Scare Tactics

Function: adjective
Definition: frightening
Synonyms: alarming, bloodcurdling, chilling, creepy, hair-raising, hairy, horrendous, horrifying, intimidating, shocking, spine-chilling, spooky, terrifying, unnerving

Let’s agree on some ground terms as there are different types of horror films. I’ve split into four categories the techniques (tactics, if you prefer) commonly used in, and often defining, horror films.

The Gross-Factor: they pull out all the intestines and eye slashing stops; most zombie films I’ve seen rely on the gross-factor to get by.

The Creep-Factor: Ringu, Jacob’s Ladder and even Donnie Darko are great examples.

The Suspense Factor: this is my favourite – think of the part in Alien when Dallas was crawling through the ducts with a flame-thrower. Terminator, Jaws & The Shining had lots of it.

The “BOO!” factor: this is the one where your senses are assaulted by sudden flashes of visuals and audio – it’s all I remember about Event Horizon and it’s the cheapest kind of horror.

Now let’s look at a few really good horror films.

Alien. This came out when I was 9. I don’t remember when I saw it. Very little gross-factor, as far as I’m concerned. There’s the chest bursting scene and apart from a few short scenes of blood, that’s it. They’re all well done and I wouldn’t say they’re gratuitous. Oh, I guess the scene where Ash goes nuts is kind of gross, but still, I’m sticking with my low GF rating.

The Ring. High on the Creepy Factor. Disturbing and unsettling. I don’t remember any GF but there was definitely some Suspense Factor. If I recall correctly the BOO Factor was minimal to nonexistent.

King Kong (’76). I saw this when I was quite young, and it had an impact on me. Fighting with that snake had some GF but to me the most horrifying will always be the part when Kong was spinning that log to make the people fall down into the chasm. That was probably a bit too intense for me at my tender young age, so that’s stuck with me.

The Shining. Lots of creepiness, lots of suspense. No Gross-Factor to speak of. A real class-act.

John Carpenter’s The Thing. There was a fair amount of Gross-Factor in this – but it was divided between the blood ‘n’ gore kind of gross and the horrific-looking-slimy-shapechanging-alien kind of gross. Mostly it was suspense, with a touch of creepiness and a tiny smidgeon of BOO-factor at the end.

The Blair Witch Project. No Gore-Factor, no BOO-Factor. All SF and CF. I saw this in the theater and it actually had me shivering, but that could have been because the air-conditioning was up way too high. Also it played upon my fears of being in the woods at night (which comes down to bears, actually).

The Exorcist. Demon vomit definitely qualifies as gross, but I would say the main technique here is the Creepy-Factor.

Yvonne asked me if there were any movies that scared me. Well, if we’re talking about jumping in your seat because the scene went from quiet and serene to violently loud, then yes, Punch Drunk Love scared me when the semi came out of nowhere.

However, if you’re talking about a movie that leaves you with nightmares and noctiphobia, then the only movie that’s truly given me the heebie-jeebies in my adult life would have to be The Blair Witch Project. But they have yet to make a movie that is so scary that I wouldn’t watch it alone.

The Esquire Man's hated nemesis: woman hair.

I was going through my heap of magazines today, trying to reduce the clutter (for the nonce) in my work area and indeed, the entire living room. I came across this quote from an article in the July 2003 edition of Esquire.

What conclusions can I draw from a woman who steadfastly refuses to get a bikini wax?

I’ts unreasonable to expect any woman to maintain a trim caterpillar-sized patch at all times–the upkeep is tough, painful, and expensive, and most jobs don’t allow you to write it off. However, it is reasonable to expect her to keep her crotch from looking like Benji, and if she isn’t doing that much, then you’ve got a problem on your hands, and in the back of your throat. First, you need to rule out some things: Is she foreign? No? Is she Robin Williams? No? Then it’s possible that the woman in question is a hippie and you’ve chosen to ignore the warning signs: rock-crystal deodorant, hemp butter. Sound familiar? If this is the case, let me offer my deepest sympathy. The situation is hopeless, but I hope you have fun at Burning Man. Or she could be a rebel by nature, which can mean only one thing: trouble. Still, she might take issue with waxing specifically, in which case you may want to gently remind Grizzly Adams that there are many other ways to remove hair.

Now I have a question for Stacey Grenrock Woods, the author of the article: What conclusions can I draw from a woman who propagates–on her own gender no less–uptight, narrow-minded, masochistic esthetics towards something as natural as pubic hair?

I dedicate this entry to my jive-talkin' friends

Here’s a few things that have been bugging me lately.

Hizouse (sic?) – what’s the deal? Why do we need the “iz” in the middle of that word? What purpose does it serve? Where did it come from? Where is it going? In the gizarbage, I hizope. I’m so square.

f’ing or effing or whatever. Everyone knows that when you say “f’ing” you mean fucking, so why bother? I could kind of, possibly understand using it if you’re in the presence of a seven-year-old (but only if her parents are around), but if you’re hanging out with adults I don’t see the point. Whose delicate sensibilities are you trying to cushion? Same thing with friggin’ or frickin’ – I’ve heard both of those used. As a word, ‘fuck’s whole raison d’etre is to offend, so to water it down is to strip it of its sole purpose. But if you must soften the word fuck because it’s too vulgar, don’t use some lame bastardized version of a real word*. Try replacing it altogether with ‘screw’ or ‘hell’ or ‘damn’. Those are actual words that actually mean actually something, and can add to your statements rather than confuse and muddle them.

*The word, by the way, apparently comes from (or was at least first printed in) an old poem written partly in English and partly in Latin in the 14th century. It’s translated from the latin “fuccant.” The poem is “Flen Flyss” (Fleas, Flies [and Friars]) and it satirized Roman Catholic monks who fornicated with the “wives of [the town] Ely.” More….

putting the fun back in funeral

Stewie has agreed, at my behest, that should he outlive me, he will come to my funeral and make a scene. I believe the details of the scene are completely up to him, but I hope it will involve a lot of running around, and that the soundtrack will be this song:

Your horoscope

Why waste precious time checking your horoscope every day or week? Here’s your new, custom-made horoscope by a trained astrologer that is good for every day of the rest of your life. Print it out and hang it on the wall:

TODAY’S HOROSCOPE (__________________<-insert your sign here) Today one of a million different aspects of your life will come to the fore in a very general way. Don't miss out on an opportunity to have fun or grow. Realize your potential. Follow your heart. You are an individual. A friend may tell you that astrology is bunk; take heed.


My friends Carina and Tim recently announced that they were engaged (to be married, not engaged in hand to hand melee or the gears of a clock). Usually one of the first things I think about when people get married is if any names will change. It seems so 16th century to change names when you get married. Do people still do it, and why? If I get married, I might change my name, but not out of tradition or anti-tradition, only because it’s the perfect opportunity. Like the witness protection program.

Toren Q Awesome.

The Children of the Hydra's Teeth

I don’t usually get headaches. So when I woke up yesterday with a diller of a killer, the only thing I could think to do was to try to go back to sleep. We had house guests who were milling about so to minimize noise I had to close the door to my room, but that only led to Kodoserwauling (oh with such fondness I remember that little villa in the hills of Germany). Earplugs were required. Another catch 22 was the fact that it seemed especially stuffy in the room but to open the window to let the breeze in was to subject myself to traffic noise. So – it didn’t work for the longest time, but eventually I did get back to sleep and when I woke up at around 2:30 there was just a mote of residual lingering dullness sloshing around my noggin. It wasn’t bad but the whole experience definitely affected the rest of my day. At the hair-cutting party at Dalia’s I was constantly cutting into everyone but since the jibes I made were profoundly hilarious and hilariously profound I think I won’t go to hell for that. Other things yes, but not for that.




The haircutting party was fun, but I didn’t get my hair cut. Did I already talk about this? A good haircut cannot be undermined, to be sure, but in the same way that candles and kleenex are completely dispensible in my lifestyle, I consider haircuts to be a kind of luxury. They are not has high on my list of priorities, especially since my main employer is behind on their payments for the first time in living memory (the second-best kind of memory), and especially I can get a free “not professional haircut but certainly nothing to sneeze in” haircut at a moment’s notice. I would have felt bad for not supporting Andrea – the hairdressing diva who could do no wrong at the haircutting party – but after 8 haircuts in a row I would have felt guilty if I made her work any longer.

And what happened the day before yesterday? I watched Jason and the Argonauts with James and Marlo and James noisy lovebird. Oh, the clippedness of the wings. Water, water, what hast thou done’st? Marlo pointed out that “the children of the hydra’s teeth” (a quote from the film) would be a good name for a song. Good thing I’m writing that down for reference.