Halloween Redux

HalloweenI’m one of those nuts who thinks of Autumn as his favorite time of the years. Maybe this is a last gasp of Marching Band nerdness (Go Vikings!), but I look forward to the falling leaves, the smells, and the sheer panic we feel around our political system every two to four years. Ahhh… Fall.

My kids really want to get more Halloween decorations for our house, but I’ve never been impressed by the market. Usually everything seems plastic and loud. And I’m definitely not the type of guy to have anything giant and inflatable on my lawn. My line about this kind of stuff is Wayne Manor. “What would Alfred allow?” I ask.

The answer is usually not much.

Over the years I’ve written a bit about this holiday, which you can check out below in the links. I’ve also had the pleasure of reviewing some Halloween and horror stories on WKAR Current State. I thought I would include them as well if you are looking for something a little spooky to read this year. Also, they are fun to listen to because in a few of them I try (badly) to do a scary voice. Who doesn’t need a good and embarrassing laugh from time to time?

Boo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Monsters, Vampires and Chewbacca: Some Halloween Posts

The author as Chewbecca... I'm behind Pac Man.So when I was a kid, my mom used to make me Halloween costumes (I’m the Chewbacca behind the Pac Man). They were really quite impressive. Sadly, I don’t have that skill, nor do I even try to pull something like that off. And it’s gotten to such a point that if I brought up the idea of a homemade Halloween costume, my kids would probably revolt.

…And there might be torches and pitchforks.

Which got me wondering, is something lost in not going to that trouble anymore? Yes, all of the kids walking around look exactly like their target, but has a bit of the heart been lost in the endeavor? Of course, if the kids have no idea of what I am talking about, maybe this is me just being grumpy.

Yeah, I’m probably just being grumpy.

HalloweenI mean, look at pumpkin carving these days. I like to do a simple face, but when you see all the tools and skills out there, well, I look lame. And telling the kids this was fine a few decades ago doesn’t cut it.

Okay, where was I? Halloween posts!

I’ve had the pleasure of being on WKAR’s Current State for three Halloween episodes now.  I’ve reviewed and talked about (with links):

Here are some other posts (with links too) I have written about one of my favorite holidays:

I hope you have a great holiday (with or without a handmade costume).

 

Ghosts, Snoopy, Haunted Mansions and Halloween

haunted-mansionA few years ago, the inventive filmmaker Guillermo del Toro was hired by Disney to write a screenplay for a new movie based on The Haunted Mansion ride.  Over the summer I read an interview with him claiming that him and his team of writers were still struggling with the story.

Seriously?

I have to admit I am a little surprised. I mean it seems to me a Haunted Mansion film writes itself. Do you want to know how I would do it if Disney asked me? Of course you do!

First off I would set it in the 1950s. That way you can tap into the cliches and stereotypes you would see in classic old black-and-white horror films. And set it in a small town (think Back to the Future).  Now on to my very brief synopsis!

  • Act 1- We meet the eccentric and comic people in the town. There are two twin teenage sisters, one is a cheerleader and popular, the other is a bookworm (our heroes). They go to a dance at their school. That night there is a huge thunderstorm and the power goes out. A bunch of teenagers ride together in car; which, of course, stalls in front of the Haunted Mansion.
  • Act 2- The group of teenagers (including our female heroes) tour the Haunted Mansion. The ghosts want to get out but are trapped in (a curse put in place by Madame Leota). One of the teenagers is tricked by the evil Hatbox Ghost (an urban legend by the way around the ride), releasing all the ghosts.
  • Act 3- The ghosts playfully attack and spook the town (like Gremlins). The teenagers are split into teams, one to collect the ghosts, the other to get the curse put back on the house and stop the Hatbox Ghost (the sisters lead the different teams)… this all has to be done by dawn.
  • Act 4- In a suspenseful last act, the curse is reinstated, the ghosts are drawn back and the sisters now are friends. The end.

Disney you can send me the check. (Okay, that was a little snippy of me, but seriously I could write this script and would love to do it… Oh, and Guillermo del Toro is awesome.)

Here are some of the posts in the past I have written about Halloween. Enjoy!

The Halloween TreeBook Review: The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. Last year I reviewed this book (which should be a holiday classic) for WKAR’s Current State. You can check it out (and listen) via the link. This week I’ll be reviewing Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I hope you tune in for it, I think it turned out great.

It's The Great PumpkinWatching It’s The Great  Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. I love this special. Absolutely love it. Actually, I’m kind of obsessed about it, and this post proves it. In it, I share my insight on the show and my thoughts on each of the scenes and characters. Seriously… obsessed.

CostumedIf I Could Wear a Halloween Costume… If I had the courage, I would dress up on the holiday. I’m just not that guy… but I wish I was. This comic post deals with my dreams and hopes and masks.

HalloweenHalloween, In Spirit. I wrote this post during my first year on the site, and it was one of my most popular. It is a little comic, a little philosophical, a little serious. In many ways it contains all of my thoughts on the holiday, tied up in a bow… that probably has skeletons on it.

I hope you enjoy the posts! (And Guillermo call me!)

 

New WKAR Book Review: Something that Feels like Truth by Donald Lystra

Current StateThis week I was back on WKAR’s Current State with a new book review!

This time I am reviewing Michigan Notable Book Something that Feels like Truth by Donald Lystra.

You can hear my review here: http://wkar.org/post/book-review-donald-lystra-s-something-feels-truth

You can also read my review below.

You can find Donald Lystra’s latest collection of short stories on Amazon here. If you would like to learn more about my book reviews or listen/read previous installments you can do so via this page on my site.

I hope you enjoy my new book review!

Continue reading

Boo! New WKAR Book Review: The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

Current StateJust in time for this spooky holiday!

I have a new book review on WKAR’s show Current State. This time I am taking on the “lost” classic novel by Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree.

You can hear my review here: http://wkar.org/post/book-review-ray-bradbury-s-halloween-tree

You can find The Halloween Tree on Amazon here. If you would rather read my new book review it is available below.

Happy Halloween! Continue reading

The Best Intentions in Starfleet: Rewatching the Lesser Star Trek TV Shows

StarfleetThe world of entertainment is filled with missed opportunities.

We have all heard stories about the great “What If’s.”

Great unproduced scripts for shows or movies. Unfinished books. Actors that could have played legendary parts but for some reason lost their chance.

(My favorite missed acting story is a lesser known one actually. It was the idea of Gene Kelly playing the villain in Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. Just imagine that! All of the charisma behind an evil grin. That original script of the story was never produced, but it generated the novel version that Ray lovingly dedicated to Mr. Kelly.)

Television is a graveyard of missed opportunities, from shows never produced to shows cancelled way too soon (I still mourn Cupid and Northern Exposure). Of course, sometimes those missed opportunities can be found in the actual execution of the series, turning a fun idea with a good cast until a mediocre yawn (How I Met Your Mother) .

After writing a post a few weeks ago on my rediscovered love of Star Trek: The Next Generation (you can read that post here), it made me wonder about the other Star Trek shows… the ones we have all forgotten, some sadly and some for very good reasons.

So, I checked them out again. (Please note, I didn’t say beamed aboard, that would have just been too cheesy, even for me.) Continue reading

Our Dangerous Fixation With Genres

Revolutionary SnoopyThe writing world is full of factions.

Each of these factions, have their own heroes (or leaders), their own book clubs, their own book dealers, their own sites, their own rules, their own readers, etc.

Sometimes I like to imagine them as armies, each with their own distinct style and strengths and weaponry.

  • The romance army is nothing more than a collection of men with long flowing hair and amazing abs. There is a good chance that their swords might be a phallic thing though, consider yourself warned.
  • The paranormal army is made up of brooding men who may be vampires… or werewolves… or zombies… or ghosts. Whatever the case, they are dreamy.
  • In the YA ranks you will find confused teenagers with an overwhelming sense of destiny. They will be looking for something and once they find it, watch out.
  • Yes, the scifi army is full of little green men, but over the course of the battle we will all learn something about humanity back here at home.
  • And you do not want to see the horror army. Seriously, just turn and run!

The funny thing is that it is more than the publishers and bookstores that have latched on to the use of factions or, more accurately, genres to organize our art. We writers do it as well as so many of us proudly declare which army we fit into. Our people.

Twitter is full of writers that introduce themselves first by name and then by their genre. And the funny thing is when you search through their followers as well as those that they follow, they are also of the same genre. Their army, their rules…

Join us. Continue reading

Okay, am I a nerd?

The author as Chewbecca... I'm behind Pac Man.Yesterday, the writer Becky Flade mentioned me in a blog post on her site.

The post was called “The Blog that Wasn’t” (which you can find here) and she said this about me and my site:

“When I need a nerd fix, Scott’s my man.”

Nerd?

Nerd!?!

Now, I’ve considered myself many things in my life; but never “nerd.”

Yes, I would say I’m a snob. I can get behind “snob.” I have all the earmarks of a snob! I could have it tattooed on me without a problem. It could be on my arm near where my sweater vest ends (yes, I am wearing a sweater vest), or even above my reading glasses, right on my forehead. Let me give you some examples of my snobbery:

  • I have in my dining room pictures of some of my favorite authors, and many times I have used them as a test for visitors. If, for example, you call Mark Twain “Einstein” well, you might not be invited over again.
  • I have been known to tease my friends who praise Twilight on their Facebook pages. (And they should be teased, especially if they are an adult.)
  • I write novels (while adventurous and surprising) that contain art, music, and literature references.
  • On my desk I have a Shakespeare action figure and an autograph of Woody Allen.
  • Oh, did I mention I have a master’s degree?

You see, I sing snob!

But nerd? Continue reading

Halloween, In Spirit

I don’t believe in magic.

I also don’t believe in witches, ghosts, wizards, dragons, unicorns, demons, devils, poltergeists, vampires, werewolves and anything else that might go bump in the night.

And, for those curious, I don’t believe in angels either.

None of these things exist (or could exist) in the world I see around me every day. And if any of these things really were real, there is no way it would be a secret to all of us. If there is one great truth about human beings, from the North Pole to the South, it is that we are all lousy at keeping a secret. Remember, even Deep Throat said who he was before he died, and that was a secret kept by only three people!

Frankly, we would all know about Hogwarts.

I wish I could see a ghost.

Why?

Because I would find the experience incredibly satisfying. Continue reading

Writing About Genius: Discussing Authors on a Blog

I tolerate Garrison Keillor, but I am not sure how much I like him.

While I am impressed that he can write a two-hour show each week (and that is an accomplishment, make no mistake), I never found his fiction to be very good– comforting, yes; good, no. When planning for a trip to Italy with my wife, I picked up a bunch of his novels for all of the driving from tourist site to tourist site.  Well, on day two of the trip, I gave his books to another traveler, and picked up some new books at a bus stop… Yeah, that says everything right there.

So why do I bring up Mr. Keillor? Frankly, I don’t think he helps the image of English majors and readers on his show. English majors (and I will include librarians with us since they get attacked as well) in his opinion seem to always live a life of illusion, false grandeur.  Making us almost something to be pitied or laughed at… and they laugh every week.

Yes, English majors really don’t serve much of a purpose in the economy, no business manager has ever demanded an HR department to hire a new English major. When it comes to the American dream of moving up ladders and finding success, English majors are on the outskirts; because, honestly, our dreams are different. Continue reading