"Cabin Fever" is not just one of the worst movies ever made. It's a real affliction from which many of us Western New Yorkers suffer when these awful winter days begin to blend together in a haze of gray snow and infinite boredom. Energy levels are so low that crawling from the couch to the refrigerator becomes too daunting a task to undertake, never mind actually leaving the house to brave the elements. There's not much to do, no one feels like doing much of anything anyway and January and February seem never-ending.
What is the cure for cabin fever? One of the best, and most concise, suggestions I received, from Lisa of Dunkirk: "Learn to love snow, then play in said snow. Or go out drinking."
Going out does require some motivation but if you can muster the requisite sprightliness, it just may help to prevent you from decaying in your Lazy Boy.
This bear must be a Western New Yorker, because he appears to be suffering from a classic case of cabin fever.
Unfortunately, good old lake effect snow which we're supposed to be getting plenty of today can render travel virtually impossible (or at least improbable). Throughout the column, there are suggestions for combating the dreaded cabin fever.
Here's a handful to get you started: Make a snowman; go sledding; start a blog; go people-watching (try a dive bar or Wal-Mart); paint; go ice skating; take a hike; cross country ski; make homemade soup.
Make real hot chocolate - it's easy and way better than the powdery water of instant mixes. Also, you don't need to leave home or spend a fortune at a restaurant.
For two to four mugs, heat half a cup milk (the fattier, the better. You can even use cream or half and half) in a saucepan or microwave. Combine half a cup chocolate chips with the hot milk keep stirring, it WILL combine! Then add half a cup more milk to the mix, stir until hot.
Variations I have discovered from various Food Network and Travel Channel shows, and articles (some may seem unorthodox):
Mexican style: dash chili powder (it's actually good!)
Spanish style: add a dash of cinnamon
Russian style: add vanilla vodka to taste
Mocha: add a little coffee or a spoon of instant coffee
You can also sub white chocolate chips for the regular ones for hot white chocolate.
"The Lovely Bones"
Alice Sebold's marvelous, unusual novel "The Lovely Bones" is engrossing, moving and thought-provoking. The recently-released film version is akin to a pretty good designer knockoff - it's adequate but nowhere as good as the original.
I've often heard the word "uneven," and have used it myself a few times, to describe a movie's tone but "The Lovely Bones" truly encompasses the term. It shifts uneasily from acid-trippy sequences to horrifying, suspenseful scenes to tender, tear-jerking moments and back again. The story revolves around Susie Salmon (played by the phenomenal Saoirse Ronan, Briony in "Atonement," who should have a long career ahead of her if she doesn't Lohan it up), a young girl who is murdered and watches the family and friends she left behind from a sort of in-between space in the afterlife. Her brutal murder occurs right at the beginning of the book but the movie handles it quite differently, much more delicately - I doubt it would have a PG-13 rating otherwise. The performances are all outstanding, especially Stanley Tucci as the creepiest creep to ever lurk near a playground.
A lot of Sebold's story is lost in translation. The afterlife scenes in particular seem too cartoonish and certainly can be better created in a reader's imagination. The movie isn't so bad that fans of the book will be offended by it, however, if trying to decide between which to do first, the written version is the best place to start. Get thee to a library. Then, and only then, should you go to the theater to marvel at how far Mark "Marky Mark" Wahlberg has come since his days with The Funky Bunch.
The final season of "Lost" starts Feb. 2. at 9 p.m. on ABC. Fans won't be able to shut up about it; the rest of us are already sick of hearing about it.
The season finale of the second season of "Tough Love" (which I secretly adore) is on VH1 Sunday at 9 p.m. For those who are unfamiliar with the show, it's about a male matchmaker helping women find love who have been looking for it in all the wrong places. Some of his advice is questionable at best but it's fun to watch nonetheless.
Your New Guilty Pleasure
"Kell On Earth," premiering Monday, Feb. 1, 10 p.m. on Bravo
Yes, it's another reality show, but it's also about PR executive Kelly Cutrone, part businesswoman and part Tyrannosaurus Rex, as she takes on Fashion Week in London and New York, and leaps buildings and hundreds of models in a single bound. If any of my readers are familiar with "The Hills" (prior to the last season) or "The City," you're familiar with Cutrone. To say that she keeps it real is a grave understatement. She eats starry-eyed ingenues for breakfast and flosses her teeth with their hopes and dreams. I have long held the belief that "The City" should be edited down to the parts wherein Cutrone brings (or nearly brings) someone to tears. Thank you, Bravo!
41 West has karaoke on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting at 9 p.m. and has plans in the works for a big Super Bowl party next weekend with music by Tara Graves to follow.
Wishberry in Fredonia will host an art opening for Justina O'Brocta and Carrie Buezenburg from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, with music and fabulousness.
Local blues extraordinaire Tiny B will play the Labyrinth Press Co. in Jamestown at 8 p.m. on Friday. If you've managed to brave Route 60, be sure to also stop at The Empty Pint, the newly remodeled bar at Southern Tier Brewery that just reopened last weekend. It looks fantastic and, of course, the beer is superb. Hours are Thursday and Friday, 4 to 10 p.m., and Saturday, 2 to 10 p.m.
Here are two ways to take advantage of the snow. Evergreen Outfitters will hold a snowshoe hike on Saturday, Jan. 30, on the Westside Overland Trail outside of Panama. It starts at 10:15 a.m. and will last all day, covering six miles, so perhaps this isn't for those who have grown spongy and complacent since the snow began to fall. If you think you can handle it, call 763-2266 to reserve your space or for more information. A second suggestion is the Sleigh Parade, to be held at Chautauqua Institution on Sunday, Jan. 31 at 1 p.m., with good, old-fashioned sleigh rides.
For my senior readers, remember there is something happening daily at the Fredonia-Pomfret Senior Center, with activities, classes, exercise equipment, a lending library and much more. Call 672-2891 to learn more.
April Diodato is the OBSERVER Lifestyles editor. Give her the dish on what's happening at firstname.lastname@example.org