I ain’t afraid of no ghost–because I own a house

While home sick this week, I decided to take the opportunity to do something I never get to do now that I’m married. I watched a horror movie.

It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the Hubby can’t even handle the evil queen scenes in a Disney movie. The second there’s scary music and a darkened room, he’s out. When I started watching American Horror Story, I had to shut it off before he would even enter the room because the opening credits were too scary for him.  (Granted, I haven’t been in our basement since watching Murder House.  But the Hubby doesn’t need to know that!)

But he’s cute and he puts up with Downton Abbey, New Girl, Game of Thrones, and Orange is the New Black, despite claiming to hate all four of them (which is clearly a blatant lie, but whatever). And I prefer horror books to horror movies anyway, so I didn’t consider giving up my scary movies to be much of a sacrifice. And I can still watch them when he’s not home, which makes them even better because then I get the additional fear factor of NOT having him there to protect me from the evil monsters in the television.

So I sat down (okay laid down with Rosie, a cup of tea, and a box of tissues—I WAS sick after all) to watch The Conjuring. And wound up browsing Wayfair on my phone for living room furniture, the prices of which scared me more than the movie.

It’s not that I’m unscare-able. I’m quite scare-able. I still haven’t watched the clown doll scene in Poltergeist. I know the kid lives. I know the doll isn’t real. But as soon as it’s off that chair, I’m out. Too scary.

I think the real problem is home ownership. The premise of haunted house movies SHOULD terrify home owners. You’re moving into a new space and you have no idea what else could be living in there with you.   And that’s basically how every haunted house movie starts.

Although I’ve definitely gained a greater appreciation for why the family always stays in the house.  Like as a kid, I’d be yelling at the screen for the stupid family to just move out.  But now, I get it.  We sank our entire life-savings into our house, plus all of our wedding present money into fixing it up.  I don’t care if the walls bleed, there are monsters in the closets, or some demonic voices telling us to GET OUT.  I’ll tell them to either shut up or get out themselves.  We’re going nowhere!

However, since buying our dream house a year ago, I’ve discovered that there are far worse problems that a house can have than a couple of malicious spirits.

Like the toxic mold in our air vents. While the Hubby claims that I’m sick from October to April, that’s typically not entirely true. Yes, as a teacher, I get sick a little more often than the average professional (thanks, kids, for sneezing all over my computer keyboard every time you sit at it. I appreciate that oh so much). But I’ve had a chronic cough that no course of modern medicine or even good, old-fashioned chicken soup from my grandma will fix since we moved in. So the Hubby decided it was time to get the air vents cleaned. I agreed, bought a Groupon, and a nice Israeli man came and ripped all of our painted-over vents off the wall (thanks previous homeowners) and cleaned one square inch inside each one, then showed us what the rest of our vents looked like and told us the exorbitant sum it will cost to get that scum out of our house.

Pretty sure an exorcism is cheaper and more effective than that.

Not to mention the other problem that the air-vent skimmer showed us. Apparently our dryer vent was made of paper. Not metal. Not even plastic. Literal, flammable-as-all-hell paper.

Which, while scary, was not entirely surprising to us, because we have long-since discovered that the previous homeowners were the cheapest people on the planet. Mr. Previous Homeowner considered himself quite the handyman, and he therefore he did all of the wiring and electrical work in the house himself. Which means that everything is a fire-hazard. Our electrician’s eyes literally displayed dollar signs when he saw what was going on in our unlabeled fuse box.

But the fire hazards didn’t disappear when we fixed the wiring. When we pulled out the old, hideous wood-burning stove insert in the hopes of having a working fireplace, we discovered that there was no fireplace liner and that all of the 1970s tiles that predated liners in our chimney were cracked, coated in creosote from numerous chimney fires, and basically guaranteed to burn our house down if we even attempted to build a fire. Twenty-five hundred dollars later, we had a working fireplace.

Of course, the working fireplace was a necessity because every time the wind blows, a tree falls down in our backyard. Which was terrifying because many of those trees are close enough to our house to cause severe damage, but also because sometimes the trees don’t fall entirely–instead they have massive severed hanging limbs waiting to fall on poor innocent Rosie while she sniffs out the herds of deer and foxes that inherit our yard. And adding to the fear factor there is the price-tag that comes with any tree work.

Because as handy as Hubby and I can be, shimmying a tree with a chainsaw to hack off dangerously dangling limbs is not in our repertoire.

But the working fireplace is necessary for more than just the burning off all of the surfeit of wood that now takes up ¾ of our half-acre yard—because possibly one of the scariest things about home ownership is the cost of heating our house in winter. While I know that ghosts are said to lower the temperature in a house, they only do it in the rooms that they’re in. And our house is cold in all rooms. We replaced the ancient French patio doors that literally had gaps at the top and bottom and we put on fireplace doors, both of which helped. But keeping the house above 62 degrees costs more than a ten night Springsteen stand at the Meadowlands.

The bottom line of which is that I would gladly trade some poltergeists for certain elements of the realities of home-ownership. Granted, ghosts can interfere with a good night’s sleep, but I’m an insomniac anyway. And a haunting would provide excellent fodder for a new book, which could eventually help assuage some of the costs of our typical household horrors.

At least until we have kids. Because that looks like it hurts a lot and the cost of college these days is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

The new Gatsby movie is my favorite movie of all time! And I haven’t even seen it yet

The big day is finally almost here!

You know, the one that every little girl spends her whole life dreaming about and planning.

No, the Boyfriend didn’t propose (much to my mother and his aunt’s dismay—both are starting to talk about retiring and I’m terrified that the combination of two out-of-work yentas will result in my being forced into a giant white puffy dress and hustled down the aisle. And that’s the BEST case scenario, in which there isn’t a Rosemary’s Baby-style, drugged up impregnation attempt to force me to bear them some grandchildren/great nieces and nephews before I’m ready).

I’m talking, of course, about the release of the new Great Gatsby movie!

Yes, I’m the girl who spends hours fantasizing about how amazing that will be. Who needs a wedding when you have Leo in an F. Scott Fitzgerald masterpiece?

 (Okay, okay, yes my new dream wedding is no longer Rabbi Elvis in Vegas.  Thank you, BuzzFeed. http://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/how-to-throw-the-ultimate-great-gatsby-inspired-wedding )

Yes, I’m an English nerd. But that doesn’t change the fact that this is already my favorite movie and it isn’t even out yet.

Why?

Oh, if you have to ask that, you have no idea what you’re missing!

First of all, The Great Gatsby is easily one of the greatest novels ever written. It’s not my ALL-TIME favorite (nothing will ever quite displace Gone With the Wind. It was my first adult novel, my first love, and will always hold that special place in my heart. And yes, it was the theme of my bat mitzvah. English nerds for life, yo!), but it’s easily number two.

It’s just one of those perfect books. Perfect prose. A perfectly tragic story. Perfectly flawed characters. And the most perfect part of all is how well it captures the modern mentality of life today, nearly ninety years after it was written. I would argue that of all the English canon, it is the one that best transcends the gap between when it was written and life today.

 Yes, Romeo and Juliet captures the teenage angst of first love well (and the way too dramatic suicidal tendencies of bratty teenagers who are denied everything their little hearts desire), and Pride and Prejudice aptly portrays the desperation of my mother—I mean A mother—to marry off her aging daughters. (Don’t hurt me mommy, I love you!) But nothing, and I mean nothing, captures the desperate ennui of finding yourself a third of the way through your life with nothing to show for it but a hollow marriage and a desire to recapture the youth that seems to have vanished overnight the way that Gatsby does.

Not to call anybody out, but I look at some of my friends and see the marriage between Tom and Daisy. I see the Jordan Bakers, floating through life without bothering to worry about anyone else. I see the Myrtle Wilsons, thinking that an unavailable man can rescue them, not able to see that he wants nothing more than the physical. And I see the Gatsbys, wanting nothing more than to grasp that green light, only to find that it has no substance to it. And I’ve been those characters at different stages of my life as well. I may not live on Long Island or have money to burn (damn teacher’s salary!), and it may not be prohibition, but I still find myself, each time I reread Gatsby, nodding to myself and thinking, “That’s my life. Right there. That line.” And any novel that can accomplish that NEARLY A CENTURY after its publication amazes me.

But I’m not here to talk about the book.

I’m here to talk about how freaking unbelievably awesome this movie that I haven’t seen yet is.

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Because oh my God, is it going to be great!

First of all, we’ve got Baz Luhrmann. Okay, as a teenager, I thought that his version of Romeo and Juliet was the second coming (first coming? I’m Jewish after all…). There was nothing better until Leo boarded the Titanic. But that same insanely driven over-the-top energy that he poured into Romeo and Juliet and later Moulin Rouge is EXACTLY what the story of Gatsby needs. Gatsby isn’t the cool, filmed-through-gauze world of Robert Redford and Mia Farrow (god how I hate that movie!). No! It’s the lush, colorful flapper days of the Roaring ’20s, and Baz Luhrmann is the filmmaker best prepared to present that story.

Then, of course, there’s Leo. I won’t go into too much drool-inducing detail about why he’ll be so spectacular in the role (mostly because I still want the Boyfriend to take me to see the movie opening night and he already hates Leo because I expressed my belief that Leo and I would have beautiful babies), so I’ll just show you some stills from the movie instead.

I feel that proved my point adequately. Even in Nick Carraway’s initial description of him, he’s described as there being “something gorgeous about him.” Who better to play that part than Leo?

No one, that’s who!

But now, because I still have a week to kill before the movie comes out, it’s time to plan the premiere.

First of all, I need to dress the part. I wanted to go in full flapper regalia, but the Boyfriend refused to dress in a ’20s style suit to match, so I’d look silly. Instead, I’m planning to just wear the flapper style headband with an ostrich feather with my normal clothes. Don’t laugh, I already bought one! But I decided against the cigarette holder (which I already had, from my Holly Golightly Halloween costume. We brunettes need someone OTHER than Dorothy to go as for Halloween you know!) because I don’t smoke and it just looks stupid without a real cigarette in it.

Next, I need to find a really old yellow Rolls Royce to take me to the opening. Yes, I live a block away from the movie theater, but it’s still important to arrive in style!

And finally, it’s set in Prohibition! I need a flask and some hooch!

Just kidding, I’d never drink to watch Gatsby! I want to remember every breathtaking scene. And then I’m going to see it again. And again. Like a boat beating on against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past.

God I can’t wait to see this movie!

The Devil Inside wasn’t scary. So here’s a list of things that are.

I like scary movies.

I’m not talking about the crazily gruesome Saw/Human Centipede variety. You couldn’t pay me to watch those.

But genuine horror movies, when done well, are awesome.

A good horror movie doesn’t just make you jump during the film—it does that too, don’t get me wrong—but a REALLY good horror movie will keep you scared LONG after you leave the theater. If you’re not cowering under the covers with the lights on for a week, the movie didn’t do its job.

Stephen King is, of course, the master of horror. The movies of his books didn’t really scare me, but I’m still haunted by some of his creations. I first read The Shining when I was twelve years old, and to this day, I STILL have to turn on the lights when I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night to make sure that the chick from the bathtub in room 217 isn’t in MY bathtub.

Paranormal Activity didn’t scare me THAT much until my calendar fell off the wall about an hour after watching it. But it succeeded because I definitely debated putting baby powder around my bed to see if a demon stepped in it that night, and made Rosie sleep on the outside of the bed, just so the demon would eat her first.

The same thing happened with The Ring. I wasn’t particularly scared at the time. But when I fell asleep with the tv on a week later and woke up that night to snow on the screen, then realized it was EXACTLY seven days after I’d watched the movie, I went diving into my roommate’s room and insisted on sleeping in her bed. Turns out the cable was just out, but I wasn’t taking any chances!

But there’s nothing worse than a failure of a horror movie.

Trust me. I know from experience.

Because I saw The Devil Inside Friday night and it was the second worst movie-going experience of my life. The first being having to watch the anal rape scene in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo sitting between my mother and grandmother on Christmas day. Seriously. It was up there with THAT level of bad.

The problem? There wasn’t a single truly scary moment in the whole movie.

Literally, the scariest thing that happened in it was when the characters walk past a fenced-in yard and a dog jumps out and starts barking from behind the fence.

I’m not kidding.

And considering that the previews looked super-scary, I don’t understand how it can have epic-failed as much as it did.

People in the theater actually booed when it ended. I’ve never seen that happen before.

I could summarize all of the reasons why it completely sucked, but I’m not even going to dignify the movie with that level of description. Instead, I’m going to give you a list of things that scare me MORE than The Devil Inside.

1. Stink bugs—I almost crashed my car on four separate occasions when I noticed stink bugs in my car. MUCH scarier than that movie.

2. ET—That little alien scares the crap out of me. I mean, he appears to me made of brown leather, his heart glows, he hides in your closet and eats all of the Reese’s Pieces. NOT okay.

3. Twilight fans—these tweens are going to be running the world someday. Be afraid.

4. Joan Rivers’ face—do I need to explain this one?

5. Lady Gaga—I like her. I do. But I’m also scared of her.

6. Peeing on the third rail of the Metro—granted, I’m a girl and would have to literally be right on top of it to try this, and I have no intention of ever doing it. But if you really COULD get electrocuted from peeing on it, that’s scary as hell.

7. Cats—pure unadulterated evil. Except the ones that look like Hitler. They’re ok in my book.

8. Walt Disney’s frozen head—okay, say they find a cure for whatever killed him and bring him back. He’s just going to be a semi-defrosted head. I think if you’re dead, you need to stay dead. And if you’re frozen, STAY FROZEN.

9. The MVA—Call me sheltered if you will, but I never realized the scum of humanity that exists until I went to renew my driver’s license. I’d stay in the Overlook all alone for the winter over going back there, ANY day.

10. Those condoms that are advertised as being 40 percent thinner—I don’t know about you, but when it comes to something that’s supposed to be protection against AIDS, less is NOT more. I feel like if you use those, to quote Mean Girls, you WILL get pregnant and die.

11. The old ladies who walk around buck naked in the gym locker room—Like okay, I understand you need to change your clothes in there. But do you need to dry your hair naked? Or try to have a conversation with me? It’s disturbing!

12. The lion and tiger habitats at the zoo—every once in awhile, you hear those stories about the jungle cats just deciding to leap over the wall. And I know they can. So the lesson here is, do NOT taunt the tigers. They CAN eat you if they want to.

13. Walmart—I’ve never been there and I have no intention of going there. But looking at peopleofwalmart.com means that I know Walmart is scarier than that movie was.

14. The Loch Ness Monster.

15. Pennies–No, they’re not scary. But neither was The Devil Inside.  Then again, my brother swallowed one once.  So next time you’re handing a penny, just remember, someone might have pooped that out before you touched it.  Come to think of it, that’s pretty scary.  And gross.

16. The fact that someone actually green-lit this idiocy of a script and MADE THIS MOVIE. Seriously. Our society has reached an all-time low point now.

All I can say is the The Woman in Black better be actually scary, despite starring Harry Potter. Because I’m planning to see that one, and if it’s even half as bad as The Devil Inside, the creators of those movies are going to have something REALLY scary to fear.

Me.

Because I want a refund on both the money AND the time I wasted watching that crap.

My secret shame: I saw the new Twilight movie opening weekend. By choice.

On Friday night, I did something so ridiculously embarrassing that I spent the rest of the weekend hiding in humiliation.

I could blame my behavior on any number of factors. I could say I did it because I had a rough week, or because I was pressured into it, or because I was kidnapped and forced into it.

But none of those reasons are the truth. The truth is that I made my own decision, shameful as that is to admit. And now it’s time to face the consequences of what I’ve done. And if you judge me for it, well, I suppose I deserve what I get.

So I’m just going to admit to it.

I saw the new Twilight movie.

I did, however, have the sense to be embarrassed about it. There was no way that I wanted anyone to know that I was seeing it, especially less than 24 hours after its release.  And at least I didn’t go to the midnight showing Thursday night. I did do that for most of the Harry Potter movies, half because I was excited about the movies and half because I wanted to see all the dressed up freaks.

Granted, for Breaking Dawn, I WAS one of the dressed up freaks.

No, don’t worry, I didn’t wear a Team Edward of Team Jacob shirt. I despise the girls who have those shirts. I mean, you might as well wear a shirt that says Team Necrophilia or Team Bestiality.

Neither is particularly attractive in my book. Plus, Edward is supposed to be over a hundred years old and Jacob is like a teenager. Team Geriatrics or Team Pedophilia? We know which shirt Jerry Sandusky wears (too soon?), but I’m not into either.

I dressed up to make sure no one at the theater could possibly recognize me.

Doing that took some serious planning on my part. My first idea was to go movie-star incognito, with a big hat, scarf, and sunglasses, but I worried that might draw more attention to me. So that was out.

Then I debated wearing a full burka, but I also worried that would make people stare because what would someone in a burka be doing at the Twilight movie? Yes, the books were written by a Mormon chick and are therefore pretty conservative (Bella finally marries Edward to get him to sleep with her, then immediately gets pregnant with a demon baby and almost dies. I guess the sex ed teacher from Mean Girls was right. If you have sex, you WILL get pregnant and you WILL die), but I don’t think it’s quite conservative enough for orthodox Muslims. Plus, knowing my luck, someone would assume I was there enacting some fiendish terrorist plot because clearly all Muslims are terrorists, and I would wind up spending the entire two hours being detained by a movie theater rent-a-cop instead of watching Mormon-penned geriatric necrophiliac sex. No thanks.

My next plan was to get a Harry Potter invisibility cloak, but did you know those aren’t real? I’m very disillusioned right now. J. K. Rowling, you’re a horrible person for making things like that up.

I mean, I went online, ordered my official Harry Potter invisibility cloak, waited by the mailbox around the clock like I do when Springsteen tickets are on their way, got my cloak, put it on, and… was still completely visible. I want my $79.95 back. Biggest ripoff ever. Next you’re going to tell me that wizards aren’t even real. My official wand from Ollivander’s better work when it arrives or I’m going to stop loving all things Harry Potter for forever.

But with no invisibility cloak, I needed a new game plan to watch Twilight. And then it hit me, it’s DARK in a movie theater. I just needed to be darker than the dark. So I broke out full ninja gear and painted my face black, Zoolander-in-the-coal-mine style, and was ready to watch the movie.

Of course, I got some weird looks walking to the movie theater from the car, and some even weirder looks when my friends and I went out to dinner before the movie, but it was okay because no one knew it was me. They just thought I was some random crazy girl dressed in all black.

Or a crazy racist putting on a modern minstrel show. Oops. Didn’t think about that.

But I went through all that trouble to avoid being recognized, and didn’t even see a single person I knew. Because the people I know typically wouldn’t be caught dead (or undead) at the new Twilight movie opening day. I could have walked in looking totally normal and would have been completely fine and probably even less conspicuous than I was.

And in the end, the movie wasn’t even worth all the effort I went through to see it without being recognized.

I mean, the first three movies made such a big deal about vampires sparkling in sunlight (which is completely ridiculous. Everyone knows that sunlight kills vampires. Even freakishly prude Mormon vampires. Duh), then Bella and Edward get married in broad daylight with no sparkles in sight?

Come on. I can suspend my disbelief about the sun killing the Twilight vampires (because they don’t even have fangs. They’re clearly not vampires, just sparkly emo blood-drinkers), but don’t then expect me to FORGET that they’re supposed to sparkle. Fail #1.

Fail #2: Emo necrophilia virgin sex is not hot. I’ve never seen such an awkward sex scene in a movie. I literally had to look away.

I could handle the birth scene where Edward had to bite through the placenta (yeah, it was ALMOST as disgusting as the porn that’s been showing up on Facebook.  Darya, I will NEVER forgive you for the picture you showed me from your newsfeed.  Never.), but the sex scenes were the ones I had to watch through my fingers horror-movie style.

And then there was Fail #3: When Jacob falls madly in love with Bella and Edward’s baby. I read the books. I knew it was coming. But it was still creepy beyond belief when they showed it. AND EVERYONE IN THE MOVIE IS COOL WITH IT! Dude. When a seventeen-year-old boy falls in romantic love with a newborn, you don’t accept it, you lock him up! Don’t say anything and you’ll get fired as the Penn State football coach years later. Just saying…

And Fail #4: I have to wait another YEAR for part 2? So unfair! I want to see it NOW!

Go Twi-hard or go home.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (A Jewish Girl’s Lament)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the land,

Jews went out to the movies, exactly as planned;

In pairs and large groups, they selected their shows,

And headed to Regal, AMC, and Lowes;

Their tickets Fandango-ed, the popcorn they bought,

And through their shows they all talked quite a lot;

When the movies had finished, they left two by two,

And went for Chinese food, as all good Jews do;

 
But me? I’m still stuck with my parents each year,

Which, let’s face it, always is my biggest fear;

“Next year in Israel,” we say at Passover,

But I just pray for Christmas to be over;

Too old to be single, too young to go die,

Each year it’s my mother, my father, and I,

But why, you might ask, don’t I go with my friends,

For Chinese food and movies like on weekends?

The answer, you see, is simple and quite sad,

Of all my friends, there’s not a Jew to be had;

I could blame my parents, for the public school years,

When there wasn’t a Jew among all of my peers;

I could blame Hillel for scaring me away,

With the songs they sang and the games they would play;

But whoever is at fault, and/or to blame,

The night before Christmas is always so lame,

That I vow each year to seek friends who are Jews,

So I’ll never again feel Jew-Christmas blues;

“Next year,” I say, “I’ll find Members of the Tribe,”

(And if they don’t like me, there’s always a bribe,)

And off to the show I’ll go with my buddies,

All of them experts in their Jewish studies;

So Jacob and Ari and Rachel, you too,

Next year please invite me to go out with you,

‘Cause I mean what I say, without any jokes,

I can’t handle Christmas alone with my folks.

 
So Jews, enjoy your movies and Chinese fare,

And Merry Christmas to all you goys out there.