Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, December 14, 2019

MVNews this week:  Page 4


Mountain Views-News Saturday, December 14, 2019 

KATIE Tse....This and That


 by Deanne Davis


 You don’t know how 
guilty I feel recycling 
articles two weeks in a 
row. Such blatant failure 
to live up to my 2019 New 
Years resolution of not 
doing that. But I’m only 

 I considered recycling 
the one I wrote about re-
gifting etiquette, but then 
you’d expect something 
like that around 
Christmas. So why not read about a great sci fi cinematic gem from 1977 starring Joan Collins 
versus giant, mutant ants! 

 “Empire of the Ants” begins with anonymous “government agents” dumping barrels of radioactive 
waste, conveniently labeled “Radioactive Waste: Danger! Hazardous! [Skull & Crossbones]” into 
the ocean. They wash ashore and ooze mercury-colored liquid that’s quickly consumed by the 
resident ants.

 Cut to Joan Collins as a crooked realtor trying to sell worthless property in the Florida everglades 
under the premise that the adjacent land will soon be developed as a resort town. The majority of 
her potential buyer-victims are equally shady. 

 We get snapshots of their character flaws during the boat ride and bus tour around the properties. 
One philandering man abandons his wife to hit on another female passenger. A women broke up 
with the man who was cheating on his wife with her, and now she’s using his hush money to buy real 
estate. An older couple shamelessly admit to having no intention whatsoever of buying anything, 
and are just here for the free food and boat ride. Lovely.

 What’s most striking during all of this is the gratuitous sexual references and overly raunchy 
language. “This is 1977!” I thought. My parents got married that year! People back then weren’t 
the crude animals they are today. Or at least the movies weren’t as crass, or so I thought. But after 
about 15 minutes the language improved and the innuendo stopped. I guess the director figured he 
had the audience hooked by then.

 So while the humans are busy trying to rip each other off and commit other nefarious acts, the 
ants, now grown to gargantuan size after their radioactive cocktail, have been tirelessly working 
away at the everglades, creating barriers among the forests, and dams in the river. 

 Eventually the humans happen upon the ants, and start getting picked off, one or two at a time. 
Like all great cheesy sci-fi horror flicks, the victim either trips and unexplainably can’t get up, or 
gets cornered somewhere while their oversized, slow-moving predator runs them at a snail’s pace 
--amid much screaming. 

 Predictably, their group gets split up, making self defense all the more difficult. While they’re 
separated, the creep who tried to pick up the girl lets his wife get eaten. When he rejoins the group 
he launches into a rant about how the others are blaming him for the death of his wife, whom he 
claims he tried to save. Next time their boat is attacked by ants, they go for him. The ants know 
which ones are jerks.

 Meanwhile, the old couple hide in an abandoned shack. They think they’ve waited out the danger, 
only to open the door and discover that they’re surrounded. Of all the bad acting in this movie I 
think this scene takes the cake! The couple stand next to each other (“clutch” is too strong a word) 
and lethargically scan from side to side at the oversized ants with unfocused stares, their expressions 
something between dazed confusion and heart burn. Needless to say, the ants make quick work 
out of them.

 The little band of survivors reach civilization, only to realize that something’s “off” about the 
locals’ behavior. They get captured and taken to an ominous-looking sugar processing plant. 
There, they’re forced into a queue with other zombie-like individuals, helplessly 
making their way toward an air tight chamber housing the queen ant, who emits a 
cloud of pheromones to each victim in turn. 

 The pheromones alter one’s state of mind, causing them to bend their will to serve the ants, 
namely, supplying them with an endless amount of sugar from the factory. Joan Collins is the first 
to go, but even her fellow prisoners don’t care. No one liked her anyway.

 Meanwhile, the hero (if you can call him that) breaks free, starts dousing the place with gasoline, 
then sets it ablaze. He rescues the others and they sail away on a dingy through the winding rivers 
of the everglades. Dampening their victory is the nagging suspicion that the next town, and perhaps 
the whole country is under the sway of the Empire of the Ants.

 Great stuff! You’ve gotta’ check it out, if only to laugh at some bad acting, bad special effects, and 
bad fashion from the 70’s. And while you’re at it, check out my novel, “A Year at Apex!” Humor, 
romance, and the human condition rolled into a bite sized package. Look for it in paperback and 
ebook on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

This week, before I start remembering Christmases past, I want to talk about another dear 
friend who has left us. Kevin Switzer succumbed to a heart in Alabama this past week. 
As you all know, Kevin and his dad, Bud, started the Halloween extravaganza on Alegria 
many years ago by carving pumpkins by the hundred and lining their driveway and yard 
with them. Kevin was one of our son, John’s, friends, and he was frequently at our house 
when they were both little boys, in fact, I vividly remember them running through the 
house and slamming a door on baby Crissy’s fingers, trying to get away from the little pest 
who wanted to play with them. The Switzer pumpkins haven’t happened for quite a few 
years now, but the party they started goes on. We hold Bud and the rest of the family in 
our thoughts and prayers. 

“That First Noel’s come ‘round again,

Just like it does each year,

To tell us it’s Christmas, finally it’s Christmas, 

Joyfully it’s Christmas, 

The best time of the year, the best time of the year...”

This particular song goes on 
to tell us that the tree is in 
the window, the wreath is on 
the door, and about a million 
ornaments are scattered on 
the floor! Most probably 
you’re way past that stage, 
the tree is up and gorgeous. 
You finally untangled the 
lights and put the angel up on 
top. But here’s the question 
you’ll be facing in a few days 
when the presents are all 
unwrapped and everything 
you got everybody was 
exactly what they wanted: 
Why is it that putting up 
Christmas decorations is 
so much more fun than 
taking them down? Also, 
why is it that the Christmas 
decorations that seem so few 
and so light as you take them 
out of the plastic crates have 
doubled (like wire hangers) 
in size and tripled in weight 
and you can’t remember 
when on earth you carried all 
those to the living room.

Playing Christmas music and 
rediscovering each cute little 
Christmas item is such fun 
and then deciding where to 
put each one is a pleasure. 
I’m especially partial to all 
my little lighted houses. My 
mother started collecting 
them many years ago and 
gave her collection to me. I have added to it over the years and now think I have about 
twenty of them. They look fantastic on top of the bookcases, and the tall cabinet. The most 
interesting part of putting these things up is, of course, not falling off the small ladder. The 
second most interesting thing is figuring out how to get them all plugged in somewhere. 
The ones on top of the bookcase in my office even turn on and off with the wall switch, 
which is fabulous.

Every Christmas I am reminded of Santa’s Band, which was John’s favorite Christmas 
decoration. Many years ago he went to Costco and came home with his eyes alight and 
excitement spilling out of his every word as he described this wonderful band of little 
musicians attached to bells and electrically driven so every time you turned it on, it played 
a Christmas carol. They had quite a repertoire and the band was led, of course, by Santa. 
John went to Costco several times and came home each time with more stories of the 
glories of Santa’s Band. I finally took his hand, looked deep into his eyes and said, “You 
know, honey, you can buy Santa’s Band yourself, with your own money!” He had never 
thought of that. Back he went and Santa’s Band decorated the top of one of our bookcases 
every year from then on. Yes, it got up there after I spent an hour untangling all the wires, 
bells and little people, but he loved it. Apparently, all the children loved it, too, and there 
was lively discussion over who should have Santa’s Band. Our daughter, Patti, ended up 
with it and I was happy to hand it over and let her untangle all those wires and bells.

We all have special nostalgic goodies that fill our hearts with memories and happy thoughts. 
Pictures of our children taken in Sunday School, our grandchildren’s little hands and feet 
on ceramic tiles, tiny felt Christmas stockings with everyone’s name on them in glued on 
glitter. I even have some little glass ornaments which were my Aunt Helen’s, dating from 
the 1930s.

When we were first married, we rented a lovely house with a high beamed ceiling up on 
Canon Drive, right behind where Christian author, Fay Angus, lived, and when our first 
Christmas together arrived, I was about hysterical with excitement. We went down to the 
railroad yards where trains were coming in from wherever they loaded on those trees, I 
have a feeling it was the Pacific Northwest. Railroad workers pitched them off the cars and 
anyone who was standing there could pick out whatever tied-up tree they wanted. I don’t 
remember it costing very much. We selected an enormous Noble fir and tied it to the top 
of our little blue Ford Falcon. Got it home and it had to have been ten feet tall or taller and 
was the most gorgeous thing we’d ever seen. We had just a few things to put on it, but it 
was our tree and our home and our children opened presents under it and I will remember 
always what a wonderful time that was. 

My Christmas tree now is an artificial one from Michael’s, prelit, which is another genius 
idea. Not having to put lights on the tree makes my Christmas way merrier. It looks great 
and the picture is this tree.

The song up at the beginning goes on to say:

 “But that’s not the reason we celebrate the season...

Oh, it’s that baby in the manger,

Christ child in the manger,

Mary kneeling by his side,

Joseph beaming down with pride.

Peace on earth, good will to men,

We celebrate that night again.”

(Deanne Davis/David Wheatley)

I’m hoping all your Christmas memories are merry and bright! To quote Tiny Tim from Dickens’ 
A Christmas Carol, “God Bless us every one!”

My book page: Deanne Davis


Christmas is just a few short weeks away and my book:

“Sunrises and Sunflowers Speak Hope” 

Would be a really nice gift for everyone you know.

You can find it on

“Star of Wonder” a delightful Christmas Kindle story is there, too.

If you’d like a little preview, take a look at:

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