Category Archives: blog posts

A little ray of sunshine…

I’ve been sorting out my finances all morning, which, even when you’re totally in the clear is pretty stressful, and can be a downright Sisyphean task if you’re an un/and/or/underemployed bohemian type like me…

Once I’d done, the moment I sat down to relax, Hunter snuggled up close.  Sophie hopped up to play with me and cheer me up, but she saw that I was kinda tired, so she just pranced a bit and cuddled up on my other side.

I have the most awesome dogs in the world.

In which I make a PSA…

So, I had my H1N1 vaccine today, and man is that one ooky virus, even with the killed vaccine, I felt pretty off for a couple of hours.  That said, I urge you to get your flu and H1N1 vaccines if you haven’t already, it’s not too late.

Now, you’re probably healthy, and thinking to yourself ‘I never get sick’ and sure, you probably don’t.  That said, being vaccinated isn’t just good for you, it’s good for your community.  When we’re all vaccinated, fewer of us get sick, and those of us who are particularly vulnerable are less likely to come in contact with an infected person.

It’s not just good public policy, I strongly believe it’s an integral part of the social contract.  Vaccines are safe, effective, and at $15 at your local drug store, they’re a heck of a lot cheaper than missing a week of work.

Some people feel vaccines really are risky, but to that I say; life is risky, so make smart choices.  It’s safer to be an un-vaccinated person in a vaccinated community than vice versa — but even with a low risk of infection, the risk associated with vaccines is even more negligible.  So get vaccinated!  If not for your own benefit, then for that of the community.

Good Eats!

I fell in love with Jaques Pepin when he said, quite without irony, that it was alright to use canned beans in certain recipes — and then proceeded to open a tin and do just that.  Great chef, more concerned with showing people how to make good, simple food, than with all the intricacies of soaking overnight and growing your own.  I thought it was pretty fabulous.

…well, this evening I finally saw something to top even that.  Anthony Bourdain, cracking and devouring a small mountain of shellfish, using nothing but his hands.

Now, this comes with a story.  Many years ago I had a French boyfriend, and said boyfriend and I sat down to a seafood dinner with Mint.  You should know that I love fresh shellfish with a passion unrivaled by any other foodstuff.  After watching me hand-crack and devour my own small mountain of shellfish, my boyfriend turned to Mint, saying, “If you want to know how a woman is in bed, watch her eat.”

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch…

…you must first invent the universe.

Today is National Pie Day, (who knew?) and so here’s a recipe for apple pie which even the cooking impaired among you can make.  I, being clever and industrious, typically have a Sara Lee cherry pie in the freezer for just this sort of emergency, and so that is what I shall be making today (as, in addition to being clever and industrious, I am also lazy)…  Mm, pie.

…a delightful little story.

“Eric” by Shaun Tan.
Go on, it’ll take you five minutes to read it, and it’ll surely brighten your day.

Gore Vidal! (is my hero)

Gore Vidal

The onus of interviewing him fell to the editor of the LA Times book review, and he made the mistake of trying to talk politics.  I’m not sure fiction would have been much better, but only a madman argues politics with Vidal.  Even with rather well-researched notes, Vidal still left him totally speechless more often than not.

The poor fellow was doomed before he even began, but all things considered I thought he held his own remarkably well — I told him so as he was making a rather hasty exit — after all, he did manage to form complete sentences throughout, which seems to be rather a laudable achievement in this particular circumstance.

It wasn’t that Vidal was particularly vicious, certainly he was mild in comparison to how he behaves with people he dislikes.  It’s just that he’s absolutely impossible to argue with; he’s so well-versed in history and politics that listening to him talk is rather like being hit with an encyclopedia, his replies brook no reproach.

Not to mention that he’s effortlessly venomous, intellectually terrifying, and has that natural, imperialistic grace that reduces mere mortals to dust.  Even if he’s rather tired these days, and doesn’t bother to hide the fact that he’s in a wheelchair, he’s a giant of a man.  There’s a reason he got a standing ovation just for coming onstage.

Would you like to play a game?

Went to Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights tonight… Substantially less crowded than last year, the longest line we saw was about half an hour, compared to last year’s two and a half hour wait. It was much the same as it always is, though where last year was the reign of BBQ-scented cannibal scenes (human does not smell like that, but I digress), this year was The Year of The Chainsaw. Just about every other actor had one. Vroom, vroom!

The main attraction was Saw. I’ll admit I liked the first film, though I think it would be substantially scarier in a Hitchcockian cut. Lots of innately terrifying scenes — I felt at a slight disadvantage having not seen any of the sequels, but I understand they really don’t have a plot… It’s interesting to watch how what terrifies us as a society changes, in the 80s it was stranger danger, and now it’s serial killers with dirty needles.

Also lots of Saw stuff on the Terror Tram, which is usually the best attraction, and also the least attended. I dunno why, I guess because it doesn’t sound cool… It’s a huge outdoor walk-through, there’s always the Bates Motel and an airplane crash, and then this year there were also coal miners from My Bloody Valentine, and some horrifying monster sound in the bushes that actually kind of got under my skin.

The Halloween maze was really quite good. It was very home-like in the beginning, which was a wee bit creepy, to say the least. The “Oh No I’m Being Murdered” scenes were novel if only because I haven’t seen one of those in a haunted house in a decade or so. The swinging dummies in dry cleaning bags at the end was… Well, being smacked with a dummy in a dry cleaning bag will definitely put you off your game, lemme just say that.

Finally there was My Bloody Valentine. Haven’t seen it, though I understand it was pretty gory. All the actors were dressed as zombie miners or something, and the maze itself was modestly claustrophobic, but what really got me? The whole thing reeked of coal tar. It started out modestly unpleasant, but by the end I was practically gagging. Incredibly effective atmosphere, shame it wasn’t actually scarier.

This is Halloween…

Jack Skellington has decorated the Haunted Mansion for Christmas!
disney-jack

The whole place is decked out in garlands, candles, cobwebs and jack-o-lanterns…
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They’ve added all sorts of lovely details all over the place…
disney-lamp

Spooky, isn’t it?
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There’s even a Christmas scarecrow!
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…and they’ve brought a pile of gifts, just for you!
disney-mansion

The Hollywood Tower Hotel at Disney’s California Adventure even gets in the spirit.
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The LA Day of the Dead

The LA Day of the Dead at Hollywood Forever was Saturday.  It’s always a magical night, harmonious and happy and just really peaceful.  The Fairbanks crypt was all lit up, and so lots of folks were coming up to just hang with Pete and Jayar, aka Doug Sr. and Doug Jr.  Nobody really knows who they were, one fellow guessed “captain of industry” but that’s alright.  It’s a comfortable place to sit, along the ledge of the crypt, with a wonderful view of the reflecting pool and the rest of the cemetery, and there’s a quiet little marble bench behind.  I actually got a little misty-eyed as we were leaving, I imagine they must’ve been so happy.

(The photo is actually NOT the Fairbanks crypt, but is from CreepyLA’s flickr set.)

…and because I am a self-aggrandizing twerp, here’s a link to the LA Times article on the Day of the Dead that I was interviewed for a few years ago.

Haunted Houses!

We went to Shipwreck at the Queen Mary this evening…   They make a big deal about how scary it is, but I was disappointed.  It’s nothing but cheap plywood, terrible props, and really long lines.  Oh, and it’s possible that security outnumbers the patrons.  Crummy atmosphere.

Among the locals, it’s a widely held belief that the Queen Mary IS haunted, so it’s freaky enough on its own right, and several of the mazes are on the ship, so it has the potential to be absolutely terrifying.  If they just dressed up the halls, threw in a few ghostly actors here and there, it would be nightmarish.  I’m un-flinchable, and I’m not all that superstitious, but I suspect that would have even me climbing the walls to get out.

There actually were moments where I almost freaked out — but it was in hallways, stairwells, during the “empty” times when they hadn’t done anything but, say, change the lighting, and perhaps neglect the paint for a few years.  I was far, far more terrified of the ship itself than anything they’d done to make it “scary.”  Alas, so much potential, wasted.

+ + +

On the completely opposite side of the spectrum is the Open Grave at the GardenWalk in Anaheim.  It’s very understated, so much so there’s almost nothing to it.  It relies entirely on atmosphere and your own ability to see horrifying things in the shadows.

The haunt starts with a few minutes in a tiny, totally dark room, lots of banging and crashing against the walls — It sounds tacky, but it sets the dissonance for the next part, which is nothing more than a large open area filled with stage fog.  At first I wondered if they’d lost their budget, it looked like it was going to be superbly disappointing.

There are no walls to lean on, so one is already a bit creeped out, and then out in the open one feels tremendously exposed.  It’s very dark, and we spent whole time feeling like we were lost.  The actors grabbed every chance they got at a flinch, lots of noise makers and people coming up out of nowhere, but it really worked.