Wednesday, July 6, 2016

5 Reasons to Join me as a Technophobe

Did you know that Weird Al Yankovic majored in Architecture? I’ll get to the nexus of this posting in a moment, but I have to cheer how much that fact came as no surprise to me. He has always struck me as a balanced right and left brain. He started high school at age 12 because he was so ahead of the curve.

Nothing in my past is worth boasting about to that degree, but I was a science major as well with my eyes always wandering to the heavens of creativity.

And now my point: I embrace science in spite of all my artistic endeavors. So when I share with you very real fears about technology, you can bet I’m not being flighty. Come with me as I write my most horrific piece, because unlike my creepy fiction, this is REAL. I’ll try to make it just a little bit funny so you won’t bolt outdoors and scream, “The world is ending!"

Deaths will increase due to texting and driving. Can you imagine the old cowboys complaining about the horseless carriages, and how those big pieces of metal colliding with others would cause fatalities? Surely an opposition group pointed this out back in the early 1900s. We pressed on anyway in the name of speed and convenience. Want to hear the scary part? A demographic exists out there that can’t even begin to fathom WHY THEY SHOULD WATCH THE ROAD INSTEAD OF THEIR PHONE. They grew up in Techworld so it’s normal to them to have eyes on a screen all of the time. Put all those lawbreakers on horseback and I bet they wouldn’t give a damn about the gossip from their besties.

Identify Theft is so bad that YOU can’t even get to YOUR accounts because of all the protective measures on them. Just wait until it’s time to start drawing your 401k. Don’t be surprised if you’ll have to send in a swab of your skin for DNA tests monthly just to get your check. I actually carry cash most the time now. If someone robs me face to face, at least they only get off with a few bills and not my whole damn life. Identity theft actually makes muggings look BETTER. Our money is safest through paper transactions only now.

Television used to be free. Remember that? Everyone complains about the economy, but if we weren’t forced to foot the bill for cable (because that’s the only way to get your local stations now clearly), you’d have more disposable income. With the ‘pulling of the plug’ on analog broadcasting in 2010 to supposedly upgrade to digital receivers that don’t work unless you live 5 miles from the TV station, now you have to go without just the regular old news unless you shell out for the internet—another expense we didn’t use to have.

Just like road rage reared its ugly head in the 80s because traffic reached an all-time high and drivers, disconnected from being actually face to face with another person, did abominably stupid things like hit their brakes in a huddle of cars, endangering everyone on the road, social media has emboldened morons to new heights of asinine aggression because they are not in proximity to the people they hurt. Most of us, when we go to a get-together, were raised to be cordial to the other folks, in spite of our differences. This means keeping your mouth shut about politics and religion for the most part because you’re simply not going to agree with everyone on everything. In a way, there’s nothing actually social about social media, because the correspondents don’t ‘feel’ each other. The reason we have a law that forbids yelling fire in a crowded house is because some turds actually did just that. So, as more lamebrains carelessly stir the hornet’s nest on the internet, lying, provoking, they can actually threaten our freedom of speech.

Phones are insanely expensive! Friends, they’re not that complicated of a device. But you have to pay between $300 and a thousand dollars for a new one and they don’t amount to much more than a radio. Seriously. The word ‘wireless’ just means radio waves, the exact same ones you used to listen to FM and AM with, except it’s digital. If you don’t believe me, ask any engineer. And you have to get on a plan with that phone. A contract. This is progress?

It comes down to this: The tech industry is convincing consumers that they need things that they don’t actually have to have. And then they’re taking just about ALL of your money in doing so. And too many consumers are using the technology recklessly. Hopefully I was careful with my rhetoric on this 'tech' device. Thank God it's still free.
Of course technology has helped us in so many ways. Not the point of this article, though. Arrogance and 'turning our brains off' are the real dangers. Lest we forget, the Titanic was a technological marvel. But not a one advancement in engineering on that ship could have prevented the disaster caused by the smug, thoughtless imbeciles who touted it as unsinkable.

Gusto Dave

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

It's a Long Road, Which Ever One You Choose


Everything that has anything to do with wealth and fame in the arts is competitive. And honestly, competitive is too soft of a word. You’re-more-likely-to-get-attacked-by-a-shark-on-a-mountain-then-drown-in-a-bowl-of-Jello, if that were a word, is more fitting.

That’s what comedy has in common with writing novels: It’s tough to make it. Last time, I promised to look at the similarities between the two pursuits.

The Slush Pile: An affectionate term for the stack of manuscripts on an agent or editor’s desk, blocking your quick attention. A lot of times, you don’t get any attention unless the publishing pro knows you or sweet talks someone into reading all of his or her backlog of submissions. That I know of, there’s no cute jargon for this waiting list in comedy, but it’s alive and well. The kicker is that the traffic holding up the ‘look see’ of your first chapters—besides apathy from the recipient—is usually hacks destined to give up (like me) when they discover the alarming amount of effort it will take for moderate success. Comedy venues are clogged with these too.

It takes a minimum of ten years to make it. Bryan Callen—Google him and you’ll recognize his face—says that he doesn’t give advice to new comedians, but he warns them that it takes a decade to get somewhere with it, however that’s defined. The same goes for writing. Stephen King started at age 8 and got his first short story in print at 18. And Carrie, his big break, came years later. Think about it. You could become a doctor or lawyer way faster.

Oh yeah, there are workarounds. Just like a turnpike pass, you can pay for quicker rejection. Contests abound in both worlds. In comedy, the pressure to wobble out onto the stage is intense enough. Add to that a competition and you get lovely stomach pains. But the entry fee is usually cheap. In fact, when I competed at the Comedy Works, I adopted the attitude that the fee of $20 is the equivalent to buying a ticket just to watch the act…only I got a bonus of getting to be up there too!

Theft of intellectual property goes on in both arts. It’s probably worse in comedy. The ever cool Mario Acevedo said that someone in Germany put their name on one of his books on Amazon. It looks like someone did that with my Tattoo Rampage as well. Funny thing is: it doesn’t bother me about my novel. The joke’s on them. They’re not going to make any money off of it either! And with the stand up, two of my bits have been stolen and turned into internet memes. Comedians are known for swiping material.

Now for the filthiest word in the business, worse than any string of F bombs a slimy comic could bark into a mike…marketing. Yep. The big shots in comedy, just like publishers, harp about online presence and all that nausea. The reality is: Unless someone with power or fame endorses you or you invest your retirement nest egg into ads, at the most, you’re going to beg for free plugs and inflate your ego so erroneously that it’ll come crashing down like a texting driver on a mountain road once it finally hits you how you’ve prostituted yourself out. I see these poor young comics working themselves to death on social media and in dive rooms, yet they’re not gaining one inch of notoriety. Average consumers wouldn’t recognize any of their names. Same goes for writers out there trying to hustle without any backing. Believe me. Like a wide-eyed hick, I fell for that blow to ‘get yourself out there and network’. It’s not worth it. Of course, get out there and meet people because someone might be that voice who gives you the noticeable accolades, but leave the marketing to people whose job it is to do so.

Forgive me here as I end this article with the difference that drew me to the stage and ultimately killed my drive for submitting manuscripts. Success doesn’t have to be money. I would have considered myself a hit if people, other than friends, would have simply read my work. Fellow writers, it just doesn’t happen unless you’re New York pubbed. I’ve seen strings on Facebook where someone would ask for a reading recommendation. I’d jump in and say, “Mine.” But because my ‘publication’ is just another one of those E disasters, I was ignored. Who could blame them? But when someone chuckles at my wit, I feel success. Unlike wishy washy feedback from critique groups and editors, you know if your joke works or not right there before the audience. I can scribble an idea down in one day, tell it in front of a crowd that night, and feel that much craved payoff which most writers never get…unless they’re famous. Simply put, it’s magic. The coolest prose I ever wrote, getting a literary agent, the news that a Hollywood dude wanted to pitch my story to studios—none of them thrilled me like the roar of giggles at the Comedy Works for my sets. It’s a kind of writing—and comedy most definitely is writing, a much more difficult genre—that gives just and bountiful rewards for the effort. Sweet laughter.
 
Gusto

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Comedy VS. Fiction Writing, Surprisingly Similar



As a super villain might say to the protagonist, “We are very much alike, you and I.” (The bad guy—usually flaunting a British accent—always has to tack on that ‘you and I’ as if it weren’t obvious already). But if it’s a good story, that statement is usually true because that’s part of what makes it a compelling yarn: The hero and antagonists are from similar backgrounds, the latter choosing to use his or her abilities selfishly. Such is but one of the thousands of techniques a storyteller must know to entertain a reader. When I fiddle with humor, the super villain’s maxim rings in my ear because, as I give it my all to make you laugh, I realize that there’s a lot going on behind a simple joke just like the inner-workings of a plot.

For instance, if you’ve been scribbling for any time at all, my author friends, no doubt you’ve been taught to answer these questions when starting a story usually in the first paragraph: Whose head am I in? Where am I? And what’s about to change? By addressing these prompts, the book will be more engaging immediately and that’s important when a potential reader knows little about the title and is trying to decide whether to get on the ride or not. In other words, hook ‘em. Well, just like that my comedian friends are taught to GET TO THE FUNNY. Don’t take a mike and blather on about yourself without at least saying something that is meant for a laugh in the first 10 seconds. If you think ‘a funny thing happened to me today’ is the way to tickle the crowd’s funny bone, you better wear a cheap shirt because you’re going to sweat your ass off when your boring life bombs up in front of the pack.

It astounds me. The most common problem I see with amateurs is they’re so full of themselves, they forget that they’re actually servants. Yep. Servants. They want to get paid to be entertainers. Customers are only going to pay for what they want. Amateur comedians and writers are so broken, so in need of approval and love, they forget to ask: what would my customers love? I used to sit in critique groups and try to tough down a hack’s boring story. When we gave so many of them constructive, courteous feedback, they’d reject it. It’s almost as if they were bursting to say, “I’M NOT GOING TO PLAY WITH YOU ANYMORE!” The conundrum to me was: If they just want to write for their own satisfaction, then why the hell are they joining a club to learn how to craft a book for commercial submission? They must have thought: I'm so amazing they're going to worship me and call their industry contacts to gloat about this unfound author!

But there's a lot of work before you get there. This leads me to the great Robin Williams. Watch him and his comedy seems effortless. Seems. It's not easy. Sure, he was gifted, but Robin employed the comedy technique to the T. Lest we forget, the master improviser studied Drama at Julliard. He originally wanted to be an actor. Comedy, one of his natural inclinations, came as a path to stardom. John Houseman (The Paper Chase) was one of Robin’s mentors. Anyway, one can see Robin’s formal theater training when he launches into voices. Countless hours of practice preceded those gags that looked breezy. Also, most bits have these element: Attitude, topic, setup, literary device, and act out. Robin always executed his jokes precisely to the technique.

Attitude: The comedian takes the subject and applies one of these attitudes to it: Hard, scary, stupid, or weird. The attitude can be implied, but is often times stated outright.

Topic: It could be relationships, politics, religion (all commonly used), or cars, astronomy, whatever.

Setup: A statement that’s NOT humorous, meant to inform the audience what the joke is specifically going to exploit.

Literary Device: a simile, metaphor, or some clever play of words to look at the setup differently.

Act Out: Pretending to be a character with physical movement and or saying something.

Here’s one of Robin’s jokes (keep in mind it was performed in the 80s):

“Piercing is weird. I come from San Francisco where there are a lot of people into body piercing. They got to where they look like they’ve been mugged by a staple gun. Fifteen earrings here, a little towel rack there.”

I won’t belabor you with pointing out all the initial build up—most of it is obvious—but the gag is a simile or literary device (LIKE they’ve been mugged), and can’t you see him pointing at his ears and body for the imaginary piercings, using one of his thousands of voices? That’s the act out.

There’s discipline behind any art or performance that isn’t readily noticeable by the masses. If you don’t know these and you’re wanting to make a living in entertainment, and you think you're already great, try some humble pie. Learn your craft.

Another similarity. As writers, we are taught to watch word repetition. The best comics are mindful of this as well. When I go to an open mike, an obvious amateur will beat certain words to death. Profanity is common. I don’t find profanity offensive, but what the hacks don’t understand is if you lean on the F bomb in every sentence, it actually bores the audience just like using ‘was’ too much in a manuscript bores a reader.

George Carlin, one of the filthiest stand ups of all time, of course flung the dirty words around. What most people don’t know is he loved language. When he used profanity, it was always ALWAYS for effect, most of the time when he was performing an act out. George pained over every word he put in a routine and polished them for optimal laughter. If it didn’t work, he cut it. Yes, he edited just like any well-rounded author should do. Less is more.
 
There are lots more similarities between comedy and fiction. My next observations will be in the actual industry; who you know, average time it takes to become a pro, getting paid (Now that’s hilarious!), and more on the lovely subject of arrogance.
 
Evado Tsug (Gusto Dave backwards)


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Finally, a Self Help Book for Happy Losers

Ah, those make-your-life-better publications abound don’t they? Until a few years ago, arrogant snot that I was, I didn’t give them much credit. That was before my great depression. Later, some hardbacks truly ‘showed me the way’ to get better whereas others regurgitated common sense. All a matter of perspective I suppose.

It’s uncanny that this business/self-help book happened into my goofy present outlook – How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams. Yes, the cartoonist of Dilbert.
Just weeks ago, I’d finally learned to quit yearning for carrots like a toothless mule and instead enjoy the ride. You see, my goal a few years before was to become a solvent writer if not published by New York. Moderate success came along, but not to my expectation. Oh the agony! Any genre that I thought could get me across the finish line is what I wrote. Go ahead. Call me a word slut. I’ve been a very bad boy and deserve it. Anyway, the work proved to be life consuming. Rarely did I have any fun. (Insert images of Nicholson maniacally typing ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ here). I love putting words on paper but gee whiz Beav, plotting novels, a humongous undertaking, started making my pea brain anguish over the dubious payoff – not to mention the weeks or months to complete the 1st draft. No wonder writers are always depressed!

So, comedy called me again. At first, if felt like going over to someone’s backyard to play horseshoes. Relaxed. Fun. It takes place at a neighborhood bar open mike. Because I’m not good at being idle, I soon schemed up some directions for my ‘hobby’. Now let’s get real. At 50, my chances of becoming the next Bill Murray is about as likely as Donald Trump learning modesty. That, and due to my failure to snag the gold with writing, I stopped short of declaring a goal.
I think I’ve stumbled on to something.

Scott Adams is a winner. Yet his take on ‘making it’ was refreshingly contrasting to most success advice. On goals he writes:
“To put it bluntly, goals are for losers. That’s literally true most of the time. For example, if your goal is to lose ten pounds, you will spend every moment until you reach that goal-if you reach it at all-feeling as if you were short of your goal. In other words, goal-oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary. That feeling wears on you. In time, it becomes heavy and uncomfortable. It might even drive you out of the game. If you achieve your goal, you celebrate and feel terrific, but only until you realize you just lost the thing that gave you purpose and direction.”

Adams suggests other ways to better yourself rather than obsessing on the end result. A touchy-feely, roll-with-it approach is what rewarded him after years of dinking around and constantly regrouping. I should point out that he owned two restaurants, designed video games, rose to middle management in banking, and numerous other ‘attempts’ that were most impressive.
I’ve had a scattered career life also, but for far too long I was hell-bent. Now, his words are preaching to the choir.

Check out his 2 cents on persistence. God, I love this:
“The smartest system for discerning your best path to success involves trying lots of different things-sampling, if you will. For entrepreneurial ventures it might mean quickly bailing out of things that don’t come together quickly. That approach might conflict with the advice you’ve heard all your life-that sticking with something, no matter the obstacles, is important to success. Indeed, most successful people had to chew through a wall at some point. Overcoming obstacles is normally an unavoidable part of the process. But you also need to know when to quit. Persistence is useful, but there’s no point in being an idiot about it.”

My Dad was a Mr. fix-it, Grandpa a carpenter. In a respectable trade, persistence is a virtue and it was instilled in me like Adams touched on. Unfortunately, I carried it with me into the arts thinking it would guarantee progress. It took a while, but I wound up proverbially following Hank Williams’ lyrics to “scat right back to my pappy’s farm.”
Adams has solidified the optimistic view of my experiences though. With all these failures, I’m ready to play them for their true worth. I invite you to give How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big a read. You may find that you're actually a conqueror.

Gusto Dave (Taylor Swift's male opposite...Tyler Slow)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Candy

When I was a kid, you could get me to do just about anything for candy. Wasn't it like that for you too? Now, I'll do anything for a beer, but as a kid, it was candy. "Oh you want me to do 3 hours of math for a little packet of Sweet Tarts? Sounds like a deal!"

When you're a kid, you have no sense of commerce. Teachers milk that trick too, don't they? "If the students ever find out that candy is our secret, it'll topple the whole elementary educational system."

Remember those Tootsie Pop commercials where the boy asks the owl how many licks it takes to get to the chocolate, then the owl grabs the sucker, licks it three times, then flippantly bites into it? If I'd been that dude, cheated out of my candy, I'd unleashed my cat on him. "Let's see how many bites it takes for kitty to get to your chewy center, wise ass."

Not just childhood, but through my teens, I loved Snickers. The perfect junk food meal! Really satisfies. (All you old-timers will remember that ad). Nowadays, the only time I eat a Snickers is if I'm feeling insecure about my comedy. Then a Payday when I'm broke. And if I'm randy, Mounds!

Frozen mini Reese's peanut butter cups will be the death of me. The paramedics will crash in and find me sprawled across the floor with all those golden foil papers crumpled up around me...and the biggest smile they've ever seen.

Gusto Dave

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Real Man


A Real Man

                It appears America is suffering from a deficit of adult development for males. Maybe I’m wrong and just an old codger, but on several of my outings a hipster/metro-sexual/generation x dude has shown up who didn’t have a clue to some basic things that men of older generations know. I blame the parents who gave these overgrown children open checks to play video games constantly. There’s no shortage of blanket asses who can rule a joystick, but ask them to light a grill and they have to search it on YouTube.

Again, I may be out of touch, but I can’t begin to count all the times I’ve heard women complain about their boyfriends who are total screw-ups, yet their one redeeming quality is expertise in superhero movies. Ladies, Valentine’s Day is coming. If you’re about to get steady with a male unit, or you already got a Neanderthal attached to you, put them to my test otherwise you’ll be babysitting.

                Now, before you think I’m going to get all Indiana Jones/boy scout on you, which is kind of the right idea only a little too gung ho (in fact, I quit scouts because we never did anything outdoors) these are real issues that will crop up in a guy’s life, so he might as well man up for them. If he wasn’t taught by his guardians, he can learn from hairy old gorillas like me.

                Speaking of scouts, start a fire by rubbing sticks together? I’ve never seen anyone actually do it, so that’s unrealistic and like I said, too gung ho, but it does segue into the first requirement.

Build a fire using the basics: kindling, leaves/paper, wood and a match. At a party I went to, the soft cardigan-wearing host threw an armful of pine chunks into a pit, splashed butane all over it, and lit it, thinking that it would ignite into a roaring, toasty burn. To his embarrassment, his flash in the pan petered out, of course. A fire feeds on three inputs: heat, fuel, and oxygen. Our boy host didn’t see to the heat element. I hope he doesn’t struggle the same way in the bedroom! Incidentally, a lighter rather than a match is fine. It’s the chemistry that’s important for a man to understand. Oh the romantic double entendres! And back to the grill, if he’s got at least the caveman thing down of growing a fire correctly, other worlds will open up to him like lighting propane. It’s a snap.

Change a flat. You will blow a tire at some time. It’s more certain than death and taxes. It’s so guaranteed that the tools to swap it out come standard in vehicles. Not knowing how to fix a flat is like not knowing how to sharpen a pencil. The only challenge is the grit needed to twist the lug wrench… which is why it falls into guy territory most of the time. However, plenty of ladies have this skill. Yes, believe it or not, I’ve fixed flats for two oblivious dudes! Disgraceful.

Swim. For crying out loud, this planet is mostly water. To the scouts thing again, swimming is one of their badges. My son went with his pack to a pool to earn his merit, yet most of the kids couldn’t (or wouldn’t) go in the deep end. They got their badges anyway. Scary. Ladies, if you got a landlubber on your hands, no matter what his age, he can skip down to the rec center and learn floatation. There’s no shame in learning. If he refuses, go to the beach and frolic the surf in front of him with some other studs. No, just kidding. Actually, just go ahead and send him home where his mommy will kiss it and make it all better.

Tie a tie and polish shoes. These are listed together because the guy might have the neck apparel knotted correctly, but is wearing a pair of trashed shoes! Why even put on a tie then? Even old shoes can clean up nicely, so if the male doesn’t at least give these two eye-catchers attention, can you imagine what a spoiled slob he is at home? Of course kiddo needs to learn to tie a tie because—we hope—he’ll grow up and interview for a job or become an entrepreneur.

He works. It may not be the best job. Maybe he bitches about it, but a man earns his keep if he’s able-bodied. If he thinks his skills are above the job, he works anyway while taking action to get a fitting occupation. Remember Eddie, the brother-in-law from the Vacation movies? What a catch!
He pays his damn bills. This may sound like a no-brainer, but it's critical because of honor—something our society is losing. You borrow money, you pay the creditors back on time. If a goof-off has late fees all over his accounts, he’s just going to drag you into misery.

         Those are the non-negotiable expectations. I fought an impulse to list: start a lawn mower, bait a hook, read a tape measure, whittle, and some other testosterone treats, but in fairness, I felt I should stay on theme. How come there was no mention of drinking beer, tools, hunting, hot rods, boxing; all of which I and other males enjoy? Because they have nothing to do with actual manhood. You see…my father defined being a man better than anyone I’ve ever heard. At a formative age of 14, I thought masculinity was having muscles, babes, martial arts training, robust chest hair, a big ding-a-ling, you know…all that macho crap. But Dad corrected that a man simply takes responsibility for himself and his loved ones.

That makes sense doesn’t it? If you can’t swim, your dumbass can drown. Not very responsible. You need a job. It’s a good idea to be able to provide warmth for yourself and family. That car, which will pop a radial, is important for livelihood and Mr. Grown-Up can be prepared for it. Responsibility. These are the bare-bone, minimal requirements.

Lest one think I may be a chauvinist, if I had a daughter, I’d teach her these things, too—more importantly, to demand them of any suitors.

Don’t get me wrong. To each his own. Bro, It’s your business if you wear those God-awful scarves as a fashion statement, and beanies in blazing hot weather. Go ahead and stretch your ear lobes in gauges all the way down to your ass where they dangle like snot in the wind. I don’t care. Hell, I like Star Wars, belching, scantily covered women, tattoos, motorcycles, on and on. Let’s be clear, though. Those are luxuries, not measurements.

Sadly, America has raised full-grown males, handy with their joy sticks, clad in their muscle bound avatars, blowing virtual stuff up, but they missed the train out of adolescence through these delusions. It's also why texting and driving rules out junior from being a man...because it's irresponsible.
GUSTO Dave

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Necflix 2015: An All Time Great



                Rise up from your day-to-day grave, your slumber of work, eat, sleep, and monotony by joining me with this brazen look of cinema that forces you to look the Reaper in his eyes (like a good horror movie should) and make you thankful for the routine, the beaten path/rat race. Or do you dare venture into the dark twisted forest with me? I’ll protect you. Scouts honor.

                So, I’m thrilled to share this first film recommendation with you. All hail M. Night Shyamalan! Finally a perfect horror tale out of Hollywood! The Visit just made it to my top ten all-time favorite scary movies. I normally hate ‘mockumentaries’, but this is one for which I’ll make an exception. The audience gasped, jumped, chuckled, and at the end applauded. It’s next to impossible to find a writer/director who understands the genre enough to capture all the things a horror film should be: fear, believability, and a sense of playfulness, yet Shyamalan nails it this time. You know how run-of-the-mill fright shows usually have some inane violent/spooky scene forced into the first five minutes to mark its genre? Well, this doesn’t need it because the dialogue and interaction between the brother and sister, doomed to visit their grandparents’ house with a shocking revelation, steal the show, especially the boy. Every time something disturbing happens, which should alert the kids to run for their lives, it’s explained, diffusing the situation and making the trip oh so fun until…

                While we’re at it, Shyamalan’s Devil and Signs are way up there as well. No nudity and low on violence, these were attractions I was glad to share with junior years ago.

                The next thumbs up goes to The Countess starring Julie Delpy. Written and directed by this Oscar nominated, multi-talented actor (she also has composer credits!), the film is shelved as a biography/drama. Nonetheless, it’s about Erzabet Bathory and anyone who relishes an eerie story knows that Liz insanely bathed—oh the irony—in servants’ blood to prolong her youth. She made Vlad the Impaler look like the lovable Tom Hanks. At least Vlad was torturing enemies to win a war! Because Bathory’s murders were so unspeakable, there doesn’t need to be any creepy tone added. Delpy masterfully shows us a sympathetic character who, due to misogyny, descends into madness. The costumes, sets, and cast are outstanding. It also stars William Hurt and Daniel Bruhl. In spite of the countess’s sanguine rituals, little blood drips on the screen. This is a film I offer to friends who aren’t necessarily horror buffs, but enjoy a well-done, out-of-the-comfort-zone tragedy. In fact, if you love scary flicks, this may disappoint you, but considering the season, I’m compelled to praise it right here right now.

                This next one may surprise you as it’s a literary classic never categorized as horror, but Lord of the Flies the 1990 adaptation will positively raise the hairs and damn near burn them off your neck. Stephen King even cites the novel as one of his influences. A pack of kids left to their own devices in the wild, regressing into barbarism, oh yeah, this is truly a petrifying premise.

                With the passing of Wes Craven, I’d be remiss not to mention what I thought was his masterpiece. Yeah, Freddie found his way into our household lingo due to the character’s originality and wit, but The Serpent and the Rainbow is about the only zombie film I know of that stays true to the Voodoo mythology and makes you jump a couple of times. Craven goes right for the fear of being buried alive.

                Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong, if by some chance you’ve been living in a cave and haven’t seen it already, is a must. Not only is the beauty and the beast pragma compelling, but the giant insects in the canyon scene—ick, it makes me shudder as I scribe—defines this blockbuster as quintessential horror.

                For good reads, I’m delving into The Amulet by Michael McDowell who penned the screenplays for Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Although I’m not finished with it, the characterization and first eerie demise excites me to go ahead and plug it.

 
Happy Halloween!

(Spoken in my deep, crackly voice)

Ghosto Dave