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Showing posts from January, 2009

Do You Like Hitchcock?

With my 30th birthday coming up on another Friday the 13th, and a modern remake of Friday the 13th coming out that day, I think about the one film franchise that I have stayed mostly away from: Friday the 13th . Yes, me: a regular contributor to, fan of Halloween and Student Bodies , fan of all of the Saw movies, and an overall fan of scary/horror/thriller/slasher flicks have really zero to no interest in checking out all of the ones in the franchise. After re-reading Noel's excellent film-by-film review from two years ago, I don't believe I'm missing much by making this decision. I've only seen bits and pieces of the first three Friday the 13th movies on TV. I saw most of the first one dubbed in Spanish, and various scenes from the others on Spike in English. Even in Spanish, I was shocked to see how shamelessly Halloween and Psycho were cribbed from. From the point-of-view shot from the killer's perspective to the similar music cues, I h

Not on ice

I'm sure friends of mine up north will laugh, but just the hint of ice here in Dallas makes people panic. And, after ten years of living here, I'm trying to not be one of those people. I don't seem to recall ice that much growing up in Houston. I remember a few times that school was cancelled because of ice, but never as much as in Dallas. I wasn't aware of lake bridges freezing over. I wasn't aware of overpasses freezing over. When my commute to and from school involved none of that, that sort of stuff never came onto my radar. When I moved to Fort Worth, that changed. I remember very, very well when I slipped on an iced-over step en route to my first class of the day. It was Thursday, and Thursdays were the days when I was in class literally between 9:30am and 5pm. With the edge of a step hitting my lower left back, I thought I would temporarily be in pain. When I could barely sit still during my first two classes, I took some aspirin before my third class, a clas

This week in book-writing advice

Time for another round of book-writing advice. These pieces of advice are never meant to be the word on book writing. Rather, I'm sharing some of the many things I learned while writing Post , and what I'm currently experiencing with When We Were the Kids . An outline is a great thing There's nothing more frustrating than a bunch of general ideas in your head and a blank page staring back at you. What's helped me is writing out a very, very loose outline. Instead of having the daunting task of writing lengthy paragraphs, it's OK to start out with single sentences or just words. More people are going to see the final results, so you can really do whatever you want that gets you to the end result. In the case of the Braid chapter in Post , I thought off the top of my head a handful of things I wanted to explore and/or talk about in the chapter. Words like "Age of Octeen," "break-up," "reunion" were written out and filled in much later. I

Book Commentary

Remember when I said I wanted to record a commentary track for POST ? Remember when I hoped it would end up online? Well, Eric was kind enough to host it, and it's available to download and it's split up into eleven MP3s. Enjoy!

Don't spoil

After watching the season premiere of LOST , I believe I have another resolution for this year: stay away from reading major spoilers about upcoming shows. Seeing the first two episodes knowing only their titles and that I should rewatch "Flashes Before Your Eyes," I was quite impressed by the whole experience. And I'd like to keep it that way for the rest of the season. Since my rabbit ears don't pick up ABC very well in digital as its (soon-to-be-gone) analog signal, I decided to see the two-parter-with-recap at a local theater. Filled in a room with other fans, there were so many curveballs thrown that I was happy people didn't moan and groan and/or storm out. Like season four's opening episode, all those who've been patient with the show get rewarded. My resolution is to stay away from detailed, beat-by-beat rundowns of upcoming episodes. Despite defending reading spoilers before, I think at this point in the show (five seasons in), it's nice to st


Like yesterday's post, I thought I'd share some movies that I hope (and want) to see first-run in a theater. Like previous years, the list is short for a number of reasons, and the list to see DVDs is always long for a number of reasons. I hope to see Watchmen in its full glory on the big screen, mainly so I can understand why this is such a beloved story. Its trailers look promising, but I seem to be in the minority as I've tried to understand the greatness of the graphic novel. When I read it a few years ago, its artwork and story just screamed 1980s, especially the Cold War/nuclear war angle. Hopefully Zack Snyder's take will shed some light on what I'm not understanding. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a given mainly because I've enjoyed all of the previous ones, and have seen them all in a theater. I'm sure my parents will venture out to the theaters to see this as well. Hands down, the trailers for Black Dynamite have me excited. No, I'

I still listen to CDs

Blame downloading all you want, but I still like to listen to a lot of music, whether it's on CD or MP3. I've never liked the sound of vinyl, so don't consider me one of those people who's gone back to vinyl because CDs apparently don't have any value in the digital age. As I've said before, MP3s and CD-Rs give me an idea about whether or not I'd like to buy the physical CD. If anything, MP3s have given me the chance to get a good listen before I drop some good money on an album. Lately, I've been really enjoying the Killers' Day & Age record, but frustratingly so, the band continues to make fantastic singles and so-so album tracks. What I have been enjoying immensely is Glasvegas 's self-titled debut album, which was just released stateside. Never did I think doo-wop and girl group sounds and beats would mix so well with shimmering guitars. Two records I will probably buy without road-testing on MP3 are Zao's Awake? and Cursive's M

Cool Kids

My second column for Late Night Wallflower is now online. This time, it's about division in sub-cultures. Something I’ve wondered about ever since I started going to punk and hardcore shows is where a sense of elitism comes from. Yes, I know humans are humans, but one of the main draws of punk and hardcore is the sense of finding a crowd when you don’t think you fully belong anywhere else. Read the rest here .

Two more pieces of (writing) advice

Time for some more advice on writing a book. These two ideas come from talking with a couple of people who have just begun writing their own books, and I hope you can find inspiration as well. Imagine your ideal reader This is crucial because it affects the overall tone of your book. Are you writing a book for people who know everything about the topic or know nothing at all about the topic? Know your limits, and don't be afraid to explain yourself. You have plenty of space to explain. For Post , I wrote it in a way that people my age would understand, but not strictly for people my age. Whether you put on a show for Hot Water Music at a rehearsal space, bought Braid's first few 7"s by mailorder, saw At the Drive-In in a small VFW hall, or saw the Promise Ring's "Why Did We Ever Meet?" video once on 120 Minutes , this book was written with those kinds of people in mind. I did not want to come across as one of those elitist, "since you weren't there y

Three more reasons to watch Doomed Moviethon

I wrote three more movie reviews for Doomed Moviethon , and they are now online. This time, three lost classics from the 1980s. On Night of the Comet : When a comet wipes out most of the earth’s human beings, what are the few survivors to do? Moreover, who are the survivors, and why did they survive? ’84’s Night of the Comet tackles the effects rather than trying to understand why the earth’s population was reduced to only a few. And the few who are undead zombies are not the worst threat. Read the rest here . On The New Kids : If director Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th was his take on Halloween and Psycho , then The New Kids was his attempt at Straw Dogs . Read the rest here . On Chopping Mall : What happens when robotic security guards meant to protect the innocent go bad? Jim Wynorski's Chopping Mall addresses the possibility by using the slasher flick formula, but in a way that’s more entertaining than an attempt to rip off Halloween . Read the rest here .

To cook or not to cook

Once again, some recipes come my way, seem possible to make with my small cooking skills, and I'm set to at least try them once. Stevie's food blog has a recipe for Vegetarian Tacos and a recipe for Black Bean Quesadillas. I'm intrigued, and willing to try to make them, even though I could fail miserably. When I last checked in with my ongoing quest to cook, I tried to make breakfast tacos. My attempt to make tortillas was a complete bust, but I finally made scrambled eggs. Yes, all these later, I had yet to make scrambled eggs. So, there was an upside. Understand that I refuse to adopt the single male lifestyle of eating out all the time. I like eating at home more than going out, but I'm not the biggest fan of making too much food. To be on the safe side, I tend to buy frozen food like pizza, soup, and lasagna. I still like that food, but sometimes I want to try something. I won't be disappointing anybody, unless the house stinks up and the stink won't go aw

You're Getting Married

I give some major kudos to Noel for checking out something I was very curious about but had yet to spend much time or money with: Rhino's reissues of the Replacements' catalog. Unlike Rykodisc's reissues from just a few years before, Rhino reissued all of the Mats' records, from Sorry Ma to All Shook Down , coupled with bonus tracks on each one. Sounds like a perfect jumping-in point for me, right? Well, I think otherwise. The Replacements came onto my radar when one of the music critics at the Houston Chronicle praised them in a small write-up. Like how I got into a lot of the influential precursors to Nirvana, I collected information here and there through Rolling Stone and Guitar World articles, and the Trouser Press Guide to '90s Rock . There would be months, even years, before I would ever hear this stuff. It seemed to me, while Paul Westerberg was putting out solo records on major labels in the 90s, higher praise went to his pre-major label releases with

Kinder Trauma

Kudos go to Richard for introducing me to a site called Kinder Trauma. Collecting stories of people's experience with movies, TV shows, and music videos that scared them when they were kids, the site is something plenty of us can relate to. For me, three memories immediately pop into my head. And looking back on them, I now have a better understanding of why so many people were traumatized by the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz . Even though my babysitter assured me that Murder, She Wrote was not a scary show, I was frightened by the opening scene of an episode. Showing a burglar entering a house, I don't seem to recall much after that, other than being very scared and not wanting to watch any more. Seeing E.T. in the theater was an experience. And not a fun one. I really, really wanted to see the movie, but some of the trailers before it freaked me out. I don't remember any of the names of the movies, but I hope they weren't for The Thing or Blade Runner . Cert

Free Run

I was recently challenged to say a few things about Wii Fit , the exercise game for Nintendo Wii that is harder to find than the system itself, more than "it's awesome." Well, in the words of Adam from Midnight Madness , never walk away from a challenge. As someone who saw video games develop through the 80s and 90s, never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought I'd play a video game to get a decent workout. Well, on days like today, when it's just above freezing and unbearable to run outside, I turn to our Wii and do some exercises. I do the Free Run game for a good thirty minutes, roughly running five miles. This is a decent comparison to my forty-minute, three-mile-run I usually do outside. I prefer the run outside, but not every day is like this past Saturday, where it was in the mid-seventies and sunny. I have played a number of Wii Fit 's other games and have enjoyed the hula hoop one the most. By the end of the thirty or so minutes, I feel like I


I often find that when you make lofty New Year resolutions, it's only a matter of time when they fall through. So, I've decided to keep these resolutions small but attainable as I turn 30 this year. --Stockpile more ideas for stories in When We Were the Kids . --Keep exercising the rate that I'm at, and not be afraid to work a little harder. --Do something different on vacation compared to what I normally do when I get home. --Try to watch all the regular DVDs I own on my Blu-Ray player and flat screen TV. --Read more books; so I can catch up with all the books I've bought in the last few years.