Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tales from the Darkside Christmas Trilogy Part 3: The Yattering and Jack

With the new year just around the corner, it's time for one more adventure to the Darkside. The final season once again returned to offering up both Halloween and Christmas episodes. Sadly, while that autumn special was quite enjoyable, the holiday tale was the weakest so far.

“The Yattering and Jack” is based on a story by Clive Barker, but don't think for a ,inute that it's filled with the usual religious symbolism and gore. This is a silly tale about a man named, you guessed it, Jack. Old Jack has a problem. Shit keeps going south in his house. Electronics blow up, fish boil in their tank. Anything that can go wrong usually does. Much as this would torment normal folk, Jack keeps the blues away with the old song “que sera sera. Whatever will be, will be.” Before long we're treated to the cause of all this trouble. A tiny demon called a yattering played by Phil Fondacaro. It's always great to see Phil in action. Perhaps it's a sloppy choice of words but he's one of the titans of little actors.
So the Yattering is doing his damnedest to Drive Jack crazy so the guy will curse god. This is all a ruse by the devil who really wants Jacks' soul for some reason. Yattering feels like he's making zero progress. No matter what he does to Jack, the old fool just repeats that same damn song. If only the little devil could up his game and strike at Jack directly. The devil notes that physical contact is a big no no.
Before too long, Jack's Daughter shows up. She wants to spend Christmas with her dad though she notices that his house is a disaster. Jack tries his best to come up with excuses and draw her away from the house to do some grocery shopping. This leads to the best part of the whole episode where the yattering takes control of an uncooked turkey, making it wear pearls and fly about the room before finally settling on top of the Christmas tree and gobbling the whole time.

Jack continues to ignore most of the irritations which makes the yattering go crazy in his quest to terrorize the old man. In his fury he mistakenly breaks that special rule and touches his pray which makes him Jack's slave, forever.
We learn that Jack knew about the Yattering, the bid for his soul, everything. And he'd been trying to make the demon screw up this whole time. Apparently the devil wanted his soul because his mom or grandma, or whoever (can't remember) was a high end witch and screwed the devil out on a deal. Jack doesn't care about any of that though. He's got a supernatural slave for a all of eternity. The yattering remarks that Jack probably won't get into heaven with a demon slave but you can guess the old dudes response.
Notice how I hardly mentioned Christmas? Yea, this one uses the holiday more as set dressing than anything else. That's a shame as a little more merriment would've helped immensely. Darkside tried its hand at comedy every now and then, usually with lackluster results. While this one isn't terrible, it's not all the special either. It tries to be funny without much luck and is only scary for those awful people who get freaked out by dwarfs. Yet there's still a certain charm to the whole endeavor. Maybe it's the simple storyline or Jacks upbeat attitude, Ok, it's probably the possessed turkey. Just keep expectations in check for this episode to not live up to the other Christmas tales. I'd even suggest viewing this one in the middle of the trilogy so you end on a better note.

That's it! More than likely this will be my last post of 2014. I have no plans to recap the year cause frankly, even with everything I accomplished, this year sucked and I'm stoked for a fresh start. Got a nice job interview next week, and I aim to accomplish even more of my big time goals in the coming year. So to my small readership, I hope you all have a decent new year's celebration, and I'll see you in January.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Tales from the Darkside Christmas Trilogy Part 2: Seasons of Belief

Continuing from the other day, we move on to Season 3 of Darkside. This was the first and only season to not have a Halloween episode which was countered by going full speed with the Christmas tale. While the other holiday eps simply happen to be based around the same time as the Christmas, this one is wholly dependent on the day.

The entire episode takes place in a happy little home with an even split population of mom, dad, son, and daughter. Though you might be confused as the age difference between ma & pa is bizarre. To put it in proper context, the dad is played by E.G. Marshall who was one of the grandparents in Christmas Vacation just a few years later. Dude's got close to forty years on the actress playing the mom! Maybe they just had E.G. on contract and threw him in wherever. Still; you can't watch this one without getting some weird vibes about the parents back-story. Definitely a sugar daddy situation.
Anyway; it's Christmas eve and the family's just chillin at home. Diner's over and now comes the long wait for Santa Claus. As the parents have decided to have an old fashioned Christmas the family won't be watching TV or anything like that. They have to deal with each other tonight.
It's established early on that the kids are a little mouthy and the parents are big fibbers. They give the kids some story about Santas switch that breaks your gifts when you insult him. Naturally the toy train set kicks it then and there. Foreshadowing!

Eventually the lil brats get bored and start begging for a story. Problem is, they already know all of them.....or do they? Mom & Dad commence telling them the scariest of all Xmas tales, about a hideous beast known as the grither. Oh and don't say that name out loud or else he'll hear it and come for you. Not to mention that every subsequent utterance makes him hasten in reaching your house to eat you.

This is both the strength and weakness of the tale. It's essentially watching someone set up the biggest joke they can think of. In scene after scene the parents come up with more B.S to back up their story. They even go so far as to change the lyrics of “Come All Ye Faithful” to “I Am The Grither.”
Before long, the kids are close to pants wetting levels of terror which peaks when their uncle burst through the front door looking like a mutant Sherpa. It's at this point that the parents decide to defuse the situation by telling the kids that just like Santa, the grither is make-believe and thous neither of them are coming to the house tonight.
Daughter dearest reminds everyone of some arbitrary rule about finishing the grither's story before he arrives. As if on cue, a freak blizzard opens the front door blowing people to and fro. Once the snow has settled and everyone thinks it's safe, two enormous white and veiny arms burst through the windows and grab ma & pa by their heads before snapping their little necks. Which leaves everyone else with unopened presents and a lifetime of therapy sessions. 
While it lacks the variety and symbolism of “Monsters in my Closet,” “Seasons of Belief” works on it's pure Christmas setting and the odd sensation of watching two people go out of their way to torment their own children. Those kids should probably thank the grither for sparing them of future holidays with the pricks they call parents. Maybe that was the greatest gift of all.
There's still one more episode to cover. Depending on how much stuff is going on, I may be able to get that to you all late Christmas night. Otherwise I wish you all a very merry day. Hopefully you get some good gifts and a few nice memories. Failing that, you can always get bombed on eggnog. Have a good one everybody.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tales from the Darkside Christmas Trilogy Part 1: Monsters in my Closet

Tales from the Darkside may not have the pop culture cache or star power that Tales from the Crypt flaunted but it had low budget heart. Like it's more popular competition, it also spawned plenty of lame duck episodes. When it got its shit together though the result was some outstanding TV.
With Christmas starring us right in the eye, let's take a trip to a place that is “just as real, but not as brightly lit” for some yule tide misery.
Monsters in my closet stars a creepy young Seth Green as Timmy. Tim's a pretty standard weeny. He collects stuffed animals, doesn't have many friends, and lets mommy sing him to sleep at night. He's fine with who he is but his step-dad sure aint. Biff is a full time nutsack. Every second with him is about beer, football, guns, and old sea chanteys. And we all now nothing says manly like musically inclined sailors. Biff only has one discernible goal in life, to man that boy up.

At the start, the gab between Timmy and Biff isn't too much of a problem. They have at least one awkward conversation per day while the mom continues to tell each of them to give the other a chance. Frankly I don't understand Biffs' persistence. Couldn't he just give the cold shoulder like any emotionally abusive step-father?

Things really start to get out of hand on Christmas. Biff gives Timmy a toy machine-gun which the kid feigns just enough interest in it until mommy gives him this giant stuffed Panda of his dreams. Normally, I wouldn't judge the kid as I once saved up thirty clams for a stuffed tiger that totally kicked ass. However; Timmy's panda is scary as all fuck!
It's about this time that various monsters we've only briefly glimpsed before decide to go after the poor kid. His collection if tormenters include a troll guy that lives in the closet, an octopus under the bed, and a buzzsaw. Now let's make it perfectly clear that I don't mean some kind of chopping mall style killer robot, it's just a big round saw blade that rolls across the kid's room at full rotation. These creatures send Timmy into a tizzy that naturally makes his step-dad act like an even bigger dick.
Eventually Timmy overcomes his fear of the monsters since, let's face it, they're not as bad as the drunk guy who bitches about him every night. We've got some symbolism going here folks and we're about to add to it. After getting in a fight with Biff where the kid tells the old man how him and his mom are strong and Biff's a weakling, the kid proceeds tell those spooks what's what. All that yelling leaves him in need of a trip to the thunderbucket where he encounters a new one in the guise of a witch. His resolve suddenly lost, Timmy tries to go to the other bathroom which Biff isn't having. The guy follows Tim back to his room for a good old fashioned whooping. He never gets to strike the kid as the witch and her minions descend on the poor bastard.
Biff's death is blamed on a heart attack no matter how much Timmy tells everyone that the monsters did it. The last shot is him being sent to his room which now has a sign warning of monsters.

This isn't one of those stories that really has much to do with Christmas, but it benefits from taking place during that time. Like many other Darkside tales, there's a lot of stuff that could be built on. Like what the hell happens next? Will the monsters come back for Timmy? Are they now his servants who dispose of anyone that displeases him? Where they real, or some psychic projection? You can't deny how the timing of the witch appearing after Tim defends his mother. That's part of the charm to these shows though, you're not meant to fully understand so much as piece things together and maybe even create your own wrap up. I like to think of Timmy entering high school in command of a secret army of night terrors.

Tomorrow we're moving onto season three to meet a fine fellow called the Grither. See you then.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Almost Xmas

Now that's more like it. When I started this entry, my holiday cheer was running pretty low. As luck would have it, I've come across a fair share of holly jolly junk food, wrapped some gifts, and gotten some cards from strangers. After a few weeks of the holidays feeling off, it seems like everybody remembered it's celebration time. Naturally this means revisions in order to scare up some cheer for any of you out there feeling festivly challenged.
Those goodies I mentioned; the majority of them were nabbed in one go through wally world. Pretty much everything you see was a success. Oh, and let's not forget the peppermint drumstick variety pack. It was a fine feast after breaking through the previous nights bout of venison flavored food poisoning. Now I can't say anything positive about the soda flavored candy canes just yet. We try to keep those on the tree for as long as possible until candy lust overcomes our better judgment. Once that process has taken place, I'll report back to you.

Tonight brought in another round of goodies and by god, I finally found the Christmas cereals! Just had a bowl of Sugar Cookie Toast crunch and it was surprisingly mellow. Very much like a batch of homemade cookies it wasn't overbearing and it was just a tad dry. I imagine the cookie crisp will lean towards the more headache inducing store bought style cookies. That negativity is mostly coming from years of wondering whether regular cookie crisp was always so gross or if one of us changed. The chocolate covered potato chips and gingerbread latte are fine and dandy. Really haven't encountered a single dud in on the seasonal food front so far, which leaves me somewhat more comfortable in how I waste my cash.

There's also been two new additions to my usual line up of holiday traditions. First up is a secret Santa program through my thrift guild on Boardgamegeek. Already finished buying and shipping for my target and made some deals with other members to get even more items shipped out to him. The whole thing has me feeling good overall with the downside being that I've seen/heard nothing from my own Santa. Here it is with less than two weeks until the big day and it's driving me nuts. It's almost like being a kid again in that you have very little clue what's coming but you want it right now!
The other new addition is from the same website only it's a card exchange. Never been much of one to send out cards. Mostly see them as a cheap replacement for actual generosity, yet mailing em out to strangers is downright pleasant. Maybe it's that you've got no baggage with these people. You're not gritting your teeth thinking of how they didn't come to your barbecue because of course they didn't come to your barbecue! They live half a world away! It's such an inexpensive way of sending out some good mojo and getting some in return. Originally I wanted to make up a CD of some obscure Christmas music I.E “Here Comes Santa in a Red Canoe, but as you can probably guess, I slacked off and just sent out mildly personalized cards. The first two cards I received were also of the standard variety, nothing wrong with that. Then the third had a CD, though with more notable songs like Rudolph. Than the forth put us all to shame. A couple from Poland sent me a homemade card with it's own unique message along with a quote by Ben Franklin and it was adorned with a homemade ornament. No fooling. Complete strangers from eastern Europe made an ornament for me. Gonna use them as inspiration for next year cause they don't fuck around when it comes to Christmas cards.

Ohh I know there's so much more to report on. Every item in this entry could easilly be covered in greater detail. I'm just so excited for this week. Dunno if anyone reading this lives in a multi-generational home but anytime a few people flee for a few days is like a vacation, and I haven't had one of those in forever. It's amazing how much difference the absence of two people can make for just a few days. There will be less chores, a lot less noise, pure comfort. What a great little gift from the universe. And it gives me the perfect opportunity to work on my Christmas special. I'm actually considering making a weekly show starting next year. I mean my show's aren't great and Christ knows if I've got any viewers but just the knowledge that I have my own show is pretty invigorating. And sure I don't get paid but that frees me from feeling like I have to live up to expectations. Cause really, what can anyone expect from a one man show with exactly zero budget? Any episode where I don't sit around in my boxers drooling on myself should be considered a hit.

I'd better wrap this one up before sleep takes over. I've got some more stuff planed before Christmas strikes,so stay jolly out there and see you soon.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving Fallout 2014

So the site's been a little neglected lately, yea? It's true. My bad. November rushed past in a sleepy blur, and boy do I mean sleepy. Swear I must have spent at least one whole week in bed for no reason other than why not? In truth I accomplished quite a few things in turkey month (though novel progress has stalled dramatically). From another tv special, work, some more personal PC education, and even a couple of first time experiences, it wasn't an awful month, just awfully short lived.
I'm sure most of you are probably still feeling the leftover pangs of Thanksgiving in your guts. While not my favorite holiday by quite a long shot, I still look forward to the few traditions I've attached to it. The first one to be indulged this year was my new booze gift set. This year I went with the shine.
Midnight Moon. Hadn't really tried it before outside of this one goofy mixed drink I took down during my nephews birthday (thank you Logan's Roadhouse!) which already put it high on the interest list. What put it through the roof and right in top place were the teeny tiny mason jar shot glasses along with a mason jar pour spout. The shot glasses are just straight up fun. Makes you fill like a giant sized hillbilly. the spout presents a much more interesting project as I can now store any homemade krupnik or candy vodkas in jars with easy access come drinky time.
Now I ended up with the apple pie variety, which seems to be the only kind in gift set form. I would've liked some choice in the matter but lucky for me it ain't half bad. Sorta has a melted candle/cinnamon candy aura to it without being overpowering. Mixes decently with other stuff, especially ginger ale. Trick is, it's a major sleepy time drink. While it's low in alcohol, there's a whole warming medicinal quality to it that just makes ya start to drift off into slumber. I'd mark it as a success though cause I'm willing to give other flavors a go...just not during gift set season. There's a big box of tequila that's calling my name. God am I ever thirsty.
So the Macy's parade was more painful than ever this year. I usually DVR it as an endurance test to see how much corn my body can take but this one nearly took me down. Never ceases to amaze me how many musical acts they can put together out of people I've never heard of. Seriously folks; if you want to feel detached from modern pop culture just go to Macy's. All in all our favorite piece of the whole show was the absolutely horrid lip synch on seemingly all but one of the performers. Best ones were the people who just shoved the mic into their face so you couldn't see their mouth movements. That's the sign of an ace performance.
The third and final of my Thanksgiving traditions is the cinematic turkey. This year we laughed our way through Samurai Cop. Oh what a beauty this thing is. Absolutely getting a full article on here soon. I haven't had a smile that big since Flesheater. Found it a little odd that my brother kept turning to me to report that the movie was shit. Guess he doesn't get the meaning of “let's turn on a bad movie.”
There's other stuff I want to cover, but let's save that for a second post in a day or so. Gotta run into work, pour some coffee down my throat, and deal with some personal bizz as well. Should be a lot more updates this month, so stay with me folks.