Weird Weekly Prompts #5: Halloween Follies

dr mcninja

This writing project is courtesy of everyone's good friend Angelo. I'll let him describe it:

A friend challenged me to a writing contest. The basic premise is that for two months, she will send me a writing prompt twice a week. 750 word response. I will do the same with her. The point is to get some experience/feedback writing a bunch of different, unusual things with odd prompts that you don't expect. Would you be interested in doing one a week for the rest of the offseason?

Fun times in Cleveland today. (Cleveland!) He's posting his on Goodspeed and Poe, everyone's favorite blog. I'm posting my contributions on Gothic Ginobili, everyone's favorite basketball. No, I didn't mean to type "basketball blog." Gothic Ginobili is not a blog. Gothic Ginobili is a basketball. If you disagree with this particular assessment, you just haven't experienced this place properly yet. Here are the previous prompts:

Here's this week's prompt.

• • •

PROMPT #5: This is the time of year when I really start gearing up for Halloween. Despite what many adults would say, Halloween is easily the best holiday of the year. Shitty horror movies are on TV all the time, you can binge eat candy without any of your coworkers guilt tripping you and talking about the "paleo diet", and pumpkin flavored everything is everywhere. It's the greatest. That said, the best part of Halloween is easily the Halloween party and the corresponding costumes. And that brings us to your prompt, Aaron. Give us all a brief history of the Halloween costumes of Aaron McGuire. What are you most proud of? The most ashamed? Have you ever seen a costume that brought a tear to your eye? Any that made you shudder in fright?

A brief history of my Halloween costumes is just that: brief. For someone that's as huge of an unrepentant nerd as I am, I've never been one to really go all-out and create a super-intricate Halloween costume. I've been content to linger with the unwashed masses, reveling in our completely unremarkable costumes and leaving the truly impressive stuff for others. Most of my costumes were so unremarkable as to be totally forgettable, and I honestly can't say I remember what I went as for most of them.

The ones I remember include:

  • Age 5: Waldo from Where's Waldo. (There are some really adorable pictures of this one.)
  • Age 6: Steven Spielberg (Yes, I went as a famous Jewish filmmaker as a 6-year-old. Classic Aaron McGuire.)
  • Age 9: Obi-Wan Kenobi (The cloak from this one formed the basis of every costume I wore for the next 5 years.)
  • Age 17: Dr. McNinja (From the webcomic, unexpectedly titled The Adventures of Dr. McNinja.)
  • Age 21: Scarecrow (From Wizard of Oz. Girlfriend went as Dorothy.)

That's all I really can recall, which is both the sign of someone who really didn't put a wealth of effort into the craft and a sign of someone who didn't have particularly good ideas to begin with. At least I didn't ever go with any of the classics (Frankenstein's monster, zombies, warlocks) -- I would've probably made a mockery of them, and if you're gonna make a mockery of a costume you might as well keep it relatively off the beaten path. I added a photograph of my Dr. McNinja costume to the front of the post, as well as a photograph of my scarecrow costume to the bottom. As those are by far my two best ones, you can make your own silent judgments on the rest of them from there. In terms of pride and shame, I'm a bit proud of the Dr. McNinja costume simply because it was a cheap-yet-fun costume that I thought I executed reasonably well with scant little money to spend on it. Using my Obi-Wan Kenobi cloak for five years of costumes would be my biggest source of shame -- few things are more shameful than Halloween half-measures, and recycling a costume for that long is the king of all half-measures.

As for the costumes of others, that's another admittedly scant subject for me. When I was in college, I somehow managed to be working on Halloween night every single year. The night I was Dr. McNinja, I didn't even go out -- I stayed in and handed out candy while my parents had a relaxing night with the X-Files movie and my brother trick-or-treated with friends. There was only one particularly costume-filled Halloween night, and that was the time I went as Scarecrow, traveled back to Chapel Hill, went to one a Halloween party thrown by some of my UNC friends. If you aren't familiar, UNC's Franklin Street goes nuts on Halloween. They rope off several blocks and it becomes a gigantic outdoor party, one of drunk heckling and costume admiration all around. While I've only been there once, I have to admit, it was pretty fantastic. The creativity was incredible. Costumes I can remember off the top of my head include:

  • A living set of Tetris pieces, occasionally being lifted up and placed atop each other.
  • One man went as a giant (and semi-functional!!!) Connect Four board. Rajon Rondo would've freaked.
  • Scrabble tiles. (Carved ones, too -- not just flimsy cardboard crap, they actually carved out life-size scrabble tiles.)
  • Some frat boys went as a centaur. Wouldn't have been notable, except it looked exactly like the Alex Rodriguez centaur that everyone knows about. Which is, you know, completely 100% perfect.
  • Seven people fully painted themselves the seven shades of a rainbow. Pedestrian, right? Wrong -- they moved in complete concert with each other, never breaking character as a living rainbow for over an hour.

What.

Look, Angelo. I'm not saying that you need to make a point to come to Chapel Hill just to see their Halloween celebrations. I'm just saying that exact thing I just said I wasn't saying, you know? I am not enticing you to come to Chapel Hill, except for the part where that is exactly what I'm doing. The decision is entirely up to you, although there is a clear delineation between right and wrong in this specific case. No judgment here, except the judgment I am making right at this very moment on you as a human being. Feel free to do whatever it is you want to do, as long as whatever you want to do intersects with exactly what I have outlined in this confusing paragraph.

... Happy Halloween!

scarecrow

Weird Weekly Prompts #4: Moosepocalypse Now

 bullwinkle

This writing project is courtesy of everyone's good friend Angelo. I'll let him describe it:

A friend challenged me to a writing contest. The basic premise is that for two months, she will send me a writing prompt twice a week. 750 word response. I will do the same with her. The point is to get some experience/feedback writing a bunch of different, unusual things with odd prompts that you don't expect. Would you be interested in doing one a week for the rest of the offseason?

Fun times in Cleveland today. (Cleveland!)  He's posting his on Goodspeed and Poe, everyone's favorite blog. I'm posting my contributions (apparently!) on Gothic Ginobili, everyone's favorite basketball. No, I didn't mean to type "basketball blog." Gothic Ginobili is not a blog. Gothic Ginobili is a basketball. If you disagree with this particular assessment, you just haven't experienced this place properly yet. Here are the previous prompts:

Here's last week's prompt. (We gave ourselves a week off due to labor day weekend getting up in our business.)

• • •

PROMPT #4: You are the head of programming at the Syfy channel. In recent years, the Syfy channel has discovered the formula for made-for-TV movie success; washed up stars from 90's television shows and ridiculous monsters. Unfortunately, after the successes of films like Sharktopus, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, Sharknado, Dinoshark, Spring Break Shark Attack, Sharks in Venice, and Ghost Shark, the public is beginning to sour on films involving the aquatic predators. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to find the next big thing in Syfy entertainment. The one catch? The financiers have refused to fund another film involving sharks. Without sharks, what creature will the film revolve around? What will it be called? And finally, what washed up star will play the lead?

MEMO TO FINANCIERS

That's sharky? That's malarky. You speak, we hear. SyFy's new intellectual property is poised to blow any residual shark-tinged viewer fantasies out of the water, and begin a new age of made-for-TV faux-horror. We know you don't want sharks. We don't either. And though our viewers would disagree, they're just in denial. You know that, we know that, end of story. Sharks are old hat. Old, profitable, fearmongering, classic, and totally unremarkable hat. Those are the kinds of hat they are. Those are not hats I would like to wear, and I am incredibly fashionable. I bet they aren't the kinds of hats you want either. Instead of those outmoded tams, we put on some thinking caps. Really classy. And we racked our brains til' the ribs were jealous. And after all that, we came up with an idea that really pops. Absolutely guaranteed to open your hearts, minds, and -- most importantly -- wallets.

Prepare yourselves... for "Moosepocalypse Now."

As the maiden installment, Moosepocalypse Now represents the first salvo in what's sure to be SyFy's next big faux-franchise. The sea is dark and mysterious, with briny depths unknown and horrors unseen by man. But that reliable spookiness is exactly why our next property can't come from the sea -- it's too expected. Too vanilla. Too boring. Instead, we're taking our cue from the frigid hinterlands, and our animal from a too often slept-on time bomb. Have you ever thought about just how easily a moose could murder you, your wife, and your infant daughter? Have you ever considered the dire threat they could pose to humanity, if only they felt the need? I assume you have not. Please peruse this list of True Moose Facts, and try to keep your creeping terrors at bay.

  • Bull moose antlers can span up to six feet wide. If sanded to jagged edges, that's a living chainsaw.
  • A fully-grown moose can weigh up to 1500 pounds. That's not a typo. If two of them teamed up, they'd outweigh most sedans.
  • At full stride, a moose can run 35 miles an hour. You can get speeding tickets at moose running speed.
  • Moose can swim at 6 MPH. Think you can get away from a killer moose by jumping into the water? Think again, fatso! (Sorry. Your weight is a sore subject. I'll keep that to myself.)
  • Despite their size, due to large hooves and deft feet, a moose can travel silently through snow, underbrush, and muskeg. Metal Gear Solid 5 -- Solid Moose Strikes Back.

And that all ignores the fact that the moose may be the strongest animal on the face of the earth -- their legs are only thin on appearance, their muscle mass is legendary. The moose race -- if they ever woke up -- represent a huge danger to society at large. And that's exactly what we plan to film. In Moosepocalypse Now, FBI agent Kelsey Fringmann (played by Anthony Michael Hall, known for his work in The Dead Zone, Edward Scissorhands, The Breakfast Club, and vanishing into the ether after The Dead Zone concluded) investigates a series of strange happenings in Maine. Gruesome bloody massacres, people with their heads crushed like soda cans, cars stomped and thrown into rivers, buildings trampled. Nobody knows what could possibly be causing it.

anthony michael hall

The first act covers both their investigation and a mirroring thread in Russia. The caretakers of Russia's moose conservatory (led by Yakov Dramadov, played by Anton Yelchin) have noticed a spate of odd behavior from their formerly docile moose population. They're getting hyped. In the movie's suspenseful middle-act, the moose revolt in Maine and Russia, leveling towns and producing large-scale destruction the likes of which no military unit has ever seen. It's revealed that Russian testing of a new chemical agent has mutated hundreds of Russian specimen into super-mutant moose warlords, 7000 pound behemoths that are virtually impervious to bullets and possess the speed and intelligence to outsmart and destroy tanks and helicopters. These super-moose agents have developed a telepathic link to the planet's moose population, inciting them to revolt and instigating a mass takeover of the northeastern United States, Canada, Russia, and Alaska.

In the movie's final act, the super-moose warlords -- now firmly in control of St. Petersburg and Moscow -- are inching closer to figuring out Russia's nuclear launch codes, with every intention of carpet-bombing the civilized world with nukes and leaving the noble moose as Earth's last remaining sentient species. It's up to Agent Fringmann and Dr. Dramadov to unite the gene sequences from two improbably similar USA/USSR testing sites to produce a moose-targeting biological weapon that will kill off the super-moose warlords and save humanity. Will they succeed? Will the moose reign be thwarted? We don't know, because we actually haven't written a script yet. What, you think we actually write the scripts for these things before we start production?

Shut UP, dude, that's ridiculous.

Coming this fall to a SyFy near you: MOOSEPOCALYPSE NOW. Don't miss it.

--  GERALDINE Q. MEGABUXX, SyFy Head of Programming

Weird Weekly Prompts #3: MackGuire vs Hogan, 1988

hulk hogan

This writing project is courtesy of everyone's good friend Angelo. I'll let him describe it:

A friend challenged me to a writing contest. The basic premise is that for two months, she will send me a writing prompt twice a week. 750 word response. I will do the same with her. The point is to get some experience/feedback writing a bunch of different, unusual things with odd prompts that you don't expect. Would you be interested in doing one a week for the rest of the offseason?

Fun times in Cleveland today. (Cleveland!) Now, that said, we started this exercise a month ago and only recently finished our first contributions. He's posting his on Goodspeed and Poe, everyone's favorite blog. I'm posting my contributions (apparently!) on Gothic Ginobili, everyone's favorite basketball. No, I didn't mean to type "basketball blog." Gothic Ginobili is not a blog. Gothic Ginobili is a basketball. If you disagree with this particular assessment, you just haven't experienced this place properly yet. Here are the previous prompts:

Here's this week's prompt. Angelo was really mean to me this week.

• • •

PROMPT #3: The year is 1988. It's the evening before the World Wrestling Federation's flagship event, Wrestlemania and you, Aaron McGuire, have a shot at the WWF Championship. Your opponent is none other than the legendary Hulk Hogan. You find yourself in front of a green screen with a camera pointed on you. It's time to film your pre-match promo in which you get to address your opponent one last time before you two face off in the squared circle.

What do you say?

You have the creative freedom to create your character as you see fit but with one limitation. As it is 1988, you are the product of the '80's pro wrestling circuit. As such, assume your brain is under the influence of the same amount of steroids, cocaine and concussions as all pro wrestlers of the era. Think like a wrestler, McGuire.

[The camera turns on. MCGUIRE stares into it blankly for what seems like an hour. He speaks.]

MCGUIRE: I brought a dictionary, Hulk Hogan.

[He reaches down and picks up a dictionary off the ground. He flips through it, seemingly completely unaware of the large bookmark roughly two thirds of the way through the tome. After some mindless flipping, he realizes the bookmark exists and turns to it, tossing the bookmark aside.]

MCGUIRE: I'm not big... on words. I'm big on results. I'm big on being big. I'm big on the Mack. I am "Mack Hammer" MackGuire, the greatest to ever flex. You? You're Hulk Hogan. And when I think of Hulk Hogan, I think of this thing.

[MCGUIRE MACKGUIRE waves the dictionary.]

MACKGUIRE: I think of WORDS, Hulk Hogan. Words I don't like. Words I hate. And one word for sure. It is the word called... traitor. It says here, in the Yoxford Real American Dictionary, that you only need two words to define a true traitor to his people. Do you know what those words are, Hulk Hogan?

[He begins to tear pages out of the dictionary indiscriminately. He takes special care to rip out the page that contains the word "traitor", shoving it into his mouth like a raspberry danish gone wrong. He flexes, chews, and yells.]

MACKGUIRE: THOSE WORDS ARE HULK HOGAN.

[He swallows.]

MACKGUIRE: Dictionaries are for nerds and televisions and heads. You don't have any of those, so you probably never knew you were in the dictionary. But that's OK, Hulk Hogan. Because you won't ever have the chance to. I just wanted you to know before  Wrestlemania ends you. Because it will, Hulk Hogan. You don't understand these demons. You don't get it.

[He goes silent. The camera zooms in on his eyes. This zoom takes roughly 20 seconds of dead air.]

MACKGUIRE: I am the swamp giant, Hulk Hogan.

[The camera shakes, as if to emulate an earthquake. It instead emulates your father's Christmas home movies.]

MACKGUIRE: Long ago I rose from the swamp at the bottom of the ocean, hungry for sharks and blood. But I'm all out of sharks and blood only makes sense when it's from a traitor, because that's the rules of blood. Rules that people know. Except for traitors, because they don't GET to know that. They don't GET to understand. And you, Hulk Hogan, you're the biggest traitor of them all. You gave up Wrestlemania. You gave up your friends and family. All for what? All for WHAT, HOGAN?

[He stops. He might have lost track of what he was saying, much like everyone watching.]

MACKGUIRE: Hooooooooo... gaaaaaan...

[Oh, nevermind, he's back on track, guess he just wanted to be dramatic.]

MACKGUIRE: Traitors never prosper, except when they're Eggs Benedict. He prospered back when Lincoln was president and the world was different. But you, Hulk Hogan, you're no Eggs Benedict. You're not even the Pope. You're Hulk Hogan, which is a noun, which is a dictionary for traitor. The swamp giant was made to eat traitors for breakfast. And the Mack Hammer never surrenders. Not like you. You always surrender. I know you, even if you think I don't. So step up to that ring, Hulk Hogan, and fight me like a man. And I will destroy you, just like the traitor you are. Just like the traitor you knew you'd be. Kiss your world goodbye, Hulk Hogan. Because it's about to be over. Traitor.

[He mean-mugs the camera, flexing incoherently. Camera fades to black.]

Weird Weekly Prompts, #2: The Dangers of Thrift

maybe i should just do this with it

This writing project is courtesy of everyone's good friend Angelo. I'll let him describe it:

A friend challenged me to a writing contest. The basic premise is that for two months, she will send me a writing prompt twice a week. 750 word response. I will do the same with her. The point is to get some experience/feedback writing a bunch of different, unusual things with odd prompts that you don't expect. Would you be interested in doing one a week for the rest of the offseason?

Fun times in Cleveland today. (Cleveland!) Now, that said, we started this exercise a month ago and only recently finished our first contributions. He's posting his on Goodspeed and Poe, everyone's favorite blog. I'm posting my contributions (apparently!) on Gothic Ginobili, everyone's favorite basketball. No, I didn't mean to type "basketball blog." Gothic Ginobili is not a blog. Gothic Ginobili is a basketball. If you disagree with this particular assessment, you just haven't experienced this place properly yet. Here are the previous prompts:

Here's this week's prompt, alongside my confessional.

• • •

PROMPT #2: Your next prompt, if you choose to accept it, is to write about the stupidest thing you ever purchased. Why did you buy it? How has it affected your life? How would your life be different if you had that money back and could choose to invest it more wisely?

A little bit of background on me: I'm thrifty. Full-blown penny-pincher. Cheap, on any given Monday. I value my money and it values me. (It does not value me. Money is not a person. That sentence was untrue.) For me, retail therapy involves going to Costco and finding a great deal on snacks I'd buy anyway. Clipping a coupon and applying it at the exact perfect moment. Example: I cook a LOT of soup. Every few weeks, I make a ton of soup and I jar it into Ball jars and I eat the soup as a side for the next few weeks. It's neat. Thing is: I only got a ladle two weeks ago. That's right -- for two years of my life I made soup every 10-15 days, but I never thought to get a ladle to serve it. I'd just tip the pot and use measuring cups for soup disbursement. Seriously. My friends made fun of me for it, but I'm not in the business of changing my life just to accommodate the naysayers and people named Gerald. Gerald can find his own way.

I'm thrifty and generally prone to making best with quite little. And for this very reason, I had trouble thinking of any particular purchase that was too large and too stupid. This is hardly just me, of course -- most people remember their purchasing successes long before they recall their purchasing failures. Hindsight is usually 20/20 for your triumphs and cloudy for your failures. It's the way of things. I had to think back hard to remember the poor investments I'd made in my life. My college education was a bit of a poor investment -- I could've gone to a state school on a full ride, but I chose to go out of state for slight added benefit. My first (and current) car -- a used 2009 Toyota Camry -- is serviceable. But at the price I paid for it, I should've just bit the bullet and gotten a new car. Used cars lose most of their value the second you take them off the lot, despite the fact that you still have 6-7 years of paying for it. Come on, Aaron. Get it together. I could also talk about my enormous book collection, one of the few things I collect. Dropped many ducats on the craft, for sure. Do I need it? Perhaps not. Perhaps so. I do not know.

None of those things are the stupidest purchase I've ever made. The stupidest purchase I ever made defines me. It's a scarlet letter. It's a flashing neon symbol of cheapness and thrift-over-blood that I should've figured out from the start. I have been trapped in this hell for years, my friends -- I must confess and seek absolution for this sin. It's one thing to buy multi-use kitchen tools so that everything stays in your cooking rotation. It's one thing to buy bulk items from Costco and freeze extra things in the freezer to keep them longer. It's one thing to eat slightly-maybe-a-few-days-expired food as long as it doesn't look or smell disgusting. It's one thing to take your garbage to the dump by hand because you haven't gotten the motivation to purchase garbage service for your home yet.

It's quite another to ever buy the cheapest toilet paper. At Costco.

I don't want to give you the gory details. Nobody wants to hear that. Ever. What happens in the bathroom is humanity's grandest secret. There is nothing to be said, no words to be shared. I stare silently at you, you stare silently at me. You turn up your nose. I shake my head and stare at my feet, ashamed. This is the way of things, and this is how it must be. But you know exactly what I mean when I say that this -- this -- was the stupidest purchase I ever made.

Look, Costco sells things in grotesque bulk. You know this. In a moment of weakness, two years prior, I chose to go with the cheapest of all possible toilet papers. I am not a wastrel. If I waste a single pea on a plate of prepared food, I feel bad. So I knew going in that I was going to have to use all the damn paper if I intended to ever move up in the world. But what the doomed never realizes is just how long that takes. I also did not realize that the questionable luxury of good toilet paper is only truly possible to understand when you experience its absence for several years of your life. I also did not fully comprehend my impending shame. Imagine: friends come over. They need a restroom. You watch helplessly as your friends and family enter the valley of the shadow of death. You cringe. You shiver. You know the truth.

Might as well just dab it with cyanide and get it over with, huh? Death by toilet paper only seems impossible until you buy the worst toilet paper. Then you know. Then you are made aware of the possibilities. It is horrible, to buy the worst toilet paper. It is unnecessary. Why did you do it, Aaron? "Oh, I saved a quarter." Stop. Cease. You mortgaged years of your life away. You became the evil you sought to conquer. You sold out for twenty-five cents. Even Judas Iscarot got thirty. You are a fool, McGuire, consumed by thrift and reduced to dust. "You are a toilet seat that smokes a cigar."

... Now, uh, that said, I don't really know what I'd do with that money if I hadn't bought them. I mean, Christ, guys. It's like two dollars. I'm going to assume I would have put it towards toilet paper that didn't make me want to skydive without a parachute. My life would be improved, and I would be twenty-five cents poorer. I would be infinitely wiser, although without this prolonged suffering, I may never have properly learned this lesson. Perhaps it's all for the best.

(No. No it is not. Never do this.)