Monday, October 28, 2019

The Making of a Monstrous Middle Child

A Special Halloween Report

"You don't have to look very hard to find proof
that Middle Children do some scary things."
     Any parent of a Middle Child will tell you, we can be real terrors. Little monsters. There’s even been research that seems to back that up.  There’s no doubt our behavior can be frightening, and you don't have to look very hard to find proof that Middle Children do some scary things. So in celebration of Halloween, I thought it would be fitting to feature a real-life Middle Child monster -- well, a real-life movie Middle Child monster. A creature so horrifying, just the mere mention of his name sends chills down the spine: Michael Myers.
NOT a Middle Child.
     No, not that Mike Myers. The other one, with the creepy mask. The primary antagonist, serial killer, and all-around psychopathic dude in the Halloween film series.
     Now, I’m no fan of slasher flicks. In fact, I’ve never actually seen any of the Halloween movies -- with my eyes open. Just writing about this is giving me the willies. And if I’m being totally honest, the reason I haven’t posted in a few weeks is because it took me so much longer than usual to write this post as I was looking over my shoulder the entire time! But I’ll be brave and press on.
Serious Middle Child issues.
     On Halloween night in 1963, six year old Michael Audrey Myers watched as his older sister, Judith, was making out with her boyfriend prior to going up to her room to have sex. This apparently bothered Michael, so after the boyfriend left he crept upstairs and repeatedly stabbed Judith to death. In hindsight, maybe his parents should’ve given him a better middle name than Audrey. Anyway, young Michael was sent to an asylum where he was to be held until his 21st birthday, when he would be tried as an adult. But that would never happen. Fifteen years later, on October 30, 1978 -- the day before he was to be transferred to court for his hearing -- Michael escaped. Before leaving, he carved the word “sister” on his door -- a special message for his younger sibling, Cynthia, who was adopted by the Strode family and renamed Laurie after both of her parents were killed in a car accident in 1965.
Where Jamie Lee Curtis
earned her scream creds.
     And so began a killing spree that has fueled a film franchise ranked first in U.S. box office, when adjusting for inflation, compared to other horror film series. Truly killer box office. Since his first appearance in the original Halloween in 1978, the murderous Middle Child has killed a total of 121 people in the 10 versions of the movie he appears in, as catalogued by ScreenRant.
     While many Middle Children would kill for the kind of attention Michael has received, Michael actually has. Empire Magazine named him “one of the most iconic killer characters in cinema history,” TimeOut Magazine lists him as one of “The 50 Best Movie Villains of All Time,” and Paste Magazine puts three different installments of the Halloween series on their list of “50 Best Slasher Movies of All Time,” with the original version topping their list. Yet he doesn’t make the cut, pun intended, on AFI’s “100 Years...100 Heroes & Villians” or USA Today’s “The 50 Most Popular Movie Villains of All Time.” Typical Middle Child treatment.
     Of course, Michael Myers is no typical Middle Child, and he's surely not one you'd ever want to piss off. I really hope I haven't already.

If you want to find out more about all things Michael Myers, check out this great article by Shea Serrano at The Ringer. (I know he’s just a movie maniac, but just in case, there are even some tips on how you might possibly survive an encounter with Michael.)

Monday, October 7, 2019

Check This Out

     I am that guy. The one you don’t want to ever get in line behind at the supermarket. Not that you’d have many opportunities. I don’t go to the supermarket that often. I don’t like supermarkets. Actually, I hate them. It all stems from my childhood. My mother didn’t have a driver’s license, so when she had to go to the market, we all had to go to the market. Of course, this provided more opportunities for Middle Child Syndrome to kick in. With two parents and three kids, one of us would invariably have to get bumped from a cherished shopping cart seat, so I would opt to wait in the car to avoid the inevitable disappointment. (Don’t worry, they left the window open a crack.)
Whatever. It left a bad taste in my mouth, so now I try to avoid supermarkets at all costs whenever possible.
     But on the off chance that you happen to be in a supermarket on the rare occasion that I am also there, do not, I repeat DO NOT get on line behind me. I always pick the wrong line. And I don’t mean one-person-behind-you-in-another-line-got-taken-before-you wrong. I’m talking entire-other-lines-are-no-longer-there wrong. I’m-sorry-but-the-keyboard-on-my-register-has-melted-and-shut-down wrong. Yeah, it’s that bad. If I see someone behind me deciding which lane to choose, I will warn them. “Do not get in line behind me!” They will thank me later.
     In any case, as a result of me spending so little time in supermarkets, I’m not very good at it. I have no idea how much things should cost, and I have no idea where things are. So, those few times I’m asked to go, I always come home with the wrong stuff, or forget items altogether, and I have to go back. Which makes me hate supermarkets even more. It’s a vicious cycle.
     I’m also always so surprised, and disturbed, at the way people behave in supermarkets -- especially at the check-out lines. I can’t believe how cut-throat things get, how people jockey for position and are ready to pounce when a new register opens. How they’ll sprint ahead of someone who was clearly in front of them when the cashier opens a new lane and calls out “Next in line.” Where is the honor? You weren’t next and you know it! You just cut in front of a vision-impaired Senior Citizen with a walker! It’s a dog eat dog world up there, I tell you. Every man for himself. I’m way too sensitive for this.
     So I was clearly not at all prepared for what happened when I was at Aldi the other day picking up a single boneless chicken breast family pack which I had forgotten to purchase on my visit to the very same market earlier in the day. I was standing on a line, obviously the wrong line, behind three other people with huge orders. As a courtesy I had already tried to wave off anyone attempting to get behind me, when the strangest thing happened. The lady in front of me asked if I’d like to go ahead of her! I was shocked. This kind of thing never happens to me. I accepted her gracious offer, but was completely unprepared for what was about to happen: the next lady in front of me also asked if I would like to jump the line!! Of course I was thrilled. Thrilled, yet suspicious. Was this some kind of gag? Was I being pranked on one of those TV shows?? Naturally, I was convinced I would somehow pay the price for my good fortune. I’ll get run over in the parking lot while walking to my car, I figured. Or just as I was about to be rung up, a massive power failure would shut down every cash register on the eastern seaboard. Something had to go wrong. This was too good to be true. And then, it happened.
     While ringing up the one person left in front of me, the cashier dropped a banana! It was SO obvious what would happen next. The one person left in line in front of me would slip on it, land flat on his back and require medical assistance. EMS would turn the checkout area into
emergency triage and local police would yellow tape the area, questioning the cashier about her role in this potential assault with an unlicensed fruit. I’d be stranded at the register for hours, or maybe even brought in for questioning as a key witness. Or even worse: I’d have to move to another register -- at the back of the line!!
     As luck would have it, none of that happened. I breezed out of the market, even escaping injury in the parking lot. But I’m pretty sure I shot my wad when it comes to having any future luck at a supermarket checkout.