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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Scary House Review--Part 2

The Haunted Houses at Fright Nights Scream Park
South Florida Fairgrounds. My best friend Barbie was in town from Philadelphia and let me tell you right now, haunted houses are NOT her thing. However, I cajoled her into coming with me. My fiancĂ© was planning to come too but he was on a side job and by the time he fought traffic to get home, it was too late. Too bad because while we were waiting for him the lines grew longer and we only went through two of the three houses that the general admission paid for. There was a fourth house with the VIP ticket but we didn’t buy that. I’ve borrowed from the My Fright Nights website to review the other two for you. I’ve attended every year of the six that the fairgrounds has offered this and I must say each year it does get better! My ratings are from 1-5, 5 being the scariest.
The Smiths:
The Smiths traveled the dusty back roads of Middle America with their Carnival of Creeps and decided to settle down in a sleepy town. Quality time with the family and a celebration was the order of the day –for the murders and abductions they’d performed on their whirlwind tour. The Smiths have plotted how they will terrorize their new hometown, plucking off, torturing and usually dismembering their victims. Yuck! As we approached the front of the house we were guided to the “kissing booth” and evil clown gave us instructions for our stay.
We walked behind the scenes of this carnival scenes, including broken down Carnival houses and signs and evil clowns a plenty. It was a long house. I’d gotten creped out enough to want it to end. The scare actors in this park did an even better job than Universal in that they hung down from the ceilings and crawled on the floor to scare the next guest. Plenty of bloody body parts and partially eaten victims laid out in blood-splattered kitchens, living rooms and of course the bathrooms.  Overall, I give it a four.
A Grim’s Tale
If you haven’t seen Grim, “Thank God it’s Grim” on Friday nights you probably would have liked this one. I’m a fan of the show. I gave this house a solid five. Even the wait outside was entertaining as we viewed scary movies, a sideway view of the Jagermeister logo (love Jager but I dare not drink too much!) and then these cool live graphics in front of the house. They were old-fashioned portraits of a man, a woman in a gown and a weird looking child (you know how 19th C. portraits of children look scary?). The normal faces were alive, looking at you and then quickly transforming into gaping sharp-toothed jawed smiles with 3-D effect hands reaching out to you and then they reverted to their normal pose. Cool. Inside we were greeted with strobbing lights (which my friend profusely complained about ad exhaustion afterwards) and various rooms filled with creatures and childhood fairytale figures gone bad popping from under the bed, lurking in the closet and all those rotten beasts that lived in the pages of those childhood books coming to life. The idea is that those fairy tales which were told to us as children were dulled down versions of the real beastly things. Tales of murder, betrayal, abduction and pure horror are what truly graced those bloodstained pages. And we learned that our childhood memories are wrong in this nightmare world where our senses were turned upside down and fear played sweetly in the background… a lullaby of death.
Sunnyville Orphanage
Borrowed from website: The lost, forgotten souls march in a line. Down the dank and smelly halls, they trudge to their lonely rooms. They know they are unwanted and this feeds a fire in their bellies that almost erases the gnawing hunger. A loneliness and madness echo through the building and darkness is the only true companion. They are beaten, tortured, and told they are worthless. Then, the solitude brings anger and hatred so harsh and real, there is only one-way to express it. To KILL. Everyone and everything must DIE! The children rise up into one collective monster, one powerful energy, that has only one thought…..MURDER.
Country Bill’s Meat Market
Borrowed from website:
Off the beaten path, in a small Louisiana town, lies Country Bill's Meat Market, where they sell the finest cuts of meat this side of the Mason-Dixon line.
Bill's secret recipe has been handed down through many o' generations and is handmade 'til this very day.
Don't venture too far off into the woods. You may not like what you find...
...or better yet, what might find you.
Authors comment: I’ve seen this in the past and am sorry I missed it this year. I heard it was even scarier.

Hope you liked my reviewed. More to come ….next year! J

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Halloween Scary House Review- Part 1

Halloween Horror Nights - 23 - RESIDENT EVIL – Universal Studios, Orlando, FL

Walking zombies invaded the grounds. Everywhere you turn. I worried about the scare actors hurting their necks or backs from all the crooked walking. We went in the park to visit the walking dead after 11 PM and used our after 11 PM fast pass. The wait time reduced to about 1/4 the time of houses 1-3 or 22.5 minutes and then on houses #4-8 only a mere five minutes!
I’ve provided my ratings after the name of haunted house with #5 being the best and #1 the worst.

1.       AMC- the Walking Dead No Safe Haven (#4) pm it was 11:45 before I noted the time, I observed the globes filled with fire at the entrance. The zombie scare actors apparently were switching shifts walking out of their haunted house still in character down the side of cattle mazes you have to walk through. The zombie at the entrance was on a collared chain and kept staring into space and comically jerking at the chain. Inside we walked through a disaster zone of a Woodbury neighborhood street that looked like it'd been hit by a hurricane with clothes and debris everywhere. Find yourself in the middle of a combat zone as humans and police alike shoot zombies in your path. End up in a derelict prison where the zombie inmates chase you out.

2.       La LLorana (#3) - an urban fantasy/legend of a woman haunting the earth searching for her dead children. You walk through lots of caverns through a castle; lit candles, wine cellars and witness the weeping witch-looking woman drown her victims to exact her revenge. Cross over a river and see her dead children on the shallow end of the river, real rocks with running water run over their lifeless bodies. A person on the floor spews liquid from his drowning lungs. More tunnels and this wild-assed old ugly mother tangled in vines jumping out at you.

3.       Afterlife: Death's vengeance (#3) - Blade the serial killer of his fellow resident inmates faces his vengeance of the deal souls after he meets his own demise via the electric chair. Many scary scenes of his Blade's evil coming through from the other dimension wielding his knife. Three-d glasses are provided to enhance the effects.

4.       Evil dead (#5) - When you first walk through a log cabin in the middle of the woods you’ll empty beer bottles and magazines littering the fireplace warmed living room indicating a normal weekend getaway. A guy is off to the right reading a very large, old looking book. You know something is wrong when you walk through life-size pages of a book, a book with legends of beasts that suck the soul out of a being and snake headed men. Then the gruesome deadites come alive to possess your soul creaking through the floorboards in tangled vines. People become possessed and are eating other humans, turning into big lizard beasts. Gross. Exit the fiery cabin relieved to escape! Creepy dead girl with long tangled black hair and exorcist face crawls out of a basement trap door the in tangled vines trying to get you before you escape!

5.       An American Werewolf in London (#5)- If you're a fan of this John Landis movie classic this is a must-see. Witness an accurate depiction of all the major scenes in the original movie. Walk into the opening scene of The Slaughtered Lamb, listen to real movie sound bites from the movie track and relive the movie right in front of you. David is warned to stay away from the moors but in the next scene, you see him attacked by a werewolf and witness his best friend Jack in front of him. The next scene takes you to David’s hospital bed where he started to have bad dreams. Walk into his nightmare and see his family is attacked by aliens in his home. See David in his sexy nurse girlfriend’s apartment and witness the groundbreaking werewolf transmission that would be the standard by which all horror flicks follow with the advent of slow-moving detailed mechanical but real looking change from man to beast. Walk through the gruesome kill scene in the tube subway, then the ultimate killing of the werewolf beast in the corner of Picadilly circus.

6.       Cabin in the woods (#5)- Something goes wrong at a science center and human experiments turned into abominable nightmares as alien headed, no headed, creatures behind protected glass rooms but they escape and wreck havoc on the experimenters …YOU.

7.       Resident Evil : Escape from Raccoon City (short but I give it a #4) - walk into a town and see Tony's Pizza outdoor with the tables turned over, police on top police cars shooting at citizens and then walk through a Laundromat where lodge lickers, hunters and Nemesis escape through the pipes and under the ground to kill you. Survey this short maze and learn that in the end that you are indeed are dead.

8.       Havoc2:Derailed (#2)- The dogs of war are genetically engineering super-soldiers bloodthirsty and bent on destruction but I found it just a lot of noisy fake machine guns and laser lights while walking through a fake pile of metal junk.

  Hope you like my review. Stay tuned for my review of Fright Fest.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Enjoy the Simplicity of Nature

Do you ever observe nature? The way the ducks paddle in the pond or the bird eats seeds from the feeder. Ever notice how the creatures of nature make the best of what they have to their avail?

Observe the miracles around you. In the attached photos, you will see my sunflowers. This year, in July, I got a single sunflower stalker that grew over seven foot high and yielded over forty-eight sunflowers. I dried out the sunflower seeds and replanted them; they are growing again but none nearly as tall. However, for a good time this past summer I enjoyed the magnificence of the flowers that single stalk brought.

As humans I think we take too much for granted and have a never-ending thirst for more instead of just simply appreciating the here, the now, and celebrating what we already have.
Think of how much peace and contentment you could achieve by simply being in the space between thoughts of yesterday and thoughts of tomorrow. Instead of thinking about where we are going think about, for just one second, where we are. I think the best way to achieve this is to sit in your Adirondack or lawn chair, a glider, or on a blanket and plop down somewhere in your backyard, in a park, on a preserve, and force yourself to simply watch what's going on.

Last week I saw a deer grazing on the side my house. This is a rare sighting here in suburban Florida. However, I saw it nevertheless. It took a few seconds for me to process what I was seeing and take in his full set of antlers and large size. This amazing moment was stopped by a noise I, which startled him, and then his little huffs took him away, into the preserves to a place where I might never see him again. The point is...I saw him.

Katherine Hepburn is quoted as saying, "I don't think about what I missed, I think about what I had.” And so why would we then miss what we had when we had it? Or, better, why not embrace every moment you can and fully relish in it?

I’m relishing in this post that I'm writing. I'm not thinking about what the critics will say, if anyone else would care to join my blog, if I made a grammatical error, if my writer friends will think it added little value....oh, but then I am thinking of those things because didn't I just write it?

Five seconds prior to these disconcerting thoughts, I was enjoying the sound of the new age playing in the background, the bright white bird of paradise blossom outside my window and the sound of a blue jay calling in the distance.

Please, join me, in the fascination of the peace and joy you have with you, right now, around you as simply expressed in the example of natures finest.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Get-Away However Far or Near is the Cure

View of the Bay from the Cabins
The Cabins

If you ever feel down or futile I submit to you there are two sure fired solutions. One is to sleep it off. A good eight to twelve hours of sleep would do the trick. Listen to a bedtime motivation tape like the Universal Mind, my favorite. And if that doesn't work, get into a car, boat, plan, train, on a bike or any other mode of transportation and get out of town.

This past week we went to New Smyrna Beach. Actually we went to Mosquito Bay fishing camp. I was rather miserable my first day there. We went with my fiance's parents, with whom I truly love, but I was a little aggravated because I had received a series of five rejections in a row from requested writing conference sources and they were all form rejections with no real reason other than, you've heard it before, not for me, doesn't have a hook, etc. etc. And my multiple published writer friends, some of whom, like myself, have "retired" from the corporate, world affirm to me that even after having published many books this job continues to pull the blood, tears, sweat and every ounce of energy from them to get each word and scene right.

So some retirement huh?

Any way, I am NOT a fishing enthusiast and my fiance so I thought I'd be bored. And my poor fiance and his father didn't catch anything. But the views off our cottages were wonderful. And we took a short ride to downtown New Smyrna and Flagler Street which has adorable shops, eateries and a really cool beach where cars can drive on it at ten MPH. Food and drinks can be purchased right on the beach. The beach has thin, soft white sand and the ocean is always beautiful -- no matter where you view it. But the town has a northeast beach feel to it. I intend to come back.

All tolled, it was a nice get-away and I'm grateful to taken the trip. I hope you too will lift yourself out of your writing hole once in a while and take a trip to somewhere different.

Ciao for now!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I'm back .....again

I awoke this morning 6:30 am, made coffee and sat on the back porch of my cousin's house on the Jersey shore. Once again, I attained a renewed ambition to continue with my writing career. And while not published yet (don't we hate saying those words?) I document my determination to make a living at this gig. No more excuses, no more fear of failure. Because there's nothing you can't achieve when you put your mind to it. Yes you may change the course of action, the strategy and even the genre.

For example I started writing my Having Fun series with the concept in mind that it could be a step-up Sex in the City type of dramatization of professional women struggling with the vigors of single life in New York City. I still intend to publish it. However I've decided to take a stab at romance. Romance is said to sell well and has a loyal vibrant readership why not? Every women's fiction story I read has many elements of romance. In fact, romance is part of just about any story. If there's a sexual relationship somewhere in there is a little romance, no?

How many times have you changed course with you own writing career? Gave up and started it again?

If it's in your blood to write you'll never give it up. And despite the rejections and bad reviews you will inevitably receive ...the only thing that matters is to never give up. The good will outweigh the bad. You have to purge all negativity.

Do me a favor, my loyal friend, remind me of that next time?


Saturday, June 8, 2013

101 Years My Matriarch My Grandmother

We had many a happy day together my Grandmother and me. This posting is dedicated to her memory. I'm so glad for the times I've been privileged to share with her. She seemed so resilient, so alive, together and simply ...full of life. To think that Grandma would come to her end was unfathomable, yet it was inevitable and part of the natural process of life.

I have something very personal that I wanted to share. On the day of my wedding, the Big Wedding, for the marriage that unfortunately didn't last, I have the pictures of my family relatives to cherish. My loved onces were dressed exquisitely. And, to be able to witness my Grandma being buried in the dress she wore on that day as well as to have seen my mother laid to rest (close to three years ago) in the dress she wore on that day is, in it's strange way, such a great honor.  

I plan to share the following piece at her funeral. An event that has long been talking about, even anticipated in our very big Italian family. Literally over five hundred cousins were spawned from Grandma's original family of eleven siblings. And countless more family that are part of our clan, many of whom I do not know.

Anyway, here's to Grandmom Lucente --I will love you forever and revere every moment we've spent together on this earth:

Grandmom was one of the sharpest most mentally alert people I've ever known. She knew everyone's birthday, the names of their children, their anniversary dates, the major events and what people did to keep themselves busy during the day. And believe me that couldn't have been easy with over 500 cousins alone in our family.

Her greetings accompanied status checks on your latest project, you partner's whereabouts or whatever thought she'd have in mind for you ...before you had a chance to kiss her hello.

Over the course of the last several months, I've had the privilege of spending a lot of one-on-one time with Grandmom. From watching her progress in rehab recovering from hip surgery, to reading her stories, to showing her Facebook pictures of her grandchildren, cousins, grand nieces and nephews ...whoever I could find that she would know and many inspirational pictures and quotations.

We will all miss Grandmom. However, we can all be happy in knowing that she spent a long, healthy, vibrant time with us. Now close to twenty-five years of waiting and reminiscing she is rejoined in eternal love with her beloved and our dear patriarch Grandpop Lucente. May Grandmom and Grandpop Lucente rejoice in their love in our Lord's Kingdom and forever look over us. In Grandmom's words...if God spares. And He has Grandmom --- forever more and a day. 

I'll patiently await the time when we shall meet again. Love you Gram - without end.