“There’ll be food and drink and ghosts…and perhaps even a few murders. You’re all invited.”
– Vincent Price in House on Haunted Hill (1959)
It’s that time of year when it’s perfectly acceptable to watch way too many horror films. When you tell people you enjoy watching horror movies in months other than October, you can sometimes get a side-eye. But the age-old question is still significant, what type of horror? Now, I do not pretend to be a movie critic or even understand every aspect of the horror genre. I do enjoy movies, and I have enjoyed many different types of horror films. But it does make you think; what kind of horror films do I like to watch the most? That is why I set out to compile what I feel are the five most enjoyable horror films I have watched. This top five list celebrates Halloween and the month of October, which I consider the one month when you can watch as many horror movies as you want without your friends and family starting to question you! Let’s explore my favorite horror movie list.
“John Hammond: All major theme parks have delays. When they opened Disneyland in 1956, nothing worked! / Ian Malcolm: Yeah, but, John, if The Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.”
– Richard Attenborough & Jeff Goldblum from Jurassic Park
A year ago, in October of 2019, my wife and I accompanied my brother, his wife, and two daughters to Hershey, PA, for a theme park vacation and the running of a half marathon race. It was a fantastic weekend, filled with Hershey candy, beer, running, great food, some intense roller coasters, and of course, October family fun. It is strange to think back to last October and consider that it has been a year since our family trip, now with a new October upon us. With the pandemic hitting only a few months later, it seems the trip got lost in my recollection, and now, with the return of fall, I seek to both remember the journey and see hope in its enjoyment.
“A book about me? [gasps] I’m gonna be a star! Steve, you’re the best! Oh, my God, Stan, how upset are you? Seriously, on a scale from one to pissed. Oh, who gives a flying fig? I’m a star!”
– Episode “Star Trek” from American Dad
Mr. Tuttles is a 13-year-old Shih Tzu mix my wife and I adopted from the Boston Animal Rescue League in 2008. We are nearing the anniversary of his adoption day! He has led an incredible life. He has gone everywhere with us. Whether we lived in Boston, Honolulu, city, or suburb, near and far, he has always been with us. He has bad ears and heart, but he is the happiest and most snuggly dog. He loves to eat, be picked up and held, snuggles on the couch both outside and in, and enjoys a good nap, while eagerly awaiting a new adventure. We are lucky to have adopted him so many years ago. Honestly, he is as wicked traveled as me! He has flown more miles than many humans, that’s not too bad.
“Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.”
– Edgar Allen Poe
Remember the smell, and feel, of those old-school rubber Halloween masks you wore back in the late 1980s and early 1990s? My favorite one was of a werewolf, and I must have worn that costume every single year until it started falling apart. As a child, I remember going up into the attic to retrieve the decorations and seeing the box marked “Halloween” and getting excited to break out that mask. I may have gone eight years in a row with it, but each year changed the outfit, football player werewolf, baseball player werewolf, or werewolf in a plaid shirt. Halloween has always been an entertaining holiday. I mean, you get to dress up as something scary, from POP! Culture, or anything! You get free candy, and you have a valid reason to watch several scary movies, both good ones and terrible ones. Halloween is amusing, and while it was exciting as a child, it can be and has been enjoyable as an adult.
Recently, my wife and I moved away from our home after a lengthy selling process. We wanted to move closer to work, as well as family, so we sold our house in Salem, MA, and with it our time in “Halloween-town.” With September ending and tomorrow we welcome October, I got to thinking about the holiday and what I remember about it and what it has always meant to me. It does not hurt that things are wicked weird with the pandemic, and who knows what October will look like this year. So, as I usually do and as any good historian does, I look to the past, my wicked travels, and find solace, comfort, and possibly a new narrative.
“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, to draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”
– The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
As far back as I can remember, I have always loved LEGO bricks and sets of various sorts. I used to enjoy getting them as gifts on my birthday or at Christmas or as a random treat when I was able to pester my mother long enough to get them from Kmart or KB Toys. Whether it was the pirate ship Black Seas Barracuda or Skulls Eye Schooner, the medieval King’s Castle, or any of the space sets, I had them all, and enjoyed constructing and displaying them. It was the gift I received constantly and the one I looked most forward to getting.
So, it is therefore not surprising that when the pandemic hit and we went into lockdown, I needed a daily outlet, besides my weekly movie chats with my brother, which I detailed in POP! Culture on Repeat, or video game adventures with my brother-in-law Kyle, discussed in A Newcomer Joins Borderlands 3. I sought out fun and unique LEGO sets so that I could use my hands, shut off my mind, and follow instructions and build something. Again, I sought comfort in my past to help cope with current turmoil. So, I went online and bought the LEGO Volkswagen T1 Camper Van and Beetle. It didn’t take long before I felt like a kid again and was hooked on those classic LEGO bricks!
“Nashville could just as soon be called Punk City or Rock City. You are just as likely to find the word artisanal hanging over the door of a sandwich shop or a cupcake shop or the slow-drip-coffee laptop zone as anywhere in the land of man buns in the cities of the North.”
– Anthony Bourdain in “Nashville” of Parts Unknown
By the end of this post, you will see that I love Nashville, TN. In April of 2018, my wife Corinne, brother Jeff, sister-in-law Lauren, and I traveled to the hip, fun, and lively Music City. This trip brought tons of fun and left me wondering why I had never considered Nashville before. Filled with the NFL Draft, breweries, a half marathon, tons of BBQ, and side trips to historic sites, my trip to Nashville proved far better than I could ever imagine. What started as a trip to run the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon turned into a beautiful memory that, especially during this pandemic, can easily be called upon to provide happy feelings when I am feeling down.
My brother and I run a half marathon every October or November and have done so since 2014. After an incredible trip to Denver in October of 2017, we wanted to find another fun and unique location. After some research and internet scouting, I discovered that the Rock n’ Roll Marathon series was going to be in Nashville, and it just so happened that the NFL would be holding the draft the same weekend. I talked to my brother and my wife, and we decided to make it a group trip to the city. We booked our flights, registered for the race, and secured an Airbnb in East Nashville. We were ready, but was Nashville prepared for us!
“Hayley: Why did you invite both of us? / Roger: Gee, I don’t know. You think it might have something to do with me being drunk all the time? I’m an alcoholic. I have a problem. I’m just not ready to deal with it yet. But I will. I promise. No more empty promises. No sir. Not from this alcoholic.”
– Hayley & Roger in “Chimdale”
Welcome back, everyone, for another in-depth discussion of the funniest animated comedy, American Dad. I wanted to get this blog post ready and submitted to coincide with the release of the 300th episode of American Dad, airing on TBS September 14, 2020. This blog, as I have mentioned before, is the second of what will be three parts. The first blog post, American Dad Rewind – Part ONE, which I published a couple of weeks ago, covered seasons 1-5. Today, we are back with the Seasons 6-10 and the top episode from each season. So far, we have discussed what I argue are the best episodes from each of the first five seasons. For a list of those, please go back and read Part ONE, because we are going to jump right in and begin with Season 6. Buckle up, hold tight, and put your sunglasses on; we are speeding back to American Dad!
“We met at Starbucks. Not at the same Starbucks, but we saw each other at different Starbucks across the street from each other.”
– Parker Posey in Best in Show
I am a latecomer to the coffee world. Never really drank it until I started dating my wife, back in the early 2000s. She is from NY, so coffee was pretty much injected into her veins at an early age. While I may have been late to the java party, I have more than made up for it over the last two decades. Now, I can’t start the day without a nice cup of Café Bustelo. When my wife and I travel, we love to find unique and fun places to get a cup of coffee. In this blog post, let’s explore some of the coffee shops we have visited in our recent travels.
“It’s like rain on your wedding day It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take And who would’ve thought? It figures”
– Alanis Morissette “Ironic” from Jagged Little Pill
On December 7, 2019, my wife and I went to see Alanis Morissette live at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. My wife Corinne is a huge fan, so I bought tickets and excitedly surprised her with really good seats. I had seen Alanis years earlier on August 8, 2004, at the Tweeter Center for the Performing Arts in Mansfield, MA. That was The Au Naturale Tour, and she performed with The Bare Naked Ladies. It was a terrific show, but what I remembered most was Alanis Morissette’s fantastic performance. She rocked, and even though I had always appreciated her music, style, and emotional power, I was musically transformed by her show.
Since my wife had talked of her wish to see Alanis live and the fact that we have connected almost from our very first date through our similar taste in music and musicians, I was excited when the opportunity presented itself. But, the Alanis Morissette show acted as a culmination of years of musical connections between my wife and I. Now, with the COVID pandemic canceling concerts and live events, it seemed a perfect opportunity to think back to that shared appreciation of music. So, break out the record player, dust off the vinyl, and hit play.
“Roger: My name is Braff Zacklin. I was an international racecar driver. One day a baby carriage rolled out onto the track so I had to swerve into the retaining wall to avoid it… I was that baby.”
– Roger in “Haylias”
There is no show I watch more than American Dad on TBS, with steaming of episodes on HULU. I mean, it has come to the point that when the television is on and American Dad starts and I hear the first sentence uttered I can quickly identify the episode, season, and immediately start laughing. My wife and I watch the show on our living room television, our iPad in bed, and the car, on our iPhones, as we drive to NY to see family. It is a show that at one moment makes us belly laugh to the point of spitting out our drink, and then next can make us feel a sense of comfort in a comedic decompression from everyday life. If we are upset, worried, or stressed from a hard day of work, we know that the cure for our momentary blues is just a streaming click away.