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2018’s ‘Halloween’ is Ridiculously Fun

 I’ve got to admit, I wasn’t really the biggest fan of the ‘Halloween’ franchise before seeing this movie. Watching a ton of classic horror movies was something I’d always wanted to do, but I just never got around to actually sitting down and watching them. It wasn’t until I saw the trailer for David Gordon Green’s 2018 Halloween that I decided it was time to bite the bullet and watch the original John Carpenter classic. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good film – the story was fantastic and Michael Myers was just as iconic a villain as I wanted him to be – but as somebody who was born about twenty years after its release, it just didn’t hit me the way it hit people who grew up with the franchise. So I guess you could say my expectations weren’t all that high. I was excited to see it, sure, but I wasn’t putting all my hopes and dreams in it.

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But, believe it or not, this film pleasantly surprised me. Sure, it definitely had its faults. There were a few plot inconsistencies, a couple of useless characters – who you know are going to end up brutally murdered from the moment they’re introduced – and a ton of cliche plot devices that are more predictable than your cat biting you when you pet its stomach (I mean, come on, it’s practically a death wish). Some of the throw-backs to the original were a little overbearing and a few of the choices characters made were enough to make you either roll your eyes or scream at the screen. But, oddly enough, no matter how many flaws this film had, it still worked.

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Jamie Lee Curtis once again was a work of art as the hardened survivor of the original Halloween, Laurie Strode. With combat skills, a recently acquired taste for vengeance, and a spooky knowledge of Michael Myers’ ways, Laurie transforms from iconic scream queen to Myers’ worse nightmare. However, with an edge of fear and intensive preparation, Laurie’s not just your average horror-movie-warrior, reminding us of the terrified origins of poor, innocent Laurie Strode in the original John Carpenter feature.

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And Michael Myers? He’s… well… Michael Myers. The horrifying killer eerily mimics his 1978 self, throwing audiences back into the good old days of dead eyes, silence and an impossible sense of immortality ‘the boogieman’ was always known for being. With a mask reminiscent of the first – the good old ravished William Shatner mask – everything audiences loved from the first is completely replicated into this new and brilliantly frightening film.

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Sure, it might not be a masterpiece, but 2018’s Halloween is the most fun you’ll have in a horror movie this year. It’s unrealistic, it’s completely cliched, but more importantly, it’s a cat-and-mouse slasher that will keep you on the edge of your feet until the credits roll.

writing advice

Five Bits Of Reassurance All Writers Need To Hear

Ok, so you’re a writer. You’ve just finished writing a book or a short story or maybe even just a chapter of your latest work in progress. Adrenaline flows through your veins as you print it out for the first time and place it on your desk. It’s your baby, your beloved, your life, and it’s right there in front of you all in paper form. You stare at it, feel the weight of it in your hands as you inhale the luscious scent of fresh ink set on a wad of new paper. It’s beautiful. It’s all you’ve dreamed of. You sit down and you start to read.
But no.
Oh God no.
No… it’s… it’s terrible!

Sound familiar? Trust me, you’re not alone. Almost every writer feels like a bad writer at some point in their life. Most of the time, it’s completely unjustified, but no matter how much you tell yourself its all in your head, there’ll always be that little nagging voice at the back of your head telling you to give up.
Well, ladies and gents, I’m here to tell you that voice is completely full of it. Honestly. If that voice was a person, it’d be that weird uncle that always tells you about his wild adventures running from the CIA or that one time he was hired by the Mafia to run errons… yeah, it’s that full of it.
But, if you’re anything like me, no matter how unreasonable you know that voice is, you’ll still get disheartened; you’ll still feel like it’s all not worth it. So, I’m here to give you five pieces of reassurance that’ll keep you battling that voice during those tough times. Because there’s nothing more reassuring than receiving advice from a complete stranger on the internet, right? Right!

You’re Comparing it to Other Authors

Chances are if you’re a writer, you’re probably also an avid reader. Like most readers, you’ve got a preferred writing style. You might not notice it – a lot of people don’t – but almost every reader will be drawn to a certain type of writing. Maybe you like fast paced books. Maybe you read books that have shorter sentences. Maybe you like books with flowery wording and intensive world building. No matter what kind of reader you are, you’re always drawn to a certain type of writing.
But did you ever think that the reason you’re criticising your writing so much is because it doesn’t fit in your preferred reading style box?
Most writers will compare their writing to their favourite books, but there’s a hazard to that practise. The more you compare, the more similar you get and the more similar you get, the worse it is for your writing career. Yeah, it might sound fantastic to you, but sounding like another author is an instant no-no from not only readers, but agents, publishers and editors alike. Having a different writing style from what you normally read isn’t just right, it’s sought-after by publishers. So, before you put on your critical eye and go over your writing, make sure you’re not looking at it from the eye of your favourite author first.

You’ve Given it… What?… A Day?

Every professional author knows that reading through a piece straight after you’ve written it is a cry for bad editing. Not only does it mean you’ll probably skimp over a lot of the mistakes, but it can also mean you’ll pick up on a lot of mistakes that aren’t really there, too. This doesn’t just mess with your head, but it can be disastrous for your writing project, too.
The best advice? When you’ve written something, give it at least a day’s break. If you find you’re still being too harsh on yourself, give it a week, maybe even a month before coming back to it. Not only will you find it easier to read it from a reader’s point of view and pick up on inconsistencies more easily, but you’ll also find a lot of your doubts about your writing will disappear, too. Remember, nothing is a disaster beyond fixing. Nothing is worth giving up.

There are Successful Writers Who are Worse Writers Than You

Yeah, that’s right. I’m going there.
Believe it or not, it’s not all that difficult to get published these days. With publishing platforms getting bigger and bigger and a lot of them moving online, it’s really never been easier to publish a book. With a few dollars and a click of a few buttons, basically anybody can get published, and although this is usually a little alarming for most writers, it can also be a source of comfort for you, too. Because, yeah, with the amount of published writers out there, there’s always bound to be a few just…. terrible books for you to find. Funnily enough, there are also a lot of terrible books that’ve done pretty well financially, too.
So, if you’re ever feeling down about your writing, pick up a terrible book, read through it’s cringey dialogue and disastrous plot devices and let yourself think: well, at least I’m not that bad. Trust me, it works.

Most People Will Never Write a Book in Their Life

There was an old survey in America a few years back that showed that about 80-90% of Americans think they have a book in them. It’s common knowledge to most serious writers that almost everybody thinks they could write a book if they had the time or the patience or… whatever other excuse they can think of. But chances are, they won’t. Chances are, these people will never in their life actually write, finish and publish a book.
So why are you so hard on yourself? You’ve written something, for god’s sake! You’ve taken time out of your life and you sat down and you hand typed every damn word that you’ve printed out. Every single one of those words are yours! Do you know how impressive that is? Compared to the rest of the world, you’re already a rarity.
Calm down, put that critical thinking had down on the table for a second, and just let the reality of it all sink in. You wrote something. And what you’ve written, you can always fix!

Edit! Edit! Edit!

This should be a given, but to a lot of people it’s not. When you finish writing a book or a chapter or… whatever it is that you’re writing, your work is now ready for editing. It’s not just ready for editing, but it’s waiting for it. It needs it. Every single piece of work needs an editor, no matter how good that person might be at their craft. First, you self-edit. Go through all the things you think you should be fixing up. Then, send it out to other readers and get their opinions on it and finally, send it out to a professional.
These are the steps every single writer goes through. Don’t skimp out on them and don’t expect to have to skimp out on them! No work is perfect and no work will ever be perfect until it’s had an editor’s eyes on it – a few editor’s eyes in most cases.
You’re not a bad writer, you’re an unedited writer!

 

So, if you’re ever feeling down about your writing, remember, you’re not alone. Oh and also the Fifty Shades of Gray books are making billions of dollars and getting movie deals so there’s always hope for you.
Now stop procrastinating and get back to writing!

writing advice

Jordan Peele, Taika Waititi and the Art of Cliches

If you’re a writer, you’ve probably come across the idea of story ‘cliches’ before. In this media dominated era, it’s pretty hard not to. We’re a people captivated by stories and desperate to delve into new worlds and universes that differ from our own. After so many centuries of stories, I guess it’s not really much of a surprise that Hollywood’s been stated as having no ‘new’ ideas. Everybody’s on the look out for original stories, but to this day, not much has turned up, and most of what has been deemed as original content has been a box office flop compared to films like Doctor Strange – a film that utilises a majority of previous Marvel film plot points (hint, hint, Iron Man). So, if cliches are seen as bad, why are they doing so well? And why do stories that actually break these cliches so often fail?

One of the first movies that come to mind for me when the topic of ‘original stories’ are mentioned, is Jordan Peele’s 2017 directorial debut ‘Get Out‘. The film, centring around a young black man who meets the family of his white girlfriend for the first time, was a huge success both in the box office and in the eyes of critics. However, there’s one feature of this film that’s never really talked about: the fact that it is completely riddled with cliches. With jump scares (granted not many), an evil hypnotist and a house out in the middle of the wilderness, there’s really no denying this film’s unoriginality, but it’s this unoriginality that makes Get Out not only a memorable movie, but also a boxoffice hit.

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Jordan Peele, using his knowledge of horror audiences and their expectations, manages to do something that’s rarely done by many directors today: manipulate common cliches. Instead of avoiding these cliches altogether, as many writers are told to do, Peele uses these cliches to his advantage, creating a predictable plot and an emotionally jarring central character.
The moment that Chris turns up at the house of his girlfriend Rose’s parents, we know something’s wrong. They live in an isolated country side, have some suspiciously odd helpers around the house, Rose’s parents are far too friendly and Rose’s mother is a hypnotist. It doesn’t take long at all for the audience to realise Chris is in for a double dose of horror, but it’s these expectations that make the film all the more satisfying when we find out the truth. It’s also what makes the plot twist so shocking. By reusing and slightly twisting old cliches, Peele hides the truth right under our nose – Rose was the bad guy all along. There were so many predictable cliches in the first half that our sense of ‘who-done-it’ is stripped away and we watch the film without question until it’s finally revealed that Peele has been playing us the whole time.

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In a way, Get Out was also the perfect way to introduce ‘Indie’, more original films to a mainstream audience. Audiences can all identify these cliche story points. They’re in all the big modern horror hits, allowing for Get Out to slip among the greats with gusto. We’re expecting your average horror film and predictable horror films sell. Get Out manages to bring something new to horror, wrapping it in a coat of predictability in order to attract mainstream audiences.

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However, Peele isn’t the only director that has used cliches to their advantage. Starting off as a relatively unknown Indie director, Taika Waititi became a name to be reckoned with in after his work on the Marvel blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok.

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Thor: Ragnarok is a pretty good example of twisting cliches in itself, using the well known ‘superhero’ trend to add something new and fun to the genre, but there’s another less known film of Waititi’s that has perfected the art of using already established cliches to a tee, and that film is What We Do In The Shadows.

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What We Do In The Shadows is one of Waititi’s finest comedies and arguably one of the best comedies to come from New Zealand cinema to date. Centring around the lives of a group of vampires that happen to live in the New Zealand town of Wellington, the film takes on a mocumentary style, making use of cliches to tell a ridiculous and absurdly heart-warming tale of friendship. It also, as expected, makes use of a lot of cliches.

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From the Twilight series and The Vampire Diaries tv show, to old classics such as Dracula and Nosferatu, the media has always been littered with vampires. In fact, the mere mention of vampires among horror writing communities will usually result in eye rolls. What We Do In The Shadows, even though a modern day vampire film itself, has become a critical and commercial success over the years. Why? It all comes down to Waititi’s incredibly smart use of cliches.
Waititi’s film is far from original, but it uses this unoriginality to create a level of comedy that has rarely been done before: it uses known and predictable plot points to create unknown situations. Waititi uses cliche vampire situations – such as drinking blood, turning into bats, romance between humans and vampires and wars between vampires and werewolves – to explore what it would really be like to live as one of these Wellington vampires. From bloody dishes to a romance between an undying vampire and a ninety-year-old woman, everything in this film is ridiculous and if it weren’t for the use of these cliche situations, What We Do In The Shadows wouldn’t be anywhere near as hilarious as it is.

 

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So, yeah, cliches aren’t always necessarily a bad thing. When done right, they can be just as interesting, if not even better, than some of the original cliche material. All they need is a little twist!

 

craft

Knitted Basket-Weave Afghan Pattern

Ok, let me start off by saying this took me about a month to make. So, yeah, if you’re a haphazard knitter, maybe this isn’t the best pattern for you. If you’re a dedicated and persistant knitter, then this pattern is the one for you, my friend!
Not only is the stitch absolutely gorgeous, but the overall afghan, when all done and dusted, looks nothing short of fantastic. Trust me, you won’t regret making this one!

Oh, also, check out my Etsy Shop CodyLCrafts at: https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/CodyLCrafts?ref=l2-shop-header-avatar  where I have this exact afghan up for sale for those of you who… you know… don’t have the patience to knit an entire blanket.

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Materials:
– 4.5 mm knitting needles.
– Wool needle (for sewing in ends)
– A pair of scissors
– 10x 100g balls of 8ply 4 Seasons of pure wool entwine.
– 2 balls of grey (A)
– 2 balls dark blue (B)
– 2 balls light/aqua blue (C)
– 2 balls light purple (D)
– 2 balls dark purple (E)

Pattern:
– Cast on 219 stitches with colour a (grey)
– ROW 1 – Pearl to the end of the row.
– **ROW 2 – Knit 4 stitches, *Pearl 3 stitches, Knit 5 stitches* repeat from * to * until last 7 stitches, pearl 3 stitches and knit 4.
– ROW 3 – Pearl 4 stitches, *Knit 3 stitches, Pearl 5 stitches* repeat from * to * until last 7 stitches, knit 3 stitches and pearl 4.
– ROW 4 – Repeat row 2 until end.
– ROW 5 – Knit all stitches to the end. **
– ROW 6 ONWARDS – repeat from ** to ** to reach the desired length. When first ball of A has almost run out, complete the row you are currently doing, leaving a tail for sewing in, and begin the next row with the new ball of A, also leaving a tail of this ball for sewing in. Attach new colours in this same way, so that blocks of colour are formed.
– LAST ROW – After completing a ROW 4 pattern stitch to end, begin ROW 5 and cast off on this row.
– TO FINISH – Sew in tails with wool needle and trim so they are no longer visible. Congratulations! You have now finished your basket-weave knitted afghan! I’d love to see your final creations, so send them through on the ‘contact me’ page!