Okay, now it’s Fall. September is the beer frame, some years; if it gets clammy halfway through and the wind gets a nip, we all start thinking “soup, sweaters, that multi-colored corn you hang on the door for some reason.” But last month was perfect. It was like one of those movies where you sit through the whole credits, letting the experience coalesce and drain. On the first of October, however, the house lights snap on. This is Fall.
Now you get down to it. 1. I must ingest pumpkin-related things. More about this later. 2. I must see leaves in all their glory. What is the best peak time? What? Where? Tell me or I will miss PEAK LEAVES. I need to behold expiring maple foliage and take a picture of myself and put it out there on Twitter and Instagram or maybe just Instagram and tweet a link, in any case LOOK AT ME I AM AROUND TREES
The leaves peaked last week in the northernmost part of the state, so you’re late. It’s just bare branches scratching at a forlorn grey sky, their empty fingers a foretaste of the despair to come. So you’ll want to go to the southernmost part of the northernmost part, where the Maples are like novice drug users screaming I’M PEAKING except through the language of trees, which is something we no longer understand because we have lost touch with nature. The original people here knew what the trees said, because they lived in harmony, and would respect the cries of Brother Tree in their own way, which probably involved humming in the lower register and rocking back and forth. It’s so cool that they had a god who was like everywhere but wasn’t all judge - when the world ended there wouldn’t be any pronouncement of sin or anything, it would be, like, okay so you’re here now and whatever and there’s dip over there by the tub with the brewskis.
The foliage hasn’t turned here, but you can tell it’s like a woman who has DIVORCE LAWYERS in her browser history.
Friday I watched the first ep of the third season of Wallender, and was instantly pitched into a mental quandary: did the ringtone on his phone change in the second season, then go back to the original in the third? In the second season they chopped off the last two notes. I’m convinced of it. I’ve no desire to go prowling through the shows to find out -
Oh, who am I kidding.
First and Third Season.
Second. So I'm not imagining it.
“How do you change the ringtones on these things?” Wallander asks of his new girlfriend in the opening moments of the 1st ep.
“It suits you.”
That’s the writers acknowledging that people on the internet were obsessing, as they will, about such things. Anyway, the opening takes place on a ferry, a big ship - but unlike any cruise ship. It has seating like a big, big bus. A big store where you can buy a six-pack. It seems to have inherited, or not removed, or perpetuated, or revived, 70s styles. Mirrored ceilings.
Anyway, it was a fine show to watch, even though the detective’s girlfriend is a bit put out when the detective becomes distant because he’s engrossed in his work, and doesn’t seem to have time for her, and is becoming obsessed with Justice. It’s like no one in these movies has ever watched a movie about these things. “Why did you marriage break up?”
“Well, it was that point in the series of books on which these movies are based that the lead character has to have something happen in his personal life to mirror, or compliment, or contrast with the crime he’s investigating. So my wife left me. She couldn’t take it anymore - the late hours, the stubble, the faraway looks as I considered why there was a wombat skull left at the scene, I mean, it didn’t make sense.”
“Oh! Well, now that I know that, I’ll give you plenty of room to be the person you are. Just kidding! I’ll try to change you, first with kindness, then with increasing amounts of resentful behavior that turns into open aggression and accusations that leave you standing there impotent, because you know I’m right, but you can’t understand why I don’t see how crucial it is that we stop this maniac.”
“Good to know. I’ll pencil in our estrangement for the third episode in this three-part series, which will leave me alone again, silhouetted against the barren Scandinavian landscape.”
Saturday I got a fire pit. Why? Because it was the homecoming dance. Wife had suggested to daughter that she bring her friends over afterwards and sit outside by the fire. Daughter was noncommittal, but it wasn’t out of the question, so. I went to get a fire pit. Upon seeing the options, I decided upon a gas firepit, because it had an ugly black tube that could not be hidden, and carried the risk of catastrophic combustion. I went to Cub Foods for S’mores, because what’s a backyard fire without cocoa slabs pressed between crackers with marsh-mallows?
As it turned out, the post-homecoming party went elsewhere, and I was privileged to receive the detail via two curt texts, which might as well have said “Remember when I would text you goodnight when I was on a sleepover and feeling a bit homesick? Ha ha over k thnx bye”
Yes, that point in parenthood when you realize that you’re in for a long stretch of More of Less.
Didn't we just go through this?
Not to me. Halloween, unlike Christmas, does not seem to arrive quicker each year; nor do I say "I swear I just took down the Halloween decorations." Perhaps because it's just less of an extravaganza, or seems less freighted with memories and expectations.
I hope not to repeat anything from last year's Pumpkinification series. This did not appear. Last year's Pop Tart was Monster Fudge, or something. This actually sounds good, if you don't think about the dry particle-board crust. I love how it's insufficient to give you pie filling and frosting: NEEDS SPRINKLES.
Is it necessary to say "Frosted" pumpkin pie? Is there not ample evidence of frosting?
The art is fine, and peak October: the trees are at their best, and will remain like this for at least four days before a pounding downpour or a vainglorious wind sweeps them all aside. But for now the air is clear and the sky is blue and it's October without the notes of rot and decay and grinning imps ready to drag your soul to hell for some reason.
As you'll notice below, we're starting Monster movies for the rest of the month. Scary films. This is not because I just love Halloween; I don't. I am interested in how the culture manifests the symbols and moods and messages, that's all. If you couldn't care less, I'll try to make it interesting. If you do care, I will not make fun of your enthusiasm. Just know I'm not one of those guys who's been putting a lot of thought into his costume for the last few weeks. The last time I did that the rubber band snapped off just four houses into the trip around the block.
This is an interesting little movie, and you’ll soon see why I chose it. Title later. First of all: Western Noir.
It’s shot in stark, simple tones. Unadorned, with minimal sets. Meaning, no budget. But actors?
John Hoyt steps in briefly to add some gravitas, and he plays an old country doctor in the Doc Adams mold from Gunsmoke.
The sheriff’s the guy in the middle:
Edward Binns, whose voice you would know in a second. Well, he’s got a tall order in this one, because a stranger just rode into town. As per the requirements of the genre, he is clad in black, and smoking.
Of course, he’s a gunslinger.
He knows that when he calls someone out, it helps to stand in the frame so everything’s nicely composed. There’s something in his face that’s not entirely cruel. There’s something different about this fellow. For one thing, he seems to be channeling a smaller Burt Lancaster:
But the voice - the accent - the manner - he’s not a fellow who’s come to town for the sake of chaos. Is it . . . love he’s after?
Here’s the twist. This guy?
He’s a vampire.
As a small little B-movie, it's pretty good - thanks to the Vampire, Michael Pate. An Australian actor with a solid, long career.