“…were it not that I have bad dreams.”

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So I don’t know about you, but I have bad dreams like whoa. (Yes, that’s my super-adult introduction to this first post in I don’t know how long. It’s called dodging the issue. Move on.)

Anyway. Nightmares. I’ve always been a vivid-verging-on-lucid dreamer and, what d’you know, serious depression and psych meds just make that even more vivid. I don’t get true night terrors, but I get repetitive cycles of nightmares that last over days — or weeks — and I get recurring nightmares either within or between cycles.

This means that I’m always looking out for stuffs that might help. Over the past two or three months, I seem to have found a little cadre of helpful things so here they are in case they might help you, too.

  • Melatonin. Obviously, a bottle of pills is a bottle of pills is a bottle of pills and I’m not suggesting you order this bottle from this place, but I’ve had the best luck with this brand in 3 and 5 mg dosages. It takes about an hour to kick in with me, which is about enough time to read a little and get the cats nicely settled in their optimum positions on the bed.
  • Sleep and Noise app. I have this on an Android device, but I think you can probably get a Mac version if need be. It costs you $3 for an extra ‘expansion’ of sounds and it is totally, totally worth it. Ocean Waves and Rocky Beach send me off into sweet, nightmare-free sleep every time.
  • Rain Sounds app. Again, I’ve got it on an Android.. Again, an extra couple of bucks for ‘expanded sound set.’ Again, totally worth it. There’s one with frogs singing that — no fooling — reminds me of where I grew up in Maine; I put that one on even if I just want to read for awhile. Both these apps are also great meditation backgrounds; they just go on and on and on— ’til you shut ‘em off.
  • Insight Timer Meditation Timer. I don’t use this as much as I’d like to, but even the free version (again, on Android) has some wonderful guided meditations, including body scans (along those lines, check out this savasana meditation from Cora Wen) and heart-opening practices that really help calm me down and soothe me towards sleep. There’s also just the basic timer-with-bell if you just want that function; I also like that it tracks your sessions from day to day — but no-one go look at my numbers.
  • Yogi honey-lavendar tea. This stuff is the bomb. No nasty licorice taste, no valerian to have to sweeten over — just yumminess.
  • YellowBrickCinema. Can’t remember how I found these guys, but they have some awesome, multiple hour music and sound loops on Youtube that are great for getting to sleep, naps, meditation backgrounds, work backgrounds, whatever.
  • Meditation Relax Music. Pretty much what it says on the tin; I love the tracks of singing bowl tones.
  • Calm.com. This one has a ton of functionality — including an app that’s only for Apple devices so I haven’t tried it — but I mostly use it at work as a wallpaper. That is, I select an image, kill the music, and F-11 that sucker to full screen. It’s way better than any of the Microsoft options and it’s nice to look around from re-foldering and rest my eyes on color for a few minutes.

So there you have it. If you try any of them, I hope they help. If you have other suggestions, please tell me!

CrowGirl vs. Disney: The First in an Occasional Series

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So Disney is going to decide Star Wars canon.

I don’t know about you, but I thought the canon was doing pretty well on its (more or less) own.

Leaving aside books, graphic novels, and games for a minute, lets just think about the movies. Yes, there are disagreements about the prequel trilogy but, really, do they matter that much? The films Disney is threaten—I  mean, promising us are sequels from Jedi not Sith, so those of us who wish to forget them can and those of us who revelled in the angst can continue to revel.

Deciding on the canon. Those are words which should chill your soul, I feel, if it isn’t already frozen solid at the prospect of Disney taking over Star Wars.

Just think with me for a minute about what that means, okay? That means the company responsible for Belle, Aurora, and Ariel is now in charge of Leia. The company that created the “Amazing Interchangeable Prince” (seriously, can you honestly remember any of their names? did they have names?) now has Luke. And the company that made up the timeless meerkat/bush pig duo, the singing mice, and a faintly Jamaican crab are in charge of not only Han in sidekick mode but Threepio and Artoo.

I can only imagine with a kind of strangling horror what will happen to the Falcon. Tell me that if it starts to talk, at least it will be voiced by Alan Tudyk and be incredibly profane.

I don’t know about you, but all that’s enough to give me the shivers. But at the very least no-one will be able to complain about JarJar’s accent ever again because, hey! Disney has so much worse. The crows in Dumbo? Yeah, ‘nough said.

I can only feel that we’re headed for something Christmas Special terrible here, folks.

TV Shows: Fringe (season 1)

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So it basically went like this: eh, fun, fun, fun, ew, fun, what the fuck, fun, feels!, fun, fun, fun, ew again, fun, boring, fun, how the fuck stupid do you think I am!

I mean, really. That season finale? Who are we kidding, Mr. Abrams, sir? I mean, anyone who didn’t have those ‘reveals’ figured out from about the middle of the season — possibly a show or two earlier — simply wasn’t watching with his or her eyes open. You couldn’t have telegraphed it any more clearly: is this a you don’t trust your actors to convey the story thing? or a Leonard Nimoy had a free weekend thing? or a the season was running short thing? I mean, what was this!

Okay, that little mini-rant aside, this was pretty fun. 90% of the episodes were a good time; watching the pre-Walking Dead work of Orci and Kurtzman is fun and I assume they’re the ones keeping the make-up shiny. (By the way, I just started season 3 of Walking Dead and oh my fucking God but we can talk about that another time.) Jean the Cow may be my favorite character; either her, or Astrid with her endless name variations. Oh, or Charlie — love him; he took being impregnated with giant mutant scorpion babies so well. Also Nina Sharpe; I don’t think Blair Brown really has any idea what the hell is going on around her but she’s having a lot of fun with it plus she has a Darth Vader hand.

It’s got plenty of fun one-liners (“It’s the friendliest of fruit!”) and Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham is a good straight man for the combined forces of John Noble and Joshua Jackson as a father/son unit of crazy. The crazy is a little forced at times, I must say, but the core cast still makes it look fun.

I have to say, as a resident of Boston, the writing staff’s idea of Boston geography is always good for at least a howler an episode. For instance, I work in the Countway Library — riiiiiight next to Kresge Hall. And there are no cows.

I can’t say I have any deeply serious thoughts about Fringe — it doesn’t really seem to ask for them. It’s fun, pretty popcorn TV; I’m told by sources who have seen later seasons that it turns into “The Walter-and-Peter Show” and I’m totally okay with that.

Horror Movie Homework: “The Haunting of Julia” (1977)

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So I had pneumonia this fall and, as a result, as soon as I could keep my eyes open for more than 45 minutes at a time, I watched a lot of movies. One of them was The Haunting of Julia (also called Full Circle) with Mia Farrow and Keir Dullea as well as a lot of people with vaguely familiar faces most of whom turned out to be unfamiliar after all. Except for Tom Conti.

It’s based on a novel by Peter Straub who, for a moment, I had confused with Dean Koontz. Don’t ask me why; I was sick, okay? In case you’re like me and momentarily baffled, Straub wrote Black House and Talisman with Stephen King; Koontz…well, he didn’t; mostly I think of him as the dude who always has a golden retriever somewhere in the story.

Haunting is basically a one-woman show; if you don’t like looking at Mia Farrow, don’t watch this movie. It’s a very quiet, low-key little ghost story which is never quite a ghost story because you’re not entirely sure if the woman is being haunted (and if she is being haunted, who is actually doing the haunting), lost in her memories, going insane, finding out the awful history of her house, or some combination. It even seems at times as though she may be switching between each state separately. The poster I’ve used to illustrate this post is almost entirely misleading which is partially why I chose it; it makes the movie look like your pretty standard child haunt story which it really is not.

The catalyzing event for the whole thing is the death of Farrow and Dullea’s daughter by choking. It’s a rather horrible opening, made no less horrible by the quiet, clean filming that focuses on the girl slowly gagging to death. It’s implied although not shown that Farrow may have gone slightly batshit and, perhaps, cut her daughter’s throat in an attempt to remove the obstruction. The offending object is, in fact, a piece of Disney-bright green apple. You can make of that what you will.

Farrow then retires to or is put into a nursing home to recover from the event and, when her husband comes to take her home, prefers to dash into the street and escape from him and buy a completely fresh house for herself. There are definite signs of marital stress right from the beginning of the movie, but Dullea plays the husband throughout in a state of barely controlled rage that seems a little inexplicable. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to feel that he isn’t affected by the death of his daughter, if he’s relieved by it, if he wants to torment his wife by bringing her back to the old house, if he simply misses his wife and wants to go back to the old pattern (as much as he can)– He’s really not given enough screen time for any of this to become clear.

As time goes by, it becomes clear that something odd is happening around Farrow; it may be her memories of her daughter, it may be something connected with the house into which she has moved which proves to have a mysterious little girl of its own. As Farrow digs into the history of the house, the story of its little girl is partially unveiled and is really quite nasty. Part of this story seems very interested in the idea of what horrors children can commit — commit and get away with because they are children. It’s a shame this isn’t explored further since it’s a very interesting idea that doesn’t get a ton of play, at least not in my somewhat haphazard wanderings through the genre. Anyone with recommendations along this line, please! Leave me suggestions.

Since it seems that Farrow’s character is aiming to die one way or another from the time of her escape from the nursing home, it doesn’t come as a huge surprise when she manages to get there. The closing scene, though, is striking. It almost looks like something from a Polanski film, very clear, directed, but with a luminescence of color and light.

Anyway, if you’re getting over pneumonia, or have a rainy afternoon to while away, give it a shot.