The Sea Spicer

The Sea Spicer
Yours truly

Saturday, March 25, 2023

My Nightly View Addiction: Outer Banks

I love Outer Banks. The streaming series. It’s even better, for me, than Stranger Things. Same warming nostalgia for youth as in Stranger, but the kids are teens in Outer Banks, and out of that awkward phase.

I mean they’re gorgeous. Beautiful people in beautiful places. It’s always sunny and it’s always summer there, like your teen memories. It’s rarely dark, except when the sun sets and there’s a bonfire and twinkling fairy lights. 

The girls aren’t chicken-legged in the manner of all other screen entertainment. Is it the shorts?  They are long-legged in cheeky cutoffs, but with those lush fat-over-muscle cheerleader legs, in the whitest kicks or the grungiest Chuck Taylors. The boys get broader-shouldered each season and have heartbreaking jawlines. 

The young people get convincingly crispier tans and beach hair after long weeks of boats and desert island strandings, under layers of string bracelets and puka necklaces for all. They get around mostly by bicycle and the “Twinkie”, a beat van. The older men are grizzled and the older women have bleached-to-straw hair. The midlife traders, fronting illicit transactions with fishing, are suitably large, hairy and hatted.

The sound track is largely of my youth, the background for outdoor parties and drives to the beach, and kissing.

I watch the whole episode every time with a doting smile on my face, not drooling– a grandma admiring the young, remembering being a girl watching sweet boys and dangerous boys. But they were all just boys.

And like Stranger Things, the very few limited fumblings with sex are gratefully off screen. So tired of jaded humans exploiting the visual limits of achieving gag, so tired of closeups of the mechanics and expulsion of biosolids. This one's about remembering the tickle, the butterflies, the flush of desire, the look of love, instead of the leer. (I can’t answer for any leering in the viewing audience.) 

I even identify with the youngsters’ testing, working their way through the group, trying on different couplings, when it’s all new meeting ground, and no one rushes to speak the commitment words.

We witness hesitant flirtation and pure Romeo and Juliet infatuation and attachment. And also anger and jealousy, in the sly pain of girls and the occasional violent explosions of male competition. Yes, that testosterone thing, but the conflicts expose not only the worst but their better nature, (even of the sometimes bad guys), when the target of affection is watching.

(I am thinking of Topper’s turning the other cheek during John B’s assault, and of Rafe’s sparing his father because of a new girlfriend’s belief he’ll do the right thing. I think not a spoiler, since this kind of action goes round and round through the seasons …)

I totally forgive the treasure hunting plot, which pops up and twists and turns and adds and destroys treasures, to give all the characters the drive and urgency to keep moving. Hey, how is the Upside Down any more believable? Suspend your disbelief for good ol’ gold, curses and mortal healing of El Dorado. 

The absolute best reason to use young people in an adventure plot is that any stupid choices they make are believable because they're young. They don't have the savvy of the experienced men and women. They don't get how the world works yet. But sometimes a split-second risk taken pays off, and they start to learn something about it.

I just keep thinking what a great serial of Kindle Vella episodes each would make, every suspenseful episode cliffhanger leaves me chuckling. I don't know if Outer Banks started as a book, but I wish I’d written it.

Sunshine and summer. The darkness is inside the houses and in shadows falling over the children’s expressions, as they feel so intensely their family, friendship and love problems.  Maybe they look the other way out of respect for each other, but the whole showboat bobs and pitches on the persistent currents of their real problems.

The OBX is an arena where the wealthy, the “Kooks”, play and conduct business alongside the “Pogues”, resident dockworkers, mechanics, country club servers, fishing industry, thieves, drug smugglers, orphans, teachers and police. One relentless current is the class divide and discrimination. 

I am not at all offended by this. I don’t imagine other viewers are offended by it. They say that most Americans consider themselves middle class, regardless of how the pollsters rank them; it's only others who are rich or poor.  

I identify with the Pogues, but also with the children of the Kooks, because we knew them, worked alongside them, too.  Even though I had, and have, so many privileges, I can identify with the Pogues' financial insecurity, bitterness and self doubt about being less than, not one of, not born into.

The class tension affects the characters’ own relationships not only with each other but with their families, of course. Parents are worried about maintaining status for their children, or of acquiring status for them through education. 

Parents are the overarching conflict in Outer Banks. JJ has a life and a father like Huck Finn’s. John B’s is the idealized missing father, who may just become an albatross for his son, and subject to a reassessment. Rafe keeps trying to win his father’s love and respect, a rival to his sisters for dad’s affection, and in competition with dad to win manhood. Pope’s parents want him to work his way up out of Poguelandia. Kiara’s parents wonder if enforced discipline, imprisonment, would keep her safe from falling from her place in the moneyed culture.

All the while, everyone in both camps will excuse the kids if their alleged reason for running off is to catch a wave. 

I never leave the show feeling stressed, at all, I’ve just been basking in the warmth of their sun.

I don’t know if my grown children enjoy the series the way I do. Perhaps they are not far enough removed from the struggle to smile. Maybe they enjoyed less freedom at that age than I, maybe more. 

I’ve never been to the Outer Banks. I’m a Jersey shore girl (a handful of times) and our other settings might have been a pool, tennis courts, a jalopy, a park, yard or patio. I slept in the sun after intense play, and leaned near at night to the warmed skin of friends. 

But I’ve been there.

#OuterBanks #RomeoAndJuliet #HuckFinn #OBX #StrangerThings #JerseyShore #the70s #theSeaSpicer

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Turning from Carnival to Lent, The Witching Hour, and the Washing Up


My final four Christmas amaryllis blooms, on Mardi Gras, foreshadowing Easter lilies....

[Some readers may find traumatic the references to abortion, incest and rape in the discussion of the Anne Rice book The Witching Hour, The Game of Thrones and other literature referenced.]

Anne Rice is a Witch

I totally accidentally happened to read Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour during Carnival season, fortuitously finishing before Lent. 

At least originally I’d thought it was accidental. I’d read Rice’s vampire books back when they were new and I was a young bride. We were a hip couple, before there were hipsters of course, and we partied with the most interesting people, including friends who were sometimes maintaining underground identities.

In current times, I’ve been observing with interest the phenomenon of diverse Instagram witches. So when browsing for books, I happened upon The Witching Hour and snapped it up. It was written in 1993, after I’d given up parties and steamy reads for parenting and children’s books and sleep. I thought I’d remembered the Lasher books coming out, but only in passing. 

My first thought was that I couldn’t write about this reading, because surely Anne Rice is canceled now. That was back in the day and she, we, meant no harm, but–generations of New Orleans witches with appurtenant “mulattos” and small-b black help, when the language has since changed? And, you know, I thought incest was considered verboten in publishing and advertising. And: a main character sure seems to have a great and awesome grief for the aborted, (while acknowledging that of course the legal right in the pregnant person to decide is the only defensible legal, political position). So what do you think, canceled? 

Well I’m relieved I guess to find, not canceled. Also I see that it wasn’t at all an accident that I was able to scoop up the Witching Hour. (I bet you already figured that out, how it happened, what algorithms, put the title before me…)

It seems there is a new streaming series coming out, or already out, called The Mayfair Witches, based on Rice’s series of books starting with The Witching Hour. 

So, not canceled. We can talk about it.

Oh and that’s right, incest, rape, are OK to witness since Game of Thrones! Truth, I didn’t actually see GOT, (my grown son didn’t want his mother to see it, too pornographic!), but I did read A Song of Fire and Ice, so I know the story, mostly excellent reading btw. (My old dad is currently enjoying listening to a superb audio rendition.)

Though incest repels readers and frightens publishers, it is a classic literary theme. [I am sorry to be so academic about it, for anyone who has suffered the actual trauma.] Committing the act in ignorance is chronicled between King Arthur with a sorceress sister, Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, and I think even the Tolkien origin stories involve a brother and sister if I recall, in Children of Hurin? And remember Twin Peaks? And as we know from GOT and from history, royal bloodlines sometimes intentionally try to consolidate or concentrate power by inbreeding.

But Anne Rice. The author is a witch. 

There’s a scene where she maddeningly bewitches the innocent reader. She writes a scene where a man, by fraud and trickery and sorcery, is helplessly drawn into sexual relations with his daughter. 

(Don’t worry, I don’t believe this is a spoiler of any of your suspense if you will read or view. I haven’t named which ancestors in the long line are involved, truthfully I don’t independently remember without checking, it’s a weighty and repeating family history. But only in this one scene do you have to watch it happen.)

Rice’s passage is such a perfect example of twinning the reader’s experience with the story unfolding as experienced by the characters. The author manipulates the reader, the reader who would reject the act in disgust and horror, and is manipulated in the precise way the sorceress-or-demon, (whichever bears responsibility), manipulates the man into performing the acts. Rice writes an erotic scene, veiling identity, with multiple women serving as the succubi to arouse, and the reader is sucked in too so that even with some foreshadowed anticipation of the impending repellent act, the reader is aroused to read it and even forced to feel stimulated by it. Just so the male character, knowing now what he is about, continues the evil acts repeatedly and forcefully, as he continues as a prisoner in the chamber. 

A reader might feel violated, like the character who can’t help herself from enjoying a demon incubus’s uninvited sexual trespass (I’m sorry, she herself isn’t sure whether to call it rape until later). 

That power of the author witch is awe-inspiring and scary. 

The spell-casting episode relates to a significant theme of the book: the continuing debate over fate and free will. Characters are doomed by their destinies, or do they have choice? 

Or is fate merely a probability, resulting from genes and environment, something the rare and most singular people, saints, can overcome with action. 

Saints, she points out–but also, the few singularly evil, who can corrupt the fate of the world. 

So perhaps, while we may prefer free will, being bound on destiny’s tracks is safer than apocalyptic derailment by the free will exercised by a monster. 

I find the debate interesting, perhaps even dated? because of the suggestion by current science that human actions are predetermined. Discussion and citations for another time …

I do know I was launched and compelled by author witchcraft into consuming and enjoying this story; just as I was manipulated by commerce and media to purchase the book, (when I thought it was serendipity or my independent little find!), because there is a streaming series coming out. 

Christmas to Mardi Gras

The Carnival season begins with the Christmas season’s Twelfth Night and continues until Mardi Gras and the beginning of Lent with Ash Wednesday. Both Christmas and Mardi Gras frame The Witching Hour. The protagonist Michael retains childhood memories of the supernatural figure Lasher in the church at Christmas, and memories and dreams of the flambeau and the ritualistic drums for the final orgiastic Comus celebration on Mardi Gras. After multiple recorded (and repeating) histories of the Mayfair family through time, Michael’s story builds from a Halloween wedding to the terrible climax on Christmas Eve at midnight, the Witching Hour. Then the falling action includes a separation, waiting and perhaps healing time, after revisiting Mardi Gras.

It’s perfect for a series, the Mayfair witches go way back and can go on forever, there will be endless seasons. Questions remain unanswered at the conclusion of The Witching Hour.

For one, the issue of maintenance, restoration and renovation of the New Orleans House, caused conflict throughout the story. Was restoration of the house finally for the good, or the opposite, or was it merely a distraction? 

 I doubt I’ll be reading more of the series, only as I tend to be a series sampler. 

I was glad to have read the story for Mardi Gras by happenstance,(!) and to complete it by Ash Wednesday. I looked long at the Christmas amaryllis blooms withering with the end of the Christmas season and the Carnival season and felt glad to be done with the long festival season.

Ascetic Aesthetic

Which brings me to the washing up. 

I have been organizing stuff since the Christmas season, out of necessity for various boring reasons. As a result I can’t find anything. I did want the peace of a clean house, really! and I still want peace, the simplicity of empty space, and order. 

But it seems to require constant fussing. Maybe cleaning up is the distraction, instead of the trash. Maybe dirt is the desert away from civilization for a penitential hermit.

I want to turn in.  Perhaps write some letters, or just write.  Because of all the putting-away, I had to search out the charging cord, the stationery. Now there’s stuff all over the table again, but that is the price for some stillness right now. I will, by Easter, turn to spring cleaning. But right now I choose to be Mary over Martha.

At least that’s what I tell my family, that this is a holy mess.

Engraving print titled "Thought Plagued by Spirit of Distraction". Don't know how it became skewed, woowoo

#TrueTalesOfGhosts #AnneRice #TheWitchingHour #Lent #MardiGras #CLVadimsky #MayfairWitches

Friday, June 17, 2022

Just Like Jack - Small Town Fairy Tales

What makes it a fairy tale? Well there may be some kind of "magic", and a surprising creature or person you may not encounter every day. But some tales are not about castles or royalty (except castles in the sky, or tiny secret flower fairy royalty). These tales are about the simple folk, without money, who scrabble a living on their own far from city life, farming or cutting wood. They observe closely their gardens, the animals, and the rare person they meet unexpectedly. They quietly judge what they are told and think for themselves. They accept lessons learned from mistakes. And sometimes, because they are sharp and fit from their daily hard work, they climb to castles in the sky and make fortunes to share.