TOT TERRORS: The Snow and Heat Misers

I often get asked about what influences my work as a writer. Inspired by the amazing website Kindertrauma–which is right up my alley–I’m compiling all of my childhood (and some adult) terrors.

Misers Year Without a Santa Claus 5

The Year Without a Santa Claus: Heat Miser’s lair inside the volcano reminded me of hell.

In the 1970s, no holiday was complete without the Rankin/Bass Christmas Specials. From Thanksgiving on, we’d anticipate seeing the full-page ads in the TV Guide heralding the air dates for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, and Frosty the Snowman. These were special nights: our parents let us stay up later than usual, and we were allowed to make Jiffy Pop or pilfer a few of Mom’s freshly-made sugar cookies.

The 1980s saw the beginning of major change. Our household went from having tiny televisions rigged with rabbit ears that only got a few channels—usually three major networks, a public broadcast and a couple of locals—that stopped airing after midnight to having cable that ran 24 hours (I’m not an expert on the changes to the broadcast industry; I’m just going on what I remember). As the years wore on, there were fewer and fewer of these specials that aired. Some of them stopped airing all together. Over time, I forgot about most of them.

Except, of course, Read the rest of this entry

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Rent at your own risk: why you should skip renting a car from Enterprise

Enterprise Rent-A-Car Bill Ripoff

I’m hoping that by sharing this it’ll help someone avoid lots of hassle.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car has a new policy: charge for the whole day/rental period even if you decide not to take the car. It’s not on any of their paperwork, but this is, apparently, the way they are doing things now. That’s what I was told by the Danbury, CT store on Federal Road.

Here’s the brief version: Nathan and I rented a car. I ended up getting sick, and we cancelled the order. Unfortunately, I had signed the paperwork. We offered to pay a fee. The delivery person said, “no problem, we understand, we’ll cancel it.”

Nope, they didn’t. They charged my credit card for a full day’s rental–$108. When I called to complain, the gentleman explained this is their new policy because “well, for those couple of hours, we couldn’t rent the car to someone else.”

Let me make this clear: I don’t mind paying a fee. I’m not paying for 24 hours when I had the car “tied up” for only two or three.

Because Enterprise wouldn’t reverse the charges, I reported it as fraud to my credit card company. They investigated—and agreed. At which point, Enterprise sent me a bill with a threatening note that it will compound interest and fees.

Just be aware of this new policy they have and rent at your own risk. #enterprisewellripyouoff

Short Story Sunday: The Wind, by Ray Bradbury

October Country

This is one of my favorites by Ray Bradbury. Although it’s not written in the first person, we wonder if the main character’s friend may be an unreliable narrator—until things take a stunningly original, bone-chilling turn. What’s interesting is that the story is mostly rendered in dialogue, which parallels the nature of the very antagonist itself; the tension also ratchets non-stop. If you like refreshingly different, this one’s for you. You can find it in his fine collection October Country here: https://amzn.com/034532448X

The Bronx Zoo’s Extinct Species Graveyard

Extinct Species 1 - Headstone

The Extinct Species Graveyard at the Bronx Zoo’s BOO AT THE ZOO Event was fascinating–and sad.

Nathan and I love to visit the Bronx Zoo, which is just about an hour from our house—it’s like being on vacation for a day, and it could be said the zoo is part of our lives (we’ve “financially adopted” many of their animals over the years, everything from a bat to a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach we named Mountain King). Since we’re members, we try to make it down for the zoo’s special events throughout the year.

October brought Boo at the Zoo: weekends full of activities such as a beer garden, pumpkin carving demonstration, not-really hay rides, marshmallow roasting pits, candy trails, a corn maze—and my favorite, a Haunted Forest in the abandoned World of Darkness Building. Little known fact about me? It was my first-ever walk-through Haunted House, and I did pretty well!

It was lots of fun to see kids in costume.

Look who I ran into in New York City!

…and to visit our hissing cockroach, Mountain King.

The exhibit that struck me most was the Extinct Species Graveyard, which was set up in a little-used grove of trees next to The Mouse House. It wasn’t there for a Halloween thrill, nor was it there as just another decoration to fill up space; it seemed part educational, and part memorial. I was surprised by the profound sense of sadness I felt as we wandered through the headstones.

Here’s a tour!

Extinct Species 6 - Falkland Islands Wolf

Officially discovered in the late 1600s, the Falkland Islands Wolf’s tame nature spelled its doom—it hadn’t learned to fear humans, so settlers could easily trick it into coming close enough to kill it. They were hunted for meat and fur, and were considered threatening to sheep. The last one was killed Read the rest of this entry

Happy Halloween!

My Ouija Board costume. It’s missing the leggings in this photo–I only got the leggings so that it would be more appropriate in certain situations; it’s a little short, and HALLOWEEN IS COLD SOMETIMES!!

I’m too old to Trick or Treat and we live in an isolated spot where no costumed reveler would venture, but I still like to wear a costume every year…I go to the day job and pass out candy to everyone in the building. I have so many costumes that most years I don’t have to put together or buy anything—I just go in and yank from my stash.

This year was different. My sister came down for a visit, and we decided to hit up the mall for some retail therapy. We wandered into Halloween Spirit, where I was drooling over Day of the Dead accessories (I’m always looking for more to go with my wedding gown, which I’ve used as a costume on occasion). We went to the check-out, and I saw a Ouija Board costume display.

Ouija Board Costume Display

The Ouija costume display at Spirit of Halloween in the Danbury Fair Mall. The dress I bought is on the top left; the leggings (which I went back and got later) were on the lower right. Too bad they didn’t have a hat or a bag!

After a lifetime of being told that Ouija was evil, I defied all that in college and tried one – and ended up having a very bad experience. I will never touch one again. So no one was more surprised than me that this costume struck me as fresh, different, creative—and my choice for this year’s costume.

Happy Halloween everyone!

TOT TERRORS: DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (1973)

I often get asked about what influences my work as a writer. Inspired by the amazing website Kindertrauma–which is right up my alley–I’m compiling all of my childhood (and some adult) terrors.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1973) 1

I first watched 1973’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark on a Sunday afternoon in the late 1970s—at my grandmother’s house, on one of the channels that always ran repeat made-for-TV films.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, which aired on October 10, 1973 on ABC, stars Kim Darby as a nervous homemaker who inherits her grandfather’s massive—and decrepit—mansion, complete with a caretaker who’s constantly warning her that “some things are better left alone” when she finds a tightly sealed fireplace in a shadowy room under the staircase. Which, of course, she opens in the name of “updating” the home. Soon, she’s Read the rest of this entry

DARK DISCUSSIONS dives 47 METERS DOWN

 

Dark Discussions 47 Meters Down Mast_Episode293

47 METERS DOWN collage by Philip Perron.

Shark Week may be a long 10 months away, but there’s still plenty of thrills to be had in this year’s much-delayed Mandy Moore vehicle 47 Meters Down, which had been titled–and even briefly released, as I understand it–under the moniker In the Deep.

Dark Discussions delves deep into what works and what doesn’t in this film (which personally I didn’t get all the hate for–it’s a friggin’ shark thriller, for God’s sake, why are you all expecting high art?) which is available on Blu-Ray and DVD today. Pick it up here — http://a.co/20Q1UNs — then dive into what we thought!

You can listen to our episode on Stitcher, iTunes, and here: http://www.darkdiscussions.com/Pages/podcast_293.html

1280_in_the_deep_47_meters_down_poster

TOT TERRORS: THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK

I often get asked about what influences my work as a writer. Inspired by the amazing website Kindertrauma–which is right up my alley–I’m compiling all of my childhood (and some adult) terrors.

Legend of Boggy Creek 1

The menu of my DVD edition. I have no idea which edition this is, but I know I got this at least a decade ago, maybe more. What I love about this menu is its featuring of what I think is the scariest episode in the film: the creature’s assault on the Fords and Turners.

I wouldn’t be surprised if 1972’s The Legend of Boggy Creek—an In Search Of…esque docudrama chronicling the hair-raising encounters of the people in Fouke, Arkansas with a sasquatch-like creature—spawned an entire generation of Bigfoot hunters: it certainly inspired me to not only fall in love with Bigfoot, but with what-none-of-us-knew-then-would-be-called found footage.

Legend of Boggy Creek 2

I remember seeing this title card on my grandmother’s kitchen television set — and it totally creeping me out. I’m thinking I could also attribute my love of found footage to this film.

This is yet another of those movies Read the rest of this entry

Short Story Sunday: One Last E-Ticket Ride

Going Postal Cover

As you’re reading this, I’m in Walt Disney World (really…I’m enjoying Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival at the moment). So I thought it’d be apropos to recommend Dominick Cancilla’s “One Last E-Ticket Ride.”

This twisted, hilarious tale of a loyal Disney Cast Member who is fired and seeks revenge conveys a powerful message about loss of identity in one of the most interesting environments possible, but what makes it stand out is its consistent, sardonic voice. It manages to be humorous and depressing at the same time, and the result is one hell of a ride (groan).

What’s sad about this story is it’s difficult to find. It was originally published in a collection called Going Postal, edited by Gerard Daniel Houarner, in 1998. Still, keep your eyes open. Disney Parks fan or not, this one is a must-read. Although the publisher (Space & Time) still exists, I could find no mention of how to purchase this through them even though it’s rumored to be available there, so, I guess we’re relegated to watching this link for used copies: http://a.co/1n8ip4d.

Off to write at Rudyard Kipling’s Carriage House

I’ll admit it’s not been a great year for me. To put it plainly, I was sick most of the year with bouts of nausea that turned out to be the result of an out-of-control ovarian mass. Taken care of…a week before one of the busiest Septembers of my  life. In fact, I write this on August 25, two days after surgery. I’m dreaming of Thursday, September 7, when I’ll be leaving to go up to Rudyard Kipling’s Carriage House in Dummerston, Vermont, for a much-needed writing retreat with my friends Meghan and Stacey.

As you’re reading this? I’m picking up Meghan at the bus station and we’re on our way! You can take a photo tour and get a feel for our visit last year here: https://kristipetersenschoonover.com/2016/09/27/the-landmark-trust-properties-for-writers-the-perfect-quiet-places/

Although it says it “sleeps four,” we really feel that it more comfortably sleeps three, as one of the rooms has an old-fashioned full-sized bed (which is really close quarters for two people to sleep on). There is ample room in the living room, I suppose, to throw down an air mattress, but the couches aren’t something you really want to sleep on, either.

Last year, Meghan had to unexpectedly cut her stay short by one day, leaving me and Stacey in the house alone for the last night.

That’s when things got a little weird. I’ll leave you with Stacey’s rendering of it–way better than mine–here: http://staceylongo.com/my-blog/retreat

 

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