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It’s Been A Banner Few Weeks For This Fox

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I’m still coming down from the Great Genealogy Hunt in Alabama (which is being written in exhaustive chunks), but the feels have remained warm and happy.


In the last two weeks, I’ve been a featured selfie on an HWA site –  I’ve been accepted in a drabble anthology (which you can pre-order), and another anthology I’ll be in was announced for pre-sale and will be available in 2015 (gee, no pressure Simon and Schuster).


I like how Google+ Photos takes all of your fails and makes them a kinda cool gif. Kinda.

I like how Google+ Photos takes all of your selfie fails and makes them a kinda cool selfie gif. Kinda.


Today, I was interviewed on the Michigan Literary/Motown Writers Network by guest host Andrea Daniel. We talked about writing, the long journey to get published, and of course GLAHW. I haven’t listened to it yet, because I’m sure I sound like a castrated mouse.


Take a listen below and tell me what you think. I really don’t want to be one of those writers who can’t string together a verbal sentence.


 



Check Out Books Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with MichLiterary Network on BlogTalkRadio



How to Make Coffee

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I wrote this and it’s taped over the coffee maker in the common area. Out of the 8 people that wander up to drink coffee, I’m one of 2 that actually bother to make it.  The most common complaint was they they didn’t know how, so I created a WORK INSTRUCTION on how to make coffee with the percolator.


08-9-27-coffeeFox


No one actually reads it, so I present it to you.


How to make coffee



  • Coffee is individually provided for all to share. Don’t see something you like, you can buy whole beans at almost any grocery store or roaster have them Coarse Ground using the in-store grinder. Regular pre-ground coffee works, too, as long as you use the Silver percolator. You don’t get to complain about coffee you didn’t buy or contribute towards.

    • The Coffee is Free, but if you feel guilty, pop a few pennies in the Skull over the Maker. The Skull Sees ALL.

    • We don’t care about your nut allergies.

    • Don’t buy decaf. We will know and we will find you.

    • Creamers (dry or liquid) are welcome contributions so long as they don’t need refrigeration (except what I bring in because reasons).

    • The flavor of the coffee bought and made is at the whim of the buyer and maker. Enjoy the feeling of Ultimate Power!



  • There are two coffee makers: The 10-cup White Corning and the 12-cup Silver Faberware.

    • Folks tend to like the 12-Cup Faberware because there are less grounds in the coffee and it brews (relatively) faster. The trade off is it doesn’t stay hot.

    • For smaller amounts, try to use the White Corning, but temper your dominion with mercy.

    • You don’t have to make both pots of coffee unless you’re planning to serve the entire floor.

    • Do not serve the entire floor.



  • You will have to haul the entire pot down to the kitchen to both clean the pot of grounds and for water. Don’t use Bathroom Water. Every Six Year Old Knows This. If you lack upper body strength to lift the pots, find an adult.

    • Leave the heavy metal heating element in White Corning maker when you fill with water. That’s the round heavy metal thing that sits on the bottom and attached to the side. Leave it.

    • Use COLD water. The round heavy thing in the White Corning and the entire bottom of the Silver Faberware gauge the temperature and using hot water initially will greatly reduce the brewing time.

    • Filling the pot with hot water might make it brew faster, but you may as well save time and drink the kitchen coffee. It tastes like sadness.



  • I shouldn’t have to tell you to remove the metal filter baskets first, but here we are.

    • For the White Corning, press down on the basket and unhook it from the lip to remove. The metal post unscrews from the basket so you can set the basket on a flat surface to fill with grounds.

    • For the Silver Faberware, lift the basket and post out (I’m sorry it’s not easier).

      • The Silver Faberware can make up to 12 cups. The line is on the inside on the handle side. You can see it in the light if you tilt it just right and dance a few bars of the Tennessee Waltz. If you stick your finger in to feel the notch as the water rises, please don’t tell us.



    • The White Corning can make up to 10 cups but don’t make less than 6 Cups  (3 Scoops of Coffee and water up to the 6 line).

      • Remember – it’s only (6) 1965 cups of coffee, but our mugs are twice as large so 6 Cups equals about 3-4ish mugs.

      • Don’t make more than 10. You are not more clever than the people at Corning.





  • There are little paper filter disks in the Skeleton Box to place at the bottom of the metal baskets. The bag even has instructions. Use them if you like. They absolutely cut down on the flotsam in the finished coffee.

    • For the White Corning, using the Red Coffee Scoop, put 5 scoops of coffee into the metal filter basket.

    • For the Silver Faberware, pour 2/3 Cup of grounds into the pilfered measuring cup (or Six Scoops – I was trying to make it easier, but you know – math). Shake the basket gently over the garbage can to set free any very fine grounds. Don’t leave the scoop in the coffee bag. Not everyone enjoys Chocolate Raspberry, nor will they bother to look in every coffee bag to find it. I know you people, hence Work Instructions on How To Make Coffee.



  • Replace the metal lid on the filter basket, screw in the post (White Corning) and insert into the maker.

    • The White Corning is a screw post, as opposed to the gentle slide of the Silver Faberware (make your own jokes). Press down on the basket so it fits under the lip of the maker.

    • If it doesn’t slide down to go under the lip, give the post a twist and there should be a little give as the post slides. This is not a new move for most of us.



  • Plug in the maker. The White Corning needs to be placed it on the trivet my nephew made me or you will kill us all.

  • It will take anywhere from 10-15 minutes to complete the brew cycle. This is how a percolator works. You can look it up on Wikipedia if you’re curious. If you think it’s talking too long, there’s coffee in the kitchen. Enjoy the swill.

  • When it stops making perking noises and the red light is on (White Corning), it’s done, however, give it another few minutes to settle. If you can unplug the maker when it’s done (the coffee may stay hot for maybe an hour), then people will assume no coffee is made.

  • THIS COFFEE WILL BE HOT. Coffee made in the White Corning will maintain its internal temperature until you unplug it.The Silver Faberware has a shut off after an hour but manages to keep it tepid.

  • THIS COFFEE WILL HAVE GROUNDS. If it was good enough for Grandmother Bethesda, it’s good enough for us.

  • Please remember to unplug it when the coffee is gone and at the end of the day. This isn’t 1965 and neither my trivet nor the back filing cabinet is made from asbestos.

  • At the End of the Day, or after the coffee is gone, take the remaining regular Coffeemate to the refrigerator, rinse out the maker, and empty the filter basket in the trash.

    • If you empty the grounds over the sink JoAnne will have a fit

    • If we lose our coffee maker over it, I will find you.

    • Replace the maker on the trivet, nicely rinsed and wiped out for the next use. Coffee is generally made before 9am and around 3pm, but if I’m not here, I don’t care when you make it.




  • If it’s not made, offer to make it.




  • Don’t be part of the problem.




Pretty straightforward, don’t you think?


 




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Ingress?


I can never explain it right, so I’m borrowing from the Wikia:


Our future is at stake. And you must choose a side.


A mysterious energy has been unearthed by a team of scientists in Europe. The origin and purpose of this force is unknown, but some researchers believe it is influencing the way we think. We must control it or it will control us.


“The Enlightened” seek to embrace the power that this energy may bestow upon us.


“The Resistance” struggle to defend, and protect what’s left of our humanity.


I admit – I don’t closely follow backstory, because it’s a rabbit hole I’ll never crawl out from, but I do enjoy the playing. I’ve met some fun people and just this past weekend there was an Anomaly (Helios) where members of both factions converged on Downtown Detroit to battle for mankind!


Talk about organized. It was laid out like an actual battle with captains, co-captains, bike teams, ground teams, maps, and we all communicated via an app called Zello with individual team channels. I was on a ground team and in total I walked about 4 miles from the DIA down Cass, over to Clifford, across Congress and ending up at St. Andrews Hall for the after-party.  Google even bought the first round! It was exciting and for a situation that could have easily become impossible to track, the organization was incredible and I hope I get the change to do it again.


I don’t know what we were fighting for (every Anomaly has a purpose), I guess that makes me kind of a mercenary, but we had a great time and the Enlightened were victorious.


It feels so dystopian.


 


It means nothing to you, I understand, but know that it was fun to get out and talk to people and walk (and walk and walk and walk) and be on a winning team and see Detroit the only American city for that Anomaly weekend be a Winner (way to slack, Baltimore and Indy!).


Anyway, I’m having fun and it’s a nice way to get out and walk (it *is* a walking game if your city has the portals).


Besides, it’s kinda fun to think Google, who owns all information anyway, is grooming us to for future incursions from aliens or exotic matter. Wouldn’t be the first time  we’ve seen a game be the first step towards saving the world.


Raposa, she dances for you

Raposa, she dances for you




Tags:

Week 3, or How To Turn Your Toenails Black

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Despite the fact I’ve been running 5Ks for a year, I’m still not very good at it. It’s not going to stop me, because while discouraging there are personal records I’d like to set and beat. There are lots of things I enjoy I’m not very good at, but I lack the sense to stop doing them. Only a defeatist would call it a personal failing.


When I started running I used a few Couch to 5K programs (restarted a few times), but I was still never quite able to just run three miles without stopping.


I really want to do that. Not being able to do that didn’t stop me from running my first 5K nor did it stop me from running the four that followed. I still got out there and walk-jogged and did my best and got better at running longer and walking less.


Now a year in, I’m still looking to run three point one miles from gun to shoot.


On my quest of Personal Discovery to Slay the Lactic Acid Beast, I’ve got my trusty Nike+ Running App. With the last update came a nice addition called Coach, which was like the Challenges except with just yourself  instead of other people who may or may not exist. I was able to set my goal (Cruise in Shoes in August) and Coach created a training plan.


Like the systems I surround myself with, I need structure. Some creatives balk about having schedules and systems, believing their muses need to be unfettered and free to create. My muse needs a set schedule and a deadline or it sits on the couch and gets fat and when I point at the computer to encourage it to make words, it just lays there, struggling to breathe.


Pray for Mojo

Pray for Mojo


I’m the same with running and working out. I don’t like people or classes, so signing up for Zumba or spinning is pointless. I do like gyms and equipment and being left alone, so joining a gym and using the treadmill or the weights is great – when I go. Doug nagging me is fine, and I’ll even get dressed, but I won’t actually go, or the gym will be closed or whatever excuse I find to not go.


Oh crummy darn...

Oh crummy darn…


Nike+ Coach tells me when to run and how far and when to rest and when to cross-train, and while it seems silly that a grown woman needs to be told by a piece of software on her phone when to get off her ass and run, yet here we are.


The kicker is I don’t mind. It’s not like I get a cookie or a gold star or a pat on the head when I complete a week, but my app tells me when I hit my daily running distance with a cold, detached excitement, and it makes me happy. I get a graph that tells me what the weekly goal was and how close I came to making it or how much I over it. I’ve only fallen short once in Week 3 (last week) by 1.4 miles, and that’s because I was hurt.


But still – graphs.


image

It smell like accomplishment!


Regardless, I’m in Week 4 and while I’m not exactly seeing perfect progress towards all running 5K, I cannot knock the strides I’ve made. I did four miles today at a pace that rivals my 5K personal best last year.


I had a crummy race on Sunday (Mt Olivet Sunrise Run), but lots of factors played into that include not knowing when to go to bed the night before and inclement weather. I’m one of those “perfect conditions” runners, meaning that unless the stars are aligned and my headset is positioned exactly on my ears and the music is precisely the right tempo, I have a crummy run. Plus it was raining. I was doomed from the word go.


It’s a personal problem and I won’t lie and tell you I’m working on it because I’m not, but not having things go in my favor isn’t keeping me from getting out there to  run, and it certainly won’t keep me from reaching my goal this summer of a 5K under 35 minutes.


When that happens, I start training for a 10K. My app will help me with that too.




Ken MacGregor Takes Ovah!

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Since I’m ignoring my blog anyway, allow me to turn things over briefly to fellow GLAHW member, Ken MacGregor.  I’m currently reading, An Aberrant Mind, and I’ll have a review soon. Please get to know this guy, and stick around because there’s a giveaway at the end of this post. 


AnAberrantMind_KenMacGregor_PostCard

Click above for more information about Sirens Call Publications!


Not a Horror Writer (But, a Writer of Horror)

Ken MacGregor


 Here’s a conversation I’ve had several times, paraphrased into an amalgam:


“You’re a writer?”


“Yeah.”


“What do you write?”


“Speculative Fiction. Mostly Horror.”


“Oh.”


At this point, most of the people with whom I am speaking find somewhere else to look or someone else to talk to. Some become animated and excited and the conversation blossoms into something satisfying.


I know Horror turns some people off. I get it. Not everyone wants to be scared, even though it’s good for you. Not everyone has a tolerance for gore (not my thing either, unless it moves the story forward). But, I don’t really consider myself a Horror writer. I do write Horror, and I enjoy it. But, I also write picture books (I can’t draw very well, so I have to find artists, which is not always easy I’m finding); I write light Fantasy and soft Science Fiction; I write Erotica (which is weird, but also kind of fun); I’ve dabbled in Noir and Western; I write Mainstream (though, so far haven’t sold any); I even write poetry (but, only when I have to. It has to grab me by the throat, pin me down and make me).


So, I write Horror, but I am not just a Horror writer. I’m a writer. I write. I make stuff up. When I’m writing, I try to tell a good story, to create believable characters and to give readers something to think about as well as entertain them. I try to make them laugh sometimes, too, because I think every genre is improved by humor.


If I had to define myself, to name what kind of writer I am, I guess I’d have to say I write, well, darker  quirky fiction with a comedic bent. Because, even when I write outside of the horror genre, it does tend to be pretty dark. For example, one of my children’s stories features an undertaker as the main character. Another one is about the monster under the bed.


I could also say I’m a short story writer. That has a nice, general sort of feel to it, and it’s true. To date, that’s all I’ve had published. Though, I am secretly growing a novella in my basement laboratory. I’m using the parts of several dead short stories, stitching them together in the hopes to breathe life into them as a whole new, much larger being. That usually works out well, right?


There you have it: I am a writer of short, darker fiction that is frequently funny. Of course, this time tomorrow, I may have redefined myself completely.


Ken MacGregor

Ken MacGregor – Run!


 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Hi, MontiLee, again! This is an honest to goodness giveaway, and you know I wouldn’t have it any other way. Yeah, you have to like some stuff and click some stuff, but it’s in the name of SCIENCE and reading and winning a great book.


An Aberrant Mind

Ken MacGregor


ABERRANT is defined as unusual, abnormal or different. The stories in this book not only differ from most of what you read, but also wildly from each other. A retired school teacher takes on an elder god and his minion; a werewolf picks fights with sea creatures; a neighbor’s lawn may be eating people. Twenty-two stories: scary, funny, weird and different.


In these pages, you will find darkness and fear, revulsion and terror. Mixed with it, however is quite a bit of humor. Sometimes both happen at the same time. So, open it up, join Jim as he fights off zombies with a potato cannon; witness the bloodbath reunion of the first man and his homicidal son; enjoy the monsters, the demons and the deranged.


A word of warning, though: you may never eat a bagel with lox again.


An Aberrant Mind KenMacGregor

An Aberrant Mind
Ken MacGregor


Available for purchase at:

Amazon:


US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | India | Brazil


CreateSpace


Smashwords


 ***


ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Ken MacGregor’s work has appeared in over fifty anthologies, magazines and podcasts. Ken is a member of The Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers and an Affiliate member of HWA. You can find Ken on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, and at ken-macgregor.com. Ken’s the kind of guy that, if he found himself stranded somewhere with you, would probably eat you to survive. Ken hopes you enjoyed the stories in this collection and that you sleep just a little less well because of them. Ken lives in Michigan with his family and two unstable cats.


Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


Giveaway information:


 Sirens Call Publications will be giving away digital copies of An Aberrant Mind by Ken MacGregor to 5 (five) lucky winners! Follow the link to enter for your chance to win!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


 




Review: Grave Sight

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Grave Sight

Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris


My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Harper Connelly is certainly no Sookie Stackhouse, which is fine, since it’s nice to read a book by a female author where the lead doesn’t sleep with everything within reach.


Harper isn’t a fully formed character and together with her brother They have some growing to do. They’re co-dependent and quiet and not a little creepy, but maybe in later books that smooths itself out. This isn’t a great book and there’s a lot of stretching and stalling to make it longer. All of the characters do a lot to put themselves in situations no one with any sense would pull, but that’s fiction for you. It wasn’t a great story and the thread from one plot point to another was broken a frayed, but I would give this series another book before I bail.


View all my reviews




June and the Four Mes of Stalemate

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There are a lot of Mes running around – the Writer Me, the Running Me, the Knitting Me, the Home Me. They don’t co-exist very well, and they all want attention. There is no lone bully, so they tag team, and I am only good at doing two of them very well at a time.


It’s a thing. I’m working on it.


The last few months been the sole province of Knitting Me and the Home Me – two aspects that co-exist with relative complaint. Knitting socks and watching bad movies or catching up on television has been the plan since the End of April, sort of a pre-mid-summer hibernation, and I can’t complain. It was like being productive, without really doing anything. I could feel accomplished because at least *those* twelve bad movies I’ll never have to skim pas in my queue again. *brushes hands*


Meanwhile, Writer Me wants to wrap this novel before the end of September and there are three short stories due next month. Writer Me has been running a few background processes working out plots and twists but there’s nothing on paper.  Running Me has watching the calendar inch closer to July with no real motivation to crack the 35-minute mark. I’ve got a race coming up on July 13 and I’d really like to not have the paramedics meet me at the finish line.


Clearly, I have to do something, like push off the couch and set down the needles. I needed a plan and a system, because left to my own devices, absolutely nothing will get done.


Nike Running must have sensed a disturbance because lo on my phone the Nike+Running App recently updated with an integrated Coaching program on my running app. I need Tough Love, not just someone nagging me to go work out.


Basically, you set the date for your run, and it sets up an training program. I’ve never really a “program” since running regularly because I kinda just figured if I ran a few times a week I’d be cool with my lungs and legs and we’d get there together. Apparently their lies are the glue that holds our relationship together.


My run in July is too soon for a bona fide plan, but the August fits in a little too well to be mere coincidence.


I can take a hint.


Week 1 starts today:


If it's worth doing, right?

If it’s worth doing, right?


10 Miles this week. I normally don’t run more than maybe 2.25 miles at a stretch, partially because my running route is between 1.6 and 2.30 miles and I like to keep them about 30 minutes. 30 minutes is a manageable number for me and I tell myself I can fit a 30-minutes work out into my day.


This coaching plan is system generated, it does not care I only want to run 30 minutes or somewhere around 2 miles. It has given my comfort zone the double bird.


In Week Three, one of my days is 5 miles and for Peak Week (Week 6) I shoot for six miles.


shocked


This seems less than sane, but between you, me and the Sauconys, I’m a excited about it. I’d really like to think I can do a 10K before too long and I’m not going to get there at two miles a pop,.


Meanwhile, the Writer Me has been making rumblings and now that I’ve found my missing jumpdrives, we’re back on track with that as well. Downloading and actually using Scrivener has moves that along. It’s the organization I love, even while I was fondling my old index cards yesterday and eyeing new Moleskines at the bookstore. I found my novel over three computer programs, a bunch of loose notes, and text files hidden on a 1G SD card. For the first time in a long while, I have entire novel in front of me  in all of its jumbled bits and pieces, and boy, is it a mess. Apparently, I’m missing these things called plot, conflict, and  a resolution.   S’okay, though.  I like to build things, and I’ve been assembling the pieces of this story for a very long time, but along the way the instruction manual got waterlogged and there are pages missing. 


Now it’s as if I’ve laid them all out on the carpet, and even though it doesn’t look like much, I know it will look exactly like the picture on the box – or at least so close, it won’t matter. 


This basically means Home Me won’t be able to binge on bad movies and Knitting Me will have to let those two pairs of sock languish on the needles. I’ll have to make time for them when it’s there, but not at the expense of Running and Writer. I’ve got hard and fast deadlines, and I need to stop waving at them as they go by. One day I’ll be able to manage time where I can do all the things I love  - but it certainly won’t be before September.


So that’s been my May and June.  If I get bored with being on track for deadlines and running, I’ll be back to talk about my trip Portland via Amtrak and digging the roots of my family tree.  It’s fascinating stuff, and I tell things best when I’m procrastinating on other things.




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So the husband is visiting family for the weekend and I get to eat ALL THE THINGS.


Tonight’s culinary foray is something I wasn’t even sure I was going to like. I can’t remember if I’ve ever even had rice pudding much less if I was going to like it. Life is risk, right?


Moot point now because this is definitely getting added to the dessert repertoire. This is a rich, thick, sweet concoction and I’m glad there’s so much because now I have breakfast! You can probably use regular long-grain white rice, but I like the texture of Arborio, and when indulging in somethings decadent, texture adds to the experience.


rice pudding




Arroz Con Tres Leche


Recipe Type: Dessert

Cuisine: Mutt (Mexican/Italian)

Author: MontiLee

Prep time:

Cook time:

Total time:

Serves: 1-6

Rice, creamy rice pudding with rum and raisins


Ingredients


  • 2/3 Cup Golden Raisins

  • 1/3 Cup Raisins

  • 1/3 Cup Dark Rum

  • 7 Cups of Water

  • 1 Cup Arborio Rice

  • 1 Cinnamon stick

  • 1 (12 oz) can Evaporated Milk

  • 1 (14-oz) can Condensed Milk

  • 1 Cup Whole Milk




Instructions



  1. First we have to get our raisins drunk, so mix them with the rum and set them aside. To keep you from sipping the bowl put a little plastic wrap over it and ignore it. Don’t worry, you’ll be busy for the next hour.

  2. In a nice big pot add your water and rice and bring it up to a boil on medium-high heat. No need to cover it, just let the rice get tender for about 18-20 minutes. By now most of the water should be gone, but you’ll need to strain the rest of the starchy liquid out and you can toss the cinnamon stick. I suppose you could save it if you wanted, but that’s your call.

  3. Back in the pot goes your rice and here’s where you add your tres leches (your milks, if I’ve lost you somewhere). It’s also when you stop leaving the kitchen because it’ll need your constant attention from this point to keep from scorching. Bring everything to a slow boil on medium high heat – and by this I mean when everything starts getting a little bubbly and steamy. Turn it down just a tick and stir.

  4. And keep stirring. Walking away means scorched milk and rice and no one’s going to eat that. The mixture will begin to thicken and should you wander off because you absolutely must see the Final Jeopardy question, you may get a little skin and brown flakes from the bottom of your pot. It’s fine. Really. You had one job.

  5. It’ll take about 15-20 minutes to thicken with all of your stirring and now finally we can add the rum and raisins (huzzah!). Add it all, raisins and liquid, and keep stirring for another 5-10 minutes to let everything warm up and incorporate. There’s no need to keep it on heat until it’s thicken to your liking because it will do that as it cools. You want a pudding consistency, not spackle.

  6. Take it off the heat and from here you can spoon it into bowls allow it to cool in the fridge before before serving (I dunno, some folks like it cold) or super carefully, horde your portion to the couch and put on a horror movie and eat immediately.

  7. That’s what I did, anyway, and the lousy movie didn’t detract from the marvelous flavor – sweet, a little spicy from the cinnamon, and certainly not a heavy rum flavor.




Serving size: 1/2 C Calories: 528 Fat: 11.7g Saturated fat: 7g Carbohydrates: 87.8 Sugar: 58.1 Sodium: 174mg Fiber: 1.8g Protein: 13.2

3.2.1311


Workable? Delicious? Let me know in the comments.




Movie review – Oculus

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Oculus

2014

Starring: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane

Writer/Director: Mike Flanagan

Produced by Intrepid PicturesBlumhouse ProductionsWWE Studios

Distributor: Relativity Media (2014) (USA) (theatrical)


(info courtesy of imdb)


If you don’t want to be even a tiny bit spoiled, I saw it, I liked it and you’ll probably like it to. Now stop reading because I may have revealed plot points and spoilers.


Seriously, the review is starting.


Last chance …


(P.S. it’s not the destination, but the journey, Whiner)


I wanted to see Oculus for a few reasons:

1 – I like Karen Gillian and I miss her face as Amy Pond.

2 – Scots using American accents is always a hoot

3 – I love haunted item (dolls, houses, body parts) movies

4 – Douglas said we could


With all of the preliminary bases covered, we hit a movie house on the first 70-degree Saturday to ensure ZERO other people. I even got popcorn (and a refill)!


Oculus tells the story of Kaylie and Tim, adult survivors of their parents’ mental collapse and double murder over a decade prior. Kaylie is successful and single-minded, having her parents’ money to provide her education and lifestyle. Despite what happened to her, she manages to be successful in the way people are deemed successful – good job, loving fiancé, and well put together for being a survivor of not being murdered.


Tim, her younger brother, has had it tougher – now released from a mental institution after spending those same years dealing with his parents’ actions he only has eleven years of psychobabble and medications to fall back on when things shortly go to hell.


Based on a promise they made to each other as terrified children,  Kaylie takes her newly stable brother to the place where it all went down with the very singular intention of destroying the item she believes is the culprit, once and for all – The Lasser Glass. Her reasons for exonerating her dad in the murder of her mother are as deeply personal as any Daddy/Daughter relationship. Tim plays the role of skeptical audience, throwing everything we would at a very determined person to convince them of things like logic, false memories, and the strongest of all: belief in absolute retribution.


I’m a sucker for ghost stories, like some people drool over slashers and fantasy. I won’t get into the psychology of why I find them the most satisfying of themes, mostly because I have no idea, but in movie-lover’s layman terms supernatural horror should be indefinable. There shouldn’t be a “reason” the Glass is evil, and there shouldn’t ever be a way to stop it. Ghosts, like God or Monday mornings should be eternal – always there, their reasons for haunting and demoralization as ethereal as their presence.


This is a movie that takes out all of the “why didn’t they”, because Kaylie isn’t just the one that didn’t go to a mental institution and have therapy and get lithium shakes for lunch. She’s the one that grew up the internet, went to college, cited her sources, and showed the posers how it’s done. She’s techno-savvy without being flashy, The audience is treated to a brief history of the mirror, rapid-fire millennial-style, without the montage of someone typing and looking thoughtful with open books scattered around. Back story is out the way super quick, because it’s necessary but the story doesn’t hinge on it and we can get back to the meat of the tale. Everything is there except how the mirror came to be haunted. That’s actually the best part. I love that it can’t be defined.


I enjoyed the low-tech feel of the movie, because when a movie starts throwing all sorts of CGI and special effects wizardry, especially in a ghost story, it feels and it looks fake. Filmed on a (Hollywood) micro budget of $5M, more attention is paid to the story and the acting, because without that, there really is no story. There is a very nice flip because While Tim is the one that spent time sorting out his demons, Kaylie has had no such therapy, and he sounds like all of the rational explanations for things being remembered one particular way. It’s nice to have the recently insane be the rational ones. Just when you think maybe Kaylie really needs a handful of anti-psychotics and a good cry – she gets what she came for.


This movie is about perceptions and guilt and learning to leave well enough alone. Sometimes you simply can’t go back to fix the past, and no matter how hard you try, you’re only going to make things worse. The bonus bits for me were the ways the Glass twisted reality, and the divergent memories of the two survivors speak to just how deep its influence was in the past.


Movies like Oculus work because it doesn’t rely on CGI to make the Lasser Glass terrifying. It doesn’t have to because the story isn’t trying to wow you with tired pop culture clichés and gimmick placed to prove how utterly clever everyone involved. Horror movies aren’t about showing your audience what an ultimate fan you are (Rob Zombie, I’m looking at you). Writer/Director Mike Flanagan gives us information, shows us what we can expect, and the rips the rug out from beneath up with by letting our own imaginations run wild.  Good old-fashioned movie making rounds out the rest of the scares and those creepy silvery eyes of Marisol and everyone trapped in that cursed mirror. The effect is low-key and subtle which I’ll take any day of the week over stupid jump scares and lots of running and screaming. It’s hard to outsmart a supernatural entity when it can make you see anything it wants, so we were all along for the ride, which made everything happening so much more fun to watch.


 



1 – Wow Factor – This didn’t suck like I really feared it will. That makes it a win.

2 – Wander Lust – I actually ran to the concessions for my refill of popcorn because I was afraid of missing something good.

3 – Rewind – There were no blink and you’ll miss them moments, which made the dread so much more palpable

4 – Recommend – Yes, to lovers of ghost stories, haunted items and movies with tangible stories

5 – Movie Math – The Haunting + Dead of Night + the good parts of The Conjuring = Oculus

6 – Personal Movie rating (scale of 1-5 with one being Abysmal and 5 being “Start A religion”) – 3.75




The Chicken Man of Madison Heights

pooh

“We call him the Chicken Man and we can’t catch him.”


This is how Urban Legends that end with campers getting murdered start.  Except this is a grocery store and we don’t get a lot of murders in either Madison Heights or Royal Oak.


I do my shopping at my local grocers and I prefer the little local chain to the big national chain, because Doug can talk baseball with the meat clerks while I get some unfettered, productive shopping done. It used to be a Farmer Jack, and now it’s not and the workers are friendlier and the meat is better and they have a coffee grinder. My needs are simple and I am happy with the current arrangement. 


In the beer aisle that day, D was looking for Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve. Some places carry it but  only when he’s not in the mood for beer. We were looking hard for it in the cooler, because it was exactly what  he wanted, however on the second shelf between the domestics and the crafts beers what we found was a denuded fried chicken wing.  A little further down, there was a naked drummie, and then a whole pile of bones a few cases down. Doug pulled a face and I was mildly outraged. I say mildly because while it’s gross, as I get older I am less and less surprised at how disgusting people are. Besides, it gave me a chance to tattle.


He lost his taste for beer and I wandered to the end of the aisle to the hard booze counter to inform a few worker bees (a guy and a gal) that someone left the remains of their picnic lunch by the beer. The guy muttered some swears under his breath and took off for the beer aisle as if he might still catch the guy.


The gal thanked me for telling them and then leaned in with a look of quiet but fierce determination.


“We call him the Chicken Man and we can’t catch him.”


I felt the corner of my mouth twitch, but instead of giggling, I opened my eyes wider and said, “reeeee-aly” as if it were the juiciest gossip I had ever heard. On that day it probably was.


“Yeah, he comes in maybe twice a week. We never see him, we just find the bones.” Taken out of context, or uttered during a police investigation, or with a flashlight under your chin, that could be the scariest sentence known to man. In a grocery store, it’s merely theft and she seemed very put off.


I, on the other hand, became less grossed out and way more interested. I declined to ask more questions because everyone knows that people who insert themselves into investigations are usually the perpetrators trying to squeeze out what the authorities know to remain one step ahead, so everything from here on out in this post is wild conjecture.


As far as you know.


*coff*


There is a Mystery Man who orders chicken from the Hot Food Counter, makes his way around the market from the Deli, past Seafood, through Produce, just skirting Wine to end up in the beer aisle, first with a container of fried chicken, then with just bones. He leaves them as either tribute to the fryer gods or as a means of eluding forensic detection. Time of theft cannot be gleaned from cold chicken bones (again, everyone knows that). The deed being done, he slips away leaving parched patrons to discover his grisly tableau.


This makes me wonder a few things:



  • Do people see him eating and don’t say anything?

  • Do they not say anything because they are “minding their own business” and fear being rude?

  • Do they not say anything because they are wondering if they could get in on the same five-finger-licking good deal?

  • Does he fear being caught? (I can’t speak to the surveillance camera situation because it’s never occurred to me to eat an entire chicken and not pay for it.)

  • Is chicken even delicious when eaten that fast?


I’m calling the Chicken Man a he for reasons that are probably entirely sexist, but I believe that like female serial killers, women that leave gnawed bones lying around in beer cases are probably very rare.


Granted this isn’t the Grey Lady of Willard Library or even William or Chloe of Myrtles Plantation, but when you shop for groceries on the eastern edge of Oakland County, you can’t be picky about your local mysteries.


There is a house on the corner of my street that looks abandoned, but the property owner drives by a few times a week to make sure no one has burned it down.  He may even be pretending to work on it, I dunno, but the house is dilapidated, kinda spooky and very foreboding. Are there bodies inside? I’m too scared to peek in the windows to confirm.


There used to be a statue of a naked woman bathing in a bird bath in front of a beautiful house on Main Street and I used to think classy mythology-loving people lived there. She would gracefully moon Main Street no matter the weather and once I thought about knitting her a hat. Were there recitations of the Iliad by moonlight right before the virgin sacrifices in the house of the naked bather? I’d always intended to knock and be nosy, but then a drunk driver knocked the statue down last fall and now all I do is mourn her smashing  when I jog by the empty concrete spot where she used to stand.



On the corner at the end of my block, a social club sits nestled at the back of a dry cleaners.  I never see anyone there so I assume it’s a front to launder money. I don’t know what a social club is, but if I join, will they give me a loan?


Back to the Chicken Man because he’s still the most interesting thing we’ve got going on. Royal Oak is not known for its deep intellectual conundrums. Personally I hope they don’t catch him. Some mysteries aren’t meant to be solved, and while I’d never steal and eat a whole anything in a grocery store, part of me roots for the ballsy chicken thief. I hope he keeps the wishbones and on new moons makes impossible wishes.


There’s a story in that.


The Fox and the Moon Photo credit  © 2013 Tamara Fraser

The Fox and the Moon <br />Photo credit © 2013 Tamara Fraser 





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