The Shining (1980)



After a crazy con season, it is back to movie reviewing.  I got to see Stanley Kubrick’s classic, “The Shining” on the big screen. My local bow tie cinema is showing a series of Turner Classic Movies, and with Halloween looming, a few friends and I met up.

Why there were so few people in the theater, I will never know. Either way, I was armed with the blanket I started knitting at B-Fest and ready to see one of Kubrick’s shorter films, and one of my favorites.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about movie adaptations of books. Movie adaptations of Stephen King books in particular tend to disappoint. I liked the 1994 TV miniseries adaptation of “The Stand” a great deal. I think that the miniseries format allowed for more details from the books that would be left out of a film adaptation. I understand that not every little nuance can or should reach the silver screen, but holy shitsnacks, Pet Semetary, both a favorite novel and Ramones song, made for a horrific movie I have yet to brace myself enough to review.

While I found the novel version of “The Shining” compelling, it did get a little drawn out, both when I read it at 14 and for the second time years later. Stanley Kubrick films tended to run long as well, to a point where the succinct quality of the film became a post movie joke among us. Think about it-it really is one of the short ones.

This is interesting in light of how long the book was to me.

The story takes place at the Overlook Hotel, a high end and isolated manse of an inn built many years ago on a burial ground. A former schoolteacher and aspiring novelist, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) takes a caretaker position for the time that the inn would be closed, the nastiest part of the winter when guests and other staff would be sent out. Torrance agrees to the position for the peace and quiet needed to work on a novel, but is warned of the isolation and how the last caretaker went mad and violently murdered his wife and children before committing suicide.

Torrance, with a smile I would see later in his Joker performance in Tim Burton’s “Batman,” states that his wife would get a kick out of the story as she is a “horror addict.”

One doesn’t get that impression as the demure Wendy Torrance (Shelley Duval) moves in with their son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), who experiences psychic episodes and speaks to imaginary friend, Tony. If anything, Wendy is defending Jack’s drunken episodes, abusiveness and up until the climax walking on eggshells with Jack, all the while taking care of Danny and his episodes alongside her own isolation and visions once the viewer realizes what’s really going on with the hotel….

One could contend that the film shows  the eventual breakdown of Jack’s mental state down to the iconic scene where he breaks down a door with the ax yelling, “Heeeere’s Johnny” stemmed from being alone in a giant hotel that screamed the decades called and they want their brightly patterned carpets and gold ballrooms back. The viewer could also contend that while Jack claimed he wasn’t drinking since an incident where he became irritated with his son and dislocated his shoulder, he probably snuck a drink here and there when the family wasn’t looking, only to break when faced with a hotel where the manager took away the booze for insurance reasons. The point of the story was that the hotel itself, built on a burial ground, possessing inhabitants in the worst way, but some critics felt that the viewer didn’t really see that, and it was just a case of abusive Jack becoming insane from isolation, writer’s block and delirium tremens. I wonder about that. There were shots where I could have sworn the expansive, and brightly gaudy hotel seemed to move. I thought the carpet patterns were going to jump out at me along with the kool aid blood that gushed from the elevators.

All in all, this is a fantastic film with chilling performances from the cast and a nasty reminder of how we shouldn’t be too isolated for too long, even in a storm. I remember when a nasty snowstorm hit a few years back. The city was shut down for days. The university where I work called me to tell me that it was closed, a rare occurrence. As the snow piled in front of my front door higher and higher and I ran out of coffee, I got a little stir crazy, happy when the roads cleared up just enough for me to take a walk downtown. If I were caught in a “Shining” storm, I’d have knitted who only knows what in my cabin fever.

As mentioned before, I took some knitting with me. I didn’t do a lot of work with the B-Fest blanket since B-Fest, but to recap:

By the time “The Shining” was over……


Now, with more stripes!

I wonder what the pastel monstrosity will be by B-Fest 2017.


Rose City Comic Con: Cats on a Plane


This September, I completed both a personal and professional goal. I got to see Portland, Oregon for the first time, and I took Happy Kitty Studio to the West Coast, my first convention that required air travel.

For the most part, I traveled by car. One year at Otakon, I traveled by bus, taking a suitcase of display materials with a duffel bag of plushes shrunk down by a space bag. This allowed me to also pack clothes. Down to two bags and some knitting for the trip, I had yet to find out how useful this was when I got sick to my stomach on 7-11 donuts the last day of the show. At the time, I was gloating over the discount I received for booking early. I was hoping that the same didn’t happen when we boarded a plane bound for the west coast and back.

Also, how was I going to get as much merch into as few bags as possible? 

Swiss army brand bag don’t fail me now…

Putting the labor in Labor Day

I had from August 28-September 8 to get everything together. While I didn’t expect to do as well as I did at CT Horror fest, it happened and I had to restock on a sizeable scale on top of my day job. That week, I drew and cut patterns most evenings. I looked forward to an ace in the hole that was a long weekend.

Saturday and Sunday, I completed 24 cats. One day was dedicated to the sewing machine construction and the second to stuffing and putting them together. While I have my system to expedite the process, it is repetitive and time consuming. There is also so much a person can binge watch. Monday was the day to construct 12 Harley Quinn cats. Out of all the villain cats, I think she’s my favorite. Like her knitted doll counterpart, while a little more challenging, the end result is a joy.

What’s not to love?

Monday was the sewing day, meaning the fabric bodies and head were cut up and stitched back together in the harlequin four quarter pattern before I stitched a white mask, put together ears and tail and by 11:00 that night, I had twelve plushes to stuff and attach.

In hindsight, I should have taken Tuesday off, but, there were tasks I needed to take care of. By 2:43, I was on the phone brainstorming with a colleague as to how to run a script to add online handles in a batch because I was out in 45 minutes not to return until next Thursday. We do it, and I manage to ensure that two other batch loads went through correctly. Feeling rushed, I walked home hell bent to complete those cats.

I was seven cats in when I felt burnt out. By the ninth cat completed, I couldn’t do any more. Camped out with the Hulu criterion collection film, Fear, it hit me that it wasn’t yet 9:30. I was grateful that I took the next day off. I sleep until 10:00,  eat apples and cereal with my pumpkin spice coffee (I love you, fall foods and weather despite it being a few weeks from being official) and hammered out a few travel plans with Stefanie while finishing the last three cats.

Pile on the plush

Space bags make it easier

It was time to head out….

I picked up Stefanie and headed to casa de Peli, which thankfully is near the airport. We have amazing takeout Indian food with her family. Her dad picks ghost peppers from his garden.

They were wonderful, but I got drooly at one point. Pro tip: never eat the seedy half in one bite!

After a few episodes of Archer, we got some needed sleep and headed to the airport. We got a little turned around, but we made the flight with time to spare.

Part of me was very tempted to head to baggage claim, and while searching for my suitcase, which contained cats on top of the carry on, yell out that I wanted those motherfucking cats of this motherfucking plane now. But, there were no luggage issues and I doubt you could do that even in Portland, Oregon.

Then again, we had fifteen minutes to get from the plane to our connecting flight when we touched down in Chicago. Thanks, elliptical machine.

We get to Portland in pretty good time. I was a little worried that I had to check my bags with the toys. I was a little worried they would get lost in baggage claim. It took forever for our bags to come out of the carousel, but everything was present and accounted for.

Thankfully, my friend, Desiree was waiting to grab us for food, coffee and  merch dropoff at the convention center. Portland, and the west coast as a whole, it seems, is very aware of dietary needs and restrictions from various food allergies and lifestyle choices. People want to work with you accordingly. Living in the northeastern section of the country, there are times when I feel the odd one out for being vegetarian. This can be a little disheartening for group events, and I feel like the sole complainer. Not in Portland. You can even find lavender ice cream in the local shop, which of course, we all had to stop at!

Rose City Comic Con was a bit of a bust for me, plus I was a little disheartened to be stuck behind a table when in Portland for the first time. Well, Desiree, her husband Jason and I more than made up for it when exploring the city proper as seen below:

One thing that I noticed was a lack of yarn shops. I’ve seen galleries, bakeries, eateries of all types, and Powell’s books, the largest independent bookstore I have ever had the good fortune to enter. There was punk rock pizza, but no yarn stores. Either I have to explore this further, something I need to do anyway as I want to take a proper non convention vacation, or I need to explore this and set up shop……

It’s not the craziest idea I ever had.