Lessons From: Blair Witch 2016

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I need to treat new horror movies like iOS updates – wait a week and see how it all shakes out. But, alas, I have wasted my money. Don’t waste yours.

Anyway, the lessons:

  • Don’t go camping with strangers.
    • Don’t go camping with people who make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Don’t go into haunted woods were people have been murdered, have disappeared etc without some kind of plan for survival. Don’t treat it like you are spending the night at Jellystone.  True, the plan probably won’t work, but at least have one.
  • If you get hurt at the beginning of the trip, go back to town immediately. Don’t let people convince you to keep going. They aren’t your friends.
  • LOUD NOISES ALONE DON’T MAKE A MOVIE SCARY!
  • Don’t write sequels to movies and have new characters act as clueless/naive as previous characters.
  • Don’t go camping. Play the Blair Witch Games instead.

Other notes:

  • This is the 2nd movie I’ve seen this year with a sibling going into the woods to find a sister. I enjoyed The Forest more.
  • In addition to Blair Witch, yesterday I also saw Iced (1988) and Island Claws (1980). The other two movies were more entertaining/fun.
  • One character mentions the house at one time was a stop on the Underground Railroad. The Blair Witch was “active” during the pre-civil war-maybe she was an accidental abolitionist? Whatevs.

WILTW: The Hitch In The Witch

(Disclaimer: Not a review of the new movie.)

I was excited to learn a few weeks ago that a horror movie called The Woods was actually a new Blair Witch movie in disguise.  The first lucky folks to see it walked into a film festival expecting to check out The Woods. They didn’t realize it was a new Blair Witch the movie until it started playing. When the movie was over, all of posters in the theater had been changed to Blair Witch. This kicked off the marketing machine and a franchise that people thought had died in 2000 was back.

In prepping for the revival, everyone is talking about the first 2 movies. What I learned this week is how  the success of the first Blair Witch did not trickle down to the original trio lost in the woods: Heather, Josh and Mike. A movie with a $75K budget, made $250M. They got to go on a few talk shows to promote the movie and fruit baskets.

Because the actors used their real names in the movies and those characters belong to the studio, any/all kinds of merchandising could be done without the actors getting a cut…

Heather Donahue recently wrote about the experience in The Guardian. Beyond not getting a share of the wealth, the trio got little credit for their part in making it a success:

It’s a strange thing to get no credit where credit is deeply due. By strange I mean shitty. We were supposed to be really scared, so we weren’t actors (all of us are formally trained). We improvised all dialogue from an outline, but we weren’t writers. We shot it and independently provided the impetus for many of the scenes you see in the film, but we were not directors. While this work became record-breakingly profitable, what we were was dead.

In other BW news, I didn’t realize that Blair Witch 2 – Book of Shadows started out as a decent (or at least better) film. The 1st Blair Witch was done independently and then picked up for distribution. The studio was involved with Book of Shadows from the beginning–and made a mess of it:

The whole Exploring Series done by GoodBadFlicks is pretty good.

Well, I’m off to the movies.

WILTW: Werewolves In Cabot Cove

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What I Learned This Week: Many of the guest stars in the Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble episode of Murder, She Wrote (1989) were also featured in 80s horror films.

I used to watch this show with my grandmother on, I think, Sunday nights. She recognized many of the stars and I was proud of myself when I started figuring out who did it before Jessica did.

Watching the series now as an adult (via Netflix), I’m picking up on lots of themes that were over my head. For example, there are quite a few episodes that feature a younger man/older woman romance. Also, what’s interesting to me is how Cabot Cove changes through the series. It goes from being a quiet coastal town to a place where rich/affluent outsiders will call you out of the blue willing to pay a small fortune to buy your home.

Anywho, the series itself was just good, murderous fun. In Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble, the ghost of a witch who had been burned at the stake has returned to Cabot Cove. Also, the author of a book about that witch is in town to drum up publicity. Hmmm, I wonder if these two events are connected…

Guest stars include:
Brad Dourif (Child’s Play)
Roddy McDowell (Fright Night / Fright Night 2)
Christopher Stone & Dee Wallace Stone (The Howling)
Russell Nype (The Stuff)
John York (Night of The Creeps)
There are probably more that I didn’t catch.

Here’s a clip showcasing Brad Dourif:

 

Stories/Lessons From Grandma

landolaswan

#1
When they were teenagers, my grandmother helped saved her sister’s life. A snake bit my great aunt Susie; she screamed and took off running. My grandma chased her down while others ran for help. Grandma tore a strip of fabric from her own dress and tied it around around aunt Susie’s leg tight above the wound to keep the venom from spreading. Then, someone cut a baby chick in half and pressed it against the bite to draw the poison out. The half chick turned black–proof that the poison was being transferred to it.

Though she survived, Aunt Susie was “marked” by the snake for a little bit–her tongue would flicker out on it’s own.

#2
To make homemade wine, you will need 1 gallon jug (if you use a milk jug, wash it out), a bowl, a funnel, a pound or so of white grapes, sugar, bread, water, a dark corner and time.

Rinse off the grapes, pull them from the vine and put them in the bowl.

Mash the grapes. You can use your hands or a potato masher. Make it good and pulpy.

Using the funnel, pour/push the grapes (juice, pulp, skin etc) into the gallon jug.

Dry the funnel. Then, use it to pour the sugar on top of the grapes. You want a layer of sugar on top of the grapes but not too much. Eyeball it.

Take your slices of bread and tear them into pieces. Not to small (crouton size), not to big. Push them into the jug (no funnel) until you have a full layer on top of the all of the sugar.

Fill the rest of the jug with water, seal it tight, give it a good shake and put it in a dark corner–the back part of the basement is best.

You’re going to leave it alone for 6 months to a year–except every few weeks or so (when you remember it’s there), go down and give it another shake.

When the wine is ready, pour it out of the jug, using a cheese cloth to strain out the skin, seeds, bread etc. The liquid that’s left is your wine. If you are planning for the wine to be ready in time for a holiday, make 2 jugs worth. Keep one for you and your family, the other you can pour into mason jars and give as gifts to your friends.

 

 

 

 

Goodnight, TW

At The Grand Canyon

Tamara, a friend that was really more like a sister to me, died unexpectedly early May 10th. She was 42 years old. This has been a really hard week.

We used to text and or/talk to each other every day. That last week we were talking about Lemonade – she found herself quoting it in everyday conversation and I joked about her being sucked into the Beyhive. We were excited about the summer. Any day now we were going to pull out our calendars to plan our annual beach trip and figure out which prides we were going to hit.

The beach trip would probably have been Asbury Park. I always fixed up the cooler with sandwiches, fruit and drinks. Martina drove. Tamara would bring the chips. She enjoyed finding new, weird snacks for us to try. If we liked something, she would smirk and refuse to divulge where she got it from. It was most likely Trader Joe’s—she loved that place.

Tamara at Martina's Birthday Party

Tamara and I met online, in some AOL chat room about 20 years ago. We were part of the same email group-Sistahnet- and she said “hi” because she recognized my screen name/email address. We met in the flesh in 1997 at Black Gay Pride DC. It was a meeting that almost didn’t happen because of a misunderstanding. (I was 24, she was 23 and we hadn’t quite gotten to the “no more drama” stage of our lives.) However, I showed up on her doorstep, we talked it out and have been buddies ever since.

At Niagra FallsTraveling was one of her favorite things. When Jet Blue had it’s All You Can Jet promotion, she took advantage of it and visited several cities in 30 days. Every place she visited, she had a list of things to do and places to explore. She had lobster ice cream in Cape Cod, in San Francisco she sat quietly with the redwood trees in Muir Woods. She took photos of raccoons in Vancouver, British Columbia—despite rabies warnings posted on the fence.

Tamara got away from organized religion as soon as her grandmother couldn’t make her go to church anymore. She had rituals – celebrating nature/the equinoxes. On Facebook, this is how she described her religious beliefs: Doing the right thing without a promise of heaven or a threat of hell.

Last year, Tamara was right next to Martina when I came out of surgery. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen until the morning of. I told her it was happening—and she was there.

She always claimed that she didn’t like horror movies. Sappy, romantic lgbt films were her favorite. Yet, she’d text me when Friday the 13th was on—because she was watching it…

Tamara has heard all of my weird, awesome, goofy ideas and strange ideas.

I’m going to miss her.

2 Pisces Under A Super Moon

2 Pisces Under A Super Moon

 

Just Pay The Lady And No One Gets Hurt

payherwhatyouoweher

I don’t understand why people are upset by the fictional woman Rihanna plays in the BBHMM video. I mean, I understand, but really, I got a question…

Like many mystery/thriller movies, the last couple of scenes of the video fill in what the viewer didn’t “see” before:

Did you see the look the accountant had on his face when his wife(?) kissed him goodbye? He knew trouble was coming. Then, after she was kidnapped, he went on a spending spree–other women included–and refused to pay the ransom to get her back. (This is why earlier you see Rihanna slamming down phones, etc.) He could have saved that woman at any interval–how come no one is mad with him?

Dude betrayed his client (Rihanna’s character) and his wife – but people are mad with the client’s response?

The kidnap of a loved one is not a new plot device in mystery or horror fiction. Yes, the kidnap victim was topless and upside down for a few seconds (gasp!) but she could have been treated so much worse. Rather than sunbathing and a forced slumber party, R and crew could have used the wife’s body to make back what the accountant owed. They didn’t. They could have killed her when it was clear he didn’t care enough to save her. They didn’t. (She’s alive when they bring her back to the house.)

If the video were from the point of view of the kidnapped woman, it would have probably showed her coming to grips with the fact that her man really could care less about her.

But this video ain’t about her…

Did you hear what Nina said? (Everybody knows)

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Whenever I see someone in a social media comments section trying to explain an ism/phobia to someone who just doesn’t “get it” (especially if the confused person is a self-proclaimed ally), I want to encourage the explainer to drop it and move on.

Tired of trying to explain your humanity? Stop doing it.

Tired of trying to justify your upset? Stop doing it.

Tired of having to say the same thing to the same types of people every time an incident (racist/sexist/transphobic/etc) happens? Stop doing it.

The person who can’t “get it” — especially about racialized oppression? They know.

You’ve heard this song before, right? Have a look/listen, but pay attention to the lyrics AND the audience.

Your clueless friends and acquaintances know.

Just like their parents knew.

Just like their grandparents knew.

Even the commenters who show up openly hostile to pick a fight–they know.

Okay, so maybe some people don’t know that they know. Denial is a thing. Well, there have been enough blog posts, articles and books written — and being written–for confused folks to get what they need on their own. Even better, there are people who get paid to teach! Let the true seeker of knowledge invest in a Google search, a library card or a “recognizing an ism and doing something about it” training.

I know you’ve seen this too:

“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.”

-Toni Morrison

The person who (either gently or with rage/hostility) always needs you to justify/explain yourself/teach but never “get’s it” is also a distraction.

That “explaining” time can be turned into “self care” time. It could turn into “community conversation and healing” time. It can turn into a “let’s concentrate on our own powers and how we can strengthen each other” time.

The seeker of knowledge is not showing up in the comments section — under a post where someone has expressed grief/frustration/sadness – asking someone to help them understand, challenging someone to explain, or engaging in hypothetical “what if” scenarios – etc. If someone puts the onus of their “education” on someone else – then they don’t want to know.

It hurts to have to explain, exclaim, reclaim and defend your humanity over and over again.

And don’t forget – some people enjoy watching you suffer.

To make a long story short (too late!), stop entertaining strangers and leave your clueless ally friends in their confusion. They can find their own way out.

Tell’em, Nina:

WILTW: Bad Science Reporting

If you are trying to eat better, one giant obstacle is sorting through all of the “information” that’s about. Low fat? Low salt? High fat, low carb? High carb, low protein? Protein, no carbs? Red wine and dark chocolate are a winning combo? Meat protein over plant protein? Vegan? And it goes on and on and on…

How can this be? Thousands and thousands of scientific studies floating about–conflicting left, right and sideways. How can you separate the good studies from the bad one? How can you tell which ones are really significant?

If you have any faith in news media to help straighten it all out…nope.

What I learned this (last) week: there’s a good chance that the journalists working on the science section/segment of whatever news media you consume are regurgitating press releases and study summaries rather than actually investigating and reporting.

John Bohannon purposely did a flawed study, submitted the paper to a scientific journal and newspapers across the world just repeated his “findings” despite the red flags.

It was, in fact, a fairly typical study for the field of diet research. Which is to say: It was terrible science. The results are meaningless, and the health claims that the media blasted out to millions of people around the world are utterly unfounded.

You can read his whole confession: I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here’s How.

Once the major news media reports on a health study, smaller outlets, bloggers, etc pick it up–everyone remixing or rewriting the same thing–with few people casting a critical eye on the actual study itself.

Fortunately, there is an organization/website dedicated to actually reviewing science news stories and science news press releases. HealthNewsReviews reviews the big news stories of the week and scores them based on 10 reasonable criteria, including whether or not the article is exaggerating a study’s conclusions. Even when a story passes on a criteria level, HNR still points out if readers should be weary.

For example, here’s the HNR review of an NPR story on headaches and migraines.

HNR doesn’t cover every news story. What it means is that readers of science news, especially in regards to diet/nutrition/medicine/health, have to take even articles from reputable news outlets with a grain of salt. Or, if you prefer, a pinch of chocolate.

Dark Chocolate & Caramel Fudge (with sea salt!)

Dark Chocolate & Caramel Fudge (with sea salt!)

What Gall!

The blog has been quiet, but I’ve been busy:
smallanniversary
*Turned a year older (long live Pisces!)
*M & I celebrated 18 years
–surprised M with a painted sketch from Odera Igbokwe
* Had a gallbladder attack/surgery — nothing like being rushed to the hospital with a belly ache that can’t stop, won’t stop
–note: both being obese AND losing weight can be a factor gallbladder attacks. I bet when doctors encourage patients to lose weight, the tend not to mention the gallbladder risk thingy.
*I’m fine now and can lift heavy things again
*Visited Foxwoods for the first time (and last). They don’t have the technology to keep cigarette smoke out of common areas of the resorts.
*I created a pinterest board for lectures, talks, etc featuring black/poc folks. Only things that I’ve actually watched (and enjoyed), will be pinned.

bpoct

Through The Looking Glass and What Helen Found There

Candyman Candyman Candyman Can-

cm-sugardaddy
Don’t worry, you have to say it 5 times for the ultimate Sugar Daddy to show up.🙂

I’ve been thinking about Candyman lately. Quick recap: Candyman was the son of a slave who fell in love with a white woman–who’s father showed his disapproval by gathering a posse to kill him. The lynch mob cut off his hand, covered him with honey and chanted “Candyman” as the bees stung him to death. Residents of Cabrini Green housing project believe that if you call his name 5 times, he shows up and kills you.

Actually, I haven’t been thinking about Candyman so much as I’ve been thinking about Helen–the one who calls him. She’s a white grad student studying urban legends who hears about the Cabrini Green version of Candyman from older, black janitorial staff at the college. Unlike the other “call the killer in the mirror and he will kill you”  stories, it’s tied to a current, unsolved murder and Helen is intrigued. Immediately, she goes into urban archeologist/explorer mode. Helen is going into Cabrini Green (interact with the actual residents) and introduce the story of Candyman to academia.

goingin

Well, Helen is naive on two fronts.
1) Turns out that someone else in academia had already done Candyman research. Lucky for the movie, this doesn’t deter her.
2) As a young, educated white woman, she thinks her status/place in society is secure–and she is untouchable.

The real horror of Candyman isn’t the murders – it’s Helen learning how easy and quickly one can lose perceived place/status/privilege.

The first reveal of this comes early on when Helen learns that the very condo/apartment building she is living in was originally built to be a Cabrini Green like housing project. Because of the location of the building, the powers that be decided to put wallpaper over the cinder block, upgrade the lighting, and charge unsuspecting yuppies and arm and a leg.

bernLike peeling back wallpaper, Candyman just pulls back the fancy exterior of Helen’s world/life. Over the course of the movie, she gets sucked into the criminal justice system, institutionalized and, in one way or another, loses everyone she loves. (Alas, poor Bernadette.)

Helen doesn’t feel the full brunt of these systems – their money does have some influence – but it’s still devastating.  She goes from arrogantly walking into Cabrini Green feeling no one would dare touch her because they think she’s a cop* to being pursued by the cops.

What’s interesting about the movie is that her redemption comes in not giving in to despair. Though her life has been devastated (good bye marriage, potential career, freedom, etc), she’s still willing to save someone else. If this movie were made today, Helen would somehow magically get back everything she’d lost. But it wasn’t, so she doesn’t.

Helen sacrifices herself and becomes a saint of sorts. Just don’t say her name 5 times.

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Lesson: In the wave of a hook, you can go from being one of “us” to being one of “them”.
or
What you summon in the mirror is really what you are calling forth from yourself.

*She’s actually wrong about this, too.

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