Monthly Archives: September 2016
Post by Mark T. Locker.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Disney went in a darker direction than what we have come to recognize as Disney. From Escape to Witch Mountain to The Watcher in the Woods, Disney covered the weird and the creepy with a particular lo-fi flair. My favorite of these darker Disney days was always the adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s creepy Halloween story, Something Wicked This Way Comes. Disney even got Bradbury to write the screenplay.
The movie tells the story of two thirteen-year-old boys, Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway. In the autumn before their fourteenth year, a strange and mysterious carnival rolls into town in the dead of night. Dark’s Pandemonium Carnival is no normal carnival. It’s readily apparent that something sinister is going on there. People enter the mirror maze and don’t return. Dark’s Pandemonium Carnival feeds on the deepest desires of its attendees. Their old teacher yearns for youth. The cigar store owner dreams of riches. Mr. Dark can make their dreams come true, but at great cost. When Jim and Will sneak in after dark and see one of the carnival members turned young on an enchanted carousel, they realize that they’re already in too deep. Knowing the boys know too much, Mr. Dark sets out to find the two boys, by way of magic, treachery or whatever means necessary.
Part horror story, part reflection on youth and friendship, part story of an older father trying to reconnect with his young son, the underlying story is surprisingly deep and complex. But to balance all that out, there are lots of bad special effects. My 8-year-old called the creeping green magic of the Dust Witch “Scooby-Doo effects”. He’s right. This is a creepy but not too creepy movie, a great way to kick off October, the spookiest month of all.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Extra tall ceilings might be number one on your wish list, but furnishing a room with height has its challenges. Furniture can look short or almost dwarfed, and how do you treat that extra wall space or those big windows? We turned to our friends at Houzz for some brilliant ideas for decorating bedrooms with lofty ceilings.
This contemporary bedroom keeps things simple and straightforward, allowing the architecture to shine. The steel and stone fireplace wall with a built-in television becomes the focal point. Privacy must not be an issue because the designer chose to leave the double-height windows uncovered.
This East Midlands farmhouse bedroom celebrates the height. The room has a tower-like feel, and the designer didn’t pay much attention to the furnishings, but let the exposed wood canopy lower the ceiling height. Notice the saddle draped over the beam.
This stunning bedroom might be minimalist, but I don’t feel like it’s missing a thing. The open view of the woods acts as a natural wall covering. No windows treatments are needed.
With two sets of windows –– upper and lower –– this room has drapes only on the bottom set. The high windows perform double duty, allowing more light and creating architectural interest.
This dramatic Charlotte bedroom exudes elegance. With its vaulted ceilings and chunky moldings, the simple but neutral space gets a dose of paprika on the shams and lounge chair. The feminine chandelier feels like it’s just the right scale for this room.
A Seattle bedroom boasts a brilliant design with a separate seating area in front of the fireplace. Notice the amount of detail and texture in this space, as well as the unique window coverings. The room is warm and cozy despite its size.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Moonlight the Halloween Cat by Cynthia Rylant.
The other day I was sitting with my boy who somehow has already turned eight. We were discussing this and that and the subject came around to some of his older picture books. I went looking for one in particular, the one with a character that was the namesake for our lovably dumb semi-feral cat, Dandio. I was unable to find that book (it’s a Toot & Puddle book, if you’re wondering) but I found myself looking through a bunch of his other now neglected but still much-loved (for nostalgia) books. One of the books I brought back to the table was Moonlight the Halloween Cat. When he was two, or three, we would read this book at least once a week. Probably daily. He still has a stuffed Halloween kitty he named Moonlight. I would lie on my stomach, propped on my elbows, and he would drape himself across my back, reading over my shoulder. He’s too big to do that now!
Well, we read the book and it’s just as sweet as I recall. Filled with naive art and simple text, the book tells us about Moonlight, the black cat who likes Halloween best of all. We follow Moonlight as she watches trick-or-treaters from the shadows, and sits in the laps of scarecrows and snacks on fallen pieces of candy. It’s a cute and simple book about an outsider who loves this human holiday. We get to tag along and see what Moonlight sees. Sometimes, there’s an owl!
I know some of you may think it’s a little early for Halloween books. But put this one on your list if you have a little one.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Insomnia. It happens to all of us. We have those nights when no matter what we try, we can’t get to sleep. Tossing. Turning. Stressing. Watching the minutes and hours pass, and nothing. Not even a light snooze. Feeling exhausted and not being able to drift off to sleep can be incredibly frustrating. Here’s what to do when you can’t sleep.
First, if you’ve tried to sleep for 20 or 30 minutes and you find that you’re not even close to dozing off, get out of bed. Staying horizontal will only create more stress, knowing that you can’t drift off.
Once you’re up, find something else to do that relaxes you and takes your mind off sleep. That could be different for everyone. You might like to read, meditate, or do some light stretching or yoga. Or, walking around the house might be therapeutic enough to make you tired.
Even though experts advise not to watch television or get in front of a computer around bedtime, if staring at a screen can cause enough relaxation to put you to sleep, then, by all means do, it. Do whatever works for you.
Still no luck? Try to rub your pulse points with lavender oil. The scent is calming and will help reduce the stress you’re feeling since you’re having trouble getting to sleep.
You could be hungry, or have low blood sugar, which might prevent you from sleeping. Try a light snack. A cup of warm milk, a few almonds or turkey (with tryptophan) could induce sleep.
Most of all, think happy thoughts. If you’re worried about what’s going to happen at work the next day, or you’re thinking about a disagreement you had with a friend earlier, chances are, you won’t get to sleep at all. Try to save the serious business for waking hours. Imagine yourself doing your favorite activity in your favorite place, until you unwind. Then, you should get to sleep in no time.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
In 19th-century London, there are two magicians. Not sleight of hand magicians, pulling rabbits out of hats and such, but real magicians, manipulating the elements and perception. One goes by the name of Prospero the Enchanter. The other, simply Mr. A.H.- These two play a terrible kind of game of ego, finding children of magical promise, training them, and pitting them against each other in an awful competition to see who can raise the greatest magician. Prospero has already chosen a competitor: his young daughter, Celia. In response, A.H.- finds a child at the orphanage. He doesn’t bother to name the boy, but years later the boy takes the name Marco.
After years of arduous and often cruel magical training, the competition is to begin. The venue? A brand new circus is created, a magical circus that tours the world, and opens only at night. The Cirque des Rêves (Circus of Dreams) is appropriately dark, mysterious, and mystifying. Marco manages the circus from afar, quietly adding new tents showing of his magical mastery. Celia has her own show as the Illusionist. Although Marco immediately realizes that Celia is his competitor, she has no idea who she is playing against, though the recognizes his magical work.
There are a few parallel stories also being told: the German clockmaker who created the incredible (but somehow not magical) clock that sits at the entrance to the circus; the young boy in Massachusetts who sneaks in during the day on a dare; and the redheaded twins of remarkable power, Widget and Poppet, that the boy meets when he sneaks in. All the narratives weave together into a compelling tapestry.
The Night Circus is an enchanting, mysterious and at times amusing story, full of twisty paths and dead ends, much like the circus itself. If you are looking for a story to captivate you and to fill your dreams, what better place to turn than the Cirque des Rêves?