Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Winter Fun

I have never really enjoyed snow. I know a lot of people do, and I do understand why. It's white, pretty, and cold like Keira Knightley. And it is rather peaceful to sit at your window first thing in the morning and watch the snow fall. It covers your sidewalk. It covers the cars across the street. It covers the body of the homeless person who froze to death in your driveway. Eventually, it's just hills of white as far as the eye can see.

Later, you can get bundled up in your best pair of thermal snowpants and go sledding. Or build a snowman. Or roll around and make snow angels. Or hide the body of your best friend who met his untimely demise with the business end of a snow shovel. There is certainly fun to be had in the winter if you possess the ability to have fun.

I, however, do not possess that ability. I find snow to be inconvenient, cold, and prone to hitting me in the face and getting caught in my eyelashes. And then there were the terrible experiences I've faced that involved snow. Allow me to tell you my story.

I was traveling through the Yukon territory with only a large husky for company. It was 75 below zero. And I needed to build a fire really badly. (I should have listened to the man from Sulphur Creek, I tell you. But oh, no, I was too stubborn.) I dropped my matches in a snow drift. And then my hands and feet went numb. So I thought about killing the dog and putting my hands in his entrails for warmth. But, alas, my hands were useless stumps by then, and then I went to sleep for a long, long time. It was a very, very unfortunate experience that left me quite scarred. I refuse to visit the Yukon ever again. Mostly because of the snow.

I suppose my next terrible experience could best be described as "a plane crash in the Andes that resulted in me and a few companions being forced to feed on the bodies of our fallen comrades" because it was in fact a plane crash in the Andes that resulted in me and a few companions being forced to feed on the bodies of our fallen comrades. I don't recommend the experience to anyone and would really rather not discuss any further. All I will say is that snow is to blame.

And then this other time, I was hired as caretaker of this secluded mountain hotel. And there was a lot of shenanigans involving a topiary and an oversized mallet. And I started drinking again and seeing naked dead people in bathtubs, and it was just a whole big mess. In retrospect, I was not the best caretaker. And since I was totally snowed in for months and months, it's no wonder that I went a little crazy and burned the whole place down. (Yes, burned it down. If you say anything about getting lost in a topiary maze and freezing to death, I'll burn you down too. Ahem.)

So, as you can see, snow is nothing but trouble for me. Which is why I would really rather be at home under my covers and not outside on a day when death may be found under those 3-4 inches of accumulation.

Who wants hot chocolate and some of this meat I just barbecued? Anybody? No?


Jen said...

I like snow as long as it's SNOW. None of this nasty sloppy grey slush that appears on the streets within a few hours. Yuck.

As for your stay in the hotel - don't try to claim responsibility for that fire. It was all because of the boiler.

(I wonder why they changed it from a fire to freezing in the maze in the movie... Easier special effects? Creepier to have the hotel standing and thus have the spirits still active? Hmm.)

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

Ah, but the boiler wouldn't have blown up the hotel if I hadn't forgotten to care for it. So there. HA!

I suspect Kubrick changed it because he liked the idea of putting Jack into the picture at the end, like he had joined the ghosts of the hotel forever. It's a much darker ending, I suppose, than Jack actually sacrificing himself to save his wife and child. The Kubrick Jack never comes around to see himself for the monster he's become. The Stephen King Jack does. Hence, I like the Stephen King story better and will duel anyone who argues with me about it.

Jen said...

And now I'm trying to remember if it was fire or freezing in the 1997 miniseries. My bet is fire, since King had a much more active role in the production.

That miniseries was my first exposure to 'The Shining', and it freaked me out.

Jen said...

I'm going to have to confess that I have not read the book. I have only seen the miniseries and the movie; all my knowledge of the book is via Wikipedia, where it is not clear that Jack is sacrificing himself.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

Well, in the TV miniseries, they really cheesed up the ending with Jack sacrificing himself and then returning in ghost form to watch Danny graduate from high school. How asinine was that?

As far as miniseries go, that one was almost entirely accurate to the book. The hotel did, in fact, go up at the end when Jack forgot to dump the boiler. He sacrifices himself basically to save Wendy and Danny because the ghosts abandon him at the last minute and he comes to his senses and knows he must die.

Stephen King gets written off very often as just pop fiction, but he is actually an extremely brilliant writer. I definitely recommend reading The Shining and some of his other early stuff. There aren't many writers who make me physically afraid to be alone. And it's not just the absolute fear you feel but being caught up in something that feels profoundly bigger than a book. When I read the Dark Tower series, I felt for the first time that Stephen King had actually built an entire world around me. It's amazing.

lalaland13 said...

You know, I really like Stephen King. I can't read any of his books except the one about writing (called, appropriately, On Writing), but he seems like a really cool guy.

And I am fond of snow but no so much of ice, especially since ice no longer means guilt-free school days. If you don't go into work because of ice, even if for a very good reason like the streets are slick and everyone is crashing and dying, you still feel guilty and don't get paid for that guilt.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@lalaland13: You know, not all of Stephen King's books are terrifying. Some of them are really thought-provoking and interesting, with just a hint of eerie thrown in. The Green Mile is a good one if you don't like reading flat-out horror. Misery is particularly excellent but not scary to where you have to sleep with the lights on, like Pet Sematary is. Hearts in Atlantis is pretty tame for the most part. You just have to pick through the Stephen King to find what suits you.

Jen said...

I see no reason to write off pop fiction, as long as it's interesting/compelling pop fiction. YA fantasy books are my first love, after all - I would be a hypocrite to turn up my nose at Stephen King.

Anonymous said...

The Shining is one of my favorite books, and favorite movies.

I refuse to acknowledge the miniseries.