April is Halfway to Halloween Month!

P.S. from my last post: I kept my senses open wide last week, and on Friday, a week after my ghostly encounter, I felt confident in my impression that the ghost on the premises isn’t a malignant one. I feel that he simply wants his existence to be acknowledged. Noted, ghost. Noted.

This brings me to tonight’s post! This month I’ve been sharing my celebrations of spring with you, and today I’m sharing my celebration of April’s other face: HALFWAY TO HALLOWEEN.

In the full flush of this season of fertility and growth, we meet the halfway point to the season of the spirits and the dead that we honor, and it couldn’t be a more perfect conjunction of celebrations, in my humble opinion.

And so, my fellow spookily inclined darklings, we have before us a magnificent and benignly perverse second half of the year ahead in the arena of entertainment. For one thing, Shudder (streaming service) is celebrating Halfway to Halloween Month with a flash sale: 50% off six months! If you enjoy horrors, thrillers, and suspense and you’re not already subscribed to Shudder, now may be the time to consider doing it. Shudder will hook you up with their vast library of uncut, ad-free popcorn series and flicks, including Shudder Originals that you can’t watch anywhere else.

[This post isn’t sponsored by Shudder, but I would be remiss to keep this sale from you.] 

 

 

In case you’re wondering what to watch on Halfway to Halloween date nights, I have a couple of recommendations. The first is a movie available on Amazon Prime Video, and the second is a series available on Shudder (as a Shudder Original).

1). Movie: I See You (Amazon Prime Video)

2). Series: Creepshow (Shudder Original Series)

I’ve included Creepshow in a “monthly favorites” post in the past. It’s back with season 2! There are three season 2 episodes up so far. They’re all good, but the one I want to recommend to you today is season 2’s episode 1, “Model Kid/Public Television of the Dead.” Creepshow episodes stand alone, so they don’t have to be watched in order. Each episode is a double-feature. You’re basically getting two horror shorts in one episode, each story about 30 minutes long.

With that, I’ll leave you to your day or night or whatever the case may be where you are. It’s Sunday morning here in Arizona, and I know of a sweet desert tortoise who’s waiting for me outside.

Until mid-week!

Killer jeans!!! SLAXX (A review, of sorts. No spoilers.)

I sat down to watch Slaxx a few nights ago with great anticipation. I didn’t know much about the movie, but I did know that its main character is a pair of jeans.

Slaxx is a comedy horror flick, and it’s a Shudder Original. If you’re not subscribed to Shudder (horror/thriller/suspense streaming service) and you’d like to watch a pair of jeans murder its way through a trendy and pretentious retail chain-store, you can sign up for a 7-day free trial to get your fix!

How did I like it? Well, my favorite comedy horror film is now an official triple-tie: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, Shaun of the Dead, and Slaxx.

I couldn’t begin to imagine how this story was going to play out, and I didn’t want to… so I avoided watching the trailer beforehand. This turned out to be an excellent decision. I highly recommend bypassing the trailer, and that is why I’m not inserting it here as I normally would. Like revenge, Slaxx is a dish most delightful served cold, without warning or preview of any sort. I watched the trailer after I watched the movie, and I’m glad that I did it that way. The trailer gives away too much! You want to be caught off-guard by the jeans and how they behave.

Needless to say, much in the way of creativity went into this film.

Like most comedy horrors, Slaxx is decently gory; I’d give it a gore-score of 7. Also like most comedy horrors, though, the gore is so outrageously over-the-top that it can’t be taken seriously. It minimizes its own impact with its absurdity. I found this to be especially true in Slaxx, because its extravagant gore is inflicted by, you know, a pair of jeans.

At the same time that I wasn’t taking the gore seriously (I was actually laughing and cringing at the same time), I was taking the film, itself, fairly seriously. There’s much more to Slaxx than carnage inflicted by possessed jeans. It’s satire with a message. The jeans have a backstory. Everything makes sense in the end.

Slaxx hooked me from the start and held my attention as it moved briskly from scene to scene. I loved it. It’s my idea of a perfect date-night popcorn movie. (My cat was a wonderful date.)

I can’t think of what else to say about Slaxx that wouldn’t ruin it for you somehow, so I’ll stop here. One thing that might be useful to know is that it’s short at only 1 hour and 17 minutes.

Oh! Make sure to watch through the credits at the end. Heheh.

Waiting for the wind to whistle. (September Favorites!)

Wednesday’s turning out to be a good new blog day, despite the fact that I work out on Wednesday evenings, same as I do after work on Tuesdays. Here’s my theory: Wednesday is easier because I do my Wednesday workout “with” Jessica, my friend/workout partner, on the phone. The set time for our Monday/Wednesday workouts is 5pm, but even if we push it to 5:30pm some days, I’m still more than likely going to be finished with the workout by 6:30pm. Wednesdays are structured.

Tuesdays and Thursdays, however, I’m on my own. What happens when I don’t have anyone expecting me, waiting for me, counting on my being there? I get sucked into doing other things, and next thing I know, I’m starting my workout at 7pm or later. I don’t manage my time well here at home, evidently.

Wednesday and Saturday nights, then. After so many years of Tuesday/Thursday posts, that’s how it’s shaking out here in TALC in the wake of going back to work and switching all of my workouts to evenings. I’m fine with it. I like it. I hope that you do, too.

~~~~~

We’ve arrived at the end of September, and my next post will land on the 3rd of October. OCTOBER, guys, as in SHORT HORROR OCTOBER. (!!!) It’s finally here! I’ve got a lot in the way of short horror to share in the weeks to come.

For this list of little things that I enjoyed in September, I only have one shareworthy film, and there were no new streaming series (as I continued watching Shameless throughout the month).

As for food, now that I’m looking at the list, I see that many of these items were products I’ve included in past “favorites” lists. I’m posting them anyway, though, since it’s been a while, and I enjoyed them quite a bit this last month.

[Side-note: My friend Caroline has been texting in efforts to convince me to rest my hand and to NOT post tonight! She’s straight-up trying to sabotage this post by making me laugh, blowing up my phone to keep me from writing, and letting me know that I’m a terrible mother because Nenette is being neglected as I sit here writing this. I told her I’d try to keep it short.]

Let’s get into it, then!

 

1). Host (Shudder Original film)

 

 

You might remember that I was impressed by the effectiveness of this low-budget horror flick… I mean, it actually scared me. In case you missed it, you can click here to read what I had to say about it. Highly recommend!

 

2). Kashi Whole Wheat Biscuits, Autumn Wheat (cereal). (Vegan)

 

Kashi Autumn Wheat cereal

 

(Repeated item.) Since I enjoyed this cereal throughout September, it’s worth listing it again. I love this simple cereal… it’s organic, vegan, and just barely sweet.

 

3). Frozen mango chunks. (Vegan)

 

Frozen mango chunks

 

(Repeated item.) I still enjoy eating frozen mango chunks straight out of the bag for a healthy and refreshing dessert.

 

4). Taylor Farms Sweet Kale Chopped (salad) Kit. (Vegan – without the included dressing)

 

Taylor Farms Sweet Kale Chopped (salad) Kit

 

(Repeated item.) I’ve been eating a lot of this salad as of late. It’s still my favorite pre-prepared chopped salad! I use olive oil and balsamic vinegar instead of the dressing provided in the kit, so it’s vegan and I can really taste the fresh ingredients: broccoli, green cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, radicchio, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries. Delicious!

 

5). American Flatbread Vegan Harvest frozen pizza. (Vegan)

 

American Flatbread Vegan Harvest frozen pizza

 

This frozen pizza is hands-down my favorite vegan cheese pizza. My most-favorite vegan pizza is Amy’s No Cheese, but if I’m going to get a vegan cheese pizza? THIS ONE.

 

6). Siete Grain-Free Nacho Tortilla Chips. (Vegan and Paleo)

 

Siete Grain Free Nacho Tortilla Chips

 

I expected to see a list of chemicals when I picked up these chips to inspect the ingredients panel. Instead, I saw:

Cassava Flour, Avocado Oil, Coconut Flour, Nutritional Yeast, Tomato Powder, Chia Seed, Sea Salt, Citric Acid, Garlic Powder, Jalapeño Powder, Onion Powder, Serrano Powder

My friends, I will have you know that I bought these chips and ate the entire bag myself in one weekend. I’m not sure how I feel about that. They’re not terrible for you, but they’re not exactly nutrient-dense, either. They’re a not-terrible junk food, I guess I’d say… and they’re super tasty.

 

7). Urban Decay Stay Naked Correcting Concealer. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

Urban Decay Stay Naked Correcting Concealer

 

I was going to re-purchase my NARS concealer when I finally ran out, but in the time it took for me to use it up, NARS started selling their products in China. Consequently, NARS products are no longer cruelty-free. China requires that products are tested on animals!!

One of the things I appreciated about the concealer was how perfectly the shade matched my skin tone. I found a shade in this Urban Decay line of concealers that matches well, too, and I like the formula as much as I liked NARS’… plus, it’s vegan! If you’re looking for a good vegan and cruelty-free concealer with a wide shade range – and if you’re okay with a pricier concealer – I recommend this Urban Decay line.

 

8). VEBE shock-absorbing fingerless gloves. (Ordered on Amazon)

 

VEBE shock-absorbing fingerless gloves

 

I ordered these gloves in the interest of protecting my troubled left hand at work, and I liked them so much, I bought two more pairs. One, I use for lifting weights, and the other, I keep as a clean pair for doing things in the house should I need hand protection. That extra pair also serves as a back-up. The great thing about these gloves is their shock-absorbing gel pads. They do help! They’re easy to clean, too… I throw them in the washing machine once a week, and they come out like new. I don’t know about cycling/mountain-biking (for which the gloves are marketed), but they make for great everyday work gloves and weight-lifting gloves.

That’s all I’ve got for the month, my friends. Happy OCTOBER Eve!

 

 

 

The hostess with the mostess: HOST (A review, of sorts. No spoilers.)

Merry Sunday!

I’m writing this half a year after my first post about COVID-19. We’re six months into the pandemic, and what do we have to show for it? A horror movie set during this same pandemic, that’s what. Host is the first movie I’ve seen – maybe it’s the first one, period – that was filmed and set during the COVID-19 pandemic, entirely centered around it.

 

 

Host is an impressively effective found-footage horror film. It’s about six friends who want to hold a séance. How can a séance take place during quarantine, you may ask? Over Zoom, of course. It’s a simple yet interesting concept. What happens when you enter into a Zoom séance is that you can see what’s going on with each participant. And what happens when you’re on your laptop at home watching the movie about said Zoom séance is that from your perspective, it looks like you’re involved, too. Your screen looks exactly like it does when you’re taking part in a Zoom gathering.

The movie, a Shudder original, was made entirely during quarantine. It was written, filmed, edited, etc. in a hurry, and on a low budget. It was shot over video chat, with each actor being directed remotely. The actors had to do their own stunts and practical effects. They played characters with their same names, which likely made it seem more real to them. They had a script, but they also had ample opportunity for improvisation as they responded to each other in the Zoom meeting. Apparently, some of the lines were redacted in the actors’ scripts (below their own lines), so they didn’t know what was going to happen next.

It did seem chillingly real. A found-footage film with more practical effects than special effects/CGI amounts to a pretty damn authentic horror movie experience. Being alone in a dark house in front of my computer watching a séance unfold over Zoom made it easy to forget that I was watching a movie, and you know that things went disastrously wrong as the séance got underway. It was an intense 57 minutes. I spent much of it clutching my throat and holding my breath.

My plan was then to take my shower and write this post. Instead, I watched an episode of Shameless in order to crowd Host out of my head so that I could get into the shower, and then a smothering sleepiness overcame me, and all I could do was crawl into bed. Nenette was somehow inspired to alternately run and trot through the house after her ball in erratic bursts of energy, occasionally yowling and slamming into things in the dark. I fell asleep with my nerves frayed.

Host works. I was alone, but I actually saw it “with” my friend Caroline. (It was our first horror movie “date” since 2019!) We got on the phone and counted down to hit “play” at the same time, and then we hung up. We got back on the phone afterward and found each other to be equally spooked.

It was good. It was really, really good, and easily my favorite movie of 2020 so far. If you’re into horror, I highly recommend that you sign up for Shudder’s 7-day free trial just to watch this film, if you’re not already subscribed.

I’ll leave you with the trailer:

 

 

Have a great what’s left of your weekend, friends.

 

 

June 2020 Favorites!

My “favorite little things” in June were basic in the best of ways. I’ve got a horror film and a horror documentary series on Shudder, two comedic series on Netflix, and a sci-fi anthology series on Amazon Prime, all original projects on their respective streaming platforms. I also included my current favorite bread (for the food part) and the fragrance I’ve been wearing (for the product part). That’s it. The major favorite of the month is my new job, but I’ve spoken enough about that, and we’re here for the small stuff. Right? Yeah.

Without further ado, then:

 

1). Z (Shudder Original Film)

 

 

This movie actually succeeded at creeping me out a little bit. It pleased me in this regard. If you subscribe to Shudder and you’re in the mood for a basic popcorn horror movie, you might want to try this one.

 

2). Never Have I Ever (Netflix Original Series)

 

 

Our favorite laugh-guarantee comedy series (Black-ish) is on hiatus until 2021. Our second-favorite (Bob’s Burgers) is on hiatus until the end of September. In the middle of this dry season, we landed on Mindy Kaling’s Never Have I Ever. Turns out that it’s a brilliant and highly bingeable comedy series. A grand discovery!

 

3). After Life (S2) (Netflix Original Series)

 

 

We waited long enough to watch the second season of Ricky Gervais’ Netflix series After Life, and it was worth it. It’s hard to be disappointed by a smart dramedy woven through with acerbic wit and irreverence, if you’re into that sort of thing, but still, it was delightful to come back to After Life and find that it’s still brilliant and enjoyable.

 

4). Cursed Films (Shudder Original Series)

 

 

Shudder’s documentary series about horror films that seem to be “cursed” (suggested by mysterious, ominous occurrences during or around production) makes for some fascinating, thought-provoking entertainment. It all comes down to whether or not you believe in coincidences, or, rather, whether you want to believe in them.

 

5). Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (Amazon Original Series)

 

 

This sci-fi anthology series features stand-alone episodes based on the work of science fiction author Philip K. Dick. I found several of its episodes to be impressive, but one episode in particular actually terrified me: “Safe and Sound.” As far as I’m concerned, this sci-fi story amounts to straight-up horror. If you have an Amazon Prime subscription, I recommend that you search for Electric Dreams and take 50 minutes to watch just this one episode, “Safe and Sound,” even if you’re not really into sci-fi or horror.

 

6). Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sesame Sprouted Whole Grain Bread. (Vegan)

 

Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sesame Sprouted Whole Grain Bread

 

There’s not much to say about this bread except that it’s been my favorite Ezekiel bread of late. I have it every day with peanut butter and jelly for lunch. Incidentally, it’s interesting to realize that the one consistent thing in my professional life – the one thing that never changes – is that my lunch of choice is peanut butter and jelly. It doesn’t matter where I work, or what I’m doing… if I have a job, I have a pb&j for lunch. I don’t even think about it! I just enjoy it, and it’s satisfying.

 

7). Pacifica Island Vanilla Perfumed Hair and Body Mist. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

Pacifica Island Vanilla Perfumed Hair and Body Mist

 

I happened by a travel size of Pacifica’s Island Vanilla Perfumed Hair and Body Mist, and it’s since taken the place of my longtime favorite vanilla perfume by The Body Shop. I don’t know. It’s got some sort of floral note going on that I love.

That’s really all I have to say about that.

…and now, it’s July. June went quickly. It’s bewildering that any month in this bloody year of 2020 could go quickly, but June did… on my end, anyway.

Happy Friday Eve, everyone!

 

 

 

Creepshow (2019) PSA, and “The Coatmaker” (Short Horror October, post 1)

Ahem. I have an important Public Service Announcement before I jump into our first Short Horror October post. TAKE NOTE! Creepshow (2019), a Shudder Original Series, has arrived, and I’m sorry that I’m just now telling you about it. You’ll see this anthology horror series listed in my October Favorites post, but what good would it do to find out about it in November? Creepshow is glorious, campy, spooktacular fun that’s perfect for right now, in October, as Halloween approaches.

 

 

Shudder gives us new episodes on Thursdays. With two unique stories within each episode, you’re all set if you have just half an hour at a time to escape into a complete comic book horror story. The animated character who presents the stories is quite a character, by the way, and the stories are told wonderfully as comics come to life. We’re so into this series, we’re impatient for the new episode each week. We’re three episodes in as of today.

In case you’re not familiar with it, Shudder is an online streaming service mainly for horror content, but you’ll also have thrillers, suspense, mystery, etc. at hand. A Shudder subscription is only $5.00/month, and less than that if you get a one-year subscription! (This is not a sponsored post. I just can’t keep Creepshow to myself. You’re welcome.)

Now for Short Horror October post number 1!

 

(Bloody Kisses, haha)

 

I’m thrilled to finally start posting short horror films again! I’ve been watching them all summer (okay, spring and summer) in anticipation of the decision-making challenge. This year, you’ll find many of my picks to be thought-provoking, layered in meaning, and fleshed-out with metaphor and symbolism… the kind of films you’ll want to give a second viewing. Many of them represent the psychological horror sub-genre.

Today’s short horror film, however, is a simple one, and time-wise, it’s on the shorter end of short horror. It’s best to watch this film – all of these short horror films – in the dark! Dark is more visible in the dark. Don’t ponder that. Just enjoy The Coatmaker:

 

 

Happy Friday Eve!