The scream of a thousand grisly deaths? Macabre ghouls haunting the streets? Witches brewing putrid potions? The reaper in his quest for souls? A mad scientist’s tortured creature? The shrieking eels!? No, it is far worse.
It’s October 31st: candy is in open season. It starts with the evil, bite-size temptations known as “treats” which you exchange to save your home from tricks. And you think it’s over, but it’s only just beginning.
No longer satisfied with owning October, candy corn evolved to include a species known as “Indian corn” from the genus diablous maximus. Seen throughout the autumnal season lurking on coffee tables, waiting for a moment of weakness and dwarfed only by the lure of what promised to be a healthy alternative – the candied apple.
These gateway treats come along well into November and just when you think you’ve got it under control (I can stop any time, honest) out come the pies. Sweet potato, apple, pumpkin. They’re fruit, you say. I’m sure this is on the food pyramid. What’s that? A little ice cream? Dairy is good for you.
Then bam! It’s December and what do you know? That little sugar habit is no longer an occasional After Dinner mint. Suddenly you’re in a world where children are peeling down the clear cellophane on candy canes right before your very eyes. You start hallucinating, visions of sugar-plums dance in your head. Your family and friends are passing cookies back and forth and you find it’s 1 pm on a Tuesday and you’ve already consumed your calorie allotment – for March 2011.
The only way to fight fire is with fire. Or in this case, a midnight munchie.
Golden flax-seed or ground nuts
Natural peanut butter
Sugar free maple syrup
Banana or Pumpkin (optional)
Mix all ingredients.
If you combine only the first three the peanut butter texture is great for spreading on apples and it has a caramel peanut taste.
If you add natural pumpkin it becomes a dip. With banana, it slightly resembles marshmallow fluff.
I eat it on fat-free, low-calorie mini rice cakes. It’s also great served warm.
My only guilty pleasures this year are the cheesy Netflix offerings of the original Addams Family series and The Munsters. The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is about as serious or as scared as I want to get this year. Abbott & Costello Meet the Mummy and Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein are welcome distractions from the disturbing haunted house commercials and incessant political ads. Of course, they’re not as good as my old favorite Abbott & Costello Meet Captain Kidd but my tape is wearing out.
Monsters, Inc. and Little Monsters (1989) are great fun but if I’m going to watch a Fred Savage film, it will most likely be Princess Bride. More films of the season: Matilda, The Witches, and James and the Giant Peach. Roald Dahl is always a good choice this time of year. I’m thinking of doing a dahl/Dahl night. Curry and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Yes please.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and Pieces of April are genuinely great films for November but I’ll never understand why it’s so hard to find Fall films. There just aren’t classic Thanksgiving films like there are for Christmas, the kind you turn on to get you into the season. Parades usually shift me into the Fall feeling but by then it’s nearly over. I guess I’ll just have to write my own script.
Until then, I’ll have to be satisfied with films that only evoke the feeling of the increasingly cold nights and windy days. Gosford Park has found its way into my DVD player once again. Multiple storyline drama set in 1932, showing the lives of upstairs guests and downstairs servants at a party in a country house in England. The film begins as the guests arrive for a weekend of hunting.
Overlapping and intersecting, every scene is as complicated for what it’s saying as not and the constantly moving camera barely manages to shift the focus onto the character delivering their vital lines. But that is not a criticism. Director Robert Altman, screenwriter Bob Balaban and the spectacular cast create an atmosphere so realistic as to be nearly unwelcoming. You’re glad to be invited into the world and glad to be leaving.
All the romanticism normally reserved for a period piece is quickly murdered as the character through whose eyes we see the bulk of the story trots along behind the car on a wickedly cold day; the servants entrance is around the back. Once she enters the house, the upstairs-downstairs begins but every character has a motivation, a purpose for being on screen, and soon there is a murder.
Unlike my beloved Agatha Christie series, the murder is of less importance than the sweeping arc of the general story and the intricate goals of each individual character. Gosford Park feels like several movies intertwined and does a better job than most films do with a single plot. Every character has motivation, even if it’s only to be unseen, and the feast of nepotism, lust, tragedy, desperation and incivility is perfectly tempered by moments of reflection, tenderness, humor and the beautiful songs of Ivor Novello.
Sung by Jeremy Northam, the actor who portrays Novello in the film, the music is paced into the film steadily and is the only constant mood throughout. As the characters intensify, clash, change, stagnate or move on the plot is revealed like an iris closing in on the common thread, and the film ends.
The cacophony of colors, smells, and sounds create a sense of satisfaction. It never fails to be a pleasant, if unrepeatable experience as with each viewing there’s something new to discover. In that way Gosford Park feels very much like walking through a thick pile of leaves and in October, it can’t get better than that.