Damien Riley’s Column: ‘Naked America’

To open my column this week, I want to clarify I am not now nor have I ever been a nudist or exhibitionist, though I do not judge those who are. I am speaking here of covert nudity within the acceptable confines of ones home. I think it’s quite freeing and I think it could help a lot of overly conservative people out there hindering our growth as a civilized society. It’s also partly a metaphor like “the naked truth.” It’s about having an open mind.

Just because you don’t see them, don’t assume people aren’t stripping behind closed doors. We Americans are stifled in our entertainment, our lifestyle choices, and in our ability to have and hold opinions that deviate from the norm. I’ll bet you more and more Americans are walking around naked inside to cope.

cropped-profile_2015_hawaiiluau_300px.jpgDamien Riley is a blogger and podcaster who writes a column at RileyCentral.net once a week. He has an MA in English  from California State University, Fullerton, he married a princess (now his queen) and together they have 3 children.

As far as our entertainment goes, we are given only that which Netflix allows us, or a smattering of smaller streaming companies offer. Sure, we can pay for virtually whatever we want on Amazon and see it via the computer, but none of the middle and lower class has the money to see all the films and entertainment we want to see. It isn’t cost-effective with our budget. So, we watch what we are told is good and then we have to walk around naked to have a feeling of freedom that we really just didn’t get.

There have been bath houses through civilization. Men entered them to have sex with other men. They may not exist so brazenly as they did back in Roman days and before, but I guarantee you people are sleeping together in their backyards and bed behind closed doors. I think of this as America’s “naked state.” I truly hope the fundamentalists and conservatives of our day our walking around naked in their homes. When you feel that freedom it has to open your mind. Unfortunately, so many people who shrink at the idea o being naked may not ever get to feel that freedom. That’s a crying shame.

In lifestyle choice, we are encumbered by religious folks. These people claim they have the right to judge homosexual people as sinners. This is in fact the way some people fall in love, the way they are wired to. Some of these people say they love Jesus. I say that is quite a bit more odd that they love a person who died 2000 years ago and who they never met than when a gay couple gals in love. This is why people walk around naked at home. It’s barbaric out there with religious people these days. People need to feel free, people need a release.

Wallace Stevens presents the kind of morning I wish to have on a Sunday. I don’t want to be trapped by images of a sepulcher . Instead I want to be freed by squirting oranges I peel by hand as I embrace the now. His poem is called ‘Sunday Morning,’ if you haven’t enjoyed it I highly recommend it.

Opinions always run high during times of presidential debates. Lately, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have fed the fires of hate on both sides. I personally hesitate to share my views on social media or on my blog although sometimes I deem it helpful to my rhetoric. I believe in being transparent when it helps my facade.

I know we value church in America along with a strong military and education curriculum that treats every kid the same but we really need other things. We need the stuff you think of when you’re naked. To some my premise is absurd but have you tried it on a regular basis. Obviously only try it when the kids are not around and no one can see you. I personally feel there would be less war if American could walk around naked more. I would love to do it more. When I get the chance, I can tell a lot of things start to make a lot more sense. There are too many masks in America. Perhaps if we were naked more often, we could see to declare the emperor has no clothes, or rather maybe he doesn’t need them.

Weekly Roundup – What I Blogged About Last Week

img_0632It was a great week of blogging for me. I kept to a schedule and got a lot of stuff written that I am proud of. Enjoy!


Movie Review: ‘Lights Out’


Lights Out (2016)

Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Maria Bello

Directed by

David F. Sandberg

Written by

Eric Heisserer, David F. Sandberg

Other Info

Fantasy, Horror
Rated PG-13
1h 21min

4 Stars (4 / 5)
Horror movies are built on scares. Some are hugely successful because they get the scares just right. I think of A Nightmare on Elm Street, where the scares centered on dreams and finger knives. I also think of Halloween where the scare is in the immortality of the killer. For as many successful films that have come down the pike, there have been effective scares coming from powerful ideas. Usually, as it is in the examples I just mentioned, the formula is simple, based on some well-chosen banal and universal human fear like sharks for example.

Lights Out the short film got its start through trial run showings on Youtube via a 3 minute short of the same name. David Sandberg and his wife made the short and then it went viral. Soon after that, Sandberg was in talks with mega horror director/producer James Wan (Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring …). Sandberg got a chance to bait a big screen audience and that audience bit.

While the short film has a rustic, bare bones plot, the film’s is quite extensive. IMDB gives this synopsis:

When her little brother, Martin, experiences the same events that once tested her sanity, Rebecca works to unlock the truth behind the terror, which brings her face to face with an entity that has an attachment to their mother, Sophie.

*The rest of this review may contain spoilers

lightsout_4Maria Bello, Martin’s mother Sophie in the film, does a great job and I think her performance deserves more press than it’s getting. I loved her in Payback with Mel Gibson and it was great seeing her on the screen doing so well once again. Her role is the crux of the story and while we aren’t supposed to understand the way she is until about the last 1/8th of the film, she lays the foundation in a stellar way. We could talk about so many psychological issues at play here. I think people interested in that topic could sit and chat for hours over coffee on that aspect alone. I love it when horror movies have a psychological component.

There is also a supernatural possibility here. Is it in their heads or is there a ghost  here? Apparently, this thing that disappears in the light has limbs and so it might lightsout_2be human. The character that brings clarity to the creature is Rebecca, Teresa Palmer. She reads a box of files that were in her mother’s storage. I can relate with this because I remember finding some of my parents things in the garage from time to time and revelling in seeing them so young. Once I even found a letter my dad had written to the draft board. That’s a powerful find when you’re a kid. It’s that much more powerful to Rebecca,Teresa Palmer, when she finds it and does some poking around. At that point she is able to share her opinions about her mom and this other “person” called Diana.

The little brother Martin, Gabriel Bateman, also does a great acting job. I especially liked the script written for his character. He really made me feel scared and at the same time, why he stays in a scary situation: he truly loves his lightsout_1mother. In the end, this film becomes a story of redemption of the relationship between mother and daughter. Rebecca is the star of the show here. She has clearly decided she wants no more of her mother out of a survival instinct and I respect that. At the same time, you wonder how she could have run out on her little brother. The creature is jealous for Sophie’s attention and she will wreak havoc on anyone who threatens that. Rebecca got out and left the brother behind. In the film, her crosswords challenge is whether to step in or continue with her life apart from her mother and brother.

Sandberg’s wife, Lotta Losten, who stars in the short film also plays a small role in the beginning of the feature movie.

Apart from a complicated plot that I take points away for, there is a simple string of scares based on the creature and lights going off and on/ This is ingenious and it really works to scare. I even thought that the complicated plot sometimes got in the way of the simple scares that you can get a taste of for free on Youtube in the Lights Out Short Film. An interesting trivia is that Sandberg’s wife who stars in the short film plays a small role in the beginning of the film, warning Sophie’s husband there is something in the hallway. Fittingly this is derived from the short where some sort of creature is in the hallway coming closer with each click of the light.

It’s rare when a small successful short film hits big as a feature film. Lights Out has done it here. James Wan made the right choice and I don’t think he needs me to tell him because he has already signed Sandberg to direct Annabelle 2. This is one of the coolest success stories in film. Sandberg has said that the short film cost “zero dollars” to make. He traveled with that idea to a 5 million dollar feature horror film and it has been filled with audiences since its opening. I wasn’t sure if I would like it due to a few bad reviews I saw but on the whole, the critics love this film referring it to a Summer sleeper hit. I’ll make the obvious point of how this should encourage new filmmakers. Perhaps more will produce shorts at minimal cost. This will in theory increase to number of great ideas that make it to the theaters. This thriller/horror is one that will be in the discussion of horror for decades, maybe even indefinitely. I wonder if Sandberg ever marvels at how far that one idea has come since the night he clicked “upload” on Youtube. For horror/thriller fans, I wholeheartedly recommend this one. It was a lot of fun.

Thanks for reading this review. You may want to read my other review of Lights Out Short Film.

Short Film Review: ‘Lights Out (2013)’


Lights Out (2013)

Lotta Losten

Directed by

David Sandberg

Written by

David Sandberg

Other Info

Short, Horror

4 Stars (4 / 5)
The film directing artistry of newcomer David F. Sandberg appeared long before his big screen debut: Lights Out. A three-minute limit and a terrifying idea produced his short film of the same name. After hitting the internet, it went viral and caught the attention of horror fans and movie makers all over the world. The most important viewer proved to be James Wan, creator of Saw, Insidious, and the Conjuring.

Wan eventually met with Sandberg going on to produce ‘Lights Out’ in its big screen version. Sandberg’s short film won the prestigious horror award “Who’s There.” Since then, millions already have been scared by the full length horror/thriller film. Countless more will be petrified at a later date on DVD and other media. Sandberg has gone straight to the top with his film. Furthermore, Wan has slated Sandberg to direct Annabelle 2. Now that’s what I call a short film with a bullet!

The short is quite different as far as the story goes in each. The film, as one would imagine, has a complicated interplay between characters. Of course, the short has only one character. Well, let’s just say one character we know of. A woman who is nameless but played by Sandberg’s wife in real life Lotta Losten. They were working in a home for mentally challenged adults all day and when they got home they would make films at home for fun. Sandberg states the film cost “zero dollars” to make. One night when Lotta got off work, they made the short ‘Lights Out.’ He submitted it to the horror site Bloody Disgusting and in no time the video went viral.

Although the two films are similar and share the same name, they are quite different. What they share is this technique of turning a light off and seeing a figure then turning a light off and seeing it disappear. This build incredible suspense and I love banal effect of the short film just as much as the 5 million dollar production version. I’ve placed the short below for your viewing. I think it’s inspiring that a young man and his wife could develop a simple thought at home in a 3 minute short film and have it take off in a couple of years to be a Summer blockbuster. I’ve just seen the full-length version and look forward to reviewing it here in the near future so stay tuned. Until then, here is the short film, I hope you enjoy!

Thanks for reading this review. You may want to read my other review of Lights Out (2016).

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: ‘Your Days of Yore and What You’re Not’

The Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “your/you’re/yore.” Use one, use them all, but whatever you do, enjoy!

Here’s my #socs entry for today:

Days of yore hold such mysticism. The way they used to do it always seems more concrete, more tested. We forgot however that thinkers in history did not have the technology and advantages we have. So why do we trust old technologies like buildings and roads so much. We vote to pay for roads, for example, that are built in those same technologies of yore.

Then I have to acknowledge such huge accomplishments of the past as the men on the moon. Was their now defunct technology a total mistake? That happened with the technology of a computer only as sophisticated as a basic calculator. If you can ever watch Apollo 18 you’ll see how people working together in collaboration is the true technology that got people to the moon. It’s a great film though not about the famous successful flight.

Care to try your hand at #socs? Read below:

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!

source: #socs