Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Watch Out For Evil Undead Raccoons!

My life is just plain weird.

Let me explain…

This last weekend, I was lying on the couch watching my unrated director’s cut of Romero’s Land Of The Dead. I was enjoying some zombie movie quiet time as the wife and kids were asleep and it was well after midnight. About the time the zombies jump into the Alleghany River on thier pilgrimage to Fiddler’s Green, I heard a rustling sound on the front porch.

‘What the…?’ I thought, visions of shambling hordes of the undead staggering onto my porch filling my head. Any geekish thoughts of an impending zombie apocalypse were quickly quelled when I remembered I had set a bag of garbage on the porch after dinner with the intention of taking it back to the cans later. In my laziness it was still on the porch and apparently being set upon by some animals. So I got up, flicked on the porch light, and looked out the front storm door. There, perched about the bag of garbage and its now strewn contents were two large, fat, bushy raccoons.

“Shit.” I said.

So I knocked on the door, thinking that a large bipedal beast should surely be enough to scare away the raccoons. You can imagine my chagrin when they ignored me. So, I cracked the door and said “Yah. Get outta here.”

Now I’m uncertain what part of my brain reasoned that saying, “yah,” like I was herding cattle atop the back of a horse in some far flung western territory would be enough to scare away some hungry raccoons. Suffice it to say, it was most likely the same part of my brain that makes me utter stupid things at the most inopportune times; like during meetings, during sex, or at funerals.

Anyway, where I’d been ignored before, I found that the removal of the door made the raccoons definitely notice me. In their minds, the garbage bag was now theirs and they were loath to relinquish it. And apparently any fear they have of old, fat, balding, undead bipedal primates is minimal at best. They both looked up at me with their black, beady, alien eyes full of malice and hissed.

The larger one then darted at the door, growling and yowling with terrifying ferocity.

I screamed like a girl and slammed the door. The raccoon hit the door with enough force to make the storm window rattle. It stared at me with a look of pure evil for several seconds before waddling back to its meal of kitchen refuse.

At this point, I was mad. Besides the fact that I’d have to clean up the garbage on the porch - I had been bested by a mammal that, had I been a more primitive version of man, I would have happily killed and roasted on a spit in my dank - but no doubt tastefully decorated - cave.

The feral little bastard had gotten my inner Neanderthal all riled up.

So, I did a uniquely American thing. I thought of all of my options and settled on the one that I think all American men can recognize and appreciate. I decided that the only way to fix this insult was with the tactical advantage of superior firepower.

So I went upstairs and opened my gun cabinet.

As I stood there, squinting at its contents in the dim light cast from the hallway (Mrs. Zombie was asleep), I mentally weighed my options. The shotguns and larger caliber rifles were out of the question. Too loud and too much like using a nuclear weapon in my quiet suburban neighborhood. The handguns too were not an option. Again they were loud and, quite frankly, I wasn’t sure I could stop at one or two shots. When one starts defending one’s house from furry interlopers, the temptation to empty a high capacity semi-automatic weapon ‘just to be sure’ is too great. That left my muzzleloader (only one shot and there were two raccoons), my .22 (I was out of .22 shells) and my bb gun.

I decided on the bb gun.

So, I retrieved it from the cabinet and went downstairs, pumping the Crossman 760 Pumpmaster bb gun as I went. They say you should never pump the bb gun more than 10 times, but I’ve never subscribed to that policy myself. If I was going to use it to wage war, I wanted the bb to come out of the end of the muzzle with enough velocity to kill an elk. With the bb gun pumped at least 15 or 20 times I returned to the front door to find that a third raccoon had joined the other two. They were flanking me!

“Say ghello to my leetle friend!” I yelled, opening the door a crack. The raccoons looked at me with unadultered hate as I stuck the muzzle of the bb gun out the door and pulled the trigger. With a satisfying paaffftt! sound, I struck the largest of the raccoons square in his fat ass.

With a yowl, the ringleader jumped straight up about two feet in the air and landed on the porch in a tangle of fur and legs. It then darted off the porch like Scooby-Doo being chased by a ghost. The other two looked at the antics of their compatriot and decided maybe they’d best run too. I stepped out on the porch, triumphant.

“That’s right, you primitive screwheads,” I said into the night, “I rock like Bruce Campbell!”

So I cleaned up the mess and walked the bag back to the trashcans. I kept the bb gun with me just in case, and I’m glad I did. As I returned from the back yard, I looked towards the hedgerow that we have on the far side of our yard and saw three sets of eyes gleaming with malevolent, demonic rage. I could see that, having recovered from his initial injuries, the raccoon generalissimo had regrouped his forces and was planning a blitzkrieg type attack from beneath the thick hedgerow.

I quickly brought my weapon to bear just as they hissed and began creeping like ninjas from beneath the hedge. I panicked and fired, wincing with dismay as I heard the bb hit high in the hedge. I frantically began pumping the gun again as I realized that I was cut off from the porch by their nefarious approach. I quickly chambered another bb and took aim, squeezing the trigger.

I had shot true!

I hit the raccoon admiral right between the eyes. He flipped over backwards. He saw then that he was outmaneuvered and, with an angry human-like scream of rage, he scurried away into the night. His subordinates, lacking the heart to go on without their leader, followed him in his hasty and desperate retreat.

I was once again victorious, and celebrated by doing a little jig in my front yard. It was a scary sight I’m sure, as I was wearing only my boxer shorts and a pair of Teva sandals. I returned to the house, put the bb gun away, and went on with my night, confident that my home and loved ones were safe and secure because of my daring and courage.

The problem came this morning when I awoke to find my wife standing over me.

“Was I dreaming last night,” she said in that tone that generally means I’m in big trouble, “or were you in your gun cabinet last night?”

I proudly recounted the previous night’s adventure, but she saw things a lot differently then I did.

I’ll never understand women…why on earth would she call me a moron?

Some Random Links

Here are a few things that caught my eye recently…

Free low budget, independent movie plug – These guys are my kind of geeks. They’ve made a few low budget RPG themed movies and seem to have developed a bit of a following. I mention them because their newest movie, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, will be released soon and I wanted to give them a free plug. One of the actresses in the movie is Carol Roscoe, a beautiful, sexy, wonderful actress whom I can say is a friend. I sadly haven’t spoken to her in years, but I’ve been keeping an eye on her work and want to give her some promotion. Maybe one of my contacts at Anchor Bay could give her agent a call? Hmmm? What do you think? Anyway, please do me a favor and shell out a few bones and pick up a copy of the DVD when it comes out and revel in the obvious tongue in cheek RPG geekery! And I will be doing a review of it when it is available for purchase. C’mon guys, I really want to see this!

Top 10 Creepiest commercials Ever - I kind of agree with all of these. Especially that dermatophyte thing which makes me wince to think of it. That and the plasticene-headed Burger King. All I gotta say is that, if I wake up in the morning and that’s lying next to me watching me sleep, or I open up the shade to find the King standing at my window, I’m busting out my .45 and a restraining order. There should be laws protecting us normal folk from creepy plastic faced icons who stalk us.

An interesting Engineering Argument - All right, this guy spend too much time thinking like a geek. This is what happens when you live in the basement of your mom’s house and you spend too much time talking to your friends on the Jedi Bulletin Boards and Forums. The sad thing is, I’m enough of a geek to have had this very conversation with MY friends around a beer at the local pub. But I’M not a geek. No way. There’s a difference… I’m doing it with real people, face to face. There IS a difference… right? Right?!? (And because I’m such a sci-fi geek, I couldn’t let this go without making the comment that the Empire would totally employ this sort of system. They’re the friggin’ Galactic Empire - - what do they care about efficiency or the environment?!? Sheesh.)

Diary of the Dead!!! – Oh my god! I just had a zombie induced orgasm! The great George A. Romero has a new dead movie coming out… and it will not be an over-produced, shat upon by a bunch of suits who don’t know horror, watered down, big budget affair. George is doing it right. It’ll be independent and it will be renegade. How awesome is this going to be? Oh dear gods this will be incredible! I’m speechless here…

That sound you hear is Doctor Zombie screaming in terror. My question is, if this protects children from the horrors of a non-Christian world, what sort of PJ’s will they have to wear to protect them from their insane, wacky, nutjob Fundie parents?!? Do the PJ’s come with a rebate or discount coupon to apply to the years of therapy they’ll need later in life? This is the face of real evil here.

Anf finally, I found this quote of a review of Paris Hilton’s new album. Besides the obvious reference to Paris’ horrifying and warbling attempts at singing, I just like the way it’s written. What can I say, I’m a sucker when it comes to British wit and well written insults… Per the Guardian… “She sounds both distracted and bored stiff, as if making an album is keeping her from the more serious business of standing around a nightclub in a pair of really enormous sunglasses,” opined the critic in the London Guardian. “Listening to her sing Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy,” you are gripped by the fear that civilization as we know it is doomed and that brimstone is going to start raining from the sky any minute. It doesn’t, but a sense of terrible foreboding is further stoked by the sleeve notes, which make reference to ‘all my albums to come.’”

I take it back, Paris Hilton is the face of true evil…

Unpleasant dreams, dear reader…

Monday, August 21, 2006


I've been a bit lax in updating lately. The reasons are varied, but suffice it to say I've been pretty busy.

Work-wise, I started a New Hire class and am working some really late hours for the next 7 weeks. Blech.

Add on top of that the fact that I have been preoccupied with my current health issues (my wonky liver, terrifyingly high 'bad' cholesterol levels, et al...) and I've not had the time or inclination to devote to this blog like I should be. Funny thing, though... apparently, if one stops drinking and begins eating like a vegetarian, you can expect to see weight loss. I've lost like 15 pounds in the last 2 1/2 to 3 weeks. Who'd'a thunk it?!?

And - - worst of all - - I wanted to work on my novel this last weekend, but was horrified to find that the disk I had it on is NOT WORKING! So, apparently, I've lost months of work and now have to REWRITE the whole goddamned thing! And, for some insane reason, I didn't back the goddamned thing up. I'm usually neurotic about backing up. I don't know what I was thinking. What I don't understand (because I'm a geek, but not a techno-geek) is how the six other files on the disk work, but not the two files related to my novel DON'T?!?

Is there somebody out there who can help me figure out a way to recover the files on a floppy disk? Or am I doomed to have to rewrite the whole damn novel (which I was probably a good 60% done with)?!?!


Monday, August 07, 2006

Movie Review - The Tooth Fairy (2006)

Movie Review – The Tooth Fairy (2006)

Anchor Bay Entertainment’s The Tooth Fairy came to my door about a week ago wrapped in an impressive looking piece of DVD packaging. And I was suitably impressed, until I saw, in large impressive letters, “A Film by Stephen J. Cannell”. Why did I flinch upon seeing this? If you don’t recognize the name, Stephen J. Cannell is probably one of the most influential people in the history of television. He is the creator of the A-Team, Renegade (with Lorenzo Lamas!), The Commish, 21 Jump Street, Riptide, The Greatest American Hero, and The Rockford Files. Take a look back on that list. It is an impressive list of some of the greatest shows to grace the airwaves; or at least when I was growing up. However, a good TV show creator does not a good horror movie creator make. Yeah, I’m sure Cannell, like Aaron Spelling, Sherwood Schwartz, and Donald P. Bellisario made some great TV… but they are not in the same league as George Romero, John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, or Wes Craven for making one cower on the couch in the darkness of night.

Believe it or not, Cannell actually did a pretty good job.

The Tooth Fairy starts in 1949 where we see two hapless 10 year olds who sneak up to a ramshackle, spooky house in Northern California. They are there to see the Tooth Fairy, an old and horribly disfigured woman who is rumored to give gifts for the baby teeth of young children. One of the boys, harboring a desire for a Schwinn bike, knocks on the door and enters while his friend cowers in the bushes outside. The braver friend is convinced by the horrible (and mannish sounding) Tooth Fairy to give up a loose tooth, only to find that the crazy old woman is after more than the tooth. She proceeds to murder him with an ax in the foyer.

Fast forward to present day and we find that the spooky old house has been bought and renovated and turned into a bed and breakfast by a doctor named Peter who has given up on being a physician to run the b&b and write. Peter is played by an actor named Lochlyn Munro. He is one of those character actors whom you’ve seen in countless movies, but damned if you can remember any of them. He is just getting ready to open the bed and breakfast, and is being helped by his handyman Bobby (a young high school kid who looks like he’s in his late 20’s and played by an unknown Jesse Hutch). They are joined by Star Roberts, who hopes to move into the B&B a little early. Star is played by an actress named Carrie Fleming who is super, super hot. I mean, wow! Her character, Star, is an ex-stripper who is getting ready to start veterinarian school.

Meanwhile, across town, we meet Darcy (Chandra West) and her daughter Pamela (Nicole Munoz), who are driving up to the B&B to spend a week or so with Peter, Darcy’s ex-fiancée. They stop for directions at a local gas station, only to be attacked by two dimwitted and belligerent rednecks who hold a grudge against Peter for evicting them from the Tooth Fairy/B&B where they had been squatting. Although the brothers Chuck and Henry (played with total committment by Peter New and Ben Cotton) are gross exaggerations of redneck idiocy, they are two of the best characters in the film.

So, Darcy and Pamela get to the B&B, where Pamela meets Emma, a ghost who warns her about the Tooth Fairy. Per Emma the spirit guide, we learn that the Tooth Fairy collects the last baby teeth of children, and then murders them, preventing their souls from escaping. Emma leaves to ‘go home’, and Pamela is conveniently attacked by the Tooth Fairy on her bike ride home, conveniently losing her last baby tooth.

Heeding Emma’s warning, Pamela hides her baby tooth and only manages to anger the Tooth Fairy, who kills houseboy Bobby by stuffing him into an industrial wood chipper. The violence escalates, and the Tooth Fairy goes on a rampage in her search for the tooth of Pamela, until she is vanquished at the end.

So, what did I think of The Tooth Fairy? All in all, it wasn’t a bad movie. It had all of the elements that make up a standard, run of the mill serial killer/evil childhood character movie. It was rather formulaic at times, but then it would occasionally show flashes of originality that made it compelling to watch. The blood and gore effects were well done, which is always a plus. And the acting was very good. But again, the parts that resembled a cookie cutter horror film were the ones that hurt the film the most. There was the standard ‘kill those crazy kids who are having sex’ scene. The standard ‘ “Who’s there? Who made that ominous noise down the dark hall?”’ moment. And, perhaps worst of all, there was the obviously identifiable gruesome death fodder. By this I mean, the characters that you know are destined to die because they are so written that way. Spoiler and hint: If your character is introduced as a main character3/4 of the way through the film… things don’t bode well for you…

On a positive note, the character’s that were developed from the beginning were effective and capable of empathy from a viewer. I think this is where someone like Stephen J. Cannell excels at writing anything. He thinks long term. This could have been the pilot for his new whiz-bang super TV show, and he writes the characters with back stories that make a viewer want to invest in them. You have Peter, the ex-doctor who’s thrown it all away to run a bed and breakfast in the country; his girlfriend Darcy who is too tied to her paralegal job to heed love’s call and join him; Pamela who’s an imaginative and loveable little girl; and Cole, Peter’s no-good, dead head, rock and roll friend(who has the best line in the movie - - when explaining that he needs some money, he professes how great everything is, but…”there IS an ant in the afterbirth, though…”).

And finally, you have Star, the ex-stripper who spends the whole movie looking hot as hell, claiming she’s more than a pretty face and a smoking body. She identifies hummingbirds by their Latin name, reads a book on bird biology, and does everything to tell everybody she’s smart and not just some drop dead gorgeous stripper. Of course, she makes a point of hitting on every guy in the B&B and she IS the only character who actually gets naked when she sleeps with someone ‘because she’s scared’. (Picture in your mind, if you will, Doctor Zombie rolling his undead eyes.)

This development though, was a bit tiresome after a while. Truth be told, I’m a horror fan and I want to get to the horror. And there are some great horror moments. For instance, Doctor Zombie was honestly surprised by the first instance in any horror movie that - at least I can remember – where someone gets their penis severed and then you actually SEE IT. The penis that is. Bravo on having the cajones (no pun intended!) to commit to such an in your face effect. Like I said before, the wood chipper scene was great, and the other scenes aren’t too bad.

And The Tooth Fairy wasn’t really that scary. I suppose to a child she would be, but really it’s just a scary woman running around with an axe. (This isn’t really a spoiler, you see her within the first two minutes of the movie.) And the end is where the badness really ratchets up; suffice it to say I’m sure you have the means to kill the spooky, evil Tooth Fairy witch in your own garage. And remember I said it had several stereotypical slasher clichés? Watch for the oh so original glimpse of the allegedly dead Tooth Fairy in the bed & breakfast window as the survivors drive away at the end! “What?!? Huh?!? I thought… they killed… oh horrors! You mean she might not be dead?!?” (Imagine more rolled eyes, dear readers…)

Finally, I’d like to mention the one big name star in the film was PJ Soles (Lynda from the original Halloween). There is something to be said for making a career doing small bit parts solely because you were in one of the greatest horror flicks of all time. Hell, if I’d lucked into a role that made me immortal, I’d ride the wave as long as I could. There’s something honorable in being like PJ Soles, or Cane Hodder, or Michael Berryman. The only thing I’d say to these sort of actors though, is BE SELECTIVE. PJ’s character, the crazy neighbor Mrs. McDonald, has two minutes of screen time where she shows up out of nowhere, spouts a gloom and doom warning about the evil witch Tooth Fairy(!) and tells the main characters how to kill it. It’s like the writers wrote themselves into the corner, found out the casting department had cast PJ, and quickly made up a Deus Ex Machine in her charcter. At least PJ’s still getting paid. I just hope it’s more than scale.

So, overall… The Tooth Fairy was a good movie with some great character development and some good gore. It was a bit long and lost some steam at the end, but it still wasn’t bad. If you go into it expecting typical straight to video badness, you will be pleasantly surprised. There is an expectation from certain horror fans that their movies follow set rules, and if you’re that sort of fan you won’t be disappointed. And, if you’re not necessarily a fan, but like to scare your significant other as you cuddle on the couch with all the lights out, it will suit your purposes as well…

Doctor Zombie’s Rating: 3 out of 5 Chomped Brains

Thursday, August 03, 2006

One of those days...

So, as if my week wasn't already bad enough...

I have always been bit of a klutz and have never been what one could call, "catlike and nimble". I have suffered from this my whole life and, to add insult to injury, I also have horrible luck.

Let me tell you how my day went.

So I go to the local 5/3 Bank to make a payment on my Jeep, "The Blue Zombie". I pull up to the window and, as I have my softtop off, reach out and retrieve the canister from the drive through tube thingy. I put in my payment, get ignored by the pretty girl inside the bank, and eventually get my payment taken. The tube whooshes back to me, I pick it up, and retrieve my receipt. And here is where the wheels fell off the cart...

I go to RETURN the tube to the tube thingy and fumble it. It drops with a clunk to the ground. "Crap," says I. I try to reach it from the driver's seat, but as there's a door between myself and the ground, that doesn't work. So, being the suave and nimble cat that I am, I open my door and bend down to grab the canister from where it lies beneath the Jeep. Unfortunately, my door hits the concrete bank tube thingy and comes to an abrupt stop about a quarter of the way open. With a meaty thwock, I bash my bald forehead ON THE DOOR. "Fuck," I says, rubbing my forehead in that way that doesn't do anything for the pain, but makes you feel better.

Now I'm mad. I pop my emergency brake and put the Jeep into first gear. My intention is to roll far enough forward to clear the dumb concrete tube thingy, open my door and repeat the process - - less the meaty thwock to my now angry and swollen forehead. Unfortunately, I'm so focused on watching the tube thingy, and figuring out the point at which my door clears it, I completely forget to watch the fallen tube on the ground.

Too late, I realize this as I hear the plasticky crunch of the tube as I run it over with a beefy 30x9.5 mud tire.

So, a few minutes and several curses later, I am out of my Jeep, standing in the drivethru lane of the bank. I am holding the shattered pieces of tubing in both hands and pushing the call button.

"Excuse me," I say to the pretty girl who so handily ignored me previously, "I...um...the thing...ummmmm. Sorry?"

"That's all right," she says, "That happens quite a bit. Just set it on top and I'll come and get it on my next break."

So I set the broken pieces on the tube thingy, which is sporting a nice scrape of Jeep factory Patriot Blue paint, and go back to my Jeep. I climb in and a glance in my rear view mirror shows a now golfball-sized knot growing from my forehead like some malignant tumor.

As I pull out of the bank parking lot in my topless Jeep, it begins to rain.

How was your day?