Sunday, October 24, 2010

Halloween Movie Recs: Paranormal Activity, One and Two

Wanna See Somethin' Scary? 

You either love scary movies or hate them. I love them. My typical problem with them, is they're usually not scary, or at least they're not scary as advertised. Sixth Sense? Don't try to Shyamalan me. Blair Witch? Oh, I'm so scared. Of twigs.

For Halloween last year, I recommended The Strangers.  It isn't precisely scary -- nothing supernatural or paranormal happens -- it's just a couple in the woods who answer the door to someone they shouldn't. That's the entire plot. The couple is played by Liv Tyler and the guy from Felicity (I think there were two; this is one of them).  When  Liv Tyler asks their uninvited guests (again: not giving anything away here) "why are you doing this?" the answer is: "Because you were home." It isn't my usual kind of scary movie, but I stand by it. It's good.

My type of scary movie is more Paranormal Activity,  which I watched for my birthday with Nick. I am not normally a fan of gimmicks, or low-budget, much less shot-on-video, but I did like the premise of inexplicable things that go bump in the night. We started out the movie with him on one sofa, with one dog, and me on the other, with another dog. I thought that would be fine. About ten minutes in, I gave up and said, "ok, you're gonna have to come over here and hold my hand."

We both have a high, high tolerance for scare-factors, and by the end, we were both whimpering in fear. Success.

I had high hopes for the sequel...and I still do. I just can't judge it properly, because we saw it sitting next to an insane clown family who spent the entire movie talking to the screen, "oh no you ditn't!" and "girrrrrrrrrl, Jesus ought not've let them make this movie." This was accompanied by a lot of screaming, and on at least one occasion, a break to answer a ringing cellphone. "What am I doin? Nuttin'...." (followed by, likely in response to a query about the noise,) "Oh. Yeah. I'm at the Movies."

Was it scary? I always judge people by the way they respond to the guy in the movie who says things like, "don't be ridiculous!" or "there's no such thing as ghosts." Aside from the normal horror movie conventions (that guy's usually the first to meet a terrible gruesome fate), it always irritates me, because in my experience, if one of my otherwise sane, reasonable, non-Addict, non-Drunk friends tells me about something out of the ordinary happening to them, my first response would never be, "oh ho, you must be nuts." (This doesn't apply to my friends who are already known to be nuts, because you always have to take what they say with a grain of salt.)

I know this much from all those childhood years of reading Stephen King. If somebody ever asks you, "Wanna see something scary?" the best-advised answer is always, "No."

So, here's what happened after the movie. And then I'll judge you by what you think of it.

We spent a long evening of prep work in the kitchen, and then my visiting houseguest turned in early, while I sacked out in front of the bigscreen. Before she went up to bed, I told her to close the door to the TV room (it sticks, and it takes a pretty hefty amount of force to open or close it). I pointed this out to her because... well, it was relevant after I watched the first movie. 

About a half hour later, I heard her walk down the stairs (probably to get something from the kitchen I assumed). And a few minutes later, the door to the TV room swung open. "Ha, Ha Sooz," I yelled. "Very funny." (Thinking she was screwing with me, which, admittedly, would've been a little funny.)

But there was no response.

After a few seconds, I got up and wandered out to the kitchen. No sign of her. She was still upstairs. With her bedroom door closed.  She said this morning she'd heard me talking but figured I was probably on the phone or something.

Do I wanna see something scary? Why no. I'd rather not, thanks.


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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An App for That

"Next WEEK? That's the worst thing you can SAY to an early adopter."
--Phil, not getting his iPad the first day on Modern Family

After years of resisting the iPhone, I now have what I've always wanted instead, which is the iPod Touch, an iPhone without the irritation and annoyance of an actual phone. And because it was a birthday present, I have zero guilt about all the features it wastefully duplicates that I already have on my phone, or kindle, or laptop, or camera, or any of the other 417 devices currently quietly humming at me from the surge protector.

For a phone, I still have my BlackBerry. I switched to the Torch  the day it was released, which was, coincidentally, the night the lights really did go out in Georgia as AT and T service went out all over the south, and half of the eastern seaboard. It has the touchscreen I want, with the blackberry keyboard I stubbornly insist on retaining. If you wanted to talk on it (and I don't), it would be like trying to talk on a Labrador Retriever puppy. If I had to estimate the weight, I'd say it's about 17 pounds or so. (Don't get smug iPhoners; yours is at least a cocker spaniel.)

Which is why I love the iPod's skinny and it's light, which is what I will settle for, until I can finally wear a phone on my WRIST like God and Gene Rodenberry and George Jetson always intended.

The important thing is, I can play Scoops on it. (Well, that, and Fruit Ninja...Blame the art department.) I am also hearing a lot about these angry birds, but I suspect they might be above my skill level.

It came along with a nice romantic birthday dinner (lamb chops) and a lengthy address about its many features. Apparently, I can add all of my music to it, and all of his music to it, for example. I refuse to type much on its stupid little electronic keyboard, but I can at least read social media and stay caught up. I just can't say anything, which is probably better. It has a lot of stuff the Torch probably already does, but I don't have to bring a Sherpa along to carry it for me. The present followed months of quizzing about what I might like, where he called on the first day of every month and erroneously wished me a happy birthday (because he can only remember that it is on the first, and that he has a one in 12 shot; this is one of those times where it would be helpful if he just joined facebook for chrissake).

On one of those days of repeat texting, my cousin (who happened to be over hanging blinds) suggested, "why don't you just switch your birthday to January 1st like the racehorses and then we can all keep it straight."

But the birthday app means I'm no longer burdened with even checking into facebook to appear appropriately thoughtful. 

My stepdad immediately fell in love with the maps feature and was trying to figure out a way to look into his brother's window via satellite in New Mexico. 

My mom's response was the usual "find the black lining in any silver cloud approach," eyeing us dismissively. "Yeah. Some present. What is THAT thing going to cost you to run every month?"

There was a temptation to explain wi-fi, but I knew what I was dealing with. When I moved earlier this year, I made the mistake of paying an offhand compliment to the summer Romance who was so diligently and solicitously helping out every hour of the day and night -- "so big, so strong," was I think what I'd said. And her comment was the usual sigh of pained resignation, accompanied by the non-sequitur to end all non-sequiturs, even for her:  "Well.... I just hope he doesn't hit you." I promptly envisioned Frankenstein accidentally squashing the little girl. I'd never make light of domestic violence of course, but even with the many admitted problems I have in forming lasting relationships and attachments, I can honestly say no one has hit me since third grade.

All I know is, I was scanning through a dozen or so of the news apps I'd promptly added, when I ran across this article about how Steve Jobs isn't selling computers at all, what he's selling is PRICING.  And the article is filled with details about how "Decoys explain why Apple often sells each gadget in a pricing series, such as the new iPod Touch's $229, $299, and $399 price points for different storage capacities. You may gladly spend $229 to get a hot media player, thinking it's a deal compared with the highest-priced version and not blink that you could instead buy an iPhone 4 at the lower price of $199 with more features."

Huh. I am happy to report that I had no idea what an iPhone costs, and that it does not bother me at all that it's apparently cheaper than the iPod. It's all Rainman to me (hunnerd dollars? bout a hunnerd dollars?) So I also had no idea what the iPod cost either, but am curious now as to whether I was worth the $200 or $300 model. What I had assumed was that it was something poor people buy because they can't afford the iPad, which I also have no interest in because, A. it doesn't have a keyboard, and B. as far as I know, it doesn't come in pink.

Yeah. Ol' Steve Jobs is gonna have to wake up pritty, pritty early in the morning to outsmart me.

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