Friday, October 28, 2005

Things to do if you appreciate hauntings.

- So a glut of scary movies aimed at the Halloween-hungry audience hit theaters this weekend, and I think we should all be a little grateful that the ones were getting are, at least, a little clever. The one most of you will probably see, and probably should see, is SAW II, the sequel to last year's sick, bloody, twisted yet entertaining puzzler SAW (Incidentally, SAW is the movie my redneck stepfather said was the best movie he'd seen in ages). SAW II offers more bizarre, deadly contraptions and Donnie Wahlberg , Shawnee Smith and 7TH HEAVEN's Beverley Mitchell leading a larger cast than the first movie. God, I hope Lucy Camden and the New Kid on the Block both die.

- HELLBENT, the gay slasher movie that I've mentioned here before, also opens at the Landmark this weekend. In this one, a bunch of muscled queens in West Hollywood get beheaded by a gym-bodied serial killer. Dylan Fergus, who plays PASSIONS' clueless, expressionless and shirtless Noah, leads the cast. To its credit, the knife-in-the-eye poster looks cool. But HELLBENT's groundbreaking because, in it, all the people having hot sex and getting killed are gay. This is progress?
- My friend Larry, in honor of our friend David's birthday every Halloween, hosts an elaborate, fantastic wine-and-cheese dinner, and it's set for Saturday. During one of the seven courses, I may read my latest attempt at short story, "Vehicles Aren't Meant to Sit Still," even though the critique I received in my writing class makes me wary and gives me pause. I always have fun at the wine-and-cheese dinner. Instead of silly costumes, we get an excuse to dress up, be rather pretentious, have great conversation, see interesting friends and sample some really good food.
- The final performances of SOMETHING WICKED at the Center for Puppetry Arts are this weekend, and the special, costumed Halloween performance occurs at 11 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are still available, and the people at the Center tell me that it's going to be fantastic.

- Now, an anecdote. When I was a child, my mom and stepfather twice were responsible for building some bloody, scary haunted houses in Buford, my hometown. One of them was built for a Halloween party in our basement when I was in the fifth grade. In that one, my mother got dressed as a blood-soaked vampire and my stepfather dressed as Freddy Krueger, and they attacked many of the friends who went down into my basement. It was great fun. (As a result, there was a headless woman in a plywood coffin in my basement for a couple years.) Another of my parents' haunted houses was a hit of the Buford Fall Festival one year. While the houses were "in operation" with the smoke machines and the ghosts that jump out at you, I didn't visit my parents' haunted houses. I'm a scaredy-cat when it comes to those places. Thus, I've never been to Atlanta's premier haunted house attraction, Netherworld, though I've heard good things about it and frequently read over its billboard from the freeway. Every year, I consider going. Every year, I never go. I am not a haunted house person. As I said, there was a papier-mache headless corpse in my basement for years.
- If you prefer your haunted places to be legitimately haunted, you should go on a tour of the Historic Oakland Cemetery in Grant Park this weekend. There'll be both ghost stories and dead governors there.

- I don't do costumes for Halloween, either. The year of my parents' haunted house party, for instance, I dressed as Fred Astaire. I wore a suit, a mask and a glittery silver top hat, and I carried a cane with me and pretended to dance a lot. (There are photos in my fifth grade yearbook, if you don't believe me.) For every college costume party I attended, I wore my usual, dressier clothes with a cardigan sweater and told people that I was Chandler from FRIENDS. If you do costumes, though, you should try Junkman's Daughter. Their costumes are usually good.
- Joan Didion's THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING, which has been winning awards and selling well in the bookstore, and the Augusten Burroughs essay compilation MAGICAL THINKING have led me to wonder: What in the hell is magical thinking? Is magical thinking something that only GOB from ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT and David Copperfield can do?

- I want to see SHOPGIRL. I want to see it really bad, not just because the reviews have been solid or because Claire Danes and Steve Martin are in it. I want to see SHOPGIRL because it seems like the sort of romance that the decidedly non-romantic sort would make. I'm a love pessimist. I don't think I could tell a good love story anymore. And I think this might be my kind of love story.
- Even though I don't like haunted houses and don't wear costumes, Halloween is always one of my favorite holidays because, if you can believe this, strange and wonderful things happen to me on Halloween. One Halloween during high school, my friend Vic disappeared on me in the middle of the mall, and I became convinced that I was being chased by a man in a devil suit. The time I got stuck in a McDonald's during a blackout was Halloween. When I was thinking of dating Vic in college, for instance, the first time that we really kissed each other and understood what it all meant was on Halloween. The time I got into a car accident in the middle of a rainstorm and then ended up making out with a drag queen, that was Halloween. The time that horrible Vietnamese colorist made my hair look like Vanilla Ice was on Halloween. Halloween's not scary at all. The day just throws me for a loop or just puts a strange twist on my usual story. So, for this week's question, what's your favorite Halloween memory? To be traditional, what was the best costume you ever wore? What's the strangest thing that ever happened to you on Halloween?

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