Getting Chills

Leaves are falling all around, which means it’s about time that I start my annual brief fascination with the horror genre. This is a couple of weeks where I work up just enough courage to watch a few scary movies (or play a scary game), until something I see scares me too much, and I mostly quit the genre until the next year. The buildup to Halloween is an obvious inspiration, but what else is it about this season that inspires me so? Is it the chill in the air? Earlier sunsets, so I’m moving around in darkness much more than I’m used to?

Or maybe, it ties in to my general sense of unease and restlessness around this season, because for so many years of my life, Fall was a time of big transition and change, and for the last number of years this has not been the case. But, I still find myself feeling ‘twitchy’, like something big needs to shift in my life, and I’m missing it. So maybe the horror genre is my way of unsettling myself and my thinking when the rest of my life seems much more settled by comparison. (I mean, there are always ups and downs, but at my stage, change is a steady constant rather than a Big Event).

Whatever it is, last year’s Horror Kick ended with The Babadook, which genuinely got under my skin and rattled me. “I’m good on horror for a while,” I remember telling people. And yet, here I am, back at it again, reading reviews and impressions and trying to psyche myself up to put something on. Maybe I’ll document the capper to this season as well, if there is one as clear as last time.

If you find yourself in a similar place as me, I can’t make a lot of recommendations, but I do have a few (in no particular order). I can’t say they’ll work for you at all; scariness is obviously personal and subjective, but I’m sharing them anyway. I used to watch tons of scary movies in University, but I don’t anymore, because I lost my edge; they frighten me more easily. I also like to stick with things that are more supernatural / cosmic, because when it comes to people doing harm to each other on film, I mainly watch and think “people actually do this to each other in real life” and I’m just sad and nauseated.

With all that out of the way, some memorable scary movies:

  • The Ring (2002) – I know I’m supposed to like the Japanese original more, but I saw this one first and couldn’t shake it for days. I watched it in the actual theatre. Why did I do that?
  • Annihilation (2018) – is so beautiful and weird and unsettling, like a fever dream.
  • Resolution (2012) and Endless (2017) – While I don’t think you need to see the first one to jump into the second, it’s worth it and will enrich certain scenes.
  • The Cabin in the Woods (2012) – apparently a great year for metahorror, this one is also funnier than everything else on this list.
  • The Thing (1982) – One of my friends pointed out that what makes this scary (besides the insane creature effects) is that these men are rational scientists and for once make all the “right” decisions about their predicament — but it doesn’t help

Thing I Saw: A copy of Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams for the Xbox sitting in a little drawer in my home. I’m fascinated and terrified by the SH games, but watching a Let’s Play of this game years ago is part of what inspired me to make my own videos. I recently bought this copy in hopes of making my own series on it, but that means I’ll have to play it for more than ten minutes at a time, and that might be too much for my nerves. We’ll see.

Thing I Learned: The number of 1kg bags of fries to prepare for roughly twenty construction workers is: eight. (We had a company BBQ lunch here today)

I’m Grateful For: Space in my day to chill out and blog.

Have a lil’ weekend dance

Making Sausage

Apparently I’ve not managed to write about my upcoming job with the Canadian federal election, even though I’ve been sitting on this news since like, spring? I guess nothing much has really happened until this week.

So yes, I’ll be working on the federal election! We’re expecting the writ to drop (government dissolved, campaigning begins) on either the 8th or the 15th, because as I just learned it only happens on Sundays. I’ll be working evenings and weekends as an Assistant to the Automation Coordinator, or AAC, until the end of October. In Canada, voting districts are determined mainly by population numbers and geography, and each electoral district has a main office to coordinate and manage voter information, run advance polling, answer questions, and do training and such. The Returns Office, as it’s called, was recently moved to my area and so I got this job offer through word-of-mouth.

The Automation Coordinator does light IT for the office, manages the computer system that stores voter information, and generates/prints reports for the political candidates and other stakeholders. My job as assistant is to do whatever the AC doesn’t get round to during a the day, which as I understand it, is basically the busywork of watching printers. Probably it’s more than that, I don’t know. This week I had my first visits to the new offices, as well as a big meeting yesterday with the primary staff for our new location. The AC and the Returns Officer (boss) are really friendly and easygoing, and aside from sacrificing my evenings, I’m really excited about this opportunity.

Mainly that’s because I’ve often enjoyed going “behind-the-scenes” for things like this and seeing just how things function. I don’t consider myself incredibly interested in political systems generally, but as a voter, I’ve always just shown up on the day, done the card in the ballot box, and gone home, with no idea of just how much work goes into making sure that the box is even there. And that things are fair and accessible and unbiased. I’ve already learned a lot just by chatting with the others, and I expect to learn a lot more before October ends.

So far I’m already impressed at how much work Elections Canada does to ensure that everybody has a chance to vote, and my boss has talked a lot about the work that’s done between elections to reduce or eliminate barriers to voting access. Things like: setting up polling stations in large apartment buildings or seniors’ complexes. Or in one funny case, creating a polling location in a tiny town after residents vigorously complained about having to vote in a nearby town with whom they had a fierce, longstanding rivalry. We might roll our eyes, but the issue is treated non-judgementally and seriously, if it seems like it’s going to present a genuine barrier to people doing their civic duty.

When I read about all the voting chicanery that goes on in other countries (un-registering voters, gerrymandering, ballot tampering &c) it’s dawning on me how important it is that our electoral process is so reliable and non-controversial. It’s been stressed to us several times that Elections Canada does its level best to maintain public trust and impartiality, and I guess I’d always taken that for granted, too.

Anyway, I’m not sure how much more specific I can be about what goes on from this point forward, but I thought the whole thing was worth mentioning. And now I have!

Thing I Saw: Super Metroid surprise-dropped on the Nintendo Switch, today! Nintendo added a bunch of SNES classics to their online subscription service and I am very hyped. You’ve no idea how often I want to play SM on a nice handheld, that isn’t a phone with a wonky bluetooth controller or something.

Thing I Learned: S U P E R M E T R O I D

I’m Grateful For: A fair and democratic electoral process!

Why can’t this be in a format nicer than 480p, whyyyyy