, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My 15-year-old daughter, Madeline, isn’t all that interested in watching horror films, which is why it took me more than a year of steady pestering to get her to watch one of my favorites from childhood—John Carpenter’s 1982 version of “The Thing.” After I edited out the swearing, we finally sat down together to watch it while on vacation in Florida.

And she loved it.

I knew she would. In fact, no sooner than the credits began rolling did she ask about the prequel made in 2011, which we ended up watching the very next evening.

There just aren’t enough illuminating adjectives in the English language to describe Madeline’s gentle loveliness both as a person and in relation to others. And yet, she has a darkly creative side that most folks aren’t privileged to enjoy. This creativity is betrayed by her sense of humor as well as her gifts as an artist.

Let me be clear. Calling her an artist isn’t an expression of the typical parental bias which gives room for every kid to be considered a budding virtuoso. What I mean is that while your kid may have made a pretty interesting paper mache duck at school, I fully expect one day to discover Madeline’s oil paintings hanging in the Hermitage. She’s good. And every day she gets better. Admittedly, however, when her work does eventually end up in a museum, the curator won’t hang her pieces beside the Caravaggios and da Vincis. She’ll get a wing all to herself. This is true not because hers are lesser in precision, but because she has a unique style. As you observe her serene landscapes, you’ll undoubtedly discover ominous impositions she lets hover in the shadows—a red-eyed phantom watching from the darkness, or the bony appendage of a creature reaching up from the tranquility of a lake toward an unsuspecting fisherman.

She adds a bit of “creepy” somewhere.

Perhaps to better visualize this, if Madeline had been the creator of Rembrandt’s “A Young Woman at an Open Half-Door,” the portrait wouldn’t be so expressively neutral. Instead, it’s likely Madeline would’ve sketched cues into the image to help the viewer know the girl is more than posing. She’s actually investigating a lumbering thump against the door that will quite possibly lead to her demise.

Her portraits always have an unsettling edge. It’s her style. And I like it. It’s the kind of stuff I used to sketch when I wasn’t writing creepy stories or watching scary movies, and it’s why I tried so hard to convince Madeline to give “The Thing” a go. A good scary movie can jostle free a seed of inspiration.

My guess is that if Madeline isn’t eventually found laboring as a graphic design artist for a marketing firm, she’ll probably get a job doing concept art for movies. Or better yet, maybe she’ll be able to apply her creativity to the efforts of a distillery, and not necessarily as a packaging artist, but as one of the minds behind the actual products. Her ability to visualize unseen edges, making things a little more interesting, would be a valuable asset in this regard. In fact, I’d recommend Bruichladdich taking a chance on her, especially when it comes to furthering the Octomore series. Every single one of the Octomore editions is phenomenally wonderful, all bearing a unique edge that puts them in their own wing of the whisky museum.

Take for example the Octomore 10.3.

I received this particular edition as a gift from my friend Alden, and it’s nothing short of a thrill ride of unanticipated delights.

The nose of the 10.3 describes a pleasant coastal landscape with the softer hues of fruit warmed by a sun beaming through minimal smoke. Give the glass a swirl and the fruit rides a fuller plume up and into the open air, revealing itself as vanilla-soaked pineapple.

Like the guts of a great thriller, the first sip brings tension, washing ashore as a briny grapefruit that’s more sour than sweet. But as you’re carried along by the story, the twist arrives as a creamy tide of ash-sprinkled bananas and carmeled raisins producing an audible, “Wow. I didn’t see that coming.”

The longer finish is equally thrilling, bearing itself out with spices and pineapple cream cheese. Again, wow. That was unexpected.

For the record, I fully intend to sip and savor this whisky while enjoying whichever flick I can talk Madeline into watching next. I don’t know which it will be, just yet. Although, I’m thinking we should shoot for “The Exorcist.”

On second thought, we’ll skip that one, and not because it’s too scary, but because she’s seen what I go through on a daily basis at the church. It’ll feel more like a documentary than a horror flick. Maybe we’ll give “The Silence of the Lambs” or “The Shining” a try.