night in February. See also: Wrath of the Titans (Or, this movie sucks so much it will break your furnace).

I’ve been trying to update my theme and redesign the site, but it hasn’t been going terribly well. If my blog breaks over the next few days, I plan to blame Neeson. Or call him to rescue me. One of those.


Alone in the Dark (2005)

Alone in the Dark is a 1982 horror movie starring Jack Palance, Donald Pleasence and Martin Landau.
Unfortunately, that’s not the movie we’re watching.

We’re watching Alone in the Dark, a 2005 supernatural/archaeological horror movie starring Tara Reid, Christian Slater and Stephen Dorff.

If that doesn’t give you a sufficient idea of how terrible this movie is, perhaps because you’re drunk or otherwise incapacitated, allow me up the ante: this movie was directed by Uwe Boll.

Uwe. Boll.

And it’s based on a video game. It’s one of Boll’s video game movies. The only movies on earth more awful than Boll’s “original” movies are Boll’s movies based on video games.

Allow Wired’s Chris Baker to sum up Boll’s abilities:

Like a modern-day Ed Wood, or a poor man’s Michael Bay, Boll appears competent in every aspect of filmmaking except the actual making of the film. His movies are haphazardly scripted, sloppily edited, badly acted and, most crucially, brutally received.

There are mild spoilers in this post, but with a movie like this, it’s better to be forewarned.

The movie begins with a crawl. Narrated by Slater, who sounds as though he’s drunk or otherwise incapacitated, this crawl is a prodigious display of word-vomit that provides a video-game-esque amount of backstory that leaves you fervently wishing that the poor man’s Nicholson would just shut up already.

Blahblahblah. 10,000 years ago a tribe known as the Abkani opened a gate between the worlds of Light and Dark. Blahblahblah. Something evil slipped through the gate, possibly Uwe Boll. Blahblahblah. In 1967, a bunch of miners found dangerous artifacts left behind when the Abkani disappeared.Blahblahblah. Something about the government’s Bureau 713, a paranormal research agency run by an archaeologist named Lionel Hudgens. Hudgens has a secret lab. Blahblahblah.

“There, he conducted savage experiments on orphaned children in an attempt to merge man with creature.”

Wait, what? What kind of archaeology is that? What creatures?

Me: Isn’t that also the plot of that Kevin Smith movie we just saw a trailer for? Tusk? The one where the guy tries to turn the other guy into a walrus?
Husband: No. This is different. That guy was a podcaster, not an archaeologist!

Thankfully, while we were bickering about Tusk, the crawl ended. Unfortunately, that meant the movie began.

Edward Carnby (Christian Slater), one of the 20 surviving experimental child-creature subjects, has grown up to be a paranormal investigator. He also knows kung fu. Or maybe the artifact he keeps in his leather jacket pocket gives him super-powers. Who can really say? Actually, Lowrent Nicholson will probably say eventually, because it appears he’s also going to be narrating this steaming pile of cinematic stupidity.

Seriously, what kind of science was Ludgens supposed to be doing? You understand that creating human-demonmonster hybrids is not archaeology, right? Right?

Ludgens is still a working archaeologist. Not a respectable archaeologist, obviously, because he works for the same museum that hired Aline (Tara Reid) as an assistant-curator. Let’s be clear here: I’m not mocking the idea of Reid as a scholar because she’s young and dewy and pretty. I’m mocking the idea of Reid as a scholar because she can’t deliver a convincing line to save her life. She can’t even walk convincingly.

Archaeology movie trope alert: Aline is under pressure to finish the blockbuster exhibit about the Abkani for the major museum at which she is the assistant curator.

A bunch of stuff happens.

Sample dialogue:

Edward: Every culture’s got a story about the end of the world, doesn’t it?
Aline: But not every story starts by coming true.

Oh, hey! Sex scene in an exotically appointed artifact-laden warehouse. I guess Edward and Aline live in this warehouse? Oh no! Now Edward and Aline are being attacked by a monster, who chases them around the warehouse.

Luckily, Bureau 713 arrives with an entire platoon of soldiers and they all open fire on the monster in the dark warehouse while heavy metal music throbs and lights strobe and everyone grunts a lot.

No, really:

Now there are zombies.

Where did the zombies come from? I have no idea. I wasn’t paying attention because I was reading about the 7th Alone in the Dark game (Illuminations), which is scheduled for release this year. Husband, who was paying attention, also has no idea.

We both agree that the games are way, way better that this movie.

We also agree that they should dub Reid’s dialogue. Even if it wasn’t dubbed well her performance would be more convincing. Maybe they could spare Reid the effort of memorizing all of those words. Her dialogue coach could just smear peanut butter on the roof of her mouth like they do when they want to film animals moving their mouth in a way that approximates human speech.

Sweet cheezits! I was just searching my archives for a post I wrote about Boll’s epic vampire hunter flick Bloodrayne (“not as bad as getting your eyelid caught on a nail”) and discovered that we’ve already watched this movie.

Husband: Well, I believe we should commend ourselves for doing such an excellent job of repressing it!

He makes a good point.

Hang on…the braintrust of Aline, Edward, and Bureau 713 Commander Burke (Dorff) seem to have lead Bureau 713’s special forces to the ancient Abkani temple those miners found in 1967.

No sign of zombies. Lots of monsters, though. And a big battle.

Damn, while I wasn’t paying attention the three stooges opened the door between the worlds of Light and Dark and went into whichever one they weren’t already in. Dark, I guess. Or Light. Who knows?

Some “dramatic” things happen and the movie ends.

I don’t want to ruin the movie for you, so I haven’t described the B story, in which we learn the consequences of the child-creature experiments. You should be grateful I decided not to describe it. Grateful on oh so many levels, the least of which is that you’re avoiding spoilers.

In summary: archaeology plus secret experiments involving human-creature hybrids never end well, not when you’re on deadline to open a blockbuster museum exhibit!

Someone edited Alone in the Dark down to 2 minutes, complete with director’s commentary and a guest appearance by Howard Dean!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to watch Alone in the Dark II!

Alone in the Dark 2 Trailer: