Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Monsters. Oh my.

Good Day to you.

I initially set out to write a blog about our cultural obsession with image and beauty. I even typed a few profoundly thoughtful and deeply insightful sentences before deciding I’m really not up for that level of deep insight or profound thoughtfulness today. It’s just too depressing as a topic to wade into very far. The water is cold and full of giant squids. We humans are a severely damaged life form indeed.

But speaking of giant squids, instead of the aforementioned topic, today we’ll be discussing my favorite kinds of monsters.  

Almost as profound and a lot more fun!

Brace yourselves!

1. Zombies

I love zombies in almost every manifestation they appear in. I love fast zombies. I love slow zombies. I love zombies created by viruses and zombies created by toxic waste. I love zombies who only eat the brains of the living and zombies who eat all the available parts of the human. I love Deadites. I love them all. I know that of late our society has been completely inundated by zombie movies and zombie humor, but I have not hit my limit yet. I have a great capacity to appreciate the carnivorous undead.

Recommended Films: Fido. Zombieland. My Boyfriend’s Back. Shaun of the Dead. Dance of the Dead. Night of the Living Dead. Braindead (aka Dead Alive).

For further info on good Zombie Movies, Click Here!

Recommended Life Changing YouTube Video: Click Here!

Recommended Reading: Night of the Living Trekkies.

2. Werewolves

I have long been a big fan of the werewolf in both film and reality. I am a little more restrictive in my wolf-man affection, and gravitate towards the traditional werewolf. I’m not so much a fan of just the shape shifter who becomes a wolf in order to fend off vampires. My personal preference is for the lycanthrope that is controlled by the lunar cycle and which can only be killed one way. Silver bullet. That’s it. That is the only way to kill a werewolf. See the epicly great film “Monster Squad” for further discussion on how you kill werewolves and to see Uncle Rico as a werewolf. And stay inside during the full moon. Trust no one.

Recommended Films: Monster Squad. Teen Wolf. Underworld.

Recommended Reading: Samantha Slade: Monster Sitter.

3. Swamp / Lagoon creatures

Swamp Thing. The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Cajuns. Giant Gators. Leeches. The Swamps and Lagoons of the world are indeed frightening places. Wear hip waders and bring your boomstick.

Recommended Films: Swamp Thing. Monster Squad.

Recommended Lifestyle Choice: Try fried Alligator Tail. It’s tasty.

4. Mythological Monsters as a whole

There are far too many great mythological monsters to list each of them individually, but I do greatly enjoy them and couldn’t leave them unmentioned. Sirens, Hydra, Minatours, Medusa, Cyclopses, Krakens, and so many more. Those Argonauts had a tough ride.

Recommended Reading: Till We Have Faces

5. Squirrels

These modern day monstrosities have never received their due as the true population menaces that they are. John Hodgman has tried to warn us. Heed the warning and be wary around these wicked beasts. They are after more than your acorns. Don’t be fooled by their froofy tails and never let them inside your homes. These carnivorous rodents are never to be fed.

Recommended Reading: An Almanac of Complete World Knowledge Compiled with Instructive Annotation and Arranged in Useful Order by myself, John Hodgman, a Professional Writer, in The Areas of My Expertise, which Include: Matters Historical, Matters Literary, Matters Cryptozoological, Hobo Matters, Food, Drink & Cheese (a Kind of Food), Squirrels & Lobsters & Eels, Haircuts, Utopia, What Will Happen in the Future, and Most Other Subjects.

6. Vampires

Again, I’m more of a traditionalist in this realm. I prefer the sunlight killing, garlic hating, bat shape shifting, blood sucking, coffin sleeping, stake-through-the-heart fearing undead fiends of yesteryear over the sparkly marble-skinned heartthrobs of more modern acclaim. Don’t mistake me as a Twilight hater since those people tend to annoy me just as much as extreme Twi-harders do. Obviously I’m not an extreme traditionalist since much of what I prefer is post Stoker, so I guess you could say I prefer the vampires as they were still popularly depicted in the 1980’s.

Recommended Reading: Dracula, by Bram Stoker.

Recommended Films: Monster Squad. The Lost Boys. Once Bitten.

Recommended Lifestyle Choice: Don’t invite handsome strangers into your home if you haven’t seen them mow their lawn during the day.

Honorable Mentions:

Trolls, Mummies, Mer-people, Jellyfish, Frankenstein’s monster, Giants, Orcs, Ghosts, Gremlins, Ghoulies, Cookie Monster, Banshees, Critters, and Giant Insects.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Top Five Dead People I Would Like to Have Dinner With

Having now discussed the top 5 living humans that I would love to have over for dinner (see my last blog post), I would like to now turn my attention to the top 5 dead humans to dine with.
The idea here is that each of these 5 individuals would return from the grave (in a decent, non-zombie, no hunger for the flesh / brains of the living kind of way) in order to spend the evening dining with me.  This is as good of a reason as any to return from the grave, and better than some.  The pool of candidates was much larger amongst the dead than it was for the living, and I had to skip quite a few noteworthy names that would have been fascinating to invite. In the end, these are the final invitees to the dinner party.
Dead Dinner Guest #1    
Judas Iscariot
Okay.  So I’m guessing the reaction at this point is mixed, so let me explain my reasons for inviting one of the most despised individuals of all time.  Mr. Iscariot is not being invited out of veneration of any kind on my part, but rather because I’d really love to hear his thoughts on what happened, leading up to his betrayal of Jesus.  There has been a great deal of speculation regarding his motivation for taking the 30 pieces of silver, and I’d like to get his point of view.  Obviously it wasn’t all he had hoped for, what with the subsequent suicide and all.  He would also be able to give a firsthand account of some of the other life and times moments in the life of Jesus, assuming of course you can trust anything this guy has to say.  Depending on his retrospective points of view, he might be asked to leave the table, particularly as he might make my third guest a little uncomfortable.
Dead Dinner Guest #2
John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck is my personal favorite author, and I would greatly enjoy listening to him talk about just about anything and everything.  I certainly enjoyed his writing about anything and everything.  I’d like to know what would be the central crisis of his writing if he were alive today.  I would love to ask what he considered to be his finest work.  Does he regret any of his work?  Who is his favorite character?  The curiosity around this guest alone could take up the entire meal.  Maybe he’ll stay for coffee afterwards.
Dead Dinner Guest #3
Mary the mother of Jesus

As mentioned, Judas might have to leave the table when this guest arrives.  At the very least, these two aren’t sitting next to each other and all sharp knives will be removed from the table.  Mary is being invited because I would be very keen on obtaining some insight into this most intimate of perspectives on the life of Jesus and what it was like to grow in the realization of his divine nature.  I’d like to know how he was perceived by his brothers and by Joseph.  This perspective on the life of Jesus is one that I find utterly fascinating, and having her attend would help provide some balance and reference to the portrayal from Judas.  It would also be interesting to find out her thoughts on the practice of prayer being focused on her in some religious circles.  A lot of fascinating rabbit trails could be followed with this guest.
Dead Dinner Guest #4
Eleanor Dare
Who is Eleanor Dare?  I completely understand your confusion.  Who was this woman, and what happened to her?  Ever since I first heard of the lost colony of Roanoke in Elementary school, I’ve been fascinated with the mystery and want to know what happened to the people.  For the unfamiliar, Roanoke Colony was one of the first colonies in America.  They were facing some hard times and their leader went back to England for supplies.  Due to a series of circumstances, he was unable to return for three years.  When he came back, everyone was gone and no trace of the colonists was ever found.  Which brings us back to the question, Who was Eleanor Dare?  Eleanor Dare was the mother of Virginia Dare, the first European child born in the colonies (that was recorded anyway, who knows about those crazy Vikings).  I’ve chosen her to be the one to tell me what happened to the colony.  With my luck, she probably got eaten by a bear while the colony was still in Roanoke and she won’t be able to tell me anything about what happened, but I had to pick someone.  I’m greatly looking forward to finding out the secret to this centuries old mystery.
Dead Dinner Guest #5
C. S. Lewis
Another favorite author, particularly for his works of Fiction.  Clive Staples Lewis barely made the cut because I feel like I already know his perspectives on so many things due to his works of non-fiction.  But then I think about books like, Till We Have FacesorPerelandraand I can’t imagine not inviting him to the dinner party.  Plus I’m sure he would enjoy meeting Mary and Judas as well, so I’d be doing him a favor, which might get me an in with the Inklings in the event they are still meeting in the afterlife.  I’d also be interested in getting Mr. Lewis’s thoughts on the recent movie adaptions to his Narnia stories and whether he ever noticed that his name is a complete sentence.
Guests held in Reserve
Any good host knows to require an RSVP.  Nothing could be more embarrassing than to have someone return from the grave to come to your dinner party only to find that they are the only guest to show up. 
With that in mind, one needs backup guests prepared to invite in the event one of the primary guests is unable to make it due to some other pressing obligation on their time. 
Reserve Dead Dinner Party Guest #1
Kurt Vonnegut
No explanation needed.  True greatness and one of my top 5 authors.  God Bless you Mr. Vonnegut.

Reserve Dead Dinner Party Guest #2
Marilyn Monroe
Why so sad?  Was it murder?  Who did it?  JFK?  Do you know about that ridiculous statue in Chicago?  Biggest regret?

Reserve Dead Dinner Party Guest #3
Assuming that he has learned English in the afterlife, I’d have quite a few questions concerning the night of his death.  As a history minor in college, I wrote an upper level paper on Rasputin’s death and it was one bizarre unexplainable event after another.  The guy just wouldn’t die.  Perhaps the mad priest could help separate fact from fantasy for me.  Plus we could share a chuckle about his portrayal in the Disney film, Anastasia, which I’m sure he finds quite amusing.  I’m pretty sure, based on pictures like the one above, that this is a guy who knows how to party.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

The five living people I’d like to have over for dinner.

I’ve heard the question before, and perhaps you have too.

"If you could choose five people to have dinner with, who would they be?"

I’ve heard the question posed as 5 living people, 5 dead people, or 5 people, living or dead. Since I have found the dead to be terrible conversationalists (not to mention their unfortunate impact on the desirability of the cuisine) I am going to look exclusively at the world of the living when compiling my perfect dinner party.

A few rules are needed going into this sort of thing, since without rules we’d all be running around in chicken suits, eating baby kangaroos.

  • Rule #1 The undead are not considered truly living, so no vampires, zombies, etc are eligible to attend, regardless of their otherwise charming nature and conversational aptitude. Sorry twi-hards.
  •  Rule #2 The invitees have to be humans. Animal celebrities need not apply, and since after rising from the dead Jesus dropped the carnal aspect of his nature, He would also be deemed ineligible since he is no longer human. On a side note to this rule, since the Christian deity is omnipresent, He will already be in attendance anyway without requiring you to use up one of the five slots, and could thus be considered a “bonus guest” at any event.
  •  Rule #3 Members of your immediate family can attend without requiring you to use one of the five available slots, so you need feel no remorse for leaving out those dearest to you.

So.  The expectations are clear. The five living humans I would invite to my dream dinner are listed below.

Guest #1
Bruce Campbell

The single greatest actor of all time would guarantee the conversation kept moving and that everyone had an amazing time. I have already read his autobiography, “If Chins could kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor” twice and will likely read it again soon. Furthermore, in the event any of the aforementioned undead (being furious at not being allowed to attend the dinner party) show up to wreak havoc, I want Bruce Campbell at my side.

Guest #2

 The greatest skateboarder of all time at my dinner table?! I had the distinct privilege of meeting Mr. Hosoi briefly a year ago at a Vans promotional event, and he was every bit as amazing as I hoped he would be. The documentary, “Rising Son: The Legend of Skateboarder Christian Hosoi” changed my life, and Christian Hosoi is truly one of the few heroes in my world. I need his help to convince my wife that I am not too old to buy a skateboard. Of course it will be a Rising Sun Hammerhead.

 Guest #3
Terry Scott Taylor
I am sure that many of you are thinking, "Who?" Of course it is possible you thought this on the previous two guests as well, and, if so, you really need to expand your horizons. Terry Scott Taylor is one of the greatest living song writers walking the earth today. I was privileged to meet him briefly at two shows in the last decade, and both times he blew me away, while I was unable to do much more than tell him my name. Terry has been the front man / primary song writer for about a billion bands since the 1970’s, brilliantly transitioning from genre to genre over the last 40 years while never flagging in writing profoundly meaningful lyrics to make the world a better place to live in. Camarillo Eddy is welcome at my dinner table anytime, including this ultimate night of feasting.

Guest #4
Peyton Manning

I love Peyton Manning. Last year was hard for me, when number 18 wasn’t continuing his march through the record books. This guy is everything a professional athlete should be. He’s been in my heart ever since he called Vanderjagt his "idiot kicker." I’m holding out hope he can stay healthy another four years and break every record currently held by Brett "open fly Jeans" Favre.

 Guest #5
Stephen King

I really struggled with this one. Most of the people I have a significant amount of admiration for are writers, but most of those I adore are no longer above ground. When considering the living authors available, I considered J. K. Rowling and Yann Martel, along with Cormac McCarthy and Margaret Atwood. In the end I decided the best compliment to the existing dinner party would be Stephen King. While not for everyone, and I certainly haven’t read each of the 5,000 books Mr. King has written, he is a true living legend in the literary field. He’s someone who can really write, but chose a genre generally populated by pulp hacks. He has dominated that genre for more than three decades now and has shown no signs of slowing down. Inviting Stephen to dinner would really cover two bases for me. I love literature and I love all things frightening. In addition, Stephen King is a huge baseball fan and a musician. I think we’d get good sports cross talk, good movie cross talk, and good music cross talk. Chemistry is vital in this kind of dinner party, and I think Stephen would round out the party nicely.

So there you have it. The perfect dinner party for living humans. Sorry I couldn’t fit you in, but which of these people could I truly bump to make room for you?

Please feel free to share your personal five.

Next up, I will likely focus on a dinner party from beyond the grave and choose the five dead people I would have chosen, were they still alive.