We had fun during our latest downpour – frolicking in the Atmospheric River even when other folks were spinning out, hitting psychological walls, or were left wondering if the sun would ever come up again.
Still, it was good to get a respite, and even better when our rain break coincided with an invite for drinks at a favorite watering hole – one with good food and fire pits.
Now, for us at least, the only thing better than a coastal windstorm is a fire pit a few hours after a coastal windstorm. Everything fresh and clean, a smidge of rain in the air along with a waft of bergamot, which everyone seemed to be wearing Saturday night. Since when did that become such a thing, by the way?
Drawn in by the flames we watched the firelight dance across our glass, the fire working the magic it always did – with a little help from a very mature Scotch. After about half an hour the ramrod in our spine eased and we felt at home in our gunfighter’s seat, soaking in the sights with beady little reporter’s eyes: a Tasmanian Devil ankle tat; a flirtatious alley cat sliding under our hand; slender fingers tapping out a text message under the smoldering gaze of a first date/boyfriend/husband.
No longer in the trenches of the never-ending skirmish between the sexes we leaned back and waited for tell-tale evidence of battle: the overly demonstrative clink of glasses signaling the nervous start of a first encounter; a feminine voice raised in false umbrage; the sound of silver bangles chiming as their owner punctuated a conversation with an elaborate gesture.
We’re told there are changes afoot in the dating game, that social pressures and advances in gender equality has toppled the traditional checkerboard and ushered in an all new playing field – with women exercising freshly realized sexual independence and financial power. That’s fine with us and certainly an interesting development, buttressed by some of the media we’ve been absorbing lately.
Almost all of our early-morning prowling is done via a really smart TV these days, our search leading us to a streaming platform called ALTER – which from their bio is a deep content offering featuring “the most daring storytellers in the world of horror.” Now, we must explain we’re not huge fans of the genre, generally eschewing Jason and Freddie and the rest of the Slasher Academy for English countrysides, interesting characters and a well-told tale. In ALTER we uncovered a broad archive of live-action mini-movies with a parade of A-list actors, compelling writing and cutting edge special effects. We dialed up one called “Femme Fatale” and found ourselves dragged into an increasingly ominous audition which culminates with a female protagonist asserting herself in a particularly gruesome way.
“Damn,” we think we said, realizing as we said it that it was with some approval – and we’re not easily impressed. That first short turned into others, with it quickly becoming apparent that women’s roles in movies seemed to have broadened considerably, with directors giving Marisa Tomei and Minnie Driver (just a couple of the actors we recognized) gutsy new dialogue and switchback character traits. It was also quickly apparent that the moviemakers supplying ALTER with its projects, who we presumed to be female, felt some payback was necessary for perceived past male excesses – equipping their actors with the cinematic tools necessary to even the score… often really, really pointedly.
After the third or fourth short film in which a boorish, presumptuous and preternaturally stupid male character is brought up short and served up in a manner sure to make a female audience howl with delight we realized the picture they were painting was “man bad – and watch what we do to him.”
We get it. Cosby and Weinstein ran amok for a long time and women fought back and won and things have changed. Gender roles have shifted and the landscape has changed. Politically. Financially. Culturally. Sometimes it seems all we can do is hold on and watch it all unfold. People are re-thinking the value of a college education, questioning whether or not they want to marry, have children, build a life with someone, like, forever. Even spirituality, long an accepted American tenet, is being questioned and re-evaluated.
ALTER says they are “Changing horror — one scare at a time,” and we appear along for the ride, at least at O Early Thirty when the bunker is quiet and the viewing pickings are slim. Even without the gore and jumpstarts and subtle moralizing it’s a scary enough time right now – harrowing for those who see the hold they once had over others slipping through their fingers, and who are launching spurious campaigns to regain that power.
And sometimes, all you have to do is stare into a fire pit long enough to see it all coming.