Guilty Pleasures: Things That Start With ‘S’
I’ve had fun reading others’ posts about their favorite things themed around one letter. Marcia Richards shared the letter ‘L’, Kathy Owen shared ‘R’, Myndi Shafer picked ‘B’, and I’ve been assigned the letter ‘S.’ Many more of you shared your favorite letter lists, so feel free to put your links in the comments so I can check em out! Or if you want to play along, let me know, and I’ll give you a letter!
My Favorite Things That Start with ‘S’:
1. Sense and Sensibility
I love all Jane Austen. But this one starts with S. Demure and responsible Elinor. Spirited and whimsical Marianne. Edward, Colonel Brandon, and Willoughby! Need I really say more?
Remember this game? It’s one of my favorites, yes, more than Scrabble. Scattegories is a game with a dice that has every letter of the alphabet on it. The dice is rolled and that’s the letter for the round, which is timed. Each player has a list of categories they must create an answer for with that letter. If another player has that same answer, both are disqualified, so it’s best if you come up with creative answers. LOVE THIS GAME!
When I was in high school I participated in Forensics, which is actually more like performance or debate than the CSI shows everyone thinks of now. My category was storytelling. We had rules like you couldn’t get out of the chair you sat in at the front of the room, but other than that, you picked your stories. We had to have 5 in our repetoire and the judge picked the one they wanted to hear based on the title. Some of you who met me at DFW Con learned I’m pretty good at voices! I can do a mean kid with a cold, an Irish king, and at one time I was good at doing Medusa!
4. Scavenger Hunts
One of my favorite things to do with kids I babysat for back in the day. Let them create themed scavenger hunts, write out clues, plant surprises along the way, booby traps, you name it! I’ve helped create a lot of Harry Potter scavenger hunts, and Pokemon, and Pogs, and Beanie Babies… Everyone was awesome.
5. Science Fiction
I am a bit of a sci fi nerd. I like Star Wars. I dig Futurama. And I am engrossed by late night marathons of the Syfy channel’s Face Off. Make up artists competing to create the best monster or creature look? Heck yah! And I LOVE, Luh-Huhv the cult hit classics that are Mystery Science Theater 3000. The worst of the worst films out there, being re-dubbed by robots and humans trapped in a spaceship!!! *Squee!*
6. South Korea
This past April I traveled to South Korea to visit a friend and I thoroughly enjoyed my trip. The people, the city, and oh the food! I was craving bulgogi the other day! It was quite the experience for me, bumming around a foreign country where little english was spoken during the day and then trying a plethora of drinks at the Korean hofs (bars)! Makali might be my fave – it’s a sweet drink, made of rice. But soju is good too, and helps cut the spice. If you are a beer drinker and you might want to learn the phrase, “Maekju hanna juseyo,” which means “please bring me a beer.” 😉
Sleep is a very precious thing to me. As a bit of an insomniac, I appreciate sleep. I love nights when I dream, even if it makes no sense. The other night I dreamed all my teeth fell out! Should I worry?
8. Serena Ryder
My favorite female artist right now is Serena Ryder from Canada. Her voice is powerful, gritty, and full of rock. I love all her songs! You must check her out. “What I Want to Know” is my favorite song, but “Little Bit of Red” and “Stumbling Over You” are great too!
9. Strangers With Candy
Ok, this show, which lasted for three seasons on comedy central, is sooo not politically correct, but that’s why I love it! Starring writing and acting talents Amy Sedaris (sister to David, the writer), Paul Dinello, and host of the Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert, Strangers With Candy is the chronicle of Jerri Blank (Sedaris). Jerri is a 40-something returned to high school, picking up her life where she left off. She’s still boy crazy, and wants to be a popular girl, but somehow always does the wrong thing for all the wrong reasons…yes, yes I said that right. It’s hilarious. Don’t judge till you see it.
10. Series and Sagas
I admit it. I’m addicted to series and sagas. Books, movies, and television. Especially television. Why else would I stay up until 3 am watching The Game of Thrones season 1? And I’m eagerly awaiting the new seasons of Damages, Vampire Diaries, and Dexter. Such gluttony feels good!
What are your favorite things that start with the letter ‘S’?
Guilty Pleasures: The Strange Films You Watched As a Child
I have always loved watching movies, and growing up three blocks from the local video store, it was often the event of choice at our household. We had one of those old popcorn machines and we’d make big bowls for everybody. And then we’d all settle down in the living room for a film. I often learned in college that the movies I watched growing up differed from the films all my friends were watching. In my opinion, they missed out, cause these guilty pleasure kid flicks are the best!
The Dark Crystal: Still a favorite, I often quote this one today much to Joe’s dismay. “Smells like gelflging…*sniff, sniff*…could be IS gelfling!” The Dark Crystal tells the story of Jen, a gelfling boy, whose destiny lies in finding a missing chard of crystal and restoring the order of their world. A Jim Henson/Frank Oz co-production, the creatures are unique and the fantasy world is eerie. I had the opportunity to visit the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle, Washington two years ago, and the special exhibit was on Jim Henson! They included many of the muppets we know and love, but I was way more excited about the full room of early sketches and costumes for The Dark Crystal! This film is like a shorter, kid-friendly Star Wars.
Willow: Probably the film I watched the most of any growing up, all my siblings loved this movie. Warwick Davis, who was pretty popular back in the day, starred as Willow, a halfling man who finds a princess baby and vows to protect her from the evil Queen Bavmorda. Along the way, he is aided by some unlikely and flawed heroes. There are brownies, teeny tiny warriors that are always messing around with fairy love potion, Willow’s best friend, Meegosh, a sorceress named Fin Raziel, and a surly warrior named Madmartigan. I’m totally trying to convince Joe to dress up as Madmartigan and Sorsha for Halloween, but it has yet to come to fruition. I can see a twinkle in his eye when I remind him he’ll get to walk around telling people, “I am the greatest swordsman that ever lived!”
The NeverEnding Story: I think I fell in love with Barret Oliver, who played Bastian in this film, and it only grew when he went on to act in Cocoon and play Dicken in The Secret Garden. The NeverEnding Story is an early fantasy film version of The Pagemaster. A young boy, Bastian, is being bullied, and one day he hides out in an empty attic and finds a storybook that involves him in the ending. Along the way he roots for Atreyu, the boy sent to save the princess from dying.
Labyrinth: Who doesn’t remember David Bowie as the Goblin King in Labyrinth? After a rough night of babysitting, Sarah wishes her baby brother away to the Goblin King, and if she wants to get him back, she has 13 hours to make it through his labyrinth or she’ll lose her brother forever. Another Jim Henson classic, the creatures are all shapes and sizes and personalities too! And David Bowie, clad in a lot spandex, channeling a little Ziggy Stardust, has some amazing songs in this movie. I believe this soundtrack was played at Joe’s and my Halloween party last year.
Surprise Attack!!: Bet you weren’t expecting to see Little Monsters. This rare gem of a sci-fi flick stars little Fred Savage and a rather unrecognizable Howie Mandel. This film freaked me out! I was convinced it was all real, that a whole world of monsters really did live underground and the doorways into our world were underneath the beds of children. I recall watching this movie several times, and it creeped me out everytime. It’s a little bit Goosebumps, little bit Gremlins, little bit Monsters, Inc. It’d probably be really funny to watch now, or annoying, Howie Mandel has gone downhill for me since I grew up. Nonetheless, this was a rare cult classic that probably made its way into some of your homes (and underneath your kid’s beds too).
Do you remember these movies? Do you own any of them? I totally still do. What films did you watch on repeat growing up?
The Growing Trend of Sci-Fi
Is it just me or are you noticing science fiction stuff is popping up all over now? I know it’s been around forever, but lately it seems the genre is creeping into extraordinary spaces.
When I was growing up I’d probably say my favorite books were mystery novels, a genetic preference given to me my mother, I think I came out at birth reading Nancy Drew. But I went through a sci-fi phase where all I read were books by Kurt Vonnegut, George Orwell, and Christopher Pike. Do you remember those authors? My favorite titles respectively were The Sirens of Titan, 1984, and The Midnight Club. Most of you are probably familiar with Vonnegut and Orwell, but if you’ve never heard of Pike, you might be fascinated with his story. Pike was a college dropout turned house painter who failed at his attempts to write adult mystery novels. An editor suggested he try teen thrillers, low and behold, the man has over 5 series and at least 30 titles to his pen name (real name is Kevin McFadden, Christopher Pike is rumored to be a nod to a Star Trek reference). Pike adds a lot of science fiction to his tales. I remember one story I read resulted in the people actually being lizards in their true form!
Remember when The Sims came out? The Sims was a computer game that let you create people, place them in houses and manage their moods and well beings. The trend went viral! Expansion packs came out every year with Sim City, and The Sims Date Night, Sims Roller Coaster World, you name it. I had a few of the games. On a completely random obsessive note, I ALWAYS had a character named Kilgore Trout in the house, just my friendly nod to Vonnegut’s reuse of characters always making cameo appearances in his books. Well, if you think about how popular The Sims was, you can see the same ideas with the Tamagachi pets and now with Wii games. Tamagachis were handheld digital pets you had to feed and clean up after. If they got unhappy, you lost points and your pet could die. Wii players get to create their people and play in a virtual world doing almost anything with all the games out now, dance marathons, sports, battles, etc.
On top of video games, sci-fi is making more of an appearance in mainstream television. Shows like Being Human put vampires, werewolves, and ghosts in people’s houses regularly. And have any of you watched Face Off on the syfy channel? The show features competitions for make up artists, but the contests are full of bizarre and creepy nods to the macabre elements. Shows like Paranormal State have also made the career of paranormal research more realistic. They document investigations around the country and several of their team members are still getting their college degrees in fields like technical support and camera work. I find it really fascinating that ghost hunting as a career is becoming more mainstream through shows like this and TAPS. I admit I watch both of them. I once attended an Unexplained Conference in Rochester, Minnesota that hosted an array of ghost hunters, ghost tracking equipment and literature. I don’t think that’s normal activity, but apparently it’s common enough we can hold conferences!
TV aside, we can’t ignore the literature wave of vampire books and paranormal literature that has spread across readership. All ages are buying copies of the Twilight series, Vampire Diaries, heck Jane Austen has gone sci-fi! I even read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies!
There are movies galore making sci-fi popular too. We could argue Harry Potter is more fantasy, but when people dress up and attend things like Harry Potter Summer Camp, we’ve entered the world of sci-fi, my friends. How is dressing up as a magical wizard or witch any different than dressing up as a Star Wars character? What about the wave of 3D movies: Avatar, Harry Potter, Twilight, Transformers? We are heightening these varying worlds around us.
Is it the age of the geek, or have we found a niche for science fiction in today’s day and age? Longtime beloved stories like Lord of the Rings, X-Men, Transformers and Star Trek have made new appearances on screen and encouraged a renewed excitement in the viewing of their original masterpieces. I know this is happening because my best friend has politely and calmly sat through 10 seasons of Stargate with her boyfriend, and even I was invited over and subjected to a few episodes! (Don’t get me wrong, I do love the movie!)
What do you think? Do you see Sci-Fi entering fields it hasn’t before, or were you always a sci-fi nut who was just waiting for the rest of us to catch up? Has the genre expanded to allow for a larger audience now that it’s not limited to outer space? What role does that play in its ability to grab a larger audience? What are some of your favorite sci-fi books, shows, and movies?