4 Lessons Learned from My Internet-free Weekend

Storm season in Tennessee brings high winds, rain, tornado threats and knocks out my internet twice a year. Usually when this happens, it’s mid-week and I frantically try to find a place to work. However, this last time, I awoke on Saturday morning and discovered no internet. And it was one of the most relaxing weekends I’ve ever had.

Lesson 1: Get Off the Phone

This was completely irrational, but I was afraid to use my phone much because of data usage. First, I never come close to my data limit – I use 300 MB a month lol – but I was fearful I’d reach my max if I stayed on my phone. Therefore, I only used my phone for texting and the occasional search. This was pretty amazing. Not only did I stay off social media most of the weekend, but the compulsion to check social media and carry my phone with me everywhere disappeared. I realized that because I’m connected to everyone, it doesn’t mean I have to be connected to everyone. At the end of the day, I really didn’t care how everyone spent their weekend, and I had a much more peaceful one.

Lesson 2: More Free Time

When I first realized the internet was out, I almost panicked. I immediately asked myself, “What am I going to do?” I can’t sit at my computer and work or just kill time? But then I remembered everything ELSE I needed to do, and none of those chores required the internet. Not only did I do almost everything on my house-stuff list, but I also had time to read, nap and exercise. Hmmm … I had time to do things for me and take care of myself. I didn’t feel like I was on a constant schedule, and my stress level was nearly zero. I even finished a massive project that had loomed over me for months.

Lesson 3: Freedom Is Priceless

That weekend I had work but no hard deadlines (thank goodness). It annoyed me that I had to postpone the work and rearrange my weekend, but I was thankful I didn’t have to sit at the computer all day. I had a choice in what tasks I wanted to do. Did I want to paint? What about clean a closet out? Or just chill and watch a movie, maybe go out? Because I wasn’t so tunnel-visioned about work, the world of weekend activities opened up before my eyes. The freedom I experienced when choosing what to do was priceless. It also made me realize that I don’t have to plan every day, which I’m very good at, and instead leave room for spontaneity. That weekend I finished a book and got half-way through another. It was the most I’ve read in two years.

Lesson 4: Time to Change

Have you ever watched a movie with someone who stays on their phone the whole time or gone out to a restaurant and they do the same? If so, you know how annoying it is and it makes you practice the same behavior. No internet forced myself and my company to just watch a movie and discuss it. Total concentration on one task … wow! I learned that when doing something with someone, whether it’s watching a movie or dining out, it’s time to put the phone away. I also realized that maybe I don’t need to accept as much extra work. I do not have to work every weekend in order to survive, so it’s time to start saying no. And I can do different projects that would result in money or even spend my time doing something more fulfilling, such as volunteering or trying new things.

The point is the internet is our best friend and worst enemy. We should use in moderation. I challenge everyone to turn theirs off for one day; you never know what you’ll learn!

Scare Zone: A Pleasant Horror Surprise

One day while scrolling through my digital movie library, I came across Scare Zone, a delightful little movie. It’s not the greatest horror movie ever, but it’s tons of fun and definitely worth a watch. Here’s a quick review (very few spoilers):

Photo: bloody-disgusting.com
Photo: bloody-disgusting.com

Scare Zone Premise

Have you ever wanted to work in a haunted house during the Halloween season? I have and plan to one year. I think I’d have a blast on the other side of the scenario scaring other people. Scare Zone has a believable premise and plot that show what it would be like to work in a haunted house. A group of people come together for a few nights of ghosts and mayhem, but problems arise when they start getting knocked off one at a time. Yep, it’s a slasher movie!

Characters

One of my favorite things about Scare Zone is when Oliver (Simon Needham) assigns everyone their roles. The writers use this opportunity to show the audience each character’s personality and label them in roles you’d find in traditional slasher movies. This is a fast, fun way to introduce a large group of people without going into unnecessary detail and backstory.

I don’t really love or hate any of the characters, which is different because usually I want to see someone get killed. (Trent in the Friday the 13th remake comes to mind.) However in Scare Zone, all the characters are tolerable and most even likable. I will warn you though, some of the acting isn’t amazing. Again, these aren’t huge names, but for the kind of movie it is, everyone plays their part well and you can overlook the quality of the acting.

Likes and Dislikes

Scare Zone is fun. It’s not too dark, it’s shot pretty well, and it honors other slasher movies. The pace usually moves quickly, and you feel like you’re part of the gang. The movie feels real — but not in a doom-and-gloom way, more like a this is what the job would be like, and Oliver is the coolest boss ever way. The kills aren’t overly gruesome or gory, and there’s no suffering. It’s just a good little slasher movie.

With every fair review comes the bad. I only have one real complaint about the characters, and it’s the awkwardness between Claire and Daryl (Arian Ash and Chris Burns). Neither actor stands out, so when they develop a “love interest” relationship, it’s very awkward to watch. I blame this mostly on Claire, and I can’t decide if she’s trying to be awkward or if she’s just not a stellar actress. My other issue is the ending. Scare Zone ends on a positive note, which I’m happy with, but a certain “transformation” seems a bit extreme. I don’t want to spoil it, so just pay attention to hair color and you’ll understand.

Scare Rating

Low if you’re an avid horror movie fan. I didn’t find it scary, but it has its suspense and jump scares. So, if you’re looking for a laid-back, entertaining watch, check it out. At the time of this post, the full Scare Zone movie is on YouTube, and it looks like great quality. Happy watching!

Ghostbusters Remake: Why I Won’t See It

The Ghostbusters remake trailer premiered a couple of weeks ago and confirmed every fear I had. This topic has been controversial since its announcement and with good reason. From the cast to the writing, the trailer alone suggests remake tragedy. As far as I’m concerned, I hope it bombs, so they stop trying to destroy well-loved movies.

The All-Woman Cast

Those who are not excited about the cast are not necessarily sexist. I’m a strong, independent, hard-working woman. I support my family and am a good mother. I support nearly every fight for better pay, treatment, career advancement, rights, etc. And I hated the idea the all-woman cast. But it’s not about them being women; it’s about Hollywood taking advantage of us.

In Hollywood, woman power has become a trend. I love the idea of an all-woman cast if done for the right reasons, but in this situation, Hollywood executives saw an opportunity to capitalize on 1) women and 2) a successful franchise. It’s like they said, “Oh, women are cool right now, so let’s make them Ghostbusters and see how much money we can make off of them.” That insults me.

The trailer even suggests they dumbed the characters down, made them goofy and not funny. Where’s our sharp wit? Where’s our ability to handle things rationally? Not in this trailer.

The Writing Stinks

“You’re a brilliant engineer.” … “No one’s better at quantum physics than you.” Why do we need to say that? Why can’t writers allow the audience to assume roles and intelligence? We don’t have to spell out everything in a movie. The Ghostbusters remake is certainly not the only movie with this problem. Most modern movies say too much and explain things unnecessarily because the people writing them should not write movies. If you’re targeting women, guess what? We are smarter than that.

On another note, the trailer is not funny. I’ve watched it 10 times and never once smiled. They ripped out the wit, sarcasm and dry humor, and added vomiting and awkward banter. Note to Hollywood: Vomiting is never funny. Ever.

Also, why are they making fun of The Exorcist? I love The Exorcist; it still scares the crap out of me, but why is it appropriate to include it in Ghostbusters? In the trailer, they poke fun at one of the most intense movies in horror history, and as a fan of The Exorcist and horror in general, that is not okay with me.

Gotham Meets Ghostbusters

Many people are criticizing the ghosts’ appearance. I’m okay with some of the CGI, and Slimer looks good. However, most of the ghosts flying or walking around downtown make it look like Gotham City from the first Batman franchise. The ghost in the striped pants (watch trailer) made me roll my eyes. Also, there were very few floaters in the original. It wasn’t a sideshow of neon lights and CGI.

I’m Over Remakes

We had a blast this past Halloween comparing originals and remakes, but I noticed we did not review anything after 2010. Remakes in the last few years have, for the most part, sucked. Poltergeist, The Fantastic Four, Point Break, all decent/good originals, all remade in 2015 and not well received. If a remake does well, it is because it is well written, directed by the best person for the job, and cast well. A movie will not make a good remake just because the original was popular. For example, would the Halloween remake have succeeded if M. Night Shyamalan had directed it instead of Rob Zombie? No.

There’s my rant. I will not see the Ghostbusters remake, and I’d appreciate Hollywood stop trying to destroy some of the best movies of my generation. If you don’t have an original idea or can’t produce a ‘good’ movie, then maybe it’s time you get out of the industry.

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer. Take note of the dislikes:

How to Investigate Weird Noises: 7 Tips from a Horror Fan

Learning how to investigate weird noises could potentially save you from almost every horror movie scenario possible. Let’s face it, weird noises happen. And although it may not seem the best idea to investigate them, sometimes we must.

how to investigate weird noises
I’ve investigated dozens of weird noises over the years. I used to hear things from the basement and would have to go down there at night. Usually, it was just something outside or the dog, but I couldn’t rest until I knew everything was safe. I’ve made some mistakes, but I want to share my expertise on how to investigate weird noises:

Decide How to Investigate

Most times when you hear a weird noise at home, it’s nothing threatening. Why wake up loved ones for nothing or put them in danger? Go it alone at home. You can laugh at yourself and avoid embarrassment when it turns out to be a branch scratching a window. However, if you are in a horror movie setting – including hospitals, graveyards, and creepy cabins – never go alone. The more people you have around you, the better.

Grab a Weapon

Once you hear the noise and decide to investigate, pick a weapon. It should be easy to carry and use. One of my favorites is a working LED flashlight. These are typically made of metal, easily weigh 1 lb., and serve two purposes: You can see from a distance and bludgeon something if needed. You will find these at any major retailer for about $20. Also, make it easily accessible. For example, don’t store it in the basement.

Breathe Through Your Nose

If horror movies teach us anything, it’s what not to do. Take a moment and take deep breaths through your mouth. You’ll notice two things: you’re really loud and will eventually feel light-headed because you’re not getting enough oxygen. Breathing through your nose allows for maximum oxygen intake, so you don’t pass out and controls your adrenaline/heart rate. It is much quieter, so your ears can listen for noise. You need to find the source of the weird noise and listen for anything else.

Walk Slowly

This one comes naturally for most people. After all, you’re a little freaked out, so you’re not likely to go running through the house yelling AH-HA! Walk with intent, and keep your eyes open. If possible, wear quiet slip-on shoes in case you have to run. This rule changes if you have to go up and down stairs. I’m a fan of the element of surprise when it comes to stairs. For example, get downstairs fast and make noise. Most basement stairs squeak, so you’re going to make noise anyway. I vote for loud and threatening as opposed to quiet and squeaky.

Turn on Lights

When entering a room, turn the lights on first. Flip the switch, so you can see whatever is in there and feel quick relief. Leave the lights on when you leave the room. This will give you more visibility as you investigate and eliminate places for the source to hide. Pay attention to the lights as well. If one is turned off later, you’ll know something is wrong.

Do Not Talk

“Hello, is anyone there?,” said no one ever in real life. It’s common horror movie knowledge that the person who asks, gets slashed. Not talking aloud allows you to breathe easily, keeps your ears open, and doesn’t reveal your location. Having an internal dialogue is fine, but don’t talk to yourself aloud or yell for the source to reveal itself. You want to find it, not let it find you.

Run, Run, Run

So, you’ve finally made it into the basement only to find a zombie or ghost. Run. Run away fast. Don’t walk up on it. Don’t talk to it. I don’t care if you know them. Chances are if they are in a corner, they are bait. Run and never look back.

Stay safe out there, and feel free to share your comments below!

*The purpose of this post is for entertainment. If you think there is an intruder, use common sense and call for help.

Supernatural: Then vs. Now

Attention Supernatural Fans: I mean no harm. I know the show has surpassed popularity no one thought possible, however as a fan since season 3, Supernatural has betrayed me.

supernatural then vs now
Photo: itwikipedia.org

It’s been awhile since I’ve discussed Supernatural and my love/hate relationship with the show. I have not seen a full season since season 9, but I have seen episodes from all of them, even the most recent wrestling one.

That’s what sparked this post. As I watched the overly dramatic episode that I thought would be fun and pay homage to the greats, I thought, “Wow. Supernatural used to be so good. What happened?” I feel like the writers and producers have betrayed the show’s origins and ripped away what made it special. Let’s take a look at Supernatural Then vs. Now: (contains spoilers)

The Plots

I loved Supernatural’s main plots – whether it was finding their dad or defeating Lucifer – but the plots after season 6 aren’t as appealing. Seasons 7-11 have been heavily focused on “biblical” characters and plots, which has made the show less fun and interesting. With seasons 7-8 I enjoyed everything except for the main plot, and season 7 really lost my interest when they killed off the beloved Bobby. The early plots were simple at their core. They focused on natural good vs. evil, family relationships, and supernatural lore. All wins. However, once season 8 started, it focused the Men of Letters and characters who aren’t really interesting or relatable. The current plots are slow, boring, and convoluted.

Stories Within the Plots

This infuriates me. Supernatural has crossed a line with me in its current season. It has betrayed many of the major-minor characters by placing them in situations they would never have allowed five seasons ago. Cas, one of my favorite characters, has been possessed or accepted to serve as Lucifer’s vessel. No. Crowley is beaten and worn down and looks like a hobo. Um, no. Some speculate that Crowley will become human and start hunting. Really? The Darkness (Amara) threatens the world’s fate, but Dean can’t fight her because he’s in love with her. Sigh. And on and on.

The Boys

Sam and Dean aren’t the same. Sure, they’ve matured and been through everything imaginable, but their characters have become dry. In the early seasons, you appreciated Sam’s independence and struggle. Dean was somewhat unstable but always did what was right. As you watched the early seasons, both have relatable qualities that engage the audience. Now, they’re pretty much the same person. There’s no passion, and any brotherly conflict feels written. Since season 8, the characters actually feel like fictional characters instead of real people. The “this feels real” feeling you get when you watch the earlier episodes is priceless because you are on the adventure with them. Now, and since season 9, you’re just watching. And it’s not even interesting.

Misc. Issues With Supernatural

Aside from these issues, there are tons of little things wrong:

  • The first few seasons had amazing soundtracks, and now the music is just TV music.
  • The “fun” episodes – some of my favorites – do not exist. I’ve watched several that start strong, then half-way through, they go dark and grim. The show isn’t fun anymore.
  • Where’s the lore? Why are we learning about WWII and the Nazis? Oh, that’s right. The Nazis practiced dark magic because that makes sense.
  • Skeazy hotels no longer serve a purpose. They live in the Men of Letters bunker (yawn). No more Dean enjoying vibrating beds; no more picking up ladies; no more fairies in microwaves.
  • It’s now a drama. This hurts me the most. I don’t watch dramas because I like my entertainment to make me laugh. The world is serious enough, so I need fun, humor, and creativity. Supernatural hasn’t had that in a long time.

This will probably be my last Supernatural post that discusses current episodes or recent seasons. It is with a heavy heart that I say I will probably stop trying to watch it. I still love many of the seasons, but it has taken a direction that no longer interests or entertains me. I think I’ll stick to the reruns.
Feel free to let us know what you think in the comments!

Today’s Teens Wouldn’t Have Survived the ’80s and ’90s

As a parent to a teenager, I am fully qualified to write this post. It’s necessary to do so, or I may explode on one of today’s youth. This week, I watched the timeless ’90s classic Jawbreaker. A deliciously wicked mix of pretty iconic ’90s teen actors and girl-hate, complete with social statements, murder and Marilyn Manson.

Watching Jawbreaker got me thinking though. As I struggle with my own teenager to do simple things like homework, I am reminded that teens in the ’80s and ’90s had it hard. We were caught between an evolving world while trying to maintain our innocence

RavenRant

Here are five reasons why today’s teens would have “literally” died in the ’80s and ’90s:

Lack of tech

I love the meme that says: Respect your parents because they survived school without Google. Preach on. Not only that, but teachers nowadays also give students digital resources to study and do their work. Most of us had to go to the library (gasp!) to research and use a computer. Some of us – those really lucky – had computers at home, but dealt with slow Internet connections and printers that freaked out the night before a paper was due. There were no cellphones, much less ones that did work for you. Texting and social media didn’t exist. If you wanted to reach someone, you called or paged their beeper. Even less of us had those.

As far as entertainment, we had a TV and maybe a video game console. We read books. We played outside. We got sunburned from staying out too long because there was nothing else to do. We couldn’t – and most didn’t want to – waste time staring at a screen all day. Sure, technology makes much of our tasks easier now, but teens need to get a grip and do something else. It’s not rocket science; maybe get off the devices and do something productive.

We were a lot tougher

I had to get my first job when I was 10 years old. I didn’t have a choice because I wanted something important that my parents couldn’t afford. My first job was mowing yards and washing cars. I used a push mower, and the back incline was at a 45-degree angle. I weighed all of 65 lbs., but I pushed that mower side to side on that hill every week. When I was 15, I started at the store and remained there until I was 26. I essentially grew up at work.

Many of our parents couldn’t afford to buy us whatever we wanted. We got a couple of things for holidays, and we appreciated them. Way more than teens today do. And we dang sure didn’t get a $300 phone and $700 bucks worth of games, clothes, music, etc. In high school, most of my friends had almost full-time jobs, and we had to have them to help support ourselves and families. We had and wanted to become self-sufficient.

The world did not revolve around us. Ever.

The absence of social media meant we could not – and never would be – the center of attention. We were all equal. Sure, there were cliques, but you knew who your true friends were and you helped protect others. We cared about life. We knew hurt and sorrow. I knew four people in high school who died in tragic accidents, but we didn’t disrespect them by posting horrible comments about how much we hated them or go on about how big the loss. We were private, and we respected each other. We had a sense of comradery and looked out for one another. The world owned us nothing, and we had to depend on ourselves.

No Re-dos

I was blown away a few weeks ago when I found out kids can retake tests they fail (in Nashville). What?! Retakes?

I feel this is a disservice to students. First, there are no retakes in college. Secondly, there are no retakes in life or work. If you fail, you fail. It’s that simple. Teens in the ’80s and ’90s made a ton of mistakes, but most of us turned out fine. We made mistakes, partied, lied to our parents, they busted us, and we paid the price. It made us smarter too because we had to think of creative ways to get what we wanted. How do you change or improve yourself if you can just redo your mistakes? That goes against reality in ways I don’t even have words to express. Shame on the administrators who approved that process in order to achieve higher test scores.

Censorship Didn’t Exist

I was young when Tipper Gore went on her censorship crusade and eventually got the “explicit language” warning on albums. Did that stop me from buying those albums. Of course not! Did it stop people of age buying me CDs with those lyrics? Of course not! The music scene in the ’80s and ’90s was raw, expressive and full of protest. Much of it was passionate and spoke out against wrongdoings. We weren’t sheltered from the real world, we lived in it and could relate to the music.

We watched the O.J. Simpson trial and verdict in our classrooms (I was 13 years old). We followed trials that accused Michael Jackson of child sexual abuse (11 years old). We were there when Bill Clinton faced his adultery mistake with Monica Lewinsky (15 years old). We lived through the Columbine High School tragedy (17 years old) and watched the world in turmoil during the Gulf War (8-9 years old). Our parents didn’t keep it from us; they educated and better prepared us for the world that we live in now.

With all that said, I applaud all of you who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s. Thanks for reading and becoming the people you are!