Archive for jason zinoman

odds and ends

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , on July 29, 2011 by Christopher Pearce

The last week or so has been all about resting and recouperating from my ear infection. At times, I couldn’t believe how low energy a simple ear infection was making me- there were two days where I did little more than sleep! I’m feeling MUCH better now, to the point where my family and I are, as I write this, undertaking a second trip! We’re piling in the car and driving back to the East Coast for a week. It’s been over a year since I’ve been to New York and I’m very excited about seeing old friends again. Ellen and I are even planning on leaving the kids with Grandma and Grandpa and spending some time back in our old stomping grounds in New York City. It should be a really fun week!


One of my favorite books about movies is Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n Roll Generation Saved Hollywood. I read that book when I was a teenager and I clearly remember thinking, as I got to the end, “Biskind didn’t really write about Halloween or Alien!” Two of my absolute favorite movies from the ’70’s are given passing mention in his book but, by and large, Biskind stayed away from the horror genre (The Exorcist notwithstanding) and focused on the maverick directors of the 1970’s like Coppola, Scorsese, and Spielberg.

With that in mind, I thoroughly enjoyed Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror by Jason Zinoman, an exhaustive and entertaining look at the horror genre in the 1970’s that takes many of its’ cues from Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. Zinoman give his readers a comprehensive look at the directors and writers who brought horror from the midnight screenings to the mainstream. George Romero, John Carpenter, Brian DePalma, William Friedkin, Roman Polanski, Tobe Hooper are all given equal consideration. While documenting the process of their movies, the author also gives cultural context to the successes of the movies in a time in America full of political and social upheaval.

Although some interesting points are made, I’d argue a little too much time is given over to Peter Bogdanovich’s Targets, a movie I don’t really consider a horror movie despite the Zinoman’s arguments. However, it’s nice to see the author give so much praise over to Dan O’Bannon, an relatively unsung father of modern horror and sci-fi.


Thwipster is sort of Groupon for nerds. Every day, they have some sort of deal on a book/item that only very geeky people would be excited about owning. Usually, they offer comic book trade paperbacks, but their low prices never seen all that much lower than places like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Last week, however, they had something on offer that I just could not resist:

A toy replica of the 10th Doctor’s sonic screwdriver from Doctor Who! Ellen and I are planning to go as The Doctor/Amy Pond this Halloween (costumes sure to be met with a chorus of “Wait, what are you again?”) so I’ve been wanting to pick up one of these sonic screwdriver replicas. Although I’m likely to go as the 11th Doctor, I very much doubt I’ll have anyone nitpicking the inaccuracy of my screwdriver choice… and I’ll always be more of a David Tennant fan.

The toy came a few days ago and it’s a wonderful little replica. It’s quite screen-accurate and I could see kids having a LOT of fun with something like this. It comes with a switch that extends the top of the screwdriver forward. A small button, when deployed, reproduces both the blue light and the sonic screwdriver sound to great effect. It even has a neat-o UV pen for you to write secrets that can only be read when the sonic screwdriver’s light is held on the message.