Thursday, September 30, 2010

Zombie Sex-tacular! presents 'Dance of the Dead'



Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Welcome to part two of the Robert Englund Zombie Sex-tacular! Before we get to the zombies, let me tell you a brief story of when I was first introduced to Mr. Englund's awesome greatness. I must have been about eight years old (maybe younger) and I was on a trip with my aunts. We were staying in a hotel and had the television on late at night. There was a show on, just at the very end. I don't think my aunts quite knew what the show was, or else they probably wouldn't have let me watch it (then again, I also have very distinct memories of watching Ghoulies 2 and Killer Klowns... at my aunts' house, so they probably didn't care all that much).

On the show, there ended up being a girl who was ripped to shreds by a clawed hand as her mother and sister looked on. That clawed glove belonged to Freddy Krueger and the show was Freddy's Nightmares. I remembered that imagery so vividly throughout my youth and regarded that moment of seeing my first glimpse of Freddy with a kind of reverence. It was later that I discovered the actor who played him and developed a bit of a crush. And ironically, just this past year I had the good fortune of seeing the very same episode on the 'Chiller' TV network that now airs Freddy's Nightmares! It was just as I remembered it, although it was a lot more '80s than I realized at the time.

As I mentioned last week, Robert Englund has been in so many things! I'm particularly fond of his performance as Erik Destler in the often overlooked 1989 version of The Phantom of the Opera. And although I wasn't too fond of the movie, Englund's performance in Tobe Hooper's Night Terrors was phenomenal! In it, he plays not only the Marquis de Sade (and gives a better performance than Geoffrey Rush in Quills), but also a modern character who is the leader of a cult that worships the Marquis. As I said, not the best film, but amazing acting on Englund's part.


Which brings us to the topic of today! Englund starred in another Tobe Hooper directed piece that was also a part of the Masters of Horror series (which was discussed in the 'Haeckel's Tale' blog). The episode was entitled "Dance of the Dead," and features Englund in a similar role as last week's Zombie Strippers! He plays a character who is the owner of a night club (the Doom Room) with a very special form of entertainment. The show takes place in a war destroyed America. It is very much a barren post apocalyptic world in which many survivors have been burned and scarred by Blitz attacks from years before. One town in particular, Muskeet, is a lawless paradise for those on the very fringes of society. It isn't shocking that this is where the Doom Room is.

It was discovered during World War III (yes, three) that certain germ-gases caused something known as the "Lifeless Undead Phenomenon" or "L.U.P." Under the gas' influence, dead bodies remained erect and rigid and had a rudimentary form of muscle reactions (spasms, twitching), which was later known as the "loopy's dance." At Englund's club, the L.U.P.s are the nightly entertainment, displayed under the guise of scientific experiments so as to stay legal. And while the phenomenon could occur in any dead body, of course the L.U.P.s used in this show are all young hot naked female bodies that are shocked into motion by cattle prods. Because you should have learned by now that "zombies" are very sexy! The entire club has a Sado-Masochistic feel to it and Englund's character takes advantage of the L.U.P.'s wide open mouth expression for some pretty perverse zombie lovin'!


There's a whole lot that goes on in this sixty minute episode, all in front of the Doom Room's backdrop. I won't give away or tell the whole plot because this is a film you really should see! Not only does Englund give a sufficiently creepy, and at one point a very sexually disturbing, performance, but the entire ensemble is pretty top notch. The design and visuals in Dance of the Dead are pretty fantastic (especially the club) and it has a killer soundtrack written by Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins fame! And you won't soon be forgetting the look of the L.U.P.s; I'm not usually very squeamish, but I couldn't get their frightening facial expressions out of my mind for days after I saw this for the first time back in 2005.

This episode should still be available on Netflix-- what are you waiting for? Kick off the Halloween Season with Robert Englund and the dance of the dead...

I Heart Banned Books

In case you're not a book nerd, you might not know that it's Banned Books Week. I think it's important to recognize books that have been banned or challenged because they usually end up being some of the most influential books in terms of outlook or genre*.

And without fail, they're challenged because they make you think, deal with magical-elements-which-means-they're-the-spawn-of-satan, or have gratuitous sex and drugs.

Please. While we're at it, why don't we ban most of the shows on MTV, the CW, and FOX? Or is it perfectly acceptable for your 13 year old to watch Snooki be drunken mess and attempt to hook up with her housemates? Oh, is that hypocrisy on your face?

It angers me. I think it's in within your right as a parent to decide what your child can or cannot read, but don't make that decision for my kid. (I'm look at you, Tara Wolstein**.

Now that I've gotten off my soapbox, I present one of my favorite books that has been challenged: Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison. Rennison was one of the most challenged authors in 2003, according to the ALA.

What's It About?
Blurb from Goodreads:
She has a precocious 3-year-old sister who tends to leave wet nappies at the foot of her bed, an insane cat who is prone to leg-shredding "Call of the Wild" episodes, and embarrassing parents who make her want to escape to Stonehenge and dance with the Druids. No wonder 14-year-old Georgia Nicolson laments, "Honestly, what is the point?" A Bridget Jones for the younger set, Georgia records the momentous events of her life--and they are all momentous--in her diary, which serves as a truly hilarious account of what it means to be a modern girl on the cusp of womanhood. 
This was a fun, quick read. It didn't send any message or deal with any heavy issues. I could relate to Georgia and her friends. Hell, some people I know could have been character studies for Georgia's friends.

Okay. Why's It Challenged?
  • Profanity/ Inappropriate language
  • Sexual content

Given I first heard the F-bomb dropped by my bestie when I was in 2nd grade and my peers were hooking up in the back of the school bus when I was in 8th, these reasons are bogus. Wouldn't you rather your child know this stuff happens instead of living with their head in the ground? Oh, wait...

The follow up to Angus,  On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God, was also challenged. I wouldn't mind, but the rationale is one of the more stupid ones I've seen. Ready for it?
"...that as the father of a 12-year-old girl, he is concerned because not all sex offenders are locked up in jail. He said someone who is psychologically unstable might see a student reading the book, think the child was sexually permissive and follow her***."
*headdesk*

Over 50 bloggers are talking about their favorite banned book today. Head over to Grab a Pen and scroll to the bottom to read what others are saying.

How do you feel about book censorship?
Do you love a book that's been challenged? (Click for a long list.)

 * The Giver, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Catcher in the Rye... I can go on, but the list is too ridiculous for words.
** Yes, I'm aware that Tara Wolstein is a figment of my imagination, but I'm making a point.
*** Quote taken directly from Kidspeakonline.org.
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Last.fm hit of the day:A Kiss to Remember by My Dying Bride

REMINDER: Music Month is still happening. Best comment of the week wins a mix CD.

PS: It's Zombie Thursday. Come back later and see what Miranda will talk about.
PPS: There's a big book contest over at Wordbird. Enter.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Best of September


Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's question: What's the best book you've read this month?

For once, the decision was easy. I only read 5 books this month, 4 being paranormal romance novels that require no effort other than turning the page.

Ender's Game is my pick for September. I got in a magical box from Erinn right after I finished reading The Writer's Digest Guide to Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, which was partially written by Orson Scott Card. He explained things in that book so freaking well, I jumped with joy seeing Ender's Game.*

I'll try not to dive into the story, because I'd hate to give anything away when I know a portion of the Lurkdom has this on their TBR list.

First off, I hate Sci-Fi**. I never feel smart enough to read it and the only take away I have is an epic headache in the middle of my forehead. One great thing about Ender's Game is that even though it's Sci-Fi, it never felt like it.

What I liked was the split between Ender's POV and the "administration." It's only when you hit the scenes with the "administration," do you remember that Ender is a kid. It's horrifying to see how he's manipulated throughout.

My only complaint with the book is that I felt it could've ended sooner.

Would I recommend Ender's Game? Most definitely.

What's the best book you read this month?


* Jumping for joy when you live with The White One is problematic, BTW. Since when you jump from happiness, he jumps in fright.
** With the exception of all thing Madeleine L'Engle, I can forgive her talk of the 4th dimension because I love her.
_______
Last.fm hit of the day: Bring Me The Head of The Preacher Man by Siouxsie and the Banshees

REMINDER: Music Month is still happening. The best comment of the week gets a mix CD.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

And the Best Use of an 80s Metal Band Goes To...

Norton Antivirus, of course.



And if you deny Dokken?



And welcome to all of you who de-lurked yesterday. It's great to get to know the Lurkdom.

____
Last.fm hit of the day: Thunderkiss '65 by White Zombie

Monday, September 27, 2010

Your Turn!

I've noticed there are a few more people in the Lurkdom as of late. *waves to all new faces*


Because of this - and my lack of attention span - I want you guys to talk. Introduce yourself and tell me what brought you here. Tell me about your hobbies and if you blog, what you blog about. With 50 plus of you in the Lurkdom, there's no reason for not talking. Even if I know you, tell me something below. You could win some music, after all.

I write YA and am seeking representation on my contemporary novel, FALLING TO NORMAL. I blog about writing, cats, my imaginary child, and anything else that amuses me. I have a co-host, Miranda, who runs the show on Thursdays where it's all things zombie.

Now it's your turn. Tell me about yourself.

____
Last.fm hit of the day: ACT I: King of the Franks by Christopher Lee

Music Month Week 3 Winner Is...

ELANA JOHNSON!!!!

Elana commented on The Many Layered Antagonist with:
"Oh my heck! I HATED Team Rocket. And I watched a lot of Pokemon with my son. Holy crap. I thought those days were behind me. *shudder*"

There was more, but this was the part that made me snort my soda.

Elana I'm sorry I traumatized you, but please email me at ragdoll29 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Many Layered Antagonist

Now with television references!

As a participant of The Great Blogging Experiment (you should read the experiment name in a loud announcer voice), I'm supposed to talk about creating compelling characters.

The most important thing to remember is that your characters can't be one dimensional. They all need to have some depth that helps them be relatable to the reader. Yes, even the spare change guy that tips off your hero in Chapter 3.

Of course, not all the characters you come up with will have the same level of depth. The bigger the character, the more levels they should have. For me, the most compelling characters are always the antagonist of a story. This is because as a writer, we're trying to justify why the antagonist* is an ass.

Almost by definition, antagonists have to be multi-faceted. After some thinking, all adversaries should have the following 4 levels of characterization.

Surface Level. This what we see from jump. They're snarky, malicious, and lie all the time, shove you in a locker. They're bad ass and, in real life, we'd avoid them at all costs. Think Spike in early Buffy.

Intelligence Level. Almost always, the antagonist is clever, even if not smart. If not, then you're dealing with Jessie and James from Team Rocket. If the reader and the antagonist think the same, the humanizing process begins.

Mr. Softie Level. Just like your protagonist should have that streak that's less-than-honorable, your antagonist should have something that softens them up instead. This is another way to show how no matter how shitty of a person they are, they still feel something. Dr. Claw did have a cat.

Justification Level. This is the final part of the character puzzle the reader and your protagonist sees. It's a slow process that, as writers, we try to craft from page 1, aka The Why Of It All. What happened to them that taunt your protagonist's *insert deep meaningful relationship tie here* every possible minute. The justification doesn't have to make logical sense, but your antagonist needs to believe it. The backbone to The Why Of It All usually ends up being A Great Hurt that a reader can relate to. They were betrayed by their mother; the Fates decided to fuck around again; the girlfriend screwed with their head too many times; or Serena gets all the attention and I mean ALL.


What other layers should your antagonist have?


* Antagonist in this case is being used in villain terms only.
_______
Last.fm hit of the day:  You by Candlebox


REMINDER: Music Month is still happening for two more weeks. The best comment of the week gets a mix CD.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Zombie Sex-tacular! presents 'Zombie Strippers!'



Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

**Today's Zombie Thursday post contains adult content and language. Not that I could stop you, but please don't read if you are underage or are easily offended by things like nudity, sex, stripping, and zombies. You have been warned.**

The only thing that's better than one item about zombie sex is TWO things involving zombie sex! That's right, friends, today the Zombie Sex-tacular is back! Last night on the Facebooks, I posed a "trivia" question of sorts to my friends. I asked to see if anyone could guess the celebrity crush I will be writing about today. Not only were there no correct guesses, but those who I thought would be most likely to guess either didn't guess at all or were wrong. But that's okay, no worries. I'll have to come up with a better contest of sorts. Until then, I will be talking about two movies (this week and next) that star one of my very first Hollywood crushes-- Robert Englund!!

All the horror fans reading this should know instantly who I am talking about. For the casual scary movie viewer who may not recognize the name, certainly you've heard of a Mr. Freddy Krueger? Well, he was originated and played by Robert Englund in every single Nightmare on Elm Street film (we'll ignore the new remake because... well, yeah, we're just ignoring it). However, Englund has had a very diverse career and appears in over a hundred different films and television shows. Notable roles have been in The Phantom of the Opera, Wishmaster, the original V television series (again not the remake...what's with all the stupid remakes?), and a surprising number of Disney movies and cartoon voiceovers.

But for the next two weeks I am focusing on two of his movies that you may not know about and probably haven't seen. We'll start with the 2008 film Zombie Strippers! which co-stars pornography industry diva (okay, I'll just say it, she's a hardcore porn star), Jenna Jameson. Zombie Strippers! is basically what you would expect from the title-- there are zombies, there are strippers, and then there are zombies who strip! While this isn't a porno film, the very basic (almost lack of plot) set up works like a lot of porn movies. You don't really have to know or care what's going on, you're just going to see a lot of graphic content. And I'm not just talking about a sex porn film set up. This movie setup also works in what is referred to as "torture porn" films (think Hostel). The majority of the film is stripping. So right away, if you do not feel comfortable with graphic full frontal nudity, do not watch this film.


Zombie Strippers! succeeds at a lot of things, but also fails at a lot. The director and writer Jay Lee appeared to be making a sort of political satire, but this is where the biggest failure occurred. The film is supposed to be based on the Ionesco play "Rhinoceros" (the club in the film is called "Rhinos") which comes out of the Theatre of the Absurd. I can definitely see how this film is supposed to an Absurdist piece. However, I don't feel as if the type of viewer who would see this film would get that. I'm not saying this to criticize the average viewer. Honestly, at first I even had trouble seeing it as a type of Theatre of the Absurd script. I get now what the director was trying to do, but I feel ultimately he failed. The real message about conformity, mob mentality, and defiance (to name a few themes that are present in Ionesco's work which criticized blind conformity to Communist rule and Nazism) is lost behind boobs and lap dances.

The movie starts off by explaining that it takes place in the near future. Through manipulating the Constitution and the government, Bush has entered his fourth term as President and has outlawed public nudity. Plus, not only is the country still at war with Iraq and Afghanistan, we are now at war with many other countries. Casualties are high and a biotech company is developing a new virus that will reanimate fallen soldiers so that they keep fighting. Typical, typical... I'm sure you can see where this is going.

Obviously, the virus gets out through an infected soldier and he runs into an underground strip club. It's an extremely popular (and illegal) place. But at some point, the infected zombie soldier rips out the throat of the most popular dancer, Jenna Jameson's character, Kat. And of course, Kat turns into a zombie. It's oddly explained earlier that for some reason if the host body has two X chromosomes (females), the virus doesn't completely impair mental ability. Kat is a zombie and she still hungers for human flesh, but by golly! She still wants to strip. After a couple other girls are infected, it is obvious that the club goers are only interested in the undead dancers and boo the living girls off the pole. This preference makes the living girls struggle with their own internal desires and fears in succumbing to the new zombie stripping fad. Should they or shouldn't they become the undead? (Ah ha! See, the struggle to conform!)

A huge success is Jenna Jameson's first striptease as a zombie. Her outfit is amazing (and was apparently custom made for her) and it's a shame that it doesn't stay on for long. And while I don't find her particularly attractive (her fake boobs are just a bit too big and, well, fake looking for my tastes), she is one athletic woman. I was pretty jealous of her flexibility on the pole and it made me want to start working out more! Another awesome zombie stripper is played by musician Roxy Saint. She plays the token goth stripper, Lilith, who eventually turns into one bad ass zombie. Her first zombie striptease is both disturbing and hot. And her zombie makeup and 'look' that they designed for her is by far the best in the film. She also has the best kill in the whole movie where she rips a man's head in two by pulling open his jaws. Another high point in the film is a zombie stripper fight to find out who is the star of the club. It ends epicly when Kat shoots billiard balls out of her vagina. I am not lying about this.


And of course, another high point is Robert Englund. As a classically trained actor, he obviously gives the best performance in the movie. He plays the club owner Ian Essko (ha ha, get it? Ian Essko?). Ian enjoys his success in the illegal stripping business but is clearly disgusted by the girls, all of who he thinks will give him herpes by just touching him. When he realizes that the zombie girls are the new big draw, he decides to cash in on the fad. So what if they eat and kill a few of his patrons? He just locks up the newly made zombie men down in a cage in the basement. Also, one of the best satirical jokes in the film revolves around Englund's character. A jab is made at the NRA during the final zombie battle. Ian and a few other employees load up on Ian's gun collection... guns he doesn't know how to use. He's a card carrying NRA member and as he says, he has the right to own them... he doesn't have to know how to properly use them. (More statements on mob mentality and the need to join and do as the group does!)

It was somewhat frustrating that at times this film was incredibly clever and I thought it was going somewhere, but then it would fall flat. A lot of the dialogue and characters fit that of an Absurdist piece-- a script filled with clich├ęs and bad jokes, archetypal characters and stereotypes (like our friend the token goth girl). But it also just seemed like a poorly written and badly acted film because it was a poorly written film and badly acted film, as if it was an Absurdist piece by accident and not done purposely. Even the makeup and special effects were all over the place. This was a very low budget film (I believe it was made on only a million dollars), but in some scenes the makeup and gore were amazing! But in others, the gun blasts and headshots looked like something that I would do in iMovie (and this is not a compliment).

Absurdist tragicomedy questions aside, the most crucial element of the film that I am interested in is the fact that in becoming zombies, the strippers are highly more desirable. As mentioned above, the male patrons only want the zombies. During Kat's first undead dance, the men look on in silence. The dance is raw, primal, lusty. There's more of an edge to it than standard stripping. Plus, she's covered in blood and the entire club saw her dead minutes before. The men don't know what to think. But as soon as the dance is over, there's a moment of silence and then they erupt in cheers. Which brings us to the question of "why?" Why are zombies so sexy? It may just be the strangest sexual dichotomy ever. But believe me, it exists in many places. This filmmaker could have very easily made a modern 'Rhinoceros' by using zombies without the stripper element. In fact, it would have made more sense to leave out the strippers and just set the zombies in a small town where people started changing and wanted to become zombies. So why strippers? What is so fascinating about zombies as sex objects? I definitely have a theory... a thesis, if you will, on this exact subject. But I realize sixty pages of psychophysiological and pyschoanalytical research is way too much to post in one blog.


On that note, share your thoughts and join me next week for part two of the Robert Englund Zombie Sex-tacular!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Friends in My Head...

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's question: If you went to high school with your characters, would you be friends?

The short answer of "no" has nothing to do with my characters as people, but everything to do with high school Alicia. If I didn't know you, I was quiet. If you were popular, I sure as hell didn't break the social structure and talk to you unless forced into a project together. If you were lower than me on the social structure, I ignored you.

High School + Alicia = Misanthropic Bitch 

It wasn't until I headed to college that I broke out of that shell and talked to pretty much anyone* and developed friendships with people that I wouldn't have done as a high schooler.


Now that the disclaimer portion of RTW is out of the way...


In FALLING TO NORMAL, Cheyenne's too busy working through her own issues to actively seek friends. The few she has came with her "new in town" package, courtesy of her cousin Joey. The friends he has are similar to a group that I was acquaintances with in high school. It's safe to say I'd be friendly with their circle of friends.


Since PHOENIX RISING is still in it's shiny "I'm-figuring-it-all-out-and-love-it-unconditionally" stage, I can't speak with authority on who I'd be high school friends with. That said, Kyla and Evie** are both super friendly and go out of their way to make you feel welcome. I don't think not being their friend would be an option.


Erinn made a good point about characters being different than the people she's friends with. I agree. The majority of my characters - while have some similarities to me or people I know - are so different, that it's hard to say. If they were in real-time, I wouldn't know them as intimately as I do with them on paper and that makes the decision that much harder, but given how well I know each of them and why they behave a certain way, I'd say it would be hard not to friend or chat with them. Again, if this was college Alicia and they were real, I'd totally be friends or friendly with all of them. Yes (to those who've beta'd it), even the queen bitch in FALLING TO NORMAL.


If a fictional character came to life, could you picture yourself being friends with them?

Don't forget to check out what the other participants are saying over at YA Highway.


* Yes, even if I didn't like them. 
** Note to self: a name change might be necessary for sidekick.
______
Last.fm hit of the day: The Rising by Trivium


REMINDER: Music Month is still happening for two more weeks. The best comment of the week gets a mix CD.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Four For Friday, Tuesday Edition

Sorry for the radio silence yesterday, but work deadlines encroach.

It's been a while since I've talked about Phantasma, and I blame lack of communication from Tasma's new teacher.Still, I know she has fans in the Lurkdom. Because of that reason and because I love you all, I present

Four For Friday: Little Phantasma Tuesday Edition
  1. The terrarium brought home from Beth lasted through July. When The Stripey One finally scared the final anole, we upgraded to hermit crabs. They are still kicking.
  2. During summer camp, Phantasma and Tessa Wolstein reached a shady truce so they could stand up to a grade 8 bully sadly named Buster.
  3. School has been in session for most of the month and Tasma hasn't brought home one assignment to date.
  4. Her new favorite lunch is open-faced Nutella and banana sandwiches.

I'm looking for a volunteer to do email correspondence for Phantasma's 7th grade year. If you're interested in creating email notifications, email me at ragdoll29 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

_____
Last.fm hit of the day: Allergic to You by Trashlight Vision


REMINDER - Music Month is still happening for two more weeks. The best comment of the week gets a mix CD.

Music Month Week 2 Winners Are...

ROBERT GUTHRIE & ERINN!!!!

I tried to narrow it down, but sometimes two is better than one.

Robert commented on the Squirrel Cuteness post saying:
"In college, a squirrel fell into my room and onto my sleeping chest, making me bolt up and yell and the squirrel pea on me. Squirrels..."

I almost peed myself reading it and he gets extra props for telling an entire story in one sentence.

Erinn commented on last week's RTW post saying:
"Athurian England isn't medieval England though, its' 500 AD. The Morte D'Arthur was written in 1400's but it was a romanticized version. Mallory was in prison when he wrote it.

Sorry I spilled my history nerd info on you. I'll get you something to clean up the stain."

I always think Erinn's funny, but her history nerd spillage did me in.

Robert email me at ragdoll29 (at) yahoo (dot) com with your physical address.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Not About Lemurs At All

It's Friday and the event planning dragons are totally breathing down my neck.

What does that mean?
If you're just joining the part that means no true post today.

Well, that stinks.
I know.

Are you sure you're not in a Bejeweled vortex?
While I have taken a Bejeweled break, I'm no way stuck in a vortex.

I don't really believe you, but will play along.
Thanks.

So now what?
A picture. Because that's how I roll.






How awesome is this sign? It was on the lemur display at the Southwick Zoo. Unfortunately, we didn't see any babies wandering around, but there were tons of other cool things going on that I promise to blog about someday soon.

Lurkdom, do you have any zoo stories for me?

____
Last.fm hit of the day: Evening by Calabrese

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Zombie Prom at Dragon*Con




Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Once the world is overrun by zombies, some of the comforts we've come to take for granted will be harder to get. One of these things will certainly be the internet and access to the web. So today, I am writing to you all in true post-apocalyptic fashion-- from stolen internet! It's hard to believe that I have been living in Chicago for exactly two months to the day. And I still don't have my own internet access. Usually I have to go to the nearest Starbucks or Borders to utilize their free WiFi. Every time I have bothered to turn on my own computer in my apartment, I have checked to see what my Airport (fancy Apple term for wireless picker-upper thingie) finds. It always finds about twelve different signals. Unfortunately, all these signals are always password protected. Until now! Someone in the building is actually too stupid to set a password up. So here I am.

I mentioned last week the reason for my absence of late. Again, I apologize for this. But now that I am settled back in Chi-town, I'm excited to bring you a few more updates and stories from my time at Dragon*Con and specifically my evening at Zombie Prom!


For the most part, Dragon*Con was awesome! There were a few downfalls, but on the whole I had an amazing time again this (my second) year. Probably the most notable negative aspect was the con's organization, or really lack of organization. This fact didn't really come as a surprise as it was also fairly unorganized last year. For example, last year we waited about two hours to purchase our badges. This year, we decide to pre-register and thought this would save us time. Wrong. We actually had to wait for OVER FOUR HOURS to get a badge we had already purchased. Lame, right? Nonetheless, fun was still found while waiting in line. We met some cool guys whom we kept running into at various points throughout the weekend. Also, vendors and promoters were using the line time to pass out their wares-- notice the cool "Here zombie, zombie, zombie" sticker above? Yep! I got that while waiting in line!

One of the best Zombie events to attend was Friday night's Zombie Prom! I never went to my own high school prom, but I imagine it would have been similar-- I spent a long time doing my make up and hair, snuck in my own alcohol, and had a lot of fun dancing with my friends. Of course, for this prom (unlike what I would have done for my HS prom), my make up consisted of cuts, bruises, sunken eyes, and lots of fake blood. The dancing was more like shambling. The alcohol was still alcohol. And ironically, I ended up wearing the dress I originally bought to wear to Alicia's wedding! I ended up buying a different dress, and this one sat in my closet for almost three years, only to resurface as Zombie Couture!


Oh, and also like a real prom... the music mostly sucked.


Still, despite the sucky music, fun was had! While at Zombie Prom, I tried playing the part accordingly. I shambled. I drug my limp foot around. I groaned BRRRAAAIIINNNSSS like any self-respecting zombie would do. If some unsuspecting prom-goer walked by who wasn't dressed as the living dead, my hoard would attack! When Zombie Hunters would walk by we'd "run" in terror. At one point, people were hitting balloons around. Inevitably these balloons would pop and my friend and I thought it would be hilarious to act as if the popping were gunshots to the head that took us down. The crowd seemed to appreciate our little act!


For the crowning of Zombie Prom King & Queen, actors from the new AMC series The Walking Dead (don't worry, I'll be talking about this show in future weeks! Just don't forget, it premiers on Halloween night!) were in attendance. I was hoping they would screen a sneak peek of the show not available yet or at least have some swag, but no such luck. Still, it was cool of them to stop by, even if it was only for five minutes.

It was definitely a fun night! I kept up the zombie act all the way back to the elevators where I proceed to try and "push" the button over and over with no skill or coordination. I even kept on the zombie make up when we went to play a midnight game of "Are You a Death Eater?" which was a Harry Potter style Mafia game (you might have played the regular version back in grade school). If you were wondering-- yes, it was awesome and I'd love to play it with a group of friends in the future!!

If you are a fan of zombies, pop-culture, and other dorky fandom stuff, I really recommend you get yourself to Atlanta next Labor Day weekend. There is something for everyone and I promise you'll have fun! I have some other zombie stuff to share with you all, but it will have to wait until next Thursday. As a side note, the fabulous Zombie Thursday hostess and main writer here at Slice of the Blog Pie, Alicia, informed me today on the Twitters that the Zombie Sex-tacular! post about Haeckel's Tale has been the most viewed post since June. Woot! As I 'retweeted' back to her (or reply twitted? Whatever!), it just goes to show that zombies and sex will always be the most winning of combinations. She claims this is disturbing. I say, "Here zombie, zombie, zombie...."

Go get your zombie sex on and join me back here next Thursday for some more zombie lovin'!!

Battle of the Betas, Round 2

Last month, a super brave Sarah Enni gave up her first page for a beta read. We loved the experiment so much, we've decided to make it a monthly thing. This time around, I'm the one up for crit with my urban fantasy WIP, Phoenix Rising.

So go check out what the beta club has to say.

Sarah Enni
Raven Ashley
Kate Hart
Cory Jackson
Meredith Primeau
Windy Aphayrath

And if you're interested in joining Round 3, drop a comment on any of our blogs or Twitter.

And, it's Zombie Thursday to boot! Definitely come back later to see what Miranda will talk about. I'm betting DragonCon.

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Last.fm hit of the day: Dawn of the Dead* by Murderdolls

* Last.fm knows it's Zombie Thursday too, I guess.

REMINDER - Music Month is still happening. The best comment of the week gets a mix CD.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

From the Flux Capacitor to Camelot

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's question:  If you could travel back to any historical era for research purposes, which would you choose?

Damn you, YA Highway! Why did you have to specify this was for research? I could've gone so many ways if you left a gaping whole of possibility. I could go back to the 80s and truly appreciate the hair metal scene, for instance. The second runner up is revolutionary France because my inner goth likes the concept of all that bloodshed and I harbor a deep love for A Tale of Two Cities.

But for research?

Marty, you want to go WHERE?
I'm not a big historical fiction person. I read it from time to time, but never thought of writing it myself, mainly because laziness has ruled my ass since I left college on the research front*. However, if I can use the DeLorean and zip anywhere I want with no time limit?

Arthurian England without a doubt.

Not to be confused with the fancier, more enlightened cousin of European history, aka The Renaissance, I'm talking about the middle ages when things were "rougher" and could lend a different outlook on a story. (This is, of course, in my totally nonprofessional historical fiction reader perspective.) Besides, I'm an Arthurian nerd as much as I'm a follower of the Beam.

So I'd write historical fiction with an Arthurian bent and since I got a soft spot for one of the supposed villains of Arthurian lore, I'd have to use Mordred as my protagonist. To do this effectively, I'd need to find out tons of things to guarantee authenticity: how bastards were treated, what the general attitudes were among the royalty and non, how often men and women interacted and how, how hardcore was Christianity as the mindset versus paganism and how often did people fake the Christianity thing to continue pagan practices, et cetera, blah blah blah.

Lurkdom, tell me: If you go head off to a different time period - for any reason - where would you go and why?

And don't forget to stop by YA Highway to see what the other peeps are saying!



* When the research bug does take over though, I have a nerdy blast.
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Last.fm hit of the day: Bang Your Head by Dope Stars, Inc.


REMINDER - Music Month is still happening. The best comment of the week gets a mix CD.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In Which I Concede Squirrel Cuteness

Being the devious monsters they are, squirrels are no doubt adaptable. They can creep into almost any situation and get away with it.

Oh, really? Like what?
Like pretending to be a cat of course.



Hubby showed me this and I could forgive being stalked by the furry devils every day of my undergraduate career. Since it's just a baby, it has no clue about it's inherent evil.

Some things are definitely learned.

Squirrel paranoia aside, have you experienced anything where nature is overruled by nuture?

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Last.fm hit of the day: Send Me An Angel by Deadstar Assembly

Monday, September 13, 2010

PSA Interlude: Renaissance Faire Edition

Yesterday Hubby and I went to King Richard's Faire with a few friends. KRF is the renaissance faire that happens every weekend in September and October in Massachusetts.

There are only two reasons I go.
  1. Historically inaccurate costumes, and
  2. The big cat show
(To be honest, if we didn't have half off tickets courtesy of Groupon, I probably wouldn't have gone. It's overpriced, cheesy, and you have to pay for tons of stuff once you get inside anyway.)

That out of the way, I have something to say to those in the Lurkdom who go to Ren faires and decide to dress up: please dress per the time.

In recent years, I've seen Sith lords, Obi Wan, and medieval vikings to name a few. People, it's a renaissance faire. That means if you decide to dress, you dress in things like this:
Image taken from here.

Well, maybe not that extreme, but definitely you don't get tarted up in barely there clothing or go as a modern day ninja. Commit yourself, people. Please. That means if you're going to be a "lady" maybe you should leave the Nikes at home. As progressive as Queen Elizabeth was, I can't imagine her thinking "Oooo... TRAINERS*! I MUST show these to Walsingham. He can use them to sneak when he spies!"

Which brings me to one other thing. Not everyone in the renaissance talked in a high British accent**.The renaissance happened in different parts of Europe and Russia with a bit of a time shift in each place. Remember that and spare the faux accent. Personally, I'd love to know if these two used an accent at all, not to mention what they're supposed to be. Suggestions would be welcome.




* Sneakers on the other side of the pond.
** Especially when you know that the word renaissance means "rebirth" in French. Just sayin'.
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Last.fm hit of the day: Maybellene by Chuck Berry

REMINDER - Music month is going on. Best comment of the week gets a mix CD.

Music Month Week 1 Winner Is...

Amparo Ortiz!

Amparo commented on the 80s Four For Friday post saying:

"Since I was born in the late 80's, I sort of don't have anything I miss :( But I TOTALLY love seeing VH1's shows on the decade. Those make me very thankful I can't remember a thing. :)"

The final sentence killed me.

Amparo email me at ragdoll29 (at) yahoo (dot) com with your address.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Blog Spotlight: The Cutting Edge of Ordinary

Show me a person who doesn't love food and you're showing me an anorexic. I know, probably the worst blog opening in history, but it works for today.

If you're not a food lover, you might want to skip the rest of this entry and read about Sidney.

Chances are if you read this blog, you're either a friend, girl, writer, or a combination of the three. From what I read during the latest Road Trip Wednesday involving DUFF Kits, we all like a good smack of comfort food. The Cutting Edge of Ordinary definitely covers this.

The Cutting Edge of Ordinary is primarily a blog showcasing recipes that Lisa has tried. She intersperses these with photos she's taken and stories of her life. But the food, especially desserts... Food smut is the best description. I mean, seriously. Look at the brownies. (Yep, she took the picture too.)

Brownies on steroids, courtesy of The Cutting Edge of Ordinary.
Brownies. Seriously.

Lisa take great stills of her garden, family, and places she's been. She has a great eye.

With her recipes, she includes what her family/ friends/ test subjects think about the food. She includes her thoughts as well. And if you need a recipe containing

Then you should definitely add her blog to your reader.

Have a great weekend.


_______
Last.fm hit of the day: People Hate Me by Murderdolls

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Zombies on Holiday

Most of you may not know that I have spent the last week and a half on vacation. I'm still technically on vacation! Unfortunately, the places I have stayed during my trip (my parents' house, my brother's house, and a Westin hotel) have not had internet access. Not even the hotel had free WiFi! So I'm very sorry to have missed posting last week, and feel bad because this post is being made from my BlackBerry and isn't nearly as thorough as my usual Zombie Thursday postings. But at least it's something!

The majority of my vacation was spent in Atlanta at the annual Dragon*Con convention. This year marked my second time at the event. I had a great time this year and got to do and see some cool zombie stuff!! I can't wait to do a better update, but it will require the use of my actual computer and real internet. Until then, here is a small teaser of my time at Zombie Prom! http://plixi.com/p/43110172

Stop on by next week when I get my life and Zombie Thursdays back on track and on schedule! And don't forget, all you gamers and movie fans, the new Resident Evil movie opens tomorrow in 3D! I can't wait to check it out, and you should go too.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Duff Kit

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday. 

Today's question: What's in your DUFF kit?


Some of you in the Lurkdom might be asking, "Besides the beer Homer drinks, what the hell is a DUFF kit?"


DUFF is short for Designated Ugly Fat Friend and you can learn more about it by picking up The Duff. A DUFF kit is a bunch of things you keep handy for night when you're hanging out. It can contain:
  • Your favorite drink
  • Your most comfy and old shoes
  • Movies featuring your favorite male actor
  • Your favorite junk food
  • Your most comfortable piece of clothing.

So as long as it's comfy and familiar, it's a go. I got to admit, I have something pretty similar handy, and use it whenever I'm sick/ feel utterly useless/ working diligently. Here are the highlights of my kit:

Drink. Even though my go-to is Diet Coke, I don't drink mass quantities unless I'm falling asleep as I work. Herbal tea or mint hot chocolate* replace Diet Coke nicely.

Shoes. These awesome boot slippers my friend Steph gifted to me one year. They're white, furry, and cozy as hell. Since they're winterized, that only works then. Rocket Dog flip flops are for the warm months.

Movies. I don't have a favorite male actor but I do have a favorite movie genre. If it involves dancing, it's probably for me. Hubby can quote the final scene of Step Up 2 in his sleep by now I think. (Other favorite dance-y movies are: Dirty Dancing, Mama Mia, Center Stage, Grease, Step Up.)

Junk Food. Macaroni and cheese. Pasta + Cheese = Love.

Clothing. Any type of lounge pants: yoga, flannel, sweats. I LOVE THEM ALL. Oh and my burgundy Slanket.


What do you have in your kit? Also, check out what other people have in their kits over at YA Highway.

REMINDER! Yesterday marked the start of Music Month here at Slice of the Blog Pie. Anyone who comments on a post is eligible to win a prize.



* Sometimes deflowered with peppermint rum or Bailey's.
______
Last.fm hit of the day: Dressed to Depress by Murderdolls

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Introducing Music Month

Image courtesy of cause=time.
It's Music Month over on Erinn's blog and because I'm SUCH a follower, I'm doing the same here only a week delayed.

What is it?
There's tons of albums and music DVDs coming out this month that have to be heard. That's Erinn's reason anyway. For me, let's just say my biggest musical purchase of the year already happened and I'm celebrating it by giving away mix tapes.

Is it really a tape?
No. "Mix tape" just sounds much cooler than "mix CD."

Fine. What's on this tape?
Don't know. I haven't made it yet, but don't worry it won't be chockful of black metal or goth music. I do listen to other things, believe it or not. One thing I do know is that it's going to be full of awesome.

Right. How do I enter?
Read and comment. That means you, Lurkdom. The best comment of the week will win. Everyone's welcome to join in. You can comment on both old and new posts. I consider a week to be Monday - Sunday.

There will be a bonus prize for whoever closes out the choose your own adventure story. Poor Sidney.

So what are you waiting for? Go!

_____
Last.fm hit of the day: Just Dig It by The Texas Drag Queen Massacre

Friday, September 3, 2010

Four For Friday

When I wasn't working while watching Friday Night Lights this week, I had VH1 on as my background noise and yesterday evening didn't disappoint. They covered the greatest one hit wonders, most of which came out when I was still in single digits and got me nostalgic about that era.

Four For Friday: 80s Edition

1. Take On Me by A-ha. Greatest. Video. Ever. Turns out my love of Scandinavian music runs deep.


2. Strawberry Shortcake. I wasn't into her, but that didn't stop my mother from getting me the sleeping bag*.

3. Boy George. My introduction to gay men. Of course, my parents couldn't explain why he wore make up if he was a boy.

Not the actual ones I had
4. Neon crayons. Even though I loved the colors, the colors never really shone through.












What are your four 80s things?

* Still in usable condition, it's slept on many a dorm room floor.
_______
Last.fm hit of the day: Nightmare by London After Midnight

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Zombie Defense Revisited




While Miranda traipses around the wilds of DragonCon and I lose bits of my creative soul in the office, I present you with today's Zombie Thursday using my final two minutes of work.

As you know, I'm a bit of a fangirl when it comes to Wednesday 13. While reading one of the hundreds of current interviews, this popped up during an interview at Soundsphere:
OK now your random question – in the event of a zombie outbreak, what weapons would you use to defend yourselves and why?
Miranda's talked about this before. For a recap, click here. To find out his answer, continue below.

Probably a hammer and a tomahawk because there both about the same weight and easy to move around, and I’ve always wanted to hit someone with a hammer. I’m a big zombie movie fan and I watch a lot of stuff. I was watching 'Zombieland' not too long ago and there was a guy with all of these weapons in the back of his truck, and he just uses his favourite ones like the hedge clippers or whatever he feels like. I think I would be a bit like that, but my first kill would have to be with the hammer or tomahawk.
For the record, I loved Zombieland. But, let's bring back the weaponry question today...

When the apocalypse comes, what will your weapons of choice be? Today I'm going with napalm.

_____
Last.fm hit of the day: Guilty as Sin by DevilDriver

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

August Reads, or The Mac and Cheese of All Books

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's question: What's the best book you've read this month?

I read some pretty good books in August like Stephen King's On Writing and a collection of short stories by Sherrilyn Kenyon, but the best of the month is an old favorite - The Austin Family Chronicles by Madeleine L'Engle.

In it's day, the series was considered contemporary, but now not so much. (Mentions of The Cold War will do that.) Even with some of the more dated material, L'Engle tackles big subjects in such a way that they're timeless - especially on the subjects of death and faith.

As some of you know, my cousin Danny passed away on July 20th. He was 28. While I wasn't close to him, the news still hurt and I spent the rest of July passing through shock. His wake and funeral were the hardest I've been to and I hated to see my aunt, uncle, and my other cousin - Danny's sister - be so full of pain.

My on-again, off-again fight with the big guy upstairs was back on. I hadn't been this pissed at god since I was in high school and all the questions came roaring back. Why was my family being put through this? Why did he get taken away from his sons? Why the hell did this happen now?

Without fail, I turned to the Austin family. Whenever I read about Vicky's experiences whether it's struggling with change, working her way through grief, or dealing with boy issues, I feel more grounded. More importantly, I feel comforted and who doesn't want comfort especially when things fall to shit?

By the time I finished the final pages of Troubling A Star (right as vacation kicked in), I felt more at peace and back to my normal less angsty self. I still think what happened is totally unfair, awful, and everything else. I still question the why of it, but struggling with the tragedy while someone more articulate than me guided me along was what I needed. These books was the perfect friend for those two weeks.

Head over to YA Highway and see what other people read this month.


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Last.fm hit of the day: Left Behind by Slipknot
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