Category Archives: Blog

Halloween 2018 – It Follows

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Teenagers are such ripe pastures for horror movies. We all remember the uncertainty, the angst of being that old if we aren’t in the grips of it still. The anxiety and fear of sex trailing about us, whether we want it or are just dreading it and trying to avoid it. It’s why so many horror films are set here, and It Follows is no exception. It takes hold of this and adds the extra layer of a monster trailing after you, only you can see it, and you have all that extra added pressure laid on top of sex. The first scene sets the tone with a young woman fleeing an unseen terror, finally coming to an untimely and gristly end. The inexorableness of It that follows them around through the rest of the movie, slowly and steadily and unstoppable, promising to make their nightmares come true.

For me there’s also the added terror of trying to explain just what is wrong to your friends. It speaks of anxiety that you just can’t explain, know that it doesn’t make sense and yet it haunts you and terrifies you to your bones. And knowing how illogical it sounds and desperately hoping that your friends believe you anyway, trust what you are saying, try to help you. You see it coming for you and yet you can’t do anything about it, not really. Just try to keep ahead of it, not let it catch you while you are resting and think you are safe. Your friends watching you battle something they can’t see and can’t really understand, but trying to somehow help you anyway. I know it should be a metaphor for the slipping away of innocence, of young people passing into adulthood, and yet it speaks to my own adult anxiety and social phobia.

The atmosphere of this film is superb – the music sets a slightly discordant and nostalgic tone (reminding me of Stranger things). The eerie effect of the pool in the final showdown upon the ceiling cementing the unreality of what’s occurring. The slow tension filled building of the terror. And I enjoyed the unsettled and open nature of the ending – it’s no secret to my friends that I enjoy movies that aren’t happily ever after or insist upon spelling out exactly what occurred. Hopefully the dread doesn’t follow me to sleep tonight.

Tonight’s drink was Slice of Life by B. Nektar Meadery. Very strong lemon (not lemonade, there’s only subtle sweetness there to my sugar tolerance, if you can call it that), very little cider underneath. I would have liked a more subtle lemon flavor and a stronger ginger taste (to me, nearly nonexistent).

Halloween 2018 – Army of Darkness

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This has been a favorite of my family’s for years now. It’s such a delightful mix of slapstick and deadpan humor, along side some good creepy horror elements. Technically the third in a series of movies concocted by Sam Raimi and co, though it’s unnecessary to see those movies before viewing this one. I did watch Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 before I got to this one. But either I’ve changed enough, or the times have changed enough, or some combination of those for them to be fairly unpalatable to me. But Army of Darkness so far is still enjoyable to me.

One of the best things are the special effects. In the Evil Dead movies it’s quite obvious they are on an extremely limited budget, but the deadites are just excellent. Quite frankly, not a lot of those looks change that much into this film though I know Raimi had access to quite a bit more funds. A melding of zombie and demon, and an attitude of sadistic pleasure in torturing their victims both physically and mentally are what drive the movie. I enjoy a dash of dark humor in movies such as these, and that dark humor is what keeps Army of Darkness enjoyable and the Evil Dead films less so these days. The first one in particular takes itself far too seriously for my tastes. But Army glories in that dark humor – Ash often tends to take the lazy and selfish paths and the movie punishes him for those same tendencies. The scene where he arrives at the alter to spirit away the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis is notable. The words Klaatu Barada Nikto need to be recited before removing the book from the alter, and despite his cocky fit towards the wiseman earlier of course Ash has forgotten them. And thus Ash causes an army of deadites to resurrect in his fleeing wake.

Perhaps some of my enjoyment of this film is my certainty that Ash isn’t really viewed as a hero in the movie. Sure, he’s a reluctant hero that saves the day. But he is by no means an admirable figure. My rose colored glasses of nostalgia and enjoyment of the film’s many one-liners perhaps makes me unable to view it that critically. And part of this is almost certainly informed by the recent TV show Ash vs the Evil Dead (cancelled just earlier this year), where you can abundantly see what kind of man Ash turned into.

The beer for this film was Surly’s Pentagram, an excellent dark sour. Though not as potent of a sour as last night’s Changeling, it’s still got a good punch and a dark fruity taste to go with. Big bottle and a bit pricey, but certainly worth it.

SHOP SMART.

Halloween 2018 – Dawn of the Dead

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So, tonight was planned to be a double feature. However, due to streaming issues it turned out to only be the 2004 version of Dawn of the Dead (since I own that one). If I have time I’ll get to the other movie I wanted to watch with this later.

I don’t know why I always forget this movie is a Snyder film – it certainly has a feel that his films have. And much like his films, there’s only really a surface film here. Which is fine, if that’s what you are looking for! I find this a to be a good zombie romp, but it is by no means a deep film with any metaphorical context (contrast to last night’s Train to Busan, which had some obvious and well thought through messaging interwoven through its flesh eating action).

I tend to divide movies I don’t feel I wasted my time on into two categories – ‘good’ and ‘entertaining.’ Some movies definitely manage to hit both. This one is firmly in the entertaining camp – what lots of other people would probably refer to as a popcorn flick. The action is slick, got some nice dark comedy moments (I believe this was the film that originally got me into Richard Cheese, with the nice use of his cover of Down With The Sickness inserted over a montage). I rather enjoy the inclusion of the zombie baby, though the entire sequence of Andre tying down Luda despite her quite obviously turning into a zombie is incredibly disturbing for a variety of reasons. Please, if the zombie apocalypse ever actually comes into fruition just put me out of my damn misery.

And the intro to this movie as the world plunges towards death is superb, one of the best intro scenes I can remember – the chaos and confusion, and sense of horror is great. I remember the first time I saw this movie being highly disturbed by a scene very early on, while Ana is in her car and pulls up behind a bus. I’m not quite sure what it was – maybe the way you can’t quite see what’s going on through the translucent but not transparent glass as the zombies pin their hapless victim down, or how long the camera focuses on the poor soul’s struggles. It doesn’t have the same impact now, but the memory remains. What more can you say about it? It’s a solidly executed zombie flick, but just a surface level film. Mindless entertainment, but sometimes that’s exactly what you are looking for.

Tonight’s beer is a large bottle of Boulevard’s Changeling. Billed as a dark sour, it is definitely not lying, with a long and lingering sour punch with each sip.  A little funky underneath and a touch malty, with very light fizz. A little pricey but worth it, would absolutely buy again.

Halloween 2018 – Train to Busan

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I have this thing about zombie movies. Well, several things. I really need them to be fast enough paced to distract me from trying to think about how the zombies work in a particular world, but I also need them intimate enough to keep me from zooming out too far from the action and again thinking too hard about how the zombies work in a particular world (a personal failing of mine, I admit. My brain is sometimes hard to shut off). This movie is excellent in those regards. The action is quick and frenetic when it happens, tension filled in ways that often left me shouting at the TV screen. But it also gives you breathers to catch your breath, to let you take stock of what just happened and watch the remaining cast do likewise.

I dearly enjoyed watching Seok-woo change his perspective from watching out only for himself to trying to save as many as possible. Not to mention watching him come to grips with his actions and accepting responsibility for them. The setting of a train was used to excellent effect – the claustrophobic quarters giving extra edge and panic to the action, using the partitions between cars to break up  sections of high action, and oftne used for dramatic effect. I am by no means a professional critic of any sort, but I felt like the editing in this film was very well crafted. The movie was well paced and didn’t feel as long as it was I was caught up in the action.

I watch zombie movies for two reasons – for that panic driven and adrenaline filled action, and to see all the different reactions of the characters when pushed to their limits. My problem with things such as the Walking Dead (and oh how I wanted that, and especially the prequel series Fear of the Walking Dead to be better than they were) is that they constantly have this nihilistic view of the world, and a view that the only survivors will be the terrible people. My opinion on how accurate that may be varies based upon my mood, but I don’t like watching that sorts of stuff primarily because it’s so boring. You have a whole range of human emotion and reactions to play with, whole other strategies that could work, and you default to the same depressing ones over and over. This movie didn’t fall for that – you do truly see a full range of reactions and motivations for survival (even including the obligatory jerk who thinks of nothing but himself and gets worse as time goes on).

Oh, and I’m Team Running Zombies for life. Shamblers can be used well, but for my money runners are far more tension filled. Highly recommend this movie if you are into zombie flicks!

Tonight’s accompanying beer was Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze IPA by New Belgium. Definitely hoppy, but not overly bitter (and though I have punished my taste buds enough with IPAS a lot in the past I’m currently way out of hoppy beer tolerating prime so I feel that’s well, more trustworthy than usual, heh).  Nice and citrusy in aroma and taste, and pretty smooth overall for an IPA.

Halloween 2018 – The Silence of the Lambs

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One of my favorite movies. Loved it when I was young (even as certain aspects scared me), loved it when I got older. I haven’t watched it in some time, though. Was interesting to see the different details that jumped out at me now vs back then. Such as Clarice’s initial meeting with Dr. Chilton. I remember that from before, but it jumps out with a new resonance both now that I’m an adult and especially within the current context of reality. Also Hannibal’s superior ‘know-it-all with a glance and a few sentences’ attitude, that you see various jerks try to duplicate all over (Not necessarily duplicating specifically from this movie, but an attitude seen all over because I suppose it somehow seems powerful, controlling, and worthy of attempts of emulation).

Ahhh, yes, the trapping victims with their own politeness and helpfulness, the skinning, the dumping of bodies. Such a conglomeration of so many prominent serial killers (Bundy, Gein, Kemper, Ridgeway). I knew everything about this movie was deeply creepy when I was young, I didn’t know just how much it took from events that actually took place, killers that actually existed, to create Buffalo Bill. It takes on a new sinister level, a creeping chill to know so many of these actions were actually performed by various killers.

It’s interesting that this film has two separte plot lines running, that intertwine in obvious ways but are still doing their own thing. Your primary Buffalo Bill plot that is resolved at the end, and your secondary Hannibal Lector plotline that is integral and yet it’s own thing and unresolved. Okay, sure I suppose him escaping to live outside of jail is a kind of resolution, but also an unsatisfactory one if you take it as such. But it makes me wonder if that’s part of why this movie is one of my favorites. I have a history of enjoying unsatisfactory movies. I like the complicated, the depressing, the appropriate and yet unsatisfactory. And what is more unsatisfactory than a movie where you trade off serial killers, catching one in exchange for the release of another? I also never saw any of the sequels (though I do intend to read the book at some point. It’s just been drowned in my massive to-read pile). I didn’t want to change how I saw the end of the movie. I was ok with the end, in its unresolved glory. I get my satisfaction with Buffalo Bill stopped, but my wonder and imagination having other loose ends to play with. Of course, Jodi Foster plays a roll in my enjoyment as well. And no one will persuade me otherwise, Goodbye Horses is a great song.

Tonight’s beer is Rigor Mortis by Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! Seemed thematically appropriate. Nice and malty, strong taste without being boozy in character (which makes it a bit dangerous since it’s definitely strong at 10.5%). A little sweet, and dark. Most excellent, especially if you appreciate monk beer in general.

Halloween 2018 – Coco

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It bears mentioned immediately up front that this isn’t a Halloween film, though it will pop up with almost any Halloween movie list this year. Probably because of the timing of Dia de Muertos and the skull imagery. I knew this beforehand, but decided to watch it within my October film fest for a few reasons. I had wanted to see, but hadn’t gotten to it before now. And I knew it would be a happier film, and I deliberately sprinkled a few less violent or jump scare filled films within my planned schedule.

And goodness, I haven’t shed this many tears while watching a film in a long time. Happy tears, for the most part, but still a lot of them. It felt good to cry with just the sweetness of it all. Pixar has a history of hitting heart strings just right, particularly within me as I get older, and they nailed it with this movie. And quite honestly, I feel on the edge of tears frequently lately so it was cathartic as well to be able to let them out in happiness and sweetness. The film is also gorgeous, so much color and life in every shot!

And I loved the story. Both complicated and simple, the pull of what you want to do with your life vs your family. Some of my tears were certainly bittersweet, as while the film resolves happily I couldn’t help but all those that had to make this choice and never got the resolution Miguel receives. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want the film to end any other way. It’s just hard to forget friends’ stories of less-than-happy endings while watching.

Tonight’s beer accompaniment: Odell Brewing Green Coyote Tomatillo Sour. A very nice sour, not so sour that it pulled an especially strong face from me but still decidedly a sour (not a tart or sweet overkill, which I’ve had a couple beers try to pull and call themselves sour before, for shame) (not that tart or sweet is bad, but if you call yourself a sour you should be SOUR damnit!), with a nice trailing and mellow sourness to follow that initial blast.

Halloween 2018 Day 1: The Purge

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This is a movie, that while I felt a spark of interest when it first came out, I never got around to seeing before now. I can’t remember with any certainty why, though likely a combination of no one to watch it with, and a feeling that it would be a gore porn movie more akin to Hostel then anything else. It turns out the latter was mistaken. Don’t get me wrong, there was violence. You couldn’t have a movie with this sort of premise without some violence.  Maybe it’s just that despite my best efforts I’ve become inured to violence. But it never felt overly gratuitous to me. Well, maybe except for when Mary slammed Grace’s face into the table. But then, by that point I’d gotten caught up and well, Grace kind of deserved that.

The frightening thing to me about this movie, at least at this point in time, in this current reality, is how aware I am now of just how much anger simmers in so many. The hatred and disgust of the other is a seething pot, already spilling over at the slightest provocation. The outright contempt illustrated by the group of privileged hunting down the homeless man, insisting that it is their right to take and kill that random unlucky soul because they view him as lesser than themselves. It may seem a bit cartoonish in portrayal, but it echoes close enough sentiments that are only thinly veiled anymore that it brought chills.

Of course, it has its limits as well. Goodness, am I ever frustrated by films not allowing women to kick ass. Part of this may also be my general dislike of Ethan Hawke, though. Would have much preferred Lena Headey to go on a self righteous rampage than him. It’s always frustrating to watch capable actresses be hindered be scripts like this. Ahh, well, I suppose I’ll have to wait for Game of Thrones to come back to watch her get her chops into something worthy of her again. But then again, the afore mentioned scene where she slammed Grace’s face into the table after smashed her with the stock of a gun was kind of satisfying.

But this is a type of movie that unsettles me for another reason. The certainty that those who perceive themselves as wronged don’t just deserve justice (if they even do deserve that) but also of vengeance, of retribution. It’s something we all have felt at a certain level, at certain times. But we know it’s unreliable and shall we say, not actually justice. Hence, for all its flaws, this is why we have a justice system.

This isn’t really an organized series of thoughts, I know. More just things I thought about while watching. I did mostly enjoy it though. Nothing overly compelling, but gripping enough to keep my attention and not feel like I wasted my time. A good start! No beer with this one because I stayed home from work with a migraine, and drinking with a migraine seemed like a bad idea. But, I’ll watch another movie later tonight and maybe have one then, since the headache has eased up significantly now.

Happy beginning of October!

And the first side project is

While I do intend to mostly focus upon cool phenomenon in the natural world, as I said before my curiosity and interests vary greatly. And truth be told, the reason I convinced myself to FINALLY reboot this blog with the worldbuilding focus was I came up with a side project. For reasons that should be clear to you, reality is incredibly depressing lately (no, I will not going into it here at this time. Maybe later). I need something to distract me more fully, and hopefully cheer me up a bit. I also like trying new things, especially food and drink. And I love Halloween.

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Awwww yeah

Continue reading And the first side project is

Introducing…

I’ve got a lot of random curiosities that I don’t really have any place to indulge. I read a great deal, of just about anything. Novels, biographies, essays, scientific papers, pop sci articles, twitter threads, just about anything can catch my attention. I also possess a desire, like so many, to someday write novels of my own. Whether I ever actually get to that point is to be determined, obviously. So I’m going to try and combine those two things, to hopefully inspire myself to try new and different things in my writing and in my world building in particular, and hopefully inspire other people in their world building as well. World building is a particular love of mine, and I adore novels that go all in with creating rich and touchable and unique worlds for their stories to rest within. And also, I just want to tell someone about all the cool stuff I read about.

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A picture of my own, from near the north end of Lake Powell
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A picture of a picture from my youth. A cecropia moth caterpillar, huge and fascinating to me when I was young.
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A Great Black Wasp drinking from my butterfly weed (cultivated milkweed). Though it didn’t come through well in this picture, in bright sunlight its wings have a blue iridescence.
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A picture of a picture again, the original of a tornado that hit my father’s place of work (though thankfully he wasn’t there). There’s a whole series of images of this tornado at my parent’s house, and I would look through them constantly, fascinated. I’m still fascinated by storms to this day.