Hello again! We have made it to the end of the summer and I feel great about it. Sorry to all you summer fans, but fall is the best season, and I genuinely don’t mind if you disagree because I will be too busy chilling at home in my wool sweater. Watching a movie on a cool fall weekend night with a cup of tea and a blanket is one of life’s greatest joys! Even better if it’s a scary one.
Speaking of which…
It has been a slow two weeks for movies, which is to say that for some reason I only watched one. I haven’t been in a movie mood, I guess. This weekend, though, I accidentally watched a very disturbing documentary1 and had trouble sleeping as a result. I have insomniac nights every month or two, but usually they happen because I dared to have a sip of caffeine at 5:01pm, not because I am spooked by something I’ve seen. So, the next day, Peter suggested we try watching a slasher film. This is his favourite tension-relief method and also sort of the thesis of his book. The suggestion lined up quite well with the news that there will be a new entry in the “official” Halloween movie franchise: Halloween Kills. We had just been talking about watching the 2018 Halloween together, which I had not yet seen. So, on Sunday night, that’s what we did.
I will be honest in saying that I haven’t really interacted much with the Halloween franchise. I don’t have any sort of connection to it. I do have a basic respect for 70s horror, and Jamie Lee Curtis, and John Carpenter, but it feels like after the first film the franchise sort of lost the plot. The new trilogy (or whatever it is) very directly rejects the stories told in the other movies as “rumours” and focuses Laurie Strode’s complex and overwhelming trauma from her encounters with Michael Myers. They also got John Carpenter to do the score. The opening credits are very good:
I am not a good judge of what’s scary. The person I share my entire life with wrote a book of essays about horror (linked above), and while he was writing it, he had to watch a lot of scary movies. Since we live together, I had to watch them too. I always tell people that after watching Hereditary I am no longer capable of feeling fear. Even if that’s not entirely true, I definitely have a high tolerance for horror movies, and I completely understand most people do not.
I did not find Halloween scary. I thought it was a good movie with a nice plot about intergenerational trauma. It was thoughtful! There are gory moments, but they’re not gratuitous. The tension is a lot, but it’s earned. If you like horror, you’ve probably seen it already, but if not it is definitely deserving of being on the list.
Also, please observe this funny joke I made. It’s a crossover with I Think You Should Leave. Have you watched that yet?!
I haven’t had any incredible revelations about TV this time around. I’m sort of in the middle of watching a bunch of shows, which is a nice place to be, except when you need to recommend a TV show to your newsletter subscribers. So I’m going to just give you a rundown of everything I’ve been watching.
We took a break from Fringe because we got to the beginning of season three and it got really dark. I think we’ll start it up again soon.
The Venture Bros.2
This is a perennial rewatch for us—maybe not every year, but at least every other year. When Peter and I first moved in together he would watch Venture Bros while I was doing other things, and I would be like, “What the hell is that annoying show you are watching?” Eventually I agreed to watch it from the beginning and it only took a few episodes to understand the appeal. Here is my favourite thing about it: the characters are broad strokes by the very nature of the show in that they are all clichés of 70s cartoon characters, but they’re somehow also very realistic, and sometimes they can even make you feel real feelings (see: Hank’s relationship with Brock). The broad strokes thing is why it’s such an annoying show to have on in your house if you’re not invested. The genuine feelings are why you should give it a chance. Also because season two opens with the best use of Rozalla's "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)" in TV history.
Some of you may be very excited to learn that I am watching Dawson’s Creek for the first time ever and I am enjoying it way more than I thought I would. Because of the CW teen dramas it inspired, I did not realize it was like a much more racy Gilmore Girls (which I love). It’s clever and weird and so self-aware. I love that! In the next month or so I’m sure I will have some real things to say, but for now I will leave you with this: Joey should’ve gone to France.
…is back! With some changes to the set, intro song, and opening credits. They also now show the category above the clue for Final Jeopardy. This first week of Season 38 is awkward because, as you may have heard, they had announced a new host who resigned after one day of recording. I highly recommend reading this article by Claire McNear that is high-key the reason he resigned.3
Since Jeopardy records five episodes per day, we are stuck with “our host” Mike Richards until Friday. Mayim Bialik is taking over next week for an indeterminate amount of time, and then supposedly we’ll have more guest hosts. I think I speak for the majority of viewers when I say that I am really looking forward to J! just choosing a permanent host already and putting all of this behind us. I know I have my pick.
In the Jeopardy off-season, tired of all of the drama but missing our favourite show, Peter and I happened to catch an episode of The Chase. It’s an American adaptation of a British game show that pits experts up against contestants, where the experts “chase” the contestants down a board, trying to get more correct answers so they keep their money (it’s obviously not their money). The set is a bit much, and it falls into some game show clichés, but the draw for us was that the “experts” are the Jeopardy GOATs: Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, and James Holzhauer. It’s just fun to have the boys back in town. Anyway, the show is really fun, the clues are challenging without making you feel like a dumdum, and the host Sara Haines is surprisingly sarcastic throughout which fits well with the GOAT trio. It’s a great drama-free alternative to Jeopardy if, like me, that’s something you’re looking for.
Somehow I have two books to talk to you about today, but this newsletter is getting long, so I will try to be brief. However I will note that both of these books are published by independent Canadian publishers so I highly recommend supporting them if they pique your interest! You can buy them straight from the publisher or at your local independent bookstore.
I Know You Rider by Leslie Stein (Drawn & Quarterly, 2020)
I love graphic novels, but they’re expensive. They’re always worth it! But they cost a lot of pennies for a relatively brief reading experience. This book came out last year, and I had considered picking it up once or twice, but never committed until a few weeks ago. It’s an illustrated memoir that weaves the author’s remembered conversations with her internal monologue, thinking about being a childless unmarried adult. It felt like it would address some thoughts I’ve been mulling over in my head lately, and it definitely did. Without getting into too much detail I will just leave you with this page that really hit me in the feelings. Sorry the quality is kind of crap.
Night Watch by Gillian Wigmore (Invisible Publishing, 2021)
During my aforementioned nearly-sleepless nights, I did a lot of reading. So much so that I ended up reading this entire book in two nights. Carrie Snyder’s blurb on the front of the book is what first interested me: “Veterinary medicine threads through Night Watch: think James Herriot crossed with a gothic Canadian sensibility.” My family has roots in West Yorkshire so I have been a fan of James Herriot’s ever since I read the picture book Only One Woof. I have since read many of his collections, and I can think of few writers that are as immediately comforting. Night Watch – which is a collection of three novellas – was a great read for someone like me, because not only did it evoke the country vet life, it was also in many cases about being a young person who has no idea what they are doing with their life. It was a more than worthy companion to my sleepless, spooky nights.
It’s holiday in the wasteland
I just learned that today is the fourth anniversary of Open Mike Eagle’s Brick Body Kids Still Daydream, his masterpiece concept album about a Chicago public housing complex being demolished. I love this album. More than once, I have walked around North Dartmouth listening to it, wondering if it will ever stop being relevant.
Thanks for reading to the end. This was a long one! See you in October.
I guess it counts as a movie? I am not going to tell you what it was, but it was on the History Channel late at night on Saturday, and the date of airing was significant.
Venture Bros is available on HBO Max and I hope it will get some kind of Canadian streaming release soon. It was recently “cancelled,” I guess due to Adult Swim’s ownership changeover, but there is a movie coming out in the next year or so. My hope is that the movie is at minimum five hours long and split into 22 minute increments.