Thursday, March 31, 2011

April Fools' Day

Today marks the first day of April; and traditionally, 1st of April is known as April Fools' Day.

April Fools' Day is internationally observed as a day of jokes, humor and pranks played on people. However, it is not a public holiday though; just a day dedicated to fun and tricks.

It may be a question as to how April 1st is the only day celebrated for jokes and not any other months in the year; but there is a long story behind the origins of April Fools' Day.

I have done a bit of research and reading on the history of how it all started and there were different opinions/findings on the whole theory of the beginning of the day itself.

1. The earliest citation was found in the Nun's Priest's Tales in Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer), which was written in the 12th century (1392).
There was a line which caused a disambiguation; and contemporary scholars believed it to be a copying error in the manuscript which misled readers to believe 'Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two' was actually 'Syn March was gon'.

The disambiguation lies in the belief that the author; Geoffrey Chaucer actually referred to 32 days after March and not on the 32nd of March as originally appeared in the text.

Please refer to Wikipedia for more explanation.

2. The early civilians used to celebrate and usher in the New Year between the mid of March until early April; or usually on the first day of April as it was the period which coincided with the occurrence of the vernal equinox.
March 25, or also known as the Feast of Annunciation was celebrated by the Romans or the Europeans during the medieval times too.

The emergence of the new Gregorian calendar (enforced by Pope Gregory XII in 1582) as the replacement of the old Julian calendar commemmorates January 1st as the commencing of a brand new year.

January marks the beginning the year in the Julian Calendar; and the first day in this first month naturally became New Year's Day in that context.

This event thus shifted the celebration of New Year's Day from March/April to the 1st of January and the shift, caused a confusion among the folks who chose to observe the new New Year's Day and those who are still following the old New Year.

Those observing January 1st then buffed and made fun of the conservatives; thus giving birth to April Fools' Day on April 1st.

3. Joseph Boskin, a history professor at the Boston University provided his own theory/perceptions on the origins of this celebration; associating it with the court jesters who made a proposal to the emperor during the reign of Constantine period.
They proposed to be able to rule the country better than the ruler; and Constantine, agreed to allow the jester, Kugel to rule the country for a day.

The day was since then observed as a day of insanity/absurdity; an edict by the same jester and there is no doubt that it was the first of April.

The April Fools' Day is widely celebrated mostly in the Western countries, and there is no wonder, looking back at the history and theories of its origin.
However, the popularity of the pranks, humor and jokes played on this particular day had quickly spread to the rest of the world and almost everyone is celebrating this day by playing pranks and tricks on people around them.

There are also countries which only allow jokes to be circulated or pranks played until noon and anyone still fooling others after noon are branded as the April Fool. These countries are UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa and perhaps they just want to spare their citizens from being fooled for another half of the day? :)
The rest of the world, however, observes the whole of April 1st to play pranks on anyone.

It is also interesting to note that there are bigger jokes played in some of the countries; which included the mass media reporting fascinating news (which were untrue) but enough to cause a stir among the public.
For instance, the Tower of Pisa had collapsed! (yup, it's an April Fools' Joke played on the public by the Dutch television - that can be so convincing huh!)

Perhaps it is a fortunate thing that my country do not scare the public like that too :)

In case you are wondering, this is a real post on April Fools' Day and I am not joking about the resources I have found on the origins of this day.

Hope you have fun today, and HAPPY APRIL FOOLS' DAY!~

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Horror Movies to scare the Freaking Daylights Out of You

Well, in my previous post, I mentioned about losing my interest in horror movies and why I would try to avoid the genre as much as possible to maintain good health (for my heart, soul and mind!)

I have watched and read a number of movies and stories on this genre though, and some of them were international best sellers and rated top horror movies of all time (all-time classics).

If you are a big horror movie fan, I could recommend a few (I'd not watch them again if I could help it though) to scare the hell out of you (at least it did to me!).
I have been requested to share movies that I feel are a good scare for a watch (these are fans or enthusiasts!)

Warning: Some of these could leave a lifetime memory in you (that's why they are classics)

The list is based on movies I have watched, and I would rank them in order with a little bit of description on why I think they could be so freaking SCARY!

1. The Exorcist
I've read the book and watched the movie of this one and my, there is no doubt why this could be on the top of the list!
I watched the movie at a young age; with my family, and I remembered feeling scared throughout the whole movie! (Not just half of the movie)
This movie had intensive disturbing scenes and just makes me feel uncomfortable when watching or even After watching it.
Who could forget this; if you have ever watched it, the fate of the poor little girl; Linda Blair?
This is one of the very first horror classics produced; and the reason it was so realistic was because it WAS based on a true story which took place in the States.
Visually disturbing, and even the book sends a chill down your spine and you dare not sleep alone!
If you dare, go watch it (don't say you are not warned!)

2. Poltergeist
This was one of the most popular movies; and you can definitely tell its popularity from the number of sequels which came after it. The movie brings an eerie feeling to your own home, especially the television set after watching the adorable and sweet little Carol Anne talking to it (prime scene in the movie).
Facts have it that the set was cursed; as two of the lead actors, one of them is Heather O' Rourke who played the cute Carol Anne died prematurely/shortly after the movie (refer to Internet sources)

3. The Omen
The number 666 in association with the devil was popularized by this movie, and the sound effects and dramatic music really made this a highly exciting not to mention eerie to leave an effect in your mind forever. You can never forget the eyes of Damien who was the Anti-Christ. It just leaves that creepy feeling in you after watching the movie.

4. Rosemary's Baby
Another movie to do with the Anti-Christ, and you could be just paranoid of people around you especially those jolly old neighbours who are always ready to lend a helping hand. It was not that sinister compared to the first three as the movie cleverly goes through the lives of the happy young couple before scaring you.

5. The Exorcism of Emily Rose
This is a movie which centered on the court trial and like Exorcist, it is also based on a true story about a staunch Catholic family whose faith in their religion was brought to the test when their young daughter was possessed and died.
My paranoia of the ungodly hour of 3.00-3.30a.m started from this movie, watch it and you will know what I meant.

6. IT
Based on Stephen King's novel, this movie is one of the best from the bestselling author, in my humble opinion. This movie really changed my perception of clowns, FOREVER!

That would be enough for now; as these are the ones that could really leave an effect after watching it, and really, DON't watch if you have a weak heart.

God Bless, Amen!

10 reasons I stopped watching Horror movies

I admit, I used to enjoy reading stories about the supernatural and even hearing stories from friends. I liked the suspense found in these stories as well, and the sound and visual effects found in the movies make it all the more exciting (despite me peeking from behind a cushion or pillow I used to shield my eyes!)

My friends would be amazed at how a girl like me, who seemed quiet and righteous would enjoy indulging in this genre but you'd be amazed that most ladies do enjoy a good watch of terrifying movie with ghosts, ghouls and spirits.
My dad would even tell me that it is crazy to be watching stories like these and then scare myself silly half the time. Furthermore, what is the point of watching a movie when you are hiding your eyes most of the time during the climax of the movie right?

Well, I used to be brave but recently, I don't know how or when or even what sparked the little feeling in me to no longer be interested in these stories or movies anymore.
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against them, especially when I am still running a blog on these tales, but I'd rather not delve into the elements which can make my imagination run wild.

So, I ran through my mind, wondering what made me avoid horror movies these days and I came up with the top ten reasons (yeah, it is always a number 10 for a list):

1. It makes my imagination go WILD!
Yeah, it is crazy how we could be so imaginative over simple things like a curtain flapping in the wind after watching a movie compared to the usual. We'd cover our heads with the blanket and worry about transparent beings standing over our beds!
Some of us can be even more creative to hold our breath (result of Chinese vampire and zombie movies) to avoid being found by nothing!

2. It makes me worry unnecessarily
Hearing sounds outside the door? Waking up in the middle of the night and thinking twice to make that trip to the toilet seems to be unimaginable than before watching that crazy Alfred Hitchcock movie or the Thai horror movie.

3. It SCARES me for no reason
I just feel scared half the time; wondering what is behind the curtains or what lies in the dark. It is even more crazy when the lights go out due to power failure, and sometimes we imagine that these were works of supernatural forces!

4. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who or what am I looking at?
If you watched the Korean movie, Mirror, you'd know what I mean. Oh, I also noticed that most horror movies did use the mirror as the main scary element where creatures or even the terrifying scenes take place.
It just gives a whole new meaning to looking into your own reflection (and find 'others' there!)

5. Waking up in the middle of the night and checking the time!
This is really crazy but eerie; after watching the Exorcism of Emily Rose, waking up at 3.00a.m or 3.30am is no longer the same anymore. I'd rather not check the time or look at the clock when I DO wake up in the middle of the night.

6. Losing sleep
The mind just goes active and I try to go to sleep but it just makes it worse, as the harder you try to sleep, you will find it harder to fall asleep.

7. Distorted perception of nature
Did you notice that almost half of the horror movies are based loosely on nature; forests, lakes, hills, abandoned lands?
We then grow overly suspicious of trees and shadows, and no longer heed to the beauty of nature but rather of what lurks within; it's just crazy!!

8. Too much violence and gory sights
Honestly, these horror movies are just filled with too much violence than supernatural sometimes; think Psycho and Child's Play. Blood, killings and mutilations, OUCH, that is the idea of scaring our socks off?
Maybe it did worked, since we would end up screaming and hiding behind our pillows, but I just can't stand nor understand how cutting up a human into multiple pieces or being flung into raging rivers can be an attracting factor!

9. Nightmares
I hate having nightmares, and somehow, I always have a good memory which can be blamed for storing the images of the scenes and replaying them so vividly that it is really just freaking scary. I don't enjoy having an active mind during sleep which makes me wake up in the middle of the night or feeling extremely scared or exhausted (from running for dear life in my dreams) when I wake up in the morning!

10. Ignorance is Bliss
What you don't know won't hurt you; and if you have no idea how a haunted house or how are the effects of a ghost look like, you tend not to think or worry about it. If you don't watch these movies, you won't feel afraid of the dark nor the mirrors or anything else for that matter.

Well, to be fair, there is ONE big advantage that comes out of these movies sometimes; FAITH.
Yes, people who don't read the Bible often would miraculously clutch their bibles or rosaries and recite biblical passages when they feel scared.
They start to believe and pray to God when they are scared.

Not a proper way to know God, but nevertheless, at least the faith and religion will be strengthened :)