Sunday, October 28th, 2007
I am a part of the first ever Chicago Complaint Choir! The Complaints Choir was an idea that started in Helsinki Finland. The concept is simple. A bunch of average Joes (and Janes) come together and complain. The complaints are collected, sorted through (by the group) and arranged (quickly) into a piece of music. The singers are largely amateurs, but the spirit is there. The complaints run the gamut from “My feet hurt” to “There is no accountability in our government!” I have very little commitments presently, so I happily committed myself to complaining for a few weeks.
We will be preforming the song at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art at 1:00 and 3:00 on Saturday November 3rd. We will also be preforming at the Empty Bottle that night at 8:00. The next day we will be bussed all over town to sing at various outdoor locales. I doubt our power will be sufficient enough to warrant any real attention, but hopefully the frustrations will find a common home among all those who hear our song, and perhaps then we may actually do something more than complain. And even more than put complaints to song.
Wednesday, October 10th, 2007
I have begun my life’s work. Or one of them at least. An ultimate list of all the films worth seeing (in my opinion). With the aide of my wife and my friend Eric, who works at a video store, we hope to work our way through this list until, ultimately, our lives run out and we have nothing to show for it. If you have any suggestions for movies worth watching, feel free to suggest them. Keep in mind, we have all seen many more movies than this, these are just the ones that we care about.
The list itself can be found by following this link to the Massive Master List of Movies. Take a look. See how we’ve done.
Or just go here if you don’t have a google account.
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Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007
In keeping with the spirit, I thought I’d give you a chunk of my favorite horror movies to chew on for a bit. I’ve got 20 of them, with all sorts of different themes and genres floating around, although I tried to keep most of them somewhat supernatural themed. Some are creepy, some are just fun, but all are worth a watching on any one of these fine October evenings. In no particular order.
1. “The Beyond” Lucio Fulci (1981)
2. “The Thing” John Carpenter (1982)
3. “The Fog” John Carpenter (1980)
4. “The Omen” Richard Donner (1976)
5. “Suspiria” Dario Argento (1977)
6. “Kwaidan” Masaki Kobayashi (1964)
7. “Rosemary’s Baby” Roman Polanski (1968)
8. “Dawn of the Dead” George A. Romero (1978)
9. “The Changeling” Peter Medak (1980)
10. “Don’t Look Now” Nicholas Roeg (1973)
11. “Black Christmas” Bob Clark (1974)
12. “Cemetary Man” Michele Soavi (1994)
13. “Sleepaway Camp” Robert Hiltzik (1983)
14. “Re-Animator” Stuart Gordon (1985)
15. “Evil Dead” Sam Rami (1981)
16. “The Exorcist” William Friedkin (1973)
17. “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” Tobe Hooper (1974)
18. “Poltergeist” Tobe Hooper (1972)
19. “Jacob’s Ladder” Adrian Lyne (1990)
20. “An American Werewolf in London” John Landis (1981)
So that is that. There are some omissions that are currently irritating me, but if anything, I am a stickler for rules (cough cough!) so I’m sticking with the original limit of 20 I set for myself. So how’s that for arbitrary information you could find anywhere else. But seriously, I did my homework, and I’ve got a couple on that list that I haven’t found elsewhere, so sleep tight.
ADDENDUM: I should have my ass kicked for leaving off one of my favorite all time scary movies. A wonderfully creepy little gem called “Let’s Scare Jessica to Death” directed by John D. Hancock (1971). Not to be overlooked.
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Monday, October 1st, 2007
Having had considerable trouble hunting down a list of similar design, and in celebration of the moving into my favorite month (October for those of you who haven’t come out of your holes for a while) I have decided to compile, with minimal effort, a list of my favorite short horror fiction.
Now some of you may chide my inability to find top ten lists on the internet, but I maintain that horror novels abound, but lists of short stories are scant, and in my finding, unsatisfactory. So, being no sort of authority on the matter, but a self-avowed enthusiast, here is my list of the most interesting, the most affecting, the most chilling horror fiction I have read to date. Absent are descriptions of the stories, for it has been my experience that even rudimentary outlines of plots for short horror fiction take a great deal away from the reading of them, and after ten goes around, any effort on my part to convey the individual scariness or effect would grow redundant and tiresome. So, with all that air cleared, let us now begin.
1. “Oh Whistle My Lad and I will Come to You” -M.R. James
2. “What Was It?” -Fitz-James O’ Brien
3. “The Thing on the Doorstep” -H.P. Lovecraft
4. “Dreams in the Witch House” -H.P. Lovecraft
5. “The Dunwich Horror” -H.P. Lovecraft
6. “Caterpillars” -E.F. Benson
7. “On Moonlit Road” -Ambrose Bierce
8. “Guests from Gibbet Island” -Washington Irving
9. “The Open Window” -H.H. Munro
10. “The Beckoning Fair One” -Oliver Onions
It must be said that I have quite a specific taste for horror. I prefer supernatural horror, I have read a great deal Victorian era ghost stories for I enjoy their simple structure and quaint air, but seek out, and hold above all else, horror where reason breaks down, and the events or creatures described will unravel the strongest of nerves. Happy reading.
If anyone else comes across some good lists or anthologies for stuff like this, by all means, bring it to my attention. I will say that the best anthology I’ve found is the Modern Library’s excellent Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural, an indispensable piece of my collection. I have also read nearly everything by H.P. Lovecraft at this point, and have found nothing but enjoyment (via horror) in nearly all of his tales. The only fault of his I can report is a certain tenacity of structure which pervades nearly all of his stories.
So there it is. Enjoy sleeping with the lights on and cover drawn tight, but you should know you are least safe there, for these are phantasms of the mind. Enjoy the coming on of fall.
ADDENDUM: I would like to add, as number 11 to the list, “The Last Traveler” by Jean Ray. An excellent little tale which I just read last night.
ADDENDUM 2: add also, “How Fear Left the Long Gallery” by E.F. Benson. An absolutely wonderfully frightful tale indeed. I have only just finished reading it. One of my favorites I must say.
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