My Great British Baking Show Obsession

download

 

Here I am, watching a show about, um, baking stuff. A reality show, at that! About mixing ingredients, yeast, dough, sauces, showstoppers! I ‘discovered’ this show about a year ago and have been an obsessive weirdo ever since. It’s my version of lithium, my version of a sedative that keeps me from GOING INSANE IN THE MEMBRANE.

I think, honestly, it’s the calm British voices and the intense concentration of the various bakers that send me into moist-eyed near-still viewings of this baby. I must admit, also, to enjoying the products that arrive from the chaos of flour and frowny faces. The four-layer sponges frosted with piped on buttercream roses in different colors, the elaborate presentations of tiny pastries filled with creamed walnuts and lemon curd, the homely scones, the how did they get their pies to look like that pies; the simple cookies that must all be THE EXACT SAME SIZE AND LOOK ALL THE SAME. How things look really, really counts.

Selasi’s-Three-Tiered-Ombre-Floral-Cake.jpg
It actually did almost end up this fancy. Time runs out, what can you do?

I’m also learning how to be a better baker myself and to want to attempt braided breads and baked puddings and French pastries with those frou-frou names. I want to wade into those rich flavors! Mint and raspberry and cardamom and hazelnut and white chocolate and…! Everything seems made of butter and castor sugar. [Powdered sugar? Sugar from Castor?]

the sun.jpg
from the Sun

And the British measurements confundle me a bit but then I relax and just go with it. A gram of this, a bit of that, ooh la la–giant multi-layered cake with exotic fillings decorated with hand-made chocolate silhouettes of Man City players. [I know there are two soccer teams in Manchester. I did not learn that from the GBBS.]

I also planted a bit of a garden but that’s quite another post. I just planted  some dill and Greek oregano, each protected a bit by an old tire and an end cut off a big plastic pipe.

I also thrill with the great triumphs that come out of the various ovens and nearly cry at the failures that come out of the various ovens. My stomach hurts as I wait for the judges, two stoic British stalwarts named Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, to murmur their pronouncements. Good or bad? That’s a good bake. What happened here? The nods. The pitying smiles as they tap a bit of underdone bread. The tasting of cake that looks pretty but apparently tastes like imitation vanilla cookies run over by a two-decker bus. The technical challenges nearly always makes me go very still, hardly breathing as the remaining bakers who survived the week before’s letting go, rush about trying to all bake the exact same thing. The camaraderie that seems very genuine among the contestants. The hugs given out when something goes oh so very wrong. 

I have no idea who those two others are that wander about and crack jokes. The ones that announce what’s what and call out the time remaining, etc. Those two? I can’t remember their names. But the show would not seem the same delightful casserole without their presence. Anyone for a biscuit? Which, by the way, means something entirely different in ‘murica. It’s not a cookie. It’s, well, an actual biscuit, you British tosspots. 

Back to the technical challenge musings!

Usually some obscure, very fiddly recipe that they’ve NEVER HEARD OF. A Danish tower of circles, sprinkled with powdered pistachios, with icing piped on it…meant to look like a Christmas tree. Each circle of pastry/cookie, whatever it was, had to be gradually smaller and smaller. The results were…varying. One poor bloke seemed to have skipped the pistachio bit altogether and his vaguely tree-like creation just looked like a stack of weird donut-like circles with icing sprayed near it. I wanted to pat him and say, oh, that’s too bad. In my best posh British voice, of course.

download (1).jpg
Kransekeke. What it’s supposed to look like

Pastry dough must be cold before it’s used, or the butter or lard will melt.

images.jpg
Mary Berry

I’ll not go on too much longer about one of my fave shows. If you have no idea what I’m writing about here…go check it out if you like reality cooking shows pitting one baker against another. Or even just a rather gentle, very family-friendly, so veddy British confection. I do also know there are variations of this show– even an American one. Which they, those at ABC, aired during the Christmas season last year. However, it went away because the American judge had been a bit dodgy with a contestant. The #MeToo movement had led that person to speak up so ABC decided to air something else entirely rather than air already filmed episodes.

Anyway!

The GBBS calms me. Soothes me. Makes me a happy little clam. I thrill over a hard technical challenge and mourn when someone’s pastry won’t bake as it should. I marvel over the lovely cakes produced in a three-hour time limit. My cakes taste okay but they look like shite. I need to work on my presentation, oh yes.

I also use cake mixes a lot, with my grandmother’s words echoing through me about how cakes had to be made from scratch in her day and how marvelous you can just buy a cake mix. One already mostly assembled for you! She was truly amazed and happy one could just go to a grocery store and pick out a box with a pretty cake on front. And add water, eggs, oil and get a cake. It was a modern wonder to her. My gran would have LOVED this show. Oh my lordy, she would have flipped her home permed curls over all that baking and attempted some of it herself, all while smoking a Pall Mall and turning up her hearing aid a bit. But she was quite the excellent baker herself. I won’t go down memory lane here, I promise. 

Umble pie– where the servants in a household were fed the innards of an animal, usually a deer, enclosed in a pie crust. Which gave rise to the phrase– humble pie. The more you know.

slide_4.jpg

Please note I’ve not talked about Honest Women or my BOOKS WHICH ARE ON SALE RIGHT FREAKING NOW SO BUY BUY BUY. I’ve kept to my single topic of British baking shows. I want that noted and on the record, please.

cheshire life.jpg
from Cheshire Life. Paul Hollywood and pie, steamed pudding, something very British?
Advertisements

Pipes Cleared

March2018seeds 017
The seed packets were four for a dollar at the Dollar Store. I can’t even! It really is international happy day!

Oh my, I’ve been distracted from finishing Honest Women. It’s raining. Therefore, I will spend moments today composing dialogue designed to tell a story. I do too have a damn story, shut up! Where were we?? Oh yes!

Pipes cleared. More or less. I have recovered from that surreal St. Pat’s Beckett loop a bit. Have not forgotten it, but the inner tide of WTF is Happening Here??? has subsided a wee. Enough to let me laugh at manatees appearing to smooch or a cat making a dog flip upside down when that cat attacks it from around a corner or when a giraffe catches its reflection in a mirror. Tee hee.

I also have a short play [Mystery Meat Molly is the title and I have the tale to go with it, I just need…yeah]  stewing in my head, cooking a bit in the inner casserole pan, as I mull over how to get it from said inner casserole pan to said page. And then clean it up, put page numbers to the pages, polish it a bit, then send it off to await judgment. Where people picking plays for this or that will go LOVE IT MUST PRODUCE FOR MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. It’s my version of playing the lottery. Ooooh!

I bought seeds.

To plant.

I plan to have a small garden and put in some straw flowers as well. [Bachelor-Buttons.] The best laid plans of mice and writerly gals…!

I did find a spot that’s out of the way and within easy reach of water for the veggies. No one will pee on it or throw chemicals on it thinking it just a patch of weeds or throw beer cans among the tender shoots beating all the odds to rise above the dirt at all. It will get some sun but not sun all day. It will also avoid the lawn mower, as it’s between the front lawn and the back lawn, this patch o’ground. I need to get some fertilizer– a small sack of manure. [Dried animal shit. Or some assorted somewhat natural substance that plants like.]

I need to jump back into my full-length and get ‘er dunnn. However you spell that most annoying ‘murican phrase since the last most annoying ‘murican phrase.

Is HW a comedy? A searing drama on the feminist mystique? A take-down of organized religion? A…ah, an homage to other playwrights and writerly sorts who played with structure, time, what a story is, etc? Yeah! Let’s go with that last one! OMG THE AVENGERS FIGHT SOME GUY LOOKS TOTALLY AWESOME…gosh, it really does, all feeble banter aside.

Okay! To sum up. I am partially, not at all, recovered from the relatives and their Beckett Fox News Waiting for Reagan time loop wafflings. I plan to have a tiny garden. I plan to finish my ode to the Avengers, the Honest Women…wait a minute! Sounds good, I’ll let that stand.

Note: it’s not an ode to the Avengers. Sorry. I’d probably get sued and my finances register at about twenty bucks, and I need that to buy fertilizer. And chocolate. Oooh. Or maybe I can buy a baby chick or two, and raise them to avenge my honor. Oooh! I have so many plans in my head. So many!

Help Me, Sexy Jesus

March2018storms 005
Molly looking for lives to take beneath a churning sky.

I don’t know what to write. Should I take several years off before composing a blog post or essay or rhyming couplet about my Afternoon with Foxpanzees? Do I fling my fiery sobbing words into some sort of incoherent stream of consciousness shriek for the one or two that actually read my stuff to try deciphering? Or just…dribble something out in the hopes I can start laughing at myself and all this? Before I go off to make signs to march or send off for survival muffin tins and coupons to buy sister-wives? I could go either way here. I have options!

jesus_dinosaur.jpg
from the Houston Chronicle. Yep, it was that kinda day with the relatives.

I spent a truly bizarre afternoon with the relatives. I heard things I can’t unhear. Here. Let me give an example.

Microbes that eat oil. Now live in the ocean. And no spilled oil reaches the shore. Because of the microbes. That eat the oil all up. And they swim around looking for more oil. And we need more oil spills. Yeah. Those kids who go to clean animals are not needed or something. Yeah. Yeah. Microbes. Yeah.

No wait. There’s more. Also, did no one fact check anything they’ve heard screeched at them from talking heads and painted lips? Fact checking? Hello? Um. FACT CHECKING YOU FREAKING…yeah. 

Why can’t illegals just get their green cards and be legal? How hard is that? It takes like a month. They drive over the border and kill people, like that one in San Francisco and then they drive back. He’s suing the government. That guy who killed that woman, he killed five others, the liberals want him to go free. Liberals liberals the liberals those liberals.

Nanci Pelosi is an extreme conservative in California. [Did I bring up the concept of purity politics and how they are splintering the Democrats? No, I did not.]

California, liberals, crazy, everyone moving away, California, liberals, crazy, everyone moving away, liberals. Regulations regulations liberals liberals liberals. [All the nuttiness and bad stuff in Idaho happens because of California liberals, by the way. Same in Oregon. Oh my, do Ore-Ida folks hate Cali peeps. I can’t even. I can’t even here.]

Obama had 1600 regulations he put on us, all executive orders. Trump has undone 750 of them. That colored man [Obama] blah something something and they call me a white racist when I disagree with him? [Yes, you are a racist. Yes, you are. Own it. You are a racist, you hate “coloreds”, as you’ve stated since I could understand that loud noise coming from mommy meant stuff. You won’t watch most sports because there are too many ‘colored’ playing in them. Own it. Yes, you are a racist.]

Liberals are trying to take our guns. They were punishing kids who sat out the protest. [No, they were punishing kids who went to the 17 minute walkout.] Let those kids eyeball a guard with a gun on his hip, that will teach them. [When there was a guard at Parkland. There was a guard at Columbine. At…]

They took God out of schools. That’s what’s wrong. [Point for point NRA selling points followed. Damn spooky.]

Do you think raffling off an Ak-47 will hurt the VA? [As the relatives raffle off guns to help raise funds for the local VFW chapter.]

We want to raffle off four guns this time. [Patter followed on all four guns. Make, model, etc. I zoned out like a dippy little bee.]

Regulations that safeguard water, air and soil bad bad bad. Liberals bad. Obama added all these regulations. [Obama seems to be King Regulation. ?]

Your neighbor can turn your land into a wetlands with the snap of a finger and you lose your farm land. [Paranoia? Who’s telling people this? We live in a high desert area. Wetlands ain’t really a big concern here.]

THE LIBERALS THE DEMOCRATS THE LIBERALS THE DEMOCRATS!!!

March2018storms 041.jpg
It’s okay. Throw this stick for me, you’ll feel better, said Jake with his eyes.

Oh and it went on and on.

I had to leave the table, where everyone had the voice tone of those who discuss the Illuminati as if they actually exist and are about to take over the world. That earnest, hushed, children telling ghost stories about a campfire…but they’re all adults who should fucking know better.

I watched adults, who were supposed to be the non-snowflakes, the non-liberals…become raving loons. Surreal does not seem enough of a word for that drawing down of a foggy veil of conspiracy theories, outright lies believed and then told as absolute truth and the sneering at anything remotely considered ‘left’. And then the not so sly sidewall of eyes directed at me…yep, I’m the Charlie Manson at the table, uh huh.

It was like watching my relatives through a smoke screen, is the nearest I can get to what happened. As my ears tried to close up shop rather than listen to Right Wing Talk hammer away at common decency, common sense and…some other stuff. That needling pound of the nonsense hammers on the happy blissful, angry, fearful, angry angry angry human nails on my poor ears. Puk puk puk!

As it was St. Pat’s day, it was rather like a moment from Waiting for Godot, except it was real life and you can’t go get a snack at half-time and then return for Act II, which is, as everyone knows, just a slight variation of Act fucking One! Thanks, Beckett. My relatives are all caught in a Waiting for Godot loop! Help me, Sexy Jesus!

meme generator.jpg
from Meme Generator. Thanks, Google. 

A smoke screen with hammers pounding away and there’s nails and sound effects happening in my head. Then, just that humming silence when you turn your brain off before YOU START SCREAMING AND THROWING THE BOWL OF DIP AT THE NEAREST WALL WHILE INVOKING THE POWERS OF DARKNESS TO TAKE YOU TO THE BEACH FOR THE REST OF THE DAY. As sending your entire family to hell is such a liberal, Antifa, crisis actor, Nancy Pelosi thing to do.

sexy jesus.jpg
I don’t know who this is or who took it. But diversity is important when it comes to Sexy Jesus images.

I went to the other room rather than explode and scream and probably start crying from sheer frustration at how empty my relatives must be to buy that poisonous crap. And then regurgitate it so faithfully. With such erudite precision. Yes, they all look at me as if I’m the monster in the room. Because I’m a bit of a liberal. Which is right up there with being a bit like Jeff Dahmer these days.

No, seriously. That’s the impression I got. That I get. From the ‘other side’. Liberals are classed with serial killers, mass murderers, lunatics, cray cray sorts of all sorts. Have you not read the comments section under…? Yeah. So, you do know. Yeah.

Example of that from Twitter: 

The left is obsessed with AR-15s when we all know what the most dangerous assault weapon in America is; Liberalism! Liberalism is an assault on our Judeo Christian values and morals. Liberalism is an assault on our Constitutional freedoms and liberties. Liberalism=Death. Elder Lansing

I’m an agent for death! Whee. Yay. Hurrah. 

March2018storms 001.jpg
When is Obama gonna come get our guns so Hillary can start that war again? Wheee.

I remember, vaguely, corned beef and some small red round potatoes and a roll. I don’t like cooked cabbage so I didn’t have any. I remember horseradish. And a Coke. And clouds piling up over the Owyhees. Those big gorgeous stormclouds of spring that truly delight me and remind me why I love Eastern Oregon. Those gigantic spring storms that just rip the sky apart and smear it with clouds that go on for miles and miles. Those clouds that look painted by some beginning art student. That not-real collection of clouds that look like a post card.

March2018storms 066.jpg
Ignore the odd bits of metal, look at the sky part. See what I mean?

I’ll end this therapy session with a woeful confession that aye, I should have stayed home. Let them have the talk they really must have wanted to have. I no more fit in with them than I…ever did.

And now it’s painfully obvious, since I cannot embrace their new/old views with a glad heart and nodding head, that I must gently retreat. And hope I find the social courage, if I am ever in their company again, to start screaming.

Let them see just how crazy ass crazy this liberal actually is beneath her contorting, lips glued shut, face. The horror on their faces, the nodding as they all turn on me, ready to watch me bleed and suffer. A real live liberal in their midst…I am the enemy.

That’s what I felt like today. The enemy. That on a battlefield, they’d put two in my head and then call me a snowflake as they did it. With the Glock that would be raffled off. Help me, Sexy Jesus. I fear I am past saving. I’m a liberal, after all.

vote-satan-hillary-clinton-hillaryclinton-bill-barack-obama-democrats-liberals-left-party-secretary-of-state-U.S.-americans-motivational-posters-war-egypt-libya-middle-east.jpg
from Patheos. I believe this comes from the Alex Jones gentle, nice collection of stuff and things
March2018storms 069.jpg
Jake and Molly and the unsettled spring sky, hunting between two fields readied for spring planting.  Go in peace, fellow babies. 

Green

 

Picturechina 243
From, yes, a St. Pat’s pub crawl in…Shenyang, China. 

Oh so the skies are a’meltin’ and the birds be building homes in the wakening trees. Yours truly is flubbergating over yet another restart of Honest Women and trying to give herself leprosy rather than attend a St. Pat dinner at the relatives. I’d rather gouge my eyes out for Jesus than endure the carping of Fox  well-trained seals still waiting for Hilary to be arrested…no, not kidding. There is no kid here. The kids have left the building, to hunt down the real Elvis. 

So!!

I find myself waffling, like a giant lady waffle, over WHAT THE HELL IS THE STORY for my full length Honest Women, instead of just, um, writing and letting whatever lorch onto the screen/page. Lorch is such a spot-on word for vomiting. I can’t even. Are the children still using–I can’t even– as a catchphrase? Do I need to move on?

However, I wrote thirty some pages yesterday. My fingers flew like yard robins. Things coalesced. Themes emerged from the murky swamps. Those murky dirty swamps that one swims in and often drowns many times over within before deciding such and such is crap and thus–goodbye forever. Or decides such and such needs a total ass-kicking rewrite from scratch. There’s options here.

Basketball plagues the airwaves and the minds of hearty, flag-wavin’ ‘muricans right now. A plague on all your brackets! I don’t care and could care less if Seton Hall defeats Satan in a thrilling overtime deathmatch involving flamethrowers, those Mad Max cars and naked female mud wrestlers straddling ‘gators. Nope! March Madness is just basketball. It bounces, it goes in the net, it bounces. It overshadows Women’s History Month…coincidence?? Huh. Prolly not. Ahem.

WomensHistoryMonth_2015 affinity magazine.jpg
from Affinity Magazine, 2015

How come women get a whole month? When will it be Men’s History Month??

Yep. Yep yep yep. Head. Explode. Ah.

I didn’t have a cohesive topic for a blog post, but since my pattern seems to post on Friday or Saturday or any other day of the week, I thought I’d gather a few rando notions and force them into the same vague essay-ish lorch.

To sum up– am reworking Honest Women YET AGAIN BECAUSE I GET TO ACT TWO and I wonder…who the fuck is gonna want to sit through this shit? And then start a new version, where, eventually, I will consider the poor audience members suffering through this dreck and then restart YET AGAIN BECAUSE WAH. Yeah, that’s my super-secret writing process, laid out in surgical precision and coldly logical robotic terms.

Trying to get leprosy or just calmly state, no thanks…for the St. Green feast of corned beef and America First.

Some other piddlings to fill in the sparse content a bit.
Though…I’d probably have material for about ten blog posts if I attended the St. Green’s feast of corned beef and America First but oh my blessed baby Jesus and pint of Guinness Stout…IT’S JUST NOT WORTH LOSING MY SOUL OVER. Satan, after all, has first dibbs on that poor, battered bit of swamp gas that floats in me with a bewildered puzzlement nearly all hours of the day or night.

tee republic.jpg
from TeeRepublic. Look at me, challenging the notions of what’s wrong and right in this world!
Picturechina 244.jpg
This is the start of the night, at the Green Mile. Notice the wearin’ o’ the green…notice that. 

The Dude Abides

 

images
from ebay. 

I was younger then. A sprat in the great garden of life. This movie, so many said, is the funniest thing since Duck Soup. It’s got a dash of Beckett and a smearing of the Muppets! Nobody said that, but that’s the praise that floated about for the cult classic known as the Big Lebowski. It was both highbrow indie art secret inner circle fare AND a lowbrowish fart joke, boobies out, lots of cussing lowest common denominator sorta popcorn flick. I sat through it, young sprat that I was, and went…eh.

Jeff Bridges, one of my favorite actor type people, shuffled through this trainwreck of a movie where nothing happened and he got a rug and then it ended. Or did he get his rug back? Ugh!

Also, this guy Bridges played whined like a stepped on puppy the entire six hours of this movie! How many hours was the Big Lebowski?? Ugh times two. I liked the music. Yep. That was what I basically took away from this Coen effort. The music was okay. I had no desire to watch the Dude shuffle through Los Angeles scenarios like a bewildered whiny, well, Fozzy Bear. [Which is probably not quite the right Muppet.]

Anyhoo!

Fade in, years later–

way marketing mou8ntain home
from Way Marketing. This is from Mountain Home but still…!

I’m at the Idaho Youth Ranch. It’s a local thrift store, right next to the Canned Food store. Which, if you don’t know, is a bargain basement sorta discount grocery outlet joint. Cheap, past the date stuff, cleaning products, VO5 shampoo.

So! There I am, at the Idaho Youth Ranch, plucking through the VHS tapes. Which are, like fifty cents or so. The DVD’s are, like, two bucks or so. Just so you get an idea of price range and options. The paperbacks go for about fifty cents or so, hardbacks a dollar or so…mostly because they have stacks and stacks of books, not because they’re trying to save YOU, THE CONSUMER, any cash. As the books used to be quite pricey which is why they didn’t move very many of them…so, the commies win that one. Dang commies. Anyhoo!

There it is. The Big Lebowski. In a battered VHS jacket. A rather comfortable gold-ish hue.

Eh, I figure. Why not. I can have it on in the background as I…write. It’s cheap. Jeff Bridges is in it. [I might have a bit of a crush on Mr. Bridges. Don’t tell anyone.]

I have my VHS/DVD combo hooked up to my truly ancient Sanyo at home. I have since had to unhook that and replace it with a DVD player, bought at the Idaho Youth Ranch. Fifteen bucks. I was rolling in dough back then.

And thus begins the second phase of my Big Lebowski Spring Awakening minor epiphany.

Fade out!!

The Dude. Everyman sort of character, wandering through a rather Apocalyptic ***if you use this term three times in a single document, Jesus shows up and tells you ‘No butt stuff, go Patriots!’ before returning to heaven–I heard this on Fox News, hand to Satan*** vision of Los Angeles, encountering devils and angels in his simple quest to replace his rug.

He doesn’t change a whit. Not a single lesson doth he learn. He doesn’t go on any sort of inner spiritual journey, which is the damn hallmark and actual lodestone of Western Lit and Western filmmaking. The Dude ‘abides’, which is the famous quotable quote from this film. From being attacked by a ferret in the bath to his friend dropping dead to a snit fit over the Eagles, he abides. He abides. That’s, as I’ve pointed out earlier, rather radical storytelling.

As who has not been taught that ‘something’ has to happen, when telling a tale of some kind? Remember those writing classes, kiddies? I barely do! But I’m no longer a sprat. I’m a gone to seed faded sprout! Sad face. Big sad face here.

Are we not lectured on the arc of a story? We start here at X, something happens, there’s a climax, the end. We assume the hero [rarely the heroine] learns something or is changed in some way, for the better. The hero changes. Something happens. Stuff adds up at the end. There’s a reason for why that stuff happened.

The Big Lebowski says nuts to that.

Which is probably why I went, eh, and didn’t embrace its laid back radicalism. After all, some guy having absurd encounters while taking time now and then to bowl– just not my cup of sarsaparilla. I have plebian tastes in movies, I like em simple. Things blow up, stuff happens, things blow up, big speech, things blow up, the end.

Back to the BL!!

Classic-Narrative-Arc pinterest

Storytelling. Ah. BL says nuts to traditional ways and means to tell a story. What is the story here, in BL? Is it about a rug? About the Dude? About consumerism? About porn? About Vietnam? Conservative versus liberal? White Russians are the bomb? Is there a story here? Isn’t Sam Elliot dreamy? That voice! Like rough velvet and those twinkly blue eyes!

I might have a bit of a crush on Sam Elliot, too. Oh gosh, I’m revealing so much of myself with this post. Damn it.

original
Jeff Bridges as the Dude and Sam Elliot as that other dude in the Big Lebowski

I just know that if I turned in something like the Big Lebowski to a writing teacher, I’d have been told to rewrite it so that ‘something happened’ and there was a pay off of some kind. Or not. They, those that taught various writing classes and such, might have just shrugged, given me a passing grade so as not to deal with me further and forgotten my efforts entirely.

Now, I’ve seen Fargo. And the Coen remake of the John Wayne magnum opus, True Grit. Which, to me, didn’t quite fire on all cylinders. There was something lacking in it. It had gorgeous scenery, the acting was okay…eh. I can rewatch it and not get sick. So, yeah.

I’ve enjoyed the comedy stylings– O Brother Where Art Thou. We thought you were a toad! I thought they did a bang up job with No Country For Old Men. [That hair cut!! That hair cut gave me nightmares. Now that’s a film.]

I didn’t ‘get’ the Big Lebowki until I’d lived a bit. Until, like the Dude, I’d been tossed about by a truly indifferent life and thrown away to root, hog or die. I get it now. It’s…yeah. There’s no reason for any of this and then the credits roll. Yep. The BL is a metaphor for life itself. Gag me with a spoon, rightio? I should leave my house once in a while?? You get born, you live, you do a lot of drugs, you go bowling, you do stuff that doesn’t pan out, then you die. Amen.

I can go on in this vein for some time. That it’s all for nothing. You strive like a motherfucker, do most of it right, die anyway and…we don’t ever find out if what you did was all worth a hill of beans during a shitstorm. The Dude drinks his White Russians, grieves over his rug which brought the room together and bowls with his buddies, and he’s happy. He complains, but he’s generally a content sort without too much worry or stress. He’s that guy who drifts on life’s waters and bumps gently up against this or that with no real visible damage. And don’t we all know one of those sorts? That floating through life like a balloon sorta person? They just nudge and bounce against the walls and ceiling and then find a way out into the sky through an open window. And float away with a ‘well, fuck me, look at that’ smile of beautified indifference for it all.

So maybe, we watching are the story. Maybe we’re the journey. Which is a bit uncomfortable and high-falutin’. Maybe the BL is performance art! Talk about being precious and elitist! Probably communist, as well.

“They” were screeching about commies elsewhere, as the fear of commies under every bed is back with a bullet, baby!– this morn. So I find myself grinning and including commie references into this rambling take of the Coen Brothers ode to bowling, rugs and abiding dudes.

original_the-big-lebowski-art-print mondo mosaic
from Mondo Mosaic– art print of Big Lebowski. 

 

 

FROTHY KITTENS

 

. Bilbo the Hobbit riding a Unicorn - iPad Sketch by mystery monotreme
Bilbo the Hobbit riding a Unicorn – iPad Sketch | by mystery monotremeon

I wish to post something a bit lighter this time. It’s March, the ground squirrels in the yard dart about and the moon seems extra bright all night with its ghostly light. I saw a cat trotting down the side of the road. A black and white beastie with a clear agenda. As cats seemed to have disappeared from my area, it was rather like watching a unicorn trot by, with a hobbit seated on its back, both munching toast. It was just like that. That sense of actual wonder and delighted eyeballs and spring about to act like spring, no matter what the snowflakes and feminists claim about global heating.

I’ve yet to re-see that cat. Maybe I dreamed it. Maybe all of life, this life, this life I think real, is a dream. Wah. I’m actually hooked up to a machine harvesting my fluids for lizardlord martinis.

Outer space lizardlord martinis!! 

Oh the horror, the horror…!

I am, yes, bowels deep, in a rewrite of Honest Women. No, am not sharing anything from that other than…INVISIBLE WINGED TAPE WORM. I bet you now wish to sit through two hours of that! Yes, you do!

I note that the kiddies are yet agitating.

Oh those kiddies! Can’t they go back to eating Tide Pods and let the grown ups wring their hands and offer thoughts and prayers in peace?? After all, Jesus will come back soon to clean up America’s border problems and bitchsmack the liberal elite with some common sense non-college knowledge. LOL, kiddies!

Where was I?

Something frothy and light in between the doomy gloomy posts. Um. Oooh.

Today is both Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s birthday and the twentieth anniversary of the Big Lebowksi. That…that cannot be a coincidence. The Dude abides can apply to both of those facts.

Now, it took me many years to accept that the BL was, indeed, a movie I wished to watch more than once. I ‘didn’t get it’ for quite some time. I found that movie annoying as a basket of not-fluffy kittens. I, being a Jeff Bridges fan, just shrugged it off as ‘eh, he’s done better work’. And then I watched it again, on VHS, which I bought for about fifty cents at my local thrift store. True story! I had fifty cents! 

I ‘got it’, gradually. It ‘rang some bells’ in me. That drifting, rather harmless, Everyman, rubbing shoulders with the absurd, the bungled and the botched, the gorgeous and the damned alike and escaping all this intact, with no visible change or journey experienced. This is truly extremist storytelling. It’s rather…radical. It’s a sly slap at writing teachers who tell ya you have to have some kinda character arc, damn it, Janet.

The Dude at the center of this sprawling, very long slow mud-wrasslin’ sorta world…never changes. He doesn’t grow, he doesn’t learn a fuckin’ thing. He isn’t going to clean up his act and fly right. He’s…I tell ya, watch movies on VHS, it’s a transformative experience.

And my VHS/DVD combo player, yes, I still have one…only plays the VHS side these days. I have to keep it cleaned, as the door that drops down over the VHS part broke off eons ago. Frothy kittens, indeed! I have boxes yet of VHS movies. They’re very cheap now. I do mean cheap and…they don’t get scratched.

I am truly a dinosaur in the modern tech world. I don’t do ‘streaming’. I’m not even sure what that is. Sad! I do know what it is, I do. I was making a feeble, shallow jest.

I should just do a post on the Big Lebowski. I, apparently, have ‘thoughts’ about it.

DXmJoF3W0AElQOw.jpg
Jeff Bridges, in a scene from the Big Lebowski. Coen Brothers. 

I have no such Bank of America depths toward Marquez, however. Isn’t that odd? Or truly American. Mm. He is Colombian. A foreigner. We should be reading American authors! Do we have any?? Bring em on! Have some wall, Marquez!! LOL, just LOL all over your bottom!

So!

I am in Act Two of my rewrite. I am just writing. I don’t care if anyone ever produces it. I’m having fun.

And then I start sobbing because no one will probably ever produce it, unless I mount a production somewhere close by and I’d have to find seven women and try and explain that the tape worm is invisible and that the plant is dead, it’s supposed to be dead. Yes, I meant to type those words, no you can’t change them…oooh, yes, change them to that, I like that so much better! Wah!!

Oh look, there’s Bilbo Baggins riding by on Hornio, the neighborhood unicorn who voted, ironically, for Jill Stein in the last presidential election because votes don’t count. Or maybe that’s just a black and white, very busy and important, cat trotting by. It’s all fake news anyway.

frank-whitehouse-wheeltod-thanksgiving-at-the-in-laws-me-patting-wifes-29025568.png
the odd stuff you find while Googling ‘tape worm’. 

THE WINDS OF MARCH

tree 005
The actual old cottonwood. 

Oh hello, new month!

Last night, the winds blew. I mean BLEW. Freight trains rumbling through the very air. Thunder going crack crack, lightning, the whole grand cosmic main stage show at play last night in the heavens above Malheur County. I waited for the old cottonwood, which likes to shed dead large branches on vehicle or roof alike with bad-natured tree laughter, to shed a dead bit of lumber atop the house or even to fall over with a last maniacal snicker. It’s a very real fear we share here at Castle Wuehler. When will that old cottonwood give up the ghost and smash us to bits in the middle of the night? When O Lord, when?

It makes life ‘interesting’. Uh huh.

So!! I really have no topic I wish to explore in shallow, easily digested slickness. Gun control talk rages like a Los Angeles wildfire for now and that’s rather surprising. It seems the kiddies have stirred up the giant pot indeed, those kiddies from Parkland. And people think those teenyboppers should stop being disrespectful and go back to selfies and eating Tide Pods or whatever the kiddies are doing nowadays…yep. Because taking actual action after a shooting is just so…selfish or something. Or, it’s all a conspiracy, by the left, to take away guns. Mm. If you’ve been near the newz, of any kind, from America, well. And of course the Big Solution to shootings at a school is to…arm the teachers. More guns! WE NEED MORE GUNS. If everyone is armed! Then! Uh! Whee!

It’s rather funny if you don’t live here in America. It’s funny stuff. It’s absurdly richly funny stuff. And you hope the so-called grown ups are not serious. Except they are. In Pennsylvania, a church had a ceremony honoring AR-15’s. Praying for the guns. I. Can’t. My. Brain. Ooooh. Help. help help…Though, that church ceremony, which puts a gun where Jesus usually goes, might help turn the mighty American Gun-Lovin’ tide. Or not. Or not! Who the fuck prays over a weapon like one would pray over a dying kitten? God damn it! What the fuck is wrong with my country?? I blame Big Pharma, Big Agriculture and lack of Afterschool Specials!

So!! Before I meander into truly dark dystopian waters, waiting for that old cottonwood to crush us all beneath her bug-riddled carcass, let’s whiffle over to PROJECTS.

What has captured my writerly attentions?

The Honest Women. A play. Stop, come back, I am not sharing from it. Calm down. Seriously, excerpts from someone’s play makes people puke a bit. It’s like a learned response. Oh you wrote a play? [Taste of puke in back of throat.]

It’s in rewrite territory. I am reworking it.

For an indifferent set of rascals who will sniff somewhere near it, when I get it rewritten, pages numbered and sent off to various places. Those rascals will then reject it, and might even bother sending the form rejection letter about how many submissions they got and how they’d rather choose someone’s shopping list at the Dildo Store than your ‘play’. Usually, that rejection letter is so generic, they don’t put your name or the name of your submission anywhere in it! Fun!

Or not! Life is a capricious clam at high tide, after all!

I laugh as I type on that play, so that’s a good sign. Ha ha, I go aloud. Ha ha. Spinach wrap. Tape worm. White zombies. There are no zombies in my play, don’t worry. Or tape worms. Not yet, anyway. Not yet.

I don’t normally venture over into vaguely comedic territory, though I’ve been told I’m funny. By people rather off-put by my dark, dismal prose, plays or poetry. You’re funny, you should write more funny stuff, was their vague, damning praise.

Which renders me into a truly sad little muffin.

Trying to please people with my ‘funny’ writing, which goes about as well as you’d expect. As comedy must come from an honest savage raw place, so I’ve been told. By writing teachers who more than likely lied to me about my writing abilities. I also read that in collections of Important Quotes by Important Snots.  [Comedy comes from PAAAAAIIIIIIIINNNNNN ARGH]

And that universe of cyclone-strong doubt wallops me. What’s the point of writing anything at all?

And yet I write.

It’s an old moldy habit by now. It’s the only thing I have. I don’t have money or children or a life. It’s the only fucking thing I have that keeps me from slicing my wrists open or swallowing a thousand ibuprofen at one go. I know to take those pills in shifts or you just vomit them up. And then you’re just throwing up and not dead. Another failure!

I have made a bit of a vow to be brave. To write the words that are actually in my head and not censor that awful spewing. Like oh…not admitting I think about just ending it nearly every day. That it creeps across my inner stage like a comforting old friend. To not admit my innards and inner workings always swirl with giant storms and horse latitudes and despair and weird smirkings and that I’m just trying to make it through to the next hour at times. I have been swirling along in a near frenzy of up-ness for a couple months now. And now that’s cross-fading into that down-ness that infects me. Hello, depression, my old friend, have you come to fuck with me again…and bore what few friends I have left. Hurray! Oh those poor not so patient sorts who have to endure my sniveling, I salute you, dear friends still left. 

So, I’ll write. And watch, from somewhat afar, as kids burning with revolution and change, take on adults who’ve dropped the bullet down the rabbit hole. The kids, as they say, are all right.

And isn’t that a bit of hope offered in America’s twisted landscape at this moment? I think it is.

So, I will try to finish Act One today. And maybe submit to a few places, because it’s what I should do. You never know. They might like it. You never know. You never know. You never know. Come on, cottonwood, end it. I’m starting to think you’re just a big tease.