Do you know who Dario Argento is? Was? Is, according to imdb. Ah. Live long and prosper, Dario Argento. Dario Argento is a film director specializing in psychological horror. His early work is often cited as inspiration by the likes of John Carpenter and George Romero, with whom he collaborated on Dawn of the Dead.
Argento's most famous film is probably the 1977 cult classic Suspiria. Nominally about a teenage girl at a ballet school, it is notably surreal, violent, lurid, and more interested in mood than in plot. Also, there's some marvelous wallpaper in that movie. (And good Lord! The entire movie is on YouTube!) Black Swan apparently owes a lot to Suspiria.
Don't worry, we're just getting more random from here...
I brought home a new cookbook the other day (The Food52 Cookbook, Volume 2, I want to try the Coffee-Brined Chicken), and while flipping through I noticed a recipe for a Wicked Witch Martini. Now, Food52 is an online cooking community (just go with it) and the recipes in the cookbook are all contest winners from the site. The Wicked Witch was submitted by Jessica Harper, who writes about food on her blog The Crabby Cook.
Yes - you know that name. Jessica Harper also writes children's books, books like I Barfed on Mrs. Kenly and the other two Uh-Oh, Cleo books. Those are cute books. I happily slap those books into the hands of little girls who like funny, gentle books that deal with the predictable crises of a child's daily life.
But as I browsed around Jessica Harper's various online outlets, I learned something that I didn't know. Jessica Harper is also an actress. She used to show up on TV from time to time, and she turns out to have been in My Favorite Year, which was one of my favorite movies when I was in high school.
And she was the main character in Suspiria.
"Uh-oh, Cleo" IN-FRICKIN-DEED.
That is one mother of a career arc, if you ask me. Let's hear it for second acts!
While I was recovering from that little mind-bender, I came across this item:
Vet Volunteers is a early-chapter-book series by Laurie Halse Anderson. Everybody knows Laurie Halse Anderson - she writes award-winning juvenile nonfiction, plus the occasional picture book, and she is probably best known for her tearjerker YA novels like Speak and Twisted.
Say Good-bye is #5 in the Vet Volunteers series, and the minute I picked it up, with this adorable Shih-tzu on the cover, I had a bad feeling that we were about to venture into Twisted territory. Surely, you say, SURELY the title is not an indication that that pretty poochie is going to get it in the neck. Surely he is just going to get adopted by a loving family with a big yard!
We turn to the back cover, where we learn that the dog is named Yum-Yum, and that he spreads joy to sick puppies everwhere, but then he is diagnosed with cancer himself. "How can Zoe help the little dog pull through?"
SPOILER: She can't. That's right. Yum-Yum gets the needle. And then a new dog enters Zoe's life, a dog that couldn't possibly replace Yum-Yum, except he totally does. SAY GOODBYE, YUM-YUM - it's like something Bruce Campbell would say in a movie about a crazed mercenary who believes the animal world is out to get him.
WHICH LEADS US TO THIS
Ezra came home from school yesterday with a searing need to watch The Missing Lynx, an animated movie about animals... trying to escape from... a place... and a mercenary tries to catch them because... an old guy wants to take them to an island? And then the old guy changes his mind and the mercenary goes nuts? And meanwhile the animals don't bite the old guy to death?
Hell if I know. Antonio Banderas up there is not in the movie, did not write the movie, but is listed as a producer. Because the movie was made in Spain, and I think there's now an amendment in the Spanish Constitution that any film product of Spain be somehow endorsed by Antonio Banderas or Pedro Almodovar. The tagline is, "Extinction is the least of their problems." GRR. The male lynx is named Felix, while the female lynx is named Lynxette. GRRRRRR!
It's on Netflix streaming. Go for it. It makes almost as much sense as Suspiria.
I get press releases emailed to me all the time for books - many of them independently published - that people would like me to review. And I have learned one thing: people write picture books with the damnedest premises. There was one about a magic putter - that's right, a golf club - and the kid in the book learned not to rely on magic to achieve success. That's an important lesson, I think... if your last name is Weasley and someone's likely to steal your wand.
This week I was privileged to learn about a new inspirational chapter book "for children and adults alike." It's about "children embracing the essence of spirituality amidst magic carpet rides whose missions create a better world through faith-based healing, hope and six other virtues."
This book "is further distinguished as the first and only book with Aroma Scent Young Living Essential Oils (in Scratch and Sniff form), which play an integral part in the children’s journey."
And which I think means that it's going to smell like the bathrooms at work. Although good news! I think in this case the dog at least lives.
Now, I would never review this book - I don't do religion. And it could be a fantastic book with just a weirdly-written press release. So let me restrict my commentary to this: although my knowledge of the major virtues comes about mainly through Mordred's very cute song in Camelot, I am pretty sure there are seven. And 'faith-based healing' isn't one of them.
I'll leave you here, because David Hemmings - the actor who played Mordred in the movie, opposite one of the original holler-singers, Richard Harris - was also the male lead in one of Dario Argento's first movies, Deep Red.