I first read this story when I was about ten years-old. It put me off mushrooms for a long while. Not that mushrooms were a common ingredient in my mother’s cooking, but I was well into college before I began to appreciate mushrooms on my pizza and an occasional grilled portabella on my hamburger.
This story begins as many of Bradbury’s do: in the picturesque suburbs. Hugh, the head of the family, is fairly happy with his life, but feels like something is a bit off. His friend and co-worker, Roger feels it moreso. In fact, Roger starts acting weird, abruptly leaving his wife and calling Hugh to warn him about express mail packages. The only express mail package Hugh’s family has received is a mail-order mushroom farm that his son sent away for. Surely, Roger doesn’t that? His own son has the same mushroom farm…
“Gray Matter” by Stephen King
“Gray Matter” is an interesting contrast to Bradbury’s story. It does end up being a much more direct variation on the theme of some sort of fungus taking over a human, but King’s treatment of family is quite different. Richie, also the head of his family, has become something of a ne’er-do-well since his accident. The only contact the community has with him is through his son, whom Richie sends on beer runs. And in this case, some bad beer, not a mail-order scheme, sets off Richie’s transformation.
Don’t worry. This story won’t put me off beer…
In the Earth
Year: 2021 Runtime: 1h 47m Rated: R
Director: Ben Wheatley
Writer: Ben Wheatley
Stars: Joel Fry, Ellora Torchia, Reece Shearsmith, Hayley Squires
Ringworm is a type of fungus. A mycorrhizal mat is formed by a type of fungus connecting the roots of trees. Mix these two concepts together and add a dash of folk horror in the form of a woodland legend and you have In the Earth. Plus, the world outside the forest is being ravaged by a deadly virus and scientists in the forest want to…communicate with the forest? The intentions here are all a little fuzzy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The main characters don’t quite know what’s going on either. On the “scary” end of things, there is some body horror, though I think Martin gets along awfully well for a guy who gets a couple of his toes chopped off. There are also some extended scenes with flashing lights and jumpy images which might be hard for some people to get through.
Autumn is my favorite season; mystery and horror are my favorite genres. Obviously, I’m all about fall reading events!
R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril is back for its 16th year, though in a slightly different form. There is information on Twitter and Instagram, but most of the action is over on Discord. At its heart though it’s the same R.I.P.. Horror, gothic, mysteries? All valid choices for R.I.P. and challenges include reading novels/short stories, watching movies/TV shows, and (new this year) listening to music/podcasts. Also new this season is a group read, Shirley Jackson’s The Sundial, and the above spiffy bingo card. I’m bad at prompt-based readathons so I imagine I’m going to be terrible at readathon bingo, but we’ll see how it goes.
Something Wicked Fall / #FrightFall is also back at Castle Macabre. I plan on doing the group read, The Blood Countess by Andrei Codrescu, and probably The Devil’s Elixirs by E. T. A. Hoffmann during Gothic September.
Here we are at the end of perilous things, but to misquote Dickens “I will honor Halloween in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” How was my spooky season? It’s been okay. And in 2020 terms that means it’s been super awesome.
Followed *most* of the Drawloween prompts, resulting in this:
I’m supposed to be reading The Hound of the Baskervilles this weekend for Sherlockathon, but mostly I’m just chilling out and regrouping for…
Notes of Non-Peril
Nonfic November! I’ll be blogging for that tomorrow and I’m combining my first couple nonfiction reads with Sherlockathon. My original choice, The Butchering Art, is on deep hold at the library so I’ll be reading Edison’s Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life by Gaby Wood and The Tale of Terror: A Study Of The Gothic Fiction by Edith Birkhead.
And I’m also going to do NaNoWriMo. Yep. I’m going to try and write 50K words on my Ada Swason project. Basically, I’m going to write a loosely structured narrative, with digressions and notes on what I need to further research. So far, so good: I’ve already got one day done!
I intended to read The Dark Detective: Sherlock Holmes for Sherlockathon‘s Mycroft prompt (read an entire book in one location), but after a few pages, I found that I didn’t care for the art or Christopher Sequeira’s take on Holmes and Watson. So, I switched from one graphic novel collection to another and read Cynthia von Buhler’s Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini. Minky is a hard-boiled PI who ends up uncovering the truth behind Houdini’s death. It’s based kinda-sorta on fact, with quite a bit of nudity, bondage, and girl-fights mixed in. Definitely not the usual fiction I’ve read about Houdini.
Notes of Peril
I also finished my first novel for the Sherlockathon: Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell by Paul Kane. I’ll have a review of that later in the week. Next up: The Parasite by Arthur Conan Doyle.
Deal Me In provided a holiday treat this week: “Dark Christmas” by Jeanette Winterson. Of course, wrong holiday, but that’s what happens when you put Christmas stories in your random reading challenge. Very “perilous” and atmospheric, though, proving that the spirit of the Halloween holiday can continue after Saturday.
Notes of Non-Peril
Cooler weather! Football! It’s almost like fall around here. Well, Nebraska lost its game and we’re probably going back to near 90F by the end of the week, but I’ll take it for as long as I can have it.
Usually, I’m all in on Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon, which happened on Saturday, but I didn’t participate this time around. Leading up to it, I was hesitant and I couldn’t put my finger on why. I thought it was just because I had other things going on Saturday (like Nebraska football’s season opener and horror films to watch). But halfway through Saturday, I finally figured out what the deal was. I had found the last Readathon stressful. I know it sounds kind of dumb, but I had felt pressure to read when I didn’t feel like reading. I didn’t want to be stressed out about reading! So, I abstained this time around. We’ll see how I feel in April.
First of all, I formatted a little seasonal treat: “The Chess-Player” by author unknown. I found it while working on my automaton anthology, but it was too long for that. Click through and download it if you’d like a nice Gothic tale for October.
I had thought to read The Ghost Pirates by William Hope Hodgson last week, but an author’s note advised that it was the end of a three book series. So, I read the first, The Boats of the “Glen Carrig”, instead. I enjoyed it. I’ll have more to say on it later in the week and will get around to the second, The House on the Borderland, after…
Sherlockathon! Sherlockathon starts today. My first book is Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell by Paul Kane, a Holmes/Hellraiser mashup. In the last few years, Holmes and Clive Barker have both been 4th quarter favorites.
I’m a little behind on my movie challenge currently, partially due to binge-watching A Wilderness of Errors, a true crime documentary on Hulu. It is an interesting look at how witness testimony in criminal investigations is often given greater weight than physical evidence…even though humans both lie and have unreliable memories.
Afterlife with Archie, Vol. 1: Escape from Riverdale by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Writer), Francesco Francavilla (Illustrations), Jack Morelli (Illustrator)
I still think it’s weird that Sabrina the Teenage Witch is part of the Archie comics and the whole Archie comic-verse. Archie was the kind of comics my grandpa would suggest for me while I was reading Star Wars. Regardless, the franchise has undergone something of a renovation in recent years. But before there was Riverdale, the prime-time teen soap, there was Afterlife with Archie. The premise? A zombie apocalypse is sparked off when Sabrine helps Jughead by bringing Hot Dog back to life. The color palette is minimalist, which leads to striking visuals.
Notes of Peril
Finished Riley Sager’s Home Before Dark. I wasn’t super impressed, I’ll admit. I plan on posting about it on Thursday-ish. I’m up in the air on what I’m reading next. Maybe William Hope Hodgson’s House on the Borderland trio.
Last week, I revisited Glen Hirshberg’s excellent short story “Strewwelpeter.” If I haven’t said it before, his anthology The Two Sams is one of my favorites for this time of year.
Amazingly, it’s still a possibility that we’ll break the 100+F record. The record set in 1989 is 143 day at or above 100F degrees. We hit 142 days on Friday. The last couple of days have been in the high 90s; the rest of week promises at least one more 100 degree day. But knowing 2020 we’re probably just going to tie record…
I intended to give a more formal update on the first half of Horror Movies A to Z: The Return, but I never got to it this week. Instead, here’s a little summary:
I ended up rewatching 14 movies and watching 12 new-to-me movies. The most common rating was R. The most common decade was the 2010s (followed by the 80s). I apparently avoided the PG-13 horror movie trend that I’ve heard so much about… New-to-me You’re Next (2011) gets top marks along with the weird and kinda lovely Starfish (2018). One rewatch that re-impressed me was Idle Hands (1999).
Perils of the Bookshelf
Finished Bedbugs by Ben H. Winters and moved on to Home Before Dark, which in rare good-timing became available from the library just as I was finishing Bedbugs. Lots of “haunted” house goodness!
Peril on the Drawing Board
There are quite a few art challenges going on in October in the wake of Inktober‘s popularity. I decided to try one of these challenges myself. Since I wanted one that was *very* seasonally appropriate I chose Mab’s Drawlloween. I’m going to spend a half-hour or so on each prompt, adding to a main drawing. Above is what has occurred after “werewolf,” “pumpkin,” and “changeling.” Will is be a cohesive thing when I get done? Probably not.