November 2020

Halloween full moon through the trees in my yard

The title for this month’s post should be, “Random Thoughts” because you’re going to get a little bit of everything!

We’ve been staying home a lot lately because it is very scary around here. We’ve got the highest cases per capita in the US, and our health department is telling people to do their own contact tracing because they can’t keep up. So here, we are supposed to rely on other people to tell us if they have exposed us to Coronavirus. Gee, I’m sure that’s going to work out swell! So we are going to work, shopping once a week, and staying home the rest of the time.

The extra at home time means I actually watched a few movies for a change. I watched Tremors: Shrieker Island, Blood Quantum, one episode of The Haunting of Bly Manor, two episodes of the old series Night Gallery, and rewatched The Girl with All the Gifts. For me, that’s a heck of a lot of tv time!

First, The Girl with All the Gifts. After rewatching the movie, I realized why I didn’t remember much about it and why I had the feeling I hadn’t liked it: I didn’t have a damn clue what was going on the first time I watched it.

I read the book not too long ago and it was soooo much better (but aren’t they always?), so I decided I’d have to watch the movie again and see what I had missed. The movie, it turns out, is much better *after* you’ve read the book. If you see the movie without reading the book, you don’t always understand the importance of some of the things that happen in the movie.

For instance, when Melanie looks out over the English countryside in the movie and the camera spends several minutes on that, you don’t understand that she has spent her whole “life” inside that building and has never seen the outdoors.

The movie barely touches on the whole scent-blocker issue, so you miss out on a lot of the tension of, “I can smell you” that is present in the book.

The movie just tries to touch on the high points to move the action along in the limited time they have, and so it’s like getting scenes/plot points without context, especially the emotional context. So if you watched the movie and didn’t care for it, I suggest reading the book and then watching the movie again. It really does help.

What can I say about Tremors? Not much, without spoiling the movie if you haven’t seen it. I will say that it was SO much better than five and six. Not great, mind you, but better. I am a hardcore Tremors fan, but I had already sworn that if this movie was as bad as five and six, I was done. No more Tremors for me. Thankfully, this movie was better. Michael Gross says he’s open to another Tremors, but . . .

Which reminds me, I also watched The Legend of Burt Gummer. It’s a cute, short little documentary on YouTube.

Blood Quantum was a hell of a movie. The premise is that the zombie outbreak occurs and Indigenous people are immune. The movie is at times a social commentary and a raging gore-fest at others. And dark. Holy crow, there is no happy ending here. You’d think it would be so easy to stay safe, if you were Native. But no, the fates of the whites and the Natives have been inextricably intertwined. I enjoyed the movie, but I know it’s not going to be everyone’s taste. It’s the kind of movie I like to call “Alle-gory.”

The only writing I accomplished last month was for my class. I did “The Other MILF: Monsters I’d Like to F***” about the trend of presenting women as monsters (interesting side note, Donald Trump referred to Kamala Harris as a monster) and how many of them are STILL sexualized (like Angelina Jolie as Grendel’s mother in the Beowulf movie).

My other paper is still in rough draft stage, with a working title of “Nasty Boys.” The topic of that one is the exploration of “high-brow” works that are really bawdy, like “Miller’s Tale” from Canterbury Tales. Non-English majors tend to think of the old writers (who are primarily male) as being high-brow and well-educated, when a lot of their work is really the literary equivalent of penis graffiti. Though that sounds bad, the point isn’t that those works don’t have value or should be dismissed, of course, but more that people shouldn’t have this mindset that the work is too lofty or sacred for the common man.

On the publishing front, another of my stories has been published recently. I’ve been so swamped with everything else that I haven’t had a chance to promote it!

I love, love, LOVE the anthologies from Third Flatiron, and I’m so proud this one includes my story, “US Portal Service.”

Here’s a great article for my writer/artist friends: Everyone Gets Bad Reviews and No One Should Read Them. My general policy is to avoid everything about my work once it’s published, lol, except for providing links to it. For example, in the anthology above, I will read every story except mine. I won’t listen to my stories if they pop up in my podcast feed. Once my work is out there in the world, I want nothing to do with it! And I never, EVER, read reviews on any of my work.

Speaking of reading (see, I warned you this was going to be a long post), I finished reading Hillbilly Elegy. It’s been on my to-read list a long time, but I was spurred to finally get around to reading it because it was brought up (briefly) during the recent Writers Conference.

My plan of action was to read the book, then delve into the controversy surrounding it. Thing is, I finished the book, and it’s not apparent what the controversy is, at least not to me. Granted, the author gets on his high-horse quite a bit, but that’s nothing ununusal.

So now I’ve got to get online and do a little research into it, and then I’ll read Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy.

Last, but not least, here is my October #500Stories500Nights list:

  • 1: “Across the Styx of Norway,” by Jacob M. Lambert (Podcasts from 3F-Third Flatiron, 11-17-15)
  • 2: “A Precious Quarry,” by Kev Harrison (Tales to Terrify 449)
  • 3: “Billy Bagbones: a folktale,” by Dan Fields (Nocturnal Transmissions 83)
  • 4: “The Lights Beneath the Sea,” by Aaron Vlek (Wicked Library 1012)
  • 5: “Temporal Fracture,” by Matthew C. Butcher (The Other Stories 55.3)
  • 6: “Dune Song,” by Suyi Davies Okungbowa (LeVar Burton Reads, 9-21-20)
  • 7: “The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye,” by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny 29A)
  • 8: “Mirror, Mirror,” by RT Raynaud (Nocturnal Transmissions 48)
  • 9: “And Cast it From You,” by Scarlett R Algee (The Wicked Library 1013)
  • 10: “Who Will Greet You At Home,” by Lesley Nneka Arimah (The New Yorker: Fiction podcast, 10-1-20)
  • 11: “The Midwives,” by Jude Reid (Starship Sofa 628)
  • 12: “The Last Love Letter,” by Gretchen Tessmer (Cast of Wonders 433)
  • 13: “From Beyond,” HP Lovecraft (Nocturnal Transmissions 46)
  • 14: “Reopening,” by Tommy Orange (Chronicles of Now podcast, 9-2-20)***
  • 15: “Burnover,” by K.D. Julicher (StarShipSofa 627)
  • 16: “Watkyn, Comma,” by Joan Aiken (Selected Shorts, 10-1-20)
  • 17: “The Pop-up Artisan of Drink Me Café,” by Marie Croke (Cast of Wonders 434)
  • 18: “Exhibit Label,” by John Waite (Tales to Terrify 453)
  • 19: “The Moctezuman,” by E.C Stever (The Overcast 94)
  • 20: “What You Make It,” by Dantiel W. Moniz (The Chronicles of Now podcast, 8-26-20)
  • 21: “Battle Borne Dreams Never Die,” by Paul Alex Gray (StarShipSofa 644)
  • 22: “A Good Friday,” by Barbara Jenkins (LeVar Burton Reads, 10-12-20)
  • 23: “Spanish Winter,” by Jennifer Egan (Selected Shorts, 10-8-20)
  • 24: “In the Space of Twelve Minutes,” by James Yu (Uncanny 36B)
  • 25: “Someplaces It’s Turnips,” by Jonathon Duckworth (Tales to Terrify 455)
  • 26: “Teratology,” by Reggie Forester (Nocturnal Transmissions 87)
  • 27: “Tunda,” by Michael Landry (The Wicked Library 806)
  • 28: “A.I. Family Values,” by Ben Spillers (StarShipSofa 645)
  • 29: “Low Energy Economy,” by Adrian Tchaikovsky (LeVar Burton Reads, 10-5-20)
  • 30: “Wedding of the Century,” by Shawn W Foley (Tales to Terrify 454)
  • 31: “There’s Always Time for Christmas,” by Felix Blackwell (Nocturnal Transmissions 44)

***Tommy Orange is a hell of a storyteller. The part of this story that really got me is when the kid is getting ready to go to the newly reopened school, and he thinks, as he’s going, “taking him to . . . what?/ his death? / his mild illness?” Powerful!

That’s it for this month! Until next month, stay spooky!

Moon in the trees in my yard