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.

Blue Lava

I remember in high school chemistry class one of the experiments was moving around the room, burning different minerals in Bunsen burners and guessing what the mineral’s composition was based upon the colors of the flames. The colors were surprisingly vivid and I was enchanted. Strontium containing compounds burned bold red, Calcium a jack-o-lantern orange, Potassium a pleasant violet of nearly magenta, Green from a number of chemicals (though if I recall properly we used copper sulfate. No promises, though, that was a while ago). Blue is easy to see from a simple alcohol flame. It’s like fireworks, but though explosions in the sky are fun for me it’s the fire on the ground, close enough to touch but for the fact it would hurt you that is more enticing. Most of these colors you have to deliberately create – we don’t often see them occurring in the natural world, at least where visible to many of us.

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“Ijen-13” by Ultracharged is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

Which is what makes the Ijen volcano in Indonesia so entrancing. The flames from the lava are a brilliant, pure blue. Though it’s not the lava itself that causes this – it’s the concentration of sulfur gases also flowing forth from the volcano.

Exposed to the oxygen present in air and sparked by lava, the sulfur burns readily, and its flames are bright blue. There’s so much sulfur, Grunewald says, that at times it flows down the rock face as it burns, making it seem as though blue lava is spilling down the mountainside.

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“Blue Fire” by ima-jing is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

Imagine though, if you walked through a world where extreme concentrations of various minerals caused explosions of colorful flames. Or perhaps a group has to find their way through a desolate landscape, and have to follow the path of a specific kind of mineral that burns a specific otherworldly color. It’s a fantasy after all, so you can kind of do what you want. My favorite fantasy worlds though, are those that take the incredible from what we know occurs and expands upon it.

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.

Skeleton Flowers

An appropriate entry for the first of October! I love when I encounter a plant that has a simple name, one that uses another object to describe itself. It usually means this plant has a very unique feature that sets it apart from the rest. So when I ran across a reference to the Skeleton Flower (Diphylleia grayi), I became excited before I saw any pictures.

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By Qwert1234 CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As such, I was at first disappointed. It’s an innocuous appearing little plant, native to parts of China and Japan. The leaves are palmate, with deep veins visible and an uneven coloring of darker and lighter green The edges are spiked and turned down, often being described as umbrella shaped. But it’s called Skeleton FLOWER, right? Not entirely surprising that the rest of the plant would appear not terribly exciting.

But initially again I was disappointed. Bringing to mind the appearance strawberry blossoms to myself, they are small and white. Unlike strawberry blossoms, they rise a bit above the foliage on stalks that then branch out into clusters. Thin white petals and yellowy centers of stamens and pistils of a sort that are seen commonly in plantdom.

But then! Then I found their secret, the reason for their evocative name. When moisture touches the white petals, the color bleeds away and they turn transparent. The vein structure is still visible, white like the petals had been, but the majority is now delightfully see-through. You can see the skeleton of the petals, like taking an x-ray. Many of the images I found are of the flowers looking like delicate glass sculptures. They look as though they’d break with the slightest touch, or tear when a strong breeze hits their damp tissues.

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Eventually, they produce edible berries that look much like blueberries to myself, but that’s besides the point! The point is a fascinating trait that could be utilized and adapted in a fantasy or sci fi story. I have a vision inside my head now, of a forest of plants that all turn utterly transparent except for their skeletons when it’s raining. Imagine your characters navigating through the both potentially beautiful and potentially disturbing maze of now transparent foliage. Stealthy creatures lurking behind layers, the faint suggestions of movement hinted at beneath the translucent layers of plant matter. It’s like an ice cave without the need for freezing temperatures. Hinting, teasing at what treasures or horrors may be just beyond the veil.

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.