Sunday, October 08, 2006

Are you washed in the blood?

Goodness, it's nice to be back in the South. My plane landed yesterday and the woman behind me immediately started bawling into her cellphone "Ah'm fixing to get off the plane." Two young men in the aisle were talking about the Auburn score. It's always good to come home.

This morning my parents took us to a monthly pre-church service that's an hour of bluegrass singing, complete with seven-piece band. It was a lot of fun. We sang many old church favorites including Are You Washed in the Blood?, Keep On the Sunny Side, That Old-Time Religion, When the Saints Go Marching In and an old favorite of mine, A Beautiful Life (chorus: Life's evening sun is sinking low, A few more days and I must go, To meet the deeds that I have done, Where there will be no setting sun). Lovely, chilling and rousing all at once. We had a ball. My old music teacher was there and I told her about singing on An Even Scarier Solstice, and she told me that was nice.

Here the temperature is about like Santa Monica, ranging from the 70s to the mid-50s at night, but it's so crisp and clear. And I love seeing deciduous trees again - they are just starting to turn. Last night we sat around a fire on the patio, heard some coyotes and a barred owl, and watched the stars come out. (We had a perfect view of Sagittarius and most of Scorpio, before the moon rose.) Today there's a blue heron in the field out front. My extremely cute niece and nephew are coming over and are expected to romp picturesquely with the dogs.

Today's book: "The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror," by David J. Skal. I read Skal's completely awesome "Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween" a couple years ago (right after buying my first Nepenthes!) and just loved it. Last night I stayed up rather late finishing this one, which I started on the plane. It focuses on early Hollywood horror, identifying four monster-movie archetypes: Frankenstein, Dracula, Jekyll & Hyde, and the freaks of "Freaks." I don't at all agree that all forms of movie horror can be traced back to one of those four, but he has some great observations about scientific "reproduction" movies (Alien, The Brood) and their sociological implications. There are also some fascinating Hollywood anecdotes; I enjoyed learning about the friendship between Vampira and James Dean. (She sent him a photo of herself in an open grave, inscribed with "Wish you were here," shortly before he died.) I'd highly recommend "Death Makes a Holiday," but this one's pretty good too.

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