Posted in Freedom Friday

Christmas Talk Already?

I wrote an entirely different post for today that I eventually scrapped because I felt the tone was not conducive to a positive atmosphere. My original post poked fun at the phrase “pay it forward” and it’d implied a message of performing good deeds with the expectation of getting something in return. Some folks call it reciprocation, but I have a better word for it.

Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve

In my world, I call it a transaction.

Anyway, after thinking about it, for today’s Freedom Friday I decided to talk about something else.

With winter right around the corner, it’s that time of year when I start thinking about putting the lawn furniture away, raking the leaves, and sealing all doors and windows to our house in preparation for those cold days when all I can see is my breath floating in the air. For some, autumn is over the day after Halloween. The Christmas lights go up. The carols play in the department stores. And the first snowflakes hit the ground.

It’s also the same time of year that many use to finish old or plan new projects. In my case, I look forward to this time as a way to draw closer to the family. Given I have such a stringent writing schedule, it’s nice to settle indoors and spend time with the people I love.

Christmas shopping season madness
Christmas shopping season madness

However, in the hustle and bustle of yearend, I’m eagerly anticipating one thing—Christmas shopping season. It may be a strange thing to think about, considering Christmas is a month away, but I actually love the buzz in the stores. As we get closer to that fateful period. Many of the game manufacturers wait until now to deliver their most prized treasures to consumers.

I know the film industry is on top of it. Who can deny Jurassic World hasn’t already prep’d the audience last summer with the subliminal suggestion that folks ought to offer the DVD or Blu-Ray as a gift under the tree? The whole opening sequence to the movie has Christmas in mind.

Then LEGO announced recently the company has a brick shortage and won’t be able to fill all its orders on time, in spite of opening new manufacturing plants throughout the world. I don’t know about you but Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without at least one LEGO set making an appearance. Isn’t there some unwritten rule about that? I don’t know.

Let’s not forget the crowds. Oh, how much the crowds make up the best part of the season. Elbow to elbow, everyone gunning for the last toy on the shelf. Is there anything else that can be so perfect?

Of course, I’m being facetious. The idea of driving around senseless to grab the last parking spot in the mall so that I can drag my butt into a store I never will visit again to buy a toy that in a year’s time will end up as part of a junk heap really appeals to me. Do you see me jumping for joy?

Okay, so maybe I’m not really looking forward to Christmas as much as I thought, but you can’t tell me it isn’t fun watching the season unfold into chaos. That’s the best part.

Nothing quite replaces the spirit of giving when everyone’s thinking about materialism.

After all, greed and fear is what makes the economy go around, especially during this time of year.

Get the Ranger Martin zombie trilogy now!

Are you looking forward to the holiday season? What are your plans?

Posted in Freedom Friday


I’m not sure how it works in other neighborhoods, and it might very well be the same, but all I know is once November 1st hits, the Christmas lights come out in full swing. If you’re from the Toronto area, you’ll know what I mean.


Enjoy this Freedom Friday post about the merits of waiting.

October 31st is Halloween. You wouldn’t guess that is true from what happens the next day. The day after Halloween is fun. It’s like the stores magically turn their decorations from ghouls and goblins to Santa’s merry little elves, and the Christmas trees are ready for their assault on shoppers. I never know what to make of it. Like a perfectly timed choreography, even the radio ads turn to Christmas carols—and it’s only the day after Halloween! Yes, I know I said that a few times. I suppose I’m trying to make a point here.


Now, I understand retailers wanting to start early with all the festivities, but I’m just not ready for that. In the United States, it’s a sweet deal. Being Canadian, I actually appreciate it more than you’d know. For Americans, the day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday. It’s when retailers finally turn their bottom lines into black. Christmas for them also officially begins that day. I know of a family in the States, and possibly most families, who string up their decorations for that weekend.

See, to me, that makes sense. I don’t think Americans would argue with me either. The day after Thanksgiving gives you a whole month to go off and plunder the stores all in an effort to get the best deals around. That’s logic. It makes sense.

Here where I live, the day after Halloween the kids are still recovering from having eaten that pound of candy they told their parents they wouldn’t consume. The boney ornaments from the night before are still hanging on the door outside, waiting to greet the mail carrier who will more than likely be there to deliver the Christmas catalog from your friendly neighborhood department store. And the nearest coffee shop will have the Christmas tunes blaring on their sound system hoping customers would purchase their cinnamon mocha cappuccino ole espresso Irish divine cream coffee.

Whatever happened to waiting? Everyone’s in such a rush to do the Christmas thing nowadays that no one stops to ask why. Has the media conditioned us in such a way that we accept everything fed to us? Where’s the patience?

I say all good things are worth the wait. I know it’s a cliché, but isn’t it true? I’m not talking about Christmas only. Sometimes waiting for the perfect opportunity to act on a decision will yield the best results. Sometimes waiting for the next bus will save your life. And sometimes waiting for the rain will make things grow faster.

Waiting patiently makes for an incredible character-building experience. Perhaps this time of year is the most optimal time to build that character.

Or maybe—I just don’t know what I’m talking about.


Have you had to wait for something in your life that you wished would have come sooner?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombie Apocalypse: Alternate Endings

Every enemy has a weakness. Every foe has a flaw. With zombies, it’s the head. You’ve heard it before. Shoot them pointblank in the face and they will no longer pose a threat.

Photo by Martin SoulStealer [Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.]
Photo by Martin SoulStealer [Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.]
But what if a new breed of zombie doesn’t respond to the universal bullet to the temple, then what? What if zombies could withstand a pummeling, and rise again to keep advancing toward a fragile humanity ready for extinction?

We’d all be in trouble, wouldn’t we?

For today’s Monday Mayhem, let’s explore the universe of zombies and their alternate endings. Humans can’t always win.

An Invincible Brain—In the 1978 movie Halloween, Michael Myers is a little boy who grows up to become a possessed psychotic out to seek vengeance against his hometown. Michael withstands a knife to the face and a coat hanger to the eye. Yet, he still keeps coming back again and again. Imagine a zombie with the same talent as Michael. It would be the ultimate opponent to defeat. Bullets would no longer work. Knives would become playthings. The undead would rule the earth and humans would flee for the mountains. There wouldn’t be anyone left after they’d get through with us.

Self-Healing—Imagine a world where zombies could self-heal from their wounds. The comic superhero Wolverine has the power to self-heal despite a body riddled with bullets or knife slashes to the throat. Take it a step further and ponder on the thought of zombies possessing that same power. No telling what would become of humanity if the guns can’t stop the undead from attacking. Every wound would heal. No one would be safe from the zombies’ destructive path. In this case, it bleeds but we can’t kill it.

Contagious Scratch—The zombie bite is the universal form for spreading the undead contagion. However, what if that was to change? What if the zombie bite no longer posed a threat? What then? What if instead of the bite a simple scratch would prove equally as menacing? No longer would the undead seek to propagate their kind with their teeth, but they would rip through doors with extended arms searching for people to scratch. The rate of infection would rise and the population would suddenly become undead in a matter of days. All because of a little scratch. A Band-Aid won’t help in this case.

If zombies featured invincible brains, self-healing as part of their makeup or a contagious scratch, one thing is certain, there wouldn’t be anyone left to tell the tale. Nevertheless, should humans know in advance of the fundamental shift in zombie behavior, the arms dealers throughout the world would dream of new defenses for the cities and new weaponry to put the undead back in their place—the grave.


What new zombie trait would you find the biggest threat to humanity?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombie Questions

Today, for Monday Mayhem, I thought I’d try something different. As opposed to writing a post dedicated to zombies, I thought I’d write a post asking questions regarding the zombie genre instead. I’m hoping you can help me understand what you, the reader, like about zombies, as I know it will also provide me with some valuable information as to what kind of stories entertain you.


Are you ready for a heavy interrogation session? Good. I’ll ask the questions, then I’ll add a comment or two to get the discussion started. Let’s have some fun!

Do you consider zombies part of the Horror genre? Some folks think because zombies run, jump and attack like raptors they belong in a Steven Spielberg movie for kids. What do you think?

Should filmmakers and/or authors think about including gore in their stories? This is a straightforward question, but it depends if we’re talking about human or zombie gore. Big difference, I think.

What kind of zombie origin stories do you like? Remember, back a hundred years ago, zombies came from ancient voodoo practices while today’s zombie spawns from an outbreak of a deadly disease.

Do you like slow or fast zombies? Why? Everyone has an opinion these days about the type of undead knocking on the door. Which do you prefer?

Have you or are you planning to participate in a zombie run this year? Many folks enjoy the challenge of running in hopes of outwitting actors dressed in zombie costumes. Do you?

Have you or are you planning to dress as a zombie for this coming Halloween? I know a few of my friends who have participated in zombie birthday bashes. What about Halloween?

What are your favorite zombie movies? Zombies are hot, but it’s also nice to know what the viewing audience finds appealing with their choice of entertainment.

If you’ve read zombie novels this year, which ones have you read and why? This is one of those questions where personal preference goes a long way.

Do you like crossover stories such as Horror and Romance (i.e. Warm Bodies)? Many zombie fans like their undead without Romance or Science Fiction. What about you?

How much action in a zombie story is too much action? Many fans enjoy the idea of seeing how the survivors adapt to their new environment. But what if they’re under constant threat of the undead? Then what?

If you watch The Walking Dead, what do you like about it the most? When a major character dies on The Walking Dead, I bow my head in mourning. Does it affect you in the same way?

Are you a George A. Romero junkie? Many of today’s zombies possess traits that came from the mind of director George A. Romero. Have you seen any of his movies?

When watching a zombie movie, wouldn’t you like to have the characters refer to zombies as zombies? Many movies and TV shows don’t refer to zombies by their name. Instead, they choose other names to enhance the experience. What do you think about that?

That’s it for now. If I’ve missed anything, let me know.


What do you like about zombies the most?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Marion Crane

Alfred Hitchcock’s cinematic masterpiece Psycho features a rich score written by veteran composer Bernard Herrmann. Just as identifiable as John Williams’ music from Jaws, the piercing violins replicating knife slashes has become a staple trademark in horror movies utilizing the theme’s signature in multiple variations. But the subject of the film’s music is the woman in the shower scene, and the stabbing that goes on as the music repeatedly plays that recognizable theme.

Janet Leigh as Marion Crane
Janet Leigh as Marion Crane

Women Who Wow Wednesday presents Marion Crane, the woman in the Psycho movie who meets with a premature death, shocking audiences in 1960 into an unknown they’ve never had the opportunity to explore.

Played by Janet Leigh, mother to scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis star of the Halloween franchise, the part entailed Leigh to work a full three weeks on set, seven days of which she partook in the infamous shower scene.

The making of the film is a story in itself. Hitchcock declined his usual $250,000 directorial fee for a 60% cut of the box office. He made $15 Million, which adjusted for inflation translates to $150 Million in 2006 dollars. Additionally, to thwart MPAA censors, he had added obvious red herrings to the film in order to confound them into removing the red herrings all the while keeping the objectionable scenes intact.

As for filming of the shower scene, Hitchcock used Bosco chocolate syrup to emulate the blood, since it appears better contrasted in black and white. Some audience members, however, believed they saw red when blood washed down the drain. Of course, this is a physical impossibility for the obvious reason the movie is not in color.

The infamous shower scene.
The infamous shower scene.

Further adding to the list of interesting tidbits, ophthalmologists approached Hitchcock soon after the opening to emphasize a truly dead corpse, as seen in Psycho, should not have contracted pupils but dilated instead. They suggested Hitchcock use belladonna drops to achieve the dead-eye affect in subsequent films, which he did.

Trivia’s all very well and fine, but what does that have to do with Marion Crane? The story goes something like this: Marion steals $40,000 from her employer and goes on the lamb. She changes cars in an effort to thwart discovery by the police and checks into a motel by the side of the highway—the Bates Motel. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.

Owned by Norman Bates and his sick mother, the Bates Motel poses as the scene for the eventual turning point in Marion’s life. Thinking she’d gotten away with robbery, she didn’t think she might have walked into a far worse situation. As the cliché goes, out of the frying pan into the fire. As the movie’s title suggests, someone has to be the psychopath. It’s not Marion.

And this is what makes Marion Crane unique in Horror. Hitchcock purposely gave her top billing, even though she dies halfway through the film. Marion’s death in the shower is the most recognizable scene in movie history. When people talk about Psycho, in the same breath they’re talking about the shower scene. In so doing, culture made Marion Crane a poster child for how a good Horror flick should go.


Have you seen Psycho? If so, what did you think of it?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Hermione Granger

As the precocious, young witch in the magical world of Harry Potter, it doesn’t seem fitting to include Hermione Granger in my Women Who Wow Wednesday series. However, once we see what she accomplishes when she flees the troll in the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, we can safely cast aside all those biases.

Hermione Granger
Hermione Granger

J.K. Rowling, author of the best-selling Harry Potter series, once said Hermione Granger “is an exaggeration of how I was when I was younger.” Described as a little know-it-all in her younger days, Rowling’s own rags-to-riches story inspires. In a short five-year period, Rowling went from state welfare to becoming a multi-millionaire. Forbes honored Rowling in 2004 as the first author to achieve a billionaire status. With over 400 million books sold, $160 Million in charitable donations, Rowling certainly has come a long way from those days when “she was a broke single mother, in poor accommodations, at a time of high unemployment.”

Although not poor, Hermione was born a Muggle, which translates to someone who has magical abilities but without magical blood. Her parents are dentists. When she arrives at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, she demonstrates her arrogance to her peers by criticizing other students’ incantations. Ron Weasley’s levitation charm immediately falls into her crosshairs. The other students, including Harry Potter, do not take kindly to her know-it-all attitude.

Hermione Granger: Defender of Good
Hermione Granger: Defender of Good

It isn’t until a troll traps Hermione in a washroom that her true nature comes alive. Cowering in a corner as the troll delivers one blow after another to stalls and basins, Ron and Harry appear without a clue of what to do. The troll grabs Harry by the leg and swings, missing him several times. Ron needs to do something. His levitation charm comes to mind. Still unsure how to cast it, Hermione directs Ron, “swish and flick.” And that’s what he does with his wand, swish and flick, “Wingardium Leviosa.” The club the troll uses to destroy suddenly levitates to the ceiling. It floats there for a while until it comes crashing on to the troll’s pea-brain head.

When Professors Severus Snape and Minerva McGonagall show up horrified at the sight of the troll on the floor and the catastrophic condition of the washroom, they’re ready to place blame. Hermione jumps in to take full responsibility for all damages. That is, she utters a small fib to cover for her friends, Ron and Harry. From that moment forward, Ron, Harry, and Hermione remain inseparable.

While Hermione may not appear as a gun-toting super girl, her numerous swish and flick episodes make her a feared opponent. Even to a whimpering Draco Malfoy, who she once held against a tree with her wand pointed directly at his face. Hermione does not tolerate bullying.

Hermione Granger Vs. Draco Malfoy
Hermione Granger Vs. Draco Malfoy

From her strong friendships with Ron and Harry to her casting of protective spells, Hermione proves what a defender of good truly is.

What do you like about Hermione? If you’ve read Harry Potter, do you see a difference in character between the Hermione of the books to the movies?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Laurie Strode

For those unfamiliar with the Halloween franchise, one cannot say the name Laurie Strode without saying Michael Myers in the same breath. One, the protagonist. The other, über-antagonist. Women Who Wow Wednesday continues with horror’s scream queen Laurie Strode.

Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode

When Jamie Lee Curtis accepted the role of Laurie Strode in the 1978 horror classic Halloween, who would have thought she’d become the success she is today. Daughter of Hollywood parents Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, Curtis’ debut in the film solidified her place in the annals of horror. As a no-nonsense actress with weathered chops to take on any role, she played Laurie Strode straight (just as her mother did playing a victim in the 1960 movie Psycho). The genre had seen too many bad movies with bad actresses who trivialized their roles as victims. Not Curtis. She made sure of that.

Michael Myers was only a young boy when he walked into his parents’ house, grabbed a butcher knife, climbed the stairs to his sister’s room, and slaughtered her in a demonic bloodbath. When he made his way back through the front door that Halloween night, his parents greeted the boy as he still held the knife, his sister’s blood dripping from the blade to the sidewalk.

The authorities committed him to Smith’s Grove Warren County Sanitarium never to see the light of day again.

Michael Myers
Michael Myers

Fifteen years later, Michael Myers escapes the asylum and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois. This time, he dawns a mask and a pair of coveralls with the intent to carry out another bloody rampage during the dark festival of Halloween.

Enter Laurie Strode, the teenage babysitter who Michael stalks. That entire day she thinks she sees someone, but doesn’t. He’s there, but isn’t. In her literature class, he appears staring at her from across the street. Then he’s gone. Walking home, he shows up again from behind a hedge. He disappears. From behind a clothesline in the neighbor’s backyard. Vanished.

That evening, while Laurie babysits Tommy Doyle, her friend Annie pops over with her own charge, Lindsey Wallace. She wants Laurie to look after Lindsey so she could go out with her boyfriend. Laurie agrees. After some time, Annie still hadn’t shown up to pick up Lindsey. Laurie heads over to the Wallace’s to see what’s keeping her. What she finds shakes her to the core. Annie’s dead lying under Michael’s sister Judith’s tombstone. So are her other friends Lynda and Bob. Michael killed them and placed the bodies in various areas of the house for Laurie to find. Out of the darkness Michael appears, slices Laurie’s arm causing her to fall down the stairs, snapping her ankle.

This is the part where Laurie Strode the fighter emerges. She limps back to the Doyle house with one thing on her mind: protect the children. Michael follows, crashing through a window prompting Laurie to slip a knitting needle through his neck. Doesn’t faze him. He still comes after her. With the children in tow, they run and hide in a closet upstairs. He hunts them. She unravels a coat hanger and sits silently, hoping he doesn’t find them. He does, and attacks them with a knife. She pokes him in the eye with the hanger. He drops the knife. She grabs the knife and stabs him in the stomach. He collapses.

Believing he’s dead, she instructs the children to leave the house. She does well. He rises and tries to strangle her. Dr. Loomis, Michael’s psychiatrist, bursts into the scene saving Laurie by unloading his weapon into Michael.

Although critics may consider Laurie Strode a victim in this movie, she is nothing but. If anything, she was brave for risking her life for the welfare of the children. She wasn’t afraid to stand up to evil. And that’s what a hero is. Selfless, always thinking about those who can’t defend themselves, and a true believer in good.

Ever see Halloween? What do you think of Laurie Strode?