Halloween Movies perfect for Kids!

Halloween also called All Hallow’s Eve and Samhain, this Autumn festival historically marks the end of harvest season and the beginning of Wintertime. Celtic and Gaelic traditions saw huge bonfires lit, as well as celebrations to mark the occasion. This is where the practice of dressing up comes from, since costumes were supposed to keep the cold, dark, evil spirits at bay by confusing them. It was the last festivity before the onset of the coldest months.

Today, we’re fortunate enough to live in a time where electricity, air-conditioners, heaters, and a marked jump in health institutions are enough to keep most of the cold chilly darkness under control. Nonetheless, we still celebrate Halloween. Apart from the usual parties, costume competitions, pumpkin fairs and trick-or-treating, many also take the opportunity to watch some good old horror movies to get into the mood.

Here are a number of some old favourite movies which I always make a point to watch during this time. These are not films of the slasher-horror type, but rather those which I associate with childhood, and which always leave me feeling of good cheer. Definitely ‘must-sees’ for all those with children and for those who can’t handle scary flicks!

The Tim Burton QuartetThe Nightmare before Christmas(1993), Corpse Bride (2005), Beetlejuice (1988) and Edward Scissorhands (1990). Tim Burton’s work is just perfect to watch cuddled on the sofa while a heavy rain lashes against the windowpanes. These dark fantasy movies are all, somehow or other, centred around Halloween. The first two mentioned are animated, full of catchy tunes and delightful characters. In fact, the ghouls, ghosts, skeletons and monsters aren’t scary at all. Although all of these movies are targeted at children, they also have dark sinister meanings which only adults will be able to appreciate, and which have nothing to do with Halloween and everything to do with the society we live in; a society which can be cruel and intolerant, and end up pressuring people into doing what is acceptable instead of being happy with their own individuality.

Hocus Pocus (1993) – I must admit, the Sanderson sisters have always been my favorite media witches. Especially Bettie Middler, who’s somehow perfect in her rendition of an angry yet funny medieval witch, who after being burnt at the stake, comes back to the present to take her revenge. Unfortunately, she and her sisters are totally unprepared for today’s world, not to mention today’s children, who are much pluckier and smarter than the ones she was used to.

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The Addams Family (1991) – The stories of this eccentric, affectionate clan who don’t care what others might think about them have always been close to my heart, and the 1991 rendition with Angelica Houston as Morticia, Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester and Christina Ricci as Wednesday is just perfect in complementing Halloween. The Addams seem to live in a perennial Halloween all year round. Their neighbors think them strange, and society tries to shun them. And yet, they love and care for each other, especially when it matters the most.

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To read the rest of the article, which was published on EVE magazine follow the direct link:- http://www.eve.com.mt/2016/10/26/halloween-movies-for-the-faint-hearted/

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Oxford University – The Real Hogwarts!

Balliol College

Have you ever found yourself in a particular place and suddenly felt completely at home? I couldn’t identify this pervading feeling at first, but when I visited the University of Oxford in Oxfordshire, England, a couple of years ago, for some strange reason it felt amazingly familiar. I had never been there before and yet, that indecipherable feeling of connection could not be shaken off.

The architecturally gothic buildings and the streets thronged with bustling students, the jovial camaraderie and the many fairy-like gardens and little shops sporting old tomes and coloured school uniforms… I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Until I started visiting specific places of interest that is, and then all the pieces of the puzzle magically made sense.

Oxford is Hogwarts. It is Diagon Alley. It is Lyra’s parallel Oxford from Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials Trilogy’. It is Terry Pratchett’s ‘Unseen University’ on Discworld, J.R.R. Tolkien’s playing field, C.S Lewis’ inspiration, and Lewis Carroll’s domain. Traces of Wonderland and Narnia permeate the streets. Oxford – the place where so many literary titans met, conversed, evolved, were influenced, and created their master works.

We left our car in a small parking area outside the city proper and took a bus which left us on Magdalen Street, where the first thing we saw was Balliol College. This is the oldest of the 38 constituent colleges which make up the University of Oxford.

When one speaks of this University, one must keep in mind that the different colleges or communities in which students live and study all present different outlooks and approaches to learning, having their own various idiosyncrasies, sports teams, coloured uniforms, patron saints, facilities, and academic prospectus. And yet they all make up one University – 38 different parts of one great whole, as well as a number of academic departments divided into four divisions. Is this starting to sound a little bit familiar?

Balliol College, founded in the late 13th century, had long existed as a medieval hall of residence for students. There is, in fact, evidence that teaching took place here as far back as 1096AD, making Oxford the oldest university in the English-speaking world.

Moving on towards the iconic Bodleian Library, I passed outside the enchanting Sheldonian Theatre, built in the 17th century. Its eight-sided cupola is truly a sight to behold. However, I had no time to enjoy any of the music concerts or lectures taking place within.

As we walked away from the theatre, I chanced to look up and for a moment, thought I had been suddenly transported to Venice. This is because I was passing under Hertford Bridge, also known as ‘the Bridge of Sighs’, which joins the two sides of Hertford College. Although popular for supposedly being a replica of the eponymous Venetian Bridge, it actually looks more like the Rialto Bridge of the same city.

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My target, however, was the second largest library in Britain – the Bodleian Library, which is famous for containing each and every book published within the UK. Over 11 million volumes housed on 120 miles of shelving to be precise. Are you impressed yet? I was all agog even before going inside. When I stepped over the threshold, I was flabbergasted – it was Hogwarts! Literally.

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The Bodleian Library was used as part of the set through-out four of the Harry Potter movies, not just as a library, but as the infirmary, as well as serving as the Hall where Professor McGonnagal teaches the students to dance in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

No trip to Oxford is complete without a visit to Christ Church College

Duke Humphrey’s Library, which is the name of the oldest reading room within the Bodleian, was used for the scene where Harry Potter enters the Restricted library under his invisibility cloak with a lamp to steal a book in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

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Here, one can also find a section of mysteriously chained books, which are known to have inspired Terry Pratchett’s depiction of the magical library within his ‘Unseen University’ of wizards. And what about the magnificently vaulting ceiling within the interior of the Divinity School, a medieval building which is attached to the library itself? Definitely not to be missed.

Just a side-note… the official head of Oxford University is called the chancellor, while the vice-chancellor is the one who organises central administration and the in-house professors are generally called ‘Masters’. Readers of Terry Pratchett should find themselves familiar with this state of affairs. The coat-of-arms of Oxford University, an open book with a crown underneath it and two above it, funnily looks a lot like the coat of arms of the Unseen University too.

Christ Church College

Moving on down Catte Street, I soon visited other well-known Oxford Colleges, such as All Souls, Queens, as well as Magdalen College, where C.S Lewis, author of the famous Narnia books, was a tutor, and Exeter College, where I could admire the bust of one of its most famous past students, J. R. R. Tolkien.

On the other hand, unfortunately I did not have the time to visit the cloisters found at New College, which were used as the backdrop for certain scenes of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Needing a break and something to eat after all this walking and awe-inspiring sightseeing, I paused at the Oxford Covered Market, centred in the middle of the city. This historic market goes back to the 18th century. It offers a plethora of fresh food stands, artisans’ products, traditional stalls, greengrocers, bakeries and handcrafted knick knacks. Truly a landmark in its own right.

After some well-merited refreshments, we walked on down Wheatsheaf Yard towards Christchurch Cathedral, which serves as both the College Chapel and Mother Church for the Diocese of Oxford. The gothic long-spired building, with its colourful stained glass windows, vaulted cloisters and intricately carved ceiling, is truly one of a kind.

A short walk south of the cathedral brought us finally to Christ Church College, which, for me personally, was the climax of my trip to Oxford University. I definitely know which college I’d wish to attend if I could be an alumna of Oxford University! ‘Welcome to Hogwarts’… so says Prof McGonagall as Harry is about to enter his school for the first time. And those same steps we see on screen are the same steps which actually lead up the dining hall at Christ Church College.

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The Meadow Building, built in the Venetian Gothic style popular during the Victorian period, dominates our view as soon as we enter this college. The courtyard also gives one a view of Bodley Tower, whose picturesque stone staircase was portrayed magnificently throughout various Harry Potter movies. Up the magical staircase we go to the dining hall at Christ Church College. The first thing we see on our immediate right as we enter the hall is a portrait of Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, famed author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The large stained glass windows around the hall and above the fireplace sport a myriad of Alice in Wonderland figures – from Alice herself to the white rabbit, and even the mock turtle. It was while Dodgson was rowing on a small boat near Magdalen College with the Dean’s three daughters, of which one was called Alice Liddell that he first started improvising the tale we all love and know so well.

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Christ Church Dining Hall was the inspiration for the Hall in Hogwarts, with its wood-panelled walls, its long long tables and its tiny lamps. The movie was not actually filmed in it, but a perfect replica of the place was reproduced within studio.

The many portraits lining the dining hall in Christ Church also played an important part in J. K Rowling’s novels. The table at the far end, known as ‘the High Table’ and used by senior members of the college, was also perfectly replicated as the table where Professors at Hogwarts dine and make speeches.

No trip to Oxford is complete without a visit to Christ Church College, just as no tourist worth his salt could drive off without spotting the small store known as The Alice in Wonderland Shop. Located just in front of Christ Church College, this colourful Wonderland emporium stands on the historic spot pre-viously filled by Alice Liddell’s favourite candy shop.

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The shop is full of Alice in Wonderland merchandise – different decks of cards depicting characters from the story, tiny china tea-sets, replica pocket watches, figurines, tea cosies, books and much more. If, like me, you’re an Alice aficionado, prepare your cheque book!

This article of mine was published on The Sunday Times of Malta on 23.10.2016 – http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20161023/travel/Oxford-University-the-real-Hogwarts.628830

Monday Morning (What do you think of the GRANNY PORN industry?)

I sigh and prod my face into a mask, trying not to slump. The last session has not gone well. The gynaecologist said that unless I stopped with my current lifestyle, not only would the continual discharge and incontinence continue, but the flow would increase too. I don’t really understand what he said the problem is; a ‘prolapsed cervix due to a weakness in the pelvic muscles’. Pelvic muscles – now THAT I can understand.

Mulishly, I gaze at the veggie-shop beside me. I’m so fed up of eating fruit and vegetables to ‘flush out my system’ as Dr Weiss says. What a load of nonsense. Better have surgery, like Didi, and be done with it. A little nip and tuck is all it takes. Change my way of life? As if.

It’s not that I like my job really, I tell myself, as I cross the street. I don’t. All those sweaty struggling faces trying so hard to look consciously earnest. The newbies are the worse, thinking it’s all real and then unable to do the job with all the lights and coffee-swigging mumblers on the side-lines looking on. Just another day for me – a traumatic experience for them. I guess I’m too jaded at this point. And that, too, comes with the job, as my mother used to say.

The bus stops and I get on, swiping my card and taking a look at the driver. I wonder if he recognises me, though obviously, he will not, exactly, remember where. Slowly, I shuffle along, trying to sit down gingerly, carefully, before the bus re-starts. It hurts to sit down. Not where you would expect though. My back and legs hurt, creaking with too much use. At least I never had the presumption to have any children. That would have ended my career for sure. Don’t know how they manage it – some people. Well, not all, just look at Cheeky Cherry – not even able to look her son in the face anymore. Should have known it would come to that at some point.

Arrived. I stumble past an old guy with sunglasses and a greasy baggy woolen vest thrown over frumpy trousers. Blearily he stares at me and looks away. Probably more of an interracial underage aficionado. No loss there. I round the corner, and enter the studio, a dim shabby building squashed between a hippy record store and a run-down block of apartments. Bathroom, then make-up and a look at the rack of underwear prepared for today.

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I glance at the three pimply teenagers waiting around hopefully, then spying me, with widening eyes, grabbing at the pill provided to strengthen their resolve, stiffen their spines, and everything else. No alcohol though. That would defeat the purpose. I wave a hello at Doris, the washed-out fluffer, as zombie-like, she coughs her usual mucus-riddled cackle, and sashay along towards the toilets, mockingly ogling the thin terrified wannabes. Bad, bad Nancy. Wasn’t nicknamed ‘Naughty Nancy’ for nothing.

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© Darkly Dreaming Moonsong

This short story was sent to Keith Kreates as part of his weekly challenge – https://wordpress.com/read/post/feed/36207183/831896472

Women = You are a Blatant Disappointment!

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150226/local/fifty-shades-of-grey-breaking-local-records.557723

Really? Are most Maltese women as misguided and bereft of any kind of intimacy as all that? This novel/movie is wrong on so many levels that I really don’t know where to start. Let me at least try to scratch the surface:

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1. The writing is CRAP. As a book-lover and writer with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Masters in English Contemporary Literature, I can say this with professional and experienced detachment – it is TURDS ON TOAST, and that’s that.

2. It was originally written as a fan-fic of Twilight… which says it all. Love Twilight? Love soft-porn? Here you got a mixture of the two!

3. It’s not even real BDSM!! And believe me, I know what I’m saying! The novel is about a girl who doesn’t know her cunt from her ass, meeting a ‘pshycologically hurt’, not to mention inept, guy, who thinks he wants to play Master, while all he wants is a girlfriend without the title.

4. It wrongly promotes the idea that people who find BDSM kinky and titillating, like it because they are emotionally disturbed in some way. That they get excited by whips and leather because there is some big dark secret pointing towards neglect or violence in their childhood or youth = WRONG

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What does the fact that it is such a big success say about Maltese women and women in general??

1. These women know NOTHING about BDSM.

2. They know nothing about REAL RELATIONSHIPS, or the ups and downs one really encounters when trying to build something permanent with a partner.

3. They are starved for sex.

4. They haven’t got past the ‘I’m a 14-year old gushy gushy oh-so-innocent version of femininity just waiting to be plucked’ stage.

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5. They know nothing about literature, realistic plot-lines, characterization and they know NOTHING of the human psyche!

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Don’t like my summary? Bite me!

And yes I have obviously read the the book… tried to must be more like it. The cheesiness, and plain stupidity in every page made me want the vomit. Point being – I don’t write about or criticize something I know nothing about, which is why I made the effort. I wasted hours of my life and numbed my brain for THIS.

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Fortunately for the ‘author’ (for want of a better word) many people don’t need to numb their brains to accept and ‘love’ this story, since their consciousness seems to be naturally numb already.