August 2017

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We had our first snowfall last night. Around nine o'clock, we began to spot the first fat snowflakes among the rain, and by eleven o'clock, it had changed over to all wet snow. It was sticking a little on the ground by the time we went to bed around 1 AM, but when I eagerly peeked out the window this morning, I was disappointed because it had all melted already.

In the mountains, however, there is quite a bit on the ground. Bobby is currently pacing around the house waiting to be picked up by a friend to go up to Jay Peak, where it's estimated they got about 6 to 7 inches (15 to 17 cm). They'll "earn their turns" by hiking the mountain and snowboarding down. Power to them! That sounds like a lot of work, but Bobby is over the moon.

At his colleague's house about 15 minutes north of us, she posted a picture on Facespace with about two inches (5 cm) on the ground, so it seems we just missed it being cold enough to stick, which isn't particularly surprising, since we tend to be a couple degrees warmer here in the valley than in the surrounding areas.

Yesterday, we went to the matinee show of Vermont Vaudeville. We loved it. The show was held in the beautiful still-undergoing-restoration Hardwick Town House. It was hilarious. I think they cross-pollinate a lot with Bread and Puppet; I recognized some of the actors from B&P shows.

It was a really miserable day yesterday: in the mid-40s F (about 4C) and this constant, omnipresent, drizzly rain. We decided to pack it in for the evening. We'd had a stupendous and large lunch at Positive Pie in Hardwick, so we grabbed some Chinese food at the Wok 'N' Roll in Newport and rented three movies from the video store.

We moved up here for a variety of big reasons related to lifestyle, ideals, and emotional health, but we constantly discover little things that we love and never expected. Having a video store is one of them. An old-school, locally owned video store, not a Blockbuster, certainly not a RedBox. Bobby and I love movies, and one of our favorite ways to spend an evening is seeing a movie in a theater or renting one at home. Yet neither of us are particularly wild about streaming movies. The reality is that we live in the middle of nowhere and have satellite Internet, and the nights when you most want to watch a movie at home--when it is raining or snowing--are the nights when the satellite Internet is least reliable or, during storms, may not work at all. We also like having the cases to hold in hand, to read the reviews and the blurbs, look at the cover and the stills that have been chosen, see if the movie was presented at any festivals or won any awards, etc. Discovering we had a video store up here was an amazing find for us.

During October, we rent mostly-to-all "scary" movies. New England Video has a special where you can rent three non-new releases on Saturday night for three bucks and keep them for three days. Since we're expecting poor weather this weekend and three bucks for three movies is an amazing deal, then we rented three scary movies. Last night, we watched one called Frozen--no, not THAT Frozen--about a trio of college kids who get stuck on a high ski lift after hours. It was the stupidest thing ever! It appeared they were citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (I will avoid using the term that Vermonters use for this particular type of tourist from that particular state), skiing/riding at a fictional resort in Massachusetts, but there managed to be man-eating wolves? It was awful! But of course, the awfulness is part of the fun for scary movies a lot of the time. All the same, this wasn't the kind of awful that I recommend watching.

We've rented a few this month that I've really liked. Probably my favorite wasn't anywhere near being a horror movie or even much of a thriller, even though it was labeled that in the store (which is why we rented it): Into the Forest with Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood, about a pair of sisters who are stranded in a remote home in Northern California after an inexplicable power grid failure knocks out the power to the area (maybe the nation?) for months. I pretty much agree with the Ebert review I linked. It was a great movie but the ending was a little weak, in a large part because it couldn't provide resolution. There was a little disconnect from the realistic for me too, as when the sisters decide to use the last of their preciously hoarded gasoline to burn down their collapsing house. Why exactly? Ebert calls it "unapologetically feminist," which I disagree with only because I disagree on principle that a movie about two women in a survival situation MUST be shoehorned as feminist. What kind of pop culture do we have when drawing two principle characters from the same half of the population must be construed as some kind of statement? No one would question a husband-wife pair or two brothers or seek to label such a narrative choice as carrying some kind of message. Because the only way I think that Into the Forest carries an "unapologetically feminist" message is if one accepts the premise that a pair of women would be helpless and best served by male assistance in a survival situation and that the movie represents some kind of ideal rather than a realistic depiction of how two women would act under those circumstances. However, one of the things that made the movie so appealing to me was that most of the women I know would have acted similarly. They would have soldiered on, they would have made it work, they would have used a full array of resources--not just muscle and bluster--to survive. Because that's what women do, that's how we roll.

A very similar movie that I don't recommend is The Forest with Natalie Dormer about a woman who goes to Japan to seek her missing sister last seen in the local "suicide forest." This one illustrates why PG-13 horror movies very often don't work for me: There is an overreliance on jump scares and gimmicks like flashing to a "scary" face that looks like something sold in the mask section of a Spirit Halloween Superstore. I cannot for the life of me imagine why an actor like Natalie Dormer accepted a script like this. (She was part of what sold this particular movie to me despite the rating.)

You're Next was remarkably good in the slasher genre. I thought it'd be stupider than it was. It was stupid in places and extremely gruesome, but it wouldn't be slasher horror if it wasn't, right? The premise is that an affluent, troubled family is vacationing in the woods (notice how these movies almost always take place in settings much like where I live?! sheesh ...) when they are attacked, seemingly at random, by crossbow-wielding killers wearing animal masks. There were twists and turns that I didn't expect of this one, an unexpected hero (getting back to that whole "unapologetically feminist" thing ...), and the only time I have ever seen a blender used as a weapon.

Population 436 was a pretty good one about a census taker sent to survey a town where the population has remained the same for over one hundred years. I liked the slow reveal in this one as you learn alongside the main character exactly what is going on. It reminded me a lot of Shirley Jackson's famed short story "The Lottery."

The Darkness with Kevin Bacon was solidly ehhhh. It'd be a decent PG-13 haunted-family movie except that my PC millennial self is a little squeamish about the idea that the haunting comes from stolen Native American relics because we need an Other to explain the scary things in our lives, right? Also, the success of storylines like this one requires an assumption that non-Abrahamic belief systems are inherently scary, which as someone from the scary group, I tend to think is more often the other way around.

So speaking of Haunted October, my own Haunted October is going well and so not-so-well at the same time. It's going well because I am still hooked on the story and write at least a little of it every day. I don't think I've had a 5000+-word day, but I've had a handful of occasions where I manage a few thousand in a sitting, which is good. But it's nowhere near being done, which looks like it won't be ready to post even part of on Halloween (since I don't like to post unfinished work), and at this point, it also threatens my NaNoWriMo aspirations, since I'm not going to put it on hold to start something new. So at this point, I probably need to just call it "Tamlin" and forget about the Haunted October piece. I can't bring myself to be disappointed in myself, however, for missing a self-imposed deadline because of my enthusiasm for a story that has been in my head for years.

Last night, I finally got to some sinister supernatural monkey business. Yes, JUST LAST NIGHT. I still have a lot of story to tell.
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