After the blistering success of my Handmaid’s Taletwo-parter, I thought I’d chime in about my mini garden and the wild bunnies. Both garden and bunnies seem fine.
The punkins now peek over the old tire. The herbs– oregano, lavender, dill and lemon balm– have not died a withering, bitter death. Yet. They appear to enjoy me moving them about from here to there. There are little newbies coming up where I planted seeds. Cucumbers and possibly a second eggplant plant. And I noticed squash babies have formed. Little teeny squash.
I’m so glad I collected cow shit from the field across the way and mixed it, by hand, in the soil before I planted my pet squashes. So glad.
Now I note there are ground squirrels sharing the far corner of the lawn with the rabbits.
I whistle at them through the window. They sit up, trying to find what bad-voiced bird calls at them so. There is also a giant mouse that lives in the wall by the fuse box…and it does not seem afraid of humans. I’ve seen it several times now, even tried to trap it and get it out of the wall because…yeah. A mouse munching through important electrical wires. Yeah.
I’ve read the smell of mint keeps them at bay. I do have catnip sprouting everywhere. Years ago, I got a single plant to delight our cats, when there were cats here. I do mean over ten years or so. Longer. Catnip grows from the corner of the fence closest to the road all the way to the ditch that runs below the small cliff face stuffed full of rodents and snakes that hide beneath rotting boards and rectangles of metal.
Catnip. It’s everywhere. And it smells good. It puts out tiny purple flowers!
The biggest privet hedge hosts several families of small brown birds. Sparrows? Wrens? It’s like an apartment building, except it’s a messy clump of nests smushed together, sometimes with the odd collection of loud-mouthed baby birds demanding snacks.
The blackbirds seem to like the actual trees or the old lilac bush. I keep finding blackbird eggs here and there, with a hole punched through the fragile shell. Some savage bird warfare going on about my oblivious head. Are the blackbirds attacking each other or is it a magpie or some other bird? The magpies have not been around that I’ve heard and oh, they are noisy, raucous presences.
My mother once had one, long ago when she was but a girl, as a pet. It attacked someone, some old family story I cannot quite remember now.
And my grandmother, who had a man come to the house one morning, looking for Mr. Bird. I don’t know where he lives, my grandmother allegedly said, but I do know where Mr. Fox and Mr. Squirrel live. Both were actual names but she was having a little fun with a stranger. I think that stranger probably stormed off, cussing.
I also remember my grandmother watching the rabbits at night when she couldn’t sleep. She even told of watching them play during a brightly lit moon-filled evening.
And watching birds through the window, sitting in her wheelchair, drinking coffee. A big picture window that provided her endless viewing options. The road, the birds, possible stray wildlife strayed in from the sagebrush-cursed hills.
A stump, that had once been a black walnut tree, that stump covered with a board, where bird seed got scattered. This was where her eyes would go, observing whatever showed up for a hasty meal. She had severe arthritis, as did my other grandmother.
I realize I am among the few left who remembers the ‘old stories’. The little moments. The sorrows. The tiny joys.
Farming in a place that has almost no water. The eternal sameness of Christmas traditions that now seem tiresome and stale to me. Because it wasn’t the tree or the presents, it was the people I got to enjoy. How maudlin, but how so horribly true.
I meant to pen a quick little smear about growing pumpkins and the yard rodents. I veered off into Remember When land. I guess that happens on unsettled late spring evenings.
I am languishing a bit, waiting for ‘inspiration’ to tell me to…!
I, meanwhile, work on crap and shit, because I have to claim I’m ‘working on something’ or I lose my cool Writer Street Cred with the other growling, snarling Writers that lurk near my part of the forest.
I have a collection of writings I’d never show anyone. And maybe one day publish under a name not mine and make tons of cash because it’s easily digestible fluff and not angsty, vague, endless examinations of why my parents didn’t really love me. [Are we writers all not, pathetically, Eugene O’Neill on his worst and best days?]
And then I remember someone thought of Sharknado and pitched it and people loved that.
And then howl with despair, inside my head, of course, at the state of my own serious ‘stuff’ and not write anything for the rest of the day. Or feel guilty I’d rather knock out some fluff-n-fold, which won’t advance my career in the least unless I show it to someone who has the power to publish it…if not self-publish it but then I’d have to go back through it all, tidy it up, fill in blanks I left because I wanted to get to the ‘good parts’ and…oh the work load alone. It’s both exciting and terribly not exciting at all.
I have some options for my next Serious Stuff Project.
I can think of something brand new, based on a short story or something I started. Or something yet in my head.
There’s Aftermath, my zombie short story that grew into an actual novella and now waits for me to finish it or call it a day. I left Hannah staring down into a giant crater outside of Boise, Idaho, with wild zombies closing in. I know. Zombie. I know but…well. And like every other god damn zombie blah ever, it’s NOT ABOUT ZOMBIES. It’s a METAPHOR FOR TENTACLE PORN AND ACID-WASHED JEANS and possibly something about politics and feminism and greyhound racing. Zombies, pfft! It’s never about zombies, is it.
There’s the Tales of Beastface Bay, my Wind in the Willows meets Modern Societal Wrongs meets the Marx Brothers rompings. No. I can already feel myself just going nope nope not yet in my head.
I can work on my third book in the trilogy of my House on Clark Boulevard fun. I need to read through the first two. Alice in Oregonlandia might need a reworking…ooooh. Maybe.
Work on my Honest Women full length play. Mm.
Curl up on the floor, in utter despair, at what has happened in a very short time, to America. Drink directly from vodka bottle. Eat a taco of leftover stuff from night before. Continue with this list.
Give up writing altogether and slit wrists. Mm. Maybe.
Take up writing fanfic. Either Watership Down or something in the Barbara Kingsolver area. I could really work the hell out of a Bean Trees/Twilight mashup. And all my characters could be badgers who act like British rabbits. Which would lend nicely to my Beastface Bay squrivvels and scribblings. [Made up word, ten points!]
Actually try to make heads and tales of my fluffy, can’t-show-to-no-one, pennings. Arrange them, put them in order, rewrite the truly awful ones. Fanfic…ahem, um, yes. Sparkly vampire badgers who spout Moliere…oh yes, spank me with a gray tie. [If you get that, we can now be friends.]
Start a new blog, under another name, full of naughty stuff. To see how popular that would be as opposed to my dull, proper plodding blog here. Anne Rice and A. N. Roquelaure, for instance. Maybe I’ve already done that! Ooooooh! [I haven’t, for the record.]
Take up knitting or adult coloring because it’s clear my writing is full blown crap on burned, moldy toast that no one outside of my patient, tolerant friends, would go near.
Take an online course in how to have self-esteem and sell your crap to friends and strangers alike for cash to pay things like bills.
Um…yeah. This has been fun. I should go watch the twirly skaters or stare at the sky, waiting for the snow. It still has not snowed here. I’m flabbergasted and hurt.
What about an earthquake full of bears? Bearquako. And then the sequels! Bearquako, Fists of Bees. Samantha Saves the World, Bearquako III. The Son of Bearquako! And of course, Bearquako, the End? And that has to be a question, because sequels…they sell. The marketing does itself.
Obviously, I have about two maybe good-ish ideas on here for NEXT ACTUAL PROJECT and some silly-Susan kinda wafflings. Wish me luck.
Oh it’s January. Again. It’s very early in the morn. My face is swollen from some infected tooth or perhaps evil spirits sent by Satan. Yes, America is indeed trying, as hard as possible, to return to such times as those. When unseen spirits caused problems and witches sent storms and turned the milk sour. Where church and state were one and the same and the lives of peasants were owned by the nobility…No safety nets, no medical care, no hope at all, really, of anything but hard work and a harder death.
What a sour thought so early in the morn.
Fie upon me for being so overly cynical. And simplistic about the Middle Ages. Fie upon me indeed! For being so overly pessimistic.
It’s by-God and Sunshine-y Jesus and Exploding-Papyrus Osiris– 20- flipping 18. Wheeeee! Unloose the mad dogs of exploding stuff!
It’s also, I understand and gather and so forth, Year of the Dog. Dogs rule and cats drool. Aye, make it so, captain.
I watched some of the Twilight Zone marathon, as you do, when you’re a near shut-in and the thought of OTHERS causes you actual bodily harm. [My face swollen. People did that. That’s how my reasoning works these days.] I had no wish to pour myself into ten year old party clothes [a shirt, some pants] and slither off to a bar. Or slink into some party, with my hair sprayed into place and my smile lopsided. Because my face is swollen and I look like something out of a sideshow right now. Not exactly at my best.
I saw the Invaders, where Samantha’s mom battles tiny aliens. Bewitched, darlings. Endora took on tiny mean aliens! I saw a woman devil, played by Catwoman’s Julie Newmar, with the cutest little horns glued to her head or however hair and makeup did it. Cute little horns!
Oh and the ever-popular one with Captain Kirk and the guy in the gorilla suit. Where the guy in the gorilla suit [a gremlin!] fucks with the airplane wing and Captain Kirk, losing his shit because no one can see this but him, steals a gun, then proceeds to cowboy up and take that gorilla-suited gremlin down town. There is a scary actual moment in that one…when Cap’n K slowly pulls that curtain back from his window and the gremlin is RIGHT FREAKING THERE. We expect it. We jump anyway. Every. Single. Time. Richard Matheson wrote this episode– Fear at Twenty Thousand Feet.
Also, note. You could both smoke on a plane and choose your own comfy-looking seat! Wah! I blame Satan. Satan turned airplane travel into a Medieval torture gauntlet. Satan!
Well, at least if you’re in peasant class. The nobles up front seem to have it made. Ah, if only my parents had been born into the aristocracy! Curse them for their low-class farm genes! I blame Satan. And witches. And Social Justice Warriors. And commies. And liberal judges.
Who are all controlled by Satan.
I also saw the one with the creepy dummy, called, I do so believe, the Dummy. Yes, still on Twilight Zone. Skip this if you’re not a Twilighter. My actual urge toward those wooden things is to beat them to death with an airplane. Then burn whatever’s left because fire kills evil things. Those awful puppet thingies and clowns…here I thought a new year would magically rid me of my not-rational reaction to ventriloquist’s dummies and clowns. Oops. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer also had a dummy episode, in its first season. And aye, mateys, just as damn creepy as the Twilight Zone ep.
I also saw the one [repeat phrasing– I blame Satan] where the nasty family had to put on masks for Mardi Gras. That one. With those rather awful masks and…if you’re even a faint Twilighter, you know this one. I don’t need to do a plot massacre. [Where I badly explain whatever I think happened and then add some nonsense atop that.]
And the overly sweet robot granny one– where she goes back to the granny robot factory when the three kids waltz off to college. I Sing the Body Electric, for those steaming at home because I didn’t name the title yet. Feel better??
Machine Grandmother admits she’ll probably be dismantled for parts…so that’s, um, good, I guess. Ahem. I Sing the Body Electric or something airy-airy in that vein for a title. [I named it twice, grumblers. Take that!] Serling did admit a lot of the eps were crap on toast. Not that one, as granny robot going back to the granny factory still makes me gulp and get uncomfortable notions about just when the toaster will admit it’s conscious and that it has some life advice for yours truly.
Now of course, I didn’t get to watch my all-time fave one, with Talky Tina. Living Doll is the name of that one. Again, if you’re puzzled and making frowny faces– Talking Tina?? What is that??– then you need to stop watching Masterbate Theatre and take in some ‘murican old stuff. Satan probably has you in his thrall, dear.
But I did get to see a rather accurate portrayal of a god– the one where the six year old boy holds everyone around in a sort of terrorized obedience to his every last little whim. Or he’ll punish them if they don’t please him. [What the heck is this broad spluttering on about? It’s still Twilight Zone. I know.]
I also took a lot of over the counter pain killer.
And I might visit the local granny woman for a remedy against the bad spirits living like kings in my face. Hello, 2018.
No resolutions. Nary a one. Why? I’m not going to change. I’m not magically going to turn into some Blazing Supernova who needs an hour of sleep and accomplishes more in her first give minutes than most accomplish ever in the history of ever.
The end of 2018– if I make it that far– will have me more than likely slumped on a couch, in ancient clothes that were never in style, sleep-watching the Twilight Zone marathon on SyFy. Waking up during robot granny hugging the children and assuring them it’s time she goes to a new family. Or that she’ll be sorted for spare parts for other granny robots. Mm. My illusions seem to be slowly wearing away, leaving me a slumped bit of sad bread dough clinging to life’s bowl.
Gather round. Turn the lights off. It’s time for a story…
THE LITTLE VISITORS
Halloween comes around once a year, of course. When the trees turn into dying torches and the nights fill with hollow sighs. I waited in my small living room in my small rented house on Garwood Avenue, in a small neighborhood full of mostly working moms and divorced dads. The house next door has been divided into three small apartments and students rent those, from the nearby small college. Everything here seems small and dingy, from the houses to the college. Someone is trying to change that college into a university, as being called a university seems much more legitimate these funny times we live in, but that is years in the future. A knock sounded on my door. The knock of a child. I grasped my bowl of Dollar Store candy and stood, with my elderly television on mute. I had chosen to watch Cat People, for some reason, perhaps because it was on one of the old movie channels. Val Lewton and shadows.
Standing on my cement step, on my brown and yellow welcome mat, is a small girl dressed as a princess, in a frilly, too-pink dress, with ugly garish plastic and tin foil jewelry and a carrot-red wig that tilts on her head and a cheap-looking tiara that someone should banish to the outer realms. “Trickrtreat,” she whispers, perhaps no more than seven. I see her mother or older sister sitting in the car, clearly wishing this night over and done with. This tiny fake princess holds up a plastic bucket shaped like a pumpkin where candy already waits for her to gobble down in about an hour or so, if not sooner. Tiny miniature candy bars, Tootsie Rolls, lollipops. All store-bought, safe candy for these troubling modern times we live in! She had giant brown eyes someone had lined with black and someone had painted the small lips with bright cherry red.
“Don’t you look great,” I told the girl, who smiled slightly, more a grimace than a smile. She had not quite caught on that she should perform like a trained lab animal to earn her treats. Give some buck for the bang. I drop three eyeballs into her pumpkin, badly wrapped solid chocolate balls. I also gave her four or five hard candies and the princess in training looked at my offering, then at me, then whispered, “Can I have another eye?” I gave her one and she nodded with a solemn resignation that of course she deserved a bit more candy from the skinny little man who had such a messy house. She trotted off, then stopped, at something her mother or sister shouted at her. The princess turned and waved at me and I waved back. She got into the car and they drove to the end of the street. I was their last house here. Off the car went, into the October night. I saw another costumed child slowly walking toward my house, dressed as a cowboy. Right down to the small dingy cowboy hat perched to one side on his head.
I knew him. I had seen him before.
The small cowboy walked slowly, in real cowboy boots, carrying a small pail, a miniature bucket. The wind kicked up, swirling dead leaves from the elm further along, further along. “Tricks or treats,” the small cowboy said, holding out his bucket, meeting my eyes. His eyes never blinked or looked away from me. He wore a leather vest, real leather, and a red shirt tucked into jeans, with small chaps tied just so about his skinny little boy thighs. A smudge of dirt on his pale cheek. And his smell, like just gone over milk. That faint sour smell of corruption.
“Who are you supposed to be?” I asked and the boy never looked away from me with his steady blue-green eyes.
“I’m Little Joe,” the boy said. “He’s my favorite. Do you have any popcorn balls?”
“No, I’m sorry, I don’t. You mean Little Joe from Bonanza?’ I place some hard candies and two of the wrapped eyeballs in his pail. Mine seems to be the only candy he had managed to collect so far and it’s already seven thirty or so. Rather late to still be out.
“Bonanza. That’s it, mister. I really wanted a popcorn ball,” the boy peered down at the piddling Halloween offering, his hair cut brutally short, a near military-like cutting of that stark black hair. This was not a pretty child that would grow up to be a handsome man. Just an ordinary boy with freckles on his rather large nose. Not a sideshow freak kind of big nose, just a nose the kid would have to grow into. A nose with character, as my dad used to say. “Thank you.” And this boy had manners. Someone had taken some trouble to teach him some pleasing ways. I noticed, as I had every time he came to visit me, that the longer he stood there, the more I could see through him. He seemed to dissolve. As if the night slowly devoured him and I was not supposed to notice.
Little Joe wandered off, toward the main street and then he was just gone. My candy lay on the sidewalk and I fetched it, noting the hard candies and balls of wrapped chocolate had been frozen. They burned my skin a bit, being so cold. I stood and looked here and there, but the boy had gone back to wherever he came from.
Back to my house I walked. I waited for more knocks. Someone rapped on my door and my heart beat so hard, so hard. Up I got, and went to answer, finding a tall girl dressed like something out of a Robin Hood movie. She wore green tights, a long green jaunty shirt, and the cap with the feather. She had her hair swept up atop her head and blood trickled down the left side of her face, from a massive wound to her temple. “Hi! Trick or treat!” A big smile, her front teeth snapped off, and I could see the bones of her jaw from yet another wound that had opened the side of her face. She held out a paper sack, such as one might get from a grocery store. There was nothing in it. I dropped my offerings in and she gazed down at the five hard candies and two eyeballs with real dismay, then dredged up a smile, somehow, somehow smiling with her jaw bone exposed. “Gee, mister. You don’t have any apples or cookies?”
Apples or cookies. When no one gave those away these days. No one. “No. Sorry. I can give you some more candy.”
“Sure.” A big smile, her blood-filled eyes sparkling at me. I drop more candy in and she beams down politely, then thanks me and floats off into the night. I clearly hear that candy I gave her spatter on the pavement. Where she has gone, the candy cannot go. They want the good treats they had in their day. Where people baked homemade cookies and shaped popcorn into sticky balls and bought lots of apples to give away to the visiting little goblins each year. They had not lived through the stories of razor blades in apples or the poisoned cookies or that people poisoned their homemade treats…there were stories galore but no actual real proof that a swathe of the adult population were in fact out to kill all children at Halloween. Fear, however, runs the lives of Americans, not facts or logic.
A car cruises slowly about five houses down. The last stragglers of this year’s candy festival. I close my door, wondering how many more other little visitors I’ll get tonight. They don’t seem to visit anyone else. I am not great friends or that friendly with my neighbors; we generally genially ignore each other and nod at each other if we make eye contact. I keep to myself and I work. As the neighbors do. We keep our heads down and hope our cars keep running and we don’t get cancer. We vote once in a while and moan a lot. I occasionally head off to the Long Horn, a small dive bar where I can get a beer somewhat cheaply and get my ear talked off by the lonely old veteran who seems to think no one is any good anymore. There’s no goodness left in the world, none, he says to me over and over and over. I watch my muted television set as the woman who turns into a leopard struggles to fight her actual nature.
I wait for them to come to my door.
I heard the rustle of a costume and the whispers of a mother telling the child to knock, go ahead, like the others. I sigh, my air pushed out of me by my exhausted lungs. Surely they’re tired of sour air and contracting over and over and over. Bang bang bang.
A small boy dressed as a vampire, with a cape and fake teeth that keep slipping. “Twick treat,” the boy barked like a seal at me and I smiled, his mother just behind him wearing a black sweater infected with cheerful flat pumpkins. Her eyes held a tiredness all our eyes seem to hold now. The vampire held up a plastic green bucket three-fourths full of candy.
“Great costume, sir,” I said and the boy, with giant dark eyes, makes a face at this stranger trying to be funny. I’m not funny so my efforts in comedy should never be encouraged. “Here ya go!” I give him the remaining chocolate eyeballs and two hard candies. He grins.
“Look, mom! Eyes! Cool!” So the kids these days are still using phrases from the Fifties. Cool.
“I see that, dear,” the mom said with that perfect tired mom voice, that managed to be both nice and exhausted. She probably had to go home and get ready for a graveyard shift somewhere cleaning something or watching over old people or the disabled. “What do you say, Wyatt?”
A vampire named Wyatt? Oh no no. I bit at my lips to stop myself giving a truly foul giggle. Wyatt looked at me. He smelled like soap and cheap candy. “Thanks, mister!”
“You’re welcome, Wyatt.” I told him and his mother in her infected sweater. Had anyone told her pumpkins were catching? They both nodded at me and both turned to go to her elderly pickup. A big dent in the driver’s side. Off she drove, no doubt heading off for their home, probably a small apartment she could barely make rent on.
I went back in, shut my door. I only had hard candies left for any latecomers to the Halloween festivities. The wind made the leaves noisy. I sat in my easy chair with the sound very low, most of my lights turned off, waiting perhaps for zombies to try and get in. I had watched Night of the Living Dead near Halloween one year and had actually managed to give myself the willies. All of the lights turned off, a windy night. I heard zombies all night. Sometimes my imagination is not my friend. Perhaps that’s all this was. The strange yearly visitors. Just me perhaps having some sort of mental breakdown right on cue around the end of October. After all, ghosts were not real.
An hour, the movie ended with the lady who turned into a giant cat dead. Next came the sequel, which I’d never seen and had never heard of. Revenge of the Cat People. I waited.
A knock at my door.
I could hear a bit of rain now, on the windows that let out so much heat. Who was out so late on a rainy Halloween night? I had the notion to just let them knock and knock until they got tired and went away. My seven or so remaining hard candies huddled in the bottom of my white plastic bowl.
Twin clowns gazed up at me, through garish, too-bright greasy makeup. Both wore rainbow-hued wigs. The girl wore a big purple suit with a fake plastic pink flower on her breast. The boy wore a plaid hobo outfit. They wordlessly held up their little bags, paper sacks with Harbottle’s stamped on them. That store had gone out of business over thirty years ago. I had gone there with my own mother who had liked to finger their selection of fabrics whenever she got a notion to sew something. Both sacks held nothing but some traces of dirt. I smiled and dropped my remaining sad remnants into their bags. These two never spoke, a brother and sister who seemed stamped from the same twin factory. The boy’s face sometimes showed bone and torn away cheek, the girl’s sometimes showed her head caved in. Tonight they were just twin clowns. They solemnly looked down into their bags, with actual disappointment and then looked at me, with actual sorrow.
“A minute. I might have something else. Just a minute.” I got my bag of cheap Oreo knockoffs I’d gotten at the Dollar Store and when I came back to my open door, the two were still there. I had expected them to vanish. “You can share these.” I had not opened the package. I put them in the little girl clown’s bag. Both regarded my offering of cookies and then me, their eyes the same flat blue. Both nodded, waved at me and then turned to return to wherever they had come from. No car, or pickup, no waiting parent or elder brother or sister or aunt or grandparent. Just the slightly rainy night, the chill of the season trying to get ready for winter. I watched them walk off into the dark and wondered who watched over them and who had let them wander about, alone.
I wondered who had let dead children come trick or treating. I wondered that a lot.
Howdy. Hello there. No, I’m not taking on either movies or television today, dear readers, friends, passerbys and assorted other nice people. I am in full promote mode! Oh yes!! I will be a shameless barker of my works, because who else is going to champion said works?? Exactly!!
It’s been available for a bit as an e-book. And you can also get THE HOUSE ON CLARK BOULEVARD in paperback!!
Yours truly took herself to the movies this week. I saw It, the horror film based on Stephen King’s gigantic, sprawling ode to childhood and some other stuff.
I promise not to give away the ending. Those seven kids walk through this closet and have to fight Aslan for ultimate control of Narnia. Whoops.
Okay, if you’re a Steve King fan, you’ve read this novel and have probably seen the television miniseries with Tim freaking Curry as Pennywise.
Good for you! I, too, have both read and seen those. I’ve read It more than once. Because I compulsively read books over and over. Now you know something about me.
So!! This new adaptation. Or remake. Or gritty reboot. Mm. Ahem.
From the opening scenes of Georgie, little brother to Bill, the MAIN CHARACTER, and the paper boat racing along the flood of destiny, we’re SUCKED IN to this world seen from mostly the children’s POV. The cussing, the kid subjects they find fascinating, the fearlessness, the camaraderie in the face of absolute evil…! The grownups seem misty and surreal, which works here. We kind of get why a kid in a rainstorm would talk to a flipping CLOWN in a drain.
I don’t get it, however, because I find clowns fucking scary. They freak me out. I’d never…okay. Which is a problem I had with It, the novel and It, the subsequent visual realizations of said novel.
It’s too on the nose scary in the 2017 film version. It’s obvious. Too obvious, for my esoteric tastes. It starts off as OMG SCARY SAVE ME BABY JESUS and there’s nowhere to go from there. It’s rather static. You can’t keep pissing your pants if you piss them right at the start of the movie, to be blunt and gross. Other reviewers and wiseacres have also mentioned the problems with the clown. It’s not just me.
And…every time Pennywise sticks around longer than ten seconds, we see the zipper up the back of the costume, to quote from King’s Danse Macabre. Which is a shout-out to those old, creaky monster movies from the Atomic Age. Godzilla to Them! to the Mole People. If you have no idea what any of those three things mentioned are…JUST GO AWAY. Ser’sly. Buh bye. Go watch Memento again, you squirrelly assmunch. Yeah, I’m a wee bit hostile.
I’m aware that It, the clown critter, is mostly CGI. It’s neato. Pennywise is far more frightening when it’s just that Skarsgard dude in clown makeup…that is one talented family.
But what I’m ACTUALLY wondering is how that damn clown fools any of those kids into following it anywhere or why a kid would let that thing close enough to grab him or her or them…after all, predators of children are not the scary monsters that Pennywise is. Side note– most kids get molested or harmed or killed by someone they know. We can’t teach Grandpa Danger, after all…
Kids are totally into monsters and avoiding them, after all. It’s called being a kid. Imagination plus knowing, without a doubt, that that shadow in the closet waits until you’re asleep before it stands over you, breathing. Breathing. As the novel does get into– kids have absolute faith. That moment in the novel King penned where young Stan screams the names of birds to banish the monster into the shadows again and it works. That’s the power of faith manifested through a child’s absolute belief that the right words will make the bad stuff go away. Abracadabra.
Where is the seduction from Pennywise? We don’t see it. It doesn’t exist. I was thinking, how stupid are those Maine schoolkids to fall for that obvious craptoad Pennywise? I haven’t read the book for a while, so forgive me for this. But I REMEMBER the clown/It being far more subtle. It didn’t start out at TEN, it began working on victims further down the scale, more at a two or three level. That clown [the creature that inhabits Derry, Maine] had fun with its victims, it didn’t go for the jugular right away like a rabid weasel. At least, that’s what I remember.
Now, granted, the year/s this all took place got upgraded to the late nineties. We went from the fifties in the original book to the time of Bill Clinton and the Backstreet Boys.
There’s a cute little flirty thing in the movie involving Beverly, resident perceived slutchild, and Ben, resident fatboy, about the Backstreet Boys. Or maybe it was New Kids on the Block or…ugh. It was genuinely something kids would do. It’s little moments like that that actually make this film a far better country that it has a right to be. Those little interactions that seem to rise naturally and organically from the story and surroundings…I know, shh. I’m being a pretentious snickerdoodle. Okay.
Oh, the Losers Club is made up of the stereotypical losers from any random school/small town. The nerds, the geeks, the fat kid, the kid that doesn’t fit in, the differently colored kid, the girl everyone thinks enjoys gang bangs, the four-eyed unfortunate sons of genetics gone wrong, the sickly, the weak, the losers. And, of course, they’re all great kids who contribute in some way to HOW TO FIGHT THE MONSTER. The leader, the builder, the navigator, the…these kids could build dams, do research, make connections Sherlock Holmes would have made…!
At least, in the book they were presented as such. I kinda wish more of their talents and gifts had been included in the movie, so as to show why these normal kids could face down an ancient monster clown thingie. There’s bits and pieces but still. It’s rather like the complaint about the magic weapons in LOTR. How come, like, three people can fight off the gazillions of orcs and goblins? It was all laid out in the books but not so much in the movies…okay.
Oh. So. The other MAIN OBJECTION I formed to this film was…the last part of it. Where an ugly little Scary Movie Staple raised its Ugly Little Head.
That would be Woman in Peril.
[the following contains slight spoilers!!]
I’m sitting there, enjoying this movie, wondering why those various other kids follow that damn clown to their doom and did I miss the part where maybe It is using hypnosis or some other machination when…the only girl, Beverly Marsh, in the Band of Losers…gets treated to the ace of Girlcrap in the Scary Movie Deck of Bullshit Cards. Fuck me running!
Beverly, newly on her period, the focus of several cute-ish crushes from her new collection of friends, gets to be an actual fighter and smartie pants for most of the movie. She’s a tough cookie, she smokes, she wallops the bejesus out of…yeah. Just as she was in the book…ahem. And then, yeah. She has this epic fight in her apartment– I won’t go into it because SPOILERS– and the outcome is…SHE’S JUST ANOTHER VICTIM who needs SAVING by the Losers, all boys except for her!!!! who UNITE after a fight amongst themselves…to maybe SAVE BEVERLY FROM THE BAD CLOWN.
Fuck. No, just no. I about came out of my skin. Good day, I tell ya, good day!
I was disappointed with the downswing this movie seemed to take with Beverly’s direction/purpose/character arc. I expected more. It also seemed that third act/building to the showdown seemed…voted on by a committee of advertising reps trying to sell Summer’s Eve products. I expect such woman-in-peril shenanigans from every other horror/thriller/indie/art house/whatever movie on the planet but…sometimes you dream big. You hope gigantically that, maybe this time…it will be different.
There’s also a passage in the book that troubles many, including me. If you already know what that is, well, let’s just say…eh, Steve? What the Cheez Doodles? If you don’t know, go read the book because that passage gets left out…yeah. It’s where they’re in the kid phase of life yet, are disoriented in those sewer tunnels and…! Ahem. But it involved the only girl and it was…iffy. That’s as polite as I can get.
So, yeah, I do recommend this movie. So few actual good solid horror movies float to that swamp’s surface. The horror movies dreckfest swamp, located somewhere between Plan 9 From Outer Space and Annabelle, The Doll That Never Gains Weight. Or whatever the newest Annabelle movie is. What floats to the top would be the original Exorcist, the original Night of the Living Dead and Audition, for instance. Your list will be different than my list of what a ‘good’ horror film is. And that’s okay. For now.
It, the film, the movie, the entertainment juggernaut, has flaws. The clown is too on the nose, for my tastes and the descent into WOMEN IN HORROR FILMS same ole same ole treatment presents some major head-scratching from moi. But it also inspires me to write better heroines who can save themselves. Wootie woot.
To conclude, It was a fine, eh, flawed, eh, goddamn clowns don’t need to be scarier, you fucknuts…entry in the horror field. The previews sucked balls, except for the Stars Wars one. [Shut UP.]
Oh and stop turning women in horror films into damsels in distress, for the love of unicorns and manatees. I don’t care if you couldn’t think of a better third act. Jesus said, in the Gospels, do not fall back on tired Damsel in Distress mode when thou writeth a screenplay involving clowns.
It’s in the new, updated Bible. The one Conservadepia is not working on, by the way.
Here endeth my scholarly film dissection.
Oh, I’m going to write next about AHS:Clowns Fuck In My Supermarket and All I Can Do Is Scream. Which the producers shortened to Cult. It won’t be as long as my It novella.
An Afterthought– nope, not gonna apologize for another post. Nope nope nope! #NotSorry #ClownsRTheNuZombies
Oh I wrote a rambling, first draft, ode to my ‘villain’. I did, I did. I got into how women are portrayed in horror films and scary books. Which in fact does color House on Clark Boulevard’sNancy.
I’ll try again and try to keep my viciously messy thoughts viciously focused on viciously vicious Mr. Blue. All those sibilants! Oh and a bit more about Nancy! Go #TeamNancy!
I wrote HOCB after a pretty awful summer. Just take my word for it. I just sat at my battered ancient PC and wrote. No outline, no idea where this one was going. Just that rather pedestrian title and not much more than a need to drown out the real world.
I let the words form into somewhat coherent sentences, paragraphs and entire pages as they wished. A young wife and mother, in the seventies, dealing with ghosts. I didn’t try to burn the world down with my prose. [God forbid.] I just wrote. If you’re a writer, you get that. Sometimes you just write.
You’re not trying to make a point or come up with themes or miffed about the economic realities of eighteen year olds…you’re just writing. The same as when you’re just breathing, it’s just breathing.
Nancy, a’course, is based somewhat [like, totally] on my own mother. Who would no more have run about screaming in headless chicken fashion over a ghost than not make gravy from a roast. I borrowed that pragmatic, can-do, actual pioneer spirit– my great-grandmother traveled to the West in an actual covered wagon…and gave it to my heroine/main character Nancy.
However…I became infected with the notion that Nancy needs a Loki. I had another rant in my first draft of Mr. Blue’s Blues about how villains are more charismatic and fully fleshed characters than heroes, hence the Loki reference.
After all, she can’t spend X amount of pages vacuuming, cooking turkeys–there are two holidays at the end of the American year– Turkey Day and Presents!– and trying to get her youngest to use the toilet like daddy does, all while sort of ignoring the little and large ghosties bothering her and trying to get her attention. [I’d totally read a novel like that, but I am a unique snowflake!]
So, Mr. Blue crept into my narrative.
That name just strolled from my artistic shadows and took an opening bow. Mr. Blue. Who was he and why was Nancy more concerned about this cat than the tea party little girl ghost or the rolling things or the floating eyes? I find that asking myself questions helps stumble the story forward a bit toward some vague end. Yay!
I offered no origin story. There isn’t one. It was not important to the story. Mostly because, gulp. Actual author confession here– I don’t know what it is yet. I have an idea and no, he’s not a ghost or some remnant from some murder or…no. He’s SOMETHING ELSE. But that’s for the third book, now in progress. I just plopped him down into Nancy’s tale as her antagonist. One of them.
Mr. Blue expects our Nance to act a CERTAIN WAY. The expected female hysterics. The running around in her undies and tripping over rocks trope. After all, we’re led to believe all his other seductions have been successful. That he has managed to get other women to–
Nope, you have to read the book to find out what Mr. Blue wants Nancy to do. I’m a PR genius here! I leave out bits of info to tweak your interest! Available September 22!! I will post links!!
Why won’t Nancy straighten up and act like women are supposed to act? Scaredy-cats, easily led, easily seduced into X,Y or Z. Eve and the Apple! It’s right there, in the damn Bible, women are stoooooopid and must be utterly locked up or else they fuck snakes or something. Anyway!
I read where that snake in the Garden of Eden can also stand in for a penis…so Eve was a slut, too. Ouch.
There’s also that major question as to why people in haunted houses won’t leave. Mostly it comes down to financial reasons. The Amityville Horror tale, for instance. That family stayed because they had no money to go elsewhere. People buy some big beautiful house and then whango, it’s full of evil ghosts trying to kill them!
Every. Fricking. Time! American Horror Story exploits this one for fun and profit. That first season, Murder House. Then the AHS/Roanoke one. Dark Water, both versions. The Conjuring. Mama. The Shining. The Legend of Hell House. Beetlejuice. Burnt Offerings. Oh there’s giant lists of haunted house movies, novels and the like.
The moral is– buy ugly small houses, folks. Ghosts don’t live in shacks and low-rent eyesores. A crumbling castle, sure! It’s still a castle! Geez, does nobody pay attention anymore?? [They probably do. I’m not trying to throw shade at where ghosts take up residences. Just being mildly sarcastic on a Sunday afternoon. Okay, ghosts who live in shacks and low-rent eyesores? We good here?]
Nancy has almost no say in where she lives. That’s due to her own conditioning and training by her own mother and society and…!
So Nancy has to stay put and do the best she can with what she has. And she does! Because I find women are highly resourceful, clever, able to juggle twenty thousand things at the same time while juggling forty thousand other things and…yep.
There’s a hidden world of women as I touched on a bit in the novel. The face women show men, and the faces they show each other. That Margaret Atwood quote– men fear women will laugh at them, women fear men will kill them. That rings so fricking true, you just start nodding your head. Yep yep yep. If you’re female, that is. You just nod your head when you read that, you get it at the very level of your guts where it’s always fight or flight. Except for women, it’s hunker down or maybe find yourself dead if you act the wrong way at the wrong time. That careful read the emotional weather of those around you that women get trained to do…even the Wonder Women’s and the Ripley’s and the Sarah Connor’s and those women not fictional or battling monsters in their armor and underwear.
I watched my own grandmother do this. That careful politeness when the men were present, the raunchy giggler when the men were not present. The two faces of Eve. Indeed. Women don’t tell their real stories and the voices of women have been largely silent except for a few odd lady writers who ‘bucked’ the system. We censor our stories, we women. We ‘nice’ them up for the men and for each other. Silence and omissions and going along so the men don’t get upset, so we don’t upset ourselves and admit icky things that are in plain sight but which we politely ignore. Taking out this or that because it’s ‘too much’. Uh huh.
Nancy fights back against Mr. Blue and the ghosts because not doing so goes against her nature.
Mr. Blue expects her to fold like a cheap folding chair. Will she fold? Read the book to find out!
Nancy is also a version of Little Red Riding Hood. She knows not to leave the path. She wants to be that ‘normal good girl’ she has been told she wants to be. That it doesn’t quite gel with her actual character, well. I also think that’s part of her resistance to Mr. Blue‘s attempts to mold her and shape her. She can’t go against what she’s been taught but she can rebel against some ‘other’ outside of the realm of her tiny world. That she can do. With real relish and glee.
Which confounds poor Mr. Blue and makes him a bit blue and determined to get what he wants…nope, gonna have to read the book!