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» 2008 » October

Monthly ArchiveOctober 2008

Commentary 31 Oct 2008 05:53 am

The scariest part of Halloween

Here is my print column from Oct. 30, 2008. Yes, it is another comic-strip entry. I did one earlier this year to mark my fortieth birthday. Click the comic for a larger (readable) view.

Movies 29 Oct 2008 10:54 pm



My wife and I watched The Exorcist last weekend. It was the first time I’d seen the movie in a long time. Some parts dragged more than I remember, but overall it was as powerful as the first time I watched it. What I had forgotten is how beautifully shot the movie is, from the beginning in the Middle East to the scene of Max von Sydow standing outside the house where he will face his demonic enemy. (It’s the image on the poster.)

Technically, this is The Version You’ve Never Seen, which adds a few minutes of scenes, including one where little Regan scuttles down the stair steps like a spider. Good, but weird, stuff. In some perverse way, this is one of the most religious movies I’ve ever seen.

Books 28 Oct 2008 03:34 pm

Holiday tradition


Every Halloween, my daughter and I try to read The Hallo-Wiener by Dav (no “e”) Pilkey, even though we both know it by heart and she’s too old to have her old dad read aloud to her. Nevertheless, the story of Oscar, a little wiener dog whose mom dresses him as a frankfurter for Halloween to the howls of laughter from his friends, is still a hit here at Casa Schillig. Pilkey’s story is laugh-out-loud funny, and I recommend it highly for Halloween hilarity. It has a positive message, too, but that doesn’t get in the way of the fun. Before Pilkey rocketed to fame with Captain Underpants, he was doing good work like this. (According to Pilkey’s Web site, more tales of Oscar are coming! Hooray!)

Comic books 27 Oct 2008 06:31 pm

Halloween books are no treat


DC and Marvel have Halloween treats for their readers. Unfortunately, neither book is a treat.

We’ll start with the cumbersomely titled Superman & Batman Vs. Vampires and Werewolves #1. Who came up with that catchy sobriquet? Understated. The book isn’t much better. I’m not familiar with writer Kevin VanHook’s work, but it’s unimpressive here. Some vampires and werewolves have infiltrated Gotham City (in case you forgot the title), and Batman is trying to figure out where they came from. Superman is nowhere to
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Commentary 26 Oct 2008 08:05 am

Over-scheduled equals under-thought

Here is my Oct. 23 column from the pages of The Alliance Review:

Wordsworth was right: The world is too much with us.

While the poet was chiding us for distancing ourselves from nature, he may just as well have been pointing a finger from the grave at modern society’s infatuation with time — or more specifically, the filling of every minute with activity.

Nowhere is this tendency to over-schedule more apparent than with today’s teenagers, many of whom have absorbed from infancy that idleness is the devil’s
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Music 25 Oct 2008 11:25 am

A new ‘Democracy’

Hey, Chinese Democracy has arrived.

Or at least the first official single from the loooong-awaited Guns ‘N Roses album, the title track of which was released earlier this week. I listened to it through my computer, which makes it sound all tinny and small, so I will have to catch it somewhere with better audio before I decide if I like it.

The album is scheduled to be sold exclusively by Best Buy beginning Nov. 23. Since it’s been 13 years in the making — actually, it’s just taken drug-addled lead singer Axel Rose that long to cobble it together between bouts of weirdness and the departure of all other original members — it should really be something. Maybe.

Apparently, the new business model for rock and roll is to find an exclusive place to peddle your music. The Eagles and AC/DC have done it with Wal-Mart, and now G’N'R with Best Buy.

Media 23 Oct 2008 06:11 am

Smaller and smaller

 What the hell happened to Rolling Stone?

The magazine got all small. The latest issue is now the same size as Newsweek and Time, and with Barack Obama on the cover, about as trendy.

An editorial inside notes that the size change will make
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Books & Media 22 Oct 2008 06:00 am

Very im-POE-tant anniversary


January 19 will mark the bicentennial of the birth of one of America’s greatest writers, Edgar A. Poe. (While most people refer to him as Edgar Allan Poe, biographers note that the writer never signed his name as such because of a disagreement with John Allan, who took him in after the death of his parents and cut off young Poe’s finances.)

To mark the auspicious date, several Poe projects are forthcoming. The most exciting, at least to me, is In the Shadow of the Master: Classic Tales by Edgar Allan Poe, which features many of his best-known writings
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Books & Media 21 Oct 2008 05:59 am

Pardon me

“The Pardoner’s Tale” is one of the more well-known of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. It is a story perfectly suited for Halloween, a proto-Poe tale where three young scoundrels decide to find and kill death, but are distracted by worldly riches. After reading it, I was reminded of Scott Smith’s A Simple Plan, a very good novel that was adapted into a decent movie a few years back. (”A few years back” is my way of saying I’m too lazy to look up the exact release date.)

The YouTube video above is a modern rap version of “The Pardoner’s Tale.” Don’t let that turn you off if you dislike rap, because it’s very good and very faithful to the original. The animation isn’t truly animated, but the artwork itself is nice.

If you want to read the original tale first (or later), you can click here.

Movies 20 Oct 2008 06:11 am

Call somebody who scares


I swear I don’t work for Moviefone, even though I plug the Web site often. This time, it lists the 31 worst horror movie cliches. I deduct major points because in one selection (for the latest M. Night Shyamalan film), the writers give away a major plot point – for a movie newly released on video that I haven’t yet seen! Grr.  

The site also lists the 31 scariest movie moments, which it adds to daily. Many of the moments are from films I listed in my gargantuan 31 Days of Halloween blog countdown last year, so I give the Moviefone folks props for having good taste. Moviefone also lists at least one non-horror entry, the flying blue monkeys from Wizard of Oz, which are super scary. (So was the Wicked Witch.) Good stuff.


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