All my thoughts on ‘The Haunting of Hill House’

The husband and I watched this series in a mad dash to finish before he left for a week to Tennessee, and we have been talking about it and texting each other links since, like, last Thursday night.

As we all may know at this point, I have a serious love for things that are ambitious but flawed. It, the novel. The Dark Tower series. A couple of Quentin Tarantino’s movies. Glee. The Netflix Hill House is definitely on that list.

To boil it down: it was super-cool; go watch it if you haven’t already. But it’s not perfect, and that’s okay–they really went for a vision and they hit most of it.

So, below the cut (assuming I can figure out how to do a cut, as I’m doing this on my iPad) … SPOILERS FOR THE BOOK AND THE MOVIE.

Continue reading “All my thoughts on ‘The Haunting of Hill House’”

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Randomnicity (mostly ranting edition)

First off, Broad Knowledge: 35 Women Up to No Good is up for pre-order at Amazon.

I’m in this!  And it comes out November 20th!


In other parts of life …

We’re planning to sell our house, now that my mother-in-law is living with us, and to that end we are fixing some stuff up, per our realtor’s advice.

First, all 23957349687967 of our books went into storage.  Yeah, okay, I have an iPad, whatever.  This really opened up the living room–it’s huge, now, without the book cases taking up an entire wall.

Next came paint.

Way back when we built our house, we chose a paint color that was, in theory, a reddish brown.  In fact, it was pink.  Not bubblegum pink or anything, but certainly not any shade of brown.  We weren’t exactly thrilled, but whatever.  We dubbed the place The Little Pink House and went on.

Now we’ve had it painted a light gray.  I actually like it, but the first day I came home from work after it was done, I had to sit in the driveway and stare at it for a few minutes due to cognitive dissonance.  I live in The Little Pink House.  But it’s gray.  But it’s supposed to be Pink?  But look!  Gray!

Yeah, I’m a weirdo.

Shortly after we built our house, we painted the inside of it.  I wasn’t working at the time, so I painted all the bedrooms (chalkboard green, medium gray, PURPLE).  My Dad helped us paint the living room (maroon and cream), and the husband and I painted the kitchen (bright yellow).  We loved it.  When the kid came along, he loved it.  But, you know, not everyone is us, and potential buyers want a blank slate, and so we hired some painters to paint the house interior antique white.  They spent two days and did a really good job.

The rooms look much bigger.  They’re brighter.  Turn on a light and whammo, it’s showtime!

hate it.

When I come home, I want a den.  A cave.  A hobbit-hole, if you will.  I want a refuge from the world and the demon fireball in the sky; I want to curl up with my books in my bed and feel cozy to just this side of claustrophobia.  I don’t want “light” or “airy.”  I want “dark” and “protective.”  Blankets, books, and a dark colored bedroom.

(I also don’t want to paint a goddamned house again, so when we buy something else and the entire place is antique beige, I am going to have a civil war of laziness vs. my desire for a chalkboard green bedroom.)

(That said, the child has requested we paint his new room purple, so I’m screwed anyway and might as well buy some green paint, too.)


Oh, and Google is discontinuing Inbox, which I use all the time, and I am Not Pleased because I like bundling.  I like being able to create my own bundles for email.  The thing ain’t perfect (no matter how many times I tell it Joe Hill’s newsletter is a Newsletter, it still sorts them into Promos), but it worked really well for my purposes, and now I’m going to spend 6 months finding an alternative app and learning to use it.

Ugh.

So far Airmail looks relatively promising, but I’m going to try Spark once they sort out the bug that’s keeping me from adding my gmail account.


If you are reading this from the Carolinas, I hope you’re safe and unscathed.

Last week, we went to the pet store to get some fish. Due to an unfortunate tank-cleaning mishap, we lost a couple of fish, and once the appropriate mourning period had passed, we decided to get some catfish.

The pet store lady was busy trying to talk a guy out of buying goldfish for his small tank, so we had some time to watch the fish. There was another woman there with her little boy, who could not have been more than two. He was very into any fish that had any red markings. He dug red fish. And he was not shy about telling me or Z about the cool red fish.

The clerk finally convinced the guy he wanted something smaller for his tank, and while he considered his options, she came over to ask us what we were looking for. We showed her the fish we were interested in, and she went off to get a net.

Z and Scott and I began discussing the vagaries of catfish, the need for algae pellets … and I noticed that there was a small hand resting next to my knee. The hand on the leg thing was a familiar sensation, so it took me a minute to realize that it’s actually been about six or seven years since I’ve had a child of the size that would allow for that.

I glanced down to see our little red-fish friend. I assumed that he just didn’t realize the lady he was touching wasn’t his mom, and I didn’t want to scare the little guy, so I smiled and said, “Hey, buddy …”

And he looked up, grabbed my hand, and pulled me back over to the farthest fish tank on the wall, to show me the super cool all-red fish contained within.

His mom was very apologetic. “He’s very friendly,” she said.

I told her it was fine. It was fine. He was a cute kid, and it’s been a long time since a tiny boy has pulled me over to show me something super cool!

***

So I’m letting my hair grow out to its natural color. Which is … I dunno, dark blonde or brown? It’s been forever since I saw it. BUT. It is also a whole lot of gray.

I got my first gray hair at 19. I always swore that when all of it went, I’d quit dying it. Just go natural. This year, I felt that it was finally gray enough to at least let it come in and see how I liked it. So far, so good; we’ll see how it progresses.

And I read this article in Time this week about the body positivity movement, and how it apparently has a gap–GenX women aren’t really represented in it. Although the author mentions that it sort of ramps back up when women are 70 or so? And I’m pretty sure that means there’s a portion of Boomer women being left out, too? One way or the other, though, my cohort is more or less being forgotten on the “love and accept yourself for who you are” train (we’re GenX; we’re used to it), apparently.

I have back and forth feelings on this. Like, does being 45 mean that I can’t look at a younger woman in a body positivity IG post and feel inspired? That seems stupid. On the other hand, aging and the body changes it brings is wack. But in other ways aging is kind of amazing, and I’d love to see a changing conversation around that. I know a lot of women who are afraid to get old. Turning 30, then 40, then 50 are times of mourning. I do it, too–staring down 45 was uncomfortable as hell; part of that was OH MY GOD I AM OLD. I HAVE EXACTLY NOTHING TOGETHER. (Part of it was I have not accomplished enough! I am a failure! But that is a different, if related, topic.).

But but but. I don’t think I want to be 25 again, or even 35. I’ve worked hard to get what little bit of together I am. The ways in which I like myself have quite a lot to do with how old I am–I’ve got a certain amount of perspective, and that comes from experience and, you know, therapy. :)

Anyway. I posted a photo of my graying hair on Facebook. I just said the gray was coming in–it didn’t actually occur to me to say I’m growing it out purposely. And people commented that I looked great even with gray hair, or that it was silver, not gray.

Look, I feel very lucky to be surrounded by women who reinforce how gorgeous I am, because we all need that. But I couldn’t help but consider how different the comments were when I posted, say, a selfie with a new dye job. I’m sure this was due in part to my not specifying that the gray hair is deliberate, but still: the assumption was that it’s not. That’s not a call-out, just an observation; I’m not entirely sure if this is a problem– maybe it’s a solution in progress. We’re at this point of women supporting and complimenting each other despite the aging or our not-perfect bodies; maybe now we’ll move to a new phase of … celebration of them? Good-natured and fond exasperation with them? I dunno.

Back from hiatus

So, first thing: The Kickstarter for Broad Knowledge and Sharp and Sugar Tooth funded!  Thank you to everyone who backed these books; I’m super excited to be a part of this, and I honestly can’t wait to read both of these.

In other news, I have been Not Around Here because real life got hectic again–we have moved my mother-in-law and her dog in with us, and so the entire family has been engulfed in purging, cleaning, house-selling, house-preparing, moving, and now the preparations to get our current house sold and our now-bigger gang moved have begun.

There will be painting.  And a new sink.  There is already dog hair, but that’s made up for by the occasional dog-head leaning on my leg to ask for scritches.  She’s pretty cute.

Anyway, that’s a big change, but it seems to be going well.  Fortunately, the husband and I have always gotten along with our respective in-laws.  Not so fortunately, my mother and mother-in-law also get along with one another, and, god help us, seem willing to team up into some sort of child-spoiling grandma fusion–I went shopping with them for clothes for us and they came home with two toys and a bunch of free Harry Potter merch from Target for the boy.

And so, that’s where I’ve been.

all my thoughts on this Versace show

They are not particularly ordered …

  1.  There is a lot of interesting stuff going on here around the closets.  Like, the obvious stuff regarding The Closet and the 90s, but also as symbols of success, of containing the things you want but can’t have, of containing things you used to have but no longer do.  It’s interesting, to me, how often we see Andrew Cunanan in this context of closets–Lizzie’s husband’s, the crappy tiny ones in his crappy motel rooms, his super-fancy sugar-daddy provided closet … and the one in the master bedroom of his childhood home, where Andrew got the biggest bedroom, but his father got the closet.  Closets with secrets, too: we have Modesto’s stash of money and Andrew’s collages of Versace.
  2. I think the reverse structure works for and against the show (but it’s really working for me)–on the one hand, it makes things (like that very first closet) resonate in a different way than if we saw it progress rather than regress.  But one thing I’ve seen in reviews is this expectation that there will be an answer to the enigma of Andrew Cunanan, which the reviewers aren’t finding, and I think part of that expectation comes from the added emphasis of the backwards narrative.  We have to be leading to something, and if the ultimate murder of Gianni Versace isn’t it, surely it must be why Cunanan killed him (and David Madsen, and Jeff Trail, and Lee Miglin, and William Reese).  But I’m not sure an answer is what the show is going for.  I think it’s more a series of portraits–the overarching one is Cunanan’s, but within that framework are portraits of other people that are just as, and sometimes more, compelling.  (Interestingly, as amazing a job as I think Edgar Ramirez is doing as Versace, I find Versace the least compelling character in the show.)
  3. There’s a lot of really good work in this thing.  I think Darren Criss is creepy as hell, and that scene in the jumpsuit was perhaps some of the best non-verbal acting I’ve ever seen: you watch him work through like eight different emotions in five minutes.  And then Cody Fern as David Madsen doing this dissection of discomfort–he hits every beat, from the “I am traveling cross country with an actual murderer” kind of discomfort through the “wow, you thought we were a lot more serious than I did” discomfort, to the “oh, this guy is so out of my league but he’s bought me a drink and invited me to sit down” awkwardness.   Penelope Cruz acting through Donatella’s accent; Ricky Martin looking exhausted down to his bones in the first episode; Mike Farrell in Lee Miglin’s basement; JUDITH LIGHT HOLY CATS.  And Jon Jon Briones as Modesto Cunanan–honestly, if you want to skip every other episode and just watch the one he’s in, it’s ridiculously good.
  4. The costuming gives me college flashbacks.  It’s disturbing.

So, yeah, I’ve been enjoying it.  It didn’t go anywhere near the way I expected–I was expecting something more back-and-forth between the manhunt and the past–but I think I’ve dug it more because of that.

Hello, there; it’s been a while …

Life has been a bit more up and down than is even usual for me, resulting in not a whole lot of content blogging.  First we had Irma and the evacuation; then I had a health scare that knocked everything sideways for a couple of months.[1]  I feel like I’m just now getting myself back on track after all that mess, and it’s March.

I’m also staring down my birthday later this week, which is always a fraught experience.  Although, really, I have been dealing with the decrepitude of old age for, like, months now, so it’s not as bad as it’s been in the past.  Usually I don’t mind my age much, but birthdays get to me.  Age is just a number, but a birthday is a date and cannot be ignored.  ONE YEAR CLOSER TO THE GRAVE!  Or something like that.

Anyway.

All of that is to say that I will, I hope, have a few more not-promotional blog posts coming your way soon (although I have a couple of promotional posts, too, whee!).  I’ve been watching ACS: The Assassination of Gianni Versace and, of course, Jessica Jones; I’ve been reading stuff, and–this is hilarious–I have been playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild.  No, seriously, my video gaming has thus far been Lego games, Pokemon (DS and N64), Mario Kart, Mario Party, and an ill-advised foray into the motion-sickness hell that is Epic Mickey.  I’ve never played one of these quest-y games where I don’t know the plot already–or, when I did, I got so sick I had to stop before it got really good.

So I have things to write about.  Stay tuned.  :)

1 [back]I am fine.  All is well in Laura-land.

Post-Irma update

So let me tell you, nothing hinders story promotion like evacuating from a damn hurricane.  Over the next couple of days, I’m going to post some story promotion, but I wanted to let all five of my blog readers know that we made it through the storm okay. (I was posting in real time over on Tumblr, if you want to check out my “stormy weather” tag.)

So, yes, we took off ahead of Irma and stayed with family up north.  It was a long, slow, cramped drive that my back has still not entirely recovered from, but we found gas and were not trapped on the interstate.  It got really slow at times–20 mph on 75, whee!–but we never came to a complete halt for more than a minute or two.  We spent time with my aunt and cousin, watching the Weather Channel and swearing at it before getting online and watching our local news feeds to find out what was really happening.  Then of course there was the worrying until we could get back in touch with everyone at home, and the kindness of friends checking on the houses (my parents’ and ours), and the long, cramped drive home.

We got very, very lucky and returned to very little damage (we had some branches in our yard and lost a freezer full of meats) and power that had just come back on earlier in the day.  Some of my friends and co-workers are still without power, some had some serious storm damage to their homes, so I’m counting my blessings on that one.

We rode out Charley and three other storms at home in 2004.  I think we made the right choice to get out for Irma–it’s not an easy choice to make because there’s no actual certainty until the storm hits–and we were all fortunate enough to be able to leave.  We had a place to go and employers who encouraged everyone to be safe.  We also had social media to follow to find out what roads were clear and where we could find gas–whatever else you may think about Facebook, it’s an amazing local tool in a crisis.

So now we’re back, and our house is back to normal.  I’m back to work, the kid goes back to school next week.  But Houston’s still recovering, south Florida is still digging out, and Puerto Rico could use some help, if you have some money to spare.