Month: January 2016

Pay the Ghost

I told you I was going to attempt to get back to reviews.

Can we just admit to ourselves up front that Nic Cage is going to mess up an Pagan-y theme he touches?  Because I feel like anytime I see his name in connection to a work involving folklore/mythology/Paganism that natural overacting he does gets worse and he ends up flailing around and basically making a mess of everything.

With that out of the way, I have to say this-I actually really liked this movie. I think that having suffered through Cage’s absolutely classically terrible Wicker Man remake, this movie would have had to try to be bad in comparison. In comparison to any other horror piece, I would probably be annoyed just for the sheer level of misinformation in this movie.

This isn’t Coven and its deliberate misuse of voodoo. This is, five minutes on Google and you’d be more accurate than this movie.

And yet…I like it anyway. I guess I automatically give points to any movie that can actually be bothered to learn how to pronounce samhain correctly. I think that this movie reminds me a lot of the ‘horror’ I wrote when I was a kid, when I sort of assumed I knew enough about what I was talking about to be capable of writing about it. (This is also based on a novella of the same name, so I’m not sure where the issue actually lies-if the movie went odd or the novel.

Cage plays a man named Mike, who works with American (and especially local) history. He takes his son, Charlie, to a Halloween carnival, where things go terribly wrong. Over the course of the next year, Mike begins to realize that his family’s pain is related to Halloween specifically-and a much older tragedy.



This is my major issue with the film. There are two, actually. 1. There is no such thing as ‘the crone.’ “Crone” is a life phase, not a person. And in the feminine trinity it’s the dark moon, yes, but it’s not intended to carry a value judgment attached to it. But this is also Cage in a piece that drops the ball on Pagan theory. There’s a shock, right there. 2. The crone in question died under terrible circumstances, but it seems to not really matter to anyone? I understand that Mike is upset about Charlie, but the death in question seems to exist in the story line as an excuse. I would have preferred to see some level of compassion at play there-or at least, compassion that runs deep enough that I wouldn’t have potentially missed it if it’s there. Ghost-crone is insane, but this doesn’t just happen in a vacuum.

A is for Abundance

I have become increasingly aware of a theme running through neopaganism/neofolk thought patterns that I’m sure I’m not the first to pick up on. It’s just one that I’ve come increasingly sensitive to.

The basic idea is this-it’s perfectly fine to ask the gods/Universe/angels/whatever for ‘fertility’ or ‘abundance’ as long as you’re not asking for material items. It doesn’t matter why you need money (or food, and I’m going to touch on that in a moment), it’s against the ‘rules’ to ask for anything that you can actually touch-unless you’re talking about children. I mean, you can physically interact with a child. But they’re in a special class amongst themselves.

I have my pet theories on why this has happened, ranging from something tinged by Weber’s work on Calvinism to good old fashioned class blindness. But however it happened, this is the problem with it: abundance in the form of cash or crops or stuff in general, has a very very long standing history in mythological and folkloric thought.

There are the admonishments against too much stuff, ie greed-Midas didn’t end well. But the fact that he even got his wish is telling. Zeus turned himself into a shower of golden coins. The pathways back from Beltaine’s current emphasis on ‘fertility’ don’t have a straight line back to simple ‘gee I wish we could have more people,’ a lot of that fertility is framed around ‘gee, it would be awesome if this summer managed to produce enough food we don’t starve to death.’ As in, there’s definitely a ‘stuff’ angle here.

In fact, the undertone of ‘abundance is greed, but asking for children is awesome’ is fairly new and not really backed up fully in the folklore. People have been asking for kids right along, but there’s as much stuff warning about messing with human fertility as there is for asking for too much material items. There’s no real suggestion that fertility is better than abundance; there are as many or more warnings regarding the manipulation of love and sexuality as there are Midases and a love for too much gold.

But, should you be asking the Universe for abundance? And what is abundance in the first place? I ask the Universe for abundance daily, for whatever form of abundance the Universe sees fit that day-money, overtime, not missing my bus, easy social interactions. I just, put myself in the place I need to be to collect what I need. Ethically and historically speaking, there are schools of metaphysical thought that have no issues with abundance work (and not so ironically they’re paths that have always attracted a high amount of lower class and marginalized people-not great shock there. Also, common to American folk magic. That’s another tangent). There are generally limitations-it’s not going to be instantaneous, make sure you’re asking from a place of need, be willing to work…make sure you actually need the money-but it’s well within the limits of acceptable behavior.

Beauty Babble-Those Trigger Items


I’ve not tried an open thread for Beauty Babble, so let’s give this a shot.

What’s your trigger item?

What are the items that you will not be able to resist, those things that you know you will purchase with no hesitation?

I will never be able to resist any perfumed product with the word ‘blood orange’ in the description. I am weak around cosmetic clearances, especially if I can justify it as a ‘weird’ purchase or a ‘staple’-so nude lipsticks or mascara, basically. Weird here being outside of my comfort colors. Mascara sales in general are a problem for me, and so are Walgreen and Rite Aid’s deep discount sales. And I have maybe 25 lipsticks that are kinda sort maybe oxblood on my skin tone.

We won’t get into my sudden obsession with DS sized everything and drug store BBs.

So what’s the stuff you’ll always purchase, even if you know you shouldn’t?

The Shining (1980)

I get sick every year, at the same points-in March, in September (though a different sort of sick…), sometimes in July, and December and early January. I avoided December, though I think through sheer stubbornness but January won’t be so lucky. But it’s been fairly low grade, even if lingering-at some point I would actually prefer that it get worse so it could get better. I have finally gotten ill enough to take time off.

I did have a realization, during my day off. I found a blog that centered around the question ‘what’s the worst winter you’ve ever had.’ Summer? I can give you a ranking of the worst summers I’ve had, depending on your criteria. Winters are long and not entirely emotionally comfortable for me (thanks SADD), or cold (thanks bad windows and spotty heat) but there’s not a lot I would rank as worst. There were a couple in college that weren’t awesome. Last month was a little odd. My grandmother died in January, when I was in high school. I mean, I guess the point is that summer is my terror season.

Maybe that’s why I gravitate towards snowy/winter horror so frequently, because winter for me is a gothic novel more than an exercise in turmoil. It’s weird reviewing The Shining (1980) with my current working relationship with King’s novel. It can sometimes be hard pulling apart the movie based on a well loved book, without accidentally holding to the standard of the book.

So for the strengths of the movie: Kubrick knows his visuals. There’s not much new ground to cover there, that hasn’t been covered already in 35 years. But it’s true, the use of color especially through the movie grounds the piece and lets it walk a really thin line between horror and dream scape. The movie moves slightly faster than the novel, if you’re not as into ‘head scapes and brooding’. That really is a strength, and it’s not to suggest that the film lacks depth-it just puts it in differing places. There are a few interactions that work better in the film-Jack’s relationship with Grady is less clunky in movie than in the novel. In terms of actual, direct terror-entertainment, the movie is actually scarier than the novel-though it functions more as a difference in subgenre than in writing ability on the part of either King or the movie crew [King wrote on the screenplay so I’m assuming he knew what he was doing-though I have also heard the stories about him walking away from it and hating the final film]. The film is much more ‘haunting with some psych horror aspects’ than the novel ever was-but that can be seen as either a weakness or a strength, depending on how loyal you need a movie based on a novel to be.

In terms of weaknesses? There are places where I wonder if the visuals override the plot a little too much. There have been discussions in pop culture and fan spaces about things like the layout of the hotel and its interplay with the plot. I’m all for cerebral and meta horror, but I’m not a person that needs to care about the shape of Ullman’s office. Honestly, while I like her more in the movie than the book, I still dislike Wendy-there seems to be little grounding her in the film (though in fairness my issue with the book is that she’s a little too grounded in herself). I don’t like the handling of Hallorann in the movie at all.

So which is the better piece?

I actually hate that question, as a reviewer and someone with a background in popular culture studies. There’s not a real reason to rank them-they’re two different entities.

Both the book and the movie have stood up against time. The book is still frequently found on must read lists (and it’s really an excellent book for actually psychological horror and going down the rabbit hole of self and addiction). The movie is still spawning visual puns and references-check out the carpeting in this season’s American Horror Story once or twice. When you can manage to get cosmetics named after phrases in your film, you know you hit a nerve.

Your personal ranking probably needs to be informed by your need for similarity to source material. I’m fine with a movie deviating from a book, if the changes make sense to the plot, or otherwise strengthen the piece. Not ever project is going to be Rosemary’s Baby, with almost word for word conversion. I think it’s sometimes a disservice to try to force a piece into being a ‘perfect’ adaptation of another work of fiction-at some point, you have to acknowledge the limitations of the medium (or just basic length, or other requirements. I mean, how many complaints have there been about the length of the Lord of the Rings trilogy?).

That’s a long winded way of saying: I’m okay with both, I like the book better, but it’s a personal preference-and due to plot points and details that were cut or handled differently from the novel. And it’s a pretty small margin as well.

Beauty Babble-Beauty Confessions, 2016

I can't resist clearance sales. The deeper, the better.

I can’t resist clearance sales. The deeper, the better.

It’s not so much that I’ve given up blogging so much as I keep losing track of time. I keep meaning to write something, then realizing it’s now Tuesday and what I’m trying to write is last Sunday’s folklore post. Which means, if I was smart, I would draft things when I think of them and set them to autopublish in the future. I mean, if I was smart. I’ve never been very plans-oriented with blogging though.

I doubt there’s anything overly controversial or even exciting on this year’s list. Maybe this will be the year where I can start tracking changes in my personal beauty habits.

-I hate the 2016 Pantone colors

I do. I hate them. I find them to be insanely…young. I hesitate to use the word immature because I know that sounds more judgmental than I intend, but frankly, the pale pink and baby blue remind me of a baby nursery. I don’t want cosmetics that make me look quite that young.

If you’re not sure what I’m referring to-Rose Quartz and Serenity

-I love me some good cosmetics drama

Oh, you didn’t know that cosmetics drama was a thing? Google Lime Crime, find a Reddit link, and give up an afternoon or five wading through it all. It’s so frivolous and so intense. I’m not going to take a stance on the LC debate here, but yeah, it gets heated and I can’t look away.

-My color choices are changing

Sometimes rapidly. Up to about two weeks ago I would have never put pink on my face, but I’ve found that I like heavily saturated, dark pinks for lip colors and rose gold for eyes.

-My favorite make up look is basically no make up at all

One of the looks I keep gravitating to is a heavy red lip and mascara. That’ s it. No foundation. No eyeliner. Nothing but red and black.

-I have discovered micellar water

This is nothing new. I’m not saying anything earth shattering. I have finally given in and tried micellar water-and it does actually work well for me. Do I feel awkward buying a $7 bottle of fancy cleansing water? Yes. Does it work well enough that I’m going to keep buying it? Yes.

-I will buy everything I can in DS sizing

I’m that person that goes to Sephora and Ulta and hits up the DS section first. I prefer that size-the fact that they’re that much cheaper helps, but seriously, I have never panned a lipstick. If I can get a DS for $10 instead of a full sized for $25, then I’m going to do it.

-I’m technically on a low buy

I don’t do well with no buys, so I have a low buy in place for 2016. It’s clunky and complicated and I’m already finding loopholes in the thing, but I am trying to put a cap on my beauty spending.

-I use beer money sites to fund my collection

Beer money sites are those sites that pay you small amounts of cash to take surveys or polls, and you can then cash out for gift cards. I use the cards (normally for Target) to fund the small amount of purchases I am allowed to make. Mainly BBs because I’m currently obsessed with drugstore BBs.


For non-confessional babble: Rite Aid takes Carecredit now. Which is awesome for the end of pay cycle when we run out of TP or something, but it does work for anything in the store except gift cards. The other shopping related news that I didn’t know about but I’m probably lagging on is Sephora will give you your birthday gift ahead of time. I don’t often get to the mall with the stand alone Sephora, so I picked mine up today-months ahead of time.

Welcoming 2016, and Other Rambles


This has been an interesting two week period, that ended a generally positive year.

I would love to tell you about how wonderful the holidays were-but if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, one of my writing ethics is the idea of actual reality, not the weird manufactured reality that bloggers put on to get hits for their media. You know the one, that nasty, shifty little reality that makes people think that Pinterest is actually what life looks like, no one burns dinner, and the holidays are awesome for people prettier than yourself.

So, as to not belabor a point, this year’s holidays sucked but we’re now into 2016.

I’ve spent a fair bit of time thinking about the word for 2016. Last year was the year of grounding, or center, or peace, it all gets to the same place. This year will be the year of Do-what’s holding me back, really, other than myself? So I’m exercising more (I love the pedometer apps for my phone), knitting more, generally doing more-with the exception of this last weekend and I can honestly tell the very negative difference.

Oh…and I’m getting married. Not, as in, tomorrow, but sooner rather than later.

So a lot of my interests and hopes for 2016 are fairly trivial, in the end-I want to both buy less makeup and buy more products that will actually make me happy, I want to actually have cosmetic skills I’m satisfied to talk about, I want to find more new content for here again, after a quiet 2015. But there’s big things in there as well-I’ve been brooding on why the current ‘New Warrior Goddess’ archetype that I keep seeing all over Facebook bothers me so much, there’s that whole ‘apparently I’m eloping?’ thing, and I really, really need to work on getting my finances back in order and move to a bigger, less drafty apartment.

We’ll see how this plays out.