Fear captured at haunted house
October 31st, 2012
11:32 AM ET

Chasing the ultimate 'BOO!'

Editor's note: Aaron Sagers is a New York-based entertainment writer and nationally syndicated pop-culture columnist. He has specialty knowledge in "paranormal pop culture," has lectured at conventions nationwide on the topic and is a media pundit on supernatural entertainment. He covers pop culture daily at ParanormalPopCulture.com and can be found on Twitter @aaronsagers.

You're fumbling around in the dark, and unless you have the twisted pleasure of taking the lead, you may be gripping onto the person in front of you as the group makes its way from one room of horror-made-real into another. It is a haunted house attraction, or haunt, and you can feel it in your bones - just around the next corner, someone is going to jump out and squeeze a scream right out of you.

And your scream might just be the highlight of that person's night.

Welcome to the world of the haunt nerd, whose obsession is crafting the best scare he can as an actor or effects artist through homemade and professional haunted houses. Halloween is his Christmas, a season where screams are the gift that keep on giving.

There are a lot of screams to give, according to Hauntworld.com an unofficial haunted attraction industry website. The site estimates there are more than 1,400 for-profit attractions and amusement parks charging admission in America, 3,000 charity attractions and 10,000 "home haunters." Moreover, a recent study by horror site and cable network FEARnet reported that nearly 50 percent of Americans would decorate their home or yard for Halloween and that about 23 percent of people would be visiting haunted houses this season.

These facts add up to a lot of interest in scares by the public, which is no surprise. But who are the people behind the terror? Who are the haunt nerds? FULL POST

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Filed under: Fandom
B Minor
October 26th, 2012
09:58 AM ET

Be the pun: Delight in your cleverness this Halloween

Puns make a lot of people groan. But not me, I love them.

And when I dress up for Halloween at the office, I pun it up.

Halloween is a day which makes adopting a different character or persona completely socially acceptable. With that kind of freedom, wouldn't you want to be someone or something devilishly clever, at the very least?

That's my plan.

On October 31, as I cross Centennial Park Boulevard in Atlanta, Georgia, and head into the CNN headquarters, I'll have the same excited grin on my face as I always have on Halloween. I'll be exceedingly pleased and proud of the punny costume I dreamed up and put together - this year I'll go as Hell-o Kitty - and I'll barely hold back my enthusiasm when people ask what I am.

Simultaneously, I'll temper my squee with the understanding of what lies ahead: The inevitable "huh?" and "I don't get it."

One year I was particularly happy with how I'd executed the pun of a small Orange Julius. I created a Roman soldier's tunic and lappets and wore a laurel wreath crown, all in shades of orange. And I'm short, so I loved that effectively I was a mini-sized Julius Caesar. The perfect rendition of a small Orange Julius! But the majority of my coworkers guessed I was Pocahontas.

Last year I went as pumpkin pi. I created a poofy orange dress and wore a green fez (which functioned as a stem) that were covered in mathematical equations which solved pi. I even put a joke one on there: ∏≠rGet it? Pie are round, not square. Once again, I stumped the journalists of CNN.com. I didn't think it was that subtle.

Even my simplest costume - a witch hat, lab coat and prescription pad - left a few coworkers scratching their head. And how obvious is that one? FULL POST

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Clark Kent quits newspaper job in latest Superman comic
Clark Kent turns in his press pass in the latest issue of the Superman comic book series.
October 25th, 2012
10:25 AM ET

Clark Kent quits newspaper job in latest Superman comic

Add Superman to the list of reporters leaving the newspaper business behind.

In the comic book series' latest issue, which went on sale Wednesday, an outraged Clark Kent quits his job at The Daily Planet after his boss berates him.

"I was taught to believe you could use words to change the course of rivers - that even the darkest secrets would fall under the harsh light of the sun," the superhero's alter ego says in a newsroom outburst. "But facts have been replaced by opinions. Information has been replaced by entertainment. Reporters have become stenographers. I can't be the only one who's sick of what passes for the news today."

In Wednesday's issue, Kent tells his editor he's been a journalist for barely five years.

But for decades, his job as a reporter at The Daily Planet has been a mainstay of Superman's story.

Word of the superhero's career move drew attention from media critics and others who've watched the newspaper industry's struggles.

"It seems very overly dramatic," said Erica Smith, a former newspaper employee who's tracked U.S. newspaper industry layoffs and buyouts on her Paper Cuts blog since 2007. "It doesn't seem to me to fit either the industry or the character."

FULL STORY

When fans go too far
Xiah Junsu (left) and Hero Jaejoong (right) are members of the K-Pop band JYJ, which has a saesang following.
October 19th, 2012
07:14 AM ET

When fans go too far

As an overly passionate, silly geek, when I like something, I don't just "like" it. I tend to get excited in a very specific way, going into full fan mode fairly quickly (see this drawing for a visual explanation).

Once I get rolling, I become a constant broadcaster, excitedly telling my friends about my newest obsession, while I wave my hands around in the air for emphasis.

This excitement is called "fangirling" (or fanboying, as the case may be), and it's fairly common behavior when it comes to the nerd world. In fact, it even extends beyond nerds: Stamp collectors, vintage record experts, and doll fanatics have their moments, too. We all light up when we get a chance to talk about the thing we love. When we share our enthusiasm, we welcome another person into our inner circle.

Sometimes, though, in the midst of marathoning yet another Asian drama with impossibly good-looking leading men, I'll catch myself wondering: Is my fandom escapism? And can it go too far?

All pleasures can lead to escapism, but where do they cross over into obsession? Are you obsessive if you spend each year crafting yet another insanely detailed Final Fantasy costume to wear to Dragon Con, or are you merely nurturing your creative pursuits? Is an encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek history a good thing, or does the need to keep it up-to-date eventually edge out the necessities of life? FULL POST

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A peek into the Japanese franchise industry
"Persona 4 Arena" is a fighting game from Atlus that features many characters from the popular franchise.
October 9th, 2012
11:57 AM ET

A peek into the Japanese franchise industry

While titles like "Street Fighter" and "Mortal Kombat" may ring a bell if you ever spent any time in arcades as a kid, you may not have heard of "Persona." So why is Japan going totally nuts over it, with American otakus quickly following suit?

This August, "Persona 4 Arena," debuted on the U.S. market. The game features popular characters from a Japanese franchise of role-playing games that was founded by gaming company Atlus in 1996. Since its Japanese release on March 1st, the game has sold more than 128,000 units for PlayStation 3, making it the fasting selling fighting game of all time.

Persona's tremendous success as a franchise can be chalked up to a mix of well-defined characters and marketing savvy that the Japanese know how to execute with finesse.

If there's one thing most gamers excel at, it's devotion. Ever since I discovered the first "Final Fantasy," I have stood dutifully at the door of the local game store at the midnight launch, waiting to get my copy.

I fell stone cold in love with "Persona 3" first and worked backwards: The modern fantasy settings, great dialogue and character development have me hooked like a helpless fish.

The latest installment, "Persona 4 Arena," is a perfect example of the power of the Japanese franchise. By appealing to a hardcore Japanese fan base - and the American fans that carefully follow the same trends –and creating a game that features already beloved characters, Atlus is swinging for a home run. Square-Enix did the same in 2008 with "Dissidia Final Fantasy," which featured characters from every major Final Fantasy game and gave fans a chance to fight against one another. The game nailed a spot as the best selling PSP game of 2009 as a result.

However, the way franchises work in Japan is a bit different from the way they work in America. This is a key element to the reason games like "Persona 4 Arena" and "Theatrhythm Final Fantasy" have performed so well. FULL POST

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