Spring has indeed sprung around here. The apple orchards between Milford and Lyndeboro are in blossom! Our yard is full of flowers. It’s a “white week”- apple blossoms are white, the blown coltsfoot flowers are white, the lily of the valley and daffodils are white. There are Daffodils evenly spaced along the border, one every foot or so. I must have put them in at some point, but don’t remember doing it. I hope they spread. These are the white ones my mother used to call “Fragrant Narcissus”; but the white ones with the red fringed flattened cups are apparently called Poeticus daffodils. Mother would have liked that. They look really well next to the Lily of the Valley, which are blithely ignoring the border and spreading into the driveway. Those are fragrant. I pick the ones that fall over or face backwards, and Willow prefers I take them to my bedroom as she says the scent is so strong that it over powers the food smells when on the kitchen table.
Oh My Goodness! A waft of floral smell just came blowing in the front door! Maybe a cat just walked through the lily of the valley; wow, that was amazing!
The lilacs across the street by the mailbox are beginning to form flowers, and there are a few on the Persian bush, but nothing forming on the new ones by the barn. They look like they are growing UP enthusiastically, I expect they should be pruned. I should get a book so as not to do it wrong.
On the east wall, the bleeding hearts over by the four oaks are blooming, while the main clump is still thinking about it. (The stray by the foundation has been blooming for a couple of weeks now.) Sadly, I have not yet put the a border up and planted the pansies. Violets are everywhere (violet, not white), mainly on the paths. There’s one solitary red tulip, so bright it makes me wish for more. It’s right in front of the trellis. Willow seems to be winning the war with Kate’s climbing rose- she yells at it a lot, and prunes any tendril it sends out along the ground, those that are willing to go up the trellis are permitted to live. It looks like it would like to reach up to her window, but we’d have to add string to the top of the trellis, so she’s thinking of bending them back down to fill in empty spots instead.
In the “herb garden” the Quince leaves are beginning to hide the blooms, which were spectacular last week. I don’t think they’re fading, just being hidden. There are still a few double daffodils in there. The knotweed and raspberries are trying to take over (frankly the knotweed is less painful to deal with, if more annoying). The comfrey is already huge. Out back the jewelweed is coming up, in the driveway the plantain is returning, and the dandelions. I am amazingly excited about the dandelions! I squee’d like a little fan-girl when I saw them. The bunch of rhubarb has survived winter in my raised beds. They need work and I’m not sure I’m going to get to them.
Avi’s latest addition to the joys of home-ownership are learning to deal with mowing the lawn, and she’s got the kids an inflatable pool. I was picturing a kiddie pool, about a meter across, but Willow inflated it for them, and says it’s about 6 feet across, and took hours to fill. Even having found the flattest place in the yard for it, it’s still on a slight slope, giving her the opportunity to teach them about how water always stays flat and you can’t fill up the lower end because it’s on a slope. It was, of course, cold, no doubt having come from underground. Willow commented “What do you expect in May in New Hampshire?” Next lesson: “no, you can’t use a shovel to take the floating leaves out, you use your hands, even if the leaves are dead and icky!” … “put the shovel back, if you poke a hole in the pool your mother won’t replace it.” I remember learning to deal with icky when I was young. Why was it that the same macaroni I’d been happily eating a half hour before, when it was washed clean in the sink drain, was something I couldn’t bear to touch? (I learned to get it very carefully with a sponge.)
As I mentioned to Maryalyce the other day, if you overbook yourself with things you must do immediately, you can be constantly doing things you need to do, and still not get to the things you are avoiding getting to. Still, I think it’s better to mention what I’ve done rather than what I haven’t gotten to yet.
Allow me to risk saying that it is finally warm- all last week it was cold enough that I was not ready to give up my wool and quilted skirts, long sleeves and stockings, and flannel slips. Today, I’m wearing a summer skirt and short sleeves and the front door is open. (The screen door is shut.) The black flies are out. The girls and I try to walk each day, only not for the last couple of days. I decided to go about barefoot and got a splinter in my foot, only I didn’t realize it, I thought I’d just stepped on something sharp. By evening my foot was pretty sore. I don’t know if I’d mentioned it, but we have a chalkboard in the upstairs bathroom. We use it to remind each other of appointments and projects, (and also what day it is). As with phone messages, the point is that you can leave it and they’ll see it on their schedule, so no barging in and interrupting something the other one is doing. The bulb had also gone out in my bedroom light, so I gave up trying to dig it out myself as a bad job and left this “note” for whoever saw it first. Kat came in with her little knife and got it out. (Her normal knife has gone walk-about, and so has mine, It’s very inconvenient!) So I guess now if she’s thrown into the arena with me, I’ll have not not eat her. My foot is feeling much better now, although I feel like a bit of an idiot.
Kat spent yesterday drawing a picture of dinosaurs in medieval garb. At one point we went to the costume books to figure out what they called the head-dresses with two panels up the sides of the head (reticulated henin or escoffin) She is so careful about detail it’s not ready to share yet.
Among the things I have been working on are blog posts for the CTCW blog- in theory I every Monday I spotlight a vendor or reader, Tuesdays I used to announce the New Normal show, and I’d still like to get back to doing those. I enjoyed them a great deal. Thursdays we spotlight a speaker, Fridays a panel, Saturday a Workshop, and Sunday a blog post about something to do with the annual theme. This year’s theme is need, and this week’s blog post was how we need to treat just about everyone as walking wounded. We are all sort of shell-shocked these days, and just because we are putting on our brave faces, doesn’t mean we’re actually doing fine. Somewhere along the line some comedians managed to be snarky- say the things to jerks we’d all like to say, and do it in such a witty way they could get away with it. Sadly, as people emulated them, they didn’t manage the witty, and just did the insulting, so now everyone’s being nasty to each other, and it’s neither funny, nor nice. We need to start being nicer to each other. I spaced the blog last week, and only got it up on Tuesday. Oops. I want to have a week scheduled to automatically post before we leave for Panteria. I’m also working on descriptions of panels for the conference. Thursday we had a meeting to brainstorm topics. The problem is that Thor and I both tend to be a trifle academic, and the other member of the Panel planning committee didn’t show up (not sure why), and I always worry that we may be indulging in over intellectual thoughts. Once we post the descriptions, people can sign up to be on the panels, and we schedule the ones that fill. I tend to think it’s the more practical ones like “how do I raise a kid who’s psychic?” or “how do I keep from using my own energy and depleting it when I’m healing?” that are the most popular. The meta questions of how social systems serve different populations better is fascinating to Thor and me, but not going to entice new attendees to come to the conference. Thor sent in a dozen, and I have another dozen to write up and post, but haven’t yet figured out how to plug them into the website. Brian is revamping it.
Mark came over last weekend and read some Science Fiction from the Honor Harrington universe to me. I worked on my skirts while he was here because that’s something I can do while I listen- that and wash dishes and cook. I made a devils food cake, because the roast was not great (we’re trying to use up things that may have been in the freezer too long, oops) Since I still had an unopened quart of heavy cream left from Kat’s birthday, AND the fudge frosting didn’t look like it would cover three layers, and the cake looked a bit dry I put a thick layer of whipped cream in between the three layers. Sadly, after I’d put on the top layer I noticed that it’s radius was about a centimeter bigger than the bottom two layers. Had I not already started putting the fudge on top, I’d have flipped it- so the bottom layer was on the bottom, but it was too late. The whole thing looked like modern architecture. But between the overhang, and the whipped cream filling, it was hard to cover the sides! I suppose it tasted OK, but wasn’t a thing of great beauty.
When I’d finished putting the pocket in and the waistband on the black wool, Kat took the skirt up to hang overnight on her dress dummy. She says you’re supposed to do that before you mark the hem. I am afraid that my butt is so big that dresses and skirts that are symmetrical come out shorter in back, and I’d like to even the new skirts before hemming so they’ll be even all the way around. Two more to go of the summer skirts (and I have two winter skirts cut out. The weather was rainy and chilly enough last week that this seemed like it wasn’t a bad idea, but if it’s going to stay warm I’m going to need the summer weight skirts!).
Even though we don’t have over the air TV anymore, I still support public broadcasting by donating a portrait each spring. Last year some folks got it for their son, and he’s finally sent me the reference pictures. I’d hoped to get it done this week, but maybe next week. If I can get it done in May I’ll be satisfied. Because Panteria (Rites of Spring/ A Sacred Place Beltaine/ Memorial Day Weekend) is so early this year, I feel like it’s the tail end of the month. After all Memorial Day is the last day of the month- right? But we’ve got a few days left. Today the fellow who took the portrait in the auction this year called and I gave him the information for taking his reference pictures. I should get those done so I can be ready to do Lynn and Jane’s next book covers. Jane spoke as though those are coming up soon. Sadly, I keep falling into books, or articles on the internet, or housework (not much of that, sadly), and I need to get the pansies in, and finish the skirts, and (oh well) clean the refrigerator again! Life- same as for everyone else.
Not everyone I guess. This week I found out that one of my childhood friends, not a close friend, but the brother of a close friend, had died. John Paradis was one of my brothers friends, and brother of my friend Dotty Paradis, their parents were friends of my parents- Ellie was one of my mothers school friends, so our families hung out together. I still haven’t heard how he died, but at my age, friends are dying more often. Still, “my age” always seems too young. It’s people our grandparents ages or parents ages who are “supposed to” die, as we forget that I am now older than my mother and grandmother ever got. The other thing that strikes me is that when a friend from your childhood dies, you have lost someone who “sees you” as that kid. When Tim Shanz came down to see Bob while he was dying, my initial reaction was “OMG he got old!” but within five minutes, he just sounded like Tim again- same as always. If Ælfwine were still around he’d still see me as the young blonde he first fell in love with. I’ll never have that with anyone else, even if I fall in love again. We lose a part of ourselves with each friend who dies. The world is disassembling itself around us.The fact that it has, and is meant to be this way doesn’t make it any more comfortable. Sadly, when I shared the death notice on fb, somehow I typed Joe not John when I was writing it up, and Liz had to call to correct me, as that goof showed up on his families fb pages (since we were fb friends). Sure they can catch mis-spellings, but when you put in the wrong name, they let it get by! I’m not trying to make it “all about me”, and part of me feels that being honest about my feelings is doing that. What I’d like to express that if someone like me who knew him for a fraction of his life is effected, this is happening hundreds of times with all the many people who knew him, worked with him, loved him, and as the song says a universe died with him, and with each person who dies. We each leave behind effects we created but have long forgotten, which are, in turn, passed on to others who will never know where those phrases, those habits came from. It’s probably good to stop and think about stuff like this when someone dies.
Maryalyce’s dog Bear died this week too, and while it’s not the same, when you’ve known someone and they’ve been a part of your life for years, especially when they give you the kind of love and companionship a dog does, it’s really hard. The “fudge” frosting on that crap cake is that so few people get how much it hurts. “It’s only a dog.” I don’t know anyone who feels that it’s not important when it’s the dog who loved them! And of course, in neither case is there a damn thing I can do to help those who loved them.
Megan has moved up to the rehab in Nashua that’s a lot closer, and I was hoping to go visit, but she’s still to weary for guests. I suppose if someone had been chopping around inside my belly, I’d want to put all my energy into healing, not putting on a brave face for guests too. Still, it always feels better when they get out of the ICU and into the rehab. I may not get to see her before Panteria though.
We heard it was supposed to rain tomorrow, so she and John repacked the trailer today, putting the tent in (It comes out when we go to Pennsic). We have to find the feast gear- we don’t have three full sets together at the moment. I’m looking forward to it, but the girls have been honest enough to let me know that they don’t care for camping, probably more so because I take a LOT of stuff to make it comfortable when there, which makes setting up and taking down harder. Today I’ve discovered a page called Pennsic Minions which is healthy young people who are willing to help set up and pack down for pay. Since Willow is going to be a bridesmaid at one of her friends weddings on the last weekend of the war, Kat and I are going to have to pack down without her, and this may make it possible. Our best plan so far is taking two cars to war so she can head home Thursday. We’re going to have to be ingenious, but we will make it work. Willow got the picture of the bridesmaid dress this week. I’ve seen worse. (I wonder how mine fell in the grand range of bridesmaids dresses. Good only for costume parties I’m guessing.)
This week we switched over from the green place settings to one setting each from the blue glass, the green glass, the red glass and the yellow glass sets. They aren’t all quite the same size or weight, but since it’s a “mix and match” look anyway, its fine. When Kat and I were out on errands, I dropped her at the dollar store while I went to the bank, and when I picked her up they were selling clear glass plates, bowls and salad plates. So we got a set in case a fifth person comes to dinner. The bowl is a lovely size for serving vegetables and I may pick up another.
The food this week has been totally uninspired, I didn’t feel like cooking and the kids didn’t feel like eating, so we had Mac and cheese, hotdogs, hamburgers, spaghetti… American fare and boring as suet. (except for that cake which I’d prefer to forget.)
This week I’m still watching musicals. I sent for a bunch of ones that I’d never seen before (or couldn’t remember seeing) from a list. The one that impressed me was Carmen Jones: an updated version of the Opera Carmen re-using Bizet’s music. The cast was all African American, which seemed a bit odd, although it worked well in Pearl Bailey’s number. I am more used to seeing Harry Belafonte singing Jamaican songs than opera, but he sure could sing! I could follow the bull fighters turning into prize fighters, and the cigarette girls turned into parachute girls. It was apparently written by Oscar Hammerstein whose musicals always dealt with pretty dark issues, like the prejudice in Show Boat, South Pacific, King and I, Flower Drum Song, and Sound of Music, as well as spousal abuse in Carnival, and the general underlying darkness in Oklahoma. I still have a pile waiting, but haven’t been working in the kitchen recently. I have ended up enjoying a few of the movies John’s watched this week, when he’s not using his ear-buds: Man thing, and RoboCop I caught most of. He does love his B movies! (I enjoy them too.)
Books I read this week included several of the paranormal romance books, Ghostly Ordeal, (the latest in the Harper Harlow series, it had far too much of her mother, and not nearly enough of Zander. I pretty much read it because I like Zander.), and three more Maddie Graves: Grave Discovery, Grave Decisions, Grave Seasons. I’m slowly reading Crown of slaves, I love his turn of phrase, but for some reason (perhaps because I read after going to bed too late), I keep falling asleep. I looked up and discovered that I have actually read Fly by night before. It really bugs me that I got 100 pages into it and didn’t recognize anything or expect any of the plot twists. What is the point of reading if you don’t remember it? I remember a lot of the stuff I read as a child, the boa constrictor killing the donkey in Swiss Family Robinson, many scenes in Heidi, I especially liked that she was looked down on for her dark curls and eyes. I remember Badger correcting Toad before going into battle and Toad sulking and saying: “teach ‘em, learn ‘em” over and over to himself, and poor Mole returning to his hole with the white washing stuff still there. I remember so many old books, why not ones from recent years? I’m reading the latest book in the Chronicles of St. Mary’s (time traveling historians): Hope for the Best, I love the snark, and the honest depictions of getting older, and slower, and dealing with co-workers you don’t care for, and frustration with those who don’t GET history, and yet still having adventures from Tudor London to pre-history. It’s a wonderful series and I love it so much I’m only letting myself read two or three chapters a night to make it last longer. It’s not that the mysteries in the romances are bad, they are just so much less than St. Mary’s. My life is made up of the bits and pieces of the books I’ve read- the things I’ve done in my head, as much as the things I’ve done in my body. I don’t want to lose them. (Maybe I subconsciously think. I store my memories in my fat, and that’s why I won’t let it go….)
I did read a book from the library 100 Greatest Cult Films, which was fun (I’ve just started Sinclair Lewis’ It can’t happen here, which isn’t, but I’ll write about that when I’m done with it.). No one should be surprised to find that I don’t agree with their list. Right off, I don’t think you should really call anything a “cult film” until it’s been at least twenty years since it was released. Maybe 10 if it’s got a huge following, and flopped at the box office. But I think a real “cult film” needs to have some staying power.
Aside from that, they didn’t include The King of Hearts, which played for 5 years straight in the Central Square Movie Theatre (I remembered it as 11 years, but the internet corrects me). It was a couple of blocks from our first house, and I saw it, and wasn’t impressed. But I would say that that makes it a cult film. This may be why they called the book Cult Films rather than Cult Classics, a more usual term, to get out of the time element. About a third of the ones named in the book were 21st century.
It seems to me that most are either horror or SF based, which may say more about how much that type of fan is more likely to get into watching them over and over, quoting them, wearing costumes, creating props etc. Some of the oldest films (in chronological order) are Freaks, Reefer Madness, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Little Shop of Horrors, Night of the Living Dead, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Except for Reefer Madness, which was a propaganda film, all these Cult Classics are either horror or SF. Not in those categories they included The Blues Brothers, Clue, Harold and Maude, The Shawshank Redemption and The Big Lebowski. These films did, however brake cultural taboos (I’m surprised M*A*S*H wasn’t included). I knew that speculative fiction requires a certain sort of audience, but I’d often dismissed the horror genre as a juvenile form of entertainment, right up there with beach party movies, and some of the sillier old SF. However, as I think about it, I’m seeing some other connections between Horror and Science Fiction, and the others; all explore the edges of what’s expected in society. Others on the list include several of our family’s favorites: Evil Dead II, Earth Girls Are Easy, UHF, The Rocketeer, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Galaxy Quest, The Iron Giant, and V for Vendetta. I think what makes a cult film different from the movies that everyone tells their friends to watch when they’ve just come out, and the ones where if they discover 30 years later that their friends haven’t seen a film they say “you’ve never seen that?” and force them to sit through it. The key word here is “cult”, which implies religion. A religion is a collection of stories that explains the world in a way that all the followers can accept.
Many cult films are of a certain type. I think it’s the symbols they use, as well as the message. Some times something in a movie touches you, so you want to share it, but a lot of others don’t get it. We liked Dragonslayer when it came out, but we didn’t take it as personally as we did Knightriders. (Romero grokked something about the SCA, and put it in Knightriders. Perhaps it was because he saw the Crown Tourney when Gavin was king, so we take it personally.) It was easier to tell if something had a cult following before we all had video players in our homes, you had to seek the movies in small theaters, or stay up for late night TV showings. When we first got our player, we got all the medieval films we could find (and afford) from El Cid to Robin Hood, the Vikings, the Longships, Ivanhoe, … (although I never found a copy of much mocked Black Shield of Falworth). I used to tell people that if they watched Knightriders, Man of La Mancha, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, they’d pretty much understand the SCA.
I think each subculture probably has it’s own cult films- theatre people relate to Noises Off. I’d say that Gamers would get The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, and Larpers would relate to Knights of Badassdom. Dancers often talk about The Red Shoes as life changing. Martial Arts people may like Enter the Dragon (or the Crow). I remember so many people telling me how profound The Gods Must Be Crazy was, but didn’t get it. There may be some sports movies out there that are good analogies for life- but I just don’t see it. I can see it in Shawshank or Cool Hand Luke. It’s about how you deal with all the unfair shit life throws at you. War movies have a lot of that. Steve is a big fan of the really weird ones like Delicatessen, and Donnie Darko, and often brings them to share with me. They’re interesting, but clearly he sees something I don’t- maybe he sees more of the strangeness of the world than I do.
I know Somewhere in Time has a following, I don’t know if it’s folks who like time travel, romance, or just very pretty people (or big hotels). I’m pretty sure Westworld had a following.I resisted watching Fight Club (in the book) for years, because it sounded like a glorification of testosterone, but when I finally watched it, realized that it sort of falls under the speculative fiction umbrella, although it wasn’t advertised that way. John Carpenter’s The Thing is a known cult film, and science fiction. I have seen sequels but not the original. I do see that there are a lot of characters in horror movies who are archetypes- they lend themselves to mythological thinking.
I was surprised that The Wizard of Oz wasn’t included. I suppose you’d have to either use personal preference or some arbitrary set of descriptors to decide which were cult films and which weren’t.
There’s an extra appeal to films that are hard to find, like foreign films, or the Harryhausen movies like Jason and the Argonauts. They were like cult films, because we’d look for them on TV. My kids have a greater understanding of the oriental horror movies like Ju-On: The Grudge or Ringu. After enjoying Kingdom Hospital, we went back and watched the Danish original, and I know several people who have learned Japanese simply because they don’t trust either the subtitles or the dubbing. Learning a language to enjoy an art form does show a deep commitment to the form. We love the Tremors series, but I don’t think that in any way represents a way of explaining life. Is that the difference between a cult film and one that isn’t?
My list would certainly include Fantastic Planet, which very much was an explanation of life dressed up in fantasy art. Knightriders explains how our subculture works. The Wicker Man is so revered in some neopagan circles that the remake was seen as pretty much blasphemous. I seem to remember that 2001: A Space Odyssey had a following. I know that the original Fantasia did, but got the impression that it was just people who liked to watch it while stoned. I think The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, La Cage aux Folles, and The Wizard of Oz are followed by the GBLT community. I think that they see the characters showing the longing for belonging and acceptance that they have in a world that seems alien. Of course both Oz and Alice in Wonderland are modern myths that bear the full burden of being used as the old ones were. I think we’ve watched 22 different Alice movies, and I’m sure there are more out there.
There’s another category of Cult film that I read about and that’s supposed to be all about Nostalgia, it may be that Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, The Blob, Bambi Meets Godzilla, The Goonies. The Monster Squad, may fall into that category. Many of the “monster movies” also trade heavily on the trope that we (especially kids) see dangers that those who are focused on the daily grind miss. Like fairy tales, movies often elevate “the simpleton” or “youngest” to the role of hero. I know the Billy Jack movies had followers (probably all aging baby-boomers now; several of Mel Brooks- from the Producers to Blazing Saddles to Young Frankenstein are probably cult films. I just don’t always bump into the particular group that goes bananas over a given film.
It’s sort of hard to separate any really good film from the category of Cult Classic: King Kong
Casablanca, Nosferatu… I guess the question is whether people have a strong emotional attachment to them, and use them as a filter for understanding the world. The entire Golden Age of Fantasy movies that was the 80s probably had a huge impact on the minds of the kids who grew up in it: Dragonslayer, the animated Hobbit and LotR, Excalibur, Conan, The Dark Crystal, Ladyhawke, Nausicaä,The NeverEnding Story, Krull. Labyrinth, The Last Unicorn, Legend, The Princess Bride, Time Bandits, Willow…. Wizards was from the 70s, but it’s linked in my mind.
OK, yeah, I got carried away by the subject. While reading the book I was arguing with the authors in my heads and jotting notes about not only points they made, but things I thought they’d missed. You have ended up on the receiving end of that for which I crave your kind indulgence.
Oh, and I wanted to share these new (to me) words with you:
Gelotophobia means “fear of being laughed at”.
Komorebi Japanese word for light filtering through the trees.
Remord (archaic) – to remember with a hint of regret.
Upcoming holidays this week:
Thursday 23 Taffy Day, Turtle Day, Lucky Penny Day, Sandwich Week, UK, Herb Week , Ireland
Friday 24 Tiara Day, Asparagus & Escargot Day, Scavenger Hunt Day, Road Trip Day, Brother’s Day
Saturday 25 Wine Day, Geek/ Nerd Pride, Towel Day, Jazz Day, Lindy Hop Day
Sunday 26 Cherry Desert Day, Paper Airplane Day, Redhead Day, Dracula Day, Neighbor Day
Monday 27 Hamburger Day, Grape Popsicle Day, Nothing to Fear Day, Player Piano Day
Tuesday 28 Brisket Day, (International) Hamburger Day, Slugs Return from Capistrano Day
Wednesday 29 Biscuit Day, Put a Pillow on your Fridge Day, Otter Day, Coq au Vin Day
That’s it until next week.