Whisper, Mama, Mulberry Night. (Day 5: Horror short film October!)

We set the alarm for 3:00am this morning, but when it went off, I hadn’t slept. We’d gone to bed at 1:30am. It was like my body knew that I only had an hour and a half, so it said, why bother? We got Maman (mother-in-law) to the airport, came home, and went back to bed. Needless to say, I didn’t make it to the gym. We got up at 8:15am, but my brain wasn’t fully awake for another hour.

Thus, our 10-day house guest stint came to an end. It was a great ten days, I’m happy to conclude! It was over before we knew it.

October, too, will screech to a halt when November comes around next week. The month of horror short films will be over. There are still so many I’d like to share, and hundreds more I haven’t seen yet. My horror short film marathon will continue, but I won’t have an excuse to post my favorites here after the month turns next week.

Today, I bring you three horror shorts equaling 14:00 minutes. Going from shortest to longest, I’ll start with Whisper. It’s exactly two minutes long. Moral of this story: turn off all of your devices before going to bed.



This next horror short, Mama, so impressed filmmaker Guillermo del Toro that he was inspired to make it into a full feature film. Here, he provides an intro before the short:



Lastly, we arrive at Mulberry Night, which teaches us absolutely nothing. There’s nothing to learn from this. That’s part of what makes it scary. This could happen to any of us.



La Fin.




Pieces. (Day 4: Horror short film October!)

It’s Thursday, and I’m sure of it. Contrary to what I’d said on Facebook, Tuesday was not Friday Eve. My mother-in-law is here for a ten-day visit, and I’m frazzled. I only sometimes know what day it is.

I’m terrible at hosting house guests. I might seem okay from the outside, but on the inside, I’m frantic with the change thrown into my routine. This sort of circumstance reminds me that my routines are actually essential to my mental health. PTSD loves routine. PTSD needs routine.

However, the stress I manage to create for myself when hosting a house guest doesn’t preclude my enjoyment of said guest. My mother-in-law is adorable and endearing. She may sometimes express her motherly love in perplexing ways, but it’s motherly love nonetheless. As challenging as it can be at times, a mother’s love is phenomenal. I’ve spent the week observing it.

Maternal love is a protective love, a force unparalleled.

This brings me to Pieces, a horror short film of the supernatural variety. May I say again that I’m delighted to share these short films with you? This is what creative talent can accomplish: it can bring us important messages through art. I’m hooked on short films. It’s just pleasing when a complete story unfolds and wraps up within a well-paced 15 minutes.



La Fin.


Recon 6. (Day 3: Horror short film October!)

I have a horror-related tidbit to share before presenting today’s horror short film. A part of my brain will be indelibly scarred thanks to Engrenages season 5, episode 2. We watched this episode last night. All I can say is I hope actress Caroline Proust was paid EXTRA for what she had to endure while filming that scene. You could not pay me enough to do it.

You must know? While conducting an apartment search, a plastic bag FULL OF LARGE ROACHES fell onto her head and boiled over. Roaches crawled over the lead investigator from top to bottom, getting into her clothes and running down her back as her partner frantically tried to swat them off of her. We had to see the roaches caught and sticking in her hair. We had to see them piling up on the floor. We had to see close-up shots of roaches all throughout the scene.

I was on the floor hyperventilating and clawing at my eyes with the edge of a scarf as I wanted to watch and NOT WATCH at the same time.

Roaches are the worst of my two phobias, as many of you know, and these were the worst of the worst. These were of the sort that terrorized us during the Great Roachpocalypse of 2016 wherein hundreds (not exaggerating) of huge sewer roaches rose up en masse from our front yard lawn and hovered a few feet above the ground in a gigantic, shimmery, oily, reddish-brown cloud. The insect guy who inadvertently flushed them out took great satisfaction in this result as it exemplified how in the summer, sewer roaches will gather and hide where there’s water (the roaches had been attracted to the drain on the lawn). The lawn’s days were numbered after that. I believe we had it ripped out within two weeks of the incident.

In comparison to all of the above, I have Recon 6 for today’s horror short film October post. It’s one of the two horror shorts on my list that I wouldn’t call “horror.”

Recon 6 offers a fresh take on a very tired subject. If there’s a current “overplayed song” of the horror sub-genres, it would be this one. I used to enjoy it, and I’m still prepared for the worst, but I’ve long since lost interest in watching or reading anything of this sub-genre. That is why Recon 6 so wonderfully surprises me.




It’s actually lovely, judiciously poignant, and even metaphorical, don’t you think? Also, the story has a moral: always carry a handbag with a secure (i.e. zipper) closure.

La Fin.


The Quiet Zone and The Smiling Man. (Day 2: Horror short film October!)

In a regular cardio kickboxing practice, you sometimes have more to sweat out of your system than others. We usually carry a normal stress-load into the workout, getting to the gym eager to kick and punch the week into smithereens because it just feels so good. At last night’s Body Combat class, though, I wanted to kick and punch it clear into the next century.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had it with politics and the way the current overall situation has divided even family members. Our political climate is a wrecking ball. Fractures sustained one, two years ago have refused to heal, if not worsened… and it’s hard to imagine how a complete break can ever be mended. When this kind of helplessness builds to fury, you get an extra visceral kickboxing workout. Politics, meet my straight right/cross punch. I’m over it.

I don’t know where this little rant came from. Oh, yes! I was going to say a little something about adrenaline and how it can fire you up, whether it’s slow-burn adrenaline or the kind of adrenaline blast you get when you’re shaken.

Or when you’re trying to escape a killer such as the ones in slasher flicks like Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and their ilk.

I’ve got a good, old-fashioned slasher flick to share with you today.

Never fear: this one’s tame for what it is! Slasher flicks are notorious for their gore, but as promised, there’s very little gore in this excellent film that runs for only eight minutes and 42 seconds. I’m talking about The Quiet Zone.



To balance things out, this next short-short horror film is supposedly based on a true story… loosely based, I would guess, with the urban legend factor doing the rest. This is 2AM: The Smiling Man.



On that note, Happy Friday Eve!

Itsy Bitsy Spiders. (Day 1: Horror short film October!)

Last week at Target, a man approached the woman behind me in line and starting talking about vampires.

With childlike wonder, he spoke earnestly of “the undead.” He remembered that in Interview with the Vampire, the vampire thought it would be best to turn the child into a vampire when her mother died. He mused on the psychological implications of being a child vampire, and then he apologized for talking too much about vampires. He explained that it all started with Count Chocula cereal, which is “undead because it’s a chocolate-eating vampire.”

This had to be the best one-sided conversation I’ve ever overheard.

Well! My last post flushed out enthusiasm for horror short films, so for those of you who wanted more, you got it. (Much arm-twisting occurred.) In honor of Halloween season, every TALC blog post in October will include at least one horror short film.

To this end, I’ve had to watch tons of horror shorts. The things I do for you guys. It is, after all, my responsibility to vet the films and to share only those that I enjoy and find impressive in some way. As with all art, this determination is subjective… you may not like what I like.

Please also note:

–I’m only sharing films with no profanity, no nudity, and zero to minimal gore.

–I’ve chosen from sub-genres ranging from psychological horror to fantastical horror to the supernatural and to the psycho killer, though even in the latter, there’s not much in the way of killing.

–There are two films in the bunch that I wouldn’t even say are horror films. They might be a little dark, but they’re much more drama than horror, in my opinion. They’re just excellent, beautiful short films. I’ll indicate those when I post them.

–Whether I share one or two films at a time, I’ll keep the total viewing time to less than 15 minutes. You can watch them in the space of a coffee break.

That said, here’s today’s spooky horror short film: Itsy Bitsy Spiders.  (Moral: encourage your child’s artistic inclinations.)



La Fin.



Getting to the gym. (RANT.)

[RANT WARNING: Unusual-for-this-space ranting ahead. Turn away now if your negativity tolerance levels are maxed out.]

Driving to and from the gym today, it struck me that it’s official: downtown Tempe is under siege. Gentrification planners cannot be stopped. We’re boxed in by massive construction projects. It seems that there’s one at every intersection. Everywhere I go in my everyday life lies east of our neighborhood, but getting through downtown is insanity… all of the routes I take to reach my destinations are either single-laned or blockaded.

A Whole Foods down the street. A retirement community for university professors. Extravagant lofts, condos, restaurants, retail businesses, office spaces, parking garages, hotels, multi-purpose high-rises, just… development after development.

Historical establishments continue to get hemmed in or pushed out. This is sacrilege.


I cherish this pic I took of one of our intersections. This corner will probably be unrecognizable in ten years.


I witnessed the beginning of the gentrification surge back in the 2000’s, but now they’ve amped it up. Every week, I get numerous robocalls leaving messages to the effect of “I was driving through your neighborhood and I’m interested in buying your house.” Public meeting and town hall notices have piled up in our stack of non-essential mail. We residents are all invited to attend and “participate.”


Getting to the gym has become an exercise in frustration, if not occasional futility. I thought they were done with their development projects along the north shore of the lake, but apparently not. I usually drive east along that shore to get to the gym. I’ve tried all alternative routes. There’s no way to avoid the construction zones. Last week, I got pulled over in a moment of confusion and indecision about which way I could go – thinking too many steps ahead when I encountered another blocked road and stopped at the wrong place – and I was cited. I missed Body Pump, and now I have to go to defensive driving school. (Ka-ching!)

I made it to the gym today, though… I left 15 minutes earlier than usual. I’m prepared for “15 minutes earlier” to be “the usual” for a while. That’s fine. I don’t mind leaving early… but I do mind being stressed when trying to get somewhere.

Anyway, if you made it this far, thanks for reading. Maybe you can relate… maybe your everyday life is also impacted by urban gentrification. If you’re like me, you love your section of town and you have no intention of leaving. Silver lining: it’s always good to hone one’s adaptation skills. Adaptation, adjustment, and gratitude.


I had one foot in October before the month ended, though. (September Favorites!)

I’m excited about this monthly (September) favorites list, because I’ve got some new stuff for you… “new” as in different than the usual TALC monthly favorites fare.

(Incidentally, I’m also excited to post this list because that means it’s OCTOBER, the most creeptastic month of the year.)

The list is still mostly comprised of T.V. series and movies and food, but I’m also including some short YouTube videos for your viewing pleasure.

These videos make great procrastination material. For me, it’s more than gratuitous time-suckage. It’s brain-cleansing, and it’s actually serious business: when my head’s been submerged in the worlds of my creative endeavors, it’s good to clear it out and forget that on which I’d been focused. This allows me to return to those worlds with fresh eyes. I can then see clearly what oversaturation had concealed.

My recent – and current – tool of choice for brain-cleansing is YouTube. I need simple escapism into the creative worlds of others. My favorite YouTube videos of late are short horror films and videos of this one guy fabricating sharp kitchen knives out of materials such as tin foil, underwear, and jello.

You’ll see. I’ve provided a few of the videos. You can click to watch them right here! Down the rabbit hole with you, too.

Let’s get on with it!


1). Searching (film)



We went to the theater to see this one. Searching is a different sort of thriller, and a different sort of film in the “found footage” genre. What the audience sees on the screen is a movie entirely shown on other screens – computer screens, phones, televisions, surveillance videos, etc. It makes for some solid and unique entertainment regardless of the film’s other merits (or lack thereof). As well, I love a good mystery/thriller.


2). Ozark (S2) (Netflix)



An intense, atmospheric, dark drama/thriller, this Netflix original series is a work of art about which I cannot say enough. Jason Bateman and Laura Linney are superb in their roles – Bateman more than I’d ever seen him in any role, and Linney as per usual. Julia Garner’s performance confirms what we suspected when we saw her in The Americans: she’s an artist with a formidable future. Ozark wants you to binge-watch it, and it’s hard to resist if you have the luxury of time. Breaking Bad fans, here’s your fix.


3). American Horror Story: Apocalypse (S8) (TV – FX)



What can I say? AHS is back, and it’s more twisted than ever… and that’s already saying a lot. Thanks to its mid-September release date, October’s coming in on a delightfully disturbing note. I love it.


4). Horror short films (YouTube)

YouTube rabbit hole number one: short horror movies. You’ll run into all the horror movie tropes you expect: jump scares, white dresses, cheesy demons and monsters, tripping and falling while running away, doors that close and then won’t open, gratuitous gore, characters who make maddeningly stupid decisions, etc. I find, though, that these transgressions are often more forgivable in a film that’s less than 15 minutes long. Besides, thanks to their short duration, I know pretty quickly whether I should move on. If I make it through the whole thing and end up not liking it, I only wasted a few minutes of my life compared to two hours wasted during a full-length horror flick that never got better. When these short movies are good, they deliver what you want in horror. They’re tense and tightly-wound because they get straight to the point. Many of them are silent films in that there’s little to no dialogue, which can add to their creepiness. The whole spectrum of the horror genre can be found across the hundreds of these films on YouTube… and they’re free.

Two examples:





5). Luna Bar (Blueberry Bliss).


Luna Bar Blueberry Bliss


I wasn’t sure whether I’d include this bar on my list. It’s too sweet for my taste, but I really like its thin layer of blueberry jam. Moreover, after two test runs, I determined that this bar gets me through a Body Pump workout if for any reason I can’t have a normal breakfast. I guess it’s on the list because of the blueberry jam part and the instant fuel part. If you like blueberries and instant fuel, you might like these.


6). Nori – specifically, Kirkland Signature Organic Roasted Seaweed Snack.


Kirkland Organic Roasted Seaweed Snack (aka nori)


First off, I should say that I have a cousin to thank for my return to eating nori straight out of the bag. Like all Japanese-Americans (with family rooted in Hawaii) I know, I grew up eating this stuff. Mom used to send me this Korean version from Costco, but it’d been a while as I’d turned my salty snack attention elsewhere. I’m back!

These have no nutritional value, but they don’t contain anything detrimental, either. They’re organic and devoid of chemicals. Eating this nori is like eating air. Crispy, salty, seaweedy air.


7). Silk Dairy-Free Yogurt Alternative (plain).


Silk Dairy-Free Yogurt Alternative (soy, plain)


I cycle through yogurt phases, and I’ve been in one since September. This time, it’s this soy yogurt by Silk. I prefer the plain version because it’s the least sweet, but I often top it with granola (see below), which is sweeter. It’s a great combination, though. I love the thick creaminess of this yogurt.


8). Bear Naked Granola (V’nilla Almond).


Bear Naked Granola V’nilla Almond


This lightly sweetened granola is fabulous on the plain Silk soy yogurt. That’s why it’s on this list.


9). NYX Slide On Lip Liner (Alluring).


NYX Slide On Lip Liner (Alluring)


Remember the NYX butter gloss lip (in Ginger Snap) on my July list? This lip liner goes perfectly with it. Just thought I’d share!


10). kiwami japan (YouTube channel)

Rabbit hole number two: THIS GUY. This enormously talented guy. This guy can make a knife out of anything. (If you know me, you know that I love knives.) His YouTube channel is called “kiwami japan,” and his videos are awesome, fascinating, and entertaining. I feel obliged to show you a couple of them.


Making a knife out of underwear:


Making a knife out of tin foil:


The End, and have fun.