A treat bag full of spooky sites
Based on all the piles of candy I'm seeing at the grocery store, and the aisles of talking tombstones at the drug store, Halloween is coming. The Web loves the spooky holiday, and this week's five-link Friday offers up a treat bag of spooky sites.
• is a Halloween classic. We've come a long way from the days of simple triangle eyes and crooked mouths. The has become infamous, but the was new to me. Here's the .
• Some of us carve pumpkins, but the sculpts them. I think this may give me nightmares.
• The Court TV site has a fun Halloween game: Instead of Whack-a-Mole, play Remember, hit 'em in the head.
• Martha Stewart has a boatload of Halloween fun on her site. From (that's a pretty ) to recipes for such treats as , Martha brings the scary (just like she does ).
• If you remember Casper, the Friendly Ghost, do you remember his tough pal, Spooky? (He had a strong Brooklyn accent and called his girlfriend, Pearl, "Poil.") Scott Shaw's wonderful Oddball Comics site focuses on an where Spooky comes up against Dracula, Wolfman and Frankenstein's monster.
More movie clichés: Hey, let's put on a show!
Turns out an e-mail glitch was stopping most of your mail at the door and sending it … who knows where? It’s been fixed now, and you’ve sent in some great movie and TV clichés. If you got an error message when you tried to send before, go ahead and try again. I’m loving reading these.
TALENT SHOWS“Why is it that every successful sitcom, at least once during its lifespan, will feature a Talent Show? In all my days of actual life I can count on no hands the number of times someone, anyone, I know was able to solve all their financial problems by throwing together a Talent Show. Is Hollywood really that convinced that the rest of America is like they are: hammy actors willing to do anything for a buck?” --Gary
EYES HAVE IT“My mother pointed this one out. If you watch creepy movies from the 1930s, portraits have the moving eyes.” --Katy
UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE“My favorite is in any horror movie. Menacing creepy guy comes into the room with a knife/gun/hatchet/blowtorch and scared hero/heroine immediately runs up the stairs. Not into another room on floor level or, God forbid, out a door. No, they run up the stairs so there can be a dramatic victim-kills-psychotic-maniac-by-throwing-him/her-out-a-window scene.” --Michelle
R-R-R-R…“Why do perfectly good cars never start when someone’s in trouble in a movie?” --S
IN THE BAG
“I love how everyone who has just come from the grocery store has a long baguette of French bread and something green and leafy (like the tops of carrots freshly picked from the earth) sticking out of the top of the bag. I can’t remember the last time I bought either of those things. The bags never seem to be the unattractive plastic bags that I always seem to have either.” --Ann
A THREE’S COMPANY FAVORITE“How about sitcoms that always have one character [pull] another character into the kitchen to talk privately? This is always met by the annoyingly predictable gag of those listening at the door who fall into the kitchen when the door is opened. Why do the audiences still laugh at this one? I don’t get it.” --Marilyn
HOW DID THE BABY CROSS THE ROAD?“My favorite cliche takes place with just about every car chase (‘The French Connection’ is the most famous example): you see a lady with a baby carriage, stroller, etc., waiting to cross the street. Bad Guy zips past and Ladywithababy tries to cross the street. Good Guy comes along and has to swerve to avoid Ladywithababy, which he/she miraculously does even if he’s doing 95 down a busy street and only sees her when Ladywithababy is 6 inches from the car! Also, have you ever noticed whenever Good Guy swerves to avoid Ladywithababy that he NEVER headons into oncoming traffic? If any of us tried that in the real world we’d be a greasy spot in the opposite lane.” --Melissa
You know the scene: It happens in every TV show and movie. Someone hangs up the phone, and the other person, now holding an empty line, hears a dial tone. Try it! Call someone and ask them to hang up. You won't hear a dial tone. I guess that's how you know you're not in a movie.
Another movie cliché is the perfect timing of any radio plot point. If you're driving around in a pouring rainstorm, you'll snap on the radio just in time to hear the news broadcast about the escaped prisoner with the hook-hand who's stalking you.
This also happens in a weird time-warpy way with TV broadcasts. In the movies, someone can call you and tell you to turn on the TV to see a news bulletin affecting you. Even though they presumably were already watching said news, had to take the time to call you, and you had to take the time to get to your set, the exact bulletin you want will just be beginning as you turn on your TV. It's like they started it over just for you!
Another of my favorites involves paying for things in the movies. No one ever needs correct change for a restaurant or taxi, they're miraculously able to pay, often with one bill, and move on to the real plot in a half-second.
In science fiction, if you go back in time, you're almost certain to accidentally step on something minor and completely change your own present. Ray Bradbury did it in "Sound of Thunder," Homer did it in "The Simpsons," and everyone's done it in-between.
Roger Ebert, a man who's seen enough movies to be a true expert on spotting the clichés, keeps a fun list of these (here's a , a larger version can be found in "Roger Ebert's Video Companion"). Probably his most famed one is the "fruit cart" cliche, so famed it's even become an expression. Ebert defines it as "An expletive used by knowledgeable film buffs during any chase scene involving a foreign or ethnic locale, reflecting their certainty that a fruit cart will be overturned during the chase, and an angry peddler will run into the middle of the street to shake his fist at the hero's departing vehicle."
These movie clichés are gathered in a number of places on the Web. The aptly named is one of my favorite sources for them. Read through some of them, thinking about the movies and TV shows you've seen, and feel free to send in your favorites, as well as the movies or programs you saw them in.
Songs about God, Texas, and Christmas in prison
My family added satellite radio to our cars this year, and our satellite company now allows us to listen online, from any computer. But listening online offers an even cooler perk than listening in the car: You can scroll down a list and see all the songs playing at any one time.
Just like with regular radio, certain songs are on ALL THE TIME. At the moment, those include Weezer's "Beverly Hills," that Kelly Clarkson "Hazel Eyes" song, Crazy Frog's "Axel F," and Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl." (BANANAS! B-A-N-A-N-A-S!)
And just as with cable television, you may have hundreds of channels, but that doesn't guarantee they're all gems. Did I ever need to hear Ringo Starr's "Back Off Boogaloo" again? Eddie Murphy's "Party All The Time"? Don Johnson's "Heartbeat"? Will Smith's anything?
Some songs could be sung in church, maybe. "God Bless God," and "Mama Was Singing to Jesus" are among the titles. They remind me of the "South Park" episode where Cartman convinced his pals to form a Christian band by rewriting rock songs, telling them "Just change 'baby' to 'Jesus'!"
Some song titles just speak for themselves, like "My Give a Damn's Busted," "My Sugar is So Refined," or "Happiness is a Thing Called Joe." And some use parentheses to great effect as with "The One That Got Away (Got Away With My Heart)."
Texas could have its own satellite station, or maybe several. Songs about the Lone Star State include "And God Created Texas," and "Raisin' Cane in Texas."
Country and bluegrass songs could make you cry just from just the titles. Recent tunes played included "Robin Built a Nest on Daddy's Grave" and "Christmas in Prison."
Sometimes it's not the song that's surprising, it's the singer. I once caught Aerosmith's Steven Tyler on the kids' station singing Oscar The Grouch's "I Love Trash." And clean-cut Pat Boone singing Guns N' Roses' "Paradise City."
I'm not sure any song title can top my favorite title from the 1980s, "I'm Going to Hire a Wino (To Decorate Our Home)." I haven't heard that one on satellite — I imagine "Wino" isn't a politically correct term these days, but it was a heckuva song title nonetheless.
What's your favorite oddball song title? If you've got one, send it in.