Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Word or Twelve About My First Horrorthon Experience.

A few years ago I opened an email from JSP that contained a magical link to a place called Horrorthon. I spent many hours over time visiting this place, reading reviews, laughing & getting great tips on new movies. Every now & again JSP would give me a nudge saying, “you should join in.” but I just didn’t have the time. Back then I was working as a manager for Cingular and they owned my life, I was miserable. Then a miracle happened! Cingular decided to close the call center location, otherwise known as hell, that I was running. Oh I was offered a transfer, but the job had been slowly sucking the soul out of me so I took the lay off. I spent the better part of a year finding myself again. My artwork blossomed, I started writing again, I did numerous home improvements and spent a lot of time with my kids. I eventually fell into a wonderful part time job at the school I am working at now and it’s perfect. Summers off, school vacations and I only work weekdays from 9 to 1. Leaves me plenty of time for artwork and other mischief. Are those hours perfect for Horrorthon or what?

So, as my blood pressure came down and the smile came back into my eyes I started to think I needed something more. While having yet another conversation with JSP about horror, again he urged me to join in knowing my love for the genre. This time I said yes. I spent September loading up my Netflix queue preparing for the “Thon”. If I was gonna do it, I was gonna do it right. JSP said to watch as many movies as humanly possible and I took that literally. I mean, what fun would it be if I went into it half-assed. The way I saw it, I had to come up with a plan. I had 5 obstacles this October; My Mom’s birthday & my Dad’s birthday, both of which there were parties, dammit! That’s 2 Saturdays of Thonus interuptus. The haunted houses I do make up for, that would be 2 whole weekends gone, the bastards! Last and most crucial is Halloween. My neighborhood madness would not allow me the inevitable final night movie marathon. Didn’t they know they were inconveniencing my Horrorthon antics? Damn kids, they could have Trick or Treated on November 1st, right? I’ll have to have a talk with them next year, threaten to burn their houses down or something like that. Anywaaaaay…..
I set a goal of 75 movies for myself, I thought if nothing else I will try like hell to reach that number. Well, what happened is I kinda went a little nuts. I didn’t even think it was possible to watch 110 movies in a month, holy shit!

Here’s what I did, I got up at 5:30 am every day and after making coffee, feeding the cats and cleaning the litter boxes I would sit down in front of my puter and watch a movie before work. When I got home from work I would shower, do only the necessary chores for the day, then I’d watch a second movie. Finally, I’d throw together a meal for the family that took 30 minutes or less or order out if I was running late. Beyond that my night was free and I could watch another movie or 2 depending on the length of the films and the time I got started. So in other words I averaged 3 to 4 films a day. I was trying to squeeze in as many as I could early in the month before my life got tied up in Haunted Houses and such.

Just then sweet blessed fate came to my rescue by way of a call from the owner of the first haunted house. She decided to do a house of mirrors this year because she couldn’t get enough volunteers to man the place so she didn’t need me. The other haunted house was scheduled for the weekend of the 18th but again fate stepped in. They had a water pipe burst in the facility they used and had to cancel altogether. Now with the weekend of the 18th free and clear, I decided to have Mom’s birthday bash here. I lost most of that Saturday to party prep but I got up extra early to watch one in the morning and still managed to squeeze in a total of 5 movies that day. Dad’s birthday was at my brother’s house the following Saturday another partial day lost but I again fit in 5 movies because I didn’t have to cook.

By now I was way ahead of my game plan and I refused to allow myself to let up. It just became a personal challenge to see if I could maintain such a grueling pace right up to the end. Yes, I became slightly psychotic about the whole thing but it was my first Horrothon dammit! By the time Halloween night rolled around I was at 109 and watched the final flick after the festivities. Basically I had no life whatsoever for the entire month of October. I totally ignored my friends and family for the sake of the “Thon”. I missed 2 important appointments that I didn’t even reschedule I just oops, forgot about them. I did zero artwork all month long and you know what, I don’t regret a single bloody minute of it either.

Had I continued to watch a movie and immediately post a review I would probably have been about right with my goal of 75. But JPX’s silence and lack of reviews clued me in to the amount of time I was wasting writing reviews. So, I took a cue from the master and started watching more and writing less. The trouble came in November just as JSP had warned me. He said it would get harder and harder to write those reviews as the month droned on and the hoopla of October faded away. He was so right, but stubbornness prevailed. I refused to let all those hours of lost sleep and shitty meals go to waste. I trudged forward and finished my reviews. I’m not so sure that I will be quite as aggressive next year, the fatigue, the backed up emails and my hubby’s intestinal grief as a result of too much fast food (oh yes, I suffered the wraith of his stinky farts) are an awful lot of grief to bear. On the lighter side, I actually lost about 10 lbs over the month surviving on protein bars and breakfast cereal.

Hell yes! It’s been quite the experience of a lifetime. After a week or so of solid horror watching, mostly by myself too since Tony & Zeke were both at work, the world began to look a little more ominous. The night was definitely darker. Each snap of a twig was a possible psychopath lurking in the blackness. My dreams became more vivid and sinister. The cats began staring at me like the evil little demons they are. People looked strange, as if they were hiding terrible secrets behind their eyes. Well, maybe it wasn’t that weird but it was fun to think so anyway.

So, you guys really came up with a great fun idea when you started this blog. After my years of lurking in silence, I now know first hand that monitoring & reading the reviews you wrote in no way prepared me for the exhaustion and mental burnout of actual participation in the “Thon”. I have a new respect for your dedication here. I now know what it takes to devote an entire month (2 actually if you count the review writing in November) of my life for the sake of the “Thon”. I really had fun and look forward to next year’s competition. I hope my family & friends can forgive me for neglecting them. Thanks again for inviting me into your twisted little world.


Landshark said...

Bravo! I'm exhausted just hearing about your schedule.

JPX said...

My hat goes off to you, Catfreeek! You have set a new and ridiculous standard for Horrorthon and your dedication to the contest was amazing, if not a bit insane. All along I was wondering how you were doing it. As you posted more and more reviews I started to think you were a superhero. Then one day JSP mentioned the words “part-time job” and I knew that you were a force to be reckoned with. I was especially impressed with your ability to churn out reviews in such a timely manner. I know that others are sitting on lots of reviews (JSP, Octo, JPX I’m looking at you), but somehow you plugged away to get them all written, impressive, most impressive. Nice summary of your experience and I’m delighted that you had a good time. Thanks for joining our little contest, you’ve more than lived up to your reputation as a horror fan!

Catfreeek said...

Working part-time at a school is the most wonderful thing in the world. Every time I think I'm getting sick of the job I get a vacation. I spent my summer painting the walls in my house, making tie dyes, doing art work and just loving life in general.

Even with part-time work it was extremely hard to keep up the exhausting pace of Horrorthon.

AC said...

fabulous, catfreeek! i was wondering how you did it so thanks for enlightening us. part time job + 200% commitment + waiting till november to churn out reviews = horrorthon glory.

DCD said...

Brava, indeed!! I too was wondering about your strategy. I knew there was some madness behind it but good god, woman! 5:30 am?!? That's just plain nuts. But I'm so glad you went nuts because I now have a full queue of movies for next year and your reviews were great to read.

You have indeed set a new standard that I wonder will ever be reached again. You, my dear, get the Thon Academy Award!

miko564 said...


I bow before the new master, and am now a little afraid to meet you. That kind of dedication is usually reserved for monks and TV star stalkers.

Whirlygirl said...

I agree with Landshark, I was felt exhausted as well reading it. Cat, JPX and I had many conversations about you throughout the month. I knew you had it in you to beat him. I have hopes of one day winning Horrorthon and I'll be sure to adopt your schedule to do it.

On another topic, Miko, did you ever watch the Exorcist? I kept up my end and watched Poltergeist.

Catfreeek said...

Have no fear Miko I'll only stalk you for a year or so then I'll get bored and move on to someone else.

Octopunk said...

Fantastique! I'm just reading this post now as Zack has been sick and then we got sick and, well, you know.

I love this story! The first time I was really aware of the 'thon I totally half-assed it. JPX and I watched maybe a half dozen flicks together and I never wrote any reviews. So really I totally non-assed it.

When I joined up for real the following year I was in it to win it, and racked up the 98 movie count that wasn't bested until now. Congratulations! A truly amazing effort.

Catfreeek said...

I'm paying for my devotion now though. It's hell trying to catch up on everything I put off to watch movies.