Bad Mojo

How could I forget?

I struggled a bit with what to post on Halloween proper. I was afraid the magic was fading a bit. It's been hectic around here, there have been all sorts of obligations and things at the office and early colds/bugs...I wasn't really feeling it.

I know, I know.

Comparing the volumes of words last year to the scant posts this year, it's clear my head wasn't in the Halloween game. It felt like the intangible special air of the season hadn't appeared. But then I got home to my better half's chili and the giant bowl of candy to hand out. Suddenly it clicked. It was last minute but it was there. Spooky tunes on Pandora. Treehouse of Horror. Trick or treaters are coming for the first time! We've waited so long for this (and no more huge lines at bars and paying a cover and getting a cab and all the other adult Halloween misery)!

So I got jazzed here at the last minute.

To celebrate, I'll impart something I had forgotten (thankfully). In a recent post I mentioned how I don't believe in this mumbo jumbo about ghosts and things that go bump in the night. Supporting my steadfast adherence to science is the fact that nothing...paranormal...has ever happened to me.

Until I was house shopping.

My better half and I had looked at probably 30 houses and were growing frustrated. One day while out with our realtors we stopped at a bit of a fixer upper in the west metro area. Decent, but not great neighborhood. The house was in fine shape from the outside. Inside, though, it was...off? I don't know. It's still hard to put a finger on what did it. It had this funny salmon color all over, and I think it had been foreclosed on? Or maybe the owners were renting it out and the people that were there weren't taking care of it. Whatever it was, they weren't taking proper care of it on the inside and everything was kind of slap-dash and in disarray. Seemed like a guy and a little girl, from the toys strewn about. 

As soon as the door had closed behind us something was happening to me. As far as I can recall, no one else felt it. I sure did, though. It felt terrible, like I was drowning, or there was a gas leak and only I was getting the fumes. My head was heavy and throbbing. My eyes hurt and I wanted to lie down and die. My chest felt like it was being crushed. I took maybe five minutes to get my bearings in the house, all the while my better half is imperviously seeing promise. She and the realtors are walking around admiring the kitchen and I practically vomit the phrase "I'm leaving. Now. We're not interested." They were totally perplexed by my sudden change in demeanor, but since I had never exhibited any kind of displeasure on this level, they shrugged and went with it. 

By the time we were in the car and driving away, my head cleared out and I explained what happened. They were a bit surprised but they accepted my reaction with aplomb. My better half was a bit bummed to miss out on what she saw as a great kitchen, even if I felt so horrible. We moved on, they were all cool with it. I'm sure the realtors had seen weirder and worse in their time.

It was so strange. I've never had such a bad feeling, this sense of malevolence or foreboding space. It was as if the house had the strongest bad vibes I'd ever felt. I don't know what to chalk it up to. My religious childhood and paranormal pop culture obsession wants to knee-jerk to call it spirits. My logical mind wants to call it undetected electromagnetics and low-level sub-audible humming. Hey, maybe it was low blood sugar and high stress. I just know there was no way I was going to spend more than five minutes there, let alone buy the place. It gives me the creeps to think about it, so I was glad to put it behind me. Dredging it out for you guys is kind of therapeutic. 

So, there it is. My only spooky deal. Not fun. Like I said, I don't beleive in any of it, which when considering how it felt, is just fine with me. I'll stick with cartoon skeletons and candy and the Monster Mash. Werewolf Barmitzvahs and all that. No real haunts, just real thrills. 


Inn & Out

Oh, right.


It's been October all month, hasn't it? It has. Where have I been? I don't know. Stuff gets busy, I guess. I was looking back at last October's posts and I was not only reliable but down right prolific. It was super fun, if I recall, but also super busy. I don't know how I got all that done. Must not have owned a house at the time. Yeah, that's gotta be it. I'm out raking and running when I have daylight now, instead of bumming around the city. This time last year I was looking eagerly, if optimistically to the idea of eventually having trick or treaters. That is a thing that looks to definitely be happening this year. I am, in a word, jazzed. Like, drum solo jazzed. 

But I digress.

I was looking back on what I was posting and what I wanted to get to and realized what I wanted to put out there this year. I don't have some crazy gimmick or overlooked gem from the past. Nah, I'm switching it up this time around. What I'm saying is there is a great flick that came out this last year that deserves all the love it can get. Something modern? How novel! So take a look at The Innkeepers...
Released in 2011, The Innkeepers is a low budget slow-burn of a creeper from up and coming horror director Ti West. Starring Sara Paxton and Pat Healy as titular innkeepers Claire and Luke, the flick shows a surprising amount of heart for a modern day haunting tale. Claire and Luke are the last remaining employees in a sleepy little inn that's set to close in a few days. While the last guest check in, they decide to step up their paranormal investigations of what they are sure must be a haunted locale. Needless to say, something goes bump in the night. 
Having only heard good things about this movie on Doug Loves Movies (from host Doug Benson and multiple guests), I have to say I really enjoyed it. It has more heart and character than so many movies that are touted as horror or suspense tales these days. It doesn't wallop you with gore or unrelenting terror. It's a slow, suspenseful build that will often have you wondering if anything is going to happen. Oddly enough, that comes to be a positive rather than a boring flaw. When things come to a boil they really jolt you. The quiet moments allow for personality to foster. You get a better sense of identity from the characters. In a way the visual aesthetic combined with the jaunty soundtrack brought to mind fond recollections of Ghostbusters. I'm sure it was intentional but it was a great way to call back on something that's rarely touched upon by so many imitators.
Halloween is almost here. Don't get stupid with gore, get scared with a modest charmer. It's really a strong movie that comes in a small package. Think outside the box and check out this under-the-radar thriller. It's still on Netflix, to boot. Do it. Do it do it do it.


Night Moves

So this'll be an experiment.

I don't know how this is going to work, but I'm going to try dictating a post to see how handy Siri actually is. I'm on the drive home from the office and Halloween is approaching so I thought I would impart something freaky that happened about eight years ago. 

Nothing paranormal has ever happened to me but there was one particular time where my veins ran cold. I was living with my sophomore year roommate in college. While we shared an apartment and before we moved in we knew each other well, you only really get to know somebody until you start to live with them. He was a very nice guy and my closest friend but I had no idea until we signed the lease that he suffered from night terrors. He kind of played it off and made seem like it wouldn't be a problem and that it was fairly rare. I had no background in sleep disorders so it all seemed fairly innocuous. I figured it couldn't be any worse than what I dealt with in the dorms. However he told me that sometimes he would wake up and not know where he was, and that if it happened I should keep my distance and CAREFULLY try to wake him up. No approaching, no touching and a wide berth.

We shared a room.

It was a one bedroom apartment with a sheet running down the middle of the room, Odd Couple style. It wasn't optimal for a couple of college dudes, but we made it work in our own weird way. It made us like brothers, in a sense. Goofing off on those carefree nights he introduced me to Bill Hicks and we streamed Nova specials and tripped out over String Theory. It was pretty rad.

One, night, though, it was not rad.

It was early in the fall semester and we had only shared the apartment for a few months. I had been out carousing and celebrating the arrival of the new scholastic year, which happened to take the form of a drinking contest. A sober and reliable friend dropped me back off at the apartment. My roommate had a part time job which required he be up early on Sunday. Knowing this, I attempted to make a stealth entrance to our shared abode and began to contentedly munch on some leftovers. I was out of the dorms and living the college dream!

This dream shattered when I was mid-forkful of lo mein noodles. Dead calm in the apartment, I was jolted out of my stupor by the roomie screaming "Hello? Hello?" There was a rustling of bedsheets and feet shuffling in the bedroom. Hearing his panicked voice made my blood turn to ice. It was silence, then screaming.

Thankfully, I could still remember his instructions. I called his name, carefully woke him up. I talked him down, explained where he was, why he was lost in his own home. He got his sense and then his bearings. We shared a shaky laugh. It was a kind of bonding moment. It freaked my business right out, but I was able to sleep. Hey, beer. 

Not much of a pre-Halloween story, but it's something. Right? Right. I'll keep digging. There has to be something spooky in here somewhere.



Haircuts, man.

I just never get comfortable with them.

I've had a full head of hair my whole life. Providence providing, I'll continue to have one for years. As grateful as I am for a full head of hair, I continue to be exacerbated by it. No matter how I get it cut, or how often, it continues to grow and demands attention. I just want something that stays. As in "You - stay. Don't move. Don't go anywhere. No funny business." Instead, I find myself constantly in damage-control. I have to react and adapt and ugh I just don't wanna. Look, the deal is this - I've never really had a haircut I've liked. It's always been just finding one that works for the time and going for it. Every single time I go in for a cut there is NO PLAN whatsoever. It's always as if I surprise myself. "Oh, haircut? Uhhh...try...this? I don't know..." Sure, I've like some more than others, but mostly they've always been terrible and I look back and cringe. Let's look back at my poor choices, shall we?

Baby - doesn't count.

Toddler - here's where the trouble starts. Big side-swept thing that would set the stage for all future mistakes.

Childhood - epic side part that earned the moniker 'schoolie', a word that never looks properly spelled.

Adolescent - adopted a modified Duff. Parted down the middle and shaved(!) underneath the eaves. Gets worse.

Teen Alpha - long duff, down to shoulders. Tons of homophobic insults and ANGST. Loads of ANGST. Awful.

Teen Beta - crew cut. Copious amounts of gel and uptight micromanagement. A marked improvement.

Teen Gamma - emotional crisis results in razor-blade shearing. My head was smoooooth. Looked crazy, oddly good.

Teen Delta - no cut. grew everything out at once. Referred to by friends as a head cut.

College (Initial) - no more hair cuts, for a year. Super easy to deal with: wash, rinse, hat. Done. Awesome.

College (Variable) - series of long/buzz cuts. Blond dyes. Nothing looks right, due to exacerbating obesity.

Post College - pseudo crew. Becomes standard young man's cut. Evolves from fauxhawk into duckbutt/Philip Fry.

Current - greaser. Better half shakes head and calls me hipster. Look like maternal grandfather. Never met him.
You see? 
No matter what I do, it's a reactionary thing. I just wish it could be like a cartoon and I could wake up every day and it would stay the same. Alas, it grows and changes and betrays me. I feel like no other guy obsesses and worries about this like do, but then they're probably not as neurotic as me. 
I can look at this two ways:

One - it's never gonna be solved, and it's never gonna look great. Just deal with it and constantly perform triage. 
Two - lean into the spin. It'll be a fascinating look at back at my narcissism and self-modulation in the 21st century.
Of these two grim options, I'm splitting the difference. I'm going to try to find some illusive, as-of-yet unseen haircut that will arise from trial and error and finally say "Aha! Do this the rest of my life!"
Or until I lose my hair.