I've wanted a skeleton suit for a long time, but never found one that quite fit my criteria, and I never found (or made) the time to make one myself. I sought a suit that 1) was more cartoony than anatomically correct; 2) was made of regular material, not cheap Halloween costume polyester; and 3) since I wanted a full suit, I wanted the top to just have the ribs and spine (pelvis on the pants). I'm pleased to announce that this year was the year, and, despite how busy things are at work, I eked out the time to execute the concept I'd long envisioned. It turned out great!
First, a note on my inspirations. When I was a kid, perhaps just on the cusp of being too old to appreciate it, I saw the feature-length animation of The Halloween Tree. It was written by Ray Bradbury (who also wrote the novel). It strikes a perfect tone for the changing season: melancholy, mysterious, but also jubilant as the band of young trick-or-treaters set off into the crisp evening. One of the main characters is Tom Skelton, who, appropriately enough, is dressed as a skeleton. Here's how he's rendered in the movie:
A very nice, perfectly-fitting bone suit for Halloween.
In college, I saw Jean Renoir's masterful film The Rules of the Game (1939). Almost everything is perfect about this film. So many of the scenes are staged in depth, photographed with deep focus: what's happening in the background is just as important as what's going on in the foreground. There are love triangles, cases of mistaken identities, and a heartbreaking rabbit hunting scene. In some ways, some of the themes prefigure upstairs/downstairs-like scenarios like Downton Abbey. But the reason why I bring it up here is because there is an exquisite scene--a talent show--where a quartet of people perform La Danse Macabre. Three dressed as ghosts with skeletal-like umbrellas and one in a beautiful skeleton suit. In the scene, there is a particularly amazing shot where the performance is seen very small, reflected in the sliver of a mirror.
Most Recently, my desire for a skeleton suit of my very own was reinvigorated by the loosely-construed antagonist character "The Creep" in the inspiring music-dance-video film Girl Walk All Day. If you haven't already seen this movie, I might suggest dropping what you're doing and just watching it now. Filmed in and around NYC guerrilla-style (no permits, permissions, or other official stuff), one character, "The Girl," dances around the city, often in opposition to The Creep, who magnificently pursues her and causes mayhem in his delightful skeleton suit. Really: if you haven't seen this film, you may well be missing something that you will love.
So there's a loose genealogy of my bone-suit inspirations, and here's my own attempt (Jordan just wanted the top). I think it turned out great and was so excited to wear it this Halloween season! (photo by Emilie Johnson).
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Last weekend was my fall break from school, so we spent a few fun days with some of J's family in Baltimore. We ate a ton of delicious food (steaks, great breakfast, Pho, seafood) and did a ton of fun stuff. The two cousins (ages 10 and 12) were really fun to hang out with. We played many rounds of 20 questions, went bowling, and (perhaps my favorite) played exquisite corpse by candlelight. We also carved jack-o-lanterns. J's uncle and older cousin hollowed out the pumpkins and got the seeds ready for cooking (my least favorite part--so yay!) and then the kids drew on the faces and J and I cut them out. My pumpkin-carving skills are not amazing, so I was so relieved that they went for simple, classical designs. I think they turned out great! My break was long enough that I also got to spend a couple days in NYC (and see my beloved Sprout). My time there was quick, but it was enough to cook a delicious dinner--rosemary baked potatoes, broccoli, and corn (perhaps the last corn of the year). Plus, big neighborhood news: a new grocery store opened up nearby. It's so convenient. Really glad about that. Other delights from lately. This book of short stories. Really so good. Reading Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree, which I try to read every year if I have time and remember (it is so magical).
Posted by Meredith at 7:49 AM
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
The school year started in August, and with it, new rhythms, new daily routines. I knew it'd be very busy, and indeed, things are chugging along here at a regular clip. The inconsistent weather (85 degrees in October!?) also doesn't help register that the weeks are cascading by. The new job is really great. Top notch. Very nice colleagues, nice students, and a really nice place. I feel really fortunate about it all. The novelty of the new school and the new town has slowly turned into a dependable routine, and I'm really enjoying it. This town is great for good food, the historic buildings are nice to look at, and it's just generally an interesting place to be. The work, as satisfying as it is, is also exhausting. Lest I let another six weeks sail past without any mention of it, I've illustrated a brief sequence to chronicle how many of my days are spent: 1) Wake up [early], wishing there was a little more time to sleep. 2) Walk to school. 3) Teach my class. Sometimes the students seem engaged, riveted, even, by the subject matter. Other times, we slog through. 4) I do work in my office. Sometimes these hours are broken up by meetings: with colleagues, with students. Other times, I have the place to myself to chip away at my many projects in the works. 5) After business hours, I dash home to make some dinner. 6) After dinner, it's back to school for...7) A screening! One of the joys of this job is getting to watch (and rewatch) so many great films. Truly a treat. A few weeks ago, we watched The Shining (pictured here). 8) The film wraps up by 9 or 10. I am tired, but try to sit with my work just a little longer. Or I prep for the next day's class. In the morning, it all starts again.
Posted by Meredith at 8:19 PM
Saturday, August 31, 2013
The still above is from The Danish Poet, a film that won the Academy Award for short animation a couple years ago. I'd been meaning to see it for so long, and it's really a delight.
Here are a couple of recent snapshots: First, a view from the bedroom window on a rainy day. It feels incredible to have such an expansive, unobstructed view. Such a feature was never on my apartment-hunting list of criteria (nor was it even mentioned in the advertisement for this particular apartment), but what a tremendous luxury: to see this much of the sky! Yes. Second (of course) is Sprout. Always beautiful. Always ready to sit on the softest surface available.
Posted by Meredith at 6:51 AM
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Oh wow. The radio silence here is unimpressive. The summer's been a great one, but I've been far too busy on the go, uprooting, reconfiguring to write much about it. My biggest summer agenda item had been to move from Providence to Pennsylvania (where I start my stellar new job!) That, in addition to a wonderful and lengthy family vacation on the west coast, would prove more than enough for the summer. However, to add to the adventure, we also decided to move New York apartments. My brother-in-law recently relocated to the city, so we figured we'd all get a big place together. And oh. House hunting in NYC can be a real drag (though it can also be funny and interesting). Long story short (or perhaps reserved for another time): both moves are completed and everything's excellent so far. I love having new neighborhoods to explore, new patches of light at different times of day, etc. Here are a few from my new place in PA. The walls are beautiful and freshly painted, though many are still begging for some artistic adornment.
Posted by Meredith at 8:00 AM
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
I spent the 4th in Westchester with the Brunch Bunch. Augie and Sprout came, too. We drove up to Maggie's parents' place in the morning and took a walk to the water. The heat was suffocating everywhere except perched on the shore, so it was great to sit for awhile, listening to folks splashing around at the Horseshoe Harbor Club's beach nearby. I wished I'd brought my bathing suit and made sure to mention it like 500 times, much to everyone's chagrin. Later, the heat discouraged us from mobilizing much, and we spent the afternoon just hanging out. In the evening we kind of got our act together and bought a ton of food to BBQ, then played a game of rummy (Sprout sat on Jamie's lap for part of the time). Then some of us checked out the fireworks in the next town over and we came back to have root beer floats (which have become a staple for us this summer). It was a fun time with a fun group. Here's what we did last year around the 4th of July.
Posted by Meredith at 1:11 PM
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Things have kind of lapsed around here over the past few months. Despite my amazingly flexible schedule this summer, and the marvelous adventures one right after the other, I'm doing a spectacular job of failing to document anything. In photos or words or any form. I'm mostly okay with it. I've enjoyed working from home, taking pictures of the dog as she naps in the sun, and ugh, trying to make progress on some large projects. The pace and scale of my work (glacial) is sometimes discouraging, and there's a lot of work to be done (a lot), but everything's really dandy.
A few especially nice things to report:
- Two amazing trips to Provincetown (one in the rain--we saw Gatsby and I learned how to play Yahtzee!, and one in overcast but warm weather, where my mermaid tendencies emerged). The food is always so, so good. Surpassed only by the company. My heart swells just thinking of the good times.
- A great trip to Madison, WI for the wedding of some friends. Did you know Madison is on a lake? And that it's beautiful? I didn't before the trip. It was a delight. We went to a petting zoo, hung out with all creatures of our God and King, ate some cheese curds and frozen custard, and all of this toodling around in a rented minivan. We were five women and a man, so the main joke of the weekend was that we resembled a polygamous brood. We tried to snap a few "family pictures," but they didn't really turn out spectacularly. On our way to and from the airport in Chicago, we played 20 questions. The one that stumped everyone was "Styrofoam packing peanuts."
- We're also beginning the search for a new apartment. Details forthcoming. This whole process, of course, could the be subject of a whole series of posts (so stay tuned). The earliest stages have involved visiting potential neighborhoods, often with friends who are already residents, so it's meant lots of fun in new (to us) places in the city.
Posted by Meredith at 4:27 PM