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10 October, 2009

An October Tradition


Anyone who knows me knows that October is my favorite month, and Halloween my favorite holiday. Always has been, always will be. And of course, I have my share of October, and Halloween, traditions.

Decorations must start going up in September… the earlier the better. No matter what else I do on Halloween night, I must watch John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN. If I don’t buy the first bag of Trick-or-Treat candy I see out in a store, then it’s not going to be a good season.

But for the past few years, I’ve found a new October tradition, one that I, and many friends of mine, have embraced whole-heartedly: The October Couch Potato Film Festival.

The invention of Joe Shingler, a friend and fellow traveler through Yahoo’s Horror Movie groups, the OCPFF is something done entirely for fun, though it’s fair to say it does bring out the competitive spirit in the participants. The rules are few and simple: Beginning on October 1st, and continuing straight through until Halloween night draws to a close, you count every Horror, Science-Fiction, and Fantasy film you watch. The one with the most titles in their list is declared King Spud, and the movie that appears on the most lists is the Winning Title for the year, and cannot repeat.

Now, if this sounds like an invitation to sit on your ass until you take root, well… it is. But make no mistake; this challenge is not for the wimpy or weak-willed among us. If your gluteal muscles lack sufficient tone, you’ll be sobbing before the first week is out. If you haven’t carefully developed a thick rind of calluses on your posterior, you’ll be on your knees begging for mercy by the halfway point. If you intend to be the King or Queen, you gotta be tough, baby!

Of course, the spirit of the OCPFF is fun, and not everyone tries to go all out. Most participants are content to log one or two movies a day, maybe three on a cold, rainy Sunday. And that’s great. The membership of the four Yahoo groups that currently celebrate the festival recognizes and cheers every participant, whether they’ve listed one movie or one hundred.

But to be a serious contender for the crown requires something more. It requires stamina, determination, endurance, strength of will, and a massive library of genre movies always at the ready. It requires the Eye of the Tiger… or, more correctly, the ‘Tater. It requires… virtually no life.

Ok, so it’s not like I had to choose between a date with Tara Reid and having a Karloff marathon. Still, for those of us who’ve had the honor to contend for the broken-in, sagging throne of King Spud, no sacrifice is too great to squeeze one more film onto your list. Wake up an hour early in order to get in a quick “Poverty Row” B-pic before work? No problem. Choose what to watch by checking the runtimes? Works for me. Have multiple players loaded and ready so you can switch to a new movie as soon as the current one ends? Child’s play for a serious contender. Whatever it takes to shave seconds here or there might add the length of a movie over a month’s time.

So just what did it take to win last October’s challenge? Well let’s examine my effort. I achieved a personal best of 212 movies, with an average of more than six movies per day… every day. For thirty-one days, I watched nothing that wouldn’t qualify for the OCPFF. No news, no sit-coms… not even my cherished football games, nothing that would hinder me in my drive to my goal. I watched until I left for work, and took up where I left off as soon as I got home. I watched movies I didn’t particularly like because they had shorter runtimes than similar movies I would’ve enjoyed more. I gave it everything I had.

And when all was said and done… it wasn’t even close. I lost by a good 12-15 movie margin. I lost to a true Spudmaster, the creator of the challenge, Joe Shingler himself.

But I’m already in training for this year’s competition. I’ve asked my doctor about ass-deadening injections; I’m pricing some… modifications, to my recliner to make it more marathon-friendly; and I’m teaching the dog to carry the handle of her leash in her teeth and walk herself. I intend to be crowned come November 1st.

Maybe if I take my vacation in October?



































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