Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sammi's Pixie

In other news .  .  .

last weekend Sam got a wild hair and cut it all off. 

18 years old, 25 years apart

10/31/13 Halloween, a Philosophical Zombie Post

I've been fascinated for some time at the surge in popularity of two horror fiction staples: the vampire and the zombie. Their rise in pop culture, with the vampire returning to mass appeal only slightly ahead of their brainless counterparts, is especially intriguing.

In both cases, we are dealing with creatures that feed on and eventually consume most of us, leaving only the smartest to survive and fight another day. And in both cases, these supernatural creatures are in a state of un-deadness now, but were once exactly like us, fearful humans who wanted simply to be left alone, and . . . not eaten.

The emphasis of our society on insatiable consumption, the rise of the horrors of obesity (some true, some media driven), the commercialization and depersonalization of human interaction (Facebook, anyone?) all have parts to play in the current appeal of the undead's rise. That undercurrent of disconnection among us actually does feed the desire to see these narratives played out in either the most seductive or the most visceral of ways. We feel doomed. We consume stories of the doomed to make us feel less alone.

Naturally, the fears of death, both in your typical "I don't want to die" / facing of our own individual mortality, common to humankind pretty much since, well, forever, as well as the sneaking suspicion that there might just be worse things, after all play a part as well. We discover that immortality, such as it is currently and popularly imagined, or at least the ability to come back in some form, doesn't have quite the appeal of our childhood conviction that we are simply invincible. As much as we don't want to die, we find that we really would prefer to stay dead rather than shamble around hoping to feed on the living. And, I'm afraid, most of the audience who are consuming these narratives are not consciously aware that their underlying fear is that, in fact, they already are the undead.

The appeal of the vampire, for all its seduction, is that it chooses you, personally, intimately, and often very gracefully. It feasts on your life quietly, having charmed you into submission, and for all the phallic symbolism of the fang and the long, slender vessel of the willing neck, you find yourself drawn into desiring that embrace on some level, even though you know its going to kill you. In most vampire fiction, the option to let go and then die is fairly viable. If you've developed some sort of deeper connection to your seducer, you might enter into an agreement to become immortal with it, but otherwise, it's a one-and-done moment of intercourse.

That's where the division gets interesting. Because, as we all know, with zombies, there's no such option. There is, in fact, no romance with a zombie, at all. They are all interchangeable, and so are you. You aren't special. And the zombies don't care one bit who you are, because all you are is un-rotten flesh. If today's stories are any indication, the more mindless and disgusting and literally gut-wrenching we can make our zombies in fiction/television/films, the more we can't turn away.

Sure, we can outsmart them . . .sometimes . . . but only for awhile.

Because, and here's the real problem and what's most likely at the heart of their appeal: there are always too many of them. The mindless and ravenous undead self-perpetuate at an alarming rate.

Fill in whatever political sentiment there that you'd like.

Deep down, it simply appeals to the fears of an outnumbered us-against-them paranoia that pervades our current thinking: black and white/ good and evil / right and wrong types of arguments, those which allow for zero nuance or ambiguity, leads to zombie pop culture.

Of course, The Walking Dead, for all its zombie terror, usually gets back around to the really interesting question of whether the zombies might not actually be preferable to dealing with living people, who use their minds and limited thinking to commit atrocities against one another, despite being fully capable of using their brains to work together instead of against one another.

Still, did you see that herd in the latest episode? (with CGI, it was 10,000 of them!)

Your Halloween tip for the day: Always choose the zombie traction option!

Emma Crawford Coffin Races

The 19th Annual Emma Crawford Coffin Races were last Saturday.

If you go to any local museums around Colorado Springs, you will find a section on the Sanitoriums, which sprang up at the turn of the century and was a major economic driver for the area. People who were diagnosed with consumption were told to go out west, where the air was cleaner, and get vigorous and active in order to get better. Tens of thousands of people came, before penicillin was available, seeking a cure in the mountain air and the healing properties of the mineral water that flowed from the natural springs.

Emma Crawford came to Manitou Springs as a teenager suffering from TB, and, against medical advice, once she felt stronger, she hiked up Red Mountain and expressed a desire to be buried on the top. She even tied a red handkerchief on a Pinon tree to mark the exact spot she wanted. At age 19, she succumbed to her illness. It took took two days for twelve men to carry her coffin up to that tree and honor her request in 1899, but they did it.

However, progress intervened and the railroad came through. Emma was relocated to a southern facing side of the mountain, which is much more exposed to the elements. After a torrential rain in 1929, Emma went for her coffin ride down the side of the mountain and back into town.

History gets murkier after that. Her remains were discovered by some boys and what happened to her next remains a mystery. Whether she was immediately re-interred in town or not, it was in an unmarked grave. It wasn't until 2004 that a grave marker was erected, and likely we will never find where her bones were placed.

In 1994 the first Emma Crawford coffin races were born. Each team consists of five members: 4 runners and an Emma who must ride in the handmade coffin on wheels. Wheels cannot be larger than 6" in diameter. Creativity is awarded, both for theme/coffin construction and for the best Emma.

Teams compete in the races by pushing Emma back up Manitou Avenue as quickly as possible.

Sammi and I staked out a spot Saturday morning pretty early and by the time the parade got going, we'd kicked it into Disney Crowd gear. Sam snaked her way into a spot along the curb so she could see. I stood on the corner of the planter to take pictures. Unfortunately, since this was our first time, we had to learn from our mistakes. The tree near that planter obscured good photographs of the path up the hill. So we had a much better view of the parade of all the teams before the start of the races than the races themselves. And the parade view was over tops of heads for me, so nothing spectacular to show photograph-wise.

Still, a fun time to take in all the costumes and craziness. We watched the first half of the races before slipping into the Loop with Deana for lunch and then shopping with the gift certificate D had given me for my birthday.

Boo at the Zoo

man, I'm a week behind!

A few shots from Boo at the Zoo where Heroes Alliance was contracted to come mingle with the guests for members' night.

my assistant for the night

Wands and Wishes, a similar non-profit featuring Disney princesses, was also on hand. 
Our 19 year old Iron Man couldn't help himself.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013
For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car
watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.

"How do you know if you are going to die?"
I begged my mother. 
We had been traveling for days.
With strange confidence she answered,
"When you can no longer make a fist."

Years later I smile to think of that journey,
the borders we must cross separately,
stamped with our unanswerable woes.
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand.

Making a Fist ~ Naomi Shihab Nye

Saturday, October 19, 2013

10/19/13 Idaho Springs

Marci and Ren were in town for closing on their summer place in Idaho Springs. Marci and I spent the morning combing four of the Goodwills on the west side of town to start kitting out the place. They had to fly back out this afternoon, but it was the start of a fun new adventure for them (and by extension -- me!)

the back yard has a bit of slope...

love the attic!

and while Marci got all kinds of house stuff, I scored both Sam's perfect Halloween costume (she's going as Elphaba from Wicked and was struggling to find the right outfit), and two things for me. Strangely, these were found at two different stores.

10/19/13 Full Moon Morning

19 on the 19th