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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I ain't afraid of no ghosts

I spent last Halloween sandwiched on the couch with my two best friends Sass and Kate. I'd planned a spooky celebration complete with candy, food and scary movies. The deal was each of us had to pick a scary flick the others hadn't seen before. When I heard neither of the girls had seen "The Exorcist," I knew it was going to be my movie of choice. But I had no idea my friends were such scaredy cats -- they were freaked out just by the music in the opening credits. By the movie's end, Kate's fingernails were permanently dug into my arm.

So there we sat. The three of us smashed together on a love seat. Kate insisted on sitting in the middle for safety purposes. You know, in case Linda Blair suddenly walked in the back door. Sass kept looking behind her to make sure nothing was there. All in all it was the perfect way to spend Halloween.

Moviefone released their picks for the 31 best horror movies:

31. The Ring
30. Hellraiser
29. Nosferatu
28. The Descent
27. The Omen
26. The Fly (Cronenberg)
25. Wicker Man (the original)
24. Carnival of Souls
23. The Eye
22. Scream
21. Friday the 13th
20. Dracula (1931)
19. Evil Dead 2
18. Carrie
17. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
16. Night of the Living Dead (original)
15. The Blair Witch Project
14. Bride of Frankenstein
13. A Nightmare on Elm Street
12. Rosemary's Baby
11. Frailty
10. 28 Days Later
9. The Haunting (1963)
8. Dawn of the Dead (original)
7. The Thing
6. The Sixth Sense
5. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (original)
4. The Shining
3. Psycho (original)
2. The Exorcist
1. Halloween (original)

I wasn't so pleased with "Halloween" getting the No. 1 spot, but the three runner ups are definite favorites.

So what movie keeps you from sleeping at night?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fans pull out my hair for Black Crowes

There's a big difference in being a reporter and a photographer. Reporters mingle in and out of the crowd. We talk to people and it's all very low key. Photographers, on the other hand, have to get front and center to get the shots they need.

Saturday night, I got a glimpse of life as a photojournalist at the Black Crowes concert. I was given photo clearance to shoot the band's first three songs and about five minutes before the concert I was allowed in front of the barricade.

As you can imagine, the crowd was enthusiastic about the show starting. Unfortunately, I was standing alone in front of the rowdy group.

They yelled at me. Fine, I've got no problem with that. Some people threw stuff. Whatever, no one hit me. And then someone pulled my hair. Honestly, it sent chills up my spine. I'm sure our photographers have to put up with some crazy stuff, but I'd like to see someone get away with pulling Jim Hudelson's hair!

Here are a some shots from the concert.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The tricks and treats of fall

When Baxter and I stepped outside this morning for his usual walk through the neighborhood, I was happy to feel the cold air blowing around me. I was a little upset I'd left my sweatshirt on the chair upstairs so needless to say our walk was brief.

For about two weeks, I'm excited about the arrival of cooler weather. It's nice when the seats in my car no longer burn my legs and stick to my skin.

But in just a few months, my attitude will fly south for the winter. The new season will sink in and I'll complain about my joint aches, how the seats in my car are always freezing cold and how difficult it is to get a fire started.

But I'm not griping yet. I woke up this morning, took in the cool breeze, enjoyed the lack of frizz in my hair and put on my first long-sleeved shirt of the season. Heck, I wasn't even irritated by the little hanger humps on each sleeve.

There's a lot to do this time of the year. Haunted houses, hayrides, corn mazes, trick-or-treating, bon fires, etc. On Sunday, my family took a trip to the corn maze. You can read more about that and other events in Friday's Preview.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dirtfoot revolution

Exactly what is grumble boogie and how do you describe the sound to new ears? I haven't quite figured out how to sum up local band Dirtfoot, but they tell me, "Just call it grumble boogie." Perhaps the best way to describe grumble boogie is to give you an idea of the power it has over people.

At any local Dirtfoot concert, the area around the stage is surrounded by uninhibited adults. Earlier that day these people may have been bankers, realtors, city officials. But when Dirtfoot takes the stage and fans get a hold of cans filled with dried beans and held together by duct tape, the professional crowd looks more like kindergartners during music class.

Shreveport loves grumble boogie, but Dirtfoot is hoping to broaden its audience -- and they need your help. The band is a top 10 finalist in the Artist Revolution/Voodoo Music Experience Play Voodoo Contest. Visitors can go on the Artist Revolution Web site, cast a vote each day and the winning band earns a Saturday spot at Voodoo in New Orleans.

To vote, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the voting link. Photos of the 10 finalists will appear, click on Dirtfoot and then on the little red check mark and your vote will be cast.

The last day for voting is Thursday, so be sure to visit the site and support this Shreveport band.

Here's where you get started:

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rated T for Terrifying

When this time of year rolls around, there is nothing I look forward to more than a good haunted house. Unfortunately, in recent years Shreveport's been a little slow to offer this sort of entertainment. Small town Calhoun has pulled in thousands each weekend with their over-the-top scare tactics, but not Shreveport -- until now.

Dark's Horror can be found south on Mansfield Road. The haunted house is filled with the quality scares you'd hope for. The haunted house officially opens its doors today and will frighten until Nov. 3.

The house will take people on a tour through some of the most horrifying scenes captured by Hollywood. Expect to be scared by scenes from "Alien," "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "Scream," "Dracula" and more.

Check out for hours and admission, and read Friday's Preview for more details on the house.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A flat attitude

"Stuff happens. It is your response that counts."

I was eating sushi with my friends a few months ago when I got this token of advice in my fortune cookie. Even though it isn't really a fortune, I held on to the cookie-wrapped words of wisdom because I knew they would serve as a good reminder to me one day.

For many of us, it isn't easy to be optimistic when difficult times arise, and I'm no different. I explained to a friend that my life is very much like a game of Jenga. I live by a day planner, and I'm overly organized so when one piece is pulled out it feels like everything could come tumbling down.

I left my house for work Monday morning and just a few miles down the road my tire was completely flat. After getting my spare tire put on, I was two hours behind schedule and in a pretty foul mood. At that moment, it was hard to think about how fortunate I was that my day started off this way. I'd driven back from Baton Rouge late Sunday night and if my tire had gone flat any sooner I would have been stranded in the dark on the side of I-49.

I went to get my tire the next morning and the report wasn't good -- the tire was not fixable. Immediately, I was frustrated about having to buy a new tire since I'd gotten a new set less than a year ago. But left with no choice, I went to the tire store and braced myself for the unexpected expense. The guy helping me wanted to try to repair the tire before he replaced it, so I agreed to let him give it a shot. Less than an hour later, my tire was patched free of charge and I was happy to keep my $150.

Sometimes it's hard to look at the sunny side of life. In fact, it's human nature to react negatively. But after two days of tire woes, I realized all my worry and frustration got me nowhere. Life isn't always going to come up roses, but you still have a choice in how you respond. Plus, isn't it a lot more fun to live life believing things are going to work out?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Music to my ears

Mother Nature has favored Revel 32. Every day has been beautiful. Although it's a little warmer than usual, the heat beats the rain any day. In recent years, I can't remember revelers enjoying such sunny skies. Financially, it's a sunny situation for the festival too. A soggy day can be a major setback.

Tonight the entertainment will continue at 8:30 p.m. at the Eldorado RiverView Stage with Losing Anna. The band is no longer together, however they occasionally resurface for special performances.

The weekend promise amazing performances too. Blues legend Humbert Sumlin will play with the Bluebirds and Miki Honeycutt at 9:30 p.m. Friday at the Chase Stage. Local band Dirtfoot will go on at 7:30 p.m. at the Eldorado RiverView Stage and will be followed by New Orleans favorite Cowboy Mouth at 9:30 p.m.

Revelers will be treated to a funk-filled performance by George Clinton at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Eldorado RiverView Stage. Industry newcomer Carter's Chord will perform at 9:30 p.m. on the Chase Stage. The group is new to Toby Keith's record label and their album is due out at the first of next year. While their sound falls under the country music genre, the sisters season their sound with a dash of the blues and a helping of three-part harmony.

However, if you've had your fill of festival food and fare, Orlando-based Band Marino will perform at 9 p.m. tonight at Jackrabbit Lounge. The band is big among hometown fans and stopped at Sully's Tavern in Shreveport a few months ago.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

My first go at video storytelling

In the past year, The Times has proven we're no longer your grandmother's newspaper. Our industry is becoming more Web driven and in doing so we've added photo galleries, constant online updates and video presentations.

When I signed on to be a journalist I thought that meant I was going to be a writer. I never pictured myself picking up a video camera and editing footage for a newspaper. While writing is my first love, this week I've started dabbling in a new form of storytelling.

The Revel has been an ideal place to learn the how tos of making a good video. The past two days, fellow reporter and experienced videographer Alexandyr Kent has taken me under his wing to teach me how it's done.

The first day, we did a video on some of the best dishes offered at the Revel. I stopped by seven booths for lunch and feasted on muffaletta pizza, a gyro, a deep-fried jambalaya wrap, blackened catfish, a turkey leg, bread pudding and a smoothie. I wasn't feeling so hot when all was said and done, but the video turned out to be pretty entertaining.

Alex and I returned to the Revel last night to tape the Port City Big Band's performance. The crowd couldn't sit still for long. Pretty soon people started to spring from the seats to show off their dance moves for the crowd.

All in all it was a fun experience, and you guys can expect more to come.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A long weekend to celebrate

How relaxing. A long weekend at the beach with my girls. In five days we managed to drive nearly 18 hours, eat massive amounts of seafood, get tans and sunburns, read every gossip magazine printed this month and dance until our stilettos gave in.

I returned yesterday from a long weekend in Destin, Fla., with some of my best gals. We drove to the beach to celebrate our friend Carie Cotter's upcoming wedding to Travis Hart. It was the perfect way to celebrate and came at the perfect time -- Friday was also Carie's birthday.

Here are a few pictures from the weekend. As for Carie, Melissa, Bevin, Kate, Casey, Amanda, Kaysie, Jenna and Kristen: you guys make life worth living.

TOP: The bachelorette party lined up our chairs along the water's edge to take in some sun while staying cool. The chairs had each of our names on them and were given to us by the bride's mom.

CENTER: That's me with Carie on the balcony of our condo just before we sang "Happy Birthday" and headed out for dinner.

BOTTOM: The group poses for a picture following dinner at ACME Oyster House. Pictured clockwise from top left: Stephanie, Kristen, Kate, Kaysie, Melissa, Bevin, Jenna, Carie, Amanda and Casey.