Cinema Wasteland Look-Ahead

In just 30 hours, we sold our home of 10 years and bought a new house. I’m excited, overwhelmed, and running on fumes. And I can’t wait to step away from it all for a couple days and escape to Cinema Wasteland.
The line-up of movies is excellent, and with not 1 but 2 “Night of the Living Dead” guest panels, there is sure to be a lot to discover about this foundational film. Also, it’s been a while since I watched “Death Dream,” a fantastic film that deserves more attention than it gets.
Here’s a preview of our itinerary (I’ll be in the company of my partner in life and crime, of course).  Catch me if you can!
Saturday, April 8:
1:30 p.m. – Guest panel with 4 out of 10 of the original investors who financed “Night of the Living Dead” in movie room 1.

3 p.m. Shorts: “Teacher’s Pet” and “Bedtime Worries,” a couple of Our Gang/Little Rascals episodes in movie room 1.

4 p.m. Guest panel with the attending cast of “Night of the Living Dead” in movie room 1. 

5:30 p.m. Movie: Boris Karloff in “Corridors Of Blood” on 16 mm film in movie room 1.

7 p.m.Eat, drink, shop!

10:30 p.m. Movie: “The Last Man on Earth” with Vincent Price on 16 mm film in movie room 1.

12 a.m. – Wasteland Intermission Reel in movie room 1.

12:30 a.m. Movie: “Death Dream” in movie room 2.

Sunday, April 9:
Noon Movie: Made-for-TV slasher film “Deadly Lessons” on 16 mm film in movie room 1.

1:30 p.m. Movie: “Night of the Living Dead” on 16 mm film in movie room 1.
I’ll be live tweeting from @andrearogers using #cinemawasteland. Have your own itinerary to share? I’d love to see how you’re spending your Wasteland weekend.

Love true crime? Check out “Accused” during #TryPod Month

Drowning in an endless sea of podcasts? Join the club. I’ve found that it’s absolutely essential to use your network of friends and coworkers to help curate all the content that’s available in today’s media-rich world.

And when it comes to newsy, true crime podcasts, my tried and true resource is my news junkie friend at work, Holly. She’s the one who told me to listen to “Serial,” which sparked the same interest in podcasts for me as it did for millions of others. Then, she recommended “Stranglers,” which is also excellent.

Most recently, Holly told me about “Accused,” and that’s the podcast I want to share with you this week.

#TryPod: “Accused: The Unsolved Murder of Elizabeth Andes

Lauded as the “Serial” of 2016, “Accused” is a project of “The Cincinnati Enquirer,” and is created by journalists Amber Hunt and Amanda Rossmann. Like Sarah Koenig of “Serial,” Hunt and Rossmann approach the case professionally, but not entirely objectively. They have opinions, and often share them with listeners, while striving to be open, honest and fair to all parties involved.

With 191,000 cold cases on the record books in America, what makes this case interesting? Like any good story, it’s about the people. Elizabeth Andes had just graduated college in 1978 when she was brutally murdered. She was smart, loved and about to embark on a future that surely would have held great promise.

Her football-playing boyfriend, Bob Young, was immediately accused and later tried (twice, actually) and acquitted for the murder. The podcast asks, “If not Bob, then who?” and listeners are along for the ride.

Suspects range from acquaintances to serial killers operating in Ohio at that time. One of the best episodes focuses on the suspects who were strangers to Andes — delving into the prevalence of serial murder during the ’70s and the possible causes for the high levels of violent crime during that decade. This is a fascinating topic, and one that could be expanded into a podcast in its own right.

In addition to offering a great story, Hunt and Rossmann’s work on “Accused” poses some interesting questions about journalistic ethics and criminal justice. By investigating an unsolved murder, they walk the line between private detectives and reporters. Sometimes it’s not safe or easy — there are some genuine moments of tension with potential suspects and law enforcement officers who still insist that Young got away with murder.

You’ll walk away from “Accused” with theories about the case but no definite answers, which might feel anti-climactic to some, but for this curious listener, it’s all about the new questions that arise along the way.

Have a true crime recommendation of your own for #TryPod month? Share it here!

Discover a great new listen during #TryPod month: This week try Awesome Etiquette

A little over a year ago, I moved into a brand spankin’ new workspace – modern and open. It’s a great space for collaboration, creativity and efficiency, but sometimes even an extrovert like me needs a break from the newsroom-style space with 20 or so vivacious creatives.

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Here I am at work listening to a podcast.

In this open space, my headphones are a refuge and a way to retreat when I want to do some quiet, focus work.

When I’m not listening to music, I am listening to podcasts – I have a strong, deeply held desire to learn, and podcasts are a feast for the learner’s soul. In honor of #TryPod month, I’ll be sharing my top recommendations at least once a week in March.

Awesome Etiquette

“Awesome Etiquette” is produced weekly by Dan Post Senning and Lizzie Post, great-great grandchildren of the grand dame of etiquette, Emily Post. They tackle everything from the traditional (“Should a lady always cross her legs at the ankles?”) to the contemporary (“How do I pull off a vegan wedding when my mom wants a carving station?”).

Listeners can submit questions and etiquette dilemmas, and Dan and Lizzie always take the time to do a deep dive on at least 1 burning issue. Every episode ends with an etiquette salute.

Dan and Lizzie are charming – but what makes this podcast so great is that it is based on heartfelt consideration, respect and building close, personal relationships that enrich our lives. Far from being a stuffy notion, etiquette is demystified into bite-size chunks of information that make our lives more comfy, less awkward and more authentic.

Have a recommendation for me? I’m always adding to my listening list, so feel free to suggest your favorites!

The agony and anxiety of parenting decisions: To redshirt or not?

its-also-about-supporting-her-because-no-matter-what-we-are-in-her-cornerIn my day-to-day interactions with colleagues, I feel confident. I don’t know everything, but I do know a thing or 2 about communications and I have assurance in my ability to make decisions and manage projects to completion.
So why is it that I often agonize over decisions about parenting? I second guess myself all the time, and internally (and externally) analyze the pros and cons of every big decision.

This is exactly what happened after a recent email from my daughter’s preschool. The topic? Kindergarten readiness.

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Let me be clear, I’m not the type of mom who will blindly disagree with every bit of feedback about my children. And my 5-year-old daughter does, at times, behave “young” for her age. If I’m being introspective, a lot of that is probably my fault – I consciously wanted her to relish the carefree days before she started school. I’ve maybe done too much for her at times.

So I knew when this email came that it would not be positive feedback about my daughter’s kindergarten readiness. That was confirmed by a brief and frank conversation with the center director who listed a few issues, mostly around temper tantrums and transitions. Also, my girl has never been a fan of circle time, and sitting still for that specific activity has not been her strong suit. There is no disagreement that academically, she is ready for school in the fall. With a birthday in December, she’s old enough too.
16178608_10210166897721686_3764109366547061810_oSo we set a meeting coming up to discuss these issues. I agonized over this meeting for a solid 8 days.

I endlessly discussed it with my partner in life and crime, Dave. After almost 10 years of marriage, he is well versed in my anxieties and sensitivities. He also knows that I have to get it out of my system – if I don’t get it out by talking, it usually comes out anyway, in the worst ways (night terrors, which I still suffer from in adulthood, often pop up during these stressful moments).

I sought advice from other moms, a friend who is a kindergarten teacher and my best girlfriends who don’t have kids. I pored over countless Internet articles about “redshirting” and its benefits and drawbacks. Everyone (and the reputable Internet sources) had good advice. The general consensus? It will work out. And the fact that I’m so worried about it now (when kindergarten is not until next fall) is probably a good thing.

For the most part, the research says that kids who are a bit behind (either in maturity, academic ability, or both) catch up to their peers by 1st grade. And my teacher friend assured me that catching up in terms of maturity is often easier than catching up academically.

So why agonize over this decision? Why write this post? That’s a complicated question to answer, but if I’m being really honest, it hurts me to think that my child is not 100% “up to snuff.” I have always loved that she is a “square peg,” but I know that being extraordinary can sometimes make life challenging. I don’t want her to struggle, or to feel “less than.”

My decision? Redshirting is off the table. I can understand and respect others who choose differently for their child, but I have decided that holding her back will not help her progress. I don’t like the idea of her being a 19 ½ year old senior in high school. I believe she will benefit from being surrounded by peers close to her own age.
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This blog post is the final stage in my around the clock internal debate. I’m ready to let this one go, and I’m going into the meeting in a good place. I appreciate the feedback and any strategies the teachers might offer.

Dave and I know we will have to do our part to help her mature and do more things for herself between now and late August.

Coat zipping is our current project. Have you ever watched a kid try (but not really try) to zip a coat for 5 minutes when you need to be at work promptly at 8 a.m.? Let me tell you, that’s an exercise in letting go.

It’s also about supporting her, because no matter what, we are in her corner. And that means that when she gives her best effort, we eventually do zip that coat and tell her to try harder next time because we know she can, and will, do it.

4 Shows to Watch on Netflix Right Now

By Andrea Rogers It’s cold and snowy (in some parts of the Midwest, at least), and I have come down with an awful cold. So Hygge Week on The Smart Domestic couldn’t have come at a better time, because I’ve become an expert on what to binge-watch from your soft couch, with the the comfort…

via Netflix and Hygge: What to watch this winter — The Smart Domestic

HYGGE LISTENING: CURL UP, PLUG IN, AND PAY ATTENTION TO THESE PODCASTS

By Andrea Rogers Hygge is all about taking pleasure in the small things and being present, so it might not immediately bring to mind your smartphone and earbuds. But thanks to a boom in podcasting over the last couple years and a trend toward higher production values, better writing, and professional voice acting, I’m just…

via Hygge listening: Curl up, plug in, and pay attention to these podcasts — The Smart Domestic

Buy #beautifulbooks: “Witches and Witchcraft”

So much content, so little time. And so little storage space.

This is a recurring theme in my life — everywhere I look, I’m surrounded by a bounty of great content — podcasts, streaming services, cable TV, Spotify music, vinyl records and CDs, digital and print magazines, blogs, movies, comics, e-books, tree books and more.

I can’t own a physical copy of everything. There simply isn’t enough space in my 3-bedroom, ranch-style home. So where do I draw the line when it comes to books?

A few years back, I decided that I would only purchase “beautiful books.” Of course, this is a subjective term. To me, it means that I only buy physical copies of books that have beautiful images, typography and artwork. In other words, books that cannot be fully appreciated in a digital format.

Today’s #beautifulbook is “Witches and Witchcraft.”

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When I was a kid growing up in the small town of Barberton, Ohio, I lived at the local public library. On those dusty shelves, I discovered so many books, including Time-Life’s “Mysteries of the Unknown” series.

I had not thought of these books in years, but they re-entered my orbit last week when I listened to an episode of “My Favorite Murder” in which the ladies described the books (gifted to them by the mysterious sound-man, Steven).

A wave of nostalgia hit me during their discussion. There are 33 books in the series and they have black hardcovers with ornate cover art. The cover of “Witches and Witchcraft” has a sword-wielding witch worthy of a doom metal album, and for me it will always be the most memorable.

The first part of the book focuses on the history and persecution of witches. There is beautiful typography throughout (like this little goat on the letter V), and silver spot color on the pages.

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The silver spot color is especially lovely on the images of woodcuts.

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The writing is clear and concise, which makes this a fun book to pick up for a short sitting or to leave on your coffee table for guests.

There’s also a cool section on the witch’s garden, which intrigued me as a child. I used to imagine that I could gather the plants and perhaps work some magic of my own.

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The last part of the book focuses on modern witchcraft — new age practitioners, wiccans and other heathens. Again, the images are great.

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If you’re looking for a #beautifulbook to add to your collection, I highly recommend the series. They are all available on Amazon and don’t cost too much.

Hail Zombo: A recap of Theatre Bizarre

From the moment you walk into The Masonic for Theatre Bizarre, you feel like you stepped into another world — a dreamlike, dark fantasy.

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There are sideshow performers everywhere — sword swallowers, suspension performers, fire breathers, dancers, contortionists and more — set in the vast, lavishly decorated Masonic complex in Detroit. The performers interact with you on an almost intimate level — touching your shoulder, whispering in your ear, beckoning you to come closer.

There are 8 floors and about 10 venues within The Masonic, and there’s no way you can see everything at Theatre Bizarre as shows run continuously in every venue. All of the performances are expertly staged and seamless, which is amazing considering the scale of the event.

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Photo Credit: Amy Hronek

Our merry band of revelers (pictured above, left to right: my partner in life and crime, me, and our BFFs Dave and Amy) started the night with a visit to The Dirty Devils Peepshow burlesque revue. Early in the night, the crowds were small, and we were front and center for the show.img_0810

The burlesque performers are a highlight for me — I love the old Hollywood glamour of burlesque.

We stayed for 3 shows — all the ladies were fierce, but Tana the Tattooed Lady stole the show. Tana was mesmerizing, beautiful, exotic, alluring (basically everything you want in a burlesque show).

The Ballroom on the lowest level is the main stage and features bands and dancers all night. The Theatre Bizarre brass band also comes through, and that’s something you don’t want to miss. This is also the best place to “people watch” — the costumes at Theatre Bizarre are incredible and never disappoint.

Although I really wanted to see Mat Fraser (star of American Horror Story Freak Show), The Odditorium where he was performing was jam-packed mid-way through the night, so we moved on.

img_0817Food and drinks are plentiful, which is fortunate, because this event is an all-nighter. There’s even an Ice Screams & Sweet Dreams ice cream parlor, where you can get a free, handmade cup of liquor-infused sorbet or ice cream, served by some creepy-cute soda jerks. I went with the blood orange sorbet, which was quite refreshing.

We had the privilege of watching a full set from Cult of the Psychic Fetus, a gothic rockabilly band from Cleveland. The sound in the smaller ballroom, The Asylum, where they played was great, and there were even seats around the perimeter, which was a huge bonus for my tired feet (I don’t often wear high heels, so I was one tired flapper by night’s end).

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Photo credit: Amy Hronek

We wandered down to a smaller stage called The Beezlepub and my ears immediately perked up when I heard a cover of “Henry Lee,” by Nick Cave and PJ Harvey (on the perfect album “Murder Ballads”). Up next in the set was a quirky version of “Who Was in My Room Last Night” by Butthole Surfers. If I was intrigued before, I was all in at this point. The band, Brunswick Brawlers, played a great set of country-rockabilly covers and originals.

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Weary from a a long night on our feet, our motley band of best buds settled into seats in The Sinema and watched a couple silent shorts, as well as some clips from “The Devil’s Rain.” I found myself nodding off a couple times, which meant it was time to wind down for the evening. My pumpkin turns into a carriage not too long after the stroke of midnight.

As I looked at my Instagram story the next day, I was struck by all the happenings from the previous evening. Theatre Bizarre is grand in scale — and the memories are like a dream — singular moments, strange sights and sensuous characters that leave a strong impression.

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Cinema Wasteland recap: Hitchcock and Psychos

I kicked off the month of October in true form — with my hometown horror convention, Cinema Wasteland. I can’t say it enough, but this really is my favorite convention — the guests, films, event lineup and vendors are perfectly suited to my taste, budget and Midwestern sensibility (I like friendly and easygoing people).

With my time limited by budget and family constraints, I only had Saturday afternoon to do the Wasteland, but I made the most of it.

I had the chance to watch 2 flicks I’ve never seen — “Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Final Performance” and “Psychos in Love.” Both were accompanied by guest Q & A sessions.

“Final Performance” was a pleasant surprise — I haven’t seen any of the episodes of this ’60s Hitchcock series, but if there are more like this, then count me in. It was by Robert Bloch, who also wrote “Psycho” and there are plenty of similarities — creepy innkeeper in an isolated outpost, anyone?

The story goes like this. A TV writer on his way to Hollywood gets stopped by a woman running through the countryside. He picks her up and agrees to let her ride along, only to be stopped for speeding a short while later by the town sheriff. The girl spins a yarn about being kidnapped, and the sheriff tells the writer to come into town. Only his car won’t start, so he gets a tow and is stuck there in town, at a suspicious motel owned by an older gentleman. The tension is high as he realizes not all is as it seems, and there’s a fantastic twist ending.

Following “Final Performance,” actress Sharon Farrell (pictured middle, with interviewers Art Ettinger of Ultra Violent magazine (far left) and Ken, the Cinema Wasteland showrunner) did a Q & A session with the audience. She wrote a book about her time in Hollywood and was candid about her relationships with some leading men from the era, including Steve McQueen and Bruce Lee.

The discussion was intimate and personal, and Farrell broke down in tears when she discussed some of her recent struggles. Moments like this are where Cinema Wasteland really shines — it’s not a cookie-cutter experience. It’s real and personal, and sometimes a bit messy.

After a fun dinner and drinks with friends, we sat down for a Q & A discussion with the star and writer of “Psychos in Love, “Carmine Capobianco (pictured left, with Ettinger). Capobianco was right at home at Cinema Wasteland — he was funny and personable, and shared some hilarious stories.

“Psychos in Love” played immediately afterward. It’s a bloody, low-budget, laugh-out-loud horror comedy. For this murderino, it was a perfect way to wrap the night.

Wasteland memories: H.G. Lewis

I had the pleasure of meeting H. G. Lewis in 2010.

H.G. Lewis died today.

I remember meeting the legendary “Godfather of Gore” in 2010 at Cinema Wasteland. I watched his newest flick “The Uh-Oh Show” and he did a Q&A with the audience. He was warm and funny, and he exuded a love of film-making.

Afterward, we stopped by his table and talked about his movies, and his work outside of the gore business — he also had a career in marketing, and even wrote a textbook on the subject.

What strikes me about this experience, upon hearing of his passing, is that it’s in no way unique for a Cinema Wasteland show. A small, intimate gathering,  Wasteland has a family-feel (not to be mistaken with family-friendly). It hosts a treasure-trove of the best, most unique guests representing the good old days of horror — when drive-ins were plentiful, 42nd Street was grindhouse and practical effects were the only effects.

No long lines and reasonable autograph fees allow fans to meet and make memories with guests like H.G. Lewis.

As we prepare for another Wasteland weekend, I’m looking forward to meeting the cast of “The Evil Dead” (for the second time, actually), as well as Sharon Farrell and Carmine Capobianco. We can only attend on Saturday (parenting duty calls), but here’s a preview of our schedule.

Want to see live tweets from the show? Follow me @andrearogers on Twitter.

3 p.m. Guest event: The cast and crew discus 35 years of “The Evil Dead” after the movie screening.

4:15 p.m. Classic TV on film: “Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Final Performance,” with guest Sharon Farrell.

5:30 p.m. Guest event: Sharon Farrell meets with fans to discuss her long career in film and television.

7:30 p.m. Guest event: Carmine Capobianco shares stories from his fun films released in the video days of the 1980s.

8:45pmMovie: “Psychos in Love,” Carmine Capobianco’s most well known and loved film.