Sunday, June 28, 2009

Depressing week is depressing

Wow. So many famous people have died during this month. David Carradine, Michael Jackson, and now Billy Mays! What a downer. Well, no one lives forever and it won't do us any good to feel bad about things out of our control. So here are some funny pics to help lighten our moods.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Review of Stephen King's "Morality"

I'm a big Stephen King fan, so when I heard he had a new short story out in the July issue of Esquire magazine I went out and bought a copy so I could read his latest work. The cover's pretty damn sexy, too. There are people out there who say Mr. King is a hack (although the exact definition of who can be considered a literary "hack" is up to debate), but as far as I'm concerned the man knows how to write a compelling story and Morality is no exception.

is about a young couple, Chad and Nora, living in New York who both lose their jobs due to the recession. They try to make ends meet by taking on new jobs. Chad becomes a substitute teacher and writes a book while Nora goes into nursing. One day one of Nora's patients, a retired Reverend George Winston, offers her a chance to earn $200,000 by doing something special for him before he dies. But that's where the story takes a dark turn. There are no monsters, ghouls, vampires, or anything supernatural. This is about real life monsters, a dark tale about how far desperate people would go for money. The ending isn't all ponies and sunshine, either.

In this story Mr. King built suspense nicely by revealing the plot little by little, dragging the reader into the story with believable characters and creating a situation that is both creepy and thought-provoking. The content is not as brutally horrific as his other works. It's more subtle, which may disappoint some readers who are expecting something weird or bloody, but that's what I like about it; I think it's good when an author changes their approach to storytelling and still grab the reader's attention like it did with me.

So hats off to Stephen King for writing yet another excellent short story.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kung Fu Mom and Italian Baby Tossing

My brothers and I enrolled into a Beginning Italian class at our local community college yesterday. Today some of our classmates shared with us some stories of their experiences and adventures in Italy.
One guy in particular had a whopper of a story to share.

When this guy was thirteen years old, he and his mother were vacationing in Rome when she wanted to find a shop that sold special trinkets she needed to buy. However, after some time of wandering the streets, they became lost and found themselves in a seedy part of town. Graffiti covered the walls, trash littered the streets, and shady characters were hanging out in alleys around them. It was definitely not a place they would advertise in the tour books. Finally, the mother gave up on finding this shop and they started to walk back the way they came. Her son then noticed that some shifty looking guys were watching them from across the street they were walking down. Suddenly, one of these men ran at them, pulled a knife, grabbed the mom by her wrist, and tried to cut her wristwatch off. Although her son was paralyzed with horror, his mom wasn't your typical damsel in distress.
She punched the mugger in the face, knocking him down on his ass.
Fortunately, the man then ran away with his buddy and the trouble was over. Two elderly men had been watching from a distance, and they applauded the mother and shouted, "bravo! bravo!"

But there's more.
After the attempted mugging, the boy and his mom, who was still flustered from the adrenaline rush, boarded a train to get back to their hotel. But when they got to their seats, a man with a huge nose was sitting there. The mom politely said in Italian, "excuse me, sir, but these are our seats. Could you please move?" The man did not budge. She asked again, but the man still did not move. The mom did not have any more patience. She kicked the man in his shin. He grunted and finally moved over, but then he propped up his feet in the vacated seats. The mom kicked him again, even harder. He removed his legs and they sat. He didn't bother them again for the remainder of the trip.

After this guy told his story, a woman stood and warned us to be careful in the big cities because sometimes pickpockets will be so desperate to snatch your money that they will throw babies at you. The strategy is this: one person poses as a vendor and will try to sell you something as his or her partner stands nearby with a baby in their arms. Once you agree to buy something and pull out your money, their partner will run over and hurl the baby at you. Most people don't want to see a baby crack open all over pavement and will reach out to catch it while the money is still in their hands. Once your arms are full of baby, the thief will grab the money from you and run for it.
If the lady was making this up, then it was an impressive stretch of her imagination. But then again, truth can be stranger than fiction.

Italy is a beautiful country with a rich culture, to be sure, but after hearing stories like this I'm not all that excited to travel abroad anytime soon.

Friday, June 19, 2009

One Fine Day at the Theater (part 1: Rock and Roll Grandma)

I thought it would be fun to post some of my more interesting experiences from my old work before they fade from my mind. So here goes...

From May of '08 to May of this year I had worked at a small theater in Pleasant Hill, California. If you drive down I-80 through Pleasant Hill towards the Carquinez Bridge, you might see a dome-shaped structure to your right nestled between a gym and a bar. That is it. It is a theater that only plays independent, foreign, or artistic films, but once in a while some mainstream films can sneak in (I worked there for the midnight showing of the Dark Knight, which was amazing). Last year a friend of mine worked there and I told him that I was looking for a job. He said that the Dome was hiring and he would put in a good word for me. So I filled out an application, was interviewed, and, batta-boom batta-bing, I was hired. It was a long, strange trip where I met many interesting people and seen many interesting things. I don't regret working there because it was good experience for a first job, but it still left a funny taste in my mouth. Like anchovies and peanut butter.

After some time of working there, they trusted me around money (which I do not wish to work around again for a long time) and put me at the snack bar registers and box office more often than sweeping popcorn or tearing tickets. A few months back I was in the box office, sitting and waiting for something to happen. You see, the way this particular theater worked was that there would be a time frame when movies got in, followed by 2-3 hours of little to no activity. If you worked in the box office, your job was to sell tickets, answer the phone, and sit there and look pretty. It was an easy job, but there was not much else to do in those hours when no movies were playing (those 9 hour shifts were real killers). The box office was located outside, separated from the rest of the theater. Sure, there was a door that led to the office, but there wasn't always anybody in there, manager or otherwise (which resulted in many frustrating moments). As you can imagine, it also got horribly lonely as well as boring in there. However, there was a time when a most interesting fellow approached the box office during a slow part of the day.

He had a wild, scraggly gray beard, his clothes were plain but looked as if he hadn't taken them off in days, he wore a baseball cap with the United States Air Force logo emblazoned on the front, and he had this nasty looking growth on the right side of his face. He approached the box office, laid a dollar bill on the counter, and started to tell me a story. At first I was receptive because I thought he was trying to tell me a joke, but when no punch line came I started to worry. This "story" was about a homeless Mexican trying to pass off a dollar bill as a one-hundred dollar bill to some guy...but then he lost me as he started to ramble on and on and on about nothing. Listening to this crazy guy was amusing for a while. At some points he said some funny things such as: "yeah, rock and roll grandma!" or "that's how we rock and roll, man." At one point he even took out a lighter and flared it up and laughed for whatever reason. All the while I just nodded to everything he said like some stupid bobble head and said, "mm-hm." At one point he stopped to look at me as if he had asked a question that he wanted an answer to. I merely nodded and said, "mm-hm." The guy laughed so hard that some spittle flew out of his mouth and onto the protective glass between us and said, "this kid's sharp!"
But after listening to him for five minutes, I started to think: What should I do if he stays here for too long? What if he gets violent? What if customers want to buy tickets? What will this guy do? Should I call the police? So he kept on talking. And talking. And talking. I started to look around to see if anyone was watching. But, of course, I did not see any of my co-workers or managers around, so I was stuck with this guy without any backup. His ramblings became more disturbing as he started to say things like, "I hope you guys throw everything you got at me, because I got this chemical inside me that'll keep me alive, man." He then asked if he could get a free ticket to see a movie. I said, "sorry, I can't." Then he asked for money. I gave the same answer to his first question. Then he asked if he could just step inside for a minute, assuring me that the place would soon be packed with customers as if his presence would attract good business. I was worried that he would get agitated, but instead of waiting for an answer to that last question he just talked for another five minutes before finally walking away.

When it was all over, I felt glad that he was gone but also kind of bummed to have met such a person. Maybe he was on drugs or maybe he had a mental disorder. Either way, it was a weird experience, but it did help pass the time.
I guess a little madness in your day is better than nothing at all.


My brothers and I don't get out much, but when we do it's usually for something awesome. Take Spam-A-Lot, for instance. We've been Monty Python fans for a long time and watching this play was like a dream come true (and if you don't know anything about those crazy Brits then look 'em up or you will be forced to cut down the mightiest tree in the woods with a herring, so sayeth the Lord). How can you not love a musical with such catchy tunes as "Fisch Schlapping Song," "I Am Not Dead Yet," or "You Won't Succeed on Broadway?" One of my favorite lines from that last song: "You can have a grand piano, but they will not give a damn-o, if you don't have any Jews." I laughed so hard through this play that my jaws hurt for hours.

Getting in and out of San Francisco was a pain in the ass, though. It's a fine city, but I think anyone who actually likes living there needs their brain examined and be severly medicated. I was also surprised to not see many people our age. The audience consisted mostly of middle aged people to the elderly with some kids under sixteen. So what if we weren't even born when the Holy Grail was made? That doesn't mean we still can't enjoy it! We even wore our Monty Python shirts and underwear! Come on, people! Get yourselves cultured! Anyways, if you ever get the chance to see this play then I highly urge you do. Fight through Mordor to buy those tickets if you have to. I assure you that you won't be dissapointed.

By the way, that guy standing next to Mike is my younger brother, Alan, who likes to blow his trumpet for a living. Why am I related to such freaks?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Older Brother's Graduation

This freak of nature here is my older brother, Mike, who had graduated on the 14th as a Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of East Bay, formerly known as Hayward. He wants to draw pretty pictures for a living and maybe make comics. If he asks nice enough, I might even write the scripts for said comics. Congrats, bro.

Hello, Internet. Shall we play a game?

Great. Now I've done it. Now I'm officially a part of the internet age. I am now a (o black horror!) a blogger. I have to tell you, I am still nervous with the idea of keeping an online journal/diary that anyone can read, but what the hey. It's something different and it could result in some interesting and memorable moments. Who knows, I might actually enjoy it.

Now for some introductions. My name is David R. Matteri. How do you do, internet? What's that? What will I blog about? Good question. I don't know, but it will probably be mostly about horror, fantasy, sci fi, video games, movies, music, pop culture, or anything else that catches my interest and wish to post on my blog. Two topics I will try to avoid like the black death are politics and religion. If you wish to pursue such topics there are plenty of other blogs to read out there. Otherwise, I welcome you all, fellow denizens of the internet to read and comment on the babblings of a twenty year old kid living in Benicia, California.

Shall we play a game?