Hell-o, Halloween

Halloween display, Meridian, Idaho, 2019. Can’t find who to credit this with.

Welp, had to drive to work yesterday in fog so dense I nearly drove off the road, twice. Fun.

It finally rained here in Oregon East. An actual rain. We plunged into near winter temps! It might snow in the valleys! Nah, not yet but winter wants to pounce.

I want to enjoy Halloween and all its orange, black and sparkly glory, but the American midterm elections throw a giant moist pall over everything. Moister than moist. Dripping wet with racism, sexism, fascism and all the other crappy isms imaginable and then some. Who is taking all these polls? It does not seem to reflect anything but what is expected– that the Gross Old Perverts sweep everything and Biden gets made to look like a doddering, shitting himself in public, gibbering fool. Um? And yet so many people registering to vote and yet…mmm.

I just want this all over so I can start breathing again and plan accordingly. Do I still live in a ‘free’ country or do I have to practice my salutes, wave a flag with savage frantic grins plastered across my frozen face? Shout randomly, in public, about eagles and freedom and no more open borders? We don’t have open borders, what the fuck is that noise?

Idaho, by the way, is almost an Ida-don’t go there, stay away, avoid avoid avoid. We do have scary states here in ‘murica and that is becoming one of the scariest.

The Aryan Nations that used to be a joke, who used to live under rocks and only appear if you whispered something overtly racist near an open sewer…have now virtually taken over that state. It’s sad and tragic and awful. Aryan Nations meets QAnon nonsense, has weird disgustingly awful sex, produces a mutant baby and here we are!

And my state, by the way, has a trumpian Gross Old Pervert running for guvvie. I just. No. No!

I do have scary movies lined up, as the midterms causes eye twitches, drooling, screaming when a leaf drops from a tree too near me. It’s tense here, y’all. Tense. Golly, vote for sane people or batshit trumpfucks? I mean no offense to actual bats, who just wish to live their bat lives in peace.

I have had a few acceptances roll my way, but mostly, lately, it’s been rejection city. Sigh.

Need to sacrifice something to Satan, I guess. Maybe he’ll accept an IOU? Will hand over the flies stuck to the fly strip. They’re already dead and am just gonna toss that strip otherwise. Why be wasteful? Satan? Hello?

It’s Happy Month

Artwork for the Abominable Dr. Phibes movie.

Oh, my fellow babies and compatriots for this thing called life– it’s the happiest month of the year. For me. Cause. Halloween.

Pumpkins. Pumpkin patches.

Ghosts and goblins and ghouls, oh my.

Creaky vampire movies with capes and crosses.

American Werewolf in London time!

The weather cooling the frack down.

The Halloween baking competition with its black garlic cupcakes and four-layer oozing lime basil cake with Italian buttercream something or other. Make entire scary scenes from cake, pumpkins, rice crispy treats and sugar work!

Oh yes, oh please, amen.

I have pumpkins about ready to be plucked. I have gourds. I want to make bread.

I feel energized and ready to watch scary movies with all the lights off.

I have the original Night of the Living Dead tucked away. There’s a compulsion within to find the DVD and WATCH IT the old-fashioned way. On my television through a DVD player. No streaming. No computer involved. Old-fashioned out the disc in, push play when prompted. With a big cup of ho-cho in hand.

Of course, it’s still rather hot here in the day. The nights have cooled off a bit. I now need at least a blanket. Kitters has even taken to napping a bit on me so it must be getting cold outside or she misses me as I’ve been working. I call my cat Kitters, though her official name is Jaws. As she showed up with a broken jaw a couple Halloween’s ago.

So. I hope TCM shows horror movies I’d like to watch. I hope hope hope they show the Abominable Dr. Phibes, with Vincent Price. Where he speaks only through a record. It’s so acid-trippy, weird and satisfying. I’m so glad no one has ever tried to remake this one. Why would you? It’s perfection. From that first scene with the bats to the bitter, bitter end. Dang. And there’s sequels, which I hear, are not as good but still. I will also probably watch the silent Swedish made up documentary on witches, because it’s just so good. Haxan or something like that. 1923 or hereabouts. It’s on Youtube. As are a lot of silent horror movies. Like M or the Cabinet of Dr. Caligaleri. [Spelling?]

Halloween month. It’s the happiest month of the year for me. From baking to horror movies I’ve seen a gazillion times already to new horror films I might discover. I do like discovering some offbeat, nobody’s heard of it, frightfest. Like the Blood on Satan’s Claw [Satanic children, 70’s] Or even something like Only Lovers Left Alive, with Tom Hiddleston as a mopey vampire. It’s a gorgeous film, by Jim Jarmusch, and also boasts a sparkly performance by Tilda Swinton. It’s as slow as frozen molasses and it’s not so much a horror movie as a test of your patience but hey, it might hit a sweet spot or two.

Hey, speaking of Halloween and spooky stuff and scary things…I have two recent novels out that deal with zombies and cannibal bikers. Yay!

Aftermath: Boise, Idaho— where Hannah kills herself to escape death by zombie horde only to wake up in a world run by sentient zombies.

There’s also The Remarkable Women of Brokenheart Lane, where three elderly sisters hiding out in a small Nevada town after a catastrophic world war nuclear event, become embroiled with the decimated cannibal biker gang that’s limped into Fallon.

There’s also Oregon Gothic. The opening tale, Bailey, is about what a real vampire is like and the costs of thwarting that vampire’s will. There’s also the necrophilia-smeared love story of Prince Charming Finds His Sleeping Beauty, which will be in an anthology coming out this year.

Halloween month. Pure joy filling my soul right now. Just pure happy wonderful joy.

Road Trip

My one sunflower. It regally lives among the ever-spreading squash plants.

September. It’s almost over. The weather here is finally cooling a bit. I’ve rescued the same toads from the dog pool many mornings now. The big one that squeaks at me if I handle it too much, the smaller ones that pretended they were frogs, so I’d leave them alone. That was when the water levels were much higher. I dug a giant hole to put the rubber tub into, and it has this valve that keeps turning so all the water leaks out. Why would you put such a valve into a tub designed to hold water? Oh sure, to drain it but still. It’s entirely too easy to brush against it and turn it the wrong way. I blame liberals for this. Is that how that works?

Snark, sarcasm and hissing gently from the shadows. That’s me!

Job? I don’t know. Nobody cares so let’s move on.

Road trip. I am going to go to Mountain Home, Id-eee-ho, for a literary event. I know!! It’s for the Whistle Pig Literary Magazine launch, held this year at the Mountain Home library. I even got myself a hotel room so I wouldn’t have that long drive back, in the dark, with the extra bright lights in my eyes. I probably need to go see the eye doctor about that…yikes.

Or just deal with it because, hey, who has insurance?

Rimshot! I’ll be here all week, try the chicken.

My story for the Whistle Pig is called Lovesmoke. I based it off a short play I wrote ages ago, about a nearly mute man who’s in love with his brother’s girlfriend. She just wants to get married, have a normal life as her boyfriend is about to lose everything due to bad cattle prices and the bottom falling out of that market. The brother in love goes about collecting rocks and such to sell at the various festivals in and around the Western states. If you’ve ever been to small town festivals, with booths– that’s the type of person Salinas is.

In my prose version, I set it in Weiser, Idaho, with the about to lose everything brother having already run off and the other brother crossing the Rubicon, so to speak, by declaring his love for Lily. It’s bittersweet and it seemed to write itself, once I found that balance between manipulative monster versus clumsy overtures of affection toward another. I sort of blended the two extremes of puppet master and hopelessly bad at romance tropes, so to speak. That happy medium? Eh.

I did play with having them end up together but it just didn’t gel, it just didn’t flow, it just didn’t…yeah.

Rewrote a short story in the last couple days, turned it from vague woman-empowered claptrap to murderous psycho monster baby claptrap. Wheee!!!! I also realized my lead character is the least of my three in that story. I need to, ahem, punch her up a bit. Or not. I also need to look at the ending. It might be awful or okay, depends on mood, weather, snack consumption and coffee levels. The title also needs changing. Willa and the Mist to perhaps Baby Lamb or The Graveyard Baby or something equally provocative. Two On A Meat Hook? I’d have to add a meat hook. Dang it!

I’ve been reworking short stories that keep getting rejected. It keeps me busy and out of prison, so that’s good.

That’s it.

Oh, for those panting to know– I have pumpkins. I also have three giant gourds growing away. I’m so excited! I researched and it said to wait for first frost to collect them. We are nowhere near a first frost. I’m also watching the pumpkins closely, looking for that all-over orange color. Still a bit green underneath. Small sugar pumpkins, for pies but still so gorgeous. I do love the color orange.

Halloween is close. I have a happy feeling somewhere close by. And then the drudge and stress of the ‘holidays’. All those damn turkeys to bake. God damn it. I’m already sick and tired of turkey. I just want to buy a bunch of frozen dinners, call it good from here until next January. Want a fancy meal? Here ya go– Hungry Man Salisbury steak!

Oh my, I should adjust accordingly, eh? Holiday season hasn’t even officially started yet. Not until Hallmark starts constant Christmas movie rotation BEFORE HALLOWEEN USUALLY. Notice that?? I noticed that last year. Syrupy cookie cutter movies that bring numbness and a sort of Zen blankness if you watch too many in a row. Lifetime, also, has a host of these things.

And the Halloween Baking contest is back. Happiness is oozing icing the color of infected flesh dripping down over a rotted pumpkin face chocolate cake. Or pies with top crusts that look like tortured human faces. Happiness and bliss.

Rainy Day

A rainy day here in Eastern Oregon. Everything is hushed. The tractors and harvesters are idle machines today, as the mud and goo of the ground promises to hold fast anything that dares roll with foolish confidence out into a field.

My cat has discovered the live trap. She cannot hurt anything caught within it. Or play with it, whatever her intent is here I cannot say. I keep her well fed but she is a cat. The dogs seem indifferent to any mice in the house. I’ve seen them ignore rodents as hard as possible if the rodents happen to dart across the floor. There are fields in all four directions, plus a rural setting. We has the mouses! However, once outside, the dogs are ferocious mouse hunters and will spend an hour digging a giant hole to go after one.

I have yet to make it through Dune. Space cocaine squabbles. Ugh. Is it okay to admit I just start snickering at the somber tone, at how ‘acty’ everyone is and hey, is that Jason Momoa?? I’ll just watch Aquaman, again. Yeah.

Some recent acceptances of short stories.

The Witch of the Highway, by World of Myth: https://jayzohub.com/jayzomon/jayzomodcast/the_world_of_myth_bits/channel/153.html?fbclid=IwAR0VglCaKHOPfxO0szkqtlCUOJSj_Ei7DlFi-xyWB502D1p93qEmYqa9Zpw

Blood and Bread, by Hellbound Books. It will be in Toilet Zone 3, The Royal Flush, due next year, I think.

And of course, if you have not already, go vote for my the Cherry of Her Lips. It’s a retelling of the Snow White tale, with the stepmother a witch in hiding, and the pretty daughter a demon/monster. The two are more allies than enemies, and both are forced to show their real faces to the world around them.

Brigit wants you to vote. Yes, she does!

Awesome Possum Squad

I turned the HBO back on, to watch a supervillains as antiheroes/heroes movie. That would be James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. Rock me, Amadeus!

Also? No spoilers.

I’d heard ‘good things’ about this one. That it had a story, for one. That it was gloriously, unabashedly violent, for adults, funny, and yes, a bit sad at times. What?? It’s not a muddled mess of dark mopey superbeings muttering cliches? WTF, Batman? He was not in this, by the way. It’s the same universe, which is not Marvel. Gold star for me, right? Right?

We have a different-ish group of Suicide Squadders this time around but there are leftovers from the other 2016 movie. Like Boomerang, Harley Quinn, and can’t recall another one. There’s brand new squadders, such as TDK, Weasel, Savant, some guy with a javelin[Javelin!], an orange-faced girl [Mongal], that guy from SNL’s villain [Blackguard]. We also have Peacemaker, the shark man, rat girl, Idris Elba as Bloodsport. Oh and Colonel Flag is back, too, but his girlfriend seems very absent. The one who had the sorceress inside her? M’kay.

And Polka Dot man, who throws outer space polka dots at people, which turn them into rather gross objects of blood, bone and drippy flesh. I do mean gross. Really gross.

So, Viola Davis, evil incarnate supreme and soft-voiced mistress of pain archetype, sends a big slug of supervillains to this island to erase some science experiment that might blah blah blah the rest of the world if it gets out. Standard superhero movie plot, sure. But it’s twisty! Oh yeah. And the monster is both funny and terrifying…so well done on that front. There’s always a monster, come on, kiddos.

Also, visually, we get announcements of what’s going on or about to happen next composed of stuff in the scene. Like seaweed on the beach announcing the time is now or smoke forming the words it’s eight minutes ago or roots spelling out we’re about to deal with Harley. I thought that obvious artifice worked very well, had a smooth transitional momentum to it. It could have been annoying or too cutesy but it just was not.

Overall, this was a good time. It didn’t really let up. Actions led to consequences. Elba’s Bloodsport had a real fear of rats, yet he has to face that fear in a battle. Weasel could not swim and spent most of the movie laying on the beach probably drowned. Probably. Tiny spoiler? Sorry! Harley Quinn was perfection. She was what I want Wonder Woman to be. Kind of a fearless maniac…maybe not. Maybe?? Watching HQ gonzo her way out of the mansion full of dictator-wannabes just made my millennium. And her heartfelt hug of Flag, ah! Maybe Diana can take her aside, compare some notes? Same universe. Oh my gosh, a HQ/WW battle. Let’s do this!

I really don’t have too many criticisms of this. It’s violently fun, you actually care about these misfits, you might even laugh here and there, it doesn’t seem to have that dark dreary undertone that just makes you roll your eyes anymore, and it seems a manageable chunk of a movie, not a bloated  vanity project using source material about three people have read.

Did I mention John Cena yet? Cause he was awesome possum sauce. How’s that for critical analysis? You’re welcome. His rivalry with Bloodsport, bwhahahaha…until it wasn’t funny. What? An arc? I know!

I also felt, deep in my heart, that the actors really enjoyed themselves making this one. And that joy translated to some pretty solid turns from the players in this operatic, over the top, colorful, violent romp. It was satisfying. I felt very smiley nearly the whole time watching this. Like, hey, they got one right! Look at this thing! I can stop thinking about my country swirling down a large orange toilet and enjoy HQ kicking the shit out of those who think her just some dumb broad with a pretty face. I don’t have to consider how no one who’s got an R by their name never seems to suffer any consequences for anything, including fucking treason as I observe Idris Elba have a scream fight with his daughter that’s both funny and a bit too real. I’ve had a version of this fight. Dang.

It’s a movie that allows reality to be suspended. To slip into this universe where…oh damn, good is still a slippery concept. And oh my goodness, King Shark playing with those Muppet-like jellyfish thingies! Yes! Oh no, jellyfish thingies…oh dear. This movie has layers? This movie has layers, y’all!

What more could you want from a supervillains used to save the world popcorn flick? Not much, really.

Idris Elba as Bloodsport
Viola Davis as Amanda Waller
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn

Shrew Taming

Richard Burton and Liz Taylor, in the Taming of the Shrew. Wheee! I’ve never seen it. I know the play. It was Richard Burton day on TCM. That’s right, basic cable, snobs. Shh. I feel very defensive that I’m not streaming EVERYTHING THERE IS TO STREAM.

So! It’s on later, almost nine in the evening. So late! It’s humid, why not stay up and gaze at a real life married couple [they were doing okay when the movie was made in 1967] chewing the scenery in perhaps one of Bill’s most problematic of plays. After all, it’s about ‘taming’ a woman until she acts like her dead houseplant of a sister. Much Ado About Nothing had a sister accused of dallying with another, her word not believed and she had to ‘die’ before she could be ‘clean and good’ again. Fuck me, that shit never dies or goes away, does it?

Directed by Franco Zeffirelli, filmed in Italy. This movie looks gorgeous. Just gorgeous. Lush rich jewel colors. Rust, hunter green, sapphire, golden-brown, deep lovely reds…oh my. The costumes were modeled off clothing from that time period. Yummy scrummy decadent lush seductive fabrics that invite touch and admiring eyes! Yes, I’m avoiding getting to why I quit an hour in.

Elizabeth Taylor as Katerina

I quit an hour into this thing.

Now, Richard Burton, who was a Shakespeare wiz, is clearly comfortable and at home in these wordy worlds. That trained voice hits the ears just so, that manly presence bursts with commanding manliness and hairy-chested alpha king wolf snap. He raises that voice a bit, the other men flatten down like mice before a magnificent barn cat. Clearly, he’s destined to tame many a wild wench. You also feel a bit on edge when Burton appears in a scene. What the hell is he gonna do? You want to watch him. If only. If only Kate, or Elizabeth Taylor, had been doing something other than her Martha parody from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? turn.


Before we meet our Petruchio, we meet Kate or Katerina. Fuck. Just…fuck no. She’s throwing a tantrum, like a toddler in the candy aisle. She’s physically and verbally abusive to one and all and hey, she just needs a good penis to show her who’s boss. There’s a very Men’s Rights theme in this play, ahem.  Liz Taylor, before this, had never done any Shakespeare. To make this story palatable, you need skilled actors who can make that rather harsh story, um, not so harsh. She did not pull this off, in my opinion. Her vocals were more shrieks and screams than anything else. She seemed psychotic rather than an unhappy woman unable to play the part everyone around her expected and demanded she play. That of the meek and mild feminine houseplant, head nodder, smiler, pleasant presence and all-around non-entity. At least, that’s what I always take away from any brush up against the TOTS.

Richard Burton

Before all this, we get Michael York, as the young lover and the sister, Bianca, who seems so ordinary and lackluster I had trouble picking her out in a crowd of other women. Really? This is what you want Kate to be? This silly houseplant of a girl? There also seemed to be real animosity between the sisters and Kate is even shown hitting her with a stick. I might need to go read this play again. Was this added in or in there already or…?

Now, Kate is gorgeous. Because she’s a hot, svelte Liz Taylor. Maybe she was told to ham it up to the point of absurd off-putting violence to make the taming part work better? Eh? Also, a daughter this nuts wouldn’t be shipped off somewhere? Or married off ASAP just to get rid of her? Come on. Or beaten or starved or any of the other ways to make a girl toe the line when she showed anything other meek servile cringing obedience?

Bianca knew how to work the crowd, I figure. She knows how to butter up the dingdongs so she can do what she wants in private. I’m guessing this but hey, gotta give that poor thing a personality somehow. I would love to see her teach Kate how to be meek and mild in public, while being herself where the menfolk don’t go. So that Kate can manage her life a lot better than tossing stools at people through windows and trashing entire rooms while shrieking incoherent jibberjabber.

I’d have to write that play, of course. I don’t think it exists.

So, our two main lovers meet and it’s a…um. Kate escapes Petruchio over and over, until they end up atop the pile of wool, after falling through the roof. I’m reminded of that rape-minded skunk and the poor cat trying to avoid that skunk as Burton chases Taylor through this old Italian house. Of course, he ends up atop her, holding her down, as she struggles to get away from this stranger who’s running her down like, well, that skunk and cat combo. It’s not funny or sexy. She even hurts herself, which is how he manages to ‘capture’ her, dragging her back before her father, sister and the rest of the gathered fuckskillets, who cheer at their chosen champion, who then locks Kate in her room. I? Um. Er?

Done. I’m out. No.

I don’t want to watch him break her or watch her be broken. The ‘taming’ part turns my stomach. Taylor plays Kate as the most unlovable, uncharming wretch ever but god damn it, no thanks to Burton and others cutting into her with gleeful malice until she has to surrender or be destroyed by all this.

I might have to watch the rest later, if I can find it somewhere or watch scenes later on, small doses of this well filmed but ulcer-inducing woman-hatey dreck. I adored Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. That’s Kate in Taming of the Shrew, hello. That energy and smolder and dissatisfaction and willing to go toe to toe, not bash Brick over the head with an actual brick, but find a way to live with him as he is.

Oh, and in Much Ado, I wanted Hero, at the end, to punch that asshole Shakespeare wrote that she had to love, right in the kisser. Just boom! And then walk off into the sunset to…live her life however she wanted. Rather like Judy Benjamin did. If you get that reference, I didn’t spoil anything for ya.

That’s my hasty take on a Burton/Taylor pairing. There were ten altogether, I believe. They work very well together but oh, not this time. I was crawling out of my skin. Ugh!

For fairness sake, I did watch her ending monologue, on Youtube. Ooooh, there’s the Liz I know and adore. She’s totally commanding, in control of that room, knows her worth, is a magnificent whirlwind that threatens to skin people alive with her focused flow of words, words, words. Burton, and we, cannot take our eyes from her. It was like there were two movies here. The hour-long cringey dreck and the two plus minute take down disguised as submission to a husband. Gimme the two minutes, of course.

Allrighty, let’s call it a day.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor


The new Godzilla V. Kong movie

I’ve seen all three Godzilla movies. Can’t name a single character or even bother to remember the actual storylines. Scientists and…I’m done, I’m out.

So, this last movie, where Godzilla smacks King Kong around and King Kong doesn’t like it much. Wish it had been two hours of the two icons battling it out instead of conspiracy theories are real, interchangeable stock characters and dialogue formed by throwing fridge magnets against a wall.

I love this current imagining of  the Godzilla creature. It’s impressive, cinematic, theatrical, powerful, fun and gorgeous to watch. Well done! Yay! I like the old Godzilla, too. The Japanese one. The ancient, creaky, hilariously bad monster flicks that bring a smile of recognition at the sheer nostalgia for ‘simpler times’ when monster movies were viewed from a questionable, shabby couch, late at night, the lights turned off. And the notion that childhood would be forever, that everything would be safe and good and life not so hard at all to conquer.

Yeah, none of that happened and life sucks. Godzilla, you fucking cunt lying lizard shitweasel fuckface.

I had no high hopes for this newest money grab by cynical movie moguls trying to stay afloat in these interestin’ times.  

I’m not invested in these movies. That’s a problem. I don’t care about anything that happens. I can’t remember who any of the characters are, even on a rewatch. I have no interest in watching any of these again. I’ve seen the Kong movie, with Loki and Captain Marvel, many a time now. It flashes by on basic cable, you stick with it as you putter about scrubbing the sink or whatever. It’s just background noise. I’ve seen the remake with Jack Black and Naomi Watts. Eh.

I’ve even seen the blasphemy that was the one with Matthew Broderick. Bigger is better, was the tagline or something like that. No! No, it was not!!

Oh my goodness. Happened to catch Mulholland Drive for the first time ever. WTF? How does Lynch keep getting funding? What the hell was that? I couldn’t stop watching, yet I was aware of my ‘this is crap wrapped in shiny foil’ impression the entire time. Lesbians just kiss awkwardly and grab each other’s boobies? Maniacal old people, bwhahahahahaha. Blue box of mystery is a snooze. I loved the singer near the end, that was great. Um…cowboy? I’m not a David Lynch fan, so that might be it as well. I always feel as if he’s a third-rate Fellini. Like he’s trying too  hard to be strange and different, it’s not natural or organic with him. None of his stuff seems to spring from any real or honest place. Which might be his entire point but still…eh.

Oh yeah, Godzilla versus Kong. I don’t really have a long review here. Just…get rid of the people. More monsters. All monsters, in fact. Not unless there’s a startling new storyline that NEEDS TO BE TOLD. And there isn’t. Not here, anyway. It’s just evil scientists and conspiracy theories THAT TURN OUT TO BE TRUE. Fuck me, are you kidding?? Why not have this thing set in a New Jersey pizza parlor’s basement?? Fuck a unicorn, you lazy shit writers. Just have the two iconic monsters battle it out for ninety minutes to two hours. Happy girl here! I’d be extra happy and dance around like no one’s watching. To Harry Styles songs. Yep.

Oh! I have a Goodreads page now: Ann Wuehler (Contributor of The Ghastling) | Goodreads

If you can, swing by and give me a review. And maybe buy my books. Or give them a whirl on Kindle or some other app or device like that. Yay! Support artists. I’m an artist. See where this is going?

A Gritty Christmas Carol

Breakfast was so gross. Rice, leftover gravy, eggs and insanely spicy hot dogs chunks. Oh gag me with a spoon already. So! Let’s purge that plate of Not Ever Gonna Eat That Yuck with a talk about a version of a Christmas Carol I happened to catch on FX.

It stars Aussie Guy Pierce in the role of the rich curmudgeon. And there’s this odd sexual smolder going on? Um? Have I wandered into some weird mashup of CC and Jane Eyre?

Maybe. Because this three hour plus offering also descends into actual horror movie territory, with the ghost of Jacob Marley thrusting his severed jaw back into his face, watching a child drown and the general overly dreary settings. Scrooge’s house is kept so dark and shadowy I kept waiting for Game of Thrones characters to wander through drinking mulled wine and speaking of their sexual conquests or why they deserve the Iron Throne.

Basically, it does follow Dickens’s storyline. We meet Scrooge, who’s a real awful craptoad, hellbent on making everyone around him suffer because money is king in his brain. Orphans and widows and beggars can all suck it, yeah, same ole shtick here that’s, um, oddly relevant right now, or always. Charity never seems to actually do anything at any time in history; okay, Dickens, yeah, we know this already.

Pierce can’t hide that he’s a sexy dude, even when frosted with age makeup a bit. I haven’t yet found a production or a movie where Scrooge is, um, sexually active or could be some sort of Victorian era stud. Kind of weird at first and then it descends into HE’S A RAPEY POS FUCK HIM kinda reaction. And we get the backstory about the school, and how his dad basically sold Ebbie into some sort of sexual slavery with the headmaster and…Not even kidding. I just…mm. This was to save money. See where Scrooge gets it, my lovelies???

Mary Cratchett goes to Scrooge for money to get the operation to save Tiny Tim. Now, was it just me or was Tiny Tim about the creepiest thing in this entire three hour plus retelling??? I…damn. He looked like one of those haunted dolls who goes about at night with your sharpest butcher knife clutched in his doll fist. His dialogue was also unnatural and stilted, compared to the actors around him. That might have been Dicken’s fault but still. Make him sound like a kid, not some killer doll who sucked helium from the balloon that will be used to strangle you as you bleed out from the butcher knife stabbings…

Where was I?? Oh yes. Mary, who usually doesn’t get much to do in this story besides bake a goose or shake her head over how mean Scrooge is…goes to the steely-eyed sexy master of Thornfield Hall for a loan. Sorry, no, that’s Jane Eyre! Anyway–

She posits this as a loan, where two shillings gets subtracted from her husband’s salary. Scrooge, cruelly good at math, calculates this all up, adding interest even, and figures, ha ha, it would take about six years for his employee to pay off a thirty pound loan, plus something like 4% interest. This is of course not a good scenario for smoldery slinky Mr. Scrooge! We then get subjugated to about the most gulp-inducing WTF, is this a Christmas movie?? scene where Scrooge offers Mary the money outright if she…lets him do whatever he wants to her. On Christmas Day, no less. She can earn the money on her back is the gist of that scene and she, being desperate and not wishing to watch her child die, agrees to this. As Scrooge taunts her, in that quiet slithery way Pierce can deliver so well, about what a good wife, mother and Christian she is. It’s…it’s unredeemable. There isn’t a coming back from this. I don’t care…it….fuck.

So here Mary returns, and Scrooge toys with her, then tells her he doesn’t want a thing to do with her. As she stands there nearly naked. He’s more interested in torturing people because he’s a scientist at heart or some such unjolly shit. She’s still violated and demeaned, she takes the money because it’s her kid and there’s no way she can get the money otherwise. She also curses Scrooge, telling him she’s a woman and she has the power to call spirits…ah. Ah! Interesting.

Vinette Robinson as Mary
Andy Serkis as Main Ghost/The Ghost

So the spirits.

The main spirit of Christmas is played by Andy Serkis, of Gollum fame. And yes, he knocks it out of the ballpark. We get to see a lot more of the spirits and Marley outside of their usual show up and spook Mr. Scrooge bits. There’s this giant, visually stunning, bonfire. The main spirit, who also seems to be all the other spirits as well, has strange pale eyes, a wild Santa Claus-like appearance and speaks about how this thing with Scrooge is more of a game than…any actual effort to save him. Ouch. That it’s the challenge presented by Scrooge’s stony unfeeling heart, not any actual need to save the man himself from a hellish fate, such as Marley earned. That the gods play with us rather that love us is very much the theme here with the ghost/s.

Now, this is a new one to me. Scrooge displays kindness only toward animals. He draws a blanket over two carriage horses, who are shivering in the snowy air. He remarks about the ponies used down in mines, rather than the children he watched cough and choke with utter indifference. And then there’s this pet mouse his sister gave him, with a little gilded bell about its wee neck. The ghost of this mouse shows up and we get to see Scrooge’s horrific father cut its head off. We see this framed as a shadow but still. Just a jarring, take me out of it, why are you including this, moment. In a Christmas movie.

I guess this slight care toward animals is supposed to make Scrooge a bit sympathetic and redeemable? That there is something still, um, good left in this sadistic snotwaffle?

So the three ghosts go to work on Scrooge and the way this is done is quite okay. The ghosts change and morph and dig into his memories like surgeons. The mine disaster was especially hard to watch. The young Scrooge being almost dragged to an older man’s bed was surreal and the sister arriving to save him…as Scrooge admitted in perhaps the most gutwrenchingly honest scenes about child sexual abuse, far too late. The ghost of Christmas Future, the one who decides if Scrooge is ‘saved’ or not, seemed a zombie or some sort of undead victim of the Inquisition. Blue skin, lips obviously sewn together at one point, silent.

Tiny Tim, Lenny Rush and Guy Pierce as Scrooge.

Here we get to watch Tiny Tim drown. He speaks the entire film about wanting to go skating. So this death of his is framed over the head of Scrooge and the ghost, who watch from below. As if both stand beneath the pond, looking up. The ceiling of the room Scrooge stands in becomes that treacherous ice sheath. Tim breaks through, weighted down by the borrowed skates and his clothing. He’s too weak to pull himself out so we watch him stop struggling and just hang there until a hook yanks him out and up and up…Such a well done scene yet so horrible.

Of course we get to the ending where Scrooge goes manic. He steals the gravel of an old lady, who’s been graveling the icy walkways, to make it so no one can skate on that bit of pond or river, then runs over to Mary and Bob’s to terrorize them with his manic promises that he’s changed and…yeah. It’s such a joyless, grim, abrupt ending. We also don’t get any reconciliation with his nephew. And we’re made to understand that maybe Mary is working with the Christmas ghosts? Wha…?

That’s what is missing from this adaptation. Joy. That redemptive joy of someone who decides to change who they are for the better. We saw this in Scrooged, with Billy Murray’s version bringing us to tears with his speech at the end, because he meant it, he had experienced an actual revolution within himself. Here, in this Guy Pierce led shadow-filled morality play, we get a grim character with very little or no redeeming values sort of…not be so awful for a bit. Will it even last the day? I’m not sure it will. Someone peeing on your gravestone is not really a life-changer, not for someone like Scrooge who went to court to make sure the families of those who died in his mine never got a ha’penny for those deaths.

Dickens wrote about a man who got a wake up call, so to speak. Who learned and grew and changed, due to three spirits, his old business partner and his own sense of conscience, guilt, shame and remorse. And how it was the light in his heart that got kindled toward others that made him over into a better version of himself. That light lit by his own willingness to face his past, what he had done to others, what he had allowed himself to become.

We do not see that so much in this version of Scrooge. This is a horror story, not a Christmas tale. If the goal here by the main ghost was to destroy Scrooge’s sense of self, then leave him with nothing much after that, then…hey, well done?

It was a well done production. Acting was first rate. The ghosts and other supernatural elements didn’t seem jarring or out of place or not to fit this Victorian setting. Making Scrooge into a rapey creep…just took me out of this and I could not wander back in with any sort of ability to care about Scrooge in any way. Too many women face this sort of crap, yes, I get it. It gave Mary real motivation and explained, maybe, the ghosts. She was able to see Scrooge when he and the second ghost, his sister Lottie, visited the Cratchett house. Get out of my house! might be my new go-to anthem when things get terrible, dark and twisted in my head.

But I think this production also missed the joy, love and light that are so rewarding in more traditional retellings of this well-known Christmas staple. It’s famous for a reason. I don’t want a gritty reboot of this one. No thanks. I admit it. I want a silly, happy, joy-filled, bedizened ending that fills me with happiness after watching a somewhat horrible man, a stand in for most rich people, let’s be honest, ahem, learn that others suffer and can’t get the help they need so often. So he can help the man who works for him and reconcile with his nephew, cause family family Christmas, the end.

Sorry, this was long. But the movie was long. And I wanted to write this all up while it was still fresh in my head.

Jason Flemyng as Ghost of Christmas Future

Happy Endings

Daniel di Tommasso as Matt and Ali Stroker as Izzi in Lifetime’s Christmas Ever After

I’ve been perusing the usual holiday fare on the telly! Which is…Hallmark and now, the Lifetime Channel. The syrupy, always ends happily, tales of Christmas, and yes, I saw one advertised, Hanukah.

I even saw one with, gasp, gay people in it. I know! Hallmark is woke, y’all! Though, I have seen several with a gay sibling or a friend but those characters were very much side, seldom mentioned at all and generally kept off the main stage of shiny scrubbed lovers staidly hurtling toward love’s destiny. As the titles all run together in my head…Ah, okay, that was a Bride for Christmas. Her sister was gay, as played by the same actress who was in one of my all time Hallmark faves, Nine Lives of Christmas. Which features cats and firemen, hello! Kimberly Sustad is that actress. Brandon Routh was the fireman who got adopted by a cat, and she was a vet student…you’ve seen this one, right? Right?

Yes, there is backlash to all the ‘wokeness’ being inserted in the shimmery holiday fare. Mostly directed at all the GAY STUFF. Which is so absurdly tame and not at all cause for alarm. Surely, surely, you can just find another movie to watch, cause there’s the Up channel and Ion and AMC is showing holiday flicks and the ABC Family Channel which now has a new name and…okay. I’m SERIOUS here. You can flip over and find Elf 24/7 right now.

If you, um, watch television. I hear there’s some new-fangled stuff called streaming where you don’t have to flip channels or something. It’s just so futuristic. Yeah, I’m almost a Luddite. Yep. Back to the rambling–

I think the freak out was over the new one called the Christmas House, which features a gay couple trying to adopt a kid. Um? Thousand Karens Upset Enough To Call the Managers were clutching pearls over this. You just wanna…ask them why they can’t turn all that hot outrage toward an actual good cause. Like ending world hunger or save the bees.


I happened to flip to Lifetime, to check out their VERY SIMILAR, EERILY SO fare last Sunday. Six at night, it’s called something like Christmas Ever After or Christmas Happy Happy Nice Nice.

Okay! I’m rather charmed by the blond perky, not model thin and not runway in Paris looking, lead actress. I do mean perky with a capital P! She’s a writer! On her way to finish her book! In a very Christmas-positive place! She sees someone who resembles, or, hey, looks exactly like, the man on all her romance novel covers. As she writes a series of time travel romances featuring the same two characters. Got it? All righty.

Oh my, he’s rather handsome! She nearly runs him over, what an almost meet-cute this is. Usual opening to the Life-Hall oeuvre, and I am down with it, baby. Bring it on! Got my ratty purple blanket, the dogs are snoozing, the cat has her butt in my face, it’s a low key Sunday eve and I am determined to see how this ends.

I keep hoping it will all end badly and she will find out he’s a serial killer or a Trump supporter or some sort of conspiracy nut living out in the woods afraid of Bill Gates and Big Pharma. A perennial watcher of the Hallmark stuff can hope, damn it. One time they’re gonna slip there at the Hallmark factory and a gruesome awful ending is gonna escape in a shower of blood or even just a ‘not gonna work out, I choose my career which I’ve worked so hard for, over some small town diner owner in Montana’ finale. They part ways and both are relieved they didn’t have to do that awkward kiss that takes place in the last ten seconds before the credits roll in the usual…


What is…What? Is she…Is Izzi [played by Ali Stroker] in a WHEELCHAIR? And the entire story doesn’t revolve around the BRAVE LADY IN THE WHEELCHAIR OVERCOMING THE ODDS? WTF is going on? Did hell freeze over, Lifetime?? Brave new world of Christmas movie involving not-perfect people just living their lives, being all outgoing and sassy, coping with everything as best they can and…FINDING LOVE? What?

Seriously, did I slip into some weird alternate time dimension?

No. Decorating, cookies, Christmas contests, singing carols…the wokeness got me all woke for a bit.

Yeah, okay. We also did not get the backstory of how or why she’s in a wheelchair. She drives her own car, doesn’t have an aide or help of any kind and takes care of herself. We don’t see her do any of this, not really, but…it’s implied.

So the reason the guy, who’s the son of the owner of the place Izzi stays every year during the holidays, is on her covers is that…no no. No spoilers. But it’s actually not that far out in left field nor does it feel forced or ridiculous. Okay, it does, it’s very CONVENIENT AND NEAT, which is not what real life is like at all but if I wanted real life I’d watch documentaries on factory workers or something. Mm.

It’s a very sweet movie. I do mean sweet. Your teeth will ache after watching it. And the ending? Yeah. It’s exactly the ending you think it is but oh my, it’s so very…sweet. A wholesome earned sort of sweet, like a slice of punkin pie with a big dollop of hand-whipped cream.

I also like how this guy– names are not important for the guys, are they? They’re always something like Hal or Sam or James or Roman or Bucky the Wonder Stud– grew to like Izzi very much, then to LIKE Izzi very much. It was done quite well, I thought. Sure, it was the actual plot but the two actors seemed in the same space and accepting and…uh huh.

I also just watched one called Christmas Waltz, which was very much Hallmark Standard Fare. Lacey Chabert, playing a lawyer, breaks up with her fiancee right before her giant Christmas wedding, she’s supposed to take some dance lessons and…you guessed it, she falls for the dance teacher guy.

Now, I enjoyed the dancing, I am a sucker for a movie with dancing in it and the actor, Will Kemp, actually looked like a dancer. And could actually dance. That is my amateur take on the dancing in this movie. No, it wasn’t Gene Kelly standards or even Channing Tatum sexywrithing levels but it was passable. Hello! And the movie had moments of the two just dancing through snowy streets in NYC, which is always something that should now be in every Christmas movie made from now on. Rando dance scenes with snow falling down around the pair. Let’s do this, Hallmark and Lifetime and all those other channels churning out endless holiday hours of slight romantic fare!

Oh my, could we get Channing Tatum to appear in a Hallmark movie with one of their usual actress leads and the two could dirty dance to the shock and horror of the small town that lives for Christmas?? No? Not ever gonna happen? It was a stupid idea and I should be very ashamed of myself for all time?

Yeah, okay. Whatever.

We need a new dance movie to appear, don’t we? Magic Mike was a while ago. Dirty Dancing? Forty years? Oh!

Hallmark and the relentless happy ever after. I really do need it this year. I need some assurance that things do turn out well and fine and good. It’s why I watch those sad animal rescue videos. The puppy thrown in the ditch that’s skin and bones?? It get’s adopted by a royal family and lives the best life ever! I try to avoid the super-sad ones where the animal doesn’t make it.

Damn. I just have to pay the slightest bit of attention to the news feed to get all the sadness, grief and rage I could ever need.

And on that note! Aftermath:Boise, Idaho is available RIGHT NOW. Buy it. Right now!

Note: I am waiting for snow. It’s close. Like Lorelei Gilmore, I can sense it just around the corner…

Droplets of Alcott


June. It’s June. A few more months than it’s the glut of holidays. Thank the blessed unicorns of the third-party American voters, I never ever take my various decorations down. Score!

Thanks. I’ll be here a while. Try the chicken.

And on to a movie I’ve been wanting to see since it hit theatres in 2019. So about twenty thousand years ago, or so it seems.


I did not go see it. I think I went to Rise of Skywalker instead, because hey, sat through the other two. And I actually liked Last Jedi. Do I hear snarls? Is that snarls?

Little Women! Feminist remake! Unpronounceable Irish-named actress as Jo! Timothy Challawallabingbang as Laurie, the alleged six foot plus Italian stud-hunk.

Um, no. No.

Otherwise the casting was pretty spot on.

Little-Women-Cast screen rant
Beth, Jo, Meg, Amy and Laurie Laurence

I LOVED Laura Dern as Marmee. This is the first time I found her to be human and lovable, instead of the stalwart lecturer of the four sisters, the saintly mother-goddess archetypal figure so often depicted in nearly every Little Women adaptation. This Marmee is far more human than superwoman. And it’s fantastic. Adds so many layers right there. The way she wipes tears from her cheeks, takes a moment to put on her Happy Marmee Face before facing her daughters…damn. We get a glimpse into just how hard her life is trying to raise her kids and make ends meet and live up to her own ideals is. That little sigh, that little moment of utter weariness. Show don’t tell moment, y’all.

Emma Watson as Meg. Eh. There’s really never been much there to play with. But Watson gives it her best. We also get glimpses of Meg’s talent as an actress, and the creative lives of these lively sisters reminds how limited and few their choices were and how limited a lot of the time women still have it. Even now. Yeah, I went there. Meg marries a good man, settles in for motherhood and caregiving, and oh…we get to see her dissatisfaction, her restlessness, her unhappiness even. This was covered a tiny bit in the actual novel, but Alcott resolved it too neatly and Meg gets to play St. Housewife the rest of her time in the Alcott universe. Through Little Men and Jo’s Boys. Don’t believe me? You have some reading to do, kiddos.

Beth is Beth. I did like this actress in the thankless role of Dying Young role. I am so glad it was not that drawn out or even given all that much screen time. You can see the potential of Beth and how she supports her sisters and lives life through her wild, free, strong protector-friend Jo.

And yes, we also get to blame German immigrants for bringing disease to the March family. That was in the novel, it’s been in all the movies, as it’s an integral part of the story as set down by Alcott.

Amy and Aunt March discuss the realities of life.

Amy had to be my fave here. Florence Pugh gives this most unlikable sister actual layers, practicality, a lot of heart and that careless something we can call charm. Amy’s future relationship with Theodore Laurence, the hunkalicious boy next door, gets a lot of timne spent on it. In the movie, that is. Not the novel. The relationship does seem one-sided. however. Amy loves him, he tolerates her for the moment…but they do know each other, grew up a bit together and don’t ever really face any real challenges. At least, none on screen. Other than Amy’s other candidate for Rich Husband, Fred Vaughn. But he’s not given much more to be than Obstacle. We barely even see his face, let alone how all of this affects him. Amy tosses him aside like a used handkerchief. But we’re supposed to believe she had chosen love over being mercenary. Or has she???

Ah, Jo. One of my favorite literary characters. I identify with someone who wants to write. Yes, I do. I identify with someone who has such trouble fitting in and being what’s expected of a girl. Here the Jo character doesn’t really deviate from all the other Jo’s, not really. I did like how we got to see the business end of writing. The getting your stuff into print work Jo had to go through. She was always working out story ideas and composing her tales. We got to see that. We got to watch her work on a novel. It wasn’t she sat down at a desk, poof, the next scene, the novel is finished and ready to go to print. Nope!

Jo and Teddy.

I adore that this film tackled, head on, the Jo mantra that she would never marry and yet the novel and movie ends with the requisite happy ending. Because it’s what people want and expect, not because it’s what the characters want or need to happen. Gut punch. That’s a gut punch. That a story involving women or a ‘woman’s tale’ has to end in either marriage or death.

Gut. Punch.

I had no quibbles, much, with Professor Bhaer. Except…HE’S GERMAN, POOR AND NOT HANDSOME AND OLDER THAN JO BY A LOT OF YEARS. Ugh. In the film, he was young, French and should maybe have swapped with the Timothy Challawalla kid. I felt a real hollowness over this alleged romance between him and fierce independent Jo. It seemed to arise out of nowhere and suddenly, she was madly in love so they could have AN ACTUAL DASH TO THE RAILWAY STATION scene. I. Just. Ugh.

Louis Garrel as Professor Bhaer. Um…? Yeah.

Suddenly we’re in romantic movies land and it just rang so goddamn false. I DIDN’T BELIEVE THE CHARACTER SET UP OVER THE COURSE OF THIS LONG ASS MOVIE would suddenly turn into Meg Ryan galloping after Tom Hanks or some other screen couple we wait two hours for to do just that. Not Jo March, no sir! Christopher Columbus! But…then again, we are set up that the publisher guy told Jo her stories involving women had to have it end with a wedding or the death of the woman. She could not go off to a life of happy spinsterhood, no no no!

Now, the neighbor guy who was in love with Jo from their first meeting to marrying some other sister cause…mm.

I, too, always asked why Jo didn’t marry Laurie. Or Teddy, as she called him. Teddy, in the book, made the other boys call him Laurie, after beating the shit out of them. As they were teasing him anyway. He’s also presented as some sort of ‘other’ due to his hot Italian blood. Alcott’s wording. As if those of Italian descent are fire-blooded hotheads with almost no morality. Oh, you thought stereotyping of other cultures was a new thing??? Bwha ha ha ha.

We get to see a very torn up Jo, lonely and confused, reconsider her choices here. Openly saying she’d give another answer to that proposal. It was hinted at in the book but here we get to hear it.

Aunt March is played, with lots of fun and vinegar, by Meryl Streep. Teddy’s grandpa is played by Chris Cooper, one of my fave actors. Both are a hooty hoot.

I was taken out of this otherwise stellar film every time Timothy Wallawallbang bang popped into frame. He looks twelve years old to me. He’s heroin skinny with the frame of a stork. I just. I just can’t overcome my suspension of disbelief barriers to swallow him as the over six foot tall, built like a brick shithouse, Theodore Laurence. Who is also supposed to be astoundingly handsome. Rather the perfect foil to Jo March, who is often described as her hair being her only real beauty.

Christian Bale and Timothy Chalamet compare/contrast time

Teddy and Jo. They share actual bonds. Friendship, confidences, trust, companionship. They spark each other. We are led to believe this is bad; that actual passion, conflict and being hot-tempered are the worst things, like, ever.

Alcott makes it clear that because the two often fight, this is a bad thing. We are led, by Alcott, to think that Meg and John Brook have the idyllic- more or less—married relationship. All cooing doves, no screeching falcons. That a marriage should be polite barely affectionate people…or a marriage of that time. Okay. Okay!

This film breaks the linear fashion of the story up. That’s good. I didn’t expect it to work, I expected to be highly annoyed. I was not. It worked. It often paralleled a moment from the past with one in the here and now to one of the sisters. We got to watch a jigsaw puzzle being filled in rather than being spoonfed a homespun tale of sisters finding their way through life.

I was jarred a bit by all the legs and underwear shown. That’s fine for modern audiences but…not at that time. Even at home in private with no neighbor watching. Marmee had her skirt hiked up, baking, as Meg was brought home by Jo and Laurie from a winter dance due to a twisted ankle. Marmee, no. No.

And to end this rambling screed on Amy. I adored her speech about how marriage was an economic everything to women, not so much for men. As men held all the power, the land, even the children were theirs. Men held the pursestrings mostly and women were very limited as to what careers they could pursue without having to endure society calling them all sorts of names and shunning them accordingly. Amy declares she can’t be a great artist, so she will be an ornament to society. Laurie is horrified by this but she icily reminds him that she really has very few choices here beyond marry a wealthy man or live in poverty with a poor man or…work at some job she hates for very little money to retain her respectability. Aunt March, in an earlier scene, lays it out quite baldly. She never had to marry because she had oodles of money. She urges the sisters to marry wealthy men because that’s one of the only ways a woman can move up in the world. It’s also a means to take care of the entire family. As the Marches have no sons…well.

And of course…if you know this story at all…who does Amy end up marrying?

I could ramble on for days and days over the nuances of Little Women, feminism, the various cinematic takes on Alcott’s most famous work and the absolute puzzlement that the casting folks can’t cast a decent Theodore Laurence already. Though…Christian Bale was okay, in the Winona Ryder version. Which is such a beautiful film, if you have not seen it.

Laura Dern as Marmee.

Over and out, fellow babies. I need to croon over my growing squash plants and squee over the opening of the bachelor buttons.

Oh! Jaws, the kitty, jumped off the fence and must have come down on it funky. I was freaking out thinking she’d broken her leg but after some rest and TLC, she was fine. Today I caught her tormenting a baby mouse, which is now resting and recovering a bit before I find a place to release it or…let it live with me a few days. I’m sorry, the little frightened squeaking! I put it in a giant glass container and will give it some water and…Yes, it’s ‘just a mouse’. But I like to think the March sisters would approve.