Little Women was lovely!

I used the last day of my winter break to see Little Women. I hadn’t read the book, and if you’d asked me yesterday what it was about, I’d have waved my hands vaguely and mumbled “Period drama? About girls growing up?”, which wouldn’t have sounded interesting at all, but you know, I see all kinds of crap because we have one theater in town and the selection is limited, so I’d go see it anyway. Jeez, but I was clueless. It’s a fantastically thoughtful film about women who are all different and have different aspirations and have to navigate oppressive social structures and often compromise their goals…but can still sometimes find happiness. Or not. I honestly thought at the beginning that I was going to have trouble keeping track of all these women, who was who and who was trying to do what — I am infused with patriarchal bias myself — and figured it was going to be Sex and the City in rural Massachusetts in the 1860s. It is so much better than that, and the acting was phenomenal, and Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth all stood out as real and important people.

Go see it if you can.

I am now in the unusual situation of having seen three excellent movies in the last month. Little Women, obviously, and The Lighthouse (a story of a descent into madness that didn’t rely on jump scares and gore), and Parasite, about class warfare and artificial dichotomies and opportunities between the rich and the poor. There hasn’t been a single superhero in tights in the bunch, and I’ve been really, deeply enjoying my outings. Superheroes have an appropriate niche, of course, and I’ll almost certainly go see any that show up in my town, but it turns out that movies that illustrate real issues and don’t resolve everything with punching and explosions are much more satisfying. It seems I need more fiber in my cinematic diet, with only occasional bites of flamboyant desserts.

(Oh, wait, I just remembered — I also saw Jo Jo Rabbit, another terrific movie. I am overwhelmed with great films lately!)

Isolation, madness, death

The wind has begun to howl, and promises to rise. The temperatures are frigidly bitter. The first snowflakes are falling, and soon I’ll be trapped alone in my home. Alone…my wife is a thousand miles away, I’m the sole guardian of this lonely old wreck. She promises to return next week, but can you trust the airlines? I may be here forever, abandoned. Did I say alone? Not quite. There is a sullen black cat here, watching me. There is madness in her eyes. We shall be howling at each other before this is over.

Then I think, am I in a Robert Eggers film?

So I decided to watch The Lighthouse to find out. Yep, definitely. My situation could be the premise for Eggers’ next film. Fortunately, I loved it, so bring it on — one of the best films of the year.

It felt much like The Witch, moody and atmospheric, with a growing sense of dread. You know no one is getting out alive, and it’s going to be their own paranoia and fear that destroys them. Every character is flawed, and those flaws just expand in the vacuum of their isolation until they all crumble under the weight of madness. Everyone is saturated by their environment — in the case of The Lighthouse, everyone is wet and cold, and you can almost smell the sea salt coming off the screen. There is a hint of the supernatural, but you can never quite be sure whether it’s real, or if it’s insanity, the best kind of spooky.

Well, I’ve got to get back to staring down the cat, and the liquor is already running low. The movie also has great tips for dealing with that situation…turpentine & honey, hmmm? We’ll have to try that, just before one of us staggers off into the blizzard to meet…check back later to find out.

But I don’t want to go play in the snow!

Here in frigid Minnesota, there are only brief windows of time where the weather is suitable for making snowcreatures — most of the time, it’s so cold the snow doesn’t pack well, and it only takes a few minutes of exposure to get frostbite. Lately, though, the comics are all telling me the wonders of playing outside.

This has to be taking place in some warmer, neo-tropical place, like Iowa.

Spider story time

This is a brilliant idea, in principle. Maybe I need to start reading to the spiders.

Except…no, not Charlotte’s Web. The spider [spoiler] dies at the end [/spoiler]! This is not the inspiration I want to give the spiders. I’m trying to get them to breed, and telling them they’ll die afterwards isn’t exactly a great message.

Maybe I should read them this one.

Spider Queen

The other day, Mary stopped by the lab and immediately spotted two spiders lurking in the crannies that I hadn’t even noticed before. Obviously, females were endowed with superior spider spotting skills by Evolutionary Psychology in the Pleistocene, when it was their essential duty to scour the cave of venomous spiders while their man slept in, or ate his raw mammoth, or knapped flint spearheads.

Anyway, then I ran across this painting of Mary’s bronze-age Nordic avatar, so I had to include it.

(possibly by Docatto, from a game called Legend of the Cryptids)

The image is captioned “The remote areas of the Outlly continent are under the control of the snow spiders and their riders. The leader of the riders, Kastehelmi, patrols the sparkling snowy fields on her trusted friend Salomo to drive out any unwelcome intruders. The only colors they want painting the endless white expanses are their own.”

There’s another image also captioned appropriately, “When Kastehelmi sights an interloper, she summons a swarm of snow spiders. Suddenly, the ivory plains are speckled in scurrying black dots of all sizes. Mealtime has come at last. They pierce the flesh with their legs and crush bones with their tough mandibles. Not even a drop of blood is left behind, as this would blemish their perfect domain.”

Yep, sounds like her.

Gahan Wilson is dead

Oh, this is sad. Gahan Wilson hasn’t produced much new in recent years — he has been suffering from dementia — but I discovered his work in the 70s and loved it. He and Gary Larson plucked my brain out and shaped it before stuffing it back in my cranium.

“I won’t bring any more friends home unless you let me play with them first!”

His work was always distinctive and recognizable, and unlike anyone else’s. That’s a great legacy.

This comic is making me uncomfortable

Well, I, for one, do have tenure, and am free to pursue my goal of building an army of multi-legged venomous monsters and taking over the planet from my secret lair in an exotic location that no one would ever dream could be the center of an empire.

Livin’ the dream! Bwahahahahahahahaha!

Now I just have to solve the minor problem that my experimental subjects are so tiny.