American Horror Stories (‘Rosemary’ Turns 50)

Rosemary’s Baby turns 50 today, and I’ve been thinking a ton about this film and about the genre of horror overall. For a few decades, dystopias were the alarm clock we all needed, but because the dystopia is now and no satire could possibly outstrip the grotesque burlesque that has capsized the highest chambers of the land, horror is the perfect lens for examining the greatest biases and ugliest fears prevailing in our dying (dead?) republic. That’s why Get Out blew everything else in 2017 out of the water, and that’s why films like The Exorcist and, yes, Rosemary’s Baby haunt us still. The former was about an America possessed–why else do you think it took place within spitting distance of Nixon’s White house?–and the latter was about the way that women are gaslit about everything including their own intellectual and reproductive powers. It’s also why I’m so flatly unimpressed by the emptyheaded Hereditary, the Toni Collette everything-and-the-kitchen-sink horror film that has everyone’s tongue a-flapping this month.

Admittedly Collette, who often overcompensates for weak material, turns in a fascinating calibrated performance that is a career peak. But this is the psychologically scariest film I’ve ever seen that has no thesis, no greater point it’s driving home, no true coherence, nor character development. As a witch and magic practitioner, I was painfully aware that writer/director Ali Aster steered into a bevy of supernatural topics he didn’t adequately research or articulate. Has no one learned from the myriad deaths and tragic accidents associated with Spielberg’s clayfooted Poltergeist?

Really, Hereditary is a fantastically executed failure that I don’t regret seeing but never need to see again. If you’re going to scare the bejesus out of us these days, there’s plenty of real American Horror Story to draw upon. Director Roman Polanski, for all his insanity about women and sexuality, nailed the putrid plight of the twentieth century woman, and, let’s face it, 21st century women too. Besides its unparalleled aesthetics–young Farrow alone!–that liberationist rage is why I clamor to the film again and again.

Here’s the related essay I wrote for the film’s less austere 47th anniversary.

Oshun’s Sadly Swoon

By the time the delivery guy brought me the wrong order yesterday, I was once again done with the human race and the complicated triggers and traumas we bring to every interaction, all of us butting up against each other like bullies in a sandbox, crying big tears when no one’s looking but fists balled just the same.

The irony of the delivery guy kerfuffle was that on Sunday I’d given an impassioned lecture about Jim McKay’s excellent En El Séptimo Dia, a neo-realist look at the challenges of being an undocumented immigrant working as a delivery person in Brooklyn, where white hipsters with leftist politics treat them like shit. And here I was grappling with the dilemma of how to get my food without causing this delivery person trouble. Especially since, judging from the slip he was wielding, the wrong order was not his fault but his boss’s.

I sorted it out with no permanent harm inflicted on anyone, I think, though not quickly enough to avoid the low blood sugar blues. By the time I finished eating I felt sorry I’d ever relied on other people for anything, even supper.

For the last six weeks I’d been trying to smooth my edges so someone could come close and by yesterday just felt gobsmacked–run over, if you must know. Continue Reading →

Asked and Answered: Ruby Intuition Questions

As I’ve transitioned from Muppet critic to Muppet psychic, even normally skeptical friends and colleagues have been supportive and open-minded. But it’s come to my attention that people fear asking about this work lest they seem disrespectful or silly. Below I’ve tackled the most commonly asked questions with the gentle request that you send on more if they occur to you.

Is it scary?
I’m a big believer in coffee with cream. By this I mean I never lie to my clients but also ensure that the delivery of information is loving and even amusing. Do I see illness, death, betrayal? Sometimes, because that’s part of being alive, but you can rest assured that I only share what you need to know at the time of our session. I do not endorse massages so rough that they tense muscles that need to be relaxed, nor do I endorse truth bombs that make us dread our future. We’re supposed to enjoy this business of being alive!

Will I find out when I’m going to die?
Nope, for reasons described above.

Do I have to believe in God or some higher power for this to work?
I firmly believe we’re all part of a “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” energy–whether you call it God or the universe or Yahweh or Allah or the divine feminine. I also believe this godforce is the source of my intuition and the many patterns in nature and our human-made experiences. But you don’t have to believe that. You just have to show up with an open mind. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy