Baby, There’s a Bull Outside

When I think of the song “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” I also often think of the bull on wall street.

The Charging Bull of Wall Street is a 7,000 lbs bronze statue that was installed in the middle of the night without permission, raging against the crash of 1987. It was to represent “the courage and the willpower of Americans against the greed of Wall Street1.”

Then Fearless Girl showed up in March of 2017 and completely changed the meaning of the piece. Now the bull wasn’t the oppressed, but the oppressor. Now the American people, the American future, was represented by a child, standing her ground against it, unflinching.

The Bull’s artist, Di Modica, was not happy. The placement of the girl had changed the meaning of his work2.

There is a very interesting discussion there about art and boundaries. Can one change the meaning of another’s work? What is the right, the responsibility, of one artist who makes a piece that connects to another and changes completely the original artist’s intent?

And yet, with “Baby it’s Cold Outside” that’s exactly what Time itself has done. Yes, there is much discussion about the origins, which are progressive and feminist. The fact that the two singers are in harmony is also a huge part as well. This isn’t a single phrase, nor just dialogue, but a song, and all parts work together.

But that doesn’t change what Time has done to the phrase “…what’s in this drink?” Once a playful joke, is now a very real danger faced by millions of women. The man who doesn’t take no for an answer. The decision between the snow and the sleepover. All of these things ring to a different sound now.

Which makes the analogy to the Bull and to the drink complete. If you view the Bull alone, as raging against the greed of 1987, it will look different than if you stand back and see the Fearless Girl standing defiantly in front of it.

“Baby it’s Cold Outside” is both progressive and problematic, based more on where you are standing than anything else.

So like it. Or don’t. Just make sure you look at the whole picture first.

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NA Pumpkin Spice Beers

IntroPart 1Part 2 Part 3

An interlude, as I still have Untitled Art (and some Athletic Brewery Sours AND new Wellbeing Brews) to discuss, but tis the season. I am happy to report I’ve found THREE pumpkin spiced NA Beers, and want to tell you about them.

Fall doesn’t feel the same without a pumpkin spiced, well, SOMETHING, and glad to find that NA Breweries are stepping up. Bravus Brewery won this round, but really is there a way to lose with pumpkin spice?

Dark & Gourdy (> 0.5%) – Athletic Brewing

A limited release from Athletic Brewing. Well spiced and balanced, it is a light, but pleasant taste. It is a dark beer for Athletic Brewing, but as with their others, thinner than their counterparts. Order here while you can.

Pumpkin Ale (> 0.5%) – Wellbeing Brewing

This one is a slight disappointment. I had commented before finding this that what I wanted was Wellbeing’s Hellraiser Dark Amber but with pumpkin spice. Well… that is ALMOST what this is. It is clearly the same style as Hellraiser, but the beer and the spice are seemingly two independent flavors that didn’t mix in the brewing. It isn’t bad, but no where near what it could have been. They don’t seem to be selling it this year, but hopefully a tweaked recipe comes back next year.

Pumpkin Dark (> 0.5%) – Bravus Brewery

This one is good. It is a dark beer, so more akin to a porter or light stout than the usual pumpkin spiced lagers you’ll find. Still the darkness does it well, and the spice is well balanced. This is my favorite of the three. Again, limited release, get it here.

On Horror, Fear and Being Afraid

I spent last Thursday in an animal hospital. The waiting room of which is surprisingly similar to a human emergency room, with triage meeting those coming in the door and people with lost expressions sitting, waiting. Waiting.

Too much waiting.

I was waiting. Waiting for the doctor to come out with the results of tests and imaging, to hear what she had to say about my puppy. He’s had a fever for two weeks at this point, and his regular vet is out of ideas.

I’d been waiting for a while when she comes out to see me. I’m 3/4 the way through my book, down to 20% on my phone, praying the litany against fear and have been doing my best to be stoic. When she sits, I pray it is something we can treat. Something we can literally throw money at to fix, because at this moment I will empty my bank account, I will throw card after card down if it will make him ok. I will say ‘yes’ to whatever Doc says needs to happen next to make him better.

Because I am afraid.

Really and truly afraid.

Horror is a genre of fear. Doug Winter famously said “Horror is not a genre, it is an emotion.”

H.P. Lovecraft talks about fear of the unknown being the greatest of fears. Stephen King talks about the three kinds of horror: gross out, horror and terror.

But in the end, they are all talking about the boogeyman. The monster under your bed. The noise in the darkness.

They are not talking about this fear I have now. It is too ordinary, too mundane, to be called horror. A story about a man waiting for the doctor to come out to give a prognosis on a dog would be rejected by horror magazines. Instead we would label it “drama” or “literary fiction,” perhaps “tragedy” depending on the outcome.

Because horror doesn’t want this fear, even though it is real. This is not what horror is trying to invoke. It is not fear of losing your job or home. It is not the fear of a car crash. It is not 10 days of insulin and 14 days until you get paid.

It is not the fear of a puppy with a fever and no answers.

Fear in horror assumes that these fears, these real fears, are things we all have, and so it demands something grander, larger. It can’t be a broken pipe in the basement that will force you to chose between repairs and groceries. It is the fear that the sound in the basement was something darker than that, a daemon, a monster, something that would invoke a fear greater than a real fear.

Because horror may be an emotion, but it is not just an emotion. How we arrive at that fear is just as much a part of what it means to be horror as the fear itself. The fear I felt, feel, about my dog is real. It is not the fear I try to invoke in horror. It is not the fear that horror tries to invoke in any of us. It is not the kind of fear that horror readers and viewers want. These fears, these events retold do not turn into horror stories.

This is not to say horror strays from the mundane. Horror is, more than almost any other genre, a contemporary genre, dealing with the here and now. Horror is for the most part about normal people with normal lives doing extraordinary things in the face of their fears.

Could you have a historical horror story with kings and queens? Politics and witches and ghosts? Sure. They are called *Hamlet* and *MacBeth.* But they are the exception.

So we fall into metaphor. Afraid of capitalism? you mean zombies! Fascists? Alien invasions! Economic uncertainties? Ghosts! and it works because of empathy. Horror relies on empathy, of relating to these characters, to their lives and struggles. It is these normal fears that link us to these extraordinary situations. Without it, without empathy, there is nothing to be afraid of.

When I got home with a bottle of pills, follow on appointments and a worn out corgi I sat on the couch with him next to me and watched a horror movie.

Because a giant shark can be seen. It can be fought. And in the end, no matter the resolution of the story, I can turn it off and banish the monster.

And that is what horror really gives us.