Apropos of Nothing: Folliculî, Folliculà

I can’t look at the right side of this picture without thinking of sound effects like “boing!”

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions generally, but this year, I have made one to face a certain reality:

That is not “mostly straight hair” up there. It does not “just need a little goo and it’ll lie down fine.” (It isn’t completely dry yet in that picture, either.) It is a mass of strangle-vines that laughs in the face of most flat-ironing and spits out Loma Pearatin like used chewing gum. However, it is my hair, and this year’s resolution is to arrive at a truce, possibly via a wide-toothed comb and a prayer.

Happy New Year, everybody!

Found-Again Friday(ish): Holiday Edition—You Can Go Home Again, But Maybe Don’t

So far I have driven nearly flooded roads, permanently cut a relative from my life, and slipped and fallen on an icy safety ramp: Christmas, and parts of my tailbone, are a bust.

My old favorite bookstore is still here, though, so I am celebrating Pendergastmas instead.

Ordinarily, this seems like it would be more dangerous than mere Christmas...
Ordinarily, this seems like it would be more dangerous than mere Christmas…

Apropos of Nothing: The Early Edition by Capsule.fm

I seem to be in a relationship with my alarm clock app.

That’s because it’s Early Edition, a bizarre offering from Capsule.fm featuring Carl and Miranda, virtual announcers who read headlines of your choice, introduce music of your choice, and occasionally make snotty jokes about humans (they don’t mean you, of course—Miranda in particular is a shameless flatterer). With shutdown haikus, weather reports, and the chance to wake up to things like “[Name,] I see the assassins have failed and you are still alive,” it’s a lot of fun. It is also a big liar, since the ever-optimistic Miranda informed me at 5:35 am that it was “a beautiful morning, with heavy fog and 37º.”

If, like  me, you own an Apple device and are a little strange, I quite recommend it.

Personal and Pointless: Fighting Like Cats And Sillier Cats

This is what I come home to every afternoon. Apologies for the poor video quality:


Incubus is 9 years old, looks like a stuffed toy, and believes himself to be a finely tuned fighting machine, even though he sounds like a very limited set of bagpipes. Jasper is 17 and deaf, so he can’t even hear whatever feline threat all that noise is supposed to convey (given that they watch movies with me much of the time, I assume at least part of that was “There can be only one!” ETA: Yep, I think that’s it around 0:26.).

What I Did With My Halloween: Pumpkinhead and Belphegor

I’m writing about the horror movies I watched last Friday in part because they provide an interesting study in contrasts and in part to avoid dwelling on the near-complete lack of trick-or-treaters this year. I’m only half joking when I tell people I save all my extroversion for October 31, and this time it had nowhere to go. (I am filled with the urge to do a loud musical number and then barely speak for a while, like an AU version of Michigan J. Frog who knows the lyrics to “Different Drum.”)

Anyway, on with the show!

Pumpkinhead has all the stereotypical marks of a certain kind of 1980s horror movie: group of psychologically varied young people takes a trip to hillbilly country, does something terrible, and is served with swift vengeance. The movie takes the unusual step, however, of making its characters fairly well developed and realistic—from genre giant Lance Henriksen as a man who loses his son and learns the lessons of revenge the (extremely) hard way to the group of outsiders, whose responses to the titular monster’s onslaught meet with varying degrees of success.

The friend with whom I watched the movie kept saying, “I don’t remember this from the last time,” as the plot unfolded, and I think that’s why Pumpkinhead doesn’t always get the credit it deserves: it’s an elevated slasher, but one that hits its beats so well as a slasher/monster-in-the-woods movie that sometimes that’s all people can remember about it.

Next up was Belphegor: Phantom of the Louvre, a 2001 French horror film with Sophie Marceau and Julie Christie (and subtitles, if anyone is averse to such things) in which an ancient Egyptian spirit possesses a young woman in an attempt to cross over to its promised afterlife. I can’t really speak to whether it’s “good,” because frankly, my goodwill as a viewer can be almost completely bought with mummies. This is the second movie with French-speaking mummies that I have enjoyed this year—the other being The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec—and at some point one just has to admit to having a weakness other people don’t have.

The reviews of this I’ve found online haven’t been complimentary, and it is apparently a remake of an earlier film that people also disliked. Perhaps some of this stems from stereotyping, though: most American viewers expect a French film to be artsy, and horror-savvy viewers likely associate French film with Haute Tension and the like. For my part, I fully support the right of any nation to make slightly silly horror fare, and thieving mummy-spirits amok in the Louvre is a lot of fun indeed.


Next time: In which I am briefly twelve again.








Welcome to Our Cynical Omelet, the site that’s been rebooted so often I might as well have named it Dracula.

Yesterday I began rereading Stephen King’s The Shining. This is something I do perhaps quarterly, but this time lines up with the one-year anniversary of my father’s death. I read The Shining maybe twenty years later than most bookish people my age—they tended to devour everything up to Tommyknockers, whereas I kind of liked The Dark Half, wasn’t fond of Thinner, and hated every single character in ‘Salem’s Lot so much that I gave up long-form King for years. So finding out The Shining is an amazing book was both a relief and a glorious surprise when I finally tucked into it.

The book is also, I’m sorry to say, a favorite of mine because it echoes a lot of the problems in my own family, which is why I found myself getting ready for work this morning and thinking, “The Overlook would have got to my dad much faster.” My father was almost certainly an honest-to-god narcissist, an idea I had trouble with until the night last year when he called to yell at me for spending too much time with my mother on Mother’s Day weekend. I thought, till I began doing research on the subject, that to be one of those you had to be a high achiever, and Dad had spent my whole life—maybe not his, I hope— as a schemer on the level of maybe Daffy Duck.

Shortly thereafter, I tremulously took this new-gathered information to my mother, to friends who knew him, and was met with a resounding “Duh!” I was literally the last to know. Perhaps when you grow up being called “little [Dad’s name]” when you get in trouble, it’s harder to think that big [Dad’s name] might be broken in some fundamental way.

After the funeral, my friend said, “I’ve never seen anything like it: nobody cried.” It was true: all his friends from the old neighborhood, all his old tennis buddies, even his reluctant child, all had Dad’s number at last.

Which is why, when I say I read The Shining and am reminded of my own family, I don’t wholly mean it in a bad way. Jack Torrance clearly loves his wife and child; he just can’t resist the voice that tells him they’re standing in his way, the voice that tells him he’s too special for all this boring stuff.  And that reminds me that Dad probably couldn’t either.


Next Time: Gosh, anything more cheerful than this.