Things That Go Bump In the Night

A few years ago I began to really get into classic horror films – the classic material going back to the 1930’s, including the original Dracula, Frankenstein, Mummy, etc.   I’ve become quite the fan, amassing a respectable collection of the best Universal and Hammer films released.  I still have a long way to go both in terms of my horror classics education and collection, but for a fan of just a few short years, I’ve gotten a good start.

The other day while carving pumpkins for Halloween, a friend’s 13 year old son said that he had seen the original "Halloween" and didn’t think it was scary.  I found this strange, since I saw the movie for the first time two years ago and it had me on the edge of my seat.  He continued to explain that it wasn’t scary because they didn’t "show anything" – and by "anything" he meant "blood and guts."

The whole debate about "slasher" vs. "suspense" has been argued since the first horror movie was released, so I have no delusions that I might put it to rest here.  While the blood and gore has its place in horror movies, the best thing is still the suspense, mystery and unknown that is inherent in nearly all great horror movies. 

To me, it is the difference between nightmares and being able to fall asleep in the first place.  Any good horror movie can give you nightmares.  A REALLY good one will keep you from falling asleep in the first place.  There is something far scarier not knowing what might be lurking in the dark than seeing someone’s guts spewed all over the place.

The Passing of a Legendary Place

Last year I had an opportunity to go to CBGB’s in New York City about a week before they were reported to be closing.   They managed to stay open for a while longer, but on Monday, it was announced that they are closing for good, but opening a place in Las Vegas.  I’m sure the Vegas place will be very cool, but it’ll always be the second generation of a great club that was the birthplace of a lot of great rock music.

Oh, Canada!

On September 22nd, my girlfriend (The Pop Culture Gangsteress) and I headed for Toronto to go watch the Boston Red Sox play the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Center.  Back in May when we bought these tickets, we thought that this series of games was going to be an important one.  The Red Sox were in first place and the Jays were predicted to be contenders for the division championships.  This was the last away series of the year and we figured it could be a division-clinching set of games.

Five months later, things had taken an ugly turn, and the series turned into a battle to stay out of third place.  But, being dutiful Red Sox fans and always up for a road trip, we embarked on our journey anyway, determined to make the best of it.

Outside_rogersWe spent the night in Syracuse and then moved onto Buffalo, NY, where we tried the original buffalo wings at the Anchor Bar.  We crossed the border into Canada via the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, with a laughable border patrol effort.  We didn’t even have to show our passports – we told them we were going to the baseball game and they let us through.  Apparently its a good thing terrorists aren’t baseball fans.

Our first impression of Toronto is that traffic SUCKS there.  I mean, really sucks.  We were driving into the city in the very early afternoon on a Saturday and it felt like Friday rush hour in Boston.   Every time we looked out on the highway, we saw some traffic virtually stopped in some direction.  Perhaps they are trying to encourage mass transit or bicycling by not improving things.

Inside_rogersOnce in the city, we managed to wind our way to the hotel (note to mapmakers: if a street isn’t really a street, but a pedestrian walkway, for the love of god, please mark it as such!), which was a great Holiday Inn just a short walk from the stadium.

The Rogers Centre was made world-famous by its retractable roof, and inside it, the stadium reflects the landscape of the city around it.  It is impeccably clean and modern, with clean lines and sleek touches everywhere.  It is the opposite of the newer stadiums which are usually retro in their design, tying into the the rehabilitated areas of the city they usually inhabit (such as Baltimore’s Camden Yards and Denver’s Coors Field) with lots of brick, exposed metal beams and natural landscaping, matching the converted old industrial buildings that surround those parks.  In contrast, the area surrounding the Rogers Centre is clean and sleek with lots of concrete and the futuristic CN Tower standing tall next to it.

I won’t even get into the games – the Sox lost both games we saw, one by an embarrassingly large number of runs.  We took advantage of the lack of pressure to see the games in order to see more of the city.  We had the opportunity to see a comedy show, a major attraction in the city thanks to some top-notch comedy clubs.  Cn_tower

We also met up with a colleague of mine who lives in the city and was kind enough to show us around Chinatown and Kensington Market.  Chinatowns are always interesting, especially with an experienced guide and Kensington Market was the perfect little funky neighborhood that makes cities unique, with independent stores selling unique wares such as fresh whole spices, independent music, and specialty cuisines.

For the second time, I tried Dim Sum.  This was my attempt at really trying to like it, but unfortunately, while I LOVE a lot of Chinese food, I’m not crazy about the steamed texture that the dumplings take on.  I can say I’ve honestly tried it, gave it a true try, but alas, I shall not be participating again by my own free will.

Glass_floor_2We also traveled to the top of the CN Tower, the tallest structure in the world (but not the tallest building… whatever), which was awesome.  In one of the most clever ideas I’ve ever seen, they have a "glass floor" which allows you to look straight down underneath you.

  On the trip back, we enjoyed two pleasurable stops at Niagara area wineries, picking up some excellent ice wines while there.  Then we spent a few hours at Niagara Falls, a natural phenomenon that no photo can do justice.   I went about 15 years ago, but unfortunately a malfunctioning camera left me with a bunch of half photo frames.  This time I got a chance to take some dramatic photos from the sidewalk and from the Maid of the Mist. Niagara_falls

The ride home was a long one, broken up with a stop in Syracuse again for some Dinosaur Barbecue, which was worth the hassle of getting there.  We got home late, but it was a great trip with a lot of great memories – we plan on going next year.  You know, when the Sox clinch the pennant next year….


Contrary to a previous post, there is some good human decency left.  Last week, I misplaced my wallet on the way to tennis (yeah, I know good thing the season is over), which I didn’t discover until almost to the courts.  A thorough search of my car didn’t locate it, so I figured I either left it in my office or possibly dropped it in the parking lot.  Considering my wallet has keycards to get inside a building filled with expensive office equipment, I wanted to go find it.

On the way there, a series of phone calls led to the discovery that someone had actually found my wallet on the side of the road and was returning it.  Apparently while putting everything in my car and putting my handfuls of stuff on the roof of the truck, it had fallen out onto the roof and I drove away with it on there.  Luckily, everything was intact, and nothing but a few bucks and some coupons missing.  I was very fortunate and I’m very grateful that there are some honest, decent people still out there.

Did Fergie Go Down to the Crossroads at Midnight?

Ahh yes, my friends, that is the question at hand:  did Fergie sell her soul for musical success?  How else could you explain the songs "My Humps" and "London Bridge"? 

Its been a while since we’ve had two songs full of such nonsensical innuendo enter the pop charts, never mind by the same artist.  The songwriting leaves much to be desired – "My Humps" has about six different words total, four of which are "My humps, my lumps" that are just repeated over and over again, and yet it sounds like a song. 

The new single from Fergie, her first as a solo artist, is "London Bridge" and its one of those songs that sounds sexy, but then you think about it and its really… well… stupid.  "Every time you come around, my London bridge wanna go down."  Are we to understand that Fergie has had bridge work done?  Or is it a reference to a belt?  To pants?  Its oddly sexual because of the way its sung, but take away the excellent production and instrumentation, and what you have is some pretty lousy 7th grade poetry.

What makes me question the whole soul-devil exchange thing is that both songs are freakishly catchy.  Hear about 10 seconds of "London Bridge" and you’ll have it lodged in your head for about 48 hours.  Unless you hear "My Humps" which will displace it and stick in your craw for a similar time frame.

I wonder if anyone has listened to the two songs back-to-back more than once?  I’m imagining that it might result in their brains imploding on itself.

Driving Me Crazy

I’ve been on the road a lot lately, with road trips to Toronto, to go camping, and to Vermont all taking place in the last few weeks.  I also had three concerts in one week and I’ve come to conclusion that the human race is dangerously close to losing all remaining common decency.  A few categories of people who get on my nerves:

The people who think that are apparently just too good to wait for any sort of traffic at all.  Main offenders include those who cut off others who have been waiting to get out of a parking lot, or the a-hole who speeds down the the lane of a highway that is closed, and then tries to sneak in ahead of everyone else who has pushed over well before the lane closure.  Anyone who does this should have their tires slashed and windshield smashed by the people he cut off.  What these people have to realize is that it only gets them wherever they are going about 30 seconds faster and they are perpetuating a problem that makes EVERYONE late in the first place.  If everyone just got in the right lane and kept driving as soon as possible, no one would have to stop to let some jerk in.  We’d be moving – slower than normal, but still moving.

People who don’t move up to the next available gas pump – a few weeks ago, I pulled into a gas station right behind someone  who stopped at the first gas pump.  I saw him look behind him, so I figured he would pull up to the next pump.  He didn’t – he just stopped there, got out and went to the cashier.  I was dumbfounded – but wait… there’s more!  As I’m backing out and start to pull around him, this woman comes whipping around me and takes the spot.  I ended up having to turn around and pull up to a pump on the other side in order to be on the same side as my gas tank.  First class jerkery right there!!!


Last night I was playing tennis, a new favorite hobby of mine, and managed to BADLY pull my right calf muscle.  And when I say "BADLY" I mean "I’m on crutches now after a visit to the emergency room."  I should be off of them in a few days, but let me tell you – it hasn’t even been 24 hours yet and I still technically have the full function of my legs, but its made me realize how much people who have to live with crutches go through.  Suddenly every doorway and hallway seems half the size it was before and I try to figure out how to do things without either bending over or moving too much.