Dryvember Day Six: Thinks About Drinks

So far my Dryvember posts I have just kind of described my days, but day six will be a little different. Yes, I will still inform you of how my day went and all that jazz. But, I think I will also explore how all of this is making me feel. Describe my emotional state, as it were.

To start, though? How was my day? Thankfully, it started off well and continued that way. Although, I did remember that today is the two year anniversary of my dog’s death. Remembering that made me sad. He was a good Boston terrier, and too young. We had to put him down because of a brain tumor. He was incontinent, incognizant, and on his way out. It was a mercy killing, but it hurt. It still does. Anyway, enough of that noise. He was a good and stinky dog. I will always miss him.

Still the rest of the day went well. I taught my classes, made my students laugh, and the Sharks won. Victory all around.

And yet…during my last lesson I had a think about drinking. The desire to run to the market and get some wine or beer or Scotch as soon as class was over filled me. I could almost see myself making the trip and enjoying my beverages. I could also see myself writing a blog post very different to this one. After all, I couldn’t call it Dryvember Day Six now could I?

Never fear, dear reader, I did not succumb to the siren call of alcohol. Though, I suppose you wouldn’t know if I had. I could be lying about it, I suppose. But that would break the reader blogger trust bond, and I have no interest in that.

Dryvember Day Six Brought Me A Cute Puppy Picture

The picture shows a sleeping puppy pug, which is the picture my sister sent me for Dryvember Day Six
My sister sent me this pic of her cute Pug pupper.

So I suppose I must consider the ‘why’ of wanting to drink. The easy answer is why not? I mean, I’m doing this no drink month thing mostly as a challenge to myself. So what if I fail? Who have I let down other than myself? Well, no one really, except for those following along and offering support. I see you, and I appreciate you.

Another possible answer is because it’s been a nearly a week since I last imbibed, and milestones like this are always something. My brain and my body might be starting to realize they won’t be getting and delicious poison this weekend, or for the next few weekends. Armed with that knowledge, they are striking out the only way they know how: creating cravings! Those sly bastards.

A third possibility is that I was thinking about how bored I was going to be after class. I’ve written about it before, but boredom is probably my number one enemy when it comes to changing my habits. I am sure that’s true for many people, but I know it’s true for me. While I stood in class waiting for my students to finish the task I assigned them, my mind wandered. And the path it found was the Road of Booze. The few moments I spent mentally walking down that path were glorious.

Success is Mine, and Voyager 2’s

But, you know what was more glorious? Coming out of that reverie, continuing class, and then coming home after work to some nice tea. I encountered my first real obstacle this Dryvember, and it came on day six. That’s not too bad if you ask me. What’s even better is that I overcame it without much trouble.

I am still on board with this endeavor, and I am steeling myself for further incidents such as today’s. But, I feel good mentally and physically. I’m still tired, but I’ve managed to get more and better sleep these past few days. All in all, I am proud of my efforts and accomplishments thus far.

Now, if only I could clean my room. Thanks for reading.

Oh, and Voyager 2 entered interstellar space. It’s journey is not relevant to mine, but it’s cool nonetheless.

Dryvember Day Five: Guy Fawkes is Nonsense

And here I am approaching the end of Dryvember day 5 and thinking about how Guy Fawkes is nonsense. Why? Put simply, the man was a religious terrorist, and that doesn’t fly with me. He wanted to blow up the House of Lords and kill King James I. Why? Because he and the others involved in the Gunpowder plot wanted to start a Catholic Revolution and install a Catholic leader to the crown. Everyone involved were traitorous would be murderers. They can go right to hell.

Also, the plot gave us that damn Remember, remember the fifth of November junk, repeated by so many people because it sounds cool. Sorry to those of you who say it because you know the historical context. And when Alan Moore put it in V for Vendetta, I have no doubt he knew what it was. I don’t know why I have such a visceral reaction to Guy Fawkes, but I always have, and Dryvember day five is no exception. It might have something to do with idolizing religious terrorists. Or, it could be that so much of the imagery associated with this murderous plot has become hipster gobbledygook to me.

Again, I apologize to any who just want to have some fun on this day. I am not trying to kill your joy; it’s just not for me.

What Else Can I Say About Dryvember Day Five and Guy Fawkes?

My 16:10-18:00 class once again struggled with the material. It’s looking more and more like it’s too tough for them and I have to make more adjustments.

A Chinese teacher I have never seen asked me if I had a class in the only building I ever have class in. I said yet. He asked if i was sure. I then told him I have class there everyday. I felt kind of like a dick, but come on. The best, though, was when a student also in the elevator say good morning to me. As far as micro-aggressions go, it wasn’t bad, or even all that notable. It was annoying. I can’t imagine what it’s like for people who have to deal with actual micro-aggressions on a daily basis.

Oh, and I forgot my textbook for my morning class. Luckily my colleague, who also teaches a version of that class, let me borrow his. Talk about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. That would not have been a great way to begin the morning..

Oh, and I scraped the story I started a couple days ago. I kept the file, but I am not going to use those words. Better inspiration struck, so I had to follow it. It does stink to lose those 1,500 words I wrote previously, but that’s how these things go sometimes

The image shows a can of lemon sparkling water, which was my beverage for Dryvember Day Five Guy Fawkes instead of alcohol

Oh, and I had a can of that lemon soda water featured above. It stinks. It’s very chemically lemon and not very sparkling. Luckily, I didn’t pay much for it.

Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings

I felt pretty good today, despite some hiccups. Though, I will say that I felt a little stressed and irrationally angry. Both are probably a result on working, but also knowing that this upcoming weekend will be booze free. And sure, it’s only Tuesday, but it’s never too late to look forward to the weekend. But, when the weekends usually involve indulging in alcohol, not having that option is a bit of a let down. I’ll be fine, I’m sure. In the meantime, I have writing to do and tea to drink.

So that’s it for Dryvember day five, and remember, remember, Guy Fawkes is nonsense.

Dryvember Day Four: I Am Exhausted

All right people, here we go with the Dryvember day four progress report. As the headline says, I am sleepy. But, I feel good. Why so sleepy?? Glad you asked. I felt exhausted yesterday, so I went to bed early. I don’t know if that decision was a mistake. What I do know is I woke up at 1:45 am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I was having a crazy ass dream about Ghost Rider and Doctor Strange, which would be a great team up.

In the dream, which I was watching as if it were a movie, the good doctor and flaming skull dude found themselves trapped in a strange dimension. In that dimension, they had to fight two warring tribes that each had magic and advanced technology. The climax of the dream was so intense that it woke me up. And I don’t mean just a little. I was wide awake, wanting to write that dream I’d just had.

Well, I made some notes and tried to go back to sleep. After all, it was too damn early to be up. Unfortunately, my mind and body had different ideas. Instead of allowing me to drift back to dreamland, my brain insisted I keep thinking about the dream. I wouldn’t have minded, but again, it was super early and i just wanted more sleep.

Still, I made a couple more notes and tried to come up with some character names. I mean, as much as I would love to use Ghost Rider and Doctor Strange, I can’t. So, I have to create my own characters, loosely based on the originals, of course.

Finally, I decided to get out of bed and start Dryvember day four properly

I needed to do some lesson planning, so I did. In order to battle the tiredness I knew was coming, I drank a ton of coffee: three cups to be exact. Now, that may not sound like a lot to many of you, but I usually only drink one, maybe two.

After lesson planning, I completed my morning routine and went to work. Thank goodness today was my end early day because I was done teaching at noon. Then I went shopping and came home. Once I got home I thought about taking a nap, but decided against it. I didn’t want to wake up at 20:00 or something and then be awake all night. Hopefully this plan of staying up for as long as I can, or at least until 20:00 or 21:00 (it’s nearly 18:00 now), will help me sleep through the night.

I do wonder why I woke up so early and couldn’t get back to sleep. I know a sudden stoppage in alcohol consumption can lead to insomnia. However, I don’t think it’s that. More likely is the fact that I have dealt with insomnia nearly my entire life. But who knows, maybe the lack of booze in my system is messing things up. Still, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me because it’s not like I was drinking everyday before I started No Drink November. At any rate, I hope to get some good sleep tonight.

The image shows a jar of cranberry tea which I will be drinking on Dryvember Day four

To that end, I am drinking some cranberry tea. It’s tasty, sugar free, and not too bitter. Plus, the lack of caffeine can only help send me to slumberland.

What Else Did I Do Today?

Other things of note I did today? Well, I wrote this blog post. Ha ha. I also finished Creepshow and wrote the review for the final episode. The thought of doing to do some more writing on the projects I’m working on crossed my mind, but those can wait. I think I am too tired to do much of anything except drink tea and veg out on stupid TV.

Oh, and something I didn’t do was clean my room. Ha ha. Maybe tomorrow….

So, that’s it for Dryvember Day Four. Thanks for following along with my story. I know it’s not the most interesting, but I hope it brings a smile to your face nonetheless. Let me know what’s going on with you in the comments. Peace and love and lots of hugs.

Creepshow S01 E06: Water Monsters Rule

Here it is, finally, my review of Creepshow S01 E06. Keep and eye out for a whole season roundup, but for now let’s focus on the task at hand. Both stories in this episode feature water monsters, though in different capacities. In addition to this similarity, there is also the theme of exploiting nature for commercial success. The first story Skincrawlers wears this theme on its sleeve. However, the second story By The Silver Waters of Lake Champlain dances with this idea as well.

The image shows the title of Skincrawlers, the first tale in Creepshow S01 E06

Without officially ranking them, I would say that this episode’s stories are two of the strongest of the season. I don’t know if I can say they were my favorite, but I enjoyed them immensely. Each story is confident in the writing, directing, cinematography, and acting. And the specials effects are wonderful as well, especially in Skincrawlers.

While there are similarities between the two stories, stark differences also exist. Skincrawlers is a creature feature first and foremost. It has very little interest in the humanity of its characters. Oh sure, characterization happens, but on briefly. The characters are archetypes, which is fine. In fact, that’s pretty much how shows like this go. After all, there’s only so much character you can give in 20 minutes or so.

Plus, the lack of depth is what makes the inevitable bloodbath so satisfying. These aren’t people we care about, but rather people we are happy to see die. Where this story differs from other episodes, including the second feature in Creepshow S01 E06, is they aren’t bad people. Even the shady investor turns out not to be all that terrible. I was still happy to see him die, and his death was fun. All of the deaths in this story were fun and had me smiling with glee.

Creepshow S01 E06 Is A Smaller Story With Human Terror

Whereas Skincrawlers went big with the gore and death, Silver Waters goes small. This is a quiet story lacking the bombast of the previous tale, but it still unnerves. Actually, it might even be more unnerving that Skincrawlers.

The premise of this story is straightforward enough. There’s a monster in a local lake. Think the Loch Ness Monster, only in the US. “Champy” is it’s name, presumably after the lake. There’s a family, big sister Rose, little brother Joey, their mom Leigh, and mom’s abusive boyfriend Chet. Chet is a real scumbag, molded out of the stuff that Stephen King uses to make his most memorable shit-heels. That makes some sense, considering this is a Joe Hill story.

Rose, like her father before her, obsesses over the existence of Champ. Leigh doesn’t like that and claims that William, the father was crazy. Well, on this particular day a fog is rolling in, much like it did on the day William claimed to have seen Champy.

As a side note, we get what sounds like Adrienne Barbeau on the radio warning the townsfolk about the incoming fog. This is fun because of her role in John Carpenter’s The Fog, acting as a nice Easter egg.

The Slow Burn Builds Tension and Hold Interest

This episode had me squirming in my seat. Not because it was overly scary, but because director Tom Savini lets the tension build. As the audience we know this story almost beat for beat. Yet, it stays interesting due to how much breathing room Savini gives it.

This could have easily strayed into cliche (and it does to a bit) or a rush job like Times is Tough in Musky Holler. But, it doesn’t. We spend time with Rose, understanding her motivations and why Champy is so important to her. Rose feels real, and so does her would-be boyfriend, Tommy. I mean, they are still thin sketches, but they definitely have more depth than many of the characters in the stories this season.

Skincrawlers also had this slow burn, making the gory release of the finale worth it. Silver Waters has a similar release, but it is softer and more understated in tone. And it’s a little tragic. Did I tear up at one of the final images? You bet your Rambo knife, I did.

Thus ends the season, and my recap of Creepshow s01 E06. Thank you for reading. I am sorry if this review is a little lackluster, I am operating on not much sleep. I could have waited to write and post this, but I’ve already waited too long. Thanks again, and as always, if you have something to say, leave it in the comments.

And, as I wrote near the beginning of this post, I will eventually rank all the stories from the first season. I hope to have your eyes on that post when I do. Until then, watch out for the Creep. If you missed any of my reviews, click here to read them.

I Hate How The Mist Ends Movie Version

I hate how The Mist ends so much. Why? Because it’s unearned cheap manipulation. It tells the audience how to feel, and it shoves bleakness in their face. Granted, it’s been a long time since I saw the movie, but I remember nothing in it foreshadowing that ending. It’s there to shock. To that end, it succeeds. But it’s cynical nonsense.

How could the ending have been effective or earned. First, set up the choice earlier. Second, have the final shot be of the Jeep. We hear gunshots and see muzzle flashes. Fade to black. We wouldn’t know who lived and who died. It’s still bleak, but it leaves us wondering. Or don’t even have the gunshots, just the Jeep.

The image shows the movie poster for the Mist, and I hate how the Mist ends.

I hate how the Mist ends: it’s cheap emotional manipulation. It says, if he would have just waited, things would have been okay. Moreover, it says, if they had left in the beginning with Carol from the Walking Dead, everything would have been okay. Having the Mist dissipate is dumb to me.

I don’t mind dark and bleak endings. I especially didn’t mind them when this movie came out. But, I feel they need to be earned. They need to mean something. They can’t just be bleak for bleakness’s sake. Cynicism is not thought provoking or powerful. It’s cheap.

I know King says he wishes he would have written that ending, and fine. I prefer the ending he did write. That one is just as bleak, but it’s not as cynical. Sure, people are still alive, but it’s not a happy ending. The Mist is there. It’s everywhere. It ends on the chance at hope: maybe we’ll find a safe place, but don’t bet on it. Lots of people like it, but I do not. What are your thoughts?

Dryvember Day Three: SJ Sharks Make Me Thirsty

Dryvember day three saw another successful day of no booze, and another SJ Sharks loss. The latter definitely made the former more difficult. Whereas they played an excellent game yesterday and still lost, today they stank. They weren’t Sharks, they were chum. It was a terrible game after the first two shifts, which I missed due to internet issues. Anyway, it was a stinker.

I say that the Sharks losing made Dryvember day three tough, but that’s not really true. Sure, a drink would have been nice to help numb the pain, but it was unnecessary. In fact, not drinking allowed me to really pay attention to how bad the game was. I got to embrace my disappointment rather than give into booze inspired anger. So, another win to build on. Now, if only Team Teal could start to build on whatever little things they do well to get some wins. Of course, today, they did nothing well except feed the opposition.

But, enough about the Sharks. After the game, I was in the position of once again figuring out something to do. The first thing I did was drown my disappointment in ginger beer, non-alcoholic of course.

The image shows a bottle of Bundaberg ginger beer, which was my beverage of choice for Dryvember Day Three
This stuff is delicious. Not too sweet with a nice real ginger flavor.

Fighting the Boredom of Dryvember Day Three

After enjoying that beverage (gone too quickly) I still didn’t know what to do. I figured I could do some writing because I can always do some writing. But, I’d been staring at my computer screen for a while already. Then, I thought I could play some Luigi’s Mansion 3 because that game’s a blast. But again, the problem of screens. Of course, while I considering these thoughts, I was on my phone. So much for avoiding screens.

Finally, I decided it was time for lunch, so I ate. Then I ventured out to the local supermarket for some much needed supplies: mostly cleaning. I still haven’t cleaned up my apartment, but now at least I have the needed items.

And here’s the trick to this whole sobriety thing, at least for me: don’t get bored. This is different from staying active, though there are definite similarities. Boredom is the bane of sobriety because you’re sitting there with nothing better to do, so why no drink. It’s logical to an extent, and easy to follow through on. Keeping busy, or at least embracing the nothing that you do will help you fight bored drinking. When I say you here, I want to be clear, I mean me. I don’t know what would work for any of you reading this. I don’t know your lives or your drinking triggers.

However, I do know that engaging fully with what I am doing helps me stay sober. Sometimes that means writing, others it means going shopping, and others still it means writing or lesson planning. There is always something I could be doing other than drinking. I need to remember that even after this month is over.

What Did I Do?

Did I ever figure out something to do? Not really. I mean, I wrote this blog post, so that’s something. And now I am deciding whether or not to work on a story I started yesterday after I wrote my update on No Drink November, or to just watch a movie. I find both of them quite appealing. I probably should work on the story; it involves a deadline. But, I do have work tomorrow and relaxing sounds nice, too.

Decisions, decisions.

Anyway, that’s what went on during Dryvember day three for me. Thanks for reading, and if you’ve got something to say, say it in the comments.

Dryvember Day Two: Nice Day For A Walk

As I enter into the evening of Dryvember Day Two, I wanted to say that I am feeling pretty good. I had trouble sleeping last. Whether that was due to the lack of alcohol or just my normal insomnia, I don’t know. Regardless, I fell asleep late and woke up early. But, even though I felt sleepy, I wasn’t hungover. I didn’t feel bad, and that felt great.

This is not some huge revelation: of course hangovers don’t feel good, and of course you don’t get them if you don’t drink. Still, it was nice not to start a Saturday that way.

Instead of lamenting my choices from the previous night and battling a headache, I drank some coffee. And basked in the feeling of sobriety. Then I watched the San Jose Sharks play a great game and still lose. They’re just not getting any luck this year. I am happy to report that even this loss did not make me want to renege on my Dryvember day two progress. Another small victory for the list.

After the game, I needed something to do. First, I thought about writing. I have a short story I need to write for an upcoming competition. Also, I am working on a short film script for another competition. Wait, there’s more: I’m writing some comic scripts for open submissions. Plus, I still have to watch and review the final episode of Creepshow. I plan on doing the latter. The point here, is that I have plenty of things to keep me occupied and away from the sauce. Oh, and I really need to clean my apartment because it’s filthy and driving me crazy. If anything makes me want to drink, it’s that.

Instead I went for a three hour walk.

Dryvember Day Two Saw Me Wander Around Jinan

I knew I had things to write. But, I also knew that I wasn’t in the right mindset for it. It’s not so much that I wasn’t in the mood as I didn’t have the focus for it. Sure, I probably could have typed my way into focus, the click clacking of the keys guiding me toward the path. But, it was a nice day and it’s supposed to get real cold here real soon. I figured I’d enjoy the sun while I could. Besides, my knees been hurting a lot, and today it wasn’t. Another reason to get out and move around.

I ended up walking to a store that sells foreign goods. While there I got some good cheddar (difficult to find here in China), some herbal tea, and some soda. All of it overpriced, but whatever. I’m not spending money on booze this month, so I may as well find my indulgences elsewhere.

On my way to the shop, I saw this building, which tickled me so much I had to take a picture. I don’t know why I find it funny, but it probably has something to do with the juxtaposition of the words. Mutton Soup, Print Shop, Cigarettes and Wine, Pork Chops and Rice. It’s all so eclectic. Add to it what you can’t see, a clothing shop, and a fruit store, and it’s got nearly everything you need. Ha ha.

The image shows the side of a building in Jinan where I spent Dryvember Day Two walking around.

I’m home now, drinking some water and contemplating what to eat for dinner. I have some frozen dumplings to steam, and some fresh veggies. Sounds like a nice light meal. That about does it for my Dryvember day two. Thanks for reading.

Dryvember Dispatches Day One: No Drink November

I have written a little before about my battle with depression, as well as my propensity to drink. Not to worry, dear reader, I am not depressed. Well, at least not any more than normal. In fact, I feel pretty good with things in my life. Also, I haven’t been drinking too much lately. Mostly just on the weekends, though then yes, it is too much at one time. I’m working on it! Anyway, I decided to stop drinking alcohol for the month of November, and I decided to write about it. So, without further delay, here is Dryvember Dispatches Day One.

So, if I am not feeling down, and I have my drinking under control, why did I decide to do this to myself? The main reason is simple: to see if I could. I don’t often go out of my way to challenge myself with things like this. Though on occasion, I do. I did a 30 day squat challenge on year, and I have done a dry November once before. But, this year, I figured what the hell? Why not prove to myself that I can do this? I thought about it for a hot second and then realized there was no good answer, so here I am writing my Dryvember Dispatches day one of thirty.

I don’t know if I will post updates every day, or a few times a week. It probably depends on if I think I have something to say. Also, depending on how I feel. If I feel the need to share my experience because I’m particularly proud or in need of encouragement, then you can count on a dispatch.

Dryvember Dispatches Day One Started Stong

Today is the first day, obviously, and so far it’s gone well. It’s almost over for me, actually. And despite not being able to fulfill my normal Friday night ritual of pizza and beer, I still managed to get the pizza. I’m counting that as a win.

The image shows the Queen Barrata pizza, which is what I chose to eat for Dryvember Dispatches Day One
The Queen Baratta Pizza. It usually has more peppers and fewer mushrooms. It was still tasty, though.

I haven’t felt the need for a drink, which isn’t all that surprising. I did drink last night in preparation for taking the month off. Still, it’s nice to not have the craving, desire, or need for booze here at the beginning. Work’s going to get busy soon, and the days are turning cold, but for now all is well.

I did have a bit of an emotional wave crash over me while waiting for my pizza, but I attribute that to the stress of the day more than anything. It was a long day today; classes, lunch with colleagues, and a work meeting. None of these things individually add up to anything tough. But, put them all together and stress is the result.

The spell passed, and I didn’t end up crying in Pizza Hut. Another win. So, yeah, that’s Dryvember Dispatches Day One. Thanks for reading. If you have suggestions for getting by without booze, let me know in the comments. And if you’ve done something like this, let me know that, too. Hell, if you just want to chat with an internet stranger, I’m fine with that as well.

Oh, one more thing; before I wrote this post, I knew dry November was a thing, but I didn’t realize it had official connections. More info here.

Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween Movie

Apparently there is some debate about whether or not The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween Movie. Well, I am here to tell you that it is. How do I know? Well, Danny Elfman said so. But even if he hadn’t, I would maintain that this stop motion animated masterpiece is for the spooky season.

The image shows Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, from The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is a Halloween movie.

Despite the focus on the Yuletide, and the appearance of Christmas Town and Sanit Nick himself, NBX screams Halloween. It begins in a town full of ghosts, goblins, vampires, werewolves, and other beasties. Jack Skellington rules the town as the Pumpkin King. He’s not the Mistletoe King, nor his he the Tannenbaum King. No, Jack’s title is Pumpkin King. And aside from pies featuring that fruit, there’s not much Christmasy about pumpkins.

Nightmare Before Christmas is full of Tricks, Making it a Halloween Movie

Okay, so we’ve established one reason why Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween movie. But don’t worry, there are others. The movie is all about tricks and treats. Are those a feature of the Yuletide season?

Jack first tricks the townsfolk by pretending to be into his holiday when he isn’t. No, Jack is tired of scares and spookiness, but he can’t let the others know that. Soon, he finds himself in Christmas Town, where he gets the idea to steal the holiday and replace Santa.

Upon his return to Halloween Town, Jack has to trick his friends. He first tries to sincerely sell them on the idea of Christmas, but they’re not buying it. Or at least, not getting it. They don’t understand the concept of Christmas, and how could they? They’ve never visited it and only have Jack’s description. Plus, they’re monsters so they naturally focus on the scary stuff. And then Jack gives them what they want by telling them of the monster Santa Clause, painting the kindly old gent as a ferocious creature.

Soon, Jack decides to steal Christmas, and begins plotting. This involves yet another trick. Kidnap Santa Clause. And how does he implement this plan? Well, he hires Oogie’s Boys (costumed trick or treates) to kidnap the “The Big Red Lobster Man,” which they do, after accidentally snatching the Easter Bunny. So much trickery.

And then of course, there’s Sally. Sally is the heart and soul of the film, and even she gets in on the trickery. She tricks her creator Doctor Finklestein several times, and even plays a trick on Jack when she makes the fog because she knows what he’s doing is wrong and a disaster.

Far too many tricks in this movie happen to make it a Christmas movie.

Yuletide Elements Can’t Be Ignored

Of course, people who deny The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween movie point to the title. It has Christmas in it, so how can it not be a Yuletide movie? Admittedly, this looks like a good point, but it really isn’t a strong one. Yes, there are X-Mas elements in the movie. And yes, it mirrors It’s a Wonderful Life in the sense that Jack learns to appreciate the life he has rather than pine for a different one. There’s even a little but of How the Grinch Stole Christmas in there thanks to Zero, and the residents of Halloween learning what Christmas is all about.

Still, a word in the title and a few connections to Christmas stories are not enough to make this a Christmas movie.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t watch it during the Christmas season. In fact, it’s a good choice because it does remind us of the power of friendship and loved ones. It just does so with zombies and mummies and skeletons instead of family and angels and such.

I say the Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween movie that you can watch any time of the year. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Creepshow S01 E05 Brings the Horror Back

After a few episodes that have been more campy than scary, Creepshow S01 E05 brings the chills back with a vengeance. The first installment, Night of the Paw, dabbles in that staple of the genre: the monkey’s paw. Usually, these stories depend on how the paw’s holder will screw themselves with their wishes. While there is some of that in this tale, there is also a nice twist to the formula.

The image shows a monkey shines monkey with the words Night of the Paw, the first tale in Creepshow S01 E05

The story begins with an extended comic book sequence. Now, the series has used these sequences before, and to great effect. The werewolf transformation in episode two comes to mind. Here, however, we get the longest one yet, and it works well to introduce the story quickly. A criminal is on the run on a dark and rainy night. The car crashes, and we see the crook hobble their way to a funeral home. All of this is very economical storytelling. As is the action inside the home. Whitey, the owner, sits by the fire talking to a portrait of a woman. He says something about it being soon, and then the doorbell rings.

When he answers, he find the crook, who promptly passes out. We, along with Whitey, learn the criminal is a woman. Echoing my thoughts, and in a bit of meta-film, Whitey says, “Not at all what I expected.” This made me chuckle. I am sorry for spoiling the gag, but I hope it still makes you chuckle.

Creepshow S01 E05 The Night of the Paw Adds Fresh Twists to an Old Story

There are plenty of twists and turns in this story, starting with what Whitey does to the criminal in his lab. I won’t spoil it here, but I will say it isn’t what you are probably thinking. These twists and red-herrings add a freshness to the piece. So often in Monkey Paw stories we see the twists coming from a mile away. Admittedly, that is kind of the point. If you are a lover of schlock horror, you understand these tropes and conventions. To be clear, I have nothing against the predictability of these stories, but I do find it refreshing when they aren’t so straightforward.

I don’t want to spoil things, so I will just say that I loved how they handled this tale. The lighting is often soft with dark contrasts. Angela’s outfit evokes a wide variety of associations. The pain on Whitey’s face as he tells his story is palpable. All of these aspects play well together to create a creepy and tense tale.

I take issue with a few things: namely the rules of the paw aren’t all that well established. I had to make some logical leaps and self-explanations. That’s okay, though. I would rather be engrossed by the story and have something to figure out than have the whole thing fed to me.

I really enjoyed this story, and the newness it brought to the desiccated corpse of the monkey’s paw. A great addition to the series, a spectacular opening episode.

Time Is Tough in Musky Holler Is a Grotesque Gore Fest

The second entry in Creepshow S01 E05 is not as strong as the initial offering, but has its merits nonetheless. It also has a noticeably shorter running time, probably because it’s thin on story.

We open in a basement jail. Concrete walls, condensation dripping down them, chain link gate/fence. Clearly, things are not above board here. We see and hear Lester M. Barclay shouting about how things are right. He mentions that something is wrong with the world and that he was just doing what needed to be done. He repeats his name several times as some kind of protective mantra. From off the screen we hear crowds cheering as if they are watching some kind of sporting event. My first thought was gladiator games.

David Arquette is in this episode, but sadly feels wasted. I mean, his performance is great. The problem is, he doesn’t have a lot to do. In fact, not many of the actors or characters have much to do in this story. I wonder if that is due to budgetary constraints such as not having the money to make those scenes bigger. Or another reason. Either way, the lack of character action adds to the general thinness of this feature.

Style Over Substance in the Holler, but That’s Okay

What this tale lacks in character it makes up with style and the ability to unnerve. The whole thing is fraught with tension that just builds and builds. It’s a wise choice on the show maker’s part to keep what’s happening above a secret. Even as they reveal how the world has changed, they hold back enough information to keep your knuckles white.

Long dark hallways, rattling chains, people pissing themselves: all of these add to the general sense of dread and ruination of the segment. And I love it.

Another neat aspect of this tale is the use of live action shots within the comic frame. Again, the series has used this technique before, but never to this extent. It is an efficient and effective way to present exposition.

The story culminates in blood soaked frenzy with spectacular make up effects, and plenty of gore. It’s over a little too quickly for my tastes, but I still dug it. I am not sure how they could have extended those final moments, but I would have liked a lingering camera. While this tale isn’t as complex or daring as the Night of the Paw, it’s still fun. And it’s got the wicked getting their comeuppance, which is my bag, as I’ve said many times before.

Overall, I think Creepshow S01 E05 is the second or third strongest episode of the series so far. I think there’s only one left, and that makes me sad. What are your thoughts? Did you like it? Which tale did you prefer? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading.