The Creepiness of Summer

I’ll state it from the outset —  summer is my favorite season, hands-down. Even despite the oppressive heat we experience in south Louisiana, there’s something about the freedom and abundance of the season that makes it number one in my book. Lush greenery, late sunsets, blooming crape myrtles, warm breezes off the beach; these are all things I look forward to, year after year. And there’s nothing inherently creepy about any of it.

So perhaps it’s because I’m watching season three of Stranger Things, which is set around the 4th of July, 1985, that I’m thinking about the flip-side of summer. Or the “Upside Down” of summer, if you prefer. Some creepy things about summer that have occurred to me:

  • Heat stroke seems much more gruesome that hypothermia. Thinking about my internal organs cooking inside of me just sounds excruciating.
  • Necrotizing fasciitis. Caused by flesh-eating bacteria. These bacteria apparently love warm water.
  • Flying, giant, cockroaches.
  • Sad clown balloons behind chain-link fences. (In all fairness, this particular piece of graffiti in New Orleans City Park has probably been there for a few seasons. But I noticed it for the first time as I was mulling over this “creepy summer” idea, and it felt like a perfect visual).
  • Grasshoppers contemplating abandoned cigarettes. (See note above. Except that I don’t think the cigarettes or the insect will be there very long).

Maybe this stuff feels extra creepy to me because of the contrast to all the things that I love. But I certainly appreciate the duality of it all. Bottom line: I don’t resent the creepiness; in a way, it makes me embrace summer even more.

 

Jones vs. Mews

Jones v. Mews—kinda sounds like a legal dispute, doesn’t it?

Nope, in keeping with the tone of this blog, it’s a movie / pop culture reference. I caught up on Stranger Things over the long Thanksgiving weekend here in the U.S.

I loved Season 1 when I watched it last year. Several months after everyone else did. So, I began streaming Stranger Things 2 this past Saturday. Several weeks behind everyone else. Again.

And, because everyone’s already seen it, I think I can keep this post spoiler-free. Heck, I still have 3 episodes to go, so there’s only so much I can spoil.

What’s jumped out at me are all the Aliens references in Stranger Things 2. Paul Reiser’s role is the most obvious. Since they all seem so apparent, I wanted to make sure I didn’t plagiarize anyone, or re-write what some other fan may have already written.

The top result from a quick Google search was a Vulture article by Brian Tallerico, “All the Ways Stranger Things 2 Is Like James Cameron’s Aliens.” NOTE: the Vulture article contains spoilers. Which, actually, I didn’t mind. But I might be one of the few people on the planet who actively seeks out spoilers. I hate surprises.

Anyway, sure enough, the very first thing the article points out is the comparison between Paul Reiser’s portrayal of Dr. Owens in Stranger Things 2, and Burke in Aliens. (After all these years, I still love to hate Burke. What a great weaselly villain.) The article also scooped me on the following:

  • The visual similarity of the worlds inhabited by the Demodogs in Stranger Things 2, and the aliens in Aliens. Though I would have gone a little further to point out the tunnels in the Upside Down and the sub-floor on LV-426…
  • The use of radar. It’s a brilliant device for tension-building. Observers see little blips on a screen (the aliens / Demodogs) descend upon their teams, while they watch in horror.
  • Flamethrowers are the chief weapon used against the monsters in each story.

But here’s something that wasn’t in Tallerico’s Vulture article: the cats. Jones from the Alien movies, and Mews from Stranger Things 2. My apologies to anyone who’s already drawn this comparison, but I didn’t see anything in a quick perusal of the Google results. Though I didn’t scan too far down. It’s a little surprising, since cats consistently win the Internet.

In the Alien universe, Jones, or Jonesy, is an orange tabby cat. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) looks after him. The Alien vs. Predator wiki calls Jones a “ginger American Shorthair,” but where I come from, cats of his ilk are known as orange tabbies. Or more specific to my family, orange marmalade cats.

Here’s a fun fact: I grew up with the random knowledge that calico cats are always female. But just recently learned that orange tabbies are predominantly male, roughly 80% so.

Mews from Stranger Things is also an orange (marmalade) tabby. But is apparently in the 20% minority, because the Stranger Things wiki refers to Mews as a “she.”  Mews belongs to Dustin Henderson’s family; and, as such, appears to have a more pampered house-cat existence than Jonesy.

While Jones and Mews meet different fates, they are two cats who look similar, who have roughly the same presence in each dramatic milieu.

In a match-up, I’d pick Jonesy any day, but I won’t elucidate why, because that might be a spoiler.

So, there.