Monday, November 5, 2012

60 Links for Writer's Resources

I found this amazing list at Galleycat, one of my favorite writing sites and just had to pass it along. Even if you’re NOT do Nanowrimo, the links here are terrifically useful and fun.

30 National Novel Writing Month Tips from 2012

Saturday, October 6, 2012

142 Good, Bad and Ugly Horror and Slasher Films

With Halloween approaching I thought it timely to discuss Horror and Slasher Films. I've been shocked in the past twenty years at the plethora of these films that have graced our theatre and television screens. It seems nearly half of the movies made fit this genre.

The problem with lumping these two categories together, however, is that ‘horror’ is really nothing like ‘slasher’. True horror movies involve an aspect of the psychological: Psycho, House on Haunted Hill, Rose Red. They don’t produce scares just for the sake of making the viewer jump. Slasher films, on the other hand, are made just for that purpose. How many times can we make the viewer scream, cover their eyes, jump. For that reason I don’t attend slasher films. I only enjoy going to true horror movies. It’s upsetting to me that the majority of ‘horror’ movies these days are slashers. It’s demeaning to the audience for producers to think that viewers don’t want intelligent horror.

I’m going to age myself here, as though you couldn’t guess from my pictures anyway, but when I was about twelve-years-old The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock came out. I was babysitting my sister, five years younger, and we watched it. Alone. Just the two of us. BIG MISTAKE. We woke each other during the night for bathroom company (which was about three feet from our bedroom door) for at least two months afterward. That was the scariest movie I had ever seen.

I had my own children watch it about ten years ago. While they enjoyed the classic nature and awesome direction that was Hitchcock, they weren’t exactly scared. Although the younger ones searched the sky whenever traveling from house to car or vice versa.

That is what has happened to the current generation of teens and twenties. They are completely desensitized to horror, gore, violence. Don’t even get me started on video games!

 As with all movie genres there are good films and bad to awful films. While researching this I gave it some thought and have categorized the following Horror to A-little-Scary movies into GOOD or NOT SO GOOD according to MY subjective movie-goer senses. If a movie has some psychology behind the scare or is based on actual events, it gets my thumb up. But violence and gore for the sake of it – no go.

The following sites have good info on horror/slasher films:


  • 1408
  • 28 Days Later
  • 28 Weeks Later
  • 30 Days of Night
  • Alien(s)
  • Amityville Horror (original)
  • Blair Witch Project 1
  • Burnt Offerings
  • Candyman
  • Carrie (original)
  • Coraline
  • Cube
  • Dawn of the Dead
  • Deliverance
  • Desperation
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula (original)
  • Event Horizon
  • Exorcism of Emily Rose
  • Fallen
  • Four Horsemen
  • Frankenstein
  • Haunting in Connecticut
  • I Am Legend
  • Interview With a Vampire
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (original)
  • Jaws
  • Misery
  • Mothman Prophecy
  • Mouth of Madness
  • Ninth Gate
  • Nosferatu
  • Panic Room
  • Pan's Labyrinth
  • Planet of the Apes
  • Poltergeist
  • Psycho
  • Quarantine
  • Resident Evil
  • Ringu
  • Rose Red
  • Rosemary's Baby
  • Salem's Lot
  • Seven
  • Shutter Island
  • Silence of the Lambs
  • Sleepy Hollow
  • Stir of Echoes
  • Storm of the Century
  • Sweeney Todd
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre (original)
  • The Birds
  • The Blob
  • The Descent
  • The Devil’s Backbone
  • The Exorcist
  • The Fly (w/ Jeff Goldblum)
  • The Howling
  • The Langoliers
  • The Legend of Hell House
  • The Mummy
  • The Omen
  • The Orphanage
  • The Other
  • The Others
  • The Ring 1
  • The Serpent and the Rainbow
  • The Shining
  • The Stand
  • The Thing
  • The Unborn
  • Underworld (series)
  • Untraceable
  • What Lies Beneath
  • White Noise
  • Zodiac Killer
  • Zombieland
Some things to remember about these lists. They are subjective to the viewer - ME. I have seen most of the movies on the bad list and while I enjoyed them at the time or at least sat through them at least once, I didn't consider them worthy of being called GOOD. The plot was weak, the characterization was weak or non-existent, the ending was lame. You get the point. But there is no reason not to see them just because I put them on my bad list. I love B-rated movies, especially those on the SyFy Channel, but some of these don’t even stand up to my low standards.

NOT SO GOOD or TOO EVIL/DEMONIC SCARY MOVIES (doesn't mean I haven't watched them all)

  • 13 Ghosts
  • 2001 Maniacs
  • Alien 3 & Resurrection
  • Arachnophobia
  • Black Christmas
  • Cabin Fever
  • Children of the Corn
  • Chucky
  • Cloverfield (made me nauseated)
  • Drag Me to Hell
  • Exorcist 2
  • Final Destination (all)
  • Friday the 13th (all)
  • Ghost Ship
  • Grindhouse (both)
  • Halloween (all)
  • Hellraiser
  • Hostel
  • House of Wax
  • I Know What You Did Last Summer
  • It!
  • Jaws the Revenge
  • Joy Ride (all)
  • My Bloody Valentine
  • Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Pet Semetary
  • Piranha
  • Prom Night
  • Pterodactyl
  • Rest Stop
  • Return of the Living Dead
  • Saw (all)
  • Scream
  • Silent Hill
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  • The Grudge (all)
  • The Hills Have Eyes
  • Wickerman
  • Wrong Turn (all)

Here is a listing of Scary stories based on actual events. While I’m not saying these films are GOOD, they are at least interesting from that aspect.

  • Mothman Prophecies (2002)
  • Psycho (1960)
  • Signs (2002)
  • It (1990)
  • The Ring(1972)
  • Don't Look Now(1973)
  • The Exorcist (1973)
  • Halloween (1978)
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
  • Jaws(1975)
  • Audrey Rose(1977)
  • Hills have Eyes(1977)
  • The Amityville Horror(1977)
  • The Entity(1981)
  • Dead Ringers(1988)
  • Gothic(1986)
  • Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
  • An American Haunting (2006)
  • Primeval (2007)
  • Them (Ils) (2007)
  • The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Rugarou: Werewolf? Shape-Shifter?

Today I’m discussing a monster new to me. I was watching one of my favorite shows the other morning, Supernatural, and the boys had to confront something called a Rugaroo. I immediately jumped onto Google to investigate this scary, intriguing creature. Here's what I found out.

The term Roogaroo, Rugaroo, Ruggaroo, Roux-Ga-Roux (among other spellings) probably stems from the French word "loup garou" for werewolf. According to Barry Jean Ancelet, an academic expert on Cajun folklore and professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the tale of the rougarou is a common legend across French Louisiana. Both words are used interchangeably in southern Louisiana. Some people call the monster rougarou; others refer to it as the loup garou. However, the Rugaroo is NOT just a werewolf. It has similar but different characteristics. For one, it can shape-shift at will (not just full moons) and not only into a wolf form. It can take on the shape of any animal--even human.
The rougarou legend has been spread for many generations, either directly from French settlers to Louisiana (New France) or via the French Canadian immigrants centuries ago.

In the Cajun legend, the creature supposedly prowls the swamps around Acadiana and Greater New Orleans, and possibly the fields or forests of the regions. The rougarou is usually described as a creature with a human body and the head of a wolf or dog, similar to the werewolf legend.

As with fairytales, it is believed that often the story-telling was used to instill fear. Supposedly, elders used the stories to persuade Cajun children to behave. Another example relates that the wolf-like beast will hunt down and kill Catholics who do not follow the rules of Lent. This coincides with the French Catholic loup garou stories, where the method for turning into a werewolf was to break Lent seven years in a row.

A common blood sucking legend speculated that the rougarou was under the spell for 101 days. After that time, the curse was transferred from person to person when the rougarou drew another human’s blood. During the day the creature returned to human form. Although feeling sickly, the person refused to tell others for fear of being killed.
Other stories range from the rougarou as a headless horseman to the rougarou derived from witchcraft. In the latter claim, only a witch could make a rougarou - either by turning themselves into wolves or cursing others with lycanthropy.

As with legends passed by oral tradition, stories often contradict one another. The stories of the wendigo vary by tribe and region, but the most common cause of the change is typically related to cannibalism.

A modified example, not in the original wendigo legends, is that if a person saw a rugaru, they would be transformed into one. Thereafter, they would be doomed to wander as a rugaru. That story bears some resemblance to a Native American version of the wendigo legend related in a short story by Algernon Blackwood. In Blackwood's fictional adaptation of the legend, seeing a wendigo caused one to turn into a wendigo.

According to The American Journal of Psychiatry Vol. 134, No. 10. published in October 1977:  "Lycanthropy, a psychosis in which the patient has delusions of being a wild animal (usually a wolf), has been recorded since antiquity. The Book of Daniel describes King Nebuchadnezzar as suffering from depression that deteriorated over a seven-year period into a frank psychosis at which time he imagined himself a wolf. Among the first medical descriptions were those of Paulus Aegineta during the later days of the Roman Empire. In his description of the symptom complex, Aegineta made reference to Greek mythology in which Zeus turned King Lycaon of Arcadia into a raging wolf. 
Folk-etymology links the word to Lycaon, a king of Arcadia who, according to Ovid's Metamorphoses, was turned into a ravenous wolf in retribution for attempting to serve human flesh (his own son) to visiting Zeus in an attempt to disprove the god's divinity.

There is also a mental illness called lycanthropy in which a patient believes he or she is, or has transformed into, an animal and behaves accordingly. This is sometimes referred to as clinical lycanthropy to distinguish it from its use in legends.

While the wolf is the most common form of were-animal, in the north the bear is common in legends. In ancient Greece the dog was associated with the belief and today the were-boar variant is known through Greece and Turkey.

Even if when the term lycanthropy is limited to the wolf-metamorphosis of living human beings, the beliefs classed together under this head are far from uniform. The transformation may be temporary or permanent; the were-animal may be a metamorphosed person, or maybe a double whose activity leaves the real person unchanged. It could be a soul seeking to devour while leaving its body in a state of trance. Or perchance a messenger of a human being, a real animal or familiar spirit, whose connection with its owner is demonstrated through injury, by a phenomenon known as repercussion, to cause a corresponding injury to the human being.
Lycanthropy is often confused with transmigration; but the essential feature of the were-animal is that it is the double of a living human being, while the soul-animal is the vehicle, temporary or permanent, of the spirit of a dead human being. Nevertheless, instances in legend of humans reincarnated as wolves are often classed with lycanthropy, as well as these instances being labeled werewolves in local folklore.

Many Native cultures feature skin-walkers or a similar concept, wherein a shaman or warrior may, according to cultural tradition, take on an animal form. Animal forms can vary according to cultures and local species (including bears and wolves or coyotes). Skinwalkers tend to be totemic.

Author Peter Matthiessen determined that rugaru is a separate legend from that of the cannibal-like giant wendigo. While the wendigo was feared, he noted that the rugaru was seen as sacred and in tune with Mother Earth, in the same character of the bigfoot legends of today.

The Rugaroo can vary from a mild Big-foot-type creature to cannibalistic Native American Wendigos. While the lore of the cannibalistic Wendigos is prevalent throughout the Algonquian-speaking tribes in the northern US and Canada, the Rugaroo legend comes mostly from the Ojibwe and Chippewa tribes where is it considered sacred and in touch with Mother Earth, much like the Big-Foot is considered today.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Stop Stealing Dreams

This is a guest post by Seth Godin about a topic near and dear to my heart, so listen up and do something about it before it's too late for all of our children.

The economy has changed, probably forever.

School hasn't.

School was invented to create a constant stream of compliant factory workers to the growing businesses of the 1900s. It continues to do an excellent job at achieving this goal, but it's not a goal we need to achieve any longer.

In this 30,000 word manifesto, I imagine a different set of goals and start (I hope) a discussion about how we can reach them. One thing is certain: if we keep doing what we've been doing, we're going to keep getting what we've been getting.

Our kids are too important to sacrifice to the status quo.


1.     You can get your copy for free

2.     How to get a free digital copy--formatte...

3.     Some of the books I reference in Stop St...

4.     Ken Robinson on Creativity and Passion

5.     Sir Ken on Creativity and schools

6.     If I could have every administrator, tea...


You can get your copy for free

Here are four versions of the manifesto. Pick the one that you need, and feel free to share. To download a file, you'll probably need the option key or the right click button on your mouse... ask a teenager if you get stuck.

The On Screen version

Use this one to read it on a computer or similar device. Feel free to email to the teachers, parents and administrators in your life.

The Printable edition

This is the same document, but formatted for your laser printer or the local copy shop. You are welcome to make copies, but please don't charge for it or edit it.

Here's the Kindle edition

You'll need to download it and then plug in your Kindle via a USB cable. Drag the file to the Documents folder on your Kindle and boom, you're done. I'm told that you can also open it with the Kindle reader on your Mac, PC or iPad.

The ePub edition

This should work with other types of ebook readers, but I haven't tested it. Your mileage may vary, and if it doesn't work, the PDF should. Readers have told me that this opens on their iPad as well.

The manifesto in HTML on the web

Useful for cutting and pasting, I guess. The PDFs are easier to read.

How I built the manifesto, plus back up links

If any of the links above don't work, you'll find back up PDF downloads here, as well as a long-ish essay about how I built them.

There are several versions of the manifesto.

One is a PDF designed to be read on your screen. Feel free to email this anyone you think might want to read it. You're also free to post it on a website, as long as you don't edit it or charge for it.

The other featured edition is a PDF formatted to be printed on any printer. Feel free to make as many copies of this as you like and hand them to people who might benefit from a discussion about what we're investing our time and our money and our future into.

If you have a Kindle or a Nook or any other device, see below for some links on how to import the PDF to your device. I also created special editions that are easy to transfer directly to the Kindle or Nook. And, as a bonus (once the guys in the Apple iTunes store approve it), an iBooks edition for the iPad.

For a list of other books by Seth Godin (that's me), scroll down to near the bottom of this page. And if you have comments about the book, feel free to post them here, or even better, on twitter #stopstealingdreams or on Facebook or your own blog!