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Wednesday
Aug202003

Movie review: An A+ killing spree

They've become American icons. Like Norman Rockwell or Ella Fitzgerald -- except with knives. No one in the world can slaughter people quite like Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees.

It's about time they teamed up for a mass-murdering extravaganza.

Nine years after Freddy's last kill and a mere two years after Jason's rampage aboard a space ship in "Jason X," director Ronny Yu brings us "Freddy vs. Jason." This is a movie that prompts the average viewer to wonder, "How in the hell?"

With both characters having been killed "once and for all" oh-so-many times, one can't help but ask what the writers came up with this time. Don't worry, it's just as ridiculous a plot as you'd expect.

This time, Freddy is unhappy because he's no longer able to get to the children of Elm Street. The few who remember he ever existed live in a perpetually drugged state, kept from dreaming and convinced their memories of Freddy's wrongdoings are figments of their deranged imaginations. Everyone else is blissfully unaware that Freddy used to enjoy murdering teens by the dozens.

This poses a problem for Freddy, who can't return to wreak havoc on Elm Street if no one's afraid of him. Conveniently, Freddy's home town of Springwood happens to be pretty close to Camp Crystal Lake -- Jason Voorhees' old haunt.

Having discovered that Jason has only been sleeping since his last defeat, Freddy enters Jason's dreams and uses the image of Jason's mother to coerce him into going on yet another killing spree. And once Jason is set loose on the inhabitants of Springwood, the town's residents can't help but remember the horrors wrought upon them in the past by Freddy Krueger, thus opening the door for him to return.

And of course, it wouldn't be a Freddy Krueger movie (or a "Friday the 13th" movie) if a bunch of teenagers didn't get slashed into little pieces. "Freddy vs. Jason" serves up the gore with a flourish reminiscent of all of the killers' previous sequels combined. Hockey-masked Jason chases down kids while they're awake, and red-and-green-sweatered Freddy freaks them out when they doze off.

Before too long, though, Freddy realizes that Jason's a little too addicted to that whole "murder" thing, and he's taking all of Freddy's victims before Freddy gets a chance to savor the kill. And that just won't do.

Which means it's time for Freddy to take Jason out, and it's up to the hapless teens caught in the middle to make sure Freddy and Jason don't kill them while they're trying to kill each other.

Anyone who watched these series in the '80s can't help but be pulled in by "Freddy vs. Jason." It's not that this is a scary movie -- in fact, the death scenes are more funny than frightening. It's that it carries on a tradition with all the gore, thrill and fascination showcased in the very first "Nightmare on Elm Street" movie. That was a good movie, damn it. (I never watched much of the "Friday the 13th" series, so I can't say much about that.) And it does so without setting the stage in space or any other (completely) outlandish locale.

Besides that, this is a movie that knows it's ridiculous. It manages to make fun of itself, accomplishing the odd combination of humor and gore without losing that special little something that makes Freddy Krueger such an unsettling character.

Now it's time for Heather's top 3 moments from the movie:

1. As a self-conscious teen flips through a magazine reading stories about plastic surgery and contemplating a nose job, Freddy Krueger appears in the pages, reaches out and tears off her nose, declaring, "Got your nose!" While this sort of bad joke would normally make me want to walk out of the theater, it made me laugh in the context of this movie.

2. Jason Voorhees walks through a corn field while on fire, setting things ablaze and cutting teenagers in half as he goes. Um, I just liked that part because I like fire and because the retarded teenagers kept standing there and letting Jason cut them in half.

3. The fight scenes between Freddy and Jason. These were amusing because they occasionally did seem like a WWF wrestling match, except that neither fighter ever hit the other with a folding chair.

Overall, I have to give this movie an A+. This doesn't mean I think it deserves an Academy Award or anything. But for the slasher movie genre, this movie far outshines the rest. It's an excellent addition to both series, and I highly recommend it to anyone who grew up watching Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees murder innocent people in the '80s.
Monday
Aug182003

Invasion of the Shot Skank

Last night, Rob, Jamie, Laura and I decided to go out for a grown-ups' night. Jamie and Laura left Hope with a babysitter and the four of us went downtown for a little drinking in honor of my meeting the quarter-century mark in my life. We went to Old Chicago first and had some pizza before heading across the street to a bar called Tequila's, which none of us had been to before. (Rob and I haven't been going to bars much since we moved to Colorado Springs, because we haven't had any friends who liked going out drinking. It's taken us a year and a half to drag Jamie and Laura down to our level and get them to start imbibing alcohol on occasion.)

Because none of us had ever been to Tequila's, we didn't know until we were inside that there was a $5 cover. Having been out of the bar-hopping practice for a while now, Rob and I had neglected to bring much cash with us. I had $9. Fortunately, Jamie and Laura had thought ahead and they gave us the extra dollar.

This was a sign of things to come. I don't think I've ever been to a bar before that so regularly gouged its patrons for money. We started a tab at the bar and sat around for awhile, chatting.

Enter the Shot Skank. (This is Rob's nickname for her, by the way, not mine.)

A girl in a black halter top and stretch pants came over to our table, carrying a bunch of shots in test tubes, and insisted we buy a round of shots from her. We told her we had a tab at the bar, but she insisted that she only accepted cash. Since she had already handed one shot to Rob and two to me (because it was my birthday), we should have just drank the shots and said, "Oh, sorry. We thought they were free." Then maybe she would have left us alone. Instead, Jamie handed over his last $4 so I could have a birthday shot, grumbling the whole time about how expensive alcohol is.

The Shot Skank wandered off then, bobbing her teased, dyed-blond ponytail behind her.

The four of us decided it was time to play a little pool, even though we could have gone to Jamie and Laura's apartment and played for free if we wanted. After a trip to the ATM, Rob went to get quarters, and was forced to buy a drink before they'd give him change.

Having already established that we were easy targets, the Shot Skank paid several visits to our pool table to push more alcohol on us. The first time she came by our pool table, I told her we didn't want any, and then Rob fell victim to her persuasion and bought two more shots. (It wasn't so much that he couldn't resist her Barbie-ness. He just has a hard time saying no when people get really pushy. That's how I managed to get a couple of my birthday presents early.)

After this, we only had $2 left, so we couldn't afford any more of the Shot Skank's goods. That didn't stop her from trying.

During further attempts, the Shot Skank pretty much ignored Laura and me, instead choosing to focus her efforts on the boys she seemed to think would be happy to do her bidding. At one point, she even insisted that Rob go to the ATM so he could buy more alcohol from her. When he said no, she stared at him and batted her annoying Shot Skank eyelashes at him, with her hand on her hip. Probably her biggest mistake was trying to convince Rob to buy her last two shots of Tuaca. Had she known how much we both despise Tuaca -- the mere thought of that crap makes us want to throw up -- maybe she would have just walked by.

I doubt it, though. I'm pretty sure she thought that, with her skank powers, she could talk any guy into taking anything she offered. Fortunately, her abilities were no match for Rob's hatred for Tuaca and obnoxious bar whores.
Monday
Aug182003

Corgi chaos

The last few days have been full of dog vomit, and I wish I meant this in a symbolic way. But no, no. My darling corgis have been sick for the past week, complete with all sorts of gastrointestinal adventures.

On Monday, I came home from work and checked my e-mail. I spent about 45 minutes messing around before I finally decided to change clothes and walk the dogs. I knew something was ickily wrong as soon as I opened the door to the bedroom. The dog vomit smell was pretty powerful, and Kody's kennel was a big mess.

Later, after Rob got home and I managed to con him into cleaning the kennel, we figured out that Kody had most likely swallowed a pretty large chunk of his knotted rope toy, which he had been pulling apart for several days before that. For the rest of the evening Kody couldn't even hold down water and he had ... poop issues. By the end of the evening, he was able to drink water.

The next day, Kody seemed much better, but still wasn't eating. We were worried about that, so we decided to take him to the vet on Wednesday if he still wouldn't eat. Tuesday evening, while we were making dinner, I looked down at Bella and noticed her nose was extremely swollen. She didn't seem bothered by it at all, running around and playing just like normal. Because she didn't seem to be in pain and her nose made her look completely ridiculous, Rob and I couldn't stop laughing at her. But we started getting worried when it continued to swell.

We gave her Benadryl and the swelling went down, so we decided she was going to be fine. That's what we thought until about one o'clock in the morning, when we were pleasantly awakened by the sound of Bella throwing up on our bed. She almost managed to avoid the bed and puke directly into the trash can -- but not quite. So we put both dogs in the kitchen (where the mess would be easier to clean up in the event of more accidents). Bella threw up several more times before I even went to sleep that night.

The next morning, Bella's nose was much better, but Kody still wasn't eating anything. I called the vet and told the receptionist what was going on with both dogs, and she told me to bring them in. Pretty much as soon as I got off the phone with her, Kody started eating his food and Bella was hopping around like the happiest corgi in existence, so we decided not to take them to the vet.

Rob was off work on Wednesday to take care of some stuff in town, and he called me at about noon to ask if he could come get me from work to go with him and Bella to the vet's office. Her eye had swollen and she was looking pretty pathetic. The vet gave her some Benadryl and cortisone, and the swelling went down pretty quickly.

I took the rest of the day off work, since spending a couple hours waiting for the vet to treat Bella pretty much killed the work day for me. We figured everything was all better then, except that Kody still had diarrhea. Shortly after we decided our world had returned to normal, Bella started throwing up on our office floor.

Sooo, after having to clean up so very many doggie fluids, I talked Rob into giving me an early birthday present. We spent the rest of the evening watching episodes of "Friends: Season Four."

Bella stopped throwing up and we were elated that the worst of the grossness appeared to be behind us. With both of the dogs seeming to be healthy and happy, we went back to putting them in their kennels while we were at work.

When I came home from work on Thursday, I went into our bedroom to get Kody out for a walk. Once again, he had managed to fill his kennel with vomit. He got a bath that evening and I cleaned everything up before Rob got home. Then I made him give me another birthday present. We spent that evening playing "Silent Hill 3." Ok, Rob played the game while I watched.

Since then, the dogs have been doing well. Of course, now that I've said that, I'm sure I can expect to be cleaning up something disgusting some time in the next 24 hours. Sadly, I've already opened all of my birthday presents.
Monday
Aug042003

An afternoon in Satan's swivel chair

Because I am a glutton for unpleasant, awkward moments with strangers, I got my hair cut today. We were at the mall and Rob wanted some time by himself to shop for my birthday presents, and of course I'd never deny him that opportunity. So I went to my usual salon and got a haircut while he scoured the Citadel for the perfect gift.

I had to get myself mentally prepared to handle the idea of having my hair cut, reassuring myself that it doesn't matter what this stranger says to me. It doesn't matter what this stranger says to me. It doesn't matter what this stranger says to me. Ok, it's a little neurotic. But I've had some negative experiences with hair stylists in the past.

Growing up, my mother always cut my hair. Being a typical mom, she never picked up a lock of my hair, looked at it in disgust and said, "My God, this is really damaged. How long has it been since you had a haircut?" She never acted like going for four months without a haircut was sinfully neglectful. She just cut my hair and let me go back to watching TV.

Not so with hair stylists. Once I moved to Fort Collins to go to college, I started having to deal with my hair without my mother's help. I didn't think it'd be a big deal -- I'd managed to buy my own groceries, attend my classes and generally keep myself alive, so why would getting a haircut have drastic emotional consequences?

The first time I had my hair cut professionally, my stylist was a pleasant, motherly woman who treated me well and never meant any harm. Being a freshman in college at the time, I hadn't quite grown out of my pimply teenager phase, but I continued my daily life under the delusion that my facial flaws weren't that noticeable anyway. That is, until this woman came into my life.

"What do you use to wash your face?" she asked, five minutes into the cutting process, too late for me to run away.

I paused. "Neutrogena."

"You should try washing your face with baby shampoo," she suggested. "It'll help clear up that acne."

Now, I'm sure she meant well. I'm sure she thought she was doing me a favor by offering a solution to a problem. But the woman obviously wasn't a close pal to any teenagers. If she had been, she probably would have known that the worst thing she could have done was point out that my zits were visible. I suddenly felt like I had mountainous blemishes sticking out a foot from my forehead, causing passersby to either stare in disgusted fascination or turn away out of polite embarrassment. I spent the rest of my hair cutting session in silence, trying not to cry and wishing for my mother.

Another experience early on in my college career had me praying my hair stylist would just stop talking to me and fall over dead. I knew that was probably a hellworthy thought, but I just couldn't help myself. I was pretty sure God would understand, anyway.

While this person chose not to comment on my facial deformations, she found other flaws to express concern over. Notably, the blemishes on my scalp. Apparently, her own life had not dealt her the pleasantries of living with acne, so it had never occurred to her that someone with an oily face might also have an oily scalp. This hairstylist, meaning to offer me helpful advice, suggested that I go see a doctor about the "sores" on my head. The entire time she was cutting my hair, she treated me gingerly, as if afraid she was going to catch leprosy. Every once in awhile, she'd ask if my scalp itched or hurt because of the "sores." I gave one-word answers and fought the urge to kick her in the leg.

Fortunately, my skin has cleared up considerably in recent years, so I haven't had similar experiences lately. Nowadays, stylists just criticize my hair-care practices and try to hide their expressions of horror when shaggy-headed me sits down in the swivel chair and asks for a haircut. Though I'm always convinced they're wondering how this homeless girl with the stringy, damaged hair managed to scrounge up the money for a haircut, I somehow manage to drag myself into a hair salon at least two or three times a year.

Today wasn't too bad. I decided I needed to have a good six inches chopped off of my hair this time, which is a big change for someone who's had exactly the same hair style for the past ten years. I had her cut it to just above the shoulders, mainly because I'm trying to get rid of the last traces of hair coloring from last year. She didn't tell me I had split ends or try to talk me into highlights, so I never once found myself wishing for her untimely demise.

The new cut looks ok -- Rob likes it a lot, but I'm still not sure about it. I think it makes me look like a 12-year-old. I don't normally mind looking younger than I am, but I've found that looking like a kid pretty much never works to your advantage when you're trying to be a writer. I don't even want to count the number of times some realtor or car salesman has said, "You're writing the article?" right before making a comment about how I couldn't possibly be a day over seventeen.

I'm meeting with a realtor tomorrow to write an article about a house she's selling. I can't help thinking she'll be wondering why my newspaper decided to hire a junior high student as its real estate editor.

It doesn't matter what this stranger says to me. It doesn't matter what this stranger says to me...
Saturday
Aug022003

Goodbye, old friend

Rob and I lost a member of our family two days ago, completely without warning. I came home from work, cheerful and happy that I was about to spend a good three hours on the couch watching Must See TV. (Even though we now own the first three seasons of "Friends" on DVD, I just can't seem to get enough of that show.)

On my way past the living room, I hit the power button on the TV remote and went into the kitchen, not really noticing that anything was wrong. When I came back into the living room, I realized the TV wasn't on. Hmmm, interesting. So I tried turning it on with the TV's power button. Nothing happened. Still in denial, I pressed the power buttons on both the TV and its remote control several more times with no results. I checked the power on everything else around the TV (Playstation 2, X-Box, Gamecube, the usual) and they all appeared to be working fine.

I forced myself to face the facts. Our TV was gone.

I thought about calling Rob on his cell phone to tell him what was going on, but I thought it might embarrass him if he broke down in tears in front of my brother, his coworker. Instead, I decided it would be better to tell him in person, so I could hug him when the emotions took over.

When I broke the news to Rob, he took it pretty well. His face fell and a little bit of sparkle went out of his eyes, but he didn't cry. At that point, more troubling than the crippling emotional pain was the realization that a weekend was looming in our near future, and we were facing the possibility of confronting it without a television set. No video games. No movies. No stand-up comedy marathons on Comedy Central. No (gulp) episodes of "Friends."

How were we supposed to spend the weekend? Reading? Having intellectual conversations? Enjoying the sunshine? Screw that. We're much to shallow to survive for very long without a television.

Before the soul was even finished oozing out of our precious dead television, Rob and I were in the car, on our way to find its replacement. We came home with another one just like it a couple of hours later. It strikes me as a little morbid now, to have bought a new television that looks just like our beloved old one. It'd be like losing one of our dogs, then going out and getting another one the same color and giving it the same name so we would forget about our first precious little friend. But at least we can play video games now.

It has occurred to us that our old TV might not be completely dead. Maybe it's just in a coma, struggling daily to return to us. We intend to take it to a repair place eventually, so that one of these days we can have a healthy set of twins. Until then, the old TV is sitting on our dining room floor, looking forlorn and rejected, while I watch "Friends" on its replacement.