ZedneWeb / Thoughts / Eerie Weather

Eerie Weather and Sleepy Hollow

Sunday, 21 November 1999

It is, technically, late November. Thanksgiving is next week, often the time of the season's first snowfall. Last week, it was so cold you could see your breath at times. Once, while driving at night, I saw small snowflakes drifting through my headlights.

This weekend has been warm enough that you can walk around in short sleeves comfortably. There are times when the weather simply does not make sense, and this is one of them.

I'm not complaining, of course. Putting aside questions of global warming and reduced heating bills, I enjoy being able to walk around outside comfortably. Especially now that I'm working indoors in an office with no windows. (When I interned at Telcordia, my office was so cold I had to bring in a sweatshirt. Now that I'm an employee, my office is too warm. Coincidence? ... Well, yes. Probably.)

Yesterday was especially eerie. It's November, so the sun is low to the south, even at noon. At the same time, it was as warm as early autumn or late spring, when the sun is much higher in the sky. As a result, the world felt strangely off-kilter. The angle of the sun suggested evening, but the direction was all wrong. It was like the world had been rotated ninety degrees.

Walking home from lunch, my parents and I came across an enormous flock of small, black birds, possibly starlings. I mean it when I say enormous; there were literally hundreds of them on the library's lawn, in the trees, and lined up on the roof. It was an impressive sight, one we hung around for. The birds moved in waves, creating an effect reminiscent of smoke. We eventually crossed the street to get a better look, accidently startling most of the flock into leaving--also an impressive sight.

The night was foggy, which felt appropriate as Mark and I went to see Sleepy Hollow. Tim Burton's films may lack in the storytelling department, but they're always great for atmosphere. My favorite Burton film is still probably Ed Wood, but Sleepy Hollow was everything I had hoped for. Thankfully, Burton chose not to follow the standard "things jumping out from behind other things" formula for these kinds of movies, choosing instead to cultivate a creepy atmosphere with mists that seem to reach out and extinguish torches and bleeding trees and (obviously) headless horsemen. Don't go looking for a faithful adaption of Washinton Irving's original story, or you'll be disappointed.

On a totally irrelevant point, I liked the way they phrased Irving's credit: "Based upon the story by Washinton Irving". It sounds so much classier than "Based on a story by...", doesn't it? (Or "Vaguely inspired by...", for that matter.)

On another irrelevant point, have you ever noticed how much better people's handwriting was back in those days? I'm not talking just about the flourishes, even the plain, everyday letters make my handwriting look like the output of a mental deficient. (Not to malign the handwriting of the mentally deficient, of course.) I discussed this with Mark and later with my parents, and we developed the following hypotheses:

  1. The writing tools back then demanded more precise handwriting. You can't go back and correct mistakes easily, and a quill pen won't forgive a sloppy line like a pencil will.
  2. Penmanship was taught with great emphasis in schools, especially among the upper class.
  3. People didn't need to take hundreds of hurried notes in college, which my mother blames for wrecking her handwriting.

One can't overlook the influence of typewriters and computers, either. I suspect my handwriting has suffered from sheer neglect. And laziness. And an attempt to match my typing speed.

Bonus Thought: Good Anime Always Come in Groups

Meanwhile, in an entirely different part of my life, I visited the local Suncoast and was startled that DVD had broken out of its small section and had captured a large portion of the store. There was even an anime DVD section which included at least three volumes of Serial Experiments Lain, a series I'd been waiting to collect on disc. I guess I won't be putting off that DVD player purchase much longer. (How fortunate that I'm now employed.)

The videotape anime section, meanwhile, was filled with items I hadn't expected to find yet, including the second Slayers Next box set, Nadesico, Cowboy Bebop, and El-Hazard: The Alternative World (that's the second El-Hazard TV series, which follows the continuity of the OAVs). I guess this shows how out of touch I am with events in the anime community. Or else work and weird weather have messed up my sense of time.

(That's not a typo in the heading, by the way. Japanese words do not change form in the plural, so you can have two good anime or a dozen ninja or a pack of samurai. Feel free to correct people if you hear them using it wrong. Don't mention my name.)

David Menendez, zednenem@alumni.psu.edu