Jo Slade - Story:
Dec 2, 2013 / 5:00 am
My quest at this time of year is to find ways to maintain my elusive delicate-like-a-flower ‘Christmas Spirit’. My dilapidated Christmas Spirit is so fragile, so delicate, that a mere puff of Christmas boosterism and *poof* the feeling is gone.
The Spirit starts out fully inflated on or about the 15th of November when all is quiet and I can see the potential of a lovely season ahead. It deflates about five minutes later when I look around and see that the season is no longer ‘ahead’, it is ‘here’. Christmas has become the guest who arrives ‘way too early, and nags you with blinking lights and sappy sentiments until your Xmas Spirit is lying dead at your feet.
There are quite a number of seasonal delights that deflate my sensitive Christmas Spirit.
There’s the public Christmas tree display gig that could be rather lovely except that it takes a perfectly innocent Christmas tradition, the decorated tree, and turns it into a spruced up or fir-lined opportunity to sell brand recognition. Here’s a tree with little truck ornaments all over it, and whadda ya know, it’s a trucking company’s tree. There’s a tree with little food ornaments all over it, could it be a grocer’s tree? Why, yes it could. Where is the funeral home tree, with ornaments of little coffins, a tiny crematorium, and some random dead bodies? Or a fast food tree - a fat one - with dripping plastic hamburgers and clogged-artery tinsel?
Another seasonal delight is the Militant Christmas statement. These statements flood Facebook and other sites, usually starting in early November. The Militant Christmas statement is the same message repeated about a zillion times: that dammit, the person posting is by god going to say “Merry Christmas” and nobody is going to stop them, you can wrestle them to the ground but they’ll still say it, and defiantly, too. And anybody who says “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” is going to be treated to scorn, ridicule and possibly a slap upside the head. It’s all about the tolerance and love and kindness at Christmas, as long as you remember to say “Merry Christmas”, not “Happy Holidays”.
The same people who bring you Militant Christmas statements are also prone to posting I Love Christmas It Makes Me All Gooey statements. “Gosh I love Christmas, and everything about it, and everybody in it, and everybody in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD (except people who say “Happy Holidays”), and all I really want for Christmas is . . . World Peace.”
So, how do I manage to keep my Xmas Spirit intact despite my curmudgeonicity when faced with the above atrocities and more?
Well, I keep it simple. I lay low. By November I’ve stopped going to stores (bless you, online shopping). I don’t do Christmas activities or events, because I actually hate the things. I buy nice things for the people on my list, but don’t seek out the ultimate shock-and-awe gift. Shock-and-awe gift buying has a nasty side effect: each year it gets harder to top your last offering. Photocopied generic Christmas letters? They used to be good for a laugh for being so tacky, but I’ve seen enough to last me a lifetime. They get tossed unread.
For decorations, there’s a tree and a couple of odds and ends. Gone is the need to put every single Christmas ornament out, it stays simple. I never decorate my office, which keeps it as a nice normal haven in which to work while the rest of the world gets all bat-crazy Noel. Okay, except for my office mannequin, Katie, who insists on wearing a rather slutty Christmas get-up each year. This year? She’s going to be a damn nun. Maybe a nun with tinsel, but a nun ‘nun’theless.
But there is one glitch in the mix, one kink in the armour, and its name is Andrew, my grandson. He fires up his Christmas spirit late July, early September, and by November has become frenzied with the need to do Christmas-related stuff. Once he has finished overhauling his own place, he starts reaching out. Unfortunately, that reaching out always involves yours truly.
The other night I heard a noise outside. I went to investigate, and there he was, the rabid Christmas boy in a Christmas hat (aaaak), rustling around my front door with three gaudy plastic candy cane lights in hand.
“NO!” I cried.
He froze in his tracks.
I explained why Christmas ornaments must not be set up so early around my place.
I reasoned quite well, actually.
I lied and promised that he could set them up ‘later’.
I finally had to threaten the kid.
I’m bigger than he is, and stronger, too.
And far more determined.
And, well, it turns out that if I look the other way, I can just about walk past without seeing the damn things.
Jo Slade - Story:
Nov 18, 2013 / 5:00 am
For over a year, Jim and I kept our television unplugged and unwatched. Not one movie or TV show played before our delicate eyeballs. Upon our return to the world of movies, and return we surely did, one of the first things we stumbled upon was an Asylum film. The movie was called ‘100 Below Zero’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtwmyAHTVfQ ,a gripping tale of temperatures plummeting to 100 degrees below zero with hapless scantily dressed humans running amok, looking worried and vaguely cold. That is, they ran when they weren’t falling, which they did an awful lot. Run run, fall, run, fall fall fall run run, fall, run run run, fall.
This is film-making at its best.
If you’re not familiar with Asylum films, you are in for a treat, provided you are entertained by movies that are blatantly as B as can be. It’s an art, getting a B movie just right. It must be exciting to watch and contain extremely bad special effects faced by actors of dubious acting ability. Most importantly, it must produce in you the need to have your remote control nearby for frequent pauses to laugh yourself silly.
Whereas I suspect Asylum, a company known as a ‘ripoff factory’, has a lot of fun making these movies, they aren’t trying to be funny, which is good because if they were, the movies would not be as enjoyable to watch. The movies are serious-but-not-too-serious ripoff mockbusters of whatever was recently a mainstream blockbuster. Asylum has their mockbuster formula down cold, and well they should, they’ve had tons of practice having produced over 100 films in the last 15 years.
Asylum doesn’t just produce mockbusters. They also have monsters, and lots of ‘em. For example, they have Megashark, a deadly creature which has been used more than once. I don’t think anybody else has a Megashark. Megashark can - and does - destroy anything in its path, it is about as mega as a thing can be, too. It is not to be mistaken for the mega whale in Moby Dick (another Asylum production), despite looking pretty much exactly the same, ie seemingly made of rubber and prone to grabbing humans while leaping over toy ships, oops, I mean real ships. I’ve seen ‘Megashark vs Crocosaurus’ (yes . . . yes, the movie is as excellent as the title), but there is also the yet-to-be-seen ‘Megashark vs the Giant Octopus’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I16_8l0yS-g
I really need to see that movie.
An Asylum movie grabs your sorry thrill-seeking self and plops you right into the movie, and you have no way to escape for 87 or 89 minutes, depending. Relax, happy camper, while you’re in there you are treated to non-stop exciting thrills:
- See a 600 foot shark swallow a 600 foot submarine.
- Meet Hitler and his henchmen at the center of the earth. Yes, really.
- Watch in amazement as a three-foot hole in a passenger airplane is easily patched with luggage, luggage so special that it not only doesn’t fly out, it actually re-pressurizes the plane.
- Watch as Navy ships fire their artillery, creating lots of smoke but not one ripple on the water.
- Thrill as WW II planes arrive from California to North Korea in about 1/2 hour. This one might seem suspect, except by the time it happens your brain is long since fried by the special effects and you’ll believe anything Asylum shows you.
- Laugh . . . errr, be terrified by the plane that stays on a collision course with Air Force One for hours, even after losing power, meandering amid high-rises, losing pressure, losing everything except its collision course with Air Force One.
- Marvel at waves traveling faster than the speed of sound.
- Rejoice as a passenger who gets sucked out of a hole in an airplane miraculously reappears back in his seat by the end of the movie.
- Note the über rough seas, with lots of people casually strolling around on deck.
- Note the dead calm seas, with lots of people unable to stand from the rolling.
At any rate, here is an incomplete list of the Asylum films we’ve seen so far. We have a long way to go:
A rich guy builds a replica Titanic, failing to realize that a killer iceberg is going to be stalking them almost as soon as they set out to sea.
My favourite so far. A passenger plane is on a collision course with Air Force One. The captain doesn’t know about the collision course, but nothing - nothing in this entire universe - will sway that plane from its course. It is just that kind of plane.
Nazis at the Centre of the Earth
Yes . . . yes, they are in there. And being all evil and stuff.
40 Days and 40 Nights
Megashark should have been in this film, but is not. It’s okay, there’s other stuff.
He’s in this one, though! No wait, that’s Megawhale who looks just like Megashark.
A bit breezy out there.
100 Below Zero
Brrrr. Watch for falling people.
2012 Ice Age
Basically the same movie as 100 Below Zero except this one takes place in North America, the other takes place in Europe. But really, both take place in Cheesy Effects Land.
Megashark vs Crocosaurus
One of my favourites. Warning: Choking hazard, do not eat while watching this movie.
Visiting their website, I discovered that Asylum used to accept ideas for future films. I am hoping they will return to this policy, because I have some ideas that might be a good fit:
Gone with the Mega-Hurricane
Scarlett O’Hara is caught between a Civil War and a mega-hurricane. Luckily tomorrow will be another day.
Megashark vs Dr. Strangelove
Will Megashark bite Dr. Strangelove’s head off?
Megashark and the Sundance Kid
An old-timey western where raindrops and megasharks keep falling on their heads.
Crocosaurus of Oz
When she sees Crocosaurus, Dorothy wonders if maybe she isn’t in Kansas anymore.
McDonalds meets Nazis at the Centre of the Earth
The Golden Arches just got real.
Larry of Arabia and the Giant Three-headed Killer Camel
Megashark needs to be in this movie to save Larry. But he isn’t, so everybody dies. Besides Megashark doesn’t roll that way, he’s no savior.
Zombie Shakespeare vs Megashark and CrocoHamlet
To B-movie or not to B-movie, that is the question.
Bill Shakespeare: Zombie Hunter
Okay, this last one is a bit unrealistic, since zombies didn’t even exist in Shakespeare’s time. Let’s keep it real, people.
Asylum films have changed my entire way of looking at movies, and it makes me glad to be back. These are classics, and not for the faint-of-heart or, for that matter, anybody with a functioning brain. You know, I think if Asylum films were a lamp, they’d be the leg lamp from Christmas Story.
Jo Slade - Story:
Nov 4, 2013 / 5:00 am
We live in perilous times, and never more so than now, with Mercury pulling a retrograde number on us. The retrograde Mercury gig, well-known among astrologists, started on October 21 and continues through November 10.
The retrograde Mercury event is an occasionally occurring sneak-planet maneuver that disrupts every single thing we sentient beings do, according to astrological experts. It messes with our computers, too, and God knows what it does to Siri, who is messed up enough as it is.
According to one astrologist,“Mercury rules communication, clear thinking, truth and travel, so when the planet goes retrograde — which means that it looks like it’s going backwards in the sky — all those things go backwards. They start to get ugly and tangle up.”
It’s no wonder, really, since it turns out that “Mercury is not an emotional planet, but rather a highly objective, truth-seeking one.”
Now, as most of you know, when you are curious about astrological stuff, it pays to come to the most expert of experts. Who would that be? C’est moi (astrologically ‘c’est moi’ means ‘Jo Slade is the astrological expert, also she has a bridge to sell you’).
This particular phenomena, the retrograde-but-not-emotional Mercury thing, causes every single person’s mind to warp in unexpected and perverse ways (more than usual, that is). For example, you may suddenly have the urge to run naked through the streets strumming an out-of-tune ukulele while singing ‘Karma Chameleon’. Well, our friend retrograde Mercury is the reason you want to do that. Personally, it has always been on my list of Things To Do, but that’s just me.
Another example: The last few days, I could not figure out for the life of me why I was murdering people and planting them in the front yard, until I realized Mercury was all retrograde-this, retrograde-that. Instead of sensibly burying the bodies in the back yard as I usually do, my brain was addled from the primal retrogradial soup, and as a result I was tossing the damn things in the front yard where anybody could see. That’s the thing with retrograde Mercury, it just gets into your brain and messes with your thoughts. Your brain on retrograde Mercury is a disaster.
A friend of mine, Cate Eales, recently posted her Virgo horoscope on Facebook:
We may feel as if we're stuck in a loop today if we seek answers by repeatedly analyzing the same data over and over again. We are faced with a dilemma as the logical Virgo Moon opposes imaginative Neptune to stimulate our dreams. However, retrograde Mercury backs into hard-nosed Saturn, requiring us to have all our facts in order. Unfortunately, the truth remains elusive no matter how many times our minds run around in the same circles.
You see what I mean? Poor Cate spent that day in some kind of cosmic endless-loop hell of retrogradedness. As you can see by the horoscope, the ever-logical-but-kinda-drama-queenish Virgo moon had a hissy fit and snapped at fun-loving whacko Neptune, giving Cate a nightmare about having to appear in this column again, then Mercury came wandering in backwards to fight against snotty Saturn who whacked Mercury upside the head with one of her rings. In the meantime, Cate was chasing down facts to put them in order. And in the end it was all for naught, because apparently the truth was dizzy from running around in circles.
Horoscopes can be tricky to interpret, but no worries, it’s what I do best.
One bit of advice from astrological experts: back up your computer, because Mercury is going to zap that sucker to kingdom come. My advice is, don’t do it. Empirical scientific studies show that when you restore data that was backed up during a retrogradification, the restored data will be in Latin, with misspellings and serious grammatical errors. Are you willing to take a chance? Haiku in poorly structured Latin is generally a fail.
No need to panic about this situation, dire though it is. Just take reasonable precautions, don’t buy anything, sell anything, work, play, fall in love, fall out of love, think, go anywhere, or do anything. Not really a big deal, if you’re lazy like me.
See you on the flip-side of the retrograde.
Retrograde Mercury predictions
Jo Slade - Story:
Oct 21, 2013 / 6:00 am
Read more Old as dirt. Twice as gritty. articles
So, you’re looking out at the sunshine, and when you see the words ‘winter is a meme’, you’re thinking, “Umm, no . . . no thanks. I don’t want to know about winter. Go away.”
Thing is, though, short of running off to Hawaii, winter is headed your way. Not only that, it is feeling bitter and resentful because of the love we all gave to summer. And it knows how to let us know about its hurt feelings. Winter is mean like that.
And to be honest, there’s really only one thing you can do about winter coming: Create a ‘winter is coming’ meme for the ‘Winter is coming’ meme contest http://forums.castanet.net/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=53475
, and ideally, you should try to win it, because the first place prize is a $100 gift certificate for The Train Station Pub.
Winter isn’t anywhere nearly as bad with suds ‘n’ fud.
But, you wonder, what exactly IS a meme. Ha, you’ve come to the right place, because I’m totally the go-to person for that information:
The Jo Slade Dictionary Definitions-O-Rama:
Meme: (rhymes with seem): This word means a whole whack of things, none of which matter in the least because the only definition that counts these days is this one: ‘A picture commonly seen on the internet, with words’.
Most contests have a condition or two, and this one is no exception. In order to enter, you must be a member of the Castanet Discussion Board. Now, the Castanet Board has a bit of a reputation, which is sometimes well-earned (ie, during election season). Things can get rowdy. But there’s another side to the forums, one that is a bit crazy but also fun.
Although politics brings out the worse in forum members (just as it does in ‘real’ life), there’s plenty of other topics discussed. The environment, health, religion, silly-stuff, do-it-yourself stuff, news stories, and more. People discuss all the things that worry us, make us angry, make us laugh.
And sometimes, members even come together and make a difference in ‘real’ life. Several years ago, one of our members, a dog owner, had to move. and the place he found did not take pets. He posted about his problem on the forum, and was able to find a member who would take his dogs, but they needed their unfinished fence in the back yard to be finished in order to accommodate the dogs. Our long-time moderator ‘ferri’ jumped in and suggested that maybe the Castanet membership could get together and help, and that’s exactly what they did. A group of them went over to the house, and finished the fence. Happy ending, especially for those dogs.
I think of this forum community as being rather like a big family reunion. And at this family reunion, as with most, there are social butterflies, wits, political pundits, hot-heads, tipsy souls, intellectuals, snobs, slobs, oddballs, raving crazies, and, of course, a cat-lady. When you get all those types mixed together in one bag, things can get pretty interesting.
What people like about an online forum is the anonymity, which gives them the ability to speak their mind reasonably free of restrictions, thereby keeping their ‘real life’ friends and family from murdering them. That is the upside of anonymity, and is sometimes also the downside.
I have an acquaintance who is an exceptionally nice person. She is shy in company, always very polite, very low-key, but on a discussion board, she becomes a tiger. An outspoken tiger at that. On a discussion board, it always pays to remember that the super-feisty member that drives you crazy might well be a shy person who has simply found an outlet.
What are you waiting for? There’s a contest to be won!
Join up and pitch in (you need 25 posts to qualify for the contest). Then all you have to do is create a kill-them-with-laughter meme that will turn the Meme Gods into hysterically laughing maniacs. Since they are usually pretty much on the edge of being hysterically laughing maniacs anyway, it shouldn’t be that hard to tip them.
And there are no losers in this contest, because whether you win that prize or not, you will have won new friends. Not to mention a new forum addiction. There should be a warning label for that. . . .
So, check out the meme blanks here: http://imgflip.com/memegenerator
then > choose a meme blank > create something funny about winter coming > click ‘private’ when image is the way you want it > click ‘download’ > send your downloaded image to me at [email protected]