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Now in our tenth calendar year!
PCR #501 (Vol. 10, No. 44). This edition is for the week of October 26--November 1, 2009.

"Michael Jackson's This Is It"  by Mike Smith
The Cramps: 30 Years Of Rockin' Terror 1979-2009  by Terence Nuzum
Halloween Horror Nights 2009  by ED Tucker
Trick-or-Treating in 2009  by Lisa Scherer
Japan: Land of the Rising Spirits  by Jason Fetters
After 2 Series, Freeman Starts .... Favre Returns To Lambeau .... Gay Culverhouse Talks To Congress .... Florida Tuskers Can Take ’em .... .... .... .... f  by Chris Munger
A Capitol Trip .... Get Well Soon .... Movie Notes .... Halloween Movie Notes .... Jolson's Coming? .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2  by Mike Smith
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FANGRRL by Lisa Scherer Ciurro

Trick-or-Treating in 2009

Forget that “life is like a box of chocolates” stuff. Life is like going trick-or-treating on Halloween. You’re dressed up in your prettiest princess costume, nervously holding out your trick-or-treat bag, waiting to see if Life’s gonna give you yummy chocolate, crappy candy corn, or an apple full of razor blades.

Entertainment is also like going trick-or-treating. Sure, you might follow the neighborhood kids’ recommendations about which houses have the best loot (or you read your book club’s selection or heed your favorite film critic’s advice), but each time you knock on a door (or buy a DVD or read a book or go see a movie), you’re taking a chance. The only way to find out if a book/movie/TV show is a trick or a treat is to try it.

Opinions are like Halloween costumes, of course: everyone’s got one and some are really tacky. With that disclaimer out of the way, here are some of my personal tricks and treats from 2009:

TREAT The movie Passengers. I had a chance to see this sleepy thriller flick at the Sunscreen Film Festival, where it was followed by a Q&A with Patrick Wilson, one of the stars of the movie. So that was really fun, of course, but the movie itself was a nice surprise. A psychological thriller about the survivors of a horrific airplane crash, Passengers is slow moving and slightly confusing until BAM! an awesome plot twist hits you over the head and makes everything fall into place.

TREAT Empty Rooms, Lonely Countries by Christian A. Dumais. Dumais has a secret identity, you see. He’s CFB message board poster Puff Chrissy by day, and the author of poignant, witty, funny short stories by night. I’m only halfway through this short story collection – so technically, I must admit, there is the possibility of a horrific tricksy twist that will put this book on next year's trick list – but so far this book has been one of the best literary treats of my year.

TRICK The Unborn. I can’t believe I paid full price to see this abomination in the theater back in January. I can’t believe I just publicly admitted that I paid to see this damn movie. From what I remember, the plot has something to do with an angry evil spirit who’s pissed about not being born and takes that anger out on would-have-been family members. The exorcism was Jewish instead of Catholic, which was a new twist, but the rest of the film’s twists were old and predictable. I want my money back.

TREAT Whip It. Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut film, I mean, not the Devo song. A traditional teenager-coming-of-age story turned on its head through great casting (Ellen Page, Juliette Lewis and lots more), a fresh, fun roller derby storyline, and a kick-ass soundtrack, Whip It is absolutely delightful.

TRICK Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell. I’ve followed the Dr. Kay Scarpetta mystery/thriller series for years now, ever since Cornwell’s amazing debut novel Postmortem, but wow, has this series ever jumped the shark. The characters are silly instead of scintillating; the story is boring instead of breathtaking. Is Cornwell being held prisoner somewhere by her number-one fan Kathy Bates, being forced to continue this series that should have stopped about two books ago? That’s the only excuse Cornwell has for continuing to beat the dead horses of these characters.

TREAT Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. A fictional biography about Frank Lloyd Wright and his mistress sounds boring as hell, but for once my book club was right. Loving Frank is a beautiful love story, an architectural guidebook, a history lesson, a sociological experiment, and an engaging character study all rolled into one book.

TREAT The Big Bang Theory. If you’re not watching this hilarious CBS show about four science nerds and their hot chick neighbor, you’re missing out on some great stuff. Great stuff like the “rock paper scissors lizard Spock” game, wherein “...rock crushes lizard, paper disproves Spock...”, Comic Book Wednesdays, and Klingon Boggle.

This list is a little light on the trick side, isn’t it? That’s odd, since as we all know from reading the PCR articles on the subject that everything sucks these days. I guess maybe I’ve gone out of my way to concentrate on the treats this year or something. Speaking of which, writing this article is cutting into my TV time, so I’m outta here.

Happy trick-or-treating.

"FANGRRL" is ©2009 by Lisa Scherer.   All graphics, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.