Updated: Oct 2, 2020
I Frickin' Love Halloween
I am so happy fall is here! I love the month of October, which brings crisp cool air, apple cider and pumpkin donuts, visiting my Alma Mater (University of Michigan) and prancing around campus with old friends, blue skies and sunshine wrapped around fluffy graying white clouds, fall foliage. And of course Halloween, and the movie marathons that run all month long leading up to October 31. The slashers, the ghosts, witches, goblins: I love a good scare!
I'm actually a big wuss, but I give these movies the old college try (lights on, volume low or even off completely when I think the scary parts are coming, and I never actually stare directly at the TV...I'll flip through a magazine, scroll my phone, just in case I can't deal).
But I have mad respect for the classics and the horror/thriller genre: Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, The Halloween movies: Loomis!!! (that's Dr. Samuel Loomis, psychiatrist of slasher Michael Myers (white mask); also below, Jason Vorhees, the hockey mask wearing maniac, and Freddy Krueger, the burnt face, knife-glove wielding dream stalker).
I think I was Freddy for Halloween three years in a row when I was in grade school (and the Karate Kid for another few years in a row as well).
Halloween brings back vivid memories of Trick or Treating, my childhood neighborhood decked out in Halloween flare, scarfing down candy, movie marathons and sleepovers! These moments are forever etched in my mind. A wonderful time can do that, as can an amazing story, inspirational speech, or motivational message. We can remember the day, time, year, what we were wearing, who we were with, when we heard it, saw it, experienced it. It's pretty miraculous...in my opinion a real example of time travel.
Unfortunately, the same can be said about an experience that didn't go so well, a time you wished you forgot, a terrible movie or song, or dish you ate. Sadly, and comically at times, these moments linger and cringe on.
I can vividly remember the sickening feel I got learning that I just took a huge bite out of a chocolate covered date when I was a child on a family trip to San Francisco.
The thought of that gooey fruity, fibery, poorly masked chocolate nugget slugging down my throat. BLECH! Don't they look like some sort of alien larva sent down to Earth to infest humankind?!!
I can remember the name of the bully who flicked his chunky green booger on my blue velcro shoes on the summer camp bus. I ran into him probably 30 years later and that's the only thought that crosses my mind.
I have only ever walked out of one movie in my entire life: Battlefield Earth. To quote Rotten Tomatoes, which gave it 3% on the Tomatometer, it was "ugly, campy, and poorly acted...a stunningly misguided, aggressively bad sci-fi folly."
It was awful and I still to this day get pissed thinking that I spent my money on that film.
Like movies, taste in music comes with some subjectivity. There are movies I like that others can‘t stand, and the same for songs. However, you'll never convince me to like these songs that just bug the heck out of me every time I hear them:
American Pie, Don McLean (1971); I find it corny and overplayed
Cinnamon Girl, Neil Young, Crazy Horse (1979); sorry, that guitar "solo," (at 2 min 06 secs), please...my 3 year old could come up with something more creative.
Brown Eyed Girl, Van Morrison (1967); overplayed, and seems to be the only song lay music fans refer to when they think of Van Morrison songs, which is a shame because he has many greats.
Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond (1969); and I lived in Boston for several years...maybe it's the drunk idiots at Fenway Park who only know "Buh buh buh"and "So Good, So Good, So Good" "lyrics."
Pretty much all of Country music
But when the critics agree, and that song lands on the "oh, that's just awful list," safe to say it's garbage. In 2014 NPR collected what they called The Worst Songs of All Time? It's worth a look and listen.
When it comes to the world of storytelling, keynotes, and presentations, there is no escaping some of the truly awful renditions ever put out there. Throughout the month of October, I will present a list of what I believe to be the Top 5 Scariest Presentations You'll Ever Witness.
No Square Pegs
Through Round Holes.
Tom Kenny aka SpongeBob SquarePants and Bill Fagerbakke aka Patrick Star at UVM's Commencement (2012)
This is why it’s so awkward when Dorothy pulls the curtain on the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz to reveal nothing but a stature-less man pulling strings and making loud noises. The magic is lost. You‘ve got to give them gold stars for effort, but Tom Kenny and Bill Fagerbakke should have left their SpongeBob Squarepants personas back at Nickelodeon.
Some things don’t translate so well. If you do your research and attempt to hash it out in real time, you’ll usually find out quickly this is true. No square(ha!) pegs round holes; if it doesn’t work, don’t force it. Your presentation will be stronger and your audience more appreciative.
If your presentation involves characters or impersonations, help your audience imagine the scene by using costumes or props. These don’t to have to be very elaborate, perhaps something you can leave under the podium or in your pocket to emphasize the character or point.
Coming next week:
Oscar's Millennial Magic?
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