Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains

Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains (2019)

(No, it’s not that kind of movie)

Jacob Anders ReviewsVirgin Cheerleaders in Chains – Nov 13, 2019

This is how you do a movie review. The film he is reviewing is the one that I felt I had to write a Movie Rating for Dummies post for just to help the entertainment challenged understand that if you sat through the entire movie, it’s probably at least a three star experience. This guy gets it, and he understands how to mix praise with criticism.

Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains is better than three stars, as Jacob Anders does a much better job of explaining than I can. He’s nicer to the movie than I was, and he doesn’t have to sleep next to the producer of the film knowing she could kill him in his sleep if he trashes her movie.

Which I wouldn’t do to this movie anyway because it is hands down the best made movie she’s worked on. The credit goes to the writer, the director, the cast and crew, all of whom would never have found each other without the producer, the woman I sleep next to. So she gets credit too, even if she isn’t one of the named credits in the movie. The editing job is superb, the acting is excellent, the script won awards. It’s a great movie. Go see it.

I’m simply not a person who watches horror films and enjoys them. I’m still haunted by The Ring after watching it more than a decade ago. I laughed at and was traumatized by Scream when it came out. Halloween still gives me goosebumps, and I’m a certified John Carpenter fan. Don’t ask my opinion on horror films if you want more out of me than it’s not my kind of movie. I’m more at home with dry, intense dramas than I am with action and horror.

This movie scared me, too. So if you like scary movies, go see it. You’ll enjoy it. It is currently streaming on Vimeo (below) and Amazon (linked in the heading)

vimeo.com

Thriller on Halloween

Michael Jackson – Thriller (Official Video) I wish he hadn’t put a disclaimer on this.

Happy Birthday, Son!

A video from the year after I graduated high school, back in the time when Michael Jackson was just a really good dancer and singer. One of two albums of his that I bought and cherished, after listening to his and his families music all through my childhood.

Trick or Treat!

I spent the night last night (Halloween) reminding the children I was shepherding that they had to say “Trick or Treat” if they wanted a treat. While doing this I stumbled across more than a few houses with front porch lights on and nobody home to answer the door.

Back in the day we would have taken that as an invitation to be tricked, a job that we came equipped to do while out trick or treating on Halloween. We carried wax or soap for the windows. Toilet paper for the trees. Some of the more vicious pranks (which I never pulled myself) involved bags of dogshit being lit on fire on porches for the owners to find and attempt to stomp out when discovered.

My uncle used to tell me stories of a life size dummy that he created and used as a prank for many years. He would climb trees with the dummy in tow, and then drop it in front of pedestrians. The best pedestrians to target were the ones carrying groceries, if I remember his stories correctly. The resultant explosion of foodstuffs when the bags were hurled into the air were always good for a laugh. He would also drag it behind his car or prop it up in doorways to fall in on the homeowner when they answered the door.

Life was more fun then.

I was contemplating these memories when I came across one home with all the exterior lights on and a large notice pinned to the door:

We do not celebrate Halloween, and we do not have any candy. Do not ring our doorbell.

On the one hand I thought Idiot, just leave your lights off, but on the other hand I was contemplating the reaction that would have occurred had previous rules of conduct concerning Halloween been inflicted upon them.

I’m contemplating how to deal with this next year. I think I will make up signs of my own to pin to the doors of the spoil sports who leave their lights on when they have no intention to participate in Halloween festivities. It’ll go something like this:

Attention:

This is your Trick for failure to Treat.
Consider yourself properly TP’d and your windows soaped.
And…
You are standing in a burning bag of dogshit.

Happy Halloween!

I’ll probably get myself thrown in jail. Terroristic threats or something, I’m sure. It’s all in the name of good fun, right?

Zombie Jesus

Just like every Christmas, a man goes out in his yard and builds a temporary lean-to under which he sets up figures gathered around a birth. However, this Christmas in a small Ohio town, the nativity scene that the nameless man constructed was a little different from most. The neighbors promptly had a conniption fit that spread to the city hall, the police department and code enforcement.

I personally think this is the best nativity scene ever. It perfectly captures the spirit of rising from the dead. In truth, the zombie baby Jesus should be a full-sized zombie Jesus, but I want to give the guy an A for effort. Anyone who dies and then comes back to life is by definition a zombie.

No religion is above mockery or question. If Muhammad was one of the three wise men present at this zombie birth, the reaction from Muslims would be only slightly harsher than the threats that this man has received after unveiling his zombie nativity. Those who are so insecure in their belief that they can’t abide mockery should probably review their own beliefs rather than call for the censorship of others.

The nativity scene is on his property, just like all the other religious displays should be. I have no more problem with this than I do with the rest of the solstice silliness. Less of a problem than the rest of it, because he built the display with his own time and money and all I have to do to avoid it is not drive down his street. His immediate neighbors are the only ones who should be offended because they have to see it each time they leave their houses. They have already secured the only possible recourse, a promise to take the display down immediately following Christmas. Those who are offended will have to settle for that.


It looks like the neighbors were not happy with the cities first response to the zombie nativity, the one requiring him to remove the display promptly after the season ends. I read a few comments from code officials citing fines that have been levied on the property owner for each day the display remains up. The fines were probably for the structure which houses the scene. I could see requiring a permit to construct a semi-permanent structure on his property. Still, I have to wonder how many other nativity scenes in the city are being fined for not getting permits for their structures? Unless there is a Satanist nativity I’d imagine the number would be ’round about none of them.

The city codes are the only codes which apply here, contrary to the arguments offered by others. The law of god is meaningless since there is no way to prove what god would really want as a law concerning commemorations of the birth of his son spawned during his carnal relations with a poor Jewish girl. That particular set of guidelines was not included in the Bible.

None of the ancient religions are free of contradiction on any subject, making their laws useless as meaningful guides to good behavior without accessing our own conscience in order to make judgements. This means that everyone who thinks they know their god’s law really only knows their subjective interpretation of hearsay written down a thousand years ago or more and imperfectly translated multiple times since then. Interpreting god’s law is the world’s longest game of telephone, with the meaning of life supposedly buried somewhere in 2,000 years of noise. We’d be better off accessing our own moral compass directly than attempting to make sense of god’s law.

The value of religion itself is open to question in light of what we have learned about the universe by trying to understand it directly, not interpret it through the traditions handed down by those who came before us.

I treasure my Pastafarianism because it shows just how silly all religions are; and it does this because it was established to be as silly as possible and still fall under the banner of religion. May the blessings of his noodly appendages be upon you.

Question religion. All religions. Freedom is meaningless without the freedom to question.

facebook, facebook, archive.org

Afterword

The charges were filed and dropped. The nativity scene has been erected annually on the same man’s lawn for several years. The last time it made the news was in 2017, when it was vandalized. My outrage at his being targeted by his neighbors initially has been shown to be not much more than my own bias showing. When you publicly mock someone’s beliefs like this, you should expect a little pushback. In the same way, and to the same proportion, as the religious should expect pushback when they put their religious icons on display in our shared government buildings, and expect that I will not want to do the same. Be prepared for Pirate Santa displays at the state capitol in the near future, if that trend continues.

The website that I saw the article on, shared on Facebook, no longer exists. It was probably just another clickbait mill designed to drive traffic and ad revenue. I’d like to think that all such bottom-feeding ends up being as profitless as publicly mocking another person’s’ beliefs is. We have that right here in the United States, the right to figuratively sacrifice the sacred cows of our neighbors. Having that right doesn’t mean that expressing yourself in this way comes without cost. I think the author on that long-gone clickbait site had the right initial take on the subject. The Nightmare Before Christmas would probably traumatise those poor folks who object to a zombie Jesus nativity.

Paranormal? Ghosts?

I’d like to say upfront that I am not a believer in the paranormal, and I especially do not subscribe to a belief in the supernatural. But having had experiences with what most people refer to as spirits, experiences that I cannot explain, I can’t dismiss the possibility that something exists beyond our ken.

As an example, the Wife’s father could witch water wells. All the farmers in the area aside from his farming partner swore by him. Now, this man was no ignorant Oklahoma farmer. He was a college educated man who served his country in the secret service during WWII. He worked as an extension agent later in life, teaching other farmers in the area how to make their farms produce.  He just also happened to be a water witch. When his farming partner wanted a well dug he refused to rely on that water witch rubbish and hired an engineer to drill his well. Several thousand dollars and several hundred feet later, they hit some rather poor and slow running water that the engineers said was the best they could do. After a few months the man gave up and asked my father in law to try a hand at finding better water, which he did. About 15 feet away and 30 feet down. Better water than could be found on my father-in-law’s own property. I never saw this occur myself, and Dad has been gone several years now, so I have no way of testing the veracity of his claims, and I remain unconvinced that the ideomotor effect is a sufficient explanation for experiences like his.

Most ghost experiences are actually quite normal.  There are documented physical properties of sleeping that lend themselves to the idea of abduction (Sleep Paralysis for one) or can lead you to believe that you see people who aren’t there just as you begin to fall asleep, or immediately upon waking (I have a recurring nightmare lately where I see light patterns that remind me of Threshold. I have no idea why.  They persist into wakefulness, and have to be actively brushed away in order for me to quit seeing them) I’ve had both experiences several times, myself. Once you understand what causes them, they become far less frightening.

The problem with the supernatural or paranormal is that it doesn’t reproduce itself on demand so that your peers can verify the existence of this or that phenomenon. Time and again as I watch some show dealing with these types of stories, I think to myself “well, that could have been faked” or “this is how that chair could have moved”. It’s all too easy to be debunked unless it happens to you, and once it happens, you cannot simply dismiss the very real emotions that the experience generates.  You want the phenomena to be true, as in accepted by your peers as true. Unfortunately no one can understand what it is you experienced, no matter how much they may want to. Experiences like the one I’m about to relate aren’t easy to quantify, to set down in words with meanings others can understand in the way we mean. For myself, I’m left grasping at straws for explanations of things I only imperfectly remember even the next day.


In my years of service in the architectural field, I have spent innumerable nights in the office, working until late in the morning hours, most times all by myself. While I was generally downtown in some not-so-nice areas late at night, I was never really afraid. I’m not a large man but I can run fast, and I do know some basic defense tactics.

When I took a job for a firm whose office was in one of the older buildings downtown, I never really thought much about the history of the place, or the particulars of it’s location, or what an impact that might have on my ability to work the late hours that are generally required of architects, but it had an impact none the less.

I was struck, at first, by how quaint the structure was. Nestled against the side of an old quarry, it was backed by an old carriage house that had been renovated into offices as well. After a few weeks of work I settled into my usual routine of staying late and cranking out the work after everyone else left. Gradually I noticed that everyone else tended to leave earlier than usual in the evening; earlier than usual for an architectural office.

After a week or so, I noticed that the place started to feel less quaint, and more threatening, especially at night. I kept hearing people walking, when I knew I was alone in the building. The sensations of wrongness started to become really disturbing after I traded places with another architect. She wanted to move to the tiny little cramped cubicle that I was in, and was willing to give up a double sized cube space in order to do it. I thought it strange that she would want the cramped space I was in, but jumped at the chance to spread out a bit in a larger space.

Slowly, over the course of the next 12 months, a spiralling series of experiences convinced me that I was either losing my mind, or that there was something wrong with my environment, something I could not explain.

I began to feel like someone was watching me. It wasn’t all the time, that I could have explained. Weirdly enough it was right about 7:30 pm, pretty much every night. I dismissed it at first as having my back to the floor entrance (a dog-leg stair from the upper floor) but I could not figure out why it didn’t bother me until evening time.

There were windows all around, but it didn’t feel like there was anybody outside. No matter how many times I looked, I never did catch anyone peeking through the windows. Peeping would have been hard anyway, technically we were on the second floor above the quarry bottom, but the front entrance was on the floor above and opened onto the original street that bordered the quarry. The window in my cube tended not to reflect any light off of it, almost like it opened onto nothing (the opposing building wall that was no more than 10 feet away always seemed invisible at night) which was a bit disturbing on its own.

I can’t tell you the number of times I heard footsteps on the upper floor, or walking down the stairs, only to investigate and find no one there. Once, with another architect present, we listened as footsteps appeared to walk the length of the upper floor and go right through a wall on their way out to the street.

Then there was the crowding and the touching. I kept feeling someone leaning over the back of my chair, pushing me into the desk. I kept having to consciously push myself away from the keyboard so that my arms would quit cramping. Something kept touching me on the neck, like fingers brushing across my skin.

It got to the point that I would leave as soon as the eyes started watching at 7:30. If I didn’t leave then, and stayed until the presence was in the cube with me, when I attempted to leave I would feel as if I was being pursued. All the lights on in a clearly vacant room, and I’m terrified that there is someone who intends me harm, right behind me. Try as I might, I could not shake the feeling.

It was all I could do to make myself walk calmly up the stairs and let myself out. There was frequently an inexplicable cold spot at the top of the stairs, where the warmest air in the building should have been. As soon as I had exited the building, the feeling would evaporate like a fog. I’m standing on a dark street, next to a vacant lot that was several feet deep in overgrowth; a place where the homeless were known to congregate, and I feel safer there, outside, exposed, than I did in the building.

I began to feel like there were two buildings in the same place at night. One was finished in the clear varnished oak and carpet that I was familiar with; the other was painted dark, cut into small rooms with old fashioned panel doors. Dingy little apartments. I can’t explain why I began to see this juxtaposition in space, I can only say that I did.

Once, when I heard a loud thump on the floor behind me, I spun around to find, just for a second, someone or something standing behind me. There and then gone again. I caught the same figure out of the corner of my eye a few more times after that. Ragged coat. Hat pulled low. Dirty worn-out boots. Watching a door in the dark hallway. Waiting for someone. Waiting for someone with violence in his heart.


I wish I could write a fitting climax to the story, but I can’t. I was let go from the firm not too long after that time, and I haven’t had any urge to go back.

I would say that this was the god’s honest truth but I don’t believe in god, either. It is the truth, exactly as I remember it. I didn’t believe in ghosts. I don’t know what I believe now, but I know that I can’t explain what happened in that building in the evenings. I just know that I wouldn’t stay late at work in that place again, not even if you paid me.

I could go on about the hours spent trying to find disappearing farm houses on The Wife’s family property, a place we looked for several times and never could find in the same place twice. Or I could tell you about the time we spent exploring weird old graveyards across Texas. Or the abandoned courthouses and churches we’ve stumbled across in rural Texas and Oklahoma. Or maybe even the time The Wife and I saw a UFO streak away at impossible speed. Suffice it to say that while my ghost encounter was single-handedly the weirdest thing I’ve ever experienced, it isn’t the only inexplicable thing in my life.  But even with all that, the anecdotal evidence itself is not enough for me to insist on supernatural explanations, paranormal explanations.  I simply don’t have an explanation.  Perhaps the weirdest part of all is, the lack of explanation doesn’t bother me.


Editor’s note. This post was re-edited from this previous post on the subject.  So many of my opinions from that time have changed, I feel I cannot direct someone to that post and have them understand what it is I’m trying to communicate.

This was about the same time that I went out to Antone’s with my brother to see the Boys play. After the show we drove over to his hotel where he and the Boys would load up from and head back out on the road the next day. When he realized I’d have to walk back to the office, ten blocks away at 3:00 am, a walk straight through downtown Austin, he insisted I had to have a cab ride rather than walk. I told him I would call one just so he’d let me leave, but I walked the ten blocks anyway. Downtown Austin was my town, and outside on the street was safer than inside my office as far as I was concerned. I remember looking at the building from the car and deciding that I didn’t need to check anything before driving home. I refused to even go up on the porch and check that I locked the doors when I left the first time. The place scared me that much at night.

A day… That won’t be my son’s birthday!

We had originally been told that this would be pumpkin boy’s birthday. It may have been this information that inspired the early arrival, at least according to The Wife. Not having to share a day with Pearl Harbor day. Like my father’s beef with being born on September 11th these days. It’s probably better to be born on Halloween, if you look at it in hindsight.

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A Pumpkin Child

7 years ago today, I was awoken early on a Saturday morning, at about 8 (that’s early for me) To the sound of my wife crying “My water broke!”

It’s funny looking back on it now. Begging friends to watch our 7 year old daughter (but Mom! what about Halloween?!) Rushing to the hospital in a mad panic. Worrying that the baby would be too early. The disgusted look on the Neonatal doctor’s face when there wasn’t anything for him to do after all. The argument between the delivering doctor and the Neonatal specialist on just how early our son was (“He’s not 6 weeks early!” “Yes, he is!”) The thankfulness on both his mother’s and my part that there wasn’t anything for the specialist to do.

The Wife being bound and determined to get out of that hospital as soon as she could walk again. It all tickles me to this day.

This one’s for you son (and you too Hun) Happy Birthday.