American Horror Story: 5 Reasons to Love It

American Horror Story continues to gain viewers and attract more crazy people who can’t help but get sucked into the story – no matter how messed up.

And that’s what I love about it and one of many things that inspired this week’s post.

If you haven’t seen the show, it may not be your thing, but if you value a good story (as we often talk about here) and great acting it may be worth your time. Aside from the wicked stories and awesome acting, there are some special things I enjoy about the show:

1. It changes every season. New characters, new plot, new time period, and setting. It’s quite remarkable, and Entertainment Weekly revealed there is cross over, which only makes me want to watch it more, so I can put all the pieces together. It’s thoughtful, creative, and refreshing when things feel a little overdone in Hollywood.

2. The acronym. If you Google AHS, you will find American Horror Story. I love that. It wasn’t on purpose and just happened. When I text, “watching AHS,” that person knows exactly what I’m talking about. Not many shows develop a natural acronym.

3. Giving actors/actresses work. Before the show, I hadn’t seen Kathy Bates, Jessica Lange, or Angela Bassett in ages. There are several people who want to work in the industry but simply don’t fit into the “popular” crowd of today’s Hollywood. And these people are more talented than the ones getting work. It’s a shame, but that’s what I love about AHS. This show gives them a place and purpose, and they can create a following of their own.
This season also (Freak Show) even more to work with featuring stars and acts from freak shows and characters based on real-life “very special people”.

4. Horror at its best (by modern standards). Some people complain that it’s too disturbing, slow, gory, dark, etc. Well, the horror genre is not a happy place. It is not rainbows and unicorns. The horror genre takes your worst nightmares and discomforts and slaps you in the face. AHS does that, and only true horror fans can appreciate the dark and often disturbing tone of the show.

5. Respect to the genre. With that said, the writers and crew pay homage to many real-life horror stories and work them in. They also use angels and visuals that pay respect to the greats like Hitchcock and Carpenter. The score creeps you out during the opening credits, and who can’t help but love this week’s cover as Come As You Are. Last season, a scene was so deep, it made me cry. The show evokes emotions, makes you think, and can rip your heart it. AHS defines modern horror in the most beautiful way.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts and what you think of the show. Share and feel free to comment below!

Story of the Month: The Failure of Zombie Cookies

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Halloween more than any other holiday is a “pot luck” holiday to me.

This year rather than just do something store bought I thought I’d go all out and MAKE something.  While I’m actually a pretty good cook, I’m a lousy baker, but I put that aside and decided to try my hand at making some cookies.  I found some really clever Thriller style dancin’ zombie cookie cutters and thought I’d make a nice Halloween zombie horde.

Knowing my limitations I decided against making dough from scratch and bought some tubes of sugar cookie dough.  I rolled it out and following the instructions got it to a certain thickness before applying the cutters.  As soon as I removed the cutter, however, the cookie fell to pieces.  I determined the dough to be too thin and re-rolled it a bit thicker.  I applied the cutter again, and upon removing it only the head and arms and legs stuck this time, leaving just a zombie torso.  .  While dismembered would be in-theme, it seemed like too much of a mess up again and I decided to scrap those too.

At this point the dough started to get sticky so I re-floured it and put it in the fridge.  After letting it chill I re-rolled it thicker and tried the cutters again.  This time when I took the cookie cutter off the arms and legs stretched WAY out making an octopus-armed zombie.  At this point I started to get angry.  Like REALLY angry.

I re-rolled the whole batch SUPER thick and used the cutters finally having cookies survive the process:

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I didn’t have a cookie sheet so I put six of them on a pizza pan, put them in the oven to cook, and continued to cut the rest of the dough, making 30-40 dancin’ zombies.

When the timer went off and opened the oven and found the six zombie cookies I was baking had merged into one GIANT cookie on the pan.  Apparently cutting them thick enough to survive the cutters meant they were so thick they swelled and spread out while cooking!20141030_161330

They shattered into a mess when I took them off the pan and I tried to make only twoto see if they’d just swell without merging into a zombie-cookie-blob form.  It made this:

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I made Venus of Willendorf Cookies

 

 

Finally furious beyond imagining I yelled “F*CK THIS!” wadded the rest up into a bowl and bought some friggin cookies at the store on the way in the next morning.

Though admittedly the pics of my baking failure and the story was a bigger hit at the pot luck than any dessert I could’ve made.

Here’s hoping if anyone has to do any baking for the rest of the holiday season it goes better than my experiment and failing that you at least get as good a story out of it…

King’s On Writing: The Intro

Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is one of my favorite books ever. I’m on my second read and didn’t realize how much I enjoy his honesty and advise on writing, ideas, and life in general.

I decided to review it after one of our featured artists – Kevin Litwin – mentioned what the book meant to him and how it helped him as a writer. The light bulb went off, and I thought … what a great book to review!

So, here’s the intro. The book is not your traditional how-to write; it’s his story about what influenced him and how he got to where he is today. It’s not organized by chapters, rather sections that feel like stream of conscious but flow very well. Each section builds on one another, and you can easily read a couple of pages, laugh, and get back to life. You may not want to put it down though, so consider yourself warned…

I’ve always wondered what made famous writers famous. It’s not the writing quality (sometimes unfortunately), it’s not based on pop culture or what’s in style. Before everyone knew King, no one did. I’ve decided it’s the storytelling and its delivery.

With that said, here are some highlights and things I learned from the first 10 sections:

We tend to remember the traumatic events more than the good times. I’m sure psychologists would say because we are scarred and do not heal, they have more of a lasting effect. Maybe that’s true, and I definitely think it makes a writer better. Writers use that negative energy to tell their story and heal themselves.

We need the bad and the good. The hard times help us appreciate the good ones. They evoke emotion – negative or not – that we need to feel and act human. Artists have to have a muse, and no matter what, emotion is our muse. Certain things evoke the emotions we need, but at the core emotion fuels art.

Get ready to toughen up. I won’t spoil too much, but King refers to not being scared of literary critics thanks to a 200-pound babysitter farting on his face when he was a young boy. (Words wouldn’t scare anyone after something like that!) The point is if you plan to put yourself out there, get ready for people to talk about it. People love commenting – on everything.

Imagination is a wonderful thing. Think of some great fiction writers, Dr. Seuss, J.K. Rowling, Shakespeare, King, and think about what you love about their writing. It’s not because it’s grammatically correct or a best seller, it’s the creativity they put into the story. It’s their incredible imaginations flowing onto hundreds of pages that create a world for the reader. That’s imagination.

Be yourself. I’ve discussed this many times, and the more I learn, the more I realize how true it is. No one cares about your education or social class. No one cares where you came from or who you know. If you pour your heart, soul, and everything that is you into something, people will notice and appreciate you for it.

This week I challenge you to a writing exercise: Pick something that evoked a strong emotion – good or bad – and write about it. No one has to read it, just let the emotions pour out onto the page. What happened and how you really felt about it. Don’t be afraid. Who knows, maybe it’ll turn into something great!