This past Saturday, Dan and I took our fourth hike of the year so far, which is already notable just in the fact that it’s more than I think I’ve ever done in any year past. I’m well on my way to my goal of seven hikes, and I’ll probably surpass it.
This time around, we went to the Madame Sherri Forest in Chesterfield, NH. It’s one of our first hikes out of the Haunted Hikes of New Hampshire book that we have, and it was my favorite hike overall so far, not only for the “haunted” aspects but also the area itself.
The forest houses the ruins of Madame Antoinette Sherri’s “castle,” a grand, fifteen-room house that she’d had built to house parties over the summertime. As she grew older, though, she no longer be able to host the parties and instead took up residence in a Vermont nursing home. The castle went into disrepair before burning down in 1962, presumably due to arson. The site is allegedly haunted because, well, what’s a ruinous site in the forest without a few ghosts to go along with it? It’s said that you might spot Madame Sherri at the top of the staircase, and if you take a listen, you can hear phantom laughter and music.
We didn’t hear anything, but it was a beautiful place to start our walk nonetheless. The ruins are on a little side path before you get to the actual trail, and there’s honestly not a whole lot there: a staircase with archways and a fireplace at the top. I was kicking myself when we left the house, though, because I forgot to pack the digital recorder that Dan got me for our anniversary a few years ago; even though we didn’t hear anything ourselves, who knows what the recorder might have picked up? So on top of going back just to hike another one of the trails, I want to go back just to do a little more investigating at the ruins.
After our stop at the ruins, we headed out to the trail. There are a few different options–the Ann Stokes Loop, Daniels Mtn. trail, and Mt. Wantastiquet trail–and we went with the Ann Stokes Loop for our first trip. This took us up the mountain, with another trail that we stopped on, this time at Indian Pond, on the way up. All of the views along the trail were great, from the tree canopy, to the pond, to the view from the top. Most of my photos didn’t do them justice, but I love what I did get.
This was a moderate trail, which means I spent a fair amount of time grumbling and yelling, “Oh my god!” every time we were going uphill, which was often. As with all of our hikes like this, though, it was worth the trouble. I felt incredibly proud of myself after, and everything we saw was breathtaking. From just the trails signs to the view of Chesterfield from the ledges above to the plant life, the whole experience was beautiful and invigorating.
As I’ve said, this is the most hikes I’ve ever done in a year for the simple fact that I’ve never really been a “hiker.” While Dan’s gone on a couple of overnights, I just haven’t been that serious about it (or any kind of exercise to be honest), but something about this year made me want to start trying more, and I’ve been enjoying each trip so much so far. I’m looking forward to see what others we end up doing, haunted or not (although the more haunted the better in my opinion).
Over the past few months, my love for the horror genre has resurfaced and grown at a rapid pace. I don’t know if there’s one exact moment when I can pinpoint its origins, but I think it really blossomed with the discovery of Rue Morgue magazine last summer. I’ve always loved and enjoyed horror movies, having watched them since I was maybe five years old, but it was always an intermittent experience. I never dove in quite like I wanted to.
Well, that’s about to change.
I’ve just caught up on the Faculty of Horror podcast after weeks of dedicated binge listening, and it introduced me to so many movies that I hadn’t heard of and it convinced me to give a chance to some that I’d written off after seeing the trailer or reading the description. (And some it just reaffirmed my disappointment–I’m looking at you, 2013 Carrie.) In May I started watching a few of the films the podcast talked about, but I abruptly stopped when I discovered that Cazz was watching one hundred horror movies this year because I decided that I wanted to do that–but with my own twist.
Welcome to 100 Horror Films in 100 Days.
I’m going to be watching new-to-me films, rewatching old favorites, and of course giving regular updates on what I’ve seen and what I’ve thought. Horror is something I want so much to become more knowledgeable in, film and otherwise, so I think this will be a fun, challenging way to jumpstart that journey.
If you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments below! I have a list going in my bullet journal of movies I plan on watching over the next three months, but I’m always looking to add more–both to the project and my life in general.
My adoration for Wonder Woman is no secret. I frequently share peeks of my growing Amazonian shrine, receive numerous Facebook shares from friends who find some Wonder Woman-themed post, and cry just thinking about the film coming out in only a few more days. With the film’s release only a few days a way, it seems only fitting that Diana is this month’s Rad Gal.
I’ve always enjoyed the idea of Wonder Woman. In middle school, I got the most amazing, comfortable pair of Wonder Woman yoga pants from Hot Topic, and I only just admitted defeat a few years ago when the holes grew too big to keep making excuses to wear them. It was only in the past few years, though, that I got the chance to begin collecting and reading any comics, and I don’t feel like I’ve read nearly enough–because that’s what it’s like in the world of comics; there’s so much to ingest that it never feels like enough–but what I’ve read so far makes me feel so happy and strong and brave with each turn of the page.
As I sit here writing this, I’m still astounded that we’re so close to a big screen solo film debut for Diana, a feat that’s been seventy-five years in the making. That’s nearly three times my life so far! It took slogging through eight Superman films and eight Batman films (at least; I only did a cursory search) to reach this point. And part of me is terrified because while the critical response has been good so far, I’ve gotten my hopes up before only to be let down–not by the film, but by the popular reception. No matter how much I love something, my love alone isn’t enough to carry it. Here’s to hoping that she helps to bust open the doors to so many more female-led superhero films, in production and on screen.
In many ways, Diana is everything I would like to be–in physicality and personality, let’s be honest. She’s strong, both in combat and attitude. She commands respect, but she aims for peace rather than finding mindless thrill in battle (one of her tools is the Lasso of Truth, after all). Her compassion is constant and astounding, and she shows a patience that I can only dream of finding in myself. She’s not perfect, which only makes her that much more relatable and within reach for those of us who are not Amazons, but that doesn’t take away from all the good that she does.
To those who argued against Wonder Woman’s UN Ambassadorship: She is an amazing role model, and I couldn’t be more grateful for her existence. I can only feel sorry for anyone who can’t look past her physical stature as a “large breasted white woman of impossible proportions” to see that.
And now I leave you with this Nerdist tribute video, which also makes me cry because I am just so, so happy that Wonder Woman exists in this world.
A few weeks ago, Eleanor (of eleaanormay.com) shared a post of her Disney confessions, and since I’ve been diving back into Disney with my tsum tsums collection and growing set of movies, I thought it would be fun to share my own “confessions” post.
- For a long time (as in, years), I actually hated the idea of the Disney parks. And any large theme parks really. Even if they revolved around a theme that I was interested in, I couldn’t get over the massive crowds, the incredible expense, and the fact that the largest ones are all in places way too warm for me to enjoy my existence. As of the past few months, though, I’ve been coming around to the idea, and it’s culminated in the very beginning of planning out a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with Dan and my mom–even if I still don’t want to go to Florida. (So hot!!)
- Besides films, tsum tsums are my first (and so far only) Disney merchandise. I’m not even really sure if I want to get anything else. I have a tendency to be a big collector, and I feel like I “should” try to reign that in, so in focusing my collections on items and themes I really enjoy, I’m just not sure if I’ll ever get anything else that’s Disney related.
- The first film that got me interested in the live action adaptations was Maleficent. And to be honest, I’m always still wary of the live action remakes because they’re aren’t exactly necessary, but in general, I think they can be good things. I’ve loved all the rest I’ve seen since, which so far includes Pete’s Dragon and Beauty & the Beast, so I’m trying to become more hopeful about the rest (especially Mulan).
- I love Frozen, but I prefer the sisterhood of Lilo and Nani. I think part of this is because they’re not princesses, and while I like the princess movies, I’ve tended to lean more heavily towards the non-princesses as of late, not that that has any bearing on their actual relationship as sisters. All that being said…
- My favorite princesses are Belle and Merida. Belle was always my favorite growing up because she reminded me the most of myself, which is to say, a brunette bookworm. But Brave was one of a number of children’s movies I’ve made Dan see over the years out of sheer excitement, and I’m pretty sure I cried when I saw it, and I still cry every time I watch it. So while Belle holds her place out of nostalgia, I think in some ways Merida is my true favorite.
What would your “Disney confessions” be?
I have this distinct memory from around the time that I was five years old or so: I’m sitting on my living room floor watching a red-headed doll in overalls bludgeon a man with a golf club. I’ve been a horror fan for nearly my whole life, and the only reason I haven’t been one since the womb is that my mom isn’t a fan, so it’s almost impossible that she watched any while pregnant. Still, it’s been a long time, and while I’ve mostly stuck to the same old favorites–Scream, Bride of Chucky, House of 1000 Corpses–through the years, my love has grown nonetheless.
Most recently my love manifested in scouring iTunes for horror podcasts. There are a fair few narrative podcasts–Darkest Night is fab, for example–but what I really wanted was one that would discuss horror and maybe make me think about it, maybe (hopefully) introduce me to some new-to-me horror movies.
Enter the Faculty of Horror.
I was ecstatic to find this podcast not only because it sounded like exactly what I was looking for–an analytical look at the world of horror–but it turned out to be hosted by two super cool woman, Alex West and Andrea Subisatti. It’s not a strictly feminist podcast, but they do both identify as such, so I appreciate when that perspective comes up in their discussions.
This podcast is basically everything I was dreaming of. Each episode looks at anywhere from one to three films, usually revolving around a similar theme, such as summer camps, witchcraft, or eating disorders. Episodes only come out once a month, which can be a little disappointing because they’re so dang good, but it’s also completely reasonable; so much thought, research, and preparation go into each that the time between episodes is necessary and really contributes to that quality that I appreciate. It’s a completely fair trade.
A lot of the movies they discuss I either haven’t seen in a long time or haven’t seen at all, but I’ve started trying to watch either shortly before or after an episode to make listening even better–though to be honest the discussions are so interesting that it doesn’t seem necessary to watch to make listening enjoyable.Most of the time, though, it is interesting enough that if I haven’t watched ahead of time, I’m dying to see it after, which is exactly what led me to finally watch The Evil Dead for the first time and falling madly in love with both the franchise and Ash/Bruce Campbell. (I refuse to make the distinction between the two.)
Gosh, what else can I say? I adore this podcast, and I already know I’m going to be bummed when I’ve caught up. I make any excuse to listen, whether it’s while doing the dishes, driving around with Dan, or just sitting on my couch coloring (in my Beauty of Horror coloring book, of course). I’m learning so much from these ladies, and it’s really bolstered my love for horror to new heights. If you’re at all interested in critical thinking, but with personality, in the horror film genre, please, please check out this podcast!
On a cold, sunny day the weekend before the March 2017 Snowpocalypse, I trekked my way north with Dan and some friends to achieve a life goal that took me far longer than it should have to reach. Taking Interstate 93 north through Ashland, Plymouth, Woodstock, up to exit 33 to Lincoln. We pulled off onto Route 3 and drove for maybe five minutes, keeping our eyes peeled against the bright white of the snow–a stark contrast to all the brown we’d had at home up until the following Tuesday–for the Indian Head Resort.
Twice Dan almost stopped too early because there were two large signs for the resort (one mile ahead, half a mile ahead…), but we finally came to it and spotted the opening to the parking lot at the last minute. We pulled in, and my head whipped left and right as I looked for the green sign with white lettering marking the event my home state for over twenty years deemed historical: The Betty & Barney Hill Incident.
The short story is that Betty and Barney Hill, a New Hampshire couple, were driving home from a vacation to Canada when they spotted a bright light in the sky. Maybe it was a plane. Maybe it was a star. Jupiter was out that night, too. They continued driving for a while before finally pulling off the road and watching the bright light, which moved erratically, in ways a plane or any other known aircraft should move, before realizing it was coming down to meet them.
The first part of story was that they watched it for a while before growing scared, jumping back into their car, and driving away, continuing their journey home. But as they drove, they realized they suddenly couldn’t account for about thirty-five miles of travel distance. They’d experienced missing time. The second part of the story only came later, after connecting with several members of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) and were put under hypnosis by a doctor to whom they were referred.
The second part of the story says they were abducted, tested, and returned to their car after, having their memories scrubbed to avoid the news getting out.
(That worked out well.)
Along with the official marker on Route 3, there’s a little gas station and convenience store that serves as something of a makeshift memorial. it features a plastic-covered painting on the outer wall at the front of the store. Inside, among the candy, chips, and beer, are newspaper clippings, summaries of incidents in other states and countries, photos, and a bulletin board devoted purely to the Hills’ experience.
Despite everything being so small and looking underwhelming, the entire experience was thrilling for me. When I was a little girl, I got a book from Borders that had a blurb about the Hills in it and I was floored to find out that they were from New Hampshire–that’s where I lived! It was unbelievable to me at the time that something so exciting could have occurred so close by little ol’ me.
I would often spend evenings outside, sometimes alone and sometimes with my dad, watching the skies for a hint of something strange. Usually it was just an airplane or a blimp or even a hot air balloon once, but my faith in what’s out there has never once wavered. On long drives home late at night, it’s not uncommon for my head to snap up and my body to move with the sky to keep the best view on something I’ve seen. I almost always end up seeing the blinking lights of a plane or checking the sky map on my phone to determine it’s a planet, but once or twice I lost sight of a bright light in the sky before I could be quite sure.
Visiting this little monument to the strange and unusual has fanned the tiny flame that was already in me to do some investigating this year, even if it just means camping up in the mountains or visiting other strange places in New England. Maybe I’ll never have the chance to see something obvious in the sky, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop looking.
National Poetry Month was introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets. It’s a celebration of poetry in our culture–personal, local, national, and worldwide–that takes place every April. If you’re someone who’s never been into poetry, then the month likely holds no significance to you, which is fair. Maybe it’s too artsy or maybe you just don’t find it accessible with all its metaphors and other flowery language. But I’m still going to try to change your mind.
I think what can make poetry daunting for many people, myself included, is exactly what makes it beautiful so often. The use of language in poetry is something you don’t always see in other genres, an often otherworldly level of word crafting even when it’s simple. If I had to choose only one genre of writing to call art, it would be poetry. The way poets can paint with their words is so vivid and powerful in even just a few short lines sometimes. There’s heart, passion, and vulnerability in poetry that can at times compare with something like memoir. The difference to me, besides simple structure, is word craft.
If poetry feels like a hurdle, my biggest recommendation would be to read it aloud or to listen to someone else read aloud. Plenty of recordings can be found on YouTube or Spotify, and it seems like there’s a poet for everyone, classic or contemporary, grandiloquent or ghastly.
And on top of reading poetry, there is of course writing poetry, which can also feel challenging if you focus on the language from the start, but if you want to try your hand at it (and I suggest you do), then my suggestion is simple: Don’t think about the language, just write. Chances sare that you’ll put more of your own emotions into it if you start out free writing rather than trying to make it perfect from the first line. (This goes for just about any writing, to be honest.) After you’ve got your base, then you can dress it up–or not. And remember, poetry doesn’t have to rhyme.
So now that you’ve realized just how wonderful poetry can be, what are some ways you can celebrate its existence this month (and every month)?
Share a new-to-you poem on Facebook. / Browse through poets.org to find a poet you’ve never heard of and read through a bit of their work. When you find one that really strikes you, share it on Facebook for friends and family to enjoy too.
Write your own poem. / If you’re feeling reluctant about this one, start with a haiku. It’s short, allowing you to get it over with and hopefully come out of it with something that you enjoy. Bonus points if you share it (leave it in a comment on this post even), but there’s no pressure to do so.
Ask your friends for recommendations. / Chances are you have at least one friend who secretly or not-so-secretly enjoys a good poem every once in a while. Put out a call on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or your social media of choice asking friends and followers for recommendations. They might help you find a new favorite, and it’ll give you something to talk about together.
Support a poet. / I mean this one financially. While sharing and discussing are also ways to support a poet, it’s not the most lucrative business, so to actively buy a piece of work is recommended. Browse Etsy or the bookstore to find a poet who stands out to you and buy one of their books, chapbooks, or zines.
Find a poetry reading to attend. / This one might be the most difficult depending on where you live, but maybe you have a local bar that does poetry nights (I do) or maybe there’s an event coming up specifically for National Poetry Month at your library. Browse around and stop by if you find a reading and have the chance to attend.
Poets.org also has a list of thirty ways to celebrate, so you should have no problem diving into it this month.
And if you need a place to start, let me suggest any of Amber Tamblyn’s poetry. I’ve been rereading two of her collections recently as I start work on my next chapbook, and they’re just as breathtaking as the first time I read either of them. Dark Sparkler is my favorite, but Bang Ditto is wonderful as well. She also has a third, Free Stallion, and while I haven’t read it, I think it’s a safe bet that it’s just as exceptional.
What are your feelings on poetry? Do you have a favorite poet or poem you would recommend?
Let me know in the comments!
When I was six-seven-eight, there were a select set of TV show theme songs that I really enjoyed: Married…with Children, The Simpsons, Sailor Moon. But while those themes were catchy–singable, hummable–it was the theme to Daria that remains an all-time favorite of mine twenty years later. With its instantly recognizable opening riff of, “La-la la la laaa…,” the song has stuck with me over time, and it’s more than once served as my cell phone ringtone, because obviously.
Daria was one of a number of sardonic teen girls I looked up to throughout my adolescence. Although the other most notable, Darlene Conner, made more frequent appearances on my TV over the years, Daria was always the one I related to a bit more. She was the one I really saw myself in. My parents would call me Darlene, but I think that’s because they watched Roseanne regularly; it was in syndication far more and more frequently accessible. If I had to pick a fictional counterpart, though, it would be Daria Morgendorffer.
On the surface level, we’ve always looked fairly similar, considering she’s a cartoon character: glasses, medium-length brown hair, pretty basic outfits. We’re sarcastic and cynical, but not outright rebellious. We can be smart asses–but we can also be wrong. We’re both writers. We both harbored crushes on musical hottie Trent Lane–and we both realized maybe we’re better off without him.
I am Daria.
Daria is me.
I always wanted to grow up to be her. Then I got to high school, and it turned out my wish came true. An average kid/teen but a good student–though she was ultimately better in that than I was, which is fine. I never had valedictorian in my future. And of course, as much as I’ve always admired her, I know she’s not perfect, but Daria is a show that did an amazing job at creating character development. Her friends and family call her on her bullshit, because even she has some at times (and, yeah, so do I) and she’ll admit defeat.
To some degree, I’ve softened over the years, although my tongue hasn’t dulled, I assure you. And in some looks into the future of the series, it seemed like maybe she would too. I’m 26, and even rewatching the show now, I relate so strongly to her, and sometimes to Jane, too. To be honest, I still see her as a role model and a reflection of myself in certain moments: when her patience wears thing for those around her, when she refuses to compromise on her art and beliefs, when she rolls her eyes and sighs.
I didn’t at the time, but I realize now more than ever that Daria is and was one of the truest representations of my life as a teenager that I could hope to find. She was borderline boring, and so was I, dammit.
This piece will also appear in my upcoming Daria fanzine, The Lawndale File.
I don’t know if it’s much of a secret that I’m a fan of horror. Am I the biggest fan? Probably not. But I am writing my next issue of Whatsername about it in part, and I do spend a lot of time trying to scare the shit out of myself. My horror fandom doesn’t lie strictly in the obvious–gore and the like, and in fact I’m not much of a fan of gore and torture porn-style horror, though even those have their exceptions–but I’m open to just about anything that could be enveloped by the horror umbrella. My favorite things are ghost stories, the occult, and extraterrestrials (think Close Encounters or Fire in the Sky), but I’ll try just about anything that looks like it’ll keep me up at night. As a result, I’ve racked up a somewhat staggering number of favorites over the years, and I’ve decided to share a few in the hope of connecting with someone–anyone–over our heretofore unknown mutual affection for being terrifyingly entertained.
Some of these favorites are pretty popular, but hey–that means we’re more likely to bond over them, right?
- Rue Morgue magazine. / This is a relatively recent discovery for me. Last October I did a browse through the entertainment section of Barnes & Noble and spotted Rue Morgue in the racks. The alluring shade of green on the cover of their 19th anniversary issue–a Frankenstein special–caught my eye, and I snatched it up. They specialize in all things horror, from the classics, like Dracula and the just-mentioned Frankenstein, but also new work coming out of the genre, like The Girl With All the Gifts (both the book and film, which I am dreaming of devouring asap), Split, and 2015’s Krampus.
- Locke & Key. / Locke & Key by Joe Hill was my first horror comic series, and there’s a reason I’m still obsessed with it years after my first reading. Not only is the story itself perfectly terrifying, but the art takes everything to an even greater level of scare. Gabriel Rodriguez’s skills are astounding, and I am so happy to have this collection in my bookcase.
- Basically anything by Stephen King. / Okay, but really–if you know me at all then you know by now how much of a Stephen King fan I am. I’ve still only read a handful of his books relative to his total repertoire, but I’ve got a few favorites already, and I have yet to be disappointed in anything of his. I’ve read Carrie the most times, I assume because it appeals to my young adult/coming-of-age tale sensibilities, even if it’s not strictly described as such. I’d also list It as a favorite because it’s the only one of his novels thus far to truly terrify me.
Honorable mentions: The Shining. Horns. 20th Century Ghosts. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Afterlife with Archie.
- Bizarre States podcast. / I’ve been listening to Bizarre States for about two years, and it is hands down my favorite podcast. It’s not always the most organized–no matter how hard Jess and Bowser try–but it’s great entertainment, and they are so genuine in their love for all the weird, spooky shit they talk about each week. Plus, they never fail to have me laughing my ass off in the middle of my Thursday night bubble baths. (They literally have an episode titled, “Can you shit out of your mouth?” So there ya go.)
- My Favorite Murder podcast. / While this one is relatively more professional than BStates, it’s still kind of a hot mess at times, but that’s part of what we murderinos love about it. Karen and Georgia may take nearly an hour to get to talking about that week’s murders, but it’s another podcast full of authenticity. They make no habit of faking tight-laced professionalism and instead produce the podcast like two friends, just chatting about murder–which is exactly what they are and exactly why I like it.
- Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls by Murderdolls. / A little different from the other two of this category, this album by horror-punk band Murderdolls is so much hardcore fun. My favorite tracks include “Dead in Hollywood,” which makes reference to an array of classic Hollywood horror icons (Dracula, Norman Bates, and actor Vincent Price, to name a few), “B-Movie Scream Queen,” and “Love at First Fright,” a love letter to The Exorcist’s protagonist Regan. The references have a hilarious creativity to them, and it’s just a fun album to listen to for a horror lover.
Honorable mentions: NoSleep podcast. The Paranormal Podcast with Jim Harold. History Goes Bump podcast. Welcome to Night Vale. The Horrorpops.
- House of 1,000 Corpses. / Something of a “modern classic” for me, and my favorite so far of Rob Zombie’s film work. While its sequel, The Devil’s Rejects, is a great film as well, it’s a little glossier than House of 1,000 Corpses, and I think half of what makes House so fun is its lack of frills. While it’s not as strictly campy as other horror selections might be (like Bride of Chucky, below), it has some darkly comical moments to it–at least if you have the right twist to your sense of humor. Plus, it has Chris Hardwick and Rainn Wilson, so it can’t be bad.
- Crimson Peak. / I’m honestly obsessed with this movie. I saw it in the theater with Dan when it came out, and I straight up fell in love with the aesthetics and the beautiful way that it was a ghost story without being only that. I’ve always heard good things about Guillermo del Toro, and while I never doubted any of them, I also had never really experienced them for myself until this film. Now I want to go through every other film he’s ever worked on and thoroughly acquaint myself with his mastery.
- Bride of Chucky. / While I like the original Child’s Play films well enough, and they’re closer to the serious horror end of the spectrum, I can’t deny my love for the camp that is Bride of Chucky. Jennifer Tilly’s portrayal of Tiffany is a hilarious, sexy, and scary character alongside Chucky, inhabited by the soul of serial killer Charles Lee Ray. I watched this a lot as part of my middle school goth-punk days, and it’s one I still adore for its hilarity and horror.
Honorable mentions: The Exorcist. Ouija. Fire in the Sky. The Conjuring. Krampus. Poltergeist (1982).
One thing I haven’t gotten into yet is horror video games. For some reason, those scare me more than absolutely anything else–it’s why I’ve never managed to play my way through Resident Evil 4, despite having it for years. I do love watching playthroughs, though, and I’d love to get into the subgenre more in the future.
Are you a fan of the horror genre? Do you have any recommendations?