Newsflash: I’m a Scaredy Cat

Newsflash: I’m a Scaredy Cat

This October my grown-up brain re-learned something it had long since forgotten: darkness is fucking scary. One day I went into the garage and flipped on the light, only to be greeted by a popping noise and a hideous smell like burned rubber. Somehow the big fancy tube light out there had blown something or other. It wasn’t just the bulbs, there’s something wrong with the wiring (the wiring in this house is messed up, thanks to the former homeowners who had lots of weird shit done. There are three separate light switches in two rooms that turn on the living room light, for example). So we turned off the breaker to the basement/garage to avoid burning the joint down. That was several days ago and we are still waiting on an electrician. The cat’s food bowl is in the basement, and I feed her every night before we go to bed. Going down into the pitch-black basement, toting a flashlight, gives me some serious willies. Everything from the couch to the game table to the laundry room door looks terrifying in the dim glow of a flashlight. I dump food in Mei’s bowl and skitter back upstairs as fast as I can, and I am not ashamed to admit it. So this entire post is not just about my inane life, here’s a short film where the only villain is the darkness- and it’s creepy as hell. Happy Halloween month, friends....
Film Review: Lust in Hell

Film Review: Lust in Hell

<!– P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } –> Lust in Hell (2009) is a misleading title. While Hell appears in the movie, and there’s plenty of lust, the lust never actually occurs in Hell. In fact, nothing really takes place in Hell. It kind of pops in and out over the course of the movie, but never really takes center stage. Honestly, such a titillating title is almost a guarantee of disappointment, and Lust in Hell is a disappointment. The film opens with Koto, a young woman, escaping from a psychiatric facility to visit the place where her parents died in a car accident a year earlier. While there she sees Shinji, whose girlfriend was killed in the same accident, getting ready to off himself by jumping into traffic. She persuades him to give up his suicide plan by telling him he won’t go to Heaven because it doesn’t exist; all that awaits those who die is Hell. This dire warning is said in a cute, squeaky voice befitting a talking guinea pig. Shinji logically decides to take this charming person home with him. They almost do it, but Shinji decides he’s not ready yet. Later that night, they both see the apparition of his dead girlfriend. It turns out that after the accident Koto gained the power to see rifts in this world that open into Hell, and her presence attracts the ghosts of those trapped there. Shinji’s friend/colleague calls him to come to a meeting with his boss. It turns out that Shinji and his boss are ex-cops, and now they kill people for a reason. Shinji’s had...
Frederik Pohl 1916-2013

Frederik Pohl 1916-2013

(cross-posted on my writing blog) Waaaay back in high school I read a story in one of those ‘Best of…” anthologies. It was about a future where the world population had exploded, and the United States had implemented a very unusual method of birth control- although the control was enacted well after the person culled had been born. It was a powerful story, and I remembered it. I couldn’t recall the title or the author, but I remembered every detail of the story. One day I told my husband about it. He pulled up Google- for some reason in all this time I had never thought to consult the Internet- and found the story: “Spending a Day at the Lottery Fair” by one Frederik Pohl. I was thrilled to have the information, and even more thrilled when, a few days later, he brought me a collection of short stories called “Pohlstars”, which included “Lottery Fair”. I re-read the story, and it was everything I remembered (and a little more, to my now-adult brain). And then, because you can’t read just one, I kept reading. I read the heartbreaking “The Sweet Sad Queen of the Grazing Isles”. I moved on to his most famous novel, Gateway. The incomparably weird “Starburst”. The epic “The World at the End of Time”. The sharp, cynical “The Day After the Day the Martians Came”. And the rest of the Heechee Saga, oh yes. When I discovered that Pohl had a blog, I read that too. As a writer and editor who had been working for the better part of the 20th century, he shared...
A Non-Gamer Goes to Gencon 2013

A Non-Gamer Goes to Gencon 2013

<!-- P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } --> Our time at Gencon was cut woefully short this year due to lack of babysitting (one grandma just started a new job, and the other is a teacher…yeah, I understand Gencon’s overlords don’t want to hold it the same weekend as PAX or another big con, but if maybe they could hold it sometime that is not the week school begins in my state, that would be great). We arrived Friday evening and left Sunday afternoon. Because of this the weekend felt rushed, since we had to pack four days’ worth of awesomeness into two, but hey, short Gencon is better than no Gencon. Since we didn’t get to Indy until 6, I assumed we’d be waiting in line a while to pick up our badges at Will Call. I figured the locals would be getting off work and coming to grab their own badges…but I was wrong. There was no wait. Not even sixty seconds. Not even ten seconds. We walked right up and got our stuff with no trouble. The guy in the booth turned out to have gone to our alma mater as well, so we chatted about that (sorry I didn’t get your name, cool friendly guy!). <!-- P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } --> We were meeting a friend for dinner, but he wouldn’t arrive until 9, so we wandered around the convention center a bit, discovering the arcade room, which was packed with elderly arcade games including The Simpsons and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and others my husband knew but I didn’t because I never played many...
Tarsem & I: A Love/Hate Story

Tarsem & I: A Love/Hate Story

I have a weird relationship with Tarsem Singh, the movie director who is usually credited as ‘Tarsem’ because it sounds more chic. I love him occasionally, I hate him mostly, and I still get excited and hopeful when I find out he’d doing a new movie like this one. (also, ‘panopticon’ is a cool word) Tarsem started out in music videos, including the pretty neat one for R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”, which features lots of people with wings and Michael Stipe looking depressed. (they seem so surprised when an elderly angel falls into their house; I guess they’ve never read any South American magical realism) Then he moved on to movies, beginning with The Cell in 2000. It’s a film about a serial killer and the psychiatrist who literally moves into his head to figure out where his next victim is. It’s not a great movie, but it has some interesting visuals, some gorgeous costumes (shut up I’m a girl) and Tarsem shows us what the inside of a horse looks like, which is thoughtful of him. It helps that Vincent D’Onfrio is the bad guy and he’s completely fucking crazy anyway. All in all, The Cell was a 90-minute Nine Inch Nails video. Not surprising for a music video director, and it showed promise. The next Tarsem movie I saw was sublime. The Fall is about just that- literal and figurative falling. A movie actor who’s been paralyzed in a stunt gone wrong befriends a little girl who is healing from her own fall, and spins an epic tale for her to pass the time (and for other,...