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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

First Snowfall! (and Vermont Vaudeville, Scary Movies, and Daggone Tamlin)

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

First Snowfall! (and Vermont Vaudeville, Scary Movies, and Daggone Tamlin)

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winter lamppost
We had our first snowfall last night. Around nine o'clock, we began to spot the first fat snowflakes among the rain, and by eleven o'clock, it had changed over to all wet snow. It was sticking a little on the ground by the time we went to bed around 1 AM, but when I eagerly peeked out the window this morning, I was disappointed because it had all melted already.

In the mountains, however, there is quite a bit on the ground. Bobby is currently pacing around the house waiting to be picked up by a friend to go up to Jay Peak, where it's estimated they got about 6 to 7 inches (15 to 17 cm). They'll "earn their turns" by hiking the mountain and snowboarding down. Power to them! That sounds like a lot of work, but Bobby is over the moon.

At his colleague's house about 15 minutes north of us, she posted a picture on Facespace with about two inches (5 cm) on the ground, so it seems we just missed it being cold enough to stick, which isn't particularly surprising, since we tend to be a couple degrees warmer here in the valley than in the surrounding areas.

Yesterday, we went to the matinee show of Vermont Vaudeville. We loved it. The show was held in the beautiful still-undergoing-restoration Hardwick Town House. It was hilarious. I think they cross-pollinate a lot with Bread and Puppet; I recognized some of the actors from B&P shows.

It was a really miserable day yesterday: in the mid-40s F (about 4C) and this constant, omnipresent, drizzly rain. We decided to pack it in for the evening. We'd had a stupendous and large lunch at Positive Pie in Hardwick, so we grabbed some Chinese food at the Wok 'N' Roll in Newport and rented three movies from the video store.

We moved up here for a variety of big reasons related to lifestyle, ideals, and emotional health, but we constantly discover little things that we love and never expected. Having a video store is one of them. An old-school, locally owned video store, not a Blockbuster, certainly not a RedBox. Bobby and I love movies, and one of our favorite ways to spend an evening is seeing a movie in a theater or renting one at home. Yet neither of us are particularly wild about streaming movies. The reality is that we live in the middle of nowhere and have satellite Internet, and the nights when you most want to watch a movie at home--when it is raining or snowing--are the nights when the satellite Internet is least reliable or, during storms, may not work at all. We also like having the cases to hold in hand, to read the reviews and the blurbs, look at the cover and the stills that have been chosen, see if the movie was presented at any festivals or won any awards, etc. Discovering we had a video store up here was an amazing find for us.

During October, we rent mostly-to-all "scary" movies. New England Video has a special where you can rent three non-new releases on Saturday night for three bucks and keep them for three days. Since we're expecting poor weather this weekend and three bucks for three movies is an amazing deal, then we rented three scary movies. Last night, we watched one called Frozen--no, not THAT Frozen--about a trio of college kids who get stuck on a high ski lift after hours. It was the stupidest thing ever! It appeared they were citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (I will avoid using the term that Vermonters use for this particular type of tourist from that particular state), skiing/riding at a fictional resort in Massachusetts, but there managed to be man-eating wolves? It was awful! But of course, the awfulness is part of the fun for scary movies a lot of the time. All the same, this wasn't the kind of awful that I recommend watching.

We've rented a few this month that I've really liked. Probably my favorite wasn't anywhere near being a horror movie or even much of a thriller, even though it was labeled that in the store (which is why we rented it): Into the Forest with Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood, about a pair of sisters who are stranded in a remote home in Northern California after an inexplicable power grid failure knocks out the power to the area (maybe the nation?) for months. I pretty much agree with the Ebert review I linked. It was a great movie but the ending was a little weak, in a large part because it couldn't provide resolution. There was a little disconnect from the realistic for me too, as when the sisters decide to use the last of their preciously hoarded gasoline to burn down their collapsing house. Why exactly? Ebert calls it "unapologetically feminist," which I disagree with only because I disagree on principle that a movie about two women in a survival situation MUST be shoehorned as feminist. What kind of pop culture do we have when drawing two principle characters from the same half of the population must be construed as some kind of statement? No one would question a husband-wife pair or two brothers or seek to label such a narrative choice as carrying some kind of message. Because the only way I think that Into the Forest carries an "unapologetically feminist" message is if one accepts the premise that a pair of women would be helpless and best served by male assistance in a survival situation and that the movie represents some kind of ideal rather than a realistic depiction of how two women would act under those circumstances. However, one of the things that made the movie so appealing to me was that most of the women I know would have acted similarly. They would have soldiered on, they would have made it work, they would have used a full array of resources--not just muscle and bluster--to survive. Because that's what women do, that's how we roll.

A very similar movie that I don't recommend is The Forest with Natalie Dormer about a woman who goes to Japan to seek her missing sister last seen in the local "suicide forest." This one illustrates why PG-13 horror movies very often don't work for me: There is an overreliance on jump scares and gimmicks like flashing to a "scary" face that looks like something sold in the mask section of a Spirit Halloween Superstore. I cannot for the life of me imagine why an actor like Natalie Dormer accepted a script like this. (She was part of what sold this particular movie to me despite the rating.)

You're Next was remarkably good in the slasher genre. I thought it'd be stupider than it was. It was stupid in places and extremely gruesome, but it wouldn't be slasher horror if it wasn't, right? The premise is that an affluent, troubled family is vacationing in the woods (notice how these movies almost always take place in settings much like where I live?! sheesh ...) when they are attacked, seemingly at random, by crossbow-wielding killers wearing animal masks. There were twists and turns that I didn't expect of this one, an unexpected hero (getting back to that whole "unapologetically feminist" thing ...), and the only time I have ever seen a blender used as a weapon.

Population 436 was a pretty good one about a census taker sent to survey a town where the population has remained the same for over one hundred years. I liked the slow reveal in this one as you learn alongside the main character exactly what is going on. It reminded me a lot of Shirley Jackson's famed short story "The Lottery."

The Darkness with Kevin Bacon was solidly ehhhh. It'd be a decent PG-13 haunted-family movie except that my PC millennial self is a little squeamish about the idea that the haunting comes from stolen Native American relics because we need an Other to explain the scary things in our lives, right? Also, the success of storylines like this one requires an assumption that non-Abrahamic belief systems are inherently scary, which as someone from the scary group, I tend to think is more often the other way around.

So speaking of Haunted October, my own Haunted October is going well and so not-so-well at the same time. It's going well because I am still hooked on the story and write at least a little of it every day. I don't think I've had a 5000+-word day, but I've had a handful of occasions where I manage a few thousand in a sitting, which is good. But it's nowhere near being done, which looks like it won't be ready to post even part of on Halloween (since I don't like to post unfinished work), and at this point, it also threatens my NaNoWriMo aspirations, since I'm not going to put it on hold to start something new. So at this point, I probably need to just call it "Tamlin" and forget about the Haunted October piece. I can't bring myself to be disappointed in myself, however, for missing a self-imposed deadline because of my enthusiasm for a story that has been in my head for years.

Last night, I finally got to some sinister supernatural monkey business. Yes, JUST LAST NIGHT. I still have a lot of story to tell.

This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

  • Thanks for the movie reviews! I might check out one or two of these.
    • Are you a scary movie fan too? I sometimes feel like the black sheep among my flist for my strong liking/interest in horror movies! :D
      • I appreciate a story with something behind it, like the theme of "Control your dreams, don't let your dreams control you" from "Nightmare on Elm Street", pure scariness ("Halloween" and "Poltergeist") or even, if the mood is right, horrific ("Saw" or "The Strangers"). As long as I'm safe at home and it's not a dark and stormy night I can handle the scary... usually!
  • Since I utterly *adore* "The Lottery", I will definitely check out 'Population 436.'

    The movies I plan to watch this coming week are: Nosferatu, Rosemary's Baby, Psycho (1960), The Fearless Vampire Killers, The Wicker Man (1973) and probably a few others I haven't decided on yet. But as you can see, I lean heavily on the old, classic versions. (Big surprise, eh? ;)
    • They shared in common an isolated settlement that has developed odd and sinister quasi-religious traditions that are based on superstition, projecting a veneer of perfection with a dark heart that only comes to be known as the story progresses. I enjoy stories/movies like that, where you follow the PoV character in a process of discovery.

      I've heard of or seen all of them except The Fearless Vampire Killers. Unfortunately, I've only seen the Wicker Man remake with Nicholas Cage, which I've heard does no justice to the original. I'll have to see if I can get my hands on the original.
      • The Wicker Man original is *great*, while the remake is... considerably less so.

        The Fearless Vampire Killers is really good and I hope you get a chance to see it sometime. I won't say more because I don't want to spoil it.

        I usually watch movies I've already seen, especially horror movies. Otherwise they (the horror ones) tend to bother me for a long time afterward. The strange thing is, they never used to bother me but all at once, they just *did*. Not sure why, exactly. ::shrugs:: Oh well.

        Edited at 2016-10-23 08:13 pm (UTC)
  • Looking forward to the Tamlin fic, whenever it's ready to be shared!
    • Thanks! I'm happy with the story so far. I have some sections I want to polish and rewrite, but I don't normally have this much enthusiasm this far in.
  • First snow…

    Video store! We had one of those in Florida just down the road from us and it makes me sad to think that it might be closed. I don't know if it is or not and I don't even remember the name of it to check. I miss video stores; they always had some movies I wouldn't have thought existed and the algorithms in the pay-on-demand service we have with our cable (we don't have Netflix, etc.) are terrible.

    Yay Tamlin! :D As for Nano: they changed the rules a couple of years ago so that you can add 50k to an existing work. Of course, that presumes the story will be that long.
    • they always had some movies I wouldn't have thought existed

      So true! Especially when we watch horror movies in October, we just browse the horror section. Since a lot of them are independent or limited release, we find a lot of stuff we might not have even known about otherwise.

      As for Nano: they changed the rules a couple of years ago so that you can add 50k to an existing work.

      Okay, you are so totally my NaNo lifesaver this year! You can probably tell I haven't done a NaNoWriMo for quite some time now. :D

      I had noticed in reading about the YWP that I didn't see any rules about starting from scratch, but I assumed that was unique to the YWP (or I was just overlooking something). I know some of the kids who are interested in participating have already started stories, so I was hoping for their sake but had no hope for myself!

      Welp, "Tamlin" is now my NaNo project. Maybe I won't add 50K words, but I'll have a good excuse to keep adding a steady word count to it in any case, and if it doesn't have another 50K in it (I want to say it doesn't but it's already at 25K and I feel like I have so much more story to tell so who knows!), at least I'll be finished by the end of November.

      Thank you again SO MUCH for the help you've given me! :)
      • You're welcome! Sometimes I think Nano's my third fandom; I can't drag myself away from it. I'm even rebelling this year and researching for fifty hours rather than writing (my writing goal is a 1815 word story to get my lifetime Nano count up to 725,000 words) and yet I'm still hanging out on the Nano site.

        I know pretty much nothing about the YWP other than what I told you earlier, but I doubt they'll have stricter rules than Nano itself.

        Yay! And you are very welcome.
        • YWP seems to be NaNo but they can set their own word counts. There is no separate set of rules. And the separate section of the site, from a webmaster's perspective, seems mostly to keep the program compliant with the U.S. Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which forbids websites from collecting information from children under the age of 13 without parental consent. As a teacher, I can act as a parental proxy for my participating students, but I suppose they need a separate part of the site to make that work.

          It seems NaNo has relaxed a few things since I last participated. I noticed they are no longer hammering on the idea of writing without rereading/editing either, which always bothered me (since rereading what I last wrote is part of how I get in the mood to write more).

          725,000 words! WOW!
          • I wasn't sure about the different rules or not; one of my writing group does the YWP (she just turned fifteen), but we've never really talked about the differences.

            I think it's not just to comply with that act (having a seperate section would make that easier, I also think), but also to keep kids from stumbling across, say, the erotica genre forum or other adult topics the main forums can discuss.

            They have relaxed a lot over the years. To me, it's been gradual changes, but once they became a non-profit and after the founder left a few years ago, things began shifting. I hadn't realized how much until you started talking about Nano.

            725,000 words! WOW!

            I began doing Nano in 2004 and with the exception of 2013 or 2014 (whenever Lyra and I ran the Silm reread and I deliberately aimed for a low goal), I've reached 50k and some years I went for more. I did say I'm a mite obsessed… But the "crash it out and edit later" really works for me.
  • I am glad Bobby is happy, but I am not at all ready for snow yet here (we did have one snowy Halloween in recent memory--maybe five years ago or so--but that is highly unusual). It's been chilly for a couple of days now. I think the hopes of any further truly warm weather here have pretty much passed. I am cold at the moment. But I think it is warmer outside than it is in my house!

    Scary movies are not my favorite thing--unless one wants to call Game of Thrones a scary TV show. I think I can call it that. There is generally something on that show that is right on the cusp or has passed the edge of the horrifying and terrifying for me and I enjoy it.

    I am very excited about your Tamlin story. It can't be too long.

    Edited at 2016-10-23 10:36 pm (UTC)
    • Apparently snow before Halloween is the norm for us here! He had a great time today. And I enjoyed the fact that he could look at all the Facebook posts from various resorts about their first snowfall and people hiking to do runs and not have to listen to him complaining about being stuck in Maryland! :D

      I think GoT is pretty intense as far as certain horror elements that I find particularly difficult to watch, namely human cruelty. The only horror that tends to bother me beyond the in-the-moment adrenaline rush that a good thriller/horror movie provides are those that feature a lot of cruelty because I know that humans are more than capable of those kinds of things, and I tend to think overlong on that. Supernatural stuff is fun but I don't believe in it, and movies that use animals or nature as a fear element are usually so exaggerated to be unbelievable, but there are plenty of people in the world who under the right circumstances--or no circumstances--would do the worst GRRM can imagine.

      I was just reading different versions of the "Tamlin" ballad when this comment popped into my inbox. There are so many! It's such an interesting, compelling story. It's good that you won't mind if the story's long; I think it's gonna be! :D
      • And I enjoyed the fact that he could look at all the Facebook posts from various resorts about their first snowfall and people hiking to do runs and not have to listen to him complaining about being stuck in Maryland! :D

        I can just imagine! As long as you can stay warm in your little house this winter, it does not sound bad to me at all. I am one of the few people who prefer the winter to the summer. Although, I do wish I had better boots! And another winter coat. I don't like mine very much. It's nice, but it's a long puffy coat. I feel like I am walking around encased in a pillow.

        • I think I'll do okay here this winter. The worst weather to me is in the 40s/50s and damp. That weather is physically uncomfortable to me and there is nothing fun to do in it. I like colder weather because I'd rather have snow than rain.

          Our house stays very warm. There have been times when it's in the 40s or even the 30s outside and we don't have to put the heat on because of all the south-facing windows. It's basically a greenhouse! We avoid putting on the pellet stove until the temperature in the house drops into the 50s because, even on the lowest setting, the house heats up super-high and really fast!
  • I ... don't see a lot of movies, and when I have a choice, I prefer fantasy and / or animation (well, most animation is fantasy!). Have never really cared for horror! Except, maybe, as side plots as in LOTR.

    I love Tamlin! Are you (eventually) going to post it f-locked? I assume it is o-fic that you may submit for publication, so can't leave it out in the open.
    • I love pretty much any genre of movie, except I tend not to be a huge fan of action movies (which includes most superhero movies). Fights, explosions, and car chases do not hold my attention at all. I have watched those movies with Bobby, fallen asleep during a car chase or a gunfight, and woken myself up again when the noise level drops to where I can safely assume something more interesting to me is going on.

      I am definitely going to post "Tamlin" here, and yes, it will be under f-lock. It's been forever since I've shared o-fic here. (It's been forever since I really wrote o-fic!) I have no idea what my intentions are for the story, but I respect people here more than any others as far as fiction-writing goes, so I absolutely want to share the story and hear any feedback readers want to give.
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