Bah Humbug! Who Scrooged It Better?

Christmas Performances © BillionPhotos.com – Stock.adobe.com

If you asked me to list my favorite stories, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens would be in my top two. We have a wonderful tradition at our house. On many a December night, I’ll curl up under a blanket and listen to the classic tale on audiobook performed by two of the world’s best actors – Patrick Stewart and Tim Curry.

A Christmas Carol narrated by Patrick Stewart (Simon and Schuster – 2006)– I love this performance. It’s Patrick Stewart, Shakespearean actor, Captain Picard, Charles Xavier…the list goes on. He actually played Scrooge in a film version (1999). Did I mention Captain Picard reading Dickens?

A Christmas Carol narrated by Tim Curry (Audible – 2010)– Tim Curry is one of my all-time favorite actors. Stage performer extraordinaire and star of two of my favorite quirky movies: Rocky Horror Picture Show and Clue. His unique voice is beyond cool. Listening to his spin on Scrooge is awesome.

So, who Scrooged it Better? Patrick Stewart or Tim Curry? Who do you think makes a better Ebenezer Scrooge? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

P.S. – Am I missing an outstanding narrator you believe gives these two performers a run for their money? Let me know!

Be Positive. Be Happy. Be Well.

My Top Three Classic Movies to Get You into The Holiday Mood

Christmas Tree © Africa Studio – Stock.adobe.com

Pine and cinnamon fill the house. Sweet flavors of peppermint tingle your tongue. A wonderful sensation of excited anticipation warms the soul. It’s Christmas time. I typically look forward to Holiday Bliss the moment Jack Frost nips at my nose, but I wasn’t feeling it this year. My new book came out in October. I picked up another client for my business. Rush, rush, rush. That special Christmas feeling couldn’t penetrate my busy mind. I needed inspiration!

If reality is too real, I turn to a magical world where anything can happen. The inhabitants inspire excitement, fear, sadness, and joy. Don’t worry though. Most of the endings are happy. Am I hinting at BOOKS, you may ask. Well. Yes. BUT that’s the entrance next door. For a quick infusion of Holiday Cheer, I enter the cinematic universe.

My Top Three Classic Holiday Movies

Christmas Spirit – © gustavofrazao – Stock.adobe.com

The Polar Express (2004) – Tom Hanks at his best in this classic Christmas story about a boy who

journeys to the North Pole trying to find proof Santa is real.

A Christmas Carol – Any of them, but my favorite is the Disney version with Jim Carrey (2009) – Dickens’ wonderful tale of three spirits who visit a selfish old curmudgeon to save his soul. This story of transformation will inspire joy.

White Christmas (1954) – How can you beat the music and costumes in this Hollywood spectacular?! Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen at their best. Watch this and you’ll be tapping your toes in no time.

What do you do to get into the Christmas spirit? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Be Positive. Be Happy. Be Well.

My Top Three Favorite Halloween Traditions

Spooky Halloween Traditions – © JenkoAtaman – Stock.adobe.com

Halloween boasts fun traditions: scary costumes, yummy candy, spooky stories, and pumpkin spice. Based on the sacred celebration of Samhain, our modern parties have given this ancient custom a pop culture flavor. Simple masks to ward off evil have been replaced with “Sexy Nurse” costumes. Soul cakes will no longer do for 21stCentury kiddies. Now we buy $15.00 bags of assorted sugary candy to appease the little boys and ghouls.

I may sound nostalgic for the old days, but I’m not. Give me my scary movies, a pumpkin spice latte, and some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I’m ready to be entertained.

Top Three Favorite Halloween Traditions

Jack O’ Lanterns

Glowing pumpkins line our streets every Halloween Night. These orange guardians against evil weren’t the original food medium. That honor belonged to the lowly turnip. Carving and illuminating the little root vegetable began in Ireland to shoo away Stingy Jack. This mythical man, known as the stingiest man in the land, is believed to have outsmarted the devil. Jack hated to spend his own money. He tricked the devil by convincing him to turn into a coin to pay for their drink. Jack then pocketed the coin next to a silver cross, preventing Satan from turning back into his original form.  He freed the devil sometime later, but the tricks didn’t stop. Jack convinced the devil to climb an apple tree, then he carved a cross into the bark and trapped Satan again. This time the devil agreed to leave Jack alone.

Stingy Jack, however, was too clever for his own good. He died and went to Heaven, but God wouldn’t give him entry. Jack had been too stingy and wicked during his life. Then he traveled to Hell, but the devil had made a promise not to take Jack’s soul. Satan sent him packing with a single burning coal to light his way throughout eternity. Folklore tells of a bobbing light moving aimlessly across the open land. It is Stingy Jack or Jack of the Lantern still wandering the Earth. People in Ireland and Scotland carved and illuminated turnips, potatoes, and beets to keep Stingy Jack and other evil spirits away.

Trick or Treat

Our tradition of Trick or Treat dates back to the Middle Ages. There is evidence this custom may have originated to the pre-Christian Celts. People dressed up as ghosts, spirits, and witches to scare away evil on Samhain. They’d dance around the bonfire and partake of treats to appease the spirits. The Celts and others celebrated their sacred Samhain to honor the dead.

America’s Influence – Halloween and Trick or Treat Traditions were Americanized into our Pop Culture in the 1950s. Peanuts and Disney firmly established Halloween as the Kid-oriented holiday it is today with their cartoons.

Ghost Hunts, Haunted Houses, and Graveyard Tours

Halloween season is a popular time to seek out the scary. We, against our wiser nature, join other thrill-seekers inside graveyards after dark in the hopes of spotting a prowling ghost. It is the Spooky Season, and we want to be scared. Why? Maybe we want to feel the thrill of terror in our otherwise mundane lives? Or perhaps like our Celtic ancestors, we want to connect with the dead? I go on ghost tours to catch a glimpse of the supernatural. One day, I might see a bit of real magic.

Bonus – Bobbing for Apples

I ran across this little tidbit while researching my blog post. Did you know bobbing for apples was part of an ancient Roman celebration of Pomona, goddess of agriculture, and abundance? The Romans brought the festival with them when they conquered the British Isles. Bobbing for apples stuck and is still played at Halloween Parties today.

Don’t Forget Your Jack O’ Lantern! © yellowj – stock.adobe.com

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Winners

Congratulations to the Grand Prize Winner of the Creed of the Guardian Halloween Giveaway and the Where The Readers Grow Instagram Winner!

Winners!

Creed of the Guardian, Book Three in the Heart of the Warrior series, is here! 

Dark Fantasy Books

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Protect the Innocent. Punish the Guilty.

Seth the Ice Lion, now an Apprentice in the Jalora Legion, reluctantly travels aboard ship with his new battalion. Western Beta’s mission seems a dull assignment. Guarding miles of bogs and old ruins should be a simple task, but Seth soon learns nothing is easy for the Bearer of the Lion Ring. The Jalora is the embodiment of Good and the source of Seth’s power. It commands he search North Marsh for a relic capable of saving his homeland from the ravenous appetite of the Jackal invaders. Surrounded by deadly bogs and savage beasts, he must find the relic before the Lion Spirit inside of him takes control of their shared body.

Invaders from across the sea hold a firm grip on Valdeon, but their thirst for blood remains unsated. They lust for the riches of Andara. Using fear and greed as weapons, the Jackal enlist aid from the continent’s unscrupulous mercenaries to prepare for a larger invasion. They build a stronghold – Stone Fang Fortress – in the Bloodtooth Mountains of the north. It is here they prepare to conquer the free world.

Will Seth find this powerful relic before the Jackal swarm invades Andara? Or will his people be enslaved under the iron fist of the Jackal Lord? Seth’s answers hide in the deadly bogs of North Marsh…

Excerpt

Chapter One

Seth D’Antoiné punched his fist into a helpless bundle of hay secured in the airship’s hold. Trapped like mindless livestock, he and his best friend—his squire, Riley Logan—had been herded inside a reinforced section of the hull. The suffocating enclosure was typically used to house mounts for the Jalora Legion’s traveling rangers. Fortunately for all concerned, the battalion wasn’t taking horses with them to North Marsh.

“Great gulls! Would you stop? I’m near death, and you want to punch things.” Riley gripped the porthole with one hand and covered his mouth with the other.

“You’re already airsick? We haven’t set sail yet. Our journey to North Marsh Outpost spans three days. The trip will be a rough one if you don’t settle your stomach. Can’t you make some concoction?”

Ignoring Riley’s glare, Seth leaned against the hold wall. The Lion Ring on his finger pulsed to the beat of his angry heart. It, too, resented being caged by their uneasy allies. The Jalora was the force for good on Erthe. Its Legion consisted of men, each of whom had been bonded in service by a Heart of the Warrior ring. Every such talisman clung to its bearer’s left middle finger, feeding off the host’s blood. Seth lifted his Lion Ring and regarded it. His blood surged and ebbed with the tide inside the yellow crystal.

“They’ve no right to cage me like a beast! I have things I must do.”

His thoughts returned to the hidden passageways boring through the granite body of the Obsidian Citadel, his former duty post. A few hours before the Legion caged him, Seth had chased his murderous half-brother, Julian, to the battlements. Mercenaries had been waiting for him there, ready to fight. His new Lion Friend, Lord Fausto De Quintaro, and the men of Valdeon had stood with Seth to drive the villains from the stronghold. Fausto had vowed to return to Valdeon with rebellion in mind. Seth desperately wanted to go with him, but the Jalora Legion had other plans in mind for the new bearer of the Lion Ring.

“Aye. But you’ve been grousing for the last half-hour. Please give me a little peace so I can calm my aching head.” Riley swayed forward with a groan. “Tell me what happened when you met with that foul-tempered uncle of yours. As quietly as possible, if you please.”

Seth’s uncle, Esteban D’Antoiné, was a prince of Valdeon and bearer of the Hawk Ring. His very name sent Seth’s temper surging. Esteban’s intrigues had ripped their family apart.

“Hawk was the ranger who bargained with the assassin Pavel Sandor on Marianna,” Seth reminded his friend. “My uncle found Mother when I was a baby and promised her he would protect us by keeping my existence secret. Hawk assumed he had Pavel under his control. We both know his madness was uncontainable.” Seth ran a hand across his face. “My uncle claims he sends us with the Phoenix for my protection.”

Riley sighed. “Who knows what waits for us at the end of this journey. I’m not sure I trust that uncle of yours. It seems to me he should have waited for Cardinal Dragon to return.”

Find out more about the series on my website: www.crrichards.com

The Funniest Alien Invasion Ever

Watch The Skies! © BibiDesign – stock.adobe.com

You hear those piano keys pound, and the distinct fifties sound begins. Immediately, you recognize the prologue of THE best horror comedy to come out of the 80s. I’m talking about Little Shop of Horrors, of course! Admit it. You just started singing the lyrics. I watched the movie two days ago, and I can’t stop the Da-doo.

This unique movie was adapted from an off-Broadway musical by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman that they based on a 1960 film. In 1986, Frank Oz gave it his magic touch, and a classic was born. Who can forget Audrey II, voiced by Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops? Feed Me, Seymor!

Beware the Greek Chorus

Crystal, Ronette, and Chiffon are the mysterious girls who appear throughout the movie as musical narrators. You know something’s about to happen when they start singing. I love their costumes and hairstyles. Each look fits the song and circumstances perfectly.

The strength of their voice talent adds to this outstanding musical score. Every song is gold. They get stuck in your brain until you have to sing along.

Cosmic Comedic Cast

The cast of Little Shop of Horrors is a list of “Who’s Who” in the comedy scene of the 80s. Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Vincent Gardenia, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Jim Belushi, John Candy, and others I’m sure I’ve forgotten.

We can’t overlook the amazing puppeteers behind the inner workings of Audrey II. That was one huge plant, and I’m sure it took a large crew to make this flowery invader come to life.

I give this movie Five out of Five Intergalactic Green Thumbs!

It’s Release Week!

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The Buffy V.S. Buffy Controversy

Buffy VS Buffy – Which One Do You Prefer? © Subbotina Anna – Stock.adobe.com

When I say, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” which do you think of first, the original 1992 movie or the popular TV series? If you’re not familiar with either, you may wonder if there’s a difference. I did some binge-watching research for this post and can tell you they strike very different tones.

Set in the suburbs of California, the story follows the legend of the Slayer. Teen girls throughout the centuries are chosen to fight the evil Lothos, Vampire Lord. Buffy, a modern high school cheerleader, is the latest Slayer to be born with the amazing abilities needed to fight vampires. She is snarky, talented, and has a keen fashion sense. Buffy and her mentor, known as the Watcher, stalk vampires and keep the world safe.

Vampires, Pompoms and Luke Perry

Buffy is the creation of Joss Whedon. He wanted his snarky, vampire killing, cheerleader to be an intense badass. The studio executives decided to give the movie a lighter tone with plenty of comedy. Whedon left the project after becoming dissatisfied with the film. I understand his frustration as a creator, but as a fan, I still loved the movie. Buffy is a badass, but she remains likable.

What I like about the movie – It’s a fun romp through the graveyard. Buffy’s interaction with Merrick is a hoot. She has some great one-liners. Her emotional change, however, is what makes the movie stand out. The teen slayer grew into a character I came to identify with and like. She shook off her mean-spirited selfish ways and started caring about others. This is the real charm of the movie.

You cannot beat the cast. Kristy Swanson nails it as Buffy (See what I did there? Wooden stake. Vampires. Ahem). Donald Sutherland brought a quiet charm to his role as the Watcher. Rutger Hauer always makes an excellent bad guy. Paul Reubens steals the show. Luke Perry, teen idol back then, did very well in his first big-screen performance. Keep an eye out for young Hilary Swank and a few surprise sightings of famous actors before they became well known.

What I Didn’t Like About the Movie– As if! Seriously. I loved the movie.

High School, Hellmouth and Hunky Angels (Aka Buffy Loses Her Sense of Humor)

According to some hardcore fan YouTube video sites, Joss Whedon finally was able to bring out the version of Buffy he’d first envisioned. She and her world would be darker and much more serious. Buffy fans rejoiced. Soon the TV show gathered a cult following.

This Buffy takes up where the movie left off. Sort of. Buffy and her Mom (who inexplicably has turned from a ditzy, self-absorbed trophy wife to a serious working single mom) move to Sunnydale to begin their new life. Buffy promises her Mom she won’t get into trouble as she did in her last school. A new Watcher, Giles, works in the library of her high school. He wants to start up her training again. Buffy refuses, but circumstances quickly force her back into the Slayer life.

What I like about the series– David Boreanaz as Angel. Yep. He was the only aspect of the show I remembered. Hey. I was a fan of the Dark Angel TV Series. Charisma Carpenter’s character, Cordelia, also shines in both Buffy and Dark Angel.

What I didn’t like about the series– Buffy. She completely lost her sense of humor, which is one of the things I loved about Buffy the movie. TV Series Buffy comes off as snarky and flat. If you put Kristy Swanson and Sarah Michelle Gellar side by side as they do those fight scenes, then it is easy to see which actress is better suited to the role. Kudos Kristy Swanson. You kicked some serious butt.

Final Thoughts

I watched the movie and season one of the TV Series before writing this post. The film still makes me laugh. I wasn’t a fan of Buffy the TV series back in the day, and watching it now hasn’t changed my mind. I suppose things could have developed in later seasons, but I just am not invested enough to find out. Maybe if I hadn’t seen the movie, then who knows?

Which one is YOUR Buffy? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

 

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It’s release month for Creed of the Guardian – Book Three in the Heart of the Warrior series. I’m celebrating with a Halloween Giveaway! Click here to enter for a chance to win these Boo-tiful Prizes:

 

  • Signed Print copies of Books 1 – 3 of the Heart of the Warrior series with 2 limited edition bookmarks
  • Mini-flex LED Reading Light
  • $50 Amazon Gift Card
  • Plush Lion
  • 1000-piece Halloween jigsaw puzzle
  • Halloween mug filled with candy

Visit my EVENTs page for scheduling information and blog stops I’ll be visiting this Fall.

The Spooky Movie You Forgot You Loved

Start The Spooky Season With An Old Favorite! © Drobot Dean – stock.adobe.com

Happy Spooky Season! I know I’m a few days early, but I am too excited to wait! This October is going to be a fun one. Creed of the Guardian – Book Three in the Heart of the Warrior series – comes out October 18th. I’ll have details on tours and giveaways soon.

Let’s kick off the season with a blast from the past to get you in the Halloween Spirit!

The Frighteners – directed by Peter Jackson and starring Michael J. Fox – is a satisfying mix of paranormal haunts, suspenseful plot twists, and comedy. Fox plays Frank Bannister, conman and paranormal investigator. Frank finds himself up against a supernatural serial killer preying on unlikely victims around his home town.

First released in 1995, this movie came out at the height of Michael J. Fox’s popularity. His acting is heartfelt and real. The entire cast brings their best performances in this entertaining paranormal adventure. It is Jackson’s ground-breaking special effects that propel this movie over the top. According to Jackson, they developed software and techniques in The Frighteners that made it possible for him to film The Lord of the Rings.

Make sure to put this spooky fun film on your Halloween Playlist. I highly recommend the Director’s Cut released as part of the 15th Anniversary Edition Blue-ray.

Be Positive. Be Happy. Be Well. And Have a Spook-tacular Spooky Season!

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