Category: General

31 Days of The Best Halloween Movies — Countdown:  Day 1

In order to really get into the Halloween spirit, I always find myself wanting — scratch that — needing to watch movies that put me in the mood for all kind of ghouls, goblins, ghosts, zombies, and whatever else makes we wake up shaking in the middle of the night.  So this year, for every day in the month of October, I will post a film that is in my top 31 of the scariest of all time, starting with the least scary right down to what really makes me need a nightlight.  However, be warned — they are the 31 scariest of ALL horror movies ever made so none will be an easy viewing experience.  Keep in mind that I;  A) Am not including any films with any sort of funny aspect to them and B) Some younger viewers may not be able to fully appreciate the older films no matter how aweseomely awesome they are.

So, without further ado, the first film you should watch to get thyself in the Halloween mood is:

House of Wax, 1953

First of all, it’s Vincent Price people.  Vincent Price!  However, the story is fantastic as well as the special effects.  For those of you who grew up with no idea what these guys had to go through before CGI and color films — educate thyself.  This movie is a classic that every horror fan should have in their repertoire.  The rest of you who do have an idea just how wonderful this film is — do yourself a favor, rent or download and enjoy!

Reposted from The National Review

9/11: The Case for Controlled and Sustained Rage

Every year on the eve of 9/11, my wife and I show our older kids pictures from the day. And every year I feel a fresh sense of rage at the attack. It’s a puzzling phenomenon of politically correct American life that almost immediately our media and national leadership began a long process of emotional de-escalation, a process that continues even after eleven years of war and continual, wholesale atrocities from our enemies. While nothing could shield the families of the fallen from the pain and reality of their loss, the networks “spared” the rest of us the worst of the images. And they “spare” us still today.

I’ve said this before, but if there is one lesson I learned during my own deployment, it’s that our enemy is far more evil than most Americans imagine. Their evil should trigger rage — a controlled rage — and it certainly does for our soldiers downrange. A morally depraved country attacked like we were on 9/11 would lash out wildly and indiscriminately, annihilating its enemies and anyone in their proximity. A morally weak country would shrink back, timidly, complying with terrorists demands. But our nation has largely responded in the right way, with a righteous anger that has in part sustained us through eleven years of continual conflict — a war that represents the most focused application of violence in the entire history of warfare.

Every September 11, I’m proud of my country. I’m proud of the men and women who sacrificed themselves on Flight 93 — our first counterattack in the War on Terror. I’m proud that the entire day of September 11, 2001, was marked and characterized by profound examples of American heroism, compassion, and decency. I’m proud that our nation has fought longer — with an all-volunteer military — than the jihadists ever thought we would (turns out we’re not so “soft” after all). And I’m proud that throughout that very long war, we’ve been neither depraved nor weak, but have focused our attacks on our enemies while sacrificing to defend the defenseless, at home and abroad.

On this eleventh anniversary, take a moment to view once again the images not just of that terrible day but also of the war that has followed. And when you do, remember that you are right to be angry — and that anger should renew your resolve.

Right now, a lot (and I mean A LOT) of you are wondering what the heck was going on when you turned on the nightly news or your favorite internet web site and saw footage (albeit from far, far away and partially blocked by a damn tree) of one man literally eating the face off of another man.  I know this is in no way my usual post, but I felt it was important to gather as many facts and links in one place considering my interest in the case (Horror in the news) as well as provide you with as much pertinent data as possible.

Now don’t go getting the idea that you can see the attack occurring on the footage, because you cannot.  What you can see is a very far removed camera that barely shows some shadows moving until the police show up.

If you are of the inquisitive type such as myself, you can also Google and find the incredibly gruesome and heartbreaking photos of the man who was attacked by this supposed “zombie” on the internet pretty much everywhere.  Although they are available on the internet, I refuse to provide them here not just due to my feelings for the victim, but also, if you are easily upset (or let’s face it — just a human being who would like to sleep at night) you should consider the fact that once you see something, you cannot un-see it.  The poor victim in this case was a man named Ronald Poppo.

I have to admit when my sister told me about this incident, at first I thought it was a prank.  However, it also harkened my brain to almost very zombie book I have ever read:  the protagonist hears or sees something that seems like a zombie attack somewhere in the world, but it is so far away that the person simply ignores the news and then bad things happen.  This is where fact and fiction digress.

When it comes to deciding whether or not a Zombie-apocalypse is upon us or not, we really do need to consider many factors before we head down into our doomsday shelters or start hoarding canned goods and ammo.  Here are just a few ideas as to why this may have happened and you can choose what you believe:

  1. Nothing To See Here Folks.  Nothing really happened except one man was on dope and then attacked another.   Yes, the attacker ate the victims face off for a full 18 minutes and not only swallowed said flesh but growled at the officer who tried to stop him.  It was just a side effect of some drug (bath salts – see “drug” link below).  (Note:  My vote is NO on this one)
  2.  It’s Armageddon.  Yes, there are those out there who believe this is God’s heads-up that the End Is Near.  Also, supposedly, the attacker was a bible worshiping guy (who took his Bible everywhere — ummmkay) who simply left one morning to go to a street fair where, he simply snapped (or was invaded by demons — you decide) and decided to take all of his clothes off during a 3 mile walk, attack a random homeless man and eat his face off (including his eyes, nose and mouth).  Sorry, but my God is NOT okay with this type of behavior — warning of the EOT’s or not).  (Note:  My vote is NO on this) one)
  3. The News Has It Right:  We can all choose to believe what the news said as well as videos we saw via the internet,  but unfortunately we still have a poor man who did not deserve what happened to him and some mighty strange goings-on.  I don’t have a better answer than any of you as to how a person not only gets high enough to bite, but slowly bite, chew and swallow another living persons tissue.  I am sorry, but I do question how one drug can make someone who had no predisposition to do such a thing suddenly do so.  (Note:  My vote is MAYBE on this one.  I don’t know enough about PCP and LSD to comment honestly)
  4. There is More to the Matter.  Look, I am not going to say that I believe that zombies are roaming the streets of America (or anywhere else for that matter — yet) but I will say that I believe that there could be a drug combined with something else (i.e. mental illness or another drug) out there that could cause this type of behavior.  In fact, as much as I would like to lay blame for this on one thing, I cannot.  Seems to me that there are probably several factors that lead to this horrific incident and yes, I believe the government or local police know more than what they are telling us about this drug and it’s reaction with other factors.  Call me a conspiracy theorist all you want, but if I had to guess, yes, there is a drug of some sort involved, but the answer to this horrifying act does not lie with only what we hear on the news.  Once the toxicology reports come out they will most likely blame this “bath salt” phenomena.  Although I belive this to be a good tactic in terms of not panicking the pubic or creating copycats, I also firmly believe we have a right to know what the hell is going on in cases like this.  (Obviously, my vote is YES/PROBABLY on this one)

* There was also another incident of cannibalism recently in Maryland, but the victim was already dead when the cannibalism occurred.  A very different MO than the one in Miami, so in my opinion, they are not connected.

**If you would like to donate to Mr. Poppo’s recovery fund, you can do so here.  This poor man deserves so much help so if you can, please do so!

Lucy — April 2000 – December 2011

I know everyone who owns a pet feels that their pet is the best ever.  Fact is, they are right.  Pets bring us so much joy and unconditional love that they put our human ability to give and show love to shame.

Lucy was quite frankly one of the best people I have ever met.  Yes, I said people.  I don’t care that she had four legs and fur, she had a smile that could light up a room and a capacity to show love that makes calling her a person almost a dig on her.  She never stopped wanting to give that love and trying to do so, even when she was afraid or hurting.  Whenever I had to descend into a dark, scary place (like the basement), she always went first even though she was just as afraid as I, and she bravely lead the way into the unknown.

There was no human or animal that she didn’t love — I even caught the mailman petting her over the fence one day.  Whenever other animals in the neighborhood came by she always ran to greet them, her size surely scaring their owners.  However, as fast as I ran to intercept and allay their fears, she was faster — not wanting to waste one second to play and say “hi” to the animals and their owners, who then invariably looked at me like I was nuts for trying to stop this ball of love from getting to them in the first place.

She was also the peacemaker, always ready to charge in between two angry cats to break up a fight.  When she did this (and she did it often) she never barked or showed anger herself.  Instead, she simply walked between them, gave each cat a loving look that said “Come on guys, enough okay?” and just like that the brawl was over.

So today, as those who love her say goodbye (for now) to Lucy and worry that maybe we missed a little treat we could have given her, just one more ear scratch when the thunderstorm scared her, or one more dip in the bay, it behooves us to remember that we surely must have done something right, for God gave her to us for a time and she chose to stay as long as she could.

We love you pumpkin, and thank you for everything.

The Walking Dead, Season 2 Premier 9pm EST

Took long enough, but it’s finally here!  If you haven’t seen it yet and are planning to watch it later via DVR, TiVo or whatever, skip this update and check in afterwards.  I don’t want to ruin anything for you, so you have been warned.


Our Season 2 The Walking Dead premier (1.5 hrs) opens with Rick atop a building speaking into a walkie-talkie.  For those of you new to the series (or just forgot, like I did) Rick regularly gives his status and various updates to the walkie-talkie in the hopes of reaching Morgan Jones.  Who is Morgan?  Morgan saved Rick’s life in Episode 1 of Season 1, when Rick woke up in the middle of zombie armageddon.  However, when Rick set out to find his wife and son, Morgan and his son Duane decided not to travel with Rick.  Rick tells Morgan to check his walkie-talkie everyday at dawn, so if he ever needs help or wants to join Rick, he and Duane can do so.

So, the gangs all there, minus of course, Jacqui, who decided to stay behind at the CDC when it exploded in the final episode of Season 1.  Since the major players are there, so are their issues from Season 1.  Rick still has no clue that his wife Lori was er, “intimate” with Shane while Rick was presumed dead.  We also have Andrea — who was going to stay and get blown up also at the CDC until Dale threatened to die with her — and she is none to happy with Dale for in effect, guilting her into living.  We also see Daryl, who in Season 1 was an awful lot like his racist, psycho big brother, save T-Dog’s life and risk his own life in doing so.  So in essence, we had a lot of interpersonal catching up to do here for a much-needed reminder for Season 1 fans and a solid introduction for newbies.

As you might have guessed, all of this didn’t happen while they were sitting around waiting to be zombie chow.  Nope, rather while on the road to Fort Benning, they first run afoul of a “herd” of zombies headed for, well, no one knows really.  As the herd is almost past them, little Sophia gets attacked by a zombie and bolts into the woods.  Most of the episode has the gang looking through the woods in search of her, interspersed with personal issues of course, and ends with Rick’s son Carl getting shot and no still sign of Sophie.  We don’t see how badly Carl gets shot or by whom, but call me an optimist — I am willing to bet little Carl survives.

All in all a great opener, even if a lot of it was for the purpose of playing catch up.  The tense atmosphere is just as awesome as last season, as is the acting and special effects.  As for the special effects, there is even one scene that is so visceral I almost got a little nauseous.  In other words — it was perfect.

Terra Nova, Fox 8pm EST Mondays

Hopefully, if you were interested in Terra Nova you watched the season premier this past Monday (9/26/11).  If not, keep in mind that this review will give away a lot of the plot so if you don’t want spoilers, just skip to the last paragraph if you want the up or down vote.

I decided to watch the 2 hour season premier of Terra Nova purely out of curiosity, as the idea of starting civilization over again by going back in time definitely appealed to me.  What tempered my enthusiasm, however, was that sinking feeling that producers were going to use a really good idea and turn it into two hours of telling us how we are mucking up the Earth and eventually we will destroy it.  However, now having actually watched the show, I have to say it was pleasantly light on the “people suck” messaging .

Now, there is an element of “the Earth is doomed and it’s all our fault” in the very beginning of the show, but it doesn’t last long and that is not the focus.  Rather, the show follows the Shannon family in the year 2149, struggling to deal with living in an overpopulated world (they even have limits on how many children you can have, in this case 2 — which unfortunately isn’t a new concept) and where the air is so bad, people have to wear small gas masks when outside.  Sounds a little preachy so far, I know, but the thrust of the first third of the show really is on the family and the fact that they get caught having violated the child policy.  Anyway, off dad/Jim (Jason O’Mara) a former cop, goes to prison for the child law violation.

The rest of the show picks up 2 years later with dad still in the clink, and with mom/Elizabeth (Shelley Conn) and the two approved children having been picked by the government to go to Terra Nova.  They don’t get into what Terra Nova is explicitly (you have to hear the announcements in the background) but you figure out that somehow they have found a rip in time which allows people to travel back in time to Earth (before all the planet-ruining people came along) but in another time stream.  I won’t belabor the whole normal time steam versus new time stream thing because I have a feeling we will hear a lot more about that in future episodes.  As for the third, unapproved child and dad, well yada, yada, yada, he escapes from prison and manages to get the entire family onto/into Terra Nova, from which there is no way to get back to 2149.

I was surprised — in a good way — to see that a large portion of the premier takes place in/on Terra Nova.  This is important because they needed to and did set some expectations for potential trouble in their new-found utopia.  Problems on Terra Nova include, but are not limited to:  man-eating dinosaurs (some of which didn’t exist in our real past, but remember, this is a different time stream so they can really make up whatever they want), big ass bugs, another settlement of people (called Sixers, that also came from 2149) that for some reason (the premier didn’t explain it yet) are at odds with those living within the gates of Terra Nova, and some mysterious etchings on some rocks outside the gates of Terra Nova.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable and solid premier.  The characters are likeable, the sets were beautiful both in 2149 and on Terra Nova, and the story is engaging.  These days, it gets pretty hard for me to enjoy shows and movies that spend most of their (and my) time preaching about one issue or another and don’t spend enough time on the characters and the story.  I am happy to say that is not the case with Terra Nova and I am glad I watched it.  Sure, the entire concept is built around people being the cause of the Earth dying a slow and painful death, and I am pretty sure we will hear some more of that in future episodes, but it’s not so over the top that I couldn’t enjoy it.  I mean, after all, all doomsday scenario shows and movies have to have a bad guy, and I can live with it if it’s us once in a while, so long as the story is a good one, and in this case it is.

Tech Note:  There are a few technical flaws with the show, such as a few windmills and solar panels being able to generate LOTS of electricity for their futuristic medical equipment, the entire village and whatnot, but again, I can overlook that.  In fact, I giggled quite a bit during one scene, when you first see a windmill (it’s literally one lonely windmill in the background) and I imagined it crying “Help me!  I can’t do this all by myself you idiots!”  Anyway, it’s Sci-Fi and sometimes you gotta let fiction be fiction and just enjoy the show.  


By Leonard Pitts Jr.

Originally published September 12, 2001, this letter described perfectly what so many of us were feeling but unable say on September 11, 2001.  For this American, these words still hold true today. 

They pay me to tease shades of meaning from social and cultural issues, to provide words that help make sense of that which troubles the American soul.

But in this moment of airless shock when hot tears sting disbelieving eyes, the only thing I can find to say, the only words that seem to fit, must be addressed to the unknown author of this suffering.

You monster.  You beast.  You unspeakable bastard.

What lesson did you hope to teach us by your coward’s attack on our World Trade Center, our Pentagon, us?

What was it you hoped we would learn?  Whatever it was, please know that you failed. Did you want us to respect your cause?  You just damned your cause.

Did you want to make us fear? You just steeled our resolve. Did you want to tear us apart?  You just brought us together.  We are a family.

Let me tell you about my people. We are a vast and quarrelsome family, a family rent by racial, cultural, political and class division.  We’re frivolous, yes. We’re wealthy, too, spoiled by the ready availability of trinkets and material goods and maybe because of that, we walk through life with a certain sense of blithe entitlement. We are fundamentally decent, though–peace-loving and compassionate. And we are, the overwhelming majority of us, people of faith, believers in a just and loving God.

Perhaps you think that any or all of this makes us weak. We are not weak.  Yes, we’re in pain now. We’re still grappling with the unreality of the awful thing you did, still working to make ourselves understand that this isn’t a special effect from some Hollywood blockbuster.

Both in terms of the awful scope of its ambition and the probable final death toll, your attacks are likely to go down as the worst acts of terrorism in the history of the United States and indeed, the history of the world. You’ve bloodied us as we have never been bloodied before.

But there’s a gulf of difference between making us bloody and making us fall. This is the lesson Japan was taught to its bitter sorrow. When roused, we are righteous in our outrage, terrible in our force.  When provoked by this level of barbarism, we will bear any suffering, pay any cost in the pursuit of justice.

In days to come, there will be recrimination and accusation, fingers pointing to determine whose failure allowed this to happen and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. There will be heightened security, misguided talk of revoking basic freedoms. We’ll go forward from this moment sobered, chastened, sad. But determined.

You see, there is steel beneath this velvet. That aspect of our character is seldom understood by people who don’t know us well. On this day, the family’s bickering is put on hold.  As Americans we will weep, as Americans we will mourn, and as Americans, we will rise in defense of all that we cherish.

Still, I keep wondering what it was you hoped to teach us. Maybe you just wanted us to know the depths of your hatred.  If that’s the case, consider the message received.  And take this message in exchange: You don’t know my people. You don’t know what we’re about. You don’t know what you just started.

But you’re about to learn.

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