Friday, August 27, 2010

Social Media Depleting Heroes?

When we think of "heroes," we think of two types of people.

1) Super Heroes: These are the guys in the comic books and the movies who fight for justice, and perform epic feats of epicness.

2) Real Life Heroes: The people who go above and beyond the call of duty to give much of themselves to help their fellow man.

There are countless heroic stories out there about many people who have done great things to help improve the quality of life for other people on this planet. However, for various reasons these real life heroes are not having their stories heard. Why is this? I am starting to cast my eye toward social media.

Now, this is not to say that social media is evil, because when used properly it isn't. This is instead to say that social media is doing something to people in general in terms of how they process news and information. Twitter and Facebook give us almost instant access to news. There is no waiting period and almost instant gratification. Just as soon as we see one news story, there is a new one ready to take its place. This rapid fire information almost provides us with the sense that if we actually take the time to read an entire news article, we may miss out on the next big story.

Likewise, since we as a culture seem to be fixated on the types of stories that involved immoral acts committed by unscrupulous characters, this means that even more positive stories fall to the wayside. Is social media really contributing to the notion that we have so little time until the next piece of news comes out that we don't have enough time to invest into reading stories and actually honoring real life heroes?

I tried to think of the most recent honest-to-goodness heroes in our country over the past couple of years. I purposely did not do any research in order to prove my point of how little time we give to those who truly deserve the recognition. Please do not think that the lack of names is lazy, it is to prove a point.

1) Current Military Service Men and Women. These guys do so much for a country and we don't give them enough credit.

2) Sully. I can't even remember his full name, but this is the pilot who successfully crash landed the passenger plane in the Hudson River, in a manner that prevented any loss of life.

3) The man who jumped onto the subway tracks to push another man down so that the train passed only inches above their heads. Both individuals were fine. I don't recall his name either, but I distinctively remember President George W. Bush acknowledging him during one of his final State of the Union addresses.

4) The Passengers of Flight United 93 for their heroic sacrifice on 9/11 to prevent that group of terrorists from strike another target that would have claimed hundreds of other lives.

5) Mother Theresa. 'Nuff Said.

That's four entries. I'm sure we can debate about other people who could be added to this list. The point is that I've only recalled these specific people. Now I will grant that truly heroic events are rare and that this list wasn't going to be overflowing with names as is, but surely between the time Sully landed that plane and now, there have been actions taken by people that are equally deserving of praise. Are we just too caught up with negative stories to notice? Or are we too conditioned by rapid news provided by social media to invest the time in stories that would honor real life heroes?

Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Brilliant Dreams Fade to Horrible Nightmares

Did you ever have one of those ideas that you thought was iron-clad? An idea that seemed so fool-proof you literally dedicated yourself to it...or at the very least were forced to by your grandma? An idea that is supposed to solve all of your problems? An idea that is so popular, that everyone else seemed to be doing it too? It happened to me.

Here's my story:

When I was younger, my grandma loved Beanie Babies. She loved them so much, that she was one of the luminaries for the phrase, "They're going to be worth something some day." And so, she passed on that thought process to me, because I just happened to have Congo the Monkey amongst my toy collection. When I was told about how much money they were going to be worth, I looked at Congo and saw dollar signs.

I remember the craze: Always checking to see when Hallmark would get a new shipment, which ones were going to be retired, when there would be hobby days (or as I affectionately called it: Card day) at the mall, my grandmother getting into shoving matches with other ladies, buying the Beanie Baby guide, the "Teeny Beanie Babies" from McDonalds, plastic protectors for the TY tag, and even buying plastic cases to keep them safe. It was a sure fire idea.

Now I invite you all to take a look at this picture. In case you can't read it, it says "Retired Beanie Babies $2.00." RETIRED! I recall days where you would see retired Beanie Babies on sale at a hobby shop for hundreds of dollars, now you can just buy them for two? What happened? Where was this crazy value? I know it hasn't been a heck of a lot of time, but this is crazy. Oh another important note: That picture was taken in a Factory Card Outlet...not a Hallmark.

These things were supposed to pay off my student loans. What the hell happened?

Bottom Line: If you have any idea like this check yourself. It's fun to be involved in a craze and to be in the know and watching out for your future...but don't go so far over the edge that if something happens you can't bring yourself back. It is absolutely horrifying to me, based on the memories that I have of the literal craziness surrounding this bean-filled-creatures, that you can now buy retired renditions for $2.00 at a Factory Card Outlet. Be careful with your money people because now all I have is a huge red wicker basket filled with tons of Beanie Babies...and hope.

Anyone have any similar stories about Beanie Babies or failed investment plans? Who was your favorite Beanie Baby? Let us know in the comment section. (Mine was Radar the Bat...and sadly the only one I ever really wanted but was never able to obtain.)

Photo Credit: Sarah Pugh

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Horrifying Marketing

Every so often I see or hear something that is just so absurd and ludicrous, I don't know what else to do about it. Then I remember that Haunted House Writer hasn't had a blog post in a while, so I decide to vent about it there.

One such thing happened last week. It is horrifying that what I'm about to tell you actually was approved by a corporate marketer somewhere, that people probably have actually spent money on this, and that it might actually be illegal.

Last week I was in a Halmark store to pick up a sympathy card for a dear friend of mine's family. Fellow writer, and an amazing one at that too, Mike Workstel unfortunately has left this Earth. He's death was untimely and unfair. He is loved and will be missed by countless people.

While searching for this card, I happened upon the product that you see in the picture above. What you see is a fake dollar bill with a picture of Hannah Montana on it instead of George Washington. It also comes in plastic sleeve.

My initial instinct was to balk, because I hate Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus. I think she sends a horrible message that if you aren't happy with who you are, you can just put on a blonde wig and be someone else. How is that helping the pre-teen girls of America? Throw on top of that the number of pictures that Miley has posted of herself on the Internet, and you have a 100% amazing role model right there.

Once my hatred subsided, I actually investigated this product a bit further because it felt like a real dollar bill. I was somewhat impressed by the notion that they were able to achieve strikingly similar textures. That's when I noticed that the picture of Hannah Montana was actually a sticker and it was actually placed over GEORGE WASHINGTON'S FACE! That's right, it was a real dollar bill, just with a sticker over it.

A) How is that not illegal? Isn't that defacement of government currency? Even more so because they are selling it?

B) How can we stand for someone valuing Hannah Montana more than George Washington? What has Hannah Montana done for us? Sing some songs? Have a TV that is suited to a very specific demographic? Posted naughty pictures of herself online? Granted she's an entertainer...but how many people is she really entertaining folks? George Washington fought for this country's foundation and survival. Oh by the way, he turned down the title of King because he didn't want to end up like the one that he had just helped freed American from. Instead he insisted upon President. He is selfless. He is a hero. He is an icon. HE IS NOT TO BE SULLIED BY HANNAH-F-ING-MONTANA.

The sticker price for this item: $5.99

That means for $5.99 you have just purchased:

1) A sticker of Hannah Montana that has already been stuck somewhere.

2) A plastic sleeve

3) A dollar bill

YOU BOUGHT A DOLLAR BILL FOR $5.99! Okay fine, I guess really, you've acquired it for $4.99 but that is not the point.

This is outrageous. How can this be allowed to stand? People...if you find yourself in a store pondering whether or not you should purchase this item, please check your stupid meters and DON'T. If your child really wants this item, please sit them down and explain how it would be better for the human race if they didn't have this item.

As a final though, in the words of Comedic Unaware Genius Richard M. Burgess:

"No, this, this is stupid."

Agree? Please leave a comment. Disagree...please go seek professional help.

PS: Check out Sandwich Warriors new website: Sandwich Warrior

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gravestone Manor 2010 Teaser Trailer

Hello there faithful readers. Just a quick update today:

The Haunted House at which I work, Gravestone Manor, recently updated its website. Right now we've included a teaser trailer for this year's show!

If you are interested, make sure you check it out: Gravestone Manor 2010 Trailer

Gravestone Manor is a theatrical haunted attraction that benefits the United Way of the Wyoming Valley.

Throw up some comments on what you think? Scared yet?

Monday, June 28, 2010

True Blood Turning Into Pirates of the Caribbean 2?

Okay, so this blog is supposed to be about things that are frightening, scary, or creepy. I initially intended for that to be movies, TV shows, and books. But these types of things don't always exist for me to review. Or--if I didn't post more regularly while reading a book or waiting for a movie to come out, then there would be unnecessarily long gaps between posts. (Notice the gap between the last two posts. Not Good Mr. Frodo.) So every so often there will be some filler posts. I'm planning an upcoming posts on salad dressings.

But luckily for us, this post has something to do with a horror themed medium: True Blood. I am very pro True Blood for many reasons, but being a writer I am not one to sit here and think that it is infallible. It definitely has its season 2 finale.

But season 3 has just kicked off, and we are already 3 episodes in. I've noticed an alarmingly increasing trend with each episode...and I'm afraid. Before I go any further, please watch this video so that you can get a frame of mind of where I'm coming from. (Yes I know its about "Pirates of the Caribbean 2")

Ask a Ninja Reviews "Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest"

Okay, now that we are all on the same page, here's how I want to apply this to True Blood:

I think one of the best qualities about the show is that there are so many characters. It actually feels like a town and each character has his or her own little quirks. You know each character, what they think about supernaturals, their role in the town, and all that jazz. It is also nice every so often to see that each of them has something going on in their lives, because its very realistic.


There is a lot going on so far this season and if the writers are not careful to reign it in, True Blood might turn into Pirates.

In Season 1 and most of Season 2 every body had their own story, but because the show remained focused on Bon Temps, it was very easy to integrate all those stories together. Frequently, you were able to tell several stories at the same time because everyone was present. You actually feel the sense of community, even between the characters who didn't like each other.

But in Season 3, everyone is all over the place. Bill is in Mississippi, Sookie and Alcide are all over the place after Bill, Eric is in Bon Temps in hot water with the Magister and the Queen, Tara is suicidal and with strange new vampire Franklin, Jessica is in shock over killing someone and breaking up with Hoyt, Hoyt is grieving at Jason's house, Jason sees bullet holes in peoples heads and wants to be a cop, Bud quit, Andy Bellfleur is having delusions of grandeur but also committing a crime, Sam Merlotte is off looking for his real family, Arlene is pregnant with Renee's baby, Terry thinks its his, Lafayette is trying to stop Tara from killing herself while also trying to move his V before Pam kills him, Pam is well just being weird, we haven't seen Chow, Lorena is on fire and having weird vampire relations with Bill, and there is strange mysterious girl they showed for a second during the scene when Jason helped bust up the druggies. Did I forget anyone?

Most of these story lines don't run parallel with each other, which means that its harder and harder to focus longer periods of time upon them. Everything is jumping back and forth really quick, at times and with all the exposition, there has been little to know action.

Right now, things have not gotten out of hand. I know that it's still early in the season and they are trying to set everything up. Once the expositions starts, maybe things will take off. I really hope so. If not we're going to end up with Bill, Eric, and Alcide fighting for Sookie on top of a huge runaway mill wheel. Sigh.

Alan Ball: Here's your warning. Please don't let True Blood get too expansive. The show works best when these characters work together and are some semblance of a community. Please don't stay away from that too long. Signed--All of us.

For a more detailed review of each episode check out Reality Bites (this is the first one, there are more on the site, please check them out!)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Where Has the Haunted House Writer Been?

So where has the haunted house writer been? He was posting on a fairly regular basis, but then all of the sudden, away he went. It was sad face, wasn't it? Did some of you think that the haunted house writer was no more? Then you'd be incorrect.

This blog was started to keep the haunted house writer writing. Over the past couple of months, writing has happened. Both on a personal and professional level. The Haunted House Writer has been busy writing at his job, because all he does at his job is write. This excites him, but sometimes makes it difficult for him to write blogs when he gets home at night.

Here are some other things that the Haunted House Writer has been up to, if you'd like to stay up to date with his going ons:

Gravestone Manor: He has been working hard on helping to write the script for this year's upcoming show. He hopes you all attend this theatrical haunted house and you can learn more information at Gravestone Manor's Official Website.

Sandwich Warrior: What do you do with the spam email you receive? Delete it? At Sandwich Warrior, we take email spam, and turn it into email spam haiku. There is a new one each work day, and you can view them at Sandwich Warrior's Official Website. is the only HBO approved fan site for their hit TV show, True Blood. The Haunted House Writer has been helping write for this site both in terms of news articles and for the Fangtasy section. His most notable accolades include the Ask Dr. L column and the episode review column Reality Bites, where the real residents of Bon Temps weigh on how they think the show portrays their town.

Please check out and support all these great sites and organizations. And keep checking back. The Haunted House Writer is alive and well. Or Undead and well if you please.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fantasy Football Drafts

Apologies for the length between posts. Very busy. But onward!

This past weekend was the 75th Annual NFL Draft. This is the time when college football standouts will learn with which team they will start their NFL careers.

As I was listening to draft coverage, I started thinking about whether or not these rookies would be valuable picks when the fantasy football season rolls around.

But I remember that last year during fantasy season, that a lot of people were making fun of guys who get into their fantasy football leagues. They say that its just a game, or people devote too much energy into it, or its not even real.

Nevermind that it helps you learn who the current players are, hones your ability to make accurate predictions, lets you interact with the sport in a fun and exciting way, or makes watching games between teams you hate at least interesting (in case they are the only game on.)

I mean and at the very least, at the end of the day, there is nothing lost, except maybe twenty bucks. Even if you still can't let go of the fact that Jim Zorn pulled Jason Campbell at the end of the first half and all you needed him to do was throw for twenty more yards to win the game you needed to go to the playoffs, its still just for fun.

Then I thought about something that was similar: Stock Brokers.

These guys have to analyze and predict what the stock market will do, much like football players. But these guys base their lives on it. They could get fired or lose millions of dollars for not being accurate enough. We've all heard the stories of the guys who made foolish decisions, lost their life savings, and then jumped from an open window.

But nobody makes fun of them. For stock brokers, its literally life or death and they are doing essentially the same thing, when you think about it.

So next time you're about to make a crack concerning someone who plays fantasy football, think about the recession and what not that we've been in. Do you think a die hard football fan had anything to do with that? Other than being part of the unemployed percentage?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Domino's New Pizza Revamp

To Start: Apologies for the gap between posts. New Job, which is awesome, but also has me blogging every so often. Therefore, when I come home...I sometimes don't feel like Blogging.

Anyways: Domino's has recently been going through this whole "we are making our pizza better" campaign. They've shown "real" customers complaining about the old Domino's Pizza. Then, they show officials and chefs talking about how much it hurts their feelings and how they are going to make Domino's New Pizza a heck of a lot better.

I can't help but think that Domino's has got to have a lot of guts to be making such a big deal about making new and better Pizza. They need to have a distinctive new taste. So for the Super Bowl, I am sort of intrigued when am asked to pick up some Domino's New Pizza to take to the party.

Now, treasured reader, I need to begin this by saying that there is a long description of how this version of Domino's Pizza is 50 years in the making.

So you will imagine my obvious initial question: It took you 50 years to make this?

I could go into a length dissertation about how each individual claim is 100% erroneous...but I'm pretty sure you all know that Domino's Old Pizza is....well....bad. Domino's New Pizza is....well...bad. Its just that this time around there is a little extra flavoring on the crust.

I want to say I'm let down....but then I would have to actually admit that I had high expectations and that's just something I'm not prepared to do on a public forum such as this.

Anyone else have any comments on the New Domino's Pizza?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Why Christmas Needs to Stop

For those of you who are loyal readers, you will know that I have issues with the fact that Christmas dominates most of the calender year. I will stress now that whenever I address Christmas in this manner, it is purely from the secular viewpoint, which is sadly the more emphasized viewpoint anyways. Although I'm a Halloween supporter, I don't hate Christmas. I love the lights and decorations. I love presents. I love trees. I just don't like them in stores before November.

For my complete thoughts on this issue, kindly view this earlier post "Christmas Needs to Stop."

When I wrote that earlier post , I was looking at things from the angle of someone who loves Halloween and was mad. Other than equal representation of the two different holidays, I really had nothing to back myself on in terms of why Christmas needs to be toned down, other than you're insane if you really need to be buying Christmas paraphernalia in any other month that November (Preparation,) December (Actual month of the holiday,) or January (post Christmas discounts.)

Now, having gone through yet another Christmas season, with the above prospective in mind, I have discerned that it is actually unhealthy to have Christmas for so long, and it has nothing to do with Halloween. Here's why:

It is now four days into January. I've been starting to get back into my normal routine and have been able to catch up with people with whom I haven't seen that much over the holiday season. I will ask, "how was your Christmas?" I will be met with one of the following answers:

"I can't believe its already over."

"I'm just glad its over with."

"I celebrate Russian Christmas and that hasn't happened yet."

The point being is that we spend so much time preparing for Christmas, that by the time it gets here, we're almost sick of it. We've heard each recording of each Christmas song at least a hundred times, we've been shopping for so long because we've always got to run out to get that one last gift, the lights have been up forever, we've wrapped so many presents, the smell of pine now permeates the house, and the poinsettias are starting to lose their leaves.

Why do we prepare for something so much only to hate it by the time it arrives. Its not like once you open the presents Christmas morning that its done and you can relax. Nope, you've got to clean up the wrapping paper, go see everyone else, cook food, eat food, refrigerate food. I would argue that the hours after Christmas morning are even more stressful than those before. Likewise, since we've been thinking about Christmas since August, December flies by much to fast and we don't actually take the time to take in the actual holiday. "I can't believe Christmas is in two days." Well that's because you've gotten so numb and regimented to the holiday season that you've literally lost track of time. There's no time or way to appreciate the actual month of celebrating because its been too "in our face," for so long.

Its an unhealthy build up of anticipation. Its the moment that we've been waiting for, where we've spent time making ourselves and our houses look perfect. We add a little bit decoration to make the moment unforgettable. We think about it constantly, growing even more excited and impatient for that singular moment. Then finally it comes, where you gather with your loved one(s,) open up your packages, put on your clothes, play with your toys, and scream with joy as you realize that you've finally gotten what you've wanted. It last for that magical moment until the last present has been unwrapped. Then...the downhill slide. We're your gifts good for you? Was it the wrong size? Wrong color? Not quite what you expected? Now we have to go over your parents? And eat even more food? But I'm tired now and just want to go bed and new fleece blanket. Fine, I'll get dressed and we'll go to your family's house. It's not like its a special day for me too or anything.

For all of you our sakes...let's reduce the amount of tension around Christmas and please just hem it back in to a more sizable and realistic time frame.