10/22/2010

A short film and an even shorter trailer for that short film

The man who made a short film out of my short story "Room Enough In This Town" (retitled "That's Not Me") has released a trailer. Hopefully he'll have information soon about when, where, and how you can see the actual film, but I just thought this was exciting and wanted to show you all NOW, because NOW is always more fun than...well, the alternative.



Room Enough Trailer from Mehran Torgoley on Vimeo.


In related news, which I can't remember if I've announced before or not, I'm deep into the writing of a screenplay for an actual feature-length adaptation of this story. In fact I was about halfway done with it before I had to put the project on hold to finish things up with WARM BODIES, and then I got all fired up about FLASHLIGHTS IN THE BASEMENT and had to write the two epic novellas that bookend that book, and yada yada yada, it's still only half done.

But once I finish FLASHLIGHTS (mid to late November, I'm thinking) I go back to work on that script. Not that this will mean anything tangible to you people for years to come, if ever, but....in case you're my mom or sisters and are wondering what I do with all my free time....there it is.
Marion out.


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10/17/2010

Factual Facts About Halloween

A good costume idea

Halloween is that special time of year when parents dress their children as classic representations of evil and send them out to demand sugary taxes from their neighbors on threat of violence. But what a lot of kids don’t realize is that there is more to Halloween than just eating so much candy that you throw up and lie huddled in bed all night twitching and cursing God. Halloween is also an important cultural holiday for zombies, vampires, Spidermans, and other manifestations of our collective consciousness’ darkest dreams.

Although witches and demons have been part of our culture for centuries, and skeletons have been around since the early Paleozoic Era, Halloween is a relatively modern invention. After observing the successful creation of the African-American holiday Kwanzaa in 1966, an unnamed zombie proposed a similar celebration for his own people as a way to promote species awareness and acceptance, and also to make hunting easier by flooding the streets with costumed decoys. No one expected the holiday to catch on outside the undead community, but the ‘60s were a time of profound social upheaval, and since the youth culture had already begun to embrace monsters—who possessed an undeniable charisma and sinister cool that humans couldn’t help but envy and want to imitate—Halloween quickly exploded into one of the world’s most popular holidays.

Another good costume idea
Halloween is celebrated in all English-speaking countries and most Pashtu-speaking tribal lands, but the traditions associated with it vary from place to place. In my own city, Seattle, Halloween looks very different than it does in, say, London. The basic spirit is the same; our kids still go Trick-or-Treating and dress up as aborted goat fetuses and schizophrenic hallucinations, but because of Seattle’s frequent, heavy rainfall, we must make some adjustments. Since October is our wet season, the streets are usually not navigable by land, so on the morning of the 31st every family has a “Creepy Craft Party” where we help the kids build canoes out of paper and popsicle sticks. We then load the little rascals into their boats and set them adrift in the floodwaters, where the violent currents whip them through the streets until they eventually run aground on a random neighbor’s porch. From there, the Trick-or-Treating resumes more or less traditionally. The neighbors take the waterlogged tykes inside, dry them off, and perform any necessary CPR. The eager kids are then treated to an extravagant feast of generic bulk candy and put to bed in the garage if the neighbors have one, or under the sink if they don’t. The next morning, the neighbors look up their little guests’ barcode tattoos on www.kidcode.gov, find the parents’ addresses, and return the children home only slightly worse for wear. That is, of course, if they weren’t drowned or eaten by river vampires the night before.
A good couple's costume

All this may sound like an anxious night for the kids’ parents, but playing the odds—even with such morbidly high stakes!—is just part of the Halloween experience in Seattle. With over eight hundred casinos—more per square mile than libraries, schools, and coffee shops combined!—Seattle is known around the world as a gambling city, and the question of whether or not the children will make it home from Trick-or-Treating is the subject of much extravagant wagering. In 2009, an estimated forty million dollars changed hands via Halloween betting. Traditionally, parents will always bet against their own kid, so that if he or she does end up being eaten by river vampires, the parents will at least have their winnings as consolation.

Losing a child is always a hard thing, but the thrill of the risk—along with the fun of friendly competition between neighbors—is what that keeps Halloween interesting for Seattle’s adults, most of whom can no longer enjoy candy due to suppurating stomach ulcers. Some may call our holiday traditions inappropriate or even irresponsible, but after all, it’s Halloween. If you want warmth, good times, and your children to be alive, you can go celebrate Christmas.






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10/12/2010

Bite Size Matters

Is there any food in the world with more size gradations than Shredded Wheat?

Frosted Mini Wheats are certainly the most popular, so much that most people forget there was ever a non miniaturized Wheat. But there was, and is.

In fact, Mini Wheats are the third largest Wheat. And there is now also a Wheat even smaller than Mini, a seemingly impossible feat of wheat engineering called the Mini Wheat Nano Little Bite. Then, moving up the scale from the standard Mini Wheat, we have the Mini Wheat Big Bite, whose self-contradictory name seems to have been caused by an explosion at the marketing factory when they couldn't figure out how to demarcate the two sizes while still retaining the popular "Mini Wheat" branding.
Then there's the original, the one you rarely see in stores anymore, lurking in the dusty shadows of cereal history, the big daddy that your granddaddy probably used to eat with a knife and fork with no sugar or honey or fruit, soaked in rat's milk from pregnant dead rats he caught in a rat trap he built by hand:

FUCKING* ORIGINAL SHREDDED WHEAT



(*"fucking" added for dramatic emphasis)








There's no denying this stuff is impressive--the size! The sheer un-mini-ness of it!--but why was this cereal ever created? Who thought giant bricks of wheat that don't even fit in a bowl was a good idea? And why has Kellogg's been apologizing to us for 50-some years by inventing ever-smaller iterations of Wheats? It's one of the many mysteries of the cereal industry, which has always been shrouded in weirdness.

Since I figure a lot of people reading this blog will be trying to figure out the intended purpose of all the different sizes of wheats, trying to understand the pros and cons of each size in order to determine which one is right for them, I've included this image comparing all four, with a bottle of Sriracha for scale, since I don't have any pop cans, which are the traditionally accepted unit of size in America.


Note that the Mini Wheat Little Bite is not appreciably "littler" than the standard Mini Wheat, indicating that making truly "little" wheats is not physically possible and this new size was created purely to satisfy one of the rarer OCD compulsions known to psychology: "cereal shrinking", the irrational need to constantly invent, produce, and market smaller and smaller cereals.


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