Musings

My Favorite Horror Movies

As I mentioned multiple times on the blog, I love classic horror movies. Way back when AMC’s Fear Fest used to begin with the black and white classics and move up to the modern-day slasher films. Sadly, they’ve cut the movie marathon down to about a week rather than a month so they tend to strictly focus on the slasher films. At least the streaming services still have them available to watch. Of course, I took a bunch of film classes where we studied the likes of Psycho, The Exorcist, and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari which gave me a greater appreciation for the classics.

My limit of horror movie watching stops after the original Scream because I just can’t stand whatever they are trying to pull with modern horror/slasher films. I mean, the modern Halloween remakes? Pass. There’s a lot I just can’t take seriously and its important to be able to suspend your disbelief to view them. With today being Halloween I thought I might share my favorite movies just in case you’re looking for something festive to check out tonight while waiting for (or avoiding) trick or treaters.

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Halloween (1978)

In 1963 Michael Myers murders his 17-year-old sister, Judith, but on October 30, 1978 he breaks out during a transport from his mental hospital. He steals a car and terrorizes his quiet hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois.

Why I Like It: It’s a fact Halloween defined the slasher film genre. It takes an already eerie holiday and elevates it with an even creepier, almost silent, killer. Despite it being over 30 years old, and there being plenty of things to laugh it, there’s still plenty of enthralling suspense. Michael Myers is a magnificent villain with an emotionless mask that depicts the soulless, evil person Michael truly is. The John Carpenter score could easily be my favorite film score. It’s hard to imagine Halloween (the holiday) without Michael Myers.

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Psycho (1960)

A secretary steals $40,000 from her employer intending to run away with her boyfriend. She becomes exhausted traveling the back roads to avoid the police, and stops at the Bates Motel. She meets Norman Bates, a high-strung young man with an interest in taxidermy and plenty of mommy issues. What could possibly go wrong?

Why I Like It: Psycho is one of the greatest thrillers of all time (not to mention one of Hitchcock’s best films). Despite the film not being as shocking as it originally was in 1960 (it genuinely made people fear showering), and being made with a low-budget, the film is still incredible today. It’s tense and nerve-wracking. One of the most iconic scenes in film history is the killing of Janet Leigh’s character paired with the extraordinary score, but I might go as far as to there are plenty of other great scenes. I also love how it was partly filmed in Downtown Phoenix giving me a little slice of movie history here in my hometown.

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Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

A young couple move into a New York City apartment building with quite the reputation, and end up with some pretty creepy neighbors. When Rosemary becomes pregnant she is isolated more and more until the truth about the diabolical cult who wants to use her baby for their rituals comes to light.

Why I Like It: Rosemary’s Baby was outlawed by my mother when I was a child, but as a rebellious teenager I went ahead and watched it. Hey, it was this or the Omen (which I’m still not able to watch again). Rosemary’s Baby is a psychological thriller about a conspiring cult who want to steal her baby but their own dark causes. As the world around her unravels the story becomes more and more uncomfortable. Roman Polanski takes the opportunity to create optimum scariness by leaving much of the storytelling to the imagination of the viewer. There’s nothing more unsettling than realizing you have the ability to create your own darkness based on a few small prompts on-screen, right?

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The Shining (1980)

A writer hoping to cure writers block becomes the winter caretaker of an isolated hotel in Colorado. He is joined by his wife and son who is prone to psychic premonitions. Danny’s visions become more disturbing as time goes on, and Jack begins to unravel along with the dark secrets of the hotel.

Why I Like It: The Shining is a genuinely scary movie, and not simply because it is the upsetting story of a man having a psychological breakdown and terrorizing his own family. It has everything including creepy kids, a set of twins, and blood pouring from an elevator. There are cinematically beautiful shots mixed with eerie and creepy ones. So many of the iconic scenes have made their way into the pop culture lexicon, and considering it took nearly 5 years to make, I’d say it was worth it. There are also plenty of conspiracy theories about the film (I didn’t really know this), but one thing I love about the film is Danny’s NASA sweater. I mean, how cool is that?

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The Amityville Horror (1979)

A family is terrorized by supernatural phenomenon after moving into a home which was the scene of a mass killing. Flies begin to swarm, the walls begin to ooze slime and blood, and a priest is called in to exorcise the home from evil spirits.

Why I Like It: Based on the “true” story of George and Kathleen Lutz (true used very very loosely) and their experiences living in the haunted home of a recently killed family. The detectives aren’t sure what caused the killing of the family, but the Lutzes and their children are menaced by the lingering evil it caused. It’s not necessarily a true classic horror film (it’s horribly rated on Rotten Tomatoes), but it’s a really great ghost story. It perfectly gives off the creepy, eerie feeling movies in this genre need to have. They need to be unsettling, and the Amityville Horror succeeds. Sure, there is something to learn here; Have you seen a listing for the home of your dreams at an incredibly low price and you have to question how this could possibly be real? Just. walk. away. I don’t know how the story claims they made it an entire month. I would have been out right at the pig with glowing red eyes.

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Poltergeist (1982) 

An average California family is menaced by ghosts communicating with them through their television set. At first the spirits are friendly but begin to terrorize the family unexpectedly. When the youngest daughter, Carol Ann, goes missing they must turn to a parapsychologist and exorcist for help.

Why I Like It: Poltergeist horrified me as a child, and strangely it doesn’t change much as an adult. Nothing is creepier than Carol Ann staring at a television and saying “they’re hereeeeeeeeeee.” What makes Poltergeist so terrifying is the normal situation where the story takes place. It wasn’t a monster filled ancient castle or a haunted mansion, it was a regular family home in California. It was just like any other cookie cutter home and town in anywhere USA. Okay, unless you count that whole ancient Native American burial ground filled with violent, unhappy ghosts thing. Those skeletons in the swimming pool is still the thing nightmares are made of.

 

 

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Life Lessons from Horror Movies

I love a good horror movie. Okay scratch that. I love a few select horror movies and none of them are recent. Trust me, just ask anyone who gets incredibly mad at me laughing the entire time because I just cannot suspend my disbelief for two or so hours. I might get into my favorites in another post because I just finished watching the 1979 version of the Amityville Horror and AMC’s Fear Fest is going to start in just a few days. Plenty to write about, right?

We all know the horror movie clichés. I mean, if we didn’t there wouldn’t have been 5, yes FIVE, Scary Movie franchise films to mock them. For example: There’s the typical don’t go camping because, of course, nothing good ever happens in the woods. Who likes spending time outdoors anyway? Another good one: Don’t be a promiscuously dressed female attempting to run away from any ghost, zombie, monster, or killer. Why would you be wearing heels at time like this? Are you serious right now? Get rid of them and high tail it out of there, girl. See what I’m getting at? So I chose 6 of the best life lessons we can learn from classic horror movies to get ourselves through the next few creepy weeks leading up to Halloween.

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Music Monday: Arcade Fire

If I had to choose one of my favorite bands of the last 15 years, Arcade Fire would probably be one of those bands. Okay just kidding. They are one of those bands. So forgive me if this post gets a little wordy or in-depth. Once you pop you just can’t stop sometimes.

Arcade Fire was formed in 2001 in Canada, and they rose to prominence with their 2004 album, Funeral. They have a core group of members who play a variety of instruments including guitar, drums, piano, xylophone, and even glockenspiel (among others). They have created a short film to accompany their album, The Suburbs, and even contributed a song to the Hunger Games soundtrack. Arcade Fire have won plenty of awards for their music and other technical/creative aspects. These include Brits, Grammys, and two members (Will Butler and Owen Pallett) even received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Original Score for Her. Everyone surely has heard of Arcade Fire or at least their most popular song Wake Up. Wake Up was featured in Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are and commercials for the NFL in 2010.

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Life Lessons I’ve Learned from The Bachelor

Ah, Bachelor Nation. The nation I have recently joined purely by accident. My friends love The Bachelor family of products almost religiously, and I reluctantly joined their Bachelorette viewing party this last summer. I was likely invited to simply bring homemade guac, but I haven’t been able to look away from this beautiful train wreck ever since. Like with most things in life we can learn a lot from The Bachelor and it’s entirely unrealistic crazy universe. Since I have never really exposed myself to The Bachelor franchise of shows until last year’s Bachelorette, I never realized how crazy things get sometimes. This lead me to discover some of the quirkier and stranger things that could literally only happen on a reality show about finding love.

Let is dig in, shall we?

Never Wear Red – On the season premiere red was the go to color worn by the women who were hoping to “stand out.” Sure, in theory this sounds like a great idea. Not all women look great in red (I don’t), and with a sea of those horrible rejected prom dresses, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. So you reach for red thinking you’re original! Red is the color of love after all! Men are scientifically proven to have a greater attraction to the color red because it makes women appear warmer, competent, and feminine. But, these studies weren’t completed in a competitive reality show environment now were they? Better save the red for the highly coveted one-on-one dates or just pull out that shark costume you’ve been dying to wear. 

If You Believe Hard Enough…Sharks Can Be Dolphins – Poor Alexis had great intentions trying to be different with her dolphin costume except she clearly never saw the Katy Perry Super Bowl halftime show and it was actually a shark. Now, for someone who loves dolphins as much as she claims, she would know that sharks have side gill slits and dolphins do not. While the nation was united in the debate of Shark vs Dolphin, watching Nick have to correct her (multiple. times.) about the costume was just about a cringe worthy as watching this grown woman wade in a pool making porpoise noises.

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Do What You Love…Someone Somewhere Will Accept It – One of the best things about The Bachelor are the job titles (99% of aren’t real jobs at all). Don’t believe me? “Free Spirit?” Is that just a title for someone who believes they can be the Penny Lane of 2017? Alexis was labeled Aspiring Dolphin Trainer while a real job that’s a pretty niche market and probably requires knowing the difference between sharks and dolphins. If anyone knows how to capitalize on the job “hipster” (another title actually used), please let me know. I could make enough to pay off my student loans. I guess it’s better than selling detox tea on Instagram.

It’s Okay to Have An Adult Nanny…In Your 20s – Sure, we call them “assistants” to give them some kind of real dignity in their jobs, but let’s change it up. Have them bring you a midday cucumber snack (whatever that is) or make you and your significant other “cheesy pasta!” Just because you’re a fully grown adult capable of making and consuming actual meals, doesn’t mean you have to.

Dates Are the Worst….Especially In Groups – It’s a well-known fact that most of the time spent on the show is done with alcohol and a lack of food. They never eat on dates (what a waste) and they spend hours filming them. Uncomfortable times exploring the wooded areas of a cabin (why) are just awkward to participate in let alone watch. Watching a disastrous beach volleyball date this season had to be the cream of the crop. Suddenly everyone is crying because they just realized what show they were on apparently? I don’t want to compete for someone’s attention and I would likely spend all my time judging everyone else instead. All I know is, if someone asks me to play beach volleyball I’m going to take a hard pass. It can’t end well. 

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Be Yourself….The Weirdest Version of Yourself – If Nick can do this “dinosaur” impression while trying to win the hearts of women, you can do just about anything. Odds are someone…somewhere is going to find you to be incredibly charming. Being normal is overrated. It takes a lot to be yourself in this world but we all have something that magnetized us to our ideal mate. It’s probably dinosaur imitations…so start practicing.

Always Take Naps – Naps are proven to increase productivity which is why many workplaces now implement nap rooms for the employees. There’s never a problem a nap can’t solve. According to Corinne, once you achieve your goals (getting a rose) you no longer have to follow any rules or general human decency, and should nap instead. Was not showing up to the rose ceremony kind of dick move? Of course. But I mean…Abraham Lincoln took naps…

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When all is said and done there is a lot to learn from the Bachelor. You can take down a girl simply by saying she’s not here “for the right reasons.” Chris Harrison lives on island time and shows up casually to earn money by making statements once an episode. But most importantly, always tell the person you have feelings for that you have feelings for them. There’s always a chance someone else will get to it before you and you should never let that happen. Never settle and never give up. When all feels lost just remember Nick has been “looking for love” on television four times now.

Food Trends

Just like with most things in life there are trends and food is another one of those things. I hadn’t even considered it before until there were thousands of avocado toast Instagrams and fancy mixology cocktail bars began appearing. There are plenty of things that will rise in popularity of the course of this year and many things that should disappear this year too. Don’t believe me? Just ask Bon Appetit the omnipotent source for all things food.

I’m no expert on food. I can cook it. I eat it quite a bit. I always like to try new things. But a few of the things on their list I just can’t get behind.

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  • Nutritional Yeast – A condiment that is most commonly sprinkled on popcorn and is quickly becoming a substitute for parmesan cheese. I just can’t get behind giving up delicious parmesan cheese for a sprinkle of yeast.
  • Adventurous Yogurt – Yogurt made from sheep’s milk, coconut milk, and even water buffalo milk is just a little too adventurous for me. I think I’ll stick to granola and plain ol’ Greek yogurt.
  • Charcoal – Charcoal may be a great remedy for food poisoning and stomach ailments, but I think it’s better suited for giving my pizza that perfect charred crust.

How about those 2016 food trends that need to go? 

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  • La Croix – Okay, I get the cult following, but it just all tastes the same to me. What am I missing?
  • Smoothie Bowls – So you put some fruit in a bowl? Did you just make a smoothie and not have a cup around? They sure are colorful, but what is the purpose?
  • Zoodles – No. I’m a big fan of noodles. If I’m gonna eat pasta, I’m gonna eat pasta. I’m not gonna trick myself into eating veggies in place of noodles to be healthy.

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Winter Wellness: Let’s Organize Some Stuff

It’s been mere hours since Christmas ended, and that means we are currently existing in the “between holidays limbo.” That cool 7 days where the floor is filled with remnants of holiday gifts and it’s just too early to put the holiday decorations away. But in a few days 2017 will be here which means a fresh start. I’ve never needed a giant reset button as badly as I do now.

One of the simplest ways to embrace a fresh start is to purge the old and organize the rest. There are a few items, areas of the home and life that can create a perfectly clean slate for 2017. 2016 has been a rough one so it’s not really a hard decision for me to want to pretend it never existed. I mean, was there an option to sleep through the year? I should have taken it.

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That said, here are a few of my favorite things to organize right before the new year.

  • Decorations + Wrapping Paper. For whatever reason every time there is a birthday or holiday requiring gifts, I end up purchasing new gift wrap, tissue paper, etc. Toss out the rolls with minimal paper left (or remove & fold the remaining paper for later use), fold the tissue and other items, and toss them all in a clear plastic bin easily accessible for later. Or if you want to get fancy, check out the Container Store’s Customized Gift Wrap Center.
  • Beauty Products. With the new year fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to get rid of all the make up and beauty products you no longer use. Many, if not all, products have a shelf life which should be followed because of things like bacteria. If you don’t know the exact date or months of ownership of a particular product, but think you’ve had it long enough, pitch it.
  • The year in review. At the end of the year I’ve accumulated a years worth of concert tickets, movie stubs, and other odds and ends in random places. Keep the important (to each their own) and toss the rest. For this use storage boxes or simple clear plastic containers to keep things in one place.
  • Clothing. Between all the gift cards received during the holidays and the sales it might be fun to load up on new additions to your closet, but that also means getting rid of things you no longer wear. It may feel a bit strange to do this mid-season, but odds are if you haven’t worn your old clothes yet, you won’t. Donate them and pass them on to others who could really use them.
  • Goals + Resolutions. Yep, it’s that time of year again. Just a suggestion, but don’t make resolutions. Set goals. Monthly goals, daily goals, or even yearly goals are much easier to reach plus you’re less likely to drop them a week later. Avoid the disappointment and self-hatred by being realistic.

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Winter Wellness: How to Beat the Winter Blues

As the popular song suggests, the holidays are often described as the “most wonderful time of the year,” but this time of year, and through the winter, there is an increase in seasonal depression. Despite nearly every street corner being illuminated with beautiful lights, blissful music playing from every store, and cheesy heartwarming movies on the television, there are plenty of reasons the holiday season isn’t cheerful for everyone. I know this first hand.

The end of the year is often met with deadlines, money concerns, common illnesses, and reminders of the things and people we’ve lost when gathering with our families for festive celebrations. It’s not just a holiday depression, but can lead to months of the blues due to weather and the lack of sun. There are plenty of things one can do to avoid the holiday and winter blues. Set realistic expectations for things you want to accomplish, don’t attempt to take on too much (my biggest problem), and take care of yourself even if it’s a few minutes a day.

One of the most important things, I think, is not comparing your life to the lives of others especially around the holidays. With social media its key to understand people are only sharing the happy (or seemingly happy) moments of their lives. They too go through rough times just not on display. We share the things we want people to see, and keep everything else to ourselves. While looking at people’s families, vacations, or even their gifts, keep in mind that doesn’t make your existence or life inadequate.

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There are a few things I like to do for myself in order to beat the winter blues. In addition to what I’ve listed below, you can increase your vitamin D with supplements, eat all the bread you want (it keeps blood sugar levels regular because it breaks down slowly), or just brighten up your space.

  • Be active. Going to the gym or on a simple walk can feel like a pain in the ass sometimes. I usually hit the gym at times when there’s no one there (use Google’s peak time indicator for wherever you go to find the best time), because I get to have time to myself without someone using the treadmill right next to me (my biggest pet peeve). If you don’t feel like hitting the gym, go for a walk or even try yoga. Just 35 minutes to an hour can improve the symptoms of depression and increase your confidence levels.
  • Eat chocolate. Consuming chocolate releases a temporary euphoria like feeling in the brain leading to a decrease in anxiety and feelings of depression. Whether its hot chocolate or baked in a treat, chocolate is readily available this time of year so there’s no excuse not to have some.
  • Listen to happy music. During the holidays classic carols and radio hits can bring along memories of happier times, but for the other months of winter, choose cheerful music that makes you happy. Dancing and smiling (even forced) can bring upon a faux feeling of happiness which eventually the brain begins to believe is true. I’ve even created a playlist for cheering up.
  • Help Others. Get outside and volunteer. When you’re feeling like your life isn’t going the way it should or you’re bummed out, give your time to others who are having it a little worse. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or animal shelter, give your latte money to one of the Salvation Army bell ringers, or deliver an entire bag of non-perishable food items to a local food bank. Just the feeling of knowing you made someone’s life a little better can lead to a better mood.
  • Unplug. When viewing everyone’s lives on social media gets to be too much, sign out. Sure, it’s easier said than done (I know this personally) but sometime’s it’s better for your own mental health. Taking a break from the news, photos, Snapchat filters and updates of everyone’s little move will feel great and it will all still be there when you decide to return. Recharge your brain and put it to better use elsewhere.

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