Category Archives: TV & Movies

My Monsters

2013-11-12 14.23.48-1I’ve hung them up in two apartments and I can’t imagine a place feeling like home without them.  I’m talking about my monsters.  Three framed drawings by a little kid I don’t even know, who I’m sure I’ll never meet.  They’re perfect.

A couple years ago I was clicking around online and came across an article about a little boy with leukemia.  Similar to Batkid now out in San Francisco in that he’s sick and he’s awesome.  Come on, you can’t hear about a kid like this and not have tears in your eyes. 

Go pull up video of Batkid.  That’s the little boy who, thanks to Make A Wish, is surrounded by hundreds of people cheering him on throughout the city, while he saves a woman tied up by the Riddler and gets to ride around in a freakin Lamborghini Batmobile.  Tell me there aren’t tears.

Monsters at SunsetThat’s how it was when I came across this story.  The kid I read an article on, his name’s Aidan.  He loves monsters.  Drawing them, watching monster movies, making his own costumes.  Which is good, since he spent most of his childhood up until that point in a hospital bed.  Plenty of time to draw monsters.  And I’m talking the classics: Frankenstein’s monsters, the Wolfman, Dracula and Count Orlock.  There’s a difference. 

He got my attention.  If I wasn’t sold on this kid already, seeing pictures of Halloween when he got pulled around in a wagon dressed as Jigsaw’s dummy from Saw so he could trick-or-treat, did the trick.  This kid is awesome. 

I’d just purchased the Legacy set of Frankenstein movies that had a bunch of the old Boris Karloff monster flicks.  Thanks to Netflix I watched the Wolfman, Dracula, the Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Invisible Man.  All those great old Universal flicks that started everything.  I also had Monster Squad, one of the greatest movies of my childhood.  At the time it was recently out on DVD and I snagged it.  It takes all those old great horror icons and rolls them together with a Goonies-esque group of kids.  Who doesn’t love this stuff?

Aidan's Monsters

the one in the middle looks just like Kevin

The reason this article on Aidan was out there though was because his aunt, in an attempt to raise some money towards his hospital bills, had taken his drawings and put them up for sale on Etsy.  Not a bad idea.  Well, unless you’re me.  Because now I have to buy one, right?  But how can I choose?  I just went to the site to browse, then I talked myself into buy one.  Then I double-checked my bank balance and decided I could get three.  It’s for a good cause, it’s ok.

I went with the classics.  Wolfman.  Frankenstein’s Monster.  And Dracula.  But not really.  There’s a difference between Dracula and Count Orlock.  You should know.  I’m not going into that.  Why did I ultimately go with Nosferatu over a Universal vampire?  Was it that then all three would be in different colored marker?  Yeah, that’s probably it.  But it may have been that I had to give it to this kid that he knew the ripped off Max Schreck/W.F. Murnau version.  That’s going to be my official position.

But I realize now that my choices were perfect.  Not only did I do something cool by purchasing these, but now I have my monsters, I have a good story to tell about how I ended up with these kid’s drawings framed on my wall.  Oddly enough, these actually represent my two friends and I. 

No, no, hear me out on this: Frankenstein’s monster is covered in scars, but the ones on his hands at first glance look like your typical hash marks for keeping score.  Much like I had to do on New Year’s Eve.  Marks on one hand for bottles of champagne I drank, marks on the other for shots.  Just in case I had to go the hospital.  The Wolfman is obviously Kevin who could probably braid his back hair and can grow a full beard before lunch.  And Nosferatu?  There’s this thing the three of us tend to do now and it came about after we lived together for a few years.  It unquestionably originated with Alan.  When someone comes into the room at night and turns the light on he will hiss and has gone so far as to throw his hands up in front of his face as if clawing at the light.  He started it.  We all do it.  Its reflex now, there’s no stopping it.  Our children will end up doing it.

So not only could I support this great little kid, who has since gone into remission, and his family by buying a few of his drawings, I’ve also, oddly enough, ended up with monster-caricatures of my best friends and I.  Money well spent.

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And Then She Asked If I Wanted to Hear a Funny

A customer asked me the other night if I wanted ‘to hear a funny.’  Being exhausted and not immediately able to translate I asked, “A what?”

“A funny,” she repeated with a bit of an edge to her voice.  When she spoke it was as if through clenched teeth, and her eyes were suddenly attentive and aware of her surroundings.  Anyone who’s worked customer service knows that’s a dangerous state for a customer to be in.  A feral growl would have been the next logical progression of emotion should I have not suddenly understood she meant to tell me a joke.  I found myself afraid.

Reawakened, A Once Upon a Time TaleGiven that we had bonded already over my enjoyment of and her rabid obsession with the show Once Upon a Time, I knew that whether I wanted to hear her ‘funny’ or not, I was going to listen. 

You see, we’d met earlier that night when she brought the new Once Upon a Time book, Reawakened, to the desk and asked what specifically it was about.  Granted, she had the book in her hand and could easily have answered the question herself, but it was a slow night.  I told her it covered the first season. 

This was disappointing news for her until I quoted Wikipedia’s promise that it would give “fans of the show a whole new look at their favorite characters and stories.”  Boy oh boy did her spirits lift at that news.  She was certainly in for a treat, although the customer in line behind her looked slightly terrified. 

This look of terror was not properly interpreted by my Once Upon a Time customer.

“Aren’t you so excited?” she asked the women behind her, “Do you watch Once Upon a Time?  Isn’t it so good?”

It turned out this customer was not excited since not only was she not a fan but had never heard of the show before.  I was sincerely worried for this ignorant customer, scared she may be mauled in a hysterical fan-rage when she innocently responded, “Once Upon a Time?  I’ve never heard of it, is that a TV show or something?” 

I tried to make eye contact with her in an attempt to signal she should back away slowly and not engage the woman further, but thankfully another bookseller came to the desk and helped her, ending the conversation.

We talked about the show a bit more, I confessed sadly that I was a few episodes behind on the current season and begged her forgiveness for this, and showed her the books we had on fairy tales.  After that we parted ways, her to her crazy and I to cleaning up the crap customers had left all over the store.  I thought we were done.  I was wrong.

“Do you want to hear a funny?”

“A what?”

“A funny.”

“OK?”

“If you’re a Russian in the kitchen, what are you in the bathroom?”

“I don’t know.”

“If you’re a Russian in the kitchen, what are you in the bathroom?”

“No, I still have no idea.”

“European.  Get it?”

Maybe it was how late in the night it was; maybe this joke really is funny.  I don’t know, but I laughed.  And not just because I was too scared of her not to.

European.  Yeah lady, yeah I get it.  I see what you did there.

The Important Part is There Was a Cape

I’m pretty lame now, so I don’t dress up for Halloween anymore.  Usually I’ll think of a cool costume in June but by the time Halloween rolls around, I can’t remember what it was.

Besides, like grocery shopping and buying new socks, Halloween is a lot of pressure.  Do you want a scary costume, a funny one?  Are you going for clever because what if no one gets it and you spend all night explaining it again and again to rolled eyes and polite laughs?  And if you’re doing a couple’s costume?  That’s even scarier—now in addition to your own, you’re responsible for the person’s that you’re counting on sex from later.  If that costume idea goes bad, you’re in trouble.

I suppose there’s a lot of easy ways around all these things, like calming down and realizing its just Halloween.  But it’s not that easy, it never is.  After all, as Margaret White always says, “They’re all going to laugh at you.”

I had some weird costumes growing up and some simple ones.  Dracula, Wyatt Earp, box of lucky Charms, typical stuff.  This one year in particular I remember having a pretty awesome costume, way cooler than any of the store bought crap my classmates had.  It was an easy  one to make too, I think.  And that’s what every parent wants right, an easy costume?  So what was this awesome costume you ask?  I was SuperTed.  Yeah, that’s right.

Man in Shirt and Tie wearing a ape

I’d be so much more productive if I got to wear a cape to work

The costume was pretty simple too; a red sweatsuit, some felt my mother attached to the front for his emblem, a cape (goddamn right I had a cape) and the finishing touch: the head and hands of my previous year’s costume, and I was transformed into a beary awesome superhero.  Oh right, yeah, I was a Carebear the year before.  May or may not have been Sunshine Bear.  Moving on—I had a cape, have I mentioned the cape?

You have no idea who SuperTed is, do you?  Fine, whatever.  Here’s some backstory on him:  he was created in 1978  as a storybook character by a Welshman because his kid was afraid of the dark.  That led to a kid’s cartoon series like everything did in the late 70s/early 80s.   The original cartoon was the first British cartoon broadcast in the US when it aired on the Disney Channel.

SuperTedThen, in 1989, Hanna-Barbera made a second series, The Further Adventures of SuperTed, which aired as part of the “Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera.”  The other shows included in that ‘funtastic world’ you might remember a little better; Fantastic Max, Don Coyote, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures, the Midnight Patrol, and even a little Pup Named Scooby Doo, but no one liked that show.

If you never watched these shows, you had a terrible childhood, and your Saturday mornings were clearly completely wasted on you.  I used to sit through infomercials on Saturday mornings because I was so psyched for cartoons; I’d wake up too early.  Nothing has really changed, apparently; I’ll still watch fucking anything on TV.  Really, I just need a moving picture and I’m entertained.

You can watch these cartoons now, Bobby’s World is on Netflix now, so they’re not hard to find.  But, you don’t want to, not really.  They’re not the same.  I just watched the intros for both the original Welsh cartoon series and the American ‘Further Adventures’—and… ‘Murica didn’t help things much.  I’m pretty sure the sidekick has space herpes and just roofie’d the poor bear.  Both intros are a little terrifying in that what the fuck is this and how did my parents let me watch th—Oh my god the bear just ripped his skin off!  How is that a superpower?!

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