The View from Atherton Court, Part VII

Hello, and welcome to The View from Atherton Court, my weekly lockdown letter to anyone who happens to feel like reading it. Atherton Court is what we call our home, because we like to be grand. It is more of a small suburban dwelling in a fairly tightly-packed suburban neighborhood of extremely similar suburban dwellings. And it isn’t exactly a court, but we justify calling it that because we have a little patio between our home and our garage, so… I mean… kind of a courtyard, if you squint.

Anyway, as I was saying when I so rudely interrupted myself, welcome to The View from Atherton Court! Here are some things I have done, observed, or thought about this week:



Where is the best place to get exercise while remaining as far away as possible from our fellow human beings? This is a question that many of us have been asking ourselves in the past months. Alec and I have taken a look round at our neighborhood and realized that, for us, the best possible spot to be is the middle of our local stream. Anyway, now we take stream-walks in chest-waders. I’m not saying that we don’t look silly. I’m just saying that we do it.



Halloween (aka “The Best Holiday”) has apparently come to stay in our neighborhood. By which I mean that every other kid I see is dressed as a princess or Iron Man or something. And I mean I get it. With everyone going around masked anyway, why not bust out the Halloween costume and make the thing fun? There is already a bit of a Halloween feeling in the air. One of our neighbors, perhaps as a comment on this phenomenon, has even put out Halloween decorations. Unknown neighbor, I salute you.


Colored Bricks

Another neighbor of ours has started coloring in every brick on the exterior of his home. In chalk. He appears to have four colors of chalk, so he can (and does) totally color in every contiguous brick a different color (see 4-color map theory for more information on this topic). Last I checked, most of the bricks that are easily reachable from the ground have been filled in. Of course, what will happen when it rains is a real question.


Another Halloween Note

Recently, Alec ripped out many hedges that used to line the back of our yard. This is good. They were thorny and unfriendly, and we have replaced them with Arborvitae trees. Unfortunately, our Arborvitae trees are currently about a foot tall, and so we now have an uncomfortably intimate view of our neighbors’ back yards. Therefore, we are using some of the materials we generally use to build our Halloween yard haunt to erect a faux stone wall between us and our neighbors. This has the further effect of more fully enclosing our patio (see Atherton Court, discussed above). Huzzah!



We’ve seen some movies recently. I can hear you being unsurprised about this from here. Anyway, one of those movies was Robocop. I’d never seen it before. Now, I have. It was pretty good. Not as good as some movies I’ve seen, but better than others. I find that I have very little else to say about it, however.

There is a movie, though, that I am positively burning to tell you about.


Forbidden World (1982)

“Alec,” I said, wrinkling my brow with thought, my usually-placid voice throbbing with concern, “we’re watching too many good movies.”

Alec stared at me. Had I gone out of my mind? “Too many good movies,” he echoed.

“Yep. Too many good movies. If we go on like this, we soon simply will not be able to enjoy the mediocre ever again. The simple pleasures of a Roger Corman flick will be lost on us. They will begin to seem, to our increasingly sophisticated palettes, bland or even intolerable. So,” I said, staring blankly into the middle distance, “we’ve got to do it. We’ve got to watch a Corman flick tonight.”

“To re-set our standards?”

“To re-set, as you truly say, our standards.”

“How about a Corman take-out-box extravaganza?” He suggested, after a moment’s thought.

“You mean, Roger Corman… in space?”

“I do.”

And so our doom was sealed.


A note about the take-out-box thing. You know how, in movies, spaceship walls have lots of weird white geometric panels? Apparently, the Corman gang achieved this look by gluing take out boxes to the walls of their sets.

Anyway, as a result of the above conversation, we watched Forbidden World.

In Forbidden World, there is an intergalactic civilization, and a food crisis. Everyone is, we are told, starving. Our hero’s spaceship is attacked by food pirates at the beginning of the film. Our hero has his own spaceship, which he flies around in, accompanied only by a sassy robot who sounds like a twelve-year-old boy.

Anyway, after the hero (whose name I have forgotten) defeats the food pirates, the robot breaks it to him that he has a mission. He has to go help some scientists. The scientists work on a lab on a planet. They are supposed to be tinkering with genetics to help with the food problem, but they seem to have gotten a bit distracted, because all they are doing is making monsters. Now, a particularly monstrous monster has eaten all the other monsters and escaped.

What qualifications our hero has as a monster troubleshooter I do not know. Apparently, though, women cannot resist him. Most of the scientists get eaten, but our hero does manage to save one babe. And himself. And maybe the robot. No, wait. The robot is killed, if that even makes sense, in the end fight. Which is sad, because the robot is the best part of the movie. He complains at one point, “They switch you off when life is good then switch you on when they’re up to their noses in life’s bitter droppings!”

Which has got to be up there, robot-complaint-wise.


Atherton Signs Off

That’s it for this week, folks! What odd outdoor activity, if any, have you taken up lately? Have you noticed lots of Halloween costumes on kids in your neighborhoods? Have you seen any interesting movies lately? Do you enjoy bad movies, if they are the right kind of bad? What is the right kind of bad? Is that even a thing?

Right! Stay healthy, stay sane, and say hello in the Comments section!


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  1. Forbidden World must not be confused with Forbidden Planet, which was a rip-off of The Tempest, nor with Roger Corman’s rip-off of Forbidden Planet, which was called Galaxy of Terror. Although Forbidden World and Galaxy of Terror were both rip-offs of Alien as well.

  2. 1. Water-walking is fabulous exercise! If you wanted to appear less conspicuous, just carry fishing rods and no one will question you. On the other hand, why bother? I feel confident that people of your elegance and distinction make waders look good.

    2. I have certainly noticed a number of local princesses, but I can’t say I’ve seen so many superheroes, although there was a boy on a Captain America bicycle who may possibly have had superpowers that were not immediately evident.
    Nor have I busted out my own princess gown, although I did suggest that we could celebrate prom at home by dressing up. This idea was met with scorn. I was not surprised.
    I would like to say that the masks I’ve made were fun and costumey, but in fact they are tiresomely tasteful, being made, as they are, from my husband’s old work-in-an-office shirts. And he is most definitely not what you would call a flashy or edgy dresser in the office (or indeed, at any time). On the other hand, my daughter has decided to make a new sweatshirt by combining the sleeves and hood from one with the body of another. Does this count as costuming?

    3. We have not seen any movies recently, but have been watching two episodes of “Community” per night. The afore-mentioned daughter, however, has been watching cheesy Hallmark movies, which are her version of the right kind of bad. “Forbidden World” sounds like the kind of bad that my son would enjoy, and I shall recommend it to him forthwith.

    4. Hello to THE Alec himself, I presume, in the comments.

    • 1) Oh my, you are right about wading being good exercise. I feel positively chewed after we get home from a really long wade. And it is kind of you to posit that we could make waders look good, but I fear that this is not the case. Then again, perhaps there are fashion possibilities here that I just haven’t considered…

      2) You have to watch those Captain America bicyclists. Budding superhumans, the lot of them. And, I mean, you never know which way the cat will jump. Some may grow up to be villains.
      I am glad to hear that you own a princess gown. You never know when you’ll need it. My own closets are stuffed to incoherence on this same principle, however, so… anyway, yay princess gowns.

      I like the idea of celebrating prom by dressing up, but then, I like the idea of celebrating most things by dressing up.

      Alec and I were in horribly ugly masks until a friend of ours came to the rescue. Now, we have quite fetching ones. I mean, for face masks.

      3) Forbidden World is an interesting sort of bad. Not actually the best bad movie, nor even the best bad Corman movie, but it has its points. Um. There’s quite a lot of nudity in it, though, if I remember correctly. So… recommend with caution!

      4) It is indeed THE Alec!

  3. 2. I have both a princess gown and what I think of as a noblewoman gown: black velvet. (I’m really too old and not old enough for pink gauze and sparkles, and honestly that was never my thing. I just looked it up, and discovered that I am still 5 years younger than Billie Burke as Glinda. My princess gown is pale mint green satin.) But alas, I have not worn either of them in years!
    3. My son will be 18 in a month, so nudity is pretty much fair game now. But it was thoughtful of you to include the caution! And he may wish to be forewarned in any case, being a person of easily-embarrassed sensibilities.

    • Everyone should have these necessary garments! Though it is a real problem, this whole where-on-earth-can-I-wear-it question. I have many garments that I would just love an excuse to wear, but… how many formal balls am I likely to attend?

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