Author Archives: charlesprogers
Bedtime Stories: The Summer People
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Summer People by Kelly Link.
Okay, so I have a couple caveats here. First of all, this is actually just a short story in a collection, edited by Kelly Link called Steampunk!. It’s a bunch of stories by a number of well-known teen authors such as Libba Bray, Garth Nix and, of course, Ms. Link has her own story in there as well. Since I can’t find my copy of Kelly Link’s Pretty Monsters (which, by the way, I reviewed for this blog last year) which I really wanted to read I was excited to find this new story of hers in this collection of steampunk-themed tales. Hers is actually not steampunk in the slightest; there is nary a reference to gears or pistons—but hey, she’s the editor, she could publish a recipe in this book if she wanted (which would probably be totally creepy and weird and I’d totally read it)—but I’m actually quite glad. Reading through the other stories I realized that I’m just not that into the whole steampunk thing. Which isn’t to say that they aren’t good; these are some of my favorite authors. I can only take so many gears and smoke and steam.
Which brings us to “The Summer People” which is classic eerie and strange Kelly Link. I’m not going to go too in-depth because it would be hard to. Young Fran lives in some town which enjoys a number of tourists in the summer, and a relatively quiet life in the off-season. She and her father take care of the summer people, getting their houses ready for their annual visits. But there are others they also call the Summer People, who live in a strange, cluttered house in town. They are magical, mysterious, and tricksy. Fran is bound by generations of tradition to care for them, until she can find someone to replace her…
Movies in Bed: Rosemary’s Baby
Post by Josh Zinn.
Walking home today I passed by a woman, no more than forty, weeping over the loss of her beloved sock monkey. I knew it was a knitted primate her tears were shed over due to the fact that she kept exclaiming wildly, “My monkey! My sock monkey! It’s gone!” as she buried herself in the bosom of a friend whose grimacing face conveyed the fractured duality of concern and annoyance that frequently accompanies the consoling of friends. It was like a scene from Beckett—had Beckett ever tackled the all-too-common personal catastrophe known as “Sock Monkey Bereavement.”
The loss of innocence, as you well know dear readers, far exceeds just the complicated conundrums of sayonara sock simians. In an age when colony collapse disorder is robbing the world of honey whilst Honey Boo Boo showers the world with sass, it can be difficult to ascertain what truly matters and why, in the end, we’re supposed to care at all.
Thank goodness, then, for “Rosemary’s Baby!”
Really, think about it: Compared to the miseries that befall Rosemary Woodhouse as she unwittingly sets down a path that will lead her to give birth to the son of Satan, is an overdue electric bill or a missing monkey THAT big of a deal? Sure, it can be a bit of a pain to spend your afternoon on hold, listening to Phil Collins plead to be taken home while the winter’s darkness envelopes your frigid studio apartment, but it’s not as if your husband and a coven of witchy senior citizens secretly made you bring forth the antichrist. It’s all about perspective.
A classic of horror cinema, Roman Polanski’s “Rosemary’s Baby” takes the idea of forced demonic birth (typically a bummer) and uses it as a metaphor for the inability of our reality to always match up with our hopes and aspirations. Rosemary may think that she’s got the ideal life she always dreamed of, what with her fancy Vidal Sassoon haircut, actor husband, and enormous apartment on the Upper West Side, but the fact of the matter is that the woman has severely underestimated the tenant requirements in her snazzy new co-op. Needless to say, it pays to read the fine print when Beelzebub is on your building’s board of directors.
As you can imagine, life quickly becomes a nightmare for Rosemary as the forces of darkness conspire to give her morning sickness. What’s worse, while she is suffering—saddled with the upheaval of both her dreams and last night’s dinner—her husband is engaging in nefarious games of paranormal pinochle with the witches and warlocks down in Apt. 6B. Where is the humanity!? Alas, life, it seems, is a losing game for Rosemary, with the cards definitely stacked in Ol’ Scratch’s favor.
While it may seem unfair or unmerciful to compare a stranger’s overwrought reaction to the loss of their sock monkey with the bringing forth of the apocalypse, this contrast serves to highlight how all-too-easily we allow the small things in life to dominate our emotions. While the importance of possessions (demonic, sock monkey, or otherwise) should never be underestimated, it’s hard not to imagine a beleaguered Rosemary, cloven-hoofed child nestled against her breast, telling this maudlin monkey mother to go and, “put a sock in it.”
Sleeping in the Berth
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, I like to explore alternative ways people sleep. Whether that’s on a block of ice in the ICEHOTEL, in a hammock somewhere tropical, or underwater, there’s a number of ways you can get a good (or at least novel) night’s rest outside of the traditional bedroom. This week, we’re headed offshore and I’ll introduce you to the idea of sleeping on a boat.
When you’re on a boat, the bedroom is referred to as the “berth.” According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word berth dates back to the 1620’s and refers generally to a “convenient sea room.” It’s of uncertain origin, but is thought to have come from a combination of the word bear (the verb) and the suffix –th, which is used to turn verbs into nouns. The use of the word berth has been extended to refer to sleeping quarters in all types of transportation, including: planes, trains, and automobiles.
Space on a boat is limited, and designers are challenged to use every available square inch inside a boat efficiently. Thus, the master bedroom (berth) on “normal-sized” boats are typically located in the fore (front) hull of the vessel. These types of berths are known as a V-berth, due to the shape of the interior. Since the front compartments in boats are irregularly shaped, mattresses in a V-berth must be specially crafted to fill in the triangular gap that would otherwise be present with a rectangular mattress. Larger vessels may feature additional sleeping quarters along the sides and towards the rear of the ship, and generally have more latitude in the design of the rooms. Check out the picture below: berths can be quite luxurious!
It’s up for debate whether the front of the rear (aft) of a ship is more stable for sleeping, but most of the ultra-mega yachts I’ve seen on television all feature the master suite in the front. You’re also likely to find the luxury suites on cruise ships at the front.
While sleeping on a boat isn’t for everyone (some people just aren’t comfortable being on the water, or get sea sick), many seafaring types find that sleeping on a boat is quite relaxing. In calm seas, the gentle rocking of the boat helps lull you to sleep (a similar effect of sleeping in a hammock). Additionally, boating imbues a sense of excitement for the adventures that lay ahead. You can also experience amazing sunsets that below the unobstructed ocean horizon, and views are simply unobtainable from land.
Have you ever slept in a berth? Do you prefer the fore or the aft of the ship? Share your experiences in the comments below.
Breakfast in Bed: Butter
Post by Alison Hein.
There’s an old story about the discovery of butter: a nomad filled his skin bag with goat milk, strapped the bag across his mount, and rode across the desert from dawn to dusk. When setting up camp that evening, he was surprised to see that his forgotten milk had turned into a thick, yellow, tasty substance.
The scientific process of creating butter includes agitating whole cream until the fragile membranes that surround milk fat are broken, allowing fat droplets to form and join. More churning hastens the separation of cream into butter and buttermilk. In other words, if you shake, beat, or whip cream long enough, you will eventually get butter.
Perhaps you think this is time-consuming and unnecessary. All that will change as soon as you taste your first sweet and salty bite of thick, yellow, homemade butter. Have your kids help with the preparation, and watch their eyes widen as white turns to yellow, and cream turns to butter. Slather some on thick, crisped toast, and rediscover the perfect, homemade breakfast in bed.
1 pint heavy cream
1 teaspoon large-grain salt (I used Pink Himalayan)
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (optional)
Pour heavy cream into large, deep bowl to prevent excess splatter. Using an electric mixer, beat cream on high until whipped cream begins to form. Keep beating, until cream begins to flatten and turns slightly yellow. Continue to beat until butter clumps form, and buttermilk separates from solids. Depending on your mixer, this process will take between 7 and 10 minutes.
Pour butter and buttermilk into colander to drain. If you plan to retain buttermilk for cooking or baking, be sure to drain butter into a large clean bowl. After draining, rinse butter well with cold water, then squeeze and knead by hand until all liquid is removed from butter.
Place a sheet of waxed paper in a 4-inch by 4-inch square dish. Spread butter on top of waxed paper to form an even layer, and fill the square dish. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes. Trim to desired shape. Sprinkle with salt and fresh thyme leaves.
- Salted butter – add salt to cream before whipping.
- Sweet butter – make Maple Butter or Honey Butter
- Herbed butter – for a savory butter, add a variety of fresh herbs and spices to soft butter. Form into a log on a sheet of waxed paper. Slice into rounds and use to top toasted bread, roasted potatoes, or grilled steak
Makes approximately 5 to 6 ounces butter.
Bedroom Design: Delightfully Creepy Design
Post by Erin Sears.
New rule: I am no longer allowed to watch scary stuff even during daylight hours. As a kid, I loved all things creepy and Halloween-ish. By flashlight, I excitedly devoured yellowed, dog-eared copies of The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror and Helter Skelter that I found under the attic eaves of my family’s remote cabin. Tales from the Crypt was my favorite T.V. show and I couldn’t get enough of horror flicks. I came by these macabre fascinations honestly. If you ask my mother her favorite horror movie she’ll proudly reply, Rosemary’s Baby and she’ll be quick to tell you that she was so enamored with the film when it came out that she decorated her first kitchen to look like Mia Farrow’s kitchen in the movie. She’s one of a kind, my mom.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve developed a reticence toward such material. All it takes is a few seconds of a spooky soundtrack and I’m out. I can’t do it. Yesterday however, in honor of the season, I thought I would attempt to return to my roots and I decided to watch the first episode of the latest season of American Horror Story. It was 4pm on a Sunday and I decided that surely no harm could come to me or my psyche at that early hour. I was wrong. I had disturbing dreams all night. It doesn’t help that my dear mother bears a passing resemblance to Jessica Lange in real life. Needless to say, I woke up feeling twisty.
I know that some people have a higher tolerance for horror and that their love of dark subject matter may influence their decorating. Here are some examples of the creepiest bedrooms I could find- may they help you get thoroughly in the mood for Halloween!
I like the idea of using chalk for a headboard, but the choice of mimicking a traditional brass bed gives me pause. It ups the spooky factor quite a bit. Just imagine waking up to a message from beyond written on that wall! No thanks.
Source: atlantishome.com via the Locals
Uh-Uh….nope, no way. I like objects like pillows to be where they’re supposed to be- on the bed! For me, the scariest scene from any movie was in Poltergeist when all of the chairs suddenly ended up on top of the kitchen table. I shudder thinking about this. I do really love the tape rug in this room though.
This last photo comes from closer to home. This is the Edgar Allan Poe room at the wonderful Sylvia Beach Hotel in Nye Beach, Oregon. The Sylvia Beach Hotel is legendary for its literary themed rooms. This room was remade into the J.K. Rowling room two years ago, but my mother and I have fond memories of staying here in 2005. The room was full of character with its blood red linens and Psycho-themed shower curtain. Many characters also slept in this room as evidenced by journal entries found in the dresser. I’m not gonna lie, staying here was creepy, but in a good way. Between the raven staring at me from across the room and the pendulum teetering overhead, I was a little nervous. In the end, we made it through the night unscathed and enjoyed telling others about our unique sleeping quarters at this quaint little hotel by the sea.