Category Archives: Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff

How to celebrate Poe’s birthday: fun, last-minute and on the cheap!

My Poe action figure. I can’t write without him around!

January 19 (TODAY!) is Edgar Allan Poe’s 209th birthday—and it falls on a Friday, the most popular night of the week to party! Can’t make it to any of the myriad of Poe-related events in Baltimore, Virginia, Philadelphia or the Bronx this weekend, but still want to have some fun? Here are five instant, easy, low-cost ways to mark the occasion. Read the rest of this entry

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CREEP, CREEP 2, DARK DISCUSSIONS and the most unsettling Christmas present EVER

Peachfuzz 1

There are some Christmas gifts that are just so personal, clever, and awesome it’s unlikely they’ll ever be forgotten. I came home from a particularly rough one and received just that—and so did my friends Eric and Phil.

 

Most of you know that I’m a part-time co-host on a horror film podcast called Dark Discussions. The five of us—Phil, Mike, Eric, Abe, and me—tend to be irreverent and do a lot of laughing. A year or so before I joined them, they discussed an unsettling 2015 indie gem called Creep. Much joviality surrounded one of the movie’s more outlandish moments which was a little on the dirty side, if you get my drift.

You can listen to the DD episode on Creep here and the one on Creep 2 here…and you can watch the films here:

Creep

Creep 2

Creep Episode 195

The masthead for DARK DISCUSSIONS Episode 195, CREEP. Look at the picture bottom left–yup, it’s the stuffed wolf! Collage by Philip Perron.

*SPOILER ALERT*

The Creep franchise focuses on a serial killer; but, much like a narcissist, he likes to toy with and manipulate his victims first in a series of bizarre emotional ploys. He first cons his victim—in both movies, an aspiring filmmaker—with the lure of cash to film him for one day, evoking sympathy with one sob story after another as things get more complicated. What’s key to my anecdote, though, is that at one moment in the original film, he dons a wolf mask he calls “Peachfuzz.” That dirty moment I referenced? He touches himself while murmuring Peachfuzz’ name, later explaining to his victim that he thinks of himself as a wolf—tough on the outside, tender and loving on the inside.

After the victim leaves to go back to his life, our serial killer regresses to mailing strange packages before doing him in. The contents of at least one of the packages always contains a stuffed wolf.

As far as my scary little package, we’re still not sure which co-host did it; nobody’s owned it yet. Or even better if we never know. Because the brilliance of this isn’t only the reference to all the fun we have on the show, it’s got that creep factor: I could, indeed, be this guy’s next victim. Oh, Peachfuzz…

Creep 2 Episode310

The masthead for DARK DISCUSSIONS Episode 310: CREEP 2. At the top left, you can see the Peachfuzz mask. Photo collage by Philip Peron.

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

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!

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

 

TOT TERRORS: THE BERMUDA DEPTHS (1978) – and wow, is there a SEQUEL in the works?

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.

TV GUIDE BERMUDA DEPTHS

The full-page ad that appeared in TV Guide. Those old ads were very effective in enticing people to watch things. I don’t think ads today have the same kind of power.

In 1978, the ABC Friday Night Movie aired The Bermuda Depths. It was billed, in the original TV Guide full page ad, as a frightening mystery surrounding the Bermuda Triangle—a hot topic back in the In Search Of-cryptid-paranormal-UFO-obsessed decade that was the 1970s. I didn’t know this then, but it was written by Alan Rankin, produced by Jules Bass (yes, the Rankin/Bass behind Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer) and directed by Tsugunobu (Tom) Kotani of 1977’s The Last Dinosaur fame—which meant creatures and creepy imagery, and it would certainly deliver.

Bermuda Depths 1

THE BERMUDA DEPTHS is a Rankin/Bass production that aired in 1978.

In the 1970s, Read the rest of this entry

Resigning oneself to the BLACK THUMB

Palm Tree 4

LeeLee (short for Kali, Multi-colored Destroyer of Worlds), who passed away in 2016, loved sitting underneath this palm. In fact, any of the the palms I had around–if they were indoors–became her favorite places to sit.

I’m not great with plants, and I never have been—even when I was sixteen years old and bought a Royal Palm (back in the 1980s, they didn’t sell them all over the place in the Northeast like they do now, so this was a very exciting thing), studied how to take care of it, and was super attentive, it still died. Read the rest of this entry

Who wants to PHONE HOME with this blast from the past?

My sister came down to visit last month. Six months ago, she moved across the country, and she found things when she was unpacking she’d forgotten about–most items were from the clean-out of our late father’s house.

Imagine how awesome it was when she pulled this out of her bag?

ET 1980s Card Game 1

As kids in the 1980s, we played Read the rest of this entry

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