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Archive for the ‘Paranormal Activity’ Category

I love the Halloween Season!

I don’t like roller coasters, slasher movies, or walking home alone in the dark, but give me pumpkins, witches, and skeletons, evil laughs, Frankenstein, Dracula or Mummy movies, a Milky Way, and I’m a happy camper.

In my younger days, I had my goth costume moments, and I did dress up as a vampiress to my husband’s priest,and for a cozy what-if scare I will watch Ghost Hunters with my daughter (she sure does know how to scare herself).

But Halloween is pure fun.

I used to make my kids’ costumes. They were so adorable! My son was a devil (red pj’s, glued on devil horns, a pitchfork—watch out dog!—and once he figured out why the heck I was dragging him around in this outfit, he’d run up to people’s doors chanting ‘candy’! He was 2 ½ ), Zorro, Batman (yes, I made that one despite all the readily available costume shop ones), a pirate, a ninja, and the Prince of Thieves. My daughters have been Sailor Moon (reused several times, a fabulous costume if I do say so myself), princesses (from old bridesmaids gowns, got a lot of mileage there), and then I went to buying costumes, because, well, because, so we had cheerleaders, vampires, and mermaids. Did we do a black widow or ghost bride? Oh, maybe that was me.

Then we went to Zombie soccer players, and minimalist outfits (ie, sweats) and make-up, bloody scars, out with the friends and see ya, mom! Sigh.

So now, only my youngest goes out trick or treating, with friends, and my house must be a little spooky, because I get very few little goblins knocking on my door. I do put on the light. The dog is loud, maybe?

Anyway, I could go on and on about Halloween fun and the joy of a good scare, but I’ll leave it at this.

The spirit world is the closest to ours on the Eve of Hallowmas, or Samhain, depending who and where you are. Roast some pumpkin seeds, light a candle for the dead, ring some bells, and definitely go for the Treat over the Trick.

And I hope you don’t get egged!

Good Halloween Movies

Really old, really creepy. I mean, really. If it’s late and you’re alone, and you watch this thing, you WILL be scared! NOSFERATU—1922, b&w, silent. It’s in the public domain. Creep Factor=HIGH! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcyzubFvBsA

THE MUMMY—with Boris Karloff—ooh, that close-up of him! Kissing dead things. That vat of embalming fluid. This is both a love story and a creep-fest. Creep Factor=MED

THE MUMMY—Brendan Fraser—I adore #1 and #2. Creep Factor=LOW Although those scarab beetles, ugh! Some good gross-out moments, too. Fun Factor=HIGH

DRACULA—oh, pick any of the dozens of movies out there! Children of the Night, indeed. Creep Factor= SOME CREEPIER THAN OTHERS, SOME STUPIDER, TOO

Frankenstein, Wolfman—hey, I’m a traditionalist! And for a laugh—it still holds up, ABBOT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN. They meet a lot of other fun characters, too. And who can forget YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, the Mel Brooks comedy with Gene Wilder and many other fabulous people. Oh, Sweet Mystery of Life!

And for a good black and white ghost story, and I probably mentioned it before, try THE UNIVITED (1944) with Ray Milland.

A lot of people tend to ignore movies made in black and white, but if you’re up for something different, I say give it a try! There is nothing like a spooky black and white movie at this (or any) time of year.

And for a fun Halloween TV treat, if you didn’t catch the Halloween episode of The Office, give it a whirl. It was funny, and good. If you missed it, check out HULU http://www.hulu.com/watch/292804/the-office-spooked James Spader’s Scary Story was Excellent.

Nothin’ to fear but fear itself!

Any Halloween tips to share, a favorite costume, or favorite scary movie? Love this holiday or hate it?

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…or not?

I, like many other book lovers, have a TBR (To Be Read) pile on the high side. And not a lot of time, sadly. But I made a summer promise to catch up on some paranormal series that I’ve wanted to read, and I made a ‘pact’ of sorts with my 13 year old daughter, also an avid reader.

She loves, loves, loves the Percy Jackson books, so she wanted to share them with me. Isn’t that sweet? So I read them, and I liked them a lot. It really was fun to share books with her. Mother/daughter bonding time.

As I’ve had to take the train to work lately, I asked her for something to read—well, she hemmed and hawed (you have to hear the list of instructions I get when I read one of her books: no eating, drinking, no creasing the spine, no dust jackets, and no folding pages. I don’t fold pages, but the other stuff…ok, it happens)

She knows me well, so she went back and forth with her treasured Fablehaven and a book she had yet to read, Hunger Games. Hunger Games won. And yes, it got a little smushed in the train ride, so now I owe her an unsmooshed copy (not that I didn’t buy it for her in the first place)

But I LOVED the book.  I even went out and bought the rest of them (3 in the series) Hardcover, so my BN discount not-withstanding, not the cheapest way to read.

So before I embark on another series beginning, I’d like to touch on the four series I got to from my list, 2 in the YA zone and 2 in the adult zone.  Feel free to comment or share your take on them!

PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANSRick Riordan.

YA–8-12 yr. old zone–

Percy Jackson and FriendsThere are 5 in the first series, all told from Percy’s POV. Great premise: the Greek gods are real, and still around, and they still do what they’ve always done, have human lovers, so their half-god children have special powers, and also are in special danger. Thus Camp Half-Blood, where young heroes are trained. I love Percy’s school issues—ADHD, and dyslexia—which become signs of his special nature (it seems all half-breeds have trouble reading anything but ancient Greek) There are adventures, a circle of friends, some of whom die so be prepared for that. There’s an unfolding prophecy to deal with, and coming of age, and paranormal-magical issues, who your true friends are, and there’s even some love stories in there. Annabeth is a great heroine, and Percy is brave and loyal and goes to great lengths for his friends. Lots of how do you deal with absentee parents? And how do you overcome fate, or make it work for you? Lots of things for kids to enjoy, and adults as well. 4 stars

HUNGER GAMES TRILOGY—Suzanne Collins

YA—13+ for tough subject matter, though lots of younger kids have read this—-soon to be a movie, March 2012-ish

Hunger Games CoverBe forewarned, these books are dark. Set in a post-apocalyptic America, the stories are told from Katniss Everdeen’s POV, a 16 year old girl from District 12, under the repressive regime of Panem and President Snow and the Peacekeepers. As punishment for a failed rebellion from the subsequently-annihilated (or was it) District 13, the remaining districts must send a boy and a girl each year to the Hunger Games where they fight each other to the death until only one is left. Nasty stuff, right? Katniss’ sister gets chosen, and Katniss volunteers to take her place. Also chosen is Peeta, the boy who’s had a crush on Katniss since he was 5. So, lots of kids die, lots of terrible bad awful things happen, and then things get worse in books 2 and 3. But it’s a good story. Dark and difficult, violent, graphic, but good.

These books are not without flaws. It’s all told through Katniss’ eyes, and sometimes you’d like someone else’s perspective. And towards the end, she is a basket case. But Katniss is a survivor under it all. Would your 13 year old like these books? Not 100% sure, but IMO, probably.  Quick read.  Well written. 4-5 stars.

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Grown Up Series—so not for the 13 year old set!

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BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD SERIES—JR Ward

9 books, and counting, but I gave up (dark, violent, steamy, kinky)

Dark Lover coverI wasn’t going to talk about this series, because I have mixed feelings about it. But, heck, here goes. First, JR Ward is a fabulous writer. I think she has a brilliant way of expressing her dark vision, and a unique twist on vampires. And twisted it becomes as things go deeper into the world.

Be forewarned, this series is not for the faint of heart. Dark, violent, and often flat out strange and even icky, there are moments of brilliance, and moments of not-so-much. And lots of weird spelling that grates on you after a while.

I stuck it out for 8, though I’m not 100 percent happy I did.

I liked book one, about Wrath and Beth. Wrath is the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and the King of his vampire race, when he finally accepts his role. I like him the best of the Brothers.

Rhage–LOVER ETERNAL–I was surprised how much I liked his story, and his dragon. Pretty cool.

Zsadist & Bellayou see what I mean about the spelling?LOVER AWAKENED–this was probably my favorite book. Talk about a tortured hero! But it had some of the most beautiful, healing sex/love scenes. Sigh. A keeper.

Then we get to the books I didn’t care for. I really liked these Brothers when they were secondary characters in the previous books, but now, I was…disappointed. Oh, I forgot! I did like Butch and Marissa LOVER REVEALED. There was a shade of bisexuality between him and BFF Vishous, but that never gets acted on.

Vishous–LOVER UNBOUND–does get a mate of the female persuasion in his own book, but the strongest relationship of his life is Butch. Vishous! He’s mean, likes S&M. He’s the S in the equation. Not appealing to me at all. Did I buy that his Jane did some of the hurting on him? Do people go from one side of the equation to the other? Not sure, don’t care. He got less likeable as the series went on, and not just because of the S&M deal, until—I just don’t like him.

Phury—LOVER ENSHRINED–I can’t tell you how upset I was by the twists in his character. From a vampire of tortured nobility and honor to…a drug addict? Not cool, and the reasons for it, not good enough.

Rhevenge, LOVER AVENGED, who I like, except for the drug-dealing thing. Yeah. Kind of an off-putting occupation for a hero, right?

On the sidelines, there’s a gay romance between two of the younger generation of Brothers, that’s a thread through a bunch of the books. Then there’s LOVER MINE, John’s story, the reincarnated Brother who was Darius, Beth’s father who dies in book 1. John falls in love with Xhex, who was a girl Darius rescued in his previous life. Yeah, it’s complicated.

And the bad guys are really weird and gross. Baby powder scent though, that is creepy!  Kudos there.

So why am I mentioning this mixed bag of a series? Because it started out so good, and when it was good, it was really good.

For me, the series took a left turn that I kept waiting to lead somewhere, and it ended up somewhere I didn’t like. And the character changes I saw from beginning to the middle, those were disappointing.

On the plus, it’s an interesting, dark world, and there will be some stories you might enjoy. Lots of people like the whole thing. It’s on plenty of best-seller and top series lists.

1st 3 books, 4-5 stars, book 4—3.5 stars—books 5-6-7 2-3 stars, 8—3 stars.

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NIGHT HUNTRESS SERIES—Jeaniene Frost

6 and counting, plus 2 and counting in the secondary character spin offs

Cat & BonesCat Crawfield is a half-vampire vampire hunter who runs up against Master Vampire Bones, and whew! Fun, games, sex, violence, killing, death, dismemberment, a bad dad, vampires galore, ghouls, ghosts, voodoo, mysteries, plots, secrets,  and secret government entities—not to mention a splendid love story or two—what’s not to love?

I think this series is flat out fun. I suppose it’s dark-ish, and is self-described more urban fantasy romance than paranormal romance.  Many dark elements. All told from Cat’s POV. And there is some kinky sex that pushes it a bit. Not my cuppa, but ok, I’ll deal. Cat got a little whiny there for a bit in some books, but overall, she’s fun and Bones is awesome. Some touching, emotional moments. And character growth over the course of the books, plus the deepening relationship between Cat and Bones is great. Good stuff!

My favorite vampire is Mencheres, though. OMG, love this Egyptian cutie. His story was great. Loved Spade, too, and can’t wait to read about Ian and Vlad (yes, that Vlad-Tepesh-don’t-call-me-Dracula aka the Impaler), but Mencheres. Sizzling.

4 to 5 ♥♥♥♥♥ here!

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Anybody read these, or feel they might want to? Have bonding moments with their children over books they both can read? Disagree with my take on things? Have other series they like/love/hate? Ever read a series that disappointed them as it went on?

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In Zombie Time—after 1 am, before 3 am—TV can be a challenge.

And sleep. You know, if you don’t make it to the pillow before 1 am, the brain does a little jump, and it’s harder to get it to shut down. At least, for me.

Also, things that you watch during Zombie Time, you might think they are better than they actually are. Because, you know, you’re tired. Maybe a little punchy.

And despite the hour, you’re in the Zombie Zone so you feel compelled to see it through to the end.

That said, MARS NEEDS WOMEN. It’s your classic B movie. OK, probably a C- -. Does that make it a D? Anyway, in that odd confluence that sometimes happens, the plot ended up being exactly the same as an episode of STARGATE SG1, ASCENSION. And yes, I was able to catch the gist of both these shows, even though they were on at the same time.

Both feature your classic tale of doomed love. Alien (surprisingly human-like) sees human woman, falls for her, woos her, and…yeah, you guessed it, it hits the fan. There’s military intervention. Some shooting. A little self-sacrifice. A woman without her alien cutie at the end. Tears. Fade to black.

OK, Major Sam Carter (Amanda Tapping) doesn’t cry much. But when she clutches the empty jeans of Orlin (Sean Patrick Flannery) the Ascended Cutie, you feel her pain. Sniff. He was/is a nice guy. Just, Ascended, so, no longer corporeal. Kinda sucks.

MARS NEEDS WOMEN—why, you might ask? Apparently there’s some kind of genetic mutation and they ran out of females on Mars. So, Earth being handy, they’ve come to get  some.

However, their dating/wooing skills aren’t fabulous, and volunteers being short on the ground, they decide kidnapping is the way to go. But scientist Dr. Bolen (Yvonne Craig, later Bat Girl on the TV cult classic, Batman) is there to help. She catches the attention of Martian operative Dop (Tommy Kirk) (really? ‘Dop’?) who decides he’s going to recruit her/spy on her, some combination of that. However, after he poses as a reporter, he catches Dr. Bolen’s eye. Dop and the Doc go for a stroll and fall in love. He changes his mind about The Plan, and his buddies are all upset.

The military come and the Martians need to skedaddle, and Dop’s boss says, either she comes with us, or you do, and you know what’s going to happen to you when we get home. So, he goes.  He kisses his Doc goodbye, and confesses his love.

There are tears, guns, the women are saved, and the lonely scientist faces her future not knowing what happened to her Martian. Sigh.

In general, I like a happy ending in my romances. But these worked for me. Or maybe it was fun because they had the same plot. Maybe it was better to switch back and forth, less is more. Or maybe I was under the influence of the Zombie Zone!

Anybody have any Zombie Zone experiences? Favorite bad movies? Serendipitous alignment of plot? Feel compelled to watch something to the end, even though you know you should turn it off?

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Witches’ Brew from Wikipedia

a concoction of strange, powerful or terrifying ingredients

    • “Fillet of a fenny snake, In the cauldron boil and bake; Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.” Macbeth Act 4 Scene 1

——-

The whole idea that you can throw a few ingredients into a cauldron, mutter  particular words, stir carefully,  and end up with a powerful, reality-altering substance is completely fascinating. It could be for good, for ill, or to eat. Or any of those in combination.

Humans love to transform things, combine things, and hope for some serendipitous outcomes. There is a long history behind our recipes, trial and error, maybe a few, ahem, mistakes, but we have a great wealth of fabulous concoctions as a result.

So, praise the ancestors! Especially the ones who figured out chocolate.

Here are a few, slightly askew, cauldron concoctions. A caveat, any brews you try are at your own risk.

–WITCH’s BREW GAME–You’ve seen the cauldron, and I’m sure you’ve wondered what’s in it! But now you can throw some virtual ingredients into the cauldron yourself with this quick and fun online game.

http://www.flasharcade.com/arcade-games/play/witches-brew-game.html

–The WITCH’S GARDEN has some lovely cauldrons, and recipes. This site has extensive information about crystals, herbs, oils, and they sell things. Pretty cool.

http://www.thewitchsgarden.com/cauldronsaplenty.htm

–And if you’re interested in THINGS WICCAN, try a spin through here:

http://www.witchs-brew.org/wbrew.html

WITCHES BREW, the coffee house. And here is a fine coffee house—been around a long time, and the desserts, yum.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Witches-Brew/41854822214

WITCHES BREW–And a brew in earnest—a blond, triple living ale—whatever that means.

http://www.witchesbrewpub.com/

–WITCH’S BREW, the book, edited by Yvonne Jocks: Here you will find an interesting collection of short stories—from the likes of Shakespeare, Bronte, Koontz, Bradbury, Lackey, and many more.  A fun read! http://www.evelynvaughn.com/witchesbrew.htm

–And if you want to brew some potions of your own, you might try THE KITCHEN WITCH’S GUIDE TO BREWS AND POTIONS. Again, at your own risk. But looks like fun!

Happy Brewing, All!

And check out the Google home page today for a quickie lunar eclipse—sadly we in North America were not able to see it, but there are some lovely pics out there.  http://www.google.com/

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I don’t know what it is, but I like saying it. Chupacabra!

Yet I’m scared of it at the same time. It’s part of that unknown, bump-in-the-night, creepy, scary, there’s something out there that wants to EAT you! thang.

Apparently El Chupacabra  lives in Puerto Rico, and perhaps Mexico, Central America, Texas, and possibly as far north as Maine (maybe it’s looking for Stephen King) It sucks blood from goats and other animals, but smaller than cows. Ew.

And I learned a new vocab word in pursuit of this mythic creature: cryptid. That means a creature or plant whose existence has been ‘suggested’ but is not recognized by science. Plus the actual existence of said creature or plant is regarded as highly unlikely by regular science.

But this is precisely the kind of creature that’s of great interest to cryptozoologists, who are the folks you’re likely to find ‘in search of’ (a roll back shout out to Leonard Nimoy) cryptids, such as the Loch Ness Monster, Sasquatch, and, well, chupacabras.

El Goat Sucker, sightings of which can be traced back to 1995 Puerto Rico, may or may not be the size of a small bear, with a row of spines reaching from neck to tail. It may or may not be upright and look like a cross between your classic big-eyed alien and a lizard.

OR it could be more of a diseased animal type thing—a supposed chupacabra was caught and killed in 2010, but upon scientific examination, the creature was discovered to be a coyote with a severe parasitic infection. Uh-huh. Some scientists have theorized that the beginning of the chupacabra legend stems from coyotes suffering from scabies and mange, which would make them look awful and odd.  Or perhaps it’s the result of too many viewings of the 1995 movie, Species. Add the dark, the rain forest, some odd blood-drained corpses, and perhaps a little rum, and you might be seeing chupacabras, too.

So, skeptic, or believer? The evidence is somewhat skimpy, granted.

But, as my friend Nancy Bluhm once said, the truth can really mess up a good story.  So what do you think? A weird little blood-sucking animal? Or…?

Here are some pictures to help you decide.

A supposed chupacabra found (dead) in Texas. Chickens drained of blood. Ew. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,295481,00.html

Just plain weird, but shows good effort. I got it from here, but I couldn’t tell you where this guy got it from. http://upsidedownhippo.com/archives/2007/10/index.html

Hmph. INteresting.

YOU TUBING THE MONSTER

And if you want a good little JUMPY moment, cruise on over to this you tube video of some guys on the hunt for the elusive Goat Sucker. Nice and creepy. Be Forewarned, there is cussing in Spanish.

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Is the truth ‘out there’ for you? (Long live Mulder and Scully!)

As a writer of paranormal romance, I love how reality TV has branched out into the paranormal field. Who doesn’t want to believe in ghosts, aliens, and sasquatch? The possibilities inherent in the strange, and human connections to the unseen world are fascinating.

Science has debunked a lot of superstitions, but at our core, we humans know that the universe is large, mysterious, and dangerous. Fear of the dark is atavistic—and wise. But there are those who go boldly forth to confront the mysteries and try to make sense of them.

For those of you who think applying the scientific method to the paranormal is a contradiction in terms, Paranormal TV—probably not your cuppa. But the rest of us—come huddle round the fire, my friends!

GHOST HUNTERS http://www.the-atlantic-paranormal-society.com/  and on SyFy http://www.syfy.com/ghosthunters/ Love, love, love Jason and Grant—two plumbers who moonlight as paranormal investigators.

Stop right there! The awesomeness of that premise alone is killer, as well as alliterative. Steve and Tango? The best sidekicks. Nobody does scared better than Steve, except maybe Tango. Amy and the New Guy (Adam)— adorable! (again with the alliteration, it’s a disease) And the dog, Maddie, she’s awesome. And Jason rescued her and trained her, extra points for that. Also, love the gadgets!

Other Ghost Hunting / Haunting Shows—

GHOST HUNTERS ACADEMY—SyFy—they already picked their guy, Adam, but it was lots of fun watching Steve and Tango screen their potential coworkers in the paranormal. Next time, I’m putting in my application! http://www.syfy.com/ghosthuntersacademy/  Also GHOST HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL—travel and see haunted castles, not too shabby. Might be a little cold and damp, though.

PARANORMAL STATE—A&E, http://paranormalresearchsociety.org/ not on currently, but I’m sure it’ll be back—A&E isn’t that good about showing episodes, try HULU

FACT OR FAKED—SyFy—the team chooses a case and goes out in the field to try and debunk it—or maybe they can’t and it’s…a real mystery! http://www.syfy.com/factorfaked/about

GHOST ADVENTURES—Travel Channel, http://www.travelchannel.com/TV_Shows/Ghost_Adventures

A HAUNTING–Discovery Channel, I get scared just looking at the website http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/haunting/haunting.html

Paranormal TV Channel on HULUhttp://www.hulu.com/paranormal-tv Oh, you could spend days in there, my friends, days. It might even be its own dimension.

Anybody have any other paranormal shows on their favs list? Or, perhaps, a ghost tale of their own?

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