Wednesday, May 09, 2007

True Horror Stories

We were at a dinner part this past weekend with friends. The weather was May perfect sunshine, light breezes and nice chill in the air. We pulled out their chiminea and got a fire stoked. At one point the conversation turned to movies and there was a survey of "who likes horror movies?" Some said they enjoyed a select few, others said they had no time for the genre.

Horror movies turned to talk of Jaws which, in turn, turned to an episode of MythBusters where they tested the idea of shooting a scuba tank with a rifle and making it explode. That brought about some chuckles about the whole concept.

Then one of the guests talked about how he witnessed his uncle's house in Lebanon being blown up by men shooting the butane tank outside the house during the war. Apparently, they use butane rather than propane for heat/cooking in that region. He remarked that that was horror and one of the reasons he left Lebanon.

That conversation's been bouncing around in my head for a few days -- how many of us here in the States and other 'stable' lands have never witnessed true horror -- is that why we have a love affair with horror movies and scary rides? Most of us don't know what it means to be scared in real life, day-in and day-out.

What happens when our troops come home from living in the horror of war? While they have 'normalcy' to come home to -- what's left in and of their minds? What about their families? What about their community? For that matter, what's the lasting effect on those people that live in lands where war is 'normalcy'?

I just need to appreciate more the lives we have.

Along those lines, here's a shout-out to a charity that does good work for the US troops and their families: Fisher House Foundation. Here's a review of the charity at Charity Navigator. And here's a charity, American Near East Refugee Aid (their review on CN) that works to improve communities in the Middle East ravaged by war.

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Friday, November 10, 2006


When I was a kid in the 1970's a movie was on TV called Sssssss, starring Dirk Benedict (before Battlestar Galactica and the A-Team fame) as a college student that volunteers to help a scientist work with snakes. It turns out that the scientist injects his 'helpers' with a series of king cobra venom doses that has the unwitting students turning into snakes. The creepiest part of this movie is when we see one of his failed experiments in a carnival side show -- half boy/half snake.

The memory of that scene has always stuck in my mind. In fact, I found out that my little brother's wife will not allow discussion or mention of the movie in her presence or household because of that scene.

Now, some 30 years later, I like to rent old horror movies that I enjoyed as a youngster for my own kids to watch. I rented Sssss from Netflix recently and once we started watching realized that it had originally been released in theaters with a PG rating. I found that it could have used some of that "edited for TV" magic for the kids. (co-founded by my friend, whiffle ball nemesis, and old and Infonautics colleague, Sunny Balijepalli) promises to allow the ability to edit and mix movies you own so that you can play them the way you want on your pc or desktop.

What will be cool is when Apple releases its iTV product in 2007, I would assume you'd then be able to stream your Cuts-created videos to your living/family room entertainment center, rather than having to watch on the computer.

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