Chaos Attraction

A House Full Of Crickets (And No Toilet)

2018-12-30, 9:06 a.m.

So Mom was getting a bit feisty again. (She is somewhat recovered enough to get up and do things in house like cook or fix her lights, but doesn't want to go out and do anything else.) She can unfortunately tell that I’m not super thrilled at being kicked out of the house on the 31st so she and Roger can have their romantic date. I wasn’t planning on being back in town and there isn’t anyone I can go hang out with (I asked around) so that means essentially sitting at home alone listening to the toilet and getting in a rage again. I am not thrilled about this. So she kept poking and poking and not letting it go until she found out that I don’t want to go home a day early to deal with that shit again.

This morning (Saturday) she interrogated me about it. That was about as fun as I would have expected that to be. She pushed and started saying what I should do, blah blah blah, and I said in turn that I can’t afford to be the crazy nagging bitch, they don’t want to do shit, and I don’t want to be having this fight. Which of course we have now had off and on all day and night and as of last night she was insisting on driving up to my house Sunday just to see (no joke) if the toilet had magically fixed itself while I was gone. Yes, she is Optimistic! enough to think that it has magically stopped having problems. And if not, then go to the hardware store and "maybe someone there will come over to fix it." I'm pretty sure people at the hardware store don't do housecalls, but if I say that then she'll yell at me for not being optimistic/not giving people a chance/being a know-it-all, etc. etc.

What I want to say to her is, apparently there is nothing I can do that’s reasonable to get them to fix it if they don’t want to. Just like oh, trying to get her to get rid of anything in her house. I can beg and scream and plead and cry and offer to help and she won’t do it--so what good is my continuing to fight? She’d rather play solitaire on her phone incessantly or complain that I didn’t nag her enough (while she was sleeping) to go through her clothes. She genuinely wants to know why I’m mad at her all the time and the answer is the hoarding (that and never taking no for an answer and doing whatever the hell she wants even if it runs me over)--but what good does that do to say it? We can’t “talk that out.” She kept bitching at me enough last night to the point where I actually said this and...yeah, did no good. And she blames ME for not getting her clothes cleaned out. I pointed out that at this point her kitchen is way more of a problem because at least she doesn't trip over her clothes every day, but that did no good.

Also, someone posted my exact same question about this online already and said about what I figured: you can’t get this done.

Oh, and as of this morning (12/30), now her last functioning toilet is no longer working and "you have to use the Porta-Potty." JEEBUS H MOTHEREFFING CHRIST ON A FUCKING CRACKER ARE YOU SHITTING ME NO YOU ARE NOT SHITTING ME.

In other news I was reading this discussion of a dude who let a shit ton of crickets out in his house, which turned into some kind of literary discussion about what couples in fiction would let out crickets vs. wonder where the hell the crickets came from, and then there was this line: ”Colonel Brandon is contentedly resigned to a house full of crickets.” That is all of this in a nutshell, right here. Stuff in houses nobody who could fix, will fix, and everyone else just gotta put up with it.

I gave up on waiting around for Mom to feel better enough to go to Deacon Dave’s this year and went by myself tonight. There was pretty much no line--I don’t know if it’s because it was this late in the season (usually that wouldn’t make much difference) or because well, this year’s theme was not that exciting. It was “Away in a Manger,” his first purely religious one in 20 years, according to one of his helpers. So there was less of the funny gag stuff and more weird mannequins. I think the Mary and Joseph and Jesus area was fine, the angels at the end were fine, and the Magi on camels were pretty first rate. However, the giant ... Herod?...scene at the start (photos not online and my phone is refusing to download pics any more) seemed to have several mannequins missing arms and hands. One of them has no hand/arm and just one long stick that’s waving a palm frond. The king’s face is terrifying. There is one small mannequin that just has a look of “I am OVER this shit” on her face. Alas, my phone is refusing to download pictures so I can’t show any of this. And everyone in front of me was constantly selfie-ing themselves, good god, enough already.

The best part of it was the coin toss game, which had a “Deacon Dave’s Bethlehem Inn, No Vacancy” lit up sign on it and a small replica of the area. If you threw coins in the right spots, various angels would light up. I threw coins in the wishing pond, but I never get my wishes anyway.

After that, I went back to this one crazy house that has a snow machine that spouts soap suds for 30 seconds at a go and ran the machine twice. And then selfied-myself in fake snow because I gave in and did it like everyone else.

More Hallmark:

Christmas In Angel Falls:

I really like Rachel Boston. She is a top Hallmark actress and can really sell the cheerfulness of the season. Though I should point out that Mom, who is usually Little Miss Sunshine and Light, was feeling cranky again and was bitching that this girl was too cheerful.

Anyway, she is playing Gabby Messenger, who is an angel who gets in trouble for getting too emotionally involved with her matchmatching. Her boss (I think) is Michael Deangelo, who assigns her to be the guardian angel of an entire town, Angel Falls, which has lost its Christmas spirit. He figures she’ll have less issues with attachment if she does that. That’s what you think, because she immediately likes Jack the hot fire chief.

Anyway, Angel Falls has some legit problems: the plant closed down, so people had to move away or get jobs out of town elsewhere, so people don’t have the time/energy to volunteer at the church (Gabby gets a job at the church as the volunteer coordinator), and they had to hire a decorator to decorate one place*, and the kids’ Christmas pageant was canceled because the community center where it was held was shut down (by the fire chief) for being a safety hazard and the town didn’t have the money to pay for it.

* Which is another Hallmark movie in itself.

Suffice it to say that even God’s angels can’t do shit about a recession and crappy finances and getting the plant back so people can get jobs again* Even God can’t help you do that. But Gabby comes to the conclusion that at least they can get the community center up and running again, so in the end the fire chief and his friends just end up fixing up the joint. I’d love to know how and with what money and how did they manage to do that so quickly, but I guess that’s angel magic.

* This would have been another Hallmark movie in itself if the plant was just on the verge of shutting down instead of already dead and gone.

Gabby doesn’t want to leave Jack and her angel boss wants to pull her out of there (and wipe their memories of her too, geez)., but then she’s all “do angels have free will?”* and her boss is all “I guess...technically...” so she’s all, I choose to stay here as a human! And the boss is all “okay” and then Gabby is all, “hey, wait a minute, was I a matchmaking assignment?” Apparently so.

* A theoretical debate for the ages right there.

Christmas At Grand Valley:

Kelly (Danica McKellar) is from Grand Valley, Wyoming, but moved to Chicago because GV doesn’t have much in the way of artist opportunities. She has not had luck so far there and she’s lost out on getting a show at a prestigious gallery for the THIRD TIME, and she’s got painter’s block. So she goes home for the holidays and her cousin Mike* asks her to fill in running the Christmas kids’ camp at the lodge he works at. Mike just got promoted to manager, but he’s concerned about losing his job because the lodge is losing money. It’s owned by some giant corp and they’re sending in a money man to look it over and decide its fate.

* I’m kind of concerned that she and Mike do seem to have some sexual chemistry vibe going on and I was surprised that he wasn’t the intended love interest. Instead the movie wants to fix Mike up with Kelly’s friend Lucy, except they both appear to be as excited about each other as lukewarm milk. If you both lost interest when dating in high school, why bother now? Unless they’re the last two singles in town, which might be the case, and that’d be another movie.

That money man is Leo, a guy who went there as a kid and this year is bringing his kids, Max and Emma, who of course enjoy the heck out of Christmas camp and art class and Kelly’s dad’s Christmas pancakes. Leo and Kelly actually start dating before the end of the movie, which is different for Hallmark, and he wants to keep dating her when they both go back to Chicago. However, hanging out with the kids has gotten Kelly into painting again and she has decided to move back to Grand Valley and just teach art instead. Okay then, we’ll just be friends, Leo says. I want to grumble that Leo is kind of bland, but he is super polite and kind and not at all sexually pushy actually and when Kelly keeps making sad eyes at him about the lodge, he promises to save it, so that’s nice.

So Leo somehow can afford to buy the lodge from his giant company (how?!), but around that time Kelly posted some of her new paintings online and NOW that gallery is interested in giving her a show (to be fair, they seemed to foreshadow that she was “close but no cigar” about this earlier) and want her back in Chicago ASAP.

So Kelly is all, “oh, so now I have to move back to Chicago“ and I am all “you technically still haven’t even moved out of Chicago yet.” Meanwhile her friend Lucy is making That Face at her and she’s all, what? Lucy is all “Look, this dude buys a lodge to be near you and this town and his kids got you painting again and now you’re going to leave?” Yes, it’s kinda Gift of the Magi-ish again, isn’t it? So Kelly just resolves to fly back and forth to Chicago a lot instead. I hope she makes a lot of money to afford that. I love how Hallmark movies try to revolve around money and practicality and then just...wiffle it and go “Everyone can magically afford it!”

Small Town Christmas:

This seems kinda “two ships miss each other in the night”-ish.

Once upon a time, Nell and Emmett worked together and had some kind of promising romantic vibe going on. However, he bailed on their date and disappeared from his job, as far as she knows. It turns out his sister and her husband died in a car accident and he had to run back to his hometown of Springdale, Wisconsin to take custody of his young niece and run their family bookstore, “Paige Turner.” (Note: I guess it was literally named after the dead sister.) Emmett couldn’t get up the nerve to just call Nell and explain this, so he wrote it in a letter...several months later...which he mailed to their work...and then he wonders why he never heard anything back.

A few years later, Nell writes a book, “Small Town Christmas,” which she based off of Emmett’s tales of Springdale despite having never been there. When her agent or publisher or whatever finds this whole story out, she calls the bookstore in Springdale and sets up a book signing. Emmett is naturally rather surprised at all of this.

The book, by the way, is about a businesswoman who gets stranded in a small town and learns to love it and “may or may not find love” there. ANOTHER HALLMARK MOVIE.

Nell rents the last car available to drive to Springdale and then hears a panicked businessman begging for any way to get there. She offers the guy, Brad, a ride in. Brad is a finance guy who used to go there as a kid and he wants to invest in the town and turn it into a tourist destination and buy some buildings and all that jazz. Of course everyone kind of assumes Nell is with Brad because they arrived together and they continue to hang out. “Well, you sound like you have some options,” says her friend. Unfortunately, one of those options isn’t to go to friend’s for Christmas because they all got the flu. I HEAR YA GIRL.

For the record, Nell is all, “why didn’t he tell me sooner?!” Duh, yes. Nell decides NOT to enlighten Emmett that she literally just met Brad--well, to be fair, she tells him they just met but she doesn’t, at all, clarify their dating situation. You little minx, you. They all enter a gingerbread house making competition and Emmett and kid triumph and win an awesome gingerbread trophy.

Brad is going around hitting up everyone on the same store block to sell, and most of them are broke enough to want to do it. Emmett, however, is all “this store is in trust for my niece, who is eight, and she isn’t old enough to decide on her own so I don’t want to sell.” Unfortunately, one person refusing to sell means that everyone has to or nobody has to. Sigh. Even Nell doesn’t really want to date him any more, saying that she finds him “a bit misguided” and finally admits publicly at book club meeting that they aren’t dating. Brad’s finance people roll into town and are not impressed. I’m not entirely sure WHAT the hell happened businesswise, but everyone else rips up their contracts in front of Brad and he’s forced to beg his people for a ride to the airport.

Nell starts feeling like she doesn’t belong here and decides to take off to NYC, but her car hits a pothole. Emmett goes to find her and they finally clarify this missing letter--she of course left the job before the letter arrived. They agree to date, and kiss.

Overall, I like this couple, they’re cute/charming enough. Not sure what the hell was with Brad though.

Christmas Wonderland:

This is “Homegrown Christmas” with the same plot except with younger people, with a side of “Christmas in Grand Valley”’s art issues thrown in and “Time For Me To Come Home For Christmas’s travel issues also thrown in on the side.

Heidi is a young artist who feels like she has to work in the city for her art career, but all she does is help out this woman Julia, without Julia giving her any career boost. She is apparently the curator/event planner. Anyway, Heidi’s sister and her husband have to leave suddenly and need Heidi to watch the kids in their hometown of Pleasant Valley for 2 days. Naturally the parents end up unable to just fly home and end up driving home, taking longer than they thought and pissing Julia off because Heidi can’t be there to do the scut work. “But you saaaaaid two days!” Uh, you think it’s a great idea to leave an 8-year-old and 15-year-old home alone, especially when the 15-year-old is dying to throw a party?

Heidi is forced to do her sister’s PTA volunteering duties with her high school ex, who is now a teacher/hockey coach since he hurt his knee and lost his professional hockey dreams. They split up basically because their lives were going in different directions and now are forced to put on the Snow Ball, which they were once king and queen of. They have to find a new location and decorations and rent a barn, which Heidi does a cool mural of dances through the ages on. She hadn’t painted for a while but got inspiration in her hometown. I guess the moral of this story is to keep doing your art, even if it doesn’t pay off and your career and dreams go to hell? The teacher guy found a new dream and she’s all, maybe I should too, and he’s all maybe just get reacquainted with her old one.

Meanwhile, the parents are just trying to get home to their 8-year-old daughter...and other son.

Notable moments:
* Heidi can’t bake for shit because she is totally winging it with no directions.
* Instead of a snowball fight, there is a GLITTER fight. I appreciate their ingenuity, and also a guy saying that the worst thing would be if someone points out he has glitter on him 4 months from now. This, of course, sets it off. This is followed by a conversation between Heidi and her nephew:
“You look like a unicorn sneezed on you.” “Thank you.”
“You don’t want to be seen with your glitter-covered aunt?”

THEN Julia figures out how to get Heidi back (er, also Heidi’s parents show up to babysit) by finally bribing her by claiming she’ll help her out. But now all she wants to do is go to a high school dance with Chris Shepard again! Heidi dutifully goes back to the big city, waits around for Julia to talk her up instead of others, realizes that this will never happen, and tells Julia she quits and she felt like she had to live in the big city, but now she just wants to go back home to the dance. Julia is all “but I was going to talk YOU up next!” and “what dance?”

Heidi and Chris become Snow Queen and King all over again,

This was okay, definitely better than Homegrown Christmas anyway and made more sense with the ages than going “have these two been pining for decades?” Exact same artistic angst though as the other movie.

Once Upon A Christmas Miracle:

This one was inspired by true events. The girl IRL is much cuter, but the guy...well, eeeek, what the hell is he doing with his face in this picture? My mom was all “maybe that’s just his face,” but god, I hope not. I know sometimes we don’t get blessed with looks, but you don’t have to look like you’re gonna bite the camera either. That was probably a choice.

Anyway, I must quote from this review:

”Aimee Teegarden is diagnosed with stage four liver disease in the first ten minutes of the film. She finds an organ donor by minute thirty. The rest of the time everyone’s basically making wreaths. It’s amazingly boring for a movie about stage four liver disease.

In fact, if I didn’t keep tying stage four liver disease in italics, I would forget that this movie was about stage four liver disease whatsoever. Aimee Teegarden’s symptoms are basically non-existent. She’s not jaundiced. She’s not fatigued. She’s eating milk and cookies like any normal person. She walks around and can seemingly do everything a person who wasn’t suffering from stage four liver disease can do. After she gets an organ transplant, she’s out of the hospital in less than a week and going to fancy dress parties in high heels soon after.”

SHYEAH, GOOD POINT. Aimee Teegarden looks very thin and kinda tired at times, but otherwise her activities appear to be unimpeded in general and she is still doing all of her Christmas activities (all of this liver donation stuff happens ASAP and easily). Also, the movie seems to be implying that her liver donor might be a bit ill afterwards and then doesn’t follow up on that, which was weird. As for Brett Dalton, the male lead, I am used to seeing him as a bad guy on Agents of SHIELD and watching him be nice and not-creepy-evil was quite strange.

Anyway, Aimee plays Heather, a nursing student on scholarship who hasn’t been feeling well and is diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that has been attacking her liver and she’s at Stage 4, Needs A Liver Donation NOW. Heather is very uncomfortable about asking for help with anything, but what choice does she have here? Everyone figures her odds are better if she asks for voluntarily live donation and the town and Internet are plastered with fliers that everyone forwards on, but who’s actually volunteering? Well, one guy named Chris, who’s in town for the first time in years in between leaving the country again.

Heather and Chris first met in a bar when both of them were having bad dates. His is on her phone all day and hers isn’t into Christmas--she tells him “I don’t think you can overdo Christmas.” God love him, Chris/Brett Dalton is not a guy who can really deliver jokes successfully. While they both wait at the bar for eggnog, he tries to make a joke about her sweater.

“It looks like some of the decor fell on you.” he says.
“Yeah, sweater, snowflakes, good joke.”
“It was a terrible joke.”
“Yes, it was.”

Heather’s family is into ugly sweaters in a way that most of Hallmark hasn’t quite been into, which seems like a huge omission on Hallmark’s part.* Someone is throwing an ugly sweater party and her mom tells her to just pick something out of her dad’s closet.

* I think they need to do “An Ugly Sweater Christmas,” in which some poor handsome executive has to hire me, an ugly Christmas sweater designer, to design a hideous sweater for him so he can win the ugly sweater contest at work and prove he has holiday spirit to his boss. My mom asked if I was going to pass this idea on to Hallmark, but I don’t do screenwriting, they’d never hire me, and I’m sure they’ll think of the idea themselves one of these years.

Chris’s mom’s reaction to him getting tested is, “It’s pulling teeth to get you on a date, and now THIS?”

Chris wants to meet Heather, and when they meet in person they recognize each other from the bar and she’s all, “It looks like some decor fell on you...?” They agree that you can’t overdo Christmas, compare their bad dates, and forget what they were here for for a minute. Chris somehow got his results before she did, so he knows and they hug and he has no questions. We find out that Chris is a rolling-stone kinda personality and guess what, will probably leave town again soon.

Everyone attends the Kruger Family Christmas Cooking Exchange, which is hard to say. Chris fits right in with the family. Actual line Brett Dalton has to deliver: “Tell me about these famous Christmas wreaths of yours.”

They get their surgeries done, she visits him, they make bad jokes and are obsessed with cookies. But after they go home, both of them are too shy to ask each other out and don’t want to make the other one feel obligated* and all that jazz. Heather attends the ugly sweater party but can’t get up the nerve to ask him to come. They do talk later and she tells him that she had to drop out of nursing school and therefore lost her scholarship and she’ll have to pay off all the hospital bills anyway, so Chris gets the idea to throw a Christmas Eve fundraiser for her. Of course he gets that overseas job, which he doesn’t end up going to, of course.

* At one point Heather is told, when she complains that there’s no way she can repay Chris, that “the greatest gift you can give anyone, sweetie, is love.” I normally would think that’s kind of sweet, but that probably really ties in to her sense of obligation here?

A year later, Chris proposes, and the movie shows us a shot of the original Heather and Chris’s wedding day.

I dunno, this actually wasn’t too bad...other than the total lack of realism, and the general weirdness I get from watching Brett Dalton do nice now.

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