Weird Phrases That Work

Heyooooo! It’s Writing Wednesday!

I’ve just finished reading a book on the history of the horror genre (in literature) which made me want to read some more horror fiction right away, so I’ve started on the Penguin Classics edition of two of Thomas Ligotti’s short story collections combined: Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe.

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Awesome cover, right?

There’s one story called “Alice’s Last Adventure” about an elderly, ex-children’s author named Alice who starts experiencing “curiouser and curiouser” things. She has a tradition of reading to the local children from one of her famous books at the town library every year. Just before recounting the events of her latest reading, she says “Children have made me nervous ever since I stopped being one of them. Perhaps this is why I never had any of my own — adopted any, that is — for the doctors told me long ago that I’m about as fertile as the seas of the moon.” I had to go back and read it again. The phrase “as fertile as the seas of the moon” caught me completely off guard and I cracked up. It got me thinking about other odd turns of phrase that have stunned me while reading due to being gorgeous, profound, hilarious, eerie, or a combination of those things. Whenever I come across one of these gems, I turn my brain inside out trying to come up with something equally weird-but-perfect. Then I fail. THEN, I mess my brain up again trying to figure out how these writers even came up with something like that in the first place.

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One phrase that I constantly go back to is “trampled calmly” from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This phrase is used to describe what Richard Enfield (kin to our reader-proxy, Mr. Utterson) sees on his way home one morning at 3AM. Enfield witnesses a man (whom we come to learn is Mr. Hyde) encounter a young girl in the street. Enfield says the man “trampled calmly over the child’s body and left her screaming on the ground.” For me, the word “trample” evokes images of animal stampedes and crazed people at Walmart on Black Friday. It’s a word I never associate with calm. The first time I read those words, I thought, “you can’t be calm and trample someone… can you?” But what we’re meant to take from the word trample isn’t the frantic aspect often associated with the word, but the brutality of the action. That, combined with the fact that it was done “calmly” — in other words, deliberately and without remorse — is meant to illustrate how evil this dude is.

Another beauty that blew me away when I first read it can be found in the story “The Outing” by James Baldwin in his magnificent collection Going to Meet the Man. (If you haven’t read this collection, do it IMMEDIATELY. Especially the title story.) The outing is a religious one on a boat full of church members. It’s part recreational, part spiritual, as they hold a service on the boat. The moment of beauty comes during the service.

And the Holy Ghost touched him and he cried again, bending nearly double, while his feet beat ageless, dreadful signals on the floor, while his arms moved in the air like wings and his face, distorted, no longer his own face nor the face of a young man, but timeless, anguished, grim with ecstasy, turned blindly towards heaven. Yes, Lord, they cried, yes!

Did you spot the golden phrase? If you answered “grim with ecstasy,” congratulations! You’ve won nothing, but thanks for playing.

“Grim” and “ecstasy” are another pair of words you probably wouldn’t put next to one another if given the choice. But in this context, it totally works! The phrase is almost Gothic, especially within the larger framework of the scene. The service taking place in the story is, I believe, a Pentecostal service. There tends to be a lot of energy and emotions flowing openly at these services. People holler, they cry, sometimes they writhe and their bodies contort because they’ve apparently become a vessel for the Holy Spirit. James Baldwin was the step-son of a Pentecostal preacher and therefore grew up attending such services (and even leading them during his brief period of conversion to the faith). Thus, he was able to recreate it, infusing it with that unique mixture of awe and peculiarity which familiarity and distance provide.

Why do “grim” and “ecstasy” work so well together here? The members of the church in this story are fervent believers. In the above passage, the Holy Ghost, the spirit of God Himself, touches one of them. This is a moment where I imagine emotions run so high, they become almost unbearable. In this case, we’re shown a euphoria so extreme, it’s almost painful. The word preceding  “grim with ecstasy” is “anguished”. Can you imagine that? Baldwin may have based that combination of words on memories of past church members, or he may simply have used them because of how striking they are together. Either way, I love it.

What’s the most surprising set of words you’ve ever read?

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Happy Wednesday!

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Darkness, Villainy, and Zeitgeist

Hey there, y’all. It’s — you guessed it — Writing Wednesday!

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Today’s WW is actually inspired by my recent trip to the cinema to see Suicide Squad, but this isn’t a movie review (if you’d like to read one here, let me know). I just wanted to bring up one aspect of the film that made me think. **Though this isn’t a review, there may be some things in here that you’d consider spoilery, so feel free to split if you’d rather avoid that.** The trailers leading up to the release of Suicide Squad painted the picture of a dark, violent, irreverent film full of bad people who love doing bad things, or who’ve never even considered the concept of bad vs good as it applies to them (as is generally the case with the most impactful villains). These villains are not like that. Maybe the only one of the gang who gets close is Harley Quinn, but even she succumbs to the cheesiness eventually.

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In the trailer, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) says she wants to create a task force using the “most dangerous people on the planet,” the “worst of the worst”– “bad people” who “could do some good.” The thing is, these so-called “worst of the worst”… aren’t. The Suicide Squad is made up of 2nd and 3rd tier villains. In fact, Amanda Waller turns out to be worse than any of them and she’s considered a “good” guy (at least in the political sense). Villains that might actually fall under the “worst of the worst” heading — like, say, the Joker — 1) don’t allow themselves to be caught by government entities, and 2) are far too selfish and volatile to be part of a task force or group of any kind. The worst of the worst have absolutely nothing to lose, therefore the threat of death means nothing to them. People with nothing to lose can’t be controlled.

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You need someone you can lord something over. And these people, most of them, have things — people — they care about, which causes them to stay in line (for the most part). Harley has the Joker; Deadshot has his daughter; El Diablo, arguably the most powerful member of the group, had someones, but doesn’t anymore, which is why he has to be forced into action as a member of the Squad. They all want their freedom, which hasn’t exactly been promised by Waller, but their cooperation ensures that they get to live. There’s also the possibility of having time shaved off their prison sentences.

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By the film’s climax, the squad has formed a bond (one you might argue wasn’t exactly earned, but eh…) and actually act in the best interests of one another, with one character calling the rest their friends before striking the finishing blow against the movie’s ultra-villain. Which leads me to my point. These villains act more like heroes than any villains I’ve ever seen, and I wondered if the movie I thought I was going to see based on the trailer became the movie I ended up seeing because of the current social/political climate. Terror groups are a major concern; weird politicians who talk out of their asses and promote division within the nations they represent are enjoying a heyday (not exactly new, but the degree of extremity is nonetheless frightening); the people meant to protect citizens are allowing their unfounded fears to overtake logic again and again, leading to unnecessary violence and death; anger, discrimination, and confusion have all come to a head — this is the world we live in.

So when we go to the movies to escape our daily lives, watching a group of baddies terrorize a city and enjoy every minute of it regardless of the destruction they cause and the lives they destroy might take viewers to a place they aren’t prepared to go mentally or emotionally. Maybe the filmmakers humanized the Suicide Squad to the point of barftastic cheesiness as a way to provide relief. Like, “Look! You don’t really have to be scared of these people!”

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Superman’s comic book tenure began during wartime, a light in the darkness for the American people meant to inspire hope and optimism. Marvel movies are coming out back to back, with Captain America in particular enjoying a resurgence in popularity. And the movies that we used to see about Batman (and even the Superman movie that came out before Batman v. Superman) were more insular in their concerns. Batman fought against his own enemies, enemies who threatened Gotham, not the world. Superman caused insane amounts of destruction in Metropolis without batting an eyelash because his main deal was stopping Zod no matter the cost. But now, in Batman v. Superman and Captain America: Civil War, we’re seeing concern from heroes about how their actions affect the citizens of the world. I believe this, just like Suicide Squad‘s lack of real darkness in its villains, has at least a little to do with what’s happening now.

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Zeitgeist plays a role in novels, too, and novels are like museums — their length and (typically) distance from the time period they’re reacting to give us the space to examine those periods in history and explore how we feel about them. I’ve been trying to think of a novel I’ve read that was a direct response to what was happening at the time it was written, but I can’t come up with many off the top of my head.

Can you?

Happy Wednesday!

O is for Ouch…

Do any of you go through your day normally, and all of a sudden some mysterious new bruise catches your eye? WTF is that about?!

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The latest.

The bruise shown above is actually far darker and uglier than it looks here. But since one of my light bulbs blew, my bedroom is like a cave so I had to stand right next to the window to get a photo that didn’t make it look like a sewage stain. The only reason I noticed it at all was because I was exercising in front of a mirror and the weird dark blotch I already have on that arm (from a bad burn when I was little) seemed to be in the wrong place. I stopped moving and got a good look. Then I poked at it. Then I scowled because I end up with a new one like every week. Am I sleep walking or something? (For the best real life sleepwalking story I’ve ever heard, please see Kristen’s post about her husband. I laughed so hard, I barked.)

It’d be fine if I were Kim Possible or some equally badass person whose life is so action-packed, I could logically forget having gotten random wounds.

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But I’m not. I’m one of those boring people who can’t somersault across a six-lane highway, or scale buildings. I can barely cartwheel. And I’m cool taking the elevator. Is my skin leading a double life with another body? Maybe the O in today’s post should actually stand for “occult.”

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Other than keeping an eye on my own carcass, I’m not up to much this weekend. Since I’ve heard so many good things about the new Captain America movie, I’ll probably go see that. And try to get some work done. I’ve hit a tricky bit in the story that’s been effing my brain up, so I need to spend some time working through it. What are you up to this weekend? I hope your skin stays unblemished.

Happy Friday!

J is for JG Ballard

Last Friday, I saw High Rise, a film starring Tom Hiddleston based on the novel of the same name by JG Ballard.

High Rise is set in an all-inclusive high rise apartment building (and when I say all-inclusive, I mean supermarket, school, gym, etc.) its residents only leave to go to work each day if they must; the point of the place is that you don’t have to leave. The apartments are set up in a kind of on-the-nose classist way, with the haves dwelling on the upper floors and the have-nots living on the lower floors. Hiddleston plays Dr. Robert Laing, a bachelor whose sister’s recent death sent him looking for a fresh start. He lives a little more than halfway up — 25th floor. At first, everything is fine. But after the electricity and other resources are monopolized by the rich, things descend (very quickly) into a frenzy of violence and depravity. People start killing and raping and stealing. Trash piles up. People stop going to work and sending their children to school. The food in the supermarket rots because nothing new is being ordered. And nobody leaves. They’re happy to fight this self-made war within the apartment building.

According to synopses of the book I’ve read online, the people are content to live so savagely because, in the building, they can finally give into urges that would be unacceptable out in the real world. So despite the danger they face every single day, they prefer to remain in their apartments.

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Maybe if I read the book, I’ll be able to suspend my disbelief. In a novel, you spend time with the characters & their thoughts, and things unfold much more slowly — so you have the space you need to connect with what’s going on. I couldn’t suspend my disbelief while watching the film. Firstly, this descent into madness takes place in less than three months. ?!?!?!? Secondly, the city skyline is visible from the apartment balconies AND these people have cars. Are you telling me NOBODY thought to leave? Everybody insisted on staying? They weren’t completely cut off from the world (as I said, most of them worked in the city). Maybe some occupants left, but the filmmakers decided not to spend any time on them.

Thirdly, why did the supermarket run out of stuff? Now this one, I do have a guess about. I think the rich wanted to teach the poor a lesson by withholding resources (the designer of the buildings lived on the top floor of this particular building. He and his wife owned it.), and then things just got out of hand and eventually even they grew accustomed to killing their own pets for food (yes, this is what happens). But somehow, even this explanation rubs me the wrong way. Would people who are used to having the best of everything toss that aside as quickly as the people who didn’t have much at all? I’m not saying they wouldn’t do so eventually, but the speed with which these things happen…I think that might be my biggest problem. That, and the fact that the film spends less time on helpful commentary/explanation and more time on beautifully stylized shots of the action. The descent into chaos happens in a montage, and it made me want to punch someone.

The film itself is like candy for your eyes, which is cool. And the style is definitely fitting of the era the story is set in (the 1970s). I just wish there’d been a little more help from the director as far as getting me on board with what’s going on in this world. But Hiddleston is hot, so there’s that.

He’s like…creepy-hot. Hahaha. Maybe I should do a post on my favorite “creepy-hot” guys.

I’ve also been reading Crash (another novel/festival of weirdness by JG Ballard) for like…three or four weeks. I generally read quickly, and the story is only 185 pages long, but because of Ballard’s concentration on the same, very specific & very graphic details, my brain got tired and I needed to take a few breaks. He went to medical school, which reeeaaallly shows in his writing. Especially in a book about bodies, like Crash, which is about a man who is sexually aroused by car crashes and the multitude of injuries they make possible, and thus starts causing accidents on purpose. It’s about more than that, but you might never visit this page again if I really got into it, so I’ll just leave you with that. XD

Have you read any JG Ballard? What are your thoughts? Do you find Hiddleston creepy-hot, too?

Happy Wednesday!

I is for Internet Dating

I just recently (as in, like, three days ago) embarked on a journey of internet weirdness and joined a dating site. I’ve had a few false starts with these things in the past (i.e. letting the sleazy creeps scare me into deleting my profile after about 5 minutes). But it’s actually not such a bad thing to do if you’re a shy lil flower who finds it hard to meet people in real life. This is what I’ve learned so far:

It can be overwhelming.
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SO many people join these sites, which means there are crazy amounts of profiles to sift through. Lots of people will view your profile, a good chunk of those viewing will “like” your profile, and some will send you messages. Being bombarded with information from so many different humans at once has made me want to dig a hole and stuff my head into it ostrich-style. Since joining, I’ve actually said, out loud, multiple times, “Whyyyyyy do you people keep talking to me? Go away!” Then I remember, you joined a dating site, you fool; you brought this apocalypse of desire upon yourself. Congrats.

There are actually cool folks to be found online.
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In the midst of all the crazy, I’ve actually connected with a couple of decent guys already. This does not translate into DEAR GOD, YES — THE SEARCH HAS ENDED. Nope. Far from it. But I definitely see the potential for good friendships to come out of this if nothing else. And in London, where you apparently need to be out rioting and grinding in a gaggle of people before anyone is convinced you’re actually having a good time (a guy at the BFI called my night boring last Friday when I told him I’d be spending it watching the Hitchcock/Truffaut film. A guy who worked there.), it’s nice to have someone you can occasionally shove into the faces of passersby and scream “See? I’m out with someone! I’m having fun! SEE?!”

The creeps are still out there.
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In the name of research, I really wish I’d recorded all the user names I’ve encountered thus far containing the words “dick” and/or “naughty.” I only search through the profiles of people who’ve already liked mine to begin with, so I won’t even venture a guess as to how many other “naughtybigdick”s and “miis0horny”s and “pussydestroyer”s make up the entire site (These aren’t real usernames. Then again, they probably are.), but I think I can say with total confidence the answer is “a lot.” (Come to think of it, that’s probably a username, too. A bit on the subtle side. I might actually talk to that guy…). But to be fair, the creeps aren’t just the people who send you messages asking if you “punish bad boys” (yes, this happened). I also count as creeps the guys who don’t listen when you point out that the two of you aren’t looking for the same thing. Yes, I’m interested in friendship. No, that does not mean “friends with benefits.” Yes, I enjoy sex. No, I don’t want to have it with you.

It’s important to know and STATE exactly what you want.
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If you were my shrink, I could give you a (semi-long) list of reasons why I still fight the urge to be the kind of person who accommodates others more often than not. I am fairly laid back when it comes to a lot of things, but I’m talking about putting your own needs/wants aside so as not to seem “rude.” Now that I’m closer to being a grownup, I’m willing to shout it from the rooftops: BE FUCKING RUDE! OK, fine, you don’t have to be a jerk about it (if you don’t want) but whether you do it politely or with brick-bashing harshness, tell people what you want! Otherwise, how will they know? You know how folks say “life is short” and “time is precious” and all that? That includes YOUR life and YOUR time. Being clear about who you are and what you’re about saves time. Which means it saves lives. Like your life. Which is precious. Damn clichés.

Picky is protection.
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This goes hand in hand with the above point. In my first attempts at online dating, I set my parameters wide. Like, ages 21-50 wide. I was worried that if I didn’t try to accept every type of guy that I might miss out on the right one. Now I have a much better idea of what I want & don’t want, and what I’m willing & unwilling to accept. It’s actually a huge relief to have a more precise picture of what I want because it automatically cuts out everyone who doesn’t fit (and saves time 🙂 ). There’s nothing wrong with being picky. It means you won’t settle. Of course, I’m gonna pick my battles and not stamp EVERY guy’s forehead with a big, red UNACCEPTABLE. But it really does make life easier when you can say “no” with confidence, and not let the possibility of missing out keep you bogged down by a bunch of nonsense.

Finding the right person is still hard.
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Is it easier for a shy person to meet people online? Yes. At least it’s easier for this shy person. However, “the one” did not magically appear on my computer screen sporting a unicorn-glow as soon as I uploaded my profile. It’s tricky navigating the interwebz and picking out people who might actually be compatible with you. Yes, the algorithm is supposed to handle that for you but, as one of the guys I’ve met said, the compatibility percentage can be majorly misleading. You have to use all of those likes and dislikes and “I want”s and “I don’t want”s to exclude the glaring “no”s, then you examine what’s left and hope you make a genuine connection with someone. There are so many people in this world, and every single one of them is different, which makes finding the person for you that much harder. Hopefully, after all the naughty boys and big dicks, it’ll be worth it in the end.

Happy Tuesday!

G is for the Gregorian Calendar

Hey, hey, hey!

**A couple of gifs are absent from this post bc WordPress and the interwebz hate me. Check back later for the missing goods.**

So, OK… Leap Day was yesterday but I still wanna talk about it because it fascinates me. I’d always wondered why the day even exists. Apparently the appearance of this mysterious day in February is down to a disparity between the Gregorian calendar (365 days) and the amount of time it actually takes for the Sun to orbit the Earth (365.2422 days). The extra day is added (almost) every four years to make up the extra time the Gregorian calendar doesn’t account for (I read a Telegraph article that explains the exception as years that are “both divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400”).

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So people born on February 29th don’t get to celebrate their birthdays on the actual day every year 😦 BUT they can reasonably get away with claiming to be much younger than they actually are (win).

There’s also the whole ladies proposing to men tradition on Leap Day. This, I kinda have a problem with b/c it’s like “Oh, hey — it’s Feb. 29, so it’s OK.” Gee, thanks for the crumb 😡 I say, if you want to propose to your guy, do it! Eff what day it is.

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I’m not familiar with many of the famous “leapers” or people born on Leap Day. The person I immediately think of when I think of Feb 29 birthdays doesn’t even really exist.

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It makes complete sense that Jerry Gergich (from Parks and Recreation), a guy who drew the short straw in almost every aspect of life, would be born on a day that only comes roughly once every four years.

Do you know any interesting Leap Year trivia? I know I could just Google it, but asking is more fun.

Happy not-Leap-Day!

B is for…

I like monsters. It says so right over there  (>>>) in my little bio blurb! Whether they’re monstrous on the outside or on the inside (or both) makes no difference — I love ’em all. Because what makes a so-called monster monstrous is that it’s different from the rest of us in a way that’s perceived to be dangerous, which (in my opinion) makes them fascinating. That’s why B is for Beasts.

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I’ve always been compelled to do things that scare me. Going into Hot Topic for the first time as an 11 year old after my dad insisted the store was “demonic” (my dad’s not a fan of death metal XD ); eventually reading Johnny the Homicidal Maniac all the way through despite being scared shitless the first time I picked it up (and it opened to a panel featuring a dismembered corpse in a bathtub full of blood. I wanted to cry.); getting pierced in various places; getting tattooed; and befriending the loners who other people made fun of or who seemed standoffish/mean. I needed to know what all of these things and people were really like.

People made fun of me, too, for being weird, but I thought I was a pretty good person all things considered. Therefore, I figured there must be more to those other folks who got harrassed, too. And, perhaps predictably, every single time, those “weirdos” actually turned out to be some of the coolest, most interesting, and most accepting people I had ever met. But that’s the way, isn’t it? The things that scare you tend to become less frightening the more you learn about them. Monsters are the figurative embodiment of what every society fears most. Once you unpack that fear, there’s no telling what you’ll discover — about those beings and about yourself. (FYI, this is kinda what my thesis is on. Sorry y’all, but it’s taking over my life!)

Here are a few of my most favorite beasts.

1. The Beast, Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

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Everyone knows this guy, right? Well in case you don’t, he’s a prince who, as a preteen, is transformed by a sorceress disguised as an old hag into a monster because he turned her away when she came to his castle seeking shelter. The only way to break this curse is for someone he loves to return his love, despite his appearance, before the last petal of the enchanted rose the sorceress gave him falls on his 21st birthday. When we meet the prince again 10 years later (“10 years we’ve been rusting…”), he has (understandably, you might say) become the royal French equivalent of the old guy who sits on his porch with a gun and screams at anyone who even thinks about coming near his house.

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First, can I just say that kids can be jerks? Especially kids who are used to having it all. It’s through years of life experience and help from the grownups in your life that you either learn to be kind, or become an even bigger jerk. My point is, should a 10/11 year old kid really get turned into a beast because he won’t let a strange old lady into his house in the dead of night? I dunno man. In any case, he certainly learned his lesson, huh?

What I love most about this character is that he actually takes the risk, after so many years alone, of letting someone in (literally and metaphorically), and when he does, he ends up finding real happiness. The story is slightly complicated in that you can understand why the townsfolk are scared of Beast, but at the same time, after getting to know him through his budding relationship with Belle, the way he’s misunderstood doesn’t seem altogether fair, especially with douchey Gaston as his beloved opposite.

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It’s another one of those “never judge a book by its cover” stories, and a damn good one at that. It teaches us that underneath every shouty, hairy beast with an amazing library is a hot guy with a castle and a lotta money. Isn’t that the greatest lesson of all?

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2. The Beast, Over the Garden Wall

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Here’s a purely malevolent monster for ya. Over the Garden Wall was a special miniseries that ran on Cartoon Network briefly. 10 episodes, each around 10 minutes long (give or take). OtGW follows a pair of brothers, Greg & Wirt, who get lost on Halloween night and need to find their way home. They end up in this crazy world where animals go to school, dead people dress up in pumpkin suits after they’ve become skeletons, and evil lurks around every corner. The Beast is the most feared and evil creature of all. A woodsman is forced into the employ of The Beast, gathering special wood from a special forest. The branches he collects are turned into a unique oil which fuels a magic lantern, a lantern the woodsman thinks contains his daughter’s soul, and which he thus protects at all costs. The wood the oil is made from is actually grown from captured human beings who’ve become trees. But the lantern, which The Beast warns must never go out if the woodsman wants to keep his daughter safe, doesn’t contain the soul of the woodsman’s daughter after all — it contains The Beast’s soul. Turns out he’d tricked the woodsman into keeping him alive.

This isn’t one of those beasts that is portrayed as “misunderstood” in a way that begs sympathy. This beast is deceitful, and causes others pain on purpose. There is, however, a lot left unsaid about him. You never learn his origin, how his soul came to be in that lantern, anything. He’s simply a baleful presence whose influence seems to extend endlessly. He also sings opera. You only ever see him as a silhouette with glowing eyes until the very end, when the woodsman learns the truth and shines the lantern on him.

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There is something we misunderstand about The Beast until the final episode that links him to the rest of us: he feels fear. Specifically, a fear of death. The reason why he tricked the woodsman into capturing all those people and turning them into lantern oil in the first place was simply because he wanted to stay alive. Everybody’s afraid of something, amirite?

3. Dorian Gray, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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This one you probably remember from high school. The Picture of Dorian Gray is about a young man who is the object of an artist’s infatuation. The artist paints a portrait of Dorian that completely captures the way the artist views him, i.e. perfection. As Dorian becomes more and more depraved, the Dorian in the painting grows more ghastly, a representation of the real Dorian’s horrific nature, while Dorian Gray himself remains ageless and perfect as a painting — his wish come true. Dorian Gray is one of my favorite literary villains of all time. I couldn’t believe how terrifying he became. And of course this story has one of the best, most inimitable endings ever: Dorian stabs his portrait self in the heart, but with the destruction of the painting comes the sudden rapid aging of the real Dorian Gray, who is found bearing the mortal wound he inflicted on the painting. The portrait on the other hand returns to its original state of beauty.

I haven’t read this story in years, but I remember enough to say with confidence that calling Dorian a shit is probably the understatement of the century. That guy is on another level. Certainly beastly. But it’s his desire for absolution that ultimately leads to his death. I really need to reread that one.

What/who is your favorite beast?

Later!

Pre-departure Montage

What up?

I’ll be heading back to the good ole US of A tomorrow (EDIT: for the holidays; not permanently!) and am STILL preparing, so instead of a week of normal posts, I’m going to give you everything at once. I’ll be visiting with loved ones until the end of the month, so I’m not sure if next week will be back to normal posting or if I’ll just take that time to be away from my computer completely; we’ll see. In the meantime, here’s a week’s worth of posts in one!

Treat Yoself Tuesday: Brunch @ Darwin Brasserie

Susan and I went for the All Day Sunday Brunch at Darwin Brasserie, one of three eateries at the Sky Garden (which is inside the Walkie Talkie building at 20 Fenchurch Street). Walking into the restaurant, you pass a full to bursting cold buffet table with tons of eats, including salmon, bread, prawn salad, deli meats (prosciutto, ham, salami, and the like), fruit smoothies, and a dessert table covered in creme brulee, jam and chocolate-filled donuts, blueberry cheesecake, and other lovelies. In addition to taking your pick from the buffet table, you have a Bloody Mary bar (which we took advantage of — traditional for Susan; oyster & Chinese chili for me), a “milkshake” bar, a juice bar, and a hot dish of your choice from the kitchen. I went for the Beef Hash with fried egg; Susan went for the full English Breakfast. Susan enjoyed her full English (except for the black pudding). I would have enjoyed mine if not for the brown sauce mixed into the dish. They gave me a dish of brown sauce on the side in addition and honestly I would’ve preferred to just have it on the side — that way I could choose how much I wanted to use. Other than that though, the food was fantastic, and the after-brunch-views were of course spectacular. I’d love to go back to check out the garden more closely some day soon.

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Writing Wednesday: What I’ve Read Lately

I have a habit of reading several books at once, but since I’ve only just had my Confirmation, I’ve only just started reading fiction again. As such, I’ve only finished 2 books so far.

Less Than Zero is Bret Easton Ellis’s first novel. He started writing it while he was still in highschool; finished it in college. He grew up in the Valley with rich friends who lived in the Hollywood Hills, so this novel about jaded college freshmen from LA with too much of everything definitely has details scoured from his own experiences (at least as far as the indiscriminate sex and drug use). For me, this book hit a little too close to home, not that I know what it’s like to grow up with rich, film industry big-wigs as parents in a Beverly Hills mansion; but it did remind me of what it can be like to be young in Los Angeles… in this case, not necessarily a good thing. Clay comes home for his winter break from an East Coast college and pretty much falls back into the life he had with his friends before he left. But his mindset’s shifted slightly, so the things his friends do (which escalate from “Oh, they’re just young” to “WTF?!”) don’t always sit well with him, especially as they get more and more outrageous. This is not a book for the faint of heart.

If you’ve read The Bone Clocks, the events of this story will be somewhat familiar to you as they take place within the same universe. This story has at its center a mysterious residence which becomes something different depending on who visits. The people in charge of it want one thing in particular, and will do anything to get it, including manipulating reality. I can’t say too much without giving vital things away, and I think the less you know going in (excluding what you may have gleaned from The Bone Clocks) the better.

As for what I’m in the process of reading, there’s The Loney (Andrew Michael Hurley), The Road to Little Dribbling (Bill Bryson), Lunar Park (Brett Easton Ellis), Never the Bride (Paul Magrs), and various comic books and graphic novels.

Travel Thursday: Heading “Home”

I told you all that the concept of “home” is sort of complicated for me. Well, I’m going back to the country of my birth this week XD Hahahaha. Sounds so formal and dumb when you say it like that. I’m going to a couple of cities to see some of my favorite people. The thing I’m looking forward to most is having an early Xmas with my mom 😀 (since we can’t spend the actual holiday together) We’re gonna eat everything in the world on Thanksgiving, watch our favorite movies/TV shows, decorate her tree, and exchange gifts. I’m super excited to give her her presents (and to eat her cooking again)!

The last time I visited the US, it felt really weird. Every morning I woke up anxious, thinking I had to get to work, before remembering that I don’t live there anymore. It’s f**kin weird going back to a place where you had a life when your current life is elsewhere. And it’s so easy to fall back into the same routine. Going to your favorite restaurants, watching your favorite stuff on TV, hearing people speak the way you remember (and regaining your accent for a while). But there’s also this feeling that everything you’re experiencing is somehow new, even though it isn’t. It’s crazy.

OBSESSED: “BMO Noire”

I love cartoons. A lot. One of my favs is Adventure Time. There’s one character that’s a computer — his name is BMO. He can walk around and talk and think independently. Recently, I fell back in love with an older episode where BMO has his own story apart from Finn and Jake. They go to a party and leave BMO home on his own. Finn’s pissed b/c he can’t find one of his socks, so BMO spends the whole episode pretending to be a Raymond Chandler-esque detective who finds out what happened to it. The voice actress who does BMO’s voice is Korean and she keeps her accent when she does his voice; his dialogue in this episode is also full of  misinterpretations of American/Western phrases from old detective novels. It’s hilarious and adorable. The video above is a preview of the episode from when it first came out. If I could post the episode in full, I would. But I can’t. So you should find it and watch it.

So that’s everything. I’ll probably say hello at some point while I’m away — on Twitter or in a post here. But for now, I’ll say: Have a great week, y’all!

OBSESSED: Sea Calls Me Home

Hey y’all 😀 Here’s this week’s obsession:

My manager played this song at work and I was hooked. I love the chorus, the saxophone break, and how it makes me feel like I could drop through a portal into another world (I also love that the title reminds me of the movie Song of the Sea, which I’m still obsessed with by the way…). Julia Holter, you’re my ears’ new bff. Why don’t you and my old buddy Rufus Wainwright get cozy together on my playlist…

Have a great weekend everyone!