Saturday, October 31, 2009

Shocktober, 10/31/09

A last look around La Casa del Terror on All Hallow's Eve. (See if you can spot Olivia!)

Happy Halloween, everybody.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Shocktober, 10/30/09, Part 5

Halloween in downtown Chicago.

Shocktober, 10/30/09, Part 4

Halloween views from around the hood.

Shocktober, 10/30/09, Part 3

Indiana Bones.

Shocktober, 10/30/09, Part 2

Shocktober, 10/30/09, Part 1

Last week, JB and I went to the Portage to see The Bat, a cool old silent horror flick. They had a very nice display in the lobby, too.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shocktober, 10/29/09, Part 5

The postcard Son of Svengoolie (now just "plain" Svengoolie) sent me back in 1980.

Shocktober, 10/29/09, Part 4

Do you think the advertising department at WGBO was being snarky or ironic when they used their tagline ("Chicago's Great Movie Station") to describe this movie? Probably not.

Shocktober, 10/29/09, Part 3

I have no idea what toy line this monster belongs to--Power Rangers? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?--but it may well be the most disturbing action figure I own. Not only is it covered with eyeballs, but two of them shoot out at you. And the two are placed right about where nipples would be on a person.

That's right--it shoots its nipples at you.

Shocktober, 10/29/09, Part 2

An especially festive house on Wilson Ave. near Western.

Shocktober, 10/29/09, Part 1


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Shocktober, 10/28/09

For Halloween 1981, Sven showed a double feature of The Mummy and House of Horrors. This year? Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Shocktober: Creature Features Intro (sort of)

I was fortunate enough to grow up in Chicago, where I had many local TV viewing options when I was young and impressionable.

Not only could I enjoy the antics of Svengoolie (both the original, Jerry G. Bishop, and his replacement--still going strong after 30 years!--Rich Koz), but I could cower on the couch of what passed for our family rec room as the strains of Henry Mancini's "experiment in Terror" played over the intro to WGN's Creature Features, which played the classic Universal horror films from the '30s and '40s, as well as various sci-fi flicks and even the occasional Godzilla film.

The aforementioned creepy intro was accidentally thrown out by WGN ages ago, and no videotape has turned up (most people didn't have VCRs in the early '70s). However, an enterprising soul has re-created the intro on YouTube, using an audio recording of the program to add the spooky voice of newsman/voiceover guy Carl Grayson to the footage of the Wolf Man, Frankenstein Monster and Dracula stalking the night.


Shocktober, 10/27/09

Giant Japanese monsters love Halloween, too!

Monday, October 26, 2009


Last week was bad. Long hours at work. Little sleep. Too much to do on the weekend to get proper rest. Wah wah wah.

This week didn't start off any better. First thing this morning, I got a meeting notice to discuss a mistake we'd made in a file released to the printer on Friday. We released more than 100 files that day--no mention of them. We released two with errors. Those we had to talk about at length.

When I walked out for lunch (eschewing the lovely can of pineapple chunks at my desk), I was in a fairly miserable mood, and the gray, drizzerable sky above me seemed to agree.

As I walked along the busy downtown street, head weighed down with self-pity, I saw a man walk out of a shop head of me. A young guy--no more than 30--wearing a baseball cap, short-sleeved shirt and shorts. Because he was wearing shorts, I could see he was walking on two prosthetic legs, and the envelope he was holding was clasped by a hook rather than a hand.

I looked down at my own body. Malformed as it may be, I have all my limbs, and on most days they function reasonably well.

No matter how bad my day or week is, it could be a whole lot worse.

Shocktober, 10/26/09

"Hulk like to dress up for Halloween!"

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Shocktober, 10/25/09

Yesterday, Swamp Thing was looking to his left at someone...or something.

Specifically, Man-Thing, the similarly themed swamp creature created by Marvel Comics who first appeared in print in the May 1971 of Savage Tales--just two months before Swamp Thing's debut in DC's House of Secrets.

The latter is more famous, most likely because of legendary writer Alan Moore's tenure on the Swamp Thing comic book in the 1980s. (Moore would go on to write essential graphic novels like Watchmen, The Killing Joke and From Hell.) Swamp Thing also had two movies--the first one is decent in a campy way, while the second should be avoided if at all possible--as well as a TV series and a cartoon.

Man-Thing? He had a movie that went straight to Sci-Fi Channel. Given how awful "Sci-Fi Original Movies" usually are, Man-Thing looks good by comparison. (In reality...yikes.)

Man-thing also had one other thing going for him. Back in the '70s, Marvel also published quarterly issues with extra pages and backup reprints. What did they call these special issues? Giant-Size Man-Thing.

Yes. Well.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Shocktober, 10/24/09

Swamp Thing hanging out in my bathroom. Who's that he's looking at? Tune in tomorrow and find out.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Shocktober, 10/22/09

"Solomon Grundy, born on Monday, Solomon Grundy, born on Monday..."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

shocktober, 10/20/09

Sometimes it snows on Halloween in Chicago. And sometimes Halloween decorations stay up way too long. (This shot was taken on Valentine's Day 2008.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Shocktober, 10/18/09

This sign hands on my bedroom door all year long. What does that mean? I'll leave that to your imagination, gentle reader.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Cat in the Window

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with Superbadfriend (as I often do), and she mention that, when she and her husband dropped me off after our excursion to the Cascade Drive-in, she saw Ms. Christopher sitting in one of the living room windows.

"Which window?" I asked. The one farthest to the right (as seen from outside), she said.

That made sense. That had been Christopher's favorite window.

It also confirmed something I believed for some time--that Christopher's spirit still pads around La Casa del Terror.

Sometimes, I feel a cat jump on the bed when Olivia is already peacefully burrowed under the covers next to me.

Sometimes, I hear a cat sharpening its claws when Olivia sitting next to me, waiting for me to offer some of the milk from my Miller's Pub pint glass.

Sometimes. I even catch a glimpse of white fur out of the corner of my eye, but when I turn to look, there's nothing there.

It was a year ago today that Ms. Christopher died, and I still miss my sweet old bird. But she's still here in spirit, at least.

Oddly comforting, that.

Shocktober, 10/16/09

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Shocktober, 10/13/09

Not a Wolfman, but a...Man-Wolf!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday Miscellania 10/12/09

Last Movie I saw: Whip It. Why did this movie fail at the box office? Was it resistance to the concept of Drew Barrymore as a director? (She does a relatively straightforward job--not bad for a first-timer, but with plenty of room to grow.) Was it a general lack of interest in roller derby? Was it backlash-by-proxy against Diablo Cody because Ellen Page starred in Juno? (At least one review I read felt the need to crack on RS while praising Page--Diablo-as-piƱata has become the latest crutch for lazy film critics.)

Whatever. Whip It is an entertaining little flick--the plot is a cliche combo of "teen rebels against tight-assed mom" and "bad-but-plucky sports team becomes good enough to play for the championship," but it's more than slightly freshened by a remarkably deep cast (Page, Daniel Stern, Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Zoe Bell and Barrymore herself).

If you can't get out to one of the few theaters still rolling it, look for it on cable or DVD in a few months. It'll be worth it.

Travel Reading: Chicago TV Horror Shows: From Shock Theatre to Svengoolie. This history of local TV shows specializing in horror films given to me as a Christmas present by JB a couple of years ago, and it's been an off-and-on travel companion of mine ever since. Writers Ted Okuda and Mark Yurkiw ramble a bit--they could have used a good copyeditor.

They do, however, hit many the high points of my misspent youth, including Creature Features on WGN (with its creepy Henry Mancini theme music and that drawing of Lon Chaney from London After Midnight that gave me nightmares for years) and both the original Svengoolie, Jerry G. Bishop, and his successor, Son of Svengoolie, Rich Koz, who's still on the air every Saturday night, with bad movies and worse jokes. I couldn't think of a better visual comfort food.

Last, But Not Least: The Chicago Transit Authority announced today that as of February 2010, they're simultaneously raising fares (some as high as $3 per ride) and cutting service. So, we'll be paying even more and getting even less! Happy Monday, everybody!

Shocktober, 10/12/09

Friday, October 9, 2009

Shocktober, 10/9/09

The wall of Halloween Barbie.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Shocktober, 10/8/09

The living room window of La Casa del Terror--a preview of horrors to come.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

Game Over

In Chicago, baseball season ended yesterday.

Actually, yesterday was merely a formality. In reality, baseball season was over for this city some time ago.

That's not how it was supposed to be. The Cubs and White Sox were both supposed to contend for their respective division titles. The Cubs were even viewed as World Series contenders by some.

Not by me, though. I knew this year's team chemistry was in trouble when general manager Jim Hendry signed free agent outfielder Milton Bradley to play right field. Granted, Bradley was coming off his best season in the Major Leagues, and the Cubs lineup needed a left-handed bat (Bradley is a switch hitter), but his record of injuries and public blowups, plus the fact that he'd been with seven different teams in his 10-year career, should have screamed "BUYER BEWARE!" at Hendry.

Instead, he signed Bradley anyway, and the predictable mayhem ensued: Bradley underperformed; fans got on him; he argued with manager Lou Pinella and the media; and he blamed damn near everyone but himself for his failings. (He also claimed more than once that fans had hurled racial epithets at his, but refused to go into specifics about who allegedly said what when.) By the time Hendry suspended Bradley for the remainder of the season for his constant bitching, it was too late--the season was well out of hand.

Hendry also stumbled in his other off-season dealings, like trading popular utility man Mark DeRosa (and then missing him mightily when third baseman Aramis Ramirez went down with a separated shoulder), signing free agent infielder Aaron Miles (who was injured much of the season and his poorly when he wasn't hurt) and trading fifth starter Jason Marquis (who went on to be an All-Star for the Colorado Rockies).

To be fair, it wasn't all Hendry's fault. As mentioned above, Ramirez was injured early and was missing for the middle of the season, and four of the Cubs starters--Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster, Rich Harden and Carlos Zambrano--spent time on the disabled list. Underachievers Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukadome and Zambrano didn't help matters either.

Under the circumstances, they probably did better than they should have. Given the pre-season expectations, though, they didn't do well enough.

The White Sox weren't expected to win their division, but they were expected to put up more of a fight than they did. Instead, injuries to key players (Carlos Quentin) and underachievement by others (Jermaine Dye had a great first half, but tailed off badly in the second half, and none of the starting pitchers truly excelled, even though Mark Buerhle threw a perfect game in August--and then lost most of his starts thereafter) sank the team well before they were formally eliminated.

So. Baseball season continues in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, as it usually does, and in Detroit, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Anaheim, too. Chicago's baseball fans will go into their usual winter slumber, awaking again next spring with hopes renewed. Fans on the South Side, at least, have the comfort of knowing that they've won a World Series in living memory (2005, to be exact).

For Cubs fans? The best they can hope is that some year soon, "next year" will finally arrive.

Shocktober, 10/5/09

The full moon, as seen from Superbadfriend's back porch.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Shocktober, 10/3/09

As noted yesterday, I saw this piece of crap at the Cascade Drive-In last Friday night. I really enjoyed going to a drive-in again, especially with a carful of snarky friends. A great time in spite of--not because of--the utterly humorless Rob Zombie. Sadly, though, Halloween II turned a profit, so we can look forward to Halloween III a couple of years from now.