Around the Horn: What’s Your Iconic Horror Movie Villain?

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It’s that time of the year again—Halloween—my favorite season. If you have to pick one iconic horror movie villain to remember for this trick-or-treat month, who would that be? And Why? For me, it would be the Tall Man from the Phantasm series. When I first saw the Tall Man in the original Phantasm, I kept wondering what he was about. And he really scared me as a kid, “Boy!!!!!!!” The Tall Man has always been shrouded in mystery. He isn’t exactly a villain… but more of a servant of the dark… or of an alien race… almost like the Terminator… but he certainly executes the scary deeds of his anti-human boss. Who is the Tall Man???

IRIS: I love Vincent Price as a villain. His voice and persona are so distinctly memorable. I went to see him speak once while in college. He read his lines from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which was definitely a treat to hear in person. Iconically evil, but hilarious at the same time:

Around the Horn: The Supernatural Edition

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I love October because my favorite holiday falls in this month: Halloween. I don’t like dressing up in costume but I love scaring people and sharing “ghost” stories. I’ve shared a number of “true” ghost stories on this blog in the past like this and this.

I don’t know if I truly believe in the supernatural but I try to keep an open mind. What about the rest of you? Do you believe in the supernatural? Any stories of weird things that have happened to you or that you’ve heard? Let’s try to scare the hell our of our readers.

ROGER: When I was in preschool, I lived in Illinois. My neighbors had two young sons my same age. They were twins named David and Luke. Like most twins, they were very different – one was very outgoing and gregarious and another was very shy and hardly ever spoke. From preschool to first grade I played with the two boys just about everyday after school. We were the three musketeers. After that, my parents moved us to California. Fast forward about twenty years, I was in Chicago on business and decided to visit my childhood home. To my surprise, the same neighbors next door were still living there. Well, at least the parents were. So I swung over to say hello. It was nice that they remembered me. After a bit of polite chit chat, I asked them how David and Luke were.

Around The Horn: Neighborly Tendencies

What did I wake up to this morning? Was it the sunlight breaking through the cracks of my blinds? Or was it the serene sound of recorded birds from my alarm clock? The answer is neither.

I woke up to the sound of a small child banging on a makeshift drum kit composed of pots and pans. Yes, I was torn from my sweet, sweet slumber by what I hope to be a future famous drummer who will look back and donate a portion of his earnings to the neighbor he constantly kept awake.

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Hey, I’m probably making a mountain out of a molehill here, but I’d like to get some confirmation: what’s some of your worst experiences with neighbors?

IRIS: I wrote a previous blog about “Mr. Cranky” who called the police on us about our barking dog and we don’t even have a dog. He’s known as “Hitler” around the neighborhood.

Around the Horn: YouTube Time Suck

JunoWhaleOkay, I admit that I’m a sucker for cute animal videos.  I can waste hours in a day when I’m caught in a YouTube vortex of watching the antics of our furry and even non-furry friends.  It’s so easy to think you’re only going to spend five minutes looking up a video you saw on the news.  But then a host of cute videos pop up on your search results or your eyes wander over to the related videos column that leads you to another video and then another and before you know it, you’ve wasted the whole morning and you curse yourself, wondering if there’s a YouTubes Anonymous help group out there.

In the past, I have been addicted to videos of Nora, the piano playing cat, and Carrie, the merengue dancing dog.  My current YouTube obsession is Juno, an intelligent Beluga whale that has some uncanny human qualities.  I have discovered all kinds of things about Juno.  For instance, he likes to photobomb wedding shoots.

He also likes to scare little kids:

(action starts from about :54 mark)  I love how he does a sort of “double take” move, like he’s really teasing them.

Around The Horn: Things You Get Used To

It’s spider season in our neighborhood.  This means that even the quickest trip outside (to take out trash, recycling, compost, laundry) results in running into two or three spiderwebs with my face.  Going for a walk equals ten more encounters (recently, a strand broke across my eyeballs, and another time, a partial web went into my mouth).

Giant communal spider web at Lake Tawakoni State Park, Texas; looks like my apartment

Giant communal spider web at Lake Tawakoni State Park, Texas; looks like my apartment

Around the Horn: Simple Genius

Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the close up shot. I ate the pizza too quickly to shoot it.

Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the close up shot. I ate the pizza too quickly to shoot it.

Last month I went to New Haven, CT with my husband who was raving about the pizza. It’s been many years but he had been dreaming of going back specifically to enjoy the white clam pizza from Frank Pepe’s – a local joint that has been much lauded for being the best pizza in America (out of the top 101).  He had built up so much anticipation that I was expecting to be slightly underwhelmed. But I gotta say, the first bite was a spiritual experience for me.  The pizza was perfectly charred, crisp on the bottom with a bit of chew to the dough.  The cheese was brimming with briny puddles of clams that packed an umami punch and miraculously did not make the crust soggy.  Seasoned with touches of fresh garlic and oregano, this pizza was so simple, so pure and satisfying.   The pies are wonderfully rustic and oblong, fitting perfectly on an industrial aluminum cookie sheet the size of 24”  flat screen tv.  And, I ended up eating half of that flat screen tv.

Around the Horn: Teacher, Teacher

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As my fellow Offenders know, I’m starting this week as the new Head of Playwriting at Columbia University. Not surprisingly, I’m excited and nervous about my new responsibilities, and obviously want to do as well as I can for my students. Way back when I was an undergraduate, I decided to try playwriting, but my university didn’t offer any playwriting classes. So I found a professor in the Creative Writing Department who was a novelist, but taught a class in dramatic literature, and asked him to read my fledging efforts. He told me my plays were really bad, which they were — that I had the desire to write plays, but didn’t actually know anything about the theatre. This same professor, John L’Heureux, then went on to help me design a playwriting major, and became my advisor for the next three years, leading to the writing of my first full-length play, FOB. John was my first important mentor, and we’ve remained friends to this day.

How about you guys? As advice to a new faculty member, what’s the best experience you had with a teacher? Or, as a cautionary note, you could also share your worst ones.

Around the Horn: Time Oh Give Me Time

PROCRASTINATE

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Loving what you do even when you’re not doing it all that much.

Times in the film industry are tough in LA.  So, I’ve made the decision to go from freelance videographer and visual effects artist to doing corporate work for the litigation industry.  Seems sad that I wouldn’t be doing what I love on a day to day basis.  Now, that I’m starting my journey into the corporate work force, I find myself more… creative?  What?  How can that be?

Funny how when you know you have a lot of time to do something, you don’t utilize that time well, for me anyway.  I sit in my office and say, “Look at all this time I have to be creative, I’ll make something awesome… one day.”  For years, I’ve been saying that, but all I do is prep the ideas and leave things undone.  But, now my time is limited and I see only short windows opportunity to do something… anything creative.  So, I went back to my roots as a graphic artist and did something I loved within films and the poster art arena… so, that’s what I went with.  Finally, I made something I liked and that I knew I could finish within the time allowed.  I definitely felt my love of creation more because I made time for it.

Around the Horn: Weird Family Advice

That's my dad!!!!

That’s my dad!!!!


My dad -to me- is the king of quotes. Not that he quotes anyone in particular, but he deposits little adages here and there in such meme-worthy bite-sized-ness that he is nothing but a series of Jack Handy advice quips. My mom screams out the same advice repeatedly so she represents a broken record to me.

The more bizarre (and yet I somewhat do take into consideration years down the line) advice I’ve received from them include:

Around the Horn: My Kids Playing Football aka Future Concussions

With the NFL football season quickly approaching, there will be many men and some women in America that will have their Sundays completely booked sitting on their couch glued to the TV. I never really had a desire to play for a real organized team growing up like in High School but I did love the sport. I grew up watching the San Francisco Forty Niners with Joe Montana and Jerry Rice bringing the city multiple Super Bowls trophies. But recently in the last 5 years, there has been many scientific test and testimonies from older players who have been suffering very bad head traumas and concussions that have left them scarred for life where they become poor paying for medical treatment.. The players union have sued the NFL and NFL sorta swept the problem away by paying them all off. Even though the NFL avoided being blamed for the cause for being a vicious sport and helmet to helmet violence, its still a scary thought to see a player being completely knocked out cold on the field. Football is even one of the worst sports salary contracts for their players compared to basketball and baseball but yet football’s revenue brings in one of the highest in all sports. My question this week to the Offenders is if your kids or future kids wanted to play football, would you let them play? Say it was High School football, maybe even college and you knew the level of competition was high where the chances are more likely for life threatening injuries could happen, would you want them to play?

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Around the Horn: Is Colorblind Casting OK in the Comics Movie Universe?

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In our weekly check-in lunch last Tuesday, some of the Offenders started talking geek speak, with everyone generally excited that GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is doing well and that it is a solid film. But then, the conversation took a turn when the discussion of future Marvel films came up, specifically the new FANTASTIC FOUR reboot, with the casting of Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm aka The Human Torch. Some individuals thought the casting of an African American actor for a, “historically” Caucasian looking character portrayed in the pages of Marvel comics. An individual felt that the Human Torch is so iconic and him being blonde and blue-eyed was inherent in the character and that’s just the way it is. Another individual agreed and said it was simply stunt casting to have Jordan be the Human Torch and also the brother of Sue Storm, played by the obviously Caucasian Kate Mara. The argument soon escalated with defenders of the casting saying it doesn’t matter on skin color, just as long as the actor chosen has the inherent characteristics of Johnny Storm (i.e. cocky, free spirited, from New York and American), then what does it matter? Before long, other iconic characters were brought up, like James Bond. There’s been talk of Idris Elba possibly portraying 007 in future movies. Does it matter?

Around The Horn: Stop That Thief!

Today I’d like to address a sensitive subject: childhood thievery. 

Not kids being stolen off the street or depressing crap like that, but the stuff you stole as a child (and please, do not tell me you never took a five-finger discount when you were a kid).

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Let’s use a cut-off age of ten years old. 

I remember stealing two things: packs of gum (various, but especially Bubble Yum) and the fancy metal caps off car tire valves.  They were the “hip” thing to have for your bicycle tires, and I didn’t have the money for them.   Soooooo….I cruised the parking lot of Sears until I found a car with shiny silver valve caps, crouched down, and stole a pair for my bike.