Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Scary Movie Month 2016 - #1

Regardless of whatever else I might want to post about, I would be remiss if I didn't report on this year's Scary Movie Month.

It's been a bit of a slow month this year. Playoff games have gotten in the way (Go Cubs!) and other days we've just been tired. The kids have gotten into it this year, though, so all of their movies have been "scary".

Movies seen:

"Buffy The Vampire Slayer" (original movie 1992 - Joss Whedon)
     A great way to start off the month. There's so much to love about this as long as you keep in mind that it should not be compared with the TV series - they are completely different beasts. One of my favorite details - she knows the vampires are around because she gets wicked cramps.

"Cooties" (2015 - Jonathan Millot)
     Gross. Blood-thirsty zombie children terrorize their teachers. Hard to get excited about children (even zombie children) being killed in gross ways. Peter Jackson got away with this in "Dead Alive" because the zombie babies were so clearly just puppets (I'm not even sure that they died, either.)

"A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors" (1987 - Chuck Russell)
     Okay, I actually liked this. The children of the people who killed Freddy Krueger are being haunted (and killed) by him through their dreams. Creepy and disturbing, but as much for how the children are treated/believed by the adults around them as for the actual haunting. A good horror movie should always make you think about more than just the story being presented, and this one did.

Dawn of the Dead (2004 - Zack Snyder)
     Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, so scary. And so good. I've seen the original and liked it but I thought this one was much more serious and immediate.

"House" (1977 - Nobuhiko Obayashi)
     This was apparently a cult hit in Japan at the time. Schoolgirls go to visit an long-estranged relative and get eaten by the house. Visually there was a lot of interesting stuff going on, so I enjoyed that. Overall it didn't seem to cohere as a story, though I'm sure I lost a lot in translation.

Movies partially seen:

"Scanners" (1981 - David Cronenberg)
     Significant to The Dude because there's a scene where someone's head explodes (from psychic waves) that has been referenced in numerous ways. Once we saw this part, though, it failed to keep our interest, mostly because none of the characters were particularly sympathetic or interesting.

"Monolith Monsters" (1957 - John Sherwood)
     This was a Svengoolie movie. To be honest, I don't know the last time I saw a Svengoolie movie all the way through. The commercials and endless schtick wear me out, and then most of the time The Dude wants to see the opening monologue for Saturday Night Live so we end up switching over then if not just turning it off before. I think I'd be a lot more likely to see these if I could just watch them straight through.

Movies seen with the kids:

"Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993 - David Selick, Tim Burton)
     A perennial favorite. And now the music is stuck in all of our heads.

"ParaNorman" (2012 - Chris Butler)
    A Laika production (they also produced this summer's "Kubo and the Two Strings" which was magnificant). Some great little tributes to classic horror movies which are nice to catch. But mostly, this is a really moving movie. I can't not cry.

"Pirates of the Caribbean" (2003 - Gore Verbinski)
     Surprisingly good, given that the core concept is an amusement park ride. Long, though, and after a while I stopped trying to keep track of what was going on. The kids loved it (except for the one kiss - ewwww!)

"Corpse Bride" (2005 - Tim Burton)
     I liked this (especially the musical/dance numbers), but it's a bit slow to start, and I had to keep pausing to explain certain things to the kids.

"E.T. The Extra-Terrestial" (1982 - Steven Spielberg)
     The kids claimed this was not scary but their behavior belied this. Just as good as the last time I saw it... and the time before...

So how have we been making up for our lack of movies? Buffy! The TV series, that is. We meant to watch our "missing season" (Season 3 - missing because I mostly watched this on  my own during late night colic sessions when D was an infant). But it's been so long since we've seen this that we decided to go ahead and start again from the beginning. It's perfect for those nights when we want to watch something "scary" but don't want to stay up as late or split a movie in half. And well, it's just Buffy. What can I say?

I've also been reading some stuff fitting to the season but I'll write about those another time.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 13, 2016


It was a rough summer.

It was a rough summer, and it's only recently that I feel we've gotten through it, though some things linger on...

Some of it was the usual craziness of scheduling with two kids - and next year we plan to do less of it - and some of it was family drama (not mine) - and that goes on. And other stuff as well.

Oh, and police shootings and coastal floodings and immigrant/Muslim/refugee bashing and heat waves beyond what has been recorded before. Zika in Brazil - no, now Puerto Rico, now Miami. (Oh, and now Haiti is being hit with cholera - yet again.) My head was swimming a lot of the time.

I find it hard to write about the things I sorrow over, or struggle with, or haven't managed to come to a conclusion on, along with all the random scraps of interesting, exciting, curious, even joyous things that come my way. My head is a very busy place, much of the time, and I am always seeking out still more.

At one point in the summer I made a gratitude list, so I would have something to post about. (Except as you know, I didn't.) I reviewed it recently, and while much seems outdated (I did a lot of writing in coffee shops this summer, for example, so there are a number of items related to that), some things remain constant. I thought I might share some of them in the days ahead.

I do want to learn how to write (here, not just in poems) about the things that trouble me, or puzzle me, and some of the connections that I find as I range around the world, via other people's words.

But for right now, I want to share with you one of the things that lifts up my heart, day after day: running in the early morning. To see the sky turn from a clear star-dotted black to a soft velvet deep deep blue (I swear the texture of the sky changes in these moments) and then as it goes through various changes as the sun rises, dependent on cloud cover and where I'm headed... it never fails to astonish and enchant me, invigorate and strengthen me. And I get to experience this over and over again. For this I am grateful.

With a deep love for the world and all that is in it,

Friday, September 23, 2016

Suckered In

It's possible that it's a bad idea to go to Barnes & Noble on payday when it's also Members' Double-Discount Day.

Somehow these are coming home with me:

I used to have the individual issues but got overwhelmed at how long the series was going on for...
but I've missed it! So this reissue in omnibus form was a nice surprise.*
I'm closing in on the final volumes of the parent series, Fables - so, time to start the spin-off, yes?
Plus she's shooting arrows from horseback.

I have no excuse. It just looks like fun (classic DC female superheros reimagined).
I can justify it - sort of - by knowing that The Dude will read this one too.
I did have a legitimate excuse for going in there - I needed to buy a sports book for a kid's birthday tomorrow. (Not my kid, a friend of his.) And I gave in and got a B&N membership earlier this year because I realized I was just deluding myself to think I don't get that many books and magazines there in a year to make it worthwhile. It's the only bookstore near me at work (and has a pretty good graphic novel and kids' selection). I try to visit my independent bookstores as much as possible but my experience has been that I can't count on finding exactly what I'm looking for - such as the perfect sports book for an eight-year-old. (I found a great one for him, by the way).

Not that I don't have enough to read already...

* Pumpkin Mommy, there was a Korean manga I used to read that you had recommended... do you remember the name of it? Also, there was a very dream-like one I read, something to do with the moon, possibly a wolf or fox-demon in it too, any idea what that might be? I purged my bookshelves of these a long time ago, before I started my reading journal.

** Oh, it was Crescent Moon. God bless Google.

*** Antique Bakery! That's the Korean one. And apparently there's a movie based on it too. But I can't get it on Netflix and don't need to own it, so I guess I won't be seeing it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Takes My Breath Away

Such an amazing sky this morning. The clouds were moving rapidly as the sun was rising so every time I looked things had changed, layers of layers of different kinds of clouds sliding over each other in every color, no matter where I looked. I was afraid I might trip, all I wanted was to look up and watch the grand show.

At this time in the year all my runs start off in the dark and soon they will return in the dark as well. So I am grateful every day I get to go out and watch the skies change as sunrise approaches. And I am grateful as well, again and again, that I get to go out and run in the mornings. Every day I do I get to go on a journey, exploring the world and seeing what's new. And then I come home to a house slightly stirring, and I look forward to the day and to the next run.

I live a good life,

Monday, September 12, 2016

Been Seeing This A Lot Lately

And just came across it again, so thought I'd post:

Not everything that is faced can be changed,
but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
~ James Baldwin

I just started reading him last year, first excerpts as reported in Brain Pickings, and then a collection of interviews and most recently Notes of a Native Son. It's a little spooky (and very sad) that so much of what he describes still appears to be exactly the same.

I read a news report this morning that there's a fundraising campaign starting to turn his residence in southern France into an artists' colony. I loved my one visit to southern France and have wanted to go back - that would make an excellent reason.

Busy reading,

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

More Chicago Wildlife

Last Saturday, on my  run, I saw this animal:

at this park:

and was so floored by seeing a coyote so close, in the middle of a busy neighborhood (and very close to a major intersection), that I had to tell the first person I encountered. Except it was 5:30 in the morning and no one was on the sidewalk but me so I waved at a work crew stopped at the nearest stop sign like a crazy lady, saying "Did you see the coyote?"

It had been stalking one of the black squirrels that live in that park but when I shouted it shook itself and moved away about five feet (so still only 20 feet away from me) and then trotted parallel to me most of the rest of the park. I saw another person in the park cross its path, look at it, do a double-take, then a triple-take, and nearly trip on some broken concrete. After a while the coyote spotted another squirrel and started to stalk it and I continued on and lost sight. For another quarter-mile I kept looking for anyone who might be going that way so I could share the news but everyone I passed had headphones on and was looking very serious so I didn't bother.

Apparently there are LOTS of coyotes living in Chicago (you can Google this) and we just don't see them because unlike suburban or rural coyotes, urban ones have learned to be solely nocturnal, and curl up and hide when people are out. So I just happened to be up early enough that day to get lucky. Also, unlike the stories you hear about coyotes out West preying on pets, Chicago coyotes mostly eat songbirds, squirrels, and rabbits (of which we have a lot this year).

A very cool start to the day.