It has finally arrived–the time has come to celebrate the scariest night of the year; although some would argue that title belongs solely to the evening before Black Friday; however when attending to that evil realm of the dead there is no better occasion than Halloween.

I remember my first Halloween–perhaps not my first, but the one I can recall. I was in a kickin’ Spider-Man outfit–of course I used the Tobey Maguire rendition–that contained a loose fitting mask. And when I say loose fitting I mean loose. This thing would not stop slipping beneath my eyes; and whenever I yanked it back to normal it seemed to slip further…

It was sweaty, too; if that has any relevance. It did make me feel like Tobey Maguire though, specifically the scene in which Spider-Man is trapped with the Green Goblin inside a burning building. You should have seen the puddles I made.

But being the careless child I was,and sometimes still am, I continued wearing this crappy Wal-Mart movie licensed outfit. To those of you who have visited Wal-Mart in their Halloween phase–followed a day after by the Christmas Eve phase–please do not purchase the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles styrofoam shell or the plastic Power Rangers wristband. Take it from me–the wristband does not initiate the ultimate Power Rangers transformation; as a matter of fact the plastic crinkles a little when you jab at the button.

How exciting.

Okay, okay; get to the point, right? Why am I keeping you strapped to your chair as I reminisce on terrible Halloweens from an otherwise brilliant childhood? You want candy. You want toilet paper thrown on your house. Some of you may go trick or treating tonight–I honestly have no idea; hell, I might trick or treat myself.

What you choose to do tonight is your prerogative, soldier. You can hold out those bags and scream for king sized candy bars; or you can cower in your basement as a kiddie Michael Myers pounds on your front door. Will you answer the Halloween call? Will that kid ever pass out in that unbreathable mask? The questions! The questions!

I will now release you, you candy craving captives. Go out and haunt that unfathomable night like the devilish bats you–uh-oh.

Word of advice: never eat all the candy in the bowl.


Think daily, 

A Southpaw







Why Collecting Horror Figures Is Fun…

One of my more stranger qualities is my obsession with collecting horror memorabilia; masks; props; and figures–yes, I said figures, as in nine inch action figures of my favorite horror movie monsters, from Frankenstein’s Monster to Leatherface.

As of now I have them propped in my windowsill in numerous terrifying positions: Jason Voorhees is in the process of chopping off Candyman’s hand; Leatherface is about to smash a hammer on a Freddy Krueger head; and Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s Monster is standing dull on his sandstone podium, his green right arm hanging from a chain on his green left arm, as he looks in wonder at the stupidity of his fellow figures…I also like placing one in view of the doorway; so when people walk into my room–guess what they see:

A fifteen inch Chucky.

He is standing atop my writing desk beside a plush Slimer; and is holding a blood stained butcher knife. This is the figure most people want to throw in the garbage because of how frightened they are of him. It is why I keep him out–how often do people get a good scare anymore?

For me it is a three year collection. I know, lazy, compared to some collectors whose hobbies consume whole rooms, even houses; but I like to keep the collection small and manageable within the parameters of my cramped four foot windowsill–it will get cramped if I buy enough of these plastic guys…you betcha.

Tirelessly I have searched the counters of antique stores and the webpages of Amazon for them. One month I would pick up a figure, then another month would pass; and the following week a package from Amazon would arrive; and then come my birthday–but you get the point. They took a long time to collect. A hobby this large is not easily accomplished in a number of weeks. It takes motivation and perseverance, interest and eagerness, money and…more money.  And space; you need tons of space.

But all the same it is worth the investiture. Everyone needs a hobby; and even if you only collect pocket watches or gunpowder shavings from the Civil War you will have fun searching and eventually stacking them on your own shelf.

Think daily,

A Southpaw










Vampires: You Know You Want To Be One…

There is something about the way Anne Rice writes of vampires which make them seem so enticing…that you think of the fun times to be had as a night prowler skipping over rooftops and draining victims as you flutter over sea and land like a dark god.

Only I think so?

Others have likely entertained such thoughts of power and immortality–leaders like Napoleon and Hitler wanted more than anything to live eternally through their global changes.  Fascination comes with immortality. Fascination comes with vampires.


One, never seeing the sun. I love the sun and the shadows it creates.

Two, blood is your only source of energy. That means I have to give up pizza and chicken and ravioli and chocolate cake and yogurt and milk and…

Three, all life despises you. As of now I have prepared my letter of goodbyes to my family, wishing them a pleasant life without me and my silly thoughts–oh, and, sis, yes, my nails were extremely long yesterday morning–and in my pets’ beds I have placed tiny notes attached to treats so that they might garner an understanding of my absence.

Cut the last part–dogs and cats can’t read…pity. That means the copy of Clifford: The Big Red Dog I left in my dogs’ cage was never savored. Double pity.

Perhaps I should consider living as a werewolf.

Full moon anyone?

Think daily,

A Southpaw





Eating–A Study Of Vampirism

I like vampires.

I also like food; combine those two in such chapters as Nice to Eat with You: Acts Of Communion and Nice to Eat You: Acts Of Vampirism, and magic occurs…

In the 1980s Anne Rice was the undisputed master of the vampire genre; under her literary belt are such titles as Interview with the Vampire; The Vampire Lestat; and The Queen of the Damned; and those all are included in the Vampire Chronicles…an excellent trilogy, by the way; and not strictly about bloodsuckers.

In the opening to The Vampire Lestat, the titular vampire Lestat details his beauteous narcissism: “I’d step into the solar lights before the cameras…reach out and touch with my icy fingers a thousand warm and grasping hands…[and]…I’d lead them to the truth of it…” Lestat hungers for glory and recognition; but neither of those keep him living–it is the blood of his fans which he needs, and the attention of his fans which he desires.

The point: vampires are not base predators–rather they are sophisticated socialites  who classily pursue the cultural trends of a generation before draining them dry in the dead evening; of course it is easy to lure their victims–all they must do is dress currently and speak currently and live currently; the social tycoon offering more than money or a car ride…simply in the times.

All memorable monsters are reflections of ourselves.

Step once more into the dining room…this one is reserved for humans.

Communion, or perhaps the opposite, in dining is expressed brilliantly in The Dead by James Joyce, as cited by Foster; but for me there is the tense scene in the science fiction novel Dune by Frank Herbert–a quiet dinner between the Atreides Family and the Harkonnen Family on Arrakis.

I admire this scene because of its suspenseful air, the type that grabs you by the throat and squeezes tighter and tighter until the expulsion of pressure; however it is also key to uncovering the relationship between the families and the deceitful nature of each. At dinner are accusations and whispers and spies and tension and arrogance and secrets–so dearly this scene is remembered in my heart as complex; and complex for purposes of union, especially the lack thereof.

The families are biased towards each other and so eat dinner slowly, exchanging accusing statements in between chews. Neither family wishes to be near the other, hence their separated seating–one family member for every other chair. The eyes are watchful, yet their mouths are motionless; and their hands remain on the utensils until a disturbance summons the host away from that minefield and all are relieved their selfish hearts have not imploded.

Eating together can be discordant or unifying; but either way people are communing upon a solitary meal entirely void of the emotions, of benefitting or malevolent intent, sinking into its bare atmosphere.

Think daily,

A Southpaw




Are Clowns Actually Scary Anymore?

So, last week, I had the pleasure of visiting the local circus with my family. It is the   exact same circus you have probably attended, regardless of whether you reside in the middle of Chicago or in the potato fields of Idaho–you know, Barnum and Bailey.

Anyways, while I munched on a bag full of cotton candy, and enjoyed the spectacle of the Circus Extreme–a new show where the performers travel around the world, from the ocean to a cheap remake of the set of West Side Story–I started to notice something…the performing clowns were not frightening.

Yes, these clowns were far from terrifying; in fact, not a single image of Pennywise sprang once to my imagination as I watched them go about their silly acts. They broke chairs over one another’s heads. They failed to form a human ladder and crumpled to the floor in a pile of rubber noses and giant flapping clown shoes. They even came up to the row of seats behind ours, and started engaging a couple kids in lively conversation–that, and they straightened my flimsy hat, an accessory with the cotton candy.

How, I repeatedly asked myself, are these clowns not as scary as the clowns of my younger days?

Everyone remembers their first clown, unfortunately being one of those memories  you can never erase, like watching your first horror movie. If you were as young as me, maybe that clown shook the very circus peanuts from your jittering hands, maybe you had to take a quick trip to the bathroom…it happens, no one is judging.

See, the first time I saw a clown was not at a circus–rather, I had the pleasure of visiting a haunted house, in the deep woods, as a six-year old child.

Some details become fuzzier as I age, so no longer can I recall why we, a rag-tag team of parents and their children, had a family outing at a haunted house; but the moment of seeing that terrible clown has remained throughout these long years.

A foolishly ignorant child, I had wandered from the group of military parents escorting us youthful innocents through this wooded horror, completely clueless of my isolation, when there came an eager whispering out of the dark grove of trees to my left–glancing over to the voice, I immediately spotted the grinning clown in a black and red rubber suit with a frilly fan round his white neck hunched behind a tree, smiling and cackling and beckoning with a gloved finger; and then he began to lurch out on to the matted grass and growled, “We all float here, Georgie…”

Okay, I lied about that last part, but my point is is that perhaps it is not the age at which you see a clown, or if the actor behind those gleaming red lips and starched white face paint is suffering from depression or happens to be a truly pleasant clown; no, perhaps it is about your situational status. If you are in a haunted forest, in which the only sign of life is yourself and a freaky clown who likes to jump out screaming from behind every other tree, then that could end up being a recurring nightmare for weeks; however, if instead you are attending a funny circus show with your family, where those clowns perform the most hilarious tricks to make you spew sticky soda out your nostrils, then there you have a possible cherished memory for years–actually, interpret that one as you will.

Here’s a test to prove my point: the next time you watch your favorite horror movie, double points if it is your first, notice the atmosphere of the scariest scene–is the killer hanging himself on a noose in a graveyard, or is he rolling around in the ball pit at Chuck E’ Cheese’s? Not only will you likely burst out laughing, but you will, hopefully, understand why some clowns are not as scary as they were back then.



The Thrills of Last Shift

If there are any good  underrated horror gems out there, then one of the scariest and most memorable is likely to be Last Shift, a rookie cop’s frightening night in an abandoned police station that is haunted by the vengeful souls of a Manson-like family; the tension is of a perfect tightness which will hold steadily throughout the film, which has an average running time of about 80 minutes. Still, time enough to frighten the audience.

The cast is small, with a few big names, such as Juliana Harkavy of AMC’s The Walking Dead, who plays the main character, a rookie officer by the name of Loren who is assigned by her commanding sergeant, Cohen, played by Hank Stone, to finish out the last shift in an old police station; as the new station is finished and everyone has moved into it in the past weeks. He shows her quickly around the emptied rooms–the holding cells and the evidence room are possibly the most important places in the film–and makes a specific point to say she will receive no emergency calls whatsoever while on shift, since the 911 number has been redirected to the new station. Then, having explained the basics, Cohen leaves the fledgling Officer Loren inside the station, where she is expected to remain from 10:00 to 4:00 of the next morning.

Except, when she finally settles at her desk after her first glance around the station, the phone begins to ring…and after that unusual occurrences start taking place within the station; and she fights to save her mind…

From then on the movie is based heavily on suspense and psychological terror, using some skillful tactics to hold the audience’s attention; tight camera angles are not overused and actually help to stimulate the stuffy, narrow surroundings, while also relating the fright Loren is experiencing to the viewer quite intensely. Music, as well, does not play too significant of a role in the film, and is more so in the background, supporting the eerie ambience of flickering lights and slamming chairs.

This film has its share of terrifying scenes, a few of which will likely stick with the viewer a couple of hours after the end credits. Now, it is perhaps not on the level of acclaim that such recent films as The Conjuring and the cult hit You’re Next have achieved in less amounts of time, but, one has to remember it does not appear to have the largest budget; although, the old station looks like a genuine haunt, and it will make people think twice about taking the last shift at any dilapidated business, especially one as lonely as a police station.

With a strong female lead who is as relatable as many other horror heroines, among them Laurie Strode and Ellen Ripley,and a promising set of villains that act out unexpectedly whenever given the chance, the movie Last Shift is a well-done psychological horror film that probably deserves more attention that it has received since its release date two years ago–seriously, go check it out; if you’re lucky and can buy it, then buy it, but also scan through Netflix for this hidden gem.