Friday, October 29, 2010

Gothic Reading Challenge (2011)

There is nothing better than a great Gothic read - crumbling old castles, mysterious legends, shadowy characters, supernatural beings and unexplainable events, make for some of the most haunting and captivating reading imaginable.

There are four levels of participation to choose from:

A Little Madness - Read just 1 novel with Gothic elements.
The Darkness Within - Read 5 novels with Gothic elements.
A Maniacal Frenzy - Read 10 novels with Gothic elements.
Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know - Read 20 novels with Gothic elements.
Go to and read more about this challenge. There is also a list of Gothic books in case you have trouble finding any. I'm going to read Dracula and Jane Eyre for sure, I don't know what level I'm doing, probably The Darkness Within (5 novels). It is a year long challenge after all.

Anyone Hosting a Christmas Reading Challenge?

Not that I NEED one, because I read Christmas (Holiday) books yearly, but it is fun, and I get to see what others are reading. I've already found some books I want to read. And my personal challenge starts before the official ones do anyway. Mine usually run from November 1st until December 31st.

This year I'm not going to limit the number of books to read. I'm just going to read and see what comes out! Here are some of the books that made it to my list:

I figure I can read one a week and be done by or before Dec. 31. Six is my limit usually before I get tired of all the Joy and Good Will Toward Man. I will have to break them up with some other reading that is non-Holiday related.

View from my livingroom window. The leaves take longer to change here, but I really love the mix of green and reds, yellows and oranges. Some of you may scratch your head and wonder how someone who lives in The Bronx, is around so many trees. Well, The Bronx has a lot of Parks and Parkland. I live in an area called Parkchester. The trees are preserved. Outside my window are lots of trees and grass. Buildings too of course, as you can see, but it is a nice mix.

On Nov. 7th, me and my friend Clarissa (yes I have a friend named Clarissa) made a date to take pictures. I have only been on picture dates with one other friend. I love it, we feed off of each other. She is an excellent photographer, she was taking pictures for the yearbook in High School, and she was good then. She is amazing now, hope to learn a lot from her.

I am taking Clarissa (my daughter) trick-or-treating on Sunday. In my neighborhood the kids don't go from house to house or apartment to apartment, they trick-or-treat in the stores. There are a lot of stores in Parkchester and the neighboring areas such as Castle Hill Avenue and Westchester Avenue. The merchants sometimes even have people outside with chairs to give the candy out. Last year we had fun taking them around. I don't think any of her young friends will be with her, but perhaps one of our friends from church who is 18 will be joining us. Clarissa is dressing as Alice in Wonderland. Tonight is her Halloween Party, hope she has fun.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thursday Thirteen 93 (week 1 - round 2)

If any of you remember me, I am big on visual Thursday Thirteen's, with that said, Thirteen of my Favorite Horror Movies. Keeping in the spirit of Halloween.

Thirteen of my Favorite Horror Movies

1. Carrie (1976) - I will watch this movie every time it comes on TV. This is hands down, my favorite horror movie of all time.

2. Pet Sematary (1989) - Just the thought of burying something and it brings it back to life. Stephen King is twisted...I love it.

3. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) - The original is still the very best.

4. Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980) and Stephen King's The Shining (2007). Based ont he same book by King, nearly similar in story-line, but of course, King keeps his verson truer to his book and Kubrick's version is more theatrical. However, both work, both are very good. So they are tied since it is essentially the same movie.

5. The Mist (2007) - Stephen King wrote the story, but didn't have part in the screenplay. However, for something he had no part in, it was very, very good. I gave it 5/5 stars.

6. The Eye (2002) - Hong Kong version of this movie. Similar to the American version only creepier. If you liked the one with Jessica Alba, then you will really like this one.

7. The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) - Starring Vincent Price. A very good adaptation of the Poe classic story.

8. The Omen (1976) - Creepy kids are just creepy.

9. Creepshow (1982) - Stephen King's finest. Several short horror stories. My favorite one is "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" starring King himself.

10. Ju-on (The Grudge) (2002) - Creepy original version of (The Grudge). Japanese horror is pretty scary and unsettling.

11. Ju-on 2 (2003) - Japanse Horror sequal to Ju-on (The Grudge). Not as good as the first, but still pretty creepy.

12. Gothika (2003) - The newest edition to my horror list. I watched this in the dark and I was scared, I don't scare easily.

13. The Exorcist (1973) - I just watched it again this year.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

App for Nanowrimo

I discovered a new app. Someone posted about it on the Nanowrimo forums. I've been testing it out and I think it will work fine. Since I'm temping and don't know where I will be from one day to the next, and I do a lot of my nanoing at work, I will always have to remember to send my stuff home via email and to clean it off of the computer every day. What a pain, I thought. Then someone mentioned My Writing Nook. It is an on-line website where you can write from any computer and it is saved on-line, as opposed to on a hard drive. You can send yourself an email with it as well so you can have a back up. It has word count, It has dictionary and spell check. It also is an app for iphone/ipad/itouch/Android.

I was iffy about it, because sometimes when I am on the train, I get ideas. I hate to have to pull out my Molskine to write something. I was wondering if this would work, since it is on-line. But it does work. You can type anything, you can sync it later. You will never lose a thought.

This is put out by Google. I remember Google did something like this a few years ago, I think it was called Google Doc, but I don't know what happened to it, but I like this, especially because of the app.

So all of my nanoing this year will be done on this website & app. Check it out and see if it works for you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Hi everyone, I wanted to give an update.

I am currently working at a temp job in a cool Adverstising firm in Midtown. It is Long Term, but not sure how Long Term it is. The people are really nice, the work is easy but interesting, and my boss is a lovely woman. So right now, I'm happy!

* * *

Our choir entered a contest at NBC Today. Me and my friend Liz ran around trying to get this on a disc and sent off to the show before the deadline. My daughter took the video. Here is our little group (most everyone is there) and we are singing "Ave Verum Corpus" Elgar's version. I never really heard us before, we sound pretty damn good!

If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm the tall one in the center. I'm not really that tall, it is just that everyone else is below average in height. LOL!

* * *

October is almost over, and I have not read "Dracula" yet. Screw it! I will just read it whenever. I didn't read "The Exocist" yet either, and I purposly bought the book to read this month. But I will read this soon too. OK, maybe not until next January, because November is Nanowrimo, and at the moment I'm reading writing books, and "The Neville Reader". Once I'm finished with those, it is on to Christmas Reading. I have on my to read list "An Amish Christmas" as per Wendy.

October also means the end of the Horror movie fest. I've watched quite a bit of interesting stuff this month. Lots of Vincent Price, some Asian Horror and some recent stuff. I usually end up watching the Horror stuff until the 2nd week of November, because there is just so much. My daughter doesn't watch much of it with me, just the Vincent Price type stuff. Movies like "Halloween" and the like, she hides in the room. I did finally watch "Les Yeux Sans Visage" (Eyes Without a Face). It has been on my DVR for 2 years! My It was OK. I mean it was from 1959, and it had a good creepy atmosphere, but I don't know if it is the cinematic masterpiece everyone says it is. 3 out of 5 stars for me.

Once I'm done with the Horror, it is right into Holiday movies, which there seem to be no shortage of. One would thing I would have a hard time finding new stuff to watch, but nope. I will have a list this year as well. Not as much as last year, but a few things that might interest.

Speaking of Holiday's, I got my tickets for The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. You would think the fact that I live in New York City, I should be at this show every year, but this will be my first time in the 43 years I've been on this earth that I am going. My daughter has been after me for years, but it turns out, when the season comes, I'm strapped. Not so much this year, considering I don't have a steady job. But it will be just me and her, so the tickets were not that expensive. In the past, I would have had to pay for 4 tickets, but Mark is not interested (he will be around, it is Thanksgiving weekend that we are going), but I think he'd bop me on the head if I said "Let's go!". My mom is unemployed so she isn't coming, and she wouldn't let me buy her a ticket either. I hope I can get some good shots. We are on the 2nd Mezz off to the left, my camera lens is up to 200mm, we'll see.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Catholic Movies

Last year I did a post on Catholic Fiction. I found it interesting that there were some Catholic themed books out there that I had no idea were such. Now I will take a look at movies. Of course, some are obvious, while others are not. Some I've seen, some I have not, some I've heard of, others not.

Considering that Pope John Paul II wrote the play verison of The Jeweller's Shop (1988), I think it is safe to say that this is a Catholic Movie. Drama about three married couples and their ups and downs in holy matrimony. With a faithful jeweler acting as their spiritual adviser, three sets of husbands and wives struggle to live their lives with love, steering clear of avarice and infidelity. Must say away from those pesky deadly sins now!!

Brother Orchid (1940) is another movie I don't recall hearing about. The storyline sounds interesting. When retired racket boss John Sarto tries to reclaim his place and former friends try to kill him, he finds solace in a monastery and reinvents himself as a pious monk.

Well, just by looking at the cover I can see this is a Catholic Themed movie. I have never seen The Miracle of the Bells (1948), but I will put it on my list. I actually haven't heard of this one, and the synopsis sounds good: Granting her final request, a Hollywood press agent brings the dead body of an actress, who died after making her first and only film, back to her hometown for burial. To arouse public interest, and to get the reluctant studio head to release the film, he asks all the local churches to ring their bells for three days.

Apparently Mel Gibson has his hand in a lot of Catholic Themed movies (OK we get it, you are proud to be Catholic). We Were Soldiers (2002) is also considered a Catholic themed and refrenced movie. I have not seen it, but if Mel is in it, it probably is true.

This is one of my favorite Christmas movies. The Trouble With Angels (1966) centeres around a girls Catholic school and some students who don't quite behave. Definetly a light movie, sometimes Catholic movies are so serious, it is nice to laugh occasionally.

The Decalogue (1987) are 10 full length Polish language movies by the late Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski. Each story is based on one of the 10 commandments. Each and every film is depressing, dark and thought provoking.

I remember seeing this movie in the library in the foreign film section. Sometimes I do like to watch thought provoking older films. Monsieur Vincent (1947) a French film talks about the life of 16th-century French priest St. Vincent de Paul (Pierre Fresnay). He faced slavery in Algiers as a boy and the horrific Black Death in Europe as an adult. The internationally acclaimed film won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1948. It isn't hard to see why.

Karol: A Man Who Became Pope (2005) is obviously a Catholic Movie. It takes us through the life of the man who would become Pope John Paul II. We get to see how the war affected him, and his rise to the highest 'human' seat in the Catholic world. This isn't your typical 'pretty' story, this is raw and depressing, but very good.

Come on, you know you love this movie. I have not met anyone who did not like Sister Act (1992). I enjoy this movie too because I am in a choir, and to see how she whips these sisters into shape makes me smile. There is the Mother Superior who is strict as hell, there are all sorts of nuns in this convent, just like there are all sorts of people in life. I love the scene where they are sitting around making rosaries.

The most obvious movie that comes to mind is The Excorsist (1973). This movie should just have a big Catholic symbol ont he cover. You know the story, two priests save the soul of a young girl who is possessed by The Devil himself. One would think all movies about excorsism would be considered a Catholic Movie, but I haven't watched another one in which I would consider even on par with this one. Others that come to mind are The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Last Exorcism. Both of these movies fell short of what The Excorsist did.

One movie that surprised me in having not only a Catholic Theme but Catholic Refrences as well was, It's a Wonderful Life (1946). This is my favorite movie, but in watching it, year after year, I never noticed the Catholicness about it. I will really watch for it this year. I mean, it is Christian in theme, there is Clarence the Angel after all. Does anyone recall a specific Catholic reference? Never-the-less, it is on the Pro-Catholic Movie List.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Promise Me by Richard Paul Evans

Promise Me by Richard Paul Evans is the latest in a string of Christmas books for the author. This year’s offering revolves around a woman named Beth and her daughter Charlotte. This book is about the sacrifice of a mother and a mother’s love that knows no bounds. It is a lovely romantic story with Christian values, although the Christian values are so cleverly entwined that you don’t even realize they are there. This is the first time Evans has written something with a heavy fantasy theme, and the reader won’t realize it is fantasy until toward the end, although the reader will probably figure out something supernatural is going on mid-way through the book.

I enjoyed this year’s offering. I usually enjoy his Christmas books, as well as his other books. I am glad a few years ago I picked up one of his books because I thought the cover was pretty and I was looking for a quick Christmas read. Since then I’ve been on my library page every July requesting his latest Christmas book to be stocked by Christmas. In the past, I’ve had to request, however, this year, I did not have to, they were on the ball. I suppose I’m not the only one who is requesting these, but I am usually in the first batch of recipients, therefore, I'm always reading this Christmas book in October. More Christmas books to follow, next month or December.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Ease of Read: Easy
Estimated Reading Time: 2 days

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Update - 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge


1. Dragonfly in Amber - Diane Gabaldon
2. Nigger: An Autobiography - Dick Gregory
3. Doubt: A Parable - John Patrick Shanley
4. Tennessee Williams Notebooks - T. Williams
5. Roses - Leila Meacham
6. Push - Sapphire
7. The Walk - Richard Paul Evans
8. When The Soul Mends - Cindy Woodsmall
9. Rumble Fish - S.E. Hinton
10. The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton
11. Know it All - A.J. Jacobs
12. I Am Nujood: Age 10 and Divorced - Nujood Ali
13. Island Beneath the Sea - Isable Allende
14. Stoner - John Williams
15. Bronx Accent - Lloyd Ultan
16. Why is God Laughing? - Deepak Chopra
17. Elizabeth Street - Laurie Fabiano
18. Promise Me - Richard Paul Evans

I believe my goal was 50 books from the library this year. Well, not sure if that will happen, but I will probably get to 25 books from the library. I had originally aimed high because I planned to read 100 books for the year, and 50 from the library didn't seem like it would be hard to do. However, 32 more library books in 2.5 months, nah. I have read/listened to a total of 47 books so far this year, so I will reach 50 books for the year, I will aim for 70 books by Dec. 31.

I would say I'd do better next year, however, I am planning to read books like "War & Peace", so I think next year I'll stay with 50 books, but a lot of them will be quality books.

Numbers don't matter much to me, as long as I keep reading. This year was a big year for audio books for me. I don't really know why, I suppose we all get into our moods. I just felt like hearing the soothing sounds of narration while lying in bed at night. I don't drive anymore, so I don't have a chance to listen that way. My home reading was suffering once I lost my job in July, because, although one would think I have nothing but time to read, I had time to do things I had neglected all along such as painting, practicing guitar, beading and other crafts, as well as cleaning.

I am currently working on a temporary assignment, I don't know how long, but I will be reading on the subway to and from, so I think I'll get some book reading in. I will be going to the library at lunch time too, so I'll see if I can find something fluffy to read.

My current reads/listens.

The Winds of Autumn by Jannette Oke (audio). This is the 2nd part of a 4 part series (Seasons of the Heart). The series started with Once Upon a Summer, which I loved so much (and I loved the narrator), so I got the 2nd part in audio with the same narrator. There is a male narrator for this book and a female narrator by another company. I preferred the male narrator because he sounded more down to earth. It is about a boy named Josh (now 15) who is coming of age in middle-America 1930. It is Christian fiction, as it is written by Janette Oke, an easy listen (5+ hours) and probably an easy read. I will follow with the last two books in the series: Winter is Not Forever and Spring's Gentile Promise.

The Neville Reader by Neville Goddard, is a collection of true stories about how "thoughts are things". Neville Goddard was a 20th century New Thought author. He was of the same mindset as other authors who believed in "The Law of Attraction". The stories in this book highlight how real people used their thoughts to attract what they wanted. Call it "The Law of Attraction", "Manifesting", whatever. I myself have been into this stuff for over 15 years, but this is the first time I ever read anything by Goddard, hopefully I will enjoy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dave Mustaine & Vincent Price

Dave Mustaine
I have just completed “Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir” by Dave Mustaine of the popular Heavy Metal (Thrash Metal) band Megadeth. I listened to this in audio format, not for any particular reason except that I was going through one day and saw it there. I got excited and purchased it right on the spot. The narrator was great, there were times I forgot it wasn’t Mustaine who was narrating the book, and the other voices he used such as the voice of Lars Ulrich of Metallica fame was spot on. It was done very well.

I have been a fan of Megadeth for 24 years. I followed them closely for about 10 years, and then life got in the way, and I only caught news of them every now and again. This book filled in the gaps.

I knew about Dave’s life with Metallica as well as his life with Megadeth up until 1995, or until about when his arm ‘died’. I knew he lived the Rock n Roll life style of excess, but to hear just how much excess there was shocked me.

It was also interesting to hear about his childhood. I did remember hearing he was a Jehovah’s Witness as a child. I remember this because his former band mate, James Hetfield (Metallica) was a Christian Scientist as a child, and I found it very interesting that both of these men, who had such extreme religious upbringings, were now both into the Heavy Metal scene.

Dave doesn’t sugar coat his ‘asshole’ moments, or does he hid his humility. He admits he was a bone head at times, and that he was a very arrogant and egotistical jerk. He admits to diarrhea of the mouth more often than not. He admits to his weaknesses and eventually realizing that he cannot do it alone and that he really is blessed beyond his imagination. But what a ride!
This book does have some choice words and some graphic imagery. However, it is written by a Christian man (a ‘baby’ Christian). He put his life out there for all to see, how brave is that?
I was hoping this book wouldn’t cause me to lose respect for him, and it didn’t. I am more in awe now than I was when I started. I’ve read memoirs and biographies of Rock Musicians before and have always been left disheartened by the end, not this time.
* * *

Vincent Price
I recently started watching Vincent Price movies. I know he was the Prince of horror movies, but I didn’t realize how many. About two years ago I got to watch “The Abominable Dr. Phibes”. In “The Abominable Dr. Phibes”, the maniacal sawbones uses the biblical plagues visited upon Egypt as a model for revenge against the surgeons he blames for his wife's demise. A silly movie, but entertaining none the less, my daughter enjoyed it.

This weekend I got the opportunity to watch "Dr. Phibes Rises Again", the sequel. This film was so campy I just loved it. In this movie Dr. Phibes attempts to resurrect his wife and will take care of anyone who gets in his way.

You have to really enjoy hearing Vincent Price’s voice, because he does a lot of talking in these movies, although his lips never move.

I also watched “The Raven” another of Price’s movies from that era. This was a quadruple threat as it also starred Peter Lore, Boris Karloff and a very, very young Jack Nicholson. Its full title is “Edgar Alan Poe’s: The Raven”, however, it has nothing to do with the poem. The only Poe thing in this movie is a short recitation at the beginning and the last line of the movie is one of the more famous lines in the poem, “Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore. Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

This was definitely a tongue and cheek effort. Very entertaining and campy. Dr. Craven is a non practicing sorcerer who is asked by a talking raven for his help in changing him back to a human being. Craven hasn’t practiced sorcery in some time; since his wife Lenore died, but he did it one last time to help this man. Once the man is transformed into his human form, Craven discovers he is a fellow sorcerer in need of help. Craven agrees to help him and the story takes off from there.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Autumn at Home

I decorate my apartment for Fall...Here it is. We got some gourds, I usually don't but I thought they were pretty.

Clarissa being the model for our decorated entertainment center.

These are pieces hanging off of my fall wreath.

More gourds.

My pumpkin and my pumpkin mini statue.

I think I need to take some fall pictures outside and capture some of the foliage, although in NYC nothing has turned yet. Maybe in a few weeks.