Author Archive : Ali Cat

Week of Geek: NaNoWriMo is here again!

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Hi again Geeklings!  Hope you had a great Halloween and got lots of treats with just a few tricks.

So today I was pondering the fact that November is kind of a weird month.  Halloween is over.  Christmas is still, like, two months away, though you wouldn’t know it, what with the stores putting out their holiday wares, commercials starting to air and even TV shows getting festive.  Seriously, I was at a friends house, she had the TV on mute in the background and it was a holiday baking show.  It was November 4th!

So what to do if, like me, you miss Halloween and may love the holiday season but it’s way too early to start celebrating.  What do you do with a month like November, smack dab in the middle of two major polar opposite holidays?

OH!

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NANOWRIMO!  How could I forget?  A writer’s go time!  Where we pump out 50 000 words and write like caffeinated squirrels.  THAT’s something to work on during a lull in the festivities.

For anyone not yet in the know, NaNoWriMo is shorthand for National Novel Writing Month.  It began back in 1999, though that first year it was held in July.  By 2000 it had moved to November to take advantage of poor weather (which we’ve had in spades the last few days).  The goal is to announce an idea for a novel and then spend November writing 50 000 words of that novel.  You’re not trying to finish it, you’re not trying to edit it, you’re not even trying to make it good; you’re just writing, just getting the bulk of the words out.  You can worry about finishing it and making it awesome afterwards.

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For people like me, who’s preset mode is always ‘lazy’, having a deadline is a great kick in the pants.  I participated in my first NaNoWriMo last year, and I’m at it again for 2018 (though, truth be told, I’m already behind.  Womp womp.)

50 000 words seems a little daunting?  No problemo.  NaNoWriMo also offers the Young Writers Program.  It’s for writers from little to teen, and you can set your own writing goals.

So I encourage you all to get writing.  There have been a lot of published novels that began as NaNoWriMo projects (including one of my all time favorite books).  But, even if you aren’t planning on writing a whole novel it’s always a great thing to get inspired and try some writing, be it poetry, non fiction, blogging or whatever you like.

Happy writing everyone and until next time, End of Line.

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Week of Geek: Month of the Macabre, Part 5 – The Final Chapter

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Hi again Geeklings!  Happy Halloween 2018!  Hope you’ve got a lot of awesome plans for tonight and some killer (not literally) costumes.

All this month we’ve been discussing scary media to indulge in, and we’ve covered books, comics, movies and TV shows.  What else is there?  How about an experience not just for the eyes, but for the ears?  There’s lots to listen to that perfectly encapsulates the feel of the season, so let’s throw some tunes on, fire up some podcasts and close our eyes while we listen, hoping that nothing scary creeps up on us while we do so.

First, some Music

“Thriller” by Michael Jackson – No list of creepy, Halloween-ready music would be complete without this song.  Not only has it been a staple of Halloween parties (and regular parties) for almost 40 years now, it’s music video is still one of the most iconic and influential out there, from the dance moves to the fashion to the make-up to the cinematic feel to the inclusion of Vincent Price.  There are a ton of videos out there of people mass-dancing to this song.  It’s huge, is what I’m saying.

“Disturbia” by Rihanna – This dance number has a beat I think any zombie could get down to.

“Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr. – Really, what needs to be said?  If you haven’t seen the movie, put a hold on it right now!

“Grim Grinning Ghosts” – If you’ve ever been to the Haunted Mansion ride in various Disney parks, this is the song that plays as you ride through the graveyard.  It’s upbeat, despite the subject manner, and lets you know that though the ghosts are spooky, they only pretend to terrorize,  so you’re all good.  The band Creature Feature released a cover of it this fall.

“This is Halloween” by The Nightmare Before Christmas cast – Is it a Halloween movie?  Is it a Christmas movie?  The debate rages on, but one thing we can all agree on is that this opening number captures Halloween perfectly.  My favorite line?  “I am the who when you call ‘Who’s there?’; I am the wind blowing through your hair.”

Podcasts – These can be a little tricky to recommend because, like horror movies, they can get a little gruesome.  But the following options should be pretty safe for younger ears.

Lore – Created by author Aaron Mahnke back in 2015, Lore has gone from a part time job to a full time job for Mahnke over the years.  Our world, it’s history and it’s folklore is full of scary stories, and Mahnke wants to shine a light on where our best known freaky tales come from.  He discusses real-life events, legends and myths and how they all come together in a macabre collage to reveal what we are truly afraid of.  If you like history and spooks, this is a great place to start.  Plus, there’s a TV series on Amazon Prime and there are books from the podcast as well.  Check the first book out here.

Unobscured – Another one by Mahnke, in partnership with How Stuff Works.  This one just debuted this last October, and we’re a few episodes in so far.  What Unobscured hopes to accomplish is to visit a historical event each season and give it a deep dive, and this first season is all about the Salem Witch Trials.  I’ve been listening in, and it seems the whole thing was a bit more complicated than just ‘mass hysteria’.  Check it out!

Unexplained – Kind of like Lore, but British.  Richard MacLean Smith tries to freak you with spooky real-life tales and legends, told with a delightful accent.

Welcome to Night Vale – Admittedly I am way behind on this one, but when I first discovered it I fell in love hard.  Like, hard.  The fictional town of Night Vale is unlike anything you’ve ever seen, where the strange and terrifying are pretty mundane to it’s citizens.  The podcast is told as a radio show hosted by Cecil, the Voice of Night Vale, as he discusses the current events, any major developments and his own personal life (especially a certain scientist named Carlos).  I’ve listened to the first few seasons and it is freaky, gripping, funny, heartbreaking, smart, romantic, deep and just so many other things.  You definitely want to tune in.

Bonus: War of the Worlds 1938 Radio broadcast – Some of you may have heard of this already.  A famous actor, Orson Welles, puts on a radio broadcast of an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds that sounds a little too real to 1930s audiences and everyone promptly freaks out, thinking aliens are literally invading earth.  Well, that happened (though the panic was not quite as widespread as some of the tales would have you believe), and this year is the 80th anniversary of that event.  80 years!  Some might be wondering ‘Why would I care about an 80 year old radio show?  Who listens to radio anymore?’  And while radio has kind of been pushed to the back burner by TV and the internet, for a long time it was the main way to communicate with big audiences, which is what TV and the internet do for us now.  And radio was not always trusted as a reliable and factual form of communication (sound familiar? cough*internet*cough), and this broadcast certainly didn’t help matters.  But it’s worth a listen just for how brilliant it was at the time.  It was found footage before found footage was a thing.  It was also fake news before fake news was a thing.  It was ahead of its time.

So there we go.  Between these and our previous posts you’ll have a busy Halloween.  Anything I’ve left out that deserves a shout out?  Post in the comments below.

Happy Halloween Everybody!  Have fun, be safe, and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: Month of the Macabre, Part 4

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Hi again Geeklings!  Halloween is a week away!  Can you taste all that candy yet?  Got some great costume ideas and some fun times ahead?  I certainly hope so!  I know I’ll be trying by best to creep out our library patrons that day.

So far these last few weeks we’ve covered scary novels, scary comics and scary movies that teens can indulge in.  But what if a movie just isn’t long enough to get properly creeped out?  Luckily, we have TV shows that cover all sorts of spooky subjects, from zombies to vampires to werewolves to slashers to ghosts to headless horsemen to the Upside Down.  So grab some of these and prepare for an epic Halloween bingewatch.

Image result for supernatural season 1 Supernatural – This show is currently airing it’s 14th season.  14th season!  It premiered all the way back in September of 2005, and through it’s entire run the show has focused primarily on the two Winchester brothers, Dean and Sam.  When we first meet them we learn quickly they are not usual new adults; they were raised by their single father after their mother was killed by supernatural forces, and they were raised as ‘Hunters’, meaning their sole mission is to travel the country and take down the scariest creatures, ghouls and ghosts out there.  Over the years the boys have loved and lost, and have found new enemies and allies, particularly an angel named Castiel.  There’s a rich mythology and many near-misses for the whole world.  If the entire run seems a little daunting to watch just start with the first season to get a taste.  (BTW, in Season 13 there’s a crossover episode with Scooby-Doo.  I kid you not.  And it’s great.)

Image result for buffy the vampire slayer season 1 Buffy the Vampire Slayer – “Into every generation a slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampiresdemons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. She is the Slayer.”  So this iconic 90s show begins, and it just builds from there.  Buffy Summers wants to be a normal high school student in Sunnydale, California, but there’s a slight hitch.  She’s the latest Slayer and her town is built on a mouth to hell.  7 seasons, several apocalypses, a few love interests, a few ground breaking episodes and characters and a whole lot of scary later, Buffy remains the pivotal slayer, and while some aspects of the show haven’t aged as well as we’d like, she still remains one of the strongest female characters ever put to screen.  Come for the scares, stay for the character development and witty dialogue.

Image result for teen wolf season 1 Teen Wolf – A much more serious revamp of a campy 80s movie, MTV’s Teen Wolf made werewolves a thing again.  Scott McCall is an ordinary guy in high school, hanging out with his best friend Stiles and trying out for the lacrosse team.  Typical stuff… except the night before his sophomore year he ends up getting bit by a werewolf.  We all know what happens now.  Every full moon becomes problematic, and the rest of the time may not be much fun either.  Scott therefore has to learn how to control his power and how to balance all of this with his life at school.  Throw in werewolf infighting, budding romance with massive complications,  werewolf hunters and a whole lot of teen strife, you’ve got yourself a TV show.  Just maybe don’t go walking during a full moon.

Image result for scream queens season 1 Scream Queens – Created by Ryan Murphy, the same guy who brought us Glee and American Horror Story, Scream Queens is big on scares but also laughs and camp.  The first season focuses on the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority (typically made up of catty mean girls), which was involved in a murder and cover up 20 years prior.  Now, someone seems to be out for revenge, dressing as the Red Devil mascot and picking off students one by one.  Some of the sorority members try to solve the mystery while trying to staying alive, and very few people are who they seem to be.  The characters are outrageous, the secrets massive and the slashing abundant.  Plus, Jamie Lee Curtis, one of the original Scream Queens, is in it, so there’s that too.

Image result for the vampire diaries the complete season 1 The Vampire Diaries – This series has a lot of what you’d want from a spooky show, but also has big dashes of romance and drama mixed in as well.  Here we meet Elena Gilbert, a high school student living in Mystic Falls, Virginia, a town with a long supernatural history.  That spookyness comes into Elena’s life full-force when she becomes the object of affection for Stefan Salvatore, who happens to be a 162-year-old vampire.  Things are further complicated when Stefan’s older brother Damon, also a vampire, comes back to town.  Vampire hunters, witches, werewolves and family drama are also thrown in.  The show had a spinoff series, The Originals, and will have another spinoff, Legacies, debuting on TV this week.

Stranger Things, Season 1 Stranger Things – One of the biggest hits on Netflix, Stranger Things has taken the current nostalgia craze and run with it, creating something chilling and clever all it’s own.  Set in Hawkins, Indiana in the 1980s, the story kicks off with the disappearance of Will Byers.  While his mom and the other adults of Hawkins try to find him, his three D&D playing best friends, Mike, Dustin and Lucas, end up trying to solve the mystery as well, and the arrival of a mysterious girl with even more mysterious abilities unearths a whole bunch of freaky things that should not have been messed with.  Plus there are some older siblings in high school with their own stuff going on.  Both seasons are on Netflix but we have season one in the library system.

IZombie iZombie – Another CW series, but this one takes on everyone’s favorite shuffling undead people eaters.  Liv had her whole life turned upside down when she was turned into a zombie during a boat party.  Leaving her old life behind she quickly learns that if she doesn’t have a regular diet of brains she’ll turn into a shambling, mindless zombie we tend to see in movies.  How to fix that little problem?  By working at the city morgue, natch.  Liv also soon learns that when she eats the brains of the people she’s autopsied she can inherit some of their personality traits and memories for a while, and she uses that ability to help the local police solve murder cases.  Meanwhile, her boss is helping her try to find a cure.  A serial crime show with zombies thrown in?  So intrigued!

Image result for sleepy hollow season 1 Sleepy Hollow – Gotta give a shout out to this one, seeing as how The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is one of my all-time favorite stories around Halloween.  I grew up on the Disney special and then watched the heck out of the Tim Burton version.  In this TV series, Ichabod Crane was a spy for George Washington during the Revolutionary War, but was killed on the battlefied while fighting a horseman and ultimately beheading him.  Crane is then brought back to life in the 21st century.  After meeting Lt. Abigail Mills, Crane soon learns the now headless Horseman is back as well.  Not only that, he and Abby are the two witnesses from the Book of Revelations and that the Horseman is actually Death, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  So yes, a man really misplaced in time and a police officer just trying to live her life suddenly have to stop the end of the world.  That premise alone is enough for a watch, but watching Crane try to adapt to the modern era after 232 years is also delightful.

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So there are a few to get you started.  Did I miss any?  Post away in the comments below.

Enjoy the last week before Halloween, and until next time, End of Line.

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