Today would have been my Dad’s 79th birthday. As regular readers know, he passed away in the Fall of 2018. I have no eloquent turn of phrase to mark his birthday or his passing. Just a heartache that has yet to heal.
I don’t know if you belong to any book or movie groups on social media, but they’re an awesome way to connect with like-minded entertainment junkies where you can delve into plot holes, critique subplots involving second string characters, and debate ad nauseum the politics of certain actors, but let me tell you, it’s seriously not as boring as that run-on sentence just made it out to be.
Sometimes, you’re given homework. Again, membership is usually a little more interesting than my descriptors would lead you to believe. Anyway, fellow members (you know who you are) will routinely offer up puzzles to the rest of the group. Like, what was that movie that had the title with a name of a flower in it… or that book, you know, the one that came out 30 years ago with a red cover and a character named John. The responses to these vague campaigns often run the gamut. Some, like me, take it as a challenge.
Of course, there are always those who respond, why don’t you Google it? I mean, they have a point. Google is right there. Google is your friend. But then again, isn’t that the point of these niche groups? To talk, discuss, and generally obsess over whatever it is the group is patterned after? It’s the perfect place to ask those types of questions, and quite frankly, I’m not sure why the “go ask Google” people are even in those groups if they don’t want to help a fellow bibliophile or cinephile in their pursuit of a dated book or an obscure film.
And what about the people who create these intriguing side quests and then apparently drop off the face of the Earth?
Yeah, does anybody remember a book about a girl named Jane, I read it, oh, about 25 years ago, had something to do with the sea, and something bad happens. Yeah, that’s all I’ve got. Anybody know it?
Then you have fifty people throwing out answers, some of which are pretty damned decent guesses and either those folks have a vast mental library or else they’re fantastic researchers… but, we’ll never know the answer to this riddle, because the original poster never comes back to say, yeah, that was it! Or no, you’re all wrong, are you crazy, of course that wasn’t it!
I mean, at least come back and give the rest of us some closure for god’s sake. I think those people need a course in manners. Hey, I remember that book! By a lady named Miss Manners of all things. Maybe I should recommend it to them.
You know what, though? This lack of rejoinder happens in any online group that has people as members, the one constant being, well, people.
Seen in a backyard gardening group: What’s this plant growing in my garden … I never planted it, it just showed up one day, fully grown. Can I eat it? Will it kill my cat!? What’s the deal? And someone responds, because they always do, with encyclopedic detail, pictures and all, to let the would-be gardener know not only the name of the plant, but a delicious recipe their grandmother had using that very plant. Others pile on with their own identification and recipes for teas, salves, and oils. But does concerned forager and cat owner ever respond? Nope. We’re just talking to ourselves at that point.
It’s the whole being behind a keyboard rather than face-to-face thing, I think. Even though the internet connects us, there’s still an inherent disconnect.
And we still don’t know what happened with her cat.
Happy 4th of July to my fellow U.S. peeps! Drink
up responsibly and don’t kill enjoy yourself with those homemade fireworks we all know you have stashed in your shed. As for me, I’m going to break open a new bottle of Bailey’s in a last-ditch effort at some much-needed tolerance, or at the least, some semblance of patience — which we all know is not my strong suit, with my noisemaker neighbors.
*And wear the damn mask!
So. My colleague in the office next door just walked in to check on me as they heard me talking to myself, describing in detail the colorful Moroccan inspired curtains I want for my living room. I understand their concern, but seriously, how else will I get targeted ads for the exact ones I’m imagining? I could spend hours googling or searching through online shops… this is just so much quicker. Use your time wisely folks!
So, I’ve decided that in an attempt to live healthier, I will eat healthier foods. I know, right!? Aren’t you proud? I went to the store to stock up and after I got home and was putting things away, I realized that I had made a mistake with my groceries. I just hate it when I mean to get grapes, but instead, I accidentally get, well, you know… Oreos.
Oh well. Nothing I can do about it now. I mean, they’re here, so I can’t waste them. My mother taught me better than that.
Turns out, I’m essential… who knew? As an essential worker, driving on the roads for the past few weeks during the shelter-in-place for our state was amazing. Of course now that they’re reopening the state, all hell is breaking loose. But there for a while, there was no traffic; just breeze right on into work and right on home. My gas tank was loving it, that’s for sure. Bonus: it made for a much less ‘road-ragey’ kind of experience.
But the few people that were on the roads with me were determined to undermine my “serenity now” resolve. Even though there was minimal, and I mean minimal, traffic out there, those I shared the road with weren’t exactly good at sharing. Tailgating, dangerously weaving around people to the point of being completely ridiculous, quite like the chase scene from every heist movie ever made. I guess they were taking advantage of the empty roads to live out their Vin Diesel inspired fantasies. The car ones, people. The car ones. I just don’t understand why people are in such a mad dash to get somewhere. And you know damn well they’re rushing off to get somewhere they don’t want to be in the first place. While not rage-fuel, it’s been annoying.
Speaking of being annoyed, sometimes it’s the little things that get me, you know what I mean? I’m one of those people who are very adamant about the express checkout at the grocery store. If you have 12 items or less, all is good. Hell, I can even forgive that 13th item people so often sneak in. I’ve been there myself. But sometimes, you get behind that person who has a month’s worth of grocery shopping in their cart and have the nerve to get into the express lane. In my head, I start counting and when I get up past 30, I start to see pink (yeah, yeah, I know, it’s supposed to be “I start to see red,” but really, in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t truly a “sees red” kind of a situation, so I just “see pink”). You know that the poor cashier, who really just wants to be done with the day (and honestly, who can blame them), won’t or can’t say anything and according to my kids (killjoys that they are), it’s not my place to speak up either, but you best believe I’m giving that lady the old stink eye the whole time.
People not returning their grocery cart is something else entirely. I mean, honestly. The cart return is right there. I know I’ve ranted about this subject before, but still… I have zero remorse for cursing these “non-returners.” And I don’t mean throwing a few sentence enhancers out of my vast repertoire their way. No, I mean cursing, as in “may your errant cart roll backwards over your foot and then ding your car.” It’s a matter of basic courtesy. You grab a cart, you use said cart, and then you return the cart so that others can use it. It’s stupid easy.
Oh, and quick question, I realize the pedestrian has the right of way. I mean, of course they do. However, is there any point at all when a car is actually moving that the pedestrian should just look at the situation and say, yeah, umm… I think I won’t walk out in front of that moving car all willy-nilly, or behind it, for that matter.
I mean, come on people. Get your shit together.
I’m pretty sure it’s come up before, but I’m quite the horror movie fanatic. Well nothing too crazy like a having a life-size cutout of Freddie Krueger or Michael Myers (slasher extraordinaire, not the Spy Who Shagged Me) in my living room or a lifelike replica of Pamela Voorhees’ dismembered head on a candlelit coffee table (just let me pause for a moment to say that if anyone is selling one, please be sure to send me a message with a fair price.)
With that said, I am a pretty avid fan, nonetheless. Back in the day, anything and everything was fair game in my cinematic horror world. Films like Razorback (don’t judge me!) were in the same line-up as Ghost Story for my late-night viewing. I like to think that my viewing habits have gotten more consistently sophisticated over time, but I’m not so sure. Nowadays, movies like The Cabin in the Woods (2011) share space with classics such as The Haunting of Hill House (1963) in “my stuff” on streaming media sites.
If I had to pinpoint a genre (or sub-genre, if you like) to be a personal favorite, I would have to say I lean strongly towards haunted house and general ghost-y movies.
Once in a while, Hollywood scores pretty big with a well-done ghost story, but mostly it’s a special effects game. Don’t get me wrong, I love CGI-laden movies as much as anyone, but movies that build from a slow burn make for a more realistic scare in my opinion.
M.R. James is a favorite writer and while some of his stories have been utilized for movie making, there is so much more potential there that’s left untapped.
If I were to recommend a film that is inspired by one of his works, I’d say Number 13 (2006) is a pretty good story. If you’re a fan of the shining, it’s definitely worth a look.
In the age of zombies (World War Z or Night of the Living Dead), creature features (The Descent or A Quiet Place), and others, a good ghost story is hard to come by. There have been a few wonderful adaptations of ghost stories throughout cinema, but the most popular ghost story of the last decade or so would probably go to Paranormal Activity, and that’s such a modernized “fast-food” experience in my opinion.
So, why is there a lack of really good ghost stories? Is it because Hollywood knows its audience usually has the attention span of a jar of mayonnaise? Or is it that people just like to see pain and anguish on a physical level because they’re sadistic voyeurs? A friend of mine who is obsessed with horror, thinks that most of Hollywood’s decisions are targeted to two basic types of horror movie audiences.
You have the mainstream movies, like Winchester or The Visit (good movie by the way!), which are intended to appeal to the casual horror movie fan. For instance, “You know what Becky, I haven’t seen a horror movie in a few years, let’s go check out this eerie ghost flick at the theater.” Versus hardcore fans of horror, where it’s all about shock value, over the top gore, sex, violence, etc. For example: “Hey Sven, have you seen Tokyo Gore Police yet? I heard they used over 50 thousand gallons of fake blood making that film, we should go check it out.”
Where are the intelligent, slow building haunted house stories? I know that Hollywood sometimes has difficulty with original material – hence all the remakes, but in this case, there is source material galore. The fact that modern day audiences have likely never read gothic horror is not so much a slight on society as it is, quite simply, teeming with potential for screenwriters.
I’m going to hell… again.
*Just in case you were wondering.
The bad news is, I just realized that I took the wrong medication this morning.
The good news is, I don’t have to worry about heartworms or fleas for the next three months.
Okay, figured out where the new bag of catnip went…