Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Return of Son (and Daughter) of the Horror Dad Journal

The Horror Dad Journal will be returning in 2010, ending the extended break it has been on. I'll have to change the subtitle to "Stay-at-Home Dad with a Part-time Job."

My family and I continue to live with my mother. I've been working a low-paying full-time overnight security job for months. The schedule (1 am to 9 am) has made it difficult to spend time with my kids. Luckily, Kristy landed a job with a good hospital out here (with only a week to spare on her unemployment!). So, I am switching back to being a stay-at-home father during the day and will be looking for part-time supplemental income during the evenings. I will also be returning to writing (and thanks to being back in Rochester, possibly even filmmaking again). Unfortunately, we're still saddled with the old house back where we used to live. Hopefully it sells soon so we can finally stop making payments on a place we no longer live in and can move on with our lives.

In the time since I last wrote an entry, Eli has grown immensly in size. He is 98th percentil in weight and 100th percentile in height. He outgrows clothes faster than we can buy them. At 9 months of age, he's weighing 25 pounds and wearing clothing meant for 18-24 months of age. Kyra also began preschool in the fall and is absolutely loving it. She also insisted that we do a zombie walk this year, and even though I wasn't really feeling in the Halloween spirit this year, she got her old man out there and shambling with her and the other undead the night before Halloween. She was a vampire for Halloween itself.

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year. See you again in 2010!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Media Who Cried Flu

During the early stages of reporting about this new swine flu pandemic, I found myself not paying much attention. It seems that every few years now the media is trotting out stories about some new germ or virus that will destroy us all. Remember SARS? Recall the unease over the avian flu? You barely hear about them now. Heck, I rarely hear about AIDS anymore and that actually killed people I knew. Every time I checked the news online, multiple headlines were dealing with the swine flu (CNN had 3-4 swine flu headlines running at the same time at one point). There were news stories about how handshaking might become a thing of the past because now there is SWINE FLU! Swine flu was going to change the way we lived forever.

Even with two young kids to worry about, I found myself disinterested in the swine flu stories and unable to take them seriously. Our news media has cried wolf too many times for me to take them seriously about something like this. They are so quick to spread fearful stories before getting all the facts. Sure enough, a couple of weeks later, news stories come out that the swine flu is no worse than (gasp) the regular plain old flu which kills 36,000 Americans a year. In other words... no need to panic. It's not a good thing, but your world isn't going to turn into Stephen King's The Stand either.

One last gasp of the swine flu story is that it might combine with the avian flu (see story here) I think that we should call the avian/swine flu offspring "flying pig flu." It will at least make it more entertaining when the media is trying to panic its audience.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Sorry about the long pause between blogs. Due to changes at Kristy's job, we are in the process of moving back home to Rochester, NY. Currently the kids and I are living at my mother's house, while Kristy ties up loose ends back in the Ithaca area (packing, getting the house ready for sale). It is great to be back home in Rochester. We just wish the move could have been more planned and less jarring.

I've already managed to secure part-time employment through former employers of mine here in Rochester. I'm still hunting for full-time employment. The change has been stressful for everyone, including my mother. We're grateful for the temporary place to stay while we get our family set-up out here. The first order of business for me was getting Kyra registered for Pre-K. I just barely made the deadline. So hopefully she's able to attend and the classes aren't full already.

It has gotten me thinking about how many films (including horror films) start with the same situation: Kids suddenly finding themselves moving into a relative's home. Luckily for my children, Rochester has fewer vampires than Santa Carla. However, it does have more were-sloths than any other city per capita. Hence the title of my new horror film, The Sloth Boys. With their current careers, I could probably afford to cast Corey Haim and Corey Feldman in it too.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Nightmares and Hallucinations

Kyra woke up just a bit ago from a nightmare. She had a bad dream in which she was being chased by Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons. It is odd how most of her bad dreams seem to be caused by animation. She used to regularly have nightmares about Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go.

We recently discovered that, like her father, Kyra has sleep hallucinations. Early last week, she woke up shrieking because her bed was covered in insects only she could see. At least she isn't sleep-walking like my brother and I did when we were young. I've read up on night terrors, hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations and sleep paralysis. None of them really seem to fit what my daughter and I experience. The experience is not always a frightening one. In all but one instance I've been able to move freely and talk while having the hallucinations. They also happen in the middle of my sleep cycle rather than at the beginning or end as with hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations. I've experienced both of those (mainly the former) and they really don't compare with the hallucinations I get in the middle of the night.

As a child, I would wake to find "ghosts" in my room. I could tell that I was no longer sleeping and felt awake, only there would be things in my room that shouldn't have been. An example: One night at age eight I woke up to see a man standing alongside my bed, staring out my window. The man, who didn't seem to notice me, was completely the same shad of white, from his hair to his skin to his clothes; the details of his appearance were black lines as if the man had been drawn on paper. He stood between my bed and my brother's crib. Frightened, I pulled the covers over my head so that he couldn't see me. I managed to fall back to sleep. Later, I awoke, suffocating under my blankets. I dared a peek out from under the bed clothes, only to see that the man had been replaced with a woman who was completely black with white lines, almost like a film negative. She was hanging by a noose in the same spot. As I stared in horror, she rotated on her creaking rope, so that she faced toward me. Her face was swollen and her tongue protruded from her mouth. I dove back under my covers and did not emerge until there was sunlight. It didn't help that I'd never heard of sleep hallucinations and was raised by a mother who was convinced that I was seeing actual ghosts... just like she did.

In my early 20s I terrified my ex-wife one night when I hallucinated a wraith in our bedroom that was trying to get her. She woke up to find me over her prone body, wrestling with something she could not see. The "wraith" evaporated in moments. It was the first time I began to get a clue about what was really happening. The wraith had been a dead ringer for the ones in Patrick Swayze flick Ghost that I'd watched earlier that week on cable. I was able to get back to sleep, but she spent the rest of the night awake and scared that something supernatural was coming to get her. It is the only instance where a nightmare I had caused someone else more fear than me.

Over time my hallucinations have changed to primarily be animals. I've woken up to a tarantula tickling my lip and to feel water dripping on my head, only to look up and see that the water was dripping from a dead rat that is now plunging toward my face. Those times caused me to throw back my blankets, startling our cats. Kristy has adjusted pretty well to it over the years, and carries on conversations with me while in this waking-sleep state. Once she woke to me telling her not to move, because I could see a cobra coiled between us, swaying its hooded head back and forth. She held a conversation with me during one of the few non-threatening hallucinations once. I was sitting up and staring over the edge of the bed at a glowing starfish that was crawling around the floor, playing with my sneakers and probing at the clothes laying next to the bed. I'd seen the movie Minority Report earlier that day. The star fish resembled one of the little robots that scurry about in that film.

I explained the hallucination thing to Kyra as best I could. She's still a bit too young to fully grasp the concept, but at least she's not going to spend decades thinking that a trick of the mind passed down through genetics is something supernatural and scary like I did for far too long.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Ice Cream Horror

Eli had his second doctors appointment earlier this week. He'd gained two inches and more than two pounds since his appointment two weeks earlier. He's growing like the chicken heart from that old radio play.

We recently bought Kyra a novelty ice cream treat that she picked out for herself. It was supposed to look like Spongebob, but instead we revealed a monstrosity upon opening the ice cream wrapper. It is the first time ice cream has given me chills without eating it. Kyra was brave enough to eat it though. I took a picture first. Is it just me, or is this thing just evil looking?

Kyra didn't care for the gumball eyes. She chewed them briefly and then spat out a dark blue goo with tiny hard gum chunks into the bowl we had to catch the icecream drips.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

And Now the Screaming Starts!

I found it humorously ironic that while Kristy was in labor with Eli our Tivo recorded a movie titled And Now the Screaming Starts!

I finally got around to watching it. The film was released in 1973. It stars both Peter Cushing and Patrick Magee. Magee is one of those underrated actors of yesteryear I love to see in the cast of old films. I was also initially excited to see that this was an Amicus film. One of my favorite Patrick Magee performances was in Amicus's Tales from the Crypt (1972). In that film he had deliciously creepy role as a vengeful blind man. This time around, both Magee and Cushing aren't given a lot to work with. Magee is in the first half of the film and is gone shortly after Cushing's character arrives in the second half.

And Now the Screaming Starts! isn't great but it is entertaining. The movie (which is set in the 19th Century) tells the tale of a young married couple suffering from an old curse placed on the groom's family. The Bride and the family's servants find themselves being assaulted by a spectral severed hand and an eyeless phantom with a bloody stump at the end of one arm. Some of the FX is pretty remarkable for the time period, and the remaining FX is charmingly cheap and cheesy. The makeup on the ghost was well done, but unfortunately the actor in the role kept his wrist on the stump arm flopped down while his arm is pointed up. Since the hand was supposed to be cut off below the wrist, apparently the ghost must have had an extra joint in his arm.

If the thought of ghostly severed hands, over-flowing bodices and screaming servants meeting unfortunate ends appeals to you, AMC will be airing the movie again in early May.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Heeere's Eli!


Elijah was born at 11:04 pm on Friday, March 27. He shares his birthday with his uncle Jason. Elijah was 21 inches long and weighed 8 lbs, 12 ozs at birth. He has big feet with long monkey-like toes that he can grasp fingers with. He's a pretty mellow little guy and loves to be held so much that the nurses nicknamed him "cuddlebug."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Everyone Out of the Pool

The baby is now six days overdue. We met with the midwife today and decided that if Kristy doesn't go into labor today or tonight, we'll be heading in to the hospital early tomorrow morning to begin inducing labor. Tomorrow also happens to be my brother-in-law Jason's birthday, so it appears that Elijah will be sharing his birthday with a relative.

For news on the birth tomorrow your best bet is to check the Dark Destinations blog. It is likely that Casey will be making a post there to let people know the news at some point tomorrow. Otherwise, I'll be posting details when we get back from the hospital and I find time to write again.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

...and Still Waiting...

Kristy is now five days overdue with the baby. We get phone calls, emails and instant messages on a continuous basis asking if the baby has arrived yet. This morning, my father-in-law called and asked if anything was "going to happen in the next couple of hours" because he needed to go out and run errands. I told him that as far as we knew nothing was happening.

My mother has been staying with us the past two weeks to help out. She took Kyra to a local playgroup this morning while Kristy and I stayed home. When they returned Kyra had a funny conversation with Kristy. Kristy mentioned to Kyra that she'd taken a shower. Kyra asked if it was a "baby shower." Kristy told her that it had been a regular shower. Kyra replied, "Every time you take a shower with the baby inside you, it's a baby shower.”

Last week I bought a new Duncan Butterfly yo-yo and have been playing around with it. Back when I was in the Air Force I got into the yo-yo habit. It was something I used to do to pass the time while waiting to service aircraft. It is sort of like pacing, only it annoys people less and is healthier than smoking. It's been a while since I carried a yo-yo on me like some folks carry a pack of cigarettes. I passed my old worn yo-yo on to Kyra to play with. She likes to drag it around on the floor. So she has part of "walking the dog" down.

Kristy has an appointment with her mid-wife tomorrow. Hopefully we'll be discussing an inducement plan in case Elijah keeps hitting his snooze button.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Haunting in Connecticut

We're still waiting on Elijah over here. He's hitting the snooze button inside the womb.

Next week The Haunting in Connecticut film hits theaters. The movie is inspired by real life events. Casey Hopkins and I just wrote a long article on the subject. Click here to check it out.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

If She Had Been a Ninja...

This morning, when I went to wake Kyra up, I saw a Kyra-sized lump under her blankets. As I reached out to the lump to wake her up, Kyra called out from behind me. She was hiding underneath of her brother's crib. She'd taken a pillow under there and slept there in her makeshift shelter all night. She fooled me, so I'm sure she also fooled the closet monsters.

Lucky for me, Kyra isn't a ninja. I so would have wound up with a blowdart in the back of my neck had she been.

Reminder to self: Don't get Kyra blowguns or shuriken for her birthday.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Funeral, Angering Prison Guards and Still Waiting for the Baby

We made it to the funeral service and back home without going into labor.

Kyra has been having a tough time with Grandma Frieda's death. She seemed not to be affected much by the news at first, but that night she started crying at bedtime. She said she was crying about an old stuffed animal of hers (named "Boo Bear") that she had placed in the crib for her brother many weeks back. She was suddenly worried she was never going to see Boo Bear again. We had a talk and what was really bothering her quickly became apparent - knowledge of what had happened with Grandma Frieda had sunk in.

We've had a few talks about Frieda and the grief that Kyra is feeling. She seems to be dealing pretty well with it overall. Kyra made cards for Frieda by cutting and decorating construction paper, writing the words "Kyra", "Mom", "Dad" and "Nana" on the pieces and gluing googly eyes to them. This morning we placed Kyra's cards in Frieda's coffin along with the photos of Frieda's cats and great grandchildren that had been placed there by other relatives. The service was well done and now Frieda is back with her husband Bob, who passed away a couple of years back. When our son is born, we're giving him the middle name Robert in honor of Bob.

On the way home we passed by the prison that had once held Amy Fisher. Prison articles are popular for Dark Destinations (because there are usually a ton of stories with each one), so I pulled over across the road from it and snapped a few photos. I immediately had a corrections officer pulling alongside me in a big blue truck and telling me to "Git!"

I understand prison guards having concerns, but there are no signs posted condemning photography or stopping along the road. It is a residential road. In fact, we were parked right in front of the house my wife lived in as a toddler right across from the prison. I'm aware of my photography rights and was well within them with what I was doing. However, I'd already gotten enough shots and am not in the habit of arguing with surly liver-spotted prison guards (especially when I have a woman in the car who could go into labor at any time). We mosied along and had an otherwise uneventful trip home.

Now we should be staying put at home until Eljah decides to be born finally.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Any Time Now...

Kristy is due on the 20th. We're all anxious for the baby to make his appearance. My mother has come to stay with us for a little while in order to watch Kyra and help out.

Kristy's grandmother passed away last night. It sucks. Frieda was a cool lady and we'll miss her.
We're going to the funeral in a couple days. I'm really hoping that Kristy doesn't go into labor while we're nearly four hours away from home... or worse while I'm driving in the middle of nowhere between the two locations. Ugh!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Growing Pains

Kyra definitely seems on the track to becoming a tall person. She's taller than most kids her age and continually suffers from growing pains around her knees. We can usually tell which nights she will have growing pains as her appetite is usually voracious in the day leading up to it. She'll suddenly transform from her usual slow-eating goofing around meal time habits to devouring everything like a piranha and asking for more. We've taken to giving her pre-emptive strikes of Tylenol just before bed on nights such as that. It decreases the number of times she wakes up crying in pain.

I remember my own mother using Bengay ointment to try to calm my own growing pains as a child. Kyra's the type of kid who would somehow find a way to get the ointment into her eyes even if she's zipped into footy pajamas with a padlock on the zipper. My wife's grandmother stated that her mother used rubbing alcohol on her legs to soothe growing pains. I don't see how that would help. It seems like that would only have cooling and disinfecting effects. It left me curious as to what other means people have come up with for helping kids who are going through growing pains. Anyone have any homeopathic (or otherwise) means of reducing growing pains?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Happy 50th Birthday to House on Haunted Hill

The William Castle classic House on Haunted Hill turns 50-years-old today. The William Castle film holds a special place in my heart. It is the first horror film I can recall watching. I was 4-5 years old when I caught it as a Saturday afternoon Creature Feature on TV. Along with episodes of Kolchak: The Night Stalker and Scooby Doo it helped shape my early love for all thing horror.

The movie stars Vincent Price as Frederick Loren a millionaire who throws a creepy party for his wife. Frederick and his wife Annabelle are having marital difficulties of the murderous sort. The two invite a group of people, some of whom are strangers, to spend the night in a mansion that is reputedly haunted. Each guest will be given $10,000 if they last through the night. Seven people have died in gruesome murders throughout the house's history and their spirits are said to linger within its walls. Will one of the guests become the eighth ghost?

Ultimately, however the ghosts take a backseat to the real monsters of the tale, Frederick and Annabelle. If you've ever been to a party where the hosts aren't getting along with each other, you may identify with this film which takes that idea to the extreme. Jealousy and greed are far more dangerous than the supernatural in this tale.

Kyra and I will be popping some popcorn later and will sit down to watch House on Haunted Hill. She's seen it already and gets a kick out of it just like I did (and still do).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Repo!: The Genetic Opera

Last week saw the DVD release of the film Repo! The Genetic Opera. The film has been getting lots of buzz on horror message boards and is supposedly well on its way to cult status. Last Friday I was out clubbing and the DJ was silently projecting the movie on a wall along the dance-floor while playing other music. What I saw was very visually interesting, so I decided to check out the film for myself.

I watched it this week and apparently I was better off watching the movie without its own sound. It was far far better as just a visual as other peoples' music was played over it. Repo! is a rock opera with the stress being on opera rather than on rock. The entire film is sung with no regular dialogue. Often the varying singing styles and lyrics crash against each other during the scenes. The music is weak and even at its best moments reaches only mediocre levels.

The casting for the film is interesting and surreal. Seeing Paul (Goodfellas) Sorvino, Bill (The Devil's Rejects) Moseley, Nivek Ogre (of the band Skinny Puppy), Anthony (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) Stewart Head, Alexa (Spy Kids) Vega and Paris (Isn't her 15 minutes up yet?) Hilton singing together. Add in that all of them are dressed like models for Hot Topic and the amount of blood and gore used in the movie and you have a pretty weird spectacle. It is pretty sad when there is an excellent vocalist like Anthony Stewart Head in the cast and even his songs are lackluster at best.

My friend John Dedeke described the visual look of the film as being a cross between Moulin Rouge and Blade Runner. This is pretty accurate. I'd say that there is a dash of Tim Burton, The Crow and Interview with a Vampire in the look as well. Overall, the art and set design (and some of the costume and makeup as well) are the only real success in the movie. This should be no surprise since the film comes from Twisted Pictures. This is the company that gave us the silly, increasingly incomprehensible and dull Saw movies. These are people who have consistently shown strength in their style and weakness in plot.

One of the other things that bothered me while watching the movie was its use of comic panels to tell flashbacks and other aspects of the story. The comic panels were slick-looking but repeatedly told stories that were told all over again through song and performances by live actors immediately following the comics. It is pointlessly redundant and leads to a continuously boring feeling of deja vu.

I've been hearing comparisons between Repo! The Genetic Opera and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I just don't see Repo developing the following that Rocky has. Rocky at least had some catchy songs. If any recent musical stands a chance of developing a Rocky Horror-type following it will be Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Dr. Horrible had to have had a far lower budget than Repo, yet it is far more watchable (and listenable).

If you want to watch a musical with some blood, check out Snuffed! The Musical. It's only 8 minutes in length, has me in a bit part as the forgotten Baldwin brother, and despite being created completely in under 48 hours with no budget and a cast that mostly hasn't been musically trained (and didn't even know they were making a musical until hours before filming began)... it manages to have more memorable songs than Repo! The Genetic Opera.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Various Kyra Pictures Taken During the Holidays

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.